Sunday, November 29, 2009

Bresaola success

I got back in town after a week of wretched excess in Louisiana and checked on the goodies in my curing chamber.

1. The lonzino quickly got pitched in the trash. I am just too damned tired of fighting the green mold on this guy. Life is short, move on.

2. The bresaola had achieved a 42% weight loss and was covered in a very pretty white mold. I know that this mold is probably edible but since I was going to get the boy to eat some with me I simply didn't want to have a discussion about "white stuff". I was too tired. So I trimmed off the outer quarter inch and while doing so discovered that this was one BEAUTIFUL piece of meat. I wish I was more eloquent so I could describe just how incredibly gorgeous this dark red pile of protein was. Almost the color of dark cherry? Smelled wonderful. I had some plain and thinly sliced. It was enjoyed by me and the boy. I later fixed a small plate sliced thin with a fresh Meyer lemon out of my yard sliced even thinner and fresh cracked black pepper. Delicious.

Thanks to everyone who has blogged about this and offered advice, tips and suggestions. I started a new one today!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Four Days of Frying, part 2

Alright, after all the comments that my last blog generated I know that everyone is on the edge of their seats waiting to hear about the remainder of the Fry Festival. First off, we drove my kids nuts by declaring it was Fryday for four straight days.

On the second Fryday (Thursday) we fried two 14 lbs turkeys that had both been injected with massive amounts of creole butter. they took about 50 minutes each and I swear they were freaking spectacular. This is how the Almighty wants us to eat turkey. Period.

After the Thanksgiving feast, when the guests had left and the gin was flowing we brought out the cookie dough that had been frozen overnight. Into the oil it went and it quickly turned into an oozing pile of oily goo. Strike two.

On the third Fryday we made crab rangoon, french fries, breaded cocktail onions and Thanksgiving eggrolls. The eggrolls were a damned good idea if I do say so myself. I took diced turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing and some shredded cheese and rolled them in eggroll wrappers. They fried up beautifully and it was a nice way to use up some leftovers. My nephew was getting into the frying spirit and took on the cookie dough challenge. He had been helping me make eggrolls and decided to wrap the cookie dough into a leftover eggroll wrapper. The kid has promise. It fried up beautifully. The cookie dough center was gooey and still "doughy" but highly edible. We have some ideas on how to improve on this next time. At this point lunch was over and we took naps.

Later in the evening we fried fresh Gulf shrimp and speckled trout. I had a complete failure when I tried to convert leftover sweet potato casserole into hush puppies. They dissolved into the same oozing balls of gunk that the cookie dough did. They can't all be winners.

And that brings us to the fourth Fryday, this morning. I woke up with a head full of juniper berries and a family that was ready to hit the road and get back to Texas. I was prepared...the fourth day could not pass without a fry session. And so I made up my batter and heated up the oil. After three cups of coffee the oil was ready and I had the kids gather round as I deep fried a platter of Twinkies. God help me but they were delicious.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Four Days of Frying

I am in Louisiana for Thanksgiving which means the turkey will be fried. We have been numb skulls in the past about this as every time we got out the big fryer we would say, "hey, let's throw in some chicken wings!" This would be soon followed by, "Hey, I've got a bunch of mushrooms, let's do those too." And so on and so on until it was time to finally sit down to the Thanksgiving feast at which point who in the hell could eat another bite?

And so this year we have either become much smarter or much dumber. We have extended the frying season to four full days and will keep our turkey frying session saved for just frying turkey.

We kicked off the Four Days of Frying yesterday in a fine fashion. Boneless Buffalo bites, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, jalepeno slices and olives all met the tender lovings of hot oil. They were served with a remolaude dipping sauce that I thought was pretty damn good. The sauce was about three parts mayo to one part good mustard. Throw in a bunch of minced garlic, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt , pepper and a handfull of minced parsley. Highly reccomended. My biggest delight and disappointment was the fried olives. I loved them because I had never done them before and they turned out beautiful. On the negative side the flovor combination of fried batter and olive brine is not something that God intended me to eat. Some folks loved them.

In the evening we switched over to taquitos. We had some leftover pot roast that got chopped fine and mixed with cheese and jalepenos. This was rolled up in a corn tortilla and fried until crispy. Very, very good.

We followed the taquitos with what I would call the only failure of the day, fried cookie dough. It seemed like a helluva good idea and people were very excited. Turns out that the dough almost melted into the oil leaving behind an amorphous blob of gunk. We have not given up on this. Right now we have the dough rolled up in balls that are sitting in the freezer. I'll try to figure out some breading/protective coating for some of the balls, the other will go straight in as frozen. If this works it out to be killer with some ice cream.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cured Meat: Observations and questions

I placed my bresaola into my chamber a month ago at a weight of 725 grams. I weighed it today and found it to be 457 grams. It is not covered in, but has a fair amount of, white stuff. The white stuff is not fuzzy, green or black so I am assuming all is good in the world.

% weight loss = 100 * (725-457)/725 = 36.9%

I am shooting for 40% loss so I stuck it back in.

Q1. Is the same way other folks calculate weight loss? It seems straight forward to me but just want to check.

Q2. Is this much weight loss typical for 1 month? I thought this would be a 2-3 month process.

I have been curing a lonzino along side of my bresaola. Both of them were trussed with twine and hung without a casing. The bresaola was trussed with a hemp twine and the pork loin with butcher twine. What I saw some with my bresaola and to a massive degree with my lonzino is that I am getting green mold every place that the twine touches the meat. About every three days I am scrubbing my meat with vinegar to knock the mold down. Today I got disgusted and cut the twine off. My plan is to rest the lonzino on a cooling rack and rotate/flip it every day to avoid prolonged contact of the meat with the metal.

Q3. Anyone else have problems getting green mold when trussing with twine? I know Scott had an issue with this but looking at his picture it seems like the mold was away from the twine.

Another oddity about the lonzino…this guy weighed in at ~3 lbs. I applied a typical cure and let it sit for 11 days. After the first few days it released a lot of water. By the end of the cure the excess water had vanished. When I weighed it prior to hanging it had increased in weight by almost exactly how much cure I added. That it, the loin released the water and then sucked it back up.

Q4. Is it typical for a pork loin to reabsorb its expelled liquid?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November Hat Trick

November 1st offers a unique opportunity for folks on the Texas Gulf Coast; a hat trick. November 1st is the opening day of oyster season which coincides with the last weekend of dove season and a generally good time to catch redfish as the bulls start their run when the water temperature drops.

I started the day telling my boy that we were going to hunt the savage oyster. Needless to say he was not impressed at the thought. All the same I loaded him up and we headed out. Before we began our great oyster hunt we swung into a marsh and threw the cast net for a while. I got a few small mullet in my net and proceeded down to the intercoastal where we used them on a double leader to try to snag some reds. Long story...we didn't catch any reds but I will claim the mullet as my first part of the hat trick.

Then it was on to hunt the savage oyster, with much eye rolling from my son. It had been raining for a few days and the bay I wanted to get to was off the beaten path. There was a path mind you, just not much of one. I ended up throwing the jeep into 4WL and mud was flying. It was in our hair, in our ears and over every inch of the jeep. Now the boy is getting into the oyster hunt. When we finally get to my spot we jump out and start wading. In the excitement of the off-roading I had neglected to talk to the boy about the basics of oyster harvesting. He looks down, sees a nice clump of shells, graps the largest one and pulls. And at that point the score is "Savage Oyster" = 1 "The Boy" = 0. We had blood...the shells are sharper than hell and he sliced his finger pretty good. Bad Daddy. Before we left I pried one off with a screwdriver for part two of the hat trick.

Not long after the blood started flowing we got a call from my neighbor who finally got off work and wanted to go dove hunt. So off we went, put on some band-aids and loaded up with our hunting gear. We went to the local Wildlife Management Area and proceeded to see a ton of doves. Here is what I learned: doves fly fast, I am a bad shot with a 20 gauge and people who actually can shoot enjoy shooting dove more than eating them. So, after three hours of hitting nothing but air we left the WMA with 7-8 doves that other hunters eagerly gave us so they wouldn't have to deal with them.

Hat trick complete.

It wasn't pretty at any leg but I'll take it.