Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cuban Bread – Commence Operation Cubano Sandwich

I didn’t think I liked Cuban sandwiches, and even went so far as to publicly call them overrated, but it turns out I was eating them on the wrong bread. 

You can’t just use any old sandwich roll, and this fact was lost on me until I had one on the real deal. Shortly after finishing, I recanted every negative comment I’d previously made.

By the way, if you’ve never heard of a Cuban sandwich, stay tuned, because that will be the star of our next video. If you want to get a head start, besides practicing the bread, you’ll need some type of roasted, or pulled pork; and I’m happy to report we have many recipes that would work, including our famous paper pork, pulled pork, or carnitas.

One thing that makes this bread unique, besides the addition of lard, is the double-hit of yeast. We use dry yeast to start the dough, as usual, but also add a starter that we let ferment overnight. I assume that’s to provide a little extra flavor, as well as a some additional lift, but I didn’t want to do too much research, since I do enjoy a little mystery with these types of things.

Traditionally, some of the starter is saved, with a little fresh water and flour added, and kept in the fridge to make more bread. Not a bad idea, otherwise you can probably just add all of it to the dough. You’ll probably need a bit more flour, but as I stressed in the video, we’re going to be feeling for that anyway. So, stay tuned for the Cubano sandwich video, and in the meantime, I really hope you get this bread a try soon. Enjoy!

For the starter:
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
- mix well and refrigerate overnight

For the dough:
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
- mix and let stand 15 minutes
- add starter from day before (reserve 1/4 cup if you want to keep your starter going), plus:
3 tablespoons lard
2 teaspoons fine salt
about 3 cups flour, or as needed (I used 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
and 1 1/2 cups bread flour)
water to spray tops of loaves

Monday, January 16, 2017

Next Up: A Very Special Bread

Another long, holiday weekend has come and gone; and so another Tuesday video won't be posted until Wednesday. Hopefully it will be worth the brief wait. Stay tuned! 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pâté de Campagne – Finally, Something Complicated

Every once in a while, I get a food wish that has nothing to do with a specific recipe, but rather it’s a request to post something complicated, and challenging to do. Well, this country-style pâté is about as close as we’re going to get.

Calling this recipe complicated is sort of a stretch; "involved” would probably be more accurate. There are many steps, and the ingredient list isn’t short, but none of the techniques are very difficult, or particularly time-consuming.

Coarsely grinding the meat is probably the most crucial step, but as you saw, if the meat is very cold, the attachment on your stand mixer will do an adequate job. If you don’t have one, you can pulse on and off in a food processor, and as long as your meat was partially frozen, this will work.

Another option is just to place your meat order with a real butcher, and ask them to coarsely grind it all together for you, after which you can simply process the rest of your ingredients, and add them to your already ground meat and fat. Speaking of fat, I used some chopped up bacon, but virtually any kind of pork fat will work. 

If you do use bacon, either in the pâté, or to wrap with, I suggest using one that’s lightly smoked, so as not to overpower the rest of the flavors. Anyway, I realize this may seem like quite a production, but if you enjoy charcuterie, this would make for a very fun, beautiful, and quite delicious project. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for one Pâté de Campagne (16 portions):
1 1/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (aka “pork butt”), cut into one-inch cubes
6 ounces duck leg meat (meat removed from 2 or 3 legs)
4 ounces fatty bacon, chopped
4 ounces chicken livers, roughly chopped
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley
25 grams kosher salt (about 5 teaspoons)
1/8 teaspoon “instacure” pink curing salt
3/4 teaspoon *pate spice mix
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cognac or brandy
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
8-10 sliced of bacon, or a few sheets of caul fat to line the **mold

* For the Pâté Spice:
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

** My bread pan was a little smaller than standard, but a regular 9 x 5 inch loaf pan should work perfectly here.

-- Cook in water bath at 350 F. until internal temp of 155 F. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Charred Broccoli Beef – Broccoli Week Continues

I saw a charred broccoli salad online somewhere recently, and for whatever reason I had the idea to try the same technique for a fairly classic version of broccoli beef. Getting to burn food on purpose is always fun, and in addition to adding a whole extra layer of flavor, I love how this looks.

There’s never been a pretty broccoli beef, but I’d say this is at least handsome, and to make it even more attractive, feel free to double the sauce. The amounts below make just enough to glaze, plus a few extra tablespoons, so it you want lots of sauce to saturate your rice, you should probably make extra.

As I mentioned in the video, never use cooking sherry for cooking with sherry.  Just use sherry. The kind you drink. The good news is, we’re going to let you buy the cheapest bottle at the wine store. Cooking sherry tastes horrible, and has salt added to it, which was originally there so cooks wouldn’t drink it.

If you do make this, and you’re wondering why it doesn’t taste as good as the one from the Chinese takeout place, well, I can answer that in three initials, M.S.G. I’m not a fan of what it does the body, and don’t use it in my cooking, but if you do sprinkle some in, I think you’ll find it remarkably close. Plus, they’re not charring the broccoli. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions:

For the beef:
1 pound skirt steak
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the sauce:
1/4 cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons ketchup
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch (use 2 for a thicker sauce)

Final Assembly:
2 teaspoon vegetable oil (plus a little fat from frying the steaks)
3 cloves minced garlic
prepared sliced beef
1 pound broccoli florets, charred in hot oven with a few drops of oil
pinch cayenne
4 cups steamed rice for service