Friday, January 20, 2012

Making Beef Jerky

Beef Jerky is really easy to make if you have a smoker or food dehydrator. I have been recently experimenting with it lately and have been pretty pleased with the results.

Top Round Beef Jerky

5 lbs - thinly sliced top round
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
2 teaspoons fine ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion or onion powder
2 teaspoons granulated or powdered garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 level teaspoon pink salt
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar

Partially freeze the meat and thinly slice against the grain at approximately 1/4" thick. I use a meat slicer because that keeps everything uniform so it dries evenly in the dehydrator. Mix marinade and marinate/cure for at least 12 hours.

Dehydrate at 160 degree's until it is dry but not brittle. Drying time varies due to thickness of the meat, humidity in the air, and the type of dehydrator you are using. Once it has cooled you can either vacuum seal it or store it in a zip lock in the fridge.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Best Hangtown Fry

The Hangtown Fry originated in the gold fields of California back in the 1850's. Legend has it that a miner struck it rich and went into a restaurant in Placerville, Ca and asked for the most expensive meal that they could make. The combination of fried oysters, eggs, bacon and cream was what they were able to come up with.

Our version isn't the original but I think you are going to like it a lot better even though you have to go through a couple of extra steps to assemble what is basically a frittata. We layer this dish in a way that doesn't allow any of the ingredients to overwhelm each other.

One pint extra small shucked oysters
1/2 lb of diced bacon
2 cups sliced mushroom
1 cup diced fried potato
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp chopped garlic
3 cups fresh spinach
6 eggs
1/4 cup  whole cream

1/4 cup butter

Oyster Breading

Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt and Pepper to taste

Soak the oysters overnight in buttermilk.

Preheat oven broiler to high.

Fry the bacon in an ovenproof skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon and fry the potatoes until crisp with the onions and set aside with  the bacon. Dredge the oysters in a mixture of flour, panko, and corn meal and deep fry for 90 seconds and set aside.

Add the potatoes, onions, spinach, mushrooms, garlic to a hot pan. Saute for a few minutes in hot butter then whisk in the eggs, cream, tabasco, and nutmeg. Fold into the pan while stirring at medium heat in the same you would make an omelet.

Broil in oven until eggs are set than take out and top with fried oysters, bacon, and Parmesan cheese. Place the frittata back under the broiler to finish cooking.

Divide into 4 portions and serve hot.

Langostino's in Taso Cream Sauce over Fried Polenta

We recently have had access to some nicely priced large bags of cooked and frozen Langostino's at our local Costco. Langostino's are tasty little slipper lobsters that are excellent in stews, soups, and pasta dishes. If you don't have access to langostino's just substitute some shrimp or scallops.

This is a great dish that has multiple levels of flavors and texture that is really easy to make. If you serve this at a dinner party people are going to really freak out because this is really good and it looks really pretty on the plate.

Fresh Polenta is something I really love to eat. There are just so many ways you can go with it. In this dish we keep it pretty basic but add some texture and color with the sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and garlic.

Langostino's in Taso Cream Sauce

1 lb langostino's
2 finely diced red peppers
1 small finely diced onion
2 stalks finely diced celery
1 tbsp crushed garlic
2 oz finely diced Taso Ham
1/4 cup butter
1 cup whole cream
Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
Cajun seasoning (to taste)

Dice celery, onions, peppers finely using a food processor. Melt butter in sauce pan and saute taso ham, crushed garlic, diced celery, onions, and red peppers until the onions are translucent. Add the Cajun seasoning and Worcestershire sauce. Add cream and bring to temperature without boiling and add the langostino's.

Serve over homemade fried polenta....see below.

Fried Polenta

1 cup yellow corn meal
4 cup water
2 tbsp butter
2 oz parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1 tbsp crushed garlic
2 tbsp finely diced sun dried tomato
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Bring four cups of water to a boil and then slowly add one cup of corn meal slowly to the water while stirring constantly for the next 15 minutes to make sure that there are no lumps and that the corn mush reaches the right consistency.

At the end of the fifteen minutes stir the butter into the mush followed by the Parmesan, sun dried tomato's and caramelized onions which were prepared earlier. Mix it up and pout it into a pan that was treated with cooking spray so nothing sticks to it and refrigerate for around an hour until firm.

Cut the Polenta into squares and fry until crispy in olive oil.


Cioppino originated in San Francisco's traditionally Italian North Beach neighborhood.

Local legend suggests that the name of the seafood stew originated from the custom of "chipping in" ingredients into a boiling pot after a day out on the bay fishing to create a communal meal.

Cioppino is a real simple dish that anyone can make. The freshness of the seafood and the layering of the flavors in the broth are two key elements to pay attention to.

In this recipe I use clam juice as a substitute for fish stock. Either works fine in the dish. I just happen to have a lot of clam juice on hand at all times because we are such clam chowder fiends. How you actually finish this stew with the fresh seafood without overcooking it is a trick that is easily mastered which I will share with you below.

52 oz clam juice or fish stock
16 oz diced San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup red wine
4 finely diced red and yellow sweet peppers
1 bunch diced celery
1 finely diced onion
2 oz chopped garlic
3 bay leaves
2 tbsp Italian spice
1 tbsp basil
Tabasco (to taste)
Salt and Pepper
1 Tbsp Olive oil

16 Steamer Clams
1/2 lb Bay Scallops
1/2 lb Langostinos
2 - 2 lb Dungeness Crabs
8 - U-15 prawns
16 Mussels

(Keep in mind that all the seafood ingredients can vary due to availability)

Finely dice the garlic, onion, celery, and red peppers in a food processor. Heat the olive oil in your pan and cook the vegetables until the onions become translucent. Add bay leaves, basil, italian spice, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the clam juice or fish stock. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and red wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for two hours which will allow the flavors to meld together

Once you are ready to serve add the mussels and clams to the broth and bring it to a boil. Continue boiling until the shells open. Reduce the temperature to a simmer and add the Langostino's and Prawns (make sure they are thawed). Cook them for approximately three minutes.

Prepare your eight serving bowls by dividing up the raw scallops and putting them into the bottom of the bowls.  Poor the steaming broth from the stew over the scallops and artistically divide the cooked seafood among the eight bowls. Scallops don't need a lot of heat or time so this insures that you and your guests are going to be eating perfectly cooked scallops.

Divide/cut your (cooked and cleaned) Dungeness crab into eight sections and hang it over the edge of the bowls with the legs sticking out and serve. The crab doesn't need much heat because it already cooked. Resist the temptation to dump it directly in the stew while cooking the mussels and clams. If you like it warm simply dip into the sauce as you eat it.

I like serving this with San Francisco sourdough garlic-butter toast points on the side.

Serves Eight