Friday, February 12, 2010

Show #9: A Valentine's Feast

Join us in professional chef Petal Joseph-Seale's gorgeous kitchen where we learn to make a Valentine's Day feast fit for a romantic dinner for two or the entire family and how to set a beautiful table for the occasion. Featured recipes include: Lobsert Brulee with Piquillo Peppers; Seared, Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin garnished with Sweet and Sour Red Onions; Spaetzle with Chives topped with Swiss Chard; and Nutella-Filled Crepes with Raspberry Sauce. Mmmm.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mary Had A Little (Ground) Lamb

The first time that I found ground lamb in the delivery from our meat CSA, I thought, Oh boy, lamburgers! Well, that’s not entirely true; I did think “lamburgers” but not “oh boy.” Lamb patties were in the regular supper rotation at our house when I was growing up. Simply fried up in a skillet and served without buns, I remember them - not fondly - as a little dry and not terribly exciting. I let my little packet of ground lamb languish, therefore, in the freezer for a few months…

…until I was perusing my Indian cookbook and thought, DUH. LAMB.

I tried out this little recipe for Kashmiri-style meatballs and Oh boy! for real. These are really wonderful. The recipe is easy to do and can be made ahead of time, then re-heated. So, it’s a great recipe for when you have a hankering to make a big Indian feast. The only real problem is that these meatballs taste so good you will wish you had made more of them.

I’m going to give you the recipe verbatim from the cookbook, but just so you know: I don’t really do it this way, because the sauce came out so oily. Maybe it’s just me and I’m doing something wrong, or maybe it’s just supposed to be oily. So what I did was: (1) make the meatball mixture, (2) fry it in a little olive oil, (3) add some water, garam masala, salt and pepper and (4) simmer. I didn’t have any dried milk, either. So maybe I didn’t really make Kashimiri Kofta Kari. But whatever it was, it sure was tasty.

Kashimiri Kofta Kari (Curried Meatballs, Kashimiri Style)
The Complete Asian Cookbook, by Charmaine Solomon

1-1/2 pounds lean minced lamb
1 teaspoon finely greated ginger
2 fresh chilies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons salt [note: I only used about ½ teaspoon]
½ cup yogurt
3 tablespoons ghee [or olive oil]
1 tablespoon dried milk or khoa
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

Put the lamb into a bowl with the ginger, chilies, coriander, chili powder and 1 teaspoon each of the garam masala and salt. Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt to moisten the spices and help distribute them evenly. A teaspoon or so of the ghee can be added if the lamb is very lean. Mix well and form into small oval shapes.

Heat the ghee in a heavy saucepan, add the dried milk, sugar, remaining yogurt, garam masala and salt. Fry gently, then add a half cup of hot water, bring to the boil and add the koftas. Simmer, covered, until no liquid remains. Turn koftas over, add a half cup more hot water and the pepper, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed once more. Sprinkle the dish with cardamom and serve with Indian breads or rice. Cover after adding cardamom so its fragrance will not dissipate.

Serves 6. [6? 6 what??!? Small children, maybe. The hubby & I polished it off all by ourselves].

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Confit Me

Is there a 12-step program for addiction to pork products? I sure hope so – after eating this pork confit tonight, I may need professional help to keep me from making it every week.

It began innocently enough. I had a small package of country-style pork ribs in the freezer and a pint of lard in the refrigerator. The pork was from our meat CSA; the lard, well, that was an impulse buy at the Polish market when I was shopping for Vigilia in December. I didn’t really know what to do with country-style ribs, but the lard got me thinking: meat…fat…confit.

Have you had duck confit? Artery-clogging, hypertension-inducing confit? Sometimes restaurants put “confit” on the menu, but the plate arrives containing a poseur: true confit is very salty, a little dry, and a bit chewy. Heaven in a duck leg, and it’s pretty good with pork, too. I’d first encountered the pork version on a pizza in Boston. I don’t remember the name of the place, and I don’t know if they’re still in business, but this place near the Brigham made an awesome pie with pork confit.

So I decided to have a go at making pork confit. I used Mark Bittman’s recipe as a guideline, but reduced the amounts of juniper and allspice berries in the brine because even I don’t keep a bucketful of those spices on hand. (I did have a bucketful of fennel seeds, though). The recipe calls for ½ cup of salt, but doesn’t specify kosher vs. regular salt. It matters because kosher salt is “fluffier” and is generally used in greater quantities than regular salt for brining purposes. To complicate matters, I was out of kosher salt and wanted to use up my kimchee salt. So I guessed: I used about 1/3 cup of kimchee salt, which I estimate is a little coarser (and a bit “wetter”) than plain table salt.

I let the pork soak in the brine for 48 hours. In retrospect, 24 hours of brining would have sufficed since I was using country-style ribs instead of a whole pork loin or shoulder. I also could have gone with a shorter cooking time: after 2-1/2 hours, the juices had completely evaporated and the meat began to caramelize a bit. So, 2 hours would probably have been enough time for the pork to become tender.

And oh, how tender it was! I started this last week – put the meat into brine on Thursday, cooked it in the fat on Saturday, then let it cool and stored it in the refrigerator. Today I scraped it all out into a pan and warmed it over low heat, then poured off most of the fat (saving it for the next batch of confit, don’t ya know) and added about 3 cups of drained, homemade saurkraut. (This time, it’s the fresh stuff – I never got around to canning this year’s batch of kraut). Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes until the kraut is tender. Eat and swoon.

And try not to do this again next week…