This is a bit late, but I thought that I should share. For Memorial Day, the Weber was fired up and some delicious, home ground burgers hit the hot grates. Along with the meat action, some serious farmer’s market asparagus and a mean cous cous salad hit the plate. After reading the NY Times profile of Sriracha, I was inspired to dress up my burgers with a sriracha mayo. It was a stellar choice and said condiment will definitely be making future appearances at my cookouts.
As the weather was quite ripe a few weekends ago in DC, I got bit by the insatiable grilling bug. What I craved was seared meat over a charcoal flame. I turned to the oh so American and oh so delicious staple, the hamburger. I didn’t want just any burger though, for I wanted to make the occasion special rather than slapping down pre formed patties or buying pre ground meat. Lucky for me, my parents found a sweet cast iron meat grinder at a flea market and mailed it to me several months ago. I did a quick spot clean on the thing, and it was good to go. After some home grinding research, I decided to buy a 2.5 lb boneless chuck roast from my local H. Teeter. A chuck roast has a ton of marbling which equals fat which equals flavor. I cubed the meat up into 1 to 1.5″ chunks and trimmed some of the excess fat. The meat then went into the freezer for 30 minutes to firm it up a bit. The parts of the grinder also went into said freezer for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes had lapsed, grinding commenced. At first, I had some issues. I had not trimmed off a lot of the excess fat because I thought it would lend itself to greater flavors. The excess fat was really tough and refused to grind. The grinder got clogged, so I had to disassemble mid procedure, but once I got it cleaned up and I got the fat lopped off the rest of the meat, all went smoothly.
The 2.5 lb roast ground up to about 2.1 to 2.2 pounds of ground beef. The burgers (for which I failed to take a final shot of) turned out excellent. You could certainly tell the difference in the home ground beef. Why grind your own meat? There are several good reasons. Beef ground at a processing plant can come from all different parts of an animal, AND it can come from several different animals in the same package. It’s possible that one package of ground beef can have the DNA of 50 to 100 different cows. Second, by grinding at home, you severly undercut the amount of time that bacteria has to cultivate and grow within the ground strands of meat. This means it’s far less risky to cook the perfect medium-rare hamburger. Lastly, it’s fun, tasty, and it’s a way to make your next cookout unique when grilling an old American standard.
I finally got around to spatchcocking my first chicken. Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is extremely easy and produces a bird that cooks quickly and evenly by removing the backbone and the keel (breast) bone. I learned my technique from this here video. Rather than use poultry shears, I used my very sharp, very honed knife. Everything worked out. Below is a picture of the raw bird, post spatchcock. I totally blanked and forgot to take a picture of the finished product, but I assure you, it was some of the most deliciously moist chicken I’ve ever had. I dusted the chicken in a heavy blend of Greek-ish spices (oregano, thyme, salt, lemon pepper, garlic) and olive oil. I fired up the gas grill until the temp reached 450 degrees. I then turned the middle burner (out of 3) off and placed the chicken skin side up over the now turned off burner. Close the lid and walk away for 45-50 minutes, and you have a perfectly cooked chicken. This was paired oh so wonderfully with a greek salad.
That was the name of a Good Eats episode the other day on Food Network that inspired me to make red beans and rice. An American, creole classic. This dish is very satisfying. The only omission for me on this recipe was the pickled pork. I subbed 9 ounces of bacon instead. I didn’t have the foresight or time to pickle pork. This still turned out damn good. I topped the concoction with pan fried andouille. Screw that zataran’s box nonsense.
Ok, so the hash made from my corned beef leftovers was 100 times better than the original meal. For serious. I love a good corned beef hash (or any breakfast hash for that matter). The Washington Post recently did a write up on the awesomeness of hash for all you breakfast lovers. Since I had leftover mashed potatoes, rather than boiled or roasted potatoes, I formed them into small potato patties. These patties were then pan fried until each side was golden brown. This was the base layer of my hash. It was then topped with a sauteed mixture of green bell peppers, mushrooms, and leftover cubed corned beef. The finishing touch was the oh so lovely sunny side up egg. Amazing.
For the upcoming day to celebrate St. Patrick, I took advantage of grocery store specials and made an Irish style feast. Corned beef brisket (point cut) was down to $.99 per pound, and cabbage was basically free this weekend. I simmered the corned beef in water and spices for about 4 hours until it was fork tender. The cabbage got sauteed down (after a 30 minute salting to squeeze out some moisture) for 15 minutes in some olive oil with onions. Lauren provided some serious mashed potatoes and biscuits (not Irish, I know). All in all, it was a solid attempt at a hearty Irish meal; all that was missing was a leprechaun and a pot of gold. Check back later in the week because I’m going to treat the leftover corned beef the only way it should be treated…diced and put to use in a good corned beef hash.
The New York Times did a great piece on a recession friendly piece of meat, the cube steak. Cube steaks are a darling of southern cooking, so after reading the article, I became a bit nostalgic for a this wonderful slice of pierced round slathered in some sort of gravy. I decided to try out the braised cube steak recipe that’s listed in the article. The recipe is from Gillian Clark, noted southern chef located in the DC area. This recipe was super simple and definitely affordable. The total cost of the ingredients (pantry items like oil, flour, salt, and pepper aside) was about $5. The instant I tasted the thick brown onion gravy, memories began to flood in (some good, some not so good) of the cube steaks of my past. I bought about 3 packages of cube steak when I was at the store (I couldn’t resist at $2.50 a package), so I’m eager to try some variations on the tried and true Southern style.