Can you smell the beefy goodness?
Pot roast is my father’s favorite dish, for the leftovers. He has a great fondness for cold pot roast sandwiches. Now I could blithely tell you that my father is a Jew, and therefore this is a Jewish dish. But it does in fact appear in a number of Jewish cookbooks, and is usually considered an alternate Shabbat dinner option- for those who could afford to move up from chicken to eating cows.
But the real reason I chose to make this dish was for my friends Sandra and Rona. When I was visiting each of them in Wisconsin a few weeks ago I noticed that they both had shiny new crock pots (or slow cookers in the new marketing parlance) bubbling away on their counters. Crock pots seem to have made a comeback in the last few years. Spurred by the move towards comfort food, the recession pressure to shop further down the food chain and the fresh crop of good looking cookers in sexy colors and styles (including this monster).
Now, I cannot think of a more welcoming site when it has been hovering near zero Fahrenheit for the last fortnight, but like anything this dish benefits from some careful selection of meat and flavor components. First the meat, you want to pick out a large piece of chuck roast. Preferably a chuck-eye roast rather than a seven bone or top blade roast. Different markets will call these different names, so what you want to look for is a large well marbled piece of chuck with no bones and that is at least 2 inches thick. Also make sure it will fit in your cooker.
But my father is right about one thing, it is a great meal for leftovers. I just packed them into the fridge- tomorrow we’ll try those sandwiches.
Recipe after the break
Tastes like old times
Liverwurst, or liver sausage is a Midwestern staple. When I was a kid we would go one town over to Cedarburg (not that i lived in a town per se, Mequon in those days had 62 square miles, 15,000 people and 4 stop lights) to buy meat. Paules’ Market (long gone sadly) was the place to get local meat. I can still recall the liverwurst, made from pork liver wrapped in a opaque casing that had to be peeled away. A quick lunch on the farm could be made from a few slices, sharp mustard and two slices of wheat bread.
The flavor of liverwurst is very distinctive, as opposed to liver pate or chopped chicken livers. It was this distinctive flavor that lead me to think that I could recreate it with beef or calves’ liver (which would make it kosher, if you use kosher meat). So a little internet research combined with consultation with Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing and I was ready to give it a try.
Some notes on materials and process. This takes a while to make. Leave yourself plenty of time and keep everything well chilled. If you break the emulsion (meaning the fat and meat separate) what you end up with is very tasty dog food. Also there are several options for casings. I used muslin cloth. You could also use a beef middle or hog bung.
Recipe after the break
kreplach in soup
The weather in Nor Cal has turned chilly and I have been nursing a cold for the past few days, which has been making me crave soup. My mother used to make giant vats of vegetable soup on Sundays and then expect me to eat it for the rest of the week, which I found to be somewhat tedious. Due to this trauma (I’m totally joking, mom), I like a little something of substance in my soups, like meat or seafood, and will rarely eat the same kind two days in a row. I started the week with creamy tomato with grilled cheese, then Thai Tom Kha Gai, followed by clam chowder, and today I am making kreplach in chicken soup. Kreplach are basically Jewish wontons or ravioli. They are a simple egg pasta dough filled with meat, cheese or potatoes. They can either be boiled in broth and then served as a soup or boiled in salted water and then sauteed and browned in schmaltz to serve as a side dish. (According to my dad, this was my Bubbie’s preferred method) Kreplach are popular as a pre-fast dish on Yom Kippur and the cheese versions are traditional at Purim. I made beef stuffed kreplach in chicken soup (aka Jewish Penicillin). Kreplach originated in Eastern Europe as a way to use up leftover meat and sure enough I had all the makings in my kitchen already. I had about 1/2 pound of ground short ribs in the freezer left over from burger making and a gallon bag of frozen chicken stock cubes from my last batch of stock. (Gordon has a good recipe for chicken stock under his schmaltz post) Every Jewish cookbook I consulted had a kreplach recipe and there was little variation in the dough recipes with the exception of quantity. Some were enough to feed an army but given how finicky I am about soup I went for a smaller portion. The filling variations were endless, including chicken liver, and mushrooms, but I went for the basic ground beef.
recipe after the break
Where’s the bread?
Pickled beef tongue is one of those litmus test foods. Either it completely freaks you out or you think that its one of the best things ever. As for myself, I am deep in the “best thing ever” camp. But I know a lot of people, Jews included who cannot get the image of a cow licking its lips out of their head when then see it. More for me.
I cannot recall the first time I ate tongue. I can remember my mother leaving a small tongue on the stove with pickling spices for hours on the lowest heat. It was a rare treat in Wisconsin as we were far from the delis of the East coast and even a decent salami was a matter of relatives airlifting them from New York.
When it comes to the ultimate deli tongue experience there is no finer place to enjoy it in my humble opinion than Katz’s deli at the corner of Houston and Ludlow in New York. There my sandwich is always tongue and pastrami, on rye (duh!) with spicy brown mustard. When I was younger I would get a full pickle, an order of their enormous steak fries and a Dr. Browns Cream Soda (my father would suggest the Cel-Ray is a more refreshing choice). It was truly a heart attack and heart burn on two plates. Today my appetite is a bit more modest and a just the sandwich leaves me stuffed for the day.
Alas, I live too far away to eat this tasty morsel with any regularity (which is good for my arteries) but I have worked out how to make it at home. All you need is time, about a week and one mail order ingredient. That ingredient is DQ Curing Salt or Pink Salt. It contains nitrite, which will work with salt to kill many pathogens including the ones that cause botulism. In addition the nitrite causes the hemoglobin to set up with a rosy red color (similar to what happens when you have carbon-monoxide poisoning). This creates the color you see in corned beef, brisket, hot-dogs, salami, pepperoni and pretty much every other dry cured sausage you can buy.
It should go without saying that tongue should be enjoyed on rye bread with good brown mustard. The only acceptable alternative is to serve it with fried eggs, hash browns and buttered rye toast.
Recipe after the break