Monday, December 26, 2011

Grass-Fed Veal Chops

For those of you who don't already know, grass-fed meat is a big deal right now.  Most meat we eat is fed a grain diet, and that tends to make it fat and meats fed a grass diet is a more natural alternative.  The other health-friendly aspect to grass-fed meats is that they are generally raised without antibiotics or other hormone treatments.  With regards to taste, it's more earthy and in terms of cooking, it cooks faster (no fat means it will cook fast and dry out quick, so you need to reduce cooking times).

The Griller Instinct team has mixed opinions.  We like fat, however, we don't want to be fat, so we use a mix of meats.  Once or twice a week I get grass-fed meat from Stew the Butcher, and it's always on a night when I'm making an effort to eat healthy

On other nights, I enjoy the full fattiness of grain-fed meats.  Who doesn't?  Fat equals flavor, and if you like to grill, you know the value of fat.  (If I could have my way, I would buy grass-fed meat that has been fed grain to add fat, right before it's slaughtered.  Does that exist?  I don't know.  I'll check with Stew...)

Stew recently introduced me to a grass-fed meat I have not had previously had: Grass-fed Veal.  I was initially skeptical.  Isn't good veal supposed to be milk-fed?  Apparently not.  After trying this veal chop, it was obvious the flavor is much better than milk-fed veal, and it also has plenty of fat. 

Why does grass-fed veal have a good amount of fat?  Good question.  I don't know.  What's the flavor difference?  Milk-fed veal is a bit bland, in my opinion.  Grass-fed veal has a more beefy taste, and not overwhelmingly so, just more so than regular veal.  I wasn't buying a lot of milk-fed veal for that very reason, it lacks meaty flavor.

The visual difference is what is most significant between grass fed-veal and milk-fed veal.  Grass-fed looks like red meat and milk-fed is white(ish).  So don't be surprised if you pull out your cut of meat and it doesn't look like your standard chop.

The bottom line is you should ask your butcher for some grass-fed veal chops.  They're really terrific, and right now, reasonably priced (until everyone catches on).

This is the veal with a lemon caper sauce.

To make the lemon-caper sauce for two veal chops:

1. Zest one lemon with a Microplane, then juice the lemon. Combine the juice and the zest with two tablespoons of drained capers.
2. In a small frying pan, saute five minced cloves of garlic in five tablespoons of olive oil for two minutes.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest and capers to the frying pan.
4. Add fresh ground pepper to taste and pour on top of the veal.

Check out the video:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Aunt Rachel's Latkes

We here at Griller Instinct usually like to show you what we've done to celebrate the holidays after the fact.  Well, we're going to get in front a holiday for a change: Hanukkah is soon!  So of course I'm going to share with you our family's latke recipe which is so easy and delicious, you may find yourself eating them straight through Christmas!

Some people think that latkes are only for people who celebrate Hanukkah, or that they're only meant to be eaten this time of year.  And for those people, I tell them, "Don't be ridiculous!"  Latkes are basically hash browns, and you can make them for Christmas,  for Kwanzaa, for your birthday, for breakfast, or just for fun.

Here is the recipe.

Here is a picture of the latkes frying.  Make note of the deep pan, as it keeps oil from splattering everywhere and making a mess.

Now, since this is a blog that caters to those with a griller instinct, I have to let you know that it is possible to make these latkes on the grill.  Simply heat up your pot of oil on the grill and stay vigilant about the temperature not rising too high!

And here is a quick video tutorial.

And as a special surprise: Not Latkes
I sent my friend, Marshall, a picture of the latkes as they were frying last night.  He was then kind enough to respond with what he was making.  And that means I get to share with you Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Roquefort Cheese and Toasted Almonds inside. 

I can't be certain, but I believe that he plated the dates with pink grapefruit slices topped with black sesame seeds.  What am I certain of is that it looks awesome.  Hopefully, he'll send in the recipe, and if he does, I'll be sure to share it with you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finally, Brussels Sprouts Your Kids Will Eat

Yes, your kids will eat these.  And they will like them, too!  Satisfaction guaranteed, or I'll give you a full refund for the cost of your Griller Instinct subscription.
To cut to teh chase, here is the recipe.

Note: This is not a Griller Instinct original.  This is a recipe by Chef Michael Symon.

While the Brussels Sprouts are not an original, it is Griller Instinct tested.  Though our official certification is still pending, I think my street credit should be enough to get you to give these a try.

And if you haven't seen the Thanksgiving video yet, here is is again.  You will see Lisa, my wife, making this delicious recipe.

Friday, December 9, 2011

If You Aren't Going to Grill Your Own...

...At least go have the best steak you can, and for me, that's Peter Luger.

There aren't many good reasons to go to Brooklyn and, in fact, after Luger's, my list runs a little thin.  But the outerborough location doesn't stop my buddies and me form kicking off the holiday season with a trip to Peter Luger

(If you are in the New York area, let the below entice you;for the rest of you, proceed with jealousy...)

If you want to eat the best steak on Earth, you must travel to New York City.  I know this statement will generate a lot of angry emails about your favorite steak house in Singapore, or Budapest, or wherever you are, but trust me, Peter Luger is better.

A few notes about Peter Luger:

- It's in Brooklyn, so it's a pain in the ass to get to.
- It's not fancy. 
- It's cash only.
- It's old school, with a lot of wood and old man waiters.
- I've never seen a menu.

And yet....  every time I go, I am reminded how much better it is than any other steakhouse.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are asking "Why?  Why is this steak better than any others you may have had?"  And my honest answer is: I have no idea.  Maybe it the quality of the meat. Maybe it's how it's prepared.  Maybe it's the handle bar mustaches on so many of the waiters.  I can't be sure, and surely we'll never know.

The real question is: why can't all the copycat steakhouses in Manhattan that have been opened by ex-Luger employees duplicate the food?  There must be a secret and I don't know what it is.

Five of us dined, and we enjoyed:
Steak for 5 medium rare (Porterhouse, obviously)
Hash Browns
Creamed Spinach
Thick-Cut Bacon
Shrimp Cocktail
Tomato and Onions

And, of course, plenty of Peter Luger sauce on the side.

Our story doesn't end here, but the meal does.  We left full and happy, and are sure to return, likely to have the same meal as you can't go wrong with a great steak, a lot of liquor and good company.

And don't worry: for those of you who have been asking for the Brussels Sprouts recipe, it's coming; I'll get it out to you the next few days.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Succulent Smoked Turkey: The Thanksgiving Series, Number One

As Griller Instinct begins its Thanksgiving series, we wanted to dive right in and give you the item that we and our holiday guests were most thankful for: Succulent Smoked Turkey 

Now, I'm sure many of you are asking yourselves, "Why would you smoke a turkey, let alone do it for Thanksgiving?"

1. After having dozens of people over for Thanksgiving, and having made turkey many ways, smoked is the overall favorite. 

2. Smoking a turkey leaves room in the oven for other stuff. 

3. The carcass makes kick ass turkey soup.

Be forewarned: Smoking a turkey is a three part process, but it's a labor of love and like most of the recipes you've tried so far, your guests will appreciate your effort. 

Step 1: Brine the Turkey.  Brining is important as the turkey absorbs the brine flavor while allowing the meat to stay very moist during the cooking process.  For a 15-20 lb turkey, you need to make 2.5 gallons of brine, and as it takes about 12 hours to fully cool, the brine should be made ahead of time (1-5 days).  Once the brine is at refrigerator temperature, add the bird and let it soak for 12-24 hours.  The longer it soaks, the more brine will be absorbed into the meat.  When you are ready to smoke the bird, pull it out, rinse it off, and pat it dry.  Here is the brine recipe.

Step 2: Smoke the Turkey.  Soak some wood chips (I find that Apple goes very well with turkey) and bring your smoker to 325 degrees.  Add the chips and to the smoker place the bird inside with a pan underneath.  This will catch drippings that you will use to baste the bird as it smokes, and if you choose to afterwards it can be used to make a killer gravy. To create a starter baste, I like to put some butter (1 stick), broth (I use 2 cups chicken broth, but any kind will do), a beer (12 oz), and the gizzards (finally, they are good for something other than scaring the kids!) into the pan.  Smoke the turkey for 15-17 minutes per pound, or until the thermometer pops out of the breast.  Baste every 30-45 minutes.  When it's done, wrap with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Step 3: Make the Gravy.  I use the turkey baster to suck about 3/4 of the liquid out of the pan 30 minutes before I think the turkey is done.  This is your gravy base.  The liquid will have a heavy smokey flavor, so you will need to cut it with more broth before you reduce it.  Here is the gravy recipe.

This is the complete Thanksgiving video.  You will see everything we made, including the Succulent Smoked Turkey.

Next week, I'll pass along a recipe for Brussels Sprouts your kids will actually eat.  You won't want to miss it.