January 2015 Challenge, Slow Cooking

Via ChefTalk.com

I came across this challenge while reading through some of the great forums that are on ChefTalk.com and could not resist.  It’s literally freezing outside, and the best way to warm your bones, is with a nice slow cooked meal after a long day.  The set it and forget it cooking method is always a plus during the work week, and it is also great in a professional kitchen.  No reason we can bridge the two right?

Lamb Barbacoa Taco’s

Place a boneless lamb leg (NAMP234) in a slow cooker / hotel pan, season with Trade East Six Pepper Blend, add cooking liquid (Beef broth and Tropical Rub Glaze) to about half way up the roast.  Cook on Low /200F for 7-8 hours, and after it is cooked you can ether take it out or hold it (if you are in a commercial kitchen) at 150 for up to 8 hours.

This lamb came out tender and juicy.  So tender my bear claws pulled right through it!  I spread it out on a warm taco with some freshly made hot salsa, red onion, cilantro and a squirt of lime juice.   These little spicy Lamb Barbacoa Tacos warmed my bones after shoveling some snow.

The oven I used was a FWE Cook and Hold, the great thing about it is, it can act pretty much like a crock pot on steroids.  You set it for a low temperature and time just like you would at home, plus you get to add a hold temperature that has a little more flexibility than the crock pot, but some idea.

Energy Efficiency ($$$’s not ZZZ’s)

I want to tell you a little about how all of the energy conciseness and the green movement can help you get money in your pocket, the real green movement.  Every time you flip a switch, you are bleeding out money, and helping add to a death by a thousand cuts.  Maybe not that dramatic, but I got to make the power bill entertaining right?

There are a lot of ways to help lower your power consumption and help get those dollars and cents back to the bottom line where they belong.  First, it’s more than that blue sticker on the side of your equipment that you need to help lower your bill.  You need to have a little discipline and a little training to identify potential problems.  I’m not here to give you the discipline, I can’t do that (if I could I would be making a lot more money as a motivational book writer).  What I can do though, is help you identify some problem areas.

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Brisket 101

BACKGROUNDFWE Brisket

Brisket is a great example of a cut of meat that bodes well with barbecue.  As we know, barbecue is a method of indirect low and slow cooking.  Meats that are tough and have a lot of connective tissue need this low slow technique to breakdown and become tender and delicious. You might now ask yourself “why is the brisket such a tough muscle?”.  Well, as cattle do not have collar bones, their heavy upper body, over half its weight, is supported by these muscles.  That makes for a well-used Schwarzenegger approved work out. In this post I am going to go over some of the basics that you might or might not already know and how they can be used to help get you best possible product. Continue reading

Why Buy A Cook & Hold

Why buy a cook and hold?  The primary advantage to a FWE cook and hold is the low and controlled temperatures.  This technology helps dramatically reduce loss in many roasted meats.  This reduction improves yields allowing for more servings thus increased revenue.  As much as an additional serving or two of prime rib can be saved with one of these cook and hold ovens.  To achieve this, the product must come up to temperature at a slower pace.  A drawback that chefs face with most low temperature cooking is the loss to the dark, crisp, caramelized outside of meat products.  FWE’s engineering team have worked hard to find that perfect balance of gentle air flow, and even heat distribution, that allows for the Maillard effect to be achieved, giving that desired flavor and texture that many chefs want.

The cook and hold runs at a lower temperature so it requires less energy than typical ovens.  In restaurants that require an electric demand fee, utilizing overnight cooking could offer even more of an expense advantage.  Since the unit is cooking at a low temperature (below 350°) the use of a hood is not required in the majority of the United States.  This flexibility allows large kitchens to save on space and the expense of having to purchase extra ventilation hoods.

Overnight cooking offers labor saving as well.  If a product is started before a shift ends, it will cook to a predetermined setting, and automatically switch to a holding cabinet.  Without a piece of equipment like this, staff may have to come in early and cook before service time, thus extending working hours and payroll.  Kitchen staff will not even need to come in early to preheat this unit, if the Delayed Preheat option is utilized.  Program what time the unit should start, and open the kitchen with hot cooking and holding equipment ready to go.  To save even more on payroll, FWE has advanced upon the preset function that has been helping kitchen staff for years.  With 15 programmable cooking procedures now available, inexperienced staff can cook correctly and consistently to the restaurants standard operation procedures.

Hummus, with All American Hot Sauce

Hummus is such an easy and healthy snack to make.  The best part about it, in my opinion, is how easy it is to manipulate with flavor.  By manipulate, I’m talking about adding any number of ingredients to make new styles of hummus.  I have used Smoke Roasted Garlic,  truffle oil, and now All American Hot Sauce.  Any time my wife or I have a party or pot luck we like to incorporate Sanford’s Kitchen products.  We had  an appetizer party and wanted to show off our hot sauce in a less pushy way (most of the time we just pop a jar of Just Chillin’ Salsa and call it a day).  This is what we came up with.

Ingredients:

2 Cans of Garbanzo Beans/chickpeas
1/2c Olive Oil
1TBL Lemon Juice
1/2 Jar All American Hot Sauce
1/2TBL Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a food processor, processes all the ingredients until smooth.  If you want to add more heat use a whole jar of hot sauce.  As you can tell, I didn’t use Tahini in this recipe.  I love to serve hummus with pita bread, just rip off chunks, dip it, and enjoy.

Smoke Roasted Garlic

Not much is more versatile then the humble garlic.  For most of us, its awesome flavor is one of the first we recognize in our young cooking lives.  I for one, would put garlic powder on darn near anything I cooked as a teen.  In fact, while in the first semester in culinary school, the entire class would rush to the garlic when developing dishes.  I still hold this love for garlic in my heart.  When cooking breakfast in a half vegetative sleep state, my subconscious grabs for the stuff to toss in any and all unwilling dishes in front of me.

One day I was blankly looking at my smoker thinking, what next.  Just like breakfast, culinary school, and in my teens, the first thing to pop in my head was garlic!

Ingredients:

12 head of garlic
2 Tbs Olive Oil
1 Tbs BBQ Rub

Directions:

  • Pull the extra paper off the garlic heads, don’t worry to much about the paper that sticks to cloves.
  • Cut the garlic tops off exposing the cloves.  This will allow for the smoke to penetrate into the cloves.
  • Spread the oil over the heads of garlic and sprinkle with BBQ Rub.
  • Smoke for 1 hour and roast for 30min at 250F until the garlic is tender.  Poke with a fork, the garlic should almost be spreadable.

These cloves are great spread on toast, in hummus, and served as a side with some Prime Rib.

Smoked in a FWE Cook & Hold

Thanksgiving Turkey

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  This is one of my favorite times of the year, and has been for a long time.  I get to cook food and watch football all day.  If dishes would wash themselves it would be the perfect day.  I smoked turkey all this week for testing at work.  I am asked a lot during this time of year “how do you smoke a turkey, what settings do you use?”.   It was a question until just recently, that sort of bothered me.  As you know everyone likes a different amount of smoke flavor.  The process of smoking, naturally, cures the skin of the turkey making it rubbery to bite into.  I would tell people what I thought would be best, but deep down knew wasn’t quite perfect yet.  This is not OK in my world.  I love a crispy poultry skin, I demand a crispy poultry skin.  My father deep fries his turkey every year and so I have become custom to the great golden bird.

So my task was to get crispy skin, and smoky flavor.  What I found through lots of testing, was a few lessons to live by while cooking the great bird.

1)      Do not use butter!  If you must use it make sure it’s clarified butter.  Don’t know what clarified butter is?  Simmer butter in a sauce pan and skim out the white frothy stuff.  (that’s the cream and water)  Water in the butter will steam and the steam with make rubber out of the skin.  What is left over is the oil that still has great flavor but lacks the stuff that steams and burns.

2)      Rinse and pat dry.  I’m sure you do this already, but if you don’t… Do it.  As before, the water will steam the skin and make rubber out of it.

3)      Please don’t stuff.  When your relatives yell at you, and they will, direct the hate mail to me.  But be happy that you are not making anyone sick.  The majority of food poising is from the stuffing.  Getting that up to 165F will dry the bird out and is unrealistic.  So more often than not, people will serve the stuffing at less than 165F and full of bad salmonella from the turkey cavity.

4)      Oil the skin on top and bottom.  By bottom I mean gently separate the skin from the breast and legs and use oil, or that clarified butter I was talking about, and season both sides of the skin.

5)      Smoke for only 30 min.  This is easy peasy in my FWE Smoker.  Longer smoke will give you more smokey flavor but rubber skin.  I use apple wood, if you like stronger smoke flavor, try hickory for 30 min.

6)      Cook by PROBE!  Don’t care what the clock says.  It is done when it is done.  I remember asking my chef once “Hey Chef, how long do I cook the roast?”  he looked at me like I asked what a fork was, and responded “Until it’s done”.  Buy a probe thermometer, (you’ll use it all the time and it’s not that expensive) probe the turkey on the inside of the leg close to the breast, and down into the thigh muscle.  Be careful not to touch bone or you will be measuring bone temp not flesh.  Cook it at 350F to 160F turkey temp.

7)      Shhhhh, let it rest.  Once you have reached 160F, take it out, cover it in foil and let it rest for 30min.  This is the most difficult process of all.  No one in my family believes in this, or cares about this.  It is a must.  Hide like I do, if you have to.  It makes a difference.

Game Time Snack

Looking for a great health snack?  Celery is an awesome addition to any snackers arsenal.  It has what we call negative calories, that is, you burn more calories eating the celery then you take in from it.  Score one for the snack!  I want to add a little flavor love though so I pack it full of Laughing Cow Blue Cheese spread, and at 35 calories a wedge add as much as you like.  Now to get a little more zing add some All American Hot Sauce at 20 calories a serving.
I love the flavor of these little snacks.  It reminds me of chicken wings without the chicken.   It’s a perfect quick snack for my Sunday’s sitting in front of the TV watching some football.


Happy Halloween

Halloween is a great time of year to have a party.  Even better than hosting a party, is NOT hosting, rather going to some other persons party.  No cleanup, no stress, and you even get to enjoy yourself!  If you’re the guest, you will want to bring some food or gift to help out the poor sucker that is tossing this shindig right?  Well do as I do, and make it easy and fun for yourself.

Sanford’s Kitchen has the perfect Just Chillin’ Salsa for any party ; ) … But we already know this.  So why not take that Just Chillin’ Salsa and spooky it up a bit. 

Take Cream Cheese and roll it into little balls.  Then sprinkle them with black sesame seeds or poppy seeds.  Pop on a couple of olive eyeballs and a couple blue corn tortilla chips for wings, and you have a great tasting Halloween dip.  This goes over very well with children as they can help you make them very easily.

All about the hot sauce?  All American Hot Sauce from Sanford’s Kitchen has got your party covered.

Take a small pumpkin, the pie making type, cut it and remove the seeds and innards.  This makes for a real cool and festive dip bowl.

Sanford’s Kitchen Party Dip

  • 1pkg Ranch Dip Mix
  • 1Tbl Fresh Basil
  • 16oz Sour Cream
  • 2-3oz All American Hot Sauce
  • 1 Clove Crushed Garlic

Bloody Mary and Smoked Ice

I wanted to come up with a way to add smoked items to bar menus.  I have made Smoke Roasted Almonds and love them.  The problem is that they aren’t all that interesting.  I was talking to someone while bellied up at a bar about cocktails.  He was drinking Scotch on the rocks and I was drinking a Manhattan.  I explained that I love smoked food but really never cared for the smoky flavor in Scotch.  I thought, hey why don’t I try smoking some Makers Mark and make a Manhattan with it.  This stuck on my mind for a while.  I thought it was a great idea but maybe not the best drink to do it with.  I decided I would find away to infuse the ice with smoke so I could try a few cocktails.  The best by far was the Bloody Mary, so that’s what I took pictures of.

Adding a smoky flavor to cocktails such as a Bloody Mary separates you as a bar.  As the cubes melt, more of the smoky flavor is released into the drink. This encourages you to take your time and enjoy every sip as the drink evolves.

Ingredients

o 5Lb Cubed Ice
o 1c Hickory Wood Chips

Preparing the Ice:

  • Place the ice in a perforated pan on one of the upper trays.
  • Under the perforated pan place a hotel pan to catch the water.

Smoking the Ice:

  • Smoke the ice for 120 minutes.
  • The heat from the smoke will slowly melt the ice into the lower hotel pan.
  • As the ice drips it will become infused with smoke flavor.
  • refreeze in trays for cubed ice.

A great Bloody Mary recipe to add this ice to

8 oz good tomato juice
3 oz vodka
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp celery salt
1 celery stalk
1 tbsp Sanford’s Kitchen All American Hot Sauce
fresh lime wedge
fresh ground black pepper

Serve over Smoked Ice and garnish with the lime, celery stalk, and ground pepper.

This makes such a delicious drink with a very unexpected flavor.  This recipe was made with an FWE / Food Warming Equipment Cook and Hold with Smoker