Here’s something I hadn’t heard of last week. Then I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdains TV show ‘No Reservations’. He was in Uruguay, and judging by the amount of meat they eat there, it is where I should live, or at least visit. Anyway, the chivito sandwiches looked pretty good, so I googled a recipe and got into it. A trip to my new favourite butcher, Master Meats at Mooloolaba, and I had bacon and ham, both smoked on site and delicious, and grass fed eye fillet steaks from King Island. A couple of large white bread buns from the bakery next door and I was ready.
Bacon was cooked until crisp and then set aside. Steaks were about 2 cm thick, so I butterflied them and pounded them to under 1 cm thick before cooking for a couple of minutes on each side in the pan the bacon came out of. I also cooked onion, and fried eggs until the yokes just turned hard. Tomato sauce and mayonaise were mixed together and spread onto the bottom half of the bun, then lettuce was added. Next was the steak followed by 3 slices of bacon and a couple of slices of ham. Then the onion and sliced tomato were added and the lot was topped with sliced mozzarella and placed under a grill to melt the cheese. Then the egg was put on top, with more sauce and mayo, and the top of the bun put on.
As you can see, this was a big, full sandwich (really more what we would call a burger) and it was necessary to cut it in half to have any hope of eating it.
The combination of tastes were amazing, with the steak and ham complemented by the bacon (and what doesn’t taste nicer with bacon in it?) The sandwich was big, juicy, messy and extremely filling. An awesome meal, I can only imagine how nice real Uruguayan chivitos must be.
This is a dish I remember from my childhood. I think we had it fairly often and I always loved it. Tripe seems to be out of fashion nowadays, and when I cooked some a year or so ago I didn’t much like it, it was rubbery and not a particularly nice taste. But I just had to try it again. The tripe I bought was the honeycomb tripe, apparently from the second stomach. I googled a recipe and pretty much stuck to it, first placing it in cold water, bringing to the boil, then draining and rinsing before cutting into 2.5cm pieces. I then put tripe, onions, milk, a bay leaf, salt and pepper into a pot and simmered for almost 3 hours. I then melted butter in a pan, added flour and cooked for a minute or two, then stirred in the cooking liquid, and cooked until it thickened. The onions and tripe were then added and reheated.
The verdict? Maybe slightly more palatable than last time, but still rubbery and not a really nice flavour (and it really doesn’t smell nice while cooking). I can’t imagine that I would have liked this all those years ago if it was like this. Makes me wonder if tripe has changed a bit, now that it is probably from feedlot cattle, fed grain and very little if any grass. I’d be interested to hear opinions on that.
On my recent trip to an Asian butcher in Brisbane I bought several items I had not eaten before. Beef tendons were one of these, and as I have never seen them for sale before, I had no idea what to do with them. A bit of research told me they are good in Asian style soups and stews, where they absorb the flavours of what they are cooked with. In my usual style I decided to cook them in a way where I would be able to taste the tendons themselves, without adding too many other flavours.
As you can see, beef tendons aren’t much to look at uncooked. I decided to give them a couple of hours on high in the slow cooker with just a carrot, some celery, onion and seasoning. So after two hours a knife wouldn’t go into the tendons very easily. After four hours they weren’t much better, so I had something else for my dinner. After six hours I gave up and put the tendons in the fridge for the night. The next night I put the lot into a pot and boiled it for about an hour, after which the tendons appeared to be quite soft (but still not much to look at).
The tendons at this stage had a unique flavour, I’m not sure what the mild flavour reminded me of, but it wasn’t particularly nice, but not unpleasant either. They were extremely tender, in fact soft gelatinous lumps. Some people would probably not like that, but I do. It’s what attracts me to meat like beef cheeks. Overall, the texture and flavour were a bit overpowering as the main ingredient in the dish, but in a soup or stew, combined with other meat, they would be a great addition.
I recently purchased the book ‘Nose To Tail Eating’ by Fergus Henderson and I’m amazed by many of the recipes in it. Seeing Fergus on TV a couple of times has been one of my inspirations to eat more unusual foods, so I’m sure recipes from this book will appear here from time to time, starting now. This bone marrow recipe is mentioned in the introduction by Anthony Bourdain as his Death Row Meal, and by a strange twist of fate, the day after reading the recipe, I was in a supermarket and for the first time, spotted bags of beef marrow bones.
It was meant to be! Now to me, bone marrow is one of the highlights in dishes such as osso bucco, so I knew I was going to like this.
As per the recipe, I roasted the marrow bones until the marrow was ‘loose and giving, not melted away’. I did this in a kettle BBQ and it took almost an hour. While that was roasting, I coursely chopped a handful of flat (Italian) parsley leaves (no stems) and finely sliced a small onion (recipe called for shallots but I couldn’t get any on the day). I then added some small capers and when the marrow was cooked, dressed the salad with lime juice (recipe says lemon, but I have a lime tree) and extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with sea salt and pepper. I removed the marrow from the bones onto toast and added the salad.
I probably used more than the called for ‘pinch’ of parsley salad, and when cooked I had less bone marrow than expected. Add my lack of cooking skills, and I’m sure my effort was not even close to as good as what Fergus serves at his St. John restaurant…..but bloody hell it was good!
It was one of those recipes that is so well balanced that not one single taste stands out. Just an overall delicious flavour with the slight fatiness of the bone marrow. If all the recipes in this book are this good, I’m in for a real treat as I attempt to work my way through it. Thanks Fergus.
My mother used to serve us pressed tongue quite often and it was one of my many favourites. I had not had it for many years until on my recent trip to NZ, I found some in the deli section of a supermarket. Then last week I was given a salted tongue (thanks Jane), mainly because Jane didn’t know anyone else likely to eat it. I excitedly googled recipes, and started into it. Tongue is perhaps not the most attractive cut of meat, maybe that’s why it isn’t more popular.
First off I soaked it overnight in the fridge to reduce excess salt. I then trimmed off the fat.
Then it was into the slow cooker with a sliced onion, a clove of garlic and some thyme leaves, on high for 5 hours, until a sharp knife penetrated the tongue easily.
After letting it cool a bit, I skinned the tongue, which was very easy, the skin just peeled off.
I used a plastic container as a tongue press. I cut the neck off the container to make straight sides, and the lid then fitted neatly inside to act as a press. I cut the tongue in half length ways and packed it into the press. I added a little gelatine to about 300 ml of the liquid from the slow cooker and poured some of it over the tongue, then pushed the lid in. I used a tin can to put pressure on the lid by jamming the press and can between two shelves in the fridge. The next day I just quickly warmed the outside of my press with hot water and the tongued popped out, and looked pretty good.
The sliced tongue was perhaps not quite as tender as it could be (but by no means tough, just didn’t quite melt in the mouth), with a taste very similar to corned meat. It isn’t quite the taste I remember, perhaps my mother didn’t use pickled tongues (something to try next time).
Delicious for sandwiches, this will definitely be a regular at my place, even if I’m the only one who will eat it.
The Christmas turducken was a success and I particularly enjoyed the mixing of flavours from the turkey, duck, chicken and quail. It got me thinking, why not try it with other meats, so that was this weekend’s project, a boneless, rolled, stuffed roast of pork, lamb and beef. During the week I bought a small leg of lamb and some pork belly. I removed the bones from the pork belly and layed it out skin side down.
The boned pork belly
I then boned and skinned the leg of lamb and layed it on top with a little stuffing between the layers.
and with stuffing and lamb added
At this stage I was obviously running out of room, so I limited the beef to a couple of small steaks, added some bacon and more stuffing, and it was ready to roll.
Ready to roll
This pork belly was the only one the butcher had, and was smaller than I wanted, so rolling the roast was a problem, and the pork didn’t quite go right around, but still looked good once I tied it up.
I then sliced the pork skin, rubbed it with macadamia oil and salt, then sprinkled carroway seeds over it, and it was ready for the oven.
And after about four hours at 180°c the roast was ready and looking good.
And to eat? The flavour combinations of these meats was amazing, so much better than each on their own. The meat was moist and tender and the pork crackling crispy and full of flavour. And of course, with no bones, this roast is a pleasure to carve and serve.
An all round beautiful roast that I highly recommend and will most definately do again. And a lot less preparation than a turducken.
Here is another cut of meat that I had never heard of until recently. Like Osso Bucco, which is also new to me, beef cheeks are now a regular on my menu. When I first heard of them (on Masterchef) I asked at several butchers and I couldn’t get them. Apparently they are mostly exported from Australia. I finally found them at a local Woolworths supermarket.
With most of my cooking I tend to go for a simple approach, and don’t use a lot of herbs, spices or anything else that masks the flavour of the main ingredient. There are many fancy recipes available on the internet for beef cheeks, but I simply slow cook them in a casserole with a few veges like carrots, celery, onion and a clove or two of garlic, then serve them with mashed potato. The cheeks I buy are trimmed and skinned, but still have a lot of the connective tissue on them. I don’t remove any of it! After a couple of hours cooking at a low heat, the cheeks are wonderfully tender, with a smooth, sticky almost jelly like texture from the collagen in them. I guess some people might find the gooeyness of them unpleasant, but I love it. And for flavour, to me they are the best of beef for casserole or braising (or at least equal to Osso Bucco).
I would really recommend if you haven’t eaten them to hunt some down and try them.