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Posts tagged ‘ribs’

Super Bowl Sunday, the Meat of the Matter

For something beyond finger food…that will stick to the ribs and help absorb some of the alcohol on game day, here are our picks.

You can’t go wrong with chili. It’s a one-pot, make-ahead meal that can be ladled out in haste between plays. Melt some cheese on top, serve with corn chips. Or with bacon cornbread. Everyone loves chili. We take ours with buffalo, thank you. 

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For a variation on the theme, this tomatillo and lamb stew is hearty, warming, and a lovely surprise for your Super Bowl guests. You might serve it with tortillas to soak up the luscious juices.

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Tomatillo Lamb Stew

Forget about the Velveeta shortage and try eating real macaroni with real cheese. And real truffles.

Whether you follow directions and make individual ramekins of this decadent mac ‘n’ cheese, or  whip up a huge batch and dole out spoonfuls, this is a dish not easily forgotten. Which is to say that when truffles and cream meet over noodles of any kind, there is true magic.  Get good at making this, because it will be requested again and again.

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Black Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese

No sooner do we think of mac-n-cheese than sliders come to mind. Did we promise a foie-gras-free zone? Sorry about that! These buffalo mini burgers with foie gras are too tempting. Not to worry, it’s just our medallion of foie  gras with truffles, which we treat as a spread in this recipe. So easy! The sweet-sour tangy flavor of the onion marmalade balances this burger beautifully.

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Buffalo Burgers with Foie Gras Spread and Sweet Onion Marmalade

Class up the party with a massive Berkshire pork loin, prepared simply: stuffed with garlic and herbs, rolled, tied and then roasted. It’s an easy way to serve up to 10 people and it sure looks impressive.

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Garlic Roasted Pork Loin

And there’s always ribs. Glorious ribs. Smoky, sweet, sticky ribs. Roasted in the oven and slathered with sauce…pork spare ribs or St. Louis style, beef short ribs or even wild boar ribs …  we never saw a rib we didn’t like.  Serve up platters of ribs and make everyone happy this Super Bowl Sunday.

Ribs Recipes

Braising Essentials

Because we are offering 15% off our favorite cuts for braising this week, we thought it was the perfect time to share some tips for this technique.

Braising is comfort cooking at its finest, and it’s surprisingly easy. And while you may be inclined to keep the dishes all to yourself, braising is a great option for entertaining. With most of the hands-on work completed before the dish even goes into the oven there is ample time to spend with guests, and as the braise cooks it warms your home with an enticing, rich perfume. A larger batch is no more work, yet leaves enough for leftovers, no sharing required. Here are some of our braising basics.

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Equipment
There is really only one piece of special equipment needed for braising – the vessel. You should always use a high-quality, non-reactive, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid. Your pot should be deep enough to hold all of your ingredients while allowing about two inches of space at the top for evaporation and condensation, or self-basting, as we like to call it. If in doubt, always go up a size. Some specialty pots have features that enhance this moisture up/moisture down process, like a cocotte which has small spikes on the underside of the lid allowing for continuous self-basting, or a doufeu, a pot with a recessed lid to which you add ice to speed up condensation. These features are nice but often come with a hefty price tag. For basic braising, we recommend a simple Dutch oven made from enameled cast iron as it conducts and holds heat evenly and can be used to both brown the meat stovetop, then finish braising in the oven for true one-pot cooking.

The long & short of it
There are two basic types of braising: short and long. Short braising, or cuisson à l’étuvée in French, is great for vegetables, small birds and lean, tender poultry such as chicken or rabbit. It’s a fast process by which you quickly brown the ingredients in fat then add a flavorful liquid and barely simmer until just cooked through. The entire process is finished in less than an hour. Long braising or, braisage, uses similar techniques but achieves something different entirely. Tough cuts of meat such as short ribs, shoulders, shanks and briskets are browned in fat, then liquid and aromatics are added and the dish is cooked at very low temperature, staying below a simmer, for a long period of time. Cooking meat slow and low breaks down the sinewy connective tissue, first into collagen, then melting into gelatin. The cooking liquid reduces to become the accompanying rich and complex sauce.

Browning Basics
When browning meat for braising, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, never skip this step as browning the meat is an essential part of the braising process and your dish will lack flavor without it. Lean or tender cuts should be patted dry for a more intense browning effect. Fatty cuts should be dusted with flour pre-searing to develop a nice crust that will help to hold juices in. Heat your oil (duck fat works beautifully!) over high flame until quite hot then add your meat. Get the meat evenly brown and crusty on all sides. Be mindful not to crowd the pan, working in batches if necessary.

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Get Saucy!
The fork-tender meat may get top billing in braised dishes but the rich, luscious sauce is just as important. This long gentle method of cooking does most of the sauce work for you. There are some subtle tweaks you can make at the end of cooking to adjust the final product and really make your dish shine. If your sauce is thinner than you’d like, simply move some of the liquid to a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat. When thickened, add back into the pot. If your sauce is too thick, add some hot broth or wine and simmer. If you were over-generous with your seasoning, add a peeled potato or two during cooking. The starch will absorb a bit of the salt. Discard them before serving. Not enough flavor? Add freshly chopped herbs, citrus zest or spices at the very end of cooking and offer a bit at the table for garnish. Not enough body? At the end of cooking, shave in a small amount of bitter chocolate! It’s a professional kitchen secret that few chefs will reveal. A light hand will yield spectacular results. If your dish is too fatty, simply chill the whole pot in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top and solidify, making it easy to discard. The extra time allows the flavors to marry and concentrate too. If you’re short on time, you can also let it rest for a half hour then skim the top with a shallow spoon.

Quick Tips

When reheating, remove the meat from the thickened sauce and bring it to a low boil then toss the meat back in just to heat through.

Braised dishes freeze beautifully – make a big pot, freeze individual portions in airtight containers and enjoy on a cold, rainy day.

Braised meats also make fantastic leftovers. Try adding to tacos or burritos, shepherd’s pie, pasta, sandwiches or salads.

Braise, Baby, Braise, with 15% OFF!

Yes, we are launching into serious autumnal cooking! It’s time to slowly simmer and tenderize with a braise. And to inspire you, we’re offering 15% off a selection of our favorite cuts for braising at dartagnan.com. From ribs and racks to shanks and shoulders, apply the simple technique for tender results. Our special pricing lasts through October 11, 2013, so shop now.

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Regional American BBQ

Ah, America the beautiful. Mom, apple pie, baseball, purple mountains majesty. There’s much to be culturally proud of, if you’re an American, even though our dear nation is relatively a baby compared to other countries around the globe. And while many of the things we love to eat in these United States have been borrowed from other countries — particularly the hamburger (Germany) and the hot dog (also Germany), and the pizza pie (Naples, Italy) — there is one type of food that everyone will agree is uniquely American: Barbecue.3733778

While the concept of roasting meat over low heat for a long time is as old as history itself, American barbecue evolved, over the years, to become something of its own, independent character. Sure, you can get a spit-roasted lamb in Greece, barbacoa in Mexico, or a whole suckling pig in Spain. But try to get a rack of “fall-off-the-bone” beef ribs smothered in thick, tangy, spicy mustard-based BBQ sauce anywhere else in the world, and you’ll either come away empty-handed or disappointed.

The first thing that anyone should know about barbecue (or “barbeque” or “BBQ” as it’s also often known), is that it is never a verb. One does not “barbecue.” Similarly, a “barbecue” is not an event, nor is it a type of grill. The term “barbecue” means, quite simply, meat. Specifically, it is meat that has been cooked “low and slow” over charcoal or wood. Purists will never allow gas-cooked meat to be considered real “barbecue.” And “vegetarian barbecue”…well, let’s not get silly, shall we? That said, the different types of barbecue to be found in the USA are as varied as its regions and people. Although there are some outliers in Yankee states, most barbecue – and what many feel is the best to be found in America – comes from the southern states.

So, who does what kind of barbecue, and how? Exploring the regional variations is as fascinating as it is delicious. If you happen to live in Texas, the land of the long horn, you’re going to go straight for the beef brisket, sliced and served with a light brown, mustard-based sauce. Famous versions of classic Texas barbecue can be found at places such as Austin’s The Salt Lick, or Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas.

But not all barbecue is beef, of course. In the western parts of Kentucky, for example, they use neither beef nor pork to make their barbecue, but rather mutton, which is an older sheep. “Why not use lamb,” you might wonder? Because lamb is soft and tender and wonderful when cooked rare or medium rare. With mutton, because it’s older and has more connective tissue, you need to cook it for a long time to get those tough tissues and fatty muscle to break down, much like you would do with braised meat. In the rest of Kentucky, instead of mutton, you’ll find some wonderful sliced pork butt, from the shoulder of the pig.

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Sweet Sticky Ribs, recipe by Ray Lampe

Then, of course, is the matter of sauce, which is likely the best way to differentiate the regional barbecue styles in the US. In Memphis, Tennessee, you’re definitely going to want to tuck into some dry-rubbed pork or beef ribs, although they can be served dry or dripping with sauce. Tennesseans also like their sauce nice and smoky, whereas in Georgia, you can have your barbecue either sweet or spicy. Similarly, BBQ enthusiasts in Arkansas enjoy a kind of grab bag of different meats and sauces, although many prefer it to be spicy, as do most of those who love to dig into barbecue in Louisiana. If you happen to be in the midwest, you’re best off if you love your meat covered in lots of sauce, because that’s how you’ll get the best barbecue in places like Kansas City and St. Louis.

Vinegar is also an important factor in barbecue; sauces made from vinegar as the base are popular in North Carolina, home of the “pig pickin,” and in Mississippi, where they love their meat nice and vinegary. But perhaps the two most interesting types of BBQ sauce can be found in South Carolina, where you’ll discover a yellow sauce made from mustard, and Alabama, where, believe it or not, the barbecue sauce is white, derived from a mayonnaise base. Note, if you’re going to try to replicate this kind of sauce and have a good recipe, make sure to mop it on your barbecue only after it’s off the grill, since the mayonnaise will separate if it gets too hot, and no one wants that.

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Babyback Ribs with Coffee Barbecue Sauce, recipe by Susan Spungen

Whichever barbecue you enjoy best, always make sure you get your meat from a trusted source, and make sure to keep those coals from getting too hot. And, at the end of a long day cooking barbecue, you’ll be rewarded not only with some of the best meat found on the planet earth, but that also carries that wonderful, indispensable trademark: Made in the U.S.A.

A Day of Meat: Backstage at a Photo Shoot

What do you do when you’ve got a whole lot of meat to photograph? Well, here at D’Artagnan we turn to Ted Axelrod, a local photographer with an appreciation for good food and a meaty sense of humor.

Ted’s studio is in his home, which is crammed with all kinds of cool props, from cutting boards to glassware, vintage dishes to copper pots. He’s got perfect natural light in his sunroom and a spare refrigerator, which came in handy for us.

With piles of products ranging from raw Wagyu beef short ribs and rack of lamb to truffle butter and charcuterie, we set to work on the two-day shoot. Turns out it’s not so easy to make raw meat look appetizing! Our hats are off to all the food stylists and photographers out there whose work makes us drool.

Ted’s dogs, Gracie and Ella, were so well behaved; they didn’t snag a single duck breast off the table. And considering they had to endure the smell of raw meat all day, that’s a small miracle! We will admit to tossing them a few trimmings from the steaks and chops…and the innards from the chicken and pheasant.

On day two we set up a huge panoramic spread that represented nearly every type of product we sell. With a camera suspended on an arm directly overhead, we tweaked and previewed and reorganized until everything looked perfect. Then we unwrapped it all!  As soon as meat is exposed to the air, it begins to oxidize, which makes it dull in color. You’ve got to move fast.

Naturally, we left the fridge full of food!  Ted and his wife Susan, who is a food writer and editor, have been cooking up a storm with it all, and posting some of the results on their blog Spoon and Shutter.

We love their braised pheasant post, with step-by-step instructions, and the great photos (we’d expect nothing less!). Check out their progress as they try to eat their way through our catalog!

Look for Ted’s photos to be posted on our website soon.

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