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  • Archive | January, 2009

    Is Beef Tendon the New Pork Belly?

    If beef tendon isn’t lined up to be the next pork belly, I sure hope it gets there soon. While pork belly is popular now, it was once a virtual unknown in the meat cuts world. Americans found it too fatty, it wasn’t a taste that meshed with that early 90s heroin chic. Yet as the 20th century mentality faded away, we began to not only accept the fatty and delicious cut, but to revere it in more ways than just bacon.

    Food writers everywhere have made their guesses as to what cut comes next as the fad to go from offal to awesome, from only being on the menu at hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants to being the shining star of an upcoming small plates, seasonal, local joint. After last week, I’m putting my money on the beef tendon, and please allow me to tell you why.

    Pork belly introduced Americans to the voluptuous feeling of melting fat in their mouths. It was a baby step, one layer amongst other meaty and even crispy ones, but it was a step. Beef tendon is almost entirely made up of that feeling of melting fat, it is the adult step. Properly braised, though,the flavor combined with the texture makes this an amazing cut of meat.

    For years now, you’ve been able to find tendon on the menu at your local pho joint, and in Seattle it was best found at Szechuan Noodle Bowl in their delicious beef and tendon Szechuan noodle soup. Recently, I pulled it off the dim sum cart at a brand new place. Each time I eat it, I get a little bit more excited.

    Yet, I know, while I can hope its time will come, beef tendon is playing a waiting game. A search on the internet does not turn up very many hits and even fewer of those are actually recipes. My mountain of cookbooks (stored as such since I long ago ran out of shelf space) also let me down. Not one of them had a tendon recipe, not even the old school Chinese ones! I tried to develop one myself, but it was difficult to find one that really allowed the tendon to shine. Seven hours later, of my 3 different recipes, none were very edible. In fact, if you have a recipe, send it my way, I don’t plan to give up yet.

    If you are looking to buy some and you live in the Seattle area, Olsen Farms at the Ballard Farmer’s Market will sell you some, despite the fact that one of the other beef vendors told me they were not allowed to sell due to USDA rules.

    I can only hope that people will try it, become fans and it too, like pork belly, will have 260,000 Google hits when you search for recipes.

    More Food Porn: Fry Up…with Blood Sausage

    Let me offer my apologies. As I’ve been quite busy the past three days, I eventually time to write about the things that I wanted to post about. Thus, you get a picture of a kickin breakfast I had in London. Yes, it was another fry up (I had three in the two weeks I was there), but this time, it came with black sausage! I found this place by the Tower of London, the only restaurant that happened to be open at the time. Alas, the name escapes me, and my google-fu is weak.

    As a reminder and update, Andrea and I have another Beer challenge to fulfill this weekend. Well, actually only I have the challenge. Andrea is there for moral support. We’ll be at Floyd’s Place in Queen Anne, Seattle for Super Bowl Sunday, where I will have to count as many beer commercials as I can. As I am also rooting for the Steelers in the big game, I still have yet to figure out how I’m going to take potty breaks.

    At any rate, I’ll be there early, no later than noon, the game starts at 3:30 PST. Any and all are invited to stop in and say “Hi!”. I’ll be the one in the Hines Ward jersey with my Terrible Towel at my side.

    Floyd’s Place
    521 1st Ave N
    Seattle, WA 98109

    Delicious Turkish Delights at Seattle’s Pike Place Market

    My first post-college destination, thanks to my first post-college job offer, was the beautiful Emerald City. Seattle, that is. Overlooking the waters of Elliott Bay, I had the marvelous opportunity to work for a company located downtown, mere blocks from the infamous Pike Place Market. Every chance I got – before work, during breaks, after work – I would venture down to the market to peruse the fresh produce, the fish displays, the colorful flowers. Not to mention the incredible people watching!

    During one of our lunch adventures, my dearest co-workers, Anna and Bob, introduced me to a small, unobtrusive restaurant located near the end of Pike Place named Turkish Delight. Featuring delectable pita sandwiches piled high with meat and veggies, and sheet pans full of freshly made pistachio baklava, Turkish Delight quickly became my lunch spot of choice.

    During my recent weekend visit to Seattle, I was thrilled to see that Turkish Delight is still in the same spot, and still serving their tasty döner kebab sandwiches. At just under $20 for a pita sandwich and two pieces of baklava, it may not be the most affordable pick for lunch, but the splurge is well worth it – not to mention supporting a wonderful, local business! With the biggest, yummiest pita sandwiches around, you won’t want to share. Be sure to bring cash, though. This is a credit card-free zone!

    Turkish Delight
    1930 Pike Place
    Seattle, Washington 98101

    Turkish Delight, Seattle

    Home Brewing

    There are two things to remember if you ever get invited to a home brewers house whilst they are brewing.

    1) Never turn down a beer that is offered.


    2) One should endeavor to finish said beer.

    Matt is a co-worker and is quite serious about both engineering and home brewing. We had gotten to know each other through various trials and tribulations at work, and soon after he discovered I was writing the whiskey book, let me know about his passion for beer.

    Oh, in the picture above, Matt is the one on the right. Marc, his brew partner is the one on the left.

    Over the course of the past year, we compared notes on fermentation and brewing techniques, with me coming from a whiskey aspect, and him letting me know of professional and amateur beer brewing ones. Once I decided the next book was to be about beer, he invited me along to witness what work is involved in home brewing. This is how I found myself standing outside in 32 degree weather for close to six hours this past Saturday.

    While there both Andrea and myself witnessed two different beers being made, a maple porter, as well as an IPA.

    Now I could go and discuss the particular home brewing process. But it’s fairly straight forward. You create a Mash out of various grains, mostly barley, and cook them with the intent of removing the flavor of the grain and instilling it in the water. Then you move the filtered liquid to the boil, adding some sparge along the way. It’s during the boil that the hops are added, making it the second flavor element in the beer. Then, finally, it’s transferred to a fermenter, where the yeast is added, and the magical process truly begins. But that last bit is done mostly out of sight of the brewers, as it’s a process that takes a while. From fermenter to keg can take as long as a month. So we didn’t get a chance to witness that part.

    The above is a general idea of the process, and I will be sure to give a more in depth explanation of it in the coming months. But there are two points I learned that I really wanted to get across here.

    For one, from at least how Matt and Marc do it, home brewing seems a very sociable activity. Yes, work needs done, and things have to happen in a somewhat precise manner. But a fair amount of brewing actually involves standing around and watch the pots cook or boil, depending upon where one is at in the process. And while Andrea and I played our roles of asking questions and keeping the talks going, Marc indicated to me that this is a common occurance with him when brewing, and brewing has often been a catalyst for friends and neighbors to show up, under the guise of just saying “hi”, but really wanting to see what was going on. Over the course of the six hours, no less than three separate neighbors showed up to talk briefly with Matt and Marc about beer.

    The second thing I learned…well, not learned so much as had an idea validated, was just how much flavor variation one can get with different barley and other grains. Take a look at the different recipes Matt has on his beer page. When I’ve witnessed this process on an industrial level, the context of “recipes” seems to get lost in the enormity of the process. But when the pot is holding roughly a half-kegs worth of grain varieties, the idea of how much variation in taste and flavor one can get from the grain really hit home for me.

    Ditto for the hops, where it seemed more akin to making hop tea with the barley water, as I watched the bags of hops roll in the boil. Some hops are added for flavor (or a level of bitterness), others were added to add to the beer’s final bouquet.

    The day was quite informative. The better days in my life have almost always been ones where ideas clicked, and things started to make sense. That I had to have these experiences whilst laughing and talking around brewing while nursing an offered beer only made the day shine that much brighter.

    Italian Hot Sausage Sandwich – Still Yet Another Pittsburgh Super Bowl Recipe

    Italian Sausage
    (Another blast from the past, this recipe is a quick and easy addition to any football party.)

    I cannot tell you how many of these I had growing up. There were invariably sold at either Fireman’s Carnivals or Wedding Receptions held at the local VFW. They are also a staple at the Steeler Tailgating celebrations.They’re also quite tasty on a cold winter afternoon.

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1 large onion, sliced
    • 1 green pepper, sliced
    • 1 red pepper, sliced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 pounds Italian hot sausage, cut into 6 inch lengths
    • 2 cups marinara
    • 1 14 oz can canned diced tomatoes, drained
    • Parsley
    • Basil
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 8 corn dusted French Buns

    Place a large stock pot over medium heat. Place in butter and olive oil and allow the butter to melt. Place the onions, peppers and garlic, and cook until the onions start to get soft (about 5-7 minutes).

    Place the sausage among the peppers and onions, and allow to brown on both sides. This will take about 10 – 12 minutes altogether.

    While the sausages are browning in the stock pot, in a small sauce pan pour the two cups of marinara over medium heat. In a food processor, pulse together the can of tomatoes, parsley and basil. Mix the pureed tomatoes with the marinara. Pour the tomato mixture over the sausages, and cover the stock pan. Lower the heat to medium low and allow to simmer for approximately one hour.

    Slice open the bun, add some sauce, peppers and onions, and add the sausage.

    Serves 8

    Roethlis-burger: Yet Another Pittsburgh Super Bowl Recipe

    Only five more days to the big game! I think I’m set. I’ve even have a Hines Ward jersey which I will proudly wear come Sunday.

    Until then, I will have to do with thinking about my hometown of Pittsburgh, and what the city can and does offer in regard to food traditions. This latest one isn’t as much of a tradition, as it is a recent novelty. This sandwich was started in 2004 when Peppi’s on the North Side decided to give name to one of their sandwiches when the then rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger broke in the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Roethlis-burger was born.

    Since then, there have been other Roethlis-burger recipes, but this is the first. This is a sandwich that should only be attempted by professionals, as there are risks involved here. Be sure to be close to a heart monitor at the least, and an ICU if things really go bad.

    It should be noted that I added my own touch here, a little something special, in honor of the big game. The use of pepperoncini is, I believe, still rooted in Pittsburgh sandwich traditions.

    • 1 lb ground beef
    • 1 lb ground pork sausage
    • 1 Tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning (other similar steak seasonings will be okay)
    • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and sliced
    • 10 pepperoncini, destemmed and chopped
    • 6 eggs
    • 8 of American or Cheddar Cheese
    • 16 slices of tomato
    • lettuce
    • 8 Hoagie buns, or large hamburger buns, slightly toasted. (Portuguese Rolls are preferred, but others should be okay).

    Combine 1 egg with the ground beef and ground pork sausage. Mix well with the steak seasoning, and make eight patties. These patties don’t have to be perfect, for reasons which will be made apparent. Set aside.

    Cook the sliced onions until browned and softened, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat.

    Place patties on a large skillet that has been placed on medium heat. Cook 5 minutes to a side, cooking the first side twice.

    At the same time, take the remaining eggs and make scrambled eggs. Remove from heat when completed.

    After cooking the first side of the burger for the second time, chopped the patties with your spatula, ensuring you have chunks and bits of hamburger. Separate the chopped meat into eight different piles. Top the piles with onions and pepperoncini and a slice of cheese. Heat until the cheese starts to melt.

    To make the sandwich, place the scrambled eggs on the bottom half of the bun, and lettuce to the top. Place one cheese covered pile of hamburger onto the eggs, and top with two tomatoes. Cap the sandwich and serve immediately.

    Then state “Yinz goin’ dahntahn to rut fer the Stillers?”

    Serves 8

    Country-style Ribs

    This is an adaptation of Sally Schneider’s Lacquered Baby Back Ribs recipe from her book A New Way to Cook. The rich and spicy sauce is used both as a marinade and to baste the ribs when they are just about done to give them a nice caramelized finish.

    I often do this recipe with country-style ribs instead of baby-backs. Country-style ribs aren’t really ribs. They’re cut from the shoulder roast (a.k.a. Boston butt). There’s a good amount of meat there, along with enough fat to keep them tender when they’re cooked low and slow.

    3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
    1 tablespoon curry powder
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    2 tablespoons dark rum
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    3-5 pounds of country-style ribs, boneless if possible

    Combine all the ingredients except the ribs. Put the ribs in a big Ziploc bag and add the marinade. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Marinate overnight in the fridge. Let sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking.

    Follow the directions for your particular grill to create a indirect fire that will burn for at least 4 hours at 300°F. Use a drip pan under the ribs to catch the fat.

    Once the grill is up to temperature, add your smoking wood. If using a gas grill, place 2-4 cups of soaked wood chunks in the smoker box. If using a charcoal grill, toss a fist-sized lump right into the coals.

    Remove the ribs from the marinade (save the marinade), put them on the grill, and close the lid. While the ribs are cooking, pour the marinade into a small saucepan, bring to a boil for about a minute.

    Give the ribs a flip after they have been on the grill for 1 hour. At 2 hours, give the ribs a flip again and start checking internal temperature. Continue cooking until they reach 160°F internal (about 2-3 hours, depending on thickness).

    While the country ribs are done at 160°F, they are not yet tender. Flip the ribs and baste them with 1/3 of the reserved marinade. Cook the ribs for 20 minutes, flip and baste. Cook for another 20 minutes, flip and baste a final time. Check the internal temperature – it should be right around 180°F. If not, flip them again and cook until they reach 180°F.

    Serve the ribs as just as they are as finger food, or slice them against the grain and serve them drizzled with a little hoisin sauce. Any leftovers are great chopped up to make pork-fried rice.