Category Archives: meat

Bulgogi-esque Grilled Ribeye

This did smoke; use the exhaust fan if you have one.

Quick, Easy, Kind of Korean

It may be grilling season, but sometimes it still seems a little too time-consuming or wasteful to fire up the outdoor grill when you’re cooking for one or two people. For nights when I just want dinner to happen quickly, but I also want it to have char marks and smoke, I’m loving our new slab of cast iron. It’s smooth on one side—good for pancakes and eggs—and ribbed for your charring pleasure on the other, as you can see above.

I grabbed this recipe off Slashfood for something reminiscent of bulgogi. Standard Asian marinade—soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sugar, black pepper, green onion. Hard to go wrong there. I might add some red pepper flakes next time. And then, instead of having a butcher cut the steak into thin strips or freezing and then cutting the steak, I just bought a 1-lb ribeye, marinated and grilled it whole and sliced it after resting.

the thinner end turned out about Medium the thicker end was Medium Rare, verging on Rare

I turned the burners up as high as they’d go about 10 minutes before cooking and cooked the steak for 5 minutes on each side, accompanied by thick slices of onion that had also been marinated. Then I rested the meat for 5 minutes before slicing it against the grain. We ate the meat and onions together, wrapped in romaine leaves with Sriracha. Totally inauthentic. Totally delicious.

I know--wrong kind of lettuce, wrong kind of hot sauce, wrong way to do the meat. Whatever, it tasted awesome.

Recipe: Bulgogi-ish Ribeye (adapted from Slashfood)

Ingredients

  • a steak or two—something like ribeye or flank steak (you probably want about 8 oz per person, scale up the marinade if cooking for more than 4 people)
  • one large white or yellow onion
  • optional garnishes: lettuce leaves, hot sauce, steamed rice and pickled things

For marinade:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • a thumb-sized knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • one green onion, minced
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, cayenne powder, or Sriracha (optional)

Method

1. Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour the mixture into a zip-top bag or other container large enough to accommodate the meat. Slice the large onion thickly and place the steak and onion slices in the marinade. Toss and turn or shake to cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 8 hours or overnight.

2. Get your grill or broiler hot. Put the steak and onions on and let cook for 5 minutes. Turn both the steak and onion slices once and cook 5 minutes more on the other side. For a typical cut, that will turn out mostly medium rare (or, for uneven thickness, a range between medium and rare). Cook more or less if you like it more or less done. For thicker cuts, cook to 125 F in the middle for rare, 130 F for medium rare, 140 F for medium, 150 F for medium well, and 160 F for well). Or use the finger test.

3. Let the steak rest for 5 minutes, and then slice thinly against the grain.

4. Serve with garnishes.

Whole Chicken Stock Photo Tutorial

Do you really need a recipe or a photo tutorial for something this simple? Probably not. Simmer some chicken and vegetables and after a while, voila: stock. But I appreciated the images and time guidelines provided by the recipe I used

I usually just use leftover bones to make stock. But last weekend, I wanted to make a big batch of congee, and I wanted a whole chicken’s worth of meat in it. Roasting the bird first just to pull all the meat off and throw the bones in a pot seemed like it couldn’t possibly be the most efficient method. Plus, I kept reading (most recently here) that stock made with raw meat and bones beats the pants off the stuff made from a leftover, cooked carcass. So I decided to try the technique described in this recipe for pho ga.

Basically, you poach a whole chicken in 5 quarts of water for about a half an hour, and then remove most of the meat and reserve it so it doesn’t get over-cooked. The rest of the chicken goes back in the pot and gets simmered long and slow to draw all the flavor out of the bones and whatever vegetables and spices you want to use. Pretty simple, even with a few additional steps like charring some of the vegetables and parboiling the chicken. It takes a long time, but it’s mostly not active time—a good project for a weekend day when you’ll be around the house, but have other things you need to get done (like, for example, a dissertation).

Since I wasn’t looking for that distinctive pho flavor, I used leek tops instead of the cilantro and added a head of garlic, a few carrots, and a small celery heart—going for more of a typical European chicken soup flavor profile. The pho recipe also calls for 3 pounds of chicken neck and back bones, but I didn’t feel like making a special trip to a butcher and figured one whole chicken would provide plenty of flavor. I did crack the largest bones before adding the carcass back to the pot to expose the marrow, and I also added a little vinegar because supposedly that helps leach out the minerals. Trying to make the most out of those bones.

I think you could serve this like a consomme, super hot and poured over some diced vegetables and herbs. The flavor was so robust, I just kind of wanted to drink it.

The result was glorious: stunningly rich, almost like a consommé. Much cleaner-tasting and less cloudy than the stock I usually make. The flavor was heady and slightly sweet from the charred ginger and onion and semi-roasted garlic. Plus, the chicken meat turned out succulent, flavorful, and tender. Just what I was looking for. Click for detailed instructions & photos:

Step 1: Char the onion, ginger, and/or garlic. For traditional pho, this would be done on a grill, and there’s no garlic involved. I used my oven broiler set at 500F. If you have a gas range, you can also char the vegetables by placing them directly on the burners over a medium flame. Peel the onions, but leave the ginger just as it is. If using garlic, wrap the whole head in foil.

For the broiler method: quarter the onions and place all the aromatic vegetables on a foil-lined baking sheet 1-2” from the heat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning every 3-5 minutes until they’re just beginning to soften and some of the edges are blistered and black. If using a fennel bulb, give it the same treatment.

On the grill, you can leave the onions whole; I quartered them so they'd fit under the broiler

I pulled off the darkest blisters, but leaving some of the charred bits will add to the flavor of the stock

Broil (or grill) the aromatic vegetables until they look like this:

The onions don't need to be cooked through, but just that little bit of softness and caramelization enhances the flavor a lot If the flat side of the knife doesn't work, the base of the handle should Flat side of a knife works great for this Peel and crush the ginger and garlic, if using

Step 2: Parboil the chicken. This step is supposed to “remove impurities” that cloud the broth. First, you remove the chicken wings—the bones will pop out if you twist them back, and then you can just cut through the flesh. Then put the chicken, wings, and any other bones you’re using in a pot and add just enough water to cover them. Bring it to a boil over high heat and boil for 2-3 minutes. Then, dump it all out into the sink, rinse the chicken parts, and give the pot a quick scrub to remove any residue.

give the wing a hard twist and the bone should separate from the socket and pop through the skin

then you can just slice through the skin and flesh with a sharp knife; no cleaver requiredRemove the wings

I guess this is the stuff that normally clouds my stock? Who knew you could get rid of it with 2-3 minutes of boiling and a quick rinse

scrub all that residue out of the pot

Boil for 2-3 minutes and then rinse

If you don’t care about “impurities” or cloudiness, you can skip this step, but you might want to add 10 minutes or so to the chicken cooking time. Parboiling isn’t as effective at clarifying stock as a consommé "raft”, but it does get rid of some of the scummy particles. Instructions below for how to turn this stock into a true consommé.

Step 3: Poach the chicken with the vegetables. Return the chicken and wings to the pot, and add 5 quarts of cold water, 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt, the charred onions and any other vegetables you’re using. Add any other spices and herbs at this point too—peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seed, cilantro, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, carrot greens, leek tops, etc. Bring to a simmer, not a full boil (turn the heat down if it’s bubbling too vigorously) and cook for 25 minutes.

This recipe fills my 8 qt pot about to its maximum capacity; I'll probably use the 12 qt pot next time

a gentle simmer means small bubbles like these, not big or constant bubbling

Simmer the chicken and vegetables

Step 4: Remove the meat. Take the chicken out of the pot and let it rest on a cutting board for 20-25 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Keep the vegetables simmering. When the chicken is cool, cut the breast meat off and remove the legs from the body. If you pull the thigh & drumstick together, they should separate from the body pretty easily, and you should be able to slice through any connective skin & tissue easily with a normal chef’s knife, just like with the wings. Pull the leg meat off in large pieces, and cover all the meat and refrigerate it until you want to use it (keeping it in larger pieces preserves the moistness). Cut the leg bones in half with a cleaver or score them with a knife you don’t care about and snap them to expose the marrow. Return the bones to the pot and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vinegar or a hefty glug of white wine (~4 oz).

I threw the skin back in the pot so all the fat would render out and I could scrape it off the top to use for cooking

Remove the breast and leg meat

Don't do this with a good knife, unless you have a good cleaver designed to cut bones. If you don't have a cleaver, use a knife you don't care about to score the bones and make them easier to snap in two

whole chicken stock 032

Break the large bones to expose the marrow

Step 5: Simmer the bones. Cover the pot and cook for 3-8 hours. Some people claim that 3 hours is sufficient to get most of the flavor out of the bones, but it takes at least 6 hours to get all the collagen out. For some people, that’s the difference between “broth” and “stock”: the latter is richer because it contains more gelatin, so much so that it may set like Jell-O when chilled if you use enough bones. If you want that kind of richness, you will need the extra bones called for in the pho recipe—use a large package of wings if you can’t get your hands on chicken necks and backs.At the start, pale gold After six hours, much richer. Even though I kept it covered, it still reduced significantly. If the liquid ever gets too low to cover the carcass and vegetables, add enough water to cover

 Cover and simmer for 3-8 hours

Step 6: Strain, chill, and skim. I remove the large bones and vegetable chunks to a colander suspended over a bowl, and then return the liquid that drains into the bowl to the pot while I line the colander with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Then, I strain all the liquid through the cheesecloth and gather the ends together and squeeze it as dry as possible with a pair of kitchen tongs, kind of like a giant bag of chicken tea. Let the stock sit on the counter for at least 2 hours or up to overnight—if you refrigerate it immediately, it may heat up the interior of your refrigerator too much. I’m sure people who are fussy about food safety will blanche at the idea of leaving it out for 8+ hours, but I do it routinely without anyone ever getting sick. If you’re concerned or need it to be cool faster, immerse the bowl or pot in a sink full of cold water until barely warm to the touch.

Tongs or a slotted spoon are good for removing most of the large solids

You could probably also use paper towel, although it might break and

 Strain out the large parts in a colander, return collected liquid to pot,
then strain all the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth

This was more like 2.5 quarts because it reduced, but it was super flavorful and could be watered down to 3-4 quarts easily

I soaked some dried mushrooms in the stock while it was hot, and they probably absorbed some of the fat too; normally there would be more. Still, if you want to have a covering of fat to preserve it for longer fridge storage, put it in a jar or something with a narrow top.

 The fat will float to the surface, and solidify when chilled.

Some people claim you should use stock within 3 days or freeze it; other people claim that you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 months. If doing the latter, it supposedly helps to leave the layer of fat on top to “seal” it and prevent spoilage. You can leave the fat in the stock if you like; however, it may make simple recipes like brothy soups taste greasy. Once chilled, the fat will solidify and can be skimmed off easily with a slotted spoon. In recipes that include emulsifiers or stabilizers like egg yolk or starch, the fat should incorporate easily and add richness without an oily mouth-feel. You can also cook with the fat—I skimmed it off and used it to sweat the mirepoix for my congee.

Bonus: In addition to 2.5-4 quarts of stock, this method yields 4-5 cups of perfectly-cooked chicken.

I know you can't tell how moist and succulent this meat was, but seriously: with a little salt, this was good enough to devour on its own. It would not be out of place in any soup, salad, omelet, etc. Or just douse it in buffalo sauce and go to town.

Recipe: Whole Chicken Stock (adapted from Viet World Kitchen)
makes 2.5-4 quarts stock plus 4-5 cups of cooked chicken meat

Essentials:

  • One whole chicken, ~4 lbs
  • 5 quarts water, plus more for par-boiling the bird
  • 2 large onions
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice or 4-6 ounces white wine or dry vermouth (Noilly Prat preferred to avoid a peculiar aftertaste)a few big carrots or celery ribs would probably be sufficient

Optional stuff I used in this batch:

  • 1 head garlic
  • fresh ginger, about 4”
  • 4 carrots
  • a small celery heart (about 2 cups roughly chopped, with leaves)
  • green tops from 3 leeks

Other optional additions:

  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • a few sprigs of parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill, or tarragon
  • a large handful of sage, parsley, or cilantro
  • a bulb of fennel, also better lightly-charred
  • a few shallots or green onions, charred or not
  • a tablespoon of any kind of whole spice you want, toasted in a dry skillet if desired

Variations/Serving Ideas:

For traditional pho: use the ginger but none of the other optional vegetables for the stock, and add 4-5 star anise, a half a dozen cloves, a cinnamon stick, about 1 oz raw cane sugar, and 1/4 cup fish sauce. Skim the fat. To serve, place the following in large bowls: a handful of rice stick noodles that have been softened by a quick dunk in hot tap water, 2-3 tablespoons very thinly-sliced onions, a few ounces of meat or tofu (like shredded cooked chicken or thinly-sliced raw beef). Cover with steaming hot broth just before serving, or serve in small pitchers or jars and let people pour it into the bowls themselves at the table. Garnish with mung bean sprouts, thai basil leaves, lime wedges, and thinly sliced serrano chilis.

For lighter pho: use the ginger but none of the other optional vegetables for the stock, and add a large bunch of cilantro, 2 tablespoons toasted coriander seed, 1 oz raw cane sugar, and 1/4 cup fish sauce. Serve just like the traditional pho, with more cilantro to garnish. This lighter broth is more often served with chicken than beef.

For consommé: use the carrots and celery, but no ginger or garlic in the stock. Chill completely and skim off the fat. Dice 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk and half an onion or a whole leek and combine with 1 cup tomato puree, 3 lightly-beaten egg whites, and 1 lb. raw ground chicken meat (the extra meat enriches the stock and replaces some of the flavor you’re “clarifying” out). Put the broth in a large pot and spoon the mixture into it (still cool), and place over medium heat. Stir until it comes to a simmer. The solids will rise to the surface and begin to form a solid “raft” held together by the egg whites. Stop stirring and simmer for 30-45 minutes, letting the stock bubble up through the raft. Remove from the heat and gently remove the raft—in one piece if possible. Strain the stock through several layers of cheesecloth to remove any remaining egg white particles. The resulting liquid should be as clear as glass. Serve as a starter or between courses in a fancy plated meal, garnished simply with julienned fresh vegetables and fresh herbs, or a delicate, poached meat. Similar to pho broth, you can serve consommé in little pitchers or covered pots or jars to keep it hot and let people pour it themselves into a bowl filled with vegetables, meat, herbs, noodles or other garnishes at the table.

Labor Day Lemon & Herb Chicken Drumsticks

I was a tiny bit afraid they'd gotten too dark, but they turned out perfect. If anything, we almost wanted them with a little more char.  

My Most Ambivalent Holiday

I was raised in a Union family. We checked clothing labels and only bought the ones that said “Made in the U.S.” We didn’t buy grapes because of César Chávez. Every year, my dad went to the Eugene V. Debs Memorial Kazoo Night where he watched a Tigers game from the bleachers and between innings, hummed “Solidarity Forever” in unison with bunch of other Union guys. He would bring home magnets that said “Stick it to capitalist tools” and sponges that said “Wipe up capitalist scum” and t-shirts emblazoned with a twist on Debs’ most famous quote:

While there is a lower class, I am in it, and 
while there is a criminal element I am of it, and 
while there is a soul in prison, I am not free, and
while there is a game in Tiger’s Stadium,
I am in the bleachers.

I stole this at some point in college because I just had to have it--a keychain is something you keep with you all the time, and I wanted one that would remind me of my dad

 I think he asked about it at some point and I pretended not to know where it had gone to. I wonder sometimes about whether that makes me a bad daughter...or a good one

My feelings about labor organization have gotten more complicated over the years. I’ve had to reckon with the fact that unions are fallible and that labor history is marred by strategic missteps and ugly bigotry. The current popularity of anti-union sentiment can’t be entirely attributed to Reaganomics and  right-wing campaigns—unions themselves bear at least some responsibility. However, that awareness—the idea that little-u unions can be wrong—seems to exist on a different spatio-temporal plane than my belief that the idea of Unions, or Unions qua Unions are good. That thought/feeling is deeper and also somehow before my ability to think about why unions make mistakes or the erosion of labor organization in the U.S. I guess it’s something like an article of faith.

That’s not to say I don’t have reasons for being pro-Union. I think all workers deserve a say in their conditions of employment. I think more egalitarian resource distribution is both morally and practically a good thing (for some of the same reasons that Robert Reich mentioned in his recent NYTimes op-ed). I believe that protections against some of the worst abuses of workers in the name of profit wouldn’t exist without labor organization, like the minimum wage and child labor laws. But ultimately, it’s impossible for me to separate those beliefs, which might be subjected to rational debate and supported or contested with evidence, from a more inchoate “Union = good” thought/feeling that precedes and undergirds them.

Ultimately, that faith eclipses my cynicism about how the holiday was only established to try to placate workers who were (justifiably) outraged about the fact that federal troops called in to put an end to the Pullman Strike had killed 13 workers and wounded 57. Or how the September date was set to distance it from International Worker’s Day, which commemorates the Haymarket Massacre and tends towards far more radical agitation and demonstration. Or how those injustices and the accomplishments of organized labor have largely slipped from our national memory. In many ways, Labor Day itself is a far better symbol of how unions are pacified and convinced to delay—often indefinitely—their pursuit of more radical demands than it is of the victories of organized labor.

I need bigger cages or stakes to tie them to. Also, I should probably check on them more than once a week.And then there’s the fact that it’s also the symbolic end of summer. The end of sundresses and afternoons when it’s too hot to do anything but take a nap near an open window and hope for the occasional breeze. The end of my annual half-hearted attempt to control a small tomato jungle. It is the official point when I can no longer pretend I’ll ever make up for the gap between everything I had intended to do and the summer that has actually eclipsed—with too few meandering walks, too little of my dissertation written, and far too few mint juleps.

Despite all of that, I love Labor Day for basically the same reason I love Thanksgiving and remain grudgingly fond of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July and, to a  lesser extent, Mother’s and Father’s Days. For one, they remind me to appreciate and celebrate things that I am truly grateful for. And moreover, my primary association with them has way less to do with the ostensible reasons for the holidays than it does with the way I celebrate them: by taking a day off work, getting together with friends and family, and eating some great food.

om nom nom nom nom

Like Sunday dinner, taken outside and designed for a crowd

For me, Labor Day food is less about specific dishes than a general principle—get outside and grill while you still can. And while I’m a big fan of all manner of proteins stuffed into sausage casings or mashed into patties, sometimes by September I’ve had enough of that. This is a recipe to turn to if you’ve also hit burger fatigue.

These drumsticks remind me of my favorite roast chicken. They’re marinated in a salty lemon and herb dressing that’s almost like a brine and then seared over the hottest part of the grill until the skin crisps and bathes the flesh in rendered chicken fat. Then, you move them to a cooler part of the grill where they slowly finish cooking, so the flesh stays almost indecently moist and succulent. Meanwhile you can roast some veggies or whatever else you like on the hot side.

Unlike roasting a whole chicken, the whole process—marinating and grilling—takes less than a hour. It’s also cheaper than roasting a whole chicken because you can often get drumsticks for as little as $1/lb, thanks largely to the national anxiety about fat. Ever since boneless, skinless chicken breasts became the protein of choice for many weight-conscious Americans, the more delicious parts have been practically free for the taking. And unlike whole roasted chickens, this recipe scales up or down effortlessly and doesn’t require any carving. You can whip this up in practically no time whether you’re just trying to get a weeknight dinner on the table or you’re cooking for the neighborhood block party, and you don’t even need silverware to eat them. If it’s the main protein you’re serving I’d estimate 2-4 drumsticks per person.

Solidarity Forever

Whatever your feelings on Unions/unions, whatever your current employment situation, and however you choose to celebrate (or not): I wish you dignity and justice in all your endeavors, the respect of anyone you work with or for, the pleasures and rewards of meaningful labor, and a good meal at the end of every day. Many of us who enjoy any of those things have unions to thank somewhere down the line. Happy Labor Day.

Recipe: Lemon & Herb Chicken Drumsticks (adapted from Epicurious)

  • lemon & herbs, post-zesting, pre-choppingone medium lemon, zest (~2 t.) and juice (~1/4 cup) 
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 t. kosher salt (or 1 1/2 t. regular)
  • half a dozen grinds of pepper (~1/2 t.)
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced, or 1 t. garlic powder
  • a small handful of fresh herbs (~1/4 cup) or 2 t. dried (oregano, rosemary, sage, parsley, tarragon and/or basil)
  • 12 chicken drumsticks 

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and herbs.

2. Place the drumsticks in a plastic bag, preferably with a zip-top, and add the marinade. Squish all over to coat.

I didn't have a zip-top bag so I just used a twist tie to seal it, which worked just fine there's no need to wash the chicken first--any nasty bacteria on the outside will get killed when you cook it; if you wash it, you just risk getting that bacteria all over your kitchen, which you're not going to cook

3. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

4. Start the grill or preheat the oven to 450F.

5. Place the marinated drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill or on a foil-covered baking sheet in the preheated oven. If grilling, cook until they have a nice char on both sides and then move to the cooler part of the grill. If baking, turn the oven heat down to 200F.

moved to the cool side of the grill, making way for corn on the cob

6. Cook until the internal temperature is 150-155F or until the juices run clear and flesh at the bone is opaque. (Some people recommend cooking chicken to 165 or even 180F, but salmonella dies after 30 min at 140F so there’s really no reason to).