Sunday, December 27, 2009

X-Mas Eve Dinner

All right, a bunch of random stuff in here.  Christmas Eve was basically Meatfest.  For instance, this is what I had for lunch:

Food courtesy of Memphis Minnie's.  Other than the B+ sausage, the rest of the meal was uniformly awful.  Let's talk about the ribs for a second because this takes real talent.  First of all, the meat still had a deathgrip on the bone which would imply that it was undercooked, right?  However, the majority of the meat was already dry and stringy implying that it was overcooked.  I just don't get it.  Anyhow, several people had told me to avoid this joint but I just had to go see for myself.  BBQ FAIL.

In addition to the BBQ plate, we ate a ton of meat later that night.  I've been pretty obsessed with a cooking technique called "sous vide" which I'll detail in an upcoming post.  This post is dedicated to simply giving you an overview of the technique and my X-Mas Eve dinner.

Sous vide hanger steak.  One of the great things about sous vide is that it gives you a lot more control versus cooking over high heat.  For instance, say you like rare steak.  Normally, you might season it and throw it in a hot pan, right?  But notice...there is a ring of gray, overcooked meat surrounding the rare interior.  Compare this to sous vide cooking.  The temperature for rare steak is between 120 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  All you have to do when cooking sous vide is to set your water bath at the desired temperature, drop in your steak and the steak never cooks past the preset temperature.  This technique is used in many high end kitchens but it is also very practical for home cookery.  I've sous vide cooked two hanger steaks and they've both been amazing.  For the X-Mas Eve dinner steak, I flavored it with garlic cloves, thyme and a few bay leaves.  In addition, I also added a ton of butter.  I probably went a bit overboard with the butter but you do need some fat to help carry and disperse the flavors. After you cook it in the bag (I use Ziploc brand bags...I've read that cheap plastic bags use cheap plastic.  Whether or not this is true is beyond my knowledge but I figure it's only marginally more expensive to use brand-name plastic) you need to sear the steak because it comes out sorta gray.  After that, slice and serve.
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In addition to the hanger steak, I cooked a turkey leg sous vide.  I packed the bag with all sorts of aromatics...oregano, orange peel, garlic, ginger, star anise, a few cloves etc.  Very Christmas-y.  Throw in the turkey leg (rubbed with allspice and a bit of salt) and cover with duck fat.  BAM.  Turkey leg confit.  176 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 or so hours.  When cooked, I shredded the meat and folded it into some lentils. 

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Given how heavy the rest of the meal was, I decided that a light salad was necessary.  Lots of citrus in the market this time of year so that made my choice easy.  Mint, olives, a little red onion and romaine hearts finished it off. 

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This just gives you an overview of sous vide.  I'm doing research for an upcoming post which will be more detailed but I hope this whets your appetite for more.  Hardy har har.  :)

1 comment:

mark.r said...

Great post! Sous vide sounds amazing -- looking forward to reading more about it.