Archive | December, 2012

Trinidad-Style Stewed Oxtail

26 Dec

trini stew

I am so excited  for this GUEST POST from DOLORES. We worked at the BM together for years- and I have been begging her to post. One time she brought me in some of this stew- I was dying, it was so good.

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Tessa: Wow, Dolores, this is mighty impressive. And i know, from a glorious sample, it is absurdly tasty. How did you learn how to do this?

Dolores: Although I am an Italian/Finnish-American girl and not in the least bit West Indian, my husband is from Trinidad and after six years together I have picked up a thing or two in the kitchen.  We both love to cook and we cook together often.  Mostly, I leave the Trinidadian dishes to him, but I have this one down, so I usually make it for us.  You can do the same cooking method with any meat, most often chicken.  My stewed chicken just doesn’t come out as well as his, so he has that assignment.  I guess the oxtail is more forgiving with all the braising time.  You really can’t mess it up, I swear.

Tessa: So let’s say I can’t find oxtail. Or it freaks me out. (not to eat but to buy). Could I use beef? any particular kind? would it change the cooking or cooking time or anything else? Do you think something would really be lost in this- and i should just sack up and look for the oxtail? Do i need a cleaver to hack it up- or does it come in those pieces?

Dolores: Oxtail is not really from an ox.  What you’re buying these days is a cow tail, but I guess the name is a holdover from olden times.  Aren’t the kids these days into snout to tail butchery and all of that?  You should be able to get it at any butcher shop, even if they don’t have it out on display.  Ask them.  It used to be a super cheap–my dad worked in an Italian butcher shop in Brooklyn when he was a teenager and he says they used to give it away.  Then American people discovered world cuisine and fast-forward to 2012 and I pay about $5 a pound for it.  It may be cheaper in a place where it isn’t used as widely as in my neighborhood.  If you find it, you should not have to cut it up yourself.  I can’t imagine how you would cut through it without a bandsaw, like they have in the butcher shop.  If it’s not already cut up, ask them to cut it into rings.  If you REALLY really can’t find it, the closest thing would probably be a beef shank.  You can probably use any kind of beef, but the marrow in the middle of the bone makes for ultimate yumminess, like in osso buco.

Tessa: mmm, not going to lie, this looks a little complicated. how do you feel about fed-exing some to boston? 🙂

Dolores: Anytime, my dear.  But I swear it’s not hard at all.  After you add the water, it’s just time.  After you make it for yourself and realize how easy it is, I will lose my kitchen cred.

Trinidadian Style Stewed Oxtail

2-3 lbs(?) oxtail, cut cross-wise into about 2 inch circles–[there are a lot of bones, so you will probably need more than you think you will]

a few heaping Tbsp of green seasoning*
4-5 Tbsp of sugar–white or raw

a large onion, chopped
1-2 carrots, cut into biggish circles

a piece of squash–in my neighborhood they call it pumpkin, and it is similar to the halloween-type pumpkin, but not quite. Any orange-y squash like butternut or kabocha or whatever you like will work, peeled and cut into fairly small cubes. [i used maybe kabocha, i think, though perhaps it was a little on the small side]
A scotch bonnet or habanero pepper (optional) [i pussied out and used a whole jalepeno, and really, the end product was missing that heat. i should have at least chopped it up and put it in- instead leaving in whole and taking out later like D. does w. the REAL peppers]
A can of red kidney beans

salt, pepper, adobo, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, crushed red pepper [use a generous pinch of each- i didn’t have adobo seasoning so used mix of cumin, onion and garlic powder and tumeric]

If there’s a lot of extra fat around the pieces of oxtail, cut it off. Rinse it with lime juice (you can totally skip that, but it’s what the West Indians do). Season with green seasoning, salt and black pepper. Let it marinate for at least a couple of hours; overnight is ideal. Heat a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven over high heat with a enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Let the oil get very hot but not smoking. Sprinkle in the sugar. You will want to have the meat ready and next to the stove. Heat the sugar until it gets very brown, almost but not quite black. Use a slotted spoon to pull the meat out of any accumulated liquid and add it to the pot immediately. Stir to coat with the caramelized sugar and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pot and let cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid sticking. When the meat has taken on a dark brown color, add the onions and pumpkin and stir a couple of times. Add enough water to just cover the meat and veggies. Season with salt, pepper, adobo, parsley, bay leaf, oregano, crushed red pepper, and add the scotch bonnet if you’re adding it. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Cover the pot at a tilt to allow steam to escape. Cook for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.  After it’s been cooking for a while, you may notice some fat pooling on the surface. If so, skim it off.  As soon as the pepper gets soft, pull it out. If it bursts open, your stew will be ridiculously hot. This will happen way before the oxtail cooks, so keep an eye on it as you’re stirring. Also, the pumpkin should totally disintegrate and thicken the stew. If it needs a little help, smash it against the side of the pot to break it up. After about 2 hrs, check the meat with a fork. Sometimes it will seem like it will never break down, but don’t freak out as I promise it will happen, and it may take more like 3 or even 4 hours.   When the meat is soft-ish, add the carrots and the beans and cook for another 20 or so minutes, until the carrots are cooked. Serve over rice. It’s really good with a piece of avocado and/or a little potato salad, too.

* Green seasoning: [this keeps]
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
a couple of inches of ginger, peeled

a bunch of cilantro
a few leaves of chadon beni (also known as culantro)-if you can’t find it, it’s fine without
a bunch of scallion
juice of a lime, or half depending on the lime
Cut everything into smallish pieces.  Put all in a blender or food processor and blend.  Add a little water if you need to loosen it up, but it should be a loose paste-like consistency. Don’t pulverize to nothing.  Ideally, there should be little flecks of green.  You can use this to season up any meat for stewing or roasting.  I also use it to season my fried chicken before flouring and it is the bomb.
oxtail

Sweet Potato Side or Dip

18 Dec

Char sweet potato copy
Delighted to have a guest post from the truly one-of-a-kind, Charlotte:

From Char:

The way I cook? It’s about process. A little of this, a little of
that. Give it a taste. Until it’s good.

I don’t presume to know the exact combination of ingredients that will
result in the best possible outcome. People like different things.

I realize that you can’t do that with everything. But here’s a dip
that I just made using that methodology. It’s good and you should try
it.

Ingredients:

·        2 fully-cooked room temperature yams or sweet potatoes. Cook
them in the microwave or via boiling water. Google how long — I don’t
know off the top of my head — but basically they should be soft when
forks are stuck in them

·        Tablespoon or two of freshly grated ginger

·        Teaspoon or two of cumin. I think ground would be better than
whole but I only had the latter

·        Couple tablespoons of chicken stock. I had some homemade
lying around made from Tessa’s recipe

·        Salt and pepper

·        Tablespoon or two of olive oil

Instructions

·        Set your baseline. Whirl the sweet potatoes + olive oil +
salt and pepper. Then add your chicken stock in amount depending on
what kind of consistency you want (see below).

·        Now experiment. Add small increments of the remaining
ingredients. Taste good? Stop.

Recipe Variations:

·        Don’t like spice? Switch out the ginger and cumin for blue
cheese, lemon, and chives. Or goat cheese.

·        Don’t make it a dip. Make it mashed potatoes instead by
hitting the pulse button a few times on the food processor.

·        Fry dollops of it in a pan with maybe some breadcrumbs mixed
in for a fritter.

·        Stuff it inside protein: sole filets or chicken. Then bake
it.  If you’re doing fish though I would think about decreasing the
cumin and ginger so as not to overwhelm.

Pairings:

·        Obviously pita and veggies

·        Spread it on your sandwich instead of mustard or mayo

·        Eating it with any kind of red meat would be killer. Roll it
in prosciutto/speck/bresaola for an appetizer or just plop some
beside a roast. Or mush it on top of a burger.

QuickPost: All You Need to Know is Written on the Fridge

16 Dec

photo (6) Since I can’t give you these- because they are on my fridge, I think you should print out and hang on yours. all you need to know. i’d love to steal Jess P. measurement conversion magnet too. The first tells you how to store all your fruits and vegs– courtesy of Boston Organics- my faux-CSA. The second is actually just a postcard- but it tells you the right- and simplest way to cook any meat. It came from a Park Slope butcher. Grass fed. Organic. Local. Bla Bla Bla.

But let also tell you how I cook almost every single piece of meat. Like my lamb chops last night, holy cow. And the duck the night before that. Seriously. Everything. And i think i wrote this somewhere else on my site- but let me reiterate so that you start to do it too. After bringing the meat to room temp if possible. and salting ahead of time (as above). After searing meat on very hot pan. And putting in oven if so required. Take meat out and rest it (very important). In pan, pour out some of the fat if there is a ridiculous amount, but leave some in there. Take off heat. Pour in some healthy glugs of that old wine you keep in the fridge- the bottles gone bad. I always keep. Turn heat back up until high. It will start to bubble and thicken. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the bits off the bottom of pan. You want to keep on heat until it is thick enough that when you run the spoon down it, it leaves a path. Finally, add the dripping in that accumulated from the rested meat. Heat for like another 10 seconds to go all together and blend around. That’s it. If you were feeling crazy you could add some butter in, but the amount of fat I leave in the bottom of the pan, it is never necessary. Pour over meat. You are going to die of surprise how good this is.

QuickPost: Banana Choc Chip Muffins

8 Dec

banana muffin

Banana Choc Chip Muffins- I just followed the  banana bread recipe– w. very minor adjustments- that i made based of Doris greenspan’s various muffin recipes.

Change temp to 400 and baking time to 18-20 minutes.

Change baking soda/powder to 2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda

Makes 12 muffins. To get evenly size, use an ice cream scoop. To make the scooping even easier, douse the scooper in a bit of grapeseed, canola or other neutral oil before using.

 

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