Wednesday, April 27, 2011

March 18th, 2011: Burger Friday?! BBQ Wings & Corn on the Cob

It's Burger Friday, but I ain't making burgers? Why not? I don't know, I felt like doing some wings, I haven't had them in a while. Now that I'm catching this post up, I think I'll hit up Bee Dubs (or do you abbreviate BWW? Or should I just type it out: Buffalo Wild Wings) this weekend... if I have time. Or a designated driver... I always seem to go there and end up having one or two too many LaBatts. Damn their awesome tap prices!

So, this day was pretty great. Blair and I spent the day shopping and bought some liquor. We returned home and I proceeded to make dinner: Corn on the Cob with Buffalo Wings. Only, I wanted something more than Buffalo, cause they're just so bland to me. I prefer a better BBQ sauce.

I started by baking the wings, I don't have a fryer, so I had to compromise. I took the base Meijer Brand barbecue sauce and spiced it up to my levels. I added some ground chipotle, which I maced myself with in the food processor. I also added salt, pepper, redwine vineger, ancho powder and some habanero hot sauce. While the wings cooked, we watched a bit of Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, specifically the Sicily and Azores episodes.

Corn on the cob is a food that I loved growing up and love to cook. It's easy, fast and delicious. I cook mine by dropping butter into a pot of water with some salt and pepper to season and butter it while it cooks. While silking the ears, I recalled a tool that I saw at Sur La Table or Meijer called a "corn silker" and all I could think was... what a useless tool. A solution for a problem that never existed.

So, while the corn cooked, the wings just finished, so it was time to sauce them. I did it the old fashioned way: giant metal bowl filled with sauce and wings thrown around. Yeah, I felt like a real pro at that point. So, I finished the wings up and came them a taste. The sauce was great, but the wings were pretty fatty. I tend to have that problem with food, I either buy meat that's got too much gristle or the fat doesn't cook out. Blair and I had the same opinion and just couldn't enjoy the wings to their fullest. They ended up being pulled chicken for sandwiches the next day. I guess that's what I get for forgetting about Burger Friday.

Monday, April 25, 2011

March 17th, 2011: St. Patrick's Day Irish Dinner

My father's maternal line hails from Ireland, county Cork to be exact. For some reason our family embraced the Irish heritage more so than most of the other heritage lines, so every Saint Patrick's day my mother would make Irish Soda Bread and Guinness Beef Stew. It was a familial tradition, every yeah, like clockwork. My father would joke about how it was a waste of a perfectly good Guinness and claim that my mother had to buy her own to cook with and not get into his stash. Ah, family. Occasionally my mother would just hit up Casey's Grocery Store in Naperville and buy the stew and bread instead of making it. It wasn't any less important.

After I left my parents house to go to college, I had missed a few St. Patrick's days with my family and would often get homesick around this time. I'd also find myself somewhat buried in school work, so I couldn't get up north to celebrate it with them. This year I decided to bring St. Patrick's Day to me. I used this recipe for the Stew and this one for the bread. I browned the beef and boiled a pint of Guinness and then introduced all the other ingredients to make the stew. It smelled like heaven.

I started on the bread while the stew cooked. It was rather unremarkable, I simply followed the recipe as closely as I could and made the bread. Only, I didn't follow the recipe, apparently. Because the bread was rock hard, heavy and tasted NOTHING like the Irish soda bread I grew up with and it had the consistency and texture of biscotti. I had no idea how I messed up, but I did. It's clear that I'm not a baker. And that putting whole pans in the oven is a bad idea. Within two minutes I forgot that the Calpholon had spent time in the oven and burnt my hand trying to pick it up.

The meal was decent overall, but hard to plate and the bread blew. It did make me nostalgic for home and help cure some of my home sickness. Plus I had mad leftovers to freeze and eat at my pleasure. I definitely had seconds on this one.

March 11th, 2011: Burger Friday! California Fiesta Turkey Burger

Turkey burgers? What would Ron Swanson say? We know that he's not too fond of turkey burgers and vegan bacon. So, I don't want to serve this in Pawnee. Wow... I am addicted to pop culture. That weird burger book I got at Barnes and Noble inspired this one somewhat. There was a burger in it called the "Fiesta Burger" that was a normal burger with salsa in it, fun. So, I stepped it up to Turkey Burgers. It wasn't too exciting and I didn't much care for them, but whatever.

I ground up some dried out tortillas to add some heft to the turkey and then folded it into the turkey with all manner of crazy things. I cooked 'em, topped 'em with French fried onions, salsa and cheese and served 'em up with some Meijer Brand Seasoned fries. It was ok, I guess, but I definitely didn't love it. I'll probably never touch ground turkey again, I guess it's the "less healthy" red meats for me!

March 9th, 2011: Drunk Ass Fajitas

Mexican Wednesdays? Why? I have no idea, for some reason I feel that Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi is best when I am munching on La Bamba. But not a Wednesday goes by that I don't make something or go out and eat something Mexican. It's probably my favorite cuisine. I spent the walk home from class talking to my mother about Mexican food and what kind of meat to use in Fajitas and what not. Well, first step was to marinate the meat, which if I recall correctly was a top round instead of the traditional skirt steak. Both cuts are somewhat tough and require a diagonal cut and marination to soften them up to enjoyable levels. My mother and I discussed this at length that day, I went on to talk to a friend of mine who is a Professional Chef about it later that night. Odd, I talk about food too much. I just have to get my marinade out of the boxes and bottles and into the pan to soak into the meat. I roasted the peppers and crushed the garlic. Unlike Vince Schlomi, I cracked my garlic like a man. Sorry, Vince. Why do I even have a Slap-Chop anyway? I think the people who lived here before me left it behind. In my marinade, the only liquid used was Tequila. I like to do a shot with my food while I cook it, unfortunately, I forgot that I hate Tequila straight. Not cool. It was at this time that my top round became more drunk than a sorority cheerleader at Mardi Gras. I'm talking Girls Gone Wild drunk.

Vince's way. The real way. Now, Fajitas are awesome for a couple of reasons, my favorite of which is that with the right peppers, they look like a Mexican flag, which is totally bad ass. The other reason that I love them is that they take a fairly underrated cut of meat and turns it into mouth wateringly tender strips of taste explosions. How long can I wax poetic about fajitas? I chopped up my veggies into what I call the Mexican Mirepoix. When I started cooking the meat, it was quite the sight. The steam and fumes coming off the pan were noxiously alcoholic, it actually stung my eyes and within a few seconds, my entire kitchen stank of boiling tequila. It was quite fun.

All that was really left was cooking the veggies with the meat and wrapping it up and making my rice. The rice was just regular old La Preferida Mexican Rice. I wrapped it up put a dollop of sour cream on it and some cheese and it was done. I thought about it while I ate them and watched television, and I think that fajitas are one of the few tortilla based Mexican foods that isn't just meat, cheese and veggies on a corn or flour tortilla. What a subtle Jim Gaffigan reference. I finished up my Fajitas and hit up Blue Line in downtown Bloomington to play their open mic. Good night.

March 2nd, 2011: Alfredo Chicken stuffed Ravioli

Fresh, wet pasta is some of the best pasta you'll ever have in your entire life. Honestly, I'm not joking. It's simple to make the dough, but working out the dough is a chore and a half. Something made a lot simpler with an inexpensive tool, a pasta press. Of course, that's the cheap one... I couldn't get one of those, it's not prestigious enough to be on display in my tiny kitchen. So, I'd get the Atlas model, but I can't afford it. What I'd truly want is the automatic press for the Kitchenaid Mixer... but I don't have a mixer... damn. How is that almost as expensive as the mixer itself?! The other catch is, you need TONS of space to roll out the dough, Alton Brown has an elegant solution for that. I don't even have a rolling pin for my dough, my rolling pin will be a whiskey bottle and my dough cutter will be a shot glass.

When making pasta dough, all you really need to do is mix flour and egg. I add a touch of olive oil and a hint of salt for flavor. When I was in high school our home-ec class had a pasta making demonstration in which the cook used squid ink to color the dough and add a hint of fish flavor to the pasta. I wanted to emulate this, but imagine Blair's shock when I asked her to pick some up for me. After that same demonstration in high school, I tried to make the pasta in my parents' kitchen. My mother thought I was insane and laughed at how horribly wrong it went for me. Well, now is my chance to prove her wrong. You start by making a flour volcano with egg lava (cute, huh?) and the work the flour into the egg with a finger in circles until you get a dough. Off the bat, I spilled egg everywhere.

I rolled the dough out with the whiskey bottle and left it sitting out while I made the stuffing. I didn't feel like making much more of a mess, so I decided I'd stuff them with Alfredo sauce AND chicken to avoid making a filling and sauce. What a cool idea. I started by drowning the chicken in Svedka Vanilla Vodka and cream and cooking it down. Added some salt, parm, peas and a couple other things. Simple recipe. I cut out the dough with the shot glass and proceeded to stuff the ravioli. It was a lot harder than one would think. My crimps didn't take too well on the edges and the shot glass cutaway was a little too small. Overall, they turned out ok. A little more like dumplings than ravioli, but my girlfriend appreciated them, she said they were almost like pierogi, only not fried at all. I wasn't too impressed. They were better than store bought dumplings and ravioli, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. I was really looking to get a good, old fashioned ravioli out of this. If I had a pasta press, it would have worked a hell of a lot better.

April 22nd, 2011: Burger Friday! Baja Burgers

Oh, Rebecca Black... will you ever be not relevant? I'll tell you what the answer to that is: no, you won't be. And Bob's Burgers? You inspire me to make burgers. I love making burgers, I see them as a canvas for food. You take a beef patty and then paint on it with sauces, toppings and stuffing. I consider myself to be a De Vinci of burgers, bettered only by those that can afford Kobe and American Kobe beef and Bob himself.

What's even crazier is how I come up with these burgers. I often compile them by simply wandering Miejer and putting together burger toppings in my head. These I call Baja Burgers... why? Because they have a very Southern California Cuisine feel to them, something I'd expect Guy Fieri to offer in one of his restaurants. The burger has green onions, green peppers and my usual burger rub in it, only this time I omitted the brown sugar. I really didn't want to mix molasses sweetness with capsaicin flavors. I threw some La Preferida refried beans on the stove and sliced me up some avocado and tomato. I cooked the burgers up and then proceeded to lid the pan while the cheese melted. For once I achieved a perfect melty-cheese effect using a pan lid. I also undercooked them more than I usually do. I usually eat my burgers medium-well, but these I cooked to a rare-medium. It was surprisingly juicy, but almost to a fault. I served them on a whole wheat bun with a side of beans and chips. Quite a tasty foray into the mind of Guy Ferry.

My girlfriend agreed that the burgers were great and agrees with my arrogant sentiment that I am great burger cook. I'd love to open my own burger place, like Bob, but the capitol is just too great for me. Maybe, if I get a job at The Rock (which is opening in Uptown Normal) I'll be able to work my magic on the unsuspecting public of Central Illinois.

A short list of burger recipes I've made:
Gyro Burgers (ground lamb with gyro seasoning) with homemade Tzatziki sauce
Pepper Jack Burgers (jalapeño stuffed burger) topped with pickled chilies, Pepper-Jack cheese, homemade tomato based hot sauce served on toasted white bread.
Cheddar and Swiss stuffed Bison burgers.
"French" Onion Burgers with Dijon/Bourbon Sauce
Welsh Rarebit Pub Style Burgers
Salsa Stuffed Fiesta Turkey Burgers

April 21th, 2011: Weird Cookies made as a treat for Blair

It was 4-21.... interesting... did I make cookies because I had the munchies from the day before? I most certainly did not. I don't smoke that type of smokable herb. Instead, I made them to make a treat for Blair, who was having a particularly bad day. I had been watching food movies all day, I watched Fat Head , Food, Inc and part of Food Matters. Blair caught the very ending of Food, Inc and left the room in a huff yelling about it being "too intense" and "depressing" to watch a cow not being able to stand under its own strength. I laughed and commented that it's probably ridiculously tender and delicious. She had the same objection to seeing my hand up the ass of a chicken to pull out the giblets the day before. Some people really aren't interested in where their food comes from and would rather not be shown how awful what we eat is. Personally, when I see veal calves in a veal crate, I salivate a little bit. That isn't to say that I have no compassion for the cows, but rather that I've come to a quiet resignation about where my food comes from.

In anycase, the cookies I made were Nestle Toll House cookies, but I didn't have chocolate chips, so I tried to make my own chocolate chunks. But then I didn't have enough butter for both the chocolate and the cookies, so I used a vegetable oil roux, instead of butter, to try and make the chunks. I used a mason jar to emulate a double boiler, so that I didn't burn the chocolate. I mixed coco powder, sugar and the roux and then placed the concoction in the bottom of a pyrex dish and froze it. The chocolate never hardened. I was pretty proud of my ingenuity in this situation and thought for sure that a few hours would yield more than chocolate roux. How wrong I was.

What could go wrong next? I don't have a stand mixer or bowls big enough to make cookies in. So, this is gonna be great. I had to use all of pyrex bowls attempting to find one that was big enough to make the dough it, ultimately I settled on one of my large Revereware pots. I made my cookies in a soup pot with a hand mixer. Here's the next catch: my hand mixer is crazy powerful. I mean it, I rarely use it, because when I do, it invariably hurls food all over the kitchen. Flour, butter and sugar... EVERYWHERE! Things were starting to shape up, but I still didn't have chocolate chips. I tried to marble the chocolate into the dough. I made several attempts at it and found that every batch of cookies I made was different. I didn't even intend to make them different, I just unsuccessfully marbled it.

The cookies were oddly thick and cakey. They tasted not like cookies, but rather like thick cake. It was weird... I guess I shouldn't be allowed in a bakery anytime soon.

edit: Blair said that they were "cake-like" because I made "Ice-box Cookies." I don't know what that means, but... it could be that the cake like texture of the cookies came from me freezing the chocolate roux, or the fact that I don't know how to bake. In anycase, they were still delicious.

April 19th, 2011: Whole Roasted Chicken with Chicken Liver Pate

Ah. The brining of the chicken. Something that I now believe to be %100 necessary when cooking poultry, thank you Alton Brown. I told my mom about it and she asked me "doesn't brining it just make it taste really salty?" to which I responded "no, it gives it flavor and prevents it from drying out. So, this chicken won't be dried out like the turkey you serve everything thanks- damnit, never mind that." We bickered a little and she told me to get back to my chicken. I forgot about the giblets inside the chicken, part of me didn't even think I'd get any. I brined the chicken with the bag of nasty stuff still inside of it. So, I removed it. I then rubbed the chicken down with thyme and olive oil to add just a little more flavor and get the skin to crisp up.

That was it, I was done messing with the chicken. I tucked its arms and legs in and popped it in the oven at 220f. I threw away the neck, heart and another unidentifiable part of the chicken and reserved what I thought was the liver, oddly, it was like they included two livers. So I fried those up in browned butter and then pureed them in Brandy, added salt and pepper and was done. All that was left was waiting for the chicken to cook and watch the crazy storms going on that night. If I weren't from the Midwest, I probably would have thought the world was ending.

So, the chicken's ready, Blair's home from work and I realize... "I'm a house wife!" Blair goes out and works while I make food, clean and take care of the rabbit. But, I cook delicious food. The chicken was tender as hell and had a somewhat smokey taste to it. The chicken just fell apart, like well braised/smoked pork, when I pulled the drumstick off, most of the meat stayed on the chicken without the bone. Awesome! The pate was kind of gross. It didn't taste bad, I just couldn't get past what it was. I guess the rich eat disgustingly. Ah, well.

April 18th, 2011: Round Eye Chuck Steaks

This was a very random dinner. I had no intentions of really making anything elaborate that night, but I saw the steaks in the freezer and went "YEASH!" The fact is, I'm not a big steak eater, there's something odd about eating just a chunk of animal with some sauce. Although, man do I loves me some Filet Mignon wrapped in bacon, then again, I can't really afford that. So, I've been trying out some different cuts of meat to see if I can find one that I like and can afford. I decided I'd make kind of an "American" meal with this.

My first step was to marinate the steak, which I started by sweating some onions. Not a lot, just until they release their oniony goodness. After that I concocted a marinade of water, salt, paprika, ancho, chipotle, beer, mustard and black pepper. I marinated and then then seared the steaks. After searing them I placed them in the oven at 200 degrees for a few hours (I absolutely love slow cooking and am afraid I'll ruin the meat if I don't slow cook).

Sides? Assessing the situation I could see that I had red potatoes from the ribs, mayo, pickles and some frozen celery. I boiled up some potatoes and whipped together a simple and basic potato salad and then garnish the steak with some Sweet Baby Ray's Vidalia Onion BBQ Sauce and a Claussen Kosher Dill (the best pickle EVER). The meal turned out pretty good. The meat was a little dry, because I wanted to make sure it cooked through. I really should invest in a meat thermometer, then I wouldn't have to worry about not finishing food. Before calling it a night, I jacked up the salt content of my marinade, filled the pot and began brining my whole chicken for the next day. Blair was absolutely appalled at the fact that a pot filled with raw chicken juices was sitting next to her orange juice in the fridge. But, she sure appreciated the chicken the next day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 17th, 2011- Proof of organic/locally sourced concept dinner.

This dinner was an odd idea. One Sunday night while Blair and I were grocery shopping, I decided I would try something. I purchased organic eggs, locally sourced sweet corn and a loaf of bakery bread. When I got home I threw together this dinner that's ingredients totaled less than $5 and was healthy, flavorful and lacks preservatives. This meal has officially changed our apartment's purchasing habits. Kudos, Barbara Kingsolver.

April 12, 2011: Apologies for the lateness and Baby Back Ribs

I apologize for not posting in a while. My freezer got distractingly empty and my veal went bad last week. I was going to make veal burgers, but ended up with rotten egg smelling veal so it was a bust. Blair and I ended up eating at Studio 220, which is partnered with Epiphany Farms. Unfortunately, the only item on the menu that was "Epiphanized" was the house salad. Which featured a Rice Wine Vinaigrette. It was the best salad I've had my entire life. The lettuce supposedly came out of a planter outside of Chef Ken's Mother's kitchen while the rest of the fruits and vegetables came from the farm. It was an inspirational lunch, but we still needed dinner. We ended up getting plastered on margaritas and over eating at a Mexican Restaurant. So, I really didn't have anything to write about. So, I didn't. But, now I do! I'm skipping Mexican Wednesday this week and making Baby Back Ribs today!

Step one that I'm doing: slicing up some red potatoes and red onions, oiling them and seasoning them and making a bed out of them. A soft, cushiony, pillowy bed where my pork will sleep and have dreams of being delicious dry rub baby back ribs.

Did I mention dry rub? Yes, I did. Have I been watching too much Diners, Drive-ins and Dives? Yes, I have. I got the idea to make ribs last night when I watched some guy at some restaurant on the show make some pork. And I decided to try it. With ribs. So I did. I made a dry rub out of a few kinds of ground chiles, cumin (to get a smoky flavor), cracked black pepper, garlic powder, oregano and celery salt. I whisked it together with a fork and I got a rub. And then for no reason I took a picture of the bottom of the ribs after I applied the rub to the top... for no discernible reason... I don't know why I did that. So I rubbed the pork ribs down and set the oven to 200 degrees and flopped 'em in. I assume that 4 or 5 hours at 200 will produce a nice dry rub rib.

Oh, crap! I never finished this post. That's the problem with live blogging, you forget. In anycase, I ended up scrapping the dry rub when I realized that it was caking instead of barking. The meat wasn't really absorbing any flavor, so I spiced it up with some of my standard base sauce: Meijer's basic generic sauce. It's the sauce that I always use to make partially homemade sauce. So, the dry rub would work in conjunction with the very weak sauce to make the ribs altogether better. Five hours later I had this:

The ribs were DELICIOUS. Absurdly so. They were a little fatty, I was counting on the fat to render off during the cooking, but it didn't. The ribs also had so much more meat on it than I'm used to. Usually when you get ribs, it's had to get meat off the bone, but in this case it was very easy. Over and out!

Monday, April 4, 2011

March 1st, 2011: Oxtail Soup

Ok, where did I get this idea? Ox tails? That's just cow tail, right? Gross... Ok, I got the idea from the Illinois Cookbook that I've grown to love so much. The idea to make this soup didn't really come from anything too sinister. Truly, it was mostly just shock that brought me in. The idea of making something so... awkward appealed to me.

When I brought up this soup, Blair's reaction was that of disbelief. She claimed that I needed a pressure cooker to render the meat soft enough to eat and that I wouldn't do it. I had been talking about this soup since the day that I got the cookbook and March 1st was just the day that I took the challenge. So, I hit up my usual grocery store (Meijer) and preceded to purchase the ingredients for mirepoix, some beef bouillon, bay leaves and ox tails. Oddly, the bay leaves ended up being the most expensive... at around $6 a bottle. I guess the poor can't get bay leaves at Meijer. Or maybe they were just sold out of the cheap ones. I was as pleased as a kitten with a dead bird with this trip.

So, the first thing I do when I get home is fill my "stock" pot with water and put it to a boil. The second thing? I attempted to cut the ox tails. I quickly found out that that was not an option. There was a reason that Blair's aunt uses a pressure cooker: this shit is tough! TOUGH TOUGH TOUGH! I called my mom, thinking that since it was out of the Illinois Cookbook, that my mother will have had some experience with ox tails. When I asked her, the first words out of her mouth were "wait... you're cooking WHAT?" She had no advice. I had to improvise, so I threw the ox tails, bone and all, in the boiling water, along with some bay leaves and beef bouillon.

Next step, make mirepoix for the first time! Wait, really? Never made it before this? Thinking back, that's true. I've used it quite a bit since then, but before then, I never depended on a lot of "knowledge," more just instinct. So, I sliced up the mirepoix and poured it in the pot. Following that, I had to seed and skin my tomatoes, having just talked about why you seed tomatoes in my class that day. I learned the trick of blanching and shocking to skin tomatoes from food network, seeding on the other hand, I hadn't. I had to call my mother and ask her how to do it.

"Do you have a peeler?" she asked.
"Yeah, of course." I told her.
She sighed and asked "Is it that one from that set of Kitchen stuff from Target?"
"No, it's an Oxo, why?"
Her demeanor lifted "use the end like a scoop in the seed pits when you slice the tomato, it gets it right out."

Bad ass, my peeler was not a uni-tasker. After peeling, chopping and seeding the tomatoes I added them to the soup. At this point it literally turned into cooking until the soup was done. Once the meat softened up enough, I'd pull it out and tear it off its bones, but that's the only step between it being done, other than waiting. (I should explain this picture, it's how I peel tomatoes. I boil them for a few seconds and then shock them in ice water and the skin comes right off. I picked that up from Food Network)

The soup turned out decent. I added a bit of chili paste to give a bit of warmth, but it gave it too much heat. Honestly? The oxtail was the best beef I'd eaten in a long time. It was so flavorful and tender, it was like chewing on nothing at all. It almost melted in your mouth. I was rather impressed by this "offal" meat.

April 4th, 2011: Barbara Kingsolver inspired Asparegus

So, today in class, we talked about asparagus as length. Truth be told, all I really know about it is that it makes your piss stink... or is that an urban legend? Anyway, after doing a few updates to the blog I thought about asparagus and how Kingsolver's experience in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle as a child was much like mine. She talks about not trying it but assuming that she would not like it as a child and later trying it as a teenager only to find that it was great. So, I took to Meijer to buy some. And it's currently cooking. I'll be back after I eat it to tell you what I think.

Well... I gotta say, it isn't nearly as bad as I always assumed it to be. It's bland, but has some sort of odd undertone I can't place. I'm not keen on it, but I don't hate it. Some garlic-butter would really wake it up. Quite honestly, I'd rather eat the onions I used to help cook it.

Edit: I'm going to throw a clove of garlic in with, plus some butter and more stock and steam it in that. We'll see how I like it then. It seems that if I found the right flavors, I could LOVE this stuff. So, I'll be back. Edit: Son of a bitch, my garlic went bad. It's like two months old. Well, garlic powder it is, then.

Ok, it's cooking, so... I'll look up some asparagus recipes, see if I can find anything good. I've also gotta scour my cookbooks and some burger websites. I bought some ground baby cow (I was raised by a woman who was raised on a farm, so I have no qualms with where my food comes from) and I gotta figure out how to prepare my baby cow burgers for Friday.

Here is a good recipe: Bacon Wrapped - but that's just cheating. You could wrap a truck tire in bacon and people would eat it.

This quasi-live blog thing is pretty interesting, but without many people reading, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I guess I've just read too much Hyperbole and a Half. I hope the asparagus finishes cooking soon. When next I edit/update, I'll be eating my asparagus, again.

Final update: meh. It tastes good because of what it was cooked in, not because of what it is... ultimately disappointing.

February 25th, 2011: Whipped Red Potatoes and Bison Burgers!

Bison Burger Friday! YAY! I have NO idea what possessed me to do this. Honestly? Bison burgers? Why not? It's an odd meat, it's supposed to be leaner than standard ground chuck and Ted Turner owns a restaurant chain that specializes in it. We have one in the town I grew up in, never been there. I heard it's expensive, but good. So, that first qualifier pretty much means I won't be eating their anytime soon, too bad.

So, I bought a pound and a quarter of ground Bison and decided: it's burger time. A couple of days before I prepared the burgers I had eaten a Burger King Stuffed Jalapeño & Cheddar Steakhouse Burger. That burger honestly had far too short of a life, as did the Buck Double, but now they offer the Stackers, which are cool. But I still prefer the $1 Wopper Junior. Wait, no, this isn't about Burger King, but now I think that's what I'll have for dinner.

I decided that I was going to stuff the bison with a mixture of mild cheddar cubes and torn swiss slices, mostly out of necessity. Not wanting to mask the flavor of a new meat, I simply sprinkled some paprika, black pepper and kosher salt on the meat with the cheese. I really wanted to appreciate the meat, rather than the spicing, since I'd never had it before.

To top the burger I sliced some Spanish Onion and Mushrooms and sauted them in some oil... or roast them... or caramelize. I'm still iffy on all those differences. The side is going to be whipped red potatoes with a white gravy, made using a similar method as prescribed by Alton Brown when I made the CFS.

So, while I worked on the onions and mushrooms I boiled the potatoes and soon whipped them. The potatoes contained some heavy whipping cream, butter, salt, garlic and sour cream to taste. Next I cooked the burgers up and when I did I cooked the vegetable topping with the burgers in order to cross contaminate the flavors a little. When I cook I often feel that it's important for all of the pieces of a meal to have some sort of connection, but it a complimentary flavor it just a shared cooking oil, so I often do this. I cooked up two of the patties and put them under foil to keep them warm while I prepared a gravy.

The gravy was literally just a roux of flour and milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil and within five minutes it was totally ready for serving. What a fast gravy. So, I plated the meal for my girlfriend and was started a gastronomical journey into bison. We weren't too impressed with it. It didn't taste all that different than beef, the only thing that was really different was its texture. It definitely felt a little leaner and didn't give off as much grease. To me, it wasn't worth the price jump. The potatoes were great, though. Extremely fluffy and creamy. The gravy was a bit heavy feeling and cooled down into a rather thick concoction, in retrospect, a bit too much flour. All in all, a good meal.