New Years ….. Resolutions.

Time for a new year and new beginnings ….  or at least reaffirming some things that are important in life.  Sarai and I are not big on new years resolutions, I certainly don’t take them seriously, but after talking things over there are a few things that we have decided.  Sarai has decided to get back to her heritage by cooking more Lebanese/Mediterranean dishes this year.  I on the other hand received a table saw, some new cook books and cooking utensils for Christmas, I have therefore resolved to woodwork with more finesse and to cook AND BLOG more.

To that end Sarai began by looking up recipes for Hummus. This time we began by doing the right thing; we decided to soak and cook the garbanzo beans instead of using store-bought cans.  Home cooked garbanzo’s taste much better.

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After prepping a large amount of Garbanzo beans Sarai took over and made the recipe in the food processor.  The home made beans have more flavor and produced a better hummus.

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Spatchcock Chicken

In preparation for Thanksgiving this year I am brushing up on my Spatchcock technique.  After watching a Kenji video about making the perfect Spatchcock Turkey I am prepping a few small chickens in advance to get my technique down.  If you haven’t seen this video take a look:

I took care to brine my chicken for about 6 hours before cooking.  After removal of the back bone I flattened the chicken out over onions and cubed butternut squash.  I cooked this in the oven with high heat at 450 for about 30 minutes until the breast and leg meat hit their appropriate temps.  I removed the chicken to rest and continued roasting the vegetables for a few additional minutes.

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I also prepped some cous cous for an additional side as well.  The results are fantastic. The chicken comes out perfectly cooked – completely done dark meat with moist white meat.  I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to try this with a Turkey!!!!

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Red Raider Meats: Frenched Lamb Rack

This week we went through some of the Red Raider Meats purchased a few weeks ago.  We grilled the Beef Frank Hot Dogs that were immensely enjoyed by the kids – Catlina requested 2 on her plate:

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We also cooked the Frenched Rack of Lamb.  Pretty highfalutin if you ask me.  I ended up braising the lamb in a skillet and then covering the ribs with an herb/panko mixture.
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Catalina and I went to harvest carrots from the garden along with herbs for the breading.  Into the processor went basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, pistachios, and panko. Catalina went to work cleaning the carrots before roasting.

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After I braised the lamb for a few minutes I applied the breading and put the pan into the oven to cook.

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We also made a cous cous dish and chopped veggies for the meal.  Sarai plated the whole thing up and invited the in-laws over to share in the feast.IMG_1526The lamb turned out well, especially given that this is our first attempt at a Frenched Rack of Lamb recipe. IMG_1527-JB-

Brisket: Aaron Franklin Style

Last summer I got on a barbecue kick.  Now to quantify the ‘kick’ – I became obsessed and read through 2 books (Myron Mixon and Big Bob Gibson’s), ran through 20+ racks of ribs, 4+ pork shoulders, and about 5 briskets, all in an effort to learn how to smoke some good meat, Texas-style.  I even kept a log book to record all efforts, experiment, and decide what worked best.  I nailed ribs, pork shoulders are easy, but the brisket remained rather elusive.  So back to the drawing table for the brisket.

I buy my brisket meat from Costco, it’s the only place in Lubbock that provides prime grade beef.

IMG_1483I followed advice from Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, Texas, arguably the proprietor of the finest brisket in the universe. Check out this video and other Aaron Franklin gems:

So I followed his advice, using ‘Dalmation Rub’ of only salt and pepper, and placed a water pan under the brisket.  I chose age hickory and mesquite to smoke with, I set the grill up for 250 and smoked the brisket throughout the night.

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This brisket went all night and finished up at an internal temp of 201 in the morning, measured the temp in the flat.  No ‘Texas Crutch’ used. I tried using foil and injecting brisket last year, all to no avail, this brisket was cooked all the way through without any gimmicks, I wrapped the brisket with ‘pink butcher paper‘ at the end like Franklin does, to rest and cool.

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The brisket was damn delightful. Juicy and delightful.

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I need to repeat this effort, but as far as I’m concerned it seems the best way to cook brisket is the most basic.

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Cooking Light Diet

This week Sarai tried out the Cooking Light Diet subscription service and I came home to night after night of fantastic cooked meals, which was fortunate given the number of hours I spent at the hospital with Mommas in labor.   The service allows you to pick a meal plan, tailor the serving sizes and number of recipes you want, and also makes a printable grocery list for your ingredients after you are done.  Very convenient! (and doesn’t seem at all like a diet, just healthy food)

Sarai started the week with Cheesy Potato Soup which was excellent:

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Then we had a night of Flank Steak Tostadas and another night with salmon:

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Followed by my favorite and one of the best meals I’ve ever had, Grilled Pork Chops with Nectarines:

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*this is Sarai: The nectarines had this magical rub on them- a mixture of cumin, sugar, and red pepper. You dip the nectarines in the mixture then grill the nectarines face down, and it makes this delightful, spicy, caramelized edge.  Then you dollop some mascarpone cheese on top. Meanwhile you’ve also been toasting pistachios that pick up some of the spicy sugary goodness. They taste great on top of the nectarines or mixed in with the side of cous cous.

Jared: The pork chop recipe was phenomenal and will likely be in the ‘Top 10’ list for the year. In unrelated news Catalina got a butter fly habitat for her Birthday last month, I had to send off for the caterpillars which arrived in the mail this week.  The caterpillars will stay  in the jar and grow for ~10 days, then form chrysalises (note: the plural of chrysalis is not chrysali as one would think!) and then become butterflies. Also our niece got a new kitten which Catalina is smitten with.

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-JB-

Grilled Peppers

Tonight we cooked Grilled Stuffed Peppers.  Poblano peppers are stuffed with a mixture of kidney beans, celery, corn, and cheese.

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The peppers stay on the grill for 12 minutes, they are flipped after 6 minutes.

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The final plate is an all vegetarian meal.  We served this with a mayonnaise and hot sauce slathered slaw.

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Slow-Braised Lamb Shanks and Tomato Sauce

In 2009 Cooking Light ran a recipe for Lamb Shanks with tomato sauce, probably one of my all-time favorite recipes.  At the time we live in Fort Worth and could easily locate lamb shanks at Central Market, the recipe became a go-to favorite for us, especially when we needed to impress company or to provide some comfort food for a guest. I remember selecting the recipe because of it’s simplicity, ease, and paucity of ingredients.  To my delight the recipe is quick to prepare but tastes like something you receive at a fine restaurant. Spring forward a few years later with a move to Lubbock, I can’t express how happy I was to find Red Raider meats and a great selection of lamb products.

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One of the best parts is that the lamb shanks at Red Raider meats are very affordable.  The initial step includes salting/peppering the shanks and then quickly braising them in a pot. After braising the shanks you add garlic and onions to the pot.

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After the onions are warmed up you deglaze the pot with some red wine, I chose a shiraz.  Then come the tomatoes.  Everything gets stirred and the lamb goes back in to simmer.

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After simmering for an hour the shanks are flipped over and simmered more. The entire prep for this dish takes about 20 minutes total.  I chose to start the dish before heading to work in the morning and let the shanks simmer all day.

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We typically serve this with polenta or mashed potatoes, although we had an extra cabbage in the fridge so we ended up making braised cabbage as the side. The end result is a fall-off-the-bone piece of lamb that is heavenly.  Plus the left over sauce can be used for pasta the next day and tastes like the most expensive pasta you can find in the store.

-JB-