Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Ode to Brisket

Beef brisket is one of those cuts of meat that was destined for BBQ. It can be tender if prepared in the right way, but must be cooked slowly or will toughen up on you like no other. I never really had too much exposure to it, save the occasional passover brisket. A big part of what holds brisket back is that you need to dedicate a large amount of time to prepare it properly. Steaks can easily be thrown on the grill or even fried up in a pan and come out moist and tender. Brisket responds to this type of treatment by turning in shoe leather. It is for this reason that it makes relatively infrequent appearances as it's lack of convenience scares off many cooks.

However, have prepared brisket in the slow cooker a few times now, I can assure you it is worth the wait. Brisket has just the right amount of fat and breaks down magnificently as it slow cooks. The end result is a delicious, flavorful meal that will blow you away. So next time you are at the grocery store or butcher looking over some meats, grab a 4 lb brisket and cook it real slow. Your patience and perseverance will be well rewarded. I am eagerly anticipating my Fantasy Football draft brisket and will be concocting an original spice rub recipe as well out of respect for one of the most underrated cuts of beef out there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I know it has been awhile so for those of you who have been reading I apologize. Between taking a vacation and work and the heat I haven't done much cooking at all. The truth is I really like cooking for big groups. I only have one roommate so making 5 lbs of pulled pork or brisket doesn't usually make much sense unless I'm going to be eating it for awhile. Nonetheless, I have neglected my blog and for that there is no excuse for that.

I really had every intention of making carne asada tacos. In fact I still have all the fixins for them, but I took a brief vacation and forgot to put my steak in the freezer. Needless to say I was greeted on my return by a brutal stench in my apartment. I definitely need to work on the planning aspect of my dishes a little more.

On a happier note, I will be "catering" my office's fantasy football draft. By catering I mean making a whole bunch of brisket and chowing down on it along with a few folks from my office while we take part in the time honored tradition of fantasy football. I really like the challenge of making food for a large group. I have also gotten really into making my own spice rubs so this will be a nice opportunity for that as well. Looking forward to getting back in the groove and with fall comes cooler temperatures and lots of great opportunities to make soups and stews. Stay tuned...

Monday, August 11, 2008

What the heck is Carne Asada Anyway?

It's been a little while since I've done a "what the heck is that anyway" post so I figure it's high time to do some. I hear the term "Carne Asada" thrown around quite a bit by the likes of taco bell and other restaurants. I have often ordered it because it sounded good, but not really having any idea what made it different from a regular grilled steak.

Well, carne asada translates literally into "roasted meat." Not quite as spectacular as it sounds in Spanish. Thinner cuts of beef such as flank or skirt steak are generally used and are rubbed down with salt and pepper before being grilled or broiled. Now here is the tricky part. Since the term carne asada is so broad, there are many recipes for carne asada that are entirely different from each other.

Some recipes are just meat rubbed with some spices. Others involve much more complex marinades such as this one from Simply Recipes. One theme I noticed was that a lot of recipes use lemon and lime juice as part of the marinade. The sharp acidic taste of citrus sounds like a pretty good pairing for some juicy steaks. With that said I will attempt to conquer carne asada via the crockpot. Stay tuned for the recipe.

I think it's safe to say that if Pacman had the option, he would opt for tacos over dots.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lazy Man's Hamburger Stew

I got back from a brief trip to CT and while I wanted to make something, I wasn't really looking to put out a whole lot of thought and prep work and as a result, Lazy man's hamburger stew was born.

1 lb Ground Sirloin
10 mini Yukon gold potatoes (quartered)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 can beef broth
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

In a pan quickly brown the meat, drain and add to the crockpot along with the chopped onions and potatoes. In a separate bowl, combine the spices and stir together until evenly blended. Pour the spices onto the mixture and use a large spoon to spread them around. Add the can of beef broth and cook on low for 4 hours.
Spoon some into a bowl, hit it with some hot sauce and you are good to go. Not bad overall considering I didn't use any recipe for guidance and just kinda threw it together. I think a can of tomatoes would have given it a little bit more thickness, but it certainly wasn't bad as is. I guess if you are going to be lazy about cooking, you shouldn't set your standards to high.