Hello and Welcome to Cut Cook Eat blog.

Recipes, cookbook reviews and general musing about food. Food gadgets will be stressed to breaking point. Al fresco techniques will be covered including BBQ, smoking and planking. I will teach people how to wrestle with large joints of meat using home butchery techniques to make roasts, mince and sausages. About me.

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Quick Pickle Take 2

In a previous post about Baked Bean Falafel I made some quick pickles to have with the falafel.

From my investigation you need to leave the pickles in the fridge for at least two days and up to 1 month. I ate the first jar in 3 days, so I had the pickling liquid and most of the seeds/spices left in the jar. The two items that went really well with the falafel were the red onions and the radishes so I wondered if you could reuse the pickling liquid for another session so potted it up with another red onion and filled the rest with sliced radishes.

Quick Pickles Take 2

Today for lunch I had a wrap with the cold falafel (they are good cold too which is another reason to make the baked bean ones) with the radish and red onion and it was amazing. This has really made me think that instead of the same old store bought pickled cucumber in dill, mustard seeds and onion you can make “designer” pickles to match the dish you are preparing. You just need to plan a couple days ahead so that the pickles get their time to meld their flavours in the fridge.

Combinations I am thinking about are:

– White onions with mustard seeds for potato salad.
– Cucumber, onion, lemon rind and fennel seeds for tuna salad.
– Red onions, cucumber, black pepper corns, Nigella seeds (onion), mustard seeds for beef salad.
– Carrot, orange peel and coriander seeds for coleslaw.

Will let you know which ones are winners and losers.

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2020 Food Challenge – main course

2020 Food Challenge – main course

Roll out the red-carpet cause wur havin BEANS!!!!!

Heinz Beanz

This is the second part of my works cooking challenge which is to make a main course from Egypt. Since our team is from all over Europe and the Middle East the brief was to select and make one or more of these:

Starter from Romania: Salata de Boeuf
Mains from Egypt: Falafel
Desert from Portugal, Germany, UK, Italy and France: Yule Log

So, the main course option was Falafel and if you check the recipe there is no mention of baked beans – so what gives… enter Nadiya Hussain. I have blatantly ripped off her recipe for Baked bean falafel to smash this challenge out of the park.

This recipe fixes everything that is wrong with Falafel:
1. They are dry as dust – and I quote from the recipe provided “Dry chickpeas are naturally starchy” like that is a good thing.
2. They are usually deep fried – major hassle… what do you do with the oil you just ruined?
3. If they were not dry enough sometimes tahini is used as a sauce – have you every tasted tahini… it sucks all the moisture out of your mouth in an instant. Nice for practical jokes but not really something I use a lot of.
4. No 24-hour soaking – this is a store cupboard recipe if you have 4 cans of beans and Garam Flour (Besan) in your cupboard. Surprisingly, I do have them most of the time because my children are vegetarian, and this is the “go to” recipe if they pop by. I also have Garam Flour (Besan) because I use it instead of wheat flour for making fruit/vegetable breads and cookies.

Enter the humble tin of baked beans, well 4 actually, which provides a moist base for the falafel and a sauce that rocks cause it uses Sriracha and mayonnaise..

The only thing I am going to change on Nadia’s recipe is to skip the slaw she uses in her recipe and instead make some “quick” pickles if you call 2 days quick. For quick pickles, a basic brine is equal parts vinegar and water, but you can adjust the ratio to your preference. Use any basic vinegar like white vinegar, apple cider, white wine, and rice vinegar all work well. You can use these vinegars alone or in combination. Do not use aged or concentrated vinegars like balsamic or malt vinegar for pickling.

Pickling Ingredients:
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon sugar (Xylitol)

2 cloves garlic thinly sliced

Spices and Seeds
½ tsp black peppercorns
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp Nigella seeds – onion seeds
1 tsp Dill
Pickling Spices

Vegetables
3 inches of Cucumber cut into long strips
1 medium Carrot peeled and julienned
½ Red Onion cut into ¼ moons
5 Radishes thinly sliced
2 sweetheart Cabbage leaves with the stalk removed and cut into strips

Pickling Vegetables

To make the brine place all the pickling ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar then remove from heat to cool.

Once liquid has cooled to room temperature, pour over vegetables in clean jars. Top with clean lid and store in fridge for at least 2 days and up to 1 month.

Here they are ready for the fridge – back in a couple of days….
Pickles

Let’s get started, firstly we need to drain and wash the beans.

Drain the beans

Just a note about the sauce. Nadia says to use 150g/5½oz of the drained bean sauce from the tins. Don’t believe it… use all the sauce. With my brand of beans there was 382g of sauce so I just doubled all the rest of the sauce ingredients, you can thank me later.

Sauce

Prep time for the falafel ingredients. I am using red onion for the added kick and cheats garlic cause I am lazy when you are putting garlic into something.

Onion and Garlic

Here are the spices – I LOVE the smell of cumin….

Spices

Get out the food toys… in go the beans and an egg for a quick blitz.

Blitzed beans and egg

Add all the spices, onion and garlic and stir. Then mix in the Gram Flour (Besan).

Mixed beans and other ingredients

You will need a bowl of water to keep the dough from sticking to your hands but don’t be tempted to make them smooth because the edges will brown up nice and crunchy in the oven. Then spritz them then with one of those 1 calorie cooking sprays, I use Sunflower.

Raw Falafel Balls

Into the oven for 25 minutes and here they are ready to trough… go on dip one in the sauce and try it!

Baked Falafel Balls

Heat a pita bread in the microwave and cut the top off. Break the falafel in half and stuff into the warm bread. Tuck some of the drained quick pickle in the spaces between the falafel and drizzle with the sauce. Sweet, sour, moist, crunchy and spicy with a sriracha afterburn nice.

Plated Falafel

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2020 Food Challenge – starter

Under Deconstruction

Making Salata de Boeuf was going to take some major deconstruction….

Wow! has it really been over 6 years since I blogged last… that was after a trip to Portugal for work where I blogged about the meatgasm. Not any trips this year due to Covid 19, but to keep our spirits up at work we are having a cooking competition. Challenge accepted. Since our team is from all over Europe and the Middle East the brief was to select and make one or more of these:

Starter from Romania: Salata de Boeuf
Mains from Egypt: Falafel
Desert from Portugal, Germany, UK, Italy and France: Yule Log

Something that intrigued me was my Romanian colleagues said that Salat de Boeuf had too much mayonnaise, is there such a thing?

Looking at the recipe the beef is boiled for 2 hours – really 2 hours! The only meat that gets that kind of abuse is when making stock where all the meat gets thrown away because it is inedible.

The recommended ingredients:
– beef
– carrots
– peas
– potatoes
– pickles
– mayonnaise
– mustard

I am assuming loads of mayonnaise gives a smooth mouth feel to the salad. So, to keep the mouth feel and reduce the mayo I am going to have to fool your mouth into thinking that all the foods are smooth like mayo, but not over do it because no one wants to sit down to a plate of baby food… not even babies.

So here is the plan

Plan

Starting from the bottom there is a disk of potato with whole grain mustard on top. The next layer is the beef in “gravy” then potato again followed by carrot gelatine. Topped off with mustard mayo. On the side there is pea puree and pickled red onions. I think that covers all the ingredients.

The tricky parts of this construction are the beef and the carrot layers. They must be strong enough to stack but not rubbery like a hockey puck because I want a smooth mouth feel for all the ingredients except the potato.

I learned quite a few new cooking techniques over the years since I bought Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. One area that I had not investigated was the Gel section in book 4 Ingredients and Preparation and this is what I will need to make the carrot and beef layer.

Book 4 Ingredients and Preparation

The Beef Layer
I am not going to eat anything that has been boiled for 2 hours so I needed an alternative. Assuming that the cut of meat should be inexpensive, I decide on Ox Cheek which I can buy at my local supermarket.

Ox Cheek

This muscle gets a lot of work so it is going to be quite tough and need some good lovin to make it moist and tender. How about 20 hours in a warm bath to get it started. One of the best ways to prepare inexpensive cuts of meat is to cook them Sous Vide which means “under vacuum” in French. Sous Vide is the process of vacuum-sealing food in a bag, then cooking it to a very precise temperature in a water bath. This technique produces results that are impossible to achieve through any other cooking method. First the meat needs to be sealed in a plastic bag in a vacuum sealer.

Sous Vide

The Sous Vide Supreme is basically a big tub full of 9 litres of water with a very sensitive heat controller that holds the temperature at +/- 1 degree of the setting chosen. For Ox Cheek this is 167F – 75C. In normal cooking you apply heat over time to the outside of the meat to try and cook the inside, without burning the outside to a cinder. Sous Vide uses the entropy of a large mass of water at a specific temperature to force the objects contained within the water to achieve the same temperature, but no more, over a period of time and thus reaching equilibrium. For Ox Cheek this is 20 hours. The reason for the vacuum seal is that dead air space is an insulator and disrupts heat flow, think double glazed windows.

Sous Vide

After 20 hours in the bath all the tough collagen in the cheek has morphed into lovely liquid gelatine and therefore the meat is moist and has a succulent mouth feel, a far cry from being boiled for 2 hours. I took a couple of forks and pulled it to shreds so we can suspend it in beef gravy.

Sous Vide

I am not going to use any crazy chemicals in this recipe that you cannot find in your local grocery store so I selected Agar Agar (or just Agar) and gelatine (or gelatin depending on your spell checker). I bought both from my local Waitrose supermarket. Yeah, they are easy to buy but when it comes to using them there are no instructions included so a meat hockey puck is in my future without a little investigation and math.

I decided to use Agar with the meat because I can add it to the beef stock and boil it to hydrate the gel and then add the shredded meat at the end in the mould. Investigation in the Modernist Cuisine book said that 0.35% by weight of Agar to liquid would give a firm gel. I weighed the measuring jug then made up 500ml of beef stock and added the juice from the sous vide bag and weighed again and the difference was 292 grams of liquid and therefore needed 1.02 grams of Agar. This is where you are going to need a small accurate scale to measure white powder… wow there are lots of hits on this search on Amazon I wonder why?

Agar Agar

To hydrate the Agar gel you need to whisk it while it is at 203F/95C for 3 minutes. This is a little bit tricky because in one hand you have the stick blender and the other hand an instant read thermometer (this picture only shows the blender because I needed one hand to take the picture).

Hydrating Agar Agar

Once the agar and stock have been hydrated, I can add the ox cheek back in and put it into moulds for the fridge.

Ox Cheek Potted

The Carrot Layer
I had previously made a carrot soup that had a fantastic deep carrot flavour. The base of the soup was just carrots and butter. The recipe for Caramelized Carrot Soup was from a supplemental publication “Modernist Cuisine at Home” that came out a year after the original series of books.

ModernistCuisineAtHome

The carrots are peeled from the inside and outside. The outside is peeled to remove the skin and the inside is peeled to remove the core which are rich in calcium and can cause a bitter taste. The carrots and butter are then added to a pressure cooker for 50 minutes which is a long time for carrots because they normally pressure cook for 3 minutes. The extra cooking mean that they come out rich and caramelized.

Pressure Cooker

I am only going to follow the procedure up to step 7 and then add gelatine to create the carrot layer. Gelatine is another interesting gelling agent because it melts in your mouth (body temperature) and therefore does not require boiling to hydrate the gel. I decided to use gelatine (or gelatin) because when the carrots come out of the pressure cooker and are blended in the food processor it would be hot enough melt the gelatine and disperse it evenly.

So how much gelatine do you use? I had Dr. Oetker Platinum Grade Leaf Gelatine and the directions on the back said to use the quantities as stated in your recipe. Well, I had never made this before so back to Modernist Cuisine to find out how much gelatine to use. Modernist Cuisine table for Cold Gels said for very firm use 160 Bloom gelatine at 1.5% by weight. What the heck is a Bloom besides a flower. Turns out the dude that spent his life playing with gelatine was named Bloom so that is the measure of the rigidity of a gelatine. Looking at the packaging for my leaf gelatine there was nothing about Bloom in sight, so a little Googling found the following table:

Bronze: 125-135
Silver: 160
Gold: 190-220
Platinum: 235-265

I assumed that the Platinum version of Dr. Oetker’s gelatine was 250 Bloom and I had about 550g of carrot and butter, so I needed to do some conversion:

550g carrot x 1.5% = 7.5g @ 160 Bloom

160 Bloom / 250 Bloom = 0.64

So I need: 7.5g @ 160 Bloom x 0.64 = 4.8g @ 250 Bloom gelatine leaf.

Back to the accurate scales to measure the gelatine leaf.

Gelatine Leaf

The leaf is soaked in cold water for 5 minutes then gently squeezed to remove the water and added to the carrots in the food processor for a quick blitz up. I then poured the carrot and gelatine into a plastic storage box and put it in the refrigerator over night to firm up.

Carrot Puree

The Potato Layers

These are fairly simple I just cut some rings out of baking potatoes and bagged them up and cooked them Sous Vide at 190F – 87C for an hour.

Potato Layers

Pea Puree

Again, a simple procedure but adds to the presentation and is an intense shot of pea flavour without the pop of eating cold peas. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, blanch 250g of frozen peas for 3 minutes. Strain the peas into a bowl and use a stick blender along with a little water to blitz the peas, adding more liquid in small additions as needed. Blend for no more than 2-3 minutes, until a fairly thick, smooth purée has been achieved. Push the purée through a fine sieve and using the back of a ladle this will give it a silky-smooth finish. I then transferred it to a storage container to cool in the refrigerator.

Pea Puree

Red Onion Pickles

I lifted this recipe from an accompaniment to Cochinita Pibil because it is great for cutting through rich flavours. Thinly slice a large red onion. Note: red onions can be tough on the outside so remove several layers when peeling. Add onion to a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt and stir well. Leave for 10 minutes to let the salt extract some of the juice from the onion and then add ½ cup lime juice. Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes stirring every few minutes. Transfer to a jar and put into the fridge for at least 4 hours. The pickles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Red Onion Pickles

Construction
Lay down a pea puree swoosh when there is lots of room (and I can start over if I goof it).
Construction 1

Hollow out a little of the potato and put down a layer of whole grain mustard.
Construction 2

Extract the beef “in gravy” from the mould and place on the potato.
Construction 3

More potato.
Construction 4

Cut a circle of the carrot and place on top.
Construction 5

I then used some store-bought mayo and added some French’s yellow mustard and then put it into a piping bag in the fridge for a while. After it was chilled I piped it onto the carrot and added the pickled onions.

Here is the finished construction

Deconstructed Salata de Boeuf

Now that is just about the right amount of mayo…

Deconstructed Salata de Boeuf cross section

It was really good when you put a bit of each layer onto your fork.

Changes for Next Time
Use less mustard in the mayo.
Make the beef layer ½ as thick (I only had 2 ramekins) add more pepper and chop the meat finer.
Make the potato layers thinner or do something like a potato dauphinoise

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Round and round we go…

Recently I went to a Portuguese restaurant where they served meat on skewers to your table and cut it onto your plate with big sharp knives. Wait for it… ahhhhhh meatgasm the meat keeps coming and coming until you are fed into submission as your body shuts down all non-essential services for digestion. We lasted about two hours of solid meat feasting, oh and beer of course. I notice that these were not your ordinary skewers but square rods that were used to cook the meat on a rotisserie in a large open face oven.

The Modernist Cuisine says that is not roasting but instead baking if you have an enclosed oven. Spit-roasting also called rotisserie is an essential feature of the cooking. The food goes from hot when the food faces the fire or heat, and slowly rotates away from the heat into the cool which is the secret to a great roast.

“These two competing processes balance out such that the average heat below the surface of the roast is only a fraction of the peak heat at the surface. If everything is judged just right, the interior of a roast ends up, over a dizzying number of rotations, gently cooked to a shallow gradient of doneness from just below the surface all the way to the center, while the surface itself gets cooked to a crisp, deep-brown finish.”

I had done lots of rotisserie chicken , but after being at the Buffalo Grill in Lisbon I wanted to branch out to other meats. This is my second attempt at rib of beef.

I am not sure what preparation they use in Lisbon, but I believe it is a combination of marinades and also rubs. One of my favourites had a deep garlic flavour so that is what I am trying to replicate. My thoughts were a rub so I went to my Bible Barbecue Bible, Sauces Rubs and Marinades and chose the Texas Sprinkle.

Here it is with some of my changes:
¼ cup garlic powder
1 tbsp. coarse sea salt
2 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme

I put the skewer in and fix the arms before I put the rub on, that way it does not knock off the rub during assembly. On a big tray smash the rub into the skin all around. This is the end result.

Texas Sprinkle on the rib of beef

On to the BBQ with the lid held open going round and round for about an hour and half.

round and round

I always check the internal temperature using a Thermapen from ETI, but you must check from the side near the skewer not the edge.

Thermapen

When the temperature gets to 134F then it is medium rare and ready for a rest. Turn off the gas and close the lid and let the meat rest and it will go up in internal temperature by possibly 5 degrees.
Resting

I brought the meat into the house and made a big slice to see how well done it was. This looked just perfect for my taste.

Carved

Here it is plated up.

Plated

OK so I know – where is the Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy with a side of steamed cauliflower, broccoli and carrots… well since I have started eating SANE there will be no starch in this meal, just some homemade broccoli slaw left over from when the kids were here on Friday.

But, I NAILED – the flavour from the Buffalo Grill, it must have been a rub because I have an overall garlic taste in my mouth with a slight burn in the back of my tongue from the 3 peppers. Nice. I also cut the slice of beef (for seconds) a lot thinner which made the texture sublime. All and all a win/win for this recipe and will become a part of my BBQ repertoire.



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Fresh Strawberry Smoothie…

I have been trying a new way of eating by reading The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better. To get more vegetables into your diet he recommends drinking green smoothies, which looked and sounded disgusting until I came across a book written by his colleague Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides. Carrie calls the original smoothie from Bailor’s book The Hardcore Green Smoothie and I have to agree. It was not until I read Carrie’s book that I was tempted to try her version. The first thing you have to do is order some guar gum and Xylitol on the internet, I know it sounds weird but it is well worth it for the texture and storage of these smoothies (they are supposed to be smooth right!). The other thing you need is a powerful blender. Most of the blenders that make soup also are up to the job (they are supposed to be smooth right!). All the rest of the stuff you can get at your local Sainsbury’s, including the whey protein powder near the chemist area. [Updated Sainsbury’s has Xylitol also it is called Total Sweet ]

It is fresh strawberry season in England so I decided to take one of Carrie’s recipes for Green Smoothie – Strawberry Milkshake and twist it up a bit to take advantage of the local produce.

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened thin coconut milk
4 oz. / 110g fresh spinach
⅔ Cup / 2 oz. / 55g strawberry whey protein powder
2 tbsp. Xylitol (depending on tooth)
5 oz. / 140g fresh strawberries tops removed
Two – three handfuls of ice cubes
¼ teaspoon guar gum

Place ingredients in the blender in the order listed, except guar gum. Blend on high until completely smooth. Tap the guar gum through the hole in the blender lid while the blender is still running and blend for 5 seconds.

Here is the finished product.

Ingredients

I gave some to my son yesterday and he exclaimed “That is great – you need to bottle it up and sell it”. My daughter just looked totally confused and said “That tastes like strawberries, but it is green”.



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Yeah it is Cheese Day!!!

Before Christmas 2013 I went on a cheese making course at River Cottage (guess they are not doing it anymore as no link at this time). One of the types of cheese we made was Camembert which needed some TLC to mature from pasteurized but not homogenized milk product to a mature creamy cheese. Some starter and rennet produced a curds and whey substance that over the day we slowly changed to cheese. We then put the curds into a mold to hold our mould and milk ended up in a cheese. Keeping warm for the first day then cool for 10 days then in the fridge for 6 weeks ended up with this:

Camembert

It looked like the real stuff, and did not smell too strong so I decided to try some:

Inside the Camembert

It was really smooth and creamy and had a good taste, a bit acidic (think hint of lemon) but all in all it was very nice. I am not a cheese expert (kind of glad about that) but the end result was a reasonable attempt, and the rind was quite a result:

Outside of  the Camembert

We used two+ litres of milk to produce two tuna tin size Camembert cheeses. It took all day to make, and then about 2 months of care and attention to mature… still not totally convinced it is worth the effort on a small scale. Unless you have a near free source of pasteurized, but not homogenised source of milk then it is a bit of graft. That is ok if you have nothing else to do, but the jury is still out if I will take it on in the long run.

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Red Veal – take 3…

Costco has started to stock locally source red veal which I just had to try. I bought the veal escallops
Veal Escallops

because I wanted to master the art of Wiener Schnitzel. In my first attempt I used panko bread crumbs with flour and egg in olive oil but they just burned and the veal was edible at best. My second attempt was using my own bread dried and crumbed in a blender. I mixed olive oil and butter in the frying pan and the crumb crust turned out well and the veal was medium rare, but it was tough.

Normally male cows that are produced during milk production meet an untimely demise rather early in life since they cannot produce milk. Red veal is these young male cows allowed to run around outside and feed on grains and milk and grow for ½ a year or so. This is unlike the white veal which is kept in the dark in cages so they cannot move and force fed milk only. The white veal is very tender when cooked rapidly, but the red veal needs a little more cooking to get that tender mouth feel without having to torture cows to achieve this.

In my third attempt to have the ultimate Wiener Schnitzel I am going to use the Sous Vide and cook them rare at 131°F for 3 hours, then coat in flour and shallow fry in olive oil and butter until the coating is golden brown, which I hope will happen before the meat is overcooked inside.

I decided on smoked sea salt and cracked black pepper for the seasoning in the bag.
Seasonings

I then bagged them up ready for cooking
Ready to Sous Vide

Into the Sous Vide at 131°F for three hours, now where did I put that beer…
Cooking

Here is the result
Dinner

It includes another new item from Costco which is broccoli slaw, and some cheeky salt and vinegar crisps. All in a very nice dinner, and the Schnitzel was tender and crunchy at the same time just as it should be.

Sorry for not posting for such a long time. No real excuse except that I was working quite hard the last 8 months on an issue we had with our product which I hope is now behind us. Also it is supposed to be summer in the UK but at the end of June at 6:00 it is about 60°F so windy and cold. The smoker has not even seen light of day this year yet!!!!!



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My first investigation into Sous Vide Salmon…

Sous Vide cooking it is very scientific and based on thermodynamics, specifically entropy. You vacuum pack the food and put it into a water bath of certain temperature for a period of time and sooner or later all the water and food are at the same temperature and stay that way. The result is perfectly cooked food. Tender meats can be cooked from 1-4 hours with the same result. Tough meats that require the fat to turn to collagen for the silky texture can take days in the Sous Vide but if you are off by an hour or two who cares. Until today I have stayed away from cooking fish in the Sous Vide because of the chaos that I have encountered during my research. With fish the cooking time is down to minutes, and it seems that tuna and salmon are even more particular.

Here is the summary of my research:

Fifty Four Degrees
After 35 minutes, I took it off the brine, I drained and patted it dry and seasoned it with Pepper and a tiny bit of salt – It was already seasoned by the brine – I set the circulator to 50°C for 28 minutes, it’s the time I got from Douglas Baldwin’s “A practical guide to Sous Vide cooking“.

In a previous post he said that 53°C was too high and the fish fell apart.

SousVide Supreme Users Guide
Recommends: 50 minutes at 60°C (this is the safe bet, see below)


A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking

Set the temperature of the water bath to 108°F (42°C) for rare salmon, 122°F (50°C) for medium–rare salmon, or 140°F (60°C) for medium salmon

Beginning Sous Vide
Recommends: 30 minutes at 55.5°C

Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking
Recommends: 46°C for no specified time, but remove when the internal temperature reaches 46°C.

Aside: There also seems to be an issue with fish in the Sous Vide if you are not going to eat it right away. If you want to have cold cooked salmon then you need to take it to a higher temperature of 60°C for a longer period of time. This will pasteurize the salmon, then it needs to be plunged into an ice bath in the vac bag for an hour before refrigeration.

One thing that all of the recipes agree on is that you need to do two things:

1. Skin the fish
I am not sure why you need to skin the fish, but I think it is so you can fry it later and serve on the side. Me, I chuck it in the bin because it disgusts me.
Salmon

2. Brine the fish
I used a brine of 2% Malden Sea Salt with bottled water for an hour. Brining is used to firm up the fish and also remove serum albumin which is the egg white stuff you see when you cook salmon. It is edible but not very nice.
Brined Salmon

When the brine time was up I washed the fillets off, patted them dry and seasoned with pepper since they already had salt from the brine. Then into the vac-pac for a nice warm bath. I like my salmon done through and flaky but not mushy. I am going to try:
53°C for 30 minutes
Brined Salmon in Sous Vide bag

I decided that the salmon would go well with some new potatoes. I like to twist up the new potatoes a bit by cooking them in the Tefal ActiFry.
New potatoes in Actifry and SV salmon

I steamed the broccoli and cauliflower, but made sure that I used bottled water as our water is hard here and it toughens the skin. When the salmon was done, I cut them out of the bag and browned them on each side in a hot pan with some unsalted butter. Here was my dinner platted up.
SV Salmon
Oh with a side dish of hollandaise sauce of course.

This salmon was beautiful, so moist and flakey.
Cooked Salmon

Next time I will crank up the salt to 4% and add 1-2% sugar also for the hour brine. The Sous Vide will be at 51°C for 30 minutes. Hopefully this will be a bit firmer fish and allow me to brown them a little bit longer in the frying pan.

This blog is hosted by Brinkster, great service and support so check it out…
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My ascent to the Mt. Everest of BBQ…

Smoking beef brisket, low and slow. I adapted my recipe from Weber’s Smoke: A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill.

Base Camp 01 (night before)
Trim – did not do that probably should have
Rub – make
Inject – did that with home-made beef stock
Cover and refrigerate – put into a Sous Vide bag and double sealed.

Base Camp 02 (morning of the smoke 7:15 AM)
About an hour before you are ready to start smoking, take the brisket out of the refrigerator to let it warm to room temperature. This is going to be a long cook so you don’t want to waste any time getting it up to ambient temperature. This is also a good time to apply the rub with spices.
Meat with Rub
This allows the rub to change from a dry powder to a sticky glaze that will become what pit bosses call “bark”.

About ½ hour before you are ready to smoke, put a chimney full of restaurant grade charcoal into the smoker ring.
Charcoal in smoker

Since you don’t want to flavour the meat with any kind of petroleum starter fuel, I use newspaper knots. Take two sheets of newspaper and roll them up along the long side, then tie two overhand knots in them. Make 3 of these and put them in the bottom of the chimney. Scrunch up another two sheets and put them under the chimney. Fill the chimney with charcoal over the paper knots and then light. By the time we are ready we will be working with embers.
Charcoal burning

Pour out the embers on top of the other unlit charcoal in the smoker. Assemble the bottom section and insert the water bowl. Put about two inches of hot water in the bowl. On goes the brisket for about 4-5 hours. Every hour add 3 more chunks of hickory, check the water and poke the charcoal to knock off the outer ash and maintain a temperature of 225-250F.

Advanced Base Camp (let the smoke begin 8:30 AM)
Smoke the brisket at 225F for 4 hours and goal is internal temperature of 160F.

When the internal temperature reached 160F then the first stage is done.
Brisket at 160F internal temperature

Snowed in (afternoon 1:00 PM)
Now I need to employ a little cheat, a Texas Crutch, which is to double wrap the brisket in heavy duty foil with ½ cup of the beef stock we used to inject last night. We want to eat today, right? We are too old and tired to smoke overnight and have to get up for the 3 o’clock feed again, right? So a little cheat will mean that we get past the stall which occurs when the meat starts to sweat and cools (like an athlete). This will just about half the time for this next stage from 8-10 hours to 4-5 hours. Normally on the BBQ circuit teams would cook over night, but I am not into that…yet.

Summit (later on the day 1:00 PM)
Now it is the ascent to the summit of tender smoky spicy beef, and this is where the concept of a recipe all falls apart. Actually that is what you want, for it to all fall apart, the brisket that is. The next stage is to cook at 225-250F in foil for another 3-5 hours until the internal temperature is 190-195F.
Brisket at 160F internal temperature

Depending on your cut of meat and the amount of fat this can be even longer than 5 hours. A seasoned pit boss will say “he feels when it is done” by using a temperature probe or fork sticking the meat and seeing if it yields easily. My fire in the smoker lasted the 4 hours and the temperature was 190F but it was still not yielding and a bit firm in the thick part of the meat. I wanted to clean up outside so I put the brisket into the oven at 225F (another cheat but it would be dark soon). It was 5:00PM and I checked the meat every half an hour until I reached the summit at about 6:30PM. After about 10 hours of cooking I was at the top. I opened the foil for 15 minutes to let the steam out. But now I had to slowly descend the mountain to dinner.

Descent (evening 6:45 PM)
The brisket has been cooked for 10 hours so now needs to be slowly lowered in temperature, and allow all the juices to go back into the meat and not leak out all over the cutting board. Bring on the faux cambro
Faux Cambro
Which is a beer cooler and couple of towels. In to the cooler goes the brisket in foil.
In cooler
After a 2 hour descent the brisket is finally done.
Finished

And here it is plated up.
Brisket Plated up

It is 9:00 PM and I am shattered! It tasted really nice and smoky at the beginning and had a soft and moist texture followed by a long spicy flavour. I have now done all the meats required in a smoking competition; ribs, chicken and brisket. Who’s the “PIT BOSS” – me!

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What the heck is a KCBS…

Kansas City Barbecue Society of course! And my Barbecue Bible, Sauces Rubs and Marinades has a copy of their Kansas City Sweet and Smoky Rub, which is described as:

“Sweet rather than salty, flavorful rather than fiery”

Here are the ingredients.
Spices

2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup seasoned salt
1/4 cup Smoked Salt
1/4 cup onion salt
1/4 cup celery salt
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp mustard powder
1 tsp poultry seasoning (did not know what this was so left it out)
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

This is what it looks like after it has been mixed.
Rub

You need to let the brisket come to room temperature before smoking, which takes about an hour. This is about the right amount of time to have the rub transform from a powder to lovely gooey sticky sauce.
Rub

When the smoke and heat hit this sauce it will transform into bark which will encase the brisket and keep all the lovely juice that I injected to keep the meat moist during the smoking session.

Now all I have to do is smoke it for 10 hours before I can eat.

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