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The Saucier’s take on Green Pork Posole…

The Saucier’s take on Green Pork Posole…

Today in A Saucier’s Take on Green Pork Posole… we will take a culinary classic and meld it together with a classic home cooked Mexican dish.

Posole is a beautiful home cooked and quick Mexican cuisine.  Usually quick, relatively speaking, a broth cooked in an hour.  I LOVE it..  I LOVE the flavors.  But I am a lover of stocks, sauces and beautiful rich soups so it was time for me to put the Saucier’s take on this classic.

So today, we tackle phase 1. The broth!

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The heart and soul of most classic French soups is the stock. I am doing a derivation of the classic brown beef or veal stock to meet my needs. I am replacing the classic beef knuckle or leg bones with a good, meaty pork “neck bone” from a local Mexican market. These consist of rib ends, chine bones and split spinal bones. As with any brown stock, you must roast the bones. You are bringing the maillard reaction into play. What is the Maillard reaction you say? I am glad you asked!!!

Definition:

The Maillard reaction is a culinary phenomenon that occurs when proteins in meat are heated to temperatures of 310°F or higher, causing them to turn brown. Named for the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who discovered the process at the start of the 20th century, the Maillard reaction is similar to the process of caramelization, where carbohydrates like sugar turn brown when heated.±

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Thank you Louis-Camille for your assistance tonight.

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I digress. I tend to do that. Digress? Oh yeah! Stocks! The classic Escoffier brown stock includes beef or veal knuckle bones or joint bones, mirepoix (2 parts onion, 1 part carrot and 1 part celery) tomatoes or tomato paste for acid and fresh herbs and dried spices such as parsley, thyme bay leaves and black pepper corns, which is then roasted or caramelized to a nice golden brown to bring out the bold flavors, with a splash of red wine and enough water to cover the whole beautiful mess. We are turning that on its head with the BROTH that we are making here. Time for another culinary term:

Bit of Culinary Knowledge:

Broth vs. Stock. A stock is a flavorful liquid made from bones, aromatic vegetables, water, herbs and spices. Stocks are the basis for many classic cuisine dishes and are generally not served on their own. Why bones? Bones and the connective tissue that surrounds those bones contain large volumes of collagen, a protein which will, when exposed to simmering water over a period of time, dissolve from the bones and tissues giving the stock its body and richness. A good stock, when chilled will be thick and resemble a gelatin dessert. A broth is a flavorful liquid made from bones AND MEAT, aromatic vegetables, water, herbs and spices. Broths can be components of a dish OR can stand alone as a dish on their own.

On track again. The broth we are making today replaces the beef bones with the afore mentioned pork neck bones with a considerable amount of attached meat. The classic mirepoix is being transformed into a sofrito.

Definition:

Sofrito is the secret ingredient in many Latin Caribbean dishes and it’s so easy to make. It’s a versatile, aromatic puree of tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic. ±±

To the onion, carrot and celery combination, we add poblano chilies and garlic. So while not meeting a classic definition of a sofrito, as it does not contain tomatoes, nor is it blended, it’s also no longer a mirepoix.

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Next, we are replacing the parsley stems and fresh thyme with more classic Mexican ingredients of oregano sprigs and coriander. I happen to have cilantro on the back end of its productive life and is therefore now going to seed. And yes, those seeds are coriander seeds. Completely different flavors. With the fresh coriander seed, you still get the hint of cilantro with a very bright coriander flavor. The peppercorns are enhanced with dried coriander seed and dried cumin seeds as well as the fresh bay leaf that we have in our back yard garden. It’s pretty amazing that fresh bay leaf actually tastes like something more than notebook paper!

Next replacement? We are making a green posole, and one of the basics of that is the tomatillo salsa that is added to the soup at service. We are incorporating tomatillo in place of the tomato for acidity. This will bring that signature tartness of the tomatillo to a bold flavored broth.

Last but not least. Wine. The tannic and fruity red wine is replaced by a dry white wine. We still cook the alcohol out but we have that little extra sweetness, without coloring the broth.

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So now, as I type away on this bad boy, we will let it cook overnight for further processing tomorrow. A good brown stock needs a MINIMUM of 8 hours with those thick bones. The pork bones are not near so big, so you could get away with less cook time. We will give it the full time to extract that maximum flavor from the vegetables and meat and as much of the collagen as possible from the bones. One last important factor with a stock. We do NOT boil stocks! We simmer stocks, starting with cold water to more slowly dissolve the proteins without setting them, and bring up to just a simmer.  How much water?  Just enough to cover.

On that note? It’s been a long day and my posole broth has several more hours to brew!

±http://culinaryarts.about.com/od/glossary/g/maillard.htm

±±http://latinfood.about.com/od/beginnerrecipes/ss/sofritosteps.htm

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Mastering the Loaf Part I – Meat Loaf

Mastering the Loaf Part I – Meat Loaf

Mastering the Loaf Part I – Meat Loaf

Fear not my friends!  We are not talking greasy!  We are not talking dry!  We are talking about warm, tender, juicy and just right meat loaf.  That blue collar American Diner classic gets a lower calorie remake to be more than just your average meat loaf!

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Mise en Place.  Wow, again with the mise en place stuff!  Why?  Mise en Place is a vital concept in the restaurant world.  It saves us time and energy.  Mise en place is translated as everything in its place.  What does that mean for those of you playing the home version of our fine game?  Get all of your ingredients out, ready and accessible.  What happens when everything is not in its place?  You spend half of your time not making the food, but going back and forth from the fridge, to the counter, to the pantry to the cupboard, etc.  You are running around like a chicken with your head cut off.  That is tiring.  That is a big reason that some people do not like to cook.  What can you do to further your mise en place at home?  Do what we do in the restaurant world.  We prep EVERYTHING!  When someone orders an item that has carrots or onions or for that matter, any cut vegetable, do you think we run to the cooler and grab an onion and start cutting?  Not on your life!  We will base our prep on the menu and projections for the next day, or two days and will cut all the vegetables, portion all of the meats, pre-mark some of them, and get everything to a point that we can quickly turn out your hot and still fresh food.  This can be applied to the home cook.  Those diced onions, celery and carrots that you see in 70 percent of your recipes (mirepoix); you can make a large batch.  If kept in a good fridge, you can keep it for a week or more.  When you get your burger meat, or your chickens, portion them according to how you will use them.  Mise en place can help you make your kitchen experience soother and easier, and frankly, more enjoyable.

Now, to the meatloaf.  What do you need?

  • Turn your oven on to 350.  Why put this in the ingredients?  A cold oven does not cook.  Why wait for your oven when your meat is ready to go in?  Have it hot first!
  • 2 lb. of very lean beef.  I used a higher fat content this time, as that is what I had in the house.
  • 1 lb. of mixed mushrooms, today was shitake and cremini. Sliced and cut the stems off.  (save them for later)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 cup of Panko Bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of fine chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon of fine chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large egg
  • A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of canola oil.

Equipment that you will need?

  • Mixing bowl
  • Sheet Pan
  • Sauté pan

Hmmmm… We have not done this yet, shame on me!  How to dice and onion!!!!!  Don’t get your 20 year old ski goggles out, or your kids swim goggles. If you do it right, even you can cut an onion tear free!!!!  Start with the two basic cuts. Onions are the root end of flowering plant that is related to the daffodils and tulips that grow in your garden.  They are also cousins to your culinary friends, garlic, shallots and leeks.  Therefore there are two ends of the onion, the root end and the blossom end.  The root end, looks like it has a beard, and the blossom end comes to a little peak.  Cut the blossom end off to the point that there is no more onion skin showing.  Cut the root end JUST past the edge of the fuzzy root stuff.  Technical term huh?  You want to see the yellowish root base still intact in the onion.  Why?  That is where all of the tear producing “stuff” lives in your onions.  Put your onion on your cutting board, blossom end down.  Take your nice sharp knife and cut the onion in half, splitting the root end up the middle.  Peel the onion skin off of the root and the top and set them aside for your stock pot later.  Now you can take the skin off.  In the restaurant world, we are trying to preserve every scrap, so we tend to obsess on the amount of wastage.  If you don’t want to fight with your onion skin, and are not averse to having extra for your stock pot, grab the corner of the first layer of your onion, and peel that bad boy right off.  You will likely get all the onion skin, all at once.  You can set it aside for your stock pot now.  By the way, now you can twist that layer and pull the onion skin right off.

Let’s get to the nuts and bolts of WHY you cry when you cut onions.  Onions contain enzymes and amino acid sulfoxides.  When you cut into that onion, the enzymes react with the amino acids and for a compound called suflfenic acid.  This acid quickly vaporizes when exposed to air.  When it comes in contact with your eyes?  Tears.  So how do you stop this reaction?  The vast majority of these compounds are contained in the root end of the onion.  If you avoid cutting the root end of the onion, you will avoid releasing this compound, and you will therefore avoid the waterworks.

Now for the practical application of this bit-o-science.  There are two common methods for dicing your onions.  The old school way that is taught in culinary school is to lay the onion half down on your cutting board.  Lay your knife down parallel with the board and cut from the blossom end to the root end, stopping your cut before you get to the root, about a ¼ of an inch from the end. Cut to the desired size of your dice.  Now, working from the root end to the blossom end with the blade perpendicular to the cutting board, cut your onion again to the desired thickness, not going past that same ¼ inch from the end of the root.  Now you finish the dice.  Your next set of cuts will be perpendicular to the last cut.  Cut from the blossom end to the root end, again to your desired thickness.  You will have a stubby little end left that contains the root bundle, and no tears.  Set your root aside for your stock pot.

Version two is much less complex, but not quite as precise.  This is the perfect application for the home cook that is not looking for the perfect 1/16 inch fine Brunoise cut onion.  Go through the same procedures to get you to two nicely peeled half onions with the root and blossom ends removed.  Lay that onion down again on your cutting board.  Now, from root end, again leaving your ¼ inch of root, you are going to cut from root to blossom, from the outside edge in a sort of rainbow of cuts.  Think of it like cutting lots of little wedges of your onion.  Now, just like with the previous cut, work from the blossom end back to the root end, and cut to your desired dimension, still leaving the root end intact with no more tears.

That was a LOT of talk about onions.  Now back to our originally scheduled program, already in progress.

Pretty simple stuff.  Let’s start with the mushrooms.  Heat the oil in your sauté pan, and add your onions, you remember those onions right?  Cook until they are just starting to turn a little clear.  Add your mushroom, garlic and ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.  Cook your mushroom and onion mixture until the mushrooms have given up their liquid, and that liquid has cooked mostly off.  If you don’t think your mushrooms are cooked enough, give them a splash of water to keep things moving and continue until your product has cooked the juice out.  Now set your mushrooms aside.

Take your meat, and all of your other ingredients, EXCEPT For our Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and your flour, that is for later, put it all into a nice clean mixing bowl.  Now add your half of your mushroom mixture, saving the rest for your nice brown gravy.  Using the best mixing tool in your kitchen, clean hands; fully mix the meat and all of the good stuff.  When you have a nice homogeneous blob-o-beef, take your sheet pan and hit it with our favorite cooking spray.  Plop your meat mound on to your sheet tray and form it into a nice loaf shape, about 3 inches wide, and as thick and long as you want it.  Why not use a loaf pan like mamma used to do?  Regardless of the lowest fat percentage beef, you still have a fat content.  When you cook it, you will melt that fat.  Rather than have the beef cooking IN that fat, which is what happens in a loaf pan, you cook in on your sheet pan, and the fat will pool to the OUTSIDE of the meat.  Cook your loaf for about an hour, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

When your meat is getting close, it’s time to make the gravy.  Since this is a weight watchers friendly recipe, we will forgo the roux process.  Take your reserved beef stock, and add your Worcestershire sauce in a mixing bowl.  Grab your whisk.  Add your tablespoon of flour and whisk well, until fully incorporated.  EEK!  You are putting flour into water!  It’s gonna have clumps!  If you had more flour and less water, and did NOT whisk, you very well could have lumps.  Since we are whisking the flour into the liquid before heating, you are reducing the lump factor.  Now take the reserved mushrooms, put then into your favorite sauce pan, and add the stock mixture.  Heat over medium high heat.  Keep stirring.  The flour will start to thicken the liquid after it reaches the boiling point.  Cook for a few extra minutes, until it reaches the desired thickness, and taste it for seasoning.  ALWAYS TASTE YOUR FOOD!

For service, you can cut it to 1 ½ ounce slices and serve two slices per serving.  Sauce your meat with ¼ cup of your mushroom sauce.  Tonight we served with green beans and roasted potatoes.  Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Culinary 101 – Sauces – Sauce Tomate

Culinary 101 – Sauces – Sauce Tomate

Tonight we will go over the next on the complexity scale of the Escoffier Mother Sauces, Sauce Tomate, or Tomato Sauce.  The yield of this sauce will be 1 quart.  A good manageable amount.

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Mise en place.  Buy now, you should be getting used to this word….

  • 1 quart of Tomato concasse( don’t worry, it will explain)
  • 1 pint of canned tomato puree
  • 2 ounces of yellow or white onion, diced
  • 2 ounces of carrots diced
  • 1 ounce of either salt pork or bacon
  • 1 small ham bone
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 stem of fresh thyme
  • 1 stem of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed black peppercorns
  • Salt to taste
  • White sugar to taste

Equipment:

  • Heavy bottom sauce pot
  • Either a food mill or bur mixer
  • Cheese cloth.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have done something on this blog tonight that I have not done before.  I have posted an actual RECIPE!  Why?  This is a very straight forward, but highly useable everyday sauce.  If you are willing to make this on a weekly basis, there is no reason to keep the little baby cans of processed tomato product in your pantry.  This is SO much better than that “stuff.”  Now, don’t be mistaken.  This is not the sauce your Italian MaMa puts on your pasta.  This is base stuff.  Use this in place of your cans.

Now for the how to.

Render the salt pork or bacon.  Huh?  Render?  Okay.  That means.  Cut it into small pieces.  Put it in your sauce pot, and cook it on medium heat until the fat is melted off.  You DO NOT WANT TO BROWN YOUR BACON.  Sorry, did not mean to yell.  But you are not looking for smoked bacon flavor.  You just want the fat.  Take the cooked bits out.

Add your onions and carrots and sauté until slightly softened, do not brown.

Build a sachet with your herbs.  Again with the culinary words huh?  Okay.  A sachet is a pouch made from cheese cloth that herbs are tied into to infuse flavors into sauce, without having to dig out sprigs and twigs later on.  What goes into your sachet?  Everything on your recipe list from garlic on down.  Take a 4 or 5 inch square of your cheese cloth.  Put everything in the middle.  Gather the corners, and tie off the top.  Drop it in.

Add your tomato concasse, juices, and tomato puree.  Now for the tomato concasse.  Big word for an easy concept.  Tomato concasse is nothing more than tomatoes that have been peeled and de-seeded.  Ummmmmm…  How do I peel a tomato you ask?

For the volume that we are looking at, 4 cups or 1 quart, you will need 2 pounds of roma tomatoes.  Why?  They have a good flavor, and they tend to be cheaper than their hot house counterparts.

Put the little buggers on the stem side down, and cut an X into the bottom of each of them.  In a large sauce pot, bring 1 gallon of salted water to a boil.  In a separate stock pot, build 1 gallon of ice water.

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When all of the tomatoes have been “X’ed” and the water is boiling, float enough on the top of the water to just cover the surface.  Count to 30.  (30 seconds by the way)  Scoop them out and drop them in your ice water bath.  Leave them in the ice water for as long as needed.  Rinse and repeat.  When they are all

done, you will notice that the skin of the tomatoes will easily peel off from the point that you cut the X.  Cut them in half and scoop out the seeds.  Rough chop what is left.  That is tomato concasse.  Why go through all of this?  Because you don’t want skins or seeds in your sauce, and it is much easier to address this now, than to go through the pain in the rear of having to back out and clean out your food mill, or pull skins out of your burr mixer.

Now that you have added your concasse, add your section of ham bone.  Visit your local butcher if you do not have one from your previous Easter dinner stuck in the freezer.  Oh, if I have not mentioned it before, DO NOT THROW AWAY BONES.  They are cooking greatness.  Exception?  Cooked chicken or fish.  Way to tedious to deal with.  Steak bones, ham bones, pork bones?  Save ‘em and freeze them.  Then refer back to the article on stocks.

Now that we have gone through ALL of that.  Cook your sauce on low heat for 1 to 2 hours.  Low heat, because tomatoes will scorch VERY quickly.  After your 2 hours, your sauce should be reduced down to a nice consistency.  Pull out the bones, and sachet.  Get your handy burr mixer ready to go, and give it a buzz.  You should have a nice thick tomato sauce.  Salt and sugar to taste.  Always taste and season your food!!!

Lessons for today?  Don’t be scared of funny sounding French words.  They are really simple if you get down to the brass tacks of it.

On a side note.  If you are NOT in the mood to concasse tomatoes, you can substitute canned diced tomatoes.  You may have a few seeds and skins to contend with, but this will work if you don’t have the time or patience.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2012 in Culinary 101

 

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