Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Achiote Chips

Achiote, or Annatto seed have a deep red pigmentation, and they are edible.  They are used to color a variety of foods, some surprising, like cheddar cheeze.  I know Cheddar is yellow, there is just a hint of Achiote in there.  I got these festive Tortillas at La Tapatia Meat Market in Carrollton Tx. and made chips.
We'll just cut them into quarters, and throw them in the fryer.
Cook them until they are crispy, and drain them on a paper towel.
Salt them when they are hot.
They are really good when they are hot out of the fryer.  Now I make Nachos...
Mmmm...  Nachos...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sour Pickles

It used to be that you could go into a Deli and they would have Pickle Barrels full of whatever kind of Pickles you want.  Looks like good pickles have given way to convenience.  There are some issues there, like quick pickles use Acetic Acid (Vinegar) to produce the sourness in the Pickle.  While this is an accepted culinary practice I have noticed that Acetic Acid disrupts my digestive process, and I stay away from most commercial brands of Pickles.  However, I have found that I Love naturally fermented Pickles, and they seem to augment my digestive processes.
A naturally fermented Sour Pickle gets its sourness from Lactic Acid which is produced by Lactobacillus Bacilli, the same that you get from Yogurt.  The fermenting process takes a long time compared to the quick pickles that use the Acetic Acid, and cooking process.  I can see why commercial pickles use the Acetic Acid cooking process because its takes no time compared to the Lactic Acid fermenting process.
The Lactic Acid fermenting process relies on Salt for microbial infection control rather that heat with the Acetic Acid cooking process.  There are other foods that you can add to the Sour Pickles while they are fermenting that can assist in microbial infection control, and also add flavor to the Sour Pickles.  Above I am removing the paper from Garlic cloves, and giving them a bit of a mash at the same time by hitting them with the heel of my hand.  The paper comes right off and the Garlic is a little broken, which allows its juices to flow into the Sour Pickles.
Some of the fermented foods I have made lately have been way too Garlicky, and Hot.  So, for these Sour Pickles I am only adding a little Garlic, mainly in its whole form, and two whole Cayenne Chiles.  Typically Dill gets added to Sour Pickles, but I didn't grow Dill this year, but I have an abundance of Rosemary.  So, I'll add a couple sprigs of Rosemary to the Sour Pickles as well.
When we are using the Lactic Acid Fermenting process we don't need to be as paranoid about germs, and sterilization as in the Acetic Acid Cooking process.  With the Lactic Acid Fermenting process we are using Salt to control microbial infection.  The Lactobacillus Bacilli can work in a high Salt environment, while most of the harmful microbes are killed in the high Salt content environment.  This allows the natural plant enzymes to survive the pickling process, travel into your body to augment your immune system, and digestive process.  The Acetic Acid cooking process literally kills all of the microbial life in the Pickles, which does make the Pickle sterile (safe to eat), but also destroys all the health benefits of the food, and all that is left is flavored fiber with no nutritional content.  No wonder they upset my stomach...
Earlier I made six cups of brine and allowed it to cool down to room temperature before using it to fill the Sour Pickle bottle.  These Garlic Rosemary Sour Pickles are half sour.  The sour factor in Sour Pickles refers to the salinity of the brine.  Full Sour Pickles have a brine that is about ten percent salinity, or ten percent Salt to ninety percent Water.  These are roughly half sour, and I made a five percent salinity solution, or five percent Salt to ninety five percent Water.
While I was at it I made a jar of Sauerkraut as well.  Its pretty much the same Lactic Acid fermentation process, it just comes together in a different way.  As with the Pickles, I have found that Sauerkraut that has been pasteurized, cooked, like in a can, will make me sick.  While Sauerkraut that has been made in a Lactic Acid fermentation process make my tummy happy.  Again the Lactic Acid fermentation process takes forever compared to the Acetic Acid cooking process, but the health benefits are awesome, and the way it makes me feel is well worth the wait.  Naturally fermented foods are the gateway to superlative health...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Independence Day Nom Noms

Damn its hot outside...

Might as well go stand by an open fire to cook meat, LOLz.  The meat market had Brisket on sale, and I was craving the beefz.  My standard rub is Tony Chachere's and Black Pepper.  I looked for a Brisket Rub, but they all have sugar in them, and I just don't like sweet meat.  Meat is supposed to be savory.  So I setup the smoker to go at the lowest temperature possible.  This is an 11 pound Brisket, and low and slow is the rule.
Its almost too big to fit in the smoker.  This is gonna be in the smoker for a long time.  Iz go eat some taquitos, and take a nap while it is getting happy.  About four hours later I took the brisket and transferred it to a slow oven, about 225 degrees.  It will hang out in there for another long time, four hours.  So, at about 8 PM, I start thinking about what would go with this Brisket.  Macaroni and Cheeze pops into my mind.
To make Macaroni and Cheeze we need to start with a Roux.  This one is special, so rather than starting with a regular Bechemel I'm using a Bacon fat Bechemel.  Then I'll proportion the Bechemel to the amount of fat that is rendered to one pan of Bacon.  So, at this point I'm making Bacon Macaroni and Cheeze.
 Then I get to thinking why limit the flavor to Bacon, and added Garlic, Onion, and Red Chile.  I've made Jalapeno Bacon Macaroni and Cheeze before, so now its Red Chile Bacon Macaroni and Cheeze.
Add all of the flavoring to the Pork Fat along with some Sea Salt and Black Pepper, and fry until the vegetables soften.  In the meantime here I am cooking the Elbow Pasta, shredding some extra Sharp Cheddar Cheeze, and heating a cup of Milk to close to boiling.
 Now come the Roux.  I added 3 teaspoons of flour to the mixture to form the Roux, and stir it in well.  Let the flour fry for a few minutes to brown.  Then assemble all the ingredients that remain in close proximity.
This comes together quick at the end, so it helps to have all the stuff in close proximity.  First we'll add the hot Milk to the mixture, and whisk it together thoroughly.
The trick to a creamy Mornay Sauce (Cheeze Sauce) is the Milk to Flour Ratio, which is one cup of milk to three teaspoons of flour.  When you go to thin a Mornay Sauce DO NOT add Milk.  This adds more milk protein to the mix and makes the Mornay Sauce seize up.  To thin a Mornay Sauce use water, or something that has a small amount of alcohol in it like white Wine, or I use Ale.  Next I'll add the Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheeze.

Again, mix in the Cheeze thoroughly.  At this point it is starting to look like it should, a thick creamy, Mornay Sauce.  I'll chop the remaining Bacon, and add it to the mixture also.  There we're only four strips left at this point.  Its impossible for me to cook Bacon, and not eat it immediately.  Then finally pour the Mornay Sauce into the pan with the cooked Elbow Macaroni.
 OK, the Red Chile Macaroni and Cheeze is ready, lets go retrieve the Brisket, which at this point has been cooking about 9 hours.  The kitchen smells like Hickory smoked beefz, and Iz way too hungry now.
I pulled of the point first and sliced it all across the grain.  Its very smoky, and there is a bright red smoke ring around the perimeter of the meat that was exposed to the smoke.  I'll carve off the fat sections before slicing the meat.  When cut across the grain, and very thin its extremely tender.  Both Harley and Dusty are in the kitchen now, and not even paying attention to each other, rather they are fixated on the cutting board.
Good barbeque doesn't need sauce.  There should be a moderate amount of marbling in the meat which melts and gives it some moisture.  The rub, and the smoke are the flavorings.  This is really excellent on its own, but I do like to add a little sauce if I was to put the Brisket in a sandwich.  You can see the smoke ring in the last picture which is the deep penetration of the smoke.  I'm glad that meat market ran the ad that gave me the idea to smoke a Brisket this weekend.  I'll have awesome barbeque all week long...