Archive for April, 2009

What to do with Short Ribs?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I got some beef ribs and some stuff called boiling beef that looks like ribs.  What the heck am I supposed to do with them?

Braise them and they’ll be beautiful.  Especially if you make a barbecue sauce to go on them and finish them on the grill.

First, season them.  I like a nice chili rub: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, and paprika.  Throw in a couple more kinds of pepper if you have them on hand; just adjust the toal amount of pepper used to match your idea of how spicy they ought to be.  I like to mix my spices together and taste them alone before I add them to my meat, just to make sure I like the combination of flavors.  At that point, I adjust as necessary.

So, rub your ribs with the spices and sear them quickly in a very hot cast iron skillet.  Transfer the ribs to a pan with a rack and a vary tall lip, cover them, and put them in a 250F oven for about three hours.  I repeat: make sure the pan has a tall lip–these ribs will drip a whole bunch of fat as they cook, and you don’t want it to land on the floor of your oven.

I like to save this fat when the ribs are done cooking.  You can pour it off into a mason jar and store it in your fridge.  This’ll be really good lard to saute with.  Also, if you happen to make a beef pot pie, you can use it as the fat for the pie crust to really pull the flavors of all of the layers to pull together….

As soon as you take the ribs out of the pan— deglaze the skillet with a bottle of good, dark beer.  Be quick!  You don’t want the stuff that came off the ribs to burn!  Stir with a wooden spoon to gather the fond of the bottom of the pan.  Bring the beer to a b oil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let the beer cook down.  When it’s reduced by two-thirds, whisk in some ketchup, mustard, molasses, pure maple syrup, and the spices you rubbed the beef with (minus the salt).  Whisk smooth, taste, and adjust to your liking.

Once the ribs have finished braising, slather them with the barbecue sauce you made and hit them onto a hot charcoal grill right quick to caramelize the sauce on them.  Devour with gusto (and a cloth napkin handy).

A Nice Steak Rub

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

Mix together salt, black pepper, white pepper, coffee, and habanero pepper.  Rub on steak (strip steak, tenderloin, etc.) and sear quickly on each side in a hot cast iron grill pan.  Once grill marks have been hatched into each side, turn off heat and cover pan.  Let sit 2-3 minutes.  Flip steak, recover and let sit an additional 2-3 minutes.  Serve medium rare.

Just A Quick Thought

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

A well prepared meal is quite possibly the most pleasurable experience that can legally be sold.

Omgits! (Pulled Lamb Barbecue)

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Omgits (pronounced \äm-gits\) is a traditional Callipygian lamb preparation that involves a slow, careful braising process that yields some of the tenderest, most flavorful meat you could ever ask for.

Just kidding.  Not about how good the meat tastes, but about where the name comes from.  Really, the name omgits just comes from the reaction I had when I first tasted the result (”Oh my god, it’s the sh*t!”).  But as delicious as the final result is, this lamb ought to be traditional something.  So, next time you happen upon a couple of lamb shoulder roasts, pick them up and make this dish a tradition in your family.

In the recipe that follows, all measurements are approximate.  If you want it spicier, add more pepper.  If you want it milder, use less.  But, I recommend using the multiple forms of pepper in order to achieve a more complex flavor.

I used Pom Wonderful brand pomegranate juice, mainly because they found my blog and sent me a free sample of their juice in the hopes that I would write about it (they were right).  I haven’t tested their juice against other brands in terms of the results you might expect–but this recipe does require 100% pomegranate juice, not a juice blend.  Pom Wonderful claims in their promotional literature that some other brands of pomegranate juice are not pure juice even though they claim to be—so let the buyer beware.

Additionally, I used Penzey’s brand crystallized ginger.  I have tested multiple brands of crystallized ginger and have found a wide range of quality between different brands.  Penzey’s has been my favorite and I reccommend it.

Please note: lamb shoulders are small.  Anticipate that this recipe will yield about 2 cups of finished meat.  It won’t be a main course, but it makes an excellent side dish or an amuse-bouche that can’t be beat!

Without further ado, the recipe:


  • 2 tablespoons whole black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole green pepper
  • 2 teaspoons whole coriander
  • 2 teaspoons whole Chinese Schezuan pepper
  • 1 teaspoon whole fenugreek
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped finely
  • 16 ounces 100% pomegranate juice
  • 2 lamb shoulder roasts

Combine all whole spices and grind in spice grinder to medium-fine consistency.  Combine with ground spices and chopped crystallized ginger.  Rub most of the spice rub onto the lamb shoulders, reserving about 2 tablespoons.

Heat a cast iron pan that is large enough to comfortably accomodate both roasts and has a tight-fitting lid.  Sear the roasts in hot oil in the hot pan.  When all sides of the roast have been browned, pour off any excess fat, cover the shoulders in the hot pan, and put them into a 250 F oven for about 3 hours.

Meanwhile, combine reserved spice rub with pomegranate juice.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until greatly reduced (should coat back of a spoon).

When the lamb has finsihed braising, pour the accumulated juices in with the reduced pomegranante juice and let simmer for about 15 minutes until reduced slightly.

Put lamb meat in refrigerator, uncovered, until cooled to the point that you can handle it comfortably.  Pick all meat off of bones, discarding fat.

Combine shredded meat and pomegranate-lamb sauce.  Let cool, uncovered, in refrigerator.  When cool, cover, and let sit overnight or longer to allow flavors to mingle.

To heat for service, bring to a simmer in a saucepan and let simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Serve immediately to rave reviews from your friends and/or family.

Take Me Out To A Ballgame

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Hey, Pittsburghers!  Pirates season is starting soon (the home opener is on April 13).  With the same team on the field as last year, I don’t think anyone really has expectations for better results than the bucs have been posting for the past fifteen seasons—but there’s a silver lining to that cloud of losering that hovers over our beloved hometown team: according to CNBC, the Pirates offer the lowest beer prices in the major leagues.

Not that anyone should interpret that as meaning ‘inexpensive;’ a 21-ounce beer (from a major brewery) will cost $4.75—almost $0.25 per ounce.  A call to the Pirates did not yield any word on what a beer from Penn Brewery will be going for at the park this season.

But, take heart—outfield grandstand seats are still just $9 a ticket, and, according to PNC Park policy, “Guests are permitted to bring bottled water and food that may fit into a 16″ X 16″ X 8″ soft-sided bag. Water bottles should not exceed 24 ounces in size, and must be clear, plastic, sealed and disposable.”–so except for a couple of beers, once you’re in the park, a fan on a budget need not purchase any other concessions to enjoy a meal at the game.

I recommend roasted vegetable salsa and a bag of tortilla chips as a tasty way to enjoy some nachos.

Or make some pulled pork barbecue (season, sear, and cook a pork shoulder at 300 F in a cast iron dutch oven for 3-4 hours, shred it, and toss with your favorite barbecue sauce) and pack the meat, cole slaw, and buns in separate containers to assemble your own barbecue sandwiches at your seat.

I’m not a big fan of luke-warm or cold- dogs; (in fact the only way I can really enjoy a hot dog is by smothering it with so much mustard that’s all that I taste), so packing frankfurters into the park doesn’t really make much sense.   But thinly sliced hot sopresatta would be a great ballpark snack.

If you’re looking for something a little more healthful, summer is a great time to enjoy a salad made with local greens.  Pine nuts, crumbled blue cheese, and a mix of dried cranberries and montmorency cherries creates a blend that goes great with a spritz of fresh lemon juice—thereby eliminating the need to carry a bottle of salad dressing or to wilt your lettuce by dressing it ahead of time—just cut a couple wedges of lemons and put them in the same container as the salad.

Cookies always make a great portable dessert.  And nothing makes you friends faster than passing around a tin of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  Unless it’s passing around a tin of homemade chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips—now there’s a tasty confection!  Plus, having at least one component of the meal that you can share will help alleviate the dirty looks you’ll get from your neighbors who are shelling out hard cash for food that’s not as good as what you packed in.

Tell you what—you buy the tickets (make sure you get one for Aurora, too—I’m sure she’d want to come) and I’ll make the food.  If you really want a game day feast, I recommend getting something in sections 9-13.  I’d cook a nice meal for tickets like that.