Sous-vide, Surgery and a bunch of time on my hands … again.

Greetings Carnivores,

I’ve been away from writing for some time now. Call it what you like, “writers block”, “lack of motivation”, “creative void”, “laziness”, I don’t know. but, … here I sit, one week into ANOTHER extensive surgical re-hab and … I’m faced with a WHOLE bunch of time on my hands.

Yep … I somehow managed to almost COMPLETELY tear my left Biceps tendon off the bone at the end of January, believe it or not … lifting a bag of firewood. You can’t make this stuff up.

I finally got to see the wonderful Orthopedic surgery team, headed by Dr. John Haverstock at the brand new Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital, and spent a couple of hours last Thursday morning having them reattach it.

Last week was pretty much a wash, dealing with the obvious pain associated with such a fun procedure. Now, … like I said … here I sit.

Ok so, enough of that … todays topic comes from my dinner inspiration, and my very mostest (I know, … not an English word) favouritest (I know … another one … don’t be a hater) kitchen toy, … (“Drum roll please”) … my Anova Sous-vide immersion cooker.

Oh and, no … I’m not being paid to endorse this product … I’m just giving you an honest product review of mine. There are MANY other brands out there to choose from.

Anova Precision Cooker Flowers

I don’t want to sound like I’m jumping on the bandwagon here because, I’m not. A LOT of folks are just now coming around to how AWESOME this method is but … truth is … till just recently, unless you were a professional chef … the rest of us Minions have been in the dark.

I’ve been playing around, using this technique for the past couple of years … as a matter of fact, I originally tried making my own Sous-vide cooker, first using, an insulated cooler then second, a crock-pot but, in both cases … I couldn’t maintain and hold the critical temperature adjustment needed for success.

Now however, I’m currently the proud owner of my second REAL Sous-vide cooker. Not because there was anything wrong with the first one I bought but, more because I was a cheapo and bought the basic one first, then … realized how awesome it was and, shelled out for the second one: the Bluetooth model.

I’ve been meaning to post about this for quite some time now and, … today is the day.

Like I said earlier, Sous-vide has been around for a very long time and is usually exclusively used by high-end restaurants but, thanks to the surging popularity of this method lately, the price has come down significantly so that now … everyone can afford one.

The term “Sous-vide” refers to “cooking under vacuum” but … that’s only a part of this magic. It’s actually a PRECISE method of cooking in a controlled environment … in this case a water bath, where you dial in your desired “doneness” (temperature) and walk away. Whatever you’re cooking can NEVER (well, … actually NEVER is not the right word here because, overcooking in a Sous Vide bath, results in mushiness). The key point here is … the item IN the bath will NEVER exceed the temperature of the vessel it’s being cooked in. There are TONS of cooking tables and time/temp guidelines on the Web … experiment for yourselves.

Here’s the real deal, AWESOME part about cooking Sous vide:

Imagine your next dinner party … Steaks, veggies, potatoes … EVERYTHING done ahead of serving time … sitting there, blissfully hanging out, waiting for you to plate, while YOU, the host, are enjoying pre-dinner cocktails with your guests!

Unless you’ve catered your party … THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

Think of it this way: let’s say you’re aiming for a nice medium rare beef steak (Rib eye for the sake of argument). The “window” you’re aiming for, for med-rare is (128-131 degrees F. for me) That “window” is extremely  hard to hit with conventional cooking methods because of inconsistencies in the cooking vessel, whether it’s a Grill, Oven or Pan, temperature fluctuations, and (click here)  carry-over cooking.

Carry-over cooking is a thing of the past with Sous-vide because the juices NEVER escaped in the first place so, there’s nothing left to do to this steak except hit it with a BLISTERING HOT, cast iron pan just before serving to give it a sweet “char” on the outside.

You don’t even need a high-end vacuum sealer … all you need are zip-lock bags and use the “air displacement” method.

I’ve already gone past my (self-imposed) post word limit for today so, … I’ll leave you with that morsel to digest.

Please check out Sous-vide cooking, Anova, Joule and Sous-vide Supreme on the net and google Sous-vide.

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

 

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Buying whole Chicken leg quarters equals BIG value.

 

Greetings Carnivores,

I LOVE chicken. Who doesn’t ??

It’s so versatile and always affordable. And like many other offerings for the dinner table these days, there are ways to make the venerable chicken even MORE affordable.

Buying the whole bird and separating it yourself is often the best way to go but, many times you’ll find Leg quarters (drum, thigh and back attached) on sale and THAT’s when I fill my freezer!

Frozen-Chicken-Leg-Quarters

Ahhh … the whole chicken leg quarter 🙂

First thing I do when I get them home is remove the back bone then, separate the drum from the thigh and lastly I bone out the thigh.

I do this because #1, I want the bones for stock and #2, I love, love, LOVE the thigh and boneless is my FAVOURITE part.

I vacuum seal the drums in meal portions then, do the same with the boneless thighs and toss them into the freezer.

Next, I break the back and thigh bones (to expose the marrow), and throw them into a roasting pan and bake them off for a good hour at 375.

When the bones come out of the oven I scrape all that roasted goodness, fat drippings and all into a pot of salted water with a couple of bay leaves, some carrots, onions and celery and bring it to a boil then simmer, covered for a good hour or more. Next, I strain it all and cool it, skim the fat and freeze the broth for soups and sauces later.

So, let’s recap:

20 Chicken Leg Quarters, backs attached $2.18/kg (0.99/lb) total spent $19.97. About a buck a leg. 🙂

Yield: 20 drums, 20 boneless thighs and 12 cups of beautiful, rich, homemade chicken stock.

20 drums at retail price of $6.49/kg, purchased separately will cost you about $22-$25.00

20 Boneless thighs at retail price of $8.49/kg, will run you about $25.00-$30.00

6 Tetra pac boxes of Chicken stock, around $12.00-$15.00

I think you see where I’m heading with this … the value of the whole chicken leg quarter and DIY can’t be overstated.

That’s it for today Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Thanks for dropping in … Oh, and by the way … you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on any of the buttons and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

Please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please like and share my posts on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

And, follow on Twitter @DougieDee

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grain … the big mystery solved (I hope)

Greetings Carnivores,

Grain.

What is it, what does it mean and, why is it important to always slice meat across, or perpendicular to it?

Well, … I guess a good place to start today, would be to have a teeny anatomy lesson.

DON’T RUN AWAY OR STOP READING … I promise I won’t bore you to death but … this stuff is VITALLY important to your end game and that is … the enjoyment your steak or roast … whatever’s on your plate really.

Muscles.

ALL muscle is meat and, ALL meat is made up of tiny bundles of muscle fibers.These muscle fibers are held together in sheaths, and every muscle in every piece of meat is designed to expand and contract to facilitate movement and support.

I promised not to bore you so I won’t get into too much more chatter re: the anatomy of a muscle but, you already know (or at least you should) that it’s important to slice ACROSS the grain and the GRAIN, in this and EVERY case, refers to those bundles of muscle fibers.

Ok, … you should also know by now that it’s REALLY important to let your meat “rest” after it’s been cooked right? For those of you who don’t, click here to read a post I wrote a while ago about resting your cooked meat.

Now that your meat has rested, and you’ve given it a chance reabsorb all those wonderfully delicious juices, you’re wondering “which way does the “grain” run?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image kindly borrowed from Canadian Living Magazine

As you can clearly see in the image above, the piece on the left has been sliced across the grain, and the one on the right has been sliced with it. Never mind the OBVIOUS “sawing” motion in the example on the left (I HATE “sawing”). With a SHARP KNIFE, … PLUNGE and pull back … PLEASE, for the love of GAWD … STOP SAWING when you carve.

Ok, … pet peeve rant over 🙂

Back to the important stuff …

The one sliced “with” the grain will be tough and chewy because you are chewing long, intact fibers, whereas the one sliced “against” (or across) the grain, the long muscle fibers have been cut into much smaller, more chew-able lengths.

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Kindly borrowed from Men’s Health Magazine

In the photo above you can clearly see the “grain” and the muscle fibers. (And … no “sawing”) 🙂

Like I said before, it doesn’t matter what kind of protein your dealing with … red meat, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, fish … EVERYTHING has muscle fibers and these muscle fibers are represented as “GRAIN”.

You know how cooked fish “flakes” apart? It flakes “with” the grain. You know how cooked chicken breasts “pull” apart in long stringy pieces? You’re pulling the muscles apart “with” the grain.

Get it now?

I hope this little diatribe has helped you to understand the importance of slicing across the grain … if not, I’d be happy to continue this discussion ’til we get it right. 🙂

I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming.  🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Huerta Los Tamarindos … what a GREAT experience!!

Greetings Carnivores,

As you know by now, I was basking in the warm sunshine of Los Cabos Mexico last week, courtesy of my Spousal equivalent’s hard work. She and her team at GFS, out hustled everyone else in her region and won a sales competition. The reward for winning? An all expense paid trip for her team and their spouses to Los Cabos Mexico, where we joined winning team members from all the other regions across the country. I think there were 44 of us in all.

One of the MANY activities we were involved with, was a trip to visit an Organic Farm/Cooking School/ Restaurant called Huerta Los Tamarindos.

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The view from the terrace looking out over the farm

It’s rather difficult to put into words just how impressive this place was and sadly, some of my photos aren’t of very good quality (hand held smart phone … my bad) so please forgive me but, I hope you get a ‘feel’ for it.

We were picked up by mini bus for a short ride out into the Mexican countryside. Turning off the highway onto a nondescript dirt road, we travelled on what looked like a dry riverbed for a few minutes.

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Our host Enrique Silva

After a short bumpy ride we arrived at Los Tamarindos, where we  were greeted graciously by the owner Enrique Silva and offered a cold glass of (non-alcoholic) Lemongrass Iced Tea … oh my, DELICIOUS!!

This outdoor setting was reminiscent of a village scene in Tuscany, complete with prep-stations all around a couple of big BBQ’s.

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Prep stations ready for volunteers

After an overview of the Certified Organic farm by Enrique, we were split up into groups for various tasks. My group went for a short walk into the fields to harvest wonderful fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Beets and Herbs, then off to our prep-stations to chop and dice. Next, we were moved to another station to learn how to make the perfect Margarita using the freshest ingredients … to say I could have stayed at THIS station all evening is a understatement :). 

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The Carnivore with Enrique Silva

When Enrique asked for a volunteer to man the grill, I happily stepped up.

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Wonderful family-style seating for a FANTASTIC meal … prepared and enjoyed by all of us.

Wine tasting/pairing was followed by dinner, served family style and consisted of baked eggplant rolls with tomato basil sauce, Los Tamarindos salad, grilled local fish, chicken and pork, grilled vegetables, house herbed flat bread and fresh pico de gallo, finished off with heirloom plantain drizzled with Oaxacan chocolate and mango jelly with cheese.

Ya … I know … you’re drooling right??

Our perfect meal was framed against the backdrop of another warm Mexican sunset, just as a full moon rose over the landscape … does it really get any better?

Click here for a link to Huerta Los Tamarindos in San Jose del Cabo. And when planning your next visit to Mexico, include a visit to this wonderful spot … you WON’T be disappointed !!

What a great experience for a crazy foodie!!

Until next time, thanks for reading and following. Please come back and comment, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ my posts through WordPress, Facebook (www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential) and Twitter (@DougieDee).  I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.

I REALLY appreciate your support.

Stay hungry Carnivores 🙂 🙂

Feeling a little Chicken ???

Greetings Carnivores,

Who doesn’t like Chicken? It’s one of the highest volume, commercially produced, affordable proteins … period. They’re always available, the price doesn’t really fluctuate seasonally like Beef, Pork and Lamb and, whether you choose Free range or Grain fed, it’s always a great value for your protein dollars. The only time it’s NOT really a bargain is when you choose to buy parts vs. the whole bird because then you’re just paying for someone else’s labour.

I know I’m not really telling you something you don’t already know here and, I mean no offence to anyone … I thought I’d just highlight a few things for you that I ALWAYS do.

I ALWAYS look for specials on Drums, Thighs, Leg quarters and Whole birds. Whenever possible, I will buy the bird whole. This to me is a no-brainer since they’re just so easy to take apart. When you find them on sale, buy 3, 4 or 5 at a time, take them all apart (or leave them whole for roasting) and freeze. When buying Whole birds, I especially love having the neck and back section, as well as the pouch of giblets (Heart, Liver and Gizzard) left over after taking them apart for making stock. If you prefer to have your Breasts boneless, it’s a piece of cake to remove the bones yourself AND don’t worry, it’s pretty hard to mess this up. Even if you leave a little meat on the bones it doesn’t matter; you’re adding to your pile of wonderful bones and skin in the stock pot. And, incidentally … I usually take the Breasts off the bone using just my thumbs … (yes, it’s just THAT easy!!).

Leg quarters are almost ALWAYS on sale somewhere and, RIDICULOUSLY cheap too!!! Keep in mind, the Leg quarters always come ‘Back attached’ but, don’t worry about that either … you can cook them any way you like with or without the ‘Back’ on. If you choose to remove it before cooking, simply flip it over, follow the bones with the blade of the knife on the inside, slip the point of your knife into the hip socket joint and remove, but remember to save the bones for your stock pot.

Nothing could be easier than making your own Chicken stock too … throw everything into a stock pot, add the Holy Trinity of aromatic vegetables (Onion, Carrot and Celery), a pinch of salt, fresh ground black pepper, a couple of Bay leaves, fresh Thyme and Sage … really, whatever you fancy. Cover with fresh cold water, bring to a boil then, simmer for a couple of hours. VIOLA !!! Skim the fat off the top, let cool and freeze for soups, stews, making Rice, Quinoa, Couscous … whatever, the sky’s the limit!!!

Chicken … is there anything easier or better??? Smoked, BBQ’d, Stewed, Roasted, Fried, Sautéed … “Honey … I have a GREAT idea for dinner”

Stay hungry Carnivores and remember to ‘like’ and ‘share’ my stuff on facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential.com and, follow me on Twitter @DougieDee

White or Dark ??? The choice is yours

Greetings Carnivores,

Have you ever wondered why domestic Chickens and Turkeys have white meat AND dark ?? I mean, why isn’t it all consistently one colour?

I remember hunting wild Geese and Ducks with my Father as a kid and wondering why the meat of these birds (breasts and legs alike) was so dark.

The answer is actually quite simply: work.

Since domestic Chickens and Turkeys are basically ‘flightless’ birds (they CAN fly but only do so in short bursts) the breast meat in both have a very low concentration of something called Myoglobin. Myoglobin delivers oxygen via the blood to the muscles, and since the legs and thighs (and neck) are all harder working than the breasts, the flesh of these muscle groups is considerably darker in colour due to an increased blood flow.

As to which one is better, I’ll leave that up to you to decide but there are pros and cons for both.

White meat is lower in fat and cholesterol, and while dark meat is slightly higher in fat content than it’s white counterpart, it is still a way healthier choice than most ‘lean’ cuts of beef or pork. Add in the benefits of essential nutrients like Iron and Zinc and as long as you don’t eat the skin, it’s a very healthy protein.

But really folks … who hasn’t wished from time to time that you could just roll on up to a KFC and buy a bucket of skin … I digress again.

Everything in moderation people … ’till next time, stay hungry.

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’ my posts on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential and follow me on Twitter @DougieDee