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Pizza Bianca with Leeks, Tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano

Pizza Bianca with Leeks, Tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

Yes, nothing’s finer than pizza from your own hands.  I don’t know how a dish that’s as infinitely satisfying as pizza becomes even more satisfying when you roll it out yourself, but it does.  Also, you can choose any favorite or off-beat toppings you want without having to pay $2.50 per.  The big difference in our piecraft this week was the use of our brand-new pizza peel, acquired from Chef’s.

We proceeded as follows: I overturned a half sheet pan in the oven and covered it with foil and some cornmeal.  I set the left knob to BAKE and turned the right knob past 500 to BROIL.  I want to clarify, I was not broiling anything (the top coils did not light), the BROIL setting on the temperature knob merely tells the oven controller not to turn off the main heating element ever.  My oven thermometer pegged after 15/20 minutes, indicating an internal temperature well in excess of 550 F.  I rolled out the dough onto a ton of cornmeal which I had sprinkled onto the peel.  Once it looked good, I added my toppings.  Next, I shook it back and forth to make sure the dough wasn’t sticking, then opened the oven.  I carefully pulled out the rack with the now hothothot pan and shook the dough until it slid on the pan.  I closed the oven up and cooked for 8 minutes, checking after 5.

The nice thing about the pan approach is that if you mess up, there’s no danger of pizza falling onto the heating coils; you can always manipulate the pan with an oven-mitted hand.  Just be careful and have a buddy standing by with towels and spatulas.   Buon Appetito!

Chain Steak Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw, Chick Pea Salad, Sweet Onion Relish and Aged Irish Cheddar Cheese

Chain Steak Tacos with Red Cabbage Slaw, Chick Pea Salad, Sweet Onion Relish and Aged Irish Cheddar Cheese

Greetings to one and all on this summery Monday.  A few weeks back, Elizabeth and I were lucky enough to be able to post our second PSMO odyssey on  The Kitchn.  We were thrilled by the great comments and the much love from the readers there.  Our motivation for the piece was that buying a larger cut of meat, sharing most of it at something like a cookout, then saving the rest for consumption later was a great way to stretch a modest monetary investment for culinary miles.   So here, this DIY taco set-up represents the last of the noble PSMO.

To prepare the chain, I marinated it for a few hours in soy sauce, lime juice and cumin.  then I seared it on all sides in my grill pan then I placed it into a 250 F oven until my thermometer told me it was ready, about 140 F.   I had some leftover red cabbage slaw, a staple round these parts, to go with it.  Also I felt like caramelized onions, so I divided a quick-n-easy relish that was just 1 1/2 finely chopped sweet onions and one diced jalapeno  cooked in a sauce pan on low for 25-30 minutes until all the onions got nice and golden and sweet.  The heat from the single chili was just enough to give it a warm finish and a nice compliment to the beef.  The chain meat isn’t quite as lean as flank steak, but I was surprised how roasting it in the oven cut down on he greasiness.  It’s not the *best* beef for tacos, but by way of using every last bit of PISMO, it was delightful.

Chain Steak, done well-- well-done

Chain Steak, done well-- but not well-done

A filet mignon from 5.23.09, hand cut from the tenderloin

A filet mignon from 5.23.09, hand cut from the tenderloin

(Note:  you can also read a slightly-better written version of this from our guest post on TheKitchn, which was published under our old blog name)

As advertised, a photo series documenting the dis-assembly of the formidable beef tenderloin, from vacuum packed PISMO/PSMO into about a dozen steaks.   This PSMO was $47 at the price club, but they had ones for as low as $40.  It’s helpful to note that this one was also a little fatty.  When purchasing, remember to flip the thing over and check the bottom.  It should be relatively smooth and not very fatty, unless you want fattier meat, of course.  Still, some can be a bit chewed up on the bottom, so be aware of this.

Now, my butchering skills notwithstanding, let’s get to work!

Slicing the filets

1. Remove the beast from the wrapper, pat dry with paper towels or rinse off in a sink.

Prepping the beast

Prepping the beast

2.  Feel for the easily separable membrane that holds the chain in place.  The chain is the side meat, which is generally fattier and tough than the rest of the cut.  Use fingers to pull the chain away from the main body, notice the clear membrane giving way.  Apply filleting blade when necessary.  Set aside/freeze for later.

Removing the chain

Removing the chain

3.  Remove excess fat and more importantly, the ‘silver skin’ with a sharp, flexible knife.  The aim is not to cut into the top of the meat at all, although I definitely hit it a few times here and there.  No big loss.  Keep fingers on the silver skin and use the weight of the remaining meat to pull it away while you slice through.

Taking the silverskin to town...

Taking the silverskin to town...

4.  At the end of the piece is a large section jutting off slightly from the main keel.  Remove this with a single stroke.  This becomes the chateaubriand roast.  Wrap, keep cool and save!

Removing the Chateaubriand

Removing the Chateaubriand

5.  All that should remain is a single, ovular section of meat.  Slice 1.5″ rounds off of this.  These are the filets.  Set aside on a plate until the entire section is finished.  I estimate each round can go from 4-8 oz, depending on the thickness of the PSMO you started with.

Slicing the fillet mingons...a beer is in order.

Slicing the fillet mingons...a beer is in order.

Finally, trim the steaks as needed and grill!.  On a hot grill, 5 minutes per side gave me medium doneness, I’d estimate 4 min for medium rare, but I like to grill one to start off to get a feel for the grill, the heat, etc. just to be safe.    Also remember that the little ones will finish first.  Because you’re dealing with an entire section of cow, it’s difficult to keep the steaks uniform, but do the best you can.  Remember- have fun!  Bon Appetit!

Beef Tenderloin on Foodista

Elizabeth here.  I was prompted to start a post on this after I came in from work to the most *heavenly* scent filtering through the halls, and frankly, Michael needs to tell you the secrets to a simple sauce using some canned tomatoes, some garlic, and some luck.

I try not to be a food elitist.  It’s not been an easy task, and more than once I have been (rightly) reamed out for criticizing another home-cook’s fare.  Please understand that this does not apply to the restaurant world where we pay top-dollar for food, there I’ll be as critical or nice as I like.  But the home kitchen comes with a different set of rules: homecooking is a gift given from one to another, not a service that’s been purchased.  As such, the consumer mantra does not (or should not) apply.  

How does this apply to tomatoes?  (masterfully segued!)   When it comes to the humble red sauce, I used to think there were only two options: either a lovingly dawdled-over all-day Italian grandmother-styer production or da-red-in-da-jar.  Both are great at what they’re great at- but are these my only options?  A six-hour simmer or a complete concession of creative control? 

Enter my friend Caitlin.  During junior year of college, she spent a semester in Rome.  While I’m sure she had a whole mess of enriching experiences or whatever also, she brought back this simple and amazing recipe for a tomato sauce that she claimed everyone used in Rome (if I’m wrong, feel free to tell me and I’ll send her contact information to you so you can correct her).  She also taught me about real bruschetta well before TV chefs started harping on it, but that’s a post for another day.  

To begin, take 2 cans of tomatoes (Wait! Not fresh? Actually, from what I hear, in Italy they understand that tomatoes are not good most of the year and canned are substituted.  If it’s May-July, use the fresh ones if you like.  Here’s a handy tomato converter).  Place them in a sauce pan over medium-high heat with some chopped garlic, and a good amount of salt & pepper.  And that’s it.  Allow the sauce to cook down for at least 20 minutes, but really until most of the juicy stuff has cooked off and the mixture is thickened.  If the sauce seems to be burning or sticking, turn the heat down to medium.  Really, the key is reduction.  Just take your time.  Also, you can add some red wine at the beginning of cooking if you’re into that kind of thing.  I’m into that kind of thing.

Literally, that’s it.  And it’s one of the test tomato sauces I’ve ever had.  It comes together fast with a minimum of trouble and it goes with just about anything.  Surprisingly, it lacks that super-acidic twang of many quick sauces (which can be counteracted with grated carrot, by the way).  I could go on at length about the pristine majesty of simplistic cuisine and the joy of deconvoluting your cooking, but I’ll save that for another time. Until next time,  Ciao.

Simple Sauce reducing...

Simple Tomato Sauce reducing...

 

A key pantry staple.  For serious.

A key pantry staple. For serious.

Taking the beef tenderloin to task

Taking the beef tenderloin to task

 

I bought a PISMO (PSMO) two summers ago for a cookout. The PISMO is meat-speak for the entire tenderloin of beef, vacuum packed (Peeled, Side Meat On) straight to you from K.C. or Saint Louie or wherever. As a rule, I don’t eat a lot of beef, so when I do, I try to make it special.

Naturally, the Good Eats episodes Tender is the Loin I & II inspired me to play fantasy butcher for a day (for whatever reason, the idea of being a butcher entices me). The whole affair was a $45 purchase and I managed to get about 8 1″+ thick filet mignons out of it. This also left me with lots of leftovers, a nice chateau briand for me and the Mrs. as well as some chain meat.

I hadn’t seen the recipe recently and after failing to find it on youtube, I winged it. I removed all the sliverskin and excess fat with a paring knife and then sliced the filets from the main section of the loin (in the photo it’s to the far-left of the board, closest to the mountain of hamburger rolls). I used a propane grill on medium-high to sear them, about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, AKA the only way to eat a steak. It wasn’t my grill, so I cooked a test steak first to see how the combination of time and temp would play out in the meat. Everything was very much off the cusp, but my daring must had paid off, as everyone seemed to enjoy their steaks.

Since then I have found Good Eats Fan Page, which lovingly reproduces the transcripts from EVERY delicious episode. It is an *invaluable* resource. The food network site is good, but even the GE recipes get a bit vague, usually at the most critical times. This site repeats every single word of food Gospel from AB’s mouth and provides the link to the official FN recipe for good measure. Once loaded, follow the top left as a red link to the episode list, so just search for the title and follow the links to the transcript.

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