Sunday, December 23, 2012

Chili Verde (2)

I know I haven't been posting, in reality I haven't been doing much original cooking.  It's been a busy year in a number of ways.  However, my office decided to have a carry in over several days so I decided to do a Chili Verde.  Now I have a recipe for one that I like and has been well received in the past, but I couldn't get my favorite Chili Verde ingredient, Tomatillos.  Instead of being in the dumps over it, I decided to do a little experimenting and take a new approach.  In addition it got me posting again here :-)

So the ingredients:
  • 10 Anaheim Chiles
  • 3-4 lbs of Pork Shoulder
  • 2 Onions
  • 6 Garlic cloves 
  • 2 Tbs cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbs white pepper
  • 4 cups of Chicken Broth
I know,  a pretty light ingredient list, but I was really figuring this as a good starter and something to build on.  Once I was tasted the end result, I won't be doing much different the next time.

OK, now on to the cooking:
  • Roast the chiles on a gas flame, charring the skin.  Place the chiles in a plastic bag or a tightly covered bowl and allow to steam for about 10 minutes.  Once steamed, the skin pretty well peels right off.  So peel and seed the chiles.  Rough chop and set aside.  Note, you can used canned green chiles, but they cannot compare in flavor to roasted fresh chiles!
  • While the chiles are steaming, place the cumin seeds in a dry frying pan and roast for a couple pf minutes.  As soon as you can smell them, get them off the heat and out of the pan.  Be quick because they can burn quickly once they become fragrant.  Place in a spice grinder and reduce to a powder. 
  • Trim the pork shoulder and cut the meat into 1 in cubes.  Save the bone.  Salt and pepper the meat and then brown in batches using a little olive oil.  I used a large dutch oven.  Save the meat in a bowl to also capture any juices following the browning.
  • Rough chop the onions and saute in a little oil in the dutch over.  Scrape the bottom of the pan as the onions soften and release liquid.  This should take about 5 minutes or so.  I am not after browning as much as I am softening. 
  • Finely chop the garlic and add to the onion.  
  • Then add the cumin and white pepper.  Stir for about 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  • Add in the roasted chiles.
  • Add enough chicken broth to deglaze the pan, then add the rest of the broth.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about an hour.  The meat should be right at the stage of falling apart!
  • If it seems fatty, you can scoop the solids out with a spider and run the broth through a gravy separator.  If it seems thin, you can crank up the heat and reduce it a bit.  Your own experience will tell more than I can at this point.  
It worked well.  If it seems thin and maybe more like a soup, it goes well over rice.  I usually thicken the broth a bit through cooking rather than any thickening agents.  I like it plain!  It's not very spicy hot, which is OK once in a while.  I think I might experiment with some mixed green chiles.  But as a simple straight forward recipe., it worked surprisingly well.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Grilled Tri-Tip

Tri-tip is a great cut of beef.  It's not too expensive, and loaded with flavor.  I've fixed it a number of ways, including grilling using the direct heat method (right over the coals).  I've roasted it, braised it, cooked it in a pressure cooker.  Yesterday I grilled using the indirect method and it worked great!

Basic method is simple.  I coated it in a rub and let it sit for several hours in the fridge.  Then indirectly cooked it for about an hour with some hickory wood.  After the hour I hit it with a few things to help keep it moist and wrapped it tightly in aluminum foil and kept it in the grill for 2 hour hours.  It was terrific.

First up the rub, equal parts kosher salt, white pepper, onion powder, paprika, and brown sugar.  I used about 2 Tbs each.  Then rubbed a 2-3 lb tri-tip on all sides and wrapped tight in plastic wrap and relegated it to the fridge. 

About 4 hours before dinner, I put the meat on the counter to warm up nearer to room temp, then I set up the grill.  I use a large kettle grill, charcoal.  I started about a chimney full, about 2.5 scoops with my cut-down gallon milk jug.  I let them get well started and then split the in half to each side of the grill.  I added an aluminum pan inbetween the two piles, added a couple of pieces of hickory chunks that had been soaking in water for about an hour.  I make sure I have two smaller pieces well soaked, smaller because they slip into openings in my grill grate easily.  Then I put on the grate, let it get hot and brush it and coat with some vegetable oil.  Then I position a thermometer probe to read the temp right in the middle of the grill, just below where the food will be placed.  I half close the lower air vents and almost completely close the upper.  I am after 225-240F, no hotter or you will dry out the meat.

I put on the cover and let it get nice and smokey while watching the temp.  At the point the meat is still on the counter.  Once I am sure the grill isn't getting too hot, I put it on the meat, fat side up, right over the aluminum pan and close it quickly.  For the first half hour, I watch the temp very carefully, keeping it no higher than 240 using the upper air vents for control.  It's not a fine-tuned as a good smoker, but I don't smoke meats that often to need one.  As long as you are careful, a kettle grill works fine.

After a half hour I take the the cover off and check out the coals and the wood.  I usually have to add the reserve pieces of wood and maybe a couple of briquettes.  I also brush the surface of the meat with a little apple juice.  I like the slight carmelization you get from the sugar in the juice.  It also helps I try not to add too much charcoal because the fire can get too hot to quickly.  If that happens, I close the bottom air vents further and keep trying to regulate using the upper vents.

A couple of interesting things.  I never turn the meat.  We are cooking using the indirect method, not searing, so turning the meat isn't needed.  Plus if you put the fat layer on the bottom, it will just melt off and not tenderize and flavor the meat.

OK, after the first hour the meat has absorbed all the smoke you need.  So get a large piece of aluminum foil.  I like the heavy duty, wider than normal sheets.  Overlapping smaller sheets tends to leak.  OK, I lay it out between a couple of hot pads, this way I can create depression for the meat.  I pull it off the grill and hit it with a couple of pats of unsalted butter, about a quarter cup of brown sugar, and a quarter cup of apple juice.  Seal it up very tight and put it back on the grill.  The additional ingredients are what help keep it very moist.  In all honesty the first time I did this recipe, I did overcook it a bit, but it was still nice and juicy.

Every half hour I check the coals and keep it going, adding just a few briquettes at a time.  Again, you are looking for low and slow!

After 2 more hours, it would be ready.  Smoked tri-tip as tender and juicy as a good brisket.  Let it rest about 15 minutes and slice it across the grain into 1/4 inch slices. While it's resting, you can take the liquid from the foil packet and reduce it on the stove by about half and it makes a great sauce.  If you don't feel like doing that. get a large bowl, pour in some of the liquid from the foil packet and as you slice the meat, put it in the bowl.