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West Des Moines / Des Moines, IA - where to buy pork belly?

I'm looking for a place to buy pork belly. I live in Clive/WDM but I'll go anywhere in the area. I'm probably going to scour east asian markets but I thought that with pork being so popular here that someone might know of a definitive source. I've historically been able to find it for about ~$2.90 at asian markets in other major cities.

Aug 16, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Great Plains

Comparable SS Alternatives to All Clad at BB&B

I like my emerilware tri-ply skillet by all clad. It is tri-ply, made by all-clad, and I liked the handle just as much as the all clad SS handle for the 10" skillet. (from what I remember it's quite similar but at a less extreme angle than the all-clad SS) I bought it at BB+B, though they may be discontinued. They had a whole set also. If you want to look at it make sure that it is emerilware tri-ply - there is an inferior set of emerilware cookware that isn't tri-ply. It performs great.

You can also get tramonita tri-ply at wal mart (might be branded as BHG better homes and gardens), calphalon tri ply at BB&B, etc. Even IKEA has a line of tri ply pans. I mentioned my emerilware because it's made by all-clad and the handle really is quite nice IMO. It's cast aluminum (the handle) also so it doesn't really get hot that fast. It's also not thin like a rod if you don't like that type.

Aug 10, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Ikea cookware - "Favorit"

I like the Favorit all metal tri ply pans, the 365+ pots, and the $9.99 cast iron pan they have. Some of their dutch ovens look nice also. The thing about Ikea is that quality can vary by line. It is generally fairly easy to tell which pieces are quality and which aren't.

Apr 10, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Roasted chicken

Your method seems somewhat similar to what I do, though I sometimes remove the breasts for later use and actually cut out the breast + breastbone and leave the spine in tact. I try to get chickens under 3.8 lbs. I do start them off on the stovetop skin side down though, after a few min on the stovetop I flip the bird THEN slide it in my hot oven until done. Works great with a cast iron, carbon steel or SS tri ply pan.

The reason your whole foods birds taste better has to do with the air chilling. I find that free range birds that have been water chilled don't taste as good as air chilled birds, and I have a sneaking suspicion that a non-free range air chilled bird will also be rather yummy. Nothing like a ~3.5lb bell and evans air chilled chicken cooked in an oven under high heat.....yum.

Mar 26, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

Lasagna...with ketchup?

not sure what I'd do if I made a lasagne bolognese and someone decided it would taste better with KETCHUP. I like and don't look down upon ketchup, but I'd feel like I should have made an easier lasagne. I wouldn't be quite as insulted if someone did this to, say, chili or a quick american style lasagne

Feb 19, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

Cheap Wine that Doesn't Suck

El Coto Rioja was good (I've had the 08 vintage...) I'd gotten it from PA Gov't Alcohol Commissaries for about 12. I've also been able to generally find something on sale/clearance and had some hits and some misses. The $4 Malbec from Aldi is also decent, I cook and drink it.

You may or may not like the Little Penguin Shiraz, also available at PA Gov't Commissaries for cheap consistently. Sometimes on sale for dirt cheap. Generally though I'd do what I do when in those stores and just find stuff on sale/clearance and take a shot. If I went in and saw an Argentinian malbec on deep discount I'd generally try it or something else that could be a hit. If you are really paranoid you could even whip out a smartphone and get some reviews. I used to go to one of these stores regularly so I remember how certain bottles would go on sale/clearance. Best of luck. Also they seem to have some signature stores, make sure to try regular and the higher end stores.

Feb 17, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Wine

Losing faith in cast iron cookware

Even after needing to clean my cast iron pan, I get perfect scrambled eggs if I heat it dry (after having cleaned it...no soap of course..) turn the heat down a little after it is dry, then hit it with butter.

Soon as the butter is melted and spread around in the pan I put in the beaten eggs, immediately scramble until cooked and then remove. When I do this I couldn't get the eggs to stick if I tried. I've even burnt on cheese and been able to peel it off.

This technique (preheat then lower heat to desired level before cooking) works for scrambling eggs on stainless tri ply pans also. I've noticed that some tend to turn on the flame and immediately add fat and eggs - this is a bad idea for stainless and a horrible idea for newish cast iron.

Also, FWIW, you could make a perfect steak on a nonstick pan - however you'd exceed the manufacturer's recommended heat level in the process :D

Feb 11, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

All-Clad Stainless vs Cuisinart Multiclad Pro

You can get Tramonita or BHG tri ply at wal mart, or calphalon tri ply at BB+B, and still have a pan that performs on par with all clad. They charge more because they are made in Canonsburg and because "the market" will pay more for them (the SS). I suspect that the d5 came out at least partially because there was less and less reason to get all clad SS with the competition.

Personally I wouldn't really consider paying retail for all clad SS with the alternatives. I'd want to feel like I was getting something for the extra money - at least with their d5, copper, etc you are getting something a bit different.

Oh, and FWIW, I got All Clad's Emerilware tri-ply skillet. It's "made by all clad" but made in china and not in the US. I liked the handle better than the AC handles in BB+B, and it really is top quality. Avoid the non tri-ply emerilware.

Feb 11, 2011
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Le Creuset White enamel - EGGS STICKING!

I'd maybe look into using an oil atomizer as an alternative to pam, and maybe fill it with half olive half canola or soybean oil. I'm not a fan of the propellants in pam....or even use clarified butter. Glad you found a solution though.

Dec 14, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Le Creuset White enamel - EGGS STICKING!

heh me either, I like bare cast iron for my eggs! Usually works fine if it has been preheated and fat is present (less well seasoned ones may require more fat though)

Dec 14, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Which knife do I go with?

tojiro on sale or a dexter-russell or a victorinox for chef/gyuto, then a bunch of Kiwi knives, and a cheap offset serrated bread knife if you don't have one

honestly people debate and argue over this stuff constantly, I'd try not to get caught up with it all - then again what is more important then your knife? :)

you can even get a VG-10 steel knife at Ikea for not too much....I'm not sure who makes it but it looks quite similar to another famous brand VG-10 chefs knife, not sure how good it is though

I kinda want a sabatier carbon steel chefs knife.

Dec 11, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

how to cook 10lbs of pork shoulder?

A barbeque pork rib rub with brown sugar also works, you could use apple juice with some pepper if a liquid is needed, and finish with some bbq sauce. You could even cut it up like those "country style" rib meat that you see, or cut them into pork steaks, etc.

Dec 11, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

When do I crack open my Durian?

take it to your workplace and open it up at your desk for a mid morning snack! Make sure everyone gets a taste.

Dec 09, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in General Topics

Recommendation for upscale Pittsburgh restaurant

I like Nine on Nine. I even got the mussels there once, they were good! No illness! :)

-----
Nine on Nine
900 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Dec 08, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Pennsylvania

Trader Joes Wine Picks - Under $8

Aldi also has some cheaper wines, might be worth a look. I've gotten the $4 malbec and was surprised. It isn't super-duper, but it's miles ahead of anything else I've tried in that range. Apparently from mendoza.

Dec 08, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Wine

Induction cookware - Any light weight quality cookware?

I would personally look into the Ikea Favorit line of tri-ply stainless cookware (they have some cast iron pieces in the same line, avoid those! lol)

Those are some of the lighter tri-ply pans I've seen. The "Giada" tri-ply at target are also thin-ish but not sure how light they are. Lighter then all clad though I think.

Also try cast aluminum induction capable pans, though I'm not sure how light they are. May fit the bill.

Dec 08, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

ARE THERE COUNTERFEIT ALL-CLAD PRODUCTS OUT THERE?

Makes you wonder though, what if they had gotten the weight right? :( I mean you'd think they'd buy one authentic one and at least have them weigh and balance the same. Not that I want them to get better at it heh...

btw amazon has a 10" all clad SS with domed lid for around 70 bucks as of this morning. I'm happy with my pro-clad :D plus I'm pretty sure no one has faked them :)

Dec 08, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Aldi

Aldi is one of those places where you get specific stuff. It's not immediately obvious why one would ever want to visit an aldi at first glance.

However:

The chocolate is good quality and cheap. The eggs, in my experience, are good and VERY cheap (almost if not just as good as the land o lakes eggs I usually get). The milk here is 1.99 a gallon, and it's 3.49 a gallon at other stores here. Even wal mart's milk is over 3.40 here. The Yukon Gold potatoes are cheap also, and they have half gallons of imported frozen gelato. I haven't tried it yet but it looks good. Also, the $4 malbec is drinkable (toca diamonte) and I just used it as both a bev and in a buerre rouge for a t-bone steak. (no, really, I've got my empty tri-ply skillet, the bottle and an empty plate right here!)

On the other hand, the fresh squeezed orange juice isn't as good as at other stores IMO - but it's almost as cheap as the from-concentrate juices at most groceries. I've only ever tried it once though, usually I get simply orange, tropicana, or "florida's natural".

So yeah, aldi is really good for some things, but not so good for others. If you're buying non-organic milk and run of the mill eggs there is probably no cheaper place to get the stuff. I don't *need* to save 1.49 for every gallon of milk I buy, but after seeing the milk at aldi I have a really hard time buying it at the "regular" stores for 3.49 a gallon. Just seems silly.

I'd probably not buy the meats or poultry there....but I doubt that it would kill you or anything :)

edit: I also saw a really cheap roasting pan, and a really cheap set of 2 glass "anchor" pie pans at aldi......and a nintendo "Wii" set complete with the Wii. lol

Dec 07, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Chains

ALDI Food Products Country of Origin

I'm sure that 95% of people here fairly regularly eat chinese garlic, wonder how those unaware would react.

Dec 07, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Chains

Free Range Birds - very disappointed

The best quality chicken I've ever cooked with is a Bell & Evans air-chilled bird @ $2-3/lb in terms of taste. I like them under 3.5lb and roasted under high heat, usually butterflied and sauted then put in the oven. Zuni cafe recipe is a great option (but certainly not the only one). I recommend looking for an air-chilled bird, free-range or not.

Dec 07, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in General Topics

Why does chicken smell like bleach these days?

Well epc et al., I also have noticed this with mass market birds. Generally speaking if it is packaged in frozen liquid I try to avoid, and I try to get air chilled. Air chilled, IMO, are better. I like to use Bell & Evans and whole foods ones since they are available at a decent price in PA. Hopefully one day you'd be able to get an air chilled bird for .90 cents / lb like the supermarket birds, but w/e.

It seems that the chlorine bath is the culprit here (naturally). I have been cooking with supermarket birds for past weeks as I am far far away from home and was curious (and lazy), and yeah it's got this eerie chlorine tinged smell when defrosted. I've still gotten good results though.

Mitigation

If you have to use one of these chlorine logged birdies, I suggest getting one that is between 2.75-3.75 lb (seems to be a good fat/meat ratio for roasting) and using a sort of dry brine like the zuni cafe method seems to like. This should help. I usually do 12-36 hours in the fridge, but if you can the recipe's longer interval works great! Doing this has held me over, plus I can take advantage of those absurd market sales on whole chickens that these chlorine birds often have (.75 cents/lb for a 3lb bird? good for trying out new recipes)

Dec 04, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in General Topics

Are there any GOOD CHEAP (electric) espresso machines ?

search for "Gaggia Baby" on ebay

if the ones on ebay are too much you can maybe search for a la pavoni lever machine on ebay (manual)

then again its probably best to stick with and perfect the moka pot, save up, and keep searching on ebay for a good deal on a machine like the Gaggia Baby

Nov 30, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

need help with cookware set up on a budget

Listen to me, I'm a grad student! We are the ultimate budget fiends.

Sets are <<generally>> evil. True for knives, true for pots/pans. Exceptions do exist, such as the smaller tri ply sets, but until someone sells a set with a cast iron enamel dutch oven, tri ply fry pan, cast iron fry pan/saute(s), tri ply saute, aluminum stock pot, and tri ply or copper plated sauce pans I won't be getting a set larger than 7 or 8 pieces.

The tramonita set from wal mart that Chemicalkinetics listed is good, and certainly a good deal. You can, however, get even cheaper if you are willing to hunt a bit. Ordering that set, however, would be a great choice and they would probably last just about forever with proper care. If you are really on a budget (or just like to save money just to save it!) See below.

You can go to ikea look at on the "Ikea Favorit" tri-ply series of sauce pan(s), or get an Ikea 365+ sauce pan(s) that aren't tri ply. Both are high quality. They have other options, but the other options are generally crap. I also like the favorit tri-ply saute pan. These are quality tri-ply pieces. You can do the same at a Wal-Mart with tramonita tri-ply, however they recently stopped selling these and now sell "made by tramonita" better homes and garden tri ply.

You can walk into a bed bath and beyond and see if they will sell you a display model. I've gotten a tri-ply pan for dirt cheap by doing this and using a coupon (like, less than 25 bucks for a pan that retails for about 80)

I'd eventually get a cast iron pan for eggs and meats, these are cheap at wal mart, ikea, etc. Never buy cast iron at a fancy store like williams sonoma or even macy's unless its Le Creuset, staub, etc and enameled. Right now though you probably don't want to care for a cast iron pan, but if you get addicted to cooking you'll surely want one!

I don't generally recommend non-stick, but this Ikea deal (7-piece favorit set for $99) seems like a great deal to me IF you think you want a non stick pan. It is a tri-ply set but includes (1) ns fry pan.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/pro...

otherwise I'd go with the wal mart tramonita set (or get the Ikea set and use the leftover $50 bucks to buy a tramonita 10" tri ply skillet and have enough left over for a quality steak to try it out

)

So yeah. Hope this helps a little bit. It is sort of nice that you can get tri-ply pans at wal mart and ikea that are quite similar to pieces made by All-Clad. If you get the Ikea set + tri ply fry pan + cheapo cast iron pan I think you'll be set for a good while!

Nov 18, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

What's wrong with turkey?

sure it can, with a 500 degree oven and a dry brine to help it :D though sadly if I get a supermarket chicken that is over about 3.8lbs I find that it will be flavorless unless I go out of my way to add enough herbs, spices, roots, etc to make it yummy :(

Nov 18, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in General Topics

Recommendations for an inexpensive coffeemaker for guests?

Moka pot (Bialetti makes these, among others) or french press for cred points. Cool people buy these!

Nov 14, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

Is Le Creuet worth the price?

In addition to the aformentioned, try Lodge Color and the like. You can also get a discounted Le Creuset at a store like TJ maxx and the like sometimes. Both are IMO much better options then paying retail for a le creuset...considering it is made of cheap materials anyway (enamel? ceramic? cast iron? cheap, which is why it can be replicated and sold by competitors for much less). One of those gourmet magazines has surely done a comparison that will likely confirm this. Check whatever you buy for chips/blemishes before you purchase.

Nov 14, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Cookware

More than Gourmet Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Why?

Naturally if one needs red wine sauce it is best to get some red wine and reduce it after browning the roast, maybe adding some flour+butter almost like a roux. Hell you could even add roux, though it's not really necessary as you can just reduce. The store bought sauce either used good wine and is a ripoff bc they had to process it and reduce it (extremely unlikely), used bad wine and is a ripoff, or used really bad wine and is reasonably priced.

Much better to make your roast and make your own reduction. It will probably taste better, even if you use a 3-5 dollar red from Aldi. Actually they have a malbec for 3.99 which I've used which came out ok, I doubt any store bought stuff would come close.

If you wanted to use it (for what reason I can't imagine, you don't really save much time since you have to cook the roast anyway - maybe someone gave it to you!) I'd brown the roast then add the sauce, maybe let it integrate a little bit so it gets some of the pot roast flavor. I'd avoid that stuff though, even if it is light on preservatives it could have tons of sodium, taste off, etc. The end product should be ok though, just watch for sodium content.

Nov 14, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

Best Muffin recipe I have found

after making alton brown's blueberry muffin recipe I also like to use recipes with yogurt!

Nov 11, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

spaghetti alla carbonara

...are you really going to argue with batali? go with batali's ratio. Tyler Florence is cool but not that cool!

also the first word in Rachael Ray's version is Bacon., but she does say panchetta in the recipe. Her recipe seems fine so I won't throw anything at becqui except for some love - and maybe a set of cute boots to help with the tomato storm

Nov 11, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking

What is your most amazing chicken breast recipe?

Either something like a Thai Red Curry using aroy-d paste and chaokoh coconut milk or Chicken Tikka Masala (google for vikas khanna's recipe, or any other good recipe on chowhound) or butter chicken

or

simple fried chicken, with the breasts cut up into strips like tenderloins (I like Emeril Lagasse's recipe for fried chicken with the seasoned flour)

stuffing them with parm cheese is also usually nice - with or without breading

I also like chicken breasts with just salt/pepper, maybe some cayenne, sauteed in a heavy pan so that a crust develops (and finished in the oven if necessary) - this can be very tasty if done right. Served with some rice, maybe even risotto if you want to get fancy, with a good glass of wine. A "happy meal" that isn't too unhealthy (assuming you don't have risotto, lol)

also you can make them buffalo wing style with hot sauce and butter (try to get some sort of crust on them first), you can wrap them in bacon, you can cook them in different sorts of fat (the best chicken tenderloins I've ever had were cooked in a pan that I just finished cooking a ribeye in....I cooked the ribeye in olive oil then cooked the tenderloins, got a great crust of course but something about that beefy fat made it like 10x better...no wonder mcdonalds did that to their fries

as you can see, the possibilities are endless..I even saw a video posted here where chicken breast is made into a MOUSSE for inclusion in some version of "turducken"

Nov 04, 2010
DukeOfSuffolk in Home Cooking