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"Impurities" in bone broth

So it seems:

While I'm busting up on the Miracle Health Cure-ness of the silly thing, I'll again say if this trend makes people cook stock at home instead of buying the nastier, saltier stuff that comes in a can or box or jar, call it whatever you want. I'm all for it, on culinary grounds, if not necessarily health.

"Impurities" in bone broth

So there is.

Here's the abstract:

Jan 21, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

"Impurities" in bone broth

Huh. It's fascinating stuff. And to be clear, this most certainly isn't a critique on you or your post- just a healthy amount of skepticism about a new food trend.

After a brief consult with Librarian Google, there's not much scientific literature on the subject. Lots of magazine articles and Paleo Gurus touting the benefits, but little lab analysis.

One published, peer-review study I did find was from the Biochemical and Children's Department at King's College Hospital in London, which seemed to suggest it's not that big a deal:

Look, what irritates me, in fairness, isn't the trendiness, the timeliness, or anything really else about the thing. I make stock all the time. It's wonderful. Call it stock, bone broth, magical mexican jumping bean potion, whatever. If it means that people are making and eating better food at home, how can you not be for it? I certainly am.

What bothers me is when the Food Gurus come around, touting a new product, new method, new system, based on sketchy science while hucking their own miracle services to help lose weight, beat cancer, grow hair back, have better stamina in bed, and one of a zillion non-scientifically provable things.

Cooking food is a science as well as an art. If you're going to promote health benefits of something (i.e.: indulge in a science-based justification), there should be a corresponding science-based body of evidence to back it up, ethically published and capable of being peer-reviewed for veracity.

Apologies for taking the post on a tangent- "food science", as opposed to proper food science, is a pet peeve of mine.

"Impurities" in bone broth

"Better nutritional value".

Not to shoot the messenger (honestly), but who says a 24-72 hour simmer extracts more minerals and provides better nutritional value? Is it some celebrity or magazine or is it a food scientists/nutritionist who's saying it?

I'd be interested in seeing a food analysis of plain old stock (i.e.: a "shorter" cook, even though it may be substantial) versus a 1-3 day cook. Intuitively, there may be more benefits (greater calcium comes to mind), but I can't imagine much more.

Cue Harold McGee. :)

Jan 21, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

"Impurities" in bone broth

Thanks LGA.

You'll all forgive me, but speaking as a home cook who's been making stock for years: what a dumb trend.

Stock is awesome. Stock is easy. The most ham-fisted of clueless home cooks can make gallons of the stuff with virtually no effort. But why would you want to drink the stuff on its own when you can take a good strong chicken stock, fortify it with even more chicken and veg, and drink good strong chicken soup?? I mean, it's not as though any health benefits from good strong stock gets lost when it gets used the way it's supposed to be used, as a base for other things.

At this rate, the next trend will be Bone Broth Enriched Gravy (aka: good old fashioned Chicken Veloute), touted for ITS health benefits.

Sigh. Everything old is new again.

"Impurities" in bone broth

Uh, dumb question. What's "bone broth"?

Now, I know what stock is. I know what broth is. I know what consomme, bisque, chowder, and even what a soup is. Never heard of "bone broth".

Is "bone broth" something new, or are we just talking about stock made with bones (aka: "stock")?

Jan 21, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

making montreal smoked meat at home

Chunks: Ontario Gas & BBQ, bless them. If you've never been, you need to go. It's worth the trip. Believe me.

I don't remove the chunks, and smoke to ~180F internal.

Instacure: TBH, I haven't used Readycure in years, though it's certainly doable. Since I make a lot of sausage and dabble in charcuterie, I make an annual trip up to the Y.E.S. Group in Markham, where they have, if not literally everything, then certainly everything you can possibly think of for cured and smoked meat products- including #1 (and #2).

Traditional curing, preserving, baking, cooking classes taught by a grandmother or grandfather?

George Brown College's con-ed culinary program has charcuterie classes (I & II) that give a pretty good intro to the topic. I took I (and I'm taking II in March), and I found it an excellent class.

Don't think you're going to have much luck in finding an elderly person teaching traditional methods. Either you know someone's grandpa who learned it from his father from the Old Country, or you don't.

ISO: crustacean shells for stock

Bisque! Risotto! Anything!

So, I'm an idiot who, for health reasons (stupid health) have been a dedicated pescatarian from Monday-Friday for the last 6 months. Stupidly, I make veg stock, chicken stock, beef stock, but not fish or crustacean stock.

Fish heads and bones are easy to source- and since I live near T&T downtown, it's super convenient, but I'm looking to do something a little better and a little richer. Crustacean stock!

ISO: crustacean shells for stock

Hi all!

I'm looking for shrimp, prawn, langoustine, lobster, crab (etc.) shells for stock. Any bright ideas?

Texas Sausage - concept & recipes

This is what I'm talking about.

I would murder (likely, but not exclusively, figuratively) for a good recipe to follow on this one.

Sous vide steak safety?

Okay, either I'm dumb and should pack away my SV before I poison myself or we're getting things a little confused.

Query: what's the point of dipping the meat in 160F+ water? I mean, I get the point, because at 160F, bacteria is killed in less than a second, by why do you need to do it?

Paramount to SV cooking is consideration of the log reduction tables to make sure you don't accidentally give yourself food poisoning by not killing off all the microbial nasties that are out there. Simply, the log reduction tables say that if death is instantaneous at 160F, maybe it takes a minute at 155F, five minutes at 150F, an hour at 130F, or whathaveyou. For meat cookery, of course, provided the interior of the meat hasn't been punctured, there's no way for bacteria to actually get into the product, so we're really only concerned about surface bacterium.

If you put a thick steak in the sv for 2-3 hours at 130F, why should there be any real safety concerns (again, presuming that the meat hasn't been punctured)? While zackly didn't note how thick the steak was (and I'm going to assume a 2 lb porterhouse is pretty thick), I'm going to presume that even at 130F, there's enough heat exposure over 2-3 hours to kill off any bacteria on the thing.

If I'm wrong and it's not enough time (or it's on the borderline), I'm going to further assume that Good SeƱor Zackly isn't going to eat his beautiful porterhouse right out of the bag, but is going to sear it first, thoroughly, at temps way way way above 160F. So not only is the problem solved per the log reduction tables, but there's also a further safety assurance from the sear.

Am I crazy or does it sound about right? I'm guessing the real issues when it comes to SV and food safety isn't in the relatively quick dips, or the long dips (coincidentally, I put a 3 lb tri-tip in the water this morning, to be served tomorrow night), but in the medium-short ones, where there's not enough heat and time to get it really taken care of, but too much time to let the baddies grow.

Dec 19, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Texas Sausage - concept & recipes

That's some expensive sausage.

Leslieville pubs or other casual dinner options

Brooklyn Tavern is worth taking a peek at. They're pretty under the radar, but a few of the things on their menu are quietly awesome- like the popcorn, of which I can happily eat buckets-full of.

Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum

Went for lunch on Sunday.

First off, it's a GORGEOUS room in a GORGEOUS museum. The architecture is stunning.

Lunch was good had a mix of mezze bites and the mixed grill with sturgeon (goddamn excellent) and kefta. It was good- very good, even, but I suspect dinner would be excellent. I suspect the difference between the two is solely my own prejudices- I think of Islamic cuisine (I know- can you get any broader than "Islamic cuisine", which would, in theory, stretch from Morocco to Malaysia, neverminding the dozens of countries with strong muslim minorities) and lunch as being more of a casual affair.

God I hope they serve more Imperial dishes, as well as more common, traditional recipes.

Service was excellent; a rare treat. Prices were very reasonable. Small, but serviceable, wine and beer list!

Put this place on your list of strange, but beautiful off-the-beaten-path restaurants to treat yourself to or to surprise someone who wants to be surprised with a good restaurant choice.

BRINING!? Good, bad or ugly?

In fairness, Kenji approves of brining, but in the form of dry-brining, aka: light curing, aka: salting, aka: just putting some salt on the damn bird.

Frankly, I suspect it doesn't matter a heck of a lot whether you brine or dry-brine. Unless you're cooking up a heritage bird, the standard industrial turkey is pretty bland by anyone's standard. 99% of people will eat it with sauce, cranberry sauce, or gravy anyways, masking the actual taste and hiding whatever texture issues may come with brining (as opposed to dry-brining).

While I love a pointless debate as much as the next person, I suspect that for all practical purposes, it makes zero difference at the typical table.

Also, I never understood why They call it "dry-brining" and not "light curing" or "salting". Remind me to ask They when I see them next.

Restaurant recommendations in Toronto---Chinatown

I dream of the barbecue pork at Kom Jug Yuen. Good call.

holding, reheating, and serving barbecue

Yeah, sounds like what I ate.

Listen, I'm no traditionalist on barbecue, or most else, for that matter. Not in the slightest. I'm all about having the right tool for the right job. If steaming works, I'm for it, and nuts to what the purists say.

Whatever the hell they did to it was terrible, resulting in an inedible product. Disgusting.

Strangely delicious, however, is leftover barbecue fried up with diced onions, peppers, and potatoes, then served up with an egg or two as breakfast hash. Delicious. And what you lose out on moisture (it's day-old anyways, right?) you gain in beautiful crunchy crispy bits, to be scraped off the bottom of the pan.

Which should really be the top of the pan, when you think about it.

Sodium Citrate -- First Attempt

Beats me! One way to find out, right?

Also, I'd be loathe to neglect the issue of seasoning the sauce at the end of it.

Dec 08, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

holding, reheating, and serving barbecue

Hey hey, all!

Went to a local place a while back and it was absolutely terrible. If you can believe it, both the chopped brisket and the pulled pork were watery, of all things (over and above being absolutely terrible). Leads me to believe that either they took the meat off the smoker and braised it (my belief), or they froze and thawed it (possible), or they held it on a steam table, and the moisture leached out of the meat, and it fell back into the meat. Bleah.

Begs the question, though: what's the best way to hold, reheat, and serve product that loses its heat very quickly- like pulled pork, for example, without ruining it? To reheat, I typically dump my product on a plate, cover with a wet paper towel, and microwave gently at 50% for a minute, check it, and then add more time. Paper towel keeps moisture in; 50% power gently brings it up to temp without as much shock as at full power. Still, I'm at a bit of a loss on how to hold it, for a party, for example, without losing too much heat.


Sodium Citrate -- First Attempt

Funny enough, I made the mac & cheese this weekend with old cheddar and blue. Extraordinary.

Suggestion: test out the acid/base theory by doing it again, at maybe a quarter amount of the recipe that you used the first time, using milk instead of wine. See how it affects the taste, to test my theory that it's all about the pH levels.

Oh, also, you're seasoning the recipe to taste, yes?

Dec 08, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

curing fish other than salmon?

The effect is: overcured, oversalted, inedible. Might try soaking it a bit. Might work.


Dec 08, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

barbecue "alternate" meats

Eh. Smoke and skin, in my opinion, just don't mix. Is it doable? Sure. Is it any good? Meh.

Much rather spatchcock the bird, roast it directly at 400F for what, 40 minutes or so, meat side down, then an extra five flipped over to crisp up the skin. With a BGE (which is basically a coal-fueled convection oven), it's like magic and turns out magnificently, every time.

curing fish other than salmon?


Yesterday morning I put down some trout to cure- 1:1 sugar/salt, with flavourings, and a splash of vodka. Intention was to let it cure for 24 hours, let the pellicule develop overnight, and smoke it tomorrow.

Like a boss, I completely forgot to take it out this morning, which means it's going to overcure by a significant amount.

Here's the trick- I'm not sure if "overcuring" is a thing. My initial thought is that once the curing happens, the salt/sugar goes in, the liquids come out, and after it's lost X amount of water (i.e.: after it's cured), it can't lose any more. It reaches (this is the wrong word, but I'll use it for illustrative, if not literal purposes) a homeostasis, and should no longer be affected by the cure. Put differently, if you add salt to salt cod, nothing will happen, because it's already where it needs to be. After a certain point, it's moot.

Are my musings correct? What's the effect of overcuring fish?

Dec 05, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum

It certainly seems counter-intuitive, but it begs the question as to whether or not the theme of the place is Muslim or if it's Muslim-world.

Obviously alcohol is forbidden in a strictly halal kitchen or restaurant, but there are lots of examples of wineries, breweries, and distilleries in the Muslim world. Off the top of my head, Morocco has wineries of varying quality, and arak is a classic middle-eastern/Persian liquor. Georgia, too, has a significant Muslim population, which may or may not have nothing to do with their very decent vineyards.

I note, with interest, that I didn't see anything on the menu or restaurant pages that indicate that the food is halal-compliant. It might very well be- or it might be halal-style (in much the same way that kosher-style restos wouldn't serve meat and dairy, or pork, but isn't 100% kosher-compliant). I'd be surprised to see pork on the Diwan menu, since pork is an ingredient that, religion aside, just isn't used (predominantly) in the Muslim world. There are enough examples of alcohol, however, to make a small, select wine list potentially a viable proposition.

Best smoker for a dilletante?

Sigh. It's the time of year where I get crankier and snobbier, due to an acute need for vacation. I should've been kinder.

To my mind, I smoke (and cook) enough that investing in proper equipment is required. I stopped buying what I considered crap years ago. I don't need the finest of the finest, but if I'm going to lay out money on a product, I want it to work the way I need it to work, and I want it to last.

At a $200.00 pricepoint, who cares? Just buy it. I look at it and I wonder about heat retention of the thin walls, where it was manufactured, how long it'll last, but really, who cares? If you're dipping your toe into the pool to see if it's something you want to engage in, it's a great first step. If the smoker provides you with a couple of seasons of happiness, and does a decent enough job of smoking, then your investment is well worth it, and if it breaks down later or does a mediocre, but still credible job, who cares? For two hundred clams, you're laughing, and can later decide if you want to throw more money at the problem.

Best smoker for a dilletante?

Happy to be proven otherwise, but I think your requirements are diametrically opposed.

If you want "set it and forget it" smoking, you're talking about a pellet smoker. They're awesome. They're expensive. Two hundred bucks will buy you a good supply of pellets. That's it. I'm looking at a Memphis Grill pellet smoker. I'm getting ready to pay ~$2K CAD, for the privilege.

If you want something for <$200, you're talking about a Smokenator for your Weber, or a Big Poppa's Drum Kit, complete with vents and nozzles and fiddly bits. At that price point, there's zero heat retention on the walls of whatever you've purchased, which means you're going to have to fiddle a lot in order to keep it on even keel.

FWIW, here's my advice: until you're ready to spend some money on a proper smoker, you may want to just stick with the Weber.

Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum

Exactly that.

Since it's utterly impossible to get into Maha's without a two hour wait, Diwan looks like an elegant east-side alternative. I'm going next Sunday. Can't wait!

kosher cauliflower mash.

Kosher chicken stock would also moisten things up.

Schmaltz, I think, would be dynamite.

Dec 03, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

barbecue "alternate" meats

For likely similar reasons, I'm hearing the same things from my local Ontario butchers. Shame, in a sense (we love ourselves our brisket), but necessity, they say, is the mother of all inventions.

Excited to explore new "stuff"!