biggreenmatt's Profile

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lox & gravlax - dry v. wet cure

Hi, all!

So I've been making lox for a long time now, and being of eastern European Jewish background, I make it the way that more closely matches the way I ate it as a child, and that involves a dry cure. Pack in salt, sugar, and flavourings, press to get rid of the liquids within, let cure for a day or two, and then bust out the cold smoker. The product is consistently excellent; smoky and salty and, when properly sliced thin, places among the best that I've tasted.

Out of curiosity- has anyone tried to wet cure, and then smoke salmon? You'd have to take safety steps (i.e.: cold smoke the fish in colder temps, otherwise even though the wet cure will change the pH, it may not be enough to completely discourage microbial baddies), but what would the result be like? Would it be more akin to a pickled and smoked fish product than lox or gravlax? Or would it just be more tender and less flaky than typical lox?

Any experiences? Opinions welcome.

1 day ago
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Tips from the commercial kitchen for the home kitchen

Start with One-stop online shopping for your introduction to modernist cooking.

Once you've played around enough with chefsteps, you'll know whether or not it's worth it to you to go out and buy Modernist Cuisine at Home. Thousand times more practical (and lighter) than the six-volume Modernist Cuisine, but still expensive, not a casual read, and at the price point, you want to make sure that you're ready to invest. I love it, though, and it was my intro to modernist cooking. Invaluable resource- if you're going to use it!

Tips from the commercial kitchen for the home kitchen

I'm going to take the OP's topic title literally, and point out that the topic doesn't say "restaurant kitchen" but "commercial kitchen".

My $0.02 on the topic is that everyone, and I mean everyone, should flip through or at least be passingly familiar with modernist techniques and methods. I mean, the entire point of modernist cuisine is to take what works in a commercial or even factory kitchen, and then adapt it to home use.

Never mind the expensive, intimidating steps of buying a sous vide, a smoker gun, and more transglutaminase than you know what to do with (and you can do MAGNIFICENT things with transglutaminase!)- focus on the simple, cheap things you can lay your hands on to make life easier.

Thicken a sauce with xantham gum instead of diluting your gorgeous sauce with flour from a roux. Prepare a braised dish or stock in an hour, rather than hours by using a pressure cooker. Learn what effect adding baking powder has on caramelization when you've got a beautiful piece of meat you want to fry and finish in the oven. Make simple "molecular" fruit or vegetable "caviars" by using agar agar or gelatin.

See what you can do with the simple stuff, and then get into the chemicals and devices that make modernist cooking fun and fascinating!

The point of modernist cooking is to co-opt techniques and ingredients meant for industrial and commercial kitchens, in order to make beautiful, refined, healthy food, rather than what you might get out of a box or a can or a packet. It's an excellent tool in the cook's or chef's toolbox, and we home-cooks should know a little something about it, too!

Oct 24, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

How to prepare Prime brisket

I thought the same thing for a long time. Being a purist counted for a lot of it, but more importantly, I was concerned over getting (or in point of fact, not getting) a proper bark on the brisket.

Now, however, for the reasons I set out below, I'm a fan of the crutch/cambro duo when I need to have food on the table at a certain time.

making smoked delicatessen meat at home

Here's another question. When smoking cured deli meat (beef and/or pork), what internal temps are we looking at? Non-cured texas brisket, for example, goes usually to the magic temp of 203F/~95C. What magic numbers are usual for the Usual Suspects of Cured Proteuns?

making smoked delicatessen meat at home

Given that traditional and modern takes on Eastern-European/Jewish food (sorry, I grew up with it- I can't for the life of me call it "cuisine") is trending, I think the timing's excellent to start a thread on how to make this stuff at home.

Montreal smoke meat and pastrami have been discussed at length, I think, in other threads. Let's talk about making other stuff at home.

I'm going to start the thread off with something I saw for the first time the other day- rolled beef. A kissing-cousin to pastrami and MSM, it looks like beef plate/short rib, rolled up like pancetta, cured, possibly smoked, and then served cold as a sammy. Never had it myself. Supposed to be mild in flavour, hard to find, and expensive compared to plain old brisket- which makes sense since short rib is a more expensive cut than brisket.

The article that sparked my interest on rolled beef can be found here:

Anyone know anything about its preparation? Certainly looks cured (can't imagine #1 not being used, given the colour in the picture), likely after it was rolled up. Can't imagine the rub doesn't have coriander seed and black pepper on it (I imagine it tastes more good hot-dog spice, than smoke meat spice- more "spiced" versus "piquant", if you dig the difference), and given the the fattiness of the cut, it'd likely need to be cut very thin to be good. Mildly smoked, if at all.

Keen to make this at home. Any thoughts/experiences/first hand recipes? Other ideas on deli at home also warmly appreciated!

How should I prepare a brisket?

Nope. I don't see the point.

If I'm going to drive out west, I might as well go an extra 15 minutes for the Real Thing.

Been a while. Think I need to make some.

Oct 07, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

How to prepare Prime brisket

I'll throw in my $0.02 on the utility of the crutch and the use of a faux cambro.

Brisket is fickle. Ideally, it's done when it's done- which is fine if it's just you and a buddy or two sitting around the backyard with some beers and snacks, but not fine if you're having a crowd over at a certain time, expecting to eat at a certain time. The crutch/cambro duo gives you the ability to play with time and allows for a wider window of opportunity to get things done.

The best approximation for brisket is an hour at 225F per pound, but, given that different briskets are shaped differently, that time is fluid- especially with the stall. By using the crutch, you can power through the stall, opening it up for the last hour or so to be kind to the bark- but more importantly, you speed up the cooking process. Using the crutch, I try to aim to be finished at 203F for between 1-3 hours before service. Once done, I wrap it in foil, then wrap it in towels, then throw the meat in an insulated cooler, aka: the faux cambro. While it rests, it cools very slightly but gets used to itself and will happily wait while you do other things (meet your guests, prepare other stuff, have more beers, etc.).

The crutch speeds things up while the cambro enlarges the window for hot service. Used together, you can plan your barbecue properly.

How should I prepare a brisket?

Suggestion: head to the BBQ, Smoking, and Grilling forum. There are plenty, and I mean plenty, of threads on the whys and wherefores of smoked brisket.

Not sure if there are any pastrami threads (there should be), but there's a monster thread about how to make Montreal smoke meat, pastrami's sexy, francophone cousin.

Good luck!

Oct 03, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Is there a place where can I rent a sausage stuffer?

The Kitchen Aid stuffer is terrible. Don't bother.

Can't help with a rental, but if you decide to buy, you can get a very good stuffer at Nella Cutlery- either one should have it, though you want to call ahead if you hit the Queen E store. Also, speaking from experience, spend the extra money on the vertical stuffer, not the horizontal one. Worth every penny to have gravity on your side.

food safety & murdering pathogens

I think I should clarify.

I'm not asking whether or not it's safe to eat a certain product as a result of a certain situation that may or may not exist. This is strictly a question about food science theory. And never mind the smoking and curing- it could be anything.

Put more simply: can something "bad" be made safe, if not palatable, by hitting the magic 160F internal mark?

Sep 16, 2014
biggreenmatt in General Topics

food safety & murdering pathogens

I'm renowned in my circles for asking dumb questions. Here's a dumb question.

I'd like you to imagine a pound of the nicest, most succulent, most delicious sliced Montreal smoked meat, exported from Ile Perrot, Montreal, to Toronto directly from the legend itself, Smoke Meat Pete. An absolute delicacy.

Imagine now that one's darling spouse doesn't tell me that it's here and it gets left out for, oh, say a week. It's vacuum-sealed and cured, of course, but still, there's no question that this treasure of delicacies has been left out inconspicuously, in open exposure to sunlight. The reek inside the sealed bag can only be imagined.

Conventional wisdom would be to throw that shit out. "When in doubt, throw it out!" is the rule on which I grew up when it came to food safety. Enter food science.

Assume I opened that bag and put it in a steamer on the stove- exactly the way that it should be done when it's nice and fresh. Say I steam that gorgeous, if funky meat, so as to ensure that the internal temp of the individual slice is 160F- an easy proposition. IGNORING THE FACT THAT THE TASTE WOULD LIKELY BE AFFECTED BY THE ROT, my question is this: would it be safe to eat? What about a literally rotting piece of meat? Cut off the bad bits (or not), bring it up to 160F internal and ignore the disgusting taste- safe to eat or not?

Inquiring minds, etcetera.

Freezing smoked brisket? Can I? And how?

Absolutely can- I've done it myself on more than a few occasions.

The best bet would be a vacuum sealer (worth the small investment), but next best would be sealing them in ziploc bags after giving it the water displacement treatment. Easy and effective.

Organizing My BBQ Supplies and Cooking Area

Mine too, with the exception that I treated myself to a 4' wide stainless steel worktable from my local restaurant supply store. It replaced the wobbly, not-weatherproof-in-the-slightest Ikea table this year. Bins underneath; covered garbage can of lump right next door.

Maybe it means something that men across the planet tend to treat their barbecue space the same way...

The In and The Out Burger in the Toronto

Yeah, I don't get this.

Why would anyone line up for hours to get an inferior version of Priest?

Orange Flower Water and Rose Water-How do you like to cook with these?


This is a regular staple on my brunch table. Thinly-sliced navel oranges sprinkled with orange blossom water and cinnamon (I don't bother with sugar). No matter how many I make, they always get snarfed down.

Seriously, if you're reading this and you happen to have a bottle of orange blossom water, it's something you desperately need to try. You'll boggle.

Sep 05, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Danforth Pizza House for sale

Sure. IIRC, the entire building, including the business, was up for sale. Given my understanding that the building and business was sold to friends of the family, I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if "an arrangement" was arrived at between Angelo's family and the current owners.

Danforth Pizza House for sale

It's because, I suspect, they now own the building. There's no lease or rent to be paid- plus, as a family business, their labour costs, at least for now, are probably low.

Smoking my first brisket

Eh, take it with a grain of salt.

Yes, I wish I had easy, cheap access to wagyu briskets that competition champs regularly use to make top-tier brisket. No, that's not how it's done in the South.

I mean, think about it. It's a "cuisine" (ha ha) that grew out of the necessity of not having a kitchen and not having access to anything resembling decent cuts of meat. The point (god I love point) is to take something gnarly, tough, and mean, and turn it into something blissfully tender, sweet, and kind. Once you get the technique down (and I've ruined the better part of a half-dozen briskets in the learning process), I can't imagine that you can't make something beautiful out of Costco meat in a pinch!

Big Green Egg? Is it worth it?

Well, in the worst case scenario, you can always try making your own BGE.


Pressure cooked stocks vs sous vide stocks?

Excellent points by takadi and cowboyardee, with which I agree and need not repeat.

To add to their excellent input, I can't imagine any circumstances where I'd use my SV for making stock. I use my gigantic 20L canning pot to make huge batches of stock when I have time and want to fill up my freezer, and I use my pressure cooker if I'm out or need some different kind of stock that I don't stock (pun intended) in my freezer and need on short notice. The low capacity and long time required to cook it sous vide makes it, to my mind, an impractical option when it comes to stock.

Sep 02, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

ISO, Kamado grill recipes & techniques

Danforth Pizza House for sale

You can also specify that you want it "well done" or with extra burnt cheese. The nice family who's taken it over are only too happy to oblige.

What's the differences between BBQ sauces...

One stop shopping for taxonomies of all of the major American barbecue sauce styles:

Also, the website is an amazing repository for barbecue information, tips, and advice. Worth checking out.

Green Egg

I own a large BGE, with accessories, that I'm likely getting rid of within the month or so. 3 yrs old, in perfect working condition- getting rid of it to make room for a Primo XL, which is more in line with what it turns out I need.

If you're interested, set out an email where I can get hold of you and I'll give you dibs when I look to get rid of it.

HAMBURGERS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month for August 2014

Sous-vide burger!!! Love sous-vide burgers!!!

I make a sous-vide burger as well; home-ground short rib, salt and pepper. Utterly beautiful, especially when cooked to 123F and it comes out all reddy-pink and dripping juice. If someone's squeamish or concerned, I'll throw the unground meat into a pot of boiling water for about 20 seconds to murder any pathogens that might be lurking on the surface, but otherwise, I just jam it in.

Only issue, which you mention, is searing it up after. I've put in an order for a Searzall, but it's now two months late in shipping. If it ever gets off the ground and, y'know, shipped, it'll be a gamechanger for SV work.

Aug 22, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Sous vide to reheat BBQ?

Ah, but there's the difference- traditional Texas brisket is unsauced. Also: the SV's awesome. :)

HAMBURGERS! Home Cooking Dish of the Month for August 2014

Adore burgers.

My version is made of hand-ground short rib, about 1/3rd lb, salt and pepper only, grilled to 135F internal, served on toasted white bread (strictly a vehicle) with old cheddar and mustard. Pickle on the side.

Classic. Beautiful.

Sous vide to reheat BBQ?

Interesting thread!

Made some beautiful texas brisket a week or two ago; ate lots, froze the rest in roughly 1/2 lb amounts, packed fairly flat into vac-sealed bags.

I'm guessing that per bag, it should go from freezer to completely heated up at about, what, 30 mins at 150F? Only occurred to me today that the SV might be the best reheater on the planet. Good thing that I'm extraordinarily good looking; I'm certainly not the brightest tool in the shed.

Aug 21, 2014
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Charcoal Starters - Chimney vs. Electric?

I use a chimney, but there's a second purpose for the damn thing that's virtually unknown.

I've got a BGE in my backyard. Love it, but when I only want to cook one or two things, it's a pain in the ass. I'm not going to use it if I just want a burger or two, or a steak. I mean, really. This, gentle friends is where the chimney comes in handy.

Set up your chimney and let the coals get white-hot. At this point, the coals should be cooking at 800F+. Now throw a grill on top of it and bam, you have an instant super-hot grill at your disposal, awesome for anything that requires just a quick sear- especially steak. Once finished, I toss the coals into the BGE with the vents closed, so that they can be saved for the next job. Easy!