biggreenmatt's Profile

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dutch ovens vs. slow cookers

Suspect it might have to do with the heat distribution.

Though I've never owned a slow cooker, I'm guessing it's heated from an element located on the base of the machine, while a Dutch oven is heated from all sides, including above and below, with either the cast iron or ceramic providing good heat transference. Rather than heat unevenly from below, a Dutch oven transfers radiant heat from the oven to the entirety of the braise, resulting in a better end-product.

good rub for beef

Heh. Love me my Dalmatian Rub.

Gotta say though, after dozens and dozens of grilled steaks and smoked briskets, I've come to the conclusion that it's even better with a bit of garlic powder. Adds a savouriness to the meat that it'd otherwise lack.

But more than that, meh, it doesn't tend to add that much (fine, maybe a LITTLE BIT of cracked coriander is nice, from time to time) and it takes away from the beefiness.

Salt, pepper, garlic powder. Simple perfection.


YES Group Inc @ Woodbine/Steeles is a charcutier's dream. They service both industry and home cooks and if they don't literally have everything you could possibly want when it comes to the curing and processing of meat products, then they certainly figuratively have everything you could possibly want. They're also awesomely friendly to home cook dilettantes who show an interest in and want to play with meat and chemistry.

They call it by a different in-house name, but they carry both #1 and #2- and lots of it. No need to call ahead. They come in 1 kg bags, and are cheap as chips.

Sous Vide Roasts

Ironically, the 48 hour low-temp baths are unquestionably safer than shorter low-temp baths.

At the risk of preaching to the choir on the topic, the killing off of bacteria and other nasties is a function of not only temperature, but time exposed to the temperature. The FDA's old fashioned recommendation that meats be cooked to 160F is because at 160F, bacteria are killed in less than one second. The lower the temp, the more time is required to kill them off.

This makes sense. If you walk outside and the temp is 100 C, you're dead, instantly, your inside fluids boiling off in a most messy fashion. At 50 C, you're sweating profusely, even in the shade, and need to find some water within a reasonable amount of time, failing which you're going to die off, likely within the day. At 25 C, it's pretty pleasant out, though if you spend too much time out there, say a week or so, you'll die. Same principles apply to SV cooking.

A cursory googling online should come up with the bacteria-kill logarithm tables that say how long you should cook at what temp to make sure the food is safe to eat. There's also a few apps (at least for iPhone) that will do the work for you. Bottom line: it's perfectly safe- once you know what you're doing, and how to avoid problematic mistakes!

smoked corn beef

Aaaaaaaand I just noticed that I'm replying to a reply to a post that was initially posted in 2008.

Never mind. Carry on.

Feb 12, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

smoked corn beef

Check out the BBQ board- there are tons of discussions of recipes and treatments of briskets, both smoked and cured, including a hella-good recipe for Montreal smoke meat.

Feb 12, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

recs for Thai red curry paste in Toronto

If you're using it enough (i.e.: "kitchen staple"), you ought to consider making it on your own at home. A trip to T&T or most of the Viet/Thai grocery stores on Spadina should be enough to get you the ingredients you need (gapi, the fermented shrimp paste that acts as a base, goes by many names in different SE Asian countries- you should be prepared to find it under another name) and the stuff you do at home is fresher and brighter than what you'd find on a shelf.

There are likely jillions of recipes online, and if you don't have a mortar and pestle, a food processor will do in a pinch! Good luck!

Stock for soup

MG, you need to draw a distinction: stock is not soup.

Stock is one of the building blocks of a great kitchen. It's not meant to be flavourful in and of itself; it's the rich base for sauces, soups, stews, braises, anything that needs a liquid as a cooking medium.

Veal stock, for example, done properly, tastes neutral-y. It's grey-tasting, but not unpleasantly so. When you add other flavourings to it to make your sauce, for example, it becomes something etherial. It shines. Same with homemade chicken stock that gets fortified by adding other meat and veg and bones to make some of the best goddamn Jewish penicillin you've ever tasted.

I literally have about 20L of stock in my deep freeze (chicken, fish, veg, brown veg, and a little bit of beef stock at the bottom). If you need a primer on the subject, I live just down the street.

Porzia - a report

Went this past weekend. Decent, but expensive for what it was.

I don't need to go back.

"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