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biggreenmatt's Profile

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Italian Sausage/Brats Sous Vide before grilling?

Happy to provide the dissenting opinion and take a stab at making the case for sous vide.

One of the great all-too-common grilling tragedies, in my opinion, is well meaning but ham-handed backyard chefs way overcooking everything. Mashing down on burgers with a spatula, squeezing all the happy, fatty juices out. Charred chicken so past well-done that only a gluggy, heavy BBQ sauce can rescue it. Shriveled-up, desiccated hotdogs that are only good for canine consumption.

Putting sausages on the stove, in water for 20-30 minutes at a "boil" or even a simmer will leach out flavours and likely overcook the hell out of them- and never mind the extra added overcooking that'll take place when you put them on the grill. 190F internal is no way to treat a beautiful sausage.

Obviously my first point is that sous vide will get you a better end result. Once you package the snags and set your SV to (I would think) 145F, all you need to do is pull the packages out of the SV as needed, throw a quick char on them (bringing internal temp to 155F+), and you've got a great end result. My second point is that you're not just cooking- you're hosting. You presumably want to spend as little time on the grill as possible and as much time socializing with your guests. By taking care of the lion's share of the cooking, the SV frees up your time to drink beer, talk to friends, and avoid looking at your neighbours, who'll be staring over your fence enviously, wishing they could get their hands on a beautiful sous vide sausage!

Whatever you choose- best of luck on your Q!

about 14 hours ago
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Pho broth

I use Luke Nguyen's recipe for pho broth and it's heavy on oxtail, which gives the preliminary stock a bit more of a happily gelatinous texture than ordinary stock.

For the beef garnish, I suspect raw tender cuts would be more appropriate than raw tough cuts, since you're actually cooking the meat in the soup. Something like brisket, or flank, or flat iron, even very thinly sliced, would still have lots of collagen in it, and might be tough to eat- cook it first instead!

about 14 hours ago
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Ben and Izzy's Deli

That's my understanding, too. Year round, I make both Montreal smoke meat and Texas smoked brisket, and it's now eye-bruisingly expensive. A typical 10-12 lb brisket, bought at Upper Cut at the SLM, is now easily $80- and we're not talking kosher.

Ironic, given that both MSM and TSB have their origins with poor people trying to make a tough, inexpensive cut tender and delicious. Sad stuff.

fish cookery & cookbooks

I can poach a piece of fish. I can fry a piece of fish. I can cure and smoke, both cold and hot, I can broil and grill and batter and sous vide and even do a passable ceviche.

Now I want to broaden my horizons when it comes to fish, and I'm looking for a decent cookbook for someone who's not starting from square one and has some classical training under his belt.

Ideas? I'm curious about and starting to make some inroads into New Nordic, but for all intents and purposes, I can cross the globe when it comes to suggestions. Live in Toronto, Canada, so while I don't live on an ocean, the supply is fairly good.

Thanks in advance!

Aug 30, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

BBQ Rub Supply in Toronto?

I kind of agree with this sentiment. Super easy to make yourself, there's (literally) dozens if not hundreds of recipes online, and best of all, you can tailor it to your own specs.

If you insist on buying, Dickson's at Avenue Road and Wilson or Ontario Gas & BBQ up in Vaughan are likely your best bets.

ISO: warqa pastry

Hi, all.

Suspect that I'm going to be stuck with using filo, but does anyone know where to find warqa pastry in town? If it helps, I'm on Danforth East, right near the local Pakistani Masjid, so the odds of finding it might be closer to slim than none.

Help appreciated!

Seafood and Fish Markets

Diana's is my go-to, as well, even though Bill's and SLM are a hop, skip, and a jump away.

The place is massive, with a ridiculous variety of seafood, fresh and frozen, at reasonable prices (the fishmongers at SLM are 1/3 more expensive).

If you've never been, you need to go and see for yourself. Annoying to shlep out to Scarborough to get there, but worth it when you arrive.

Eulalie's Corner Store, Gerrard and Coxwell

Agreed. Nice, low-fi vibe, in very much the same vein as the Avro or Hi Lo. Worth visiting- and the chicken and waffles are very good indeed!

EDNA - outstanding restaurant!

The missus and I just came back from an Atlantic Canada trip (we live in Toronto), and I wanted to drop the collective a quick note about EDNA.

Halifax is very, very lucky to have such an outstanding restaurant. The menu is clever and well thought-out. The kitchen has exceptionally competent skills. The service is casual but very attentive. The wine and beer list are put together well. Most importantly (esp from someone used to the Toronto food scene), the price point is excellent and while not cheap, I felt we received excellent value for money. In point of fact it was so good that we went twice, once for dinner, once for brunch, and I was mildly upset that we didn't get a third meal in.

You have a gem. Go there early, go there often.

Aug 10, 2015
biggreenmatt in Atlantic Canada

Finally, authentic Chinese Spicy Cumin Lamb Kebab in my backyard

Charcoal Road, in Scarborough. Man is it good.

wondering where I can buy an IR thermometer in Toronto in person?

But if you do, find out the cost online, add in HST, and only bring in as much money as you need, in cash.

Place is deadly on the wallet. So... many... awesome... toys! :)

any ideas for smoking something new/unusual?

While smoking a brisket this weekend, I put on a lamb neck, just to see what would happen. Right idea- strong muscle with lots of connective tissue. Smoked it for, I dunno, a bunch of hours at 225F, with a rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and cumin, over oak. Came off ok, I guess, but I associate lamb with either Greek or Moroccan cooking, so it didn't do too much for me. Tasty, but indifferent.

Ah well. Can't win if you don't play. Plus the brisket was *excellent*.

Help Please - Lunch around North York Civic Centre

Wow- had no idea Guu'd opened up shop at Yonge and Sheppard! Great find- though too bad they're not open for lunch.

What's the best thing to make with a sous vide machine?

Agreed on the chicken and steak. Unless it's a mammoth 2"+ side of cow innocuously purporting to be a steak, it's better either, in my opinion, by pan and oven or super hot grill.

Eggs are ridiculous, dark green veg are ridiculous (broccoli looks unappetizingly gray-green, since the chlorophill breaks down at the "doneness" temp, but the crunch is perfect and the taste is concentrated and intense), but best of all are tough cuts of meat, cooked at low-temp over days.

I made a batch of short ribs, cut very thick, marinaded in kalbi sauce, cooked for 2 days at 125. Came out rare but fork-tender. After a bit of flame, they were ridiculously, falling-apart delicious, and clearly they were rare!

Don't take it from me. An excellent online resource is, with tons of practical sous vide tips and recipes. Good luck!

Jul 24, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Crispy Chicken Skin - High Heat or Low and Slow?

Depends, I think, on what you're cooking on.

I use a BGE, which keeps flare-ups to a minimum. I cook my butterflied chicken at about 450F until almost done, then flip it for about five minutes to get it extra-crispy.

I suspect on a more conventional barbecue, you'd need to alter your technique, since the dripping fat and excess oxygen would cause massive flareups and char the skin.

Source of cukes for pickling?

Yes, the Highland Farms/Coppa are excellent sources for all kinds of cukes, city-wide. They'll also sell jars and dill to make life easy.

Love Highland Farms/Coppa.

I have about 5 lbs of chicken skin.

Screams for schmaltz. Tremendous stuff!

Jul 16, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

ISO - (pink) curing salt

I've been.

YES services the industry, and especially big industry, like Maple Leaf Foods, though they happily sell to home cooks. They'll likely take you in the back warehouse to show you their operation, and it's absolutely immense. Chat up the account person and see the sights. Fun time for any meat nerd. :)

ISO - (pink) curing salt

For a reliable source, head to YES Group in Markham (Woodbine/Steeles), which carries virtually (literally?) everything a home cook could possibly need for curing, including #1 and #2.

Help Please - Lunch around North York Civic Centre

Damn, sorry, Sababa is at Steeles and Hilda Roads. Access by Steeles West bus.

Help Please - Lunch around North York Civic Centre

I work just north of you at Yonge/Finch, and, as it happens, I grew up in the area.

Ignoring the obvious pubs and chains, both high and low:

Sushi Moto on Yonge is competent for sushi and cooked Japanese. Not fabulous, but competent, which is more than can be said for most sushi/teriaki/tempura joints;

Kinton Ramen is just as good up here as the other locations.

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu is excellent.

That damn Shwarma joint across from the NYCC is good, too, though hell if I can remember its name.

Love Bar Burrito. Again, not stellar, but competent.

Take a trip up to Steeles and Clark and you'll get your hands on Sababa (visit the grocery, not the restaurant!) for what's arguably the city's best falafel.

Golden Star, on Yonge, just north of Steeles, is Old Skool burgers and fries.

Hmm. As I think of more, I'll add on. Good luck!

Finally, authentic Chinese Spicy Cumin Lamb Kebab in my backyard

Hang on- is this the Uyghur/Xinjiang recipe we're talking about, or something completely different?

There's a Uyghur joint in an obscure part of Toronto that's exceptionally good, especially their lamb kebabs, and I'd kill for an authentic recipe.

Where to buy lamb shanks?

Yup. Upper Cut regularly stocks shanks.

Shanks... you're welcome!

Grilling - Closed Or Open Lid?

Yup. Also thinking of the kamados which act as a coal-fueled convection oven and grill, and how the convection effect is lost when the lid is up.

Thomas Keller's simple roast chicken: how to preserve crispiness?

Better than a torch is the Searzall!

I own a sous vide unit and I bought myself a Searzall when it first came out. Indispensable tool, and a million times more effective for practical applications than a propane torch. Seriously- it's a good'un!

Jul 06, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Dim Sum King, Dundas Street in Chinatown

FWIW, I like DSK for lunch when I'm in the area. Cheap, friendly, reliable, if not earth-shattering Cantonese dim sum, and you can always get a seat in there.

Dinner... funny, I've never thought of having anything other than dim sum there, so it wouldn't have occurred to me to go at night. :)

Do bbq ribs freeze well after they've been cooked? Once thawed, will they heat up well in foil on a campfire?

Freezing cooked BBQ product isn't ideal, but may be a necessary evil sometimes. Hell, even a brisket lover like my good self isn't going to pound back 8 lbs of fresh product in one sitting. Freezing leftovers is inevitable.

As far as reheating in a foiled packet over open flame goes, I'd be a little concerned about drying out the product even more, having been literally dried out in the freezing process. When I reheat frozen BBQ, I tend to use moist heat, either by steaming in a gentle steamer, or by covering my meat with a damp paper towel and carefully using the microwave. If you've got no other options than a fire pit, make a point of adding some moisture to the foil- and go gentle on the flames. No point in horribly overcooking your beautiful work.

Taste of Lawrence

Man, there was an outstanding Malaysian booth selling these odd (for a non-Malaysian, obvs) stuffed-crepe like things and were extraordinarily tasty. Eat that, pronto.


If you like that, you'll love yourself a board sauce, one of the simplest, most elegant things you can do to any kind of slicing steak.

Advice: wear a helmet when you make it for the first time, since you're going to bang your head against the wall, wondering why the hell you didn't think of the method first.

Jul 03, 2015
biggreenmatt in Home Cooking

Anyone use a temperature contoller on their smoker?

I'm a BGE CyberQ user, too.

Works like a charm for long smokes, made that much more important for BGE users, since the Egg has a tendency to creep up in temp as time goes on. Because of the creep, I tend to use my Guru about 2-3 hours in, after the Egg's had a chance to regulate the temp "manually". Once that happens, it's set it and forget it- but mind the initial set up!