Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm a man.......and sometimes I like a good salad!

Sometimes, we, as men, are afraid to admit that we like a good salad from time to time. I'm not sure why. But, like a good piece of meat, it's important what you cover that salad with. If you haven't noticed by now, I like to do things myself. One of my favorite things to make is a good salad dressing. There are a bunch of them out there, but, for my money, an Italian Vinaigrette rises above them all. If you haven't tried making your own, you should. I could probably teach a monkey to make this and it would still taste great. Here's what I use to make mine.

Italian Vinaigrette
3 cups of vegetable oil (you can use olive oil but be careful as it will solidify when refrigerated)
1 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (no need for an expensive one here)
10 cloves pressed garlic
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons basil
3 tablespoons oregano
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (optional)
You can use dried basil and oregano if you want on this but I prefer the flavor of the fresh herbs. The red pepper flakes are optional but I like the little bit of kick it gives to the salad. I especially like salads with red onions in them and this combination is great. I simply place all of the ingredients in my blender and blend away until it is thoroughly mixed. I store this in my refrigerator for about 4 weeks. Be sure to shake up before using on salad.
What I really like about this is that it doubles as an excellent meat marinade or vegetable marinade. To make this a marinade, do this:
2 cups of Italian Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/4 cup distilled vinegar
I really like to use this on just about any type of meat but really like it on pheasant breast or any type of meat that has the opportunity to dry out easily.
Whether you like salad or not, this versatile mixture will add some great flavor to your meals and can really spice up a drab dish.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Steeler and her pups


I've been really getting into glazes lately as I like the finished product that the glaze produces. It doesn't really matter how you get the meat to it's desired internal temp, however, when I use a glaze, I like to use a minimal amount of spices while it's cooking if using a glaze to finish. Most times, I'll use just salt and pepper while cooking and I like to throw the glaze on the meat during the last 30 minutes of the cooking process. If I'm smoking, I'll sometimes throw the glaze on during the last hour of cooking. Here are some of the glazes that I really like. These all come from the book, Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes, by Jim Tarantino. If you don't have a copy of this book, I highly recommend getting a copy. It's worth the price by far just for the glazes.

Maple-Bourbon Glaze
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup bourbon or sour mash whiskey
1/2 cup cider vinegar
grated zest and juice of 2 juice oranges (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4 cup brown or full-flavored yellow mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I like to double this for my tastes)
1/4 cup soy or tamari sauce
In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, add the maple syrup, bourbon, vinegar, orange zest and juice, brown sugar, mustard, cayenne and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes, until reduced to 1 cup. Cool the glaze, store in a clean, airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use. The glaze can be made ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. To use the glaze after refrigerating, warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
I like to also add a thickening agent to this (but just a little) to give the glaze more of a sticking quality.
The next glaze that I've been using is a honey-ginger glaze that works well with chicken (or any poultry for that matter) and pork.
Honey-Ginger Glaze
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons (about 1/3 cup)
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Combine the lemon zest and juice, honey, mint, ginger and garlic in a blender or food processor and process until all the ingredients are blended. Store in a clean, airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. The glaze can be made ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. To use the glaze after refrigerating, warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
The recipe calls for basting during the last 5 minutes of cooking, however, I like it to be on a little longer when I'm doing my cooking. These are simple, easy to make glazes that will pack a punch of flavor to any meal. Give them a try when you just can't figure what else you might want to do with that meat.