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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Masa Cornbread Stuffing

Another successful Thanksgiving dinner! This cornbread stuffing was a big hit. The cornbread has a twist: it's made with masa flour (corn tortilla mix) as well as cornmeal. Masa is also used for making tamales. It has a distinctive flavor that I just love. This recipe came from Epicurious and I've made some modifications. It makes a lot, which is fine for a big Thanksgiving dinner but not for a regular dinner or small party. I've cut the recipe in half for the stuffing but not for the cornbread. Use half the pan of cornbread and freeze the rest. Cornbread freezes really well; cut it into serving-size pieces and freeze them so you can pull out just what you need.

Masa Cornbread
(makes enough for stuffing + plenty for eating)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Brisket with Green Chiles

This recipe occurred to me when I had defrosted a brisket and found my crisper drawer filled with Hatch green chiles from my garden. Kind of a hybrid derived from my life: brisket for my Jewish New York upbringing, and green chiles for my adopted home in, nominally, the Southwest. Colorado isn't really what most people think of as the Southwest but parts of it were part of the original Spanish colony. Lots of old Hispanic influences. I'm a huge fan of Southwestern food. I worked at an incredible Southwestern restaurant, Zolo Grill, when I first made the switch from engineer to chef. Still love that food! If you ever find yourself in Boulder, check it out. It's still one of the best meals in town.

This is a slow cooker recipe because it's a great way to cook a brisket. Brisket is a tough cut. Lots and lots of fat and collagen. But, that's what makes it so very good. Though this is delicious the day it's made, it's even better if if you chill it overnight, and reheat it. Also gives you a chance to easily skim off the copious fat. Otherwise, it's kind of an oil slick!

Brisket with Green Chiles
(serves 6-8)

2 ¼ - 2 ½ pounds beef brisket, in one piece
1 ½ Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 large onions, sliced
6 large New Mexican green chiles, such as Hatch, roasted, peeled, and seeded
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon ground ancho chile
1 teaspoon ground mild Chimayo red chile
3 cups beef stock
2 large cloves garlic, sliced

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season brisket with frac12; the salt and frac12; the pepper. Brown in hot skillet. Remove to a 3-5 quart slow cooker. Add onion and chiles to skillet and cook until limp and browned. Add cumin and chile powder. Stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add 1 cup beef stock, and scrape up any browned bits in skillet. Pour the whole thing into the slow cooker, along with remaining salt, pepper, beef stock, and sliced garlic. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. To serve, slice or shred meat.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Salmon on a Plank

I decided to try something new with the salmon. Grill it on a plank. Grill isn't really correct because the planks aren't put directly over the heat. Cooking on a plank is a moist heat method. The planks are soaked in water first. When the planks are placed in a hot grill, the planks start to steam, cooking the salmon. Since the planks themselves have aromatic properties, the steam is imbued with this delicious, interesting scent of woodsy-ness. And, it's quite yummy and wonderfully moist.

As I said, this is an indirect grilling method. You need a grill with at least 2 heating elements, or a charcoal grill that is big enough to put the hot coals on one side and room for the planks on the unheated side.

I used cedar planks, but alder planks work well too. The planks are reusable. You don't put them over a direct flame so they don't get charred, particularly when cooking fast-cooking salmon. A single plank is big enough to hold 2 fillets of about 6 oz. each which is enough for 2 servings.

Cedar Planked Salmon
(serves 4)