Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Recipes for REAL Men: "Making do" sometimes means "making great stuff"

The best thing about a restricted diet, is that it makes you do the things you wanted to do anyway, but were "too convenient not to/you were too busy to/you were too lazy to" do anyway.

One of Mels favorite things to do in the entire world, is to bake fresh homemade bread.

So a couple days ago, for the first time all year, Mel made a sourdough starter. Last night, she used that starter to make up a couple starter sponges for a slow condition and first rise*, when she woke up she used the sponge to make up a couple of loaves; and now as I write this, a couple loaves of homemade sourdough are on a secondary rise.

In 45 minutes or so, my house will be filled with the glorious smell of fresh, hot, homemade sourdough bread baking.
* A sponge left conditioning overnight and a slow rise, are one pretty easy way to get spectacular bread with great texture and flavor; without the use of commercial dough conditioners that give you a quick rise, but use things like soy and iodate, which I can't have on my restricted diet
One of MY favorite things in whole world is a nice roast beef sandwich, on sourdough.

No commercial bread allowed? No problem.

No commercial cold cuts allowed though... is a problem. Commercial cold cuts use "flavor enhancers"and "freshness stabilizers", including brines and injections, which can contain iodine.

Or rather, it WOULD be a problem, if we didn't know how to do our own. That's why we've got a meat slicer after all.

Besides, doing it yourself is FAR cheaper, and far tastier, than commercial cuts.

Last week, while we had friends from The Guncounter forums visiting, we smoked a whole 15lb turkey, a 5lb pork loin, and a 10lb brisket point.

The whole pork loin and about 1/3rd the turkey and brisket were scarfed that night, but we have been eating the leftovers ever since.

Let me tell you, a home smoked turkey, rubbed with BBQ rub and slow smoked for 8 hours at 220 degrees... You will NEVER have a better turkey sandwich in your life.

I don't need to tell my readers how great a BBQ brisket sandwich is.

Monday afternoon, we took a 10 pound top round roast ($3.29 a pound), rubbed it down with our favorite spice blend (mostly salt, pepper, and garlic powder, but also paprika, cumin, hot mustard, and a bit of powdered chili pepper); and slow roasted it at 250 degrees until the center hit just over 125. Then we shut the heat off in the oven and let it rest for 20 minutes.

We cut the small ends of the roast off and had thick sliced roast beef with sautéed scallopped potatoes for dinner; leaving us with about 8 pounds of big, thick, rare roast beef to stick in the chiller.

We're going to shave a lot of that nice and thin for sandwiches for the next week or so; freezing what we don't eat fresh, to make fried steak sandwiches from later.

Some of it we'll cut into 1/4" thick slices and simmer in homemade gravy for open face sandwiches, or to serve over smashed potatoes.

Some of it will get that same 1/4" thick slicing; but be griddled to get a seared edge on, and served as hot seared beef, with hot mustard and steak sauce.

When it starts to get a little gray, we take the rest, dice it up into little cubes, and simmer it in barbecue sauce, to make some nice loose meat barbecue.

Next week, as our last smoke of the season, we'll probably corn our own brisket ($4.19 a pound), for corned beef, then smoke half (or all) of it to make our own pastrami (which lasts a few weeks in the fridge... if we don't eat it all first of course).

Oh and dairy free gravy isn't too much of a problem; even without margarine.

Last week, when we smoked the whole turkey, we collected all the drippings (not very much actually because slow smoking preserves a lot of moisture in the bird... Mostly just rendered fat). We used all that liquid and rendered fat, (and of course the carcass and the skin) to make a couple gallons of stock.

Once the stock was done we refrigerated it, which gelled it (and pushed a good half pound of turkey to the surface), we skimmed that smokey turkey fat off the top and salted it.

To make soups and gravies without butter, we use salted rendered smoked turkey fat; and finish out the creamy texture with riced smashed potatoes instead of cream.

And of course, there's the pork...

Saturday, we picked up a 15lb pork butt ($1.79 a pound), and broke it down into 2.5lb chunks.

One chunk went to italian sausage. One to asian sausage (which we'll use to make dumplings, pork buns, fried wontons, and potstickers). One to chorizo. They're all in the fridge or freezer now.

One chunk went to carne adobada with black beans and rice for Sunday dinner (and Monday lunch).

In the next few days, we'll probably do some as BBQ pulled pork. We may do some tacos or burritos with home made tortillas, rice and black beans.

So yeah, going without butter, or eggs, or cheese, or milk; or all those commercial products; is a pain...

....But it's not like we're stuck eating granola.