Monday, January 20, 2014

Feed Me, Seymour: Shrimp Stir Fry and a Smoked Braised Beef Brisket

Huzzah more recipes!


The other night I made stir fry, which is actually pretty simple but I'm sharing with you my process and the recipe anyway.  It's super yummy, and after my artery clogging recipes from before, I figure something a bit lighter would be called for. Plus I wanted to use my new, super sexy Kasumi Titanium knife and nothing says "try out cutting some shit" like chopping veggies for a stir fry.

Oh I'm about to have a knifegasm.


Ugh. So sexy.

Ok, back to food.  Another amazing thing about a stir fry is that you can include what you want to have in the stir fry to suit your tastes Don't care for shrimp? Throw in another protein.   Can't stand broccoli? (I hate it - it grosses me out...something about eating trees) Think baby corn is about as weird as Lady Gaga's wardrobe? (seriously. wtf is that stuff?)  Just nix it and substitute with other veggies.

So here's my super quick recipe for Shrimp Stir Fry.   Ready? It's go time.



Shrimp Stir Fry

1 pound skrimpz (choose a size to suit your tastes.  I used raw 26/30 shrimp for this recipe)
Corn Starch
2 T. Grated Ginger (or powdered if you completely forget to grab ginger at the store like me. Just don't add as much)
Salt
Pepper

2 T.Sesame Oil
3 T. Vegetable Oil
2 T Grated Ginger (or um...dried if you have early onset Alzheimers and can't remember what you need at the grocery store)
3 cloves garlic (minced)

3 stalks celery cut on a bias
1 can water chestnuts (sliced)
3 medium carrots (julienned)
1/2 medium onion diced
1 cup snow peas
2-3 stalks green onion cut on a bias (guess who forgot to pick this up at the grocery store? yep...)
Black and white sesame seeds (to garnish)

2 c. Beef Stock
1/4 c.Soy Sauce
Sugar (to taste)

Your choice of rice (I like brown rice for my stir fries)

Method
1. Combine beef stock, soy sauce, and sugar in saucepan.  Taste and adjust if necessary. Bring to a boil and reduce to a low simmer to allow sauce to reduce and thicken.

2. Prepare your rice.  Another time we'll go through how to make sticky rice. I didn't pick up the ingredients at the grocery store (go figure) and didn't quite have the time to fool with it...so it was brown rice for me.
3. Peel and de-vein (depoop) your shrimp and set them aside in a bowl.    I want to take a second to mention it is REALLY important to buy your shrimp uncooked.  Also, if you're curious what the various sizes of shrimp (26/30, 31/35, 16/20) mean, the seafood industry sells shrimp by the count per pound.  This means that if you're getting 26/30 shrimp (like I did), you're going to get about 26 to 30 shrimp per pound.  The size of shrimp you are looking to purchase will vary for what recipe you're cooking.

4. Sprinkle corn starch, ginger, salt and pepper on shrimp. Toss to coat.  You may need to add more corn starch if you don't feel your shrimp are thoroughly coated. Set aside until ready to use.

5. Chop your veggies ahead of time. It's important to have everything prepped - stir fries don't take long and you don't want to have overcooked, mushy veggies because you're still working on getting something ready.

6. Heat 1 T. sesame and 2 T. vegetable oil on medium high until slightly smoking. Add ginger and garlic and stir with wooden spoon.  Add shrimp and quickly flip/toss to par cook all sides.  When shrimp begin to pink up, remove from oil and set aside in a bowl.

7. In the pan heat remaining oil over medium heat.  When hot, add onions and cook until translucent.  Increase heat to medium-high, add carrots and celery and cook until slightly softened. Add water chestnuts and snow peas, cooking until tender-crisp and heated through.

8. Add 1/4 cup of sauce to veggies and increase heat to high. Add shrimp and 1/4 cup more of sauce. mix and toss to coat.  When hot and shrimp are fully cooked (bright pink in a "C" shape.  If your shrimp form an "O" shape, you've overcooked your shrimp. Whomp whomp whomp.) Add green onions and toss to thoroughly coat.

9. Build your bowl/plate!  Layer some rice, forming a bowl in the center, pile on your stir fry meat and veggies, ladle some reserved sauce over and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.   Enjoy!



Now.... another recipe I made for you this week involves smoked meat.  Boom.

There's nothing quite like the flavor of smoked meat, and since I'm smack dab in the middle of winter in Chicago without a smoker, I won't be smoking anything anytime soon.

Feel free to make a joke about smoking...smoking meat...or just playing with meat.



Giggidy.

So a great alternative is liquid smoke.  It's not quite the same thing as letting meat hang out in a smoker for hours, but when you don't have the equipment, a small amount of liquid smoke can pack a powerful punch and be just what you're looking for.

Another great thing about liquid smoke is that there are a plethora of brands and types of smoke.  Mesquite...Hickory...Applewood...there are a ton of different brands and flavors you can experiment with.


I like brisket as a protein.  If you aren't familiar with the cut, it's an amazing cut of meat found in the lower chest of beef or veal (the pectoral muscles). Since cattle do not have collar bones, these particular muscles support about 60% of standing or moving cattle.  As a result, there is a significant amount of connective tissue so this is a cut of meat that will need to be cooked thoroughly to tenderize the meat.



Oh yes...really.  A little more info on that - the more an animal uses the muscle you're working with, the more connective tissue that will be present, making the cut tougher so to speak.  Think about the least used muscles like the loin and the rib.  Those are typically more tender whereas muscles used more (brisket, round, chuck) are going to be tougher.

To sum this up as how it will affect your cooking, you'll want to think about what the animal is doing with that muscle when considering your preparation.



We can talk about fat content and why it is important in how you prepare food another time.

I snagged the following recipe from a cooking show I was watching and really wanted to try it. I think I might play around with some other flavors and proteins in the future, but for now enjoy a smoked braised beef brisket that will make your panties drop.

Seriously... the meat will melt in your mouth, and combined with the au jus, you will get flavor that is sweet, smokey, salty, tangy, and just overall ridiculously mouthwatering.


Smoked Braised Beef Brisket
Brisket (use what suits you and your family - the one I used is 2.25 pounds)
2 medium lemons
1 1/2 c. soy sauce
2 cans beef consomme
3 T. liquid smoke
6 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
1/2 c. light brown sugar


Method
1. In a 9 x 13 pan (you'll want a bigger dish if your brisket is any larger than mine) add beef consomme, soy sauce, juice of 2 medium lemons, chopped garlic, brown sugar, and liquid smoke.   As a fun hint, if you don't have a juicer, juice your lemons over your hand or in a strainer to catch the seeds.   Give your marinade a good ole stir.

 


2. Place your brisket in the marinade, fat side up.  Spoon marinade over the top of your brisket.
 


3. Cover brisket and put in your fridge to get good and sexual overnight.  Seriously.  Overnight.  Don't skimp on this.  You want the meat to begin to tenderize and the flavor to develop.


4. When you're ready to cook, pop the whole shebang in a preheated 300 degree oven for 40 minutes per pound.  Leave the lid tightly covered.

5. After the predetermined time, peel back the foil and check to see if you can pull apart the meat with a couple of forks. Be sure to check the center - you may be able to pull the meat apart on the ends; however, the center may still be a little tough.  If some of the meat is still tough, pop it back in the oven for another 40 minutes until the meat is fork-tender all the way though. Mine needed a total of 3 1/2 hours to cook.  My oven is super screwy... when I pulled my brisket out to check, it looked a little like this...

6. When the meat is good and tender, place it on a cutting board to rest (about 5-10 minutes).  Slice off the top layer of fat (because ain't nobody got time for that).

7. Once the fat is 86'd, slice the brisket thinly against the grain.  I can't begin to tell you how important this is.  If you look at your meat, you will be able to see that - just like wood - it's got a grain. In some cuts of meat, the grain (muscle fibers) can be very fine, but others, like brisket, have thicker muscle fiber bundles. If you try yanking your meat apart by holding it with the grain running between your hands, it'll be pretty difficult to do. Now rotate it 90 degrees so that instead of yanking along the length of the muscle fibers, you're pulling them apart - so much easier!   So before nomming on meat, you want to shorten the muscle fibers as much as possible with the help of your knife.  It'll make things much easier on your chompers.

 

8.  I'm a huge fan of the au jus and LOVE the flavor of this sauce in particular.  Now pop the thinly sliced meat back in the juices.


When you are ready to serve, pile the meat on a plate or in a bowl and spoon some of the au jus over the meat.  Voila!  Delicious summer flavors in the dead of winter.

Brisket tip?  This dish can be frozen and reheated, or stored in your refrigerator, popped in your oven and reheated until ready to serve.  I love putting this over mashed potatoes (the au jus can be spooned over your meat and 'taters, or thickened to make a fantastic gravy).  Another suggestion? Slice the brisket into small pieces (or pull it apart with forks) and make brisket tacos!

So there you go!  Hopefully you enjoyed the recipes above and maybe even learned a little something about meat.  If you have any questions, tips or tricks, please don't hesitate to contact me.

And until I whip out my culinary dick next time, get your hot asses into the kitchen and cook something.  It's deliriously sexy and might even get you laid.

Yes.  THAT sexy.





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