We started by cold smoking whole, unpeeled beets. We put the beets in the pressure cooker and covered them with water. We used more water than we usually do for cooking beets because we had a good feeling about the flavors of smoked beet water. Our hunch was right. We strained the smoked beet stock. We peeled the beets and reserved them for another preparation. We divided the smoked beet stock in half. This way I wouldn't go head over heels in one direction. We took half of the stock and disolved 3% salt, 3% sugar and 0.5% curing salt. We added beef shanks. We vacuum sealed them in the brine. In 24 hours we shall start cooking.
The beauty of a restored hand cranked Berkel slicer is second to none. It ranks with restored cars, refurbished tables and antique barns. We are chasing the styles of yesterday with the know hows and conveniences of today. When we let either style or convenience lead the charge something suffers. Excellence comes from combining the design and structure from the past with the adaptability and usability of today.
Control is essential to consistent, delicious cooking. Whether using an immersion circulator, a CVap, or an Argentine inspired grill, precision and consistency are driving forces. Wood fired cooking is an art, craft, and science. At first glance you might think that wood and fire are all you need. But flames are often our enemy. The judicious use of controlled flare ups is essential for flavor development without charring or overcooking. Using a wood cage to burn logs and create coals allows the cook to control the heat. As with any cooking method this requires practice to develop skills and finesse. Cooking with a variety of mediums forces us to work through processes to maximize flavor and efficiency. The more skills you master, the more knowledge you accumulate, the better your ability to maximize flavor in any dish.
We are constantly looking to improve. Every situation is requires a new set of skills and a different perspective. We like to use limitations as creative springboards but sometimes things can get out of hand. When you get too focused on going over and around obstacles you lose sight of the end goal. You can't please everyone so you had better be happy yourself. If you don't like what you're doing you'll never convince anyone else, but if you have a passion for what's on the plate you can overcome any limitation.
It's Easter weekend and hard boiled eggs are everywhere so we decided to share the following recipe from our latest book, Maximum Flavor. It's slightly modified, we left out the pepper jelly recipe and encourage you to use your favorite red pepper jelly instead. You can brine the eggs or not as you wish, it could be considered a different and more delicious technique for coloring Easter eggs, though you won't get sparkly pastel colors. Even eliminating these two steps these are darned good eggs. The recipe is worth trying for the glazed bacon alone.
Bacon and Deviled Eggs
Classic deviled eggs are always a favorite. We’ve come to prefer the technique of steaming eggs to hard cook them, because it gives very consistent results with the added benefit of making the eggs easier to peel—you can say goodbye forever to that green tinge around the yolk and also to whites that are pitted and unattractive to set out as deviled eggs. A tea brine bath seasons the eggs after they’re cooked and makes them look beautiful and festive. The glazed bacon is crisp, sweet, spicy, and the perfect accent to the creamy eggs. While you can use your favorite store bought pepper jam, we encourage you to try the recipe below. It’s worth the extra effort, and you will find it useful for a wide variety of dishes once you have it in your pantry.
12 large eggs
4 cups/ 907 grams cranberry juice
½ ounce/ 15 grams Lapsang Souchong tea (about 6 teabags)
3 teaspoons/ 18 grams fine sea salt
½ cup/ 110 grams Dukes or other mayonnaise
1 tablespoon/ 14 grams Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon/ 14 grams sweet pickle juice
6 slices of bacon
¼ cup/ 85 grams red pepper jelly
6 teaspoons/ 43 grams red pepper jelly
Put 2 inches of water in a medium pot and set it over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Put the cold eggs into a steamer basket and suspend them over the boiling water. Cover the pot and steam the eggs for 14 minutes. Transfer them to an ice bath and let cool for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the cranberry juice, Lapsang Souchong tea, and salt in a large bowl, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Use the back of a spoon to uniformly crack the eggshells all over without piercing the eggs or removing any of the shell. Put the cracked eggs into the brine and put another bowl on top of the eggs to keep them submerged. Refrigerate the eggs for 48 hours.
After 48 hours, take the eggs out of the brine and peel them, discarding the shells. Cut each egg in half vertically. Remove the yolks and set the whites aside. Put the egg yolks, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and pickle juice into a small food processor and puree until smooth. Scoop the deviled egg mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and put the bag in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C.
Lay the bacon slices on a cutting board. Brush the top of the bacon with some of the 1/4 cup/85 grams pepper jelly and then lay the slices on an oven rack set over a foil-lined sheet pan. Put the bacon into the oven and cook for 15 minutes until the bacon is just crispy and glazed. Remove the bacon from the oven, brush both sides of the bacon with the jam, and put it back in the oven for 3 more minutes. Remove the bacon from the oven and let cool. Cut each slice of bacon into 4 pieces so that you have 1 piece for each deviled egg.
Put the egg whites on a cutting board or other flat work surface. Spoon ¼ teaspoon of the remaining pepper jam into the bottom of the each egg white. Pipe a rosette of about a tablespoon of the egg yolk mixture on top of the jelly. Top with a slice of bacon. Arrange the deviled eggs on a cutting board or platter to serve.
Eating a sausage sandwich, even a quick one on the fly, should always be an enjoyable experience. The biggest pitfall is biting through the sausage. The crisp skin may be delicious but when the hot juice spurts out I almost always burn my tongue or the roof of my mouth. So today, I sliced almost all the way through the link in several places before tucking it into the bread and mustard. Large bites and small bites were consumed without a struggle leaving me free to fully savor every bite. One small adjustment made eating a sausage sandwich a more enjoyable experience.
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