Low Carb

Herb Stuffed Roast Chicken

Whole roasted chicken, infused with fresh herbs – parsley, basil, thyme, oregano.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 5

A great way to infuse chicken with flavor? Stuff seasonings right underneath the skin. That way as the chicken cooks, it bathes the meat in the flavor of the seasonings.

In this recipe we are using a mix of fresh chopped herbs and some salt and pepper to season our chicken. The recipe comes (barely adapted) from Jamie Oliver, in his wonderful book Naked Chef.

  • Want even juicier chicken? Try brining it overnight before roasting!
  • Want to learn how to prep that chicken for the oven? Check out How to Truss a Chicken!

Ingredients

  • One 5 pound chicken
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram or oregano), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Ingredients

  • One 5 pound chicken
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, marjoram or oregano), finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary

Method

1 Preheat oven with a roasting pan in it to 400°F.

2 Rinse and salt the chicken: Rinse the chicken and chicken cavity with water and pat dry with paper towels. Rub salt over the inside of the cavity.

3 Stuff herbs under skin:  Grasp the skin at the tip of the chicken breast and gently pull up. Use your fingers to gently separate the skin from the breast meat, taking care not to tear the skin. Sprinkle a little salt into the gaps and insert as much of the chopped herb mixture as you can.

4 Stuff the cavity with the lemon, bay leaves, rosemary, and any remaining herbs. Pull the skin of the chicken breast over the breast so that none of the meat is exposed.

5 Tuck in the wings and truss with kitchen string. 

6 Brown the breast side of the chicken in roasting pan in oven: Rub olive oil over the chicken and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Carefully remove the hot roasting pan from the oven and add a little oil to the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken on one side, breast side down, on the roasting pan and put it back in the oven.

Cook for 5 minutes, then turn the chicken so that the other breast is on the pan and cook for another 5 minutes. Starting off by cooking the chicken this way will help brown the breasts.

7 Turn chicken over and roast until done: Then turn the chicken over so that it is breast-side up. Cook for 45 min to 1 hour, or until the juices run clear (not pink) when a knife tip is inserted into both the chicken breast and thigh, about 165°F for the breast and thigh.

Posted by gen_gen - 2019 at 

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Liver and Onions

Liver and onions! Calves liver, dredged in seasoned flour, sauteed in bacon fat, with thinly sliced onions.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Once a month, my entire childhood, mom would serve us liver and onions for dinner.

I think it was the only dish in which whining was even remotely tolerated. “Liver and onions, OH NOOOOO,” was the hue and cry from the assembled kids.

Mom and dad never really forced us to eat anything. But, if you didn’t like what was on the table, there was no alternative. And complaining really wasn’t an option; one look from dad was enough to keep any of us quiet. My parents worked hard enough to put food on the table, and we knew it.

It was for these quiet moments of culinary desperation that God invented ketchup. Ketchup was the only thing that could save us from the taste of overwhelming taste of liver, and we poured it on. The onions helped too.

Recently mom and dad admitted to me that they don’t like liver that much; they made it as often as they did because (back then, before hormone-fed beef) it was good for us kids. I have been begging them for two years to make it again and they finally did tonight. “I’m sure this will be a popular one for the website,” laughed my dad.

And you know what? It was good. Really good. Much better than I remember it being as a kid, and without all that ketchup.

Two important points to remember when making liver, first, use the most organic, free-range, antibiotic, hormone-free calves liver you can. As full of vitamins and nutrients that liver is, it also collects the bad stuff, so get beef that is as free of chemicals as you can.

Second, use calves liver, veal liver, or baby beef liver, not regular beef liver which is just too strong.

Ingredients

  • 1¼ lb calves liver (be sure to use calves or veal liver, not mature beef liver), thinly sliced
  • ½ to 1 cup of flour, seasoned with
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, dry mustard to taste
  • 3 teaspoons bacon fat
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thin

Ingredients

  • 1¼ lb calves liver (be sure to use calves or veal liver, not mature beef liver), thinly sliced
  • ½ to 1 cup of flour, seasoned with
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, dry mustard to taste
  • 3 teaspoons bacon fat
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced thin

Method

1 Dredge the calves liver in seasoned flour. Set aside.

2 Sauté the onions: Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of bacon fat. Sauté the onions until translucent, a couple of minutes. Remove onions from pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside onto a serving dish

3 Fry the liver slices: Add a couple more teaspoons of bacon fat to the skillet. Add the calves liver slices, working in batches. Fry until browned on both sides.

Serve with sautéed onions (and ketchup!).

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Braised Onions

Pearl onions braised with butter and chicken stock, great side dish for roast beef or stews.

Ready in:

  • Yield: Serves 4

Braised onions are the side of choice with beef Bourguignon but they are also wonderful with roast beef and other stews.

Trader Joe’s sells a pack of multi-colored pearl onions that cook up beautifully as braised onions.

The catch?

You have to peel them, which requires blanching first, then cutting off the ends so you can slip off the peels.

Blanch whole pearl onions to make the skins easy to remove

You can of course skip this first step by using pre-peeled frozen pearl onions. I can tell you that if you do choose the blanche and peel approach, it is well worth it. These onions are delicious.

You can prepare braised pearl onions two ways – “brown braised” in which the onions are first sautéed in butter to brown, or “white braised”, in which the onions are simply braised then cream is often added and reduced.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pearl onions, about 1 inch in diameter
  • Butter
  • Chicken stock or water (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar (for brown-braised onions)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pearl onions, about 1 inch in diameter
  • Butter
  • Chicken stock or water (or vegetable stock for vegetarian option)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Sugar (for brown-braised onions)

Method

1 Blanch the onions: Blanch the onions in boiling water for one minute. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop cooking. Slice off the ends; slip off the skins.

If you are using frozen pearl onions, defrost and drain them before the next step.

2a For “white-braised” onions:
Put onions in one layer in a saucepan with chicken stock or water coming up halfway. Add 1 Tbsp butter, season lightly, cover, and simmer slowly 25 minutes, or until tender.

2b For “brown-braised” onions:
Before braising, sauté peeled onions in one layer in butter until lightly browned. Then add liquid, salt, and 1 teaspoon of sugar; cover and simmer slowly 25 minutes, or until tender.

3 Uncover and boil off excess liquid: Uncover, boil off excess liquid, and fold in another Tbsp of butter if you wish.

4 (optional) For “creamed” onions add some heavy cream to white-braised onions when they are just tender. Simmer several minutes until thickened, basting.

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Pan Seared Salmon with Avocado Remoulade

Pan seared salmon with a creamy avocado remoulade sauce, avocados puréed with lime juice, olive oil, shallots, parsley, and Dijon.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

Have you ever seen a “Bacon” avocado?

Available during winter months, bacon avocados are large, thin-skinned avocados that are much lighter in flavor than the more popular Haas variety.

If you happen to see bacon avocados at the market, try one out! They are exceptionally creamy and are perfect for using in sauces.

While remoulade is typically made with mayonnaise, in this case we’ve substituted the mayo with avocado and seasoned it with lime juice.

This creamy avocado sauce is perfect for serving with salmon! Sear (or bake or poach) a salmon fillet and serve it on top of the avocado remoulade.

Ingredients

  • 2 large avocados, cut and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (can substitute lemon)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots or green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of salmon fillets

Ingredients

  • 2 large avocados, cut and peeled
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (can substitute lemon)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots or green onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of salmon fillets

Method

1 Make avocado remoulade sauce: Put avocado pieces and lime juice into a food processor or blender and pulse until blended.

Slowly add olive oil, pulsing, until you reach desired consistency of sauce.

Add minced shallots (or green onions) and parsley, pulse just until combined.

Remove to a bowl, add mustard, salt and pepper to taste.

2 Sauté salmon fillets: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan on medium high heat.

Season both sides of the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Place the fillets in the hot pan and lower the heat to medium.

If your fillets are skin-on, you can either place the fillets in the pan skin-side up or skin-side down. If you first place the fillets skin-side up, the fillets will be easier to turn over without falling apart, because the raw skin will help hold the fillet together. If you place the fillets in the pan skin-side down to start, this will help crisp up the skin, which can be a tasty treat on its own.

Cook the salmon until about medium doneness, about 3-4 minutes per side.

3 Serve: Serve salmon with avocado remoulade sauce.

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Pacific Black Cod Escabeche

Black cod fillets marinated in a vinegar oil mixture and served as a classic escabeche.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Chilling time: Several hours to overnight
  • Yield: Serves 4-8

Escabeche (es-kah-BECH-ay) is a dish of Spanish origin in which seared meat or fish is marinated in an acidic marinade.

Fish escabeche is similar to ceviche, but the fish is cooked a bit first. Because of the acidity of the marinade, the dish lends itself to fatty fish, especially mackerel.

When I first had this version of escabeche, prepared by Chef Sean Bernal in the Bahamas, it was with a wahoo fish, and all I could think of was how good it would taste with mackerel.

Unfortunately for me I haven’t been able to find any fresh mackerel (or herring, or sardines for that matter) in Sacramento. The fishmonger at Whole Foods recommended pacific black cod (also known as sablefish) as a substitute because it is fairly oily (and packed with omega 3s).

Pacific black cod may seem a little delicate for the task, but you know what? When I prepared it, it firmed up beautifully overnight.

I also tried it with tuna, but the tuna ended up being too steak-y for the dish, it didn’t flake like the black cod.

Because of the acidity, you can’t eat too much of the escabeche at once. It does work great though, for quick fish tacos. Just take a basic cheese taco and add a bit of the fish, peppers and onions. Normally you wouldn’t use melted cheddar in a fish taco, but because the cheese cuts through the acidity, it works.

The escabeche reminds me a bit of pickled herring, a staple in Norwegian buffets and Minnesota pantries, and also a bit of mackerel sushi, for those of you sushi lovers.

Do you have a favorite escabeche recipe? or even pickled herring? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

You can eat the escabeche a few hours after you prepare it, but the it will be better if you let it marinate for a day. The fish will firm up and have a better texture.

Regarding the habanero, the original recipe called for a scotch bonnet, which is hard to find out here. One might think that a whole habanero would make the dish too spicy, but it was actually the perfect amount for this dish.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2-3 red, yellow, and green bell peppers, seeded and julienned
  • 1 white onion, julienned
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 habanero or scotch bonnet chili, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar
  • 3/4 pound pacific black cod (sablefish) fillets, pin bones removed, cut into 4 inch pieces
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup flour for dredging
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 allspice berries

Method

1 Make the escabeche vegetable vinegar mix: Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat (do not be tempted to cut back on this amount of oil, it is needed for the marinade). Sauté the bell peppers, onion, carrot and chili until softened, 5-10 minutes. Stir in vinegar, bay leaf, allspice berries, remove from heat, and set aside.

2 Partially cook the fish fillets: Pat the fish fillets dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them on both sides with salt and pepper. Place flour on a plate and dredge the fillets in the flour on both sides.

Heat remaining 1/4 cup of oil a frying pan on high heat. When the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the fish fillets to the pan. Cook on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the fish from the pan when they are only half-cooked through, as the vinegar in the marinade will finish the cooking process.

3 Cover fish with vegetable vinegar mixture: Place the partially cooked fish fillets in a non-reactive dish, such as a ceramic or pyrex casserole dish. Spoon the vinegar vegetable mix over and around the fish. Refrigerate overnight.

The fish will finish “cooking” in the acidic marinade and will become firmer.

4 Serve: Bring to room temperature before serving.

Serve on a small plate, or on a crostini for an appetizer. Or add to a cheese taco (cheddar in softened corn tortilla) for a quick fish taco.

Will last several days in the refrigerator.

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Stuffed Zucchini with Turkey Sausage

Large zucchini stuffed with ground turkey, mushrooms, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, and Parmesan cheese.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If you grow zucchini in your garden, and you’re the kind of wonderful person who brings your neighbors a share of your bounty, and such bounty includes foot-long several pound zucchinis, might I suggest that you include a recipe to accompany such a welcome gift? I’m not kidding!

Seriously, we have such a wonderful neighbor, Pat, who not only brings over freshly picked, glorious produce, but tried and true recipes as well.

The following stuffed zucchini recipe is adapted from one that Pat brought us last week, along with a 2-pound zucchini, and we loved it.

It tastes like it is stuffed with Italian pork sausage, but the stuffing is actually lean ground turkey with garlic, herbs, and mushrooms. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini about 12 inches long, or 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper

Ingredients

  • 1 zucchini about 12 inches long, or 3-4 medium zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper

Method

1 Prep zucchini: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides, leaving shells about 1/4 inch thick. Reserve about half of the insides.

2 Sauté onion, garlic, mushrooms, zucchini insides: Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Sauté onion and garlic until soft. Add mushrooms and reserved zucchini insides, and sauté another 2 minutes.

3 Brown the ground turkey: In a separate skillet heat a Tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat. Add the ground turkey. Lightly brown the turkey, stirring only occasionally. After the turkey browns on one side, stir it so that it has a chance to brown on other sides. Cook until the ground turkey is lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

4 Make stuffing: Stir the onion and mushroom mixture in with the ground turkey. Add the wine. Stir in tomato, basil and rosemary and cook 1 minute longer. Drain any excess fat. Remove mixture from heat and set it aside.

When mixture has cooled, add cheese, egg, salt and pepper.

5 Stuff zucchini shells and bake: Fill zucchini shells with mixture. Fill a baking pan with 1/4 inch of water. Place filled zucchini halves in pan and bake at 375°F for 40 minutes, until golden brown. Remove zucchini from pan and serve while hot.

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Seared Scallops with Asparagus Sauce

Seared thick sea scallops served with a simple asparagus and butter sauce.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2

A few years ago my father discovered scallops, not that he didn’t know about them before, it’s just that some light bulb went off in his head one day and he decided that he had to cook them. So for a time he would madly attack any scallop recipe that seemed half-way interesting.

The problem was that he just couldn’t get them right. He had a hard time getting them browned, and more often than not, they were overcooked.

So when the-man-who-knows-more-about-seafood-than-I-ever-hope-to Hank Shaw was here the other day cooking scallops, both dad and I circled Hank like hawks, watching to see how he did it. Here’s what we learned.

Sear scallops in a hot pan

You need a screaming hot pan! Scallops have a lot of moisture in them, which means you have to get the pan really hot to dry the outer edge of that moist scallop so that it can actually get hot enough to brown.

When the scallops brown, the meat pulls back a bit (contracting proteins) making them easier to turn. Now theory doesn’t always translate to practice, you might still have some sticking. But when the scallop is seared enough, it should move more easily.

Easy asparagus sauce

An asparagus sauce is an excellent way to complement the scallops.

While it looks fancy, it’s really just boiled asparagus, chopped then tossed in a blender with some chicken stock and then reheated with butter and salt. Any leftovers can be used as a sauce for pasta.

Plan on 3 sea scallops per person for a light dinner or appetizer, 5 scallops for a full main course.

Many sea scallops come with a tough flap of meat attached to them. Just pull it off and either discard or use in a seafood stock.

The asparagus sauce is a great way to use the spears of asparagus in case you’ve chopped off the tips for use in another recipe. You’re just puréeing them here, so you’ll never see the tips.

Ingredients

  • 6 sea scallops*
  • Salt
  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1/2 cup warm chicken broth (if cooking gluten-free use gluten-free stock)
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or canola oil

*Sea scallops are the big scallops, about 1 1/2-inches wide, as opposed to bay scallops which are small, about 1/2-inch wide. Look for “dry pack” scallops, as they are not treated with chemicals to keep them fresh; the chemicals are not overly harmful, but they change the texture of the scallop and make them harder to sear properly.

Method

1 Salt the scallops: Salt the scallops well and set aside at room temperature while you make the asparagus sauce.

2 Cook the asparagus for the sauce: Use a potato peeler to shave the outer layer off the asparagus spears, up to about three-quarters of the way up the spear. This part is more fibrous and will not break down as well in the blender. Chop the asparagus spears into 2-inch pieces.

Boil the asparagus in a pot of salted water for 5-8 minutes. This is longer than you’d normally cook asparagus, but you want the spears to blend well later.

Remove the asparagus from the pot. If you want to retain that vibrant green color, shock them in an ice bath.

 

3 Make the asparagus sauce: Put the cooked asparagus in a food processor or blender. Add half the chicken stock and purée until smooth. (If you want an even smoother texture you can push the purée through a fine mesh sieve or a food mill.)

Pour the sauce into a small pot and add the butter. Heat over very low heat until the butter melts, but do not let it boil, or even simmer. The sauce should be warm, not hot. If the sauce is too thick you can add more chicken stock. Add salt to taste.

4 Sear the scallops on one side: Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Heat a sauté pan on high heat. Add your cooking oil, and let it heat up for 2 minutes. The pan should be very hot. If it starts to smoke, move the pan off the heat. Lay in the scallops in the pan, well separated from each other. You might need to sear in batches.

If your scallops are thicker than 1 inch, turn the heat down to medium-high. Most sea scallops are about an inch. Let them sear without moving for at least 3-4 minutes.

Keep an eye on them. You will see a crust beginning to form on the outside edge of the scallop, and the meat will begin to whiten upward. A good time to check the scallop is when you see a golden brown ring at the edge of the scallop.

Try picking it up with tongs, and if it comes cleanly, check it – you should see a deep golden sear. If not, let it back down and keep searing.

5 Sear the scallops on the other side: When the scallops are well seared on one side, turn them over and sear on high heat for 1 minute (give or take). Then turn off the heat.

The residual heat will continue to cook the scallops for a few minutes. Let the scallops cook for at least another minute, or more if you like your scallops well-done.

6 Serve: To serve pour a little sauce in the middle of the plate, top with the scallops, the more browned side up.

Serve at once. Garnish with a little chopped parsley if you want, and maybe with a wedge of lemon.

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Sautéed Swiss Chard with Mustard Seeds

Swiss chard, quickly sautéed with shallots and mustard seeds, seasoned with salt and rice vinegar.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-3

Mustard seeds. Do you cook with them often?

I discovered how wonderful they were years ago when my Indian friend Sanjay would come over and make dal for us, peppered with mustard seeds. They’re so tiny, but boy do they pack a flavor punch. They are especially good toasted, spicy and nutty at the same time.

In this recipe, mustard seeds help bring a kick to sautéed Swiss chard. A simple combination, that just works.

If you like chard as much as we do, I encourage you to try it! We top it off at the end with some rice vinegar, but the chard is fine with just the mustard seeds too.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots or chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (can sub with plain rice vinegar and large pinch of sugar)

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Swiss chard, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots or chopped onions
  • 1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar (can sub with plain rice vinegar and large pinch of sugar)

Method

1 Prepare the chard leaves: Leaf by leaf, cut out the tough center stem. Slice the stems crosswise in 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces. Keep separate from the leaves. Slice the leaves crosswise into 1-inch thick strips.

 
 

2 Sauté chard stems, shallots, mustard seeds: Heat oil in a large, wide, stick-free sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the chopped chard stems, the shallots or onions, and the mustard seeds. Sprinkle a little salt over the chard. Sauté until the onions or shallots become translucent.

3 Add chopped chard leaf greens: When some of the mustard seeds may start to make a popping noise, add the chard leaf greens. Sprinkle on a little more salt and toss to coat with the oil and onion mixture.

 

4 Finish by steaming in pan: Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Let cook for a couple minutes only, lifting up the pan cover to turn the greens over in the pan after the first minute. The greens should cook down considerably. When they are just wilted, remove from heat and place in a serving bowl.

 

5 Sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar right before serving.

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Home Cured Corned Beef

How to easily cure your own corned beef, with beef brisket, pickling spices, and salt.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 5 days
  • Cook time: 3 hours
  • Curing time:

Vibrant pink, salty, and spicy, corned beef is always a welcome meal in our home, whether in a boiled dinner, with cabbage, or in a sandwich with Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. Who knew it was so easy to make?

Corned beef is essentially beef cured in a salt brine, with some pickling spices for added flavor. It gets its name “corn” from an old English word for grain, or small pieces of hard things the size of grain, such as salt.

How to make corned beef from brisket

Over the years, many of my friends have encouraged me to cure my own corned beef, insisting that it wasn’t hard to do, and well worth the effort. After finally getting around to it, I’m happy to report that my friends were right! It really is easy; it just takes about 5 days to cure.

To make it you first make a salty curing brine with pickling spices like mustard seed, allspice berries, coriander seeds, and peppercorns. Then you marinated a beef brisket in the brine, for 5 to 7 days. Once brined, you remove the brisket from the brine and simmer it in water with more pickling spices for several hours until tender.

Because you get to choose what pickling spices to use, you can make your own distinctively flavored corned beef. You know how BBQ masters have their own favorite homemade dry rubs? It’s sort of like that.

Pretty much every packaged corned beef brisket I’ve bought tastes about the same. The one I home cured? Wonderful and different.

While I researched several online sources for curing your own corned beef, as well as interrogating my colleague Hank, the source I referred to the most was Michael Ruhlman’s brilliant Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing (high recommend). You can also see his instructions on Leite’s Culinaria.

I played around a bit with the spice mix, and kept the garlic out of the brine, but other than that, pretty much followed Michael’s method.

What makes corned beef pink?

Corned beef gets its vibrant pink color from the use of sodium nitrite, a chemical compound that also adds flavor and helps inhibit bacterial growth. Sodium nitrite is sold for the purposes of curing meat in a form called “pink salt”. Since sodium nitrite is toxic in concentrated amounts, it is dyed pink so that we don’t mistake it for table salt. Note that curing pink salt is NOT Himalayan pink salt.

You can use pink salt for this recipe or not. I’ve corned beef with and without pink salt. Both work. The curing salt adds a little more flavor and will help preserve the beef better if you don’t cook it right away after curing.

There is some controversy over the use of sodium nitrite in curing meats, as the frequent consumption of cured meats (bacon, ham, pancetta, corned beef) is linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancer. I eat cured meat maybe once a month, so I’m not worried for myself, but it helps to know about the risks and the current research.

To achieve a pink color without the use of curing salt, some people add a beet or two to the boiling water when it comes time to cook the roast. I haven’t tried that yet, but if you do, please let us know how it works out for you!

What to make with corned beef?

  • Corned Beef and Cabbage
  • Corned Beef Hash
  • New England Boiled Dinner
  • Red Flannel Hash

The spice mix with the gallon of brine makes easily enough curing brine for a 5 pound brisket, cured in a somewhat large-ish container. If you were to use a 2-gallon freezer bag or marinating bag, you would likely need just half (or less) of the amount of brine and brine spices.

Ingredients

Pickling spices:

  • 1 Tbsp whole allspice berries
  • 1 Tbsp whole mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
  • 1 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 9 whole cardamom pods
  • 6 large bay leaves, crumbled
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon

Brine:

  • 1 gallon (3.8 liters) water
  • 300 g Kosher salt (2 cups of Diamond Crystal brand Kosher Salt OR 1 cup 3 1/2 tablespoons of Morton’s Kosher Salt)
  • 5 teaspoons pink curing salt (optional)*
  • 3 Tbsp pickling spices
  • 1/2 cup (90 g) brown sugar

*Pink curing salt, or sodium nitrite, goes by many names, such as Prague Powder #1 or DQ Curing Salt #1, and is available online and may be available at your local specialty market or butcher shop. If you don’t have it, you can still make corned beef, but it is necessary for that vibrant pink color we associate with corned beef. And it adds flavor too. Without it the corned beef will be a dull grey color.

Note that pink curing salt is NOT Himalayan pink salt. Pink curing salt is toxic and can be deadly if ingested directly, which is why it is colored pink, so consumers do not mistake it for table salt.

Brisket:

  • 1 5-pound beef brisket
  • 1 Tbsp pickling spices

Method

1 Toast and crush spices: You can either used store-bought pickling spices or you can make your own. To make your own, toast the allspice berries, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods in a small frying pan on medium heat until fragrant. Note that it is pretty easy to burn spices; you want enough heat to release their flavors, not so much that they get burned.

Remove from heat and place in a small bowl. Use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices a little (or the back of a spoon or the side of a knife on a flat surface). Add to a small bowl and stir in the crumbled bay leaves and ground ginger.

2 Make curing brine with spices, salts, sugar, water: Add about 3 Tbsp of the spice mix (reserve the rest for cooking the corned beef after it has cured), plus the half stick of cinnamon, to a gallon of water in a large pot, along with the Kosher salt, pink salt (if using), and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate until well chilled.

3 Cover brisket with brine, chill: Place the brisket in a large, flat container or pan, and cover with the brine. The brine should cover the meat. The meat may float in which case you may want to weigh it down with a plate.

Alternatively you can use a 2-gallon freezer bag (placed in a container so if it leaks it doesn’t leak all over your refrigerator), place the brisket in the freezer bag and about 2 quarts of brine, squeezing out the air from the bag before sealing.

Place in the refrigerator and chill from 5-7 days. Every day flip the brisket over, so that all sides get brined equally.

4 Cook cured meat: At the end of the cure, remove the brisket from the brine and rinse off the brine with cold water. Place the brisket in a large pot that just fits around the brisket and cover with at least one inch of water. If you want your brisket less salty, add another inch of water to the pot.

Add a tablespoon of the pickling spices to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a very low simmer (barely bubbling), and cook 3-4 hours, until the corned beef is fork tender. (At this point you can store in the fridge for up to a week.)

5 Cut across the grain: Remove the meat to a cutting board. (You can use the spiced cooking liquid to cook vegetables for boiled dinner or corned beef and cabbage.) Notice the visible lines on the meat; this is the “grain” of the meat, or the direction of the muscle fibers.

To make the meat easier to cut, cut it first in half, along the grain of the meat. Then make thin crosswise cuts, across the grain to cut the meat to serve.

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Categories: Low Carb   Tags: ,

Mint Chimichurri

Tangy minty chimichurri sauce with fresh mint, parsley, and garlic.

Ready in:

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Makes about 2/3 of a cup

When I first moved into my house, everyone advised me to pull out the mint that was growing in pockets here and there around the yard.

The rebel in me refused to do so, thinking, “I love mint! I’ll use it in cooking.” (Gardeners reading this are laughing about now.)

Let’s just say that mint grows very well indeed, and is especially well suited to containers, where it cannot send out runners and take over every nook and cranny in a yard.

I have kept the mint, but I do have to be diligent, and pull it up where it doesn’t belong.

Here’s a sauce that takes advantage of all that mint, a South American chimichurri, with mint taking the place of some of the parsley that is traditional for classic chimichurri.

I’ve made the sauce with straight mint and with a parsley mint blend, and the blend wins. It’s just the right balance of flavors. A lovely accompaniment to steak or pork, and a perfect sauce to spoon over lamb.

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup fresh mint (spearmint) leaves, packed
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup fresh mint (spearmint) leaves, packed
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Method

1 Place garlic in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times until chopped. Add the mint and parsley leaves and pulse until finely chopped. (Alternatively chop everything finely by hand.) Remove to a medium bowl.

2 Add the vinegar, salt, and red pepper flakes to the mint parsley mixture and stir until the salt has dissolved. Stir in the olive oil.

Will keep for several days in the refrigerator. Perfect to serve with lamb or steak!

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Categories: Low Carb   Tags: , , ,

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