Companion: Episode 5, Carving a Chicken

To be honest, there’s not a lot I can update on this episode.  Clearly, I need a bit more practice at butchering chickens, but you get the general idea.

One main point I want to bring to your attention is that you’re gonna want to get to know your chicken.  Don’t be afraid to move it around the board to get the best angle, flip it upside-down and stuff.  I do it all the time if I’m having a hard time getting through a joint, or around a bone.

Another point I’d like to bring to your attention is that once you can butcher a chicken, the same technique can be applied to almost any poultry item with only minor changes.  Start with chickens though, because they’re cheap… but the same technique can be applied to turkeys, ducks, geese, hen, etc…

I have two viewer requests right now in queue, so I’m excited to get to work on stuff that someone is specifically looking for.

I hope you guys and gals are enjoying my videos.  It’s definitely a labor of love right now, and sometimes, I’ll be honest, I feel like I’m only doing it for myself.  I know there are people out there who like this sort-of stuff, and I’m just trying my hardest to make these videos short and useful… and to be viewed by as many people as possible.

Please help me spread the word if you like what you see.  Link to me on Facebook…share my YouTube links, it really helps me out.  I’m not making any money off of this thing, but the more people I see view my videos, the happier it makes me.

Maybe that was kind of a selfish thing to say, but hey… I’ve been writing this thing for about a year and a half now, I think I can be honest at this point 😛

But enough of me ranting.  Hope today’s video learned ya somethin’, and I’ll catch ya next week!

Fun fact:  That actually was my dog barking in the background while I was cutting the second chicken breast…I’ve spent millions of dollars sound-proofing my home for these videos, and yet that still leaks through…It’s almost like this is some sort of amateur production 🙂

Posted in Companion, Recipe | Leave a comment

Italian Food Done Right.

I’ve had this post in my head for a few weeks now, and It’s about time I share it with you!

There’s this new restaurant in my neck of the woods called Prato, and it was opened by the same chef who runs Luma on Park, which I’ve mentioned in my blog before. Anyway, this new restaurant is authentic Italian, and it’s very unique and very, very good. The decor is nice and all, but I’m not here to talk about that, right?

I absolutely loved this place, so much so that I’ve been back twice already to work in their kitchen 🙂 But really, I can’t wait to go back as a diner again because the food is great, the ingredients are fantastic, and the flavors are amazing. They have two giant custom-built clay ovens right from Italy in the kitchen and they cook all of their pizzas in there.

Speaking of pizza, that’s what my wife had to eat. 20120213-101111.jpgThe Widow Maker pizza is the name, and let me first start by talking about the crust. I love the crust on pizza. I am always looking for a flavorful crust, and I found one here. Just crisp enough because of the oven, and really good flavor. The toppings were great, too…It’s got braised kale, fennel sausage, romesco sauce (which is a red pepper sauce), topped with goat cheese and… well, there’s supposed to be a farm egg on there, but my wife doesn’t like runny yolk, so she opted out of that item. Either way, it was quite, quite good. All of the toppings served a purpose and worked well with each other. I almost regretted my decision and wanted a pizza. But then I remembered that I ordered a pork chop 🙂

20120213-101121.jpgThis was definitely one of the best pork chops I’d ever had…and you guys know I eat a lot of pork. It was grilled to a perfect medium doneness, and topped with this sweet apple relish (actually called mostarda,) served on top of a butternut squash farro risotto. Oh my goodness that risotto was good. It was the perfect amount of creamy, had a really nice texture, and when mixed with some of the apple, it was darn-near magical. The chop had a nice char around the rim which added a nice texture and flavor contrast. It was ridiculous. I did not regret my decision in the slightest.

We even had room for dessert, if you can believe it. My wife got a chocolate mouse with sea salt on top. Once mixed in, it was a very good dessert that she couldn’t put down, but in its “served” state, some bites were too salty. I had a tiramisu.

20120213-101133.jpg

They serve all their desserts in those little canisters, which is a nice little single serving. My dessert was pretty heavy on the rum and coffee, which I really liked. Our waitress mentioned that some patrons had mentioned to her that it maybe was too much of that flavor, to which I respond: Bullocks! Why would you get tiramisu if you didn’t want that flavor?!

So that’s about it for now. I’ve got another post cooking (get it?) about my classes at school, so I’ll finish that one up soon too. In the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying Tasty Techniques, and the new episode will be posted later today.

Stay positive, love your life, and play with your food 🙂

 

 

 

Posted in Eating Out, Pork | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Companion: Episode 4, Pork Chops and Apple Sauce!

Pork is the most amazing protein there is.  That’s it.  Good night everybody!

Obviously I’m kidding.  About the last part anyway.  Anyone who knows me personally will tell you that I love pork.  I’m always cooking pork, and I’ve become pretty good at it.  I’m pretty aware of good flavors that go with pork and this technique will net you a nice pork chop when done properly.

I think the big problem a lot of people have with cooking pork is that they over-cook it to oblivion.  There’s no need for that!  Pork these days is raised so differently than the “pork of yore” that you can cook it almost to medium-rare and still be okay.  Overcooking your pork chops will just give you a hockey puck for dinner, and they’re gross.

These chops were bone-in and not particularly thick, maybe 1/2 inch at most.  Manage your heat well, and when you’re brown on both sides like in the video, you’re probably done.  Dredge the pork chops in seasoned flour.  I only used salt and black pepper for the entire dish, but you could do whatever.  Sage or thyme are really good with pork, but I would rub those right on the meat as to not waste it in your flour.  Also as I mentioned, I used my leftover flour in my bag to thicken my sauce.

If you don’t make the sauce, please make sure you rest your meat.  This goes for nearly any protein you cook:  you want to rest it at least 5 minutes after cooking before you go cutting into it.  I’ll demonstrate this in a future video, but by letting it rest, you’re giving the juices inside the meat (which have been highly agitated due to the high heat of cooking) to relax and settle throughout the meat.  If you cut into it while it’s right off the heat, your meat is gonna be sitting in a pond of juice that should be in the meat.

All ranting aside, I used the exact same technique to make my pan sauce this time as I did in episode 1 with the chicken.  The thing that was different was I let the cider reduce down quite a bit and that thickened it naturally, on top of the flour I put in there as well.

The onions were fantastic as well.  I divide these into 3 or 4 zip-bags and freeze them for future use and they’re very convenient.  Slice them thin and take your time.  It will take about an hour for 3 pounds of onions if you’re doing it right.  You don’t have to watch them continuously, but you *do* want to come in every couple of minutes and stir them now and again.  I also did not salt them at all.  None.  Don’t do it.  One time, I salted them at the beginning of the process, and it pulled a ton of moisture out of the onions and I had an onion stew… took forever to steam out all of the extra water that I didn’t need to deal with.  You can season the onions when they’re done and the moisture is cooked out, that’s fine.  You’ll find that the onions are very sweet and are unbelievably good on a nice cheeseburger… sautéed with some mushrooms for a steak, on your ice cream, in your eggs in the morning… nearly anything.

So that about sums it up for today.  I appreciate all of you stopping by, both here and the youtube channel.  Keep spreading the word and this thing can only get better!  I’ve already convinced myself that as I hit milestones, I’ll do something special for each milestone.  Details to come as I get close to certain milestones 🙂

Posted in Companion, Pork, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Companion: Scrambled Eggs and Bacon!

Let me be clear:  I love breakfast.  I love bacon, and I love eggs.  Scrambled eggs are a staple in my household, mainly because they are easy, and you can add all sorts of things to make them delicious.  I also like eggs over-easy, but that’s another show.

The thing about cooking eggs is I don’t use measurements.  It’s hard to tell you how much of everything I used, so I will have to estimate.  Before I get into the content, I do want to mention that kosher salt is the main salt I use for almost everything, including scrambled eggs.  If you don’t have that, go get some.  You can get a pound of it for about $2 at the grocery store and it’s amazing stuff.

Now, the bacon.  It should be something fairly simple, right?  Well, yeah, but too many times I see bacon being cooked into oblivion, or cooked incorrectly.  I wasn’t lying about eating raw/undercooked bacon fat.  It’s no fun whatsoever.  The key, as I mentioned in the video, is to take your time.  As bacon rests, the fat that’s left settles and becomes crispy and pleasant.  Use a medium heat, don’t over-crowd the pan and flip often.  Wait till there’s some browning on one side, then flip.  Wait and flip.  That’s all.  Now, I only made two slices, which fit perfectly in my pan.  If I was making more, I would either do it in batches, or cook them all in the oven:

Oven cooking method:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet tray (with a lip, please) with aluminum foil.  Lay your strips of bacon on the tray, overlapping slightly.  When the oven is ready, place tray in oven.  After about 10 minutes or so (or until the top is browned) flip the bacon and repeat.  It should about 15 or 20 minutes.  Don’t cut your pieces like I did in the video if you are doing this method.

The eggs.  These happened to be very good eggs I made, which was nice because I really was hungry.  The thing I can say about eggs too, is take your time!  If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, why would you rush through it and make it nasty?  I have had some bad eggs in my life, and I suspect that had the cook taken their time, and taken them off the heat earlier, they would be great!  So to recap, the two important aspects of eggs are to:  Season them very well and take your time.  I think I used 2 small pinches of kosher salt to season my eggs… maybe 2 medium.  How do you measure a pinch?! …I know the answer, just too lazy to do it right now 🙂  Anyway, season well.  Use the right fat.  If you don’t have bacon fat handy, use butter.  Melt it entirely and add the eggs.  Some dairy in the eggs is nice, but not required.  I teaspoon or two of sour cream is especially nice.  You could also add in fresh minced tarragon if you had it, chives, parsley…all are very good.  Gently cook the eggs, add cheese when they’re almost done and don’t overcook it.  If they look done in the pan, you won’t like eating them, I can assure you.  Don’t cook them to death, and you shouldn’t even get any browning if you manage your heat well.  I’m sure some of you will see my eggs and think that they’re under-cooked, but I can assure you, they were creamy, had great moisture and great flavor.  Ever see a plate of eggs sitting in a lake of moisture?  That’s supposed to be in the eggs.  I think I’ve said enough.

Thanks again for checking it out.  Please help me spread the word, both about my show and my blog.  I’m anxious to show you guys more techniques to make amazing dinners, lunches, snacks, etc…

Oh, and if you haven’t seen it yet 🙂

Posted in Bacon, Breakfast, Companion, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Companion: Fried Rice, Knife Skills

I love making fried rice.  I think it’s easy, and a great way to use a lot of the extra vegetables I find in my fridge.  I also love knife skills.  That may seem weird, but knowing how to properly use a sharp implement of food destruction is quite important.  I’ll dive in to the fried rice portion right now…

The vegetables I used were half of a medium-sized Vidalia onion, 2 “normal-sized” carrots, about 4 cremini mushrooms and two scallions.  Like I said in the video, this can be customized almost any way.  I would have liked to have added 2 minced cloves of garlic, but I didn’t have any (shame on me, really.)  I also realized that I should have used more of the onion.  I love onion though.  If you use the garlic, you would want to add that right before you add the cold rice.  Let it saute for…maybe about 30 seconds or so.  Burnt garlic tastes bad, and can ruin your entire dish.

I also like to make this dish in a stainless steel saute pan.  The rice sticks to the bottom and gets nice and crusty.  I really like that texture, but the pan can be a bit of a pain to clean.  However, if you use the deglazing technique from the pan sauce in episode one, you could liberate those bits on the bottom and incorporate them into the rice.

I digress.

For the liquid ingredients, I used a more-than-usual amount of rice wine vinegar.  This is a traditional Asian vinegar that has its own unique flavor.  It’s very nice to put it in the dish because it gives it a little bite.  I probably used about 1/4-1/2 of a cup or so.  I wouldn’t go much more than that.  I also used a lot of rice, which justified the vinegar.  About the soy, (especially if you don’t use low-sodium):  Be sparing at first!  You can always add later, but can’t take out.  Also, you don’t want the rice to be soupy.  It needs to maintain its structural integrity.  The chili oil is nice, but not necessary.  You want some element of spicy though.  Red pepper flake would be a nice addition, and I know a lot of people have it at home.  I would add this with the garlic, if you’re using that.  That way, you could”wake up” the flavors of the pepper.  If you were feeling particularly brave, you could slice a Thai chili really thin and add some of that with the onion.  That will permeate with spiciness.

The egg.  I didn’t want to add the egg, but you can.  A lot of people do, I just didn’t want it this time.  That’s the beauty of cooking.  Just add it in when I mention it and scramble it all over the place and you’ll be good.  Depending on the amount of rice you make, you could increase it to two eggs if you wanted.

That’s really it, though.  This dish is a perfect way to use all that leftover chicken, or anything really.  I made a turkey fried rice after thanksgiving.  You could also use leftover portions of pork or beef.  The sky is pretty much the limit here.

Thanks for all the feedback I’m getting and the support!  Please tell you friends, watch the videos, comment, rate and all that jazz.  I want to get better and never stop being relevant, so make suggestions and I’ll see what I can do!  And in case you missed it, the link is here.

Posted in Companion, Recipe | Leave a comment

Companion: Roast Chicken, Sauce & Rice.

This post is my first companion-piece to my Tasty Technique “show” on YouTube.  I’ll have a companion for each show that I upload on the same day.  I’ll start them all with “Companion” in the title so they can be easily searched for.

With that out of the way, I want to thank you for watching my first video, which can be located by clicking here.  I really think roasting a whole chicken is a very valuable skill and can save a lot of money down the line.  Fact is:  buying a whole chicken is a whole lot cheaper than buying just parts…If you eat the whole thing.  Anyway, here’s a quick breakdown of what I did and what you need to know.

I got a 3.5 pound chicken, labled as a “fryer” I believe.  These are a good size to roast because they’re not too big that they dry out before everything gets cooked.

I used about 2 or 3 tablespoons of butter.  It is true, I wanted to have some herbs or other flavorings, but I didn’t have any.  Thyme, oregano, sage, garlic… These are all good things to put in the butter and I’ll show how to make a compound butter in another episode.

The cavity of the bird can and should be filled with aromatic veggies and herbs if you have it.  It’s a really nice way to add aroma and flavor to the chicken if you have extra laying around in the fridge.  If you use an herb in your butter, toss a sprig or two in the cavity and be rewarded.

The rice is a simple 2:1 ratio of water to rice for a “normal” product.  You can play around with this depending on how dry you like your rice, but a well-cooked 2:1 yields a moist rice.  Feel free to add in up to a tablespoon or so of butter to the water as it’s coming to a boil.  I tend to opt-out, but it’s your choice.  You could also substitute some or all of the water for something like chicken stock.  If you use carton chicken stock, I would omit the salt from the water, you’d probably end up over-salting the dish.

For the pan sauce, I didn’t remove any of the accumulated fat from my pan.  I should have.  I had way too much and my roux (fat + flour) wasn’t thick enough.  It’s not a big deal, but my sauce wasn’t as thick as I wanted.  I used a white wine that I had on had for the sauce.  Never use a wine that you wouldn’t also drink.  Why would you want something you won’t drink in your food?  It’s there to add some back-bone to the sauce, so you want to keep it on the heat to reduce it out a bit.  This step is optional, you could just deglaze with some stock or even water if you wanted/didn’t have any wine on hand.

I know some of this may have seemed a little tricky, especially the sauce, but I can assure you it is not.  Just start by roasting the chicken and not making a sauce.  Then step up one day and do it.  You’ll be glad you did, especially if you make a mistake.  You can learn from it and see how to make a better sauce in the future.  You can also do this with almost any meat, really…which I will of course cover in the future.  I’m happy to answer any questions you have about this process, of course!  Another thing about the chicken:  I took it out of the oven at about 155 degrees and let it rest to coast up to 160-165 which is the appropriate temperature for chicken to be done.  Anytime you cook meat, you should always let it rest 5-10 minutes after cooking it anyway to allow the internal juices to settle before cutting into.  This will give you a juicy product, and also ensure that the appropriate cooking temperature is reached.

One final note:  I know I didn’t show how to carve the chicken.  I know.  I’m sorry.  Time required me to take out the piece I filmed on it, but to be honest, it wasn’t well-shot.  I promise that I’ll cover this in a future show and it will be easier to follow than what I had.

Thanks for viewing and I’ll catch ya next week!

Posted in Companion, Recipe | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Chapter.

First of all, I’d like to say that I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/Hanukkah and hope to have a good new year as well. I wanted to give a quick update to something I teased in my last post. My new venture.

You see, I have been writing this blog as a bit of a loose hobby and I made a few YouTube videos to get my feet wet. I’m ready to jump in now. What I plan on doing is a sort-of re-branding of myself to make my content more accessible for a wider range of people (Read: I want people to see and like my stuff.) That being said, in 2012, I will be launching a new YouTube channel: Tasty Techniques. My goal with this channel is to make regularly produced content with the goal of helping viewers shy away from using recipes all the time. I will focus on using sound technique to lay the foundations of being able to do nearly everything in the kitchen. I am really excited about this since I feel like there is a need for this. I think there is so much freedom in cooking after you’ve been liberated of a recipe. I plan on keeping it relatively simple and try to keep the videos 5-7 minutes long with clear instructions on what to do. I also plan on using this blog as an auxiliary to the video itself. So if you missed something in the video, or I couldn’t fit something in to say (or forgot), you can check the blog and I’ll have it posted as well. Furthermore, I’m going to be dropping the “J Lethal” moniker for the “show.” I know it’s not too big of a deal, but I want to aim for a more professional-type name instead of the nickname.

I’ll also be posting on Twitter here: Tasty Techniques Twitter! I’m gonna do my best to keep up with this as often as I can. My goal is to make it a weekly show, with filming starting soon. Obviously, I’ll keep you all posted as things happen. Currently though, I’m sitting in my office with a cold so I’m stuck in the planning phase still. I’m excited about this, and my hope is to get you and your friends excited too!

Posted in Food Vlog, Recipe | 1 Comment