Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bison Burgers with Cabernet Onions and Cheddar

Surprisingly, I don't have much to say about this recipe itself. Besides the somewhat exotic protein, not much adventure or flavor breakthrough with the burger itself. The Cabernet onions, however, were easy to produce and a nice touch. Toasting the cheese on the bun worked well -- this process achieved the desired meltiness without overcooking the burger.

This meal did provide me with an opportunity to break out one of my favorite wedding gifts: the deep fryer. All you engaged people out there, think about throwing this on the registry. It is compact (about the size of a toaster) and remarkably well-made. Most of the contraption is dish washer safe so clean-up easy. It holds a liter of oil making it perfect for a small batch of wings, fish or fries. I found the key to good fries is to cook them twice--this ensures that the fries are crisp and cooked all the way through.

If you don't want turn on the stove, here are a few places to get great burgers in DC. Five Guys is always consistent and a classic. The fries are fantastic and you always know where the potatoes originated. Hopefully, you don't have a peanut allergy so you can enjoy the free shelled peanuts while you wait for your never-frozen patty to cook. Good Stuff Eatery came on the burger scene recently. Besides a outstanding burger, you can order milkshakes (I enjoyed the Milky Way) or draft beer. For all you Top Chef fans, this is what Spike has been doing since packing his knives. I most recently visited Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington. This is the sister restaurant to Ray's the Steaks and is in the same funny little strip mall on Wilson Blvd. They have root beer on draft and several ways to order burgers, including au poivre. This messy burger is worth sacrificing a more than a few napkins.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Special "Sunday" Roast Chicken

I purchased a two whole chickens at the Harris Teeter in Adams Morgan a few weeks ago. If you have not been to this grocery store, you're missing out -- especially if you are shopping at the miserable Giant by the Columbia Heights Metro stop. Every part of the shopping experience is more enjoyable than other local groceries: the food is well stocked, there are good specials every week, checkout lines move quickly, and most people are there simply to shop. (In fact, the only negative thing I've heard about the entire store is that a business manager may or may not have purchased spoiled garlic. For the record, I never saw the garlic.)

I originally planned to butcher the chickens and fry them. I am trying to perfect a nice fried chicken, but had to change plans after buying the Wii Fit this past weekend. An "overweight 43 year old" (thanks, Wii Fit) does not need any fried food. Luckily, I stumbled on a recipe for a Special Sunday Roast Chicken. I ended up cooking the bird on a Wednesday -- with hopes that it would end up as delicious as advertised.

The actual roast chicken is nothing unusual. Schmearing the shallot/sage-butter on top and under the skin helps, but doesn't take the meal to another level. I really enjoyed the sweet potato and parsnip, however. These two tubers don't make it into enough meals, in my opinion.

I have include a large photograph of the presentation over wilted greens. Thanks to Andrew for the feedback!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Veal Cacciatore

I couldn't pass up the opportunity this past weekend to purchase some veal at the Arlington Farmer's Market from my friends at EcoFriendly Foods. Here is what they say about their veal:

"We’d like to continue to promote our new veal program. Most veal production models do not fall within our comfort zone of what we consider humane but we’re now supplying an alternative known as “Rose Veal”. Rather than being an adjunct of the dairy industry, Rose Veal is a focused production model where the calves are left with the mothers throughout their lives. These animals are approximately five months old and have been raised with their mothers on pasture. Their diet consists of mother’s milk and as much grass as their developing palettes care to eat. It’s this limited grazing that gives the meat its ‘Rose’ color, and characteristic flavor."

It worked out quite well that there was a recipe for veal cacciatore in the latest issue of Gourmet. Now, I ate my fair share of cacciatore when I was a youngster, but I gave my poor Italian mother hell every time. I was more than a picky eater and actually rinsed off the chicken in the sink right before dinner. Sorry, Mom.

I used a little less than 2 pounds of veal and it was not enough. I didn't modify the cooking time to accomodate the size of the veal; I wasted an hour and a half cooking (well, overcooking) the meat, and we don't have any left-overs. Luckily, we had a copy of "Slumdog Millionaire" to watch, so not all time was ill spent.

This dish was also a perfect opportunity to try out a holiday gift from my better half. This apron looks awkward when you first put it on, yet the handiness of the oven mitts makes up for any fashion faux pas when you are lugging cast iron out of the oven a few times.

The photo is taken before braising in the oven.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Beef Chili with Ancho, Mole, and Cumin

Here we go, people. This is hopefully the first of many posts about the meals that Kate and I are eating each night. I started putting up the titles of the recipes in my g-chat status as I cooked and people seemed to notice, respond, tell me what they were eating, and poke fun.

This chili recipe is Texas-style--spicy and meaty. I used a "mock tenderloin" purchased from Eco Friendly Foods at the Arlington Farmers Market. I also picked up this mole at Harris Teeter; if I was more motivated I would have gone to Bestway. I have never cooked with mole before and was surprised by the packaging and consistency. When I finally got the can/jar opened, there was a runny liquid on top and an almost-dark-chocolate-like substance underneath. I set a few spoonfuls out on the counter and it slowly started to look like the mole I have tasted at places like Casa Oaxaca in Adams Morgan. There were no directions for cooking with mole in the Bon Appetit, which I thought was strange.

The "broth" was very rich, spicy, and flavorful. We put a few spoonfuls of black beans on top which diluted the chili. Kate (shockingly) smothered hers in sour cream and added some cheddar cheese to increase the creaminess. We both cleaned our bowls using some chips and our palates with a Miller Light.