Archive for the ‘Beef’ Category

A brisket for all seasons

February 19, 2013

BrisketSand1

Who doesn’t love beef brisket?

Here on the East Coast, most people know and like it brined (corned beef). In Texas, it is a prime cut for long slow cooking (smoked). And then, of course, the ultimate brined and smoked brisket that is steamed (pastrami).

Years ago during one of our trips to New Orleans, we dined at Tujague’s. Reportedly the second oldest restaurant in a city known for all levels of dining, Tujague’s is more of a local favorite than a “tourists must visit” kind of place. It is not often written about in the foodie mags. It is, in its own way, a classic and one that in my opinion is worth seeking out.

One of the house specialties at Tujague’s is their “boiled brisket.” Nothing could be more humble in name yet more superlative in flavor.

Sometime after that trip, I discovered, on the restaurant’s website, their recipe for this dish. Since that time, I have made this brisket at least once year, usually served with latkes as part of my Hanukkah celebration honoring the Jewish part of my heritage. It amuses me that I prepare a New Orleans Creole brisket recipe to celebrate Hanukkah. This provides a rare opportunity for me to combine my love of New Orleans, my French (my maternal great-great-grandparents entered this country at the port of New Orleans) and my Jewish family.

Recently, I had been overtaken by a strong craving for the brisket and so we purchased a seven pounder from the local BJ’s and I cooked it up for Sunday dinner with friends.

Preparing for our trip next month, yesterday I happened to be checking NOLA.com, the website of the New Orleans Times Picayune. In one of those quirky little coincidences,. I came across a story about the passing of one Steven Latter, the proprietor of Tujague’s It was interesting to read about how he and his brother took over the restaurant without any real food service experience and preserved this treasure.  Mr. Slatter (who, by the way, was Jewish) eventually bought his brother out to become the sole owner. Reading about him made me a little sad that I hadn’t actually met him as I think we might have enjoyed each other’s company.

I read the story and was contemplating what it might mean for the future of the restaurant. Sometimes, owners can be more than just the “boss” at a restaurant; they may provide the very soul of the establishment. As I mused on this, I noticed a link to a story from last year that talked about how great the “brisket sandwich” was. The sandwich was basically a roast beef poor boy/po’boy (the New Orleans version of a “hoagie” or “sub”) made with the house brisket and available only at the bar.

Aha!  Now I knew what I would do with some of the leftovers from Sunday’s brisket.

This noon, I ran out to Italian Peoples’ Bakery and picked up a loaf of their stick bread.

Back home, I made the sandwich and I was not disappointed.

Thank you, Mr. Slatter, for keeping Tujague’s traditions. 

 BrisketSand2

Boiled Brisket Po’ Boy

  • 12” length of good French or Italian stick bread sliced almost but not quite all the way through and opened up.
  • 5 ounces of leftover boiled brisket (see recipe below) warmed, slightly
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Fresh tomato slices
  • 2 Tbs Creole mustard (or dark, coarse grained mustard)
  • 2 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbs prepared horseradish (or two taste)

“Dress” the bread with the mustard, mayo and horseradish. Add slices of tomato in one layer, then a light layer of lettuce. Cover evenly with slices of brisket (I warmed mine for one minute in the microwave). Close bread, using back edge of long knife to kind of stuff the filling back in while pressing down on the top of the bread with the palm of your free hand. Cut into two lengths and enjoy.  (I ate this myself but it would probably feed two normal people)

Boiled Brisket ala Tujague’s

  • Fresh beef brisket (about 4 pounds)
  • 2 onions sliced
  • 2 ribs celery chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 sprigs parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • ½ tbs. salt
  • 12 whole black peppercorns

Put the beef brisket in a coup pot, having trimmed excess fat. Add the onions, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer slowly for 2 ½ to 3 hours or until brisket is very tender. When the brisket is ready, remove it form the pot, drain, and slice to serve. Serve brisket with horseradish sauce on the side.

Horseradish sauce

  • ½ cup horseradish
  • ½ cup Creole mustard
  • 1 cup Catsup.

Blend and chill.

 

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For Dad

June 18, 2011

WARNING: If you are not into consuming meat, you probably don’t want to read this.

38 ounce Porterhouse with garlic/rosemary smashed potatoes

Steak was arguably my father’s favorite food. Dad was enamored of those steakhouses that used to dot Manhattan where they charbroiled the meat to order in the front window.  The meals were relatively inexpensive and the meat pretty good.

As far back as I can remember we managed to have steak on the table at least once each week.  In the winter, my father would cook them under the broiler of the oven.  In the summer it was charcoal grill all the way.

When home gas grills first became available, Dad bought one that ran on natural gas rather than LPG and ran a line out to it. No more smoking up the kitchen, he could “grill” a steak year round.

I’m fond of steak, too, but not on a weekly basis. In fact, I can go a couple or three months between servings of “big meat” but when the craving hits, nothing else will do.

After returning from an extended trip to Italy, a friend recently noted her regret at not having tried the famed ‘bistecca alla fiorentina”: a porterhouse cut of the famously tender and flavorful Chianina beef indigenous to Tuscany.

That comment flashed me back to our experience with that wonderful steak served up from a wood fired grill in a restaurant in the little mountain village about 25 miles northwest of Florence. Four of us had put in a long hard day of being tourists and stopped at the restaurant on our way to our apartment on a nearby farm.  Two immense slabs of beef, a simple salad and, of course, some local red wine were just what we needed. 

The memory planted a seed.  I knew I’d be visiting Pat’s Market in Lincroft after a charity bicycling event at Brookdale Community College.  Pat’s is an Italian deli and honest to goodness butcher shop that serves up some mean sandwiches and hosts a meat counter full of tempting slabs of beef and pork.

I ordered my sandwich and then studied the meat case so I’d be ready for the inevitable question “Would you like something else?”

Down in the front of the case, at the head of a row of gorgeous porterhouses was a steak with a nice sized filet portion as well as the sirloin.  That and a filet mignon for Ann completed the order.

Sunday, after the Thunder game, I fired up the grill and cooked up the steaks.  Ann’s 8 ounce filet was a lovely size.  My 38 ounce monster by rights, should have fed two people (or more) but I allowed myself to indulge since I’d put in 25 miles on the bike for a charitable cause the day before. A salad, some garlic/rosemary smashed potatoes and a bottle of Brunello.  What more could anyone want?

So treat your Dad this year (and the rest of the family) and grill up a large, thick porterhouse. If he’s a real carnivore, he may be up to eating one whole steak himself.

Bistecca alla Fiorentina (Porterhouse Florence-style)

  •  Porterhouse steak, dry aged if possible, a minimum of 1 to 1½ inches thick
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional

Pre-heat your grill or ignite your charcoal.  You will want a very hot area on one part of your grill and a cooler area on the other.  Bring steak to room temperature.

Lightly salt, but liberally pepper one side of the meat.  When grill is ready, place steak, seasoned side down over hottest part of grill.  After three minutes, season the top side and then flip it. Cook another three minutes.

Depending upon your preferred degree of doneness and the thickness of the steak, your meat may be ready if you like it rare.  If it is exceptionally thick or large, move it to the cooler side of the grill and cook to desired doneness, flipping once more if need be.

The object here is to have a nicely seared exterior but a juicy (and, in my case red) interior.

Remove from grill, rub each side with the cut garlic and drizzle a little very good olive oil and/or lemon juice over the meat and serve. For presentation, the meat can be cut from the bone and neatly parsed in to ¼ inch slices for easier serving.  Serves one hearty beef eater or two to three regular folks.