Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Smoked Beef Ribs

Ok so this is another smoker recipe, and if you scroll down the page pretty much the last recipe I posted was a smoker recipe, and I don’t want to come across like a smoker show off, but I do have a smoker and I’ve been smoking stuff so I thought I’d tell you about it... again... because it is better than telling you about either nothing, or a bad apple risotto that seemed like a good idea but wasn’t...

I was given the Pitt Cue cookbook as a belated birthday present recently. It tells the story of Pitt Cue’s evolution from a trailer on the South Bank to their own little restaurant in Soho, building their own smokers and devising their own rubs, sauces and smoking techniques. These days they are even farming their own Pitt Pigs, I’d love my own pigs... It’s a canny little tale and is full of amazing looking smoked stuff.

Only it is DEAD complicated. I want to make the ‘Mother Sauce’ but to do that I have to first make beef stock and pork stock, fresh. I’d like to make the BBQ sauce to go with my lovely beef rib, but first I need to make a spice mix AND homemade Chipotle ketchup... I make a lot of stuff from scratch but this seems a bit of a faff on. They probably don’t expect people to make most of the things, but that makes me want to give it a go... The drinks and pickles look a bit more accessible. So  I improvised, missed some steps out and sacked off the BBQ sauce and ended up with a bloody lovely beef rib rack...

I made their ‘House Rub’, there’s enough to rub a house, so make a half or a quarter of this if you only have one piece of meat like I did. It comprised of 10g of fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, toasted in a dry pan for a few minutes, then ground up in a pestle and mortar. Add to a large bowl 100g of soft brown sugar, 50g granulated sugar, 10g garlic powder, 100g of fine salt, 15g of smoked paprika, 30g of regular paprika, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. I threw in some mustard powder too... See, it’s a LOT of stuff. Mix it all together and you have your rub...

The beef was a lovely 4 bone beef rib rack from Charlotte’s butchery, which I covered all over in every nook and cranny with the rub. It was enough for four people, or two if you're really greedy, we just ate it for two days.

So we set Mr. Smokerson up, charcoal burning nice and white, water bowl in, temperature hanging around 110°C or 230°F, put the little metal box of wood chips onto the coals and in went the rib, not to be seen again for 6 hours, so we went for a walk. There is a massive bit of fat that runs through the middle of the rib that keeps it really moist but also has to break down so takes some time. When it is done the meat pulls away from the bone and is soft, sticky, smoky and delicious. We had it with mustardy coleslaw, lentils done like baked beans and some buttery polenta, perhaps an odd mix, but a pretty tasty one...

Exciting announcement coming soon...

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Autumn Graze 2013

Sunday 20th October - The Cumberland Arms - 12noon - 5pm - FREE ENTRY

Autumn Graze is back! This year bigger and better than ever... The Cumberland Arms plays host to over 20 stalls of local food and drinks for you to feast on, oh and they will be holding a beer festival too! Tasty stalls of local food, talented chefs cooking away, hundreds of beers to choose from, music and a sunny autumnal day (hopefully). Tempted? The current line up is a bit special so make sure you come along hungry!

The Cumberland’s Autumn Beer Festival will also be on, with 30 cask ales, 20 specialty ciders and 10 keg beers, plus an array of bottled gems from local breweries.

I've heard tell of Braised game pies with elderberry Jelly, Blaydon Burn short horn hot salt beef with beetroot and horseradish, short horn scotch pies, lamb tagines and much more, I'll keep you posted!

Here's the Line Up:

Utter Swine . Yummy Things . Elephant Street Food . Monsieur Crepe . Electric East . Sachins . The Feathers Inn . Pizzette . Teasy does it . The French Oven . McKennas . David Kennedy . Ouseburn Coffee Company . Papaganoush . Eclectic Picnic . Riverford Organics . The Millers Daughter . La Petite Creperie . Carruthers and Kent .

Free Parking is available in the Ouseburn car park off Foundry Lane.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Rosehip Syrup

I’ve wanted to try making something with rosehips for ages, the hedges around my office in the Ouseburn are packed with blackberries, rosehips and elderberries at the moment, and I’ve been starting to get anxious that they would be gone before I had a chance to experiment. It’s been a busy few months with lots and lots of dining events, but I have finally found time.

I picked a bag of rosehips one night when I left the office and headed home to experiment. I have a lovely preserves book by Pam Corbin, which has all the answers with what to do with autumnal berries. Rosehips are packed with vitamins A and C, you can make jams, jellies, wine and tea with them and this syrup, which I might use for puddings at some point, but I’m much more likely to use for cocktails...

I knocked up a big bottle full for the guys at Ouseburn Coffee Company, who made a prosecco, rosehip syrup and coffee vodka cocktail for Urban Night Feast... They made me try it at 10am the other morning... it was bloody lovely, but not the hour for vodka and prosecco, one sip went straight to my head!

I’m thinking Gin, soda and Rosehip Syrup... Just with water it is lovely as a cordial, or with soda, you can also have it with hot water as a warming winter drink. I’ve also got ideas that it might be nice in a posset, rosehip and blackberry posset, I’ll have to try that asap...

I probably had about three large handfuls of hips, about 500g. Wash them carefully, getting rid of dirt, chaff and bugs. Then blitz in a food processor until quite fine and add to a pan of about 800ml of boiling water. Bring back to the boil briefly and then let them sit for about 15 minutes. Then pour through a jelly bag or muslin, or as I improvised kitchen roll over a sieve... Then leave to drip for an hour.

Then repeat the process by adding the pulp back to another 800ml of boiling water, bring back to the boil, then the recipe says to let it sit for another 15 minutes, but I let one batch sit overnight and got a much stronger syrup, so leave as long as you can. Then drain again for an hour.

Finally combine both lots of strained juice, it should be about 900ml, pour into a pan and add 600g of granulated sugar and heat until dissolved. Boil for 3 minutes then pour into a sterilised bottle or jars. It will keep for about 4 months.

I’ll keep you posted on my cocktail experiments... mmm...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Smoked Brisket with Beans and Mash

I’m reading ‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan at the moment. It is a huge beautiful hard back book, that wasn’t really the best choice to take on holiday as it barely fits in my bag, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s not a cook book, more a commentary on what cooking means and why people cook. It looks at the current fascination with food and watching people cook on tv, noting the fact that, apparently, people are now cooking less than ever. It suggests that cooking makes us who we are and defines us from other animals and describes how civilisation has evolved as we learnt how to use fire, cook in pots that held water and to ferment. It is part history, part chemistry, physics, aesthetics, psychology, anthropology, religion... and quite a bit Barbecue.

Michael heads deep into America, in the chapter entitled ‘Fire’ to learn how to Barbecue, a process hugely debated across the States; what is Barbecue? Who is authentic? Who isn’t? You can’t Barbecue a chicken apparently, only pork; only an entire pig in some states. He finds the so called king, pit-master Ed Mitchell who teaches him the process of slow BBQ, whole hogs cooked slowly overnight till the fat breaks down in huge smoking chambers with walls of coals and wood built up around the hog to cook it evenly. Then, chopped and seasoned, all of the beautiful, soft, smoked meat is mixed until there is a bit of every cut in every bite - shards of crackling finely chopped and mixed through the meat, it sounds amazing. Every state seems to differ; dry rubs, BBQ sauce, variety of hog, length of cooking, serving, and they all say the other is wrong...

Well, god knows what they would make of me and my little smoker in the back yard, but I’ve had him out again, and until I find somewhere to build one big enough for a whole pig I’m just going to have to stick to more manageable cuts of meat. There was a bit of brisket at Charlotte’s Butchers that looked lovely, so began the idea.

I made a dry rub from paprika, garlic powder, mustard powder, mixed dried herbs, black pepper, sugar and salt, about a teaspoon of each. Sprinkle it all over the meat and then leave in the fridge for an hour or so, or overnight if you’re organised.

Then it was just a case of getting Mr. Smokerson ready - up to temperature at about 250°F, a bottle of beer in the water bowl and a box of apple and hickory wood onto the coals. The brisket then smoked for about 4 hours. Mr. Smokerson keeps a fairly steady temperature for 4-5 hours usually, the water bowl and sealed smoker enables you to keep a low steady temperature as opposed to cooking with a ‘normal BBQ’, over charcoal... a process Ed strongly laments.

Such a delicious smoky meat, moist in the middle, with soft fatty bits and a sticky smoked crust. I served it with homemade baked beans and mash. So good, I don’t think it would win any points with the pit-master but it went down a treat in my house.