Sunday, April 17, 2011

Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos

The sky has been so blue this week, breaking through a huge rainy spell, that I got the feeling for something a bit summery. I couldn't help it - so much snow and rain begin to wear you down. So I thought some tacos would fix the winter funk. And steak tacos are extra yummy.

Marinated Skirt Steak Tacos
1 skirt steak - about 1.5 pounds
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder, divided
Whole wheat tortillas
Low fat sour cream
Fresh broccoli slaw
Red onions
Shredded lettuce
Low fat shredded cheese
Karen's Salsa with Fresh Cilantro or Salsa Verde

Remove membrane from skirt steak. Marinate overnight in bag with juice, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, half of the cumin and ancho chili powder. Heat stovetop grill until it's nice and hot. Cut steak into manageable sizes and sear quickly for a couple of minutes on each side. Remove steak and let it rest. Sprinkle the remaining cumin and ancho powder on the meat. Slice thinly against the grain and serve on tortilla with your favorite taco fixings.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Braised Pork Shank

Recently I discovered a local treasure - Henry's Meat Market. After years of trying to cajole and coax the grocery store meat people to get me various cuts of meat, I can now sit back and relax. These people know their meat, and didn't mind getting me some fresh pork shanks to play with. I am happily no longer stuck with "the most popular selections". So before the warm weather hits and I get off my braising kick, I decided to try pork shanks. They aren't expensive, but take some low and slow cooking in liquid. The result is fantastic.

Braised Pork Shanks
3 pork shanks (sliced into 2 inch slices)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced into chunks
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups pork broth (or chicken)
4 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 F. In a large heavy pot, heat oil and brown shanks - two or three at a time on all sides. Remove from heat. Saute carrots, onions and celery until softened and just beginning to caramelize. Add wine to pot and deglaze all the cooked bits from the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Add broth and seasonings. Cover pot and place in oven for about three to three and one half hours. When shanks are fork tender, remove from pot and strain broth into a container for chilling. Return shanks and veggies to the pot and return to oven with the heat turned off. The residual heat of the oven will continue to cook the pork gently. Chill broth until you can remove the fat from the surface. (If you don't mind the extra fat, you can skip all of this and just thicken the broth and return it to the pot). If not, take the chilled de-fatted broth and reheat, adding the cornstarch and water mixture until just thick. Add the broth back into the pot and season to taste with salt or pepper. Serve shanks over veggies and drizzled with broth with a side of rice or barley grits.  This is a dish you would allow time for the meat to slowly cook, so be sure to start in the late morning on a weekend. Once it's in the oven it's a matter of letting the slow heat tenderize the meat.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Chinese Barbeque Pork

Char Siu
...or rather "Char Siu Done Light"
I have wandered around on this edible journey to a place where I didn't think I would find myself. I look at the many old recipes I have, and try to fit them into what I am now. I am different than when I started, both physically and mentally. Before I found a recipe and cooked it as it was. Now, I study it and try to transform it to fit what many have called a really strict set of rules. No matter, I say. If you won't be alive to eat in 10 years why bother eating now? And call me stubborn, I refuse to give in. And I refuse to give in to bad tasting food. If this is how I must eat to live, then by zinkies I am eating delicious stuff! 

Char Siu
1 1.5 pound pork tenderloin
1 tablespoon dark sweet soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon five spice powder
1/4 teaspoon red food coloring (optional)

Combine sauces, honey and seasoning in a large resealable bag. Place tenderloin in and marinate for twenty four hours. The next day, preheat your oven to 450 F. Drain tenderloin and roast the tenderloin in the oven until it reaches a temperature of 150 F. Let it sit for about 10 minutes. Slice and enjoy.

Traditionally, Char Siu is made with lovely spare ribs or pork belly with lots of sweet glaze. It is brushed with maltose to make it shine. My Char Siu is marinated in a sweet sauce, but most of it drains off before we cook it. The flavor penetrates the meat, but there is no sticky glaze encrusted layer of fat like the original. And if you don't overcook the tenderloin it is sweet and tender. And I have added the red food coloring because we also eat with our eyes, and any Chinese buffet addict like me would want that extra visual cue to complete the experience!