Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Find: GastroPub: Old Town Social Chicago

Recently I hit the legal age to run for the position of Commander in Chief. But instead of beginning a campaign for 2012, I went out to celebrate with Rebecca and our good friends Art and Chelsea (of Pleasant House fame). Old Town Social in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago has been on my list of places to check out for some time. I recently mentioned them in my Chicago Charcuterie posts here and here.  I had enjoyed some of their charcuterie at some local festivals, but had never been into the place.

As some of our favorite friends with whom to dine, these two were down with ordering a bunch of share-able items. It's actually pretty easy at OTS, because the menu is quite geared for sharing. We opted for the cheese platter, the charcuterie platter and the accoutrement platter. One thing I would have liked to be a bit different with these would have been the ability to select the items on the platters. Many places offer the choice to build your own when it comes to platters, but OTS has all three of their platters pre-selected. This isn't horrible, especially when one can be indecisive (like me), but tonight, I was in the mood to select!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Goodbye Ronald, hello homemade breakfast sausage!

I don't do fast food too often. My developed tastes and increased conscience have led me away from a one-time big-hitter in my culinary repertoire. But lately not many box restaurants can pull me in. The biggest winner for a long time has been Arby's. I just love their juicy roast beef sandwiches. My fave is still the Bacon, Beef and Cheddar. And I may never want to give it up. Especially when you pair it with their curly fries with more cheese sauce and a Mt. Dew. The only other thing that calls my name regularly is a sausage and cheese biscuit for breakfast from McD's. and at a buck, it so easy. So I decided to just start making these myself at home every week and microwaving one or two every morning. So sorry Ronald, the only thing you have left for me is your fries on special occasions!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bresaola, official wedding version.

Since the time restraints hit me harder than expected for the charcuterie for the wedding, I needed to choose wisely that which was going to grace the cheese and charcuterie table after the main courses were cleared at our May wedding. I had already done 30# of 'nduja that was well on its way to deliciousness. So I wanted something quick (less than a month), whole muscle (eye of the round) and something I was familiar with as to not take on too much in such short time. So I decided to redo the bresaola as a hybrid of the last versions I did here LotH. I was able to grab two pieces at about three pounds each. I did some basic trimming of the exterior to remove any silver-skin and tough spots. Then I split the two pieces down the center end-to-end so they could cure quickly and evenly.

I wanted to incorporate all the great things from both versions I made previously and leave out those that didn't seem a positive contribution. So for this version I gathered up some white wine, black peppercorns, juniper berries, bay leaves, fresh rosemary, minced garlic, lemon zest, orange zest, cure #2, salt and sugar. I cannot give the exact recipe at this moment because I am in the hospital while the recipe is at home, but I will included it later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A bump in the road.

When I started this blog I told myself that I must keep up to date with it. I didn't want to be another blog that got some people excited only to start to whimper off and fall into the rare-poster category. Some weeks I have had as many as three posts, but never less than a post a week. Not long ago I was even nervous about having a week post and ended up posting one or two more times that week. But last week was the first, and I hope last, time I didn't post at least that one time. And although some say excuses are for the weak, I'd say I have a pretty damned good one!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Round 2 'Nduja update.

So after the four days of fermentation in my chamber (oven) it was time to get some smoke onto these 32 'nduja monsters. The pH had dropped below 5.0 in the first 24 hours after stuffing and fermentation began, and was down to 4.6 in less than 48 hours so I felt good about food safety. I did a week straight of daily smoking with hickory wood. Because I don't have a cold smoker I simply waited for the full blast of smoke from my propane smoker to hit and threw these guys in and killed the gas, in two rounds, for 15-20 minutes a day. Everyday before I smoked them I cooled them down in my fridge for an hour beforehand and returned them for another hour to cool back down slightly. Each day our apartment smelled like the best smoky Slim-Jims you've never eaten. This was great for me, Rebecca wasn't so excited! After the week and a half of fermentation and smoking it was time to see their new home, my recently built drying rack at Emily and Henning's.