Monday, November 4, 2013

SKIRT STEAK!!!!



The improbable yet exquisite tasty Skirt Steak!!!!!  


Why do I refer to Skirt Steak as improbable? Well the skirt steak comes from the diaphragm of the cow and it is one tough piece of meat. Skirt steak prepared without these trade secrets will have you cursing and eating shoe leather.  Handle this marvelous piece of meat properly and you will never eat a filet again.  This is where beef lovers come to get their taste buds electrified.   Read on if you want to experience great BEEF!!!!

Skirt steak is a treasured piece of meat to the Asian and Mexican restaurants due to its taste and price. The price has gone up over the years due to it's popularity though.  This cut of meat has complex flavors that boasts deep rich beefy, fatty and juicy textures that is second to none except for the Rib-eye in my opinion. 

It is indeed a tough cut of meat and if not prepared or sliced properly you will have a miserable experience.  I can't say  about this cut of meat.  

There are two types of Skirt steak.  The outside and inside skirt steak. The outside skirt steak is extremely rare and about 90% gets exported to Japan. If you care to know the outside skirt is the diaphragm muscle of the cow cut from the plate.  The inside skirt steak is probably what you will come across in a store.  

BTW-Hanger steak  or Butchers steak is just another name  for Skirt steak.
  Again if you care the inside Skirt steak hangs from the diaphragm of the steer. The steak is attached to the spine and near the kidneys.  Oy,  glad we are done with that. 




I got my Skirt steak at the Business Costco. The Skirt steak came full of fat and with the membrane attached.  Not a big deal. Use a very sharp knife and remove the membrane and some of the excess fat without tearing up to much of the meat.  

This is a picture of the meat before trimming.  


This is a picture of the meat trimmed. As you can see there was a lot of fat and skin that had to be removed. Don't take off to much fat!!! All that fat will render down and contribute to the flavor. 


STEP BY STEP TRIMMING. 


Unfold the Skirt steak. Skirt steaks come in about 2 foot sections you and you want a large enough cutting board to accommodate. Have a very very sharp knife available for the trimming. You might consider cutting the steak in half which might be easier for you to handle. 


Using your very sharp knife slide it under the membrane and start pulling it away from the meat.  Be careful not to take to much fat.  Use your knife to avoid tearing. 



 Don't worry it take's a while to get use to the trimming.
Keep sliding your knife under the exposed fat being very careful not to cut to much fat away.  Do not over trim!!!! Fat equals flavor!!!

ALL DONE TRIMMING!!!










How do you season a Skirt Steak? 




 It doesn't really make that much of a difference.  What is extremely important is the way in which you cook your skirt steak.  Cook it the wrong way and you are eating shoe leather. 

If I had to point to one rule in cooking skirt steak it would be about heat. It would be intense, unyielding, incessant, tenacious extreme high heat!!! The heat of hell!!! Ok, I think I made my point about the heat in which you cook your steak.
Think for a moment how you cook a normal steak.  If you were to cook the steak on high high heat you would end up getting a black crispy puck before the center reached a Medium rare. Skirt steak has the opposite problem. It's so thin that unless you cook it over max heat, it'll be over cooked before you get a chance to develop a good sear on the exterior which is called the Maillard Reaction if you were curious. 



How do you Slice Skirt Steak!!

Like most inexpensive cuts of meats I.E Skirt steak, Flank Steak and Flat iron Steak its important to know how to slice it. After you have cooked your steak let it rest for about 10-15 minutes and slice against the grain.   


How to season Skirt Steak?

Rubs and marinades work well with Skirt steak.  Your rub can be anything but at a minimum you need salt and pepper.  If you choose a marinade or rub or both make sure your marinade contains some type of acid to help break down the meat.  I love dried spices!!   Cumin, Coriander  curry's, chili's and cinnamon work well with each-other   If you are going the Asian style choose garlic, lemon, ginger, lemon grass etc etc.  Of course green onion and cilantro works well no matter what.  Marinate skirt steak 
for minimum of two hours. 

Asian Marinade or Paste
1/4 c Sesame seed oil
1/4 c Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/4 c Rice wine vinegar
1/8 c Chili Oil(amount optional) 
1/8 c Fish Sauce
1/8 c minced Ginger(amount optional) 
5-10 cloves Garlic minced (amount optional) 
1/4 c Chinese 5 spice
1/4 sesame seeds. 
3 scallions chopped up
small handful of chopped cilantro
Some other nice options- onion powder, brown sugar, cloves, Anise, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, curry, lemon grass.  

Sauce to Accompany above dish
1 can Coconut Milk 13.5 ounce normal size
1/8 c sesame seed oil
1/8 c Fish Sauce
1/8 c Chili Oil
1/4 c Chinese 5 spice
1 Tbl minced ginger
3-5 Garlic cloves
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 c chopped Cilantro
3 scallions

Toss everything into blender and than heat on stove until warm and thick. 


Mexican Style
3 Tbl cumin
3 Tbl favorite Chili powder ( Ancho, pasilla, Chipotle,  combinations of all)
2 Tbl Salt
Pepper and Cayenne to taste
Cinamon
5-12 cloves of minced Garlic
1/2-3/4 cup canola oil
Zest and juice of several Limes. 




note- there are many over the counter premixed spice blends that are the bomb.  


INGREDIENTS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER



SAKE IS GREAT!!! Use it as a marinade or drink it.








TEQUILA GOES GREAT IN MARINADE!!!



















ANY OF THESE INGREDIENTS.


MAKE SURE TO ROAST OR HEAT UP YOUR DRIED CHILI'S
RE-HYDRATE IN HOT WATER. 



ROAST FRESH CHILI'S AND REMOVE SKIN.








ASIAN MARINADE











MEXICAN STYLE


My SouthWest Sweet and Savory Sauce is awesome....it was so good I made a separate blog just for it. 
My Asian Coconut Curry Sauce is best best Curry Sauce out there......Try it on your Skirt Steak.



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Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Immutable Meat-Loaf

Why immutable? Meat-Loaf has not changed and will not change.  Meat-Loaf is just a big hunk of meat that is roasted and sliced and served.  What makes meat-loafs different from others is surrounded by techniques and styles of cooking. 

Meat-Loaf in my opinion must be served with Mash potatoes and corn!! Of course bread and butter too. Did I forget gravy?  You gotta have gravy!!


Another important ingredient is my personal assistant Sophie.  Sophie is my beautiful daughter and without her help and insistent  desire for meat-loaf none of this would have been possible.

Meat-Loaf in my opinion is probably one of the easiest and hardest dishes to prepare. Easy because its just plain simple to make.  Mix up a bunch of ingredients roast in oven.  How hard can it be?  Well it depends on the ingredients I guess and some of the techniques to pull it off. 

 What ever ingredients you choose make sure they are the best and freshest.  I personally like to use combinations of meats.
 I roughly use 50% Angus beef 25% each of ground Lamb and Veal.  I use the different meats for their flavor.  I also use only 80% lean beef because extra fat adds extra flavor. 












Its important to chop up all of your ingredients nice and small.  Here I use carrots as an example. Notice their perfect size? 
So what's in my Meat-Loaf?  Besides the meat I keep it relatively simple.

Carrots, a couple of celery stalks, onions, garlic, green onion, fresh Thyme, Fresh Italian parsley, salt pepper and pepper, Italian bread crumbs, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Port Tawney, Parmesan Cheese and lots of eggs, ketchup and Balsamic Vinegar  I also added a non-salt seasoning I get from Costco that is just awesome. 



First thing I do is pre-chop all ingredients.  I use a little food processor for the Sun-dried Tomatoes and garlic. 

At different intervals I toss everything into a skillet and fry it all up.  I also add seasonings at this point too.  

I like layering all my spices so everything has flavor.

So lets review a bit. I Chop up the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, I add thyme, Salt and pepper and green onion

and saute until it's all caramelized. 



 I deglaze with the Tawney and cool off entirely before adding it to meat mixture.  


To the meat mixture I add in lots of eggs.  In this particular I recipe based on meat weight I added about 8 scrambled eggs initially but eventually added several more to gain the texture I was looking for.   



So after I added the eggs I added the now caramelized cooled vegetables. And mixed thoroughly by hand.   I of course had my trusty little daughter to help me with my mixing.  I chopped up my parsley and added it to the mixture.  



I also added at this time some Italian bread crumbs and some cheese.  The bread crumbs are needed for two reasons. 


The first reason is to give your Loaf texture and the second reason to absorb some of the liquids and retain moisture during and after cooking. 


After thoroughly mixing your loaf take a sampling and fry it up. This is one of those extremely important techniques that cannot be over looked or stressed enough.  This is your opportunity to adjust your seasonings.  So after you get it all adjusted you might find that the loaf is to loose or to dense.  Very easy fix!! Add some more bread crumbs, Port, eggs or even tomato paste.  Let your imagination go wild. 


Place Loaf in your roasting pan.  Make sure to chose a pan that can be place on the cook top so you can make a gravy.  Now form your loaf!!! 

The traditional topping for Meat-Loaf is ketchup and it's a great tradition.  I love ketchup and it still works great as a topping.  The only thing I do slightly different is to add a balsamic vinegar reduction to the ketchup and slather the the top of the loaf.  Oh before I add the Ketchup I add some additional seasonings to the top then slather on the concoction. 





How do you reduce balsamic vinegar? Just boil it off a bit and add to your ketchup.  



 Roast your Loaf in a 350 degree pre-heated oven.  Use an internal temperature probe and cook until the internal temp is 140 degrees.  Don't worry after you take it out the temp will continue to climb a bit.  The 140 degree temp is the other coveted technique that is a must!!! Let it rest about 20 minutes and serve it.  Don't forget to make a gravy.