This is a partial batch. Four small chicken thighs. They're very good thighs, their bones broken and pressure cooked to extract every gram of available flavor, and man, does that ever make a difference. One regular size russet potato and one leek. One garlic clove and one cereal bowl of wet dumpling mixture of flour, corn meal, salt and milk. I forgot to add bay leaf and I forgot to add sage and it's still very flavorful without them. No celery and no carrot, but a few flowerets of broccoli to compensate. It tastes very good. I ate two of these bowls and there is still half leftover for tomorrow.
This is finely ground white cornmeal known to southern American cooks as grits. So then, this is breakfast grits with the elements of a regular breakfast mixed into it.
I must say, it is extraordinary. And I can safely bet that you've never tasted anything like it. I would proudly serve this to anyone, any connoisseur at any station of life, any class of person, for any occasion whatsoever. Except an American politician because none of those people deserve anything this great. It would be especially practical for camping because the entire breakfast is right here. And it will not leave you hungry again within a few hours.
It's success is due to a few key factors.
* Great ground corn. Do not use standard grits or mass produced cornmeal. You will not get these results. This ground corn is from Anson Mills but it needn't be this particular. They sell only corn that is ground the day of departure and from heirloom grain that is sent to you and at home it is stored frozen to keep its freshness. All that makes a gigantic difference. There is simply no way for larger commercial mills to be this particular, this persnickety, about their massive amounts of corn that they process and send off by various means that encounter various forms of storage for various lengths of time. They cannot control time and what happens to milled corn over time. It is not possible.
You can come very close to this by grinding popcorn seeds yourself at home using an electric coffee mill each time you make this. It is a fine second choice and much less expensive. Try it, you'll be astonished at the difference it makes.
* The bacon is top quality, frozen for storage and torn into pieces with each use. It fries quickly and separately and held to add at the end. You can actually use the same pot. Any compromise will be noticeable. Just forget all those packages of regular bacon, skip the entire row, and go straight to the deli section. You'll never go back to the regular stuff. You'll never be standing there deciding.
* I used Hatch chiles that are marketed around here this time of year while fresh poblano or jalapeños are fine. Roasting them first will enhance the chile experience considerably. It's how Mexican cooks treat their chiles and you must admit they know a thing or two about handling chile peppers. No other country's cooks come close.
* Butter. If you taste-test as you go then you'll realize immediately how much butter affects polenta. It's like putting butter on corn on the cob. In southern states white grits come to the breakfast table blank as a pile of white sludge or in a little ramekin and the first thing that customers do is pop a pat of butter smack in the middle and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. If I served southern customers this breakfast grits it would blow their southern minds. And I mean it. No exaggeration here, just natural and honest fact.
* The cheese is very good quality. Again, deli cheese brought here from Wisconsin. Honestly I think nearly anything will do, even the creamy cheese used for tortilla dips seen in jars. This cheddar cheese is outstanding. Added off the heat so that residual heat causes it to melt without separating.
* Parts of an egg cook at different temperatures. The white of an egg is two types. The first more liquid portion of opaque white denatures at 140℉ and begins to harden turns solid while the yolk begins to denature and harden at 160℉, now, these temperatures are well below the temperature of boiling water. So the egg is stirred in rapidly disallowing it to solidify. The longer it's stirred at higher temperature then the stiffer the entire contents will become. And you don't want that. You do not want the egg to solidify. Keeping it liquid while thickening is key. You stand there and control how stiff your want your creamed egg to become. That means stand there and stir it and make sure that it doesn't reach boiling temperature, you watch it thicken as you go. At this point the entire pot should not be boiling.
Those are the tricks. No tricks at all, actually, just advanced food knowledge. But nobody ever listens. And that's why nobody comes close to how fantastic this is. It's why people who come around here regard me food genius when I'm nothing of the sort. I've just mastered a few key techniques. Evident here. And that's all.
This is actually sweet because of the corn. It's smooth and soft by long cooking on low heat. It's like the best pudding ever. And I do not understand so I cannot explain why its excellence has not already swept the entire world craving for something simple and great.
Vegetables seared on high heat in butter with lid on the pan removed to a serving plate
Steak seared on high heat one side, then flipped and pan placed in preheated oven to finish.
Start with a room temperature steak.
Now, this is the method that chefs use, a short strong sear on harsh direct stovetop heat and finished with soft surrounding indirect heat in the oven, both for less time than you'd imagine. Stovetop imagine your own hand being tortuously branded as cattle with a hot iron until you cannot stand the thought anymore and that tends to get you to remove it more quickly than not imagining that personal pain. Shut of the oven and the stovetop so no more electric heat. You must stand there and don't do anything else. It all goes very quickly and that soft oven heat counts for a resting period because everything is calming down when the steak is flipped.
* sweet potato baked 3/4 done
Both sliced thinly
* brown sugar heated in microwave
* water to thin
* corn starch to adjust
* cayenne pepper
* corn starch to adjust thickness
back into microwave
back into oven to finish
baste with juice once or twice
The leek is dirty and must be opened, soaked and cleaned.
This bacon is unbelievably good. Its smokey flavor permeates everything it touches flavoring every element pleasantly.
The bacon is removed from the pan with the rendered fat retained. Additional butter is added.
Milk is included without any thickener. The cheese is added in pieces with the heat turned off to that it doesn't separate. It melts and thickens into a light sauce carrying all the flavors added.
Credit where it is due. Wisconsinites sure do know how to make fantastic cheese. This is aged cheddar and just eating it by the slice is an experience. I want moar!
This would make an impressive side. Here it is lunch.
The cubed potato was precooked. It's half a cubed boiled russet left over.
The leek is dirty and rather old, the outside leaves withered and discarded.
I had corn on the cob but it languished in the crisper too long so it was tossed and a pantry tin opened instead
The jalapeño is another pantry tin, not fresh.
The bacon is excellent, frozen for storage. That doesn't hurt it one bit.
The cheese is top quality, sliced, intended for sandwiches.
Usually you would make a sauce from a roux but I did not do that. Just heated milk and cheese.
Edit: I forgot to mention that I was unsure if this particular Mexican style cheese, campesino (farmer) cheese is a type that melts. Not all of the white Mexican cheese do. Fresh type crumbles. It's why I bought this remarkably inexpensive pepper jack as back up. They're both large chunks and both inexpensive, actually.
The two pans below are showing the cheese actually does melt. And the fried version has more flavor than the non fried version. My opinion is the pepper jack cheese is more flavorful and better for this than the more authentic Mexican cheese. But we're so far removed from authenticity by using Asian egg roll wrappers that it hardly matters at this point.
These things need to be sealed completely. They're deep fried in oil. A leak causes a spattering mess. Three of these developed a tragic hole as they dried so they are double wrapped. It hardly matters as the wraps are so thin. This time I used only water with the corn starch that comes with the wrappers as glue. But it's better to mix in additional corn starch with the water to help assure a good seal.
Also these are smaller than usual, although larger than when using won ton wrappers. The hatch chili peppers I used are smaller than normal. Usually chile rellenos use poblano chiles that are larger. You can find them in the Mexican section in rather large tins. If they're not hot enough to suit you then you can add a bit of diced jalapeño to enhance the heat.
They're basically the same thing as jalapeño poppers except these are larger than jalapeños and hotter too. That was my choice this time, and it might have been a mistake.
These are not traditional. Not the real thing. But they sure are easy and they sure are good.
I used hot Hatch chile peppers and while each one individually is fine and satisfying, after five of them in a row my tongue is uncomfortable, feels tortured and damaged. But nothing that a pint and a half of milk doesn't ease.
I wonder why this doesn't look better. It's very good. The thick white parts near the core are crunchy.
* rice vinegar
* brown sugar
* soy sauce
* red chile pepper flakes.
Bacon would have been good too, and different cabbage would improve it as well. Now my apartment smells.
* 46 second YouTube video, how to use kombu
* 2 minute YouTube video, how to use bonito flakes
Incidentally, I saw both kombu and bonito at Whole Foods store, and not the large one in Cherry Creek, but the smaller one on Washington. I wouldn't be surprised if the one on 11th has it too.
They also have daikon radish and you don't see that anywhere else except the Asian markets.
After seeing the bonito video I thought, rats, I do have tofu tucked in the back of the refrigerator. But the potatoes boiled earlier today are fine.
I never see a portion of the kombu cut into noodle-like strips and added back and I don't know why. The texture is excellent, not exactly rubbery, but somewhat resistant, more interesting than al dente pasta. And it is delicious. Also, I boiled mine. I wonder why they treat it so delicately like tea. I like to see the water change color and have it impart more of its seaside flavor. It's a wonderful ingredient.
Here I used azuki bean miso so it's a bit darker.
Man, I'm telling you, scarf this and be filled and six hours later you're hungry all over again. It's like a never ending cycle.
The sourdough is pan fried, not toasted. I don't like that toaster anymore. It dries out bread and the slightest little imperceptible puff of smoke, or maybe heat, or maybe smell, sets off the alarm.
This is the largest chunk of ahi that I've ever purchased. Tony's offered it on sale for a very good price, especially for them. I already bought 1/2 LB from the regular grocery store. This is over 2.5 LBS and at least one grade better quality. I couldn't resist.
A sauce is prepared from scratch and corrected for taste as I go.
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 1 tablespoon sugar
So, sweet/sour right there.
* 2 tablespoons soy sauce (shoyu)
So salty flavor right there
* 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish (this is the exact same thing as wasabi)
So hotness right there
1/4 teaspoon powder ginger
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
So, what the heck, right there.
* water to thin it all out.
The sauce needed more sweetness so,
* 1 teaspoon raspberry preserves is added.
This keeps the apple from oxidizing and turning brown, by turning it brown with soy sauce. Either way, the apple still turns brown.
Steamed rice is spooned on top of the salad and sauce.
These toast rapidly. You must stand there and shake them the whole time.
An individualized form of poke. Whoever puts apple in their poke? I do. When it's all that I have around. What, is a Hawaiian going to come over here and challenge me or something when all poke is individualized? This is very good. If you like raw tuna then you will like this.
*Cartman voice* Respect mah creativitah!
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