A whole bunch of nothing

It’s not that we haven’t been eating, we just haven’t been eating anything exciting. I haven’t even had to Food Network on, that is partly due to the fact that all they ever seem to be showing is Guy’s Grocery Games or Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Not that I haven’t gotten excellent ideas from the Diner show, it’s just that I don’t want to watch endless hours of it.

The Birthday dinner was almost exciting. We had a cowboy cut Rib-eye steak, scallops and crab stuffed mushrooms and the mushrooms were the thing that was new and interesting.

I was shopping at the Asian market and came across Blue Crabs that were on sale so I picked up a 2 pack. For those of you not familiar with Blue crabs let me share what I learned; Blue crabs are slightly smaller than King or Snow crabs, they are found in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico but are most popular in Maryland. And by slightly smaller I really mean that one needs a bushel of them to have anything of substance to eat! My paltry 2 pack yielded just enough meat to stuff 6 mushrooms! Thankfully there were only 3 people to feed the seafood to. That about sums up the excitement of the Birthday dinner.

Well, I guess I have done something new and different with brisket. I decided to treat my brisket more like a prime rib! I dry rubbed it with a mix of seasoned salt, granulated garlic, smoked paprika and a bit of Chinese 5 spice and cooked it over the liquid on the roasting rack instead of in it. I used 1 cup of veggie broth, 1 cup of beef broth, 1 cup of red wine and 1/2 cup each of balsamic vinegar and worchestire sauce with 2 sweet onions chopped up and added to the broth. I covered the pan with foil and cooked it at 215 for 5 hours and at 170 for an additional 2. The meat came out just as tender and flavorful as if I had cooked it in the liquid, the only difference was that it was easier to slice and less prone to just falling apart! The cooking liquid melded into a beautiful au jus that had much less fat that needed to be seperated but was just as delicious!!

So far we have had the brisket as a stand alone meal with sauteed green beans and mushrooms, as breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs and a white cheddar cheese, as chipped beef on toast topped with a fried egg and stirred into the risotto I made, which we will talk about next.

This round of risotto was a little different. I didn’t add any kind of fresh onion or use beef broth to round out the flavor. I had some bacon and spinach leftover from the quiche I made one night, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner, so I decided to go with a veggie and chicken broth combo. Before you get excited about all the broth I have on hand I will confess that my local market had 32 oz cartons of broth on sale for 98 cents each so I got 3 each of the beef, chicken and veg. I combined the chicken and veggie broth and added some garlic juice, because I am just too lazy to paste my own out. I also went with a more passive, low and slow cooking method for this batch as I was vacuuming the fan blades, wooden beams and shelves in my living room at the same time I was cooking. I don’t usually recommend a hands off approach to risotto but I had several things on my honey do list so I went out on a limb with dinner as it is much easier to order in a pizza than a ceiling fan if things go awry!

This batch of risotto got an even tastier start than normal because I used bacon grease to get the rice started instead of butter!! Yes, I am a good southern girl and I have a jar of bacon drippings that I keep in the fridge but this time I had fresh because I cooked bacon fresh to be crumbled and stirred in. Again I am lazy, I bake my bacon but I feel like I can get it crispier and make much less of a mess doing it that way and it keeps my stove top available for decent sized pots to heat the broth and craft the rice! I just have a 4 burner stove top with a teeny, tiny central burner that I have yet to find a small enough pot for so I have yet to use it. Anywhooo, back to the rice, I did notice that this time not only was I not chained to the stove but the rice cooked up cleaner and by cleaner I mean it was less gloopy and sticky. Now if you enjoy a thicker risotto then by all means keep to the medium low heat and constant stirring but if you would like a slightly lighter version than go with the low and slow walk away method which is starting the rice with twice as much liquid as you would usually start with and only coming back to stir every 5 or 6 minutes. This method actually cooked my rice in about 15 minutes less time and like I said had it less gloopy than normal. I was really hoping for a cleaner texture and was mostly excited to see that I had achieved it!! I don’t know if this bit made a difference but I added 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings for every cup of liquid that I added, I feel like it did but I can’t say definitively until I try it again but I really do think that the grease helped to cut down on the stickiness that happens with the regular cooking of the risotto.

Once I reached the perfect texture of the risotto I stirred in some fresh spinach that I had taken the stems off of and ripped the leaved into bite sized hunks along with 8 strips of bacon that I had crisped with the baking method. No cheese, no mushrooms, nothing heavy. Just the bacon and spinach. This batch of risotto came out so  that I perfect and light that I just may cook all of it this way!!

I am so very sorry that I haven’t been cooking anything to write home about and I pledge to do better!

I am also considering writing some just for info posts about the cuts of steaks and how to break down a chicken and the pluses and minuses of pork chops with bones. Basic things that we all think we know but it turns out that we don’t really know much about outside of things our parents or grandparents taught us. Things like why do we use a rump roast instead of a chuck roast and why a flat iorn steak is more tender than a new york strip and why rib eye has that vein of fat that runs thru and the most of it. Some of you may see this as filler content and you won’t be too far from wrong in feeling this way but not everyone knows the difference between the cuts and why some meat is used instead of others. I myself am always excited to hear a perspective that is not my own as I learn things or am led to think of things that the author doesn’t talk about or alludes to.

I am sorry for my long, long absence but I am committed to correcting even if it is with filler posts!

Happy Cooking!!

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