Cuisine

Where does that cut come from?

Wikipedia has some great new diagrams showing where the cuts of meat come from, which every home cook should endeavor to learn the difference in where various parts come from on the animals, so as to use them to their full advantage and to save costs where possible:

Beef and veal

Veal and mutton

Pork and bacon

A note about cooking meat, always allow the meat to come to room temperature for an hour or so before cooking.  This is an important step, regardless of whether you are sauteing or grilling, as it allows the outside to sear and brown, without the inside still being at a much colder temperature from the refrigerator. Always season meat before and during cooking, as salt has water extraction properties, bringing “sweat” to the surface.  You want the meat to seal quickly, keeping in its juiciest flavors.  If you overcrowd a pan, it loses heat and the meat steams versus sears.  The same is true for the grill.  Resting after cooking, especially with larger pieces of meats or birds, is very important, at is allows the meat to relax again and absorb the juices rather than having them cut from the pores onto the plate.  Rest birds with the breast down, or meat cuts with the fat up, to allow the juices to flow back into the meat.  Tenting with aluminum foil is common, but often unnecessary.

By |May 20th, 2012|Cuisine|Comments Off on Where does that cut come from?

Table Etiqutte in France vs. USA

Letitia Baldridge, author of over a dozen books, has just ruined my world, though I spent a weekend in etiquette lessons with her in 1992, which apparently didn’t fully take. She apparently is very clear on the rule of passing foods counter-clockwise at the table, although I grew up with a rule of clockwise at our house.  Could the French rule be different or was I just mistaken? I made the mistake of assuming that my table manners would come with me across the pond as naturally as my BBC accent did. The years of my mother’s training in the home were followed by etiquette classes in college, and I felt quite at ease in a formal dining environment. Apparently, we were wrong all these years, as I see no support for a French deviation from the US rule.  It turns out Letitia Baldridge is right on both sides of the pond.

I knew the first French rule, “Keep your hands on the table.”  Even occasional elbows were permitted in France, contrary to etiquette rules in the Southern states. The next rule in the US is false in France:  You should place your napkin in your lap immediately after being seated.  Once the lady of the house places her napkin in her lap, other guests should follow suit.  A few other distinctions are worth noting. Your bread should go in the upper left edge of your plate. False. Bread is placed directly on the table or tablecloth, unless it is a formal meal in which bread plates are used. When the aperitif is served, you wait for the host to give the toast before drinking.  You should wait for the host to lead the way, […]

By |May 19th, 2012|Cuisine|Comments Off on Table Etiqutte in France vs. USA

The Polo Player’s Annual Foxhunting Braai

While polo is played in South Africa, they have no mounted foxhunting there, so why we have a South African braai after foxhunting, put on by the polo players in the hunt, is a bit hard to explain.  In any event, it’s become the best “hunt breakfast”of the year, and since none of our hunt “breakfasts” are served before lunch time, this is also hard to explain why we call them such.  This description adapted from Wikipedia:

A braai is imilar to a potluck party, this is a social event which is casual and laid-back, where family and friends converge on a picnic spot or someone’s home (normally the garden or verandah) with their own meat, salad, or side dish in hand. Meats are the star of the South African braai. They typically include boerewors, sosaties, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks, sausages of different flavors and thickness, and possibly even a rack or two of spareribs. Fish and rock lobster commonly called “crayfish” or kreef in Afrikaans, are also popular in coastal areas to add to the braai.

The other main part of the meal in some regions of the country is pap (/ˈpɑːp/, meaning porridge), actually a thickened porridge, or the krummelpap (“crumb porridge”), traditionally eaten with the meat. Made from finely ground corn/maize (similar to polenta), it is a staple of local African communities and may be eaten with a tomato and onion sauce, monkeygland sauce or the more spicy chakalaka (a/k/a trainsmash) at a braai.  The pap is cooked in a potjie pot, which is a cast iron kettle, typically with three legs made to sit on or near the fire side.

Biltong is also popular, which is cured meat, somewhat […]

By |May 2nd, 2012|Cuisine, Foxhunting, polo|Comments Off on The Polo Player’s Annual Foxhunting Braai

Not all Chickens are Alike!

In France and most of Europe, poussin are very popular and have been regularly available since the domesticated wild red jungle fowl. Poussin is the first stage of a chicken’s life (think veal).  Next is the poulet.  Then, mature females or hens are poules, and the mature males are coqs.  Typically, a European goes to market with a specific type of chicken in mind depending upon the recipe.  For instance, cooking an old rooster in wine for a long time, coq au vin.  Poule au pot, hen in the pot, requires a mature female to mature in the broth and vegetables.  Here the coq’s pronounced flavor would be a bit overwhelming.  In America, a capon is a reasonable substitute.  A capon is gelded male fed milk until 6 months.  The flesh is very white and, in France, the capon is traditionally served at Christmas.  For everyday roasting or other dry cooking, get a poulet, or pullet, for a bird that will be juicy and tender.  A poussin is the most tender, as they are only a month old and purely grain fed.
In the United States, fryers are birds of either sex up to 3 ½ pounds, then come roasters up to 5 pounds, and capons which range from 6-10 pounds.  Poussin can be ordered in the US from D’Artagnans.
I encourage you to buy your chickens whole, rather than in parts (as it is generally far less expensive and you’ll be rewarded with all those sauce-building pieces such as the wing tips, back neck and giblets.  It’s easy to learn how to spatchcock a chicken, all you need are kitchen shears and a sharp knife.
We through any extra meat such as the wing tips and back into a […]

By |November 27th, 2011|Cuisine, Fur and Feather, Recipes|Comments Off on Not all Chickens are Alike!
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    Hanging Game Birds – How to Hang a Pheasant – Resting Game

Hanging Game Birds – How to Hang a Pheasant – Resting Game

Gaminess is a level of intensity, from the feed and wildness of game being pursued by predators instead of being confined, that can be raised or lowered in cooking.  There is discussion among game aficionados that focus on how long game birds should be hunt or left to relax before being sufficiently tenderized.  Temperature is critical and it is best to hang game where the temperature does not fluctuate such as in a cold room, with a reasonable movement of air, away from flies.  Pigeons, ducks, and snipe do not seem to benefit from hanging.  Being raised in America, I have to confess that I cringed a bit when I initially encountered the way that they hung game birds for aging in France. Hanging pheasants and grouse in the feathers for days (or even a week or two) didn’t seem to comply with our modern standards of food hygiene and with bacterial contamination being nearly a daily feature in our newspapers even from FDA approved facilities.

Oh I know that old books go on about sublime flavor “high game.” But the French have it right and the rest of Europe and England nearly always follow this method as well.  While hanging, the natural enzymes begin to act on the fibers of the muscle meat, making them more relaxed and tender.

When you think about it, it makes sense.  Try eating a cow (or any big game animal) the following day after it is harvested—it’s nearly inedible, tough and chewy.  The carcass is hard and stiff, if you try to cut the meat at this point in time.  But even a few days of dry-aging it, allows the rigamortis which sets in immediately after killing the animal […]

By |November 22nd, 2011|Cuisine, Fur and Feather, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Hanging Game Birds – How to Hang a Pheasant – Resting Game

40 Years of Chez Panise – Book Review **** (4/5)

From Chez Panise

 

“France changed my life forever.  I knew I wanted to live the way my French friend did.  These were people who thought of good food as an indispensable part of live, for whom each day was punctuated by food-related decisions.  It went without saying that one had to get to the bakery early, to get a fresh, hot baguette; naturally one spent an hour or so in the afternoon in a café with one’s friends; and of course one only brought produce in season because that when it was least expensive and tasted best.  Eating together was the most important daily ritual in their lives, a critical and nonnegotiable time when the flavors and smells of roasted chickens and sizzling garlic, the crunch of crusty bread, and the taste of local wine drew out everyone’s  most passionate ideas and feelings.”

 

The same is true at the château where  “friends are always coming over for dinner and we are cooking our way collections of recipes from all kinds of people.  As with Chez Panisse, we also found that the people who were obsessive about growing the best-tasting produce were also concerned about the health of the soil, the welfare of beneficial insects and other animals, and the clarity of the water running off their fields.  They were interested in rediscovering older varieties that were harder to grow, and less prolific, but much tastier, and which brought a sense of continuity with the past to both their fields and our tables.

 

At dinners with good friends, we talked easily and at length about–everything!  The kitchen was a platonic ideal of a kitchen:  a fireplace in the corner, stacks of post, and marble mortars, shelves full of rare […]

By |October 23rd, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine|Comments Off on 40 Years of Chez Panise – Book Review **** (4/5)

Check out the new recipe pages

We have added recipes from our favorite travels, near and a far, on the Sporting Road.  As the Sporting Road is too vast to feature only French cooking, we have added some our favorite recipes discovered along the Sporting Road, from various cuisines.  Please check out our new pages:
Argentine Recipes
Asian Recipes
Hungarian Recipes
Moroccan Recipes
Spanish Recipes
 

By |October 11th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Travel|Comments Off on Check out the new recipe pages

Buy Local Honey

Alright so the jury is still out on whether local honey can cure mild, seasonal allergies, but no one can deny that it tastes better than filtered honey available at the supermarket.  So why not pick up a pint of local honey, it helps your local economies, and it just might be a magic tonic for mild and seasonal dust, mold and pollen allergies.  We think it is, but the scientific evidence is still out.

By |October 11th, 2011|Cuisine, Sweets|Comments Off on Buy Local Honey

International Adventures in Cuisine Along the Sporting Road

Recipes sometimes have as much to do with imagination as it is with flavor.  A dish is more than a collection of ingredients.  Ingredients come from food and food comes from somewhere.  That somewhere may be in the snow or the sun may be a sign of a particular season, and more often than not that somewhere may show through in the final dish.

Yet, with my cooking, as everything in life, I make comparisons and find it difficult to settle for second best.  I like dishes that are the best—or, at least the best of what that dish can be.  Hence, my life-long quest for adventures to find the best recipes and to replicate them in the kitchen, after days spent on the Sporting Road.  Because ultimately, no one cares where the ingredients come from, whether they are flown half-way round the world or grown in your own back yard, it simply comes down to this—do I like this or not?

Our friend in Paris pointed this out to me one time as I started to debate French pinot noirs with Californian ones.  I was arguing that the French ones are better and pointing out the balance of fruitiness, acidity and chalkiness that the French traditionally strive for in Bordeaux wines, while American wine makers often emphasize only the fruitiness.  He said he didn’t know enough about Californian Pinot Noirs to say.  And, he said, “There is no argument, when it comes to matters of taste.  Either you like it or you don’t?  It doesn’t matter if you can explain why, it doesn’t make it taste any better.”

Like with wine, food stuffs are affected by seasons, growing conditions, harvest times, the amount of water, the terroir, etc.,  and […]

By |October 9th, 2011|Cuisine, Recipes, Travel|Comments Off on International Adventures in Cuisine Along the Sporting Road

Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)

Hank Shaw is an award-winning journalist and makes his debut from his blogger’s guide to a book on foraging, fishing, hunting, simply entitled Hunt, Gather Cook–and makes the most of the fruits of a day spent gathering food in the field. His blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, has developed an avid following among outdoor people and foodies alike.

Hank Shaw’s blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, and which is more impressive than the book, can be found at: http://honest-food.net/

His poacher’s blog, which is also worthy of mention, despite his bad-form tactics, can be found at:  http://huntergathercook.typepad.com/

By |October 8th, 2011|Book Reviews, Cuisine, Fishing, Recipes, Wingshooting|Comments Off on Hunt, Gather, Cook (Book Review **** 4/5)