My husband’s meat market binge…

…turned out delicious.¬† ūüôā

Okay, I know I haven’t blogged in…well…months.¬† Did I mention I’m a retail manager?¬† November/December/January are a little nuts for me at work.¬†

We’ve been cooking – you know, that’s how I blow off steam! – but not taking many pics and definitely not blogging about it.¬†

But yesterday…my dear hubby, meaning well, stopped at a local meat market on his way home from work.¬†¬† He meant well.¬† He didn’t know I had already planned my Sunday off as a day full of lounging in my bathrobe and slippers, ordering pizza from that great place around the corner where everyone from the order-taker to the delivery guy¬†is Asian¬†and the pizza is totally awesome.¬†¬†

He had the best intentions.  And then he experienced his first meat market.  And went a little nuts.

Fortunately, the ground elk was already frozen in one-pound chunks, so it went directly in the freezer with the 35+ pounds of roasted Hatch chile peppers that live there.¬† I’m sure at some point they’ll merge into something delish.

The venison sausage, all $27 of it?¬† (That’s a basketball-sized chunk of sausage links, by the way.)¬† He hasn’t yet been able to articulate his intentions toward the sausage, but it seems to involve grilling at some point.¬†¬†The paper-wrapped monstrosity is¬†squatting on the bottom shelf of the fridge for now.

Then…there were the ribs.¬† Beef AND pork ribs.¬† And he bought (this is a direct quote), “four of each”.¬† So we have four huge pork ribs of unknown specific cut, and a chunk of beef with bones that he can’t exactly identify, but ‘ribs’ was definitely in the name.

Pork on the left, beef on the right

And there goes the day in the robe and slippers, just like that.  Because we have to find stuff to do with the ribs.

It started, of course, with foodnetwork.com.  And then making up our own stuff because nothing really fit what we wanted to do.  So he made a wet marinade for the beef ribs, and I made a dry rub for the pork ribs.  And we left them in the fridge.

We drove through Arby’s for a snack on the way to the SPCA (I know, that’s a HUGE non-sequitur).¬† My birthday is in 2 weeks and all I’ve asked for is a kitten (to accompany the 4 cats we already have).¬† They’re SO cute when they’re little and fuzzy…

After failing to fall irrevocably in love with 3 kittens in a row (and feeling guilty about rejecting each one), we headed for the grocery store.  You know by now, hopefully, how much I adore my dear hubby.  But he DOES leave the shopping cart in the middle of the aisle.  Repeatedly. 

I don’t understand it.¬† But I love him still.

We survived the grocery store, and were still speaking while we unloaded the groceries.

German potato salad...it has BACON!!!

We had chosen four new recipes for tonight’s meal, without any dishes we’d ever made before.¬† The menu: grilled dry-rubbed pork ribs with spicy jalapeno-honey relish; beef ribs with grilled pineapple-habanero sauce and chile oil; German potato salad; and apple/poppy seed slaw.

I’ll post recipes later.¬† For now, I’ll just say…the food rocked.¬† And it was good to get back in the kitchen with the hubby.¬†

The new mandoline is awesome!

And I LOVE my new kitchen toys!¬† Santa brought me a mandoline, a chef’s knife, and an immersion blender.

Santa outdid himself this year.¬† You should really taste these ribs…

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This is Not Health Food

The hubby says he wants me to cook healthier.

I’m against it.

We can eat healthy when we eat out.  I keep salad in the fridge for lunches.  We can cut our portion sizes and exercise more.  Whatever it takes.

I cook because I love it.¬† And if I can’t use butter and bacon and lard and tons of cheese, what’s the point?

This meal is a great example.¬† And while¬†the hub¬†was slurping the meaty, rich au jus off his wrist after it ran down his fingers, he wasn’t complaining about the calories.

The meal: Texas cheesesteak smothered in caramelized onions, mushrooms, and peppers topped with aged Provolone and a creamy horseradish sauce on a ciabatta roll, with homemade au jus for dipping.  Rosemary roasted red potatoes loaded with Oaxaca cheese, bacon, and green onions.  And a stirfry of snap peas, red bell pepper, and mushrooms with fresh herbs, because there has to be something green on the plate.  My veggies lay there, untouched and lonely, while I devoured the sandwich and potatoes. 

This is hands down one of my favorite meals that I’ve ever cooked.¬† And I’m not much of a sandwich girl.¬† It’s the au jus that does it for me, for sure…I could drink the stuff with a spoon!¬† I’ve always used the little packets for au jus, because making something like that from scratch was intimidating.¬† But I couldn’t write about carefully tearing off the top of the brightly-colored paper packet, whisking the contents into a saucepan of water, and simmering for two minutes!¬† A new culinary age has dawned and we don’t use those packets anymore.¬†

Well, not unless we’re in a hurry or desperate.

So I called up my old friend foodnetwork.com and started searching, and sure enough, Rachael Ray had a recipe for au jus that doesn’t involve roasting an entire side of beef just for a little stock.¬† I’m still not quite up to making my own stock yet, mostly because it involves planning ahead too much and I’m pretty spontaneous.

And for the horseradish sauce…I’ve always used the jarred, prepared horseradish, but remembered vaguely that there is such a thing as ‘fresh’ horseradish.¬† So I went looking for that in the produce section of my grocery store.¬†¬†About ‘my’ grocery store – they’re ‘mine’ because I always go to the same one, I’m there at least 4 times a week, and they know me there.¬† I get hugs from the sweet old greeter guys at the front door and the produce guys always bring me fresh basil from the cooler without me asking.¬† I have an open invitation to work in the store’s demo kitchen if I ever need¬†a second job.¬† It’s cool.

While I was there…I grabbed one of the little paper au jus packets…just in case.

So without further ado…the recipes.

Horseradish cream sauce:

Horseradish in its natural state - scary!

Sour cream
Grated fresh horseradish (it took a lot more than I expected…maybe 3 parts sour cream to 1 part horseradish?¬† Just keep adding a little at a time until you like it)
1 spoonful Dijon mustard
A couple splashes of white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

To prepare the horseradish, use a vegetable peeler to take off the barky peel.  Trim off any brown spots, then cut a manageable chunk and grate as much as you need.

Combine all your ingredients, stir, and adjust to taste.  I kept adding more horseradish; it took a lot to get it spicy enough for us.

Au Jus: (courtesy of Rachael Ray)

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 jigger dry sherry, optional (I used a healthy splash of cooking sherry)
2 cans beef consomme, found on broth and soups aisle

In a large, shallow skillet over moderate heat, melt butter.  Add shallots to butter and saute 2 minutes.  Add flour and cook a minute longer.  Whisk in sherry and cook liquid out.  Whisk in consomme in a slow stream.  Bring sauce to a bubble and allow to simmer over low heat until ready to serve sandwiches.

That’s all there is to it!¬† And this stuff is a.ma.zing.¬† I can’t believe I ever used those nasty little packets of dried crap!!

Caramelized Veggies:

Thinly slice a sweet onion, some mushrooms, a seeded jalapeno, and a poblano pepper.¬† Heat a hunk of lard in a cast iron skillet (I told you this wasn’t a healthy meal!) to almost smoking.¬† Add your veggies carefully (this stuff pops!) and stir.¬† Cook for a couple of minutes, until they start wilting, and add a couple dashes of worchestershire sauce, salt & pepper,¬†and a big pat of butter.¬† Keep cooking until soft and caramelized, 5 to 10 minutes.

Assembly:

I bought 3/4 pound of seasoned roast beef, sliced thin.  Toast your rolls lightly (I used ciabatta rolls, but you could do hoagie buns or french bread or whatever).  Dip your roast beef slices in the pan of au jus for a few seconds, then layer them onto the toasted rolls.  Top generously with caramelized veggies, then add a slice of aged Provolone cheese (or whatever kind you like).  Put in the oven at 350 degrees or so, open-faced, until cheese melts, just a couple of minutes.  Add creamy horseradish sauce to top buns and serve with au jus for dipping.

The hub and I could only eat half our sandwiches during dinner…but by bedtime we had both polished off the other half (well, I just picked the meat & veggies out and dipped them in the jus) and were wishing there were leftovers.

Loaded Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes:

Ready for the oven

Cut 8-10 small red potatoes into small, uniform pieces and put on a baking sheet.  Finely chop fresh rosemary and put in a small bowl.  Add salt, pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder, then pour in olive oil to make a thin paste.  Pour over the potatoes and toss to coat.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes, tossing halfway through.

Grate your favorite melting cheese (we had Oaxaca in the fridge) and sprinkle liberally over the potatoes.  Add roughly chopped bacon and put back in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese.  Take out and add chopped green onions. 

Oooh, don’t forget to try dipping the potatoes in the au jus!¬† Foodgasm…¬†

Veggie Stir-Fry:

This is my old stand-by when I need a vegetable component to complete a meal; it takes no time and can use lots of different ingredients depending on what you have on hand.  This particular night it was:

1/2 a red bell pepper, cut into medium pieces
Stringless sugar snap peas
Mushrooms
Fresh garlic
Fresh rosemary & thyme, finely chopped

Heat olive oil in a skillet or wok, then add garlic.  After 30 seconds or so, add veggies and toss.  Cook for a couple of minutes and add a generous pat of butter and the herbs.  Cook until tender but crisp, 3 to 5 more minutes.

Though the meal wasn’t healthy by any stretch, it was darned tasty.¬† And we’re in Texas, after all.

Yee haw.