Tag Archives: brisket

GOODBYE TO CHILDHOOD

This week’s family Sunday dinner was different. I was excused from any cooking. The reason for the change of routine is that daughter Carol planned a very special dinner of all of her daughter’s favorite foods. Our oldest grandchild will be heading off to college this next week. She will be 2500 miles away on the East Coast so it is not likely she will get to enjoy Mom’s home cooking sooner than the holidays. Our granddaughter is very excited for this new adventure although she’s also a little anxious about the prospects of being so far from a “real beach.” An equal reality is that Mom will no longer get to cook for her daughter.

Here’s the menu: goat cheese, crackers and crudités, barbecued brisket, Hawaiian rolls,  “corny corn,”caprese salad, watermelon,  nectarine fruit salad, and red velvet cake for dessert. The meal was a huge success because everything on the menu is a family favorite. Carol used her own recipe for the brisket: she starts the meat on the stove in a Cameron smoker primed with wood chips, then transfers it to a slow oven for several hours, and then finishes it on the backyard grill.  I’ve written about Susan’s brisket recipe here. That recipe is easy and delicious. The brisket can be cut with a fork, and the juices can be turned into a fragrant, flavorful pan sauce. Carol’s “corny corn” is best made with fresh corn cut from the cob. The summer season is perfect for that. Corn cut from six ears is sautéed in six tablespoons of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper along with the juice and zest of two limes, mixed with a half cup of mayonnaise and about two cups of grated Cheddar cheese, topped with  a cup of toasted panko and more Cheddar and grated Parmesan cheese, and then browned under the broiler.   The salad was a caprese with slices of  mozzarella layered with basil and chunks of tomato from the farmers market. My granddaughter’s favorite ingredient in the salad is the balsamic vinegar. Chilled watermelon and a nectarine fruit salad were also on the buffet.  As if that was not enough food, there was still dessert. We’ve been enjoying red velvet cake, aka Waldorf Astoria cake, since days on the farm years ago when Aunt Mary regaled us with the story, undoubtedly apocryphal, of a friend who talked her waiter in the restaurant at that fabled hotel into mailing the recipe for the cake. When the friend received the envelope, she found the recipe and a bill for $200. We have laughed at that story for years, and we are always reminded of it, Aunt Mary, and the farm whenever we get to enjoy a slice of red velvet cake.

My contribution to the feast was restricted to a big bag of Kettle® sea salt and vinegar potato chips (no other brand will do). I have bought many a small bag over the years as an after-school treat for our granddaughter since she was a little girl. They remain her favorite snack.

The next few days in Carol’s household will be filled with stories, memories, and warm words as they pack up new clothes and special treasures. Soon enough there will also be a few tears. I remember saying goodbye to my mother as I boarded the train in a freak September snow storm, and I remember getting Carol situated in her dorm room as if it were yesterday. Sending a child off to college is one of the saddest, happiest, proudest moments in life. We will all remember Carol’s farewell banquet for years to come.

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BRISKET AND LATKES

We are in the midst of our final family visit for the holiday season. Our son, his wife, and their two daughters are visiting from Silicon Valley. We had a couple of days of quiet, and now there is once again pandemonium. We enjoy it.

The family arrived the day after Christmas. We had old fashioned New Mexico posole, as we weren’t sure when they would arrive with all of the bad weather in this part of the country.

The next night, we celebrated our son’s new position with champagne, blinis, sour cream, and salmon roe. Then Christmas crackers for the girls. Finally, brisket that had been cooking all day and served with potato latkes along with green beans and mushrooms. It was a festive evening, indeed.

The recipe for brisket is Susan’s. She got it from a friend many years ago when we lived in Houston. Since then, it has been a big family hit. Sarah took the recipe with her to New York City where she often made it for family meal in the restaurants where she worked. She says that whenever it was served, cheers went up from all of the cooks and servers. The secret to success is long, slow, braising with flavorful seasonings. Plan on at least 10 hours of cooking after an overnight marinade.

My daughter-in-law makes wonderful latkes, so I faced that challenge with a little trepidation. There are lots of recipes out there for latkes, and most folks are convinced that their mother’s are the best. I have modified the recipe in Amanda Hesser’s The Essential New York Times Cook Book (W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 2010). The book is an outstanding modern replacement for Craig Claiborne’s classic, The New York Times Cook Book. The latkes got my daughter-in-law’s approval, so I guess they were alright.

RECIPES

Brisket

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 pound brisket, trimmed

Method

  1. Combine the liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings in a flat roasting pan
  2. Marinate the brisket in the marinade, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Turn occasionally, and pierce the meat with a fork to make sure the meat absorbs the marinade
  3. Place the pan, covered, in the middle of an oven set at 200°F. Cook at least 10 hours, turning frequently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
  4. When well done, remove from the oven, slice on the diagonal thinly, and serve immediately. Should serve 4 to 6.

Potato Latkes

Ingredients

  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 2 jumbo eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • peanut oil for frying

Method

  1. Grate the potatoes and onion. Purists will insist on a grater. A food processor fitted with the grater blade is the fast way.
  2. With your hands, squeeze as much of the liquid from the grated potato-onion mixture as you can. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  3. Stir the egg yolks, potato flour, salt, and pepper into the mixture, using your hands to make sure the ingredients are evenly combined.
  4. Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the potato mixture.
  5. In a large cast iron skillet, heat about ¾ inch of peanut oil until it casts a sheen. In handfuls, drop the potato mixture into the hot oil being careful not to burn your hands. Fry until the bottoms of the pancakes are golden brown. Turn carefully and fry the other side until it is golden. Remove from the oil. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately while still warm. Makes about 8 large latkes.

 

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PECOS PUEBLO AND BARBECUE

Instead of the traditional, requisite Memorial Day cookout, we decided to take a day trip. After putting the American flag at the mail box, we drove down the interstate to the Pecos Pueblo National Historical Monument. We had not been there for several years, and so we thought it would be a great visit. The weather was beautiful as was the drive up from Santa Fe to Glorieta Pass where the road to the monument takes off. Because the pass is one of the main breaks in the Rocky Mountains in New Mexico between the eastern plains and the Rio Grande basin, it is filled with history.

During the Civil War, the Confederates had organized the Confederate Arizona Territory which included southern parts of what are now Arizona and New Mexico (some things never change) with the ultimate goal of seizing the gold and silver mines of California and Colorado.  Santa Fe had fallen to the Confederates, and things were looking bad for Union forces until the two sides met in Glorieta Pass where the Colorado infantry and the New Mexico militia turned back the Confederates whose supply train was ultimately destroyed, forcing them to give up their effort.

Glorieta Pass is also where the Santa Fe Trail crossed from the prairies into the Santa Fe region. The trail followed earlier native American trails and was established in the late 1700s, but eventually became the main trade route from Missouri settlements in the United States with Mexico, of which Santa Fe was a part until the end of the Mexican War in 1848.

But preceding all of that, the region was the center of trade between the peoples of the plains and the pueblos. Pecos Pueblo sat at the juncture and became a thriving trade center. At its peak, there were over 2,000 individuals living in a five-story dwelling. The Spanish explorers first visited the pueblo in 1640 and immediately set about to convert the population to Christianity. A huge church was built to hold all 2,000 residents at one time. During the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the church was set on fire and destroyed, but in the re-conquest, another, less grandiose church was built. Over time the pueblo fell on hard times and the population diminished until the few remaining individuals relocated to Jemez Pueblo. The structures fell into ruins – a sight-seeing side trip for folks traveling on the Santa Fe Trail. Now, only ruins remain, but the site is an impressive and interesting glimpse of the local history.

So much for my ramblings. Now it’s on to recipes. We decided to delay our traditional cookout and wound up having barbecued ribs, Susan’s famous brisket, Sarah’s herbed potato salad, coleslaw, and Southern buttermilk cornbread. For the barbecue, I used recipes from a cook book that has been in our family for 50 years: Walter Jetton’s LBJ Barbecue Cook Book (Pocket Books, Inc., New York, 1965, $1.00) Walter Jetton billed himself as caterer to the LBJ Ranch. He was from Fort Worth, but spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C. introducing Hubert Humphrey and other politicians to authentic Texas barbecue. Here are my modest revisions of his recipes for dry rib rub and barbecue mop, two essential condiments for barbecue.

Walter Jetton at the barbecue - from the cover of his 1965 cook book

Walter Jetton at the barbecue – from the cover of his 1965 cook book

RECIPES

Dry Rib Rub

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons lemon powder
  • 3 teaspoons Accent MSG
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons paprika

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid
  2. Rub the mixture generously on all surfaces of the rack of ribs before you place it on the barbecue

Barbecue Mop

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Accent MSG
  • 2 teaspoons Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1½ cups Worcester sauce
  • ¾ cups white vinegar
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) beef stock
  • ¾ cups vegetable oil

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine first seven (dry) ingredients
  2. Stir in the liquid ingredients until completely mixed
  3. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature
  4. With a small (new) dish mop, brush on barbecue meats frequently as you cook them.
  5. Refrigerate any that is left over when you have finished barbecuing. Store it in a tightly-lidded jar. It will last for a long time.

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SANTA FE RESTAURANTS 2: THE RANCH HOUSE

Santa Fe is viewed by many as at the epicenter of red or green chile – chile stews of both colors and made with chicken, pork, beef, or whatever – along with posole, and carne adobado. There is also the ubiquitous green chile cheeseburger which causes big disagreements about who cooks the best.  At the same time good barbecue is hard to find. Texan tourists certainly agree with that! Josh’s Barbecue was one of the few oases in the desert even though it was tucked away in a hard-to-find strip mall.

The bad news is that Josh’s has closed. The good news is that the Ranch House has opened. This is Josh’s new venue located at 2571 Cristos Road in a beautiful new building complete with great views of the mountains and spacious courtyards for outside dining in warmer weather. The old-time favorites are still on the menu, but there are some new and interesting additions. There are several dining rooms inside, so don’t be put off by a full parking lot, because you will probably be seated quickly and served by one of the attentive staff.

Baby back ribs with greens and cornbread

The day we visited for lunch, the place was busy but not crowded. Susan chose the baby back rib plate, and I chose the green chile chopped brisket sandwich – a new experience for me.  The ribs came with real Southern greens and cornbread with just enough sugar to compromise between Yankees who like sugar and Southerners who don’t.  The sandwich was good, too, although I think I prefer either a classic chopped brisket sandwich or an authentic green chile cheeseburger. For me, the highlight of the meal was the little fry basket filled with crispy sweet potato fries.

Green chile chopped brisket sandwich with sweet potato fries

The drink selection was good though limited. Lots of beers of course, and wine (who drinks wine with barbecue?) The specialty drinks sounded good, and the pineapple margarita was a hit.

Pineapple margarita

The Ranch House is definitely worth checking out if you are a barbecue fan. And who isn’t?

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