Roast Beast Sandwich

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Leftovers make a lovely lunch.

I could make a hundred excuses of why I haven’t been posting to OMNIVOROUS lately and nearly half of those would be true, but the real truth is that I’ve been busy, busy, busy. What with two kids and a hectic work schedule (and an incurable addiction to Instagram) I’ve hardly had time to write a word. But recently I’ve been urged by a number of people to take up the quill again and resume my blogging. Apparently a few of you kind readers had missed my musings. Thank you for the encouragement; I’ll try to get back on the horse and ride it.*

Today’s brief post is about using leftovers to good effect. The night before I made this killer sandwich I’d cooked a large prime shell roast. If you’re not familiar with the term a shell roast is basically a huge New York strip steak roasted in the oven. This one was eight pounds, the equivalent of about ten big thick delicious New Yorks stuck together. I’d seasoned it simply and rubbed it with olive oil. I roasted it at 325ºF for about an hour. I pulled it out when I got a temp reading of 120ºF on my instant-read thermometer. This is considered rare but I knew it would continue cooking outside the oven for a little while. The shell roast was a huge success and mostly devoured; I’m glad a little was leftover because there are few things I love more than really great cold roast beef. Especially when it’s a superior hunk of roast.

So I shaved a little of the beef into thin slices and knocked out this delicious sandwich. I lightly toasted an onion roll and slathered homemade mayo on the bottom half. On the top half I smeared a bit of incendiary spicy mustard from Phillipe’s (the LA landmark restaurant which introduced the world to the French Dip sandwich). Two big slices of brandywine tomatoes went on the bottom bread and over that a mound of that shaved beef. I added a slice of Jarlsberg cheese and topped the cheese with a clutch of leftover salad (iceberg, arugula, radicchio, shaved fennel, and crumbled goat cheese). I put the top bread on the and closed up the sandwich, which I promptly ate without ceremony. And the sando was AMAZEBALLS, as they say.

Not pictured is the bottle of Asahi Black Lager that I drank with the sandwich.

* and maybe eat the horse afterwards. Hey, I’m OMNIVOROUS!

Roasted Paprika-Rubbed “Rock N Roll” Chicken Wings

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Overnight marinating makes these wings super-flavor-flav!

You guys know how much I just LOVE chicken wings, don’t ya? To give you some idea I’ve already published five other posts about wings and I’m sure I’ve alluded to wings in at least six other posts (I’ve linked to the good ones below.) There’s not much more I can add to the pre-existing wing conversation; however, I will reiterate that I absolutely love crisp & chewy skin, I adore the moist tender meat within, and I find irresistible what I like to call the “primal gnaw”, that nearly instinctual desire to chew cooked meat off of bones, using only your hands, in a greasy-fingered manner that recalls primitive man. It’s primal and messy and communal and well, fun.

My usual M.O. when making wings is to par-cook them; first I’ll bake them at a low temperature until about 80% cooked and then I’ll fry them until crisp. This two-pronged approach yields perfectly crisp wings every time. However, cooking them this way means you can’t really infuse the chicken itself with a lot of other flavorings (dried spices and marinades will dissipate the instant the wing hits the hot oil) and you need a finishing sauce of some kind to add some zest — classic Buffalo sauce, bbq sauce, honey-soy sauces, etc. I love the sauces, don’t get me wrong, but the longer the wings are saturated with sauce the father away they get from the skin-crunch ideal.

And of course you can achieve very flavorful wings with other methods — low-oil skillet-frying, grilling — but they don’t come close to deep-frying for crispy skin. I wanted a wing that was shot-through with flavor but came close to the great crispity-crunchity of fried wings. After a little tinkering I found a method that was worth sharing: high-heat roasting wings that have been coated with a moist dry rub, finished under the broil. The results were awesome — crisp and flavorful with no moist sauce to undercut the crunch. I ended up drizzling the still-hot wings with a wee bit of honey and they were AWESOME!

You’ll need:

  • 12 largish chicken wings (tips removed) cut into 24 individual pieces
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (Japanese cooking wine) or anything similar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus a little extra when you cook them
  • honey for a last-minute drizzle

Now do this:

Put the cut wings into a large mixing bowl. Mix all the dried spices together and dump it over the wings. Using your hands coat the wings thoroughly with spices. Add the mirin, the soy sauce, and the oil. Coat wings thoroughly with wet ingredients and stick them into a ziploc bag. Wait impatiently for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 525º.

Place wings on a rack set over a sheet pan. Roast wings for 10 or 12 minutes or until the edges of the wings look crisp but not charred. Remove the pan from the oven and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes. Set the oven to broil and place a rack about six inches from the heating element.

Drizzle a little vegetable oil on the “up-side” of the wings. Broil 1 or 2 minutes or until nicely crunchy and a bit charred. Flip the wings and repeat the oil and the broil. Congrats! Your wings are finished.

Drizzle with a little honey if you wish.

Why are they called Rock N Roll Wings? Why not? They rock.

Check out my earlier wing-related posts:

Crispy Wok-Fried Wings: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/crispy-wok-fried-chicken-wings/

Honey-Ginger Chicken Wings, Again: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/honey-ginger-chicken-wings-again/

Late-Night-Guilty-Pleasure Wings: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/late-night-guilty-pleasure-chicken-wings/

Chicken Wings & The Primal Gnaw: https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/chicken-wings-the-primal-gnaw/

It’s Game Time:     https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/its-game-time/

Ad-hoc Asian Salad

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Today’s salad is a simple (yet miraculous) combination of leftover cold ramen noodles (the fresh kind, not the fry-dried variety), cold grilled skirt steak cut into thin strips, napa cabbage, iceberg lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, watercress, scallions, crispy garlic, crispy wontons, and a simple sesame-miso dressing (canola oil, shiro miso paste, sesame oil, rice vinegar, Chinese mustard, salt and pepper). It was yummy!

Crispy Fried Frog Legs!

Krispy Kermit

Krispy Kermit

When I was in the South Carolina Low Country last week I managed to get my hands on some absolutely fresh and delicious frog legs. Most commercial frog legs (at least the ones I’ve managed to get) are sold frozen and are usually imported from China. Once frozen the tasty little legs lose much of the sweet tenderness that makes them such a fine treat; the flesh gets a little rubbery and loses flavor. Now, about that flavor — everyone says they taste like chicken, but I don’t really buy into that description. That’s only an excuse to get the slightly squeamish to try something that superficially seems a bit weird — I mean, you’re eating a slimy, mud-dwelling amphibian, right? To me, frog legs taste like, well, frog. The meat is tender, almost gentle in its yielding texture, and a bit sweet with a faint butteriness that’s reminiscent of fresh scallops or mild fish like dover sole. The meat is nearly white, and the legs do bear a superficial resemblance to a chicken drumstick. If you fry them “chicken-style” like I did you could certainly make a case that they “taste like chicken”.

My friend Martin took half the batch and sautéed them French-style (you’ve heard the French being referred to as Frogs, haven’t you?), which means in a hot pan with garlic and herbs and a splash of white wine. They were incredibly delicious, but I prefer frying them because I find that a crisp breading plays wonderfully against the tender meat inside, making for a fantastic textural contrast. Crispy critters are yummy!

Now, I’m not sure exactly where these froggies were “gigged” although the marshy Low Country could certainly produce a bumper crop of our amphibious friends. I’m pretty sure they were local, although the seafood purveyor was a bit cagey about the actual source. Maybe something not entirely above-board in the supply chain? I don’t know, I don’t care, the frogs were exceptionally good. Heck, it’s not like I was buying whale meat.

I got the legs and separated them from the lower half of the frog torsos with a couple of sharp whacks with my knife. I’d never seen them still attached to the body, and the tiny exposed vertebrae and frog ribs had a Sam Raimi-George Romero-David Cronenberg kind of grotesquerie that gave me a brief pause. But I continued and with the same blade hacked off the feet (flippers?). The resulting “drumsticks” I soaked in whole milk for three hours in the refrigerator.

I whisked together a simple breader from one cup all-purpose flour, one and a half cups yellow corn flour (not to be confused with corn starch or corn meal), a quarter-cup of semolina flour, a generous tablespoon of kosher salt, a teaspoon of celery salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of ground white pepper, a teaspoon of onion powder, a half-teaspoon of finely ground black pepper, a half-teaspoon of Old Bay Spice, a half-teaspoon of granulated sugar, and a half-teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder.

I set up a fryer for 375ºF and breaded the frog legs by gently shaking off any excess milk and dredging the legs in the seasoned flours. I placed the legs on a rack over a sheet pan and let them sit for about five minutes. I fried the legs five or six at a time until golden brown, about three minutes per batch. I served them simply with lemon slices although a simple tartar sauce or remoulade wouldn’t have been out of place.

They were spectacular — hot and crisp and juicy and tender. Utterly delicious.

They don't really look like chicken, do they?

They don’t really look like chicken, do they?

Grilled Short Ribs + Bacon Grit-Cake + Chinese Broccoli + 5-Spice BBQ Sauce + Creamed Corn Sauce

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I was feeling the fusion when I thought up this dish!

I made this dish a few weeks ago and now I’ve finally gotten around to posting a picture of it. You’ll have to excuse me; what with work and the new(ish) baby and holidays and travel I’ve been hard-pressed to find time to post about anything! But I’m trying to rectify all that and hopefully I’ll be able to pump out a few decent posts in the next week or two.

Anyway, this dish represents a rare fusion-y dish for me. I was striving for an Asian-slash-Southern-US dish, with some Chinese broccoli subbing in for collards and a barbecue sauce spiked with sriracha and Chinese five-spice powder.

I won’t take the time to go into all the minute details, but I’ll give you the broad strokes. If you really need more detail send me a comment and I’ll give you what you need.

• First I braised some short ribs (on the bone) in homemade beef broth and xao xing (Chinese cooking wine) with some shallots and garlic and ginger in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. They took about three hours to cook at 300°F. I let the short ribs cool and then I removed them from the liquid and refrigerated them until they were cold.

• I then sliced nice slabs from the cold short ribs, removing any bone, connective tissue, and excess fat. I allowed the meat to come to room temperature before finishing the dish.

• While the short ribs were braising I made a basic red barbecue sauce (ketchup, mustard, vinegar, molasses, sugar, spices, etc.) and added a nice dose of sriracha for heat and a big tablespoon of Chinese five-spice powder.

• I then threw together a simple grit-cake by cooking white grits according to the package directions and when cooked, mixing in chopped cooked bacon, grated cheddar cheese, butter, chives, and some salt n pepper. I poured the cooked grits onto a small sheet pan lined with oiled parchment paper. I cooled the grits in the fridge until firm and then cut it into rectangular slabs.

• And then I made a sauce from some leftover creamed corn. I thinned out the creamed corn, cooked it until hot in a small saucepan, and then pureed it hot in a blender at high speed. While the creamed corn was blending I added a tablespoon of cold butter and a pinch of sugar. I poured the creamed corn through a coarse strainer and then set the sauce aside.

• Finally I blanched in salted boiling water a big handful of chopped gai lan Chinese broccoli. I cooled the par-cooked greens in an ice bath and then drained them.

To finish the dish I did the following.

• First I crisped the grit cake in a hot skillet until brown on one side. I flipped it and browned the other side.

• Next I sauteed the gai lan in some butter and kept it warm off the side.

• I heated a grill-pan and then lightly oiled the short rib slabs. I seasoned the short ribs with plenty of salt and pepper and then grilled them until I had nice grill-marks on both sides. I basted them with a little of the bbq sauce.

• I warmed the creamed corn sauce in a very small pot on the stove while I assembled the dish.

• I placed the gai lan in the center of a warmed plate. I topped the greens with a cooked bacon grit-cake. I placed two slabs of short ribs on top of that and then drizzled the warm creamed corn sauce around the plate. I dabbed more bbq sauce over the meat and then drizzled a few decorative swirls of bbq sauce on the plate. I topped the meat with a little chopped scallions as a garnish and then I ate the WHOLE THING!!

Crispy Wok-Fried Chicken Wings

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Man, I love chicken wings!

I’m a sucker for chicken wings, as you could probably guess if you’ve followed my blog at all. I love the chewy, crispy skin and the inelegant but highly satisfying act of gnawing hot meat off of bones. Yesterday I cranked out this simple Asian-persuasion wing dish for an early dinner for just the wife and me.

As usual I par-cooked the wings prior to frying. I preheated the oven to 300°F and then I tossed the wings with a little vegetable oil, salt, pepper, and a little garlic powder. I put the wings on a sheet pan lined with a rack to allow some of the fats to drip off. It took about 35 minutes to cook the wings totally through. I removed the wings and let them cool to room temperature before finishing them.

I heated a wok over high and added about an inch of rice bran oil (the preferred oil for frying tempura) although peanut oil would be an excellent substitute. When the oil was smoking-hot I gently lowered about twelve wings into the wok and fried them until browned and crispy, turning them frequently with a tongs. It took about eight minutes to get the wings totally, evenly browned.

I removed and drained the wings and placed them still piping hot into a large mixing bowl. I scattered over the wings about a half-teaspoon of kosher salt, a generous amount of cracked black pepper (think teaspoon), a pinch of white pepper, a pinch of Chinese five-spice powder, a pinch of garlic powder, about a tablespoon of dark soy sauce, about a teaspoon of light brown sugar, about a teaspoon of togarashi shichimi (a Japanese seasoned chili pepper powder), about a tablespoon of minced fresh cilantro, and a big knob of room-temperature butter, which melted immediately as it hit the hot wings. I tossed it all together to coat the wings and then dumped them unceremoniously on a plate.

Regina and I scarfed the yummy wings in no time. Little baby Vivian had a couple of chicken scraps as well and made little positive murmurs as she chewed (her version of “compliments to the chef”). The wings were delicious!

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I crisped the wings in about an inch of rice bran oil.

Check out my other wing-related posts!

https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/its-game-time/

https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/chicken-wings-the-primal-gnaw/

https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/08/25/late-night-guilty-pleasure-chicken-wings/

https://spencerhgray.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/honey-ginger-chicken-wings-again/

OMNIVOROUS VIDEO #3: Grilled Summer Salads

Thai Steak Salad!

Look, I know it’s true that summer is nearly over. My friend Liesl and I shot this video at the beginning of the summer and we’ve only just now been able to share with you two of our favorite grilled summer salads (editing, vacations, work, children, etc.).

Anyway, it’s pretty much always summer in Southern California. So if you’re local(ish) give these recipes a try. If you live elsewhere and you’ve already put the winter tarp over your grill you might have to live vicariously through us. Sorry.

But really, these dishes are great all year round. Both salads are healthy, light, and unfussy. Watching the video you’ll notice we grill inside, mostly for the ease of the video, but also because we wanted to demonstrate that with a decent grill-pan or griddle you can duplicate that outdoor feel with minimal exertion or muss, although having a decent exhaust fan and good ventilation is a big plus. Especially the way I grill — all flame and smoke and action.

I shot this video when Vivian was four weeks old, so I’m visibly tired. Sorry, folks, I did my best. You might notice that I have a habit of using the word “fantastic” a whole lot. But really, I only use it a few more times that I use the word “dynamite”.

I’ve posted the ingredients you need to make my Thai Steak Salad. Watch the video for instructions. Liesl should be posting a recipe on her own blog shortly.

Liesl and I (with our collaborators at The Other House) were striving for a light, conversational tone. Unlike my first two videos, this feels more like a cooking show. We wanted to explore our own on-screen chemistry and see if we could make it fun, light, informative, maybe a little silly. I think we succeeded. Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this ongoing video project.

I urge you to check out Liesl’s blog Lieslicious; it’s accessible and informative with an engaging, easygoing style. She’s got some great recipes, great pics, and video links to her spots for KIN Community. I’ve got the link here, but I’ve added her site to my blog roll to your right.

http://www.lieslicious.com

Anyway, enjoy the video and share it with your friends! If you like it, LIKE it!

Liesl’s grilled veggie salad with Israeli couscous.

Steak Marinade Ingredients:

  • juice of one medium-to-large lime
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced lemongrass
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce (Thai or Vietnamese)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Salad Dressing Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (Thai or Vietnamese)

Salad Ingredients:

  • iceberg lettuce
  • watercress
  • shaved fennel
  • shaved red cabbage
  • fresh mint leaf
  • scallion greens
  • crushed peanuts
  • fried shallots