Smoked Steak Tartare

Smoked steak tartare

We went for the SIP N’ SHUCK event with oysters and sparkling wine to Fulton and (unexpectedly!) discovered smoked steak tartar. I wanted to recreate it in my home kitchen with Cameron’s Stovetop Smoker. I didn’t know how the Fulton steak tartare got its smokey flavor, but since it was barely there, I suspected they used a smoking gun and a relatively short period for the smoke to set. My experimental timing with Cameron’s smoker was a bullseye, and I liked my version even better! My beef tenderloin got the right amount of smokiness, and its internal temperature was a bit above the body temperature. Here is the recipe…

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Dolma | Lamb and Fresh Grape Leaves Rolls

Dolma with Lamb and Fresh Grape Leaves

Dolma (Ottoman Turkish: طوٓلمه‎) is a family of stuffed dishes common in Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Stuffed with lamb and rice grape leaves is one of the version. I was never impressed by what is sold or served as dolma in the U.S. Most of the time it is dry and tasteless. As a result, I never attempted to make it at home, thinking it’s not my thing. That was until some of my friends bragged about their homemade dolma with fresh grape leaves. The recipe below is my first try and I consider it very much up to my taste!

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As American As: Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat pie

Even though American taste buds are known for the love of sweet and salty food combinations, traditional Mincemeat pie is seen today as an acquired taste. There are many implications on why early settlers combined savory meat and ingredients that are considered belonging to dessert dishes. Was it really for food preservation purposes or our ancestors were fond of bold flavors?

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Patlican Kebabi | Oven Roasted Eggplant Kebab

Roasted Eggplant Kabob | Patlican Kebabi

This recipe is an adaptation of southern Turkish style kebab, prepared in the oven. Eggplants are cooked twice — either grilled or fried first, and then baked with meat in a tomato and pepper sauce — to concentrate flavor. My version of Patlican Kebabi doesn’t look the same as Turkish, but the idea of vertical rolls allows to use large Italian eggplants we mostly have available in Central Texas.

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Green Mexican Chorizo

Green Chorizo Ingredients

Two years ago a horrible thought came to my mind. What if I have to move from Texas somewhere north, and there is no Mexican chorizo there, and I have no idea how to make it myself. I looked for recipes and discovered that in addition to regular red chorizo there is a specialty of the Toluca region of Mexico, green chorizo. It is colored green because dry red chilies in it are replaced by fresh Poblano and Serrano chilies along with cilantro and other seasonings. In my recipe below, I use only Poblanos. If you like it with more chili peppers heat, replace part of Poblanos with Serranos.

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Happy 4th of July! Smoked Wagyu Burgers

Making Smoked Wagyu Beef Burgers

I think it was a special game for our instructor chef J to teach us how to turn what school provided into delicious and well presented meals. It became a tradition for many other our shift students and teachers to come and eat at the end of the class what was cooked in our lab. Our burgers were not an exception. Chef J explained every element of successful burger meal, from meat to bun and to everything sandwiched in between. From that point, I could make my own perfect burger, adjusted to my personal taste. That’s what I do every 4th of July.

This recipe is part of Easy Smoked Meals at Home coming cooking class.

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Dumplings: Georgian Khinkali

Khinkali

Khinkali (Georgian: ხინკალი) is a juicy Georgian dumpling, filled with seasoned minced meat (lamb or beef + pork). Minced onions, red chili pepper, and cumin are always part of the recipe, while herbs (cilantro and parsley) are optional. Khinkali is supposed to be eaten with hands (no utensils). It is picked up by the top of the dumpling (aka kudi or “hat”) and turned upside down. First, you bite a small hole to suck all the meat juices trapped inside. Than, you can eat the rest of the dumpling, except for the part you’ve been using as a holder, the “hat.”

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Stuffed and Smoked Hatch Peppers

Angus Beef Stuffed Smoked Hatch

Green chile peppers are known for their tough skin. They are usually charred to peeled it away. Seeds and membranes should also be removed. Only then peppers are ready for using them in final dishes. Unfortunately, charred peppers often loose their shape and wholeness and can’t be used for stuffing with raw ingredients. In Nuevo Tex-Mex cookbook, David Garrido and Robb Walsh mention another traditional way to prep chili peppers for stuffing — softening them in hot water for 20 minutes. Some cooks go even further by adding some piloncillo (raw cane sugar), apple cider vinegar, and salt to make a hot brine for peppers. Precooking peppers in salty and acidic water helps to preserve color, lowers heat level, and makes it easier to clean seeds and membranes.

In Hatch cooking classes, we stuffed Hatch peppers with carnitas and roasted them to serve with green Mexican rice. Stuffing them with lean Angus beef and hot smoking with hickory chips seamed the next obvious step. Delicious!

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