making food from anywhere, with anything

Posts tagged “sauce

you’ll need many a napkin to eat this sticky rack of deliciousness.

Good morning all.

My life has been overrun by my part-time job, internship, and now the World Cup.  What will I watch when the World Cup is over?

Anyway….We celebrated Father’s Day a few days early this year.  Initially, my plan was to make some delicious hanger steak.  I’ve seen hanger steak at this one grocery store I often turn to for my foodie needs.  However, (as predicted) the store did not have hanger steak in stock when I was, of course, looking for it.  So, Plan B?  Barbecued beef short ribs.

rubbed ribs getting ready for the oven

I started off by rubbing the ribs with a nice spice mix.  For two slabs of ribs, I used (adapted from here):

4 TBSP brown sugar

2 TBSP smoked paprika

3 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp celery salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

I let the ribs sit in the rub all day so all the flavors could marry.  If I had things my way, I would’ve smoked these ribs for about 4-6 hours over low heat with hickory wood chips and such.  Buuut, I don’t have a smoker.  So instead, I opted to braise the ribs first, then finish them on the grill.  In a roasting pan with a rack, add 1 16oz bottle of beer and some water so that there is about an inch of liquid in the pan.  Place the ribs that you rubbed at least 12 hours ago on the roasting rack and put them in the pan.  Cover with foil, and place in a preheated 250F oven.  Roast for 1.5-2 hours.  Check your ribs after an hour to be sure there is enough liquid.  When the ribs are done (the meat on mine was falling off the bones – a challenge to get on the grill, but so worth it), slather (and I mean SLATHER.  BATHE those ribs) in some barbecue sauce and grill for about 10 minutes.

While you’ve got some time on your hands as the ribs are braising, you may as well make your own barbecue sauce, right?  Well, I did.  I had no idea what I was doing, and it thankfully came out really well.  I adapted this sauce from a variety of sources in an attempt to combine the best of both tomato-based and vinegar-based sauces.  My sauce started out involving about…

1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup of ketchup

1 TBSP molasses

2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp paprika

some freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

2 TBSP brown sugar

sweet and spicey short ribs

Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Then, reduce to a simmer.  Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened to your desired consistency.  I think I cooked mine for about 20-30 minutes.  It was perfect timing, really.  Once I put it in the refrigerator, the sauce thickened up really nicely.  The sauce was REALLY vinegary at first, but it sweetened throughout the cooking process.  Throughout cooking, I added a few more shakes of paprika for an additional smokey flavor, and a few more shakes of cumin for….well, mostly because I enjoy cumin a lot.  The sauce was sweet, but had a nice kick.  A perfect blend.

fresh garden herbs

Now that the ribs are figured out, it’s time for the side dishes.  I decided to make grilled vegetable kebabs with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, onion, and little bell peppers.  To go along with the vegetables, I made a sauce inspired by the chimichurri sauce native to Uruguay and Argentina (and probably other countries, too).  It’s an awesome sauce, traditionally made with parsley, garlic, pepper and olive oil.  I needed all of my parsley for the crab cakes I planned to make, so I used basil, oregano, and cilantro.  The recipe is adapted from here.   It turned out really nicely.  Cilantro is such a powerful herb, and when combined with garlic, it stands out with such an intensity.  I minced the garlic VERY finely (almost to a paste) so it functioned on an aromatic level, as well.  (Yesterday, I spread some of the sauce on some bread and made a sandwich with it.  I hope to use the rest of the leftover sauce as a marinade — it’d be awesome with chicken.)

Along with the grilled vegetable kebabs, I made some crab cakes.  I used the same recipe as in here, except I added a little more mustard and worcestershire sauce.  The difference ended up being minimal, but the cakes were still REALLY good.

jumbo lump crab cakes

Completing the compendium of side dishes was some awesome Mexican-inspired grilled corn on the cob, adapted from here.  I grilled the corn for about 20 minutes, rotating the cobs every now and then to ensure even cooking.

a riff on Elote

Then, I deviated from the original recipe a bit and spread only a little butter and mayo on the warm cobs.  I felt 1 TBSP of each was waaayy too much.  I grated some cotija cheese, sprinkled it on the cobs, and dusted with a little smoked paprika.  The cobs were still fairly warm, so the cheese ended up melting slightly.  The mayo and cheese added a nice salty bite to the juicy, sweet corn.

And that was that!  It was a fantastic and flavorful dinner.  I don’t usually like barbecue sauce (I have been rather vocal about my dislike  — the bottled nonsense is always way too sweet…), but thought this was deliciously savory, sticky, sweet, spicy, and perhaps most importantly, addictive as all hell.  I could’ve eaten an entire rack of short ribs (in all fairness, there isn’t THAT much meat on ribs).


Happy Father’s Day to all, and Happy Summer, too!


duck fat. enough said.

Good evening, everyone.

Amidst enjoying the nice weather, going for a few exhilarating runs, and falling way behind on the two papers I have to write, I roasted a duck Julia Child style.

I’ve never roasted a duck before.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had duck for a meal before (yes, really.).  Sure, I’ve tasted it once or twice whenever my mom has gotten it at a restaurant.  Other than that, it never interested me.  Not until now, anyway.  The allure of duck fat, crispy duck skin, delicious dark duck meat and promise of a great demi glace-based sauce drew me in.  The duck needed to be cooked.

french epi bread

With our duck, we had some delicious epi bread, which is a traditional French picnic bread. It’s composed of knots, which are typically torn off and used as rolls to accompany the meal.  You can tear them off pretty neatly, which keeps the integrity of the bread in tact so no other knots are ruined.  It’s got a great crunchy crust, and a very soft interior.  Delicious dipped in a good olive oil.

Also accompanying the duck was delicious roasted asparagus.  This recipe is extremely simple, and it comes out so well every time.

Roasted Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus



roasted asparagus

extra virgin olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 425F.  Snap the rough ends of the asparagus off.

2. place on baking sheet in one layer.  drizzle with olive oil, coating thoroughly.  sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

3.  place sheet in oven for 8-10 minutes. Serve immediately.

And now, for the duck.

caneton roti

Caneton Roti, straight out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking

1 5 1/2 lb duckling

1 tsp salt, divided into two halves

1/8 tsp pepper

a pinch of thyme or sage

a small sliced onion

1 medium sliced carrot

1 medium sliced onion

1 1/2 – 2 cups brown duck stock, beef stock, or canned beef bouillon (optional: 3 or 4 TBSP port)

1-2 TBSP softened butter

Method: (before doing any seasoning, trim off excess fat by the tail.  you can also take off the wing tips, cutting them at the elbow.  i left mine on because i enjoy gnawing on the crispy tips – i’ll admit it.)

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. Season inside of duck with salt, pepper, herbs, and the sliced onion.  Secure the legs, wings, and neck skin to the body.  Prick the skin around the thighs, back, and lower breast. Dry duck thoroughly.

3. place the duck breast up in the roasting pan, strew the vegetables around it, and set it in the middle level of the oven for 15 minutes to brown lightly.

4. reduce oven to 350 degrees, and turn the duck on its side. regulate heat so duck is always making cooking noises but fat is not burning. remove accumulated fat occasionally (use a bulb baster for this). basting is NOT necessary.

5. about 30 minutes later, or about halfway through your set cooking time, turn the duck on its other side.

6. fifteen minutes before the end of the estimated roasting time, salt the duck and turn it breast up.

7. the duck is done to a medium rare if the juices from the fattest part of the thigh or drumstick run faintly rosy when the meat is pricked, and when the duck is lifted and drained, the last drops of juice from the vent are a pale rose. the duck is well done when the juices run pale yellow.

8. when done, discard trussing strings, and place the duck on a serving platter. set in turned-off oven and leave the door open while preparing the sauce, which will take 3-4 minutes.

Making the sauce

1. tilt the roasting pan and spoon out all but 1 TBSP of fat.  add the stock or bouillon and boil rapidly, scraping up coagulated roasting juices, and crushing the vegetables until liquid is reduced at least by half.  correct seasoning. add optional wine and simmer a minute to evaporate its alcohol.

2. off heat and just before serving, swirl the butter into the sauce and strain it into a sauceboat. pour a bit of the sauce over the duck and serve.

I followed her recipe pretty exactly, except instead of placing an onion inside the duck, I put in a few garlic cloves.  This didn’t seem to affect the taste of the duck, but it provided a nice aromatic element.  I also took it upon myself to season the outside of the duck before placing it in the oven.  Although the duck skin has a lot of flavor anyway, I wanted some salt and pepper on it beforehand.  Salting it at the end really makes a difference (who doesn’t love salty skin?).

I chose not to make her sauce, and made one of demi glace and port instead.

The Other Sauce

3-4 TBSP demi glace

1/2 cup port

1 shallot, diced

2-3 TBSP duck fat


1. heat the duck fat in a saute pan.  add the shallots and cook for about 1-2 minutes.

2. add the port, and bring to a boil.  cook until most of the liquid has reduced.

3. add the demi glace, bring to a boil for about 1 minute.  transfer to a sauceboat and serve.

That sauce was really good.

Tomorrow night?  Steak.  It’s marinading as I write.