Recipes

Get Your Capon

Anyone who has had a brush with Shakespeare or watched a decent movie about The Middle Ages or Renaissance has heard the word “capon”.  Only an unknown exotic term for most people.  Maybe something Henry the Eighth ate too much of.

There’s no way around one big fact: it’s a castrated rooster.  That was not done because the hen house needed a high tenor.  It was done because it creates a much larger and flavorful roasted bird.

Why are they “rare” and a bit more expensive?  Because they cannot be rushed to the slaughter, and once that is done, they must be frozen because only those who have tasted the difference realize its better than chicken and, to many, more succulent than turkey!  So if you’ve had 20 turkeys in 20 years take a chance on capon.  There he is, in the freezer at Mert’s.  And remember, he gave up everything for you.  That’s stretching it a bit, I know, but I have cooked it, it’s more than worth it.  Here’s an easy recipe.

After thawing the capon, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Remove neck and giblets from inside the capon, then  rinse it out with cold water.  Using a paper towel, pat it dry and get ready to stuff it with:

2 lemons, cut in two; 1 onion cut into quarters; add 4 smashed garlic cloves; a sprig of rosemary or thyme; a few sage leaves or a bit of oregano.

Tie up the capon, legs crossed to keep the herbs in.

Rub the outside of the bird with this mixture:

1 soft stick of butter (1/4 lb); salt and pepper to taste; 2 teaspoons lemon juice; half a handful of herbs, fresh is best, from whatever you have of this group – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, summer savory.

Now into the oven.  Place the capon breast side down, into a V-rack in a roasting pan.  This will make the skin more crisp and saves cleanup on the pan bottom.  Pour water in the roasting pan to prevent the drippings from burning.  Baste the bird with pan drippings.

Roast for 20 minutes then flip it over so that the breast is now up.  Back into the oven, reducing the heat to 350 to 375 degrees F and roast until the thigh meat is internal temperature of 165 degrees F (do not touch the bone with the thermometer).  Remember when you take him out to let him rest for 15 minutes.  This is very important.

Meanwhile add some ice cubes to the poured off pan juices – this will make it easier to remove the fat.  Add a half cup of sherry to the juices and make your gravy in the usual manner.

Shakespeare would be proud of you because there are more recipes for capon than there are actual capons.  So call us ahead of time for your order.

by Alan Coe

 

 

 

Dragontail

948 years ago last week (it’s true!), the Battle of Hastings was fought.  It brought French cuisine forcibly to England, not for the last time.  The Norman French even made the conquered people learn the word “cuisine”.  They still resent it.  But along with all the repression came great dishes, such as this one known as Dragontail, a boneless pork loin roast, suitably decorated and using a fairly short list of ingredients:

3 pounds boneless pork loin roast
1-2 teaspoons Coriander
1-2 teaspoons Caraway seed
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 handful unseasoned breadcrumbs

Grind all spices in a mortar & pestle (or commandeered coffee grinder – pretend it’s plunder) until very fine indeed.  Then blend well with the wine and garlic.  Marinate the pork roast with this mixture for at least two hours in an airtight container, or for those who care nothing for tradition (yet more dirty dishes), just use a resealable plastic bag with the air squeezed out.

Then remove for the oven, saving the marinade which will be our sauce.  Place the roast in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes at 450 degrees F.  Then turn the oven down to 300 degrees F. to finish.

After an hour or so at 300 degrees F, it should be done.  Cooking temp for pork is lower today than in times recently past because pork is cleaner and leaner, so an internal temp of 145 degrees F with your handy meat thermometer should be sufficient.

As the roast is resting for 10 minutes after its removal from the oven, take the marinade – toss into frying pan, bring to a boil, toss in breadcrumbs, (unseasoned remember), then pour it over your Dragontail.  If desired sliced almonds make interesting “scales”.  Add them to a few places shingle-fashion.

Enjoy one of the better aspects of the Middle Ages, with all of the convenience of Now.  Also great sliced on a cold meat platter with cheese and pickled onions.

By Alan Coe

 

Hunting for the perfect meat item

Some things don’t change in fifty thousand years:  you’ve gotten the call that there will be guests tonight and meat must be obtained.  For high speed hunting and gathering, there is only one place that will work – Mert’s!  With a plan you can be in and out in five minutes.

You pull into the lot, grateful that the human race no longer needs to obtain its meat with the aid of a sharp stick, so you can leave it in the trunk.

Entering, you are greeted and you quickly explain your hunting needs while gathering a few vegetables.

The folks behind the counter quickly agree upon choice of tonight’s prey:  the flat iron steak.

It looks primal enough, but how do you cook it?  Three minutes on each side for medium rare.  That’s it.  No marinating.  Done!  With boneless meat, a half pound per person is a good portion, but let’s go a little heavy.  Whether or not your tokens are paper or plastics means little, the transaction is complete and you quickly make your way to the car.

Arriving home, you see that a few of your guests are already there waiting, but you are not worried.  You’ve got this.

All you need to do in the kitchen is unwrap the steaks, dust them with rub (I use Montreal blend from McCormicks) and rewrap it to hold in the spices and to save a dish, while asking what refreshments your guests want.

After serving them a quick retreat to the fire pit of choice to prepare the coals, which will leave you with a good hour to socialize and re-establish tribal or inter-tribal bonds, as everyone is mesmerized by the fire you’ve made.

Then the heart of the matter – the flat irons are carried to the fire, still in their butcher paper, still a total mystery, until the magic moment when they are cast upon the grate.  There will always be a few guests who have never seen the primal flat iron.  The stop watch is ticking.  Three minutes on a side, no more . . .

Then the steaks are quickly plated and taken back to the kitchen to rest for, let’s say, three minutes for simplicity, or, the time it takes you to dump out a box of salad greens, slice up a tomato and drain a jar of artichoke hearts, some tongs, some dressing, and there is your resting time – you are a genius!

“What’s the movie tonight?”, somebody asks as you plate up the meal for your guests.  “I was thinking Quest For Fire” as you plan to bring up in conversation your pet theory that the discovery of cooking was the result of a forest fire.

Warning:  Time Travel may result in a sharp increase in appetite!

by Alan Coe

 

 

What is the best way for cooking beef shortribs without using a slow cooker?

Beef short ribs look beautiful, but they can be chewy and tough if not prepared correctly.  They like to be braised – which means they like to be cooked in liquid.  We know that slow cookers use liquid to cook whatever is in it, but you can cook on top of the stove, very low and covered, or in the oven in a Dutch oven.  Grilling is not a method that we would recommend for short ribs, as they need the slow cooking to tenderize enough to fall off the bones.  I remember as a child my mother used a pressure cooker to cook short ribs – pressure cookers are coming back into popularity among the foodies because they shorten the cooking time substantially.  Following is a recipe from Curt Hanes, one of our customers, who shared his favorite short rib recipe shortly after we opened.

Red Wine Short Ribs

2 cups dry red wine                                           2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 packet dry au jus gravy mix                           1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper                  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

8 shallots, halved                                                 8 beef short ribs

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (optional)

In a 6 quart slow cooker (or equal size Dutch oven), whisk together the red wine, tomato paste, gravy mix, salt, pepper and thyme; add the shallots.

Add the ribs, placing the meatiest side down.  Cover and cook until the meat is very tender, on low 8 to 10 hours, or on high 4 to 6 hours in the slow cooker.  Cook in the oven in the Dutch oven at 325 degrees F for 4 to 5 hours, or until the meat separates from the bones.

Transfer the ribs to a plate.  Using a ladle or a spoon, skim and discard fat from the sauce.  Spoon the de-fatted sauce over the ribs and sprinkle with the parsley if desired.

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