Have we all recovered from the “This is Us” crockpot episode? I may never! Rutabaga’s need to use my oven on the daily basis to bake desserts has me using my new trusty crockpot to all of my friends & family’s glee. After my 2 decades of disdain for crockpot they are all getting a great laugh that I’m using one. I’ll sit here and eat my humble pie. I’m still not happy with relying on the darn thing. My tween baker though needs to experiment and bake tasty desserts much to my waistlines demise.
The crazy weather we have been having is wrecking my weekly menu. Today and tomorrow will be in the 60’s the rest of the week will be 40’s. The nice thing though is that it is sunnier here in Raleigh than it was in Nashville during February. I remember one February back in the early 2000’s that we had 0 days of sunshine in Nashville. Good sunshine goes a long ways on cold days.
The folks at Alarita are always full of sunshine though. It is a great family business where I have yet to see one of them smiling. It is pretty contagious when you’re around them. Their happiness for life translates into their products giving you bright happy flavors. Their dry rub has a great herb mixture for my tomatoes with just enough sweetness to dampen the acidity. The dry rub also works well on roasted veggies. The first time I met Jeanette I took her roasted eggplant with Alarita on it. She was an instant fan & is the one behind my home canned tomatoes I’ll be using today.
Cube steak is a machine tenderized coming from the round. Typically top round. It is one that needs a slow cooking process to help make it tender. Hello Crockpot. In each package of NCF Cube steak there are 3-4 steak(mostly 4) priced at $9 per lb. Perfectly portioned for a hearty meal when the sun goes down and it turns cold out. Alarita Seasoning runs $8 a bottle, buy it this will not be the only recipe you use it for. This is one spice I use frequently in my cooking. Finally I’m going to top this meal at the end with Redneck Romano as tomatoes slow cooked beg for cheese. Redneck Romano is sold for 9.45 per lb and is sold in 8 oz wedges in our store.
Now to throw everything into the pot set it and forget it till dinner. Try not to think of Jack too much.
Christmas time is here! Holiday cooking makes my soul sing, rich heavy flavors followed by bright sides are my thing.
This year we are a bit low on Prime Rib as we have 1 very ambitious client. Therefore let’s look at the Eye of Round for our Holiday Meal. Thinly sliced, it will set a beautiful table with it’s own natural juices. With the mustard herbed crust it will bring flavor.
I’m going to use Lusty Monk in this dish. When fresh from the jar it can be quite spicy. As the mustard cooks though, the heat of the spice mellows. Preparing the roast the night before enhances the flavor and allows the marinade to mature, you’ll get the deep rich flavor, perfect for Christmas dinner.
Having a Holiday Party? This dish can also be slices thinly and served on yeast rolls or rolled by itself a fancy toothpick. No toothpicks lay a fancy fork on a plate with the meat displayed in a pretty Carpaccio pattern.
Looking for another Holiday meal try my Brisket Tostada Recipe. Serve it roast style, last year our client Donna served it with rolls at a holiday party, the brisket was a big hit with her family. Want another fun dish for the Lusty Monk? Try our Deli Ham Roll-Ups. And you can always pair the Lusty Monk with our Bratwurst and Two Chicks Farm Sauerkraut. <— SWMBO’s Favorite store combo
Traditionally Ninja Cow sells English style thick cut short ribs. These are great for the crock pot or dutch oven. For smaller families I recommend them or shanks instead of roasts. They have great flavor & texture while still being quite a bit cheaper. This is what I usually feed my family since we are now a party of 3 these days. The bonus is you can be pretty versatile with these and use any leftovers for sandwiches or fajitas.
This past spring we began getting requests for a thinner Asian style rib. I talked to Chaudhry’s. Unfortunately they couldn’t get us down to the 1/4″ that I had desired. The were able to cut them much thinner and horizontal to give me a more versatile product for grilling and stir frying. Wait did I just say the word fry? Hmm what could be more delicious than an Asian style sticky rib. Ooo I have that 5 spice from the Drunk Duck.
Boys & girls this is where being a Chef becomes 1 part art and another part mad scientist. Last year I had a 5 spice rib on a food truck. I talked watched and learned now it is time to recreate with this awesome rib here at home. This will be a project where irresponsible children should not be in the kitchen. And one where distractions should be kept to a minimum. And where I kinda wish I had one of those new fancy air fryers. After I remove the rib from the frying oil I will immediately be dredging in brown sugar. The heat will caramelize the sugar and spice to the rib. To add a bit of crisp to that we will hit it with the broiler. MMMMM, let’s go.
The cost on ribs in the Ninja Cow Store is $7.99 a lb. That is roughly $1.75-$3 a lb cheaper than our roasts. And since we now carry the 2 different cuts they are quite versatile. Let me also give an honorable mention to the Beef Osso Bucco cut at $8.49 lb. That is the perfect amount for 1-2 people, it is a perfect crock pot cut as well.
Last weekend my family hosted the tween girls on the farm for dinner & movie. Having 4 tween girls between 3 families is full laughter and sometimes a tiny bit of drama, I brought the drama on myself this night. We made homemade pizzas for 3 of the girls then came the 4th, who has a strong dislike of pizza. For her I made oven smoked bbq style ribs. Next thing I hear from my very own Rutabaga. ” Mom, will you make me some BBQ Brisket for the 4th of July?”
Now for those of you who have met Rutabaga she is cute as can be. When she asks for something so sweetly & homemade to boot I can’t resist. Then to top it off she said those works all Momma’s want to hear. ” Mom, will you teach me how to make it too.” This led to a tiny bit of jealousy from Daddy who she normally bakes with. They are my baking team. After the BBQ was going Daddy promptly made a cherry dump cake with Rutabaga to get in a cooking lesson himself.
With our recent March 1st price cut on Beef our brisket became alot more affordable. The price went from $12.99 lb to $9.25 lb, nice eh? Our briskets are also cut family style into quarters making them between 3-4 lbs each. Enough to feed a crowd. To top off the Brisket I used Buh’s The Sweet Side Sauce which retails in the NCF Store for $5 a bottle. I only used the sauce to drizzle across the brisket, leaving enough for at least 2 more dinners if not more.
Full disclosure- my smoker is off limits to me at the moment (I got sick). If you want to to this on the smoker I recommend using hickory wood and keeping the grill at 225. Cook for 3-4 hours until fork tender. These smaller cuts cook quick so keep an eye on the heat. Always remember fat side up. If you need a little insurance cover extremely loosely in aluminum foil
This past week, I picked up our first load of hay for the winter. This is the first of about 140 bales of hay we’ll bring to the farm this fall in preparation for winter munchies. Our cows are grass fed and grass finished so besides the green growing grass we have currently, this is what they get all winter. I get the vast majority of my hay from one farmer in Clayton but Dan the Hay Man, pictured above, had some cow hay he was willing to let me purchase again this year so I grabbed a load while he still had some available. This is a good deal because Dan only grows horse hay (a higher quality hay) but occasionally he’ll have a bit of hay that wasn’t just perfect, making it great for cows (they are less finicky).
The trick with getting hay to the farm is:
You need a day where both you and the farmer can meet. That means no tours or customers for me, and no day job or other commitments for the farmer.
You need a day where it hasn’t rained in at least a 3-4 days because, fully loaded, a hay trailer is very heavy and will get stuck in the field trying to get out.
You need a day where all vehicles are running with no break downs.
All employees have shown up work
And nothing has gone wrong on either end (sick cow, escaped pig, down tree, etc).
By the rules above, that means we can get one, maybe two loads of hay every third alternate Tuesday. Since it takes 9 loads of hay to get us through the winter, by my math it takes about two months to get our hay to the farm. That means I’m already behind! Only 120 bales to go.
I don’t talk about our leased farm that much. Other than stopping by to check on things or go catch an errant cow, we don’t have to go over there that often anymore. We used to have our entire herd over there but now with just the brood cows and babies, it’s pretty quiet.
But at least once per year, I’m fortunate to get to go over and visit with the owners and talk about the upcoming year, visit with the kids, and pay the annual lease.
The picture above was taken from their back porch as we talked about the upcoming year and some fencing projects we need to work on. The picture doesn’t do the view justice. It was absolutely gorgeous as the sun was setting. In the medium distance, you can just see the cows and calves grazing in the fading light.
It was about this time that I told them we’d be coming to get the cows before too long, to take them to our farm for the winter. Lips were poked out all around. Nobody was happy to see the cute and cuddly cows leave. Oops, I thought they’d be happy to know we’d have them at our place over winter giving their farm a rest. I guess I don’t have to worry anymore that the cows have been misbehaving and wearing out their welcome.
But truth be told, I miss them. I’d spent some time before our meeting just hanging out with the girls and their new babies in the pasture. They came right up to me and started asking where I’d been, complaining loudly that I didn’t come visit often enough. You know how moms are. I’d committed to them they’d be coming home before long and you never go back on your word to a mom. They have a memory like a steel trap!
Flavors from Asia, they’re complex by nature. You bite in and instantly go “How did they do this”? Umami is a word in Asian Cuisine used to describe the savory taste. Short ribs have a bounty of Umami.
The ribs come in packs ranging from 1 lb- 2 lbs at $8.99 a lbs. With ribs you want 1 lbs per person due to the removal of bone. While this recipe is for 5 lbs I typically use 2-3 lbs of the ribs. When doing this freeze part of your unused marinade for later use.
The secret to short ribs is the cooking time. Once again we are going to using that trusty dutch oven and set the oven at 280F. The length of time will vary on the density of meat, towards the end check every 30 minutes. You’re not just checking for fall off the bone you also want the connective tissue broken down enough to bite through easily.
Short Ribs with Asian Flavor
1 large Fuji apple
1 large Asian pear
1 ¼ cup soy sauce
¾ cup sugar
1 red onion, roughly chopped
4 green onions, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp ginger, grated
3 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
¼ cup sesame oil
5 lbs Short ribs
Enough water to cover ribs
Green Onions, chopped (garnish)
Preheat oven to 280F
For the marinade: Grate garlic, ginger, apple and pear into a large bowl, making sure to catch all of their juices.
Add the soy sauce, sugar, onions, sesame seeds, and sesame oil, mixing thoroughly.
Place short ribs to the bowl, use tongs to ensure all of the ribs are coated with the marinade.
Refrigerate the meat & marinade for at least 12-24 hours before cooking. (The longer you marinate the meat, the better it flavor!)
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.
In a Dutch oven place ribs & 1-2 cups of the marinade. Place in oven with the lid on 280 until tender 6-7 hrs.
Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before removing ribs and breaking down the meat.
While the meat cooks simmer the remaining marinade till syrupy & pour over finished ribs or serve beside them.