Food Republic http://www.foodrepublic.com Where Food, Drink & Culture Unite Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 A Great Supermarket Burger Exists! (Plus 18 Burgers To Make For Labor Day) http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/04/a-great-supermarket-burger-exists-plus-18-burgers-to-make-for-labor-day/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/04/a-great-supermarket-burger-exists-plus-18-burgers-to-make-for-labor-day/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122368 If you’re a fourth-generation ground beef purveyor, one thing remains certain: You will sell many, many great burgers in your lifetime — burgers you ground and shaped yourself. You’ve probably also heard the recent news about ground beef: The situation is dire. If you want to be a hero, you can devote your life to ensuring that the ground beef patty lives on proudly as a staple of American cuisine, instead of sinking to the bottom of the “don’t buy from the supermarket meat case” list. (See also: soggy greenish tuna steak.)

Enter Schweid & Sons, a family-owned company since the turn of the century, currently out to vanquish the general lack of knowledge associated with buying burgers at the supermarket. Admit it: You don’t know what’s in there, and that gets increasingly less cool with each recall. If you can’t make it to the butcher, keep an eye out for these. Executive VP Jamie Schweid knows his ground beef.

“There’s no mass-marketed premium burger out there,” says Schweid. “There’s organic and grass-fed, but there’s not anything premium in the meat case, regarding cuts of beef. It’s all chuck and sirloin, and you don’t know exactly what you’re getting.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with chuck and sirloin — chuck contains a good dose of oleic acid, which provides the extra-beefy flavor you expect from a burger. But break into a Schweid & Sons patty, whether it’s spiked with brisket, exclusively grass-fed or made with certified Angus, and it’s exactly what you want to see: uniform throughout and light pink from well-incorporated fat (not that red tint that indicates it’s been chemically treated on the outside and will most certainly be brown and oxidized inside). Also neat: the paper sleeve around the package that looks like butcher paper and shows the cuts of beef that went into the burgers. Even neater: the blazing sawed-in-half grill that serves as the backdrop for their website.

Peruse the site’s highly innovative, burger-centric aesthetic — the design alone should convince you beyond a shadow of doubt that this company is dedicated to ending the scourge of the crappy supermarket burger — then fire up the barbecue and give these 18 recipes a spin. It’s Labor Day weekend. Can you think of a better time to bring your A-game? Why don’t you fire up a batch of homemade buns while you’re at it?

 

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Europeans Use Alien-Like Kombucha For Space Exploration http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/04/europeans-use-alien-like-kombucha-for-space-exploration/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/04/europeans-use-alien-like-kombucha-for-space-exploration/#comments Fri, 04 Sep 2015 13:00:45 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122467 Mankind has taken a bunch of steps and leaps since the moon landing. Now it’s kombucha’s turn.

According to Munchies, the European Space Agency has conducted a study that involves sticking blobfish-like slabs of slimy colonies of yeast and bacteria called SCOBY on the side of the International Space Station to discover two things: whether there are living bacteria floating around in outer space and how long organisms can survive in the extraterrestrial without any protection. So no, they’re not looking for the big scary ones birthed from the mind of Ridley Scott — just the microorganisms, if any exist.

The bacteria and yeast blobs are the catalyst in fermenting black tea, also known as kombucha. Scientists discovered that the SCOBY’s surface, which is composed of billions of organisms, could be tough enough to handle the harsh conditions of outer space. The scientists are also hoping that traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, a speed Munchies calls “modest,” the SCOBY will be able to collect and absorb any signs that we’re not alone.

The SCOBY’s return and subsequent analysis is slated for next year, which happens to be perfect timing for the return of Mulder and SCOBY Scully. Coincidence? We think not. The truth is out there. Godspeed, you brave kombucha.

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Charcuterie Board Elements: Porchetta at Jockey Hollow http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/charcuterie-board-elements-porchetta-at-jockey-hollow/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/charcuterie-board-elements-porchetta-at-jockey-hollow/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 17:00:45 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122376 In Charcuterie Board Elements, we deconstruct the best cured meat spreads in the world and zero in on one incredible component. We hit Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen in Morristown, New Jersey, to see how executive chef Kevin Sippel is turning whole local pigs (fed on the same fare as the diners) into giant cured, stuffed porchettas.

When was the last time you dined in a historic mansion? It’s been a while, yes? Just a hop, skip and a jump from New York City lies Vail Mansion. Built in 1918 by Theodore Vail, president of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company and chief architect of the Bell System, the mansion now serves as private residences. Its dining room was transformed into Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, a world-class restaurant helmed by Kevin Sippel that showcases New Jersey’s renowned bounty of local produce and responsibly raised livestock.

Cured meat dots the menu — you’ll find house-cured country ham, prosciutto, guanciale and bone marrow infusing dishes with their various meaty goodnesses — but Jockey Hollow’s charcuterie board itself is a force to be reckoned with. Sippel sources heritage pigs from a local small-scale farm (125 CSA members strong!) and stuffs, cures and ages them into some of the best charcuterie in the Garden State. Thanks to Sippel, a polished wooden slab featuring thinly sliced whole stuffed porchetta is the new standard.

Where does it come from? 
We use whole suckling pigs grown with our partners at Ralston Farms in Mendham, New Jersey. The pig is a cross between Berkshire and Glouchestershire Old Spot and is, of course, raised humanely. I use these pigs to make what I like to call “the Jockey Hollow porchetta cut.”

How do you do it? 
We debone the whole pig, then stuff it with spiced ground meat from the testa (head). The porchetta cures for about three months before serving.

JHBK_Charcuterie_Daniel Krieger_resized
Charcuterie at Jockey Hollow, served on artful wood slabs

Why do you love making it?
I came up with this one night while staring at whole pigs sitting in the kitchen. I had the idea of turning one into a massive zampone (stuffed trotter) of sorts, served charcuterie-style. The texture is similar to ham, but a little thicker cut. We use rosemary, garlic and Calabrian chilies to enhance that distinct pork flavor and serve it with pickled eggplant.

When is it “in season”?
Right now. Since these are raised by our boys over at Ralston, I like to use the pigs around this time because they’re being fed what’s in season: tomatoes, fennel, oyster shells, etc. So the flavor of the pig changes, and it’s really delicious. All our pigs from Ralston Farms are fed with the compost from Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen.

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The Unsung Hero At Frankies Is Their Other Oil: Grape Seed http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/the-unsung-hero-at-frankies-is-their-other-oil-grapeseed/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/the-unsung-hero-at-frankies-is-their-other-oil-grapeseed/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 15:00:52 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122056 Hometown heroes Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli have long established classic Italian greatness at Frankies Spuntino with the help of their unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil. Sourced from olives grown in Trapani, Sicily, the oil is packaged in coated steel cans to protect it from heat and sunlight. The Franks’ unsung hero, however, is their grape seed oil.

The grape seed oil comes from the same farm as their olive oil in Sicily, is a by-product of winemaking, making the oil an environmentally helpful one. Seeds from wine grapes, which are in abundance according to Castronovo, are extracted from the fruits and pressed for their oil.

“It’s a good, healthy oil,” he says.

The neutral, high-heat oil is a healthy alternative to canola oil that offers a clean, light taste. It’s often used in aioli and salad dressings at their Manhattan and Brooklyn locations. They’ll also sometimes blend grape seed and olive oils because the taste of the latter can prove to be “too overpowering.” The grape seed oil is the only other oil used at Frankies Spuntino and is also one of Castronovo’s go-tos when cooking at home. He first learned about grape seed oil when he was working under Daniel Boulud and discovered it was as much a cooking staple as sea salt and olive oil.

“I always have cans of olive and grape seed oil in the kitchen,” he says.

As an alternative to canola oil, grape seed oil provides a high smoke point, meaning the oil can be heated to a high temperature before burning, making deep-frying and sautéing faster and easier. It’s also full of antioxidants, boosts the amount of high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) in the body while reducing the amount of low-density lipoprotein (you guessed it, bad cholesterol), according to Castronovo. Why you would ever use canola oil again is beyond us.

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While you wouldn’t dip your bread in it, grape-seed oil blends well with olive oil and mellows out overpowering flavors.

Although the Franks’ grape seed oil may not garner as much attention as their olive oil, it’s been around since Spuntino opened more than a decade ago. It’s available in stores in the same beautiful steel cans.

Frankies Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup hot tap water
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil
  • 5 turns white pepper
  • Large pinch of fine sea salt
  • Tiniest drip of honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until emulsified. The color of the dressing should be uniform and the texture silky-smooth.
  2. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  3. Use immediately or keep, covered, in the fridge for as short a time as possible (and no longer than 24 hours).
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Heading To Ole Miss For The Game? Here Are 5 Places To Eat Incredibly Well In Oxford, Mississippi http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/heading-to-ole-miss-for-the-game-here-are-5-places-to-eat-incredibly-well-in-oxford-mississippi/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/heading-to-ole-miss-for-the-game-here-are-5-places-to-eat-incredibly-well-in-oxford-mississippi/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 14:00:24 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122293 Grove Flickr Ken Lund
The Grove is the place to be on a home game Saturday in Oxford. (Photo: Ken Lund on flickr.com.)

If there’s anything that Southerners care about more than their regional cuisine, it’s gotta be SEC football! To celebrate the official kickoff of the 2015-16 college football season this weekend, Food Republic is launching a new series, SEC FoodBall. Each week, we’ll profile a Southeastern Conference town, and more importantly tell you where you should eat and drink if you’re fortunate enough to attend a game there. We’ll also solicit advice from some locals to make sure you have the benefit of home team advantage.

Week 1: University of Tennessee-Martin at University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi; Sept. 5

Let’s get the biscuit rolling with what many people think is the prototypical SEC town: Oxford, Mississippi. A pregame tailgate in the Grove is a rite of passage for many football fans, with elaborate food and drink displays laid out under circus-size tents and waves of well-dressed alumni and students sharing fellowship. Saturdays this season should be no different.

Nobody expects a competitive game out of the hometown Rebels’ first opponent, UT-Martin, as this is the equivalent of a preseason game for Ole Miss. Vegas isn’t even offering odds on what should turn out to be a glorified practice for the Rebels, but that just means fans should be able to duck out of Vaught-Hemingway Stadium by halftime and get an early start on the postgame eating and drinking. We asked a local for some advice on where they should be heading.

Kelly English is best known for his two Memphis eateries, Restaurant Iris and the Second Line, but as a proud and active Ole Miss grad, Oxford is near and dear to his heart. In fact, he just recently opened the second location of the Second Line right off the town square, and locals are already lining up for English’s casual New Orleans–inspired menu, which includes meat pies, crawfish hush puppies and drip-down-your-forearms roast beef po’boys.

Kelly English
Ole Miss alum Kelly English: We weren’t kidding about that po’boy.

Here’s where he sends his friends when they visit from out of town:

Cheap Eats
Even if you spent most of your bankroll on 50-yard-line seats, it’s still possible to eat well in Oxford. English spent plenty of time dining on a college budget, so he knows of what he speaks. His first tip is the Double Cheeseburger at Handy Andy, an old-school grocery that serves up burgers and barbecue to cash-poor students. English says the cheeseburger still haunts him years later: “We all chase that burger. It’s so simple and just the textbook flattop burger.” Served hot off the griddle oozing with melted yellow American cheese that you’ll want to lick off the wax paper, it’s ultimately satisfying when paired with a sack of crinkle-cut fries. Handy Andy, 800 North Lamar Boulevard, Oxford, MS 38655; 662-234-4621

Splurge
For bigger budgets, English points visitors to the flagship restaurant of the unquestioned king of the Oxford dining scene, John Currence. The Big Bad Chef runs several restaurants in town, but City Grocery is doubtlessly the jewel of the crown. The bar upstairs is an iconic gathering spot for everyone from Ole Miss students and professors discussing Faulkner to the cognoscenti of the Oxford-based Southern Foodways Alliance meeting to discuss the past and future of the food and culture of the region. (Seriously, SFA holds its annual membership meetings in the City Grocery bar each fall as part of the organization’s annual symposium.) Currence combines comfort with elegance at City Grocery with an ambience created by exposed brick walls and ancient hardwood floors accented by white linen and romantic candlelight. The cuisine features inventive Southern dishes with plenty of international twists to pique the taste buds. English is a fan: “City Grocery is such an important restaurant; it could never be mentioned enough!” City Grocery, 152 Courthouse Sq., Oxford, MS 38655; 662-232-8080

City Grocery
City Grocery, the nexus of the Oxford food universe

Eat Like a Local
Another of Currence’s restaurants receives English’s praise when considering spots for visitors to really get the full Oxford experience. Currence refers to the cuisine at his French bistro/North Mississippi café hybrid, Snackbar, as “Bubba Brasserie,” and Vishwesh Bhatt oversees the kitchen with great deftness. In addition to crazy charcuterie dishes like smoked catfish rillettes, there’s a great raw bar featuring the best of Gulf seafood. Frankly, it’s enough to make another chef a little angry. Says English, “Vish’s food makes it one of those restaurants that makes you mad because it’s so damned good!” Snackbar, 721 N. Lamar Blvd., Oxford, MS 38655; 662-236-6363

BBQ
No visit to SEC territory is complete without seeking out the best barbecue in the immediate area, and it’s no surprise that Currence is also involved with English’s favorite smoked meat emporium. Lamar Lounge was originally built and owned by the folks behind Fat Possum Records, the independent record label started by two Ole Miss students that popularized original Mississippi blues music acts like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough and then hit the mainstream with releases by the Black Keys and Iggy and the Stooges. When the Fat Possum folks decided to get out of the club business, they left their excellent sound system, bar and restaurant to Currence, who now operates the barbecue pit under a novel nonprofit operating system. The small restaurant seats about 50 indoors and 30 more outside by the custom barbecue pit, where patrons can interact with pitmasters practicing the arcane arts of whole hog cookery. Profits are donated to local Oxford charitable organizations such as Good Food for Oxford Schools. As warm and fuzzy as all that generosity makes English feel, that’s not what brings him to the Lamar Lounge on game days. It’s the “tot-chos,” nachos made using tater tots instead of chips, covered in barbecued meat, jalapeños and all the other usual nacho accoutrements. “The stupid ridiculous tater tot and BBQ dish at Lamar Lounge makes me want to be back in college, if you know what I mean.” Oh, we know. Lamar Lounge, 1309 N. Lamar Blvd., Oxford, MS 38655; 662-513-6197

Currence
John Currence, the Big Bad Chef himself

As a final tip, English suggests that you never leave town without partaking in one other Oxford food ritual: chicken on a stick. Exactly like it sounds, this local tradition is simply a large fried tender made even more convenient thanks to the addition of a wooden skewer. Rarely consumed before midnight (or sober), chicken on a stick is available at gas stations all around town, but everybody seems to have their preferred purveyor of portable poultry. English is no exception. “You gotta go to the Chevron on the corner of Lamar and University next to the square,” he says. “If you are particularly inebriated, a pizza roll ain’t a bad idea, either.”

As they say down in Oxford, Hotty Toddy!

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There’s No Need For Human Interaction At This San Francisco Restaurant http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/theres-no-need-for-human-interaction-at-this-san-francisco-restaurant/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/03/theres-no-need-for-human-interaction-at-this-san-francisco-restaurant/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 13:00:52 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122416 We live in a world where large chunks of our time are spent in solitude and in front of a screen. It has come to the point where human interaction is seen almost as a tedious part of one’s day. If we can avoid it, we will at all costs. In no aspect of life is this more apparent than in food. We’ll order takeout and make reservations through the Internet and with apps like Seamless, OpenTable and Postmates, just to name a few. Think about it: When was the last time you placed a delivery order over the telephone?

A restaurant in San Francisco has taken this concept one step further. Opened this week, Eatsa is a completely waiter-less restaurant, according to Inside Scoop SF. Its walls are lined with iPads and cubbies with glass doors, in which food appears after it has been summoned. The doors also display the customer’s name…and probably don’t spell it incorrectly. Patrons can choose from eight quinoa-based vegetarian bowls or create their own.

This is great news for the socially anxious. For one, the embarrassment of accidentally telling your server to also enjoy his or her meal is erased. But will it help create jobs? We’re not so sure.

The place isn’t completely human-free: Inside Scoop SF reports that the “fully automated” restaurant has five or six human beings preparing the food in the kitchen, completely out of sight. It sounds a lot to us like the elves toiling away in the kitchens of Hogwarts, never seen in the outside world. And should your order go haywire, an attendant is present to put things right.

A Los Angeles expansion and — naturally — an app are already in the works. For a real change of pace, Eatsa is card only, so you won’t have to run to the ATM.

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21 Fresh Sides For Your Labor Day Barbecue http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/21-fresh-sides-for-your-labor-day-barbecue/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/21-fresh-sides-for-your-labor-day-barbecue/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:00:46 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122250 It’s time for one of the biggest grilling weekends of the year — a three-day affair with plenty of time to address all the barbecue greats: burgers, chicken, steaks, a whole dang suckling pig, you name it! No matter which meat is meeting its maker, you’ll need an extensive selection of sides to go along with it. We’ve got 21 delicious veggie-based sides with the crunch, tang, umami and/or herbaceousness you need to round out your feast. Now, what are we drinking?

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Banana Ketchup: The Philippines’ Answer To A Lack Of Tomatoes http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/banana-ketchup-the-philippines-answer-to-a-lack-of-tomatoes/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/banana-ketchup-the-philippines-answer-to-a-lack-of-tomatoes/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:00:06 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122153 Ketchup, traditional partner in crime for fries, hot dogs, meatloaf, eggs and more, has long been a staple on the counters of diners and burger joints. In Filipino cuisine, however, there’s a popular thick red sauce that also goes by the name ketchup. This much sweeter, less tangy red sauce is banana-based, with food coloring providing its ketchup-y hue. Banana ketchup also offers a contrast to the salty foods it’s served with, like chicken wings and fried foods.

Nicole Ponseca, owner of Maharlika, a modern Filipino restaurant in New York City, describes the origins of banana ketchup as a topic of folklore. “We always say when the U.S. came to the Philippines, they introduced us to canned goods, condiments, ketchup. We didn’t have a plethora of tomatoes, but what we did have was a lot of bananas, so it became de facto ketchup,” Ponseca says. “Do I think that it completely originated from tomato ketchup? No. I think we probably had something called banana sauce.”

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Tomato or banana? You could have fooled us.

According to Ponseca, Jufran, a popular brand of the sweet, tomato-less ketchup, isn’t even advertised as a ketchup, but rather “banana sauce.” Despite this, the condiment is popularly known as banana ketchup. Ponseca suggests this is partially due to the longstanding connection that many Filipinos feel to the U.S. “And we also have this cultural ambassador thing where we always try to relate things to other people,” she notes.

Philadelphia chef Lou Boquila makes his own version of banana ketchup with tomato paste at his pop-up restaurant Pelago and has served it with a fried version of tortang talong, an eggplant omelet from his childhood. Boquila says the omelet evokes his childhood method of making the dish more appealing.

“Growing up, as a kid, I didn’t like vegetables,” Boquila says. “You put some banana ketchup on it and it sort of masks the flavors. It’s just like eating a [regular] omelet.”

Ponseca also has fond memories of banana ketchup accompanying childhood breakfasts of Spam silog, a traditional Filipino dish of garlic rice, fried egg and fried Spam.

Maharlika's longsilog: garlic rice topped with a fried egg served with sweet garlic pork sausage and relish.
Maharlika’s longsilog: garlic rice topped with a fried egg, served with sweet garlic pork sausage and relish.

“Banana ketchup is always good on rice,” she says. “From observing what the guests do and from my own experience, people really like to incorporate it into the rice.”

At brunch, bottles of Jufran banana ketchup sit on Maharlika’s tables to accompany the various silogs on the menu.

Ponseca tells us that banana ketchup isn’t traditionally incorporated into meals as an ingredient, other than in Filipino spaghetti: spaghetti, banana ketchup and cut-up hot dogs. Maharlika chef Miguel Trinidad also works the ketchup into the restaurant’s barbecued ribs and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. Maharlika’s sister restaurant, Jeepney, serves up a homemade spicy banana ketchup (recipe below).

Ponseca says she sees banana ketchup as a “kitschy” condiment that pulls on the strings of nostalgia for many Filipinos but is also a great introduction to people not familiar with the cuisine.

“When you see people like the desserts at Milk Bar and they use cereal milk or people use cereal in their desserts, it isn’t so much that they love Twinkies or that they love cornflakes. It’s more that they love the feeling of what they had when they were a kid. I think that’s what banana ketchup really does,” she says. “If you’re getting to know Filipino food, banana ketchup is a great introduction to the beginning of a world of flavor.”

Pelago’s House-Made Banana Ketchup

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 2 ounces tomato paste
  • 4 bananas (Saba if possible)
  • 2 ounces white vinegar
  • 2 ounces water
  • 4 ounces brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Sweat garlic, shallot and ginger for 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  3. Deglaze with vinegar and water.
  4. Add brown sugar and bananas; cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Puree mixture until smooth, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
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This Pocket-Sized Sensor Could Help You Manage Your Gluten Allergy http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/this-pocket-sized-sensor-could-help-your-gluten-allergy/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/this-pocket-sized-sensor-could-help-your-gluten-allergy/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:00:24 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122266 Alerting your server to your food allergies isn’t enough anymore. A tech company in San Francisco called Nima has created a sensor that will take samples of your food and test it for gluten, according to Food and Wine.

The pocket-sized sensor samples food in a “test pod” and signals in just two minutes’ time with a frowny or smiley face whether or not the dish is safe, according to the company’s website.

The device’s small size ensures discreet testing in case you don’t want to bother your server…or do not trust him or her. Nima will be taking pre-orders this fall with plans to start shipping in spring 2016. If the upcoming allergen-centric emojis aren’t released in time, the sensor could also help when traveling overseas. Should the sensor still confuse you, Nima has released an infographic on how to dine with it.

There’s no word on how much the sensor will cost, but we imagine it won’t come cheap. Replacement pods will also have to be repurchased, as they aren’t reusable.

Nima is currently only available for gluten alerts, but sensors for peanut, dairy and soy allergens are also in the works.

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Making Your Own Deli Meats At Home: Equal Parts Simple And Delicious http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/make-your-own-deli-meats-at-home-equal-parts-simple-and-delicious/ http://www.foodrepublic.com/2015/09/02/make-your-own-deli-meats-at-home-equal-parts-simple-and-delicious/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.foodrepublic.com/?p=122282 Food Republic’s column Ask Your Butcher seeks to answer FAQs in the world of butchery. Ethically minded butcher Bryan Mayer founded Philadelphia’s Kensington Quarters and helped develop a renowned butcher-training program at Brooklyn’s Fleisher’s. Today, he consults with farmers, chefs, butchers and anyone else who will listen. In each column, Mayer tackles a pressing issue facing both meat buyers and home cooks. Here, he explores making deli meats at home.

I’ve always found a certain amount of catharsis in making a sandwich. Firstly, there’s choosing the type of bread: perhaps a brioche or challah, to balance the saltiness of the meat, if any. Or, maybe a sfilatino, my personal favorite for a panino. Then there are your olive oil-based breads, like focaccia and ciabatta, sourdoughs, whole grains and, yes, even wraps.

Why single out wraps? Back in 2006, a Massachusetts court heard a case that determined the legal definition of a wrap. Panera Bread, which had been granted exclusivity over all things sandwich at a suburban mall, charged that an encroaching Qdoba — with its signature burritos — was, in fact, serving sandwiches. A quick look at Webster’s Dictionary and a few expert witnesses later, and the judge ruled in favor of Qdoba. However, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America calls wraps “sandwiches” and so does Wikipedia. So that settles it for me. I’m going with a wrap being a sandwich. (Feel free to use that little story at your next dinner party.)

But I digress. What are we putting between (or inside) that bread? Meat! Okay, veggies too, and sometimes only veggies. I could eat a falafel from Aba’s every day. Whether it’s a muffuletta from Cochon in New Orleans, stacked high with cured pork and beef, or a simple beef salami-and-bologna sandwich from Montreal’s Wilensky’s, however, meat is at the center of a great sandwich. So as summer comes to an end and you’re set to head back to school or spend more time at the office while trying to save a little extra cash, why not seriously up your sandwich game and make your own deli meats?

While there are a few examples out there of decently sourced (and somewhat healthily prepared) ready-to-eat deli meats, most leave a lot to be desired. Whether composed from animals raised in less-than-idealistic conditions or pumped full of water and unnecessary ingredients, why not take the same agency over your sandwich as you do over your burger? Making your own deli meats requires little more than buying a great hunk of meat and cooking it. Sure, there’s the prep time of making a sandwich, but while all your coworkers are waiting in line at whatever the next sandwich hotness is, you’ll actually get to enjoy your lunch break.

Let’s start by talking about equipment needs. Before you run out to your local restaurant equipment store, there are a couple of hacks that might work for you. The simplest and easiest is a sharp knife. Now, you won’t get those paper-thin slices that you can read through, but sometimes you want a little something to sink your teeth into, especially with corned beef. Of course, you’ll have to maintain that razor-sharp edge, and that requires either more equipment or a great knife shop.

Here’s hack number two: I’m sure many of you have a mandoline. Yes, that torture device created with the sole purpose of slicing off bits of your fingertips while you make homemade potato chips. (Homemade chips, by the way, are a great accompaniment to your homemade deli meats; severed fingertips, not so much.) With a little forethought, this device can be repurposed as a makeshift meat slicer. All that’s needed is a bit of par-freezing for a couple of hours and your meat should be stiff enough to get some fairly thin slices. Not satisfied with these options? A meat slicer it is! I recommend something small, lightweight and somewhat inexpensive. Remember that you’re not Katz’s and are not churning out 1,000 sandwiches a day. You can get a slicer from LEM, maker of home processing and sausage-making equipment, for less than $100. I’ve used LEM products for years and have always been satisfied.

Roast Beef

roast beef
Making rare, tender roast beef at home is as simple as it gets.

Let’s start with a simple roast beef. I find few things more satisfying than a roast beef sandwich and a root beer. Heck, I’ll even gussy it up a bit with dinner and enjoy a glass or two of red wine. Whatever your drink of choice, this is as simple as it gets. You don’t need to go fancy with your cuts for this. But, as always, let’s make sure that we’re sourcing from local farms that raise animals out on pasture and are grass-fed — you knew I was going to say this. I think eye-of-round is the perfect cut. It’s a single muscle off the round (leg), free of any sinew and, hopefully, trimmed properly by your butcher, with a nice fat cap. You’ll want that fat, as it will add to the flavor as it renders while you slowly roast.

But let’s back up. The night before, take your eye round and liberally salt it, wrap it and place it in your fridge overnight. The salt will act as a tenderizer as well as add flavor. When you’re ready to cook, salt and pepper the roast, toss in a few beef bones, set your oven to 300°F and roast until the internal temp is 115°F to 120°F. You’ll get a perfectly rare roast beef. Let it cool and slice away. I keep things classic with a couple of slices of rye, lettuce, tomato and onion, and, of course mayo. I dig the Sir Kensington variety, as it’s got a bit of a lemony tang to it.

Roast Beef Recipe

Ingredients
1 three- to four-pound eye round, fat cap on
2 tablespoons fine sea salt
Coarse salt and peppercorns to taste
A few small beef bones

Directions:

  1. Rub two tablespoons salt on the eye round and place in a zip-top bag or in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Remove roast and quickly rinse. Add coarse sea salt and peppercorns as desired and place roast along with bones in a roast dish.
  3. Roast at 300°F until the internal temp reads 115-120°F.
  4. Allow roast to cool for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Ham

IMG_4529-2
Brine your ham at home with salt and sugar to make the perfect ham and cheese.

The porcine equivalent to the simple roast beef is a classic ham and cheese. Serve it on a crusty, buttered baguette with a few thin slices of Swiss cheese and perhaps a side of pickles and mustard. Prepping a ham takes a bit longer than your roast beef, but it’s absolutely worth it. You won’t need a whole ham, unless you’re planning on making lunch for the entire office for the week. Ask your butcher to reserve you the top round or bottom round from the ham.

This time we’re going to switch things up a bit and boil it. Or rather, we’re going to simmer it. But first, we brine. (I keep things simple here.) As with our beef, your pork should have great natural flavor. Why cover it up? Salt and sugar is all you need. For your three- to four-pound ham, two and a half and one tablespoon, respectively, should do. Place your ham in a large bowl, cover with water, add salt and sugar and allow a day per pound to brine. The longer you allow it to brine, the more flavorful it will be. After you’ve brined, all that’s left to do is cook. Give your ham a quick rinse, toss it into a pot, fill with water and simmer until it reaches about 155°F. That’s usually 20 to 25 minutes per pound.

Ham Recipe

Ingredients
1 three- to four-pound top round or bottom round, fat on for bottom round, cap muscle on for top round
2½ tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar (you can use honey or another sweetener if desired)

Directions:

  1. Place your ham in a bowl, fill with water to cover and add salt and sugar. Allow 3 to 4 days for brining. The longer you wait, the more flavorful it will be.
  2. After the ham has been brined, rinse quickly, toss it in a pot, cover with water and simmer until it reaches about 155°F, roughly 20 minutes per pound.
  3. Alternatively, you can roast in your oven at 250-300°F, until the internal temp reaches roughly 150°F for a more golden backed ham.

Corned Beef

corned beef
A spice mix will do wonders to flavor your fatty brisket for corned beef sandwiches.

I’ve saved the most labor-intensive, time-consuming and, in my opinion, tastiest cut for last: corned beef. “Corning” is another word for adding salt to meat, or curing. I like using a rather fatty, four- to five-pound piece of brisket. To that, you add a mix of clove, allspice, juniper berries, cinnamon, ginger, bay leaves and sugar, cure for several days, simmer for a few hours and you’re done. Now, a cold corned beef sandwich will never replace the classic Reuben. But as they say, a cold corned beef sandwich is better than no sandwich at all. Two pieces of rye, some Swiss, a spicy, coarse-ground mustard and a bit of coleslaw if you like, and enjoy it cold. If you’re at home, use just a bit of butter in a pan to heat things up. If your office has a sandwich press, even better!

Corned Beef (adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe)

Ingredients
1 four- to five-pound brisket with fat on
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
8 whole cloves
8 allspice berries
12 whole juniper berries
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

  1. Simmer two quarts of water and spices over high heat until salt and sugar have fully dissolved. Allow the brine to cure until it reaches 41°F.
  2. Place the brisket in the brine and allow it to fully submerge. A great way to keep the brine on the entire brisket is to use a tea towel, soaked in the brine, and lay it over any exposed part. Place the the pot in your fridge up to 10 days.
  3. After ten days, remove the brisket from the pot and give it a quick rinse. Place it in a pot and add your standard mirepoix of onion, carrots and celery. Add enough water to cover half of the brisket. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for roughly three hours. It’s done when it’s tender!

With so many permutations of the homemade sandwich, one could never get bored. Unless, of course, you have a problem with the most efficient and delicious meal delivery system ever created.

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