I don't have time to do a proper blog post today so I'm putting up a snapshot from recipe testing for the Toro Bravo Cookbook: The Making, Breaking and Riding of a Bull (McSweeney's fall 2013). We're full steam ahead with the book and I have a lot of recipes to write this week so I'm going to get back to that. I also have a nasty sunburn to apply aloe to every few hours since Portland summer has finally arrived. Hope you are doing well and getting out and enjoying summer to the fullest. I spent Saturday at the river and Sunday at a lake. Lucky.
Q & A with Dave Blaikie (If you haven't read the first part of this blog series you can at DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1)
Me: When did you build your smoker?
Dave: In 2009.
Me: How did you make it?
Dave: I made it out of a 55-gallon drum that used to be filled with vegetable oil. A man was selling them in his front yard and I had to get one. It was 15 bucks and I wedged it into the back seat of a Mazda Protege. Sheet metal that I found in a scrap pile and angle steel lengths make up the smoker box and stand. It took a week to cut and weld all the pieces in my garage. The design is based on a smoker my friend had.
Me: What are your favorite things to smoke?
Dave:Anything pork. Baby back ribs are my faves followed by the pork butt, and country-style ribs.
Me: Any advice for someone who's never smoked meat before and is about to try?
Dave: Ask questions. For starters, get a good book because you have a lot to learn and you're going to be sitting for a while. Don't use lighter fluid, unless you like that taste in your food. Use a mixture of woods. I use oak or mesquite as a fuel wood and add any fruit wood that I can get my hands on. You can use all fruit wood if you want for both fuel and flavor as well. Apple wood is my favorite and if you can get your hands on some, do it.
Get the temperature in the smoker up to where you want it. You want to have a good fire going but want the smoke to be as light as you can get it. Don't worry it'll have a smoky flavoring without too much smoke. That's about it. Every smoker is different and it takes time to understand the in's and out's of each one. Oh yeah, don't rush it. This is all about kicking back with your friends, drinking and salivating over an aroma that can only be made from smoking meat.
Check out DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1
Our friend Dave built the above barrel smoker a few years ago and we've gotten to eat all sorts of delicious things smoked in it. A little less than a year ago Dave needed someplace to store it and we've had it at our house ever since.
Late April Dave and his fiance Rachel came over and we celebrated their engagement by smoking an insane amount of meat for four people while splitting wood from our old apple tree that we cut down this winter. It was a really old tree -- one arborist thought it was nearly as old as our 100+ year old house -- and hollowed out as you'll see in the photos. Although the wood is still drying it was the perfect combo because apple wood which is ideal for smoking meat.
That day with Dave and Rachel we smoked a five pound brisket, three pound pork butt, and a rack of pork and beef ribs. Don't worry -- in the end, we invited some other friends over to help us eat it all.
We mortar and pestled herbs and spices and then dry-rubbed all of the meat with various combinations, adding brown sugar to some of the rubs and leaving it off of others. We got the smoker up to temperature (Dave says the sweet spot temperature-wise is 220-230) with mesquite, dried some apple wood while doing that, and then put all the meat into the smoker at 3:30pm to cook until about 8pm -- 4.5 hours.
The hottest spot on the racks is of course right by the smoke chute. We put our meat in when it got to 200. Then as the meat smoked we occasionally rotated things and cracked the door if it got too hot -- we tried to keep it between 220-230 -- and added wood if the fire got low.
You don't want too much smoke -- just a bit. We put wood shavings in a small cast-iron skillet and had an apple wood fire with mesquite coals in the barbecue. Although we didn't do it this time Dave usually adds vinegar and mustard to the meat toward the end to keep it moist. And if you don't know this already you always want to remove the silvery membrane from ribs so that they cook properly.
Up next a Q&A with the meat master himself -- Dave Blaikie!
Taste of the Nation truly gets bigger and better every year. We had a fantastic time eating and drinking all sorts of amazing things from Portland area chefs and food/drink folks at this year's Taste of the Nation at Luxe Autohaus. (Always made much better by the fact that 100% of the proceeds go toward local child hunger relief.) If you don't know about the event you can read more about it here and here. We paced ourselves a lot better this year so that by the end (and we stayed until the very end -- as in tables being folded) we felt full but not roll-out-the-door full.
It's hard to pick favorites but I think it's good to give credit where credit is due. SO here are my top five favorite things that I ate at this year's Taste of the Nation (not to mention all the delicious wine, beer and bubbly) followed by photos...
Top five bites at this year's Taste of the Nation in no particular order...La Calaca Comelona's rainbow chard wrapped masa with pork in a red sauce Biwa's braised pork and house pickled vegetable lettuce wraps Bamboo Sushi's Oregon albacore carpaccio Fifty Lick's coconut lemon saffron sorbet Davis Street Tavern's cold carrot fennel soup with sorrel salsa verde
You know who you are lucky #17 commenter Jaime! You've won yourself two tickets to this year's Taste of the Nation. Drop me a line @ info at lizcrain dot com with your full name and contact info. and I'll pass that along to the organizers who are donating the tickets.
Thanks everyone for all of your tasty comments! I'm looking forward to checking a lot of the places out and trying the foods and drinks that you mentioned. I haven't tried a lot of them which makes me happy. I might just print all the comments out and keep the list in my bag so I don't forget.
For those of you who didn't win tickets there are still tickets left for this year's Taste of the Nation and if you can I suggest you snag them. It's one of the absolute best food events in town and I highly recommend it. In addition to it being delicious and super fun 100% of proceeds go toward ending local child hunger. Gotta feel good about that.
Share Our Strength's Taste of the Nation Monday, May 2nd, 2011 5-9pm LUXE Autohaus 410 NE 17th Ave. Portland, OR 97232 Tickets $85 (order by phone 877.26TASTE, online or at any New Seasons Market) www.portlandtaste.org
It's been two years since I started this blog as a sort of companion piece to my book Food Lover's Guide to Portland. Since the beginning I've aimed to keep my posts short and sweet and informative for Portland food folks and visitors. I hope it's been helpful. This time last year I celebrated one year of blogging with a sort of year-in-review. It was a nice way to take stock so I'm doing it again for the two-year marker. Thanks for stopping by now and again. Thanks for chiming in now and again. Thanks to each and every one of you out there who celebrate our local food scene in Portland and beyond. Here are some blog highlights from the past year...
I started off February 2010 with our semi-annual Cincinnati chili feed. Can't beat Gartner's dogs, spicy Cincy chili and finely grated Tillamook cheddar...
I won an Excalibur Food Dehydrator and made my first batch of spicy beef jerky late March. It was amazing and I've made it many times since...
In May I had my first interview in The Sun Magazine with one of my favorite people -- Sandor Ellix Katz...
Several weeks later I had a kick-ass book launch party for Food Lover's Guide to Portland the day it came out -- July 1st, 2010...
At the end of summer my boyfriend and I went on a magical 10-day sailing trip around the San Juan Islands and I blogged about our DIY galley cooking in three installments...
In the fall we put together a filled-to-the-gills second annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust...
Late December I got to press hard cider with our friend Nat and he gave me a carboy of the stuff to take home and ferment myself...
And just in time for the new year I made miso for the first time. In a month or so I'll be checking on it...
THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT YEAR!
Eat, drink and be hairy!
I get a fair number of review copies in the mail and I have to say that Primal Cuts: Cooking with America's Best Butchers is one of the more exciting ones. One reason I got a review copy is because of the 50 US butchers that Marissa Guggiana interviews in what her publisher Welcome Books calls "a modern meat bible" three are from Portland:
I wish I had a scale here at my studio because I'd weigh this meat tome. Oh wait, there's the online oracle -- ok so it's an impressive three-plus pounds. This is a hefty book that costs a pretty penny and although I know you can get three-pounds of pork butt for significantly less -- and then you can make Ben Dyer's Little Smokies pickled in a hot vinegary brine on page 125 -- the book is worth every penny.
Each butcher profiled introduces him or herself and then there are great, big photos of them with their meat (excuse me but it's true) as well as recipes for everything from cinnamon oxtail stew (Gabriel Claycamp, formerly from The Swinery, WA) and pork belly confit (Olivia Sargeant, Farm 255, GA) to boudin (Donald Link, Cochon Butcher, LA) and venison jerky (Scott Leysath, The Sporting Chef, CA). In addition to recipes the books includes DIY for homemade sausage, bacon and dry cured meats as well as advice for kick-ass burgers, deboning a chicken and making stock.
It's a fantastic book and I'm really looking forward to learning and cooking from it. Even though it's a little over the top when pulled out of context I really like what Dario Cecchini says in the book's introduction:
Here is the essence of our craft as butchers: a task crude and compassionate, strong yet delicate, always respectful toward the killed animal, with the ethical imperative of always using the meat in the best manner possible, knowing that, since the beginning of time, these animals were were given to mankind as a gift from God.
Saving the best for last, Primal Cuts is coming to Portland:
Friday, November 12, 7:30pm Dinner with Marissa Guggiana, Jason Barwikowski, & Ben Dyer Simpatica Catering & Dining Hall 828 Southeast Ash Street Portland, OR 97214
The menu from Simpatica's site:
Sliced Corned Veal Tongue and Fried Oxtail Roulade with Broken Sauce Gribiche, Grilled Toasts and Bitter Herb Salad
Turnip and Turnip Top Soup
Wood-Roasted Whole Cattail Creek Lamb with Chickpea and Viridian Farms Grilled Pepper Stew and Skordalia
Blood Orange Curd Crepes with Chantilly Cream
Price is $40 per person plus wine and gratuity. Dinner begins at 7:30pm. Please email Simpatica or call the kitchen at 503.235.1600 to make reservations.
And Thursday, November 18th:
Info. from the press release:
$20 PRESALE. $30 DOOR. Buy your ticket today at email@example.com Thursday, November 18th 7-11pm The Cleaners at Ace Hotel 403 SW 10th Avenue
***AFTER PARTY*** After you fill up on all that local meaty goodness and get dancing to the beats at The Cleaners you’ll want to keep going. Head down the street to Beauty Bar for Homo Deluxe/Primal Cuts After Party. Beauty Bar 111 Southwest Ash Street, Portland
In October I got an invitation to attend one of two Oregon Culinary Institute dinners that I've been looking forward to ever since. Both dinners sound great but by process of already-have-plans elimination I'm going to the first one next Tuesday night.
What exactly am I talking about? Here's some info...
Wednesday, November 10th, 7pm @ Oregon Culinary Institute -- Wine & Swine five-course fundraiser dinner with wine pairings from Chehalem Winery to benefit Ecotrust's Farm to School program. MENU & TICKETS.
Tickets for each dinner are $75.
A little background...
In May, OCI purchased three Red Wattle hogs from Heritage Farms Northwest in Dallas, Oregon. Red Wattles are a breed of hog listed on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste. According to Slow Food USA, "Red Wattle pork is exceptionally lean and juicy with a rich beef-like taste and texture." Mmm.
The breed is named for its color and distinctive wattles that hang from either side of its neck -- similar to the wattles of some goat breeds. Since May two of the pigs have been pen-raised at Sweet Briar Farms in Eugene and the other pasture-raised at Heritage Farms Northwest. All OCI culinary students were invited to participate in the project.
On November 9th and 10th OCI Chef Instructor Josh Blythe and a crew of students will prepare five-course dinners with each dish featuring side-by-side comparisons of the pasture- and pen-raised pork. OCI Baking and Pastry Chef Instructor Salvatore Hall and his students will prepare dessert. Each course will be tailored to the beverages served that night.
Wealth Underground Farm, an organic CSA farm located on Newberry Rd. off Skyline Blvd. in Portland, is providing produce for both dinners.
All events surrounding this project, leading up to and including the final dinners, are being filmed and edited into a final video production by Actual Industries.
About Oregon Culinary Institute:
Established in 2006 as a division of Pioneer Pacific College, Oregon Culinary Institute offers a complete, practical and affordable culinary arts education where students can earn Associate of Applied Science degrees in Culinary Management, Baking and Pastry Management, and Restaurant Management. The school also offers diplomas in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, and Restaurant Management, Students may also earn a Sommelier Diploma at Oregon Culinary Institute in cooperation with the International Sommelier Guild. OCI’s student-run fine-dining restaurant serves lunch and dinner, most Mondays through Fridays. Reservations are recommended.
My mom and her husband visited Portland from Cincinnati (where I grew up) mid-August and I've been meaning to post about their visit for awhile since a lot of what we did centered around food and drink as it usually does. We had some great meals out at Toro Bravo, Ping and Acadia to name a few and we also had a really good barbecue at home on their last night in town.
The trek we took this time while they visited was out to the Gorge. On our way out in the morning we stocked up on all sorts of great picnic supplies and then we pretty much beelined for Maryhill Museum of Art. I wanted to finally visit what Raymond Carver referred to, in so many words, as the strangest museum he ever went to.
By the time we got there mid-day -- it takes about two hours from Portland -- we were hungry and headed straight to the picnic grounds. It was a great picnic spot next to the sculpture garden and behind the museum with our peacock friend. My favorite foods from the picnic were the spicy paprika loaf from Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen on Grand Central baguette and the tiny pickled anchovies from New Seasons Market.
On the way home (the museum was great and I fully agree with Carver) we only had time for one winery stop so we made it Syncline Winery and I'm so happy that we did. We tasted several of their delicious reds and whites and came home with two whites -- their Viognier and Roussanne. I'll be back to Maryhill and to Syncline. Check both out the next time you're in the area.
So much has happened since I last posted. I really don't know where to begin so I think I'll start with what's consuming my thoughts just 100 percent today -- my book launch party last night for Food Lover's Guide to Portland at Fortune Tattoo. I know it's probably dorky to say but last night was one of the best nights of my life. I'm beyond happy that so many friends, fellow food folks and complete strangers came out last night to celebrate. It was magic. Loving life right now.
((ATTENTION: My ex-boyfriend, Tyler Adams, no longer co-owns Fortune Tattoo. Visit his North Portland shop -- Grizzly Tattoo -- which opened June, 2011.))
I'm overwhelmed by the thought of describing the evening so I'm just going to post a bunch of photos for those of you who were there and those who couldn't make it. It was a blast and couldn't have happened without the overly generous food and drink donations as well as awesome help of my friends, boyfriend, Fortune Tattoo and of my publishing house Sasquatch Books. Thank you Portland. I love you more than ever!