Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Intriguingly Spotty Story of the Jalapeño Popper and a Recipe

Perhaps the result of a Canadian upbringing, but my context for encountering the Jalapeño Popper phenomenon has almost invariably been the greasy laminated pages of generic sports bars. Despite they're uninspired setting, the Jalapeño Popper seems to possess a very tenacious power of memory eradication. You eat, you burn, you sweat, you swear off, then months later, you do it again. This induced amnesia is perhaps a human pain coping mechanism, or maybe it's an adaptive measure taken by the plant and all it's lineage, to ensure continued growth and cultivation.

But that is the Jalapeño proper, I am not Michael Pollan, and we're here  to talk about the Jalapeño Poppers.

It's suspected that Jalapeño Poppers are an Americanized version of the Mexican chile relleno. The name popped up in a big way when Anchor Food Products of Appleton, WI used the term for a brand of cheese-stuffed Jalapeños. The company formally applied for the trademark "Poppers" in 1992, only to be rebuffed by the Poppers Supply Company of Portland, OR (they made popcorn). In 1993, Poppers Supply Co. successfully maintained the "Poppers" trademark for "coated and breaded vegetable pieces," only to transfer it to Anchor Food Products on September 12th, 2001. Not 13 days thereafter, HJ Heinz announced the acquisition of the Poppers brand, while Canadian giant McCain Foods acquired Anchor's production facilities, including plants in Pecos, TX and Cuauhtemoc, Mexico. To this day, McCain encourages you to, "Get Your Party Started" with Anchor Poppers. Whatever.

So why the fuck did did so many people care about the popper?  Simple answer: demand. By 2000, Anchor had annual sales of $503MM USD and production facilities ready to maintain that growth. Complicated answer: there is something deceptively addictive about the heat of a Jalapeño Popper, so powerful, it brought millions shaking, sweating and falling mercifully to their knees, arms outstretched, collective wallet spilling forth cash for just one more taste.

So without further adieu, a recipe!

The Crew
- 10 - 12 Jalapeños
- Cream Cheese
- Fresh Mozzarella
- 1 Shallot, Minced
- Tootkpicks

Ready the ships
Cut the stems of the Jalapeño without interrupting the top surface area. Then, halve the Jalapeños down the middle, length-wise. Be sure you keep each resulting half with it's partner, as you'll be putting them back together again shortly.

Abolish all Mutineers
Take a spoon and remove the entire inside membrane, including all seeds. God help you if you leave seeds in there.

Steady the Men
Fill one side of the split Jalapeño with cream cheese and minced shallots, and the other side with fresh mozzarella. Then close the two sides down on each other and secure with a toothpick. Step and repeat til you've made it through all 12.

Set Sail
Get the grill going at 325 direct heat, and put those poppers on down. Flip after 20 to make sure both sides get a good singe, and keep it going for another 20 - 25. When the cheese starts to ooze out the sides, you know you're done.

We took the poppers inside and stared at them apprehensively. Then I went for it while the others looked on nervously. It was a disaster. What felt like clear sailing turned into fricking Charybdis and the Sirens together on steroids. First my eyes watered, then I started sweating, then I closed my eyes, and just saw wild swirling patterns. I was indeed tripping on Jalapeño Poppers. And before you call me out, know I lived with an Indian roommate for 1 year, and a Texan for 2; so I ain't no slouch. Nevertheless, the only way I could continue was to put on some traditional Mexican garb and start drinking Mezcal as briskly as possible.

So have fun with your poppers, wear a costume if you have to and know that no matter how bad it gets, you'll keep coming back for more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mr. Samuel Kim's Magic Mushrooms

The sad part about buying foods close to nature is that it reminds you how sad the selection and quality of produce is in the city. I had this revelation yet again, after meeting Samuel Kim in Occidental, California. It made me sad for myself, for those moments when I buy mushrooms from the local grocery store: 'Would you like your mushrooms rubbery? or perhaps rubbery…" the saran-wrapped little characters inquire. 

Samuel Kim has been farming mushrooms in Northern, California for 25 years. His stand-offish vibe is explained away quickly by his preoccupation for his product.

We bought four different mushrooms: trumpet, shitake, oyster and some roots, which he insisted were not only edible but delightful.

We brought em home and gave them the following treatment...

- 1 lb mushrooms
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tbsp of your favorite barbecue sauce (optional)

Next up:
Clean the mushrooms with a damp cloth but don't slice them. Only remove the stem if you're planning on making portobello burgers.

Place all ingredients, including mushrooms, in a container and stir together. Let them marinate for at least an hour, preferably overnight.

Keep in mind that mushrooms contain a lot of water, and they'll shrink considerably while cooking. Grill them directly on the grate. Cook smaller mushrooms on skewers to avoid losses to the grate.

Grill em for 5 minutes, then flip em over and grill for another 5 minutes. Baste with any leftover marinade while grilling to keep the flavor strong. If you don't have a grill, a skillet will work fine too.

Then sit back with a skirt steak and the love of your life and acknowledge what Samuel and many others have too - that mushrooms of all kinds are kind of the best thing you could possibly eat.

PS - if you're looking for other things to do with our woodland friends, check out this episode we did on some innovative folks turning mushrooms into product packaging.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meat Hunx Vacay: Lamb Rib Chops Sanctuary

This is going to be a trying post. I've been forced to make use of a Fisher-Price®-esque contraption for grilling. The dig is only because this unnamed household grilling company has come out recently saying that they think Kemado-style BBQs are too complicated for the American public. How bout a show of faith in your country Weber. Oh! Let that one slip.

Nevertheless, what's currently lacking in grill resources, is being more than made up for in the beauty and bounty of the surrounding land of the Russian River region in Northern California. We stopped at the Occidental Farmers Market on the way up from San Fran, and picked up supplies. The first tent we went to was being cheerily run by Victorian Farmstead Meat Company. Their slogan: "Life's too short to eat crappy meat." THAT IS WHAT I'M SCREAMING! Amidst the armful of fare we ended up purchasing from these delightful meat champions was a lamb rib chop. So that night we set about putting together grilled lamb rib chops with a rosemary and sage crust, following a recipe from Grilling Magazine, which great btw.

- 1/2 cup loosely packed medium-finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 3 Tbs. loosely packed medium-finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1.5 Tbs. loosely packed medium-finely chopped fresh sage
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 - 12 bone-in lamb rib chops
- Olive oil for the grill

Marching orders:
First mix the parsley, rosemary, sage, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a shallow baking dish. Next, coat your chops with herbs. While you can grill right away, covering for 4 hours in the fridge will up the ante.

Get the 'grill' up to medium-hot, and then bush oil across your dismount area. Then, cook until the herbs are a deep brown, and the meat is medium rare, 3 - 5 minutes per side. Then let sit for 5 mins.

Now, (and not gonna blame this solely on the device), but I fucked up. The time directions to lamb beastliness resulted in a less than fully-cooked chop. So back from our romantic dinner setting to the grill. I cut the chops individually and seared them for two minutes on either side. The result: outrageous!

We rounded out the meal with a bottle of Argentinian Malbec and a salad consisting of micro greens, cherry tomatoes, serpent cucumber, onion, reen radishes, red leaf lettuce and champagne dressing.

Russian River, I will not soon forget ye.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Salmon & Onion Taste Lasers with Cucumber Space Soup

I've begun to get concerned that if I eat another meat-based dinner, I might collapse in on myself like a neutron star. So, something barbecued, but healthy. Where to look for inspiration…

The other night, I had dinner at Qoo Robata. It's an overlooked Japanese spot in BK. While there, I ordered the BBQ'd salmon belly with green onions on a skewer. It destroyed it so hard, I vowed to re-create it on the Big Green Egg the next night. It's fricking hot out right now. So to complement, I cast about for a chilled soup. I've said this once, and I'll say it again - the weekend Wall Street Journal Off Duty food section is (also) destroying it. They just did a piece on various uses of the cucumber...pause..., and the soup they featured looked weird and awesome.

Cucumber and Buttermilk Space Soup With Sourdough Croutons
Here's how it goes for the soup, which needs to be started 2.5 hours before it's ready.

- 2 pounds cucumbers
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
- 1 tablespoon tarragon leaves
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 cup sourdough croutons, for serving

First - Peel, halve and, if necessary, seed cucumbers. Dice enough to set aside 1 cup for garnish; roughly chop the remaining and place in a blender.

Second, add buttermilk, avocado, herbs, vinegar, sugar and salt to the blender and blend until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Strain soup through a fine mesh sieve and thin with water, about half a cup.

Third, season with salt and pepper, cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Last, divide soup among bowls, drizzle with oil, garnish with croutons and serve.

Salmon & Green Onion Taste Lasers
Next up, the salmon skewers.

- 2 large salmon cuts, skin on
- Salt and pepper
- 2 bunches of green onions
- Teriyaki sauce
- Olive oil
- Fennel seed powder

First, cut the salmon away from the skin with a really sharp knife. Then cut into strips and slice width-wise to form salmon cubes, for lack of a better description.

Second, cut the green onions into one inch-long segments. Alternate the salmon and green onions on the skewer until you've run out of space.

Third, drizzle both sides with olive oil, paint with teriyaki sauce, then season with salt, pepper and a whisper of fennel seed powder.

Last, place the taste lasers on the grill indirect at 375 for 20 - 25 minutes.  Flip em at 10 mins, and re-paint with T-sauce.

I hate when people describe foods as summery, colorful, or for the hot weather. But if you're looking for a fresh vibe on a muggy evening, this is Meat Hunx commanding you to follow our lead.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pickle-brined Chicken Thighs à la Langdo

There have been some rumblings around these parts of a fancy new (potentially old) chicken preparation procedure - pickle-brining!

Word has it that a certain religiously-oriented 'quick-service' franchise (Chick-fil-A) puts the technique to use. That did nothing to stem the interminable flow of our enthusiasm.

Meat Hunx honorary and party-rock bassist J Langdo showed up to MHHQ on July 4th having spent the previous 24 hours brining 12 chicken thighs. Here's how it goes:

- Chicken thighs with bone in and skin on
- Large jar of Boar's Head pickles
- Spicy rub (see ingredients here)
- Frank's Hot Sauce
- Half cup apple cider vinegar

Rub the chicken with salt everywhere. Dump all the brine with brown sugar and pepper from your pickle jar into a bag containing the chicken
thighs. Store in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning give em another rub with salt and pepper.

This next step is as per the recommendation of a certain somebody at local hero bar/resto joint The Commodore- Bathe them in Frank's Hot Sauce and a half-cup of apple cider vinegar. Let them sit for 10 - 30 minutes.

Meanwhile fire up the bbq to high direct. Sear each side of the thighs for one minute to lock in all the juices. Then, smoke indirect at 270 for 2 hours.

There are moments in time on this earth, when we stumble upon distinctly asymmetrical combinations so non-intuitive, yet so impactful, that they alter the face of our society forever. This was not one of those moments. But putting down a barbecued pickle-brined chicken thigh pushes reset on what can be done with poultry. And while it won't prevent war, or famine, or white collar crime… yet, it's in our system now, and if everything gets a little better Meat Hunx is fully willing to take responsibility.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Birthplace of A Legend

During my Massachusetts upbringing Connecticut was most often referred to as 'the state you have to drive through' and the dividing line between Red Sox and Yankees fans. Thus, CT is not quite a glowing gem in the geological wonder that is the Northeast.

That all being said, I had heard stories about one ultimately redeeming quality of The Constitution State. Legend has it that it is the birthplace of our beloved hamburger. On a recent jaunt back to NYC from MA, I stopped in at Louis' Lunch in downtown New Haven to investigate. I was flabbergasted with my findings.

Louis' is no bullshit and you can feel it from the moment you walk through the door. Dimly lit, hardwood all around, clean but gritty. Two employees: one taking orders and one cooking burgers. A sign conveniently points out that there are two condiments, tomatoes and onions, and that 'this is not Burger King' and 'you cannot have it your way'. Menu options are Hamburger, Cheeseburger and one side, Potato Salad.

I went for the cheeseburger with tomatoes, onions and a Foxon Park Ginger Beer (a delicious local soda) then took a seat where I could watch the cooking process. Louis' uses 3 vertical, gas powered, broilers to cook. Their patties are fresh, not frozen, and they are placed into a grilling basket then inserted vertically into the broiler. They are cooked from the sides; not the top and bottom. The result is the juiciest more flavorful burger I've ever tasted and with the accompanying onions, tomatoes and toasted white bread to sop up the juice, the deal is instantly sealed.

Connecticut you are redeemed...for now.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Shark Pie!

This is a first world first for Meat Hunx. And because we take photography so seriously, renegade genius picture taker Ben Ritter signed on to guest photo edit.

This recipe is inspired by an idea from Dr BBQ Ray Lampe. He's in the mix with the Big Green Egg folks, and constantly throwing his sizable frame well past the boundaries of what can be done on a grill. He recently came out with a video instructional to make Red Fish Pie. Red Fish, if you're unfamiliar, is a common name for various fish species. If you're curious about the variations and your google is broken, go here.

Annyhooow, inspired, I headed to the grocery store to figure it all out. Unfortunately, they didn't have any Red Fish filets. They did however have motherfucking mako shark in abundance! My first reaction was one of concern. But those clouds quickly drifted away, making way for a blazingly ambitious ray of a plan - shark pie.

Here's what you need:
- 2 lbs of mako shark
- Two handfuls of green beans, cut into 1/2-inch long segments
- 6 carrots, quarter length-wise
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- Can of Cream of Asparagus soup
- French fried onions
- Crescent rolls, straight out of the can

Grease a medium-sized cooking pan with olive oil, then wipe with paper towel to make sure that the surface is even.

Chop the shark into large bite-sized cubes, and place them across the pan.

It's layers from here on in. Drop the green beans, then carrots, onions, full can of cream of asparagus soup, and french fried onions over the shark bed .

Lastly, open the can of crescent rolls, and layer the sheets over the top of the pile. And you're set.

Pop that bad boy on the grill indirect at 350 degrees for 30 - 45 minutes. You'll know when it's done by the crispy golden dough.

Shark Pie is incredible right out of the grill and even better the next day. Really can't overstate this.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chicken And Asparagus Survival Kit

I just recently got home from a trip to Vegas. And while I was lucky enough to dine at spots like Joël Robuchon in the MGM and Le Thai in Old Vegas, the remaining hours were wholly unwholeful. Exiting off the plane, I was basically in survival mode. So I found this recipe in the cab ride. Upon arriving home, I dropped my bags at the front door, and lit up the egg. Here's how it's done.

Thaw out 10 chicken drumsticks. Put this spice rack-decimating half cup of each of the below into a large bowl:
- dry mustard
- sweet paprika (or a mixture of hot and sweet)
- onion powder
- garlic powder (not garlic salt!)
- dark or light brown sugar

Then mix with your hands. Keep some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on-hand.

Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, then drop them into the rub bowl until they're covered. Don't hesitate to reach under the skin and get the rub right up in there.

Then cover with saran wrap and place in the fridge for 1 - 2 hours. Next, take the Big Green Egg up to about 270, indirect. Once you're there, drop those chicken guys on the grill for 2 hours minimum. The longer the duration, the softer the chicken will be. About 1 hour through the cook time, flip them over.

With about 20 minutes to go, wash the asparagus and place them in a baking dish. Drizzle with
 - olive oil
- Ground pepper
- Kosher salt
- and Fennel seed powder

While the process is a little lengthy, the result is the secret to dismounting from any liver-taxing trip to the worst place in the world.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spicy Grilled Shrampz

This recipe came from a Mark Bittman cookbook. Check out Mark's site here. Saying he's killing it would be making a monumental understatement.

- 1 lb 15 ct shrimp, peeled to the last section leaving the tail for a handle, butterflied
- 2 Clove Garlic, minced
- 1 Tsp Kosher salt
- 1 tsp Paprika
- ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp Lemon juice
- 2 Tbs Olive oil

The only wrong road you can take when grilling shrimp is to overcook.

Take 1 Tbs of kosher salt and 2 garlic cloves (minced) and mash them into a paste.

Add to that paste 1 tsp paprika, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbs olive oil.

Thaw and peel the shrimp, except for the tail section. When doing so, I found using a really sharp-tipped knife to be indispensable. If you're into collecting a ridiculous number of knives (a pastime I couldn't recommend more, check out the Japanese Mcusta Zanmai VG-10 Type Petty 3.5" by Marusyo Industry Inc. Thaw and peel the shrimp, except for the tail section. When doing so, I found using a really sharp-tipped knife to be indispensable. If you're into collecting a ridiculous number of knives (a pastime I couldn't recommend more, check out the Japanese Mcusta Zanmai VG-10 Type Petty 3.5" by Marusyo Industry Inc. Butterfly the shrimp by cutting down the back halfway through the shrimp. If they have a vein, remove it. Mix the shrimp with the marinade then grill direct.

 Go about 2 minutes on the first side at about 400 direct, when they start to curl up, flip them and watch until they curl fairly tight and remove immediately. Some of them won't curl tight but you can pretty much tell when they are done. Let them chill for a couple minutes, and it's on.

Pair with almost anything...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Rum-Glazed Pirate Ribs

I'll break right of the galleys here with with an admission: pirates very rarely, if ever, ate ribs. The pirate's diet is a source of much discussion. One could spend a ton of time talking pirate diet, as I most certainly am about to.

The diet of the average swashbuckler was decent for the first few weeks of a voyage - bread, hard tack sea biscuits, salted meat, dried beans, cheese, oatmeal, peas, pickled vegetables, and eggs. However as the weeks wore on, the cows and chickens relied on for produce would be eaten themselves, meat would become rotten, and alternatives were sought out, like sea turtles.

While not technically pirate, this from the August, 1768 London Gazette: "....Provisions now stowed in the hold of Endeavour as she starts her long journey include nine thousand pounds of flour, four thousand pieces of beef, six thousand pieces of pork, twenty bushels of salt, and nearly eight thousand pounds of Sour Krout, which Lieutenant Cook proposes to use as a Preventative to scurvy. In addition, there is livestock consisting of seventeen sheep, five fowls, four ducks, a boar, sow and piglets, and a goat to supply milk for the Officers. Lieutenant Cook proposes to replenish supplies with fish at sea, and fruit, animal life and water at various landfalls…….."

Two of the most well-know dishes tell the whole story. Pirate Bone Soup was a combination of all the bones left over from the weeks previous. Salmagundi was a dish made up of whatever was available - chopped meat (beef, fish, chicken, pig, turtle, etc.), eggs, anchovies, onions, grapes, cabbage and herring. Salt, pepper, garlic, oil and vinegar were often used as seasoning. Refuges of a sea-borne scoundrel.

From a drinking standpoint, rum was the name of the game, especially in and around the Caribbean. In addition to be used to mask the awful taste of rancid water (grog), it was also used more conventionally - to get hammered. Some great pirate drinks include: Maize, Glogg, Ginger Rum, Bumboo, Rumfustian, Sangaree, and Flip. Look em up.

Because pirate ships didn't have the same level of organization and on-board democracy as say the British navy, sobriety wasn't observed closely. There are some interesting stories about ships being boarded and taken over quite easily as a result.


So what makes this dish pirate? Well first: rum. The second, it's heavily rubbed, and thirdly, if you eat ribs with utensils, you almost certainly have 'issues' with looking people in the eye.

So here's how it goes- Ingredients:
- 1 rack spare ribs (3 to 4 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons pepper
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup dark rum
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

In a bowl, mix brown sugar, paprika, cumin, pepper and salt. Rub mixture evenly over ribs. Let sit for 20 - 30.

In the meantime, get your bbq up to 250, indirect. Place the ribs on the grill, and let sit for about an hour and start with the glaze- in a small pan, mix rum, sugar, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

After an hour, brush the ribs heavily with about 3/4 of the glaze, and let smoke for another 45 minutes to hour. Then re-brush and let smoke for 30 more minutes.

The rum you use here can make or break you. While I'm still experimenting, what I have found is that why the Nicaraguan Fleur de Cana is your best friend, while Bacardi Select or any of the lighter variations don't serve the purpose, and make the sugar canee taste to apparent.

This will be the first in a series of posts about pirate food.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Steakhouse To End All Arguments

The title of this post is a quote by former New York Times restaurant reviewer Ruth Reichl, and I've gotta tell you Ruth- we agree. Smith & Wollensky, say it out loud. It just sounds tasty, club-house-y.

This 49th Street and 3rd Avenue stronghold is the stuff of legend, a true habitat for the inexhaustibly bonused. Pulling in the tag of #1 grossing restaurant in NYC (#3 in the US of A) is no simple feat. Alan Stillman, best known for creating, of all places, T.G.I. Friday's, opened Smith & Wollensky in 1977. He later expanded his S&W domain outside of NYC, to locations in Philadelphia, Houston, Columbus, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, Boston and DC. Story goes that there actually is no Smith OR Wollensky. Stillman opened the Manhattan phone book and randomly chose two dudes' names that sounded good together. Alan, we like your identity-repurposing steez.

I recently had the pleasure of not only drinking and dining at S&W, but also getting the manager's tour. We went FULLY behind the scenes. A truly meaty experience that will not soon be forgotten. We got to check out the Meat Aging Unit, the Live Lobster Pools, both kitchens and the wine cellar. Here are some photos to whet your appetites.

BONUS TRIVIA: First commenter to name the classic book, later turned into a film, in which two main characters use Smith & Wollensky as a meating place will win an invite to our next Velvet Rope Meat Hunx Affair (this Saturday in Greenpoint).*

*We will be checking all of your browsing histories before awarding the invite. In this case, Google is for the unintelligible.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reggaeton Ragu Rigatoni

The Wall Street Journal weekend edition's food section has been killing it lately. They've got everyone mixed in, including Mr Joe Beef himself, Frederic Morin. Anyhow, this weekend (March 31 - April 1) they did an article called 'Rock of Lamb'. They had Frederic, David McMillan, Mission Chinese, Ana Sortan of Oleana and Brad Spence of Amis in Philly go out on the lamb. I decided to take Brad Spence's Rigatoni with Lamb Ragu and Mint for a spin. And because I don't yet have to uphold myself to WSJ's journalistic rigor, I just re-titled the dish after the music I was listening to at the time (J. Alvarez's El Dueno Del Sistema).

So here's how it's done.

2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder (or leg)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup flour, for dredging
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup canned whole tomatoes
2 cups dry red wine
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind
2 sprigs rosemary
1 pound rigatoni
4 tablespoons fresh mint
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

I went to Graham Avenue Meats. Was about to go with the shoulder until main dude with the perfect hair came out and recommended the leg if I wanted the meat to be falling off the bone by the end. Seeold my friend!

Cut lamb into 4 pieces, and season well with salt and pepper. Dredge in flour, then shake off excess.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, sear the lamb in oil until dark golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove lamb from the heat and reserve.

Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic to the pot. Cook until lightly caramelized, 7-10 minutes. Scrape up any bits of lamb stuck to bottom of pot. Add tomatoes, and cook another 4 minutes.

Turn the heat to high, add wine and boil until reduced by half. Add 2.5 cups of water, then reduce another 5 minutes.

Turn heat to low, add the Parmesan rind and rosemary. Nestle the meat in sauce.

Simmer until the meat is tender, 2.5-3 hours (go with 3). Remove the Parmesan rind and rosemary. Remove the meat to a plate and shred apart with a fork. Return shredded meat to sauce.

Cook the rigatoni in salted water 1 minute less than package instructions suggest. Drain well and add to sauce, stirring to coat for about a minute, until the sauce clings to pasta slightly.

Just before serving, stir in mint, butter and half of the grated Parmesan.

Plate on a large, warm platter and top with remaining Parmesan.

Its hard to tell whether the meal would have been the same without my boy J. Alvarez. But he certainly didn't hurt the vibes.

One time at a pizza joint I heard some drunk lady with a voluminous voice proclaim, "Cigarettes kill, and SO DO I!" On top of her sense of humility, she forgot rigatoni with ragu and mint.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Clamdestine No Longer

This recipe has been shrouded in secrecy for ages until NOW. In fact, it was so secret, it didn't even exist...we made it up as with many other recipes here on Meat Hunx.

We were given the challenge to come up with an extremely Italian version of an already Italian seafood dish...BAKED CLAMS. With a bit of creativity these bi-valves were transformed into Don Corleone's wet dream.

We started out at our favorite fish market in the Italian neighborhood of Williamsburg. Conveniently located across the street from Mario & Sons, a wondrous respite for those seeking all things pork. You may be wondering where do clams and pork MEAT?

LARGE Clams (Cherrystones in this case)
HOT & SWEET Italian sausage
Seasoned bread crumbs
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Italian parsley
Parmesan cheese
Olive oil

Steam the clams on high heat for about 10 mins or until the shells start to open. Remove immediately after the shells open as you don't want them to cook or lose too much juice. Remove clams from the shell but keep the shells. Take the sausage out of it's casing and combine with clams, bread crumbs, whole garlic cloves, parsley and olive oil in a food processor. Run until you've got a nice glob of ingredients.

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter the inside of your clam shells. Pack the sausage and clam mixture into your desired number of shells. Cover the mixture with a coating of parmesan cheese and a final coating of bread crumbs. Top with a dollop of butter. Bake for 30 mins or until the clam tops are brown and crispy.

This simple and thoroughly delicious concoction that will have everyone clambering for more. Heyo!