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!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Crystal Crabs in Little Fuzhou

Everyone knows New York's Chinatown, which is a sprawling neighborhood South of Soho, West of the Lower East side and East of Tribeca. It's basically grown over the years by consuming Little Italy.

However, there's an even gnarlier Chinatown in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. It's one of the fastest growing ethnic Chinese enclaves outside Asia, and it's growth is attributable to the surge of immigrants from the Fujian Province in Mainland China.

We headed down there on the BQE to find some seafood. Basically anything rad we could get our hands on- stone crabs, clams, calamari, and baby bok choi.

The big score of the day though was an Australian Crystal Crab (also known as a snow crab). This decopod comes with a pretty amazing score sheet. They live in extremely deep waters, and as a result live up to 30 years of age. They're considered the best tasting crab because of their unpolluted and stable environment. And the males and females live at different depths but have no defined time of breeding during the year. Which is a nice way of saying they can have sex whenever they want. You go Crystals!

We headed back with about 15 pounds of food and went to it.

There was so much going on, we didn't follow/record the recipes. So just enjoy the scenery!

Flank Wishes and Skirt Dreams

The only thing better than a steak is two steaks. A skirt and flank showed up the other night at my place. So we chose two wildly different ways to to prepare them.

For the flank, we went simple- just olive oil and McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning.

For the skirt, we went in a different direction. We combined an inky mixture of the following in a pan on medium til it bubbled:

Soy sauce
Seasme oil
Garlic chips
Dried onion

We then poured it into a bowl, and let it cool off for 20 minutes. Then just dropped that skirt steak in after it and refrigerated for 30.

We then threw the steaks on the Big Green Egg at 350 for a solid 25 minutes.

The flank came out like a dream, but the skirt was a fantasy. Kind of had an Asian flare reminiscent of steak teriyaki.