Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Musaman (Massaman) Beef Curry

I first tasted this dish (spelled Musaman) at a Monterey, CA restaurant call Beau Thai. The chef was from Thailand and had trained in France. I was delighted to find this recipe as it very closely (if not identically) approximates the silky, satisfying experience I had in Monterey seventeen years ago. The chef went on to found the eatery Thai Taste in Seaside. It is my favorite Thai restaurant. Also try the Pad Talay and Catfish cooked with Coconut Milk and Keffir Lime.

This recipe is based on Victor Sodsook's in his book True Thai. If I have brought anything to the party, it is the Crock Pot brand slow cooker method for the beef and onions easing two part preparation and resulting in a less chewy final dish.

Musaman Curry Paste

1 3oz. Package Dried California Chili Pods
2 Cardamom Pods, Seeds Only
1 1/4 t Cumin Seed
1 1/2 T Coriander Seed
1 1/2 t Thai Shrimp Paste wrapped in a little foil packet (there are a few levels of sweetness of this, I believe any one would do fine for this)
1/4 t Black Peppercorns
1/4 t Ground Cinnamon (I use Penzey's Vietnamese Cinnamon, it is strong and tasty)
1 Stalk Lemon Grass, just the tender inner part of the first (bottom) 3 inches, thinly sliced
1 T Minced Galangal (or Ginger if Galangal is difficult to source)
1/4 C Chopped Garlic
1/3 C Chopped Shallots

Stem the chili pods and shake out the seeds. Cut into 3/4 or so inch pieces and soak for 30 minutes in enough water to cover.

California Chili Pods

While the peppers are soaking, toast the cumin, coriander and cardamom over medium heat in a cast iron pan until the coriander seeds begin to pop. It is best to shake the pan to heat the spices evenly and prevent burning.

Spices Toasting

Set the spices aside in a different container to cool. Return the pan to heat and cook the shrimp paste packet for 5 minutes until aromatic.

Shrimp Paste Cooking

Add peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and cardamom to a large mortar and grind to a powder. A small coffee grinder will also work great for this but subsequent batches of coffee will smack of curry.

Transfer spices to a blender. Add galangal and lemon grass to the mortar and beat to a pulp. Transfer to the blender. Beat garlic and shallots in the mortar until beginning to break down and tranfer to the blender. Unwrap shrimp paste and add, yes, to the blender. Drain chilies, reserving the soaking liquid and add them to the blender. Process the ingredients into a paste, adding chili soaking liquid as necessary to keep things moving.

You now have your Musaman Curry Paste.  This can also be used with coconut milk to simmer chicken or vegetables. Yum!

Musaman Beef Curry

2 1/2 T Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 lbs. Beef Chuck cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
1 Onion chopped into large dice
1 Potato peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Cans Unsweetened Coconut Milk (the recipe in True Thai calls for one of 14 oz. and one of 17 oz. - 2 of 14 oz. works fine)
1 C Musaman Curry Paste
1/2 C Roasted Unsalted Peanuts
1/2 C Brown Sugar
7 T Nam Pla (Thai Fish Sauce)
1/4 C Tamarind Paste
1 C Fresh Pineapple cut into 1 inch chunks

Heat oil in large pot over high heat. Sear meat in batches to prevent over crowding.

Meat Browning

Brown on all sides and set aside in the crock of a Crock Pot brand slow cooker to catch the delicious meat juices. Add onions and stir fry until beginning to brown. Add onions to the crock. Add a cup or so of water to the pot that the meat and onions were browned in and deglaze. Tip contents into the crock. Add more water to the cooker if necessary to prevent from boiling dry. Cook on high for 6 hours or until meat is fully cooked and tender.

About 1 hour before the end of the meat cooking time, add the potatoes. In the original recipe this step is thirty minutes of simmering on the stove. Not enough time to mitigate the chewy, sinewy nature of the chuck.

Separate the beef, potatoes and onions from the broth.

Cooked meat, potatoes and onions separated from the broth

Skim the cream from the top of the coconut milk and add to the large pot over medium heat. Stir in the curry paste and bring to a low boil. Simmer while stirring for 2 minutes.

Curry Paste Simmering

Add meat, potatoes, onions, peanuts, coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce and tamarind paste. Stir until everything is blended. Add pineapple and enough of the reserved broth to thin to your taste. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes longer. Serve with jasmine rice.

Musaman Beef Curry



Monday, November 29, 2010

Musaman Interrupted

You might have but probably didn't notice that my blog was bereft of postings last week. Monday was going to be about Thai Musaman Beef Curry. I prepped the beef, onions and curry paste and then rode up the hill to my buddy Paul's house for some beer and mixing tunes.

Back down the hill on my bike and I decide to roll through a wash rather than go around on the bike trail. Hit the loose sand at the bottom and down I went. Took the end of the handle bar in my gut which bore 95% of the impact.

I tried to finish the Musaman but my wife Yvonne Googled my symptoms and decided I probably had internal bleeding. Waiting by the car for her to grab her keys and Finn, I passed out into a cactus.

2 days in the hospital under observation (and no eating!) and back home to recover. Nice way to get Thanksgiving week off.

Tomorrow; Musaman Beef Curry in Two Steps; with pictures!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Chili Colorado and Palo Santo Marron

First a short note about a beer.

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron; Looking at my tasting notes, I gave this beer 4 out of 5 stars. I described it as hot, brown and interesting, oddly the opposite of how I describe myself. The hot is for alcohol, 12%. It has a full mouthfeel and a roasty, woody tang. It is an excellent cigar beer and would probably go well with Chili Colorado (read on).

Chili Colorado

Last night I made Chili Colorado and Pinto Beans. And this is how you do it;

For the Chili;

4 lbs Boneless Pork Shoulder
10 Dried New Mexico Chili Pods
10 Dried California Chili Pods
5 Dried Ancho Chili Pods
16oz. Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes
2 T Coriander Seeds
1 T Cumin Seeds

For the Beans;

1 lb Pinto Beans
1 Small Onion cut into Big Boy Chunks

I started by stemming and seeding my chili pods. Then I toasted them in a single layer in a dry cast iron skillet until I could smell them getting toasty. I covered them with water in a saucepan and brought them to a boil, removed them from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.

I toasted the coriander and cumin over medium heat in a cast iron skillet until the coriander began to pop like popcorn.

The spices went into the mortar and pestle for a beating. I ended up with as fine a powder as I can get with it. Then I cut the pork into nice big cubes and seasoned liberally with salt.

And browned them over medium high heat in batches so they could have some elbow room while they were browning. If you crowd the pan, the meat tends to boil in it's juices. I set the browned meat in a bowl to capture those pork juices.

I then buzzed the chilies in the blender with just enough of the soaking liquid to create a thick paste. I combined the pork, chili paste, spices, tomatoes, salt and enough water that it wouldn't cook dry over night in my Crock Pot brand slow cooker.

For the beans I brought the (picked over for dirt clods) beans to a boil in a large saucepan. I use enough water to fill my other Crock Pot brand slow cooker with the beans and the chooped onion. I poured the beans and water into the cooker and added the chopped onion. The salt does not get added at this time as the beans will never soften up. Acid has the same effect. I season them at the end of the cooking period.

I tried them this morning with some of the chili on top and I must say, deeeelicious!


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rip Your Head off No-Cal Dandelion-Collard-rito

Yesterday afternoon I had a hankering for a non-caloric snack that was not a stalk of celery. I walked over to the Food Conspiracy Co-op on 4th and grabbed;

1 Bunch Collard Greens
1 Bunch Dandelion Greens
1 Bunch Green Onions
1 Bunch Cilantro
2 Tomatoes
2 Jalapenos
1 Lime

And improvised the posthumously named, "Rip Your Head off No-Cal Dandelion-Collard-rito"

I chopped everything up except for the Collards and mixed in a bowl with some salt. I laid out 3 Collard leaves and split the salad/filling between them. I then rolled them up like burritos.

The end result was as fiery hot as the burning lakes of hell. Most of the time jalapenos are innocuously hot and coolly grassy in the manner of a slightly piquant green bell pepper. These were searingly scalding with a touch of inferno. Next time I will taste my peppers first.

Some other things that might have made this more of a meal but also more nutritionally dense;

Grilled Chicken
Salad Dressing
Skirt Steak, Marinated, Seared and Sliced against the Grain

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Daddy Bread

Yesterday I mentioned Pepperoni and Cheese Daddy Bread. Daddy Bread is a dough recipe that my wife Yvonne researched. It is a handy way to have ready to use yeast dough with very little effort.

Daddy Bread Dough

3 C Lukewarm Water
1.5 T Kosher Salt
1.5 T or 2 Packets Yeast
6.5 C Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

In a container that you will be leaving in your fridge, I use a gallon plastic container with a lid, combine the water, yeast and salt. Add the flour. Stir to combine. If it doesn't seem to be coming together, press the dough together with very wet hands.

Place the container someplace not chilly for about 2 hours. Place in fridge covered but not sealed (yeast has to breathe) for up to ten days. The dough is officially ready to use after a day in the fridge but I have used it after the initial rise. Immediately after the initial rise it is still very soft and a bit hard to work but it will still make a pizza skin. You will find after a day the dough is very workable and makes very convincing bread and pizza

This dough will be very wet and takes a lot of flour when you start working it.

Here is how it can be used for pizza dough;

Preheat your oven as high as it will go with your pizza stone or inverted cookie sheet on the middle rack. Mine oven says 500 degrees F but it is more like 575.

Sprinkle your pizza peel (or whatever you will slide the pizza into the oven with) with a goodly amount of corn meal.

Grab a hunk of dough about the size of a grapefruit (about a pound) with well floured hands and toss on to a well floured board. You will probably be adding flour at about every manipulation of the dough. Shape it into a disc and roll it as thin as you can. At this point you will want to be ready with your sauce and toppings as you do not want the pizza skin to stick to your peel.

Place your pizza skin on the corn-mealed peel. Spread with the tomato sauce of your choice. I doctor the store bought sauce with the shortest ingredient list I can find with Italian herbs, garlic and red wine. Top with grated cheese and whatever else suits you. Italian herbs and pepperoni works great.

Slide the pizza onto your pizza stone or cookie sheet and start checking it after 5 minutes. It will be done when the crust is brown and crusty and the cheese is browning and melting. Yum.

Some topping combinations that we have liked are; smoked oyster and mushroom; sliced tomatoes and three raw eggs cracked on top (they poach in the oven and the magic doesn't happen until you puncture the runny yolks); and plain old pepperoni is awesome!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cheesy Sour Ale Chicken Adobo

Last Sunday Carl and Sofia came over for dinner and this was the menu;

Cheesy Sour Ale Chicken Adobo and Pepperoni and Cheese Daddy Bread.

The Adobo was based on Filipino Adobo but since I had a bottle (or should I say stole my wife's bottle that she was saving, oops) of Lips of Faith La Folie Sour Ale, I replaced the vinegar with that.

Here is the Crock-Pot brand slow cooker friendly recipe that ensued;

4 Chicken Leg Quarters
1 22oz. Bottle Sour Ale (or 2 11oz. Bottles)
1/4 cup Soy Sauce
4 Cloves Garlic, Smashed
1 Small Onion Diced Small
Black Pepper to Taste
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups Rice
1 T Butter
1 Cup Grated Cheddar (or any other hard cheese that you like)

Combine Chicken, Ale, Soy Sauce, Garlic, Onion and Pepper in Crock Pot brand slow cooker. Cook on High for 6 hours (or whenever the chicken is done to your liking). Remove and shred and bone (means the same as debone, much like pants and depants) Chicken, strain and reserve cooking liquid.

Heat Olive Oil in saucepan until shimmering. Add rice and stir until rice starts to smell nutty. Add 4 cups cooking liquid (add water if you are shy of 4 cups) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Butter, Cheese and Shredded Chicken. Recover and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve to your adoring family or any adoring people that happen to be about. If they don't adore you, they get none.

Next post; Daddy Bread


Monday, November 15, 2010

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Hey Everybody! I think I will try to fire up the blog again. What should I write about? What do you care what I think about?

I will attempt to keep this on a weekdaily basis. Thanks for checking in!