Saturdays and Deep Freezes

I love Saturdays.  As you can probably tell from the reduced frequency of postings, I have gone back to work and into survival mode during the week.  I will readily admit that simply making sure everyone is fed and clothed, especially during weeks like this one where I put on over 1,200 miles and was fighting a cold, is challenging given my motivation level when I finally get home.  On Saturdays, however, (in between approximately 127 loads of laundry) I finally have a little freedom to experiment in the kitchen and enjoy feeding the family.

This Saturday, I started with a little something for me after seeing this on Pinterest.  I didn’t waste any time giving this one a shot, and it is definitely a keeper.  One of the main appeals was that I had all these things in my pantry, which is fairly important when you are 20 miles from the nearest grocery store and the roads are lousy.  You will never see me post or pin a recipe that requires 17 gourmet imported ingredients, half of which you will never use again and they will rot in your pantry.

I took the ease of this recipe one step further by using some Hershey’s caramel sauce which I happened to have on hand thanks to my awesome and beautiful sister-in-law (thanks Rach!), and I just used regular coffee.  It was EXCELLENT, and unlike my usual cup of coffee which sits on the counter until it is lukewarm, the entire thing was gone in one sitting.  It was probably better than the Starbucks version as I am not a huge fan of their coffee (I am a coffee wuss, which is probably why I like these recipes that are one part coffee and three parts sugar and fat – the Starbucks coffee is a little on the bitter side in my opinion).  The sea salt really makes this and I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.  I am also going to have to try her Salted Caramel cupcakes, but in the interest of not gaining 10 more pounds we’ll hold off on that one until someone else is here to help us eat them.  And yes, those are fresh-baked cookies in the background.  Like I said, Saturdays are awesome.

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

Homemade Salted Caramel Mocha

I also had to share Roy’s skill in packing a deep freeze, which seemed to be a fitting topic for a Saturday where it is also four degrees below zero outside (get it – deep freezes?).  We just got our beef back from Golva so we are re-stocked for another year.  Seriously, how nice is it to be able to go to the freezer in my house and choose from literally dozens of different cuts of the best-quality, homegrown beef?  I don’t know exactly how much time this saves me at the grocery store, but on a monthly basis I am sure it would be counted in hours, not minutes.  Not having to visit the meat counter on my one weekly grocery trip (sometimes it’s even less often than that) results in substantial savings to my time, sanity, and our wallets.  It takes a big freezer for us, since we are feeding six people plus several branding/weaning/working cows crews throughout the year, so most people probably would not need a freezer this size.  A typical family could probably get by with any small to medium size chest or upright freezer available at your local hardware or furniture store that would fit easily in your basement or garage.  We can haul two whole processed beefs boxed up in the back of a suburban, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a spot for one quarter or half – it would probably even fit in the refrigerator-freezers of two well-organized fridges (c’mon, we all know there is some extra room in the freezer of that old fridge you keep in the basement to keep your beer cold).

A Well-Stocked Freezer

A Well-Stocked Freezer

Off to continue the Saturday festivities – homemade chili is on the agenda for dinner, made with (of course) homegrown ground beef and canned tomatoes from this summer’s garden.  Out of all the cuts of beef that you will enjoy most out of your freezer from a local rancher, the quality and taste of your ground beef will make you a believer.  The texture, the lean versus fat content, and the flavor of our ground beef literally makes most retail ground beef seem nearly inedible.  Form this stuff into a patty, add some coarse salt and fresh ground pepper and throw it on a hot grill for five minutes, and you have a gourmet hamburger with no need for a bunch of extras to mask the flavor.  You will learn to love the REAL flavor of beef!

Prime Rib

We are having our New Year’s Eve supper tonight – prime rib. Wish you could smell my house right now. This is another example of a beef recipe that is so simple it’s not even really a recipe. I like to use a standing rib roast, as the bones act as a rack and give the meat great flavor. You can also use a rib roast without the bone. Make sure you know what your roast weighs so you know how long to cook it. Use a kitchen scale or check the label on your roast if you bought it retail. For a bone-in roast, we figure about a pound of raw roast per person. Remember how much beef we eat, however – you may be able to get by with less especially if you are serving several sides.

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As you may have guessed, this is a homegrown rib roast. Look at the awesome color of the meat and the great marbling. And by the way, this particular roast is not from some 1400 pound steer from a feedlot. It is from a heifer calf that didn’t want to grow like the rest, so we kept her for ourselves and had most of it made into sausage, jerky, etc. I also made my first ever tenderloin medallions from this animal, which I must say were flippin’ awesome. I forgot to to take pictures that day, I guess I was too busy eating.

Thaw the roast, and take it out of the fridge an hour or so before you put it in the oven. Cold meat will seize up when placed in a hot oven. Place your roast fat-side up so that the yummy goodness can seep into the entire roast as it melts.

There are many ways you can season a prime rib, but I like to keep it simple. You will see that theme again later when we talk about steaks. No reason to marinate good meat and ruin the meat-tacular flavor. Coat the roast with kosher salt and a simple dry rub – any prime rib or beef rub you find at the store or a dry rub you make yourself will be just fine. Use enough salt so it can form a crust – it will seem like a lot of salt, but remember you are seasoning several pounds of meat. Meat thermometers are not optional when making the perfect prime rib. Get an oven-safe thermometer and stick it in the middle of the raw roast, making sure it is not touching the bone. Do NOT add water or other liquids.

Pop it in a 350 degree preheated oven uncovered in a shallow roasting pan, and relax while the aroma begins to permeate your entire home. For a bone-in roast like this one, you want the thermometer to hit 135 degrees. This should take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours depending on the size of your roast, your oven, and other factors. Check the temp every 20 minutes or so after the first hour. You can do 150 if you are one of those squeamish well-done people, but don’t blame me when your prime rib is dry. Seriously, 135, and then make sure to let the roast rest for at least 15 minutes after you take it out of the oven. It will continue to cook and you will even see the thermometer continue to rise after it is out of the oven. Resting also allows all the juices to redistribute throughout the roast so every bite is moist and flavorful. Resist the temptation to gnaw on it right out of the oven. You should hear this thing sizzling in the oven right now. So good, and so easy. Try it yourself on the 31st, and let me know how it goes!

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The finished product!  And some Yorkshire Pudding to go with it.  One cup flour, one cup milk, and two eggs – mix together and pour into the pan drippings from the roast, bake at 425 for about 20 minutes.  Yes, it tasted as good as it looks.  Four of us (two who are under the age of 9) ate it down to what you see in the last photo.  I have to give Roy credit for most of that effort.  It’s that good.

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Corned Beef Brisket

We recently began having our butcher (shout out to Golva Custom Meats in Golva, ND) save us the whole brisket.  My Grandma Brown used to make corned beef and cabbage every year for Christmas Eve dinner, and now that we have sort of taken over that meal I wanted to continue the tradition.  Alton Brown’s corned beef recipe on Food Network, and the fact that it is a crap shoot as to whether you can get a ready-made corned beef at grocery stores out here in the middle of nowhere, inspired me to try to make my own.  The results were YUMMY.

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I skipped the cabbage mostly because I hadn’t been to the grocery store to get any.  BTW, I am LOVING my new 6-Quart Lodge Dutch Oven, which was an early Christmas present to myself this year.  This was SO easy – just trim a bit of the fat from the outside of the thawed brisket, brine for 10 days in the fridge and boil with veggies following the Food Network recipe at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/corned-beef-recipe/index.html.  I guess I do follow recipes sometimes!

The best part?  The left over corned  beef.  We had two more fabulous meals from this one great cut of beef:  Reuben sandwiches yesterday and corned beef hash topped with poached eggs this morning for breakfast.  Ok, it’s Saturday, so it was more like brunch.  For the sandwiches, I simply bought a loaf of marble rye (yes, you can get that in Montana), sliced the corned beef very thin (using my new awesome Wusthof knives from my wonderful husband), slapped butter on one side and Thousand Island dressing on the flip side of each slice of bread, placed a slice of swiss cheese on the dressing side of each slice of bread, and piled the corned beef in between each yummy bread/cheese slice.  Then I just toasted on my two-burner griddle until browned and melty and ooey-gooey.  I left off the sauerkraut for my husband’s benefit, but these are great with or without.

Meal #3 was just a simple – cubed three medium sized spuds (potatoes, for those of you not from this area) fairly small, drizzled a little EEVO (from my new RR green EEVO bottle – thanks Mom!) on the same griddle, cooked the spuds with a little red onion, then added the diced remaining corned beef and diced roasted red peppers.  At the same time I poached some eggs – so easy and so yummy, and actually the healthiest way to cook an egg.  I topped the finished hash with a little swiss cheese and some bacon bits (so much for healthy), and then topped each plate of hash with an egg and served with Wheat Montana Ancient Grains toast.  LOVE Wheat Montana – if you haven’t tried it yet, do it.  Now.  (www.wheatmontana.com).  Make sure not to cook the eggs too long, so the yolk stays runny – when you break into the egg, the runny yolk mixing into the hash makes everything creamy, moist and SO GOOD.  See?

Corned Beef Hash

Corned Beef Hash

I am looking forward to all the other new things I can do with this great cut of meat, the Brisket, which is also a pretty affordable cut of beef if you live where you have to buy it retail.  If you can, buy your beef by the quarter or half from a local rancher instead.  You will save money over buying individual cuts retail, and you will get a far superior and fresher product.  More later on that important topic!  Happy New Year everyone!

Welcome to the Lutts Blog!

So, after purchasing a camera that was probably much more sophisticated than I needed (and which I have not yet taken the time to learn how to use beyond the “auto” setting), I have gotten into the habit of taking pictures of food.  Mostly this was for my own benefit, since I tend to use recipes only as a basic guide or not at all, and I don’t usually take the time to write down the approach or the results.  Taking pictures of the attempts that turned out well is my photographic reminder of the recipes worth trying again, and of those worth sharing with anyone that happens to care!

Roy and I have also decided that after many years of raising what we feel is the best beef product available, and going through nearly two whole beefs every year ourselves, we have become connoisseurs of the finer points of cooking various cuts of beef the RIGHT way.  Hopefully we can persuade a few of you to eat MORE beef and support your local family rancher.  Thanks for visiting!Image

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