The Secret Of Peacock’s Saloon

All other recipes including your personal favourite and any seasonal tips to share

Postby Chuckwagon » Tue Dec 01, 2009 10:27 pm

Thanks Dan! I surely appreciate everyone's remarks. My first two published works were college textbooks (I taught music theory). Not exactly what you'd call "hot" reading although it was "required" reading for a lot of students. I had a few other hot runnin’ irons in the fire back then also. Alas, when an ol' cowboy has too many years on his hide to set a bad example, he hands out good advice. But I always found that a word to the wise was unnecessary.

Smoothshave, yes I've used only Lodge cast iron all my life. Great stuff. And yes, I actually bagged a cougar years ago. Great photos above my desk. Sorry, but you cannot have the skin as my wife waves it over my ol’ carcass every night giving me a “cat-scan”.

Dan McG, Come to Grand Junction but watch out... they have an intersection with FIVE connecting roads! We could send Phil Young (Wheels) and Dave (Saucisson) a case of genuine "Colorado Kool-Aid" (Coors beer). If you visit me, bring NC Paul, Culinairezaken, and Jenny Haddow. I'll put you all up in style but make you stuff sausages while I take Jenny out dancing! I'm going to sneak up on her with a bunch of roses. And Jen, you are right about the coffee going back into the braising liquid for brisket. Water is yet a precious commodity in the west, and a little leftover coffee with a dab of tomato paste and a teaspoon of soy sauce just reinforces a good beef stew. Folks, my best wishes to you for success in all your sausagemaking and good health while you enjoy them. I'm enclosing a page from my book for Jenny's stew.

Best wishes, Chuckwagon

“Crafting Better Stew”

Greenhorns who slam-dunk a bunch of chopped ingredients into a Dutch oven, bash the lid down on the pot, and overcook something they call a “stew”, generally end up with something resembling a slam-dunked, overcooked, and tasteless monotonous mélange that a hungry wrangler has to sneak up on with a ladle. Even hungry cowpokes will carefully “pick through” an uninspired, colorless, concoction made without imagination. Why not actually “craft” a tasty stew that folks will voraciously annihilate while grinnin’ like horses eatin’ cactus.

The most important step taken is choosing the right meat - with its bones! For flavor and texture in stew, its hard to beat cuts from the shoulder of an animal, marbled with just the correct amount of fat, protecting the meat from drying out while submitted to a long, slow, cooking process. Bone-in pork butt (shoulder) or slightly more fatty picnic shoulder are great choices. Beef stew couldn’t be better using cuts of chuck-eye roast. Whenever lamb shoulder becomes difficult to find, try shoulder cut chops. Lamb round-bone chops are perfectly mellowed by extended cooking and the bones simply add extra flavor. If you are making a stew with chicken, leave the skin on initially to protect the flesh from overcooking during searing. Both chicken bones and fat add flavor to a stew. Remove them as the dish is served. Regardless of the meat you choose for a stew, be sure to cut it into uniform chunks for uniform cooking. Avoid the packaged “stew meat” of all sizes in your grocery. Cook stew inside a thick, quality, Dutch oven twice as wide as it is high. Be sure the vessel has a tight-fitting lid to reduce excess evaporation of stock. To avoid piercing, tearing, or mashing cooked cubes of meat, use a pair of tongs for cooking stew. A good ladle is necessary for skimming fat as well as serving individual portions of stew in bowls.

Use your own select stocks for making stews. If you must purchase stock, be sure to use only a well-known and trusted brand. When it comes to deglazing, the savory-sweet or tangy wallop depends entirely upon the quality of the wine or stock used. If you use cheap wine, your stew will taste like you used cheap wine! If beer is part of the ingredients, try adding dark ale for fuller flavor. Light lagers may be a bit “watery”.

The next two ingredients are a couple of the best-kept secrets around western America’s campfires! Cooks having years of experience cooking stews invariably add a small jolt of tomato paste for depth and color followed by a few shakes of soy sauce. The acidity seems to wake up and enhance the flavors of other ingredients.

I’ve always wondered why folks believe they can brown and sear floured meat in an attempt to caramelize the sugars. Inexperienced cooks seem surprised when they see the resulting browned flour - a golden “breaded” surface covering gray colored flesh. Nothing wrong with that…if you are actually attempting to coat the meat with a breading. Flouring meat before frying or broiling it, only keeps it from developing the intense caramelized fond we are seeking in many recipes - stews, for instance. Somewhere along the trail, someone found that flouring stew meat quickly developed a thickening sauce - gravy. That’s just fine - though there are no caramelized meat flavors in the stew! Did the old outlaws and pioneers often flour meat before searing it? Surprisingly, yes they did; almost always - whenever they had flour! And their directions are plainly spelled out within their recipes. However, I doth protest, claiming loss of flavor by not searing the meat initially, prior to stew it for hours. Oh, flour has its place in a stew all right… but not to coat meat pieces. Added later, along with caramelized vegetables, flour cooked in a roux provides delicious gravy.

Brown stew meat in batches. In other words, don’t crowd the stuff as it cooks! Cuts of meat jammed into a pan will “steam” rather than brown. Wait until the oil is hot inside the Dutch oven, and then add a maximum of one pound of meat for browning. Following the third batch, you will find burnt residue in the bottom of the pot from the first batch. These bitter tasting remains are not traditional fond and should be wiped out and discarded along with any remaining oil. For making gravy, use the fond produced following the browning of the last batch of meat.

Next, come the flavor-enhancing aromatics. Build flavor by separately sautéing, browning, and caramelizing onions, garlic, green peppers, and hot peppers. Never simply toss them into the stew. Before adding spices to a stew, toast them slightly inside a dry skillet to enhance their flavor. Finally, sprinkle flour over the sautéed aromatics, cooking the flour slightly before adding it to the pot for thickening.

Sauté chopped vegetables also, to caramelize their sugars and bring out their flavors. Add them near the end of cooking to prevent mushy textures. Potatoes cut into large cubes, sections of carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes may cook just under an hour in the stew. Turnips, peppers, and canned beans need only thirty minutes cooking as do greens and frozen vegetables. Tender greens should be added only one minute before serving. Fresh herbs are added as the heat is turned off or the Dutch oven is removed from the campfire.

How long should you “barely” simmer stew? Until the collagen in the meat “breaks” and gelatin is produced - generally about two-and-a-half to three hours. Meat should be tender to the bite and even pull apart in strands if desired. Be sure to remove any accumulated fat with a ladle. Some cooks refrigerate stew overnight then discard the remaining congealed fat the next morning.
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably needs a little more time on the grill.
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Postby jenny_haddow » Thu Dec 03, 2009 8:43 am

Thanks for that CW, all good information. Was it Mrs Beeton who said 'a stew boiled is a stew spoiled'?

I'll have to look out my dancing shoes, they went into retirement some time during the late 60's!

Cheers

Jen
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Postby Ianinfrance » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:55 am

Hi guys,

Just a quickie to bear out what CW says about stewing slowly.

I've an excellent recipe for cooking legs from fattened moulard ducks which are tougher and far fattier than ordinary duck legs.

In that recipe, after frying the legs to remove as much subcutaneous fat as possible, you add your various flavouring elements (garlic, shallot and salt pork, all chopped into an "hachis") fry those with flour and then tip in a load of red wine & bringing to the boil before adding the legs again. The casserole (dutch oven) is then placed in a very cool oven and cooked for about an hour, before being turned off (the dish being left in the oven until lukewarm). After transferring to the fridge it is left overnight. Next day, it is defatted. The fat all rises to the surface, of course so can be lifted off relatively easily. The stew is then put back into a cold oven, which is turned on again very low and left there for an hour and a half iirc. The same procedure is repeated (take out when cool, refrigerate overnight, defat and return to oven) for two more days.

At the end of this time, the meat is beautifully tender but completely without stringiness, almost all the fat has gone and the flavour is out of this world.

I use a very similar cooking method with coq au vin as well and for exactly the same reasons.

I suppose links to these recipes wouldn't be a bad idea.
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/souvigne/recipes/main370.htm
http://pagesperso-orange.fr/souvigne/recipes/main310.htm
All the best - Ian
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Postby Chuckwagon » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:03 am

Ian wrote:
completely without stringiness, almost all the fat has gone and the flavour is out of this world.


Yum! Thanks much.
Best wishes, Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably needs a little more time on the grill.
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Postby NCPaul » Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:52 am

The Tom and Jerry's are delicious. Merry Christmas Chuckwagon and to the rest of the forum. Now is the perfect time to enjoy these.

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Fashionably late will be stylishly hungry.
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Postby Chuckwagon » Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:09 am

Merry Christmas Everyone!

NCPaul wrote:
I'll remember to do this on 12/23 in honor of you Chuckwagon. I'll have my whole family visiting and this will be perfect. I'll try to post a picture if I remember; apologies in advance for the blurry photo (I'm sure the camera will have focus problems).

Paul, do you live in North Carolina? I'm glad you liked the Tom n' Jerry's! I hope you and your entire family has the best Christmas ever!
Best wishes, Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably needs a little more time on the grill.
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Postby wallie » Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:09 pm

I’d like to dedicate a recipe to my pal Wallie of Newcastle Tyne & Wear, UK. He is a great guy and a member of this forum since November of 2006.


Hi Chuckwagon

I maybe a year late but have just came across the above thread while looking for your other article on cooking brisket.
I was going to post it in responce to Ian's query on Sous Vide brisket and by the way Ian I do not think CWs method was Sous Vide it was just relating to the different temperatures and cooking times to dissolve the cologen and get a very tender brisket, no sous vide bag.
Come on Cowboys out on the trail don't use sous vide :)

Anyhow Chuckwagon where are you hiding these days, you have not been sighted since Xmas?
I will surely have a go at the Tom & Jerry concoction.

Regards
wallie
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Postby beardedwonder5 » Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:03 pm

Chuckwagon logged onto "Homemade Sausage Making" on 20 June.
GOS, yeah!!!
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Postby DanMcG » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:29 pm

beardedwonder5 wrote:Chuckwagon logged onto "Homemade Sausage Making" on 20 June.

Is that a website? or are you talking about here?
I enjoyed alot that CW offered and I do miss him here.
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Postby mitchamus » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:13 pm

ditto.

He's a funny guy, with a wealth of knowledge to share.
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Postby beardedwonder5 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 8:51 am

"Home Sausage Making" is a website - on my bookmarks. But when I login, I can't see its URL. I don't know how to get "behind the scenes". I hope CW isn't ill.
GOS, yeah!!!
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Postby lemonD » Fri Jul 09, 2010 9:16 am

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Postby beardedwonder5 » Fri Jul 09, 2010 12:41 pm

Yes.
GOS, yeah!!!
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Postby saucisson » Fri Jul 09, 2010 3:55 pm

CW was having trouble logging in but I haven't been able to contact him at his registration email, so I hope he is OK.

Dave
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Postby Zulululu » Fri Jul 09, 2010 6:22 pm

I think he has had a back operation and seems to be recovering. :)
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