Comfort Foods: Boiled Peanuts

Boiled Peanuts were my favorite childhood snack.
We’d get them from roadside vendors; farmer’s markets dotted the major roads in the town I grew up in and every market had large cauldrons of boiled peanuts simmering. Pull up in your car, get some produce and a bag (plastic inside of paper) of boiled peanuts. Some vendors would even give you a second bag for your shells.

Convenience stores down South also had them, in regular and cajun, but it was never quite the same.

Imagine my surprise when I moved to Philly and they were nowhere to be found. With some searching I managed to find the canned variety at select supermarkets, which do in a pinch but for my money, fresh is best.

So today I threw a few pounds of fresh goobers into the crockpot with a little under 1/2 cup of salt, a handful of peppercorns and a few cloves of garlic. They’ve been slow cooking all day and are just about done. A little salty for a latenight snack, but when a craving hits you do what you’ve got to do!

Summer Break

Claire and I tend to take a cooking hiatus during the summer; our kitchen is small and it gets hot quickly so we find that it’s easier just to grill outdoors or hit up our favorite restaurants while the summer sun blazes. We haven’t forgotten about documenting our culinary adventures though, so hopefully as the weather cools down the kitchen will heat up (without suffocating us) and we’ll have fun new content here on MI.

That said, a few months ago I whipped up some ‘foie gras and pork heart stuffed’ squab. Tiny delicious pigeon stuffed with a rich, meaty paste of breadcrumbs, foie gras, ground and chopped pig heart, celery and onions and capped off with another slice of foie. Heavily salted and peppered, browned and roasted.

I’ve got a friend on the lookout for Deer Tongue for another corned tongue experiment, and curing season is upon us. I can’t wait to get back under the apron!

Corned Cow’s Tongue- An update

My brother Robert called me this morning reminding me that we had promised to go out to Hammonton, NJ and BBQ with our Dad; which could be an all day visit.

My corned beef was entering it’s fifth full day in delicious brine and I wasn’t really sure how long I could safely leave it submerged. So… thinking quickly… I packed a stock pot, a bag of carrots and an onion and my deli slicer and hopped in the car with Claire. Who herself had packed a full compliment of baking supplies!

Forty five minutes later we were in Hammonton, and as my Pop fired up the grill, started preparing for the three hour simmer. Aromatics chopped and stock pot ready, I had to fold the tongue to fit it in the Le Creuset stock pot; which caused a bit of an issue when the water finally came to a boil. Turns out cow tongues and heat don’t get along. Left alone, the tongue flexed in the pot and knocked the lid off!

We let it simmer while we prepared dinner. And while we watched TV. And while we cleaned up.
When it was finally done I dropped it into an icebath to stop the cooking. The outer membrane tightened up considerable and was much easier to peel off than I had expected. Once it was totally skinned (and a few pieces sampled) I put it back into the cooler pot liquor and stored it for the trip back to Philadelphia.

When we got back to Xanadont, I fired up the deli slicer and shaved off a full sandwich worth of meat, which I put on spicy mustard smeared sour dough bread. Tomorrow I’m going to get some cole slaw fixins and pickles an try a different style sandwich.

I was happy with how my first brining experience came out and thanks to my handy brine bucket, will most likely be soaking something again soon!

Corned Cow’s Tongue

No matter how you slice it, (I prefer thinly) tongue has a bad reputation.
“I don’t want to taste something that can taste me back” and other cheeky comments aside, there’s an innate distaste for the tongue that’s seemingly cultural. A popular item in Mexican, Asian and European cooking, the tongue is a muscle that’s surprisingly tender when cooked.

I swung by Cannuli’s in Philadelphia’s Italian Market on Wednesday and picked up a fresh cow’s tongue with the intention of corning it. I’ve never really worked with brining before, so this would be a fun little experiment all around.

I had all the ingredients onhand save for pickling spice and a container big enough to hold the tongue, so once everything was picked up, I started preparing the brine. It came together quite easily, leaving an amazing aromatic odor in my kitchen.

While the brine was cooling, I washed the tongue and the brining bucket and did a little kitchen cleanup. With the brine refrigerated, I poured it over the meat and used a sterilized mason jar to keep it weighed down. Now all that’s left is patience. In five days it will be ready to cook.

Quail

Claire is convinced that quail look like “little naked people”.
That didn’t stop her from enjoying them with me for our pre-Valentine’s day dinner.
We decided a few weeks ago to simplify Valentine gift giving; instead of getting each other a present, we’d go out for a nice dinner and pay each others tab. That still left us with our usual Monday night cooking date, so we decided to have a little fun and make a batch of roasted quail.

I grew up eating quail; Robert (my brother) and I used to hunt them on the P5 farm in Plant City. He usually did the dirty work with a shotgun and I handled plucking. As fun as you’d think picking birdshot AND feathers out of a tiny game bird is, I assure you that buying six packs at the supermarket is much, much easier.

I seasoned all six of the little naked gents (after removing any stray feathers) with sea salt and pepper, and browned them with prosciutto. While they were browning, Claire started working on a porcini & shiitake mushroom risotto. For greens we sauteed a small batch of broccolini.

Everything came out perfectly. We tore the little guys apart (saving all of the wishbones!) while watching Superbad. The porcini was wonderfully woody; I haven’t used porcini before but I think it’s going to be my go-to fungus for future mushroom risotto.

As for Valentine’s dinner?
We went to Morimoto.
It’s been a while since I had gone and was Claire’s first time. Our dishes were spectacular. Pork Belly, Kobe carpaccio, seared duck breast with duck confit fried rice and overeasy duck egg and buckwheat soba with truffle oil, bacon and scallops. An orgy of awesome.

Two days of good food and amazing company!
Happy Valentine’s day, everyone.