Posts Tagged ‘Butter’

Alton Brown fans probably know that he is going to back on our TVs starting Monday. He is going to revisit Good Eats, revamping the old recipes he is unhappy with, and adding new methods, techniques, and information. I am anxious to see which recipes he chooses to alter, as there have certainly been some less than perfect recipes along the way. Of course, there have also been some fantastic recipes that have become mainstays in our house. Now, back to my personal assessments of Alton’s original Good Eats.

Beef Paillard

Alton’s beef paillard calls for a good cut of meat, namely beef tenderloin. To serve four people, he calls for a pound of beef. Since it was just the two of us, I had the butcher cut us a couple steaks from the tenderloin, rather than buying a larger cut of tenderloin. Prior to cooking, place your meat in the freezer for two to three hours, as this will make it easier to cut thin slices. When your meat has chilled, remove it from the freezer and slice it into thin slices; Alton used an electric knife for this, but I used a sharp chef’s knife.

IMG_9571

Beef tenderloin, after freezing for two hours.

Place the slices of beef between sheets of plastic wrap, spritzing the beef and the plastic with water (this decreases friction and prevents tearing of the meat and plastic). Pound the meat until it is very thin – probably about 1/8-inch thick.

When all of your meat slices have been pounded, heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat for a few minutes.

While the skillet heats, brush both sides of the meat slices with vegetable oil and sprinkle them with pepper and Kosher salt.

IMG_9576

Paillards of beef tenderloin, brushed with vegetable oil and seasoned with pepper and Kosher salt.

Once the skillet is hot, invert the pan and brush the back of the skillet with vegetable oil. Place the beef paillards on the inverted skillet and they should begin sizzling immediately. Alton said his beef took about 10 seconds per side, but I would say that mine took about 30 seconds per side. I would err on the side of caution here, as you really do not want to overcook the beef.

IMG_9578

Inverted cast iron skillet.

IMG_9579

Paillards added to oiled skillet.

IMG_9580

Paillards, flipped after cooking on one side.

Transfer the beef slices to plates, drizzle them with olive oil, and garnish them with some capers, shaved Parmesan, and greens.

IMG_9585

Alton’s beef paillards with olive oil, capers, greens, and shaved Parmesan.

With this recipe, my biggest concern was that I would overcook my beef, but it turned out perfectly. The meat was amazingly tender and seemed to melt in your mouth. And, Alton’s garnishes of olive oil, Parmesan, capers, and greens were spot-on, complimenting the flavor of the beef without overpowering it. The salty nuttiness of the Parmesan, along with the tang of the capers was just perfect with the fruitiness of the olive oil. The best part of this recipe is that it is worthy of a special occasion, yet you can put it together in a very short period of time. This is a recipe that, in my opinion, needs no revamping.

Turkey Piccata

While I had previously eaten chicken piccata (piccata means “sharp”), I had never before had a version with turkey. Alton’s recipe calls for a whole turkey breast, which, surprisingly, was just impossible for me to find. I had to settle for some pre-sliced turkey breast, as that was all I could find after going to numerous stores. If you are able to find a whole turkey breast, slice it into half-inch slices. Place the slices between sheets of plastic wrap, spritz them with water, and pound them until they are twice their original size.

IMG_9543

Slice of turkey placed between sheets of plastic wrap.

Season the top sides of your pounded slices of turkey with Kosher salt and pepper, and place them, seasoned sides down, in a pie plate of flour. Season the second sides of your slices of turkey and coat them also with flour, shaking off any excess.

Next, heat 4 T unsalted butter and 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high.

When the butter has melted, add the floured turkey slices to the pan, cooking them until golden (about two minutes per side).

Move the cooked turkey slices to a foil packet and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven while you make the sauce.

IMG_9552

Cooked turkey transferred to foil packet.

To the pan in which you cooked your turkey, add 2 T chopped shallots, cooking for about a minute.

IMG_9553

Shallots added to the pan.

Add 1/2 C white wine and 1/3 C fresh lemon juice to the pan, allowing it to simmer for two to three minutes.

IMG_9554

Wine and lemon juice added to the pan.

Finally, whisk 2 T butter into the sauce.

IMG_9555

Butter, stirred into the sauce.

Spoon the sauce over the warm turkey slices, garnishing with parsley, capers, and peppercorns, if desired.

IMG_9557

Capers added to finish the sauce.

IMG_9562

Turkey piccata.

I had mixed feelings about this recipe because I found the sauce to be tangy and delightful, but my turkey was tough. I see that Alton tells you to cook the turkey for only one minute per side in the online recipe, but he cooked his turkey for two minutes per side in the episode, which seemed to be too long. I also think my turkey piccata would likely have been better if I could have found a whole turkey breast and sliced it just prior to cooking. I’m tempted to give this one another try because the sauce was smooth, buttery, and full of lemon tang. I would recommend opting for chicken if a whole turkey breast is unavailable.

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev is something I remember my mom making once or twice. She viewed it as a special occasion dish, as her mother served it to her father’s business clients who came to dinner. Chicken Kiev is actually of French, rather than Russian, origin, but was brought to Russia by the French in the 18th century. I remember my mom sometimes being frustrated with her Chicken Kiev because the filling would leak out during cooking. Having never made it before, I was hoping Alton’s recipe would keep my filling intact. This is a recipe that you will want to start at least two hours prior to serving, or even the night prior. The first step of this recipe is making a compound butter by combining a stick of softened unsalted butter, 1 t dried parsley (I used fresh, so I used twice as much), 1 t dried tarragon, 1 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper in a stand mixer.

IMG_9203

Butter, parsley, dried tarragon, Kosher salt, and pepper.

Place the compound butter on wax paper, roll it into a log, and place it in the refrigerator to firm.

After the butter has firmed up, place a chicken breast between pieces of plastic wrap, spritzing the chicken and plastic with water.

IMG_9212

Chicken breast in spritzed plastic.

Pound the chicken until it is thin enough to roll. Chicken breasts are fairly thick, so it is tedious to get the chicken thin. Place a couple slices of compound butter in the center of the pounded chicken, along with 1 T panko bread crumbs.

IMG_9214

Pounded chicken topped with compound butter and panko bread crumbs.

Roll the chicken over the butter and bread crumbs by folding the longest edge of chicken over the filling and then folding in the ends. Continue rolling the chicken, using the plastic to help you roll and keeping the ends tucked inside. Wrap the rolled chicken tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, or overnight.

IMG_9216

Rolled chicken.

When ready to cook your chicken, roll the chicken in a pie plate containing two eggs beaten with 1 t water.

IMG_9219

Chilled chicken being rolled in egg wash.

Next, roll the chicken in a plate of panko bread crumbs.

Put a half-inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat it to 375 degrees. Once hot, add the breaded chicken rolls to the pan, cooking for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Transfer the cooked chicken to a rack, letting it rest for five minutes.

IMG_9227

Chicken resting after cooking.

I found that my chicken took considerably longer than 10 minutes to reach 165 degrees inside. You do get some carryover cooking, so I think it is best to pull the chicken from the oil when the internal temperature hits 158-160. Otherwise, your chicken may be slightly overcooked by the time you cut into it.

IMG_9236

Alton’s Chicken Kiev.

We were pretty happy with Alton’s Chicken Kiev. His method for rolling the chicken worked well, and kept the filling intact for the most part (my one roll split a little bit). It is easier to roll the chicken if you get it really thin, so try to get it as thin as possible before filling/rolling. Also, don’t skimp on the chilling time for the rolled chicken, as the chicken really needs that time to maintain its shape. The panko bread crumbs gave Alton’s chicken a really great crispy crust, and the filling of the chicken had lots of anise-like flavor from the tarragon. I do wish that the compound butter would have melted a bit more, though. I just wouldn’t cook the chicken all the way to 165, as my chicken was just a tad overcooked. My mom can’t really cook anymore because of her Parkinson’s, but I think she likely would have adopted Alton’s Chicken Kiev recipe as her go-to.

This episode of Good Eats is all about sauces and their power to take a dish to new levels. Alton gives some basic tips about thickening sauces and soups, stating that his preferred thickener is arrowroot starch. If you need to thicken a hot soup or sauce, first dissolve arrowroot starch in cold liquid (such as broth), and add the cold liquid to your warm sauce/soup. A good starting amount of starch is one tablespoon of starch per cup of liquid you wish to thicken. I always try to stash these sorts of tips in the library in the back of my brain!

Strip Steak with Pepper Cream Sauce

A pepper cream sauce is first in this episode, and Alton serves this sauce over strip steaks. In the episode he does not show how he cooks the steaks, but it is stated that the steak recipe accompanies the sauce recipe online. I cooked my steaks per the online recipe, and kept them warm in the oven while I made the sauce.

For the sauce, you will need beef broth, cognac, green peppercorns (these come in a brine and can be found near capers in the store), and cream.

IMG_8866

Ingredients for pepper cream sauce: beef broth, green peppercorns, cognac, and cream.

The first step of this sauce is deglazing the pan in which the steaks were cooked, which is done by adding 3/4 C of beef broth to the pan and scraping up any browned bits in the pan.

Let the broth reduce for a few minutes over high heat. Next, add 3 T cognac to the pan (this is about one miniature bottle), along with 1 T green peppercorns, drained and lightly crushed. Follow the peppercorns up with 3/4 C cream.

IMG_8878

Cognac, green peppercorns, and cream stirred into broth.

Let the sauce reduce until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

IMG_8879

Reducing the sauce.

Spoon the sauce over your cooked steaks and enjoy!

IMG_8882

Strip steak with pepper cream sauce.

This is sauce is really quite delicious. It is indulgent without being heavy, and the spice from the green peppercorns is excellent with meat. The cognac gives the sauce a sweet, fruity character and the cream makes the sauce rich and smooth. You could pair this sauce with any meat, really. I would be quite happy to be served this sauce in a high-end steakhouse. The next time you serve steak, whip up a batch of this sauce to kick your steak game up a notch.

Hollandaise

Hollandaise sauce was something my mom made fairly regularly, usually serving it over asparagus or broccoli. While I knew Hollandaise could be a bit finicky, my mom did not solely reserve her Hollandaise efforts for holidays. We are so fortunate to have a mom who was such a good cook, and who served us things like Hollandaise! I have only made Hollandaise a couple of times myself, and making Alton’s recipe made me realize it is something to make more regularly. For Alton’s Hollandaise, you will need a heavy saucepan with about an inch of water, and a mixing bowl that comfortably nests on top of the saucepan. I’m sure a double boiler would also work. Begin by bringing the water in the saucepan to a simmer.

IMG_8899

Simmering water.

While the water heats, place three egg yolks and 1 t water in the bowl and whisk – do this off of the heat. Whisk the yolks until they are lighter in color, which will take a minute or two.

Add 1/4 t sugar to the yolks and whisk for another 30 seconds.

IMG_8898

Sugar added to yolks.

Place the yolks over the simmering water and whisk them continuously for three to five minutes, or until they thicken, lighten in color, and fall from the whisk in a ribbon.

At this point, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in 12 T unsalted butter, one tablespoon at a time; you will need to place the bowl back over the simmering water occasionally to melt the butter.

IMG_8905

Sauce after adding all butter.

When all of the butter has been incorporated, add 1/2 t Kosher salt, 2 t lemon juice, and 1/8 t cayenne pepper.

IMG_8906

Kosher salt, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper added to sauce.

Serve the Hollandaise immediately, or store in a thermos until you are ready to use it. I served my Hollandaise for dinner over Eggs Benedict and steamed asparagus.

IMG_8908

Alton’s Hollandaise, served over asparagus and Eggs Benedict.

First off, we should all eat Eggs Benedict for dinner more often! Alton’s version of Hollandaise seems pretty foolproof to me, and is rich, creamy, and buttery. My only complaint about his Hollandaise is that I prefer my Hollandaise to have a bit more lemon. Otherwise, his Hollandaise hits all the marks of this classic sauce.

My back has been bothering me for the last six days, so I haven’t been able to be as active as I like to be. Though it is a nice, albeit smoky, summer day, I find myself rather confined because of my darn back. Seems like a good time to write a blog post.

Banana Ice Cream

I can honestly say that I like all fruit I have tried. That being said, bananas are definitely lower on my favorite fruits list. Alton, of course, came up with some recipes to showcase bananas, starting with his banana ice cream. You will need 2 1/4 pounds of bananas for this recipe, and you will need to place them in the freezer (still in their peels) overnight.

IMG_8152

2 1/4 pounds of bananas

The online recipe tells you to remove the bananas from the freezer and let them thaw for about an hour. In the episode, however, Alton instructed to let the bananas thaw completely, which took five hours for my bananas.

You freeze and thaw the bananas to get a mushy texture, which is desirable for making this ice cream; basically, the bananas will replace the eggs that are in a custard-based ice cream. Once the bananas are thawed, peel them and place them in a food processor. Add 1 T fresh lemon juice to the bananas and process them; the lemon juice will prevent browning.

Add 3/4 C light corn syrup to the processor, along with either 1/2 t vanilla extract or, preferably, the scrapings from one vanilla bean.

With the machine running, drizzle in 1 1/2 C heavy cream.

Chill the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it reaches 40 degrees.

IMG_8176

Banana ice cream base, ready to be chilled.

Once chilled, process the banana base in an ice cream maker.

Freeze the ice cream, airtight, for 3-6 hours before eating.

IMG_8182

Churned ice cream, heading to the freezer for several hours.

IMG_8187

Alton’s banana ice cream.

This is one of the easiest ice creams you will ever make, as there is no cooking of custard, etc. The texture of this ice cream really does seem similar to that of a custard-based ice cream, as the bananas give quite a smooth, rich mouthfeel. And, if you want banana flavor, this is loaded with it. Being kind of “meh” about bananas, we enjoyed this, but I think true banana lovers would find this amazing. This is a cold and easy summer treat.

Bananas Foster

I remember going to some fancy restaurant as a kid, and my brother and I ordered bananas foster for dessert. Prepared table-side with lots of flair, we were awed by the flames enveloping our dessert. I don’t think I had eaten bananas foster since that time, and Ted had never had it, so it seemed like it would be fun to give it a go at home. I don’t have the greatest track record with flames, such as when my fish and chips caught on fire in episode 22, but I figured I’d give it a whirl. For this recipe, you will need two bananas, 2 T unsalted butter, 1/4 C dark brown sugar, 1/4 t ground allspice, 1/2 t ground nutmeg, 1 T banana liqueur (I got a miniature), 1/2 t orange zest, and 1/4-1/3 C dark rum.

Alton prepared his bananas foster on a table-side burner, but I opted to make mine on the stove. Either way, place a large, heavy skillet on the burner over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, slice two bananas lengthwise in half, leaving their peels on to prevent browning. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the brown sugar and spices.

Stir this mixture into a syrup and add the banana liqueur.

IMG_8304

Banana liqueur added to syrup.

Remove the bananas’ peels and place them, cut side down, in the pan for one minute.

IMG_8308

Bananas added to the pan.

Flip the bananas and cook them for another minute. Some of the bananas may break, but they will still taste great.

IMG_8309

Bananas flipped after one minute.

Using two forks, transfer the bananas to a plate.

IMG_8310

Bananas, transferred to a plate.

Allow the sauce to return to a simmer and then turn off the heat.

IMG_8311

Sauce returning to a simmer.

Add the rum to the pan, swirl it around, and ignite it with a long-handled lighter.

IMG_8313

Rum added to pan and ignited with burner OFF.

Continue to swirl the pan until the flames extinguish.

IMG_8315

Swirling the pan until the flames go out.

Cook the sauce for 30 more seconds and stir in the orange zest.

IMG_8317

Orange zest added to sauce.

Spoon the sauce over the bananas and add some vanilla ice cream. Or, you can serve your bananas foster over waffles

IMG_8323

Alton’s bananas foster with vanilla ice cream.

. I have to admit that this was a really fun one to make, as my flames were at least a foot high! If you were bold enough to try this around kids, they would be super impressed, as I was when I saw it years ago. Yes, there is some alcohol in this dessert, but most of it cooks out (hello, flames!). In addition to the fun flair (or should I say flare?) of this dessert, it is also super tasty. The bananas get tender and caramelized with spices and brown sugar, and then you pour over the warm, buttery, rum-flavored sauce. Add in some cold vanilla ice cream and it’s a pretty fantastic combo.

Fried Plantains

The only plantains I’ve really had have been in chip form from a grocery store, so I was eager to cook with this ingredient for the first time. Our chain grocery store did not have plantains, but a local, smaller market did.

IMG_8202

Two plantains.

To make Alton’s fried plantains, you will need the following items:

  1. a rack over a sheet pan

    IMG_8203

    Rack over sheet pan.

  2. a wide skillet with 1 1/2 C vegetable or canola oil at 325 degrees

    IMG_8210

    Oil heated to 325.

  3. an inverted sheet pan with a sheet of parchment paper on it
  4. a wooden/plastic spatula

    IMG_8205

    Inverted sheet pan with parchment, and a spatula.

  5. a medium bowl with 2 C water, 1 t Kosher salt, and 3 crushed cloves of garlic

    IMG_8206

    Bowl of water with Kosher salt and garlic.

  6. a tea towel or a pad of paper towels for blotting
  7. 2 plantains, peeled (you may need to score the peels with a knife) and cut into 1-inch medallions

    IMG_8209

    Plantains, peeled and cut into medallions.

The first step is to place the plantain medallions into the oil for 1 1/2 minutes. Flip the plantains and cook them for 1 1/2 minutes more. You want the plantains to be golden on both sides.

Decrease the heat under the oil and transfer the plantains to the parchment paper on the inverted sheet pan.

IMG_8213

Plantains transferred to parchment.

Use your spatula to smash each plantain medallion to about half of it’s original height.

IMG_8214

Smashed plantains.

Next, place the smashed plantains in the bowl of water with the garlic and salt for at least a minute. Alton never really specified why you place the plantains in the water, but I’m assuming it is to remove starch and impart flavor.

IMG_8217

Smashed plantains, placed in water.

After their soak, move the plantains to towels to dry.

IMG_8220

Soaked plantains drying on paper towels.

While the plantains dry, increase the heat under the oil, bringing it back up to ~325 degrees. Once at temperature, fry the plantains again for 2-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

IMG_8222

Plantains back in hot oil for second frying.

Transfer the fried plantains to the rack over a sheet pan and season them liberally with Kosher salt while they are still hot.

IMG_8224

Fried plantains on rack. Seasoned with Kosher salt.

IMG_8230

Fried plantains

We ate these for lunch one day and they were great. They are reminiscent of french fries, yet with slightly sweeter flavor. They are golden and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. You could really pair them with any condiment you like. I ate mine with some hot sauce, which I thought was great with the subtle sweetness of the plantains. I really liked how Alton had you prep everything in advance for this recipe, as it made the frying process super easy. I highly recommend making these, and they’d make a great side for any burger or sandwich.

Although I have made pies in the past, meringue pie was a new venture for me with this episode. I don’t have anything against meringue pies, though I suppose I probably prefer a good double-crusted fruit pie. Having made Alton’s pecan pie last Thanksgiving, I was pretty confident that Alton’s lemon meringue pie would be spectacular. He broke his pie recipe into two parts, the first being the crust.

Pie Crust

Alton’s pie crust calls for both butter and lard, with the butter primarily providing flavor and the lard ensuring a flaky texture. The recipe starts with placing 3 oz of cubed butter in the freezer for 15 minutes, along with 1 oz of cubed lard. Also, at this time, place two pie plates in the freezer.

IMG_7639

Lard and butter, cubed and headed to the freezer.

While the fat chills, put some ice in a squirt bottle with 1/4 C water. Next, in a food processor pulse together 6 ounces of flour with 1/2 t salt.

IMG_7641

Flour and salt in the food processor.

Add the chilled butter, pulsing the mixture five or six times.

Add the cubed lard and pulse three more times.

Use the squirt bottle to thoroughly spritz the surface of the flour mixture and pulse the dough five times.

IMG_7646

Spritzing dough surface with ice water.

The dough should hold together when squeezed, which should take approximately 2 T of ice water. Continue spritzing the dough with more water until it holds together easily without crumbling. I found that I needed to spritz the dough several times.

Once the dough holds together, move the dough to a large ziplock bag, squeezing the dough into a ball, and then flattening it into a disc. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.

When the dough has chilled, remove it from the refrigerator and cut off the two sides of the ziplock bag, leaving the zipper top and the sealed bottom intact. Open the bag and flour both sides of the dough.

IMG_7660

Edges of sides of ziplock cut off, and dough floured.

Close the bag again and use a rolling pin to roll the dough until it barely reaches beyond the open edges of the bag. I love Alton’s method of rolling pie dough in a bag because it keeps my counter and rolling pin clean!

IMG_7661

Floured dough, rolled out inside of ziplock bag.

Peel back the plastic and re-flour the top of the dough.

IMG_7662

Ziplock opened and top surface re-floured.

Place one of your chilled pie pans on top of the floured dough and flip the dough onto the back of the pan.

Remove the plastic from the dough and place the second cold pie plate upside down on the dough, so the dough is between the two pie plates (the dough will be lining the second plate).

IMG_7665

Second cold pie plate placed on top of dough upside down, so dough is lining second pie plate.

Flip the pie plates again and remove the top plate (the first one), and your second pie plate will be perfectly lined with your dough; just be sure to press the dough down into the edges of the pan.

IMG_7666

Pie plates flipped over with dough between them. Dough is lining second pie plate.

Cut away any excess dough hanging over the edges. There is no need to make the dough edges fancy, as they will be covered with meringue. Use a fork to dock the bottom of the crust and place the dough in the refrigerator to cool for 10-15 minutes. This helps to form fat layers in the dough, which will yield a flaky crust.

IMG_7735

Docked dough. Excess dough removed.

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 425. When the oven is ready, place the pie crust on a baking sheet, line it with parchment paper, and fill the crust with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust for 15 minutes.

IMG_7671

Crust lined with parchment and beans, and placed in oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove the parchment and beans/weights, and bake the crust for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

Let the crust cool completely before using. You could use this pie crust for any type of pie, but I had to continue on and make a lemon meringue filling, as that was what Alton did in the episode. This pie crust recipe is super easy and I love Alton’s tips/tricks for rolling the dough and lining the pie plate.

Lemon Meringue Pie

I ended up making Alton’s lemon meringue pie twice in two days. Why? My first lemon meringue pie was lemon soup. I had followed Alton’s directions exactly as he made the pie in the episode, which resulted in a filling that was not nearly thick enough. For my second pie, I cooked my filling much longer than Alton recommended and ended up with a perfect pie. Here, I’ll go through the steps as Alton did them, giving my recommended changes along the way. The lemon meringue pie begins with making the meringue. Place 4 egg whites (save the yolks for the lemon filling) in the bowl of a mixer and add a pinch of cream of tartar (helps to denature proteins).

Whip the whites by hand until they are frothy.

IMG_7680

Egg whites beaten to a froth by hand.

Then, beat with the mixer on medium-high. When you have a light foam in the bowl, begin slowly adding 2 T sugar with the mixer running.

Beat the whites until you have stiff peaks. You can check for stiff peaks by quickly dipping/withdrawing your beater – if a peak forms and remains, you have stiff peaks. If a peak forms, but falls, you need to keep beating. Once you have stiff peaks, place a pan lid on the bowl and set it aside in a cool place.

Oh, and preheat your oven to 375. To make the lemon filling, whisk 4 egg yolks in a medium bowl and set them aside.

IMG_7686

Beaten egg yolks.

In a saucier whisk together 1/3 C cornstarch and 1 1/2 C water, placing it over medium heat.

IMG_7689

Cornstarch and water in saucier.

Whisk 1 1/3 C sugar and 1/4 t salt into the starch mixture. Stir this mixture often, bringing it to a boil.

Once boiling, simmer the mixture for an additional minute.

IMG_7696

Simmering starch mixture.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly beat about half of the hot mixture into the bowl of beaten egg yolks, adding only a whisk-full at a time.

When half of the hot mixture has been added to the yolks, whisk the egg mixture back into the pan.

IMG_7700

Egg mixture whisked back into saucier.

Alton tells you to return the pan to the heat, simmering it for one minute; I did this with my first pie and the mixture was very runny, but I assumed it would thicken later. Nope. Instead, for my second pie, I cooked the mixture for about 10 minutes, until it was bubbling and quite thick. Keep in mind that the mixture will not thicken much later, so you want it to resemble your desired pie filling texture now.

Once thickened, turn off the heat and stir in 3 T butter.

IMG_7739

Butter whisked in.

When the butter has melted, add 1 T lemon zest and 1/2 C fresh lemon juice.

IMG_7744

Finished lemon filling.

Pour the filling into the baked/cooled crust.

IMG_7746

Finished lemon filling poured into cooled crust.

Working quickly, beat your meringue again for about 30 seconds to plump it up.

IMG_7748

Refreshed meringue.

Dump the meringue on the hot lemon filling, spreading it with a spatula to seal it against the crust edges. Smooth the top.

IMG_7749

Meringue, spread onto hot lemon filling.

Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake it at 375 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden. Let the pie cool completely before slicing.

IMG_7751

Meringue after baking.

IMG_7768

A slice of lemon meringue pie.

This pie was great… the second time around. Alton’s crust recipe is fool-proof, flaky, and buttery. His lemon filling has a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, and is bursting with lemon flavor. And, his meringue came out perfectly both times I made it. If you are interested in making a lemon meringue pie, do this one, but be sure to cook your lemon filling until it is thick.

As I type, my beloved Coonhound, Hitcher, lies next to me. He was diagnosed with inoperable cancer a few weeks ago. He has been my constant sidekick since we found him, as an abandoned puppy, on a roadside 10+ years ago. This news has been tough – very, very tough. Once again, I will use this Good Eats project to distract myself.

As the daughter and granddaughter of Marylanders, I have had my share of crab over the years. Growing up, a trip to Grandma and Granddaddy’s was not complete without a crab dinner (or 3!). Whether it was a trip to a local seafood restaurant, a family crab picking session around Grandma’s table, or a plate of Grandma’s amazing homemade crab cakes, crab was something we ate early and often. Yes, this was an episode I eagerly anticipated.

Steamed Alaskan King Crab Legs

Alton’s preparation of crab legs was first in this episode. When purchasing crab legs, it is best to buy frozen legs (frozen crab has already been cooked), thawing them overnight in the refrigerator at home; just be sure to allow the moisture to drain away from them as they thaw, and consume any thawed crab within 24 hours. Alaskan king crab legs are large, so you can allot two per person.

IMG_3528

Alaskan king crab legs.

Working with three legs at a time, break/cut each leg into sections at the joints. Wrap the segments in two layers of damp paper towels, along with a sprig of fresh dill.

IMG_3529

Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments and topped with fresh dill.

Wrap the entire bundle tightly in plastic wrap, and microwave it for two minutes on high power; the goal here is to re-heat, rather than re-cook the crab.

IMG_3533

Alaskan king crab legs, broken into segments, and topped with fresh dill. Wrapped in damp paper towels and plastic wrap, the whole bundle heads into the microwave.

Let the heated crab legs rest in their bundles while you microwave any remaining packages of crab. Serve the legs with ghee, which just happens to be the next recipe in this episode.

IMG_3536

Steamed crab legs, served with ghee.

IMG_3541

Alton’s crab leg method is outstanding. It takes almost no time to prepare an amazing meal, using this method. If you want to have crab legs at home, this is the way to do it.

Ghee

What goes better with crab than butter? As mentioned above, Alton recommends serving his crab legs with ghee. To make Alton’s ghee, melt a pound (I did 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter over low heat.

IMG_3516

Melting unsalted butter over low heat.

As soon as the butter has liquefied, increase the heat to medium.

IMG_3517

Liquefied butter. Increasing the heat to medium.

Continue to cook the butter over medium heat until it finishes foaming.

IMG_3519

Butter, foaming for the first time.

When the foaming has ceased, increase the heat to high and wait for the butter to foam a second time. Watch the pan carefully, as the butter can easily burn.

IMG_3521

Butter, foaming for the second time.

When your ghee is ready, the pan will have brown bits on the bottom and the butter will have darkened slightly. Strain the ghee into a clean container and serve.

IMG_3523

Strained ghee.

Ghee is a perfect accompaniment for crab legs, and Alton’s explanation of how to make ghee is super easy. If you prep crab legs at home, be sure to make some ghee also!

Marinated Crab Salad

Alton’s third crab recipe is for a marinated crab salad. I suppose you could just purchase crab meat for this, which is how the online recipe is written, but what fun would that be? Instead, in the episode, Alton hand picked the meat from two Dungeness crabs. Thankfully, I was able to find whole Dungeness crabs at a new local store.

IMG_3563

Whole Dungeness crab.

If you have never picked a crab before, here are Alton’s instructions:

  1. Flip the crab upside down.
  2. Use a screwdriver to pry off the apron.
  3. Holding the crab over a sink, pry off the back of the crab.
  4. Rinse the inside of the crab.
  5. Pull off any gray gills, discarding them.
  6. Twist off the legs.
  7. Break the remaining central core in half and pull out as much meat as you can from the tiny compartments.
  8. Crack each leg and scoop out the meat.

My crabs had already been prepped through step 5, so I just had to get the meat out.

Once you have your crab meat, it is time to make the marinade for the salad. Combine in a large Ziplock bag:  1 C olive oil, 1 C red wine vinegar, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1/2 C chopped parsley, 1/4 C fresh tarragon, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, and 1/2 t pepper.

Use an immersion blender to thoroughly emulsify the marinade. Add your crab meat to the marinade, pushing any excess air out of the bag. Refrigerate the crab for 4-8 hours.

IMG_3573

Marinade and crab in plastic bag.

Serve the crab mixture over mixed greens with lemon wedges.

IMG_3602

Marinated crab salad, served over greens.

This was a light summer entrée that we enjoyed on our deck. While tasty, I did feel that the delicate flavor of the crab was a little overpowered by the marinade. To me, crab is so good on its own (see the crab leg recipe above) that I would tend toward recipes that allow the crab to shine more.

Crab Fritters

Crab fritters were Alton’s last recipe in this episode, and he did use purchased crabmeat for this one. In the episode, he used a 50/50 combination of lump and special crabmeat. Since I was only feeding two of us, I used one 8-ounce container of jumbo crabmeat.

IMG_3785

8 ounces of crab meat.

To begin, place a rack on a sheet pan for draining and heat 2 1/2 quarts of canola oil to 375 degrees over medium heat.

IMG_3783

Canola oil, heating to 375.

Meanwhile, combine 1 C lump crab meat, 1 C special crab meat, 1/2 C mayo, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and 1/2 t pepper.

Scoop the crab mixture with a 1-ounce ice cream scoop, rolling the balls in Panko breadcrumbs.

Alton tells you to fry the balls for 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden, but I found that my fritters were done in 3-4 minutes.

IMG_3795

Fritters, added to hot oil.

I served my fritters with lemon wedges.

IMG_3802

Crab fritters.

Alton’s crab fritters were pretty darn delicious, as they had little “filler” and loads of crab. The Panko breadcrumbs gave a crispy, crunchy shell to the creamy crab/mayo filling. These are a definite great alternative to the classic crab cake.

Braciole

When I married into Ted’s family I became privy to his family’s spaghetti recipe, a meal that epitomizes “comfort food.” Their family recipe is for a rich red sauce, flavored with meat and spices, that is served over spaghetti. Included in the red sauce are bracioles, which are miniature rolls of seasoned meat that become incredibly tender as they simmer in the red sauce. When I saw that the final Good Eats episode of the sixth season would involve making a braciole, I was incredibly curious to see how Alton’s version would compare with Ted’s family’s recipe.

For his braciole, Alton recommends using flank steak, purchasing the thinnest one you can find.

IMG_2913

Flank steak.

Laying the steak on a counter, spritz its surface with water and cover it with plastic wrap. Spritz the surface of the plastic wrap with water also; the water will allow the meat tenderizer to slide as it hits the meat. Using a meat tenderizer (Alton recommends one with a large, flat surface), pound the steak until it is thin.

Next, it is time to make the braciole filling by combining in a food processor 1 clove of garlic, 1 T chopped parsley, 1 T chopped fresh oregano, 1 t chopped rosemary, 1 t chopped thyme, 1/3 C grated Parmesan, 1 1/4 C flavored croutons, and 2 eggs.

Using a spatula (I found that my hands worked better), spread the filling over the surface of the flank steak, with the wide edge of the steak facing you. Do not go all the way to the edge of the meat, or the roll will not seal well.

IMG_2919

Flank steak topped with braciole filling.

Roll the meat toward you until you have a nice log, and turn the meat 90 degrees, so it is perpendicular to you.

IMG_2921

Flank steak rolled into a log.

Running cotton butcher’s twine under the far end of the meat, tie a surgeon’s knot near the top of the log by passing the string twice under itself, followed by two more passes the other direction. Be sure to leave at least eight inches of excess twine on the loose end.

Working toward you, twist the twine to form a large loop and wiggle it up the meat.

IMG_2924

A loop formed by twisting the twine and wiggling the loop up the meat.

Continue forming loops, sliding them up the meat until you have a ladder of twine running up the length of the meat.

IMG_2925

Continuous loops formed and wiggled up the meat to form a network of loops.

Flip the log over and bring the twine to the top of the log, crossing it once under the center loop of twine.

IMG_2926

The meat, flipped to its back side. Bringing the string up to the top, crossing it once under the center loop.

Bringing the two ends of twine together, cross them on the back side of the log and flip the meat back to its front, tying another surgeon’s knot and a slip knot to secure. Let the meat sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes. When ready to cook, coat the surface of the meat with canola or peanut oil and a sprinkle of Kosher salt.

IMG_2931

A surgeon’s knot tied on the front of the meat, bringing both ends of the twine together to secure. The meat is oiled and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Heat a cast iron skillet (I used a large non-stick skillet because we have a glass cook top) on the stove until it is hot enough to sear the meat, and sear the meat on all sides until browned. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, placing a 9×13″ pan inside with 3 C of tomato sauce (I used the Good Eats tomato sauce here).

IMG_2901

Three cups of tomato sauce to be heated in the oven.

Once the braciole is seared on all sides, place it in the hot tomato sauce, spooning the sauce over the meat.

Tenting the pan with foil, return it to the oven for at least 45 minutes. Alton says you really can cook this all day, if you choose, but my braciole seemed to be perfect after about two hours.

IMG_2940

Pan tented with foil and placed in the oven.

Slice the braciole and serve it over the tomato sauce.

IMG_2951

Alton’s finished braciole with tomato sauce.

I was happy with how this braciole turned out, though it was a bit different from the ones I am used to. Ted and I both really liked the flavor of the filling and how it paired with the meat, but I think it would have been even better if my steak had been thinner. This was really very easy to prepare and it makes for a nice presentation on the plate.

Fish Roll with Compound Butter

In addition to rolling meat, Alton used this episode to show that you can also make a seafood roll. For this seafood roll, you will need three types of seafood:  salmon fillets, flounder fillets, and sea scallops. Depending on where you live, you may need to do some substituting. I could not find flounder where I live, so I had to substitute sole. You will also want to get the thinnest fish fillets you can find. Note that Alton’s recipe makes quite a large roll, so you also may want to modify this if you are only serving a few people because leftover fish=yuck! I was only making this roll for two of us, so I downsized by cutting my fillets. To begin, place a sheet of parchment on your counter, topped with plastic wrap. For the full-sized roll, lay two salmon fillets on the plastic wrap, nearest you, with their tails away from you, and so they are slightly overlapping each other. Next, place three flounder fillets on top of the salmon with their tails facing toward you. The flounder fillets should overlap the salmon about midway.

IMG_3186

Salmon fillet with tail facing away. Sole fillet placed on top with tail facing toward me.

Place a metal skewer through eight sea scallops, being sure to go through their flat sides. Place this skewer at the far end of the flounder fillets. Season all of the fish with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

IMG_3187

Skewered scallops placed on far end of flounder. Fish seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper, fresh dill, and fresh parsley.

Grab the far end of the plastic and roll toward you keeping the skewer in the center of the roll, and avoiding rolling the plastic wrap into the fish roll.

IMG_3188

Pulling the plastic toward me to roll the fish around the scallops.

Once your fish is starting to roll, place the edge of a sheet pan against the fish (on top of the plastic), pressing with the pan as you pull the plastic toward you.

IMG_3189

Using the edge of a sheet pan to press on on the fish roll as I pull the plastic toward me.

Once your roll is complete, you should be able to just slip the plastic off, leaving the roll on the parchment.

IMG_3194

Fish after rolling.

Next, rolling away from you, roll the fish in the parchment, twisting the ends. Refrigerate the fish roll for two hours.

IMG_3195

Plastic removed and fish rolled in parchment. Into the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Once your fish roll has chilled, preheat your broiler and remove the skewer from the fish roll, keeping the fish rolled in parchment. Use a serrated knife to slice the roll into 3/4-1″ rounds. Place the rounds on a sprayed broiler pan and remove their parchment. Brush the fish rounds with canola oil and sprinkle them with Kosher salt.

IMG_3197

Sliced fish roll brushed with canola oil and sprinkled with Kosher salt.

Broil the fish six inches from the heat, checking after three minutes. Alton served his fish with herb butter, which he did not make in the show. I threw an herb butter together by mixing softened butter with the leftover dill and parsley from the fish roll, along with lemon zest and pepper.

IMG_3209

Broiled fish roll served with herb butter.

We thought this fish roll was great. The salmon, white fish, and scallops went very well together and the roll was really pretty. Herb butter is a great accompaniment to the seafood here too. Unfortunately, my fish roll got cold when I realized there was a fire behind our house, so I will have to make this again on a less stressful evening! This is a great recipe to make for an impressive presentation that takes very little effort.

Ah, butter, I have loved thee for as long as I can remember. Conversely, as a kid, my brother refused to eat butter, and would only eat margarine. Nuts, I know. I seem to remember something about him being disgusted by the fact that butter was animal-based fat. I think it is safe to say that the anti-butter trait is not genetic, as I saw my niece lick a stick of butter with pure delight last week when she was visiting. Thank goodness because butter certainly belongs on the list of “good eats.”

Raymond Beurre Blanc

Monday evening seemed like a good time to have the first recipe from this episode, which was for Alton’s beurre blanc. I have had beurre blancs in the past, but always in a restaurant.

Beurre blanc ingredients:  shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

Beurre blanc ingredients: shallots, white wine, lemon juice, heavy cream, unsalted butter, Kosher salt, and white pepper.

To make Alton’s sauce, add a couple of small chopped shallots to a pan, along with 8 oz. of white wine and 2 oz. of lemon juice.

Chopped shallots.

Chopped shallots.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Shallots and wine in the pan.

Lemon juice added.

Lemon juice added.

Increase the heat to high, and reduce this liquid “au sec,” or until almost dry; you will have about 2 T remaining.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Shallots, lemon juice, and white wine.

Beginning to reduce.

Beginning to reduce.

After a few minutes.

After a few minutes.

Reduced "au sec."

Reduced “au sec.”

Add 1 T of heavy cream to the pan, and decrease the heat to low as soon as the cream starts to bubble. The cream, as Alton says, is your “emulsion insurance.”

Cream added to pan for "emulsion insurance."

Cream added to pan for “emulsion insurance.”

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Cream bubbling, so heat turned to low.

Next, you will need 6 oz. of cold, unsalted butter, which you will want to cut into tablespoon-sized chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

You will add the butter chunks one at a time, first on the heat, and then off of the heat, until incorporated. If the sauce gets above 130 degrees, the membranes around the fat globules will collapse, so you do not want the sauce to get too hot.

First chunk of butter being added.

First chunk of butter being added.

Stirring the butter first on the heat...

Stirring the butter first on the heat…

...and then off of the heat.

…and then off of the heat.

To scale the sauce up or down, Alton explains that you want to use about a stick of butter per tablespoon of reduction. Once all of the butter has been added, season the sauce with Kosher salt and white pepper, to taste. You can serve the sauce as is, or you can strain it for a perfectly smooth sauce.

The finished beurre blanc.

The finished beurre blanc.

Since the beurre blanc will not hold well, you will want to serve it immediately or store it in a thermos for later use. We had the beurre blanc over steaks and asparagus for dinner, and it paired greatly with both.

Alton's beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

Alton’s beurre blanc over a steak and asparagus.

As someone who prefers to have some sort of sauce with steak, I really enjoyed this. I loved the slight sourness of the sauce, as it contrasted nicely with the richness from the butter. I will be making this one again for sure, as it would also be great over poached eggs or fish. This is a simple way to dress dinner up.

Compound Butter

Next up in Alton’s butter arsenal is a recipe for compound butter. I remember having compound butter at some restaurant when I was little, with my mom explaining to me that there were endless possibilities for flavor combinations you could achieve. Alton’s version is pretty straight forward.

Ingredients for compound butter:  olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

Ingredients for compound butter: olive oil, chives, thyme, rosemary, sage, and salted butter.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into tablespoon-sized chunks and set it aside. Salted butter is used here because it has a longer shelf-life; the salt in the butter helps to prevent oxidation. This is why unsalted butter is typically wrapped in foil, while salted butter is not.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Butter chunks in mixer.

Next, pour 3-4 T of olive oil into your food processor, add 2 T of chopped chives, and chop.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chives and olive oil in the food processor.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

Chopped chives in olive oil.

To this, add 3 T of mixed herbs; Alton likes a tablespoon each of sage, thyme, and rosemary. Process this herb mixture until the oil is green.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Chopped sage, thyme, and rosemary.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Herbs chopped in oil.

Using the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, beat the butter until fluffy, starting on low and increasing the speed to high. The butter should be fluffy in 5-7 minutes.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Butter whipped until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add the oil to the butter and mix until incorporated evenly.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Herb/oil mixture added to butter and mixed.

Spoon the butter onto the end of a sheet of parchment, and pull the far end of the parchment over the butter.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Compound butter on one end of parchment.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Far end of parchment pulled over butter.

Place the edge of a sheet pan against the butter (on top of the paper), hold the bottom piece of paper, and press the butter into a log shape. Roll up the ends of the parchment, secure with rubber bands, and chill the butter until firm.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Compound butter rolled into a log to be chilled.

Slice the butter and serve as a sauce for meat, chicken, fish, bread, vegetables, or anything else you can think of. I first tried the butter this morning on half a bagel, and I could smell the fresh herbs as soon as I unrolled the parchment.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter, sliced.

Compound butter on a bagel.

Compound butter on a bagel.

I liked this particular combination of herbs because none of the herbs overwhelmed the others. The butter looks really pretty and is super flavorful, so it would be a great thing to serve to guests. I look forward to trying this as a simple sauce for many things in the coming weeks.

Honey Butter

For a sweet finish to the episode, Alton makes honey butter. This recipe is really similar to the compound butter recipe.

Ingredients for honey butter:  salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

Ingredients for honey butter: salted butter, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

To start, cut a pound of salted butter into chunks and beat it with the whisk attachment of your mixer until fluffy.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter cut into chunks.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Butter beaten until fluffy.

Once fluffy, add 1/4 C honey, 1/2 t cinnamon, and 1/2 t vanilla extract. Mix until evenly distributed.

Honey.

Honey.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Cinnamon, honey, and vanilla mixed into butter.

Put the butter on parchment, use a sheet pan to push the butter into a log, and roll up the ends.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

Honey butter on end of parchment sheet.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

End of parchment pulled over butter.

Honey butter log.

Honey butter log.

Chill the butter until firm, and slice to serve. Again, to first try this butter, I had it on half a bagel.

Sliced honey butter.

Sliced honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

A pat of honey butter.

Honey butter on a bagel.

Honey butter on a bagel.

I was pleasantly surprised by the level of sweetness in the butter, as I was concerned it would be cloyingly sweet, but it was not. The flavor of the honey definitely came through, as did the vanilla and the cinnamon, but nothing was overpowering. This would be great on pancakes or waffles, and I think I will be trying that this weekend… with Alton’s pancake mix, of course!