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Slow-cooked Ox Cheeks

Now that the summer is over, I have a lot more time to mess around in the kitchen. (And it’s a lot cooler! Cooking in the summer, especially this summer, leads to unpleasant extra heat in the house.) I’d been chatting with a friend about ox cheeks and how good they are, and I’ve been eating them at one of London’s finest barbeque trucks. So I decided what better way to try to prepare them than to cook them sous vide.

Whenever I decide to cook something new, I always search to see how others have prepared it online. Almost every website said cooked at 82 C for 8-9 hours. Okay that’s fine. However, I’m not always sure why these sous vide recipes call for such high heats. I mean, I could just braise the ox cheek in a nice red wine and some beef stock to create a soft, delicious ox cheek with a ready made gravy. Isn’t the point of sous vide cooking to go “low and slow” and to be able to cook some of these tougher cuts of meat really well and still keep them medium rare? I think so. To be fair, 9 hours is pretty slow and 82 C is pretty low, but it’s not low or slow enough for me. I finally found a recipe that kept the cheeks at 55 C (medium rare) for 3 days. This sounded ideal for me, so I went for it.

Not being sure how hard the meat would be to handle when I was finished, I opted to sear them first, then freeze them for a bit to solidify the juices and make it easier to vacuum seal. Luckily, I was also making braised lamb shanks for Sunday dinner, so I just coated them in flour, salt and pepper and seared them in the same pan to give the shanks a bit more flavor. I also threw a couple of rosemary thyme sprigs into each of the bags. Once they were sealed, and the temperature was right, I popped them in the water bath to bathe away for three days. There was a bit of a worry when we were out on Tuesday night and part of the city lost power (quite close to our house as well), so I was worried that we had lost power and the previous two days had gone to waste, but luckily we were spared from the power cut and the cheeks continued on their three day cook.

When they were done, I took them out. They looked and smelled marvelous. I took the small amount of juices left in the back and reduced them in a pan with a bit of balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and Lancashire sauce that we had received recently as a gift from some friends. Apparently there are other shires in the UK that have a sauce besides just Worcestershire. Who knew? I served the sliced (and perfectly medium rare) cheeks on some potato rosti with a bit of the reduction and a side of steamed sugar snap peas.

They tasted divine. They were so soft you could cut them with a butter knife. The sauce added a nice boost, but was really unnecessary as the ox cheek really has an amazing flavor on its own. It’s definitely something I’m keeping in my repertoire as it’s quite easy, as long as I plan ahead. It would also go great with some fondant potatoes or creamy mash as well.

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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Sous Vide

 

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Make-your-own Ramen Burger

Food trends are interesting. The major cities usually get them, and often the start of a food trend is NYC. One of the biggest food trends is the Cronut. According to the website the shop opens at 8:00 am and if you want a good chance to get a Cronut, you need to arrive by 6:00 am and wait in line for 2.5 hours. 2.5 hours? Are you kidding me? I hate to queue for an hour let alone that long. These Cronuts better be Manna from heaven given the way you have to wait to get them. Luckily, these food trends seem to spread, and since the word Cronut is trademarked, they just call them something different. In London, we’ve seen several different types of Cronuts (or Cro-doughs, or Dossants or whatever people want to call them) and luckily the queue for these don’t seem to be quite as bad. (At least at some places and for now.)

One of the newest NYC food trends is the Ramen burger. What is this you ask? Well it’s a burger sandwiched between a Ramen noodle “bun”. Sounds interesting, and when I pointed it out to some friends, we all wondered about how quickly something like this might take to come to London. Another friend pointed me toward a video that shows you how to make a Ramen bun, or there’s this recipe that shows how to make a Ramen burger as well. That’s the bun down, but I don’t know, the idea of just slapping any old burger and cheese on this burger seemed liked something that was added as an afterthought, so I decided to gourmet it up a bit and go full on Asian-style Ramen burger with a duck burger instead of your standard beef and American cheese. This included using Miso in the “bun” and making some crispy caramelized onions to go on it. I also opted for using Hoisin sauce as a condiment for the burger. I served it up with a salad with miso dressing (Sweet white miso, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil) and some oven baked chips (although if I was doing it for company, I’d probably do my own in my new deep fryer.).

I have to say it went extremely well! On some level, I miss having the bread encasing the burger to soak up the juices, so the Ramen burger gets a bit messy, but tasty. And it was my first attempt, and it did seem like a lot of work. When I mentioned to my Guinea Pig Tom (as a home chef, your partner is always your test subject for trying new things) that I wasn’t sure it was worth it, he commented that he really liked it, so maybe it was just me, or maybe I just need to find a way to kick it up a bit more on the Asian scale. The only complaint he had was that it was massive, so I definitely need to find a way to scale it down a bit.

Ingredients:

(For the bun)

  • Ramen noodles (I ended up using one package per “bun” so I used two packages in total)
  • Eggs (Again, I used about one egg per “bun”, but I didn’t use all of it at the end)
  • Sweet White Miso
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Buttered ramekins
  • Parchment paper

(For the burger)

  • Two duck breasts (skin off)
  • About 100g of streaky bacon
  • Powdered ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste

(To assemble)

  • Emmental cheese
  • Hoisin sauce
  • Gem lettuce
  • Crispy fried onions

To make the bun:

  1. Cook Ramen noodles according to instructions on packet. Once cooked, refrigerate for approx. 15 minutes to cool noodles.
  2. Whisk eggs and miso (Sorry I don’t usually measure things so mix what you think is good).
  3. Add egg mix to cooled noodles. Once mixed, portion into buttered ramekins and press down. Place parchment over top of noodles and place smaller ramekins (or something equally as heavy as seen in the video: cans or whatever) on top of parchment to compress noodles. Refrigerate for approx. 15 minutes.
  4. Heat a mix of grapeseed and sesame oils in a pan on medium to medium-high heat. After noodles have been refrigerated, slowly invert the ramekins into the pan and shake slightly to remove the noodles. Let cook for about 5-6 minutes per side in order to get crisp. Once finished save the oil to fry the burgers in.

For the burgers:

I must warn you that I have a kitchen full of lovely kitchen gadgets. If this is too much work for you, or you don’t have the gadgets, feel free to prepare any sort of burger you choose to go with it. I really thought duck would be nice so I went for it, but a regular burger would probably be good as well.

  1. Cut up the duck breasts and bacon into chunks. (Since most of the fat is under the skin, using the bacon adds a bit more fat to hold the burgers together). Using a meat grinder on the largest grind, grind the chunks of duck breast and bacon. (If you don’t have a meat grinder, I’ve been told that you can use a food processor but you might not get quite as nice of a grind. Or you can be meticulous and chop up the meat by hand. Your choice.)
  2. Add salt and pepper (to taste) and powdered ginger and mix. Form into two patties (although you could probably get away with three or four smaller ones given how massive mine were).
  3. Cook them in your favorite way to cook burgers. Mine is to seal them into vacuum pouches and cook them in a water bath at 57 C for an hour. This ensures the duck is a perfect medium rare pink in the middle. I then sear them for about a minute on each side using a medium-high heat in order to get a nice charred brown outside. I like to cook them this way, as the hour cooking time for the burger gave me enough time to prepare the buns, and by time the buns were finished so were the burgers!

For the onions:

  1. Heat a pan on medium-low heat.
  2. Thinly slice an onion (I like to cut mine in half and then slice them into half moons).
  3. Add a generous amount of olive oil (or olive oil mixed with butter) to the pan and add the onions.
  4. Slow cook them for about an hour

To assemble:

  1. Start with a bottom “bun”
  2. Add some onions and lettuce
  3. Place a burger on top and some cheese.
  4. Add the hoisin sauce
  5. Place the top “bun”

Voila! You have a ramen burger. I actually put the cheese on the top bun in order to let it melt a bit since the bun was hot. I also might recommend putting the lettuce on top of the burger as it did make the burger slide around a bit, but really the ordering is up to you and what you like. And really, if making your own burger meat is too much work, just use whatever you like. I wanted to give it a bit of an Asian flare, but beef (or chicken) with a teriyaki sauce glaze would probably be equally as tasty on a Ramen bun. And any toppings you want would be nice as well. A fried duck egg on top would probably be delicious too! The nice thing about burgers is that they are customizable according to your tastes.

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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Burger

 

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