Friday, February 1, 2013

Beef jerky

This project started when Dave brought a biltong-making box from South Africa.  To make either biltong or regular beef jerky, you cut raw beef into strips or pieces, and soak them in vinegar and soy sauce for about 8 hours or overnight.  Then the meat is hung to dry - biltong gets special biltong spices, while beef jerky is usually plain.

Due to my mistake, we made our first biltong batch out of #2 meat (not shown).  All dried meat should be made with the leanest stuff you can find, but #2 is the opposite of lean, which means our biltong came out with great flavor, but super hard texture.  I've had biltong before, and I know it's hard, but not that hard.

These pictures are from the next attempt - beef jerky.  This time we used #6, or false fillet - the cut that resembles tenderloin because it's lean and tender, but it's taken from the shoulder, and is cheaper.  Using the setup pictured above, I dried the beef in an oven.  Diehard biltong guys (I say guys because I've never met a female particularly passionate about biltong) would never do this, but jerky is a more laid back affair.  I saw a recipe for 150-160 F for 10-14 hours, so I set my oven to 70 C, and put it on convection.  Maybe the convection was a mistake, because when I checked on them it was like almost sizzling, which is much hotter than it should be.  I turned it down to the 50-60 range and turned off convection.  Still, I think it was ready in like 4-6 hours.

Weighing the stash.  This is good stuff.

Red fruit-veggie smoothie?

So, we had this leftover salad with beets, pine nuts, and arugula...

...and I thought, "why not put it in this cup,"

"and add some of this sweet apple pear cactus juice"

"and blend it all into a red fruit veggie smoothie?"

The idea was to recreate something like Naked juice, which I really like.

Here goes...

What is that taste? 

Can't quite place it...

Uch, raw shallots.  Forgot those were in the salad, too.

Sorry, red buddy, there's no hope for you.  You're getting dumped in the trash.


Every now and then we tinker with ice cream recipes, which generally call for egg yolks.  But what do you do with the whites?  Obviously you whip them up and make meringues, because the other options - chocolate mousse and sponge cake - require the yolks and you only have the whites.

All you really need to add is sugar (a cup, give or take whatever you feel like), though cream of tarter helps stabilize the foam and vanilla adds flavor.  Plastic is the perfect pastry bag material for meringue, because the former is hydrophobic while the latter hydrophilic... anyway, just snip off a corner of a ziplock bag and let your creativity do the rest.

Meringue can be baked in two ways: low and slow or hot and fast.  Low and slow gives you a nice crunchy meringue, maybe just a little chewy in the center, if you like that.  Hot and fast gives you a toasty outside, and fluffly, still-kind-of-raw insides.  We kind of did something halfway between the two, ending up with sticky, chewy meringues.  Still delicious.