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Thursday, September 26, 2013

An Unexpected Harvest Festival

I feel compelled to mark the passage of time, the change of the season. I blame my Catholic upbringing: the colored robes that changed through the year, the holidays and saint's days, the counted days during Lent and Advent. They instilled me with a need to nod to the present with old fashioned, if not somewhat ancient, feeling ritual.

So when I woke up on Sunday and remember it was the fall equinox, I scrambled to find a way to acknowledge the day. "We have to make an Autumnal Feast," I told Gus. And because he has known me long enough to know when I'm not joking (even when I'm talking like a hobbit), he agreed.

So while the day faded a bit earlier than the day before, and the rain clouds filed in to oversee the city again, we hid inside our little cave of an apartment and made this meal.

Autumn Equinox Menu
roasted leg of lamb with seasonal vegetables
sweet potato mash
good brie, sliced and eaten straight
baked apples with pecans & maple syrup

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Smoked Pulled Beef in Chimichurri

I've never been to Argentina, but I kinda like the chimichurri (sorry, Hoyt). I'm not sure I'm making it right or using it appropriately (more inappropriate appropriation [sorry, Argentina]). I don't know if chimichurri is traditionally a sauce that meat is cooked in -I think it's eaten more like a fresh relish- nor do I think it usually has so much cilantro in it. But what I've done here tastes pretty good to me.

The beef

2 lbs chuck roast (or similar inexpensive fatty cut)
black pepper
green apple wood limbs


2 bunches cilantro
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
6 cloves garlic
3 tbs fresh lime juice (one or two limes)
1 sweet onion (plus three or four slices)
¼ cup olive oil
black pepper

We're grilling again. So light your barbecue. Get your roast out and salt and pepper both sides. While you wait for the coals to ash over, it's time to start your chimichurri. Now there are two ways to go about this: the easy way (food processor or blender) and the fun way (if your idea of fun is mincing herbs till your knife hand blisters). Roughly chop your herbs, garlic and onion (reserving the slices for later) and throw them in  a food processor or blender. Squeeze in the lime juice and pour in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Now blast it all to smithereens.

When the coals are good and hot, spread them out in the bottom of your grill, throw some apple wood on top and put the actual grill in place. Throw your roast on there and put the lid on. Adjust the vents to just about closed. Give it five to ten minutes and then pop the lid, turn it over, open the vents a little, drop the lid back on and give it another ten to twenty minutes.

While you're smoking the meat you can work on making a side dish like Pineapple Slaw or French Fries, or fix yourself a stiff Tamarind Margarita.

When the meat is ready it should be nicely smoked and a little charred on both sides. Now comes the crock pot. Lay the slices of onion down in the bottom. Put your smoked beef on the onions and then pour in chimichurri to cover the whole mess. Lid it and let it cook on medium high or high setting for four hours or until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily.

That's it! This stuff is delicious as a taco or burrito filling or just served up with rice and beans.