You can always find fresh meat in the vending machines, but we do also sell frozen meat for your convenience. Some customers like to stock up locally, others travel from farther away with coolers to stuff with frozen meat. Whatever works.
Most people assume the best way to cook something that has been frozen is to defrost it first. Not so fast!
This very pork belly was grilled by Josh Applestone and he didn’t even thaw it first. “I like starting from frozen a lot because it gives me more time to make everything,” he explains. And it was really frozen. Like ugly frozen. We won’t sell you that; only our staff has full access to the most glamorous cuts. “I should have taken a photo of it when I started; it was a freezer burned curled up U shaped piece,” he says.
Most importantly, the flavor was exactly as it should be.
Here’s how Josh Applestone cooks frozen meat:
- Heat up a grill (gas) to smoking.
- Put the frozen meat on one side and shut the grill off on that side leaving the rest at 1/2 way.
- Leave on for around 20-30 minutes and flip it. Leave it on again for the same amount of time to really defrost it and start the marking. (“When I flip it, I put it on the hot side where flame is and shut off and turn on opposite side to make sure it gets a good marking without burning it,” he explains.)
- Put it in the center of grill on the top rack and leave the center flame on as low as it will go with the opposite ends at 3/4 on.
- Paint the belly with sauce every 5-ten minutes for the next 45 minutes. “I used whatever sauce I had the least amount of in the fridge.”
- Let sit for 15 minutes, then slice.
“I ate it with my fingers,” says Josh.
Cross cut short ribs have grown in popularity in recent years, with good reason. They’re super flavorful, plus fun to chew on. They’re basically beef short ribs cut differently. You cut horizontally across the rib plate so that you get long, thin pieces of meat studded with many ribs. They’re frequently called Korean short ribs (kalbi) or flanken. Despite how easy they are to cook, not everyone knows how. Here’s one way.
Keep in mind that in general, we’re not big on marinating. We don’t want to lose the true flavor of the meat. Flanken happens to take well to marinating. You can leave the ribs in a marinade for up to 12 hours without losing flanken’s big, beefy taste. Also this marinade is beyond good. You may find yourself using it on other cuts, too, not just cross cut short ribs.
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch-long) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tbsp. pure maple surup
2 tbsp. toasted Asian sesame oil
1 tbsp. Asian chili sauce, such as Thai Sriracha or Korean gochujang
3 pounds flanken aka cross cut short ribs, cut 1 inch thick, 2 to 3 ribs across
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 head butter lettuce (optional)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
- Put the garlic to taste, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, canola oil, maple syrup, sesame oil, and chili sauce in a bowl and mix well. Pour the marinade into a thick, sealable bag, place the flanken in the bag, and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator.
- Heat a grill to high. Oil the grill grates. Remove the meat from the marinade and put it on the grill; reserve the marinade. Grill the meat until done, about 3 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn the ribs; the high sugar content of the marinade makes them char easily. Transfer the ribs to a platter and set aside.
- Pour the reserved marinade into a saucepan set over high heat. Bring it to a boil and cook until it becomes thick and syrupy.
- To serve, drizzle the flanken with the reduced marinade and sprinkle with the cilantro, sesame seeds, and salt.
- To eat, pull the meat off the bones, wrap it in lettuce leaves if using, and sprinkle with scallions.
You read that right: it takes less than 10 minutes to grill. This is finger food at its finest. You might want extra napkins.
We eat lunch together most days midday. Staff meal is a pretty typical thing in the food world — restaurants are known for it, but food business staff likes to break bread, too. Usually people bring their own food. But the best lunches are when someone has taken some product home, cooked, and brought it back for us all to share. Like Amelia’s mom’s staff meal pernil.
Recently Amelia Leon — she’s our administrative assistant — gave us all a real treat. She brought her parents a pork shoulder (AKA pork butt, which sounds like it shouldn’t be the shoulder but it is). Her mom made pernil — enough for their family for dinner, and leftovers for all of us for staff meal the following day. Thank you, Amelia’s mom! Here’s how she did it:
Amelia’s Mom’s Pernil
“I’m not Puerto Rican, but my husband is,” she says. “Over the years I’ve eaten pernil many, many times. I’ve been given direction by my father-in-law and pointers by other family members, but this recipe is based on experience and research. I’m a little reluctant to share this because I am not by any means an expert. But here goes:
Pork shoulder the “picnic”cut, skin-on, bone-in, whatever size is available, usually 6 to 8 lbs.
Garlic, 2 heads (or more if heads are small)
Kosher salt, 1 to 2 tsp.
Olive oil 1 to 2 tbsp.
Cumin 1/2 to 1 tsp.
Adobo for the cuero (skin), optional
1. The hardest work of this dish is cutting the cuero (skin) and attached fat layer away from the the meat so its a flap, attached by only a small amount (1/2 to 1″) on one side.
2. Clean the garlic. Cut approximately 1/3 of the cloves into thin slivers.
3. Mash the remainder of the garlic till it’s a juicy paste.If you have a pilon (mortar and pestle), the rough kind, that’s the best. If you don’t have a pilon, do your best with a chopping knife to smash the garlic. Combine the salt. I like to add cumin, about a tsp. Oregano is good, too. Add the olive oil.
4. Using a sharp knife, a steak knife works well, make slits into the meat all over to receive the garlic slivers—both sides.
5. Slather and massage the garlic-salt-cumin paste into the meat all over.
6. Salt the cuero, both sides. Sprinkle Adobo seasoning on the the top (optional).
7. Wrap the pernil in plastic wrap, and allow it to marinate, in the fridge, for at least a day. Lately I’ve been giving it 3 days. We have family who marinate pernil for a week.
- Put pernil in oven in a deep roasting dish covered with foil at 300 degrees for 3 hours. (There will be a lot of grease).
- Remove foil and roast for another 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is tender and shreds easily, though the cuero may be still be soft. (If pernil is larger, cooking time my be longer.)
- Remove the cuero. Typically the fat attached to the skin is still substantial. Scrape off the excess fat and cut the skin in 2 to 3 inch pieces, then roast (on a cookie sheet) a bit longer to render excess fat and crisp.
(There are more precise recipes on the web. I recommend elboricua.com.)
Shred the meat and serve with wedges of lime and the crispy skin. Arroz con gandules, rice with pigeon peas, is a festive and common side dish with pernil. Goya has a recipe on their canned gandules that is quite good.
We enjoyed our staff meal pernil so much that we didn’t get a single picture of it! Amelia says she doesn’t have one from home, either; it always goes too fast.
Grilling may be fun, but it’s perhaps the quickest way to ruin a steak. The best way to cook a perfect steak is to pan-sear it and finish it in the oven. It’s a great and super easy method. We’re partial to a dry-aged top sirloin that’s at least 1 1/2 inches thick, but you could cook a perfect steak with pretty much any cut. Thinner steaks don’t need to be transferred to the oven.
Here’s how to cook the perfect steak:
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Bring the steak to room temperature, then salt each side of the steak and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking.
- Heat an ovenproof pan (French steel or cast iron is preferred) over high heat until it starts to smoke. Oil is not necessary, but add a tablespoon of organic canola oil if you like.
- Sear the steak in the hot pan for 2 minutes per side. Never use a fork to turn the steak; use tongs or even your fingers.
- Put some fat on top of your steak–could be a splash of olive oil, a pat of butter, a dollop of bone marrow, or a mixture of whatever you prefer.
- Transfer the pan to the oven.
- Cook for 4 to 8 minutes to desired doneness (it depends on the steak, so go by internal temperature, not time–we recommend 120 degrees F for a perfect medium-rare).
- Take the pan out of the oven, place the steak on a cutting board, and let it rest for 5 minutes.
- Slice and serve.
How did you make out?