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Posts from February 2010

Triple Pepper Chicken: Sichuan-style


There's a Sichuan dish called "Triple Pepper Chicken", at least at some restaurants, which consists of little nuggets of somewhat crispy chicken, hot dried chilis, hot fresh chilis, and Sichuan peppercorn (3 peppers*, see?).  I've been eating the hell out of this dish for some years, first at Grand Sichuan in NYC and more recently at New Jersey's unrelated yet similarly named Chengdu 1 (Cedar Grove) and Chengdu 23 (Wayne).  

If you've ever had this dish, you know it's spicy and addictive.  If you've never had it, you're a damned fool, and need to do yourself a favor and go to one of these restaurants and order it. Order it in double, so you have leftovers for the next day.

Although I eat Sichuan at least once a month, I have no experience in Sichuan cooking and know nothing about it, although I do have a wonderful Sichuan cookbook called Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking.  I should probably thumb through it some day.  What I do know is that oil often plays a part in the sauces (cleverly disguising itself as the sauce), and Sichuan peppercorns are used.  For some reason I figured I could duplicate this dish at home.  At the very least, the main components are pretty clear (chicken, 3 peppers, oil), and maybe just throwing them together would produce a close approximation, I thought.  As it turns out, I was somewhat right.

So with ignorance as my navigator, off I went...

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Burgers: Dry-aged


Also check out my new, less expensive approach to dry-aged burgers here (click me).

The inspiration...

One of our recent semi-regular meals at Blue Smoke led to meeting a friend at Landmarc in the Time Warner building, where yet another burger was ordered, and critiqued.  Having just had the Blue Smoke burger a few hours prior, I wasn't all that hungry, but forced down half a burger.  I do this, for you.  While I didn't think the burger was off-the-charts fantastic, I did detect some minerally flavors, flavors that I'd associate with dry-aged beef.  This is not to say that I think Landmarc is using dry-aged beef for their burgers, but, it did plant the idea in my head that I should seek out someone who does...

I (and pretty much everyone) know that Peter Luger serves an awesome burger a lunch, made from scraps of their dry-aged beef.  It was a burger without peers for a very long time.  Eventually came Minetta Tavern (well, it was around for a very long time too, but only recently reborn, and now known for its burgers) with their burgers  made the LaFrieda "Black Label" beef, which has that dry-aged beef that I'm on about.  Wanting nothing to do with trying to get into Minetta Tavern (even the t:e organization doesn't have that kind of pull), I figured I'd give it a whirl at home.  For a second time (my first attempt some years ago didn't work out too good).

The meat...

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Super Bowl: Margaritas

MargaritaProper margarita

It's 6 hours until kick-off.  And when I say kick-off I mean the time when the shaker meets the ice.

This year's Super Bowl theme at the t:e organization's home base is "Mexican," having recently returned from a trip to the beautiful Riviera Maya where I fell in love again for all things tequila, including Anejo and Reposado, which I had yet to warm up to.  

But, we're talking about margaritas here (not very Mexican, actually), and for that particular cocktail, I'm partial to un-aged tequila. Ask me in two years and I'll surely be going on about how a Reposado is much better in a margarita.  I've been known to change my mind on these issues.

Let's make something clear right up front, and set the tone here:  a margarita should contain no more than 4 or 5 ingredients.  It should also not be neon green in color.  And it most certainly shouldn't taste like candy.  If you see anything like this stuff pictured below, run the other way.

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