Saturday, December 31, 2016

MacCools Public House - Salt Lake City

I made a quick visit to Salt Lake City in December to visit my mother. On the way I called my brother and invited him to lunch with us. He suggested MacCools Public House located in Foothill Village, near where my mother lives. Between our deciding, and then picking up my mother and getting there, two inches of snow had piled up on the streets and it was cold and treacherous. I was driving my California car with no snow tires and no snow-driving experience in years. 

When we arrived we were invited to a table right next to a roaring fire in a fire place. My mother got the spot within a couple of feet of it. We could look out the front window and see the snow falling outside. It was a perfect time for a warm rib-sticking meal. 

My mother ordered meat loaf and my brother what he described as a chicken pot pie (although I don't find it on the menu - perhaps it was a special). 
Meat loaf
Chicken pot pie with a large piece of bread that covered the bowl. 
I found a number of things that tempted me: red trout with quinoa and roasted root vegetables; braised lamb shank; bison short ribs; several items with lamb ribs; and what I eventually settled on  - a buffalo sheppard's pie with ground bison, venison, andouille sausage, mashed potatoes, Irish cheddar and two eggs on top. 
Buffalo sheppard's pie
Inside the sheppard's pie.
For dessert the three of us nibbled at some apple crumble with vanilla ice cream.
Apple crumble with ice cream
It was a perfect meal for a cold day and a very memorable time to be with my mother and brother, something I don't get to do enough of any more. I think I'll be visiting again with my mother. We all enjoyed it very much. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Kangaroo Salami

I've been on a quest to try the various salamis from Exotic Meat Market. Kangaroo, along with alligator, is my favorite so far. If you gave someone a piece of this and told them it was beef, you would get no reaction. It tastes very much like beef, but with a more obvious exotic origin. This would be a good one to try on unsuspecting individuals who otherwise would protest and refuse to try it, and inform them after-the-fact. 
Kangaroo salami

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Rabbit Salami

Rabbit salami from Exotic Meat Market is very mild, as rabbit is, with the characteristic salami spice. As far as exotic meats go, rabbit is pretty tame, and the rabbit salami follows suit. From a normal salami standpoint, which is usually pork or beef, I guess rabbit is pretty exotic. 
Rabbit salami

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ostrich Medallions - Sous Vide and Fried

The ostrich medallion comes from the tenderloin or fan fillet. I got these two medallions from Exotic Meat Market. Anshu Pathak, the proprietor, raises ostriches but he is still trying to increase his herd, so this particular ostrich meat came from an outside source. 
Two ostrich medallions.
Ostriches in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Ostrich cuts of meat from Note that the tenderloin and fan are toward the back and top side of the ostrich.
I've eaten ostrich egg and ostrich sausage, but never a nice cut of ostrich meat. I recently ate an emu tenderloin and was surprised how dark the meat was. This ostrich was equally dark, if not darker. Learning from my emu, I decided to both brine (1 tablespoon of sea salt per cup of water) and marinade (a large lime, a large mandarin orange and two small Meyer lemons) the meat for an hour to both moisten it up and break down any tough spots. 
In the brine/marinade.
Post brine/marinade. Note that the meat is less red, more purple or gray. 
After washing off the brine/marinade and patting it dry, I put it in a sous vide vacuum sealed packet with olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked it in a water bath at 56 degrees Centigrade for an hour and 20 minutes. 
After the sous vide, the meat has turned even more gray or brown. 
I then browned it in a hot skillet with butter on both sides and on the edges. The resultant meat was very moist, very tender and earthy. Andrew described it as tasting like a bolete mushroom (a mighty compliment from the mushroom hunter). Judy described it has having a slight liver taste. I found it a taste hard to describe. Definitely earthy, perhaps a bit gamy, strong, but not in a negative way.  I agree with Andrew that it would go very well with some king bolete mushrooms. 
The sous vide meat frying in a hot skillet with butter.
The beautifully finished ostrich is a deep red or purple. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Camel Loin - Grilled, Baked and Sous Vide

The loin of the camel is one of the most tender and fatty cuts. It is found on the backside of the camel toward the rear. 
This picture comes from the Camel Association of Pakistan. Note the loin is beneath the hump on the right side. 
This picture comes from SAMEX Australian Meat Exporters and the line is drawn to the same part of the camel. Note that the striploin cut looks like the cut I got. 
This loin was obtained from Exotic Meat Market which gets the meat from wild dromedary (one hump) camels harvested in Australia as an invasive species. I wasn't quite sure what to expect from it. I've had a camel ribeye steak that was spectacular, but also camel ribs that were as hard and chewy as anything I've ever tasted. Because I had quite a bit of meat, about 5 1/2 pounds and intended to cook it on Christmas Eve, I decided to experiment with the meat ahead of time to determine the best way to prepare it. 
This camel was photographed in the Erg Chebbi Dunes (Sahara Desert) of Morocco.
This loin is spread out on a large platter usually reserved for a turkey.
This is an end-photo of the same piece of meat turned over on the other side.
I cut the loin into slices.
As more of a lark than anything, I cut off a chunk and grilled it on our outdoor gas grill without any preparation other than a coating of vegetable oil, salt and pepper. I was absolutely blown away by how good it was. The taste was mild, but still flavorful, better than beef. It was fatty, but not overly so. The grilling gave a nice outer crust to the meat, but the inside was beautiful red, warm and tender. 
Grilled without brining or marinade. Fantastic.
While I was grilling the camel above, I also had some camel in a brine (one tablespoon of sea salt per cup of water) and marinade (a large lime and three small lemons) to add moisture and break down what I expected to be tough camel meat. I left it in the brine/marinade for an hour and when I pulled it out, washed off the brine/marinade and patted it dry, it had loosened up quite a bit. I put one section of this prepared camel loin on the gas grill and cooked it similarly to my first batch. The end product was softer and more tender than the first batch, it was less gristly and had a hint of a lime taste. It was very good, but I actually preferred the first batch and the extra bit of meat "character." From this, I determined that future batches did not need any marinade (lime and lemon), but that I would brine for an hour. 
Grilled after brining and marinade. Note, I like it rare, many would like it more cooked. 
From this same batch I cooked some loin sous vide at 56 degrees Centigrade for an hour. Then I got a frying pan very hot with melted butter and browned the outside of the loin all around. I found the sous vide version to be less moist, which surprised me and the outside was not as nice as either of the grilled versions. I really liked the charring from the outdoor grill. So the sous vide was out for future versions.
A section of loin after sous vide for an hour.
Browning the sous vide piece in a hot pan with butter.
The sous vide and fried meat. Note how the frying has browned the meat around the edges. 
Also from this batch I baked a small piece in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 27 minutes. It was good and moist, but not as moist as my grilled versions, and it was a little more gristly (probably more a result of the portion of the cut than the method of cooking). Good, but not as good. 
Small piece baked in the oven.
The inside of the baked piece. Note how evenly it has cooked, likely because it was such a small piece. It is actually more uniformly cooked inside than the sous vide because of the extra frying of the sous vide loin. 
For Christmas Eve (the next day) I brined the meat for an hour and then cooked it on the outdoor grill. My son, Andrew, was a little leery about eating the wild meat as rare as I like it, so I cooked some longer to a more medium or medium rare. Still very good. 
The uncooked steaks for Christmas Eve.
Some of the pieces cooked more medium/medium rare.
Camel loin is right up there for me with any of the great meats I've eaten (bison, prime beef and wagyu beef). I like the fact that it is from a wild animal and has not been fed an improper diet (like corn fed beef) or filled with chemicals. I like the slightly stronger taste (like bison). This is seriously good meat that is worthy of the finest occasion and certainly more fun as a table conversation. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Hawks Wing and King Bolete Mushrooms - Soup and Stir Fry

One of the traditions I've really enjoyed over the years is mushroom hunting with my family. This is entirely due to Andrew's obsession with all-things mushroom. For many years I had an annual trip to Colorado to hike fourteeners. Sam and Andrew usually came along. Andrew gradually did less hiking and more mushroom hunting. At first, Andrew just looked for mushrooms, but never tried them. As time went on and as his confidence grew, he started to gather mushrooms and eat them. 

The first year this happened was when Andrew, Judy and I rented a small cabin in Buena Vista. We collected quite a few hawks wing and king bolete mushrooms.
Hawks wing mushrooms found in the vicinity of Mt. Yale outside Buena Vista. They are beautiful and great eating. 
An underside view of the hawks wing.
A king bolete mushroom found in the vicinity of Quandary Peak. 
A king bolete mushroom near Mt. Yale, still in the ground.
Another king bolete near Mt. Yale. I think this one was too water-logged to use. 
Andrew worked in a small kitchen and cut and separated and rinsed and sauteed and boiled and he ultimately made the best mushroom soup I've ever tasted. 
King boletes being prepared to be cut up.
Sliced king boletes. 
Hawks wings sliced and ready to slice.
A mixture of mushrooms in a pot for soup.
This was the best mushroom soup I've had and suspect I will ever have. Note the light king boletes and the darker hawks wings, then carrots and I believe spinach. Amazing, amazing soup. Note how thick the broth is. If memory serves me correctly, this broth was the result of boiling many, many mushrooms. 
He also stir-fried some mushrooms. I don't ever expect to have a mushroom meal this good again. I think it was about as mushroomy as a soup and a stir-fry can get.

A later year we rented a larger cabin outside of Buena Vista and Rachael, Sam and the grandgirls joined us. Our haul of mushrooms was not quite as good, but Andrew still made some wonderful soup and stir-fry.
Mushroom soup the second year. It was good, but not as magical as the soup the year before. Note that the broth is not as dark or as thick. 
Sauteed hawks wing mushrooms.
Sauteed king boletes.
There was something about collecting the mushrooms ourselves and then preparing and eating them that was magical. These will be fond memories. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Horseback Riding and Dairy Keen - Heber Valley

I had an opportunity to fly to Utah and to spend part of a day with my grandgirls and wanted to do something memorable. So I arranged for some horseback riding with Rocky Mountain Outfitters located at the Soldier Hollow Stables near Midway. We learned how to ride a horse and then spent about 45 minutes actually riding. 
Bug, Squirrel and Papa
The sun is kind of engulfing Squirrel, but otherwise a nice picture. 
Getting ready to ride.
The girls were up at the front with our guide and I was the caboose.
Some beautiful scenery.

Afterwards we drove to Dairy Keen - Home of the Train in Heber where we had lunch and rode on the outside toy train and watched a small train circle a track above our heads inside. The food is just okay, but they've got the kid thing wired - free helium balloons and trains everywhere. 
A small train with lunch tables sits out front. 
The train is more fun than the food.
Fish sandwich
Onion rings
Cute grandgirls
I don't think I would go back on my own, but its a no-brainer with the grandgirls. Dairy Keen was busy, very busy.