Trekking in Nepal involved 25 grueling vegan days of rice, lentils, mustard greens, noodles, barley stew, and boiled potatoes (and one glorious night of smoky yak steak and real mashed potatoes from the best darned Sherpani innkeeper in all of Sagarmatha National Park). When my partner and I returned to Kathmandu, we did what Americans do: we ate thin, well-done buff-burgers at the Thamel branch of Neroli’s famous Indian burger and ice cream chain. Unfortunately, the water buffalo must have been local, made from the hunks of carcasses sitting out on the street at the nearby butcher’s, covered with flies. We both caught vile cases of salmonella. In the 20 years since then, I’ve eaten maybe ten burgers.

On October 4, the New York Times carried an exhaustive report on a virulent strain of E. coli in American ground beef. (The U-T reprinted a short extract). This type of bacteria comes from cow poop (not flies): most cattle are fattened up standing cheek-by-cud in crowded feedlots, up to their knees in manure. An FDA honcho quoted in the story was doubtful that the usual health procedures used at home (e.g., cooking the meat well-done and washing the chopping board) were sufficient — this strain of E. coli is so evil, it infects even aprons and towels in the same kitchen.

The villain — nearly unavoidable in supermarket ground beef — is mass-processed meat coming from multiple sources, including low-on-the-cow “spare parts” that are most vulnerable to contamination from manure. The parts are all ground together at a mass slaughterhouse/meat processor.

Scarier yet, there’s no way consumers can know how thoroughly the mass processors clean their grinders of clinging, germy meat. The FDA is not standing by to inspect the equipment at every slaughterhouse and processor; in fact, as the Times revealed, they are as protective of the meat industry as they are of the public. When my friend Bruce Aidells was starting up as a sausage-maker, he used a fine, ethical local German sausage processor to mix his sausage meats — but for uncured (raw meat) sausages like his chicken-apple breakfast links, he had a smaller, separate grinder on the premises reserved for this use alone.

How To Be Safe(r)

If you regularly eat “burger joint” burgers — well, now you know the risk, even if you choose well done. But if you love burgers, you lower the risks by choosing single-sourced, branded, “free-range,” “natural,” or “grass-fed” ground beef, and/or going to burger joints that grind their own from scratch. At home, you can buy ground meat that’s inspected for E. coli after grinding, or grind the beef yourself from a single hunk of solid meat. (The specific victim the story cited had eaten frozen patties with the classy-sounding “Angus Burgers” label, but Angus is merely a popular breed, not a specific ranch.)

For cooking at home, Costco is the only mass-market retailer that actually inspects and tests its meat for E. coli after grinding. Their ground beef is most likely to be worth a gamble for homemade burgers.

In restaurants that don’t grind their own, look for a brand name or for guarantees of organic, “natural,” free-range, or grass-raised beef. For instance, local Brandt Beef in Imperial County does herd together their free-range cattle to be finished off on grain, but their feedlot (at least, per their online videos) still leaves room enough for the animals to prance around (so, less filth on the ankles). Better yet, they use a small meat processor in L.A. — the only other client is Matt Rimel’s pristine grass-fed Palomar Mountain Beef.

Whether “free-range, “grass-fed,” or “Kobe,” branded high-class meats can’t risk contaminating their names with grinder remnants of meat contaminated by mass-produced beef. Hence, I’ve trusted Snake River Kobe and ground bison burgers to make Ethiopian raw-beef “tartare,” kitfo. Never any ill effects.

DIY Ground Meat

Regular readers may have noticed that I regularly eat raw beef in restaurants as carpaccio, steak tartare, and kitfo. The secret is that none of these is made from ground beef; all are made from a single piece of steak, sliced or chopped just before serving. A well-cleaned, refrigerated slab of muscle (that hasn’t been sitting out on the hot streets of Kathmandu) is fairly unlikely to harbor serious bacterial contamination.

My friend Teresa, a former restaurateur and cooking teacher from Haiti, taught me an invaluable lesson in cleaning animal proteins, whatever you mean to do with them. (This technique is common all over the Caribbean and throughout West Africa — a brilliant remnant of prerefrigeration eras. If only they’d used it in Nepal!) Cut a lemon or large lime in half (or two, for a larger piece). Lay the meat (or poultry or fish) on a cutting board and, using heavy pressure, rub half the cut citrus all over it, scrubbing hard. Flip and repeat, using the other half of the citrus. Then rinse the meat under very hot tap water until the surface turns gray. (For fish, use cool water.) This procedure removes all traces of the surface moisture that’s liable to harbor contaminants.

For burgers, start with a cheap steak (e.g., round, chuck, top sirloin) and trim off silverskin around the edge and excess fat. (Save some fat to add back in; burgers need about 20 percent fat.) After cleaning the meat as above, cut it into manageable chunks. Grind (with some fat) in a meat grinder or run in a food processor until minced. If food-processed, spread meat on a clean cutting board. Quickly, with fingers or tweezers, pull out and discard all the silvery pieces of gristle you can find. (If using an extra-lean cut, you can melt a little butter and mix it into the meat…or, you can plant a pat of butter in the center of your patty.) Season meat as desired. If not using immediately, refrigerate until ready to use.

With these precautions, your risks from a rare or medium-rare burger are minimized (but don’t sue me — this is no guarantee). As for supermarket ground beef, I still buy it from time to time to use for long-cooked dishes like Latin American picadillos and stews. Never for burgers — not since Nepal. And when I do use supermarket ground beef from now on, afterward I will sterilize my cutting board with bleach.

Chef Celebration Dinners

The annual Chef Celebration fundraising dinner series is back for its 14th year, with extraordinary dinners hosted by Pamplemousse, 1540 Kitchen, Cowboy Star, Cucina Urbana, and Terra Restaurant. The way these work is: The chef at the host restaurant picks a group of colleagues from other restaurants, and together these chefs plan a dinner with each chef in the group responsible for a single course. Are chefs a little competitive? Would you guess? The result: fabulous food, as each chef does his very best. (I’ve eaten a number of these dinners. Believe me.) The chefs donate their time, and many of the ingredients are donated by local farms and food vendors.

The cause is a scholarship fund that sends local working chefs from the lower-to-middle kitchen ranks to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Napa for hands-on courses from America’s top chefs. Many of your favorite local “top toques” benefited from these scholarships back when they were line chefs or sous chefs.

The dinner series takes place every Tuesday in October. Each dinner requires a $65 donation per person (plus beverages and tips), with $35 tax-deductible going toward the nonprofit scholarship fund. (The other $30 goes to such necessary overhead as kitchen staff, dishwashing, laundry, etc.) For menu information and to make reservations, please contact host restaurants directly by phone or email. For complete details visit chefcelebration.org. Unfortunately, word about these dinners leaked out late this year, so you’ve already missed the first couple of dinners. What’s left is still awesome:

Cowboy Star Restaurant and Butcher Shop

640 Tenth Avenue, East Village

Tuesday, October 13
Victor Jimenez: Cowboy Star
Bernard Guillas: Marine Room
Brian Malarkey: Oceanaire
Christian Graves: Jsix
David McIntyre: Crescent Heights

Cucina Urbana

505 Laurel Street, Bankers Hill

Tuesday, October 20
Joe Magnanelli and Ben Rollin: Cucina Urbana
Colin MacLaggan: Avenue 5
Nathan Coulon: Quarter Kitchen
Hanis Cavin: Kensington Grill

Kitchen 1540

1540 Camino del Mar, Del Mar

Tuesday, October 27
Paul McCabe: Kitchen 1540
Matt Gordon: Urban Solace
Jeff Jackson: The Lodge at Torrey Pines
Christopher Kurz: Grant Grill
Jim Phillips: Barona Casino

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Chef's competitive??????? There's an entire network based on that competitiveness. As for me, some of the best spectator stuff outside of Big 12 basketball.

This piece on ground beef safety was written in a tearing hurry and heroically rushed into print by the Reader management to save our readers from suffering what the New York Times’ “case” did from the mutant, virulent strain of E-coli – coma followed by paralysis. Sunday night is no time to play investigative reporter, and I had to write at short length, so I’m sure many questions remain. Ask, and I’ll answer as best as I can. (Remember, I’m no scientist – just a Jewish Mama here.)

Fast food burgers? Food snob that I am, I didn’t even think about them. Doubtless, in days to come, we’ll see full page ads from all the giant sawdust-patty companies touting their healthful practices. Read critically. Meanwhile, the only fast food burger company that grinds its own from all muscle-meat from high on the cow (front shoulder chuck) is In-N-Out Burger, to my mind the best gamble for safety (and flavor).

Local burger joints? Here, YOU get to play investigative reporter: You might give ‘em a call before you eat to find out where their meat comes from. Odds are that restaurant suppliers are more safety-conscious than supermarket purveyors – one paralyzed person is a helpless midget in a lawsuit against, say, Cargill Meats (the villain of the NYT story, which hasn’t even apologized!), whereas numerous restaurants ruined by sick patrons have more clout and money for a class-action lawsuit. The classiest So-Cal meat wholesalers are Hamilton Meats and Newport Meats -- plus Chicago Steaks in Illinois. I don’t know if they test already-ground beef for E-Coli (as Cosco does), but generally I’d tend to trust those companies more than some anonymous mass purveyor.

For retail ground beef, if you’re lucky enough to have a nearby market with live butchers (e.g., Iowa Meats, Diestel Meats) who grind meat on the premises – especially if they grind it fresh to order -- well have yourself a time! (Rare, even!) Trader Joe’s sometimes carries Niman ground beef, which I’d also almost trust with my life. Also look for local Hallal butcher shops (I’ve spotted one in passing in North Park, for instance). They will definitely NOT be selling junk-meat.

And a bit more on the magical lemon-scrub treatment for cleaning meat: Since many of my meals are at restaurants or using up doggie-bags, often the little meat I buy is at or past expiration-date by the time I get around to cooking it, and has started to smell a bit funky from the beads of moisture on the surface. After the vigorous lemon-rub, it typically smells fresh again. (If not, well, bye-bye.) The technique is something of an instant, secular “Kosher” or “Hallal” treatment in terms of cleanliness – all surface blood removed. (By the way, my Trinidadian friend Rosie, my Port of Spain “landlady” and cooking teacher whenever I go there, isn’t Islamic but shops at a Hallal butcher, and then does the same lemon rub on meats that my Haitian friend Teresa did in Oakland. Tropical wisdom!)

Dear Jewish Mama, should any unusual precautions be taken with fish? :)

This will be taken as an irony by many who enjoy bashing Mexico, but here, whether at the butcher or at your local chain grocer, all ground beef is freshly made, many times over the course of the day.

The E-coli scare is such a non-story. The lack of journalistic intelligence nowdays never ceases to amaze me. That has nothin' to do with Naomi Wise either. I'm not bashing her in the least bit.

You just need to return to that glorious night of "Yak Steaks." You will have a hard time finding yak burger processed in the giant mills and you get the health benefits as well.


Yak guys first: I checked your website and see you actualy are offering yak meat. While I prefer the slightly more delicate texture of water buffalo (assuming it hasn't been left outside unrefrigerated), I look forward to finding your critters at local restaurants -- where I am sure they will marinate them for teriYAKi and YAKitori.

S. Daniels, good pen pal -- As you know, fish is not "mystery meat" like ground beef. Best, of course, is from Asian markets with live tanks and live butchers (not just Rancho 99, but the two huge ones in College/Rolando, e.g., at 54th and University, and a block north on El Cajon. But stuck with a supermarket:

If buying whole fish, look deep into its eyes. Do they glisten and flirt with you? That's a good fish. But if they look at you with the glazed, blase espressions of junkies just after a fix, don't buy them. For fillets and steaks do what a good Jewish Mama does -- give 'em a good poke in the muscle meat of the side. It should bounce right back. If it stays dented, that's old fish not even fit for feral felines.

No way I can tell whether the NYT is overstating this story, Pete. It's the paper of record. In follow-up stories I found I wasn't quite spot-on in which agency inspects meat -- it's the USDA (Agriculture) and alas, the part of its job it takes most seriously is to suppress any hints that US beef might be bad for people, thereby cutting into our huge export trade in industrial meats. I'm really teed off at Obama for appointing some slug of a Midwestern corn-state senator to head this despereately important department. The proper man for the job would have been Jim Hightower, former Texas Agricultural Commissioner (under Gov. Ann Richards, D.), a militant organic/sustainable promoter and honest man: "The only thing in the middle of the road is dead armadillos and a dotted white line."

Also, forgot to mention in previous post Matt Rimel's butcher shop in La Jolla -- another great source for clean meat.

"If buying whole fish, look deep into its eyes. Do they glisten and flirt with you? That's a good fish. But if they look at you with the glazed, blase espressions of junkies just after a fix, don't buy them."

Also excellent dating advice!

Anytime Naomi wants to submit her best fish recipe...:)

"The only thing in the middle of the road is dead armadillos and a dotted white line."

Armadillo's Rules for crossing the road safely Stop & look both ways Stick nose to the road to feel for rumbling of cars. Stop & look both ways Get ready to run... Stop & look both ways Run like hell! If you meet a truck halfway across, roll up like a ball & it won't notice you.. he might treat you like a soccer ball, but he won't notice you. If all else fails.. JUMP!! (I know we really did good holes, but have you ever tried to dig thru asphalt??) If you don't make it the first time, (and live) Try again.

After which comes: ARMADILLO IN MUSTARD SAUCE 1 1/4 cups dry white wine, 1/2 cup oil, 2 garlic cloves, crushed (optional), 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 tsp. thyme, 1/2 tsp. rosemary, 1 med. onion, sliced thin, 1 1/4 cups light cream, 1 tbsp. brown mustard (e.g. Gulden's) or Poupon Dijon, 1 tbsp. cornstarch, 1 armadillo, cleaned and cut into serving pieces and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients of marinade and add armadillo. Marinate about 8 hrs., turning meat occasionally. Remove armadillo and reserve marinade. Melt butter in deep skillet and brown armadillo pieces. Pour in marinade and bring to a boil. Stir in seasoning, cover and simmer until tender (about 1 - 1 1/4 hours.) Remove skillet from the fire and place armadillo pieces on a warmed platter. Mix mustard and cornstarch, then mix in cream. Return skillet to low heat and stir in this mixture a little at a time. Stir sauce until hot, but not boiling, and thickened. Pour sauce over armadillo. Serve with steamed rice. (you can sub a good anjejo tequila for the wine if so desired)

"añejo" not anjejo. sorry not enough tequila last night I guess.

LMAO! I bought 3 30 packs last night. Don't ask me why. I'm glad I did. Cleveland beat Buffalo and Cleveland beat Baltimore. I woke up half an hour ago and I'm STILL drunk. I need a beer. Armidillo sounds good right about now. ;-D

Since Naomi has not jumped in with a fish recipe:

1.5 lb Salmon Fillet w/ skin on. Soy Sauce Olive oil Dry dill Fresh dill

  • Place the salmon fillet into a shallow dish. (one that the meat will fit into and lay flat)
  • Sprinkle on a reasonable coat of dry dill.
  • Clean the thicker stems out of enough fresh dill to make a nice bed over the entire fillet.
  • Pour equal amounts of olive oil and soy sauce over the top of the fillet to fill the dish about 1/3 up the side of the fillet.
  • Use a tablespoon to kind of mash some of the soy-oil into the fresh dill.

Let the salmon sit and marinade for about 1/2 an hour, spooning the sauce over the meat every once in a while.

Heat the BBQ as hot as it will go. Carefully place the fillet into the center of the grill. Close the lid. Check in about 5 minutes. You will know that the fish is done when the edges are all crispy.

  • Don't flip it!

The skin will be black and charred, don't eat it.

  • Joe

Delicious, tiki. Very simple. I tend to like citrus flavors with my fish, and might add a bit of lemon--especially with that dill.

SD - try it first before you give it a squirt. The soy sauce really drives the flavor on this one...

Let me know if you try it, and how you liked it!

  • Joe

Well, Joe, the recipes you've posted (even though most are land meats, and I can't eat them) prove that you are a worthy cook--I will try your recipe as is out of respect due ;)

I'll have to write down the recipe for the roasted chicken in red wine that I made last night.

Or because chickens can't fly, you won't eat those either?

"The only thing in the middle of the road is dead armadillos and a dotted white line."

(Q) What's the difference between a Southern zoo and a Northern zoo? (A) A Southern zoo has a description of the animal on the front of the cage, along with a recipe.

I used to have this great (by which I mean I couldn't ruin it) chicken recipe that called for rice, green chilies, wine, think it was James Beard?, but lost it many years back. :(

u fun loving bloggers have literally made my Monday

and Cuddlefish STOP that glistening vand flirting with the diners..


and pass the Armadillo burgers please.....gawd i love u guys!!!!

Nan is right... we will probably eat you.

Anyone know a good recipe for Shrimp de John? I haven't had that in years.

Pete, you mean Shrimp de Jonghe?

It's easy.

1 1/2 lbs. shelled and deveined shrimp, medium-large bag or box of bread crumbs 3 cloves or 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic 1/2 small onion, chopped 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley, or even less of cilantro 1 stick butter, divided uses 2 tablespoons of olive oil white wine or sherry

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil some water, add salt. Blanch the shrimp in the boiling water for about two minutes, and pat dry. Saute onion and garlic in oil and 1/2 stick of butter and about two tablespoons of wine until clear, then add parsley and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. In a large flat liberaly-buttered (the other 1/2 stick) casserole dish, lay shrimp flat in one layer. Pour onion/garlic/oil/butter/wine/parsley over shrimp. Sprinkle bread crumbs over shrimp until covered. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bread crumbs are browned.

Yeah! That's what I meant....lol. Thanks. I know what I'm havin' for dinner tomorrow. :-D

Never mind eating her, poor CuddleFish--I'm glad we didn't name you Betta after all...


re: #20: "Or because chickens can't fly, you won't eat those either?"

By that logic, Joe, I'd only eat flying fish :)

Re #28:

Dayum. Attacking someone's pet or child is as low as it gets.

Remember this?


I never knew what happened to the ahole. I'm delighted to learn that he got 3 years for it. I hope he had to serve every day.

Ok, busy week but I'm back at last with a simple fish recipe for S. Daniels. I made it up a few years ago at the start of Copper River season (late May?) when I shopped at Jonathan's (oohwee baby!, how the other side lives!) and got a nice piece-a Copper River salmon and a handful of fresh morels (and a bunch of fresh favas in season for the side dish). The ingredients were so great they did all the work. (Obviously you can make the recipe with dried morels soaked to reconstitute -- not quite the same, alas. Any other fine wild salmon would work, or maybe even Scottish Lake Duarte salmon, which I believe is farm-raised but better than they do it here.) The amounts: Whatever you can afford. I had about 1/3 - 1/2 cup of morels after chopping, about 2 ounces, and a 12-ounce fillet to serve 2, about one inch thick.

Copper River Salmon En Papillote with Morels

Ingredients: Salmon fillet, fresh morels, unsalted butter, tarragon (fresh or dry), creme fraiche (cold).

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Since morels don't drink up water like button mushrooms, you can wash them -- so wash them to remove any sand and grit, and dump from the strainer onto a paper towel to dry them a bit. Flip them onto a cutting board, chop them reasonably small but not stingy, maybe 1/3" pieces.

  2. In a small heavy skillet, melt unsalted butter, add morels and a pinch of tarragon, and saute until softened, stirring often. Season lightly with sea-salt and fresh-ground white pepper and set aside. Now make your side dishes, 'cause you won't have a lot of time for them once the fish hits the fire.

  3. Give salmon fillet a rinse in cold water (or lightly rub with cut lemon and rinse off, to restore pristine freshness). Season skin side with sea-salt and fresh-ground white pepper. If you are a craftsmanly type and know how to wrap things properly for a classic papillote, lay salmon on a piece of parchment paper. If you are a klutz like me, lay fish skin-side down in the middle of a sheet of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the fillet. Top with morels and their butter. With a large soup-spoon, scoop out a generous blob of cold creme fraiche from the container (1/4 cup?) and top the mushrooms with it. Before it has time to melt and run off the fish, wrap the fish with your wrapping of choice, sealing well at the seams.

  4. Place on an ovenproof whatever-you-like, and bake for precisely 10 minutes per each inch of the fish's thickness. Remove immediately from oven, place on serving platter, open wrap and serve. Side dishes for Copper River season: young fava beans or sugar-snap peas; for a starch if you need one, long-grain rice pilaf made with a big unpeeled clove of garlic added along with the broth. Brown jasmine rice (available at Trader Joe's) is even better than white rice with salmon, with just-right assertiveness.

Mmmm, Ms Wise, I love me some juicy, flavor-intense en papillote!

Note: Creme fraiche can also be purchased at Trader Joe's along with some decent, dark and chewy wild rice, a potential substitute for the brown jasmine rice. I will be sure to pick up some favas over at the Mona Lisa deli in Little Italy, as this sounds like a great side for this dish.

This one is going in the fish files--thanks! :)

Two more cooking questions for Ms Wise or whoever might like to answer--maybe FullFlavorPike?

1) I have also been thinking about putting dried Montmorency cherries and some nuts into the wild rice cooked in stock, but need to figure out the proper seasoning for a fruited rice.

2) I'd also like to do some fruit glazes or sauces with a gamey fish like salmon or a totally fatty fish like swordfish. A cherry demi-glace, for example, but reduced down with what alcohol? Bourbon? The sauce should complement, but not overpower the fish...

Fruit glaze... Sounds Good!

I've never made it myself, but I really like fish with a mango salsa. It's the only way I like mango.

  • Joe

Ditto, Joe--except I'll eat mango anyway, anytime. I hope Naomi responds with some more recipes. I've seen fruit glazes, especially cherry, used on red meats, like beef steaks and lamb, but not for fish. It seems logical that it would work for some fish dishes.

Next mango salsa I make, I'll post the recipe. They aren't in season here at the moment (mangoes), but will be in December :)

Will look forward to it, gringo! One of my favorite uses for mango--a twist on the traditional Italian caprese:

Layer slices of mango along with sliced avocado, ripe heirloom tomato (orange, yellow, red, zebra stripe green), good buffalo mozzarella, and leaves of basil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, minced fresh garlic, good olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, and marinate an hour or so. The colors are as delicious to the eye as the salad is to the mouth :)


But no chiles? No peppers? Mexican salsas often enjoy to sweet/hot slant. And I know of many Italian dishes that utilize peppers in such a fashion. And, I am a huge Italian food guy. Anything with some hotness?

As a matter of fact, I totally forgot the thinly sliced raw red onion--and the raw garlic adds bite, but sure, why not play on the sweet and savory--AND hot? (though you've certainly opened that jar of jalapenos elsewhere tonight, dear :)

Ah, SDaniels, flattery will get you everywhere.

I usually go for mango salsa with fish, and have never tried a cherry glaze, but I do know what liquor to use for the latter. Cognac, of course! If you want it even sweeter than the cherries (remember that old R&B song, "sweeter than the cherries, sweeter than the juice, if it gets any sweeter, it ain't no goddamn use..."?) think about kirsch. But, know what? Think about pomegranate instead for salmon and gamey fish -- the tartness might work better, and you've got over a thousand years' worth of good cooks backing you up on that. You can buy "pomegranate molasses" (a thick reduction) in Middle Eastern markets or a lot of gourmet markets, and it lasts in the fridge almost forever, given the thickness and tartness. Some brands are so thick, they have to be cut with something or you'll end up with a big sour MROWR on your mouth. Without dragging out my ten-ton cooking notebooks for recipes right now (look at the time!) I'm thinking about cutting it with water or white wine and a touch of soy sauce and nam pla for the umami we're looking for. Minced Italian parsley leaves an thyme. And of course, you can buy bottled POM juice and just reduce it on the stove.

The Persians are the big pomegranate users (along with the Georgians) and they're the world's experts on combining dried fruits with rice. Go to Bandar's website and look at the menu to get the names of several such rice dishes (Shireen Polo, Qabuli, etc.), then fish on google for recipes for the ones you want.

Faux-Persian Fruited Rice

To simplify Persia's wonderful but elaborate rice dishes down to the bone (because it's late at night and I'm ready for beddy-bye, not cookbook searches), here's a version that I sometimes use in a hurry, simplified to pilaf rather than Iran's great polos (developed by wives often wearing niqabs, forbidden to even take a walk alone much less work outside the home ...):

In a heavy pan with a tight lid, lightly soak dried fruit of choice (sour cherries, barberries, currants, whatever) in water until semi-soft, and drain. Chop some onion and saute in lotsa unsalted butter, stirring often so butter doesn't brown. Add a great long-grain rice (basmati, say), pre-soaked and drained if the package says so. Very gently let rice cook in butter until translucent. Dust with a little allspice and stir in fruit. Add precisely twice as much liquid (e.g., chicken stock, but water if you must) as the amount of rice. Rapidly bring to a boil, stir once, clap on a tight lid, lower heat to a simmer, and simmer about 25 minutes. Let stand off heat 5 minutes (vital!) Serve -- sprinkled with a little ground sumac for color and a touch of tart flavor. (For bfown Jasmine or basmati, you'll probably need a little more liquid and more cooking time --say, 2 1/4 proportion, and 35 minutes before the rest period.)

Oh, well -- now I keep thinking about Qabuli, common to North India, Persia and Afghanistan: That's the one with minced carrots, cashews, raisins and/or currants (and saffron if you can afford it, and peas if you want): For that one, you saute the rice without the onions in some butter, and you saute the fruit separately, with onions, carrots and cashews in plenty more butter, until the carrots are semi-soft, and stir it into the rice when the rice is done. A very little turmeric with the rice liquid or the fruit-fry givew a golden color if you can't spring for real saffron.

As Julia told her little doggie: Bone appetit!

Oh, I forgot to say: That armadillo recipe way up there a bunch of posts ago is likely to be very good. Looking it over, realized it's the classic French recipe for rabbit. Ate it my first night in Beaune (rabbit version, not armadillo). That was way back (seventies) but I still savory the memory. Armadillo version oughta be just as good. Any chance, you think, Von's will carry th meatt?

2:1 ratio rice to liquid? Wow! I've never gone over 1 1/2:1 ever. Doesn't that make the rice too bloated?

Not if you are using basmati rice by turning it up fast, then to a simmer for 15-20 min, covered.

Thanks for the molasses tip and the recipe, Naomi! If I were a cheerleader, I'd shake my POM POMs :)

Where in the hell am I going to get basmati rice in Mexico?

Really? No local South Asian stores? :) I guess I could mail some, or when we actually meet, I could bring you a lb or so--white or brown?

SD, we have actually met :)

I'm a lazy bastard. I reckon I should cross the border more often. But hell, 2:1 is INSANE! I so much love my rice, I never cover and cook. I add juice, a little at a time. Just enough! No more, no less. I seek perfection!

I do recall, btw. I meant, when we actually 'next' meet, since it has been the deferral to end all deferrals, kinda like my student loans :) Trust it on the rice ratio, and check with Pike, since he's a dude, if you must. Oh--and my rice IS perfection. :)

I'm really bad (I mean, sort of obsessed) when it comes to rice. My wife actually thinks I'm insane. I guard it, I add little amounts of broth. I know it's not healthy. I can't help it. I reckon Pike will set us straight tomorrow ;)

I was kidding about that. I have been cooking for a long time. If you need to consult a chef, by allllll means.

"2:1 ratio rice to liquid? Wow! I've never gone over 1 1/2:1 ever. Doesn't that make the rice too bloated?"

I usually make Jasmine rice... and I always use the 2:1 ratio. Throw it in a pot, get it to a boil, cover it and cook on low until it's done. Comes out perfect every time. The trick is not to mess with it.

For some reason Basmati rice and I don't get along. Seems that I always end up using it in a slow cook something or another (like a bunch of chicken and vegatables in a pot with liquid and rice) and it is never all the way done. I just threw out the last of our supply.

Damn you Basmati Rice.

  • Joe

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