Thursday, February 11, 2010

clowns to the left of me

Since the basic function of transglutaminase in the home kitchen is to bond one meat to another meat, I decided to do just that and see what happens:

Steak glued to ribs
Steak glued to ribs, smoked.

I bonded sirloin steak tips to the outside of pork spareribs, stuck them in the smoker, and stuck the smoker in the oven until the spareribs were meaningfully tender.  I didn't cook them to the point that the bones were falling out of the meat, but enough that you could pull those bones out with a couple twists and a tug.  There's a spectrum of sparerib doneness, and that's towards the ... call it the "rare" end, I suppose.

The reason I didn't cook them longer is because the beef was already drying out.  I knew this was a possibility.  I regularly cook sirloin steak tips in braises for long periods, but long smoking is another story.  They lack the fat and connective tissue that make spareribs become tender and melting over time.

Still tasted good.  When I say the beef was drying out, I just mean it was past its ideal point.  It certainly wasn't inedible or overly tough, they're perfectly tasty ribs.  But this was ultimately ... this was the shot you take to see how you need to adjust your aim.


1: I didn't want to spend a fortune on meat, so I used the same cut of beef that I was already buying (I made a batch of chicken-fried steaks to put in the freezer, not tenderizing any of them this time).  In the future, a better choice would be to match meats according to how they cook -- maybe brisket, for instance, would have worked here.  Or chuck roast.  Or a layer of sausage, even.

2: I believe you could precook the pork, cool it, bond the beef to it overnight, and then resume cooking.  I think.

3: Somewhat more intriguing, but very much an object of meat-geeking: picture a rack of ribs.  Now trim most of the meat off the front, without interfering with the interstitial meat, so that you still have a rack of ribs -- just one with barely any meat on it.  Now bond a different meat to it.

People regularly cook rib roasts which have been removed from the bone, with the bone tied to it to provide some benefits while cooking.  This would be like that, only with a different cut of meat, see?

Okay, picture it: you pull a rack of ribs from the smoker, and toss them into the broiler to crisp up the skin.  Skin!  What?  OH HEY IT'S DUCK.  BOOM.  I think fish could be interesting too -- salmon, trout, maybe monkfish depending on how it takes to smoking -- possibly with an additional layer of bacon.

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