Monday, December 11, 2017

A Brewery for the Working Class

For those who know me, a brewery for working people is just my type of brewery.  My day job consists of me fighting for the rights of working men and women across the United States.  So, when I heard about the appropriately named Working Class Brewery, which is located at Kamm's Corner in Cleveland, Ohio, I made sure that I would pay a visit.  Needless to say, the visit left me thinking I may have found a new place to hang out whenever I am back in C-Town.

The people behind Working Class Brewery are Richard Skains and Carmen Rusionello.   Skains was a teacher and band director for the Cleveland City School District, but his side passion is brewing beer.  As a home brewer, Skains won the Best in Show competition with his Smoked Bock made with Chipotle Peppers.  After that, Skains worked as a part-time, assistant brewer at Rocky River Brewing and Fat Heads Brewery.  (As followers of this blog know, Fat Heads is my favorite craft brewer.)  So, the working class motif along with the experience working with an expert brewer like Matt Cole of Fat Head's is definitely a combination that appeals to the beer lover in me.

The working class motif is evident throughout the tap room.  There are the black and white pictures of working people, separated by logos of various international and local unions, including the International Union of Operating Engineers, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, the Bakery, Confectionary and Tobacco Workers, and the International Association of Machinists.   The names of the beers further emphasize workers, such as the Bricklayer Brown Ale, the Oil Rigger Chocolate Stout, and the Pipefitters Porter.  

The beers also underscore what I think is the Fat Heads inspiration.  Working Class Brewery has a wide range of beer styles that pour from the re-purposed tap handles (which were anchor bolts from the brewing system). The styles that include, but are not limited to, an American blonde, a brown ale, a dunkelweiss, a pale ale, an IPA, a porter, a smoked porter, a chocolate stout, a Russian imperial stout and a tripel.  They even had a radler, which is a rarity on brewery tap lists.  

Given the wide range of beer styles, I decided to do a five beer sampler.  (I would have tried a ten beer sampler but for the fact that I had a beer or two at lunch.)   The five beers that I chose were the Snow Job Christmas Ale (which was released on the day that I visited the tap room), the Bricklayer Brown Ale, the Aviator IPA, the Pipefitter's Porter, and the Overtime Session IPA.

All of the beers were excellent, with each one fitting very well within its style.  I had to go ahead and try individual samplers of the two beers that could not be included with a five beer sampler.  These were the Bank Boss Tripel and the the Cube Done Russian Imperial Stout.  Once again, the brewers hit the mark for each of the style.

It is rare to go to a brewery taproom and leave with the conclusion that all of the beers sampled are excellent.   They exist, like Fatheads Brewery in Ohio, D.C. Brau in Washington, D.C. and Jailbreak Brewing in Maryland.  Now, I can add Working Class Brewing to that list.  If you happen to be in the Kamm's Corner neighborhood, the Working Class taproom is definitely worth the visit.  Until next time ...


Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Ultimate French Dip Sandwich

Without question, my favorite sandwich is the French Dip sandwich.  You can ask my Angel ... if the menu has a french dip sandwich, the odds are that I will order it.   There is something about a sandwich, piled relatively high with thin slices of meat, that is dipped in a bowl of warm au jus that appeals to me.  That is, if it is done right.

Most French Dip sandwiches that I have tried -- and I have tried many sandwiches -- fall short.  The beef is too dried and/or too processed.  The au jus is too watered down or too salty.  What is my favorite sandwich turns out to be one big disappointment.  Time and time again.

So, one of my cooking bucket list items has been to make the ultimate French Dip sandwich.  Before we go further, let's be clear ... the ultimate French Dip sandwich in my opinion.  I don't care about anyone else's opinion on this subject.  And I am not trying to recreate the original.  My goal has been to make the French Dip sandwich that I believe to be the best in my rather humble opinion.

In order to achieve that goal, I need to know what I am about to cook.  The French Dip sandwich originated, as the story goes, with the sandwich shop known as Philippe's the Original in Los Angeles, California.  Nearly 100 years ago, in 1918, the owner -- Philippe Mathieu -- was preparing a sandwich for a police officer when he dropped it in a pan with hot cooking juices.  The police officer ate the sandwich anyway and, the rest, as they say, is history.  Or is it?  At least one other restaurant claims to be the one who first made the sandwich.  That story is even older, going back to 1908.  The restaurant, Cole's, was serving a guest who had no teeth.  The cook dipped the sandwich in the hot cooking juices to make it easier for the guest to eat.  Whether it started with a police officer or a toothless guest, the French Dip sandwich has become one of the iconic American sandwiches. After all, Philippe's now serves 4,000 sandwiches per day.

There are three components to a French Dip sandwich.  First, the bread.  It should be a crusty French roll.  This is important because it provides a crispness on the outside, which holds the sandwich together.  It also provides a soft inside, which will absorb the juices.  Second, the meat.  Philippe's uses bottom round roasts, which are roasted with a sort of mirepoix -- celery, carrots, and onions -- along with a lot of garlic, herbs and spices.  Finally, there is the au jus.  Once again, Philippe's creates the jus by making a beef stock from bones, onions, carrots, celery, leeks, herbs and spices.   The jus is finished with the cooking juices from the roasts.   

In my quest to make the ultimate French Dip sandwich, I focused on all three components.  I first bought some freshly baked rolls for the bread.  The filling for these sandwiches would not be bottom round.  Rather, I decided to go for the top of the line ... ribeye.  I also decided that I would not simply roast the meat.  Instead, I would smoke it, using cherry wood.  This wood would impart a lighter smoke flavor to the meat, providing an additional dimension with respect to the flavor. My recipe for smoking a rib roast can be found here, all you need to change is the wood.  Finally, the au jus would be what I really like it.  There would be a lot of beefiness in the jus, as I started with some bone marrow, which I use in combination with a little butter to saute onions and garlic.  I then added some beef stock, fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme) and a little red wine (an inexpensive Burgundy works very well).  I cooked down the liquid to concentrate the flavors.  The end result is not just any French Dip sandwich.  It is what I believe to be, in my humble opinion, the ultimate French Dip sandwich.

A Chef Bolek Original
Serves 4

Ingredients (for the prime rib meat:
4 sub rolls, partially split lengthwise
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 cups thinly sliced smoked prime rib 
1/2 cups of au jus

Ingredients (for the jus):
2 tablespoons of butter
4 cups beef stock
1 cup red wine (burgundy, if possible)
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
4 marrow bones, roasted

1.  Toast the bread. Adjust the oven rack to the middle upper position of the stove.  Pre-heat the broiler.  Brush the interior of the sub rolls with oil  Arrange the rolls, oiled-side up, on a baking sheet.  Broil until golden brown, about 1 minute. 

2.  Heat the meat.  Combine prime rib and jus in skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes.

3.  Finish the dish.  Pile some of the thinly sliced prime rib upon the sub roll.  Serve with a small bowl of au jus for dipping.  


Friday, December 1, 2017

The 7 Locks of Maryland

If you live in the DMV (that is, the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia), you should know about the seven (7) locks.  I knew that the 7 locks are locks of the Chesapeake & Ohio canal.  A lock is used to raise or lower vessels between different stretches of a river or a canal.  The 7 locks refer to Lock Numbers 8 through 14, which are located on a one and one-quarter mile stretch of the C&O Canal.  It begins with Lock 8, located just south of the Clara Barton Parkway in Cabin John, Maryland, and ends with Lock 14, which just beyond Interstate 495.  A walk along the paths that connect those locks provides one with an insight into a chapter of our transportation history that is truly remarkable.

But, this is not a blog about transportation.  It is about food and beer.  And, with respect to the latter, the 7 Locks refers to a relatively new brewery in Rockville, Maryland.  My beautiful Angel and I have visited the 7 Locks taproom a few times to sample its beers.  Standards (that is, year around offerings) like the Surrender Dorothy Rye'PA and Devils Alley IPA are very good.  However, during our last trip, we both decided to try the Oktoberfest.  Perhaps it was the season.  Perhaps it was the beer.  Actually, it was the beer, because we bought a growler of the Oktoberfest to enjoy at home.  

According to the brewers, the Oktoberfest is "[a]n American take on the traditional German Marzen style."  According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, a Marzen an amber orange to a deep copper red color.  The 7 Locks' take does not achieve ether of those hues, taking on a more golden color.

While the Oktoberfest may not meet the BCJP's expectations of the color, it hits the mark on both the aroma and taste.  The BCJP describes a Marzen as having aromatic notes that are rich, bready and toasty.  These notes come from the heavy emphasis on the malts.  The Oktoberfest meets this part of the standard.  As for the taste, the BCJP expects that bready, toasty nature to shine through, with a little bitterness from the hops (but no hop taste). The hops are meant to balance the sweetness that could arise from the malts.  That is what takes place with this Oktoberfest.  The beer has great malt tones, which provide some bready and toasty flavors.   While the brewers suggest "a hint of cherry wood smoke," I did not detect that in this beer.  

In the end, the Oktoberfest  may come closer to the BCJP's description of a Fest Bier as opposed to a Marzen.  But, who cares?  It is a very good beer and one that I'll be back for next year.  

Until next time....


Monday, November 27, 2017

Old Westminter Winery's Nouveau (2017)

We are only members of two wine clubs (plus we have a standing order with a third one).  If you were to check the wine reviews on Chef Bolek, you could probably figure out one of the vineyards.  (It's Black Ankle Vineyards.)  The other vineyard is Old Westminster Vineyard, which is located in Westminster, Maryland.

The winemakers at Old Westminster have taken some bold steps when it comes to wine.   The most recent step is to produce their take on the Beaujolais Nouveau.  Of course, the Beaujolais Nouveau -- which I reviewed back in 2012 -- comes from the Beaujolais region of France.  That is nearly four thousand miles away from Westminster.  And, the Beaujolais Nouveau is made with Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc grapes (or Gamay grapes).  The closest region to Westminster where one could find these grapes is the Niagara region (southern Ontario, Canada) or the Willamette Valley in Oregon. 

So, Old Westminster produced the Nouveau.  The boldness of this step is that the winemakers produced a wine in the Beaujolais Nouveau style but a wine that is not a Beaujolais Nouveau.  The style is to produce a young wine.  One that spends weeks, not months, aging in a stainless steel tank or an oak barrel.  The wine then goes straight into the bottle.  

The Old Westminster Nouveau is produced with Cabernet Franc grapes with, according to the wine maker, "a splash of Petit Verdot."  The grapes were grown in northern Maryland, harvested from mid-September through early October, and then fermented in stainless steel.  The wine was then bottled on October 26th. Just 300 cases.  My beautiful Angel and I got to taste it roughly one week later.  This is just another slight departure from the Beaujolais Nouveau, which is not released until 12:01 a.m. on the third Tuesday in November.  Nevertheless, we still bought two bottles, one to enjoy that night and another to put in the wine cage.

The winemakers describe the Nouveau as having an "inky color, tons of red fruit on the nose, bright acidity and grippy, young tannins."  The wine pours a crimson red, much lighter than the typical red wine.  There is a lot of red fruit on the nose.  The typical fruit, like cherries, raspberries and even some strawberry notes.  All of those berries carry themselves into the taste of the wine, although the strawberries lose themselves a little in the tannins of the wine.  The tannins are as advertised, they do not provide much astringency or bitterness to the wine.  That opens the way for the fruit-forwardness of this wine.

The Nouveau is a very good wine, and, like any Nouveau wine, it is meant to be enjoyed sooner rather than later.  A bottle runs for about $30 dollars.  


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Smoked Turkey Breast

Sometimes simplicity is the recipe for perfection.  That was definitely the case recently when my beautiful Angel and I invited some friends over for a meal.  I billed it as "Giving Thanks for Friendship."  I prepared a whole turkey, but, expecting a larger crowd, I asked my Angel to buy a turkey breast.  She bought two 1/2 turkey breasts.  Given I did not have enough room in my oven for 1 turkey and a 2 half turkey breasts, I decided that I would cook those 1/2 turkey breasts in my smoker. 

So, I went through my cookbooks looking for a recipe for smoked turkey breasts.  I checked my Big Bob Gibson books, but the recipe called for a honey-maple glaze.  That glaze just did not interest either my Angel or myself.  I then checked some Myron Mixon cookbooks (which were graciously given to me by my neighbor ... and I am extremely thankful for the gifts).  I found a recipe that was closer to what I wanted to do.  But, I decided to also check my Aaron Franklin cookbook, Franklin Barbecue: a Meat-Smoking Manifesto.  Franklin is known for his brisket - and a trip to Austin is on my bucket list, solely to try that brisket - but he had a recipe for smoked turkey breast.  The one thing that caught my eye is that it embodied the simple style of Texas barbecue ... a rub of salt and pepper smoked slow and low over the wood of your choice.

I decided to go with Aaron Franklin's recipe, which applies the central Texas barbecue style to the turkey breast.  Although I am far from someone who could opine with any authority about the style, from what I have read, the hallmarks of central Texas barbecue are (1) beef; (2) a salt and pepper rub; and (3) slow smoking using oak wood.   The first hallmark is already thrown out the window,  because we are talking about a turkey breast, not a beef brisket.  The second hallmark stands.  I made a simple rub of freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt according to Franklin's specifications (2 parts pepper to 1 part salt).  The final hallmark had to fall as well, only because I did not have any oak wood for the smoker.  I could have used pecan, which finds its way into some central Texas barbecue.  However, I thought that a more appropriate wood would be apple.  The reason is simple.  Apples work very well with turkey, as shown by their use in stuffing recipes.  Apple wood also tends to provide a milder smoked flavor, which is good for the generally milder flavor of turkey.   

The last change I made was to the cooking times.  Given I was working with two half breasts, instead of one whole one, I relied upon the low end of the cooking times.  Where Aaron Franklin talks about 2 1/2 hours to 3 hours for the initial part of the cook, I went with 2 hours.  When he talked about 45 minutes for the finishing of the cook, I went with 40 minutes.  The reason is that 2 half breasts will cook in a slightly shorter timeframe than one whole one.  If you are using a whole breast, you should follow his timelines.  If you do what I do, round down when it comes to the time limits. 

In the end, Aaron Franklin's smoked turkey breast was the hit of the gathering.  Everyone liked it and consumed far more of it than the whole turkey. This is definitely on my short list of Thanksgiving recipes for the future and it should be on your list as well.  Who knows, I may even try to smoke a whole turkey using this recipe.  That will be the subject of a future blog post. 


Recipe from Franklin Barbecue, pages 173-74
Serves many

1 skin-on, non-solution turkey breast
1 cup butter
Heavy duty aluminum foil
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons kosher salt
Seasoned firewood (oak, apple)

1.  Start the fire.  Prepare the fire and get the temperature to 265 degrees at grate level. 

2.  Prepare the breast.  If the skin is on the breast, remove it. We just tear off the skin and throw it away.  Mix the pepper and salt and rub it on the turkey breast.  

3.  Smoke the breast.  Place the turkey skin side up (meaning the side that formerly had the skin) in the smoker and cook until golden brown (typically 2 12/ to 3 hours.  Remove the turkey from the smoker, place the butter on top of the turkey and wrap tightly in aluminum foil, dull side out.  The turkey breast ends up braising quite a lot in the melted butter and its own juices and double layer of foil ensures against leakage.  Return the turkey to the cooker, this time flipping it so that its skin side is down. 

4.  Finish the cook.  Cook the turkey breast until the internal temperature registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  This should take about 1 additional hour. 

5.  Rest the turkey breast.  Let the turkey rest until the internal temperature drops to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, then slice thinly against the grain and enjoy.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Privé Vineyard Le Nord (2013)

I am always amazed at what people can do with what they have.  This is especially true when it comes to wine.  Some of the best wines come from the smallest producers. And, in my humble opinion, the best wines that I have ever tasted come from the smallest vineyard that I know ...  Privé Vineyard.

Privé is a vineyard consisting of two acres located in the Chehalem Mountains, which is part of Oregon's Willamette Valley.  The owners -- Mark and Tina Hammond -- purchased the property, consisting of a run-down  house and those two acres,  which grew Muller Thurgau grapes.  The Hammonds grafted those vines over to Pommard clones, and built up a beautiful vineyard.  The two acres of grapes now produce three Pinot Noir wines, appropriately named "Le Nord" (produced from the grapes grown on the Le Nord acre), "Le Sud" (produced from the grapes grown on the Le Sud acre), and Joie de Vivre, which is a reserve wine.  (The Hammonds also produce a dessert wine ... a Port made with Pinot Noir grapes.)

I have reviewed a few of those Pinot Noir wines in the past, such as the 2006 and 2008 vintages of the Le Nord, as well as the 2008 vintage of the Le Sud and the 2008 vintage of the Mélange.  We enjoy Privé wines so much that we have  a standing order.  We purchase a few bottles each year and cellar those bottles.  The bottles await a special occasion or a moment when we want one of the best Pinot Noirs out there. 

My beautiful Angel and I recently opened a bottle of the Le Nord (2013).  The Le Nord pours a deep garnet or burgundy red.  The burgundy is suggestive of the fruit elements in both the aroma and the taste.  The elements suggest cherries, raspberries and even some cranberries.  Other elements are a little earthier in nature, such as what  the winemakers suggest, "clean earth."  

The taste of the Le Nord reminds me of what makes Oregon Pinot Noir one of my favorite styles of wine.  The Le Nord carries forward the berries in the aroma, with a nice combination of ripe raspberries and cranberries. The berries are balanced with the notes of ground dried mushrooms.  

Because there is only 1 acre of vines used to produce the Le Nord, the wine is available only on futures.  More information can be found at Prive Vineyard.  The wine is definitely worth the effort, especially if you are looking for a great Pinot Noir for a holiday or special occasion, such as Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.


Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mussels, Barnacles, and More

In recent weeks and months, I have gotten back into the routine of not only cooking, but also blogging.  I am averaging about a post a week, and, I have a healthy number of posts in the works.  I hope to be cooking even more and posting even more, even though I probably will never return to the number of posts that I was doing back in 2011 or 2012.  

But, I am taking this brief break to blog about another interest of mine ... photography.  It may not show in the pictures of the various dishes that I make, but I like to take pictures.  Setting aside my family, who are the subject of a majority of my pictures, the rest are generally of food, animals or landscapes. 

Recently, I was working on a wine review.  For that review, I went back to find some pictures of the vineyard. The pictures were from my honeymoon with my beautiful Angel.  We spent a little more than a week in Oregon.  The trip started in Portland, worked its way through Willamette Valley and ended on the coastline in Pacific City. 

While we were in Pacific City, we walked the coastline.  I was amazed by the wildlife that was exposed by the low tide.  Mussels, barnacles, starfish, crabs, and so much more. I took a lot of pictures during those couple of days.  Lots and lots of pictures.  

So, as a break from what I have been working on and posting on this blog, I have decided to post a few pictures of the wildlife that lives around the coastline near Pacific City, Oregon.  As I write this post, I have been thinking about how this wildlife could be harvested and find its way onto a plate.

Picturing a dish of mussels is fairly easy. I have made quite a few of them. Some of those dishes have made it to this blog, such as Malabar Mussels, Curried Haddock and Mussels, and Green Mussel Soup.  The great thing about museels is that the dish does not even have to be fancy or complicated.  Just put handfuls of mussels in a steam pot along with a heaping helping of minced garlic.   Wait a couple of minutes and you have a very basic and very delicious meal of steamed mussels. 

Picturing a dish of barnacles is far more difficult. Barnacles don't line the shelves of the grocery stores around where I live.  They also don't grace the menus of the restaurants of where I eat.  (If either was the case, I would have probably tried to cook them and eat them by now.)  However, I do know that barnacles -- or at least gooseneck barnacles -- are edible.  I know that because I watched an episode of Bizarre Foods, in which Andrew Zimmern went foraging for gooseneck barnacles in Oregon.  

A quick Google search also produces some recipes for gooseneck barnacles.  Another google search provides results for places where you can purchase the barnacles online, such as La Tienda, a store that I trust that sells the barnacles by their Spanish name, percebes.  Unfortunately, I am not willing to wait two weeks for a delivery of percebes; and, moreover, I am not willing to part with over $100 for the ingredient.  While I am sure I could find barnacles cheaper elsewhere online, I don't want to think about where those barnacles may have been.  

While I can almost guarantee that there will be more mussel recipes on Chef Bolek in the future, I hope that maybe someday there will be a barnacle recipe too.  Only time will tell.  Until then...


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mexican Oyster Cocktail

Oysters have a special place in Maryland and Virginia, one that goes back hundreds of years.  When John Smith navigated the Chesapeake Bay in 1608, he wrote down his observations of everything he saw, including the wildlife.  Smith made two trips in 1608 from Jamestown, Virginia into the Bay.   His notes documented the tremendous diversity of life in the bay: including "sturgeon, grampus, porpoise, seals, stingrays, ... brits, mullets, white salmon (rockfish), trouts, soles, and perch of three sorts ...."  When it came to the Chesapeake Bay oysters, Smith remarked that they "lay as thick as stones." 

A lot has happened over the following four centuries, but it is safe to say that the oysters do not "lay as thick as stones" today in the Bay.  Overfishing, disease, pollution and, yes, maybe even climate change, have contributed to the downfall of oyster stocks in the Bay. According to Sea Grant Maryland, a study by the University of Maryland found that the oyster population is just 0.3% of what it was in the 1800s.  Yet, there are rays of hope in the Delmarva.  Those oyster stocks have stabilized and have even shown the promise of increasing, especially in Maryland.

One of the factors behind the success has been the increase in aquaculture of oysters.  Virginia took the lead in this effort, but Maryland is catching up when it comes to promoting the farming of these important bivalves.  One example of the effort in Maryland is Harris Seafood Company, which is the last packinghouse in Kent Narrows and the last shucking house in the State of Maryland.  Harris has an aquaculture program that enables the grower to plant millions of oysters in the Chesapeake Bay on ground that it leases.  This video provides a very brief explanation of the oyster aquaculture process:

That is just one example.  When it is multiplied by the growing number of aquaculture farms in Maryland and Virginia, the product is the promise that the Chesapeake oyster population can continue to rebound.  And, to state the obvious, that means more oysters for people like me, who love to eat them.

Usually, I buy oysters and shuck them, using skills I learned as a cook in a seafood restaurant while I was in college.  Shucking oysters takes time, because, despite my cooking experience, I lack the true expert skills of a shucker in a shucking house.  When pressed for time, I will purchase a pint of pre-shucked oysters.  Given I have had little time in recent days and weeks, I recently purchased a pint of pre-shucked Maryland oysters from Harris Seafood Company.

When I bought those oysters, I already had a recipe in mind ... a Mexican Oyster Cocktail.  The recipe comes from one of Mario Batali's cookbooks, America Farm To Table, which has a whole chapter dedicated to oysters.  I love all of the recipes, but this cocktail recipe caught my attention.  The reason is that I found it while I was writing the blog post for Oyster Shooters with Tomatoes, Lime and Chiles.  The oyster shooter recipe still stands as the best recipe ever invented, but, l was looking for challengers.

This recipe brings together a lot of ingredients -- tomatoes, scallions, celery, shallots, and chiles -- that provide a good base for an oyster shooter.  All of those ingredients work well together, especially when the lime juice and zest are added.  If there was any issue, it was the relative lack of liquid in the cocktail.  The lime juice does not provide enough liquid for the cocktail.  I strained the oyster liqueur from the pre-shucked oysters and added it to the cocktail, but it was still not enough.  Maybe the next time I make this recipe, I will add some water or, maybe because it is a Mexican oyster cocktail, I will add some tequila.  

Recipe from Permaquid Oyster Company
Printed in Mario Batali, America Farm to Table, page 61
Serves 4 to 6

4 ripe plum tomatoes
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 ribs celery, sliced paper thin
2 shallots, finely minced
Zest and juice of 3 limes
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped
24 fresh oysters, scrubbed
Kosher salt

1.  Prepare the cocktail.  Halve the tomatoes and squeeze the seeds into a bowl..  Chop the tomatoes into 1/4 inch dice and toss them into a bowl.  Add the scallions, cilantro, olive oil, cumin, celery, shallots, lime zest, lime juice, and chiles and mix well, then cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2.  Finish the dish.  Shuck the oysters over a strainer set over a small bowl to collect their liquid.  Toss the oysters with their liquor into the mixture and stir gently.  Check for seasoning, it may or may not need salt.  Serve in clear glasses or seafood cocktail servers.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lost Rhino's Alphabrett

When it comes to beer, few would approach a beer that is described with terms such as "green apple," "sour cherry" or even, in a rare case, "horse blanket." I am one of those few.  The reason is that I recognize those descriptors.  They are words being used to describe a beer brewed with Brettanomyces or "Brett."  It is a wild yeast (or actually, a few different strains of wild yeast) that produces rather unique flavors that require an open mind and a palette that can embrace some really acidic and sour flavors. 

The use of Brett has been in vogue for quite a while.  Over the past few years, I have reviewed several beers brewed with the wild yeast.   Of those beers, the one that I like the most is the Orval, the Trappist beer brewed in Belgium.  The tart tones of the beer set it apart from its Trappist brethren.  A close second would be the Le Fleur, Misseur from New Belgium.  It is hard to believe that I reviewed those beers back in 2011, nearly six years ago.

A few months ago, my beautiful Angel took me on a tour through Virginia craft beer.  The last stop on the tour was Lost Rhino Brewing.   After trying a couple of the beers, I bought two beers from the brewer's Genius Loci series.  This series of beers display the brewer's creativity and experimentation.  The results are beers that differ greatly from the standards that grace the taps at the tasting room or local restaurants.

One beer in the series is the Alphabrett, a brown ale brewed with Brett and aged for two years in barrels.  The beer is brewed with pilsner, crystal and chocolate malts, Saaz hops and a combination of St. Bernardus yeast, along with Vlo yeast in the barrel.  

The Alphabrett pours an earth brown color, with some rust hues, which one would expect with a barrel-aged brown ale brewed with Brett. The brewers describe the beer as "prevalent green apple notes that go hand in hand with a pleasant sourness."  I think that description is largely accurate.  The aroma was difficult to ascertain, but I could get some faint hints of green apple and other Brett aspects.   That faint aroma is belied by a very strong flavor.  Prevalent means widespread, and there is a lot of green apple in the taste.  The sourness hits the tongue with the first sip, and never lets up.  With each additional taste, the sourness transforms from green apple to sour apple candy, with some pepper notes along the edges.

In the end, this is a very good beer.  I wish I had bought a second bottle of it.  (I actually bought two bottles, but the second one is a different Genuis Loci beer - that will be a review for a different time.)  This beer is not for the faint of heart or taste, but, if you like something different and something sour, the Alphabrett is worth a try.


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Pinchos Morunos (Moorish Kebabs)

Anthony Bourdain once said, "street food, I believe, is the salvation of the human race."  That is quite the statement.   And it made me wonder, how could street food deliver the human race from harm, loss or ruin?  Street food is defined as "ready-to-eat" food sold by a vendor in a market or along the side of the street.  The term encompasses the wide range of food prepared, served and sold from booths, carts, and/or food trucks.  

Take, for example, pinchos morunos  or Moorish kebabs.  Small cubes of meat, threaded onto skewers and grilled over a charcoal brazier.  Also known as pinchitos, it is commonly sold by street vendors in Andalucia and Extramadura to hungry customers.  This food may provide some insight into Bourdain's statement.  The name itself reveals its origins: these threaded skewers originated with the Moors who occupied southern Spain during the Middle Ages.  The Moors marinated meat, most often lamb, with olive oil and spices (like garlic, cumin, thyme, oregano and turmeric).  Long after the Moors were defeated with the fall of Granada, these meat skewers continued to be served to hungry people at street corners and in markets.  To be sure, the skewers have evolved over time, with lamb being replaced by pork and chicken.  But, its history ties present day Spaniards with the peoples of the region's past.  

A street food like pinchitos can also tie Spaniards with other peoples.  One need only cross the Strait of Gibraltar into Morocco and northern Africa to find vendors serving a very similar kebab, made with lamb at local markets.  A common dish that can be enjoyed together, with friends or strangers.  As people enjoy the skewers, they can start to talk to each other.  They can talk about the food, the area, or a local sporting event.  As they talk, people can realize that -- despite their nationality, religion, etc, -- they actually have a lot in common.  And, that is how street food can start us on the road toward the salvation of the human race.  

There are a variety of pinchito recipes on the Internet, but I decided to use a recipe from one from my cookbooks, Culinaria Spain.  This recipe is also very simple and very cheap to make, which is the key to street food.   It calls for the use of lamb (a nod to tradition) or pork (a nod to current street food). This recipe does not include expensive ingredients, like saffron, which is found in the ingredient list of other recipes.  (I saved the saffron for the rice that accompanied the kebabs.) Finally, and most important, this recipe can be made using the broiler of an oven, which opens it up to those who may not have a charcoal brazier or grill.  

One last note: even if you make this dish at home, you can still fulfill the fundamental potential of street food.   Invite some friends over for a meal, or better yet, invite some acquaintances over for a meal and get to know them better.  Every little step counts.

Recipe from Culinaria Spain, pg. 432
Serves 4

1 1/4 pound of pork or lamb fillet
1/2 cup of olive oil
3 1/2 tablespoons of dry sherry
1 teaspoon of mild paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

1.  Prepare the kebabs.  Cut the fillet into 3/4 to 1 1/4 inch chunks.  Make a marinade with the olive oil, sherry, spices and marinate the meat chunks for at least 2 hours.

2.  Broil the kebabs.  Thread the meat chunks onto 4 kebab skewers.  Broil under medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning several times.  Serve immediately with bread, lemon or, in my case, some saffron rice.  


Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Bodhi

So what does it take to become a "cult beer"? That is, a beer with a following that is so passionate that they will do just about anything -- drive distances, stand in line, pay extra -- just to have a pint or buy a bottle of a beer?  I began thinking about this issue after trying a bottle of Columbus Brewing Company's Bodhi Double IPA.  My dad described this beer as a cult beer.  So, what does it take to achieve that status?

I did some searching, but I was unable to find anything that would set forth criteria for what constitutes a cult beer.  Instead, most articles simply tell you which beers are "cult beers."  And, I found an article that describes the Bodhi as having achieved "cult" status.  Marc Bona, a writer with, described the Bodhi as having a "strong, fresh citrus aroma that hits you immediately [that] is followed quickly by wonderful tropical flavors, and, then, seconds later on each sip, a big hop smack."  That's some description, and, it provides a little insight into what it takes become a cult beer.

Simply put, it is the beer itself.  The Bodhi pours a golden color, which one would expect with a double India Pale Ale.  Depending upon the light, there was an orange hue that shined through.  As I stared at the beer, the thin foam gracing the surface of the beer began to recede.

As that foam retreated to the edges of the glass, the aromatic elements of the hops began to shine through.  Notes of citrus fruit, with a little pine greet the nose, but are balanced by the softer tones of the malts.  The taste of the Bodhi, at least for me, began with the pine, with grass, floral and herb tones.  However, with each sip, the flavor transitioned to citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, and tangerines.  The bitter finish lingers on the tongue and the back of the mouth long after the beer is gone.  Perhaps that is the "big hop smack."

The Bodhi is definitely a great example of a double IPA (or, as it is also known, an Imperial IPA). It follows the style well, pushing the envelope in getting big hop aromas and flavors.  While I can't say that the Bodhi is a "cult beer," I can say that if I saw it on tap or in bottle, I'd have another one.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Chef Bolek's Italian Beef Sandwiches

The Chicago-Style Italian Beef Sandwich has been on Chef Bolek's "Bucket List" for a very long time.  It all began with a trip to Chicagoland.  I was visiting my sister and her family, and, we went to a place called Portillo's.  I had my first Chicago-Style Italian Beef sandwich there.  It was amazing.  

Fast forward several years later, and, my beautiful Angel bought me a roast from a local store.  My mind immediately turned to making Italian Beef Sandwiches out of that roast.  So, I did what I always do, and that is to set out and learn about what I am going to make.

The origin of the Chicago-style Italian Beef Sandwich appears to be somewhat lost to history, although there are some who claim to know how the sandwich came to be.  Generally speaking, the sandwich was created by Italian immigrants who came to Chicago to work in the stockyards.  They were only able to afford the tougher cuts of beef, which they would roast in a pan with beef stock.  Once the roast was cooked, they would slice it thinly, dip the meat back in the juices, and then pile it onto bread with some giardiniera (which is a relish of carrots, cauliflower, olives, and peppers in vinegar.  Once the sandwich was prepared, it would also be dipped into the juices).  If you want to learn more about the history of this sandwich, you can cheek out Thrillist or Amazing Ribs

I wanted to get to making this sandwich.  The recipe is relatively easy to make.  I created my own Italian style rub -- basil, oregano, garlic, onion, salt and pepper -- and then marinated the meat overnight.  The next day, I roasted the meat until it was medium rare and then set it aside as I strained the jus from the bottom of the roasting pan for the dipping.  After the beef rested, I sliced it thinly, piled it high on a bun and added some hand-chopped giardiniera.  The end result was as delicious as the sandwiches I had in Chicago.  

Recipe Inspired by Many Others
Serves a lot

1 (4 to 5 pound) top sirloin roast, sirloin tip roast or other roast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/3 tablespoon oregano
1/2 cup beef broth or stock, plus more for jus
1 bottle of giardiniera, drained
Sub rolls

1.  Prepare the roast.  Mix the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, rosemary, basil and oregano.   Spread the rub over the roasts, making sure that all sides of the roast are covered.  Wrap the roast and refrigerate overnight. 

2.  Roast the beef.  Place the beef in a roasting pan.  Add 1/2 cup of beef broth or beef stock.   Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast the beef until it is medium rare, about 145 degrees.  This will take about one and one-half hours.  Remove the roast from the oven and the pan.  Tent with foil and let it rest for 10 to 20 minutes.  

3.  Toast the rolls.  While the meat is resting, brush olive oil on the sub rolls and toast them for about one to two minutes under the broiler. 

4.  Prepare the giardiniera.  Chop the various vegetables in the giardiniera, until they are small pieces.  Place in a bowl and set aside.   

3.  Finish the dish.  Strain the juices from the roasting pan and set aside.  If you need more as an au jus, stir in some warm beef stock or broth.  Slice the beef into thin slices.  Dip the slices into the au jus and place on the bun.  Spoon over the chopped giardiniera over the beef and serve with a small dipping container of au jus.


Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Black Flag Flying Over Columbia

The Black Flag stands in direct opposition to the established norms.  That is a statement tat, as a fan of punk music, I would expect from Henry Rollins, the singer for the hardcore punk band that goes by that name.  However, the italicized sentence sums up Black Flag Brewing Company, a relatively new brewery in Columbia, Maryland.  

I have to admit that the name is catchy, because I am a big fan of the punk rock band, Black Flag.  When I saw the signs for the brewery, Black Flag, thoughts emerged In My Head about how I'm the One who would drive From Hell and Back to grab a Six Pack for a TV Party in a Padded Cell known as Room 13.  6 song titles and 1 album title in one sentence about getting beer.  Not to shabby.

With that out of the way, we visited Black Flag Brewing to check out the taproom and the beers.  The brewery is trying to keep from being type-cast in the craft beer world.  Its owner does not want to be known for a specific style of beer (for example, Sierra Nevada and its IPAs).  Thus, the ten taps that lie behind the bar have a range of styles including a blonde, Belgian saison, sour, breakfast stout, pale ale and a Double IPA, as well as seasonals like an Octoberfest and a pumpkin beer. 

The first beer I tried was the Mambo Sauce (which itself is a reference to the condiment found in Washington, D.C. area restaurants that is akin to a barbecue sauce.   Black Flag's Mambo Sauce is nothing like the bottles that might grace a restaurant table.  The brewery describes its beer as a "big tropical monster," with "huge juicy hop additions hidden behind smooth bitterness."  

The Mambo Sauce DIPA is pictured to the right.  The beer pours a golden-orange color, with a little haziness; but, it comes as advertised.  The aromatic elements are full of ripe citrus fruit, such as grapefruit, tangerine and lemons.   Those aromatic elements carry through to the taste of the beer, although they are couched in the malt tones, which add a little sweetness to the flavor profile of the beer.  The latter are the result of the brewers' efforts to smooth out the bitterness of the hops.  The effort to round out the bitterness represents, to a certain degree, the efforts to be non-conformist.  After all, most DIPAs push the bold hop aromas and flavors, not thinking too much about the malts.  

In the end, Black Flag Brewery illustrates the promise of the craft beer movement in Maryland: new  breweries open, creating beers that stand out on their own.  We will definitely be stopping in again ... very soon.  


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Smoked Ribeye Roast

While the prime rib roast -- or standing rib roast -- is the king of cuts (in my humble opinion), that roast can be very difficult to find in grocery stores, especially outside of certain major holidays.  The roast is cut from the rib section of the cow, from the sixth bone to the twelfth bone.  The entire cut, from the bones, to the eye and the layers of fat, give rise to a cut of meat that is amazing delicious and expensive.  I love prime rib roasts, which are often my go-to recipe when I entertain.  (I almost never buy the entire seven bones of the roast, which is a lot of meat and very expensive.  I usually go with a roast that is about 3 bones or, at most, 4 bones).

Take away the bones, you have a large central muscle that runs through the roast, which is the ribeye roast.  For some reason, it is easier to find ribeye roasts than it is to find standing rib roasts.  My beautiful Angel recently bought a ribeye roast for me to cook or smoke.  I have been wanting to smoke a standing rib or ribeye roast for quite a while, so this presented an opportunity for a little experimentation and education.

A few months ago, I bought a book called Prime: The Complete Prime Rib Cookbook.  I have been wanting to use this cookbook and the ribeye roast presented the perfect opportunity.  The cookbook has a recipe for a smoked prime rib.  The recipe calls for the use of a standing rib roast.  While I did not have that roast, I decided to adapt the recipe for a ribeye roast.  I jettisoned the instructions for handling the bones and tying the roast with fresh herbs.   I also modified the instructions for the rubs, developing a two part rub based upon what I had in my spice drawer.  The first rub part is just freshly grounded black pepper and kosher salt.  The second part is a mixture of ground and dried herbs, with some ground onion and minced garlic.  

Recipe adapted from John Whalen, 
Prime: The Complete Prime Rib Cookbook, pg. 108-109
Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients (for the rib roast):
1 ribeye roast (about 4 pounds)
1/8 cup of extra olive oil (plus more if necessary)
2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of sea salt or Kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1/2 tablespoon granulated onion powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
3 chunks of hickory, oak or mesquite chunks

Ingredients (for the au jus):
1 cup dry red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Coarsely ground black pepper
Fresh sea salt.

1.  Prepare the rib roast.  About two days before the smoke, combine the salt and black pepper in a small bowl.  Apply the rub to the roast, making sure that the rub covers the entire roast.  Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

2.  Continue to prepare the rib roast.  In a small bowl, combine the minced garlic, dried thyme, dried rosemary and onion powders with the olive oil.  Add a little more oil to get the desired consistency if necessary.  Generously massage the meat with the garlic and herb rub so that it clings to the cap of the rib roast.

3.  Prepare the grill.  Prepare the fire to feature both direct and indirect heat with an average low temperature of about 300 degrees.  You'll wan tot make sure that you have a strong foundational layer of coals so that you can easily maintain the heat and smoke as you grill your prime rib.  While you prepare the grill, add the hickory or maple wood chips or chunks. 

5.  Smoke the roast.  When the fire is ready, at about 300 degrees with the coals lightly covered with ash, place the rib roast over the direct heat of the grill and sear each side, including the ends, for about 2 to 3 minutes each.  Transfer the rib roast over the direct heat and flip the rib roast to meat side up.  Take a handful of wood chips and throw them over the flame.  Cover the grill, aligning the air vent away from the fame so that the smoke pillows around the rib roast, and begin slowly roasting about 3 to 4 hours until the rib roast is charred and an instant thermometer reads 125 degrees.  For the first 3 hours of the grilling process, distribute handfuls of the hickory or maple wood chips about every 30 minutes or so.

6.  Prepare the au jus.  Combine the wine and broth and heat over medium low heat.  Whisk the butter.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

7.  Finish the dish.  Remove the rib roast from the grill and transfer to a large carving board.  Let stand for 10 minutes before carving, allowing the meat to properly store its juices.  


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Tugboat Brewing, R.I.P.

The year was 2007.  That was the first time I visited Tugboat Brewing Company.  I had traveled to the city of Portland, Oregon for work.  That work guaranteed that I would be in Portland for a few days.  After I finished my work, I would return to my hotel, the Benson, and take some time to think about what I would do for dinner and a drink.  The drink was almost always a pint of craft beer.  

I knew of Rogue Ales and I visited its Portland taproom.  I learned about Deschutes Brewing and ate at its brewpub.  I enjoyed both of those breweries,  their food, and their beers.  But, if one were to ask which Portland brewery was the most memorable, my response would have been Tugboat Brewing Company, with its slogan: Small. Powerful. Hardworking. 

The brewery opened in 1989 in a small hole in the wall on S. Ankeny Street.  One block up, turn left.  I remember the little storefront, with the neon sign.  I opened the door and was greeted by cigarette smoke.  It was thick.  It hung in the air, just as naturally as the books that lined the shelves on the wall.  Straight ahead was the bar, with the handles.  There were about half a dozen Tugboat handles, which was quite a feat for a brewery that had enough equipment to brew only one beer at a time.  The rest of the handles were "guest beers" from other breweries, both local and distant.  I was not there for the guest beers.  I was there for the beers that embodied the brewery.  Small.  Powerful.  Hardworking.  

I walked up to the bar, where there would be one or two other people sitting.  I ordered a Tugboat beer and tried to relax. I spent the time trying to forget about the work that brought me to Portland, while thinking about what I could do with my free time.  And, in between all of that, I kept thinking about how this small brewery kept going.  Pint after pint.  Day after day.  Year after year.  Until the end of August 2017.  

I'll be honest.  I don't remember the names of any of Tugboat beers.  I cannot describe any of the beers for you as I write this post. After all, it has been several years since I have been to Portland, Oregon. However, I can say that the beers were very good.  How do I know that?  The answer is simple: every time that I visited the City of Roses (Portland), I made a visit to Tugboat Brewing, sat down at the bar, and had a couple of beers.   

Recently, my parents were traveling through Portland.  I asked them to stop by Tugboat to buy me a new hat.  (The hat I bought on one of my trips was getting old.)  That's when I learned of the news.  Tugboat Brewing had closed its doors.  The issues had nothing to do with the brewery itself, but with the other tenants in the building.  Still, it is sad to lose a little spot where I gained some memories. I hope that the owners of Tugboat Brewing decide to revive their little brewery.  If they do, I'll make my way back to Portland.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Old Westminster Alius (2015)

When my beautiful Angel, Clare, and I visited Old Westminster Winery a couple of years ago, we heard people talking about an orange wine named Alius.  We asked about that wine.  Everyone said, "you have to try the Alius, but, it is so popular that you have to wait for it to come and even then it is only available to wine club members."  Well, needless to say, we became wine club members (not because of the orange wine, but because Old Westminster's other wines are very good).

Eventually, we were able to get a bottle of Alius and we recently opened it.  According to the winemakers, Alius is named after the Latin word meaning "something different."

The name fits the wine.  The Alius has been described as an "orange wine."  The color, texture and tannins come from the maceration process.  This is the process where the skin of the grapes comes in contact with the juice.   In the case of the Alius, the grapes are Pinot Gris and were grown on a rocky hillside in northern Maryland.  After the maceration, the wine was fermented with native yeast in stainless steel.  At the end of the process, the winemakers at Old Westminster Winery bottled 63 cases on April 25, 2016. 

The Alius pours an orangish hue as advertised.  The pictures really do not portray the wine's color very well.  The orangish hues had some amber and tangerine notes, depending upon the light. 

As the wine sits in the glass, there are notes of peach, pear and white nectarine in the area of the Alius.  Some of these notes carry through to the taste of the wine.  There is some tartness at the beginning, but as the wine opens and warms, the tartness recedes and the fruit flavors -- especially the white nectarine -- open up more.  The fruit becomes more mellow, with melon and honey notes becoming more present. 

The Alius is definitely an interesting wine, and, as it opened, it was a very enjoyable wine as well. This wine is available only to wine club members of Old Westminster Winery.


Sunday, September 17, 2017

Broiled Lamb Hearts with Salsa Verde and Fresh Chickpea Salad

If you are looking for an economical cut of meat that is still very tasty, then you have to look no further than lamb heart.  At about $4.99 a pound (give or take a few cents or a dollar),  as compared to $9.99 or even $19.99 for other more popular cuts of lamb or beef, it is definitely worth a try.  The only thing is that you have to look very hard to find lamb hearts.  The average grocery store does not stock them.

Fortunately, I have found lamb hearts on occasion at a certain large grocery store that just happened to merge with an online behemoth.  I have cooked with this ingredient twice before.  My first dish was Khalyat Alkadba Wal Galoob (Fried Heart and Liver), which is a Libyan dish I prepared in connection with my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  The second dish was Cuore di Agnello Brasata al Chianti (Lamb Hearts Braised in Chianti).  Both dishes were very good and have always left me wanting more.  

During a recent trip to said large grocery store soon to be owned by even larger online behemoth, I saw that it had lamb hearts.  I decided to buy them and try a more simpler preparation.  I was not going to prepare them in an ethnic style (although I did give that a thought for a moment).  I was not going to do anything fancy with a bottle of wine.  Instead, I decided that I would broil the hearts and try to find different ways to add contrasting and complementing flavors.  

I found a recipe for broiling lamb hearts on LiveStrong, which had a preparatory step that I did not know.  The recipe called for placing the lamb hearts in a bowl of salted water.  In other words, to do a brine.  The recipe did not provide any time limits for the brining of the lamb hearts.  I was also working only with slightly over a half of a pound of meat, as opposed to a twelve pound turkey.  So, I decided that, at most, a half an hour in the brine.  That half of an hour made an incredible difference.  Once cooked the meat was far more tender than my previous attempts and a little more flavorful.  After trying this preparation, I would strongly recommend a brief brine for lamb hearts because it will pay off in the end. 

Still, I only had lamb heart.  I needed something to go with that meat.  I pulled out my cookbooks and surfed the Internet until I came across two recipes from Michael Symon, the well-known chef who hails from Cleveland (which is also my hometown).  One recipe was for a salsa verde, which I thought would go well over the broiled lamb heart.  The recipe was for a Fresh Chick Pea Salad, which made a great side dish.  Both sides are very easy to make and helped to round out a complete meal. 

Now, I know most people are already turned off by the lamb hearts.  Unfortunately, we have been raised to only think about steak, like ribeyes, strip steaks, or burgers.  The supposedly more adventurous think about lamb shanks and rack of lamb.  But, it is in these often overlooked cuts of meat where one can find some true culinary joy. 

Lamb heart recipe adapted from Live Strong
Salsa Verde and Fresh Chick Pea Salad from Cooking Channel

Ingredients (for the lamb):
1/2 pound of lamb heart
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of sherry vinegar
Ground pepper

Ingredients (for the salsa verde):
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
1 salt packed anchovy (or a teaspoon anchovy paste)
2 tablespoon salt-packed capers
Pinch red chile flakes
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 cup chiffonade fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chiffonade
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Freshly cracked black pepper
Kosher salt

Ingredients (for the chick pea salad):
3 cups fresh chickpeas, shelled
1/2 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 Fresno chile (or a Cubanelle or Anaheim chile)
Freshly cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly picked flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly picked mint leaves

1.  Prepare the lamb hearts.  Use kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to remove as much fat and connective tissue from the surface of the lamb heart as possible.  Rinse the heart and place it in a bowl of cold water mixed with a pinch of salt.  Preheat the broiler.  Combine the oil and vinegar and whisk together.

2.  Prepare the salsa verde.  In a medium bowl, add the garlic, shallot, anchovy, capers, red chile flakes, chile, lemon zest (save juice for later), mint and parsley.  Save the lemon juice just until serving  - this will help prevent the herbs from turning a dark unappealing color.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.  Set aside.  Do not salt now.  Allow the flavors to come together.  

3.  Prepare the chickpea salad.  Put a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil, season with salt and add the chickpeas.  Allow to blanch for about 10 to 15 seconds.  Add the shallots and chile to a medium bowl.  Drain the chickpeas and add to the shallots and chile.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.  Toss in the parsley and mint leave.  Taste and season if needed.

4.  Broil the lamb hearts.  Remove the heart and pat dry with towels.  Put on a broiler pan.  Brush with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place under the broiler for about 3 minutes.  Flip the hearts and brush the other side with the olive oil/vinegar mixture.  Continue to cook for 3 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the broiler and let rest for 3 minutes.  

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