Koji Steak and Crunchy Cheesy Potatoes

 

After the previous success with the Koji rice marinated steak we wanted to try another to see if it is repeatable. The answer in short is that- It Is! The rib steak was coated with seasonings and the slightly crushed Koji Rice  and placed in a bag in the fridge for 3 days this time.  It was removed and the rice scraped off and placed in a vacuum bag for the Sous Vide cooking. Given that this was a nearly 2″ thick piece we went for 4 hours at 130F.  After this it was tossed on the blazing hot charcoal for 90 sec per side and brought in to rest.

Meanwhile there were leftovers to improve. One of our family holiday staples is cheesy potato casserole. Teal makes the potatoes chunky rather than sliced and this is good. I enjoy the crunchy edges but there never seems to be enough.   Given that Teal made an extra large batch for Christmas I had plenty of left-overs but few edges. So what to do?  Here I take a hint from Grandma’s Polenta left-overs.

The potatoes and sauce set up rather firm in the fridge. It was actually sliceable (like cold polenta).    Slice into 1/2 to 3/4″ slabs.  Next they need to be coated:

  • 1 c corn chex – crushed (in your hands)
  • 2/3 c shredded cheese

Mix the 2 together well.

Place the slabs of potato casserole on the Chex & Cheese mix and press into the coating on both sides.

Place in preheated skillet with butter that has already browned and then brown the potato mix on wn both sides. Serve with the steak (or have as a meal all on its own).

 

 

Basement sink area remodel

When we built the house I had a utility sink put in the basement shop. It has served well over the years but the lack of a counter-top and ugly old file cabinets for tool storage coupled with being a cold area in the winter due to the walls being half exposed, it was time for a remodel.   This area is under our dinette. The space is also used for paint / finish storage, metal lathe and some lumber storage.

The new area had to have a large sink – big enough for brew kettles, fermenters and kegs.  Dual faucets – one high reach for cleaning and a second with garden hose connection for an immersion cooler for brewing.  Solid surface counter top and storage that looks nice were also required.

First step was to pull the sink, remove the old file cabinets and storage shelves. Next the two walls were covered with plastic vapor barrier, framed in, electrical roughed in, plumbing roughed in with the valves installed (needed to have the water back on), insulation installed and the dry wall done.  Pretty basic stuff.

Now the fun began. The starting point was the sink, a 36″ Ruvati farm house stainless was ordered. A high arch Kohler faucet was found on sale and the Kohly utility sink faucet was ordered. FOr utility faucets, you need to check that they are NSF approved for drinking water – many are not.    A trip to the Baraboo Habitat for Humanity Restore provided the quartz counter top pieces.  Birch plywood was procured for the cabinetry and I had some maple lumber already on hand for the face frame and the edges of the planned shaker style doors and drawer faces.

Cabinet walls are 3/4 ” birch plywood. These were screwed and shimmed to the end walls and the intermediate pieces were placed to allow for a 5-6″ counter lip to the left of the sink and approximately equal sized ranks of drawers to the right of the sink.

Using pocket screws the assembly goes quickly. I just have the Kreg mini jig and their clamp (which is very nice). A few of the pocket holes had to be done with the jig held by hand. Using double stick carpet tape on the back of the jig helps tremendously.

First test with the sink.   The braces need to be moved so that the sink ends up 1/4″ or so under the counter top to allow the top to be installed and pieces epoxied together. The braces are held up by blocks screwed to the cabinet sides. This allows for easy adjustment and is very secure without the need for fancy joinery. The braces rest on the blocks and have a couple of pocket screws to prevent twisting under load

The day I had to cut and polish the top and edges was miserable: 35 dropping to 31 degrees, drizzle turned to rain and then snow as I was outside wet sawing and wet grinding and polishing the edges. I came afterwards in a soaked and frozen popsicle.  Paul came and helped lift the larger piece into place.  The faucet and soap dispenser holes were cut in the back piece prior to installation.  The 3 pieces were glued with thick 30 minute epoxy.  Below you can see the counter top installed, glued in place. Next the top joints were ground and polished flush.

Next the sink was inserted (I could have left a bit more room). Clear silicone was applied to the top lip of the sink and then it was wedged upwards into position. The backsplash is made of marble mosaic tiles (another close out special). Marble has the advantage of having finished edges unlike many mosaic tiles.

The drawers are simple plywood boxes with drawer lock joints. This is a fast, strong and easy way to make the drawers and all you need is a table saw.  Below is a close up of one of the joints.  

The drawers are mounted to full extension K&V slides. I added spacer blocks on the inside of the cabinet so the slides would clear the face frame. This was far less expensive than the special face frame brackets for the slides would have been, plus I did not have a plywood back on the cabinets which is needed for the rear brackets if they are used.  Drawers are  8, 10 and 11″ tall allowing room for power tool storage.

Shaker style doors are easy to make on the table saw. All of the pieces get a 3/8″ deep dado and the rails get 3/8″ tenons on the ends. The plywood panels are also glued in place in a few spots adding to the rigidity. 

Finish is 3 coats of satin water based polyurethane that was brushed on.   Tools are in the drawers and the space is ready for the next batch of beer.

 

Steak+Koji+SousVide=YUM

I have been doing more research and some of the concepts seem to be a bit more than my wife is likely to handle. However I bought a copy of the “Noma Guide to Fermentation” and it brings forth many great ideas; as should a cookbook from a restaurant that has been ranked one of the best in the world a few times. One top of that as I have been digging around in the University of YouTube searching for ideas, I came across a video on Koji Sous Vide Steak.  While the video is a bit obnoxious, I liked the idea and ordered some Koji Rice on Amazon. It is made by: http://www.isesou.co.jp/kouji/index.shtml

I broke off  1/4 of one of the packages and ran it through the blender to break it up.   I should have worn a face mask, as the dust / spores rose up as I took the lid off, even after letting it settle a couple of minutes. The koji rice has a pleasant sweet flavor as is.

The roughly broken rice grains were then applied to the steak. I had a 3 lb rib-eye with bone (a good 3″ thick).  Once the rice was applied on all sides, it was zip lock bagged and placed in the fridge  for 48 hours (no need for vacuum bag at this point).  It was turned every 8-12 hours, but this does not seem necessary.

 

After 48 hours it was ready for seasoning and sous vide cooking. The rice was scraped off with a chef’s knife. I was wary of undue flavors (for Teal) . Besides at the end of the sous vide cooking, it goes on the charcoal for browning and the rice would get in the way of that. So the rice was scraped off and discarded (maybe another use would be good next time).  However there is is a pleasant roasted/toasted rice aroma added to the beef aroma – very nice. Now it was time for the Sous Vide cooking at 130F for 4.5 hours with Teal’s favorite spice blend — Penzey’s Barbecue of the America’s.

At the end of the sous vide cook, it was removed from the bag, drained and dried with paper towels. At this point, it still looks bland.  The grill was already pre-heated with a pile of lump hardwood charcoal and blazing hot.  The steak was then placed directly on the charcoal (no need for a grate) and moved every 20-30 seconds.  After 90 seconds, it was flipped and again moved every 20-30 seconds. With a hot fire, like this, the fat renders off fast and I did not need to do the edges. However, if your fire is not “burning the hair off of your knuckles hot” then you may need to also stand the roast on edge to get the edges nicely done as well.

Overall, it is a great success. The meat is superbly tender and the added flavor is both mild and welcome.  Not bad for $6.99 / lb rib roast Christmas special . There is a faint aroma of toasted rice added to the meat. This is actually really a nice added fragrance and made it harder to wait for the whole 10 minute hold time after pulling from the grill, before slice and serve. So how are you going to make moldy rice and beef?  This is a great excuse to expand your family’s horizons with new foods.