Video: Is Dry-Aged Pork the Future of Steakhouses?

“Pork is generally undervalued,” says Brooklyn-based butcher Brent Young. “It deserves to be on the menu at a steakhouse right next to that New York Strip or your Ribeye.” Ben Turley, his partner at the Meat Hook butcher shop, is in full agreement. With their high opinion of pork, they decide to embark on a dry-aged pork experiment that they believe will result in a steakhouse-level dish.

The experiment involves around a four week dry-age process. “[At four weeks,] you don’t get the funk or umami from [longer] dry-aging, but you do get a really crisp and clear picture from the product you just got from the farm,” explains Ben.

They begin by butchering a half pig from Gibson Family Farms down the loin, and putting it in their aging fridge set between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and 75 to 80% humidity. After four weeks, the color and texture of the meat changes from bright pink to dark red, the loin weighs two pounds less due to a loss of moisture content, and the meat has also pulled away from the bone.

The two compare a fresh piece of pork tenderloin to the dry-aged one, cooking both in butter, garlic, and thyme. For both pieces, they render out the fat and fry it on both sides on medium high heat, and then crank it up to sear. When it comes time for the taste test, they both conclude that the fresh pork tastes simple and clean. When they taste the dry-aged one, they are amazed at how “porky,” it tastes, with fat that melts in their mouths.

“It’s really just a more intensified version of our control,” says Brent. “It’s supremely juicy and supremely tender just because of the dry age. We just gave the pork the time it needed to reach the apex of what it can be.”

Watch video at You Tube (11:47 minutes) . . . . .

In the Virgin Islands, Fungi Tells a Story

Korsha Wilson wrote . . . . . . . . .

At Petite Pump Room, a waterfront restaurant in Charlotte Amalie on the island of St. Thomas, lunchtime usually finds locals and visitors filling the tables and bar, taking in the island’s hills and watching seaplanes take off and land in the harbor from nearby St. Croix.

Since 1970, the Petite Pump Room has been a meeting place, offering a menu of local favorites — stewed conch in butter sauce, fried local snapper with a Creole sauce of tomato and bell peppers — alongside typical fare like sandwiches and salads. But the restaurant’s fungi, a side dish made of hot cornmeal that’s easy to overlook, is cherished by those from the islands but remains unfamiliar to most visitors. “A lot of them will try it once you explain it to them,” said Judy Watson, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Michael Anthony Watson.

Fungi (pronounced foon-GEE), a cooked yellow cornmeal mixture dotted with tender okra and thinned with chunks of butter, is a staple on dinner tables and was once a fixture on restaurant menus across the Virgin Islands.

But it is hard to find at newer restaurants, leaving institutions like Petite Pump Room, De’ Coal Pot on the east side of the island and Gladys’ Cafe in Charlotte Amalie to keep the dish alive on their menus.

Most native Virgin Islanders fondly remember fungi as a part of their childhoods, and as a key element of fish and fungi, a common meal, said Mr. Watson, 59. “We ate it once a week or so growing up, and I’ve always enjoyed it,” he said. “I used to beg my older sister to make it for me.”

But the recipe also represents an important piece of Virgin Islands history. Fungi’s roots extend back to the 18th century when, under colonial rule, food was rationed for enslaved Africans on the islands as part of a 1755 law that required slave owners to provide enslaved persons with corn flour or cassava, as well as salt pork.

In his 1992 book, “Slave Society in the Danish West Indies,” the author and professor Neville A.T. Hall writes that this amount would have been two and a half quarts of cassava or cornmeal per week, a small amount considering the hard labor required during harvest season. To fill in the gaps, enslaved Africans grew their own provisions on land hidden from slave owners. Okra, a key ingredient in West African cooking brought to the Caribbean by the trans-Atlantic slave trade, was likely added to the cornmeal around this time, increasing the dish’s nutritional value, adding an earthy flavor and stretching it into a meal that could feed many.

Preserving this part of Virgin Islands history is important for Julius Jackson, the chef and manager at the cafe and bakery of My Brother’s Workshop, a nonprofit organization that teaches managerial skills and culinary arts in Charlotte Amalie. “When they make it, they usually say their grandparents and the adults in their life eat fungi,” Mr. Jackson said of his students.

The decline in the dish’s popularity isn’t unexpected, as it requires more preparation than other staples like fried plantains or rice and beans. The process of whipping, or “turning” it, is a time-consuming task that prevents lumps and aerates the mixture.

But the appeal of fungi is that it uses few ingredients to create a flavorful accompaniment to a stewed or fried protein.

In the cafe and in Mr. Jackson’s cookbook, “My Modern Caribbean Kitchen,” his recipe for fungi is simplified: Cook the okra until tender before whisking in a steady stream of cornmeal. The goal of his lessons at the cafe — and this simplification — is to encourage a new generation of cooks to make fungi at home.

He serves his fungi in a bowl of kallaloo, a hot soup made with spinach, pork and seafood, similar to the Nigerian dish efo riro. In teaching younger cooks about recipes like fungi, he hopes to illustrate how many Caribbean dishes are linked directly to West Africa. “There’s so much history in our food that tells our story, and I can actually show them that,” Mr. Jackson said.

As more restaurants specializing in global cuisines arrive on the island, traditional dishes have become harder to come by. But that doesn’t mean they should disappear completely, said Digby Stridiron, a chef who grew up on St. Croix. “If there’s a restaurant here that does traditional food, they should serve fungi,” he said. “Just like you see jerk in Jamaica or roti in Trinidad, because that’s what we eat here.”

Mr. Stridiron is in the process of opening a restaurant on St. Thomas and believes that one way to preserve fungi may be to modernize it. For his menu, he wants to source high-quality cornmeal from producers like Anson Mills as well as dehydrated okra pods to enhance the flavor as they are cooked with the cornmeal.

“The islands are a transitional place where people are coming together and leaving their mark through food,” he said. “It’s always evolving. As chefs, it’s our responsibility to keep dishes alive and innovate them, while getting to the root of the dish and not losing sight of the flavor and the concept.”

Source: The New York Times

What’s for Lunch?

Mackerel with Miso Sauce Set Meal at Ootoya in Tokyo, Japan

The price is 810 yen (plus tax).

Are You Taking a Med That’s Raising Your Blood Pressure?

Amy Norton wrote . . . . . . . . .

Nearly one in five Americans with high blood pressure use medications that can cause blood pressure to spike, a preliminary study shows.

The researchers said the findings are concerning, given how many people have difficulty controlling their high blood pressure.

“A large number of Americans are not meeting their blood pressure goals,” said lead researcher Dr. John Vitarello, an internal medicine resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston.

This study points to medications as one possible culprit. Vitarello said doctors and patients should be aware of that.

Looking at data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), Vitarello’s team found that about one-fifth of Americans with high blood pressure were using medications that can raise those numbers.

The most commonly implicated drugs were antidepressants; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve); and steroid medications used to dampen inflammation and immune activity in conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, or after an organ transplant.

Asked whether doctors usually caution high blood pressure patients about such medications, Vitarello said “it’s probably not happening enough.”

He said a key takeaway is that doctors should regularly review which medications patients are using.

For their part, people with high blood pressure should keep track of their readings at home, Vitarello said. If their numbers are not under control, he added, it’s worth asking their doctor whether any other medications they take could be a factor.

In some cases an alternative might be possible, Vitarello suggested, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) in place of an NSAID, for example.

In fact, acetaminophen should be the painkiller of choice for people with high blood pressure, said Dr. Eugene Yang, chairman of the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease Council for the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

Cold and allergy remedies are other medications to be wary of, said Yang, who is also a professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Those remedies may contain stimulant decongestants, like pseudoephedrine, which can constrict blood vessels. So people with high blood pressure should avoid products that contain a stimulant, Yang said.

For the study, Vitarello’s team looked at data from the ongoing NHANES project that interviewed a nationally representative sample of more than 27,000 U.S. adults between 2009 and 2018.

Just under half had high blood pressure, using the current definition of 130/80 mm Hg or higher. (In 2017, the ACC and American Heart Association changed their definition of high blood pressure, lowering it from the old threshold of 140/90 mm Hg.)

Overall, 19% of people with the condition were using a medication that can hike blood pressure. The researchers estimated that if half of Americans in that category were to stop taking one culprit medication, an additional 560,000 to 2.2 million people might get their blood pressure under control.

Yang cautioned that it’s not clear how many Americans could get their blood pressure under control simply by stopping a medication.

What’s more, he said, many of the drugs people were using — like antidepressants or steroids — may be necessary.

“We’re not telling patients they can’t take these medications,” Yang stressed.

Instead, he said, “we treat the high blood pressure.”

That might mean upping the dose of a current blood pressure medication or adding an additional one.

Lifestyle is also key, Yang said. The general advice is to follow a healthy diet low in salt and rich in fruits and vegetables; get regular exercise; don’t smoke; limit alcohol; and maintain a healthy weight.

Vitarello was scheduled to present the findings at the ACC’s annual meeting, being held online May 15 to 17. Research reported at meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Source: HealthDay

Baskin-Robbins Launched a New Oat-based Ice Cream in Canada

Emily Holloway wrote . . . . . . . . .

Baskin-Robbins Canada is the first ice cream chain in the country to offer an oat milk-based option. Following the release of their first non-dairy flavour last year – Chocolate Extreme, which was made with an almond base – this new flavour is Non-Dairy Strawberry Streusel, featuring sumptuous streusel pieces and cinnamon-y granola that are complemented by a tart strawberry ribbon.

“We’ve been working very hard to find the best possible plant-based options,” says Natalie Joseph, spokesperson for Baskin-Robbins Canada. “Offering a wide diversity of flavours has been an important part of our DNA for the past 75 years–50 in Canada–since we started selling ice cream. I’m sure this new flavour will have many customers swirling in delight thanks to its fruity, fresh and creamy taste.”

Source: Eat North