My family has just left. I’m exhausted. I’ve been cleaning and cooking since about 11 AM this morning. Though I did my baking last night.
One of the butcher shops in the area where I get meat and chicken from regularly has grass fed beef short ribs for a reasonable price. Since my brother, sister in law, twelve year old twin nephews (begun, the clone war, has), and my Mom were coming, I bought two cryovac packs of the beef short ribs. Which is four racks of three ribs each. And I smoked them. Except for one rack, which I did in the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit because the Mominator doesn’t eat smoked meat, chicken, turkey, etc. I also made latkes. The Mominator made her arugula and beet salad with goat cheese and avocado. And I made a no sugar added, sweetened only with agave pecan pie cheese cake. Pictures of everything but the salad below because I didn’t get a chance to take one before people started dishing it out. Once I hit publish, I’m going to collapse. And it has been raining steadily since last night, so I had to do this on the enclosed and screened in back patio, which is why my house smells like BBQ pit.
Here’s the rack of ribs that I did in the oven. They’ve, as well as the other three racks, been minimally prepped. I removed the silver skin, then liberally kosher salted and freshly cracked black peppered the four racks. Then I wrapped them in paper towels, sealed them up in a very large tupperware tub, and left them in the fridge to form a pelicule for 48 hours. What you see below is how the meat looked just before going in the oven and on the grill. You can see the other racks wrapped up behind it just waiting to go out.
And here are the other racks just placed on the grill and before I put the lid down.
I don’t have a dedicated smoker, so I did the 60/40 approach. Or 70/30. The coals went on the far right near the bottom vent, once they’d burned almost to white the apple wood chunks went on. The ribs went on the rest of the grill with an aluminum pan full of water below it to help moderate the heat, keep everything moist, and catch drippings. I inserted a wired, probe thermometer into the deepest portion of the largest rack, then I dropped the lid, adjusted the air vents, and let them smoke slowly at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. From about 1 PM to 5:30 PM.
They came out perfect!
Smoky, juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked!
I modified the latke recipe I learned from my Dad a bit. First, I made sure not to include any knuckle blood from grating my hands instead of the potatoes on the box grater! Then, instead of grating all the potatoes, I grated half and boiled and mashed half. I then mixed the mashed and grated potatoes with one large onion diced finely, salt and pepper to taste, and let the mixture sit in the fridge covered for about an hour before I made the latkes. I pan fried them in about a 1/4 inch of oil in a high sided 12 inch diameter pan on the stovetop.
Here’s the mixture pre latke formation:
And here’s the first batch frying in the pan:
And here’s a beef rib and some latkes all plated up:
Finally, we have the cheesecake. The crust is made with Kedem vanilla tea biscuits, which have very little sugar (it was about the least amount I could find that didn’t have sugar alcohols). I ground up one package, mixed it with melted butter, and formed it into the cheesecake crust/base. The cheesecake is just my standard cheesecake recipe, with one modification – no white sugar. Instead I used half a cup of agave. The recipe is below.
3 8 ounce packages of cream cheese.
8 ounces of sour cream
Vanilla to taste
1/2 cup of dark brown agave (add more if you want it a bit sweeter). And if you don’t have an issue with sugar, just use one cup of white sugar.
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a spring form pan. Whip the cream cheese and the eggs together one package of cream cheese and one egg at a time until combined and smooth. Add the sour cream and whip until incorporated and smooth. Add the vanilla and the agave and whip until incorporated and smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
For this cheesecake, I wanted something a bit different. And since I didn’t get to make or have pecan pie on Thanksgiving as my Thanksgiving this year was whacked (don’t ask, I did a good deed for someone, but it meant I got none of the traditional foods, and I wasn’t feeling particularly well either), I decided to pecan pie my cheesecake. In a high sided sauté pan I melted a stick of unsalted butter. Then I added agave to taste and brought it to a boil. I then added 3/4 of a cup of heavy whipping cream, whisked everything together, and added a cup and a half of pecans. Stirring the entire time to both thoroughly coat the pecans and to keep the pan caramel from scorching. Once everything was turning golden brown, I took it off the heat, arranged the candied pecans on top of the crust, poured the cheesecake batter on top, and then swirled the warm caramel into the cheesecake batter. Once that was done, it went right into the oven for an hour. At the end of the hour I turned the oven off, cracked the oven door open, and let the cheesecake cool in the oven for an hour. The third hour it spent cooling on the counter and then when that hour was up it went into the fridge. The pictures are below. And before someone from NoLa (cough, lamh, cough) says something, yes, this is more like a pecan praline cheesecake than a pecan pie cheesecake.
Here’s the pecans and caramel setting up:
And here are the candied pecans layered on the pie crust:
The batter in the pan with the caramel swirled in:
The cheesecake ready for serving:
And, finally, a slice of the cheesecake!
If I had to do one thing differently, and I will for next time, it is that I’m going to lightly chop the pecans and swirl them into the cheesecake with the caramel rather than layer them on the bottom. That one issue aside, it tasted amazing! You’d never know there was no white sugar in it.
So everyone who celebrates have a happy and healthy Hanukkah! If I don’t do a post tomorrow, I’ll be covering on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as I won’t be celebrating, but I am going for Thai food.
I’m exhausted, so I’m going to crash. Though not quite this tired!
I may or may not check into the comments later.