HalibutDid you know that Salmon is not the only fish that has a season?
Halibut season runs from mid-March thru early November and is just as anticipated by some people as the wild salmon season—or for those of us in the SF Bay Area, Dungeness crab season.

Halibut is more often than not sold as fillets but every once in a while you get lucky and can find steaks. Your best bet for cooking methods include: panfrying, braising, poaching, and adding to soups and stews. Grilling is not recommended unless you are using steaks because the fillets will fall apart.

There are three different species of Halibut (Family Pleuronectidae).

Atlantic Halibut
The Atlantic Halibut is the largest flatfish in the world. They have been known to reach up to fifteen feet in length. The largest catch ever recorded weighed almost 700 pounds! In the past, the Atlantic halibut population had been considered endangered due to over-fishing. Careful oversight and regulation have now changed that, though population levels are still below target numbers. Nonetheless, Atlantic halibut is considered a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed.

Pacific Halibut
Pacific halibut is not as large as it’s Atlantic cousin but it comes close, reaching lengths of eight feet and up to 500 pounds. Found most commonly in the north Pacific in the waters off the coast of Alaska, Pacific halibut is widely prized for its great tasting meat that stands up to strong ?? It is also a favorite of sport fishermen vacationing in Alaska. Due to careful management, Pacific halibut populations are healthy which makes it a frequent choice of restaurants and consumers alike.

California Halibut
The smallest species of halibut typically only weighing from 6 to 30 pounds although they can grow up to five feet long and weigh up to 72 pounds. Also known as California flounder, it’s mild flavor and large flakes make it a versatile choice for cooking. They are fished commercially year round but recreational fisherman can have their fun from May to November.

If you are planning to try some fresh halibut, here is a favorite recipe.

Thai-Style Halibut with Coconut-Curry Broth Recipe
Adapted from Ellie Krieger and The Food Network
Yields 4 servings Read more…

Corned Beef

Corned beef and cabbage is the quintessential food of St. Patrick’s Day. However, much like our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, the tradition of corned beef for your holiday dinner is an American invention and was not brought over from Ireland.

But what exactly is corned beef?
The process of “corning” meat is actually just salt curing or pickling. The word corning is used in reference to the size of the salt grains. They were typically as big as kernels of corn. Therefore, Corned Beef is just pickled beef, usually a brisket.

Historically, the Irish people considered beef to be a luxury that was not often eaten. And, instead they would turn to ham or bacon for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. It wasn’t until Irish immigrants arrived in America where beef was actually cheaper and more readily available that corned beef became the staple. The same is true for cabbage. It was the most economical vegetable available and therefore became the obvious choice as an accompaniment.

The preparation of corned beef is not without controversy. Typically, corned beef is made using sodium nitrate to help prevent the growth of bacteria. It is also what gives corned beef its distinctive pink color. Some in the medical profession believe that sodium nitrate can cause damage to the blood vessels which can lead to heart disease. Others conclude it is harmless and that a person can consume more nitrates through other foods like spinach and celery. The debate continues on. But, ultimately the choice is up to you. Frankly leaving out the sodium nitrate, or salt peter as it is also known, can make it easier to corn your own beef as salt peter can be difficult to find. The flavor results are the same.

Corning your own beef is a great way to control what ingredients are used. But, beware that you will need to plan ahead. The brisket, or whatever meat you choose, will need to sit in the brine for multiple days.

Nitrate-Free Corned Beef Recipe
From adapted from Michael Symon’s Carnivore
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…


CharcuterieCharcuterie is a word that is thrown around a lot but do you really know what it is?
Most people assume that charcuterie refers to salami and other similar foods. This is basically correct but actual charcuterie refers to so much more.

Charcuterie is a French term for the art of cooking devoted to prepared meats—though the practice is not limited to just the French. Every culture on the planet has their own version. This includes bacon, ham, sausages, pâtés, and confits. These preparations are primarily made with pork but include a whole range of other domestic and game meats. Salami, salumi, smoked meats, brined meats, rillets, jerky and even olives are considered charcuterie.

The practice of charcuterie was born out of necessity to preserve meats to keep them edible. In the case of sausage, it was also a way to use parts of the animal that would otherwise be wasted. Over the centuries, what was once a necessary chore evolved into an art form that produced a product with a wide variety of amazing flavors.

There are a number of categories that make up the foods of a traditional charcuterie. The following are just a few:

Probably the most recognizable and popular charcuterie but confusing since most people don’t understand the difference.

Salumi is the process of preserving and salting cured meat which traditionally means pork. The major muscles of the pig are cured to create meats such as pancetta, prosciutto, and coppa.

Salami is a fermented salt-cured or cooked sausage and is a subset of traditional salumi. Salami is made from a combination of meat, salt, and spices. And, it generally always has 20-30% good pork fat. It is then fermented and dried with a combination of either pure pork, beef, or other meats. After a few days, the fermented meat is dry cured and sometimes lightly smoked.

Forced Meats
Forced meat is any raw meat that has been finely ground and emulsified with fat. The term comes from the French word farcer which means to stuff. Forcemeat is often combined with spices herbs or other ingredients to make sausages, pates, or terrines. There are four kinds of forced meats:

Straight is produced by grinding equal parts pork and pork fat with a third meat—it can be also be pork or another meat. (This is confusing until you actually try it yourself. Then it all makes sense.)

Country-style is known by its more coarse texture, country style forced meat is a combination of pork and pork fat, often with the addition of pork or chicken liver and garnish ingredients. Country Style pate is a great example.

Gratin has some browned meat mixed in with the raw.

Mousseline has a lighter texture and is made from lean cuts of veal, poultry, fish, or shellfish which is then pureed with eggs and cream.

Confit is the process of salting, slow cooking, and sealing meats under a blanket of fat. It comes from the French word confire which means to preserve. In addition to being delicious, confits have benefit of being long keeping and can prevent meat from spoiling. Examples include duck confit or tuna confit which uses olive oil.

Rillettes, a charcuterie staple, are potted meats that can easily be made from shredded confit meats. We have a recipe for Pork Rillettes in our archive which is a fun cooking project. We also carry Groix & Nature Salmon Rillettes at the store.

If you are interested in trying your hand at making your own Charcuterie, we recommend starting with a pâté. This recipe for Country Pâté makes enough to freeze some for later. It will last up to 7 days in the fridge.

Country Pâté
Adapted from Epicurious
Yields 20 servings Read more…

How to Spatchcock a Turkey

How to Spatchcock a TurkeyBecause we’re still living through a pandemic, Thanksgiving is going to be different this year for most us. Many of us who have never cooked a Thanksgiving feast will be trying it for the first time—which can present any number of potential problems. A quick search of recipes for a roasted turkey will give you thousand of options to choose from. But, what do you do if you don’t have 5 hours to prepare it or, more common than you think, a normal-sized turkey won’t fit in your oven?

Roasting a turkey can be scary if you are doing it for the first time because roasting a stuffed turkey can be tricky. You need to roast it long enough that it is actually cooked but not so long that the meat is dried out. It is definitely a balancing act. One of the best ways to combat the challenges, we have found, is to spatchcock your turkey.

Spatchcocking, or butterflying, is a technique often used for cooking chickens but it works equally as well for turkeys. The process is quick and easy, especially if you have some good poultry sheers—which are a great addition to your kitchen arsenal, if you are willing to make the $25 investment. They are useful for more than turkeys.

By spatchcocking your turkey, you will make it easier to fit a larger bird in your oven and you will also cut down on the cooking time considerably. This is where finding a recipe specifically for a butterflied turkey is essential. The one drawback to cooking your bird this way is that you will not be able to cook the stuffing in the cavity of the turkey. For some this can be a deal breaker.

To spatchcock your turkey all you have to do is remove the back bone of the bird. Once you have done that, flip the bird over and press down hard on the breast bone to crack it and to get the turkey to lay flat. Tuck the wing tips underneath and you are now good to go.

See this video from Serious Eats to see how it’s done…