Select Page
A Review of Joule by Chef Steps: Sous Vide Cooking Made Easy

A Review of Joule by Chef Steps: Sous Vide Cooking Made Easy

First, for those who may not be familiar with sous vide cooking (pronounced “sue-veed”), Sous Vide is a French term that describes cooking food in a sealed bag, immersed in water that is kept in the exact temperature that you set. This means steak is never over cooked, chicken is always tender, and salmon is always perfectly succulent. Needless to say, it’s a pretty awesome way to cook a whole host of foods and once mastered can really step up your cooking game. In the past, cooking sous vide required either a large expensive piece of restaurant equipment or a complicated stove top set up involving thermometers and constant heat management. However, in the last few years, a number of small home sous vide cookers have come to market and I received one of those, the Joule by Chef Steps, as a Christmas gift and have since been putting it through its paces.

The Basics: The Joule is a sleek little piece of equipment. It’s the smallest sous vide device on the market and its styling would lead you to believe it was made by Apple. Not only does its small size make it easy to store and transport, it also makes it take up very little space in a cooking vessel meaning you can use a regular pot or pan, no special bins required. The entire unit is waterproof, so no worries about ruining it if you overfill a pot. The unit is supported by a magnetic rubberized foot for use in metal pans and a sturdy metal clip for when you decide to go plastic. As far as controls go, the actual unit only has one button and a single LED. The rest of Joule’s functions are controlled wirelessly using your smartphone and an easy to use, helpful app. The app handles all the heavy lifting as far as time and temperature settings and even features video representations of how your food should turn out. joule3

My Review: First, to be completely honest, the Joule is my first experience with a sous vide cooking device.That being said, this thing is awesome. So far I have cooked salmon, steaks, and pork loins. The salmon turned out perfectly pink and juicy and was some of the best salmon I have ever had. The pork loins, of which we were able to cook 4 at once in a single pan with a single Joule and then finish with a quick sear on a gas grill, turned out juicy and succulent and was the hit of our New Year’s party. Getting a steak done to your perfect temperature couldn’t be easier. Just set everything up with a few taps on the Joule app, then when the steak is done cooking with Joule give it a quick sear for 90 seconds or so on each side to give it a great crust. Joule is definitely a great new weapon in my culinary arsenal and I am really excited to see what I can cook next with it.

The Final Verdict: With a small, tough design and an easy to use app that is constantly being updated with cool new features by Chefsteps, I have to say Joule is a definitely a great buy! Want one for yourself? Check them out here!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

I have always pitied anyone who has found a belief system that prevents them from eating pork. There are just too many amazing things that come from the pig. For me, bacon alone is enough to make me call a number of religions and ways of life asinine. That being said this recipe elevates the lowly baked pork chop to something almost godly. Filled with mushroom, garlic and cheese, and slathered in a wine and cream sauce this dish is crazy good. Give it a try, I hope you love it!

Mushroom Stuffed Pork Chops with Marsala Wine Sauce

4 bone-in pork chops, each about an inch thick, 2.5-3lbs total weight

8 oz cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 large shallots, minced

8 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1 tsp fresh thyme

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups Marsala wine

1 cup heavy cream

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large skillet up to medium high heat. To the skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the shallots, garlic, mushrooms, and red pepper flakes. Cook until everything has softened and the mushrooms have begun to brown. Next, season with salt and pepper and add in the thyme. Cook the mushroom mixture for about another 5-10 minutes, or until the mixture has lost most of moisture and has browned a bit. Remove the pan from the heat, and with a slotted spoon remove the mushroom mixture and allow it to cool. Reserve the skillet with all of its drippings; we will use it later. Next cut a large pocket into each of your four pork chops. The pocket should be large enough to receive a fair amount of filling, but be sure not to cut all the way through the chop. To the cooled stuffing, add in the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Stuff each of the four chops with 1/4 of the mushroom stuffing and seal the opening with toothpicks. In the skillet from earlier, add in an extra 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and bring it up to medium high heat. Sear the pork chops on each side until just golden brown and then transfer them to your preheated 400 degree oven. Cook until just done, about 15 minutes. When the chops are done remove them from the pan to a plate and cover with foil. While the chops are resting, deglaze the skillet with the Marsala wine. Let the wine reduce by half, then cut the heat back to low. Stir in the heavy cream. Return the chops to the pan to coat with sauce and heat through. Enjoy!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out our store here.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

How to Make Japanese Golden Curry- The YouTube Edition

How to Make Japanese Golden Curry- The YouTube Edition

I love Japanese golden curry. It’s one of my favorite dishes. In fact, I enjoy it so much that this is my second post about it. If you are interested in rereading the original post you can get to it by clicking here, but you are definitely going to want to make this recipe instead of the old one. With the amount of times I have made this dish, I have made lots of improvements over time and this newer version is definitely better. Below is the full recipe and the how-to Youtube video. Enjoy!

Japanese Golden Curry

 

1 ½ – 2 lbs Boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

10 oz. Shiitake mushrooms, sliced

2 large Sweet onions, Vidalia if you can get them, chopped medium fine

1 Tb Garlic paste

1 Tb Ginger Paste

1 tsp Sambal Olek chili paste

3 Tb soy sauce

2 14.5 oz. cans Sliced carrots, drained

1 package S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix, medium hot is the most common and the preferred

2 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock

1 Tb Olive oil

8 Tb Unsalted butter

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

 

Bring the olive oil and butter up to high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Season your chicken with salt and add it to the pan. Cook it until it is lightly browned and cooked through. When it is done remove it from the pan, and reserve it on a plate. Add in the onions. When they first go in they will look like they are too much. I know, two whole large onions seems ridiculous, but they will cook down. Reduce your heat to medium/ medium high. We don’t want to scorch or burn the onions. You are looking to caramelize them and this can take time. It is, however, worth it as caramelizing them will provide the sweetness that is very essential to the curry as a whole. When the onions have taken on a light tan color, add in the garlic, the ginger, the chili paste and the mushrooms and continue cooking until the onions are a nice deep brown and the mushrooms are soft. Next, add in the chicken stock and soy sauce, stir, and bring everything up to the boil. At this point, add in the curry mix, block by block, stirring the whole time. As you stir, the curry will begin to become quite fragrant and begin to thicken. When all the blocks have dissolved and the sauce has begun to come together, reduce the heat to low. Add in the cooked chicken and the carrots and allow it all to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve over rice and enjoy.

 

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out our store here.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

How to Make the Ultimate Mac and Cheese

How to Make the Ultimate Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is the quintessential American comfort food, but it has a long history before becoming the sad, yet incredibly crave-able boxed dinner. As much as I love boxed mac and cheese, because what truly American child doesn’t, I would be remiss not to share with you where its true origins lie. Macaroni and cheese makes its first appearance in the 14th century in both Italian and Medieval English cookbooks, with recipes that basically consist of handmade pasta layered up with butter and cheese and baked. In 1796, the first modern recipe for mac and cheese appears in a cookbook by a woman named Elizabeth Raffald. It’s the first time a mac and cheese recipe begins with a cream sauce, what the French call a Bechamel, laced with cheese, making it what the French call a Mornay.

Macaroni and cheese became the American staple and comfort food that it is through President Thomas Jefferson. He experienced the dish in Europe and made extensive notes. The first pasta extruder that formed and cut macaroni noodles in the US was designed by Jefferson and installed in his home at Monticello. In 1802, he served mac and cheese at a state dinner. Can you imagine? At one point in time, it was totally acceptable to serve a dish so simple as macaroni and cheese to foreign dignitaries?

In the US, the dish has 2 real forms: baked and stove top. Baked mac and cheeses are more dense and usually have some form of bread crumb or Parmesan cheese type crust. Stove top versions, like my recipe, are more creamy, rich and decadent. Although my recipe has a number of ingredients, it involves fairly few steps to prepare and can be made within the time it takes for the noodles to boil. Below, you can find the full how-to YouTube video and the recipe. If you haven’t already subscribed to the Renaissance Beard YouTube channel please do so. Enjoy!

The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese

1 lb elbow macaroni, I use Italian Cavatapi

8 oz sharp yellow cheddar

8 oz aged whited cheddar

8 oz Gruyere cheese

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

1 Tb mustard powder

1 Tb garlic powder

1 Tb onion powder

1/2 tsp cayenne

4 cups whole milk

Note: In the video I use about 1/2 of a pound of cubed ham and a large bunch of scallions. These are just examples of ways to doctor up a standard mac and cheese. Also the amount of cayenne can be cut or ignored completely for the heat challenged.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt the water with a few teaspoons of salt, and add in the pasta. Stir the pasta to ensure nothing sticks and boil the pasta to package instructions, usually 8 to 10 minutes. While the pasta is boiling, bring a large sauce pan up to medium heat. Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt. When the butter is melted add in the flour and dry seasonings. Cook the flour and seasonings for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously. This cooks the raw flour taste out and wakens up the flavor of the spices. Next, add in the milk, stirring vigorously, and cook until it has reached a gravy like consistency with no lumps. At this point you should have a nice smooth off-white sauce. Turn the sauce down to low, stir in the cheeses, and stir until you have a nice smooth cheese sauce.

Drain the fully cooked noodles and add them into the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Add any extra ingredients you might enjoy, like the ham and scallions I used. Just make sure that whatever you add is fully cooked. Serve hot and enjoy!

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out our store here.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

Get to Know Your Beef- What USDA Beef Grades Really Mean

Get to Know Your Beef- What USDA Beef Grades Really Mean

We have finally reached the spring time which means grilling season is back! Here at the Renaissance Beard, we have done lots of articles on how to pick out and cook the perfect steak, but when it comes to steak, in my opinion, you can never know too much.

Beef is graded by the USDA in two ways: quality grades for tenderness, juiciness and flavor; and yield grades for the amount of usable lean meat on the carcass. You see these stickers on your meat every time you go to the store, but from a consumer standpoint, what do beef grades mean?

USDA beef grade

Prime beef is produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling (the amount of fat interspersed with lean meat), and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking such as broiling, roasting or grilling.

Choice beef is high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are suited for dry-heat cooking. Many of the less tender cuts can also be cooked with dry heat if not overcooked. Such cuts will be most tender if braised, roasted or simmered with a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.

Select beef is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades. Only the tender cuts should be cooked with dry heat. Other cuts should be marinated before cooking or braised to obtain maximum tenderness and flavor.

Standard and Commercial grades of beef are frequently sold as ungraded or as store brand meat.

Utility, Cutter, and Canner grades of beef are seldom, if ever, sold at retail but are used instead to make ground beef and processed products.

Hopefully better understanding these beef codes will help you buy the best cut of beef you can for the dish you are making.

 

 

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out our store here.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.

How to Make Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

How to Make Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

St. Patrick’s Day is nearly here and, for people of Irish ancestry like myself, that means one thing: Corned beef and cabbage. But have you ever wondered where the dish came from? If you were to travel to Ireland you won’t find corned beef and cabbage on the menu for St. Patrick’s Day. There the cabbage dish is prepared with Irish bacon, a bacon made from curing a cut off the back of the pig that includes the tenderloin. When Irish immigrants reached the United States, they were far too poor to afford the cut of pork needed to make Irish bacon so a substitute had to be found. Corned beef proved to be a suitable substitute and provided the salty cured meat flavor they were looking for.

Corned beef is one of my favorite dishes of all time and it couldn’t be any easier to make. Cooking it in Guinness instead of the more traditional water adds some great extra flavor. Be sure to save the cooking liquid from the corned beef. The liquid can be strained out and used to cook your vegetables. It makes them taste incredible!

The full recipe and video are below.  If you like the video be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great videos! If you like the shirt I am wearing in the video be sure to check out the ALL NEW Renaissance Beard Store and grab one for yourself!

Corned Beef Brisket Braised in Guinness

1 3 1/2 lb raw corned beef brisket

1 onion, cut into large chunks

1 head of garlic, halved

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

2 Tb mixed pickling spice

2 cans of Guinness

Remove the corned beef brisket from its package and thoroughly rinse it under cold water to remove residual brine and packaging fluids. Pat the brisket dry with some paper towels and place it in a large crock. Add in the remaining ingredients and bring everything to a boil on the stove top. Cook it, keeping a close eye on it, until the carbonation has cooked out. If you skip this step the carbonation from the beer will cause it to boil over in your oven, making a huge mess. Next put the lid on and cook in a 300 degree oven for about 4 to 4 1/2 hours. The brisket is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the center of the meat reads 145 degrees. When it’s done, remove it from the cooking liquid and allow the meat to rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice and enjoy with boiled cabbage or on a Reuben!

 

If you have any questions or have anything that you’d like featured in a future post on The Renaissance Beard, don’t hesitate to contact me or leave it in the comments.

Be sure to check out our store here.

Be sure to check out The Renaissance Beard Youtube Channel here.