Vail: Try using spice rubs for sophisticated flavor
VAIL CO, Colorado One of the easiest ways to enhance your cooking style is to start experimenting with spice rubs. Typically simple mixtures of dried spices and herbs, rubs are applied directly to meat or fish. Allowing the rubbed food item to sit for a while will intensify the flavor. If milder flavor is preferred, cook the dish immediately. The rub imparts a unique flavor and makes a tasty crust. Even the simplest meal becomes special with this easy technique.Rubs are perfect when youre entertaining. Mike Regrut, executive chef of the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, said, When youre serving a crowd, make it easy on yourself. Buy a large roast, rub it with spices the night before your dinner party, and it will cook perfectly. The rub forms a crust, and seals in the juices. Your main dish takes care of itself, leaving you free to socialize and put together your side dishes. Mike shares a crowd-pleasing pork roast recipe below.Jeremy Kittelson, executive chef at Restaurant Avondale, agrees. He uses rubs on many menu items from swordfish to ribs to veggies. Spice blends add sophisticated flavor to simple cooking techniques. Experiment with the blends suggested here, and tweak them for your personal taste. When you find a blend that you particularly like, make a larger batch and keep it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, in a cool place. It will keep for up to 2 months. The exotic flavors of curry are perhaps the most famous of the spice blends. Notorious for their heat, curries work with just about any food. Try Kittelsons mild, aromatic blend as a great complement to lamb. If curries are the complex version of a spice blend, seasoned salts are the simplest. Always use a fine quality coarse sea salt like fleur de sel. Mix two parts spice of your choice with one part fleur de sel. Versatile choices would be fennel seed, celery seed or ground ginger, says Kittelson.
1 tablespoon Coriander seeds11/2 teaspoon cumin seeds1 tablespoon Star anise1 whole nutmeg4 pieces cloves1 tablespoon red pepper flakesPlace first 5 ingredients in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Pulse to coarsely ground. Add red pepper flakes. Rub liberally on raw fish. Refrigerate at least one hour before grilling, roasting or broiling. Store any extra of the blend in a tightly closed container. Yields 1/2 cup.
2 tablespoon cardamom seeds1 piece clove 1 teaspoon dried chili flake2 teaspoons sesame seeds1 cinnamon stick, coarsely ground2 teaspoons cumin seeds2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds2 teaspoons ground maceCombine all in a skillet. Toast over medium heat, shaking pan, until fragrance is released. Allow to cool before using. Rub liberally on raw beef, pork, or chicken. Refrigerate at least one hour before grilling, roasting or broiling. Store any extra of the blend in a tightly closed container. Yield 1/2 cup.
3 pounds boneless pork loin roastSpice blend for meatRub roast liberally with Spice Blend for Meat. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place roast on a rack in a roasting pan and place in center of oven. Roast 15 minutes. Lower heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting approximately 45 to 60 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 150 degrees. Remove from oven, tent with foil, and allow to rest 15 minutes before slicing. Serves 6.
1 star anise6 cardamom pods3 cloves1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds2 teaspoons coriander seeds1 teaspoon white peppercorns1 cinnamon stick5 teaspoons fennel seeds1/2 teaspoon ground mace1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek1/4 teaspoon cayenne2 teaspoons tumeric1 teaspoon allspicePlace first 8 ingredients in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder. Pulse till coarsely ground. Add next 5 ingredients. Store the blend in a tightly closed container. Yield 1 cup.
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1⁄2 cup olive oil4 large lamb shanks6 cups chicken stock 4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed1⁄2 pound red-skinned new potatoes, quartered lengthwise8 baby carrots, peeled1 tablespoon all purpose flour1 tablespoon tomato pasteCombine 1⁄4 cup curry blend with enough olive oil to make a paste. Place lamb shanks in a glass baking dish. Rub shanks with the paste. Cover with plastic wrap; chill overnight, turning occasionally. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large oven-proof pot over high heat. Add lamb shanks and cook until brown on all sides, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add stock and garlic; bring to boil, cover and transfer to oven. Cook 1 hour; remove from oven and turn lamb shanks over. Add potatoes and carrots, cover and continue cooking until lamb is tender, about 45 minutes longer. Using tongs, transfer lamb to platter; tent with foil to keep warm.Bring liquid in pot to simmer over medium heat. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to platter with lamb. Pour braising liquid into 4-cup measuring cup. Spoon off fat, reserving 1 tablespoon. Heat reserved fat in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour; stir 2 minutes. Whisk in braising liquid and tomato paste. Boil until sauce coats spoon lightly, about 2 minutes. Serve lamb and vegetables with sauce.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant.