Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ground, ground, and more ground. And also dried. (Beef)

We soldier on in our relentless attempt to consume the 55 lbs. of Moloka‘i beef. The fact that half of it is ground is a bit of a drag, for two reasons: one, there are only so many variations on burgers and meatloaf and such. After a while, it starts to feel monotonous, no matter what spices or fillings you throw at it. And two, it turns out that the processors had a totally different philosophy than I: they ground all the cuts I'd rather have whole (bavette, skirt, tri-tip), and left whole many cuts I'd rather have ground (chuck and top round).

Nonetheless, good beef is good beef. Though Diana Kennedy would probably roll her eyes at it, I did a Mexi-inspired cumin-chile ground beef mix that made for awesome tacos. Here they're topped with local feta, avocado, and chimichurri (yeah I know, it's Argentine and not Mexican, but it really worked).

Closer to home, I also tried my hand at pipikaula, the local version of beef jerky that's usually served with a meal. I started with a recipe in the excellent book Ethnic Foods of Hawai‘i by Ann Kondo Corum (which happens to be available in its entirety via Google Books). The seasoning is a combo of soy sauce, Hawaiian salt, sugar, chile, garlic, and ginger; the latter two seemed a little tame so I bumped them up a good deal. I also used chuck instead of the recommended flank, which works just as well as long as you can manage to slice it thinly across the grain.

After a day's marinating in the fridge, I draped the strips over a rack and baked in a low oven for a few hours, flipping once. I think pipikaula is best when it's still a little moist, so I was careful not to let it get super leathery. The result, I have to say, was pretty killer. Although now that I think of it, preserving beef is a little strange; after all, the whole goal is to use it up, not hold onto it! Still, this pipikaula is so tasty that I doubt we'll have a chance to test the shelf life...

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