Monday, March 21, 2016

Ted's Bulletin - A Jewel in the Downtown Crown

Ted's Bulletin
220 Ellington Blvd.
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

If someone else has already used that tagline about a restaurant in Downtown Crown I apologize, but it's mine now and I'm not giving credit...sorry/not sorry.
Now that I've taken care of that, let's talk about the restaurant.
Ted's Bulletin is pretty cool. The building looks like a train depot from the outside and is one of the few free-standing restaurants in the neighborhood. Speaking of the neighborhood, if you haven't had a chance to check it out, you should. It's part of the new ideal for Rockville/Gburg, the Walkable Neighborhood. it's similar to Mosaic in VA or Reston Town Center. Lots of restaurants and retail on the first floor with offices and residential above. There are also a lot of condos, townhouses, and single family homes within walking distance. Prices run from the 400's to 1.5m+ for residential.
There are a still a lot of empty spots for restaurants/retail on the ground floors, so if you're in the market for some space, this isn't a bad place to look.
Back to the restaurant. This concept is brought to you by the folks from Matchbox. I've known these folks for 12 or 13 years and have watched them grow since the start. Very impressive group with big plans. They do it right. They are exactly what they mean to be. 
This ethos is reflected in their build-outs as well as the food they serve, and the service attitude with which they execute. All in line, all pleasant, with some unexpected surprises.

 As this was a business lunch between appointments, I didn't have time to try anything besides my entree, but it was certainly an entree worth trying. Mark's Big Breakfast. 3 eggs, any style, with bacon, sausage and a hand-made Pop Tart. I don't know if you're actually allowed to call them that as it's a brand name, but that is effectively what it is. Everything about the breakfast was spot-on. The eggs were poached medium, exactly as requested, the sausage was unique to this group. Obviously not a brand you buy in the grocery store at least, and the Pop Tart was very good. I got the brown-sugar-cinnamon.
My dining companion got the short-rib sandwich. It had obviously spent a good deal of time in some red wine. The fries were hand-cut and just short of perfect only because they weren't as crisp as I like them, but hey, it wasn't my lunch, right?

Overall, a very nice experience at a good restaurant that you should try. Tell them I sent you. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Home Cookin' Smoked Brisket So Good It'll Bring a Tear to Your Eye

Ever go to a restaurant that isn't a bbq joint that had brisket so flavorful and tender that it rivaled the best BBQ restaurant brisket you've ever had? Here's one way to do it. There are others, but this way is pretty much fool-proof and the end result is so fantastic you'll sprain your arm patting yourself on the back. It's very impressive for a dinner party too.
All you need is meat, salt, seasoning, a smoker, a vacuum sealer, and an immersion circulator. It's not as bad as it sounds, promise.
 I started out with a brisket flat. It is about $6.99/lb at Giant. You can find it cheaper on sale. This recipe will work for a whole-muscle brisket as well, so if you've got an actual butcher who will get you one, give it a try.  I sliced it in half to start with as my vacuum sealer is on the small side. I salted it generously with flaky kosher salt and let it sit in the fridge for a few days.
 The day before you're going to serve, season the brisket with your favorite rub, then smoke it for 3 hours at 225. 
 Turn off the smoker, or kill the fire, whichever is applicable, and let the meat cool to room temperature. Once it's cool, vacuum seal it. Once it's sealed, you can put it in the water bath you've got waiting at a toasty 185 degrees.
 Set your temp to 185 and set the timer to 12 hours. If you want to go lower/longer that is an option as well. I was in the middle of a Gotham binge with my wife so I knew I'd be up until midnight, which is when the meat went into the bath.
 In the interest of having fewer single-use tools in my kitchen, I use a cooler that fits nicely into the small compartment of my sink for my water bath rather than having a lexan to store and keep clean. I line it with a trash bag, fill it 3/4 of the way with water that is as hot as I can get it out of the tap (@130), and then boil a pot of water to get the temp up to 185 quicker. The faster you get the water up to temp the less wear and tear you put on the heating element of your circulator...I think. 
Be aware: even though the meat is sealed in bags, the smell and some color leaches out into the water after 12 hours. Don't use your favorite tailgating cooler.
 After 12 hours at 185, I kick the temperature up to 203 and let it continue to cook for another 2-3 hours, then shut off the circulator, remove any covering you have on the water bath, and let the meat cool a bit. When you're ready to serve, cut off the corner of the bag and pour the liquid into plastic pint container. Put it in the fridge and the fat will rise to the surface so you can skim it easily. The liquid remaining is pure gold. It will eventually solidify as it's very gelatinous. You can use this for anything from gravy or a sauce for the BBQ to flavoring for greens.
 When you're ready to serve hit that shit with a torch! It looks cool and it will give you a crust, though it won't be nearly as thick/crunchy as you'd get with smoking it for 12 hours.
And there it is. Beautiful, tender brisket. The fat is fairly liquefied and isn't chewy at all. It's more like bbq flavored mayo. Get a little fat, a lot of meat, and slap that on some white bread. 
Don't say I never gave you anything.