What is Chorizo

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: March 04, 2024

If you’ve cooked any Hispanic cuisine, you’ve likely come across Chorizo. It’s a common ingredient in tacos and nachos. But did you know there are several types of chorizo?  In Spain, each region has a variation. As the Spanish people moved around the world, so did their sausage. It is reminiscent of pepperoni.  What is chorizo? Explore further! Chorizo Components The basics of chorizo boil down to three thijgs: pork, garlic, and smoked paprika. Once chopped and mixed, it goes into natural casings. Some people use chilis in place of paprika, and some add vinegar. Now the sausage has to cure.  It’s worthy of note that some people think of nearly any spicy sausage when they hear chorizo. Nonetheless, you will find chorizo with different flavor profiles, and in different shapes, sizes, and colors. For example, pale chorizo has no paprika. Clash of the Chorizos! Once exposed to the world of chorizo, everyone finds a favorite. Here are a few.  Argentine: It’s hard to pin down this chorizo since many families have their own special recipes for it. Two interesting additions are nutmeg and wine. Cantimpalo: smoky, rich in garlic, and a regular visitor to tapas offerings.  Columbian: Perfect for gilling and frying. Common in South America this version may indue green onion.. Mexican: You need to cook this; it’s fresh. The color comes from chilis, and some types feature oregano Mexican Green: This sausage has a fine grind. It includes tomatillo, cilantro, and coriander.  Spanish: Coarse ground, cured pork. Milder than Mexican. Let’s Get Cooking Different varieties of chorizo require varying treatments for a meal. Spanish chorizo requires no cooking, so you can serve it up in bite-size treats, or put it right into your brasier for soup or stew. Make sure to remove the casings.  Mexican chorizo is a little fussier, needed to cook. Like the Spanish version, the casing usually comes off for dishes. When yo fry it up you need no cooking oil. The sausage’s fat does all the work for you.  Heading for a cookout? Grab the Columbian chorizo. Use a fork and poke the surface with holes. You get the best taste when you cook this sausage over charcoal. Really, you can barbecue them like you might kielbasa.  PitMaster’s Memo: Curious about Chorizo? You can buy chorizo without the casing Chorizo appears in traditional Spanish soups You can use citrus to brighten up the flavor of chorizo There’s no escaping it: chorizo is spicy You cannot substitute Mexican chorizo with Spanish in recipes Chorizo comes from the same region as Iberico pork Legend has it that a peasant gifted King Charles IV with a piece. The King liked it so much it became part of his table Sides Blooming Onion Clams Fries with Marinara dip Grilled cherry tomatoes & onion Radish chips Dessert Caramelized pears Key Lime Pie Maple butter blondies Orange Sherbert Pistachio cake From the Bar Brandy Herbal tea Lagar Negron Rioja

Chef Cuso's Holiday Gift Guide

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: November 27, 2023

The 2023 holiday season is here (wasn’t it just summer?). Searching through stores and websites can become daunting. With this in mind, Team Cuso and I always watch for products we can stand behind for present selections. These are also items I use regularly for grilling and smoking.  If there is a griller, barbecue aficionado, or food smoker in your life, take a look at Chef Cuso’s Holiday Gift Guide. Best Grills: More Affordable - Traeger Ironwood  The Ironwood grills from Traeger saturate food with the flavor of wood-fired food. It’s designed for consistency, and you can customize it! It includes a grilling light, two meat probes, and a pellet sensor built-in. Take a look at how it works in the recipe for my No Wrap Barbecue Ribs. More Expensive - Traeger Timberline A fantastic grill that offers versatility to the max. It has a touchscreen display, making it easy to use and maintain consistent temperatures. There’s also our cooktop for getting that perfect sear. Or you can use it for sauteing and frying. Observe the Timberline as I make aluminum-wrapped barbecue Ribs with Nacho Sauce. Portable - Traeger Ranger Does one of your friends or family members love camping or tailgating? The Traeger Ranger is an ideal companion (heck, get one for yourself!). The porcelain-coated grill grates and griddle, along with a meat probe, are only the beginning of the qualities of this grill. You can see it in action during this Elk’s Cheese Steaks recipe. Best Cooking Accessories:  Cuso Cuts Cutting Board Good cutting boards save wear and tear on countertops and knife edges. And the Cuso Cutting Board isn’t just for grilling and barbecue. It’s useful for all kitchen cutting tasks. Our cutting board reflects the craftsmanship for which our line is known. Made from cherry wood, it measures 16” x 12” x ¾”. Meat Thermometer: Meater Gen 2 Nothing is more disappointing than having food come out over or underdone. Meat thermometers like the Meater Gen 2 remove all the guesswork. It features a multisensor, Bluetooth coding, and it charges up quickly for that next course. It’s also waterproof! My Whisky Peppercorn Steak Sandwich recipe shows how I use it. Best Place to Buy Meat:  Alpine Butchers  When you want the best of the best, go to Alpine Butchers. I get the vast majority of meat from them, with my favorites being Australian Wagyu tri-tip and Brazilian Picanha. Here are some recipe examples: Porterhouse Steak with Brie Japanese Triple-Seared Steak Brazilian Picanha Tacos  Boujee Mac n Cheese  Brisket Style Tritip Steak  Best Chef Knife: Cuso Cuts Executive Knife At the top of every cook’s wish list are good knives. If someone can only have one good knife, this is the one to get. Our Damascus Chef Knife is a work of art (the lucky recipient will want to display it when it’s not in use). Handcrafted from 65 Layers of VG10 Damascus, the look on a person’s face after opening the box is precious.  Best Gift for a Family Member Cuso's Seasoning Gift Box: All natural and filled with flavor, you can stock a person’s cupboards with spices perfect for grilling but also baking and beyond. The set includes Cuso Dirt Seasoning, Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning, Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning, Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning, Cuso's Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning, and Cuso's Maple Bourbon Seasoning. Best Stocking Suffers Cuso Cut’s Individual Seasonings There is something for everyone in our all-natural seasoning line.  Cuso's Dirt® Seasoning: Our inaugural blend; can you say, get out the steak?  Cuso's Hot Honey Seasoning: Heat meets sweet; pair with poultry or fish Cuso's Gravel Seasoning: Slightly hot, deeply smoky; sprinkle on beef. It makes a great crust. Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning: A Taste of the Tropics; brighten up fish and chicken Cuso's Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning: Rich smoky garlic; add to compound butter or as a rub on steak Cuso's Maple Bourbon Seasoning: Caramel notes, savory; fantastic on pork and salmon Cuso’s Dust Seasoning: Builds great crust; try on fish Cuso’s Grass Seasoning: Use with chicken and root vegetables Cuso’s Coconut Rum: A taste of the islands, great on shrimp Cuso’s Lemon Pepper: Classic flavor; use with seafood and chicken   Best Grilling Apparel Item:  Cuso Cuts Patch Hat  A fashion-forward gift, wearable in many different settings. Durable and comfortable, they keep your eyes clear for focusing on the grill. Mindful choices make memories. Our Cuso Team and I want to wish you the very best of holidays.

What is Beef Tallow?

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: November 20, 2023

Beef Tallow begins its life as regular beef fat. Rendering removes impurities from the fat and allows it to solidify. I enjoy using it because it has a high smoke point and adds a unique flavor profile to dishes. In baking, beef tallow can substitute for other fats like butter or shortening. It can add moisture and a unique taste to baked goods such as pie crusts, biscuits, and pastries. For the grill, applying beef tallow keeps your meat moist.  Many products you buy these days have much of the fat removed, which is a shame because you lose that flavor. It is a great addition to anything you want to fry or sauté. Try dropping a dollop in your next soup, stew, or gravy. If you have enough, you can also use tallow for deep frying.  Other Applications for Beef Tallow Beef tallow is part of the traditional soap-making process. It helps create a hard and long-lasting bar of soap with moisturizing properties. Tallow soap is gentle, making it an ideal skin soap. Early candles were made from tallow. The nature of the tallow creates a candle that burns slowly with a steady flame. It’s a fantastic addition to votives and tapers. Beef tallow also comes into the market as skincare products that moisturize the skin. Common uses include balms and salves.  How is Beef Tallow Made? Start with beef fat from cuts like suet or trimmings from butchering. It needs to be clear of all connective tissue and meat. Cut into small pieces to increase the surface area and facilitate the rendering process. Melt the fat in a pot or a slow cooker and heat it over low heat to melt the fat Simmer for several hours. This allows the fat to separate from any water or impurities present. Strain the fat is strained to remove any solid impurities and to obtain a clear, liquid fat. The best tools for this step are a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Cool and solidify at room temperature or by refrigerating the fat. Store the beef tallow in an airtight container or wrapped in butcher paper. PitMaster’s Memo Beef tallow, also known as beef fat, has a long and rich history that spans thousands of years. In ancient times, the use of animal fats, including beef tallow, appeared in culinary efforts regularly. In many cultures, animals were raised not only for their meat but also for their valuable fat. Beef tallow was highly prized for its cooking properties and as a source of energy. During the ​Middle Ages, tallow played a significant role in ​European society. People used it widely for cooking, lighting, and even as a component in soap and candles. Tallow candles were the “go-to” for homes and churches until beeswax became popular. The invention of machinery and technological advancements during the Industrial Revolution led to increased demand for tallow. It became a vital ingredient in various industries and as a fuel source for steam engines. Tallow was readily available and relatively inexpensive. Beef tallow played a crucial role during both World Wars as a component in military rations to bolster the soldiers’ energy and nutrition. Tallow was also used to produce glycerin, an essential component in the manufacturing of explosives, medicines, and other war-related products. In the mid-20th century, the popularity of beef tallow declined because of health concerns associated with saturated fats. Vegetable oils and synthetic alternatives replaced tallow in many consumer products. But chefs were not about to let Beef Tallow fade away. Traditional fats are flavor bombs, so you’ll start seeing more recipes that include this ingredient.

Top Three Pellet Grill Recipes

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: July 29, 2023

Pellet grills are becoming more and more popular. Why? Because they’re tidy and make great smokers. If you’ve never seen one in action, you may wonder how they work. As the name implies, pellet grills use wood pellets and fans for heating food. In effect, they’re like a convection oven.  You can use your pellet grille or smoking, grilling, braising, and even baking! So, it’s very flexible to whatever recipe inspires you on any given day. One of the best features of a pellet grill, in my opinion, is you can cook hot and fast, or low and slow. There’s consistent temperature control and no open flame.  How Does Gas Grilling Measure Up? The biggest difference between a pellet grill and a gas grill is taste. The hardwood pellets pack a punch of flavor far more notable than gas or charcoal grills. Pellets come in a HUGE variety of flavors, including: Alder Apple Chili Coffee Guava Hickory Lime Maple Mesquite Orange And that’s only a few! Pellets don’t leave behind a burnt or ashy aftertaste.  Top 3 Pellet Grill Recipes There are a lot of cooking and grilling recipes from which to choose for your pellet grill. Here are three of my favorites: Reverse Sear tri-tip Using a pellet grill for Tri-Tip results in a mouthwatering, deliciously rich meat flavor enhanced with whatever smoke you prefer. Oak, maple, or hickory are excellent choices. Combine your finished steak with grilled vegetables and have a tall Lager chilled. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dirt® Seasoning, Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning, Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning Pork Belly Burnt Ends There’s something special about burnt ends cooked on a pellet grill. They’re a little sticky, a little saucy, kinda sexy, and they’re enriched with your chosen pellet smoke. Consider orange, maple, or apple flavors. For your side dish, a green bean casserole is always welcome. To drink? Sparkling cider, Amber Ale, or Zinfandel.  Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning, Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning, Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning Sensational Smoked Turkey Pastrami Pellet smoked turkey pastrami is moist and mouthwatering. I recommend hickory or pecan pellets for this dish. On the side, enjoy a wild green fresh salad. The offering from the bar might include a Manhattan or sparkling lemon water. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dust Seasoning, Cuso’s Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning, Cuso's Coconut Rum Seasoning

Best Steak Knife Set of 2023

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: April 26, 2023

When you head out for your first apartment or home, it seems as if having a set of steak knives is essential. They appear regularly on wish lists for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions. Better still, steak knives have both function and form. A good set is well-crafted and cuts like butter. In your search for exceptional blades, take a look at our reviews for the Best Steak Knife Set of 2023. What Helps Qualify for Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Distinction? Look for a full tang and serrated blade. Try the handle and make sure it’s comfortable in your hand. Ask yourself, “does it feel balanced?” Material-wise, stainless is the way to go, and the set should rate at least 50 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. What is the Rockwell Hardness Scale? Basically, Rockwell hardness is a metallurgical test that indicates how resistant a blade is to permanent deformation from other materials. To make an accurate and consistent measure, the scale was created. Most steak knives rate between 45-60 hardness. Straight Edge vs. Serrated Straight edges do not cut cooked meat. More likely they tear it. By comparison, a serrated edge cuts meats, bread, and tomatoes equally well. The little serrations grip the surface of the item you’re cutting. Add having stainless steel as metal, you have a knife that resists rust and stains.  Abbreviated Knife Selection for Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Messermeister Avanta 5” Fine Edge 4-Piece Steak Knife Set This knife set has a fairly good price for its level of performance. Messermeister Avanta is attractive and comes out of the box sharp. It is a good option for gift-giving. Perceval 9.47 Series 217mm Steak Knives (Set of 2) Perceval Steak Knives are ideal for entertaining. The 9.47 knives have the distinction of having been designed by a Michelin-starred chef. People who want “flair” won’t find it here. The style is minimalist, and only two come in a set. Cuso Cuts 6-Piece Steak Knife Set If you want sublime beauty coupled with effortless cutting, you’ll fall in love with the Cuso Cut steak knives. Take them out when hosting and dinner and watch people “oooh” and “aaah” Their Rockwell scale is 58, and unlike some serrated blades, you can sharpen them with a standard sharpener. From tip to handle, they measure 9 inches.  Laguiole en Aubrac Luxury Fully Forged Full Tang Stainless Steel Steak Knives  Laguiole oli Knives had their beginning in the mid to late 1800s, so it’s understandable that they have an heirloom feel. The handles are made from mixed French woods, and each is handcrafted. This cutlery is well-balanced, tough, sharp, and corrosion-resistant. When taken care of properly, Laguiole can become an inheritance set. Wusthof Classic 6-Piece Steak Knife Set The Wusthof family company was established in 1816 with strict quality standards. Since then, these knives appear regularly on “top ten” lists. This set resists fading, heat, corrosion, and discoloration, making them easily maintained. The razor-sharp stainless steel blade glides through meat.  IMarku Serrated Steak Knives Imarku stainless steel steak knives measure 9” long. They’re made from Japanese HC steel, forged for longevity, hardness, and sharpness. The knives resist corrosion and sport double-riveted handles made from Pakka wood, providing stability. And Our Winner of the Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Is: Cuso Cuts 6-piece Steak Knife Set While Cuso Cuts is a newer brand in steak knives, the company has dedicated itself to high-quality craftmanship and impeccable elegance. It is part of the reason we love them for recognition as the best steak knife set of 2023. Customers give them a 5 out of 5 rating for excellent customer service and having incredibly sharp blades. When you’re shopping online, the pictures don’t do them justice. They are distinct and attractive but don’t just put them away until company comes over. Use them for family dinners. 

Some Of The Best Kitchen Knives In The Game, Created By Jack Mancuso. Check Out The New Damascus Steel Chef Knife And Cleaver, Sure To Wow The Crowd And Cut Through Just About Anything In The Kitchen.