I have decided that Tyler Florence is the only ray of light left on the Food Network. When I first started receiving cable TV two years ago, I spent hours on end watching all of Food Network's stars and their various shows, and felt impressed by the overall quality; I learned techniques, flavor combinations, and menu ideas. These days though, I am more inclined to agree with the gourmet food establishment's verdict that Food Network isn't an interesting foodie venue. Now that I have Bravo on my lineup of channels, I too will move on to the show, Top Chef. Food Network has stumbled by bringing on new faces with no aura of expertise (Ask Aida, and all those Next Food Network Star winners), repeating too much content from their established stars (Giada's gotten downright boring), and dumbing down their content rather than moving on to new heights for their more seasoned viewers.
So why do I still like Tyler Florence's show? He cooks recipes I'd like to eat, and always arranges the show into a cohesive menu that usually involves a challenging element - whether it's an unusual ingredient, or a new technique. I enjoy watching to see how he layers flavors in particular. This weekend Marcus and I cooked his ultimate beef tacos, which turned out sublimely. We made a double batch to last all weekend. Sear a salt and pepper-seasoned shoulder of beef in garlic infused oil, caramelize with Spanish onion slices, then cook down for almost 2 hours in a mixture of canned tomato and water (just enough to cover the beef) with bay leaves, red chili flakes, paprika, cumin, coriander - whatever looks good in your spice rack, really. This served alongside homemade salsa and guacamole was perfect. We didn't do the elote asado (grilled corn with cheese, lime, and chili powder) because it didn't look fresh at the market. I'll be good and wait until summer. With all this how could we choose anything else but a Negra Modelo cerveza to drink.
This isn't the first time TF has come through with excellent inspiration either - his brined pork chops with pan apple sauce is still a staple in my repertoire, and the perfect complement to my favorite original cocktail, the Apple Crisp.