Saturday, July 4, 2020

Smoked Sea Scallops





I love sea scallops. And I've got a lot of ways to prepare them. Pan-searing is the one I use the most. The scallops will cook in about 3 minutes using that method, but if you goof by just a little, those delicate sea scallops will become firm and rubbery.....almost like trying to eat a car tire. But last week I learned an all-new method of cooking scallops that is absolutely foolproof. But first a word on how to buy sea scallops.




Fresh scallops look like the photo above. Note that they are dry, which is precisely why they are referred to as "dry scallops". If you set them on a paper towel, they give off next-to-no liquid. When you cook them up, they are sweet. They taste like the ocean. These are the scallops you want to buy. But they are expensive because they have a very limited shelf life. I paid $29.99 a pound for them last week.




The scallops in the above photo are not fresh. They have been previously frozen. They are referred to as "wet scallops" and when you see them in the store they are often sitting in a white, creamy liquid. They have been treated with a preservative and whitening agent called sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). If you put them on a paper towel, they will give off a ton of liquid. STP increases the water retained by the scallop, often by as much as 30%. So frozen scallops end up being a poor value, compared to fresh, as you are paying for a lot of water.

Sodium tripolyphosphate gives the scallop an unpleasant chemical flavor. It's impossible to get rid of that taste. Your only choice is to mask it by pre-soaking the scallops in a mix of water, lemon juice and salt. If you care about putting the best tasting and healthiest scallops in your mouth, buy only fresh. There is a world of difference and it will take you but a single bite to discover it.

Smoking sea scallops could not be easier. You simply build a two-zone fire in your grill (direct and indirect). Then you throw a chunk of mesquite  on the coals and set the scallops on the indirect side of the grill. Cover the grill and in just 20 minutes, your scallops are ready for eating...but will taste even better if you douse them with some melted butter. This recipe serves two.


Ingredients
6 large dry sea scallops
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Melted butter for serving


Directions
  1. Prepare your grill for two zone cooking (coals banked to one side of the grill and nothing on the other side).
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper.
  3. Add mesquite chunk to coals and then place scallops on the indirect side of the grill. Cover grill and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove scallops from grill and serve with melted butter.


Wine pairing: A big, oaky Chardonnay


Grogs and Goldie, 1956




Saturday, June 27, 2020

Spicy Pork Kebabs





In 1983, Woody Allen released a favorite movie of mine called Zelig. Allen plays Leonard Zelig, a nondescript enigma, who, apparently out of his desire to fit in and be liked, unwittingly takes on the characteristics of strong personalities around him. 

Leonard Zelig is a metaphor for pork. With the exception of ribs, pork is a nondescript enigma that takes on the characteristics of strong spices surrounding it. Beef has a distinct and pronounced flavor. Pork, not so much.

But like Leonard Zelig, pork becomes a chameleon, able to change colors  by the spices and herbs that envelop it. As a cook, you can make pork into whatever you want it to be. So in this recipe, we're going to surround Leonard with really strong spices that will explode with flavor as they char over the coals. Damn, that pig be spicy!


Ingredients
1-3/4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks
2 limes: one for juicing; the other for serving wedges
1/4 cup cilantro
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño 
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 small red onion, sliced, for serving


Directions
  1. Season pork lightly with kosher salt and put it in a bowl or resealable bag. 
  2. Juice the lime into a blender or food processor and add cilantro, fish sauce, garlic, jalapeño and honey. Blend until the jalapeño and garlic are puréed, then add fennel, cumin, coriander seeds and pulse five times to bruise the spices and mix them in. 
  3. Pour mixture over the pork, tossing to coat the pieces. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
  4. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat. 
  5. Thread the pork onto skewers, leaving a little space between cubes. Grill for 2 to 5 minutes, then flip the skewers and continue cooking until the meat is browned all over and charred in spots. It should be just cooked through: A little pink is OK, but there shouldn’t be any red spots.
  6. Serve the pork with the onion slices on top and lime wedges on the side for squeezing.



Wine pairing: Zinfandel


Grogs and Goldie, 1956


Saturday, June 20, 2020

Grilled Rib Eye with Mustard Blue Cheese Sauce







This simple sauce puts an incredibly delightful crown on the king of steaks.



INGREDIENTS

For the Sauce
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 garlic clove, minced

For the Steaks
2 rib eye steaks (1-1/2 inches thick)
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese


DIRECTIONS
  1. Let rib eye steaks come to room temperature at least 2 hours prior to cooking.
  2. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  3. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, whisking occasionally.
  4. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper. Cook steaks with the grill covered for 5 minutes per side (medium rare). Remove steaks from grill and tent with foil, letting them rest for 10 minutes while sauce finishes cooking.
  5. When sauce has reduced by half, pour over steaks and top each steak with a tablespoon of crumbled cheese. Serve.



Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon



Grogs and Goldie, 1956


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Lacquered Rib Eye





When it comes to grilling the king of steaks, I usually just use simple salt and pepper as the extent of my seasonings. Once in awhile I take the time to make Lone Star Rub, quite possibly one of the greatest ways to dress a rib eye (https://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2013/08/bone-in-rib-eye-steak-with-lone-star-rub.html).

And now I have a third way to prepare my rib eye steak. I came across this recipe earlier in the week and gave it a test run on Wednesday. The premise is simple. Using a two-zone set-up on your grill, you cook the steak with just salt while it is directly over the hot coals. Then, when you move it to the indirect side, you lacquer the steaks with a sauce. The sauce, a reduction of vinegar, soy and fish sauces, garlic and sugar, gives the steak incredible depth and puts a beautiful brown crust on the meat. This recipe will serve 2 people with generous portions and will result in a medium rare steak when cooked over charcoal..


INGREDIENTS

For the Sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed

For the Steaks
One, 2-1/2 pound bone-in rib eye steak (2" thick)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Flaky sea salt
Lemon wedges (for serving)


DIRECTIONS

  1. Set steak on counter about 3 hours before cooking. Salt the steak generously on both sides with kosher salt.
  2. Bring vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and garlic to simmer in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer until reduced by half, about 6-8 minutes. Set aside.
  3. Prepare your grill for two zone cooking (coals only on one side of the grill).
  4. When coals are hot, set steak directly over coals. Cover grill and cook for 4 minutes. Then flip steak, cover grill and cook for 4 more minutes.
  5. Move steak to indirect side. Generously brush steak with sauce. Cover grill and cook for 3 minutes. Then flip steak. Brush on the rest of the sauce, then cover grill and cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. Remove steak and place on a cutting board. Tent with foil and let steak rest for 5 minutes.
  7. Slice the steak and then plate. Drizzle the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Serve with lemon wedges.



Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon


Grogs and Goldie, 1956





Saturday, May 30, 2020

Nacho & Chorizo Meatballs





It's party time and you'd like an appetizer that would really wow your guests. So let me be honest....this recipe is a cheat. In fact, we should probably just rename the dish Lori Loughlin Meatballs. Maybe Lance Armstrong Meatballs. Alex Rodriguez Meatballs.

Why is this recipe cheating? Because you will be taking two of the most delicious flavors on earth and crafting them into a single Frankenball. Nacho Cheese Chips (ground up in a food processor) and Mexican Chorizo Sausage. A marriage made in heaven. And for supporting rolls in the wedding party....Mexican cheese, pickled jalapeño, cilantro...be still my heart. Then throw in some sour cream and salsa, guacamole and hot sauce for dipping. Winning!


Ingredients
1/2 pound fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed
1/2 pound ground pork
1-1/4 cups Bisquick
3/4 cup finely ground Doritos (nacho cheese flavor) 
8 ounces shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeña
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup prepared salsa


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine together sausage, pork, Bisquick, Doritos, cheese, jalapeño, and cilantro until well blended.
  3. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop and roll 1-inch balls and place 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  4. While sausage balls bake, stir together sour cream and salsa. Serve sausage balls with sour cream-salsa dip, and if desired, guacamole and hot sauce.




Pairing: Pacifico


Grogs and Goldie, 1956



Saturday, May 23, 2020

Grilled Chicken Breast





A boneless, skinless chicken breast is the white bread of the poultry world. Anyone who has ever eaten chicken will tell you that the skin is, by far, the tastiest part of the bird. And the bone gives flavor and retains the moisture in the meat.

I spend a lot of time on YouTube. Way too much time. Cars. Cooking. Music. This week I was checking out some new videos and came across a YouTube channel called "Cooking with Claudia". I started watching her stuff and damn if she did not drop one of the best chicken marinade recipes ever.

So grab yourself a pair of bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Head to your pantry and mix up a bowl of Claudia's chicken marinade and then light the charcoal in your grill. Cook this recipe and a little roasted corn and you will have yourself the perfect Memorial Day cookout!


INGREDIENTS

For Claudia's Marinade
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup brown sugar

For the Chicken
2 to 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts



DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  2. Pierce the skin side of the chicken breasts multiple times with a fork to create small pockets for the marinade to penetrate.
  3. Place chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and add the marinade. Seal bag and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (skin side down).
  4. After marinating, remove breasts from bag and pat dry with paper towels.
  5. Prepare your grill for two-zone cooking (direct and indirect heat...coals only on one side of the grill).
  6. Place chicken breasts over direct heat, skin side up. Cover grill and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Flip breasts (skin side down) over direct heat. Cover grill and cook for 4 minutes.
  8. Move breast to indirect side of grill, skin side up. Cover grill and cook for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Remove breasts from grill. Tent with foil for 5 minutes, then serve.



Wine pairing: Merlot


Grogs and Goldie, 1956


Saturday, May 16, 2020

Crispy Roast Chicken Thighs





You want to select skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. The skin keeps the meat moist and gives you that delicious crispiness. The bones also protect the chicken from drying out. You'll start out on the stove to crisp up the skin and then slide your skillet into the oven for a high-heat roast. You're going to end up with a lot of delicious drippings in that skillet, which is perfect for a truly extraordinary pan sauce.


Ingredients
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (8 ounces each)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450º.
  2. Generously season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat (cast iron or steel recommended...do not use non-stick). Add chicken to pan, skin side down. Cook for 10 minutes until skin is brown and crisp. Flip chicken thighs and cook for 6 more minutes.
  4. Place skillet into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from oven. Place thighs on a cutting board and tent with foil. Let them rest 5 minutes, then serve.



Wine pairing: Merlot


Grogs and Goldie, 1956


Saturday, May 9, 2020

Grilled Rib-Eyes with Shallot-Jalapeño-Tomato Butter





If you are a carnivore like me, grilled rib-eye steaks are at the very pinnacle of our bovine desires. Brimming with "oh-so-delicious" fat and huge beef flavor, no other cut of meat comes close. Couple that with an incredible compound butter....life just doesn't get any better. Just one caveat when making the butter...do not use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil...if you do the butter will not hold together.


Ingredients
2, 1-pound rib-eye steaks, 1-inch thick
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon freshly chopped fresh leaf parsley
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon smoked salt
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
Olive oil


Directions
  1. Put the steaks on a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels, and then generously season both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours.
  2. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat. Meanwhile, using a silicone spatula, stir together the butter, tomato, jalapeño, shallot, parsley, zest, smoked salt and thyme in a small bowl until well combined. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside.
  3. Lightly oil the grill. Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Grill for 5 minutes, then flip and grill until the steak is done to your liking (4 minutes for medium rare). Transfer steaks to a cutting board and tent with foil, letting the steaks rest for 5 minutes. Top with some of the butter and serve, passing the remaining butter at the table.







Wine pairing: Malbec


Grogs and Goldie, 1956




Saturday, May 2, 2020

Crab Toast





When it comes to shellfish, I'm partial to both lobster and Alaskan King Crab. But put them in a head-to-head shoot out, crab wins out every time in my book. That incredibly sweet meat from the legs of the Alaskan King Crab is so fantastic, it's just not a contest.

Costco is my "go-to" for crab. They sell enormous crab legs at $24.99 per pound. The stuff you find at grocery stores is typically small, pencil-thin stuff that doesn't hold a candle to what you find at Costco. I was thrilled when I found this recipe in the New York Times last week, as it gave me a whole new way to serve up some crab.

While you could certainly make the recipe with lump crab meat, Alaskan King Crab makes these slices of toast really special. All you need is a single crab leg, providing the leg comes with the knuckle attached. This makes for a great summer dinner when you serve it with a salad on the side.


Ingredients
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
12 ounces Alaskan King Crab meat
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons minced chives
1 teaspoon sour cream
4 slices black pumpernickel, toasted


Directions

    1. In a small sauce pot, brown the butter over medium heat, swirling the pot, until the butter is caramel-colored and has a nutty fragrance, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, scraping up all the milk solids from the bottom and sides of the pot while the butter is still hot, and let cool to room temperature.
    2. Place the egg and egg yolk, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, a healthy pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon cold water in the bowl of a food processor. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil. Once all the oil has been added, the mayonnaise should be loose yet emulsified. While the processor is still running, slowly drizzle in the brown butter and any toasted milk solids. Season to taste with salt and set aside.
    3. For the crab salad, gently and quickly mix crab meat, olive oil, chives, sour cream and remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice together in a bowl. Season to taste with salt.
    4. Schmear each piece of toasted bread with the brown butter mayonnaise evenly — as we like to say, “wall to wall.” Divide the crab mixture among the slices, piling it evenly on top.


    Wine pairing: Pinot Noir
    (If you're lucky, a Benza Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley)


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956


    Friday, April 24, 2020

    Sesame Ramen Salad






    Forget about the ramen noodles you used to buy in college (although you could certainly use them in this recipe should you desire). I'm partial to Lotus Foods' Organic Millet and Brown Rice Ramen Noodles. Delicious, healthy stuff that is an everyday item at Costco (at least it was pre-pandemic).



    This "Taste of Home" recipe is a really interesting collection of ingredients...especially since I would never have thought about using spicy Italian Sausage in an Asian salad. But it works really well as the heat of the sausage is an interesting contrast to the refreshing veggies and lime-sesame dressing.



    INGREDIENTS

    For the Salad
    3 ramen noodle cakes
    6 cups boiling water
    1 pound of bulk, hot Italian sausage
    3 green onions, sliced (green and white parts)
    3 cups snow peas, halved
    1-1/2 cups julienned carrots
    4 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

    For the Dressing
    3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
    1/2 teaspoon lime zest
    1 tablespoon soy sauce
    1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
    1 tablespoon white vinegar
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon sugar (or honey)
    1/2 cup chopped cilantro
    3 green onions, chopped (white parts only)


    DIRECTIONS

    1. Break ramen noodles into quarters and place in a large bowl. Cover noodles with hot water; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes.
    2.  Drain noodles; rinse with cold water. Drain well and return to bowl.
    3. In a large skillet, cook and crumble sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
    4. In a separate bowl, combine all dressing ingredients and mix well.
    5. Add sausage, snow peas, carrots and peanuts to the bowl of ramen noodles.
    6. Add dressing to salad and toss thoroughly. Serve.





    Wine pairing: Zinfandel


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956







    Saturday, April 11, 2020

    Tabbouleh





    I am obsessed with Tabbouleh (pronounced tuh BOO lee). While the recipe originated in the Middle East, it uses farm fresh ingredients you can find everyday at your local farmer's market or grocery store. It is essentially a parsley and bulgur wheat salad, with supporting roles from tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, onion and lemon juice. I make it from scratch and have it for lunch virtually everyday.




    The only downside to the salad is that it requires a lot of dicing. I'm not a huge fan of dicing, as it is tedious. I especially dislike dicing tomatoes by hand...for that is the pinnacle of tediosity. So I went and bought myself a commercial dicer...a Nemco Easy Chopper 2. What used to take a lot of minutes can now be done in seconds. Be still my heart.


    Ingredients
    3/4 cup bulgur wheat
    1 medium cucumber, diced
    3 medium roma tomatoes, diced
    1 small yellow onion, diced
    1 teaspoon Kosher salt divided
    1 medium bunch curly parsley
    1 small bunch of mint, leaves only
    1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
    3 or 4 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
    1 medium garlic clove, pressed



    Directions

    1. In a large bowl, combine bulgur wheat and 3/4 cup boiling water. Let rest for 10 minutes.
    2. Combine the diced cucumber, tomato and onion in a medium bowl with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Stir, and let the mixture rest for at least 10 minutes.
    3. To prepare the parsley, cut off the thick stems. Then, finely chop the parsley and remaining stems and mint leaves—you can do this by hand, but it’s much easier in a food processor with the standard “S” blade. Transfer the chopped parsley and mint to a bowl.
    4. Add the cooled bulgur and chopped fresh mint to the bowl of parsley and mint. Strain off and discard the cucumber, tomato and onion juice that has accumulated in the bottom of the bowl (this ensures that your tabbouleh isn’t too watery). Add the strained cucumber, tomato and onion to the bowl.
    5. In a small measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, garlic and remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Pour it into the salad and stir to combine. Taste, and adjust if necessary—add another tablespoon of lemon juice for zing or salt for more overall flavor.
    6. Let the salad rest for 15 minutes in the refrigerator before serving to let the flavors mingle.  Tabbouleh will keep well in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.

    Note: To make a bigger batch of Tabbouleh, just double the ingredient list.



    Grogs and Goldie, 1956





    Saturday, April 4, 2020

    Lemon Pasta with Tuna





    I'm a huge fan of the video game "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare". My favorite mode in this game is called "Warzone". It's premise is quite simple. You and 149 other enemy soldiers jump out of a plane and parachute to the ground below. The only item in your possession is a very weenie handgun. So the minute you hit the ground, you have to frenetically scavenge for equipment. Assault rifles, sniper rifles, machine guns, grenades, claymores, etc. In video game vernacular it is called "looting". Without the right loot, you will not fare very well. (If you are playing the team version of this game, you want Tim Blackstone on your side. When it comes to looting, he is the GOAT!)

    We are all now sheltering in place. The challenges associated with that have allowed me to take my Call of Duty scavenging skills and apply them to real life. I've managed to keep a good inventory of food and necessary items by using my computer to loot. I'm using Amazon, Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, Instacart, Grubhub, Total Wine and Door Dash to deliver loot to my door. So far so good. It's challenging, fun and chews up a lot of time...which we all have in abundance.

    While getting fresh food has not been difficult, I find that I still rely a lot on my pantry at meal time. Thankfully, I have a lot of Cento tuna and Garofalo pasta on hand...as well as bottles of Costco's Italian Volcano Lemon Juice. So when I found this recipe on "The Home Cook's Kitchen" blog...I was good to go. No scavenging necessary.


    Ingredients
    4 ounces fettuccini( or other pasta)
    2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/4 red onion, finely sliced
    1/4 cup chopped parsley
    10 ounces canned tuna (Cento recommended)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
    1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
    Parmesan cheese


    Directions
    1. Cook pasta al dente, according to package instructions, in lightly salted water.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the tuna, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, red onion and season with salt and pepper.
    3. Taste and adjust lemon juice, salt and pepper accordingly.
    4. Combine tuna with warm pasta.
    5. Serve with a dusting of Parmesan cheese.




    Wine pairing: Merlot


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956


    Saturday, March 28, 2020

    Roasted Potatoes with Anchovies and Tuna




    For someone accustomed to daily trips to the grocery store, it's been a weird experience to have been completely housebound for 15 days. Fortunately, given my love of all things associated with the kitchen, I have a very robust pantry.  I buy a lot of things online that are not readily available at my usual grocery stores and stockpile them. One thing I always buy by the case from Amazon is Cento tuna. It is the best canned tuna I have ever tasted.




    The downside of not going to the store everyday is that you have to make dinner with what you have on hand. Fortunately, I stumbled on this Melissa Clark recipe in The New York Times that appeared to have been written with my pantry in mind. It's not something I would ever have thought of...mixing roasted potatoes with canned tuna, anchovies, capers and onion. But oh my gosh, what a compelling union of flavors!


    Ingredients
    1-1/2 pounds baby or fingerling potatoes 
    Kosher salt
    Extra-virgin olive oil
    6 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1, 2-ounce tin anchovies, chopped (about 12 anchovies)
    1 tablespoon capers, drained
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1, 5-ounce can tuna (Cento recommended!)
    1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
    Fresh lemon juice (to taste)
    1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
    1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion


    Directions

    1. In a medium pot, cover potatoes with at least 1 inch of cold water and add a generous amount of salt. Bring to a simmer, then cook until potatoes are very soft, 25 to 30 minutes. You want to overcook them a little, so the insides stay creamy when they’re roasted later.
    2. Drain the potatoes, and let them cool until you can handle them.
    3. Heat oven to 425º. Use your hands to smash the potatoes to about 3/4-inch thick and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with oil and a little salt. (The more generous you are with the oil, the crispier the potatoes will get.) Arrange potatoes in a single layer.
    4. Roast until dark golden and crisp, 40 to 50 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.
    5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a small pot over medium heat. Stir in anchovies and capers and continue to cook until butter is brown and nutty. Stir in garlic and remove pan from heat.
    6. Pour brown butter all over the potatoes. Add tuna to the pan and toss well. Season with more salt, if needed, and add pepper and lemon juice to taste. Scatter herbs and onions over the top and serve.



    Wine pairing: Petite Sirah


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956




    Saturday, March 14, 2020

    Slow Cooker Corned Beef







    This is my very favorite corned beef recipe. While it calls for a 10-hour cook, it will only take up 6 minutes of your time. The first 5 minutes of the time commitment requires you to simply dump all of the ingredients in your slow cooker and walk away. The last 1 minute is reserved for simply slicing and serving the corned beef. I guarantee you it will be the best St. Patrick's Day corned beef dinner you have ever tasted.


    Ingredients
    1 corned beef brisket, 3-4 pounds
    2 medium onions, cut into quarters (no peeling required)
    5 ribs celery, cut into chunks
    1 tablespoon prepared stone ground mustard 
    2 cups chicken stock
    12-ounces of beer (lager or pilsner)



    Directions

    1. Place onions and celery on the bottom of your slow cooker. Add stock, beer and mustard.
    2. Set brisket on top of onions and celery, fat-side up. Sprinkle meat with seasoning packet (which comes packed in your brisket). Put lid on slow cooker and cook on low for 10 hours.
    3. Remove brisket. Slice and serve.



    Pairing; It's an Irish holiday, so there must be alcohol involved.
    For a traditional take on the meal, you'll want a big glass of 
    Guinness Extra Stout served at 42.8º F. If you prefer wine,
    corned beef and Pinot Noir are a great match.


    A genuine leprechaun and his Irish Wolfhound.


    Saturday, March 7, 2020

    Air-Fryer Chicken Parmesan





    I've had a lot of different kitchen appliances in my 67 trips around the sun. But I have to admit that I am absolutely smitten with my air fryer. Best homemade French Fries ever! And thanks to the popularity of air fryers, new recipes are popping up every day. Today I'm featuring a new recipe from America's Test Kitchen and it is a keeper!


    Ingredients
    3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
    1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
    1 large egg
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
    2, 8-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    2 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese (whole milk)
    1/4 cup marinara sauce, warmed
    2 tablespoons fresh basil
    Spaghetti, prepared al dente


    Directions

    1. Combine Panko and Parmesan in a shallow dish, mixing well.
    2.  Whisk egg, flour, garlic powder, oregano, ⅛ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in second shallow dish.
    3. Pound chicken to uniform thickness as needed. Pat dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then coat with panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
    4. Lightly spray base of air-fryer basket with vegetable oil spray. Arrange breasts in prepared basket, spaced evenly apart, alternating ends. Place basket in air fryer and set temperature to 400 degrees. Cook until chicken is crisp and registers 160 degrees, 12 to 16 minutes, flipping and rotating breasts halfway through cooking.
    5. Sprinkle chicken with mozzarella. Return basket to air fryer and cook until cheese is melted, about 1 minute. Place chicken breasts on individual serving plates on top of spaghetti and warmed marinara, then top with basil leaves. Serve. 



    Wine pairing: Chianti Classico


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956


    Saturday, February 29, 2020

    Steak au Poivre






    My affinity for fine dining started at an early age, thanks to my private dick grandfather, Frank J. Dunleavy. And the center of the universe for my fine dining affinity at the ripe old age of 5 was Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale. Charlie's was my grandfather's favorite restaurant. Wait, I take that back.....his favorite bar.



    He would bring me there for lunch, where I would be served a hamburger in the kitchen and he would be served a Crown Royal on the rocks....or two....or three. Then he would drive me back home to Edina. I have come to realize that safety was never foremost on his mind.

    He may have been a little inebriated, but back then the police did not write up former policemen for a modest amount of swerving down the road. And his Ford Galaxy 500 had no seatbelts for him to belt us in, which made it a lot easier for me to reach the loaded .32 revolver he kept in his unlocked glove box.

    I miss Charlie's. It opened in 1933 and was a Minneapolis icon for nearly 50 years. It sat at 701 4th Avenue in Minneapolis. It was torn down in 1982 and where once was Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale, now sits an anonymous blue skyscraper void of any character which the owners named, in a stroke of creative genius, 701 4th Avenue.

    Once I reached legal drinking age in 1973, I began to frequent Charlie's (no easy task on my $2.75 per hour wage from selling skis and boots at Hoigaard's). I'd take my dates there to show them my appreciation for fine dining....the food and atmosphere were like nothing else in Minneapolis. An old school, white tablecloth experience the likes of what would eventually disappear. But what was really cool to me was that they had two dishes that the waiter would prepare table side. Caesar salad and Steak au Poivre.

    While it was fascinating to watch the Caesar salad come together on the waiter's cart (it cost just $5.00 for 2 salads), nothing beat the spectacle of the Steak au Poivre. For the finishing flourish, the waiter would light the brandy on fire and the steak would be surrounded by bright blue flames that extinguished themselves just as you were served. So in the spirit of Charlie's, here is Cook's Illustrated Steak au Poivre, sans the fiery finish. You can thank Frank for the lessons he taught me in safety awareness.

    Ingredients
    4 tablespoons butter
    1 medium shallot, minced
    1 cup beef broth
    3/4 cup chicken broth
    1/4 cup heavy cream
    1/4 cup brandy
    1 teaspoon lemon juice
    Kosher salt

    4 New York strip steaks, 8 to 10 ounces each
    1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely ground
    Kosher salt


    Directions

    1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in 12-inch heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat; when foaming subsides, add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add beef and chicken broths, increase heat to high, and boil until reduced to about 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Set reduced broth mixture aside. Rinse and wipe out skillet.
    2. Meanwhile, sprinkle both sides of steaks with salt; rub one side of each steak with 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns, and, using fingers, press peppercorns into steaks to make them adhere.
    3. Place now-empty skillet over medium heat until hot, about 4 minutes. Lay steaks unpeppered-side down in hot skillet, increase heat to medium-high, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan and cook steaks without moving them until well-browned, about 6 minutes. Using tongs, flip steaks, firmly press down on steaks with bottom of cake pan, and cook on peppered side, about 3 minutes longer for rare, about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare, or about 5 minutes longer for medium. Transfer steaks to large plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
    4. Pour reduced broth, cream, and 1/4 cup brandy into now-empty skillet; increase heat to high and bring to boil, scraping pan bottom with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Simmer until deep golden brown and thick enough to heavily coat back of metal tablespoon or soup spoon, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in remaining 3 tablespoons butter, remaining 1 tablespoon brandy, lemon juice and any accumulated meat juices. Adjust seasonings with salt.
    5. Set steaks on individual dinner plates, spoon portion of sauce over steaks, and serve immediately.




    Pairing: Crown Royal or Cabernet Sauvignon