Saturday, April 26, 2014

Bloody Beer

Jim Arnost turned me on to this recipe last week. The recipe was created by Michael Symon for The Cooking Channel on his show, Symon's Suppers. You are essentially building a Bloody Mary and adding the beer chaser to the drink at the last minute. Make sure you use an IPA as the hops and dryness create a unique contrast to the cocktail mixings. This recipe serves four.

3 cups tomato juice
3 tablespoons hot sauce (Frank's recommended)
2 tablespoons grated fresh horseradish plus more for garnish, if desired
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon celery salt
Juice of 4 limes
2 jalape├▒os, sliced into rings
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces vodka
8 ounces India Pale Ale
Celery sticks, for serving


  1. In a pitcher, combine the tomato juice, hot sauce, horseradish, Worcestershire, celery salt, lime juice, jalapenos and salt and pepper to taste and stir. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. 
  2. When ready to serve, add the vodka and stir to combine. 
  3. Pour the mixture into old-fashioned glasses with ice, leaving 2 inches at the top for the ale. Top each drink with 2 ounces ale and garnish with a celery stick and more grated horseradish if desired.         

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Steaks

Pork tenderloin has always struck me as an odd cut of meat. It is cylindrical in shape, which makes it a bit of a challenge to cook evenly. Second, it has a very mild in vanilla...beige...boring. It is quite common to serve pork tenderloin with a powerful sauce made from port and cherries...a way to put some flashy scarlet lipstick on that there pig.

Leave it to my favorite cooking people, Cook's Illustrated, to solve the problem of the cylindrical pork (to subscribe, go here: The answer is obvious, but not apparent...until they solved the puzzle. When you grill, the greater the surface area, the greater the flavor. A cylinder is highly inefficient when it comes to surface area. The solution? Grab your meat mallet and pound that cylinder into a flat steak.

Thanks to the mallet, a flattened tenderloin has 30% more surface area than the cylinder. It also becomes breeze to have the meat cook evenly. And we are going to kill the beige by enlisting a flavor boost in the form of a marinade. And because of that last point, do not buy "enhanced" pork tenderloin. You will be adding the moisture, naturally, so you don't need the processor enhancing the pork with chemicals. This recipe serves four.

2, 1-pound pork tenderloins
1 tablespoon lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice (2 limes)
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons fish sauce (Red Boat recommended)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Flake sea salt (optional)


  1. Slice each tenderloin in half crosswise to create 4 steaks total. Pound each half to 3/4-inch thickness. Using sharp knife, cut 1/8-inch-deep slits spaced 1/2 inch apart in crosshatch pattern on both sides of steaks.
  2. Whisk lime zest and juice, garlic, honey, fish sauce, salt, and pepper together in large bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle oil into lime mixture until smooth and slightly thickened. Transfer 1/2 cup lime mixture to small bowl and whisk in mayonnaise; set aside sauce. Add steaks to bowl with remaining marinade and toss thoroughly to coat; transfer steaks and marinade to large zipper-lock bag, press out as much air as possible, and seal bag. Let steaks sit at room temperature for 45 minutes.
  3. Prepare grill for cooking over both direct and indirect heat. If using charcoal, hot coals are used under half of the grill and no coals under the other half. 
  4. Clean and oil cooking grate. Remove steaks from marinade (do not pat dry) and place over hotter part of grill. Cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip steaks and cook until well browned on second side, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer steaks to cooler part of grill, with wider end of each steak facing hotter part of grill. Cover and cook 4 minutes longer. Transfer steaks to carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. While steaks rest, microwave reserved sauce until warm, 15 to 30 seconds; stir in cilantro. Drizzle steaks with half of sauce; sprinkle with sea salt, if using; and serve, passing remaining sauce separately.

Wine pairing: Zinfandel

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Smash Burgers

There are two kinds of burgers out there in the world. First is the big, juicy burger...the kind served up at your favorite dive watering hole. It's a half pound of delicious ground beef, oozing the most incredible juices with every bite. The second is the smash burger. It's almost paper thin and it is characterized by an incredible crust that is charred into both sides of the meat. If you are from the Twin Cities, Lion's Tap in Eden Prairie and Convention Grill in Edina serve up some of my favorite smash burgers.

When you enroll in Hamburger College, the first thing they teach you in Hamburger 101 is to never press down on your hamburger. I am here to tell you differently. That rule applies only to big, juicy burgers. To achieve smash burger nirvana, you have to smash the shit out of that burger. But you only do it once...and the beginning of your cooking session

Let's start with talking about the beef. You can certainly buy store-bought ground beef, but there is no telling what cuts make up that beef (do you like cow lips in your burger meat?). I prefer to buy chuck, short rib or sirloin and grind my own. I do that because it's higher quality meat and those cuts have higher fat content. Ideal is around a 65/35 lean to fat ratio. (If you buy store-bought ground beef, get at least an 80/20 lean to fat ratio. Fat is your friend!)

But you do not need a meat grinder. Just use your food processor with the steel blade. Grinding up a one pound cut of beef takes less than thirty seconds. Take that one pound of beef, cut it into four pieces and toss it in your food processor. Use short, little pulses until you get a nice, coarse grind to your meat. You do not want little tiny beef pellets. You want coarse. Once you get coarse, you are going to roll the meat into little four-ounce balls.

These little balls are the larva that you are going to turn into full-fledged smash burgers. You are going to heat a griddle or cast iron pan to very high heat. Then you are going to drop the balls on your heating surface and smash them. You smash only once. If you are real strong, you can smash them with a spatula. If you are not so strong, you can smash them with another pan. I prefer a designated tool for smashing...the grill press.

The key to a great smash burger is "you got to be thin to win". Once smashed, the burger should only be about a half-inch thick and somewhere around 4 1/2 inches in diameter. The thin burger allows you to realize the Maillard Reaction, which is the technical name for putting a nice, crisp crust on your meat. In crust we trust. This is what you are shooting for:

Smash burgers cook quick. If you are going for medium rare (which is only recommended for meat you have ground yourself), we are talking just 2 minutes of cooking time. And then don't forget to add a favorite slice of cheese and condiments. The gods gave us condiments, so let's use them, folks. Now if a quarter-pound smash burger is not enough, you can do like Lion's Tap does and make double or triple smash burgers. Get smashing!

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb. ground beef, divided into 4 oz. portions and rolled into loose balls (that's what she said)
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
4 toasted, buttered hamburger buns


  1. Add oil to a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet (or griddle) and wipe around with a paper towel. Set skillet over medium heat and allow to preheat for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Increase heat to high until skillet is smoking. Add balls to skillet and using a firm, stiff metal spatula (or other tool), smash down on each one until they're roughly 4 to 4 1/2-inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook without moving for 1 1/2 minutes. Use the edge of the spatula to carefully scrape up and flip the patties one at a time. Season the meat again with salt and pepper. If using cheese, add now.
  4. Continue to cook until patties are cooked to desired doneness—about 30 seconds longer for medium rare. Top buns or patties with condiments, transfer patties to buns, close burgers and serve.

Pairing: An ice cold pilsner would be my choice. If you want wine, try a Merlot or Syrah.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Oven Roasted Shrimp with Ginger-Lime Sauce

I'm not a big sports fan. You can enjoy your football, baseball, hockey, basketball to your heart's desire. But there is one sport that gets my blood flowing...Formula One racing.

Here you have the world's greatest manufacturers like Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Lotus creating technological, state-of-the-art racing cars and running them on the fastest tracks in the world. This season, which is now two races old, is especially fascinating as there are six top drivers that are all of comparable skill. The only difference is the cars underneath them.

Let me give you a baseball analogy. For every baseball game they play, there are six Babe Ruth's on the field. There are no Lou Gehrigs or Mickey Mantles out there....there are six Babe Ruth's on the field for every game! That's what is going on in Formula One these days. Six Babe Ruth's climb in their car and battle head-to-head for two hours! Let me introduce them to you.

Fernando Alonso is one the most popular divers in Formula One. He is a Spaniard that drives for Ferrari. He is probably the most skilled of all of the drivers, but Ferrari has not been able to equal the power output of Mercedes. He brings home an estimated $60 million a year, though just $27.4 million is his salary from Ferrari. He is a two-time world champion.

Alonso's teammate at Ferrari is the Finn Kimi Raikkonen. He's known as the "Ice Man" as he never shows even a glimpse of emotion. He is the worst interview in the business as all of his responses are monosyllabic. He, too, is a former world champion and a man of little patience. Last year during a race, his race director was giving him instructions over the radio and Kimi's reply was classic Kimi: "Shut up. I know what I am doing."

Sebastian Vettel hails from Germany and is the reigning World Champion. In fact, he's won the last 4 World Championships in a row. He had the best car in the business until this year, when the series switched to turbocharged six cylinder engines. He is disliked by the fans of F1 for it is never enough for him to just win, he prefers to humiliate his opponents and teammate as well.

England's Lewis Hamilton is another former world champion that is not high on the fan's list. He is a whiney, petty human being who did everything in his power to screw Fernando Alonso over when they were teammates at McLaren. Everything is always someone else's fault. Lewis makes the same $27.4 million that Alonso does and is engaged to the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. He drives for Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg is Lewis Hamilton's teammate at Mercedes. While this German driver has not won a world championship yet, he is currently the points leader in this year's championship. He is a brilliant driver and excels at getting the most out of his car without beating it up. He won the first race and finished on the podium in the last race.

Our sixth Babe Ruth is England's Jenson Button. He, too, is a former world champion and currently drives for the McLaren team. He is a fan favorite and a consummate gentleman. He is particularly skilled at saving his tires, which lets him stay on the track longer without having to pit. He gets paid $21.93 million dollars a year for that particular skill.

So this Sunday, these six Babe Ruth's will climb in their cars and have at it for 2 hours in The Grand Prix of Bahrain. It's great fun to watch them plus the other 16 drivers in the series. Now what does this have to do with this shrimp recipe? Well, you see, Jenson Button is a ginger.

1 ounce olive oil
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1½ pounds large (31-35 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Preheat oven to 400┬║.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients except for shrimp until combined.
  3. Toss shrimp in mixture until coated. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes until shrimp are done. Remove and serve.

Wine pairing: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc