Saturday, February 23, 2019

Penne with Bacon and Onion

Last week the weather gods rather unceremoniously decided to dump nearly 10 inches of snow on us. The MSP airport closed, which essentially never happens up here in the tundra. It was not a day fit for man or beast. So instead of making my way to the store for meal ingredients, I turned to my pantry. Dinner that night would only need three main ingredients: bacon, pasta and onion. I always keep two to three pounds of applewood smoked bacon in my freezer. A couple of hours in a cold water bath is sufficient to thaw the bacon.

My pantry is always stocked with all different shapes of pasta. I buy my pasta by the case from Amazon. For penne, I always buy Barilla Collezione. It's their artisanal line of pastas that are shaped on brass plates. The pasta is thick, has ridges that hold the sauce and is incredibly chewy when cooked al dente.

And I always have several sweet yellow onions on hand. I used to buy them in bulk from Costco. But alas, as empty nesters, we would always end up throwing spoiled onions out. So now I just buy a few at a time from the grocery store. So that's it. Three main ingredients from the pantry and dinner was on the table.

1-pound applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1-inch slices
1-pound penne pasta
1 whole yellow onion, diced
1 cup grated parmesan cheese


  1. In a large Dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a  paper towel.
  2. Reserve all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
  3. Sauté onions in bacon fat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and set Dutch oven and onions aside.
  4. Bring 4 quarts of water and 3 tablespoons of salt to a boil and cook pasta to al dente.
  5. Return Dutch oven to stove top and heat. Add drained penne and cooked bacon to the onions and stir until all ingredients are warm. If too dry, add a little reserved bacon fat. Then serve with parmesan cheese.

Wine pairing: Bacon and Pinot Noir...a match made in heaven

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Grilled Ribeye with Chimichurri Sauces

Argentina is the center of the universe when it comes to grilled beef. And Argentina has gifted the world by creating not one, but two chimichurri sauces that are the "be-all" and "end-all" for steak grilled over coals and mesquite. While green chimichurri sauce is near's red twin brother is much less well known. If you want your grilled ribeye to be truly astounding, you should serve it with both of these chimichurri sauces.

Green Chimichurri Sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons dried Mexican broken leaf oregano
6 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1-1/3 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
2/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in small bowl; let stand 5 minutes to soften oregano. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic, and red pepper flakes in food processor until coarsely chopped, about ten, 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour. 

Red Chimichurri Sauce
6 garlic cloves
2 large shallots, peeled and halved
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cilantro, stems and leaves
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sweet ground red chile, such as New Mexico powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

  1. Combine fist nine ingredients in a food processor. Pulse ingredients until coarsely chopped, about ten, 1-second pulsesTransfer mixture to medium bowl and slowly whisk in oil until incorporated and mixture is emulsified. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature at least 1 hour.

Grilled Ribeye
1, 24-ounce bone-in ribeye
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
2 chunks mesquite

  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. Season ribeye generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Add mesquite chunks to hot coals. Grill the steak for 5 minutes per side with the grill covered.
  4. Remove steak from grill and tent with foil. Let steak rest for 5 minutes. Then slice and serve with the chimichurri sauces.

Wine pairing: Malbec

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Grilled Pork Banh Mi

In August of 1971, I had just completed my first year of Pre-Med at St. Thomas College in St. Paul. This was about 4 months before my college adviser sat me down to tell me that "there is absolutely no stinking way you will ever be a doctor". While I loved biology, chemistry and calculus were my downfall and led me to pursue a career in advertising (selling things to people that they do not need) instead of my dream career in medicine. It also did not help that while attending St. Thomas, I was doing really well in my double minor of girls and beer.

When I started at St. Thomas in 1970, the war in Vietnam was consuming the entire country. I did not spend a lot of time dwelling on it....after all I had a college deferment. But that all changed when college deferments bit the dust. My classmates were all glued to the television on August 7, 1971 to watch the lottery drawings for all men born in 1952. If your number was called, you were going. Your only hope was for a high lottery number or a really solid medical excuse, like Donald Trump's bad feet.

There was only one person I knew of from St. Thomas that did not do well in the lottery. Tim Lippert shipped off to Vietnam and thankfully made it back intact. I did not have bad feet, so my fate rested with the luck of the draw. Those folks who shared my July 6 birthday got a lottery number of 185. The  draft inductions started on January 1, we had to hold our breath for most of the year to see how high the draft numbers would go. As it turned out, they drafted all eligible men through the 95th lottery number. So I was left to pursue my major in advertising and continued to excel in both of my double minors. I did not get to go to Vietnam. But, oh, how I love their food. Especially this Banh Mi sandwich recipe from Luke Nguyen.

1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat recommended)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 baguettes, split
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1-1/2 loosely packed cups cilantro sprigs


  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. In a blender, puree the fish sauce with the honey, sugar, pepper, scallions and garlic. Transfer the marinade to a bowl, add the pork and toss. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Thread the pork through the top and bottom of each slice onto bamboo skewers.
  3. Grill pork over high heat, turning, until just cooked, 4 minutes. Spread Sriracha on the inside of the baguettes, top and bottom. Place 2 skewers in each roll, close and pull out the skewers. Top with the cucumber and cilantro and serve.

I like beer with my sandwiches. Try Tiger Beer from Vietnam.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Potatoes Roasted in Duck Fat

Roasted potatoes are an everyday side dish. Potatoes roasted in duck fat are an extraordinary umami experience. The potatoes are cooked twice. First, they are boiled so that they are creamy soft on the inside. Then they are roasted in duck fat, which makes them incredibly crisp and gives you a taste unlike anything you have ever had before.  (Duck fat is not readily available in most stores, so I source mine from It's $7.99 for 11 ounces.)

2 pounds small potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons duck fat
Leaves of 6 rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Salt the water, add the potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and rinse with cold water. Let cool completely. 
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Pour the duck fat into an 11-inch fry pan and place in the oven for 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove the pan from the oven. Place the potatoes in the pan in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the potatoes are golden brown and crisp underneath, about 30 minutes. Turn the potatoes over, sprinkle with rosemary and Parmesan, and continue roasting until crisp and browned on the other side, about 20 minutes more.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Arrange the potatoes on a platter and season with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.  

Grogs and Goldie, 1956