Saturday, October 31, 2020

Sheet Pan Roasted Potatoes and Kielbasa


Kielbasa is an outlier to the beloved group of foodstuffs known as sausages. Kielbasa is Polish in origin, coarse in texture and has a very heady garlic flavor. It is typically made of both beef and pork and what sets it apart is that this sausage is either lightly smoked...or not smoked at all.

This meal is so easy to prepare... you just need a knife and a sheet pan.  All you do is slice up the two ingredients and throw them on the pan. Add some olive oil with a few other goodies...then spread it out and roast it to perfection. This recipe is from Natasha's Kitchen.


3 pounds small red potatoes, sliced 1/3" thick

1 pound Polish Kielbasa, sliced  3/4" thick 

2 tablespoons minced parsley

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 garlic cloves, pressed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


    1. Preheat oven to 400º. Place sliced potatoes and kielbasa in a pile on a sheet pan.
    2. Add parsley, garlic, salt, olive oil to pile and toss to combine. Spread ingredients out flat on the baking sheet and bake at 400˚F for 50 minutes (potatoes should be browned and crisp). Stir halfway through baking to ensure even browning. 

    Wine pairing: Merlot

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, October 24, 2020

    Sweet Potato Noodles with Spicy Pork


    You aren't going to find sweet potato noodles at your neighborhood store, so don't even bother. I order mine from and I absolutely love them. Besides tasting delicious, they are a really healthy addition to any meal. A serving only has 16 carbs...and they are the really good carbs as the noodle is pure sweet potato. While sweet potato noodles are prominent in Asian cuisine, I've found they are also fantastic coated with a red sauce and crowned with Italian meatballs. When cooked, the noodles have a great bite reminiscent of a perfect al dente semolina pasta.


    For the Dressing
    4 tablespoons lime juice
    4 tablespoons soy sauce
    4 tablespoons fish sauce
    3 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons Sriracha Sauce 

    For the Main Dish
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    1-1/2 pounds ground pork
    12 ounces sweet potato noodles
    1 bunch scallions, sliced into thin rounds
    1 bunch roughly chopped cilantro (stems included)
    1 bunch torn mint leaves (no stems)
    1 jalapeño, halved, seeded and then finely minced
    4 tablespoons chopped peanuts

    2 limes, quartered for serving


    1. Make the dressing: Combine lime juice, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar in a small bowl. Whisk until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
    2. Heat a large pot of water. When water boils, add sweet potato noodles and cook for 5 minutes. Then drain and put noodles in a medium bowl. Add 1/4 of the dressing to noodles and toss to coat. Cover and keep warm.
    3. Add canola oil to a large skillet or wok. Add the pork and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to break the pork into tiny crumbles. Add jalapeño  and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until the pork turns deeply golden brown and crispy. Drain pork and put pork in a new large bowl.
    4. To the pork bowl, add the scallions, cilantro and mint. Add 3/4 of the dressing and toss.
    5. Divide the noodles between 4 serving bowls. Divide the pork/vegetable mixture between the 4 bowls, placing it on top of the noodles. Top each dish with 1 tablespoon of the peanuts serve with sliced limes on the side.

    Wine pairing: Zinfandel

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, October 17, 2020

    Simple Beef Gravy


    Its snowed yesterday for the first time this fall. That is unremarkable for Minnesota. While the snow did not stick because the ground was too warm, it set off a giant alarm in my stomach. "OMG! TIME FOR POT ROAST!"

    Pot roast uses an inexpensive and tough cut of beef like chuck roast.  You have to braise it to cook it properly, as the goal of cooking pot roast is to have it come out moist and fall-apart tender. Well, I went old school yesterday and to my surprise, out came the most moist and tender pot roast I had ever tasted.

    Growing up in a household where my mother was the exact polar opposite of Julia Child, I was used to being served meals that were shortcuts taken and experiments gone horribly wrong. The one exception to that were her pot roasts. Every pot roast she ever served came out perfect. That's because she discovered a shortcut that guaranteed perfection every time...the Reynolds Oven Cooking Bag.

    I was rummaging through a drawer last week and there, in the very back of the drawer, I discovered a long ignored box of Reynolds Oven Cooking Bags. I made a note to summon the cooking specter known to the world as Joey Gruggen and conjure up a meal using that ancient recipe. The stars aligned as it snowed yesterday, so pot roast it was for dinner. 

    Using a Reynolds Oven Cooking bag could not be simpler. Toss a quarter cup of flour in the bag and shake it up. Add one envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix, two-thirds cup of water, a quartered onion and a few cut carrots and potatoes. Seal the bag, make six small slits, then slide it into a 325º oven for 3 hours.

    Now I made a couple of changes to that recipe. While Reynolds says just slide the raw roast in the bag, I'm a huge proponent of the Maillard Reaction, so I browned the roast first (an excellent choice, btw). Second, Lipton Onion Soup, to my palate, has an unnatural metallic taste to it. So instead I used a packet of Knorr Au Jus mix (for a more natural beef flavor). Finally, I substituted beef stock for the water for the exact same aforementioned reason.

    As I stated previously, this yielded the best pot roast I have ever cooked. My mother may have been totally out of place in a kitchen, but she absolutely nailed it by using the Reynolds Oven Cooking Bag shortcut. After last night's meal, I don't think I will ever cook a pot roast any other way. But I did make a very serious error when I slid my pot roast into the oven....I had no beef gravy mix in my pantry. Pot roast with no gravy ranks right up there alongside wine containing no alcohol. Oh, the horror. But thanks to google and the Food Network Kitchen, I found an incredible beef gravy recipe that requires no drippings. Even the Anti-Julia could have nailed this gravy recipe with her eyes shut!


    2 cups beef stock

    3 tablespoons corn starch

    1 teaspoon onion powder

    1 teaspoon soy sauce

    1 beef boullion cube, crushed

    1 tablespoon heavy cream 


    1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the first five ingredients.
    2. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
    3. Turn off heat and whisk in heavy cream.


    Saturday, October 10, 2020

    Sheet Pan Hash Browns


    One of my favorite side dishes when I'm grilling steaks or pork chops is the specialty of every great breakfast diner in America...hash browns. And you know the ones I mean. A really crispy golden crust with a rich, buttery interior. But when grilling, getting hash browns cooked to perfection for a crowd is a real challenge.

    The challenge lies in the hardware and location of where and how you cook these things. Hash browns need to be cooked in the kitchen in a cast iron pan and steaks grilled over charcoal outside on the deck. Those two spots are 30 feet apart and careful attention to both requires stepping over our dog (who loves the rug in front of the sliding porch door) and managing egress/ingress through that porch door (closing constantly required to keep the bugs out of the house). It gets to be a frenetic dance which I don't like when I'm cooking.

    Enter sheet pan hash browns. Perfect for a crowd. Here's the best part....they only require 10 minutes of prep. Then you toss 'em in the oven and forget about them until they are completed 40 minutes later. So while they cook, I can give my undivided attention to grilling my meat (and perhaps a sip of wine or two). The other bonus....the hash browns are perfect every single time. Thanks to Sommer Collier for the recipe.


    30 ounces frozen hash browns, thawed

    1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

    2 large eggs

    1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon dried thyme

    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


    1. Preheat the oven to 400º and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
    2. Pour the thawed, shredded hash brown potatoes into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl then pour over the potatoes. Add the shredded cheese, salt, cumin, thyme and garlic powder. Toss to coat. Then pour the melted butter over the top and toss to coat again.
    3. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 40 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956

    Saturday, October 3, 2020

    Italian Sausage Sheet Pan Dinner


    I absolutely love this sheet pan dinner that I made last night. Fast enough for a weeknight dinner and special enough for a weekend meal. While speed of preparation (about 5 minutes) and ease of clean-up (foil-lined sheet pan) make this such great dinner to make, it is the taste that will keep bringing you back. The entire meal is roasted. Crisp and crunchy Italian sausage with onions, peppers and Kalamata olives that have melted into harmonious perfection. And for those of you who may care...100% Paleo.


    5 links hot Italian sausage (20 ounces), cut into 1-inch sections

    1 brightly colored bell pepper, core removed and sliced

    1 small yellow onion, halved and sliced

    1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

    3 cloves garlic, pressed

    1 teaspoon oregano

    1 teaspoon basil

    Salt and pepper

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Freshly grated Parmesan cheese


    1. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the sheet pan on the center rack of your oven and heat to 500º.
    2. Place bell pepper, onion, olives, garlic, oregano and basil in a bowl. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to bowl. Add olive oil and stir to coat. Set aside.
    3. Remove heated sheet pan and place sausages onto pan spread out in a single layer. Place pan back in oven, reduce heat to 425º and roast sausages for 5 minutes. Remove the pan, stir the sausages and rendered fat around to coat pan. Then pour vegetables over and stir. Spread veggies and sausages around the pan evenly.
    4. Put sheet pan back in oven and roast for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, remove pan and let rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle Parmesan generously over pan and serve.

    Wine pairing: Super Tuscan

    Grogs and Goldie, 1956