Saturday, July 24, 2021

Smoked, Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf

Back in 2010 I wrote about my favorite meatloaf recipe. It's one I've been using since former Minneapols cop John Hennessy shared it with me in 1994. It's meatloaf with a decided Italian bent, thanks to half the meat being hot Italian sausage. I didn't think the recipe could be improved upon....until I decided to stuff it with cheese and cook it in a pellet smoker. 

There is only one correct way to cook this on a pellet smoker. If you do not follow these instructions, you will end up with a grease fire of enormous magnitude. As ground beef and Italian sausage cook, they give off a huge amount of grease. You don't want that grease dripping down to the bottom of your smoker. So you need to create a free-form meatloaf and then set it on a wire rack. Then set the wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan (foil wrapped makes for easy clean up). Then set the sheet pan in your smoker. All of your grease will be captured by the sheet pan.

Do not use a meatloaf pan. The grease will make your meatloaf fall apart and it will bubble over and cause said grease fire. A free-form meatloaf will insure you have a firm and perfectly cooked meal for your guests. And if you don't have a pellet smoker, use your oven. It will still be incredibly delicious....all you will be giving up is a little smoke flavor.


1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 pounds hot Italian Sausage
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups of bread cubes (I use sage and onion stuffing)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and Italian 

16-ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

  1. Preheat smoker to 375º.
  2. Combine all ingredients except mozzarella in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Take a little less than half of the mixture and use it to form the base of your free-form meatloaf. Place on a wire rack. 
  3. Cover the top of the base evenly with the mozzarella cheese. Then take the rest of the meat mixture and set it on top of the meatloaf base. Form the top, making sure to extend the meat over the base in order to seal the cheese inside.
  4. Set the wire rack on rimmed sheet pan and set in smoker. Bake for 90 minutes, then remove, tent with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Wine pairing: Chianti

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Grilled Rib Eye with Thai Peanut Sauce

If I were required to choose but one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Thai food. If I were required to choose but one meal to eat the rest of my life, it would be grilled rib eye steak. So should you face these same choices, choose as I did. And with this "Sam the Cooking Guy" recipe, I will show you how to combine Thai cuisine and grilled rib eye so that you may enjoy the best of both worlds for the rest of your days. As an added bonus, recipes rarely get any more simple than this.


For the Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup chicken broth

For the Steak and Garnish
2, 16-ounce ribeyes, at least 1-1/4" thick
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts

  1. Combine the first five sauce ingredients in a small pot over high heat. Stir until blended. Add the broth a tablespoon at a time until it is creamy smooth. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
  2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  3. Cook steaks for 5 minutes per side (for medium rare). Try and get as much charring as possible. When cooked, remove steaks, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Warm up the peanut sauce, spread some on the bottom of your serving plate, slice the steak and place on top, add a little more sauce, peanuts and cilantro for garnish. Serve.

Wine Pairing: Zinfandel

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Florentine Steak


In Tuscany, this dish is known as Bistecca alla Florentina. It's comprised of a thick slab of steak on the bone, grilled over a white-hot fire and accompanied by my very favorite lettuce...peppery baby arugula. And let us not forget those stellar supporting actors: lemon, garlic and parmesan cheese.

After grilling, the steak needs to rest before it is sliced, Florentine style (see photo above), and served on a platter with the salad ingredients underneath. Pass the platter and your guests simply select some steak slices, salad and lemon wedges to squeeze over the steak. This Jamie Purviance recipe serves 2. To serve more people, you can double the ingredients. Or, as they do in Tuscany, you double the salad ingredients and just use a single, enormous, 3-pound Porterhouse Steak. 


For the Steak
1 well-marbled T-bone steak, 1-1/2" thick and 1-1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the Salad & Garnish
4 ounces baby arugula
1 ounce of shaved Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Place the steak on a small tray and pat dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix the oil, salt, rosemary, pepper and garlic powder. Rub the mixture over both sides of the steak and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients.
  3. Prepare grill for direct cooking over high heat. 
  4. Grill steak for 4 minutes on each side. Then remove steak and tent with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. (NOTE: This timing is for medium rare on a charcoal grill using lump hardwood charcoal. If you are using briquettes or a gas grill, you may need to cook up to 6 minutes per side. If using a meat thermometer, 125º is the temp you want to hit before removing it from your grill.)
  5. In a bowl, lightly toss the arugula, dressing and 2/3 of the parmesan. Spread the salad on a serving platter. Cut the steak Florentine-style and set steak in the middle of the salad. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan shavings and serve with lemon wedges. 

Wine pairing: Barolo

Grogs and Goldie, 1956