Saturday, May 28, 2022

Grilled Picanha Roast


Picanha...the cut of beef that made Brazil famous. It's actually what we in the states call a top sirloin roast. But in the states, we trim off that marvelous fat cap, which is truly a crime against humanity. In Brazil, it's left on and what it does to the flavor of the beef is beyond description.

Brazilian steak houses take the Picanha roasts and cut them up into steaks. The steaks are then threaded on a very long skewer and cooked over a wood fire. If you've been to Fogo de Chao Steakhouse, you've seen the waiters walking around with these imposing swords of Picanha steaks and then slicing the steaks off the skewer at the table for the customer. 

It's high drama and the steaks are certainly delicious. However, I prefer to grill my Picanha roast intact. A hot sear on each side and then a low and slow indirect cook. What happens to the taste of the meat is magical. You get a fantastic sear on the meat and fat cap sides and then that fat cap gets a chance to partially melt into the meat.

When it comes to beef, fat equals flavor, so a Picanha roast is one of the most flavorful roasts you can buy.  The roasts are not very large, usually 2-3 pounds each and therefore not terribly expensive. However, they are not easy to find. Costco has them once in a blue moon. You can special order them from your butcher.  Finding them online is a breeze....I've had good luck with both Snake River Farms and Porter Road .

1 Picanha roast, 2 to 3 pounds
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

  1. Prepare your grill for 2-zone cooking; a high-heat side and an indirect side.
  2. Two hours prior to cooking, remove roast from refrigerator and set on a wire rack. Coat both sides with the olive oil and and season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. When coals are white hot, set roast over coals, fat side down and grill covered for 5 minutes.
  4. Then flip steak and grill covered for 5 more minutes.
  5. Transfer steak to indirect heat side of grill, fat side up. Close the dampers on your grill so that you are maintaining a grill temp of 275º. Grill for approximately 50 more minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check temperature of meat in the thickest area. Pull the roast when you hit 125º. Tent the roast with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Slice and serve.

Wine pairing: A Malbec from Argentina

Image from

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Chipotle Sloppy Joes


Ever since I was a little kid, I have loved sandwiches. Ever since I was an adult, I have loved YouTube star "Sam the Cooking Guy". So imagine my delight this week when Sam came out with a brand new cookbook "Between the Buns" entire book dedicated solely to sandwiches.

I find Sam interesting because he has a really dry sense of humor, swears like a sailor and is a brilliant cook. He owns a slew of restaurants in San Diego, but he does all of his YouTube videos on his home patio. He primarily cooks on an EVO flat top grill....which is something like giant, upside down cast iron pan, albeit 36" wide.

If you have time, check out his YouTube videos. If you like sandwiches, snarf yourself a copy of "Between the Buns". And enjoy his take on Chipotle Sloppy Joes. Becky, my son Sean and I did last Wednesday night and they were awesome! (served chili-lime Tater Tots on the side)

1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 pound ground beef
1 large garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 ounces tomato paste
1 cup really good beer
4 chipotle peppers, finely minced
4 hamburger buns

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. 
  2. Then add ground beef and cook until no red remains. Add garlic and cook for one minute.
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Then add Worcestershire, tomato paste, beer and chipotles. Mix throughly and then let simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes until thickened.
  4. Serve on hamburger buns.

Pairing: An ice-cold Pacifico

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Hot Dogs with Pico de Gallo


I've never lost my love for a good hot dog. Still make them for lunch these days. I can remember when my boys were little, we'd always arrive at the Minnesota State Fair at the crack of dawn....and a foot-long hot dog smothered in onions and yellow mustard was what we always had for breakfast.

There's a company here in Minnesota that opened it's doors 20 years before I was born. And they started making the most incredible hot dogs....I've yet to find a dog that is even close. Ambassador Old Fashioned Wieners are my all-time favorite. They call it a Scandinavian-style hot dog. It has a very unique, slightly sweet favor. It's made with beef and pork and then wrapped with natural casings and smoked over hardwood for hours on end.

The recipe I'm sharing today is from The New York Times. Their recipe does not call for Ambassador Old Fashioned Wieners. But if I were the author, I would tell you to make sure you use this wiener. It has an incredible taste and the perfect "snap" when you bite into it. As anyone from Minnesota will tell you, the best complement to a fresh and vibrant Mexican salsa is a Scandinavian hot dog.


For the Pico de Gallo
2 firm tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 small white onion, diced
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/cup cilantro leaves with stems, finely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
Kosher salt 

For the Hot Dogs
4 hot dogs
4 hot dog buns
2 tablespoons mayonnaise

  1. Combine all of the Pico de Gallo ingredients in a medium bowl. Season with salt and mix well. Add more lime juice and/or salt to taste. Set aside.
  2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium heat.
  3. Butterfly the hot dogs: Slice them in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through, then open them so they lay flat. Place them on the grill, cut-side down, and cook until grill marks appear, 3-5 minutes. Then flip the dogs, so that the casing side is down, and cook until casing deepens in color, 2-4 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, open hot dog buns and spread mayo on the cut sides. Grill, cut-side down, until toasted, 1-2 minutes. Then flip the buns and grill for 1 minute.
  5. Place the grilled dogs in the toasted buns, cut-side up. Then pile the Pico de Gallo into the butterflied opening. Serve with remaining salsa on the side.  

Pairing: An ice cold Pilsner