Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Grilled Bacon Meatloaf Burgers – Building a Faster Meatloaf Sandwich

I love meatloaf, but not as much as I love meatloaf sandwiches. In fact, I’ll make a meatloaf just for the leftovers. I’ll fry the cold slice in a buttered pan until hot and crusty, and enjoy it on toast with ketchup. 

This is basically that, plus bacon, in burger form. What it lacks in loaf shape, it more than makes up for by being faster and easier. By the way, even though we’re grilling this in honor of Labor Day weekend, I actually think it’s better pan-fried. While I enjoy the smoky char the grill adds, I miss the crust you can only get on a really flat, really hot surface. I feel this way about burgers in general.

Also, if you cook this in a pan, you could deglaze, and spoon a little natural jus over the top. Either way, you’re looking at a delicious burger, and a nice change of pace from your usual cookout fare. I really hope you give these bacon meatloaf burgers a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 Bacon Meatloaf Burgers:
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder                       
cayenne pepper to taste
pinch dried thyme
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 pound ground chuck (85% lean)
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2/3 cup chopped cooked bacon

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eastern North Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce with a West Coast Twist

I’m not sure if using honey instead of sugar really qualifies as a “West Coast twist,” but it does ensure that people from North Carolina can’t attack me for this Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue sauce not being authentic. 

Anyway, while this isn’t exactly what you might find in the Tar Heel State, it was fantastic on the pork, and I hope it inspires you to add this deliciously different barbecue sauce in your repertoire.

As I mentioned in the video, I’m heading down to SoCal to work on a top-secret project, but since I teased this sauce in the recent paper pork recipe, I wanted to get this posted before I left. Unfortunately, I can’t give any details about what I’m doing down there, but let’s just say…actually, I can’t even say that. So stay tuned, and in the meantime, I really do hope you give this a try soon.  Enjoy!

1 tablespoon honey, or other sweetener to taste
1 generous tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 generous tablespoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Friday, August 19, 2016

Paper Pork Shoulder – It’s a Wrap

This “paper pork” was inspired by a technique for smoking beef brisket that involves wrapping the meat in parchment paper after a certain point in the cooking process, in an effort to keep the meat moist, and succulent. Turns out it works great for pork shoulder.

I decided to try it for an oven-roasted pork shoulder, wrapping it from the beginning, and it came out so perfectly tender, and juicy, I’ve been doing it that way ever since. Like I said in video, I’m not exactly sure how much better this comes out with the paper, verses just wrapping tightly in foil, but it seems to stay moister, and more importantly, it looks cool on the table.

We don’t get any kind of crust using this method, but it doesn’t lack for flavor, and if you’re going to use this for pulled pork sandwiches, along with your favorite bbq sauce, I don’t see how that’s going to be any kind of a problem.

Speaking of barbecue sauce, I’m going to show you an unusual one next week, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, I really hope you give this paper pork a try soon. Enjoy!

7 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
for the rub:
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne
- Wrap and roast at 225 F. for 1.75 hours per pound

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eggplant Escabeche – The Second Best Way to Eat Eggplant

The best way to eat eggplant is fried, which I’ll hopefully prove to you one day with a video recipe. In the meantime, you’ll have to settle for the second best way, which is this eggplant escabeche. It’s cold, refreshing, vibrantly-flavored, and I’m guessing, very healthy. 

This was inspired by a visit to a restaurant in San Francisco called Lolinda, where Chef Alejandro Morgan serves a simple, but incredibly delicious Argentinian-style eggplant escabeche. I won’t go so far as to say it came out as good, but the noises of pleasure Michele made while eating this were very similar. 

If you didn’t get the #dotsnotslots reference, I explained how to tell a “male” from “female” eggplant in a old video, which involves looking for a dot shaped mark at the end, and not a slot shaped one. This indicates a “male,” which generally has less seeds.

By the way, “male” is in quotations because eggplants don’t actually have different genders, but apparently some are less pregnant than others. I’m certainly no expert when it comes to eggplant sex, but I’ll go with that until I hear otherwise. I really do hope you give this fabulous eggplant recipe a try soon. Enjoy! 

Ingredients for about 2 pints:
3/4 cup sliced roasted sweet and/or hot peppers

1 large eggplant, halved, cut in 1/4 slices
1 large zucchini, halved, cut in 1/4 slices
tossed with 2 tablespoons kosher salt 
1 cup white wine vinegar 
2/3 cup water 
1/2 cup olive oil 
2 cloves finely crushed garlic 
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano
1/4 cup reserved vinegar cooking liquid
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Baking Bacon for the Perfect BLT

If I had a dollar for every request I've received for a BLT video, I'd have enough money to buy a lot of bacon. I’ve never gotten around to doing one, mostly because do you really need a video to make a BLT? 

However, I have wanted to show this little trick for making bacon by baking; and it gave me the perfect opportunity to show off my vision of what the perfect bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich looks like.

I recommend using heavy-duty foil for this, as it’s a little easier to work with, but regular foil will do the job. Like I said in the video, as long as you create some kind of valleys for the fat to flow into, the technique will work as shown. The result is perfectly flat, perfectly crisp, yet still succulent strips.

Your cooking time is going to vary depending on how thick the bacon is, so I’d start peeking at about 15-20 minutes, and go from there. You can crowd the bacon more that I did, and it’s okay if it’s very slightly overlapping, since it will shrink as it cooks. Just check after about 10-15 minutes, and re-space the pieces if needed. I really hope you give this great bacon technique a try soon. Enjoy!

Bake bacon at 375 F. for 25-30 minutes, or until you reach your desired level of doneness.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Lemon Ice and Losing My Innocence in New York City

Whenever I make this refreshing lemon ice, I always think of a story my father told me many years ago, about the Italian ice vendors in New York, stirring a few lemon seeds into their tubs, so that people would think they were using real lemons.

They weren’t, which sort of disappointed me at the time, but eventually I came to appreciate the hustle. I loved the story, but it also had me facing the cold, hard truth that all is not what it seems. What else wasn’t real? Anyway, that’s about as heavy as I want to get on this pleasant summer evening.

This couldn’t be any easier to make, and you can really play around with the texture, depending on what you’re into. Some people will stop at the slushy stage, but I generally keep freezing and forking until I have shaved ice crystals. I love the contrast between that light texture; and bright, vibrant flavor. I really hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

 Ingredients for 8 portions:
4 cups cold water
7/8 cup sugar (14 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 8 to 10 lemons)
1 teaspoon lemon extract

Friday, August 5, 2016

Fresh Corn & Sausage Muffins – Twelve Inches Away from Perfection

These fresh corn and sausage muffins would have been great if it weren’t for one of the main ingredients. Unfortunately, the spicy Italian sausages I used turned out to be a poor choice; but other than that, I was very pleased with this experiment.

Like I say in the video, a sweeter, milder breakfast sausage would probably work very well here, but you’ll have to wait until my next attempt for confirmation. In the meantime, if you happen to play around with this idea, let me know what you used.

By the way, if you’re from San Francisco, and you know what a “Rebel Inside” is, you could combine this idea, with a runny, steamed egg, and get pretty darn close. I really hope you give this a try. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 12 Sausage & Sweet Corn Muffins:
2 teaspoon olive oil
12 ounces pork sausage (I used Italian, but didn’t think it worked well, so I’d try breakfast sausage, or some other sweeter, milder style)
1/2 cup diced red bell peppers
1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese, or more
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch cayenne
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup melted butter
* I didn’t add any salt because my sausage were almost too salty, but you may want to add a pinch

- Bake at 375 degrees F. for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Soft Hard Boiled Eggs – Cooking with Steam

As vaguely promised in the grilled shrimp Louie video, here is my foolproof method for doing hard-boiled eggs, when we want softer, creamier yolks. This style works very nicely for salads, and above and beyond the texture, we get pure egg flavor, without the sulfuric bitterness that over-boiled eggs suffer from.

Of course, there are variables. Large egg sizes can vary, as does the temperature of refrigerators, so your time to hard boiled egg nirvana may vary. For me, 6 to 7 minutes gives me a perfect runny yolk; 9 to 10 minutes gives me what you see in the video, or a “soft hard boiled egg,” if you prefer; and 11-12 gets you closer to the fully-cooked, classic yolk.

My suggestion is to get a dozen eggs, and do some tests. This steaming method is very precise, and repeatable, once you lock it in. By the way, there doesn’t seem to be a big difference whether you cook one egg or six, but I’ve never actually tried this with a whole dozen, so if you do, let me know the results. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

3 quart saucepan with lid
1 1/4 cup water
6 large eggs, straight from the refrigerator