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Beer Braised Pork Ribs

October 8, 2012 2 comments
Beer Braised Ribs

Beer Braised Pork Ribs

Before I get today’s story and recipe, I thought I’d share that today’s entry marks my 50th.

I assume somewhere in the blog-o-sphere, this is considered a major accomplishment.  But honestly, since I don’t own the blogging handbook, I really have no idea.  Regardless if 50 is considered an accomplishment, I’m going to give myself a pat on the back because I think it’s pretty special. Maybe I should have made a cake?

As I stated on the first day I got this up and running, I mainly do this for myself.  But I have to admit, it’s pretty cool when a total stranger, half-way around the world follows me regularly. Knowing this person took time to sign up to find out what I have to share is something I really didn’t expect.

So all you regulars, THANK YOU!  I hope you continue to enjoy what I have to say, and obviously, what I’m cooking.  Hopefully I’ve even inspired a few of you try something you really didn’t think you could do.

If this is your first time stopping by, thank you as well.  Maybe you’ll like what you see enough to want to come back.

********************************************************************

Today’s recipe is Beer Braised Pork Ribs.  In my best attempt to mimic Homer J. Simpson….”Mmmmmmmm Beeeeer.”

I recently attended one of Pittsburgh’s premier events, The Big Pour.  This event, now in its 6th year, is held annually to benefit Pittsburgh’s only (I believe) non-profit building material reuse retailer, Construction Junction.

Big Pour

Big Pour

The Big Pour allows anyone who is lucky enough to get a ticket (the event sells out in minutes) an opportunity to sample several types of beers from over 40 different craft breweries, as well as local food from area restaurants.  There really are no restrictions on how much you enjoy (that is until the keg runs dry).

The Big Pour is truly a beer lover/foodie paradise and my belly left happy.  More importantly, it left me with a nice feeling knowing that I’m helping out a good cause.

So what is Construction Junction?

Let’s say you’re remodeling your bathroom.  Instead of taking that old sink to the curb where it will eventually take up space in the landfill, drop it off at Construction Junction (or arrange for a pick-up).  As as long as it is still in working condition, they’ll take it off your hands.  Not only can you drop off, but you can browse and buy.  For example, if you’re looking for an old door (or anything really) to re-purpose, stop by CJ and they might have something you need.

So next time you have something to get rid of, think twice before letting the garbage men take it.

Ah…..feels good to give back.

Ok, enough of that….here’s the Beer Braised Ribs recipe which I found in the Food Network Magazine.  I don’t deviate from the ingredients all that much (just a slight tweak in the amounts).

This recipe is one of my all-time favorites. I enjoy the “gravy” it makes and a nice roll or hunk of bread comes in handy for sopping up the juice.  The recipe is perfect for those cold fall and winter nights. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 5 or 6 bone-in country style pork ribs (think 1.5 ribs per person depending on the size)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 large onions, rough cut in to chunks
  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (Original recipe calls for amber ale, I used Sam Adams Pils — use anything, just nothing too hoppy)
  • 1 1/2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs of fresh thyme (tie if you can to remove easier when time to discard)
  • 2/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Season both sides of ribs with salt and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon paprika.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the ribs in batches and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side.  Remove and set aside.
  5. Add the onions and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
  6. Once the onions have cooked, add the remaining 1 teaspoon paprika and season with salt.
  7. Add the beer and bring to a boil (be sure to save a sip for yourself).
  8. Cook until the beer is reduced by half. (make sure to scrap the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the bits).
  9. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and thyme.
  10. When the liquid begins to simmer, return the ribs to the pot and transfer to the oven.
  11. Cook, uncovered, turning the ribs half way through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes (Cooking times are approximate based on size of the ribs.)
  12. Meanwhile, mix the vinegar and honey in a measuring cup.
  13. Remove the pot from the oven and place back on the stove and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  14. Add the vinegar/honey mixture and bring to a boil, then return the pot to the oven.
  15. Continue to braise, uncovered, until the ribs are tender, approximately 20-30 more minutes.
  16. Return the pot to the stove and transfer the ribs to a plate (tent with foil to keep warm) and discard the bay leaves and thyme.
  17. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  18. Return the ribs to the pot and heat through. Serve immediately.

 

Beer Braised Ribs and Sides

Thank me later!

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Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

September 19, 2012 7 comments
Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Lemon Rosemary Chicken

Today I had a great conversation with a co-worker and good friend.  We talked about a bunch of things and he gave me some pretty solid advice.  While most of the conversation was serious, we eventually circled back to food and beer. We got on the topic of my blog which he and his wife really like.  While I mainly do it for myself, I have to admit it’s really nice to know that people not named Dennis actually read it.

During our talk, he gave me some cool compliments and asked, “How long does it take to write a blog entry?”  While I gave him the answer it did give me the idea to do a quick Q&A blog entry.

Here’s a few (and a recipe too).

Q: How long does it take to write a blog entry?
A: Typically I write most entries in less than an hour.  Actually, I write it in less time than that but I always go through a series of revisions, mainly for typos, sometimes for content, to get it to my liking, but I don’t think its ever been longer than an hour.

Q: What was my favorite blog entry to write?
A: My favorite so far is the “Basil-Garlic Rubbed Grilled Pork Chops.” I write this blog for fun, and had a lot of fun writing that story in particular.  To me, it was the essence of what I want my blog to be.  A fun, creative way to tell a story about the meal I’m preparing.  That entry had all the elements that made me want to continue writing.

Q: What was the hardest blog entry to write?
A: The LOST Supper blog was difficult.  Mainly because I felt like I was writing a restaurant review.  I didn’t want it to come off as such so I played around with a couple of different versions before I settled on the one that I ultimately published.

Q: What recipe was I most eager to share?
A: Tie between Shooter’s BBQ Sauce and Shooter’s Secret Spice Dry Rub.  Mainly because they’re tried and true and 100% all mine.  Additionally, anyone that has tried it has liked it (or they lie really well).

Q: What future recipe am I most eager to share?
A: Beer Braised Ribs.  It’s just a delicious recipe.  Good comfort food.  A hearty Fall or Winter warmer.  And most of all, easy to make (psst go buy a dutch oven).

In the meantime, here is another recipe that makes use of my dutch oven.  The original recipe which I adapted from Food Network, says to use a cast iron skillet and that will certainly work, but I don’t have one large enough to accommodate everything in this recipe so I improvised.  I also used dried rosemary instead of fresh and thighs/legs instead of bone-in breasts.  I simply think dark meat stands up better to the high heat.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 red potatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 pieces of dark meat chicken
  • 1 lb mushrooms (button, cremeni) halved
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Over medium heat, boil potatoes until just tender, about 6-8 minutes.  Drain, set aside.
  3. Mince and mash the rosemary, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and red pepper flakes to make a paste.
  4. Transfer the paste to a large bowl and add the juice of one lemon and olive oil.  Mix well.
  5. Add the chicken to the bowl and turn to coat both sides.
  6. Meanwhile, heat a dutch oven (or cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat.
  7. Add chicken skin side down and cook until the skin is golden brown (about 5 minutes).
  8. Flip the chicken.
  9. Add mushrooms, potatoes to the dutch oven with the chicken and drizzle with the juice from the second lemon and the squeezed halves of both lemons.
  10. Add a pinch of kosher salt and a few turns of fresh ground black pepper.
  11. Transfer the dutch oven (or skillet) to the over and cook, uncovered approximately 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is nice and crisp.

 

One Pot plus One Plate

One Pot to One Plate

Chicken Piccata

September 14, 2012 3 comments
Chicken Piccatta

Chicken Piccatta

Ahhh, the chicken breast.  I have such a love-hate relationship with you!

Let’s talk pro’s and con’s of the chicken breast.

Pros:

They’re extremely healthy when the skin is removed.

They’re readily available and I usually always have them on hand.

While more expensive than a chicken’s darker body parts, they’re a lot cheaper than other meats.

There are so many different ways to prepare it (versatility is a cook’s friend).

Cons:

The skin is full of fat and calories.

They need lots of jazzing up otherwise they’re plain, boring, and tasteless.

Overcook the white meant and its more dry than the Arizona Desert.  But if you under cook it, bad things happen.

Damn you chicken breast!!

All kidding aside, the chicken breast really can be a cook’s best friend.  Just find a decent way to keep it healthy while keeping it moist at the same time and your family (and your waistline) will love you for it.

This chicken dish is light, refreshing, and super moist you don’t even need a knife to cut it.

Go easy on the egg and flour and it can be pretty healthy too as each breast comes in at just under 300 calories.

What’s even better is that it is quick to make — easily under 30 minutes — and its cooked in one pan, so clean up is even easier.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large lemon (cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  1. Place chicken breasts between 2 layers of plastic wrap and with a meat mallet, flatten each breast to make thin.
  2. Set up a breading station (1 pan with the beaten egg, 1 pan with the 1/4 cup flour + pinch of salt)
  3. Lightly coat each piece of chicken with flour (shake off excess), then dip each piece in the egg, then again with flour (again, shaking off excess).  Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, add chicken stock, lemon juice from 1/2 of the lemon, and flour. Mix until flour is smooth.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  6. Add chicken and cook 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
  7. Remove chicken from pan, set on clean plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.
  8. Lower heat to medium-low.
  9. Add garlic to pan and cook for 1 minute.
  10. Add broth mixture to pan and stir, making sure the brown bits from the chicken are removed from the pan.
  11. Bring to a boil and continue for 1 minute or until thick.
  12. Add capers and stir.
  13. Plate each piece of chicken and pour some of the cooked mixture over the chicken and garnish with lemon slices from the remaining half of the lemon.
Moist, flavorful chicken

Moist, flavorful chicken

Chicken Cacciatore

September 9, 2012 1 comment
Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

It’s another cool, crisp September day.  I’m beginning to wonder if Summer is behind us and Autumn is here to stay.

If so, that makes me happy.  Its my favorite season.

Something else that would be happy is my Dutch Oven which often gets neglected in the Summer.

Well trusty, heavy-bottomed (I mean that in a nice way) cookware, fear no more, Autumn is your time to shine.

With it’s versatility and ability to retain heat the Dutch Oven is the perfect vessel to cook most anything.  Sauces, soups, stews, chili, and even bread (all you Pinterest junkies know the bread I’m talking about) all get the Dutch workout.

They’re especially good for recipes that require a braise.

One such recipe is Chicken Cacciatore.  (Here’s your Italian lesson – Hunter’s Chicken)

This is another one of those Mom-inspired dishes that is easy.  But like most things she made, the recipe card wasn’t included. So in order for me to recreate it as close as possible, and with my Mom no longer with us, I needed to find a good Italian to show me the way.

Giada De Laurentiis?  Love her but despite her ability to over-enunciate any Italian word with drama and flair, she’s not Italian enough for me.

Guy Fieri?  The name is Italian but that’s about it.

Lidia Bastianich? She has a successful Italian restaurant here in Pittsburgh, but she’s actually Croatian.  Who knew?

Surely somewhere on the information super-highway (people still call it that right) there has to be someone to teach me the way.

That person, and my new favorite chef because of the ease of his recipes is Fabio Viviani.  He reminds me of the way my mom used to cook.  Nothing fancy or over the top – just simple, delicious home cooked dishes.

He was a contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef”.  However, if you’ve never watched (like me) you can see Fabio cook on his web series for Yahoo called Chow Ciao.  It’s humorous, without being obnoxious and really down to Earth.  Highly recommended.  New episodes premiere every Monday.

I followed Fabio’s Chicken Cacciatore recipe pretty closely but made some adjustments to how long I cooked it to guarantee the chicken was fork tender.

Here is his recipe (with my slight modifications).  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp. light olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • Heavy pinch salt
  • 1 cup pitted and sliced olives (I used a combination of kalamata and Sicilian green olives)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of rosemary (Fabio called for sprigs tied together for easy removal, but I didn’t have sprigs)
  • 3 pieces each chicken thighs and drumsticks (6 pieces total)
  • Flour (for coating chicken)
  • A few long pours of olive oil, for sautéing
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cups red wine (make sure its a wine that you would find good enough to drink)
  • 2 cups of marinara sauce
  1. In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, combine onions, garlic, mushrooms, and olives with olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper.
  2. Cook until caramelized, about 5 minutes, then remove to low heat, add thyme.
  3. Meanwhile, generously coat chicken pieces with flour (be sure to shake off the excess)
  4. In a separate pan over medium-high heat, sear the chicken pieces in  olive oil, until crisp on all sides.
  5. Add chicken legs and pan drippings to the dutch oven with the vegetables.
  6. Add the red wine and marinara sauce.
  7. Cover with lid and cook over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked, about 30 minutes.
  8. Serve topped with a small sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Very Filling

It’s called peasant food, but I call it delicious!

Sweet Heat Meatloaf

August 29, 2012 2 comments
Sweet Heat Meatloaf

Sweet Heat Meatloaf

In my opinion, there are 3 basic comfort foods:  macaroni and cheese, anything served with a biscuit on the side, and meatloaf.

As a little kid I was never a big meatloaf fan.  Mainly because I wasn’t thrilled with my mom’s version.  She served it with some sort of  tomato based sauce that she called “gravy.” Sometimes I didn’t know what that little Italian lady was thinking.

But that changed as I grew older and learned to appreciate just about anything my mom put in front of me.

Meatloaf is one of those things that you either love or you hate.  There are cafeteria horror stories that people want to forget and there are memories that bring people back to their happy place.  No in between with meatloaf.

Meatloaf, while pretty basic in nature, still affords many different versions and everyone has their own.  Some use bread crumbs, some use actual bread, and me, I use saltine crackers (but sometimes I use the other things).  Of course everyone has that special something that makes it their family secret.

Then there is the debate of whether to glaze or not to glaze using some tomato based product, typically ketchup.

I like it glazed….my wife doesn’t.  Awkward!

I could do half and half but its not worth it and I just make it her way.  We usually smother with gravy anyway.

I was however, dying for her to give the glazed version a try.

So what did I do? I did the sneak attack version and glazed it but didn’t tell her.  So when it came out of the oven, she smelled something sweet and she was on to me.  I told her to try it….worst case she could cut off the crusty glazed part and still be able to enjoy it.

What I didn’t tell her was the hook, line and sinker that would allow me to glaze it all the time. Instead of ketchup, I used a combination of brown sugar, ketchup and Sriracha. Sweet and spicy, how could she resist?

She didn’t and the rest is history.  Enjoy.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup Sriacha
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 cup saltine crackers, crushed fine
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup and Sriacha.
  3. In a larger bowl mix together the beef, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, ginger, and cracker.
  4. Mix just enough to combine all the ingredients but do not overmix or  your meatloaf will be tough.  The meat should form a nice loaf but will still be tacky.
  5. Meanwhile, spray a 5 x 9 loaf pan with cooking spray.
  6. Press the brown sugar on the bottom of the pan.  Top with the ketchup/Sriacha mix.  Spread evenly.
  7. Place the meatloaf mix on top of the ketchup/Sriacha mix and shape accordingly.
  8. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meatloaf reaches 155.
  9. Remove from oven, drain excess grease from pan and let stand 10 minutes.
  10. Invert meatloaf (brown sugar/glaze will now be on top) on to cutting board and slice to serve.
Sweet Heat Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Heat Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes

Tequila Lime Grilled Chicken

July 8, 2012 4 comments
Tequila Lime Chicken

Tequila Lime Chicken with Grilled Garlic Potatoes

 

Growing up my step-dad grilled 2 types of chicken:  Barbecue and burnt.   I didn’t care much for burnt, but I loved barbecue. I still do and I’ve previously mentioned it would be my “last meal” request.

But I have to admit, as much I love barbecue, slathering a few legs and thighs with sauce every time grilled chicken is on the menu gets old rather quickly.  And who wants boring food. I want flavors that are bold, bright, and diverse. I want ingredients that get the taste buds dancing.

What better way to wake up a dish than by reaching in the liquor cabinet and cooking with alcohol, specifically tequila.

If you're going to drink alcohol, buy good quality

If you’re going to drink alcohol, buy good quality

I have a story or two regarding my experiences with tequila, but not knowing who reads my blog, I’ll have to pass.  Let’s just say I stayed away from the fermented agave for many, many years.

Regardless of my experiences then, its back in the household, mainly for the sipping pleasures of my wife and the occasional use in this dish (which was adapted from cooking light magazine).

Its a perfect recipe for any night of the week as it takes just under 30 minutes to make.  Its sticky and sweet like traditional barbecue sauce but your family or guests will certainly taste the difference.

As an FYI, this grilled chicken is kid friendly as cooking the tequila will remove the alcohol content, but the hint of the tequila is still present.

Ingredients:

Not pictured, the tequila (oops)

Not pictured, the tequila (oops)

  • 6 dark-meat chicken pieces (I used 3 leg quarters)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup of tequila
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons water

Preparation:

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (leaving one burner on low) or set up charcoal grill for indirect cooking
  2. Mix cumin, both chili powders, and salt in a bowl to combine.  Rub on chicken.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and water.  Set aside.
  4. In a medium sized sauce pan, add pineapple juice, tequila and honey.  Bring to a boil. This will be the glaze for basting on the chicken.
  5. When glaze begins to boil, lower heat to simmer and cook until reduced (about 10 minutes).
  6. Add the cornstarch liquid to the reduced glaze, stirring constantly to thicken the glaze.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice, lime zest and red pepper.
  8. When grill is heated, place chicken on the hottest part of the grill and cook 5 minutes each side.
  9. After 10 minutes, move the chicken to the cooler part of the grill and baste with glaze.
  10. Continue basting the chicken on both sides every few minutes while the chicken continues to cook.
  11. Cook until chicken reaches internal temperature of 160 and juices run clear.

Enjoy!

Tequila Lime Chicken

Tequila Lime Chicken

Pork Tacos

June 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Crock Pot Pork Taco

Crock Pot Pork Taco

I’ve lived in Pittsburgh for 35 years and for as long as I can remember, weather in this town has always been a major topic.  Perhaps it is because the city is made up of so many different types of personalities, that weather becomes the one thing everyone relates to.  I get it, but must we obsess?  Must our newscasts devote more than just a minute or two discussing what anyone who has looked or been outside already knows?  Must everyone (and their mother) post a picture of the temperature on Facebook? January and February it gets very cold and it snows. In the summer months its hot and humid.  That’s fact in Pittsburgh – no need to dwell and complain.

Since it is late June and usually that means its hot, sometimes more hot than normal temps (notice I’m stating fact, not complaining), the last thing I want to do is cook.  But alas, I have a family to feed and a blog to write (although the latter is obviously optional).

When the dew point is high and temperatures begin to creep up, grilling becomes my best cooking option.  However, I understand some of my readers may be intimidated by the grill (i.e. bored of the grilled goodness category), so I’m going with a crock pot recipe (which is the next best cooking option when its hot).  If you want to grill, check out my grilled pork tenderloin recipe and serve it up on a tortilla using any toppings you wish.

Grilled Pork Taco

Grilled Pork Taco

Whether you fire up the grill or use the crock pot recipe below, you’ll find both recipes are a cinch to make.  They’ll easily feed a family of 4 (with leftovers) and most importantly neither one will heat up your kitchen on those hot summer days.  I recommend mixing up a delicious frozen Margarita to beat this EXTREME HEAT.  Now if you will excuse me, I need to wipe the sweat from my brow.

Margarita

This cooled me down…and tasted pretty good too

Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 small pork tenderloins (about 1.5 lbs)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock (or 1 cup stock, 1 cup water)
  • 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 1 can of pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed (14 ounce)
  • 1 can of  diced tomatoes (14 ounce)
  • 1 can of green chilies, diced (4 ounce)
  • 1 package of frozen corn
  • 16 corn tortillas
  • Garnish:   Cilantro and Cotija, Queso, or cheddar cheese

Mix together the broth and taco seasoning.

Next, add all ingredients except corn and tortillas to the crock pot cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Once the pork is cooked, shred it and add back to the pot.  Add frozen corn, stir.  Let cook another 30 minutes.

When ready, warm tortillas using a skillet heated with olive oil (30 seconds per side). Place in a warmer (or between a few sheets of paper towels) until ready to use.

Using TWO corn tortillas for each taco (or 1 flour tortilla) add a few heaping spoonfuls of the cooked pork mix using a slotted spoon.  Top with cheese and cilantro.  Finish with a fresh squeeze of lime juice.  ENJOY!

2 Pork Tacos

2 magically delicious and super simple pork tacos