Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Italiano Burger




Italiano Burgers

I had not planned to blog this burger, particularly because I had not taken many pictures, particularly of the process, but it turned out so well, I decided to write a mini-blog.  Enjoy!  This burger is pretty simple and full of delightful flavor. 

Ingredients:
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground Italian sausage
1 package your favorite buns (I used onion buns)
1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh or dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil or, 10 leaves fresh basil, six kept for the burgers as greens, the other four finally chopped, halved

Two tablespoons of dried Italian Seasoning.  🌿🌿🌿

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce 
2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar  
2 cloves garlic, separated
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil +3 tablespoons

 πŸŒΏ Add the dried or fresh herbs to the meats, along with the salt and pepper, pepper flakes, tomato paste, half of the chopped garlic, the dried Italian seasoning and half of the finely chopped basil. Mix thoroughly. 

To a bowl, add the 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, half of the finely chopped garlic, the other half of the finely chopped basil, and the teaspoons of dried or fresh herbs.  Whisk well and set aside to allow the flavors to marry. 

Add the remaining three tablespoon of evoo to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the patties.  I have the meat in a bowl and I score it to the number of burgers (like a pie graph) I am making.  I made four large burgers.  

While waiting for the oil to ripple, making sure it is hot enough to fry in, I toasted the buns under the broiler. 

Add the burgers to the large skillet when the oil begins to ripple.  Leave the burgers alone for at least four minutes and enjoy the fragrance of the herbs as the burgers fry. Turn the burgers after four solid minutes and fry four more minutes. If you like your burgers well done, fry for six minutes per side over medium-high heat. Add mozzarella cheese to the burger tops once cooked on the second side and cover with a foil tent to melt the cheese. 

Remove the burgers and set aside. Open the toasted buns and put whatever condiments you wish. Add a drizzle of the herb sauce to the top and bottom of the burger and top with fresh basil leaves. 

Note the tangy herb sauce dripping off the burger. So flavorful!


The back side of the burger. OH look!  You can see me taking the picture below!  How embarrassing.  πŸ˜Š

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  Sorry for the lack of procedural photos. I must get back into the practice of that, but as I had said, I had not planned to blog this.  It just turned out too nice not to.

Thank You for your time and consideration, as always.  Now, go cook for someone you love!

~Martin
In-House Cook

Friday, June 9, 2017

Cheese and Herbs Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Brown Rice and Veggie Cold Pasta Salad




Cheese and Herbs Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Brown Rice Pasta Salad and Veggies

Ladies and Gentlemen, chicken dinners do NOT have to be boring, but they also do not need to be complicated!  Most of you know that I prefer to work with chicken thighs, but for this dish, chicken breasts are essential.  This two part dish is perfect for summer dinners, for serving guests indoors or outdoors, for parties and reunions, which most often are planned for summers. It is also perfect because it incorporates fresh herbs and vegetables in both the chicken and the pasta salad, and, using brown rice rotini pasta, this is a perfectly healthy dish!

Prep time is about 20 - 30 minutes (if you are distracted by snacks and a cocktail) and cook time is 45 minutes.  

Chicken Breast Ingredients:
3+ nice sized chicken breasts
1+ cups mixed cheeses
     *I used mozzarella, sharp white cheddar and 
       parmesan
3 rounded tablespoons fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, sage, basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme (altogether)
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
3 tablespoons ricotta cheese or mayo
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
non-stick spray

I used my favorite herbs and my favorite cheeses (although Fontina or Oaxaca would be perfect all by itself), and I encourage you to experiment and use herbs and cheeses you would love. 

Before I go on to the pasta salad recipe, I want to finish the recipe for the chicken.  

First, take a paring knife and, carefully, starting at the thick end of the chicken breast, cut a slit in the center of the meat.  Expand the hole a little right and left, interchanging the blade from side-to-side to expand the cavity all the way to the end. Continue with the rest of the breasts, simply salt and pepper both sides, and move on to the stuffing mixture.  

Once mixed, use your fingers or a tea spoon to generously stuff the chicken breasts.  Do not be stingy!  Some of the cheese is going to melt out so be sure to stuff the chicken generously. 


Cheese and herbs mixture

Once the chicken breasts have been prepped and stuffed, wrap with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for thirty minutes so the cheese can set; in that way, less cheese will melt out.  You could close the opening with a toothpick, if you wish. I chose not to.  

Next, Brown Rice Rotini Pasta Salad


I love cold pasta and potato salads. I do love a couple of warm salads, but I am very partial to substantial cold salads in summer that do not rely on wilting greens in summer heat.  I have become obsessed with brown rice pasta, which holds its shape in a vinaigrette, holds up longer than semolina pasta and it is healthy. Do not worry, I am still a semolina pasta hound, too!  I love it all! πŸ’“

Now, let's get to this very easy recipe. As I said before, unless you are distracted by a cocktail, this will take very little time and the end result is a happy flavor explosion! 

Pasta Vinaigrette Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
2 rounded tablespoons fresh thyme, flat leaf Italian  parsley, oregano, basil and garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each
2 tablespoons Mirin
3 tablespoons Pomegranate Vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

Note, if you do not have fresh herbs, dried herbs for the vinaigrette as well as the cheese stuffing for the chicken works just as well. I love to use fresh, in-season herbs as much as possible. 

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together and chill in the frig until you combine the pasta and veggies. 

Meanwhile.......

Bring about four quarts of generously salted water to a roiling boil. 

On a clean cutting board, sliver a red onion or two shallots, finely chop a large or two small cloves garlic, finely chop flat leaf Italian parsley, sage and basil, and halve two pints of baby heirloom or baby tomato medley.  Finely chop scallion greens. Toss all into a large bowl. 

*Note: I also added a package of shredded broccoli and red cabbage to the salad to give it crunch and more healthy substantial greens. 

Add one pound, or, one package of brown rice pasta (your favorite; I used rotini) to the boiling salted water and stir to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Boil the pasta about ten to twelve minutes, a bit more than al dente. You will want the cooking process to stop abruptly, which is why I cook it a little more than al dente.  (Al dente is just about done). 

At this time, remove the chicken from the refrigerator. 

Drain the pasta and - although I have been taught never to do this, I want the cooking process to abruptly stop, as I mentioned a moment ago - rinse with cool water.  If you are worried about your tap water, pour chilled bottled water to rinse the pasta. The thing is, if you are on a timeline, you do not have all afternoon to chill the pasta tossed with the veg and vinaigrette; cool the pasta with water, despite it being a gastronomical no-no, and toss the pasta with the vegetables and vinaigrette, then chill as long as possible in the refrigerator. 

Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.

Now, add two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to ripple, add the chicken, stuffing end toward the edge of the skillet. Saute or sear for about three minutes per side or until it begins to form a golden crust. This will help keep the juices in while oven finishing. Repeat on the other side.  



Place foil into a baking pan, spray the lining with non-stick spray and oven roast for 40-minutes. Check the internal temperature; should be about 170-degrees or so.  And do not worry, as I said earlier, some of the cheese will melt out, but if you generously stuffed it, as I stated, there will be plenty of flavorful stuffing remaining. 

I safely plated the chicken over a healthy helping of the pasta salad, whole.  But in hindsight, I should have sliced it and served it atop the salad.  


I hope that you will try this delicious dish, either one or both!  It is far less complicated than it sounds.  It is perfect for dinner for a couple or for a family. It can be grilled (hot side then cooler side) or fully oven roasted.  

As always, I appreciate your time and readership!  

Now, go cook for someone you love!  

Martin
In-House Cook

















Sunday, May 7, 2017

It's All About the Sides...About the Sides.....About the sides...Three Delicious Side Dishes!!!




Cuz It's All About the Sides, About the Sides.....

All of my posts since May 31, 2012, when I posted my very first recipe on this site, have been either a main protein or pasta of a meal, but I have never focused on sides much.  Today, this post is all about the sides.  Three of them, to be exact. First, pasta nests, next, new potato bacon-wrapped roses and finally, a fresh, zingy herb and tomato rotelle pasta salad. Let's just get to it, shall we? 

I first made pasta nests as a main dish, but I realized that this is quite a practical side dish and should be served with a protein, such as lamb, chicken or pork or a main vegetable.  I purchased linguine pasta nests at my local grocer.  I made a simple mix of onion, garlic and tomato medley (different small tomatoes I halved) and herbs. Now, when I first made this I tossed the aromatics and tomatoes with Italian sausage, garnished with crisped pancetta, shaved parmesan and herbs, but I realized then that this should be a delectable side dish without the sausage. It was great with it, but as a side dish, perfect as a sauceless pasta side. 


One pint fresh halved tomato medley, two cloves finely chopped garlic and half yellow onion, finely chopped; 4 rolled, chiffonade basil leaves, three fresh thyme sprigs and 3 fresh oregano sprigs, leaves stripped.


Bring a pot with about for quarts of water to a boil and liberally salt the water and stir.  Use tongs or a spider (kitchen tool) to gently add the nests to the water.  Let them be and do not tough them.  They should remain intact.  Let them boil untouched about eight minutes or however long your package says to cook them to al dente. Remove the nests when done and place the nests on a wire rack covered by a paper towel until to allow the extra water to drain. If you are not going to use them immediately, cover them with foil to keep the nests moist.  Try to use them immediately after they drain. 

Meanwhile, in a skillet with three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, saute the onion, garlic, flat leaf Italian parsley, salt and pepper until the onions are just translucent.  Add the tomatoes and a tab of butter. This will help add a sheen to the aromatics and tomatoes. Add the thyme leaves and half of the basil and stir.  This process should take no more than ten minutes, tops.  Next, plate the nest with the main protein and add a ladle of the saute over the top of the nest and garnish with some of the remaining basil and fresh shaved parmesan cheese. 


This is a photo of a nest with the saute including Italian sausage, crisped pancetta, aged balsamic drizzle, fresh shaved parmesan and chiffonade basil. Delicious as a main dish, fantastic and elegant as a side dish!

Now, on to the Rose Garden.....

While I certainly wish I could claim this as my own brilliant idea, I cannot.  I saw it on Facebook and decided to make it, myself.  Easy, flavorful and beautiful. Now, I did not follow the exact directions. I was under a time crunch and had to improvise a bit. This is what I did....

I took six round red new potatoes and washed them well.  I used a mandolin to slice the potatoes into thin discs.  My mistake was to shave them too thick. I had in my pantry a bottle of chimichurri sauce and poured a good cup of it into a bowl and retrieved a brush.  The original video recipe called for a fresh herb chimichurri with melted butter.  

On a cutting board used just for the rose process, I laid out six strips of hickory smoked bacon. I brushed each slice with the chimichurri and layered the potato discs like scales from one end of the bacon to the other and brushed them with the chimichurri and sprinkled with finely grated Fontina and parmesan cheeses. Before rolling, I preheated the oven to 350-degrees and sprayed a regular-sized muffin pan with non-stick extra virgin olive oil spray. 


I folded over the bacon and potato closest to me and tightly rolled it until the opposite end was met. Next, I took the rolled rose and placed it carefully into a sprayed muffin tin.  I repeated the process five more times until I had six roses.  Being my first time, they did not all turn out beautiful, but I was able to get a great photo or two. I had served these with my favorite ribeye steak. 

This one turned out beautifully. 

I baked the roses for twenty minutes until golden brown, but I have learned that thirty minutes is even better for crisping the bacon wrapper, depending on the calibration of your oven. Thirty for mine, for sure. 

In any event, allow the roses to rest a few minutes before removing from the muffin tin. Be careful when removing; use a narrow spatula to encircle the muffin tin and gently scoop out the rose and plate it. 



As I mentioned above, I served the roses with a seasoned and seared ribeye steak, my favorite steak. 


I love adding butter and fresh herbs to the skillet or cast iron skillet to baste and flavor the steak. 






***And Now, My Tangy Cool Pasta Salad***



I have had the pleasure - well, mostly - of tasting as well as making dozens of pasta salad recipes since the 1980's when I was a darn good griller.  I am, still, a good griller, but I had more time to grill back then.  I also had much more hair, an actual neck and a waistline, but it is all good and relative. 😏  This pasta salad took several years of trial and error, different ingredients, different pastas, different dressings.  My homemade vinaigrette dressing and fresh herbs and rotelle pasta have become my utter favorite. Let's get to it, shall we?

Ingredients
1 cucumber, partly peeled and sliced into small cubes
3 scallions w/greens, sliced at an angle
2 shallots, finely sliced into crescents
3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf Italian parsley 
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, grated
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 pound rotelle or rotini pasta


Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 rounded teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
3 fresh basil leaves, rolled, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh grated parmigiano-reggiano
zest of one lemon and juice of half a lemon

The prep-work is the hard part and takes about twenty minutes. The rest is a breeze and when chilled and the vinaigrette allowed to marry with the pasta and the veg and herbs, the result is deliciousness on a grand scale. 




Once you have made the vinaigrette to your liking, reserve 1/4 cup of it.  Set aside in the frig. 

Bring four quarts of water to a roiling boil and liberally salt it.  Yes, you know......it is your only chance to season the pasta.  Add one pound of the rotelle or your favorite pasta salad pasta and cook just beyond al dente by a minute or two.  Strain and set aside to begin cooling.  

After about four minutes, use a spoon to toss the pasta to keep it from sticking.  I chose rotelle (though any tightly spiral pasta, such as rotini, works great) because its spiral collects the sauce and herbs very well.  Add the fresh herbs and veggies to the vinaigrette and stir.  Little-by-little, add a cup of pasta to the vinaigrette and veg and toss to allow the vinaigrette to coat all the pasta evenly. 


The longer you can allow the pasta to marry with the vinaigrette, the better.  The salad should cool in the frig for at least two hours prior to serving, but chilling for several hours would be best.  Even overnight.  That is why I reserved some of the vinaigrette. I add it to the salad shortly prior to serving and toss it again to freshen it up a bit. Adding a drizzle of evoo is a delicious way to brighten up the salad, too!


I served this salad with a delectable, savory, cheesy burger. 


  I hope you enjoyed this rather rambling blog post, for which I am grateful for your attention and time!!! I hope you have formulated some ideas for sides and have been inspired by one or all of these recipes.  Make them your own and enjoy!  

Now, go cook something for someone you love!❤ 




Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Fettuccine with Grilled Chicken




Rice Fettuccine and Grilled Chicken

One of the world's best loved comfort foods is pasta and it sure is one of my favorites.  I had the pleasure of cooking for some friends the other night, and, with the request for a healthy meal, I went directly to my favorite pasta creation,  my sauce-less pasta.  To keep it gastronomically healthy, I chose rice pasta and fresh tomatoes, garlic and shallot.  To serve alongside this delicious, filling pasta dish, I marinated and grilled boneless/skinless chicken thighs.  My friend made a delightful salad which added to the healthful meal. This pasta, alone, will feed four or five people with one pound of pasta.  I'd love to share this recipe with you, and that of the chicken. Let's get started, shall we?

Pasta Ingredients
1 pound rice fettuccine (or your favorite pasta)
1 large or 2 medium shallots, sliced into crescents
2 pints tomato medley, halved
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
zest of one lemon, halved
4 tabs butter
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Halved tomato medley

After prepping the tomatoes and aromatics, prepare the marinade for the chicken thighs.  

Chicken Thigh Marinade
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
6 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon green tea
1 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons pomegranate red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin

In a medium bowl, add the liquid marinade ingredients. Next, add the dry ingredients and whisk together vigorously.  Next, add half of the marinade.  Add the chicken thighs open side down and pour the remaining marinade atop the chicken.  Allow the thighs to marinate for at least thirty minutes, though an hour or more would be best to allow the acids to begin to soften the tissues and the flavors to marry and settle in. Again, whatever time you have available will do. 


Heat up a grill plate or fire up the barbecue once you are ready to grill the chicken, and, place a large pot with about four quarts of water over high heat.  Rub evoo onto the grill plate or spray non-stick spray over the grill prior to heating.  The big idea with the chicken is to let it be; do not constantly turn it.  Let it grill for at least six minutes per side; if the chicken does not readily release, let it continue until it readily releases. The grill marks will be clear and the color a nice gold. The aroma is going to take your sinuses on quite a wonderful journey!


When the pot of water comes to a roiling boil, liberally salt the water, as it is the only chance you have to season the pasta.  Add the pound of pasta to the boiling water and stir to make sure the pasta does not stick to the bottom of the pot.  Stir occasionally to continue to prevent this. Cook the pasta until al dente, just shy of the eight to twelve minutes in the package directions.  

Strain the pasta in a strainer, but, save about half a cup or so of the pasta water.  Let the pasta sit for a moment while you add the tabs of butter and the evoo and a little fresh garlic to the pasta pot over medium heat.  Add the pasta, half of the cup of water along with the garlic, shallot and tomatoes and toss together to coat the pasta evenly and allow the flavors to marry.  Add some fresh grated parmesan cheese to the pot, about a quarter cup and toss to incorporate the cheese.  The aroma will be simply amazing. 

Remove from the heat and allow the pasta to sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to marry. I like to add the pasta to a platter and allow the people to serve themselves buffet style. This makes it more fun and people can give themselves the amount of food they want. 

Meanwhile, the chicken should be done, removed from the grill plate and allow it to rest a few minutes.  Now to plate.  Either slice the chicken or serve whole.  I served it whole.  


Pasta Plated Familia Style

My friend, Spinner, made a lovely salad which balanced out the dish very well.  I garnished the chicken with fresh thyme and garnished the pasta platter with finely chopped flat leaf Italian parsley. 

 As always, I am humbled and grateful for your readership and consideration!  Now, go cook for someone you love!

Martin
In-House Cook

Thursday, March 23, 2017




Arepa Mania!!!
Venezuelan Arepa's Two Ways

As you know, I have been on a quest to make Arepas, a sort of English-muffin-like "pan" made with fine white corn meal and, as we all know, I have not been quite successful.  Until now!  Two of my friends from Venezuela recommended a particular brand of white corn meal to use.  I went to EVERY mom and pop Mexican grocer and large Latino grocers in my town and then some and I could NOT find it Anywhere!  And then, more than ironically, I found it in a large box store quite by accident. I will leave it there. 

This obsession with making authentic Venezuelan Arepas came at an opportune time for me. As I have alluded to on my humble blog's facebook site, In-House Cook (please look me up!), life sometimes throws monkey wrenches into your goals and plans in life and deflates you, and wrecks you. Despite things happening, when the going gets tough, I get to the kitchen.  And that is just what I did.  Twice. It seems that from pain has come two pretty darn amazing Arepas, one with chicken and one with flat iron steak; both seasoned, marinated and seared.  Let's get to the recipes, shall we?

The filling for my first successful batch last weekend I had incorporated chicken which I'd seasoned, marinated, seared and braised. Let's get to my spice rub and marinade, first. While the theme was certainly Latin flavors, I changed up my spice mix a bit but my aromatics are the usual suspects. 😊 


2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground chile ancho
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano

and

Fresh Ingredients for both the marinade and for braising...

2 Fresno chiles, sliced into rings
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup diced fire roasted green chile



Some of the braising ingredients: Salsa Ranchera, diced fire roasted green chiles, fire roasted diced tomatoes and 2/3 bottle of Mexican beer. Not included in the photo (I forgot):  1 8-ounce can El Pato Sauce (spicy tomato sauce). 

I seasoned six boneless/skinless chicken breasts, let them sit for thirty minutes.  Next, I added a third of the beer, a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of onion and a bit of cilantro and fresh oregano, salt and pepper, two tablespoons mirin, two tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, two tablespoons El Pato sauce and two tablespoons red wine vinegar to a large bowl and whisked it togetgher.  I added the chicken to the bowl and allowed the chicken to marinate for an hour. 


After an hour marinating, I added four tablespoons evoo to a large skillet over medium-high heat and I seared the chicken thighs until a good crust formed; on a couple, the marinade even blackened, which added amazing flavor.  Sadly, I have also suffered from bronchitis the last 13 days, and last weekend I could not smell Anything (still cannot) but, I can taste just fine. So, I am sure the aroma was just as incredible as the taste turned out to be.  The dog I was dog-sitting sat with me in the kitchen the entire time licking her chops, so I am quite sure it smelled pretty wonderful.  

After seering the chicken about three minutes per side in the hot skillet, I removed the thighs and plated them and set that aside. To a large dutch oven, I added the drippings after scraping the skillet with a wooden spoon to get up the burnt bits up, also over medium-high heat.  I added the onion to that, sauteed it for three minutes, then added the remaining garlic, sauteed for another two minutes. I did not add salt to the onion because of the salt in the rub already on the chicken and in the marinade. 
Next, I added the beer, a cup or two of water, diced tomatoes, the remaining roasted green chiles, the remaining El Pato sauce, the salsa ranchera and stirred well and brought the mix to a boil. I added another tablespoon of my spice blend and also fresh oregano sprigs and a little fresh cilantro, and nestled the chicken thighs into the mixture in the dutch oven. The chicken should be slightly submerged.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to simmer low and slow for two hours. 







After two hours, the chicken will fall apart. You may need a slotted spoon to get it all out, because the chicken will fall apart, I promise!!! After you get all of the chicken out, raise the heat to medium-high again, and reduce the remaining sauce by two-thirds, so it is thick. Use the wooden spoon to stir every minute or two to prevent burning. You will add some of the reduced sauce to the shredded chicken. Trust me, this is incredible flavor!

While awaiting the sauce reduction, take two forks and shred the chicken that did not readily fall apart. This will literally take two minutes. When the sauce has reduced by two thirds, which should take about fifteen minutes, add a heaping ladle or two to the chicken and toss the chicken with the sauce.  Add more sauce, if you wish!

Now, with the chicken handled, turn your sites to the arepas.  This process is so simple and easy and it is so versatile; there is practically no end to the flavors you can add to the corn meal, sweet or savory!  I went on a bird walk, sorry, but as I mentioned previously, it my new obsession! πŸ˜‹



First, you have to get your hands on fine white corn meal.  As I mentioned above, it was quite a search for me, but I finally found it.  Follow the directions on the package.  I added two cups of water to a large bowl and added 2.5 cups of the white corn meal, half a teaspoon of garlic salt and a teaspoon of ground cumin, a little at a time to the water and whisked it until the batter became too thick, until it became a dough ball.  I let the dough ball rest for three minutes, per the directions. I had added some of the corn meal to a cutting board and allowed the dough to rest on that. Afterward, I separated the dough into sections, rolled it into balls, and created English Muffin sized round about half-inch thick discs.  This is a little larger than the directions state to, and I did not make ten dough balls, but six. That was just my conscious decision. 


In a skillet over medium-heat, I sprayed the skillet with evoo non-stick spray.  I also sprayed the arepa disc tops and placed them sprayed side down.  While the directions state you should fry the arepas about 3.5 minutes per side, because mine were larger, I had to fry them eight to ten minutes, until they gained a golden brown color. 


Finally, I used a break knife to cut the arepas once they had cooled for a few minutes. Because they remain hot inside longer than the outside, I learned to immediately add cheese to the top and bottom of the arepa, then add filling.  I also added torn fresh cilantro the arepas.  



One more!!!


But wait!  We are not done yet!  Yesterday, I created an all new filling!  I was delighted, however, when my two Venezuelan friends both told me how authentic these looked and that I had done well.  How humbling! And what an amazing feeling!

Now.....Onto Carne Asada Arepas!


Carne Asada Arepa

While the chicken was quite a luscious, intensely flavorful filling, this flat iron steak arepa filling was insanely delicious!  And I promise, this recipe is far shorter but much more eye-brow raising than the previous recipe.  I took some very unusual flavor risks which paid off amazingly.  Let's get to it, shall we?

Ingredients
1 - 2 flat iron steaks (one small steak feeds two)
1 yellow or red onion, 1/4 finely chopped, the remainder sliced into crescents
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
fresh oregano and thyme, 4 sprigs each






Spices
1 teaspoon green tea
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 rounded tablespoon smoked paprika

Additional ingredients for the marinade
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 generous tablespoons Mirin
1.5 cups Mexican beer (I used Tecate)
1 cup ruby red grapefruit juice
1 cup cranberry-pomegranate juice
1/2 cup El Pato (spicy tomato sauce)

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  




Add the dried spices and herbs to a bowl and mix well.  Add half of the spice mix to the flat iron steaks and set aside for thirty minutes. 

Add the additional liquid marinade ingredients and the remaining dried spices and fresh herbs to a large bowl and whisk together well. 


Pour some of the marinade to the bottom of a rectangular pan and place the meat atop it.  Pour the remaining marinade atop the meat.  Use a fork or tongs to snuggle the meat into the marinade as best as possible.  


Place the remaining fresh herb sprigs to the marinade. 

Marinate the meat for an hour, if possible.  I had the time, and I actually marinated the meat for two hours. 

Sear or grill the carne asada (flat iron steaks) as you wish, at least four minutes per side.  As you can tell, I prefer my steak rare but with a good caramelized crust.  Remember friends, color means flavor!!!



Color means flavor!

After searing or grilling the carne asada, remove it to a cutting board and allow it to rest a several minutes; the meat will continue to cook a little bit and the juices will redistribute. These are all good things!



Slice the meat after several minutes. 

Next, following the directions on the package (as mentioned in the chicken filling recipe, above), make the arepas.  



Use a bread knife to slice open the arepas like an English muffin.  In my case, the arepa was so hot inside that I jumped at the chance to place cheese on both the top and bottom to start melting.  Deliciousness! Add any sauce you want, if any, cilantro, or whatever greens or slaw you wish.  I went simple, cilantro, my favorite hot sauce and closed up shop.  What delicious eating!





I hope you will try one or both of these arepa fillings and make it your own! This is a true comfort food winner, and, despite my ramblings, the time involved is only what you can offer it.  If you cannot marinade meat, then spice rub and sear. You will not, however, regret it if you make this when you have a nice lazy afternoon to give the meats time to marinate.  

As always, friends, Thank You for your time and consideration!  Now, go cook something great for someone you love!!!  

~Martin
In-House Cook