Saturday, March 19, 2016

Pomegranate Pork Ribs with Deconstructed Caprese Salad Bruschetta

So if you have a lazy afternoon and some time to kill, this is a perfect dish to entertain family or friends, or, all of the above!  Maybe just a nice afternoon with the fam or your significant other.  OR hey, why not just by yourself?  You deserve a bit of culinary pampering.  The pomegranate bbq sauce is very simple, very easy and the caprese bruschetta could not be more refeshing and tasty. Let's get started on the pomegranate bbq sauce.

Pomegranate BBQ Sauce 
1 12-ounce bottle 100% Pomegranate juice
2 cups ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 shallot, grated
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Chinese chile paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons Ponzu  (Citrus Soy Sauce)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
(optional, but I love the bite it gives: 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar)
1 tablespoon grape seed oil

Add the oil to a small sauce pan or pot over medium-high heat.  When the oil ripples, add the shallot and garlic and saute three minutes.  Add the pomegranate juice and bring to a boil. Add all of the of the rest of the ingredients, one at a time and stir in well.  Bring to a boil, stir well and reduce the heat to low.  Allow the sauce to gently simmer partly uncovered for 45 minutes. Uncover and simmer, at the same heat, for another fifteen minutes.  Remove from the heat.  The sauce will then thicken as it cools.  If not, that is ok.  Add a teaspoon of cornstarch over medium-high heat and stir vigorously.  Bring it back to a boil and then remove from the heat altogether. Alright!  The sauce is ready!

Bring the ribs to room temperature, about 30 minutes, unwrapped. 

Pork Ribs Rub 
It is best to have a coffee or spice grinder for this.  To a spice grinder add:

2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon chile molido
1 tablespoon cumin seed or powder
2 teaspoons salt'
1 rounded teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated or powdered onion
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes

Grind all in at the spice grinder until fine.  Place is a bowl and set aside for a minute.  Place the meat on a cutting board or plastic cutting board and generously rub the spices all over the ribs.  (Note:  There is a membrane beneath the slab you may want to remove or trim off first.  Some chefs insist on removing it and others do not, particularly those who smoke the ribs).  

Now we're getting places!

If you are going to grill the ribs, you want to have a cool side and a hot side.  The cool side is to cook them through and the hot side is to caramelize the sauce onto the meat.  It was a wonderfully rainy day, however, where I live, so I slow roasted them, foil covered,  in my oven at 250 for 2.5 hours with a tiny splash of water in the pan.  (See grill rack above). 

While the ribs were sloooooowwwwwlllyyyy roasting, I put together my Deconstructed Caprese Salad Bruschetta.  Here is what I did.  Very simple, very easy. I cubed one round of mozzarella and seeded and cubed six roma tomatoes.  I made a simple balsamic vinaigrette to marinate the cheese and tomatoes in. 

1/4 cup evoo, 1 tablespoon mirin, 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard, 1 small shallot, grated, 1 clove garlic, grated, salt and pepper and 6 basil leaves, chiffonade. I tossed the cheese and tomatoes with the marinade and set it all in the refrigerator.  

Meanwhile, I toasted several small small slices of sourdough brushed with evoo and set those aside for later. 

Back to the ribs.  When the ribs have cooked with just a tiny bit of pink showing, time to for the hot side of the grill or time to crank up the heat in the oven. Generously brush or squirt sauce onto the bottom (rib bone side) of the rack and place under high heat for upwards of five minutes to allow the sugars in the sauce to caramelize onto the meat.  Turn, and repeat the process two or three more times.  

After a good twelve to fifteen minutes of hot grilling or hot (even broil) oven roasting, the ribs should be perfectly ready.  You want them to be juicy but the have that generously caramelized sauce on the outside.  Just not Crunchy Sauce.  Time to let them rest, redistribute their juices and allow the sauce to cling to the cooling meat. 

Slice when ready and serve with the Caprese Brushcetta.  Simply add a good spoon full of the caprese to the bread, place some of the sliced ribs onto the plate, make sure you have a fantastic drink and a big pile of thick paper towels!  Trust me, you are going to need them!  

My Deconstructed Caprese Salad Bruschetta

Give yourself Plenty of Room!!!

Thank You, friends, for your time and consideration!  I hope you take the time to go cook for someone you love!  And with spring well on the way, why not this???  

Welcome to Another Episode of ....
What I Have Been Up To 
In My Kitchen

I have been so belated in relaying to you some of my dishes.  Some I just was not sure I wanted to blog about, although they turned out really well.  This is one of them.  I do not even have a catchy name for it.  How about Pasta Pollo di Pomodoro? Pasta with Chicken and Tomatoes. Let's go with that.  Sounds very official. This dish is so simple it could easily be a thirty minute meal, or less.  Here's my starting line-up:

1 pound your favorite pasta (I used penne rigate)
1 pound chicken, cubed (I used four chicken thighs, which I like better than the breasts)
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes, whole
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning
2-4 sprigs fresh herb, your choice, as garnish (I used oregano) 
Parmigiano-reggiano or Romano Cheese, finely grated, about 2 rounded tablespoons
salt and pepper
zest and juice of one lemon

Cube the chicken and season with salt and pepper and set aside.  In a bowl, add the zest and juice of the lemon, half of the garlic and onion and half of the evoo and half of the dry Italian seasoning.  Whisk together and add the chicken and toss until fully coated.  Set the bowl aside.  

After fifteen minutes or so, add the other half of the evoo to a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken, the rest of the garlic and onion and the zesty marinade to the skillet. Saute the chicken until it begins to caramelize. At that point, bring four quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.  When the water begins to roil, add a generous helping of salt, as it is the only chance you get to season the pasta.  Add the pasta and stir to prevent sticking to the hot bottom of the pot.  

Now, add the tomatoes to the skillet and gently saute, reducing the heat to medium. Some of the tomatoes will burst, but some will remain intact, which is what you really want.  Add the remaining dry Italian seasoning, a little salt and pepper, stir, and saute gently for five minutes. 

Once the pasta has cooked, add the chicken and tomatoes to the large pasta pot or add the pasta to the chicken and pomodoro (tomatoes).  Toss the pasta with the tomatoes and allow the pasta to absorb all of those flavors. You might even want to add a little red pepper flakes now if you would like it to be a little spicy, or, a finely diced Fresno chile. 

Bowl or plate, or family style, top and/or toss with the cheese you have chosen and whatever your garnish is.  

Serve and Enjoy!

Fried Onion Bistro Burger

Of course it is not a surprise that I would have yet ANOTHER BURGER for this episode, as I usually have at least one sammy or burger per episode.  This is so simple and huge that you may not even be able to finish one.  I suggest paring down the ingredients, as I use two pounds of beef.  If you like your burgers small and more manageable, one pound or 1.4 pounds should be fine for you. IF you like a challenge, however, two pounds is for you!
Let's get started.  This is a pretty quick meal, but a little longer than thirty minutes, particularly if the burgers are larger than half a pound. 

1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
2/3 red onion, sliced into slivers or rings  and 1/3 finely chopped and reserved
2 cloves garlic, one smashed and one finely chopped or grated
cheesey Kaiser or Dutch Crunch buns (whatever your preference of buns is, really)
2 Fresno chiles, ribbed and seeded, sliced into rings
Bacon, seasoned with chile Molida or Chipotle poweder, 3 per burger
eggs (one per burger, or two, if you are really wanting a challenge!)
1 cup vegetable or canola oil, or grape seed oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons chipotle powder, separated
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds or powder
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon stone ground mustard with white wine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Cheddar, Swiss or Provolone cheese (whatever you like, really.  I used Provolone)

Add the cup of oil to a sauce pan or small pot over high heat.  Add the crushed garlic clove.  When the clove begins to sizzle, remove it immediately. When the heat reaches 350 degrees (use a candy thermometer), add a batch of the onions and Fresno chile rings and fry them about five minutes.  Remove to paper towels and sprinkle a little flaky salt on them. Finish the onion and chiles and set aside to crisp. 

Next, fry the bacon and eggs.  Season gently with one of the tablespoons of chipotle powder. I like three slices per burger.  IF you are daring, go four!  (I am Not a good influence, sorry!). Place the bacon on a paper towel or rack over paper towels to crisp up and drain the fat. In addition, drain 2/3 of the fat from your skillet.  Fry the eggs afterward. Follow the same procedure as the bacon. Place the drained bacon fat in a glass jar with a tight lid. You can use this fat to start omlettes and other savory dishes. 

Combine both pounds of beef in a large bowl, along with the 1/3 onion and one finely chopped garlic clove.  Add stone ground mustard, spice blend and Worcestershire sauce. Score the meat to make at least four large or six smaller burgers.  Your choice.  Form the patties and set aside to set. 

Meanwhile, turn the oven on to broil.  Lightly brush evoo or spray with evoo, or butter and broil the buns until golden.   

Fry up the burgers, about five or six minutes per side, or, if you are making four, eight minutes per side.  A dark delicious crust will form.  I like to create a tin foil tent and melt the cheese onto my burger, but everyone is different. Enjoy whatever you like to do!

Dress up the burger buns however you wish.  I like to put my sriracha, garlic, citrus aioli on the bottom, the burger atop that, the egg  over the burger, a heap of the fried onion and Fresno chile atop the egg, bacon atop the egg and the top bun slathered with mustard or my aioli.  You dress it up however you like!

Now you are ready for a belly filling feast!  Do not be ashamed if you must cut the burger in half.  It is a HUGE BURGER!!!

And Finally.........

Egg Strata, Potatoes and Andouille Sausasge Breakfast

This is a very easy, semi-homemade meal that feeds the heartiest of appetites and will not keep the cook in the kitchen all morning long  The hardest part is waiting for it to be plated and served. Let's get to this last dish of this episode.....

1 bag frozen Potatoes O'Brien
1 package Andouille or Jalapeno sausages (or both!)
9 eggs
1/2 cup of your favorite melting cheese
2 tablespoons of your favorite fresh herb medley (I used rosemary, thyme, sage and      oregano), separated
1 small can fire roasted diced green chile
Toast  (I have fallen in love with King's Hawaiian breads)
3 pads butter or 3 tablespoons vegetable, grapeseed, sunflower or canola oil

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

In the large skillet (which you are going to fry the potatoes in), add a good tablespoon of olive oil and bring to a ripple after angularly slicing the andouille sausages. Saute them until there is a nice crust on the angular sides. Remove them, leave the oil and prepare to add the potatoes. 

In the same large skillet, add the oil over high heat, swirl around the skillet to cover the entire bottom and sides.  When the oil ripples, add the frozen Potatoes O'Brien.  Reduce the heat to medium-high after a minute to prevent immediate burning, but we do want the frozen part to feel the heat and thaw and cook practically immediately. Potatoes O'Brien come with chopped red and green bell peppers and onion.  Add the half of the fresh herb medley. Allow the potatoes to simply sit there for about six or seven minutes with a tin foil tent atop the skillet before turning.  The bottom should be golden brown.  IF not, allow another three or four minutes to allow that. Then turn.  Gently add a little more oil if needed to prevent scorching and burned on potatoes. Too much oil makes a glop.  

In a separate, oven-safe skillet skillet, add a tab or butter and allow it to melt slowly. Into a medium bowl, crack the 9 eggs, add the small can of fire roasted diced green chiles, half of the fresh herb medley, a little salt and pepper and whisk until well beaten. Add to the skillet once the butter has melted over medium heat. Allow the sides of the strata to set.  Sprinkle some of the cheese all over the top of the strata before placing the skillet into the oven for 20 minutes. 

After twenty-five minutes, stick a light colored toothpick into the center of the strata.  If it comes out clean, it is done.  IF there is some loose egg on it, put the skillet back into the oven for six more minutes.  Follow the same procedure to check.  Different ovens have different cook times.  I am going by my old 1982 GE oven. 

Meanwhile, ten minutes before the egg strata is finished, add the sausages back to the potatoes and toss.  Reduce the heat to low. 

When done, remove the strata and allow it to set and cool.  After ten minutes, slice into h owever many pieces you need, serve atop a bed of the golden potatoes and sprinkle it all with a little more cheese.  Enjoy your favorite toast and jam (I enjoyed blackberry jam) with this diner meal. 

As always, Thank You for your time and consideration, friends!  I hope you take some time to try one or all of these meals and drop me a line letting me know what you think as well as how you changed it up to make it your own and meet your own palette.  
Now, go cook something for someone you love!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pasta Paccheri di Capsicum

I recently visited my local and favorite butcher shoppe, Lakewood Meats, whom you can follow on Facebook and order online several amazing imported Italian specialty pastas and much more, and fell in love with Paccheri, a large smooth tube pasta, about two inches in length.  I immediately decided on a beefy bolognese, but, when the time came to prepare it, I had decided on a beefy tomato-based sauce with peppers, instead. The layers of ingredients, spices and herbs and their insanely delightful aromas turned me into a cartoon character floating in the kitchen, mesmerized.  Do not take my word for it, please make it for yourself and Tell Me you do not react the same way!  Let's get to it then!

1 28-ounce can tomato puree (I use Cento)
1 14.5-ounce can of diced fire roasted Italian tomatoes
4 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1 large red and yellow (or whatever your choices might be) bell peppers, ribbed, seeded and cubed
2 large Fresno chiles, ribbed and seeded and sliced into rings
4 - 6 leaves fresh basil, rolled and chiffonade (sliced into ribbons) 
3 small sprigs fresh oregano, leaves pulled backwards from the stem and finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck or Italian sausage
Parmigiano-reggiano cheese, shaved and/or grated
1 package of Parecchi pasta
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons dry Italian seasoning
1/4 cup wine or a splash of red wine vinegar

To start, crush and peel the garlic and add it to a large high-sided skillet or pot with the evoo (extra virgin olive oil) over lowest heat.  To season the evoo, you must add the garlic to room temperature oil and slowly turn up the heat very gradually, little-by-little. (I could not stress that enough, as you do not want the garlic to turn the oil rancid by being heated too quickly). Once the garlic begins to sizzle upon bringing the oil up to near medium heat, add the Fresno chile rings. They will saute after ten minutes, remove the chile rings and set them aside.

The Fresno chiles will also season the oil.  Once the chile rings have begun to blacken, remove them and set them on paper towels. 

Next, add the onion and add a little salt to them to help them sweat out their sugars.  Toss with a wooden spoon or heat resistant spatula.  While the onions saute, finely chop the garlic cloves and add them back to the sauce pan.  By now, the onions should start becoming a bit translucent.  Move the aromatics off to the sides of the pan and add the two pounds of ground beef.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and crumble over medium-high heat.  Add one of the tablespoons of dry Italian seasoning and incorporate well with the onions and garlic.  Next, add the can of diced fire roasted Italian tomatoes and a quarter of the can full of water.  Stir it all together well and bring to a boil.  Add the wine or red wine vinegar (or both) and stir well for about five minutes until the wine has begun reducing. Add the cubed peppers and saute four more minutes.  Add the large can of tomato puree and stir in completely.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add half of the fresh herbs (basil and oregano) and the last half of the dry Italian seasoning.  Again, incorporate well.  Reduce the heat to low to simmer for one hour, partly covered (mostly covered).  

After one hour, remove the lid, add the remaining half of the fresh herbs and continue to simmer for thirty minutes more to thicken the sauce.  Meanwhile, bring 6 - 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, salt liberally, as it is the only chance you have to season the pasta, and these are large pasta, ergo the larger amount of water than usual, and add the pasta to the seasoned, roiling boil.  Cook the past to just about al dente, about 16 - 18 minutes. This is large pasta, once again, so the cooking time is longer than the norm.  It is very difficult to taste test these, as they are so big, so trust me on the cooking time. 

Now, this next part is up to you.  If you wish to toss the pasta with a cup of starchy pasta water with the sauce, as is tradition, by all means, enjoy.  I did something a bit different, and I enjoyed it.  I grated a cup of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, added a layer to the bottom of a large bowl and topped it with a little of the sauce.  I added some of the Paccheri over the sauce, added a little more cheese, ladled a big heaping amount of the aromatic beefy sauce atop the pasta and topped it with some of the Fresno chile rings and shaved parmigiano-reggiano and a floret of fresh basil as flavorful garnishment. 

I do hope you will try this recipe out.  It is not nearly as complicated as it sounds and the flavors truly reflect the comforts of home, particularly in winter or on a beautiful spring day. It feeds four people easily, everyone will be satisfied and, whether you make my Capsicun (peppers) sauce or a traditional Bolognese, your guests or family will be enthralled by the comforty aromas wafting from your kitchen. 

As always, THANK YOU for your time and consideration and, Patience with me!  I have a new techno contraption to write with and I am excited to be back to writing and cooking with ease. Thank You, my gentle readers and friends!  Please feel free to drop by my Twitter and say Hello or my blog's Facebook account.   Twitter:  @grnmn1   and Facebook:  In-House Cook.   Thank You!!!   Martin

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