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!

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