Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chantrelle and Porcini Mushroom Risotto

I fully admit that I have no formal culinary training. I'm a foodie, not a gourmet or an epicure. I have the love for food but not the technical knowledge.

I'm learning though, bit by bit. And the bright side is that I keep getting to "discover" new things in this kitchen adventure.

Tonight was another milepost. I made my very first risotto. This one, courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School.

Rouxbe Online Cooking School & Video Recipes

This is one of their free video recipes so go check out the full version, you can view it, print it out, etc without signing up. (Not pitching them, just being lazy and not wanting to repost the whole recipe here.)

I loved working with the porcini and chantrelle mushrooms, great texture and flavor. I've pretty much always used button and portobello mushrooms. These were truly a different animal...errr...or fungus.

The arborio rice was also a first for me. I was surprised about the difference between the usual basmati long grain rice and the arborio rice during the sauteing phase. Instead of going for looking for a toasting or golden browning like I do with a pilaf using long grain rice, the Rouxbe video told me to be looking for a translucent edge. I wouldn't have known that.

We served the final product with a pan seared and oven roasted bone in chicken breast.

My thoughts are:
  • I wouldn't have tried this except for the video recipe and I feel like it helped prepare me.
  • Like some of the comments in the Rouxbe link, it took me longer than the 30 minutes. It took me 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  • I loved the shrooms and want to learn more about them. I'm going to do "There's A Fungus Among Us" week to educate myself more about our fungal friends.
  • The taste was good, better than the risottos I have had.
  • Even still, given the effort & time required, I would have a hard time making risotto as a side dish unless I did the "make partially ahead and then finish later" option. I mean's rice.
I just realized how silly that last line sounds coming from someone who has no problem taking 12 hours to smoke a pork butt for a sandwich.

Got any risotto tips for me?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Miscellany

A Ride In The Way-Back Machine
The sweet sting on my lips right now takes me back to the 6th grade. Remember hot cinnamon toothpicks?

Simply toothpicks soaked in cinnamon oil for a few days then kept in a bag. Then you chew on one and revel in the Atomic Fireball glory.

Spring Maintenance
Trevor went shopping with his mom earlier this week and convinced her to buy him a 6lb chub of bologna to smoke. When we pulled the offset out of the garage for the first time this spring, I noticed the effects of a damp winter finally caught up with the 6 year old smoker.

Since Trevor asked to have this smoker when I got my Egg, I decided he needs to be responsible for it's upkeep too. So first there was 45 minutes of using a wire brush drill attachment to get rid of all the rust and pitting.

Then he had fun smearing the vegetable shortening all over the firebox, inside and out for re-seasoning.

Then we made a hot fire and got the smoker up to 400f for an hour and let it cool back down.

Now he can start smoking his bologna. Yeah, I know, smoked bologna? It sounds low rent but it's a 10 year old's favorite. Plus, it's fun cooking with him.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Let's Throw A Blogger's Party

See updates at bottom:

Katherine from Smoky Mountain Cafe , Chris from Nibble Me This , and Larry from Big Dude's Ramblings , would like to host a little get together for the local bloggers – you’re considered local if you’re willing to make the drive. We’re thinking in terms of a Saturday afternoon sometime from mid May through mid June at Larry’s place near Greenback Tn. There are many details to work out, but at this point, we’re just trying to determine interest level and find a good date. We’re not looking for a firm commitment now, but if you think you would be interested in participating, please email one of us with the Saturdays beginning with May 15 and ending with June 19 for which you are NOT, repeat NOT, able to come. We can then see which dates can accommodate the most people. We’d like to hear back from you by March 10.


Alexis and I had a great lunch this afternoon meeting Katherine and Larry in "the real world" to toss the above idea around. It went by way too fast but it was a pleasure meeting both of them. We are excited about getting this little event off the ground.

UPDATED 3/22/10 (to correct date)

Update 5/7/10

Blogger Get Together

Greetings fellow bloggers. We’ve posted twice regarding our blogger get together on June 5 at Big Dude’s near Greenback,Tn. This will be our final blog post and if you plan to come, we ask that you send an email directly to Larry at by May 21, and he will correspond directly with you thereafter. The details so far are:

Date: June 5, 2010 – rain or shine

Time : Noon – til everyone leaves, eat at 1:30

Who: Any fellow blogger who’s willing to make the trip and significant other, or not.

Food: We thought we’d provide a few main dishes and let everyone else bring their favorite. If bringing something is inconvenient, please don’t let that keep you from coming. We’ll have the kitchen available if you need it and there is a frig, power, and a grill at the dock for keeping items hot or cold.

Drinks: We’ll provide tea and soft drinks but feel free to BYOB.

So if you’d like to meet some of the people you talk with regularly, or you’re just hanging around the house that day, or you need a place to go for a day trip, or a weekend in the smokies, or….., come join us. If you need more info to help decide, contact Larry at the email above.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

But It Sounded So Good In The Car...

"Oh, you're a naughty, naughty girl," I told Alexis.

We were on our way home from the office and a light snow was blowing around. We were talking about the leftover roast beef at home. I had mentioned The Big Nasty, an warm, open faced roast beef sandwich topped with cheddar, green onions, and gravy.

While we waited at a red light, I recalled the pesto gravy that we made a while back for the Roast Pesto Chicken and thought I could make a spicy horseradish gravy. That would be perfect for a hot roast beef sandwich.

"Beef and swiss," she interjected into my pavlovic daydreaming, "maybe you could make a swiss cheese sauce."

That was when I told her she was naughty and it reverted me back to the Big Nasty idea. I decided to do both, a roast beef sandwich with a spicy horseradish gravy and a swiss cheese sauce. It sounded good.

The result.

It was okay. The spicy horseradish gravy was obscenely good. The swiss cheese sauce was rich. But it would have been a better roast beef sandwich using either one but not both. Hey, you live, you learn.

I used this Swiss Cheese Sauce recipe from Southern Living and ended up using 1.5 cups of shredded cheese.

Here's the recipe for the simple and spicy horseradish gravy that I made. Amounts are estimates, I just made it up as I went along.

Horseradish Gravy
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp prepared horseradish

Melt the butter over medium high heat. Whisk in the flour and continuously whisk until you get a dark roux.

Whisk in the beef stock. I'm guessing about the amount but just slowly add beef stock while whisking. At first the mixture will thicken, get clumpy, and make you think you screwed up. Keep adding broth and keep whisking and it will start to smooth out into a gravy.

Once you have it at the consistency that you want, whisk in the salt, pepper, and horseradish. Taste and re-season according to your preference and heat tolerance. I ended up taking mine to 2 tsp of horseradish.

A lot of folks found our "raven flying with a pancake" story from a few posts ago funny but Russ (a brilliantly talented artist in the vein of Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side, Bizarro) has commemorated the moment with this special limited edition lithograph on his blog, Inner and Outer Demons.

Check out his blog. His dark sense of humor and artwork always give me a laugh. For the record, the raven we saw didn't look that intensely evil. But if he stole the pancake from someone's table, I'm sure they'd say that was EXACTLY what he looked like.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Barley Anything For Dinner

I never had barley, except for in a can of Campbell's Vegetable Beef Soup, until I was near 40 years old. So pretty much every time I make something with barley, it's a "first time" for me.

Tonight I made a roast beef and one of the sides I made was a barley pilaf.

Barley Pilaf
adapted from Mother's brand barley

1 1/3 cup beef broth
1/2 cup barley (quick cooking)
1/2 cup carrots, thin sliced
1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

In a sauce pan, bring broth to a boil and stir in the barley. Cover and simmer until tender. They said 10-12 minutes but we went 15 and should have gone 20 minutes.

In a skillet, heat some butter and saute the carrots and bell pepper over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add the cooked barley and worchestershire sauce and stir for another 30 seconds or so.

Remove from heat and cover until ready to serve.

Since I already had the veggies and barley out, after dinner, I went ahead and made their Mushroom Barley Soup for lunch tomorrow.

Mushroom Barley Soup
Mother's brand Barley

1 Tbsp oil
3 cups mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
6 cups beef broth
1/2 cup barley (quick cooking)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried marjoram

In heavy 3 quart saucepan, cook mushrooms, onion, pepper and garlic in oil over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until barley is tender.

My thoughts are that I liked the flavor in both but the texture of the pilaf definitely needed more time cooking and I'll adjust that the next time.

Wish List Item
I would like a Firefox add-on that updates spell check with culinary related terms. Anyone know of one?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dino Bones: Beef Back Rib Version

Heaven on a plate...

I knew this weekend was going to be full of some good cooking because we had two good food omens on Friday.

On Friday morning, Alexis and I are driving to work, cutting through a subdivision shortcut and at a stop sign, a raven flies in front of us CARRYING A FREAKING PANCAKE ! ! Our jaws dropped and we looked at each other with a "I really didn't just see THAT, did I?" look. [Yes, that happened exactly as written, this isn't just for effect.]

The second good food omen? Oh, Walmart had beef back ribs on sale for about $7 for a pack of a 7 bone portion. $1 a rib? Yes please! Can anyone scream.....

Back in December, I wrote about "Dino Bones", which are big barbecued beef ribs. In that post I mentioned that there are two cuts used for this, untrimmed beef short ribs and beef back ribs. Then I used the short ribs. Today, I tried the back rib version. This cut of beef is the bone part of a standing rib roast ("prime" rib) and it's what they cut off of a boneless rib roast (where ribeye steaks come from).

I had Trevor rub the ribs with a dry rub (Weber Chicago Steak seasoning and some black pepper).

And then onto the Big Green Egg they went. You want your cooker, smoker, grill, whatever set up for an INDIRECT cook at a grate temp of 225-250f (that's a dome temp of 250-275 on a large BGE). Today I used lump charcoal and oak wood chips.

These ribs cooked way faster than the short ribs. At about two hours, they were already at an internal temp of 170f so I glazed them with one of my favorites, Chok'on Dis Blaz'n Glaze (awesome stuff for beef).

Notice that the meat didn't draw back off of the bones as much as the short rib version did. I suppose that is because this is a leaner cut of beef.

Plated it up with two sides.

We LOVED these! The beef flavor is similar to steak (no surprise) but there is a little "picking" to do to get it all from the bone. They had just the right smoky flavor, not over the top. The heat from the Blaz'n Glaze let you know it was there but it wasn't too "in your face". Ok, it was a little "in your face" but it didn't knock any teeth out. But if you don't like heat, you could use a beef bbq sauce instead.

If all things were equal (price, availability, etc), we both liked the beef back ribs Dino Bones over the short rib Dino Bones but they are both good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Greek-ish Pork Pinwheels

I wasn't sure if this meal would be good or a Greek tragedy. Fortunately, it turned out excellent.

I daydream about food on the way home from work most evenings. I think about what ingredients I have at home, things I've seen or cooked before, and just let the thoughts collide. Tonight my thoughts centered around a pork tenderloin that I had thawed out.

I thought about Chris Lilly's Pork Tenderloin Pinwheels that I have made before, stuffed with bacon, rolled in pecans and brushed with a mustard sauce. But the feta and fresh spinach I had at home made me think more along Greek lines. Here's what I came up with.

Nibble Me This Greek Pork Pinwheels

1 ea pork tenderloin
30 spinach leaves (about 1/2 cup?)
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fig infused balsamic vinegar (sub red wine vinegar)
1/4 cup white onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Whisk together all of the marinade ingredients. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade for the Greek rice.

Slice the tenderloin lengthwise into about 5-6 slices, about 1/4" thick each as pictured.

TIP: First, put the tenderloin into the freezer for about 30 minutes to partially freeze it. Slices much easier. Second, most tenderloins have a "flat side" due to being packaged two to a pack. Use that flat side as a solid base.

Top each slice with layers of spinach, feta, and sun dried tomatoes. Drizzle some of the marinade on top.

Carefully (i.e. make a hell of a mess trying to keep it all together) roll up each slice from one end to the other and secure with a toothpick.
Place the pinwheels in a small casserole and apply remaining marinade. Let sit for 1-2 hours.

Prepare your grill for a direct heat cook at 375f. On the Big Green Egg, I had plain lump charcoal burning with no wood and I used a raised grid extender. That's about 8 inches from the fire so that would be the top rack on most other grills.

TIP: The oily marinade will cause flare ups so keep your grill lid closed to control the flow of oxygen.

Grill the pinwheels for 8 minutes a side.

We were very pleased with this. They weren't very photogenic but the pork was tender and packed with flavor thanks to the marinade from inside and out.

For a side dish, I made this Greek Tomato Pilaf and added the reserved 1/4 cup of marinade at the point you add the dry rice to the saute. I give that recipe two thumbs up too.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Creative Liar....Writer meme answer

Ok, I promise I'll be back on topic after this post but here is the answer to the "Creative Writer" post in which I had to come up with 6 lies/embellishments/fisherman tales and 1 truth to see if you could guess the one truth.

1. I've never been out of the United States but I keep my passport handy because you never know when "legal entanglements" may arise.
LIE! It just sounded good at the time.

I have a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
LIE! While I have a black belt in karate, I'm just a white in jiu jitsu

I fractured my skull while surfing on my mother's 50th birthday & it was also Mother's day that year.
TRUE! Martha, Greg, and Kathy all got it right. I headed out for a morning surf session with a friend and thought I'd be back for the family Mother's Day lunch. One depressed skull fracture, multiple seizures, one dislocated shoulder, and an emergency craniotomy later, I found out I was wrong.

I love fish. I love it grilled, fried, smoked, and baked, I just can't stand sushi.

LIE! I HATE fish. I can tolerate very fresh tuna or mahi mahi grilled, I still don't like any fish. I believe that if God had intended for me to eat fish, he'd have made it taste like beef, pork, or chicken....or at least beer.

5. I surfed in Hurricane Hugo for some of the biggest surf of my life.
LIE! I surfed AS Hurricane Hugo passed by Jacksonville Beach and it was an epic day with the second biggest waves I've ever surfed, but I was never actually IN Hurricane Hugo.

6. You can see me in the background in one of the bowling alley scenes in The Big Lebowski.
LIE! Oh come on, you know that wasn't me....I DON'T ****ING ROLL ON SHOMER SHABBOS!

7. I was once arrested wearing nothing but a towel.
LIE! But oh so close. I was pulled over wearing nothing but a towel but only got a ticket for not having my license. It was winter and I had worn my wetsuit to the beach. Once I was done surfing and had gotten the wetsuit off, I realized I'd forgotten the bag that had my clothes. I had my towel already around me (that's how you change out of a wetsuit on the beach, it's winter and no one cares) so I figured...."It's only two miles home, what could happen?"

Fortunately, with the surfboard and wetsuit in the back, the cop that pulled me over for speeding didn't think anything was unusual when he pulled me over for speeding. He thought he let me off easy for not giving me a speeding ticket....if only he'd known!

Ok, that was fun, but back to food tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Not Really Food Related - Meme Catch Up

I've been remiss about answering a few memes with which I have been tagged. But if you are looking for something food related...

...I finally posted the Valentine's Dinner over at Our Krazy Kitchen (a follow up to the Brunch post from Saturday). Click on the link for your foodie fix.

Creative Writer
Back to the memes. Tamy (3 Sides of Crazy) tagged me with the Creative Liar...err..Writer meme that a lot of you have been doing.

1.Thank the person who gave this to you. (Thanks Tamy!)
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you. (see above)

4. Tell us up to six outrageous lies about yourself, and at least one outrageous truth.

5. Allow your readers to guess which one or more are true.

5. Nominate seven "Creative Writers" who might have fun coming up with outrageous lies.

6. Post links to the seven blogs you nominate.

7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

Okay, here are my entries. Some are outright lies, some are partially true, and only one is entirely true.
  1. I've never been out of the United States but I keep my passport handy because you never know when "legal entanglements" may arise.
  2. I have a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
  3. I fractured my skull while surfing on my mother's 50th birthday & it was also Mother's day that year.
  4. I love fish. I love it grilled, fried, smoked, and baked, I just can't stand sushi.
  5. I surfed in Hurricane Hugo for some of the biggest surf of my life.
  6. You can see me in the background in one of the bowling alley scenes in The Big Lebowski.
  7. I was once arrested wearing nothing but a towel.
So you figure it out, which one is true?

Over The Top!

I also was tagged with the Over The Top! meme over at Mommy Gourmet's My Original Recipes. I have to answer the following with one word answers. I might cheat and use a lot of hyphens to sneak in more than one word.

Your Cell Phone? Annoying
Your Hair? Thinning
Your Mother? Nursing
Your Father? Recuperating
Your Favorite Food? BBQ
Your Dream Last Night? none
Your Favorite Drink? Water
Your Dream/Goal? Quixote
What Room Are You In? Study
Your Hobby? Food!
Your Fear? Heights
Where Do You See Yourself In Six Years? Content
Where Were You Last Night? Home
Something That You Aren't? Short
Muffins? Pancakes!
Wish List Item? stand mixer
Where Did You Grow Up? Florida
Last Thing You Did? (last night was valentines....pleading the fifth)
What Are You Wearing? Bathrobe
Your TV? off
Your Pets? chinchillas
Friends? far away
Your Life? satisfactory
Your Mood? peaceful
Missing Someone? sure
Vehicle? basic sedan
Something You Aren't Wearing? a leather teddy with thigh highs and heels
Your Favorite Store? Fresh Market
Your Favorite Color? Blue...wait, no yellow (aaaaeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiii!) Monty Python fans get it.
When Was The Last Time You Laughed? last night
Last Time You Cried? can't recall
Your Best Friend? asleep
One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? work
Facebook? a bit
Favorite Place To Eat? Puleo's Grille

I'm supposed to tag others with these Meme's but you know how that goes. They always say they'll get right on it, then they forget or take forever (like me). So if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Bisque

Reprinted from my guest post at Our Krazy Kitchen.

Nibble Me This Spinach & Artichoke Bisque

4 teaspoons flour
8 ounces butter
3 cups beef stock
1 stalk celery finely diced
1 1/2 ea onion diced
1/2 bunch green onion chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 cloves of roasted garlic
1 can artichoke hearts with juices (about 2 cups)
1 cup spinach fresh, rinsed and chopped
salt to taste
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream

Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Whisk in flour over low heat and whisk constantly for 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in beef stock after that. Then add celery, onions, green onions, bay leaf, thyme and garlic. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Finely chop artichoke hearts, chop the spinach and add to the mixture, continue simmering another 30 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and then puree it in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.

Add cream, wine, Tabasco, and salt & pepper to taste. Bring back just to a simmer, garnish with whatever you like (croutons, fried leeks, sour cream, etc), and serve. Pictured today garnished with fried leeks and thyme.

Guest Posts and Poach Pods

I'm guest posting today (Saturday) and Valentines' Day over at OuR KrAzy kItChEn . Please hop over and check it out. There's always something going in OuR KrAzy kItChEn.

Today's post over there is a Valentines' Day Brunch and I had to poach some eggs for Eggs Benedict. I took this opportunity to try out some of those silicon poach pods and compare them to normal poaching.

I poached two eggs the normal way - carefully sliding an egg into 200f water for about 8 minutes (for a firm yolk) and then fishing them out with a slotted spoon.

Then I poached two eggs using the poach pods - floating them in 200f water for 4-6 minutes.

Then I had to throw that batch out because I didn't read the part that the pot is supposed to be COVERED so I had a partially poached pair of eggs.

I did another two eggs, covered this time and I cooked them for 8 minutes since they didn't look quite set at 6 minutes.

Side by side comparison:

My overall impressions are:
  • The poach pods are more efficient in that you retain 100% of the egg while in free hand poaching, you loose some of the whites.
  • The poach pods were not any easier, in my opinion, than normal poaching. In fact it adds a few steps to the process (lubing the pods, having to work the cooked egg's edges off of the pod with a spoon, etc).
  • I preferred the normal poached eggs over the poach pod eggs in appearance and texture. The poach pod eggs looked too much like a McDonald's egg mcmuffin processed egg and the edges were a bit rubbery (overcooked) yet the center still wasn't firm as I wanted.
I know that some people have tried these and said that they really like them, but they just aren't for me. I'll stick with the normal way of poaching eggs.

Don't forget to see my guest post at Our Krazy Kitchen.

Standard review disclaimer: Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with and received no compensation from restaurants or product manufacturers reviewed and paid full retail price for the item reviewed.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fire Roasted Herb Chicken

This one isn't a recipe, just a quick dinner we made tonight.

I took a free range chicken and.....well, it apparently wasn't a FREE range chicken, the store employees chased me when I left without paying for it. I should sue them for false advertising. Plus that cavity search was totally unnecessary, what do they think I am, a free range chicken?

Anyway, I made a compound butter with basil & thyme. I stuck tablespoon sized pieces up under the skin of the bird. Then I microwaved a few leftover pieces and brushed it on top of the bird. A little S&P, placed on a preheated cast iron skillet and onto the Big Green Egg at 400f (indirect heat w/ the plate setter in).

After the bird hit 120f in the thigh, I added some aromatics and 1/4 cup of white wine.

Sure, you COULD do this in an oven, but you'd miss out on this. Why oven baked chicken sucks.....

Once the chicken hit 180f in the thigh and 160f in the breast, I removed it to a plate. I kept all of the veggies and one to two tablespoons of the rendered juices. I added a few cups of cooked rice and mixed it together, then returned the chicken to the skillet.

Plated a little dark meat with some sliced breast.

It was very good, but it wasn't as good as my smoked chicken recipe with crispy skin. On the other hand, it didn't take 3 hours to make either and this dish comes with rice....WIN!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chasing Demons

Russ at Inner and Outer Demons 2 has been a blogger friend of mine for years. He is an artist by trade and I was privileged to have him draw my avatar last year, a brilliant version of the Big Green Egg.

His disturbingly funny cartoons have made me laugh so many times that I can't ever thank him enough. He is far more talented than he admits and is way under-appreciated as a creative genius. I loved this post from Friday.

A Message From The Onion You Forgot You Had

So if you like the occasional, "Wow, I really shouldn't be laughing at that!" kind of guffaw, throw Russ' blog into your feed reader. It will make your day one day when you need it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Southwestern Chicken Cacciatore

You may have noticed a lot of visual weirdness at Nibble Me This since this weekend. I ran into some bandwidth issues on the hosting site for the header and background. My good friend & template guru, Brandi, is fixing it for me this week but there might be some speed bumps along the way.

I'm pretty proud of this dish because not only did I make it up on my own, I did it on the fly using what I had with what I thought would work and the whole family loved it.

I was GOING to make a knock off of Ruby Tuesdays' Sonora Chicken or Aubrey Cafe's Rattlesnake Pasta, but I realized that the chicken thighs I had were not boneless, but bone in. So I opened the fridge and changed gears...

Nibble Me This Southwestern Chicken Cacciatore

5 ea chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
1-2 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 ea serrano chili, seeded and finely diced
3 ea mini sweet bell pepper, seeded, diced (substitute 1 sweet bell pepper)
1 ea vidalia onion, diced
1 ea jalapeno, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled (kept whole)
2 oz Tequila
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 ea beef steak tomato, cut into wedges
cilantro or parsley for garnish

Put an oven proof skillet in the oven and allow to preheat to 350f.

Make a rub with the chili powder, pepper, cumin and salt. Season both sides of the chicken thighs.

Place the heated skillet on the stove top burner over medium-high heat and add oil. Add thighs skin side down and sear for 5 minutes. Flip and sear the other side for 5 minutes.

Remove chicken to a plate. Reserve one tablespoon of oil in the pan and pour the rest into a glass measuring cup. Add chicken broth to measure 1/2 cup and keep for later in the recipe.

Add the onions, peppers, and garlic to the pan and saute until the onions begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the Tequila. Most of it will evaporate off in just 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan. Pour the broth/drippings mixture and the diced tomatoes over the chicken. Top with the tomato wedges.

Put back into the 350f oven until the thighs reach an internal temperature of 180f (relax....they're bone in thighs, they can take the heat without getting dry). This took about 30 minutes in the oven. Top with cilantro or for those of you cilantro-phobes, parsley.

We served it with rice topped with the veggie mixture and some quickie "non-refried refried beans"(one link chorizo crumbled and browned, mixed with one can of Bush Mixed Beans [pinto & northern] topped with cheese).

I was kind of worried that this would be too spicy hot but it wasn't. Even the 10 y/o loved this and he doesn't like much heat. Now that we made this out of the blue, just based on what we had on hand....I'll definitely be making this again on purpose.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Maybe tonight was a bit of both.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jalapeno Potato Salad & Raspberry Chipolte Ribs

I'm usually a traditionalist when it comes to potato salad. I like your basic "Southern, after church, covered dish, yellow mustard potato salad".

However, a few years ago, Robert at White Trash BBQ got me to try this Jalapeno Potato Salad recipe for something different. Before I go into the details, you have to go look at his blog to see the ridiculous picture of me that he included in his post. Trust me, it's worth the extra few clicks.

Jalapeno Potato Salad
adapted from the White Trash BBQ adaptation of Beverly Bundy's recipe

4 ea large potatoes, peeled and cubed into 3/4" pieces
1/4 cup coarse grain mustard
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of roasted garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
3 ounces black olives, pitted and drained, halved
4 ounces feta cheese
1/4 cup green onion, sliced thin
1 to 2 ea jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely diced

Cook the potato in boiling water until it just starts to turn "fork tender".

Mix the mustard, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Slowly add the oil while rapidly whisking so you get a good emulsification (not separating).

Drain the cooked potatoes and while still hot, add to the mustard mixture. Fold in the black olives, green onions & chili peppers.

While Bundy likes to serve her's chilled, I followed Robert's lead and like to serve this dish warm.

The jalapenos give a nice crisp texture and really aren't very hot when they have been seeded and finely diced.

This potato salad is quite a departure from the same ol', same old potato salad. I still enjoy a basic southern potato salad but this jalapeno version is now our favorite. The bold flavors of the feta, vinaigrette, and jalapenos bring it together.

Speaking of different, several months ago, I receive a care package of free samples from the folks at Fischer and Wieser. One of the samples was their Roasted Raspberry & Chipolte Sauce. It has been neglected for one reason or the other until now.

I had a very nice spare rib that I had trimmed St. Louis style (squared off). Actually, I had three, but froze two for later use.

I seasoned the rack with a rub...

Smoked it with lump charcoal and a blend of cherry and hickory woods in the Big Green Egg at 250f (put them on bone side up, I just flipped them for the picture) for 4 hours....

At 4 hours, the ribs were just starting to be done. I use the "bend test" to test for doneness (lift one end with tongs, the ribs should bend at almost a 90 degree angle). So I liberally brushed some of Fischer & Weisner's Roasted Raspberry Chipolte sauce....

At 4 1/2 hours, the ribs were done. I used to do spares using the well known 3-2-1 method (3 hours naked, 2 hours in foil, 1 hour naked & glazed). But since I quit using foil, they are almost always done at 4 1/2 hours. Not sure why that is, but it's been consistent.

I'll be honest, I was not sure what to expect from the raspberry chipolte sauce. In fact I was skeptical. I'm happy with just "naked" or dry ribs but the rest of the family prefers sweet glazed ribs. All four of us thought these ribs had a pleasing blend of sweet and savory tastes. We eat a lot of ribs here so it takes something different to catch our attention and this finishing sauce did it. I liked them and they LOVED them.

We'll definitely use this sauce on ribs again.

Now that lunch is over, it's time to start thinking about dinner.