Category Archives: Off The Grill

Pulled Pork Tamales with Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce for Cinco de Mayo

Pulled Pork Tamales




This idea just popped into my head a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to shake it.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and went shopping. I smoked my pork shoulder the day before in my La Caja China #3, using apple wood.

Turned out…very nice.

Slow Smoked Pork Shoulder

7 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Pulled Pork Tamales

Finish butterflying the shoulder (along the cut the butcher made while removing the bone) and rub all surfaces of the pork with the dry rub.

Pulled Pork Tamales with Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce

Roll the pork back up, tie with kitchen string, and season the outside.

In a standard smoker, pork shoulder cook time can be figured at approximately 1.5 hours per pound, so an 8 pound shoulder will require about 12 hours in the smoker at 225. (The Caja will require significantly less time, see my post, here, for roasting instructions.)

Pulled Pork Tamales

For more of Chef Perry’s La Caja China Cooking recipes, check out his cookbooks at:

www.perryperkinsbooks.com

I like to smoke mine to an internal temp of around 140 (about half the cook time – be sure to use a good probe thermometer), baste with a mixture of 1/2 barbeque sauce and 1/2 cider vinegar, wrap in foil, and slip it into a 225 degree oven to finish. Pull it from the Caja or oven when them internal meat temp reached 200 degrees, not a minute earlier.

Pulled Pork Tamales

Allow the roast to rest, tented loosely in foil for about an hour, pull or chop the meat, and toss with another cup of bbq sauce/vinegar mixture and salt, to taste. You may use it to assemble your tamales now, or refrigerate in up to 3 days.



Pulled Pork Tamales

To assemble the tamales, you’ll need:

4 C MaSeCa Instant Corn Masa Mix
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 C corn oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 package of corn husks
2 cups pulled pork, cooled

You can follow this simple video…

Southwestern Bernaise Sauce

Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a ‘child’ of the mother Hollandaise sauce, one[2] of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. The difference is only in their flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice.

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp dry rub
1 sm can diced green chilies

In a small saucepan, combine the tarragon, shallots, vinegar and wine over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Remove this reduction from heat and set aside to cool.

Blend yolks and béarnaise reduction together. With the blender running, add 1/3 of the butter in a slow steady stream. Once it emulsifies, turn the blender speed up to high and add the remaining butter. Season with dry rub, fold in the green chilies, and set aside in a warm spot until ready to spoon over the finished (and peeled) tamales.

We also made a yellow sriracha sauce recipe that my friend Patti shared with me.

Sriracha is the name for a Thai hot sauce named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of central Thailand, where it was first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants. It is a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Sriracha is a common condiment in many Asian restaurants and increasingly found in American and European homes.

It is also known as rooster sauce because of the rooster featured on its label. Typically a very hot red sauce, this is a milder version using yellow peppers.

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Personally, I liked it even better with the tamales than the Southwester Béarnaise…unfortunately, I was too busy eating to get pictures of the two together.

Here’s the recipe, tho’…

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

3 1/2 cups yellow bell
1/2 cup chopped hot yellow peppers
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 Tbs light brown sugar

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

Chop the chilies and place in a bowl. Add garlic, salt & vinegar. Cover and let set on the counter overnight or 8 hours.

In the morning, remove peppers & garlic from bowl and place in saucepan. Add 1 cup of the vinegar mixture, 1/2 cup of water and the 2 Tbs of sugar.

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

You can add more vinegar if you want it more tart and a thin sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer  for 5 min. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

Puree until smooth.

If you love this recipe, please share it!

Also, you can open the “print friendly” version of this recipe, by clicking here.

My work being inspected…

Yellow Sriracha Sauce




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Filed under In The Box Recipes, Off The Grill, Theme Parties

Sweet Chili Brisket

Sweet chili sauce might be my all-time favorite condiment, and brisket is definitely in my top 3 favorite meats. So, a thought stuck me the other day, out of the blue, Hey, those two would be awesome together! And thus, this recipe was born.

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Cinco de Mayo – Burnin’ Love Style!

Cinco de Mayo is the kind of holiday that outdoor cooks live for. Grilled meat, fresh tortillas, hot sauces and salsas, and plenty of Cerveza Fria!

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May”) is a celebration held on May 5 (duh). It’s celebrated nationwide in the United States and regionally in Mexico, primarily in the state of Puebla, where the holiday is called El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla (English: The Day of the Battle of Puebla).The date is observed observed to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Contrary to widespread popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day—the most important national patriotic holiday in Mexico—which is actually celebrated on September 16.

Today, revelers mark the occasion with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods such as tacos and mole poblano. Some of the largest festivals are held in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.

Here’s what dinner’s gonna look like at my house, this year…

Carne Asada

Carne Asada is a Mexican recipe for marinated, grilled beef served in in tortillas. This is not your run of the mill taco. This is a flavorful and delicious meal that is great for any occasion, and, for my money, skirt steak is one of the best cuts of meat you can ever toss on the grill!

Prep Time: 30 minutes     Cook Time: 12 minutes      Total Time: 42 minutes

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

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Salt Crusted Prime Rib

http://i2.wp.com/www.huwareserve.com/sites/default/files/PrimeRib.jpg?resize=499%2C332

Salt Crusted Prime Rib

From La Caja China Cooking, 2010

The traditional preparation for a standing rib roast is to rub the outside of the roast with salt and seasonings and slow-roast with dry heat. In the United States, it is common for barbecue purists to apply smoke to the uncooked rib roast at low heat for 2-3 hours before dry roasting.

In the United Kingdom, Yorkshire pudding is frequently served as a side dish with prime rib

½ C coarsely ground black pepper
2/3 C kosher salt
2 head of garlic, peeled
1/4 C fresh rosemary
2 Tbs smoked paprika powder
½ C olive oil
1 – 5-6-pound prime rib roasts (6 bones).

In a food processor, combine the salt, pepper, garlic cloves, rosemary and paprika, and process until fine. Add the olive oil and pulse to form a paste. Pat the rib roast dry with a paper towel or napkin.

Place the prime rib roast on a cutting board, bone-side up and rub with 1 tablespoon of the salt paste.

Pack the salt paste all over the fatty surface of the roast, pressing to help it adhere. Let the prime rib stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

Insert meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of beef, not resting in fat or touching bone.

La Caja China Prime Rib

(See below for oven roasting instructions)

Place disposable pans beneath the Caja China rack to catch the drippings, tent ribs loosely with foil, fire up your smoke box (I use oak), and close the roasting box.

Add 16 lbs. of charcoal for model #1 or 20 lbs. for model #2 or Semi-Pro Box, divided into two piles, and light up.

At 30 minutes, spread coals over surface. Cooking time starts now.

At 1 hour (cooking time), lift the lid and quickly baste the roasts, and re-tent with foil. Dump excess ashes, close La Caja China and add another 10lbs of unlit coals.

After 2 hours (cooking time), – baste again, remove the foil, and close the box to brown the top of the roasts.

Cook until rib roasts reach an internal temperature of 120 degrees F. Then remove the foil and brown 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Remove the roasts from La Caja China, cover with aluminum foil, transfer the roasts to a large carving board, and let the meat rest for 30 minutes

Remember, the rib roast will continue to cook as it sets. The temperature will rise from 125 degrees F to 130-135 degree internal temperature (medium rare) at 15 to 20 minutes.

If allowed to rest as long as an hour, the temperature will rise even higher.

Carefully lift the salt crust off the meat and transfer to a bowl. Brush away any excess salt.

To remove the roast in one piece while keeping the rib rack intact, run a long sharp carving knife along the bones, using them as your guide.

Carve the prime rib roast 1-inch thick and serve, passing some of the crumbled salt crust as a condiment.

This recipe can be doubled or tripled with very little additional roasting time.

For Oven Roasting:

*Add 2 Tbs mesquite liquid smoke to the wet rub.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Place rubbed and rested roast on a rack in the pan with the rib side down and the fatty side up. Roast for 1 hour.

Turn off oven. Leave roast in oven but do not open oven door for 3 hours.

About 30 to 40 minutes before serving time, turn oven to 375 degrees F and reheat the roast.

Important: Do not remove roast or re-open the oven door from time roast is put in until ready to serve.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

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Filed under In The Box Recipes, Off The Grill

What the big boys (and girls) are grilling…4th of July BBQ Recipes from Food Network

Heyya Peeps!

Well, we’re countin’ down to Independence Day, and planning on what to grill up while Will Smith, once again,  kick’s some serious alien butt.

I really want to play with my new oyster racks, and I’m jonesing for some grilled lamb, as well, so I cruised on over to the Food Network site to see what the big boys (and girls) were throwing on the fire.

Here are a few that had me droolin’ on my keyboard…

Guy Fieri’s Malibu oysters. Mario’s black pepper drumsticks. Paula’s easy BBQ chicken. Bobby Flay’s Smoked Ribs. Alton Brown’s Pulled Pork. Giada’s Grilled Lamb

Six top celebrity chefs’ favorite grilling recipes for the Fourth of July!

“Time to kick the tires, and light the fires, big daddy!”

Guy Fieri’s Malibu Oysters
Total Time: 30 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 15 min

Yield: 8 oysters
Level: Easy

* 8 large oysters, BBQ size
* 1/3 cup mayonnaise
* 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Parmesan
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
* 1 cup fried potato sticks (recommended: Pik-Nik)
* 2 teaspoons olive oil
* 2 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
* 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion
* 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
* 6 ounces havarti cheese, sliced
* Rock salt, for baking

Preheat a grill to high. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

Shuck the oysters and set aside in the refrigerator or on ice, keeping them in the shell.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, white vinegar, Parmesan, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste, cayenne, and white pepper. Stir to combine, and then stir in the fried potato sticks.

In a small saute pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and red onions and saute for 3 minutes, and then add the spinach and allow to wilt. Adjust seasoning, to taste.

Top each oyster with the spinach mixture, dividing evenly, and then do the same with the mayo mixture. Top with the havarti and place on a baking sheet lined with a layer of rock salt. Roast in the oven until cheese is bubbly and oysters are just warmed through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Let cool enough to handle, and then serve right away.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network, 2011

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Mario Batali’s Spicy Black-Pepper-Coated Drumsticks
(Serves 6)

Partly cooking the drumsticks in the oven ensures that they will cook through on the grill without charring. You can bake the chicken early in the day or even the night before.

12 chicken drumsticks
Kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, preferably chipotle
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice or coffee grinder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 fennel bulbs
4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the drumsticks on a baking sheet and season all over with salt. Bake unadorned for 20 minutes (25 minutes if your drumsticks are very large).

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Tabasco sauce, fennel seeds, and black pepper. Set a wire rack over a large plate or a small baking sheet.

As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk mixture and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with the fennel seeds and pepper, over the top of each one, and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead; leave them on the rack, cover, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.)

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

Trim the fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise in half, and cut out most of the core. Cut into 1/4-inch-wide batonettes and toss into a bowl of ice water.

Crumble the Gorgonzola into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the red wine vinegar and stir with the fork until fairly smooth. Drizzle in the oil, stirring, to make a dressing. Pour into one or more shallow bowls for dipping.

Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.

Put the drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat dry, and place on the platter next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.

Recipe Courtesy of Mario Batali’s Italian Grill (Ecco 2008)

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Paula Deen’s Easy After Work BBQ Chicken
Total Time: 40 min
Prep: 15 min
Cook: 25 min

Yield: 4 servings
Level: Easy

* 1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 cups bottled sauce or Easy BBQ Sauce, recipe follows

Prepare a medium-hot grill or preheat the broiler. If using the broiler, line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Put the chicken on the grill or, if broiling, put it on the prepared baking sheet. Grill or broil, 4 inches from the heat, turning once, for 10 minutes per side.

Put 1/2 of the BBQ sauce in a small bowl, for drizzling and serving. Reserve.

Baste the chicken with the remaining sauce and grill or broil for 5 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, drizzle with some of the reserved sauce, and serve with lime wedges and the remaining reserved sauce
Easy BBQ Sauce:

* 3/4 cup ketchup
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
* 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons minced onion
* 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
* 1/4 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce, (recommended: Tabasco)
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 3 tablespoons chopped scallions (white and light green parts)
* 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
* 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
* Lime wedges, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, onion, mustard, hot sauce, and black pepper. Stir in the scallions, lime zest, and lime juice. Can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Yield: 2 cups

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network, 2011

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Bobby Flay’s Smoked Ribs with Carolina-Style BBQ Sauce
Total Time: 19 hr 15 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive: 12 hr 45 min
Cook: 6 hr 0 min

Yield: 4 servings
Level: Intermediate

Rub:
* 1/4 cup ancho chili powder
* 2 tablespoons Spanish paprika
* 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons dry mustard
* 2 tablespoons kosher salt
* 2 tablespoons ground coriander
* 1 tablespoon dried oregano
* 1 tablespoon ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons chile de arbol
* 2 racks St. Louis-style pork ribs, 12 ribs each, membrane removed
* 1/4 cup canola oil

Mop:
* 2 cups cider vinegar
* 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
* Few dashes hot pepper sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
* 1 tablespoon kosher salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* Mix of hickory and applewood chips
* 1 quart apple cider
* North Carolina Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows

Carolina Style BBQ Sauce:
* 1/4 cup canola oil
* 2 medium Spanish onions, coarsely chopped
* 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
* 2 cups ketchup
* 2/3 cup water
* 1/4 cup ancho chili powder
* 2 tablespoons paprika
* 2/3 cup Dijon mustard
* 2/3 cup cider vinegar
* 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
* 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped
* 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons honey
* 2 tablespoons molasses
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the rub:

Combine all the spices in a small bowl. Brush both sides of the racks with oil and rub with the spice mixture. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.

In a large pot over low heat, add all the mop ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator 45 minutes before smoking to allow them to come to room temperature. Add the mix of hickory and applewood chips to the smoker according to package instructions. Heat a smoker to 220 degrees F. Put the apple cider in a small heatproof pan in the smoker.

Put the ribs directly on the smoker rack. Smoke for 6 hours, brushing the ribs with the mop every hour for the first 5 hours. During the last hour, brush the ribs with the North Carolina Barbecue Sauce every 10 minutes. Remove the ribs to a serving platter and serve.

For the BBQ Sauce:

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Add the onions and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the ketchup and water, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes.

Carefully transfer the mixture to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, then pour into a bowl and allow to cool at room temperature. Sauce will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator, stored in a tightly sealed container.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network, 2011

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Alton Brown’s Pulled Pork
Total Time: 24 hr 20 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 13 hr 0 min
Cook: 11 hr 0 min

Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Level: Easy

Brine:
* 8 ounces or 3/4 cup molasses
* 12 ounces pickling salt
* 2 quarts bottled water
* 6 to 8 pound Boston butt

Rub:
* 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
* 1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
* 1 teaspoon whole coriander
* 1 tablespoon chili powder
* 1 tablespoon onion powder
* 1 tablespoon paprika

Video: Watch Alton make this recipe

Combine molasses, pickling salt, and water in 6 quart Lexan. Add Boston butt making sure it is completely submerged in brine, cover, and let sit in refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours. 12 hours is ideal.

Place cumin seed, fennel seed, and coriander in food grinder and grind fine. Transfer to a small mixing bowl and stir in chili powder, onion powder, and paprika.

Remove Boston butt from brine and pat dry. Sift the rub evenly over the shoulder and then pat onto the meat making sure as much of the rub as possible adheres. More rub will adhere to the meat if you are wearing latex gloves during the application.

Preheat smoker to 210 degrees F. Place butt in smoker and cook for 10 to12 hours, maintaining a temperature of 210 degrees F. Begin checking meat for doneness after 10 hours of cooking time. Use fork to check for doneness. Meat is done when it falls apart easily when pulling with a fork. Once done, remove from pot and set aside to rest for at least 1 hour. Pull meat apart with 2 forks and serve as sandwich with coleslaw and dressing as desired.

Recipe Courtesy of Food Network, 2011

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Giada De Laurentiis’ Grilled Lamb with Salsa Verde
Total Time: 1 hr 25 min
Prep: 30 min
Inactive: 15 min
Cook: 40 min

Yield: 8 servings
Level: Easy

*  1/4 cup salted capers, soaked for 30 minutes, drained, coarsely chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian flat leaf parsley
* 1/3 cup chopped scallions
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
* 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
* 1 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
* 2 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper flakes
* 3 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 1 (4 1/2 to 5-pound) butterflied boned lamb shoulder
* 1 tablespoon minced garlic
* Nonstick cooking spray

Stir the first 7 ingredients and 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a large bowl to blend. Whisk in 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper. Set the salsa verde aside. Place the lamb in a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Rub the minced garlic, remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes all over lamb. Pour 1/2 cup of salsa verde over the lamb, turning the lamb to coat evenly. Use immediately, or cover the dish and remaining salsa verde separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 1 day.

Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray and prepare the barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill the lamb until a meat thermometer inserted into the thicker parts registers 130 degrees F for medium-rare, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a work surface and let rest 15 minutes.

Cut the lamb across grain into thin slices. Arrange the lamb slices on a platter. Serve the remaining salsa verde alongside.

What’s on YOUR grill this 4th?

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Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! (and a couple of recipes)

Let’s face it, when it comes to comfort food, a grilled cheese sandwich is pretty much the perfect food. Carbs + Fat = Awesome! The gooey center paired with crispy bread makes for one of the most sought after sandwiches in America.

Though it only contains three ingredients (bread, butter, and cheese), this uber-sandwich is quite versatile. It can be made in a frying pan, oven, outdoor grill, or toaster oven. It can also be eaten by itself or paired with soups such as tomato or chicken noodle.

This was one of a handful of dishes my mom could cook – untra traditional with cheese, butter, and white bread. Given our station in life (ie: industrial bricks of government cheese) this was a common menu item, often for days at a time, lol, but I never got tired of it.

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Filed under Off The Grill, Press Releases

Meatball Veggie Soup and Bandiola Spices

So, I received a lovely package of assorted spice blends in the mail yesterday from Bandiola Spice. I was the lucky winner of a Facebook drawing a couple of weeks back and, as I was expecting a nice selection of sample baggies, I was surprised and delighted to open a box full of spice bottles (9 total)…it was like Christmas!

Let’s see…got some Chicken Rub, Popcorn Seasoning, Pork Rub, Barbecue Rub, Rib Rub, Mediterranean Blend, Uncle Mike’s 333, Steak Rub, and Spicy #13.

As I was just prepping to make a big pot of meatball veggie soup, I took it as a sign from above that these spices arrived when they did, and so I sniffed my way through each container (Lordy, do they smell good!) to see what I could add to one of my favorite recipe.

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Fat Tuesday Muffaletta Sandwich

New Orleans, in its population and its cuisine, owes much to Italy and especially Sicily; Italians have been coming to the Crescent City since the 1880s.

The Italians soon settled in comfortably into New Orleans culture, and their contribution to local culture and cuisine has been immeasurable; in fact, you frequently see “Creole-Italian” referred to as one of the local sub-cuisines. This kind of cooking is epitomized at places like Mandina’s, Liuzza’s, and the many places in the city that serve muffuletta sandwiches.

According to the tale I heard from my Cajun uncle, the muffuletta sandwich was invented by Signor Lupo Salvadore, who opened the now-famous little Italian market called Central Grocery on Decatur Street in the French Quarter in 1906 and created the muffuletta sandwich, named for a favored customer (although I had also heard that the sandwich was named for the baker of the round Italian bread on which the sandwich is served).

Either way, it’s an awesome sandwich, though the version I make is a little tweaked. I don’t like the green olives in my tapenade, the salty/sour doesn’t do it for me, so I changed it a bit. (Sorry, Unc!)

Tapanade

1 cup rough-chopped black olives
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoon minced shallots
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrot
1 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
Salt to taste

To make the sandwich:

1 large loaf of fresh Italian bread (circular loaf preferred)
4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
4 ounces thinly sliced cappocolo, culatello, or other cured Italian ham, thinly sliced
4 ounces mortadella
4 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 ounces provolone, or Fontina, thinly sliced

Thoroughly mix all the olive salad ingredients together. This will yield about 1-1/2 cups, enough for 2-3 large loaf sandwiches.

To make the sandwich, slice the loaf of bread horizontally and scoop out about half of the soft dough from the top and bottom.

Brush the bottom of the loaf with olive oil or juice from the olive salad marinade. Layer on the cheese, then the meats. Top with as much olive salad as will fit without spilling out. Replace top of loaf. Cut into quarters. Serve with root beer or (my favorite) cream soda.

This will serve 2-4 depending on appetite.

OPTIONS: If you’re not sure you’ll like the olives, you can either leave them out completely, or replace them with 1/2 chopped sweet banana peppers (make sure they’re the sweet peppers, not the hot!)

Actually, if you mix up everything but the olives and/or peppers, you could make a tiny “test” batch of each to decide which you prefer before you assemble your sandwiches.

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Perry’s Dirty Little Secret Sauce

Okay, I typically make all my sauces from scratch, because I enjoy it and, well…they taste better!

However, if I’m running late on time, here’s my dirty little secret sauce:

1 C of your favorite bottled bbq sauce. (I like Sweet Baby Rays Brown Sugar, or Sweet & Spicy)
1/2 C apple cider vinegar and a dash of hot-sauce. (I like Franks “Buffalo Wing” sauce)
1/2 C honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter

This is best with pork and chicken. For beef/lamb: add 1/2 cup pan rendered drippings (from brisket or ribs), and omit the honey.

Bring to a low simmer and allow to reduce 20-30 minutes.

Pour it in a mason jar, and wow your guests with your “homemade” sauce…it’ll be our dirty little secret!

– Perry

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Next Level Shepherd’s Pie

The term “shepherd’s pie” did not appear until the 1870s,and since then it has been used synonymously with “cottage pie”, regardless of whether the principal ingredient was beef or mutton.There is now a popular tendency for “shepherd’s pie” to be used when the meat is mutton or lamb, with the suggested origin being that shepherds are concerned with sheep and not cattle. This may, however, be an example of folk etymology.

Cottage pie refers to a British or Irish meat pie made with beef mince and with a crust made from mashed potato. A variation on this dish using lamb mince is known as shepherd’s pie.

The term cottage pie is known to have been in use in 1791,when potato was being introduced as an edible crop affordable for the poor (cf. “cottage” meaning a modest dwelling for rural workers). In early cookery books, the dish was a means of using leftover roasted meat of any kind, and the pie dish was lined with mashed potato as well as having a mashed potato crust on top.

(From Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottage_pie)

Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie…Freakin’ Awesome Pie…whatever you want to call it, it’s one of my all time favorite comfort foods. Mom used to make her’s with ground beef, corn, lumpy mashed potatoes, and cream of mushroom soup…and it was love in a bowl, baby!

The day after Christmas, I was looking at my leftovers – prime rib, garlic mashed potatoes, and green bean casserole, and said to myself, “Self…this would make a killer shepherd’s pie!”

And, my propensity to talk, and even argue, with myself aside…I was right!

Here’s the recipe for my Next Level Shepherd’s Pie:

2 cups prime rib roast, rare, in 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups leftover green-bean casserole*
2 cups leftover garlic mashed potatoes**
4-6 cloves of garlic, roasted and peeled
Butter

Grease a square baking dish with butter. Layer in green-bean casserole, then prime rib, then top with mashed potatoes.

Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely.

Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.

Serves four.

*The traditional recipe calls for cream of mushrooms soup. Try “Golden Mushroom” soup instead, if you can find it. Also, this recipe calls for frozen green beans but, just this once, I’m going to recommend canned.

**Try boiling your potatoes in equal parts chicken broth and 1/2 & 1/2, instead of water…you’ll never go back!

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