The Ten-Ounce Burger

So, why the 10-ounce burger? Well…it promised to be a great food photo opportunity, and it was. I wanted to do a McD’s “Quarter Pounder” on steroids!

The build for something this big is critical, as the patty is so big, a lot of superfluous toppings would make it totally unmanageable from a dining point of view. I wanted to be able to eat it!

I worked at McD’s for a time back in the mid 60’s. I made 1000’s of burgers there. This is the order of ingredients and how to make this thing.

After griddling the buns, nice Brioche buns not too big here, lay both sides on a work surface. You will build only on the top bun…in this order:

  • The top bun
  • A couple squirts of ketchup
  • A couple of squirts of yellow mustard
  • 3 sliced dill pickles
  • A few slivered white onions
  • A slice of American cheese
  • Put nothing on the bottom bun.

After griddling the burger patty, lay a slice of American cheese on it. Now place the patty on the top bun with the cheese. You should now have all the condiments on the upside down top bun and a slice of cheese on both sides of the patty.

Place the bottom bun of the burger. Invert…and voila…a monster McD burger. I did give it a few seconds in the microwave to melt the cheese a bit for the photo. In the restaurants, the cheese melts while the wrapped burger sits in the bag!

Pair with twice fried french fries slathered with a fresh made 1000 Island dressing (recipe below), a nice icy cold Root Beer, and a knife and fork, and you’re ready to go. Yes, I feel ashamed. I did eat it with a knife and fork! And, could only get through about half of it.

The thick, 10-ounce 80/20 burger patty was cooked to about 155F, slightly pink inside. It was salt and peppered on both sides.

After all…today, May 28th, is National Burger Day in the U.S.


There are sandwiches, and then there are SANDWICHES! We all have our favorites, but this just made its way to the top of my list. Knocking the Turkey Club Sandwich down to second place…it’s a Smoked Pork Belly Sandwich on Ciabatta bread with Basil Pesto Aioli, shredded lettuce, ripe tomatoes, avocado, applewood-smoked pork belly, arugula, and mayonnaise.

I applewood-smoked a pork belly the other day, full knowing I was going to attempt this sandwich with the leftovers. Honestly, you really can’t pick it up and jam it in your mouth. Well, you can…but you need to do it in private, as you will be a mess! I went the knife and fork route on mine.


  • Smoked Pork Belly
  • Ciabatta Roll
  • Basil Pesto aioli
  • Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
  • Ripe, Beefsteak Tomato
  • Arugula
  • Mayonnaise


  • Build it anyway you like, but this worked out well for me.
  • From the bottom up:
  • The bottom slice of a buttered, grilled ciabatta bun roll
  • Basil Pesto aioli (1 tablespoon of Basil Pesto mixed with 1 tablespoons of real mayonnaise
  • 1 – 1/4 inch slice of ripe beefsteak tomato
  • Ripe avocado, smashed
  • 2-3 1/4 inch slices of smoked pork belly, grilled to add a crispy surface
  • A small handful of Arugula
  • The top slice of the ciabatta roll, slathered with mayonnaise

Good luck trying to slice it in half (my wife and I split this one). She was adventurous enough to pick it up. I opted for the knife and fork. It’s a great sandwich that puts a bit of a twist on the old BLT.

It may spoil you for other sandwiches! It is just a sandwich…but it is an epic sandwich!

Applewood Smoked Pork Belly

Someone asked me recently, “Just exactly what is pork belly?”. There are individuals who think it is part of the digestive system of a pig. Understandable.

It’s funny, some folks scoff at pork belly when they see how much fat it has. This, while they are pounding rashers of bacon every other day for breakfast!

This recipe was done on my Pit Boss pellet smoker (a Traeger clone is one way to explain it). Score the fat with 1 inch squares. Kosher salt and black pepper. Then rub with a sweet pork rub I made (recipe below). About 3 hours on the grill @ 225F until it hits 158F. Then wrap with foil and a little apple juice and cider for another 2 hours until it reaches 200F. A 1 hour rest on the butcher block and its done. Butter tender. Slice, shred, or cut in chunks. BBQ or no. Up to you. Me? No…its too good on it’s own!


  • 1/4 cup of sweet pork rub (recipe below)
  • 1 cup of apple juice, divided
  • 1/4 cup of apple cider
  • 4 pound slab or pork belly, fat trimmed to 1/4 inch


  • Heat your smoker to 225F.
  • With a sharp knife, score the top (fat side) in 1 inch squares. Season lightly with Kosher salt and black pepper. The, rub generously with the pork rub on all sides. Rub it in.
  • Put 1/2 cup of apple juice, 1/4 cup of apple cider, and 1/2 cup of water in a spray bottle.
  • Place the seasoned pork belly on the grill and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 158F (about 3 hours). Spritz with the apple juice every 45 minutes while it is cooking.
  • When the pork belly reaches 158F, remove from the grill and wrap in two layers of foil adding 1/2 cup of the apple juice to the wrap. Seal it up completely and return to the grill until the internal temperature reaches 200F (about 2 more hours).
  • Remove the pork belly from the grill and let it sit covered on the butcher block for about 1 hours.
  • Slice, shred, or cut into 1 inch cubes.
  • You can sauce with BBQ sauce at this point, but this is optional. I don’t because it is too good on it’s own.
  • Sweet Smoker Pork Rub:
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of paprika
  • 3 teaspoons of granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ancho chile powder

Beef Short Rib Soup with Mushrooms and Leeks

This is a soup recipe I developed with a couple of things in mind. I wanted a brothy, no cream, no tomato soup. And, I wanted it to have beef in it…and very little carbs. It’s kind of like Oxtail Soup without all the vegetables and tomatoes. Plus, it’s not easy to find oxtails in my area…so, I used little, bone-in beef short ribs.

It’s not real hard to make. No sautéing anything. Just toss in a pot. There are two stages, so bear with me.


  • 4 – 2 inch beef short ribs with bones
  • 2 cups of white button mushrooms, divided
  • 1 ounce of dried porcini mushrooms, soak in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes
  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 3 cups of low-sodium beef stock
  • 1 cup of dry sherry
  • 3 sprigs of parsley
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, thin sliced
  • 2 small sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 medium white onion, peeled, rough chop
  • 1 large rib of celery, rough chop
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried Calabrian chile flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon of granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 2 small leeks, white and light green part, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • Fresh chopped chives or green onions for garnish


  • Place the 4 short ribs with bones in a large saucepan. Add the 3 cups of chicken stock, 3 cups of beef stock, 1 cup of sherry, the porcini mushrooms and the soaking liquid, 1 cup of the white mushrooms (quartered), the parsley, the thyme, the garlic, the ginger, the onion, the celery, the black peppercorns, and the chile flakes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. After that, remove the short ribs and set aside. When cool enough to handle, remove all the meat and cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Save the bones.
  • Strain the broth through a cheesecloth lined sieve. Discard the vegetables. Place broth back in the saucepan. Add 1 cup of the white mushrooms (1/4 inch slice), the leeks, the rice wine vinegar, the white pepper, the sesame oil, the bones, and the diced, cooked beef chunks. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. Taste. Reason if neccessary. Remove the bones.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives or green onions.

Baked Spaghetti…not just another lasagna!

There’s your basic lasagna…then there’s your basic Baked Spaghetti. The only difference? The type of pasta in it. And, Baked Spaghetti is easier to make!

Easy. Serves about 4-6 people.


  • 8 ounces of spaghetti, cooked al dente according to package directions, about 9 minutes
  • 2 cups of spaghetti meat sauce, jarred or home made like I did here (recipe below)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheesse
  • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of ricotta or cottage cheese
  • 8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • Fresh chopped basil and grated parmesan to serve.


  • In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the melted butter, the pepper, and the grated parmesan cheese.
  • Add the cooked spaghetti to the egg mixture. Add 1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce and toss the spaghetti.
  • Spray an 8×8 baking dish with pan spray. Add half of the spaghetti mixture and spread it around evenly. Top with half of the ricotta, 1 cup of meat sauce, then half the mozzarella cheese. Repeat with the remainder of the spaghetti, ricotta, meats sauce, and mozzarella.
  • Cover with foil and bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes to set up. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil to serve if desired. Pass more parmesan at the table.



  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup of white onions, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup of green bell pepper, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 cup if red bell pepper, 1/4 inch dice
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper taste
  • 2 – 14 1/2 ounce cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar


  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, the bell peppers, and the garlic and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Crumble the ground beef into the pan and stir all the ingredients, letting the beef cook through, about 15 minutes. You may want to drain the meat at this point, but I chose not to (if the beef is lean enough, there is no need to drain it).
  • Add the remainder of the ingredients, stir well and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Taste. Reseason if necessary.

Hot and Sour Soup with Mushrooms, Chicken, and Leeks

When I was a kid, our family ate at a Chinese restaurant somewhere in the West San Fernando Valley, just outside L.A. Can’t remember the name of it. But I do remember the Hot and Sour Soup I used to get before every meal (you chose Egg Drop Soup or Hot and Sour).

I have tried to replicate it here. Pretty close facsimile I think. Add more rice vinegar is you want it more “sour”…more Sriracha if you want it more “hot”. Instead of white mushrooms, try porcinis or shiitakes for a more umami flavor. Also, you can substitute tofu for the chicken and vegetable stock for the chicken stock to make it vegan.


  • 3-cups of low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, remove the end stem, 1/4 inch slice
  • 1/4 cup of leeks, white part only, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, thin sliced
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 4-ounces of cooked chicken (I use the dark meat only from a rotisserie chicken), chopped or shredded
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • Chopped chives


  • Add the chopped chicken, stock, mushrooms, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, white pepper to taste, and Sriracha sauce to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, lower heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes.
  • Whisk together the 2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of cold water and add to the simmer soup. Let it thicken for about 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked chicken and let it heat through, about 10 minutes. Taste. I found no need to add salt but you can if you want. Add more white pepper if desired.
  • Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped chives.

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings

I have made Chicken and Dumplings countless times over the years. But this is the first time with “old-fashioned” flat noodles. And I gotta say, I prefer these to the traditional drop-style biscuits. They are a little lighter and less filling. Rolling out and cutting the dough is a breeze…just keep the surface and the dumplings well floured.


  • 2 pounds of chicken, legs and thighs
  • White onions, peeled
  • Carrots, peeled
  • Celery
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of sage
  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup of dry sherry
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 teaspoon of herbes de Provence
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Medium Bay leaf
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 cup of solid shortening or lard
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • Chopped parsley


  • In a large saucepan, put the chicken stock, the rosemary, the sage, the sherry, the herbes de Provence, the Bay leaf, the chicken pieces, 1/2 onion (cut into quarters), 1 medium carrot (cut into fourths), 1 celery stalk (cut into fourths), and bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and cook for about 60 minutes.
  • When the chicken is done, remove it and the vegetables, save the broth, and discard the vegetables. Let the chicken cool until you are able to handle it. Remove the skin and bones then chop the meat and set aside.
  • To the stock, 1/2 cup of white onions, 1/4 inch dice, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1/4 inch dice, 1/2 cup of celery, 1/4 inch dice. Bring to a low simmer for about 30 minutes uncovered. Add the cream. To thicken, mix 3 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Add to the stock, stirring, and simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of peas.
  • To make the dumplings (can be done while the chicken is cooking). In a medium bowl, combine the flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the shortening. With a fork or dough cutter, mix everything together.
  • Add some milk and mix until the mixture is soft.
  • Knead a few times on a floured surface. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut dough into 1” by 2” pieces and add to the simmering stock. Cover, and cook about 15-20 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Really Nice and Fluffy Belgian Waffles

We’ve had a great little Cuisinart waffle maker for a few years. And, we make waffles every now and then. But this past Mother’s Day, I made Belgian Waffles for my wife (and mother) Loretta.

What’s the difference between waffles and Belgian Waffles? Lots of butter and beaten egg whites. Wow, what a difference! Fluffy, fluffy, fluffy! They are much lighter than a traditional standard waffle recipe. I made a full batch and froze the remainder. Freeze first on a sheet pan, then place in a plastic bag (I used a Food Saver), and freeze…that simple.

These waffles will also hold relative well in a warm oven as long as you place them on a grate and not on a sheet pan. Also, we like them golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes (Level 4 on the Cuisinart)…just leave them for another minute or so or crank up the setting for crispier and darker waffles. I sprayed the waffle maker with pan spray, but, I forgot to spray them twice and they came out fine, did not stick.


  • 2 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
  • 3 medium eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray (optional)


  • In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt.
  • In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks then add the milk, melted butter, and vanilla and mix well. Stir this into the dry mix.
  • Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold into the batter gently.
  • Bake in your preheated waffle iron until done to your liking, typically about 3 minutes.

Let’s Talk Brisket…Smoker BBQ’d Prime Beef Brisket

I did a post not long ago about talking religion, politics, and BBQ in mixed company. I am going to break my own pledge and go ahead and talk BBQ! I just did my first smoked brisket and wanted to pass along MY experience doing it. Now, it may not be the best way to cook brisket, it may not be the most flavorful…but, I can’t imagine it isn’t the most tender brisket I have had anywhere. Butter-tender!

Let’s start at the beginning…the trip to Costco the other day. I got there early on a Tuesday on a mission to find a nice beef brisket. There were none out on the floor. Crap! Well, I managed to talk to one of the meat guys already helping someone else, you know, leaning out the sliding window. I’ve stood in that area for long periods of time in the past because most of those guys really don’t want to interact with customers…heavens! But, he was nice and helpful and said the brisket hasn’t been put out yet and I could take my pick from the bunch on this cart he wheeled out from the back. I chose a nice looking, medium-sized (11.35 pounds) brisket and left feeling very anxious to get this thing on my smoker. What I didn’t realize until I got home was that it was Prime Brisket, and, it was only $3.49 a pound! Nice! The game was afoot.

After reading much and watching many videos about brisket cooking over the course of a couple of weeks, I settled on a method that seemed too simple to be true. And this is it…


  • A nicely marbled, beef brisket, about 10-12 pounds, Choice or Prime
  • Kosher salt and Black Pepper

That’s it! Really. You are certainly welcome to use your favorite rub, one without salt (if you salt and peppered it separately) or brown sugar (on a long cook, it can burn too easily). But I like this style because it really maintains the taste of the beef…and that is what BBQ is all about.

  • Start by making sure your brisket has about 1/4 inch layer of fat on it. Some people strip almost all of the fat off. IMHO…bad move. Moving on…
  • The Costco brisket I got was not only Prime, it was trimmed to these specs and ready to roll.
  • Mix together a 50/50 mix of Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. If you have a shaker, that’s a good thing. If not, use you fingers.
  • Give your brisket a good coating, not too much like some rubs, on both sides. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight.
  • I found there was no need to bring the brisket to room temperature before cooking, just not necessary as this is a long cook.
  • Preheat your smoker to 250F. I use a Pit Boss pellet smoker with their Competition Blend pellets (maple, hickory, and cherry). I also got up at 5 am to start this process as I was a expecting about a 12 hour smoke/cook. If your brisket is larger, it will take longer, of course.
  • Remove the plastic from the brisket, insert your food temperature probe, stick it on the grill, close the lid, and go back to bed for a couple hours.
  • Try to refrain from checking the meat too often. The old saying goes, “If I’m lookin’, I’m not cookin’”. Opening and closing the lid causes the temperature to fluctuate, and you want to maintain a steady temperature for best results. If you choose to spritz with some sort of liquid, ie, apple cider vinegar, try not to do it too often.
  • The idea here is too cook the brisket to an internal temperature of about 160F, it took mine about 4 hours. I use the Texas Crutch method…at this point, remove the brisket to a surface where you can fully wrap it in foil, tightly, and completely. Take advantage of this part to spritz the brisket again before wrapping. Reinsert the probe and place it back on the grill, close the cover.
  • When it reaches an internal temperature of 199F, mine took another 2 hours, turn off the smoker, leave the lid closed and let it sit about 30 minutes. The temperature will continue to rise to about 205F.
  • Remove the brisket from the smoker. At this point, you can add some more spritzing liquid of choice to the package. Seal it back up and place in a good portable beer/soda cooler and wrap it in a couple of large (old) towels. Close the lid and take a nap or something. You can leave the probe in, but it is not necessary. I did so I could record the progress over the next 4 hours. After that time, the temperature was still 170F.
  • Note: Safe food handling practices dictate that the temperature of food must be below 40F or above 140F to remain safe. After 20 plus years in the food service industry, I had those numbers hammered into me many times. If the food goes into that danger zone (40F to 140F) for more than 2 hours (some say 4 hours) it will be susceptible to growing bacteria, and that can make people sick. This cooler method has been known to hold brisket (or other hot food for that matter) for up to 12 hours, but I’ve never left it that long.
  • This extra-long “rest” period really completes the cooking process to make the brisket butter-tender. So, my 11.35 pound brisket took 10 hours to get to where I wanted. And, yes, it was indeed very, tender…fork tender, butter-tender. Try the poke test: Use a toothpick or heat probe, stick it in the widest spot. It should go in easily like pushing it into butter. If it is over cooked, it will be dry and crumble too much.
  • Remove from the cooler. Remove the foil wrap and just tent loosely for about 30 minutes or so.
  • Slice against the grains, about 3/8 inch slices, just enough for serving. The grains do run in different directions depending on which part of the brisket you are slicing. It should slice easily and not crumble (too much). The pull test: Hold a 3/8 inch slice between your thumb and index finger and pull down on the lower end of it. It should pull apart in two pieces easily.
  • Serve with your favorite sauces on the side, BBQ or otherwise. Typically, most traditional BBQ places serve it on butcher paper with a few slices of white bread…and any number of sides like cole slaw, beans, or potato salad.
  • You will undoubtedly have a lot of leftover brisket. My suggestion is to cut it into several large pieces (do not slice), cool, then wrap tightly is plastic or, like I do, seal it in a Food Saver bag. Then freeze it.
  • To reheat brisket, bring to room temperature (thaw it), place it in a flat bowl or baking dish. Add some beef stock and cover tightly with foil. Place in a 325F oven for 30 minutes or so. You may want to slice it before reheating, it’s up to you.

Skip’s Sopa de Chorizo and Papas

This soup eats like a meal! Wasn’t that in a Campbell’s commercial? Anyway…it’s hearty and filling and easy to make.

Depending on the chorizo you use (heat levels vary), it is relatively mild tasting, not too spicy. I get mine at Porter Road online. I find it to be just the right level or spices and heat, plus, it crumbled well. I use diced green chiles, but if you want to notch it up, use a small can of dice jalapenos instead…that will really crank up the heat. You don’t have to blend the first stage of the soup, I just think it makes for a smoother result.


  • 2 chorizos (about 8 ounces total), casings removed, crumbled
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, 1/4 inch chop
  • 1 medium leek, white part only, 1/2 inch chop
  • 2 teaspoons of garlic, thin sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 cups of low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of ancho chile powder
  • One – 14 1/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small (4 ounce) can of diced green chiles
  • 2 cups of russett potatoes (about 1 large potato), cut into quarters, 1/4 inch slice, leave skin on
  • 1/2 cup Bloody Mary mix (I use Mr. and Mrs. T’s)
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • Crema or sour cream


  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook bacon and crumbled chorizo until the chorizo is lightly browned. Remove from the pan, set aside. Leave about 1 tablespoon of fat in the pan, add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Reduce heat to medium, add the chopped leeks and the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Season with black pepper to taste. Salt may not be necessary as the chorizo and bacon are pretty salty themselves. Add the sliced garlic for 30 seconds stirring. Add the diced tomatoes, the stock, and the sherry and bring to a simmer. Add the cumin and the chile powder. Lower the heat, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, process the soup until slightly smooth but not puréed, leaving a few chunks of vegetables. Add the Bloody Mary mix, the diced green chiles, the cooked chorizo and bacon, and the sliced potatoes and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender but not mushy. Taste. Season with salt and pepper if neccessary. Add the half and half and heat through.
  • Serve with a small dollop of crema or sour cream in each bowl and warm tortillas on the side.