BARBACOA BEEF

DISCLAIMER: This is just my way of making a traditional favorite originating in the Caribbean many years ago: Barbacoa. Many countries makes this using pork, lamb, beef, or goat. Historically, the meat was marinated in spices and citrus, then cooked for a long time over an open fire, or, wrapped in agave leaves and buried in the ground with hot coals. This Americanized version is much easier!

The level of heat you desire is entirely your choice. With Mexican Barbacoa, guajillo chiles are often used. I chose chipotles and roasted green chiles. I also chose to make it in my Instantpot. My other method of choice is braising it in the oven for several hours. The P/C doesn’t require as much babysitting.

We had tacos, but Barbacoa beef is excellent for any shredded beef application like burritos, enchiladas, taquitos, and so on. Freeze what you don’t use that day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 3 pounds beef chuck roast, excess fat trimmed, cut into 2 inch chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp minced chipotles and adobo sauce
  • 1 large Anaheim chile, roasted, skin and seeds removed, rough chop
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled, rough chop
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock

Directions:

  • Place all the ingredients in the Instantpot. Stir everything to combine.
  • Set Instantpot to High Pressure Cook and cook for 55 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Then let everything sit on Warm for 1 hour.
  • Remove the beef to a bowl. Strain the liquid and reserve. Discard the vegetables.
  • When ready to serve, chop the beef to your desired consistency. Use two forks and shred if you want. Place the shredded beef in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss to coat. Taste and reseason if necessary. Serve immediately.

CHAR SIU BBQ PORK WITH CHINESE GARLIC NOODLES

The S.F. Chinese Garlic Noodles are great on their own, but I decided to pair them with the Char Siu Pork.

I hope you love garlic! Relatively easy to make. After marinating the pork overnight, it comes together quickly. The basic Char Siu recipe calls for pork shoulder but I chose to use some country pork ribs I had in the freezer. Don’t over cook the pork…or they will be chewy.

Ingredients:

For the pork:

  • 1 1/4 pounds pork (shoulder, tenderloin, country style ribs), 1 1/2 inch wide strips
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, thin sliced

For the Garlic Noodles:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled, minced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp granted parmesan
  • 2 tbsp sliced green onions
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (opt)
  • 6 ounces of spaghetti or other long noodle

Directions:

  • Mix together all of the pork marinade ingredients in a bowl.
  • Place the pork in a large zip lock bag then pour the marinade over the pork. Massage the pork to make sure it is all coat. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • For the noodles, mix together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Worcestershire, fish sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
  • Remove the pork from the marinade and pour the marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer on low for 2-3 minutes. Divide it in two small bowls, one for basting, one for serving.
  • Cook the noodles according to package direction. Do not salt the water.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add the sauce and simmer on low heat for a minute or so.
  • When the noodles are done, using tongs, transfer the noodles to the skillet with the sauce, sprinkle with the red pepper flakes, and toss completely. Turn off the heat and add the parmesan cheese.
  • Slice the pork against the grain into thin slices. Baste with the sauce.
  • To plate, place some noodles in a pasta dish and fan out a few slices of the pork. Baste again with the sauce. Garnish with sliced green onions. Serve iimmediately.
  • Pass the extra sauce and parmesan at the table.

THE CHEESEBURGER

You see all kinds of “burgers” these days. As a teenager, I worked at McDonald’s in 1966. Their menu back then was pretty similar to what In N Out’s menu is today…burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes. That’s was it! The fish sandwich was introduced in 1965.

I love burgers. I could live off of them if need be. But I have always been very vehement as to what goes into my burger. I truly believe that mixing anything into your ground beef makes it either meat loaf or Salisbury steak…but not a burger. Burger accompaniments go on the outside. And with that said, have at it! Honestly, I’m not a fan of adding any fruit (other than tomatoes) or even other protein (other than bacon). Any cheese will do, but sliced American is really the best choice…it melts better and just belongs on a burger.

The last burger I made (the one in the photo) was destined to be a tower of impossibility. In other words, good luck stuffing it into your mouth. This one made for a ridiculous picture…then a knife and fork! But it contains the rudimentary, and some of us say, required condiments: American cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, dill pickle slices, iceberg lettuce, and a burger sauce…in this case, it was an In N Out dressing clone. Yum! It is also flat grilled with a nice dark brown crust and cooked to medium (there was some pink inside). And, seasoned with Kosher salt and black pepper. That’s an 8 ounce 85/15 patty. Juicy and flavorful, as long as you don’t overcook it. The bun? It’s a home made griddle-browned brioche bun.

That’s my take on the Cheeseburger. K.I.S.S. method all the way!

COUNTRY CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

So, why am I calling it Country Chicken Fried Steak? Well…it’s complicated.

First of all, there is no universally accepted explanation as to the difference between Country Fried and Chicken Fried Steak. Generally speaking, Chicken Fried Steak is double breaded in egg and flour and fried like fried chicken. And, it is served with a white cream gravy. Country Fired Steak is dusted in flour, then fried…and the oil is used to make a brownish gravy from the drippings. No one agrees,really, on all this food history blathering. Basically it depends on what part of the country you are from that determined what you call this iconic comfort food.

This recipe is a hybrid between the two. I actually bread the steak in buttermilk and panko, then make the gravy from some of the drippings. So…Country Chicken Fried Steal. Also, traditionally you will find CFS made with pounded out and tenderized round steak, a.k.a., cube steak. I used a NY strip steak here.

Have fun with it. Much of the results depends on technique, ie, frying them crispy and properly seasoning the coating and gravy. It’s all a matter of choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef or cube steak (flank, strip, ribeye)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • Canola oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

  • Cut the beef into 4 equal portions. Place on a cutting board then pound each portion with a meat mallet using the tenderizer end until they are 1/4 inch thick. If using pre-tenderized cube steak, pound them to about 1/4 inch as well.
  • Place the buttermilk in a flat bowl then place the pounded beef steaks Makie sure they are all covered in buttermilk. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight covered.
  • Place the panko crumbs in a flat bowl then add 1 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning. Mix well.
  • Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.
  • Remove the meat from the buttermilk. Bread each steak in the seasoned panko until they are well coated on both sides, pressing the panko into the steaks. Place on a parchment lined plate.
  • When all the steak are breaded, fry them in the oil without crowding until golden brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. turn and repeat with the other side. Remove to a wire rack over a sheet pan in a warm oven.
  • When the steaks are fried, remove most of the oil from the skillet. Add 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter then 2 tbsp of flour. Over medium heat, cook the flour, stirring with a whisk, for about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and let it come to a simmer. Whisk in the cream and bring to a low simmer. Taste and season with more Cajun seasoning and black pepper.
  • Plate with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Spoon some of the gravy on the steaks and the potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley and chopped chives. Sprinkle with a little paprika.

PAN SEARED SCALLOPS WITH A SHALLOT CREAM SAUCE

Simple put, shallots are pretty darn easy to pan sear…and pretty darn easy to screw up! How do you screw them up? By over cooking. Overcooked scallops become the consistency of a rubber flip flop when cooked too much. They must be cooked tender to be successful. Also, try to find dry pack fresh sea scallops, not the ones that come in a pan.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 large dry pack sea scallops
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter + 2 tbsp cold cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup shallots, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Chopped Italian parsley

Directions:

  • Remove the little abductor muscle from the scallops if present. Throughly dry them with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a medium non stock skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Then add 1 tbsp of butter and allow to melt get hot. Lay the scallops down in the pan and cook for about 1 1/2 minutes, until you get a nice golden brown crust on the first side. Turn over and cook another minute or so. Do not let the scallops get firm or they will be overcooked. Remove them to a plate and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
  • Pour the oil out of the skillet. Place over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil then add the shallots. Saute them, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Eason with salt and pepper. Add the wine and bring to a simmer, let it reduce for 2 minutes. Add the tarragon then the cream and simmer for 1 minute. Add 2 tbsp of cold cubed butter and allow it to melt, stirring to emulsify. When all the butter is melted. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • If desired, strain the sauce through a fine wire sieve into a small skillet.
  • Spoon some pan sauce on a plate then add the scallops. Drizzle more sauce over the scallops and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with Rice Pilaf.

CARNE GUISADA TWO WAYS

Carne Guisada is similar to Carne Asada. Where Carne Asada is Mexican marinated beef that is grilled, Carne Guisada is Mexican beef that is stewed.

Typically, you use beef chuck for this dish, but, since I had a big rib eye thawed out and ready to go, I opted for the ribeye! Why not? I still cooked (braised) it for a couple hours so it would be butter tender. Braised in a spiced tomato and beef stock liquid, it came out perfect.

Add as much or as little heat as you like, ie, more jalapenos or chipotles. I dropped in a chipotle pepper and some of the adobo to give it a little kick. If the finished guisada is not thick enough, mix a little flour or cornstarch with some stock and simmer it until it thickens. Some Carne Guisada preparations are made like a beef stew with carrots and potatoes. But, I decided to make Carne Guisada tacos, just like shredded beef tacos only the beef is already cut into bite size chunks.

Garnish your lightly fried corn tortillas tacos with finely shredded iceberg, diced tomatoes, and shredded Mexican blend cheese (cheddar and Monterey Jack). We served this Carne Guisada over white rice the next night…it was yummy both nights. And, full disclosure, I actually made ours in the Instantpot….40 minute cook.

Note: This is a very mild recipe. Ramp up the braising liquid with guajillo or chiles de arbor for more heat.

Ingredients:

  • About 1 1/2 pounds of beef, cut into 3/4 inch chunks (I used ribeye, but chuck works well)
  • 2 tsp lard or bacon fat or canola oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle chile and 1 tbsp adobo (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups water
  • Corn tortillas
  • Shredded Iceberg lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced onions
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Chopped cilantro

Directions:

  • In a large pan or Dutch oven over high heat, add 2 tsp of canola oil then brown the beef on both sides. Do it in batches. Remove the beef to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the onions, garlic, and bell pepper and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the beef back, and the tomato paste, chipotles, and spices. Stir to coat for 1 minute. Add the stock and 1 cup of water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, lower the heat, and cook for about 1 1/2 hours until the beef is tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  • You can do this in an Instantpot like I did. Just cook for 40 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.

4-CHEESE OVER THE TOP MAC AND CHEESE

So, I set out to come up with a new Mac and Cheese recipe. And decided to start with some of my favorite cheeses, two of which I don’t use nearly enough: Fontina and Gruyere. I paired them with White Cheddar And Parmesan and then added a garlic and shallot infused half and half to make the cheese sauce…and I was off and running!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium shallots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar
  • 14 tsp cayenne
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 slices of Black Forest deli ham, thin sliced (roll up and chiffonade)
  • 6 ounces of macaroni (I used cavatappi)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Canola oil

Directions:

  • Place 1 cup half and half, the shallots, and the garlic clove in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover and set aside.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 1 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Strain the half and half into this saucepan (discard the vegetables) and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thicken slightly and smooth.
  • Add the Gruyere, Fontina, and white cheddar, lower the heat, and allow the all the cheeses to melt until smooth. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta saucepan and fold in until completely coated evenly. Add the chiffonade ham and fold in. Place the macaroni and cheese in a 9×9 buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat then add 1/2 cup panko crumbs and paprika. Cook, stirring and tossing until the panko begins to brown. Sprinkle in the parmesan then spoon evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

PROPER CLASSIC BUFFALO WINGS

One of the stories behind Buffalo Wings is pretty simple. A late night, post-drinking college crowd came into the Ancho Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964 and wanted something to eat…you know, they had the munchies. Chicken wings were cheap and used only for stocks back then. So the owner of the bar (also mother of one of the drinking crowd) fried up some wings and dredged them in a vinegar based hot sauce…added some Blue cheese dressing…and, the rest is history.

There a cajillion different Buffalo/Hot wing recipes out there, most of them trying to embellish on this original recipe, mainly with seasoning, breading, or something else that strays from the more historically accepted original recipe. One of the things these other recipes do is season the wings before frying. Truth be told…this is pretty much useless as any seasoning on the wings is cooked off during the deep frying. The seasoning should happen right out of the fryer. Hence, here is my take on how Buffalo Wings were made at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York in 1964. This recipe serves 2-3 people.

Full disclosure, one of my favorite ways to make these wings is coating them with a little flour, cornstarch, and baking powder….let them sit over night on a wire rack in the fridge uncovered…then bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes, turning once…then toss in the same sauce. They come out almost as crispy as these deep fried ones.

Ingredients:

  • 12 chicken wing segments, (6 drumettes, 6 flats)
  • Canola oil for frying
  • 1/2 cup Franks’s Louisiana Hot sauce, or Crystal Hot sauce.
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s style seasoning salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • Blue cheese dressing for serving (recipe below)
  • Celery sticks for serving

Directions:

  • Completely dry the wings with a paper towel.
  • To a small saucepan over low heat, add the hot sauce, butter, and seasoning salt. Let the butter melt then stir everything together. Keep warm until ready to use.
  • Place enough canola oil in a pan for frying have 2 inch of oil. Heat to 375 degrees.
  • When the oil is hot, add the wings without crowing and fry for 7-10 minutes depending on how big the wings are. You are still shooting for 165 degree internal temperature like any chicken. Remove from the oil with a spider or slotted spoon and place on a wire rack over a sheet pan in a warm oven while you fry the remainder of the wings.
  • Place the cooked wings in a large stainless steel bowl and pours the hot sauce over the wings. Toss or stir with tongs until completely coated with the sauce.
  • Serve 4-6 segments on a small plate with a ramekin of blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.

CREAMY GARLIC MUSHROOM CHICKEN

This recipe uses bone in skin on chicken thighs, but you can use boneless thighs or boneless breasts. I just think you get more flavor with the bone in thighs.

I served it over what is called Hainanese Chicken Rice. I will include the recipe below. Brown rice or steamed white rice work just as well.

Ingredients:

  • 4 skin on bone in chicken thighs
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white or black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 3 ounces white mushrooms 1/4 inch slice
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Chopped parsley
  • Hainanese Chicken rice (recipe below)

Directions:

  • Trim any excess fat from the thighs. Pat dry with a paper towel. Lightly coat with olive oil Mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small bowl. Use this to season with thighs on both sides. Place on a wire rack over a 1/4 sheet pan and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and add 2 tsp of olive oil. Immediately place the thighs in the skillet skin side down. Let the thighs cook for about 3 minutes, until golden brown on the first side. Turn them over and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove the thighs back to the wire rack. Place in the oven and roast about 35 minutes, until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165 degrees.
  • While the thighs are cooking, drain most of the old oil from the skillet and add 2 tsp olive oil. Turn the heat to medium low and add the mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 6-7 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Add the sherry, turn up the heat, add the thyme sprigs, and bring to a simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce the sherry by half. Add the stock and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn down the heat and add the cream. Let it all simmer for another 4-5 minutes as the cream reduces by half. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard.
  • Place cooked rice on a platter then top with the cooked thighs. Spoon over some of garlic mushroom sauce and place the remainder of the sauce in a bowl at the table.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

  • Place 1 minced garlic clove and a 1 inch cube of peeled fresh ginger and 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and 1 tsp sesame oil (optional) in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, covered.
  • Add 1 cup of jasmine or basmati rice, stir, and bring back to a simmer. Lower the heat as far down as you can, cover, and cook about 12 minutes, stirring half way through. When the rice is done, turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, a place the lid ajar until ready to serve. Season with salt and white pepper.
  • There are dozens of Hainanese rice recipes, this is just the way I make it.

KETO INSTANTPOT CHILI CON CARNE

Oof course, this can be made on the stove top. But doing it a pressure cooker takes a lot less babysitting and produces a super flavorful chili con carne. Just keep in mind that the spice amounts are totally up to you, including adding some cayenne for more heat. Otherwise, it is a pretty tame chili. No beans, of course, for the Keto-friendly aspect. If you’re not worried about Keto…serve it over cooked red or pinto beans or white rice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds 1 lean ground beef
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow or white onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 small jalapeno, halved, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for garnish
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Sliced green onions for garnish

Directions:

  • Turn pressure cooker to Saute and add 1 tbsp canola oil. When the oil is hot crumble in the ground beef, diced bacon, onions, and garlic. Chop and stir to desired consistency. Add the remainder of the ingredients except for the garnishes. Bring to a simmer and stir to mix all ingredients completely. Turn off Saute. Turn on Pressure, seal the lid, and cook for 25 minutes letting the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and taste. Reason if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions.