PANKO CRUSTED SALMON

It seems people either love salmon or they totally hate it. We are in the company of the former…we do love salmon made any number of ways. Grilled…pan-seared…baked…poached…or in a pasta dish…it’s all good.

Whether it’s a salmon steak (cut crosswise through the whole fish) or a bone-less skin-less filet like this one, it does take a little finesse to cook it properly. Aim for 125 degrees for a medium rare to about 135 for medium. I prefer somewhere in the middle.

Here’s a recipe loosely based on one I saw on Binging with Babish, with a couple minor changes.

Ingredients:

  • Two 6-8 ounce boneless salmon filets (skin on or skinless)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard or whole grain mustard
  • Lemon wedges

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pat dry salmon filets with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and add the panko crumbs, tossing for about 1 minute to lightly brown. Add the chopped herbs and toss for another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from skillet to a small bowl and set aside.
  • Mix together the mayonnaise and Dijon in a small bowl.
  • Wrap a small wire rack in foil. Spray generously with cooking spray. Place in a small sheet pan.
  • Coat the tops of the salmon filets with the mayo/Dijon mixture. Thoroughly cake the tops of the salmon with the panko mixture.
  • Place salmon on the foil wrapped wire rack and sheet pan and place in the oven. Bake for about 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Cook until the internal temperature is 125-135 degrees according to how done you like it.
  • Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a dab of tartar sauce. I served mine with Creamy Cheesy Polenta.

CHICKEN CHARDONNAY WITH MUSHROOMS

Chicken thighs, mushrooms, and wine. What an incredible combination. Its’ easy to make using very few ingredients and goes well with almost any starch, especially rice, polenta or Creamy White Cheddar Grits like I have here.

Skin on, bone in chicken thighs work the best, though I have made this with bone in chicken breasts as well. It is braised in wine and stock so it doesn’t dry out when cooking in the oven.

This recipe serves 4-6 people…or, the two of us with lots of leftovers! And, yes, that’s a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon (instead of white wine) since the browned thighs produce such an incredible light brown sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, about 2 lbs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Avocado or canola oil
  • 1 cup of onions, thin sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups of cremini or white mushrooms, 1/4 in slice
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, thin sliced
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of Chardonnay or other dry white wine
  • 1 cup of low-sodium chicken stock
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Trim any excess fat from around the edges of the chicken thighs. Dry them with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add the about 2 tbsp of avocado oil. When the oil is hot, brown the thighs thoroughly on both sides. Remove from the skillet to a plate and set aside for now.
  • Drain most of the oil from the skillet and lower the heat. Add 2 tbsp unsalted butter and add the sliced mushrooms and onions. Saute, stirring, for about 7 minutes. Season lightly with pepper. Add the sliced garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring,
  • Add the wine and bring to a simmer for about 1 minute. Add the stock and the thyme sprigs.
  • Place the browned chicken thighs back in the skillet and bring to a simmer.
  • Place in the oven, covered, and cook for 50 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees.
  • Remove the lid from the skillet and raise the heat to 425 degrees. Cook an additional 12 minutes to brown and crisp the chicken a bit.
  • Remove from the skillet from the oven, remove the thighs to a serving platter, and place skillet over medium high heat. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. To serve, spoon the mushrooms and pan sauce over the thighs. Garnish with chopped parsley.

INSTAPOT BEEF SHORT RIBS

I enjoy cooking beef short ribs any manner of ways and methods, but this is one of my favorites. Also, I use boneless beef short ribs but I have used bone-in ribs and they are great as well. I trim the excess fat from the boneless ribs and it makes the dish a little more refined.

The basic method here was borrowed from Chef Thomas Keller…with a few adjustments of mine. Of course, the use of the Instapot rather than a 3-hour braise, but the rest of the ingredients are the same as Chef Kellers. He also marinates the meat, vegetables, and wine overnight before cooking them, I skipped that here. However, I do suggest leaving it in the fridge overnight after cooking, it brings so much more flavor out of the ingredients…like 2nd day pot roast! I served it over White Cheddar Polenta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red wine, I use Cabernet
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • Bouquet garni – 5 parsley sprigs, 2 thyme sprigs, 1 bay leaf, 10 peppercorns
  • Canola oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbsp demi-glace
  • Unsalted butter
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • Maldon sea salt
  • Chopped chives

Directions:

  • Heat Instapot on Saute and add 1 tbsp canola oil. Season the ribs with salt and pepper then dust lightly with flour. When the oil is hot add the ribs and brown thoroughly on both sides. Remove ribs to a plate. Drain the oil from the pot.
  • Add the wine and bring to a simmer to cook off the alcohol. Add the stocks and bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the vegetables , Garni, and the beef. Seal the Instapot and pressure cook for 55 minutes letting the pressure release naturally. Put everything in a big bowl and cool in the refrigerator. When cooled, cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator.
  • The next day, skim any fat from the surface. Place everything in a saucepan and heat to warm it. Remove the Garni and discard. Remove the short ribs and set aside. Strain the liquid through a fine metal sieve or chinois. Place the liquid in a saucepan and heat. Add the Demi-glace and bring to a simmer.
  • Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add a couple ladles of liquid to the skillet. Place the ribs in the liquid, bring to a simmer, then start basting and reducing the liquid. Melt in 2 tbsp of cold butter and continue basting until the ribs are heated through.
  • To serve, plate on top of cream polenta or whipped Yukon Jack potatoes. Add fresh cracked black pepper and chopped chives.

SRIRACHA HONEY CHICKEN

Loretta found this recipe today and it sounded too good to pass up since I had chicken thighs ready to go in the refrigerator. Although the original recipe calls for chicken drumsticks, it would work with wings, breasts, or thighs.

Don’t be weary of the sriracha, this is not super spicy. We even adjusted the honey versus sriracha ratio and it came out perfect for us.

I served ours over leftover creamy cheese grits from the night before. I just heated them up with a little cream and 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

I can’t wait to try this recipe on chicken wings! It’s sweet and spicy to the tee.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of chicken thighs, drumsticks, or wings (we used bone-in thighs)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line small sheet pan with foil.
  • Dry the chicken thighs completely and coat with olive oil.
  • Mix together the ground thyme, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.
  • Season the thighs on both sides with the seasoning mix and place on the foil lined sheet pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 45-50 minutes.
  • Combine the butter, honey, sriracha, and soy sauce in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Stir and let simmer about 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • When the chicken is done, spread some of the sauce on the thighs with a pastry brush or spoon. Place back in the oven for another 2 minutes to let the sauce glaze.
  • To serve, place a chicken thigh on the plate and drizzle on more sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley. I served it on top of creamy cheese grits. Rice or mashed potatoes will work as well.

SHORT RIB CHICKEN FRIED STEAK

I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when setting out on this recipe project. Using short ribs to make Chicken Fried Steak worried me…was it going to be tender…or, like shoe leather? I mean, I cook short ribs a lot, but I braise them for hours or cook them in a pressure cooker. They need that kind of cook as they are not a tender cut. Then I thought, “Old Chicken Fried Steak recipes call for using heavily pounded and tenderized Top Round, possibly the toughest cut in the world!”. So why not Short Ribs? They are so flavorful. And the boneless version I get from Costco is prefect for pounding thin and tenderizing. I wasn’t wrong! They turned out tender and delicious.

Admittedly, for me, half the attraction to C.F.S. is the creamy gravy and garlic mashed potatoes that go with it. I followed that precedent with one little change. I served Creamy Cheese Grits along side instead of the potatoes. It was all delightful.

C.F.S is not something I make very often as it is messy with the breading and the frying and all, but it is worth the mess every once in a while. I urge you to try making it with Boneless Short Ribs on occasion instead of Sirloin or Ribeye…you might be pleased with the change.

By the way, it’s pretty essential to do a double breading with the buttermilk/egg mixture and seasoned flour (buttermilk, then flour, then buttermilk, then flour) like good fried chicken. It will give you a crispy, flavorful coating.

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick boneless short ribs, about 1 lb total, cut into 3 inch long chunks
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp seasoning (like Lawry’s)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Frank’s Hot sauce
  • Canola oil for frying

For the Cream Gravy:

  • 2 cups half and half (or whole milk)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
  • 1 small shallot, peeled, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp chicken base (I use Better Than Bullion)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Chopped chives

For the Creamy Cheese Grits:

  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup white grits (I use Geechie Boy)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp cold butter pats
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

  • Pound and tenderize short ribs with a mallet. You should get them 1/4 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Heat 2 cups of half and half in a sauce pan to a simmer and add the garlic and the chives. Turn off heat, cover, let sit for 30 minutes to infuse the half and half.
  • In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and start adding the grits 1/4 cup at a time while whisking constantly. When all the grits have been added, cook and whisk about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit about 20 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes.
  • Add the cold butter pats, the parmesan cheese and the cream and whisk together until creamy. Add more cream or stock if it is too thick. Keep warm.
  • Strain out the shallots and garlic from the half and half. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of butter and make a roux, cook for about 1 minute. Whisk in the half and half 1/2 cup at a time. Add 1 tsp chicken base, season with salt and a lot of black pepper. Continue whisking and cooking the gravy until it reaches the consistency you want. Keep warm. If it is too thick, add a little more half and half or cream. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Set up a breading station with 2 flat bowls. In one bowl, add the flour and the seasoning and mix thoroughly. In the other bowl, add the buttermilk, Frank’s Hot sauce, and the beaten egg.
  • Make sure you have seasoned the pounded steaks with salt and pepper.
  • Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a large skillet to 350 degrees.
  • Dip the steaks into the buttermilk, then the seasoned flour, then the buttermilk, and then the seasoned flour again.
  • When the oil is hot, carefully add the breaded steaks to the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. You can baste the steaks with the hot oil as they are cooking so the breading sets up quicker. Keep warm on a wire rack over a sheet pan.
  • I recommend plating some grits first, then lay a steak across the edge of the grits. Spoon on as much gravy as you like leaving half the steak exposed so it stays crispy. Garnish with chopped chives and chopped parsley.

PARMESAN RICOTTA MEATBALLS AND CHEESY POBLANO POLENTA

These meatballs are tender and light, not dense. The marinara sauce is fresh-made with fresh tomatoes. The poblano polenta is creamy and cheesy with Pepper Jack cheese. A winning combination that deserves your consideration.

Of course, you can use your own marinara or a jarred sauce, but don’t if you have the time. It only takes a few minutes to get going and 30 minutes to cook.

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/4 ground sausage (I used Jimmy Dean)
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

For the marinara:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, thin sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 medium, ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped or 1-14 ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp chicken base

For the polenta:

  • 1/4 cup minced poblano chile
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups whole milk + more for later
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese

For serving:

  • 3 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • Chopped chives
  • Chopped parsley

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, add the ground beef, ground sausage, ricotta, grated parmesan, panko crumbs, granulated garlic, egg, parsley, 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper. Mix all ingredients well and form into four 4-ounce meatballs. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  • Place a small saucepan over medium low heat and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 7 minutes until the onions and garlic are soft and translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, oregano, chicken base, and white wine. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the sugar, parmesan, and blend with am immersion blender. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • To a medium saucepan, add the milk, the stock, salt, and minced poblano. Bring to a simmer, turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes. Bring back to a simmer and slowly add the polenta until it is all gone, stirring for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. When ready to serve, add the Jack cheese, the butter, and as much milk as needed to make it cream, about another 1/5 cup. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the polenta is creamy. Taste and reseason if necessary. Keep warm.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • For the meatballs, heat a medium oven-proof skillet over medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the meatballs, 2 at a time and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate when two are done and cook the remaining two. Drain the skillet of all the oil. Let the skillet cool slightly then add the marinara sauce to the skillet then add the meatballs. Baste the meatballs with the sauce then place in the oven until the internal temperature of the meatballs reaches 165 degrees.
  • Place 1 tbsp of shredded mozzarella on the meatballs the last 1 minute of cooking.
  • To serve, ladle some polenta on a plate or flat bowl. Place a meatball on the polenta with more sauce. Add some grated parmesan to the meatball. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Garnish the polenta with chopped chives.

SOUTHWESTERN SPICED PORK TENDERLOIN

Pork Tenderloin is the Filet Mignon of pork. It sits on the other side of the bone on a pork porterhouse, the loin on the other side. And like a Filet Mignon, the Pork Tenderloin needs a little help with flavor and fat. Yes, it is so tender…but don’t neglect the spices!

This one is simply rubbed with a southwester type spice mix, pan seared, then roasted in the oven. The finish involves basting it with garlic, jalapeño, rosemary, thyme butter in the pan just before serving. Cue a small pinch of Maldon salt at service.

I have included a nice recipe for a beautiful, creamy, cheesy polenta to go with it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver skin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 small sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, smashed
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded,
  • Unsalted butter, cold

For the rub:

  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt

For the creamy, cheesy polenta:

  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  • Prepare your polenta first. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of stock and 1 1/2 cups of milk to a boil, reserve some of each for finishing if needed to make it creamy. Slowly whisk in the polenta until it is all in the pan, continue to stir and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and cover for 15 minutes.
  • Just before serving, turn the heat under the polenta to low and add more stock and cream, stirring until it is creamy. Add the cheese and 2 tbsp butter and stir with a fork until the reach the consistency you want. Turn off heat, cover, and keep warm.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Stir together all the spice rub ingredients. Trim any excess fat or silver skin from the pork. Then tie in a few places with kitchen twine to hold its shape. Brush the tenderloin with olive oil then season liberally all over with the rub.
  • Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of canola oil. When the oil is hot, brown the tenderloin all over. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the internal temperature is 130 degrees. Remove from oven and drain off excess oil.
  • Place the skillet over medium low heat and add 1 tbsp of oil then 2 tbsp cold butter pats. Add the fresh thyme, rosemary sprigs, half jalapeño and smashed garlic to the skillet. Start basting the tenderloin with the butter and oil. Place the herbs and garlic on the tenderloin and continue to baste until the internal temperature is 140-145 degrees for medium. Remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board. Tent loosely with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the tenderloin into 1/2 inches slices. Spoon some creamy polenta in a flat bowl or plate. Place 2 or 3 tenderloin medallions on the polenta then drizzle some pan sauce on the medallions. Garnish with chopped chives.