Hoisin BBQ Sauce

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My mother became intrigued with international cuisines after her move to the USA from France in 1954. It might have begun when she purchased the set of cookbooks from Time-Life, called Foods of the World. After that, she set herself on a mission of culinary discovery.

I so wish there had been the concept of food photography in my youth, and digital photography would have been a plus, because I’d love to share photos of my mother’s creations. I remember a Russian salmon en croute, called coulibiac, that my mother turned into a fish, precisely carving the fins and scales out of pastry. It didn’t hurt that she was an artist and sculptor.

My mother also became a huge fan of Indian and Ethiopian cuisines. We probably had the best smelling house when those dishes were on the menu. Then, there was her Chinese phase, with my favorite meal being hot pot!


To learn about global cuisines, my mother followed lots of recipes, which I think is the best way to learn cooking techniques. But it also teaches about ingredients and seasonings, and what go well together.

That’s exactly how this sauce came about.


It’s simple, and probably not a unique combination for many home cooks, but for me, this sauce was over-the-top-good and I loved it. My mother’s “recipe” is based on hoisin sauce, using ketchup as a “carrier oil,” plus fresh ginger and garlic. Simple but sublime.

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

1 cup ketchup
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
6 pounds baby-back ribs, at room temperature

Combine The first six ingredients and stir until well combined.

Set your slow cooker to HIGH, and spray the inside with Pam.

Cut the rib slabs into halves, then slather them with 3/4 of the sauce; refrigerate the remaining sauce for use after the ribs are cooked.


Place the ribs in the slow cooker for one hour, then reduce the heat to LOW and cook for 5 more hours.

Turn on the broiler and get the sauce out of the refrigerator. Get the ribs out of the slow cooker and lay them in one layer on a rack placed in a roasting pan, meaty side up.


Brush the remaining sauce on the ribs. Broil the ribs for a few minutes until there’s some serious caramelization.

Serve immediately; they’re also good at room temperature.

Cut the ribs into smaller pieces, if desired, although the meat is very delicate.

I served these ribs with plain white rice. Besides tasting the hoisin component, the ginger and garlic really stand out.

The sauce is equally good with chicken, pork, and even salmon.

The rib meat is so tender. Truly this technique is one of the best ways to prepare ribs inside, whether you’re using a marinade or a rub.

As a note, the hoisin in this marinade/sauce can be substituted with Gochujang to create a Korean-inspired version. It’s equally good!

Singapore Noodles

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My daughters recently met in Austin, Texas for a fun-filled extended weekend. They stayed an an adorable motel, and worked their way to bars and eateries in Austin for serious sister bonding.

For what was “probably one of the best meals ever,” was lunch at Elizabeth Street Cafe, which opened in South Austin in 2011. It’s a “little restaurant boasts sunny dining rooms and a shady garden patio and serves fresh breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as takeout.”

What’s interesting is that it’s a Vietnamese cafe and French bakery/boulangerie, so while you enjoy your ba´hn mi, you can order baguettes and macarons.

In anticipation of their mama’s upcoming birthday, my girls purchased the Elizabeth Street Cafe cookbook, and boy did I have trouble picking the first dish I’d make out of it. Except the macarons; I always leave those to the experts.

Finally I chose Singapore Noodles with shrimp and roasted pork, and it turns out that it was the first dish on the Elizabeth Street Cafe menu. It remains a best seller. The same noodles show up on their breakfast menu without the shrimp, but with sunny-side-up eggs on top.

I happened to have rice vermicelli noodles in my pantry. And they’re from Singapore!

Singapore Noodles with Gulf Shrimp and Roasted Pork

For the pork:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons annatto seeds
1 pound pork shoulder or butt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the curry slurry:
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

For the noodles:
1/2 pound rice vermicelli
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 large white onion
1 jalapeño, stemmed, thinly sliced
1 Fresno or other red chile, stemmed, thinly sliced
12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 eggs
2 large handfuls cilantro
6 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 large handful watercress
1 lime, cut into wedges
Sriracha, for serving

In a small pot set over low heat, warm the oil, add the annatto seeds, and cook, stirring twice, until the seeds are fragrant and sizzling and the oil is brick red, about 5 minutes. Strain the oil through a sieve into a small bowl and discard the seeds. Cool the oil to room temperature.


Season the pork all over with the sugar and salt. Put the pork in a large resealable plastic bag and pour in the annatto oil. Squeeze all the air out of the bag so the oil completely covers the pork. Refrigerate and let marinate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Set a roasting rack over a sheet pan. Put the pork on the rack and drizzle whatever oil remains in the bag over the pork.

Roast until the pork is browned and tender, about 2 1/2 hours, turning it halfway through roasting. Remove the pork from the oven and let cool to room temperature; then cut into large bite-size pieces – discarding any large pieces of fat – and reserve. Reserve the bright red fat in the sheet pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together the curry powder, turmeric, fish sauce, sriracha, and ginger with 1/4 cup water. Let sit for 1 hour at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Line a plate with a clean cotton dish towel. Put the noodles in a large bowl of hot tap water and soak until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer to the lined plate. Place a second clean cotton dish towel on top of the noodles, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

In a large wok set over high heat warm the oil until smoking. Then add the reserved pork and cook until the meat is crisp on one side, about 3 minutes.

Add the onion, jalapeño, and Fresno chile and cook, stirring until the vegetables pick up some color, about 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and cook until browned on both sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Add the reserved pork fat from the roasting pan and the noodles and stir rapidly to combine the ingredients in the pan. (If your pan is small, cook the noodles in 2 batches.)

Move the stir-fry to one side of the pan and crack the eggs into the pan, stirring with a wooden stpoon or chopsticks scramble the eggs and to incorporate them into the noodles.

Then stir the curry slurry and pour it over the noodles. Continue to stir and toss the noodles to evenly distribute the slurry. Stir in most of the cilantro and scallions and taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed.

Transfer the stir-fry to a serving platter, and place some of the shrimp on top of the noodles.

Top with the remaining cilantro and scallions and the watercress.

Serve immediately with the lime wedges and sriracha.

Oh my goodness, I could eat this dish every day. Probably for all three meals. I can’t really describe how good it is, but you can tell from the ingredient list.

The one thing I did differently was to roast the pork at a higher temperature for about 30 minutes. I think this was preferable to pork “baked” at only 350 degrees. Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!!!

Roasted Veg Vinaigrette

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Vinaigrettes are equally as important to me as their salad counterparts. With a proper choice of ingredients, one can really make a salad burst with flavor with a perfectly paired vinaigrette.

I’ve posted before on vinaigrettes made with reduced beet juice ( think salad of crunchy vegetables, lentils and goat cheese) and a vinaigrette made with a fresh pear (think baby greens with apples, bacon, and blue cheese).

I’ve posted on a vinaigrette made with strawberry vinegar, one made with pineapple juice, vinaigrettes with parsley or curry powder… the list is really endless because the possibilities are endless.

Recently I was inspired by a vinaigrette recipe made with roasted onion and shallot. And I got to thinking what I could add to that… because I can’t leave a recipe alone. This is one I created.

Beyond roasting the vegetables, which is left to your oven, the rest is easy!

Make a triple batch! You’ll love how versatile this is not only as a vinaigrette but as a marinade, or served with grilled leeks or asparagus.

Roasted Vegetable Vinaigrette

1 purple onion, peeled, quartered
1 red bell pepper, trimmed, de-seeded, cut into 8ths
6 shallots, peeled, halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil, divided
Salt
Pepper
Red wine vinegar
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Preheat the oven to a roast setting, or 400 degrees F.

Place the onion, red bell pepper, shallots and garlic cloves on a jelly roll pan or rimmed roasting sheet. Generously drizzle olive oil over the vegetables, about 1/4 cup. Season with salt and pepper.


Roast until vegetables show some caramelization and are tender. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool.

Place all of the vegetables and olive oil into a blender jar.

Blend until smooth, adding another 1/4 cup or so of olive oil.

Then add the red wine vinegar. I’m not offering amounts in this recipe, only because I like my vinaigrettes strongly vinegar-flavored. Most people I’ve cooked for do not.

If you want some zing, add some Tabasco sauce, taste away, and season more if necessary. I added more salt.

Make sure the vinaigrette is smooth. If you use cruets for your vinaigrettes, you are familiar with the problem with one little piece of garlic clogging the spout!

The salad I created to showcase this vinaigrette was simple. Butter lettuce, crab, avocado, green onions, and black sesame seeds.


It was a perfect pairing of tastes and textures.

I was lucky enough to have frozen crab legs left over from the holidays, so I used that crab. But grilled shrimp or scallops would also be divine.

Note: This recipe actually makes a fabulous dipping sauce if you omit the vinegar.

David Chang’s Short Ribs

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Soon after starting my blog, I discovered sous vide, and knew I had to own a machine. Because it was a big purchase, I asked for one as a Christmas present. I won’t complain about how many years it took for me to get one, because I now have one and use it constantly. Even more than I thought I would.

I especially love it for “inferior” cuts of beef like brisket, hanger and flank steaks. Often I sous vide pork loin and chicken breasts. I can cook all of these meats “properly,” but their sous vide counterparts can’t be beat with traditional methods in my opinion.

Which brings me to short ribs. For some reason, I’ve never thought to sous vide them. I think because I always enjoy the process of making short ribs, sometimes in a traditional way with red wine and herbs, other times with Southwestern adobo flavors. I’ve also used short ribs in a sauce for giant pasta, and in cheesy sandwiches with pickled onions. The rib meat has many uses.

Then I read Momofuku, by David Chang. Published in 2009, it tells the delightful story of David Chang, who at 27, opened his first restaurant, Momofuku.

As I read through the book, which covered recipes from each of his four restaurants, the three others being Ko, Momofuku Milk Bar, and Ssäm Bar, I realized these were recipes that I would not be making. However, the stories are hysterical, scary, on-the-edge-of-your seat crazy about life as a restaurant owner.

Then I came across his recipe for sous vide short ribs that really intrigued me.

From the book: “Low-temperature cooking affords cooks an accuracy and a measure of control over the oneness of meat that we have only dreamed about since humans first witnessed the marriage of meat and fire.”

When he first was exposed to sous vide cooking at a restaurant, David Chang originally thought that it was a “cop out,” a way to not really have to know how to cook a steak.

“Then, I grew up a little bit and came to realize that sous vide cooking is amazing magic. (Or at least it can be; all good techniques can be poorly used.)”

But I don’t think he realizes the sous vide options for the home cook.

In Momofuku he writes: “This recipe is not a reasonable proposition for the home cook unless you are willing to buy a vacuum-sealing machine and fabricate a water circulator situation. And even then, 48 hours is a world of time to cook something.”

This is a photo of my sous vide, which has gone up only a little in price over the years. I like it because it’s a smaller size; perfect for a small family.

Now, Mr. Chang is right in his opinion that you can’t just set your sous vide and leave town. I sometimes worry that my electricity will go out during sous vide’ing. I’m lucky it hasn’t. But maybe it’s the 9 years since his book was published, that sous vide has made it into home kitchens, thankfully.

So the only thing that I hesitated about following David Chang’s short rib recipe was his suggested accompaniments to the short ribs: dashi-braised daikon, pickled carrots, and pickled mustard seeds. Not the prospect of cooking meat for 48 hours.

David Chang’s Short Ribs

2 2/3 cups water
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons usukuchi (light soy sauce)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon pear juice
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon apple juice
2 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
10 grinds black pepper
1/2 small onion, 1/2 small carrot
3 scallions, whites only
2 garlic cloves
8 pieces bone-in short ribs, trimmed

Combine the water, soy, pear and apple juices, mirin, sesame oil, sugar, pepper, onion, carrot, scallions, and garlic in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat.


Reduce the heat so the liquid simmers gently and cook for 10 minutes.

Strain the solids out of the marinade and cool it in the refrigerator.

Combine each short rib with 1/2 cup marinade in a vacuum-sealable bag and seal it. Then seal the bagged rib in a second bag.

Set your sous vide to 140.2 degrees F. Add the bags of ribs and cook for 48 hours.

When the ribs are done, remove them from the water and plunge the bags into a large bowl of ice water. Refrigerate the bags.

Cut the ribs out of their bags over a mixing bowl to catch the braising liquid; set the ribs aside.

Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil over hi heat and reduce it until you have about 2 cups, no more than 10 minutes. Reserve.

Slide the bones out of the short ribs. Trim off any large, obvious pieces of fat, and trim the ribs into neat cubes or rectangles.

Prepare a skillet over high heat with a little grape seed oil. Sear the ribs on all sides, repeat batches.

When ready to serve, put a couple of tablespoons of the reduction in the center of the plate and top with the ribs.

Sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

Oh these ribs!


I knew the rib meat would be tender, but the flavors!!! You can taste every ingredient in the marinade.

And the liquid is fabulous. I actually strained it twice. I’ll be making these ribs again. Thanks David.

Chicken Shawarma

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After eyeing a beautiful, drool-worthy photo of lamb shawarma on a blog one day, shown below, I so wanted to make it, except for the fact that my husband won’t eat lamb.

So I searched the same blog, Recipe Tin Eats, for chicken shawarma and found a recipe I knew we’d both love.

It is Nagi’s recipe, who lives in Sydney, Australia, although she was born in Japan. I’ve enjoyed her blog for a few years now; her recipes are always fresh and innovative. Nagi also has the cutest dog, Dozer, who makes his appearance in every blog post.

Shawarma is Middle Eastern in origin, and refers to beef, lamb, chicken, or veal, grilled on a vertical spit that rotates.

If you’ve ever been to a döner kebob spot, you’re familiar with a close shawarma cousin. Similarly, the meat is sliced and placed on flatbread, sometimes offered with cucumber and tomato, or even hummus.

Except that shawarma is more about this lucious, spicy marinade that coats the raw meat and crusts up when the meat is grilled.

Why I never made any kind of shawarma at home before now is beyond me.

Chicken Shawarma
Slightly adapted from Recipe Tin Eats

2 pounds chicken thighs (I used breasts)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons smoky paprika
1 teaspoon ground cayenne
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon finely ground pepper

Slice the chicken into uniformly-thick pieces and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and stir well. Yes, I’ve never used a tablespoon of ground cardamom in a dish before either, but don’t hesitate. Use it!


Add the chicken and make sure all of the pieces are coated. Place the chicken and marinade in a large zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 1 or 2 days.

Ideally the chicken should be grilled outside on a barbecue, but on this day I used my indoor stove-top grill.

Bring the chicken to close to room temperature. Grill the chicken until just done; you don’t want the meat dry, especially if you’re also using chicken breasts.


To serve, set out the platter of grilled chicken, flatbreads, hummus, sliced tomatoes, and cucumbers.


You don’t have to add all of the “goodies,” but I do!

I made a parsley-laden tabbouleh, and also served a “salad” of tomatoes and cucumbers.

Nagi included a yogurt sauce on her same blog post for chicken shawarma, and I preferred it over the hummus.


Yogurt Sauce

1 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Squeeze of lemon
Salt
Pepper

Whisk together the yogurt with the garlic, cumin, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper, and serve at room temperature.


I even made a quick pickled radish condiment for the shawarma, but it wasn’t really necessary.

For this feast, I had to share with friends, so I served all of the dishes buffet-style, and friends created their own shawarma. It’s so similar to serving fajitas!

Everyone had a good time. I served a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir which went perfectly with the chicken and other Middle Eastern flavors.

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

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I’ve rarely made the same dish twice since I began cooking. Thus my motto: “so much food, so little time!” I truly live by this only because there is always something new to make, or variations to try. It’s just fun for me to cook and eat that way.

My husband really enjoys it, I think, because he grew up with the Monday night meal, the Tuesday night meal, and so forth. Seven meals, exactly the same, every week. Not fun.

There are a few dishes that my kids request when they visit home. One loves my black bean enchiladas, the other loves my salads with salmon, but even these are never the same because I don’t follow recipes. But one thing both of them enjoy and request often during the warm months, is this cilantro garlic shrimp.

In this shrimp appetizer, cilantro adds a wonderful freshness, and pairs so well with fresh garlic. So this shrimp is wonderful in the spring and summer, for any kind of get-together.

Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

Cooked shrimp, tail or no tail, preferably poached
Olive oil, about 1 cup
Fresh garlic, 5-6 cloves if you want a sharp flavor
Fresh cilantro, a whole bunch
Salt

Spread out the cooked shrimp on paper towels to dry if necessary, then place in a bowl and keep refrigerated.

To prepare the marinade, pour the olive oil into a blender jar. Add a generous amount garlic cloves, fresh cilantro, stems and all, and a little salt.


Blend until smooth, then pour over the shrimp and toss. Don’t overdo it – you just want the shrimp coated, but not drowning in the marinade. If you have any left over, keep it for chicken. It’s fabulous!
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This shrimp can be made the day before, and kept refrigerated, but take it out of the refrigerator at least an hour before serving, so the olive oil doesn’t remain coagulated.
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If you like the addition of lemon juice in this cilantro and garlic mixture, do not let the shrimp sit for long. In fact, serve as soon as possible. The lemon juice will cook and mush up the shrimp.

note: You could marinate cleaned, raw shrimp in this cilantro-garlic mixture, and then grill them, but it’s never quite the same. Some liquid always leaks out of the shrimp and they can’t be grilled properly. So that’s why I use pre-cooked shrimp. That way you’ve got perfectly cooked shrimp, coated with the lovely “marinade.”

Asian Glaze

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For the past few years I’ve been noticing more and more products like barbeque sauces, marinades, finishing sauces, and the like being sold at supermarkets and gourmet food stores. I’m sure that some are good, but being someone who must make everything from scratch (I can’t help myself) I tend to turn up my nose at these usually overpriced products.

Let’s all agree that anything made at home will always be better and less expensive than purchasing it pre-made. And then when you make it in your own kitchen, you don’t typically add food color, additives, preservatives, thickeners, and other such chemicals.

So some of these products are Asian. But the thing is, it is so darn easy to make your own, with just a few basic Asian ingredients. You can also adjust the ingredients to make the liquid more Thai, more Vietnamese, more Chinese, etc., depending on what you’re after.

I would definitely use the following recipe as a marinade, or to toss some into a stir fry. But because I’m cooking these ingredients a bit, thickening them slightly, I’m calling this a glaze. It can be applied to any grilled meats and fish, or even to vegetables for instant Asian flavor. Here’s what I did.

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Asian Glaze

Shallots, about 6 ounces after trimming and peeling
1 tablespoon peanut or other oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce*
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 lime

Begin by finely chopping the shallots. At the end of this sauce you have the option to puree it, so don’t worry about the uniformity of the chopping if you’re going to be pureeing the glaze.


Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a small pot. Heat it over low heat, and saute the shallots for about 5 minutes.
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Add the soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, and honey to the shallots. Give everything a good stir

Then add the ginger, garlic, and about 1/3 cup of water.
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Stir well, then let simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes. It depends how you want the consistency of the glaze.

Add the cayenne and squeeze in the lime juice, then remove the glaze from the heat.


Use the glaze while still warm.

I typically cook fish in butter, but butter isn’t very Asian, so I used a little olive oil to pan fry the Swai, and sprinkled it simply with salt and pepper.
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If you don’t like the chopped bits, you can place the glaze in a blender and blend until smooth. It will make the glaze thicker as well.
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If you want, top everything with sesame seeds, pine nuts, or some cilantro!

* If you don’t have sweet soy sauce, use an extra tablespoon on honey.

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Other possible Asian ingredients:
Mirin
Rice wine vinegar
Fish Sauce
Chile Paste
Black bean paste
Hoisin Sauce
Oyster Sauce
Miso
Shrimp Paste
Curry Paste
Sesame Oil

Herbed Pork Kabobs

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When I started my blog, my main goal was to be inspirational to those who are new at cooking, or fearful about cooking. This wasn’t a new thing for me – I’ve always promoted cooking at home. For one thing, it will always be less expensive, and also the healthier alternative to eating out.

So on my blog, there are no really difficult recipes. In fact, my recipes are often more like guidelines to preparing food. Because home cooking isn’t rocket science. Cooking is very much about common sense, and it’s easy to taper any recipe to your own tastes.

But I happen to love kitchen ware and kitchen gadgets. I’m obsessed with them. Fortunately you can prepare good food without owning all of this “stuff.” I just happen to collect it. It’s like a disease. I finally bought a deep fryer last year, and still haven’t used it.

Finally, after begging for a long while, my family honored my Christmas wish for a sous vide machine a couple of years ago. I studied them for so long, and was sure that I wanted one and would indeed use one often. And I was right.

So I have mixed feelings when I post recipes for which I’ve used my sous vide, because it is a high dollar machine, and not typically in novice cooks’ kitchens. But I wish they were. These machines do magic work.

My briskets and flank steaks will never be tough or chewy. Chicken breasts? Always moist and tender. And then there’s pork loin. Fabulous.

So here’s another recipe that includes a sous vide step. I apologize if you don’t own one. But, I encourage you to look into one. I own the “demi,” which is a smaller version, and much less expensive than the commercial-sized machine. And it still holds a lot of meat.

With a sous vide, meat gets cooked in water of a specific temperature, for a specific amount of time, in vacuum bags. You have a choice to marinate the meat first, then sous vide. (Notice sous vide is a noun and a verb!) Or, sous vide first, then marinate. The last step requires browning the meat, to color it and add some flavor. Otherwise the meat looks like it was just boiled.

For today’s kabobs, I used a fresh herb mixture for the pork’s marinade, which you can alter to taste.

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Herbed Pork Kabobs

Pork loin, not tenderloin
Olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic
Parsley
Oregano
Thyme
Rosemary
Bay leaves
Salt
Pepper

Sous vide the vaccum-sealed chunk of pork loin for 6 hours at 140 degrees Farenheit. I used half of a pork loin, and it was cut into two pieces. But not for any important reason other than the size the the bags I had available after I’d cut up the huge pork loin.

Immediately refrigerate the pork until it’s fully chilled.
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The next day, remove the pork from the bags, trim any fat, and wipe off any excess liquid.
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Then chop up the pork into kabob pieces that are uniform in size.

Make the marinade in a large bowl by simply adding enough olive oil to the bowl as needed to cover the pork pieces. Mince garlic and add to the oil.
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Then chop up all of the fresh herbs you’re using and add them to the marinade. Add a little salt, and pepper to taste.


Stir well, then add the pork. Stir well to make sure the pork pieces are completely covered with the marinade.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 days.

On the day you’re serving the pork kabobs, get the bowl from the refrigerator to let the meat lose its chill at room temperature.

Skewer the pork pieces.
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Heat an outside grill, if that’s what you’re using. I used my electric grill. Only a little browning of the pork is necessary, so it wasn’t worth doing the charcoal process. Alternatively, you could use a grill on your stove.

For browning purposes, the grill must be on high.

Place the skewers on the grill, and rotate them until they pork is browned on all sides.

If the pork is still cool in the middle, you will need a warm oven or a warming drawer to heat them properly. This will not counteract the lovely work of the sous vide. But it’s easier to make sure that the pork is at room temperature before browning. Some people are just pickier when it’s pork. It’s your personal choice.


Just about any green vegetable can be paired with this lovely garlic and herb flavored pork. I happened to use fresh zucchini from the garden.

note: Just a tip – unless you’re planning on marinating pork for just a couple of hours, no acid, like vinegar or lemon juice, should be included. It will break down the meat too much.

Chimichurri

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I’ve made chimichurri a few times over the years when I’ve prepared South American*-inspired meals for company. For one meal, I grilled skirt steaks and served both green and red chimichurri sauces. I preferred the green.

But other than that I haven’t paid much attention to chimichurri, which originated in Argentina. I only see it associated with meat, which is so quintessentially South American. Grilled meat. Lots of meat.

I decided to make chimichurri again and really focus on its goodness and, of course, I decided to use it on steaks. I don’t want to rock the South American boat here.

So what exactly is chimichurri? It’s basically like an oil and vinegar mixture that includes chopped green herbs and garlic.

So I’m not being very creative here using chimichurri, but it doesn’t really matter. Once you’ve made it, you don’t care if you ever have it any other way other than schmeared on a steak. It’s that good.

But I can definitely see it on shrimp as well. Or poultry. Or toast. For breakfast.

Chimichurri

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Few grindings black pepper

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Combine all of these in a small bowl, then add:

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

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Then stir in:

1/2 chopped parsley, loosely packed
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, loosely packed

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Mix everything together well.

Today I wanted to use the chimichurri for a marinade as well as a “finishing” sauce so to speak, so I placed two filets on a plate, and covered them with a generous amount of chimichurri.

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After about 30 minutes, I turned the steaks over and added more chimichurri.

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Before cooking the steaks, I wiped off the chimichurri sauce. The tops and bottoms of the steaks were oily, so I didn’t have to pat them dry. But I did add a little oil to the skillet first before searing the steaks.

After cooking to medium rare and letting them rest, I sliced the steaks, and placed them on a bed of sauteed spinach with tomatoes and onions.
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Then I drizzled some of the chimichurri sauce over the steaks.
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The freshness of the chimichurri sauce, from the cilantro and parsley, plus the garlic, is a perfect foil against the mellow, sweet steak. It’s a marriage made in food heaven!
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* I know, South American inspiration for a meal is a bit all-consuming since it’s a continent, but there are aspects to South America that stand out from a culinary perspective. And those typically are more Argentinian and Brazilian in origin. The meals revolve around meat, but there are also beans and grains and lots of green. If you’ve never delved into the cuisines of South america, I suggest you look into them. I’ve just barely broken the surface…

note: This recipe is perfect to me. I love the addition of the dried oregano and crushed red pepper. If you want a thicker sauce, whether for use as a marinade or for serving, purée it. I know that goes against the tradition of the fresh herbs and garlic in the oil and vinegar mixture, but then at least the parsley and cilantro leaves don’t get stuck in your teeth. I think it’s a reasonable option. You can also cut back on the volume of vinegar as well. It’s personal choice, as long as you don’t change what the chimichurri is all about.

Surf and Turf

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My surf and turf was inspired by a recipe in one of my latest cookbooks entitled Barbecue, by Stéphane Reynaud.. (Info in this post.)

It’s skewered beef and shrimp in a very interesting marinade. At least, it is very unique to me. The photo in his cookbook came out much better than what my skewers look like, but then, he probably had a food stylist! But it’s this photo that intrigued me about the recipe in the first place. In fact, it’s the first recipe I’m using from his book.

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I made three times as much marinade as his recipe called for, because I felt it was necessary. And I also had to make a substitution because I don’t know what “meat extract” is. His “note” claims that Bovril is a good meal extract. What? It sounds interesting, but I’ve never come across it before. So I used demi-glace.

So I’ll never really know what his actual kabobs tasted like, but I can assure you that these, using “my” recipe, came out fabulous. Read ahead and check out this marinade. It’s very interesting!

Surf and Turf

1 pound beef tenderloin or flank or skirt steak*
1 pound shrimp
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons ketchup, yep, that’s right**
1 teaspoon beef demi glace
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Coarsely ground pepper

Slice your beef of choice into approximately 1″ pieces only about 1/4″ thin. Then slice the shrimp in half lengthwise. Place both proteins in a medium bowl.
To make the marinade, combine the olive oil, ketchup, demi glace and garlic in a small blender.
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Blend until fairly smooth, then pour over the meat and shrimp. It becomes very orange after blending.
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Toss together gently until evenly distributed, then cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
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The next day, make your skewers by alternating the slices of beef and chicken. Then let them come to room temperature or close to it.
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I love the fresh garlic in this marinade.

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Start your grill of choice. I’m using the electric one because the cooking time is so short. I cooked each kabob about 2 minutes on each of four “sides” at 400 degrees.
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Then I turned off the heat, put the cover on, and let them cook for another 2 minutes. They really smelled good while they were grilling!
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After a little rest, I served the surf and turf with some sautéed greens and steamed corn on the cob. Delicious.

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* I used beef tenderloin because I had an odd-shaped end left over. But flank or skirt steak would both work well because there’s very little cooking involved. You want the meat to take as long (or as little) time to cook as the shrimp.

** Even though I’ve been making my own ketchup, I used commercial ketchup to more closely mimic the author’s recipe.

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verdict: I will definitely use ketchup in more marinades!!! You can’t really tell it’s ketchup, but it probably adds some salt and sugar, as well as tomatoey goodness to the sauce.