Sunday, May 24, 2020

THE MEATWAVE - Part II

After being tantalized by The Meatwave, I made their delicious recipe for Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers. Yum! However, while my poblanos cooked over indirect heat (not over the coals), I didn't want to waste the direct side (over the coals) of my grill, so I tried their recipe for "Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp." Apparently this recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Houston, Texas, and being a native Texan myself, I had to try it!

The shrimp are seasoned with a simple dry rub, slit open, filled with a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese and slice of jalapeno pepper, then held together with a slice of bacon! The shrimp are then threaded onto skewers, brushed with melted butter, and grilled to perfection! Could anything sound better? They turned out beautifully with a nice balance of heat and baconess. My only comment is that the recipe calls for 2 pounds of large shrimp to serve 4-6. I used 1 pound of medium shrimp, keeping the other ingredients as written and found that not only did it take me almost an hour to stuff and wrap the shrimp, it made enough to feed an army! So, keep that in mind when purchasing your shrimp. (It was not a problem...my husband was more than happy to down more than his fair share!) These shrimp were so fantastic and would be perfect at any barbecue! And finally, a nice cooling Retro Wedge Salad makes a nice accompaniment!


Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the dry rub
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the shrimp
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled with tale on, deveined, and rinsed
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thin strips (I recommend cutting as you go...)
3 jalapenos, halved, seeded, and cut into thin slices (I recommend cutting as you go...)
1 pound bacon strips, halved (I recommend using thin cut bacon and I cut them into thirds because I used smaller shrimp, see above)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 lime, quartered

Directions:
In a small bowl mix together garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Place shrimp in a large bowl and season with 3/4 of the spice mixture, tossing to evenly coat.

Working with one shrimp at a time, make a slit about 3/4-inch long at the base of the shrimp. Place one jalapeno slice and one cheese slice in cut slit, then wrap base of shrimp all the way around with half a slice of bacon. Repeat with rest of shrimp.


Thread shrimp onto skewers (I recommend threaded through just above the tail then through the body to help stabilize the shrimp onto the skewers) and season lightly with remaining spice mixture. Brush shrimp lightly with melted butter.

(I grilled them in batches,
because I only had half the grill available.)

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill shrimp over high heat until bacon crisps and shrimp just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and serve with lime wedges.

THE MEATWAVE - Part I

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon The Meatwave, a blog completely dedicated to barbecue and grilling. I was immediately impressed with the fine photography (I need a better camera!), tantalizing bbq and grilling recipes, and the many humorous puns all focused on meat! Ha! Ha! However, I'm not naive, a lot of food blogs are loaded with recipes that are ho-hum and with incompetent directions that clearly indicate that the writer didn't even try the recipe! Annoying! But having been lured by The Meatwave, I fired up my grill and gave a few recipes a try, starting with "Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers."

This recipe caught my eye because I love poblanos and happened to have Mexican crema and cotija cheese lingering in my fridge. Perfect! I followed the recipe exactly and when the aroma of simmering chorizo, onions, and garlic hit me, I knew this was going to be great! Not only did these savory poblanos look fantastic, they tasted even better! A nice cooling Retro Wedge Salad makes a nice accompaniment!


Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2/3 pound raw Mexican chorizo, removed from casings
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in onion and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in chorizo, breaking sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Add rice, tomatoes, crema, cilantro, and cotija cheese to bowl with meat mixture and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon mixture into cavities of split poblanos and top with pepper jack cheese.


Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. (I didn't oil it and it was just fine!) Place poblanos on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until cheese has melted and poblanos have softened, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from grill and serve.

***You may also be interested in Bacon-wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Schhh...it's really schnitzel...

Chicken Paillard may sound fancy, but it's really just schnitzel. The word "schnitzel" comes from the word "der Schnitz" meaning a slice or cut, and is a boneless piece of meat, hammered thinly, breaded and fried, and dates all the way back to the Romans, around the 1st century BC. In the Middle Ages, it became very popular in Northern Italy (Cotoletta alla Milanese), and Austria (Weiner Schnitzel), and made of veal. In fact, in Austria, "Weiner Schnitzel" is required BY LAW to be made of veal. However it came to be, it is a perfect way to cook a thin piece of meat quickly without drying it out, and is popular all around the globe. In Australia it is known as "Schnitty" or "Schnitter," in Iran it is called "Shenitsel," in Japan it is called "Tankatsu," in Latin America it is known as "Milanesa," and even in Texas, it was transformed into "Chicken Fried Steak." Traditionally, it is served simply with a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top. It is so versatile, with any cut of meat or fish, I think everyone should know this classic technique.

This recipe for "Chicken Paillard with Salad Greens and Creamy Parmesan Dressing," was inspired by Tyler Florence, from his book, Tyler Florence Family Meal. I love making this because everyone in my family LOVES it!!! After all, it's just about the only way to make a boneless, skinless chicken breast taste great! It is a complete meal on one plate! Add a glass of wine, and it is simply sensational!


Chicken Paillard with Salad Greens and Creamy Parmesan Dressing

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the paillard
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, or more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or more if needed
Canola oil, for frying

For the dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4-1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the salad
4 good handfuls of mixed salad greens or arugula
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 ounces bocconcini (fresh mozzarella balls), halved, or pearl mozzarella

Fresh lemon wedges, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, for garnish

Directions:

For the dressing
Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar, cover and chill.

For the paillard
Place one chicken breast on a cutting board. With a sharp knife, make a slice down the center, but not all the way through.


Make another slice on each side, but not all the way through, to make it "open." (This makes it easier to pound out evenly.)


Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and pound with a meat mallet or rolling pin, until a uniform thickness of about 1/2-inch thickness. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.


Prepare the Panko breading by setting up a breading station. Place flour on a plate, beaten eggs in a shallow bowl, and then the Panko on another plate or shallow bowl. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Now dredge each breast first in the flour, then the egg, and then the Panko, shaking off any excess after each step. Place the breaded chicken on a cookie sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 10-20 minutes. (This ensures that the breading will not fall off when cooking.)


In a large skillet, (I like non-stick), heat about 1/4 inch or so of the oil to about 350 degrees over medium to medium/high heat until the oil looks shimmery. I actually don't check the temperature. Instead, I drop a small piece of bread (usually taken from the end of a loaf) to see if it starts to bubble around the bread. Cook the chicken about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate, tray, or cookie sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts. You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

To serve
Mix together the salad greens, tomatoes, and mozzarella in a large bowl. Add as much dressing as you like, and toss well. (Refrigerate any remaining dressing for another use.) Plate each paillard on individual plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with a good handful of the salad. Garnish with a lemon wedge to be squeezed at the table. Pop open the wine and serve!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Carne de Cerdo!

I know I promised I would teach you how to make "Carnitas," and today is your lucky day! Carnitas, or "little meats," consists of chunks of meat (usually pork) that are slowly simmered until crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. They make fantastic tacos! Serve them with corn or flour tortillas, Salsa MexicanaGuacamole or Guacamole Taquero, and some crema or sour cream drizzled on top! They are truly heavenly and perfect for Cinco de Mayo! Classic fiesta food! Refried beans and/or rice make nice accompaniments. Don't forget a nice cold cerveza or La Margarita Original to wash it all down!


Pork Carnitas

Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 pound boneless pork shoulder or country-style ribs
6 cloves of garlic, halved
Zest of 1 orange, cut into strips
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano, rolled in the palms of your hands (if you can't find Mexican oregano, just omit it, do not add Italian oregano as it does not taste the same)
Sea salt
1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil, if needed
12, 6-8" corn or flour tortillas, warmed


Directions:

Cut off any big pieces of fat from the pork and put them into a wide, heavy saucepan (like cast iron) or frying pan. Cut the pork into 1 1/2" cubes. Add the pork to the pan with the garlic, orange zest, and 2 teaspoons sea salt. Try to keep the meat in a single layer, if possible.


Next, add the orange juice and pour in enough water to barely cover the meat. Add the oregano, if using.


Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook until the meat is fork tender, about 1 1/2 hours. At this point, you can remove the orange peel, if you like, but it will disintegrate if left in. 


Uncover the pan, raise the heat and continue cooking the pork, stirring occasionally, until all the fat is rendered and the meat is browning in the melted fat, about 15-30 minutes or so. (The time to allow the meat to become crispy depends on the size of the pan used and how much water is added. Just be patient. It's worth the wait!) There is usually enough melted fat in the pan, but if necessary, add 1 tablespoon oil. (I've never had to add oil.) When the meat is brown and crisp, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a colander and let any excess fat drain away. (If there are any pieces of fat left, remove them, no one wants to eat that!)

Immediately transfer the pork to a warmed serving bowl. Serve with the salsa, guacamole, crema, and tortillas to let your guests make their own. Muy Bueno!