Southern Alabama Specialties

Recipes and folklore from the Gulf Coast. Like this favorte recipe, Garlic Shrimp Linguine, gets a nod from Creole cookery and blends new and old world flavors in making one fine dinner.

Grilling Year-round on the Gulf Coast

Life is good on the Gulf Coast as you'll find folks grilling and barbecuing all types of fine foods. Burgers, dogs, steaks, wings, ribs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, gator, heck ... if it lives around here, we eat it!

Cake Making in the South

A real classic ~ Lemon Pound Cake with Citrus Glaze.

Sunday Dinners are Sacred in the South

An establishment in these parts, sitting down at the dinner table for a family meal is a way of life for many of us. It is quality time well spent sharing our blessings. Enjoy our recipes.

Gulf Coast Seafood Recipes

Platters like this are often on tables around Mobile Bay especially when there is a Jubilee. A Jubilee only occurs in Mobile Bay - find mouth-watering recipes under the Fish and Seafood categories.

September 28, 2012

Old-Fashion 2-Meat Chili

Spice up your Bowl with Goodness

So, what makes this old-fashion you ask?  Mainly it's the way I was taught to make chili, Alabama style. No box mix or spice package, this one is made just the way many kitchens did with simple ingredients found in most cupboards, crisper drawers and meat compartments.

Chili is such an ideal food for casual entertaining, football watching and extra good during the winter months. Served steaming hot, it will put a big ol' smile on a frosty face, warm the tummies on cool nights and perk up those with Autumn doldrums.

Old-Fashion Chili
Gooder than good ... actually, damn gooder!
about 12 servings

1/2 pound dried pinto beans or 2 -15.5 oz cans rinsed and drained
2 pounds lean ground beef (from the shoulder area is fine)
1 pound lean ground pork or venison (pork loin is pretty cheap with little fat)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
2 garlic toes, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 to 6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf
1 -10.5 oz can condensed beef broth (Campbell's)
water or tomato juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 -28 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 -6 oz can tomato paste

Soak overnight the beans or use can ones if you are in a really big hurry. Drain and rinse either way; put aside.

In a Dutch oven of medium stockpot, brown both meats. Ya might have to add a little oil if you meats are really lean. Drain meat into a bowl and wipe out any oil.

Add the oil to the pot over medium high heat and saute the onion and bell pepper until the onion goes limp. Toss in the garlic and give it a stir. Add the cumin, chili powder, flour, paprika, black pepper, sugar, oregano, vinegar, cayenne and stir to coat all the vegetables. Add the bay leaf, the can of beef broth, enough tomato juice or water to thin the consistency and the parsley. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer; fold in the meat and beans. Return mixture to simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally.

Make sure the beans are as tender as you like them before adding any tomato product. If tender, add the tomatoes along with the paste. Stir and add just enough water to your liking. Allow chili to come to a simmer and cook another 30 minutes.

Serve with a simple pico de gallo, cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired. Cornbread sticks are very appreciated.

September 25, 2012

Fluffy Potato Casserole

sort of Soufflé,
mainly Casserole...
one great side dish

Now I have made a rendition of this recipe many ways, the best with the proper beating in of egg yolks into the potato batter after which, frothy egg whites are folded into the same batter and which later, when cooked, the whole shebang blows-up, as it should. That is the essence of souffler, the French word loosely meaning to blow-up and the term where soufflé comes. All in all, any way you cook a vegetable soufflé is pretty darn good but when I can skip a step or two, in this case, the beating of the egg whites, heck, I'm all for it. Okay, just so you know, we got to eating and I forgot all about taking a photo. The picture you see was taken the next day, stone cold, right from the fridge. It kinda lost a little of the stouffler effect.

Not too many times do I hear complaints when I serve potatoes, no matter what form or whatever I call it. This creamy blend of potatoes with cheese stands up mighty proud at any occasion, the crunchy topping makes it extra special. It might not be a real soufflé, but it sho' is good.


Fluffy Potato Casserole
8 to 10 servings

3 pounds yellow potatoes
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
1 -8 oz package cream cheese, softened
3 green scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup (about 1 strip) diced cooked bacon
1/2 cup (3 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
au gratin topping of crushed croutons or fried onion rings

Peel and cut potatoes into 2-inch cubes. Boil in lightly salted water until fork tender. Drain well.

Beat whipping cream, eggs and flour at medium speed in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add potatoes, butter, salt, pepper and cream cheese. Beat until smooth. Fold in by hand the scallions, bacon and cheese.

Scrape mixture into a 2-quart casserole and bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven for about 25 minutes or until it souffles. Add the crushed croutons (mixed with a little melted butter) or the French fried onion rings. Return to oven until au gratin browns, about another 10 minutes.

September 22, 2012

Crab and Shrimp Stuffed Jalapeños

Seafood stuffing is perfect for jalapeños

There are so many ways to stuff jalapeños, heck, I suspect thousands. All kinds of names for them too from Texan Armadillo Eggs to Cajun Firecrackers, After Burn Tomorrows to Deviled Scotch Eggs, even one called Chicken Cordon Blowout. And jalapeños are filled with everything imaginable; Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Mascarpone, Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack to mention a few cheeses. Choose your meat and it's been poked in a pepper as well, pork, chicken, beef, fish, shellfish and other critters. Yes, every flavor I suspect known to mankind has shared camaraderie with the jalapeño. Now, why is that?

What makes a jalapeño so darn envious of other foodstuff that every thing on earth feels the need to want to jump right in? I dunno but I do know most everything I have ever put in there myself is rewarding whether grilled, fried or baked. Wrapped in bacon, battered up or left naked as a jaybird, it's all good to me.

This past week, as soon as we got back from our trip, I had a hankering for seafood. So I went down to my favorite shrimp and fish house (oyster too) and loaded up on enough to get us through an afternoon of our favorites. Two being stuffed jumbo shrimp and these jalapeños made with an old fashion way of making a dressing (very little breading at all) of lump crab meat blended with creole goodness.

I use the same recipe - Crab Stuffing for Shrimp, Flounder etc. - as I do when I stuff jumbo shrimp, flounder, lobster or even when I make deviled crabs and boulettes. I sometimes add tiny salad shrimp to the crab and veggie mix in stuffing jalapeños. It makes for one fine taste.

Hope you try these little delights as they are some kind of good - enjoy!

You can find the recipe here. Add about a cup of cooked salad size shrimp to the mix if desired.

Mound crab dressing into jalapeños halves and roll in the cracker/panko mixture.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F. oven until tops are slightly brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce or try one on mine; Creole Seafood Sauce, Louis SauceCreole Rémoulade Sauce or Horseradish Sauce.

September 21, 2012

Panéed Flounder with Shrimp, Crabclaws and Vegetables

Jubilee feast!

Mobile Bay is fed from rivers, creeks and estuaries of our delta which is the second largest in the United States; our boarding neighbor Mississippi boasts the largest. From this bay, multitudes of fresh water fish as well as salt water seafood and shellfish are harvested daily. The recipe today is a prime example of bounty that comes from our beloved bay.

Now, a few terms used in today's recipe:

Panéed cooking is a southern term meaning to quickly pan fry breaded meats in hot oil or butter. The favorite meats being thin pieces of veal or chicken which are dusted in flour, breadcrumbs or a mixture of both. The meat is then removed and most often served with an accompanying sauce. That lies the difference in a meunière style of cooking.

Meunière is a French technique in which meats are breaded in flour and sautéed in normally a clarified butter. The name Meunière is also used for the sauce version similar to a brown butter sauce and most always includes lemon and capers. The meats are returned to the pan and coated in the sauce to meld together.

Both Panéed and Meunière styles of cooking meats will create a softer crust or skin than deep-frying. Both are heavily used in the Creole kitchen.

Southern style Bordelaise is basically a warm beurre blanc butter sauce made heavily with a white wine reduction and with garlic, green onions, shallots and parsley. Like the Creole Monter au Beurre, cold butter is whisked into my version at the end creating a very loose yet velvety texture riding with the rich flavor of the wine sauce. Good for mopping up with crusty French bread.

This recipe is actually two dishes but is served together on the same plate along side a bed of rice and a vegetable of choice.


Panéed Flounder with Garlic Seafood Medley
in a delightful Bordelaise style sauce
4 servings

First, lets get three key steps out of the way: having the clarified butter ready and making the reduction for the garlic-wine sauce along with prepping the vegetables will speed the recipe along.

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

To make the clarified butter - Heat a skillet over low heat and melt butter. Cook until all bubbling action stops and skim the foam from the top. Pour away the clear butter at the top from the solid part left at the bottom of the pan which will be just a little bit. The clear butter is the clarified butter needed for this dish.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic toes, peeled and smashed
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 cup sherry or white port wine
2 bay leaves
2 cups chicken stock

For the reduction sauce, in a medium sauce pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium and stir until onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the two wines and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Cook until liquid reduces to about 2 tablespoons, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock and boil until liquid reduces to about 2/3 cup, about 30 minutes. Pour sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl pressing on the solids to release all viable liquid. Set aside sauce and discard solids.

White the butter is melting, prep the vegetables for the reduction sauce. To save time, prep the vegetables for sauteing and for the bordelaise while reducing the sauce.

4 flounder fillets, about 1/4 pound each (use grouper, snapper, tilapia or any white fish)
1/2 cup of clarified butter
salt, black pepper to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour

Heat the clarified butter in a large skillet on moderate heat to about 300 degrees. While the butter is heating, season the fish lightly with salt and pepper. Dredge the fish in the flour and shake off any excess. When butter is hot, add 2 of the fillets in the pan making sure there is good flesh to surface contact. Do not overcrowd the fish. Cook until nice and brown, no more than about 8 minutes total. Test the fish for doneness by inserting a paring knife into the thickest part about halfway into the flesh. Tilt the knife to one side to check the meat which should be flaky white yet moist if done. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Continue cooking remaining fillets. Place fillets uncovered in a warming drawer or a low oven to store until serving time.

Note: Soak the fish in milk for about an hour if desired. Soaking fish fillets in milk will certainly sweeten the flavor, but most of the time we do it to help form a good crust on the surface.

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 pound extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup small artichokes, halved

Add the oil to the skillet and when hot add the mushrooms. Saute until brown on both sides and liquid is reduced from the pan. Add bell pepper and cook until about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, dry the shrimp completely and lightly season with salt and pepper. Add shrimp to the skillet making sure shrimp comes in contact with the surface of the skillet, move the mushrooms and peppers around as needed. Increase the heat if needed to quickly cook the shrimp. Saute about 1 minute on each side or until bright pink. The flesh should be opaque throughout. Remove to a large bowl and keep warm in the same area with the fish.

remaining clarified butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot
6 garlic toes, minced
1 pound crabclaws (some folks call these fingers)
2 teaspoon unsalted Creole seasoning
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
reduction sauce from above
1/4 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
4 green onions, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into equal parts

Wipe out the skillet. Add remaining clarified butter and return over medium high heat. Add the shallots, minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crab claws and sprinkle with the Creole seasoning. Toss and shake the claws around in the pan to cook evenly for about 2 minutes. Add the reduction sauce and lemon juice. Bring to a simmering boil reducing heat to low just as it starts to boil. Toss claws to meld ingredients together. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the sauce is slightly velvety in appearance. Remove from heat and with a skimmer, strain claws into the bowl with the shrimp and vegetables. Whisk the cold butter into the pan 1 tablespoon at a time until thickens a bit.

To serve: Plate the fish fillet on one side followed with spooning the shrimp, crabclaws and vegetable medley on the other. Sprinkle the green onions on top of the shrimp and claws. Top with the Bordelaise sauce. Serve with hot, crusty French bread to mop up the glorious sauce.

Pairs well with any rice dish and a steamed vegetable like asparagus. Broccoli would be great too.

September 18, 2012

Jumbo Lump Crabcakes

Devilish Delicious

Many folks associate deviled foods with traits of spice, richness and tempting indulgence of gormandizing. While not spiced as in overly seasoned, these crabcakes are purposely blending with luring ingredients that indeed warrants a feel of richness and epicurean luxury. Each ingredient adds depth in a balancing way to make the crab meat shine and come to the forefront of taste - that is the reason of making a crabcake, is it not?

To me, a crabcake should be, well all about the crab meat. Notice in this recipe there is a scant one-quarter cup of breadcrumbs, large Panko at that, for the entire 1-pound of crab meat. Everything else, the vegetable 'fillers' and Creole essence, are added in creating that deviled, outright sinful savor of luscious crab.


Jumbo Lump Crabcakes
There are crabcakes, and then there are these devilish cakes. Recipe based on my experience at Mr. B's Bistro, NOLO
Makes 8 cakes

1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 medium green bell pepper, diced fine
1/3 cup whole mayonnaise
1/4 cup Panko
3 scallions, sliced thin
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/4 teaspoon Crystal hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Ravigote Sauce as accompaniment

In a large bowl combine bell peppers, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, scallions, lemon juice, hot sauce, and Creole seasoning.

Carefully fold in the lump crabmeat, being careful not to break up lumps. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to meld the flavors.

Using a round biscuit cutter (2 1/2 or 2  inches wide) or a small tuna can (with each end removed), fill cutter with mixture and form into cakes. Place on a baking sheet.

Chill cakes in the refrigerator, uncovered, 3 hour to help set the crabmeat.

Combine flour, salt, and pepper on a plate and using a thin spatula, move cakes one at a time into the plate of flour by pressing the cake into the mixture. Carefully turn each cake over to coat the other side. You can sprinkle with a few Panko on each side if desired.

In a large skillet (a griddle works best) melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add half of cakes and cook over moderate heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes each side. Cook the remaining cakes in the same manner. You can keep the cakes warm in a low oven for about 30 minutes.

Serve cakes with the Ravigote Sauce or a favorite aioli, seafood sauce or remoulade.

Note: I noticed the third time making these that the red and bell peppers contained much more moisture than the previous two times I served these. That is, after finely chopping, the peppers, an unusually large puddle of liquid formed on the cutting board. Fearing too much moisture in the cakes, I drained the peppers on paper towels just to be safe. 

September 14, 2012

Ravigote Sauce with Crab Cakes

A sauce to yelp about . . .

A finishing sauce can make or break the best prepared meal. Poorly seasoned or improperly executed, a sauce will destroy your best intention in a flash not to mention ruin your budgeted dollars and reputation. There are so many types of sauces. The one today is influenced from our French forefathers who knew a thing or two about a good sauce. There are basically two Ravigote sauces; a velouté type riding in white wine and vinegar, butter, cream, with mushrooms cooked in the liquor, usually served hot and the other is the one I am featuring today.

This ravigote is a classic sauce that is great to use when there is no liquid or stock from the cooked meats and normally is reserved for fish, shellfish and white meat.  Served slightly warm or cold, this lightly acidic and highly flavored sauce blends herbs and finely minced vegetables into a creamy dressing.

These photos are from Mr. B's Bistro in New Orleans where this boasting Ravigote sauce played right alongside to their amazing jumbo lump crab cakes. The crab cake recipe will follow later in the week, but first ya gotta make the sauce. One bite into the crab cake, with a hint of this sauce and you will know what I mean about a sauce worth letting out a little yelp.

Ravigote (ra-vee-gawt) Fr. 1820's derivative of ravigoter, to refresh, vigor, vigorous

Mr. B's Bistro (NOLO) on Royal near Canal, fine dining famous for Creole cuisine and known for fresh, local and regional fare, be sure to order their famous barbecued shrimp - clubby, relaxed and casual - the wait staff and chefs are very eager to address the cuisine and at times, will hand out a recipe or two...

Ravigote Sauce
Serve with all sorts of seafood - shrimp and crab, crawfish, fried oysters, crab cakes and white meats too.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/2 red bell pepper, diced fine
1/2 large Anaheim chile pepper or green bell pepper, diced fine
1 hard-boiled egg, pulverized
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 3/4 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
3/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (Tabasco)
kosher salt and white pepper to taste
1 teaspoon tiny capers

In a medium bowl whisk together lemon juice and dry mustard. Whisk in mayonnaise, bell pepper, chile, egg, parsley, horseradish, mustard, tarragon, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Lastly, fold in the capers.

NOTE: The first time I made this sauce, I cheated and used a small blender to chop the vegetables. DO NOT do this as it will pulverize the peppers too much.  Finely dice the vegetables by hand and as told, the eggs are actually pounded with a mallet.

The most amazing foods come from the kitchen of Mr. B's Bistro, NOLA

September 11, 2012

New Yellow Potatoes with Herb Butter

These gold gems
are simple pleasures.

Often we like small new red potatoes parboiled in a little chicken broth and finished off with a pan crusting of butter; we like the simplicity flavors of lemon and parsley with young potatoes. That cooking method is very little different from the preparation of my Buttery New Potatoes with Parsley but the flavor is the same and one I think is grand.

This recipe is similar but taste entirely different thanks to the herbs. The new yellow potatoes which have a golden flesh are used as opposed to the white of the new reds. And I think the taste of the potatoes are a little different too especially the klondikes, yellow finns and yukon golds. Buttery, a tad sweeter and maybe these are even a bit more creamier when cooked to perfection, just be careful and not overcook yellow new potatoes as they tend to fall apart, almost crumble. Fingerlings are also a great choice instead of new potatoes.

This recipe benefits immensely with the use of freshness as in 'new' potatoes and fresh herbs although many times fresh herbs are not available. Many times I use dehydrated parsley and herbs right at the end with good results. I mean, this is what great chefs in big city restaurants do everyday. I have watched master chefs here and in NOLA prepare entire meals using dried herbs and spices in creating very complex tastes. As told, it is all in knowing when to apply the herbs to the given dish. This recipe also relies on the great taste of a fine hot pepper sauce that brings out a most delectable lure of new potatoes.  Enjoy!

New Potatoes with Herb Butter
You can use yellow or reds potatoes and any or all of these herbs as you like
yields about 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, small in size, washed
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried chopped chives
1 tablespoon dried chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed chervil
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed tarragon
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed dill weed
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste

Remove a strip of peel from around each potato. This aids in not only cooking but also in the potato picking up the flavors of the herb butter.  Add potatoes to a medium saucepan and cover well with water. Remove potatoes and bring water to a boil. Add about a teaspoon of salt, stir to dissolve and add the potatoes to the boiling water. New potatoes should always go in boiling water as they will cook unevenly otherwise.

When potatoes are fork tender, drain away water and place potatoes into a serving bowl. Keep warm.

Over low heat, place butter in pan and swirl to melt. When fully melted add lemon juice, herbs and hot pepper sauce. Stir and turn off heat. Allow herb butter to rest for about 5 minutes. Pour butter over warm potatoes and serve or continue holding in a warm area until serving time.

Note: Remember the rule of substituting fresh with dried herbs is a 1 to 3 ratio.  So, in this recipe use this formula:  1 teaspoon dried herbs = 1 tablespoon fresh herbs

September 7, 2012

Chipotle Wing Sauce for Wings and Onion-Mustard Jam for Polish Sausage Sammies

Football Friday

Another great start to a weekend and I hope all are doing fine especially my friends along the Gulf Coast from nasty Issac (one that decided to make a loop and come back through on Thursday morn). Wishing everyone a blessed Friday and best of luck to your favorite college (and pro) football team.

Today's recipe is really simple. It's a Chipotle sauce to go with fajita seasoned chicken wings. Actually, you'll see two types of wings. The Tex-Mex fajita one and the other one is the favorite ol' standby soaked in Frank's hot buffalo sauce. And to go with the wings, I also have an Onion-Pepper-Mustard jam for polish sausage sammies. That and homemade fries (onion rings too) are about all I think are needed for a football fare afternoon.

Here's a quick run-down . . . Enjoy!

First, start with marinating your wings in a brine that will set up a correct surface to mass ratio which will keep the wings from drying out and pump in moisture while also adding a bit of flavor. To achieve this, a marinade must contain three essential ingredients. Acid, salt and water. Everything else is for flavoring. I keep it simple since the wings roast in seasoning and later combine with a sauce. This step is the same for drumsticks as well as whole chickens. The amount of ingredients varies with the amount of chicken being marinating. Also, the bigger the pieces, the longer the marinating time.

For these wings (about 30 sections), I used 2 cups water, 1/3 cup Kosher salt, 1/2 cup cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir all together until the granules dissolve and pour over the wings. I use a sealable bag positioned in a bowl. Refrigerate for an hour or two.

While the wings are marinating, make your Chipotle wing sauce. You can use canned chipotles in adobo sauce if you cannot find a good bottled chipotle hot sauce. This is one we got in a Mexican market (in Tennessee of all places) while visiting my sister and family.

In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup mayo, 1/4 cup sour cream and about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of a good chipotle hot sauce, depending on how hot. Whisk together and refrigerate until needed.

Next, remove from the marinade draining well and place on a pan sprayed with cooking oil. Actually, I would prefer to use a rack to keep the wings lifted from the juices, making them roast better, but I forgot.

Season as desired. I lightly salted 1/2 of of the wings and the other half I sprinkled with fajita seasoning, Badia brand I believe.

Place in a preheated 425 degree F. oven and cook until the wings become nice and brown turning over half-way. I cooked mine for about 25 minutes on each side but if using a rack, the time should be less.

Remove from the oven and place the fajita seasoned wings on a platter. Place the plain wings in a bowl and douse with your favorite wing sauce like Franks Hot Buffalo wing sauce. I don't think you can beat the original flavor.

Now, while these were cooking, I used the tips from the wings and boiled them down with a couple cups of water, a little seasoning salt to make a quick chicken broth. Or you can use any chicken broth. Strain out the wing tips and reduce the broth down to about 1/4-cup.  Dice about half an onion along with half a green bell pepper and add to the broth. Simmer until the liquid is cooked out. The veggies should be nice and mushy, if not, add more water and continue cooking down. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of a good grain mustard. I used this brand I got from Central Grocery in NOLA a few weeks ago.

Now, for the sammies, take a good quality polish sausage and cut into good 1-inch length pieces. Cut each of these pieces in half almost to the edge of the outer casing. Pan fry, grill or roast in the oven until nice and brown.

Spread the onion-mustard jam between rolls and add the sausage for a fine tasting treat.

Serve the chipotle wing sauce with the fajita seasoned wings for an unbelievable good time taste.

And, as stated, buffalo hot wings are an all time favorite...

September 4, 2012

My take on Kansas City Style Ribs and Sauce

finger-lickin' messy but good
K.C. inspired, 
Southern influenced

Not too many recipes come from my kitchen, or back yard in this case, that I don't put my own spin on, tweak the ingredients with local fare or throw my two-cents-worth of cookery in for good measure. I do it because I can but mainly I do it because I like to see our own local produce and foodstuff used in a fitting way in somehow honoring the given recipe.

As told, the honor of this famous barbecue creation belongs to an ex-steamboat cook named Henry Perry who smoked wild game and meats of the day as in beef over open pits in an alley and in downtown Kansas City. The original sauce consisted of vinegar and black pepper with just enough tomato to give it color. Tangy with a peppery kick, it was a low cost fare for the lower income populace. He later moved to an old trolly barn and there, produced slow-cooked smoked meats to the city's masses willing to afford his slightly progressed yet still meager prices. The sauce changed over the years to a more thick tomato-molasses sauce with the addition of more spices for a much improved flavoring.

I have made several attempts of cooking this style of barbecue and enjoyed many. The one today reflects more me, a K.C. style barbecue with Gulf Coast character. And as many of you may know, I normally prefer a mopping solution when cooking ribs to baste in keeping the meat moist and tender all while introducing additional flavor. Today I am doing it a bit different, a method used in smoking meats with a drip pan underneath the meat.The indirect heat method allows the ribs to cook slow and combined with the moisture from the pan of an apple based sweet tea produces very tender, self-basting and tasty slabs of ribs. Enjoy!

Kansas City Style Ribs and Sauce
Gulf Coast style, of course
serves 4 to 6

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter
1 small sweet onion, minced
3 garlic toes, minced
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 -14 oz can beef broth
1 -12 oz can tomato paste
2 tablespoons yellow prepared mustard
1/4 cup cane syrup or molasses
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat and when melted, add onion. Cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the remaining ingredients and whisk to incorporate. Allow sauce to come to a simmer, then reduce heat to low heat. Simmer for 30 to 45 minutes stirring frequently.

Use to baste the ribs toward the end of cooking and as a table sauce served on the side.

Place left-over sauce in a lidded jar and refrigerate for up to a month.

If you prefer, you may run the sauce through a blender for a really smooth texture.

For the ribs:
2 slabs of ribs - pork spare ribs, baby backs or St. Louis cut (Beef back ribs are good too)
2 cups hickory chips
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1/2 tablespoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 to 4 cups apple based sweet tea (sweet tea infused with apples)

Trim the fat from the ribs and remove the membrane from the bone-side of the ribs. I always like to wash the ribs under running water and pat down with paper towels to dry completely. Place ribs on a shallow roasting pan and put aside.

Soak the wood chips about 1 hour before grilling in enough water to cover. Drain prior to using either in a chip box or a homemade foil pack (see here for directions).

In a bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients (excluding the sweet tea) to make the dry rub for the ribs.

Massage the rub into the meat on both sides of the ribs. Allow to rest for an hour covered with foil. Or you can wrap in plastic-wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hrs. I used about 1/2 cup total.

Sprinkle the wood chips over the coals for charcoal grilling, or place the chip box/package over the heat source for gas grilling.

For grill cooking, place the ribs as the wood chips begin producing smoke, meat side down, next to medium hot coals (about 225 degrees F.) for charcoal cookers. For gas grills, place indirectly away from the heat source (225 degrees F.). Keep lid closed until the chips stop producing or the first 30 to 45 minutes.

Move the ribs to a wire rack positioned in a shallow pan and place the pan off the heat to indirect cooking. Pour enough of the sweet tea to cover or fill the bottom of the pan but not touching the ribs.

Close the lid and turn ribs over every 30 minutes making sure the heat is just enough to slowly heat the pan's liquid. Check the pan liquid every time and add more if needed.

Cook ribs for about 4 to 5 hours until ribs are tender and bones are protruding from the end. Baste with the Kansas City BBQ Sauce the last hour of cooking.

Remove the ribs, tent with foil and serve within 30 minutes or wrap ribs in foil and allow to rest. Slice ribs and serve with the BBQ sauce on the side.

For indoor oven cooking, omit the wood chips and add liquid smoke to the sauce if desired. Place the ribs with the rub bone side down on a rack inside a roasting pan. Add about 1/2 cup of the sweet tea to the bottom of the pan or enough to completely cover the bottom and place in a preheated 350 degree F. oven. Cook for 30 minutes, turn ribs over and cook another 30 minutes. Do not let the sweet tea reduce from the pan; add more if needed. Slather the ribs (meaty side now up) with plenty of BBQ sauce. Cover with foil and continue cooking 2 1/2 hours. You can baste with more sauce about half-way through if desired. Remove the foil, baste again with more sauce, both sides this time and cook another 15 minutes to set the sauce. The ribs will be fork tender.

September 2, 2012

Boneless Beef Chuck Short Ribs

boneless ribs prior to long, low heat cooking
Tender, moist and tasty

Not to be confused with Beef Short Ribs, Boneless Short Ribs are altogether a different part of the animal. As mentioned in an earlier recipe, Braised Beef Short (Boneless) Ribs, these so called 'ribs' are not from the ribs section at all, close, but not enough to truly be called a rib. Now there are true boneless ribs which are the meats cut from the ribs but that is not what I am using today or before either and not what is marked in many butcher's cases. The term implies the cut is from the rib area but actually comes from the chuck area which is next to the ribs. This area of beef produces a very fine cut of meat meant for stewing and with the meat marbled in fat, makes for great kabobs taking marinades so well.

well marbled beef
Also known as boneless chuck western style ribs, braising ribs, even labeled boneless barbecue ribs, this area of the chuck is best cooked indoors using a braising method. Doing so produces a very tender, melt-in-your-mouth bite every time, that is, when cooked properly. This is one of the most important cooking techniques I know as with it, you can always make a fine meal out of any ol' cheap cut of meat. Here is my step-by-step method for braising meats.

Braising Technique

Use this way of cooking less tender meats with a quick sear followed with a moist heat at low temperature.

Cut meat into uniform size if using more that one piece. Season all sides with a little salt and pepper, then dust with a light coating of all-purpose flour mixed with a little sugar. The sugar not only adds taste but helps with a quick browning of the surface.

Heat a braising pan on medium high heat. Add about 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil into the pan and tilt pan to evenly distribute the oil. When a faint smoke appears, the pan is hot enough to begin browning the meat.

Do not overcrowd the pan if cooking several pieces, placing the meat into the oil and pressing down gently with a spatula to ensure good contact with the surface of the entire area of meat. Turn the meat over when golden brown, about 2 - 2 1/2 minutes per side. Continue to cook on each side until all sides are nice and brown but being careful not to actually cook the interior of the meat. Remove meat to warming platter and continue cooking remaining meats.

If sauteing vegetables, do so now by removing all but 1 tablespoon of grease from the pan. Lower heat to medium and add the vegetables along with garlic too. Saute for about 4 minutes to brown the vegetables.

Add the browned meats to the pan along with appropriate broth  such as meat stock, water or wine to cover the bottom half of the meat. Reduce heat to low, cover with lid and cook until meat is fork tender.

Note: Adding too much sugar or flour to the surface of the meat may cause uneven browning.

Now for the recipe . . . Enjoy!

Boneless Short Ribs
in a Port Wine Tomato Gravy
serves 6

4 to 5 pounds boneless chuck short ribs
salt, pepper, sugar to taste
all-purpose flour for dusting
3 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 cup port wine
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 teaspoon snipped basil
2 cups beef stock
1 -14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Lightly sprinkle salt, pepper and sugar on all sides of the beef. Dust with the flour. I use a small handheld wire strainer 'cause it works pretty good.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and when hot, add the oil. Sear the meat on all sides as discussed above, cooking in 2 batches. Remove meat to a warm dish.

creating a good sear without overcooking is the key to braising

Remove all but about 1 tablespoons of the oil from the pan and add the chopped onions, celery and carrots. Cook stirring occasionally until onions are tender. Be careful not to burn the fond on the bottom of the pan.

Add the wine and continue cooking on medium high about 5 minutes or until most of the wine is reduced out. Add the parsley, basil, beef stock and tomatoes. Return liquid to a boil and reduce heat to lowest setting. Place the beef chuck ribs over the vegetables, cover with lid and cook 3 to 4 hours.

About 30 minutes from finish, remove about 1/2 cup of liquid from the pan. Allow to cool completely and stir in the cornstarch. Add to the pan stirring and carefully lifting ribs to distribute the thickener. Allow to thicken and turn off heat.

Serve over rice with bread choice and a side of vegetables, or two.