Barbacoa Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

Achiote Packet

Achiote packet

5lb Beef Roast (cheap cut = good)*

2 dried Ancho pepper**

2 dried Pasilla pepper**

4 cloves garlic

1 Blood Orange quartered***

1 lime – halved

1 yellow onion – quartered

2 Turkish Bay leaves

2 tbsp Cumin

1 tbsp Mexican Oregano

1 tbsp black pepper

3 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 packets Achiote powder

12oz Beer (Corona, Modelo, Negra Modelo)

32oz Beef Stock (unsalted)

Method:

Cut the roast into 4-5 evenly sized chunks.

Place the beef in the slow cooker.  De-seed the dried peppers and add to the pot.  Add seasonings to the meat and rub to coat. Pour the beer and stock around the beef, and add in your orange and lime.  Tuck a bay leaf on either side of the meat.  Put your lid on, set to low, and come back in 8 hours.  You can halve the time by cooking on the high setting.

Beef in the crock pot, ready start

When the beef is tender and falling apart, shred it with a pair of forks. You can then use the beef as a base for other dishes (tacos, nachos, rice, burritos, etc…). Simmer any remaining juices down and add to a red sauce for use in enchiladas.

Notes:

* – I recommend putting this on a rack and a sheet pan and allowing it to dry in your fridge for a day or two before preparing

**- You can get big bags of dried chilis at your local Mexican store.  I recommend these over grocery stores since the stock is more likely to turn over quickly.

***- if you can find a blood orange, they are fantastic in this dish.  If not, just substitute the orange of your choice.

Since I have two young children who decidedly do not like spicy food (much to my wife and my dismay), this recipe is flavorful but not spicy.  If you are looking for something with a bit more punch, add in some .  You can find them at most grocery stores, and they are a great thing to keep in your pantry.  Add as much or as little as you like for a nice flavor/heat boost.

This recipe is a good one to do in a crock pot or slow cooker.  You could easily do it in a roasting pan with some foil or in a dutch oven with excellent results. I would recommend low and slow, in the 250° range for 8-10 hours with periodic checks to make sure the cooking liquid is adequate.

Beef Barbacoa

Get the recipe here.

The Where and the Why

When I was 16, my dad decided it was time for me to get a job.  Aside from wanting me to pay for my own gas, I think he wanted to get me out of the house a few nights a week so he could have some peace.  I spent a good few months putting out horribly written applications at local fast food places, grocery stores, and even applying at a law firm as a runner.  All of these applications resulted in a grand total of nada.  In all honestly, I cannot say I was putting in much effort (besides the law firm one, which had me thinking of Perry Mason and Matlock).  And so, after several months of fruitless pursuit, my father took matters into his own hands.  He worked with several guys who owned a local Tex-Mex bar downtown (not the greatest area at the time, but hey, a jobs a job).  Somehow or another, he finagled me a shot and from there I was in.  I would work weekends running food and make some spending money.  In the process, I got my first real taste of working both in a professional kitchen and being around Mexican cuisine.

While the food we served was not the most authentic, many of the employees who worked there were quite authentic.  Between the family meals they would make at work and the newly created Food Network my interest in cooking was peaked.  This recipe is a bit of a hybrid from the beef we would make at that first job, with much of what I learned technique wise from my second job (coincidentally another Mexican restaurant).  It also shares some influences from Mayan cuisine, specifically Cochinita Pibil.

Preparation:

I tend to make this in my crock pot, as it’s perfectly suited to getting tossed in and left to cook for an extended period of time.  Barbacoa is generally a slow roasted meat combined with a red sauce.  This recipe provides a super flavorful beef with a broth you can use in combination with the sauce of your choice to make other dishes.  Because the chili peppers are seeded before cooking, you get a nice depth of flavor without adding heat to the dish.  You can easily add heat if you like (and a nice flavor kick I highly recommend) by adding some .

I also recommend slicing the beef up into smaller pieces for cooking when cooking in a crock pot.  I chose not to when writing this blog (as you can see in photographs) and regretted it when my beef was not done in time to feed my two children.  That being said, the end result was still delicious.

Serving Suggestions:

This is another one of those super flexible dishes.  It is basically a protein you can use to make other dishes.  The yield is enough for several meals, which works out great if you are making one dinner and want leftovers.  In the picture above, you can see the enchiladas we made with the barbacoa.  We have also made tacos, nachos, and burritos with the barbacoa.  All have been excellent.  As a side note, I highly recommend pairing this with a fried egg or scrambled eggs.  Making a stacked Enchilada with a fried egg on top in combination with this barbacoa is a thing of beauty.

 

Hot dogs

The Hot Dog/Sausage Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

Onions and garlic, ready to go

1/4 cup Butter

1 whole yellow onion (diced)

2 cloves Garlic (sliced)

2 tbsp spicy brown mustard (Lusty Monk Recommended)

8ea Sausages (Hot Dogs, Brats, etc…)

1/2 cup Chicken Broth

12oz Beer

Top Sliced Buns (your preference)

Method:

Add butter, mustard, garlic, and sausage of your choice to a non-stick pan*. Add chicken stock and beer.  Cover top of pan loosely in aluminum foil.

Over medium heat, bring the pan to a boil.  Boil for about 5-10 mins with the foil on.  Remove foil – CAREFULLY – and discard.

Add diced onions and shake pan to distribute.  Continue cooking.

The cooking liquid will reduce, and butter will begin to fry the onions and sausages.  You want the onions to brown, and a bit of color to appear on the sausages while they crisp up.  Things will smell amazing.

These are delicious on warm toasted/buttered buns.  Get top sliced buns for goodness sakes!

Beer, hot dogs, butter, mustard, garlic, broth

Notes:

* I’ve tried this with a cast iron skillet, and a cast steel pan.  Personally, I feel the results are best in a non-stick pan.

This recipe scales pretty well.  More onions = better if there is a choice.

Hot dogs

The Best Damned Hot Dog and Bratwurst Recipe I Know

Get the recipe here.

The Story:

There’s just something about sausage.  Aside from being delicious, it happens to be tremendously flexible.  Sausages, cooked up and served on a tasty fresh bun are one of those things most people grow up loving.  Be it brats or hot dogs, there’s just that soft spot we all have for them (and if you don’t love a good hot dog, well, move on you heathen!).  When I was a kid I went a whole year eating nothing but hot dogs (or so my parents are happy to tell everyone). I really can’t argue, I love the damned things.

When I was a kid, my Dad was the one (knowingly or unknowlingly) who set me on the path to this recipe.  Aside from old school boiled hot dogs (I have fond memories of my dad picking up hot dogs for me at gas stations), the other hot dog I grew up with was the movie theatre roller hot dog (which I also enjoy, fyi).  My dad however, changed all of that when one day he introduced me to the joys of fried hot dogs.  While messy, and possibly painful to cook, they were head and shoulders above the gas station weenies I had enjoyed before.  My dad taught me how to fry those tasty hot dogs in butter.  If you’ve never tried it, I recommend giving it a try.

Then in the early ’90’s, my dad took me to his hometown of Miami, FL to meet his Dad.  While there, he took me to one of his childhood haunts, a place called Mae and Daves.  Now, when my dad went there as a kid, it was a very different place than when he introduced me to it.  When I went, it had a hotel full of prostitutes next door, a pretty eccentric auto painting shop across the street, and was in the middle of Little Havana.  That being said, it also had some amazing 1/4lb beer steamed hot dogs (something my dad and I sought to duplicate at home).

In 1989, at the ripe old age of 13, my dad took me on a trip to Europe.  One of the places we went to repeatedly was a Wurst shop at the Munich train station.  Basically, a German version of a corner burger shop but with sausages instead of burgers.  The sausages (bratwurst and weisswurst) were grilled on a flat top and served with a nice roll.  They were fantastic.

All of these things led to this recipe.  Its simple but delicious.  My kids love it.  My wife loves it.  Hell, I love it.

This recipe combines a bit from all of these memories.  The sausages steam in beer to begin with, then fry in butter with onions at the end.  Good brown mustard and a hearty beer pair up to add flavor.  Add in a good roll, and top the sausage off with the caramelized onions from the pan and you will find your sausage happy place.

This one is for my dad – thanks for all the great memories.

Notes:

This recipe works great for hot dogs or sausages of many types.  Get a good hot dog (I really like the Private Selection Brisket variety from Kroger’s) or whichever version of Brat you like.  Either one will work in this recipe.  You can use the same recipe, minus the mustard and it will even work for Italian Sausages.  The recipe also keeps fairly well if you’re tailgaiting and not cooking on site.

Use a good mustard for this.  You do not need much in the recipe, but a little goes a long way – so pick a good one.  I recommend Lusty Monk products since they are consistently fantastic.

As for beer, I recommend a nice Negra Modelo to cook this with, as well as to enjoy it with.

Enjoy!

Scofflaw Cocktail

The Scofflaw Cocktail

scoff·law

[ˈskôːflôː]

NOUN
N. AMER.
informal
  1. a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively.

About the drink:

The Scofflaw cocktail was created around 1920 at Harry’s Bar in Paris.  We here in the States were laboring under the social experiment known as Prohibition while also nurturing a booming bootlegging business.  This cocktail was a Continental response to the perceived dichotomy of America’s position. The cocktail’s name comes directly from the term used to describe someone who drank in disregard of Prohibition.

Prior to Prohibition, the US sold a pretty fair amount of Rye Whiskey.  As a result, it makes its way into a lot of old cocktails.  After Prohibition, many of the distilleries that had produced Rye whiskeys had moved on to Bourbons or on to other whiskies.  As a result, you will often see this cocktail made with Bourbon as opposed to Rye.  Luckily for us, in the past 10-20 years a lot of distilleries have gotten back into producing Rye whiskey.   Personally, I prefer this cocktail with Rye – although my wife argues vociferously in favor of Bourbon.

Ingredients:

2oz Rye Whiskey or Bourbon

1oz Dry Vermouth

.5oz Grenadine (please, not Rose’s!)

.25oz fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 dashes Orange Bitters

Method:

Chill your cocktail glass.

In a shaker, combine all ingredients.  Add ice and shake until you feel the ache in your hands. Strain into your chilled glass, and garnish with a lemon peel.

Notes:

I prefer this cocktail with Rye.  I mentioned that above, but I feel the need to mention it again.  The spicy notes just sing to me in this cocktail.

Get some really nice grenadine for this one.  There are a lot of great companies out there making better Grenadines than the one you can get at Krogers.

Enjoy!

Baked garlic cheesy bread

Cheese and Garlic Bread Recipe

Read the article here.

Ingredients:

1 loaf Italian Country (or similar) bread

1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter

1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tsp Italian herb seasoning

Sprinkle paprika

splash Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper (to taste)

Method:

Preheat oven to 425•. Line a  with aluminum foil.

In a small bowl mix butter, cheese, garlic, and herbs together with a fork.  Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil.  Mix.  Taste and add salt and pepper.

Butter and herbs

Butter and herbs in bow

Cheese added

Cheese added

Mixed

Take your bread and make one long slice down the length of the bread, about 3/4 deep through the bread.  Now make perpendicular slices every inch or so.  Your goal is to make lots of room for that butter mixture.  Be sure and spread the slots open so the cheese and butter melt evenly (unlike in my photos, where I forgot to).  No one you actually listen to will ever complain about there being too much butter or cheese on their bread.

Next you are going to spread the garlic/butter/cheese mix into all the slots you just cut into the bread.  Try and keep it even, and don’t stress if you have extra leftover – just spread that over the top of the bread.  Keep in mind, your goal is some buttery-garlicy-cheesy goodness.

Place on baking sheet and bake until golden and delicious (about 10-15 mins).

Devour!

Notes:

I like to use an Italian Country loaf I find at Krogers near me for this.  The boys flat out demolish this every time I make it.

Cheese is good.  Add more if you like.  Your cardiologist will thank me.

Be sure and taste the compound butter before you put it on the bread – sometimes it can do with a bit of salt added.

You can also sprinkle some kosher salt over the loaf before you bake it for a neat effect.

Pasta with sauce

Tarragon Pasta Recipe

Read the article here.

Tarragon Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tbsp Olive Oil

Mise-en-place – Tarragon, garlic, and shallots

1 tbsp Unsalted butter

1 Shallot – minced

1 clove Garlic – minced

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

2 tsp dried Thyme

1/2 cup White Wine

2 cups Heavy Cream

1 cup Whole Milk

1x Bunch Tarragon (pull the leaves off of the stem)

Parmigiano-reggiano (grated)

(Get your pasta water going.  This sauce takes about 10-15 mins to prepare so you will want your pasta ready about the same time as the sauce.)

Method:

Shallots, garlic, thyme in

Shallots, garlic, and thyme have been added to the pan

Heat the pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and butter.  Toss in the shallots and garlic.  Let the shallots clarify.  Add the thyme, salt, and pepper.  This will be fairly thick, and you want to stir things rapidly.  Add the wine to deglaze.  Stir.  A lot.

Deglazing

Wine going in. Stir!

 

 

 

 

 

Next, add the cream and milk.  Stir.  You will want to taste the sauce at this point to check the salt and pepper concentrations

Cream and milk added

Cream and milk added.

and adjust to your preferences.  Keep in mind, you will be adding parm at the end – typically a salty cheese – so do not overdo it.

The sauce will begin to boil as it comes up to temperature. Never fear, you want this! (*See notes.) Now is the time when you will add in your tarragon and stir to incorporate.

Tarragon input

Tarragon going in!

It should get very fragrant at this point. Enjoy!

Turn the heat off, and grate your parmigiano into the sauce.  Taste.

To finish, you will toss your pasta with the sauce and some more parmigiano.  Use some of your pasta water (ALWAYS save your pasta water!) to thin things out if things seem too thick.

 

Sauce simmering

Sauce simmering before cheese and pasta are added.

Pasta with sauce

Sauced and eat to eat!

Notes:

*What you are looking for is called nappe,

Nappe!

a fancy french term meaning the sauce

will coat the back of a spoon.

I generally serve this with a nice hunk of my garlic & cheese bread.

See the article about this post for some protein variations I recommend.

I usually make this in the my wife got me for Christmas a few years ago.  It works great, and I can add my pasta to the pan and finish the dish without having to dirty something else up.

Pasta with sauce

Tarragon Pasta

 

Pasta with sauce

Sauced and eat to eat!

Get the recipe here

There are plenty of evenings where you need to whip up something in a hurry.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice flavor for speed.  This is not one of those types of recipes.  This one gives you the best of both worlds – it’s fast as well as delicous.  And did I mention, flexible?  I call it my Tarragon Pasta.

This recipe comes from my college days.  I wanted a dish that I could play with, was cheap, and flavorful.  I also wanted to try something that would let me experiment with herbs, cream, and wine.  The sauce itself is fairly basic – cream, spices, fresh tarragon, and some wine if you have it handy.  Add some pasta, and you have a quick dinner that you will enjoy immensely.  Add some sausage, chicken, or shrimp and you have something to be proud of.  And the basic version is easy to make in less than fifteen minutes.  You can have the sauce ready before your pasta water even comes to a boil if you start them at the same time!

I apologise for the addictiveness of this recipe.  Once you have made it once, you will find yourself craving it again a week or two later.  If you like tarragon at all, or are looking for a chance to try the herb then this is the dish for you.

Variations:

My wife loves this dish with chicken.  When I make that variation, I generally pan sear the chicken and just slice it over the top of the pasta.  I have also cooked the chicken with cajun blackened seasoning with very enjoyable results.  As with all my recipes, I recommend you go with what you like!

Personally, my favorite variation involves using italian sausage.  I take a bit of sweet italian sausage and cook it in a skillet.  Then I remove the sausage from the pan and allow it to drain.  When the tarragon cream is thickened, I add the sausage back into the sauce with some finely chopped spinach and toss everything together.  My children love this version.  They happily devour every bite.  Part of this is my children’s absolute love of sausage.  Also, the tarragon and sausage mask the spinach – a boon to any parent trying to get healthy green veggies into their little one.

At some point, I would love to try this dish with shrimp.  I think I would cook the shrimp in butter with garlic and maybe some parmesan.  Nothing fancy, just delicious.  Then I would put the shrimp over the top of the pasta.

Pasta Choices:

I have made this dish with spaghetti, fettucini, bowties, and ziti.  The sauce is fairly thick and clinging so it will stick nicely to longer noodles.  You could probably get away with using gnocchi as well.  When I make the sausage version mentioned above, I generally go with the bowties.  The kids love them, and we don’t have to slice them into smaller portions for the boys.

Wine and Pairing:

Personally, I like this recipe better with wine.  I like to use it in the dish itself, and I particularly enjoy drinking a glass of wine while I enjoy the pasta.  I recommend a nice Riesling or a Pinot Grigio.

Black Bean Soup, Served

Black Bean Soup with Chorizo Recipe

Read the article here.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 lb Black beans

1 lb Chorizo Sausage (Mexican)

1 large Yellow Onion (diced)

4 cloves garlic (sliced or chopped, your preference)

1 Poblano Pepper – diced (optional)

2 tbsp Cumin

2 12 oz Beers (I recommend Negra Modello)

2 qts chicken stock

1 ham hock (smoked if available)

water (as needed)

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

Serving:

Tortilla Chips

Sour Cream

Cilantro (finely chopped)

Red Onions (diced)

Baby Spinach (roughly chopped)

Method:

Soak black beans in water overnight.

Preheat oven to 300•.

In a large heat olive oil over medium heat.

Add chorizo (if using links, remove skin and break into chunks for cooking). Cook until chorizo releases its fat and begins to brown.

Chorizo

Chorizo added to the pot

Add onions, garlic, and Poblano pepper (if using).  You want to soften the vegetables and release some of the water.  Add salt for flavor.

Chorizo and veggies

Chorizo cooked, veggies added

Add cumin and cook for about a minute. Things should get fragrant. Enjoy.

Pour in your beer and stir to deglaze. Add chicken stock, ham hock (if using) and black beans. Taste. Adjust salt, pepper, and cumin to your liking. Bring to a simmer.

Black bean and Chorizo Soup

Soup ready to go in the oven

Cover and place in oven. Cook for 3 hours. Check occasionally and add stock as needed.  Check beans for flavor and doneness. They should be soft to the bite and not mealy. Remove from oven and remove ham hock.  Shred ham and return to soup and mix thoroughly.

Service:

Crumble tortilla chips into a bowl.  Add spinach on top (it will take up space, but only until you add the soup).  Ladle soup on top.  Add a dollop of sour cream and diced onions and cilantro as desired.

Black Bean Soup

Spinach and tortilla chips

Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup, Served

The finished product