Archive for June, 2009

The Next Food Network Star: Season 5

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

tnfns

A few years ago, back when David and I were still dating, we were hanging out at his mom’s house on a summer night, watching TV. We were channel surfing with his sister Terese, who liked the Food Network. As it turns out the Food Network was showing a marathon re-airing of its recent show, “The Next Food Network Star,” an American Idol-type reality show where finalists compete for their own cooking show on Food Network.

This should not have been interesting.

BUT IT WAS!

We watched for about 5 hours, before it was done. We saw almost the entire series. Neither of us liked reality shows, typically, (Thought I’ve since learned to like the cooking ones, at least!) and so we were shocked at how interested we were in this strange show. It was cool though. They put the finalists through all kinds of weird tests and challenges, like Mario Batali came out and made them all make a weird pizza, and then demo (show it like they would on a cooking show) it for the judges. Then, after each challenge, they’d eliminate somebody.

We were way to into it, though we felt much stronger about who we hated more than who we liked. After hours of watching, we got to the final episode. The two finalists recorded a pilot for their show idea, and then there was a party to announce the winner. Just as Emeril (the “ultimate Food Network Star”) was about to announce the winner…literally the SECOND he was about to announce the winner: *BONG* the patented TiVo “show’s over!” noise. Something was off on the timing, and because we’d gotten behind on the show and had to tape part of it, the stupid episode was cut off, just at the moment we cared most. Ugh!

Of course, we looked up the winner(s) online (in this case Dan and Steve–The Hearty Boys) and that was that. As frustrating as it was, we got over the ruined “reveal” and moved on with our lives. Except that while David remains indifferent to almost all reality shows, I continue to watch The Next Food Network Star season after season. (I also love Top Chef, as you may have noticed).

Top Chef continues to delight, but I have to admit, The Next Food Network Star may be growing a little stale for me. For one, the show seems to be a springboard to nothing. Other than Guy, who admittedly has become the Next Food Network SUPERStar, most of the contestants on the show don’t go anywhere. If The Hardy Boys are still on TV, I haven’t seen them. Of course, Guy’s everywhere, but in the seasons following Guy, the winners have been Amy Finley (who?) and Aaron McCargo, Jr. (okay, but hardly a STAR). That makes The Next Food Network Star only 1 for 4.

This season, I think the producers are trying to improve the show by stepping up the challenges a little bit, at least.  I don’t think it’s an accident that most episodes are now following a format much closer to the Top Chef layout of a quick challenge that somehow leads to an advantage in the main challenge. I’ll also say that this group of contestants don’t seem quite as clueless, on the whole, as last year’s crew–but I’m still not seeing very many people whose show I’d want to watch on a regular basis. For the most part, the best cooks (Michael, Jeffery) don’t have the kind of personality I’d tune in for, at all. Others have personality, but no food chops. It’s hard for me to even pick a front-runner at this point. I just hope that whoever gets the chance to be The Next Food Network Star, they actually make it happen. More like Guy, and less like those other guys.

Key Lime Pie

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I know I start a lot of posts this way, but really, I mean it this time: David loves Key Lime Pie. And what do I do when I find out that David likes something? I learn to make it.

It had actually been over a year since I made him this treat–since about the same time that we got engaged–so I figured he was due. Plus, I saw a post about Key Lime Pie that had me drooling just a little bit over at The Pioneer Woman.

I’ve been very happy with my existing Key Lime Pie recipe, but the Pioneer Woman’s pie features about twice as much graham cracker crust as other recipes, and I think that’s the way to go. So I took off with that idea, and made my regular recipe in an extra deep salty-sweet graham cracker crust.

And it was good.

I managed to take a picture before we ate it all, but the pie is long gone. If David’s good, maybe I won’t wait another year to bake him another one. Actually, since I practically injured myself juicing all those little baby key limes this time around, he can probably have another whenever he wants to take care of the juicing. That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Key Lime

Double Crusted Key Lime Pie

For the Crust

  • 18 graham crackers (1 cracker=1 full rectangle, not a square)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (salted)

For the filling:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup of freshly squeezed key lime juice. (I do think freshly squeezed is better, even though it’s a pain)
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons key lime zest, plus more for garnish

For the whipped cream topping:

  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons of confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

1. To make the crust: Crush the graham crackers in a food processor. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees, or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool while you make the filling.

2. To make the filling: Place egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip these together until the eggs are light and fluffy. This will take several minutes–the eggs will become a light, lemony yellow, compared to the golden yolk color you started with. Turn the mixer down to low, and drizzle in the condensed sweetened milk a little at a time. Continue mixing until just combined. When the milk is incorporated completely, add the lime juice and start the mixer again to get everything mixed thoroughly as soon as possible. As soon as the lime juice is stirred in completely, pour the filling into your prepared graham cracker crust. Bake the filled pie at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until the filling is set. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours before serving. The colder the better!

3. For the whipped cream topping: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the cream and powdered sugar. Mix on high until stiff peaks are formed.

Serve each slice of chilled pie with a good dollop of whipped cream and a bit of lime zest for garnish.

Note: If you like sour things at all, you owe it to yourself to make this. If you’ve never been to Key West, you’ve probably never had a real tart Key Lime pie, but that’s how it should be. Cold and creamy and tart enough to make your mouth pucker (just a little!) until the whipped cream and graham crackers come together to sweeten the deal. Yum!

Restaurant Review: Homemade Pizza Company

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

We picked up a pizza from Homemade Pizza Company again tonight. There’s one close to our place in Chicago (they have a few storefronts scattered throughout the city), and a couple of weeks ago, after a long Sunday afternoon spent cleaning this place, we decided that we deserved pizza for dinner and tried it out.

And tonight, we went back again.

Homemade Pizza does “Take and Bake” pizzas, a concept that I was never quite sold on before. Basically they roll out a pizza crust, load it with your choice of toppings, and then you take it home and bake it in your own oven. I always wondered why, really, you’d want to bother baking your own pizza. And I thought that your home oven never quite managed to make pizza as well as a big restaurant pizza oven. Homemade Pizza has me convinced though.

I love their ingredients. They use all-natural, high-quality stuff to make their pizzas, and offer a huge variety of toppings while they’re at it. We ordered a pizza with Asiago cheese in addition to the mozzarella that’s traditional, and topped it with sausage and canadian bacon. It was delicious. The Asiago cheese is a little saltier and a little more tangy than the bland mozzarella most pizza places toss on their pizzas. The sausage had a good flavor, and they use whole slices of canadian bacon, which I had never seen before, but approve of completely. The crust wasn’t too thick or too thin and baked up very nicely.

They boast the #1 cheese pizza in town with their Four Cheese special and I’m certainly excited to try it sometime: Asiago, Fontinella, Wisconsin Mozzarella, and Ricotta. Yum!

The menu also includes a several tasty looking salads and even take-and-bake cookie dough, to bake up a hot, fresh cookie at home.

Check out the menu yourself. Most of their combinations sound delicious, actually, even when they contain ingredients that I’m not that crazy about.

Their prices seemed pretty reasonable as well. A large pizza will run you about $18, so it’s more expensive than frozen pizza, but in line with any decent pizza restaurant that will deliver to you. And they don’t charge for delivery (obviously, since you pick it up yourself!). 😉 They seem to make coupons available fairly often, and have a club card program that allows you to earn a free pizza after so many purchases.

Bottom Line: I expect we’ll take advantage of this place being so close fairly often. Since it’s close by, it’s actually faster than getting a deep dish pizza delivered, and will be a nice weeknight option, for those nights when you just don’t want to cook a meal from scratch.

Chicken Kiev

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

I have liked Chicken Kiev ever since I was a little kid. We used to get these frozen Chicken Kiev pieces from Market Day or Sam’s Club, and I was always excited to have them for dinner. There were other versions of the same product stuffed with cheesy broccoli or ham and swiss cheese, but for me, Chicken Kiev, with its crunchy outside and tender, buttery inside, was the best out of all of them.

It’s kind of surprising that I haven’t tried to make it more often. I came across this recipe through Photograzing, and decided to try it. Other recipes I’ve seen have used boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded them thin, and then wrapped them around pieces of herb butter. The problem with that approach is that not only is it a little on the messy side, but it’s very hard to make sure that the chicken is sealed up properly–and if it’s not, you just get chicken baked in a pan of butter, which is not the same at all real Chicken Kiev, which bursts with a warm herb-butter sauce as soon as you cut into it.

The other problem with those recipes is that they require a long stay in your fridge–most want you to chill the stuffed chicken breasts overnight before cooking, to help that butter stay inside the chicken where it belongs. This recipe, however, used ground chicken formed around cold pieces of butter. It worked perfectly, and was both easier to work with and much more fool-proof. Every one of my Chicken Kievs came out perfectly.

IMG_2108

Chicken Kiev
Adapted from The Five Star Foodie, via Photograzing.

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 to 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon herbs de provence, plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1 stick chilled butter
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Extra virgin olive oil

1. Put chicken and onion through a meat grinder, according to manufacturer’s directions, and place and in a large bowl. Add egg, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs, and 1 tablespoon of herbs to the bowl. Mix well by hand until the mixture is smooth. This part feels a lot like making a meatloaf, and really–that’s the texture you’re looking for. Form four equal-sized patties, place on plate or cutting board and flatten them.

2. Cut the stick of butter in half and roll each half into a thin log. Work with the butter quickly, so that it stays as cold as possible. Sprinkle a small plate with remaining teaspoon of herbs de provence and roll the piece of butter so that it is coated on all sides. Place one butter log in the middle of each patty, and shape the chicken into a small loaf around the butter so that the chicken mixture covers the butter completely.

3. In a shallow dish, mix panko breadcrumbs, garlic, and Parmesan. Coat the chicken patties with breadcrumbs. I thought I might need to batter the chicken pieces with egg before dipping in the breadcrumbs to get the mixture to stick, but the chicken loaves were plenty moist enough. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes, while you preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add one to two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. You need enough to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot (the surface will start to shimmer), brown the chicken loaves quickly. It doesn’t take long–maybe one or two minutes per side. Turn carefully with tongs (you don’t want to puncture the chicken as you turn it!).

5. Bake in a 375 degree oven, in an oven-safe dish lined with parchment paper, for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. I used a 9 x 13 pyrex dish.

Note: I’ve always liked to have Chicken Kiev with rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes, since each of those options gives you something to soak up the delicious herb-butter sauce from the chicken.

I had to make several changes to this recipe, because the ground chicken that I had was super-moist–much too wet to stick together–so I added the breadcrumbs and a little more egg to that mixture.

I was perfectly content to grind my own chicken, since I have a meat grinder attachment for my kitchen-aid mixer that doesn’t see as much use as it should. I also always have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand. That being said, I think you could probably use a store-bought package of ground chicken without too much difference. You might not need as much of the breadcrumbs in that case, because I don’t think the mixture would have anywhere near as much moisture.

If you know anyone that received a food grinder attachment (for Father’s Day, perhaps?) recently, this would be a good recipe for them to start with.

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

This one’s a weird one for me to write.

I love rice. I love rice pilafs. I love Alton Brown, and am almost never disappointed in his recipes.

But I was kind of disappointed in this recipe.

On the plus side, the directions were clear, and it wasn’t really difficult at all to make. I just didn’t think that the result tasted like much of anything. Kind of a waste of saffron and all the veggies and other ingredients, if you ask me, because I didn’t think it tasted much better than plain rice. The texture was good, though, so I think there’s something to this method. I will probably give this another chance, especially since David liked it just fine. I didn’t dislike it, I was just…underwhelmed.

IMG_2104

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Pinch of saffron strands, steeped in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • Golden raisins and pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, wide, lidded pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, red pepper, and kosher salt. Sweat the onions and peppers until aromatic, stirring constantly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until rice smells nutty. Add chicken broth, orange zest, saffron and water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover pan with moistened dish towel (or tea towel). Place lid on pan and fold towel corners over lid. Bake for 15 minutes. Then rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes without removing the cover. Meanwhile, simmer peas in salted water until heated through or heat in a microwave. Remove lid from rice and turn out onto a platter. Add peas and fluff with a large fork. Add raisins and pistachios.

Note: I followed the directions almost exactly, but I used about 1/2 cup white wine in place of part of the chicken broth–we didn’t have quite as much chicken broth as I thought (oops!). I also skipped the raisins and pistachios, only because I served the rice with Chicken Kiev, and I didn’t think raisins went so well with garlic-herb butter.

Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This simple recipe was the perfect weeknight meal: very quick, easy cleanup, and delicious. I love the tomato/basil/mozzarella flavor combination just about any time I come across it, so this was sort of a no-brainer to throw together. Marinated chicken is flavorful and juicy when grilled (or cooked in a grill pan, for us apartment-dwellers!), then topped with fresh tomato salsa-style sauce and a bit of mozzarella. The result was kind of like a Chicken Parmesan, but much lighter (both in a caloric sense, and in the sense that it’s June, and it’s hot outside, and Chicken Parmesan sure feels like a winter dish). For a quick and easy side, I tossed warm penne pasta with olive oil, garlic, a bit of the fresh tomato “salsa” and some Parmesan cheese.

Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinaigarette salad dressing, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

1. Pour 1/4 cup of dressing over chicken in a ziploc bag, refrigerate 20 minutes.

2. Grill chicken over medium heat on a grill or in a heavy-bottomed grill pan (about 6 minutes). Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and remaining dressing.

3. Turn chicken over, top each piece of chicken with a spoonful of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top of each chicken breast. Cover, and cook an additional 7-8 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Note: I used a new Basil & Parmesan vinaigarette by Kraft to marinate the chicken, and it was very tasty, but any Italian style dressing that you like would work here. Because we don’t have a grill, or a lid for our grill pan, I stuck the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes to melt and crisp up the cheese. Totally optional.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Can someone please teach me how to photograph a casserole? I feel like I just can’t do them justice in pictures. If I take a picture of the casserole in the pan, aside from the lighting issues in my kitchen, all you see is some sort of cheesy/crunchy topping, and a casserole is much, much more than that. If I try to take a picture of the inside of the casserole, all you see is a bowl of…something. It’s impossible to tell what’s going on, and it certainly doesn’t seem to illustrate the deliciousness of the casserole. So going forward, I’m going to need you to accept that this dish tastes better than it looks. Casserole dishes always do, as far as I can tell.

This casserole is one of my favorite casseroles in a long time. It’s a take on Chicken Cordon Bleu, traditonally a breaded chicken breast stuffed with ham and swiss cheese. This casserole takes those familiar flavors and turns them into a cheesy, baked pasta dish. Because David’s not a huge fan of ham, I used proscuitto. This would be good with ham, but the proscuitto adds an additional saltiness that paired well with the creamy cheese sauce.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole
Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breast, shredded or cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 cup half and half (I used Fat-Free half and half, and it was delicious)
  • 4 oz prosciutto, either diced or sliced into thin strips
  • 8 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss Original Flavor (this is one full wheel of Laughing Cow cheese; I used light because we get these at Costco in a multipack, but you could use the full fat version if you want. There’s very little difference between the two).
  • 8 ounces (1/2 box) penne pasta (I used Barilla Plus Penne, but any small pasta should be fine: shells, rotini, elbows, etc.)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Boil pasta in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the prosciutto and 1 tablespoon of butter until the prosciutto is heated through and crispy at the edges. Add the Laughing Cow cheese, 1/4 cup of the shredded Swiss cheese, half and half, garlic salt and pepper. When cheese is melted and smooth, cooked chicken and pasta and stir to combine. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of shredded swiss cheese over the casserole evenly.

3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small bowl the microwave. Add the panko bread crumbs and stir to combine.  Sprinkle over the top of the casserole. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the casserole is heated through, the cheese on top is melted, and the buttered bread crumbs have crisped. Serve immediately.

Note: I really enjoyed this, and I am sure we’ll be making it again. I think broccoli might be a welcome addition to the rich casserole for the next time–something to think about, anyway.

Amish Friendship Bread

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The other day, Leah came home from work with a Ziploc bag full of mush.

I looked at it skeptically.

She handed it to me, along with a single sheet of paper with printed instructions.

I looked at it skeptically.

“Will we do it?” she asked. “I mean, I can take it back to someone else, if you want, but it makes really good bread!”

I looked at it skeptically, but agreed.

After all, most of the instructions are “mash the bag,” and I like to bake anyhow.

That’s how I got my hands on an Amish Friendship Bread starter. The process is very simple. You follow the directions every day (most of the directions really are “mash the bag,” for the day) and then on the 10th day, you bake one part of it into loaves of sweet cinnamon bread, and divide the rest into new batches of starter to give to your friends. It’s kind of like a bread dough chain letter.

The resulting bread is very, very sweet (honestly, a little sweet for my tastes), but tasty. I opted to add raisins, which went well. Now that I’ve made a batch, I can start to see how I might make some adaptations to the next batch. The bread is moist, with a muffin-like crumb. I think it would make very good muffins, actually. The recipe below are the steps that accompanied my batch of starter.

amish bread

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

Please Note: As the bread starter rests over the next 10 days, air will build up in the Ziploc bag. This is normal. When you notice air building up int he bag, let it out. Do NOT refrigerate the bread starter.The bread will rise and ferment in the Ziploc bag.

Day 1: Do Nothing
Day 2: Mash the Bag
Day 3: Mash the Bag
Day 4: Mash the Bag
Day 5: Mash the Bag
Day 6: Add the following to the bag and mash it all together:

  • 1 Cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 Cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 Cup of milk

Day 7: Mash the Bag
Day 8: Mash the Bag
Day 9: Mash the Bag
Day 10: Follow the Instructions below to make Amish Friendship Bread

Pour the entire contents of the bag into a non-metal bowl. Add 1 1/2 Cups of flour, 1 1/2 Cups of sugar and 1 1/2 Cups of milk. Mix well.

Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 cup each into (4) one gallon Ziploc bags. Keep a starter for yourself and give the other bags to (3) friends along with a copy of this recipe.

Note: If you keep a starter for yourself, you will be baking every 10 days. This bread is very good and makes a great gift. Only the Amish know how to create the starter, so if you give them all away, you’ll have to wait until someone gives you a starter back. Should this recipe not be passed on to a friend on the first day, be sure to tell them which day the bag is on when you give it to them.

Baking Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

1) To the remaining batter in the bowl, add 3 eggs, 1 cup oil, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanillla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 2 cups flour, 1 large box instant vanilla pudding (1 cup raisins or nuts optional)

2. Grease two large loaf pans. In a small bowl, mix an additional 1/2 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Dust the greased pans with half of this mixture.

3. Pour the batter evenly into the two pans. Sprinkle the remaining sugar/ cinnamon mixture.

4. Bake for one hour. Cool bread until it loosens evenly from the sides of the pan. Turn onto plates. Or bake mini-muffins for 20 minutes, regular muffins for 40 minutes.

Note: If you google for Amish Friendship Bread, you can find recipes for starters and even kits you can buy with mix for starter in them. We inherited this one, so I don’t know how to tell you to make your own. Apparently, I’ll have new batches of starter every 10 days or so, though, so if you’d like one of your own, just let me know!

Fried German Potato Salad

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

I actually stumbled across this recipe while searching for the recipe for Guy Fieri’s McCalister Potatoes on the Food Network website. It was accompanied by a video, which I watched right away–the idea of a fried potato salad was intriguing to me. Plus, I find German potato salad oddly compelling. It shouldn’t be good, with all the mustard and vinegar, but the sharp tangy flavor sticks with you. It’s the kind of thing that you find yourself craving months later. I do, anyway.

So when I read through Guy’s recipe for Fried German Potato Salad, I could just taste how it would turn out, and I was excited to try it. I thought it was really tasty.

Fried German Potato Salad
Adapted from Guy’s Big Bite

  • 6 Red potatoes medium size, cut into large dice
  • 8 ounces thick sliced bacon, cut into pieces
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 tablespoons apple cidar vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1. Put diced potatoes into a pot and fill with cold water (water should just cover the potatoes). Put pot on stove on medium flame and add salt. When water comes to a boil, and the potatoes are cooked, drain the potatoes and spread out on a side towel to dry.

2. While potatoes are doing their thing, add bacon to a large saute pan and cook over a low/medium flame. When the bacon is cooked remove with a slotted spoon and drain the bacon fat, reserving some if you want to add it later. Wipe out the pan with a wad of paper towels (and crank up the heat), add a decent amount of a neutral oil, like canola, and heat it until you get some smoke.

3. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the potatoes and shake the pan a couple of times to make sure nothing sticks. Lower the heat a little and let the potatoes brown. Season with salt and pepper.

4. After a few minutes, shake the pan and get the other sides going. When the potatoes are almost completely cooked, add the red onion and let everything cook together. Once the onions are caramelized, add the vinegar and deglaze. When the vinegar is mostly evaporated, add the extra-virgin olive oil, mustard and bacon (and reserved bacon fat if you want), re-season with lots of cracked black pepper. Serve warm.

Note: Just like last time, I think I over-cooked my potatoes a touch, which gave them a softer, more crumbly texture than the recipe intended. Guy’s recipe called for capers and red wine vinegar, but I skipped the capers and substituted apple cider vinegar, just because it felt like cider vinegar was the more traditional choice for a german potato salad.

Sweet Cornbread Stuffed Pork Chops

Friday, June 19th, 2009

Ahhh…pork week.

This is our “default” pork chop recipe. It starts with brining, which if you haven’t tried, you simply have to, right away. It’s a simple process, just requires a bit of extra time, mostly, but it makes all the difference. Brining takes plain, dry pork and turns it into the most juicy, flavorful chop you’ll ever taste. Just about every kind of pork we eat gets this same brining treatment. The sweet cornbread stuffing is just a bonus. :)

stuffed pork chop

Alton Brown’s Stuffed Grilled Pork Chops
Adapted from Good Eats

nocoupons

  • 4 double thick pork loin chops
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 2 cups cider vinegar, heated
  • 1 pound ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornbread, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries, halved
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. In a plastic container put the salt, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard powder. Add the hot vinegar and swirl to dissolve. Let mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes to develop flavor. Add ice cubes and shake to melt most of the ice. Add chops and cover with brine. Refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Remove chops from container and rinse. Cut horizontal pockets in each pork chop for stuffing. Combine rest of ingredients, and put into piping bag (or a ziploc bag with the corner cut off) that is not fitted with a tip. Pipe each chop full with cornbread mixture.

3. Grill the chops on medium high heat for 6 minutes on each side. Turn each chop 45 degrees after 3 minutes to mark.