Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Asian Style Short Ribs

My first slow cooker recipe!! If you don't have a crock pot, don't worry, you can braise this using your stove on low heat. I don't know why I've been having a craving for short ribs recently, but it's been killing me. I was at the grocery store the other day and browsed by the butcher section and they had boneless short ribs, but no bone-in. It was terribly upsetting because I thought I was finally going to get a fix for my craving. Alas, I ended up with pork and made the previous posting (Pork Tacos). Next time I went to the store, I found my bone-in short ribs and this post was created.

  • 3 lbs of Beef Short Ribs
  • 8 Baby Carrots (or about 1-1.5 full size)
  • 1 and a half Stalks of Celery
  • 1 cup (for lack of a better measurement) diced Green Onions
  • 1 medium sized root of Ginger
  • 1 can of Beef Broth
  • 1/2 cup of Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup of Rice Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of Honey
  • 1 tablespoon and a half of Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Sriracha Chile Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons of "Shake & Blend" flour or cornstarch
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Olive Oil

I am making this the night before, I will refrigerate it and then let it cook tomorrow when I am at work. There is nothing like coming home to the delicious smell of dinner with such little work involved. So let's get it started with (Most of) the ingredients for the sauce. For some reason, I had forgotten to put the honey in this picture. It might be due to the fact that I was still debating between honey and brown sugar at this point.

Start by dumping the can of beef broth into your crock pot pan.

Next add the 1/2 cup of soy sauce. It's so dark, you can barely see that I have anything in the pot now but, believe me, I do.

Follow with the rice vinegar.

Then add the hoisin sauce.

Follow with your Sriracha. I know what you're thinking, "How weird! Kenny is using Sriracha sauce. I don't think I've ever seen that before." But believe it. What would a blog post be without this stuff? I'm not a big fan of measuring this stuff because I really don't mind if a little too much slips in ;).

Next in is the five spice powder. It makes any and everything taste a little more Asian.

Now we need something to sweeten up the pot (literally). We are going with the 1/2 cup of honey so in she goes.

Get your celery, carrots, and ginger and cut them all up. They are going to help flavor our sauce. Especially the ginger. I adore the ginger in this recipe. Dice them up so they look like this, then toss them into the pot.

Take your green onions and chop them up. We are going to be working from the bottom up here as we want mostly the white part for this. Add the green onions to the pot. We will use the tops for a garnish at the end, so save those!

Next, get your short ribs out and flip them over bone-side up. I like to score the backs because I believe it helps them to break down during the cooking process. So, score the backs and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Flip your short ribs over and inspect them. If you have any silver skin (a thin, pearlescent membrane) on, you will want to remove that. It will never break down. To do so, slide your knife between the membrane and the meat. Try to get as close to the membrane as possible, as we don't want to waste meat. Then bring your knife forward cutting through until the end. You can then peel back on your loose piece and using your knife with the other hand, remove it completely. Also, if there is any excess fat, remove it now. A little bit is ok, but the large chunks have got to go.

Your ribs should look like this now. Drip a little oil on them and then lightly salt and pepper them.

Get your stove top pan as hot as humanly possible now. We want to brown the outside of the short ribs, but have no desire to cook them thoroughly right now. The best way to brown is intense heat. Do your ribs in batches, because crowding the pan cools down the pan and prevents browning. I had eight ribs, so I did it in two batches. Here's the first.

Flip over when you get a beautiful brown on the meat side. The bone side won't brown, but the membrane on the back will begin to break down, so I cook it for two minutes on the bone side as well.

Remove from heat and toss in the crock pot.

Set the crock pot on low. This will be delicious in anywhere from 6-8 hours. You really can't mess this up. I did this in the morning before work and came home to it looking like this.

I turned my crock pot on rice cooker mode, which basically starts boiling it like crazy. Then, I left the top open to help reduce the liquid. At this point, you can add your favorite thickener. I used some "Shake & Blend" flour, but cornstarch is quite acceptable. About a tablespoon, maybe two. I keep my eye on the crock pot during the reduction phase to make sure that everything is going as planned. While it's reducing, get out those green onion tops you have leftover and give them a nice chop.

Here, you can see that my sauce has reduced and thickened up a bit. This smells absolutely delicious at this point and I am ecstatic that I can finally get to eat it.

This is a dish that is best served over rice (jasmine in the picture below), you don't need anything else. This is such an easy meal, because it takes such little management and the payoff is amazing.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pork Tacos

This is a really quick and easy recipe. If you make the marinade the day before, it should take you less than 20 minutes of prep/cook time. This goes great with pork, chicken, steak or even fish. I chose pork because it was on sale at the grocery store. I got a pound and a half of boneless sirloin cut pork chops for less than $2.

  • 1 lb of Boneless Pork Chops
  • 1 package of Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Jalapeno Pepper
  • 1/4 cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 5-6 Flour Tortilla Shells
  • 1/2 of a Lime
  • 1 cup of Salsa
  • Small Handful of Cilantro
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Shredded Cheddar (or Taco) Cheese
  • Sour Cream (optional)
  • Olive Oil
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

If your pork has any excessive fat on it, go ahead and trim that now. If not, proceed to dice it up into bite size pieces. Remember this is going inside the tortila, so you don't want it to be too big.

Toss the pork chunks in a tupperware container or ziploc bag and dump the package of Taco Seasoning on top. Pour about a tablespoon of Olive Oil over the whole mess.

Add the 1/4 cup of Apple Cider vinegar. This adds a nice little tang to the taco seasoning and helps to tenderize the meat.

Add a couple (like 10) grinds of Black Pepper to the mix. Go ahead and stir this up, then throw the whole thing in the refrigerator for a minimum of an hour. The pork will greatly benefit from spending the night in your chill box, so I like to do this a full day ahead.

The day of your meal, go ahead and get your cilantro out. Take a handful and give it a rough chop.

Do the same to the jalapeno and then slice the lime in half.

Take a pan and heat it on medium-high heat with a little bit of olive oil.

Once hot, dump your pork in there, marinade and all. This will take about 5 or so minutes to cook, so our next step will be to get our tortillas nice and worm.

At this point, set your oven to 350°. Toss in your tortillas directly on the rack. This is just to get them warm, you don't want to toast them. So, keep an eye on the oven while your pork finishes.

This is what your pork should be looking like at this point. Absolutely heavenly!

When the pork is done, kill the heat. Then toss in the cilantro and stir it up.

Take half of your lime and squeeze it into the pork. Stir again.

Take the warm tortillas out of the oven and onto a plate. Throw your lettuce on top. If you think my lettuce looks funny, that's because it's my mom's mystery cabbage from the Leftover Lo Mein post.

Add the pork on top of that.

If you are adding cheese, now is the time. The warmth of the pork will melt it and make it extra delicious. If you are mildly retarded like me, you will forget that you bought cheese for this occasion until you are midway through your last taco. Add your salsa next. I highly recommend the Simple and Fresh Salsa from my previous post. Naturally, I already had some in the refrigerator.

Finally, top it with the chopped jalapeno. This gives it that special kick that all tacos deserve.

If you are adding sour cream, go ahead and do so now. I am not because I am trying to get in shape for beach season (and also because I realized I didn't have any in the refrigerator). Now go and sit down to eat yet another delicious dinner provided to you by the wonderful Internet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

BBQ Chicken Pizza

So, I just got back from a weekend getaway in North Carolina. While I was down there, I had some excellent food, however I did not have any Carolina style BBQ. The vinegar-style sauce on this pizza met my cravings for Carolina style 'Q and then some. The best thing is, I get to eat this again tomorrow. I made an extra pizza for my family so maybe this time they won't heckle me about not eating my blog's food! By the way, I kind of messed up this post a little. My camera's battery was dying during the process and while I thought I got pictures of me cooking the chicken and the bacon, apparently I had failed to do so. But I can assume that you guys know what chicken and bacon look like when the cook.

Ingredients (makes 2 pizzas):
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 pizza crusts
  • 1 bottle (18oz) bbq sauce
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 of a pound of Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • 1/3 of a red onion
  • 1 jalapeno
  • Crushed black pepper

Dice up your bacon and throw into a pan over medium heat. Add a dash of salt and pepper if so inclined.

When done cooking, take the bacon off the stove and drain on a paper towel.

Sprinkle BBQ seasoning on your chicken breasts. I used home made, but store bought is OK as well. Mine is a mix of smoked paprika, chili powder, salt, brown sugar, crushed pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and a teeny tiny bit of oregano.

Place a little oil (or that leftover bacon fat if you are as awesome as me) on a pan on medium-high and toss in the chicken breasts. Cook completely. Slice the chicken up into bite size pieces. It's OK if you eat a couple, I know I did.

Slice up the red onion.

Slice up a Jalapeno. This step is optional, but highly recommended. I love the heat. Alternatively, you can use a green/red/yellow pepper (or nothing at all if you hate peppers). I am omitting this from my family's pizza, which is why their is only one in this recipe.

Take your smoked gouda cheese and shred it.

Now for the barbecue sauce. I am using Sweet Baby Ray's, which is a thick and dark Kansas City style sauce.

For this dish, I need something a little thinner and tangy-er, so I will cut it with the apple cider vinegar.

Then I am adding a little freshly crushed black pepper for a little bite.

I bought a store-made pizza crust. I know some people will think that is cheating and I should have made my own dough, but I just got back from North Carolina today and didn't have the time. Anyways, once you are done judging me, add the BBQ sauce.

Follow with your freshly shredded gouda.

And then the chicken.

And the bacon.

And then the onions. This is really starting to look good now.

Finish with the jalapenos and take a minute to admire your work.

You did preheat your oven to 425, right? If so, go ahead and throw the pizza in and find something to do for the next 12-14 minutes while this cooks. Cooking time may vary according to your pizza crust, but when it is just about turning golden brown and the cheese has melted, it's time. It might come out looking something like this: