New Year Stew
Ringing in the new year calls for blackeyed peas, greens and pork. Oh, and that means that we must include cornbread on the side.

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A Simple Pleasure: The Turkey Sandwich

In our family we make the Thanksgiving feast again for Christmas. As I made myself a turkey sandwich from the leftovers this afternoon I pondered it and felt compelled to comment.

I find it fascinating that the simple and humble turkey sandwich is probably as beloved as the dinner from which it descends, maybe even more so. It's also interesting to me that, when discussing Thanksgiving dinner, people almost reflexively mention the leftovers. At the top of the list of leftover plans is almost always the sandwich.

Most folks like to keep theirs simple with mayo, tomato and lettuce. I like to add baby swiss to mine. As for bread, my favorite is Classic Black. It's hearty, dark brown, and slightly sweet. It's sort of like a more dense version of the rolls they serve at Outback Steakhouse.

I think that the simple turkey sandwich might just be the second best sandwich ever -- next to the Reuben, of course.

Note: Please excuse the cell phone picture.

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I double dog dare you not to laugh.



On a very serious note, let's remember the real reason for celebration and praise.



I wish you all a very merry and blessed Christmas.

John

Steak Au Poivre

This meal was inspired by a recent post at The Pioneer Woman. Ree prepared an incredible-looking Filet au Poivre that really got to me. I knew almost instantly that it was something that I just had to try.

In short, steak au poivre is a simple steak that is seared, finished in an oven, then served with an incredible pan sauce made from the fond (the tasty brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan), stock, cognac, and butter.

While I was getting ready to make this I remembered a great cookbook that I don't use nearly often enough -- Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook. Based purely on the French-ness of the recipe I thought that he would almost certainly include a recipe for this dish. I was correct.

Ree's recipe sounded great, but so did Bourdain's. He opted for a more traditional approach, but offered variations that Ree included. I decided to merge the two recipes using a flat iron steak. The results were simply incredible.

I can say in all honesty that this was the second best beef that I have ever eaten. Yes, it's really that good. I urge you to try this at your earliest possible convenience.

Ingredients
1 3/4 lb Flat iron steak (USDA choice)
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Cognac or brandy (I used brandy)
1/2 cup Heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup Water, hot
8 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
3 Tbsp Black peppercorns, cracked to a medium consistency
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp Beef base (I used Better Than Bouillon)
Kosher salt

Method
Season each side of the steak with about a teaspoon of salt.

Lightly oil both sides of the steak and coat each side with half of the crushed peppercorns.

Note: It will look like too much pepper, but just go with it.

Let the steak sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 425º

Heat a large heavy oven-safe pan (I recommend cast iron) over medium-high heat.

Add the remaining oil and half of the butter to the pan.

Sear each side of the steak until it is browned nicely.

Move the pan to the oven and cook for 10 minutes (for medium rare).

Mix the beef base and hot water well in a small bowl and set aside.

Remove the pan from the oven, move the steak to a platter, tent with foil, and let it rest.

Put the pan on a burner at medium heat.

Add the beef base and water mixture and bring just to a boil while scraping the fond (brown bits) from the bottom of the pan.

Add the mustard and cognac/brandy and continue stirring until the mustard is well-incorporated.

Add the remaining butter and heavy cream and stir to combine.

Adjust the seasoning of the sauce with salt to taste.

Reduce the heat and continue cooking the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon.

Slice the steak across the grain to about 1/4" and serve drizzled with the sauce.

I served mine with Yukon gold potatoes and yellow onion wedges that were roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

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Obama Rings?

I listen to Glenn Beck a little each week, and now they're sneaking Obama Rings into my lunch? It certainly can't be a coincidence. First we have Mary apparitions in grilled cheese, and now this?!

I'll be in the bunker eating freeze-dried lasagna with a nice cup of instant Chianti, if you need me.

Patio Daddio BBQ Sauce v6

I cannot believe that this blog is just shy of two years old and I have yet to post a barbecue sauce recipe. How lame is that?!

One of the brethren over on the BBQ Brethren site asked me for a pork sauce recipe. While this is not a pork-specific sauce, this is a great all-purpose sauce that has garnered me quite a few awards on the competition barbecue trail.

As you can see, this is version six, which is indicative of how competition recipes must evolve as you learn from your scores. It's also important that your sauce compliment your rub. This sauce is tailored to my All-Purpose BBQ Seasoning. It's the liquid love that goes with the love rub. It's all about the lurve!

Note: If you want to make this sauce more pork-specific, just double the apple cider vinegar and jack the pepper and chipotle up as your taste buds prefer.

Ingredients
12 oz Chili sauce (I use Heinz)
6 oz Tomato paste
2/3 cup Water
3/4 cup Dark brown sugar (or 1/2 cup regular sugar plus 1/4 cup molasses)
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce (I use Lea & Perrins)
1/2 cup Unrefined evaporated cane sugar
1/3 cup Apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp Yellow mustard (I use French's)
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp Granulated onion (not onion powder)
1 tsp Granulated garlic (not garlic powder)
1/2 tsp Smoked paprika
1/4 tsp Black pepper, ground fresh
1/4 tsp Ground chipotle chile
1/8 tsp Cinnamon

Method
Combine all of the ingredients in a large sauce pan.

Tip: I use the water to rinse out the chili sauce bottle.

Bring the sauce just to a boil, whisking occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about 1/4.

Remove the pan from the heat and the sauce let cool to room temperature.

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a month.

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Asian Spaghetti & Meatballs

OK, there are times when I come up with some fairly outlandish culinary creations. In this particular case I use the term "culinary" with quite a bit of artistic license. This, my fellow foodies, is in deep left field, at the warning track.

This dish is a very vivid illustration of how much I enjoy finding creative uses of leftovers. It's not a recipe, but rather, just a wild-eyed experiment that I want to share.

Sandi made sweet-and-sour meatballs for our church Christmas social this past Friday. As always, we had enough food for roughly three times as many people as showed up. Oh, and I had to bring finger sandwich fixins so that I wouldn't show up empty-handed. Food is a terrible disease.

Anyhow, we had a bunch of meatballs left and I felt compelled to use them. Sweet-and-sour meatballs are a bit if a culinary contradiction to begin with, so why not build on it? Chinese spaghetti and meatballs? Yup, I went with it.

This is nothing more than a stir-fry of cooked linguine, frozen stir-fry veggies, mushrooms, and pineapple chunks that is served with a generous portion of the sweet-and-sour meatballs on top. For the stir-fry I used peanut oil, ginger, garlic, a dash of fish sauce, and some red chile flakes. I added a little hoisin sauce at the end to add a little added flavor complexity.

It was pretty good.

BBQ Central Radio

Last night I was a guest on Greg Rempe's BBQ Central Radio program. We discussed recipe inspiration and development, and a recent torched steak experiment.

Experiment: Torched Tenderloin

Carrie Oliver, owner of Oliver Ranch, was also on to talk about her experience becoming a certified KCBS competition barbecue judge.

If you've never heard the program, I highly recommend that you peruse the podcast archives and hear what you've been missing. Greg offers the only weekly show of its kind. It is truly the best-produced live-fire cooking show available. Tune in each Tuesday and hear the show live at 9PM ET on The Barbecue Central Radio Networks.

Note: The show is also available on iTunes. Just search for "The BBQ Central Show on LA Talk Radio" (without the quotes). You can also listen to last night's show here.

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Panini-Style Muffaletta

This sandwich is my funky twist on a muffaletta. It's one of those recipes that I made up on-the-fly while doing the, "What in the world am I gonna make for dinner?" mental gymnastics on my way home from work last night. I wanted something quick and easy, yet new and interesting.

As I was parking at the store I remembered this great sandwich recipe from chef Anne Burrell. I didn't remember the entire recipe, but I did recall enough to be inspired by it. This happens to me alot. Here's how the rest of this little culinary adventure went down.

I grabbed a loaf of take & bake ciabatta and that's when I came up with the "panini-style" idea. The bread needs to be baked anyhow, so why not try something new? A panini would be great, and while I don't have a panini press, I do have a baking stone and a large cast iron griddle with a grill on the other side. Bingo! It was a true Alton Brown-esque moment.

Next I went looking for something to approximate the pepper relish that Anne used. As I scoured the shelves I saw a small jar of roasted red pepper tapanade. It looked promising (albeit expensive), so I threw it in the basket.

Cheese was on the list of needs, and while in that section I realized that I had plenty of various cheeses at home. Just as I moved along I discovered something even more interesting to replace the relish &mdash roasted red pepper pesto. "Ah yes, that's even better.", I thought.

I hit the pickle aisle because I needed something to add a vinegar twang. I grabbed a jar of mild pickled banana pepper rings. My girls dig just about anything pickled, and I thought these would add not only the needed twang, but also a great texture and another dimension of flavor.

Now I needed the meat. I am a huge fan of Boar's Head deli products. Their stuff is a little pricey, but the quality is definitely worth it. While the deli dude was slicing my tavern ham (like Black Forest, but a little sweeter with a lighter smoke), I saw the olives that I was lacking. What is a muffaletta without olives? The olive loaf was calling me. Yes, olive loaf. This is at least the third time that I've ever in my life bought olive loaf.

With all the ingredients in hand, it's time to make a stellar sandwich!

Ingredients
1 loaf (12 oz) Take & bake ciabatta bread
1/4 lb Deli ham, sliced very thin
1/4 lb Deli olive loaf, sliced very thin (or substitute mortadella)
6-8 slices Havarti, Swiss or provolone cheese
1/3 cup Roasted red pepper pesto
Pickled pepper rings to taste

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Method
Put your baking stone on the center rack of your oven, and your cast iron griddle on a lower rack.

Note: If you don't have a cast iron griddle, a large cast iron skillet will work nicely.

Preheat the oven to 400º.

Split the loaf of bread in half horizontally and press down on the internal bread of each half to compress it.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Spread half of the pesto evenly on each half of the bread.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Cover each half of the bread completely and evenly with the cheese.

Arrange the ham evenly on one half of the bread, and the olive loaf on the other.

Distribute the pepper rings evenly on one half.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Carefully close the sandwich.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Put the sandwich in the center of the baking stone.

Very carefully center the griddle on top of the sandwich.

Note: It's important that it be centered so that it doesn't slide off in one direction as the sandwich cooks. This happened to me.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Bake the sandwich for 15 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are golden brown and starting to crisp.

Panini-Style Muffaletta

Remove the sandwich to a cutting board.

Slice and enjoy!

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