Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipes. Show all posts

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Individual 4-layer Baked Ziti Recipe

Looking for an easy meal with an elegant touch? Then try this individual baked ziti recipe. In using ramekin dishes, you can easily manage portion sizes for your guests.

This easy recipe takes about 45 total minutes to prepare and includes 4 layers, top to bottom:


* Mozzarella cheese

* Ricotta with minced shallots and fresh basil

* Ground beef, veal and pork, cooked with minced shallots and garlic

* Pasta in your choice of red sauce


* Recipe yields 6 servings 


* 1 box of dried pasta or fresh pasta such as ziti, rigatoni, or penne

* Approximately 16 ounces of your favorite homemade red sauce, or a store-bought sauce to your liking

* 1/3 lb ground beef

* 1/3 lb ground veal

* 1/3 lb ground pork

* 3 large shallots

* 5 cloves garlic 

* 1 cup chopped fresh basil

* 1/4 cup chopped chives

* 1 tsp liquid smoke

* 2 tbsp butter

* 16 ounces ricotta cheese

* 24 ounces mozzarella cheese


Preheat the oven to 350F


* Choose your pasta of taste such as ziti, penne, or rigatoni and prepare. 

While the pasta is cooking…

Meat Layer:

* Cut 2 shallots and garlic

* In a large pan, sauté shallots and garlic in olive oil, adding a pinch of salt and pepper

* Add meat and continue on medium heat

* Add liquid smoke and season meat to taste with salt, pepper. Consider a pinch of smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano.

* Add chives and butter and melt butter

* Add 1.5 cups of the red sauce and reduce the liquid on a simmer

Ricotta Layer:

* In a medium mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese with shallot, the cut basil, salt and pepper to taste.


* Drain the pasta and return to the pot

* Using a strainer, pour any liquid remaining from the meat pan into the pasta pot

* Add a handful of mozzarella cheese and stir 

* Mix in the red sauce. If you are using a store-bought sauce, I recommend Raos Homemade Vodka Sauce.

* Add a layer of pasta to each ramekin about 1/3 high

* With a small spoon, add a layer of the cooked meat mixture, roughly 1/3 high, leaving the last 1/3 for the cheese 

* Spoon a layer of ricotta into each, leaving about 1 centimeter space for the mozzarella 

* Add mozzarella to the top

* Season the top layer mozzarella 


* Place the 6 ramekin dishes on a tray and cook until mozzarella is fully melted and there is a light brown crust around the sides, approximately 30-45 minutes

Serve hot or let cool and reheat in the oven later before serving.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Recipe: Tapa al Antonio from Mediterraneao

I used to live in Hermosa Beach, CA, back from 2004-2008. With all the pleasures of beach life in this beautiful coastal town, the excellent cuisine was one of the largest sources of joy for me. And at the center of that culinary experience for me, was the restaurant Mediterraneo. recreation of Tapa al Antonio from Mediterraneao in Hermosa Beach, CA

Mediterraneo was a tapas restaurant that specialized in exactly what the name would say: Mediterranean cuisine. They had a well managed menu with select items covering the entire Mediterranean region including typical Spanish tapas, as well as small plates from around the region such as Greek and Middle Eastern fare.

But it was a single Italian dish that was at the top of my list for each weekly visit: Tapa al Antonio. This dish was a simple one of  3 seated scallops, each topped with a shrimp, and served in a shallow pool of one of the best pink sauces ever created. 

The seafood was fantastic. But it was the sauce that was the star of the show. The hardest part of waiting for the dish to arrive was having to set aside the focaccia bread, knowing it was a necessary vehicle to make the Tapa al Antonio the perfect meal.

This sauce from Mediterraneao was so exquisite, that an extra order of bread was a requirement.

Some of my best memories of my time in Hermosa Beach, CA were my visits to Mediterraneao. And I will never forget this dish…especially when I’ve witnessed friends of mine literally pick up the plate and lap the sauce up like kittens.

Below you will find my tribute to the Tapa al Antonio from Mediterraneao. I’ve tested this recipe countless times and it’s always perfect. It’s quick, simple, and wonderful. 


  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 55 mins


Scallops and Shrimp:

  • 3-4 medium scallops per person
  • 3-4 large shrimp per person
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Pink Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 5 cups whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil
  • 1.5 cups cream
  • Fresh black pepper


Pink Sauce:

  • Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauce pan
  • Add garlic and onions and cook until soft for 5 minutes
  • Add red pepper flakes
  • Stir in tomatoes and vodka, cook for 7 minutes
  • Add salt and black pepper
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes
  • Once sauce has been reduced, let sit for a few minutes
  • Transfer sauce to a food processor or blender
  • Add fresh basil
  • Purée until smooth
  • Return sauce to the pan
  • Add cream and stir
  • Cook until warmed through
  • For use with a pasta side dish, top pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese

Scallops and Shrimp:


  • Salt the seafood and grill just long enough to sear 
  • Add black pepper


  • Salt and pepper the seafood
  • Add olive oil to pan at medium to high heat 
  • Add seafood and sear for 1-2 minutes on each side 


  • Add a 1/2 inch layer of sauce to each plate 
  • Add the scallops
  • Top each scallop with a shrimp
  • Ideal plating would be a smaller plate to serve as a tapa
  • I garnish with fresh basil flowers

Recommend Side Dishes/Additional Tapas:

  • Always serve fresh, warm bread (focaccia or ciabatta) sliced into 1 inch wide strips from dipping into the sauce!
  • Penne with the sauce, topped with freshly grated Parmesan 
  • Gnocchi with sauce, topped with freshly grated Parmesan
  • Grilled zucchini 
  • Sautéed spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins 

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon - Recipe

Beef Burgundy is one of my favorite comfort foods. And I've found there is no better way to prepare it than in a slow cooker. The slow-cooking process keeps all the flavor in the meat resulting in a tender and succulent meat stew.

Here is an easy recipe that requires a slow cooker and a single skillet or pan, which combines the flavors of tasty beef, bacon and vegetables.


  • 1 lb. bacon (diced)
  • 3 pounds beef chuck roast cut into 1.5-inch cubes
  • 3 cups red Bordeaux wine
  • 2 large onions (sliced)
  • 3 medium carrots (diced)
  • 3 medium celery stalks (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon cut thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Rosemary branch
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • 6


  1. Cut the bacon and put in a large pan/skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Cook the bacon until golden brown
  3. Cut the beef into 1.5 inch chunks and season with salt and pepper
  4. When the bacon is cooked, remove and place aside for later...saving some of the bacon fat in the pan/skillet.
  5. Cook the beef in the skillet with bacon fat until it is browned, roughly 2 minutes per side.
  6. Transfer the cooked beef to the slow cooker
  7. In the skillet, add 1/2 cup of red wine and bring to a simmer
  8. With some of the additional bacon fat, add the onions and salt to taste to the pan
  9. Cook the onions while constantly stirring until browned, for approximately 7 minutes
  10. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another 5 minutes
  11. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute
  12. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the slow cooker
  13. Add butter to the pan along with the mushroom and salt to taste
  14. Add 1/4 red wine to the mushrooms and cook for approximately 8 minutes
  15. Remove the mushrooms and set aside
  16. In the slow cooker, add a teaspoon of salt, bay leaf, thyme, and beef broth
  17. Place the rosemary branch on top of the beef and vegetable mixture
  18. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or until the beef is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.
  19. Add the bacon and mushrooms to the top of the beef and vegetables and cook until warm.
  20. Serve in bowls with a homemade roasted garlic smashed potatoes

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sweet Baby Rays Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs - Recipe

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs

You have a slow cooker and use it to make all sorts of things like savory chicken, pot roast and stews. But did you know you can also prepare juicy, tender, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs with it?

This recipe takes just minutes to prepare as the slow cooker does the rest of the work for you.

The ingredients are fairly simple, with a dry rub prepared for the ribs which are then cooked with a mixture of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce and Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.

The combination of the liquid smoke and the smoked paprika give these ribs a smokey flavor without the need for a grill or smoker!

Slow Cooker Baby Bak Ribs Recipe
Slow Cooker Baby Bak Ribs Recipe

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs Ingredients:

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 3/4 cup stout beer (Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout)
  • 1 (18 ounce) bottle of Sweet Baby Rays BBQ Sauce

Sweet Baby Rays Slow Cooker Ribs

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs with Rosemary & Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Baked Mac & Cheese
Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs with Rosemary & Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Baked Mac & Cheese

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs Recipe:

  1. In a small bowl, make the dry rub by combining the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion power, black pepper and salt

  2. Remove the membrane from the back of the ribs

  3. Apply the dry rub evenly to both sides of the ribs. Save about 1 tsp. of the dry rub for later.

  4. Cut the (2) racks in half to create 4 even sized smaller racks

  5. Pour the beer into the slow cooker

  6. Add the liquid smoke

  7. Insert the 4 rib rack halves upright in the slow cooker if unit is 3.5 litters; insert the ribs flat for a larger liter unit

  8. Add the onions and garlic on top of the ribs

  9. Add the Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce atop the ribs

  10. Cover the slow cooker

  11. Cook on low for 8 hours (4 hours on high for less tender ribs)

  12. Optional: If cooking for 8 hours in a 3.5 liter slow cooker, flip the upright ribs over so that the uncovered sides are on the bottom to cook for the remaining 4 hours

  13. Optional: 15 minutes before serving, remove 1/2 cup of the cooked juice and place in a bowl to cool. The addition of the pork fat will make the sauce more thinner, so letting it cool and congeal for 15 minutes will allow the sauce the thicken for use.
  14. Before serving, sprinkle a pinch or so of the remaining dry rub atop the ribs

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Bacon Jam Recipe

On a recent trip to Iowa, I found myself falling head over heels for this tasty bacon concoction. It's really quite simple: it's bacon, onions, sugar and maple syrup cooked down into a tasty jam. 

Whether you're using in as a topping for cheese and crackers or as a way to add some extra flavor to mac' and cheese or a burger, bacon jam is something every bacon fan needs to try. 
It's so easy to make, there's no reason why you can't cook bacon jam today. Below is a proven recipe that will knock your socks off!

Bacon Jam Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. bacon (finely cut into 1/4 inch squares)
  • 8 shallots (minced or pureed for a creamier texture)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup sweet white wine
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

Bacon Jam Cooking Directions:

  1. Cut the bacon into small pieces, into approximately 1/4 inch squares. Cook on medium heat in a saucepan until fully cooked. Remove the cooked bacon and set aside, while keeping the remaining bacon grease in the saucepan.

  2. This recipe will use pureed shallots in a food processor versus minced. The shallot puree provides a creamier texture to the jam as the base, so that the only remaining solid ingredients in the completed bacon jam is the bacon itself, along with the finely minced garlic.

    In the saucepan with the remaining bacon grease, cook the shallot puree, constantly stirring for 15-20 minutes until fully cooked. If you are using minced shallots, then cook until caramelized.

  3. Add in the garlic about 5 minutes before the shallots are complete cook at the medium heat

  4. Mix in the cooked bacon, brown sugar, white wine (I use a sweet Late Harvest Chilean white wine), chili powder, liquid smoke and maple syrup.

  5. Bring the heat to low and cook until the bacon jam has thickened and the liquid has been reduced. Cooking time will be approximately 5-10 minutes depending on what texture you are looking for.

  6. Let cool for jarring or use it warm as the perfect topping for mac' and cheese, burgers, bagels or crackers.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Home Cooking: Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms in White Wine Sauce

Monday, July 2, 2012

4th of July Recipes for the Expat in Chile

For the U.S. expat now living in Chile, here are some food ideas to consider. In fact, no matter where you're living, here are some recipes to consider, to sample some different culinary regions of United States on July 4th.

It's also worth noting that this is my first contribution to So have a look and check back in the future for new articles.

Celebrating July 4th in Chile:

If you’re an expat from the United States now living in Chile, there’s no reason you can’t celebrate the 4th of July with all the same culinary comforts from your memories of living in the US.  You can even find many of the products you’re accustomed to having at your holiday celebration at local stores such as Lider and Jumbo. So, if you’re living in Chile and looking for some ideas of what to cook, allow us to provide you with some recipes from around the United States.  Whether you’re willing to brave the colder weather with outdoor grilling or choose to do your cooking indoors, we have some options for you!

Read more:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Home Cookin': Cranberry Ice Cream & Cranberry Cheesecake

Cranberry season is here for many. This means you'll find a few places with some cranberry muffins on the menu, but for the most part, it's still Thanksgiving cranberry sauce that will be the primary time you'll eat the tasty tart berry.

But if you're a big fan of the cranberry, there are a few other creative things you can do with them.

Or course there are muffins and various cakes and breads you can use them with. But you can also use them to make a tasty and unique ice cream flavor.

In fact, it's a great way to use any leftover cranberry sauce you make for Thanksgiving. When making a home made vanilla ice cream, just include a desired amount of your homemade cranberry sauce into the ice cream ingredients. The result is a sweet ice cream with all the berry flavor and a hint of tartness.

Cranberry Ice Cream

The same sauce is also a great topping for cheesecake, a nice alternative to strawberries, raspberrys, blueberries, chocolate, etc.

Cranberry Cheesecake

Friday, September 16, 2011

Home Cookin': Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

For the past few weeks, I've read countless Facebook & Twitter mentions of peoples excitement over the autumn season arrival of "pumpkin spice lattes" at Starbuck's, etc. A normal reaction. But what I found strange was that it seems that there was a common belief that that a pumpkin spice latte is like a Haley's-type comet every few months or something else that is out of grasp the rest of the year.

I too am part of the group that fully enjoy the wonder that is a pumpkin spice latte. And it's the same feeling I have for things like pumpkin pie, my homemade pumpkin ice cream and just about anything pumpkin.

But for a cup of coffee, one doesn't have to wait for the Fall season to enjoy the tasty beverage.

You'd be surprised if you knew how simple the recipes were for the large coffee locations people are used to going to to get a pumpkin spice latte, such as Starbuck's, Pete's, etc.

So here's the skinny: You can do it yourself any time of the year...with relative or total ease.

Here are a few quick recipes:

The Anytime & Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte:
All you'll need is to buy some Pumpkin Pie Spice. That's it.
Make your normal cup of coffee with milk or cream, and when you stir in the sugar, include a few dashes of pumpkin pie spice. You'll be amazed how similar it will taste to the more expensive store bought version. This is because Pumpkin Pie Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger) is the basis for most of the restaurants offering the drink. You can also "spice" things up a bit by including a few dashes in the espresso or coffee grinds prior to making the actual espresso or coffee.

Pumpkin Spice Latte with Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup:
There's a great product by Torani that offers the tasty mixture that provides the flavor you seek in liquid syrup form. Just make your coffee as usual, and add a teaspoon of the syrup and add sugar to taste.

Cooked Pumpkin Spice Latte with Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup:

1 teaspoon of Torani Pumpkin Spice Syrup
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups milk
1-2 shots espresso or strong coffee
Combine milk, syrup and sugar and cook on medium heat and stir until steaming.
Remove from heat
Add and stir in vanilla and spice
Add the espresso

Cooked Pumpkin Spice Latte with Canned Pumpkin:
1 teaspoon of canned pumpkin
1-2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 cups milk
1-2 shots espresso or strong coffee
Combine milk, syrup and sugar and cook on medium heat and stir until steaming.
Remove from heat
Add and stir in vanilla and spice
Put mixture in a blender/shaker/or whisk
Add the espresso

So there you go. Real easy options. For me, I don't ever make a latte without including a dash of pumpkin pie spice in with the dry espresso, and then 2 dashes added to the latte at the end.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Home Cookin': Seared Chicken with Creole Sauce & Maque Choux

Growing up in the United States and of French descent, I ate a lot of cajun and creole food. So when I was cooking for a Chilean friend of mine this past week here in Buenos Aires, it seemed like a good type of food to prepare for them...since unlike the Argentinians here, Chileans actually like food with a little spice.

The dish is fairly simple: seared chicken breast with a spicy creole sauce on a bed of brown rice, served with a side dish of maque choux.

Home Cookin': Chicken breast seared in garlic and white wine, topped with spicy butter creole sauce on shallot brown rice. Side dish of smoked BBQ maque choux.

The recipe is fairly simple. It's two chicken breasts marinated in a mixture of 5 cloves of chopped garlic, pinch of salt, black pepper, pinch of cayenne, and white wine. Sear the chicken in whole breasts and then slice to serve for presentation.

The creole sauce is very simple as well. Heat and sweat about 1/2 cup of onions and 12 cup of celery in olive oil with about 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder. Add 3 diced tomatoes, a teaspoon of hot sauce (I used chipolte Tabasco) and a pinch of sugar. Add salt and more black pepper to taste. To give it a better texture to serve as a sauce topping, I did not overcook the tomatoes as I would if making an actual creole, so the tomatoes retained more firmness. And to finish off the sauce, I added butter at the end to give it a creamier flavor.

For the maque choux, there are a number of different ways to prepare this. As I wanted a smokier BBQ flavor, I cooked onions and a BBQ chorizo the day before in a pan with 1 can of stewed tomatoes. Once it cooled, I then placed in the refrigerator overnight to get the fat to congeal. The maque choux was then simple: 2 cups worth of corn, sauteed with 1 cup red bell pepper, 1 cup green bell pepper, and 1/2 cup of diced red onion and 1/2 cup green onion bottoms sauteed in 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Then add a few drops of liquid smoke and the congealed pork fat (bacon fat is often used but I wanted the flavor of the chorizo this time) and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter and stir.

And that's it.

Even better though was the next day when left with a cup of maque choux, a cup of brown rice, and a cup of the creole sauce, and 1 uncooked chicken breast. What's a person to do? Easy, cut and sauteed the chicken in one pan (I opted for larger pieces, but cubes is a more common option), while cooking the maque choux and creole sauce in a separate pan. Add a bit more chili powder to the creole and cook. Then add the chicken, stir, and serve.

And now you have yourself a tasty Chicken & Corn Creole:
Home Cookin': Chicken & Corn Creole

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Southern BBQ Pulled Pork Empanadas, Shepard's Pie Empanadas, Pizza Burger Empanadas & more

Southern BBQ Pulled Pork empanadas
Shepard's Pie empanadas
BBQ Pulled Chicken empanadas
Pizza Burger empanadas
BBQ Tri meat: pulled pork, chicken, beef

Gourmet Empanadas (cooked)
One of the luxuries of staying at an apartment for a vacation, is the option for home cooking while in a new city. After 5 nights of great restaurants in Santiago, Chile, last night was prime time for some homemade gourmet empanadas.

I've never quite understood how in the empanada eating culture, the options are always so limited. Perhaps it's due to the prevalence of the tasty filled treat in Argentina, where culinary variety is not something the natives find to be of importance. But in the culture of cooking empanadas at home, the empanada could be the greatest invention to "left overs".

Of course, in Argentina, one can scour the refrigerator section of their local supermercado and find rows and rows of "ready made" empanada crusts. In the US, etc, one can save some time with a "ready made" pie crust. Oddly, in Santiago, where the empanadas are a bit larger and just as popular, the only option last night was to make our own empanadas shells...which was well worth it. No need for short-cuts.

Southern BBQ Pulled Pork Empanada:
It's pretty basic: take the USA BBQ favorite of slow roasted or smoked pork shoulder, hand separate the meat, and combine with a tasty BBQ sauce. We topped the meat off with some sauteed and delicate onions.

BBQ Pulled Pork Empanada (before)

BBQ Pulled Pork Empanada (cooked)

Shepard's Pie Empanada:
The "carne" empanada is one of the more popular options around the world. Whether it's "sauve" or "picante", the real hit-or-miss factor can often be in the texture of the meat used. When the meat is in a paste form, it's usually a strikeout. If you're fortunate enough to get one with large hand cut chunks of beef, it can be good...depending on how long the meat has been sitting out. The most tasty beef empanadas I've had are usually the most simple: a light sautee of ground beef with some onion, hard boiled, egg, etc.

But as a child growing up eating Hachis Parmentier, a French Shepard’s Pie, and being a fan of both carne and various potato empnadas, it's certainly time for an empanada form of the classic pie that combines them both.

Shepard's Pie empanada (before)
This is one of those empanada types that allows for all sorts of flexibility. We opted for the simple approach: garlic mashed potatoes, with peppered sauteed beef & grilled diced onions, topped with a few sauteed onion strips. It's also a great way to work in vegetables like corn, carrots, peas, etc as another layer.

Shepard's Pie empanada (cooked)

Pizza Burger Empanada:
Like the late-night diner food, but in empanada form. Parents used to buying snacks for their kids, or high school and college kids with limited cooking skills would think of this as a gourmet "hot pocket".

We tried two versions. One was more of a burger form, with a mini beef patty, topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The other version we mixed together sauteed beef, diced mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Empanada:
Very similar to the pork version above. Pulled chicken meat, mixed with BBQ sauce and wrapped up. This is more similar to the classic "pollo" empanada, but with BBQ sauce as the sauce base.

Tri-Meat BBQ Empanada:
This one was made like a Neapolitan ice cream in presentation, but with meat: BBQ pork, BBQ Chicken, BBQ Beef, each one mixed in BBQ sauce and placed in a column, and topped with sauteed onions.

Since you can rarely find new and fun options for empanadas at restaurants, there's always the option to try something new at home on your own.

Feel free to share your empanada concoctions here, any photos, links, etc too, and I'll add them here!

Monday, February 21, 2011

BBQ Gnocchi & Pulled Pork

This recipe will likely be what I'm ultimately remembered for. Any other accomplishment will likely be shadowed by the pairing of American BBQ with the tasty gnocchi ;). Give it a try and let me know if you like it!

BBQ Gnocchi with Pulled Pork

BBQ Gnocchi as a side dish with maque choux and BBQ chicken

Two months ago, I wrote about a dish I enjoy, BBQ Spaghetti. Many in the south know about it, mostly in the Memphis and northern Mississippi region. But it hasn't really picked up as much in the rest of the country. In fact, I can't recall seeing it on a regular menu at a BBQ joint outside that region, only as a special on occasion.

Whether I'm cooking BBQ on my own, or visiting a BBQ joint, I always prefer some sort of potato side dish. At home, that always means roasted garlic red mashed potatoes, along with a vegetable as the second side (grilled zucchini). At times, it might be a bean dish of some sort as the second side.

But my interest in BBQ Spaghetti got me to think of perhaps an even better pairing...

By swapping spaghetti for gnocchi, I could have my cake and eat it too: a potato pasta!

So here are two different ways to enjoy this tasty dish:

Pulled Pork & BBQ Gnocchi:

BBQ Gnocchi with Pulled Pork
Here's I used sweet and tender rib meat, but traditional pork shoulder used for pulled pork will work just as well.

1) Prepare the pork as you see fit, either rib meat or pork shoulder. If you have the many hours to smoke the meat correctly, go for it.
Shortcut: If you're using left-over pork, that will work fine too.

2) Make the gnocchi.

Gnocchi is an easy pasta to make on your own.
- Just take 1 pound of potatoes and boil until soft.
- in a separate pot, boil enough water to eventually cook the gnocchi
- Once the potatoes are complete, peel and set aside.
- Mash the potatoes
- in a mixing bowl or on a pasta board, combine the potatoes with 1/2 cup of flour.
- Add a pinch of salt, pinch of onion powder, pinch of garlic powder, small pinch of cayenne
- add about half an egg to the mix/pasta well
- knead until you have a dough ball
- cut pieces and form into the desired shapes, roughly 1/2 inch to an inch in size
- set aside

Shortcut: if you don't feel like making the gnocchi from scratch, you can always just buy pre-made gnocchi.

Alternative: sweet potato gnocchi is a perfect alternative...perhaps even the preferred choice.

3) Make your gnocchi sauce:
This will be a combination of ingredients to make along with your BBQ sauce choice. I'll pass on providing a BBQ sauce recipe and just assume most people trying this at home will be using a bottled sauce. No judgement will be passed if you opt to do that ;).

- Dice 1 cup of onion, 1 cup of red bell pepper, 1 cup of green pepper
- mince 4-5 garlic cloves to give you about a tablespoon of garlic. You can also opt to roast the 5 cloves of garlic and add them later in the process.
- in a sauce pan, heat up 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté the garlic and onion.
- add the peppers to the sauce pan
- add a teaspoon of salt, and ground black pepper to taste
- reduce the heat and cover so that the onions start to caramelize and the peppers soften.

4) Finishing the Sauce:
Whether you've prepared your own BBQ sauce or using a bottled sauce, follow the same steps.
- remove the diced and sautéed mixture from heat
- add about a cup of BBQ sauce for starters
- mix all ingredients in the pan, cover, and let sit.

5) Cooking the Gnocchi:
At this time, you'll want to add the gnocchi to the boiling water. Cook for about a minute and place in an ice bath.

6) Putting it all together:
- In the empty pot you used to boil the gnochi, you can now add the completed sauce from the sauce pan.
- Now add the meat and the gnocchi and gently mix as to not damage the gnocchi, but to be sure to complete cover each one with sauce.
- If the gnocchi and BBQ pork mixture is too lightly covered in BBQ sauce, you can always add more BBQ sauce from your own recipe or bottle you're using.

Plate, eat, and enjoy.

BBQ Chicken with BBQ Gnocchi and Marque Choux

In addition to the recipe above where the primary meal is the BBQ Gnocchi, you can also enjoy it as a side dish. Just follow the same steps above to prepare the gnocchi and the sauce. Then just add it as a side dish to whatever BBQ meal you have in mind. Below is an example with a BBQ chicken breast along with maque choux as a side dish.

The 3 item combination might have been even better with collard greens, green beans or grilled zuchinni to add a little green to the dish.

And prepared on it's own, it's a vegetarian BBQ option too.

BBQ gnocchi as a side dish with BBQ chicken and marque choux

Monday, January 3, 2011

BBQ Spaghetti

When most people think of American BBQ, it's usually just pulled pork, pork and beef ribs, brisket and perhaps chicken that come to memory. But as BBQ fans know, each region of the country has it's own style of preparation as well as sauces.

And in the Memphis region, BBQ has no limits.

Known primarily for it's preparation style for ribs (slow cooked, smoked, with a dry rub instead of sauce). But it's also the home to some unique takes on BBQ. In Memphis and northwest Mississippi, you will often see "BBQ Spaghetti" on the menu...something you will rarely see in other areas of the country.

There are a number of ways to prepare the dish. For my own version, I keep the sauce light, so the flavor of the spices comes out better.

Here's a basic recipe to use as a starting point:

This is a dish that for me best utilizes any left over BBQ pork from earlier in the day, or a day before.

* Prepare a small amount of your own spice mixture that you prefer with your BBQ. For me, this is my own dry rub I use to prepare ribs. No need to share secrets here...each person has their own method.

* Cook/heat the pork in your BBQ or an oven, preserving any juices that are retained. you can also do a quick reheat in a pan on the stove.

* Cook the spaghetti with the amount of salt you prefer during boiling (best if you make your own pasta rather than store bought)

* In a sauce pan, cook some diced onion in a light amount of cooking oil. For each pound of spaghetti you are cooking, you should have 1/2 cup of onion. So if cooking a 1 lb box of spaghetti, you'll want 1/2 cup of onion. Green and/or Red Bell Peppers are an optional ingredient you can include).

* When the onions start to caramelize, add sugar to taste (1/2 in size of the amount of onion you're using).

* Add your own pre-prepared BBQ sauce and any liquid smoke you want added.

* Strain the spaghetti and rinse off the startch

* Place the spaghetti in a mixing bowl

* For my own take, I then add the dry rub to the spaghetti, so that each piece of pasta has a nice dusting of the dry rub flavor

* Next add the sauce you prepared from the stove and mix with the spaghetti

* Strain and of the cooked pork juice in the mixing bowl and stir again

* Either serve and top with the cooked pork or add the pork in the mixing bowl, stir, and serve.

It's that easy. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Home Cooking: 4th of July Buffalo Burger

Grade A American buffalo meat, topped with California sweet onions with Boston lettuce, red and purple potato chips and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat lager.

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