This is one of my husbands favorite side dishes, they're hearty and salty and crispy and awesome and best of all they are super easy. Sometimes I use thyme, sometimes I use rosemary, but using fresh herbs really does make all the difference.
1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
3 TBS olive oil
1TBS coarse salt
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBS coarse grain mustard
1 TBS rosemary or thyme, chopped
1 TSP ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Mix all of your ingredients except the potatoes until well blended, fold in the potatoes and until they're covered. Spread the potatoes out on a baking sheet covered with wax paper and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes and flip them with a spatula. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork and have a golden crust. Sprinkle extra coarse salt and serve warm.
Smoked Baby Back Ribs
OOH BABY WE'RE SMOKIN! I love smoked meat and I am constantly experimenting with different kinds of wood and, rubs, marinades and sauces. Smoking generally means that you're cooking meat at a low temperature with indirect heat. You want to keep your temperature ideally between 225-250 F for as long as it takes until the meat you're working with is tender, for ribs I give them about 8 hours and trust me, they're worth the wait.
2 racks of baby back ribs, trimmed and silver skin removed (if you don't know how, ask your butcher to do it for you)
The night before smoking, I paper towel dry the ribs and massage my BBQ seasoning all over before putting them back in the fridge overnight, boneside down. In the morning I heat up some charcoal in a charcoal chimney and pour them into the smoke box when they're white-hot. Next I'll add 2 or 3 (depending on the size) soaked oak or pecan logs as well as two handfuls of soaked hickory chips. When the smoke starts to heat up and the chamber gets to temperature I add the tray of ribs to the furthest corner away from the smokebox and leave them. DON'T OPEN THE CHAMBER UNLESS YOUR SMOKER IS GETTING TOO HOT. Trust me, I know, when someone tells me not to peek it's all I can think about doing but trust and believe, your ribs are fine, leave them alone goddamnit! Keep an eye on your temperature and your smokebox, feel free to open that as much as you'd like to keep your smoke/temp ratio in order. I put new soaked hickory chips on every hour and I replace the logs as they burn up, it's about every 2 hours depending on the size you're working with that day. I will also add new hot coals 1-2 times when the temperature starts to dip. Now LADIES: if your husband or male friends are anything like mine, they all believe they have a magic power or inherent knowledge of fire-building/tending but guess what? They don't. However, this is a great beer drinking busy-work activity in the late afternoon when people start coming over to eat so if you're busy getting other things ready, go ahead and throw them a bone and let them futz with the fire. GENTLEMEN: you were born to build fire, this is your true calling. It's time to crack open a beer and take this way too seriously and to argue with a friend about how to position and angle logs catch fire. When the ribs have been on for about 7 hrs, check them to see if the meat is shrinking away from the bone and are feeling tender. If that's happening on schedule, slather them in warm BBQ sauce and cover the tray with aluminum foil for another 45 minutes. Let them rest a spell when you take them off then cut them down between the bones and serve.
Smoked/Grilled BBQ Chicken
Smoked chicken is outstanding, but so is grilled chicken and they're both perfect for a BBQ. A tip for this recipe, spend more on a really high quality chicken, especially if you're having a party. Stand the chicken upright and cut along either side of its spine, then crack the breast and remove the cartilage between the breasts so that you can lay your chicken flat. Store it in a pan after seasoning it with Utilitarian BBQ Spice Rub. Throw it on the smoker for at least an hour and a half and use a thermometer to ensure that you've reached a safe level of 165 F and let it rest. I prefer to put my chicken directly over the coals/wood in my smoke box and weigh it down with the pan I was refrigerating it in with a brick in it to help flatten the chicken against the grates. Allow your chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving into it so that the meat will retain its juices.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Brussel Sprouts are delicious. This is not a new thought, they have been one of the hottest menu items in pretty much every trendy restaurant for the past two years. I think people used to hate on these tasty lil green gems because people were steaming them, seasoning them incorrectly and generally not bringing out the potential of these fabulous veggie candies. Get on the bandwagon, people! Brussel sprouts are delicious and here to stay, roast them with oil, high heat and lots of salt. My favorite part is eating the little burnt loose leaves and since I'm cooking them, I get first dibs. It pays to be the chef!
1 lb brussel sprouts, outer leaves removed and halved
2-3 TBSP olive oil
3 slices bacon diced or 1/2 cup diced pancetta
1/2 tsp salt
sprinkle of garlic salt
Preheat the oven at 400 F. After trimming the sprouts, mix all ingredients well in a bowl and spread out on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper and roast for 15 minutes, flip and roast for another 15-20 minutes. Taste for salt and serve warm.
BBQ Party Beans
These baked beans are famous in my family for, what else? Parties! In the summertime, friends expect us to have them, we are expected to bring them, it's safe to say it's a summer staple. It's also a great recipe to make early in the day, you can let it cook low and slow and serve it in the same dish you cooked it in-is that convenient or what? My mother has a beautiful old ceramic casserole that she cooks hers in, I use a Le Creuset Bean Pot that I received as a wedding gift, but any casserole with a fitted lid will do nicely. Remember, this recipe can be approximate if you want to add/subtract beans or other ingredients, you can also make it gluten free by using GF bacon and it can be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon altogether. Have fun with it, for goodness sake they're PARTY beans! Now go get your party beans on!
1 lb Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can Black Beans, drained and rinse
1 15 oz can Baked Beans
3 large clove garlic, chopped
1 large yellow onion, chopped
8 oz bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups Ketchup
6 TBSP maple syrup
6 TBSP Dark Molasses
1/4 cup Worcestershire
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
Set oven temperature to 300 F. Sautee bacon at medium heat until lightly browned and crisp, with a slotted spoon remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towel. Sautee onions in the bacon fat until soft and translucent, add garlic for the last minute and turn off the heat. Add all ingredients to casserole and stir, place in oven for at least three hours.
Meyer Lemon Bars
The time has come for me to use my Improved Meyer Lemon Curd and I can't wait to taste it! Lemon bars a summer favorite and pretty easy to whip up, especially if you have curd in your pantry. This is a great reason to keep canning, people! It makes tasks so simple when you're in a pinch.
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup flour, sifted
1/4 TSP salt
Preheat the oven at 350 F. Cream the butter and sugar with the paddle of your KitchenAid Mixer until light in color before slowly adding flour and salt. Press evenly with your fingers into a 9 x13 inch baking dish and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to harden and chill. Remove and prick all over with a fork and bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Pour lemon curd into the pan and bake for another 30 minutes. Let it cool fully and chill, only then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Sunday French Toast
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday-what a perfect day for a late breakfast and hot coffee. This is a great recipe for bread that is about to be stale, wheat bread, white bread anything-you-like-bread! Brioche is especially fabulous. Fry up some bacon and turn up the Van Morrison and lean into a lazy Sunday.
4 slices bread
3/4 cup milk
2 TBSP maple syrup
1/2 TSP vanilla extract
Pinch of Nutmeg
4 TBPS butter
Preheat Oven 200 F. Whisk together all wet ingredients well and soak bread slices. Heat a skillet medium-low heat and add a TBSP butter to the pan before placing soaked bread slice in pan to lightly brown. Flip and lightly brown the other side and place finished toast in the oven on a platter to keep warm while making the rest. Serve with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar and fresh berries and maple syrup.
Improved Meyer Lemon Preserve
LEMON PRESERVES (makes 1 2L jar) from “In the Charcuterie” by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller
-5 Improved Meyer Lemons
-7 black peppercorns
-2 whole allspice
-1 bay leaf
-10 whole cloves
-1 cinnamon stick
-1 Tbsp salt
Standing the lemon end to end, cut an X halfway down the lemon and sprinkle inside the cuts generously with salt. Add all the ingredients to the jar, they will not necessarily fit, just rest a heavy plate on top of the last lemon overnight on the counter. In the morning, if the brine doesn’t cover the top of the lemons, add more lemon juice. Add the lid and keep in the refrigerator for 6 months. When using, rinse the lemon, the chopped rind is great in sauces and stuffings, try adding some of the pulp to your next marinade.
BBQ Pulled Pork
Pulled Pork is delicious, cheap and it can can be made a lot of different ways. Today's recipe is a super stripped down and delicious CrockPot concoction that will feed a crowd for less $$$ and you can set it and forget it in the morning with one less thing to think about for your party.
The night before you start your pulled pork, season it all over with BBQ spice rub and let it sit. In the morning drop your pork in your crock pot with your pepper, onion and garlic and add your liquid smoke. Fill the container about 3/4 full of water and let it sit for 8 hours, flipping the pork sometime about halfway through the cooking process. When the pork is done, slide the bone out and tear apart with the forks. Serve plain or with your favorite (warm) BBQ sauce with buns, raw onion, sliced jalapenos, pickles and coleslaw.
Utilitarian BBQ Spice Rub
BBQ is not an exact science, so feel free to play it fast and loose with your BBQ spice rubs. If you're just starting out, here is a good spice mixture to start with, give it a try and adjust it for whatever you wish you were tasting more of in your BBQ. I like to keep empty spice jars and repurpose them for my own concoctions, or you can keep yours in a Ziploc bag. Tie a cute ribbon around the lid of a jar and they make great gifts in the summertime (anyone else thinking about Father's Day?)
3 TBSP Smoked Salt (next time you're smoking meat, buy a small aluminum tray and pour a box of coarse salt into it and place it in your smoker, stir it every hour or two because it will harden on the top. Keep the salt in your pantry for an added depth of smoky flavor and if you don't have it then just use a good coarse salt)