Boneless Grilled Pork Chops

Sometimes I may sound like a broken record, stating how much I love America’s Test Kitchen, but I really do! And as you may have noticed, many of my recipes on here are courtesy of them. The one I am bringing you today, is so absolutely delicious and easy, that I do not think I will fix regular pork chops any other way again. This technique turns out perfectly juicy chops, which at least for me is always a challenge not drying them out. To boot, it only takes a few ingredients. The anchovy paste threw me for a few minutes, as I have never actually used it, but I gave in and bought a tube. When I tasted the chops, I never would have guessed that ingredient was used if I hadn’t put it on there myself.

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I served these with a rice pilaf, and they paired together wonderfully. The leftover chops also heated up perfectly the next day for lunch.

Boneless Grilled Pork Chops
Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients

6 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (or very well-mashed rinsed and dried anchovy fillets)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Directions

Cut 2 slits about 1 inch apart through outer layer of fat and connective tissue on each chop to prevent buckling. Dissolve salt in 1 1/2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge chops in brine and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Whisk together oil, honey, anchovy paste, and pepper to form smooth paste. Remove pork from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Using spoon spread half of oil mixture evenly over 1 side of each chop (about 1/4 teaspoon per side).

FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s).

Clean and oil cooking grate. Place chops, oiled side down, over hot part of grill and cook, uncovered, until well browned on first side, 4 to 6 minutes. While chops are grilling, spread remaining oil mixture evenly over second side of chops. Flip chops and continue to cook until chops register 140 degrees, 4 to 6 minutes longer (if chops are well browned but register less than 140 degrees, move to cooler part of grill to finish cooking). Transfer chops to plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

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Best Steakhouse Burgers

For those who have always wanted to try making burgers from scratch (from steaks), but don’t have a meat grinder, this is the recipe and technique for you. Not to mention, these are absolutely, hands-down the best burgers I have ever made. We will never go back to buying pre-ground meat again to make burgers. With this technique, you know exactly when your meat was ground, and have absolute control over the fat content.

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This comes from the latest issue of Cooks Illustrated, their July/ August issue. There are a lot more explanations provided in the issue that I am not adding to the below, but I think I am hitting all the high points. A couple of items to note are:

1) I cannot find “Sirloin Steak Tips, or Flap Meat” by me, so I use Chuck Steaks (see pic below, not to be confused with Chuck Roast) for the meat. This steak choice came recommended from another great source for grilling, http://www.amazingribs.com.

Chuck steaks being trimmed

Chuck steaks being trimmed

2) For well done burgers, ATK recommends adding a Panade. This is 1 slice of white bread torn into pieces mixed with 2 tablespoons of milk. Let combine for 5 minutes, then mash it to a paste with a fork. Add to the meat right when adding S&P, right before forming the patties. I added the Panade the first couple of times as my wife likes her burgers well-done. The next couple of times I didn’t as we had people over with a gluten restriction. I couldn’t tell the difference with or without it. I am skipping that from now on.

3) The first time I made these, I again stuck to the recipe and added 4 tablespoons of butter. In our opinion, and personal taste, this is WAY too much butter. I highly recommend cutting it in half to 2 tablespoons. The 4 tbsp reminded me of the “Butter Burgers” they serve in Wisconsin, where when your burger comes off the grill, they throw a huge slab of butter on top then add the top bun. First, it is a heart attack waiting to happen, but the extreme butter flavor overpowers the meat.

4) For the food processor, I use a Kitchen Aid 7-cup processor, and it handles the semi-frozen meat with absolutely no problem. I think any decent processor will work for this recipe.

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Meat and butter cubed and going into the freezer

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After the food processor, just prior to forming patties

Best Steakhouse Burgers

Ingredients

1.5 pounds sirloin steak tips (or chuck steak), trimmed and cut into ½-inch chunks

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces (recommend just 2 tbsp)

Kosher salt and pepper

Vegetable oil for grill grate

OPTION – Panade – 1 slice of white bread and 2 tbsp milk

Directions

Freeze Meat: Place beef chunks and butter on large plate or rimmed baking sheet in single layer. Freeze until meat is very firm and starting to harden around edges, but still pliable, about 35 minutes.

Grind Meat: Place one-quarter of meat and one-quarter of butter pieces in food processor and pulse until finely ground into rice-grain-size pieces (about 1/32 inch), 15 to 20 pluses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure beef is evenly ground. Transfer meat to baking sheet. Repeat grinding with remaining meat and butter in 3 batches. Spread mixture over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat, fat, or butter.

Form Patties: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon pepper and ¾ teaspoon salt over meat and gently toss with fork to combine (if adding a Panade, do it here when you toss the S&P in). Divide meat into 4 balls. Toss each between your hands until uniformly but lightly packed. Gently flatten into patties ¾ inch thick and about 4 ½ inches in diameter. Using your thumb, make 1-inch-wide by 1/4-inch-deep depression in center of each patty. Transfer patties to platter and freeze for 30-45 minutes.

Cook Patties: For a gas grill, turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high. Clean and oil cooking grates. Season 1 side of patties liberally with salt and pepper. Using spatula, flip patties and season other side. Grill patties without moving them until browned and meat releases easily from grill, 4 to 7 minutes. Flip patties and continue to grill until browned on second side and meat registers 120 to 125 for medium-rare or 130 to 135 degrees for medium, 4 to 7 minutes longer.

Transfer burgers to plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Transfer burgers to buns and serve with toppings.

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Also, as this is the season for grilling, if you are experiencing any issues with your Weber Grill, or need to get a hold of hard to find parts, please go to http://www.qualitygrillparts.com/

Classic Beef Chili

With this cold weather blanketing the country, and the Superbowl less than a week away, I thought it was a great time to post about the best chili I have ever eaten. I found this recipe about 2 months ago and have made it quite a few times since, altering a thing here or there, but mostly keeping it intact.

Of course, like many of my favorites it came from ATK. When the weather really took a turn for the worse this year the first thing my wife asked me to cook was chili. She had a hankering for it, and the canned stuff was no longer acceptable (nor should it ever have been!!). So I scoured the Net, and found quite a few recipes that looked like they would be winners, but at the end of the day, I came back to the trusted folks in VT.

The ingredients as shown makes a large pot of chili, so if I am making it for us and guests, I do it as written. If it is just for our family, I half it and still have some leftovers for lunch the next day. It reheats very well, and almost tastes better the second day. And of course since we live in TX, mine gets turned into a Frito Pie. Simply, a Frito chip base, followed by chili, followed by shredded cheddar cheese. She eats hers over rice, then topped with cheese. Can’t go wrong with either, or with just a big old bowl of chili by itself. If you have someone in your house with a gluten allergy, this beef chili is perfect for you!

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Almost done simmering.

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My Frito Pie version.

Classic Beef Chili

Ingredients

¼ cup chili powder

1 tablespoon dried cumin

2 teaspoons dried coriander

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped fine

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces

6 garlic cloves, minced

2 pounds, 85% lean ground beef

2 (15-oz) cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed

1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes

1 (28-oz) can tomato puree

Water, as needed

Directions

Combine chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl.

Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in spice mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in half of beef. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, breaking up meat with spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook until no longer pink. Stir in beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, and tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to gentle simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Uncover and continue to simmer gently until beef is tender and sauce is dark, rich, and slightly thickened, about 45 minutes longer. If chili begins to stick to bottom of pot or looks too thick, stir in water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve. (Chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days; add water as needed when reheating to adjust consistency.)

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Best Drop Biscuits

First I want to say, please pardon my absence over the last couple of months in the blogging world. It was a rough holiday season in many ways, but also a kind one in other ways. I do not plan on drowning you with the details, but wanted to say I am back and will be adding new recipes starting with these awesome Best Drop Biscuits.

In early December, I had to make an unexpected trip to New England and was staying with one of my sisters for a few days. Her and I always discuss food, as I am usually trying to pry her and her husbands great recipes out of them. But one night I was sitting in her living room flipping through her new cookbook, “The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook). As it looks more like an encyclopedia than a cookbook, I was using her book marked pages to see which recipes caught her eye, as I would have needed a week to go page by page. I came across Best Drop Biscuits, and I am telling you since, I could not be much happier! I have tried in the past different biscuit recipes and either I fail, or they are too cumbersome to make. These on the other hand, are the most delicious ones I have had, and are tremendously easy to make. I typically have all the ingredients on hand anyways, so I can make them on a whim at almost anytime, which I have quite a few times now.

Enjoy!

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Out, cooled off for a couple of minutes.

Best Drop Biscuits

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon sugar

¾ teaspoon table salt

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk, chilled

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus 2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing the biscuits

Directions

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. Combine the buttermilk and 8 tablespoons of the melted butter in a medium bowl, stirring until the butter forms small clumps.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just incorporated and the batter pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Using a greased 1/4‑cup measuring cup, scoop a level amount of batter and drop onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, spacing the biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until the tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes.

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Chocolate Blossoms

I know it is not even Thanksgiving yet, but once I saw these Holiday Hershey Kisses were back on the shelves this weekend, I knew I had to make these again. These are my absolute favorite Christmas cookie to make. If I make as many this year as I did last, Hershey and Ghirardelli should not have to worry about their holiday sales numbers! lol

If you haven’t had these specific kisses before, they are candy cane flavored, and pair wonderfully with these chocolate cookies. The recipe comes from America’s Test Kitchen, and is fairly easy to make, even if you are a beginner like me. Two words of wisdom on these if you decide to make them. First, only bake one sheet of cookies at a time, roughly in the middle of your oven. Above that, you need to have an empty baking sheet near the top rack. If not, once the cookies go back in the oven with the candies added, you will turn the tops of the candies brown, taking away from their pure white and red coloring. This will not change the taste, but makes for a poor presentation. Second, do NOT touch the kisses until completely cooled. Chocolate retains its shape when melted (for the most part). They will look hard and in tact, but if you touch one before they are completely cooled, the kiss will cave under the pressure. I cool my cookies on a rack for 30 minutes or so, then place the rack in the freezer for an additional 30 minutes to complete the cool down process. After that, the kisses cookies are fine to be handled and eaten or stored.

Enjoy!

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Just out of the oven to cool. If you touch the kiss at this point, it will cave and fall.

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Chocolate Blossoms

Ingredients

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (3/4 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup (4 2/3 ounces) sugar

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

24-26 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, unwrapped

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl. Microwave butter and chocolate in bowl at 50 percent power, stirring often until melted. Let cool slightly. Add sugar, egg and egg white, and vanilla and mix until combined. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Let dough sit until thickened, about 5 minutes.

Working with 1 tablespoon dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 2 inches apart on prepared sheet. Bake until puffed and just set, 10-12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Working quickly, remove sheet from oven and place 1 candy in center of each cookie, pressing down lightly. Return sheet to oven* and bake two minutes longer. Let cookies cool on sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.

*Note: Place an empty baking sheet on the top rack in the oven prior to placing the cookies with candies back into the oven. If you do not, the tops of the kisses will discolor, turning brown from the direct heat. This does not affect taste, but makes for poor presentation. If you need to bake in batches, do it verse placing two sheets with cookies in the oven at the same time.

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Almond Biscotti

I am now officially ready for the Fall! First, today I found my espresso tower cup set which had been packed up, and second, I learned how to make some wonderfully tasty Almond Biscotti! Again, I leaned on America’s Test Kitchen to teach me how, and they did not disappoint. It was relatively easy to moderate I would say. But if I can do it, anyone can!

One of the best things about biscotti is, it can be kept for about a month, if you keep it in an airtight container. Not that this batch has any hope of making it more than a week or so! But, as holidays get closer and cooking and baking picks up, this is something that can be made a week or so ahead of time, getting one more thing out of the way when time is of an essence.

 

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Two loaves headed into the oven.

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Out of the oven, and then once cooled for 30 minutes, sliced and put on a wire rack, which I then put in a rimmed baking sheet.

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Almond Biscotti

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) whole almonds, lightly toasted

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, plus 1 large white beaten with pinch salt

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vegetable oil spray

Instructions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Using ruler and pencil, draw two 8 by 3-inch rectangles, spaced 4 inches apart, on piece of parchment paper. Grease baking sheet and place parchment on it, ink side down.

Pulse 1 cup almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped, 8 to 10 pulses; transfer to bowl and set aside. Process remaining 1/4 cup almonds in food processor until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; process to combine, about 15 seconds. Transfer flour mixture to second bowl. Process 2 eggs in now empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. With processor running, slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Add melted butter, almond extract, and vanilla and process until combined, about 10 seconds. Transfer egg mixture to medium bowl. Sprinkle half of flour mixture over egg mixture and, using spatula, gently fold until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and chopped almonds and gently fold until just combined.

Divide batter in half. Using floured hands, form each half into 8 by 3-inch rectangle, using lines on parchment as guide. Spray each loaf lightly with oil spray. Using rubber spatula lightly coated with oil spray, smooth tops and sides of rectangles. Gently brush tops of loaves with egg white wash. Bake until loaves are golden and just beginning to crack on top, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking.

Let loaves cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes. Transfer loaves to cutting board. Using serrated knife, slice each loaf on slight bias into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay slices, cut side down, about 1/4 inch apart on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Bake until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 35 minutes, flipping slices halfway through baking. Let cool completely before serving. Biscotti can be stored in airtight container for up to 1 month.

Chicken Parmesan

Hands down, this in one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made. Through the years, I have attempted chicken parm but could never quite get it right. Everything from the chicken being dry, breading not crispy, chewy cheese, you name it, I have had the issue. So when I saw America’s Test Kitchen version, I knew I had to try it. As usual, they came through with an incredible and fool proof recipe. I felt like I was eating chicken parm from the best restaurant in town. The chicken turned out perfect, the cheese was a perfect blend, and the sauce is really good!

I am already thinking how I can incorporate different techniques learned in this recipe for new dishes! But for now, here is the perfect chicken parmesan recipe, brought to you from ATK! One note is, whenever I dry or wet brine chicken, I find it better to rinse off the chicken after the brine step to ensure you don’t end up with too salty chicken. That is not captured below, just a personal preference of mine.

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Coated and fried.

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Fixing to go into the oven, set-on broil for a few minutes.

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Plated, and served with penne pasta, utilizing the extra sauce from the recipe.

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

Kosher salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes

¼ teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil

 

Chicken

2 (6-8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved horizontally and pounded ½ inch thick

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 ounces whole-milk mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)

1 large egg

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 ½ ounces parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup)

½ cup panko bread crumbs

½ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup vegetable oil

¼ cup torn fresh basil

 

Instructions

FOR THE SAUCE: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until just shimmering. Add garlic, ¾ teaspoon salt, oregano, and pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar; increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and keep warm.

FOR THE CHICKEN: Sprinkle each side of each cutlet with 1/8 teaspoon salt and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Combine mozzarella and fontina in bowl; set aside.

Adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Whisk egg and flour together in shallow dish or pie plate until smooth. Combine Parmesan, panko, garlic powder, oregano, and pepper in second shallow dish or pie plate. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 cutlet at a time, dredge cutlet in egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat all sides in Parmesan mixture, pressing gently so crumbs adhere. Transfer cutlet to large plate and repeat with remaining cutlets.

Heat oil in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully place 2 cutlets in skillet and cook without moving them until bottoms are crispy and deep golden brown, 1½ to 2 minutes. Using tongs, carefully flip cutlets and cook on second side until deep golden brown, 1½ to 2 minutes. Transfer cutlets to paper towel–lined plate and repeat with remaining cutlets.

Place cutlets on rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle cheese mixture evenly over cutlets, covering as much surface area as possible. Broil until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to serving platter and top each cutlet with 2 tablespoons sauce. Sprinkle with basil and serve immediately, passing remaining sauce separately.

One Dish Sausage Pasta

As I search and search for good, easy recipes to make for my family, I have come across many misses, but this one was a definite hit! It is tasty, easy, and loved by adults, as well as children and toddlers. I haven’t steered away from this recipe, albeit I imagine you can add different meats or spices to suit your needs.

One Dish Sausage Pasta

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 lb smoked turkey sausage (or regular if you choose)

1.5 cups diced onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 oz penne pasta

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper, each

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

Directions

1. Add olive oil to a Dutch oven over medium high heat until just smoking. Add sausage and onions and cook until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add broth, tomatoes, cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir. Bring to a boil, cover skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Broil until cheese is melted, spotty brown, and bubbly.

Originally from Kevin & Amanda: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dinner/spicy-sausage-pasta.html