Thursday, September 15, 2016


1/4 cup table salt
1 cup small-diced carrots
1 cup tiny cauliflower florets
4 to 8 serrano peppers, sliced (depending on heat level desired)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 cups canola oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine 2 cups water and the salt in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Mix until the salt is dissolved. 

Add the carrots, cauliflower, serranos, garlic, celery and bell pepper to the salt water and stir to combine. 

Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

Day 2, drain and rinse the vegetables.  

In a clean bowl, mix together the oil with the oregano and pepper.  

Add the vegetables and mix to combine.  

Allow to marinate at least overnight, up to two days. 

After 2 days at the most in the bowl, place in air-tight mason jars and keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Spatchcocked Chicken with Mushrooms and Kale

Great thing to do when mushrooms are in season!
About a four pound chicken
Couple of lemons, sliced ½-inch thick, reserve the zest from one of them
Fresh Rosemary
Fresh Thyme
Truffle oil, if you have it
Cayenne peer
About 3 cups shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, cut in half
About 5 cups of assorted wood mushrooms (Royal Trumpet, Maitake, Hedgehog, etc.)
About 4 garlic cloves, diced
1 Fresno chile, seeds removed and thinly sliced into rings
About 2 cups lacinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
So, here are the ingredients. A Fresno pepper is like a jalapeno, however, it is red and not as hot.
Here's the great wood mushrooms that are in season around here.
Here's some of the ingredients.
Preheat oven to 475 F.
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Using kitchen shears, cut out the backbone of the chicken. Then, clean it well.
Here's the chicken with the backbone removed. That is the backbone laying perpendicular to the rest of the bird at the bottom.
Place chicken with skin side up on a board. Tuck the wing tips under the wings. Use the palm of your hand, press firmly on the breasts to break the breastbone to flatten the chicken.
Here's the shears ready to cut!
Here is everything prepped and ready.
Place the lemon slices in the center of the foil-lined pan to form a platform for the chicken. (Note – if someone can’t eat fruit, place a small rack there instead and skip the lemons.) Place the fresh herbs on the lemons.
Place the chicken on top.

Rub the chicken with oil Truffle oil if you have it) and season with salt. Sprinkle with cayenne. Option – sprinkle with porcini mushroom powder, if you can find dried porcini mushrooms. If you do this, use plain oil instead of truffle oil. Rub the oil and seasoning into the skin.
In a large bowl, mix together all the mushrooms, the lemon zest (skip the zest if someone can’t handle fruit), garlic and Fresno chile. Drizzle some oil on it and sprinkle on some salt and mix well. Spread the mushroom mixture around the chicken. Place in oven.
Cook until chicken is at 175 F, about 35 – 40 minutes. Then, toss the kale with some oil and salt and scatter the kale over the mushrooms and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
Take chicken out of oven, place chicken on board, cover with foil and let it rest for five minutes. Then carve and serve.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Poached Pork Belly, Pan Grilled Mango with Rum Sauce over Grits


Made this up. As of July 23, 2016, the day that I made this (started brining two days earlier), it is, by far, the best pork belly dish I have ever made.

For the Pork Belly
Pork Belly – cross-hatched cut through fat, brined for 24 hours in ¾ gallon water with ¾ cup kosher salt
Onion, diced
Carrot, diced
Celery, diced
Herbs (star of anise, rosemary, thyme)
Apple juice (unfiltered)
Chicken stock
Splash of rum
Clarified butter

For the grits
¾ cups grits
3 cups liquid (2 cups milk, 1 cup apple juice)

For the Mango
Mango – cut in ¾ inch cubes
Small orange or red pepper – sliced into rings
Vermouth or dry white wine to deglaze pan

For the Rum Sauce
¼ cup dark rum
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
¼ teaspoon salt


For the Belly
Preheat oven to 250 F.

 Rinse and dry the belly.


Then season with salt and pepper. 

In a large enough casserole to hold the belly, pre-heat the pan and melt some clarified butter. Brown the belly.


Remove belly from the pan and set aside. Add onion, carrot, and celery to pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.


Add the garlic and herbs. Cook under aromatic.


Shake pan to get nice, even layer of mixture.


Lay pork belly on top of mixture and add liquids (apple juice, chicken stock, splash of rum) to cover belly completely. Place a weight on the belly to keep submerged.


Bring to boil. Turn off heat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and then place lid on pot.


Place in 250 F to poach for 7 hours.

Remove pot from oven and uncover. Let cool in pot for at least 15 minutes.

Take belly out of pot, carefully, and place on rack on pan.

 Broil belly to crisp up top, about 5 minutes.

Place and cutting board and slice into squares for serving.

For the Grits
Mix grits, liquid and some salt together. Cook in double boiler for 4 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Add liquid as necessary to make nice, creamy grits. Could add some cayenne if you like.

For the Mango
Heat pan and melt butter. Toss in mango and season with salt. Cook to caramelize, about 4 – 5 minutes. Deglaze pan if needed.

For Rum Sauce
Place all ingredients, except lime, in sauce pan. Bring to boil while stirring. Reduce heat to simmer and simmer for 4 minutes to reduce and thicken. Add lime juice.


Serve with grits on bottom, then belly, then mango/peppers. Drizzle sauce over.
I tried to figure out which wine would go best. Opened a Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley as well as a Texas Viognier from Pedernales Cellars. With the mango and lightness of it, I preferred:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Braised Pork Shanks

Pork Shanks – brined the night before

Chopped onion
Chopped carrots
Chopped celery
Chopped garlic

Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Bay Leaves

Dry white wine
Chicken stock

 Sauce thickener

Preheat oven to 325 F.

 Dry the brined pork shanks and cut through the cracklings/fat in cross hatched pattern of about an inch.



Place some salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and flour in a plastic bag. Add the pork shanks. Shake to coat.


Heat some lard, oil, or bacon grease in a pot. Brown the shanks – takes about 10 minutes.



Remove the shanks. If any burnt flour in pan, wipe pan clean and add fresh oil.



Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic to pot along with some salt, pepper and other spices. Cook for about 8 minutes to soften.

Add about a cup of wine and four or so cups of chicken broth. Bring to boil.


Add shanks. Bring to boil again. 

Cover pot and place in 325 F oven. Turn shanks every 30 minutes. Total cooking time in over is about two and a half hours.

Remove shanks from pot – place on rack to pop back under broiler.

Drain liquid through fine mesh. Degrease liquid. Boil liquid down, reducing to about 1/3 or less. Add sauce thickener for gravy.

Pop shanks under broiler to crisp up cracklings.



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pork Shanks

For brining shanks:
2 cups apple cider
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup kosher salt
3 Tablespoon mustard seed
1 ½ Tablespoons whole allspice
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 whole cloves
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 inches of cinnamon stick
4 dried chiles, such as chiles de arbol, lightly crushed

4 pork shanks, scored in a crosshatch pattern
3 pounds pure lard
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
1 handful of mixed thyme and rosemary sprigs

In brining bucket, combine the apple cider, brown sugar, salt, spices, chiles – sir until sugar and salt dissolve.

Add pork shanks to bucket and rub in marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight – no more than 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 250 F.

Remove shanks and rise well.

Melt lard in casserole over moderate heat until it reaches 250 F.

Then, arrange shanks in lard so they are completely submerged. Nestle garlic and thyme/rosemary in lard.

Place lid on casserole.

Transfer casserole to the oven and cook shanks for 3 to 3 ½ hours – until meat is very tender.

Remove from oven and let shanks cool in lard for 15 minutes.


Transfer shanks to rack set over baking sheet.

Can be done in advanced up to here.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place shanks in oven to heat and crisp up cracklings – may take 20 minutes and may have to turn shanks.

Or, deep fry them. To do this, filter lard through a coffee filter and place back in clean pot. He 
at to 350F and deep fry for 7 minutes.

Braised Red Cabbage

1 red cabbage, 2 -2 ½ pounds – quartered, cored and cut crosswise in thin strips
2 Tablespoons clarified butter
1 small onion – thinly sliced
2 tart apples (Granny Smith/Braeburn) – peeled, cored, sliced
1/3 cup or so of balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Pepper to taste

Prepare cabbage and cover with cold water.

Prepare onion and apples.

Heat clarified butter over medium heat in a large, lidded skillet or casserole and add onion and some salt.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until just about tender – about three minutes.

Add 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cook stirring, until mixture is golden, about another three minutes, then add apples and stir for another three minutes.

Drain cabbage and add to pot. Toss to coat thoroughly then stir in allspice, another 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and salt. Toss together.

Cover pot and cook over low heat for an hour, stirring from time to time.

Add pepper, taste and adjust salt and add another Tablespoon or more of balsamic vinegar as desired.

May be made a day in advanced and then reheated slowly.

Apple Sauce

3 Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and quartered
3 Fuji apples – peeled, cored and quartered
1 cup unfiltered apple juice
2 Tablespoons cognac or brandy
2 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a sealable, microwave-safe container. Close lid, leaving one corner of lid open to allow steam to escape.

Microwave on high for 10 – 12 minutes.

Use a hand blender or potato maser to blend to desired consistency.

Serve hot immediately or chill for later use.

Clarified Butter


1 pound unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons corn starch



Melt butter in high sided pot.

Bring to simmer, add corn starch and stir.

Keep stirring until corn starch attracts water and milk solids.

Pour through coffee filter.