Filet Mignon with Mushroom Shallot Butter

Amanda and I have made no effort to hide our love of Masterchef, and when the contestants were taught to break down a large piece of meat, we were inspired. Amanda and I wanted to try our hand at breaking down a large cut into smaller, more presentable portions. In my case, I had done this before with a whole beef tenderloin (also called a PiSMO) and so I thought I would share.

Whole Tenderloin, because they require less processing, are usually a pretty economical choice considering that this one of the most prized parts of the cow. They are generally vacuum packed and sold at a much lower rate per pound than their individually packaged counterparts. Since there is a lot of meat in one of those packages, the overall cost might still be high. However, considering I have usually managed to get 8-10 dinners out of one piece, it still works out to be a great deal.

After breaking everything down, obviously the best reward would be to cook one of these newly trimmed filets up for yourself. Combined with the mushroom shallot butter recipe below and a glass of wine, I think you’re in for a good night after hauling that hunk of beef home from the store.

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Breaking down a whole (or half in my case) Beef Tenderloin: 

  1. Pull the initial layer of fat off the tenderloin. You may need a knife to get an initial tear in the fat started, but once you get your fingers under this layer, you should be largely able to remove with your hands.
  2. With the fat removed, you should be able to make out three parts of the meat. The actual tenderloin is the long, circular portion in the middle. On one side will the “Chain”which is the smaller, longer piece. On the other side, is a wide, thick portion much shorter than the tenderloin. Remove the pieces on either side of the tenderloin and reserve for recipes of your choice. The chain makes excellent stir fry meat and the other portion is also great as a roast!
  3. Now that the tenderloin is trimmed, you should be able to see a layer of “silverskin” on some of the meat. This must be removed as it does not render like other fat. To remove, stick the tip of your knife under a small piece. Once you can get your finger under the silverskin, lift the skin with one hand and peel it off the meat, using your knife when needed. This part can be a bit tricky, but continue to peel off the silverskin in strips this way until all is removed. IMG_3028
  4. Now the tenderloin is ready to be portioned. You can keep it whole if you’d like, but I usually like to cut some of it into filets. Slice into 2″ portions. The end with the taper can be butterflied into a filet if you would like or you can save that end as a roast if you want to leave that portion a little thicker.
  5. I like to freeze the extra meat in freezer bags individually so I can pull them out whenever I’m craving some steak for dinner. Portions can stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.

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Filet with Mushroom Butter: 

Mushroom butter Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 1 lb baby Portobello mushrooms or mushrooms of your choice, minced.
  • 1 small shallot, minced.
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

 

Instructions: 

  1. In a small pan over medium heat, add the oil and saute the shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt.
  2. Cook the mushrooms and shallots until the mushrooms have released their moisture and reduced size, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and add more salt if desired during cooking.  When finished, remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Once cooled, add the stick of butter to a stand mixer and add your mushroom/shallot mixture and mix on medium speed for 2-3 minutes until everything is distributed.
  4. Spoon the butter mixture onto the middle of a sheet of parchment paper. Fold the paper in half over the butter, gently. Using a sheet pan and starting at the end where the paper corners meet, slowly slide the pan down and toward the butter so that elongates into a tube. Once this is completed, you can roll the leftover parchment around the butter and twist the ends. Chill the butter for at least 2 hours. This can be made up to 5 days in advance, or you can freeze it for up to 6 months.

  1. When you are ready to make your steaks, remove them from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Preheat the oven to 450°F and stick in a cast iron pan.
  2. Once the oven and pan are preheated, (carefully) move the cast iron pan to the stove top and heat over medium-high. Liberally salt and pepper your steaks and sear in the hot pan for 2 minutes on each side.
  3. Add a pat of the mushroom butter to the tops of the steaks and transfer the pan to the oven and cook until internal temperature reaches 140°F for medium rare. This should be about 3-5 minutes depending on thickness.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow steaks to rest on a cooling rack loosely draped with foil for 10 minutes. Top with an additional pat of butter and serve. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairing: A Burgundy or a really bold Pinot Noir would be a great match with both the mushroomy undertones that the butter brings as well as the beef. Happy cooking!

Greek Chicken Burger

It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.

Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).

One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes 😉

Greek Chicken Burger Patty:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 mini bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready for assembly.

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

Instructions: 

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.

Assembly/Toppings:

  • Ciabatta Rolls
  • Tomato
  • Red onion slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tzatziki

Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!

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Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki  while also balancing out the flavor profile. 

Summer Wine Punch: 

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 qt pink lemonade
  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.

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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mango Cilantro Sauce

Wanting to live vicariously through Amanda’s recent vacation to the sparkling shores of Miami, we decided to cook up our best tropical inspired meals to keep the vacation magic alive. I, being nowhere near a beach now or in the near future, was a big fan of this idea. While munching on something with these tropical flavors is undoubtedly more enjoyable while breathing in the fresh sea air and listening to waves crash in the background, I’ll take what I can get.

Since I’m currently and tragically landlocked, and any attempt at obtaining fresh, Caribbean fish seemed futile, I opted for pork. Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a cilantro kick and I knew I wanted those fresh, albeit divisive, flavors to be included. Fortunately, cilantro pairs wonderfully with mango and nothing screams tropical to me more than the bold and tart flavors of the mango. This slow roasted pork tenderloin topped with the coconut sauce was enough to give me the taste of the vacation I didn’t have, even if I couldn’t quite smell the ocean air.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin:

  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Mango Cilantro Sauce

  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups diced mango (I used frozen)
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped into fine pieces.
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • 2 Serrano peppers, minced.
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola/vegetable oil)

Instructions:

  1. For the pork tenderloin, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Combine the garlic powder, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and spread onto the pork tenderloin until all surfaces are covered.
  2. Place tenderloin in a roasting pan and roast in the pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until the internal temperature is at least 145°F. Allow to rest outside the oven for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  3. While the pork is roasting (probably about 20 minutes before done), prepare the sauce. In a small pot over medium heat, add the onion, garlic, salt and grapeseed oil. Stir until the onions are fragrant and semi-translucent, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, mango, and the Serrano peppers. Allow this to simmer until reduced by at least 1/3 and thickened, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro and lime juice. Wait for the cilantro to wilt and then transfer mixture to a blender (once cooled slightly). Pulse until the mango chunks are smooth and the cilantro is well incorporated–about 30 seconds to 1 minute. You can also use an immersion blender for this step if preferred.
  6. Transfer back to the stove to warm until the tenderloin is ready. Slice the rested pork tenderloin, and top with sauce. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: While I’ll admit, I actually decided to make rum runners instead for this dish to get the full beach bar experience from my couch, I would say that an aromatic white wine, such as a chenin blanc would work nicely.

 

Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit. 

Baby Back Ribs-Three Methods

Amanda and I have been friends for quite a while so it’s not too surprising when we’re in sync. This post was a happy accident since we had been discussing how we were culinarily going to enjoy the big game (as we often do–other people must think I’m so nosy when I ask what they plan to cook that long weekend/holiday/etc but I just want to go on a food journey with everyone!) and we had both independently decided on ribs!

I had recently received an electric pressure cooker over the holidays, which I am quite enjoying and I had heard that ribs were the real masterpiece to come out of one of those appliances. Naturally, this seemed like the perfect excuse to try these out.

Sadly, I also had to say goodbye to my trusty Immersion Circulator after it malfunctioned beyond repair, but I happily replaced it with a different brand and was anxious to try it out! I have so far stayed away from sharing any Sous Vide recipes on this blog, though it is the small appliance I use probably the most in my kitchen (yes, more than my rice cooker). Immersion Circulators are gaining popularity but they’re still very niche and aren’t quite making an appearance in everyone’s homes as say, a slow cooker. Thankfully, since Amanda was also feeling making some ribs in a more accessible way, we decided to utilize and share all three methods! Sadly, there are no pictures of the oven method at the moment because Amanda’s results were so delicious they disappeared before photographing but spoiler alert: you pretty much can’t go wrong here.

Ingredients:

  • One Rack of Baby Back Pork Ribs,
  • Salt & Pepper, and optionally any dry rub blend of your choice.
  • 1 8oz bottle of your favorite Barbeque sauce (having lived in Texas I’m partial to Stubbs, Franklin’s and Salt Lick brands).
  • 3/4 cup of beef broth or water (for the Pressure cooker method only)

Amanda’s Oven Method Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Season the ribs with salt/pepper/dry rub of choice and place on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake the ribs for one hour or until internal temperature reaches at least 190°F. Brush with sauce and serve.

Electric Pressure Cooker Method Instructions: 

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  1. Season the ribs with salt/pepper and any additional seasonings of your choice if desired. Portion the ribs in to 2-3 rib sections so they will fit in the cooker.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup of your bottle of barbecue sauce along with 3/4 cup of liquid (water or broth) to the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add your rib portions to the pot by stacking them or lining the sides. Don’t worry if everything is not submerged.
  3. Close the lid of your pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  4. Once the pressure is released, open your pressure cooker and spoon some of the sauce in the bottom over all of the ribs (carefully!).
  5. Preheat your broiler to high. Remove the ribs from the cooker and place them onto a sheet pan.
  6. Brush the ribs with your bottled barbecue sauce and broil for 2 minutes on each side.
  7. Brush with additional sauce if desired and enjoy!

Instructions (Sous Vide Method)–This one takes a while so plan accordingly

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  1. Preheat a water bath with your immersion cooker to 145 degrees (62 C).
  2. Slice the ribs into manageable sections–about 2-3 rib portions.
  3. Season the ribs with salt, pepper.
  4. Place the ribs into sealable, airtight plastic bags (see step 4 on options for bags) that the ribs are not stacked on top of one another, but they can be next to each other. If you need multiple bags for this, go for it. Add about 1-2 tbsp of your favorite barbecue sauce to each bag with ribs inside.
  5. Seal the meat in the bags using one of two methods:
    1. You can use traditional zip top bags (I’d recommend a heavy duty, freezer type bag) and using water displacement. To do this, place the bag into the water bath with a small portion of the top unsealed and sink as the air escapes through the top. Try to get out as much air as you can and seal fully. Secure in the water bath with a clip to prevent floating.
    2. Use a vacuum food sealer system if you happen to have one. If you are fortunate to have a Sous Vide Cooker in your home, I cannot recommend a food sealer enough.Make sure you use the “wet” sealing option if you have it since there is sauce in the bag.
  6. Secure the ribs in the water bath and cook for 18-24 hours.
  7. Once timing is finished, remove from the bags, place on a sheet pan. Brush with additional sauce if desired and broil in the oven for about 2 minutes on each side. This is not completely necessary from a cooking standpoint, but does make for a yummy looking finished product.
  8. Enjoy!

Wine Pairing: Since the perfect complement can really depend on your sauce or rub preferences, you could  go as bold as a Zinfandel, but I think a nice, chilled Rosé would go great with any of your customizations. The lightness and tartness would pair well with those notes in the sauce, and it adds a summery, grill-out type of feel to your evening. Happy sipping!

Slowcooker Party Meatballs

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” as I’m sure your radios are crooning non-stop, but there are certainly quite a bit of stresses that comes with the joy of the holidays. Not only are we running around trying to decorate, purchase gifts for all of our friends and family, but there often are a deluge of holiday party invitations or hosting obligations this month (as I’m sure Amanda can attest). Whether it’s an office potluck or a family tree decorating party, an easy appetizer is always a hit with the other party guests and the host alike.

I wanted to share something that is easy, shows depth of flavor, and doesn’t take up too much kitchen space, just in case you also have an impressive entrée in the works. These sweet and tangy meatballs only take a few minutes of assembly and are low maintenance. However, they are sure to impress.

Full disclosure: I did attempt to not cut corners and make my own meatballs for the purpose of this post, but I don’t believe my meatball skills are quite up to snuff just yet. When I made these again the other night (they’re that good) with frozen meatballs, not only was if infinitely less stressful (which is the whole point) but also more delicious. If you’re the type who regularly makes meatballs and has a knack for it, by all means go for it. You probably wouldn’t need my recipe anyway. For the rest of us though, recipe is as follows:

  • 1 32oz. bag of frozen meatballs, or your favorite homemade recipe. Turkey is also good!
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 green onions, whites and greens separated (greens will be the garnish)
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • Sesame seeds for garnish

To make the Appetizer:

  • Add the frozen meatballs to your slow cooker.
  • Stir together all remaining ingredients except for the greens of the green onions and sesame seeds in a medium bowl until combined.
  • Pour sauce over meatballs and stir to ensure all are coated.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours if you’re pressed for time or on low for 4 hours and then enjoy at your leisure. Can be served with rice as a full meal or on toothpicks as yummy apps! Or you can always leave out the slow cooker with a serving spoon and let your guests fend for themselves. Happy partying!

 

Wine Pairing: Because these flavors are so bold with sweet and sour notes, I’d recommend an aromatic wine to accompany. I did try this with a Kendall-Jackson Vintner’s Reserve 2013 Riesling and I highly recommend. The fruity flavors of pear and peach complements the tangy sauce of the app in a delightful way. It’s definitely worth a try.

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