Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Kentucky Derby, Mint Julep, Hot Brown, and Bobby Flay

Going to the Kentucky Derby and drinking mint juleps has always been on my bucket list. I've never actually made it to the derby, I have made it to Arlington Park race track in Illinois. Going to the track is a great way to spend the day, catch some ray's, and possibly win a couple of races if you're lucky. I will settle for breaking even.
Recently, while searching Bobby Flay on YouTube, I came across an episode where Bobby was challenging the Castro brother's to a "Kentucky Hot Brown" Throwdown. After watching this episode, I knew I just had to make the Hot Brown. If you would like to see this episode, head over to YouTube, or click on this link:
The Hot Brown apparently originated at the Brown Hotel in Louisville Kentucky in the 1920's. I went right to the source to try and get the original recipe. Just as I thought they published the recipe on their website.
Since I love turkey and the Kentucky Derby is May 2, I thought this would make a great post for May. You're going to need a few things to make the Hot Brown.
1-1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for garnish
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper 
sliced roasted turkey breast, slice thick
4 slices of Texas toast, crust removed
4 slices of bacon
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half
Arrange bread triangles in pan and tomato halves
Note: What ever you do, don't use sliced deli turkey for this recipe. If you don't want cook a whole turkey, just buy a breast and cook it. I like a lot of tomatoes and added more. If after making the Hot Browns you have more left-over turkey, make some Turkey a la King, or a Turkey Pot Pie. You can also try other cheeses if you like. If I ever make this again, I would cut out 1 cup of heavy cream and use 1 cup of chicken stock in it's place.
To make the Hot Brown you're going to practice your sauce making skills, and prepare a Mornay sauce, which is nothing more than a Béchamel sauce (a Mother sauce), with cheese added to it. Once you've mastered the Béchamel sauce, you will be ready to impressing your family and friends with your culinary skills (see alternate sauce at the end.)
Pour sauce over turkey
Melt the butter in a two-quart saucepan. Once melted, slowly whisk in flour until combined to form a thick paste or roux. Continue to cook roux for 2 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Whisk heavy cream into the roux and cook over medium heat until the cream begins to simmer, about 2-3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in Pecorino-Romano cheese until the Mornay sauce is smooth. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
After a visit in the broiler
For each Hot Brown, place layers of bread in an oven safe dish and cover with turkey slices. Place the tomato halves next to the turkey. Pour half of the sauce over the bread, completely covering it. Sprinkle with additional cheese. Place entire dish under a broiler until cheese begins to brown and bubble. Remove from the broiler and cross two pieces of crispy bacon on top. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley and serve immediately.
Alternate sauce: To make the Mornay sauce, using a 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in flour. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Stir for another minute to remove the starch taste. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the cream and chicken stock. Return to the heat and bring to a boil, while stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and stir until the mixture thickens. Stir in cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Season to your taste.
Turkey a la King
The Hot Brown reminded me of the 60's classics like Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS), Eggs a la Goldenrod, Turkey a la King, or the classic Welsh Rarebit.
If you're not a turkey lover you can pick up a rotisserie, or baked chicken.  Another use of left-over beef, chicken or turkey was the classic open-faced sandwich, served with left-over mashed potatoes, smothered in rich gravy.
Open-faced sandwich
The recipe called for "Texas toast" for the Hot Brown. I decided to get a loaf of bread from the local bakery and cut it myself. What I should have done was get a loaf of real Texas toast which is a softer bread. Mine was much heavier than it should have been because of the bread. 
After WWII nothing was wasted. In our family, we ate left-overs. If you've got a minute and this reminds you of any of your family favorites leave a comment below.  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Kotlety Schabowy Pork Cutlets Potato Pancakes
I recently discovered the Indiana Pork Tenderloin Sandwich while  doing some research on the history of Wiener Schnitzel. It was like unlocking a secret door to the many foods that are influenced by Bavarian and German cuisine. The variations of the schnitzel seem to be endless, but the method for making are all similar.

The schnitzel is traditionally made by pounding a veal cutlet very thin, breaded and fried. Since veal is expensive, it is often substituted with pork, chicken, or beef. In Poland a cutlet is known as Kotlety Schabowy. In America, it is the iconic Chicken Fried Steak (CFS).
Now there is eight pieces
While searching YouTube, I accidentally stumbled upon a sandwich, that is popular throughout Indiana. If you live in Indiana, or come from there this is not news to you. Apparently, to a
"Hoosier," this sandwich is not only fits into the retro food category, but is also a comfort food.
Egg wash and breadcrumbs
What is it? While the recipe may vary slightly, the sandwich is really a pork tenderloin, or boneless pork loin chop that has been tenderized and flattened into a pork cutlet, just like the German  Schweine Schnitzel, or a Polish pork cutlet. "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." Romeo and Juliet.
Flatten cutlets
What you're going to need
3 whole eggs, beaten
splash of milk
1/2" inch thick pork loin, flattened
vegetable, canola, peanut oil, or Crisco
Bread Crumb Topping:
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs, panko, or saltines
Note: You can use a pork tenderloin if you like, but you will need a one inch thick slice of tenderloin butterflied and then pounded out to about 1/8 inch thick.
To make the cutlets, you're going to need an egg wash station. Mix together the eggs and the milk. In the second, use plain or Panko bread crumbs seasoned with salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
There appears to be a gray area when making the tenderloin sandwich. Most recipes call for plain bread crumbs, while others say Panko. Then you have those who say crushed saltines, or Ritz crackers elevate it above the rest.
Prepare the pork by trimming off any excess fat. If using thick pieces, butterfly them.  Place the cutlets on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or a heavy bottomed pan or pot, pound the meat out to be 1/8" thick. The actual diameter is another grey area. It definitely should be bigger than the bun you you will be serving it on. Some say it should be huge, almost as big as your head. The bigger you make it, the more bread crumbs and less pork you will be eating.
Dredge the cutlets through the egg and milk mixture, followed by a nice dip in the bread crumbs, until well coated on both sides. Set the cutlets on a baking sheet and place into the refrigerator for at least an hour before needed. Once they have firmed up in the refrigerator you can freeze any that you won't be eating now, to enjoy at another time.
I'm using Crisco
In a deep fryer, cast iron Dutch oven, or high sided skillet heat up your oil. You can use vegetable, canola, peanut or as I did Crisco. Remove the cutlets from the refrigerator.
Pour about a 1/2 inch of oil into a preheated, deep skillet. Once the oil is heated, test it by dropping in a couple of breadcrumbs. If they bubble immediately, the oil is about 375°F. It is best and safest to use a frying thermometer.
Carefully lower the breaded cutlet into the hot oil. Once the first side is golden brown, carefully turn it over and cook the second side. Check the temperature of each cutlet using a meat thermometer to make sure pork is fully cooked before removing from the pan. 
Note: The USDA lowered the safe serving temperature for pork from 160°F to 145°F in 2011. Place the cutlets on a cooling rack, or paper towels to remove any excess grease.
For condiments, the final grey area, is really up to you. The traditional toppings for the tenderloin sandwich are; iceberg lettuce leaves (I used romaine), thin sliced tomatoes, thin sliced onions, dill pickle slices, ketchup, mustard, and/or mayonnaise. 
To assemble the sandwich, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom half of a plain, or buttered and toasted hamburger bun. Lay the fried pork cutlet on top of the lettuce, lay the tomato on top of the cutlet, followed by dill pickle slices. To the cut side of the top bun  with some ketchup, mustard, and/or mayonnaise. There you go. Indiana's famous pork tenderloin sandwich.
You're probably wondering, how was it? First of all, with all my planning, I forgot the dill pickles. The sandwich was excellent even without the pickles. For those of you wondering about the cost of this meal, it was very affordable. Let's do the math.
I purchased four 1/2" thick, New York Boneless Pork Chops (1.37 pounds) for $3.99 a pound and paid $5.47. That's $1.37 per chop, or serving. Then I butterflied the four chops and now had eight 1/4" thick chops, reducing my cost to $.68 per chop, or serving. Add to my chop cost of $5.47, the eggs $.31, breadcrumbs $.55, lettuce $.50, tomato $2.00, onion $.30, ketchup $.10, mustard $.10, mayonnaise $.10, buns $2.49, and French fries or Tater Tots $2.00, brings your grand total to $11.43. Divide that by eight servings and you get a per person cost of, drum roll please, $1.42 per serving.
Can you see the lake? Can't wait for spring
If you're from Indiana I would love to hear from you about the tenderloin sandwich or your families recipe for it. Leave a comment bellow.

© TMelle 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ultimate Game Day Chili Bar

Your basic ingredients
It appears that this 2013 post dissapeared from this blog. I received an email request that I repost it again. Since Chicago is a sports city, there is always a need for a "Game Day Chili Bar." Enjoy!    
Before you can build an "Ultimate Game Day Chili Bar" you have to have a great recipe for homemade chili. My Mom had a simple chili recipe using canned Brooks brand "Chili Hot Beans." The beans are already spiced. It is really a very simple chili to make. How you make it depends on your taste.
Browned Ground Beef, Green Pepper and Onions
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef                            
1 small onion chopped fine                   
1 large can (28 oz.) crushed or diced tomatoes   
2 large (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
2-4 cans (12-15 oz.) Brook's Chili Hot beans (to your taste)
1/4 small green Pepper diced
to taste Kosher salt & cracked black pepper
to taste Chili Powder
to taste Cumin 
Open tomatoes and beans
In a large skillet brown the beef. Add the onions and green pepper (optional), salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned. Drain off most of the grease from the beef. Add the green pepper and onions and cook until tender.
Add tomatoes and seasonings
Add the crushed or diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to the beef onion and green pepper mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 1 hour and then add the Brooks Chili Hot Beans and continue cooking for 1/2 hour more.
NOTE: The amount of chili powder and cumin that you add will have a great effect on the final chili taste. Use caution and taste often when adding these ingredients. 
May the best team win
To make a really great chili bar you need chili and toppings. Serve chili with bowls of shredded cheese, minced onions or scallions, Frito scoops, oyster crackers, chopped tomatoes, French fries for chili cheese fries, and plenty of hot sauce. 

© TMelle 2013

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day and Corned Beef Hash

I'm still stuck in the breakfast mode. Today, far from the Emerald Isle, if you live in Chicago, then you are automatically Irish and thereby entitled to use all the clichés associated with it. "Top o' the Mornin' to Ya, Kiss me I'm Irish, and Erin go Bragh," just to name a few. On St. Patrick's Day we all turn into leprechaun's, chasing rainbows and looking for our pot of gold.Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket today.
In Chicago, St. Patty's Day is a really big deal. Dying the river green, and the parade are annual traditions. While most people are happy to sit in an Irish pub drinking a pint of Guinness, in Chicago it's a glass of ice cold Budweiser, Miller, Old Style, or any other domestic beer that, like our river is dyed green for this special day. I'm not sure about the long term effects on our body, or the environment. When we were younger, we would go off to the parade and march, that is until the politicians decided that they needed more room to add their floats.
We were dumped after about three years in favor of more politicians trying to expand their voter base. I thought this was suppose to be a celebration of Irish heritage. This year there's a zero tolerance for alcohol  at the parade. Leave it to the politicians to try and stop an Irishman from drinking. Now where was I?
Oh yeah, breakfast! Every year we pick up one or two Harrington's corned beef.If that's not available, Vienna is our second choice. My wife always makes a "New England Boiled Dinner," Aka. corned beef and cabbage, if you're not from the East coast.
Like a good game of chess, I'm always thing one or two moves ahead. When I see my wife making a New England Boiled Dinner, I'm already thinking about how to get more bang for my buck. For the left-overs, if any, I'm thinking about a corned beef on rye, or a Reuben sandwich on St. Patrick's Day, (see last years post)
Allocating some of the left-overs to corned beef hash is a top priority in my house. Begin my chopping the boiled onions. You want to see them in the hash so don't mince them. The next on your list should be the corned beef. Put the corned beef that you will be using for sandwiches to the side. Then work on the meat for the hash. Either chop it with a knife, or run it through a grinder. I like the texture of knife cut over using the grinder in my hash.  
You see where this is going? Next cut your boiled potatoes into cubes, or shred them on a grater. For me it depends on my mood. Cleaning a grater is no easy task, so often I'll just cut it into cubes. Finally it's the carrots. Carrots add a little sweetness to the hash. It's up to you.
Since I'm probably not getting around to making the hash until the weekend, I will bag the separated ingredients in quart size zip lock freezer bags and put them into the freezer until needed. Hash makes a great breakfast side dish for a Saturday or Sunday breakfast.

When you are ready to make the hash, defrost the ingredients, mix them together and season with a little salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and some parsley. Place some butter and oil on a hot skillet or pan, followed by all of the hash ingredients. Cook until the hash is crispy. Check back after the weekend and I'll post pictures of me making the hash. All of this blogging has made me hungry.
Would you like a Reuben?
Maybe just a Corned beef and Swiss on Rye?

You've got to have dessert right?
Addendum to post

As promised I made the hash over the weekend. I pulled the hash ingredients from the freezer the night before St. Patrick's Day and placed them into the refrigerator. 
Starting with a hot skillet, I put 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil into it. When the skillet was hot I added the potatoes, onions and carrots until they began to crisp up.
Add the corned beef
I put the chopped corned beef into the potatoes, onions and carrots. Once the mixture began to crisp up, I adjusted the salt and pepper to my taste. Finally added a splash of hot sauce.
Can you smell that?
This is probably a good time to get your eggs cooking. Today we were in the mood for scrambled eggs. While making the eggs we turned burner on the hash to low.
When served I just couldn't wait to take that first bite. Could you? What can I say? It was delicious. If you like ketchup on your hash, be my guest.
Would you like a bite?
From an economic standpoint, the two corned beef briskets served seven people a New England Boiled Dinner, six people Reuben sandwiches and enough has to serve four people as a side. So the next time you have left-over cooked meat, make some hash.
Prime Rib Hash and Eggs

© TMelle 2015