Grown Up Hot Chocolate

I made this last night and put the initial picture on Instagram. Lots of people wanted the recipe so here it is.

Grown Up Hot Chocolate

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cocoa or shaved bittersweet chocolate (I actually like the Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate mix)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 cups hot water
caramel sauce
whipped cream
1 oz. amaretto (optional)
sea salt (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally, but do not boil.

OR, add everything to a Vitamix blender and set to soup setting.

To serve: inside a mug, drizzle caramel sauce around the edge. Pour amaretto into the cup. Add the hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream, drizzle caramel over the whipped cream, and sprinkle sea salt.

Then there’s the brisket sauce

Once you’ve made brisket, you need the sauce to go with it. I tinkered with a recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Grill Masters cookbook for over a year before I got one that I really like. This is what I make every time I make brisket. I also use it on Boston butt, but it is best with beef.

3 tbs margarine (see note)
1/2 cup sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Heinz ketchup (see note)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (strain the pulp)
2 tbs honey
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs mustard
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Put the margarine over medium heat to melt it then add in the onions. Stir until the onions are soft and browning. There’ll be mostly steam for a while because they’ll be crowded in, but slowly the water will reduce and the browning will begin. When the onion begins to brown, add the garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce. It will thicken.

Use immediately for refrigerate for up to a week.

It tastes better the next day.

NOTE: Yes, you must use margarine. Don’t believe me? Try it with butter. This is the only recipe that I use margarine over butter. But it really makes a difference once the sauce cools. Also, there is a difference between Heinz ketchup and other brands (looking at you, Hunts). The Heinz plays better with the other flavors and the heat.

How I Smoke Brisket

While I’m largely removed from politics for the next few days (and no radio) thanks to a perforated ear drum, I did get up and get a brisket ready for the smoker and will share with you what I do.

First, I’m a Big Green Egg guy, so know that. But here’s what I do.

SMOKED BRISKET

8 hours before hand:

7 to 12 lbs. brisket
2 cups beef broth
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Trim the silver skin from the brisket and trim any large fat caps to about 1/4 inch. Do not cut into the meat and do not score the fat.

Mix the broth and spices. Thoroughly inject the meat and let it rest for 8 hours in the fridge.

8 hours later:

Prepare the smoker.

I use chunks of oak and mesquite in the smoker, putting them on the coals right before I add the meat.

Remove the brisket from the fridge, drain liquid, and pat the brisket dry. Make a note of which way the grain goes in the meat. You want to cut against it. If you are afraid you won’t remember once it is smoked, cut a small wedge with the grain to indicate which way it runs.

Bring smoker up to 240 degrees fahrenheit.

Mix:

1/2 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup ground black pepper

Lightly cover the brisket. Do not pack in the rub, but cover lightly and rub it in. Cover both sides and the edges.

Let the meat continue to sit for up to an hour from being removed from the fridge.

Add the wood chunks to the smoker, put in a filled up water pan, and set the meat over the water pan.

When the meat gets to 167 degrees, wrap it in unwaxed butcher paper or heavy duty foil (I like unwaxed butcher paper), then bring it up to 200 degrees.

Let it rest an hour.

My White Barbecue Chicken

This has become a go-to recipe for my family when we are entertaining people. It is very easy to make and quite delicious.

White Barbecue Chicken

Ingredients:

3 c mayonnaise
2/3 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c + 2 tbls lemon juice
4 tbls sugar
4 tbls cracked black pepper
4 tbls Lea & Perrins Chicken Marinade (green label Lea & Perrins)
4 to 10 chicken breasts cut diagonally into strips

Directions:

1. Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar, pepper, and Lea & Perrins sauce with whisk.

2. Add chicken strips to a gallon zip-lock bag.

3. Pour one half of the sauce over chicken and marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

4. With second half of the sauce, use 1/4 to 1/2 of it for basting the chicken while it is on the grill (brushing every few minutes, flipping the chicken over half-way through) and heat, over medium-low heat, the remainder, stirring occasionally, until steaming and becoming light brown on top.

Use the heated remainder as either a dipping sauce or to pour over the chicken.

Lea and Perrins white Worcestershire sauce is sometimes labeled “marinade for chicken” and has a green label. It is available here from Amazon.

Homegrown: Illustrated Bites

I have mentioned, while filling in for Rush Limbaugh, that Christy and I like to grow our own vegetables and cook. I grow okra, onion, and bell peppers for gumbo. We also grow herbs and jalapeños for salsa and other cooking. It’s really not that hard and if you do it right, you are not constantly pulling weeds.

In any event, a listener from one of my fill-in shows sent me this book. Her daughter authored, hand illustrated, and designed it. And it is really an awesome book — just delightful. The book is Homewgrown: Illustrated Bites From Your Garden to Your Table.

It is both a cookbook with some great recipes and also a gardening book on how to prepare the soil and grow the fruits and vegetables. It breaks everything down by season.

Herbs
Christy and I are not gardening gurus. This book makes it easy. It also provides some really great recipes to try out. From kale to spinach to tomatoes to blueberries to raspberries, it is a competent book for novice gardeners and regular cooks.

The illustrations make the book unique. There are no “food porn” pictures. Everything is tastefully and creatively drawn. It is visually appealing. But the instructions, advice, and recipes are easy to follow and mouth watering.

You can order a copy here from Amazon.com.

Two Day Stew

I was sick this past week and up late watching the Cooking Channel. Alton Brown came on and I saw his stew recipe. I modified it a bit from what he had. My mom and dad made beef stew when I was young. I had been wanting it and decided, after seeing Good Eats, to combine the best of both worlds. It takes two days. Neither is intensive. It is totally worth it.

6 boneless short ribs
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup cider vingear
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs smoked paprika
Kosher salt
1 tsp. pepper

1 cup sweet onion minced
2 sticks celery finely chopped
1 garlic clove minceed
4 cups diced red skin potatoes
1 small bag baby carrots
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs pepper
Beef stock

Day 1:

Heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over medium high heat. Sprinkle kosher sale on ribs.

Mix tomato, vinegar, Whorcestershire sauce, paprika, and pepper in a bowl.

Sear short rib on each side to develop a char (1 to 2 minutes per side) then place in bowl with mixture.

Toss to coat then wrap tightly in an aluminum foil package. Make sure the seam is on top and place on a rimmed baking pan.

Place in cold oven and set it to 250°F. Cook for 4.5 hours.

Remove from the oven and let it cool briefly.

Hold the foil package over a measure cup that holds at minimum 16 oz of fluid. Pierce the bag and drain the contents into the measuring cup.

Place the measuring cup in the fridge. Wrap more foil around the meat, let it cool, then place in the fridge overnight.

Later that night: place the liquid in the freezer to freeze the fat on top. Once the fat is well frozen, run a knife around the inside edge of the cup to loosen the fat, remove it, scrape the bottom clean, then wrap it tightly in saran wrap and put it back in the freezer. Move the rest of the liquid to the fridge.

Day 2:

Cut up the vegetables. Place the potatoes in water to prevent browning.

Heat aRemove the fat disk from the freezer. Cut it in half. Place half in a 5 quart dutch oven over medium heat on the stove. Save the other half for another use or discard.

Heat the saved liquid in the microwave to get warm.

Add the onion and celery. Cook until tender and browning, about 20 minutes.

Add garlic and brown slightly.

Pour in the liquid.

Add the potatoes, carrots, herbs, and seasoning.

Cook for 1 hour.

While cooking, remove the meat from the fridge. Cut into 1 inch chunks removing all the fat and connecting tissue.

Once the potatoes are soft, add the meat and heat until the meat is heated through. Add extra beef stock if needed for liquid.

Bourbon-Buttermilk Gingerbread

This just came out of my oven. The whole house smells great. One note about this recipe — it is not a sweet gingerbread. It has very deep flavor and you may want to top it with some whipped cream when eating.

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup molasses
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons bourbon
½ cup buttermilk

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch cake pan and set aside. Cream butter with the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy, add molasses, then beat in eggs.

2. Add flour, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

3. Add bourbon and buttermilk and turn batter into pan.

4. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (check after 20 minutes). Cool on a rack.