Chicken Fried Steak from a Yankee

I’ll admit it — I know nothing about Southern cooking except for what I’ve seen on the Food Network. But I’ve been experimenting with some Southern recipes and liking the results. I am far from an authority on Chicken Fried Steak (I am a Jersey girl after all), but I had some cube steak laying around and figured, why not? For those of you who don’t know, cube steak is the meat of choice for chicken fried steak. It is a cut of beef that has been tenderized, usually by a machine if mass-produced, but sometimes by a meat hammer. It’s a nice, cheap cut of steak that cooks up rather quickly and comes from the top round or top sirloin. The cubing (a.k.a. tenderizing) machine may even fuse two pieces of meat together to form one cutlet.

I was pretty happy with the dish, but it was too rich for me. I am more into light food, like roasted fish or sauteed veggies. Between the red meat, the frying, and the double-coating, this amounted to a hearty meal. It was tasty, and I highly recommend it, but I am such a light eater that I probably won’t be making it again unless I haven’t eaten all day.

This version is a fusion of a Bobby Flay recipe & an Alton Brown recipe. Those two guys know what they’re doing so I don’t mess around too much with what they’ve come up with. It’s also quite straightforward: dredge the steaks in seasoned flour, egg, then flour again. Fry. Make sauce. Serve. Enjoy!

Oh, and you should probably serve these steaks with mashed potatoes and collard greens!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…


BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders from a Yankee

So what if I’m a Yankee attempting some down-home Southern cooking? These babies are delicious. And they’re also a labor of love. Each step isn’t particularly hard, but it does take time. I made the BBQ sauce myself – about an hour of cooking time. I made a spice rub for the pork and let it penetrate the meat in the fridge overnight. I roasted that pork butt in the oven for hours. And honestly, I didn’t anticipate how long it took to pull apart a hunk of meat with two forks. I had to take a break and let my man do the rest of the work. But it all worked out — that meat was so tender I barely needed to chew.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of dilly-dallying by a grill for hours on end so I had to bake this in the oven. Next time, I’ll see if I can get some friends to come out on a lazy Sunday afternoon and drink beers by the grill while a pork butt smokes in there to be ready in time for dinner.

And can we take a step to the side and speculate why it’s called pork butt? Because it comes from the shoulder part of the pig. The actual butt (as in, hindquarters) of a pig is a ham. Why do they call the shoulder a butt? It’s also sometimes known as Boston butt. It’s not like pigs come from Massachusetts. I just don’t get it.

And we’re back from the tangent. Let me tell you a couple of things that I learned while creating these succulent sliders.

1. You need a spice rub for your pork and it should contain some brown sugar. You should rub the meat with a thin coat of oil and then cover with the spice rub and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. This is because some spices are oil soluble so their flavor really shines when they’re sprinkled onto a layer of oil and it also helps them stick. The combo with brown sugar forms a gorgeous and flavorful crust all over the pork during cooking.

2. The pork needs to cook “low n slow” – at a low temperature for a really long time. This helps dissolve the fat and connective tissues to help the meat become fork tender. You should let it come to room temp before cooking and let it rest for at least 15 minutes after (covered in foil to keep it warm). These steps help the meat to keep its juices and stay moist and wonderful.

Read the recipes and the rest of the post here…

Chili Pork in Sweet Maple Sauce

In a desire to keep this blog (and my diet) from becoming all chicken all the time, I am making an effort to buy different cuts of meat at the store.  It’s actually been a challenge, since I am primarily a poultry and seafood eater. But in an effort to branch out, I’ve been buying pork. It helps when it’s on sale. I bought a thin-sliced pork loin, which is really lean and cooks up in a matter of minutes. I also did a pork chop loin, which is thicker and takes a while longer to cook. In both cases, I used the same sauce.

And in both cases, it was definitely a success. The sauce was sweet and complemented the pork really well. The whole recipe comes together very quickly and I recommend it for a weeknight meal. You can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes!

I served this with a spinach side. I just sauteed some spinach in the leftover pan juices and added a some raisins and pine nuts. What a quick and easy side!
Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Braised Beef Mock Tenders in Red Wine Sauce

First order of business: please forgive this picture. I took it at night and I realize the lighting is horrible. This, believe it or not, is the best of the bunch. I deemed it “just barely shareable.”

Moving on, we saw some beef on sale at the grocery stores — mock tenders — and bought them because they were so cheap. Sale or not, this is generally a cheap cut of beef. I’d never heard of them before, but it turns out they go by a bunch of other names, like shoulder tender, chuck fillet, petite fillet, chuck clod tender, tender medallions, and beef medallions.  I like to think of them as baby steaks since they’re about 4″ across. They look like this:

And let me tell you, this cut is actually pretty tough if you don’t treat it right. It benefits from a long, slow cooking time and a wet cooking method like stewing or braising. I let it go for a little under 2 hours before it was tender enough to pull apart with a fork.

I am relieved that I didn’t accidentally set my kitchen on fire when I was making this dish. I had gotten everything simmering and and there was an hour of cooking time left when I needed to go pick Matt up from work. So I took a gamble; I set the gas stove on the lowest possible flame, I turned the exhaust fan up to the highest setting, and I ran out of the apartment quickly. I sped like a madwoman on the highway to and from his office and I made it back in record time. Thank god there was no billowing smoke or firetrucks parked outside when we got back. The tenders were happily simmering along as if nothing had happened. Whew! Crisis averted!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Really Quick and Really Tasty Marinated Steak

The weather has been so beautiful that we decided to grill. There was a steak in the fridge and we were ready to go outside to BBQ. So I had to find a quick way to add a lot of flavor. And I found this amazing recipe.  I just threw some garlic and equal amounts of maple syrup, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce into a shallow dish. I let the steaks marinate for 15 minutes and grilled them. They came out perfect.  The flavors are so bold that it doesn’t take long to infuse the steaks with flavor. The recipe calls for sirloin flap steaks but I used a top sirloin and cut it in half to make two thin steaks. A more tender cut would be better, but the flavors really came through in the top sirloin also.

The taste is a little sweet, a little salty, a little tangy and very delicious. In terms of ease and convenience, this recipe cannot be beat. You just throw steaks into some pantry ingredients and go! You barely need to wait for the flavors to seep through. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you don’t feel like running to the store. It’s also perfect for a lazy way to make a great-tasting meal. Or when you can’t wait to go outside to grill because the weather is so amazing!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Rosemary Butter Steak with Mustard Cream Sauce

rosemary butter steak with mustard cream sauce and rosemary roasted potatoes

I’m not big on red meat. But the guy I’m dating loves it. So I took my first stab at cooking steak (ever!) and I did pretty well if I do say so myself. I searched for a simple but well-reviewed recipe that didn’t require me to purchase a bunch of ingredients I don’t commonly use. And epicurious came through for me, as usual. The one thing I’m upset about is that I didn’t constantly check on the meat, so it cooked all the way through even though I was looking to get it medium rare.

This recipe got a thumbs up from my man, even though the cooking temp wasn’t to his liking. He really enjoyed the rosemary butter that was smeared on top and he said the mustard cream sauce was a great complement. I served it with rosemary roasted potatoes as a simple and filling side.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…