Friday, February 25, 2011

Whole Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

Very excited to announce that I'll be doing a monthly column for my friends over at The Art of Manliness.  If you've yet to check out their site, do yourself a favor and go immediately.  I've been fortunate to create several posts for their outstanding site in the past, and I'm really looking forward to this new series.  Head over and check it out here.

Kitchen Fundamentals
During my senior high school football season, my coach forced me to make the switch from linebacker to wingback.  Initially, I was excited about being on the offensive side of the ball.   Envisioning my name in print for scoring the winning touchdown in Saturday’s newspaper had quite the appeal.  Besides, I had spent the past three years on the other side of the coin, and since defensive players rarely get the recognition they deserve, I was ready to get my moment in the sun.

Boy was I wrong.  My coach did not intend for me to carry, much less catch the ball.  Instead, he wanted to use me as an oversized blocking back.  Out of a playbook of over one-hundred plays, only one offered the opportunity of getting the ball into my hands.  Oh well.

Never to be discouraged, I embraced my new role as wingback.  For me, playing defense was always relatively simple: A) Find the man with the ball B) Tackle the man with the ball.  Offense, however presented new challenges:  memorizing plays, adjusting to different assignments, and working off the snap count.

Thankfully, I caught on fairly fast.  As a former linebacker, I was accustomed to playing physical football.  I had no problem making blocks at full speed against linemen twice my size.  In fact, I enjoyed the challenge.  That was of course, until I attempted to thwart an oncoming pass rush.

It was a late August afternoon and I had just about solidified my starting role as wingback before our exhibition game.  My high school was serious about football – so serious that we had lights on our practice field to ensure nightfall never stopped us from becoming ‘winners’.  So, as the sun was setting, my teammates and I were anxiously trying to wrap things up before the dreaded words “turn on the lights” came out of my coach’s mouth.  

Standing in the slot position, I was set to defend an oncoming defensive end from reaching the quarterback.  When the ball was snapped, I went on the attack.  I was determined to show this guy who was boss, and more importantly, end practice early.  With my eyes fixated on the numbers on his jersey, I went for the big hit . . . darkness.

 
As I pulled clumps of grass out of my facemask and got back on my feet, I witnessed my own worst nightmare – my quarterback hurled into a ball on the ground with the defensive end jumping up and down in excitement.  My competitor had used a simple ‘”swim” move to face-plant me and sack the quarterback.  Around that time my coach threw his clipboard and began hurling insults in my direction.  I’m pretty sure “waste of human flesh” made it out of his mouth during his tirade.  I was ruined.

Yet, when the verbal abuse finally ended, my coach took me by the arm to discuss the “fundamentals” of blocking the pass rush.  I guess he understood that I’d never been taught the basics of my new position.  In that very moment, I learned an important lesson.  Countering the pass rush is more about defending, and not attacking.  You see, it’s all about keeping a solid base and using the momentum of the defensive player to take him outside of the pocket.  It’s more reactive than proactive. 

Just a few tips and a short lesson later, I now possessed the fundamentals which made me a successful player throughout the season. 

Thanks coach.

Though I’m no longer on the football field, I’m constantly reminded of that lesson throughout my life.  Whenever taking on a new challenge, it’s important to master the fundamentals.  Taking shortcuts or relying on luck will only take one so far.

Today, in my role as a food and lifestyle writer, the problem I most encounter is that readers lack fundamentals in the kitchen.  I’m not talking about how to boil water – that excuse is more about ignorance than anything else.  Instead, I’m talking about the basic skills or recipes that each man should possess as part of their culinary repertoire. 

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate to write several posts for The Art of Manliness related to easy, healthy, and simple meals.  Now that I’ll be taking on a monthly column, I figured it prudent to get back to the fundamentals. 

I’m starting off this month with a simple, yet elegant dish that will serve each of you well throughout your life.  A whole roasted chicken is an incredibly affordable and foolproof way to entertain guests or feed a family.  Better yet, it’s another one skillet meal.

Spend about 30 minutes putting this dish together, and move on to other tasks while waiting for the oven to do it’s magic.  The aromas coming out of your kitchen will be incredible, but do not open the oven until at least an hour and fifteen minutes into the process.  Trust me.   Cracking the oven door will release all of the heat, stalling the cooking process.

A meal all-in-one: lean protein, vegetables, and starches make this a healthy, balanced dinner.  Of course, you can round out this dish with a simple salad.  I’ve included a basic ‘house salad’ recipe that will go along nicely.  

Serve with either a dry white wine or lighter reds (Pinot Noir, Cotes du Rhone, etc.)

Enjoy!

MM

P.S. I need your help.  In the comments, let me know what you’d like to learn in the kitchen.  Whether it’s knife skills, or how to make fresh pasta, a perfect rib roast, or even a salad dressing, I’ll take all of your thoughts into consideration throughout the year.

House Salad
4 Cups Chopped Green Leaf Lettuce, loosely packed
6-8 Cherry Tomatoes
¼ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt*
½ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
½ Teaspoon Italian Blend Seasoning

Combine greens, tomatoes, and onions into a large serving bowl.  In a separate mixing bowl, combine oil and vinegar, mix vigorously to combine ingredients.  Pour the mixture over salad and season with salt, pepper, and Italian blend seasoning.  Toss well and serve.















Roasted Whole Chicken with Vegetables
1 5 – 6 lb Roaster Chicken
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Fresh Thyme
1 Head Garlic, cut in half
½ Lemon
Unsalted Butter
Butchers Twine
2 lbs Petite Red Potatoes, quartered
1 Red Onion, roughly chopped
10 Carrots, peeled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Thoroughly rinse chicken, removing neck and giblets, and pat dry.  Coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Season the cavity with salt and pepper and stuff with garlic, ½ lemon, and about 10 sprigs of fresh thyme.  Carefully pull back the skin from the breast, creating a small pocket, and work about a tablespoon of butter between the skin and the meat for each breast.  Finally, tie the legs together using butchers twine.  In a shallow roasting pan or large cast iron skillet, add the remaining vegetables.  Drizzle the vegetables with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss until evenly distributed.  Place the chicken on top of the vegetables (breast side up) and roast in the oven, 1 hour 15 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. 















Remove the chicken from the oven and rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.  Slice the chicken and serve immediately with the cooked vegetables.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Standing Rib Roast














Nothing like a huge chunk of meat to start out your weekend!  Now that Valentine's Day is out of the way, I figured I'd share a recipe for the guys.  Of course, I love a girl who can enjoy a steak and a glass of wine, so ladies . . . indulge.


Think of this meal as prime rib.  The best part?  You get to be "that guy" at the carving station, slicing off perfectly medium rare pieces of meat for your hungry guests.  I enjoy making this when I'm entertaining about 6 - 8 of my closest friends. 

Keep it simple.  Allow the roast to do its work in the oven while you work on making the potatoes.  As the roast is resting, you can quickly take care of the spinach.

Off to LA.  Have a great weekend everybody - and happy President's Day - pray for our leaders and those that serve.

MM


Standing Rib Roast
1 4 -5 lb Rib Roast
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
10 Cloves Garlic


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Meanwhile, place roast – rib side down – into a heavy bottomed skillet and coat in olive oil.  Season entire roast very liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper and arrange garlic cloves in the bottom of the pan.  Place roast into oven and cook for 1 – ½ hours (about 15 minutes per pound), or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees for medium rare.  Remove from heat and rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
5 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 Sticks Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
Roasted Garlic Cloves (from Rib Roast), skin removed
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
2 Tablespoons Chives, finely chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat; add potatoes and cook until just fork tender, 10 – 12 minutes.  Remove and strain potatoes, allowing all of the water to evaporate.  Reduce heat to low, and place the empty pot back on the stove and melt the butter into the cream.  Add potatoes, roasted garlic, and season with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Using a masher or ricer, mash potatoes until desired consistency is reached, adding more cream for a looser consistency.  Garnish with chives and serve immediately.

Sautéed Spinach
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
3 lbs Fresh Baby Spinach
Kosher Salt
½ Lemon


Preheat a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil.  Add red pepper flakes and sauté for 30 seconds – 1 minute, careful not to brown.  Add spinach and sauté until reduced and tender, 4 – 5 minutes.  Season with kosher salt (to taste), and finish with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  Serve.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fox Recap and WSJ

Thanks to all of those who tuned in to catch my spot on Fox & Friends.  I had a great time hanging out with the entire staff and crew - cool folks - can't wait to go back!  For those that missed it, check out the video here.

Also, a special thanks to Willa Plank over at The Wall Street Journal for a fantastic interview.  I think she nailed it, seeing as though I'm enjoying a glass of wine while I write this post.

Been several weeks of travel as of late, which accounts for my lack of posting.  My apologies.  If you are looking for more recipes (Buy the book!) I promise to get on it as soon as my travels allow me to spend more time in Nashvegas.

Otherwise, I've got more big news in the works.  Working on a few things to get HHOFD in stores everywhere, and also to have And for Breakfast out as soon as possible.

Remember guys, if you used one of my recipes to pull off a special Valentine's Day meal, you owe me a beer.  Off to LA, Nashville, Chattanooga, Tulsa, and (God's Country) Athens, Ga.

Cheers!

MM

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fox & Friends & WSJ

Be sure to tune in Saturday from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. EST for my segment on cooking a romantic Valentine's Day meal.  Also, be sure to check out The Wall Street Journal.  I was recently interviewed on the book and other happenings.  Of course, I've supplied another signature recipe.  The following meal below will be featured on Fox & Friends.


 




















Sweet Basil, Tomato, and Feta Bruschetta
½ Loaf French Bread, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, reserves for garnish
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Cherry Tomatoes, thinly sliced
4 oz Crumbled Feta Cheese
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lay out bread slices on a baking sheet and brush generously with olive oil and season with fresh cracked pepper.  Place pan in the oven and bake 6-8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Immediately top with sliced tomatoes and crumbled feta and return to oven for 2-3 minutes.  Meanwhile carefully stack and roll the basil leaves together and thinly slice, or chiffonade.  Remove bruschetta from oven and garnish with fresh basil and a light drizzle of remaining olive oil over the top of each slice.  Serve.

Sautéed Shrimp, Mushrooms, and Peas over Penne w/ Parmesan Cream Sauce


 8 oz Barilla Plus Penne Pasta
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 oz Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Cup Frozen Green Peas
1 lb Medium (21 - 30 ct) Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 Cup Dry White Wine
8 oz Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, plus more for garnish/taste


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add penne pasta and cook just under al dente, about 10 minutes, drain and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter into the olive oil.  Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until browned and tender, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Next add peas and shrimp and cook for 2 - 3 minutes, or until shrimp just begin to firm and turn pink.  Remove entire contents of the pan to a plate to keep warm;  return the pan to the heat.  Next, add the wine to deglaze the hot pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Allow the wine to reduce by half, or 2 - 3 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium low, add cream, and allow to simmer and reduce for 4 - 5 minutes; taste, adjust seasoning, and keep a close eye on the cream to prevent from boiling.  When the cream has reduced by half, add the mushroom/pea/shrimp mixture into the cream to finish cooking.  Toss in cooked pasta and cheese, and mix thoroughly until well combined.  Remove from heat and serve with grated Parmesan to taste.


 













Chocolate Covered Strawberries
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
½ Cup Whole Milk
10 oz Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
1 lb Fresh Strawberries, washed and dried thoroughly

Fill a two quart pot with 2-3 inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium high heat.  Place butter, milk, and chocolate into a separate heatproof medium bowl and carefully rest it inside of the pot with the simmering water.  Remove pot from heat and allow chocolate to slowly melt in the bowl, stirring on occasion.  Holding the stem, dip each strawberry into the melted chocolate, ensuring an even coat, and place on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.  Continue until all strawberries have been dipped, or no chocolate remains.  Set the strawberries aside for at least 30 minutes, to allow the chocolate to set; or keep in the fridge until ready to serve. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Grilled Top Sirloin with Blue Cheese, Steamed Broccoli, and Cherry Tomatoes

Low carb, low schmarb.

Seriously, from sans-a-bun burgers to lettuce wraps, the whole low-carb diet is pretty exhausting.

Sometimes it reminds me of the immortal words  of our pal Harry Dunn -

"Okay, alright!"

The rules are simple:

1)  Reduce your dependency on carbs, especially white starches (breads, rice, pasta, potatoes, etc)
2)  Keep your blood sugar low
3) Allow your metabolism to work on overdrive
4) Burn fat, lose weight.

It's really no secret.  Processed foods, grains, etc. are not good for you.

But damn - They are good.

So how do we make up for those lost carbs?  By eating a shit-ton of steak, that is!  Celebrate the low carb diet by focusing on great vegetables and lean proteins.  Of course, you should probably work chicken, shrimp, fish, and other lean proteins in from time to time, but tonight I felt like eating a steak.

Yes, it was dinner for one this evening.

Since it was just me, I didn't want to spend a fortune on a snobby cut of meat.  Instead, I went for a humble top sirloin cut.  Sure, it's a mediocre steak.  But, with a little help from my friend (vinegar and blue cheese), a quick marinade and a simple topping put me in a steak coma.

Go guilt free with some steamed broccoli and a few cherry tomatoes, and you will forget all about that fight with your girlfriend.

Bottoms up to a good Zinfandel pairing on this meal.

Cheers, gentlemen!

MM

Grilled Top Sirloin with Blue Cheese, Steamed Broccoli, and Cherry Tomatoes

8 oz Top Sirloin
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Crumbled Blue Cheese
1/2 Head Fresh Broccoli, ends trimmed
1 Teaspoon Unsalted Butter
1/4 Cup Cherry Tomatoes

Preheat oven to broil.  Set steak out at room temperature and douse in oil and vinegar.  Just before adding to grill over medium high heat, season both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Meanwhile, add about 1/2 inch of water to a small stockpot over hight heat.  Bring water to a boil and add broccoli.  Cover and steam for 90 seconds.  Reduce heat to low, season with salt and pepper, and keep covered.  Add steak to grill and cook for two minutes, turn 45 degrees (creating nice grill marks) and cook for another two minutes.  Flip steak and top with blue cheese; insert into oven until blue cheese is just browned and steak is medium rare (about 1 minute).  Remove from heat and allow steaks to rest.  Add butter to broccoli; allowing to melt.  Plate broccoli and steak side by side.  Garnish with cherry tomatoes and serve immediately.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Perfect Bite Nachos

Thanks to all of those who voted.  We got great feedback on the poll, and the decision came down to the wire.  I got to tell you, it's been a really rough night for me.  Watching re-runs of No Reservations, eating nachos, and drinking beer . . . life is tough.

Ah, you know me better.  It's not often I indulge, so thanks for humoring me.

So, here it is.  My recipe for perfect bite nachos.  Perfect bite you ask?  Done and done.  We've all been there.  That plate of nachos that arrives to the table whereby 40% contain all the goodness and the other 60% are made up of just chips - come on - you know where I'm coming from.  Nobody wants to be "that guy" who always gets the best chip, so instead you binge and purge.  A chip with all of the good stuff (binge), followed by a few mediocre bites of chips and minimal ingredients (purge).

I've solved your problems.  Each nacho is prepared with a little love and care, i.e. each bite is the same.  Sure there's a little work involved, but trust me, the payoff is totally worth it.

One tip - work as fast as possible.  You want your chips to be crisp, especially when loaded down with so many ingredients.  Of course, you can add to what's listed here - seasoned ground beef, grilled chicken, shrimp, etc.  It's up to you.

Gotta say it - Go Pack!

Perfect Bite Nachos

2 Bags Tortilla Chips
32 oz Can Refried Beans
8 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
8 oz Monterey Jack Cheese, grated
1 Jar Sliced Jalapenos
Cherry Tomatoes, sliced thin
Green Onions, sliced thin
Sour Cream
Salsa


Preheat oven to broil setting.  Spread a thin layer of refried beans on each chip and place onto a baking sheet lined with foil.  Sprinkle generously with cheese, and top each chip with a sliced jalapeno.  Place on the middle rack of the oven and broil until edges are slightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 1 - 2 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with sliced tomatoes and green onions.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.





Updates: Books A Million, Super Bowl, Fox

Last Resort Press is happy to announce that Books A Million is now carrying Have Her Over for Dinner in stores and online.  Visit a store near you to pick up a copy!


 There's still time to vote on our poll for your favorite Super Bowl party food.  Voting ends today at 5:00 p.m.  The best part?  I get to make the dish for dinner tonight so that I can share with you my recipe and photos in time for the weekend.  Indulging in food and drinking cold beer?  Yes, please.




Don't forget!  We're back on national television on Fox & Friends Weekend Edition on Feb. 12th.  I'll be doing a romantic meal that's perfect for Valentine's Day.