Monday, April 22, 2013

Pork Burgers with Fried Brussels Sprouts

So, I graduated.  Officially graduated from culinary school.  I now have a degree in Culinary Arts.  Pretty freakin' awesome.

How did we celebrate?  Well, thanks to a fantastic gift card from my parents, we now are the proud owners of a meat grinder attachment to our KitchenAid (as well as a pretty awesome juicer - Andy's been on this homemade juice kick - and I gotta tell ya, I'm loving the fresh juice combos he's coming up with!).

So the first thing I did?  Went out and bought some pork sausage casings and ground up some sweet pork sausages.  Let me tell you - without an actual sausage stuffer attachment for our KitchenAid or an actual manual sausage stuffer - it's pretty time consuming to stuff some sausages.  I ended up MacGuyver-ing my way through with a pastry bag fitted with a large tip and ended up with decent results - although I'd much rather dish out the $12 for the sausage stuffer attachment for next time.

Anyway, as I got tired of manually stuffing sausages, I didn't end up going through all of the ground pork I had.  With the rest of it, I made these pretty sweet burgers.  So good.  And yeah, I definitely don't plan on buying ground meat ever again (well, let's keep it real, maybe once in a blue moon... or if Andy goes grocery shopping and ends up bringing it home).  But seriously, freshly ground meat is definitely more superior than the grocery stuff!


1 lb. ground pork (I had about a 70/30 ratio of meat to fat)
salt and pepper, to taste
Mayo, optional
pepperjack cheese, optional
fried egg, optional
burger buns, or sandwich bread in my case

Fried Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. brussels sprouts, quartered and blanched
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
oil, for frying

You of course could season your ground meat with whatever you fancy, but I like to keep it simple with just a bit of salt and pepper.  I like dressing up a burger as a whole, rather than trying to really flavor the meat.  Because well... the meat speaks for itself.  Right?  Right.

Anyway, form the meat into thin 4 ounce patties.  Think Steak N' Shake burger style. 

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat and add a little bit of oil to coat the pan.  Place two patties in the pan and cook until starting to brown.  Flip over and place cheese (if using) on top of each patty.  Continue to cook until the patty is cooked through and the cheese is melted.  Place one patty on top of the other and transfer to a plate to rest.  At this point, you can assemble all of your burger toppings, and you can really be as creative as you want here.   But I had some extra brussels sprouts in the fridge and needed to use them up, so why not fry them, right?

Heat oil or deep fryer to 325 F.

Combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and oregano.  Mix well.  Dredge the brussels sprouts in the seasoned flour and dust off any excess.

Place in deep fryer and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-4 minutes.  Drain on paper towel-lined plate and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble this awesome burger, toast some burger buns lightly (or use sandwich bread like I did - I had everything else on hand and I was too lazy to leave the house to get some burger buns).  Get a good smear of mayo on both pieces of bread.  Top the bottom bun with the two burger patties.  Then place a good amount of the fried brussels sprouts on top of the burger and top with a fried egg - good and yolky!  Then close is on up with the top of the bun.

And there you have a pretty darn good burger.  Different, but oh so delicious.

What's your favorite burger combo?!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Honey Glazed Pork Loin & Belly

It's hard to speak about the trivial things going on in my own life when such tragedies as today's events in Boston occur.  So instead of rambling about being tired, or being over-worked, or stressed... I'm just going to say I'm thankful.  We never know when our last day will come.  Nor do we know what tomorrow will bring.  So I'm thankful for my health, my sanity, my family.  And my prayers go out to all of the families affected by today's awful event.


Pork Belly:

1 lb. pork belly
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup salt
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 cups chicken stock
1-2 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb. pork loin, cut into 1 & 1/2 inch thick medallions
salt and pepper, to taste

Honey Glaze:

1/2 cup water 
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup honey
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon black peppercorns

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, paprika, onion powder, cayenne, and garlic powder. 

Score the pork belly and rub the spice mixture all over the pork belly, making sure to get in the creases of the scoring.  Tightly wrap pork belly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 275 F.

Unwrap pork belly and rinse off spice rub.  Pat pork belly dry. 

Heat a large oven-proof skillet under medium high heat and add olive oil.  Sear the pork belly, scored side first, until golden and caramelized.  Add enough chicken stock to the pan to come up halfway on the pork belly.  Transfer skillet to oven and cook until pork belly is nice and tender, about 4-6 hours.  Alternatively, you can do this step in a slow-cooker if you don't want to have your oven on for such a long period of time.

Combine the water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, garlic, and black peppercorns in a small saucepan.  Reduce mixture by half or until slightly thickened.  Set aside.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Season the pork loin medallions with salt and pepper, to taste.  Add oil to the saute pan.

Add the pork loin to the pan and cook until caramelized.  Flip over and cook until at desired temperature.  About a minute or so before done, pour some of the glaze liquid into the hot pan and let the mixture thicken around the pork loin to coat it.

Brush some of the thickened glaze on the pork belly, as well.

We served this with some creamy grits and balsamic brussels sprouts.  Definitely a tasty meal.

I hope you all have a great rest of the week and remember not to take any day for granted!  Be safe!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Salmon w/ Lemon Parsley Green Beans & Spicy Ranch

Louisville, KY has been in the spotlight lately.  Especially after Monday night's win at the NCAA championship - which for a non-basketball watcher, was actually quite exciting.  I heard fireworks and people screaming for well into the night, long after the game actually ended.  And I didn't mind.  It was pretty cool to hear the city come alive and come together.

And here in about a month or so, tons of people from all over the country will flood into the city to witness the most exciting 2 minutes in sports - the Kentucky Derby.  It's always a time of drinking bourbon, eating food, spending money, and watching the races!  I'm definitely proud to call Louisville my home.

Another exciting thing, which may not be as exciting to those of you who are not from Louisville or Kentucky - but the chef that owns the restaurant that I currently work at, Edward Lee - is coming out with a cookbook.  And it looks awesome.  Smoke & Pickles will definitely be on my bookshelf come May 1st - and I hope it'll be on yours too!

Anyway, Andy loved this meal.  I don't know if he was starving by the time I made it, or if he really just overly enjoyed it, but he cleared his plate AND the rest of mine too.  Another winner in the books!


2 6 oz. salmon fillets
flour, for dredging
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Green Beans:

1 lb. hericot verts (French green beans), blanched and shocked
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Spicy Ranch:

1 cup ranch dressing
1 tablespoon Gochujang paste (Korean chili paste)
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon sesame oil
water, as needed

Heat a large skillet under medium high heat.  Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter and add garlic.  Saute until fragrant.  Toss in the hericot verts and coat in the butter.  Add the lemon juice and cook until reduced.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Toss the hericot verts with the parsley until combined. 

In a small bowl, combine the ranch, Gochujang, maple syrup, and sesame oil.  If the mixture is too thick, add a little bit of warm water until you reach your desired consistency.

Heat a large saute pan under medium high heat.  Add the olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter. 

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour, dusting off any excess.  Add the salmon to the saute pan and cook until browned.  Flip over and cook until desired temperature.  I like to cook my salmon to medium, with a little bit of pink still in the middle.

To plate, place a good amount of sauce on the center of the plate.  Place green beans on sauce and top with salmon fillets.  We had some onion rings in the freezer and decided to fry those up and serve them with this as an added crunch factor.  It was pretty darn delicious, if you ask me!

Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fettuccine w/ Artichokes, Tomatoes, & Spinach

How is everyone's week going so far? 

I can't believe it's already Wednesday.  This week has just flown by, hasn't it?

The next 10 day forecast is in the 50+ range, so Spring is definitely making it's way to Kentucky.  I made Andy this pasta dish for lunch because it was easy, delicious, and made me think of Spring!

Sorry to be short and quick today, but this girl has got some major errands and Spring cleaning to do!


1 lb. fettuccine noodles
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
2 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add fettuccine and cook until al dente.  Drain and toss in olive oil to keep from sticking together.

In a large saute pan, melt butter under medium high heat.  Add shallot and garlic and cook until fragrant.  Add cherry tomatoes and artichokes and cook for another minute or two.  Deglaze pan with white wine and reduce until only 2-3 tablespoons remain. 

Add heavy cream and reduce until thickened. Add in parmesan cheese and spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Add pasta and toss until coated with the sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 

Serve in hot plates or bowls with garlic bread.  Dig on in!

Easy and so versatile!  Change out the vegetables based on what you have on hand, or keep it as is!  The possibilities are really endless!  Hope you guys have a great rest of the week!