Ah, the Fourth of July. For some reason in America it has become linked with outdoor grilling and the basest of food. Pork lips and assholes into an oft-kilter cylindrical type shape known as a “hot dog.” Sloppy Joes that taste as good as they look. Chicken and steaks that are burned on the outside and still raw on the inside. It’s the one time of the year in which the America celebrates its independence from England by cooking as horribly as if we were still colonies.
What I thought would be a good idea for this long holiday weekend edition of Nyogtha was to spice up those antiquated and horribly prepared dishes and give you something that resembles those familiar dishes of torture, but that taste good and will impress your family tomorrow.
Asiatic Sloppy Joes
I actually got this recipe from Ming Tsai who owns Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA. He also has a website at www.Ming.com. His old FoodTV network show of “East Meets West” was my favorite to ever air on that network, eclipsing even Iron Chef. Instead of that awful tomato-BBQ combo sauce American Sloppy Joes are drenched in, this uses a lovely hoisin-lime sauce, which I’ll also provide the recipe to later. As this is Asian, it also uses a mix of pork and beef to accent the flavour.
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 medium red onions, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup celery, diced into 1/4 inch pieces
2 jalapenos, stemmed and minced. (If you can’t get real peppers, use a tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce)
1 lb. ground pork
1 lb. ground beef
8 ounces chopped roma tomatoes
1 1/2 cups Hoisin-Lime sauce (we’ll get to it)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (as always)
4-6 hamburger buns (make sure you get the thick kind to absorb the liquids)
1 head of iceburg lettuce, shredded
1. Heat a large (deep) saucepan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl it about the pan. Add the onions, celery and jalapeno. Saute the veggies until soft. This should take about 2 minutes. Add the beef and pork and brown it lightly. Use your preferred stirring implement to break up any clumps. The browning should take about five minutes.
2. Next, add the tomatoes and the Hoisin-Lime sauce. Season with salt and pepper to your preferred taste. Bring the mixture to a slow simmer and cook until the liquids are cooked down and it is thick enough to mound when you ladel it. This should be after the 30-45 minute mark.
3. Toast the buns and place a bottom half on each plate. Use some lettuce on the bottom to ack as an absorbent and a mat. Scoop helpings of the Sloppy Joe mixture and place more lettuce on top. Put on the top of the bun and chow down!
Now, that Hoisin-Lime sauce. If you are unfamiliar with Hoisin, it’s the sauce you encounter with Chinese pancakes. It’s served a lot with lettuce wraps as well.
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (you can crank that up to four if you’re a garlic nut like me)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cups hoisin sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Heat a wok or saute pan over medium heat. Add the 2 tablespoons of canola oil and swirl to cover the pan. Add the garlic and ginger next. Saute until soft. This will take about two minutes. Now add the Hoisin sauce and stir it to ensure it won’t scald. Cook while stirring constantly for 1 minute. Finally add the lime juice.
2. Transfer the mixture into a blender. While it is blending, SLOWLY ADD in the 1/2 cup canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool and store it. It will make two cups and last for two weeks.
There. Sloppy Joes down. Next up, let’s do something to replace those dreadful hot dogs. Instead of grilling the remains of ancient and mummified circus animals, why not follow the more haute cuisine trend of designer sausages. You know what I’m talking about. You see them in grocery stores and butchers all the time. Chicken sausages with apple and garlic is a common example. Pork with sun dried tomatoes are another. Maybe some Venison sausages, which are my personal favorite. In this case though, we’ll be looking at veal sausages. To enhance the flavour we’ll give them a relish of caramelized onions and fennel. Now, if fennel is something new to you, it has a very strong licorice flavour. People tend to love or hate it. It’s very commonly served with sausages in Europe, so I thought this would be an excellent way to introduce it to some of you. I do realize that not everyone knows how to caramelize, so I’ll give you a quick recipe for that as well.
Caramelized Fennel and Red Onions
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large red onions, sliced very thinly
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
12 ounces (usually 1 bottle) of an amber ale
Salt and pepper to taste (You could make a drinking game out of how many times I say that)
1 In a large skillet, add the butter and olive oil and cook at medium heat. Next, add the onions and fennel. Cook the mixture while stirring often until the veggies are soft and golden brown. This should be about 15 minutes. Sprinkle with the sugar and cook for another 5 minutes. You’ll see the vegetables turning dark brown. This lets you know they have been caramelized.
2. Pour in your ale of choice and simmer over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the veggies are VERY soft. This will only take five minutes or so, so keep an eye on things. Finally, add the salt and pepper to your taste.
Allright. We have your veggie mixture. Now to put the dish together.
Grilled Veal Sausages with Sauteed Apples, Caramelized Fennel, and Red Onions
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
2 tablespoons water
12 cooked veal sausages, sliced in half horizontally. (This is about 2 1/2-3 lbs of sausages)
1/2 cup of the caramelized onions and fennel mixture we made earlier
1. In a skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and saute the fruit for about five minutes. Make sure to stir constantly so they brown evenly. Add the lemon juice and the lemon zest and cook another minute. Finally, add the water and deglaze the pan so that it glazes the apples. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits. Keep the fruit warm.
2. Prepare your grill and have it set to medium-high heat. Grill the Sausages, turning as needed, for about 5-7 minutes.
3. Serve by arranging the sausages on everyone’s individual plates. Spoon some of the apple slices over the sausages and follow it with the onion/fennel mixture.
There. We’ve replaced Sloppy Joes and Hot Dogs. Now we have to do something about the common steak or chicken. Boring. We’ve already worked with beef, so let’s go with chicken. Here we’re going to be making it a little more Latin American style, by giving it an adobo flavor. Adobo is a savory combination of things like salt, chiles, and garlic. It’s a very common way to spice things up, even though every family seems to have their own variation of the mixture. For a final touch, we’ll use garlic butter as a nice marinade for the chicken breasts. Now, I’m going to assume you know how to make garlic butter. Please, please say you know how to make garlic butter.
Grilled Chicken in Adobo with Garlic Butter
6 dried New Mexico chilies, stemmed and seeded
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
6 lbs of chicken (your call on your preferred parts)
Garlic butter to taste
1. Place the chilies in a bow and cover with boiling water. Let sit until the chilies are soft and flexible. This is going to take about an hour, so be patient.
2. Drain the chiles and combine in a blender with 1 cup of the soaking liquid. Add the garlic, lime juice, oregano, and honey. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with the handy salt and pepper.
3. Place the chicken in a large dish and pour the marinade over them, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but no more than four. Remove from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Yes, lots of moving and temperature changes.
4. Heat your grill to medium. Remove the chicken from the marinade and season all over with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Grill, but do not move the chickens. This ensures the skin forms a crust and will pull away from the grate. After 10-12 minutes turn the pieces over, close the grill hood and grill for another ten minutes. Remove the chicken from the grill. Brush with garlic butter and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
There we go. Between all three dishes and five recipes, you should have a ton of food for your 4th of July family and friends feeding frenzy. What’s missing? Oh yes. Dessert. Let’s make a very simple and yet amazing ascetically pleasing sweet treat. This orange sherbet variant uses the originally husk of the orange for the dish. Girls think its adorable and guys will just ask for seconds.
2/3 cup sugar
Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
14 medium sized oranges
8 fresh bay leaves (For decoration)
1. Put the sugar in a heavy pan. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 cup water. Cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Bring to a boil and let it bubble for 2-3 minutes. You’ll know it is done when the syrup is clear. Let cool.
2. Slice the tops off eight of the oranges to make “hats” Scoop out the flesh of the oranges and reserve. Put the empty orange shells and hats on a tray and place in the freezer until we need them later on.
3. Grate the zest of the remaining oranges and add to the syrup. Squeeze all the juice from the fruit and reserved flesh. There should be about 8 cups. If not, use some store bought OJ to make up the difference.
4. Stir the orange juice and remaining lemon juice together, along with 6 tablespoons of water into the syrup. Taste. Add more lemon juice or sugar if you feel it is needed. Pour the mixture into a shallow container that can go into the freezer and let it stand in there for 3 hours.
5. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and whisk to break down the ice crystals. Freeze again for another 4 hours. Make sure it is firm, but not solid.
6. Pack the mixture into the orange shells and then set the “hats” on top. Freeze until ready to serve. Just before serving, push a small skewer or toothpick into the tops and push a bay leaf onto each one.
There you go. Our all cooking issue of Nyogtha has come to a close. Hopefully you’ll all make at least one of these recipes and report the favorable results. Have a great long weekend!