Iowa Loose Meat Sliders

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Iowa Loose Meat Sliders! If you’ve ever taken a road trip through Iowa, or are fortunate enough to live there, you’re already familiar with its popular loose meat sandwich found at local diners. Made of 100% freshly ground beef, the Midwest tradition began around 1926. Bypassing the form of a patty and omitting the sauce of a sloppy joe, what you saw was what you got—all loose meat. The steaming technique plus the combination of spices remain a trade secret. But if you’re willing to come pretty close, give this recipe a try. Just remember to hold the ketchup.

IOWA LOOSE MEAT SLIDERS

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 Vidalia onion, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins sauce

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 1/2 cups beer

1 teaspoon beef bouillon granules

6 slider buns

Sliced dill pickles

Minced onions

Instructions:

In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté onions in olive oil until translucent. Add ground beef. Cook until brown and crumbly. Add yellow mustard, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Stir in beer. Bring to boil. Add beef bouillon. Reduce to low heat. Simmer uncovered until all liquid is absorbed. Serve on toasted slider buns. Top with dill pickles, mustard, and minced onions.

English Pot Roast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: English Pot Roast! Simplify the evening meal. Let the crockpot do the cooking. By adding wine and herbs to the natural meat juices, the slow cooker locks in moisture which tenderizes the roast. Throw everything together, cover, and do something else. Without realizing it, you may find yourself imagining all sorts of ways to serve up the tantalizing leftovers. Utilize the pan drippings for a made-from-scratch gravy or savory soup stock. No matter how you serve it up, the results are Win, Win!

ENGLISH POT ROAST

Ingredients:

2 1/2 pound boneless English beef roast

1 cup dry red wine

10 ounce can beef consommé, undiluted

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence

Instructions:

Place the beef roast in the bottom of a slow cooker. Mix red wine, beef consommé, and balsamic vinegar to blend. Pour over the English roast. Sprinkle seasonings evenly over roast. Cover and turn on low heat setting. Cook 8 hours until fork tender. Serve with potatoes and vegetables for a well-balanced meal.

Chef’s Plate

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Food for Sharing: Chef’s Plate! Pull together a party-friendly charcuterie platter where finger foods rule. Make it as elaborate as you choose, depending on the size of the guest list. Obviously for an intimate dinner for two, something like this is a perfect balance of contrasting flavors. Keep the bread crunchy and the jam or jelly sweet. It offsets the fatty, salty meat by cutting through the richness of the buttery cheese. The tartness of gherkins is a classic choice for nibbling in between. Be creative. Anything goes.

CHEF’S PLATE

Ingredients:

Jalapeño Pepper Jelly

Cornichons Gherkins

Red Onion

Baguette Toast

Mixed Nuts

Summer Sausage Sticks

Aged Bleu Cheese

Bite-size Dry Salami

Instructions:

Fill small condiment bowls with pepper jelly, baby gherkins, and assorted mixed nuts. Slice baguette. Rub with olive oil and bake in a 350° oven for 10 minutes. Turn over and bake 5 minutes longer. Place on a chef’s board or in a bread basket. Arrange cured hard sausages around the wedge of Bleu cheese. Slices red onion and “fan” near the bread. Once the food is arranged, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the experience of grazing.

Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut

Dining Outside the Home: Mystic Pizza in Mystic, Connecticut! Step through the doors of the main street pizza parlor that made Julia Roberts famous in 1988. Mystic Pizza is the real deal. Visitors flock here to grab “a taste of heaven” firsthand, and also to snap a photo standing under the sign to prove it. The entire restaurant is filled with memorabilia as well as continuously running a flick of the film itself on flatscreen TVs. The pizza is pretty darn good, too. The House Special has mile high meats and veggies piled on. As long as you’re going all the way, add the extra cheese. You know you want it. If you haven’t seen the movie, spend an hour and a half watching it before you go. It’ll make the experience absolutely unforgettable.

Juicy Roast Turkey

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Start Smart: Juicy Roast Turkey! There’s nothing worse than dry-as-dust turkey, around the holidays. Watch your guests if they keep asking you to pass the gravy. Today I’m going to give you a few tips to keep that from happening. You can thank me when it’s your turn to host the holiday meal. Number one: Truss loosely, or not at all. The secret is to allow heat to get to all sides of the legs. Cooking the turkey until the legs are done may result in overcooking the breast meat. Number two: Don’t overcook. The timetable on the package is an estimate. Always use a meat thermometer, even if the turkey comes with a pop-up version. Always. Number three: (and this one is the hardest for me) Let the turkey “rest” before carving. I’m talking 20-30 minutes. Evidently, during the roasting process, the oven heat forces all the juices to the center of the turkey. When you allow it to “rest”, after it’s done, the juices seep back into the cavities and make the turkey moist. It’s definitely worth the wait.

JUICY ROAST TURKEY

Ingredients:

10-15 pound turkey, thawed

1/2 cup butter

1 lemon, juiced and zested

1 teaspoon thyme

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash the turkey, pat dry, and transfer to a roasting pan with a roasting rack. Stuff the turkey as desired. Otherwise, salt and pepper the inside of the cavity. In a small saucepan, warm the butter over low heat. Add the lemon juice, zest, and thyme. Brush the outside of the turkey with the butter mixture. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. Cover the roaster with the lid. Transfer pan to oven. Bake for two hours, basting the turkey every half hour. This insures even browning of the skin. Remove lid and roast turkey an additional 1 1/2 hours, continuing to baste at half hour intervals. When the meat thermometer reads 185°, remove the turkey from the oven. Transfer it to a cutting board; cover with foil. Let it rest for half an hour. This makes carving easier and produces a juicy roast turkey.

Ultra Charcuterie Board

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? All the Buzz: Ultra Charcuterie Board! Feel gourmet at home by creating your own charcuterie board the next time you want to serve appetizers. Choose any smoked, dry-cured, or cooked meat to accompany a couple of mellow cheese selections. I like the Edam cheese for its sweet, nutty flavor. It’s nice to have fruit in the form of fresh, dried, or even preserves to balance out the saltiness of the meats. Don’t forget the pickles or olives, which provide a little tang to the palate. Keep the crackers or bread as plain as possible. You want everyone to focus on the flavor explosion going on in every bite. You can go all out and add chocolate morsels and nuts for nibbling. The best part is everyone wins! People pick and choose their own combinations and give you high praise for being such a genius!

ULTRA CHARCUTERIE BOARD

Ingredients:

5 ounces Old World pepperoni, sliced

3 ounces Old World prosciutto, sliced

7 ounce wheel of Edam cheese

8 ounces dried pitted dates

6 ounces mixed olives

10 ounces smoked almonds

1 bag of multi grain baguette slices

Instructions:

Arrange everything on one or two charcuterie boards. The pairing is up to each guest. As long as it is appealing, it definitely promotes conversation. Depending on how large a group you have will determine the number of options you choose. For larger groups I suggest crackers, jam, and spreadable cheeses as a nice complement to smoked meats and fresh fruit. Be creative. Garnish with a few sprigs of fresh herbs.

Jicama Tortillas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Jicama Tortillas! Jicama is another word for Mexican turnip or potato. Interesting, isn’t it? The flavor is sweet and starchy when eaten raw with a sprinkling of sea salt. Being Paleo-friendly, the jicama is popular as a low-carb, low-sugar nutritious snack. It may be available in your local supermarket’s produce department as a precut veggie that resembles French fries. In that case, simply squeeze a lime wedge over it before sprinkling with sea salt and chili powder. I understand it’s also available in “tortilla” packets. I wanted to make my own tortillas, so the large bulb was an easy choice. Peel, slice, and steam. There you have it; a miniature tortilla similar to a street taco in size. Add precooked shredded turkey, cheddar cheese, and a prepackaged salad kit. It’s a meal-in-a-snap, perfect for weeknights.

JICAMA TORTILLAS

Ingredients:

1 large jicama, peeled and sliced into thin discs

12-ounce bag Southwest Chopped Salad Kit, creamy cilantro dressing included

2 cups precooked shredded turkey, chicken, pork, or beef

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

To make jicama tortillas, place sliced discs in a microwave-safe dish with two tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on High for 3 minutes. This turns them from brittle to flexible. Drain hot water; dab tortillas on paper towels, then return them to covered dish to cool. Set aside. Empty chopped salad mix into a bowl. Pour prepared cilantro salad dressing over all. Mix well. Set aside. For the meat mixture, combine orange juice, vinegar, butter, sea salt, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin powder in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add shredded meat. Stir together. Cook until moisture is absorbed, about 10 minutes. For a crispy finish, add 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Increase heat to medium-high setting. Let meat fry until browned and crispy on bottom. Remove from heat. Stir with a fork. Serve jicama tortillas with chopped salad, shredded meat, and cheddar cheese. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter K

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Korean Pork Tacos! Once you get a taste for spicy food, the cravings thrive. That doesn’t mean dinner has to be boring, to say the least. Be creative. I like corn tortillas so I transformed an ordinary pork loin into slightly hot Korean tacos. Forego the kimchi and traditional greens by substituting with crispy broccoli strips and shredded carrots. Fresh cilantro and green onions add zest, not heat. Trust me, this recipe is not “burn your lips off” hot, it’s just more balanced between flavor and spice.

KOREAN PORK TACOS

Ingredients:

1 pound pork loin, cut into chunks

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/4 cup ground fresh chili paste

1 tablespoon dried garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon sugar

2 green onions, snipped

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

Corn tortillas, warmed

10-ounce bag broccoli and carrot slaw

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

Fresh cilantro

Instructions:

Combine rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, chili paste, dried garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, black pepper, sugar, green onions, and yellow onions in a bowl. Add pork chunks, mixing well to coat. Transfer to a ziplock bag, seal, and marinate for 2-4 hours. Heat vegetable oil in an iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Be sure the meat is no longer pink in the center. Lower heat and shred pork with two forks. Simmer to absorb liquid to enhance flavor. For coleslaw, mix broccoli and carrot blend with mayonnaise. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fill bottom half of corn tortillas with coleslaw. Top with shredded pork. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter J

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Jamaican Jerk Pork Tenders! Even though the weather won’t cooperate, you can still have that “just grilled” taste of tender pork in your own oven. Broil it instead. The blend of Jamaican spice creates a hot spice mixture that will jazz up any meal. Go heavy or go light. It’s not just for meats, “don’t cha know”. Dry rub fish, shrimp, veggies, or tofu. The diversity will amaze you.

JAMAICAN JERK PORK TENDERS

Ingredients:

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon allspice

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 green onion, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic wine vinegar

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds pork tenders, cut into chunks

Instructions:

Combine cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, black pepper, ginger, garlic powder, allspice, and sea salt in a shallow dish. Mix to blend. Using a mini chopper, combine green onion and yellow onion. Chop very fine. Add lemon juice, olive oil, soy sauce, and garlic wine vinegar. Purée until smooth. Add red pepper flakes. Mix with the spices in the shallow dish. Dredge pork in marinade, coating both sides. Cover and marinate for eight hours or overnight. Skewer pork tenders and place on a rimmed foil-lined baking sheet, with oven rack in the top position. Broil on high 5 minutes per side. Serve warm.