Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf

From as far back as I can remember we always had some sort of comfort food growing up. Salisbury Steak, Stuffed Bell Peppers, Stuffed Cabbage, all that good home cooking. One of the meals that was pretty common around our house was the meat loaf. I always remember the meatloaf, such a tasty slice of ground beef with something new inside every time. There would always be some sort of tangy sweet coating around the outside and the brown gravy, who can resist mash potatoes and brown gravy, makes my stomach grown just thinking about it. So in honor of my mom, here is my version of the all time American classic the meatloaf.

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What you will need:Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Ready To Eat

1 cup Milk – (Whole or 2% works fine)
6 slices Sourdough or White Bread
(I use the Rosemary & Olive Oil and slice it myself)
2 lbs. Ground Beef – (you can use 1 beef and 1 turkey if you like)
1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. Cajon seasoning or Seasoning salt
3/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
3 Eggs
8 slices Thin Bacon (don’t use thick cut, it won’t get crisp)

Sauce:
1-1/2 cup Ketchup
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Dry Mustard
Juice of one lemonMeatloaf Mix
Tabasco To Taste

Preheat oven to Broil or your highest oven setting, (yes broil, we will turn it down to 350° so don’t get excited)

Line a oblong pan with foil, this helps with the clean up.

Prepare the Meatloaf:
Place the slices of bread in an oblong or square pan or large bowl and pour the milk over them. Allow it to soak in for several minutes; you may need to turn the bread over depending on how dense your bread is.

In a large mixing bowl add the ground meat, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, seasoning, salt, black pepper, and parsley. Pour in beaten eggs.

With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined. Try not to over mix. Form the mixture into a loaf shape and place on the foil lined pan.

Lay bacon slices over the top (side to side), you can either tuck excess underneath the meatloaf, or trim it off. (I trim it off)Bacon Wrappped Meatloaf Ready To Cook

Now place the meatloaf in the hot oven, middle rack. This won’t take but a few minutes, just long enough to get some crispness on the bacon. 5 to 6 minutes. While the bacon is getting crisp, make the sauce.

Making the Sauce:

Add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice and hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir together.

Your bacon has started to crisp, turn the oven down to 350°, and pour 1/3 of the sauce mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon.

Continue to bake for 30 minutes, and then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15- 20 minutes.

Slice and serve with remaining sauce.

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

I have always been a fan of Cajun and Creole cooking; the flavors and spices are among some of the best in my mind. In my opinion, great Cajun food simply has soul, and that’s what draws me to it. I grew up on comfort food and to me – Cajun food is just that, comfort food with a kick. So in honor of this past Mardi Gras, I made one of my favorites: Red Beans and Rice.

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Cajun Red Beans And Rice
What you will need:

  • 1 lb. red kidney beans (dry, then soaked overnight in water)
  • 5 Strips bacon sliced to 1” strips
  • 3 Jalapenos chopped (seeds removed)
  • 4 Ribs celery chopped
  • 1 Green bell pepper chopped
  • 5 Cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • ¾ lb. Andouille sausage thinly sliced (I substituted ¼ lb. with linguisa)
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (The recipe below makes more than 2 tbsp. so just store the remainder, its great on fish or chicken)
  • 3 Cups chicken broth (You can substitute with water)
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Cups white rice
  • Salt and PepperRendered Bacon

Cajun Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp. oregano Chopped Andouille Sausage
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • ½ tbsp. cumin

Cook

Cook your white rice to the directions on the package and then let them sit, covered until your red beans are done. Make sure to flavor your rice with a little chicken stock, parsley or whatever you desire.

Start with a 6 quart dutch oven and slowly render out the fat of the sliced bacon. You want to do this under medium-low heat so that you don’t burn the bacon but rather pull out all that fat goodness. Before the bacon starts to get crisp pull it out and set it aside.

Next, you will add your Andouille sausage to the pot and cook that under medium-low heat until the sausage starts to brown. Once the Andouille is slightly browned pull it and set it aside.Brown Bits

Caveman Tip*** There should be all sorts of brown bits and grease in the bottom of the pan, that’s perfect, that’s what you want. It’s all those brown bits that help give the Red Beans and Rice those great flavors.

Now add your green peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and jalapenos to the pot at a medium heat. You will want to stir occasionally until the vegetables get soft.

Caveman Tip*** A trio of green peppers, onions and celery in the south is called the “ Holy Trinity” and it’s used as a base for most stews and soups. It’s very similar to the French version of the mirepoix which consists of celery, onions and carrots. Both are great as a base for a lot of dishes

Once the vegetables are soft add in your beans, bacon, sausage, 3 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water and 2 tbsp. of the Cajun seasoning.

Now bring the Red Beans up to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to low and put on the lid. You will want to simmer them for 30-60 minutes or until the beans are soft.

Caveman Tip*** I like to pull the lid off and cook the red beans without the lid  for the last 20 minutes of so, this allows the sauce to reduce and concentrate all those great flavors.Holy Trinity Besides I like my red beans and rice to be a little heartier as opposed to soupy

Once the red beans are done, place some rice in the center of a bowl and pour your red beans around the outside edge of them. I like to top with a little chopped green onion and serve.  It’s delicious.

If you’re a fan of spicy trust me, Red Beans and Rice will become one of your favorites too!

Enjoy!

Chicken Fried Steak With Sausage Gravy

We spent last Saturday afternoon at a street fair in Fountain Hills AZ. It was wonderful time; the streets were filled with food vendors, artists and other miscellaneous Chicken Fried Steakbooths with interesting items for sale, along with a beer garden or two. We picked up a few things here and there – mainly some salsa and spices, most of these small vendors use fresh ingredients and have pretty good product. There were two companies I really liked and brought home some items from both their shops, Natura Spice Company out of Scottsdale AZ and Starlight Herb and Spice Company out of Idaho. Both have great spices and I would recommend giving them a try if you every get the opportunity.

So the reason I bring up spices is because of the number one problem I find with most foods when we eat out, and that is the lack of spices. One of the vendors there had what they were calling fresh Alaskan salmon; honestly I was kind of pumped to give it a try, especially when I saw the Salmon Chowder. We split a bowl and it had large chunks of salmon in it with some other good flavors, but it was lacking the basic seasoning like salt and pepper that would have made that dish so much better.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my brother, the Executive Chef, or the countless hours of food network, it’s always taste your food and add those basic spices like salt and pepper.

This dish is one of my all-time favorites for both breakfast and dinner, but if you don’t season it or the gravy properly – you get just a bland meal.

Seasoned Flour

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What you will need:

  • 2 Cubed steaks pounded thin
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (seasoned)
  • 2 Eggs beaten (seasoned with S&P)
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)Seasoned Chicken Fried Steak
  • Green onion or flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper

Seasoned Flour

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. saltFrying Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • ¼ tbsp. cayenne or some red pepper flakes

Prep

In a shallow frying pan heat up about 2 inches of the frying oil over medium to medium high heat. While the oil is heating up, take your cube steak and pass if through the flour, then egg then flour mixture. You will want to repeat this process for as many steaks as you are cooking.

Cook

Once the oil is nice and hot, but not smoking, you will want to carefully lay the steaks in the pan and shallow fry them. It should takChicken Fried Steake about 4-6 minutes per side depending on how hot your oil is. Keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Once both sides are browned place them on a paper towel to drain off the grease and serve with your favorite gravy. Nothings better than a good sausage gravy in my mind and you can find a good one at my county sausage gravy recipe.

Enjoy

Stuffed Poblano’s With Red Sauce

I don’t know what’s wrong with restaurants these days but I am so tired of paying for bland mediocre food. Twice now we went to a Mexican restaurant where I ordered what was supposed to be authentOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAic Mexican food… first time I ordered a Chili Relleno and got a cold burnt poblano with a burnt red sauce that cost me over $10. The second time I ordered and trio of enchiladas with various filings and sauces, what I got was a soggy bland enchilada that tasted the same no matter what type of sauce or filling I ordered.

The sad thing is both of the places came highly recommended! So either I have become a food snob or people just stopped appreciating truly good food.

So to get past my rant, I was in the mood for some good Mexican food and decided to make my version of a fried stuffed poblano. Let’s just say despite the extra work, it was much better than anything I have gotten in a Mexican restaurant in a while and I live in Arizona……….SAD!

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What you will need:

  • 4 Poblano peppers
  • 2 Cups red sauce (store bought or see recipe below)
  • 3-4 cups chicken mixture (see below)
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)
  • EVOO
  • Salt and Pepper

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Red Sauce

  • 6 Dried Ancho peppers, stems cut (I use dried peppers because they store in the pantry for along time)
  • 10 Dried Arbol peppers, stems cut
  • ½ White onion chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 ½ cups of the water from rehydrating the peppers

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Filling

  • 1 Cooked chicken breast (grilled or baked with Mexican spices)
  • ½ white onion chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can black beans with liquid
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese shredded

 PrepOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Heat up your grill to medium high heat. (you can substitute the grill for the broiler if needed) While you are heating up the grill lightly coat the poblano’s with EVOO and season your chicken. Once the grill is good and hot place the poblano’s and the chicken on the grill.

Caveman Tip*** You are just looking to soften the poblano peppers on the grill and give them a little char without burning them, you want to give them that grilled flavor and get the skin loose so you can remove it.

Red Sauce Prep

Caveman Tip*** I like to put my dried peppers on the grill for a few minutes before I soak them in water, gives them a little extra smokiness.

After the dried peppers are toasted you will need to soak them covered in hot water at least 20-30 minutes to re-constitute them.Place your hydrated peppers and the remainder of the red sauce ingredients into a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. Put the sauce into a small pan and simmer under medium heat.

Caveman Tip*** I wanted the sauce to reduce, that way it would concentrate those flavors give it a thicker consistency and that little bit of pop. That’s up to you, just taste it, add S&P or more vinegar to your liking, but I would recommend that you reduce it. Then just let it sit on the stove keeping it warm unit you are ready to use it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stuffed Poblano Prep

Once the peppers are soft and the skin starts to fall off pull them from the grill and let them cool. Continue to cook the chicken until its done and pull it off the grill. Just let it rest long enough so that you can shred it without burning your fingers.Once the poblano’s have cooled peel the skin off and then cut a small slit in the side of the pepper. Reach in and pull out the seeds.

Cook

Take your onions and mushrooms for the filling and sauté with some EVOO under medium heat; don’t forget to add a little salt and pepper. Once they are soft add the remainder of the filing ingredients and cook under medium heat until warm. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes giving the spices time to incorporate into the mixture and the chicken time to absorb some of that black bean flavor.

While your mixture is cooking get a pan heated up with your frying oil. You only need about 2 inches of oil at the bottom of the pan. If you have a candy thermometer it works best, you want to get your oil up to about 350 degrees. There are other tricks if you don’t have a thermometer using the base of a wooden spoon. Just give it a Google search and it will come up.

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Stuff the poblano’s with the mixture I use cheese them chicken mixture and them cheese again. Don’t over stuff them just enough so you can still close them. Next you will want to roll them in the egg wash and then liberally coat them with the panko bread crumbs.

Now, carefully lay them in the oil and roll them so that they fry on all the edges. You will want to dry them on a paper towel and then serve immediately with your red sauce.

It’s a bit much for a weeknight recipe but definitely worth the work! This dish goes great with my Spanish Rice

Lazy Day BBQ Pork Ribs

I love smoked ribs or BBQ ribs, it’s just always a Caveman staple, but they can be a little work, especially if you want them to turn out tender and fall off the bone. I got a little lazy last weekend, we were out at a local street fair and when I got home I just didn’t feel like putting in the work so I decided to braise the ribs, kind of a set it and forget it, for those of you who know what I am talking about. It’s a great way to really get those ribs tender and impose some flavors into them.

Braising alone just wouldn’t cut it for this caveman, I still had to fire up the grill so after they were braised I slathered on a BBQ sauce and gave them a nice crust before serving them. I all this my lazy ribs.

Hope you enjoy!

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Braised Ribs 1

What you will need:

  • 2 racks of St Louis Style pork ribs
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 cups BBQ sauce (sweet and spicy BBQ sauce below)
  • Salt and pepper

Braising LiquidBBQ sauce

  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups orange juice
  • I cup brown sugar
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. white pepper
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup brown sugarOblong_disposable_aluminum_Foil_Pan[1]
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 3 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce

 Prep

Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce: Combine all the ingredients in to a small sauce pan and then heat under low until warm and well blended. Give it a taste and if it’s what you are looking for let it sit until you are ready.

Cook

I like to use those disposable aluminum pans for this part of it, easy to use and no cleaning involved. If you have a braising pan more power to you.

Preheat your oven to 350°F

Remove the silverskin from the ribs, this is important so that the flavors can penetrate the meat and reduce the chances of it being tough. To see how check out my blog on Memphis ribs

Combine all the braising ingredients in a pan with the ribs and cover them. Put them in the oven and let them cook for about 3-4 hours.

Caveman Tip*** If you let them go too long in the oven they will just shred as you pull them from the pan and you will not be able to put them on the grill for that great BBQ flavor.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Preheat your grill: I like to turn all the burners on high and get that grill smoking hot. You want to crisp up the outside not cook the ribs.

Caveman Tip*** You can obtain that same crust on the outside of the ribs by using your broiler if you don’t want to use the BBQ.

Check the ribs, they should be nice and tender but not disintegrate when you pull them from the pan. At this point you will want to let them slightly cool on the outside so you can handle them. Pat them dry with a paper towel and then liberally coat them with the BBQ sauce.

Once your BBQ is good and hot, put them on the grill for a minute or two per side until you get that caramelization from the BBQ sauce and you are ready to go.

Slice them up and enjoy.