Michael Symon's Bucatini with Bacon, Tomatoes and Jalapeno

I know I use “OMG” way too much.  But it fits perfectly in this instance.  OH MY GOD this is good!  It sounded good.  How can you go wrong with pasta, bacon, garlic, jalapenos and tomatoes?  But OH MY GOD I can’t believe how incredibly flavorful, and amazingly easy this dish is!
I received a copy of Michael Symon’s Carnivore for Christmas.  Christmas Day I made his Double-Trouble Meatloaf and on the 26th I made Bucatini with Bacon, Tomatoes and Jalapeno.  I couldn't find this recipe posted on the web so you'll have to find yourself a copy of Carnivore or see if you can convince Mr. Symon to publish it on the web.

I’m lucky; I knew right where to go for bucatini noodles.  Bucatini is a fat spaghetti noodle with a hole down the center of it.  They sell it at my favorite olive oil store, The Olive Grove in Mendota Heights so I stopped there on my way home from work to pick some up.  I also picked up some orecchiette so I can try Michael Symon’s Orecchiette with Chorizo and Swiss Chard!
This is so simple to put together.  Start the noodles boiling because by the time they are done, the sauce will be!

The deliciousness is started by browning cubed bacon.  I used Nueske's Wild Cherrywood Smoked Uncured Bacon.  This got my husband into the kitchen!  Once the bacon is browned the recipe instructs you “don’t drain off the bacon fat”.  Yes, this was going to be good.

To the browned bacon (and all that bacon fat) you add thinly sliced garlic and a diced jalapeno, seeds and skins included and cooked for a couple of minutes.  The heat is then lowered and diced San Marzano tomatoes are added.
To this the drained noodles along with about a quarter of a cup of the pasta water are added and it’s cooked just a bit more.  Off the heat parsley, butter and Parmesan cheese are added.  The aroma in the kitchen was divine!  Not only did it smell wonderful but it’s a pretty dish as well!
Finally (ok this whole thing took about 15 minutes to put together!) it was time to taste.  I took the first bite and, yes, OH MY GOD the flavors dancing around in my mouth!  I looked at my husband and said “this is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten and it came out of my kitchen!”
The smokiness of the bacon with a hint of heat from the jalapeno, sweet tomatoes and the great chew of the bucatini was heaven on a plate!  I slurped down every last bacon fat coated noodle and it was just as good warmed up for lunch the next day.

Michael Symon's Double-Trouble Meatloaf

I love Michael Symon!  Don't believe me?  Click HEREMy mother also likes Michael Symon.  She watches him every day on the Chew.  So for Christmas she got me a copy of his latest cookbook, Carnivore!

I opened it on Christmas day.  No stores are open so I had to make something for which I had all the ingredients in the house.  It was cold, really cold, temps in the single digits with sub-zero wind chills.  What goes well with that weather?  Meatloaf!  And as luck would have it I had nearly all the ingredients in the house.  What was I missing?  Parsley.  I figured the meatloaf would survive without parsley.

It seems Mr. Symon and I share a love for the movie A Christmas Story. He quotes Randy Parker in this recipe just like I did when I made Ina Garten's meatloaf a little over a year ago!

There are a couple of points on which Michael Symon and I disagree however.  He doesn’t like grass fed beef.  He says it tastes “iron-y”.  I disagree.  I have been eating grass fed Highland beef from Butternut Woods Farm LLC for about a year now and I love it.  Every time I bite into a burger I am amazed at how good the beef tastes.  You get so used to the hamburger tasting like the toppings and not much else.  This Highland beef is delicious!
The other disagreement is on the selection of sides for the meatloaf.  This disagreement is more with my husband than me.  Michael Symon is not a fan of mashed potatoes as a side for beef.  When writing about sides for steaks he calls mashed potatoes “baby-food-like mashed spuds” and the gravy “heavy, fatty sauce” that “conceals the whole affair.”  In fact he says that serving mashed potatoes with a steak “Wrong, wrong, wrong!   My husband heartily disagrees.  When I read that quote to him his response was “but it’s yummy!”

Michael Symon’s argument is that it is mush on mush texturally.  Ok, I’ll give him that you have to add something with a little texture to the plate.  But I think if I served meatloaf with a salad and nothing else, well, there would be sadness in my house!

I also disagree that mashed potatoes are “baby-food-like.”  Is there anything better than creamy mashed potatoes with a good bit of salt, plenty of butter, some caramelized onions and blue cheese?  I think not!  Baby food?  Hardly. And Mr. Symon himself says to serve the meatloaf with “your favorite mashed potatoes or potato salad!"  Here’s a LINK to the recipe from the Chew website.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, on to the meatloaf!

It is really quite easy to put together, once you have your bacon ground!  I was so excited to get out my meat grinder and attach it to my Kitchenaid!  Kind of like my husband when he gets the power washer out!

The meat grinder made quick work of grinding up the bacon.

To start the meatloaf you sweat some onions in butter.  Who doesn’t love that smell?  Once the onions are soft garlic is added then chipotle powder and smoked paprika.  I love toasting spices and with the onions and garlic I almost wanted to just eat this with a spoon!

The recipe calls for “day old” bread.   I didn’t have any of that in the house so I had to “make” some.  I sliced up some bread, cut the crusts off and put it in a warm oven for a few minutes to dry it out.  Then I chopped this up and let it soak in milk while I worked on the rest of the prep!

The rest of the ingredients include a pound and a half of ground chuck, the ground bacon, two eggs, salt and pepper.
Any excess milk was squeezed out of the bread then all of the ingredients are mixed together.

The recipe calls for a loaf pan but I don’t like making meatloaf in a loaf pan.  I find the steaming of the bottom of the loaf in the "juices" from the meat extremely unappealing.  And there’s always that gross fatty stuff that lines the edges of the pan.   So I make my meatloaf on a broiler pan.

It took about an hour for this beauty to bake.  Is that gorgeous or what?  The outside was beautifully crusty and when I cut into it, it was moister than any meatloaf I’ve made before!  Dave and I both liked the meaty, smoky flavor from the bacon, chipotle and paprika.

And yes, I served it with mashed potatoes, gravy and roasted vegetables.

Kenwood Vineyards Spicy Korean Grilled Pork

UPDATE:  I received the ok from Kenwood to share the recipe.  I've added it to the bottom of this post!

Our Kenwood wine club shipment arrived this week.  Not only do they send us a couple bottles of really good wine they send really good recipes.  Years ago they sent one for a bolognese sauce that calls for an entire bottle of Merlot!  That sauce is now a staple in our home. It's the only meat sauce we eat.

With this shipment came a recipe for Spicy Korean Grilled pork that sounded like something Dave and I would enjoy.  We like spicy.  We like pork.  It seemed a good fit.

The basics are pork shoulder is cut thin, pounded thinner then marinated and grilled.  The marinade for the pork includes something called "Chinese Fermented Black Beans."  The only fermented Asian thing I'd ever heard of was kimchi and quite honestly that sounds gross to me.  But I always make a recipe to the recipe the first time I make it so I went out in search of Chinese Fermented Black Beans.  

Of course I consulted Google first so that I would have an idea for what I was looking once I hit the store.  Apparently these can be found canned, in jars, dried in bags and in pastes.  I figured I could find some incarnation of them!  My local upscale grocery store didn't have them so I tried the local Asian grocery store.  They had a chili paste made with them but the recipe calls for chili paste so I didn't want that.  While I was trying to decide if I should just use that, the very friendly clerk found me some "plain old" fermented black beans in a jar.  We were set!

In addition to the fermented beans, the marinade includes a full head of garlic, two tablespoons of fresh ginger, Korean Chili Paste (I couldn't find that but I could find Thai Chili Paste so I used that), rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and sesame oil.  I had to guess on the amount of sesame oil because the recipe didn't state how much to add, oops!

The directions said to soak the beans in water for 15 minutes.  I debated this step.  I guessed that was for the dried variety of beans to rehydrate them.  Mine were pretty hydrated (actually in some sort of oil) so I thought I didn't need this step.  Then I tasted them.  They were very salty.  I soaked them in hopes of removing some of that salty flavor.

All of the marinade ingredients are thrown in a food processor until they are smooth.  I love the smell of Asian ingredients, the ginger, sesame and garlic!

I trimmed up the pork shoulder and sliced it into quarter inch thick slices.  Then placed it between pieces of plastic wrap and used my antique meat tenderizer to pound it to an eighth of an inch thick.  

I placed on layer of the meat in a glass baking dish and covered it with the marinade, then added another layer of pork, more marinade and repeated until I was out of both.  This went into the refrigerator.  I marinated it about six hours but it can remain in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

What to serve on the side?  Slaw!  While at the grocery store I looked at the bagged "cole slaw mix" in the produce department.  It just looked sad!  So I bought a couple heads of cabbage and some carrots and made my own.  Isn't that pretty?  I added a little sriracha sauce to the dressing to give it a little kick!

I put the pork on a very hot grill that I had rubbed with oil.  The recipe said to brush the meat with oil but I thought it would be easier to brush the grill so that's what I did!

The meat cooked quickly and I'll be honest, I was worried it would be tough.  Turns out no worry was necessary.

I served the pork over brown rice with the slaw, and of course the recommended Kenwood Zinfandel that came with our shipment.  Kenwood Zin was the wine that got Dave and I hooked on red wine.  We "didn't like" red wine until we had this.  We were at a dinner where it was served and we didn't want to upset anyone by not at least tasting it.  We both took a taste and looked at each other in amazement.  We liked red wine!

The pork was delicious.  It was fork tender and had great Asian flavor.  You can taste the ginger and there's just enough heat from the chili sauce.  And of course the nuttiness from the sesame oil.  There was even a smoky flavor that I find hard to believe came from our gas grill.  Maybe it was the beans?  This recipe goes in the keeper pile!


1 cup Chinese fermented black beans (I found them in my local Asian grocery store)
1 head garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Korean Chili Paste (I could only find Thai, I used that)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sesame oil
3 pounds trimmed boneless pork shoulder roast, cut crosswise into twelve 1/4 inch thick slices
Vegetable oil for brushing

Place fermented black beans in a bowl and cover with water.  Let stand for 15 minutes, drain and coarsely chop the beans.

In a food processor, combine the black beans, garlic and ginger.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Add the chili paste, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar.  Blend well.

Using a meat mallet, pound the pork slices to 1/8 inch thickness.  In a large shallow dish lay one fourth of the pork slices and cover with one fourth of the black bean marinade.  Repeat with the remaining pork, you should have three layers.  Cover and refrigerate up to 24 hours.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan.  Remove pork from the marinade leaving just a thin coating on the meat.  Brush the pork with oil and grill over medium heat until nicely charred and cooked through, about 6 minutes.

Serves 6.

Enjoy with a glass of Kenwood Vineyards 2010 Jack London Zinfandel!

Obviously I need more toys!

During our recent trip to the California wine country, our best trip yet, we were fortunate enough to dine on an amazing dinner created by Chef Peter Janiak at Seghesio winery.  One of the tidbits on the plate was Short Rib-Stuffed Yukon Gold Potatoes with horseradish and beet relish.  These were delicious little bites of perfectly braised beef and roasted potato.
These are the beautiful bites Chef Janiak made.
I thought these would wow my friends as an appetizer during our next dinner party so I had to try to make them.  They look easy don't they?  Just cut some circles out of some potatoes, roast them fill them with beef, top them with horseradish, poof you have an appetizer!

The beef, no problem, I've done that before.  It was the potatoes!  I did ask Chef Janiak if I should roast the potatoes first or cut them raw.  He told me to cut them raw because they tend to crumble if you cut them after they are cooked.  I should have asked more questions!

These are all of the round cutters I have.  OK, not ALL of them but the others I have are this big or bigger so this is what I had to work with.  Hence the need for new toys I need... smaller circle cutters! 

I sliced the edge off the potato so that there would be a flat surface then I cut out the "bigger" circle.  Not as easy as it might seem and next time I'll trim both sides of the potato so the potato is the thickness I want.

Once I had that cut I cut the center out with a smaller cutter.

Why are they oval?!  The cutters were round?  It's like the potatoes relaxed after I cut them and decided they wanted to be oval.

This does leave a bit of left-over potato so I just cut the excess up and roasted them with some carrots, butternut squash and radishes.  I brushed the potato rings with oil and roasted them along with the veggies.  Pretty right?

I filled them with the braised beef and topped them with a little horseradish.  This was after work so I didn't have time to make a nice horsey sauce but I will next time!

They tasted fine but they looked like Fred Flinstone versions of those petite bites we'd had at the winery.  I definitely need practice and smaller "potato cutters"!

Homemade Pita Bread

Jalapenos have come in at Farmer's Market which has me thinking of all recipes jalapeno.  I'll probably can some too, but that will ...

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