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10 posts from March 2021

03/30/2021

~ Easy One-Skillet Teriyaki Chicken-Thigh Paillards ~

IMG_0350As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one of my favorite ways to cook.  Teriyaki is as well known outside of Japan as sushi or ramen is, so, most American people, kids included, will give "teriyaki anything" a try.  A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites:  Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise, K.C. Masterpiece barbecue sauce, and, Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce.  That said, teriyaki sauce is seriously simple to make, and, it can be customized to suit your family's taste.  I typically prepare a double- or triple-sized batch, then keep what I don’t use in the refrigerator (stored in there it keeps almost forever), so it's ready to reheat the next time a "teriyaki anything" craving hits me or mine -- sometimes as often as once a week.

Teriyaki sauce was invented by Japanese settlers to Hawaii.

6a0120a8551282970b0263e997f5f1200bTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beefchicken, ribs, or seafood that has been marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, pork, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooked.

6a0120a8551282970b0263e997f63d200bHomemade teriyaki sauce is thick and drizzly.  At its thinnest, it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and, at the discretion of the cook, in many cases thicker than that.  That said, many store-brought brands are watery (similar in consistency to soy sauce), and, they will not work in this recipe.  Ideally, the teriyaki sauce should be similar in consistency to a hearty barbecue sauce.  What I keep on-hand and recommend is: Panda Express Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce.

Paillard is a fancy French word, a verb, meaning "to pound":

6a0120a8551282970b01bb098fc7e8970dA bit about paillard (PI-yahrd):  This fancy French word means "to pound", and, references a lightly-pounded portion-sized slice or medallion of meat, poultry or seafood that gets quickly sautéed. A paillard is not madly smashed to smithereens.  Pounding should make it wider and thinner, with the point being to pound it in a manner that makes it even in thickness --  to break down the fibers, to tenderize it, and, to make it cook evenly.  It's done with a flat-sided meat mallet, not a sharp, pyramid-toothed gadget guaranteed to pulverize.  To those who smack away using the back of a heavy skillet, while the bravado is amusing, it's less than affective, as you can't concentrate the necessary force directly on the places that need it to do a truly expert job.

The taste and texture of lightly-pounded paillards is an extra step well worth the effort. I find it to be a time-saver too.  The time it takes to pound six boneless skinless chicken thighs, including the time to get out a cutting board, the plastic wrap and a flat-sided meat mallet is about five minutes. Once done, cooking the paillards is considerably faster and easier, had I not taken the time.

Teriyaki chicken-thigh paillards are one of my favorite things.

IMG_03091 1/4-1 1/2  cups Panda Express Mandarin teriyaki sauce, plus, additional teriyaki sauce for dipping or drizzling at tableside

6-8  tablespoons water (3-4-ounces)

6a0120a8551282970b0263e99973f3200b6  large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Note:  This is approximately the equivalent of 3, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that have been butterflied to form 6 pieces/portions.)

~ Step 1.  Place the thighs between two large layers of plastic wrap and lightly pound with the flat side of a meat mallet to a thickness of more than a 1/4" and less than 1/2".

6a0120a8551282970b026bdec6c2a8200c~ Step 2. Remove and discard the top layer of plastic wrap and season the tops of paillards with:

nothing -- add no seasoning

In a 16" electric skillet on low heat, heat:

4 tablespoons vegetable oil, and, 2  tablespoons sesame oil 

Increase heat to medium- medium-high (240°-250°).

6a0120a8551282970b026bdec6fcf6200c 6a0120a8551282970b0263e999ac40200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e999ac40200b 6a0120a8551282970b0263e999ac4f200b~Recap:  Cover a large cutting board with plastic wrap.  Unravel/unroll the chicken thighs and place them, flat and slightly apart, atop the plastic. Cover with a second sheet of plastic.  Using a flat-sided meat mallet, pound to a thickness of 1/4"-1/2".  Remove and discard top layer of plastic.

IMG_0310 IMG_0316 IMG_0320 IMG_0322 IMG_0326 IMG_0329 IMG_0333 IMG_0334 IMG_0336 IMG_0340 IMG_0345 IMG_0348~Step 3.  Add the paillards to the (now fragrant) hot oil in the skillet.  Sauté gently until light-golden in color on both sides, turning only once, about 8-9 minutes per side.  Add the teriyaki sauce to the chicken in the skillet, followed by the water.  Quickly heat the teriyaki sauce to bubbling, stirring in and around and under the paillards constantly for a moment or two to incorporate the sauce into the flavorful pan drippings.  Adjust the heat to a very gentle simmer (steady yet very gentle), and continue to simmer very gently, uncovered, about 20 more minutes.

This recipe is so good it put take-out teriyaki in my past:

IMG_0349Try my Barbecue-Sauced Chicken-Thigh Paillard Salad too:

IMG_0253Easy One-Skillet Teriyaki Chicken-Thigh Paillards:  Recipe yields 6 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  large cutting board; plastic wrap; flat-sized meat mallet; 16" electric skillet w/lid; 1-cup measuring container; fork and/or spatula; large spoon

IMG_0203Cook's Note: A Paillard, a noun, is a thin, lightly-pounded cut, large or small, of any type of meat -- most commonly beef, chicken, lamb, pork or veal.  That said, occasionally, in certain culinary applications, firm seafood, like lobster, shrimp or scallops, can, for the right reason, become a paillard.  It's also possible to use some vegetables to make a paillard.  Paillard, the verb, generally speaking, means to lightly-pound. I'm using a boneless chicken thighs as an example: ~ To Paillard or Not to Paillard -- & Define a Paillard ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/27/2021

~The Lunch Special BBQ-Sauced Chicken Sandwich~

IMG_0291More than a few foodie people I know, me included, secretly fantasize about owning a small-town, mom-and-pop-type diner -- a simple little eatery, with a dozen or so counter stools, plus a few booths lined up in front of a row of windows too.  A safe harbor where the local clientele can meander in almost any time of day for a cup of coffee and breakfast, the lunch or dinner special, or, a slice of lemon meringue pie.  A big piece of juicy barbecued chicken, hot out of the skillet, slathered in a copious amount of semi-caramelized barbecue sauce served up in a brioche roll with a side macaroni or potato salad would be one such special on Mel's Diner menu.

Mom-&-pop diner fare is perhaps some of my favorite food.

IMG_02624-6  hot-out-of-the skillet, whole barbecue-sauced chicken-thigh paillards

4-6  brioche hamburger-type rolls, preferably toasted, 1 roll per sandwich

8-12  slices yellow American or yellow cheddar cheese, 2 slices cheese per sandwich

2  cups baby romaine leaves, 1/3 cup lettuce per sandwich

1-1 1/4  cups thin-sliced red onion pieces, 1/4 cup onion pieces per sandwich

4-6  sliced Campari tomatoes, 3-4 small, Campari tomato slices per sandwich

IMG_0264 IMG_0266 IMG_0269 IMG_0270 IMG_0275 IMG_0276 IMG_0278 IMG_0280~Step 1.  To assemble each sandwich, place the bottom of a toasted roll on a plate.  Arrange two slices of cheese atop the warm roll, followed by a hot, barbecue chicken-thigh paillard.  Place a generous layer of baby romaine atop the the chicken, followed by a scattering of onion pieces and 3-4 small slices of Campari tomatoes.  Add the toasty top of the roll and eat ASAP.   

Add a BBQ-sauced chicken sandwich to your diner menu:

IMG_0282Try my Barbecue-Sauced Chicken-Thigh Paillard Salad too:

IMG_0256The Lunch Special BBQ-Sauced Chicken Sandwich:  Recipe yields 4-6 chicken sandwiches.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; serrated bread knife; toaster or toaster oven

IMG_0203Cook's Note: A Paillard, a noun, is a thin, lightly-pounded cut, large or small, of any type of meat -- most commonly beef, chicken, lamb, pork or veal.  That said, occasionally, in certain culinary applications, firm seafood, like lobster, shrimp or scallops, can, for the right reason, become a paillard.  It's also possible to use some vegetables to make a paillard.  Paillard, the verb, generally speaking, means to lightly-pound. I'm using a boneless chicken thighs as an example: ~ To Paillard or Not to Paillard -- & Define a Paillard ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/24/2021

~ To Paillard or Not to Paillard -- and Define a Paillard ~

IMG_0203A Paillard, a noun, is a thin, lightly-pounded cut, large or small, of any type of meat -- most commonly beef, chicken, lamb, pork or veal.  That said, occasionally, in certain culinary applications, firm seafood, like lobster, shrimp or scallops, can, for the right reason, become a paillard.  It's also possible to use some vegetables to make a paillard.  In certain areas of the United States, paillards are simply referred to as "cutlets".  Paillard, the verb, generally speaking, means to lightly-pound.  I'm using a few boneless, skinless chicken thighs as an example.   

6a0120a8551282970b01bb098fc7e8970dPaillard (PI-yahrd):  This fancy French word dating back to the 19th century means "to pound", and, references a lightly-pounded, large-and-flat cut or portion-sized slice or medallion of meat, poultry or seafood that will cook quickly.  A paillard is not madly smashed to smithereens.  Pounding should make it wider and thinner, with the point being to pound it in a manner that makes it even in thickness so as to break down the fibers, tenderize it, and, make it cook evenly.  It's best done with a flat-sided meat mallet, not a sharp, pyramid-toothed gadget guaranteed to pulverize.  To those who smack away using the back of a heavy skillet, while the bravado is amusing, it's less than affective, as you can't concentrate the necessary force directly on the places that need it -- a skillet might be fun, but, it won't do an expert job -- it's amateurish.  Taking the time to paillard correctly produces a professional outcome end ensures a pretty presentation, not to mention a perfectly-cooked end product.  Be professional.

The taste and texture of lightly-pounded paillards is an easy extra step that is well worth the effort. In the long run, I often find it to be a time-saver too.  The time it took to pound these six boneless skinless chicken thighs, including the time to get out a cutting board, the plastic wrap and a flat-sided meat mallet is about five minutes. Once done, cooking the paillards is considerably faster and easier, had I not taken the time.  Experience has taught that it is best to paillard the protein du jour while it is cold and easier to control the thickness.  On another note, I like to place "the victim" between two pieces of plastic wrap to paillard.  This enables me to see clearly what is happening with every strike of the meat mallet.  Others prefer wax paper or parchment paper  -- both work.

IMG_0180 IMG_0181 IMG_0184 IMG_0186Example:  Cover a large cutting board with plastic wrap.  Unravel/unroll the chicken thighs and place them, flat and slightly apart, atop the plastic. Cover with a second sheet of plastic.  Using a flat-sided meat mallet, pound to a thickness of 1/4"-1/2".  Remove and discard top layer of plastic. Proceed with recipe as directed, as, there are several options, each depending on the method being used to cook them (sauté in a skillet, grill indoors or out, bake in the oven, deep-fry, etc):  

At the very least, the tops of the tenderized and delicate paillards typically get seasoned with sea salt and peppercorn blend.  Sometimes, the paillards are placed in a marinade to season them (marinades are flavorizers not tenderizers).  Other times, a stuffing is placed on top of them and the paillards get rolled and secured prior to cooking.  Still other times, the paillards go through a classic breading process -- dredged in flour, dipped in eggs, coated in bread crumbs.

To paillard or not to paillard -- always a step worth taking:   

IMG_0203"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/21/2021

~Easy One-Skillet Barbecued Chicken-Thigh Paillards~

IMG_0256Next to Buffalo-style chicken anything, a big piece of juicy barbecued chicken, hot off the outdoor grill grids, slathered in a copious amount of semi-caramelized barbecue sauce is one of my favorite things.  There's more.  I like to take that seething hot piece of barbecued chicken and plop it atop a cold, crisp salad.  Yes, of course, the hot chicken semi-wilts some of those greens, but when I put a knife-and fork to this barbecued chicken salad meal, I can't stop eating.

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09c6f476970dA bit about paillard (PI-yahrd):  This fancy French word means "to pound", and, references a lightly-pounded portion-sized slice or medallion of meat, poultry or seafood that gets quickly sautéed. A paillard is not madly smashed to smithereens.  Pounding should make it wider and thinner, with the point being to pound it in a manner that makes it even in thickness --  to break down the fibers, to tenderize it, and, to make it cook evenly.  It's done with a flat-sided meat mallet, not a sharp, pyramid-toothed gadget guaranteed to pulverize.  To those who smack away using the back of a heavy skillet, while the bravado is amusing, it's less than affective, as you can't concentrate the necessary force directly on the places that need it to do a truly expert job.

The taste and texture of lightly-pounded paillards is an extra step well worth the effort. I find it to be a time-saver too.  The time it takes to pound six boneless skinless chicken thighs, including the time to get out a cutting board, the plastic wrap and a flat-sided meat mallet is about five minutes. Once done, cooking the paillards is considerably faster and easier, had I not taken the time.

Chicken-Thigh Paillards + Barbecue Sauce + Salad = Happy Me.

IMG_01961 1/4-1 1/2  cups K.C. Masterpiece original barbecue sauce, plus, additional barbecue sauce for dipping or drizzling at tableside

6-8  tablespoons water (3-4-ounces)

6a0120a8551282970b01bb09c74648970d6  large boneless, skinless chicken thighs (Note:  This is approximately the equivalent of 3, boneless, skinless chicken breast halves that have been butterflied to form 6 pieces/portions.)

~ Step 1.  Place the thighs between two large layers of plastic wrap and lightly pound with the flat side of a meat mallet to a thickness of more than a 1/4" and less than 1/2".

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2ae80a4970c~ Step 2. Remove and discard the top layer of plastic wrap and lightly sprinkle the tops of paillards with:

freshly-ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

In a 16" electric skillet on low heat, heat:

6 tablespoons corn or peanut oil

Increase heat to medium- medium-high (240°-250°).

IMG_0180IMG_0180IMG_0184IMG_0184IMG_0190~Recap:  Cover a large cutting board with plastic wrap.  Unravel/unroll the chicken thighs and place them, flat and slightly apart, atop the plastic. Cover with a second sheet of plastic.  Using a flat-sided meat mallet, pound to a thickness of 1/4"-1/2".  Remove and discard top layer of plastic.  Season tops of paillards with sea salt and peppercorn blend.  

IMG_0214 IMG_0214 IMG_0222 IMG_0222 IMG_0233 IMG_0236 IMG_0240 IMG_0243 IMG_0243~Step 3.  Add the paillards to the hot oil in the skillet.  Sauté gently until light-golden in color on both sides, turning only once, about 7-8 minutes per side.  Add the barbecue sauce to the chicken in the skillet, followed by the water.  Quickly heat the barbecue sauce to bubbling, stirring in and around and under the paillards constantly for a moment or two to incorporate the sauce into the flavorful pan drippings.  Adjust the heat to a very gentle simmer (steady yet very gentle), and continue to simmer very gently, uncovered, about 20 more minutes.

Serve alongside or atop a generous helping of a nicely-dressed salad w/additional barbecue sauce for dipping or drizzling:

IMG_0253Easy One-Skillet Barbecued Chicken-Thigh Paillards:  Recipe yields 6 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  large cutting board; plastic wrap; flat-sized meat mallet; 16" electric skillet w/lid; 1-cup measuring container; fork and/or spatula; large spoon

6a0120a8551282970b026bdebbeec1200cCook's Note: When my kids were little kids then teenagers, barbecue-sauced pork chops, served up atop a bed of my easy-to-make recipe for better than store-bought stovetop macaroni and cheese was one of their favorite weeknight meals.  No one needed to be called to the table twice on barbecued pork chop night, and, I didn't have to spend all afternoon cooking in order to reap the reward of their accolades.  All I had to do was brown the chops on both sides and then let them slow simmer in a mixture of barbecue sauce and water for about 30 minutes until fork tender.  One-skillet perfection.  Try my ~ Easiest One-Skillet Barbecued-Sauced Pork Chops ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021

03/18/2021

~ In a Jiffy Corn Pancakes -- The Best of Both Worlds ~

IMG_0159The best of both worlds -- corn pancakes.  They're a combination of pancake batter and Johnny cake batter mixed together in one bowl to make:  corn pancakes.  They're wonderful -- slightly sweeter and considerably-lighter than typical Johnny cakes.  In a perfect world, I'd get up in the wee hours of the AM and make 'em from scratch.  Well, newsflash, it's not a perfect world, and, I can still make a great corn pancake breakfast by combining store-bought pancake mix and store-bought corn-muffin mix.  No eye rolling please -- once you stick a fork in one of these and take a taste, the outlook on the day ahead of you is going to improve.  Served with pure maple syrup and country sausage -- early morning breakfast perfection with no stress and no mess.

Johnnycakes.  The precursor to American pancakes.

Dating back to the early 1600's, Johnny cakes are said to be the precursor to the pancake.  The origin of the name is a mystery, and, likely has nothing to do with the name John.  We know they were originally called journey cakes because they were packed into saddlebags to take on long trips.  They were sometimes called ash cakes, because they could be baked or reheated in the hot embers of a fire, and, hoe cakes, are ash cakes that are placed on a hoe and also cooked over a fire.  Corn cakes were first made by Native Americans,  who called them janiken, and that sounds suspiciously close to Johnny cake to me. They used ground corn as an ingredient in a lot of their food, and some historians believe it was the colonists who slurred the words "Shawnee cakes" into "Johnny cakes".  It's no surprise that these cornmeal cakes are associated with New England, as it was the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims how to grind corn (because their supply of wheat flour had spoiled during their voyage from England) back in 1620.

0ebda5e1-45d3-44d6-a586-dc5cb97fb591 2In their purest form, Johnny cakes are made from yellow or white corn meal, boiling water, salt and sometimes sugar.  The corn meal gives them their unique, kinda gritty dense texture, but, they get most of their flavor from what they are cooked in, so, bacon drippings or butter, or either, combined with some oil are always used.  The batter has the consistency of loose mashed potatoes, and, while many versions contain milk and egg, unlike pancakes they don't contain any leavening (baking powder or baking soda), which is great because you can mix 'em in advance.

Corn pancakes.  Light like pancakes w/the flavor of corncakes:

IMG_01031  cup whole milk or buttermilk

1  large egg

3/4  cup Aunt Jemima original pancake & waffle mix

1/2  cup Jiffy corn muffin mix

corn or vegetable oil, for frying

salted butter pats, for topping pancakes

pure maple syrup, for drizzling over pancakes

country sausage patties, for accompaniment 

IMG_0107 IMG_0107 IMG_0112 2 IMG_0112 2 IMG_0116 IMG_0116 IMG_0120~Step 1. To make the batter, in a 2-cup measuring container, place and whisk together the milk (or buttermilk) and egg.  Measure and add the dry Jiffy mix mixture to the wet mixture and whisk it in. Measure and add the dry pancake mix to the wet mixture and whisk it in -- there is no need to worry about getting out all of the lumps.  Cover and set the batter aside for about 5-10 minutes. Afterward, check the consistency, and, if the mix seems too thick, whisk in a splash of milk or buttermilk.

IMG_0124 IMG_0124 IMG_0131 IMG_0131 IMG_0138 IMG_0138 IMG_0142 IMG_0142~Step 2.  To cook/fry the corn pancakes, in any size nonstick skillet, place a thin coating of corn or vegetable oil.  Place skillet over medium- medium-high heat.  For each pancake, pour about 4 tablespoons batter into the hot the oil.  The pancake will form itself.  Once bubbles form across the surface, and the perimeter of the pancake looks slightly-dryer than the middle, use a spatula to flip the pancake over -- this will take about 1 1/2-2 minutes. After flipping, cook pancake on the second side, for about 1-1 1/2 minutes.  Pancakes will be lightly golden with slightly-crispy edges.

Note:  For evenly-shaped, evenly-cooked pancakes, I like to fry them individually, in 1-2, 8" skillets -- two skillets on the stovetop at once.  After each 1-2 cook, I add a splash of additional oil to each pan, and, continue to cook until all of the batter has been used.  Try it my way -- each pancake comes out perfect every time.  Trust me -- one pancake per skillet is the ticket to perfection.

Tea for two & two for tea & two of everything for me:

IMG_0176In a Jiffy Corn Pancake & Sausage Patty Breakfast:  Recipe yields 10, 3 1/2"-4" round corn pancakes/2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; whisk; 8" nonstick skillet; 2-ounce ladle; spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4acbc41200cCook's Note: Sausage and eggs. It might sound kind-of run-of-the-mill, but, when the sausage is homemade, and the eggs are fried in the luscious sausage drippings, it's remarkable.  And newsflash: While making breakfast sausage is not quite as easy as picking up a package of loose or link sausage at the store, it's pretty darn close, AND, trust me, after one taste of, you'll never look at store-bought the same way again.  Period.  Try ~ Mel's Herbaceous All-Purpose Breakfast Sausage ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/15/2021

~ Open Sesame -- Easiest Teriyaki Pork Tenderloins ~

IMG_0088Can a really, I mean REALLY good dinner entrée be made using three ingredients?  Yes, on occasion it can, and, let's be honest, whether your food world moves at a fast pace or a slow pace, a three-ingredient dinner entrée recipe in-the-style of this one (meaning you're proud to plate and serve it to your family, or, to a few guests), is: a recipe worth having -- it's "the stuff" good home cooks are made of.  There's no shame in shortcuts as long they are high-quality ones. For example:  Using a bottle of seriously-good store-bought teriyaki sauce, instead of making it from scratch.  If it looks and tastes great, does anyone really need to know?  I think not.

As a lover of Asian fare, teriyaki-in-general is one of my favorite ways to cook.  Teriyaki is as well known outside of Japan as sushi or ramen is, so, most American people, kids included, will give "teriyaki anything" a try.  A bottle of teriyaki sauce has been a staple condiment in my pantry for as long as I've had a pantry, standing right next to the elites:  Heinz ketchup, French's mustard, Hellman's mayonnaise and Lee & Perrin's worcestershire sauce.  That said, teriyaki sauce is seriously simple to make, and, it can be customized to suit your family's taste.  I typically prepare a double- or triple-sized batch, then keep what I don’t use in the refrigerator, so it's ready to reheat the next time a "teriyaki anything" craving hits me or mine -- as often as once a week.

6a0120a8551282970b0263e95ca6aa200bTeriyaki (tehr-uh-yah-kee):  Teriyaki is a Japanese term referring to a method of cooking beefchicken, ribs, or seafood that has been marinated (in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic and/or ginger) prior to being grilled, broiled or stir-fried. "Teri" is the Japanese word for "luster", and it is the sugar that gives the food its "teri" or shiny glaze.  It's interesting to note that in Japan, there is no official teriyaki sauce.  Teriyaki sauce was invented by the early Japanese settlers to the islands of Hawaii.  They created:

A slightly-sweet nicely-thickened marinade/basting sauce using local, readily-available, easy-to-acquire Hawaiian products.  For example: pineapple juice (in place of the mirin or sake of their homeland) and wild garlic (in conjuction with ginger they brought with them), mixed with soy sauce and thickened with cornstarch.  The subject at hand (beef, chicken, pork, fish or seafood) is marinated for a minimum of 30 minutes, longer for a more pronounced flavor, then cooked.

6a0120a8551282970b026be408b9ea200dHomemade teriyaki sauce is thick and drizzly.  At its thinnest, it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, and, at the discretion of the cook, in many cases thicker than that.  That said, many store-brought brands are watery (similar in consistency to soy sauce), and, they will not work in this recipe.  Ideally, the teriyaki sauce should be similar in consistency to a hearty barbecue sauce.  What I keep on-hand and recommend is: Panda Express Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce.

Three ingredients + two quick sides = one wonderful Asian entrée:

IMG_00341  vacuum-packed package of 2 whole pork tenderloins, about 3 1/2-4 pounds total

1/2  cup Mandarin brand teriyaki sauce, or your favorite brand

about 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

steamed basmati rice, suggested accompaniment

steam-in-bag Asian vegetables, suggested accompaniment

IMG_0036 IMG_0036 IMG_0041 IMG_0041 IMG_0049~Step 1.  One-at-a-time remove the tenderloins from the vacuum packaging, using a few paper towels to pat each one dry, placing them together in a 1-gallon food storage bag as you work.  Add 1/2  cup of teriyaki sauce to the bag, then securely seal the bag.  Using your fingertips, "smoosh" the bag around to make sure both tenderloins are fully-coated in the teriyaki sauce.  Refrigerate 4-8 hours or overnight -- overnight is best.

IMG_0052 IMG_0052 IMG_0052~ Step 2.  Line a 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a piece of parchment paper atop the foil.  Remove the tenderloins from the marinade, shaking each one gently, to allow excess marinade to drizzle back into the bag.  Place the tenderloins, side-by-side, on prepared baking pan.  Sprinkle sesame seeds evenly over the surface of both tenderloins.  Discard the bag and the marinade.

IMG_0066 IMG_0066~ Step 3.  Bake tenderloins, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 350° oven, about 30-35 minutes, or until the desired degree of doneness is reached.  I always use an instant-read meat thermometer and remove them when they have reached 138°-140°.  When the tenderloins are removed from the oven, tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil rest for 15-30 minutes, during which time carryover heat will continue to work its magic.  For best results, follow my instructions, meaning, do NOT cook past 140° or they will dry out (you were warned).  While tenderloins are resting, prepare the recommended side-dishes.

Slice & serve tenderloins w/steamed basmati rice, steam-in-bag vegetables & additional teriyaki sauce for dipping & drizzling:

IMG_0079This is a meal I like to serve plated in perfect-sized portions:

IMG_0095Open Sesame -- Easiest Teriyaki Pork Tenderloins:  Recipe yields 8-12 servings/4-6 servings each pork tenderloin.

Special Equipment List: paper towels; 1-gallon food storage bag; 1 cup measuring container; 12 1/2" x 8 3/4" baking pan; parchment paper; aluminum foil; instant-read meat thermometer (optional but recommended); chef's knife

6a0120a8551282970b0263e95cb855200bCook's Note: Americans adore teriyaki-style almost anything.  This is not an assumption on my part. Beef or chicken teriyaki appear as a skewered appetizer option on menus in almost all Japanese-American and Chinese-American restaurants.  Make no mistake, teriyaki is a 100% Japanese-invented method of cooking (read paragraph three), and, once Americans here in the states got a taste for its soy- and ginger-based flavors (thanks to our soldiers returning to the homeland after WWII), Chinese-American restaurants adopted it, to please the palates of their customers.  For another super-easy recipe, try my ~ Japanese-Teriyaki-Style Roasted Chicken Quarters ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/12/2021

~A Slice of Hometown Pie -- My Hometown Pizza Pie~

IMG_9978When I was three, my parents built a home in the suburbs of Tamaqua, PA -- Hometown, PA. Hometown, was/is a community of mostly one-story ranch and bi-level homes that is best described as where the post-WWII generation built their dream homes in the latter 1950's, 60's and 70's -- homes with one or two car garages or an occasional car port, well-maintained lawns with backyard patios, swing sets and badminton nets, barbecue grills, etc. -- a great neighborhood to raise kids.  Amongst other things, Hometown had its own fire company, elementary school, a couple of gas stations, a diner, a small hotel and restaurant with a doctor's office on the top floor, a great drive-up place to buy burgers and hand-dipped ice-cream, a weekly farmers' market, a bowling alley, and, a pizza place -- all five-minutes from home, no matter where you lived.

It was an idillic lifestyle -- a real slice of Americana.

6a0120a8551282970b027880189f70200dIt's worth mention, nine-out-of-every-ten-times, I mix and first-proof my pizza dough in my bread machine.  The bread machine, in 55 minutes from beginning to end, does a superb job with pizza dough, and frees up my hands to prep ingredients for the toppings.  Feel free to proof your yeast, mix, knead and proof your dough in the traditional manner, but, don't tell me it's better. It's simply a different method producing the same result.  

Hometown:  Complete w/a signature "upside down" pizza.  

Vitale's restaurant.  What I write in the following paragraphs are the recollections of a girl (me) who's family of four ordered Vitale's pizza often -- and we adored it.  That said, they are the recollections of a girl (me) from elementary school through to high school, so, they span just shy of two decades.  Vitale's operated for almost 50 years, and, as I recall, the famous "upside down" pizza remained, sort of, for the most part, unchanged.  That said, after moving out of the area in 1974, I began serving my own version of Vitale's pizza, as per my recollections of what it looked and tasted like, so, no criticisms please.  Their recipe remains a secret to this day.  Mine does not.

169177953_10208288972459527_2048124597350509320_nVitale's Country House, an Italian-American restaurant and pub, located on Route 54 in Hometown, PA, opened in 1959.  Besides their unique "upside down pizza" (cheese on the bottom and sauce on top), great pasta dishes and classic dinner favorites like veal parmigiana and lasagna, they were known for steaks, veal chops, lobster tails, and steamed clams too -- my dad loved the clams, my mom loved their veal. My brother and I were there for the pizza.  In the early 1960's a fire caused the restaurant to close, but, the owner, Louie Vitale rebuilt and reopened, until sadly, it closed its doors permanently in 1994. Their recipe for their pizza crust, sauce, and toppings was, sadly, never shared. My recollections are:

IMG_9987Vitale's pizza crust was thin and crispy -- not super-thin and cracker-like, simply thin and crispy. The cheese(s), common to the era, would have been limited to provolone and/or mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan, so, that's what I use -- not too much, not too little, just enough.  The sauce was dark in color, deep-flavored and not too sweet, probably a slow-simmered cooked sauce -- not too much, not too little, just enough. The sauce got dolloped on top of the cheeses, and, for a period in time, was "smooshed" around with a spoon to spread it atop the cheese as best one could -- somewhere along the line the "smooshing" stopped and the sauce remained in dollops (which I honestly didn't like as well).  A light sprinkling of powdery Parmesan went on top, along with a sprinkling of oregano -- I assumed it was oregano because small shaker-type containers of oregano could be found on every table (along with Parmesan cheese) throughout the restaurant -- simply oregano.

My version of Vitale's Pizza -- the way I remember it.

IMG_9870For the dough for two 12-round thin-and-crispy light-and-airy pizzas:

3/4  cup + 2 tablespoons flat beer or water (Note:  I like the yeasty-flavor that flat beer adds to the crust, but, water works just fine.  Your choice.)

1  tablespoon olive oil

2 1/4  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon dried oregano

1  teaspoon salt

1  teaspoon sugar

1  packet granulated yeast

For the toppings:

6-7  very-thin (paper thin) slices provolone cheese per pie

1 1/4-1 1/2  cups shredded mozzarella cheese per pie

3/4  cup pizza sauce per pie

1-1 1/2  tablespoons finely-shredded Parmesan cheese per pie

a sprinkling of dried oregano leaves per pie, for seasoning pizza 

IMG_9876 IMG_9876 IMG_9881 IMG_9881 IMG_9885~Step 1. Place the beer and olive oil in the the bread pan of the bread machine.  Add the all-purpose flour, followed by the sugar, salt and optional oregano.  Note:  When making any type of bread machine bread or bread machine dough, it's very important to always add the wet ingredients (anything liquid or pourable) first and the dry ingredients last.

IMG_9887 IMG_9887 IMG_9891 IMG_9891~Step 2. Insert the bread pan into the machine.  Close lid and push the "select" button.  Choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push "start".  When the machine signals the dough is done (it will have risen once too), remove pan of dough from the machine.  In my machine this takes 55 minutes.

IMG_9934 IMG_9934 IMG_9939~ Step 3. Place 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of olive on each of two 12"-round pizza pans and use a paper towel to oil the inside surface of the pans.  Use a few drops of olive oil to lightly oil your fingertips and use your fingertips to turn the ball of dough out of the bread pan and into your hand.  Divide the dough in half, then place each half onto a prepared pan.  Allow the dough to rest on the pan about 15-20 minutes.  Note:  This 15-20 minute rest will make dough easy to pat onto pizza pan. Using your fingertips and a light touch, pat and press dough across bottom of pan.  I do this in 3 parts taking 5-10 minutes, allowing dough to rest 3-4 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.

IMG_9944 IMG_9944 IMG_9944 IMG_9952 IMG_9952 IMG_9952 IMG_9960~Step 4.  To top the pizza, arrange 6-7 very thin slices provolone cheese in a single layer across the surface of each pie. Scatter 1 1/4-1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella over the provolone on each pie.  Using a tablespoon, dollop the sauce, atop the shredded cheese, onto each pizza.  Using the tablespoon and a light touch, "smoosh" the sauce around over the cheese or don't -- your choice, but, I like it "smooshed".  Sprinkle the Parmesan over the the sauce, followed by a sprinkling of oregano.

IMG_9964~ Step 5.  Baking one-at-a-time, place a pan of pizza on pizza stone on center rack of preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone.  Continue to bake for 3-4 more minutes.  Crust will be nicely-brown and nice-and-crispy on the bottom and cheeses will be bubbling up through sauce. 

Transfer to a wooden or high-heat-safe board & slice:

IMG_9967Thin crust pizza waits for no one -- slice & serve ASAP:

IMG_9979A Slice of Hometown Pie -- My Hometown Pizza Pie:  Recipe yields 2, 12"-round pizza pies/6-8 slices each.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; paper towel; 1, 12"-round pizza pan; paper towel; tablespoon; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack; pizza wheel 

6a0120a8551282970b017c3545a504970bCook's Note: On New Years Eve 2012, my husband reminisced to me about a pizza he used to eat when he was growing up:  Pioneer Club Pizza. He asked if I would try to replicate a version of this thin-crust pizza, which was unique in itself, and, to his hometown of Jessup, PA. Developing a recipe for something that you've never seen or tasted, as well as a product that hasn't existed for 30 years, is:  tricky business.  I began by asking Joe to write down his recollections of the Pioneer Club and their pizza.  He did, and, after a few attempts on my part: ~ A Blast from Jessup PA's Past:  Pioneer Club Pizza ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021

03/09/2021

~ Put the Beer in the Pizza Dough Thin-Crust Pizza ~

IMG_0018If you're a fan of, or prefer, a thin-and-crispy light-and-airy crust as the foil for your pizza or pizza creations, this is the recipe you've been searching for.  Thanks to a pizza-pro friend who schooled me on the virtues of beer in his pizza dough (by emptying almost an entire bottle of beer into his flour mixture in place of water), all it took was one taste when his pizza was done for me to try it in my own home kitchen.  It changed one of my pizza dough recipes forever -- my thin crust recipe.  

One ingredient, one substitution, one change-of-heart.

6a0120a8551282970b027880189f70200dIt's worth mention, nine-out-of-every-ten-times, I mix and first-proof my pizza dough in my bread machine.  The bread machine, in 55 minutes from beginning to end, does a superb job with pizza dough, and frees up my hands to prep ingredients for the toppings.  Feel free to proof your yeast, mix, knead and proof your dough in the traditional manner, but, don't tell me it's better. It's simply a different method producing the same result.

Beer in place of water.  Why didn't I think of that?

IMG_9872For the dough for two 12-round thin-and-crispy light-and-airy pizzas:

3/4  cup + 2 tablespoons beer

1  tablespoon olive oil

2 1/4  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon dried oregano (optional)

1  teaspoon salt

1  teaspoon sugar

1  packet granulated yeast

IMG_9876 IMG_9876 IMG_9881 IMG_9883 IMG_9885~Step 1. Place the beer and olive oil in the the bread pan of the bread machine.  Add the all-purpose flour, followed by the sugar, salt and optional oregano.  Note:  When making any type of bread machine bread or bread machine dough, it's very important to always add the wet ingredients (anything liquid or pourable) first and the dry ingredients last.

IMG_9887 IMG_9887 IMG_9891 IMG_9891~Step 2.  Insert the bread pan into the machine.  Close lid and push the "select" button. Using your index finger, make a shallow well in the center of the flour and add the granulated yeast to the well  Choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push "start".  When the machine signals the dough is done (it will have risen once too), remove pan of dough from the machine.  In my machine this takes 55 minutes. Note:  You will have a total of 1-pound 2-ounces  pizza dough.

IMG_9934 IMG_9934 IMG_9939~ Step 3. Place 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of olive on each of two 12"-round pizza pans and use a paper towel to oil the inside surface of the pans.  Use a few drops of olive oil to lightly oil your fingertips and use your fingertips to turn the ball of dough out of the bread pan and into your hand.  Divide the dough in half, then place each half onto a prepared pan.  Rest dough on the pans about 10-15 minutes. Note:  This 10-15 minute rest will make dough easy to pat onto the pizza pans. Using your fingertips and a light touch, pat and press dough across bottom of pan.  I do this in 3 parts taking 5-10 minutes, allowing dough to rest 3-4 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.  

IMG_9997 IMG_9997~ Step 4. Top your pizza in your favorite way, and, while today's subject is not toppings, FYI, each pizza is topped w/6 slices provolone cheese, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of dried oregano. Baking one-at-a-time, place a pan of pizza on pizza stone on center rack of preheated 350° oven for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone. Continue to bake for 3-4 more minutes.  Crust will be nicely-brown and crispy on the bottom and cheese will be molten on the top. Using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to cutting board.  Slice and serve immediately.

Transfer to a wooden or high-heat-safe board & slice:

IMG_0008Thin crust pizza waits for no one -- slice & serve ASAP:

IMG_0021Put the Beer in the Pizza Dough Thin-Crust Pizza:  Recipe yields dough for 2, 12"-round pizzas/6-8 servings each pizza.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; paper towel; 1, 12"-round pizza pan; paper towel; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; high-heat-safe board

IMG_9586Cook's Note: Experimenting with pizza dough is not something I do often.  Why?  Because one has to be willing to run the risk of sacrificing a pizza in the event it doesn't work.  Let's put it another way, one has to be of the mindset to experiment with a new dough or a variation on an existing one, and (chuckle if you want to but it's really not a laughing matter if you're wed to eating pizza), for a few short hours, one must throw caution to the wind and live dangerously.  I did this today.  Ya gotta try my recipe for ~ Beer in the Pizza Dough & a Semolina Pizza Crust ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

03/06/2021

~ Quick-to-Fix Ground-Beef Chili Sauce for Hot Dogs ~

6a0120a8551282970b0134892e6577970cI was a hot dog in a past life.  A hot dog a day keeps the doctor away.  I say silly stuff like this all the time.  But, why wouldn't I?  I am the hot dog queen in my kitchen.  My husband's an aficionado of Italian-American-style sausage, pepper and onion sandwiches (which I can take-or-leave).  In my food world, the hot dog reigns supreme, and, I like all kinds too -- from New-York-style Dirty Water Dogs, to New Jersey-style Italian hot dogs, to, last but not least, Chicago-style hot dogs.  That said, my hands-down favorite is:  Texas-Style.  Read on:

Texas chili dogs are slathered with yellow mustard and topped with an ever-so-slightly chunky, to-the-tooth chewy, aromatic all-meat chili.  You'd think they were from Texas, but they actually were the invention of an unnamed Greek gentlemen who owned and operated a small restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey.  In 1924, he devised a chili sauce that drew upon flavors and spices of his heritage.  Much like Cincinnati chili, a dish also created by Greek immigrants, Texas chili sauce included cloves as well as garlic and other spices.  According to legend, because the chili was made with hand-ground steak, not ground beef, it earned the "Texas" part of its name.

Steak is always great, but, ground beef is super-good too:

IMG_98042  pounds high-quality 90/10 ground beef, no substitutions

8  ounces diced yellow or sweet onion

8  ounces diced celery

1  cup ketchup

1  cup chili sauce

2  tablespoons yellow mustard

1  tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce

1  tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1  tablespoon chili powder

1  teaspoon garlic powder

1/2  teaspoon ground cloves

IMG_9819 IMG_9819~ Step 1. Dice the celery and onion as directed, placing them in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, as you work.  Using a series of 30-35 rapid on-off pulses, finely mince and combine the two.  You want the veggies to be as finely minced as possible without puréeing them or becoming soupy.  Set aside.

IMG_9806 IMG_9808 IMG_9810 IMG_9810 IMG_9812~Step 2. To make the sauce, in a 2-cup measuring container or a small mixing bowl (the measuring container is easier), use a spoon to stir together the ketchup, chili sauce, yellow mustard, cayenne pepper sauce and Worcertershire sauce. Add and stir in the chili powder, garlic powder and ground cloves.  Stir until smooth and uniform in color.  Set aside.

IMG_9828 IMG_9828 IMG_9836 IMG_9836 IMG_9842 IMG_9846~Step 3.  Place the ground beef in a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan.  Add and stir in the onion-celery mixture. Over medium- medium-high heat, cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until the meat has lost all of its red color and is steamed through.  Keep your heat adjusted so that at no time, no browning occurs.  Continue to cook, again, stirring frequently, until almost no moisture/liquid remains in the bottom of pan, about 30 minutes.

IMG_9849 IMG_9851 IMG_9855 IMG_9856 IMG_9861 IMG_9734~Step 4.  Add the ketchup/chili sauce concoction to the skillet and give the mixture a thoroughly stir. Adjust heat to a gentle simmer and continue to cook, stirring frequently (to avoid any chance of scorching), 15 more minutes.  Turn the heat off and cover the pan.  Allow the mixture to steep, another 15-30 minutes, or up to 1-2 hours (or overnight in the refrigerator) prior to serving or freezing for several more chili dog dinners.

Recipe makes 6 cups sauce, &, each 1 cup tops 4-6 chili dogs:

Texas Chili Dogs #1 ( 2 Dogs Intro Picture)Texas-Style Ground-Beef Chili-Sauce for Hot Dogs:  Recipe yields 6 cups/enough to sauce 24-36 hot dogs.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; food processor; 2-cup measuring container; 3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides & lid; spatula; large spoon; 6, 1-cup freezer-safe food-storage containers (or containers of desired size) 

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c947fa7f970bCook's Note: Mexi-Hots is a Pennsylvania, registered, fictitiously-named business, originally filed on February 4, 1948 (the company will celebrate it 70th birthday on February 4th, 2018).  The filing status is active.  The company's principal address, originally on the the corner of College Avenue and Pugh Street in downtown State College and owned by the Carelas family, is currently located at 2390 South Atherton Street -- Pop's Mexi-Hots are now made by and sold at Meyer's Dairy.  Try my recipe for ~ Happy Valley PA's Pop's Mexi-Hots Hot Dog Sauce ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

03/03/2021

~Slow-Cooker Buffalo-Style St. Lewis-Style Spareribs~

IMG_9771Try as I might, I can't let more than a month or two go by without either:  succumbing to the craving to deep-fry and eat Buffalo-style chicken wings, or, experiment with a new way to enjoy the sweet-heat of Buffalo-sauced anything.  Today, I decided to try my hand at low-and-slow cooked Buffalo-style pork ribs -- when they were done, I finished them off under the broiler, just to crisp the fat cap and caramelize the sauce a bit.  Remember the famous ad-man line, "pork -- the other white meat"?  Well, I'll be making these again, and often.  Life in the 'burbs -- burp.

IMG_9376What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms. Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce as a glaze to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into some previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals.  Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, in the privacy of her own home (where she's free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), while different, my Buffalo-Style delicacies are every bit as enjoyable as classic wings.

A bit about the rack of meaty pork ribs I use to make these:

When it comes to purchasing pork spareribs, we cooks almost always have a choice to make: babyback (sometimes labeled "pork back ribs"), or, St. Louis-style (sometimes labeled "breastbone-off, pork ribs").  To the eye, babybacks are smaller (which appeals to many home cooks because they're more manageable), but, please know, this has nothing to do with the size of the pig (meaning, for those spreading false information: they're not taken from baby pigs).

6a0120a8551282970b0263e9553c34200bBabybacks are cut from where the rib meets the spine after the loin is removed.  Each rack weighs about 1 1/2-2 pounds and averages 10-13 curved, 4"-5"-long ribs.  In our house, one rack will feed 2 people. St. Lewis- Style refers to the way the ribs are cut, not a style of barbecue.  They are larger, meatier, and cut from the belly after the belly is removed.  They get trimmed in the style of St. Lewis butchers, by cutting away the breastbone and cartilage to form a rectangular shape.  Each rack weighs about 2 1/2-3 pounds and averages 12-14 flatfish, 6"-7"-long ribs.  When serving these, I plan on one rack feeding 3-4 people.

A bit about the crockpot I use to slow-cook them in:

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec1abf5d200cMeet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I saw it as a vehicle for one small rack of St. Lewis-style ribs, to slowly cook in sauce, evenly and in comfort -- spa-style.

My slow-cooker method for Buffalo-style St. Lewis-Style ribs:

IMG_96251  smallish-sized rack St. Lewis-style spareribs, about 3 pounds

Frank's RedHot Ranch, dry seasoning blend, for seasoning ribs

1  12-ounce bottle Frank's RedHot wing sauce

6  tablespoons salted butter

1/2  cup honey

IMG_9601 IMG_9601 IMG_9606 IMG_9606 IMG_9606~Step 1.  To make my special sweet-heat wing sauce from the bottle of wing sauce, in a 2-quart saucepan, place: the contents of the bottle of wing sauce and the butter.  Over medium-low heat, melt the butter into the wing sauce.  Add the honey and whisk until the honey is thoroughly incorporated into the wing sauce/butter mixture.  Sweet heat.

IMG_9631 IMG_9631 IMG_9637 IMG_9637 IMG_9645 IMG_9645 IMG_9653~Step 2. To prep and season the rack of ribs, remove ribs from packaging and pat dry in paper towels.  Flip the rack, bottom side up and place it on a large work surface.   Using a chef's knife or a pair of kitchen shears either remove the flap of meat that's up against the bone or trim it off.  This choice is yours -- I leave it on as I adore these "bonus bites".  Using a sharp-tipped paring knife, gently raise and loosen the membrane (called the silver skin) from the first rib, then, using a paper towel or two to get a grip on the membrane, slowly, but firmly, tear it off.  Next, cut the rack of ribs in half.  Now, lastly, season the ribs liberally on both sides with the RedHot Ranch seasoning -- don't skimp.

IMG_9657 IMG_9660 IMG_9660 IMG_9668 IMG_9668~Step 3. Arrange the ribs to fit in bottom of crockpot, in a single layer, slightly-overlapping the two sections is just fine (and will probably by necessary).  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle 3/4 cup wing sauce over the tops of the ribs. Cover the crockpot. Cook on high for 2 hours, then, low for 2 hours. The tip of a knife or the tines of a fork, when pierced between any two ribs will easily glide through and come out on the other side.  If desired, adjust heat to keep ribs warm for up to 1 hour prior to finishing them as directed in the next step.

IMG_9676 IMG_9676 IMG_9682 IMG_9682 IMG_9689~Step 4. Preheat broiler with oven rack positioned about 5" under the heat.  Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of pan.  Open crockpot and remove the ribs, arranging them slightly apart on the baking pan.  Using a large pastry brush generously slather the the tops with additional wing sauce.  Finish ribs off under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and just starting to to show signs of light browning.  Watch carefully  -- ribs can and will go from lightly-browned to burned quickly.

Serve 'em up atop a bed of my recipe for RedHot-Ranch Slaw:

IMG_9764Slow-cooked to tender perfection & gnawsomely awesome:

IMG_9785Slow-Cooked, Buffalo-Style St. Lewis-Style Spareribs:  Recipe yields one rack of ribs/4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart saucepan; whisk; paper towels; chef's knife or kitchen shears; paring knife; Crockpot casserole; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e7a029200dCook's Note: Not everyone is a master of the barbecue or smoker. Newsflash.  Not everyone wants to be. While I'm more than competent on a gas grill, charcoal gives me fits and the smell of smoke gives me a headache. There's more.  When the temperature in the great outdoors is threatening to blow the top off my thermometer, you won't find me outside torturing myself in the blazing heat just to prepare a rack of ribs.  It's the AC for me baby, and, trust me, you're gonna love the ribs I'm making in the cool oasis called "Melanie's Kitchen". Ya gotta try my ~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)