Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers

I’m really beginning to wonder if one of the symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome is a lack of interest in cooking, and a lack of interest in photographing the results when you do feel like cooking.

Because that seems to be my life ever since The Young One left for college.

Seriously – Beloved and I are living off of eggs, simply cooked meats and vegetables, fruits and ferments…lots and lots of ferments.  (Ferments = easy, nutritious and delicious.)  It suits our lives right now, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m rather enjoying it all.  No kids.  No pets.  Just me, Beloved, and episodes of Orange is the New Black and 24 on Netflix.  Life is good.

At any rate, I’m sure my interest in cooking and food photography will return eventually, but in the meantime I’m going to post twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.  And it will most likely be simple, easy dishes unless the mood strikes and I make something along the lines of the Apple Fritter recipe on a Sunday morning.

This is one of those simple recipes.  It is also incredibly delicious – Beloved said it was the best burger he’s eaten in a very long time, and I have to concur with him.  They are just marvelous.

The trick is not to overcook them; low and slow is the way to go.  Check the temperature of the burgers and don’t let it go over 145 F, then cover them and put them in a warm oven for 10 minutes.  The result is an incredibly juicy, flavorful burger.

I served this with Dilly Beans, Jalapenos en Escabeche (both of which are almost completely gone now) and roasted sweet potato wedges; it was a great dinner.  Anyone interested in a recipe for the wedges?  They were pretty darn good, too.

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers. Apple and cheddar cheese really pump up the flavor of these burgers, while bacon helps keep them moist and juicy.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Gently combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form 8 patties from the mixture.
  2. Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium-low heat; cook the burgers until the internal temperature reaches 145 F.
  3. Place the burgers on a large plate or platter; cover with aluminum foil and place in a warm oven. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 434 calories, 35.1g total fat, 106.1mg cholesterol, 621.8mg sodium, 395.7mg potassium, 3.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 24.4g protein

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops

I never really liked lamb when I was younger.

Of course, it fell into the category of “weird meat” along with just about any type of seafood, which my mother disliked intensely, so we never ate it.  On the few occasions where I was served lamb, I thought it had a strong, gamey, weird taste and decided that, along with asparagus, I just didn’t like it.

These days, I love asparagus and I love lamb.  We still never ate much of it until we began buying our meat through our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  They sell wonderful pastured lamb, raised by daughter Stacy and her husband, so we began buying it whenever we saw it.  Today, some of those lamb recipes are among the most delicious posted on this blog.

This year, we decided to purchase an entire lamb – just to keep our beef, pork, poultry, and venison company in the freezer. 😛  (Well, it’s keeping the beef, pork, and venison company; we ran out of room and had to buy a second, smaller freezer just for the poultry.)  And because we have all that delicious lamb stashed away, you’ll be seeing quite a few more lamb recipes from me in the coming months.

This is the first from Lambchop.  (I know – it’s lame, but Sir Lambs-A-Lot wasn’t suggested to us until later.)

Lamb chops are best simply prepared, and this recipe is about as simple as they come.  It is also delicious – tender, juicy and flavorful.  I prepared this on a stovetop cast iron grill pan for myself and The Young One (who inhaled his chops and began eying mine) since Beloved is out of town.  But if you’re inclined to fire up the grill, do so – I think it would give them a very pleasant smokiness that would complement the bold flavors of the dish quite well.

Note:  I used loin chops for this, but rib chops would work equally well.  The leftovers reheated nicely, too.

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops. A wonderful way to cook lamb chops- few ingredients, simple preparation, great flavor.Click image to enlarge

Rosemary-Garlic Lamb Chops
Serves: 3
Ingredients
  • 6 lamb loin chops, about 1″ thick
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Instructions
  1. Combine the rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the surface of the lamb chops and allow them to rest at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare your grill according to manufacturers instructions or heat a grill pan over high heat until almost smoking, add the chops and sear for about 3 minutes. Flip the chops over and cook for another 4 minutes for medium-rare and 4 1/2 minutes for medium.
  3. Allow the chops to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 405 calories, 22.4g total fat, 144.5mg cholesterol, 739.8mg sodium, 626.8mg potassium, 1.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 47.2g protein

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.

Ours was…interesting.  As part of our CSA share, we’re required to work 2 to 3 hours on the farm each season.  Last year Beloved and I harvested the shallots and readied the beds for the next crop; this year we decided to participate in one of the “group” harvests.  There are three each year: garlic, onions and potatoes.  Since garlic is harvested first, we decided to do that one – not only did Beloved and I go, we dragged The Young One along with us.

You have no idea how hard it is on your hands to clean four bajillion heads of garlic.  And it took over 24 hours to get rid of the smell (it’s very fortunate that all three of us happen to love the smell and taste of the stuff).  But, you know, we got a great sense of accomplishment from it – especially since the three of us were the only participants to stay until it was all done.

Summer has also finally arrived in our neck of the woods, and not only is it hot, it is humid as all get out.  Not exactly the kind of weather that makes you jump up and say things like, “Oh, I want to spend all day cooking – let’s use the oven while we’re at it!!”  Needless to say, we’ve been doing quite a bit of grilling over the last couple of days; there have been steaks and chicken and slaw and melon – all of it seasonal, easy and delicious.

This is what we grilled last night, and it was simply marvelous.  Flank steak is cut from the abdominal muscles of the animal and can be tough if not properly prepared, but it is also extremely flavorful.  When marinated and cooked quickly to a nice medium-rare, it is wonderfully juicy and reasonably tender – perfect for fajitas, which is the way we served it.

The orange, lime and cilantro in the marinade give it sweet and tangy citrus undertones, while the chipotle chili powder and cumin lend it a pleasant, contrasting spiciness.  We ate it with grilled onions and peppers, homemade guacamole and fresh watermelon – the perfect dinner for a hot summer night.  Whole30 compliant, too!

Note:  This recipe comes in at 4 grams of carbs (assuming six servings), but since the marinade is discarded, even that is overstated.  I’d say this probably contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving.

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak. Nothing compares to a perfectly grilled Flank Steak, especially when flavored with citrus and chili!

Click on the image to enlarge

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • The juice of 1 orange
  • The juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pound flank steak
Instructions
  1. With a small, sharp paring knife score the steak on both sides.
  2. Combine the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender; puree until smooth. Place the steak in a large, resealable plastic bag and pour the marinade over it. Press out the air, seal the bag and marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours.
  3. Prepare the coals on the grill until they are glowing red with a white ash around them. Drain and discard the marinade and place the steak 4 inches over the coals; sear quickly, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Move the steak away from the direct heat, cover the grill and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 135 F, about 7 to 10 minutes longer. Remove the steak from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 346 calories, 21.9g total fat, 102.8mg cholesterol, 493.8mg sodium, 593.5mg potassium, 4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.6g sugar, 32.6g protein

Bison Ribs

We ran out to visit the lovely folks at Whitefeather Meats on Saturday so Beloved could pick up a couple of things to take on his business trip this week.  While we were there, I was poking around in the freezers (got another rabbit!) and found a stash of racks of bison ribs.

You KNOW I wasn’t going to pass those up.

When we went to check out, Scott Perkins said to me, “Good choice!  If those didn’t sell, I’d take them home and cook them myself.”  To answer my question as to just how he’d prepare them, he said, “I put them in the slow cooker!”

Once we got home, I decided to put the ribs in the refrigerator so I could cook them for our Sunday dinner (’cause bison ribs are such a traditional Irish meal, don’t you know).  Faced with actually cooking them, though, I thought that I’d like to serve them on the bone so I decided to braise the ribs in the oven and then finish them on my cast-iron grill pan with a sauce.

It was a good choice; the meat was succulent and incredibly flavorful and the choice to brush them with my Rhubarb Chutney Sauce was an excellent one, although they would be delicious with a standard barbecue sauce – or just on their own.  Since they were just huge, they were also rather fun to eat – I felt like Fred Flinstone.  The Young one picked three of the ribs absolutely clean.

If you can’t get your hands on bison ribs, this recipe would be just as good with beef ribs (not to be confused with short ribs).  You can, of course, finish these on the grill, if you prefer.  Assuming it’s grilling weather where you are, because it definitely is NOT here.

Bison Ribs.  Flavorful and meaty, yet tender and succulent, these are quite easy to make.

Bison Ribs
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds bison ribs
  • 2 tablespoons tallow or other cooking fat
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 pint beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/2 cup [url href=”http://www.janssushibar.com/rhubarb-chutney-sauce/” target=”_blank”]Rhubarb Chutney Sauce[/url]
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Allow the ribs to come to room temperature; if they’re in a rack, separate them into individual ribs and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the tallow over medium-high heat in large, oven-safe Dutch oven or casserole with a lid. Brown the ribs on all sides, in batches if necessary,
  3. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Arrange the ribs in the pan on their sides and pour in the beef stock. Cover and bake for 2 hours, turning the ribs every 30 minutes, until they are tender, but not falling off the bone.
  4. Allow the ribs to rest, uncovered, in the pot for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a grill pan over medium high heat.
  5. Sear the ribs on the grill pan until they begin to crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Brush with the rhubarb sauce, and serve immediately.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 329 calories, 10.2g total fat, 130mg cholesterol, 346.3mg sodium, 986.6mg potassium, 11.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 8.9g sugar, 45.6g protein

Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Happy 2013, everyone!  I hope you and your families had a great holiday.  We took a lot of time off from work, and for me that included blogging.  Not a bad thing, since I was getting a tad burned out.  But the rest did me a lot of good, and now I’m back at it and raring to go.

We have a lot to celebrate over the holiday season, besides just Christmas and New Years, since my birthday is 3 mere days before Christmas and our wedding anniversary is, well, today.  Sadly, Beloved is out of town on business – he left yesterday – so we had to celebrate on Monday.  This is what we had for dinner.

And, ermahgerd, was it GOOD.

When we were gifted our deer, I had the option of having the ribs left in a rack and Frenched.  That’s a lot of meat for just 3 – or more often these days as The Young One goes about his own business, just 2 – so I had them cut into individual chops which my butchers kindly Frenched anyway and I just love; it’s like eating a big meat lollipop.  At any rate, I decided to serve them for our anniversary dinner along with roasted sweet potatoes and some (yes, out of season but just lovely) asparagus.

Deer is very lean and this cut is best simply prepared so I merely rubbed the chops with a spice mixture and seared them on my cast iron griddle.  I cooked them rare before resting them and the chops were just delicious – tender and juicy and flavorful, we picked the bones clean, much to the disappointment of the dog.

Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Spicy Venison Rib Chops

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 deer rib chops, about 3 or 4 ounces each
  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
Instructions
  1. Mix the coconut sugar and spices together in a small bowl. Generously rub the chops with the spice mixture and allow them to rest at room temperature, for about an hour.
  2. Heat a large skillet or griddle over high heat until smoking and sear the chops, about a minute per side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the chops reach an internal temperature of about 135 F, or about 3 additional minutes per side.
  3. Remove the chops to a plate or cutting board and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before plating and serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 281 calories, 6.3g total fat, 40.8mg cholesterol, 494.4mg sodium, 62.5mg potassium, 6.4g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 3.7g sugar, 49.4g protein