Sloppy Frisco Jo Melts

      OK, so this week I spent a lot of time in the lab (what I call my kitchen) to come up with this weeks recipe. One of our many goals on The Common Chef is to come up with new and exciting ways of preparing our normal everyday meals. After my last blog post I felt that I was lacking some what in the creativity department and so I set off looking for inspiration as to my next venture.

     Through out the week while filming our next episode Chris, PC, and I were constantly cracking jokes and bouncing ideas off one another. It was during this process that I came up with my newest creation. This week I decided to take two American Classics and attempt to combine them together. On one hand I have the scrumptious Frisco Melt, a consistent favorite sandwich of mine when I go out for lunch. And on the other hand there is the one and only Sloppy Jo. An icon of lunchrooms and kids sleep overs all throughout America.

     After having some Sloppy Jo’s with my son I took a good look at the ingredients for both sandwiches and began formulating my plan. As many of you Foodies out there know the Frisco Melt is a delicious patty melt with it’s defining characteristic being that the sandwich is adorned with a hardy slather of Thousand Island dressing. Finishing up with a slice of creamy Swiss cheese melted all the way through.

     Sloppy Jo’s are a loose meat sandwich where the hamburger meat is cooking in with a tomato or chile sauce filled with a verity of herbs and spices. Not that complicated to make thus giving this dish its mass appeal for families all over America. I was surprised to find out while talking to other people about this sandwich that Sloppy Jo’s have a culture unto itself that parallels the fanaticism of Bar-B-Q in many ways. With all the people I spoke to, all seemed to have there own secret Sloppy Jo recipe or their little secret ingredient that make their particular sandwich the best there is. Well that is what we love to see at The Common Chef, people that are passionate and have a deep connection to their food.

     Now before I go any further I like to state for the record that this recipe is still a work in progress and I need your help to perfect it. I will in time re-post a new and improved version of the recipe once I get some suggestions and feedback as to what needs to be fixed. This was my first attempt and I was happy with the results. It was a good starting point. So please try the recipe and add you own personality to the dish and send it back to me. I will try it out and who knows you may be featured on the show!

      What you will need. I always like to get all my ingredients ready and portioned before I actually start cooking. This way you don’t run into any time delay problems when it comes to adding an ingredient at the exact time.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 or ½ pound ground chuck or steak. 80/20 fat content.
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream or ½ & ½
  • 1 can tomato past
  • ½ cup diced onion (red or white)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 hard boiled egg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons pickle relish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon chili powder
  • slices of toasted bread either garlic bread or Texas toast
  • Grated Swiss Cheese

So to get down to business, I didn’t just want to heat up some Thousand Island dressing and cook some hamburger in it (Although I will try this later). Instead what I decided on doing was to try and recreate the Thousand Island flavor in a thinner sauce and cook the meat in it. The biggest hurdle was to try and find a way to replace the creaminess of the Mayonnaise but not lose any of the tartness that the Mayo adds.

I started out by making a Tomato Cream Sauce, and added the in the other varied ingredients that make up Thousand Island dressing. 

  1. Reduce down 2 cups of chicken stock to ½ cup.
  2. While the chicken stock is reducing, dice up an Onion and add about ½ cup to the stock.

Once this is done set the reduced stock aside for later. Next,

  1. Heat up 1 cup of heavy cream or half & half under Med to High heat making sure to stir the cream to prevent it from boiling over or curdling.
  2. Add in 1 tablespoon of butter, salt and pepper for taste.
  1. Once the cream has reduced down to about ½ a cup add the reduced chicken stock along with 1 can of tomato paste altogether in a large sauce pan and stir till thoroughly mixed.
  2. Raise the heat to high and add a ½ pound of ground chuck or steak to the sauce and stir continuously till the meat is completely broken up and cooked.

While the meat is cooking in the sauce add in the remaining ingredients giving them ample time to rehydrate and add their own flavors to the sauce.

  1. Add in about 4 tablespoons of minced pickled relish
  2. 2 tablespoons fresh parsley.
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh chives.
  4. 1 hard boiled egg diced up.
  5. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  6. ½ tablespoon of chili powder
  7. salt and pepper to taste.

You don’t want the sauce to be to thick so I also added in a few diced tomatoes along with some juice from the can. Again this is an attempt to get that same Thousand Island flavor and I think I have the tomato/chili side nailed down. But it is that creamy yet tart side that the mayonnaise brings that is the tricky part. Once all the ingredients have been added and the meat is cooked all the way, spoon a generous scoop on to a piece of Texas Toast garlic bread and top with some grated Swiss cheese. Give the cheese some time to melt and enjoy. 

So there you have it, my first attempt at a “Sloppy Frisco Jo Melt”. Please give it a try and experiment with your own ingredients and techniques. If you think you have improved on this recipe at all leave me a comment and I will give it a try. I will revisit this recipe again in the future to show any improvement.

Thanks again and feed you next time!

Alex’s Fancy Blue Ribbon Chicken

I am super excited about this weeks blog. Blue ribbon chicken or Chicken cordon blue has been a long time favorite dish of mine and it was one of the first recipes that I wanted to learn how to do because it sounds so fancy. So I am going to call this weeks recipe, Alex’s Fancy Blue Ribbon Chicken.

Now since I have been so enamored with this recipe I decided to do a little background research and found out some interesting things about this surprisingly American Dish.

First the dish parallels many other intercontinental recipes called “Roulades “ where different types of meat are rolled up with other ingredients and often fried. Mostly this recipe mimics Chicken Kiev or a German schnitzel and right off the bat I can say that the secret of this dish is in the variations that you can do with the ingredients. Different versions use veal a lot of the times and along with that you can just go absolutely crazy with your choice of cheeses.

Mystery surrounds the origin of the name “Cordon Blue” as it lends itself to be associated with the famous school by the same name. This is in fact not true. Chicken Cordon Blue first appeared in 1960 America and was served as a high priced entree. It is my hypothesis that someone tied this American culinary innovation to the name in order to create both recognition as well as Value. I mean what sounds better, Blue Ribbon Chicken or Chicken Cordon Bleu! Once I think about it, it was the name that first brought me to this dish.

But enough of all this History and stuff! Lets get down to some cooking. Again I want to remind you that I came to this recipe because it sounded so fancy and professional but after cooking it I was amazed at how simple it actually was and then kind of felt ripped off. Not in a bad way mind you, just in that I thought it would have been more of a challenge. After I made it once, I whipped it up for the rest of the week. Which goes to show that when it comes to being a Common Chef, you can once again make your own dishes as simple or as complicated as you like.

So for this recipe I took a more traditional approach with its preparation. After mastering the fundamentals I then moved on to experimenting with different ingredients.

So to start things off you need:

Ingredients:

  • Boneless, skinless half chicken breasts (1-4 pounds)
  • Salt/pepper
  • Bacon,Ham,Prosciutto (your choice and sliced thinly)
  • Swiss,Gouda,Havarti,Provolone cheese (again your choice and grated or sliced)
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs (I used unseasoned)
  • ¼ cup fresh Parsley (minced)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil

      As I stated earlier the secret of this dish is the variations that one can choice when it comes to the main ingredients. First thing that pops in to my mind is that one may choose to marinate the chicken breasts. Be careful though as a highly acidic marinade may break down the meat too much.

      Once you have trimmed the fat off of the breast now its one of those times that we as men always look forward to when it comes to cooking. Its time to beat the meat….or tenderize the meat rather. Put the chicken breast between two pieces of wax paper or in a zip lock bag even and pound the breasts gently with a meat tenderizer or mallet (I used an empty wine bottle I had handy). Again don’t go all caveman crazy with this but make sure you give it a good whack!

      Once the breasts are about 3/8 inches thick remove from paper and season. After that take your choice of thinly sliced deli meat and cover only half of the chicken breast. Next take your choice of cheese weather sliced or grated and place on top the meat on the half of the chicken breast. Once that is done take and fold the uncovered half of the chicken breast over top the covered half and press the edges together to seal. Now for another cool man moment, take a sharp knife and cut a 1/8 inch slice along the folded edge of the chicken breast. This cut will keep the chicken folded together as it cooks.

      In a pan or shallow bowl mix together your breadcrumbs, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper. In another bowl mix together your egg and water, whisking them. On a large plate spread out your flour. Once this is done it time to get messy!

     Individually take each folded chicken breast and place both sides into the flour. Once both sides are covered to your liking, dip each one into the egg and water mixture and then finally into the breadcrumbs. Take time to make sure that the breadcrumbs stick to the breast and feel free to use your fingers to pat some more breadcrumbs on to those hard to reach places.

    In a heavy skillet melt down your 1.5 tablespoons of unsalted butter keeping a close eye on this as nothing is worse then burnt butter. Add in the Olive oil and mix thoroughly. Once the the skillet has come up in heat enough place the folded chicken breasts in to the skillet. Cook each Chicken breast about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Use tongs to hold them together as you turn them over.

      Keep this up until the breasts have browned to perfection and place on a dry paper towel when finally removing them from the skillet. Place it along with other vegetables or cover it with a nice sauce and you are ready to go!

      So there you have it, a really fun recipe especially for those common chefs that like to use gadgets in the kitchen. Again as you can see there can be endless variations to this meal just by changing up some key ingredients. Try a Asian marinated chicken, with some smoked provolone and an apple wood smoked bacon!

     I hope you enjoyed this recipe and remember to have fun with your cooking. Send me comments and your own variations to this recipe.

Till next time, Alex W. 

Alex’s 2nd place Teriyaki-Cilantro Marinade

OK, wow what a busy week. I am still recovering from the New Year, and adjusting to being the new face of The Common Chef. This week we are filming a great show with the help of Shane from Shane’s rib shack and in our planning for the show a challenge was issued by PC to all of us to come up with a marinade for some rib eye skewers!

Unfortunately I did not win but I vow to be the winner of the next challenge. So I figured that since this is my blog and my marinade came up second, I would give it you the view to try and tell me how you like it.

Before we get in to the recipe here are few quick tip when it comes to making your own marinade. Now according to my limited research, the process of marination

is simply soaking meat in a seasoned and acidic liquid. Many different marinades have come about over the years having a variety of herbs, oils and spices added in.

The key to a good marinade is finding the delicate balance of acidity, spices and other ingredients. If the marinade is to acidic it will cause the tissue of the meat to break down to much and the meat will end up mushy. With that said the different acidity of marinades mean that some marinades can take seconds while other days.

Some common acidic ingredients used in marinades are wine, vinegar, a variety of citrus juices.

Along with the acid, spices such as curry and cumin are a few of my favorites. Finally we have the addition of oils that add a lasting coating effect on the meat.

Also as a very important warning it is not advised to keep any marinades that have had any raw meat soaking in them around. Where as cooking raw meats will kill any nasty that maybe lingering in the meat, the marinades may still harbor a unwanted substances. If more then one marination is desired it is better to keep some aside for other meat or to make another batch.

Alright, lets get down to it! The marinade that I chose to do was a teriyaki,ginger, cilantro marinade. Warning if you are not a fan of cilantro this may be a little much for you but as I say, we are all common chefs so change it up as you see fit.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup onions (chopped)
  • 1 bottle of Teriyaki sauce
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp snipped fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup lime juice

Chop the cilantro up rather well and mix in at the very last part of the recipe and allow it to sit for a few minutes so that all the ingredients can mix. Add meat let sit for at least an hour.

Well give it a try and let me know how it turns out! Till next time enjoy!

 

Hot Button White Mushroom Soup!

Cooking has always been a hobby of mine and before I was a part of TCC, I frequently experimented with recipes that I found over the years. Over some time I have collected a small but delicious group of recipes. So I figured for my first few blogs here on the site I would rehash these great culinary works of art for you to enjoy!

One of the things that Chris and PC have stressed to me time and time again when coming on to the show is that they want everything to do with TCC to be unique and our own creation. Something that sets us apart from the rest of the pack so to speak. With that in mind I decided that my first blog post should be something that is different right off the block and what can be more different then a mildly spicy white button mushroom soup!

Here is the list of ingredients that I used for this awesome soup!

  • 1 pound white button mushrooms.
  • ½ cup chopped shallots.
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 4.5 cups of stock (I used chicken stock)
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dry red-pepper flakes
  • ½ to 1 cup milk or cream
  • 3.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup of chopped asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Again as a reminder the whole point of TCC is that we are all Common Chefs in the kitchen, and that means a lot of time just going with what you have not with what you need, so if you don’t have all of something put in a little extra of something else. Who knows you may create your own masterpiece. Also remember cooking should be fun and not taken to seriously.

OK down to the integrity! Make sure to wash off the mushrooms & asparagus thoroughly before proceeding as typically they have some residual dirt left on them from the store. To get a nice meaty consistency to the soup cut the mushrooms up in slices. Also remove any hard stems. Cut the asparagus tops off a quarter of the way down.

In soup pot heat up the olive oil, and the butter until melted. Then add the mushrooms, asparagus and shallots. Lets this cook for about 5 minutes constantly stirring so that you don’t burn any thing. Once the continence of the pot are nice and wilted add the sherry,thyme, and flour.

Bring the heat down to low and again stir the pot continuously for another 5 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot for all the cake on goodness of the mushrooms and shallots. Once that 5 minutes is up add in the stock of your choice, I used chicken stock that I made from a store bought paste. After that add in your salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil once again and then immediately reduce heat to medium allowing the soup to simmer for another 15 minutes or until it thickens up.

Now here is the point where I made the recipe my own. In the last 5 minutes of the cooking process I added the red-pepper flakes stirring them in for about a minute, and finally add the cream or milk for the last bit of time. I added the red-pepper and milk last as I was use to a more creamy soup and I though the flakes would lose some punch if I had added them in earlier.

Give it a few good stirs and let it set for a bit and it’s time to eat!

In the pic I garnished the soup with a piece of pita bread. Try it out and enjoy. I kicked it up a notch by adding a little red-pepper flakes.