Smoked Salmon, Bacon and Apples in a Steamer

This is a delightful way to smoke food without having to break out the smoker. I used a wok, smoker wood chips and a steamer. That’s right, I smoked fish in a wok. First you will need some great wood chips. At The Common Chef, we like Baxter’s Original Premium Smoker Wood. It’s all dried naturally, meaning that it is not processed. It retains all of the natural sugars this way. If you want great smoked flavor, go with Baxter’s Original.

What you will need:

2 apples
1 lb. of bacon
4 Potatoes
Jalapenos – I like a lot of hot flavors
Half of a large onion
As much garlic as you want
Olive Oil
And your creative touch

I’ve always loved using my bamboo steamer and in this case I thought it would be great to steam bacon, apples and salmon together. So I wrapped the entire wok with tinfoil and put pecan flavored wood chips in the bottom of the wok with about a cup of water. Then put the steamer over the top of the wok. Turn the heat up and the chips will start to smoke the food while it steams. The flavor is amazing and the kitchen will smell awesome.

I smoked/steamed the food for about 15 minutes and then I finished the bacon in the broiler for about 5 minutes to crisp it up and seal in the smoked flavor.

Just cut up the apples and put it all in the steamer.

Bamboo Steamer Diced Potatoes Before Final Plating

For a side dish, and this one of my new favorite things to make, I made a wonderful diced potato with onion, garlic and jalapeno. Dice up the potatoes fairly small because you want them to cook and crisp within 15 minutes under the broiler. Also dice up onions, garlic and jalapenos. Mix them all together in a bowl, add some olive oil and your favorite salty seasoning. I used Cajun salt and some pepper and also added some hot pepper vinegar. You do want to use a lot of olive oil or pepper sauce, just enough to coat everything in the bowl with a light glaze. The reason for this is because you want them to crisp up, if you add too much wet to it, then they’ll stay soggy. After you’ve coated the mixture spread it out over a cookie sheet and broil on high for 15 minutes. It is the absolute perfect side for a multitude of dishes.

I hope you try this and let me know what you think.



Spicy Mint Chopped Chicken with Ground Pork

This is a fairly healthy approach to ground meat of any kind. I steamed the ground pork and chicken in a bamboo steamer first, and then it was added it to the stir fry. The natural flavors of the ingredients take care of most of the tastiness in this dish as well. Though there were a few old faithful ingredients that were used in the stir fry base.

Ingredients for spicy mint chickenI like to use vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar for the base flavors in most of my stir fry dishes. This dish had those ingredients along with a bit of thai garlic chili sauce and some chili oil to get us started. I made this dish for 2 and a half people, or 2 adults and 1 child. The full list of ingredients needed is below:

3 ounces of Fish Sauce, a.k.a. Nampla
3 ounces of vinegar
5 ounces of soy sauce
5 ounces of sugar
A few dashes of stir fry oil or olive oil
Half an onion, 4 to 6 cloves of garlic
4 or so sprigs of fresh mint leaf
1 lb. of ground pork
1 lb. of chicken breast
2 Cayenne peppers or jalapenos or…
2 sweet red peppers
6 ounces of mushrooms

Mince everything. The mint, the garlic, the onion, cayenne, red peppers and even the breast of chicken.

Mint from our EasyPonix garden Garlic and Onion Bamboo Steamer

You can either use ground chicken or you can chop it down yourself. I prefer taking a breast, cleaning it and then chopping it down to a sausage myself. That way I know it is 100% chicken breast. Place the ground sausage and chicken into a bamboo steamer. I like to steam items like ground beef or pork so that most of the grease fat drops into the steam water. It really gives you a very lean meat. But I don’t steam it until it is all the way cooked. Maybe about 7 to 8 minutes once the water is boiling. That way it will still break apart easilty once you begin the stir fry. You can also add some salt and pepper to the meat before it steams if you like.

After the meat is steamed, let’s wok something! Put some oil in the bottom of the wok, I like chili oil but you can use olive oil. Not a lot though. We want this dish to be fairly dry at the end. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions and stir fry for about 3 minutes. Then add the cayenne and sweet peppers along with the mushrooms. Stir fry for about 2 more minutes and then add the soy, fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. Now add the steamed meat and the chili garlic. Last but not least, the mint leaves. I like to add a lot of mint leaves to this dish. The salty soy mixed with that chili garlic is addicting…but when you add a sweet mint to the mix….Shazzaaaam!

After all the ingredients are in the wok, stir fry for approximately 5 more minutes. If you prefer to add some more salt or spice…be my guest. You should add equal parts soy and sugar if you intend to add a bit more flavor. I could add half a jar of that thai chili paste! At the end you should have something that looks like this!


The Bacony-est Ham of All Time!

Bacon Wrapped HamThe Holidays are fast approaching and while not all of the good folks in our society indulge in ham recipes, this one is sure to delight those of us who love the scent of a perfectly cooked ham as the aroma wafts about the kitchen. We made this hame in Episode 7 of The Common Chef and it still remains one of our absolute favorite dishes of all time!

All of us do love to eat good food. Except those who go on a hunger strike. But for the most part it is safe to say that when a massive Holiday meal is being placed out our eyes begin to bulge and our mouths begin to tighten around the watering effect that starts to take place. A feast that brings good friends and family together is, perhaps, one of the most special occasions we have. It brings a generous amount of joy and laughter to those who we wish to make happy the most.

Here is a surefire recipe for ham that will bring a bacon lover to their knees. It’s a bacon stuffed, honey infused ham, wrapped with more bacon and topped with pineapple slices and coated with a pineapple, rum, honey, brown sugar glaze.

Here is what you’ll need:

1 large ham
1 pound of bacon
1 Pineapple
24 ounces of Rum (we used Captain Morgan)
30 ounces of honey
15 ounces of brown sugar

Place the ham on a large cooking sheet. The goal is the thread the ham with whole strips of thick cut bacon. Put your bacon in a bowl and cover it with 15 ounces of honey. Make sure the bacon is coated well with honey. Take a large chef knife and run it through a center point of the ham. The knife will act as a guide for threading the bacon through the center of the ham. We used a lard needle to bring the bacon through the ham; if you do not have a lard needle…you’ll have to make do with your fingers etc…

Repeat this process until you have managed to thread at least a half-pound of honey coated bacon strips through your ham.

Next, wrap the rest of the bacon around the top of the ham using toothpicks to hold it in place. Take pineapple slices and stick them onto the toothpicks, covering the bacon.

In a saucepan heat the rum, pineapple chunks, rest of the hone and brown sugar until the mixture is cohesive (30 minutes on a medium heat).

Baste the top of the ham/bacon/pineapples with this mixture. Put the ham in the oven to cook at 400 degrees for several hours. The amount of time will depend on the size of your ham. Every 30 to 40 minutes, take the ham out and continue to baste with the rum mixture. Continue to heat the rum mixture on a low heat the entire time you are baking the ham. Enjoy!

Bacon wrapped ham

The Most Unique Jambalaya Recipe Ever!

We’ve had more inquiries about the recipe from Episode 12 than any other episode. It appears that folks are very interested in our Jambalaya. So here it is.

We were cooking for a lot of people so you will have to consider that when you make your version.

  • 64oz Chicken Broth
  • 1 bottle Ecco Domani Pino Grigio
  • 1 pint Mississippi Mud Black & Tan
  • 6 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 Bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale
  • 2 lbs lamb sausage
  • 2 lbs. pork tenderloin
  • 2 lbs alligator tenderloin
  • ½ lb smoked pork belly
  • 2 lbs chicken breast
  • 1 ½ lbs fresh shrimp
  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 8 Jalapeño’s
  • 4 zucchini
  • 4 squash
  • 1 bunch celery
  • 1 bunch carrots
  • 1 each –  red, white and yellow onion
  • 3 bulbs of garlic
  • ½ pound each sweet red and yellow peppers
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 12 roma tomatoes
  • 1 bag of long grain rice
ep 12 screen Gator_Tenderloin Mmmmm_Mmmmm_good

In a large crock pot or turkey roaster set on medium, start off by putting in 32oz of chicken broth and vinegar to start heating up. Dice and add all the tomatoes then chop carrots and mince 2 bulb of garlic, add to mixture. Separate the corn kernels from the cob and add to pot. Chop and add jalapeños, zucchini, squash, celery and onions. Add ½ bottle of wine and entire pint of Mississippi Mud and 6 oz. Worcestershire sauce. Cook this for approximately 1.5 hours on a medium heat. This will make up the base flavors of the dish. You want the flavors to meld before adding the rice and meat, as they both will soak up the flavor when added.

Cut alligator tenderloin into bite size chunks and pan fry with the smoked pork belly, 1 clove of garlic and a few dashes of olive oil. Once the meat starts to crisp add the lamb sausage to the frying pan. Do not cook all the way, just enough to crisp up the outside of the meat. Once the sausage is cooked on the outside remove from pan, slice into pieces and add to the pot. Add the alligator tenderloin and reduced pork belly to the pot.

Add uncooked chicken and pork tenderloin to the base with the remaining wine and 4 bottles of Newcastle. Heat to almost a boil and add rice. Reduce heat to a low 200 degrees and let sit for 3 hours. Add shrimp 30 to 45 mins before serving.

We used some of our favorite seasonings along the way to help with the flavor. This is extremely important for the first part of the dish as the flavors are coming together. These seasoning may include fresh thyme, basil, oregano, Cajun spice, sugar (raw), chili powder, salt, ground pepper and your favorite seasonings. It’s difficult to say how much of each we used because we just cooked with them along the way.

Hope you have a wonderful afternoon and keep watching. Our next episode is going to be really aweseome


“The Land” Italian sausage fry

This dish was made from fresh herbs harvested from our aquaponics garden. The very same garden that we built in episode 10 of the show, “Here Fishie…Fishie…Fishie“. The fresh herbs did include some items that are growing in the ground at “The Land”, including the leaf spinach and the blueberries. We also used items that were simply fresh veggies from a local market.

Herbs – Spinach leaf, garlic chive, tarragon, thyme, rosemary, chocolate mint and apple mint
Seasonings – Turmeric, Salt and Pepper
Blueberries – 7 or 8
Tomatoes – 2
Red and Yellow sweet pepper – half of each
Portabella shrooms – small package
Onion – half
Garlic – 5 cloves
Zucchini – 1
2 or 3 small prairie fire peppers

Chop up the herbs and spinach leaves finely altogether. Mince the garlic. Chop the mushrooms, slice the zucchini, dice the onions and tomatoes and cut the peppers into slivers. Simply cut the blueberries in half.

Start off with the onions in a wok in a little bit of olive oil. Stir fry for about 4 minutes. Add some salt, pepper and the garlic. Fry for about 3 minutes and add the mushrooms and chili peppers. Stir fry the base mixture for a few more minutes then add some more salt, pepper and turmeric…maybe a table spoon. After another minute, add in the zucchini. Stir frequently for a few more minutes and then add the sweet peppers and chopped up herbs. Next add in the italian sausage. After the sausage starts to brown, add in the tomatoes. Finally, toward the end…add in those blueberries for natural sweetener.

This dish was very special. It had very little in the way of additional spices. The hot italian sausage brought some heat but the natural flavors from the herbs, veggies and even the blueberries was quite fantastic. It was a rewarding experience to incorporate items from the garden into our dish. This is going to become an addicting habit.

You Gotta Be Kidding Me…This Is Good Salmon

BestSalmonSalmon again? Yes. In my opinion, this is the best dish I have ever made. That may not be saying much. Seriously, when I watch shows like “Chopped” or anything on the Food Network it is obvious that most of those folks are culinary geniuses. But in my small corner of the world this dish had it all and it made me very proud. Though my sweet lady says that there are a few of my dishes she actually likes better. On top of that, I realize that the picture of this salmon is horrible. That is because of Porta Shots…dammit. Just bare with me through the description, you won’t be disappointed.

It all started the night before, not just the Porta Shots but the concept of this salmon. See, I’ve been wanting to utilize more Indian spices in my dishes. In particular Turmeric, solely due to the health benefits. Seriously, it could be the most useful and healthy spice in the history of mankind. Read about the benefits here. So, I picked some great Indian spices and started experimenting. Made some really great Mongolian Beef and the household agreed that it was worth making again. I’m not posting the blog for the Mongolian Beef because I’m going to make some adjustments next time. Bottom line, there was some Indian spices in the cupboard and they went to good use the next night.

So there we are, The Common Chefs making some plans for our next episode and drinking some water…uh I mean Porta Shots…with ice which is made from water. Then I stood up and said, “I’m going to amaze everyone right now”. Usually, when a statement like that comes out in a group setting, everyone assumes fart positions. But not in this case. I was seriously going to go in and make a dish that would be amazing. Here is what I done.


5 lb salmon fillet
2 apples
15 to 20 almonds
3 to 4 hot peppers
6 cloves of garlic
Half of a medium sized onion
Fresh sprigs of herbs – garlic chive, rosemary, basil, thyme
Spices – turmeric, garam masala, salt and pepper

Layout the fillet in a large piece of tinfoil. Then sprinkle a thin coat of turmeric over the entire face of the salmon. Make sure that it is covering all the salmon skin but not a thick coat. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper and garam masala. Next take chopped almonds and cover the spices with them. Cut the apples into small bite sized pieces, cover the fillet. Mince the garlic and onion and add them to the top of the fish. Lastly, add all the herbs and the minced hot peppers. Wrap the salmon very tightly sealed with the tinfoil and then take another huge sheet of foil and double wrap this salmon. This is crucial. You are going to want to seal in the moisture from all this yummy goodness. After you are confident that this fish is sealed tightly, put it on the grill on a very low setting…maybe 200 degrees. Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours.

When you open this dish up there are a few things you’ll notice. The natural juices of the salmon will have stayed inside the foil. The fish will be extremely moist. The apples, the garlic and the onions will have caramelized together. The almonds will not be mush, but they will be soft. The spices will have cooked directly into the outside flesh of the fish and resolved into the moisture at the bottom of the foil.

I made some mashed potatoes to serve with this dish and when one took a bite of the fish and potatoes together it was the most incredible pairing of flavors. This was Chris’ first salmon and it was Alex’s favorite salmon of all time, according to him. We did eat the heck out of it. I’ll make it again and get some better pictures next time.

PC’s Peppery ShaSizzleZam Stew

shazizlezam StewWe recently had the pleasure of shooting episode 11 with some local heroes at the Ocala Fire Rescue, Station #1. In every episode, us 3 chefs have a small competition to create the favorite dish for that episode. Well…this stew won for episode 11 – “The Burn” and once you read the recipe, you’ll understand why. It is a very textured and deliberately layered dish. Every bite had a nice peppery heat flavor but each bite also had a little something different to offer than the last. It was an addictive flavor. The firefighters asked us to bring the heat, so we did.

All the dishes were excellent. But alas, there must be a winner. We cooked for about 20 healthy appetites. You can break these portions down according to how large you want your stew to be.

PC’s Peppery ShaSizzleZam Stew

5 large rib-eye steaks
2 lbs. of hot Italian sausage
18 pieces of bacon
4 lbs. of potatoes
3 lbs. of carrots
1 huge onion or 2 large onions
1 Bulb of garlic
2 tomatoes
½ lb. of mushroom
3 cinnamon sticks
6 habanero peppers
8 red jalapenos
6 dried Thai chili peppers
6 oz. of honey
32 oz. of beef broth
12 oz. of goat cheese
5  squash
A medium bag of green beans

Bring 2 pounds of potatoes and 1.5 pounds of carrots to a boil in a large pot. After they have softened up use a food processor to puree both potatoes and carrots along with half of an onion, ¼ pound of mushrooms, several cloves of garlic, both tomatoes, 4 jalapenos and 4 habanero peppers. Once these items are pureed put the puree in a large crock pot or turkey roaster. Add 32 oz. of beef broth to the roaster. Put the roaster on 250 degrees.

Mince the remaining jalapenos, habaneros and Thai chili peppers. Add these to the roaster.

Chop the rest of the mushrooms, squash, green beans and onion to preferred bite sized pieces and add to roaster.

Mince the rest of the garlic and add to roaster.

Cut rest of potatoes and carrots into bite sized pieces and put in pot on the stove to boil. Once these are softened up add to the stew mix.

Cut the large pieces of fat off of the rib-eye steaks. Then cut steak into bite sized pieces. Cut hot Italian sausage into bite sized pieces.

Fry bacon in frying pan and set to the side for later.

After about an hour of the stew mixture breaking down the puree base at 250 degrees add 3 cinnamon sticks and add the steak and the hot Italian sausage.  Also add the honey and dried Thai chili. Stew at 250 degrees for another 3 hours. Stir often.

About a half hour before serving, add the bacon in bite sized pieces and add the goat cheese. Mix goat cheese thoroughly.

I seasoned this stew along the way with some of my favorite seasonings. There are plenty of flavors already so it won’t take a lot of seasonings. But some Cumin, ginger and a bit of a salty seasoning worked nicely.

The blend of the many unique flavors will give the stew a very complex layering effect. Each bite will have several distinct flavors but all of these flavors are brought together in a smooth creamy after taste. The firefighters loved it.

Baked Salmon With A Delicate Curry Vegetable Sauce

My sweetie asked me to make salmon again…so I did. I thought about the many ways to make salmon and decided on baked salmon. But I wanted some vegetables and thought about a sauce. The end result is some sort of fusion concept and extremely tasty. First step was to decide how to bake the salmon. Started off with…some salmon in a casserole dish, believe it or not. Then added some freshly squeezed orange juice with a few sliced onions. Picked some fresh rosemary from the garden and added a few light seasonings to the top of the salmon and a few itty bitty dashes of soy sauce. Added the rosemary and baked it. Here is a picture of the salmon before baking it. Already looks awesome.

Rosemary and Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice Salmon

Next I made a very delicate curry sauce and lightly stewed veggies. Squash, mushrooms, red and green peppers, some onions and garlic made the medley. The curry sauce was a combination of soy, fish sauce, pineapple infused vineger and a bit of sugar at the base and then added a bit of coconut milk and a teaspoon of red curry flavoring. Lightly seasoned but heavy in flavor.

After the salmon was done baking I poured a small ladle of that curry over the top of the salmon. She said, “You’re going to make me this again…SOON!” I said, “Only if you get lucky.”

Baked Salmon with Rosemary Vegetable Red Curry Baked Salmon with Curry Sauce


Mr. PC’s Pistachio Crusted Salmon

Baked Salmon with PistachioThis dish is a winner from the word go. When I started to create it, I knew it was going to blow people away. I had asparagus and cherry tomatoes on the side but of course, being that you are a Common Chef, you can have anything you like. I used a pound of salmon and it was more than enough for two of us. She was begging me to make it again soon.

Pistachio, almond or your favorite nut variety
Brown Sugar
Cherry Tomatoes
Pepper Jack Cheese
And for the side, some Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes

First grate the pepper jack cheese, mince the garlic and finely chop the nets down. Use as much or as little garlic as you wish. I like a lot of it. Mix the cheese, garlic and nuts in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil into it. You can add some salt if you like. Place the salmon on a non stick baking sheet. top it with a coat of brown sugar and a coat of honey. Then pack on the cheese, garlic and nuts. I nice thick coating of the mixture. I cut a few cherry tomatoes in half to give it some Shazaaam! Bake it at 420 degrees for about 20 minutes.

For the side dish, put some asparagus and some cut cherry tomatoes in a baking dish. Add soy, balsamic, seasonings and some butter. cook it in the oven about the same time and temperature as the fish. This is what you get!

PC’s reverse Shepherds Pie

Shepherds Pie with lamb and goat cheese
Mashed potatoes, ground lamb…topped with goat cheese

This dish is absolutely delicious. You’ll need a few simple ingredients.

1. Potatoes (for mashing them)
2. Ground Lamb
3. (Optional) You’ll need some sort of ingredients to fry up with the ground lamb – I used bella mushrooms, onions, garlic.
4. (Optional but recommended) Bacon
5. Goat Cheese

When I originally made this dish, I made fried potato patties out of the mashed potatoes. Then topped the patties with the lamb and goat cheese. However, in order to do such a thing you need to have cold mashed potatoes. I didn’t, so I just used mashed potatoes…which is still fabulous.

OK, first make some mashed taters. Then pan fry the lamb. When I pan fry something like this I always start with some onions and garlic at the base of the dish. In some olive oil fry up minced garlic and sliced onion for a few minutes. Add in some sliced mushrooms. After a few more minutes, add in the ground lamb. Season the lamb with your favorite seasonings to give it some salty flavor. You could simply use salt and pepper. I used cajun spice, soy sauce and some chili garlic. Doesn’t require much. I also cut up some fresh rosemary and fried it all together.

In a separate pan, fry up some bacon cubes. After the bacon is ready, drain it and pat down the bacon grease with some paper towels and then add the bacon into the mix at the very end. Stir it in. The bacon will soften up in the wet lamb mixture.

Get a plate, add the mashed potatoes, then a healthy scoop of lamb mix and top it with some goat cheese. You’ll never eat traditional Shepherds Pie again.