Sunday, July 15, 2012

Appetizer - Spring Rolls

Eating lunch out with the guys at work has introduced a lot of new flavors to my palette. Our office is situated on the outskirts of downtown Salt Lake City, and we are in the epicenter of two enclaves-- little "southeast Asia" and little Mexico. This means that most ethnic restaurants near the office are either Thai, Vietnamese or Mexican. These spring rolls are a favorite of mine, and when I first had them, I wondered if they forgot to cook them. Using thin rice paper, the rolls have no shame-- they show off their insides like a politician trying to win votes, except their only hidden secret is good taste.

If you're in SLC, some of the best restaurants for Vietnamese are: La Cai Noodle House, South China House, and Cafe Trang. Some great Thai places are: Thai Siam, Thai Basil, and Thai Delight. 

large sheet pan
something to weigh it down
9" pie or cake pan
tea towel, damp


1 pkg round rice paper
1 head green leaf lettuce
3 green onions, cut on the bias
1 cucumber, julienned
5 oz thin rice noodles
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 carrot, grated
3/4 cup thai basil or mint, chopped
3/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 pound extra firm tofu, drained

Tofu marinade:
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar


Drain the tofu, wrap in paper towels and press using a sheet pan, weighted with a large fruit can or something similar. Let press for 1 hour. Slice tofu into 1/2 inch sections and marinate 15 minutes per side. Slice into 1/2 inch sticks and flash fry in an oiled pan. Set aside to cool. Soak rice noodles in warm water for 10 minutes to soften, then boil in water and season with 1/4 cup soy sauce. Once cooked tender, drain, rinse and let cool. Mix green onions, cucumber, carrots, and herbs in a mixing bowl.

To assemble: Soak rice paper in hot water in pie or cake pan for 10 seconds. Evacuate to a plate and place a small tender leaf of lettuce, followed by a 1/4 cup of rice noodles, followed by a 1/4 cup of vegetable mix, and top with 2 pieces of Tofu. Roll burrito style, ensuring a taut fit. This can be accomplished by applying back pressure when rolling forward. Place on the sheet pan and cover with a moist tea towel. Serve immediately.

Yield: 16 rolls, 4-8 servings

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012 West Jordan Stampede Cookoff

Yesterday I was invited to judge the Stampede Cookoff! It was a great honor and a lot of fun. Having never judged a food contest, I was really nervous. I wanted to be fair and unbiased but it is very difficult to decide which food is best, when they are as diverse as chimichangas to smoked turkey breast. Having competed before, I know what it is like on the other side of the judging table-- waiting in anticipation with your stomach in knots hoping and praying that you do well. I can tell you on the judging side, your stomach is in knots and you are hoping and praying that you make the right decision. You are assigned to literally tear apart the dish, ensuring that it cooked evenly, has a pleasant aroma, is visually stunning, and most importantly, tastes delicious. If I were to offer advice for competitors it would be this: avoid foods that cause common allergies like nuts and shrimp, shy away from foods that are not widely liked (not everyone loves mushrooms), make your presentation visually stunning, stay away from meats that dry out easily (pork roasts and poultry breast) unless you can ensure they will stay moist, and have fun cooking!

Alright, now to explain to my loyal reader why I haven't posted since April. Life's been very busy doing a remodel in preparation for our third child. I am tapping away on my smartphone waiting in the hospital hoping she will come soon. And yes, the remodel is nearly done-- as soon as the carpet guy comes on Monday. I think we'll see some posts coming soon, I've still got to deconstruct a PB&J and now a Hamburger.

Live Right | Eat Well.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dutch Oven - Restaurant Yellow Curry

One of my favorite foods is Thai yellow curry; Missla and I will find good local Ma & Pa hole-in-the-wall restaurants and she'll order one of her many mainstays off the menu, but I always stick to the curries- Yellow, Red, Massaman. There's something about a curry that excites me. Maybe its the spice, maybe the variety of flavors, or maybe its because its such a simple meal-- just a sauce that is served over rice with meat and veggies. Yet curry somehow transcends its simplicity and becomes more than food. Curry just wants to be loved, and one thing is for sure, I love my curry. This recipe is my latest attempt to get restaurant quality curry at home. And it is close. If you want to take it over the top, add a teaspoon of sugar and don't use curry powder, use prepared curry paste. The best curry is in the curry spice. Garbage in-- well, I think you know the rest.

Served with white rice. To shape the rice into discs, mold it into a 1/2 cup measuring cup.

12" Dutch oven
12-15 coals below
15-18 coals above

4 large russet potatoes
4-6 chicken tenders, sliced across the grain
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
dash garlic powder
dash ginger
1 can coconut milk
1 cup milk
salt & pepper, to taste
3 large carrots, sliced on the bias
1/2 onion, quartered and sliced
3-4 green onions, sliced
canola oil
white rice, steamed

Brown chicken in oiled dutch oven, adding curry, garlic powder and ginger. Add vegetables and stir well. Add coconut milk, milk and let boil. Add top coals and bake for 30 minutes. When potatoes are tender, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over steamed white rice.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Dutch Oven - One Pot Pork Chops

Hello again, Internet. It's been a while. It seems I've been very busy all week and left the cooking on the weekends simple. I decided I wanted to cook something up nice today outside, and it was snowing today in Salt Lake. It hit me in the shower- I would create a bed of vegetables and lay pork chops on top for an easy one pot dinner.

I prepped the entire pot before lighting coals, so in theory, you could prep your vegetables at home and take them to camp precut in zip top bags. I cubed potatoes, onions; chopped green onions and carrots, and used presliced mushrooms. Basically dumping them into a well oiled dutch oven, seasoning the vegetables and topping them with a little oil and my favorite prepared sauce, then placing pork chops on top in a single layer. I seasoned them and then lidded the pot and put in on heat. Easy peasy.

For something that was so simple to make, it tasted really great. The spice on the vegetables was simple and flavorful. This truly was chuck wagon cooking! I've been lacking the desire to push the envelope and make really complicated meals with lots of dishes and steps, because I've been so busy lately. I think I got burned out trying to push the envelope so far, that I forgot why I started this blog-- to have fun! So for the next little while, expect simple meals that don't require many steps or fancy things. It will still taste good though.

12" dutch oven

  •  4 large russet potatoes, cubed
  • 1 onion, cubed
  • 3 green onions, diced
  • 4 large carrots, julienned
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • Alabama barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • ground black pepper
  • kosher salt
  • seasoned salt
  • garlic powder
  • 5 bone in pork chops
  • 1/4 cup water
Prep vegetables and place in the bottom of an oiled 12" dutch oven. Drizzle with oil and coat with spices to taste. If desired, add 1/4 cup water to bottom of oven to aid in steaming. Drizzle with Alabama barbecue sauce (a white barbecue sauce) or your favorite sauce. Place pork chops on top of vegetables in a single layer making sure none are overlapping. Arrange to get a good cover over the vegetables with few holes as this will help the vegetables steam. Place lid on oven and add about 10 coals on the bottom and 15 on the top. This will help brown the pork chops. Broast for an hour, rotating the lid and bottom half way.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dutch Oven - Chicken Ticca Masala

Tonight we took a culinary trip to India but we didn't leave our back porch. Having tasted Indian food a few months ago at a restaurant, I wanted to bring the flavors of India home. This curry is easy to make, but has quite a few spices in it-- some I presume you don't have in your spice cupboard. Garam Masala can be easily made at home with this recipe.

This turned out tasty, but it wasn't the spicy flavorful dish I had at the restaurant. Not bad for a first try though! With the tomatoes, I would use much less water than is below. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup at most. Even letting it reduce it was very soupy. I prefer a slightly thicker sauce. Also the spices were milder that I like, so I would probably double them. All in all it was tasty and the flavors were layered and subtle. I'll enjoy eating leftovers for lunch Monday.

12" dutch oven

  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup ginger root, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro, chopped
  • long grain rice, steamed
Heat olive oil in 12" dutch oven. Brown onions in dutch oven and add ginger and garlic. Add spices and blend well. Add tomatoes and water. Bring to a boil and add yogurt and chicken. When chicken is cooked, add salt to taste and reduce liquids by half. Serve over long grain rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Bread - Indian Garlic Naan

A few months ago, my wife and I had Indian food for the first time. We ate at this little strip-mall restaurant nearby. The server asked what we were ordering, and after we ordered (I had Chicken Ticca Masala) she asked if we would like some Naan with our dinner. Having never had Indian food, I wanted the whole experience, so we said yes and had what has to be the best bread I've ever had... until now.

Naan is typically served with Indian dishes like curries and tandoor cooked meats.

Since I don't have a tandoor on my back porch (I just have a glass door... tut tut tut), this is not 100% true to the source bonafide Naan. It is still Naan and still very very tasty. In order to replicate the intense dry heat of a tandoor, I placed a large heap of coals on my patio surrounding a dutch oven lid stand (3 bricks could be used, arranged radially) and placed a 12" dutch oven lid upside down on the lid stand. If I had a big gas stove, I would put the lid on the stove burner and crank it to high.

A few tips I learned-- The lid needs to be very very very hot, so I'd almost start a chimney just for the lid. I had about 12 coals for the lid and it started to cool down too much. I pulled some coals from my main dish and it worked out okay. The other thing, is that the Naan needs to be rolled very very very thin. The intense heat makes the bread rise a lot, so a dough that is 1/8 inch will rise to 1/2 inch really quick. Only do one Naan at a time, since the lid will stay hot better. When turning the bread, put it on new real estate so it stays scorching hot. I turned them with my hands, and got burned a few times. You might want a spatula that handles high heat.

12" dutch oven lid
lid stand

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4  cups bread flour
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced


Mix yeast and warm water to activate yeast in a non reactive container. Mix sugar, milk, egg, and salt and beat with whisk. Add 3 cups flour and mix to a soft dough with a wooden spoon. Fill a 1 cup measuring cup with flour and toss half on a table. Knead until dough begins to become slightly more stiff than soft. This is the glutens dissolving. Don't knead to a windowpane as in other yeast breads. Kneading should only take 8 to 10 minutes. Stretch skin tight, form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm spot. Let raise for an hour. Preheat a dutch oven lid suspended over hot coals with a lid stand. Punch down the dough and pull into a small balls, roll very flat with a greased rolling pin and top with garlic. Press the garlic into the dough and transfer to the hot lid garlic side down. Only cook one Naan at a time. Turn when the dough stops bubbling. Cook until browned on opposite side. Serve with melted butter.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lodge's Cast Iron Grilled Steak with Blue Cheese Butter

Last week I won Lodge Manufacturing's Facebook giveaway for most unique breakfast--Aebleskivers. The prize was a copy of the book, "The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook", which hits store shelves today. I'll do a few more recipes and give a more in depth review soon.

Tonight Missla was busy with our congregation's women's organization, so she and the kids ate before I got home. When I got home from work, I received a kiss and she ran out the door. No worries! It gives me the chance to cook up some steaks using the recipe on page 127 of the cookbook, Cast Iron Grilled Steak with Blue Cheese Butter.

The method is to preheat your oven and then get the cast iron piping hot. Sear the steaks for 2 minutes per side, (and I found that if you move the steak to new real estate when flipping you get a better sear) then finishing in the oven for 2-4 minutes. This is how they cook steaks in fancy restaurants, and it delivers the perfect balance of tender juicy meat on the inside, and tasty sear marks on the outside.

Even with my poor quality steaks that had been frozen, it still was the best steak I've had from my own kitchen. I'm going to quit grilling them on propane and use cast iron. The Blue Cheese Butter was a nice touch, and even though I had only about an ounce of blue cheese, the flavor still balanced out well. I'm going to try it again with all 4 ounces of blue cheese. Adding a baked potato lightly touched with some Blue Cheese Butter and a salad with some of the leftover blue cheese dressing rounded out the meal.

If you want the recipe, run out to the nearest book retailer and grab a copy of The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook. I highly recommend it!

Disclosure: Aside from winning the cookbook from Lodge, I received no compensation for this post.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Appetizer - Super Bowl Wings

Yes, sports fans! It's that time of year again, and we're here a day late to share with you how to make a great dish to bring to your buddy's Super Bowl party. So unless you drive a Delorien, I recommend you bookmark this page for next year. If you happen to be from the future reading this archived post, please know that this will be a great addition to any gathering, especially a Super Bowl party. Please, future email me and let me know if football is played in a battledome with robot gladiators and humans secretly plotting an uprising. Go human beings!

Uber-nerdy post-apocalyptic distopic robot fantasies aside*, these wings are really good. And yes, the simplicity of the dredge is what makes them so. Coat them well in dredge, on all sides and you'll get a good crispy crust. Science dictates that the crispy crust is going to try to dissolve when you toss them in sauce, so make sure that oil is spitting hot and coat well. Also, don't fry partially frozen wings. They won't cook evenly, the dredge will either burn or won't stick and you won't be pleasing your robot overlords, or guests, as the case may be.

Deep fryer or Large pot

10 minutes prep
10-20 minutes cook time
Serves 4-6


  • 2 quarts canola or peanut oil
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, thawed
The Dredge:
  • 1-2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
The Toss Sauce:
The Serve & Garnish:

Heat the oil until it spits when a light flick of water is applied. Mix the dredge, and toss the chicken in it. Spoon the wings in the hot oil and cook until crust is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through. Remove wings and place in a tossing bowl. Heat the hot sauce and butter until combined and butter melts. Stir to create a combined emulsion. Drizzle the sauce over the cooked wings and toss in the bowl. Let rest 3 minutes and toss again. Serve with blue cheese dressing and celery.

*Just try saying that 10 times fast.

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Dressing - Blue Cheese Dressing

My favorite part of late winter is watching football while devouring some good eats. Serve this up with some hot wings and you've got yourself some really good food. This recipe is adapted from a family secret recipe and with some major tweaking of my own.

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon liberal shakes salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
Mix liquid ingredients in mixing bowl. Add cheese and spices. Mix well and age overnight in the refrigerator. Serve with hot wings, on salad or topping burgers.

5 Stars

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I see a lot of good things coming...

Sorry for the lack of recipes! Don't worry, we've got plenty of meat and potatoes coming in the pipeline, we've just been so busy! (And out of both charcoal and propane? Seriously, how does that happen around here?)

Last week I entered Lodge's giveaway on Facebook for the most unique breakfast with my family Aebleskiver recipe, and won the contest! Today my prize arrived, a copy of their new cookbook, "The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook". I drooled as I turned the pages... so many new recipes to try! I see a lot of good cooking in the near future!

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What the Pho?

Special Pho Noodle Soup, Rice Fusion Cuisine, Salt Lake City, UT

What is Pho? First, I want make sure you all know the correct pronunciation. It is not "foo", or "foh". It is fuh, as in the F-bomb. Pho is a Vietnamese rice noodle soup that comes in a variety of flavors.

Pho is prepared by boiling beef bones on high for 10 minutes, draining and rinsing the foamy water, then fill a large stock pot with water, add the beef bones, various spices, and slowly simmer for 6-8 hours. Then cook rice noodles, place in a Olympic size bowl, then place thinly sliced raw meat on the noodles, add cilantro and other garnishes, then spoon the hot broth over the noodles, cooking the meat.

A proper Pho should come to your table with medium rare meat. If it has already cooked to well done, it sat in the kitchen for 30 seconds too long. To eat Pho, place the bean sprouts in the bowl, squeeze the lime juice in and drop the lime rind in the bowl. The big leafy stick that is on the plate is fresh anise. This is what they make black licorice out of, but don't let that get you down. Anise has a good flavor when added to Pho. I like my Pho with Sriracha (rooster brand) sauce and hoisin sauce, or "brown sauce". The Sriracha gives it a kick, the hoisin, a savory sweet nuance of flavor. I also like adding chili garlic paste if available. Some restaurants use a cheap cut of beef for Pho and that is ok, but make sure it comes to your table still medium rare. Well done and it will taste like dried pot roast. I enjoy scooping out noodles with my chopsticks, slurping them up, and alternating with dips into the broth with the spoon.

Pho is one of my favorite foods, and if you haven't tried it yet, go grab some friends and find a "hole in the wall" Vietnamese restaurant. Many places have the word "Pho" in their name, and if they do, they probably specialize in it. These small family owned restaurants are some of the best. Sound off in the comments-- what do you like about Pho?

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Night to Remember: Market Street Broiler

Friday night my wife and I went out to eat at Market Street Broiler, 260 S 1300 E Salt Lake City. The likes of which I am not affluent enough to sustain a long term relationship with, but we had a gift card. I don't think the English lexicon, or any language has a word powerful enough to describe the flavors we experienced. Knowing this opportunity comes once in a great Bluepoint oyster moon, I decided to create a menu that would enable me to taste as many flavors as possible.

Course #1. Raw oysters.
Understand first that I've never eaten raw shellfish before. And my upbringing was heavily influenced by my sweet mother that invited us to always try new things. I decided to try both Bluepoint oysters (Chesapeake Bay) and Kumamoto oysters (California). Having never eaten them, I tried them purist style-- without any accoutrements. Kumamoto was first. My first bite was a bit too salty (I didn't drain the seawater) but then rendered into a a creamy, buttery flavor that was not too chewy and didn't feel slimy. It was soft and like butter. Cleansing my palette, it was time for the Bluepoint. Learning my lesson, I ditched the seawater and tasted a lightly salty, creamy texture, very savory with a hint of buttery kick. I fell in love. Literally, as I am writing this, drool is running down my chin anticipating my next oyster hit. I think next time, I'm only going to lightly top them with a hint of lemon juice. I tried the vinegar and horseradish, and avoided the cocktail sauce-- I might as well have put ketchup on them. Must. Have. Oysters.

Course #2. Clam Chowder
With the server lightly topping my soup with cracked black pepper, this creamy soup really delivered a knock out to my taste buds. Lightly salty, but only from the clams themselves, the flavor of the chewy (but not in a bad way) clams complements the new potatoes and thick creamy base. Its simplicity was perfect, a hearty soup with just enough clams and potatoes to round it out. I should have gotten a take home jar.

Course #3. Surf &; Turf
A New York prime strip (6 oz) and half an Australian lobster tail. I like my steak medium rare, and the server didn't ask about sauce, but it really didn't need anything. It cut like butter and was juicy and tender. Being the best steak I've ever (and may ever) had, was lightly seasoned with just salt and pepper (and therefore perfect). When I saw half a lobster tail on the menu, I thought I'd be eating small food, and I don't know what those Aussies are feeding their lobsters, but it was quite a lot of meat. It appeared to be steamed, and the meat separated from the exoskeleton well. Dressed with simply melted butter, the light, almost popcorn like meat melted in my mouth. Usually, when you get a good entree, the sides leave something to be desired. Not so. The surf & turf was served with a mountain of onion straws and buttered buttered green beans. These beans were perfect! Stabbing them in the middle, they slid into your mouth and were not too crunchy or too soft. It's hard to describe, but it was delicious! I really liked the onions straws, probably because their garlicky corn based coating reminded me of Funion chips. That's not a bad thing. I almost ate them all.

We didn't leave much room for dessert, but decided to take some back to my folks to thank them for watching our kids. Dad got a raspberry almond torte, and Mom got a key lime pie. They looked amazing.

I highly recommend any SLC local to Market Street. It's a bit pricey, but reasonable for the quality of the food. How often can you have lobster in Utah that was swimming in Australia yesterday?

Back Porch Gourmet | Live Right. Eat Well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Salad - Apple Jicama Coleslaw

Knowing that I had to make good on my "weird vegetable challenge", I did a little more research on the 'Tube and came up with this coleslaw recipe. Adapted from this video, I modded it a bit by not adding as much hot sauce, and adding cilantro to the dressing. Personally, I don't like coleslaw, but it's probably the soupy, wet cabbage that you get at a certain chicken restaurant chain, and I really liked the crisp vegetables. The apple and jicama added a sweet flavor as well that replaced the need for added sugar. I guess the challenge was a success after all-- I tried and liked something I didn't like before, and I learned to cook with a new food, which I love!

20 minutes
8+ Servings


  • 1/2 large red cabbage, julienned
  • 2 fuji or gala apples, julienned
  • 1/2 jicama, julienned
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cholula hot sauce, original flavor

Julienne vegetables and apples and place in a large salad tossing bowl. Add dressing ingredients to a food process and process until liquefied and cilantro is in small chunks. Dressing should be a light green color. Toss vegetables with dressing and let rest 5 minutes. Retoss and serve immediately.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Barbecue - Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork

Wow. Talk about a busy day. I had decided I was going to smoke a pork roast, bake sourdough rolls, slow cook Boston baked beans in the dutch oven and squeeze in a few errands. As is true of all good things in life, the best things are worth the wait. Tonight's pulled pork was no exception. Missla and I had invited over our friends and I wanted to create a meal to impress, so I figured bread that took 2 weeks to prepare, and a meal that takes 8 hours of cooking would fit the bill. Well, my rolls ended up being sourdough cookies, and they weren't sour at all. So instead, we grabbed some dinner rolls at the last minute and it all worked out great. Next time, I'll leave the baking up to the trained masters at my local bakery. The pork was very tender and didn't need much sauce, but the recipe below is pretty good, and we also used some leftover Alabama barbecue sauce from the pork chops earlier. I actually liked it a lot on the pulled pork. It gave a nice savory flavor to the meat and the zing from the apple cider vinegar was a nice complement.


Low heat
Indirect cooking
6 hours
8 Servings

  • Boston butt pork roast, untrimmed
  • Chipotle seasoning rub (commercial)
  • Apple juice (for the drip pan)
Rub the meat with the seasoning rub until well coated. Set up a kettle grill for indirect heating by placing a foil roasting pan (drip pan) in the center of the grill bottom and add apple juice until half full. Add hot coals to the sides of the drip pan and add soaked hickory wood chips. Replace the grill grate and add the meat above the drip pan. Smoke for 6 hours, replacing charcoal and wood chips often. Remove meat from grill and let rest. Pull meat apart with forks and serve with your favorite sauce.

Mustard Sauce
  • 1 part mustard
  • 1 part dill pickle juice
  • Cholula hot sauce to taste
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Mix in a squeeze bottle and let age in the refrigerator 1-2 hours.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Tale of Two Dishes

Happy 250th Post!

"It was the best of meals, it was the worst of meals..."

A few weeks ago I put forth another cooking challenge. Naturally, I went to the store, picked my ingredients and made possibly what could be the worst meal in Back Porch Gourmet history. As it turns out, eggplant, jicama and rutabaga don't go well together. I'm not going to post the recipe, but I'll detail what happened.

In the store, I found some large eggplants and figured I'd make some ratatouille. Having never eaten eggplant or ratatouille, I knew it required tomato, but didn't check any other ingredients. So I added a bag of roma tomatoes to my basket. Then I saw the jicama and thought I'd make a salad to go with it or something. Again, I've never eaten jicama before, so it was all new to me. Finally, I grabbed a rutabaga, and figured I'd put it in my ratatouille. We got some onions, and some stew beef meat-- I thought it would be an interesting change to add meat to a traditional vegetarian dish.

That night I brought it all together. I seared the eggplant in my shallow Ikea Favorit grill pan, carmelized the onions, browned the beef, sauteed the vegetables, and reduced the tomatoes into a sauce. I put all the ingredients into a casserole and topped it with the tomato sauce and baked it for half an hour. It looked really good. Unfortunately, it tasted terrible. Some vegetables were still cold and uncooked, some were burned, and it didn't seem to go well together at all. We threw it all out.

Then last night, we were at the store for their case-lot sale, and they didn't have what we needed in stock, so we just got a raincheck. We were hungry, so naturally, we went to the butchers and got some pork loin end chops with the most amazing fat marbling I've ever seen. Then we went to produce and got some fresh green beans (my 2 year old daughter loves them more than candy) and hit the bakery and got a loaf of french bread.

Once we got home, I seasoned the pork with a pinch of kosher salt, ground black pepper and a dash of garlic salt. I seared them in the Ikea grill pan. While the pork was cooking, I made some Alabama barbecue sauce, a white mayonnaise based sauce that complements pork quite well. Once they were cooked to medium-rare, I basted them with Alabama barbecue sauce on both sides. Then I removed the chops from the pan, added some more olive oil, and skillet-grilled the green beans. Served with french bread on the side and a dash of olive oil in a little bowl, this was one of the best meals I've cooked in a long time.

So why the opposite effect for two meals, using the same pan separated by a week? For one, the eggplant disaster was amplified by the fact that I've never cooked with those vegetables before. I think a big part of it is that I didn't Keep It Simple Stupid! Lately I've been trying to one-up myself with each dish that I've lost track of the point of why I started this blog-- to have fun! I didn't have fun making and eating the eggplant disaster, but the chops were quite fun to make and eat! The eggplant disaster also tanked because I had no plan whatsoever, and didn't really care how it turned out. I've been making it too complicated, so I'm going to try to go back to basics. Without further ado, here is the recipe for the Alabama Barbecue Pork Chops:

Alabama Barbecue Pork Chops
Cast Iron Grill Pan
Medium Heat
45 minutes
4 Servings

  • 4 pork loin end chops
  • dash kosher salt
  • dash ground black pepper
  • dash garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Alabama barbecue sauce
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 pound fresh green beans
Season pork chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Preheat grill pan and add dash olive oil. Sear on medium high heat in preheated grill pan. Turn and rotate to make nice sear marks until cooked to medium-rare. Baste both sides with Alabama barbecue sauce and cook for 5-7 more minutes per side. Remove chops from pan, add more olive oil and sear green beans long enough to make them soft but still crunchy. Serve with french bread.

5 Stars

Alabama Barbecue Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix ingredients together well until all lumps are removed. Store in refrigerator for up to a month.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!