Barbecue Pork and Mushrooms

September is National Mushroom Month and in celebration of it, on Tuesday is starting its  “Mushroom Masters: A Tournament of Taste” – a monthlong blogger recipe competition with a mushroom twist.

For four weeks, bloggers from the U.S., Canada and Australia will compete against each other in categories such as the Portabella Playoff, Button Battle and Shiitake Showdown. Recipe photos will be posted on TasteSpotting beginning Tuesday, and fans will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite photo on a weekly basis.

To get into the swing of things, check out the following recipe from the Mushroom Council, which can be on the table in about an hour. It would make a great addition to any outdoor get-together or family outing.

Quick and Easy Barbecue Pork and Mushrooms
1 whole pork tenderloin, trimmed (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon barbeque sauce, honey-smoked
2 Portabella mushroom caps, sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, mesquite
Pre-heat grill to 350 degrees. Place pork on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Rub the barbecue sauce on the pork. Spread the mushroom strips around the pork and drizzle oil over the pork and mushrooms. Sprinkle the grill seasoning over the mushrooms.
Fold the sides and ends of the foil up and crimp to seal. Place pork packet on the grill, close cover. Let the pork cook 45 minutes, remove from the grill and let rest 15 minutes. Carefully unwrap the foil and remove the pork.
Cut into 4 sections. With 2 forks, shred the pork. Mix the shredded pork with some of the remaining juices from the foil to moisten.
Top with the mushrooms and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 190 calories, 6 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, no trans), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 340 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich

I just love it when people stop me and want to share a cooking experience. Just this morning, a co-worker of mine, LoAnn Stadstad, called me aside as I was  leaving the building to tell me about her recent experience with eggplant.

LoAnn said she had an eggplant that was starting to get soft and was wondering want she could fix. She happened to be watching chef Bobby Flay on TV, and guess what? He was preparing something with eggplant — a sandwich with roasted  red peppers. LoAnn proceeded to tell me about the episode and how she fixed her delicious sandwich.

One of the reasons I’m so happy she told me about the recipe is that we have three eggplants in the refrigerator vegetable crisper that were harvested from our garden just the other day. I also have some sweet red bell peppers that are ready to be picked, so getting the recipe was timely.

Here it is for those who are interested. I’ve always been a big fan of Bobby Flay and can’t wait to try the sandwich.

Grilled Eggplant Sandwich
½ cup prepared mayonnaise
4 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium eggplant, sliced crosswise
Canola oil
2 red bell peppers
1 loaf ciabatta, sliced lengthwise in half
½ pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves
Baby arugula
Combine the mayonnaise and garlic in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Heat a grill to high.
Brush the eggplant on both sides with oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until golden brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Brush the peppers with oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill until charred on all sides, remove, place in a bowl, cover and let steam for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and the seeds.
Put bread on the grill, cut side down, and grill for 30 seconds to warm through and crisp slightly. Spread the bread with the mayonnaise mixture and top the bottom half with eggplant, peppers, cheese, basil and arugula. Cover with the top of the bread and serve.

Okra Bean Stew

Every once in a while, people should take time to go through their recipes. I did that the other day and came across one that contained several ingredients just happen to be in their prime in my garden.

I put together a “stew” that contained okra, tomatoes, bell peppers and onions that were begging to be part of something delicious. When combined with brown rice, kidney beans and tomato sauce, it made a dish that not only is nutritious but tasty.

I found it to be much like a thick tomato-based soup with a hearty mix of okra, brown rice and beans. Both Therese and I left the table satisfied about eating a bowl of the stew.

Okra Bean Stew
4 cups water
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1½ cups chopped green peppers
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
¾ teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
4 cups cooked brown rice
2 16-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 16-ounce package frozen sliced okra
In a large Dutch oven or soup kettle, combine the first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Add the rice, beans, tomato sauce and okra. Simmer, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.
Yield: Serves 11.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 1½-cup serving: 198 calories, 1 gram fat (trace saturated), no cholesterol, 926 milligrams sodium, 41 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 8 grams protein.

Emeril’s Bam Burger

Perhaps my favorite Food Network show over years was “Emeril Live,” which starred celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. I just loved it when he would say, “Let’s kick it up a notch.”

Emeril is the latest food expert to lend his hand to The Associated Press’ “20 Burgers of Summer” series. And according the AP Food Editor J.M Hirsch, Lagasse had lived up to the catchphrase “Bam” with his “seriously over-the-top ½-pound burger of prime ground chuck topped with a round of fried fresh mozzarella cheese and drizzled with chipotle, tomato and lime aioli.”

In an e-mail interview with Hirsch, Lagasse said,  “I wanted a balance of texture and flavor in achieving one of the ultimate comfort foods. I loved the idea of combining a rich fried cheese with prime chuck and the spicy aioli.”

Lagasse has been thinking a lot about burgers lately, Hirsch said. In December he opened his Burgers And More (BAM) restaurant in Bethlehem, Pa. The menu features three high-flavor burgers, including one that sports grass-fed beef with andouille sausage, pepper jack cheese and spicy mustard.

And soon there may be a fourth. Lagasse is considering adding the Bam  burger with chipotle, tomato and lime aioli he created for The Associated Press.

Chipotle, Tomato and Lime Aioli
½ cup mayonnaise
1 canned chipotle pepper with adobe sauce, seeds removed
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
In a blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Yield: ½ cup.

Fried Mozzarella Rounds
¼ cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
½ pound ball fresh mozzarella, cut into four ¼-inch slices
1 cup olive oil
Place the flour in a wide, shallow bowl. In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Place the panko in a third wide, shallow bowl.
One at a time, dredge each slice of cheese through the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg mixture, coating thoroughly. Place the slices into the panko and coat evenly on both sides. Pass each slice through the egg mixture a second time, then again through the panko.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Arrange the cheese slices on it, then placein the freezer for 20 minutes.
In a medium saute pan over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the breaded cheese slices, in batches if necessary, and fry each for about 2½ minutes on the first side, then 1½ minutes on the second side. Move the cheese slices to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
Yield: 4 slices.

Bam Burger with Chipotle, Tomato and Lime Aioli
2 pounds prime ground chuck
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 onion poppy rolls or large sesame-seed hamburger rolls, lightly toasted
1 beefsteak tomato, cut into four ¼-inch slices
4 fried mozzarella rounds
1 cup packed arugula leaves
4 tablespoons chipotle, tomato and lime aioli
In a large bowl, season the meat with the salt and pepper. Gently form into four 8-ounce patties, being careful not to overwork it. Cover the patties and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
Heat a grill to medium, Lightly oil the grates.
Grill the patties for 8 minutes, then flip them and grill for another 7 to 8 minutes for medium-rare to medium, or until the burgers are cooked to desired doneness.
Place a burger on the bottom of each of the 4 toasted buns, place a tomato slice on top of the burger, then a slice of fried mozzarella and ¼ cup of the arugula. Dress the top bun with 1 tablespoon of the aioli and place the bun on top.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 1,158 calories, 517 calories from fat, 57 grams fat (12 grams saturated, no trans), 300 milligrams cholesterol, 79 grams carbohydrates, 83 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, 2,048 milligrams sodium.

Cajun Ribs

I’m hitting the road today. Along with an old friend and co-worker, Ryan Bakken, I’m going to help judge Johnny Bravoz’s Rib Fest in Oslo, Minn. I’m really looking forward to the experience.

If it hadn’t been for the invitation to help judge from John Kirkeby, one of the event’s organizers, I might be in Walker, Minn., attending the Cajun Fest at the casino. A couple of my friends said they stopped by the casino last night, and the place was jam-packed. Along with the music and other festivities, the event features a lot of food.

Jambalaya and gumbo usually come to mind when most people think about Cajun food. But  barbecued ribs wouldn’t be out of place. In fact, my friends said barbecued spareribs were on the menu in Walker.

For those of you who won’t get a chance to attend either the Oslo or Walker events, here’s a recipe for ribs with a Cajun twist you can try on the grill at home. It employs a rub that’s made up of several herbs and spices and looks mighty tasty.

Cajun Dry-Rubbed Barbecue Spare Ribs
3 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon dried coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 to 8 pounds spareribs, cut into smaller racks
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a gallon-size plastic food bag, combine all the spices and shake until blended. Drop the ribs into the bag and shake until well coated. Remove ribs to a cutting board and rub the mixture thoroughly over them, pressing it with your fingers. Arrange the ribs in a large, shallow roasting pan and roast, uncovered, til very tender, about 2 hours, basting occasionally with fat from the pan. Cut into serving portions.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 613 calories, 76 percent of calories from fat, 51.2 grams fat (16.4 grams saturated, 18.5 grams monounsaturated), 173 milligrams cholesterol, 34.2 grams protein, 2.8 grams carbohydrates, 1.8 grams fiber, 564.4 milligrams sodium.

Smoked Chicken Rigatoni

The smoked chickens I buy by the case from the Hutterites at the Forest River (N.D.) Colony are some of the finest-tasting fowl around. All I have to do is pop a frozen one in the oven inside my Dutch oven and cook it for about three hours at 325 degrees, and the feasting begins. Sometimes, I’ll set the temperature at 275 and cook a frozen one for about four hours.

Just last night, we dined on one. Of course, we can’t eat a whole chicken, so there are a lot of leftovers. They are great for chicken sandwiches as well as for Mexican delights such as burritos, enchiladas and tacos.

But that’s not to say I’m not looking for new ways to use the chicken. Just this morning, I came across a recipe for Smoked Chicken Rigatoni, which combines the fowl with mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula and Parmesan cheese, among other things. Its author described it as an Italian taste sensation.

That’s good enough for me.

Smoked Chicken Rigatoni
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup porcini mushrooms, sliced or chopped
½ cup washed arugula
½ cup chicken stock
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup smoked chicken, shredded
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups Rigatoni pasta (cooked)
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a hot pan and saute chopped garlic. Add in mushrooms and arugula with ½ cup stock and continue to cook. Add in the chopped tomatoes and smoked chicken with 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook for 1 minute, add in the cooked pasta and heat for 1 minute. Finally add in about 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, salt and pepper. Drizzle on some good olive oil and serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 4.

Apricot-Glazed Chicken

One nice thing about writing a food column is that people like to share recipes — and sometimes food — with me.

Just recently, a neighbor of mine, Pat Hell, gave me a small jar of rhubarb-apricot jam. Pat, who exercises at the same fitness center as I, said she likes to use the jam in a chicken dish that’s fairly easy to fix and is diabetic-friendly.

The recipe calls for mixing about a fourth-cup of the jam with 2 tablespoons of low-fat Thousand Island dressing and pouring it over two chicken legs and thighs, which you have put in a baking dish covered. Next you cover the dish with tinfoil and place it in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes. (Take off the foil for the last 10 minutes).

Pat likes to substitute two chicken breasts for the legs and thighs and also uses fat-free Ranch dressing. (You also could substitute just about any kind of jam such as peach.)

I tried the recipe with a couple of pheasant breasts, the result was quite tasty. It’s a dish that Therese and I will have again.

Here’s another recipe that I came across that’s similar.

Apricot-Glazed Chicken Thighs
¼ cup each: Dijon mustard, apricot jam
1 tablespoon soy sauce
8 chicken thighs
Ffreshly ground pepper
1 bunch green onions
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Heat grill to high. Combine mustard, jam and soy sauce in small bowl; set aside. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on grill; cook, uncovered, 3 minutes per side. Brush glaze over chicken. Reduce grill heat to medium-low. Cover; cook, turning once, until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, brush green onions with oil. During the last 4 minutes of cooking chicken, add onions to grill. Cook, turning once, until onions are softened. Season with salt and pepper.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 370 calories, 54 percent calories from fat, 22 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 115 milligrams cholesterol, 430 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 1 g fiber.

Wayfare Tavern Burger

This week’s tasty recipe in The Associated Press’ “20 Burgers of Summer” series comes from chef Tyler Florence, whose Wayfare Tavern recently opened in San Francisco.

According to J.M. Hirsch, food editor at the AP, Florence’s goal for creating hamburgers for his new restaurant was simple — a burger that stays moist no matter how well-done it is cooked. His solution, after one month of experimenting, was a burger with a 75-25 ratio of meat to fat.

“Most people do an 80-20 lean-to-fat ratio,” Florence said in a telephone interview with Hirsch. “We go 75-to-25 ratio, so it’s a little fattier. So even if you like it well done, it’s still nice and moist.”

Florence settled on four cuts of meat for his burger — prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and filet. And after they are ground (at another facility), it’s mostly a hands-off procedure, he told Hirsch.

“When it comes in, no one is really allowed to touch it except to take it out of the package and weigh it out,” said Florence, who is host of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” “It gets touched once before it goes on the grill. It loses that fluffiness once you work it too much. It starts to become chewy really quickly.”

For his toppings, Florence opted for an intensely savory and creamy combination of oven-roasted red onions, lemon aioli and brie.

Wayfare Tavern Burger
½ pound ground prime rib
1 pound ground brisket
1 pound ground skirt steak
½ pound ground filet
8 hamburger buns (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and pepper
1 large red onion, sliced into ¼-inch rings
1 cup lemon aioli (recipe follows)
½ pound brie (Florence favors Cowgirl Creamery Triple Cream Brie), cut into thin slices
In a large bowl, mix the prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and filet together until well blended, but not overworked.
Divide the meat into 8 portions and shape into patties. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the onion slices in a single layer on the prepared pan. Roast the onion slices for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
Heat the grill on high.
Grill the burgers to desired doneness, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
Top the bottom half of each roll with a burger, some of the red onions, aioli and brie.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutrition analysis per serving: 1,078 calories, 560 calories from fat, 63 grams fat (22 grams saturated, no trans), 232 milligrams cholesterol, 68 grams carbohydrates, 58 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 921 milligrams sodium.

Wayfare Tavern Burger Buns
1 cup warm water
¼ cup warm whole milk
¼-ounce package active dry yeast
2½ tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons salt
2½ tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into ¼-inch pieces
In a medium bowl, combine the water, milk, yeast and sugar until well blended. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, lightly beat one of the eggs.
In a large bowl, whisk together the bread flour, all-purpose flour and salt.
Gradually add the butter, beaten egg, and yeast mixture, mixing with a pastry scraper or clean hands until a sticky dough forms.
Knead this mixture on a clean, well-floured surface for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
Place the dough in a large bowl, cover with a clean towel and let stand for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 8 portions. Roll each portion into a ball and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let stand for another hour, or until the rolls have risen slightly.
When ready to bake, place a large shallow pan of water on the floor of the oven and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the remaining egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the mixture over the top of each roll. Bake the rolls for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden.
Transfer the rolls to a rack and let cool completely.
Yield: 8 buns.

Wayfare Tavern Lemon Aioli
1 egg yolk
Juice of ½ lemon
2/3 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and ground black pepper
In a food processor, combine the yolk and lemon juice. Pulse until just combined.
With the processor running, gradually pour in the grapeseed oil. Process until the mixture is creamy and emulsified.
Season with salt and pepper, then cover and chill until ready to serve.
Yield: 1 cup.

Ghost Pepper Salsa

I made another six pints of salsa today. It’s a lot hotter than the last batch. That’s because I used several habanero and jalapeno peppers. But maybe the next try will even hotter.

That’s because I hoping to get some ghost peppers from Adam Sorum. Adam, who works at the gym where I exercise, said he’ll give me some to try out. He’s a big fan of everything hot and has an especially strong penchant for hot peppers.

We spent a half hour or so today talking about hot peppers and hot food while I was riding an exercise bike in Altru’s Fitness Center. After chatting, I decided to try my hand at some Ghost Pepper Salsa.

Ghost peppers actually are bhut jolokia — also known variously by other names in its native region of India. Naga jolokia generally is recognized as the hottest pepper in the world. The pepper is often called the ghost chili by Western media. In 2007, Guinness World Records certified the bhut jolokia as the world’s hottest chili pepper, 400 times hotter than Tabasco sauce.

Here’s the recipe I hope to try.

Ghost Pepper Salsa
½ ounce stemmed, dried bhut jolokia (ghost pepper) chilies
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon white vinegar
15 ounces tomatoes with juice
In a bowl, add dried chilies and cover with hot water. Rehydrate for 15 minutes. In a blender, combine chiles and 1/3 cup soaking water and then add garlic and vinegar; puree. In a bowl, add chili puree to tomatoes and combine.
Yield: 2½ cups.

  • 1/2 ounce stemmed, dried bhut jolokia chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • Salt
  • Ingredients
  • In a bowl, add dried chiles, and cover with hot water. Rehydrate for 15 minutes. In a blender, combine chiles and 1/3 cup soaking water, and then add garlic and vinegar; purée. In a bowl, add chile purée to tomatoes, and combine.

Country-Style Ribs

I’ve never been to Johnny Bravoz in Oslo, Minn., but my first trip there is sure to be a memorable one.

John Kirbeby recently asked me to help judge a rib fest Aug. 21 at Johnny Bravoz, formerly known as the Bottom’s Up Bar. So far, a dozen or so teams have entered, and Kirkeby expects the total to top 20, with $500 going to the first-place winner, $250 for second, $100 for third and $100 for people’s choice. Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the judging begins at 5 p.m.

I’m not sure how many judges there are going to be, but my old friend and co-worker, Ryan Bakken, is one of them. It’s the second time we’ve judged a food event together. The first, a homemade bologna contest, was in Minto, N.D., a year or so ago, and we had a blast.

I’m really looking forward to the rib fest. I just love ribs, especially barbecued ones. And I’m always on the lookout for new rib recipes.

The following is one I recently came across. I’m thinking about trying it this weekend to get my taste buds in shape for the contest.

Tamarind-Glazed Country-Style Ribs
1 cup tamarind juice
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons canola oil
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
12 country-style pork ribs with bone, about 4 pounds total
In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Set aside ½ cup of the marinade in the refrigerator for brushing on the ribs during grilling. Put the ribs in a sealable plastic bag and pour the remaining marinade over them. Marinate 4 hours and up to overnight.
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling over medium heat, about 325 degrees. (The heat will be on one side of the grill and the ribs off to another side.)
Remove the ribs from the marinade (discard the marinade) and let the ribs sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.
Brush the cooking grates clean and oil them. Place the ribs on the grill over indirect medium heat with the lid closed for 20 minutes. Turn the ribs over, brush with some of the reserved marinade and continue to cook for another 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.
Remove the ribs from the grill, tightly wrap with foil and let rest for 30 minutes. Serve warm.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 551 calories, 51 percent of calories from fat, 31 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 13 grams carbohydrates , 52 grams protein , 328 milligrams sodium , 179 milligrams cholesterol , no fiber.