Posts Tagged vinegar

Mustard and Herbed Rack of Lamb

rack_of_lamb2I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious. For those of you who think lamb has to taste “gamey,” whatever that means, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t. It just depends on the cut of lamb you buy, how fresh it is, and how you prepare it. I had the ultimate anti-lamb person I know taste this on Thanksgiving, and she loved it.

Rack of lamb is one of those cuts of meat that is worth the price because it lives up to its billing. It’s melt-in-your-mouth delicious. If you’re not convinced, I suggest you give it a try so that you can see for yourself.

You can get your butcher to “French” the rack for you or, if you’re lucky, your local supermarket sells it that way. I ordered mine a week in advance from my local grocer and it came all ready to go.


Two 1.5 lb racks of lamb, Frenched

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup minced garlic

2 tbsp packed light brown sugar

2 tbsp dried rosemary leaves

2 tbsp dried thyme leaves

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper


Whisk together the mustard, vinegar, garlic and brown sugar until well incorporated. Score the fat side of the lamb racks. Place in a glass or non-reactive baking dish and pour the marinade over the lamb. Be sure both the top and the “meat side” of the racks are covered with marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight.

The next day, scrap the marinade off the lamb and retain. Heat the olive oil and a pan, and brown the racks on both sides. Sprinkle both sides of the racks liberally with salt and pepper, as well as the rosemary and thyme leaves. Place in a baking dish and pour on the marinade.

Bake in a preheated 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove and cover with aluminum foil. Allow the racks to sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into chops and serving.


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Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Pulled-pork-sandwich-499x446This has been a year of cookouts for us. Ironically, one of the most popular things I make for our cookouts are made in the house: Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. There’s nothing like it. This is one of three recipes I will put on this blog in the next few days. I also have one for pulled chicken and pulled beef.

There are several trains of thought on pulled pork. One is that you need a “basting” sauce if you cook it in the oven, but all you need to do is put a “rub” on the meat if you’re making it in a slow cooker. My train of thought? Why not both? It only adds to the incredible flavor. So, that’s the recipe I’m giving you.

Forget about using an “lean” pork cut for this dish. What you need is pork butt. Yes, it has fat in it, but there’s plenty of opportunity to get rid of the excess fat once the meat is cooked and easily separated. Frankly, there isn’t much to remove once the cooking is complete.

Ingredients for the Rub

1 boneless pork butt, about 3-4 lbs

2 tbsp dark brown sugar

6 garlic cloves, cut in half

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp coriander

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried thyme

Directions for the Rub

First, make slices in the pork butt and insert the half garlic cloves. Then mix the rest of the ingredients together and rub all over the pork butt, top, bottom and sides. Place the pork butt in a dish, cover with plastic wrap and allow this to sit in the refrigerator overnight.

Directions for the Cooking Sauce (also known as Mop)

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp red pepper flakes

Whisk all of this together the night before you put the pork in the slow cooker so that all the flavors meld together. Refrigerate overnight.

Directions for the Main Event

Remove the pork butt from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature. This takes about an hour. Place the pork butt into a slow cooker, add the mop, and cook on “high” for 8 hours. The meat will be tender and will easily fall apart. Keep an eye on the pork. As it becomes tender, break it into several smaller pieces. This helps to enhance the flavor.

When done, separate the rest of the pork with two forks. This is the perfect time to remove any pieces of fat that may be present. Move to a serving dish with sides, and spoon the mop over the pulled pork to keep the meat moist. Serve with sandwich buns (not burger buns; too small) and top with a nice North Carolina barbecue sauce (recipe follows).

North Carolina Vinegar-Based Barbecue Sauce

barbecue sauce squeeze bottlesI am definitely not a fan of traditional ketchup-based barbecue sauces. I also do not like the barbecue sauces that you can purchase prepared from the store. I prefer the vinegar-based sauces that you make yourself.

Invest in some barbecue squeeze bottles. They are not difficult to find, and they are not expensive.

Here’s my recipe.


1 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 tbsp Kosher or Sea salt

1 tbsp light brown sugar

1 tbsp Tabasco sauce

1 tbsp Ketchup

1 tbsp Dijon Mustard

1 tsp ground black pepper


Place all ingredients into a small, non-reactive pan and bring to a boil. Whisk until the salt and brown sugar dissolve. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, place into a barbecue squeeze bottle and refrigerate overnight before using.

Cook’s Note: By the way, my homemade baked beans make an ideal side dish for pulled pork sandwiches.





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The Muffaletta

muffaletta-sandwichIn my previous life, I worked for a major corporation as an advertising manager. I loved my job. One of the best parts of my job was travel to New Orleans for the Pittsburgh Conference every single year. There is no doubt that New Orleans is the haven of unbelievably good food, and one of the best things I learned to make on one trip down there was the Muffaletta Sandwich.

There are probably several different versions of this sandwich, but I’m Italian. So that means I like the original that includes Italian cold cuts. I also recommend Italian Focaccia bread as an alternative to what you’d find in New Orleans. This can come in many different forms: A whole loaf, or square formats that are ideal for sandwiches. Some include olive oil and rosemary. Some include cheese. Doesn’t matter what you choose. As my work associates, who are much younger than I, say, “It’s all good.” If you use a whole loaf, it should feed three people comfortably. So, this recipe is giving you enough ingredients for three sandwiches, whatever bread you choose to use.

The highlight of this sandwich is the olive spread. It’s what gives it a kick. My recommendation is that you make the olive spread the night before and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. It’s also important that you give this sandwich proper “resting” time once it is assembled. (This sandwich reminds me of the Italian “subs” my mother used to make for us for Friday night supper.)

A nice big fat glass of red wine is ideal to go along with this (I like Cigar Box Malbec myself).

Ingredients for Olive Spread

1 cup of pitted olives, chopped (use a mix here of black, green, kalamata…)

1 tbsp minced shallots

1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips, roughly chopped

2 tbsp capers, rinsed, dried and chopped

4 Pepperoncini, roughly chopped

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp oregano, Tuscan seasoning or Italian seasoning (for the latter two, McCormick makes a great little mix)

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Mix these ingredients together and put them in the refrigerator overnight.

Ingredients for Sandwich

One loaf of Focaccia bread (or three individual, square Focaccias)

4 oz of Genoa salami

4 oz of Hot or Sweet Capicola

4 oz of Mortadella

4 oz of Prosciutto

4 oz of Provolone Cheese


If the bread is thick (and it usually is), hollow out a bit of the inside. Place a health portion of the olive salad on both the top and bottom of the bread.

Layer meat and cheese onto bottom half, and place the top on the sandwich.

Wrap the entire sandwich in either plastic wrap or aluminum foil (or both) and put a brick on top of the sandwich. (Yes, you read that right.) Allow the sandwich to sit for one hour so that the bread soaks up the olive spread.

Serve with a big ass glass of red wine. Simply unbelievable.

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Ass Kickin’ Greens

Kale, Collard GreensYeah, we’re continuing on the vegetable train here, although this does have bacon in it. (Who doesn’t absolutely love bacon?) I became a “greens” fan after I started going to New Orleans on business during the 70’s and 80’s. I love the stuff. This recipe calls for collard greens and kale, but there are any number of “greens” that work here…like escarole, swiss chard, mustard greens, beet greens and dandelion. So, I will continue with my mantra: Have at it. Don’t let my recipes limit your imagination. Remember, as you cook greens they shrink. It may sound like I’m calling for a lot of greens, but trust me on this one.


2 tbsp. olive oil

6 slices maple or apple cider (absolutely yummy) bacon (cooked)

1 sweet yellow onion, chopped

5 cloves garlic, minced

Sea salt to taste

2 tbsp malt or apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp hot red pepper flakes

1 bunch of fresh collard greens (no stems), torn or cut into 2″ pieces

1 bunch of fresh kale (no stems), torn or cut into 2″ pieces

1/2 cup chicken stock


Cook the bacon until crispy, put between paper towels, cool, and break into pieces. Set aside.

For this recipe, I like to use a wok because it can accommodate the “greens,” which start out looking like a huge pile. So, put the olive oil, garlic, onions and a pinch of salt in the wok and cook for about 3-4 minutes until the oil is infused and the onions are translucent.

Then, toss in the malt or apple cider vinegar along with the kale and collard greens.  Again, this will look like a huge pile. Carefully toss this together, and add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock. From here, I’m not going to tell you how long you have to cook the greens. It’s the kind of thing you have to watch. You want to cook until it is wilted, not watery. You may need another 1/4 cup of stock (or maybe even more depending on your taste), but I like mine less watery and more crispy.

At the end, toss in the red pepper flakes and the bacon. Toss it with the greens and serve. This is an especially good side dish when served with Jambalaya or any other kind of Cajun food. Trust me. Those recipes are coming soon.

Here’s a tip: They’re awesome heated over the next day, especially if you toss them with some Tabasco Sauce.





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Plum Crazy Pork Ribs

If my mother were alive, she’d hit me on the side of the head for saying that grilled pork ribs are like the Second Coming of Christ. She isn’t, so I will indeed make that analogy. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get tired of those smoky ketchup-based barbecue sauces and like to think a bit out of the box. These are incredible ribs, mostly because they aren’t allowed to sit on the grill for longer than 15 minutes. The grill is used to apply the barbecue glaze and brown the ribs. Instead, the ribs are baked in the oven before grilling.

You can buy ribs two ways — as a rack (which you’ll have to cut after grilling) or ribs that are already separated. The last time I made these, I bought the ones already separated. It’s much less aggravating. I’d rather spend my time cooking than presenting food. I’m thinking cookout here, so this recipe is for about six pounds of ribs.

Ingredients for Baking Ribs

6 lbs. Pork Ribs

1-2 small onions, sliced into rings

1-2 lemons, sliced into rings

Sea salt and pepper

Directions for Baking Ribs

Place the ribs in shallow baking pans (I like to line mine with aluminum foil first to minimize cleanup). Cover with sliced onions and lemons. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake covered in a pre-heated 375-degree oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or until ribs are tender. (This should not require more than 1 hour and 30 minutes tops.) Remove the ribs and set aside. Simple as that.

Ingredients for Barbecue Glaze

2 cups of plum jam (Trappist makes a great plum jam)

1/4 cup vinegar (red wine, apple cider or malt works)

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup canola oil

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

2 tbsp. dried ground ginger powder

1/2 tsp. white pepper

1 tbsp. chili garlic paste (see the Stock This Stuff page for more info)

Directions for Grilling Ribs

First, put the oil, onion and garlic and chili garlic paste in a microwave safe dish and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for about 3 minutes or until the onions are tender. Stir once or twice during the process. Remove it from the microwave and allow the mixture to cool just a bit.

Once cooled, mix all the ingredients together with a whisk. This makes a great barbecue glaze, a little sweet and a little spicy. I might add that it’s great without the chili garlic paste (if you’re inviting weenies to your barbecue), but I find that the chili garlic paste adds just the right amount of zing.

Fire up your grill and get ready! Cook the ribs for about 10-15 minutes, basting frequently with the glaze and turning them several times until they become golden brown. You can serve the ribs with the rest of the glaze. These are falling-off-the-bone outrageous.

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