Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours, we hope you have a very, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. It is my prayer that your holidays are filled with the laughter of children (and children at heart), tears of joy, precious memories of years past and hopeful dreams for the coming year.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Texas Fried Turkey with Cinnamon Chile Rub

The Background

I take no credit for this recipe, this incredibly delicious, insanely flavorful, and down right amazing recipe. I have however used it very successfully for several years now and take great pride in cooking up a great bird whenever the opportunity arises. I got the recipe from Texas Monthly a couple of years ago, who got it from Grady Spears, a chef at Reata, and published in the Wild Turkey edition of Texas Monthly in 1998. So with proper credit given, let's cook!

The Ingredients


1 turkey cooker with a propane burner
(also called a catfish cooker or crawfish boiler)
1 36- to 40-quart stockpot and basket
1 large turkey injector with needle
1 deep-fryer thermometer or candy thermometer
elbow-length oven mitts

 Cinnamon-Chile Rub

1/2 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup pasilla or other red chile powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well.


4 to 6 gallons peanut oil (depending on size of stockpot and turkey)
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (two 14.5-ounce cans)
1/2 cup Tabasco sauce
1 turkey, 12 to 15 pounds (insides removed)
2 cups cinnamon-chile rub (recipe above)

Making It Work

Place the peanut oil in the stockpot on the turkey cooker and preheat to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the chicken stock and Tabasco. Place the turkey in a shallow pan or bowl. Fill the syringe with stock mixture, inject all parts of the turkey (legs, breast, thighs), and then thoroughly coat the outside of the turkey with the cinnamon-chile rub. When the oil reaches 350 degrees, place the turkey in the basket and, wearing oven mitts, carefully lower it into the stockpot. Cook for 3 1/2 minutes per pound (for example, a 12-pound turkey will be done in 42 minutes). Remove the turkey from the oil and drain well. Place it on your favorite platter and carve away.

Helpful Hints
1. To determine how much oil you need, put the uncooked turkey in the stockpot and cover with water. Measure the water and use the same amount of oil. (The cooks at Reata use a 40-quart stockpot and 6 gallons of oil.)

2. Large containers of peanut oil are available at Sam’s Club, Randalls, Wal-Mart, and Albertson’s.

3. Turkey cookers with pots and propane burners can be bought at large supermarkets, sporting goods stores, restaurant suppliers, building-supply stores, and hardware stores, but availability is unpredictable. A spot-check found them at some Academy Sports and Outdoors stores, Albertson’s food stores, and Builders Square, among others. Injectors are available at cookware stores, department stores, and some of the outlets mentioned above. If you don’t have a cooker and stockpot and don’t want to buy them, they can be rented at party supply stores.

4. The injector is easier to fill if you remove the needle.

5. The oil may be strained to remove food particles and reused. It may also be disposed of with regular garbage.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pinto Beans

The Story

Beans, particularly pinto beans, have a significant role in the Latin American culinary heritage.  It’s also a nutrient dense food source that is often overlooked these days.  My beans are not completely vegetarian, I do love the flavor that an all-beef chorizo sausage adds to beans.  I also prefer to use my crockpot for this dish, you just can’t beat low and slow and I also like the way the aroma fills the kitchen and house.  As for uses, I generally breakdown my cooked beans into 4 separate containers that can be frozen for later use.  I use them as a side dish and I also use them in my breakfast tacos in place of a meat (usually bacon).  


  • 1lb. bag of dried pinto beans
  • 1lb. all-beef chorizo (removed from casing and crumbled)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 tsp. smoked sweet paprika
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 whole chipotle pepper

Making it Happen

Begin by spreading the dried beans out on a counter and inspecting them closely.  Small bits of rocks and dirt can make for a nasty treat if undetected.  In a large bowl, soak the beans with plenty of water overnight. 

In a sauté pan, crumble the chorizo and brown the sausage over medium heat.  Chorizo does have a significant amount of fat, so expect to see quite a bit of fat rendering in the pan.  You also want to keep the heat relatively low, the grease from the sausage will have a tendency to pop if the heat is too high.  Once the sausage is browned, remove the sausage to a bowl, reserving the rendered fat in the bottom of the pan.  While the pan is still hot, add the diced onion to the rendered fat and sauté the onions until they are soft and translucent.  Once the onions are soft, add the minced garlic and stir together until fragrant.  Last, stir in the bell pepper and add the sausage back to the pan, just to combine.

To cook the beans, strain the beans and put them in your crockpot.  Add your chorizo mixture, spices, bay leaves, whole chipotle pepper and beef broth.  Cook the beans on the lowest, slowest setting (8-10 hours). 

Prior to serving, remove the bay leaves and the chipotle pepper and discard.  Take about 2-3 cups of the cooked beans from the crockpot and blend them in a food processor or blender until smooth.  Last, stir the blended beans back into the crockpot.  So, why bother with this last step of pureeing some of the beans?  Blending some of the beans will release more starch into the cooking liquid.  This step is the difference between watery, greasy beans and soft, velvety flavorful beans. 

Serve these either as a main course over cooked rice, as a side to tex-mex or barbeque or on taco.  Awesome stuff, enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Holiday Home-made Artisan Gift Idea: Apple Butter

The Story

With the current state of our economy, I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it is possible that you may be looking for ways to slim down the Christmas gift budget.  I have a recipe for that will allow you to make very inexpensive, hand crafted, artisan quality gift that your family and friends will thank you for over and over again. 

We made this apple butter last year.  We were looking for a good family craft project that we could give as gifts and was all of that and more.  Apple butter is great on toast, English muffins or bagels.  But there are also some great recipes out there that use apple butter in muffins, cakes and breads.  If you do a Google search for apple butter, you will be blown away by how many recipes are out there.  Some can be made in as few as 30 minutes, others, like mine take the better part of the day in a slow cooker.  So here are a few reasons that I think the slow cooker method works best for this recipe.  First, it cooks all day, but it isn’t all-day long intensive, standing over the pot kind of cooking.  Second, the slow method allows you to layer the flavors, so the spices aren’t muted, and the finished product doesn’t separate.  Third, it leaves your whole house enveloped in a fantastic, Fall flavored, warmly spiced aroma.

That’s enough of the story.  Let’s cook!

  • 6 pounds apples, cored and sliced (1/2 Granny Smith, 1/2 Gala)
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground all-spice

The How-To

Start by preparing your apples.  You can buy a special apple corer/slicer/peeler at just about any housewares store for about $20.  They are easy to use and they really do work pretty well.  I have one in my kitchen.  The only thing I would say is, if you have one or buy one, do not peel the apples for this recipe. 

Fill your slow cooker with apples, and its okay if it’s a couple of inches above the rim of your cooker.  Add the apple cider and set the lid on top, as it cooks down, the lid will settle into place.  Walk away and let it do it’s thing.  Stop by every hour or so and give the apples a stir.

After about 6 hours, the apples will have softened and broken down, it will look like thick, chunky applesauce.  As a matter of fact, that is exactly what this is.  If you were to cool this and jar it, you just made applesauce.  But since we are making apple butter, not applesauce, let’s continue.  Add the sugar and spices to the cooker and stir until the spices are well dispersed.  At this point, you can switch from stirring with a spoon to using a whisk. 

Allow the sauce to thicken and the apples to continue to breakdown.  This stage could take anywhere from a few minutes to 2 more hours.  You can leave the lid off the cooker at this point to allow for evaporation. 

Now you are ready to do the canning.  You will process these jars for 10 minutes in a hot water bath.  Here is a great website that can teach you everything you ever wanted to know about how to preserve by canning.  http://www.freshpreserving.com/

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Shepherd’s Pie

The story

This is an amazingly easy dish, and a great fall weather comfort food that my whole family enjoys.  Some true-blooded Irishmen may not call it proper, but everyone I have served this to loves it.  One of the key components that makes this dish is the use of both ground beef and mild sausage.  Please don’t overlook this, as it provides key flavor complexity.  I plan ahead when making this dish, and either double the recipe to freeze one (which works great I might add), or make plans to use the “other” half of the meat mixture later in the week (for pizza for example).

Shepherd’s Pie is a great casserole dish to make use of whatever you have on hand.  For example, just about any type of meat could potentially be substituted, or any number of vegetables could be used or added to this recipe.  And no, it doesn’t have to be overly complicated.  For example, Simply Potatoes has a great garlic mashed potato product that is usually found in the meat section of the grocery store.  We actually use these pre-made potatoes often just to reduce the amount of clean up.


  • 1/2 pound ground beef (I use 96% lean)
  • 1/2 pound ground mild sausage (I use HEB Light Sausage)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 bag frozen peas and carrots
  • 1/2 small to medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 pounds potatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

hardware required

  • 12” sauté pan
  • Large Dutch Oven for making Mashed Potatoes

Ready to Cook

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bring your chopped potatoes to a boil over medium high heat in a large Dutch Oven.  Boil the potatoes until softened and drain.  Add the butter, sour cream and milk to your potatoes and mash to rough creamy texture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In your sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it shimmers.  Add your diced onions and sauté over medium heat until the onions are soft and just begin to brown a bit.  Add your garlic and stir together until aromatic.  Add the ground sausage to the pan and break it up to a small crumble.  Once the sausage begins to fade from pink to gray, add your ground beef and sauté together until the meats are browned.  If the meat begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add additional olive oil. 

Once the meat and onion mixture is well browned, add the other tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle the mixture with the flour until a roux is formed.  The flour should cling to the brown bits on the bottom of the pan (called fond), and to the side of the pan.  Stir in the beef broth until a rich, thick gravy is formed.  We are looking for a heavy gravy here, not a soup, so you may need to adjust the amount of broth you add accordingly depending on the amount of drippings that were formed in the pan.

Once the gravy and meat comes to a nice simmer, add your frozen vegetables, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, and stir to combine.  At this point, we are ready to bring it all together.  You can either transfer the meat mixture to a greased casserole dish of your choice, or if the sauté pan has an oven-safe handle, you can bake the casserole in the pan.

Sprinkle the meat mixture with 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese (the other 1/2 cup will be sprinkled on the top of the shepherd’s pie).  Next, use a rubber spatula to spoon the mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat mixture and spread evenly.  Top the potatoes with the reserved shredded cheese and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top begins to brown, and the gravy just begins to bubble to the top of the casserole. 

To serve, scoop with a large spoon so that you get a good mixture of all the ingredients.  Served with a nice chewy sourdough or French bread, this a crowd pleaser.  And if you can resist the urge to eat the whole shepherd’s pie, the leftovers are even better the next day. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baked Chicken Parmesan

The good folks over at America's Test Kitchen created this fantastic version of Chicken Parmesan. It appears in their new Healthy Family Cookbook. We followed this recipe exactly last night and really enjoyed it a lot. We served ours with fresh steamed green beans and garlic mashed potatoes. I have always taken pride in my chicken Parmesan, but this version beats it hands down and delivers great, fresh, light flavor that didn't leave us feeling weighed down.

1 1/2 Cups Panko Breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup Flour
1 1/2 Tsp Garlic Powder
3 Egg Whites (large)
1 Tablespoon Water
6 Chicken Cutlets (approx. 4oz each)
2 Cups Tomato Sauce (warmed)
1 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil (chopped)
Canola or Vegetable Oil cooking spray

This is a really easy and tasty makeover of a traditionally "hard to do" and decadent dish. Start by prepping the chicken breast, cutting 3 chicken breasts horizontally in half. Pound the breasts to approximately 1/4" thickness and dry with a paper towel.

Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 475 degrees. While oven preheats, toast the breadcrumbs in a skillet or sauté pan with the olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently. This should take approximately 8-10 minutes. Set the breadcrumbs in a pie dish to cool. Once the breadcrumbs have cooled, add the grated parmesan cheese and toss together.

In a separate pie pan, whisk the egg whites and water until well combined.

In a separate pie pan, mix the flour and garlic powder. This will complete your 3 step breading station.

Place a wire cooling rack in a rimmed cookie sheet and spray liberally with cooking spray. This will be the pan we use to bake the chicken.

One at a time, bread each chicken cutlet, starting with the flour mixture, then the egg whites, then the breadcrumbs. Place the breaded chicken cutlets on the baking sheet. Bake the breaded chicken pieces in the oven for approximately 8-10 minutes, until they register 155 - 160 degrees.

Top each cutlet with a couple tablespoons of warmed tomato sauce and a generous sprinkling of mozzarella cheese.

Return the chicken cutlets to the oven to bake for another 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown. The chicken should now be at 165 degrees internal temperature.

Sprinkle chicken with chopped fresh basil and additional parmesan cheese if desired.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Now booking Catering Opportunities for the Fall and Holiday Season

Planning a party this fall? Do you know someone who is? I would love to hear what you are planning and talk about whether or not S Bar C Catering would be a good fit for your event. Whether it's a Rehearsal Dinner, Family Reunion, Company Picnic or Holiday Party, I am flexible enough to handle it! Whether you just need a few pans of prepared food delivered, or you need someone who can coordinate the whole event, I am confident we can make you happy. Give me a call or shoot me an email.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork – Texas Style)


  • Boneless Pork Butt (approx 3-5 lbs.)
  • ½ Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbspn Dried Oregano
  • 1 Tbspn Dried Cilantro
  • 1 Tbspn Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbspn Garlic
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Cups Broth
  • 1 Medium Orange (squeezed)
  • 1 Lime (squeezed)
  • 1 Medium Onion (diced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 Whole Chipotle Pepper (if you don’t like it spicy, this can be omitted. For my tastes, I would prefer to add 3 or 4 of these whole peppers)


In the traditional preparation of carnitas, the pork roast would be boiled in lard or oil. Once it was fork tender, the pork would be pulled into smaller chunks that would be roasted to a nice caramelized crispy finish. In the interest of lightening this dish up a bit, this version is braised in a broth.

Begin by preparing the roast, cut the roast into large chunks, approximately 2 inch squares. Cut away the really big chunks of fat and any gristle you find. Do not get carried away trying to remove all the fat, we will want bits of fat remaining that will render out into our braising liquid. Move your trimmed pork roast pieces into a large mixing bowl.

Often, when braising meats, it is recommended to begin by browning the meat in a hot Dutch oven so that the meat caramelizes on the outside, prior to braising. Since we are going to roast the pulled pork to finish the dish, we won’t brown the meat to start.

Add the olive oil, dried herbs, seasoning, citrus juices, onions and peppers to the mixing bowl and stir so that the meat is well coated. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and allow the mixture to marinade in the refrigerator for at least an hour (overnight if you can).

Ready to Braise

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. When you are ready to braise, place the contents of your mixing bowl into a Dutch oven or heavy roasting pan and add your broth. The meat should just barely be covered. Bake until the meat is fork tender, approximately 2 hours. Note from experience, at this point it is best that you have a suitable task to distract you during this cooking step. The aroma that fills your kitchen and house will make it difficult to concentrate!

Remove the meat from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon and allow the meat to cool slightly in a bowl. We will want to pull the large chunks of pork into smaller bite size pieces by hand, so you just want the meat cool enough to handle.

While the meat cools, strain the liquid into a heavy saucepan, discarding the solids. I actually have a strainer cup, which allows me strain out the solids, and then I pour the liquid back into the hot Dutch oven, which makes 1 less pan to clean up! Allow the cooking liquids to reduce to a glaze. You will know you have the right consistency when a silicon spatula or spoon creates a trail in the bottom of the pan that does not immediately recede.

When the meat has cooled enough to handle, pull the pork into smaller bite size pieces. We aren’t looking for shredded pork consistency here, but we won’t want pieces too big to eat in a single bite either. At this point, any rendered pieces of fat that remain in the meat should be removed. Fat is flavor, but biting into a taco with a big piece of fat in it is NOT good eats. Pour your reduced cooking liquid back over the pulled pork and toss the meat so that it is well coated.

Set your oven to High Broil. While the broiler heats up, spread the meat over a baking sheet, ensuring the meat is on a single layer. Roast the meat under the broil until the ends are crispy and the sauce is caramelized, approximately 10 minutes.

To the Table!

At this point, your carnitas are ready to eat. My favorite way to eat this meat is in a taco. I prefer corn tortillas with the meat, a few pieces of shredded cilantro and a squeeze of lime. You can certainly dress it up with all the fixings, like peppers and onion, salsas and such if you like. This also makes a great main course dish, served over rice with some grilled vegetables and beans, perhaps. If you decide to use this as a main dish, I would probably consider using the cooking liquid as a base for a sauce or gravy, rather than coating the meat before broiling. A tablespoon of mild chili powder and touch of cumin with a dusting of flour would make for a nice sauce.