Cobb Salad Steak Sandwich

Cobb salads – where would we be without them? Besides Caesar salads, they are probably the salad I order most often if I’m in a green-eating mood at a restaurant.

Cobb salads are an inherently American dish. They are known to have originated in the 1920s when a restaurant owner, Robert Howard Cobb, waited until the end of a shift to pull together whatever leftover toppings he had on hand to make a filling salad. I can only imagine how good this must have tasted in a late night, post-booze binge.

You have your bacon and eggs – almost a nod to breakfast. Blue cheese, avocado and chicken are all protein-heavy and wholesome. And I believe there’s some magical flavor combination that’s achieved when you have the red onion, blue cheese, bacon and egg flavor all in one bite. These flavors go so well together – super harmonious.

I couldn’t remember ever having eaten these Cobb salad elements in anything other than a salad format. I’ve repeatedly fantasized about bringing Cobb salad deviled eggs to life, knowing that post is an imminent Hankerings recipe. And I love a good steak sandwich, so I knew I was headed in the right direction with this one.

I will always order extra dressing with any salad, and Cobb salads are no exception. It’s always blue cheese dressing on my salads. But here I went with a Dijon mayo. It goes great with the rare steak, and you’re getting the blue cheese crumbles on top, so we’re still checking the blue cheese box.

Speaking of salads-turned-sandwiches, if you haven’t tried it already, Ina Garten makes a mind-blowing Caesar Club Sandwich that not only tastes just like a really good Caesar salad enclosed in a giant crouton – it also comes with pancetta – which adds some serious crisp and melty, greasy pork flavor. I cannot emphasize enough how good that sandwich tastes, and I encourage you to try it when the mood hits you.

Here’s to reinventing our favorite salads – the only limit is our imagination! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 filet mignon
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1 / 4 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, cut to a chiffonade
  • 1 / 2 cup blue cheese crumbles, of your choosing
  • 1 small red heirloom tomato, sliced thin
  • 1 / 2 avocado, pit removed, sliced thin lengthwise
  • 2 airy rolls, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 / 4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 / 4 cup Dijon mustard
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  2. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Dry the filet with a paper towel, and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on all sides.
  3. Put the filet in the pan, and sear on medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes on all sides, until the meat is seared and crispy.
  4. Put the filet in the oven, roasting for 6 to 8 minutes, depending on size, until the meat thermometer reads 145* for rare.
  5. Remove the steak, and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Once slightly cooled, slice the filet against the grain.
  6. Combine the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, and set aside.
  7. To prepare the sandwiches, spread 2 tablespoons of the Dijon mayo mixture on both sides of the roll. Layer half the steak, romaine, tomato, red onion, avocado, blue cheese crumbles, and bacon. Layer the second sandwich. Cut sandwiches in half, and serve.

Vinegar Roast Chicken

Poulet au Vinagre, or vinegar chicken, is a famous Paul Bocuse recipe. A genius, genius recipe. His features tomatoes, which serves as a great acidic counterpoint to the vinegar.

Before I knew that this was in fact a world-famous concept of his, I cooked up a recipe for vinegar chicken years ago, found somewhere on Pinterest when I would spend hours a day pinning other bloggers’ posts.

Because this has the right elements, this roast chicken realizes the vinegar sauce from my memory. And I’ve regularly been making vinegar-y chicken, usually served with basmati rice, ever since.

I love vinegar. And brine. Pickled, salty anything and everything. By a quick scan of the recipes I post here, that’s pretty obvious. The reason I’m telling you this? To reinforce that if you like the same flavor profiles I do, trust me, this recipe will scratch your proverbial itch for vinegar.

I recently heard from someone on a health kick who said that they started adding vinegar to chicken and other saucy, red meat-based dishes. It’s a flavor booster, much like adding spices. It seems like vinegar does something to bolster protein, almost making them taste more calorie-heavy than they actually are.

I think that’s what this sauce does. It’s one of those “magic” sauces. The honey, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste, butter and vinegar all condense down to this perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty and garlicky. With an added emphasis on the sour. Take out the butter, and I’m pretty sure it would be just as damn good.

Alas. This blog isn’t about leaving out the butter. Not here. This place is holy ground as far as butter is concerned, and I’m planning on keeping it that way.

With this relatively simply-prepared chicken and buttered rice, you really get a taste for the sauce. You will end up spooning more and more of it over additional helpings. Or at least I do.

Do you cook any meat-based recipes that have vinegar as a secret ingredient? I’d love to hear about them!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 4 to 5 lb. chicken, giblets removed
  • 1 1 / 2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 3 cups chicken stock or broth
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bulb garlic, plus 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 / 2 large yellow onion, small diced
  • 1 stick butter, room temperature, salted or unsalted
  • Lemon slices, for garnish
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups water, plus 1 cup
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour. Pat the skin dry, including the cavity, with a paper towel.
  3. After an hour, sprinkle the cavity liberally with salt and pepper, and put a garlic bulb, cut in half lengthwise, in the cavity of the chicken. Truss the chicken legs with kitchen twine, and tuck the wings under the body of the chicken.
  4. Take 1 / 2 stick of softened butter, and rub all over the chicken. Slide your hands under the skin on either side of each breast, making sure to coat the top breast meat with the softened butter as well. Heavily sprinkle the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper.
  5. In the meantime, heat the red wine vinegar, tomato paste, chicken stock or broth, 1 cup water, honey, minced garlic and diced onion over simmering heat for 5 minutes or so, until reduced slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  6. Nestle the chicken in a small pan, barely big enough to hold the chicken. Pour the sauce in the pan around the chicken (not on top of the chicken), put lemon slices down the spine of the chicken, if desired, and place in the oven. Roast the chicken for 1 hour to 1 hour & 30 minutes, until the temperature of the chicken reaches 165* or you cut the groove between the leg and the breast and the juices run clear.
  7. In the meantime, run the rice under cold water in a sieve for a few minutes to remove extra starch. Put the rice in a small saucepan with 4 cups water, and simmer on medium heat until al dente consistency, about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the rice cooking instructions. Strain, return the rice to the pot, and add the remaining half of the stick of butter, stirring until melted. Set aside covered with a lid to keep warm until serving.
  8. Remove the chicken from the pan, turning the chicken upside down to allow any remaining juices to pour out of the cavity. Carve the chicken using Julia Child’s technique (carving starts at about 26:00). Retain the lemon slices and garlic bulb for garnish on the serving platter, if desired.
  9. Pour the roasting pan sauce into a pourable serving dish. Serve the chicken on a platter family style alongside a serving bowl of the buttered basmati rice.

Filet Mignon with Goat Cheese Whipped Cream

Goat cheese whipped cream sound a little too funky for you? Don’t let the name fool you – it is utterly delicious.

I had my doubts that the texture would mesh well – wrong, it was perfect. And even quicker and easier than making a compote butter. I added salt and pepper, the only other ingredients I could justify. I really wanted the goat cheese flavor to shine through.

whipped_cream

It got me thinking about other savory whipped cream toppings. It’s easy to forget that butter is churned cream – and if I were to keep beating for a couple more minutes, I’d have goat cheese butter. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen in my kitchen.

I thought I’d list some ideas that come to mind for a whipped cream steak topper, or another broiled meat, for the adventurous eater types. My gut is telling me my next whipped cream creation will be a brie version.

An added disclaimer – you’re required to let me know how these taste, in the event you try one. 😊

  • Boursin cheese whipped cream
  • Red wine whipped cream
  • Roasted garlic whipped cream
  • Brie cheese whipped cream
  • Smoked salmon whipped cream
  • Black peppercorn whipped cream
  • Shallot whipped cream
  • Tarragon whipped cream
  • Anchovy whipped cream
  • Truffled whipped cream
  • Cream cheese whipped cream
  • Blue cheese whipped cream
  • Harissa whipped cream
  • Tabasco whipped cream

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

F o r  t h e  G o a t  C h e e s e  W h i p p e d  C r e a m

  • 4 oz. chevre
  • 1 / 2 cup heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper

F o r  t h e  F i l e t  M i g n o n

  • 2 filet mignon
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 400*.
  2. Put all the whipped cream ingredients in a bowl, and beat on medium speed with a hand mixer until it reaches whipped cream consistency – about 30 seconds to a minute.
  3. Pat the filets dry, and sprinkle all sides liberally with salt and pepper.
  4. Coat an oven-safe skillet with olive oil, and melt 2 tablespoons of butter on high heat. Sear the steaks for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, then sear the edges of the steak for 1 minute each.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of butter on the top of each filet, and place the steaks in the oven. Broil for 8 minutes for rare, checking with a meat thermometer until the steaks reach preferred doneness, if desired.
  6. Serve the steaks hot, topped with the goat cheese whipped cream.

Green Goddess Risotto

My now-nonexistent, tiny, indoor city garden – if you can call it that – was still a place for me to walk across the room to grab fresh herbs. I realized I have taken this for granted enormously.

I still have a way to stockpile fresh herbs, though. And it saves a few, literally, bucks in the process. But mostly, it allows me to sigh in relief when I realize – oh wait, I do have fresh dill.

Here’s all it is – grab a pack of ice cube trays, sprinkle desired fresh herbs into the cubes, and cover with olive oil, putting the tray in the freezer until you need it. It’s made a big difference in knocking down my shopping list, especially those times when my shopping list should essentially be one of everything in the store.

This recipe is a perfect example – fresh herb heavy dish? You’re covered!

When I have a new idea for a dish, I have to ask myself, is making this more complicated – adding more ingredients, introducing extra steps to recipes – really going to make it taste better?

Yes, there are times I want parmesan risotto. Perfect as it is, and it scratches that itch.

But I have those moments when I veer off the road, screech a u-ey and speed the other way. I call some of my recipes “Frankenstein” recipes because they mesh two dishes together. Pizza Carbonara. Surf & Turf Fried Rice. I think you get it. Follow this tag here to see what I’m talking about.

But risotto lends itself to being conjoined with another dish – not because it’s bland, but because it’s the perfect vehicle for other flavor profiles. It’s already starchy and fattening. Check. So bringing herbs, strong spices and other non-traditional ingredients into the mix doesn’t wipe out the risotto-ness of the dish.

The flavor is so spot on, that it tastes uncannily similar if you make or eat green goddess dressing regularly. The yummiest kicker though, is that one or two filets of anchovies you add. It sets the risotto off, and I can’t get enough of anchovies.

One fun fact to leave you with – the American-originated version of green goddess dressing, which hails from San Francisco, had chives, chervil and tarragon as its herb base, not basil. If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought green goddess dressing was basil-based. I use scallions here because I wanted a stronger onion-y bite, but a combination of those three herbs would be the most historically accurate.

This is another risotto for the books in my kitchen, and hopefully in yours too. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 1 / 2 cup arborio rice
  • 3 / 4 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup parm reg, shredded
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 / 4 cup olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the parm reg, parsley, scallions, anchovies, lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a food processor. While whirring, slowly add in 1 / 4 cup of olive oil. Continue to puree until it reaches a pesto consistency. If more oil is needed to thin out the sauce, add more a bit at a time. Set aside.
  2. Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until simmering. It should stay simmering for the duration of the cooking.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the rice, stirring for 2 minutes or so until the rice toasts a bit.
  4. Add a ladle of stock and stir. Keeping the heat on medium-low, gently stir the rice intermittently, and when the rice appears to get a bit dry, add more stock. After about 20 minutes, test the doneness of the rice. The rice should be al-dente, and the consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
  5. At this final stage, add the green goddess mixture to the risotto and stir until heated through. Taste the risotto for seasonings, and adjust if necessary.
  6. Plate the risotto while hot, sprinkling with additional herbs you have on hands for garnish, and a sprinkling of parm reg, if desired.

Pork Chops with Horseradish Cream Sauce

There’s a restaurant called The Pig, self-dubbed the Nose to Tail restaurant, here in D.C. – and all their menu items feature – you guessed it – pork products.

Garden salad? House-made bacon bits.

Burger? That’s going to be ground pork. Yum. Pork chop? That’s wrapped in bacon for some double pig action.

Order a Bloody Mary? You’re getting a strip of bacon in that.

These are just examples, and the only one I can attest to being true is the bacon Bloody Mary, but you get the point.

I don’t buy or cook pork chops regularly. I actually totally forgot about pork chops.

But during a routine trip to the butcher counter to leer at the meats, my eyes settled on a very thick, bone-in slab of pork. It was love at first sight at the butcher counter.

I love strong, woody herbs and garlic with pork, but I wanted some to add an unexpected, punchy element. Enter horseradish.

Pork chops want to be crunchy and seared so juices lock in, just like steak – so achieving that is priority number one.

The sauce starts with the juices from the pan the chop is broiled in, so you’re losing zero percent of that flavor that seeps out from the meat while roasting.

From start to finish, you’re really only turning on the oven and smashing a couple garlic cloves to pull this dish together. And you’re getting a restaurant presentation with little to no effort. That’s a loveable, go-to recipe in my book.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 thick, bone in pork chops
  • Approximately 20 stems thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Pat dry the pork chops. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, large enough to hold both pork chops. Add the garlic cloves and the stems of thyme.
  4. When the oil is very hot, almost smoking, put the pork chops in the skillet so they are settled amongst the herbs and garlic cloves. Allow to sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip the pork chops, sear for 2 minutes, and place the skillet in the oven.
  5. Bake the pork chops for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness, until the pork chops are cooked through. The meat thermometer should reach *160.
  6. Remove the pork chops and thyme stems from the pan, leaving the garlic. Add the cream, butter, horseradish a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper to the pan. Scrape up the brown bits from the pan while the sauce reduces for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, and serve hot.