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.

Scotch Egg Ramen Noodle Bowl

Scotch eggs. Oh my word. Where to even start?

They’re a traditional British snack food, often considered a picnic-ready food – and although they’re pretty much born to be a breakfast food item considering it’s an egg enclosed in sausage, we couldn’t help but figure, eh, let’s just eat these all day long.

I can’t think of a more delicious concept – jammy egg, Worcestershire sauce-doused ground pork, and other savory elements, all deep fried until golden and sizzly. Here, I went with an Asian flair and added soy sauce, fish sauce and sesame oil. I had a hankering for a bowl of piping hot ramen, and wanted the scotch egg to jive with the Asian flavors in the broth.

A local ramen joint – Jinya, is doing ALL the business. Over the past few months, my sister has been ordering from them four to five times a week – no exaggeration. One time, she had Jinya deliver across the city to her office. For lunch. If she’s any indication – those guys are doing ramen right.

I love the new topping options I’m seeing for ramen. An egg is the classic must have protein-booster, but now I’m seeing crunchy fried pork belly, roasted eggplant, slices of American cheese, and other super delicious topping ideas that go beyond just bean sprouts.

Not that there’s anything wrong with bean sprouts.

This bowl features all my favorite umami flavors – or at least, what I consider umami flavors for my weird palate. Mushrooms, cheese, egg and pork from the scotch egg, toasted sesame seeds, grated onion, spicy chili garlic paste, and corn for a bit of sweetness.

How do you like your ramen to be topped? What’s a cool addition that’s a bit out of left field? I’d love to hear your favorites! 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 1.

  • 1 egg plus 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 / 3 lb. pork sausage, out of its casing
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash soy sauce
  • 1 dash fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus 1 dash
  • 1 / 4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 / 4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 1 3 oz. package ramen noodles
  • 1 quart chicken or beef stock, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 tablespoon garlic
  • 1 yellow Kraft Singles American cheese slice
  • 1 / 4 lb. mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick
  • 1 / 4 cup corn
  • 1 / 4 white onion, grated
  • 2 Thai chilis, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Dynasty Hot Chili Oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • Enough vegetable oil to reach two inches-high in a fry-safe pan

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Toast the sesame seeds. Add them to a dry, hot pan. Toast them on medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing often, until the seeds are golden brown and aromatic. Set aside.
  2. Combine the ground pork, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1 dash sesame oil, along with a few grounds of black pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cover an egg with water in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove from the heat. Place the egg in an ice bath, and allow to sit while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Coat a saute pan in olive oil, and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle with a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes until the mushrooms shrink and become tender. Set aside.
  5. Prepare the scotch eggs. Combine the flour and the wasabi powder in a bowl. Set aside. Take the egg out of the ice bath and smash the egg on both sides, slowly rolling the egg until the shell slides off. Take the pork mixture and flatten it, putting the egg inside and carefully enclosing the egg in the ground pork, until it’s covered evenly on all sides. Place the egg in the flour mixture, then the beaten egg, then the panko bread crumbs. Set aside.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a fry-safe pan – enough that the oil rises 2 inches high in the pan. To test the oil readiness, put a pinch of flour in the oil. If it begins to sizzle and brown, the oil is ready to use.
  7. Place the scotch egg in the hot oil with a slotted spoon. Turn the egg carefully throughout the cooking process, about 4 minutes total, until all sides are browned. Remove the egg from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a separate pot, and add the garlic. Saute the garlic in the oil for 3 minutes or so. Add the quart of stock, and bring to a low simmer. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the stock has concentrated slightly. Add the ramen noodles, and cook according to package instructions, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Serve the ramen in bowls, topping with the corn, Thai chilis, sauteed mushrooms, grated onion, chili oil, toasted sesame seeds, American cheese and the scotch egg, cut in half lengthwise. Serve hot.

 

Mom’s French Onion Soup

My mom makes really good French onion soup. You know the kind I’m talking about.

Served in the traditional brown ombre crock pots, you spoon into a molten cap of cheese with those golden, crispy cheese bubbles on top. The broth is piping hot, scattered with droplets of beef fat that float and slide easily into your spoon. The crispy cheese pieces that are baked onto the dish call your name as you near the bottom of the bowl.

The flavor can be incredible when you make onion soup the right way. It should be.

As with any good stock-based soup, you have to prioritize your stock. It bears repeating because sometimes I get complacent, and go with what’s convenient. By complacent, I mean using store-bought cartons. It happens more often than it should. But I figure, if I’m making French onion soup, there’s a strong chance I have time to make homemade beef stock, too.

A recipe for beef stock from Bon Appetit shows us how simple making beef stock can be. Just remember to grab a few pounds of cattle marrow bones the next time you go to the grocery store. The butcher will have them. Everything else – trust me, you already have lying around.  Celery, carrots, garlic, an onion or two? That’s it. Really!

Drawing from a sermon of mine in an earlier post on making chicken stock – don’t worry too much about getting the proportions perfect, according to some recipe. At least I don’t. The sheer act of making homemade beef stock is deserving of a high five.

French onion soup always had a special occasion vibe to it – it’s a process. That overfilled pot of onions? That’s going to cook down to almost nothing before you do anything else with it. My mom thinks of it as therapeutic cooking, and I totally agree with her. It’s a satisfying feeling seeing those heaps of onions do their thing and cook down into pure onion goodness.

So mom, how did I do?!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4.

  • 3 Spanish onions, peeled and sliced crosswise
  • 4 stems thyme, tied into a bouquet garnier (tied together with kitchen twine)
  • 6 cups beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf, dried or fresh
  • 4 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 – 4 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 baguette
  • 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 broil.
  2. Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Add the butter and allow to melt. On medium heat, sauté the onions, adding a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Add the garlic, bouquet garnier as well as the bay leaf to the pot. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the onions begin to darken and caramelize.
  3. Once the onions are a deep brown, add the Worcestershire sauce and raw flour. Cook for a couple of minutes to allow the flour to absorb into the mixture.
  4. Add the beef stock, remove the thyme bundle and bay leaf, and bring the soup to a boil.
  5. In small oven-safe bowls, ladle in the soup, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Layer enough 1 / 2 inch slices of baguette to cover the soup – 2 or 3. Top each dish with 3 / 4 to 1 cup of the Gruyere. It will melt down.
  6. Place the soup bowls on a sheet pan, and place under the broiler for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and browned.
  7. Serve hot, with extra torn baguette on the side for dipping.

Grilled Lemon & Goat Cheese Pasta Salad

The story behind this recipe can be found in Hankerings’ latest post, Country Grilling in Lexington, Virginia. I hope you enjoy!

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4.

  • 1 lb. short pasta, of your choosing
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 4 lemons, halved
  • 1 / 2 red onion, skins removed
  • 1 / 2 head garlic, skins removed, minced
  • 1 / 4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 6 oz. chevre, crumbled
  • 1 / 3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat a grill to medium-low heat (approximately 250 to 300*).
  2. Place the lemons, fruit side down, red onion, and red bell peppers on the grill. Grill for 20 minutes or so, turning the peppers and onions every 3 to 4 minutes, checking to make sure the vegetables are charred in some places, but not fully burnt, before you remove them from the grill. Grill the lemons fruit side down until they are charred, but not fully burnt.
  3. Place the red peppers in a plastic bag to steam while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  4. Boil a large pot of salted water. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, and set aside.
  5. To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk the Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, pepper, capers, and the lemon juice from the grilled lemons, adding olive oil slowly to create an emulsion. Set aside.
  6. After 15 minutes or so, remove the red peppers from the plastic bag. Cut the tops off the peppers, and carefully slice into the peppers so they are butterflied open. Remove the seeds with the back of a knife. Slice the peppers into large, bite-sized cubes. Do the same with the red onion.
  7. In a large bowl, add the drained pasta, chevre, red onion, red peppers, crumbled goat cheese, herbs and vinaigrette. Stir until the ingredients are incorporated, and the goat cheese begins to melt. Top with extra chopped herbs, if desired. Serve room temperature.