Posts Tagged ‘sauce’

I grill year-round. I’ll stand in 3 feet of snow to get smoked ribs just right, if I have to. Through years of tireless experimentation, I’ve come up with a barbecue sauce that I can be proud of. I prefer a slightly sweet and tangy barbecue sauce,  and it works really well with pork or chicken.

What makes this sauce special is the citrus. I originally used lemon juice for this recipe and it was good. Lime juice was better. Adding lime zest: even better than that. I tried orange juice and zest, even Meyer lemon. But the Big Daddy of ’em all was grapefruit. I was craving my barbecue sauce one day and only had a grapefruit in the fridge. I thought: how bad could this be? Turned out to be the perfect foil to the sweetness of the brown sugar and ketchup.

Try this sauce on your next batch of chicken wings or even a whole bird. Cook the bird almost all the way through, brushing the sauce on for the last 20 minutes so that the sugars don’t burn. Then just try to stop eating it!

Chix BBQ

 

ALZ GRAPEFRUIT BARBECUE SAUCE
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
Juice and zest of 1 grapefruit
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
(no salt)

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes on low, until slightly thickened.

saucey

How could a sauce that’s inspired by what most people claim to be the best barbecue joint in the USA, Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, Texas, be bad? People line up early in the morning and wait as much as four hours for a slab of brisket from this place. I’ll get there one day. In the meantime, I have the sauce…

 

2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup water
6 tablespoons cider vinegar
6 tablespoons white vinegar
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

 

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. If you store it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll stay good for a few months.

 

 

It’s National Pizza Day and National Bagel Day. But since I don’t have a pizza bagel recipe–yet–I’ll stick with pizza.

There are few foods that people take as personally as pizza. Tell someone that your pizza place is better than their pizza place, and chances are you’ll start a fight. Well, my pizza place is better than your pizza place, because I make it at home. Besides, I can run faster than you.

I’m not going to say that much of the pizza that I’ve tried here in Rhode Island is mediocre, but I will say that I was born in Brooklyn and grew up working in many New York pizza places in my youth. So yes, I do have a very strong opinion on what I think makes a good or bad pizza. And, alas, I’ve tried, but a good gluten-free pizza is not yet within reach. The frozen ones you get in stores are passable, but making one at home has been nothing short of a disaster.

My homemade pizza is all about the basics. The better quality my original ingredients are, the better my pizza will be:

 

The dough…

The key ingredient is 00 flour, and it can be found in specialty stores,  or online. Ratios for this recipe depend on the humidity in my kitchen on any given day, but my basic pizza dough recipe is as follows:

4–5 cups 00 flour
1 cup tepid water
1 Tablespoon salt
1 packet Italian pizza yeast
a squirt of extra virgin olive oil

I mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, then slowly add the water as it mixes. After the ingredients are well mixed, and the dough pulls from the side of the bowl, I remove it to a floured board, where I knead the dough by hand for another 5 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, shaping it into a ball. I rub a little olive oil over the ball of dough, place it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let it rise for 2 hours, punching it down after that, and letting it rise another 2 hours again.

The sauce…

I’ve written a previous blog about real and fake cans of San Marzano tomatoes. I feel that San Marzanos make the best sauce, but not all cans of San Marzanos are created equal. The only way you can be guaranteed you have a real can of these beauties, grown in volcanic Italian soil in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius, is by the D.O.P. designation on the can. (D.O.P. stands for “Denominazione d’Origine Protetta,” and signifies that it’s the real deal.) Anything else that says San Marzano may not be.

San Marzanos are so amazing, that all I do is puree them in a food processor, pour the sauce into a pan, and let it reduce until it has thickened. No spices or additions of any kind.

The cheese…

I don’t need to go super-fancy with mozzarella di bufala (cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo) …but I don’t use the mass-produced supermarket stuff, either. Whole Foods has fresh mozarella from Maplebrook Farms in Vermont, and it is excellent.

The toppings…

A matter of choice. I wrote a while ago about how I make my own guanciale, a cured meat that comes from pork cheeks. Chopped and fried, that is one of my daughter’s favorite pizza toppings.

But my signature pizza that wows my dinner guests is my marinated beef tenderloin and fried chive blossom pizza. I marinate and grill a piece of beef tenderloin, slicing it thin. And in the springtime, when my chive plants are budding like crazy, I snip the blossoms before they open and place them in Ziploc freezer bags to use all year long. When it’s time, I grab a handful of the blossoms and fry them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and sprinkle them over the top of the beef tenderloin pizza. A touch of Fleur de Sel on top seals the deal.

My signature marinated beef tenderloin and chive blossom pizza.

The oven…

Many professional pizza ovens reach a temperature of 1000 degrees. My home oven only reaches 500, but it does the trick. I do use a pizza stone, and place it on the center rack of the oven, and let it heat up thoroughly before sliding a pizza onto it for cooking.

Recently, I’ve also started cooking pizzas on my barbecue grill (using a special stone for the grill) to add a smoky component. The grill gets hotter than my home oven, which is great, but it’s obviously a more work to set-up and clean.

 

My favorite pizza?

There are only a few pizzerias that I know of—all in NYC–that make pizza montanara, and for my money, it’s the best I’ve ever had. It’s a small, rustic pizza margherita using mozzarella di bufala and simple tomato sauce, garnished with a basil leaf. What makes it magical is the fact that after they stretch the dough–but before they put the toppings on it–they fry the dough in deep fryer with olive oil for just a minute. It puffs up like a pillow. Then they put the toppings on and quickly bake it in a very hot oven. The end result is a non-greasy, absolutely heavenly pizza cloud…the most delicious I’ve ever had. If you’re in New York, go to Pizzarte on W. 55th. Great montanara and other Italian dishes.

I’ve actually had some great success recreating this pizza at home, frying the dough in a very large skillet of olive oil. The challenge is removing this giant piece of dough out of the skillet and into a pizza pan without dripping olive oil all over my stove and setting my house on fire! So far, so good!

The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every burger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend the flavors.

There are few foods that people take as personally as pizza. Tell someone that your pizza place is better than their pizza place, and chances are you’ll start a fight. Well, my pizza place is better than your pizza place, because I make it at home. Besides, I can run faster than you.

I’m not going to say that much of the pizza that I’ve tried here in Rhode Island is mediocre, but I was born in Brooklyn and grew up working in many New York pizza places in my youth. So I do have a very strong opinion on what I think makes a good or bad pizza.

My homemade pizza is all about the basics. The better quality my original ingredients are, the better my pizza will be:

 

The dough…

The key ingredient is 00 flour, and it can be found in specialty stores,  or online. My favorite new source is Central Milling in Logan, Utah. They make an organic 00 flour that makes for a great crust. Ratios for this recipe depend on the humidity in my kitchen on any given day, but my basic pizza dough recipe is as follows:

6 cups (16 oz.) 00 flour
1 1/3 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast
a squirt of extra virgin olive oil

I mix all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor with a dough blade, then slowly add the water as it mixes. After the ingredients are well mixed, and the dough pulls from the side of the bowl, I remove it to a floured board, where I knead the dough by hand for another 5 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic, shaping it into a ball. I rub a little olive oil over the ball of dough, place it in a bowl covered with plastic wrap, and let it rise for at least 2 hours, punching it down after that, and letting it rise at least another 2 hours again.

The sauce…

I’ve written before about real and fake cans of San Marzano tomatoes. I feel that San Marzanos make the best sauce, but not all cans of San Marzanos are created equal. The only way you can be guaranteed you have a real can of these beauties, grown in volcanic Italian soil in the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius, is by the D.O.P. designation on the can. (D.O.P. stands for “Denominazione d’Origine Protetta,” and signifies that it’s the real deal.) Anything else that says San Marzano may not be.

San Marzanos are so amazing, that all I do is puree them in a food processor, pour the sauce into a pan, and let it reduce until it has thickened. No spices or additions of any kind.

The cheese…

I don’t need to go super-fancy with mozzarella di bufala (cheese made from the milk of the water buffalo) …but I don’t use the mass-produced supermarket stuff, either. A nice hunk of your favorite fresh mozarella is all you need.

The toppings…

A matter of choice. I wrote a while ago about how I make my own guanciale, a cured meat that comes from pork cheeks. Chopped and fried, that is one of my daughter’s favorite pizza toppings.

But my signature pizza that wows my dinner guests is my marinated beef tenderloin and fried chive blossom pizza. I marinate and grill a piece of beef tenderloin, slicing it thin. And in the springtime, when my chive plants are budding like crazy, I snip the blossoms before they open and place them in freezer bags to use all year long. When it’s time, I grab a handful of the blossoms and fry them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and sprinkle them over the top of the beef tenderloin pizza. A touch of Fleur de Sel on top seals the deal.

My signature marinated beef tenderloin and chive blossom pizza.

The oven…

Many professional pizza ovens reach a temperature of 1000 degrees. My home oven only reaches 500, but it does the trick. I do use a pizza stone, and place it on the center rack of the oven, and let it heat up thoroughly for about 45 minutes before sliding a pizza onto it for cooking.

Recently, I’ve also started cooking pizzas on my barbecue grill (using a special stone for the grill) to add a smoky component. The grill gets hotter than my home oven, which is great, but it’s obviously a more work to set-up and clean.

 

My favorite pizza?

There are only a few pizzerias that I know of—all in NYC–that make pizza montanara, and for my money, it’s the best I’ve ever had. It’s a small, rustic pizza margherita using mozzarella di bufala and simple tomato sauce, garnished with a basil leaf. What makes it magical is the fact that after they stretch the dough–but before they put the toppings on it–they fry the dough in deep fryer with olive oil for just a minute. It puffs up like a pillow. Then they put the toppings on and quickly bake it in a very hot oven. The end result is a non-greasy, absolutely heavenly pizza cloud…the most delicious I’ve ever had.

I’ve had some great success recreating this pizza at home, frying the dough in a very large skillet of olive oil. The challenge is removing the dough out of the skillet and into a pizza pan without dripping olive oil all over my stove and setting my house on fire! So far, so good!

We’re home in Rhode Island for Christmas this year. Usually, we go to New York and my Lithuanian family celebrates Christmas Eve with loads of herring, smoked eel, smelts, potato pancakes, and a family favorite: porcini mushroom pierogis or grybiniai koldunai. The table is loaded with food, and we feast.

This year, it’s a bit simpler here in Rhode Island: one main dish. For one thing, I don’t know anyone that supplies quality herring or smoked eel around here. And secondly, the one dish I’m making is simply fantastic.

One of the best dishes we’ve ever had on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece, is lobster with pasta. It sounds so simple, bit it’s one of those dishes that takes time to prepare, because the lobster sauce they make is made to order…time consuming but so spectacular.

Cooked lobster LTL

To try to recreate that lobster sauce we had in Santorini, I start with a kick-ass lobster stock. It’s simple but flavorful:

 

Stock ingredients:

 

2 1-1/2 lb. lobsters, slightly under-cooked

12 cups water

1/2 onion, chopped into quarters

3 celery stalks, chopped into quarters

1 carrot, chopped into quarters

 

Under-cook (steam or boil, whatever your favorite method) the lobsters, less than the usual 8 minutes, or so. Remove the lobster meat from the shells and set aside.

Place the cleaned lobster shells, claws, tails, legs and bodies in a large pot. (You don’t want any of the internal organs or tommaley.) Add the water, onion, celery and carrot. Set heat on high. Crush the lobster shells with potato masher as it cooks. Cook until it is reduced by half.

Strain the stock, discarding the lobster shells and veggies. Bring the stock back to the heat and reduce until all you have left is 1 cup of intense stock.

 

Pasta with lobster sauce

Lobster sauce ingredients:

 

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

pinch of Italian red pepper flakes

teaspoon parsley

extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup lobster stock

1/4 cup San Marzano tomato sauce (see below)

splash of white wine (I use Alice white Chardonnay)

salt and pepper

 

 Also:

 

reserved lobster meat

1/2 lb. cooked pasta

 

Add some olive oil to a large pan and saute the onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and parsley.

Add 1/4 cup of the lobster stock and let it cook, reducing by half. Add the other 1/4 cup of lobster stock and the tomato sauce. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and add the white wine. Cook for a few minutes more.

Cook the pasta and drain it even before it reaches the al dente stage. Place the pasta in the pan with the sauce, heating and coating thoroughly. Add the reserved lobster pieces and warm them through, tossing in the sauce. Serve immediately.

For the San Marzano tomato sauce: I take a can of San Marzano tomatoes and place it in a food processor or Vita-Mix and blend. Pour into a pan and reduce over medium heat by half, until sauce has thickened.

One of the most incredible dishes I’ve had on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece, is lobster with pasta. It’s one of those dishes that takes time to prepare, because the pasta lobster sauce they make is a labor of love…time consuming but so spectacular.

Cooked lobster LTL

I often have friends over for dinner, but when I prepared this dish for them recently, it was the first time they all licked their plates clean!

To try to replicate that lobster sauce we had in Santorini, I started with a kick-ass lobster stock. It’s simple but flavorful:

Stock ingredients:

clean, empty claws, tails and bodies from two 1-1/2 lb. lobsters (use the legs, too)

12 cups water

1/2 onion

3 celery stalks

1 carrot

Place all ingredients in a large pot and set on high heat. Crush lobster shells with potato masher. Cook until it is reduced by half.

Strain the stock, discarding the lobster shells and veggies. Bring the stock back to the heat and reduce until all you have left is 1 cup of intense stock.

Now that you have the stock, you can make the sauce!

Pasta with lobster sauce

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

pinch of Italian red pepper flakes

teaspoon parsley

extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup lobster stock

1/4 cup San Marzano tomato sauce (see below)

splash of white wine (I use Alice white Chardonnay)

salt and pepper

1/2 lb. cooked pasta

Add some olive oil to a pan and saute the onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and parsley.

Add 1/4 cup of the lobster stock and let it cook, reducing by half. Add the other 1/4 cup of lobster stock and the tomato sauce. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and add the white wine. Cook for a few minutes more.

Cook pasta and drain even before it reaches the al dente stage. Place the pasta in the pan with the sauce, heating and coating thoroughly. Serve immediately.

For the San Marzano tomato sauce: I take a can of San Marzano tomatoes and place it in a food processor or Vita-Mix and blend until I get sauce. Pour into a pan and reduce over medium heat by half, until sauce has thickened.

Sometimes you take a couple of recipes you have in your file and you combine them to get delicious results. That’s what happened when I took my basic pork dry rub and then added my version of the Franklin barbecue sauce, as featured in a previous blog.

The ribs were intense, delicious, and did not require a smoker to reach fall-off-the-bone amazingness…

 

Intense ribs LTL

 

Alz Pork Rub

 

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon paprika

 

Combine ingredients and sprinkle liberally onto meat, rubbing it in well.

 

The Barbecue Sauce

 

Ingredients:

2 cups ketchup

3/4 cup water

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

6 tablespoons white vinegar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

 

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. If you store it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll stay good for a few months.

 

To cook the ribs…

 

Rub the ribs with the dry rub on all sides and wrap in aluminum foil. If you have a lot of ribs, it’s okay to stack them on each other for now. Place the wrapped ribs on a sheet pan and cook in a 250-degree oven for about 4 hours.

After 4 hours, unwrap the ribs and pour off any fat. Lay the ribs flat in one layer, uncovered, on the sheet pan and brush on all sides with the barbecue sauce. Cook for 1 hour more.

 

Through years of tireless experimentation, I’ve come up with a barbecue sauce that I can be proud of. I prefer a slightly sweet and tangy barbecue sauce,  and it works really well with chicken.

What makes this sauce special is the citrus. I originally used lemon juice for this recipe and it was good. Lime juice was better. Adding lime zest: even better than that. I tried orange juice and zest: a little too sweet. Meyer lemon: very good. But the Big Daddy of ’em all: grapefruit. I was craving my barbecue sauce one day and only had a grapefruit in the fridge. I thought: how bad could this be? Turned out to be the perfect foil to the sweetness of the brown sugar and ketchup.

Try this sauce on your next batch of chicken wings or even a whole bird. Cook the bird almost all the way through, brushing the sauce on for the last 20 minutes so that the sugars don’t burn. Then just try to stop eating it!

Chix BBQ

 

ALZ GRAPEFRUIT BARBECUE SAUCE

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Juice and zest of 1 grapefruit

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup dried onion flakes

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Frank’s Red Hot

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

(no salt)

 

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes on low, or until slightly thickened.

saucey

How could a sauce that’s inspired by what most people claim to be the best barbecue joint in the USA, Franklin’s Barbecue in Austin, Texas, be bad? If you’ve seen Chef Nobu standing in a long line, waiting for his barbecue in that American Express commercial, then you’ve seen Franklin’s. People line up early in the morning and wait as much as four hours for a slab of brisket from this place. I’ll get there one day. In the meantime, I have the sauce…

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups ketchup

3/4 cup water

6 tablespoons cider vinegar

6 tablespoons white vinegar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

 

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. If you store it in an airtight container in the fridge, it’ll stay good for a few months.

 

 

The inspiration for this sauce was my attempt to replicate the “Shack Sauce” they use at Shake Shack , a high-end burger joint owned by restaurateur Danny Meyer. Since it opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, Shake Shack has expanded to many other locations around the world.

I don’t know if I captured the Shack Sauce secret. But I do know that my Awesomesauce makes every cheeseburger I grill taste amazing. It’s also fantastic for shrimp, crab or lobster salad…a dip for veggies or boiled shrimp…a dressing for tacos…and great on salads.

Awesomesauce

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon ketchup

1 Tablespoon yellow mustard

1 tablespoon dill pickle relish

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate covered for a few hours to blend flavors.

One of the most incredible dishes I’ve had on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece, is lobster with pasta. It’s one of those dishes that takes time to prepare, because the pasta lobster sauce they make is a labor of love…time consuming and so spectacular.

To try to replicate that lobster sauce we had in Santorini, I started with a kick-ass lobster stock. It’s simple but flavorful:

Stock ingredients:

clean, empty claws, tails and bodies from two 1-1/2 lb. lobsters

12 cups water

1/2 onion

3 celery stalks

1 carrot

Place all ingredients in a large pot and set on high heat. Crush lobster shells with potato masher. Cook until it is reduced by half.

Strain the stock, discarding the lobster shells and veggies. Bring the stock back to the heat and reduce until all you have left is 1 cup of intense stock.

Cooking the stock

Cooking the stock

Now that I have the stock, I can make the sauce!

Sauce ingredients:

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

pinch of Italian red pepper flakes

teaspoon parsley

extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup lobster stock

1/4 cup San Marzano tomato sauce (see below)

splash of white wine (I use Alice white Chardonnay)

salt and pepper

1/2 lb. cooked pasta

Add some olive oil to a pan and saute the onions until translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and cook for 10 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes and parsley.

Add 1/4 cup of the lobster stock and let it cook, reducing by half. Add the other 1/4 cup of lobster stock and the tomato sauce. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and add the white wine. Cook for a few minutes more.

Cook pasta and drain even before it reaches the al dente stage. Place the pasta in the pan with the sauce, heating and coating thoroughly. Serve immediately.

For the San Marzano tomato sauce: I take a can of San Marzano tomatoes and place it in a food processor or Vita-Mix and blend until I get sauce. Pour into a pan and reduce over medium heat by half, until sauce has thickened.