My husband’s meat market binge…

…turned out delicious.¬† ūüôā

Okay, I know I haven’t blogged in…well…months.¬† Did I mention I’m a retail manager?¬† November/December/January are a little nuts for me at work.¬†

We’ve been cooking – you know, that’s how I blow off steam! – but not taking many pics and definitely not blogging about it.¬†

But yesterday…my dear hubby, meaning well, stopped at a local meat market on his way home from work.¬†¬† He meant well.¬† He didn’t know I had already planned my Sunday off as a day full of lounging in my bathrobe and slippers, ordering pizza from that great place around the corner where everyone from the order-taker to the delivery guy¬†is Asian¬†and the pizza is totally awesome.¬†¬†

He had the best intentions.  And then he experienced his first meat market.  And went a little nuts.

Fortunately, the ground elk was already frozen in one-pound chunks, so it went directly in the freezer with the 35+ pounds of roasted Hatch chile peppers that live there.¬† I’m sure at some point they’ll merge into something delish.

The venison sausage, all $27 of it?¬† (That’s a basketball-sized chunk of sausage links, by the way.)¬† He hasn’t yet been able to articulate his intentions toward the sausage, but it seems to involve grilling at some point.¬†¬†The paper-wrapped monstrosity is¬†squatting on the bottom shelf of the fridge for now.

Then…there were the ribs.¬† Beef AND pork ribs.¬† And he bought (this is a direct quote), “four of each”.¬† So we have four huge pork ribs of unknown specific cut, and a chunk of beef with bones that he can’t exactly identify, but ‘ribs’ was definitely in the name.

Pork on the left, beef on the right

And there goes the day in the robe and slippers, just like that.  Because we have to find stuff to do with the ribs.

It started, of course, with foodnetwork.com.  And then making up our own stuff because nothing really fit what we wanted to do.  So he made a wet marinade for the beef ribs, and I made a dry rub for the pork ribs.  And we left them in the fridge.

We drove through Arby’s for a snack on the way to the SPCA (I know, that’s a HUGE non-sequitur).¬† My birthday is in 2 weeks and all I’ve asked for is a kitten (to accompany the 4 cats we already have).¬† They’re SO cute when they’re little and fuzzy…

After failing to fall irrevocably in love with 3 kittens in a row (and feeling guilty about rejecting each one), we headed for the grocery store.  You know by now, hopefully, how much I adore my dear hubby.  But he DOES leave the shopping cart in the middle of the aisle.  Repeatedly. 

I don’t understand it.¬† But I love him still.

We survived the grocery store, and were still speaking while we unloaded the groceries.

German potato salad...it has BACON!!!

We had chosen four new recipes for tonight’s meal, without any dishes we’d ever made before.¬† The menu: grilled dry-rubbed pork ribs with spicy jalapeno-honey relish; beef ribs with grilled pineapple-habanero sauce and chile oil; German potato salad; and apple/poppy seed slaw.

I’ll post recipes later.¬† For now, I’ll just say…the food rocked.¬† And it was good to get back in the kitchen with the hubby.¬†

The new mandoline is awesome!

And I LOVE my new kitchen toys!¬† Santa brought me a mandoline, a chef’s knife, and an immersion blender.

Santa outdid himself this year.¬† You should really taste these ribs…

Lambs: cute, fluffy…and delicious.

The done deal.

Every time I cook lamb, I can’t stop thinking about…how good it’s going to taste.

Sure, when¬†they’re baby animals, and whole and alive, with their fur (or wool or whatever) intact, they’re snuggly and cute and I just want to pet their soft black noses.

But when it comes to cooking…there’s not much I like better.¬† You can do so much with lamb, and there are so many choices of cuts, and they all seem to turn out delicious and juicy and I love it.

This was a total collaborative effort with the hub.¬† We’ve done lamb chops on the grill a dozen times, and he keeps wanting to try lamb burgers.¬† So today¬†was his day.¬†

The burgers themselves were his work, as well as all the grilling, and I did the tzatziki sauce, prepped the onions & mushrooms, and made the potato salad.

Grilled Spicy Lamb Burgers

Original recipe is Alan Hollister’s via foodnetwork.com; slightly altered to taste.

Ingredients:

1.25 pounds ground lamb
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sherry
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon molasses
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1.5 teaspoons red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 rolls of your choice; pita rounds, onion rolls, sesame seed buns…whatever
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Preheat grill for medium heat.

Chopped bits of yummy things

Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl.  Shape into 4 patties.

Brush patties lightly with olive oil.  Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, or until mediumish.  Top with crumbled feta immediately after removing from grill and cover patties loosely with aluminum foil to retain heat.  Rest for 5 minutes.

Brush bread lightly with olive oil and heat briefly on the grill.

Grilled Sliced Mushrooms & Onions

This one is all my own, crafted over literally dozens of attempts.¬† We love these things and put them on any meat that’s even close to red when there’s a hot grill available.

Ingredients

1 medium red onion, cut in half vertically, then cored and sliced thin
8 ounces white mushrooms, sliced thin
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Red chili flakes
Healthy splash of Worcestershire sauce

Place sliced mushrooms & onions in a medium bowl, then drizzle generously with olive oil.¬† Add salt, black pepper, & red chili flakes.¬† Add some more.¬† Splash liberally with Worcestershire sauce (don’t make them swim, just a healthy dousing).¬† Make sure they’re glistening with oil but not soggy.

Preheat grill pan or wok on grill for 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms & onions and grill for 3-5 minutes on a side or until caramelized, flipping once or twice.

Tzatziki sauce

Ingredients

8 ounces of plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chunked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh mint
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon(ish) cayenne
1/2 teaspoon(ish) red chili flakes
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Process until well-combined, taste, and adjust seasoning as needed.

Line a medium strainer with 2 layers of coffee filters.¬† Place strainer over a deep bowl and pour sauce into strainer.¬† Strain for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.¬† (The straining idea was completely the hubmeister’s; I was fine with it being watery, but he wanted to try this, and by golly, it was amazing!!¬† Thickened the sauce right up.¬† He does okay sometimes.)

Pour into sealable bowl, discarding drained liquid, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 2 hours before serving.

This is the potato salad sauce waiting to happen.

Southwestern Potato Salad

Original recipe from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, modified…well…generously.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups prepared mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Juice of 2 key limes
2 tablespoons chipotle pepper puree
1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
3 green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon cayenne
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 slices of crisped bacon (I use the pre-cooked microwaveable kind), chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste (be generous)
2 to 3 pounds red potatoes, chunked, boiled until tender, then drained and cut into smallish pieces

Potato Salad Extraordinaire!!

Combine all the ingredients except the potatoes in a medium bowl and season to taste.  Place warm potatoes in a large bowl, pour the mixture over the potatoes, and mix well.  Season again with salt & pepper to taste. 

Serve warm…and enjoy cold as leftovers.

Assembly:

Place lamb patty on bottom bun (or in pita pocket, or wherever it feels cozy and warm).  Top with grilled mushrooms & onions and find a way to get the tzatziki sauce on or in there.  Add sliced tomato if you feel the need (we left it off at the last minute as unnecessary).   Devour with potato salad and wine.

Grilled Lobster Tails with Spicy Cilantro-Lemon Vinaigrette

So, I love lobster.¬† More than any seafood except crab legs, and they’re often just too much dang trouble – and too messy – to eat, so I go with the lobster.¬† This was our first attempt at grilling lobster, and we both loved it!

Ingredients:

8 (6 to 8 oz.) lobster tails (the frozen kind are fine)
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped, about 3/4 cup chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon (or the whole thing if you’re feeling frisky)
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon (or more) fresh chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon (or more) cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon (or more) red chili pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a sharp knife, cut each lobster tail lengthwise through the shell into 2 pieces.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to grill the lobsters.

Shortly before grilling, in a non-reactive mixing bowl combine the tomatoes, 8 tablespoons of the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, cilantro, cayenne, red chili flakes, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Preheat a grill to medium-high.¬† If you’re like us, that’s whenever the food is ready to grill and the coals look somewhat decent.

Lightly brush the lobster tails on the cut side with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Place the tails, cut side down, on the grill and cook for 3 minutes.  Rotate the tails 45 degrees and cook for 3 minutes longer.  Rotate 45 degrees again so the tails are now cut side up and cook until lobster is just cooked through, 1 to 3 minutes longer.  During these last few minutes, spoon some of the vinaigrette over the cut tail meat so that it drizzles down into the lobster shells.

Serve the lobster tails with more of the vinaigrette drizzled over the meat.  Yum.