Category Archives: Technique

How to Make a Burger Like a Man

Slightly misogynist title. Sorry. This is Mancookgood after all. Do I get extra credit for knowing what misogyny meant before the election?

This burger is inspired by a legend from Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Apparently Dean was known for his burgers to the point of being asked to share his recipe. Frank, the old scamp, had to reply with his own recipe and hilarity ensued. 


So, I present an alternate to my mildly offensive title. 

“My Modern Take on Dean Martin’s Famous Burger”

Doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well, does it? 

Well for most of the country grilling season is over. It’s time to heat up your cast iron skillet and make yourself a proper cheese burger. 


Makes: 4 burgers

Prep time: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cast iron or heavy skillet
  • 3/4 lb of 85% ground beef
  • 1/4 pound ground pork
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese 
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns ranging anywhere from cheap to brioche. Do not use something too bready or dense. 

Optional

  • Tomato
  • Lettuce
  • Mayo, ketchup and mustard
  • 1 bottle of hoppy IPA, preferably one made locally and not recently purchased by InBev

Method:

First, open the beer and take a sip. 

Mix the meat just enough to combine the beef and pork. Do not over mix, it will make the meat tougher. 

Turn the stovetop to medium high. Let the pan heat up while you make patties, make them relatively thin and slightly larger than your bun. 

Assertively salt and pepper the patties on the up side. Place that side down into a sizzling hot skillet. Salt and pepper the up side of the patty. 

Take a sip of your beer. Clean up some of your mess. (3-4 minutes)

When the down side is charred, flip the patty, place an aggressive amount of extra sharp cheddar on top of each burger and turn off the heat. Cover the pan loosely in some aluminum foil and let the cheese melt. (4-5 minutes)

Place on a bun with your favorite condiments. 

If you use sliced tomato, please salt and pepper that tomato before eating.  

Eat your burger. Listen to Frank and Dean while drinking your beer. 

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White Chili with Ground Chicken

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It’s cold, it’s gray and you’re bringing something to a Super Bowl party. Not only do we all want to eat better than fried buffalo wings and 7 layer dip but there has to be something out there more compelling than stuffed potato skins, right? Look no farther. This healthy and interesting dish will check all the boxes and be the star of your Super Bowl Party spread.

 

Protip! Bring sturdy disposable bowls to the party!

White Chicken Chili 

Serves 8 Cook Time 60-90 minutes

  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1 large white onion
  • 2 cans of cannellini beans
  • 2 small cans of mild green chiles
  • or for heat, 2 jalapenos
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or kale
  • 1 large box (4 cups) of chicken or turkey broth

Spices

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Cumin
  • Garlic Powder
  • all purpose flour (optional)

Garnish

  • Chopped Scallions
  • Cotija, Queso Fresco or Shredded Jack Cheese
  • 2 avocado

Dice your onion and saute in hot olive oil on medium high. Add the ground chicken and cook until onions are soft and chicken is starting to brown. Break the chicken into small pieces as it cooks. Add a layer of salt, pepper, cumin and garlic powder. Sprinkle a heavy pinch of flour over the mixture here. Make sure to break it up and mix it in thoroughly.

Dice the bell pepper and add at any time. drain the cans of chiles or dice the jalapenos and add them in. If you go the jalapeno route, know that more seeds = more heat.

Drain and rinse the beans in cold water using a colander or strainer. Add once the chicken is cooked and onions are soft. Layer in some more seasoning here. 

Pour the broth over the mixture and increase heat to high. Once boiling reduce heat to a simmer and cover. 

Set a timer for 45 minutes and stir occasionally. You want a little broth but not as much as a soup so when the 45 minutes are up it’s time to taste and tweak. Add the greens to the simmering chili. If there is too much liquid increase heat to high and boil off some of that water content. Taste again and again until the flavor of the cumin, beans and chicken balance each other. You want the broth to balance the starchiness of the beans with the sharpness of the chilis and richness of the spice. Keep tweaking it until it sings. For last minute heat try cayenne pepper here. Add a dash, stir and taste. Repeat until you have the spice level right where you want it.

Add diced green onions, 1/4 avocado per serving and crumbled cotija cheese to finish the bowl. Toast up some homemade tortilla chips to really bring it home.

Happy Super Bowl!

 

 

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Stuffing Pancakes and Turkey Hash

The leftover breakfast of champions.

This has become my signature leftover. Last years version is still my most liked picture on Instagram. My wife talks about it all year long. It’s easy, it’s interesting and it tastes like a million bucks. If you listened to me on the Thanksgiving special podcast of the Filibuster Freestyle you’ve got that extra stuffing to go with the rest. Smart.

Ingredients 

Serves 4. Cook time 15 minutes

  • 4 spoonfuls leftover stuffing
  • 4 spoonfuls leftover mashed potatoes
  • 4 spoonfuls grated Parmesan
  • Chopped leftover turkey
  • 2 spoonfuls of leftover gravy
  • 1-2 eggs per person

Get a pot of water boiling on the stove. Set your eggs on the counter.

Mix the stuffing, mashed potatoes and Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Break the filling into equal sized balls and press them between your hands to create patties.

Melt some butter in a pan on medium high heat. Cook the patties until browned on one side and flip.

At this point the water should be boiling. Gently lower the eggs in with a spoon and set a timer for 5 minutes. This will give you a little leeway with the yolks. Lower the heat to medium high.

Use a spatula to move the patties to the plate.

Toss the chopped turkey into hot butter with a scoop or two of gravy. Medium heat.

Your egg timer should go off in the middle of the hash. You’ve got about 30 seconds more until the yolk is perfectly soft. Remove from heat, pour most of the water out and fill the pan with cold water from the sink. This will stop the cook and make them easier to handle.

Using a spoon, crack the shell of the egg near the top. Work the spoon under the shell between the membrane and the white. Carefully slide the spoon around the egg, removing the shell as you go.

Finish up the turkey hash and place the finished egg on top. Salt and pepper the egg.

Leftovers like a boss. Email me pictures A mancookgood@gmail.com or tag me on Instagram!

 

 

 

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Eggs Baked In Avocado

Eggs Baked in Avocado

Some beautiful genius deserves credit for this. If I had the time I would bravely sift through years of Instagram and peel back layers of Pinterest until just one picture remained.

Maybe what I’m searching for goes beyond the internet… I picture a dusty crawlspace with shoe boxes of family photos.  An elderly woman pushing out words loud enough to hear through the floor, “Florence used to do that I swear! The kids loved it!”

When that day comes I will give credit where credit is due. Until then, that hero will remain unnamed, safe in the knowledge that they made the world a better place.

Breakfast is easily the best meal. First of all there’s coffee, that’s awesome. That’s a blog post alone. Shoot, making the perfect cup of coffee is an entire industry. I’ll leave it be. For now.

Then, amongst the cacophony of choices, there is the humble chicken’s egg. It rises like the phoenix above all matters of parfaits and home made muesli bars. A perfectly prepared egg is easily the third most photographed thing on the internet. Check out #eggporn for a good time.

One of the things I love about this dish is that the potatoes are used to keep the avocados from tipping over during the cook. Practical engineering in the kitchen. I think. I’m not an engineer.

This all  leads us to a remarkably simple and elevated way to serve a pair of eggs. Perfect these and your lady friend might stick around for all of Sunday Funday.

Avocado Egg Ingredients

Serves 2 Takes 35 minutes

  • 4 chicken eggs
  • 2 large ripe Avocados
  • 2 medium sized red potatoes
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • hot sauce, preferably Tapatio or Cholula (or minced onion, or a dash of cheese, or all of the above)
  • Salt and Pepper

Preheat to 400f / 205c

Start by dicing your potatoes and tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper. Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and get them in the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

Get to work on the avocado. Slice in half and remove the seed.

Using a spoon, scoop out enough avocado to fit the volume of the egg inside. Might be more than you think, at least two spoonfuls.

Scooped Avocado

Splash a pinch of salt and pepper on the avocado and wait out the timer on the potatoes.

Once those are half done, using a good potholder, take the sheet pan out of the oven and push the potatoes around so you can set the avocados on the sheet without them tipping and rolling around. Crack one egg into each half an avocado. Have a small bowl standing by in case you start to overflow and panic. Just pour the egg into the bowl and scoop a little more avo out.

Into the oven

Once the avocados are filled and propped up, dash some hot sauce on them and put them back in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.

Slice up that tomato and drizzle with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Set that up with the excess avocado on your serving plates.

When the 15 minutes are up pull out the pan and take a look. The whites should be set and the yolks still soft. The air bubbles in the yolk cook translucent, don’t be fooled by the clear. I usually poke the white with a fork.

Finished!

Remove from oven, dash of salt and pepper on each. Serve with the fresh tomatoes and roasted potatoes.

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Chard and Chickpeas in Lemon Garlic Sauce

Chard and Chickpeas in Lemon Garlic Sauce

Inspiration struck at dinner the other night, my wife and I were celebrating her return from a trip to the east coast and opted for some pasta. She allows us a carb waiver from time to time and this particular night we really went after it, having bread and house made pasta at an excellent restaurant in Culver City, CA called Bucato. Their ever changing menu featured a dish that was essentially just chard and garbanzo beans with a lemon butter sauce. It’s simplicity was striking and richness of flavor impressive enough for me to tackle the concept at home, albeit with substantially less butter and salt I’m sure. Do not be intimidated by the use of the word “sauce”. It is merely a mix of liquids naturally present in the cook and heated until it reduces a bit. Nothing major here! This is a great way to take advantage of the flood of in season greens that is soon to be upon us. Try it! Substitute chard for spinach or kale if more handy. Add a splash of white wine to the sauce if you’d like, don’t forget to splash some in your glass too!

Chard and Chickpeas in a Lemon Garlic Sauce

This plus some broth is all it takes

This plus some broth is all it takes

4 Servings, 20-30 minutes

  • 8-10 full leafs of chard, rinsed and chopped down.
  • 1 large shallot (diced)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth (1/2 of one of those standard sized boxes)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (rinsed)
  • 6-8 halved cherry or grape tomatoes (or one medium sized tomato chopped)
  • 1 handful of chopped walnuts

Rinse and dry your greens, chop them into chunks and put in a bowl. Set aside. Juice the two lemons and remove the seeds.

Take a large skillet, put it on medium and toast your walnuts. A few minutes on the heat, give them a stir and a shake, a few more minutes. Set aside and wipe out the pan with a wad of paper towels. (Careful, hot!)

Dice up your shallots, garlic and chop the tomato. Pour olive oil into the skillet and let heat up a few minutes on medium high. If you really want to get this to a restaurant type flavor profile use butter and olive oil. Butter is amazing. It’s also kind of bad for us. Olive oil only tonight. Add the shallots to the heat and let them bloom. Smells good… that’ll get your neighbors attention. Salt and pepper it.

make the neighbors jealous!

make the neighbors jealous!

Once they are starting to soften, add the garlic and tomatoes. Pour in a splash of the chicken stock and let it reach a boil. After a few minutes of this add the rinsed garbanzos and stir. Add more broth in batches, a little at a time. Give the beans 5 minutes on medium high heat and add the green chard. Pour in half the lemon juice, stir and cover. Taste as you go, have a spoon nearby dedicated to the purpose.

We're about halfway there

We’re about halfway there

The chard will reduce pretty quickly. After 5 minutes covered, stir it up, add more broth and keep the cover off.  At this point it’s almost come together. Add the rest of the lemon juice and pour in any remaining broth. Turn the heat up to high and let the water content steam off. The liquid will become a sauce right before your eyes. Add salt and pepper to taste, you want the liquid to be rich in the flavors of the lemon, garlic and chard.

Take off the heat. Serve over pasta, rice or chicken. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the mixture. We ate ours spooned over quinoa with sliced chicken breast on the side. A delicious and simple splash of seasonal gourmet… at home… in under a half an hour.

***Chickpeas? Garbanzo beans?? What’s the difference? (There is none!)***

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Texas Style Chili

I added Mango. Sacrilege I know. Sue me.

I added Mango. Sacrilege I know. Sue me.

Once you attach the words “Texas Style” to something you’re potentially stepping into a fight. Let’s get this out of the way. I define “Texas style Chili” as beef chili with lots of liquid and no beans. We could argue chunks versus ground and toppings all day but the bottom line is the same. Meat, tomatoes, onions and spice.

If I’m wrong I’m wrong. Hell, I grew up in Massachusetts. Massachusetts? Don’t you mean Taxachusetts?!?

Sorry. At least it’s not Newww York Cittyyy!!!! (Pace Picante Salsa was not used in the making of this chili)

I’m a traditionalist at heart, so here’s my Texas style chili with Mexican cheese and mango. (MEXICO!) (MANGO?!?) Easy and delicious, it will feed a room full of cowboys and city folk alike. Ok, maybe not a traditionalist. A thief. An artist. Who’s to say the difference anyway.

Mango… well mango is in season. The sweetness and texture really contrast the spice beautifully. Cotija cheese or queso fresco is crumbled and chewy and salty and delicious. They’re easy to find in Mexican supermarkets but if you’re not near any just toss in some sharp cheddar. Fresh green onions give a pop of freshness and avocado is… well avocado. It’s good on almost everything. Try it.

Texas Style Chili 

Serves 8 Cook time approximately 2-3 hours

  • 2 pounds of ground beef (or turkey, lamb, bison…)
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 1 entire bulb of garlic
  • 2x large cans of whole tomatoes
  • 2x cans of pureed tomatoes
  • 2 large bottles of a fine American Pale Ale
  • Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt

Toppings

  • Mango
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Green onions
  • Avocado
  • Lime juice
Serves 8.

Serves 8.

First things first. Open one of the bottles of beer and pour yourself a glass. Have a sip. Get a big cutting board out and a big soup pot on the stove. Splash some olive oil in the pot, enough to coat the bottom with a thin to medium layer. Get the heat on medium.

Chop up your onions and jalapenos. If you love the spice, add more seeds than not. If you want to manage the heat more on the back end keep most of the seeds out. Add it all into the pot.

Let the onions soften and get to work on the garlic. Peel and chop all the cloves in the bulb and add them all at once to the onions and peppers. Give that a few minutes to work. Add your first *big* pinches of cumin, salt and chili powder. Seriously, don’t be shy. You’re feeding 8 people a dish known for it’s rich flavors. You’ll be spicing again though so don’t worry about guessing the perfect amount. Just get your onions coated in spice and salt for a nice base.

Now add the meat. Mix it every here and there until its browned. Open all your cans of tomatoes while it cooks. 

turkey works too!

turkey works too!

Once the meat is browned, add more spice. Big pinches.

Now pour in all the tomatoes and tomato sauce. 

Open your second bottle of beer and pour the whole thing in the pot. Continue to drink your other bottle.

pour yourself a glass

pour yourself a glass

Put the lid on, turn the heat to medium high and clean up a little. When it’s boiling, 10-20 minutes, turn the heat down to medium and get that cover back on.

Relax. The chili is working. It’s got a hard hat, a safety vest and a lunch pail. Let the chili do it’s job. All you have to do is stir every here and there. Go watch the game, spend time with your people. Nothing to see here. Watch the crowds start to smell the air and get hungry.

After two hours of this, take your first taste. It’s…All… Happening!!!!!

Add more spices. If you want heat that slowly warms you up add one dash of cayenne per person. Work on that formula if you want more or less.

As we approach the three hour mark keep tasting. Add salt, cumin and chili powder in batches until it’s right. Turn off the heat and let the flavors sit.

Now prep your toppings and put them in nice little bowls. Chopped mango, broken down cotija cheese. Slice the green onions and break down your avocado.

When the crowd is about to storm the gates, release them upon your feast. Make sure they add the mango too.

Then open a window. You’ll have to trust me on that one.

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Minty Mango Salsa

mango salsa

Homemade salsa is one of those things that may seem intimidating but is really quite simple. I made this salsa to accompany a Spicy Shrimp Pretzel Roll sandwich but you can use it for almost anything. The base principles behind it can be adapted in countless ways and is a great example of one of my core philosophies of home cooking. Mango is in season right now so it’s cheap and extra delicious. The sweetness adds a nice contrast to spice and heat.

Minty Mango Salsa

4-6 servings. Takes 10-20 minutes

  • 1 Mango
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 fresh jalapeno
  • 2 limes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Start by breaking down your ripe mango. Here’s a great video tutorial if you don’t get a lot of practice. They can be kind of tricky, especially if you don’t get your first cut right.

Chop up your cucumber into similar sized chunks as your mango. Ribbon the green onions, about half of the bunch. Do the same with the mint leaves. 

minty fresh

Use as much jalapeno as you desire. The fresh ones can vary in heat and everyone has a different tolerance. The more seeds you put in the more spice there will be.

Combine everything in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of both limes over the mix and add a dash of oil. Two big pinches of sea salt and a few cranks on a pepper mill. 

mango salsa pre mix

Stir it up. If you want to get fancy you can toss it in a blender and pulse it a few times.

Before you serve, have a taste or two. You’re trying to balance the water content of the cucumber with lime and salt, so if it’s a little bland or watery add a little of each until you can taste mango, acid and salt equally.

Refrigerate until service.

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Perfectly Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable. You can grill it, steam it, roast it, purée it, sautte it, make steaks with it, soups, stocks, steaks, oh my.

Sorry. Little bit of Bubba Gump there.

Outside of the emerging vegetable movement in some innovative restaurants these days, cauliflower has been relegated to icky status. Over steamed, farty smelling cauliflower mixed in with some sorry ass carrots and onions.

No wonder so many people think they don’t like it.

Try this on for size.

  • One head cauliflower. (Does your store have Purple?!)
  • One lemon
  • One half handful of almonds
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil

Turn the oven on 425.

Break down the cauliflower into small sized pieces and toss them in a large bowl. The more uniform the chunks the better. The florets are where the money is at so focus your efforts on them. When that’s finished either set aside the stalks for vegetable stock or (sorry grandpa) throw them away. (But you can make soup with that!) I know Pepe I know. Sorry.

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Roughly chop up the almonds so that they are in halves and quarters. When that’s finished skin the lemon and chop into chunks. Swirl the olive oil over the mixture a couple times and give it a layer of salt and pepper. Mix it good, get it on a baking sheet and place it in the oven. The more single layer the pile the more yummy caramelization you’ll get.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

I set a timer for 20 minutes and mix it up. Set another timer for 15 minutes and keep your eye on it. More accurately your nose. It will smell done when it’s done.

Poke a fork in a thick floret and see if it falls off. Ideally many of the tips have begun to caramelize and the stalks are just a hair al dente.

Serve and eat. Rejoice at cauliflower’s comeback.

I'm a bad blogger. All I have is this cropped photo from the main plate.

I’m a bad blogger. All I have is this cropped photo from the main plate.

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How to Butterfly a Chicken

Butterflying a chicken is a simple and useful technique that I use to grill or sauté an entire bird. Butterflying meat is to split the meat almost entirely apart and spread it flat. This allows very thick proteins to cook faster and more evenly in certain cooking conditions.

Images ahead, vegetarians beware!

The first thing you want to do is lay the bird on its front with the body cavity facing away from you. The back will be right side up. It has a lot less meat than the breasts and the drumsticks will be tucked under the thighs.

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The second step is to take a pair of kitchen shears and start to cut along the spine. Finish the other side and pull the back bone out.

IMG_0357.JPG

A little gruesome. The next step too. Take the bird by the thighs and bend the it away from the center until you hear some bones crack and you’re able to lay it flat.

Salt, pepper and you’re ready for the cook!

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Remember poultry safety! Wash your hands or wear gloves and keep the raw chicken off of surfaces that will have other food on it! Salmonella is a cruel mistress!

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