Month: March 2012

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is probably either something you have seen at the grocery store (don’t buy), heard of, or never heard of. Pimento cheese is basically a Southern food. I live in Wisconsin, and to me, it is every bit of Northern food as it is…

Pretzel Dog with Caramelized Onions and Pimento Cheese

Pretzel Dog with Caramelized Onions and Pimento Cheese

The title of this recipe is loaded, and everything about it screams awesomeness. This past week I was experimenting with some hot dog creations. My son and I are the hot dog eaters in the family, and really no one else. Personally, I like a…

Jerk Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

Jerk Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa

Sometimes you just need a great sweet heat. It is becoming that time of year, at least in Wisconsin, where you can hear the lawn mowers being started for the first cut of the season, and while driving through the neighborhood, you can smell people grilling. To me, this means that summer is near, and more importantly, sitting by the charcoal grill, or ‘manning the fire’ for dinner.

Jerk Chicken with Pineapple Salsa Recipe

This past week was no exception. The crisp air in the morning led to a warm afternoon. I could sense that this was approaching around nine in the morning. With that said, I immediately thought of grilling, and as I wanted something spicy, I thought of Jamaican jerk. The ingredients were available in my spice cabinet, and as my wife is working hard on that summer-time body, I thought some jerk shrimp would be in order with a surprise of some pineapple salsa.

I’ve made jerk chicken in the past, and have tinkered with the ingredients, but I wanted to make another attempt at some jerk seasoning, using similar ingredients, but with shrimp, and well that pineapple salsa which just brings more life (like jerk needs it) to the dish.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the Jerk Shrimp: [Print this Recipe]

  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, 16-20 count/lb
  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 5-7 wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least one hour

Jerk Shrimp

Ingredients for the Pineapple Salsa:

  • 2 cups of fresh pineapple, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup of red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of mixed bell peppers, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • small pinch of salt
  • 2 green onions, finely sliced

Start by mixing all of your jerk ingredients together with the exception of the shrimp. Stir until everything is nice and incorporated. Pour this mixture over the shrimp, and gently stir to combine the flavors. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

During this time, prepare your ingredients for the pineapple salsa. Take all of those prepared ingredients, place in a bowl, and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Recipe for Pineapple Salsa

Next, heat up your grill. I prefer to use charcoal on anything jerk as it gives off that smoky flavor that enhances the jerk. Once your coals are heated, skewer the shrimp onto the soaked skewers. Place onto the grill, and ‘man’ the grill being careful not to overcook the shrimp. If you do not cook shrimp all that often, just remember that they do not take all that long to cook, and never turn your back on them, especially when they are on the grill. I like to balance out my coals when grilling. One side heated coals, and the other side no coals. This way I can use my tongs and rotate the skewers throughout the short cooking process.

Pineapple Salsa Recipe

Once the shrimp begin to plump and turn a nice opaque, remove them from the grill and get ready to plate.

To plate, remove the pineapple salsa from the refrigerator, and give it a good stir.

Place a skewer, or two onto a plate, and line the shrimp with a generous helping of jerk shrimp. A bite of shrimp that yields a bit of spice from the jerk, plus a citrusy salsa that balances out that heat? Well, I think that match speaks for itself.  The pairing, in my opinion, just sets the tone for the upcoming grilling season. Hope you enjoy.

Crostini with Pickled Tomato and Goat Cheese

Crostini with Pickled Tomato and Goat Cheese

It was some time ago when I was really into making crostini. It you are not familiar with crostini, they are basically little toasts that are topped with whatever you can imagine. For me, I offered up crostini with olive tapenade with goat cheese, smoked…

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon Sandwich

Peanut Butter, Banana, and Bacon Sandwich

The title says it all. It’s a mouthful of awesomeness. I have been wanting to make a bacon and peanut butter sandwich for my oldest kid for some time. I only wanted to make it because peanut butter and bacon are probably his two favorite…

Mexican Beef Stew

Mexican Beef Stew

I know, who posts a recipe about Mexican beef stew a day before St. Patty’s Day, and a day closer to spring? Well, I do. I post this not only because it is amazing, but more importantly that I think you should make it before the weather gets to hot. This could be your last slow cooked meal of the season, and hence another reason why I bring this to you. I am calling this a Mexican beef stew because it brings out the spice and earthiness from some of the chili peppers that are used. The ingredients used, as they appear long in the list, remind me of something similar to a mole sauce. Complex, fruity, and earthy, that once combined just bring out the best of this Mexican beef stew.

Mexican Roast Beef Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]

  • 6 Guajillo chilies, dried
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 8oz can of pineapple juice
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 bay leaves, ground
  • 2 tsp dried Mexican oregano, pinched between your fingers
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Salt, to season
  • Cracked black pepper, to season
  • 1/2 cup of beef stock
  • 2 lbs boneless chuck, cut into chunks
  • 3 sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • corn tortillas, warmed (optional)

Begin by adding the guajillo chilies to a skillet and cook over medium heat for about a minute or so, then flip, and do the same. This process will bring out some of the oil of the chile. Turn off the heat, add in the hot water, cover, and let this sit on the stove for about 30 minutes. The goal is to have the guajillos nice and tender.

When the chiles are done soaking, drain the water, and carefully discard the stems, and seeds. Place the quajillos into a blender, along with the garlic, pineapple juice, cinnamon, Mexican oregano, bay leaves, and beef stock. Blend until you have a very smooth puree. The sauce that you just made is going to bring out a lot of the wonderful Mexican flavors of the beef stew.

Mexican Beef Stew Ingredients

Next, add your onions, apple, and tomato into a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the mixture with a bit of salt and pepper.

Heat a dutch oven, or large, heavier skillet on medium-high heat. Add in the canola oil and let this almost come to a smoke. During this time, generously season the beef chunks with salt and pepper, and give a quick massage. Carefully add this into the heated oil and lightly brown on all sides. Do this in batches so you do not overcrowd. Remove when browned on all sides, and repeat as necessary.

Now you have a couple of choices. You can preheat your oven to 275 and let this dish go low and slow in the dutch oven, or if you have a slow cooker, and you can that route, letting it cook for about 8 hours on low.  However you want to roll with this one if fine by me, but either way, do the following.

Add some of the quajillo mixture to the base of the dish. Add the browned beef chunks, then add the tomato mixture, topping it off with the rest of the quajillo mixture. Cover, making sure you have a good seal, and place either in the oven, or slow cooker. If you talk to your food, just let it know that you will return in approximately 8 hours to take in all of its aromas and be prepared to eat. Or don’t. Whatever you do, just return in 8 hours.

About 45 minutes before you are ready to eat, you will want to make the sweet potatoes. Add them to a large pot of room temperature water. Add a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil. Once boiled, reduce the heat a bit, and cook until for tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the potatoes, and add them back to the heat to evaporate any remaining water.

Your next dilema is to use a potato masher or ricer. I have been using a potato ricer for some time now, and must say, not only do I love it, but I think I got one of my kids eating mashed potatoes because of it. Sure, it is an extra step if you will, as you have to take the potatoes out, and run them through the ricer, but heck, I think this process is well worth the time and effort.

Rice them or mash them, then add in the butter, milk, and season with salt and pepper. Give a gentle stir and make sure they are nice, fluffy, and seasoned.

Now, the moment we have all been waiting for. Remove the Mexican beef stew from the oven, or take the lid off of the slow cooker (I went the slow cooker route this time around if you are wondering) and take in the aromas. They are earthy and beautiful. Give a taste and season with any salt at this time. You should not need much of any as it is packed with flavor.

To plate, add some of the mashed sweet potatoes to the base of your plate and top with a nice ladle full of the Mexican beef stew. If you want to serve with some warm tortillas to help assist in scooping this delicious stew into fork and mouth, please do so.

Overall you are left with a new take on a somewhat classic beef stew, only in the sense that you go low and slow on the cooking process, but you are left with a whole new world of flavors. Every bite has the sweetness and creaminess from the potatoes that just gets balanced by these wonderful fruity, earthy, and a mild spiciness from the stew ingredients. This one is so good, it has me thinking ahead to next fall when comfort and slow cooking season starts all over. I hope you enjoy.