Sandwhich Loaf Bread

June 29, 2011

My pediatrician once told me that feeding my kids white bread was like giving them a spoonful of sugar. This comment hit home; so years ago I switched to whole wheat bread. My boys have grown up and are accustomed to it, but while baking bread recently I was surprised to learn that the whole premise that whole wheat bread contains less sugar turns out to be completely untrue. In fact, the opposite is true; two slices of Wonder bread contains 5g of sugar while two slices of Arnold Country Wheat contains 8g of sugar. For the past 6 years I’ve been spending $3 per loaf on this false premise.

A definite upgrade from Wonder Bread

Actually, this is my fourth recipe for Sandwich loaf that I’ve made over the past month, of which I have only blogged about one other. All haven fallen short, and were not an acceptable substitute for my kids sandwich bread.

FYI, the nutritional information for two different slices of bread, which really surprised me:

  • Arnold’s Country Wheat has 240 calories, with 3g of fat per 2 slice serving (but is free of hydrogenated oils, meaning no trans fats) . There are 44g of total carbohydrates, but also includes 5g of dietary fiber. It contains 350mg sodium and 8g of sugar (about 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar).
  • Classic Wonder Bread has 140 calories, with 1g of fat per 2 slice serving. There are 23g of total carbohydrates. There are 260 mg of sodium and 4g of sugar (which is High Fructose Corn Syrup), but would be equivalent to 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar.


  1. My loaf reached 205-degrees after just 35 minutes. So I will try reducing the temperate next time after 5 minutes in the oven. The higher temperatures during the first 5 minutes should give it great “oven spring”, but a slower bake ought to result in a softer crust.
  2. Of course, bread made without any preservatives goes stale relatively fast. I made this bread sans preservatives to evaluate it as an acceptable substitute for store-bought loaf. It was still good after 2-1/2 days, but if I decide to cook this bread with regularity I will probably add some form of preservative. I want this bread bake this bread on Sunday and have it stay fresh through Friday’s lunch. I found list of natural preservatives that can use in sandwich bread. Reading the list the best bet sounds like lecithin, which is essentially a vitamin.
  3. I also wanted to clarify that while Arnold’s Bread contains more sugar, it is still healthier than Wonder Bread. Eating whole grains is always better than eating refined grains. Also, Arnold’s contains 4 grams of fiber (16% daily intake) and only polyunsaturated fat.
  4. When baking bread, I prefer to weigh my ingredients. I find weighting much easier and more accurate than trying to scoop out 3-1/2 cups of flour. I’ve provided weights for each ingredient that I typically weigh.
  5. As always, I am using Active Dry Yeast rather than Rapid Rise yeast, which Chris Kimball always recommends. See my full descriptions here.
  6. Do not cut your loaf before it has cooled to room temperature, or you will allow moisture to escape and give your loaf a head-start on becoming stale. After 1 hour I tried slicing my bread, placed the slices in a sandwich bag and almost immediately saw condensation. Next loaf I will try the same after 2 hours.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: 90-cents for 29-ounce loaf.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Finish time 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared and baked the bread today are given below:

3-1/2 cups bread flour (18-1/2 ounces)
2 teaspoons table salt
1 cup milk (8 ounces)
1/3 cup water (3 ounces)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey (I substituted 1-1/2 tablespoons sugar)
1 tablespoon rapid-rise yeast or dry active yeast

  1. Adjust two oven rack to low and low-middle position. Put a broiler pan on the bottom rack, which will be used in step 8. Pre-heat to 200-degrees, then turn off your oven. You will use the residual heat of the oven to speed the first rise. If you don’t mind waiting for 2 hours for the first rise, then you can skip the pre-heating portion of this step.
  2. Mix together milk, water, butter, and honey (or sugar) in a Pyrex measuring cup (at least 2 cups). Heat in microwave for 1 minute 5 seconds until mixture reaches 110-degrees. Mix in yeast and let hydrate for 5 minutes, by which time the butter should be mostly melted.
  3. Add flour and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook.
  4. Turn standing mixer to lowest speed and slowly add liquid. After the dough has come together, increase speed to 4 on KitchenAid mixer (medium-low on other models). Continue mixing for 10 minutes, stopping twice to remove the dough from hook. The dough will become smooth. Lightly flour a work surface and gently turn out the dough. Knead for about 15 seconds to form a smooth ball.
  5. Lightly oil a large bowl, put dough inside and roll around to lightly coat the dough ball. Cover with plastic wrap and place in your warm (but turned off) oven. The dough should take between 40 and 50 minutes to double in size.  If you don’t mind waiting about 2 hours for the first rise, then you can let the dough rise at room temperature.
  6. Gently turn the dough out onto floured surface. Gently pressing the dough into a 9″x12″ rectangle. Note that the 9″ should correspond exactly to the length of your loaf pan. Roll the dough into a 9″ cylinder, firmly pressing to ensure that the dough sticks to itself while it rolls. Pinch the seam closed along the length of the cylinder. Spray your 9″x5″x3″ (LxWxH) loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put your loaf into the pan and softly press the dough so that it is touching all four sides of the pan. Spray the top of loaf very lightly with non-stick cooking spray or dust with flour to ensure that the plastic wrap will release.
  7. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap, realizing that the loaf will grow a few inches above the top of the pan. Place it in a warm spot in your kitchen for 45 minutes until it almost doubles in size. A finger pressed into the dough should leave a mark that rebounds slowly. Meanwhile pre-heat your oven to 375-degrees, and bring 2 cups of water to boil on the stovetop.
  8. Carefully remove plastic wrap and place loaf pan in oven. Pour your 2 cups of boiling water into the pre-heated empty loaf/broiler pan, and close the oven door immediately to trap the steam. After 5 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 325-degrees . Bake for between 35 and 40 additional minutes, rotating half way through baking time. If the crust becomes too dark then tent with aluminum foil. The bread will be done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 195 degrees. Carefully remove bread from pan, and let cool on a wire rack for 2 hour before slicing.

Beef Stroganoff

June 25, 2011

My prior version of Beef Stroganoff pales is not nearly as good as this new 2010 version from Cook’s Illustrated. This version marinades the beef in soy sauce, building complex flavors using a mustard paste (instead of brandy), and using more mushrooms (and quartering them instead of slicing). Certainly, this recipe makes a bigger mess in my kitchen, but the flavors are much richer, and the beef is cooked to a tender perfection. Bottom-line: I’m switching my cookbook to this 4-1/2 stars version.

Best Beef Stroganoff ever; worth the extra mess in the kitchen.


  1. I’ve been making this version of Beef Stroganoff for more than 5 years. I loved that everything was made in just one skillet, including the egg noodles which boiled in the sauce until tender. But as I prepared to make Chris Kimball’s updated 2010 Beef Stroganoff recipe, I noticed that my prior recipe actually came from another website; not this 2002 Chris Kimball recipe to which I had incorrectly attributed it.
  2. While this recipe calls for Sirloin Tips (or blade steaks), I substituted Beef Tenderloin because I had 3-lbs of tenderloin left over from my Father’s Day Feast. Tenderloin is common in many Stroganoff recipes, and the technique used here of cooking beef separately from vegetables is perfect for this substitution. The beef can been cooked until tender rather than just boiled in the sauce until tough, solving the the problem I mentioned with my prior recipe about overcooking the beef.
  3. Also, I had 3-pounds of beef (instead of 1-1/2 pounds). I used it all, but browned it in 2 batches.
  4. I had been slicing my mushrooms with the prior recipe, but the microwaving of quartered mushroom resulted in perfect texture.
  5. Here the egg noodles are boiled separately. No big deal, but another pot to clean. One great feature of my prior recipe was boiling the egg noodles directly in the sauce. But there is no arguing with the fact that this recipe outclasses the other.
  6. The $18 price tag is a bit deceptive, because I am using “scrap” tenderloin from my stuffed tenderloin, plus I’m using twice the meat called for in the recipe. $15 of the cost comes from 3-pounds at $5/lb. Obviously, you could make this recipe for less.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $18.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:45 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

1-1/2 lbs sirloin steak tips (I substituted 3-lbs of beef tenderloin)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1-lb white mushrooms
2 teaspoons hot water
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion
Table salt
2 teaspoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons flour
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine (or can use dry vermouth)
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
8-ounces of wide egg noodles

  1. The recipe calls from trimming away any excess fat from steak tips and slicing with the grain into 4 equal pieces. Because I used beef tenderloin, my beef was not quite as uniform.
  2. Poke each piece of steak with the tines of a fork 10 to 12 times. Place beef in Pyrex baking dish and rub both sides with soy sauce. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. While meat marinates, wipe the mushrooms clean and quarter them. If any of the mushrooms are larger than 1-inch, cut them into 6 pieces instead of 4. Put in microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave the mushrooms on high power for 5 minutes; the mushrooms should decreased in volume by half and there should be as much as 1/4-cup of liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Drain and discard the muddy liquid, and set the mushrooms aside until step 8.
  4. Fill a large pot of water and bring to a boil. This will be used to cook the egg noodles only you have obtained a rolling boil.
  5. Finely chop 1 medium onion, which should yield about 1 cup.
  6. Combine 2 teaspoons of hot water, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in small bowl. Mix together until it forms a smooth paste, then set aside until step 10.
  7. Use a paper towel to pat the steak pieces dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a regular (not non-stick) 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is just beginning to smoke, cook steak pieces for 9 minutes until it is browned on all sides. You should reduce the heat if the fond begins to burn. Check the beef’s internal temperature according to your desired degree of doneness. Chris Kimball likes medium rare; which is 125 to 130 degrees. I cooked until 140-degrees. Move meat to large plate and let rest while cooking sauce.
  8. Add the microwaved mushrooms (from step 3), diced onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the now empty skillet. Cook for 7 to 8 minutes until vegetables begin to brown. The moisture from the onions will begin to deglaze the pan.
  9. Add 8-ounces of egg noodles to boiling water, and boil for time recommended on the package.
  10. Add tomato paste and sprinkle flour into skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat the onions and mushrooms. Add in 1/3 cup wine, beef broth, and the mustard paste from step 6. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the sauce up to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes to slightly reduce and thicken the sauce.
  11. Meanwhile, slice the steak across grain into slices that are 1/4″-thick and about 2″ long. Stir meat and any accumulated juices into sauce. Cook for 2 minutes to warm the beef through. Remove pan from the burner and let cool (the bubbles will subside), then add 1/2-cup sour cream and an additional 1 tablespoon of white wine. Stir until you obtain a uniform color and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Serve over buttered egg noodles and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Father’s Day Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

June 22, 2011

This Roast Stuffed Beef Tenderloin is one of my favorite recipes (see past post when I made if as Super Bowl fare). It is a delicious meal for a special occasion like Father’s Day. It uses only the center-cut of the beef tenderloin; the Châteaubriand. From the 6-lbs tenderloin I bought, this recipe uses only the finest 2-lbs; la crème de la crème. The center-cut of the tenderloin is double butterflied to provide enough surface area to make a nice roll and evenly distribute the stuffing. The stuffing is port-flavored caramelized mushrooms and onions. There is also a layer of baby spinach, and is served with a mustard compound butter. The recipe is a 5-star masterpiece, but I only make it when tenderloin goes on sale for $5/lb.

One of Chris Kimball’s greatest recipes.


  1. Cost is obviously a major issue when making this recipe. So much so I always wait for tenderloin to go on sale. My whole, untrimmed Tenderloin went on sale for $30, which is $5/lb. There is about 1 pound of waste, 3 pounds of miscellaneous meat, leaving only 2 pounds of the center-cut Châteaubriand.
  2. Today’s beef tenderloin yielded only a 2-lbs roast, typically I get closer to 3-lbs; probably my butchering. But since I’m not making this for a crowd, size doesn’t matter.
  3. The recipe calls for Cremini mushrooms, but I usually substitute an equal amount of Portobello mushrooms. My supermarket sells Portobellos loose and by the pound, where the Cremini are shrink wrapped.

Rating: 5-star.
Cost: $17.50 (about 2-1/2 pounds).
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here, and was also featured back in Season 8 of ATK. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

Prepare the Stuffing:
8 ounces cremini or portabello mushrooms
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup Madeira or Port

Wipe the mushrooms clean to remove any dirt, remove the stems and break the mushrooms into pieces. Pulse mushroom in food processor for six 1-second pulses. Cut the onion in half and then make 1/4″ slices. Add butter and olive oil to a 12″ non-stick skillet. Pre-heat skillet over medium-high heat, then saute the onion slices for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. Saute the mushrooms for 7 minutes until all moisture has evaporated. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook and stir for 10 minutes. Everything will become richly browned and sticky. Using a garlic press, add garlic directly into skillet and cook for 30 seconds.  Slowly mix in Madeira or Port. Cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, deglazing the pan and allowing the liquid to evaporated. Put onion-mushroom mixture to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preparing the Beef Roast:
1 center-cut beef tenderloin, the Châteaubriand
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/2 cup lightly packed baby spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil

  1. Trim the beef of any fat and remove the silver skin.
  2. Double-butterfly the roast. Using a chef’s knife begin to slice horizontally 1″ from bottom of roast. Cut horizontally, stopping just before you’ve cut all the way through the roast. Leave a 1″ hinge. Open the roast like a book. One side of the roast should be twice as thick as the other, so now you want to evenly divide the thicker side. So starting at the “book’s inside spine”, make another horitontal cut to into the thicker side of roast, again stopping 1″ from the outside edge. Open up this second flap, and you should be left with a nicely double-butterflied rectangle of beef tenderloin.
  3. Sprinkle the cut side of the beef with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Use a spatula to evenly spread the stuffing mixture over interior of roast, leaving a 1/2″ border on all four sides. Lay an even layer of spinach on top of stuffing mixture.
  5. Roll up the roast lengthwise, making it as compact as possible but being careful not to squeeze out filling. Tie using eight 14″ lengths of kitchen twine.
  6. In small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper. Rub the oil mixture evenly on all sides of the roast. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  7. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position, and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
  8. Set stovetop burner to medium-high, and pre-heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in 12″ skillet until the oil is just smoking. Place the roast in the pan and cook for 10 minutes; about 2-1/2 minutes per side. The roast should be well browned.  Move roast to a wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.  Bake roast until instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of roast registers your desired degree of doneness: 125 degrees for medium-rare (21 22 minutes), 130 degrees for medium, etc.

Preparing the Herb Butter:
4 tablespoons softened, unsalted butter
1 tablespoon parsley
3/4 teaspoon thyme
1 medium clove garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

  1. While the meat roasts, chop the parsley and thyme, and combine all the ingredients in small bowl and mix until well combined.
  2. After you remove the tenderloin from oven, place it on a cutting board and spread half of herb butter evenly over the top of the roast. Using foil, tent the roast for 15 minutes. Slice the roast between each piece of twine. Finally, remove the twine from each piece and serve. The remaining herb butter can be passed separately.

Filling covers most of butterflied tenderloin

Carbonnade a la Flamande

June 16, 2011

If you’ve seen my ratings over the past year, you’ll know that I love a good stew. Most stew recipes I’ve made have been some of my highest-rated recipes; usually 5-star. Unfortunately they can be quite expensive (see Best Beef Stew – $23 and 5-starsDenouement Beef Stew – $27 and 5-stars, Boeuf Bourguignon – $25 and 5-stars , and Daube Provencal – $36 and 4-1/2 stars). But before I made any of those, the first Chris Kimball stew I every made as this Carbonnade a la Flamande back in 2007. Now that I’ve sampled a much wider variety of stews, I wanted to revisit this first beer-based recipe to see how it stood up when compare to more traditional wine-based French stews. Long story short; this Flemish Carbonnade is faster, simpler and less expensive (about $15). It is delicious, 4-stars. However, it lacks the complexity of the French stews. Not only because wine is richer than beer, but also because this carbonnade has just 3 basic ingredients: meat, onions and beer.

This cell phone picture doesn't do it justice.

This Carbonnade recipe calls for a dark beer, but one that is more fruity than bitter. Chris Kimball tested 9 beers, and his top picks were:

  • Chimay Pères Trappistes Ale-Première, which cost about $10 for a 25.4-ounce bottle.
  • Newcastle Brown Ale, $8 per six pack.
  • O’Doul’s Amber (Nonalcoholic), $5 per six pack. Actually, Chris Kimball preferred this nonalcoholic beer to the Newcastle.


  1. I ended up overcooking the beef by about 1/2-hour, waiting for my kids to get home. I turned down the over to 200-degrees, but by the time they got home the beef was too tender and falling apart. Still, it tasted great.
  2. Sorry, I’m having camera troubles again. Back to my cell phone camera.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $14.50.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 3:00 PM. Dinner time 7:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here, and was also featured back in Season 7 of ATK. The descriptions of how I prepared the recipe today are given below:

3 1/2 lbs blade steaks (or any boneless roast from the chuck)
Table salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds yellow onions (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup beef broth
12-ounce dark beer
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

  1. Trimmed away any gristle or excess fat (but be careful not to over-trim). Cut your beef into 1-inch cubes. Adjust your oven rack to the lower-middle position, and pre-heat the oven to 300-degrees.
  2. Use paper towels to dry the beef cubes, and season liberally with table salt and pepper. In a dutch oven, heat up 2 teaspoons vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  3. When the oil just begins to smoke; add one-third of beef to pot in a single layer. Do not move the pieces for 3 minutes, then use tongs to flip each piece. Cooking the second side for another 5 minutes. Transfer browned beef to a bowl, and repeat with 2 remaining batches of beef.  If at any point the bottom of dutch oven becomes too dark then you can add 1/2 cup of chicken or beef broth and scrape up the bottom of the pan. Pour the loosened fond and liquid into the bowl together with the browned beef.
  4. While the meat cooks, cut the onions in half and then slice about 1/4-inch thick. You should end up with about 8 cups of sliced onions.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the empty Dutch oven. The oil will heat quickly, then add onion slices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of pot to loosen the fond using the moisture release by the onion slices.
  6. After the onions have been cooking for 5 minutes, increase your burner to medium heat and continue to cook for another 12 to 14 minutes; stirring occasionally. The onions will become lightly browned.
  7. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes until the onions are nicely covered with the lightly browned flour. Add both broths, and continue to de-glaze the pan. Add bottle of beer, 4 thyme sprigs tied together with kitchen twine, 2 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon vinegar, the browned beef along with accumulated juices. Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper; according to your taste.
  8. Increase heat on your stovetop to medium-high and bring to full simmer.
  9. Partially cover the dutch oven and place in a 300-degree oven for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. It will be done when you poke the beef with a fork inserted and there is little resistance.
  10. Finally, discard the bundle of thyme and the two bay leaves. Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary. Chris Kimball recommends serving over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

Shu Mai

June 10, 2011

Before starting this blog, I had never cooked much that could be considered “real Chinese food”. Now, one of my favorite dish is these pork pot stickers, plus I am less afraid to try other things (see here and here). These steamed pork dumplings (aka shu mai) are delicious, but are also a lot healthier than their take-out counterpart. Chris Kimball uses plain gelatin in lieu of lard to simulate the rich texture, and uses a combination of soy sauce, rice vinegar and rice wine to enhance the flavor (instead of MSG). Overall, these are excellent; 4-star; but I would have preferred a soy-sauce-based dipping sauce to the chili oil included in this recipe.

Delicious Shu Mai made without the MSG

Because I don’t have a steamer basket (who does really), I followed their quick tip to use two disposable, aluminum pie plates to form an improvised steamer. First, I poked 15 holes in the bottom of a 9″ aluminum pie pan, and placed it upside down in the bottom of my Dutch oven. Then I added water to almost cover the pie pan. I used a rolling pin to flatten a second 9″ aluminum pie pan, and placed it over a wire cooling rack to poke 20 holes. My second pie pan ripped slightly during flattening, but didn’t really affect the end result.


  1. The Chili oil recipe yielded about four times as much as necessary, so I modified the recipe (given below) to yield a more reasonable amount. The Chili oil is quite hot, so be careful if you have a delicate palate.
  2. I could not find water chestnuts in my grocery store, and gave up looking after 5 minutes. But instead of going without, a good substitution would have been: jicama or parsnip slices.
  3. Fortunately, I was able to use my 3-1/2″ biscuit cutter and still get two full-size cut-outs for each 5-1/2″ egg roll wrapper. The original recipe calls for a 3″ biscuit cutter (but I wanted to use the one I already had in my kitchen).
  4. My local Chinese take-out charges $6 for 8 dumplings, so my $10 work of dumplings would cost me $30.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $10 for 42 dumplings.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 7:00 PM. Dinner time 8:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here (you have to give e-mail, but no credit card). The episode serves these with Chili Oil (recipe is here), but this is a “paid recipe”. You can see a video of the entire episode here. The descriptions of how I cooked both the Shu Mai and the Chili Oil today are given below:

First Prepare the Chili Oil:

2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 small garlic cloves, peeled
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt

  1. Heat oil in small saucepan over medium heat until it measure 300 degrees on and instant-read thermometer.
  2. Remove pan from heat and stir in pepper flakes, garlic, soy sauce, soy sauce, sugar and table salt.
  3. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. Discard garlic before serving.

Steamed Dumplings:

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs
1/2 pound shrimp
1/4 cup water chestnuts , chopped
4 dried shiitake mushroom caps (3/4 ounce),
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine or can substitute dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package 5-1/2 inch egg roll wrappers (1 pound)
2 carrots

  1. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes. Defrost shrimp, peel and remove vein. Cut eat shrimp in halved lengthwise. Cut the pork ribs into 1-inch pieces. Finely grate carrots on the small holes of a box grater. Chop the water chestnuts, and mince 2 tablespoons of cilantro. Finally, grate 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger. After the mushrooms have soaked for 30 minutes, squeeze then dry, and cut into then 1/4″ pieces.
  2. Add the soy sauce to a small bowl, sprinkle in the gelatin and let it bloom for 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place half of pork cubes into a food processor and pulse ten 1-second pulses (should be ground into 1/8-inch pieces). Put ground pork in a large bowl.
  4. Add 1/2-lb shrimp and remaining pork to food processor and pulse pulse five 1-second pulses (should be ground into 1/4-inch pieces). Add to the same bowl with other ground pork.
  5. Add soy sauce mixture, chopped water chestnuts, mushrooms, cornstarch, cilantro, sesame oil, wine, vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper to the bowl and mix until well combined.
  6. Use a 3-1/2″ biscuit cutter to cut two rounds from each egg roll wrapper. You can cut in stacks of 6 to 7 wrappers at a time. Cover rounds with moist paper towels to prevent them from drying out.
  7. Lay out 6 rounds at a time, brush the edges lightly with water. Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling mixture in the center of each round. With each hand, lift opposite sides of wrapper and pinch to form two pleats. Rotate 90 degrees and pinch again to form two more pleats. Continue two more times until you have eight folds.
  8. Pick up the dumpling. Using your thumb and index finger (as if to form the OK sign, but with the Shu Mai in the middle) gently squeeze near the top of the dumpling to form a “waist.”
  9. Use your middle finger to support the bottom of the dumpling and pack down the filling using your other hand (or a butter knife). Place on a piece of parchment paper sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Immediately cover with damp paper towel to prevent them from drying out. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  10. Place a small pinch of grated carrot on the center of each dumpling; mostly for appearance. I have also seen a single pea used.
  11. Cut a round piece of parchment slightly smaller than your dutch oven and poke 20 holes, and put it over your improvised steamer. Spray the parchment with non-stick cooking spray. I had to cook the dumplings in two batches, to make sure that they don’t touch. Be careful because they will plump slightly during steaming. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes per batch. Serve immediately with chili oil.

The Final Installment of Beer Can Chicken

June 6, 2011

This is my third attempt to get this recipe right. My first attempt failed because the spice rub yields enough to season four chickens. My second attempt was mid-winter; made in the oven. It was easy and edible, but the flavoring didn’t penetrate, leaving a bland interior, and lacked the smokey flavor. Today, all problems have been resolved. The spice rub was just the right amount for my 7-lb chicken, I let the spices permeate for a full 2-hours, and the BBQ left a wonderfully smokey flavor and beautifully crisp skin. Even still, with all the stars properly aligned, the highest this recipe can possibly score is 3-1/2 stars.

Beautifully Golden-Skined Barbecued Beer Can Chicken

While a little more work, the Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime is a slightly higher 4-stars. I’d recommend it over this Beer Can Chicken. But still, if you are looking for something that requires about 15-minutes of effort (or something that you can cook with only the spices already in your pantry), then this is a nice was to cook a whole chicken. You won’t knock anyone’s socks off, but everybody will be happy.


  1. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, Kingsford Charcoal’s re-formula has messed up everything. All of Chris Kimball’s barbecue recipes that mention a specific amount of charcoal are now wrong. For example, in this recipe he says, “Using the right amount of charcoal is crucial here; using too much charcoal will burn the chicken, while using too little will extend the cooking time substantially.” The recipe calls for 60 briquettes, but anticipating the reformulation, I increase to 75 briquettes and waited 30 minutes to fully ignite. As you can see in the chart below; the initial temperatures looked good; but then fell off too fast at the end. In the end I had to finish cooking the chicken in my oven.

CI's recipe is no longer accurate for new Kingsford charcoal formula

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 3:45 PM. Dinner time 8:00 PM. (see issue)

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

Spice Rub:
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoons ground celery seed
1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoons cayenne pepper

1 whole chicken (about 4 to 4-1/2 pounds)
1 can beer (12-ounce)
2 bay leaf
Large disposable aluminum baking pan (13 by 10-inch)

  1. Combine all the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Pat the chicken dry and work the skin free over the breast, drumsticks and thighs.
  3. Massage the spice rub all over the chicken directly onto the meat. Sprinkle at most one tablespoon of spice rub over the skin.
  4. Open the beer and drink about 1/3 of the can (1/4 cup). With a churchkey open two more holes in the top of the beer can (there will be three holes total). Rip the bay leaves a few times and add into beer can. Slide the chicken over the can so that the drumsticks reach down to the bottom of the can and the chicken stands upright.
  5. Let the spice rub sit on the chicken for 2 hours; first uncovered in the refrigerator then sitting at room temperature for the last 30 minutes.
  6. Light about chimney starter filled three-quarters full of charcoal (about 75 briquettes). Let burn until the coals are covered with a thin layer of ash, 25 minutes.
  7. Place the disposable pan in the center of the grill, and dump half the coals on each side of the pan. Place 1 foil packet on top each coal pile, and replace cooking grate. Clean the grill grate.
  8. Put the chicken (sitting into of its beer can) in the center of the grate. Position so that the wings face the coals. Use the drumsticks to steady the chicken. Cover and grill for approximately 85 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh should register 175 degrees
  9. Using two wad of paper towels, keeping the can upright, transfer the chicken to a platter or tray; let chicken rest for 15 minutes on it’s beer can throne.
  10. Carefully lift the chicken off the beer can and place onto a platter or cutting board. Dump the remaining beer and discard or recycle the can.
  11. Carve the chicken and serve.

Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken

June 2, 2011

I’m not sure about elsewhere, but the supermarkets where I live have dramatically cut back on their weekly sales. Both A&P and Pathmark (which represents two-thirds of my shopping choices) have cut their weekly sales circular back from 24-pages to just 8-pages. So just as the summer BBQ season is heating up, my choices of inexpensively priced meat to put on the BBQ is dwindling.  The same Chuck Beef that was regularly on sale for $2/lb last year, will now only go as low as $3.50/lb. Fortunately, chicken breasts were on sale for $1.29/lb this week, so 5-pounds was only $6.50.

Inexpensive and not much work, but no one will ever know.

While I kind of wanted to make Fried Chicken, the day was too nice spend it indoors. So I searched my recipe book for some form of BBQ chicken. To my surprise, I found only one; Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken. Actually, Chris Kimball’s original recipe calls for cooking it in the oven, but in 2009 I adapted the recipe to cook on the BBQ.  This chicken recipe takes very little effort, but tastes best with a little planning (6 to 24-hours recommended). But even when I gave the spices only 1-1/2 hours to work their magic; still, the chicken was a solid 4-stars.


  1. This recipe calls for allowing the spice rub to marinate the chicken for 6 hours. But because I decided to make this chicken around 1:30pm, so could only sit them sit for only 1-1/2 hours. To compensate, I increased the spice mixture by 1/3.
  2. The original recipe calls for chimney start to be only 80% full. With the new formulation of Kingsford, I had to go with a full chimney starter. Plus instead of waiting 15-minutes, I had to wait 30 minutes for the coals to become covered in a fine grey ash.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7 for 5-pounds of chicken.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

5 lbs chicken, bone-in
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Make 2 or 3 slashes in the skin of every chicken piece, but be careful not to cut into the meat.
  2. Mix together salt, sugar, and spices in small bowl.
  3. Remove ribs from chicken breasts and cut breasts in half for even cooking. Trim away any excess fat.
  4. Coat the chicken pieces with spice mixture, lifting the skin to rub the spices underneath.
  5. Transfer chicken skin side up to wire rack placed on a foil-lined baking sheet. Tent loosely with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours to allow the spices to permeate into the meat. Because of lack of planning, I only had 1-1/2 hours.
  6. Light a chimney starter full of charcoal, and wait 30-minutes until it is covered with a fine grey ash.
  7. Put a disposable foil pan in middle, then distribute your burning coals equally on both sides.
  8. Place chicken skin side down directly over pan (indirect heat) and roast the chicken for 1 hour, flip and rearrange chicken after 25 minutes.
  9. Finish the chicken with 10 minutes over coals. Ensure that the internal temperature is correct (at least 160-degrees for white meat and 175-degrees for dark meat). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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