Virginia Hot Browns

I’ve never been to Kentucky and don’t have any plans to remedy that anytime in the near future. But I remain a devotee of the cheesy, salty Hot Brown.

This recipe varies from the classic in a few subtle, but essential ways, so I’ve christened it the Virginia Hot Brown. It’s totally gonna catch on.

Ingredients:

For the Turkey

4 turkey breast cutlets

Olive oil

Salt

Pepper

For the Mornay Sauce

2 1/cups milk

2 tbs unsalted butter

2 tbs flour

8 oz sharp white cheddar

1/4 cup pecorino romano

1 tsp Worcestshire

Kosher salt

Pepper

Additional Ingredients

Tomato

5 strips bacon, cut in half

Toast–nice, thick white bread

Method

Heat oven to 450. Coat turkey breasts in salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil and cook for 10-15 minutes until done.

Meanwhile, fry up your bacon. At the same time, melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat and add flour. Stir roux for a minute until flour is combined. Heat your milk in a sauce pan (Or be lazy and pop it in the microwave like I did. Make sure it’s warm but not simmering or boiling).

Add milk to the roux slowly. Stir constantly. When all milk is added, bring to boil, continuing to stir. When the mixture thickens, remove from heat and add cheeses, Worcestshire, and salt/pepper to taste.

Cut tomato into thick slices. Toast your bread. A thick Texas toast is best.

Place turkey on top of the toast. Top with tomato. Slather in sauce. Crown with bacon.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Mustard and Honey

Neither god nor man has created a food more perfect pasta. I defy you to find something better.

Endlessly versatile. Comforting. A perfect canvas for sauces and cheeses and veggies and meats. I sing your praises eternal, oh pasta.

And while I enjoy a bowl of homemade spaghetti coated in a thick ragu , I’m just as content with 99 cent cheap-o grocery store noodles with butter and a good parmesan.

Pasta does not discriminate and I refuse to discriminate against it.

There’ll be countless pasta recipes on this site in time, I’m sure, but today’s offering is a fresh, light orzo dish that capitalizes on the last gasps of summer. It’s simple and tasty as a side dish, but holds up well to the addition of grilled chicken or fish, canned tuna, or a large dollop of hummus.

Orzo Pasta Salad with Mustard and Honey

Ingredients:

1 container grape tomatoes

1 English cucumber

1 red onion

1 16 oz package orzo

3/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup scant Dijon Mustard (fill the cup to the top with a good glug of honey)

Salt

Pepper

Dry oregano

Garlic powder

Method:

Bring water to a boil in a large pot and cook orzo according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop your veggies. I prefer a making a very small dice on the red onion, slicing the cucumber into thin discs, and halving the grape tomatoes. But you do you!

In a large container add the white wine vinegar and whisk in mustard and honey. Season liberally with salt and pepper (about a small palmful of each). Make sure the mustard and honey are incorporated fully. Slowly stream in olive oil, making sure to whisk continuously. Add a small palmful of dry oregano and 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Whisk, taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference. You may find you prefer a less vinegary dressing. If so, add a bit more honey or olive oil for balance.

Toss your veggies into the dressing and add more salt and pepper to taste.

When the orzo is done, drain and add to the veggies. Stir, making sure to coat all the pasta and that the veggies are running throughout. Season again with salt and pepper to taste.

Chill for 4-6 hours or overnight. When you’re ready to eat, recheck the seasonings. Time in the fridge and cold temps can reduce the punch of an initial application of salt and other seasonings.

Fuck yeah! It’s time to eat your veggies.

Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili

The best time of the year has arrived. The leaves change to crimson and apricot, the air’s crisp, and the light turns mellow and golden.

It’s the perfect time for a piping hot bowl of chili.

During our years together, we have made many variations of “our” chili. Each one coming closer to what will one day be our “definitive” chili. This one is pretty damn close.

#fuckbeans

Paul and Kathleen’s (Pretty Damn Close to) Definitive Chili

Ingredients:

2 pounds meatloaf mix (reserve 2 tbs meat drippings)

1 pound 93/7 lean ground beef

1/2 pound pepper bacon (and 1 tbs bacon drippings)

1 tbs canola oil

1 green bell pepper

1 red onion

2 serrano chiles

10 garlic cloves

1 20 oz can tomato puree

2 14 oz cans Rotel tomatoes with mild chiles

1 14 oz can fire roasted tomatoes

3/4 tbs syrup

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Paprika

Northwoods Seasoning (Pensey’s spices)

Hot chili powder (Pensey’s spices)

Chili powder

Cumin

Dry cilantro

Method:

Dice peppered bacon and brown in a skillet. Reserve fat.

Meanwhile, dice your veggies and mince (or grate) your garlic cloves. Leave the seeds in your serrano peppers, unless you’re a total wimp and can’t stand the heat.

In a separate skillet, brown your meat. Reserve fat.

In a large stock pot of Dutch oven, heat 1 tbs canola oil, 2 tbs meat drippings, and 1 tbs bacon fat. Sauté veggies until translucent. Add garlic. Season with 1/4 tsp salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

Drain meat mixture and add to the veggies. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, Northwoods Seasoning, and hot chili powder. Add 1 tsp cumin and 1 1/2 tsps chili powder.

Break open the cans of tomatoes and add them, along with 10 oz water. Re-season the mixture, but reduce the cumin to 1/4 tsp and increase your chili powder to 2 tsp. Add a good size glug of syrup (about 3/4 to 1 tbs).

Bring to boil. Reduce to low simmer for 25-30 minutes. Add a palmful of dry cilantro.

Holy fuck! Enjoy!