Chef Chris’ Sweet-Potato Hash

Sweet Potato Hash

I know that this isn’t the first time I’ve griped about this, but it’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to! 😉

One of the few downsides to being a chef and/or food blogger, is that you very seldom get invited over for a home-cooked dinner. Like…ever. Friends and family see the pretty photos and “exotic” recipes you post, and think, “Man, I can’t cook for THEM!

Which is kinda silly, as most chefs LOVE to be cooked for and our standards (or at least mine) aren’t nearly as high as people seem to think. I love Chicken McNuggets and Kraft Mac & Cheese as much as the next red-blooded American fatty!

So, to compensate for this lack of socialization, at least for our family’s sake, we tend to invite other chefs over, and they reciprocate, because every chef secretly (or not so secretly) knows that he or she is the better cook anyway, so there’s no intimidation. 😉

Last week we we’re invited over by my best friend, Chef Chris Renner and his family, for dinner and it was, of course, amazing.

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash

Chef Chris made steaks, which he cooked sous-vide for 12 hours, and then caramelized with a blow torch, and they were unbelievably good. He accompanied those with his own Sweet Potato Hash (recipe below), which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for a week. I brought a bag of salad.

There’s no money in trying to out-cook Chef Chris, believe me…I know.

Seriously, I was one of the best dinners I’ve eaten in a long time, and that hash is going to be a permanent addition to my holiday cooking menu.

Chef graciously shared the recipe with me, so I could share it with you, and I know it’s short notice, but if you can squeeze this into your Thanksgiving menu, you really, really, should! It’s certainly on mine.

IMG_4660Chef Chris’ Sweet Potato Hash

  • 4 med sweet potatoes, diced 1-inch cube
  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 1/2 pound of bacon lardons
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Over medium heat melt butter and oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add bacon cook for a couple of minutes.

Then add sweet potatoes and onion. Cook stirring occasionally (don’t stir too often) until potatoes are cooked. (You should get some nice caramelized bits that add a lot of flavor.)

Serves 4

Sousvide Steak with Sweet Potato Hash


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

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The Best Holiday Turkey in 90 Minutes!

Fast Roast Turkey

Just in time for Thanksgiving…perfect roasted whole turkey in just 90 minutes!

Every year I cook up a bunch of turkeys (11 this year, a new record!) and take them to a local homeless shelter for their annual Thanksgiving dinner. Even with some amazing volunteer’s help, that’s a lot of turkeys!

Spatchcocking* not only allows me to roast a turkey in (less than) half the time, it also results in more even roasting (ie: a juicy turkey breast), and more flavor by browning all of the skin, not just the skin on top.

Here’s a video I put together of the whole process, from roasting to slicing…

*Spatchcocking involves removing the backbone from tail to neck so that the bird can be opened out flat (also referred to as butterflying). This method results in a much shorter cooking time. It also allows for easier access to the cavity and exterior of the chicken for seasoning purposes.

This method works just as well for all types of poultry, roasting an average-sized chicken in just 30 minutes!

The Highlights

  • 12-14lb turkey, spatchcocked
  • Preheat oven to 450F
  • Roast 90 minutes, rest 20 minutes

Oh, and if you really want to amp up the flavor and juiciness of your bird, brine it! You can check our our post My Best Brined Turkey Recipe, over at our youth outreach site, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

Happy Thanksgiving!

~Chef Perry

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; and get even more Chef’s tips, tricks, and techniques. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!


Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

The difference between soup, stew, bisque, and chowder.

The difference between soup stew and chowder

HomeChef Kerry asks:

“What’s the difference between soup, stew, bisque, and chowder?”

Soups vs. Stews
In theory, a soup is a combination of vegetables, meat or fish cooked briefly in liquid, so the ingredients are cooked just enough to be palatable, but retain their texture.

A stew is any dish that’s prepared by stewing – meaning that the food is barely covered with liquid and simmered for a long time in a covered pot. Chili Stew is an example of a dish cooked in this manner, whose name has been shorted to just “chili” over the years.

Bisques vs. Chowders
Bisques and chowders are both thickened soups; bisque is generally smooth (pureed) while chowder is chunky, both are usually made with lots of cream and butter, and often start with a roux (see below).

Typically associated with seafood (the word “chowder” derives from the French term for the type of cauldron fishermen used to make these dishes), both words can describe non-seafood dishes as well.

Making a Basic Roux

Roux (“roo“) is a cooking mixture of flour and fat (usually butter), used as a thickener for soups and sauces, with roots dating back more than 300 years in French cuisine.

Made by combining and cooking a flour and oil paste until the raw flavor of the flour cooks out and the roux has achieved the desired color, a properly cooked roux imparts silky-smooth body and a nutty flavor while thickening soups, sauces, and gravies.

Cornstarch mixed with water (slurry), arrowroot, and other ingredients can be used in place of roux, but they don’t add any flavor to the dish, and are only used for their thickening properties.

Making gravies, sauces, and roux-based stews can be intimidating at first, but building a roux is actually a remarkably simple process that leads to many wonderful dishes, including most Cajun and Southern chowders and casseroles, often combined with a Cajun version of a mirepoix known as the “holy trinity.”

The first few steps could be used for basically any thickened sauce or gravy.

  • In a large kettle, sauté onions over medium heat, in butter until tender.
  • Add flour, salt, pepper (and any other spices); stir to make a crumbled paste. By the way, if you’re not working off a recipe, a good rule of thumb is to start with equal parts fat (butter, drippings, etc.,) to flour.
  • Cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes until roux begins to turn golden and gives off a nutty aroma (this step is KEY to cooking off the “flour-y” taste, and creating a deep, rich flavor.)
  • Gradually add water, broth, meat drippings, or milk/cream (I recommend one of the latter), starting very slowly (1/4 cup at a time) stirring constantly to keep smooth.
  • Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute.

One trick Dad taught me, while working with him at one of the restaurants, was to warm whatever liquid you’re using to just steaming. This keeps the roux from cooling (stopping the cooking process) each time you add liquid to it. Some folks disagree, but it’s never failed me.

Depending on the broth/drippings, you now have an awesome gravy. Flavor check for salt, herbs, and/or spices, and it’s ready to serve.

For stews, or chowders, this is where you’d start adding all the goodies, and more liquid (usually stock) to thin.

To watch this process, see my YouTube video, “How to make a Roux, Bechamel, & Cheese Sauce” at www.homechefvideos.com


Looking for more great holiday recipes? Check out the new guidebook, “Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef’s Guide.” NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON!

Holiday Cooking: A Home Chef's Guide

 

 

Chef Perry’s Best Recipes of 2017

Best Recipes of 2017

 

As 2017 slips into the history books, it’s time for the annual “Best Of” post!

Here are the 10 recipes and technique posts that YOU, dear readers, visited and revisited the most.

From re-heating your favorite burger, to Julia’s most famous dish, to the best fried chicken…ever.

They’re all here!

(Click on each title, for the full recipe…)

Enjoy,

~Chef Perry

  1. If you haven’t subscribed to my updates, let’s start the new year off right, and sign up now! 😉

Miracle Microwave Chicken Recipe

12 Minute Miracle Chicken

I love doing this recipe in my cooking classes, just for the look on my students faces when I tell them we’re going to make “microwave chicken.” But really, we’re making poached chicken, we’re just using the microwave as the heat source. This is a great technique to shave some time off dinner prep, by multitasking while the chicken cooks.

Boeuf Bourguignon Recipe

Boeuf Bourguignon for Julia’s Birthday

This was the very first “dish that Julia made on “The French Chef” and that was deliberate. Her goal in choosing this dish (as mine is in The Home Chef) was to demystify what was, and still is, considered one of the most delicious meals you can make, and thereby demystify cooking in general.

Pasta Carbonara on AM Northwest

Pasta alla Carbonara on AM Northwest

As the saying goes, “a great time was had by all.”

Well, I can’t speak for all, but I can tell you, this guy had a blast cooking Pasta alla Carbonara on AM Northwest!

Green Chile Egg Puff Recipe

Mother’s Day Green Chili Egg Puff

Easily, the best egg dish I’ve ever had, and it’ll be the traditional Christmas breakfast at our house from now on!

Light, fluffy, savory, ethereal…like eating an egg-flavored angel!

Dragon Claws Appetizer Recipe

“Dragon Claws” BBQ Appetizer

This one was no surprise, as it’s been in the top ten list every year since it posted after my Kenmore Grills demo at RibFest!

Sticky sweet, spicy goodness…with just a breath of fire! And…trust me on this, MUCH easier to make when there isn’t a live audience and 3 television cameras in your face!

Redneck Ratatouille Recipe

Converting Crock-Pot Recipes for the Oven

Great news…you can, absolutely, cook your crock-pot recipes in the oven, using a dutch oven, cassoulet pan, or even a cast-iron skillet and some foil.

As you know, we often include crock-pot and slow-roast recipes in our weekly meal plans, so we have a LOT of practice doing conversions!

How to reheat an IN-N-OUT (or any) Burger

In the sincere hope that nothing as glorious as a Double-Double Animal Style is ever eaten chilled, or even worse, microwaved, I give you…how to reheat an In-N-Out (or any) burger to (almost) as good as new!

he Best Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Dad Perkins’ Southern Fried Chicken

This is a taste of my childhood, as it was a taste of my father’s childhood.

It’s so good, and I love it so much, that I pulled my poor old dad out of a well-earned retirement to cook up a huge batch for our wedding rehearsal dinner.

It was, of course, a smashing success (she still said “yes” the next day…)

Easiest Chicken Stock Recipe

Easiest Chicken Stock Recipe Ever

I’m going to say, right up front, that there’s no replacement for a deep, rich stock that’s simmered for hours, pulling every bit from flavor out of the meat and veggies, and into the liquid.

However, there are easier ways to do it, and this is my favorite…using the crock pot!

The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen

The Home Chef BookPart syllabus, part autobiography, part call-to-arms, The Home Chef is about the rapidly evolving landscape of cooking in America, and how to cook real food, the best food possible, in your own kitchen, and more importantly…why you should.

Filled with insider tips and tricks from the professional kitchen, hundreds of links and resources to (free) professional level education, and easy to follow instructions from a professional cooking instructor, The Home Chef: Transforming the American Kitchen is culinary school for the home cook.

Everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to take your own culinary creations to the next level, while saving time, money, and waste doing so.

Boeuf Bourguignon for Julia’s Birthday

American Masters: Julia Child

Today would be Julia Child’s 105th birthday.

IMG_3999This was the very first “dish that Julia made on “The French Chef” and that was deliberate. Her goal in choosing this dish (as mine is in The Home Chef) was to demystify what was, and still is, considered one of the most delicious meals you can make, and thereby demystify cooking in general.

In fact, the original title of The French Chef, was “French Cooking for the Servant-less American Housewife.”

Her point: It’s beef stew with red wine…anyone can make it. It also shows so many great techniques of French cooking, and the basic building blocks of preparing better food, for anyone who has an interest.

Happy Birthday, Julia!

IMG_7383

Boeuf Bourguignon ala Julia Child

For the Stew

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil                                                 
  • 3 lbs lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced                                         
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt                                                           
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 tablespoons flour                                                    
  • 3 C red wine (Bordeaux, Burgundy, Chianti)
  • 2 -3 cups beef stock                                                   
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed                                              
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

For the braised onions

  • 1 lg. Sweet onion, diced                                            
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil                                          
  • 1⁄2 cup beef stock
  • salt & fresh ground pepper                                        
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 sprigs parsley                                                          

For the Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 1 lb mushroom, quartered                                          
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the Root Veggies

  • 1lb small Yukon Gold potatoes                                
  • 4 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tsp of salt                                                                 
  • ½ lb peeled baby carrots
  • 4 large stalks of celery, chopped

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.

Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large stainless steel pan and warm over medium-high heat.

IMG_7366

Dry off the cubes of beef and fry them, a few at a time in the hot oil until nicely browned on all sides. Do not crowd the pan.

Once browned, remove to the casserole.

In the same oil/fat, sauté the onions until softened, and set them aside till needed. Deglaze the pan with a little red wine, scraping up the browned bits of meat that are stuck to the bottom.

Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is barely covered.

Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs

Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.

Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid is at a low simmer for three hours.

The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

IMG_7371

While the meat is cooking, prepare the veggies:

Pre-heat oven to 400F

Halve the potatoes, add to a large bowl with carrots and chopped celery, and toss with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, and toss again.

Place the veggies in a single layer, cut side up, on a foil-covered roasting pan, or sheet.

Roast until just medium brown, and not quite cooked through. (10-12 minutes)

IMG_7368

For the mushrooms:

Heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large skillet.

As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms, tossing and shaking frequently, for about five minutes.

As soon as they’ve browned lightly, remove from heat.

To Finish the Stew:

When the beef is done, remove the casserole from the oven and empty into a sieve over a saucepan.

Return the solids to the pot, and add all of the veggies to the meat.

Skim the fat off the sauce and bring it to a simmer, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface. You should have around 2 1/2 cups of sauce, thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.

If it’s too thick, add a little stock. Too thin, simmer to reduce to the right consistency.

Taste for seasoning.

Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.

IMG_7373

If you’re serving immediately, warm over medium-low heat and simmer a couple of minutes.

Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter, garnished with fresh parsley.

If serving later or the next day, allow the casserole to cool and place cold, covered casserole in the refrigerator.

20 minutes prior to serving, place over medium low heat and simmer very slowly for ten minutes, occasionally basting the meat and veggies.

IMG_7379

Easiest way to Grill a Mess of Shrimp

Easy Grilled Shrimp

So, I needed to grill up a whole mess of shrimp appetizers (recipe below) for a cook-out yesterday. While shopping, I found these kabob baskets on a clearance shelf for $3 each (normally about $10 for a set of two on Amazon), and had an epiphany.

What I don’t like about grilling shrimp kabobs:

  • It takes up a lot of grill space.
  • You’re constantly turning and keeping an eye on a lot of individual pieces of shrimp.
  • I always forget to soak my skewers long enough.
  • Served on the skewer (the way I like) can leave for sooty fingers, which my clients aren’t wild about.

What I like about shrimp kabobs:

  • They’re awesome.
  • They’re easy to eat.
  • They help with portion control (ie: everyone gets some, without breaking the bank on shrimp gluttons!)

So, I had a thought…what if I grilled up a bunch of these beauties at a time, and THEN added them to the skewers for serving. Problem: now instead of a dozen or two skewers to keep track ff, I have a couple of hundred individual shrimp to keep turning and moving…and quickly!

Shrimp will overcook or burn quicker than it takes to say, “Oh, S***!” Especially when marinated with an oil or alcohol base.

The solution? The kabob basket!

Kabob basket for grilling shrimpI loaded 40 large shrimp per basket, set them on the grill, and cooked about 3 minutes per side, flipping baskets (40 servings at a time) just three time each.

The best way to grill a lot of shrimp
Photo by Kristen Renner

Open the baskets, a quick flip of the wrist, and all the shrimp were in the bowl ready to skewer!

Grilling shrimp with a kabob basket
Photo by Kristen Renner

The result? Enough appetizers to keep the whole crowd happy, in less than 20 minutes, AND I was able to work on other dishes at the same time!

Then, just pop a couple of the en of each clean skewer, spritz with some lemon juice, and sprinkle the whole platter with chopped parsley.

I will NEVER grill shrimp any other way again!

Chef Perry

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

Shrimp Salmoriglio
Serves 40 (2 skewers each)

  • 1/2 cup salted capers
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 6 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • 150 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice for spritzing
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced

On a cutting board, finely chop the drained capers with the basil leaves and garlic.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season the sauce with pepper.

Place shrimp in a large zip bag, pour in the marinade, seals and toss to coat. Let rest in the fridge 2-8 hours.

1 hour before grilling, remove from fridge and let sit on counter.

Light a grill, coals, etc

Drain the shrimp, and load as many as will fit into each kabob box, without packing them too tightly. Close the box.

Grill over high heat, turning once per side, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the shrimp from the box and transfer them to a platter (or a bowl, if you’re going to skewer them, 2-3 per skewer). Sprinkle more pepper on on top (optional), a healthy handful of minced parsley, and serve.

Home Chef Note: You could easily change this up to a great “South of the Border” version, by swapping the capers an basil for chili powder and minced jalapenos, limes for the lemons, and cilantro instead of parsley!

Mexican grilled shrimp

 

Hello my friend…

A letter to the bullied

Hello my friend…

I’m writing this letter to the young man who stutters, or has an acne problem, or is just smaller than everyone else. To the young lady who never seems to know what to say, or may be carrying a few extra pounds, or who’s skin is a different color than everyone else in class.

You may not believe it, but once upon a time, I was the littlest kid in class. An only child with a sick mom, a sever speech impediment, coke-bottle glasses, and a thrift-store wardrobe…in other words, I was an easy target.

You know what I’m talking about.

Bullies made my life a nightmare from the 3rd grade, through most of high-school. With no real friends or defenders, it was a frightening, lonely way to grow up, and I still carry some of those scars, on my skin and on my heart, forty years later, and I always will.

So will you.

Bullies suck, and so does being bullied.

You don’t deserve it, you didn’t ask for it, and it’s not happening because there’s anything wrong with YOU. You are amazing. You are beautiful, and there is not another living soul on earth who is like you. That makes you a treasure beyond price.

Maybe your parents don’t understand, maybe your teachers and coaches were never bullied, and can’t relate, but you’re not alone.

You are SO not alone.

Your bullies are weak, and scared, and small. So small on the inside that the only thing that makes them feel good about themselves is to make someone else feel bad.

How sad is that?

But, you know what? There’s a gift in being bullied.

That can be hard to accept, believe me, I know.

But it’s true.

It can make you strong. It can make you brave. But most importantly, it can make you…kind.

And it’s not easy (but you’re used to things not being easy, aren’t you?)

You see, when you know what it feels like, the fear, the confusion, the betrayal, the pain…you can choose to let it make you bitter, to make you as small inside as the ones who hurt you, OR you can use it to guide how you treat others, how you speak to others in pain, how you protect and defend those weaker than you. How to choose compassion and mercy, over hate.

How you be exactly the kind of hero that you lay awake longing for.

Hate is easy, any small-minded weakling can hate. But love…love and kindness are the strongest powers in the universe, and when you have that strength, you cannot be beaten.

Because you…YOU…know.

And because you know, you have greatness in you.

You are developing a strength that many will never attain, no matter how fast, or smart, or rich, or pretty. A strength of heart, and of mind.

You will be able to see things others don’t, do things other’s can’t.

And the world needs you…desperately. They need you more and more every day, because it’s people like you…like US…that have the power to make the world a better place…because we know.

chef-perry-perkinsChoose Kindness, little hero, and hang in there.

It will get better…I promise.

Your friend,

Chef Perry
chefperryperkins.com

If you’ve know what I’m talking about, please share this.

If not, share it anyway, you never know who’s reading.