Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Best 4th of July Recipes

This holiday is smokin' at Cheapskate HQ for the 4th of July, and that includes getting out the BBQ grill for a backyard blowout. So read on as I light up the sky with recipes, selected especially for Independence Day dining. Just click on any recipe name below and you'll be directed to my original blog post of eats illustrated with yummy photos and tasty text.

Smoking Pastrami

Lets start with the main meat course. This Chintzy Chef cooks with chicken because it's the cheapest.



And dark meat is the best bargain. I can even get boneless and skinless chicken leg quarters on sale for around 99 cents per pound at my local Latin market. They also sell 10-pound bags of plain whole leg quarters for 49 cents per pound! I 21-gun salute ethnic groceries...fire!


Use your favorite BBQ sauce for a traditional redwhite and blue backyard poultry broiling. I just season cheap chicken pieces with salt and pepper and slather on the BBQ sauce. Before serving, slice into the thickest part of the chicken piece to make sure the juices run clean - no pink or red is allowed!

Next to chicken, pork is one cheap protein and I like to smoke it. Smoking thick meaty Country-style Pork Ribs are my favorite. I boil the ribs until tender (you can also wrap them in foil and oven roast) then throw them on the gas grill for an hour of smoking. This is a tasty shortcut to using traditional all-day smokers. My blogpost shows you how to smoke pork ribs 2 ways.


A Classic Potato Salad is my cool preferred side dish for grilled protein. I use a whole lotta mayo and boiled eggs, but it's easily vegan by leaving out eggs and using a tasty mayo substitute.



During BBQ offseason on cold winter days when I'm hunkered down in my bunker, like George Washington at Valley Forge, I Easy Bake Spare Ribs until the porcine flesh surrenders moist and tender. If you don't like smoke in your eyes then this is a great way to go.



What makes America great is our mosaic of cultures, so why not get multi-culti and try my recipe for a Thai-style Chicken Satay with a Peanut Dipping Sauce. The Japanese version of grilled Shish Kabobs is called Yakatori. And Japanese chefs like to grill it all, even chicken livers. If that is too pungent for you it's okay to substitute liver with pieces of regular chicken fillets. Everything tastes better when served on a skewer.

Chicken Satay - ready for the grill.

Los Angeles has a bustling Koreatown and I have had the pleasure to try a few Korean BBQ joints. Enter and you are enveloped in smoke from the tabletop grills, loaded down with marinated beef and chicken. I have my own cheap$kate version of Korean BBQ you can make for your next backyard gathering.

It's all about the marinade that mainly consists of garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. It's a potent combination you should try out sometime. Just click here for my Korean-style BBQ Chicken recipe. The photo below shows grilled boneless and skinless dark meat leg quarters.


Beef hamburger is just too darn expensive for the Tightwad Cuisinier. But fortunately, Dollar Tree comes to the rescue with two quarter-pound patties for a buck!


I stuff my crumb-catcher with grilled hamburger slathered in BBQ sauce, sauteed mushrooms, and melty cheese.


You can't go wrong with grilled hot dogs, and I have a couple of unusual recipes I think you will enjoy (it's easy enough to substitute hot dogs with your favorite specialty sausages - if you're the artisan type).

Here in Los Angeles, we have a uniquely constructed wiener sold by sidewalk purveyors called the L.A. Street Dog. It's a crazy combination of sauteed onion and bell pepper that's strewn over a bacon-wrapped wiener, then topped with mayo, mustard, ketchup, and finally crowned with a spicy jalapeƱo!

You've never had a hot dog like this - it's the roman candle of finger foods. In my video below I grill the bacon wrapped wiener on the stovetop, but it's even better sizzling on your BBQ grill.



Allow me to introduce to you to a Currywurst, which is a sausage or hot dog that's grilled and topped with a spicy sauce consisting of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, cayenne pepper, and curry powder (dried cumin). This Berlin, Germany delicacy started just after WWII as street food for British and American soldiers stationed there. It sounds like a weird combination of ingredients, but it works and it's easy to make, so give it a go - it makes a great appetizer served with toothpicks.

Currywurst

Another Eastern European entree is made with grilled Sausages, Sauerkraut and Beer. Now that's a combination I can get behind! Again, I cooked this dish on a stovetop but you can cook the sausages over an open fire for extra charred flavor and finish with a bath of beer and sauerkraut.


I like plain hot dogs with just relish and mustard. To add some veggie crunch, try my bastardized version of a Chicago Dog. I can't get dayglow green relish out here in LA so I tweaked the Windy City's fast food classic by adding some chopped lettuce along with traditional sliced tomato. Check out my wacky video below, where my Chicago Dog is the punchline.



Hamburger is a backyard grill favorite and I have a South of the Border spin with my Mexi-Turkey Burger. It packs a lot of flavor with the namesake ingredient, Mexican chorizo, which has a deep flavored red chile taste, spiced with paprika, Mexican oregano and garlic powder. And you can use regular ground beef instead of poultry. Get out the salsa for my Mexi-Burger.

Attention all you lovers of smoked pork, the following entree will have you asking for seconds and thirds. I like to smoke a whole pork shoulder when I throw a patio BBQ party.


If you have traveled the South then you've run across BBQ Pulled Pork. Mainly served between buns and topped with BBQ sauce, this crowd-pleasing self-serve sandwich has it all: smokey tender pork that's seasoned with a dry rub of sugar and spice.
Pulled Pork Dry Rub
Click on photos to see larger.

Just set out a tub of Pulled Pork along with hamburger buns, BBQ sauce, sliced onion, pickles and Coleslaw, and get out of the way as the line forms. And I have an easy gas grill smoking method you can see in my video below.



Pork Carnitas are my favorite tacos.  This version is a less oily gringo version, that what's served at a taco truck, but I add citrus juices and Mexican Cola for extra flavor.

While not done on a BBQ grill it's still one of my go-to backyard holiday foods, so I gotta give you the recipe anyway. You can always give it a quick smoke pass to kick it up a notch. It really is the perfect party food because you sit back and let your friends build each taco their way. Go to the following blog post to see some tasty Homemade Salsas to serve with any tacos you like to make.

Carnitas Taco

And pork is still cheap these days, especially when it comes on sale at my local Latin market, Superior Grocers. So you won't break the bank feeding your lovers of all things porcine.


I seldom cook with beef because it's just too darn expensive, but when I splurge it's for ribeye steak. I just season it with salt and pepper, that's it. Sometimes I'll finish it with a little BBQ sauce. But if you want to impress your guests then try out my Carne Asada recipe. Ribeye (or any favorite tender cut) is marinated in cilantro, green onion, garlic, lime juice, and a little ground cumin. When done, chop the meat for Carne Asada Tacos or a Warm Steak Salad.



Carne Asada Marinade

Whew, I'm beat. Man, that's a lot of recipes...time for some Red, White, and Brew!

And, long may it pour.

If you are smoking meat, then throw on a slab of corned beef brisket for Homemade Pastrami. I always freeze 2 or 3 corned beef briskets when they are less than 2 dollars per pound during St. Patrick's day/week sales during the month of March.


My Smoked Homemade Pastrami recipe is tasty as any Jewish Deli version - so says everyone I've served it too. I think it's because the smoky flavor it more intense fresh off the grill, than from a deli where the pastrami has been setting in the cold case for a few days. Hey, don't take my word for it, give it a shot and get ready for all the high fives sure to come your way!



Seafood and a BBQ grill go together. You have to have a delicate touch as fish is easy to overcook. But it should be done quickly so you won't smell too smokey slaving over the grill.

Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash

My Cajun nephew Zakk has put in his time as a line cook, and he gave me a Top Chef performance in his recipe video for Blackened Fish with Sweet Potato Hash. While he does his sauteing in the kitchen, you can grill the fish over an open flame, instead of the stovetop.


Gonzales, Louisiana local market 4th of July grocery flyer with great cheap deals.

I like a pot of beans on the stove simmering while I'm grilling. Cook them the day before and they taste even better the next. Be sure to set out a stack of bowls so your guest can help themselves. I like to have some grated cheese and minced onion on the side. My New Orleans friend, Miss Patty, has a delish Vegetarian Red Beans recipe for you, and I have my own Beef & Bean Chili. And it's "Viva Revolution!" with my Cuban Black Beans recipe.

There is nothing better at stoking appetites than walking past the kitchen and inhaling the savory perfume of seasoned legumes slow cooking on the stovetop.


My Mom once took over my cheap$kate kitchen and set off a flavor M80 bomb: Cajun Potato Salad. It was so good I had to make a video to share her recipe with you.



I have a deep-fried Fish Taco recipe that's easily adapted for outdoor grilling. Just leave off the batter and grill the fish for a lighter and healthier pescado. Check out my recipe for all the details, including a cool Creme Topping.

A bag of tortilla chips and a light Seafood Ceviche made with budget fake crab is a chill appetizer to greet the guests with.

Seafood Ceviche

For my vegetarian friends, the following recipes are for you. My sister Denise has a fav veggie Eggplant Burger (and easy enough to BBQ instead of frying pan sauteing).

 Eggplant Burger

Portabella Mushroom Burger

A tasty meat substitution is an earthy Portabella Mushroom Burger that's topped with grilled bell pepper and cheese (or use a cheese substitute). Roast a few ears or corn to serve with the veggie burgers or go a little further and make my Roasted Cream Corn.



It's all about the veggie sides when you have a BBQ patio party, and boy do I have the recipe cherry (tomato) flavor bombs to prove it. You can simply drizzle a little olive oil and season any fave summer veggie to grill over an open flame.

 Braised Romain Heart

A new favorite veggie to grill is Sweet Potatoes and Yams. They are the cherry bomb of tubers. Grill until soft and sweet with an extra charred flavor. I like to slice them thick to get a creamy soft interior.


Now you do have to watch closely as the high sugar content will cause them to burn easily. But a little blackening is just extra flavor!

Russet and Sweet Potatoes

Click on any recipe name to get my recipe details for Russet and Sweet PotatoesYamsGrilled Bell PeppersZucchini with Herbs, and Braised Romain Hearts (originally done inside, but easy enough to do outside).


You gotta have Potato or Macaroni Salads when you grill meat. I have a colorful Peanut Coleslaw made with red cabbage. But a regular Coleslaw it good enough for me.



Pack my classic ChickenTuna, or Egg Salad for a holiday picnic and watch fireworks from the comfort of your lawn chairs.



The kernels pop with flavor, like a string of firecrackers, when you work your way around an ear of my Boiled Corn. And it goes with any type of picnic you pack. Click here to see how I do it.


While your guests await the main event, get them started with sparkling light salads such as a refreshing Watermelon, Mango and Spinachhearty Black Bean & Corn, and an exotic, but simple, Korean-style Cucumber Salad, a tangy Cuban Salad, or luscious Pears & Spinach with Herb Cream.


Watermelon, Mango & Spinach Salad

If you are doing burgers, then you want fries to go with it, and my double-fried French Fries does the trick.


And great grocery deals are happening this week, too. Steak, hamburger, chicken, corn, watermelon and hamburger buns are all on sale right now. Be sure to check out your local grocery fliers for all the holiday deals.


Independence Day is fast approaching, so create your own 4th of July menu using any of the Patriotic Chef's recipes above. I guarantee your guest will need to chase down the flavorful culinary fireworks you serve with iced tea and a lemon slice, a glass of chilled Chardonnay, or a frosty bottle of beer. Pop a cork and bring it on!

Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Hot Dogs of Summer - Kraut Dog

It's summertime the time is right for Hot Dogs. My Hot Dog Series covers all the greatest hits including Kraut Dog, Mustard & Relish Dog, Chili Dog, plus the killer combos of Kraut & Chili Dog, Slaw & Chili Dog, and Relish & Chili Dog. Now that's a mouthful and they are all cheap of course. So keep checking back here for all the yummy recipes served with tasty text and scrumptious photos!


Okay let's be frank, anyone can make these, and maybe this Series is just a celebration of  America's favorite frankfurter or a reminder of the joys of dining simply.

Click on any photo to see larger.

These days it easy to make vegan versions using tofu dogs and vegan chili, so everyone can join in summertime patio Hot Dog partying.

 And the main ingredients of a Hot Dog are cheap of course, but that's not the only reason to like them. They are just a satisfying combination of flavors that you can build any way you like.

A package of Hot Dog Buns for about a buck? Check. I prefer regular white flour buns, but I often find whole wheat bun on sale too -- it's all good.


Meaty tube steak for a buck? If you know where to look and don't mind if they are a mix of beef, chicken, and pork. I always find them on sale at my local 99c only Store and Dollar Tree.



I mean, there is a texture taste difference - I find the typically mixed meat wieners a bit softer when you bite into them and with a milder meaty taste, while an all-beef wiener has more snap and thicker texture and an intense beef flavor. Depending on how my pocketbook is feeling I can work with any type of Hot Dog wieners.


Do you like your weenies steamed, sauteed, or grilled? I find it easiest to just steam mine in a pot with a basket and covered until they are hot and plump. This way you can walk away and get all the fixing ready while they cook - when you steam them you don't have to worry about burnt weenies.


How about the Hot Dog Buns? Well, at the last minute I will throw in a couple of buns on top of my steaming wieners, cover and give them a minute to soften. This works especially well if the buns are old and hard.


You do have to watch steaming buns as they can become soggy, although you can always let a soggy bun dry out for a couple of minutes if necessary.

 If I am barbequing then I will grill the wieners and add the buns at the finish line - same with sauteing in a frying pan on a stovetop.

I like Hot Dogs dress simply with mustard and sweet or sour pickle relish. I always can find jars for a buck.


\My first Hot Dog of Summer is a Kraut Dog and it may be my favorite. The good thing about sauerkraut is that it lasts forever when bought in a can or jar. And once opened and stored in the refrigerator it has a long shelf-life. I've kept sauerkraut for more than 2 weeks in the fridge. It's hard to tell when it goes bad as it is so sour.


And to add sour to sour, I like mustard too! With a soft neutral bun and a beefy hot dog, it's a delicious combo of flavors I never get bored with.

Sauerkraut doesn't show up at my local 99c only Store every day, so when it does I usually get a few cans or jars to keep in the cupboard. I can't tell a difference between sauerkraut that is jarred or canned, I guess the salty brine overpowers any difference between cabbage and sauerkraut recipes.


My girlfriend spent time in Germany so she likes her sauerkraut heated up - I don't mind it right out of the can and at room temperature. I think we can both agree to drain and shake out the kraut before piling it on the wiener.


There's nothing to making a Kraut Dog really, just heat the tube steak and bun then load it up with kraut and mustard. You can make it your own way and leave out the mustard. My neighbor Bob likes his with ketchup...hmmm. I would add pickle relish for sure.


Here is the whole shebang, from bun to weenie. Just watch my Kraut Dog video below and try not to drool.
Kraut Dog - Video

Play it here, video runs 1 minute, 53 seconds.

So, how do you like to make yours? Leave a comment and let's compare wiener...recipes. Ha, ha, I couldn't resist. And check back for more simply delicious and cheap Hot Dogs. So load up the steamer basket or fire up the grill and get to cooking one of my yummy Hot Dog recipes!

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