Friday, June 28, 2019

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!

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 jalapeño!

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.


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!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Easy Baked Ribs - Video Recipe

Summertime is right for ribs. I guess anytime is fine, but I usually smoke ribs in my patio during the warm weather months. But for this recipe I make it easy by only baking the Ribs.

My latest recipe features cheaper Pork Spare Ribs but you can use any you like or find on sale, include Beef Ribs.

I first add a 3-ingredient dry rub and favorite barbecue sauce on the ribs. Wrap them in foil. Finally, you bake ribs until tender, about 3 to 4 hours.It's important to wrap the ribs in foil so they do not dry out and will stay moist with steaming to reach fall-apart tenderness.

I use a simple dry rub of garlic and chili powder along with salt and pepper, that's it. You can even buy store bought versions, or use your own family recipe.

Memphis Style BBQ dry rub mix

You can use any local favorite dry rub and barbecue sauce that's on sale.

Click on any photo to see larger.

I get my Pork Spare Ribs for about $2 per pound from my local Latin grocery store called Superior Grocers, now that's a good deal.

My simple dry rub ingredients come from a local Dollar Tree and 99c only Store. Barbecue sauce is cheap at any grocery store. If you have a local fave then use that.

This summer I'm racking up with slabs of Easy Baked Ribs for my summer patio parties. How about you?
Easy Smoked Ribs - Video

Play it here. Video runs 2 minutes, 26 seconds.

My YouTube video link for viewing or embedding, just click here.

  • 1 large rack pork spare ribs - about 4 pounds. You can use this recipe for any favorite pork or beef ribs.
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder - any dried type of garlic.
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder - okay to substitute with paprika.
  • Salt and Pepper to taste - I used about a tablespoon each
* If you have a favorite premixed or grocery store Dry Rub then use that instead of garlic powder and chili powder.

With the meat side up, apply garlic and chili powder, plus salt and pepper - sprinkle over pork spare ribs. You can lightly rub seasoning onto meat side. For extra meaty ribs then add seasonings all over the ribs.

Can you sprinkle on a half a teaspoon of Liquid Smoke? Sure, why not.

Finally, add BBQ sauce. Okay to leave it off, if you like your Easy Baked Ribs plain.

Some recipes call for removing the bottom rib membrane. I don't because the ribs are cooked so long the tough membrane renders to a soft fatty texture. But if you want to follow the crowd go ahead and remove membrane.

 If I was grilling only (no baking stage) then I would slice away most of the membrane on the rib/bone side. Shorter times of grilling would not last long enough to tenderize, so the membrane will be tough and stringy.

rib membrane

To prepare the ribs for baking, wrap Spare Ribs in foil tightly. Try not to tear the foil or leave any holes or the meat juices will steam away and the ribs will dry out a bit too much.

Place the meat wrapped in foil on a rack or pan. Some meat juices will leak out a little bit, so best to have a pan to catch it. I keep the meat side facing up. If meat is in contact with a hot pan surface it will fry, dry and toughen.

The view inside foil while baking.

When done baking wait 5 minutes and carefully unwrap the ribs, they may still be hot. If any meat juices are left you can pour out and save to drizzle on ribs when serving.

I like to serve my Easy Baked Ribs with cool Coleslaw or Potato Salad, click on recipe names to read all about them.

Hindsight - Easy Smoked Baked Ribs
Follow my baking directions above. Just leave off the barbecue sauce. When done wait a few minutes then unwrap and remove foil carefully as ribs will be very hot.

Add the meat to a pan or rack with a bottom. You can also just put the meat on your bbq grill. This is when I add a layer of barbecue sauce to the rib meat. Put on as much or as little as you like. Hey, you can even leave it off.

I do an easy smoking method, that is, I smoke the cooked and baked ribs in a gas grill with a cover for just an hour only. For the real thing, you normally have to smoke meat all day.

My simple smoking method uses a pan of wood chips that rests over a low gas flame. I find the dry wood chips start smoking in less than 5  minutes. I only have to add more chips a couple of times, pushing aside or removing the burnt wood.

The flame is under the wood chips only, so the ribs get indirect heat from the smoke. After an hour the barbecue sauce will dry out some and the meat will get a crunchy coating.

Spare Ribs have most of the meat on one side so make sure the meat is facing up to get all the smoke flavor. Some ribs have meat on both sides, so turn the meat a couple of times during smoking time.

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