A Holiday treat: Herb-crusted Beef Tenderloin

December 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

My mom has always wanted to make a crown roast and so for our post-Christmas family get together we decided we wanted to make a special dish. After quickly figuring out that a crown roast was just typically pork or lamb and that the beef version is a standing rib roast, we decided to shift our plans. We had a good bit of pork already over the holidays and the standing rib roast just didn’t seem to have the appeal of the full crown.

After a quick look around, we quickly settled on this Cook’s Country recipe (slightly adapted) for an herb-crusted beef tenderloin from a local DE butcher. As a bonus, It immediately made me think of team member B, as a trip back to Minneapolis from a family visit to WI could often be accompanied by beef tenderloin since it tends to be cheaper across that border. I, on the other hand, had never cooked this fairly pricey cut of meat and was a little nervous. However this recipe is super easy, no stress, and so tasty. The crisp herb crust with the parmesan was a nice counter to the perfectly tender beef and just added the perfect level of flavor. It really is a great, yet easy, dish for a special meal.


The stuff

1 whole beef tenderloin (4-6 lbs, trimmed, tied–tail under the roast–and patted dry)

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp freshly ground pepper

2 tsp sugar

1/2 cup panko

2 tsp and 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

1 1/4 cups Grated Parmesan cheese (divided into 1/2 cup and 3/4 cup)

6 tbsp of olive oil (divided into 2 and 4 tbsp)

4 garlic cloves minced (optional if you’re cooking for people who can’t do garlic)

The steps

Make sure to give yourself enough time. The meat needs to sit at room temp for 2 hours prior to going into the oven, cook for ~40-50 minutes), then rest for 20-30 minutes. 

1. Make sure the tenderloin in prepped. The tail tucked under and tied and the roast patted dry.

2. Combine the 1 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of pepper and 2 tbsp of sugar in a small bowl. Rub this mixture all over the tenderloin.

3. Transfer tenderloin to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours.

4. While the meat is resting make the 2 rubs. In a small bowl toss the bread crumbs with 2 tsp thyme, 2 tbsp parsley, 1/2 cup parmesan and 2 tbsp oil until thoroughly combined.

5. In a separate bowl mix the remaining 2 tbsp thyme, 6 tbsp parsley, 3/4 cup parmesan, garlic and 4 tbsp of oil until it’s a nice smooth paste (this can be done in a food processor if desired).

6. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and pre-heat to 400 degrees.

7. Roast tenderloin for 20 minutes, remove from the oven. Cut and remove the twine from the roast.

8. Coat tenderloin with the herb paste all over the top and a little on the sides, followed by the bread crumb mixture.

9. Roast until the thickest part registers to 130 degrees (for medium rare) and the topping is golden brown (20-30 minutes). Tent loosely if topping gets too brown before the meat is ready.

10. Make sure to let the roast rest, uncovered on the wire rack for 20-30 minutes.

11. Transfer to cutting board, slice and impress your dinner guests!


Easy Beef and Potato Stew (Seriously easy and seriously beefy)

October 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

This is now the go to slow cooker beef stew recipe I’ve been making lately. Now that Fall is here, it’s certainly going to be part of the regular rotation. It really is quite beefy, so head to Sam’s or Costco to get the large portion of meat. The recipe is derived from the ATK slow cooker easy prep cookbook, which has been a great resource for crockpot cooking. Basically I added a few more herbs and carrots to the recipe. Unfortunately I have no good pictures of the stew, because stew generally does not photo well, but it sure tastes yummy!

The Stuff

2 10.5 oz cans of condensed French onion soup

1 cup water

1/4 cup tomato paste

2 1/2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1-2 tsp dried thyme

1-2 tsp dried, crushed rosemary

2 pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in half

3-4 carrots, cut in large chunks

4 pounds (yes, 4!, but 3 works too) stew meat in 1 1/2 inch pieces (or use sirloin steak tips)

salt and pepper to taste (shouldn’t need much salt)

2 cups of frozen peas (gets added at the end of the cooking process)

The details

1. Whisk soup, water, tomato paste, tapioca and herbs together in the slow cooker.

2. Stir in potatoes and carrots.

3. Season beef with a little salt and pepper, and stir into slow cooker. There is enough liquid but add up to another 1/2 cup if desired.

4. Cover and cook until beef is tender. 9-10 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high.

5. Skim excess fat from surface of the stew. Stir in the peas and let sit until heated through (5-10 minutes while some bread is heating in the oven perhaps).

6. Adjust consistency of the stew with extra hot broth if needed. Season with a little pepper (and/or salt) if needed. And eat it up. Leftovers also freeze fairly well.

Herb Braised Ham (An Easter Dinner for those on South Beach)

April 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

So this was my experiment for a nice holiday meal while on South Beach. It was quite a success! I’d up the herbs a bit (increased amounts are reflected in below recipe) and maybe throw in some rosemary? but it’s a good technique for this kind of ham. And by this kind I mean a picnic ham (smoked pork shoulder), a cut that I’m not that familiar with.

Adapted recipe from Gourmet ‘03

  • 1 (9- to 12-pound) bone-in smoked pork shoulder (sometimes called picnic ham)
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 10 (5-inch) fresh thyme sprigs plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped leaves
  • 10 fresh flat-leaf parsley stems plus 1/4 cup finely chopped leaves
  • 1/2-1 whole nutmeg, smashed with side of a large heavy knife
  • 1 heaping teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups water

*Those not on a low carb diet could also add a couple of carrots to the mix.

**I’d also recommend using 2 cups of white wine instead of the chicken broth, and then use 4-5 cups of water.

Special equipment: a deep 10- to 20-quart pot (such as a stockpot, lobster pot, or canning pot); a wide 7-10 quart heavy ovenproof pot; an instant-read thermometer (preferably remote digital with probe)

The Prep

Put ham in deep 10- to 20-quart pot and cover with cold water (don’t worry if bone sticks out). Bring to a boil, then drain ham. (THIS IS CRUCIAL. Otherwise everything will be way too salty!)

Put oven rack in lower third of oven (remove any other racks) and preheat oven to 350°F.

Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well. Cook leeks, onion, (carrots), celery, garlic, thyme sprigs, parsley stems, nutmeg, peppercorns, and cloves in 2 tablespoons butter in wide 7- to 10-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.

The herbs are cookin'!

Add chicken broth or wine and bring to a boil, then add ham, skin side down, and water (liquid will not cover ham) and return to a boil.

Cover pot tightly with lid or, if ham sticks up over top of pot, with heavy-duty foil. Braise ham in oven 1 hour.

Turn ham skin side up and continue to braise in oven, covered, until thermometer inserted into center of ham (do not touch bone) registers 120°F, about 1 hour more (if ham was labeled “fully cooked”), or 160°F, about 2 hours more (if ham was labeled “partially cooked”). (I cooked mine for a total of 3.5 hours and it was marvelous. It was only about 9 lbs.)

Transfer ham to a platter and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 45 minutes.

***While ham stands, pour braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3-quart saucepan, pressing on and discarding solids, and skim off any fat. Bring braising liquid to a simmer and whisk in flour/butter mixture to thicken sauce/gravy. Continue to simmer, whisking, until sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped thyme and parsley.

Remove skin from ham, then slice meat and serve with sauce.


***So again, on South Beach, butter isn’t highly recommended and flour is a no go. We only strained out the peppercorns and chunks of nutmeg nut. Then we pureed the remaining vegetables along with some steamed cauliflower and added that as a no-carb thickener. Worked really well.

If you’re us, serve with roasted brussels sprouts and SB mashed potatoes.

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Award winning Chili

March 13, 2011 § 4 Comments

This is the famous chili that won me a gift certificate to Red Lobster!

It’s from CC 2010. Hollywood Chili as perfected in the Test Kitchen and derived from a now-defunct Hollywood establishment. It’s pretty darn good. And since it’s been designed by the great ATK folks, it’s hard to mess with it too much, so just go with it.

I do think that part of my win was due to the avocado salsa that I made to accompany the chili. A mix of avocado chunks, cilantro, and red onion, with a little lime, salt and pepper. Deliciously simple. Perfect addition.

Hollywood-Style Chili

Serves 6 to 8

3 pounds  bone-in pork blade chops , about 1 1/2 inches thick (must be thick, thin ones don’t work as well)
Salt and pepper 
4 tablespoons  unsalted butter 
2 pounds  85 percent lean ground chuck 
3 green bell peppers , seeded and chopped fine
2 onions , chopped fine
4 garlic cloves , minced
1/4 cup  chili powder 
2 teaspoons  ground cumin 
1 teaspoon  minced canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce (1-2 chilis)
2 teaspoons  adobo sauce (or more to taste–I added more like 4)
1 (29-ounce) can  tomato sauce 
2 (28-ounce) cans  crushed tomatoes 
1 cup  water 
3 (16-ounce) cans  pinto beans , drained and rinsed***

***I like canellini and black beans, so I used a mixture.

1. BROWN MEAT Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer pork to plate. Add beef to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain beef and set aside.

2. COOK VEGETABLES Return Dutch oven to medium heat and melt remaining butter. Add peppers and onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. SIMMER CHILI Stir in chile, adobo sauce, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, and water and bring to boil. Return pork and beef to pot, along with any accumulated juices. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until pork is tender, about 1 hour.

4. ADD BEANS Transfer pork to cutting board. When cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones, -discarding fat, and chop coarsely. Use wide spoon to skim any fat from surface of chili. Stir chopped pork and pinto beans into pot, return to simmer, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve. (Chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Tater tot hot dish!

March 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

This is Nick’s creation with a little addition here and there due to Mike’s need for a fresh ingredient or two.

Recipe upcoming

The Great Cassoulet Experiment

March 7, 2010 § 6 Comments

French Cassoulet

(White bean and pork casserole with duck confit)

I purchased pre-made duck confit for this recipe thanks to Clancy’s meat (where I was fortunate enough to buy all of the meat products). The original recipe calls for you to make your own confit at the same time as the “bean stew.” I’ve just shown the recipe as I’ve used it, but feel free to make your own if you dare.

From ATK 2009

Table salt
1 pound dried cannellini beans (about 2 cups), rinsed and picked over
2 medium celery ribs
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs thyme
1 pound fresh garlic sausage*
1/4 pound salt pork , rinsed of excess salt**
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound pork shoulder , cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots , peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
4 medium garlic cloves , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
Ground black pepper


legs duck confit, skin removed, meat pulled from bone in large pieces***

large slices high-quality white sandwich bread , torn into rough pieces****

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
*I found a great garlic sausage, but irish bangers or the easier to find brats can be used successfully

**I used a hunk of pancetta as a easy to find substitute

***As I said above I used prepared confit

****I was surprised using fresh (not dried) slices of bread worked. I used the ATK recommended Pep Farms hearty white.


  1. Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 3 quarts cold water in large bowl or container. Add beans and soak at room temperature, 8 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.*****
  2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Using kitchen twine, tie together celery, bay leaf, and thyme, and set aside. Place sausage and salt pork in medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by 1 inch; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Transfer sausages to cutting board, allow to cool slightly, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Remove salt pork from water; set aside.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Add sausage pieces and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes total. Transfer to medium bowl.
  5. Add pork shoulder and brown on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring constantly, until onion is translucent, about 2 minutes.
  6. Add garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  7. Return sausage to Dutch oven; add white wine, using wooden spoon to scrape browned bits from bottom of pan. Cook until slightly reduced, about 30 seconds.
  8. Stir in diced tomatoes, celery bundle, and reserved salt pork.
  9. Stir in broth and beans, pressing beans into even layer. If any beans are completely exposed, add up to 1 cup water to submerge (beans may still break surface of liquid). Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are tender, about 1½ hours.
  10. Remove stew from oven and increase temperature to 350 degrees.
  11. Remove celery bundle and salt pork from bean stew and discard (or dice salt pork and return to stew as I did). Using large spoon or ladle, skim fat from surface of stew and discard. Adjust seasoning of stew with salt and pepper. Add duck meat and stir gently to combine. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  12. Meanwhile, pulse bread and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in food processor until crumbs are no larger than 1/8 inch, eight to ten 1-second pulses. Transfer to medium bowl, add parsley, and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  13. Sprinkle 1/2 cup bread-crumb mixture evenly over casserole; bake, covered, 15 minutes. Remove lid and bake 15 minutes longer.
  14. Sprinkle remaining bread-crumb mixture over top of casserole and bake until topping is golden brown and beans are bubbling around edges of pot, about 30 minutes. Let rest 15 minutes before serving.

*****It was totally worth it to brine the beans overnight, and it worked really well. I highly recommend it. Alternatively a “quick brine” can be done by placing the salt, water and beans in a dutch oven and getting the water to a rolling boil over high heat.  Remove from heat, cover and let sit for an hour. Then drain and rinse as directed in the recipe. Honestly, this sounds like more work, but do as you will. I think canned beans may turn to complete mush in the recipe, so although super easy I think it’s a bad idea.

Then serve and eat it up!

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Swedish meatballs: The MN comfort food

February 9, 2010 § 1 Comment

It’s not pretty, but sure is good. And no, your mom’s recipe isn’t better. I call this the “healthy” version because I have been choosing to serve it with SB mashed potatoes (i.e. cauliflower).




Swedish Meatballs
from CI, Jan 2009

1 large egg
1/4 c heavy cream
*1 large slice hearty sandwich bread, crusts removed and bread torn into 1-inch pieces
8 oz ground pork
1 small onion, grated on large holes of a grater
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz 85% lean ground beef
**1 1/4 c vegetable oil

1 1/2 Tbs butter
1 1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 1/2 c low-sodium chicken broth
***2 tsp packed brown sugar
1/2 c heavy cream
****2 tsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

For the meatballs*****:
Whisk egg and cream together in a medium bowl. Stir in bread and set aside. Meanwhile,in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pork, onion, nutmeg, allspice, pepper, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder on high speed until smooth and pale, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add beef and mix on medium-low speed until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using moistened hands, form a generous tablespoon of meat mixture into 1-inch round meatballs. Repeat with remaining mixture to form 25-30 meatballs.

Heat oil in a straight-sided sauce pan over medium-high heat until oil registers 350 degrees. Add meatballs in a single layer and fry, flipping once halfway through cooking. Fry until lightly browned all over and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer browned meatballs to a paper towel-lined plate.

For the sauce:
Pour off and discard the oil in the pan, leaving any browned bits behind. Return pan to
medium-high heat and add butter. When foaming subsides, add flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is light brown. Slowly whisk in the broth, scraping pan to loosen brown bits. Add brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce is reduced to about 1 1/4 c, about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and return to simmer.

Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, turning occasionally until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

*1 slice of bread equals about 1/3 – 1/2 panko, which is what I generally have used since I don’t often have bread on hand

**I’ve used this much, I’ve used much less. I think it works well either way. Neither way do they come out tasting at all greasy.

***If you like your swedish meatballs with more of a sweetness, as I’m told people do, add 2 tsp to the meatballs with the rest of the dry ingredients, and add 1 Tbs to the sauce.

****I’ve never added this and don’t feel the need to, although the acidity might be nice. Nick just thinks its a bad idea.

*****I’m not so fancy-pants that I have a kitchen-aid, yet. I just use my hands and they’re fine. Probably not as light and fluffy as they would be otherwise though. I also never get this many meatballs out of a double batch; this recipe is a single batch. Double makes about 24 for me. I guess I like them big.

See SB Mashed Cauliflower for my choice of what to serve the meatballs with. Roasted brussel sprouts would also be a good addition I think.

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