Rosemary & Garlic Roast Beef

Rosemary & Garlic Roast Beef

It’s been while since I’ve made roast beef for the family and now that cooler weather is rolling in I figured it was high time to change that. Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but this was honestly not only the best roast beef I’ve ever made… it was the best roast beef I’ve ever had! And I’ve eaten A LOT of roast beef in my life. It’s super easy to make with tons of flavor. My kids were literally talking about it the second they woke up this morning.

One thing to note… I prefer my meat leaning towards medium rare, so that’s what this recipe is geared towards. If you want it cooked more then you’ll have to figure out how much longer you’ll need to keep in the oven. If I had to guesstimate I would say another 15 minutes at 375F for medium.

Serves 6-8

3-4lb Beef Roast (I prefer bottom round, and I do not trim off the excess fat… it has all the flavor!)
1tbsp Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
1tbsp Ground Black Pepper
1tbsp Olive Oil
8 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary
1 Head of Garlic with the top sliced off
3tbsp Unsalted Butter, melted

This is so easy you’re not going to believe how good it is!

Heat your oven to 300F.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan at high heat. Liberally season all sides of your beef roast with the salt and pepper. Sear the roast on all sides until lightly browned (about 2-3 minutes), starting with the side that has the fat cap. Once seared allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.

Place the roast fat side up in a baking dish and place the garlic head and rosemary sprigs in the dish. Cover the dish with foil and cook in the oven for 30 minutes at 300F. After 30 minutes remove the foil and brush the roast with the melted butter. Increase the heat to 375F and cook uncovered for an additional 25 minutes.

Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before slicing, otherwise you’ll lose all of the juice.


Oh, and if you don’t know what I meant when I said 1 Head of Garlic with the top cut off, here’s what I mean…

garlic head

Derek’s Gumbo


Well, it’s been a long while… but after a 202 day hiatus from posting I’m finally back! Before I get into the recipe let me just take a moment to say thank you to all of my followers and fans for their continued support despite the absence of new posts. You guys are truly awesome.

So it’s Fall here along the Atlantic Coast in Northeastern USA, and we’re starting to turn to heartier fare. The other day my beautiful wife asked me to make something hearty and comforting, a soup or something along those lines, but also a little spicy. Immediately my mind went to Gumbo.

I will preface the recipe by saying that it’s slightly non-traditional in a few ways. First and foremost I use beer in my recipe, this is not entirely common. Also, I do not use okra… Quite frankly I hate the stuff. However, okra is not a required ingredient for a true gumbo, though some may say differently. It’s perfectly acceptable to use roux as a thickener instead. Lastly, I use Sriracha. Yes, I know, that’s an Asian condiment and this is a Southern Cajun/Creole dish… but think about it, Sriracha is smokey and spicy and full of flavors that are perfect for Gumbo!

So here you have it, my first post in over 200 days… Gumbo!

Serves: 6-8 as an entree, 10+ as an appetizer

1lb Chouriço (Chorizo) or Linguiça, sliced
2lb Raw Shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 Large Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Large Red Bell Pepper, chopped
3 Celery Stalks, chopped
2 Vidalia Onions, sliced
8tbsp Unsalted Butter
1/3c All Purpose Flour
12oz Beer (IPA or Lager)
56oz Canned Diced Tomatoes
8c Beef Stock
3c Water
2tsp Salt (plus more to season to taste)
1tsp Black Pepper (plus more to season to taste)
2tsp Paprika
2tbsp Sriracha
1c Fresh Parsley, chopped

So the hardest part of this dish is the prep. Once that’s done it’s a walk in the park.

Melt the butter in a large pot (I use an 8qt) at medium-high heat. Add the chopped bell peppers, celery and sliced onion along with 1tsp of salt. Cook until the vegetables start to sweat, about 5 minutes, stirring periodically. Increase the heat to high and add the all purpose flour, which will form your roux. Cook until the flour starts to brown, stirring constantly to stop it from sticking to the bottom and burning. Add the 12oz of beer and simmer until reduced by half, stirring periodically. Also make sure you scrape the bottom when stirring to ensure that no flour is sticking. Once the beer is reduced, add the canned tomatoes with liquid, beef stock, water, sausage (Chouriço or Linguiça), 1tsp each of salt and black pepper, and 2tsp of paprika. Reduce the heat to medium-high and simmer uncovered for two hours, stirring periodically. After two hours add the Sriracha and raw shrimp, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes at medium-low, stirring periodically. Taste the broth and add salt & pepper to taste. Add the chopped parsley and simmer for an additional two minutes.

That’s it, you’re done. Ladle it over some rice, crack open a beer, and enoy!!!

Once again, thanks for your patience! I promise it won’t be another 202 days before my next post… lol.

Penne Vodka with Shrimp (w/ wine pairings)

Penne Vodka with Shrimp

The other day I was sitting in my car in the grocery store parking lot trying to figure out what I wanted to make for dinner. I wanted to go in with an idea so I didn’t just wander aimlessly forever… I’ve been eating a ton of chicken and pork lately, so those were definitely out of the picture. I was in the mood for seafood, but not fish, more along the lines of shellfish. A number of ideas bounced around in my head like shrimp etouffée, frutta di mare, seafood gumbo… Then I remembered that a while back one of you had asked for a Penne Vodka recipe on my Facebook page. I used to make Penne Vodka all the time when I was younger but probably haven’t made it in at least 10 years, possibly longer. And just like that I was suddenly craving Penne Vodka with Shrimp. Perfecto!

Serves 6-8

2lb Penne Pasta
1lb Shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/3lb Pancetta, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
1 Shallot Bulb, chopped
1/2c Scallion, chopped (plus more for garnish)
2tsp Salt, (2) 1tsp portions
1tsp Ground Black Pepper
1c Vodka
28oz Diced Canned Tomatoes w/ juice
1c Tomato Sauce
3/4c Chicken Stock
4c Heavy Cream
2tbsp Unsalted Butter
1c Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a large pot melt the butter at medium heat, then add the pancetta, garlic and shallot along with 1tsp of salt. Cook until the pancetta is lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Increase the heat to high and add the vodka, simmer until it’s reduced by half. Add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, chicken stock, heavy cream, and 1tsp each of salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring periodically.

Boil your pasta in salted water for 2 minutes less than specified on the pasta’s cooking instructions. Strain the pasta and add it to the sauce, along with the shrimp. Simmer uncovered on medium-low for an additional 5 minutes, stirring periodically.

Add the grated parmesan and 1/2c of chopped scallion and stir well.

That’s it, you’re pretty much done! Just plate it up and garnish with a little more chopped scallion. Wasn’t that easy???

Now let’s talk wine pairings… This dish is actually a little tricky. At face value most people would immediate think “I’m having a big plate of pasta, so I’ll have a big red!” But that won’t work. If you do a monster red wine you’re going to completely overwhelm the subtle flavors of the shrimp. I do recommend going with a red wine, but it needs to be something that is light to medium bodied so you can still taste and enjoy the shrimp. Furthermore, it needs to have at least a little acidity to cut through the richness of the cream sauce… I would lean towards varietals like Barbera, Montepulciano, Mayolet, Grenache Gris or Grignolino. Or you could even do a full bodied Rose! Here are a few wines that I would recommend.

Cantalupo Il Mimo Rosato, Piemonte, Italy – Cantalupo was established by the Arluno family back in 1969, but they had been producing wine from their vineyards in and around the village of Ghemme for centuries. Their Il Mimo Rosato is a rose of Nebbiolo sourced from three of their vineyards in Colline Novaresi. After the clusters are pressed the juice is kept on the skins overnight to gain color and density, then is drained off for fermentation and aging in stainless tanks. In the glass you’ll find a surprisingly dark, full bodied rose. The bouquet is redolent with aromas of ripe strawberry, dried cherries, rose petal and crushed dried herbs. On the palate the wine is moderately dense, with expressive notes of fruits and herbs mirroring the bouquet, all framed by subtle acidity and surprisingly tannic grip. This rose may not be ideal for someone who prefers softer, ethereal wines, but it’s the perfect rose for a person that is typically a red wine drinker. It is also one of the few roses I’ve come across that improves with a little age. PP Score: 89 (Retail $12-14)

Bedrock Wine Co. Grenache Gris Gibson Ranch, McDowell Valley, California – I’ve written about Bedrock Wine Co. a number of times before, and you can safely bet I’ll be writing about them a number of times in the future. Morgan Twain Peterson is, in my not-so-humble opinion, one of the top winemakers of this generation. And I don’t just mean from California, I mean one of the top winemakers… Period. His specialty is old vine Zinfandels and field blends, but when he was offered a couple of tons of grapes by the current owner of Gibson Ranch, Jake Bilbro, he couldn’t pass it up. Grenache Gris is a varietal that is largely unknown, but there are a handful of producers now working with small quantities of it out of California. It is a wonderful grape best suited for full bodied roses or lighter bodied reds. Morgan’s take was to make what he terms a “summer red”… Think Cru Beaujolais and you’re in the right ballpark. In the glass is a medium bodied wine of ruby red color. It’s quite fragrant, with aromas of cherry, black pepper, clove and slightly smokey cedar box. On the palate the wine is explosive, with notes of dried cherry, ripe bramble fruit and moderate peppery spice, along with nuances of fennel and dried herbs, balanced by equal doses of acidity and fine tannins, with a long, lingering, spicy finish. Spectacular. PP Score: 92 (Retail $21-24)

Forteto della Luja Le Grive Monferrato Rosso, Piemonte, Italy – Forteto della Luja is a small family run winery that was established in the Loazzolo DOC in 1826, located between Monferrato and the village of Asti. While my review will not be this brief, one word could suffice to describe their wines. Beautiful. From their Moscatos to their Barberas and beyond, every single wine they make is absolutely beautiful. The estate’s flagship wine is their Le Grive, a blend of Barbera and Pinot Noir from the ampitheater shaped Le Grive vineyard, named as such for the thrushes that take up residence there during the winter to feast on the juniper bushes that surround the valley. I’ve consumed many, many, many wines in my life, but this is one of the few that have ever left me speechless. In the glass you’ll find a medium bodied wine of garnet hue. Once the wine has a chance to breathe the bouquet comes alive with aromas of cherry, juniper, dried sage and hints of crushed violet. On the palate the wine is simultaneously complex and simple… There are various layers and nuances, but they all come together in such  perfect harmony that you don’t necessarily realize how complex it truly is. The prevalent notes are black cherries, dark plum and hints of ripe raspberry, with subtle nuances of dried herbs, rose petal, vanilla and pantry spice, all brought together by moderate acidity and soft tannins. The wine is not easily found as production is small and distribution is limited, but if you do find it don’t just get one bottle, buy the whole case. I strongly recommend decanting this for at least two hours prior to drinking. PP Score: 96 (Retail $28-34) *certified organic

Well, there you have it, my Penne Vodka recipe and some absolutely stunning wines to pair with it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the read, and I certainly hope you’ll try the recipe and the wines! And trust me, if you come across Forteto della Luja’s Le Grive buy as much as you can! And then send me a bottle as thanks for introducing you to it… lol. As always new content is en route. In the meantime crack open a bottle of something spectacular, sit back and relax. Life is short, enjoy it!

Chicken, Bacon & Corn Casserole

Chicken, Bacon & Corn Casserole

So the other day… alright let’s be honest, by the other day I mean about two weeks ago. Sorry, I’ve been super busy and haven’t had time to finally put this recipe up!

Ok, back to the story. So the other day I was having a craving for chicken pot pie, but wanted to do something different. A lot of ideas floated through my head, For some reason one thing that I kept thinking about was cornbread. I don’t know, maybe because back in the day I used to order chicken pot pie with a side of cornbread from Boston Market, who knows. Anyway, the thought stuck and finally it dawned on me to do a play on pot pie but topped with cornbread! To take it one step further, I had some bacon in the fridge, so why not!? So here you have my Chicken, Bacon & Corn Casserole… Enjoy!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients (filling):
1lb Bacon, diced
1 1/4lb Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breast, cubed
1/2c All Purpose Flour
3c Diced Potato
30oz Corn Kernels
21oz Cream of Chicken Soup
10 3/4oz Cream of Celery Soup
2tsp Salt
2tsp Ground Black Pepper
1tsp Garlic Powder
1tsp Paprika

Ingredients (cornbread topping):
1c Yellow Cornmeal
1c All Purpose Flour
1tbsp Baking Powder
3/4c Milk (Whole or 2%)
1/4c Unsalted Butter, melted
2 Large Eggs
1/2c Granulated Sugar
1tsp Salt
1tsp Ground Black Pepper

Heat your oven to 375F.

In a large saute pan cook off your diced bacon in batches (if you do all at once you’ll end up with some crispy and some not-so-much, and a lot will stick together) at medium-high heat. Use a slotted spoon to remove from the rendered fat and place in a large bowl. Keep the rendered fat in the saute pan.

Put the flour in a medium bowl and add your cubed chicken and thoroughly coat. Heat the saute pan with the bacon fat at medium-high and add the floured chicken. Cook until lightly browned, flip and repeat. Once lightly browned on all sides remove the from the saute pan using a slotted spoon and place in the bowl with the crispy bacon.

Once again, retain the rendered bacon fat, which will now be slightly thickened from the flour, and keep on medium-high heat. Add the diced potatoes and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and place in the large bowl with the bacon and chicken. Add the corn kernels, cream of chicken and cream of celery soups as well as the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika to the bowl and stir until well mixed. Place the mixture in a 9″x13″ baking dish.

Now let’s make the cornbread topping… Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl then add the milk, melted butter and eggs. Using a whisk or hand mixer stir until a batter is formed. Spread the batter evenly over the filling in the baking dish.

Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, until the top is a light golden brown. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

So that’s it… my morph between chicken pot pie and a side of cornbread, with some bacon thrown in for good measure! I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and will try the recipe. Trust me when I say it’s absolutely delicious, and great for the entire family. My kids went NUTS over it!

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