Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Menu!!!

Happy Memorial Day to all! One of my absolute favorite things to do during memorial day and during the summer months is to barbecue. However being an apartment dweller with strict codes against grills, fire, and smoke you kind of have to adapt. So here goes my Memorial Day cook out with gourmet sliders, pasta salad, and home made baked beans.

First things first, getting the beans going. You're going to need:

36 ounces white, navy, or canellini beans (in a jar.)
About 2 ounces of chopped pancetta if you cant get pancetta substitute bacon.
About a 1/4 chopped onion.
About 1/3 cup of catsup.
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard.
About a 1/3 cup of brown sugar.
About a teaspoon of mustard powder.
Salt and pepper to taste.

In a pot, start by sauteing the pancetta and onions on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes. Now this gets difficult so follow along carefully (lol), add the beans and the rest of the ingredients. Stir together and cook over low heat for about an hour and half stirring occasionally. Wheeew!!! Pretty hard right! (lol)

Now on to the pasta salad, mmmmm yummm! You'll need:

1 package Fusilli (spiral) pasta.
3/4 pound cherry tomatoes halved.
1 bell pepper red, green, or yellow its up to you.
About a half pound good salami chopped.
About a half pound good Swiss chopped.
About a 1/3 cup of parmeggiano cheese shredded or ground.
Salt and pepper to taste.

For the dressing;
1 cup extra virgin olive oil.
1/3 cup red wine vinegar.
1 clove of garlic minced.
fresh or dried parsley, thyme, and oregano.
Salt and pepper to taste.

Start by boiling the water for the pasta. While the water is boiling, mix the ingredients for the dressing and set aside allowing the flavors to come together. Now follow the directions on the package of pasta for cooking time, but here is a trick I figured out for a perfect aldente pasta. Cook the pasta 1 minute to 30 seconds less than the time on the package and you'll get a perfect aldente pasta every time. When the pasta is cooked drain the pasta and do not rinse, I repeat DO NOT rinse (never rinse pasta). Add the pasta back into the pot and mix the dressing while the pasta is still hot, set off to the side and let cool.

When the pasta has cooled add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. If the the goodies don't seem to be getting coated very well just add a little olive oil and mix thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Don't worry about leftovers, pasta salad lasts about three days, so enjoy!

For a good slider your going to need:

1 pound 80/20 ground beef (80% beef and 20% fat).
1 egg
Anywhere from a 1/3 to a 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt.
1 teaspoon of pepper.
1 teaspoon of paprika.
1 teaspoon of mustard powder.

Mix all ingredients together, slowly adding the breadcrumbs. You're looking for a smooth moist texture that doesn't stick to your hands. Once you have the right consistency, break the meat up into 8 even piles. Form said piles into big meatballs, and then smash down into patties. Something to consider, when burgers cook they shrink by about 7 to 10 % so make yor patties slightly larger than your buns. Now I used a local brioche bread cut into rounds, but if I'm being honest I didn't quite get the effect I was looking for. In theory challa bread or some gourmet rolls, or if you can find slider buns would be perfect.

Now cooking a slider is a bit of a science. For a tender medium to medim-well cook the sliders on high heat either on a griddle or in a non stick frying pan, for about a minute and a half on each side, and then finishing them in an oven at 350 degrees for about three minutes. Pull them out of the oven and then add your cheese. Place them back in the oven for about 1 more minute or until the cheese melts. Again don't just follow my recipe take some creative liberties, but if you want to do the prosciutto cotto and provalone burger just saute the prosciutto in a pan until crispy. All thats left is assemble and serve! So whatever you have today, enjoy Memorial Day and remember to always drink responsibley.

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