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Single Guy Chef: Kalua Pork

Kalua Pork (or pig) is one of my favorite Hawaiian dishes. It’s a smokey, salty pulled pork dish served over white rice, with optional katsu sauce.1 When I found out how you make it, I was stunned at how easy it is.2 It takes a long time to cook, and there’s some work involved, but it requires no skilled labor, much less murdering a pig with a knife while sobbing. In fact, I thought it was some half-assed way to make it, but a friend who is very wise in the ways of Hawaiian cooking told me nope, that’s the way everyone makes it on the island.3 And after making it, I can honestly say it matches the one at my favorite Hawaiian restaurant. Kick ass!
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  1. Thanks to Agent Doubledeuce for the tip. []
  2. But don’t worry, I’ll still explain it to you like you were held back a few times. []
  3. Not counting those supermen who actually dig a hole, add fire, and roast the whole pig all at once. []

Single Guy Chef: Newcastle Steak Chili

I’ve made chili several times with several different recipes, so I figured I could wing it and create something new. I was in the mood for a steak chili and this is what I came up with. It’s a very tasty, super hearty chili that should last you several days.

4 lb. beef roast, cut into 1/2″ cubes
I found sirloin tip on sale and used that. I was going to use tri-tip as that was cheaper, but it was already sold out. London broil could work, too. Avoid chuck. Cut out any fat and gristle/tough connective tissue when you’re dicing the beef.
2 bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale
1 large onion, diced
I used a 10 oz. package of pre-diced onions as I don’t have a food processor and hate dicing onions.
18 oz. of tomato paste
8 oz. tomato sauce
8 oz. salsa
Your choice, but it should be red (tomato) not green (chile or tomatillo). I used Pace Picante sauce, medium.
15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chili powder
There is a lot of variation here. I’m talking chili with an I, not chile with an E. The former is a spice blend – look at what it has in it and decide if you like it. The latter is a single spice; it will work, but it won’t taste as good. One note.
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil


diced chile peppers
Must be fresh, not canned. It will be faster to just buy a chunky salsa and add more of it.
cayenne pepper
Add to taste if it’s not hot enough. Again, you can just go with a hotter salsa and/or chili powder. My chili powder already has cayenne in it.

First, get everything ready. Dice, open cans, drain, rinse, measure spices, etc. This will lower your stress while cooking.

Dicing the beef will be a pain, but this is steak chili. You can ask your butcher if can do this. I doubt he can, but ask anyway. If he offers to grind it – even a chili grind – say no. Might as well buy ground beef if he’s going to do that. Instead, perhaps it’s time to pass those knife skills you’ve acquired on to a small child. Just remind them to let the knife do the cutting – don’t press hard. Hey, they gotta learn sometime.

Brown the beef in the olive oil over medium heat. Stir often, don’t cook it. There might be a little pink, but that’s better than overcooking it. Drain it.

Put it back on the stove and add the onions. Add just enough beer to cover it; for me that was 2 bottles. Bring it to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often to remove carbonation. This will tenderize the beef, allowing you to buy cheaper cuts.

Stir in the other ingredients (in this order for best results). Mix it up good before adding the next ingredient:
tomato paste
tomato sauce
chili powder (don’t dump it all at once)
garlic powder
garlic salt

Simmer for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes.

At this point, you can eat it. However, it will taste better if you let it cool and throw it in the fridge overnight. The flavors combine and intensify overnight, so unless you find it way too bland, don’t add anything until the next day.

Single Guy Chef: Barbecue Tri-tip Roast

Since there was a request for the BBQ version of the tri-tip oven roast, here it is. (It might help you to read that recipe first.)

First, prepare the BBQ rub. I like this Carolina BBQ rub that I originally made for pulled pork. I found it works well on beef, too. The only change I made was using pure ancho chile powder instead of your garden variety chili powder. This was suggested by a couple chefs and I think it turned out well, but if you already have the regular stuff then use it. You are nothing if not practical. And lazy.

Trim the roast, and then sprinkle on the rub liberally and rub it in. Let it marry in the fridge overnight. Don’t worry, this is an acceptable union under the current law; it’s not like a man marrying a box turtle. Take the roast out half an hour before grilling so it comes to room temp.

For cooking times, follow the recommendations in your manual, esp. if it’s a Weber. My Weber manual was quite accurate, definitely more than the one for my Viking range. Like all roasts, it will be medium indirect, and it will benefit from smoke. Try mesquite. Avoid tobacco. And don’t flip it while grilling.

One problem I had while taking its temperature is that heat from the grill messed with my digital thermometer. I had to remove it from the grill while checking the temp. Of course, use a meat thermometer, not an oral or rectal one. In fact, if using either of those is even possible, your butcher has executed an elaborate ruse at your expense. Always remember: a tri-tip roast has neither a mouth nor an anus. Words to live by.

Single Guy Chef: Tri-tip Burritos

I saw that tri-tip is about $2/lb. so I thought I’d try my hand at that. Turns out it’s very easy. I’d made it on the grill before and the oven is about the same, minus the good smokey flavor and slightly easier cleanup.

First, get a 3-4 lb. tri-tip roast. Remove the fat. If you’re lazy or short on time you can buy pre-trimmed roasts, but at double the price. $4 a pound??? We’re not Trump here. Once again, the fat removed was about the size of my fist.

Next, preheat the oven to 325. My oven has Bake and Convection Bake settings, but you preheat a lot faster if you start with Bake.

While the oven is preheating you season the meat, which is ridiculously easy. Get yourself some Old World Steak seasoning, which is made by Fire Roasted Creations. OK, it’s not always easy to find. I got mine at Barbeques Galore and you can order it online here. Yes, it’s definitely worth the effort of tracking it down. If you absolutely don’t have time to obtain it, you can substitute McCormick’s Montreal Steak seasoning. It’s more peppery and the flavor is less complex, but it will do in a pinch. Just sprinkle it over the meat, then tap it in with the back of the tongs or a metal spoon. Flip it and repeat. Do this about 10 minutes before baking.

Place the roast on that broiler pan that came with your oven. It might be in that drawer underneath that you never knew existed. You can use a roasting pan, but only if you’re NOT convection baking. Convection baking, which cooks food faster and seals in juices better, requires a very shallow pan so the air can circulate better.

Since this is a roast, you’re shooting for medium, or 145F. Since roasts continue to cook after you’ve removed the heat, you stop when your meat thermometer reads about 140F. To obtain this ideal temperature, put the roast in the oven and set the timer to some random number. I say this because my Viking manual says a 3-4 lb. roast should be done in 30 minutes on convection bake or 35 minutes on bake, and that wasn’t even close. After 30 minutes it read 121F, or mooooo. Another 10 minutes brought it to 131, and another 15 after that brought it to 150. This is at the thickest part of the roast, so it was between medium and medium well, which is a little more done than I’d like it, but good enough.

OK, so the timer should be set for 40 minutes if convection baking and 50 for normal baking, assuming you’re using my oven.

When the desired temperature is reached let the roast sit for 20 minutes. Again, the temperature continues to rise 5-10 degrees while the juices move from the center outward, resulting in more uniformly juicy slices. Slice it thin.

Since meat alone isn’t very filling, I made simple burritos with Spanish rice. All you need to pick up is a box of Zatarains Spanish Rice mix, a 14.5oz can of crushed tomatoes, and some “I Can’t Believe This Shit Ain’t Butter!” or any butter-like substance that isn’t found in your bathroom. Follow the directions on the box – it’s dead simple.

Pick up a pack of Guerrero-brand burrito tortillas or whatever your local tortilleria sells. Before filling, preheat a large skillet to medium, then heat one side for 15 seconds and the other for 10. Fill with the rice and meat and roll like the Mexican ladies at Chipotle. If the meat is on the dry side (or even if it isn’t), you can add sour cream and/or shredded cheese.

Once again, you’ve got dinner for the week! Just remember that the tortillas have to be refrigerated, too.

Single Guy Chef: Italian Beef

Single guys like eating, but generally don’t like cooking. If they do cook, it’s usually on the grill where cleanup is as easy as turning the grill on high and brushing off the cinders. Unfortunately at my new place the grill sucks, and since I quit my job I’m cooking more. So I’m going to share some of the wisdom and experience I get in this new venture. You’ll find the directions are explicit, made for other single guys who have zero cooking experience. Of course, this means the recipes will be much longer than usual, so don’t be scared. The prep and cleanup are easy.

Italian Beef
My friend Jonathan turned me on to Portillo’s, a Chicago chain originally famous for hot dogs. I asked him what to get and he suggested the combo sandwich, which is a combination of Italian beef and sausage. I’ve since gone back many times and never wavered from this selection – just don’t forget to add cheese fries.

So I found a recipe on allrecipes.com (which appears to be the best recipe site out there) for Italian beef, citing a certain Chicago chain as the inspiration. Was this, perhaps, Portillo’s??? No. Not even close. Don’t get your hopes up. But it is a damn good beef sandwich, an Italian version of the French dip, and it’s dead simple to make. It requires a crock pot, but I’m finding this is an essential single guy kitchen appliance. So get one if you don’t have one – they’re cheap.
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