I didn’t feel like having one of the burgers for dinner, so I mushed the 3 into 2 for my husband (and hoped he wouldn’t notice eating too much meat), and just focused my attention on the bacon. Is it just me or do you think the bacon often gets lost on the burger?
I dragged out the cast iron griddle that doesn’t sit right on my stove, and it just fits in the kettle grill with no room to spare. I put the bacon on the cold griddle and then set it on the hot grill. Closing the lid for a few minutes let the griddle heat up and I could hear the sizzling beginning. After that, I kept the lid over, tending to the bacon as I would on the stovetop. As you can see in one image, that griddle had a hot spot in the middle where my charcoal was piled, so I just moved pieces around and took some off as needed. That’s when I had to figure out how to get the griddle off to grill the burgers and onions.
Bacon on cold griddle
Like frying in the kitchen
The griddle fit in so tightly, I had to tip it a little to set it on the grate and get my gloved fingers out, and with the grease reservoir filled with bacon grease, I didn’t want to cause a grease flare up on the coals that would jump up to my arms. It seemed like the only way to be able to lift the griddle would be to remove the grease first, so I got my turkey baster and started sucking up the grease and putting it in a cup. There was a ton of grease and it seemed to be going okay until I noticed that I was melting the plastic baster by touching the cast iron with the tip. Oh, well. It worked up until the tip melted itself shut and now it’s off to the gadget store for another baster. Do they make one in metal or glass? We’ll see.
I learned a few things about the griddle, about using plastic on a grill, and about cooking bacon on a grill, but in the end, it was all about the sandwich:
Two days of cold, rain, and turtlenecks, too cold for me to go out to the grill, but maybe writing about Saturday’s dinner will warm me up a little.
It’s clear to me now that when hot dogs were engineered, the length and circumference were designed to perfectly accommodate a strip of bacon wrapped around from end to end. And you thought it was about the bun. I wonder how many other foods were engineered to work with the bacon strip? I guess you could do a bacon-wrapped dog in the oven or on a griddle, but it sure was a lot easier on the grill, not to mention the advantage of the smoky flavor. It was this easy:
No, it’s the dead of winter and not peak avocado time, but I picked up some ready-made guacamole for last weekend’s fish tacos, and only used one of the packages. It’s only 14° F outside today, so a bowl of warm creamy pasta seems like the right dish to curl up with for dinner. Even though the guacamole contains some traditional Mexican seasonings, like garlic and jalapeno peppers, it’s labeled as mild and will not turn the pasta into a Mexican pasta dish, if there is such a thing. Sour cream, another typical accompaniment to guacamole, some chopped tomatoes, and queso fresco will round out the pasta, which, in the end, is just a creamy warm past that no one would suspect has some Mexican connections.
I’m also, for a different texture in the final dish, deep frying the chicken cubes in a cornstarch coating.
This dish goes together quickly, and would be even easier if you already have some cooked chicken to add to the sauce.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cubed
1/3-1/2 cup of cornstarch, for coating chicken
salt & pepper to taste
canola oil, or your favorite oil for frying
1 cup prepared, mild guacamole—if using fresh avocado, you might want to season with garlic and other seasonings
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 15oz can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed or 1/2 cup fresh diced tomatoes
queso fresco cheese, crumbled
1/2 lb whole wheat farfalle pasta
Preparing the chicken:
If frying the chicken, coat the cubes well with cornstarch and set aside. When ready to fry, add more cornstarch, if needed. The chicken should be well coated and dry.
Fry in about 2 inches of oil at 350° for about 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, but not overcooked. Fry in batches, letting the oil come back to temperature between batches. I think I had about four batches.
Set chicken aside to drain on paper towels, until ready to add to pasta.
Preparing the pasta and sauce:
Boil the pasta of your choice as directed on package. I used a whole wheat pasta because we like the nutty taste, and because it has a lower glycemic index.
In a large saute pan, combine guacamole, sour cream, and chicken stock. There is no need to thicken this sauce! Heat over low heat until it begins to bubble.
Toss in pasta, fried chicken cubes, and diced tomatoes. Stir to combine and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Notice that I not only drained, but rinsed my canned tomatoes, because I didn’t want a pink sauce, or maybe red and green would make a brown sauce–yuk.
Serve in bowls, garnished with crumbled cheese.
Frying the chicken was a nice choice that added an interesting texture and flavor to the dish. It would be interesting with some shredded, poached chicken as well.
Feeling like getting your groove on this weekend? Then ease on down the road to this one dish (sort of) meal in a pie pan, the Crazy Crust Taco Pie. If you never made one before, don’t worry, because thanks to the Internet, the past is at your fingertips. Not into taco flavoring? There are endless filling possibilities from the past or you can invent your own. Most of the ones I see use ground beef, but I’d like to see some with chicken, too. The crust is kind of a loose biscuit dough with egg and sour cream that rises around your filling, and the result is a very soft and tender crust.
Mix all ingredients until mostly smooth. I recommend a hand mixer to help incorporate the solid shortening.
Pour batter into prepared pie dish and spread out to edges and up sides. The batter is a little thicker than pancake batter and will not go very far up the sides, so spread it thin on the bottom and use the back of your spoon to press it up the sides about an inch.
My Taco Filling
1 lb ground beef, browned
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup Pace® Picante Sauce, or your favorite salsa
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped
Brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add onion, garlic, and dry seasonings, continuing to cook until the onions are soft. Add salsa and chipotle peppers and cook for about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool a little while making the batter.
Spoon filling into center of battered dish, leaving the edges of the batter uncovered. Try to place the filling around in spoonfuls and not press it into the batter or do a lot of spreading.
Bake at 425° for about 20 minutes or until browned. If you want to top with cheese, you can add that after it comes out of the oven or you can put in on during the last 5 minutes of baking.
Cut in wedges and serve with your favorite taco toppings—grated cheese, lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, more salsa.