Since the original recipe has been kept a secret for...

Hello again,
I think I hit a home run with last issue's
topic of regional American sandwiches.
I say this because your responses have
been incredible, both in quantity and
quality. Almost from the moment I sent
out the newsletter, I started receiving really
positive feedback. You all must be fast
The coolest thing, however, was that on
the day following the issue's release, I
actually corresponded with several of you
who had already made one of the dishes.
From my perspective, that's almost mind
blowing. Keep up the loyal patronage and
I promise to keep sending you great
Speaking of which, it is time for my bonus
offering. Since last month's topic dealt
with regional American sandwiches, I
figured I'd stick to the theme with my
version of an Iowan, Loose Meat
For those unfamiliar, a butcher from Iowa
named Fred Angell began making loose
meat sandwiches in 1926. Using his own
blend of ground beef and various spices,
Angell created a sandwich that tasted like
a burger, but looked like a Sloppy Joe
without the tomato sauce.
Legend has it that when Angell was
opening his first restaurant he allowed a
deliveryman to sample the sandwich.
Upon doing so, the man exclaimed, "This
sandwich is just made right." Angell
subsequently named both his sandwich
and his restaurant, Maid Rite. There are
now more than 70 Maid Rite restaurants
throughout the central and southwestern
United States.
Since the original recipe has been kept a secret for over
80 years, my version cannot be
called a Maid-Rite. It is,
however, a very traditional Iowan
loose meat sandwich. Before I
give you my recipe, there are two
rules for the loose meat.
First, serve a spoon alongside
the sandwich in order to gobble
up any of the meat that will
inevitably fall out. Rule number two, no ketchup. The only
toppings on an authentic loose meat sandwich are yellow
mustard, chopped onions and dill pickle chips. If you really
love ketchup, go ahead and put some on. Just don't do it
in front of any native Iowans.
(makes 4 sandwiches)
For the filling:
1 1/4 lbs. ground sirloin
2 to 3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp dried onion flakes
1 tbsp yellow prepared mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp sugar
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 bottle (6 ounces) of any lager-style beer
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
For the sandwich:
4 hamburger buns
Dill pickle chips
Finely chopped onion
Yellow prepared mustard
Directions on Following Page ..............÷
In a large skillet heat vegetable oil until it's hot and shimmering. Add ground sirloin and cook until
completely browned. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat into
very small pieces. Pour off any of the excess fat.
Add onion flakes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, chicken stock
and beer to the skillet and mix well to incorporate. Season with salt and
pepper and allow the meat to simmer (uncovered) over medium-low heat
for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the majority of the liquid has cooked off but
the meat remains very moist.
Pack a quarter of the meat onto the bottom half of a hamburger bun and
top with mustard, onion, pickles and the remaining half of the bun. Repeat the process for the
remaining sandwiches and serve.
It's a fancy French name, but chicken paillards
are really nothing more than boneless, skinless
chicken breasts, pounded flat. I decided to
devote this issue to paillards for several
The first of which is they are highly utilitarian,
offering countless options in terms of weeknight
dinners. They can be either pan fried or grilled
and finished off with anything from a simple pan
sauce to a light and healthy salad. Once you
learn the techniques for making paillards, your
repertoire for preparing easy and tasty meals
becomes limitless. It's quite the opposite
mindset from those who believe that a meal
featuring boneless/skinless chicken breasts
can only be boring.
Another reason why I chose paillards is to
correct the mistakes that many people make
when attempting to prepare them. Despite my
description of
"chicken breasts
pounded flat", tasty
paillards are never
the result of
relieving your
frustrations via a
mallet. The process
of flattening the
chicken is specific, requiring far more finesse
than force. Utilizing the latter will only result in
torn, shredded or mealy chicken.
Lastly, taking a chicken breast and turning into
a paillard is the perfect means for creating a
palpable experience for anyone who's not a big
fan of eating big pieces of meat, namely young
children. Chicken breasts left whole can be
difficult to not overcook, or undercook for that
matter. Paillards, on the other hand, are rather
simple to cook up. When done correctly, the
result is tender and flavorful meat ready to be
cut up into small pieces for smaller mouths.
Now that I've stated my case, it's time to talk
about this issues’ recipes. First up is a dish I
like to call, Palliard ala Champignon. It may
sound difficult but it is actually quite easy. It is
nothing more than pan-fried paillards finished
off in a light cream sauce with a touch of grainy
French mustard and caramelized mushrooms.
It's not only a highly adaptable recipe, but it's
perfect for a Wednesday night dinner, or a
weekend dinner party.
Recipe number two is tailor made for anyone
eating healthy, especially any of you
low-carbers. In this dish, the paillard can be
pan-fried or grilled. It is then topped with a
tasty salad consisting of either arugula or baby
spinach (or both), and juicy cherry tomatoes.
Yet another highly adaptable recipe, it is sure
to bring a little excitement to any regimented
eating plan.
Let's get cooking!
boneless/skinless chicken breasts
white mushrooms, quartered
large shallot, minced
cup dry white wine
cup chicken stock
cup heavy cream
tbsp grainy French mustard
tbsp unsalted butter (very cold)
tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Minced Italian parsley for garnish
Rinse chicken breasts in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Place one piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Place one chicken breast (shiny
side up) in the middle, and cover with another equal-sized piece of plastic wrap. Using the
flat side of a meat mallet, pound until the entire breast is roughly a 1/2 inch thick.
Note: Please read my Tips and Adaptations section for helpful hints on how to
pound the chicken breasts.
Transfer the pounded breast (still encased in plastic wrap) to a large dish or plate. Repeat
this process with the remaining breasts and place the entire dish inside the refrigerator for
10 minutes. This will help the paillards to hold their shape.
Remove the paillards from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Place the paillards
on a plate and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet until it is hot and shimmering. Add the
mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Allow the mushrooms to sit for 30 seconds
before stirring. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until the mushrooms are well caramelized.
Remove the mushrooms to a bowl and pour off the oil.
Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining olive oil. Allow the oil to get very hot.
Place the paillards into the skillet (shiny side down) and fry for 2 minutes. Flip them over
and fry for another 1.5 minutes. Transfer the paillards to a plate and loosely tent with foil.
To the hot skillet add shallots and sauté for one minute. Add the white wine and allow it to
reduce by half. Once it's reduced, add the chicken stock to the skillet and allow it to reduce
by half. Add the cream and the mustard and mix well. Simmer the mixture for 2 to 3
minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the mushrooms (along with any
accumulated juices) and the cold butter. Stir with a wooden spoon, allowing the sauce to
thicken. Taste the sauce and season accordingly with salt and pepper.
Return the chicken to the skillet and allow it to simmer lightly for one minute. Serve the
paillards either family style or on individual plates, ladled with sauce and garnished with
(serves 4)
For the paillards:
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced fine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
4 cups arugula
4 cups baby spinach
16 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Rinse chicken breasts in cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Place one piece of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board. Place one chicken breast (shiny side
up) in the middle, and cover with another equal-sized piece of plastic wrap. Using the flat side
of a meat mallet, pound until the entire breast is roughly a 1/2 inch thick.
Note: Please read my Tips and Adaptations section for helpful hints on how to pound
the chicken breasts.
Transfer the pounded breast (still encased in plastic wrap) to a large dish or plate. Repeat this
process with the remaining breasts and place inside the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This will
help the paillards to hold their shape.
Meanwhile, in a bowl mix together 1/4 C olive oil, lemon zest and minced garlic. Season with
salt and pepper and set aside.
Remove the paillards from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Place the paillards on
a plate and brush both sides of each paillard with olive oil mixture. Liberally season both sides
with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a separate bowl, add balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper
and mix well. Add the cherry tomatoes and toss to coat.
Heat an outdoor grill or grill pan until very hot. Grill paillards for 3 minutes on each side.
Remove to a plate and loosely tent with foil.
Place the arugula and spinach in a large mixing bowl. Add the tomato and vinaigrette mixture.
Season with a little more salt and pepper and toss well.
Serve the paillards family style mounded on top with salad, or on individual plates topped with
equal portions of the salad. Serve along with crusty baguette and sweet butter if desired.
To make paillards:
For best results, use between 1/2 and 3/4 force while pounding. Start by pounding in the middle of
the breast and work your way out toward the edges. Try to avoid pounding straight down on the
meat. Instead, slightly rotate your wrist in opposing directions each time you strike the chicken
breast. This minor shift will defer just enough force so that you won't tear through the meat.
For the Pailliard ala Champignon:
If you don't like mushrooms, simply leave them out. The sauce will be good on it's own. On the other
hand, if you love mushrooms I encourage you to go wild by either
using more of them, or several different types. Shitake, Crimini,
Porcini and Chanterelle mushrooms all work really well in this recipe.
Got any fresh herbs that need to be used up? I say throw them in
the sauce. Thyme, rosemary and tarragon would all make for worthy
For the Paillard with Arugula/Cherry Tomato Salad:
Chanterelle mushrooms
Just because I grilled these paillards doesn't mean that you have to.
If you don't have access to an outdoor grill or a grill pan, simply pan-fry them just like you did in the
ala champignon recipe. The dish will still be great.
Feel free to experiment with the salad portion of this recipe. Caesar salad is nice atop a paillard, as
is a salad of cucumber, tomato and fresh dill. I could keep going here but I think you get my point.
For the Paillard ala Champignon, I could make a case for drinking either white or red wine. Since
we're talking chicken in a light cream sauce, a good California chardonnay would work really well.
The oak characteristics, typical in a California chard, will match quite nicely with the earthiness of the
mushrooms. At the same time, the wine's fruitiness will provide the perfect contrast to the viscosity
of the cream.
But since mushrooms are also considered "meaty" in taste, a red wine would be very appropriate as
well. My choice would be Pinot Noir. Its sweetness provides much
needed contrast, while its earthy complexity acts as the perfect flavor
For the Paillard with Arugula/Cherry Tomato Salad, I tend to stick with
red wine. I know it's chicken, but it's been grilled and also holds hints
of citrus and garlic. It's also been topped with peppery arugula, sweet
tomatoes and complexly sweet balsamico. My choice with this is an
Italian Sangiovese, served lightly below temperature. The depth and
complexity of Sangiovese holds up nicely to some of the big flavors in
this dish. The fact that you're serving the wine somewhere between
room temperature and chilled will provide a refreshing finish, perfect for this summery meal.
BUT I DIGRESS: Accidents Happen
It occurred to me that so much of what I write in
this newsletter has to do with my successes, as
well as my opinions regarding culinary
correctness. In the spirit of humility, I felt it was
about time that I start stalking about some
things I've done wrong, really wrong. After all,
nobody's perfect, or even close to perfect for
that matter. By the time you finish this
newsletter you are going to realize two things.
First, is that the kitchen is a potentially
dangerous place. Second, I am lucky to be
The following are three of the worst kitchen
accidents I've ever had. The irony is that all of
them took place in my own home. Read on,
have a good laugh, and take away the lesson
that you can never be too careful.
ACCIDENT #1: The St. Patrick's Day Scalding
About five or six years ago, I was celebrating
St. Patty's Day at home along with my former
wife and a few friends. I've always been one to
celebrate this holiday at home due to the
potential ramifications of venturing out to
overcrowded pubs, filled with folks who've had
a few too many stouts. Besides, I make a
pretty darn good corned beef.
The splash it created looked like a tsunami in
slow motion. But
within the blink of an
eye, several cups of
the molten liquid were
splashed onto my
There was a delayed
reaction before I
screamed like a
13-year old girl at a Jonas Brothers concert.
As I peaked down the collar of my shirt I could
see the skin on my chest begin to bubble up.
This is when I went into shock. All I remember
is Michele nervously asking, "Kirk, what's
wrong? I was so taken back by what I was
seeing and feeling I couldn't respond.
After treating my second-degree burn, and
downing a Guinness like it was Gatorade, I
finished the meal. Thank God it was delicious
or I'd really have been mortified. Nonetheless,
the moral of the story is that you always need
to use caution when picking up a hot food item,
as you never know where it could wind up.
You'll be happy to know that I have since
healed. I am also not as leery about eating out
on St. Patrick's Day
ACCIDENT #2: The Quisinart Caper
Speaking of which, I was preparing my corned
beef, simmering it in a rather viscous solution
of Guinness Stout, bay leaves, garlic,
peppercorns and mustard seeds. The cut was
a 4 1/2 pound monster, perfectly suited for
feeding our guests and still yielding leftovers. It
was about halfway through the cooking process
when everything went horribly wrong.
This accident took place about a decade ago
and I have no problem
telling you that the
memory is
permanently etched in
my mind.
I was attempting to flip the corned beef over for
the purposes of even cooking. With a pair of
sturdy tongs as my tool of choice, I grasped the
brisket firmly. But just as I pulled the meat out
of the liquid I lost my grip and it plummeted
back into the pot.
I was lucky enough to
be entertaining not
one, but two women
for a weeknight
dinner. The ladies
were roommates visiting Los Angeles from
North Carolina.
continued............. ÷
We had become friends through work and they
had expressed to me their interest in eating a
home cooked meal. An invitation for dinner
seemed like a great idea.
It was summertime and very warm outside, so
the meal I set forth was a beautiful rendition of
a Mediterranean supper. Fresh fish on the grill,
linguini with homemade pesto, and a plate of
assorted grilled veggies were on the menu.
Dinner couldn't have come off any more
perfectly and the women loved their meal. It
was after dinner when things went awry. The
plan was to go swimming so I was dressed in
swim trunks, a tank top, and barefoot. The
latter served to be my downfall.
The two ladies had insisted to help with the
dishes. I tried to persuade them but it was to
no avail. They were adamant about doing their
part. I was clearing the table when one of the
women beckoned me to the kitchen. I walked
in and she was holding the work bowl of the
food processor I'd used to make the pesto.
"Hey Kirk, where does this go?" she asked.
Not wanting her to worry about it I said, "Don't
worry, I'll put it away."
Little did I realize that she had also included the
machine's stainless steel blade inside the bowl.
When I took it from her, I inadvertently turned
the bowl upside down. Doing so caused the
blade to fall out of the bowl and on to my foot.
Imagine a razor sharp blade that weighs about
a pound dropping from a height of four feet
onto your foot.
The blade got me right in the big toe and went
straight down to the bone. The result was
explosion of blood. I'm not kidding when I tell
you it was everywhere. It looked like
something out of the show CSI. But a car ride
to the emergency room and 20 stitches later I
was good as new. Explaining my injury to
co-workers the next day, however, was not as
easy. The lesson here is to wear shoes in the
kitchen, even if you're doing the dishes.
ACCIDENT #3: The Mandolin and The
Index Finger
This accident took place about 13 years ago.
The only witness, other than myself, was my
late cocker spaniel, Jazz.
It was the middle of the week when I had come
home from work looking to make a little dinner.
To be honest, I can't completely remember
what was on the menu that night. After you
read the story, you'll understand why my only
recollection is the glazed carrots that were
supposed to be one of the sides.
About a month or so prior I had purchased my
first mandolin. For
those unfamiliar, a
mandolin is a long
board with an
adjustable blade in
the center. It is
mostly used for
slicing vegetables
very thin. My goal
was to cut the
carrots into symmetrical discs, lightly steam
them and then finish them off in a little butter,
brown sugar, and cognac. Unfortunately, I
never made it past the cutting.
Whatever mandolin you buy it will always come
equipped with either a plastic or metal hand
guard that grasps the vegetables with prongs
and provides separation between your hand
and the blade. Whenever you watch TV chefs
use a mandolin they never use a hand guard,
and it all looks very innocent and safe. I
recommend not copying your TV chef and
here's why.
I was slicing the carrots very quickly when the
somewhat unexpected happened – the carrot
snapped in half as I was making a pass down
the blade. The result was that my hand
plummeted down and the tip of my index finder
was dragged through the blade!
continued.............. ÷
Everything went silent. I looked down at my finger only to realize I had taken off the top 1/3-inch. I was
looking at bone. The weird thing was that there was this split second between that shot and the river of
blood that came pouring out.
I grabbed dishtowels and I held my hand straight up in the air hoping to stop the bleeding, but it was a
bad cut. I was starting to feel woozy like I was going to pass out, so I decided to lie down on the floor.
With my hand still raised, I was taking a series of deep breaths trying my best not to lose consciousness.
It was at that time when Jazz came over to me with his tennis ball in his
mouth. He knew something was wrong but I think he was in denial. He
plopped his head down on my chest and just looked at me.
I probably should have gone to the hospital but I didn't feel like waiting in an
emergency room for three hours only to be told that nothing could be done.
Believe me when I say there was nothing to stitch. I eventually got the
bleeding to slow down enough to clean the wound and bandage the finger. If
you look at it now it's only a small scar. It's unbelievable how resilient the
My survival kit
human body can be. The mind, however, is a whole other story. You never
really forget traumatic events like the aforementioned. And that's probably a good thing. Otherwise, they
may turn into weekly occurrences.
Until next time… please be safe!