Category Archives: Side Dishes

Crown Pork Roast with Mashed Potatoes; Recipe

Heaven on a plate!

Heaven on a plate!

Crown Pork Roast with Mashed Potatoes; Recipe

The other day I was shopping for groceries when I saw this magnificent Crown Pork Roast at the meat counter of Fresh Market in Cincinnati. I was supposed to cook Smoked Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin but when I saw this I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’ve been wanting to do this for quite some time and I have an abundance of fresh herbs to use from my garden. About 19 years ago while camping in Mercer, Wisconsin My son’s mother (while pregnant with Chris) and I went for dinner at The Club 51 on Highway 51 that runs straight up the middle of the state. I’ve had many epic meals at Club 51 (one of many famed supper clubs in norther Wisconsin) but this one was truly amazing! Crown Pork Roast with Rosemary Crust. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to replicate this.




5-7 pound Crown Pork Roast bones Frenched

2 Large sprigs rosemary

2 Large handfuls fresh sage

6-7 cloves garlic

1/4 stick butter

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp cracked black pepper or more to taste

Preheat Oven to 225 degrees

Let Crown Pork Roast come to room temperature for 1-2 hours on your counter.

Tip: letting your roast come to room temperature allows it to cook more evenly without the center being under cooked.

Cut butter into small chunks and place into a food processor; add remaining ingredients except olive oil. Pulse until well chopped. Add olive oil by drizzling into the top until a loose paste forms. carefully spread the paste over the entire roast. The paste will stick to roast quite well.

Going in the oven.

Going in the oven.

Roast uncovered until internal temperature reaches 150-155 degrees. Insert meat thermometer into the round end of the thickest part of the roast. My roast took about 5 hours but I caution; we are cooking to internal temperature not time. When your roast reaches the desired temperature; place on a cutting board and cover with a large bowl or foil. Let rest 15-20 minutes before carving. I normally start my mashed potatoes when the roast is almost done.

The Gravy & Stock

After the roast went in, I started the stock for the gravy. The butcher gave me the bone trimmings after cutting my roast to order. You can use bouillon but I prefer homemade and I had five hours to let my gravy stock come together.


2 pounds pork trimmings with bones

2-3 carrots with skin cut up

1 large onion cut up

2-3 ribs celery cut in half

5-7 cloves smashed garlic

handful black peppercorns

handful fresh sage

1 large sprig rosemary

1 cup white wine (not too sweet)

Corn starch slurry with water. Follow directions on corn starch package for amounts based on how much liquid the stock yields.

Place all ingredients except wine and corn starch in a large pot or dutch oven. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for the entire time the roast cooks. Add more hot water as needed to cover. When the roast is resting; drain the stock add wine salt and pepper as needed. Bring to a boil. Thicken with corn starch water mixture whisking as you add slowly. Make sure to keep mixing the corn starch and water so it doesn’t settle.

Mashed Potatoes

This recipe is based on my friend Jon Stiles’s recipe from his cookbook Cooking for Friends Vol. 2. I loved Jon’s recipe and tried it a little different. The ingredients are pretty much the same but the technique is a little different. I add more salt, garlic and pepper to mine but I add them to the cooking water and adjust for flavor after the potatoes are mashed. Jon uses fresh garlic and I used powdered. Jon told me once “don’t get too attached to fresh ingredients, powdered and dried spices are perfectly fine and have their place in the kitchen”.


5 pounds pealed Yukon Gold Potatoes. Do not substitute! Cut into chunks about 1/4 inch thick

Handful kosher salt

1 tbsp ground black pepper

3/4 -1 cup whole milk

2 sticks salted butter brought to room temperature and cut up

1 tbsp powdered garlic

Cover potatoes with cold water and add salt, pepper and powdered garlic. bring to a boil. Cook until tender but not mushy. Drain water and transfer to a mixing bowl. add butter and half of the milk. Mix on low speed until ingredients are incorporated then speed up. Taste; add more milk, salt, pepper and garlic as needed.

Carve roast one rib at a time. Plate and side with mashed potatoes and gravy.

I really wish Jon could have tasted this one… It was magnificent!


Scalloped Potato Pie; Recipe


Scalloped Potato Pie; Recipe

Okay folks, last night I tried something new and fabulous. A few weeks back a friend of mine made a dish called “Potato Flan”; it was very good and I couldn’t wait to try it. Sorry for no pictures but I was in full cooking mode yesterday and did not have time. In any event, this is a must try recipe and can be done in many different ways using different cheeses and accompanying ingredients. I look forward to trying this with Smoked Bacon and Cheddar.



3 Pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes sliced very thin (Yukon Gold is must)

3 Tbsp minced garlic

1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

1/4 lb Gruyere cheese shedded

1/4 Lb Fontina Cheese shredded

1/4 Lb Gouda Cheese shredded

3 XL eggs

1/4 Tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 Tsp Cracked black pepper

1/2 Tbsp Kosher salt

Pam or non-stick cooking spray

Special Equipment

8″ x 8″ baking pan or similar.

Mandolin slicer.

Parchment paper or foil.


Preheat oven to 375° F.

Spray the baking dish with cooking spray. Lay the potatoes in overlapping rows to cover the pan. Sprinkle with cheese and garlic. Repeat layering until you reach the top of the pan utilizing all of the cheese and garlic. If your pan is not quite the right size, it’s not that big a deal! Improvise!!!

In a large bowl whisk heavy cream, eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg together very well. Pour mixture over potatoes slowly and at the sides until all liquid is used. Lightly press down on potatoes to distribute the mixture.

Tip: Let your cream and eggs come to room temperature before whisking together.

Lightly cover the dish with parchment or foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours or longer depending on the depth of your baking dish. Remove cover for the last 20-30 minutes of cooking to brown the top.

Allow the dish to rest for 15-20 minutes before cutting or serving onto a plate. The resting will allow the dish to set and become somewhat firm.

I was amazed how easy and rewarding this dish was. Try substituting Cheddar for the cheese and add cooked smoked bacon while omitting the nutmeg. I have not tried this yet but I’m sure it will work quite well.


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Hot Potato Salad AKA Heart Attack Potatoes AKA Elvis Potato Salad; Recipe

This is simply; delicious, extremely unhealthy, bacony goodness!


8 medium potatoes (I always use Idaho potatoes), cooked, cooled, peeled & diced (I peel and dice the potatoes and then cook them to save time)

1 cup  real mayonnaise (I use Hellman’s)

1/2 cup chopped onion (white}

1 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed

1 lb bacon, fried & crumbled

1/4 cup chopped olives

1/2 tsp salt


Combine potatoes, cheese, onion, mayo & salt in baking dish.  Sprinkle bacon & olives over top & bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Orzo with Pan Sauteed Vegetables

Pan Sauteed Vegetables With Orzo

About six years ago my friends had a late night get together after a Tequila tasting. Carol Friesz and Greg Agricola are excellent home cooks. Carol made an excellent cold Orzo Pasta Salad with shrimp and Greg made smoked burgers on the grill. I asked for the recipe but we never took the time to make it happen. Several months ago I bought a package of Orzo; it sat in my pantry for far too long. I finally cooked my Orzo in this incredibly easy recipe.


1 Pound orzo pasta

8-10 Baby Portobello mushrooms

10-12 Asparagus spears

1 Red bell pepper sliced

1 Small Spanish onion sliced

3 Cloves garlic minced

1-2 Ounces fresh basil torn or chopped

Fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and cracked pepper to taste

Treat Orzo like you would any other pasta when cooking. Have a saute pan ready and preheated when you add the pasta to the water. Immediately after adding the Orzo to the boiling water add olive oil to preheated saute pan. Add all ingredients except basil and saute for 8-10 minutes; this is the exact time it takes the Orzo to cook. Add salt and cracked pepper. Add basil after 4 minutes of cooking. Drain cooked Orzo and add to sauteed vegetables and stir in adding more olive oil as needed. Plate and sprinkle with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Do not overcook the vegetables.

Alternate Recipe: Substitute Fried smoked bacon and grease for olive oil. Add crumpled bacon at the end. Saute vegetables in the bacon grease.

Fried Potatoes in Bacon Grease; Recipe

Fried Potatoes in Bacon Grease

This is one of my mother’s many recipes that I have changed a little to make my own. This dish is not healthy at all and you probably shouldn’t try it! However, you haven’t lived until you’ve had Fried Potatoes in Bacon Grease!


1 Very large or 2 medium Idaho potatoes002

1 Onion sliced

3-4 Slices bacon fried

1-2 Serrano or 1 jalapeno pepper (optional)

Ground black pepper to taste.

Salt or Goya Adobo if needed

Heat a cast iron or other large skillet to medium heat. Fry bacon until fat is rendered. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

Eat the bacon now or save for meal. As you can see from the picture; I couldn’t wait!

Add potatoes to pan and sprinkle with black pepper. Fry covered for 5 minutes without stirring.

Flip potatoes and cover for another five minutes. Flip again after five minutes and add onions and peppers.

Fry uncovered flipping every several minutes until potatoes are dark and the onions are caramelized.

Serve with eggs of your choice or a side to to dinners.

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole;Recipe

Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole

I made this for Thanksgiving by special request. I did some research reviewing recipes by James Beard, Jeff Smith and the Food Network. James Beard’s recipe called for Cognac but I wanted to use Bourbon. So I did! It’s important not to use too much liquid allowing the eggs to set up the casserole.


5 large sweet potatoes


3-4 eggs beaten with fork

1/2 cup softened butter

1/4 cup Bourbon

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp nutmeg; I use fresh grated

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup brown sugar

For the topping

Chopped pecans

1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Poke holes the sweep potatoes with a fork 3 or 4 times. Place sweet potatoes on a foil or parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for at least an hour. When the sweet potatoes are soft let cool and remove skin. Turn oven down to 350 degrees. The smell of baking sweet potatoes is intoxicating and makes me think of the holidays.

In a mixing bowl mash the sweet potatoes and butter with a hand masher until butter is melted. Add remaining ingredients except for the eggs. Mix by using the hand masher or electric mixer. Add eggs and stir into mixture until incorporated. Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Top with brown sugar and enough pecans to generously cover. Bake for 40-60 minutes considering the depth of the casserole dish. My dish was deeper so I cooked for an hour. Use your judgement on cooking time. Test with a knife inserting it into the middle of the casserole to test for temperature. The casserole should be very hot in the middle.

This is a great holiday side dish to turkey and most notably baked ham!

4 Cheese Macaconi & Cheese

Mac & Cheese My Way

This dish is inspired by Pina Lollino & Ristorante Italia. Pina’s Pasta Quatro Fromage ( 4 cheese pasta) was one of my favorite all time dishes. I’ve mixed her recipe with a basic Macaroni and Cheese to get this. This recipe is very rich and satisfying.

1/2 pound elbow large macaroni

4 ounces each of Fontina, Gorgonzola Dolce, Parmigiano Regiano, Mozzarella cheeses

1/2 cup white onion finely diced

3 cups milk

3 tbsps flour

4 tbsp butter

1 egg beaten then tempered

1/ cup panko or regular bread crumbs

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg freshly grated is best.

Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a large sauce pan melt 4 tbsps butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour continuously for five mines. Add milk, salt, onion and nutmeg. Simmer for ten minutes over medium low heat. Pull about a cup of   liquid out of the pan for tempering the egg. Beat the egg in a large bowl; quickly whisk in hot liquid a little at a time while whisking.

Cook 1/2 pound of macaroni in salted water until al dente.

Tip: Tempering eggs is done by gradually adding hot liquid while whisking. this allows the egg to thicken with out hardening. If you were to add the egg into the hot liquid; it would cook quickly and solidify.

Add the tempered egg mixture and cheese stirring constantly until cheese is well incorporated. Add in your cooked macaroni and incorporate into sauce. The mixture will seem too loose (too much liquid). Trust the recipe! Pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with bread crumbs and grates Parmegiano Regiano. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove and let stand for five minute.


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