Uncle Wiggly's Good Time Cooking Contest - Version Weekday

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Yay! A contest! It took me a bit to come up with something worth doing. And personally, I'm getting a little overwhelmed with all the fancy cookin' & ingredients both in books and on the internet. Sure it's a lot of fun, always something new to try. But this isn't something that occupies most of my time in the kitchen or at the grill. I'm usually coming home from work and have about 1.5 hours to come up with something, get the kitchen clean and serve up food that is worth eating, good or at least good for you. To be honest, after 10 years of cooking every night for my family, I'm starting to come up a little dry on recipes. So, this contest is all about your favorite weekday meals.


Entries starting July 13th and will be ending July 27th 2005.

  1. Our first entry is from Celeste from Chopstick Cinema. Hooboy her entry looks good as she's sportin' her Asian Macaroni & Cheese. Good luck Celeste!
  2. For number 2, we have Greg from Life's a picnic (July 20th 2005 entry) with his Povety Kitchen entry of Smoked Roasted Chicken, Tossed Salad and Rice. Love the color there pally boy.
  3. Number 3 brings us Kevin from Seriously Good and his Chicken Picata. I'm liking this one already and I haven't had a bite!
  4. Winos and Foodies brings us number 4 and it looks like a perfect meal for a tough weeknight, Coconut, Prawn and Rice Noodle Soup.
  5. Ooo, look !! Esurientes - The Comfort Zone chimes in with Easy dinner: creamy lentils with sumac lamb chops. Dang, that's some nice lamb there.
  6. The Pragmatic Chef chimes in with an awesome Cowboy Ribeye au Poivre with South of the Border-laise Sauce. Scot is doing good work here, go have a gander!
  7. Hey, look what Jennifer at Taste Everything Once is up to, Homemade Pizza. I would absolutely love to have this tonight, love.
  8. Charlotte from Love & Cooking stopped by with her Summer Weeknight Special. Yum, maters.
  9. Hey Sam! Look at what Becks & Posh are doing during the week, Ode to the Omelette. I have to say, one of the images that give me shivers is to watch a chef make an omelette or scrambled eggs.
  10. Right as I'm packing up to leave for the day, Brandon from Brandon Eats shows up with this entry; Spain, Chicken, and Bouillabaisse. Go see, he's using some smoked paprika. I LOVE smoked paprika.
  11. Cool, Meg from I Heart Bacon gives us her Chinese-style Steamed Fish with Tofu. That's one fancy lookin' easy meal there Meg.
  12. You just gotta go see what Barbara from Tigers & Strawberries submitted, Keema Sookh and Baigan Bhartha.
  13. Sweetnicks just emailed over her entry, Salsa Stoup with Guacamole Smash and Double-Decker Quesadillas. Now that's a mouthful and a half!
  14. Yay, Alice from My Epicurean Debauchery did up Saba-Weekday style for the Doc. Simple and frighteningly tasty lookin'.
  15. Guess who made it in on time this contest? That's right, Fatemeh from Gastronomie culinary adventures in san francisco & behond. Hey, she did two meals, neat. MmmMmm, Scramble & Charcuterie and Rib-eye Steak for 2 With Smashed Potatoes & Swiss Chard. Both sound divine, good luck!
  16. I was beginning to think no one would step forth with the mighty B.L.T., awwww. Then, Saffron at The Food Palate did some fine stepping and gave us this world class version, Saffron's BLT.
  17. Holy Rack of Lamp people! Joanne shows up from Fork & Bottle with her Rack of Lamb-i-kins. Not good for this time of the morning when I'm a bit HUNGRY.
  18. Hey, Henry Joe got his entry in. Since he doesn't have a web site, we're going to do this all right here. So, sit back and relax.

Indoor Tri-Tip with Cabernet Reduction

I love to cook outdoors. I do it every opportunity I have. Trouble is, I haven’t turned to The Dark Side and bought a gas grill yet. I’m strictly a live fire guy. Which means a little more prep-time, and that’s not always feasible during the week when Mrs. Slappy and Slappy Jr. want their dinner NOW.

I love grilled tri-tip. It’s one of my favorite things to grill. One night when it became clear that there was no way in Hades that I would be grilling outside, I sheepishly cooked a tri-tip indoors using the following method. And I absolutely loved the results. So here you go, a relatively simple weeknight meal that seems like fancy weekend dinner party fare. Indoor tri-tip with cabernet reduction.

Step one. Season the meat.
For this all-important process, over the years I’ve been tirelessly working on the perfect rub. After countless hours of tinkering, I’ve finally arrived on a complex rub I call “Salt, Pepper, and Fresh Thyme.” Clever name, huh? The rub consists of, you guessed it, salt, pepper, and finely chopped fresh thyme leaves. I do use Kosher salt and Telicherry pepper, freshly ground. But you don’t have to. Just mix those three together and rub them all over the tri-tip.

Step two. Cook the meat.
Use a large, oven-proof frying pan for this, you’re going to be searing on the stovetop and finishing in a hot oven. So take your cast iron skillet or oven-proof frying pan (I have an All-Clad stainless number that I love) and heat that sucker up on the stove. Get it incredibly hot. Much hotter then you think you need. We’re looking for a good sear and caramelization here and that meat will cool down the skillet real fast. So go for HOT here, kids. Did I mention hot? Then add a wee bit if olive oil, followed by that tri-tip roast. Sear it up real good on one side to get a nice, deep brown color and crispy texture. Then flip that bad boy and do the other side for a while.

After the bottom side has some color, insert your thermometer and immediately put the pan and roast into a 400 degree oven. Cook until the meat reaches 125 internal for rare. Caveman Ogg say … rare good! Remove from the oven and take the meat out of the pan and put it aside to rest while we make that pan sauce.

Step 3. The Cabernet Reduction
Well, well, well, looky here in the bottom of that pan: fond. The stuff of life. The primordial ooze from which great sauces evolve. This is the base of our tasty reduction. Turn the heat up to high and get it sizzling. To this, add a couple tablespoons of finely minced red onion. Anthony Bourdain, being the shallot supremacist that he is, would kill me for substituting red onions. Not only would he kill me, but he would probably make a lovely force-meat out of my innards. Using shallots. But hey, he’s not here and I ain’t got no damn shallots. So red onion it is.

Let that red onion sizzle up for a few seconds before deglazing the pan with a bit of cognac. Go ahead, tilt the pan toward the flame and let it burn, baby. Fire is fun. My four-year-old loves this part! Once the flames subside, then add about a glass and a half of a decent cabernet. None of this Two Buck Chuck swill allowed. Use something you’d actually want to drink.

Let that wine reduce way down. Some folks like to add a bit of chicken broth at this point. If you do, fine. It’s good that way, but it’s a weeknight and we’re keeping this simple. Next add a little bit of heavy cream, and let that reduce down some more. After that, add a squeeze of lemon for brightness.

Next turn off the heat and add about a tablespoon of cold butter, cut into cubes and stir them in one at a time, letting each one dissolve before adding the next. It’s important that the heat is off or the sauce will break, all the fat will rise to the top, and you’ll look like a complete retard. So be patient and keep stirring, letting all that butter incorporate. When it’s done, pour off the sauce into a cool vessel and prepare for slicing.

Finally, try not to drink this stuff straight-up before you slice the meat.

Step 4. Slice, Sauce, Eat.
Your tri-tip should have rested adequately now while you’ve been busy making your reduction. So it’s time to slice. Go against the grain, and make each slice no thicker than a pencil. Plate a few slices and pour on some of that lovely cabernet reduction. Finally, being careful to keep foreign objects and important papers away from your mouth, commence chowing down with reckless abandon.

Not a bad meal for a weeknight.

19. I just love saying, "Hey Lady". Sorry, okay here we go. Lady Amalthea from Noshes, Thoughts & Reves brings us Uncle Wiggly's Stir-fried Turkey and Scallion. Bring it on! I have to admit, I very much appreciate the scallion. I always have some on hand, love the bright happy crisp it lends.

20. It's good to see Cookiecrumb from I'm Mad and I Eat, I was hoping she'd make it. She gives us her My-Go-To Meal.

21. Look who poked his head in so late? Monky Gland from Jam Faced and his Sex and the Skillet.

22. Where ya been Amy? She's from Cooking with Amy and gives us a Perfect Peanut Sauce Recipe.

Hey All,

Looks as though this might be the last entry here. If not, email and let me know if I've missed anyone. I'm very impressed and delighted by the work, effort and time it took all of you to take time out of your daily routine and do a post about your daily routine. Thank you so much and I expect to have some results early this weekend, maybe sooner. Great effort everyone and good luck to all!