Tired of Playing Fowl on Thanksgiving?

You will absolutly fall in love with this Umami stuffed butternut squash so much, it just might persuade you to reconsider poultry this holiday season! Not only is it vegetarian… it’s fancy! 

You’ll Need: 

1 cup fresh pecans, chopped

1- foot long butternut squash

1 Japanese eggplant about 8-10 inches in length

1 zucchini, about 10 inches in length

1 white onion, cleaned and roughly chopped

2-3 garlic cloves, divided

1 shallot, coarsely chopped

1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, coarsely chopped

1 celery rib, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup sundried tomato packed in oil, squeezed of excess oil

1 tablespoon good quality olive oil

1 bunch fresh thyme, divided

8 oz. unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

2 eggs

1/2 cup Japanese bread crumbs

1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine and divided

1 teaspoon ground sage

Kosher salt and white pepper

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 325′ F Degrees. Toast the pecans on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop and set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 400′ F Degrees. Drizzle the baking sheet with good quality olive oil.

While the oven is getting up to temperature, carefully cut butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the interior, leaving about a 1/2″ border on all sides and creating a divot deep enough to fit the eggplant halves inside. Discard the stringy guts, reserving all the solid meat filling, and the seeds for roasting.

Cut eggplant in half lengthwise and scoop out and reserve the interior, leaving about a 1/4″ border on all sides and creating a divot deep enough to fit delicious filling inside, which will go inside the butternut squash- follow me?

Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, scoop out interior for the vegetable, leaving behind a fairly-wide mote down the center to fit the remaining filling.

Place squash halves cut side up, on a prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, be sure to pierce insides of squash and zucchini halves to release steam. Using a sharp knife, make shallow crosshatch marks inside of eggplant, being careful not to pierce through the skin. Season all with salt and pepper butter and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey then set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the garlic, shallot, onion, mushrooms, celery, squash, and eggplant filling. Working in batches, if needed, pulse the food processor until finely chopped but not to a paste. Add sundried tomatoes and pulse one final time.

Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetables from the processor, and a few thyme sprigs and the ground sage. Cook until the mixture begins to brown, and almost all the moisture evaporates- about 5-8 minutes. Taste, and adjust season with salt and pepper. 

Remove from the heat to a large bowl and allow the vegetable mixture to significantly cool. Remove the thyme sprigs and discard. Crack in the eggs, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, panko, a small handful of chopped parsley, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. 

Using an ice cream or portion control scoop press about 3/4 cup vegetable mixture into each half of the butternut squash until the interior is fully coated using the back of the scoop or spoon press the combination into and up the sides making room for the eggplant to fit. Sprinkle with the toasted pecans and then add the eggplant cut side up and repeat the filling process, including the pecans. Now add the zucchini and repeat to fill with vegetable mixture, continue the nesting process with each halve until you have filled the whole butternut squash with all the vegetable halves layered with stuffing- just like your famous lasagna.

Using kitchen twine. Slip under one squash half, then top with the second squash half, so that the cut sides face each other. Now press together and tightly tie the twine around squash to secure it for the oven. 

Brush the exterior of the stuffed butternut squash with melted butter and maple syrup then season again with salt and pepper. Wrap the squash tightly in aluminum foil and place it in the center of a low-sided baking dish to prevent it from rolling. 

Roast the squash until it is tender to the touch, about 90 minutes to 2 hours. 

Remove foil and let rest at least 10-20 minutes.

Remove twine and place it on a cutting board. Cut into 1″ thick disc with a serrated knife, transferring to serving plates as you go. Spoon warm herbed or salted butter over slices, garnish with more pecans and serve with warm maple syrup.

Happy holiday!

Cardamon, Honey Cake with Fresh Baked Pears

Perfect for Fall, this recipe calls for Bosc pears, try not to substitute- this varietal has firmer flesh than others, which helps hold its shape during baking. You will swoon over the combination of sweet, sticky cardamon spiked honey liberally soaked into this lovely cake.

You’ll need

For the cake:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup honey

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 Bosc pears, thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline if possible

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the cardamom honey

3/4 cup local honey

Pinch of cardamom, plus more as needed

For the whipped cream

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved, or 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste

2 tablespoons sugar

Here’s How

To make the cake, preheat an oven to 325°F degrees. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of buttered parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. 

Add the honey and beat until smooth, about an additional minute. Add the eggs and vanilla until combined, another 1 minute or so. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture in 2 additions, beating until no streaks of flour remain and all lumps have disappeared.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula. 

Fan the pear slices on top of the batter, overlapping them slightly and gently pushing them down so they sink slightly into the batter. Bake until the cake is deep golden brown and the pears are tender, 50 to 55 minutes depending on how your oven responds. Add chopped walnuts over the top of the cake during the last 10 minutes of baking time. Poke the center with a toothpick and if it pulls out clean your cake is ready to be removed from the oven.

Meanwhile, while the cake is baking, prepare the cardamom honey. 

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the honey and cardamom and heat, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Taste and add more cardamom, if desired. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

To make the whipped cream, in the clean bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the cream, vanilla, and sugar on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes; do not overbeat. Keep chilled.

Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the pan gently onto the rack, lift off the pan and peel the parchment paper off the cake. Using a second wire rack, turn the cake right side up, so the baked pears are facing you. While the cake is still warm, place the rack with the cake on top of a plastic-wrapped lined baking sheet and pour the warmed cardamom honey evenly over the cake. 

Transfer the cake to a platter, cut it into slices and serve warm, spooning some of the whipped cream on top of each slice.

Pro Tip: A mandoline makes fast work of cutting the pears into thin, uniform slices.

Candy Cap Roasted Butternut Squash

The haunting maple flavor of Candy Cap Mushrooms makes this so much more than a great side dish. This wintery squash can also become the base of a magnificent butternut squash soup if you have leftovers.

You’ll Need:

2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium-sized dice

1 cup dried candy cap mushrooms 

1/2 cup lukewarm water

Olive oil

4-6 tablespoons room temperature butter

2-3 tablespoons warm cream, chicken or vegetable stock

1 teaspoon Madeira, optional

Salt and pepper to taste

!/4 teaspoon fresh ground sage, or to taste

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground cinnamon , or to taste

Parmesan cheese, grated, for garnish

Maple syrup or honey for garnish (optional)

Roasted pumpkin seeds for garnish

Here’s How: 

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F degrees.

Place the dried Candy Cap Mushrooms in lukewarm water. Soak for a minimum of 15 minutes. Remove the hydrated mushrooms from the liquid making sure to reserve the soaking liquid. Chop mushrooms into small fine dice. Set aside.

In a medium-sized sauté pan, add chopped mushrooms and butter. Sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high heat until mushrooms become almost dry. 

In an additional 1 quart saucepan, pour reserved Candy Cap soaking liquid into the sauté pan add the Madeira. Boil and reduce the volume to about a ¼ cup. Set aside.

Place squash cut side up in a small roasting pan. Season the flesh of the squash with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Spoon the Candy Cap and butter mixture into the cavity, and the rest of the squash surface.

Gently cover with a foil tent and bake for about 90 minutes. Remove the foil the last 15-20 minutes of roasting time.  

When the squash is toasted brown in spots, and tender when poked with a fork-tender, but still a bit firm to the touch it’s time to remove it from the oven.

Cool slighting and scoop the roasted meat of the squash with the mushrooms into a large mixing bowl. Add butter and cream and a pinch of cinnamon. Mash with a potato masher to the consistency of smashed potatoes or whip with a handheld mixer for a smoother texture. Adjust seasoning to your liking with salt and pepper. 

Place in a serving bowl and garnish with a drizzle of maple syrup or honey ( taste first, because Candy caps are sweet, and can overpower. )

Garnish with pumpkin seeds and grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve steaming hot.

Decadent Creamed Corn Casserole!

Trust me when I say– someone at your dinner table will ask you for this recipe! 

You’ll Need:

8-10 ears of fresh shucked corn off the cob, or 1 pound frozen white kernels and 1 pound frozen yellow kernels. Or, all yellow.

1/2 onion, peeled halved and studded with 3-4 cloves

1 large russet pototo peeled and cut in large 1/2 inch dice

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 pint unsweetened whipping cream

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup cane sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon white pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

2 Tablespoons very cold butter

2 Tablespoons flour

Chopped parsley for serving

Paprika for garnish

1/2 cup grated Parmesean cheese, divided

Fresh homemade crutons

Here’s How:

Preheat the oven to 350′ F Degrees. Generiously butter an 4 quart casserole dish, and dust with grated parmesean cheese. Set aside on a foil lined sheet pan.

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and flour bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes.

In a small dish combine the flour and butter to form a paste. Mix into the corn mixture and continue to cook until thicken.

Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper and cayenne. Add additional sugar if your prefer your recipe a bit sweeter. Remove smashed garlic and studded onion. Discard.

Add diced potato and parmeseasn cheese and mix to combine,

Place in prepared casserol dish and cover. Bake for 10-20 minutes until flavors are incorporated and potatos are cooked.

Serve piping hot. Garnish with warm homemade crutons with a sprinkling of paprika and chopped parsley.

Makes approximately 8 to 10 servings

Variations:

Add chopped fresh pimento for a little kick.

Roasted Pumpkin Salsa

Looking for something diffrent this Holiday Season? Try my recipe for roasted sugar pumpkin salsa! Pumpkin is not only the leading food this time of year! Pumpkins also have definite health benefits. If you want food to fill you up, but not fill you out… Pumpkin will be your new fav!

You’ll Need:

Good quality olive oil

1 small sugar pumpkin

1 organic heirloom tomato, de-seeded and cut small dice (optional) 

1/2 cup fresh white or yellow corn

1/2 red onion, julienne 

1 serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 clove garlic, fine dice

1 lime, zested and juiced

1/2 lemon juiced

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Drizzle of maple syrup  

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Roasted and Salted pumpkin  for garnish 

 

Here’s How:

Preheat oven to 350′ F Degrees. Carefully cut pumpkins open with a serrated knife. Remove pulp and seeds. Slice into 1/2 inch slices for easy skin removal, reserve seeds in salted water for roasting. 

On a baking sheet, lay pumpkins slices, drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil, flip, and season with salt and pepper.

Roast uncovered for about 15-20 minutes depending on size. Poke with a fork to check doneness. Be sure to undercook the pumpkin to hold their shape when diced. Cool quickly to prevent overcooking. When cool, remove skin and cut into dice.

In a small bowl- combine tomato, red onion, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, lemon, lime zest and juice, cumin, and 1-1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Add cooled diced pumpkin. Toss to coat.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper add additional cumin and maple syrup to taste.

Serve with corn tortilla chips.

Holiday Cheat Sheet- Just in case you’re wondering how much to Shop, Cook and Serve!

As a professional chef, one of the most frequent questions I’m asked is how much food do you need to feed each guest? So, I decided to build a mini cheat sheet for the upcoming holiday season! Hope this helps!

Every 2.4 pounds of food you donate creates a meal for someone else. 

Cocktails: If you are serving throughout a two-hour cocktail party or dinner with spirits and mixers – One 750 ml. bottle of spirits will serve 17 drinks. Plan on 3 drinks per person if you have a fun crowd!.

Finger food: On average, guests will eat about 3-4 appetizers each during the first hour and will eat about 3 appetizers each for each subsequent hour. Especially If consuming alcohol. My rule of thumb is to be prepared to serve : 3-4 pieces per person with alcohol and 2-3 without alcohol. 10-12 pieces will be equivalent to a full holiday meal replacement.

Main Protein: Turkey: 1 1/2 pounds per person.

Gravy: 1/2 cup per person.

Cranberry Compote: 1/4 cup per person.

Stuffing: 1 1/2 cups per person.

Side dishes: 1/2 cup per person for more than one side dish. If serving only one side dish plan on 1 1/2 cups per guest.

Potatoes or sweet potatoes: 5 to 6 ounces per person, which is about 1 large golden Yukon, or small russet potato, or half of a large sweet potato.

Salad: Plan for 1/2-1 cup of salad per person unless the majority of your guests are counting calories, then I would increase by 50%.

Bread: estimate 1 1/2 rolls per person 

Pie: One pie will feed eight guests if you are serving additional desserts. If not, plan on one pie serving six guests.

Whipped topping: 1/4 cup of cream (measured before ) whipping per guest.

After-dinner drinks: One drink per guest. Depending on who your friends are.

Wine: A typical wine bottle size is 750 ml that contains 25.4 fluid ounces. The glass size determines how many servings. For example, you’ll get approximately six servings per bottle using a 4-ounce wine glass compared to five servings using a 5-ounce glass.

Sparkling wine: I usually recommend 2 glasses of sparkling wine per guest. There are 6 full glasses of sparkling wine in a standard 750ml bottle.

Coffee or Hot Tea: About 1 1/2 cups per guest after a meal.

Happy Holiday

Make Ahead- Chocolate Espresso Pot De Crème!

Perfect sweet little finish to a large festive feast, just in time for the holiday! And make ahead the day before so you don’t need to worry about making dessert the day of your event. Also, great little treat just to have hanging around the fridge. If you can save them from getting gobbled up. 

You’ll Need:

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

6 ounces good quality 60-70 % chocolate, finely chopped

6 ounces good quality 80% chocolate 80%, finely chopped, plus shavings for garnish

2 tablespoons sugar

1 – 4 inch cinnamon stick

Pinch salt

1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon good quality instant espresso powder

Unsweetened whipped cream, for serving

 

Here’s How:

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the heavy cream, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. Reduce heat add the vanilla, espresso, and salt. Stir to combine. Set aside.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks until creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1/2 – 1 cup of the hot milk, into egg yolks while whisking vigorously bringing the yolks close to the same temperature as the milk. This stage is called tempering. Once the cream is tempered into the egg yolks, transfer the tepid egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining flavored cream. Begin cooking to form a thick custard.

Over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it is slightly thickened, about 5-6 minutes. Immediately add the finely chopped chocolate and remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or bowl to help you pour into smaller serving vessels.

Pour the chocolate mixture into desired serving vessels and refrigerate until the pots de crème are chilled, for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Serve the pots de crème with unsweetened whipped cream and chocolate shavings and an optional dusting of cocoa. Or simply… a candied coffee bean. I like to pair chocolate with Raspberries or Oranges. Candies Orange peel would be nice if you put a splash of Grand Mariner in the pudding. If you need to know when, just send me a message. Shhhhh! 

Makes approximately 8-10 servings depending on the size of your serving vessel.

Note: If eggs begin to curdle in the tempering stage, cool the cream before any further additions, and immediately run the mixture through a sieve before proceeding to the next step.

Gingerbread Pancakes with Molasses Spiked Maple Syrup!

These pancakes that taste like you are eating gingerbread cookies for breakfast! So magicial and delicious! They’re light, soft, fluffy with a pleasant boldness. Nicely spiced without being overwhelming. If you’re sensitive to these bold flavors like I am, tone them down a bit by adding less than the recipe calls for, and spike the molasses to your taste!

You’ll Need: 

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon instant espresso ( optional)

Pinch salt, optional and to taste

1 -2 cups buttermilk the more liquid, the thinner the pancake

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons light, medium, or dark molasses ( avoid blackstrap )

3 tablespoons melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 recipe Molasses Maple Syrup ( see below ) 

Here’s How: 

In a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients, and whisk to combine – make a well in the center, set aside.

In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients and whisk to combine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until combined. The batter will be fairly thick; add more liquid if you prefer a thinner pancake.

Preheat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray (or use melted butter if you prefer).

Using a 2 ounce ice cream scoop ( sprayed with cooking spray for easy release) , scoop batter onto warm, prepared skillet.

Cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes until bubbles form on the edges. Take a peek at the underside with a spatula, and when golden, flip.

Control heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until cooked through. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more cooking oil to the skillet as needed, be sure to wipe any black residue with a paper towel as needed. The molasses will burn quickly, so be sure to control the temeratures.

Serve immediately, garnished with fresh winter fruit and drizzle with syrup!

Ginger Molasses Maple Syrup

You’ll Need: 

1 cup maple syrup

 2-3 tablespoons light, medium, or dark molasses, or to taste

1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, to taste

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Here’s How:

Combine all syrup ingredients in a small bowl or serving pitcher and whisk until smooth. Warm syrup and drizzle over pancakes. 

To keep pancakes warm for up to an hour, transfer them to a lined baking sheet and place in a preheated 200’F Degree oven with a cup of hot water to keep warm and moist.

Not-So-Traditional Bulgarian Banitsia

Banitsa is a famous cheese, yogurt, and egg pie. Historically renowned dish of Balkan cuisine and typically served for special events. I can’t get enough of it. Based on my geographical location and ingredients, this recipe still has enormous flavor; the sharp feta cheese with the richness of the eggs and yogurt is a perfect trifecta, but the crunch of paper-thin baked dough drives it home.

Bulgarian Banitsia is traditionally prepared with homemade phyllo sheets, a delicious Bulgarian brined cheese called Sirene, fresh Bulgarian yogurt and vegetable oil. If you source Bulgarian products, I recommend using them for the most authentic experience. Feta and Greek yogurt are the closest and widely used substitutions, they work well, so dont be too worried if you can’t find traditional ingredients.

I love the result of filling and rolling the dough up into loose cylinders so much; I make all sorts of crazy-variations. Sometimes I use sundried tomatoes, cream cheese, chopped scallions, then sprinkle the top with everything bagel spice. Occasionally, I will create a sweet dessert using almond paste mixed with eggs and a drizzle of orange flower water and honey, then top off with powdered sugar. 

Sunday Brunch drool-worthy! 

Thawed Ready Made Dough Leaves, Fillo, Phyllo Dough
Thawed Ready Made Phyllo Dough Leaves

You’ll Need:

15-20 sheets Phyllo dough, thawed

8 ounces Greek yogurt, plain  

3 eggs, beaten

2 tablepoons unsalted butter, melted 

1 teaspoon fresh baking soda

10-12 ounces internationally sourced feta cheese, crumbled 

Fresh ground pepper

Non-stick cooking spray

1 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened

Parsley, chopped fine for garnish or your favorite herbs

Here’s How:

Preheat your oven to 350’F degrees. Lightly grease a springform pan with non-stick cooking spray, or use any baking vessel you have. Don’t shy away from your 9×13 rectangular casserole dish either- it doesn’t need to be round. 

Remove the dough from the package and gently unroll it onto a clean working surface. Cover with a lightly dampened, clean kitchen towel so the dough will not dry out too quickly while you’re working. 

Crack the eggs into a cereal bowl and lightly whisk them with a fork. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk the yogurt with the egg mixture, drizzle in the melted butter, add fresh ground pepper and baking soda. 

Working with 2 sheets for each roll, standing in front of the long side of the rectangular-shaped dough, sprinkle about 3-4 tablepoons of the yogurt-egg mixture onto the pastry sheets, top with a handful of cheese sprinkled on top of the egg mixture. Carefully rollthe sheets of the dough away from you to form a loose cylinder. The dough may have some tears, but that’s okay. Just continue creating a long cylinder shape.

Place the first roll into the center of the pan wrapped in a coil. Repeat this step with the remaining pastry sheets until you fill the baking vessel.

Once complete, lightly brush the top with some of the remaining yogurt and egg mixture and dot with the softened butter. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes until the pie is golden brown. 

Cool slightly before serving, and complete the meal with a delicate toss salad comprised of tender baby-green tossed with a lemon vinegarette.

Note: If you run out of egg filling at completion, crack an additional egg, whisk with a teaspoon of water, and lightly brush the egg wash across the top of the pie before baking, prompting a beautiful shiny and evenly browned crust.

Be sure not to use too much filling or the dough will loose its crunch.

Charred Beef Tip with Chinese Five Spice and Grilled Cara Cara Oranges

Chinese five-spice is pungent and encompasses all five tastes—sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami—and uses five different spices. This dynamic Asian seasoning is a mixture of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorns, and fennel seeds. It’s easy to make at home, but it’s ok to purchase it premade too. I usually pair it with additional sweet ingredients because it is so powerful.

You’ll Need: 

2 pounds beef tri-tip, trimmed

1 small yellow onion, quartered 

2 cups low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons honey

4 Cara Cara oranges, 2 zested and juiced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4-1/2 cup pineapple juice

2-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 heaping tablespoon of Sambal Garlic-Chili Paste

1/4 bunch of cilantro, stems removed (set a few leaves aside for garnish)

Kosher Salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set aside.

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 – 1 teaspoon ground Chinese five-spice 

2 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch 

4 to 6 green onions, chopped thin on a diagonal for garnish

Sesame seeds, for garnish

Gigi's Chinese five spice ingredients

Here’s How: 

Before you begin, trim the beef of any excess fat. Season the beef on both sides with Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Set aside.

In the bowl of your food processor, combine the remaining ingredients, except 2 of the oranges, the zest, green onions, sesame seeds. Blitz until liquid. 

Place beef tri-tip in a resealable container or zip lock and coat well with 1/2 the liquid marinade. Refrigerate for a minimum of 8-12 hours. Add zest to the remaining liquid, store in a sealed jar until grill time. 

Preheat grill. Clean and oil the grill grates. Heat the remaining sauce until thickened, keeping a close eye on it to ensure no burning. The sugars in the recipe will torch fast. Strain and return to the stove. 

Remove beef from marinade, and be sure to discard any of this remaining liquid.

Grill the tri-tip over direct medium heat, occasionally flipping for about 25 to 45 minutes, depending on the weight of the cut and your preferred internal temperature. For the last ten minutes of grill time, move the tri-tip to indirect heat and begin basting with a portion of the sauce you have on the stove until the tri-tip is entirely glazed, charred, and sticky. 

Slice the remaining oranges in half and place cut-side down on the hot oiled grill grates. Cook oranges for about 3-5 minutes until they become somewhat charred, then remove the oranges and set them aside.

When the beef is ready, remove it from the grill and allow it to rest for about 8-10 minutes. Be sure to carve across the grain, place on a serving platter, drizzle with remaining sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, cilantro leaves, green onions and grilled Cara Cara oranges. .

Serve with steamed white rice.

Note: If you would like the sauce a bit sweeter, add another tablespoon or two of sugar to the remaining sauce and continue to simmer until the sugar has melted. A bit spicier, add a bit more Chinese chili paste a bit more bold and fragrent, add additional five-spice. 

The mixture should be able to coat the back of a spoon. If not, make a slurry 2:1 cornstarch and liquid – stir into the sauce. Carefully heat to a quick boil to activate thickening. If you have clumps, strain the sauce through a fine sieve- no big deal. Remove from heat and serve on the side or pour over top of sliced tri-tip. It’s that simple!

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