OMFG, this Monte Cristo is one you can “count” on!

When Heaven comes to land on your plate, this is what it looks like!

I am a lover of the  rare and often horribly prepared “Monte Cristo” sandwich. What is a Monte Cristo sandwich you ask? Its pretty simple really, its just good fluffy bread, with swiss cheese, ham and turkey. What is so frigging special about that you say?…Well, the good and proper part is its battered and deep fried…yes, deep fried! I have found what I so far in my life of gorging and  culinary debauchery to be the ultimate, best Monte Cristo sandwich around and you won’t believe where you have to go to eat it.

Disneyland, yes…Disney, f ing land!, the Cafe Orleans to be exact…But all the food at Disneyland sucks ass and is made for fat tourists from Omaha! No my friends, the food at Disneyland and many, many other Disney lands, worlds, etc…is quite good, and in this case…amazing! Yes you have to sit and listen to the dixieland band playing 5 feet away from your table, but its worth it!

The Sandwich is an amazing display of contrasts.  When you bite into it, it starts off with a sweet, crunchy batter that is a lot like they used to put on Pioneer Chicken (those of you who remember that chain will know what I am talking about). Then, it is fluffy and warm as you move through the delicious bread, into a gooey piece of just the right temperature swiss cheese, then the smokey ham and turkey, back into a luxurious piece of bread, and finally more crunchy batter…all smothered with fruit preserves and topped with powdered sugar!

They took a semi healthy sandwich, took away the “health” and added flavor and deliciousness that resulted my heart wanting to kill me and my stomach thanking me for the gift it had received.

This is without a doubt the best Monte Cristo on the west coast, cause I have eaten one at every place I can find em on the menu (thats not very many). Its worth the trip to Disneyland just to get one, and look on the bright side, you can walk off all the calories trying to find a line short enough to actually wait in!

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Spicy Root Beer Pork Chops, an “experiment” in the kitchen

Pork Chop with Spicy Root Beer and Berry Reduction

I was at Whole Foods today which always ends up with me buying a lot of stuff and cooking tons of things in the kitchen. I love to go “hungry”, which may cost more but really gets my culinary creative juices flowing. So today there was a lovely, just the right size pork chop with my name in it.

I wondered what to do with it, I mean I could do a reduction of the Hitching Post Pinot Noir I just put into the cart, but then that meant I could not drink the whole bottle tonight (insert comments on that here…). Root Beer?…Would that work, I mean can you reduce it, its mostly flavorings and what not, but I make a mean Coke Pot Roast so I figured why the hell not…well, I went home, cranked open the bottle of Hitching Post and the following is the result.

Note: I was really impressed with the mellow sweetness of the root beer and will be using it in the future for kitchen experiments!

Brown Sugar Coated Pork Chop with a Spicy Root Beer and Berry Reduction.

By Chris Cognac

Reduction as follows:

In a small sauce pan over high heat put in 6 oz of A &W Root Beer, bring to boil and reduce by half. When reduced by half, add 2 strawberries and  several raspberries (frozen is fine). Continue to reduce till the amount is 4/5 of what you put in the sauce pan, then remove from heat and add 1 tbs of Srirachi (the Rooster red sauce) and incorporate into sauce. Let cool for a few mins, it will thicken to your liking, see below photo.

Close Up of the Root Beer Reduction
Spicy Root Beer Berry Reduction

Pork Chop:

Pat dry Pork Chop, drench in “essence” type spice…(You can buy at any store), then put into hot saute pan with a bit of bacon fat. Seer both side of the pork chop and remove from the pan. Coat with brown sugar and place under a hot broiler for approx 5 mins, until the brown sugar is bubbling…like the photo below.

Then remove from heat and let cool, the brown sugar will begin to harden, slice thin, plate and cover with sauce…its awesome, try it!

Brown Sugar bubbling under broiler

“Downtown Vegas” Cool: and the “Atomic Weekend:Rat Pack Night” video

Atomic Weekend: Rat Pack Night

I am a big fan of downtown Las Vegas…It’s what “Real Vegas” is as far as I am concerned. You can walk from casino to casino in min, without having to walk a half marathon through one casino and all its “spending opportunities”…The people are friendly, the limits are low and there is some pretty good food to be had, for cheap too!

I filmed the pilot of my Food Network show the Hungry Detective in Las Vegas and filmed at Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse (Chicken Fried Lobster) and at Mermaids, a “dive-cheesy” little slot machine casino with great $1.00 hot dogs and deep fried twinkies! The Chicken Fried Lobster is a “destination” dish…The deep fried twinkies…try em once…try em twice, you will end up in the cardiac care unit! Speaking of Binion’s, there is a bar in the back of the casino where you can get a huge (pretty decent) pizza and a pitcher of beer for around 10 bucks!

If you want a great dinner, with “Old Vegas” feel, for a really good price, check out The Flame” Steakhouse at the El Cortez Hotel Casino, its fantastic!  The 4 of us ate there and each got a wedge salad, French onion soup,  porterhouse steak (20 oz), huge baked potato, we split an amazing creamed corn and a creamed spinach, plus a bottle of wine….and the final tab…$56.00 per person….including a nice tip!

The Plaza Hotel and Casino is currently in the middle of a 30 million dollar renovation (buying all the furnishing at auction from the failed fountain blue project)  and will emerge from its cocoon as a symbol of its former downtown glory once again becoming the proper anchor hotel to the Freemont Street Experience. The Gold Spike, once the smoke and bum filled dump of the downtown Vegas scene, has been completely re-done from top to bottom and is really got a cool new “vibe” to it, and has got great room prices and a really good prime rib deal!

Do I even need to mention the Golden Nugget? Its new “Rush Tower” rooms are amazing, and they have the best pool downtown! If you are an “Opulence, I has it” kind of person, the Golden Nugget is for you! If you want a classy hotel, with lots of wood, old school feel and low limits (1$ roulette) check out the El Cortez.

So grab your own Rat Pack, dress up and head downtown,its a blast and a nice change from the “douchy strip”

Atomice Weekend: Part Deux

Well, I got around to making the second part of the movie covering the 1st evening of the legendary and epic “Atomic Weekend” in Las Vegas. This movie takes us to Hofbrauhaus with Chef Adam Sobel…we get our asses spanked…literally…drink a lot of stuff then find ourselves looking for a taxi at 330 am!…It was a great night….and I still have to make the movie about the 2nd night!

Atomic Weekend: Las Vegas Part-1

I love Las Vegas, I love the food, the dive bars, the low roller casino’s…all of it, except the stuck up “douchy”  “I am a VIP, let me pay 500 bucks for “bottle service” kind of Vegas….anyway, last year 3 of my buddies and I did the most epic Vegas trip ever. The 1st night was “Low Roller” Night….it started off at Frankie’s Tiki Room and ended at 330 am wandering the street looking for a cab after the last drink at the Peppermill….in between, we hooked up with some amazing chefs, drank “ass juice”, got spanked by hot chicks, did the chicken dance, stumbled down the strip, talking like Hanz and Franz after leaving the Hofbrau Haus…it was Epic…and that was just the first night….The second night was Tuxedo’s, Steak, Martini’s and all class!  So  here is “Part 1” of the adventure…I am working on “part duex” now…Oh for you Hungry Detective fans, you will see some familiar faces and places from the Vegas show as well as the L.A. Show!