Category Archives: Recipes

Original Joe’s 3/4 Pound Hamburger Sandwich

Original Joe's San Jose

Original Joe’s San Jose. Photo Credit: Victor H. via Yelp. Used with permission.

Introducing Original Joe’s

Original Joe’s is a beloved Italian restaurant, an institution located in the heart of downtown San Jose. It’s a holdover from a simpler time, a Bay Area tradition that dates back to 1937 when the first Original Joe’s opened in San Francisco. More locations and perhaps a few copycats opened over the years. They all followed the same successful model: Waiters wore tuxedos, kitchen staff wore “chef’s whites” and “toque blanche” (white hat). They served old-fashioned Italian-American dishes prepared in an open kitchen, the menu consisting of steaks and seafood cooked on a charcoal grill, Italian pasta specialties,  soups, salads, side dishes, and desserts. And they had a piano bar where, back in the day, men wore suits and ladies wore dresses and you’d stop by for a cocktail and listen to someone tickle the ivories or play the organ. Real classy!

Original Joe’s in San Jose opened in 1956. It was a partnership of four men, at least two of which had a family connection to Original Joe’s in San Francisco. Surviving all these years through good times and bad,  even through the exodus of downtown retailers to spacious air-conditioned malls in the 1960s and 1970s, Original Joe’s continues to serve favorite foods with a “traditional San Francisco flair” to locals as well as to visitors from all over the world.

The Famous Hamburger Sandwich

One of the signature dishes at Original Joe’s is the “Hamburger Sandwich”. Today they call it the “Original Joe’s Famous Hamburger”, but to those of us in the know, it’s still the hamburger sandwich.

The hamburger sandwich is simplicity at its best. The menu describes it as, “3/4 pound ground chuck tumbled in chopped yellow onion, Swiss cheese, grilled or broiled and served on our signature French bread.” You can add bacon or fried egg, if you like.

Famous Hamburger Sandwich

Original Joe’s hamburger sandwich. Photo Credit: John D. @forksandtrails via Yelp. Used with permission.

The chopped yellow onion is pressed into the raw ground chuck and formed into an oblong-shaped patty. I don’t care for the strong onion flavor, so I order mine without onions. You’ve got to have it grilled on the mesquite-fired charbroiler. It takes a long time to cook a burger this thick, but your patience is rewarded when it finally arrives at your seat at the counter. (You are sitting at the counter, aren’t you? Where you can watch the open kitchen in action?)

The hamburger sandwich comes with Swiss cheese; I add bacon. It’s served with steak fries and a little cup of ketchup on the side. I always wish they’d bring more fries and ketchup to begin with, but you can ask for more.

My Attempt To Make A Hamburger Sandwich

I decided to make a version of the Original Joe’s hamburger sandwich using my Weber gas grill. No mesquite charbroiler, to be sure, but quicker and easier.

I formed 1.5 pounds of good quality 80/20 ground chuck into two thick, 3/4 pound oblong-shaped patties, applied kosher salt and pepper, and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, giving the salt a chance to penetrate the meat. Continue reading Original Joe’s 3/4 Pound Hamburger Sandwich

Reverse Searing NY Strip Steaks From Creekstone Farms

In a post from earlier this year, I mentioned visiting Lakewood Meats in Lodi, CA where I purchased some quality Creekstone Farms steaks. In that post, I reverse seared ribeye steaks in a cast iron skillet and concluded by saying, “It’s easier getting steaks on and off a cast iron griddle vs. a cast iron skillet, so next time I’ll use my griddle instead.”

Creekstone Farms NY strip steaks grilling indirect before the reverse sear

Well, last weekend I found two Creekstone Farms NY strip steaks from Lakewood Meats at the back of the freezer and did the reverse sear on them, too, but this time finishing on the griddle.

This video summarizes the process: Continue reading Reverse Searing NY Strip Steaks From Creekstone Farms

Picanha from Porter Road Butcher

Picanha (pronounced “pee-KAHN-ya), also known as top sirloin cap or coulotte, is a cut of beef that most Americans know little about. Those that do probably associate it with expensive Brazilian steakhouses (churrascarias) where it’s skewered in half-moon shapes, grilled to perfection, and carved to order at the table.

Skewered picanha with other meats
Skewered picanha (second from left)

A company named Porter Road Butcher gave me a 4.24 pound package of their dry-aged picanha to try, and it’s the basis of this article. You’ll find picanha at better supermarkets, butcher shops, or online meat retailers.

Picanha Defined

Picanha is a triangular roast with a lean side and a fat side covered with thick, white hard fat.

Picanha in packaging

Lean side of picanha

Fat side of picanha

Picanha has great beefy flavor and good moisture due to abundant intramuscular fat. It should not be confused with tri-tip. Both come from the sirloin primal, but picanha is cut from the top sirloin butt while the tri-tip is cut from the bottom sirloin butt. Continue reading Picanha from Porter Road Butcher

Grilling Cheeses

Close-up of marinated grilling cheese on a sourdough crisp

My first encounter with grilling cheeses was at the 2019 San Francisco Fancy Food Show. You can watch my video to learn more about my experience at that amazing specialty food show.

After trying some of those cheeses at the show, I decided to buy a few and grill them at home on my Weber Summit 450. I bought the following:

Selection of grilling cheeses

The first two were ones I saw and tried at the Fancy Food Show. The third one was something I picked up at Whole Foods. Continue reading Grilling Cheeses

Beef Vs. Bacon Burgers From Porter Road Butcher

I’ve cooked beef/bacon burgers once before, back in May 2016. On that occasion, I smoked them at 300-325°F using the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker. Delicious and smoky, to be sure. But on this occasion in August 2019, I grilled beef/bacon burgers using my Weber Summit 450 gas grill.

A company named Porter Road Butcher gave me a two-pound package of their Beef Vs. Bacon mix to try. It’s a 50/50 blend of smoked pork belly bacon and dry-aged beef trimmings. Porter Road doesn’t specify the percentage of lean-to-fat in the ground beef, only that it’s “lean ground beef”. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s 90/10 ground beef or something close to that.

Beef Vs. Bacon in the package

If you’ve never tried a beef/bacon mix for burgers, you should, especially if you’re a bacon lover. It’s amazing how much flavor bacon adds to otherwise delicious ground beef. But these Bacon Vs. Bacon burgers had it all—the fat and smokiness from the bacon plus the hearty beef flavor that only comes from dry-aged beef. Continue reading Beef Vs. Bacon Burgers From Porter Road Butcher

Grilled Peaches Redux

Finished grilled peach with ice cream and granola crumble

I last wrote about grilled peaches in August 2014 when two members of The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board shared their approach to grilling this wonderful summer fruit.

It’s almost the end of peach season here in Northern California, and before summer is over and we rush headlong back into our fall routines, I wanted to share some grilled peaches that I made just for you, and they could not be simpler to make.

Start with perfectly ripe, juicy peaches. Freestone peaches works best. The ones shown here are from Andy’s Orchard in nearby Morgan Hill, CA…probably the best stone fruit you’ll find still grown here in “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”.

Fresh peaches

Gently rinse and dry the peaches. Use a sharp knife to cut in half from pole to pole, twist to open, and remove the pit. Continue reading Grilled Peaches Redux

Grilled Corn On The Cob

Grilled corn on the cob is so easy to make that it hardly demands a post on the subject, but here goes anyway.

Fresh white corn on the cob in the husk

Buy fresh, sweet corn on the cob. Look for large ears that are long and even in width. I like white corn more than yellow or bi-color corn, it just seems sweeter to me, but purchase whatever corn is your favorite. Most important is that it be in-season and fresh.

Remove the husks and silk as best you can. Cut off the stem flush with the cob. Cut off the pointy end to remove those janky little kernels and to make a flat spot to insert a corn pick after grilling.

Preheat your Weber gas grill with all burners on MEDIUM for 10 minutes. Clean the cooking grates with a grill brush.

Corn on the cob over medium heat

Continue reading Grilled Corn On The Cob

Reverse Seared Cast Iron Skillet Ribeye Steaks

I picked up a couple of high quality Creekstone Farms ribeye steaks at Lakewood Meats in Lodi, CA while in town judging a barbecue contest.

Lakewood Meats in Lodi, CA

Creekstone Farms steaks in butcher counter

These steaks were about 1″ thick. I wish they’d been 1-1/2″ thick, which would have been a better thickness for the reverse sear cooking method used here.

I sprinkled the steaks with kosher salt on both sides and refrigerated them on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet pan for 2 hours. Right before grilling, I applied freshly ground black pepper to both sides and pressed it on with my hands.

I setup the Summit 450 gas grill for indirect cooking, with two burners OFF on the left side and two burners on HIGH on the right side. I placed a 12″ cast iron skillet on the hot side of the grill to pre-heat.

Ribeye steaks on cool side of grill Continue reading Reverse Seared Cast Iron Skillet Ribeye Steaks