Talk Takeaway: Cooking with Aaron McCargo Jr.

Posted on Sep 21, 2012 10:45am

Chef Aaron McCargo, Jr. joined the ladies of THE TALK to show us how to prepare a fun family tailgate. Here are the recipes he showed us today:

Barbecued Beef with Pickle Slaw on Toasted Soft Rolls

Serves 4 to 6

pounds boneless beef short ribs
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper, plus more if needed
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, smashed
½   cup ketchup
1 cup cola
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
10-12 soft slider rolls, split

Pickle slaw (see below)

Preheat the oven to 425. Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.

In a large Dutch oven or similar pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, sear the short ribs on all sides until the meat is crusty and nicely browned, 50 to 6 minutes total. Lift the short ribs from the pot and set aside on a platter.

Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in the ketchup, cola, vinegar, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and paprika and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Return the ribs to the pot, cover, and roast in the oven until the beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove the pot from the oven and set aside to allow the meat to cool.

When the ribs are cool enough to handle, lift them from the pot, shred the meat using your fingers or a fork, and put it in a bowl. You will have about 3 cups of shredded short ribs. Set aside until ready to use.

Strain the cooking juices through a sieve into another bowl. Refrigerate the juices until you can skim and discard the fat that rises to the top, 20 to 30 minutes.

Spoon as much of the defatted cooking juices into the rib meat as needed to moisten it. You will need at least ¼ cup and perhaps more.

Reheat the meat on high power in the microwave until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat the broiler and toast the rolls, cut sides up, for 1 to 2 minutes, until nicely browned.

Pile equal amounts of meat on the bottom half of each roll and top with pickle slaw. Put the top half of the roll on each sandwich, press gently, and serve.

Pickle Slaw
Makes 3½ to 4 cups

1 cup thinly shredded green cabbage
1 cup thinly shredded red cabbage
1 cup julienned baby dill pickles
½ cup julienned carrots
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 jalapeño chile peppers, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon smoked or kosher salt
¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

In a large bowl, stir together the cabbages, pickles, carrots, onion, and jalapeños. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and black pepper.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate the slaw for at least 30 minutes to marinate.

Bacon, Pesto, Pasta Salad
Serves 6 to 8

1 pound rotini pasta
8 slices cooked crispy bacon, crumbled
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 cup roasted red pepper strips (two 4-ounce jars)
½ cup thinly sliced red onion
½ cup sundried tomatoes
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (3 to 4 lemons)
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil


In a medium saucepan, cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, transfer to a dish to cool to room temperature. The pasta can be chilled until ready to use.

In a large bowl, toss the pasta with the bacon, parmesan, roasted peppers, onion, and sundried tomatoes.

In food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse the basil with the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Slowly drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube into the pesto and pulse until smooth. Spoon the pesto over the pasta mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours to give the flavors time to blend. Serve chilled or at room temperature, garnished with parmesan.

Mini Football Cakes with Coconut-Mascarpone Frosting

1 standard size box of chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup of shredded coconut
1 container of store brought white frosting

1 container of store brought chocolate frosting
Directions: Bake the cake mix on a 9x11 sheet as directed by the box.
In a bowl mix the chocolate frosting, mascarpone cheese and coconut. Mix until smooth.

Once the cake has cooled, take a football shaped cut-out and press into cake. Once you are done, ice each football with the chocolate frosting. Place a small amount of white frosting in a Ziploc bag. Twist so that all frosting is in one corner and snip the very edge to create white "football lace" lines.

Connect with the Talk