Remember back in May 2008 when the Food Network's Guy Fieri came to town?
Fans of his "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," series have likely caught the segments featuring the Utah places he visited: Ruth's Diner, the Burger Bar in Roy, Moochie's Meatballs, Lone Star Taqueria, Blue Plate Diner, Red Iguana and Pat's Barbecue.
Four of these spots are featured in Fieri's new cookbook travelogue, "More Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" (William Morrow, $19.95).
You'll find recipes for Smoked Barbecue Meatloaf from Pat's Barbecue; Eggplant Parmigiana Sandwich from Moochie's Meatballs, Carne Adovada Tacos from Lone Star Taqueria and Red Iguana's Mole Negra with Chicken.
There are 40-plus recipes from Fieri's other jaunts around the country. But it does sound like he has a soft spot for Utah.
"Salt Lake City is definitely one of my favorite cities for food; so is Phoenix, and I love Cleveland, too," he wrote in his foreword.
He adds this piece of advice, "One of the things I tell people is if it's a really hot or really cold climate, it's likely that people will have good food there. My theory is it's because you have to spend more time indoors. Now I'm not saying that you can't find great places elsewhere — I'm just saying the likelihood is high for great eateries in these places."
On Fieri's blog, he says that the Utah restaurants featured on his program have noticed a significant increase in business, not just when the first show airs but each time there are re-runs.
And that's not likely to change, even if readers can make these recipes at home. More than anything, it gives you a healthy respect for what goes into these dishes. Just looking over the 28 ingredients for the Mole Negra, you start thinking it's a lot easier to just head over to Red Iguana for it. The Smoked Barbecue Meatloaf is simple enough, except that you need to your own smoker and cured applewood to smoke it for four hours.
The Utah restaurants were pretty tame compared to some of the quirky stuff Fieri has eaten along the road: chicken gizzards; lamb, beef and calf testicles; calf brain' pig ears and pig tail.
But, he wrote, he will NOT eat liver; if the keys to a Lamborghini sports car were hidden under a piece of liver, "it would end up being somebody else's car ... One thing we probably won't see on the show is a liver and egg sandwich or a lot of sweets. This is me, Guy Fieri, and hey, it's my road trip."
EGGPLANT PARMIGIANA SANDWICH
Even if you don't think you like eggplant, this will convert you.
1/4 cup kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 large firm eggplant
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 to 1 cup olive oil
6 Italian-style hoagie rolls, split
1 cup part-skim mozzarella, shredded
2 cups prepared marinara sauce, warm
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a large bowl with warm water, and stir in the salt until it dissolves. Slice the eggplant crosswise about 1/4-inch thick, making sure that the slices are a consistent as possible. If the base of the eggplant is very large, cut those slices in half lengthwise.
Add the eggplant slices to the salt water, and let stand for 1 hour. Make sure the eggplant is completely submerged.
Remove the eggplant slices from the salt bath, and shake off excess moisture. In a shallow dish, whisk the eggs, 1 teaspoon salt, and the pepper to make an egg wash.
Spread the bread crumbs in another shallow dish. Dip the eggplant in the egg wash, then the bread crumbs, covering all surfaces.
Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels. Lightly coat a large heavy frying pan with olive oil, and allow it to heat up over medium-high heat. Add some eggplant slices to the pan, cover and cook until you see the eggplant begin to be translucent, about 5 minutes. If the eggplant becomes too dark, lower the heat and allow it to cook slowly. Using a large spatula, turn the eggplant onto the other side, and cook until it is completely tender, about 1-2 minutes more.
When eggplant is completely cooked, transfer it to the paper towels to blot any excess oil. Repeat with the remaining eggplant.
Place the hoagie rolls in the oven until warm, about 5 minutes. Divide the eggplant evenly among the rolls and top with shredded mozzarella cheese and warm marinara sauce.
— Joanna Rendi MacDonald of Moochie's Meatballs and More