In the Kitchen with Mike Young

Written by Kathy Weiss

Photos by Reggie Morrow

If something’s cooking on Mike Young’s watch, there’s probably a party going on.

In fact, according to Mike, the combination of good food and good friends is a cause for celebration.

The 38-year-old father of four and president and owner of Precipio Wealth Advisors of Iowa City insists that making dinner for friends is one of the more fun things he does.

Whether he’s presenting a meal or advising clients, satisfying those at the table is everything, he says.

“My wife does most of our daily cooking,” Mike says, referring to Susan, mom to Henry, Sam, Charlotte and Greta. “I’m primarily focused on entertaining. I see cooking as a social outlet.

“I really enjoy the holidays and big events that we don’t cater.”

Standing center stage in front of the 48-inch Dacor stove that his wife calls their “third car,” Mike shares how he maneuvers a meal, which often begins the night before with a lot of chopping.

“We love to have people come and gather around the kitchen,” he says, noting that they designed the open space in their home on Hickory Heights Lane with ample handcrafted walnut work surfaces specifically for that purpose. “My house is happiest when it’s full,” he adds. A man of many specialties, Mike is as adept at prepping a prime rib roast with Italian seasonings and bread crumbs, which he serves sliced and broiled, as he is grilling swordfish or salmon. Yet, he is most celebrated for the annual Young-Bowton family Thanksgiving dinner featuring his highly-touted maple-herb turkey with applejack brandy flavored gravy, cranberry Italian sausage dressing, whipped potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.

Based on a recipe from Bon Appetit, the turkey received such rave reviews that it’s been the main course for the past 12 years.

No matter what the menu, Mike’s celebration meals are a delicious way to serve others.

“It’s an opportunity to be generous to people who are generous to me,” he says. “I’m not an accomplished chef, but I really enjoy doing certain things.” His summertime repertoire of grilled items includes shrimp scampi, filets, salad and risotto or fresh fish with lemon cilantro rice and veggies.

A thoughtful chef, Mike mingles during food prep and serves each guest as part of the experience.

“I like to ask them what they want, how they like their salad dressed and steak prepared. I have a glass of wine and I continue to work as people dine.

“I don’t find myself to be particularly artistic,” Mike says, “but I like how cooking lets you be creative. The idea that I can prepare something and have people sit down and say ‘That’s great.’ It’s wonderful to be able to bring that kind of joy to someone else.

“In my life, I’m almost always performing and we are usually measured by the returns we produce,” the investment advisor said. “A smile on their face — that’s sufficient return in and of itself.” n

SOUTHWESTERN BARBECUED BRISKET WITH ANCHO CHILE SAUCE

  • 4 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chile powder*
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 5-to 5 1/2-pound flat-cut (also called first-cut) brisket with 1/4- to 1/2-inch layer of fat on 1 side
  • 4 cups hickory or oak wood chips, soaked in water 1 hour
  • 4 disposable 6 x 3 3/4 x 2-inch mini aluminum loaf pans (for wood chips, if using gas grill)
  • 2 11 3/4 x 8 1/2x1 1/4-inch disposable aluminum pans (for brisket)
  • Heavy-duty aluminum foil
  • Ancho Chile Sauce

Mix first 7 ingredients in small bowl. Rub spice blend over brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic; refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

For charcoal grill:
Remove top rack from barbecue. Prepare barbecue (low heat). Light briquettes in chimney; pour onto 1 side of lower grill rack (you'll need to light more briquettes in chimney to replenish 2 or 3 more times during grilling). Drain 2 cups wood chips. Scatter 2 cups wood chips over coals. Return grill rack to barbecue. Heat barbecue to 300°F.

For gas grill:
Remove top rack from barbecue. Prepare barbecue (low heat). If using 2-burner grill, light 1 burner. If using 3-burner grill, do not light center burner. Drain 2 cups wood chips. Stack 2 mini loaf pans (one inside the other); fill with 1 cup wood chips. Stack remaining loaf pans; fill with 1 cup wood chips. Place pans over flame (if using 3-burner grill, place both pans on 1 lit side). Return rack to barbecue. Heat barbecue to 300°F. (If temperature rises too high on 3-burner grill, turn off burner without chips.)

Unwrap brisket and arrange fat side up in 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch aluminum pan; place pan over unlit part of barbecue. Cover barbecue. Cook brisket until instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 160°F, adjusting vents or adding more charcoal as needed (if using charcoal grill) or adjusting gas levels (if using gas grill) to maintain temperature inside barbecue grill at 250°F, about 31/2 hours. Baste brisket occasionally with pan juices and add more drained wood chips as needed.

Remove pan with brisket. Discard pan and juices. Wrap brisket tightly in 2 wide sheets of heavy-duty foil. Place in clean 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch aluminum pan. Return to grill over unlit side, maintaining temperature inside grill at 250°F, until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of center of brisket registers 190°F, about 1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer brisket in pan to rimmed baking sheet. Let rest at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.

Carefully unwrap brisket, saving any juices in foil. Transfer juices to small pitcher. Place brisket on work surface. Thinly slice brisket across grain; transfer to platter. Brush brisket with some of juices. Serve with any remaining juices and Ancho Chile Sauce.

* Available in the spice section of many supermarkets and at Latin markets.