You may not have heard of West Coast Prime Meats, but if you’ve dined out in Orange County you’ve almost certainly sampled its wares. Founded by Amy and Craig Nickoloff (with other partners), the company supplies fine proteins of every type to a who’s who of restaurants, across O.C. and beyond, from its Brea plant. The Nickoloffs are also longtime restaurateurs—Craig earlier founded the influential Claim Jumper chain—and son Nick owns San Clemente favorites Nick’s and South of Nick’s.
Now, the Nickoloffs have tapped the talent on their client list to compile a cookbook, “West Coast Prime Meats Cooks” (WCPM Books, $25). With contributions from Arc to Zov’s, the recipes span the spectrum of O.C. restaurants. I’m impressed with the signature dishes—Arc reveals the components and method of its famous burger, and Zov Karamardian provides the recipe for her rack of lamb with pomegranate sauce. Besides tempting recipes, there are succinct, detailed histories of each restaurant featured, and the whole package makes for pretty absorbing reading. Beef dishes dominate the table of contents, as might be expected, but lamb, pork, and poultry also have good representation. There are even seafood offerings from King’s Seafood and Las Brisas.
Along with client recipes, the book includes some from West Coast Prime Meats staff and suppliers, as well as the Nickoloff’s own restaurants. A recipe for filet mignon chili from the Nick’s menu appears below. The lean, luxe tenderloin makes a rich, restaurant-y chili that executive chef Omar Gonzalez, whose recipe this is, serves with sour cream-enriched cornbread (that recipe’s also in the book). Gonzalez says this chili is one of Nick’s customers’ favorites. “Every recipe we make is created to satisfy our guest’s palate, with a lot of tasting by all the team,” he says. “It is a simple recipe, but great for a cold day, especially with corn bread just out of the oven.”
“West Coast Prime Meats Cooks” is available on the company website. Ordering details are here, and there’s a nice lagniappe: $5 from each book sold goes to the Wounded Warrior Project and the Gary Sinise Foundation.
Filet Mignon Chili From Nick’s Restaurant
(Makes 4 generous servings)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 ½ pounds filet mignon, cut in 1-inch squares
1 large white onion, cut in ½-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 quart canned tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup chili powder (McCormick’s preferred)
¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
¾ teaspoon granulated onion
2 ½ teaspoons cumin
Grated cheddar cheese
Diced white onion
Chopped green onion
Heat olive oil in heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. Add filet and sauté about 5 minutes. Add onion, reduce heat to medium and continue to sauté approximately 5 minutes more, until onion is translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes.
In mixing bowl, whisk together tomato sauce, water, chicken base, salt, chili powder, granulated garlic and onion, and cumin. Carefully add to meat mixture.
Simmer approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish as desired with cheese, white onion, sour cream, and green onion.