Wednesday, March 04, 2015

What's on the Grill #313: Corned Beef & Colcannon

I can offer no real explanation. I happen to love St. Patrick’s Day.

Ironically, many of the things we associate with St. Patrick’s Day are neither traditional nor Irish. While today, bars are known for flowing kegs of green beer, St. Patrick’s Day was a dry holiday in Ireland until 1961. Speaking of St. Patrick, he was actually a Britain and was born Maewyn Succat - not Irish and obviously not a Patrick. Finally, the perennial run on brisket for corned beef is decidedly American, as early Irish immigrants went for the lower cost beef. While pork was cheap in Ireland, it was not in the US. 

So, back to my premise, what is it about St. Patrick’s Day? Well, another thing, it certainly isn’t about green beer. The only difference between bad beer and green beer is green food coloring. Looking for a good beer, think the traditional Guinness.


Looking to branch out? I recommend going north to Scotland and Belhaven Scottish Stout.

Belhaven Scottish Stout

Guinness is good. Belhaven is better, with an even fuller mouthfeel packed full of sweet malt with hints of molasses and a nice, much like its drinker, nuttiness. Not Irish, yes, but better. 

Corned Beef & Colcannon

Part of the appeal of St. Patrick’s Day is not only it's celebration of Irish culture, but the fact it’s a gateway to spring. All day parties, great food, fabulous Irish music, lots of good beer, and yes, plenty of green.

While not traditional per se, I’m all about corned beef. While cabbage is a typical corned beef companion, I always opt to pair my beef with colcannon, the traditional Irish cabbage potato dish, presented here with plenty of extra greens. It’s a holiday after my own heart - and, rather appropriately, my stomach.


Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Potato 

5 russet potatoes, peeled & cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup whole milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large leek, only white and light green parts, halved and sliced thinly
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 head napa cabbage, cored and coarsely chopped
1/8 t freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup chopped green onions

Leek, Cabbage, & Kale

1. Steam the potatoes in a large pot until easily pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.

2. Move the potatoes to a bowl and wipe the pot clean. Return the potatoes to the pot and add half the butter, the milk, 3/4 t Kosher salt, and 1/4 t pepper.  Mash.

3. Melt the remaining butter in another large pot over medium heat. Add the leek and shallots. Sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the kale, and toss until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the napa cabbage and toss until tender, but still crisp, about 8 minutes.

Ground Nutmeg

5. Sprinkle with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Cover and stir. Let sit for a minute, then transfer to bowls. Sprinkle with the green onion and serve.

Colcannon in pot

Corned Beef
Based somewhat on Bon Appetite adapted for the grill by Another Pint Please

2-3 pounds uncooked corned beef brisket
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
3 bay leaves, torn
1 T black peppercorns
1 T coriander seeds
1 T yellow mustard seeds

Weber - Vent

Grill Setup

For this recipe, I used the Wok accessory from the Weber Gourmet BBQ System. A cast iron dutch oven work will too.

Prepare the grill for medium high indirect heat, 350-400 F, with the charcoal pushed to either side of the grill and nothing in the middle.

1. Place the corned beef in the wok and add enough water to cover by at least an inch. 

Corned Beef in the Wok
2. Place the wok on the grill over direct heat and add the parsley, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and mustard seeds.

Herb & Spice
3. Lower the lid as much as possible over the wok and allow the water to come to a boil. With the wok directly over the coals, the wok is pushed to the outside of the grill meaning the lid will not close all the way. For this step, no problem. We want the heat up to boil the water, which will happen with the lid open and more oxygen moving through the coals.

4. Once boil is achieved, move the wok to the center of the grill. Lower the lid and gate the top and bottom vents down to lower the temperature to direct medium, approximately 250-300 F.

Corned Beef

Allow the corned beef to simmer until tender, 3 1/2 - 4 hours. Skim the liquid and add additional water as needed.

Corned Beef

Most certainly, corned beef can be cooked indoors.

Corned Beef

However, the additional layer of flavor the grill lends the dish is worth the extra effort. Even in the snow.

Caught in the snow

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Samuel Adams: Double Bock

Is it wrong that whenever I think of monks, I think of monk’s brewing beer? My short answer is no. We owe a lot to the monasteries of Europe for their efforts in understanding beer and improving the brewing process.  Their efforts and styles stand strong today.

Double Bock

It’s partly for this reason, I look forward to the release of Samuel Adam’s Double Bock every spring. Double bocks, or rather doppelbocks, are one of the original “big beers,” and by big, I mean alcohol content. Going back to our friends, the monks, doppelbocks were brewed as a means of sustenance during times of fasting, such as Lent. It was literally “liquid bread.” Records show monks would fast on only beer and water, and while that may seem hard to believe, it’s been replicated recently.

While it’s a little difficult for me to try my own beer fasting research, I can instead take solace with a bottle of Double Bock and hope that spring is indeed around the corner.

Samuel Adam’s Double Bock is malt forward, which explains the rather full mouthfeel. I get hints of raisins, a tinge of tart, and a slightly biscuity finish. While it is a big beer at 9.5% ABV, the alcohol is never overly present.

On a gloomy winter day, it’s a fantastic treat tip to sip, while dreaming of spring.

Double Bock

Samuel Adams Dobule Bock is available nationwide for a limited time. I suggest you find a relaxing chair, and try it out.

Note: My friends at Samuel Adams were kind enough to send me a bottle. As always, the thoughts, views, and tasting notes, are my own. The earliest picture I have of Double Bock is from only 2009. I say “only,” as Samuel Adams has been brewing Double Bock since 1988. Where was my camera for all of those years?

Monday, February 16, 2015

What's on the Grill #312: Grilled Beef Burgundy

If there is one thing I’m good for, it’s trying to include the grill in every meal I prepare, even when it’s a little crazy. Why yes, I could have stayed inside and prepared Beef Burgundy in the oven. However, there is a reason I say, “Take it outside.” Dinner always tastes better on the grill, even a classic French dish.

While I’m sure there are countless slow cooker variations of Beef Burgundy, the difference between an adequate dish and an extraordinary one is the layering of flavor. It takes time to bring all of the pieces together. However, the work, and most importantly, the effort, is well worth it.

I adapted the recipe from Russ Dobson’s excellent cookbook, Grillhouse. It’s a different take on the classic recipe and works perfectly with a dutch oven and my trusty Weber kettle.

Beef Burgundy

Beef Burgundy
From Ross Dobson’s Grillhouse, adapted for the grill by Another Pint Please

Serves 4
Takes over a day to make

2 lb 4 oz chuck steak
3 cups red wine
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 T olive oil
3 1/2 T butter
4 oz bacon, sliced into 1/2 pieces
12 small pickling onions, peeled
24 button mushrooms
1/4 cup brandy
1 beef stock cube
2 t lemon juice
handful Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped

In a large bowl, combine the steak, wine, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Burgundy Prep

Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a medium sized saucepan. Pick out the meat from the strainer and set aside.

Burgundy Prep

Place the remaining solids back into the saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat on the stove (Yes, stove…or preferably, a side burner on the grill. For this recipe, the grill is only replacing the oven). Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the liquid has been reduced by half.

Strain the contents through a sieve. Save the liquid and trash the solids.

Preheat and prepare the grill for a 2-zone, medium-low heat, indirect fire. In other words, place the coals only to one side of the grill and adjust the vents to keep the temperature between 300-325 F.
Place the flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper. Lightly cover each piece of meat with flour, by rolling the meat across the plate.

Meat Prep

Place a cast iron dutch oven directly on the grill grate over the coals and add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, add the bacon and cook for 8-10 minutes or until browned and crisp. Keep the lid closed as much as possible while the bacon cooks, otherwise the grill temp will climb too high. If it does, slide the dutch oven off the coals to the unlit side.

Grilling Bacon

Remove the bacon from pan. Cook the beef in batches, until well browned.

Browning Meat

As the meat cooks, remove and set aside in a bowl.

Meat Transfer

Add the onions and cook until browned, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove and add to the beef.
Add the mushrooms to the dutch oven, and cook 4-5 minutes until soft and golden.  Remove.

Tending the Grill

Deglaze the dutch oven by adding the brandy. Cook for a minute, while scraping the bottom of the dutch oven to remove the fond.

Return the bacon, beef, onions and mushrooms to the dutch oven. Don’t forget to add any reaming juice in the bowl.

Add the reserved wine and bring to a boil, making sure the dutch oven is directly over the coals.

Crumble the stock cube into the dutch oven. Stir to combine.

Cover the dutch oven with its lid and slide to the indirect side of the grill.  Place the lid on the kettle and grill for 90 minutes, keeping the temperature between 300-350 F.

Cast Iron on Weber

If the temperature starts to climb, gating down the top vent should reduce it.

Beef Burgundy

Stir after 45 minutes. Remove from the grill once the meat is very tender. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and serve.

Beef Burgundy

The end result is a wonderfully flavored dish. The extra work of browning all of the ingredients is worth its weight in spades. There is a fabulous smokey richness that permeates every tender bite. It’s proof once again that my grill is better than an oven.

Warning: Not for the weak of heart

While certainly germane to the process, but absolutely not to the recipe, I must share something that happened while I was grilling this dish.

As I dashed out the backdoor between courses of browned meat, I found myself standing directly in front of the grill when I heard a very loud thud not but a foot off my right side. I glanced overt to see a very large squirrel - that was half eaten. At the same moment, I heard rustling from above. As I looked up, I saw a large hawk, about 20 feet above my head, spread its wings and glide to a new perch in the back part of the yard. It moved fast, found its footing, and proceeded to stare back at me.
I looked at the mutilated squirrel, back to the hawk, and then to my dinner.

After removing the “sky kill” from the deck, I pondered on what exactly happened. Was the squirrel the appetizer for me, or for my beef burgundy? Regardless, it is probably the first time I’ve been more worried about what was going on over the top of my head than what was on the grill.

I’m not going to post it here, but to get an idea of “the scene”, check out the shot here.

It just goes to show you, anything can happen by the grill.