Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's on the Grill #317: Mesquite Grilled Porterhouse

I can already hear it. 

“Wait, Mike grilled another steak?"

Yeah. Shocking, I know. 

While I’m all about a grilled steak with a simple rub, I still like to find new ways to add flavor. Sometimes, as in the case here, an entirely new flavor profile can be built with the addition of something as simple as wood. Specifically, mesquite. 
Mesquite is pungent and strong, which is why I rarely use it for BBQ. Years ago, I remember using a small amount of mesquite to smoke pork. It was, how do I say it, slightly overpowering. It was a meal you could smell coming, but for all the wrong reasons.

Mesquite is much better suited for a short and fast cook. For a big cut of meat, like a porterhouse, it turns out to be the perfect addition.

Grilled Porterhouse
The Steak

A ribeye is usually “my thing,” but when looking for two cuts in one, or, in other words, when I’m incredibly hungry, I gravitate to a porterhouse. Cut from the rear of the short loin, the porterhouse is prized, as its large “t" shaped bone separates a strip steak from a filet. It literally is two meals in one.

Keep in mind the only difference between a porterhouse and a T-bone is the filet size. A T-bone filet is smaller as it is cut from the front of the short loin. A T-bone is for when you are hungry, but not porterhouse hungry.

The Rub

I like to keep my steak rubs simple. Real simple. The meat should shine through. My standard, salt, pepper, and “a third” rule applies. In this case, the third was paprika. A dusting of paprika brings just a little bit of heat to the party. It’s always a welcome addition. Timing for the rub, is either hours in advance or right before it hits the grill. With my brilliant planning, I tend to rub the meat right before grilling.

Smoke from the kettle vent

The Fire

The key to a great steak is direct high heat. I like the grill hot, so I double my preheat time to at least thirty minutes. 

The Wood

Mesquite Wood
While a fire built entirely from mesquite would be nice, I use mesquite on charcoal. Just four large chunks works and generates more than enough heat and smoke.

The Cook

Porterhouse on the Grate
Time is critical first. Temperature is second.  I always start with the two-minute rule for steaks. Two minutes on the grill, rotate 90 degrees, and then two more minutes. Flip. Two minutes, rotate 90 degrees and then check the internal temperature. For a medium rare steak, I want 125 F. Depending where the measurement stands, depends on how much more I grill. Normally, for an average 1 1/2 inch steak, a final two minutes is about perfect.

Grilled Porterhouse
Remove from the grill, tent with foil, and allow to rest three to five minutes.

The Result

Mesquite Grilled Porterhouse
I may have hit a new favorite note and for a guy my age, that's quite a feat! The burning mesquite brings about this awesome smokey and sweet layer to the outside of the steak. It permeated every bite. It reminded me of an aggressive marinade, but without the marinade.

Mesquite Grilled Porterhouse
While too much mesquite can be overkill, a little can go a long way. These smoke touched porterhouses prove it. If you want to work a different flavor into your steaks, think about adding some wood. An easy addition, a simple rub, a perfect meal.

Working on dinner

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What's on the Grill #316: Planked Twice Baked Potatoes

I do not eat a ton of potatoes anymore, but on the rare occasion I do, I like to go way overboard. Case in point, this post.

I like mashed potatoes. Let me rephrase that, I like good mashed potatoes. I shutter to think back to my childhood when Mom made mashed potatoes…from a box. Regardless, that’s not really what I’m talking about. If you are reading this, chances are you like real food. When I say “good,” I mean potatoes with their skin on, not overly creamy, and with a healthy addition of garlic and rosemary.

Of course "mashed potatoes” and “grill” don’t exactly go together, but make them twice baked and add in a cedar plank and you have the makings for the ultimate side dish.

Planked Mashed Potatoes

Twice Baked Planked Potatoes
by Another Pint Please 

4 medium russet potatoes, skin left on and cubed.
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup milk
2 T sour cream
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T fresh rosemary, minced
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 green onion, thinly sliced 

1 cedar plank

While I’m including a mashed potato recipe, the truth is, they are mashed potatoes, and everyone makes them a little different. Make them how you like them…just as long as they aren’t from a box.

Soak a cedar plank in water for at least one hour.

Fill a medium sized pot with about an inch of water. Insert a portable steaming basket, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and steam until fork tender, about 12-15 minutes.

Empty the pot and wipe dry. Add the butter and potatoes. Mash while adding in the milk. Add the milk slowly in order to reach the right consistency. Stir in the sour cream, garlic, and rosemary.

Note: The potatoes can be made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until time to grill.

Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat, 350 F. Mound the potatoes on the cedar plank and top with cheese and green onion.

Grill over indirect heat for approximately 20 minutes, or longer if the potatoes have been refrigerated.

Planked Spuds

There are a million variations for making these potatoes, which is part of the fun. Not only is it an easy side dish that tastes great, it’s an awesome bit of presentation moving from grill to table. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Grills need space

For some time, I’ve wanted to add on to our deck. While the deck has already seen one addition since we originally built it, a second addition had been elusive, until now. The reason was simple. The grills need space.

The New Grill Deck

I’ve had lots of ideas through the years, but this one sort of cropped up on a Sunday afternoon. Beer may, or may not, have been involved in the thought process.

The idea was simple, which is good, as my construction planning and follow through is limited to fairly basic shapes, like squares. We were going to drop the deck down another step, and square it up with the first and second “editions.” The new spot would square up great with the setting western sun and more importantly, free up space closer to the pool. The only thing needed next was ten planned trips to Home Depot and ten unplanned trips. It’s how I roll.

Deck building

When the first deck was built 15 years ago, I performed a wee bit of overkill. Instead of designing and building a casual two level deck, we built something strong enough to withstand a hurricane. It has more post holes than I can count with my shoes on.

Since then, I’ve learned…a little. First, I’m all about the one man post hole digger.

Deck building

Years ago, it was a one-man auger. Auger is loosely translated as wrist breaking machine. Deploying an auger next to large elm roots pretty much means wrist casts for a week. It was horrible.

This hydraulically assisted digger, backed up by moist soil and a realistic definition of “sturdy,” meant my six holes were dug in thirty minutes. It was a breeze.

Deck building

With the holes dug, the piers were poured.

Deck building

Next, the beams were bolted together, and the beams were added.

Deck building

While the word “square” is loosely used to describe certain parts of the deck, the outward corner of the new deck is most definitely square.

Deck building

I should know, I checked it at least twenty times before finalizing my cuts.

And framed!

With the beams down, the decking was knocked out in a couple nights.

Well, it's not 100% done, but it's enough for me to have a beer on...and sleep! #grillsneedspace


Deck building...with kneepads

Oh, and yes, those are kneepads I’m wearing. I’m also old.

Deck in Progress

With the decking down, the ends were trimmed off. Zoƫ stained the deck over the course of a day, and once that was dry, grills were moved into place. The biggest challenge was moving the Summit, but thanks to furniture sliders, it took only a matter of minutes, and that included a step. If you have never used these small plastic cups for moving furniture, I highly recommend them. If they can move a grill, they can move anything.


Just today, I extended the natural gas line to the Summit Grill Center’s new resting place.

Cramped quarters! #grillsneedspace

While working under the deck was less than spectacular, the cramped efforts were well worth it.

The New Grill Deck

With another sun sail in place and all the grills up and running, the deck is done. I still need to add some LED lights to highlight the step-down, as I have a pretty good idea of how my friends will not navigate it when it’s dark. Until then, I’m ready for warm nights and multi grill meals. While my outdoor kitchen station is still on the summer radar, I’m happy to have this much done so early in the season. Sure, the square footage of deck is getting equal to the first floor of the house, but as I’ve been documenting on Twitter, the #grillsneedspace. Now they have it.

Grills Need Space