Wednesday, January 28, 2009

What's on the Grill #112

Tunisian-Spiced Leg of Lamb

Tunisian-Spiced Leg of Lamb on the rotisserie! With White Death falling steadily across the Dayton area, what is my first thought upon leaving work? Grilling, what else! Since I am already stocked up on Wonder bread and milk, I had no reason to join my fellow man at the grocery store filling my shopping cart with items I could just as easily buy tomorrow when the world doesn't actually end because of frozen precipitation.

So, I stopped by to pick up some meat from the Aullwood Audubon Center. The center, which is connected to the Aullwoood Farm, keeps a steady supply of organic meat. Now here is where Zoƫ has a wee bit of a problem. You see the same lamb that she has admired in the petting area is probably related to the one I stuck on the grill tonight. That does not sit well with her. Much like when I grill duck, she is making sure there isn't a bow tie and sailor's outfit in the trash. Well she was working tonight and it wasn't like I was grilling the whole lamb...just part of the leg.

Besides the leg, I picked up some lamb chops, sausage, and a wonderful 2 pound ribeye. I can't wait for the ribeye.

Tunisian-Spiced Leg of Lamb

From Essentials of Grilling by William-Sonoma

1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 Teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground gloves
1/3 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/2 bone-in leg of lamb (4-5 lb)
9 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil

Cut the garlic into quarters. Take a sharp knife and make slits in the outside of the lamb. Insert the quartered garlic cloves into the slits. Mix together the rub ingredients and then spread evenly over the lamb. Allow the leg of lamb to sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.

Prepare your rotisserie setup. Tonight, because of the snow, I used gas. Preheat the grill to indirect medium. Be sure to place a drip pan below the lamb. I used snow instead of water!

Snow = Water

Attach the leg of lamb to the spit and place on the grill. If you have an IR rotisserie burner, run it for the first 20 minutes to brown the skin. If not, just spin the leg with a grill temp around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Digging in

My leg was only 2.5 pounds and as such needed only an hour. Even though I cooked it a little too long (by probably 20 minutes...duh!), it came out fine, just not as rare as I would have preferred. Spin the leg until the internal temp reads 130 degrees. Remove the leg from the grill and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. The meat should rise an additional 5-10 degrees.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's on the Grill #111

A bite of bison

Bison Sirlon! Or as what my friend Mike described, "The Wooly Sovereign of the majestic plains... on a fork." This is not my first journey into Wooly Sovereign territory, although it is my first time grilling a Bison steak. I have had a lot of fun with ground bison in burgers and chili and more recently, I had a Bison steak at the Ruth's Chris in Houston when I was visiting Matt.

These two small 6 ounce sirloins (note small for me most likely means proper portion size...) were wrapped in a cryopac, so I really was not sure as to the quality. The problem with buying sort of "sight unseen" is that the sirloins were two drastically different sizes, which screwed me in the end as the small one was overcooked. The two sirloins were also very lean and almost devoid of any marbling. A fast and short cook was in order, although as I already indicated, one was not fast enough!

According to the National Bison Association:

Research by Dr. M. Marchello at North Dakota State University has shown that the meat from Bison is a highly nutrient dense food because of the proportion of protein, fat, mineral, and fatty acids to its caloric value. Comparisons to other meat sources have also shown that Bison has a greater concentration of iron as well as some of the essential fatty acids necessary for human well being. Readers' Digest magazine has even listed bison as one of the five foods women should eat because of the high iron content.

A healthy steak! Although you cannot deny the health(ier) benefits of bison, I don't think it calls for a nightly routine of Bison ribeyes.

I was fairly happy with my steaks and yes, I ate both of them. Even with out the red wine vinegar sauce, the steaks had a nice flavor. The NBA (the bison folk, not the basketball ones) have a long list of bison online retailers. Although with consumer demand having risen 17% in 2007, the odds of finding bison at a local grocery store is that much more of a possibility. The NBA (moo not swish) state that bison will always be a niche meat and will never replace cattle. Only 5% of Bison were processed by the FDA in 2007. Not too bad for an animal that was almost driven to extinction 130 years ago.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Happy Birthday to The Drew

Drew's birthday cake! It was made by his wife Nikki and she did
actually use Guinness.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


After countless wasted hours, my PC is finally working again.  I will spare everyone the long drawn out story.  What I will say is thank goodness for Windows Home Server.  Once I had the hard drive, I had the disk re-imaged and running in about 3 hours.  Phewww....

During my downtime, I was planning on a bunch of posts documenting some grilling/cooking adventures over the past week, but honestly I have forgotten too many details to make it worth while.  Instead, I will hit the highlights!

Pan Grilled Fillet

With the temperature below zero last week, I still managed to fire up the grill...but cheated on one night and pan fried some fillets instead.  As I have yammered on about before, I will only have fillet if there is something to go with it.  Since we were cooking inside, it was very easy to whip up a red wine reduction along with some sauteed shallots.  The extra bonus was the sweet potato soufflé so made.  That stuff is addicting. 


The rest of the weeks I felt uninspired and a little like a one trick pony.  The highlights worth talking about were grilled chicken wings and a Mexican pizza with refried beans, chorizo, onion, and fresh mozzarella.  One note on the pizza.  Check out this post on Dave's blog, weber_cam.  Thanks to Dave, I made pizza dough that turned out perfectly round.  He has a great video on rounding dough that I found to be tremendously helpful. 


Friday, January 16, 2009

Off Track

Although I would prefer a flame on the grill, I am more than happy with the fact that our furnace is working again. Especially seeing that the day started out at 13 below zero (Fahrenheit) and it has now climbed to a tropical 6. Now where are my shorts?

The last couple of days have been more than frustrating. It all started when my new Dell took a dive on Thursday. Long story short: after wasting a night trying to restore the hard drive image, I realized the drive was bad. Since it is still under warranty, I contacted Dell.

13 phone calls to India later, it is still down. I would love to be a fly on the wall of the "After Hours Dell Call Center" Bar in Mumbai to hear all of the "dumb Americans and their computers" stories. In fact, just for that reason I was extra nice. Admittedly, by call 10 that started to slip. Apparently the inter office transfer of phone calls doesn't work too well in India because I kept getting disconnected. Frustrating.

It was also fun being transferred to the Canadian call center desk in India. I should have guessed something was up when the phone prompts turned French. "You are not in Canada", they asked. "", I responded.

Now the reason I had so many calls is that I bought a computer through the Dell outlet. It was made for someone else, but never shipped. I got a great deal and I have been really happy with it...until now. Apparently the person that ordered this computer (a Canadian I learned) had some financial problems. Not only did he not get his computer, Dell blacklisted the service tag number. Every time I called Dell they told me the computer was back at Dell when it obviously wasn't. 4 people told me they wanted to send me a hard drive, but couldn't. Then the people that were supposed to fix the issue closed up shop. You can't miss happy hour at the After Hours Dell Call Center bar can you? I have been told that it will take 1 to 2 days to re-associate the service tag number with my computer. Great.

On the plus side, I noticed the spring seasonal beers have hit the store shelves. However, although it might say spring on the label, the weather outside says otherwise. Roll on spring and roll on Dell in getting my stuff straightened out and please furnace, stay lit tonight.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What's on the Grill #110

After reading a little too much Bacon Today, I knew I was in trouble at the store on Sunday when I picked up a 16 ounce boneless ribeye and a slab of bacon.  For a quick little bit of fun, I decided to grill a bacon wrapped ribeye. 

Ribeye wrapped in bacon

Now I have grilled bacon wrapped steaks before.  Although in those cases it was a proper wrap job, not The Mummy meets Porky spectacle I prepared here.

I took the ribeye and wrapped it with the salty goodness and then seasoned it with some cracked pepper.  I skipped the salt for obvious reasons.  Now I pretty much knew I was headed for trouble by just looking at the meat.  I always grill my steaks over high heat.  In this situation, I knew that I would be lucky to have any bacon left at the end of the cook and I was basically right.

The bacon burned and melted its way into the steak in what seemed like a matter of seconds.  I "attempted" my grill mark turn, but it was kind of fruitless with flame, bacon, and grease flying everywhere.  By the time the steak was flipped at the four minute mark, most of the bacon had burned away and what was left, I set on top of the meat.

The Aftermath!

After about ten minutes of grilling, I removed the meat from the grill and allowed it to rest.  Although the final product wasn't as "pretty" as I would have liked, my overboard bacon ribeye turned out pretty good.  Next time I will stick to more traditional bacon entries like the Turbaconducken.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's on the Grill #109

Spatchcocked Pesto Chicken

Pesto Spatchcocked Chicken!  Hey, your chicken is in my pesto!  No, your pesto is in my chicken!  Well they are two great tastes that go well together...and essentially, that is how this all came together.  We had a chicken and I had a taste for pesto and the next thing you know I am cutting up a fryer like it's an extra in Silence of the Lambs.


Irony.  What's that?  A chicken with its backbone actually removed!  Thank you...I'll be here all night.  All Pesto...joking aside, that is essentially what spatchcocking is.  Remove the backbone of the chicken with some poultry shears and then apply some downward pressure to crack the sternum and you have a spatchcocked chicken.  I like to go the extra step by running two skewers through the bird.  It makes it a little bit easier to handle on the grill.

For the pesto, I used 4 cups of fresh basil leaves, 1/2 cup of olive oil, 1/3 cup of pine nuts, and 4 cloves of garlic.  I added it all to a food processor and mixed it.  I then added 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

With the chicken looking less than dignified, I rubbed almost all of the pesto over both sides.  I saved about 1/2 cup to serve later with the finished chicken.

The advantage of spatchcocking is that you can cook a whole chicken (or turkey, or game hen, or your neighbor) in a much shorter amount of time.  I preheated the grill to medium high and cooked each side for approximately 15 minutes.  Once done, the chicken was served with some of the reserved pesto.  Simple and good.

Ready for the Grill

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What's on the Grill #108

Deep Dish Cast Iron Pizza

Deep Dish Cast Iron Pizza! I first tagged this idea a week ago from a picture on Tastespotting. The idea and recipe come from Jennifer at Last Night's Dinner via Amy at Minimally Invasive.

Jennifer gives not only a nice dough recipe, but an incredibly tasty (and spicy) pizza sauce. Preparation was typical straight forward pizza making. An hour plus for dough making and proofing mixed in with some time for sauce making and grill prep. I stayed fairly true to the recipe. I added some onion, while skimped by using shredded mozzarella.

Extra Side Burners

I was cooking everything outside, so I ended up using the grill for additional burner space. I prepared the sauce on the side burner and used cast iron on the grates for browning the pork sausage and sauteing some onions. It is always hard cooking anything on the side burner that requires any kind of heat control as there are two settings: "High" and "You Called That High?!". There really is no simmer.

Deep Dish Cast Iron Pizza...before

Tonight was supposed to be a dry run, sans documentation. However, I was so happy with the results I decided to post them anyway. For all of the pizzas we have made, I can't believe I never thought about this. I believe this one will go into heavy rotation. I can't recommend it enough.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Brew Day

Well brew day was a huge, huge success. Mostly because of my new cart and the elimination of my counterflow wort chiller. Mounting the water filter and buying some new dedicated hoses also added to the smoothness of the operation.

Draining the wort

I am certain that this is my last extract brew. Certain.

I opted to go with a whole boil versus the reduced extract boil I am curious as to how hoppy the beer will come out because I did not adjust the hops. On the downside, I came up a little shy of 5 gallons. I already added an additional gallon at the beginning, but in hind sight I should have added even more than that.


I secured the Bazooka-T with a clamp, so that managed to stay in place the entire time. Also, my new joints held well and when I drained the kettle it perfectly maintained a siphon until the very end.

The Bazooka T

The wort chiller was great. I dropped it in the last fifteen minutes of the boil and it reduced the wort to 80 degrees in about 20 minutes. It could have gone faster, but I had the coils spread to far apart; an easy fix for next time.

Nate stopped by for the boil and shared a bottle of The Drew's '07 holiday brew. It was a mild English ale with a hint of orange and clove. Really good stuff.

Homebrew and homebrew

Well I am stoked at how well my setup worked. I have a brew in the secondary and today's in the primary. I need to make room because I am brewing again...soon.

What's on the Grill #107

Thai Salmon Cakes

Thai Salmon Cakes!  OK, first off a disclaimer.  This was supposed to be titled Grilled Thai Salmon Cakes.  Unfortunately, as I will soon address, "grill" turned out to be "side burner with cast iron" rather than "grates with burners".  Nonetheless, these little morsels have proven to be the best use for left over salmon.  In fact any time we have salmon, I always over buy so that I can make these the next day.  They are fast and simple.

The recipe comes from Nancie McDermott's Quick & Easy Thai.  Ever since Zoë's trip to Thailand two years ago, I have dipped into this book and have yet to be let down.   The curry paste adds a nice punch to the cakes and is not too spicy to overwhelm sensitive palates.  Although I didn't serve them with a sauce, they would go nice with some sour cream and freshly chopped dill.

Easy Salmon Cakes

From Quick & Easy Thai p. 85 by Nancie McDermott

1 1/2 cups cooked flaked salmon
1/2 cup mashed potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, basil, mint, or dill
1 egg
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the flaked salmon in a bowl.  Add the mashed potatoes, onion, and cilantro.  In another bowl, mix together the egg, curry paste, fish sauce, salt, and pepper until fairly smooth.  Add to the salmon mixture and with either your hands, or a large spoon, mix well.  When using my hands, I typically shout things like, "Me Ogg like to mix things.  Arghhh..."  However, I digress.  Shape into six to eight 3-inch patties and set aside.

Mixing the mixture

If you are going to grill these, it helps to set these aside in the refrigerator for a few hours.  If not, they will most likely come apart on the grill.  I was rushed for time and when I thought I could swing it...I failed miserably.  Salmon Cakes turned into Salmon Hash.  Tasty, but not too pretty.  Fortunately my little Hindenberg was only half of the batch.

Going In

To ensure a good result, use a skillet.  IMO, preferably cast iron.  Heat the oil in a skillet and over medium high heat until a bit of the salmon mixture begins to sizzle at once.  Add the salmon patties and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about three minutes on each side.  Serve.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Brew Cart

Ever since I eyed The Drew's brew cart several weeks ago, I knew I had to make one.  Well want no more:

Operation Brew

After eyeing the pictures I took of Drew's cart, I used Google Sketch-Up to render the final design (not because I needed to of course...just because it was cool to have a print out of the thing!) .  Ideally, this cart is the push to get me to go all-grain.  I used the cart as an excuse to ditch my counterflow wort chiller too.  With the gravity set-up, I have no way of getting enough height to work the wort through the chiller.  Instead, I built an immersion chiller out of 3/8 inch copper.  I was going to scrap the counterflow for the copper, but in in the end decided to keep it.  The immersion chiller should make things a little easier...especially sanitation.

New Chiller

The cart also makes for great storage.  Like Drew, I attached some caster wheels to the bottom so movement is a breeze.  I also hung my water filter on the side and spent some time this morning fitting some hose pieces and a hose rack so I could manage the hose run into the garage for kettle filling and running the chiller.

When I rolled the cart into the driveway yesterday, Zoë was shocked at the size and thought I had made a Trojan horse.  A Trojan horse?  Oh no.  If that was the case, I would have made a Trojan rabbit.  Run away...

Tomorrow is brew day.