Monday, March 30, 2009

What’s on the Grill #124

Grilled trout with prosciutto wrapped asparagus, grilled baked potato and a “Rumnana” for dessert!  For some reason, as my grilling exploits typically and randomly start, I felt like something different tonight.  I have been meaning to try my hand at grilling a whole fish, but have put it off for some time.  Until now.

I'm lookn' at You!

My dinner’s journey started with a trip to the Dayton Fish Company.  It’s a great place on N. Main St.  My goal was to find something wild and fresh.  I could tell a joke here…but I wont!  I ended up with a whole rainbow trout for tonight, and a mahi mahi filet for tomorrow.

I opted to leave the head on the trout and this was only because Zoe was working tonight and I was grilling solo.  Zoe doesn’t like her food looking at her.  I took the trout and sliced four slits on each side of the body.  Inside the slits I stuffed sliced lemon and then put additional lemon slices, along with some oregano, in the cavity.  I covered both sides of the trout with salt and pepper and with the kettle set for indirect medium, placed the fish in the middle of the grate.

Wrapped Soldiers

At the same time I placed the fish, I also placed some small potatoes on the grill and ear of corn.  I cooked these indirect as well.

Butter?

Since I planned on basting the trout every fifteen minutes with butter, I figured what better way to keep the butter ready, then by placing it in a ramekin on the grill.  The butter was melted, hot, and ready.  It worked well.

One Kettle, One Meal

After about 30 minutes, I added some asparagus wrapped with prosciutto.  They were grilled directly over the goals.  Fifteen minutes later, everything was done.

Grilled Rainbow Trout

It was a little tricky removing the flesh, but I managed fairly well without leaving too many bones in the flesh.  I would say that by far, this is some of the moistest fish I have had.  The lemon and oregano added just the right amount of flavor.  Simple, cheap, and delicious.

Rumnana

For dessert, I grilled what I call a “Rumnana”.  It is a variation of the banana boat I have grilled before.  I took the banana and sliced it open down the middle, while being careful not to cut all the way through the bottom layer of skin.  With the banana boat cut out, I added about a half an ounce of rum to the boat and then filled the rest with hot fudge.  The “Rumnana” was grilled indirect for about ten minutes.  Once done, I ate it with a pile of vanilla ice cream on top.  It is sort of an inside out banana split…with a little hint of rum.  Nothing like taking a fruit from nature and making it toxic.  Yum!

Monday, March 23, 2009

What’s on the Grill #123

Jerk Rubbed Beer Butt Chicken and Jerk Rubbed Son of Beer Butt Chicken!  With Bean in town we figured we would add a little more poultry to the grill.  Thus the addition of a Cornish game hen to go along with the usual chicken.  Using a jerk rub from The Flay, each bird was rinsed, dried and seasoned.  I went to the secret stash of canned beer for the “beer can” part of the recipe.  I say secret because it’s Budweiser and I don’t want anyone to think I actually drink it.  It is hidden really, really well.

Son of Beer Butt Chicken

For the hen, I used a small juice can.  The juice was drained out and replaced with beer.

I popped some additional holes into the top of both cans and added about a tablespoon of rub to each.  With the cans readied, I lowered both birds onto their final perch.

Mounds of Spud

I also used this night to fire up the 26er again.  With the extra space I had more than enough room to place the chicken and the hen on the grate.  Of course I still ended up using the 650 for some spuds.

Hen + Small Can =  Good Grillin'

The kettle was prepped for indirect grilling.  I opted to use the charcoal baskets and setup a drip pan in the middle.  With the grill temperature reading around 350, I set the chicken on first for about 20 minutes.  After which, I added the hen and continued to cook them both together for an hour.

The Land of Weber

Over the weekend I had the great pleasure of getting a tour of the Weber campus in Palatine, IL.  I equated it to traveling to Mecca.  It seems that I have become quite the Weber fanboy…rest assured for good reason though!  My friend, Kevin, who set up the tour gave Bean and I an overview of the operation.  It was truly amazing.  As a privately owned company, it is a perfect example of the American entrepreneurial experience. 

Weber...

I am certain that I will not forget the trip and hospitality, and most certainly the fact that I walked close to where my grills were “born”.  Very cool. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What’s on the Grill #122

Red Pepper Bites!  Tonight’s recipe is courtesy of Flickr friend Bluefrogj.  While cruising Bluefrogj’s stream, I came across these delicious morsels and knew I just had to try them.  Pretty much anything that involves meat and peppers, I am a sucker for.  Fortunately, this recipe had both in spades and add that to the fact that I needed some kind of dish to take to work tomorrow, this recipe had me covered.

Sliced Red Peppers

Bluefrogj had these things originally prepared for the oven, so all I did was grill them indirect on the grill.  They are simple, wonderful, and almost an entire meal by themselves.

In a bowl, I combined 1 pound of ground meat and 1 pound of pork sausage.  Add in a 1/2 cup of Italian bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Combine with your hands.

Give me heat!

I took four red bell peppers and cut them into roughly 1 inch by 1 inch squares.  Then, take a spoonful of meat and place on top of the pepper squares.  Once the pepper squares are topped with the meat mixture, top the meat mixture with cheddar cheese.  Bluefrogi used shredded cheddar, but I used small squares…mostly because I was lazy.

Red Pepper Bites

I grilled the bites on indirect medium (about 350-400 degrees) for approximately 20 minutes.

Thanks again for posting this great idea, and if you get the chance, check out Blue’s most excellent Bento stream.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Night at Rue Dumaine

Last week, I had the great pleasure of having dinner at Rue Dumaine with fellow grill/food blogger Curt of Bucky’s Barbeque and Bread. Curt planned the night as both a meet-up for local Dayton/Cincinnati food bloggers and as an event to spread the word about the treasure that is Rue Dumaine. Although the number of dinner guests dwindled to just the two of us, we had a wonderful experience and a great meal. In fact, we talked so much we ended being the only guests left in the restaurant. Fortunately as well, our cameras didn’t scare anyone away. Yes, Curt shares the same affliction I do: food photography!

Pork Terrine

I think the lack of great restaurants in the Dayton area is the precise reason Zoë and I enjoy eating at home so much. A chain restaurant may fill the spot in a busy schedule, but it is hardly a meal to remember. It simply checks a box. Rue Dumaine is an exception.

Located between a furniture store and an ice cream shop, Rue Dumaine’s somewhat nondescript strip mall exterior hides the well oiled workings of a French bistro. Rue Dumaine is owned and operated by Chef Anne Kearney and her husband Tom. A native of Dayton, Chief Anne graduated from the Cincinnati Culinary Arts Academy and later took up residence in New Orleans where, after working for several different restaurants, eventually became proprietor of her own, Peristyle. According to Chef Anne’s Wikipedia entry, Rue Dumaine is the street that Peristyle was located on.

Chef Anne was named the American Express Best Chef of the Southeast in 2002 and was pictured on the 1998 cover of Food & Wine magazine as one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America”. Another interesting fact, Chef Anne worked for Emeril Lagasse for 3 years where she worked on the line, developed cookbook recipes, and researched and wrote Emeril’s TV scripts. We are now lucky to have Chef Anne in Dayton.

This was my second trip to Rue Dumaine. My first was a Valentine’s surprise from Zoë. Curt has been numerous times and held this event because he appreciates how important good local independent restaurants are.

Duck Rillette Crepes

James, our sever, was great and Curt’s experience with the menu helped guide some of the selections as we shared and worked our way through the starters and mains. Even a week later, I can still remember the taste of just about everything we had. I especially loved the duck rillette crepes. Of course anything with duck I am a sucker for.

Scallop Sausage

Chef Anne prepared for us a pork terrine and the charcuterie of the evening, scallop sausage. Nestled on top of some greens and beets, I could have had several more.

A little wine?

As readers of my blog know, I am a beer guy. That is not to say I do not like wine. On the contrary, I quite enjoy it. I can pair a red wine to red meat and white to fish or chicken, but past that I am lost. Mike, our sommelier, chose for us a 2006 Shiraz from Schild Estate. It worked for me…although sorry, that is about as descriptive as I get when it comes to wine.

For our mains, we each shared an order of Cabernet braised beef short ribs with remoulade slaw and grilled pork tender, cornmeal cakes, haricot vert (French green beans) and a classic demi-glace sauce of walnuts, capers, sultanas, and cornichons (cornichons=French for gherkin, as in pickles!).

Braised Beef Short Ribs

The ribs were deliciously tender and was nicely complimented by the bold taste of the cabernet, a taste I do savor.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin on cornmeal cakes

The pork tenderloins were also very good. The one thing about the pork that interested me the most was the presentation. Piled vertically on the cornmeal, I kept wanting to look at it and not eat it. That doesn’t happen very often.

Cheese List

For dessert, we shared a cheese plate. I never, ever, ever pass up cheese.

Cheese Plate

Chef Anne came by to speak with us. She was approachable, interesting, and fun. We touched on the topic of fine dining in Dayton. Rue Dumaine is in my opinion, better and less expensive, that a number of her peers. Mains range in price from $20 - $24.

My only “complaint”: more high ABV craft beers! Rue Dumaine does have a varied, yet small beer list with some great beers (Rogue, Anchor, Abita). I think it would be great if they added some additional larger beers that could be enjoyed over the course of dinner.

The Kitchen at Rue Dumaine

I believe Rue Dumaine is a great treasure to have her in the Dayton area. To find someone like Chef Anne with such a rich culinary history that cares so deeply about her craft and the food she produces, she is a local resource not to squander. If you get a chance, stop in. You will not be disappointed.

My thanks again to Curt for his organization and conversation and many, many thanks to Chef Anne and the great staff of the Rue Dumaine. I can not wait to return.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

What’s on the Grill #121

Grilled Orange-Rosemary Duck Breasts! I love duck…love it, love it, love it. So, when a hunter/co-worker of mine offered me a few breasts from one of his last hunting trips, I jumped at the offer. I have never prepared duck breasts before. My experience with duck typically involves removing the sailor hat, bow tie, and trousers and placing him on the rotisserie. I was anxious to try something different.

Grilled Orange-Rosemary Duck Breast

The breasts arrived skinless, so I was unable to play around with all of that wonderful skin. To make up for this, I marinated the breasts in a combination of orange juice, thyme, olive oil, pepper and salt. The basis for the recipe came from a hunting magazine…and although the breasts turned out great, the recipe called for too much salt. I have adjusted it below.

Grilled Orange-Rosemary Duck Breasts

Adapted from Ducks Unlimited

4 large duck breasts
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 tablespoon ground pepper

Mix together all of the ingredients. Place the breasts in a gallon size plastic bag and pour in about 3/4 of the marinade. Seal the bag, place it in the fridge and allow the duck to marinade or 2-4 hours. Turn the bag every time you go into the fridge for a beer.

Heat your grill to medium high. Remove the duck breasts from the marinade and place on the grill skin side down (if you have any skin that is!). Grill for about 6 minutes and then flip. Grill for another 6 – 7 minutes more for medium rare (About 135 degrees). Baste with the remaining marinade just before removing from the grill.

I enjoyed this fine dinner with a great bottle of Brooklyn Beer’s Black Chocolate Stout. Great stuff!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What’s on the Grill #120

What do you make with left over pulled pork?  Pulled Pork Pizza, what else!  This is one of my favorite “left over” meals to make.  Also, it was a great chance to try out using a stone on the 26 inch Weber.

Prepping the 26 for Pizza

I have been happy with the stone results on the 650, but for some reason I think I will enjoy using the stone on the kettle.

First off, the stone fits great.  Second, it just seems more natural to make pizza over fire (read: coals) then it does over gas burners.

I use my normal dough recipe.  For the sauce, I always use homemade BBQ sauce.  Tonight, I was lucky enough to have some of my friend Mike’s Coca-Cola BBQ sauce left which he had recently sent me.  I just had enough.  From there, I added the pulled pork and then handfuls of shredded mozzarella.  Simplicity at its best.

I employed the use of a pizza screen, because I find it makes my life that much easier.  Once the pizza is loaded, I transferred it to the stone with my peel. 

I prepped the grill for indirect heating.  I used one full chimney of lit coals and then supplemented that with about a half of chimney of unlit coals.  After everything was lit and the stone was in place, the hood temp measured about 450 degrees.  I was hoping for more, but that worked great for tonight.  I’m still learning about this bad boy.

The pizza cooked for about 15 minutes.  I rotated it once about halfway through since I only had heat coming from the two opposite ends of the kettle.

Pulled Pork Pizza

The results?  Great!  I think I have found my new grill for making pizzas.  Although after countless pizzas, I am beginning to see cracks in my 5 dollar Lowe’s stone.  Time to get another one…and soon! 

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Unboxing: Weber’s “new” 26 3/4 inch One Touch Gold – Part 3

The big cook!  This all turned out somewhat backwards.  Originally I was going to just grill a ribeye.  It was my new grill tradition.  When that didn’t work, I decided to cook a Boston Butt.  In theory a good idea.  However, with a new grill design I was unfamiliar with and wind chill in the teens, I picked a less than ideal day and menu.

Maiden Light

I should have taken better note of the fact that when the water soaking your wood chips freezes, it means it is cold outside.  Secondly, although my alma mater is known as an engineer school (Go Boilers!) I am most certainly not an engineer, a chemist, a physicist, or even a guy who wears a white jacket on TV pretending to be an engineer, chemist, or physicist.  My point is, I know the grill is bigger, but I have yet to figure out the right mix of fuel and time to maintain my usual spot on low and slow grilling. 

Rubbed Shoulder

I used the minion method and I started off by adding too many unlit coals.  On the 22 I use about 3/4 of a chimney.  I doubled that on the 26, which was a mistake.  The temperature started out too high and even with all of the vents closed, I couldn’t bring it down.  After about 2 hours in (and the removal of some coals) I pegged in around 220. 

The new hood thermometer is nice.  Unfortunately, I had a homebrew wort accident with my temperature probe, so the hood temp was all I had.

With the temp sliding around the 5-6 hour mark, I attempted to add some unlit coals hoping to stay in the ballpark.  When those didn’t take in time, I added some lit coals around 7 hours.  By the time things wrapped up around the 10 hour mark the temp was too high again, but the meat was right at the finish mark of 190.

It did not help that I had divided attention all day between not dying in the cold, home improvements, and the grill.  The pulled pork was good, but not great. 

Butt, Boston Butt

Closing thoughts:  I like this grill.  Although, doing one Boston Butt is a little excessive for a grill this size.  Fortunately, by still having the 22s in the arsenal I can diversify depending on what I want to make.  Also, for some reason I think I will use the 26 for a lot more direct grilling.  As I eluded to before, the large surface area will mean a larger area to spread out the temperature zones.  I can pack more on one grill.  Especially when balancing steaks, vegetables, potatoes, etc.

One more thing, I wish Weber would have included was a hook to hang the grate from.  I hate not having a place to put the grate when I am prepping the charcoal.   

So far so good.  I have a lot more to experiment with, but so far I like what I see…and what I am hopefully going to eat!

Pork, Bark & Sauce

Thanks again to my wife for this much cherished gift!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Unboxing: Weber’s “new” 26 3/4 inch One Touch Gold – Part 2

Now that she was assembled, I was curious as to how she compared to the 22. My first impression was, “whoa”. She just looks big.

Side by Side

As the photo shows, the 26 rightfully sits up a lot higher than the 22. I like the higher grill height, as it brings it closer to the level of the 650. “Less bending over” is always a good thing in my book.

Over my shoulder

The design features are exactly the same as any other Weber kettle. Thankfully Weber included the rubber handle on the top vent too. The green OTG next to it does not have one, while the Performer in the back does. I cannot tell you how many times I have burned my hand on the green kettle’s vent because I was used to the Performer. I need to order one from Weber.

Cooking surface:

26 3/4 vs 22 1/2

So it really is bigger! Although in this picture it doesn’t, at least to me, look like as much of a difference as you would think. The 26 boasts 508 square inches of grilling space. The 22 has 363. For further comparison, the 650 has 624 square inches (which does not include the warming rack). I don’t think this picture gives credence to the amount of grilling space you get with this thing.

The distance between the main grate to the charcoal grate is 5 inches, which is the same as the 22. However, the distance between the bottom of the charcoal grate and the kettle is 6 inches on the 26 and 4 inches on the 22.

Standardization:

Standardized Parts

The kettle “accessories” are the same as the rest of the kettles. The ash catchers, the wheels, the handles, and even the charcoal baskets.

Now that we know what it looks like, how is it going to take the food? I had a small stockpile of shoulders (Boston Butts) and ribs in the freezer, so I decided to use them as props to get an idea on spacing. On the 22, I have been using my modified grate because I was tired of the charcoal baskets. I don’t plan on buying a new grate to cut up for the 26, so it is back to the baskets. Here are 2 shoulders. You could probably fit a third, but it would be tight.

2 Shoulders

2 racks of ribs easily fit flat across the grate.

2 Racks

When you add in a rib rack, you can easily fit 4 racks and a shoulder.

2 Racks and 1 Shoulder

And “oh yeah”, I can fit my 16 inch pizza stone!

16 inch Pizza Stone

Well I am pretty excited. It is a big grill. I am curious to see what kind of modifications I need to make to my fuel and cooking times for indirect cooking. I “hope” to throw a shoulder on today. The fact that it is freezing outside isn’t going to make this learning curve any easier.

I have a feeling I will use the grill quite a bit for direct cooking too. With the extra space, I can really spread out my zones. Plus, I have full access to the perimeter. If I decided to host a steak party for some friends, we can all crowd around with beers in our hand cook our own meat. Very cool.

Stay tuned for Part 3, the maiden cook.