Monday, June 29, 2009

What’s on the Grill #140

Bean’s Burkey Burgers!  With Bean here for the summer, it only took a few days for his Weber Smokey Joe (And strangely enough not shown in any of these pictures!) to get a workout.  Ironically, Bean used it to grill up a new batch of his Burkey Burgers.

Bean working the kettle

Bean first developed his Burkey Burger recipe last summer.  In all honesty, I think the basis of the recipe came from cleaning out the freezer.  At the time I remember the burgers being good.  However, I figured my current assessment of the past had softened with the presence of time.  “Sure they were good, a 9 year old made them…they have to be good!” 

Well now the boy is nearly 11 and let me tell you, they weren’t just good, they were great!  For two lean types of meat, bison & turkey, you would think the patties would grill up like hockey pucks.  Amazingly, they don’t. 

Burkey Burgers

In order to commemorate Bean’s recipe, we decided to film it.  The video was the first time we have made these since last year.  Again, I was admittedly unsure as I watched him smash the patties…palm prints and all.  There was no dress rehearsal, in fact there was almost no “dress” if I didn’t remind Bean that Bobby Flay doesn’t grill shirtless.

Bean & his Burkey Burgers

Whatever doubts I had immediately evaporated as I took my first bite.  They were great.  A unique blend of meat and spice make this a wonderful “quasi healthy” grilled meal.  I think Bean is on to something.  Oh, and watch out Bobby Flay.  I think someone wants to join you at the grill, but only if he can bring his sun glasses.

Bean’s Burkey Burgers

1 lb ground bison
1lb ground turkey
1 cup diced onion
1 Tbls dried oregano
1 Tbls Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Kosher Salt

With your (clean) hands, mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.

Make patties from the mixture of ground beef.  Bean took about a half cup of meat and smashed it between his diminutive hands.  I must admit, he makes better patties that I do!

Grill the patties over direct medium high heat.  Grill about 7 minutes a side, or until the internal temperature reads 165° F.  If desired, add cheese.  These are burgers, I really can’t spell it out any easier.

Just before the flame up...

I almost forgot dessert.  We had smores.  Thanks to Zoe, we added everything from Cadbury’s chocolate to York Peppermint Patties to Peanut Butter.  Like potato chips, you can’t have just one.

Mmmh, Mmmh, Smore

Sunday, June 28, 2009

What’s on the Grill #139

Ribs, Scallops, & Beans…oh my!  Another Saturday comes along, and I am lucky to have my good friend Brian and family spend the afternoon with us.  When Brian is around, there are few things you can count on: plenty of beer, plenty of food, and never a dull minute.  Good times indeed.

Smoke Rising on the 26

Early in the afternoon, I prepped 3 racks of ribs for the 26 inch kettle.  I have been on the curve on my way towards mastering the heat control for long indirect cooks on this beast.   I finally made some progress.  I filled up both indirect baskets to the top with unlit coals and then added only 5 lit coals to each side.  The bottom vent was closed almost all of the way, and the top vent was left open until the temperature gauge climbed above 200.  Success.

Racks on Edge

I placed a drip pan in the bottom of the kettle, which was filled with an unnamed beer I keep in the hot garage (if that gives you any indication as to what I think of said beer).  After prepping the ribs by removing the rib membrane and covering them with rub, I placed them on a rib rack.  Apple was my smoking wood of choice for the day.

Brian doing his thing

The coals worked out great, as I was able to (finally)  maintain 250 for the 4 plus hours the ribs cooked.  That’s Brian above tending to the Summit. 

Baked Beans...and Beans...and Beans

A great addition to the meal, was an incredible baked bean dish Josh of Meatwave posted about last summer.  With five different types of beans and a boat load of honey and brown sugar, these things were incredible.  I believe they have risen to a “must have” location on our summer menu.

The Return of the Scallops

Brian grilled his famous parmesan breaded scallops. Instead of grilling them on a sheet, he put them straight down on the grates.  As before, these things were fabulous.  I could not get enough. 

Sliced Up

With a little Stone Double Bastard to start the afternoon off and a ton of food to wrap things up, we were all on our way to a food coma.  My idea of a great Saturday.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What’s on the Grill #138

Brined & Hickory Smoked Rotisserie Chicken!  I have an on again off again relationship with brines (As well as many other things that are too numerous to list).  It has been some time since I have used one (I’m back to talking about brines here mind you).  Anyway, while reading through Charcuterie, I stumbled across a brine recipe for chicken.  I was attracted to the strong use of aromatics, so I decided to give it a try.

Brine before simmer

The brine was prepped a day early.  Besides the usual mix of salt, sugar, and water, I added onions, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, and lemons.  After leaving the brine in the fridge overnight, I added the chicken the next morning.  The chicken soaked for about 8 hours in the brine and then sat uncovered in the fridge to dry out the skin.  I departed from Charcuterie by smoking the chicken with hickory chips and spinning it on the rotisserie. 

Brined & Smoked Rotisserie Chicken

The result was by far one of the better rotisserie chickens I have had in awhile.  Truthfully, I have gotten a little tired of them.  I think this time the combination of brine, spinning, and smoke made for a rather interesting and tasty bird.  Perhaps my interest with this spinning chick has been hooked a little longer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What’s on the Grill #137

Homemade Smoked Bacon!  After watching the curing exploits of Andrew at Slim Pickins’ Pork, Dave at Weber_Cam, and Mike at Menu in Progress, I finally picked up a copy of Charcuterie to try my own hand.  Charcuterie, written by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polycn, is about the preparation and preservation of meat, specifically pork.  From pancetta to sausage, Charcuterie lays out an amazing road map of complete hog utilization.  Frankly, I have found it all spellbinding and motivating.  It truly is an amazing read, and a wonderful cookbook.

Prepping the pork belly

After making the “Da Bomb" breakfast sausage last week, I turned my attention towards bacon.  I picked up 10 pounds of pork belly at a local butcher and brought it home to cure.  Although it worked fairly well, I think next time I will place the belly into plastic bags, versus the plastic tub I used.  It will make overhauling (the redistribution of cure) easier.

The first five pounds I hot smoked on the gas grill.  The second five pounds I hot smoked on the kettle with hickory chips.  It should come as no surprise that the kettle smoked bacon tasted the best.  In fact, I finished the smoked bacon during brew day so every one got a bite right off the grill.

Smoked Bacon

The bacon I have fried so far transcends a description based on the written word.  It is simply lovely.  I have since stocked the remaining half of the bacon in the freezer to pull out later.

Next up, sausage (& buying the stuffer!  I already have the casings!).  However, if you can’t wait, check out Andrew, Dave, & Mike and their amazing charcuterie galleries.  I have a lot of catching up and a lot to learn.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brewing Again

Lot's of standing around...

Saturday was another special occasion brew day.  I say “special”, because anytime we happen to get together for the occasion of brewing beer, it is special.  This time I was lucky enough to have both Eric and The Drew brew with me.  Dave, who is going to “commission” Drew for brewing next month, Brian, and Nate helped round out the day.

Dropping the extractCollecting the run-off

Eric brewed a saison with a ton of spices, Drew brewed a lager, and I brewed a hefeweizen.

Brewmaster Drew passing on knowledge

There are two new rules for our brew days.  The first is we always BBQ something.  Today it was a Boston Butt.  The second rule is we always drink homebrew.  Drew and Eric both brought a smattering, while I served up some from my one good keg.

You can't make homebrew...

Drew, who is by far the brewmaster of our merry crew, spent most of the day sitting down.  From a distance it was quite easy to tell who the master was.  I, on the other hand, can’t sit still to save myself.

Eric & Drew banter over their kettles

I was happy with my mash, as I my gravity readings were fairly close to target.  I’m still getting the swing of batch sparging.  For the first time, I made a true yeast starter and had incredibly vigorous activity in the fermentor before the end of the day.  I can’t wait for the results.

Pulled Goodness

After our successful brew, and successful pork, we headed up to Boston’s to partake in Firkin Fest.  After an afternoon of brewing, we were treated to among others firkins of Bell’s Hopslam, Amber Ale, and Victory Hop Devil .  Lovely.  Four weeks from now we will do it all over again.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

What’s on the Grill #136

A Mediterranean Extravaganza: Grilled pear, pistachio, and ricotta salad; Swordfish souvlaki; Greek garden packets; and Grilled grape and plum packets with whipped mascarpone!  Phew…

This is what happens when your wife lands a really good cookbook.  In this case, it is once again Diane Kochilas’ Mediterranean Grilling.  With Mom & Dad slated to come over for dinner, Zoë somehow found some free time and came up with the entire menu, all from Diane’s book.

Grilled Pears

The highlights for me were the salad and dessert.  This is a little weird, because I am usually all about the entree.  Not tonight though. 

The salad involved grilling pears, pistachios, and ricotta cheese.  Yes, cheese.  Now I have grilled cheese before with varying success, but I outright failed with the ricotta.  Well not so much failed.  I mean I did get the cheese off the grill, it just didn’t look as pretty as I would have liked (Read: big blob of cheese).  Note to self: Remember to use the kettles with the smaller grates in the future (Which funny enough is the same thing I was supposed to remind myself this time!).

Grilled Pear, Pisatchios, & Ricotta Salad

The pears, pistachios, and cheese were mixed with fresh arugula and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette.  It was wonderful.

Grilling Swordfish Souvlaki on the grill

For the souvlaki, the swordfish was marinated in a mixture of lemon and olive oil and then mounted on skewers with bay leaves, cherry tomatoes, and red onions.  The swordfish was good, but in my opinion a tad over cooked (the minority opinion I have been told).  Regardless, I would still have it again.

Grilling Swordfish Souvlaki

The garden Greek packets are always good, and while on the topic of packets, let’s talk dessert.  We have come to the conclusion that just about any fruit is great on the grill.  Even fruit you might not initially eat on its own…which in my case is most of them.  Sorry, I’m bad that way.  For instance, I’m not a big plum eater.  However, cook a plum over the grill and I will line up for thirds…and maybe fourths if I loosen the belt on my pants and fifths if I…well you get the idea.

Prepping Dessert

For the packets, Zoë made a sugary port reduction which was tossed with sliced grapes and plums.  The fruit mixture was placed into parchment paper packets, topped with butter, and grilled indirectly for about 15 minutes.  When finished, they were topped with mascarpone which had been mixed with orange zest and some of the leftover syrup.  Wow, it was really good.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What’s on the Grill #135

Truly Grilled Pizza!  Now regular readers of this blog will know I am no stranger to making pizzas on the grill.  I use the term “truly grilled” because I grilled the dough directly on the grates, something I usually don’t do.  This was really a choice out of desperation since my pizza stone broke several weeks ago, and I have yet to replace it.  So, tonight’s pie was pure grill: no stone, no screen, no paper…just Mr. Pizza and Mr. Weber.

Truly Grilled Pizza

I made my dough the usual way (In my opinion, still a work in progress).  For the toppings I went traditional, with the exception of adding some breakfast sausage I ground on Sunday.  (Sausage Making Note: I will grind and stuff soon.  I have the casings, but have neglected to buy the stuffer Andrew pointed out.  Soon…soon!).



I took my dough ball and cut it in half, which resulted in two 8 inch pies.  I wanted smaller pies so I could better manage them over the grill. 

I preheated the grill to direct medium and oiled both sides of the dough.  With the dough “untopped”, I placed the first side down on the grates.  After about 3 minutes, I flipped the dough and added the toppings on the fly while the second side cooked.  I suppose I could have waited until I initially grilled both sides to top them, but I was hungry and I like the feeling of skin sluffing off my wrists while they dangle over the hot grill.

Dough on the Grate

By the time the pizzas were topped and my wrists were red, I slide the pies to the middle and went to indirect high.  Cook for about 10 more minutes, or until your desired level of “doneness”.

The results were good.  Grilling the pizzas this way produces a much more crisper crust, which is altogether not surprising.  I still like my stone, but in a pinch a “truly grilled pizza” works just as well.  So, if you own a grill and you like pizzas, you have no excuses for NOT being able to make “truly grilled pizzas”. 

Next up?  Grilled calzones and an experiment with smoke…