Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's on the Grill #168

Cajun Rubbed & Smoked Guiness Bear Can Chicken

Cajun Rub and Smoked Guinness Beer Can Chicken! Bean is here for Spring Break, which is incredibly exciting. One of the topics for discussion we always have is what to grill. As I posed Bean this question the other night, he quickly came back with beer can chicken. Good choice, as it is a perennial fav around here. Now this kid is not your average frozen chicken strip kid. So, when I asked him what kind of rub he wanted, I knew I wouldn't get an answer like "just my shoulders". Nope, Bean answered, "cajun".

After an ever so slight double take, I asked Bean what was in his cajun rub. He didn't have an answer, so I turned him on to the never-ending Internet to find the answer.

After a quick primer on don't-stop-at-just-the-first-Google-search-result, Bean pulled up a rub recipe, and we were off.

Cajun Rub and Smoked Guinness Beer Can Chicken

Whole Chicken

Can of Guinness Beer

Cajun Rub (Found on the Interwebs by Bean, it makes about a cup and a half)

Wood Chips

Spice Man

1. Soak your wood chips in water. I again went to the most excellent wine infused chips from Green Leaf BBQ.

2. Prep your grill for indirect medium and ready a drip tray filled with water to place below the chicken.

3. Prep your chicken by rinsing it off under cold water and blotting it dry with paper towels.

4. Prep your Guinness Can by opening it and drinking about an eighth of it. Repeat and savor. With a church key, cut several openings in to the top of the can. With the top cut open, drop a few tablespoons of rub into the can.

Prepping the Can

5. Supply your chicken with a little Guinness of its own, by sliding your majestic bird on to its new beer throne. The Guinness can is tall, so chances are your bird, like ours, will be on its tippy toes. That's okay, because it's not you.

A PourA Sprinkle

6. With the bird seated, rub the outside of the chicken with oil (we used canola) and then cover with rub. Also, since any chance we get to anthropomorphize a chicken, we take, Bean had a little play too.

A little wing play

7. With the chicken ready, get the grill smoking by placing your wood chips on the hot coals. Close the lid. Once the grill starts to smoke, you are ready. Place your chicken on the grate, over the drip pan, and close the lid.

One issue here. Remember the tall Guinness can we talked about earlier? Well unfortunately, it's a little too tall for the lid to close. Thankfully, I have the rotisserie ring standing by for these unforeseen moments. With the ring in place, we had plenty of room to spare. If not, we would have to turn the can into a lazy-boy, and that wasn't in the cards.

Smoking Collar

8. Let the chicken cook for about an hour and fifteen minutes, remove, carve, and serve!

Putting them down

Bean & the tongs

The other neat part about this meal were the sides. I can probably count on one hand how many 11 year olds suggest having asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and steamed artichokes as dinner vegetables. Bless this angel.

Bean's idea

So, while I finished up the chicken, Bean worked the Summit and his asparagus. I think he is on to something. His cajun rub turned out great, and thanks to the obscenely large Guinness can, this chicken was one of the most moist beer can chickens I have had in a long time. Bean hit this one out of the park. Well done!


Bean will be back this week with some more meals, this is for certain!

We're done!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's on the Grill #167

Shrimp, Pesto, & Feta Cedar Wraps! Tonight's meal was brought to you by one of my favorite pastimes: freezer spelunking. It's one of those nights where I want to grill something, but didn't have time to go to the store, or have the luck of passing a roadside steak stand, which, by the way, should be a lot more prevalent in my neighborhood.

Prep Time

This meal brought out two of the things I always have in the freezer: Shrimp & Pesto. (Imagine how Jeffrey Dahmer would have finished that sentence...) Now purists near the coasts may scoff at my never ending supply of flash frozen shrimp, but these frozen morsels are quite good and so easy to keep on hand. The pesto is frozen too, but homemade to begin with, as I have covered before. Note: be careful when digging the pesto out of the ice cube tray. Apparently the frozen trays are quite fragile when too much force is applied. Whoops.

Shrimp, Pesto, & Feta Cedar Wraps

20 medium sized shrimp, uncooked, deveined and malcontent

1/2 cup pesto

handful of feta

2 cedar sheets

I picked up the cedar wraps at the store months ago, and finally decided to put them to use. When using any wood on the grill, be sure to soak it in water first for at least 30 minutes.

Shrimp in a Row

Once soaked, line your shrimp down the center of the cedar. Then, cover with the pesto and the feta. Roll the cedar into a...roll, duh, and secure it with some cooking twine.

Mt. St. Pesto

Preheat your grill to indirect medium. I grill these indirect, as the cedar wraps are so thin, your cedar wraps would come off as cedar embers if you expose it to too much heat.

Cedar Wrap and Grill

The cook time is about 25 minutes, or until your shrimp are opaque and cooked through.

Inside the Wrap

The great thing about this meal is you can either have a no mess dinner by eating it out of the cedar wrap, or plate it if you just have to do dishes. Even with the bold taste of the pesto and feta, the cedar still finds a way to work into the shrimp, which I just love.

Cedar Wrapped Shirmp with Pesto & Feta

For a last minute gilled dinner of "what's on hand", these wraps can't go wrong.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's on the Grill #166

Smoked Rotisserie Chicken! It seem as of late, that the rotisserie has been in heavy use. I most likely attest this to the fact it's been cold out and the rotisserie is set-it-and-forget-it. As winter gets ready to pass the baton to spring, I know that I can't use the excuse of laziness, thin skin, and a lack of Arctic wear to justify using the rotisserie. I will, however, base its use on good grilling. Fortunatley, that won't be hard.

The special thing about tonight's roto bird is the smoke. Thanks to a call into Greg Rempe's most excellent BBQ Central Radio Show, I won some wine infused wood chips from Green Leaf BBQ. I follow both Tim from Green Leaf BBQ and Greg from BBQ Central on Twitter, so this was really a perfect storm of BBQ greatness.

Wine Infused Wood Chips

No sooner than had Tim received my contact info, than I received my box of wine infused chips. For tonight's bird, I chose the chips, versus the larger chunks.

I prepped the bird as usual, after first realizing my roaster was the victim of a tragic accident. There is nothing worse than getting ready to feast on a chicken that was the victim of an accident!

Damaged on Delivery

Open fracture aside, I planned to explore the smoke from the chips, so I opted for just salt and pepper for the bird (and a sling). To make the spice application easier, I truss the chicken, spit it, and then place it over the sink. Once over the sink, it is much easier to oil and season the chicken without losing half of the season on your hands, or on the countertop.

Roto Prep

I soaked the wood chips for about an hour. With the grill prepped for indirect medium, I dropped the chips on to the coals, closed the lid, and waited for smoke. With the chips smoking, I mounted the bird...on the grill...and waited.

Smoking the Chips

After the bird spun for about an hour and fifteen minutes, I took it off. The results were great. I found it amazing how well the wine-ish smoke permeated the flesh of the chicken. With the minimal rub, the wine/smoke was definitely the dominant flavor. In the future, I'm looking forward to trying the wine infused chips out with a pork shoulder.

Roto with wine infused wood chips

Yes, roto birds are easy for winter. However, the fact that they are so good and you get so many meals from them make roto chickens not only easy, but enjoyable multi-meal feasts, whether it's warm or cold outside!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

What's on the Grill #165

Here's the "two" part of my aforementioned twofer: Turkish Style Lamb Kebabs!

I love lamb and I love kebabs, so really how can this go wrong? Simple, it can't. You're cooking meat on sticks. It is pretty easy.

A well marked cookbook

Using my well stained and noted Mediterranean Grilling book, I assembled a rub of ground cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, thyme, salt and pepper. For the lamb, I took a semi-boneless leg of lamb and made it boneless. Since I had a ton of lamb meat, I opted to freeze half. I took the remaining 2 pounds or so which was not bound for a trip to Siberia and cut it into one inch(ish) cubes. The lamb was tossed with olive oil and then with the rub.

Half a leg of lamb

After letting the lamb rest for about a half hour (meat should always get a little siesta before grill time!), I threaded the lamb on to some metal skewers. (The downside to wood skewers is you have to soak them. The downside to metal skewers is they will go through your hand if you aren't careful...I opted for metal because I had a new box of band-aids in the kitchen.)

The lamb skewers were placed on the grill over direct medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes. While being grilled, I brushed them with a mixture of olive oil and lemon juice.

Grilled Lamb Kebabs

Meanwhile, I cut a red onion into very thin slices and tossed it with a mixture of paprika, cayenne, lemon juice, and paprika.

Grilled Pita

Lastly, some pita bread was grilled very quickly over the hot grill. Once done, the pitas were served stuffed with lamb, the onion mixture, and a dollop of greek style yogurt. Now go don your fez, and enjoy!

Bottling and Kegging

It's been exactly a week since Brian and I bottled his first batch of homebrew. They are resting in my basement until we decide to crack one open and get a proper taste. Proper meaning: chilled and carbonated...we've already tried it right out of the fermenter and it's definitely promising...at least once you work out the flat and warm flavors.

Brian filling his brew

I also kegged my Double IPA: Hopular. This too is looking (and tasting) good. It has clocked in at 9.5% ABV, which is a little higher than I expected.

Bottle filling

I dry hopped my batch in the secondary with pellets and it left behind about 3 inches of hop sludge at the bottom of the carboy. I was smart enough this time not to dry hop with a bag. That was an ordeal I don't want to relive.

Well with the hard work over, I'm looking forward to tapping Hopular tomorrow night. Tasting notes to follow.

It's hard to believe with the weather finally warming slightly, it was so frigid when we brewed last. With only one full keg in the fridge, I need to get going on another batch.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

What's on the Grill #164

Grilled Eggplant Layered with Tomatoes & Feta! This is part one of a twofer, and both thanks, once again, to Diane Kochilas's Mediterranean Grilling. First up is what I call grilled eggplant sandwiches. This is the second time we've made these and I must say, for a guy who hates tomatoes unless they are pureed beyond recognition and seasoned with 10 pounds or oregano, I love them...kid you not. My family is probably wondering what's wrong with me. I'm putting grilled tomato slices: in my mouth.

Eggplant, Feta, & Feta Sandwiches

For this easy appetizer, or if you are a light weight dainty eater: "dinner", you need:

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices

Olive oil

2 firm, ripe tomatoes cut into 4 rounds each

salt and pepper

12 large-ish fresh basil leaves

12 slices of feta (ask me how long it took me to find a block of feta vs crumbles)

Preheat your grill to direct heat, medium high.

Oil your grate.

Brush your eggplant slices with olive oil. Place over direct heat and grill for about 6 minutes, giving them the old flip half way through.

Grilled Eggplant

Brush the tomato slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Like their friend eggplant, grill them for about 6 minutes and flip them half way through. Be sure to not cut them too thin, because at this stage one of three things will happen: You will remove them off the grill, you will scrape into sludge with your spatula, or you will push them through the grates to a fiery death. You have been warned.

Grilled Tomato

Here's a little bit of blasphemy: preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Yeah, your oven...please forgive me. Oil the bottom and sides of six shallow baking dishes, about 3-4 inches in diameter. Fill each dish in the following order: eggplant slice, tomato slice, basil leaf, and feta slice. Repeat and top with another eggplant slice. Press down so the stacks aren't higher than the rim of the dishes. Bake until the cheese melts, approximately 12-15 minutes.

To serve, flip and turn out each dish on a medium plate and drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy!

Putting off some smoke

Sunday, March 07, 2010

What's on the Grill #163

Goose Breasts with Orange, Ginger, & Balsamic Sauce! I enjoy having the opportunity to grill meat not normally found at the grocer. In order to bring something new to the grates, I am lucky to have a friend who enjoys waking up before sunrise, covering himself in duck urine, and blasting waterfowl out of the sky. Bless him.

Goose Breasts

Every year, Doug, my hunting guru, is kind of enough to throw me some of his catch. Last year it was duck, and this year I thought it was duck again. I thawed out the breasts he gave me and thought, wow...those are huge, that must have been one hell of a duck. Well it turns out...surprise, surprise, I'm an idiot. The breasts weren't from a duck, they were from a goose. Oh.

Using a recipe I found online, I set about preparing my duck, duck, goose dinner.

Grilled Goose

As I mentioned before, the breasts were large, and the picture doe not do them justice. I prepped the grill for medium high, but after the first eight minutes, knocked it down to medium for the last eight minutes. In hindsight, I should have dropped the temp a little more and left them on a little longer. They came out on the less done side of medium rare.

Sliced Goose Breast

The orange, ginger, & balsamic sauce was incredibly easy to make and another reason why I always keep ginger root in the freezer. It's ready to roll at a moments notice and keeps forever.

The final result was a dinner rich in flavor, but not as tender as I would have hoped or preferred. This was my first time grilling goose breasts, so I don't know if it the breasts lack of tenderness is characteristic of this majestic floating beauty, or a consequence of my waterfowl inexperience. I have had better luck with duck, that is for certain.

Although this meal wasn't totally what I was expecting, it was good...and it lasted through at least two lunches as leftovers. In my book, that is a win.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A little decompression...

Thanks to the magic of in air wifi, I'm posting this from 36000 feet somewhere over New Mexico (I think). We are heading to Las Vegas with some friends for a few days, and have been chasing the sun west as it prepares to set on the west coast.

Welcome to Lego Vegas

Somehow, I have managed to find myself behind in posting. Not behind as in "I haven't done anything post worthy", but behind as in "I've got meals completed, ideas in the wings, and still some sauce on my lips". This never happens.

Since I have been sitting here doing nothing monumental but numb every nerve ending on my butt, I decided to fire up the laptop and knock a few posts out. Great idea, except I realized I never uploaded the photos to Flickr, which are unfortunately stored back home on the server. Whoops.

Instead of writing about blue cheese burgers on focaccia and grilled goose, I could go on about my airline peanuts and coffee, but they aren't grilled, so I won't. So, per the gang at Grilling Companion, I will put $10 on Red and then search out as many good meals as I can find. That is, after all, my thing.

In the meantime, check out this article from Serious Eats on the Sous-Vide cooking of steaks. Dustin and I have been watching and talking about this for awhile. I certainly don't want anything to tear me away from the grill, but the results and premise are interesting.