Sunday, October 31, 2010

A couple cool things...

My friend Todd completely surprised me this week when the 3 bottles, comprising Samuel Adams' Barrel Room Collection, showed up on my front porch.  Oh wow...this was cool, especially knowng they are only available in Boston and Denver.

Sam Adams Barrel Room Collection

These brews are all belgian styles and were aged in oak barrels imported from Europe.

Top Down

As much as I would have loved to sampled all three in one night, I want them to last as long as I can.  I'm guessing a week.

First up, I had the American Kriek.  The Kriek was fermented with cherries, which explains completely why on my first taste I thought: lambic.  Although I am not a huge lambic fan, I was immediately taken in by the Kriek.

American Kriek

Rightfully so, the Kriek has a full on cherry taste with the woody oak, and maybe a little pepper, lingering on the finish.

The tartness of the cherries danced on the tip of my tongue.  It was fabulous.

American Kriek

As someone who is not a big fan of lambics, ironically SA's Cranberry Lambic no less, I absolutey loved the Kriek.  It looks like I need to plan a trip to New England to have it again.

So, outside of an incredibly enjoyable beer from a craft brewer I completely love, what else was cool?  This:

Setting Sun

With the sun setting, the day's last rays of sun caught the clouds and created a beautiful sunset.  The great sky was the perfect ceiling to grill by.

Lid & Sun: Down

With the sun going down, my ribeye flaring up and the Kriek in my hand, I couldn't think of a more beautiful end to a perfect day.

Sunset Flareup

What’s on the Grill #195: Planked Scallops with Ginger & Bacon

Before heading back to England after their extended stateside visit, Bob & Wendy (the in-laws) requested a seafood extravaganza as one of their final meals.  Seeing I am not one to disappoint, I opted to cut some cedar and get our crustacean on.

In all, I planked lobster tails, tilapia and scallops.  For now, I’ll talk about the scallops.

A grill full of the sea

Scallops are really easy to grill and the process becomes even easier when you put them on a plank.

Bacon!

Earlier in the week I made some home cured bacon and ever since then, I have been finding ways of including bacon in whatever I am making...whatever.  Scallops seemed a natural choice for a little bit of bacon-y goodness.

Planked Scallops with Ginger & Bacon

10 Sea Scallops
2 slices of bacon cut into 1-inch squares
10 1-inch square slices of ginger root
salt & pepper
cedar plank

1.  Soak your plank for about an hour.  I chose cedar, but you can really use whatever you like. 

2.  Wash your scallops under cold water and then place evenly on the plank.

3.  Season the scallops with salt & pepper and then top each scallop with one slice of ginger and then one slice of bacon. 

Prepped Scallops

4.  Prep your grill for direct medium heat.  (I moved up to the 26 inch kettle since beside the scallops, I was also planking tilapia and lobster tails.  Amazingly, I was able to get everything to fit.)

Planked Scallops with Ginger & Bacon

5.  With the grill at temp, place the scalloped top plank directly over the coals and close the lid.  Allow the scallops to cook for approximately 10-15 minutes, or until they are firm to the touch.

Planked Scallops with Ginger & Bacon

I really like these a lot.  They are great as a meal or even an appetizer.  Add a stack of toothpicks and guests can eat them right off the plank.  Or if you are like me, steal a few before you even take them off the grill.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

As promised...

Wherever there is pulled pork, there is always pulled pork pizza.
Slicing In
They are simply two great things that go so well together.  Make your dough, replace the tomato sauce with BBQ sauce, top with pork & cheese and grill or bake.  Heaven.
One piece

Monday, October 25, 2010

What's on the Grill #194: Coffee Rubbed Ribs

Since BBQ is in the air, why stop with pulled pork? With my ability to go low and slow far and few between any more, I leaped at the chance to work the smoke two nights in a row. Enter the baby back ribs.

Ribs


I adapted the same rub I used with the pork shoulder for the ribs:

2 Tbls Paprika

2 Tbls Cracked pepper

2 Tbls Kosher salt

1 Tbls Freshly ground coffee

1 Tbls Granulated garlic

The ribs were prepped by having their membrane removed and then placed at room temperature for about 30 minutes. I again set-up the Performer for indirect heat low.

With two racks of ribs in play, I opted for two sauces, my go to sweet red and a carolina mustard.

For a change of pace, I moved my sauce prep from the Summit's side burner to our fire pit. With the continual effort of slowing burning the downed wood in our yard, I thought I might as well go all rustic and work some sauce over the coals. As an added benefit, when the sauce begin to boil, it didn't go all over the grill, it bounced back into the pit. This is my kind of clean-up.

Sauce on Fire


With the coals at temp, I dropped some apple chunks on the grill and at the first sign of smoke dropped the ribs.

Yellow is for mustard


Around the two hour mark of 250 degree heat, I changed the position of the ribs. Since I have the heat off to once side, I ensured even cooking by giving both racks equal distance from the coals.

Down the side


The entire cook took four hours, so with 30 minutes to go, I sauced the ribs. One rack received the red treatment, while the other enjoyed the yellow. After 15 minutes more, I sauced them again. I know a lot of people like to wrap their ribs in foil when they sauce, but I prefer to sauce them on the grate. The sauce certainly adds something, but in the end I want the meat to be the star of the show.

With the meat pulled back from the bone, the ribs were done.

The Pullback


Then, using a knife, I cut the ribs up for serving. Moist, flavorful and just a little bit of meaty resistance. Yum.

Just right

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's on the Grill #193: Coffee Rubbed Pulled Pork

I would say "it's that time of year for BBQ" but truthfully, I think any time of year is great for BBQ. Although it is not as much fun tending a cook when it's 20 degrees outside with snow on the ground, the rewards are always well worth the effort.

This time of year, however, it is extra nice. Hanging out around the grill for 8 hours on a warm fall day is a great excuse to take in the changing of the seasons and perhaps drink a few beers...perhaps.

The Pour


When it comes to pulled pork, I usually go with a Boston Butt, but for a change of pace, I went with a pork shoulder, which sits below the Butt, which of course also isn't really a butt, but...you get the idea.

Besides my deviation with the pork cut, I also changed up my rub by adding coffee (I love coffee) and decided to use something I almost never do, a mop. For the rub, I used 2 tsps of kosher salt, cracked pepper, paprika, freshly ground coffee and 1 tsp of granulated garlic.

For the mop sauce, I used 1/2 cup of beer (Sam Adams Octoberfest...nice and sweet), 1/4 of canola oil and 1 tsp of the aforementioned rub.

The shoulder was set up on the 22 inch kettle using my modified grate and a modified minion method with the coals (chimney full of unlit and about 20 lit on top). The wood du jour: apple chunks.

Cooked Shoulder


With the kettle cruising along at 250 F, I let it go for about four hours before I started using the mop sauce. I mentioned before that I rarely use a mop. I find it much easier to leave the lid down and allow the pork to cook versus opening it up every hour. If you figure every time you open the lid, the cook time gets extended, it is easy to see the advantage of letting the pork remain in it's blue steel shelter.

Of course habits be damned, I mopped. Three times, during the last three hours.

Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo


In between the mops, I had a few beers. Remember, it is one of the requirements of a long cook. First up was Samuel Smith's Yorkshire Stingo. A bottle conditioned beer aged in oak casks, it had a really fruity taste with a wonderful hint of oak. I loved it and I'm not usually in to fruity things.

Dark Island


I also had Dark Island from the Scottish Orkney Brewery. One word: Christmas Cake, as this was exactly what it tasted like. A low ABV, but full on flavor beer. Chock up another win.

Meanwhile, the pork finally climbed it's way to 190 degrees and off the grill it went.

Working around the bone


So, what was the verdict? The pork was great. It was so moist, it almost pulled itself. The bark certainly held the lovely hints of the coffee rub, but I truly think the benefits of the mop were minimal. When you consider all of the lid hoisting and mop slinging, I think there is a reason I don't typically include it in my repertoire. However, one piece of that bark with the ground coffee? Very nice.

Forkin some bark


Another great end to a long day made possible by a belly fully of pork and beer. I hope to have more fall days like this, especially if it means I can go a full post and not mention all of the leaves around the backyard I need to pick up.

Face goes here

Monday, October 18, 2010

What's on the Grill #192: Tender Beef Quesadillas

At times I ask myself whether I should start a new series on this blog called "What's in the Quesadilla" or better yet, "What's on the Pizza". Depending how much is "on the grill" often means I'm not only getting one meal, but two or three. When it comes to making leftovers enjoyable, I like to wrap them in a tortilla or spread them across a pizza. Enter this meal.

Cutaway Quesa


Earlier in the week, we picked up a PSMO from Sam's I used for planked tenderloin. As I always do, when I butchered the meat I saved the chain for leftovers (I have previously described this process, which was over 3 ago...wow).

The chain is just as good as the tenderloin meat and when cut into small strips and fried on cast iron, it is fabulous.

Waiting Chain


To fry, I placed a cast iron griddle directly on the grates of the Summit and heated the grill to direct medium. Start by adding oil to the grate and sauteing a mixture of diced onion and shallot. Cook until soft and translucent.

With the meat cut into strips and seasoned well with salt and pepper, add to the griddle and fry for approximately 5 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

Fried


With the meat and onion mixture finished, add a scoop of meat to a large quesadilla and top with cheese. I also added a mixture of sour cream and pureed chipotles, but anything will work. Fold the tortilla in half and return to the griddle cooking each side for about 2 minutes, or until the tortilla darkens and the cheese melts.

Cheese & Tenderloin Quesadilla


This simple process can turn any bit of leftovers into something completely different. In fact, I am completely convinced you can wrap anything in a tortilla and grill it, except of course for my Sam Adams Latitude 48 IPA. This is fine by me. I prefer my beer properly chilled and without grill marks. The Latitude 48 is a great IPA and thanks to consumer demand it appears to now be available in 6 packs. A grilled quesadilla and a great IPA is my idea of a fabulous dinner of leftovers.

IMG_8576

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's on the Grill #191: Crushed & Fried Potatoes

Any time I have the chance to fry something, I jump at it. So when I had some oil sitting around from a previous night's dinner, I used it as an opportunity to make potatoes my friend Gregg turned me on to. They are relatively easy and incredibly good.

Now I say "relatively easy" not because the recipe has ten steps, but because it involves both parboiling and frying (Gregg went out and bought a fryer just to make these). If you keep some oil always at the ready, you shouldn't have to plan to far ahead. If you don't, this may be more of a "destination" side versus a last minute thought, or at the extreme a trip to the store to pick up a fryer.

First, wash and scrub about 3 lbs of small potatoes (fingerlings, red, or in my case small Idaho). Parboil the potatoes until just soft. The key here is to cook the spuds, but not overcook them. Have them beg for mercy, just don't kill them.

Once they are soft, remove from the boiling water, place in a colander and cool under cold water from the tap. We want to stop the potatoes from cooking further.

Spud Smash


Now, place each potato on a cutting board and smash it with your hand, or really whatever you want...club, ball bat, small child. You get the idea.

While you prep your fry oil for 350 degrees, place the potatoes in a bowl and sprinkle with a liberal amount of kosher salt.

When your oil hits temp, drop them in the oil and fry for about 5 minutes, or until the potatoes float.

Spud Fry


Remove them from the oil and place on paper towels to allow any excessive oil to drain off (not that I believe there is really such a thing, of course).

Spud Serve


Sprinkle the potatoes with some chopped parsley and serve. I found they went great with some planked tenderloin, but in reality they are potatoes. They can go with anything. Oh, and most important, figure out what you want to use that leftover oil for next. Something close at hand is alway ready to be fried at a moment's notice.

Planked Tenderloin

Monday, October 04, 2010

What's on the Grill #190: Chipotle Slathered & Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Planked Root Veg

I complain about them, but it seems I still manage to have them around and worse yet, grill them. I'm talking once again about boneless-skinless-lifeless chicken breasts. On their own, they are like a Chevy Nova on blocks, a no-go. However, when said chicken breasts are stuffed with pepper jack cheese and topped with a mixture of mayonnaise, bacon and chopped chipotles and grilled on a cedar plank...perhaps I can be persuaded.

As I plank my way around the grill with Techniques for Planking, it really doesn't get any easier than this.

Planks


Soak your plank.

Take four chicken breasts and cut horizontal pockets in each. Stuff the pockets with a couple slices of pepper jack cheese. Make a mixture of 1 cup of mayo, 1/2 cup cooked bacon crumbles, 1/4 cup chopped green onion and 1 chopped chipotle chili or about 2 tablespoons of pureed chipotle chilies.

Stuffed Pocket


Drop your chicken breasts on the plank and cover with the slather.

Grill your planked breasts over indirect heat for about 30 minutes.

A little bit of slather


Along with a simple meal comes a simple side: planked veg. Cut up and quarter russet and sweet potatoes, parsnip, red onion and garlic.

Mixing Veg


Parboil your veg and then toss with olive oil, some freshly chopped rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Place the veg on one of your soaked planks and grill along with the chicken for about 30 minute, or until the parsnips can be easily pierced.

Veg on Board


Not only do you have an easy weeknight meal, the planks work great for serving and most importantly you survived a run-in with those despicable chicken breasts. A satisfyingly good time.

Planked Stuffed & Smathered Chicken w/Root Veg

Sunday, October 03, 2010

APP Around the Web

Over the past week, I was lucky to have Another Pint Please pop up in several different places across the Internet:

My thanks to Dena at Steak-Enthusiast (what a site name!) for a post on my talk about my minimalist grilled steak.

Done


A hat-tip to Tasting Table for using one of my pictures for a post on fried chicken:

Fried Chicken


Finally, a thanks to StellaCadente* at Amazon's Al Dente food blog for giving my "The Simple Things" photo a shout-out as the Al Dente Flickr Photo of the Week.

The Simple Things...


I encourage everyone to check out these great blogs. I'm thrilled to be a part of their great work.

When is a Brew Day, not a Brew Day?

When you aren't brewing, as was the case for me last weekend. However, 3 of the Backyard Brewers did assemble and I did manage to swing by The Drew's to share a few pints, take in the smells and shoot a few pictures.

Eric & The Drew


Drew was joking about assigning "officers" for our little society and it was determined I could easily pull in "Historian".

Paddle & Kettle


As with any Brew Day, not only was there plenty of brewing, but grilled and fried food too. Drew had these incredibly delicious deep fried sausage wraps and later on had a chorizo stuffed fatty. I'm still bummed I missed the fatty.

Deep Fried Something


The weather was beautiful, which explained besides cleaner, tubing and airlocks, Eric's equipment box included suntan lotion. Bald guys learn these kind of things...just not this bald guy. I typically remember to apply suntan lotion by the time my head is already peeling.

HomeBrew Eqiupment


Showing up mid-brew, I was impressed at how calm everything seemed. I don't know if it was my detachment from my own brew process or as Dave aptly pointed out, we just have our roles down pat. There was plenty of time to sit, watch and laugh. A quick peek here to check a boil or a subtle alarm sounding to mark a hop addition, everything was just working great.

Hops In


On my way out, I couldn't but help take some more pictures of Drew's Beer Fridge.

The Love


Although I keep my kegs in a fridge, I have yet to hook up exterior taps. I need to, so I shot this to nudge me into the project. Check out the cool use of a drywall pan as a drip tray on the front door. Typical Drew ingenuity.

The Drew's Fridge
The Door


The next Brew Day will be in November. I will be there hoping I'm not the reason things always seem hectic when the Society convenes, because for this Brew Day, the guys had a perfect relaxing day of beer creation.