Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's on the Grill #214: Planked Swordfish Oscar

At the rate I am going with the whole planking thing, I am about on the verge of planking Adler & Ferrtig's book and eating it.  If the recipes have been any indication, I bet the actual book tastes good too.

So anyway, just when I think I have shelved their tome for awhile, I stumble upon the recipe for planked swordfish oscar.  Note, in this sense "stumble" meant: went to cabinet, pulled down book and flipped pages.  Your definition may be different.

To Adler & Fertig's credit, the ease and approachability of these recipes make them a hit.  With 8 ingredients, you have a meal worth remembering and, thankfully, writing about.

Planked Swordfish Oscar
Adapted from Adler & Fertig's
Techniques for Planking

4 - 5-6 ounce swordfish fillets
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup dijon mustard
8 ounces good canned crabmeat (don't skimp here)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbls fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper
12 thin spears of asparagus

Prepare the grill for indirect medium.  I opted to not soak my plank, however if you so choose, you can soak the plank in water for about an hour.

Place the swordfish on the planks.

In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, crabmeat, minced garlic and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Grill the asparagus spears over direct heat for about 2-3 minutes.

Grilled Asparagus

Remove from the grill and place 3 spears on each swordfish fillet.

Topping the Swordfish

Take the crabmeat mixture and cover each swordfish fillet.  Work the mixture so it totally covers the fish and creates a seal where the fish meats the plank.

Adding Crabmeat

Place the planks over direct heat and cook for approximately 4-5 minutes.  The plank should start to smoke, pop, char and generally catch fire.  At that time, move the plank over indirect heat and continue cooking for another 10-12 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Planked Swordfish Oscar

If by chance your plank catches fire, douse the flames with some water and not the beer you are holding.

Remove the plank from the grill and place on a non-combustible/meltable surface.  Remove the fish and serve.

Serving it hot

I give this one two planks up.  Swordfish is great grilled on its own.  However, when you add in the plank and crabmeat.  Wow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What's on the Grill #213: Cedar Wrapped Asian Salmon

I don't know what I would do without impulse buys.  For instance, if it wasn't for Zoe picking up a pack of Fire & Flavor cedar wraps at Kroger, I wouldn't have had dinner.  Impulse buys, I welcome you.

I've used cedar wraps before and have had success.  They also follow this whole planking kick I've been on lately, albeit in a slightly different way.  In fact unlike a plank, for fast cooked foods, the thin cedar wrap really has a way of quickly imparting its woodsy love on its contents which, when cooking on a plank, takes longer.

Well it turns out this impulse buy was really a twofer.  Not only did I have the wraps, a recipe on the package caught my eye too.  It is a rare day I have cedar wraps, a handy recipe and a frozen sockeye salmon in the freezer to make it all happen.

Asian Salmon with Vegetables
From Smoke & Fire

2 tbls soy sauce, divided
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp grated ginger root
1 carrot, cut into 6 inch strips
2 scallions, cut into 6 inch strips
4-8 oz salmon fillets

Although I don't always soak my cedar planks, you need to soak the wraps.  Adding thin dry wood strips to a hot grill is like adding a match to gasoline.  Even though only one of these will remove your eyebrows, they will both ruin dinner.  Soak your cedar wraps in water for at least 10 minutes.

Mix together 1 tbls of soy sauce, the olive oil and ginger.  Place the mixture in a plastic bag with the salmon and allow to marinade for around 10 minutes while sitting on the counter.

Toss the carrot, scallions and remaining soy sauce together in a small bowl and mix well.

Prep the grill for direct medium.

Place the salmon in the middle of the cedar and season with salt and pepper.

Prepping the rolls

Evenly add the vegetables between the 4 wraps.

Tied & Stacked

Roll the cedar on to itself and secure with butcher twine.  As a nice touch, the Fire & Flavor wraps included their own twine which I readily used.

With the wraps wrapped and the grill hot, grill the wraps for about 4-5 minutes per side.

Wraps on the Grill

When done, remove from the grill, unwrap and serve.

Asian Salmon Cedar Wraps

I still find it amazing how much cedar was transferred to the salmon over such a short cook.  In the end this was an incredibly easy, fast and really good weeknight meal.  I can't recommend it, or impulse buys, enough.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's on the Grill #212: Beef in Red Curry Peanut Sauce

About five years ago, Zoe spent a month traveling all over Thailand.  Even though I was stuck stateside, I made up for her absence by eating, making and ordering Thai food.  Although her trip with tales of sub standard plumbing is long past, I still carry the Thai torch whenever I can.

I mostly use my wok outside.  I suppose it is the warm spring weather, as our sudden hint of summer likely explains why my wok has been hanging out on the grill's side burner.  It is ready for a workout.

Hot Wok

The week started off with my all time favorite, paht thai.  I again raise my wok to Nancie McDermott's Quick & Easy Thai, my go to Thai cookbook.  It is a great book, with so many easy, approachable and great tasting recipes. I can't recommend it enough...especially the paht thai.

Setting Egg

Now the one down side on this dish is although the cook time is short, the prep takes awhile.  Mise en place is incredibly important, as once you start, there is no stopping until you are done.

Paht Thai

Seeing paht is in a fairly regular rotation around here, I felt like something different and perhaps with a little less prep.  I was also looking to take advantage of some flank steak I had sitting around.  A few turn of the pages and I had my meal.

Beef in Red Curry Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Quick & Easy Thai

1 cup unsweetned coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 pound flank steak cut into thin 2 inch pieces
2 tbls red curry paste
2 tbls fish sauce
2 tbls brown sugar
3 tbls ground peanuts
handful of fresh basil leaves

I used my wok, but you can use any type of pan.  Add 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and the water to the wok and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Note: if you happen to open up your can of coconut milk and find this:

Uh oh

Fear not.  Coconut milk naturally separates.  Place the entire contents of the can in a bowl and mix it with a spoon until it returns to its creamy coconut-y delicousness.

Flank Steak

With the coconut milk and water simmering, add in the beef.  Allow the beef to cook for about 5 minutes.  Once done, remove the beef and transfer to a plate.


When the coconut milk returns to a boil, add the curry paste. Work the paste into the milk so it is evenly distributed.


Allow the paste/milk mixture to cook for another 3-5 minutes.  Return the beef to the wok.  Add the rest of the coconut milk and return to a boil.  Add in the peanuts, fish sauce and brown sugar.  Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes.  Add in the basil leaves and remove the wok from the heat.  Transfer to a plate or bowl and serve.

Red Curry Beef

My only issue with the curry was the lack of heat.  I must have skimped on the curry paste.  Next time I will up it a few notches...or spoons.  Overall though, it was outstanding.  I believe this is the first time I've made curry with beef.  Typically I go chicken or shrimp.  The flank steak worked really well and most importantly, cleared out a spot in the fridge.

Now with warmer weather on the horizon, I am certain I will be looking for more meals in my wok...with a little help from Nancie, of course!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

What's on the Grill #211: Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

...with spinach and black bean salad.  I love beef tenderloin and I love pork.  However, I've always been so-so on pork tenderloin.  When I think pork, I think fat.  When I think pork tenderloin, I think of non-fatty pork.  As an aside, when I think of Porky's, I think of the movie.

Anyway, although pork tenderloin is lean, it can still be quite good grilled.  It can be even better when matched with my all time favorite spinach and black bean salad...and even better when matched with Dave's Imperial Stout.

Dave's beer arrived on my desk at work this week, unexpectedly, but much appreciated.  After my confusion with homebrew roulette over the weekend, Dave made sure to remedy my homebrew identification deficiencies. His efforts and brew, were much appreciated.

Imperial Stout Cap

When it comes to grilling, I like to be prepared. In fact, I'm often pretty anal about it.  If it weren't for my prep bowls and pinch cups, I would be lost.


Organization is especially important when grilling multiple items at one time.  Tonight is a prime example: two meals on one kettle, one chimney of charcoal and one big beer.

Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

2 pork tenderloins
6 tbls maple syrup
4 tbls apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
canola oil
salt & pepper

1.  Pork tenderloin typically come with two loins per package.  Separate the tenderloins, remove any excessive fat and the silverskin.

Silverskin Removal

2.  Prep the grill for indirect medium, with a two zone fire.

Working the Performer

3.  Whisk together the glaze ingredients, the syrup, cider vinegar and mustard.  Set aside.


4.  With the tenderloins prepped, lightly oil with canola and season with salt and pepper.

Couple of Tenders

5.  Sear the tenderloins over direct heat.  Approximately 2-3 minutes a side.  Once browned, move the tenderloins to the indirect side of the grill and brush with the glaze.


6.  Continue cooking the tenderloins for another 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees, applying glaze every 10 minutes, or so.

Spinach and Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Weber's Charcoal Grilling

1 tbls canola oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1 tsp diced garlic
4 cups of chopped spinach
1 can of black beans, rinsed
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh lime juice

1.  Heat a cast iron skillet over direct heat.  In my case, as soon as i moved the tenderloins, I put the skillet in their place.

2.  Heat the canola oil n the skillet.  Once hot, add the garlic and stir for a minute.  Add the onion and continue to stir occasionally until translucent.

Hot Spinach

3.  Add the spinach and then the beans.  Stir, and then add the oregano and lime juice.

Spinach and Beans

4.  Mix well and remove from the heat.

Slice the pork, serve up the spinach and eat.

As I mentioned before, this is a one grill meal. I find something incredibly satisfying about making multiple things over one fire.

One Fire, One Meal

Especially this meal.  The tenderloin worked really well and the spinach salad, something I have quite a bit, is almost a meal all by itself.  If you have any extra glaze, add it to your pork before serving.  The sweetness makes up for the lack of fat in the meat by adding in just a bit more flavor.  Oh, and I almost forgot.  If you are looking for a great beer to go with pork tenderloin, I wholeheartedly recommend an Imperial Stout.  Dave's beer, with it's chocolate malt finish, added just the right touch to my one grill feast.  Pork, spinach and beer....I'm a happy man.

Honey Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What's the Grill? Phoenix Edition

This past week, we spent some time in Phoenix with family, visiting my Uncle.  It has been 30 years since I've travelled to The Grand Canyon state and after a brief few days, I've vowed to make our return visit much sooner.  I'm sure the 90 degree humidity free weather had something to do with it, but there was just too much to experience in such a brief amount of time.

Heading Down

We spent our mornings hiking Lookout Mountain with Uncle Greg.  With an 1800 feet vertical climb leading to spectacular views, it was a real treat to have such a beautiful and rugged "park" in walking distance.

Towards Phoenix

We also caught the Red's last spring training game against the White Sox.  It was major league baseball with the proximity of a minor league game.  Most importantly, the beer lines were much shorter.

Votto at Bat

Being away from home allowed a nice change of background for my beer photos too.  Although I'm sure the neighbors must have questioned what I was doing, Arrogant Bastard never looked better.

Bastrad by the Mountain

Since our extended clan was descending, Uncle Greg knew grilling would be in order.  To mark the occasion, he went out and bought a new grill to celebrate our get together and Dad, true to form, willingly manned it.

Dad manning the grill

Now while Dad was working his magic, I went wandering around the backyard to check out Uncle Greg's old grill.  I understand the new grill may sound interesting, but I'm always curious about old cook surfaces too.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle

As I rounded the corner behind the storage shed, I felt as if I had walked through some kind of Weber time warp.  There, sitting on the hot gravel, was a Weber kettle...with a propane cylinder attached to it.  I did a double-take, as It wasn't just a kettle, it was the Weber Gas Barbeque Kettle, circa the early 1970's. It was in great condition.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle - Handle

Uncle Greg told me he had this grill for the past 30 years.  Going back to Weber's history of grills, it is closely related to its 1971 cousin pictured here.  The only difference being instead of the total pedestal support, Uncle Greg's had the traditional tripod legs.  The wooden handle still barely shows the "Weber" imprint on the handle.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle - Pedestal

The pedestal shows what appears to be model number #A10199.  Unfortunately, a quick search o the web revealed nothing.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle - Tank

Uncle Greg said the only problem he had was when high winds would knock out the flame on the burner, otherwise it worked great.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle - Coals

After a lot of use over the years, this is a great example of longevity for what appears to be one of the first generation Weber gas grills.  After going over it for several minutes, I really wanted to fire it up...or at least disassemble it.  However, hungry family lured me away.

Weber's 1970 Gas Barbeque Kettle - Side

As I slid back over to Dad and the "new" grill, I found Uncle Greg provided the original wooden side table as a cutting board.  Apparently it was bought as an accessory with the old grill.  It's original metal supports are pictured above.  The board, in great condition, is below.

Old Weber Cutting Board - New Meat

So in the end, we had Dad's amazing bourbon glazed tenderloin, grilled potatoes and carrots.

Sliced Tenderloin

Grilled Spud

With plenty of good drink and family fun, it was a great night.  Hanging out with my parents, aunt and uncles is always a guaranteed good time.  Although as I find myself back home, not only do I drift back to our great times together, I think of the old Weber and wonder about all of the nights with Uncle Greg it hosted wonderful get togethers over the last 30 years.  With the christening of the new grill, I hope Uncle Greg gets another 30 years.  Although be warned, if our promised return to Phoenix happens soon, I will fire up the old gas kettle and give it just a little bit more life and perhaps one more night of entertaining.