Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's on the Grill #240: The Veal Chop

For the longest time, I've celebrated Ribeye Fridays.  Well, my week has now become one celebration richer: Protein Thursdays.  While heading home from work last week, I swung into to one of my favorite places, Jeradi's Little Store. Besides being a great destination for wine and beer, the Little Store also has a great selection of homemade food, deli meats and market fresh produce.  The staff is second to none.  Over the last year, they started to carry a select amount of high-end seafood and most recently, meat from Michael's in Cincinnati.  When you are getting seafood and meat from purveyors who supply high end restaurants, you know you are getting good stuff.  Since the selection changes week to week and covers both sea and land, I know on Thursdays I'm grilling good protein.  It just takes a roll of the bones to decide which.  Welcome to Protein Thursdays.

Chop and Veg

So, there I was perusing the handwritten sale list of fresh fish and meat when my eyes drifted down to the display cooler and zeroed in on the most beautiful bone in veal chop I had ever seen.  Operation Select Protein…mission accomplished.

The Veal Chop

I love veal, but have only grilled it a handful of times.  Easily, my favorite veal dish in recent memory was the Osso Buco at Piero's in Vegas.  Great stuff.  My biggest flop?  My poor man's Osso Buco that I just had to video.

Less is often more, which is exactly how I approached this chop.  Since I do not grill these every day, I was determined to taste the veal and nothing else.  I wanted it done simple.  Salt and pepper.  Nothing else.  More, with less.

Simple translates well to vegetables, too.  Olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano.  Nothing beats fresh asparagus when lightly seasoned and grilled.

Asparagus

With my chop covered in salt and fresh cracked pepper, I brought the Summit up to direct medium-high.  The chop was thick, so in order not to go indirect at all, I decided to pre-heat the grill longer at a slightly "under high" temperature.  A long grill pre-heat can make a huge difference in winter grilling.  It can also jack your natural gas brill, so be careful!

Chop on Grate

I grilled my veal like my beef, medium rare, which took about 6-7 minus a side.  USDA recommends 145 F, I shot for a 135 F finish, which translate to grill removal at about 125-130 with a 5 minute rest.

Griilled Veal Chop w/Asparagus

In the end, simple worked.  And wow, it was quite amazing.  Although veal is incredibly healthy, much like a lean cut of meat.  It tastes nothing like lean meat.  In my typical fashion, I gnawed the bone until it resembled a fairly large toothpick.  I could have definitely had two.  Maybe next time.  Protein Thursdays do come once a week, after all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

Stone's Ruination IPA & Boulder Beer's Mojo Risin'.  I took this photo with my iPhone camera app, Instagram.  Instagram is a photo sharing app, currently only available for iOS, but rumors persist it will soon be available on Android as well.  You take a picture, apply a filter, add some tilt-shift and share.  Or, as in the photo below, forgot the filter, use a little tilt shift and share.

Ruination & Mojo Risin....IPA Friday

Did I mention I love Instagram?  As technology improves and the smart phone replaces the traditional point and shoot camera, Instagram is what I considered Flickr from 5 years ago.  Granted the footprint of the social network is much smaller and the technical nature of the photographs is inferior, the simplicity of sharing, the ease of capturing an image and the creative use of filters is second to none.

Under very rare circumstances would I consider applying a tech heavy filter to a photograph taken with my Canon 7D.  However, when creativity hits in the fraction of a second and all I have is my iPhone & Instagram…I'm all over it.  Take for instance my dinner the other night.

Dinner, thanks to the grill.

If you are sporting an iPhone and like taking pictures, go and download Instagram today.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Samuel Adams Single Batch: Cinder Bock

The Washington Post ran a story earlier this year, where Dogfish Head Brewery president/founder,Sam Calagione, stated he was "happy" to see their flagship brand, 60 Min IPA, drop in sales.  On face value, this statement might seem a little confusing.  However, when you walk the aisles of your local beer store and see all of the new "one off" beers Dogfish is putting out and experimenting with, it starts to make sense.  Creativity is contagious…and fun.  Which, brings me to the title of this post, Sam Adams.

I love the fact that over the last 15 plus years, Samuel Adams has been doing the same thing, for even longer.  While certainly, the success of Jim Koch and crew is based on their flagship, Boston Lager, their constant seasonal offerings and most recently, the Single Batch series, shows how creativity and experimentation can be exciting, rewarding and for those of us enamored with craft beer, a hell of a lot of fun.

Sam Adams Cinder Bock

The newest entry in the Samuel Adams Single Batch series is Cinder Bock.  Cinder Bock happens to combine two of my favorite beers styles: Rauchbier and Double Bock.

Rauchbier is German for "smoke beer", an early, predominately German, method of drying malt for beer was over an open flame.  This process creates a very smokey malt, which is something I absolutely love.  Double Bocks are strong lagers.  In fact, both Rauchbier and Bocks are lagers, which shows just how versatile lagers can be.  Double Bocks, or any bock beer, (Helles Bock, Doppelbock, or Eisbock) are often, but not always darker in color and usually of a higher ABV.

Cheers!

Cinder Bock beautifully blends both of the styles.  The smokey Rauchbier immediatley presents itself, but slides to the back as the sweet malt of the the Double Bock pushes forward.  As the beer finishes, just a hint of smoke slides across the lips.  It's very, very nice.  I just love that smoke.

I was happy to find my local, Belmont Party Supply, not only had more 22 ounce Cinder Bock, but Griffin's Bow as well.  If you get a chance to try something you don't recognize.  Do it.  You will be glad you did.

Note: During my college days, I lambasted my Dad for buying Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  At the time, my favorite beer was Bud Light.  Boy, have times changed!  With the horrible confusion now on the Internet, I am eternally grateful the Boston Beer Company has not only refused to blacklist me, but kindly provided me with my first bottle of Cinder Bock.  My Dad was cool before it was time.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

I feel a little Delirium Tremens coming on...

The Pour

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What's on the Grill #239: Grilled Lamb Kebabs w/Feta Mint Dip

I love lamb.  A lot.  I'm really not sure where this relationship started, as growing up we never had lamb.  Growing up we had chicken.  I don't love chicken, which everyone knows and…I'm suddenly beginning to sense a pattern on my food likes.

Anyway, I've had a craving for lamb lately and when perusing my new Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, the lamb kebabs immediately jumped out.  However, it wasn't just the kebabs that pushed me over, it was the Feta Mint Dip.  I love dips too.

Lamb & Sauce

Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Sweet Curry Marinade w/Buttermilk Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Cook's Illustrated Cookbook

Marinade

3/4 cup buttermilk
1 T lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 T brown sugar
1 T curry powder
1 t red pepper flakes
1 t ground coriander
1 t chili powder
1 t salt
1/8 t pepper

Kebabs

1 boneless leg of lamb, trimmed & cut into 1-inch chunks (little over 2 pounds)
1 large bell pepper, stemmed, seeded & cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large sweet onion, peeled, halved lengthwise, cut into 1-inch pieces

Dip

1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, sliced
2 t lemon juice

Skewers - I use metal, but wood will work just fine, just be sure to soak them in water first for at least an hour or the grill will incinerate them.

Skewers Ready

For the dip, place the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer, set over a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in the fridge for 8-24 hours.  When done, discard the liquid in the bowl.  Process all of the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Transfer the dip to a bowl, cover with wrap and allow to refrigerate for at least an hour.

Mix together the marinade ingredients and place in a gallon size zip lock bag.  Prepare the lamb.

Sliced Lamb

Be sure to really trim out the fat.  I got lazy a few times and cursed myself for not doing a better job during prep.  Place the lamb in the bag with the marinade, force out all of the air and seal.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for as long as you can, up to 24 hours.

Lamb Marinade

When done marinating, remove the lamb from the bag and pat dry.  The leftover marinade should be thrown away.

Thread equal part lamb, peppers and onion on to the skewers.  ATK actually told me what numbers to place on each skewer.  Contrary to popular belief, I'm not that anal.  Do what works for you.  Shoot for "visual appealing" and not "assembled by a 1st grader" unless, of course, your 1st grader is actually helping.

Loaded Skewers

Prepare the grill for direct high cooking.  The lamb will cook hot and fast and is much better on the "rare" side of the doneness scale.

Touching Flame

Figure about 7-12 minutes total cooking time.  They will need to be rotated several times during the process.  Medium rare is 120-125 F and medium, a little higher, 130-135 F.

Remove from the grill when done and allow to rest for a few minutes.  Serve immediately.

Lamb Kabobs

The dip was phenomenal and worked great with the lamb.  Although this recipe may have some long marinade times built in, prep goes pretty fast and they are cooked before you know it.  If you have the ability to plan ahead in the kitchen, unlike me, they would make a great weeknight dinner.  It's lamb.  I love it.

Monday, February 06, 2012

What's on the Grill #238: Fontina & Proscuitto Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Yes, another stuffed chicken breast post.  I was going to lead off with some breast jokes to break the ice, but my Mom reads this stuff.  Now don't get me wrong, I'd love for her to call me, but I prefer it not be about the content about the blog and my bad sense of humor.
So anyway, yes stuffed chicken breasts.  When it comes to grilling chicken breasts, stuffing them is the only way I find them palatable and if someone else in the house didn't want them, I would never make them.  So, to help me "get by", I've made a new chicken breast requirement…they must come from a chicken I dismantle.  I figure if I can't work stock and  soup into the mx, I'm not pushing myself hard enough.
The Split
It really makes no sense in my mind to just buy boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Cutting up a whole chicken is easier, cheaper and often times, I find has better breasts then those already butchered.
One caveat.  It can be a bit of challenge to play with poultry and simultaneously not cross contaminate everything in the kitchen. By "everything", I mean beer, as everything else can wait the 10 minutes it takes to butcher a bird.  My solution is simple, even if my Dad thinks it set the beer world back several decades.
Break
So, after a few wacks of the knife and sips of the straw, I had a cut up chicken.
Chicken Pieces
This recipe calls just for the breasts.  However, I grilled all off of the chicken, which I later pulled from the bone to use through out the week for lunch.  The bones and scraps were then saved for chicken stock turn soup I made the next day.
Grilled Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Prosciutto & Fontina
Adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook
4 chicken breasts
4 T unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
4 t chopped fresh tarragon
2 ounces fontina cheese, rind removed & cut into 4 sticks
4 thin slices prosciutto
Cut a horizontal pocket in each of the breasts, ensuring to not cut all of the way through and leaving about a 1/2 of flesh on the three "non pocket" sides.
Next…and this takes a little planning ahead, brine the chicken.  Take 2 quarts of cold water and mix in 1/4 cup of kosher salt into a large container, bowl or bag.
Briney Dip
Submerge the chicken into the brine mixture and allow to sit at least an hour, preferably more.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the butter, tarragon and shallot.  Next, wrap your fontina cheese with the proscuitto.  I thought this idea was pretty ingenious.  All too often, stuffed cheese flees grilled food like rats on a sinking ship.  The proscuitto helps dam up the escape route, which is better for your grill and for dinner.
Fontina & Prosciutto
Prep the grill for indirect medium.  Remove the  chicken breasts from the brine.  Rinse well and pat dry and season with salt and pepper.  Spread some of the butter mixture on the inside of each breast and then stuff with the proscuitto/fontina wrap.
In the Pocket
There are several ways to close a stuffed chicken breast.
Close the Pocket
Although after gnawing on one too many toothpicks through the years, I think twine is the easiest and depending on your chewing habits, probably the safest too.
Tie the Pocket
Take three pieces of cooking twine and wrap and truss the breasts.  If you have done your job correctly, nothing should escape.
Take the breasts to the grill and start them initially over direct medium heat, about 5-6 minutes a side.  From there, move to indirect heat and finish cooking until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.
Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Is there a game tonight?

Apparently there is some large sporting event planned for later this evening…or at least that's what I determined based upon the number of people shopping at the grocery store yesterday.  This time of year, large crowds at Kroger tend to mean the pending arrival of "white death".  Although since I noticed no one buying milk or bread, I concluded the mass of humanity was stocking up because of the Super Bowl.

Even though I am not the biggest sports fan in the world, I do tend to enjoy any event that happens to include food and beer.  So yes, I will be watching the Super Bowl.  As the hours tick down to game time, there is still time to fire up the grill, head out to the store and participate in your own local grocery flash mob.

When you do, here are some last minute snack ideas:

Wings

Grilled Wings with Asian Zing Sauce

Nothing says game day food like chicken wings.  In fact, my friend Todd at Boston Beer has a great post on his game day wings, which I am making for myself this year.  Here are some other ideas for you from the APP archives:

Grilled Asian Zing Wings

Drunk 'n Planked Wings

Grilled Honey Mustard Whiskey Injected Wings

Fatty

Hot cheese, coming out.

If pork was an abundant part of the early Egyptian diet, I would fully expect the fatty to be mentioned in hieroglyphics on the wall of some pyramid.  It's that important, that good and also the official "food" of Brew Day.  What else is there to say?

The Stuffed Fatty

Health(ier) Stuff

Portabellos on Plank

Everything served for the big game doesn't have to kill you by the time baseball's spring training starts.  Here are some final last minute ideas.  Enjoy the game and happy grilling!

Grilled Eggplant Stacks

Feta & Herb Planked Portabellos

Goat Cheese Stuffed Pepperdews