Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

For this edition of RWW, I have two observations: A grill isn't just for grilling, especially on Thai night

Because a grill isn't alwasy for grilling

And, I love grilled garlic.

Grilled Garlic

That is all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I went to Alefest and left a Brewpub Owner

Saturday marked the culmination of Dayton Beer Week with the annual craft beer event, AleFest.  


Nestled within the grounds of the historic Carillon Park, AleFest shared space with an old time baseball game, the original 1905 Wright Flyer III, and throngs of beer lovers.

Line to Alefest

In fact, when we pulled up just past opening time, the lines to get in weren't just long, they were staggering.  Thankfully, things moved quick and I can about guarantee that when everyone left at the fest's conclusion three hours later, the opening lines were a distant memory.

Tasting Glass Pickup

As we made our way through the opening gates, we were handed our tasting glass and tickets.  We were off.

Waiting under the tent

Drew arrived before us.  He had a plan and by the time we had rolled through, he had already hit the highlights and cheerfully passed on his reconnaissance.  The rest of us were less prepared and although armed with a map, opted for the leisurely random stroll.

Tables of Beer

Although AleFest was packed, and at times difficult to navigate, everything moved smooth.  As history has proven before, our first actual taste is usually a big miss.  One year we inadvertently stumbled into the Pabst Blue Ribbon line.  What a way to start.  This year it was worse: Peroni.  What are the odds?

Even with a rickety start, things picked up fast.  Outside the huge and varied amount of beer, there was a lot of cask this year, too.

Heavy Seas Cask

Anytime I see a tapped firkin, it's a moment of joy.  When I received my pour of Heavy Seas Loose Canon American Hop3 IPA, I could smell the hops before I even had the glass in my hand.  That's a fresh beer.


We visited with New Holland, Troegs,

The pour

and Sam Adams, as well as several, several others.

Samuel Adams

Gary equated a trip into the tasting lines like a bombing run.  How much fun was he having?

I had

Yeah, "that much".

Tasting Chit Chat

As we worked our way through the grounds, we happily ran into Maureen & Brian from the Fifth Street Brewpub.  Ohio, and especially Dayton, is undergoing a beer renaissance.  In just the last year, at least four brewpubs have either opened, or slated for opening, in the coming months.  The Fifth Street Brewpub is one of them.  However, unlike the rest, the Fifth Street Brewpub is a cooperative.  It's the first in Ohio and as of yesterday, we are all now "owners".  

Initially hoping for 300 charter members by the end of July, here it is in late August and they are already over 800.

Buying into a brewpub

It's not everyday you can buy an interest in a brewpub for $100.  The idea is novel, contagious, and very exciting.  The membership drive is still open, so if you want in on a pretty amazing adventure, check out their website and sign up.  You will be in great beer loving company.

We had an absolute fabulous afternoon, even though it was unbelievably hot.  I found sweat in places I didn't know existed.  

Looking for shade

The grounds of Carillon make a convenient and wonderful destination.  Not only do these memorial grounds mark Dayton's rich innovative and engineering history, they set the stage for the legacy of beer in the Miami Valley.   Plans are in the work for a $2 million historic brewery on this very site.  

Deeds Carillon

One last thing.  What would be a group shot without a photo bomb?  Well, ask the guy on the left.

Photo Bombed!

Thankfully, he was nice enough to get our requisite group shot in and for that, we are appreciative.  

The Society and its Ladies

Dayton Beer Week has been amazing.  We now look forward to doing it all again in 2013.

Dayton Beer Week

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What's on the Grill #251: Bone-in Filet with Bacon, Whiskey, Peppercorn Sauce

When someone says, "it's magic!", I don't envision coins pulled out of an ear or a lovely lady cut in half.  No, when I hear those special words, I think of one thing: a bone-in filet.  

Now, I know you are saying to yourself, "how exactly is that magical?".  After all, it's a piece of meat...with a bone attached to it.  OK, I will give you the observation, but allow me to repeat myself: a bone-in filet.  When I get excited about bone-in meats, I'm not talking about t-bones, porterhouses, rib eyes or strips, I'm not talking about the unicorn of bone-in cuts, the mystical, magical, filet.

Boneless & Bone-in Filets

A bone-in filet is actually a porterhouse steak cut in half.  Part of the cut becomes the bone-in filet and the other half becomes a bone-in strip steak.  Above, the bone-in filet is on the right and a "regular - lesser" filet is on the left.

Personally, I make a big deal out of bone-in filets because I almost never encounter them.  Except, of course, when I stumble into my favorite neighborhood, wine, beer & fine meat store, Jerardi's.  Owned and operated by the rocking blues man himself, Eric Jerardi, I thank my lucky stars he has such a passion for fine fish and meat.  One day a week Eric gets in a supply of the some of the finest meat and fish available in the Dayton area: dry aged, prime, and awesome.

So, as I perused the weekly selection, there it was, the unicorn: the bone-in filet.

Bone-in Filet with Whiskey, Bacon, Peppercorn Sauce

Bone-in Filet (and "lesser filet") with Bacon, Whiskey, Peppercorn Sauce
From Another Pint Please

2 beef filets (with or without the bone)
salt & pepper 

1 slice of bacon, chopped.
1 Tbls olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbls peppercorns, crushed
1/4 cup of whiskey
3 Tbls butter
3/4 cup of heavy cream 

For cuts this big, I recommend a reverse sear.  Yes, you could char the hell out of it with direct heat, but to get that uniform medium rare center, the reverse sear works really well.  The bone-in filet pictured is over a pound in weight.  That's a big fat piece of meat.

Prep the grill for indirect medium heat.  Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least thirty minutes prior to grilling.  Salt and pepper the meat generously.

Salting Meat

Place the meat on the indirect grates and close the lid.  Next, ready the sauce.

In a medium size pan pan over medium heat, render bacon until cooked, but not super crisp.  Add the olive oil, garlic and onion, cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Next, add the crushed pepper.  To crush the peppercorn, the underside of a heavy cast iron skillet works great.

Grab your whiskey.  I opted for Jack Daniels, as everything else on hand I would prefer to drink.

Jack Daniels Optic

Add the whiskey to the pan and allow to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The whiskey will cook down and get absorbed by the onion.  Add the butter and 3/4 cup heavy cream.  Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes, then keep warm until ready to serve.

Sauce in Pan

In the meantime, the steaks have been cooking outside, hopefully.  An instant read thermometer is your best weapon to ensure reverse sear success.  I'm looking for medium rare, which in order to achieve, is about 40-45 minutes, or when the internal thermometer reads about 120-125 F.  When it does, remove the steaks from the grill and crank the burners to high, or if grilling on charcoal, place directly over the lit coals and fully open the air vents.

Steaks on Grill

Drop the steaks back down on the hot grates and sear for about a minute a side.

A quick aside...

During the last few minutes of cooking, a great side is some stir fried chard, kale, or whatever green you have close at hand.

Oil in Wok

Heat some oil (I used peanut) in a wok.  Once hot and shimmering, toss in some diced garlic and ginger.  Give the pan a quick toss and then throw in the chopped greens.  Allow to cook until bright green and wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

Chard in Wok

OK, where was I?  Oh yes, dinner.

Plate the steaks, plate the veg, and top with the sauce.

Bone-in Filet with Whiskey, Bacon, Peppercorn Sauce

The reverse sear worked just as expected and somehow, I ate the whole thing.

Bone-in Filet with Whiskey, Bacon, Peppercorn Sauce

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Backyard Brewers: Assemble!

This weekend marks the beginning of Dayton Beer Week.  This third annual local celebration of all things craft beer includes 80 plus tastings, events, and outings before culminating with AleFest next Saturday afternoon.  For beer lovers, it is an amazing itinerary and quite the week.  To start things off right, we organized a Brew Night to kick off the celebration a little early.

If you tap it they will come

As with any brew day, or in this case, brew night, two things are required: great beer and great food.  The food started early, as I placed a brisket on the Saffire in the morning before I left for work.  The rest, including some beer can chicken, came together as the night went on.

Four of us brewed and as tradition/habit dictates, we settled into our routines and places.

Crushing Grain

Zach and Dave worked the grain crusher and Drew, with his fierce look of determination, started his mash.


Greg cranked out a new burner and was by far the most expeditious.  This is less notable, and more expected, since he's the engineer of the society.

Greg and his kettle

As is normal for me, I ran around, snapped pictures, and generally lagged behind everyone else.

Staring at Grain

As we look back through the years of getting together, it's been fun to watch what what constitutes BYOB.  Whereas six packs where common place in the beginning, they have almost been entirely replaced by bombers, growlers and most importantly, kegs.  If you aren't grunting as you carry 5 gallons of beer into the backyard, you really aren't following proper BYOB guidelines.

Outdoor Beer Dispensing

It's fair to say that when we get together, we break some sort of rule or practice of common sense.  For instance, operating a hot propane burner on a wood deck.  It's not every day you watch sap sucked out of wood.

Hot Deck!

At this rate, Brew Days may permanently segue into Brew Nights, which almost makes them Man Nights.  The only difference between the two is with Brew Nights there isn't a costume theme and we are actually doing something productive, like brewing.  The differences end there.

Beer & Cigar

Oh, there is one more difference from other Brew Days: a peanut gallery.

Peanut Gallery

Yes, a few of the wives decided to enjoy the evening from the sidelines…mostly filling their time watching our ensemble and shouting out the occasional wisecrack.

Sparge Water

As the brewing continued on, dinner was finally served.

Slicing Brisket

Although the brisket was not one of my best, that didn't stop it from being devoured.  Dave also added a beer can chicken into the mix.  It turned out great.

Beer Can Chicken

The only downside was having to use a can of Budweiser to prop it up.

Slicing Chicken

Speaking of beer, I set out to brew something for Christmas, but ended up brewing a pale ale.  I'm running super low on the homebrew front, so I have the feeling I will be adding in some solo brews in the near future.  This batch necessitated a new 50 pound bag of 2-row, so between my bulk base grain purchase and the never ending mix of left over grains in the basement, I've got the makings of something.  Now just to figure out what.

Eventually the boils subsided and the fermenters were filled.  As our "summer of brewing" turned into a summer of "not brewing", the early sunset and cool evening provided the perfect ending to our gathering.


There is no doubt fall is around the corner.  Hopefully it will yield more opportunities to brew, for whenever our schedules allow, if there is time to brew, the Society will assemble.

The Backyard Brewers

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Relatively Wordless Wednesday: Thursday Edition

Sorry this is a day late.  I've been battling Time Warner since Monday.  We finally "cut the cord".  Unfortunately, Time Warner can't differentiate cords.  They cut them all.  As easy it could be to turn this into a rant.  I won't.  Sure, it took 3 days to quasi remedy our Internet service and yes, I made a new friend in their upper level tech support who "hooked me up" with a reconnect, but I'll save my true angst for the letter I'm composing.  It is well deserved.

In more positive news, I spent one of the hours I was on hold working on a find-what's-edible-in-the-fridge-and-stuff-it-in-a-pepper-and-grill-it-dinner.  The result was a refreshingly delicious stuffed pepper.  Although Relatively Wordless Wednesday is not only relatively wordless, but recipe-less too, I promise to follow up in the near future.  They were that good.  In the meantime, enjoy Wednesday's dinner while I enjoy having the Internet.

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Grilled Stuffed Peppers

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Fat Jack

When it comes to beer, my favorite time of year is fall.  As the nights turn cool and daylight starts to dwindle, nothing gets me more excited than watching my local fill their shelves with style after style of rich malty fall beers.  Drinking IPAs all year round (not there's anything worth with that…) is kind of like living year round in the Caribbean.  It's always the same thing: hot.  

In Ohio, we are lucky enough to have drastic changes in seasons.  Summer is hot, fall is cool, winter is unbelievable cold, and spring is nonexistent because it's so damn hot again.  Beer is the same way.  The seasonal brewing rhythm makes old beers new again.  I love it.

Just like this year's summer, this year's fall beers have arrived early.  Unlike the summer heat we've endured, I'm not complaining.  Along with my usual favorites, like the absolutely fabulous Octoberfest from Samuel Adams, my favorite Boston brewery has launched something new from their Small Batch Series, and it's right up my ally, a double pumpkin ale aptly named, Fat Jack.

Fat Jack

Each barrel of Fat Jack is brewed with 28 pounds of pumpkins.  Yeah, 28 pounds.  

Samuel Adams Fat Jack

Pumpkin beers have a special place in my heart.  Whenever I see one sitting on a shelf, I snatch it up.  Some are great, some are not.  Fat Jack fits its bulbous personality squarely in the former category.  It's probably my new favorite.

Fat Jack - Samuel Adams

My tasting notes started and ended with one word: stellar.  There was pumpkin all over the place and once the initial wave of pumpkin died down, it was quickly followed by tastes of cinnamon, all spice, and maple syrup.  Next, another small wave of hops, and then more spice.  I'm not kidding, this is really great stuff.

If you love pumpkin beers, I urge you to seek Fat Jack out.  I stumbled on Tasman Red, another Small Batch release, on draft earlier this year.  I will seek out Fat Jack.

Note: Samuel Adams provided me with this bottle of Fat Jack.  I hate them for this.  I now want to buy a case.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Charmoula Planked Chicken: What's on the Grill #250

Charmoula is a North African marinade: slightly pungent, spicy and very, very good.  Although I wish I could say the inspiration for this recipe came from my travels in North Africa, it really stems from my much more frequent trip across the kitchen. For there, high above the microwave is the cookbook shelf and there, nestled between Ted Reader and Steven Raichlen is Adler & Fertig's Techniques for Planking.

I don't know how many times I can turn to this book and pull out something that is really very easy, incredibly good and best yet, involves a plank.  Well, I really don't know, but I'm going to keep trying.

Charmoula Chicken

Charmoula Planked Chicken
Based on the recipe from Techniques for Planking
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbls coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbls coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 olive oil
1 Tbls ground cumin
1 Tbls paprika
1 Tsp kosher salt
1/2 Tsp ground red pepper
1 roaster chicken, butchered
wood planks, soaked in water at least an hour.  I went with my usual cedar.

Soaking Planks

Prepare the charmoula marinade.

Charmoula Ingredients

First, add the garlic, parsley, and cilantro to a food processor.  Mix.  Once combined, add the additional ingredients and pulse until smooth.

Charmoula Sauce

The original recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts, as the skinless breasts work well by applying maximum surface area to the wood planks.  However, when it comes to buying chicken, I find it just as easy to butcher an entire bird.  If I want to yank the breast skin, I can.  I usually don't, but in this case it made good sense. Besides, since I was planking all parts of the bird, I had plenty of skin elsewhere to enjoy.

Butchered Chicken

Butcher the bird and place in a shallow container, or plastic bag.  Smear with half the charmoula sauce, cover the dish, and refrigerate for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.  Cover and refrigerate the remaining charmoula sauce.

Spreading the Sauce

Although the marinade makes a lasting effect worked directly into the flesh, it is just as divine coating the skin.  I do love my skin...

When ready to grill, prep the grill for a two zone fire.  Coals on one side and nothing on the other.

Hot Coals

The idea is to start the planks directly over the coals and then slide them over to the indirect side before they catch complete fire and incinerate.  Although you are sure to impress your guests with a mighty conflagration, it's a pretty good way of having to call up carry out too.
With the grill is ready, plank the chicken.

Prepped Chicken on Planks

Add the planked chicken to the grill, directly over the coals, and close the lid.

Weber grill puffing smoke

Planks on the Grill

It is times like these I'm thankful for the 26 inch kettle.  The extra room just comes in handy and saves me from having to fire up a second grill.

Next, watch for smoke.  Depending on how thick the planks are depends on how fast they catch fire.  When you see the smoke start to stream out of the grill, lift the lid, and survey the scene.  Once things start to look a little "dicey" for the planks, slide them over to the indirect side to finish the cook.

Planked Chicken

Extinguish any burning planks with a little bit of water.  Yes, you may have a beer in your hands, but unless your house is getting ready to burn down, get some water.   Consider that your PSA of the day.

Smoking Planks

Overall, plan on about 30-40 minutes of grilling, or until the internal temperature of the breast equals 160 F.

Remove the planks from the grill and then serve the chicken with the remaining charmoula sauce.

Charmoula Chicken

Whether it's the skinless breast, or the coated thigh, there is something here for chicken lovers of all stripes.  Planking is literally foolproof and if it's not in your grilling arsenal, it should be.  So, next time you are making one of those delicious weeknight birds, consider saving money and buying a whole roaster, consider throwing it on a plank, and consider a culinary trip to North Africa.  It's success all the way around.

So, what's the last thing you planked on the grill?  Is there something you want to try on a plank, but have yet to?  Let me know in the comments!