Thursday, January 31, 2013

New Albion Ale

While there is no doubt the current craft beer revolution rests at the mash paddle of Boston Beer's, Jim Koch, there are pursuits dating back even further.  Mr. Peabody, set the wayback machine for 1976, for it's there we find Jack McAuliffe and his New Albion Ale.

New Albion Ale

In 1976, I was 4 and looking for…well, I'm not really sure, but Jack McAuliffe, navy veteran, knew what he was looking for, better beer.

While stationed in Scotland, Jack gained an appreciation for good beer and soon thereafter, delved into homebrewing and eventually started the nation's first craft brewery, the New Albion Brewing Company.

Although Jack's brewery was forced to close in 1982 due to a weak economy, his early efforts in pursuit of craft beer are felt today.

"Jack was brewing craft beer when nothing was easy.  Nobody made small scale brewing equipment, nobody waned to invest, retailers and distributors didn't want your beer, drinkers couldn't understand why the beer didn't taste "normal."  It was so different from today," says Samuel Adams founder Jim Koch.

Fast forward thirty years.

Jim Koch describes New Albion Ale as "the original craft beer", which is why, 30 years later, he invited Jack to Boston in July of 2012 to brew his flagship beer.

New Albion Ale

By today's standard, New Albion is fairly "normal", which goes to show just how far American craft beer has come in the last 30 years.  The beer poured with a small head that dissipated quickly.  It had a malty, bready taste and a really nice hop undercurrent that started at the middle and carried all the way though to the end, thanks to the cascade hops.  This was a  really enjoyable session-able beer.  By today's standards, New Albion is fairly standard, but when viewed through the lens of the past, I can see why it was so radical and different.  

This is good…and important. It shows just how far we have come and if it wasn't for the pioneering spirit of Jack McAuliffe and Jim Koch, it would have never happened.

New Albion Ale is available now, for a limited time.  If you can, pick up a six pack and experience the history of craft beer.  My locals have it, I hope yours do too.

Note: Samuel Adams provided me with a sample of New Albion and if they had not, I would have found my own.

Monday, January 28, 2013

What's on the Grill #261: Grilled Chicken in Red Wine

Confession time.  Outside of major holidays, or incredibly special days, I have a hard time planning meals well in advance.  Someone who happens to live under this roof might even declare my planning of any meal is hard.  This charge, however, I deny.  My flag day meals are always planned weeks in advance.

Truthfully, it is only those big events I really hunker down for and plan out days, if not weeks, ahead.  This past Christmas is a great example.

The lack of marinades in my writing is an unintended consequence of this whole planning thing.  My inspiration for dinner typically comes the day of.  This works fine for the one or two hour marinade, but unless we are talking fish, I never feel those "fast" marinades amount to much.  This recipe, for Chicken in Red Wine, reminds me of two things: one, marinades need time to to marinade…like at least a day, and two, I need to plan them more often.  

Grilled Chicken Marinated in Red Wine Sauce

Grilled Chicken in Red Wine
Adapted from Weber's Real Grilling

1 large onion, quartered
6 large garlic cloves
1 tin anchovy filets, drained
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves
Salt & pepper
1 bottle of dry red wine

1 whole chicken 4-5 pounds 

Processing Food

Place the onion, garlic, anchovies...


Yes, anchovies….1/2 cup of oil, parsley, rosemary, and 1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper, into a food processor.  Process until the onion is finely chopped.

Food Processing

Prep the chicken

The chicken is grilled split, so in order to get there, a few alterations need to be made.

Remove the chicken backbone, just like in the beginning steps of spatchcocking.

Cutting out chicken backbone

Using poultry shears, cut up one side of the chicken's backbone and then,

Removing chicken backbone

cut up the other until the backbone can be removed.

Spread the chicken open like a book.

Split chicken

Remove the wing tips.
Chicken wingtip removal
The next step is to split the chicken. With a sharp knife, cut down one side of the breast bone, separating the bird in two.
Chicken breast bone removal
Then, repeat the same process on the other piece of chicken and completely remove the bone.
Prepped Chicken
In order to maximize a marinade, I use a vacuum sealer…which, I happened to acquire over the holidays.  I absolutely love it.  The FoodSaver 3860 has both the traditional sealer mechanism, as well as an accessory port sealer for canisters.  The accessory port works with a marinade container and has a marinade function, that pulses over time to pull the marinade into the meat.  Although I like my FoodSaver, the Weston Sealer, owned by my friend Gregg, is out of this world.
For larger cuts, like this chicken recipe, I make my own vacuum bag.  
Marinade in bag
No matter what type of bag you are using, add the marinade, chicken, and pour in the wine.   Refrigerate for 24 hours.
In this case, once everything was added, I vacuum sealed the bag shut.
Vacuum Seal
Deprived of oxygen and packed full of wine, the bag was off to the fridge to work its magic.
Chicken marinading
The Next Day...
Well, I planned the meal in advance, but I certainly didn't plan the weather.
The sunset was beautiful.
A cold night to grill
The 14 degrees Fahrenheit on the thermometer was not.
14 F
No worries, just wear a hat.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry.  The marinade should be discarded.  Once the chicken is dry, rub with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Prep the grill for medium direct and indirect heat. Because of the weather, I passed on firing up charcoal and went right to the Summit.  For indirect and direct heat, I fired up burners 1, 2, and 6 and left 3, 4 and 5 off.
With the grill at proper temp, about 350 F, cook the chicken skin side up over indirect heat for approximately 40-50 minutes.  
For crispier skin, flip the chicken over and grill over direct heat for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Once done, remove from the grill.  Allow to rest a few minutes, then carve and serve.
Grilled Chicken Marinated in Red Wine Sauce
I have to say, this was absolutely incredible.  The long vacuum sealed marinade worked like a champ, as every bite was full of flavor.  This dish was easy to make.  All it took was a little planning.  Something I need to work on.
Grilled Chicken Marinated in Red Wine Sauce

Monday, January 21, 2013

What's on the Grill #260: Grilled Veal Chop with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I've mentioned it before.  Thursdays are my night to stop by Jerardi's and pick up a decadent piece of meat or fish.  Both are delivered only once a week by different purveyors.  So, the window for a prime selection is usually limited, as everything goes fast.  

My go to Thursday night food stop. #Dayton

More often that not, I'm spoiled for choice.  However, on those rare occasions I can't decide, there is always one cut I turn to: the bone in veal chop aka the tomahawk.

Eric's meat comes from Michael's Meats out of Cincinnati.  All of the it comes vacuum packed for individual servings and is mostly sold directly to restaurants.

Veal Chop & Filet from Michael's Meats

Note: Yes, that is a veal chop on the left and a prime tenderloin filet on the right.  Zoë has a hard enough time not imagining the cow (which in her world probably sings songs & talks) when eating a steak, so a "young cow" piece of meat is completely out of the question.  I don't even ask.

Grilled Veal Chop with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Grilled Veal Chop with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
Sauce adapted from Weber's Real Grilling


1 large red bell pepper
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T chopped fresh basil
2 t minced garlic
1/4 t kosher salt

Veal Chop
Salt & Pepper

Red Pepper a Roasting

No matter the final use, one of my favorite guilty grill pleasures is a roasted red pepper.  Whether it's for a sauce, salad, or pizza topping, the amazing transformation process of roasting a red pepper to its sweet finish is truly magical.  It's a little bit of effort, but a whole lot of worth.

Over high heat, roast the pepper directly over the flames.

Roasted Red Pepper

Rotate every few minutes.  After about 15 minutes, the pepper should be black and charred all over.  Remove from the grill, place in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.

Steaming Pepper

The goal is to allow the pepper to steam.  In turn, the skin pulls away from the pepper.

Removing Roasted Skin

After about ten minutes, remove the pepper from the bowl.  Remove the skin from the pepper.  Cut off the tops and bottoms, remove the seeds, the ribs, and roughly chop.

Sliced Griled Pepper

Add the pepper and remaining sauce ingredients to a food processor.  Process until smooth and then refrigerate until ready to use.

Into the food processor

Remove the veal from the fridge about 20-30 minute before grilling.  

When working with a really good piece of meat, I like to keep my rubs simple.  In this case, liberally season the veal with just salt, pepper, and paprika.  I call it salt, pepper, and "a third".  The third can be whatever.

Veal Chop on the Grill

Grill the veal over direct medium to medium high heat for about 12 minutes, turning once.  I like mine medium rare.  Use an instant read thermometer to double-check and prepare to pull from the grill around 130 F.  Once done, tent the veal with foil and allow to rest a few minutes.

Griled Asparagus

Looking for an easy side?  Wrap asparagus with prosciutto.  For that matter, wrap anything with proscuitto.  The layer of salty protein kicks asparagus up a few notches.

On the malty beverage side, I had an extra bottle of Samuel Adams White Christmas from their holiday mix pack.  Although winter often screams porter or stout, this spiced white ale does a nice job with the veal.  

Samuel Adams White Christmas

With the veal done, vegetables cooked, and beer poured, it's dinner time.  Cheers.  

Now pass the red pepper sauce.

Grilled Veal Chop with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Sunday, January 13, 2013

What's on the Grill #259: Glazed Christmas Ham

I love the challenge of cooking for a group.  Whether it's just another couple, the backyard brewers, or in the case of this past Christmas, a gaggle of English visitors, the undertaking, albeit daunting, is always a thrill.  

This was a once in the lifetime Christmas for Zoë.  We hosted her parents, aunt & uncle, and brother's family.  All in all, ten people for our table of eight and three of the eight had never been to the US.

With a lot of time to plan, we decided fairly early on the main course would consist of ham and turkey.  The turkey was a no-brainer.  It was hitting the rotisserie.  The ham, however, was different.

In years past, I've always had a cured ham.  This year I wanted something new, so I opted for a 15 pound fresh ham.

Fresh Ham

All hams are not created equal….

My fresh ham is really a fresh pork leg, or rather, the uncured rear leg of a hog.  The process of dry curing (what I'm not doing) or wet curing/brine (what I am doing) turns the rear leg into a ham.  Without the cure, smoking a fresh leg yields what is in essence, a large pork roast.

I ordered my ham from a local farm and had it deboned.  Although the bone adds more to the presentation, I wanted to minimize the carving hassle.

Sliced Smoked Ham

Holiday Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze
Adapted from Charcuterie

12 to 15 pound fresh ham


1 gallon water
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
2 cups brown sugar
8 tsp of pink salt


1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tbsp minced garlic

This recipe is dead simple, but it does require some planning.  Notably, refrigerator space to store the ham and brine.

Mix the brine ingredients together in a container large enough to hold the ham.  Keep the ham submerged in the brine for 6 to 8 days.

Ham in brine

I used a plastic bag from the butcher and then doubled it up with a trash bag.

Since it is the dead of winter here and I refused to empty out the beer fridge, I opted to brine in a cooler.

Ham in cooler

Our unattached garage is downright frigid, so with the ham packed in a cooler with ice packs, I had no worries sticking this thing outside and keeping it under a safe 40 degrees F.  If it was summer, I would have to rethink things.

Since I was feeding the masses, I opted to help out my game by smoking the ham a day before.  It was much easier warming up the cooked ham on Christmas, versus trying to correctly time its finish on the grill.  So, depending on what your plans are, remove the ham from the fridge/ice chest 24 hours before smoking.

Rinse the ham under cold water and pat dry. Return to the fridge uncovered for 12-24 hours.

On cook day, prep the grill for indirect low (200-225 F) and smoke the ham for 2 hours. For wood, I used hickory.

Meanwhile, mix the glaze ingredients in a bowl.

Smoked Ham

At the two hour mark, apply the glaze to the ham, being sure to save some glaze for later.

Glazing Ham

Lower the lid and continue to smoke the ham until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 F, about another 3-4 hours.

Ham: Just about done

When the ham is done, remove from the grill and cover with the remaining glaze.  Place the ham in the fridge to store.  

Since I was smoking a day early, I had a problem with smoking the next day's dinner and having nothing to show for it.

Best Buddies

Thankfully, I smoked spareribs to see me through.

Smoked Spareribs on Kettle

On Christmas day, I returned the ham to the Saffire over indirect low to reheat.  I'm glad it was just a "reheat", as it made operation turkey so much easier.

Speaking of, the turkey was brined a day in advance.

Turkey in brine

And then sent to the Summit's Rotisserie to cook.

Roto Turkey

When the turkey was done, the ham was heated, and then sliced.

Ham, ready for the table

Even with all of those English appetites, we had a ton of leftovers, which is good.  The next best thing after hot ham and turkey is next day cold ham and turkey sandwiches.

Most importantly, it was great to have the extended family under our roof for the holidays.  It was a once in a lifetime Christmas and a little bit of meal timing/planning made it all that more enjoyable.

Christmas Plate Settting

Saturday, January 05, 2013

What's on the Grill #258: Slow Cooked Pork with Cabbage, Apples, & Cider

Hello, 2013.  It's hard to believe you are here, mostly because I have no idea where the last few weeks of 2012 went.

We experienced an Isle of Wight invasion for the holidays, with Zoë's family coming stateside for Christmas.  We went from a house population of two to nine.  It was crazy, it was fun, and it was busy. We also cooked.  A lot.  

Of all the dinners we worked through, a few of them are worth sharing.  They are also the only meals I had time to photograph.  The first is a grilling take on slow cooked pork, thanks to my friends at Angry Orchard.

Cider Braised Pork with Cabbage & Onion

Slow Cooked Pork with Cabbage, Apples, & Cider

Adapted from Chef Andrew Urbanetti

2 tbls canola oil
Bone-in, skinless pork shoulder, aka Boston Butt, approximately  5 pounds
2 large, white onions, medium dice
6 garlic cloves, smashed
6 thyme sprigs
2 bottles of Angry Orchard Dry Cider
4 ounces apple cider vinegar
1 small red cabbage, quartered, cored, and julienned
2 green delicious apples, peeled and chopped
4 tbls unsalted butter
salt and pepper

Cider & Ingredients

Chief Urbanetti's recipe calls for using a dutch oven in the oven.  As I tend to do, I take cooking outside and forgo the oven for the grill.  Either way will work, as would the substitution of a slow cooker, or crock pot, for the dutch oven.  

Bottles in Hand

Pre-heat grill to indirect-medium low, about 250 F.

In a dutch oven, heat canola oil over high heat until shimmering.  The grill's side burner works great.

Generously season pork with salt and pepper.  

Boston Butt

Brown on all sides.  Remove and set aside.

Pork in Dutch Oven

Carefully pour off remaining oil.

Onion, Garlic, & Thyme

Add onions, garlic, and thyme; lower heat to medium and cook until lightly browned and softened, about 5 minutes.

Pouring Cider

Raise heat to high, add cider and cider vinegar, and scrape up any remaining brown bits on the bottom of the pan. 

Cider Simmer

Carefully place pork in dutch oven, cover, and place on grill.

Pork 'n Cider

Cook for about 5 hours, checking every so often. 

Dutch Oven on Saffire

Pork is ready when it falls apart easily with a fork.  When ready, remove dutch oven from grill, and carefully lift pork out; set aside. Remove and discard any large sprigs of thyme.

Sliced Cabbage

Add cabbage to the pan, and place back on the grill, with the dutch oven uncovered, but the grill lid down. When pork is cool enough to handle, remove bone (it should slide out very easily), and roughly chop meat, removing any large chunks of fat.

Remove dutch oven from grill, add apples, and whisk in butter until incorporated.  Add chopped pork.  Season to taste and serve immediately.

Pork & Cabbage

The pork was delicious.  The sweet, yet dry, cider worked perfectly and the addition of cabbage and apples was a special treat.  I've braised pork before, but have never used cabbage or apples.  I wish I had.  It's a great addition.

Anytime you make something with 5 pounds of pork, you are talking meals, not just a meal.  It's a good thing too, for when feeding hungry jet lagged English, it's great to have some good leftovers in the fridge.

Note: This is another post made possible by the good people, and most excellent cider makers, at Angry Orchard.