Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's on the Grill #267: Chicken Grillsicles with Rum Butter Sauce

When it comes to grilling chicken on a stick, it's usually Zoë's idea.  At the mere suggestion of a skewered recipe, I complain, I drag my feet, I belittle all that is boneless and skinless and in the end, I usually end up liking whatever it is she wants to make.  Go figure.

In this case she hit the mark so well, I may have to re-think my immediate skewered chicken aversion.  It really was quite good.  I'm sure the butter, nuts, honey, and rum helped sway me, too.

Chicken Grillsicles with Rum Butter Sauce
Adapted from Ted Reader's King of the Q's Blue Plate BBQ 

Chicken Grillsicles with Rum Butter Sauce

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 tsp your favorite BBQ rub

Rum Butter Sauce 

1/2 cup softened butter
2 t peeled & grated fresh ginger
1 T chopped fresh garlic
1/2 cup peach jam
1/2 cup honey
1 t soy sauce
3 oz dark rum
2 green onions, finely chopped

3 T vegetable oil
2 cups crushed nuts (I used peanuts. I suggest cashews)

Cut up the chicken into large chunks.

Chopping Chicken

Skewer the chicken pieces.

Chicken on the Skewer

Season liberally with the rub.

Rub on Chicken

Be sure to rotate the skewers all the way around.  Rub.  Everywhere.

Rubbed Chicken

Meanwhile, prep the sauce.

Chopping Onion

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a pan over medium heat.

Into the Pot

Slowly heat the sauce, whisking occasionally.  Once the ingredients are warm and combined, remove from heat and seat aside.

Prep the grill for a two zone fire. If cooking with charcoal, move the coals to one side of the grill and leave the other empty.

Two Zone Fire

If grilling on gas, be sure to leave a burner, or burners off, while equally lighting the rest.  Look for medium heat, about 350 F.

Sunset by Kettle

Oil the grill grates.  Grill the chicken over direct heat, searing all sides.  Figure out about 5 minutes total.

Move the chicken to indirect heat, and grill until cooked.  The internal temp should read 170 F, which takes about 20 minutes.   

Now, backup 6 minutes.  Just before taking the chicken off the grill, baste with the sauce.

Baste the Chicken

While basting, take the chopped nuts and spread out across a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil. Baste the chicken again, with a lot of sauce, right before you remove the skewers from the grill.  Place the skewers on the nuts and roll around to completely cover.

Adding the Nuts

Serve immediately.

Chicken Grillsicles with Rum Butter Sauce

I love different textures and the nuts certainly take ye ole chicken skewers to a different level.

Chicken Grillsicles with Rum Butter Sauce

As I mentioned before, I'm sure the boozy sugary baste helped a bit too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's on the Grill #266: Brown Sugar & Bourbon Steaks

When grilling steak, history shows I prefer dry rubs versus wet marinades.

Rubs make a wonderful textured crust.  They are also fast and easy.  Win, win.

Marinades are different.  They take time.  A lot of time and if you skimp on the time, good luck finding a hint of flavor when the steak hits your plate.  If you are going to marinade, do it right and plan ahead.  Note, this is mostly a reminder to me.

Therein lies my fork in the road.  It's the whole "do it right" thing that so often steers me down the rub path.  However, I think I've found a tool to help me take the road last travelled: the vacuum sealer.

It was just recently I applied the vac to a marinade.  It was by far one of the tastiest chickens I've had in a long time.  With success in my rear view mirror, I knew I just had to try a marinade again and when it comes to crazy marinades, I look no further than Ted Reader.

Brown Sugar & Bourbon Steaks
Adapted from Ted Reader's King of the Q's Blue Plate BBQ 

Bourbon Marinated Steak


1/3 cup + 1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup + 1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh thyme
1 t bbq rub (make your own or choose your favorite)
4 thick cut steaks (cut of your choice…as usual, I opted for one filet and one ribeye)


In a large bowl, mix together 2 1/2 cups of water, 1/3 cup of bourbon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, kosher salt, thyme, and rub. 

In goes Thyme

Notice the ice crystals with the thyme in the photo above?  The thyme came direct from the freezer.  I harvested as much as I could in the fall, and pull it out as needed all winter.  It keeps great and is a lot cheaper than having to buy small amounts at the store every week.

With everything in the bowl, stir unit the sugar is dissolved.

Ready to marinade

Pour the marinade over the meat, or if using a plastic bag, add the meat and marinade to the bag and seal, releasing as much air as possible.

Filling the container

Enter the heavy equipment.

steak in marinade

One of the coolest features of my Foodsaver vacuum sealer is the marinade container and function.

The container is slightly recessed at the bottom and has a silicone sealed top.  The top connects to the accessory port on the vacuum sealer.


Once connected, the vacuum sealer goes through a 20 or so minute process of vacuuming "pulsing" as it pulls the marinade into the meat.  

Vacuum Marinade

In theory, you could cook right after the process, but I like to go through the process, re-vacuum, and cook later.  

When ready to grill, remove the steaks from the container.  Rinse them well and dry them even better.  There is nothing worse than trying to grill "wet" meat.  Discard the leftover marinade.

Mix together 1/4 cup bourbon and 1/4 cup brown sugar until dissolved. Set aside.

Grill the steaks over direct high heat.  Depending on how thick the steaks are, leave an area of the grill unlit in case you need to move them to indirect.

Busy Grill

For medium rare, shoot for about 10 minutes, turning once, or until the internal temperature hits about 130 degrees.

Steak and Flame

Remove from the grill and allow to rest.  Serve with the set aside sauce.

Bourbon Marinated Steak

The flavor was simply incredible.  My total non-scientific guess is that it would take at least 24 hours to achieve the level of marinade penetration the vacuum sealer pulled in 3.  

Yes, I'm a firm believer wet marinades take time and planning, but if I can employ technology to speed things up, I just may become a convert.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

The last month has been nonstop IPAs.  Thanks to Nugget Nectar from Troeg's, tonight is no different.  Cheers.

Nugget Nectar

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brewed Awakening: The Signing

Last week, we spent a great evening with Brewed Awakening author, Josh Bernstein.  

Brewed Awakening

Josh, who is from Dayton, spent the night signing books, talking beer and, of course, drinking beer.

Josh Signing

A few of us already had the book and by the end of the night, those who did not purchased a copy as well.  

Josh Signing

Josh was incredibly engaging.  He spoke not only of his craft beer exploits, but his writing adventures outside of beer.  I found Josh's insight into the "creative mind" quite interesting and his side stories of the perils of professional writing had us doubled over.

It was all excellent.

Talking & Tasting

We are already looking forward to Josh's return to Dayton. There are definitely more beers in our future.  In the meantime, I'm going to continue my way though his book.  Although only a quarter of the way in, it has been excellent so far.  I think I need a vacation, or perhaps a long flight.  I should really give Brewed Awakening the reading time it deserves.

Josh, thanks for a great evening.


Josh & The Brewers

Sunday, February 17, 2013

What's on the Grill #265: Lobster Benedict with Hopped "Beer-naise"

Do you cook with beer?  I do.  In fact, I try to substitute beer in as many recipes as I can.  

Now, how about cooking with hops?  Sure, hops are the key to the bittering and aroma notes in beer, but what about food?  Does it work?  Samuel Adams' answer, not surprisingly, is a resounding, yes.

Tettnang Tettnanger Hops

Teaming up with Chef David Burke, Samuel Adams collaborated to recreate hop-centric brunch recipes using the Tettnang Tettnanger hops, the same hop featured in their spring seasonal beer, Alpine Spring.

Tettnanger hops are grown in the Tettnang region of Germany and have been cultivated there for over 100 years.  They are also one of the noble hops, known for their high aroma and low bitterness.  The fact Tettnanger hops are predominately used as aroma hops gives a pretty good idea to their suitability towards cooking.  Speaking of which, how about some lobster?  I'm hungry.

Lobster Benedict with Hopped

Samuel Adams Alpine Spring Lobster Benedict with Hopped "Beer-naise"
Recipe by Chef David Burke 

1 bottle Samuel Adams Alpine Spring
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
4 sprigs tarragon
4 egg yolks
¼ oz. Tettnang Tettnanger hop flowers (can substitute U.S. Tettnang hops)
4 sticks melted butter
4 English muffins
4 lobsters (1lb. each) cooked and meat removed - I used tails…and just 2
8 eggs
2 T white vinegar
1 T lemon juice
Salt to taste

Beer Pour

In a stainless steel pot, reduce Alpine Spring, champagne vinegar, shallot, and 3 sprigs tarragon to ¼ of original volume, add hops and chill.

Hops on Scale

This could be done one day in advance. 

Reduction in Pan

Once cold, add reduction to egg yolks.


Whisk yolks over double boiler until eggs become thick, add lemon juice. Slowly whisk in melted butter until all is incorporated. Strain through fine strainer. Pick last sprig of tarragon and chop. Add tarragon to sauce, cover and keep warm.

Although Chef Burke's recipe called for whole lobster, I opted for lobster tails.  

Lobster Tail

They are easy to prep and easy to grill.  With the tail upside down, use a pair of kitchen shears to remove the pleopods…those little "flaps" along the side of the shell.

Tail Prep

Cut down each side of the shell.

Lobster Prep

With both sides separated, peel back the membrane and remove.

Membrane Removal

To keep the tails from curling up on the grill, pierce the flesh long ways with a skewer.

Lobster Skewer

Season with salt and pepper.  Grill flesh side down over direct medium heat and then flip.  Total cook time is about 10-12 minutes.  

Grilled Lobster Tail

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to simmer with white vinegar and salt. Slowly crack eggs into water and poach to desired doneness.

Toast English muffins on the grill.

To assemble, put split muffin on plate topped with half a lobster tail and egg on each half. Cover with sauce and serve.

Lobster Benedict with Hopped

Wow.  Decadent, rich, and delicious.  

Runny Yolk

Check out more beer recipes at Samuel Adams and in the meantime, check back here.  I hope to prepare another one of Chef Burke's hop-centric recipes soon. 

Can't wait that long and would prefer the work of a professional? I don't blame you. Chef Burke is serving up Lobster Benedict with Hopped "Beer-naise" at his restaurants for Saturday and Sunday brunch through the month of February. Just be sure to skip the mimosa and grab an Alpine Spring.  Cheers!

Note: Samuel Adams provided the hop flowers and recipe.  To make your own hopped recipe, check out your local homebrew store or better yet, grow your own!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What's on the Grill #264: Pan Seared Steaks with Shallot Sauce

Yes, you read the title right.  Pan Seared.  Not grilled….p-a-n, pan.  Seared.

Although I will use any excuse, or optimize any window of time, to light up the coals, sometimes I decide to keep it indoors and break out the cast iron.  

For this instance, I had two other reasons. It was cold outside and I had a new toy.  A new kitchen range.

My new toy

Speaking of which, funny story here.

Remember how Zoë's family came over from England for Christmas?  After bringing us joy for the holidays, as a parting gift they destroyed our range.  On their last day, someone had the hot idea to bake fish.  The oven was brought to temp, the fish was slid in, and the entire electronic control panel went up in flames like it was Guy Fawkes Night.

All I heard was shrieks.  All I smelled was burnt electronics…and fish.

I quickly determined the damaged electronics were beyond repair.  I further determined the uncooked fish was unreachable thanks to the electric lock, which was no longer electric, but plenty locked.  Joy.

Zoë's family flew back to England and stateside, for seven long days, uncooked fish sat in a tomb, made by Sears. 

Greenville, Ohio, a short 30 minute drive, is home to Kitchen Aid and the Kitchen Aid Experience and Factory.  In 1919, Kitchen Aid introduced the first stand mixer.  In 2013, they dropped off a professional range at our house.  The 1919 date is interesting.  The 2013 date is damn right exciting.  

Pre Heat

I wish I could say this was an original idea, but truthfully, I stole the experience and model number from Bryan.  He has had his for years and has given it nothing but high praise.

Enter the pan.

Cast iron is actually a great way to cook a steak.  Coupled with an extremely hot burner, cast iron not only cooks an amazing piece of meat, but makes the base for a wonderful pan sauce, which when cooking with cast, is always a necessity.

Pan Seared Ribeye with Shallot Sauce

Pan Seared Steaks with Shallot Sauce
Sauce adapted from Epicurious

1/2 cup beef broth
3 T sherry wine vinegar
1 shallot, chopped
1 1/2 T chilled butter
1/4 dried tarragon

Steaks x 2

The recipe calls for "steaks."  Use what you wish.  When we cook steaks, it's always an odd couple.  Zoë likes a lean filet.  I like a meaty ribeye.  Anything will work.

Hers and His

Allow the meat to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes before cooking.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and heat the oven to 300 F.   

Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Less is more.

Add a small amount of oil to the pan and sear the meat.

Pan Sear Steak

After both sides are browned, about a minute or two each, move the meat to a plate and place in the oven.

Allow the meat to cook another 15-20 minutes.  For medium rare, cook until the internal temperature hits 130 F.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest.

Add the sauce ingredients to the pan and boil until the sauce thickens.  Be sure to scrape up the black bits left over from the steaks.  This takes about 3 minutes. 

Melting Butter

What makes a great vegetable for steak?  Kale.  In fact, Kale is great with anything.  Lightly sauté it and add a splash of balsamic vinegar towards the end.  Perfect.

Kale in Wok

With the steaks at temp and the sauce done, serve.

Pan Seared Ribeye with Shallot Sauce

Pan seared steaks are easy and the sauce is always an added treat.  In fact, the great results take away my guilt from not going outside.  

Fear not, the new range will not diminish my grilling.  It will, however, make me thankful the fish smell is gone.