Monday, December 26, 2011

Grass-Fed Veal Chops

For those of you who don't already know, grass-fed meat is a big deal right now.  Most meat we eat is fed a grain diet, and that tends to make it fat and meats fed a grass diet is a more natural alternative.  The other health-friendly aspect to grass-fed meats is that they are generally raised without antibiotics or other hormone treatments.  With regards to taste, it's more earthy and in terms of cooking, it cooks faster (no fat means it will cook fast and dry out quick, so you need to reduce cooking times).

The Griller Instinct team has mixed opinions.  We like fat, however, we don't want to be fat, so we use a mix of meats.  Once or twice a week I get grass-fed meat from Stew the Butcher, and it's always on a night when I'm making an effort to eat healthy

On other nights, I enjoy the full fattiness of grain-fed meats.  Who doesn't?  Fat equals flavor, and if you like to grill, you know the value of fat.  (If I could have my way, I would buy grass-fed meat that has been fed grain to add fat, right before it's slaughtered.  Does that exist?  I don't know.  I'll check with Stew...)

Stew recently introduced me to a grass-fed meat I have not had previously had: Grass-fed Veal.  I was initially skeptical.  Isn't good veal supposed to be milk-fed?  Apparently not.  After trying this veal chop, it was obvious the flavor is much better than milk-fed veal, and it also has plenty of fat. 

Why does grass-fed veal have a good amount of fat?  Good question.  I don't know.  What's the flavor difference?  Milk-fed veal is a bit bland, in my opinion.  Grass-fed veal has a more beefy taste, and not overwhelmingly so, just more so than regular veal.  I wasn't buying a lot of milk-fed veal for that very reason, it lacks meaty flavor.

The visual difference is what is most significant between grass fed-veal and milk-fed veal.  Grass-fed looks like red meat and milk-fed is white(ish).  So don't be surprised if you pull out your cut of meat and it doesn't look like your standard chop.

The bottom line is you should ask your butcher for some grass-fed veal chops.  They're really terrific, and right now, reasonably priced (until everyone catches on).

This is the veal with a lemon caper sauce.

To make the lemon-caper sauce for two veal chops:

1. Zest one lemon with a Microplane, then juice the lemon. Combine the juice and the zest with two tablespoons of drained capers.
2. In a small frying pan, saute five minced cloves of garlic in five tablespoons of olive oil for two minutes.
3. Add the lemon juice, zest and capers to the frying pan.
4. Add fresh ground pepper to taste and pour on top of the veal.

Check out the video:

Monday, December 19, 2011

Aunt Rachel's Latkes

We here at Griller Instinct usually like to show you what we've done to celebrate the holidays after the fact.  Well, we're going to get in front a holiday for a change: Hanukkah is soon!  So of course I'm going to share with you our family's latke recipe which is so easy and delicious, you may find yourself eating them straight through Christmas!

Some people think that latkes are only for people who celebrate Hanukkah, or that they're only meant to be eaten this time of year.  And for those people, I tell them, "Don't be ridiculous!"  Latkes are basically hash browns, and you can make them for Christmas,  for Kwanzaa, for your birthday, for breakfast, or just for fun.

Here is the recipe.

Here is a picture of the latkes frying.  Make note of the deep pan, as it keeps oil from splattering everywhere and making a mess.

Now, since this is a blog that caters to those with a griller instinct, I have to let you know that it is possible to make these latkes on the grill.  Simply heat up your pot of oil on the grill and stay vigilant about the temperature not rising too high!

And here is a quick video tutorial.

And as a special surprise: Not Latkes
I sent my friend, Marshall, a picture of the latkes as they were frying last night.  He was then kind enough to respond with what he was making.  And that means I get to share with you Bacon-Wrapped Dates with Roquefort Cheese and Toasted Almonds inside. 

I can't be certain, but I believe that he plated the dates with pink grapefruit slices topped with black sesame seeds.  What am I certain of is that it looks awesome.  Hopefully, he'll send in the recipe, and if he does, I'll be sure to share it with you!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Finally, Brussels Sprouts Your Kids Will Eat

Yes, your kids will eat these.  And they will like them, too!  Satisfaction guaranteed, or I'll give you a full refund for the cost of your Griller Instinct subscription.
To cut to teh chase, here is the recipe.

Note: This is not a Griller Instinct original.  This is a recipe by Chef Michael Symon.

While the Brussels Sprouts are not an original, it is Griller Instinct tested.  Though our official certification is still pending, I think my street credit should be enough to get you to give these a try.

And if you haven't seen the Thanksgiving video yet, here is is again.  You will see Lisa, my wife, making this delicious recipe.

Friday, December 9, 2011

If You Aren't Going to Grill Your Own...

...At least go have the best steak you can, and for me, that's Peter Luger.

There aren't many good reasons to go to Brooklyn and, in fact, after Luger's, my list runs a little thin.  But the outerborough location doesn't stop my buddies and me form kicking off the holiday season with a trip to Peter Luger

(If you are in the New York area, let the below entice you;for the rest of you, proceed with jealousy...)

If you want to eat the best steak on Earth, you must travel to New York City.  I know this statement will generate a lot of angry emails about your favorite steak house in Singapore, or Budapest, or wherever you are, but trust me, Peter Luger is better.

A few notes about Peter Luger:

- It's in Brooklyn, so it's a pain in the ass to get to.
- It's not fancy. 
- It's cash only.
- It's old school, with a lot of wood and old man waiters.
- I've never seen a menu.

And yet....  every time I go, I am reminded how much better it is than any other steakhouse.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are asking "Why?  Why is this steak better than any others you may have had?"  And my honest answer is: I have no idea.  Maybe it the quality of the meat. Maybe it's how it's prepared.  Maybe it's the handle bar mustaches on so many of the waiters.  I can't be sure, and surely we'll never know.

The real question is: why can't all the copycat steakhouses in Manhattan that have been opened by ex-Luger employees duplicate the food?  There must be a secret and I don't know what it is.

Five of us dined, and we enjoyed:
Steak for 5 medium rare (Porterhouse, obviously)
Hash Browns
Creamed Spinach
Thick-Cut Bacon
Shrimp Cocktail
Tomato and Onions

And, of course, plenty of Peter Luger sauce on the side.

Our story doesn't end here, but the meal does.  We left full and happy, and are sure to return, likely to have the same meal as you can't go wrong with a great steak, a lot of liquor and good company.

And don't worry: for those of you who have been asking for the Brussels Sprouts recipe, it's coming; I'll get it out to you the next few days.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Succulent Smoked Turkey: The Thanksgiving Series, Number One

As Griller Instinct begins its Thanksgiving series, we wanted to dive right in and give you the item that we and our holiday guests were most thankful for: Succulent Smoked Turkey 

Now, I'm sure many of you are asking yourselves, "Why would you smoke a turkey, let alone do it for Thanksgiving?"

1. After having dozens of people over for Thanksgiving, and having made turkey many ways, smoked is the overall favorite. 

2. Smoking a turkey leaves room in the oven for other stuff. 

3. The carcass makes kick ass turkey soup.

Be forewarned: Smoking a turkey is a three part process, but it's a labor of love and like most of the recipes you've tried so far, your guests will appreciate your effort. 

Step 1: Brine the Turkey.  Brining is important as the turkey absorbs the brine flavor while allowing the meat to stay very moist during the cooking process.  For a 15-20 lb turkey, you need to make 2.5 gallons of brine, and as it takes about 12 hours to fully cool, the brine should be made ahead of time (1-5 days).  Once the brine is at refrigerator temperature, add the bird and let it soak for 12-24 hours.  The longer it soaks, the more brine will be absorbed into the meat.  When you are ready to smoke the bird, pull it out, rinse it off, and pat it dry.  Here is the brine recipe.

Step 2: Smoke the Turkey.  Soak some wood chips (I find that Apple goes very well with turkey) and bring your smoker to 325 degrees.  Add the chips and to the smoker place the bird inside with a pan underneath.  This will catch drippings that you will use to baste the bird as it smokes, and if you choose to afterwards it can be used to make a killer gravy. To create a starter baste, I like to put some butter (1 stick), broth (I use 2 cups chicken broth, but any kind will do), a beer (12 oz), and the gizzards (finally, they are good for something other than scaring the kids!) into the pan.  Smoke the turkey for 15-17 minutes per pound, or until the thermometer pops out of the breast.  Baste every 30-45 minutes.  When it's done, wrap with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Step 3: Make the Gravy.  I use the turkey baster to suck about 3/4 of the liquid out of the pan 30 minutes before I think the turkey is done.  This is your gravy base.  The liquid will have a heavy smokey flavor, so you will need to cut it with more broth before you reduce it.  Here is the gravy recipe.

This is the complete Thanksgiving video.  You will see everything we made, including the Succulent Smoked Turkey.

Next week, I'll pass along a recipe for Brussels Sprouts your kids will actually eat.  You won't want to miss it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Grumpy's: Where Real Men Go For Grub

The Griller Instinct team has a lot of footage coming from Thanksgiving, so to do it justice, we're going to take our time to properly organize and edit it. But since I won't leave you hanging for a whole week, I wanted to bring you along on my own Black Friday tradition that my friends and I have been participating in for quite some time now, and that's our annual trip to Pennsylvania to shoot sporting clays.

A few hours of shooting always works up an appetite and on our way home, we found a great BBQ joint called Grumpy's.  There's not much out there in the Poconos, so to find anywhere decent to eat is a score.  Likewise, as I won our shooting contest, I had earned a free lunch and I wanted to make sure my victory meal tasted as delicious as my friends' defeat (and Grumpy's proved to be the right place for that).

I tried their three sliders:  brisket, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. I also ordered a single rib. I know that sounds crazy, but they will serve you a single.  I knew I was coming home to   Thanksgiving leftovers, so I thought one to taste made good sense.

Using my completely arbitrary rating system, I would give the brisket slider a "B," the pulled pork slider an "A-," the chicken slider a "C," the rib an "A-." Here's the breakdown:

Brisket - Smokey, and great flavor from the rub, but very fatty.

Pulled Pork - Great texture, but could use some spice.

Chicken - Who likes pulled chicken?  Not me.

Rib -  It had a good smoke ring and was was cooked just right.  Not mushy but not tough.  This was also a full size spare rib, and I know how hard it is to get full size spare rib right, so I very much appreciated the effort.

Check out the pictures:
The smoker
Smoking Wood

Me, Shooting

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hungry Man Lunch

I'll be traveling this weekend, so I won’t have time to concoct anything new, but I plan on picking up some great tailgating tips that will surely come in handy down the line..

That said, I couldn’t leave you without something to sink your teeth into, so I took some video of my colleague, Greg (think Wimpy but rail thin), eating lunch.  This guy is always on the lookout for a good burger, and, well, the footage speaks for itself.

Important: Obviously we are going to have a lot of Thanksgiving footage.  Here is what you can expect over the next few weeks:

- Fried Turkey
- Smoked Turkey
- Cranberry Salsa
- Yummy Brussels Sprouts (oh, yes they can be)

Here is Greg.  Check out this burger.  It was huge.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Are You, Chicken? Wings

There's a common belief that chicken wings are bar food, meant only to be served by ill-mannered waitresses, ordered by the dozen, to be eaten with a side of another dozen chicken wings and a few pitchers of beer.

And while I'm not one to buck a good tradtion like enjoying $.50 wings while watching your favorite team at the local bar, a great chicken wings recipe is a must-have in your football season rotation, so if you don't have one already, you're now in luck!

Here's why homemade (and especially my homemade) wings are superior to to the bar fare you thought you've liked: wings in a bar are fried and tossed with a mixture of hot sauce and butter.  The white dipping sauce on the side is usually ranch or blue cheese salad dressing. Not bad, just very generic, and if you know me, we can do a whole lot better than that.

This recipe is makes great wings, and without being too modest, they might be the best you've ever had.  If you love wings like I do, try it. I generally serve the wings as a full meal and that's it, but if you're planning to make them as an appetizer, adjust your portions according. 

My chicken wings are a four part process: 

1. Season the wings. 
2. Smoke the wings for 10-15 minutes using indirect heat.  As you already know, chicken absorbs smoke very easily. 
3. Fry the wings. Peanut oil works best.
4. Toss the wings in your sauce.

I like to cut my wing sauce with honey and butter, as the honey gives the sauce a little hint of sweetness while allowing it to really hang onto the wing.

Then, just before my wings are ready to be served, I up the ante and make a fresh blue cheese dipping sauce.

 The recipes for my wings and dipping sauce can be found here.

Check out the video:

Friday, November 4, 2011

Grilled Pumpkin Seeds

To get in the spirit of Halloween, the kids wanted to carve the Jack-o-Lantern Sunday afternoon and I realized this would be a great opportunity try and make pumpkin seeds on the grill. 

We popped off the pumpkin top and scooped out the seeds.  Fortunately for me, I happen to have a grill basket with a lid that not only is perfect for rinsing the seeds, but also perfect for grilling them.  One less step!

I realize not everyone has a grill basket, which is unfortunate for them, and I will supply alternative instructions in case you do not have one.

  1. Cut off the pumpkin top. 
  2. Scoop out the seeds (I find putting the kids to work especially helpful for this part of the recipe).
  3. Clean, separate, and rinse the seeds, making sure to remove the "dead," or flat, seeds since you're not going to want to eat those.
  4. If you have grill basket, just put it on the grill and shake every 30 seconds or so.  The whole process will take about 10 minutes. Don’t let the seeds burn.  When they start to turn brown, they are done. 
  5. Remove from the grill and dump into a pan and add your seasoning while they are still hot.  I used sea salt and some Cajun seasoning, which was great.  Be creative; come up with your own flavor scheme.
No grill basket?  Use a skillet with a lid or cover the top with aluminum foil.  Remember to keep tossing the seeds every 30 seconds and start peeking inside at about the 8 minute mark to see if the seeds are ready.

No grill?  Here is how to do it in the oven:
  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut off the pumpkin top. 
  3. Scoop out the seeds.
  4. Clean, separate, and rinse the seeds, making sure to remove the "dead," or flat, seeds since you're not going to want to eat those.
  5. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and spread your pumpkin seeds in an even layer.
  6. Add seasoning your seasoning of choice, and sprinkle liberally.
  7. Place in the oven and after 5 minutes, remove and mix the seeds around with a spatula to keep them from sticking to the aluminum foil.  Check in every three minutes or so from that point to make sure they don't burn. (*If you hear a little sizzle or pop, don't worry, that's normal: it's just water leaving the seeds)
  8. To put a final brown on your seeds, you can turn the oven to Broil for one minute.
  9. Remove, and enjoy!
Check out the video:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Baaah-d Ass Lamb Chops

Not everything that goes on the grill has to be a big production, and sometimes the best meals are almost embarrassingly simple. 

Great tasting lamb is easy to make: just buy some thick cut lamb chops from the butcher and make a paste using the following ingredients:

8 Cloves of Garlic
3 Long Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary (Use only the leaves, not the stems)
2 Tablespoons of Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons of Fresh Ground Pepper
2-3 Ounces Extra Virgin Olive Oil

About 30 minutes before my lamb is ready to hit the grill, I take it out of the fridge so it has time to get to room temperature.  That also gives me time to get the grill nice and hot while also giving me a chance to make my paste using one of the few techniques below.

To make my Baaah-d Ass Paste, I recommend using a mortar and pestle, but if don't have one, a miniature food processor can also work.  For either method, you'd look to mash the garlic and rosemary with the pepper and salt, then slowly add the oil until you have the texture you're looking to achieve.  If have neither, then you can always start by finely chopping your rosemary and garlic on a cutting board, placing them in a bowl with the salt and pepper, then slowly working in the olive oil until you have the right consistency. 

Spread the paste on the lamb, top and bottom, and you are ready to grill.

Get the grill pretty hot and sear each side 4-5 minutes.  As I like my lamb rare, I usually stick with 4 minutes, but it really depends on the thickness of the meat.  Use the touch test to determine how cooked the meat is in the center.  Lamb chops have a significant amount of fat around the bone.  This will, for the most part melt off, during the grilling process. If your grill is hot (the way it should be) the fat may catch on fire.  No big deal!  Don't panic.  Just move the chops out of the flames to a different part of the grill. 

Check out the video:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hickory Smoked Chicken Soup – With Grilled Veggies

We’ve been doing a lot of smoking lately, but so far, no chicken has made it to the grill.  That is, until now.  Since I read the requests, and since the weather is turning cold, this Hickory Smoked Chicken Soup recipe is for you (and you know who you are).!
Everyone has a chicken soup recipe.  I’m not trying to say mine is better than yours; it's probably just different from yours (though, like my award-winning Chili, my soup recipe may also beat yours in a local competition, but I don’t want to challenge any sort family recipe passed down from your grandmother and the like...).

Smoking a chicken is easy.  It cooks at the same temperature (325-350 degrees) that it would in the oven.  No need to cook slowly, and chicken absorbs the smoke flavor very easily.  The pop up indicator tells you when it’s done, so there is no need to mess around with meat thermometers.  This can be easily done on a gas grill, as well.  Just follow the instructions for indirect gas grilling.

Making the broth for the soup is also easy.  I buy good quality chicken stock then add vegetables and boil for an hour.  That makes the broth taste homemade.  If you want to make the it from scratch, that’s a long process, as you need to smoke the chicken, wait for it to cool, pull off the meat, then you can start your broth.  Too long! 

Grilling the vegetables is simple.  It just takes a few minutes.

The smoky chicken gives the soup a whole new element of taste.  Give it a try.

Check out the video:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Baby Back Birthday

Saturday was my daughters 8th birthday, and as I was busy building a zipline for the kids, my wife was left doing all the prep work--and clean up--for this meal (so I have to give credit where credit is due).  She followed all the recipes to the letter (on this blog), and when I tasted the finished product, I knew the ingredients, their quantities, and their incorporations were just as they should be.

This is what was on the menu….

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back’s have a lot of meat and are much easier to work with than the less expensive ribs.  It’s worth the extra money, especially if you don’t have a full day to commit to smoking.  Baby Back ribs take four hours to smoke, and another twenty minutes if you want to add BBQ sauce.

While I recommend Baby Backs if you are cooking at home, there are other types of ribs, including Memphis and Spare Ribs.  These have larger bones and take longer to cook which generally make them better suited for dining out than dining in.
When you purchase ribs there may be membranes on the back side, which needs to be removed and before you leave the store, be sure you know if the membranes are still attached (sometimes, I find it hard to tell).  The ribs I buy from Stew the butcher come without the membrane (it is removed at the processing plant) and in the off chance I buy ribs where the membrane has not been removed, I get Stew to do it. 

If you're stuck with the unfortunate task of removing the membrane yourself, a certainty if you're shopping at Costco or BJ’s, get ready spend some time getting that membrane off. Here is how I'd recommend you do it.  Once the membrane is off, you're ready to prep your ribs for the smoker!

To prepare the smoker for use: I use oak and hickory wood in the smoker and, under the grate, I keep a pan filled with beer to keep the smokers moisture content high.

1. Add a generous amount dry rub to the ribs.

2. Smoke the ribs at 275 degrees for about four hours (Baby Back ribs only).  When the meat pulls back from the bone, and the bone sticks out ½ inch, the ribs should come out of the smoker.

3. Every hour, baste the ribs.  I make a 50/50 mixture of beer (I used Pabst) and white vinegar and add it to a spray bottle.  That’s an easy and efficient way to apply it.  This adds flavor, and again, keep the ribs moist.

4. I finished these ribs in the oven (my grill was occupied with food for the kids).  I mopped on the BBQ sauce, back side first, and baked at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then I flipped the ribs, mopped sauce on the front and baked for another 10 minutes. 

5. I removed the ribs from the oven, and cut them into threes.

1 rack of baby back ribs will serve 2-3 people.  Serve left over BBQ sauce on the side.

But Neil?  What if I don't have a smoker?
Baby Backs are so easy to work with, you don’t have to smoke them.  Just adding a dry rub and grilling over medium heat for 40 minutes (20 min per side) will give you an awesome meal. 

Mac and Cheese (C'est Cheese)

Uncle Bill’s Garlic BreadWe didn’t make it this time, but we usually do, as it goes very well with ribs.

Check out the video.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Sleeping Alone Tonight" Wins Big at the Front Porch Chili Contest

Sleeping Alone Tonight is now available for sale at Atlantic Bagel Company (Atlantic Highlands)

Your arsenal of great recipes must include one for chili  (mine sure does) and  I take a lot of pride in being able to make a great one.

I was reminded on Thursday that our local chili cook off was this Saturday.  I have always been busy in previous years, but at the last minute I decided to go for it.  

If you know me well, you know I play to win.  I called in Rocco, my partner in all things ridiculous, and we teamed up to make a big first showing at the competition this year.

Despite the rain, there were 400 people at the event with 40 different hopeful chefs, all of them bringing their A game in hopes of taking home the trophy.  There was a band, beer tent, rum bar, and all sorts of chili.  The kids had a great time and they even worked the crowd for me.

There were three categories of competition:  Vegetarian, which we did not bother with (Vegetarian chili is not actually chili, but rather some form of bean casserole, I suppose.  If you find yourself making vegetarian chili, do us all a favor and don't call it chili. Chili has meat in it.), Judges' pick (one of the judges, Marie, owns our local (and my favorite) bakery ), and People's pick.  Of the two categories we were eligible for — Judges' Pick and People's Pick — "Sleeping Alone Tonight" won both categories.

Dozens of people asked if we would be selling "Sleeping Alone Tonight" at Rocco's bagel shop.  We talked about it this morning, and we are going to make it available to the public starting this week.

Award winning chili, available at Atlantic Bagel Company, coming soon!

This might be our best video yet.  Check it out:

Sleeping Alone Tonight - Chili Recipe

The Griller Instinct Team thanks you for your support.  We are working on the official post and video.  This is the recipe for the chili that won the contest yesterday.

The recipe was created using Google Docs.  If you are viewing this at work, and can't open a Google Doc, email me, and I will send the recipe directly to you.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Carolyn's Thighs

Rocco, my favorite neighbor,  managed to secure a beach house at the Jersey Shore (no, not Seaside Heights),  for a few weeks, and invited us for dinner.  Rocco’s wife, Carolyn, has her own recipe for grilled chicken thighs, and she was kind enough to share it with me to share it with you.

This recipe can be executed on any grill using direct heat.  This particular grill came with the rental house, and I’ve never cooked on a grill of this quality, but the thighs came out great, anyway, so whatever you're working with at home should be more than adequate.

Thighs are easy to grill and hard to screw up.  Give this one a shot. 

Here is the recipe.

Below is the video.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Inducing Labor

Yes, I know, what you're thinking: what does this have to do with grilling?  Other than shrimp, which can be grilled (but in this case wasn’t), the answer is "nothing."

But the story, and recipe, is too good not to share with you.  Our friend Erin was in need of some help.  She was 5 days overdue and wanted the baby OUT!  As it happens, I have a recipe that has induced labor in four other overdue women, so we decided to give Erin the push she needed.  As usual, it worked.

For those of you who have been asking for recipes that can be made inside, you apartments dwellers, this is for you.  Not only can this recipe send you into labor, it's really delicious, whether you're with or without child.
A few notes:
- This dish is spicy.  If you're not someone that likes a lot of heat, just significantly reduce the amount of habañero chili.
- I don't like rice, so we just eat this in a bowl like a stew.  If you like rice, ladle it over some.
- There are a lot of ingredients, so make your shopping list carefully.
- This is a great dish for football season.  If soemone in your house has been crying out for a healthy meal, this is it.
- Habañeros are in season NOW.

Here is the recipe.  Check out the Video.  And welcome Anderson Wells, Griller Instincts newest follower,  born 12 hours after we fed Erin the Blistering Shrimp.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hanger Steak — What a Bargain!

Hanger Steak, is largely overlooked and a very under-appreciated part of the grilling family.  Since most of the time you can't find a good cut at the grocery store, and since by now I'm sure by now you have found a butcher you like, check in at your local shop when you're ready for a good grill.

At its low cost and great flavor, Hanger Steak  is #1 on my list for high quality steaks you can find at a bargain price.  I paid $9 per pound for this meat, and bought about 2.5 pounds. It fed four (hungry) adults, and there were leftovers.  There is a thick tendon that runs through the middle of a Hanger Steak that needs to be removed. Generally, the butcher does this for you, but if you are not buying from a butcher, just cut the tendon out.  It's pretty easy.

Hanger Steak takes well to marinade.  This steak went into a plastic bag with:

1/4 cup oilve oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/8 cup low sodium soy sauce
combine and pour into the bag with the steak

We marinated it for 1 hour.  Very easy.  Not a big deal.

As far as cooking time goes, I mentioned in the video 7 minutes per side.  My grill is really hot, so it only needed 4 minutes per side.  You will have to judge your own doneness.  It will be between 4-8 minutes per side (for Hanger Steak), 90% of the time.

Don't forget to let the meat rest (under tin foil) once it's off the grill.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Whole Pot of Pickles

Before I jump into this week's blog, I just want to thank you for all your encouraging emails about Griller Instinct!  A few of you on the West coast seem to really like the Cedar Plank Salmon; I'll be sure to put some more fish grilling recipes in the cue.

I've had several requests for my homemade pickles.  These are easy and there is a huge difference in homemade pickles and store bought!  It's worth the minimal effort if you are a pickle fan. When they are ready, I put them in jars and can also give them as gifts.

Keep in mind, homemade pickles don't last forever.  The cucumbers will continue to pickle as long as you leave them in the brine.  Figure the fastest they will be ready is about one week, and they will last another five weeks after that.  Then the cucumbers begin to turn in mush.

Cucumbers in brine for one week = "New Pickle"
Two - four weeks = regular pickle
Five weeks - six weeks = "Sour Pickle"
Six weeks+ = mush

So, what are you going to brine the pickles in?  Something with a lid, I hope.  I use a stock pot with a lid, but I think a crock, or even a large Tupperware will work.

Here is the recipe

Friday, September 2, 2011

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

This post should have been up last weekend, but we just had the power come on, after a direct shot from hurricane Irene. The weather was carzy last Saturday night, so we grilled burgers.  However, no one wanted to come outside and film.  Wimps!  We had a fun hurrican party.

Let me give you fair warning: we shot the video several weeks ago.  Lisa and I were having a pool party, it was 100 degrees, and, well…. you can’t see it, but no one was wearing a shirt!  So, you’ll have to put up with my scantily clad cooking, one more time. 

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce is the easiest thing I have made for you so far, and even better, it’s fast and great for a crowd.  Grill the steak, cover for 5 minutes, slice against the grain, and allow guests to add their own Chimichurri Sauce.

What exactly is Chimichurri Sauce?

Chimichurri (also spelled Chimmichurri) originated from Argentina and Uruguay, is a popular sauce used with grilled meat in many Latin American countries.

If you want a healthy, green herb sauce that is bursting with flavor, this is it! Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinian sauce where the main ingredients used are Parsley, Garlic, Pepper & Olive Oil.  Much as we use ketchup here in America, Chimichurri is used in Argentina.

1st make the Chimichurri Sauce ahead of time (2-3 hours)

2nd grill the Skirt Steak. 

Buy skirt steak at the butcher.  Figure 1/2 - 3/4 pound per person.  If the steaks are too long to fit on the grill, cut them in half. Marinate the steak inolive oil, (kosher) salt and freshly ground pepper for 30 minutes – 2 hours. Allow the meat to come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Get the grill as hot as possible and grill for 3 minutes per side if you like your steak done rare. 3.5 minutes per side if you prefer medium rare. Never more that that! 

Pull the steaks off the grill, cover them with foil for 5 minutes, then slice against the grain.  Skirt steak is not a tough cut, but cutting against the grain is always a plus. Serve!  How easy is that?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Family Dinner

Last week, I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle in Dutchess County (upstate New York), and since my sister and her husband were there, as well, we thought a family dinner would be fun.  My sister happens to be a vegetarian (I know...  how could I have a sister who is a vegetarian?), so besides some good Rib Eye steaks, we had lots of vegetable dishes.

There are some upsides to having a vegetarian sister:  the most obvious, more meat for everyone else! The other, she comes armed with great vegetable recipes.  So aside from the shopping, this whole meal only took about 40 minutes to prepare.  

Here was the menu:

Rib Eye Steaks:
Aunt Dana ordered steaks from her local butcher.  They were two inches thick and nicely trimmed.  I let them come up to room temperature and gave them the standard Olive Oil, (sea) salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Since these steaks were thick, I used a lot of seasoning.  In the video, I mention 7 minutes per side, but 14 minutes ended up being a bit too long.  The grill was very hot, so I only cooked the steaks for a total of 11 minutes (six minutes on the first side and 5 on the other).

How did I know when to take the steaks off for a perfect medium rare?  Here is how I knew. This takes some practice.  Alternatively, use a thermometer.  When the center of a steak get to 110 degrees (this only applies to steaks), take it off! Put the steak on a dish and cover it with foil, and let the meat re-distribute its juices for 10 minutes.  The meat will continue to cook and will end up about 125 degrees.  That's a perfect medium rare.  

Note: anything coming off the grill should rest for at least 10 minutes after it is done cooking.  The juice in the meat is re-distributed during that time, and when the meat is sliced, it will retain most of its juice.  No dried out food!

Corn on the Cob:
Last week was peak corn season in Dutchess County.  This recipe is only for corn in peak season.  If you try this with early season corn or frozen corn, it's not going to be good.  Since I'm not a huge corn fan, peak season corn is the only kind I will eat.  Any other time of year, I just skip it.  Peak season corn is very sweet and sugar caramelizes on the grill, so the taste is great.

Uncle Ira was in charge of corn, which was picked that morning.  He shucked the corn and put it on the grill, then he rotated the corn around a few times--starting directly on the burners and then moving them up to the warming rack to caramelize a bit.  Total grill time is about 25 minutes.   Put the corn in a dish and cover with foil.  They will stay hot for about 30 minutes.  That's it!  Moral of the story: Work with fresh local ingredients that are in season, and things are simple.  Nothing fancy required here.  If you can't find peak season corn, there are plenty of other good vegetable side dishes to make.

This stuff is like couscous or rice, but way better!  Just try it.  Have I steered you wrong yet?

Ashish's Smoked Eggplant - This stole the show in my opinion

Who is Ashish? He is my sister husband and a recent and welcome addition to our family.  My kids call him Uncle Ashish. Uncle Ashish showed me how to smoke (grill really, we did not use smoke) eggplant.  Let me tell you, this is worth making. 

Try these out!  Let me know how it goes.  Send me any questions you have to

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Pulled Pork BBQ

I'm having a party and I want to wow my guests.  To do so, I'm willing to invest most of a day smoking meat, but I also want to hang out it the yard and drink beer with Rocco.  So... I'll be making Pulled Pork BBQ.  This is a serious undertaking and it's not for the faint of heart, but it's well worth the effort.  Everyone loves this stuff.  It's great for a party and the last time I made it was for my daughter's 5th birthday.

For those of you that have been keeping up with my previous posts, we'll see what your chops are made of with this new recipe!

Here's your timeline:

The day before your party, pick up the pork shoulder.  This may also be called Boston Butt (I'm not sure why, but if you know, please leave a comment).  I've also seen it called a picnic shoulder, but only at crappy low end grocery stores.  Let's steer clear of those. Rub the pork with....  you guessed it...  Magic Dust.  Saran Wrap the pork and refrigerate overnight.

10 hours before you want to eat, soak you chips and start your coals.  This will  ideally be done in a smoker, which is almost as good is a charcoal grill, but can also be done on a gas grill if need be.  If you plan to do this in the oven, in a pressure cooker ,or in a slow cooker, you are not making Pulled Pork BBQ. You are making pulled pork.  That kind of sucks, and if you're having a party, your friends deserve better. Take the meat out of the fridge and let it start to come to room temperature.

9 hours before you want to eat, start smoking.  If you have a smoker, get it to 275 degrees and figure the meat will cook for eight hours.  Note: if you are using a charcoal or gas grill, it will be hard to keep the temperature that low so the meat won't take eight hours to cook.  Figure 7-8 hours for your cook time.

Note: place a drip pan under the pork (under the grate) and pour a beer into it, to help keep things moist.

As the smoke tapers off (every 60 minutes or so), add more smoking chips.

5 hours before you want to eat, start checking the internal temperature of the meat.  The first milestone will be 175 degrees.  This is the temperature when the meat will be done absorbing smoke and will begin to dry out.

Once you reach 175 degrees wrap the pork in two layers of heave duty aluminum foil.  Take some of the juices in the drip pan and pour them over the pork and wrap the juices up with the meat. Do a good job wrapping so nothing leaks out. Return the pork to the smoker and continue cooking to 200 degrees.  During the last 25 degrees of cooking is when the connective tissue breaks down and the pork begins to fall apart (becomes pullable).

Remove the pork from the smoker, unwrap it and let is rest for 30-60 minutes before you want to eat. Start warming your BBQ sauce on the stove.

30 minutes before you want to eat, pull your pork. You can use two forks which is a pain in the ass.  Or you can use rubber gloves.  I use these.  You can also buy gloves like these at the hardware store.  They are cheap and really easy to clean.  Just wear them and wash your hands in the sink when you are done.

Next, add BBQ sauce to the pulled pork.  How much?  Go with your gut!  But not too much!  Don't drown the pork.  The taste of the meat and the smoke should be the predomninant flavor.  The taste of the sauce should be secondary.

Mix your sauce in and cover the pan to keep warm.  I put the covered pan onto the smoker to keep warm or to heat it back up.  Sometimes I use the oven if the smoker has cooled considerably.

What kind of BBQ sauce?

This is a long involved question that I will cover in the near future.  There are so many kinds of sauce.  Most of the time I make one red BBQ sauce (tomato based) and one white (vinegar based).  Then everyone at the party argues which sauce is better.  Kind of like the old "Tastes great / Less filling" commercials.  But the key is that I MAKE THE SAUCE.

BBQ sauce is one of those things that tastes much different when it is made fresh.  It makes a big difference.  However, I realize this whole ordeal has been a tremendous burden already, so I will share with you my favorite store bought sauce.  It comes from one of my favorite BBQ restaurants, Dinosaur BBQ.  I can get this sauce at my local market.  If you can't, order some, and keep it in the cupboard, for all sorts of applications.

Use the store bought sauce to get started.  I will also post at white (vinegar-based) sauce recipe at the bottom of the blog.  That takes 5 minutes to make, so just do it; you've come this far, don't ruin your Pulled Pork BBQ now!

Have your guests load the pulled pork onto thick white bread, top with Slaw (recipe at bottom of blog), and make a sandwich.

Good luck!  No mater how this comes out, you will have the respect and appreciation from your guests for making the effort to do it right.

The video below is from the birthday party.  There is a shot of C'est Cheese, my mac and cheese recipe, which, like all the others, can be found at the bottom of the blog.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Thunder Thighs

Here is an easy way to BBQ some food to keep in the fridge all week.  If you're like me, I love to cook on the weekends, but I have very little time after work.  After a long commute from NYC, the last thing I want to do is come home and start cooking something complicated.  So, I make lots of food on the weekends and we usually eat the leftovers for several days. 

Not all food is good for leftovers; Thunder Thighs are.  Chicken thighs are quick and simple to make.  It's hard to dry them out, they easily absorb smoke, and those are both key factors that make them great for the grill.  Not to mention they are cheap and usually readily available.

Here's a summary of the video:

1. Soak some wood chips in water.  I like Jack Daniels smoking chips for this recipe.
2.Generously season the thighs with Magic Dust (my "go to" dry rub), and some olive oil.
3.Smoke the thighs for about 30 minutes. I usually aim for 175 degrees, just to be on the safe side.  Don't worry, it's hard to dry these out.
4. Let them cool.  Taste one.  Then stick them in the fridge for up to one week.

What do I do if I don't have a charcoal grill? 

Follow the recipe, but use an indirect cooking method on your gas grill.  If your gas grill has two burners, bring the grill up to a high temperature with both burners on.  Next, turn one burner off and place the thighs over the extinguished burner. If your gas grill has three burners, same technique, but turn off the middle burner and place the thighs in the middle.  I'm unaware of a gas grill with one burner, but if that is your situation...  get a new grill!

How do I create smoke on a gas grill?

Some gas grills have a smoker box.  If so... here is your big chance to use it.  If not, no problem. You'll need to make a "smoker pouch".  Sounds cool, right?  Take the chips you have been soaking and loosely roll them up in heavy duty tin foil.  Seal the foil roll and pinch the ends.  It should look just burrito but sealed up. Poke about 18 small holes in the top for smoke to escape.  Place the smoker pouch  directly on the lit burner (it should turned up on the highest setting) under the cooking grate.  If the grate fits over it, replace it.  If not, just leave it off for this recipe. The chips will not start to smoke quite as fast with this technique, so give it a few minutes to get going, before you put the thighs on.  The pouch should look like this:

Check out the video; these thighs came out great.  You'll notice they were on the small side.  I smoked them for 32 minutes which gave me an internal temperature of about 180 degrees.  That was a little too hot, but it's always better to be safe than sorry with chicken. They were still moist, and had some extra smoke flavor.  While too hot can work for thighs, I'd recommend you start checking yours at the 28-30 minute mark.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cedar Plank Salmon

Making fish on the grill is tough!  It sticks and burns and dries out easily.  But the charcoal flavor is terrific with any fish.  Here is the solution!  This is my favorite way to eat fish, and it's easy!

This fish is quick so it is great to either please a crowd or for a healthy dinner during the week.

The dry rub I use in the video is "Low Salt Cajun Rub" from Whole Foods.  There are also more traditional salmon rubs that have brown sugar in them, for a sweeter taste.  I like them both.

The video has more explanation than usual.  The down side is, it's longer.  So be ready to take some notes. Cedar planks are pretty easy to find.  I usually buy them in bulk when I find them. Try a "high end" grocery store, Price Club or even a building supply.  Otherwise, order them on the Internet.

The plank should soak in water for at least 30 minutes!

Planks can be reused a few times if you wash them off (no soap).  If you really want to get crazy, when they are "done" break them up and use as smoking chips.

If you do not have a charcoal grill:

Follow the recipe, but use an indirect cooking method on your gas grill.  If your gas grill has two burners, bring the grill up to a high temperature with both burners on.  Next, turn one burner off and place the plank over the extinguished burner, but as close to the lit burner as possible.  Everything else is the same as in the video.  If your gas grill has three burners, same technique, but turn off the middle burner and place the plank in the middle.  I'm unaware of a gas grill with one burner, but if that is your situation...  get a new grill!

I think I'm getting better speaking on camera, but it's still a bit dry.  I'll work on it.  I also wore a shirt!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Aged Steaks - Prime Rib (bone in) Father's Day 2011

Like many of you, I get to pick my favorite meal on Father's Day.  I choose aged Prime Rib.  Ask your butcher if he will age meat for you (if you don't have a butcher, find one).  When I buy a prime rib, I always get the whole piece.  That way, I can have it cut into whatever sizes we need and the leftovers freeze really well for a rainy day.  

Aged meat has a great nutty flavor.  If you go to a great steakhouse like Peter Luger or Wolfgang's you will recognize the taste.  If you live somewhere with no great steakhouses, that stinks.  All the more reason to seek out aged meat. For spice, I just rub them with a little olive oil and then liberally salt (kosher or sea) and pepper.  Generally, I don't use a lot of salt but these steaks are big, and what the heck...  it was Father's Day.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summer 2011 Burgers

A few notes:

-Stew ground "chuck" to make the burger meat. It's about 80% lean (really, that's not so lean).

-The end result has on top: cheese, caramelized onions, bacon, avocado, and spicy ketchup.

-These burgers are cooked rare.  Medium rare is acceptable.  If you want your burger cooked more than that, I'm sure there is a Wendy's close by.

Who Likes Mussels?

These rock.  And they only take five minutes to make.  Just mix the mussels with chopped garlic (1/2 cup), parsley (1 bunch), olive oil (1/4 cup), throw on a super hot pan or in a pot, and sprinkle with white wine (1/2 bottle).  Watch out! The wine will make a big plume of steam. Immediately cover, and wait a few minutes for the mussels to open.  As soon as they are open, they are done. Dump them into a bowl and serve.  A few mussels might not open.  They might be bad, so chuck them.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blog Trailer

Bits and pieces of the my summer blog.  This is serious business.

Paella on the grill

Rocco and I made Paella a while back.  It's tough to time the rice to be done at the same time the clams open.

Stew the Butcher

If you need good meat, call Stew.  What you see in the picture is a Prime Rib aged 30 days, that Stew just cut into steaks.  I grilled the steaks on Father's Day.

Tomatoes I picked last night

The orange tomatoes are "tie dye".  When you slice them, the cross section looks like a tie dye shirt. Here is where I ordered the tomato plants from.