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.