Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Day Three

I'm still catching up on all of our recent grilling adventures.  By the third day after Sandy we (my family plus Rocco and his family who live next store) had enough of roughing it and were debating ways to get out of town.  Also, it was Halloween but the NJ Governor had postponed the holiday as there were still so many power lines down.  So we figured we would make the best of things and cook something tasty for lunch.

As you know I'm handy with the grill and most meat, but when it comes to pizza, I'm a novice.  Rocco on the other hand, well... his name is Rocco, enough said.  So we put our talents together and decided to grill pizza for the kids.  We dressed up in our costumes and grilled some pizza which was about the best I had ever had outside of Naples.

Here is my recipe for pizza dough:

Drive to pizza place you like
Buy dough
Drive home
total time: 5-10 minutes

If you want to make your own dough or have a good recipe that is significantly better than your favorite pizza place's, please send me the recipe and I will publish it.

Making the pizza in the video:

1. Get your pizza stone really hot.  I've seen pizza grilled without a stone but I've never tried it.  I had the green egg at 650+ degrees.
2. Make a thin crust the same size as your stone (be sure you have a lot of flower on your pizza peel so nothing sticks). Rocco calls this "throwing pies".  The pizza dough we bought had to be divided into four mini doughs to fit on the stone.  Rocco put each in a bowl covered each with a bit of olive oil to prevent them from forming a crust.
3. Add a thin layer of sauce.  The sauce was just canned San Marzano tomatoes, chopped garlic and some salt and pepper.  Remember we had no electricity so we were making due.
4. Cheese was Mozzarella and Parmigiana but you could can be much more creative than that.
5. Toppings...  use your imagination.  Whatever you have lying around the house. Olives, sausage, vegetables, etc.
6. Each pie takes about 8 minutes on the egg.  Your situation will vary so keep and eye on things.  Crust is everything! Make sure it's crispy.

Check out the video:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - day one

Sorry for the delay but we just got power back at the Jersey Shore.  Just kidding!  We have had it for a few weeks.  Thankfully, the Griller Instinct team made it through the storm with minor damage which I can't say about all our friends, some of which you see in these videos.  I will be honest and let you know the delays in my postings are the result of my having a day job.  As much as I would like to conjure up new and exciting ways to smoke and grill meat all day ....  I've got to go to work!  What a distraction.

Back to the hurricane.  Sandy rolled in on Monday night.  We lost power around 1pm.  Luckily we have a generator that gives us lights inside and keeps all the meat and beer cold. By 6pm we were bored so we headed out to the deck to grill some steak.

In the video you will see me grill a steak that has recently come onto the scene.  You know I like good meat on the cheap and this fits right into that genre. I grilled a rib steak, but not a rib eye steak. This steak was cut off the rib.  I'm not totally sure how to describe it other than it's a steak cut from the rib rack but not the eye. I'll come back to you with specifics.  It's tender like a Flat Iron steak.

Also, I grilled broccoli.  I made the broccoli the same way I roast most vegetables.

Cut up veggies in a bowl
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
Yellow curry powder

Mix it up and roast at a high heat.  

Rib steak had the standard salt pepper olive oil.  The wind was so strong I had to send the kids inside half way through the video as I thought they might blow away.  The wind did stoke the fire with made the Green Egg shoot up to 650 degrees so it was an inferno, which you can see.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Habanero Hot Sauce

Once a year the Griller Instinct team makes hot sauce.  We make enough to last for 12 months.  It keeps well in the refrigerator.

Up until 2012 I have only made one version of the hot sauce.  The version is a food additive. What does that mean?  The sauce is too hot to put directly onto food.  It's meant to be added to other dishes to increase heat and flavor.  For example, half a teaspoon can be added to a cup of ketchup for burger night.  A tablespoon can be added to a pot of chili. A teaspoon can be added to tomato sauce, and so on.  Just so we are clear this version of the hot sauce should not be added directly to your food unless you want a mouth full of fire.

Many of my friends can't grasp the concept of a food additive.  Why not?  I'm not sure, maybe they drink too much.  So by request this year I made a second version of hot sauce that is not a food additive but rather a sauce that can be added directly to food.  Don't get me wrong, it's still hot but nothing too crazy.

In the video you will see me making both versions of the hot sauce.  The sauce that went into the pot and then was placed on the grill to simmer, can be added directly to food.

While the food additive hot sauce is my own recipe, the lower test version is not. I researched many ingredients and techniques for making hot sauce and I found a recipe I really like.  Here it is.  I also really like this guys (calls himself Meat Head) blog.  When I'm looking for new ideas and suggestion this that is what I read.

As far as the food additive version goes, here is my recipe:

First, let's talk safety.  Thick rubber gloves are required to do this and I would also recommend wearing glasses.  Do no roast habaneros indoors, especially with kids home.

5 pints of habaneros
1 cup of peeled garlic
kosher salt
white vinegar

This is very simple.  Roast the garlic in a foil tent with olive oil and salt.  Put the foil tent on the grill but use the inside shelf so there is less direct heat.  Figure the garlic will take 15-20 minutes.  It needs to be cooked but not burnt.

Roast the habaneros.  Put them on a baking sheet an put the baking sheet on the grill.  Toss the peppers around after 7 minutes and let cook a little longer, total should be 10-12 minutes.  When you start to smell the roasting peppers they are almost done..  You are looking for partial blackened peppers. Careful when you open the grill.  Don't inhale the fumes.

Once everything has cooled a bit pull the stems off the habeneros (leave everything else in tact like the seeds) and add to the blender.  Then add the garlic and some salt and pepper.  Then add some vinegar, I would say two cups.  Blend.  Add more vinegar if you want a runnier sauce.  Add less if you want it to be more viscous.

Bottle it up and you are good to go.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

2012 Chili Contest - "Still Sleeping Alone" Wins Second Year in a Row

Last Saturday was our local chili cook off.  The way the Front Porch Chilifest is run, the year after you win, you are an honorary judge rather than a competitor.  Rocco and I are competitors at heart so we opted to enter a Chili and only be eligible for the people's choice award.  We were not eligible for the judges pick "Best in Fest".


Result?  We won again!  Two years in a row of "peoples choice" award. We worked on the chili from 8am - 2:30pm, then hauled all 70lbs over to the contest. Those giant chili pots came from Rocco's bagel shop.  He also browned off all the meat the night before to give us a head start.

At the contest we served every drop.  500+ people had the pleasure of sampling "Still Sleeping Alone". We had a big jar of my homemade hot sauce (recipe and video coming soon) as an option to increase the heat.

If your ready to make your own I'll give you my best advice.  Don't be afraid of chili powder.  There is a lot more chili powder in good chili than you might think.  Chili needs to be very spicy to taste like chili.  Not necessarily hot and spicy, just spicy.  The quality of the chili powder is also a big factor.  That big plastic McCormick container you bought at BJ's in 1998..  chuck it.

This was all for charity. The Front Porch Club raised over 10K for the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council.

There were some minor adjustments to the RECIPE from last year.  I can't give away all our secrets, but I will give you a hint!  Any ingredients not listed in the recipe (there aren't many) appear in the video.  Check it out.

If you want to compare how we made the Chili year over year, here is the 2011 video:

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paella Night

Everyone shows up for Paella Night.  It's a stressful project, especially over hot coals where there is little control of the temperature. There are a thousand variations of paella but I usually make this one.  It' a combination of seafood, chicken thighs and chorizo sausage.

Crowd size recommendation: 6-8
Level of difficulty: 8/10
Assistance required: yes, 2-3 people to help cook
Cost: $$$ (on a scale of $-$$$$)
Pluses: One pot wonder
Minuses: Timing the rice to be ready as the clams open up can be tricky.

Notes: When the paella is about done, you let the rice burn slightly on the bottom.  That is called...


Paella's finishing touch, La Soccarat, is the most simple yet most elusive part of the process. La Soccarat is the slightly burned crust of rice on the bottom of the Paella pan.

Why would you intentionally burn the rice? Well first, it is only a slight burn, and second, because it adds an orchard-like authenticity to your Paella.

Since we are doing this over charcoal, it's already authentic! Anyhow, heat up second chimney of charcoal when the rice goes in. Then add the extra coals to the grill 5 minute before the dish is finished. This will add a lot of heat to the fire and make it easy to create the soccarat. Just stop stirring the paella for the last 60-90 seconds of cooking and the bottom will get a crust.

Here is the recipe.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Shrimp Boil 2012

Every year this meal gets a little better.   Nothing beats a shrimp boil at the beach.  This was a great way to end the summer.  Thanks Greg for narrating.

Shrimp Boil Recipe


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Grilled Bruschetta - for anchovy lovers

This is world class appetizer.  If you love anchovies (like me) you will love this recipe, and if you don't like anchovies, just leave them off and it's still great. You will need a cast iron pan or griddle.  This should be placed on top of your grill grate and brought to a high heat.

1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 baguette sliced into 12-15 1/2 inch thick slices
1 log of soft goat cheese
1 can of anchovy fillets
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves

1. Make the sauce.  Combine 1/2 cup of olive oil with 1/2 bunch of minced flat leaf parley, 1/4 cup oregano and minced garlic.
2.Toss the tomatoes with 1/2 cup oil and salt and pepper.
3. Toast the baguette slices on the grill (about 1 min on each side).
4. Place the tomatoes sliced side down on the hot griddle and leave them there until they are burnt on the bottom (about 10 minutes).
5. While the tomatoes are cooking spread the goat cheeses on the toasted baguettes (about 1/3 inch thick).
6. Remove the tomatoes (use a stiff metal spatula) and place 3-4 on each baguette (the goat cheese will act like glue).
7. Top the tomatoes with one anchovy fillet.
8. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil sauce.

Serve immediately

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Roasted Salsa

You know how there are some foods that taste infinitely better when you make them yourself?  Salsa is one of those, and it's right at the top of the list, largely in part because you can get your ingredients fresh, easily make it in bulk and it's simple to adjust it to your taste as you make it (plus, who doesn't love salsa?).  There's also the added bonus that salsa doesn't turn quickly--salsa will last in your fridge for a week--you're almost always guaranteed to use what you make.  It's versatile, and we put it on anything: eggs, steak, whatever...

Most people are used to salsa being red, but it can also be green (salsa verde), getting its color from  tomatillos instead of tomatoes. This version of Roasted Salsa is combination of both tomatoes and tomatillos.  I roasted most of the ingredients, and I'm sure you're wondering why roast them?  The first reason is that warm salsa is slightly different, and the other is that cooking the ingredients on the grill gives the salsa a distinct smokey flavor.

In the video, I used canned tomatoes, though normally I would advocate using fresh.  The tomatoes in my garden were not ready, but the grill was on, we were hungry for salsa, and sometimes you just have to make sacrifices .  But my first tomatoes are starting to turn red now, so I plan on using fresh ones to make the next batch, and I know I'll notice the difference.

2lbs tomatillos, husked
2lbs of vine ripe tomatoes or 1 large can of whole San Marzano (just tomatoes, not the sauce), chopped
2 medium white onions
4 serrano chiles seeded (or not)
12 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of cilantro
Juice of three limes and the zest of one
1 tablespoon of sugar
healthy splash of olive oil

1. Grill the tomatillos, onion and serranos until they start to get soft.  Use a grill basket if you have one.  If not, use kabob skewers.

2. Wrap the garlic in foil with some olive oil and salt.

3. Grill for about 15 minutes.

4. Combine everything in the food processor and give it a whirl.  Do not over process!  This should be chunky.

5. Enjoy!

Check it out:

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Leg of Lamb with Mint Chimichurri Sauce

There's an old saying that the way to a man's heart is through is stomach, so what better way to show dad how much you love him than with a delicious meal on Father's Day.  For those of you still in need of a great grill idea, I've got something easy and crowd-pleasing, because, let's be honest, who wants to spend all day on Father's Day cooking?  

But who wants to eat well on Father Day?  Everyone.  

Grilled leg of lamb is something that is easy to make that also takes very little time and effort to prepare.  The real key to this recipe is temperature.  Leg of lamp is thick in some spots and thin in others, so getting the whole piece of meat medium rare is tricky.  The lamb needs to come off the grill when the thickest part if at 125 degrees, allowing some of the meat to be rare and and some to be medium.  Everyone is happy. 

While the meat itself has a great flavor, if you want to add a nice twist to it, here is a great version of Chimichurri sauce that nicely compliments the lamb.  Here's everything you need:
Take one leg of lamb, and 2 1/2 hours prior to cooking, whisk together 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil and lots of salt (Kosher) and pepper.
Slather the meat in the marinade and put it in the refrigerator..  Remove lamb from refrigerator 45 minutes prior to grilling to allow the meat to come to room temperature.

For the Mint Chimichurri sauce:

In the video below, you see I use a food processor to make this; that was a mistake.  I ended up needing to add additional hand chopped ingredients to get the right consistency, which is oily with chucks of stuff in it.  Mince everything below.

1/2 bunch of oregano (can be dried, but only this one ingredient; all other ingredients should be fresh)
1 bunch parsley,
2 bunches of mint,
3-4 jalapenos (remove seeds),
5 cloves of garlic,
1 Big splash red wine vinegar
1-1.5 cup olive oil
salt (kosher) and pepper
juice of 3-4 limes (grate some zest in if you want to get crazy)
Grilling the Lamb:
Make the grill as hot as possible.  Grill time will be approximately 15 minutes per side, but may be much less, depending on the thickness of the meat.  Grill side one for 12-15 minutes, flip, and after another 6 minutes start checking the temperature.  Get the meat off the grill at 125 (center temp, for medium rare in the thickest part). Leave grill on. Cover the lamb with foil and let rest for a least 10 minutes before you carve it (1/2 inch thick slices).  The thickness will vary so you will have some medium rare and some medium.  If you a cold center part, keep carving.  Take the pieces that are too rare and throw them back on the grill for 30-45 seconds per side.

Check out the video:

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jammin Salmon

Want to cook a whole fish?  Here is how we did it.

Call the fish market and order your fish cleaned, scaled, and deboned.  Ask them to leave the head and tail on. We used salmon (about 6lbs).

1. Soak two cedar planks in water.  Do this minimally 30 minutes before you want to cook.

2. Open up your salmon and add:
-1 thinly sliced white onion
-1 thinly sliced lemon
-1 cup of fennel fronds
-sea salt and fresh ground pepper
-fennel butter (2 sticks of softened butter combined in a food processor with fennel fronds, honey,a little orange juice, sea salt and pepper).  Make up your own proportions.  Taste it, see if you like it. Put it back in the fridge and let it cool down again.

3. Close the fish and tie it.  Use butcher string and tie it every three inches. 

4. Heat a grill to medium.  Place the cedar planks on the grill. If you can turn off the burner directly under the planks, do so. Place the fish on the planks.  

5. Flip the fish after 20 minutes.  Then cook the fish for about 20-30 minutes, or until the center temperature is 135 degrees.

6. Remove the fish from the grill (don't let the head come off, like we did), cut off the string, and serve.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Holy Guacamole

It's rib night.  I assume you have already read that post from a few months back.  We needed a great appetizer to go with the ribs.  Guacamole is an obvious choice.  Guacamole has to be made fresh. Store bought guacamole is gross.

A few notes:

Picking out ripe avocados is critical to guacamole success.  They need to give some when you squeeze them, but not be mushy.  It's a fine line, and takes some practice.  If you can't find ripe avocados, just make something else.  Unripe avocados just wont work at all.

Guacamole starts turning brown after about 30 minutes, if left uncovered.  Leaving the pit in the guac does nothing.  You can drizzle lime juice on top and refrigerate it, and that will help a little bit, but really what needs to happen is oxygen must be kept off the guac.  Use plastic wrap and cover the guac by placing the plastic on top, so no air interacts with your appetizer.

.5 medium white onion diced
2 Serrano peppers diced (for hot guac use both peppers and include the seeds, for medium use both peppers and remove the seeds, for even less hot use one Serrano and remove the seeds)
1-2 tablespoons of kosher salt
.5 bunch of diced fresh cilantro

Combine these four ingredients.  You can muddle them, use a food processor, or finely dice them together.

now add:

meat of 5 avocados
juice of three limes
1 health splash of olive oil
fresh ground pepper

fold all this together (I like to leave it chunky)

check out the video:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Matzo Ball Confit

Yes, I know what confit means.  No, I'm not going to cook Matzo Balls in their own fat.  However, I will substitute the duck fat from the smoked ducks we made last week for the required oil in the Matzo Balls, and that is what makes this recipe right for Griller Instinct.

Let's start with the chicken soup that the Matzo Balls are served in.  Well....  I accidentally deleted the video of me making the chicken soup.  So, I recommend make some really rich chicken soup (you can always used my Smoked Chicken Soup recipe if you need a base).  I used two 4-pound chickens (in parts), carrots, onions, garlic (1 head), thyme, celery, two bouillon cubes, fresh dill, a jalapeno and whatever vegetables I had kicking around.

Cut all the vegetables in quarters.  Don't waste time peeling them them.  Put it all in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, them turn it down and let it simmer for 1 hour.  Strain everything out and keep the broth (chicken soup).  Hold on to the chicken and make into something else, like a chicken salad, since there's no sense in wasting perfectly good food.  Some recipes call for cooling the soup and removing the fat that floats to the top.  I say "that's ridiculous."

Is this enough broth?  Perhaps not.  To make a Griller Instinct broth there needs to be some grilled components, right?  I boiled the leftover Thanksgiving (smoked) turkey carcass, and froze the broth (back in November obviously).  So I'm adding that to my chicken soup for a little extra liquid and a slight smokey flavor. I can't imagine you not having some smoked turkey broth in your freezer, but if you don't (and you should), have some good quality boxed broth ready to go.

Don't forget the duck was smoked, as well, so the Matzo Balls are going to have a back note of smoke to match the broth.  There you have it, Griller Instincts take on Matzo Ball soup.  When I told Stew how great they balls came out, he said "no sh*%, you made them with duck fat!"

Here is my Matzo Ball recipe:

12 eggs (beaten)
5 tablespoons of chopped flat leaf parsley
4 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup of smoked duck fat (you can substitute 1 cup of clarified butter)
3-3.5 cups of matzo meal
2 cups seltzer

Combine all this (with a big whisk).
Put in in the fridge for two hours.
Fill a big pot with 2-3 inches of your broth
make 2 inch matzo balls (get some oil on your hands to keep the meal from sticking to you)
Boil broth, add balls, (leave a lot of room as they will double in size), reduce heat to a simmer, cook for 30 minutes, remove and let dry on a dish towel. This will likely take two to three batches, and you will keep having to add broth.

When you are ready to eat, heat up the soup, add the balls to the liquid to let them heat back up, then serve.

Here is the part of the video I didn't delete:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sweet and Smoky Spring Cleaning Duck

Last weekend, Stew had some good-looking ducks at his shop. So I picked up two knowing that one four-to-five pound duck feeds about two people.  With the seasons changing, we thought this was a great time for Spring Cleaning Duck, and after it was carved, we put the meat on top of a great salad and it really came out great.  The flavor (not the texture) is similar to Peking duck, but we didn't go through all the hassle of drying out the bird and the smoke added a great flavor, as well.

First ,I brined the ducks overnight, and making the brine is quick and easy.

1.5 Gallons of water
1 Cup kosher salt
1 Cup orange juice
5 Garlic cloves
Tablespoon of black peppercorns

Mix all this together, add your duck, and put it in the fridge overnight.

Next, I smoked the duck for 4.5-5 hours at 250 degrees.  I used hickory and apple wood on top of the coals in the smoker.

To smoke the duck:
1. Remove duck from brine and prick the skin several times (just the skin) so the fat can run out.
2. Cut off any fat that is hanging off the bird.  Dry off the bird.
3. Put the duck on a smoking spit.
4. Put the duck in the smoker with a pan underneath to catch the dripping fat.
5. Figure out a way to keep the inside of the smoker moist.  I placed two cans of beer in the smoker.
6. After 30 minutes, begin basting the  bird every 25-30 minutes, with the spring cleaning glaze.
7. After 5 hours it's done.  Take the duck off and carve.

While the duck is smoking, you'll want to prepare your Spring Cleaning Glaze.  Why odd name, you may ask?  Well, this sauce gives you the chance to empty out all the mostly used jellies and turn them into a jam-azing sauce for your duck.  You'lld need:

1. 1/2 Cup honey
2. 2 Cups of Jelly, combined (whatever jellies and spreads you have kicking around in your fridge)
3. The juice of one lemon
4. 2 Tablespoons of ground ginger root
5. 1 Tablespoon of your favorite hot sauce

Put all this is a pan and heat to a boil.  Turn down the heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.  Then let the sauce cool until it becomes thick and sticky.  That way is easily adheres to the bird.

Check out the completed bird in the video.  It tasted as good as it looks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tri-Tip is Good Meat on the Cheap

The Griller Instinct team went on our annual family ski vacation to our time share in Park City last week.  The place has great kitchens and nice grills outside, which meant we had plenty of opportunity to cook.  It's easy to forget a good butcher like Stew is hard to find, and let me tell you, there are no independent butchers in Park City, so we had to make due with the local super market.

We found ourselves at the meat counter in a grocery store faced with $20/lb, average looking, boneless rib eye steak, that had been pre cut much too thin.  This steak wreaked of disappointing results.  

We called an audible and rummaged through the pre-cut in the cooler.  I found two good looking pieces of Tri-Tip, and I knew this was a better option.  What is Tri-Tip? Seasoned, cooked and sliced right, Tri-Tip is a great choice.  It's not a popular cut, so it's a reasonably priced piece of meat.

Standard Griller Instinct preparation of salt (sea or Kosher), fresh ground pepper and oilve oil.  Then we caramelized some sweet Vidalia onions to go on top of the steak.  

The grill was very hot, so medium rare for the Tri-Tip was approximately 7 minutes per side (Tri-Tip is a thick cut).  Lastly, to ensure your steak remains tender, Tri-Tip must be sliced across the grain.  

The steaks came out great. Check out the video and see for yourself.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

BBQ Lunch at the Canyons

Griller Instinct is skiing in Utah. Check on the lunch we found! Wings, brisket, and ribs all while sitting outside in the sun, surrounded by snow.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sous-Vide New York Strip

Here at Griller Instinct, we typically discuss the finer points of, well, grilling.  My friend John, however, has been talking up the sous-vide method of cooking: what it is, why someone would do it, and the fact that it's not as hard as I'd always imagine. 

Since John was kind enough to both teach me abou sous-vide and lend me some of the equipment necessary to do the cooking, I wanted to pass my experience along in kind.

What is sous-vide?

The simplest way to define sous-vide may be to refer to its French meaning, “under vacuum.” Anything associated with a vacuum machine is sous-vide. In restaurants, the sous-vide process usually (but not always) consists of:
  • placing products into impervious plastic bags
  • putting those bags under vacuum
  • heat sealing those bags
  • releasing the vacuum
  • further manipulating, processing, or storing

For our purposes, we had Stew the butcher vacuum seal five NY Strip steaks.  I placed them in a water bath and set a water circulator to 128 degrees, then let them "cook" in the water bath for 4 hours.  If I were to make the steaks again, I would have made the bath 130 degrees, so learn from my soue-vide mistakes.

Why would someone do this?

I see two uses for doing this at home: first,  the end results have a unique texture.  In the case of the steaks, the texture is unusual because the meat sits in the water bath for four hours, they turn out very tender.

The second reason you might want to try sous-vide is its precise temperature control.  I set the water bath to 128 (rare) and no matter how long I leave it in there the steaks won't over cook.

Can I do this at home?

Only if you have a water circulator.  You also will need access to a vacuum sealer (and I was lucky enough to have Stew vacuum seal my steaks).

After the steaks were in the water bath for four hours, I removed them from the plastic wrap and seared each side for on minute, on a screaming hot cast iron skillet (600+ degrees).

I let the steaks rest for five minutes and they came out great.

I poured the remaining juices that were left in the bag into a pan, added red wine, and reduced it for a sauce.

Do you like Chemistry?  If so, here is some good info on cooking sous-vide.  I would say sous-vide is 50% Chemistry 50% cooking, but 100% delicious.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vermont Ski Weekend

We took Griller Instinct on location to Mount Snow, in West Dover, Vermont last weekend and though the weather has not been favorable this skiing season, we've managed to keep the food top-rate.

To ensure our food had a nice rustic touch to it, we cooked over an open wood fire, reducing some logs over an old Weber grill, down to embers.  This takes some extra time, but it's worth the effort, with the process taking about 90 minutes for 8 logs.

Once started, the fire becomes very hot! So hot, in fact, that it became tough to stand near it and the steaks cooked quickly. "But, Neil, how thick should my steaks be?" is something I'm sure you're asking yourself, and after much trial and error, I can tell you that I had my butcher cut my meats to 1 and 3/4 inch thickness.  All you need is a little salt, pepper and olive oil, and these steaks can cook in 9 and 1/2 minutes on a hot grill.

And, of course no lodge dinner wouldbe complete without a few sides.  To start, we made reduced onions, made with with five thickly sliced Vidalia onions placed in a big pot, with Olive oil in the bottom.  Cook this on the stove at medium low for about an hour until the onions reduce, the liquid boils out and they caramelize.  Then, they are ready to be served on top of the steak.

Then there is our easy Creamed Spinach.  Defrost three boxes of frozen spinach and put in a dish towel.  Squeeze as much water out as possible.  Add the spinach to a pan with about 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 tablespoons butter and some salt and pepper.  Cook this on the stove until it hot and thick.

Lastly, we rounded it out with Shrimp in a Boil Bag.  We intended to make it with garlic but someone forgot to buy some, so we audibled to lime and butter.  So, one pound of shell on shrimp, 3 tablespoons of butter,  lime juiced, salt and pepper.  Wrap in foil and grill for 5 minutes on a side.  One man's mistake is another man's tasty side dish!

Check out the video:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Angry Lobster with Spinach

Angry Lobster with Spinach is a recipe I adapted from different dishes I have tried at several restaurants.

The way it's both prepared and served when dining out requires a lot of special equipment, but after some time, I was able to figure all the ingredients and modify the recipe so it could be made at home.  Though more interestingly than its preparation (which the video shows is very interesting), people seem to want to know why it's called "Angry Lobster" and the answer is simple: it has a ton of flavor, it's a bit spicy, and it just definitely looks the part.

Here a few important notes:

1. This is not an every day type of dish.  While it's worth making (because it's so good), it makes a mess and there a lot of ingredients.  I recommend saving it for a special occasion.  We made it most recently on New Year's Eve.
2. The lobster has to be split. The claws, the tail, and the parts the attaches the claw to the body (I don't know what those are called) need to be split long way to expose all the meat.  This needs to be done when the lobster is raw.  The splitting process will make a mess (you will see me get hit with flying lobster goo in the video).
Can you get the Fish Monger to do it for you?  I've never asked, but it you can, that's a big step towards making this easier. If you go that route, you really need to have the lobsters split within a few hours of it being cooked.  If you do it yourself, splitting should be done with a clever or a heavy knife.  Have some work gloves at the ready (one's that can be thrown out when you are done). If possible, do this outside.
3. Lobster is really cheap right now.  I bought five 1.5 pound lobsters for less that $70.
4. Kill the lobster in a humane way.  The video explains how to do that.

Read the recipe carefully before you get started.  Here it is.

Check out the video.  This is a funny one.  My friend, Greg, is our guest butcher.  He's one of those people that comes over to eat ALL the time, and always brings something nice, but is reluctant to help cook.  So... I give him the nastiest jobs.  As always, he was a good sport about it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grilled, Yes, Grilled, Meat Loaf (For Kids!)

I like to think that most of my recipes are born out of a great story, but sometimes, their creation just boils down to sheer necessity. 

My youngest daughter is a lot like me in that she's stubborn and loves a good hamburger.  However, that did not bode well for me when I tried to get her to eat meat loaf (a favorite of mine, second only to this Meatloaf).

But with much perseverance, comparing meat loaf to a hamburger, and a fair amount of bacon, I was able to convert my daughter.  Since then, it's turned into a love affair, and my two daughters had tasked me with figuring out how to make meat loaf on the grill. It's a fun and easy project, and it has helped me get the kids more involved with grilling, which is something I love.

Here's the recipe for kids (below I've included a recipe that's a bit spicier for adults):

Stew the Butcher makes us a meat loaf mix which consists of 4 pounds of ground beef, pork and veal.
This will make enough for four separate loaves, so if you don't want to make enough to put 3 in the freezer as our family does, simply divide the portions as needed.

Put the meat loaf mix in a big bowl and add:

3/4 Cup Unseasoned Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Ketchup (optional)
1/4 Cup Italian Seasoning
4 Eggs, beaten
1 Bunch Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
Combine the ingredients and separate into 4 loaves and top with bacon.

And for adults who like spice:
Add Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, and Red Chili Flakes to taste.

Wrap your loaf up in foil and put it on a heated grill (I wrapped it twice so the bottom would not burn).  Since the meat loaf has pork in it, we need it to come to 165 degrees in the center.  This took abut 45 minutes (medium heat).  Make sure you check the temperature using a meat thermometer.

Check out the video: