Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Brined Pork Chop

So, I have to admit...I have a new culinary crush. I'm totally head over foodie heels in love with Anne Burrell and her new show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef. I love the fact that she actually cooks and though her secret ingredient seems to be fist fulls of salt...she's got some seriously good tips. I saw her show on pork chops and was very much inspired. Sooo...when I went down to the farmers market..the girls from Chestnut farms had some pork chops!!!! Organic piggies...I mean..how can you beat that? Now...Anne had a recipe for a 3 day brine for the pork chops. I had never brined anything before but I was so game with this beautiful meat. Salt/Sugar/Bay leaf/Garlic/Onion/Celery/Chili powder...into the brine it all went!

Three days later I took out the pork chop and toweled them off. Now...it's been raining like you wouldn't believe around here so I was hesitant to use my Big Green Egg. Sooo..I fired up the gas grill and decided to give it a whirl. As the grill heated up...I decided to grill some fruit that I got at the farmers market which included white nectarines and Saturn peaches.
Seriously...how good do those look? Onto a super hot grill the pork chops went. After 3 minutes I turned the chops 45 degrees to get a nice crosshatch pattern. I flipped after a total of 7 minutes and repeated the process. As the pork chops cooked I caramelized some shallots I got at the Farmers market. Once the chops reached the proper temperature I took them off and put the fruit on.

Seriously...back in the day my Mom used to make pork chops, generally with some stuffing on top and I wasn't a fan at all. The brining for the chops made them SOOO flavorful and juicy I couldn't believe it. The fruit came out great as well along with the shallots and it was a wonderful meal. Overall, I really can't wait to make some more pork chops..and brining will very much be on the docket:


******************WEEZER - PORK AND BEANS************

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Weekday Ribbing

So, the best thing about my job is that from time to time I work from home. I find this to be the perfect opportunity to be able to cook a fun lunch despite being on the clock. Of course...when one wakes up these days...never know how much rain has fallen or is on the schedule for the day...Now, the other day I received a care package with the book Smoke and Spice in the mail from my favorite, semi blog-retired BBQ guru William of Never Trust a Skinny Chef fame. Turns out it was this incredible book on BBQ and since I'm such a newbie at it there are some great recipes in it. One in particular caught my eye as I decided to do a riff on a dry rub for some really great ribs from the meat girls at Chestnut Farms.
Now...instead of a paprika based rub, I went with 2 TBS light brown sugar, 2 TBS dark brown sugar, 2 TBS all spice, 1/2 tsp each of nutmeg, cayanne, cinnamon and onion powder. I don't put salt/pepper in the rub as I put it on the ribs separate..always. Let it sit overnight in the fridge.
I got up a little early to start the fire on the BGE. The wonderful thing about smoking ribs on the egg is that once you fill up the egg (not too much mind you!) with hardwood charcoal the egg you don't have to keep shoveling more wood into it. Easy, eh? Perfect for workin' from home 'Q!

I had soaked some cherry smokewood overnight in water and added only when I opened the smoker. Now...these were spare ribs, but I decided to still employ the 3, 2, 1 method. 3 hours uncovered smoke at 225, 2 hours wrapped in foil, 1 hour unwrapped. Below is the exciting photo of the ribs wrapped in foil!
Ya gotta put the foil on. After a total of 5 hours...this was the yummy goodness
I added a little apple cider to keep the ribs moist for the last hour of smoking. What came out off the egg was unexpected yet really really tasty. Truth is that I'm very used to the paprika based ribs, but these had a wonderful savory flavor with some great little crunchay bits to nibble on. Not really all that sweet, in case ya'll were wondering and the flavoring from the local/organic ribs was really incredible. Beats getting take out any day of the week!

********************Fun folk stuff ********************

Jaymie Gerard - W

Monday, July 7, 2008

Honay Mustard Chicken

So, I hope ya'll had a great 4th of July weekend! I had the distinct pleasure of being able not only to attend the wedding of my friend Jeanne and her husband Phillip but to be the principal photographer!! It was a great way to spend the day and I had a wonderful time shooting some happy people

So I was browsing through the naked wiz's Big Green Egg page when I ran across a recipe (from a woman named Cat) for honey mustard chicken. The lineup included:
Some olive oil, honay, salt, pepper, soy sauce and my addition...some lemon thyme that I bough from the Natick Organic farm. Mmmm...lemon thyme. Basically the ratio was 3 TBS Mustard, 1 TBS Honay, 1 TSP Soy Sauce, Salt/Pepper and some Thyme. Whisk it all up and you've got your sauce:
Now I now that raw meat isn't where ya'll are at for blog viewing raw meat...but what I did was to put the honey mustard sauce on top of the chicken and let it come to room temperature for about an hour. A few hours beforehand, I had thrown some applewood chips in with some water to soak. At the last minute, right before putting the chicken on the grill I dropped the smokewood on
Looks pretty good, eh? Now, this brings up an interesting point...I've discovered that the dome temperature is about 30 degrees less than what the temp is on the grill. I set the grill for 300 dome temperature and cooked for about 55 minutes. Admittedly I started making this dish a little late...so to actually have dinner in a reasonable time I made a crab/avocado salad with roast red peppers.
Now, I have neglected to mentioned that the one thing thing that I tried which was that I spatchcok'ed the chicken!! I had a bit of experience with this when I made a duck for thanksgiving. So..after 55 minutes, flip the chicken and give it another 30 minutes to crisp up the skin
What came out was SOOO damn good! Seriously...I love rotisserie chicken and this was just about as close as I've ever tasted to that. I'd love to make this again with perhaps some garlic!! mmm...garlic! Though I had already eaten dinner, I had to have a leg...just to try. It reminded me of my Dad who always had a left over Turkay leg the day after Thanksgiving :)

*****************Sweet Music********************
Deadsy-The Key to Gramercy Park

Saturday, June 28, 2008

New Eggland Festival

So, when I bought my Big Green Egg, I had heard about these Egg Festivals that owners of BGE's go to, cook and generally have a fun time! It just happened to be my luck that this year, New England was going to host it's first annual Eggfest this June! It was only about an hour and ten minutes away...so with a very patient, pregnant vegetarian wife with me, we headed up to find:A whole bunch of people who are just as nutty about their BBQ/Grilling as I am :) Here, Stephanie models her very first Egg Tshirt...I couldn't be more proud!

There were people cooking of all skill levels but everyone seemed to be having a super cool time. This family seemed to have unlimited, diverse selections of food that ran from ribs, to pulled pork to sun dried tomato dip.
It goes without saying that that the Curran family was one of my favorite stops that I kept looping back to...they seemed to have a lot of family members there who were hanging out and helping with the cooking.
As you can imagine, this was a family event...this little guy was loving the chocolate cake!
Of course, the real start was the BGE...I know I sound like broken record, but it truly is an amazing piece of BBQ equipment
This guy was part of Team Lunchmeat who are part of the New England BBQ society. It certainly looks like an interesting group to join...I have some literature that I'm going to review.
Steph just kept swiping the camera 'cause she got a kick outta me going around and trying the different recipes that people were coming up with.

It was about midway through strolling around when I noticed some mini sliders. Always a big fan o' burgers I had to try one.

When I looked up I saw:
Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 fame! Seriously...I had no idea he was going to be there, though Steph seemed to have read something on the website. We had gone to 647 for our anniversary and absolutely had a great time. We took a couple minutes to chat with him and he was very nice. However, more food called as we tried some incredible pizza.
Also, had some yummy ribs. I didn't catch this guys name but he was really nice as we chatted a while regarding some BBQ techniques.
Yeah...Steph took this one as I was trying some Curran family pulled pork....YUM!
There also were some interesting desserts including cooking some sweet potatoes in butter on the grill
That were turned into a yummy desert that had a sweet cream cheese filling...YUM!
There was also a desert made with some grilled bananas...yum.
Overall, I think the show was a huge success...it was a very positive environment and it was really fun to be around people who love food and sharing BBQ techniques and tips. The thing that I dug was that it wasn't a competition, it was all about the food and sharing what you think would be fun for everyone :) I would love to say I'd be there to cook next year, but there is NO way I'm moving my egg off the porch! lol

****Just because I was feeling a little Nerdy***********

Orbital - Dr. Who Remix

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Rubin' some Chicks

Now...when using Natural Lump Charcoal, I've learned that it is VERY important to not just light the grill but to let it get up to temperature before I even think about putting meat or anything else on it. A couple times before I was so enlightened, I would put meat on the grill while blue/white smoke was still coming out the top. These are the impurities that the natural charcoal is burning off...so wait until the only thing coming out the top of your grill is HEAT! :D

So, I know from past experience that blog folks don't dig seeing raw meat so I didn't take any pix of the chicken prior to prepping. But here's a semi-wet rub that I created....take some concentrated tomato puree, add some Chipotle puree (about 1/3 as much relative to the tomato paste), dark brown sugar, salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. Let that sit for a little while to blend then added it to some chicken thighs to give some flavor. Now...most people (including myself when I don't have tons of time) cook thighs at around 350 'till done. What I did in this situation was to cook 'em low (200 degrees) and slow (3 hours). I hit it with soem reserved glaze from time to time but not too often...remember..."if you are lookin' you ain't cookin'". What came out I have to say was pretty damn yummy:

Little sweet...little spicay and really tender. I'd totally recommend the slow/low thighs if you haven't done it. Now...just so you can see what Boston has been up to last week.....I got outta work last Thursday at lunch to go see the Celtics celebrate their 17th championship:

The crowds were outta control, but it was really nice to be able to get out and enjoy a really nice day out with some nutty but fun sports fans. I know that people around here have been waiting since 1986 to celebrate a championship and as I was one of the kids walkin' around in the 6th grade with a Celtics cap, I had to smile and enjoy the moment.

**********GROOVY SLOW/LOW MUSIC****************

The Stills - Still in Love

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Local Saturday

So, when it's a nice Saturday in our beautiful town Stephanie and I will walk downtown to our common green and go to the farmers market. To date there hasn't been much in the way of produce but we still keep goin' so that we can see what is there. This Saturday Steph saw a sign for a yard sale so we decided to stop by and found:

Some old skool muffin tins for 50 cents (which we didn't buy but I dug). Steph found a steamer for 25 cents which we did buy!
Assorted pots and pans...vintage family stuff. As we aren't going to college...no need for cheap pots/pans. The question of the day had to come from Steph when I pointed out a pressure cooker when she asked if I wanted to buy it and I replied "Sure I wouldn't mind a pressure cooker...just not the first 80 year old version of it!!"
My favorite item which we didn't buy was a full skeleton of some unidentified animal. I was thinking about asking...but I really didn't want to know ;) Moving on we went to the market where we stopped at the booth for Chestnut Farms. We try to support local industry as much as possible and I would implore you to take a look at the organic and humane ways the different meats are raised and processed. We picked up a pound of ground meat and a package of all beef hot dogs.
We then headed over to see Debbie of "Sweet Marissa's Bakery"
Now Debbie is engaged to a guy named Virgilio. One of my oldest and best friends is Dee, whom I cooked pasta with her Mom a while ago. Virg is Dee's brother and given how I feel a part of the family we always stop by and say hello. Regardless of the family connection, Debbie makes some great baked goods:
I had put in a personal request a couple weeks ago for the chocolate Pizzelle's and Debbie came through with flying colors. I'll just say this...we bought two packages of these cookays on Sat. morning and as of Sunday night there are no more. I also will point out that Steph isn't eating sweets right now...you may discuss that amongst yourselves. For dinner that night...Steph put together an incredible salad of tomatoes/mozzarella/basil.
Yeah...we live on the edge eating tomatoes. I got the BGE (Big Green Egg) up to temperature and grilled up some Onions which I had seasoned with a bit of salt/pepper/cumin/ginger.
I prepped the ground beef by chopping up a little bit of onion, dicing some garlic and seasoning with chili pepper, cumin and cinnamon. I had originally put them on skewers but they fell off when cooked on the grill. This led, by my hand admittedly to some drier meat kebabs than what I wanted. I looked it up online and the meat that Chestnut Farm sells is 95% fat free! Not bad...but also needs care when cooking. What came out was a very healthy, mostly locally grown dinner...not bad for some Saturday grilling, eh?

*********My favorite band of 2008 hands down!************

Vampire Weekend - M79

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Smokin Challah

Ok, now I've got to admit, when we purchased our home the thing that I was most excited about was the ability to grill outside. Now I had a small propane grill that I've used to grill when I tailgate that I really love. We bought a small stand for it so that I could grill a little last fall when the weather was semi nice. As spring arrived, thoughts again turned to grilling outside and a new gril and the purchase of a new grill for me to make some real BBQ. At the back of me brain I remembered my pal William writing about making a ceramic cooker based on an Alton Brown design. This led me to do some research on Ceramic Cookers and specifically the Big Green Egg. Looking it over...I was totally hooked. I looked up all the Youtube clips, read as much as I could and saw a piece of hardware that could do the following:
  • Grill (at super hot temperatures!)
  • Smoke (at super low temperatures over a long period of time)
  • Bake
I really wanted a charcoal grill...that wasn't debatable, but I also wanted a smoker. Based on my research...the BGE was what I wanted as it did so much. Admittedly, it is a bit on the pricey side...but I'd rather buy a quality product that I would use all the time. So....we purchased my new baby in March and brought it home. With a ceramic cooker like the egg...the main drawback is the huge 140 lbs weight of lugging it around. Our yard was one big mudpit in March and our deck was only a glimmer of our imagination so we put the egg down near the back stairs.

I'm going to take an aside here and let you in on my plans for the blog...I really want this to show ya'll the evolution of me as a BBQ guy and not just have the successes. Having said all that ...I'll continue

As I was itchin' to try something on the Egg I decided that I would try to bake some bread. I've always wanted to try cooking Challah and thought this would be a good way to kick things off :) I found a recipe online and got rocking. I know most people probably are thinking that it's a strange thing to cook for the first thing on a grill...but that is precisely the reason why. I kicked off things by lighting the grill with my electric starter.

A lot of people think charcoal and they think what a drag it is to light, ash...all that. Seriously...with an electric starter it's not that big of a deal getting the egg up and running in about 15 minutes or so. Now, in order to bake, one needs to put a ceramic heat shield in which creates a convection oven. With some finagling I got the egg stabilized at the proper temperature and cooked away. What came out, I have to say was pretty neat looking:

Biting into the bread, however, produced not only the trademark sweetness of Challah but also quite a bit of smoky flavor. The crust was incredible as well...however, the bread really was suited only for making into bread crumbs. What I realized was that with the lump charcoal...have to let it burn for a a while to make sure that there isn't any smoke from the initial startup of the charcoal. Oh well...live and learn...just wait 'till the pizza post...FAR better results :)

**************Smokay Bread Music****************

Band of Horses - Our Swords