Monday, October 3, 2011

Grilled Peaches

This was a late summer food idea, that I am just now posting.... better late than never!

So peaches are some of the best things about summer and come late july/august they are perfect and are great for a variety of applications, like being grilled!

Start and firing up the grill, for convenience I used the gas grill but the good ol weber would be the preferred choice.  Take a cast iron skillet and combine:

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

once the butter is melted,whisk to combine. Take the peaches and slice in half, removing the pits of course.  Take the peaches and place the cut side down in the skillet.  Cook in the butter mixture for 5-8 minutes and then move from the skillet to the grates to get a char.  Move, quickly as the peaches will cook quickly.  Once they are nicely charred and the sugars caramelize, remove from grill and ponder applications.  My choice was vanilla ice cream, using the leftover butter/sugar mixture to drizzle.

Brisket Tacos

So leftover brisket..... many options here's one of my favorites, brisket tacos.

This was more or less of an ad-libbed recipes but turned out really well!

2 cups of cheddar cheese
2 pounds of leftover smoked brisket
2 Anaheim peppers
1 red onion
1 lime

Take the Anaheim peppers and put in the oven on broil.  Once the skin starts to char, turn until the entire pepper is cooked.  Then take the peppers and put them in a brown paper bag and tightly close for 15 minutes.  This will steam the peppers making them tender without overcooking them. While they are steaming, cook the onion a skillet until tender. Once the peppers are tender, peel the outside skin off and slice.  Add sliced pepper to the skillet with onion and remove from heat.  Meanwhile take tortillas and cover with cheddar cheese and put in the broil setting of the oven.  Once the cheese is melted add in briseket, peppers, and sliced cilantro.  Once the tacos are assembled, squeeze with a lime and serve with a corona.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Smoked Brisket: Revisited

So its been a while since my last post, and even longer since my last brisket post! So my BBQ team, Red Ryder BBQ, is entered into an upcoming KCBS BBQ competition this September and that means I need to practice! So I decided to revamp my brisket recipe and methodology and go with a more Central Texas style brisket which focuses on the simplicity of salt and pepper to season.  But with this brisket, I would like to add a little bit of a spice note so to do that we will impart some science! The science of brining, but I don't want corned beef so I will use dry-brining.  For this I rubbed the brisket with a very low salt rub consisting of paprika, chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, and garlic powder.  I don't know exact measurements because I kinda threw it together.  So I let that sit on the brisket over night and mingle together in the fridge. 

Alarm goes off at 4am, time to BBQ! Take the brisket out and let it start to get to room temperature and go outside to get the fire started.  Now in comes the science.  First I put on a layer of salt, kosher please. Now this will use osmosis to pull that layer of spice into the meat.  On top of the salt put on some lemon pepper and coarse pepper.  Now check on the fire.  We are shooting for 225 to cook it low and slow.  I have bounced around with a bunch of different woods, and the wood of choice for today's is hickory.  For brisket I also like pecan and oak, avoid using sweeter woods like apple and cherry and save those for the swine.

So the meat has been thoroughly rubbed, the smoker is chugging away, its time to pop the thermo probe in and throw it on the smoker!  The brisket was on at 5am (getting faster and faster at prep) and now nothing to do but monitor it and sit around, because isn't that what BBQing is all about anyway?

Side note, we got a new toy that is awesome! It is the iQue110, and is a pit controller (the smoker type not the arm type) In essence what it is is a thermostat that is connected to a probe thermometer.  You set your desired temperature, 225 for the brisket.  And it monitors the temp.  If the temp falls below 225, a fan kicks on and blows air on the fire to increase the temperature.  Once it recovers to 225 it turns off.  It works like a champ and would recommended it to any other smoker.

Back to the meat. Check it! hows it doing? is it happy? good....

So once it reaches anywhere from 140-170 it has reached the "plateu" where the fat inside the meat begins to melt and cool the meat.  Just have patience, your brisket will eventually get out of this stage and get to the desired doneness. This brisket didn't reach the plateu until 170.  So when it gets to about 185,190 it is time to start checking for the "butter" stage, which is when you poke the probe in the meat and it goes in like butter with no resistence.  Regardless of temperature.  I put the probe thermo in there to get an idea of when to start probing.....

So eventually, 14 hours later, the brisket decided to be done.  So pulled the brisket off, rested it in a cooler wrapped in foil and beach towels. Once it was fully rested, it was pulled out and sliced.  Serve simply, with just meat.  No bread or sauce needed.

Enjoy! now what to do with those leftovers........

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pico De Gallo

I've got a simple entry today, simple but delicious.  The Mexican condiment known as Pico De Gallo.  A few fresh ingredients is all you'll need.  The possibilities for Pico are endless, for this particular application, I made them for burritos and the extra for chips..... But there are plenty more options for which to use Pico.  To make it we need:

2 Large Tomatoes
1/2 Red Onion
1 Jalapeno (you can either use the seeds or not depending on how spicy you want it)
4 Cloves of Garlic
1 Large Lime
1 Cup of Cilantro (more if you really like cilantro, like I do)

Start with the tomatoes.  First quarter them then run your knife along the the inside so you cut out all the guts and seeds.  So you should just have the skins left.  Once you have done this to all the tomatoes, dice them and throw into a large non-reactive bowl. 

Next dice the onion, jalapeno, and garlic.  Again with the jalapeno, all the heat is in the seeds, so you can make the Pico De Gallo as spicy as you want with how much of the seeds go in.  Next add in the juice of 1 lime. A tip is to pop the lime in the microwave for about 5 seconds, it will yield more juice that way.  Then finely chop up the cilantro, throw it in the bowl and toss all the ingredients until well combined. Simple!

Again possibilities are endless, tacos, burritos, nachos, or just with tortilla chips and a corona. It is an extremely versatile condiment that tastes great and is extremely easy to make.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Smoked spare ribs

I just recently returned from a trip to memphis.  While there, i certainly ate my fill of bbq, B.B's, Rendezvous, Germantown Commissary, interstate, and central bbq (the best!!) just to name a few.  So with the taste of Memphis ribs still fresh in my mind, I wanted to make my own version to see how they compared.  Here's how they turned out:

First I started out with a simple sweet brine of:
1 gallon water
1 cup salt (pickling)
1 cup sugar

I brined three slabs of spare ribs for about 1 to 1 and a half hours.  Since ribs have much more surface area compared to other meats, shouler, turkey, etc, they do not need to brine as long.  So about 1 to 2 hours should be enough.  After brining, I put on my usual texas rub, same as in the shoulder and brisket.

Then put them onto a 230 degree smoker.  I usually use apple wood for ribs, but I was already smoking a brisket and use oak for that so this time the ribs were oak smoked, but given the choice I would prefer apple.  The ribs take about 5 hours depending on the rib.  The key thing is to look at the bones.  When the meat begins to pull away from the bone then they are done.  It isn't as exact as with brisket or shoulder that should be cooked to 195, it more touchy feely.

After the ribs are cooked to tenderness, you can either serve them as is, apply a dry rub on them (memphis style) or my personal favorite, glaze them with a sauce to caramelize the outsides.  This time I opted for the dry rub, since coming back from memphis I wanted to get the whole experience of dry ribs (referring, of course, to the seasoning not the juicy delicious insides of the ribs themselves) So I just added the same texas rub to the cooked ribs and served.  Simple.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mozarella Sticks

While browsing on FoodGawker, I happened to stumble upon this little gem of a recipe, and added it to my bookmark folder entitled "Food!" (I have built up quite a respectable collection by the way) Well today is the day I actually tried the Mozzarella sticks, and they turned out wonderfully; here's what you'll need:

  • 12 Sticks of String Cheese
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1 1/2 Cups of Panko style bread crumbs
  • 4 Teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 4 Eggs (beaten)

First get three bowls and set yourself up an assembly line of sorts.  In the first bowl, we'll need flour, in the next, the eggs, and the last bowl the bread crumbs with Italian seasoning mixed in.  First dip the string cheese into the flour until coated, be sure to dust off any excess.  Next, dip into the egg and then into the bread crumbs.  To get extra crispy mozzarella sticks, dip back into the egg, then back into the bread crumbs.  Set aside on a dish.  The original recipe then says to place the breaded cheese sticks in the freezer for at least 2 hours.  Unfortunately I too after I had assembled all of them and didn't want to wait 2 hours for mozzarella sticks.  Sooo if you are patient chill them but if not do what I did and heat up some oil (peanut or vegetable) to about 350 and put in your mozzarella sticks.  Be sure to only place 2 at a time so the oil temperature won't drop too much.  Once golden brown take them out and give the oil time to bounce back before putting in more mozzarella sticks.  Serve with marinara sauce and enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Homemade Spaghetti with a lemon mascarpone sauce

I have never tried or even thought about attempting to make my own pasta until I stumbled upon this recipe.  I never knew the benefits of homemade pasta and why one would go through the time and effort when there is a plethora or varieties at your local super market.  Alas, I wanted to find out, so I found a recipe and watched lots of youtube videos to reassure myself in the steps.  So first things first is the ingredients list, this is the best part:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
On a very clean surface, pour out the flour and create a well, like you do with mashed potatoes.  Crack the eggs into the well of the flour. 

Add the salt and begin to incorporate the ingredients, being sure not to let the eggs escape.  This is the hard part, you need to knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball.  If doing it by hand, like me, it will take around 15 to 20 minutes.  If, however, you have a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, then it will only take about 5 minutes.  I am back at school and am very dearly missing my stand mixer so I have to do it the old fashioned way.  You may add drops of water along the way to help the dough come together.  Just don't add more than 1/3 of a cup.  Once the dough is smooth, cut into 4 sections and loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 1-3 hours.

sous chef!

Once the dough has rested you need to roll it out.  If you are lucky, you have a pasta machine like this, then you can roll pasta dough out no problem.  Just follow your machines instructions in getting the desired thickness of the dough.  If you don't have a pasta machine, like me, then grab your rolling pin and do it the old fashioned way. 

Liberally cover your cleaned surface with flour and begin rolling out the dough.  Be sure to rotate the dough to ensure an evenly rolled out dough.  You are looking for an overall thickness of about 1/8".  After all four sections are rolled out, then you can begin slicing into strips.  For this, roll your dough into a roll and begin slicing to your desired width.  For spaghetti you want to get it pretty thin.

Once all your dough has been sliced, place it on a cookie sheet lined with a towel and let sit to dry.  Or if you have a fancy pasta drying rack, use that.  While the pasta is drying, you can begin  on the lemon mascarpone sauce.  In a medium saucepan, not over heat, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup of lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup of mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
Stir all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.  Once the pasta is dried, throw it into a pot of boiling water that has been liberally seasoned with salt.  Boil until al dente, about 3 minutes.  Drain the pasta and add into the saucepan of mascarpone sauce over medium low heat.  Together with the pasta and sauce, we will add:

  • 5 cups of wash and dried spinach
  • 1/2 cup of toasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 cup of pasta water

Once the pasta and sauce are combined, add in the spinach, hazelnuts, and water.  Cook until the spinach is wilted.  Serve with fresh bread or rolls and enjoy.