Monday was a balmy 60 something degrees. I spent the entire afternoon outside, going for a run and then walking another hour and a half. Knowing what was coming later in the week, I wasn’t going to waste the sunshine and warm air. As I was walking, I was getting really hungry. I couldn’t get the thought of a juicy burger with melting cheese oozing from between the layers of a potato bun. Later when I stopped at the store to get what I needed, I did a quick search of the gourmet cheeses. I rarely go for the mundane American or plain old cheddar. I found a morel mushroom and leek jack cheese. Oh yeah! There is a small shop ( The Savory Gourmet )that sells cheeses and other snacky kind of foods in Lititz, PA that used to have a mushroom cheese (first introduced to us at Waltz Vineyards-excellent wines. My favorite is their Fusion). Eating that cheese was like eating a choice cut of beef. Awesome with red wine. This cheese that I found in the grocery store was pretty close.
When I got home, I mixed into 1 and a half pounds of chuck (gotta have chuck, 80/20-need that fat to keep the flavor and juices and keep the burgers from drying out) powdered garlic, minced onion, a splash or two of Worcestershire sauce and a big splash of red wine vinegar or red wine. I formed 5 relatively equal patties, giving them a little indention in the center (see Simple Backyard Burgers for more on burgers). The patties went on the grill with a hot fire, coals evenly spread out. I had very few flare-ups. Not sure why, but that is a good thing. Near the end of cooking time, I moved the burgers to the sides, no longer over the coals. Slices of cheese were added, the lid went on for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and voila! Juicy, cheesey heaven on a bun! The burgers were perfect-just a bit of pink in the middle and the mushroom and leek cheese was an excellent complement to the touch of Worcestershire and red wine vinegar.
Sorry I don’t have pictures-just didn’t get them this time around.
Until next time, Grill Baby, Grill!
Last year (almost a year to the day I find), I posted Smokin’ Chick’s Beef Brisket. I smoked another one recently-my husband says it was the best brisket he’s ever had! He said the same thing last time. I guess I’m 2 for 2 on brisket.
Some people are intimidated by a brisket or any cut of beef that is known to be tough. Low and slow with plenty of moisture is the way to cook those cuts. My brisket was 8.33 pounds. It was smoked on the grill just under 3 1/2 hours, then in the crock pot on low for another 8 or 9 hours. It pulled apart quite easily and was very moist. The rub gave it a nice coating and flavor that required no sauce (but I use sauce anyway). If you don’t want it pulled, make sure you slice the meat against the grain and not with it.
For the rub you will need: allspice, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard and ground ginger. Place the brisket over 2 sheets of plastic wrap, layered over each other at right angles. I just sprinkled the spices over both sides of the brisket liberally and rubbed them in. Wrap the brisket tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Pull the meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grill time, to relax the muscle fibers. Prepare the coals and soak the wood you will be using for the smoke. I used apple wood chips (I purchase the wood chips from Lowe’s if I don’t have any oak or cherry wood chunks from the trees on our property).
When the coals are hot, sear each side of the brisket 3-4 minutes to seal in the brisket’s natural moisture. Opposite the coals, on the coal grate, place a foil pan filled with a liquid. For this brisket, I used cranberry juice. Once it is seared, move the brisket to the opposite side, fat side up, add more coals to the main pile and close the lid.
The temperature peaked at 325 degrees F. I had all vents on the lid and the kettle wide open. If the temperature gets above 325, adjust the vents to regulate the temperature. The more open the vents, the more oxygen and air flow gets to the coals. Closing the vents a bit will decrease the oxygen and air flow, thus decreasing the temperature. Once the temperature dropped below 250, I took the brisket off and wrapped it in foil to further cook and then cool.
I was saving the brisket for a later time, so it went in the freezer for a couple of days. I took it out the day before I was putting it in the crock pot to thaw in the refrigerator. For the crock pot, I kept the brisket in the foil, opening it, but forming a bowl from the foil. I poured enough water around the bowl to provide enough moisture for a lengthy time in the crock pot, but not so much it would get into the foil bowl. I did not want to take my brisket for a swim! The brisket slow cooked between 8 and 9 hours.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
I enjoy coming up with new rubs, marinades and sauces for pork. Pork is one of those meats that just about anything goes. The tenderloin is my favorite cut of pork. I buy the 10-15 pounders when they are on sale and cut them up when I get home. I leave bigger sections, such as the 2.5 pounds used in this recipe, and pork chops any thickness I want. The sections are then put in freezer bags and frozen until I’m ready to grill!
What you need: 2.5 pound boneless pork tenderloin, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels.
For the rub:
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sprinkle all liberally (except maybe garlic-you might want to do that lightly) over all of tenderloin. Rub in, cover the tenderloin and refrigerate for at least an hour, removing about half an hour before grilling.
Prepare a fire for indirect cooking. Spread coals when most are ashen and temperature is high heat.
Sear all sides of tenderloin, about 5 minutes each side.
Remember to NOT use a fork to turn the meat. No piercing! Watch and put out flare-ups when searing the fatty side. Move to the side of the grill opposite the fire, fatty side up and add more charcoal, about 5 briquettes.
For pork, I sometimes insert a thermometer to make sure it is done. Internal “doneness” temperature for pork is 150-165 degrees F. Brush some of the glaze on the top of the tenderloin and put the lid on the grill. If you can maintain a cooking temperature around 300 degrees, a 2.5 pound tenderloin should be done after 2 hours. Mine wasn’t, so I brushed more glaze on it, wrapped it in foil and finished it in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes.
I served the pork with a caprese salad. This link takes you to a recipe. The only difference in how I serve it and this recipe is that I dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
Sometimes, when I have no ideas for dinner, I will go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and wander around looking for inspiration. Mango Chicken Salsa is one of those inspired dinners. I used a pre-made mango marinade that is pretty good. Good enough that I marinated some pork chops in it last night. The Mango Salsa below is similar but slightly different from the Mango Salsa recipe found in Shrimp Soft Tacos with Mango Salsa.
As you see in the picture above right, the salsa ingredients are very few. What is there makes a large batch, but there are plenty of ways to use what is leftover. I sautéed some of it and broke a couple of eggs into the skillet and had an omelet.
I had about 3 pounds of chicken breast (any chicken parts will be fine, you will just need to adjust the time on the grill). Put the chicken into a resealable plastic bag and add about half (8 ounces) of the marinade. Seal, shake and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Take it out when you start-up your grill to relax before putting on the heat. Grill over a hot fire (see Method Cooking for charcoal temps), at least 5 minutes each side. Since the marinade is sweet, it will carmelize as it grills. If it starts to smell charred, however, you’ve had it over the coals too long.
For the Mango Salsa: 4 medium sweet peppers, 1 red, 1 green, 1 yellow, 1 orange, all diced; 1 large mango, diced; 1/2 red onion, diced; 1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed; the juice of 2 limes. In a large bowl, put diced peppers, mango and onion. Add the garlic and mix thoroughly. Juice the limes directly over the salsa and mix again. My bowl has a lid, so I also gave it a few really good shakes. If you prepare the salsa the morning before serving or even the day before, the peppers, onion and mango will soften up a bit and the flavors will meld a bit more than if you wait to prepare just before serving with the chicken. I love super fresh, so I made the salsa while the chicken was marinating.
Fried or grilled potatoes and steamed broccoli and/or carrots will round out this meal. Sometime soon I need to post my method for potatoes on the grill. I just looked through my blog and see that I have yet to do that!
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
It happened later than I would have liked, but weather and time always play a factor when grilling with charcoal or wood. It’s harder to maintain the heat when it’s cold! And the first grilling of 2013 took place Easter weekend, so it was a while ago.
Today’s post is not a recipe. Rather, it is a testimony. I am not overly fond of sausage. However, since the day looked good for grilling and I didn’t want burgers, I chose some yummy looking sausages at the butcher counter. There were fresh made brats and chicken sausages to choose from. I chose chicken with feta and spinach and chicken with feta and sundried tomatoes. Oh my gosh, they were so good! Nothing beats fresh.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
PS: This greeted me when I opened up the grill:
I don’t even remember what it was that I cooked on the grill! So, don’t forget to clean up your grill! Happy Grilling, now that the season is finally here!!
Grilled chicken is great on a salad. Grilled chicken is great period. I believe it is the best way to cook chicken. As long as it is done correctly, you end up with moist, flavorful and tender chicken that lends itself well to just about anything you want to put it in or eat it with. Although I put this chicken recipe on a salad, it will be just as good with rice or on a sandwich with a honey mustard mayo.
I had mixed greens with iceberg lettuce for the salad. I don’t normally buy iceberg lettuce since it has very little nutritional value. Generally, it is the dark, leafy greens (including spinach) that I eat. There is a bigger nutritional bang in the darker greens.
As far as making up the salad, I always have a variety of options. No one in our household like the same things on his or her salad, so a salad bar is set up and each can pick whatever to put on their own salad. Tomatoes, nuts or sunflower seeds, Craisins, different cheeses (I like feta and goat cheese) are some of the items on our salad bar. I grilled up this chicken when tomatoes were ripening, so we had homegrown tomatoes. The yellow grape tomatoes went very well with the raspberry balsamic chicken. Fresh raspberries would be a nice salad addition as well. Honey mustard, raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic vinaigrette dressings are excellent choices to finish off the salad.
The chicken will marinate for a few hours or overnight to fully absorb the flavors. I had a 2 pound chicken breast that I left whole. For the marinade you will need: 1/2 cup of oil, 1/4 white (or dark) balsamic raspberry vinegar (or you can make your own. 1 pint raspberries will yield about 1/2 cup of juice. To juice the berries, press through a sieve and discard the pulp and seeds. Add the juice to 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. If that is not a strong enough berry flavor for you, add more juice. This uses fresh berries, so I recommend making this right before you are going to use it), 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed. Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor to emulsify. Emulsification blends the oil with the other ingredients in order to keep the oil from separating. This is definitely a time when you want the oil and vinegar to stay blended. You will know the ingredients are emulsified when the mixture is thick and you can no longer see the individual ingredients. In a plastic bag, add the marinade to the chicken and seal. Store in the refrigerator at least a couple of hours before grilling.
To grill, prepare a fire for indirect grilling. While the coals heat up, take the chicken out of the fridge to warm-up in anticipation of the hot fire. I’ve mentioned this before, but it doesn’t hurt saying again-the meat is just like us when it gets cold. It tenses up and needs to relax prior to being placed over direct hot heat. When the coals are ready, place the chicken directly over the coals, searing each side for about 3 minutes. Move the chicken to the opposite side and place the lid on the grill. In about 20 minutes, the chicken will be ready.
In these photos, you can see how moist the chicken remained. No dry, rubber chicken here!
I chose a honey Dijon mustard dressing to top my salad. It was very good!
Enjoy your grilled chicken! Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
Success!! If you saw my previous post titled Watch this Space, then you know I was planning to put our Thanksgiving turkey breast on the grill. I was not just successful, I was very successful. Best smoked turkey I have ever eaten!
I started this the night before, putting a 4.85 pound whole turkey breast in a brine. A whole turkey breast is the bird without the legs, wings and thighs attached. It still has a cavity. Basically, a headless, legless, wingless bird. It can be bought frozen or fresh, with or without giblets, neck, heart and liver. I bought a fresh breast and purchased a couple of legs and livers, giblets and a heart for my stuffing (stuffing is what I eat, not filling or dressing). For the brine recipe, see Beer Can Turkey. I added ice to the brine after it had cooled slightly to bring the temp down quicker. By the time I had gotten to the brine, I had already baked three pies, had the stuffing ready to go and made cranberry sauce. I wasn’t in the mood to wait for the brine to cool so I could add the turkey. I don’t know why I didn’t add ice before. More water is added later anyway.
I cleaned out the grill the night before Thanksgiving (almost sounds like a Clement C. Moore poem). Maximum airflow is a must. I dumped a huge pile of coals on one side of the grill with a smaller pile next to it. I also had a small stash of oak pieces available. I did not have the wood soaking in water. I just threw those right on the coals at the beginning and as needed later on in the cooking process. When all of the coals in the big pile were nearly gray, I moved the smaller pile over to get those going. Then I moved those on top of the big pile right before I put the turkey on. I had plenty of heat for most of the cooking time doing this.
As you see in the lower left hand corner of the second picture, there is a foil pan. I filled this with orange juice and water for my steaming liquid. It caught the drippings from the turkey as well as the juices from the citrus fruits I added to the cavity of the turkey. I stuffed the cavity with a quartered lemon, lime, half a small orange, 3 medium garlic cloves, smashed and a one inch piece of ginger, quartered.
Once everything was ready, the foil pan was filled, the rack placed on the grill and the turkey breast placed on the rack with one of the legs to support it (a turkey torso will not stay upright on its own. It needs support-the leg worked well). Then the lemons, etc. were stuffed in through the neck and a probe thermometer was inserted through the lower part of one side of the breast (if you do this, make sure it is not touching a bone and the end is still in the meat). I added a couple of pieces of wood and closed the lid.
Target temperature for poultry is a minimum of 165 degrees F. 170 is a better temp to shoot for. It took about 3 hours and 40 minutes to achieve 168 degrees F on Thanksgiving Day where I am. Outside temperature was in the upper 40’s to the low 50’s the entire time I was smoking the turkey. It may have gone quicker with higher outdoor temps. I added more wood twice and 8 briquets once. The first time I added wood and briquets, I also covered the breast with heavy-duty foil to prevent further browning. See below to understand what I mean. If you have never had or seen smoked poultry, you might be surprised at the appearance. But don’t be put off, wait until you see how it looks underneath!
Let the turkey rest 15-20 minutes before carving. Resting allows the juices to be reabsorbed back into the bird. Carving too soon results in crumbly, mushy slices.
The only thing I will do differently next time: I will take the legs off much sooner. The smaller one was quite crispy! The turkey breast was perfection! Excellent smoked flavor, very juicy. Definitely will do this again. It helped make my Thanksgiving Dinner plate look like a work of art!
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!