Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mario's Barbecued Skirt Steaks

Took an always fortuitous trip around the block to Mario & Sons on Saturday. Walked in, and decided to ask the junior counter guy what he recommended I BBQ that evening. I guess secretly I was hoping for Mario himself to take over. As if in a land where anything is possible, the butcher/legend leaped from the side-wings with an idea: "Skirt steak! I've been marinating skirt steaks for a day. Take them, they're perfect. For three people? Take all of it." And with that demonstration of care and salesmanship, I purchased 3 pounds of skirt steak.

As we completed our transaction, Mario was kind enough to tell me the recipe for his marinade, which consisted of a 24-hour long soak in:

Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar

I returned back home victorious.

We brought the grill up to 400, then dropped a couple wooden sticks that came with the charcoal in the mix to create a small fire. Then the skirt steaks were placed on direct heat for 2.5 minutes per side.

Now, to pause for a moment... my benchmark for good skirt steaks is a very little-known spot called Bar Des Pin in Montreal. BDP has been misconstrued as "Montreal's social underbelly", but Mikey and his pops have old-school access to the same meat distributor as Schwartz's, the oracle of smoked meat in Montreal. There was a flavor and texture there that I'd never tried before.

So back to Mario's skirt steaks- the result was something so far and beyond, I've had to break my normal pre-cooked to cooked photo order on this post. The most distinct taste that came of it though, was the vinegar, which perfectly complemented the smokey charred taste that the great BGE bestowed.

Something to investigate further...

Monday, February 20, 2012

'Beer Can' Chicken

This is my second go-round with beer can chicken.

I got the young chicken at Hong Kong Supermarket in New York's Chinatown, who in turn got it from Bo Bo Poultry Market on Grand Street in Brooklyn. They sell it whole at refrigerated temperatures, with feet, heads and organs.

The rub was a hodge-podge generally consisting of the following:

• 2 tablespoons non-iodized salt
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon onion powder
• 1 teaspoon ground thyme
• 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
• 1 teaspoon paprika
• 1 teaspoon black pepper

I've been following the rub credo: "Never measure, always air on the side of too much."
Make sure to rub it across all available surface area, as well as inside the actual chicken.

Next I poured beer inside my new Sittin' Chicken roasting stand, and added some of the rub and a few garlic cloves. The general idea here is to sit the chicken on the stand and let the moisture evaporate into the meat as it cooks.

I tucked the chicken's arms behind it's back, then put placed it on the egg at 350, until there was a nice crispness to the outside and the meat was cooked through.

It's hard to describe the difference in taste, but it's unlike any other chicken I've had.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Accidental 'Jerky'

This recipe has very little rhyme, but a lot of reason. The other night, after having been out for a WHILE, I came home, thawed a full pork loin, rubbed it with Green Pecan Seasoning, threw it on the Egg at 350, then promptly passed out.

The next morning I woke up, and remembered my silly decision. So I checked out what I expected to be a very charred piece of meat. Nope! I had smoked the pork loin to perfection for 13 hours. Calling this one a lucky mistake.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Mozzarella Potato Wedges

Ah potatoes. So historically significant, so boring. Decided to give the little bastards another chance, a rebirth of sorts on the Big Green Egg. Here's the tech:

• 6 Red Potatoes
• 7 TBS Olive oil
• 4 tsp Butter
• 3 Oz Mozzarella cheese (finely grated)
• Pinch of paprika
• Dash Kosher Salt
• Pinch Cracked pepper
• Pinch of ground white pepper (a habit I've picked up from the Frankies Cook Book, which you need to buy read cover-to-cover right now)

• Clean and cut potatoes into wedges. Add olive oil to a glass baking pan or pie pan. Coat one side of each wedge by setting it in the oil and then place them (coated side up) in the pan. Lightly salt, pepper, and sprinkle with paprika. Place the butter evenly dispersed on top of the wedges.

Do it:
• Cook at 325F for 20 minutes. Remove from the EGG and flip each wedge. Add equal amounts of the cheese on top of each wedge. Return to EGG. Cook for another 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browning.

DUUUDE, so good.

Note, those slippery guys will fall between the grill if you're not careful, and it's hard to get the cheese to stay at first when the surface is sloped. So next time, I'm going to dispense with the wedging and slice them chip-styles.

Welcome back potato.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Barbecued Eel

Here's a fun little tip for a Saturday afternoon. Head over to the Hong Kong Supermarket on Hester, and find the fish section. In a plastic bucket at the base of the counter lie a bunch of relatively sedentary eels. After Google searching 'fileting an eel' on your phone, you will draw the conclusion that the internet is a failure and you're completely unqualified for the process. So ask whether they can do it for you.

Now if, and only if, you have the help of a buddy who speaks Cantonese, you'll be able to get a semi-helpful response, which will be similar to the one I received, roughly translated to, "Make the white boy do it." After some back-and-forth they will agree to help if you tip the dude a dollar. Victory!

So, around the crabs, to the back area you go. The guy will put it in a bag, smash it against the cutting board, then cut the the thing open with scissors and filet the terrible beast, all the while yelling and making dramatic gestures. It was tense. Show-boating at it's best. Well worth the buck.

After all this, we took the eel back home, washed it over and over in a centuries-old process formally known as slime minimization. After making several attempts to skin it, we decided to give up, and cut it into 3-inch long pieces. Next up, we rubbed it with:

Garlic powder

Then we soaked it in a marinade for 1.5 hours:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/2 a bay leaf per piece eel

We brought the egg to low (about 180 degrees), threw in a couple cherry-flavored wood pieces that came with the charcoal, and cooked the eel pieces for 3 hours, brushing them with oil and turning every 30 minutes or so.

While painstaking and lengthy, the process resulted in a slightly charred snack that tasted somewhere between chicken and tilapia. Delightful.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Portobello Burgers

Every Sunday, I have my sister over for dinner. She's vegetarian, a confusing but unchallengeable decision she's made. The Big Green Egg is a non-exclusionary device. So I dug up this recipe from Bill and Brenda Miller on the Big Green Egg Forum. The result was a lighter replacement to the traditional burger, that made me question my life-long alliance with meat altogether.

• 1 Portobello mushroom cap per person
• ¼ Cup Olive Oil
• 2 Tbsp Red wine vinegar or Balsamic vinegar
• Other seasonings as you prefer
• 1 slice Swiss cheese per burger

Mushroom Preparation:
• Remove any stem remnants.
• Peel the thin layer off the top of the cap by grasping at the edge and lifting and pulling up toward the center of the cap. This will leave the cap top a solid color.
• Combine the olive oil, vinegar, and other seasonings if you desire.
Marinate the caps for 20-30 mins.

Now to the egg:
• Light the Egg and bring to 250° and add any aromatic wood chips.
• Place the Portobellos, cap side down, on the Egg grid, close the top and grill for 10 mins.
• Turn and grill for another 10 mins.
• Turn again and place a slice of Swiss cheese on each cap, close the lid and allow 2-3 mins for the cheese to melt.
• Serve on a bun or roll of your choice
• Add toppings- in this case I through on swiss cheese slices, lettuce, heirloom tomatoes and raw onions.

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

I've been experimenting with different Brussel Sprouts options for a while. One of my favorites is shredding then sauteeing. So I was excited to put the Big Green Egg to work to see what it would produce. I found this recipe by Casey Lorenger on the Egghead Forum. The result was a smokee flavor that blew oven brussel sprouts out of the water.

• Bring the Big Green Egg to between 400 and 450 degrees using the direct cooking method.

• Wash and clean one pound of Brussel Sprouts. Cut off the stub at the end of each sprout.

• Mince garlic cloves.

• Make a boat with the sheet of aluminum foil and drop butter onto the foil.

• Add the minced garlic and sprouts and season with salt and pepper.

• Cook for about seven minutes and carefully turn over and cook for seven minutes more.

Hoisin-Glazed Baby Back Ribs

This recipe is from Weber's Art of the Grill. I picked up two racks of Ribs from Mario & Sons Meat Market in my neighborhood. Mario is an old-school Italian dude who knows so much more about meat than you do, you kind of just have to take his lead.

I served these to 8 people, and the results were out of this world. No one talked to each other for a good 15 minutes.

Glaze Ingredients:
• 1 cup hoisin sauce
• 1/4 cup honey
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 2 TBS grated fresh ginger
• 1 TBS minced garlic
• 1 TBS sesame oil
• 2 tsp curry powder
• 4-6Lbs pork baby back ribs
• Kosher salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 1 TBS sesame seeds

To make the glaze:
• In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the hoisin sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, and curry powder.
• Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to blend the flavors.
• Remove from the heat.

Now to the ribs:
• Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper.
• Grill over Indirect Medium heat, turning once halfway through grilling time.
• When the ribs have cooked for 1 hour, start basting them every 15 minutes or so with the hoisin glaze until the meat is very tender and has shrunk from the ends of the bones, 15 to 30 minutes more.
• A few minutes before the ribs are finished, sprinkle them with the sesame seeds.
• Remove the ribs from the grill and cut between the bones. Serve warm.

Big Green Egg Pick-up & Set-up

This is a blog about things that I make on the Big Green Egg BBQ. I picked my large BGE up at Alm Plumbing & Heating Co. on 18th Avenue in Brooklyn. The thing is ridiculously heavy, so I enlisted a buddy to help with the relocation.

Putting it together was another matter. For this, I called up a friend who knows how to assemble camera gear, figuring there might be an overlap in skill sets. 6 beers, 2 arguments and 2 hours later it was all set to go on my patio.

My building isn't so into charcoal bbqs on the patio. However, I'm banking on the foreign shape of the egg causing more confusion than concern.