Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pancetta-wrapped asparagus with sauce gribiche

Wrap asparagus in whatever you wish: bacon, prosciutto. Typically something pretty fatty. A vinaigrette or something with a good acid content does great with the fatty yet mildly bitter asparagus. Mario's recipe calls for a citrus juice/zest sauce which balances nicely. Sauce gribiche is one I picked up out of Bourdain's Les Halles book, and it's like an egg salad vinaigrette. It gives a nice unusual flavor that you wouldn't otherwise have thought to put together, and is very distinctive.

Small aspargus, cut fresh on the bottom like cigars

Pancetta (see substitutions above)

Wrap the pancetta around the asparagus, and leave the tips uncovered. Put them on a baking sheet in the fridge and let them set for about 20-30 minutes or so.

Suacue Gribiche

One hard boiled egg, chopped fine

4 midget sweet pickles or cornichons, depending on what you have

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Olive oil (AB recipe calls for peanut oil)

Salt, pepper to taste

Tbsp of dijon mustard

Lemon juice from 1 lemon

Add the ingredients sans oil to a small mixing bowl, and whisk together. Drizzle in olive oil just like you would a vinaigrette, but you can do more like a 2:1 ratio instead of the traditional 3:1.

Grill the asparagus, careful to not overbrown the meat. Drizzle with the sauce, and serve. Mario says to serve with sea salt for dipping. If you're going to do that, then lay off the salt in the gribiche.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grillin' cookbook

There's Boy Meets Grill, Boy Gets Grill, The BBQ Bible, Mastering the Grill. And then there's Italian Grill by Mario Batali. This book is awesome, and if you've ever seen his show, it's in a similar style. Ingredients are king while minimalist preparation is queen. Most of the stuff in here can be prepared quickly. There is no reference to ceramic cookers, and I think if he ever worked with one, the results would be pretty awesome.


Mortadella with robiola "burritos"
Pancetta-wrapped asparagus with Limoncello sauce
Bistecca fiorentina
HUGE section on seafood, including mussells and calamari.

I can't recommend it enough if you're serious about grilling and you have any interest in Mario's cooking style, which I really happen to like.

Tomatillo salmon

Light posting, as I've been discovering the wonders of ceramic grilling, and let me tell you it's been pretty awesome. It has furious power that must be tamed and reigned in to keep it from going out of control, and yet if you adjust properly, it holds slow and low like a champ. My problem is what do I call the thing? It's not really an egg, it's a grilldome, even though it does the same thing. The black bullet? The BBQ time machine? The eggdome?

I've got some pictures and when I can put them together I'll put them in. Here's what's come off of it so far:

Tomatillo salsa salmon fillets
2 salmon fillets seasoned with salt and pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded/cored, and minced
Put those ingredrients and 2 tbsp of butter in a foil pack and cook over high heat 10 min or so
When you take them off, squeeze a whole lime on the fish and finish with tomatillo salsa and cilantro garnish.

Tomatillo salsa
8-10 good sized tomatillos, husked and washed, 2 jalapeno peppers seeded/cored
Brushed with oil, blackened on the grill at high heat (450-500)
Throw them in the blender with 2 tsp of salt, couple of grinds of pepper, juice of 1 lime, a small wedge of shallot, and good portion of chopped cilantro (to taste).
Pulse low speed, but if you want it smoother then let it blend for a while.
I think there's a previous recipe on here for it, but you can check and see.

Serve that with herb salad, homemade balsamic vinaigrette, grilled bread, and the coldest beer you can find.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Semi-Korean short ribs, roasted Buffalo fish, summer salad, Burrata cheese and grilled bread

Really are the ones that you come up with on the fly, using the ingredients you have, and that you enjoy with friends. Don't get me wrong, a night out on the town is great, too, but when you by good fortune instead of preconceived notion come up with a good menu, it's something to celebrate.

I've been a little bit radio silent over the last couple of weeks. Let's just say that we're probably going to have to change the name of the blog nashvilleeats.blogspot.com instead of westnorthinstl.blogspot.com. I'll leave it at that. Also, I've been trying to cook almost every day on the egg to learn about it and how it handles temperature. As others on here can attest, it's relatively easy to get it hot, easy to keep it slow and low, but hard to get to both in the same time period. There will be many recipes to follow as the experimentation continues. I'm still trying to figure out ribs, having not quite gotten it right, yet.

In a spontaneous dinner with some good friends/neighbors we came up with this menu:

Korean-style whole short ribs

Miso paste marinated Buffalo fish fillet

Burrata cheese spread on charcoal-grilled Tuscan bread

Summer herb/tomato/cucumber salad with lemon-fennel vinaigrette

Peach cobbler ice cream

Korean-style whole short ribs

I wholly admit that I used the marinade recipe from Bobby Flay's Grill It! who was guest-hosted by Judianne Woo, a pastry chef in New York.

It's pretty easy, but here's the difference. I was at Whole Foods, and they didn't have the thin-sliced Korean style ribs, they just had the big ones. I decided what the hell, and tried it anyway. The recipe I used called for 5 lbs, and I think it would have worked fine for 6 whole short ribs. Brown sugar while you make the marinade, then soy sauce, garlic, onion, salt, pepper, whole pear, rice vinegar, and sesame oil round it out. Marinade overnight in a large gallon freezer bag in the fridge.

The hard part? What I've struggled most with is figuring out how long to cook ribs, and I have erred on overcooking because I hate having them undercooked. I set the dome up for indirect cooking by just placing heavy-duty foil over the main grate, then put the ribs on there. About 2-3 hours around 300 or so, and they were incredible.

Miso marinade Buffalo fish fillet

Have to admit, I've never had it before, and I wasn't really sure what it was. It's freshwater, caught recently and in a midwest farmer's Market (Soulard). Miso paste, fresh ground pepper, a freezer bag, and about 24 hours was all it took for prep. Dome to 400-450, and wrap the fish in foil. Poke holes at 15 minutes with a fork to let some steam out, and in about 25 minutes or so, you have some of the most buttery, creamy fish I've ever had. It's not a strong flavor, and it is bony, so watch out. Could conceivably do the butter/cilantro/salt/pepper treatment to it as well. It's fresh fish. Don't screw it up.

Grilled bread, burrata cheese

While I thought I had finally found buffalo mozzarella, I had not. However, it was better. Again, Whole Foods gets the credit for having it, but if you didn't know what it was or had not ever heard of it, it's stealthy. It like a combination of water packed mozzarella with a super creamy center. I thought if it were chilled enough that it could go on a salad, but really, it's too creamy for that. Think of it more as a spread for crostini with maybe anchovie, salt, and some olive oil. The bread, well, just find some good crusty Italian or French-style bread. The bigger and more dense, the better. Drizzle with good EVOO, sprinkle with sea or kosher salt, and I like to put some Herbes de Provence on there for good measure. Put on the grill at 400-500 and watch it carefully, because it will burn before you know it. Pull it off when it's got good grill marks and is golden brown, spread some of the burrata and maybe some veg from the summer salad, and you've really got a meal all by itself. Goes great with a Merlot, Cab, Cotes du Rhone, pick your favorite, just make it be RED.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I finally did it, the wait is over!

Well, after a long and drawn out saga, I finally have my ceramic cooker. I decided on a Grilldome XXT stainless. I was impressed with the response that I got from TK who runs the company when I asked him a few questions, and I liked the fact that I could them in red or black. Also, for me living westnorthinstl, the eggs were overpriced by 15-20%, and they wouldn't negotiate with me. Add a dash of Void warranty with shipped BGE, and voila, Grilldome.

So, what had happened was....

I ordered a red one, which was the last red one they were going to have for a couple of months. It was delivered and they DROPPED it and broke it. The following week, I got a shiny black one, and it's great!

First thing, cooked slow and low pork shoulder using the MCGDawg method with vinegar and drip pan. I was using WGC warrior blend, which is a little bit of a pain to light, but that's probably my inexperience more than anything. I woke up once with the baby and checked it out, noticing the temp had gone down to around 180-190, so I fiddled with it and got it back up. The next morning after 9 hours, it was at internal temperature of 200, so I took it off. I think it probably should have cooked slower, but it was still great. The next adventure: ribs, and these turned out even better. I didn't use wood chips or anything, just the flavor of the charcoal which is so different from gas (which has no real taste other than cooked meat) that I didn't notice that they weren't "smoked. The next day, tried some spatchcocked chicken, which I think I undercooked just a hair, but they were great, too.

For the last few days, I decided to build a table to Naked Whiz's specs, and I'm almost finished with it. I can tell you that it won't be completely out of red oak like his, but in retrospect, I probably should have used that as well as rented out or borrowed a mitre saw to make the cuts more precise. He does come clean about the way that he made his: it really doesn't work unless you have ultraprecise measurements, and even then, it's a struggle to make two identical boxes. It's almost done, but the cooker is on the table, and it's functional, ready to go!

So MCGD and JW, what's on the menu for the 4th?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

UGA VI: Damn Good Dawg

For JW and MCGDawg, and fellow Dawg fans out there, the Georgia G flags are at half-mast, as our beloved mascot, UGA V's Whatcha got Loran? (a.k.a. UGA VI) passed away last week. He was buried in Sanford Stadium on Monday with his predecessors. The winningest Dawg that we had, he was also the biggest one of the bunch. I read a column that Loran Smith had written over the weekend, where he describes his relationship with UGA VI, which bears his name growled in typical Munson fashion. I was really struck with the attachment he felt to UGA VI, and understood why that might have been the case. We're with ya, Loran.

I think for any Georgia grad that got into football during their time in Athens, the favorite Dawg is the one that was there during your college years, and for me that's definitely true. I got a little misty-eyed when I went to the first game that I didn't see UGA V, and they showed his highlight reel. My all-time favorite was the lunge at the receiver from Auburn. And then I saw this huge, feisty, crazy UGA and knew that we'd be in good hands.

Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, there will be an UGA VII, and he will be no less special than those that have come before him. It could be a great year, especially if we can keep the offensive linemen out of troulbe (WTF?)! I can't wait to see who's going to be announced as UGA VII, should be exciting!
Rest peacefully, UGA VI, DGD.