Gringo Huevos

Huevos Rancheros is one of my favorite meals – a big plate of eggs and tortillas simmered in salsa and smothered in cheese. This is my lame, bachelor-for-the-weekend version that I make when my dear wife is out of town.

Heat a glug or so of oil in a fry pan. Add a couple of handfuls of stale tortilla chips (or leftover nachos from the night before). When the chips start to sizzle, douse with salsa. Make 2 or 3 shallow wells in salsa with back of large spoon. Drop an egg into each well. Cover with shredded cheese and put a lid on the pan.

The eggs are done when the whites are set and the yolks are still runny – about 5 minutes. Load onto a plate and top with a couple of globs of sour cream and plenty of hot sauce.  Yummmm, man food!

Barbecue Beef

We got some great looking rump roasts with our last order of beef. I wanted to do a saucy falling-apart dish like my Italian Beef, but  with more of a smoky, barbecue base. So I decided to smoke the roasts first before braising them.

Barbecue Beef
2 boneless rump roasts (3-4 pounds each)
2-3 tablespoons barbecue rub (I used Dizzy Pig’s Cowlick)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I used John Henry’s Honey Barbecue)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed

Dust the roasts heavily with the rub. Use your hands to work it into all the sides.

Set your grill up for an indirect cook for at least 4 hours at low (250°F) heat with a drip pan under the meat.  I set the Big Green Egg up with an inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat, a trivet on the plate setter, and the roasts in a v-rack roasting pan on top of that. Pour the beer into the roaster pan.

Add some wood chunks for smoke (I used pecan) and smoke the roasts for about 3 hours, or until they reach 160°F internal temperature.

Remove the roasts to a large dutch oven. Deglaze the roaster with a little water to loosen up all the brown bits. Pour the pan sauce over the meat. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, barbecue sauce, and enough water to come half way up the roasts.

Put the lid on the dutch oven and move to the grill. Cook for an hour at 250°F. Remove the lid and flip the meat over in the dutch oven. Cook for another hour with the dutch oven lid off.

After an hour, check the roasts for doneness. They should be 200+°F internal and have started to fall apart. Remove the dutch oven from the grill. Cut or pull the meat apart into serving sizes. Serve as a main dish, or atop a crusty french roll as a sandwich. Top with additional barbecue sauce if desired.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
Very tender and a great, rich, smoky taste. Could use a more vinegary sauce. The meat stayed very moist, but I’d like to try it with a chuck roast that has more internal fat and will fall apart more.

Brined Pork Chops

Yet another excellent recipe I adapted from Adam Perry Lang’s  BBQ 25: The World’s Most Flavorful Recipes-Now Made Fool-Proof. I cut these 1-inch thick chops from the rib end of a whole pork loin. Brining the chops adds a ton of flavor and keeps them very juicy.

The Brine
6 pork chops
Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cilantro
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
3 cloves garlic
3 green onions, chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil

Put the garlic, salt, and onions in a food processor and pulse until the garlic and onions are minced. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chops, and give them a whirl until everything is well-combined.

Put the chops in a zip-top bag and cover with the marinade.  Toss to coat. Squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it, and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.

The Baste
Combine in a foil pan or heatproof pan and warm on the side of the grill:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
5 crushed garlic cloves
4 tablespoons finely chopped savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano and/or sage

The Cook
Set up your grill for a direct cook over medium (350°F) heat.

Remove the chops from the brine and put them on the grill. Grill the chops 5 minutes on one side. Then flip, baste, and grill another 5 minutes on the second side. Flip again, baste, and grill for 5 more minutes. Flip one last time, baste, and grill another 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the pork hits 140°F.

Remove the chops from the grill. Baste one last time, and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★★
Wow! These chops were incredibly moist and tender with very rich layers of flavor. The original brine recipe called for fresh coriander, which we were out of, so I substituted dried cilantro – not the same thing. I’d use fresh next time as well as maybe a little diced jalepeño.

Hemingway Daiquiri

Don’t let the pink color fool you – this ain’t no sissy umbrella drink – just booze and juice the way Papa liked it.

2 1/2 jiggers white rum
Juice of two limes
Juice of 1/2 ruby grapefruit
Splash of Maraschino liqueur or Maraschino cherry juice
Superfine sugar

Combine everything but the sugar in cocktail shaker. Fill 1/3 full of ice. Shake for 15 – 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with superfine sugar. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge if you must.

A couple of these and you’ll be all set to go chasing bulls, marlins, or German u-boats.

BBQ 25 Steaks

Adam Perry Lang is a classically-trained chef-turned barbecue pit master. He’s got 2 books out now – BBQ 25: The World’s Most Flavorful Recipes-Now Made Fool-Proof, and his first book, Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste, and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking.

While Serious is a considerable tome, BBQ 25 is described as a “BBQ survival guide”. It’s the top 25 barbecue (and by barbecue, Lang means grilling and well as smoking) recipes laid out in a slick, simple, visual manner. All of the recipes involve layering flavors – brines, marinades, mops, bastes, and sauces all come into play. There’s a lot of butter and oil involved too, but it’s mostly as a vehicle for moving the flavors around and getting them to work together.

Since I just happened to have a couple of nice t-bones waiting to hit the grill, I decided to start with the first recipe in the book for marbled steaks under an inch thick.

Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 teaspoons chile powder
2 tablespoons grated or finely chopped sweet white onion
2 tablespoons grated or finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup cold water
1 bunch fresh thyme

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a zip-top bag. Mix to combine. Add the steaks and turn to cover. Seal and stash in the fridge for at least 3 hours, but overnight is best.

Baste
Combine in a foil pan or heatproof pan and warm on the side of the grill:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
5 crushed garlic cloves
4 tablespoons finely chopped savory herbs such as rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano and/or sage

The Cook
Set your grill up for a direct cook over high (600°F+) heat. While the grill is heating up, remove the steaks from the marinade. “Glisten (Lang’s term)” them with oil and just a little kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper.

Put the steaks on for 90 seconds of undisturbed searing. Flip them, brush the top with the herb baste,  and let them go another 90 seconds. Flip them again, baste, and start checking for doneness.  I was looking for a nice medium-rare – 130°F with a hint of red and the center. It took one last flip and another 30 seconds a side to get there.

Put the steaks on a warm plate, baste them one last time, cover them gently with another plate, and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

The t-bones ended up being totally luscious – rich and tender and wonderfully seasoned. I don’t usually use the word “floral” in connection with meat in a good way, but you could really taste/smell the herbs as a nice top note that complimented the meat. Lang recommends rubbing a little beef base into the steaks right before putting them on the grill, which I didn’t do.  But would definitely use it or a little Worcestershire next time to “ground” the steaks a little more.  Otherwise – this one one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

Superior Planked Salmon

Bayfield, Wisconsin is one of our favorite places to vacation. When we are there we often take the ferry over for a day trip to Madeline Island.  We love to kayak the lagoon at Big Bay Town Park, tour the island for a bit, and then hang out at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe.

So I was very excited to learn about Superior Planks on Madeline. The grilling planks come from trees that are sustainably-harvested, hauled out by draft horses, run by hand through their bio-diesel saw-mill, and shipped in 100% bio-degradable packaging. These guys are so green they make Kermit jealous.

I ordered up a 3-pack of their maple planks to give them a try. First up – wild Alaskan salmon!

I soaked the plank in water for 2 hours, then set the Big Green Egg up for direct cooking at medium-high heat (about 450°F).

I oiled the skin side of the salmon and seasoned both sides with a just little sea salt and a grind or two of black pepper.

I put the plank on the grill by itself for about 5 minutes, just until I could smell the wood smoke coming off the plank. I put the salmon on the plank, closed the lid, and let it cook for 10-15 minutes. I like salmon when it’s on the  medium rare side, so I took the fillet off when it started to flake, but was still a little translucent red inside – about 130°F internal.

The verdict? While cedar is traditional for salmon, I also liked the sweeter, more subtle taste that the maple brought to the party. It enhanced the flavor of the salmon without masking it.  I think it would be great for a variety of foods, particularly pork. The planks themselves are very nice (and at $4 a plank, they had better be). They’re a good 1/2 inch thick and tightly grained. Twenty minutes on the grill barely charred the back side. I ought to get plenty of use out of these and it’s fun to be able to cook with something from a place we enjoy so much.

Lightning Nuggets Firestarters

Since we got our new deck, I’ve been extra-careful when firing up the Big Green Egg.  I usually light it with a MAPP torch, but that tends to throw a lot of sparks and sparks make me a whole lot more nervous than they used to.

I decided to give Lightning Nuggets Firestarters a try. These pellets are made of sawdust and paraffin. They are supposed to light quick and burn down to nothing.

I tossed one of these little firebombs into the center of a pile of fresh lump charcoal and lit it with a 2-second blast from the torch. I closed the lid and the bottom vent screen, but left the upper daisy wheel vent off and the top open. 20 minutes later I had this nice little fire roaring and the dome thermometer was at 650°F.

There was still a little sparking off the lump, but nothing like the big pieces that come flying off when I use the torch alone. At $16 for a 50 count box, this is going to be the way I start the BGE from now on.

Link Love

Some sites that I’ve enjoyed recently.

Adam Perry Lang and the Perfect Prime Rib While I am suspicious of taking and barbecue advice from someone with 3 names and no beer belly, this classically-trained-chef-turned-pit master knows his stuff.  I’m dying to make this prime rib and recently ordered his BBQ 25 book.

Suck Creek Wings – Award Winning Hot Sauces This is the best buffalo-style wing sauce I’ve tasted – great tang and plenty of heat with lots of herbaliciousness going on. I’ve used it on wings, thighs, and whole chickens with great success.

Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything An excellent selection of recipes collected from several of Bittman’s books presented in a very accessible, straight-forward way.

King Aurthur Gluten Free I’ve tried both their GF bread mix and GF flour and have been very happy with both of them. The bread mix makes the best GF bread machine loaf I’ve ever had.

Photograzing Food can also be a visual treat. When I’m looking for recipe ideas, this is where I come to browse pure food porn. Very substantial gluten-free section as well.

Sangria

My dear wife made up a pitcher of this wine-based punch last weekend. It’s an excellent, refreshing drink for summer parties.

2 (750 milliliters) bottles red wine (grenache or beaujolais work well)
1 cup brandy
1/2 cup orange-flavored liqueur (like Patron Citronge or Triple Sec)
3 cups orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best if you have the time and muscles)
1/3 cup sugar
1 orange, cut into wedges
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 apple, cut into wedges
1 inch of fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced into coins (give them a squeeze in your juicer for extra flavor)
Sparkling water
Additional fresh fruit for garnish

Combine the wine, brandy, orange-flavored liqueur, orange juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit and ginger. Cover and stick in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours to let all the flavors develop and get to know each other.

Before serving, strain into a pitcher and add a couple of splashes of sparkling water. Serve over ice with a little fresh fruit. We especially liked bing cherries!