More fun with shrimp on the grill. This time it’s a sweet and spicy version.
2 pounds large, grill-cut shrimp (shell-on, butterflied)
1/3 cup hot sauce (Frank’s RedHot Original is traditional, but any Louisiana-style sauce works well. Feel free to experiment.)
1/3 cup raw or brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Combine the hot sauce, sugar, butter, Worcestershire, and garlic powder in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until the the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool slightly (you want it just warm enough to keep the butter melted but not so hot that it cooks the shrimp).
Pour the hot sauce into a large bowl and keep it warm and close to the grill.
Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat.
Grill the shrimp 2 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip again and cook until just pink and curled – about another 2 minutes, or 6 minutes total.
Move the shrimp to the bowl of hot sauce and toss to coat.
Move to a serving platter and drizzle with remaining sauce before serving.
The Verdict: As much as I love wings, I have to say that I’d take these shrimp over buffalo wings any day. The sweeter sauce works really well on shrimp and plays nicely with the tang and heat from the Franks’. These were perfect as part of a meal but if I were doing these as appetizers I think I’d add some salt and a little more heat. Maybe a touch of Marie Sharp’s just to make things interesting.
I started cooking sweet corn naked on the grill (no husks, no silk, no nothing) because it seemed like the easiest and tastiest way to do it. Once the kernels hit the hot grates the sugars start to caramelize. They toughen up a bit, but you get this smoky/sweet flavor that’s hard to beat. Plus it’s an easy no muss, no fuss way to cook the corn – just toss it on while the meat is resting and everything comes to the table hot.
We had some absolutely lovely sweet corn that I figured would be a good candidate – they were plump fresh with tight, bright-green husks. All the better to protect the corn and hold all that corny goodness inside.
I don’t really have a recipe for this. Just get the grill up to medium-high (400°F) and toss the unshucked ears on. Give them a quarter turn every few minutes as the husks start to darken. You will be tempted to pull the ears off as soon as they are evenly browned and starting to smell corney.
Wait. Keep turning.
The husks will blister and blacken.
Wait. Keep turning.
The husks will char and start smoking. Your guests might look over at the grill questioningly.
Wait. Keep turning.
The husks will start to burn and little bits of ash will start floating away. You may see someone sliding the fire extinguisher a little closer to the grill.
Wait. If the corn is actually on fire, close the lid and back off the heat a bit. But if it’s just smoldering, keep turning.
Most of the husk will have blackened and fallen away and you should start seeing kernels peeking through. Your significant other has the phone out and is either dialing 911 or ordering pizza.
Wait. Keep turning.
The silk is almost completely gone, you can clearly see some of the kernels, and you will start hearing little popping sounds.
Now the corn is done. Move the ears off to a metal pan (9×13 cake pan works great) and tent with aluminum foil. Let rest while you finish cooking the rest of the meal.
To serve, wrap a towel around the stem to protect your hand, then husk the ear and snap off the end.
The Verdict: Yes, this is a messy way to cook corn. There were a lot of charred bits of husk and more than a few unruly silks floating around, but the corn tasted wonderful – still smoky/sweet like the naked corn, but with a much bigger corn taste and tenderer kernels.
I am a big fan of Meathead (Craig Goldwyn) and his Amazing Ribs website. Meathead has done a lot to shine the light of science into the dark and smoky den of live fire cooking. One of his latest myth-busting posts concerns the need to let meat rest after cooking.
I won’t try to cover all of the excellent arguments Meathead makes against letting meat rest, but the one that struck me was his quote from Adam Perry Lang, “In the early crust stage (fresh off the grill), fat, collagen, and salt will cause a unique flood of saliva in your mouth. I refer to this type of crust stage as ‘alive and snappy’.”
When it comes to steaks, I have largely been a “cook-’em-hot-and-fast-then-let-’em-rest kind” of guy. To be honest, my reasoning has been based more on grilling folklore than on testing and experimentation. So while I’ve never had a steak that I thought had suffered in taste, texture, or juiciness from resting – I still thought it was worth giving the “hot off the grill” technique a try, particularly if it would give me that alive and snappy effect.
So, armed with little more than a pair of lovely 1 3/4-inch thick strip steaks, I set off on my experiment…
I seasoned the steaks with a heavy coating of sea salt (2 to 3 teaspoons per side) and a few grinds of a mixed pepper blend. I worked the seasoning into the meat with my hand and made sure to cover the edges too. I stashed the steaks back into the fridge while I got the Big Green Egg heated up to the just barely sub-nuclear temperature of 700°F.
I tossed the steaks on for 90 seconds of undisturbed searing. Then I rotated the steaks 90 degrees and gave them another 30 seconds on that side. I flipped the meat and repeated the process on the other side.
I was aiming for medium-rare, so after both sides had been seared I kept flipping them every minute or so while checking for doneness. After about another 2 minutes of flipping, they hit 125°F internal. I took the steaks straight off the grill and right onto our plates, so that when knife met steak the meat was still sizzling.
I have no idea how to describe the first bite – crispy, salty, hint of pepper, and this overwhelmingly good “hot” taste. Not spicy hot or burn-your-mouth hot, but tropical rainforest hot – this wave of heat and humidity that’s so thick that it carries its own cloud of flavors and aromas with it.
It’s like the difference between eating a perfectly tasty bite of meat from the center of a prime rib and eating a bite of the sizzling crust from the same roast – night and day. Both delicious, but in very different ways.
I really enjoyed the “alive and snappy” taste/feeling and it carried on through most of the meal, gradually decreasing as the steak cooled, but never really going away entirely. Yes, I did notice that the steak lost more juices to the plate than a rested steak would have, but not a lot more, and certainly not enough to make the steak noticeably less juicy. In fact, I found myself mopping up what juices there were with bites of meat, so that nothing was really lost in the end.
This is going to be my go-to technique from here on out – thanks, Meathead!
And you thought Jumbo Shrimp was an oxymoron – meet Extra Colossal Shrimp. Also know as U-10, they are shrimp so big that it takes less than 10 of them to make a pound. In this case, 5 of these bad boys weighted in at 16.75 ounces.
The only preparation worthy of shrimp like these was to season them lightly and toss them on the grill.
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
5 raw Extra Colossal Shrimp, grill-cut (shell on, but deveined and butterflied)
Combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and seasoning in a bowl. Mix to combine. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Stash in the fridge while you get the grill fired up.
Set the grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (400°F) heat. Arrange the shrimp on the grate and grill until the shell is pink and the flesh opaque, about 4 minutes per side. These shrimp were big enough that I also grilled them for 2 minutes on edge with the tails up.
So tasty even my never-had-a-shrimp-that-wasn’t-breaded niece liked them. The shell holds the juices in, so they end up sweet and tender with just a hint of smoke. They were the perfect appetizer.
Shrimp are practically free – 2 ounces are just 1 Weight Watchers point and only 65 calories.
I was so happy with the way the marinade worked its way into my Slashed Cornell Chicken Quarters that I wanted to give the same thing a try with my favorite part of the chicken – thighs.
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small shallot
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh herbs (whatever is fresh – thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, and sage all work)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Make the marinade by putting the garlic, shallot, and salt into a food processor and pulse until the garlic and shallot are minced. Add the vinegar and give it another whirl to combine. Let sit for 5 minutes while the vinegar sweetens the shallot.
Add the oil, herbs, Worcestershire, and peppers to the processor and whirl to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Slash the chicken thighs with a knife, making one deep cut perpendicular to the bone. Trim off any extra fat or skin.
Put the thighs in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over them. Turn to coat, then squeeze the air out of the bag, seal it up, and stash in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is even better). Turn the bag every so often to make sure all the pieces get a coated in the marinade.
Remove the thighs from the marinade and give them a dash of salt on each side. Arrange them on a rack set over a pan (I used a 9×13 baking rack) and return to the fridge uncovered. This will help crisp the skin.
Set your grill up for an indirect cook at medium-high (400°F) heat. I used a plate setter on the Big Green Egg to give me nice diffused heat.
When the grill is up to temp, arrange the thighs on the grate skin side up. Close the lid and let it cook for 20 minutes. Flip and cook skin-side down for 20 minutes. Flip again and cook skin-side up until the chicken is done – 180°F internal in the thickest part of the thigh.
Remove chicken from grill and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
The chicken was tender, crispy, and very herbalicious. Slashing the thighs seemed to both help the marinade move deepier into the meat and make the skin crispier. Overall though, the marinade lacked some oomph. Next time – less oil, more Worcestershire, vinegar, salt, and red pepper.
3 ounces of chicken thigh meat is only about 100 calories and 4 Weight Watchers points.
Another “mystery meat” package from my butcher. The handwriting on the butcher paper said “sirloin”, so I assumed it was a steak. It turned out to be a big ol’ sirloin roast – three small bones, multiple muscle groups, and a thin strip of connective tissue holding two nice cuts of meat together.
I trimmed the roast down to two steaks and decided to treat them to a mushroom baste.
Remove the steaks from the fridge and give them a good dusting with some ground sea salt and black pepper. Then set your grill up for a direct cook at slightly sub-nuclear temperature (about 600°F).
When the grill is getting up to temp, sauté the mushrooms. Combine the mushrooms, butter, and oil in a shallow baking pan (I use a 9×13 disposable foil pan) and heat it up right on the grill, stirring to combine everything as the butter melts. Sprinkle the mushrooms with salt and keep cooking until the mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5 minutes.
Add the Worcestershire and thyme and stir to combine. Let cook until the mixture starts to bubble, about another minute. Set the pan beside the grill to keep it warm.
Sear the steaks for 60 seconds on each side, then move them off into the mushroom baste. Flip them a couple of times to coat both sides with all that earthy and buttery joy, then put the steaks back on the grill for another 30 seconds on each side. Keep flipping every 30 seconds or so and start checking for doness – I like my steaks medium-rare, so 125°F internal. These steaks took just under 2 minutes per side total.
Move the steaks off into the mushroom baste and give them another flip. Let rest for 10 minutes, then move the steaks to a cutting board. Reserve the mushroom baste and keep the pan warm.
Trim off any fat or connective tissue from the steaks and then slice the meat on a diagonal into 1/4-inch slices. Put the sliced steak and any accumulated meat juices from the cutting board back into the mushroom mix. Give the pan a stir to coat the meat.
Move meat to a serving platter and serve topped with the mushrooms.
The Verdict: Sirloin is a very flavorful cut of meat, but it can be tough. I really like this grill and baste technique because it lets me build up that flavor while keeping the meat moist and tender.
If you trim it, sirloin steak is 5 points for 3 ounces of meat. The baste adds about 3 more points for the oil. Serve it with a salad and it’s all good.
Bacon has had its day in the sun – bacon explosions, Baconnaise, bacon soda, etc… I get it. I love bacon too, but I also have a soft spot in my heart for its spicy Spanish cousin – chorizo.
Like bacon, Spanish chorizo is cured pork. Only in this case the meat is ground with garlic and smoky/spicy paprika, stuffed into sausage casings, and then smoked and/or air cured. The end result is a very earthy and complex mix of smoke, a hint of sweetness, and a nice tangy finish.
I can eat chorizo-laced snacks all day long. But, like bacon, chorizo is also good to add at the start of cooking so that its flavors can spread throughout a dish. This is a recipe that makes good use of that.
The Sauce 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, undrained
4 ounces chorizo, diced
3 cloves garlic
1-2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Put the garlic and salt in a food possessor and give it a whirl until the garlic is finely minced. Add the jar of red peppers (juice included) and puree until smooth.
In a medium skillet over low heat, add the chorizo and olive oil. Raise the heat until the chorizo starts to sweat out all of that lovely red fat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring ever once in a while, until the chorizo starts to crisp up a bit.
Add the pepper puree, stir to combine, and raise heat until it starts to bubble. Cook 5 to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. Remove from heat, but keep warm.
The Scallops 2-3 pounds diver scallops
2 food-grade wooden planks (I used Maple), soaked for at least an hour
1 teaspoon Chesapeake Bay seasoning
Drizzle of olive oil
Set your grill up for a direct cook over medium-high (450°F) heat.
Rinse and drain the scallops. Pat dry. Push them into a large bowl and drizzle them with oil. Toss to coast. Dust with seasoning and toss to coat again.
Arrange scallops on the planks, trying not to crowd them too much. Put the planks on the grill, close the lid, and cook until they just turn opaque and start to firm up – about 10-15 minutes. You want them about 130°F internal.
Remove the scallops from the grill and toss with the pepper sauce. Put the skillet over medium heat and just warm everything up for a bit. Do NOT overcook the scallops.
Plate and serve.
The Verdict: Loved the combination of the tender, meaty scallops with the warm and slightly spicy sauce. Every bite that had a bit of chorizo in it was remarkable and the whole dish had a great smoky undertone.
The scallops were about an ounce a piece, so 3 scallops with sauce are only 150 calories and 4 Weight Watchers points.
I really liked the way the honey, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sriracha played together in stir-fry sauce, so I started looking at other recipes to bring this combo together and settled on using it as a wing sauce and substituting the it’s-taking-up-too-much-room-in-the-fridge gochujang for the sriracha.
3 lbs chicken wings
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon powder ginger
1 teaspoon fresh-ground back pepper
1/4 cup kosher salt
8 cups water
Make the brine by combining the lemon juice, honey, garlic, ginger, pepper, salt, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Boil for one minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat, pour into a covered non-reactive container and refrigerate until cool.
Once cool, add the wings, arranging so they are all covered in brine. Stash in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but no longer than 24.
3 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce
3 tablespoons gochujang Korean chili paste (as best I can tell this one is gluten free)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Combine the soy sauce, chili paste, honey, and vinegar in a small pot. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the sesame oil, and set aside.
The Cook About an hour before you plan to grill, remove the wings from the brine, pat them dry, and set them uncovered on a rack in the fridge. This will help keep the skin crispy.
Set your grill up for an indirect cook over high (400°F) heat. I set the Big Green Egg up using the inverted plate setter to diffuse the heat.
When the grill is ready, put the wings on and let them cook for 30 minutes. Flip them and let them go for another 20. Flip them again and check for doneness. The skin should be fairly crisp and the internal temp should be 165°F or higher.
When they are done, baste them with sauce on both sides, then let them cook for another 5 minutes. Sauce them again and let them go for another 5 minutes. Sauce them one last time and move them off to a plate. Let rest 10 minutes, then serve with remaining sauce on the side.
The sauce on these babies absolutely rocked! It was the perfect blend of heat and sweet with a nice umami base. The gochujang I used wasn’t too fiery (Koreans probably use it as baby food), but the heat was very rich and consistent. I might add a teaspoon or so of garlic chili paste next time to brighten the heat a little bit. I also see this sauce glazing some pork chops in the near future.
Why not 5 stars? As I’ve said before: a good chicken wing must be crispy, it must be spicy enough to require a cold adult beverage, and it should be flavorful enough to be addictive. These wing hit 2 outta 3 – the brine made the wings nice and juicy, but it also made the skin a bit rubbery. I would ditch it next time.
Sadly, wings are 150 calories and 3 Weight Watchers points a piece.
I’d like to say that it’s a deliberately thought-out, painstaking-researched recipe, but it was really just the result of a happy accident – running out of peanut butter. Substituting roasted peanuts makes a world of difference.
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Sriracha chili Sauce
2 teaspoons cumin
6-8 skewers (if you’re using wooden ones, soak them in water for at least an hour before grilling with them)
Combine the soy, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, oil, sriracha, and cumin in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Put the chicken 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 Peanut Sauce
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons raw or brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1 – 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
Sriracha chili Sauce to taste
Put the peanuts and garlic into a food processor and give them a whirl until they turn into fine crumbs. Add the sesame oil and process until they form a thick paste, like a chunky peanut butter. Add the coconut milk and process until it forms a smooth, velvety sauce. Add the soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, curry paste, lime juice, and Sriracha and whirl to combine.
Stash in the fridge and take it out just before you skewer the chicken to let it warm up a bit.
The Cook Set your grill up for a raised direct cook over high (400°F) heat.
Remove the thighs from the marinade and thread 2 or 3 onto each skewer. Grill chicken about 10 minutes per side, until they hit at least 180°F internal. I like mine closer to 200°F, but in either case you’re looking for some crispy bits on the outside without overcooking the food.
Remove from heat when done and let rest 10 minutes before serving with peanut sauce and Sriracha on the side, and with maybe more peanut sauce drizzled on top, or eaten straight from the bowl with a big spoon.
The title should really be “Chicken Satay with the BEST FREAKIN’ Spicy Peanut Sauce Ever!” The chicken was very good, but the sauce was outstanding – thick and rich with a strong peanut flavor and a nice, warm depth from the red curry.
3 ounces of chicken meat is only about 100 calories and 4 Weight Watchers points. Sriracha is practically free, but the peanut sauce is pure, calorie-laden pleasure.
Yeah, I’d never heard of it either, but thanks to Food52 I got to give this chutney-ish Italian condiment a try.
4 thick-cut, pork chops
1 1/2 cups hot water
3 tablespoons sea or kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Mix the salt and sugar into the hot water and stir to dissolve. Stash in fridge to cool. Once it is cool, arrange the chops in a single layer in a shallow non-reactive dish (a glass pie plate works well) and then pour the brine over top. Let this sit for anywhere from 1/2 hour to 2 hours before cooking.
The Orange-Fennel Mostarda
1/2 of a small fennel bulb, diced
1 navel orange
1 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
Place the fennel, mustard seeds, sugar, vinegar, and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
While this is cooking, grate the orange peel (I use a microplane grater) to get 1 teaspoon of zest.
Peel the orange, removing as much of the pith as you can along with any seeds, rind or stringy bits. Dice the orange segments (I found it easiest to pull the orange in half and slice each half across the segments) and add to the sauce pan.
Bring the mixture back to a boil for 5 minutes, Reduce heat and simmer until the orange has broken down and the mustard seeds have plumped up and softened and the mostarda takes on a marmalade-like consistency, about 30 minutes.
Stir in reserved orange zest and cook for 5 minutes more, then set aside to cool.
The Cook Set up your grill for a direct cook over medium (350°F) heat.
Remove the chops from the brine and season them on both sides with your favorite rub (I used Dizzy Pig Raging River). Grill the chops 5 minutes on one side. Grill the chops 6 to 8 minutes per side (depending on how thick they are) until the internal temp hits 135°F (pork is done at 140°F, but I usually pull it at 135°F as the internal temp will rise as it rests).
Remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes. Serve with mostarda on the side.
Wow! The chops themselves were tender and juicy, but add the sweet and savory mostarda and it’s a knockout.
Why only 4 stars? As good as the mostarda was, the mustard taste didn’t come through as strongly as I would have liked. I used brown mustard seeds, so maybe that makes a difference? I would add a teaspoon or so of grainy mustard to this nest time. Also, the original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon of whole fennel seeds, which I was out of, and you could taste their absence.
On the plus side – I have big plans for this condiment! I can easily see it as the filling for a butterflied pork loin roast or as a pan glaze similar to what I did with the Apricot-Glazed Pork Chops recipe.
3 ounces of center-cut pork chops is 4 Weight Watchers points and 180 calories. The mostarda only adds 1 point and 50 calories per tablespoon.