Sunday, October 27, 2013

GAMEDAY - Saints vs Bills 10/27/13 - Its been awhile...

Yes, it has been awhile since I posted.  Don't know why - I really enjoy it...guess it's been the majesty of the morning that gave me the urge, the calm daybreak, the smell of smoke and the feel of Louisiana fall that prompted me to write.  Whatever the reason...

The first bird scared the bejesus outta me this morning at about 6:45.  It came out of the pre dawn"mood lighting", zipped past me as I was watching the temp on the smoker rig, and flew on, eventually settling on a tree nearby where it woke all it's buddies up with its repetitive cry. 

I'd been up since 5:00, getting things just so for the days meal (smoked St Louis style spare ribs, cornbread, and baked beans - Abitia Andygator and a family pack of other fine Abitia products waiting in the fridge). I had been enjoying the tranquility of the still pitch black morning as I love to do.  I've always dug the two parts of the day within the usual times of day itself.  Early morning and twilight, the times just as the day changes. On days when I get up early to start the smoker I love the still nature of things, how everything is quite, how the smoke from my starter fire hangs in the Louisiana-damp air as it finds any rare current to float away's not often to be in the middle of times like that, but I truly appreciate life at peace when it happens.

And now this damn bird shattered my zen.  I think it was a blue jay - pretty bird, ugly war cry. 

So be it.  Another day starts, and (if I can get the damn temperature set on the smoker) in a few hours I'll be in my jersey, cheering the black and gold on, eating deliciousness with good family and friends.

Maybe this is a return, maybe not. All I know is that I felt compelled to write this morning, so I seized the daybreak...  

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GAMEDAY - Jets vs Saints - 10/04/09

Extra-Spicy Bloody Marys
      Bobby Flay's "Boy Gets Grill" p.17
Avocado Salad with Tomatoes, Lime and Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette
     Bobby Flay's "Boy Gets Grill" p.56
Flank Steak with Roasted Pepper and Feta Stuffing
     Weber's "Way to Grill" p.71

It's another late I'm trying to find ways to amuse myself.  The Bloody Marys are something I've always wanted to do from scratch.  It's not without controversy.  I make a really kick-ass Bloody Mary already, but I use Pat O'Brian's pre-made tomato mix as a base...and I kinda feel like that's cheating.  I've been told by two people this is silly..."Why mess with something that's so perfect already?" my Mother-In-Law said.  Cause the NFL decided to start the Saints at 3 pm two weeks in a row...that's why.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just finalized...

Just finalized the recipes and menu for tomorrow...awwwww baby, it's a gonna be good one...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saints vs. Bills - 9/27/09

Menu for today:

Marinated Portabello Mushrooms with Asisgo
      Webers "Way to Grill" p. 237

Basil Bacon wrapped Louisiana Gulf Shirmp
       How to Grill by Steve Raichlen

Editors note:  I know I said over and over that I was going to do Pulled Pork sandwiches, but I called an audible last night and went with this instead.  It's a much faster cook, over high involves a touch and skill that I want to see if I have.  (Second editors note:  Reading this after creating the rest of the post and actually making the meal makes me want to chew on tin foil.)  The Pulled Pork is on the back-burner...for now. know, there are good days grilling and there are well, other days grilling.  And just like anything else, like oh, say football for example, the game plan doesn't always get executed the way you expect it to...and that makes for one of those other days.  If your fortunate you have enough skill those days to pull a rabbit out of your hat and still do well...kinda like the Saints this weekend...and my gameday grill menu.

I admit, I'm a creature of habit.  I like things happening at the same time day in and day out...Sunday in and Sunday a noon kickoff.  Why the NFL had the Saints kickoff in Buffallo at 3:05 I'll never know...but I believe it screwed my day up.  I had the ingrediangets prepped and really just had to assemble.  I thought that went swell enough, except for cracking the head of one of the ports.  But everything was laid out, prepped and ready to go.

I scraped the gills out of the inside of the portabella mushroom heads...I've never done that before and thus was the reason for one cracking, thankfully they were think enough that it didn't split in half all the way.  So, after peeling the shrimp, scraping the mushrooms, making and applying the marinade (olive oil, Balsamic vinigar, soy, and fresh rosemary), and a few other prep tasks I produced this:
Doesn't EVERYTHING look better wrapped in bacon?  And to this point the prep wasn't hard, it was easy and even with it being nearly 3 and gametime I was ready to fire the grill up and get cooking.

New segment on Gameday Griller - "What Frank Drank"

Key West - Sunset Ale.  I've never have had this beer before.  It was pretty good.  Light, but not a light beer - nice taste with little after taste - nice to drink in what was already late in the afternoon...I'd rank it a 3.5 out of 5 "Frank"en-steins

  So, at this point, the gameplan was still together...and the game was starting...and the grill was pre-heating...and this is when the plan kinda fell apart.

First...if you don't learn a single thing about grilling from this blog remember this - temperature is everything.  Too hot = burn, too cold = e.coli.  I ran the grill too hot here and really didn't understand the gravity of the mistake until the skwers that I soaked in  H2O for 2 hours burned clean through on the first lay out of shrimp.   See, and here's the hidden thing that I didn't really pay much attention to, these two items...bacon shrimp and ports cook best at different temps.  I was going for a medium heat on the ports and a high direct heat for the shrimp.  But I wanted to have as much grill room for the shrimp and ports so I had the three burners going low-medium-high across the grill, which promptly resulted in a schizophrenic heat surface.  

Here's what they looked like when they went on.

I'm sorry to say that I have no pictures of them actually cooking because I found out that I can't flip, turn, swear, and salvage all at the same time.  Now honestly, I timed everyting out, I had a plan as I said...and then, all of a suddden I was just winging it.  (Like the Saints who managed to not rely on the offense this past weekend).  I flipped, I moved, I re-wrapped with tongs, ran into the house and back out about 400 times, I put fires out (bacon grease lights on fire REALLY fast)...but I managed to pull the food off at the same time, dressed the ports in the Italian bread crumb mixture I made, and made sure the bacon cooked through...the result?

Notice the burn though on the skewers, think I had it a little too hot?

The plate isn't going to win any "best dressed" awards, but I drew rave reviews from my diners.

Okay, he didn't have any...but everybody else said it was delish.  So, much like the Saints, I had a game plan going in, had to adjust and work harder, and the result was the same for  I guess the lesson is this...a plan is only as good as how well you manage the deviations from the plan.  Until next Sunday...

Game Day!!!

GAMEDAY - Saints vs Eagles - 9/20/09

Slow Good Baby Back Ribs w/ Soo-Wee Sauce
                  Weber's - Way to Grill p.122

Chicken Wings
                  My own creation (MOC)

Ah's a beautiful thing isn't it?  The week long anticipation of a great Sunday filled with football and food.  I mean, it helps when your team is an offense juggernaut, but I could see myself feeling this way even if I was, say, a Lions fan..  It's the same feeling when you get when you slow grill something.  Just knowing that they meat is slowly cooking and absorbing the smoke and heat.  Knowing that the meal you are creating will be well worth the wait.   These ribs were the perfect way to accompany that feeling and kick off the Sunday ritual of me grilling for the family.

I found some baby back ribs at Fresh Market about 2 months ago.  They were on sale and perfect to put in the freezer for this exact purpose.  Admittedly I had never done ribs before so I was a little nervous.  Not sure why, I think I might have been intimidated by them.  I think there's this expectation that comes with ribs.  As it turned out, this recipe was perfect for a rib first timer with excellent grill skills.

/pats self on back.

I started the day at about 7:00 AM after the wake-up call from Noah and then Jake.  I knew I had a long cook ahead and wanted to time out eat at halftime.  The game started at noon and I figured 1:30 would be a good finish time.  I also knew I had the wings as an appetizer so I wasn't too concerned with a rush casue people would be hungry. I started by making the rub and then wrapping the ribs up in saran wrap.  The book doesn't say to do this it's just something I picked up along the way.  I think it sticks the rub to the meat and lets the spices do their job.

I found by stacking and re-stacking them several times I could be sure that enough pressure was applied to keep the rub pressed against the meat. 

After pre-heating the grill, adjusting the grates (in which I broke a piece of the grate off when I dropped it, off to a fantastic start), and getting a good smoke going I laid those racks down.  I think it was about 9:00 when I dropped them on the grill.  It's weird to have such a low temperature going and not hear a sizzle when you put something on the grill.  You just have to trust that the indirect heat it going to do it's job.

 Jake and Noah being fully engrossed in cartoons...and I mean fully engrossed...look at Noah...I began work on the wings.  I got a few hints and tips online and decided on a Rosemary and Garlic brine, then grill, then light toss in a sauce we've had for awhile - Justin Wilson's Chicken Wing Sauce.  For those that don't know a brine is when you soask a meat, usually a poultry, in a salt water solution with spices or other herbs added.  The salt "opens" the meat up and allows the flavored H2O to penetrate...keeping the meat moist while cooked - in other words d-lish-us)  Lena wisely suggested dropping the rosemary as it might clash with the hotness of the sauce, which I one bag of wings went into the "drink" with 8 smashed cloves of garlic.

They sat submerged for one hour, which coincidentally was just enough time to make the Soo-Wee sauce and set it aside, then flip the ribs and mop the ribs with the other sauce I had to make (3/4 red wine vinegar, 3/4 H2O, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce).  Here's a picture of what I had after one hour and after mopping.  Notice the smoke packets...its another little secret I've picked up...when slow grilling and smoking always overlap your the smoke cause it's tough to time it out to get one going right when the other burns out.

I also had the time to install this on the outside of the house...much to the chagrin to my football hating wife.

Hold on a moment here...let me clear my throat..."WHO DAT, WHO DAT, WHO DAT THINK THEY GONNA BEAT DEM SAINTS?!?!"

Okay, better...and back to the grill.  After the second hour and second mop here's what I had.

Still had two hours to go.  I guess this is the hard part.  The waiting...and not checking every 12 seconds.  Again, the trust here is that the meat is cooking and everything is moving along as it should.  It's all very Zen like.  I was doing all these other things around the kitchen and then even showered and changed and all the while the ribs were cooking long and slow.  Still the waiting is the hardest part.  With game an hour away it's time to suit up:

Uh, Who dat... and time to get the wings cooking.  I took the wings out of the brine solution, dried them and dropped them on the grill next to the ribs, but over direct, low, heat.

So, about 20 minutes on the wings (10 a side) and about 15 minutes to kickoff...I was giddy at this point.  I had also cracked open the first brew.  Just drinking a run of the mill Original Coors...but it tasted so sweet with standing over the grill flipping the wings and monitoring the ribs.  The odd things that for about an hour there I forgot that the ribs were even part of the equation.  After I pulled the wings off I checked in on the temperature three or four times but I really just left them to cook...which I suppose is the best way to do it.

The wings came off, and I tossed about half in the aforementioned sauce and plated the other half "naked".

They were really tasty, in fact Jake ate two or three of them...which shocked us cause he doesn't eat anything...ever.  But now the ribs came off the grill.  I used a technique called "the Texas crutch" to finish them.  Basically it involves wrapping the ribs in tin foil for 20 or 30 minutes to allow the humidity to cook the ribs once over again.  It gave Lena and Debbie time to prep the sides.  When the ribs were done...

Oh sweet sassy molassy...were they freakin good.  Cooked completely and smoky through-out if I hadn't prepped them and grilled them I would have thought we bought them in a store.


It was quite the festival of food and like I said earlier, the perfect way to kick off "Grill Season".  I'd recommend the baby back recipe to anyone.  The sauce was juuuust a smidge too vinegary for my tastes, but that's something that's easily taken care of next time, I've already made the notation in the book.  Here's a few more pictures from that day.

All in all the day turned out quite nicely...and these two pictures tell most of the ass-whooping laid down on both the Eagles and the ribs.

One final tought working hard in the kitchen.  I have to thank Debbie for cleaning most of it up and leaving me to sack out onthe couch for the afternoon games.  Jake didn't make it to the Sunday night game...too tired from watching me work all day I guess...

Until next Sunday!