Monday, August 31, 2009

How to Smoke a Brisket - Steven Raichlen

This is my 16th recipe from Steven Raichlen's incredible book... HOW TO GRILL

How to Smoke a Brisket detailed instructions are on page 42 of the book. Lots of pictures and two recipes for a rub and for the mop. I am no stranger to smoking a brisket, and I have had great success doing it... my way (plug in your Frank Sinatra for the rest of this blog... or better yet, Fat Elvis used to sing this on his later tours, and his version is terrific). But, in the spirit of the challenge of doing a book cook through, I tossed out all my preconceived notions and followed Steven's instructions to a tee.

First thing I had to get used to was the size of the brisket. I am one of those guys that fills the whole rack up anytime I fire up a smoker. Steven advocates using just the center portion of the flat. That's fine. Actually much easier than cooking an entire brisket. The meat is uniform size (thickness), and much easier to cook. Plus, I had an entire brisket, so this way I could cook half with Steven's recipe, and half with a new technique I have been wanting to try, injecting marinade (which I will be blogging about tomorrow).

As always, the instructions were very clear and easy to follow. The rub recipe did not make enough to cover the brisket. Possibly the section I had was larger than what was used in Steven's test grill, but I ended up having to double it.

And while we are on recipes, let me give you the standard disclaimer I always use about reprinting recipes......Long time readers of the blog, I am going to start coloring the lettering in the disclaimer, it will be the same for each review, feel free to skip to the standard black colored text...

OK, here's my generic talk about Steven Raichlen and his book...and me... As long time readers know, I am doing my own tribute (rip-off) off the Julie/Julia project, cooking my way through Steven's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. Unlike Julie, I won't be finishing this in a year, but I will be making an item at least once a week.

A word about reprinting recipes... I asked for some advice a few posts back. I understand that it is done, lots of people do it, and there would be no consequences. But, I decided not to reprint any of Steven's recipes from this book. I have several reasons, first and probably most important to readers, I just think that this is a book that should be in every one's library. Buy the book. It is very detailed, comes highly recommended by someone who cooks on the grill often (me), lots of photos, lots of instruction... Darn near idiot proof. But, most important to me, I want to respect the copyright. In another life, I owned a book store. I have met and socialized with authors, and I have a great deal of respect for the effort it takes to produce a work like this. It may take a couple years, but eventually, I intend to make every single recipe in the book. Starting to reproduce the recipes, intending to do them all would certainly offend me as a book seller, and probably Steven as the copyright holder. Buy the book, Amazon has used copies available for under $7. Worth every penny.

OK, back to the recipe. I am a mister instead of a mopper. What that means is that in the past, I always used a spray bottle to mist my meat any time the smoker was open. I used either Apple Juice, or occasionally a recipe I had found. But Steven suggested a mop and a vinegar beer solution. This worked fin. And gave me an excuse to buy a new toy for the grill as I did not have a mop brush (only cost a buck).

Cooking is easy, low and slow, about an hour and a half per pound at 225 degrees. Internal temperature needs to reach 190 degrees. Only change I did was I took it off the smoker when it reached 185, and then double wrapped in foil for two hours. This allowed the cooking process to continue on it's own and temp was easily reached. Steven advocates taking the brisket strait from the smoker (or grill), letting it rest for ten minutes, and then carving. I have just had such tender juicy meat come from using the Texas Crutch that I build that time into my cooking prep time.

And I certainly was NOT let down this time. Look at that smoke ring. That deep pink circle around the brown center is the sign that everything went right. Until a piece of meat reached 140 degrees, the nitrates in the meat interact with the smoke and creates this sign of BBQ genius. I have cooked dozens of brisket, but this was the deepest red I have ever achieved. Was it in the mop? Maybe it was in the rub recipe of Steven's. Or maybe this particular piece of meat took to the process better. Anyway, it made a spectacular presentation.

But, more important than the look is the taste, and this tasted just as good as it looks. Juicy, tender, the bark formed from the rub was filled with spiced flavors. All in all, a perfect brisket.

The book outlines specifically the cooking process on a grill, as opposed to a smoker. So, if you only own a grill, following the detailed instructions in the book will get you similar results.

On my scale of 1-5, gets a great 5. I Liked the results very much, and will certainly be making this again with little or no alterations. An interesting however that i will talk about tomorrow. In addition to this recipe, I also prepared a separate brisket that i injected with a marinade. It was a completely different look and taste. I will be blogging about this tomorrow and will compare each different version... Each of these was a standout for different reasons. So be sure and check back tomorrow...

Here's my brisket version 2...just to wet your appetite.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Raspberry Chipotle Marinated Spiral Stuffed Pork Loin with a Bacon Lattice

Raspberry Chipotle Marinated Spiral Stuffed Pork Loin with a Bacon Lattice...And oh yeah, a thin layer of provolone cheese is in the spiral too!

Wow, that's a long title, for a deceptively simple recipe. By my count, this is recipe #21 in my quest for a year's worth of original recipes...And, in all humility, it is one of my absolute tastiest, prettiest and spectacular recipes I have ever made. I know I have several people who follow my blog that either do not own a grill (poor souls), or grill only occasionally. I also know that most of the people following my blog do not own or have access to a smoker. I made this on my smoker; but I assure you that even without these creations of the gods (grills and smokers), you too can achieve this recipe. It is easily converted to a standard frill set up for indirect grilling or to a kitchen oven (low and slow, finishing off under the broiler). I am going to go through the recipe with details, but if anyone wants additional advice on how to cook this, feel free to comment or drop me an email at

There are going to be several photos for this recipe, and I will shrink them down to their smallest size. If you want details in the photos, please just double click over the photo of your choice, and the magic of the Internet will show you a much bigger photo...

OK, I want to explain a bit about why I like spiral cut meat so much. In the past, I have blogged about a...Recipe 11- Main Course - Spiral Stuffed Pork Loin, as well as Steven Raichlen's Tapenade Pork Loin and even a stuffed chop at Steven Raichlen's Grilled Pork Chops "Calzones" What these all have in common is a flavored taste accent hidden inside the main ingredient. By adding these hidden gems, you insure that each bite your guests receive not only the taste of the main ingredient, but also all the taste of the filling. In these cases, the whole is better than the individual tastes. Spread those tastes around, and your meal will be remembered. Also, of course the eye appeal of a spiral cut is a big addition. Shows you made effort, and didn't just open a can. So, I love spiral cuts and you will be seeing more of them.

First thing to do is to assemble your ingredients.

3 pound Pork Loin
1 pound Sausage (i planned to marinade with some spice, so a mild flavored Sausage is fine.
1 pound of bacon
1/4 pound very flavorful provolone cheese (add more if using a less sharp cheese)

For the marinade,
the juice from a thawed package of frozen Raspberries.
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon smoked Paprika
2 teaspoon Chipotle powder (a note about the chipolte spice... I have an excellent spice guy that sells fresh and very powerful Chipotle powder. Know your spice, if yours is not as strong (and believe me, there are plenty that are only fair as hot spice), use more. If you are afraid of spice, use less.

The inspiration for this came totally from my head, but also from a desire to show my new friends from Texas that Kansas City spiced grilled food can be just as flavorful as her superb tex-Mex (see yesterday's post for details about who I was cooking for). So actually, for this recipe, I put in 2 teaspoons of Chipotle spice. It was fabulous, but when i make this again, i will only use 1 teaspoon for more "normal" pallets.

I assembled the Marinade, combining all the ingredients, cooked over medium heat in a sauce pan until everything blended completely and the liquid reached a soft boil. Next, I soaked the pound of sausage in it. ALL of the liquid was absorbed in the sausage. I let this sit for a bit, while I spiral cut the loin.

It sounds somewhat complicated to spiral cut a loin, but with a bit of practice, anyone can do this. Make sure your knife is as sharp as possible. Put the knife hilt (the wooden part on the photo) flat on the cutting board, leaving that 1/2 inch gap between the knife blade and the board. Start slicing into the loin ... Much like pealing an apple, rolling that 1/2 inch of loin out as you go. Again, it might take a bit of effort, and your first time, go slow, but as with all things, it gets easier. Also, butcher's twine will hold it all together in the end, so if you make a mistake, just keep cutting... All will get filled in!

Once you have the loin laid out, start filling in with the cheese very finely cut thin (I use a potato peeler to get very thin slices). Get the loin layered with the cheese, then start on the sausage stuffing. This worked well, as the sausage was a little gooey from adding all the liquid, so it spread easily. But it was not so goopey that it just ran out. hard to explain, but I think with the photos you get the idea.

And from there, just start rolling gently up. It helps to pull the loin out as much as it goes, and roll gently without pushing. If you force the roll, all the goop will fall out. Once it is rolled, tie in three or four places with some butcher twine. I am lucky to have found some rubber bands specially designed for smokers and grillers. they work just fine, are reuseable and dishwasher safe. I got them at a BBQ specialty store, and if you make a lot of spiral cuts, they are GREAT!

Alright, time to work on the lattice of bacon! VERY pretty and will get ooooh and aaahs from everyone. VERY VERY VERY easy, once you know the trick (all but impossible without this trick...

Lay out six strips of bacon with about half the width of one slice in between the next, as shown. Then lift the second, fourth and sixth pieces out of the frame. Lay a single piece of bacon across the top, starting on the first piece (from right to left), and stretched to where the sixth piece was. Put the 2nd, 3rd and 6th pieces back where they were, the ends now being above where you laid the top piece (and the 1st, 3rd and 5th pieces below).

Now, Lift the 1st, 3rd and 5th pieces up, but not where that top piece has just been laid down. Repeat the process of laying a second piece of bacon down, and putting the 1st, 3rd and 5th pieces back where they were. the second piece is same as the first, with half over and half under. Like weaving on a loom, just with bacon! Continue, repeating alternate weaves like this till you have the lattice assembled... Now is the tough part...

There is no way to lift this assemblage and still keep it together to put it on the top of the loin. Instead, you are going to roll the loin over the bacon and pick it up as you go. OK, the loin has a layer of fat on the bottom that you do not want to cover with bacon. So, place the loin on top pf the lattice, fat side up. Then take toothpicks and attach the side of the lattice to the loin (enlarge the photo to the left, and you can see what I mean). Then simply roll the loin until the fat side is on the bottom, and the lattice has been picked up and lays across the top.

And viola... I nearly peed my pants it was so pretty! Tuck all the edges in, and it makes that great looking bacon/pork football!

OK, I cooked this at 225 degrees in my smoker. The important thing is to reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees. It took 5 hours to get to temperature. I then wrapped in foil for about 2 hours to let the juices settle. Just before I cut this up, I did show off to all (and especially my visiting cook buddy). All were impressed...It is very pretty...

But most important of all... It tastes just as good as it looked The raspberry sweetness was there. The heat of the chipotle was there. The taste of the loin was there. And the crispness of the bacon edging provided a nice accent. This was the hit of the party.

10 people ate dinner that night, Let's do a little math...

I sliced this into 20 slices. I ate the two end cuts (my guests get the best pieces). We also served brisket, another pork loin (no stuffing, but a great BBQ glaze), chicken wings, baked beans, potato salad, BBQ cabbage and Meringue pies. Lots of food!

The Raspberry Chipotle spiral stuffed Sausage/Provolone Pork Loin (I need a shorter name) weighed probably 4 pounds total... all was gone! There was plenty of leftovers of all the rest.

It took extra effort... It was worth every bit of it! Maybe the best thing i have ever made.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Party #4 - Family visits with the neighbors

10 adults, a baby and I got to smoke meat!
My Cat Eng and my red pig yard decorations helped supervise the party prep. My wife tells everyone that I drink so much my pink elephants have brightened up...

But I digress...

Remember last week's blog about party prep??? I was planning a very fancy meal, and I showed the table setting that greeted everyone. Immediately, every one knew what type of evening I had planned. Click HERE for that story... Well, today I was after a more fun Idea. So, with 10 people coming, I set up additional tables, different table cloths and even different plates let everyone know to relax and be ready for anything. No pretensions tonight.

It has been a great week. My neighbors, Jim and Herme, had family visiting. Herme's sister Nella owns and operates a diner in San Antonio. Twice during the week, we were invited to Jim's house for dinner, and it was a real treat to be entertained at someone Else's place. Being from San Antonio, and being Hispanic, she naturally showed off her Tex-Mex skills. Not something I have had a lot of, and never really attempted to try (unless you count fajitas). My, my, my...It was great. But, during the week, Jim and Herme were bragging on my food, so we happily invited the visitors over for a farewell dinner on their last night in town. My other foodie buddy Tom made some wings (his specialty), Pork tenderloin and some of his terrific kick ass Baked beans. I got to fire up my smoker...
Hard to tell in this shot, but we have hung some large Christmas strings of bulbs from our pergola and we get a nice Tuscan look, with plenty of lights to eat by. I LOVE this time of year, cooler weather, low humidity, and gets dark a little earlier. Big party of 10 adults and my pretty 14 month old neighbor girl...
I have a lot to blog about this week. This is a stuffed spiral cut pork loin with a bacon lattice wrap. It is going to a winner, so look forward to that (coming in a few days)...
I also made Brisket...Look at that smoke ring!!! I actually made two different styles, this is from a recipe in Steven Raichlen's HOW TO GRILL book that I will be talking about, but I also did one with an injected marinade that i will also be comparing and contrasting.

The party went great. Of course, the Texans have had great Texas BBQ, but they enjoyed the Kansas City touch Tom and I are working on. The extra effort was appreciated, and it was a treat for all to entertain and to be entertained.

And BTW...

I made the same BBQ Smoked Cabbage I blogged about a few weeks ago (you can reach that blog by clicking HERE), This is one of my favorite Steven Raichlen recipes that was very unexpected. Neela wanted the recipe, and promised to offer it as an option in her diner. While I would be surprised, it was very nice of her to comment. A sweet person that treated us all very nicely over her visit.

Nice to return the favor,

Stay tuned this week for reports of our fun!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Goat Cheese Bruschetta with Grilled Onions

Greetings all, this is recipe #20 in my quest for a year's worth of original recipes... I am certainly not the first to make Bruschetta, but I added enough interesting items to make this recipe my own. Bruschetta can be called a poor man's pizza, as it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. The original recipe is a piece of toast Italian Bread, rubbed with raw garlic and some diced tomatoes with a little olive oil. But, you can dress up with cheese, meats, veggies or whatever is in your imagination... so here goes...

...REALLY quick today, as it is another cooking day. 10 adults and a baby are coming over tonight for brisket, spiral cut stuffed Pork tenderloin (with a home made Raspberry Chipotle marinade), Potato salad and BBQ cabbage. One night, and nearly a week's worth of blog material, so stay tuned...

Funny story about last night, A brisket takes about 16 hours to cook (plus Texas Crutch foiling time, round off to 18-20 hours. I have a terrific smoker that holds it;s temperature well for about 8 hours without needing to replenish. So, doing the math, if I wanted to serve at around 6:30 PM, I needed to get this on a hot (225 degrees) smoker by 10 PM last night, and I would need to check every few hours. Anytime I do this, I always drink a full glass of milk before bedtime. That way, i will need to get up to pee in about 4-5 hours, and can check the smoker then. So, 3 AM comes, I wake up, I tend to business, and I went outside to check the smoker. All was as expected, and I was back in bed in 10 minutes. BUT... 15 minutes later, i was just nodding back to sleep, and my wife slaps me on my ass and yells. "WHAT DID YOU DO???"

Long story short, the neighborhood had one of those weird little 5 minute power outages. When the power went off, it turned a ceiling fan off, that woke my wife, causing her to assume that I had somehow burnt the house down and we were seconds from death. She is a little high strung when we leave fire unattended.

OK... recipe time. Bruschetta is a wonderful dish, easy to make on the grill, and a nice appetizer to keep the guests busy while I sliced the meat and got things ready for the real meal. I made these for Herme's birthday party I blogged about last week. You can get those details by clicking HERE. In advance of the party, I creamed together i package of cream cheese and 4 ounces of goat cheese, along with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Goat cheese is a little pricey, so combining these ingredients gets the taste, with about 1/3 the cost. I also had some grilled onions (2 red onions, cut into 1/2 inch slices, marinated in balsamic vinegar for an hour prior to cooking). I also had some grilled garlic (I put whole cloves on skewers, and toasted over the grill (2 whole garlic heads worth) cooked about 1 hour ahead of time. Finally, I diced 2 whole tomatoes. The 4 mixings were put in 4 different bowls so guests could assemble the "pizzas" as they like.

I made Garlic toast from the FABULOUS recipe from Steven Raichlen's Book HOW TO GRILL. You can check the recipe review I did for the toast by clicking HERE.. Each guest got a piece of toast, and they did as they please. Makes a great appetizer, and gives them something to do so i can work.

Sadly, this is the only shot I have of this delight. Just smear a little cheese on the toast, add as many ingredients as you like... and viola! Bon Appetite

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Steven Raichlen Surf & Turf Salmon and London Broil

Greetings... We had a surprise visitor last week. My wife's sister, her new boyfriend and her daughter came to spend the weekend with us. It was a perfect visit. Arrived on Friday night, we enjoyed the day on Saturday, and they left Sunday morning. Relatives, like fish, start to stink after three days. BUT, it was a grand three days, they were very fun, and it is exciting to see my 50 year old sister-in-law giddy as a school girl around her new gentleman friend.

It also gave me a terrific chance to try out not one, but TWO recipes from Steven Raichlen's book, HOW TO GRILL! I had no idea what the friend liked, so a little steak, a little fish, and I was going to be his favorite potential brother-in-law! This was the first time the sister has visited our house, so it was important to my wife that all went well. Another advantage to grilling is that i was able to have all my prep work done and moved outside while my wife perpetuated the myth that we always lived in such a clean house.

But I digress...

I made Steven's Ginger Soy London Broil. Located on page 72 of his book, with two pages of photo guided instructions starting on page 70. Funny thing, I found out there is no cut of beef called London Broil. London Broil is more a description of a serving and carving method for cooking a thicker cut of flank or round steak. I had a nice thick (about 3 inches) cut of top round I had bought a few weeks earlier on sale. 3 pounds of steak for total $8, compares to a top round cut thinner for as much as $8 a pound. London Broil is a bargain.

BUT... it is also a very tough piece of meat. Because the muscle fibers run the length of the cut, it is important to slice against the grain to get a tender taste. That is what makes it London Broil. It also helps to slice at an angle, further slicing into the fibers.

And now, my standard disclaimer...Long time readers of the blog, I am going to start coloring the lettering in the disclaimer, it will be the same for each review, feel free to skip to the standard black colored text...

OK, here's my generic talk about Steven Raichlen and his book...and me... As long time readers know, I am doing my own tribute (rip-off) off the Julie/Julia project, cooking my way through Steven's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. Unlike Julie, I won't be finishing this in a year, but I will be making an item at least once a week.

A word about reprinting recipes... I asked for some advice a few posts back. I understand that it is done, lots of people do it, and there would be no consequences. But, I decided not to reprint any of Steven's recipes from this book. I have several reasons, first and probably most important to readers, I just think that this is a book that should be in every one's library. Buy the book. It is very detailed, comes highly recommended by someone who cooks on the grill often (me), lots of photos, lots of instruction... Darn near idiot proof. But, most important to me, I want to respect the copyright. In another life, I owned a book store. I have met and socialized with authors, and I have a great deal of respect for the effort it takes to produce a work like this. It may take a couple years, but eventually, I intend to make every single recipe in the book. Starting to reproduce the recipes, intending to do them all would certainly offend me as a book seller, and probably Steven as the copyright holder. Buy the book, Amazon has used copies available for under $7. Worth every penny.

OK, back to the recipe. The meat is marinated, and as you can probably tell from the title, there is an Asian feel to the recipe. I had just done several experiments where I determined that a marinade of this type produced a very tender cut of beef. And sure enough, the finished product was amazing! The cooking method was very similar to cooking the tenderloin I had done a few posts back. I cooked each side for about 8 minutes. I then checked the temp with an instant read thermometer. It read 150 at the thickest part. Unfortunately, i did not have time to foil it for a few hours prior to serving, I did let it sit for ten minutes in order to let the juices settle.

the meat came out a wonderful medium rare. I had enough end pieces that were more done to satisfy my wife's tastes in wanting medium well. It tasted great, was very tender and was a big hit! I stopped cutting pieces pretty much as you see the photo above. I had about half that I rewrapped in foil and let it sit for a couple hours, then refrigerate for lunch the next day. When I opened it up, sure enough, the magic of foiling actually cooked the meat to a more medium look. It warmed up very well, and I can highly recommend this for left overs!

In addition to the steak, I had a nice piece of Salmon in the fridge. I also grilled Steven's Salmon with Mustard Glaze on page 293-294, with detailed photo instructions starting on page 291.

Salmon is a great fish to cook on the grill. Cooking it skin side down makes it almost idiot proof. Not much to say about it as it is sooooo easy. Check the flakiness to check for doneness, and there it is. The mustard sauce is terrific, and this was also a big hit.

2 very simple recipes, two different cooking styles, but they certainly were easy. Not a big stretch for cooking pros, but the thick steak makes a spectacular (inexpensive) presentation item.

This was the first thick cut round steak i had ever bought. I do know, they are on sale often. I will certainly be stocking up on these and have them on hand.

BOTH of these items, on my scale of 1-5, gets a great 5. I Liked each, and will certainly be making each again with little or no alterations. these were winners all!

This is my 15th recipe from Steven's book, about 10%. I am slowly getting there, but just in the brief time I have been working on this challenge, I am a much better outdoor chef. I highly recommend this book, and even more highly recommend you stretch your wings.

Here are the recipes I have made so far, with links to the reviews and notes I made...

Grilled Garlic Parsley Cheese Bread
The recipe is on page 420
This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

Side Dishes...
Garlic Grilled Tomatoes
The recipe is on page 395 This only got 2 stars!

Grilled Pepper Salad
The recipe is on page 385
This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

The recipe is on page 360 This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

The recipe is on page 356 This got 4 stars, recommend it, but would be better marinaded instead of brush glazing while cooking

Main Courses...
Grilled Pork Chops "Calzones"
The recipe is on page 134
This got 4 stars, recommend it, but needs a liquid glaze or sauce to go with it.

Tapenade Pork Loin
The recipe is on page 121
This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

The recipe is on page 205 This got 4 stars, recommend it, but the following chicken is the best I have ever tasted

The recipe is on page 210 This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

The recipe is on page 139 This got 5 stars, and comes highly recommended!

The recipe is on page 98 This got 2 stars, Hardly perfect... read the review

The recipe is on page 50 This got 4 stars, recommend it, but the loins I made with liquid either marinade or wet rub were better

Coconut-Grilled Pineapple
The recipe is on page 427
This got 4 stars, was better when I added shredded coconut

Following dinner on the deck with the romantic lighting, we moved to the firepit for marshmallows

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

PETER BRADY's Pork Chops and Applesauce Glaze Kabobs

Greetings all, this is recipe #19 in my quest for a year's worth of original recipes... I am calling these Peter Brady's Pork Chops and Apple Sauce Glaze Kabobs in tribute to the classic Brady Bunch episode (season 3, episode 6, called the personality Kid) where Peter asks Alice whats for dinner, and he repeats Pork chops and Applesauce in a Humphrey Bogart impression because he think his personality is dull.

And here is a bit of trivia you never possibly wanted to know. The phrase dates back to the 1930's, not as a reference to a meal, but in reference to "dressing up" a bland event or item. Basically, apple sauce was a synonym for flattery. W.C. Fields was famous for calling snooty, pretentious people, "nothing but pork chops and applesauce".

And one more bit of trivia for you... Mrs. year on the Grill and I have been together for many years. We speak often, and are our own best friends. But last night, in discussing the meal, I found out she always thought Peter was the hot one on the show. I tried, but I could not get her interested in Sam the butcher fantasies. Late at night, she still dreams of Peter... who knew?

And one last bit of info, I am using smaller photos for this post as It is going to have a lot of pictures. If you would like to take a closer look at any, just click on an image and the magic of the Internet will enlarge it.

OK, it's recipe time. I need to credit this to a couple of people... First, the idea for the recipe came from MOM's CAFE BLOG, which you can reach by clicking HERE. They have a very fun event going on right now where she and her husband use a recipe from a magazine, each with the same ingredients, and make them in different ways. One of her recent blogs was...She Said (5) - Apple Glazed Chicken Kabobs. In which she makes here kabobs using similar ingredients... But no apple sauce.

I also wanted to credit another blogger for the inspiration for an experiment I conducted. A few days ago, one of my favorite bloggers, Crazy Asian Gal (you can reach her blog by clicking HERE), wrote a blog called... Five spice Ribs, which you can reach by clicking HERE. In the comments for that page, she commented that she does not in fact own a grill. OMG! How can this be??? For a moment, I considered sending her a PAYPAL payment of several hundred dollars so that she could enjoy the benefits of grilling. Then I decided I should in fact send her a thousand dollars so she could buy a nice grill AND a smoker in order to really get the experience. Just before I clicked send, it dawned on me that I had read about using your stove as an impromptu grill. I commented to her that it was possible, but in fact, I had never tried it. So, instead of all that clutter of having to find a spot in her patio for a grill and smoker, I decided to not send her a thousand dollars, but instead, I wanted to see if you could in fact get the same experience of grilling without the grill...

Here's what I did...

First, I got all the ingredients together...

8 pork chops, cut about 3/4 inch thick
2 Granny Smith Apples (cored, cut into 8 pieces each, soaked in some lemon water to keep them from getting brown while I cut up the rest)
2 onions, cut into large @1 inch square sections)
2 green peppers (cut into the same size)
1 can of pineapple chunks
1 cup brown sugar
1cup Apple Sauce
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce.
2 teaspoons Chipotle spice

I combined the sugar, apple sauce, BBQ sauce, chipotle and Worcestershire sauce in a sauce pan and cooked for about 30 minutes on a soft boil. I stirred every few minutes to make sure it was not burning.

While that was cooking, I cut all the fruit up into equal size chunks. The pineapple was a little small. If I was making these for a party, I would probably buy a fresh whole pineapple so i could control the size, but for just me and the Mrs., this was good enough.

Then I started to put the items on the skewers. It is hard to tell n this shot, but I have fancy circular skewers that makes a round presentation piece. They look great, but I hate them. They are difficult to put the items on and very difficult to get them off. I also have a fear of driving my hand through the end of one of these torture items. So, enjoy the following photos with them, cause I think this will be the last time I use them (unless the Pope visits). I have lots of pretty, but difficult presentation items I would use if important people visit. These I will hold for when his holiness flies in from Rome (I hear he is a big fan of burnt ends).

I put a piece of apple at the beginning and the end of each skewer, and alternated the fruit pieces, filling up each skewer. In addition to the fancy curved skewers, I used 4 wooden skewers (that I had seen an earlier posting Crazy Asian Gal had used).

Next, I set up my OVEN (not grill!) for direct grilling... That is, I turned the oven on broil. Same as a grill, but the heat source comes from above, instead of below. I was not sure of the amount of heat this would put out, so I wanted to err on the side of caution. I made a boat of tinfoil, and set it on the lowest possible rack. Filled it up with four of the wooden skewer kabobs. I brushed on a layer of the cooked applesauce sauce and watched carefully. I cooked them for 10 minutes on each side, brushing more sauce on each 5 minutes. They came out perfect. The kitchen smelled of cooked apples, and I was very pleased. This experiment was working fabulous! I am now more confident, and could easily have moved the grate up a couple notches in the oven, but better safe than burnt.

This photo is of the kabobs in the boat, just as I started cooking. I used the tinfoil boat to avoid cleaning, but I am sure a roasting pan would work just fine. If you have a pan that a small grill fits into, that would be even better. Of course, there are drips, so do not put these on the grates to cook. Trust me, I have done things like that before, and it is not worth listening to your wife for hours discussing (yelling about) your cooking skills compared to your cleaning skills... Trust me!

OK, now I got to move to the comfort of my grill. I took the fancy curved kabobs out to the grill. I also had extra meat, onions and pineapple that did not fit onto a kabob. Those I put into my fancy pan with holes in it. If you should happen to own one of those pans, or ever wondered why any fool would buy a pan that leaked, these work great for making kabobs without the skewers. Meat and veggies all cook, all have a bit of that tasty charredness that only grilling makes. If I was not going to experiment, and not photographing for the blog (almost as important as cooking for the Pope), I would have cooked the entire meal in my fancy pan with holes in it. Tastes the same.

... But I digress. Cooking process was about the same. I actually only needed to cook about 6 minutes on each side for them to get done. I still brushed the sauce on at the beginning, and also after about 3 minutes. The fancy pan with holes in it took twice as long to cook, but there was twice as much meat, and the actual cooking surface is smaller... But enough about the pan with no holes, this is a blog about KABOBS...

And here is a lovely shot showing the curved kabob sticks on the grill. Another negative about the curved sticks, they take up a lot of room on the grill. If I was just cooking 4, all fits fine. If I was cooking more, I would have to do two cooking sessions. So, in order to serve everything warm, next time I use these, it would just be for me, my wife, the Pope, his date. No guests I could invite nor entourage for His Holiness, which would really piss off my priest. There would be hell to pay next confession (wait, there is always hell to pay at confession, that;s the point... But I digress)

These cooked up nicely. the biggest difference between cooking on the grill and under the broiler is that beautiful charred look that grilling gets, and that extra charred taste. That does not mean I like them burnt,, but a small amount (like in this photo) does add to the taste. Cooking over fire is best to get that, but I guess I could have done the last minute under the broiler at the highest setting for the grate and gotten the same effect. But, again, my comfort zone is on the grill, and I know when to remove them for that perfect in between taste without burning. I would have to keep a much more close an eye under the broiler.

So, here is the final project. I served one of each, and honestly, if not for the extra charring, I could not really taste the difference. The sweetness of the applesauce, combined VERY well with the extra POP of the chipotle spice. It was a nice compromise sauce that my wife (who does not care for HOT spices) and my own tastes (which lean more towards POP, POP, and a half more POP).

I can now confidently say that with a little extra thought and effort, any of the recipes I have given on this blog will work very well in your oven. I think you lose a little of the thrill of cooking over fire, but you gain back the hair on your arms.

So, in general, any of you non grill owners want to take up the challenge of cooking one of my recipes in your oven? I would love to hear about it. If you would like some individual advice about how to adapt something, let me know, happy to help.

And Thanks again to Mom's Cafe for the recipe idea, and I am sorry to Crazy Asian Gal. If the experiment had failed, I would have Paypalled a thousand dollars to you so you could set up your own all important grilling station...

really, I would have...



Have you ever been lied to by a man, of course not me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Recipe #18 - Sides - Grilled Garlic Blue Cheese Polenta

Greetings! This is a recipe I have done dozens of times. Polenta is a terrific side dish. In and of itself, has very little flavor, but it accepts flavor really well. Almost anything can be added. I have used several different cheeses, I have combined it with leftover rib, brisket or pulled pork meat (adding BBQ sauce on top, makes it really POP).

But, for this night (this was my starch for Herme's Birthday dinner Click HERE to see the entire menu). I was going to use Blue cheese to make a sauce for the meat, so, being cheap is the true mother of invention, I wanted to use up some terrific Stilton Blue Cheese I had bought. So, that was the inspiration for the dish, here's the specifics...

As you can see above, I had a 9 X 13 dish, i coated it well with some spray canola oil. I took my hunk of cheese, and crumbled up just 2 ounces. The Stilton is a very powerful cheese. It is overpowering if used too heavy. When I made the cheese sauce, I did use too much, and no one enjoyed the sauce. But, this was a huge success...

OK, crumble the cheese up and evenly distribute around the bottom. And, yes, I am spending a year on the grill, and this can easily be done on a grill. Polenta is best served fresh, but can be made several hours in advance without losing any of it's taste...

Here's the recipe for a basic polenta...
1 quart whole milk (recipe does not work well with 2%, use whole only)
1 stick butter
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 and 1/2 cups of corn meal
4 cloves of minced garlic
2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Combine the milk, butter, salt and sugar in a skillet, and bring to slow boil.

Once the soup is boiling, slowly add the corn meal. Stir constantly to get all the lumps out. I add the corn meal just 1/3 cup at a time, and do not add more until all the lumps are gone. Once all the corn meal is in, continue to cook until it forms up to the consistency of soft play dough. Carefully add to the casserole dish with the blue cheese. You have to add without sliding it around in order to keep the cheese evenly distributed. It does not pour (too thick), so this is the hard part of the recipe.

Once it is spread evenly, sprinkle the garlic evenly across the top.

Needs no refrigeration, it is ready...just that easy. this could easily be served as is.


Add some PANACHE to the dish. I use cookie cutters and cut out 8 circles. Just prior to serving, place on a hot grill (top side down, so the bottom with the blue cheese is top side up), turned to medium high heat. It takes about 4 minutes to get terrific grill marks, and get the top (the blue cheese) to heat up. Flip onto a serving plate, without grilling the side with the cheese (just grill one side). Final touch is to sprinkle with the paprika...

Very easy, spectacular looking and great tasting give it a try!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Recipe #17 - Main Course - Marinated Red Wine Teriyaki Whole Beef Tenderloin

Greetings, and today is a big day in my blogging life... Today's blog is my 50th blog since I started. I am amazed how much I enjoy the experience. It is everything I had hoped. I feel challenged every time I open my grill (one of my goals), my backyard has become a focal point for the neighborhood (another one of my goals), and I am certainly a better, more experienced griller than I was when I started (my main goal in starting this blog!). Anyone who has linked or bookmarked me, or just stops by on occasion... Thank you so much. I am starting to feel a part of the community. Anyone who just drops by on rare occasions, go ahead and link me up. I will be around for awhile. I have a back log of topics and recipes, and several ideas and plans for the future.

I added a contact email over to the right of this column. I am going to ask a favor...

The beloved MRS. Year on the Grill and I are going to be taking a very brief 3 day vacation the weekend after Labor Day. I would love to have 3 guest bloggers write something about their grilling memories, best recipes, family stories or entertaining ramblings about outdoor entertainment. Success stories, or disasters we can learn from; anyone have an idea, and would be willing to share? Drop me an email at For the final 1/3 of my now legendary Whole Beef Tenderloin I have been blogging about recently... If you have not been following along, see these posts for the set up for making this dish...

7 Steps for Party Prep Plans to a successful night at the Grill

Party #3 - Happy Birthday Herme

Steven Raichlen Herb Crusted Grilled Beef Tenderloin

For this third of the Tenderloin, I decided I wanted a marinade. I was planning to serve a red wine with dinner, so I popped the cork on the first bottle a little early.

1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup Teriyaki Sauce
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon ground Ginger
1 tablespoon Chipotle powder

I mixed up these ingredients to form the marinade and put it in a plastic ziplock bag. Prior to adding the meat, a put a generous coating of sea salt and ground pepper on the meat.

Seal the meat up and try to get as much of the air out as possible.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Rotate the meat at the half way point, in order to get all sides as much of the marinade evenly distributed as possible.

Grill same as the other directions, Grilling a tenderloin is very easy, just grill over direct medium high heat. Grill all 4 sides for about 7 minutes each. After a total cooking time of about 30 minutes (divided evenly among the 4 sides), check the internal temperature. The thickest part of the meat should reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees for medium rare. If you want it done a little more, 145 for medium, and 150 for medium well.

BUT,,,Something I discovered... The wet marinade made heating to temperature a little faster than the dry rub allows. In the photo above, the darker piece of meat on the right is the marinaded hunk (this recipe). The smaller one on the left was the Steven Raichlen Herb Crusted Grilled Beef Tenderloin dry rubbed hunk of beef. I grilled exactly the same, and checked the temperatures at the same time. Even though the marinaded piece was slightly thicker (again, compare in the photo), there was a 5 degree difference in internal temperatures. I checked several spots, and it definitely cooked faster.

Once it has reached the desired temp (actually, slightly above what I wanted, 140 is perfect, this reach 145), wrap tightly in tinfoil, and allow it to sit and rest in a cooler (no ice) for 2-4 hours. It will retain plenty of heat, and even continue to cook for a bit, increasing the internal temp by another 5 degrees, to a medium , 150 degrees.

But, it worked out well. Of all three of the different ways I fixed the tenderloin, this was a VERY happy median between the spicy Horseradish Mustard sauce (not everyone's cup of tea due to the heat), and the, well frankly, bland tasting Herb crusted tenderloin. This had LOTS of flavor, very juicy and tasted great. If I were only making one type of tenderloin, I would certainly choose this recipe. Something in it for anyone to like, and nothing in it for anyone to avoid. A very good compromise recipe for those who love heat and those who prefer their meat filled with flavor, but without that extra lingering heat.

In conclusion, the great whole tenderloin experience was very satisfying. I wanted to try new things, go off the safe comfort zone of cooking, and offer my guests options (as well as fix something for me)... The size of the project allowed me to do a little of everything. the cooking details in Steven's amazing grill guide, HOW TO GRILL. made the experience very easy. I really loved the experience, and highly recommend you giving this a shot anytime you are cooking for several people. Easily feeds 10-12 people, and Labor Day is coming. Give it a try, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a comment. I would be happy to offer more advice if this is out of your comfort zone, but want to give it a try.