Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Grilled Orange Beef with Broccoli Stir Fire

Let's be honest.  Spring is a tease.

After some glorious weather a week ago, it seems that fickle Spring smacked us with cold, wet, and dreary.  Want to show nature who is boss?  Want to shake off the winter blahs?  Then drag out your grill, fire it up and do something different! And oh yeah.....bring your wok.

Many people don't think about using a work on the grill but actually it's an ideal match.   Traditionally woks were used over a pit stove with live fire.  A charcoal grill generates the high heat that woks crave.  A flat bottomed wok will work on just about any large grill.   You can use a round bottom wok too, if you have a "spider rig" or if you have a mounting base for it.  The things I like about using a wok on the grill, or as I call it, "Stir Firing", are:
  1. It is a fast dinner option.  Most dishes on the wok take only a few minutes of prep and cooking.
  2. It is a healthier option.  (less oil, more veggies)
  3. It is just fun!
So break out of the same ol', same ol' and try using your wok on your grill.  That is what I did tonight, I made a Grilled Orange Beef w/ Broccoli Stir Fire (aka stir fry).  The steak by itself was pretty damn good but the rest of this dish is good too.

Grilled Orange Beef with Broccoli Stir Fire

1 ea flank steak

1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 ea green onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp ginger, fresh ground
1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 ea shallot, diced
1 head broccoli, cut into 1" pieces
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks (about 2 Tbsp of fresh ginger)
1 Tbsp orange peel, fresh grated
1/2 cup orange juice
2 Tbsp dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the steak for 3-4 hours.

Set up the grill for direct heat at 400-450f.  Grill the steak for 3 minutes per side (4 minutes per side if skipping the stir fire part).

Remove to a raised rack and let rest.  Since you will now be working with the grill top open, you will want to cut your lower air intake vents down to almost closed to keep your fire from burning out of control hot.

Place a wok on the grill and preheat.  This should only take about 1 minute.  Add the oil and when it begins to shimmer add the shallot.  Simmer for 30-45 seconds.  Add the broccoli (still wet from rinsing) and stir fry for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, cover and steam for 4-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the flank steak across the grain.  It is so hard NOT to just eat it all at this point.  But I did have to do some "quality control tasting.....errr....testing" of course. 

Remove broccoli.  Add the oils and when hot, add the ginger and orange peel.  Stir fry for 1 minute.  Add the OJ, sherry, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and stir.  Allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Stir together the water and cornstarch and add to the sauce* to thicken.

Return the broccoli and beef to the wok and toss them to coat with the sauce.

Remove and serve immediately with rice.

The beef and broccoli was good.  It disappeared quickly, with my 11 year old having seconds.  But the sauce seemed awfully thin, it just didn't coat like my usual stir fry does.   After dinner I was cleaning up my out door kitchen, gathering things to be washed and there on the table was my unused bowl with the cornstarch slurry in it.........DOH!  Mystery solved.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Kingsford University: Manhattan Fillet 101

Quick!  Off the top of your head give me three words that describe a perfect steak.

Chances are two of the words were thick and juicy, right?

The problem is that if you cut a NY Strip steak to 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, you end up with over a pound of steak and that is just too much to eat for most people.  I learned just the trick for that at Kingsford University - The Manhattan Fillet.

Snake River Farms' Executive Chef, Alan Turner, gave a demonstration on working with cuts of beef.  One of the new cuts was breaking down an American Waygu beef strip loin into the Manhattan fillet instead of strip steaks.  The resulting cut yields 10 oz fillet and a 6 oz petite fillet.  This gives you the thickness you crave AND the portion size that you want, while saving money too. 
Chef Turner shows the Manhattan Fillet at Kingsford U

I brought my Flip video camera but had left it back at the hotel room.  Still kicking myself over that one.  So as he talked, I scribbled notes furiously.

The notebooks they gave us came in handy!

Last night I applied the lessons learned  when Alexis brought home a 10 lb strip loin.  It was packaged as USDA Choice and certified Angus but it was more like Select to me.

Like Darth Vader said to Admiral Motti  "I find your lack of marbling disturbing."
See the difference that their American Waygu beef makes? 

First order of business is to find the "good end" of the loin.  Just like the "first cut" from a whole ribeye, a strip loin has a better part for steaks.  One end of the strip loin is what Turner called the "nerve end" and that has a bit of connective tissue.  You can see the grain of meat change there and you can feel it.  If you look at my drawing in the notes, that circular area is the nerve end.  Cut that off and use it for steak sandwiches or a small roast.  

Then, using a very sharp knife, slice the "tail" off of the strip loin and save.

Slice off the top strap and save.

Trim off the excess fat and silverskin.  Save the fat.

At this point, Chef Turner sliced the loin lengthwise.  I went the route of cutting the thick Strip steaks first.

Then I broke them down into the two fillets each.  

Because of how I cut them, my fillet were 8-10 oz fillet instead of the two sizes Chef Turner does.

I ended up with twelve fillets, worth the $60 cost alone.  But I also had a 2lb roast leftover.  I picked the lean meat from the tail and top strap to make a few beef kabobs for the boys.  Last but not least, I rendered some of the fat to produce a cup of tallow.  


Did I do it expertly and perfectly?  No, but I did fairly well and I learned along the way.  Next time I'll feel more confident in my knife work, I find tentative cutting leads to bad butchery.  You have to move purposefully and at speed, but that only comes with practice. 

Chef Turner showing off his bisected strip loin before portioning into fillets.

We ate a few last night and then vacuum sealed most of ours in packs of two for freezing and grilling later.  If you are having a steak cook out with a bunch of friends, this would be THE way to go.  For other ideas about grilling for parties, don't forget to check out

Speaking of grilling get togethers......

Blogger Get Together
Last year, a handful of Smoky Mountains area bloggers got together at Larry Doolittle's (Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings) lakeside retreat for lunch, socializing, and fun on the water.  It was so much fun that we've decided to do it again!!!!   The theme is going to be Texas BBQ.  More details are forthcoming. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March Giveaway: The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

You know those nights when you got home late from work, you are tired and you aren't up to making a huge dinner but you won't want to settle for boring?   Then flipping through Susan Russo's The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches will be spark ideas and take you from "blah" to "kick butt food between bread" in just a few minutes.

Tonight was one of those nights for us.  I spent just a minute browsing and found the "Chow Mein Sandwich".  It sounded crazy, looked delicious and I had all of the ingredients on hand.  According to the book this is a South Massachusetts favorite.  I can see why!  

Matt's picture makes mine above look like crap, but it still tasted great!

Chow Mein Sandwich
slightly adapted from

2 yellow onions, cut into small wedges
1 stalks celery, thinly sliced using the whole stalk and leaves
2 leaves napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup bean sprouts
4 cups chicken broth (divided)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbsp Kitchen Bouquet
1 tsp Sriracha sauce
1 tsp red pepper flake
1 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
4 hoagie rolls
16 oz Chow Mein crispy egg noodles

Place veggies in a 3 quart pan preheated to medium high heat and dry stir fry (no oil) for 1 minute.  

Whisk together the cornstarch and 1 cup of the chicken broth.  Pour over the veggies and toss for another minute.

Add the remaining chicken broth, beef broth, Kitchen Bouquet, sriracha, and red pepper flake.  Bring to a boil and them simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.  

Split rolls, top with crispy noodles and ladle the sauce over them.

When I first sat down to go through the book, my expectations ranged from "been there done that" to "who the hell has shaved Himalayan yak ham in their fridge?".  But I was very pleasantly surprised.  The book is a winner.   
Yes, we still actually own an encyclopedia set.
True to it's name, it is an A-Z encyclopedia of classic, regional, and unusual sandwiches.  Each "entry" includes history & trivia about the sandwich, the recipe itself, and suggested variations.   The author, Susan Russo, writes for NPR's Kitchen Window and runs the food blog, Food Blogga.  Matt Armendariz of MattBites rocked out the photos in the book.  
The recipes themselves are not intimidating but at they same time, they are creative and fun.  That's because Susan uses a lot of ingredients that you will probably have on hand.  I could see this being one of those books that you always turn to when you need a quick idea for something tantalizing, different, but easy too. 

Because of the history and trivia presented with each sandwich, I often found myself thinking "Wow, I didn't know that".  Susan keeps even the standard sandwiches interesting by offering possible additions that make one say, "Huh, that's a neat twist". 

I almost wanted to take issue with pulled pork done in an oven, but at least she didn't kill it in a crock pot with a gallon of bbq sauce poured on top and I know not everyone has two Big Green Eggs and another smoker like me ;)  So I'll let that slide ha ha.

And this is a small thing, but it is a paperback with one of those hinged spines that let's it stay open when you put it down open.  Don't you HATE using a cookbook that every time you turn back to reference it, has either closed or changed pages on you????

Hold on.  I think I am talking myself out of this giveaway.  Never mind people, this book is awful.  You don't want it.  I'm keeping it for myself!  Nah, just kidding.  I am still giving it away but I'll buy myself a copy.

How To Enter
Each person can receive up to a total of 3 entries as follows:
  1. leave a comment below telling me your all time favorite sandwich. (NOTE: If you use the "anonymous comment" option, be sure to leave an email or your screen name in the comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. Something like "EggerinFL from the Egg Forum" or "swibirun from the BBQ Brethren forum" is enough.)
  2. Do a Twitter or Facebook post linking to this giveaway post and then leave a separate comment below with the URL of your Facebook post or for Twitter use the slash tag #foodblogga so I can find it. 
  3. Mention this giveaway and link to it in a post on your blog. Then leave a separate comment below with the URL of your post.
The Rules
  1. Giveaway entry period begins Friday, 12:01am March 24, 2011 and ends Thursday, 11:59am, March 31, 2011. Drawing will be held Friday, April 1st (no april fools), 2011 at 7pm (All times are Eastern Time zone).
  2. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  3. Limited to residents of the continental US unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  4. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  5. Quirk Publishing is sponsoring the prize. They are not responsible for the drawing or the giveaway.
  6. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
  7. Employees, Board Members, pets, indentured servants, and family of Nibble Me This are not eligible to enter. 
If you don't win, don't worry.  The book goes on sale April 5, 2011.   I know I will buy one.

    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Grilled Potatoes

    You've heard me say before that a good steak doesn't need much besides salt, pepper, and flame.

    Bad steaks on the other hand require every trick in the book.  Salting, marinades, crazy rubs, finishing sauces, you name it.    Life is too short to waste time on bad beef.

    I guess I've been spoiled lately.  We usually only buy USDA Choice grade at our house.  But at Kingsford University, I had flat iron, fillet, strip, & brisket from Snake River Farms.  Their products actually exceed USDA Prime category, more on that to come.  Then there was the Prime strip at Shula's last week.  I have been living in Beef Nirvana.  Then at SOMEONE in our house brought home some USDA Select grade ribeyes that were on sale this week.  They had no marbling.  And they were only 1" thick.  I wept. 

    One of my best tips for dealing with crappy steaks (other than don't buy it)?  Misdirection.  Draw attention away from that beef in a "pay no attention to that man behind the curtain" way with great side dishes like these awesome grilled potatoes.

    I adapted the basic process from this recipe at America's Test Kitchen and then changed it around to meet my tastes and ingredients on hand.

    Grilled Potatoes

    8-10 ea red bliss potatoes, halved
    4-5 bamboo skewers
    1/2 cup herb infused oil (see instructions for ideas)
    kosher salt to taste
    1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
    1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese, grated

    Infused Oil
    Their recipe had a process for making your own rosemary/garlic oil but then they have you strain the solids out.  I WANT the herbs and garlic roasted onto my potatoes, don't you?  Anyway, I was going to make my own oil when I found this in my cupboard.  

    It was a gift from a neighbor at Christmas and thought I'd try it out.  I mixed it up according to directions and then added 1 Tbsp finely diced roasted red pepper and 2 Tbsp of the parsley.  

    If you need to make your own oil, just simmer your choice of minced garlic, shallot, and herbs in a 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium/low heat until fragrant. Then add in some color and texture with finely diced parsley and red peppers.  Have fun with the combinations, this is your chance to make it YOUR dish. 

    Par-cook Potatoes
    Skewer the potato halves and poke each several times with a fork or skewer.  Brush with 2 Tbsp of the oil mixture and season liberally with kosher salt.  Microwave for 4 minutes, flip, and then microwave another 3 minutes.  What?  YES, I have a microwave.  Just because I grill all the time doesn't mean I'm a cave man. 

    Grill Potatoes
    Fire up the charcoal grill to 350-375f.  Brush 1/4 cup of the oil on the potatoes.  Grill cut side down until grill marks appear or the sides begin to brown (4-7 minutes depending on your grill's temps and hot spots).

    Flip and grill another 7-10 minutes skin side down.  They are done when a sharp knife tip easily penetrates the sides.

    Top with the grated cheese as soon as they come off the grill.  The results were a hit with us.  

    In fact we made them twice in two days.   Last night, I served them with the ribeye and grilled zucchini.  (See?  I'm so ashamed of that crappy piece of steak that I hid it with a short depth of field and veggies!)

    Just before going to bed last night, Alexis was talking about the potatoes wistfully and mentioned how good they would have been coarsely crushed into mashed potatoes.    How do you ignore that comment?  So today we did just that and topped them with mornay sauce made from the last of the Edam cheese I smoked over the winter.  Popped it under the broiler for about 5 minutes and voila!  

    That was lunch today.  Just the potatoes.  And by "just" I mean, "Holy bleep, this tastes so friggin' good!"  Excuse my harsh language.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Quick Grilled Buffalo Chicken Wrap

    Spring starts Sunday night at 7:21pm EDT but it sure feels like Spring today!  The trees are blooming, the male birds are trying out their best pick up lines ("Hey chickie, you know what they say about the size of a bird's beak?"), and even my neighbors are breaking out their dormant grills.

    TIP:  If your grill has been neglected all winter, Clint wrote a good article about how to tune up your grill for action.

    I had a couple of chicken breasts and wanted a quick lunch.  How about a grilled buffalo chicken wrap?

    This really isn't a recipe, it's just a quick and easy lunch.

    I gave the chicken breasts a fast 30 minute bath in KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade.  It is one of the sauces they gave us at Kingsford University.  WARNING:  Do NOT attempt to marinate a buffalo with this sauce.  It only makes them angry.  

    I set up the Big Green Egg for direct heat at 350f.  To add a little smokiness I toss in a handful of cherry wood chips into the coals just as I put the breasts on the grate.  

    I grilled them for about 5-7 minutes per side, until they hit 160f in the thicker part of the breasts.  TIP:  Breasts come in all shapes and sizes so they will cook differently.  I check each one, not just one.  For example, today the first one was done 4 minutes before the last one.   

    TIP:  When grilling chicken breast, arrange them so the thinner end is further from the hotter spots of the grill.

    I grilled some flour tortillas and then it was just a matter of assembling the wraps.

    First a handful of rinsed baby spinach leaves, thin sliced red onion, and blue cheese dressing...

    ...then the sliced grilled chicken and an extra squirt of the Buffalo marinade.  (Look, if they can claim it is a marinade for buffaloes then I can use it as a sauce instead of a marinade, right?)

    Just about perfect for a sunny almost Spring Saturday afternoon.  Plus it was fast & easy.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Smoked Pastrami & The Blue Max

    It's St. Patrick's Day so we are supposed to be eating corned beef, drinking green beer, and pretending to be Irish even if we don't have an ounce of Celtic heritage in our DNA, right?  

    When I think of corned beef I can't help but remember European Street Cafe in Jacksonville, FL and their huge deli sandwiches.  Stacked with piles of meat and accompaniments, their double and triple decker sandwiches were as delicious as they were tall.  One of my favorites was the Blue Max, a variation of the Rueben.  It was piled high on rye bread with smoked pastrami, hot mustard, corned beef, melted swiss, sauerkraut, and blue cheese dressing. 
    "Only" a double decker...
    To make my own smoked pastrami, I used one of those standard corned beef brisket flats that you get at the supermarket.  You know the ones -

    To cut the salt content, I soaked it in a bin of water for half a day.  I kept it refrigerated and swapped out the water every 4 hours.

    Next I dried it off and heavily applied the dry rub:
    1 Tbsp kosher salt
    1 Tbsp espresso salt
    2 Tbsp paprika
    1 Tbsp corriander, ground
    1 1/2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
    1 1/2 Tbsp tri color peppercorns, crushed
    1 Tbsp mustard, ground
    1 tsp dried minced garlic

    I smoked it in the Big Green Egg using cherry wood and coal.  I went a little higher temp of 275f until it reached an internal temp of 165f.  You could do the same thing on your grill if you set it up for indirect cooking and add wood chips, chunks or "smoke bombs" (wood chips in foil packs). 
    Lining your drip pan with foil makes for easy clean up.

    Then I switched to direct heat, opened up the vents to increase the temperature and did a reverse sear to get a darker color.  It only took a few minutes per side to accomplish that.

    I put it in the fridge until I was ready to use it and then steamed it to warm back up.  This is a trick I picked up over at the BBQ Addicts.  They say it makes a more moist and tender pastrami like the NY delicatessens do.  I ended up steaming mine about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get it up to an internal temp of 190f. 

    Sliced nice and thin, it is hard not to eat it all right then and there.

    The Blue Max
    adapted from European Street Cafe
    3 slices rye bread
    4 oz smoked pastrami
    1 Tbsp sweet hot mustard
    2 oz corned beef
    2 slice swiss cheese
    1/4 cup sauerkraut
    1 Tbsp blue cheese dressing

    Top one slice of bread with the pastrami, one piece of cheese, and another piece of bread.  Heat with the cheese side down on a hot griddle for 2 minutes. You are trying to crisp what will be the center piece of bread and melt the cheese here.  Remove from griddle.

    Put back on a plate with the toasted piece of bread facing up.  Slather it with the sweet hot mustard.  Top with the corned beef, sauerkraut, blue cheese dressing, the other piece of cheese and the last piece of bread.

    Place on a hot griddle for two minutes.  Flip and toast the other side for 2 minutes.  You could use a flat top griddle inside, but tonight I used my griddle insert for my Craycort cast iron grill grate system.  I figured that the pastrami was cooked with live fire so the sandwich might as well be grilled that way!

    Quarter the sandwich and serve with chips.  Unhinge your jaw and eat it like a snake.
    One quarter was missing for uh....quality control, yeah, that's it.
    Now if only I had one of European Street Cafe's two hundred beer brands to wash it down!

    Speaking of brisket, here are a few tips for smoking brisket that I learned from Chris Lilly at Kingsford University this month.
    • He cooks competition briskets to a higher temp (200f) because he is only concerned about getting one part of the brisket to the right temp.  But when cooking for friends and family, he pulls 185-190f because it gets the whole brisket done better.
    • Chris doesn't separate the point for burnt ends until after the whole brisket rests for an hour after the initial cook.
    • Chris doesn't inject his brisket.
    • Three words:  Worchestershire sauce powder.  I have to find this stuff.  
    • Robyn of Grill Grrrl carries a thermapen in her purse.  A pink one.  
    And here is one of his recipes for barbecue beef brisket courtesy of Kingsford Charcoal and Chris Lilly.  

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 and Stuff
    I'm excited to announce the launch of, Kingsford Charcoal's new website.  It is THE place online to celebrate the grilling lifestyle.  Sure I'm keyed up about the recipes, demonstration videos, interactive content,  and barbecue competition news.  But what I am really proud of is that I am one of their VIP Bloggers and have been helping provide content.  Yeah, I know, they must have no standards at all, ha ha.

    So check out and check it out often this summer for ideas and inspiration for your backyard grill.

    Pork - Be Inspired
    Another newly launched site is, by the National Pork Board, to support their "Pork - Be Inspired" campaign.  I have spent some time this morning reviewing the site and it also has loads of recipes, video tips, and helpful information to help inspire your meals.  They even have a section of freebies!

    During some downtime at Kingsford University, I had a few minutes alone with Stephen Gerike, the Director of Food Service Marketing for the National Pork Board.  I told him that I had always liked "The Other White Meat" slogan and was disappointed to see it go.  Stephen assured me that they are not ditching that phrase and in fact are considering it their "heritage brand".  But while "the other white meat" has had a general awareness, it didn't really motivate consumers to take action.  The new focus is on giving consumers ideas and inspiration so they will be motivated to use more pork and in creative ways.  This site seems to stick with that mission.

    Dead End BBQ Cooking Classes
    Dead End BBQ has announced their 2011 cooking class schedule.  It looks like George and crew have put together another excellent line up.  You can sign up online later this week or directly at the restaurant.

    April 23 - George Ewart, competitive bbq team member and co-owner of Dead End BBQ, will share his tips and techniques for barbecue ribs.
    May 22 -  Mike Davis, multi-champion bbq competitor, returns this year to impart his vast knowledge of all things Q.    I took a class from him last year at Sevierville and walked away with a great deal of information.
    June 18 - Robyn Medlin-Lindars, grilling expert from, will conduct a LADIES ONLY grilling clinic. Robyn is also a contributor to Grilling.Com and a graduate of Kingsford University.  Ladies you don't want to miss this one.  Robyn will teach you the ins and outs of grilling on both charcoal and gas grills. 

    KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade
    OK, I can't finish this without a quick cook post.  This was one of the gifts in my SWAG box from Kingsford University.  I had my reservations because I have NEVER used a buffalo "marinade".  Hell, I was skeptical.  I always toss my wings in a buffalo sauce or other wing sauce in the last 10 minutes of fire roasting.  

    They served these at the Saturday dinner as an appetizer and they were quite good.  The next day I asked Ken Hess if they had done something special but he said they made them as directed.  So I marinated them as directed and fire roasted them with my normal method (30-20-10 @ 375f indirect).

    They were done just in time for the semi-final games of the basketball conferences.  Brett and I snacked on these while the Tarheels roared to a comeback against Clemson.  

    Then I seasoned a few chicken breasts with salt and pepper and grilled them at 350f for about 5 minutes a side.  Then I glazed them with some of the marinade and went another minute a side.

    I grilled a few pieces of bread and had some buffalo chicken sandwiches.

    Results:  I stand corrected, the wings were good after all despite my skepticism.  They aren't better than sriracha wings or piri piri wings but don't take as much effort or time so this marinade works on a weeknight.

    On that note, I gotta get out of here.  I have a pastrami to smoke tonight.