Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grillin' Beans Cookout

This coming weekend, grills will be firing up for cookouts across the United States.  To use a baseball analogy, it's the unofficial opening of “grilling season” and Bush's Beans is throwing the “opening pitch” of the season.  Bush's Beans is sponsoring 9 food bloggers plus myself to have cookouts that include one of their Grillin' Beans flavors.   So this is a sponsored post [standard disclaimer] but I have always used Bush’s Beans because that’s what my mom used.

I was teamed up with their Bourbon and Brown Sugar Grillin' Beans.   

Bourbon is flavored by aging in charred oak wood barrels and the brown sugar is sweet.  Smoky and sweet – I can do that. Let's cook!

Cookouts are about the Five F's:  Food, Fire, Family, Friends, and Fun. 

Family & Friends
Cookouts are about more than just the food.  Cookouts are a social event, gathering around a fire, sharing food, and just enjoying each other’s company.  I think cookouts appeal to the primal side in us, with the idea of the tribe eating their game around a fire.  The “tribe” at our cookout was my immediate family, three of Brett’s friends, and one of our neighbors.

Whether at the beach, the park or your own backyard, cookouts typically have some form of physical activity.   Games like horseshoes, volleyball, badminton, or cornhole are common.  Some of us just tossed the football around in the back yard.

Didn't say we were good at it.

I kid around a lot and tease people about grilling with gas.  It’s all just good natured ribbing (BBQ pun, I like it).   I prefer coal and wood but I understand why some people choose gas grills.   I don’t care what you grill on, just get out there and grill something.

Grillin' Beans in Alexis' Egg behind me, the steaks are going in my Egg.

Back to sweet and smoky.

I put the sweet and smoky Bourbon and Brown Sugar Grillin’ Beans in Alexis’ Big Green Egg set up for indirect heat at 350f for about 30 minutes.   The great thing about this whole line of Grillin’ Beans (and I had eaten all 6 varieties before Bush’s Beans ever contacted me) is that they don’t need any add-ins or “doctoring”. 

I had a pair of nice flank steaks so I came up with a smoky and sweet marinade.  First, take one half cup of liquid smoke and add a cup of sugar.....nah, I'm just kidding.  Here it is.

Sweet and Smoky Grilled Flank Steak
Servings:  4

1 flank steak
1 medium shallot, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 tsp thyme, fresh
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup bourbon
¼ cup Agave nectar (you could substitute honey, brown sugar or a mix of both)
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper, coarse ground
½ - 1 tsp red pepper flakes

Mix the marinade together.

Score the flank steak (See my video on how to score meat).  This will open up the steak surface area to accept more flavor and I think it adds to the texture once grilled.  Marinate the meat in a zip top bag for 4 to 6 hours.

Remove the steak from the marinade, oil your grill grates and grill over a PREHEATED 450f fire for a total of 8 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 125-130f for medium rare.  Flip the steak every 2 minutes and rotate it by 90 degrees to get cross hatch marks. 

Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing razor thin across the grain.   

Okay, so anyone can make a steak “smoky and sweet” but how do you do that to a salad?  Like this!  The bacon vinaigrette gives it a smoky edge and the honey sweetens the deal.

Grilled Romaine with Warm Honey Bacon Vinaigrette
Servings:  4

2 heads Romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and cut in half
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp local honey
2 Tbsp coarse grain mustard
1 shallot, very finely diced
1 clove garlic, very finely diced
1 Tbsp parsley, very finely diced
Salt and pepper (to taste)
6 slices bacon, sliced into ¼” strips
3 Tbsp bacon grease

Mix the vinegar, honey, mustard, shallot, garlic, and parsley in a bowl.  Slowly pour in the oil while whisking briskly.   Set aside.

Crisp the bacon strips in a pan over medium high heat.  Be careful to keep the pan from getting too hot, you don’t want burned bacon flavoring your vinaigrette.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. 

Add three tablespoons of the warm bacon grease into the vinaigrette.  Now taste it and season with salt and pepper.  I added a big pinch of salt and maybe a ¼  tsp of pepper. 

Preheat your grill to 350f.   Make sure your grill grates are cleaned and lightly oiled.  Grill the lettuce cut side down just until some dark char starts to form in a few spots.  This should only be 30 – 60 seconds.  Repeat on the other side.

Warm the dressing on the grill but don’t let it simmer. 

Serve topped with the crumbled bacon and the warm dressing.

Add some Texas toast and we were ready to go!

The Results

That plate might look haphazard but it is actually strategic.  I have the toast pushed right up against the beans for some taste “soppin’ action”.  The steak too, since I wanted some of the bean sauce to get on it also.  The sauce from the beans is really that good, you don't want any to go to waste.

Everything was delicious on its own but they also went together very well.  Nothing survived.  Three pounds of flank steak, the salad, a loaf of grilled Texas toast and 66 ounces of Grillin’ Beans were devoured.   That's supposed to be enough beans for 15 people and the 8 of us ate it all!

It was a great cookout and we want to thank the folks at Bush’s Beans for providing this opportunity and my May BBQ Giveaway CLICK HERE TO ENTER (Still TIME TO ENTER through Saturday night).  

I also want to thank Bush’s Beans for all the jobs that they provide in the Knoxville area and for supporting local events like last weekend’s Bloomin’ Barbecue & Bluegrass Festival.  I’m proud to be affiliated with such a company.