Monday, January 30, 2012

Grilled Pamplemousse Shrimp

You might be wondering what "pamplemousse" is if you didn't take French in school. I didn't tell my kids what it was either until they were done eating it and saying how great it tasted. 

Serve these appetizer style.....
Pamplemousse is French for grapefruit.  So why didn't I just say "grilled grapefruit shrimp"?
  1. First, you'd probably think "grapefruit and shrimp?" and click on to some cupcake recipe on another blog.  Let's face it, grapefruit doesn't get the love that limes, lemons, and orange do.  But it should.
  2. Second, pamplemousse has to be one of the funniest fruit names in another language, especially if you pronounce it incorrectly as pample-moose.  
  3. Third and most importantly, it reflects the new global focus of McCormick's 2012 Flavor Forecast.
Yes, McCormick's 2012 Flavor Forecast is in and the outlook is on the future of global flavor.   I recently attended an online session with the McCormick kitchens to learn firsthand about the trends and flavor pairings for the coming year. 

When Chef Vetter was talking about the trend of Flavorful Swaps, one of the flavor pairings was grapefruit and red pepper.
A new take on lemon pepper.   Grapefruit and red pepper deliver big flavor with purely wholesome ingredients.  With a range of bright offerings - juice, zest, pulp - grapefruit meets a similarly versatile match in the exciting assortment of red pepper forms and varieties.  An added bonus, this bold, sour-spicy duo also boasts promising metabolism-boosting benefits. [McCormick Flavor Forecast 2012]
One of the things Chef Vetter talked about was building multiple layers of some of the same flavors in different ways.  He also mentioned the phrase "wellness journey" and I scribbled a note "A wellness journey doesn't mean you have to wander from flavor".   Well this recipe keeps in line with both of those ideas.
Or serve it as a meal with rice noodles and kabobs.

Grilled Pamplemousse Shrimp
Servings:  12 appetizer portions or 4 dinner portions

  • 1.5 lbs shrimp, 26-30 count size, peeled and de-veined 
For the marinade
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice (juice about 1/2 grapefruit)
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 Tbsp McCormick Gourmet Collection Crystallized Ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp McCormick Gourmet Collection Crushed Red Pepper
For the dipping sauce
  • 1/2 cup sweet soy sauce*
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice
  • 2 Tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper paste
For the garnish
  • McCormick Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • fresh chopped cilantro
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Pour over the shrimp in a zip top bag and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.  
  2. Mix the dipping sauce ingredients together in a blender.
  3. Preheat a charcoal grill to 350f.  
  4. Remove shrimp from the marinade and place on skewers.
  5. Grill the shrimp 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Top with cilantro and sesame seeds and serve with the dipping sauce. 
  • Sweet soy sauce is completely different than regular soy sauce.  If you can't find it at your local store, the closest thing I can think of is a teriyaki sauce.
The dish rocked and every bit disappeared.  The dipping sauce was scrumptious and had the bright, light taste of citrus.  Alexis mentioned that the sauce would also be delicious with grilled scallops. 

My Favorite Flavorful swap - Swap oil/fat for coal - grilling avoids using extra oil for cooking.
Grapefruit never tasted so good!  The red pepper and citrus brought out the best in each other.
For more information about the 2012 Flavor Forecast and select recipes, check out McCormick's website.  I have another Flavor Forecast inspired dish coming up tomorrow!

[Standard Disclaimer]  I received compensation for promoting McCormick's 2012 Flavor Forecast but all opinions stated are my own.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Firebird Chicken aka The Chicken From Hell

Holy smokes, this was good chicken!

It was smoked with hickory and cherry wood then glazed with a spicy habanero citrus glaze that lights up your mouth with flavor.

I'd like to claim credit but this one comes straight from Chef Bryan Dooley.  Bryan grew up on his grandparent's horse farm in Illinois, helping to gather hickory wood for smoking and watching his grandmother make her family recipe for BBQ sauce.  After training at the Culinary Institute of America in NYC and 13 years of experience at the Fairmont Resort in Scottsdale, Bryan decided to open his own restaurant.  

The result was Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue in Cave Creek, Arizona (near Phoenix).  The place was designed with the feel of the "old cowboy west".  They smoke with pecan wood and serve the BBQ classics such as pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, and pork.  Their sides include things like olive slaw, baked potato salad, and "six pack" cowboy beans.  Bryan's even has vegetarian options like the "Romain Ribs" and a pulled squash sandwich.  Yes, pulled squash.  I read about it on a Phoenix food blog and they liked it.  

I might have a business trip to Phoenix this year and I definitely have Bryan's place on my itinerary when that happens.  In the mean time, I made Bryan's Firebird chicken at home.  (If you can't bring Mohammed to the mountain......)

Photo of Firebird Chicken at Bryan's Black Mountain BBQ by Lauren Gilger
My Firebird Chicken - Not as saucy and no fiery habanero rings.

Firebird Chicken (aka The Chicken From Hell)
Source:  slightly adapted from Bryan's Black Mountain Barbecue - Cave Creek, AZ

  • 2 chickens, split into halves*
  • 1 ounce BBQ rub*
For the Firebird sauce
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce
  • 3/4 cup honey (orange blossom if available)
  • zest from half an orange
  • juice from an orange 
  • 2 habanero chiles, seeded and finely diced*
  • 1/2 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced 
For garnish
  • 4 green onion, thinly sliced on a sharp bias
  • 2 habanero, thinly sliced into rings (Optional...probably not advisable) 
  • 8 slices Texas Toast
  1. Preheat your smoker or charcoal grill to 250f set up for indirect heat.  I used my Big Green Egg with 3 chunks of cherry wood and 2 chunks of hickory buried in coal.  Plate setter in legs up, drip pan on top.
  2. Season the bird halves with the rub.  Don't forget to season the backside (formerly it's "inside"), in fact, I season it extra heavy.  People aren't going to eat the rib cage anyway so you can't over season it and it helps impart flavor into the meat as it cooks. 
  3. Smoke the chickens skin side up for about 3-4 hours until they hit internal temps of 160-165f in the breast and 175f in the thigh. 
  4. Mix all of the sauce ingredients into a small sauce pan, bring to a simmer and then simmer for 10 minutes*.
  5. Glaze the chicken halves while they rest for 10 minutes*.  You have to let them rest.  They've been cooking for 3 hours and are tired!    
  6. Serve each half on two slices of bread*.  Garnish with green onion and habanero rings (if you dare).  Ladle remaining sauce over chicken.
  • We used 4.5 lb fryers (remember when fryers were 3.5 lbs?).   You can ask your butcher to cut them in half for you, but it's easy enough with a large sharp knife.  Also, I brined my chickens for 2 hours.
  • I used Albukirky Seasonings rub and sauce for this one, sticking with the Southwest theme.  (Kirk is a fellow Egger.)
  • We have a moderate heat tolerance and two chiles was just the right heat. If you like hotter, toss in another and/or don't deseed them.
  • Next time I might saute the ginger for a minute or two first.
  • Next time I would glaze the chicken while still in the cooker when the internal breast temps hit 150-155f.  
  • A "half chicken" is just way too big of a portion for us.  We do quarter chicken portions and I'm never left hungry.  I also skipped the Texas toast, mainly because we forgot to get some.
Hard to believe that just 5 ingredients can make such a powerful sauce.

It would also work on spatchcocked chickens but halves are what the recipe calls for.  Do whichever you  prefer.

Before the glaze - they smell so good already.

Liberally apply the sauce, don't forget to get up under the wings too.

Glazed and amazed....

We served ours with Robyn "GrillGrrrl" Lindars' Chipotle Cilantro Coleslaw and Texas Ranchero beans for an excellent meal.  The tender smoked chicken is emphasized, not covered up by the bold sauce, it's a nice balance.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fire Roasted Chili Lime Wings

Can you remember the first chicken wing you had?

I don't mean a fried chicken wing left over because it was the last piece from a Sunday fried chicken dinner or a bucket from KFC.  I am talking about a real wing.  A chicken wing cooked for the purpose of being a wing, not an "also ran".  Like buffalo wings or hot wings.  My first ones were at Stadium Club where my friend Carson worked as a cook. 

It is the Third Annual Week of Wings over at Hot Sauce Daily, a celebration of wings.  Brian and Marilyn will be grilling up wings, reviewing wing sauces, and checking out all things wing related. Hop over there and check their wing-centricity all week.  

Here is my tribute to Week of Wings.

Traditional "buffalo sauces" have hot sauce, butter, spices and an acid, such as vinegar and/or Worcestershire sauce.  For this one, I relied on the lime juice in the Cholula Chili Lime sauce as the acid.

Fire Roasted Chili Lime Wings
servings: 4

  • 12 chicken wings, cut into drummettes and wingettes, tips reserved for stock

For the dry rub
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
For the sauce
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1/4 cup lime flavored hot sauce*
  • 1/2 tsp of the dry rub
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 350-375f set up for indirect heat*.
  2. Season the 24 wing pieces with the dry rub (reserve 1/2 tsp of the rub for the sauce).
  3. Roast the wings on a covered grill for 30 minutes.
  4. Flip the wing pieces and roast for 20 minutes.  
  5. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat in a saute pan and saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining butter and dry rub, whisking continuously until well blended (another 2-3 minutes).  
  7. Once the wings have roasted a total of 50 minutes, remove them to a large bowl, pour the sauce over them, and toss to coat thoroughly.
  8. Roast the wings another 7-10 minutes, or until the sauce bakes on and the wings reach an internal temp of at least 170f.  
  • I used Cholula Chile Lime Hot Sauce. 
  • You can use your oven for this instead....if you insist.  Just remember, it doesn't taste as good and every time you use an oven instead of a grill, an angel loses it's wings.   Mmmmmmm fire roasted angel wings, heavenly! 

[Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation from Hot Sauce Daily for this post but Brian did threaten to boil ribs if I didn't post something wing related this week.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Grilled Portobello Tacos

I think I saved the best for last for Fungus Among Us week.

How do I know that?  Because it is obvious that my home is inhabited by "meat-a-tarians".  We love our meat. So tonight when I made these grilled portobello tacos I thought my picky meatasaurus kids wouldn't like them so I also made our standard beef tacos as a back up.  

Grilled Portobello Tacos, Big Green Egg portobello tacos, Grill Dome vegetarian tacos

To my amazement, after trying one, everyone opted for the portobello tacos over the beef ones.  Even me.  (Don't tell anyone....I don't want my BBQ Card revoked.)

The last topic of Fungus Among Us week is one easy tip.

Grow your own.

There are several advantages to growing your own mushrooms.
  1. Freshness.  You'll get the freshest mushrooms you have ever had.  If you think "store fresh" is good, farm fresh or growing your own will blow your mind.  They have a silky taste and a texture that dances in your mouth.  
  2. Exotic Variety.  You can get grow mushrooms that you'll NEVER EVER EVER find in your chain grocery store and probably not even local markets.  I've never seen a fresh oyster mushroom in a grocery store but a specialty like the blue oyster mushroom?  Fuhget about it!
  3. Micro-farming (or should I say myco-farming...pun fully intended).  There is a big trend towards self sourcing food ingredients.  Gardening, canning, and heck, sourcing your own eggs.  But growing takes land or at least space.  Mushroom kits can be done just about anywhere.
Mushrooms can be grown on inoculated logs or even more easily, in grow kits of sterile hay in bags like this one held by Hugh Brewer.
Photo courtesy of Brewers Mushrooms.
All you have to do is keep them moist and in a mild environment.  I'm absolutely no expert on growing mushrooms but Hugh is.  Check out Tammy and his website for more info, it has tutorials on how to grow your own.  If you still have questions, they'll be more than glad to answer any questions you have.  If you're close enough, they can ship you a "ready to grow" kit.

Grilled Portobello Tacos
Makes 6 tacos

  • 2 ea portobello mushrooms
  • 6 ea white corn tortillas 
  • oil for frying
  • shredded cheese of your choice
  • thinly sliced lettuce

For the marinade
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp Mega's Taco Seasoning (recipe from HotSauceDaily)

For the Pico De Gallo 
  • 3 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Mix the marinade ingredients and marinate the portobello mushrooms overnight*.
  2. Mix the pico de gallo ingredients and refrigerate for an hour before dinner.
  3. In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2" deep of peanut or vegetable oil to 350 degrees*.  
  4. Place a tortilla in and allow to puff up for 10 seconds.  Poke with the tip of a sharp knife.  Press half of the tortilla under the oil with a metal spatula and fold the other half over with a pair of metal tongs for 30 seconds.  Flip and repeat.  Remove when golden brown, season with salt and place on a rack over newspaper* or paper towels to drain.  Repeat for other tortillas.  
  5. Preheat a charcoal grill to 375f.  
  6. Remove the 'shrooms from the marinade and drain well.  Grill 5 minutes per side.
  7. Have the taco shells already loaded with shredded cheese*.  Dice the mushrooms into 1/4" pieces and divide among the tacos.  
  8. Top with lettuce and some of the pico de gallo.  
  9. Serve with Black Bean Fiesta and pico de gallo on the side.
  • I intended to do a 4 hour marination time.  Things happened and I cooked it the next night, worried the mushrooms might be over marinated.  Nope!  They were neither soggy nor "burned" from the marinade.  They were perfect!
  • This is NOT a tutorial.  If you don't know how to safely heat oil on a stove top, don't try this.  Go buy a cup of hot coffee from McD's and pour it on your lap but don't sue me.  
  • Do NOT use the online version of your newspaper for this purpose.  It will totally jack up your laptop, tablet, or smart phone.  I told you so, don't sue me.  
  • The mushrooms cool off pretty quick so you want the cheese already in there so the diced 'shrooms are still hot and give a little melty action.   
I switched to a Glad zip top bag when I realized this was going to go overnight.  Works better for flipping and keeping it in the marinade anyway.

grilled portobello tacos

This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local marketsCSA sharesgrow kits, and workshops.

Monday, January 23, 2012

National Pie Day

Taking a break in the Mushroom series for a quicky post..

Did you know today is National Pie Day?  Yep, sure is.  And you know I rarely do desserts but I know someone who does.

On behalf of Kingsford Charcoal, World Champion Pitmaster Chris Lilly has come up with some great recipes for coal-fired sweet and savory pies.   I've been fed by Chris three times, the most recent at 2011 Kingsford University, and every time I have been impressed.

I was going to make it myself this weekend but work and weather preempted that idea.  So I'll be lazy, use the "reprinted with permission" and just show you his! 

Photo courtesy of Kingsford Charcoal

Old-Fashioned Grilled Peach Pie
Pitmaster Note: In the South, mouths drool whenever fried pies are mentioned. Traditionally they are fried in a pan with butter until crisp and brown. To heat things up, I have taken the this traditional dessert to the backyard barbecue. By grilling the peaches prior to making the filling and then crisping the dough pocket over hot charcoal, you can make this Southern dessert a coal-fired masterpiece.
Makes: 8 pies
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

For the Dough
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flour for rolling out dough

For the Sugar Rub
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 pounds ripe peaches (3 large or 4 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil

  1. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and refrigerate. Measure the water and refrigerate. In a small mixing bowl add flour and salt and mix well. Add in the cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Slowly add water, mixing continuously, until a dough ball is formed. Seal the dough ball in GLAD® ClingWrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Sprinkle countertop or cutting board generously with flour. Remove dough from the refrigerator and place onto the floured prep area, roll out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into 5- to 6-inch diameter circles. Removing extra dough from the prep area to re-roll and make more pie shells. Immediately peal, lift and flip the dough circles making sure they don’t stick. Yield should be 8 pie shells.
  3. Preheat the grill using Kingsford® charcoal, until the internal temperature reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. In a small bowl add the sugar rub ingredients and mix well.
  5. Remove the pit from the peaches and cut each peach into 8 wedges and remove skin. Generously coat the peach wedges with the sugar rub mix. Immediately place the peaches on the grill grate for 2 minutes on each side, or until they caramelize. Remove the peaches from the grill and dice them into 1/2 inch pieces. Place the peaches and butter into a medium mixing bowl. When the butter melts, add the brown sugar and flour and mix well. Stir in orange juice.
  6. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of peach filling onto the center of each circle of dough. Lightly moisten the edges of the dough with water. Fold the dough in half creating a half moon with peach filling. Gently press the pie edges together and crimp them with a fork.
  7. Prep the charcoal grill grate by using a grill brush and to brush on a light coat of oil. Transfer the pies to the grill and cook over direct heat, uncovered, for 3 minutes on each side or until the dough turns a crispy golden brown. 
  8. Remove from the grill and serve.
  • Recipe created by world champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal
For more grilling ideas for "pies and otherwise", check out

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mushroom Swiss Burger

I tried to stay away from the totally obvious recipes this week for mushroom week but there is one I can't pass up.

The mushroom Swiss burger is a classic.  It's on menus, dinner plates and backyard grills everywhere.  

But first, it's mushroom week...

Today's topic is the care and handling of fresh mushrooms

Before I could understand how to care for harvested mushrooms, I had to learn about what happens to them once harvested.  What surprised me is that the mushroom is very much like meat when harvested.   At first, it's a lot like dry aging beef.  Enzymes react and start breaking down the mushroom into flavorful amino acids and the 'shrooms start to lose moisture, concentrating flavor.  

The problem is that occurs much faster than the long periods of dry aging beef, it happens in something more like 4 days (McGee 9489) instead of the month or more that beef needs.  After that, the process begins to shift from "aging" to "deterioration".  That is why buying fresh mushrooms from a local source is better than buying "fresh" mushrooms that you have no idea how long it took to get from farm to shelf. 

The good news is that you can slow that whole process with a two practices.
  • Keep it cool, fool.  Refrigeration at 40-45f slows the activity of the enzymes and will prolong the life of your mushrooms.  
  • Keep it dry, guy.  As mushrooms age, they will give up moisture.  While that does concentrate the flavors, moisture condensing on the surface of the mushrooms invite bacteria which begins spoilage.  If you buy one of those cellophane wrapped pack of mushrooms, take them out, and store them in a closed paper bag.  
Speaking of dry, that's another area of controversy.  I have read, heard, and been told a kajillion times NOT to wash mushrooms because they'll soak up all that water, be mushy, and bland.  So I was surprised to learn that it is fine to wash them in water as long as you use them immediately afterwards (FlavorBible 15282 and McGee 9490). 

Truth be told, I wasn't even going to post a recipe for this because it's just a burger.  Grill your burger, throw Swiss cheese on it and top with some sauteed mushrooms.

Grilled Mushroom Swiss Burger
Serves 4
  • 4 ciabatta rolls
  • 4 slices baby Swiss cheese 
For the burger patties
  • 1.25 lb ground chuck
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp whatever signature seasoning you want to add
For the mushrooms
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced 
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, finely minced
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill set up for direct heat to 450f.
  2. Mix the burger ingredients together and form into four 5 ounce patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  3. Grill patties for 4 minutes per side. Top with a slice of cheese during the last minute.
  4. Remove and keep warm.
  5. Place a skillet on the grill and melt the butter.  
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook 6 minutes, tossing frequently.  
  7. Add the garlic and parsley, cook two more minutes or until the mushroom liquids are mostly evaporated.
  8. Serve burgers topped with the 'shrooms.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Marinated Mushroom Antipasto Kabobs

For this recipe, you could buy a jar of marinated mushrooms from the grocery store....

Or you could buy mushrooms and make your own and they will taste infinitely better.

When you buy mushrooms, you not only have to decide what variety (porcini, shitake, etc) to purchase, you have to choose what kind to buy (fresh, dried, jarred).  So what kind is the best?  That's up to you.  Here are my thoughts on each.

Clockwise from left:  Dried porcini, dried wood ear, portobello,  dried oyster, shiitake, button, &  Green Giant.

Fresh Mushrooms
General:  Fresh is relative.  Store fresh is good but farm fresh from local producers is even better.  Days spent on trucks in shipping make a difference with fresh mushrooms.
Pros:  Better taste and texture, more nutrients,
Cons:  Highly perishable

Dried Mushrooms
General: "With a few exceptionas (chantrelles, oysters, matsutakes, drying intensifies mushroom flavor by a combination of heightened enzyme activities and browning reactions between amino acids and sugars." (McGee 9491)
Pros:  Easy storage,  easier to find exotic varieties, last for eternity, you can use the reconstituting liquid as a flavorful broth
Cons:  even when reconstituted, the texture isn't the same, relatively expensive compared to fresh by weight

Canned/Jarred Mushrooms
General:   If I do use them, I prefer to use ones in glass so you can at lease see what you are getting and you can store a partial jar. 
Pros:  Available long term
Cons:  precooked texture, lack of quality control in cheap brands, can seem slimy.  Probably are the reason that most people who hate mushrooms (cough - Jenn's Chris - cough) hate mushrooms.

Fire roasted mushrooms make these kabobs much more interesting to the palate. First, the lower temperature cooking (instead of sauteing or direct grilling) takes advantage of the mushrooms enzymes (McGee 9498).  Second, the subtle kiss of wood smoke brings out the earthiness of the 'shrooms.

Marinated Mushroom Antipasto Kabobs
Servings: 6 appetizer portions

  • 12 ea white mushrooms, wiped clean and stems removed
  • 6 slices hard salami, cut in half
  • 12 stuffed olives
  • 12 cubes of smoked gouda

For the marinade
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp roasted red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, fresh and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp stone ground mustard
  • 1.5 tsp Mediterranean Spice Sea Salt*
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 300f and set up for indirect cooking*.  You could also roast these in the oven.
  2. Mix the marinade ingredients together.
  3. Dip the mushrooms in the marinade to coat them.
  4. Toss a small handful of wood chips* on the coals and roast the mushrooms on the grill with the lid closed for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove mushrooms and return them to the marinade.  Allow to marinade for at least 4 hours.*
  6. Remove mushrooms from the marinade (reserve marinade) and assemble the kabobs on cocktail skewers.  
  7. Drizzle with some of the reserved marinade
  • Mediterranean Spiced Sea Salt is from the McCormick's Gourmet Collection.  Alexis bought a jar at Food City about a month ago and I've liked using it in several dishes.  You could substitute half kosher salt and half Italian seasoning.
  • Instead of the normal ways of indirect grilling (offset coals, plate setter, etc), I used a ceramic pie pan as a heat diffuser.  
  • Use a mild wood like alder wood or fruit woods.  Hickory and oak would probably be too harsh on mushrooms, overpowering them with smoke flavor.
  • If you were just making marinated mushrooms and not eating them immediately, once you have marinated them overnight, drain the marinade and pour in enough olive oil to cover the mushrooms.  I will keep them like this for up to a week or more on refrigeration.
Quick bath before fire roasting.

My "quickie indirect grill set up".  

They are done when they brown and start to shrink, 15-20 minutes at 300f should do.
This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local marketsCSA sharesgrow kits, and workshops.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms

"It tastes just like chicken."

You hear that a lot when someone is trying to describe something to someone who has never tried it.  It is such a worn out phrase that people make jokes about it.

But when Hugh Brewer of  Brewers Mushrooms dropped off the Lions Mane kit and told Alexis that these mushrooms taste like LOBSTER, I was intrigued.  A mushroom that tastes like lobster?  Now I just needed some ideas for what to make.

Mushroom Flavor Pairings
I've heard people say that mushrooms go with anything because they have a tendency to take on the flavors of what they are cooked with.  But mushrooms actually are a natural flavor enhancer.  According to Harold McGee, mushrooms contain many free amino acids including glutamic acid, making them a organic source of monosodium glutamate (McGee 9473).   The flavor enhancer Guanosine monophosphate was first discovered in shiitake mushrooms (McGee 9473).  So they don't just "take on" flavor, mushrooms amplify flavor.

Gourmet exotic mushrooms offer a world of flavor possibilities with hints of things like cinnamon, pepper, garlic, pine needles, butterscotch and in the case of Lions Mane, shellfish (McGee 9481). 

Here are some common flavor pairings for mushrooms as listed in The Flavor Bible.  John "Patio Daddio" Dawson recommended The Flavor Bible to me and it quickly became one of my most frequently used kitchen tools.  If you develop your own recipes, you want this book.  It was money well spent for me ($17 Kindle edition).   These are only partial listings from the book but give some good general ideas.

Mushrooms in general 
asparagus, bacon, beef, butter, carrots, cayenne, chicken, chives, cognac, chives, cream, garlic, ham, leeks, lemon, oil, onions, oregano, parsley, peas, pepper (black, white), pine nuts, pork, potatoes, radicchio, rice/risotto, rosemary, sage, salt, seafood, sesame oil, shallots, sherry (dry), sour cream, soy sauce, spinach, stocks, tarragon, thyme, vinegar (esp balsamic, red wine, sherry), wine

Chantrelle - same with emphasis on beef and chicken stocks
Cremini - same and goat and parmesan cheese, truffle oil,
Matsutake - savoy cabbage, black cod, custard, sashi, fish, chervil, Japanese cuisine, mirin, other wild mushrooms, sake, shrimp, tempura, tofu, rice wine vinegar
Morels - asparagus, caraway seeds, cheese (fontina, goat, parmesan), chicken mousse, heavy cream, eggs, faro, fava beans, fiddlehead ferns, Serrano ham, lamb, Madeira, thyme, sherry vinegar, ramps, sweetbreads
Porcini/Cepes/King Bolete - almonds, arugula, brandy, cheese (fontina, garrotxa, parmesan), chervil, roasted chicken, cream, eggs, hazelnuts, Italian cuisine in general, mint, button or cremini mushrooms, pasta, arborio ric, sake, tamari, white truffles, balsamic vinegar
Portobello - cheese (manchego, parmesan, ricotta), mint, pasta, polenta, spinach, thyme, sun dried tomatoes (I personally like with fire roasted chiles, cilantro)
Shiitake - bacon, basil, brandy, clarified butter, chile peppers, coriander, Japanese cuisine in general, oyster mushrooms, onions (esp red and white), polenta, pork, spinach, chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, dry white wine. (I like fresh ginger too, they didn't list it but it works)

Since Lions Mane has a shellfish flavor, I decided to make a mock "surf and turf".  One thing I had read was that to get the most out of the flavor enhancers and enzymes, it was best to cook mushrooms slowly (McGee 9498).  Hmmmm slow cooked "lobster".......I got it!  I was going to butter poach the mushrooms and pair them with slow roasted beef. 

Butter Poached Lions Mane Mushrooms
serves: 4

  • 1 Lions Mane mushroom*, cut into 1/4" slices
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8th tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8th tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh parsley, finely minced
  1. Place all of the poaching ingredients except the mushroom and parsley in a small pot and bring temperature to 160 f over med-low to low heat. 
  2. Add the mushroom and allow to poach for 30 minutes.  Add the parsley and poach another five minutes.
  3. Serve over grilled steaks.
  • I'm not sure how this would work with any mushroom other than lions mane since it has a unique shellfish flavor.  
  • The mushrooms should poach for at least 30 minutes to get tender but will hold just fine over low temps longer than that.  Our older son didn't get home until an hour after dinner and they were still great then.
Alexis declared that these were the best mushrooms she had ever eaten and the boys scraped the last leftover bits out of the pot.  The butter poaching does give them a luxurious texture that I have to admit, does have a shellfish taste and feel.  The best part was when you would get a chunk of buttery sweet garlic and mushroom together in one bite.  Delicious! I served them with a slow roasted top sirloin but I think the mushrooms would be even better served with a nice grilled strip steak or ribeye.
Lions Mane on the grow kit.  Odd looking things, right?

The flesh is thick, white, and meaty.
This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local markets, CSA shares, grow kits, and workshops.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Flat Iron Steak with Fun Guy Stir Fry

You know how Discovery Channel does "Shark Week" each year?  

I'm doing something similar.  Everything this week will be about know, mushrooms.  Don't worry, these mushrooms won't attack you but you might attack them!

Brief Culinary History of Mushrooms
Humans have been eating mushrooms ever since pizza was invented.  Okay, that might not be factual.
But we have been cultivating them since the Chinese were growing them in oak logs in the 13th century (McGee 9440).  If we were growing them then, we were probably eating them long before that.  Maybe lightning struck a dinosaur and while the cavemen were enjoying the overgrown lizard's unfortunate demise, they noticed some nearby fungi smoldering in the embers and how great they tasted together. The white mushrooms that you find in almost any grocery store produce department began to be cultivated in the 17th century in rock quarry tunnels near Paris (McGee 9440). 

To me, what is more important is the recent history.  When I first worked in a stupidmarket produce department in high school (circa paleolithic era aka "1985"), we had two kinds of mushrooms for sale.  
  • The white ones shrink wrapped in an 8 oz, blue styrofoam package and 
  • the reduced price ones that were the same packages but almost out of date and turning brown.  

These days most grocery stores stock fresh white, portobello, and shiitake mushrooms and other dried varieties.  With the farm to plate movement, many areas local purveyors of specialty mushrooms with unique textures and flavors.

Many folks like Larry of Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings have bought kits and are growing their own.   Places like local Brewer's Mushrooms will set you up and educate you to grow your own specialty mushrooms easily, at home and using no chemicals other than H2O.

I stumbled on Brewer's Mushrooms at a local market last year.  When they were making deliveries in town this week, Hugh dropped by an unexpected surprise of a variety of fresh mushrooms AND a lions mane grow kit!  That inspired Fungus Among Us Week.

I won the custom cutting board & a year of coal from a cooking contest with McCormick's last year.

This grilled steak combines the "fifth taste" of umami from the oyster mushrooms* with layers of ginger, garlic, basil and red chilies to create an Asian flavor profile that hits all notes of the taste buds.  The stir fry cooks during the steak's resting time, making it convenient for a quick but delicious dinner.

flat iron steak with mushrooms, grill dome steak recipe, big green egg steak, steak with mushroom stir fry,

Flat Iron Steak with Fun Guy Stir Fry
Serves 4

  • 1.5 lb flat iron steak
For the dry rub
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp basil, fresh minced
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp McCormick's Roasted Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp dried minced garlic
For the stir fry
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp peanut oil
  • 8 oz oyster mushrooms, fresh
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ginger, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbsp roasted red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Tbsp basil, fresh and cut chiffonade style
  • 1/4 cup beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • slurry (1 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp cold water mixed together)
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 450f set up for direct heat.
  2. Mix the dry rub together and season both sides of the steak.  (Alternatively, use a broiler)
  3. Grill the steak 5 minutes per side, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 130f for medium rare*.
  4. Remove steak and rest on a raised rack.  
  5. Reduce grill heat, place a wok or large saute pan on the grill and allow to preheat for a few minutes*.  (Alternatively, do on stove top)
  6. Drizzle the sesame and peanut oil into the hot wok.  Stir fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes until starting to turn tender and releasing their moisture*.  
  7. Add the garlic and ginger, stir fry another minute.
  8. Add the red bell pepper, stir fry another minute
  9. Add the basil, beef stock, mirin, soy sauce, and red pepper flake.  Stir fry another 1-2 minutes.
  10. Add the slurry and cook another minute or until the sauce is thickened.
  11. Slice the steak across the grain (short side) and serve family style with the mushroom stir fry over the top.
  • Oyster mushrooms have a natural umami flavor.  If you can't find oyster mushrooms, use another kind and add 3/4 tsp fish sauce to the mirin/soy sauce mixture.
  • For the Big Green Egg, I had the top DMFT totally open and after preheating, the bottom vent was about half way closed.
  • For the Big Green Egg, I closed the bottom vent all the way.  The fire was already going from the steak and stir frying requires you to have the Egg top open.  The coals will get plenty of air from the open top. 
  • I love the flavor of sesame oil but using it as the only oil is over powering.  Using a little sesame oil with a neutral flavored oil like peanut oil gives a balanced flavor.
flat iron steak, Craycort cast iron grate, grill dome steak recipe
The combination of coarse rub ingredients like garlic, pepper flake and basil add texture.
mushroom stir fry, big green egg stir fry
Fresh mushrooms "stir fired" over hot coals seem to cook quicker than stir fried on a stove. 
Saucy, rich, spicy, and mushroomy! 
flat iron steak with mushrooms, grill dome steak recipe, big green egg steak, steak with mushroom stir fry,
Served family style.  Trick - stuff the rice into a mini loaf pan and invert it.

This series was written in conjunction with Brewer's Mushrooms.  It is a joint project with a local expert and is not a paid advertisement.  Hugh Brewer is trained in mycorestoration and Brewer's Mushrooms has been specializing in fresh gourmet mushrooms for years.  Brewer's Mushrooms offers fresh mushrooms at local markets, CSA shares, grow kits, and workshops.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Easy Blackberry BBQ Sauce

One of the great things about pork tenderloins is that they usually come in packs of two.  This gives you the freedom to try them two different ways, either side by side or on two different nights.   
  • Cook two at the same time but use two different seasoning rubs.
  • Roast one and grill one.
  • Slice one up for stir fry strips and cut the other into pork medallions.
  • Use one for kabobs and use the other for pork pinwheels.  
I used one the other night for grilled pork tenderloin with cheese grits.  That one took a long time, mostly because of the time required for slow cooking real grits.

But the night I did this one I was short on time and took a lot of short cuts but the end result was still tender and rocked the taste buds.

grilled pork tenderloin blackberry bbq sauce, BGE pork recipe
Served with honey baked beans and brown rice.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Easy Blackberry BBQ Sauce
Serves 4

  • 1 ea pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
  • 2 1/2 tsp BBQ rub*

For the Easy Blackberry BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup blackberry preserves, SEEDLESS*
  • 3 oz BBQ sauce*
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 1/4 tsp BBQ rub
  1. Preheat charcoal grill to 350f (medium) to 400f (medium hot) set up for direct heat.  
  2. Season tenderloin with the BBQ rub and place on grill.  You are going to cook it until it hits an internal temp of about 140f.  This will take about 20 minutes, rotating 1/4 turn every 5 minutes, but go by temps, not time. 
  3. Meanwhile, mix the BBQ sauce ingredients in a blender or small food processor and combine with several pulses until well blended.
  4. Heat the BBQ sauce mixture in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. When the tenderloin hits an internal temp of 115-120 (about 15 minutes after you first put it on the grill), brush it with some of the bbq sauce on all sides.  
  6. Turn the pork every few minutes once you glaze it so the bbq sauce doesn't burn.  
  7. When the pork reaches an internal temp of 140f, pull from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Slice and serve drizzled with additional bbq sauce.  
  • I used Draper's All Purpose Rub, one I really like for it's general purpose use.  If you don't have a commercial bbq rub on hand, you could do a quick mix of 1/2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp season salt, 1/4 garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp brown sugar.
  • Trust me on the seedless blackberry preserves or jam.  The seeds will be gritty and ruin the texture of the sauce.
  • I used Draper's Smokin' Sauce.  You can use any bottled sauce but go for one that isn't so sweet because you are adding the sweet blackberry preserves to it.  You don't want candy, you want savory and sweet.
  • We usually have roasted garlic on hand.  If you don't, you could chop two cloves and saute 2 minutes in 1 Tbsp butter. 
Perhaps the one downside to pork tenderloin is it's odd shape.  It has a rather round end, a middle that can be flat, and a tail end that tapers off to nothingness.  That's an equation for uneven cooking when cooked whole.  
Who are you calling "irregularly shaped"?!?!  Have you seen a mirror lately, Pear Butt?
A quick remedy for that is tucking the tail under the thin end and tying the tenderloin like a roast.  That evens the flat part out by pulling in the sides and makes the skinny end as thick as the "thick" end.

tied pork tenderloin
I feel all tied up in knots.
Short cuts aren't so bad when you use quality brands.  
easy grilled pork tenderloin recipe, blackberry bbq sauce
It's been said a million times, but don't sauce your meat until the last few minutes.
Big Green Egg pork tenderloin with blackberry BBQ sauce
This was good with the sauce cooked onto it without any extra sauce.
Pork tenderloin blackberry bbq sauce
But a little extra never hurt anyone.
 [Standard Disclaimer]  In the strictest terms of the FTC disclosure requirements, I should tell you that I got those two tiny jars of Loveless Cafe's Blackberry Preserves at the Food Blog Forum conference in October.  They were in a goodie bag so they had no clue who was getting them.  I could have been a vagrant for all they know.  And Shane Draper did give me a Christmas present gift pack of his rubs/sauces but if I have to disclose that then I will also disclose that his rubs (#3) and sauces (#2) both got top 3 finishes for the best of 2011 from Scott Roberts during the BBQ Central Radio Show last week.  While I'm mentioning all the free stuff or compensation I've received, I once opened a box of cereal and got one of those toy scuba divers that swam when you put baking powder in it.  No, that didn't have anything to do with this post but I thought I would add it and see if I could get the Guiness World Record for the longest FTC required disclaimer ever.  I wonder if the award is one of those toy scuba divers that swim when you put baking powder in it.  I have to's bath time.