Sunday, September 30, 2012

Grilled Top Sirloin Filet with Mushroom Salsa

A little over a week ago, a recipe for mushroom salsa inundated the food blogs I read.  It was here.  It was there.  It was everywhere I looked.  I had to try it.

I had just bought four top sirloin filets and I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.  Top sirloin filet are one of the "extra lean" cuts off beef with less than 5 grams of fat.  They resemble beef tenderloin but they are a little less tender, more flavorful, and about half the price.  I cook them the same way I do filet mignon.

Grilled Top Sirloin Filet with Mushroom Salsa

  • 4 Top Sirloin Filet
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup mushroom salsa
For the Sauce Marsala
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp flour
  • pinch salt
  1. Place steaks at room temperature.
  2. Mix together the butter and flour, then chill.
  3. Heat wine, pepper, and stock in a saute pan over medium heat until it reduces volume by half (about 10 minutes).  
  4. Once reduced, slowly whisk in the cream.  Add the flour butter mix in small amounts (1/2 tsp) while whisking frequently.  Simmer until thickened.  Taste for seasoning and add salt IF needed.  It took right at 20 minutes from start to finish for the sauce.  Keep warm.
  5. Preheat a charcoal grill to 500f.  Make sure your grates are clean and lightly oiled.
  6. Season filet with salt and pepper just immediately before putting them on the grill.  
  7. Grill the filet to 125f for medium rare, about 4 minutes per side.  Rotate the steaks a quarter turn on each side to get nice grill marks.
  8. Allow filet to rest 5 minutes after taking them off the grill.  
  9. Serve steak on a bed of the mushroom salsa and top with the sauce marsala.  I used a ring mold to shape the salsa.
The idea of a mushroom salsa seemed weird but it totally worked with this steak.  The sauce marsala had a sweetness to it that was balanced out by the black pepper.  The fingerling potatoes were just seasoned with salt, pepper, and oregano and roasted.  Alexis loved it all.  
My baby bellas were HUGE.  More like teenaged bellas.

The netting helps them hold their shape.  I cook the filet with the netting on and cut it off afterward.

Grilling away on the Craycort grates.

Like beef tenderloin, top sirloin filet are best served rare to medium rare.

I hope you all are having a fun weekend.  Give your loved ones a hug!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Agave Mustard Grilled Pork Chops

Normally I like big, fat, thick pork chops.  Ones that are almost more of a roast, than a chop.   To me those are just as enjoyable as a nice steak.

But I also like those thin pork chops.  You know the ones that they sell in a hulking package labeled "assorted pork chops".  I like them because they are
  • cheap
  • marinate quickly, and
  • cook VERY fast.
I like to refer to these thin chops as "weeknight chops" because they are ideal on those nights when you are in a hurry and don't have time for a 4 hour brine and a two stage roast/sear type cook.  Just a quick marinade and slap these guys on a hot grill.  

Here is a version that we did tonight.  The flavor of agave nectar is kind of like honey but I like it better.  It has a hint of molasses or something smoky - perfect for grilling.  So these are similar to a honey-mustard grilled chop, only better.

Agave Mustard Grilled Pork Chops

  • 6 pork chops, bone in, thin cut (1/2" or less)
  • 1 oz red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3 oz olive oil
  • pinch or two of salt
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, agave nectar, mustard, oregano, and black pepper.  Whisking vigorously, slowing pour in the olive oil.  Taste for seasoning and add pinch or two of salt as needed.
  2. Pour marinade over the chops and massage in to coat well.  Allow to marinade for 30-45 minutes.  You can let it marinade longer than that but it isn't necessary.
  3. Preheat a charcoal grill to 500f.
  4. Remove chops from the marinade and grill 2-3 minutes per side until the chops hit an internal temperature of 145f.   
  5. Allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes and then top with any accumulated juices.
These chops have all kind of irregular shapes but the one thing they have in common is that they are thin and quick cooking.

To go with our quick weeknight meal, we served these with Bush Grillin' Beans Sweet Mesquite flavor.  Normally, I like to pair sweet with heat but these black beans, onions and roasted red pepper simmered together was a great match for these sweet grilled chops.  The salad was just chopped romaine, green onion, Parmesan cheese and a mixed berry vinaigrette that I made.  

Since these chops are so thin, I like to plan on one and a half chops per person just to make sure we have enough.  If you don't eat them all, don't worry.  They make for great eating in the middle of the night when you are raiding your fridge.

[Standard Disclaimer]  I have a business relationship with Bush Beans but received no compensation for this post.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Grilled Pizza Puffs Experiment

When's the last time you went roller-skating?

You remember those skating rinks, right?  
  • Dark lighting, loud music, and tan rental skates with orange wheels.    
  • Speed races, Red Light/Green Light, and of course, "couples skate only".
  • Snack bars serving cheap, fast food, fountain drinks, and slushies.  Normally they smell of nachos and reheated frozen pizzas.  

Last night one of Alexis' co-workers came over for dinner and afterward on a whim, we all ended up driving 15 miles to the nearest skating rink.  We skated like dorks, laughed at ourselves, and had a hilarious time.

The concrete block really helps soften the blow of crashes.

So last night, as I was going to sleep and feeling my back & hips tighten up (wait, I don't remember THAT when skating back in 1980), I recalled the smell of the snack bar.  Then I started thinking of ways to make a pizza appetizer on the grill.   I thought of doing some kind of a pizza puff......

But wasn't sure if I wanted to use pizza dough, crescent roll dough, or puff pastry.  So I decided to test out all three in a "proof of concept" kind of way.  I'll write out the recipe for how I did the puff pastry.  The ingredient quantities are estimates.  This is snack food, not rocket science.  Just eyeball it!

These are easy finger food and would be ideal for tailgates, parties, or heck, if you happen to run a skating rink.

Grilled Pizza Puffs

  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed according to directions, each cut into 9 squares
  • 2 Johnsonville Pizza smoked sausages*, cut into 9 slices
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce*
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, fresh grated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or just mix dried oregano and basil)
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill with a pizza stone to 400f.
  2. Top each puff pastry square with cheese, about 1/2 tsp of pizza sauce and a slice of sausage.  Fold top over.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  3. Place on pizza stone and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk the egg, Italian seasoning, and 1 Tbsp of cold water together for an egg wash.  Brush onto the tops of the pizza puffs.
  5. Cook another 5 minutes or until golden brown and then remove to a cooling rack.  
  6. Serve with extra pizza sauce for dipping
  • Pizza flavored smoked sausage - These were perfect for this but they are a limited release from Johnsonville right now.  If you can't find them in your area, you can use another smoked sausage or pepperoni.
  • Pizza sauce - I just used a jarred sauce but use your favorite homemade or commercial one.  I hope to have my neighbor do a pizza tutorial post at some point, he is the pizza king around here.  He does one on his Big Green Egg at least once a week.

These new sausages have chunks of cheese, tomato, and pizza seasonings already built in.

I tested some with chunks of mozzarella and some shredded, not a big difference either way.

Top with grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano. 

You can also do this in a 400f oven but the wood coals make it even better.

For the pizza dough ones, I crimped the edges shut whereas I left them open for the puff pastry.    

Pizza dough version

Crescent roll version

Puff pastry version
The puff pastry ones were my favorite.  The flaky layers just make the appetizer so light and airy.  The crescent rolls were my second preference and had a noticeably different taste.  But it turns out, that's all it is - preference.  Others in my family liked the pizza crust ones or crescent roll ones the best.  It all depends on what you like.

[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  I have a business relationship with Johnsonville as a sponsor of my blog and received the new sausages free of charge.  I have full editorial control of my blog and the opinions stated are my own.  

[Non-Standard FTC Disclaimer] I have no affiliation with the American Skating Rink Association (ASRA), the American Association of Skating Rinks (AASR), or the United Brotherhood of Skating Rink Snack Bar Workers #109.  

Update:  MyBizzyKitchen - They are out in limited markets right now but here is what to look for.  They should be by the other Johnsonville smoked grilling links in the meat department.  They might not be right next to the raw bratwursts.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Grilled Steak Mezzaluna

After the absolutely, without a question, worst week of my life, I was ready to TRY to get back to normal and grilled tonight. We are under a flood warning with lots of rain but I needed my grill therapy so I fired up my Big Green Egg between downpours.

But first I have to thank you all.  In the past when I commented on someone's loss, I felt like my words are trite, cliche, and meaningless.  This week being on the receiving end of those comments, I know how much they mean to those who are grieving.  Each and every comment and email meant a lot to my family and me.  Thank you from me and my family. 

Okay, back to food. 
Alexis found this mezzaluna pasta at a local store.  Mezzaluna basically means "half moon" and these are stuffed with gorgonzola cheese.  If you can't find them, you could substitute tortellini.  The pasta slathered with the creamy red pepper sauce were a dazzling partner for the grilled ribeye.

Grilled Steak Mezzaluna

  • 2 ribeye steaks
  • 1 tsp smoked salt*
  • 1/2 tsp herbs de provence 
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, coarse ground
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup mezzaluna pasta, cooked according to directions
For the cream sauce
  • 3 Tbsp butter, divided*
  • 1 Tbsp shallot, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1/3 cup pecorino-romano cheese, grated
  • 3 Tbsp roasted red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat a saute pan over medium heat.  Preheat your grill to 500f.  Allow your steaks to sit at room temp for 1 hour.
  2. Add 2 Tbsp of the butter to the saute pan.  Add the shallot and saute until tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the half and half, bring to a simmer and cook on a gentle simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes.  Add the cheese, roasted red pepper, salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Keep warm.
  4. Dry the steaks exterior with a paper towel and season with the salt, herbs de provence, pepper, and garlic powder.  
  5. Clean and oil the grill grates.  Grill the steaks 4 minutes a side over direct heat for medium rare.  Remove steaks to a cooling rack to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Return cream sauce to med-low heat and stir in the last Tbsp of cold butter, stirring until blended in.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the pasta and serve with the grilled steaks.
  • Salt - If you don't have smoked salt, sub kosher salt.
  • Butter - Keep that 1 tbsp very cold while you are making the sauce.  When you stir it into the warm sauce at the end, it will help emulsify and add a nice sheen to the cream sauce.

Making sure your meats are dry and your grates preheated gives defined grill marks.

The best therapy is the kind you can eat.

The rain drenched East Tennessee today.  The luscious roasted red pepper cream sauce rained on the gorgonzola laden pasta.  And flavor was a squall line on my taste buds.

Edit update:  Here is some new info that I wanted to get out:

Friday, September 14, 2012

A heavy heart

I originally had not planned on posting her about this because I thought i had gotten in touch with everyone that needed to know.  But my mother encouraged me to post it because 1) it was apparent I had missed people and 2) she pointed out that many of you are friends of my family.

Monday morning, one or more spineless wastes of DNA murdered my sister's husband while he changed his flat tire just off of the interstate.   Here is a newspaper article about it.

Richard had just retired and was actually taking an interest in cooking.  He wanted to impress my sister by making one of my mother's roasts with all the fixings.  My mom took Richard to Publix and they bought everything he needed.  She gave him the crash course and left him with instructions.  That is the back story on the part in the article about asking whether to set the oven on bake or broil.

The outpouring from family and friends has been greatly appreciated.

For people in Jacksonville, viewing is tonight 6-8pm at Hardage Giddens at Beach Blvd.  Services are tomorrow morning at 11am at Chets Creek Church on Hodges Blvd.

Please keep my sister, my nephew, and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Very Simple Berry Syrup for Waffles and Pancakes

Trevor has been back to school for over a month but I can really tell it is back in session because of his middle school social activities.

  • Friday afternoon - arrived home with 3 friends and they skateboarded, played video games, and were out and out rambunctious.  
  • Friday evening - Those 4 met 16 other friends at Battlefield Knoxville for a few hours of combat gaming.  
  • Friday night - He and a friend spent the night at another friend's house.
  • Saturday Morning - Attended friend's football game.
  • Saturday afternoon - He and a friend went to another friend's house where a bunch of other kids were.  They played rough house type games (tackle tag, etc) outside and then ate a bunch of pizza.
  • Saturday evening - He and a friend spent the night at our house.

So we woke up Sunday morning and wanted to make something easy for breakfast that would fuel the boys' high paced weekend.  I made our usual waffles and this SUPER easy berry syrup.

Very simple berry syrup, mixed berry syrup

Very Simple Berry Syrup 
yields:  approximately 1 cup

  • 1 cup mixed frozen berries
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Place in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally until the sugar is melted, about 10 minutes.
  2. Slowly bring to a simmer and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and carefully strain through a sieve into a bowl.  Slightly push down on the pulp in the sieve to get all the juice out.  Discard the pulp.
  4. Strain a second time through cheese cloth.
  5. That's it.  You're done.  You can serve warm or chilled to let it thicken.
  • We used a cherry, blueberry, raspberry and strawberry blend that resulted in a multifaceted taste that we all found scrumptious.  
Very simple berry syrup, mixed berry syrup
Don't skip the second straining.  You want to get all the pits and seeds out.

Very simple berry syrup, mixed berry syrup recipe
So easy and completely delicious!

So it is now just afternoon.  Trevor and his friend have gone to another friend's house.  Go go go go.  Red Bull has nothing on teenagers and their energy!

I realize this has nothing to do with BBQ or grilling.  But in a way it does.  I'm roasting a pork loin this afternoon and I'm thinking of using a version of this for a mixed berry pork glaze.  

I hope you all are having a great weekend so far.  

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Peppered Wings with Caramelized Soy and Blackberry Glaze

Have you ever been flipping through your favorite cook book and find a recipe that makes you think, "How have I not tried this one yet?!?"

This was one of those.  Peppered Wings with Caramelized Soy and Blackberry Glaze -

Peppered wings with caramelized soy and blackberry glaze, grilled wings, kamado wings, BGE wings, Grill Dome wings
Crispy, peppery chicken wings with a unique sweet sauce.

Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book spends more time off the book shelf than on it.  It my most used BBQ book.  Despite the heavy use and all of those tabs, his recipe for these wings has escaped my attention...until now.

Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book, Chris Lilly, must have BBQ book

We eat a lot of wings at our house and my favorites have been on the spicy side.  But these are delightfully sweet balanced by the sultry taste of the caramelized soy sauce and the peppery wings.  And it wasn't just me, these wings captured the attention of my whole family as something special.  

I'm not going to post the recipe, even though Chris has graciously given me permission to repost several of the recipes in his book.  If you have the book, definitely try these.  If you don't, go buy it!  

The wings start off with a generous application of a rub (salt, brown sugar, paprika, garlic, and then black, red, and white pepper).
Peppered wings with caramelized soy and blackberry glaze, grilled wings, kamado wings, BGE wings, Grill Dome wings

The cook indirect on your grill for 30 minutes at 450f, much faster than I normally do my wings on my Egg.
Peppered wings with caramelized soy and blackberry glaze, grilled wings, kamado wings, BGE wings, Grill Dome wings

The sauce is a reduction of mirin, soy sauce, sugar, and seedless blackberry jam.  
It doesn't go on until the wings come off of the grill.  Also different how I normally do my wings.
Peppered wings with caramelized soy and blackberry glaze, grilled wings, kamado wings, BGE wings, Grill Dome wings

Simple but really effective and a surprising combination of flavor.  I did a batch with sriracha added to the sauce and I preferred those but the rest of the family preferred the sweeter ones without sriracha.  

Decatur Alabama Riverfest 
Next weekend I am joining Clint Cantwell ( editor) to cook with his Smoke In Da Eye team in the BBQ competition at the 18th annual Decatur Jaycees Riverfest.   After the smoke settles, I'll also be getting to hang out with the folks from Kingsford, several of my favorite BBQ bloggers, and BBQ friends.  Of course a meal at Big Bob Gibson's BBQ restaurant is obligatory!!!

If you're in the area, check out the event and be sure to stop by our spot.  We'll be next to the Kingsford section.  In addition to the bbq competition, there will be live music, family activities, and food vendors.  All proceeds will be used by the Jaycees to benefit local charities. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Accidental Sort of Beef Rib Roast

I am on a mission to cook down my freezer before fall gets here.  It's full of vacuum-sealed bags of meats I've cut and prepped over the summer.  

Sometimes things get covered over or hidden behind something else and then forgotten about.  Like this orphaned roast I cooked this weekend.

Well it wasn't your typical boneless beef rib roast.  You might remember my mis-steak this summer when I royally screwed up tried to butcher a whole ribeye thinking it was a strip loin.  So this was the roast part from that screw up, with the spinalis dorsi and lip removed.  Basically it is the center eye of the ribeye.  

No recipe here since this was such an odd cut of beef (thanks to me being a doofus), just some ideas and techniques.

I had already tied the roast when I originally cut it out so all I had to do was give it a heavy coating of McCormick Grill Mates Cowboy Rub.   This is my favorite store bought rub for beef roasts and thick steaks.  It has a coarse grind and big flavors that pack taste & texture on the outside of your roast that balance well with the tender juicy beef inside. 

I had my Big Green Egg ceramic grill/smoker/oven set up for indirect heat at 250f for a nice long slow roast.  I had the roast on a v-rack above a stoneware dish with 1 1/2 cups of beef stock in it to catch the drippings and make au jus.

You could also use a roasting pan or heck, even just the rack from your toaster oven over a grill safe pan.

It took right at 90 minutes for the roast to reach an internal temperature of 125f.  I flipped it once during that time because the bottom gets a little steaming effect from the stock below.  I removed the roast to a rack and let it rest where it raised to 134f.  Meanwhile, I changed the grill to direct heat, raised the temp to 500f, and seared the roast for about 90 seconds per side.

I let it rest a few more minutes after the sear....

Then sliced it thin....

It almost looks like a tenderloin since it doesn't have the lip or cap.

And served it with garlic green beans and Boursin cheese mashed potatoes with au jus.

This and seconds disappeared quickly.

A word about doneness.  Our family likes our beef roasts just on the rare side of medium rare.  But my dad can't stand even medium rare, he wants it well done.  If you have one or two people that want theirs more well done, just heat the au jus in a small skillet and cook slices just a minute per side in the au jus.  It will still be tender but no sign of red at all. 

If you want to cook the whole roast to more than medium rare - when cooking during the slow roast period, cook it to an internal temp about 7-10 degrees less than your desired final internal temp.  It will raise up those final degrees during the first rest and the very quick sear won't raise it up much at all. 

[Standard Disclaimer]  I have had a few paid gigs with McCormick Grill Mates; however, this post is not one of them, I paid full price for the rub, and my opinion of the Cowboy rub is my own.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Sweet Pepper Relish and Brat Days Part 3: Sheboygan

It's a bit odd that a lot of people view Labor Day as the close of "grilling season".  Summer may be ending but tailgating season is just kicking off - what better time to fire up the grills?

This weekend I was grilling some Johnsonville Italian Sausage Patties and decided to make a sweet pepper relish for a topping.  This would also work with brats, burgers, and hotdogs at your next tailgate party.  If you want a spicy version, you could just add in some spicier chiles with the bell peppers or increase the amount of red pepper flakes.

Sweet Pepper Relish
servings:  makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 orange bell peppers, cored and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 small can black olive slices
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  1. Place the peppers, onion, and black olives in a food processor and pulse them a few times until the veggies are minced.  See the picture for an example, you don't want to overdo it and turn them into a paste.
  2. Pour about a quart of boiling water onto the veggies and let them steep for 5 minutes.  
  3. In a large saute pan on medium heat, mix together the vinegar, sugar, pepper flake and celery seed until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Drain the veggies and stir them into the vinegar mix.  Simmer until the liquid thickens which should take about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. 
Why cut them if you are using a food processor?  Starting off with smaller, uniform pieces keeps you from pulverizing the black olives while trying to get huge pieces of pepper chopped down.

This is the consistency that you want.

I like to put my relish on the Italian sausage burgers and then top with a slice of provolone cheese.

The Italian sausage burgers already have a flavor party going on, adding the tangy sweet pepper relish made it a flavor riot.  We'll definitely be making this relish a few times during tailgating season for cookouts.  

Brats Days Part 3:  Sheboygan, WI
It's hard to believe that it has already been a month since Alexis and I attended the Brat Days festival courtesy of the folks at Johnsonville.  While the food and entertainment get top billing at events like this, we were also very impressed with the City of Sheboygan.  Located on the shores of Lake Michigan, it is loaded with outdoor activities, beautiful scenery, and great people.

"Let's have a fry"
They do have one REALLY ODD regional quirk.  If you are the kind of person that gets bothered when someone refers to a grilling cookout as "a barbecue", then this will really make you nuts...

See the "Give us a Fry" ? 
In and around Sheboygan, grilling brats is referred to as "a fry".  One of the Jaycees said she was confused too the first time she ever heard someone say something like, "My brother is coming over, we're going to get some brats and have a fry." 

People in the South like to think we are the friendliest people around with our "honey", "sweetie", "hey y'all", and our Southern Hospitality.  But the people of Sheboygan are some of the friendliest people we have met.  It seems like everyone greets you in passing.   

We struck up conversations with so many complete strangers that ended up being very interesting people.  For example, some guy made a comment about my camera in passing.  We started talking and turns out he was none other than freshwater surfing icon, Larry "Longboard" Williams.   Dude surfs in winter water temps approaching freezing.....hard core!  We ended up talking about 15 minutes sharing our favorite surfing stories.

Another generalization about Sheboyganites.  Despite their reputation for pounding away beers and brats, I couldn't help but notice there were not a lot of "out of shape" people compared to Tennessee.  Hmmm beer=health food?  I need to look into that.

Alexis with Kevin on the left (who was also our parade car driver earlier in the day).  Sorry for the blurry picture - it was dark, at a concert and there may have been beer involved. 
Life's A Beach
Finally there was the beaches and water scenes.  I didn't realize how pretty this area would be.  Water means a lot of things to do, like fishing, boating, hanging out on the beach, and my personal favorite surfing, when the waves are right.

Lighthouse on the breakwater.

Out on the breakwater looking back at Sheboygan.

We stayed at Blue Harbor Resort.  Never made it to the indoor water park, it was too nice outside!

Blue Harbor Resort at night.

Beach at Blue Harbor

We had such a great time at Brat Days in Sheboygan that we have already decided to go back next year on our own dime as a vacation.  Thank you to Tony and the gang at Johnsonville for inviting us this year and thanks to the Sheboygan Jaycees for being such great hosts!