Tasty Tuesday April 7

Tasty Tuesday April 7

Tonight I cooked chicken on the grill and as usual, I wanted to cook the vegetables on the grill too, makes things easier. I did my usual foil packet with stuff in it and we enjoyed it, so here’s what I did: 

For the two of us, I got two small yellow squash, one tiny zucchini, and a couple of brown mushrooms. They get sliced into bite-sized pieces. Sometimes I use onion in the mix. 
I then take a length of non-stick aluminum foil 14-18 inches long or so and pour a couple teaspoons of olive oil and a teaspoon of a good vinegar, a few sprinkles salt and several grinds of black pepper, this goes directly on the foil and then gets mixed and smeared around on the foil to cover most of it, leaving a couple of inches around the edges clean. Then the vegetables get heaped on one end, the foil gets folded in half over them and then I fold the sides first, two to three1/4 inch folds, and then the end gets the same folds. Then kind of pat it into an even thickness all over for even cooking. 
That sits over the coals while they are burning down to cooking temperature, turning several times. If it sizzles, it’s doing good. In a few minutes, you will start smelling the squash, if you smell burning, take it off direct heat now! and use more oil next time. You can gently poke or press the packet with the backside of your tongs to test for doneness, you will feel when they reach the right softness. When it’s time to put the main course on the grill, the packet gets put to the side, away from the heat to stay warm and finish cooking. If I have some good smoke going, I might poke a hole in the top of the packet to get that flavor in it. 
When all is done, all is brought in on a plate and while the meat rests, I open the foil packet, CAREFULLY to avoid steam burns, unfolding the last set of folds, and it gets dumped into a bowl to serve. Taste and season as you like. I find it usually needs more salt, the hubby cranks on more pepper. 
This is directions for two servings but can be increased, just try to keep the vegetables in an even layer in the packet and don’t make the packet too thick, or the ones in the middle won’t get cooked. 

I have missed you

It has been too long,
My big black friend. 
I have neglected you. 
The snows and rain
Have kept you under covers. 
It’s time to light a fire 
In your belly.
I want your hot curves
to feed me again. 
Let me give you some salmon,
You give it back to me
skin crackling, blackened
into perfect goodness. 
I want to give you my ribs,
let you tickle them
with your fiery fingers
for hours,
and deliver to me
tasty bliss. 
My grill–I have missed using you! 

Tasty Tuesday December 23

Last week, when I was talking about slow cooking ribs, the picture I used included some jalapenos. This entry talks about those peppers. And there’s bacon involved.

Start out with 3-4 big jalapenos, 4 inches long or so. Using vinyl or latex gloves, cut the peppers in half and cut the seeds and ribs out of them. Set them aside. Take half a block of cream cheese, left out to soften and a half cup or so of grated cheese, a Mexican or taco blend is good or just good ole Cheddar. Mix the cheeses together and if you want to make things a little more interesting, add 1/4 teaspoon of the rib rub to the cheeses or add some chopped fresh oregano. You could even get really ambitious and cook up some sausage and crumble it into the cheese mix. Fill the jalapeño halves with the cheese mixture. Now, take some good regular slice bacon, thick slice won’t work here (and yes, there is not so good bacon) and cut the slices in half lengthwise. Wrap the bacon around the stuffed pepper and secure with a toothpick stuck all the way through it.
When the grill is hot and ribs resting comfortably in the heat, place the peppers on the grill. I sometimes give them a sample of heat on the cheese side to start the bacon crisping and then move them off the heat after a few minutes, or you can just put them on the far side of the grill, pepper side down, and ignore them for an hour or so. Cooking them so long with the cheeses in them seems to take most of the heat out of the peppers so even if you aren’t a fan of hot, spicy food, these are smoky, bacony, cheesy goodness. They do need to be cooked a long time to get the bacon crisp so this is not a side dish to plan with steaks or other quickly grilled meats.

This makes enough for 2-3 people, multiply as needed.

http://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com is where I got the original recipe for Jalapeño Poppers

Tasty Tuesday, December 16

I was grocery shopping at the usual place a little while ago and noticed a nice looking package of pork ribs sitting there, marked down for a quick sale. Now, I know ribs take a while to cook, and I wasn’t going to have that while for several days, so I bought them and hurried them home to the freezer to wait for a better day.
The ribs in question were St Louis style pork ribs. That means, they have had a little more meat left on the bones and make a satisfying meal. The problem with these particular ribs was that they have been packaged at a factory somewhere, shrink wrapped and sealed in heavy plastic with lots of liquid that is supposed to keep them moist and juicy. Problem is, they just turn out wet and flabby. Never fear, there is a solution. But it takes a couple of days of planning.
If you freeze them, take them out of the freezer two days before cooking and put them in the refrigerator to thaw. If not frozen, proceed to step two.
The day before you cook them, take them out of the plastic, give them a quick rinse and squeeze to get all that slimy stuff off them then proceed to trim the extra fat. Turn them bone side up and make sure the silverskin has been pulled off. This is a pearly membrane that will keep any flavoring from penetrating and be tough and chewy. If it’s still there, slide a paring knife under it along a bone on one end and lift up and pull all the way off. Using a paper towel to grab it makes it easier to pull.
Now comes the part to firm things up and get it ready to season. Put the ribs on a cookie sheet or, as I do, cut them in half and put both halves in a casserole dish big enough to hold them. Now put them in the refrigerator UNCOVERED for a day until an hour and a half or so before cooking time. This allows the air to circulate over them and dry out all that extra moisture that has been added.
The rub I use is from Weber’s Big Book of Grilling and it is called Al Roker’s Rub

1/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 Tbl Kosher Salt
2 Tbl freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbl Adobo sauce*
1 Tbl Paprika
1 Tbl Chili Powder
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp Allspice

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, then press or rub all over the ribs. Put them back in the refrigerator for am hour or so until ready to cook. Low and slow is the ticket, indirect heat between 250 and 300 degrees for an hour and a half or so. You’ll know they’re about done when the meat starts pulling back, exposing the ends of the bones.
Serve with lots of paper towels to clean your face and hands between bites.

*Adobo sauce is the tomato based sauce that is in the little cans of Chipotle in Adobo you can buy, (chipotle chilis are smoked jalapeños) and this gives the rub moisture to hold together and stick to the ribs. Warning–it does make the mix hot and spicy!

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We’ll talk about the jalapenos another time. 😌