Monday, March 29, 2010

Battle Barbecue

Two years ago Viking Cooking School and Culinary Shop opened in Glenview. Since that time I have attended 17 cooking classes. This week was a class on barbecue. There are two competitors for the best barbecue sauce. North Carolina sauce is vinegar based and Kansas City sauce is tomato based. In class we made both with 3 kinds of meat and a number of sides.

Pit Master's Fire and Spice Dry Rub
Fall Off The Bone Baby Back Ribs with Tangy Mop sauce
Low and Slow Pulled Pork with North Carolina Sauce
Bourbon Barbecue Glaze
Barbecued Chicken
Roasted Yukon Gold Potato Salad
Cast Iron Skillet Bacon Cheese Grits
Apple Brown Betty

The rub is made up of light brown sugar, black pepper, sweet paprika
chile powder, kosher salt, garlic and onion powder and cayenne pepper. The rub was used on 2 of the meats; the picnic shoulder for the pulled pork, the baby back ribs and in the marinade for the chicken.

The vinegar sauce uses apple cider vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, sugar, Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, liquid smoke and a small bit of ketchup. Reserve some of the sauce to serve warm with the meat. The rest is used as a mop sauce for the pulled pork as it roasts in the oven for about 5 hours. Cool the meat slightly and pull apart with forks and serve with the remaining sauce. Put meat in buns or serve open faced.

The ribs are massaged with the dry rub, wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for at least 2 hours, 24 is better. Cook bone side down over indirect heat on a grill, turn meat about half way through. Cooking time is about 2 - 3 hours. Dry ribs need to rest 5 - 10 minutes. Wet ribs are 'painted' with Kansas City Rib Sauce: Ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, paprika, chili powder, garlic and cayenne. Brush the bone side first and then the meat side until lightly charred. Serve with more sauce.

Marinate chicken in apple cider vinegar, red pepper flakes some of the dry rub, chopped yellow onion. Set aside about half of the marinade for mopping while chicken cooks. Cover the chicken and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Pat chicken dry and cook over indirect heat, skin side down to start and baste several times with remaining marinade until chicken is cooked about 45-50 minutes. Serve with which ever sauce your prefer or bourbon barbecue glaze: ketchup, chile powder, sweet Thai chili paste, brown sugar, yellow mustard, apple cider vinegar and bourbon.

The sides were very good. The potato salad was my favorite. Roast Yukon Gold potatoes which have been cut in 1 inch pieces, tossed with EVOO and salt/pepper. While the roast, saute bacon in skillet and remove with slotted spoon. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings for the dressing. Whisk together Dijon mustard, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. Add EVOO and bacon drippings. Season with salt/pepper. When potatoes are cooked place in large bowl with thinly sliced green onions, diced tomato, cooked bacon and chopped parsley. Add just enough vinaigrette to moisten. Season and serve at room temperature.

In a medium saucepan heat milk and chicken stock to boiling. Stir in stone ground grits. Reduce heat and cook stirring constantly with wooden spoon until thickened. Reduce heat again and continue cooking until grits are soft and creamy, about 25 minutes, stir occasionally so as not to stick. While grits cook, bacon is sauteed in a cast iron skillet until crisp, drain and keep the drippings. Stir cream into grits and heat through. Add 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, cooked bacon and 1 cup grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese and one cup thinly sliced green onions. Season to taste. Pour grits into the cast iron skillet. Scatter 1/2 cup more cheese over top and brown under broiler. Garnish with about a quarter cup sliced green onions. and serve.

The Apple Brown Betty can be made ahead of time and put in the oven while barbecue is being consumed. Butter a round casserole. In a large bowl toss Granny Smith apples that have been peeled, seeded and thinly sliced with sugar cinnamon, nutmeg, a dash of salt and some apple juice. Pour into casserole and top with a mixture of crushed butter cookie crumbs, butter and light brown sugar. Bake until top is golden and serve with vanilla ice cream.

This was a wonderful meal and can be prepared inside or out. A great start to summer grilling season. Enjoy the warm weather and have a Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Lighter Lenten Fare

My only experience with cooking a whole fish goes back to summer vacations at the lake. Freshly caught perch, sunfish and small bass were caught, cleaned and fried crisp. Many a meal featured them. Later on at home, we wrapped a whole trout in foil with onions, lemon and potatoes and cooked the packet on the grill. During Lent many supermarkets feature fish not usually available. I decided I wanted to tackle a larger whole fish. Since Emeril always talks about 'if you can smell fish or ammonia in the store, go for the lamb', I decided it would be best to order something so it was fresh.

Baked Striped Bass with Tomatoes, Rosemary and Olives
Sauteed Broccoli, Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese

I have to admit when I got the 3 pound striped bass home, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. First I had to find a pan long enough to accommodate the creature. Then it was time to get started. Thinly sliced lemons and yellow onion were laid in the pan forming a bed for the bass. The fish was salt and peppered and the cavity filled with more lemon, onion and sprigs of fresh rosemary. Over the top slices of tomato cover the fish. Chopped kalamata olives and chopped rosemary were added along with a drizzle of EVOO. White wine is poured over all and roasted uncovered for about 20 minutes. More EVOO is added and the broth spooned over the fish and returned for another 15 - 20 minutes The fish flaked away into nice fillets. The broth and vegetables are spooned over. A very nice dish. Reheated on Sunday it was still tasty.

The broccoli dish went very will with the fish. Satueed with garlic until crisp but tender. Cut up roasted jarred red pepper is added with chopped green olives, parsley, green onion, dried marjoram, lemon juice, salt and pepper. When heated through it is served with crumbled goat cheese.

After last weeks heavier meal, this was very refreshing. I will not be intimidated by working with a whole fish again. Perhaps a red snapper next time.

Next week I will be spending a day in Galena for 'Wine Lovers Weekend' Lunch at Fried Green Tomatoes and a tour of 3 of the local winery's is planned. Will see what Sunday brings. I have some halibut I have wanted to work with. We shall see what I can come up for it.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St. Patrick's Day.....Trattoria Style

A trattoria is an Italian eating establishment. My meal brings together the best of both the Italian and the Irish.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Crispy Prosciutto, Oyster Mushroom Chips, Blue Cheese and Pears
Mini Irish Soda Bread
St. Patrick's Linguine
Irish Coffee Mousse

The salad was excellent however labor intensive. The prosciutto was cut in strips and sauteed crisp; drained on paper towels and tossed with a bit of red wine vinegar. The mushrooms where mixed with EVOO, red pepper flakes and salt. Baked in the oven until they were dry and crisp. The lettuce, blue cheese and pears were mixed with the prosciutto and mushroom chips and dressed with a bit of EVOO and red wine vinegar. A nice balance of sweet and tart. Will do this again.

The Irish soda bread is usually made in a large round loaf, but since it would take me a long time to eat the loaf, I made the dough into 10 small round loaves. I substituted dried cranberries for raisins (which I don't like except in oatmeal cookies) Now I have individual loaves in the freezer for another day.

The star of the show is the pasta dish. All the usual ingredients of a St. Paddy's Day meal in a different format. Sauteed diced carrots, cabbage, shallots, and garlic. Deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine and add chopped cooked corned beef. The 'gravy' is made of Dijon and whole grain mustard and a dollop of prepared horseradish stirred into a mixture of heavy cream and half and half. (Yes I can hear my arteries harden.) At the end a cup of shredded Irish white Cheddar cheese, and small frozen peas are added and then tossed with cooked linguine. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and the dish is complete. Very rich, but excellent. I may revisit this and use a white wine and broth base for the mustard's and horseradish. Should lighten it up considerably.

A couple of years ago I came across a Margarita Mousse recipe. Since a Margarita is not typically an Irish drink, I did some substituting. I used strong coffee and a bit of Irish Whiskey for the tequila and Triple Sec. This made up the custard base which is cooled and folded into whipped cream and egg whites. A very nice finish to a non-traditional St. Patrick's Day meal.

Whatever next week brings, it will be much lighter. Enjoy the nice weather and the return of the robins.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Marilyn had a little lamb.....shank, that is!

This was a weekend of one pot meals.

Joe's Cafe Minestrone

First on Saturday I made a large pot of minestrone. The recipe came from a place in Santa Barbara California, Joe' Cafe. Have never been there, but the soup is fabulous. Lots of vegetables, some I've not had in minestrone before but will use again. Tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, cabbage, and fresh spinach. I used black beans because I like them better than great northern and the pasta was whole wheat penne; and all cooked in beef stock with the usual carrot, celery, onion and garlic. A fragrant colorful bowl.

Braised Lamb Shank with Roasted Tomatoes and Toasted Orzo

Sunday was a one pot meal as well, just in different stages. Braising is a term that is comforting and a lamb shank requires this type of long slow cooking. It was browned in olive oil and them simmered in chicken stock, red wine and carrot, celery, onion and roasted garlic until tender. A couple of hours. Along with it is a toasted orzo and onion cooked risotto style using the strained braising liquid and chicken stock. Oven roasted plum tomatoes are stirred in at the end with lots of chopped parsley. Lots of flavor from the shank. The meat is taken off the bones, cut up and stirred into the risotto. A very nice dish on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

I should have leftovers for most of the week and look forward to them. Next week I will do a St. Patrick's Day meal, but with a bit of a twist. Not just your same old corned beef and cabbage. Take a look!