Archive for the ‘bbq’ Category

Day 74 – Ribs

May 6, 2007

Saturday April 28, 2007: Smoked Pork Ribs

It’s very rare that I’ll prep a separate meal for the kids. They pretty much eat what we eat (and vice-versa) every night. It’s more out of laziness than anything else – I don’t want to have to become a short-order cook making each family member a different dinner.

But tonight I’m going to smoke a side of ribs and I have a feeling neither child will really like it. My daughter won’t eat anything with skin or char marks, which pretty much rules this main course out.

The ribs get a dry rub of brown sugar, chili powder, cumin,  oregano with a pinch of dry mustard and a pinch of salt. The ribs go into the fridge for three or four hours and will smoke at 250F on my kettle grill for about 3 hours. (I’m using cherry wood left over from my father in-law’s fall pruning…)

Two potatoes and onion get thickly sliced, tossed in olive oil and kosher salt. This goes into a foil packet with some fresh rosemary and cooks alongside the ribs for the final hour.

The kids get a variation of the shrimp linguine I made earlier in the week that was a big hit, oh except for those pesky shrimp. I’ve decided to substitute boneless chicken thighs for the tiny crustaceans…

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 servings of frozen spinach

The onions and red pepper are sauteed in the olive oil and as they begin to soften (about five minutes) add the chicken and cook for 3 to five minutes. Add the white wine and scrape up any bits in the pan, let the white wine cook down (1 to 2 minutes) and then add the spinach and tomato sauce – stirring to help break up the frozen spinach.

The Verdict

Neither of the kids seem to like the ribs, which is too bad on one level as they are absolutely freakin’ delicious. Just melt in your mouth tender and wonderfully redolent of smoke and bbq and all good things. But it’s also ok as it means there’s more for K. and I to enjoy.

The kids do love their pasta and they both have seconds – eating the chicken this time (instead of eating around the shrimp like last time). This recipe is certainly a keeper for them… 


Day 71 – Greek Chicken

May 6, 2007

Wednesday April 25, 2007: Greek Chicken

In a previous life, K. was in publishing.  Many of her friends still are and every few months a small box or a large padded envelope will show up at our house with a couple of books in them.

Recently the package included a copy of Barbecue Nation (as well as three other cookbooks, which I’m sure I’ll get to later).

Looking for a new way to do some chicken, I tried out the following marinade from my newest complimentary cookbook:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (we went with oregano, thyme and sage)
Big pinch salt

Butterfly the chicken (remove the backbone) and press the breastbone until the bird is flat. Combine all of the marinade ingredients, mix well. Find a platter/tupperwear/large plate and pour the marinade over the bird, cover and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

Grill the bird at 400F for about 40 minutes (10-12 minutes skin side up; 10-12 skin side down; 10-12 skin side up).

While the chicken was grilling, I put some orzo on to boil. In a large saute pan I warmed a few tablespoons of olive oil and added a diced onion, half a diced red pepper and cooked them for about 5 minutes. When they had softened, I added 1/3 cup pitted olives, 1/3 cup frozen spinach and a pinch of salt.

Once the orzo was al dente, I tossed the pasta with the sauce, had a taste and adjusted the seasonings.

I also cut up some tomatoes and cucumbers that I tossed with some feta, black olives, olive oil, oregano and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

The Verdict
K. really liked the chicken, I thought it was ok and the kids didn’t seem to notice it. Both ate it, but neither commented on it or made sounds like they were enjoying it. The marinade caused lots of small fires on my gas grill, which made it a bit of a pain to cook. If I made it again, I might cut back on the amount of liquid involved (don’t know that you need that much olive oil and lemon – just keep the ratios the same) as there was a fair amount of run-off from the chicken…

The boy didn’t like the orzo at all. He’d eat a hand-full and then spit it out, then he’d another hand-full and spit it out (you’d think he’d catch on that he didn’t like it) it made for a pretty messy meal. My daughter however, loved the orzo, which she ate and ate and ate. 

The little pucks of frozen spinach we picked up have been great the last two nights – a quick and easy way to sneak healthy stuff into the kids meals. 

For dessert, my daughter and I had a cheese course (comte, gloucester and some forme d’ambert). The boy ate organic cocoa cookies and goldfish crackers (I might have to seek a paternity test as he just wont eat cheese).

Day 68 – BBQ Pork

May 4, 2007

Sunday, April 22, 2007: BBQ Pork

Picked up a boneless pork butt from the butcher for Sunday dinner.

The meat got a dry rub (chili powder, cumin, brown sugar, smoked paprika, oregano) and an overnight stay in the fridge.

Sunday afternoon, I fired up the Weber and soaked some cherry wood, pruned from my in-laws yard as part of their year-end clean up, in a big bowl of water.

The pork butt went on the weber for about five hours at 250. It came off the cue and was all smokey goodness.  Baking potatoes went on for the final hour and green beans wrapped in foil went on for about 10-15 minutes.

This is a very low maintenance meal. 

I pulled it into shreds – the kids getting unsauced versions, while K. and I doused ours in a cider-vinegar based bbq sauce.

The Verdict
The kids really liked the pork and the green beans, they took a pass on the potatoes (who doesn’t like potatoes, sometimes I can’t figure my kids out).

While I liked the sides, I’d really like to figure out how to make BBQ baked beans…

Day 67 – Korean-style BBQ

April 22, 2007

Saturday April 21, 2007: Korean BBQ Ribs

Saw an interesting recipe in the latest Cook’s Illustrated for Korean style bbq ribs that uses short-ribs of all things. With the beautiful weather finally here, I wanted to get the Weber going – there’s nothing like the smell of briquettes when you’re sitting in the sun waiting for your supper – and thought this might be a recipe worth trying.

This was the best decision I made all weekend. David Pazzmino from Cook’s deserves a medal for this recipe.

It starts off with a fascinating marinade:

1 Pear, peeled, cored and chopped
6 cloves of garlic
4 teaspoons of ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar

Put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and spin until smooth.

Prepping the Beef

Cook’s identifies four types of short ribs: English, flanken, korean and boneless. The only type I’ve ever seen for sale here in Toronto are the flanken style and that’s what I picked up for Saturday’s dinner.

If there are bones in your short ribs, you’ll have to carefully remove them along with any hard fat and silver skin.  

Your boneless beef should then be  put between two sheets of waxed paper and given a quick pounding with a wine bottle (or heavy blunt instrument of your choice) – you’re looking for uniform pieces of meat that are about four inches long, one inch wide and about one-quarter inch thick.

The marinade should be poured over these beef portions and put in the fridge for 1 to 12 hours – this is a tenderizing marinade, so the longer the beef sits the more tender it will become.  Our beef got about a four hour bath and was fantastically tender.

The Sides

I filled the chimney with briquettes and while they burned to grey, my daughter and I snapped some yellow beans and washed lettuce for a salad. The beans went into a foil pouch with some olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt.

For the salad dressing, I wanted to complement the Korean-style ribs and whipped up something along these lines (I don’t measure when I make salad dressing, so this is a best guess)

1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce

Mix these three items together and then slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking vigorously – taste as it thickens and stop when it’s struck the right balance.

We also made a batch of basmati rice.


The ribs go over the hot coals and cook for about five minutes a side. They should be done in under 12 minutes. The foil pouch of beans also takes about 10-12 minutes to cook over indirect heat.

The Verdict

K. LOVED the ribs. She wants me to make them for the kids’ birthday parties. I too couldn’t get enough, I’m glad I didn’t make five pounds of them (as the recipe suggests) I would have eaten them all.

This recipe is a serious keeper. My hat is off to Cook’s on this one.

The boy liked the ribs too but my daughter wasn’t converted. She doesn’t like any char on her food, and was trying to find pieces of rib that had “no skin” she did eat lots of rice, beans and salad.

For dessert, our lovely neighbours actually passed a plate of assorted squares over the fence (lemon, date, some sort of caramel chocolate number).

My daughter also roasted marshmallows over the dying coals of the BBQ – one of her favourite summer activities.

Day 62 – BBQ Steak

April 16, 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007: BBQ Steak and Sweet Potato Rosti

I feel as though Spring will never come. It’s cold enough to see my breath, it’s rainy and grey. Hard to believe a few weeks ago I was thinking of eating on the back deck.

Still, I wanted to bbq on Sunday night so we picked up a few strip-loins from the butcher.

My three year old daughter and I prepped a Greek salad together (I do the knife work, she adds the olives, oregano and crumbles the feta).

I also tried to make sweet potato rosti:
550 Grams of Sweet potatoes (there were three)
1 egg
small onion, minced
clove of garlic, minced

The sweet potatoes went through the box grater into a tea towel, where I did my best to squeeze out any moisture. The onion and garlic were sauteed (don’t let the garlic brown!). The potato, onion and garlic were mixed with the beaten egg and formed into small cakes/patties. These went on a sheet of silpat and into a 400F oven for 30+ minutes.

Steaks went on the grill, the one for the kids went on early so it would be more medium well and their steak also got a hit of bbq sauce.

The bottoms of the rosti cooked a bit faster than the tops (perhaps 400F is to hot) so I finished them quickly under the broiler.

For dessert, K. and my daughter made a blueberry crumble from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. It was a bit runny, although my wife thought that might be due to the fact that she used frozen berries. She said she’d put in a touch more flour if she were to make it again (it was great, so I hope she makes it again). She also said she had to double the amount of topping the recipe called for in order to cover the whole pan.

The Verdict
The kids really weren’t sure about the sweet potato rosti. My daughter ate a little bit but seemed unsure of the whole thing. My 20 month old son took his apart, completely enamoured by the long strands of potato, which he could smush between his fingers.  They both ate steak and Greek salad. 

My daughter also thought it was hilarious that the crumble gave her purple teeth. Needless to say, it was a big hit with both kids.

Day 28 – Beef

March 12, 2007

March 11, 2007: Welcome back to Steak and Potatoes

After nearly six weeks touring about South East Asia, my in-laws missed their flight home.  Having recently dealt with an 11.5 hour time change, I felt tremendous sympathy for them, so we decided to pick them up at the airport and help get them home.

To make matters a little more interesting, my mother in-law, who thinks parsnips border on the exotic and hamburgers are spicy, claims to have not eaten for weeks (I can’t imagine the food she missed out on in Thailand…). So we also prepped a welcome home dinner of grilled strip loins, baked potatoes (sweet and plain old russets), roasted carrots and a green salad.

My daughter and I even whipped up a batch of Nigel Slater’s hot chocolate puddings as a quick dessert.

My mother in-law seemed like a very happy woman as she polished off her steak…I guess we won’t be extending an invitation to her when I make butter chicken later this week.

Day 20 – Smoked Brisket

March 5, 2007

March 3, 2007: Smoked Beef Brisket

About three weeks ago I picked up 17 pounds of beef brisket for a playoff hockey pool/poker night with the fellas.

The brisket came out of the deep freeze earlier this week and, once thawed, spent the last night marinating (Tenderizing – I’m not sure of the right term – does a dry rub count as a “marinade”?) in a combination of chili powder, ground cumin, dry mustard, paprika, brown sugar, oregano and salt.

brisket with dry rub

This morning, way too early this morning, I was trying to get my charcoal grill fired up. It was about -5C and it took three goes at re-loading the chimney with old newspapers and lots of matches up before the briquets finally lit.

I kept all the briquets to one side of the Weber, a few chunks of hardwood went on to top, down went the grill and the brisket went into the cold side of the bbq. The vents were adjusted to keep the temp down and the smoke flowing…

smoking with the Weber

Eight hours later the brisket came into the house, with a beautiful crust, smelling like heaven.

smoked brisket

Back into the aluminum roaster where it got a quick, light baste with a bit of bbq sauce (I have no idea if this is breaking some type of bbq protocol, but being north of the 49th parallel I’m hopefully exempt from any charges) and then parked in a 225F oven until the internal temp hit 210F (it came of the weber at about 190F).

Some doctored up bbq sauce on the side and it’s all set to go. One brisket goes to the fam for Saturday and Sunday dinner and lunch all week for me (mmmmm, brisket sandwiches). The other brisket goes to the guys in my hockey pool…it’s a pretty easy way to cook, especially when the outside temp helps to keep the bbq at about 250F.