Thursday, August 11, 2011

The BBQ Song

Cheers to my pal Jamie for bringing this to my attention.  Makes for a good little BBQ tutorial for the uninitiated. Plus, it's catchy.  And funny.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Fair and Balanced Meal

This bi-partisan effort back in August involved drinking something I read about in the right-leaning Wall Street Journal and eating something I found on the leftish website  

The Michelada recipe that appeared in the WSJ on August 8 described this drink as the Bloody Mary's Spanish-speaking cousin.  The article billed this drink as a refreshing way to beat the heat.  It didn't take much more to sell me.  There were a few recipes for this spicy tomato beer cocktail.  I tried the following. But I made a key substitution, which may earn me some ridicule.

Mayahuel's Michelada:
1 oz. sangrita (see below)
3/4 oz. lime juice
1 bottle Negra Modelo

32 ounces tomato juice
8 oz. celery juice
6 oz. lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon celery salt
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
mix ingredients and refrigerate

So I read all that about mixing up 32 oz of tomato juice to try one beer drink and thought, "Hey that Sangrita sounds a lot like Spicy V8!"  So I goofed around with it (a little more V8? A dash of Worcestershire . . . A bit more lime . . .).  At the end of it all I decided that either I had screwed it all up or it was only ok.  I drank it all.  It wasn't terrible.  But it was the only one I made all summer.

What sounded so good from NPR's website?  This article on grilled clams!  Littlenecks on the grill with garlic butter sauce sounded like fun. 

I'd never done clams on the grill before.  It was a total breeze--and my wife grew up eating littleneck clams so she was excited for this project (while just a sip of the Michelada was plenty for her).  I got a bag of about 2 dozen littlenecks from the seafood counter.  My wife scrubbed them up while I got the coals going at a nice medium heat.

All you do is stand over the clams until they pop open.  It was cool.  They hissed and spluttered.  Then they would crack open just a bit and then they opened wide.  I used tongs to transfer them all into a big bowl.  The recipe says to spoon the sauce over all the clams, but we used it as a dipping sauce instead.  The recipe for the butter sauce is below.  Can I be honest? It all smelled awesome and seemed very fancy.  It tasted like sour cream and chives potato chips.  I like sour cream and chives potato chips.  But not all that much.  I'm glad we reserved it as a dipping sauce.

8 tablespoons butter (1 stick) cut into small pieces
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

To make the sauce, heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a 1-quart saucepan over low heat until it is foamy. Add the garlic and saute, stirring, until it is fragrant but has not colored, about 30 seconds. Add the white wine and heavy cream, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer to reduce by half, about 8 minutes. Add the remaining 5 tablespoons butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly until the sauce is shiny, emulsified and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How not to do stuffed chicken breast

After doing the stuffed mushrooms we had a lot of the "stuff" left.  I thought it would make for a perfect opportunity to try stuffed chicken breasts.  So I started looking around online on how one does that.  

The first thing you have to do is flatten the chicken breast--and the idea is that you need to pound the breasts flat.  I've seen those tenderizer mallets.  But I don't own one.  So I went to the garage and got a regular old hammer.  I stood over the breasts for a while with the hammer hanging slack in my hand.  Part of me was worried about getting salmonella on my hammer and then getting myself sick on some later house project.  Also my tools are pretty clean, but I wasn't sure who would want to eat chicken that had been smashed up by a work hammer.  What to do?

Right.  So I went with the plan where I put the breast between two cutting boards and then hit the top cutting board with my hammer.  Honestly it was sort of a mess.  The cutting board I used on top was really cheap and after a few hammer strikes it cracked.  So then I resorted to just banging on the chicken with the hammer (which I washed thoroughly both before and after contact with the chicken).  But I got the chicken mostly flattened out.  I dipped them in some "Better N Eggs" egg substitute we had in the fridge and rolled them in breadcrumbs.  Then I filled the breasts with the goop from the spinach feta artichoke blend I used in the mushrooms.  Then I used shish kabob skewers to hold the breasts together.

 I cooked them indirectly on the Big Green Egg at 350f until the internal temp on the meat was 165f.
 I gotta say that the finished product might've looked pretty ugly, but tasted mighty good.  And that's how you do stuffed chicken breast with a hammer from your tool box.  And this is also the first my wife has learned of what happened to that cutting board and how her dinner was made that night.