Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Monday!

Not really a cooking post this morning but I wanted to point to another great blog that includes some tasty looking BGE cooks.  My buddy Robert is author of http://baconwrappedrob.wordpress.com/ and got a Big Green Egg around the same time I did.  He has a great write-up about a Boston Butt he did on the egg and the tools necessary for any cook (beer) here.  He also did some spectacular looking ribeyes here a week or so ago and has inspired me to visit a local butcher for my meats in the future.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Restaurant Review: Fat Matt's Rib Shack

I decided to try something a little new here and throw in a restaurant review.  I plan to do more of these in the future and my plan is to try my best to focus on places that serve foods I have done or would like to attempt to eggesize (see glossary for definition).

The infamous neon sign lights up the Atlanta sky.


My first shot at this would be one of the local BBQ favorites in the ATL, Fat Matt's Rib Shack.  I first tried Fat Matt's when I moved right down the street from it about 3 years ago.  Fat Matt's is, of course, known for their BBQ ribs among other BBQ favorites.  They cook a mean rib and chicken combo, both of which I have cooked before with great success (here and here respectively).  I wanted to see how they stacked up with Fat Matt's.


This place draws quite the crowd.  The line is usually out the door and into the parking lot.

In the past I have always ordered a half slab of ribs with a side.  Their baked beans are very good.  This time I mixed it up.  I went with the combo.  It comes with a 1/4 slab of ribs and 1/4 of a chicken and is served with their world famous sauce and two pieces of white bread to soak up all the goodness.  I was interested in two things on this trip.  One, I have been making chicken on my egg for quite a while now and wanted to try some of theirs since I have never had it and B, I recently heard rumors about the famous Fat Matt Rib Shack's ribs being boiled and not smoked *GASP*. 


Went with the combo this time around.  I usually do the 1/2 slab.

Upon first glance at my ribs when served I noticed that the ribs have very few grill lines and gristle that you see on most smoked ribs.  It appears as if the ribs are boiled and then finished on the grill before being served.  I was disappointed to see this and left feeling bad about them boiling their ribs in a less than traditional BBQ fashion.  However, let it be known that regardless of the cooking style, the ribs are absolutely superb.  Now, on to the chicken.  The piece I got was very tender and smothered in the delicious BBQ sauce.  I did notice that there was not a great deal of smoked flavor in the chicken and that a lot of the straight-from-the-grill taste came from the smokiness of the sauce.  Yet, I was not disappointed in the least. 


This looks very similar to what I had minus the beans.
(I actually didn't take any of these pictures...shhh)

In the end, I made quite a mess and was a little disappointed but I left satisfied and full.  I will be back to Fat Matt's Rib Shack in the future but maybe not right away.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

$6 Dinner: Tuna Steaks

Continuing along the theme of foods that I have prepared just as well (if not better) than expensive Buckhead restaurants, I wanted to tackle tuna.  Tuna is usually served seared and sliced in restaurants for $20-40 a plate.  I noticed that it is usually covered in poppy seeds and other light seasonings.  I know I can recreate this!

As I have previously mentioned I am a big fan of the Buford Highway Farmer's Market (BHFM). I often buy sushi grade fish from them to make my own sashimi and had noticed on several trips how cheap the tuna steaks were for a city that has no readily available source of seafood.  I know tuna is the chicken of the sea but I had not seen a better price on the steaks anywhere in Atlanta (I wasn't looking very hard).  I decided I must give them a shot and this shot must involve the BGE.  So I grabbed two steaks and headed home to prep.

Prep:
The tuna steaks were a little frozen at the market so I let them rest and defrost in the fridge.  When ready, I added poppy seeds, salt, pepper, Tony Chachere's (New Orleans style seasoning), and a pinch of Cavendars (Greek seasoning).

Is this picture upside down? I can't tell.

Cooking:
I set the grill for direct cooking  at about 400º (that was the hottest I could get it with the end of the bag of lump I was using) and threw the twins on.  The guidelines I had read mentioned 500º for 90 seconds each side for much thinner pieces.  Since I could only get the grill to 400º, I decided to just keep an eye on them and watch the sides until they looked done (If you watch tuna, it starts with a nice red color, becomes pink, and then turns grayish when fully cooked. This color creeps up the side of the steaks as they cook on each side).  I pulled them off after about 4min on each side when there was about an inch of red remaining in the center of the sides of the tuna.


You can see the nice red stripes on the sides of the tuna.
  
Notes:
These were amazingly tasty.  Better flavor than I have had in most restaurants (I attribute this to the Tony's); however, the middle was a little more done than I prefer.  I usually like to see some nice red color in the middle but mine were more pink than red.  I should have pulled them off a bit earlier as the tuna will continue to cook even after being removed from the heat.  However, these were full of goodness and I look forward to my second attempt with them.

Served with asparagus, some crazy good spaghetti squash concoction, and a nice Chianti *slurping sound*.

I am shooting for a nice red color where you see pink here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Super Bowl Pizza Party

With the big game looming and my desire to show off my pizza skills growing, MBH and I decided to have a couple people over for the Super Bowl.  We were trying to keep it low key since MBH had to leave on travel early the next morning but this was not going to slow me down from lighting up the egg and drinking a few cold ones.  I had bragged about my pizza skills to our guests on several occasions so I went out to grab two dough balls from Publix and set off to defend my honor. 

Prep:
I cut the dough balls in half so that we could make 4 total pizzas.  We made the same sauce we had made for the original pizza cook (we have really come to love this chunky sauce) and gave it a while to simmer.  After letting the dough rest for about two hours we started to form the dough on parchment paper. 


We made one pepperoni pizza, one Nana's pizza with garlic, one mushroom and banana pepper pizza, and a buffalo chicken pizza.  The first three all contained the pizza sauce we had prepared, store-bought shredded mozzarella, and are pretty self explanatory but the buffalo chicken pizza was special.  For this pie I laid down a nice coat of Frank's buffalo sauce as the base.  I then added some baked chicken breast that had been tossed in the buffalo sauce and cubed, and then topped all of this with sharp cheddar cheese rather than the traditional mozzarella.


Buffalo chicken and mushroom pies ready for the grill.

Cooking:
I got the grill pre-heated to about 600º and had a bit of time to wait before the sauce was done and the pizzas were topped.  I threw the pepperoni pizza on first and let it go for about 10 minutes on the parchment paper and pulled it off for eating.  I threw the Nana's on next and went back in to try the pepperoni.  The pepperoni pizza was excellent but I noticed that the center of the crust was not as crisp as I was looking for.  So I let the Nana's go the same 10 minutes but then let it finish on the stone for an additional two minutes.  We then took a break from pizza making to watch the game for a bit and get a few beers down.  After and hour or so I went back out to throw the mushroom pizza on and the grill temp had dipped to around 450º.  I could have stoked the fire to get the temp back up but seeing as how I was ready to throw this pie on and the beer had eliminated my patience I just went with it.  I kept an eye on the pizza through the top opening of the egg and let it go for about 15 minutes and gave it two minutes directly on the stone.  I threw the final pizza on with the grill at about 400º and let it go until done (about 18 mins on parchment  2 mins directly on the stone.)  Then we ate..

Notes:
First, I think I may like using the store bought, shredded mozzarella better on the pies with lots of toppings.  The fresh mozzarella on the Nana's pizza really makes the pie and I will revert back to that next time.  Next, as mentioned above, the first pie was a little less done than I prefer (I like a crisp center crust) and, crustwise, I think the second pizza was the best.  Through all of the different scenarios I think the grill at 600º for 10 minutes on the parchment paper and 2 minutes directly on the stone makes the perfect pie.  I think that when making multiple pizzas, it is best to do them all when the grill is at its hottest and before it has a chance to cool.  As a general rule, the pizza turns out best when cooked as high and fast as possible. However, all of the pizzas were very tasty and I will definitely be making the buffalo chicken pizza again (maybe a little more buffalo sauce on the base). All in all we had more than enough pizza and got to see a pretty good game (suck it Ben Rapelisberger).  I had defended my honor and pleased our guests.

I took pictures of each of the final pies as they came off but this is the only one that did not come out super blurry.
Sign from God? I'll let you decide.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We are the Champions: Brisket Chili

I hope I didn't give away the ending of this post with the title.  Oh well...  A few posts back I did a brisket that turned out less than stellar but very tasty.  The chili we made with it  was very different in taste to anything I had ever had but received high prise from all that tried it.  We made the chili in practice for the 4th Annual Liberty Park Chili Cook-off.

Well this past Saturday was the day of reckoning.  The Friday before, I had planned to get up some time around 6am to start the brisket but awoke to a downpour. The combination of the weather and the hour persuaded me to make my way back to bed.  The cook-off was scheduled to start at 4pm Saturday giving me plenty of time to smoke the brisket overnight Friday night assuming I would get a reprieve from the weather.  This was not in the cards.  It rained all day and into the evening forcing me to get creative and find some way to get this brisket going. So I did what any man would do, I built a shanty with a tarp and some twine...
I don't think rain would affect the egg or the cook but it sure does bother the hell out of me.

Prep:
I rubbed the brisket with a combination of Grillmates applewood rub and the Montreal steaks spicy rub.  I wrapped the brisket tightly in Saran wrap and placed it in the fridge overnight in prep for the Friday cook (because of the weather delay it got an extra day in the fridge with the rub)

Cooking:
I got the egg locked in to 250 with plenty of lump charcoal for the cook.  I added some hickory chips that had been soaking for several days and 2 hickory chunks that had been soaked for only an hour or so. This was more wood than I have added to any cook to this point and the first time I used chunks (I wanted to make sure this thing had a sweet smoke ring when done).  I placed the plate setter in legs up for indirect and used a drip pan and grate.  One of the major differences between this cook and the last was that I placed the brisket on the lambda rack (inverted v-rack) on top of the grate fat side down to protect the meat from too much heat.  I used the maverick meat probe entered near the fat tip of the brisket and the grill probe connected to the grate directly below the brisket.  I let the brisket cook overnight and the grill temp actually dropped from 250 to around 200 in this time [this actually turned out to be a good thing since the brisket stayed in the plateau even longer (see my last brisket post about the plateau temps)].  When I woke up I got the grill back up to 250 and let the brisket cook until it got to an internal temp of 190 (took about 15 hours total).  I pulled the brisket and immediately wrapped it in foil.  I put it in a cooler and let it rest for about 2 hours while we changed locations to prep the chili.

Notes:
This brisket turned out to be excellent.  Very tasty and moist with a bit of sweet applewood that was complimented by a lingering spice.  There was a very well defined pink smoke ring that can be seen in the image below.  I cut the brisket in slices as is traditional. I then sliced it longways and made cubes from these pieces for the chili.  We probably ate 2 pounds of the brisket during cooking and I shared the extra brisket with those at the cook-off.
The brisket sliced with a few examples of cubing pieces
(that is actually our tasting pile that kept growing and shrinking moments later).
   
Notice the well defined pink smoke ring around the edges of the meat.

Cubed for the chili and easy tasting.


The Chili

I figured I would write a bit about the chili I am so proud of.  I am not afraid to share the recipe as not many will be able to make the brisket the way I can (tip: see above).

Recipe:
3 pounds smoked brisket, chopped into small cubes
1/3 can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
6 tomatoes concasse
2 small cans tomato paste
2 medium onion, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 bottles Sweetwater IPA
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Frank's Hot Sauce
6 fire roasted red chili peppers

Spices:
2 tablespoons black course-ground pepper
2 tablespoons cumin
1 teaspoon ginger
2 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoon oregano
Olive oil

Puree the chipotles and red chili peppers. Combine all ingredients, except onion, garlic, spices and one beer, and simmer in a large pot. In a separate pan, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil. Add spices, then mix with chili. Simmer 2-3 hours, adding beer as needed to thin. Hint: The brown sugar will decrease the heat from the peppers, so add more if the chili is too spicy. Add more peppers if chili isn’t hot enough.

The ingredients (some already mixed):


This produced almost exactly one crockpot's worth of chili.  (We I was very concerned with the quantity of chili we had made and I was very vocal about it, I should not have worried).  The chili had great flavor. It was sweet on the front end and spicy on the back (I must have said this 150+ times Saturday night but it was very true and everyone agreed and appreciated my input except the couple next to me during serving).  It was very smokey in flavor and very hearty.  We came up with a clever name "3 Guys, 1 Brisket" and made a sign to highlight our key ingredients. 
I was concerned with how much chili we made but it turned out we had more than most and
were still serving when some of the others had long run out.

The competition included around 22 or so different chilies with prizes given for best overall, best unusual, and spiciest.  Some of the highlights were a pho chili, a chocolate mole chili, a fire in the hole chili, another brisket chili, a beef rib chili, and a jerk chicken chili.  Over 175ish people were in attendance at Red Brick Brewery for the event to taste chili and drink beer.  All in attendance were responsible for voting for one of the chilies as the best for each category.  Here are two reviews of the event that are better written than mine and have fewer sets of parentheses (I use a lot).  This one from a co-worker of the guy that won for spiciest (try to keep up) and this one is from one of the organizers and the author of Eat It, Atlanta.  There are some more pictures of the winning chilies (including ours) and the winners in the second review.

The results:
Not surprisingly, Fire in the Hole won spiciest with our chili, surprisingly, coming in second (I did not think ours was spicy at all).  The pho chili won best unusual (well deserved except I don't know what makes a chili a chili I guess). And.... drum roll please..... you guessed it!
The hardware.
Yours truly, very proud and slightly intoxicated. The beard is what put us over the edge.
The guys over at the Liberty Park Chili Society put on a great event and donated about $600 to the National MS Society.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fancy Pants: Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb

One of my friends used to work for the Buckhead branch of a snazzy little restaurant called Brio and the first thing she ever gave me to try was Gorgonzola lamb chops.  In that first instant of the tasting I both learned the marvels of Gorgonzola cheese and the brilliance of a good lamb chop. Since then, every time I go to Brio or a similarly fancy restaurant and I am in the mood to drop a little coin, I go for the lamb chops. Accordingly, when I saw the french rack of lamb in meat heaven (Sam's) I had to get it.  We planned to have the neighbors over and I had read a decent recipe for herb crusted rack of lamb in the BGE cookbook. All systems go...

Prep: 
After cutting the package open and complaining about the gamey smell of the lamb, MBH prepped the herb crust: 1/2 cup parsley, 1 tbsp minced shallots, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tbsp minced garlic in the food processor for about 15 secs. She then added salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking:
I preheated the egg for direct cooking to 450º.  I placed the rack fat side down on the grate for about 4 minutes and then removed them.  The rack was coated on all sides with Dijon mustard and the herbs were applied generously.  In the meantime, I took the grate off the BGE and placed the plate setter in legs down and got it to around 400º.  I stood the lamb on end, leaning bone up, into each other as seen in the first image below.  I inserted the Maverick thermometer meat probe I had just gotten into the rack and rested the grill probe on the stone.  I let it cook for about 20 minutes until it read 125º for medium rare.  I added some Gorgonzola to the outside of the rack to recreate what I had remembered (and since dreamed about) and let them go for 2 more minutes.  I came back in to cut them and learned that MBH and our guests preferred medium (or a little more pink than the purple color I had accomplished) so I threw them back on for another 10 minutes or so until the internal temp was 140º. Then I cut and served them.

Notes: 
I think the lamb was a little underdone when I first pulled them off but I think this was due to the placement of my probe.  I placed the probe near the top of the standing meat where it should have been more in the meaty part of the rack around the base.  The second time I pulled them off they looked more medium rare to me than medium.  The lamb had great texture and the Gorgonzola really added to the flavor.  If I get to do this again I think I would cook the lamb to about 125º, cut the chops and then add more herb crust and Gorgonzola to the cut edges of the meat and throw them back on the grill for a couple minutes.  However, because MBH is still concerned with the gamey smell and taste I don't know that I will ever get the opportunity to cook this again.

New Toys

So from my limited cooking experiences to this point I have already learned a few lessons and have begun to acquire some new tools of the trade and gotten some new toys to make life easier. Here are a few of the new toys and upgrades.

I do a majority of my cooking for dinner and during this time of year it is mostly dark by 6pm so I invested in a handy grill light.  It mounts on the back of the table, can be positioned to face whatever needs light at the moment, and is weather resistant (believe me, it has been tested).  I have an overhead light on my deck and a mag light I carry around with me while cooking but this little LED light is perfect for taking a look at the food on the grill as I can get it right inside the lid when it is open or snake it around to see the temp gage on the front of the egg.
You can kind of notice my storage box behind the egg.



MBH is a strong believer that no part of my grilling equipment should be anywhere near inside of the house.  So I came up with some nifty storage ideas including hooks for my grilling tools (a sweet gift set I got from FFIL for Christmas) and a storage "box" for all of my extraneous accessories, lump, and wood chips/chunks.  Also note the bottle opener for the grilling beers.  As can be seen, the set came with more tools than I realized so I will be adding another set of hooks to the other side of the table.



One of my least favorite parts about cooking in the winter is making the trek outside to check on the grill temperature and food temp.  I was also pretty convinced after my last brisket that my probe thermometer was a POS.  So I got a Maverick ET 732.  This bad boy has two probes so that you can simultaneously check the temperature at the cooking surface and the temperature of the meat you are cooking.  The best part is that it comes with a remote receiver so that I can keep an eye on both from the comfort of my couch.  You can also set alarms for if the grill temp gets too high or low and if the meat gets to the temperature you desire. I highly recommend this thing.

One future upgrade I hope to make would be to add a 2' X 2' granite piece to the right side of my table. This would serve both as a much needed cooking surface where I can do some prep work and an area I can set hot metal on without scarring my table.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Practice makes perfect: 5lb Brisket

I have long been a fan of chili and love everything about it.  So when one my good friends apprised me of his plan of making a chili for a local cook off, the competition bug inside of me made an appearance.  The cookoff I was now planning to enter was the Liberty Park Chili Cookoff. This would be their 4th annual competition hosted by two of my friends and PDT fraternity bros.  I had read about their past events and the generous donations made to charity from the event proceeds. 

The first step in my plan was to make a plan.  With as much egg cooking as I had been doing, I knew I needed to incorporate the BGE.  I had heard of people making brisket chilis but I had also read a lot about how hard it is to perfect.  So I called up some buddies and we established a team set for domination.  My concerns about making brisket were overwhelming so I decided we needed a practice run to see what we could come up with (I am very glad we did because my concerns were valid).

I had read a lot about making brisket and some of the techniques used.  A great number of people cook brisket fairly quickly for competitions and just out of shear laziness and then there are a lot of people that cook brisket as slow as possible to perfect it.  I wanted to be in the second group of people but the time I had alotted for cooking was somewhere between the two.

In this post I will talk mostly about the brisket I made and the chili/competition brisket will be featured in a later post with cookoff results.  I regretably only took one picture during this cook but will make up for it in the future.

Prep:
As I mentioned above, I did not save myself enough time to do this thing perfectly so I had to work with what I had.  I had a good bit of the spicy Montreal steak rub left form my steak cook a week or so before.  I used this as well as some garlic powder, salt, and pepper to rub the brisket.  I let the brisket sit while I got the grill ready.

Cooking:
I got the grill going and locked it in at about 325º.  I added plenty of hickory chips, the inverted plate setter, a drip pan, and grate.  I placed the brisket directly on the grate fat side down as I had read.  I let the egg smoke it for 4 or so hours and began checking it with a temperature probe (come to find out weeks later, the probe I was using was 15º under the actual temperature of the meat).  I checked the meat until it reached 185º and pulled it off to rest for 1 hour before slicing and cubing for the chili. 


Notes:
Brisket gets to an internal temperature plateau in the range of 125º-160º and at times can actually drop in internal termperature in this range during a low and slow cook.  The goal for brisket cooking is to maintain this plateau as long as possible to keep the meat tender.  In this first attempt, I blew right through the plateu to make sure I finished on time.  As mentioned above, I also pulled the brisket off around 200º rather than the 185º I thought the meat was at due to the probe malfunction (I have since gotten a new toy to remedy this).  When slicing I noticed that the outter crust of the brisket was very tough and extrememly hard to cut.  The tips of the brisket were very over done and inedible.  The inside of the brisket was ok though it was not as tender as other briskets I have eaten. I cubed it up and used half for the chili and half for an appetizer.  I got several compliments on the flavor but I knew it could have been better.  I was very disappointed even though the chili turned out great and we knew we had created something special.  Little did I know that I would cook a killer brisket weeks later when it mattered. 

That Which Cannot be Named: Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Pork Loin

When FFIL first mentioned this idea to me several things went through my head, the first of which was what will I call this thing when I write about it.  The second thing I thought was what the hell is this thing going to taste like. Here is the idea:
  • Butterfly a pork loin
  • Place buffalo chicken and blue cheese in the center
  • Re-assemble loin
  • Cook and eat
So the first thing we did was get the loin together and this was no easy task.

Prep:
The chicken was seared with some onions and garlic on the stove top and then tossed in Frank's buffalo wing sauce.  The chicken was cut fairly small and was spread over the butterflied loin.  We used a blue jack cheese (which I had never heard of) to top the chicken.  We then tried to re-tie our overstuffed loin.  I wish we would have videoed this portion of the prep.  Imagine two guys rolling up an overstuffed loin and trying to tie it, all the while re-stuffing the loin with the chicken that would fall out of the ends.  When one of us would re-stuff the loin, the chicken stuffing would come out the other end.  This went on for several minutes and probably could have been a part of any Three Stooges episode. Finally we got it tied up after we made a bit of a mess.  We covered the outside of the loin with some Hidden Valley ranch seasoning and took the log-o-delicious straight to the BGE.

Cooking:
We did this cook on FFIL's XL BGE in Conyers. I got the egg up to 450º and did a 4 sided sear on the loin (about 1 minute on each side).  We pulled it off and let it rest for a few minutes while I brought the temperature of the egg down to around 325º. We left the egg setup for direct cooking with loin now resting on the v-rack.  We let it cook until the internal temperature reached 145º which took a little over 1 hour.  We brought it back in to try to figure out what we had just created.


Notes:
This thing was very interesting.  The flavors were all over the place but worked very well with each other.  The pork was very juicy and moist and the chicken was very flavorful.  It was hard to taste the cheese we used and I actually ended up adding some blue cheese dressing to my piece.  Very tasty and very filling.  We had over half of this bad boy left over when finished.  The girls had some interesting opinions on it but I noticed that each of them had a clean plate in the end. The leftovers lasted me all week and I was more than sick of it by the time I finished it.


Friday, February 4, 2011

What are ya...Chicken?: BBQ Chicken Breasts

After the nights steak cook, the grill was still hot and I had some chicken that needed to be cooked.  The chicken breasts had not been marinated but were defrosted in the fridge so I had to come up with something fairly quick.  I puled the breasts out and rubbed them with Cavendar's greek seasoning (that sentence was borderline X-rated). I threw them on the grill at 400º and came back 15 minutes later to brush the chicken breasts with Williamson Bros BBQ sauce.  I flipped the breasts and brushed them with some more BBQ and closed the lid.  I came back in 15 minutes and checked the chicken for doneness by cutting into the largest breast.  They were done so I gave them one final rub down and brought them inside.


I used these for work lunches for the week and they were fantastic.  I would definitely cook these again  and soon.  I usually bring chicken to work for lunch but rarely do they have as much flavor as these had.  Success.

Raisin' the Steaks: NY Strip Steaks

This had to be one of my favorite cooks yet (mostly due to the extreme temperatures I was able to get the BGE up to and boy do I love me some fire).  I had had a craving for steaks since I got the egg but steak just seemed so easy and meh compared to the other craziness I had been cooking.  Yet, it was time to raise the steaks (I did not come up with this clever catch phrase, it is actually the name of a steak rub I want to try). I got some nice NY Strips at Publix on sale. SCOOP! I brought them home and let them rest outside the fridge for a while until the steaks were room temperature (this is something I am not used to doing but read several different places that it increases the tenderness of the steak when cooked). After resting them I began prepping them.

Prep:
I rubbed the steaks with salt, pepper, and garlic salt when MBH surprised me by coming home with some Montreal Steaks Spice Rub.  I added some of this to the steaks and headed off to get the grill going.
The steaks after rubbing. They greyed a little from being at room temperature for a bit too long (no harm done).
Cooking:
When going for high temps I usually light the grill in several spots to ensure the grill gets hot quicker.  After lighting, I placed the grate on to heat and left the vent open and the daisy wheel off.  I was shooting for 750º and when i came back I was almost there (725º) and a little bit of a surprise...
Flames were shooting out of the top of the egg and the temp was right around 725º.
When it got up to 750º I burped the egg to prevent flashback and threw the steaks on to sear for 90 seconds on each side.  I left the lid open during searing...
At 750º the lump begins to look like lava.
After the sear, the steaks were allowed to rest for 20 minutes.  In this time I threw the rain cap on the egg and shut the bottom vent to get it to cool to right around 400º.  After the rest period and egg cooling, I threw the steaks on the BGE for 5 minutes on each side (I left MBH's steak on for an extra minute since she doesn't understand that good cuts of meat are best eaten slightly pink).  I pulled the steaks off and let them rest a few more minutes while the other food was plated.

Notes:
This was one of the best steaks i have ever eaten.  It was perfectly done and seared to perfection.  The Montreal steaks rub was very tasty and definitely had a kick of spice after each bite.  The spaghetti squash and broccoli we served it with rounded out this perfect meal. 


The food was plentiful and I was stuffed so i did not finish my steak that night.  I instead reheated it and had it for breakfast with eggs and toast the next morning.
Wish I could have this for breakfast everyday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Lone 'Za: Nana's Pizza

Two days after my first pizza cook and few lessons learned under my belt, I was dying to get my hands on some more pizza dough.  I was home alone (MBH was on travel) and I knew making pizza for myself was a big ordeal but I decided it must be done.  I rushed out to publix to see if they had any defrosted dough balls and to my elation they did!  I grabbed two dough balls and headed home.  I immediately cut one of the balls in half and threw the other in the freezer.  I let the dough rest and pulled the pizza sauce out.  (We had a good bit of sauce left from the first cook since we had doubled the recipe.)  I cut some fresh oregano and basil and used minced garlic for this pie.  (I love garlic and could eat tons of it. MBH despises the way it makes my breathe smell so I added extra to this pie since she was out of town.)

Prep:
I reheated the sauce we made for the first cook.  After the cut dough was allowed to rest for 2 hours I began to shape it on the parchment paper.  I did the dough a little thicker than I had in the past to avoid toppings jeopardizing my pizza's structural integrity (engineer speak for keeping my pizza from falling apart). I added the toppings to the pie (I decided to go with two Nana's pizzas with a little extra garlic on each) and got the grill going.

Prepped pie... mmmmm garlic!

Cooking:
In my previous attempt I had only gotten the BGE up to 500ish.  This time I was going all out and got the egg up to 625ish.  I used the same setup as my first cook and threw the pizzas on one at a time.  This time, they only took about 10 minutes and came out perfectly.  I left the za on the parchment paper throughout the cook and slid them off of the paper onto the cutting board when finished.

Notes:
The thicker crust and higher temps made this pizza the shiz.  The crust had the perfect crisp to it.  I have not had a better pizza in any restaurant in town.  I had tons of pizza left over and spent the entire week eating pizza.  I was in heaven...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pizza, Pizza! (I miss Little Ceasar's): Supreme, Nana's Pizza

One of the most perplexing aspects of the BGE is its ability to be set up to distribute heat similar to an oven.  Combine this with its ability to get extremely high temperatures and you might as well have an authentic Italian brick oven.  From the first time I watched the owner's dvd (I watched it with FFIL when he got his XL years before I got my L. (FFIL says that I will develop egg envy eventually)) I knew that I was going to cook the hell out of some pizza.  I did a lot of reading on making 'za before I ever attempted and one of the most useful things I read about was the quality of the baking stone you use at such high temps.  I learned that the Pampered Chef (PC) stone we use in the oven would not survive the temp that pizza should be cooked at in the egg. So my first step towards perfecting pizza was to get a BGE pizza stone.  The stone is much thicker than it's PC counterpart and therefore more resilient. Before I could make any pizza I also realized I had nothing to get the pizza off the BGE with so I invested in a pizza peel from target.


One of the most important aspects of pizza is the dough.  I had read about Publix selling pizza dough balls in their bakery and decided that I should buy the ball rather than make it for my first attempt.  So I grabbed one of their frozen balls and let it thaw overnight. The next day the cook was on...

Prep:
I had MBH pull the ball out about 2 hours before we planned to make the pizza and cut it in half about 1 hour before we planned to cook. The purpose of this was to let the dough rise and make it more shape able.  The dough was stretched and shaped into something resembling a pizza.  We then made the sauce:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-oz can whole tomatoes
1 sprig fresh oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
Heat the oil in a 1-1/2 qt sauce pan. Cook the onion and garlic until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir as necessary. Add tomatoes, crushing lightly with your hands as you add them. Be sure to add the juice, too. Strip the leaves of oregano from the stem and then chop roughly. Add the oregano and the sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally for about 20-30 minutes, until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

We added the sauce to the stretched dough and added the toppings.  On one pizza we added sauteed ground turkey, onions, banana peppers, green peppers, basil, oregano, and fresh mozzarella.  On the second we added basil oregano and mozzarella.  The second was a 'za modeled after the Nana's special at one of our favorite pizzerias, Varasano's.

(I have pictures of the prepped pies to add here)


Cooking:
I preheated the grill to 550º with the daisy wheel completely off the top.  I had the plate setter placed in feet down with the green feet on top of that to raise the pizza stone.  We made the pizzas on parchment paper and just dropped this on to the pizza stone.  I watched the pizzas through the top of the grill until they were done, it took about 20 minutes per pie.

Notes:
When first stretching the dough, I folded it in on itself a few times which made it impossible to stretch.  I would not do this in the future as it needs to re-rise.  I thought the sauce was really good but the pizzas were a bit thin and fell apart when eating.  I would also cook on higher heat next time.  I think the quicker the pizzas get done the better so I would definitely attempt 600º+. All in all, this cook has just furthered my desire to perfect pizza cooking on the BGE.