Yet another apology for the transition from three-rib pork chops and 24-ounce prime rib eye steaks to tofu and salmon. Discussion of heirloom pumpkins iinstead of heritage breeds of cattle and hogs. The photographs still look good, but it just is not the same.
It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times
Nuts and berries. I even got Victory to have a low fat menu for me.
A Happy Heart is a Healthy Heart
I’ve almost stopped grilling, but I have gotten my cholesterol count down from the low 300s into the 180s again. Living on fish, tofu, corn, tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and fresh fruit is not a hardship. Giving up cheese, sauces, and salad dressing is not a hardship. Giving up fancy desserts is not a hardship. Giving up beer would have been impossible. I have not tried. My new Bennington Pottery photographs will and makes this easier.
Making the best of a Bad Situation: If you Can't have Meat, Crill Chilean Sea Bass
To many of the entries that follow will be about fruits and berries, or tofu. This one at least is about a gutsy, fiery jerk Chilean sea bass.
Home Mere My Grill Rests Silently Smoking for Me (Part 2)
After five weeks in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Beijing, I needed a pizza and I needed some smoked grilled meats. I ate well. I found beer at Great Leap that was good enough for me to invest in the brewery. But once home, I needed pizza with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, garlic, spinach, and calamari. The next night I had fresh local corn, asparagus, and a giant New York Strip Steak. The steak was rubbed with my own extra-fiery Cajun rub and smoked over oak from old California Cabernet barrels. I served it with fresh corn, fresh white asparagus, and another great bottle of beer, this time a 2009 Vintage Rodenbach Flemish Red. I was indeed glad to be home.
My First Greek Easter
A blog post of my first Greek Easter, where a large number of interesting people ate a large amount of interesting food. Think of this as a guest post - I did not do the cooking.
Breakfast, Pork Steaks, Again
The aftermath of the dinner party on the 23rd. Breakfast of pork steaks and papaya, just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow. That's what happens when you serve a 5 1/2 pound pork roast, a side of salmon, and a dozen hamburgers to less than a dozen people. Too much dinner becomes breakfast and lunch.
The Dinner Party that Has to be Perfect (Part 2)
The day for the party arrived. Logistics were so complex that I prepared an interactive spreadsheet using the TIME function in Excel so that I could do sensitivity analysis. With nine beers the evening could have ended in chaos, except that we provided for pouring out anything we did not actually love, and it ended in a sober beer tutorial instead.
The Dinner Party that Has to be Perfect (Part 1)
The daughter of one of my “Chinese Brothers” is coming to Philadelphia. This is a perfect excuse for me to provide a barbecue feast, for the fun of it and as a way of saying “thank you” for the number of times they have hosted me in Beijing. Lots of courses. Cambodian Ginger Garlic Honey pork steaks, Cognac sweet brined apple wood smoked salmon, and burgers provided the mains. Home smoked cheese and home smoked Andouille sausage highlighted the nibbles. I started preparing at 5 AM the day before.
Glad to be Home, Again
After weeks in Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore, I needed a steak. I needed a really big steak and a really big baked potato. And I needed them now.
Glad to be Home
After four weeks in Egypt and India I expected to come home with a craving for cheeseburgers, pizza, and ribe eye steaks. Instead I came home with a craving for very, very, very spicy Indian food and for very, very, very good American craft beer. Still, after a couple of weeks at home I was ready to get back to grilling and smoking. Cold weather provides the perfect conditions for smoking cheese. Grilling swordfish provides its own challenges, if you want a good char on a Cajun blackening rub, a rich smoke flavor, and a medium rare slice of fish. Once again, cold weather suggests a solution.
Grilling in the Snow (Or, planes, trains, and automobiles)
When snow interfered with outdooring grilling, the birds did not fit in the kitchen oven, and a power failure knocked out the Plan-C electric smoker. Even the foxes wanted shelter from the storm.
Homeward Bound (Home where my grill stands smoking. Silently for me)
After ten days in China, it was time for some good beer and some smoked chops when I got home. I real needed fire, smoke, Cajun spices, and hops.
Pork! Pork!! Pork!!! (That is, No More Chicken)
No matter how well it photographs, I could not stand the idea of barbecuing chicken one more time. This blog focuses more on making the honey ginger fish sauce marinade and preparing the chops then it does on the ingredients or on the cooking.
With Chicken Barbecue It's All About the Photography
With chicken barbecue, it's just about the photography. Yes, a good, fiercely hot rub and an hour or more of thick blue smoke — fire and smoke — do help. But it still tastes and feels like chicken. The joy is in the photography, not in the eating.
Yet Another Chicken Barbecue, In Which We Learn A Sad Lesson About Cleaning
Switching from dry rubbed steaks to wet marinated chicken demands two cautionary notes. (1) Wet is wet. Clean your grill the way you would clean a vertical wet smoker. Otherwise the inevitable surprises will not be pleasant! (2) Don't over-process your ginger and garlic. If you beat your spices into a slimy paste, the interaction among the spices, the smell of the fish sauce, and your imagination will not be pleasant, especially after looking at a dirty grill.
Yet Another Chicken Barbecue
A Cambodian honey ginger marinade for baby back ribs was used on boneless chicken thighs, with some success. Several international graduate students shared dinner, and since their cholesterol counts were all significantly lower they were allowed to eat grilled dry aged prime hamburgers instead.
A Chicken By Any Other Name Would Still be a Chicken (Or Out, Out Damned Bird?)
A repeat of the beer can chicken experiment, with newer and better equipment, working towards an honorable goal. The barbecue was used to prepare for a white meat and other white meat chili.
What's Worse than a Low Credit Score?
Your Barbecue Blogger Deals with High Bad Cholesterol Numbers
It's Summer: Corn, Tomatoes, Burgers, and Beer
Well, yes. Time for beefsteak tomatoes with Vidalia onions and crumbled blue cheese, corn, and prime beef burgers. It's also time for young wildlife to wander through our yard.
Life Without Paprika
My closest advisor, my MIT undergraduate advisor, and his wife, trash my Basic Red Rub for excessive and indiscriminate use of paprika. A crisis of confidence ensues, in which I temporarily abandon all use of paprika. Alternative recipes are provided.
July 4th Weekend Barbecue
A summary of traditional, and not so traditional, holiday weekend excess. Don’t forget the corn and tomatoes.
Di Shui Dong (滴水洞) Cumin Ribs
Unable to find the one true Di Shui Dong recipe for Cumin Ribs, I did my best to replicate a Shanghai classic.
Excess is More Fun than Moderation
Wine and beer, an ‘82 Bordeaux and a Belgian Quad, accompany individual 2 ¼ pound bone-in rib eyes.
Continuing the Mayo Clinic theme, I worked on moderation and tradeoffs. Smaller meat portions provided the moderation, more beer and more spice provided the tradeoff!
The Multi-Ethnic Seder
A wide range of graduate students and friends, of very different cultures, got together for lamb and celebration.
Not Quite the Mayo Clinic Diet
Sadly, I discovered that each of my favorite big, caged and corked 750 ml Belgian beers is the equivalent of 6 desserts and that the caloric load of each of my 18 ounce Cajun blackened rib eyes counts as six entrees. With 42 desserts and 42 dinners a week it is hard not to gain weight, not matter how much time you spend in the gym!
The Conflagration, and the Dinner Party that Almost Never Ate
It was cold, and I huddled inside with my guests, timing the barbecue. The fates, and a run-away grease fire, made sitting inside a very bad idea.
The Dinner Party that Almost Never Was
Bitingly cold, just above 0. Not exactly the best time to smoke some jerked pork or a side of salmon, especially if most of your guests can't make it because of the weather!
Choucroute, Choucroute, Choucroute
Go to Stoltzfus. Buy 20 pounds of smoked pork, pork sausage, ham, ham hocks, sauerkraut. Cook with potatoes, apples, onions, and a bottle of white wine. Serves everyone you know. Twice.
The modestly named Fifth Floor Restaurant in the Hotel Palomar in San Francisco deserves its Guide Michelin star. If you are there for dinner ask for one of Amy's tables and order whatever she recommends. If you are there for breakfast, order the corned beef hash. The hash inspired this take on an old chop house favorite, Homage Hash, made with baked potatoes, sautéed onions, and rare, smoked dry aged prime rib eye steaks. In homage to the breakfast chef, of course.
Thanksgiving Smoked Salmon
Cognac, salt, sugar, and smoke are good. More is better. Even more is not. Detailed directions on when enough is enough, and how much is too much.
New Pig Man, Take a (Humble) Bow
Jerk pork prepared with perfect local pork chops from Stoltzfus Jerk pork recipe is repeated, with a link to Kalustyan, a spice vendor who has hard to find items like dried habaneros.
Auditioning for Local Beef, Unsuccessfully
While fresh local pork and lamb may be wonderful, fresh local beef is, well, too fresh. Dry aged beef sears and chars; fresh local beef sort of boils on the grill.
Moving On and Auditioning for Lamb
Mainline Prime is gone and the process of auditioning for new butchers has begun. I used routine supermarket pork loin for jerk, which worked fine. But I found a butcher, Stoltzfus, who can get me lamb spareribs. Cajun blackened lamb spareribs continue to be a standout offering for my Islamic friends who don't eat pork, even if we go through more soft drinks than usual.
Home Made Lox
No, lox or gravelax is not exactly barbecue; it's not cooked, it's not even smoked. But you can make it at home, and it takes lots of time, and for most of the time you are doing nothing but waiting. A lot like barbecue.
Cheap Chops without Derek
Now that Derek's Main Line Prime is gone the way of the markets and our savings, I am using mass market pork in place of heritage Kurobuta.
Memorial Day Ribs
Six-hour hickory smoked ribs are the centerpiece for a Memorial Day Weekend barbecue; recipe for a mild basic red rub provided.
Let the Salmon Speak for Itself
A simple piece of good fish needs very little preparation before smoking over pecan wood.
Rib Eye and Victory
Still glad to be home from five weeks in Asia, still glad to be eating light food like rib eye steaks and drinking at Victory.
Chunk of Meat
After five weeks in Asia I am glad to be home; fried noodles, dim sum, and Peking Duck may not be any heavier than a New York strip and a buttery baked potato, but my body was raised on one kind of heavy and not the other. Sadly, we are forced to adjust to life without Mainline Prime.
Yes, the market was up, but who knew for how long ... so a simple cut of pork, at a surprisingly low price, formed the centerpiece for another econo-din. The meat was a more-than-adequate foil for wood smoke and fiery rubs.
Market Recovery Meat
In which we return to the joys of Main Line Prime, real meats, grilled over wood smoke.
Cognac Brined Grilled Salmon
Julia is home from U of Chicago. Dorms are a wonderful place to live but not to eat fresh fish. We attempt to rectify this at once.
Discount Pork Chops
In which we continue the deep dive into inexpensive well rubbed meats, abandoning even Wegmans for the local supermarket, Genuardis. A provide the recipe for my Jamaican Jerk rub.
Discount Wegmans New York Strips
Another entry in the series of inexpensive well rubbed meats, this time with a photo of an indignant field mouse who has taken up residence underneath my grill.
Discount Wegmans Pork Chops
In which we continue the market meltdown series of inexpensive well rubbed meats.
A repeat of the organic, grain-finished, New York strips from Main Line Prime, this time with a Cajun blackening spice, and served with an array of photogenic vegetables such as oyster mushrooms and sautéed poblano peppers.
A quick trip to Victory for fries, barbecue, and beer.
Heavily salted, sweetened, and cured salmon, then grilled without smoke.
Trying out a slightly different cut of meat, a leaner, 100% organic New York strip steak, in which the stock yards cheat by grain feeding the cattle briefly. Not quite as lean as grass fed, but more flavorful. Nothing compares to a dry aged Charolais prime New York strip from Main Line Prime, but one must occasionally honor one's cardiologist and his demands. Served with a fierce dry Jamaican Jerk rub, and producing some of my favorite photographs.
Hereford Rib Steaks
A repeat of Hereford Rib Steaks with Cajun blackening rub. My photography coach Mike Zorn declared that it was time for me to start working on something that produced more difficult photographic environments, like rapidly moving subjects in an unevenly lit environment. A few Wharton Follies photographs are therefore tacked on at the end.
Cajun-Blackened Veal Chops
Cajun spicing works a lot better than jerk rubs; jerk and veal seem to fight. Doesn't really matter. We're switching to a more politically correct chop.
Another Rack of Lamb
Just photography practice, really. Garlic and rosemary, no spicy rubs, and a carefully controlled photo shoot.
Jerk Pork Again
A repeat of fiery Jamaican Jerk pork, prepared under the most un-Jamaican of conditions. Another arctic grilling experience.
In which we explore the fiery piquin pepper, adding one pepper to a quart of chili, and learn sad facts about the pepper and about the human body.
Steak and lamb ribs provide my first recent experience with grilling in single digit temperatures.
New Year's Eve
Old favorites, cognac-cured smoked salmon, smoked leg of lamb, and Veuve Clicquot 1988 reemerge for a holiday dinner.
Panini and Photography Practice
Yes, the panini of mozzarella, capicolla, and Roman artichokes were tasty, but this exercise was about the photography and each of the photos is labeled with details such as ISO settings, f-stop, and shutter speed.
Veal Chops and Photography Practice
Veal ribs, sweet potato and spinach curry, and brown rice serve as the foil for another photography practice session.
Guest Posting: Wife-Away Random Rub Pork Chops
Michael Zorn, a professional photographer, serious barbecue veteran, and accomplished story-teller posts an adventure with Scotch bonnets, pork chops, and the need to care for a small baby.
Pork Chops, Smoked Pizza, and Speed Lights
Tonight's log is less about food tonight than about finally getting my cameras to cooperate with me. To get the results I want from the Nikon Digital D300 I need to use a moderate to high f-stop for good depth of field, a fast shutter speed to deal with heat shimmy from the grill, and a low ISO to reduce grain. This is just more than the built-in flash on the D300 can handle.
A Field Trip to Victory
The Wharton Brewmasters Guild took a field trip to Victory Brewing, sampled their beers, and got a guided tasting. This was a little different. I did not cook. I did not brew.
In which we learn that the best meats do not always call for the hottest spices.
Covering the basic food groups of salt, grease, alcohol, sugar, and chocolate.
Getting ready for a wife-away weekend, with beer, pickles, steak, ribs, and chops.
Another take on Market Meltdown Chicken — Jerked
Baked chicken legs, then covered with a dry jerk rub and finished at high heat over smoke from hickory and allspice berries.
Mozzarella, capicolla, fresh pesto and fresh tomato, on a bagel finished off in a panini press.
A double-cut Duroc Heritage pork chop with a dry Jamaican Jerk rub, a great beer, and some terrified wildlife.
The Perfect Sandwich
Mozzarella, capicolla, sliced artichokes, finished off in a panini press.
Taking a break from the pain of market meltdown, we revert to serious beer purchases, Jamison lamb chops, and Hereford rib steaks.
Still continuing the theme of market meltdown recipes, this time using store-brand baby-back rips instead of Main Line Prime Duroc. The rub was a fiery hot, sweetly complex combination of dried Scotch Bonnets and crushed cayenne with allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg. I also managed to work in a panini subsection.
Saffron Yogurt Chicken
Continuing the theme of market meltdown recipes, this time using Perdue chicken.
Market Crash Chicken
Plain old, dirt cheap store brand econ-pack chicken with a Cornell marinade; when the market is melting down, who has money to waste on Charolais?
Quick Mixed Grill Barbecue
Hereford New York strip steak with Cajun rub and Jamison Lamb chops with rosemary and garlic, smoked over mesquite. Leftovers provided a great excuse to play with my panini press.
Fast and Easy Duroc Pork Chops
Consistent, good, and fast, Duroc double thick pork chops with Cajun rub can be made firstname.lastname@example.org almost any grill. They work best when smoked over hickory or mesquite.
Barbecue Tails (2), My Quick Hit Hurry-Up Favorites
Each of these dishes enjoys fast prep and fast cooking time, and they photograph well. Includes bone-in Bison rib steaks, bone-in Charolais Prime Beef rib steaks, lamb chops, pork chops, grilled salmon, and smoked scallops. There are rub suggestions for the pork chops and rib steaks. Everything photographs well.
Barbecue Tails (1), My Equipment, Suppliers, and Coaches
I had so much to learn, and so much help learning it. The electric Bradley wet smoker is slow and reliable, the big Summit 450 Weber gas grill with smoker box and rotisserie is fast and reliable, and for an old coals guy both seem like cheating, but they work really well. You'll also want a supplier of recipes, great meats, and great spices.
Duroc Pulled Pork Shoulders
Pulled pork is one of the easiest-sounding, most complex dishes the home griller will attempt. It's easy to get the smoky taste right but extremely difficult to get the pull-apart texture right with the equipment most of us have available at home. After I learned from several unsuccessful attempts, I finally got it right and this post tells how to make North Carolina pulled pork at home.
Smoked Salmon and Duroc Pork Ribs
With scary gourmet company coming I prepared two dishes, never fail smoked salmon (see the post for 12 September) and an entire crown roast of Duroc pork. The timing of the roast was more complex than that of individual chops, but both worked well.
Hereford Rib Chops
An exercise in excess. I used a Cajun rub on two huge Hereford Cowboy Steaks, bone-in rib steaks, also known as Steer Chops or even Rack of Steer in my house. Hereford is a wonderfully flavorful heritage breed, which I found far superior to Angus. The steaks were served blackened and rare, with a bottle of Cos d'Estournel, rice, coleslaw, and a Greek salad. They were also huge, so they were served again, and again, until they were finally consumed.
Greek Leg of Lamb with Roasted Potatoes and Egg Lemon Sauce
The lamb was seasoned with lemon juice, oregano, and garlic, and allowed to sit for 24 hours. I then smoked it long enough to provide distinct oak smoke notes, and then roasted for hours in a Dutch oven with red wine and potatoes. We served it with egg lemon sauce, Greek Salad, oven-baked Greek eggplant, feta cheese, and tomatoes.
Never-Fail Smoked Salmon
A consistent, easy preparation of salmon, flavored with cognac, brined in salt and turbinado sugar, and then slow smoked over apple or pecan wood.
Grilled Veal Chop
This was fast and easy, looked great, and requires almost no explanation.
A First, Pulled Pork that Pulls
Apparently pulled pork is more complicated than it appears, and my first couple of attempts failed, including pulled pork from the night before. Home smoking equipment does not seem to be up to the job, but the dedicated barbecue guy can triumph over a dead pig.
Jerked Pork and Beer
The jerked pork was a big hit with guests and few extra teenage boys found a way to demolish six or seven pounds of pork. My 21-year-old nephew induced me to share too much beer with him and the next morning I concluded that nothing exceeds like excess.
Pulled pork continues to stump me. After hours and hours of smoking I have some pretty good sliced pork, but nothing that can be called pulled pork.
Lamb and Duroc Pork Spare Ribs
This wasn't fast or easy. The lamb ribs got the spicy Cajun rub, the pork ribs got the milder Memphis rub. Both were smoked at low heat for hours over a combination of wood smokes, and then the lamb ribs were finished at high heat on a grill.
Mixed Grill of Veal Chops and Lamb Chops
Fast prep, just rub previously mixed Cajun spices on the veal chop. Quick cooking, just heat the grill and cook the meat. Photographs nicely.
Steak, Steak, Steak
In which we attempt to answer the old question, are all New York Strips created equal? And the answer is, most definitely not. A good dry aged Charolais trumps a simpler prime cut, and a marvelous Wagyu Kobe from Japan proves to be too rich for my simple taste.
Dry Aged Bison Ribs
Bison is great, Memphis rub is great, but dry aged bison is just too funky even for a spicy rub to hide. Photographs well, but we won't eat this again.
A Quick Introduction to Bison
We try simple bison burgers and Memphis rub on a bison rib steak. Both are delightful.
Smoked Standing Rib Roast
Time consuming, visually stunning as it smokes, but probably not the best way to cook a prime rib now that indoor cooking has been invented.
A First Rib Smoking for Company
Beef ribs look great but they are even fattier than lamb spare ribs or pork spare ribs. Our friends are still not speaking to us about this dinner and I have never made beef ribs again.