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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prosciutto, Peas, and Parmesan

I am happy to say that our garden is starting to produce.  The other night, we had enough snap peas for a meal.  Or, should I say, enough made it into the house while Ty and Hope were picking them for a meal?  Either way, I thought long and hard about how to prepare these little sweet treats.  Prosciutto jumped to mind.  Something salty and crispy would complement our peas nicely.  Off to the R&D kitchen!

First, I put four ounces of finely diced prosciutto into a sauté pan on low heat.  At this point, I am trying to warm up prosciutto and render out the fat so that the peas will sauté nicely.


While this was going on, Hope was nice enough to prepare the peas for cooking.  She pulled the string off of the edge and rinsed to remove any dirt.


Once the fat had rendered from the prosciutto, I turned the heat up to medium to start the crisping process.


Once I started to get some crisp on the prosciutto, I added the peas.  During the cooking process, I stirred well every 30 seconds or so to ensure even cooking and prevent burning.


After about five minutes of cook time for the peas, they were done.  At this point they were tender crisp and had a bit a caramelization from the prosciutto fat.  I added three garlic cloves through the garlic press and I also tossed in the 10 leftover green beans from the night before, then mixed well.


Onto the plate they went.  I then topped with some crushed red pepper flake and fresh grated Parmesan cheese.


Outstanding.  Just enough flavor and crispiness from the prosciutto to complement the snap peas.  The Parmesan cheese on top brought it all together.  I served with crusty bread and a side salad for a nice, quick, and healthy week night dinner.  More from the garden as the summer continues.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Grilled BBQ Steelhead

We love salmon around here.  Especially steelhead salmon.  There is an added flavor to steelhead that you just don't have with salmon.  Perhaps it is because it is milder and a bit fattier in my opinion.  Lucky for us we can buy it at Costco for $5.99 a pound when on sale and it is reasonably priced when not on sale.

We try and eat steelhead about once a week.  But, as I am sure most of you have experienced, you get bored with the same foods prepared the same way, week after week.  So, this past week, I decided to experiment with our steelhead.  Off to the R&D labs.

After thawing our steelhead, I rinsed well and patted dry.


Then, I put a thin coating of Oakridge BBQ Game Bird and Chicken rub on my fillet and let sit on the counter top for the rub to form a liquid crust.  Don't get heavy handed with your rub application.  you do not want to over power the flavor of the fish.  You just want to compliment the flavors.


Then, I fired up the charcoal grill.  When ready, I placed the fillets on direct heat.


When the fat starts to come out of the meat, that is the first indication you are almost done.


I applied a very thin coating of Blues Hog Tennessee Red BBQ sauce to my fillet.  Any BBQ sauce will work.  I would suggest one with a higher vinegar content such as the Tennessee Red.  The acidity cuts through the fattiness of the steelhead.  I brushed the sauce on the fish, closed the lid, and came back five minutes later.  Done!

I served with fresh corn on the cob and collard greens.  More on the greens later.  Ours are just about ready to pick in our garden.


BBQ pairs well with steelhead.  The flavors of the rub and sauce go well with this meaty fish.  If you are bored with the same old fish, give this a try.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The All American BBQ Festival - Warren PA

This past weekend, the Three Dogs BBQ road show packed up and headed to Pittsfield, PA for The All American BBQ Festival.  Here is a recap of the weekend.

First, it was nice to show up and set up in sunny weather.  More on how that turned out later...


We really liked the venue.  Shaded lots, dedicated electric and water, and lots of room to spread out.  A great venue for a competition if you ask me.  Unfortunately, there was a 4H horse competition tied to the event as well.  I had to keep a short leash on Hope so that things would get done around the trailer.


Preparation went smoothly.  Since Pittsfield is only about two hours away, we were done early in the afternoon and had some time to mingle with our friends.


After the outstanding potluck that was organized by Melissa and John (Rikk, that Mac and Cheese rocks.  You need to turn that in sometime!), we fired up the smokers and got down to cooking.


It was a great evening up until about 3 am.  The first drops of rain started to fall at that point.  From then on, the rain kept getting heavier and steadier, resulting in some muddy conditions.  Just look at this action photo of Che saucing his ribs in the mud.  Walking to the turn in tent was an exercise in not slipping with your box.


The situation brightened a bit with the 10 am shot.  Thanks to Red Valley and Pig Iron BBQ for organizing.  This was definitely needed on this cold and rainy morning.



So, after our liquid pep rally, onto the scores.  First up, chicken.


This box placed 4th out of 21 teams.  Chicken is our strongest category and we were not disappointed.  Unfortunately, we fell off a cliff after this turn-in...


Our ribs came in 17th place.  We received four good scores and two sets of scores that did not match with the other four.  But, I can understand.  They were a bit underdone.  I have found that spares can tend to not be uniform in meatiness.  This leads to over done and under done racks.  We are seriously thinking about a switch to baby backs for our next competition.  They tend to be a bit more uniform.


Our pork came in 19th.  I have no idea what went wrong.  It was perhaps a bit over sauced.  We will have to work on this a bit before our next competition.

As for brisket, it was looking so good at one point...


But, upon slicing, the flat was overdone.  Therefore, the thick slices.


The burnt ends were spot on.  The brisket was way over done.  Just need to keep an eye on cook times the next time around.  This brisket came in 20th overall.

When you tally everything up, we ended up 18th out of 21 teams.  A great way to waste a good chicken score.

But, as always, we had a great weekend and met new friends.  Mort's Meat Mafia were our neighbors and first time competitors.  They were great to be around and finished 13th for the weekend.  Great showing for your first time out.  Keep it up!

Thanks also go out to Melissa and John for organizing a great event, especially a great pot luck and ice cream after turn ins.

Congrats also go out to Low and Slo BBQ on their Grand Championship and to Red Valley BBQ on their RGC.  Sean from Red Valley said it was the best brisket they have ever cooked, so Red Valley BBQ also walked with a 1st place brisket.  Very nice.  Finally, Pig Iron BBQ gets a call out for a great  showing.  Their best score ever if I am remembering correctly.  A great job from one of the friendliest teams out there.

So, next up, Hudson Valley in August.  It is a long trip to New Paltz.  But, well worth the drive.  We can't wait.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rick Bayless Tortas Frontera - Chicago O'Hare, Terminal B

With the amount of traveling I do, I connect a lot through O'Hare in Chicago.  Usually the offerings are quite boring.  But, when I flew through O'Hare this week, I was greeted with a new offering from Rick Bayless, Torta Frontera.

The new restaurant in in Terminal B, right by B12 to be exact.  On their menu, they offer homemade tortas (basically a Mexican style sandwich) and salads.  Everything is made to order right in front of you.  No heat lamps here.  They also have craft beer on tap.  Finally, all of their ingredients are sourced locally, a plus in my eyes.


I ordered the Chorizo Torta.  Perfectly cooked chorizo sausage on a fresh torta roll.  The roll is stacked with black olive spread, pickled red onions, sautéed green chili, and finally covered with Chihuahua cheese.  The sandwich is toasted until the roll is crispy and the cheese melts.  The sandwich is served with a side of chile verde, my new Mexican favorite, for dipping.  This sandwich was one of the best I have ever had.  Spicy sausage, salty olives and cheese, all brought together with the onions and peppers.  The chile verde made it even better.

To top everything off, they put your sandwich in a nice, small shopping bag with handles.  This allows you to walk the terminal with your rollaboard, carry on, torta, and a drink without dropping anything.  It is the small details that count.

Since everything is made to order, it takes about 10-15 minutes to get your order.  But, it is worth every minute.  Next time you are in O'Hare, give Torta Frontera a try.  I would even walk over from the C gates.  Overall grade, A+.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill