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Monday, November 24, 2014

Smoke Roasted Steelhead with Basil Pesto

After falling to the Sirens call at Costco, this time from the evil end case in the meat department, I found myself in possession of a nice piece of Steelhead for dinner.  I was looking to prepare a dish that was different than the usual rubbed and grilled piece of fish.  After searching the refrigerator, some leftover pesto was just begging to be used.  So, I fired up the smoker and headed to the kitchen.

The pesto we use is a pre-prepared offering that we find in our dairy case.


This product is pretty good for the price.  It has a nice balance of basil, pine nut, and Parmesan cheese and works well in both pasta and pizza dishes.

My reasoning was simple for this recipe.  Wash and dry the Steelhead fillet, coat with the pesto, bring room temperature, then smoke roast at 350 F until the meat was done and the skin was crispy.



Once I applied the pesto, I added a very light seasoning of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Once my smoker was at 350 F, I added a piece of alder to the ash pan for smoke flavor and them placed the fillet on the top rack with the thick side positioned on the hot side of the smoker chamber.


About 25 minutes later, the fillet was done.  One tell tale sign of your Steelhead being cooked is when the white fat is starting to render from the fillet and the meat starts to become flaky.




Overall, the fillet turned out well.  Alder always pairs well with fish, especially with a fatty fish such as Steelhead.  I would have liked for more of a pesto flavor.  The pesto taste was their, but not as strong as I would have liked.  Since pesto has an olive oil base, I suspect that during the cooking process the majority of the basil and pine nut flavors were carried away in the olive oil dripped from the fillet during cooking.  I will be trying this again, but I think I will add the pesto at the end of the cooking process, either in the smoker or on the grill.  This was a good start to further develop this recipe.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q - Decatur, Al

A few weeks ago, my travels took me to Decatur Alabama.  While I was there, I had the opportunity to have dinner at one of the better BBQ joints in the USA, Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q.



I sat down with great anticipation.  The smell of smoked maestros almost too much to take.  I felt like I was at a BBQ competition, minus the rain.  After scanning the menu, and checking out the bottled sauces at my table, I finally settled on the two meat combo platter.  I choose chicken so that I could try out the Alabama White BBQ sauce and the pulled pork, with collards and cole slaw for my sides.



The slaw was pretty good.  I was a bit surprised to see such a fine consistency as I am used to shredded slaw in these parts.  But, the taste was spot on and the perfect balance to the pork.  The greens were outstanding as well, although I have to admit that Black Strap BBQ in Montreal makes a slightly better collard green.

The chicken was tender and moist.  The white sauce only made it that much better.  How was the pork?  Well, when you have won Memphis in May eight times in pork, I expected nothing short of outstanding.  I was not disappointed.  Great flavor, perfect bark, and good plain or when combined with the tangy vinegar based red sauce.

I finished my meal with a slice of the peanut butter pie, completely wrecking my diet.


Flaky crust, peanut butter cream.  Different than other peanut butter pies that I have had, but different in a good way.

Big Bob Gibson's is a monument to Chris's accomplishments with newspaper articles and awards covering the walls.  He even has his Memphis in May trophies up front, just where I would put them.



So, if you are going to be in the Huntsville/Decatur area and are looking for some good BBQ, Big Bob Gibsons is the place to go.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Crispy Roasted Root Vegetables and Red Potatoes

The root vegetable time of year is upon us.  I never used to like root veggies, but I have learned that roasting these vegetables in the proper manner will provide a nice side dish to any smoked, roasted, or grilled meat.

A few weeks ago when I was making my beer and butter injected pork roast, I decided that some roasted veggies were in order.  The recipe is quick, easy, and you will find yourself fighting the rest of the family for the slightly burnt, crispy remains.  Here is the process.

Ingredients:

1 lb of small red potatoes, washed and cubed
1 lb of turnips, washed and cubed
1 lb of carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 ribs of celery, washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 medium sweet onion, quartered, then separated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp of white vinegar
2 tbsp of kosher salt
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper to taste


Take the potatoes and turnips and place into a pan large enough to hold the veggies and add enough water to cover.  To this mix, add the white vinegar and kosher salt.  Bring to a boil and cook the potatoes and turnips at a hard boil for five minutes.


After the five minutes of boiling, drain the potatoes and turnips in a colander making sure to shake off all of your excess moisture.  Place the potatoes and turnips into a large mixing bowl with the rest of the vegetables.  Add your olive oil, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Sorry about the remaining pictures.  It seems that I had a filter running on my camera and did not know it at the time.


Spread the vegetable mix onto a cookie sheet in one layer.


I placed sheet of vegetables into my smoker at 375 F.  You could easily use your oven set at this temperature as well.


After 20 minutes of cooking time, I flipped the vegetables with a spatula to ensure even roasting for the final product.  Then I cooked for 25 more minutes for a total of 45 minutes of cook time.


I love these veggies.  The onions, garlic, and carrots develop a nice, crispy caramelization that mixes well with that roasted potato and turnip crunch.  Feel free to add in other vegetables as you see fit.  I am going to try this again with some parsnips in the future.  You can also add other spice combinations as you see fit pair with the meat you are serving as well.

One thing that I always forget is how much veggies can shrink during the roasting process.  This recipes is enough for three people.  I would recommend doubling the recipe for a family of four or more.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions in a Roasted Garlic Milk Stout Reduction

Last weekend, when I was preparing my roasted garlic and milk stout marinade, I needed a side dish to go with my flank steak.  I had some mushrooms in the refrigerator and decided to use them up.  It is also my culinary mission to introduce to The Youngest foods that induce a gag reflex in Hope.  I gain satisfaction in seeing The Youngest scarf down food that makes his mother look the other way.  My success rate runs about 80 percent.  But, mushrooms would be a tough one.  Lets see what we can do.

I took the left over mushrooms, removed the stems, cleaned and quartered them, then placed them in a bowl with half of a quartered sweet onion.  Then, I poured about 1/3 cup of my Roasted Garlic Milk Stout marinade on the mushrooms and tossed to coat evenly.  Missed that recipe?  Here it is:

Roasted Garlic Milk Stout Marinade

1, 12 oz bottle of your favorite stout.  I choose a milk stout.  Just try and choose a well balanced brew
3 large cloves garlic, roasted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp ground mustard powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
Fresh ground pepper.  I used 10 turns of my grinder

Put everything into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Then, lower your heat and simmer until reduced by 1/3.  Then cool to room temperature.


I covered the foil and placed in the refrigerator to marinade for five hours or so.  When my grill was ready, I placed the marinaded mixture into a small foil pan.


The pan was placed on the top rack my grill to slowly caramelize.  My grill temperature was around 350-400 F for most of the cook.  I rotated the pan every 10 minutes so that the mushrooms and onions on the hot side of the grill would not burn.  The total cook time was about 40 minutes.


Those are the mushrooms up there in the upper right hand corner.  One mistake I made was forgetting how much a mushroom can shrink when cooking.  But, what I didn't have in quantity, I definitely had in quality.  The marinade reduced, intensifying the roasted garlic, stout, and balsamic vinegar flavors. Add in the caramelized sweetness of the onions and mushrooms and this side dish is a worthy accompaniment to any grilled steak.  I think I see some sort of beefy, mushroom laden pie in my future.

As for The Youngest?  I had to fight him for the remains.  Mission accomplished.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill