My wife, who is awesome by the way, got me an iGrill v2 for Christmas. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a probe thermometer that speaks to an app that runs on your iPhone, iPad or Android device using Bluetooth. Like most electronics, it’s not fond of getting wet.
So, I decided to build a housing for it that would protect it from rain, allow the probes to get out, and could be attached to a post underneath our deck. I picked up a Rubbermaid food storage container at Target. I got the 14 cup version.
I then hit the Lowes down the road, where I got a stainless screw and washers, and a galvanized (not stainless!) metal strap. Don’t buy a stainless strap, since you want the magnet in the back of the iGrill to stick to it. I also grabbed a water-tight electric conduit fitting for the probe outlet.
I taped and then drilled a 1″ hole in the side of the container and installed the conduit fitting. I lined up and drilled another hole in the back for the mounting screw. The strap is being held in place by the screw and held steady by some silicone caulk. You can see a little squeeze-out below.
Monday’s a big day for me. I’ll be going in for some surgery. Nothing major, I swear. But, it will involve a couple of days in residence in the hospital. So, with my wife out of town with the girls for the weekend, it seemed like a perfect night to have the guys over. The kids went to one of the other houses, where we shared a babysitter, and the night began..
Earlier that day, I hit the Rastelli’s Market just down the road. I was pleased to find some gorgeous USDA Prime NY Strips at a pretty reasonable price. If you’re a South Jersey person, Rastelli’s really has a great selection of all sorts of stuff. The prepared foods are quite good as well. Behind the butcher counter, I met years of experience, and a willingness to get everything just right to afford us the perfect evening. Not long after, I left with 7 of those Prime NY Strips, cut 1.5″ thick. We paired the steaks up with some roasted baby red potatoes and sautéed haricots verts. My friend John brought some fantastic bread too. On to the recipes & methods.
Roasted Baby Red Potatoes
These are quite possibly the easiest potatoes in the world to make. Impossible to screw this up. This serves 8 people.
3 pounds of baby red potatoes
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (be sure to get the stuff made from real virgins)
6 cloves of finely minced garlic
Kosher salt & ground black pepper – just eyeball it, put in as much as you feel comfortable with
Leaves from one sprig of rosemary
Cut the spuds in half, or quarters if you’ve got some big babies in there.. Put everything in a large bowl and toss. Or do as I did – put the lid on and shake it like crazy. Dump this out onto a sheet pan (or again, as I did – a foil-lined sheet pan) and chuck it in a 400F oven for an hour. The potatoes were done early, so I just hit the warming button and left them in the oven. You could use pretty much any small, thin-skinned potato as well, but I like the flavor of the red potato here. Like I said, this is impossible to screw up.
Sautéed Haricots Verts
Again, ridiculously easy. This will also serve 6-8 people.
1 pound Haricots Verts, stem side trimmed, washed, etc.
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red pepper flakes
Boil some water. Salt the water generously. Prepare a big bowl with salted ice water nearby. Par-cook the beans for about 90 seconds, then rescue them from the boiling water (I used a frying spider like this to do the job), depositing them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. When the beans are cooled, extract them from the cold water. I did this step a few hours ahead, so I put them in a sealed bowl in the fridge. If you’re doing it right then, just put them aside.
Get your sauté pan ready. Coat the bottom in the EVOO. Add the garlic, some salt and a pinch of the red pepper flakes. Very slowly and gently, heat up that oil to infuse the flavors of the garlic and red pepper. Turn up the heat to medium, add the beans and finish them off. How long? Do you like your beans crunchy or like baby food? It’s all up to you.
Grilled NY Strips – Reverse Sear Method
This was the part that drew shock & awe from the guys. Conventional wisdom says you sear a steak and finish it over indirect heat, like in the oven. This flips that model upside-down. Why? Science. That’s why. Think about what happens when you do a roast in the oven. You cook that roast to medium-rare or medium, and when you cut into it, it’s pretty much top-to-bottom pink, right? Think about the last time you had a steak cooked by conventional means. You had a crust on the outside, and a ring of well-done just underneath, followed by your center that’s medium-rare or medium. What if you could get rid of most or all of the ring of well-done meat? That’s what the reverse sear is all about. Want to read more? Go check out /r/steak on Reddit. Lots of reverse searers and sous-viders there.
So, on to how to do this. I put the steaks on a rack, holding them above a sheet pan. I salted each side very generously with Kosher salt. I left them out on the counter like this for an hour. An hour? In the creepy-crawly bacterial danger zone? Relax, skippy. You’re going to blast these things with fire in a little while. Bacteria growth, if any, will be on the surface, and will be quite handily eradicated after you introduce them to some fire.
I did our steaks on the grill. We’ve got a Weber Genesis E-330, LP model. I switched on the far right burner, and deposited our steaks on the far left of the grill and closed the lid. How high should the burner be? Depends on how cold it is outside. Last night, it was about 45F, so I did medium-high. You want the ambient temp inside the grill around 200-250F. Relax, this will be a while. If you’ve got a probe thermometer, probe the meat and set the alarm for 115F (assuming you want medium-rare). Basically, you’re going to pull about 10-15F below where you want to finish. For me, this took about 45 minutes to reach this temp. I pulled the steaks, and covered them in foil, and took them inside to rest for 10 minutes.
During that rest, I cranked up all of the burners to high and kept the lid down. By the time the rest was over, the grill was about 650F. During the summer, I can get it to well over 700F. Steaks go back on and get flipped every 30 seconds until you’re happy. To impress, add a turn, giving you nice cross-hatch grill marks. The steaks got about 4 minutes total sear time, roughly 2 minutes per side, leaving them at 125-130F, perfect medium-rare. Off the grill, onto the plates.
Because you’ve already rested the meat, they won’t bleed out the moment you cut them, so you can dig right in. Be warned on a couple of points here…
You need thicker steaks to pull this off. If you go with the standard ¾ inch type steaks you generally see in the market, the method doesn’t work. Why? During the sear, you’ll overcook the middle. Minimum of 1 inch. 1 ½ or more is better for this method.
Be prepared for horrified looks from your guests. When you pull the steaks to rest them, they will look like sad little lumps of meat. That’s ok. Just tell your diners to relax and believe. Last night, I had 6 skeptics that thought I’d ruined good steak, only to completely reverse that opinion mere minutes later. 🙂
My sole regret was forgetting to get a picture of the completed steaks. What can I say? We were hungry. We paired the above with a bottle of Phantom, from Bogle Vineyards. Rastelli’s was doing tastings the other day, and it caught me by surprise, so I bought 2 bottles. At $18 each, they were better than lots of $50 bottles I’ve had.
My wife & I were pondering options for lunch today. On the weekends, we tend to eat the larger meal for lunch and a smaller dinner. Today, we settled on meatloaf, garlic mashed red potatoes and peas. Rather than our usual broil & bake process, I decided to do the meatloaf on the grill, as it was a lovely day outside.
We shamelessly lifted this recipe from the nice folks at Cooks Country, and re-adapted this slightly. Ordinarily, we make this as described below, using very lean ground beef with ground pork. Today, we just had beef on hand, so we went all beef, but used higher-fat content on the ground beef to make up for the lack of pork.
Make the glaze first…
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you like)
2 ½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon hot sauce
Put all that in a small saucepan. Mix, and heat to combine & thicken over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Put some glaze to the side to use while cooking. You should be fine reserving about ¼ cup to glaze with. What hot sauce? Whatever you want. You can’t go wrong with Frank’s RedHot. This time, I used the Tobasco Chipotle sauce for a slight amount of heat, and more smokey flavor. I’ve also read tales of people using Sriracha as well. I also used dark brown sugar today, and really liked the overall flavor.
On to the meatloaf…
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup Saltine crackers, crushed (about 17 crackers)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 pound 90/10 ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large whole eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
Put the oil in the pan, heat it up over medium heat, add the onion. In about 8 minutes, you’ll have nice, golden brown & delicious onions. Add the garlic, keep it on the heat for another 30 seconds. Done? Into a large bowl with that veg.
Dump your crackers and milk in the food processor and unleash the blades upon them until it’s a smooth mixture. Add the meat and pulse to combine nicely.. That should be about 10 1-second pulses. Dump the resulting meat-goo into the bowl with the veggies. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix it all up. Get in there with your hands and work that meatloaf. Get everything nice & combined, but don’t over-work too badly, ok?
Here’s where we diverge from Bridget Lancaster’s officially sanctioned cooking method.. Instead of forming a single loaf on a foil-lined sheet pan, we’re going to cut the mix in half, making two smaller loaves. This cooking method is similar to the also popular Weber recipe for grilled meatloaf.
Setup the grill for indirect cooking. You want to get that grill stable at about 350F. For me, I’m cooking on a Weber Genesis E-330, and I’ve got the optional smoker box kit installed. So, I kick on the right and center burners, and keep them just about 1/3 of the way between low & medium on the dials. For a bit of extra flavor, I dropped in a wood chunk. Today, I went for Hickory, since it pairs so nicely with beef. Before long, the grill was ready, and blue smoke was rising from the smoker box. Success was mine for the taking. I lightly oiled up the grill and with a couple of spatulas, I deposited the meatloaves on the far left side, where the burner was completely turned off. Down went the cover, and I set a timer for 30 minutes to check on progress. At the 30 minute mark, we were at an internal temp of 120F. I was looking for 155F, so we carried on. While I had the grill open, I applied a coating of the glaze that I’d reserved earlier. At the 45 minute mark, they were at 155F, and it was time to pull them. It would have probably only been 40 minutes, but I don’t currently have a probe thermometer, and was relying on our instant-read, so I had to keep popping the top to get a reading.
As an aside, if any of the super nice people over at iDevices happen to be reading this, I’d sing of your glory and valor forever if you’d send me an iGrill2. 🙂 I’d love to get my hands on one with 3 probes and an ambient temp probe as well. But I digress, and that’s enough begging for today.
After pulling the loaves at 155F, I put them on a foil-lined sheet pan, applied another coat of the glaze, and then it was off to the broiler. I put the spurs to them for about 5 minutes, to make a nicely caramelized and delicious crust on top. We pulled, rested a bit, sliced and served with the remaining glaze. I think next time I would broil first without the glaze on, then go to the grill. But, that’s just a minor difference, really.
It was absolutely delicious. I could see making meatloaf sandwiches out of this recipe too. Yum part two, revenge of the taste buds…
On the weekends, we usually cook for lunch, and then do smaller, leftover-ish things later in the day if we get hungry again. So, it’s another lovely day, and we’re off to the grill. Today? Pork tenderloin. It’s just the 4 of us, so I only did one of the two tenderloins that came in the pack we bought. The other is in the freezer.
I made up a little mojo/marinade type thing using a rub that I’ve had hanging around a while. It’s the “Jack’s Old South” rub from Food Network. Here’s the recipe for the rub…
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sweet paprika
¼ cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
I was originally going to make a paste using apple juice and smear it on, much like a rub, but decided to give the pork a bath in it, so I added a bit more apple juice. Just mix it up until it looks right to you. You’ll need about 4-6 ounces of liquid In there to do an adequate job. Trim up the tenderloin, put it in a gallon sealable plastic bag, and add the mixture. Smoosh it around to coat, remove as much air as you possibly can and seal it up. Minimum bath in this stuff should be 4 hours. 24 would be better. Put it in the fridge for this time. About 30 minutes before you throw it on the fire, pull it out of the fridge.
Don’t like the rub I mentioned above? Use whatever rub you like. I might try this next time with the rub my butcher makes.
Charcoal grill? Setup for 2-zone cooking. Gas? Turn on all the burners and heat your grill up to medium high heat. Cook it for about 2 minutes on each of the 4 sides, then shut off the burner that’s under the pork, or move to a part of a charcoal grill that doesn’t have direct heat going. Close the lid, and check it every few minutes. In 8-10 minutes, you should be all done. Remember, trichinosis is at an all-time low for all of known history. You do not need to cook your pork until it’s a crispy, dry mess, crying uncle. 140-145F is plenty good enough.
We served this up with a pasta salad, and leftover corn from yesterday’s tacos, and it was good.
Would I change anything? While I found it nicely spiced, as did my wife, the kids thought the spice level was a bit high. They’re a little wimpy with that stuff, so next time, I might do a bit less rub in the mixture.
We were going to make Friday night Taco Night, but then realized that Alex had his gymnastics class, so it had to wait for Saturday’s lunch. Glad we waited, the extra time in the marinade was good… Sorry, no pictures this time. It’s still good. Go make this.
So, tacos. Brown up some ground beef, toss in that seasoning packet you bought in the supermarket with some water, wait, and then stuff a sort-of-not-too-nasty hard shell with meat, cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, & the kitchen sink, take a bite and need to change your shirt. Right? You couldn’t be more wrong. That’s a terribly over-Americanized version of the taco, humble street food of Latin America. We will not be doing that today.
Buy 1 ½ lbs of skirt steak. You can use flank too if you’ve got that on hand, or can’t find skirt. I’ve got a butcher down the road from us, and they rule. Hi Jeff & Terry. While I was there, I ordered up a brisket to be BBQ’d and ready for us to consume during an upcoming gathering of friends & family. Yum in advance.
Prepare your steak. Sometimes, skirt will still have a membrane on it. Get rid of as much of it as you can. While you’re at it, trim the skirt a bit too. Leave some fat on there – fat will melt and is flavor. But, you probably aren’t interested in having a giant hunk of fat hanging around either.. Now might also be a good time to cut it into manageable lengths to fit your grill, since you’re getting all knifey with the steak already.
Make yourself a marinade. The only thing you may have trouble with is the chile powders. In your average American supermarket, you can get “chili powder”, and it’s a hodgepodge of stuff that’s not just ground up chiles. Get thee to thine nearest Mexican grocery for some ancho and chipotle chile powders. Here comes the marinade. Throw all this stuff in the nearest bowl and mix it up with a whisk until it’s all combined.
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Done whisking? Put the skirt steak in a sealable plastic bag. Dump the marinade in on top of the steak. Remove as much air as you can from the bag and seal it up. Smoosh it all around in there a bit to coat the steak with all that chile-infused goodness. Don’t freak out – this isn’t spicy. Yes, you’ve got a fair bit of chile powder in there, but when you’re done cooking, it’s going to be nicely spiced, and not hot & overpowering. Trust me here. Even if you’re not into spicy, put all of that stuff in there. How long do you marinade for? That’s up to you. Some people like to go an hour, but I ended up going for about 18. I put this all together at about 6pm Friday, and cooked it up a bit before Noon on Saturday. Some marinades overpower when you go that long, but this one did not. If you’re doing a short marinade, do it outside the fridge. I did mine in the fridge. Either way, for about an hour before you’re cooking, get that thing out of the cold. Don’t worry, you won’t die. You’re about to put this steak above 500+F heat. That will slay anything that manages to grow in an hour.
Go and make a fire in your usual way. You want to setup your grill for direct grilling with high heat. Skirt likes to cook fast, so you want to hit it with a thermonuclear blast of heat for a short time.
Got your grill all prepped, cleaned, oiled and up to about 500-600F? You’re ready. Pull the steak out of the marinade and unroll it onto a baking sheet or something big & flat. After you get the steak on, hand this to someone to wash and bring back to you, or have a second one ready for the cooked meat. For my grill, I got it up to 600F and then did 2.5 minutes on each side before pulling it. At 500F, it’s probably more like 3. If you’re Alton Brown or just love his methods, well, just do what he does. Not having charcoal (I know, sacrilege, right? It’s ok, I’ve got a smoker try built into our Weber gas grill), I just keep it all up top on the grates.
Done cooking? Now it’s rest time for that meat, so that carry-over will finish the job, leaving you with nicely cooked beef. How do you cut skirt so it’s tender and not all stringy/chewy? Against the grain, so the fibers are nice & short. Basically, cut the steak into smaller pieces, then cut it sideways. Go watch the AB video above if you think I’m speaking Latin right now. He shows it very nicely. I did 3-inch sections that I sliced into 4 pieces each. That’s a good size for tacos.
While that meat is resting, warm up your tortillas. Soft tacos for this guy, please. Corn or flour, whatever you like. Some people warm up tortillas by wrapping them in plastic and nuking them for a bit. I don’t like this method, as it leaves you with gummy, funky tortillas. You’ve already got a nice hot grill, and you’re kind of standing around while the steak rests, so throw the tortillas on the grill a few at a time. Watch until they just start to puff up, flip, and then stack on a plate. You can do easily a dozen tortillas in the time your steak rests.
And now, assemble as you wish. For me, it was a tortilla, 2-3 pieces of steak, some cheese and a bit of hot salsa or a couple of squirts of Tabasco’s Chipotle Sauce. Want to chop up some cilantro or dice up a few tomatoes and add them? Go for it. Perhaps a little pico de gallo instead? Have at it, but don’t overload the taco there, bub.
We served this with some rice and corn as the side dishes. It was fantastic.