Smoked Brisket on the Big Green Egg

It’s been a while since I’ve fired up the Big Green Egg, and not to mention, my blog.  I have no excuses.  Just pure laziness.  Oh, actually, I do have one excuse.  I’ve been cheating on my blog with my newly upgraded and sexy ukulele.   She’s a beautiful, solid koa wood concert ukulele, made in Hawai’i.  She is definitely bright and sassy!  We’ve been playing The Muppet’s Rainbow Connection together.  I wonder what we’ll play next?

I finally got the creative itch to cook something on the Big Green Egg.  My original goal was to smoke a brisket on July 4th, but I just never got around to buying the brisket.  This time I wasn’t going to let laziness or my ukulele get in the way.  I bought an insane amount of meat yesterday in preparation for grilling and smoking today.  Today was a good day.

Smoked Brisket

For dry rub:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon cumin

7-8 pound brisket, fat cap trimmed to 1/4 inch
Wood chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

Remove the brisket from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature, about one hour. Pat the brisket dry with a paper towel. Rub the dry rub over the brisket until well coated. Set aside.

Heat the Big Green Egg (or smoker of your choice) until it reaches a stable temperature of 225 degrees F. Add the wood chips when the coals are hot. Place a disposable drip pan underneath the brisket. Cook the brisket, fat side up, until the internal temperature is 150 degrees F (about 1 hour and 15 minutes per pound). Baste the brisket with a few sprays of apple juice after 3 hours on the smoker to keep it moist.

Remove from the smoker, and wrap tightly with foil. Cook at the same temperature until internal temperature is 185 degrees F (about 3 to 4 hours).

Once the brisket is done, put the brisket in an insulated ice chest lined with aluminum foil. Close it for at least one hour for the juices to redistribute. The meat will hold its heat for hours in the chest, and the brisket will become even more tender. I do not suggest leaving the brisket in the cooler for more than 3 hours to prevent bacteria growth.

When ready to eat, slice against the grain and serve.

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop… it’s porky goodness!

It was 99 degrees F outside today, and it’s only the middle of May.  Mother Nature, you are being cruel to us.  I love when you are around the 70s to mid-80s, because that’s what you are during the months of April and May.  In fact, that’s my favorite time of the year here.  So what gives?  Is this a taste of what is to come this summer?  Please be kind.  I can’t bear sizzling temperatures near/over 110 degrees F.

I couldn’t bear to cook in the house today.  We cooked in yesterday, although it was 93 degrees F outside, our house seemed like a sauna.  I suppose we could have turned on the air conditioner, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that because it is only May.  But I digress.  It was the perfect to take the cooking outdoors, and I’ll take any excuse to play, I mean, cook on my Big Green Egg.

Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork Chop (adapted from Viet World Kitchen)

4 pork chops, bone-in, about 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons garlic
3 tablespoons shallot
1 1/2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil

Using a mini food processor, pulse the sugar, garlic, shallot, and lemongrass to a mince-like texture. Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil, and process to combine well.

Place the pork chops in a large zip-lock bag, and pour the marinade to coat. Squish the marinade around to coat the pork chops evenly. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 24 hours. Allow the pork chops to rest at room temperature, about 30-45 minutes, before grilling.

Preheat the Big Green Egg (or any grill) to 550 degrees F (or medium-high heat). Grill the pork chops over direct high heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, about 4 minutes. Flip, and cook for an additional Place the chops on the grill rack of your Big Green Egg. Sear the chops for about 4 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F. Remove from the grill, and let the pork chops rest for 5 minutes.

My favorite way to eat these delicious pork chops is over steamed white rice with a fried egg, and nuoc cham dipping sauce.  Yum.

Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Shrimp and Corn Salad with Avocado

I need to read more.  I feel well-informed of current affairs from reading various news media, but I don’t read enough books.  I used to love thumbing through books, especially historical fiction novels that had something to do with China and Mao’s Cultural Revolution.  Now I spend the majority of my day at work staring at a computer screen, only to come home to stare at a computer screen perusing through different food-related websites, my blog, and anything else of interest.  And then there’s the television.  I’m addicted to my television.  How pathetic, right?  I love my Bravo station.  Real Housewives of Atlanta, Beverly Hills, New Jersey, New York, and Orange County?  Yes, please!

The sad thing is that I can’t even remember the last time I picked up a book for leisure.  I even bought myself and my partner a Kindle in hopes that it would encourage me to buy books on-the-fly to read, but instead, it sits on my nightstand collecting dust.  At least my partner uses her Kindle and puts it to good use.  She has finished three books in a matter of three days, and working on a new book as we speak, while I sit here lazily on the couch, blogging, watching a recorded show of The Voice, and perusing through Food Gawker and Tastespotting.

Maybe I should finish this blog post and pick up my Kindle :)

Any good book suggestions?  What about Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto?

Grilled Shrimp Salad with Grilled Corn and Avocado (adapted from Epicurious)

1 pound large shrimp
1 large ear of corn, husked
2 lemons, halved
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained
6 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1 avocado, sliced
Salt and pepper

5 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice from grilled lemon
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon truffle oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Butterfly the shrimps by slicing almost through lengthwise, while leaving the shell on shrimp. Devein the shrimp, if necessary. Toss with olive oil, juice of one lemon, and season with salt and pepper.

Place the lemons, corn, and shrimp on the grill. Grill the shrimp two minutes on each side, until the shells are pink and the shrimp opaque; the lemons for about one minute, or until there are charred grill marks to caramelize the sugars of the lemon; and the corn has also developed charred grill marks around the diameter of the corn.

Combine all of the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When cool to handle, cut the kernels off the corn cob in a shallow bowl, and peel the shrimp. Arrange the lettuce on two plates or bowls [however, you like to serve your salad], layered with corn, black beans, avocado, and shrimp. Divide dressing between two plates. [You could toss the salad with the dressing instead. I think the salad looks “prettier” when arranged this way.]

Makes 2 servings.

Grilled two cheese pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette.

Grilled two cheese pizza with prosciutto, arugula, and lemon oil.  Now that’s a mouthful of tasty goodness.  Today was a lazy Sunday, and I didn’t feel like spending an entire afternoon cooking in the kitchen.  I needed to catch up on my “So You Think You Can Dance” shows!  It was four shows behind!

So luckily, we had all the ingredients for our favorite pizza, fired up the grill, and voila!  Dinner was ready in 15 minutes.  It was the perfect lazy meal.  In fact, do you know how lazy dinner really was?  We bought ready-made pizza crust (not dough, just crust) a few months ago and kept it on hand in the freezer for days like these.  And now I’m sitting on my couch, typing this post, and catching up on my DVR’ed shows.  Life is good :)

1 homemade or store bought pizza dough (or ready-made pizza crust)
8 ounces of smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/4 thick slices
4 cups arugula leaves, packed (it seems like a lot now, but it gets wilted down during the cooking process)
8 slices of prosciutto
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon

Preheat grill. Brush grates with vegetable or corn oil.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Place arugula leaves into a large bowl, and dress it with the lemon vinaigrette. Toss to mix well. Set aside. [I know it may seem like a lot of arugula at this point, but it will wilt down during the cooking process.]

Roll out pizza dough according to your recipe or store bought instructions. Once the grill is hot (you can hold your hands an inch over the grates for no more than 2 or 3seconds), carefully place the pizza dough onto the grill. Grill for about two minutes on one side. The pizza dough will also immediately puff up. Flip the pizza dough onto the other side and grill for another two minutes. Remove from grill onto a cookie sheet with tongs. Close the lid of the grill to retain its heat. [If you are using a ready-made pizza crust, cook it for two minutes on each side to get the grill marks and flavor.]

Place slices of smoked mozzarella around top of the pizza crust. And then in this order, spread all of the arugula leaves around, layer with prosciutto slices, and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Place the cookie sheet onto the grill and close the lid. [This allows for the toppings to cook without burning the pizza crust.] Cook for about five minutes, or until the cheese has melted, the arugula has wilted, and the prosciutto has crisped up a little. Carefully remove the cookie sheet from the grill. Using tongs, slide pizza onto a cutting board. Squeeze some lemon juice over the pizza. Using a sharp knife or pizza slicer, slice the pizza and enjoy!

Oh my grilled cheeses, these are some tender baby back ribs that fall right off the bone!

I love me some ribs.  But I was too intimidated by the thought of cooking ribs on the grill.  I was afraid if I didn’t cook it properly, the meat was going to be dry and tough.  No.  Thank.  You.  I like me some ribs that fall right off the bone.

A few years ago we were invited over for a barbecue, and my friend’s husband made some ribs.  Oh my grilled cheeses.  The meat was so tender.  So juicy.  So flavorful.  I was intoxicated with love.  I asked what his secret was, and he looked over at his oven.  I thought he was joking.  So I asked him again what the secret was, and he chuckled.  This time, I knew he wasn’t kidding.  It really was his oven.  He told me that he hadn’t cooked ribs on the grill since being converted to the oven.  He said he swore by the oven method.  I was easily and immediately convinced.

The method to make the perfect ribs is low and slow.  Don’t bother setting the table with knives.  You’ll just be adding to the dishes to wash afterwards.  Seriously.  You can cut the meat with a fork.  Actually, forget the fork, too.  The meat just falls off the bone when you bite into the rib.

I wish I had me some ribs right now.

Baby Back Ribs that Fall Off the Bone

For dry rub:
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cayenne
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon cumin

4 to 5 pounds pork baby back ribs
1/2 cup bourbon
Your favorite barbecue sauce

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Mix well.

Remove membrane from the underside of the ribs. Generously rub ribs with dry rub until evenly coated on all sides. Make sure to get it into every nook and cranny of the ribs. Pat gently to ensure the rub adheres to the ribs. Wrap in foil and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, but overnight, is best.

Heat grill to medium high heat.  Grill each rack of ribs to char meat for a little flavor, but also to sear in the juices, about 5 minutes. [Heck, you can even skip this step if you want to save some time, but I’ve found that the grilling adds an extra depth of flavor.  Just rub a little liquid smoke into the ribs before applying the dry rub.]

Pour bourbon into the bottom of a large roasting pan. Place ribs on roasting rack in roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil and cook for about 4 hours. Remove ribs carefully from roasting pan, and CAREFULLY unwrap foil. Coat ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. Place back on roasting pan uncovered, and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes until the barbecue sauce caramelizes.

Slice rack of ribs into individual ribs. Serve hot with extra barbecue sauce for those dippers and/or who like them saucy!

Tandoori Chicken… tastes just like what you get at an Indian restaurant!

This recipe was A-MAZ-ING!!  I’ve been looking for a tandoori recipe, and have tried a few, but this comes closest to what you get at an Indian restaurant.  Now I just wish I had a tandoor oven.  But the grill or oven is totally suffice for this recipe.  I am in love with this recipe, and cannot wait for leftovers tomorrow.  Yum.

Tandoori Chicken (slightly adapted from Simply Recipes)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon sweet (not hot) paprika
1 cup non-fat, plain Greek yogurt
2.5 tablespoons lemon juice
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon salt
4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), or its equivalent, skinless, bone-in

Heat the oil in a small pan over medium heat, then cook the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, garam masala and paprika, stirring often, until fragrant (approximately 2-3 minutes). Let cool completely.

Whisk in the cooled spice-oil mixture into the yogurt, then mix in the lemon juice, garlic, salt and ginger.

Cut deep slashes (to the bone) in 3-4 places on the leg/thigh pieces. Just make 2-3 cuts if you are using separate drumsticks and thighs. Coat the chicken in the marinade, cover and chill for at least six hours.

Prepare your grill so that one side is quite hot over direct heat, the other side cooler, not over direct heat. If using charcoal, leave one side of the grill without coals, so you have a hot side and a cooler side. If you are using a gas grill, just turn on one-half of the burners. Use tongs to wipe the grill grates with a paper towel soaked in vegetable oil. Take the chicken out of the marinade and shake off the excess. You want the chicken coated, but not gloppy. Put the chicken pieces on the hot side of the grill and cover. Cook 2-3 minutes before checking.

Turn the chicken so it is brown (even a little bit charred) on all sides, then move it to the cool side of the grill. Cover and cook for at least 20 minutes, up to 40 minutes (or longer) depending on the size of the chicken and the temperature of the grill. The chicken is done when its juices run clear.

Conversely, you can also cook this in your oven.  Preheat the oven to 550 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil.  Place chicken onto baking sheet, and put into the oven.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Turn on the broiler, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes to char the chicken a little bit more.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges, and grilled sliced onions.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Grilled Corn Summer Salad

I love that warm weather means an abundance of summer fruits and vegetables.  I get really excited when I start to see corn being sold at the grocery store and farmers market.  It’s my favorite vegetable during the summer months.  I love corn, especially after it’s been slightly charred on the grill.  Yum.  My favorite way to eat corn, albeit it’s not the most efficient process, is to pick off each individual kernel while I watch TV.  It’s better than a bowl of popcorn or plate of nachos.  I know it sounds tedious, and it probably is, but it’s that brainless (and slightly obsessive) process of removing each individual kernel that I enjoy.  I didn’t have time to enjoy the corn kernel by kernel, so instead I made a grilled corn summer salad.  It’s a light and refreshing salad, especially with flecks of basil and the tanginess of the vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite way of enjoying corn?

Grilled Corn Summer Salad

3 ears of white corn, shucked, husked, and cleaned
3 yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 roma tomatoes, seeded, and chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup basil, chopped
3 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling vegetables
1/2 teaspoon honey (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat outdoor grill to high heat and lightly coat grill grates with oil. Conversely, if you don’t have an outdoor barbecue setup, an indoor grill pan works great, too! Just heat grill pan over high heat.

Drizzle extra virgin olive on corn and squash. Place corn and squash (cut side down) on the grill. Cook until the kernels are tender and slightly charred, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cook squash until slightly tender and also slightly charred, about 5 to 10 minutes, turning 30 to 45 degrees to get perfect grill marks half way during the grilling process.

While the vegetables are cooling, whisk together the pomegranate vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

When the corn is cool, cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob with a sharp knife. Cut the squash into half inch dices. Place basil, corn, and squash into a large bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to combine. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings.

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