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Dave's Fiery Front Page

Exploring the World of Spice and Smoke
Tags >> grilling


Grilled Peach HalfI love this time of the year when the peaches are ripe on the trees, the mangos from Mexico are arriving at the fruit and vegetable markets, the avocados are coming from California, and in just a few weeks we'll have apricots, pears, pomegranates, and apples from local orchards.  Note the grilled peach to the left.  The recipe for it, Grilled Peach Halves with Cheese Chipotle Raspberry Puree, is here.  And we also have Fired-Up Fruits articles entited "Mango Madness," "Pomegranate Passion," "Mulberry Madness," "Blazing Blueberries," and "Avocado Madness" all accessible here.  Enjoy your summer!


Getting the Crud Off the Grill

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: smoking , grilling


My Cruddy GrillIn both the grilling and smoking processes, organic material will accumulate on the grills–fat, pieces of meat, basting sauces, dead moths--all sorts of stuff. Known in the barbecue industry technically as crud, this stuff will quickly burn and fuse to the metal. Since you always want to start cooking with a clean grill, this crud on the grill poses a problem, especially for the lazy cleaner, as most men are prone to be. Some people simply place the grill as close as possible to the hottest flame and allow the accumulated material to turn to ash, then they wipe it off with paper towels. Well, not only are they risking a fire if the crud has a lot of fat in it, rarely does all the crud completely carbonize. In this case, many cooks use a wire brush to get right down to the metal, and this works fine but it is labor intensive and sweaty going. The easiest way to clean grills is to remove them from the unit, spray them thoroughly front and back with oven cleaner, and place them in a plastic trash bag, which you tie shut. Allow them to marinate overnight and rinse them off with a hose the next day.

May is National Barbecue Month!

Posted by: Lois Manno

Tagged in: grilling , fiery foods


HPBA’S NEW POLL REVEALS: Whether Dressing up or Stripping Down, Americans plan to Grill this Summer.

Forget the winter blues and taste summer! Nationwide, people are getting fired up for National Barbecue Month this May and the kick-off to the peak grilling season. Now is a great time to check out your cook-out equipment and make sure you are ready for summer grilling.

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association's 2010 National Barbecue Month (NBM) Poll reveals that six-out-of-ten Americans can’t wait to fire up the grill for the outdoor cooking season igniting this May. In fact, nearly 90 percent of people say they plan to enjoy grilled food in their own backyard this summer!

While grilling is a shared summer pastime, flavor preferences and grilling styles vary as widely as the people who use them. According to the NBM poll, 65 percent of Americans like to “dress it up” with a sauce, marinade or seasoning – and 21 percent prefer to “strip it down” and enjoy grilled food au natural.

Some like it hot! Men more than women say they like to turn up the heat with spicy sauce or steak sauce on their grilled meats (42 percent vs. 31 percent).

Chef Hymie Grandé

Thanks to Jamie Faitelson, a.k.a. Chef Hymie Grandé, diabetics now can choose from a trio of barbecue sauces with no high fructose corn syrup or processed sugars. The sauces are vegan friendly and all natural. It is also the first BBQ sauce to carry the American Diabetes Association mark on the bottle’s label, meaning it meets the ADA specifications.  Chef Hymie Grandé also donates a portion of the proceeds from every bottle sold to the American Diabetes Association. “Chef Hymie Grandé sauces are a unique blend of everything you would want in a barbeque sauce or rub. They taste great, but don’t have all the processed sugar or high fructose corn syrup that nutritionists everywhere are in agreement is so bad for you, says Faitelson.  He adds, “We use agave syrup as a natural sweetener—although it is much more expensive—but isn’t a healthier sauce with great taste worth it?”

You can order the barbecue sauce online here. If you live near New Jersey, the website has a list of stores that carry the sauces as well.

The Amazing, Disposable, EZ Grill

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

Tagged in: grilling


I've tried many of the small grills like hibachis and Cobbs and they work fine, but still you have to dispose of the ash, clean them out, pack them up, and carry them home from the beach, picnic, campground, tailgating headquarters, or garden party (remember the Rick Nelson song?)  But with the EZ Grill it's a no- brainer because you just put out the coals with water, sand, or dirt, and then throw it in the trash.  It's called a single-use grill, and these have gained a 50% share of the charcoal grill market in Australia and the U.K.  It gets 90 minutes of cooking time and is in 13,000 stores in the U.S., including 7-Elevens.  They come in a regular size with four of $19.99 or a party size of two for $19.99.  You can find retail locations or order online here.


Amazingly Versatile Chipotle Paste

Posted by: Dave DeWitt

I think I've died and gone to chile heaven because my new alliance with MexGrocer.com is proving to be very tasty, indeed.  Here's the deal: in return for writing posts to their blog, here, Nacho Hernandez, who runs the day-to-day operation of MexGrocer, sends me just about any product (they carry about 1,500) I want in order to evaluate it.  Recently he sent me the entire product line of chile pastes from MexiChefs that included chipotle, ancho, pasilla, chile de árbol, and guajillo.  My intention is to try them all, but I got stuck on the chipotle paste.

First I made a simple grilling sauce using butter, chipotle paste, red wine, and garlic powder and simply basted a pork chop while grilling it.  The result was delicious:

Well, that was easy, so I just put the paste in the refrigerator, where it stores nicely in its plastic tub.  A few days later I roasted a chicken and there were plenty of droppings left.  I scraped them out of the roasting pan, put them in the freezer and later removed the congealed fat.  I added homemade chicken stock, some flour dissolved in water and made a gravy.  I further thickened it with the chipotle paste and served the resulting gravy over garlic mashed potatoes.  Later, I wanted to spice up some baked potatoes, so I just mixed the paste half and half with butter and in 15 seconds I had one of the best toppings I've ever tasted.  Get the idea?  Order this great paste here--it will make your cooking life a lot easier!  One pound, which will last forever, is just $7.95!

I've been grilling since I was eight years old, when my father taught how to do it on an old, rusty, kettle-style barbecue unit using lump charcoal because briquets hadn't been invented yet.  It was very difficult to control the heat of the fire, so cooking chicken required constant attention or the result would be a blackened, unsavory mess.  So I learned how to constantly move the pieces of chicken around on the grill, turning them constantly because the fat from the chicken would cause the fire to flare up.
These days, with sophisticated gas grills, the process is a lot easier because the heat of the fire remains much more even.  You hear a lot of talk about how cooking over charcoal or charcoal with wood chips is a lot more flavorful than gas, but the truth is that most of the "barbecue flavor" results from the fat and juices of the meat that are vaporized upon contact with the flames or coals.  This is why grilled meats cooked in restaurants taste great, and restaurant cooks rarely, if ever, use charcoal or wood chips to flavor any kind of meat.  I've grilled and smoked foods outdoors using many different kinds of barbecue units, but in my opinion gas grills are the quickest and easiest of them all.
Back in the old days we didn't know much about marinating or using rubs to further flavor the meats we were grilling.  As outdoor cooking has evolved over the decades, we now, fortunately, have a wide variety of products and techniques to add both flavor and spice to our outdoor cooking.  Since I'm nicknamed "The Pope of Peppers," you can probably figure out that I like my grilled foods spiced up.  I'm not talking killer heat here, but just enough chiles to make the food a lot more interesting.  Here are two of my favorite summertime grilling recipes, and they prove that you don't have to be Bobby Flay to make some great barbecue!

Citrus-Marinated Grilled Chicken

The concept of marinating chicken in a spicy fruit juice and then grilling it originated in Mexico and is quite popular throughout the American Southwest. The chicken is served with warm corn tortillas, salsa, and a side of pinto beans. The chicken can be cut off the bones and eaten topped with the salsa, or rolled up in up in the tortilla with salsa, like a soft taco.  Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tomatillos, husks removed, chopped
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons ancho chile powder or New Mexican red chile powder
2 small chickens, cut in half lengthwise or cut up into pieces
Bottled salsa of choice, or make your own pico de gallo
Corn tortillas

In a saucepan, saute the onion, garlic, and tomatillos in the oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients, except the chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Place in a blender and puree to form a sauce.
Marinate the chicken in the sauce in a non-reactive bowl in the refrigerator, covered, for at least 3 hours.
Grill the chicken until done, basting frequently with the sauce.  Chicken is done when the internal temperature is 160 degrees F.

Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Medium

Grilled Corn with Spiced Butter

Why bother to heat up the kitchen and boil corn on the cob when you can use the grill and get even tastier results?  Spiced butters, also called compound butters, give corn a unique flavor dimension.  This one is based on Nitir kebe, an Ethiopian spiced butter that is an ingredient in many that country's dishes.  It certainly gives an exotic twist to a summertime favorite.  Be sure to buy ears with some of the stalk attached for a great handle.  The spiced butter freezes easily.  It's a good idea to have a spray bottle with water handy in case the husks start to burn. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

Spiced Butter

1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 teaspoon crushed chiltepins or pequins, or use ground cayenne chile
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

4 ears corn, husks and stalks attached

Allow the butter to soften at room temperature in a bowl and mix in all the ingredients for the spiced butter. Let sit for an hour to blend the flavors.

Remove any dried, brownish husks from the corn.  Pull back the husks, but don't remove completely,  and remove the silk. Soak the ears in cold water for 30 minutes to prevent the husks from burning.

Brush some of the butter on each of the ears and pull the husks back up over the ears and secure with string or a strip of corn husk.

Place on grill over a low fire, fairly far from the heat, and grill, turning often, for about 15 minutes.  
Yield: 4 servings
Heat Scale: Hot 

Flay was flayed in the Green Chile Cheeseburger Throwdown held at the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico.  Flay flavored his cheeseburger not only with green chile, but wine vinegar, olive oil, "gourmet cheese" (whatever that is) and pickled onions.  The two judges, chile specialist Stephanie Walker from New Mexico State University and margarita expert Al Lucero, owner of Maria's Restaurant in Santa Fe, were not buying it.  They chose Bobby Olguin's burger over Flay's.  The story made the front page of the Albuquerque Journal on July 23 and the show will be repeated on the Food Network August 2.

Who makes the best Green Chile Cheeseburger, Bobby Flay or Bobby Olguin?  Or, maybe, just maybe, Gwyneth Doland and myself!  Tonight on the Food Network, on "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," Bobby Olguin of the Buckhorn Tavern in San Antonio, New Mexico, goes up against Bobby Flay in a Green Chile Cheeseburger grill-off.  If you miss it, Food Network will repeat the show on August 2. That's Olguin on the left and Flay on the right.

In 2005, GQ Magazine rated the Buckhorn as having the seventh-best burger in America, so that gives some creds to Olguin, whose family has been doing this for many years. According to Olguin, his father, Mannie Olguin, built the Buckhorn in 1943. "Our liquor license dates back to 1918," he said. "It was transferred from my grandfather’s bar that used to be across the street."

While celebs like Flay get most of the attention, the Fiery Foods team just never gives up.  Click here to watch Gwyneth and myself grill Green Chile Cheeseburgers.  And click here for Gwyn's not-so-secret recipe.

Photo Credits:  Top, J. Clarson; Right, Sergio Salvador


Our European editor, Harald Zoschke, reports from southwest Germany: We drove to the Swiss border south of the other end of Lake Constance (Bodensee).  German BBQ smoker manufacturer "Farmergrill" threw a huge Grilling & BBQ Fest. Not only do they manufacure a wide line of quality smokers, they also run one of Germany's largest BBQ retail stores--we saw most likely more than 100 different grills and smokers there. Reps from various manufacturers were present, and the "Barbecue Academy" smoked excellent brisket (they publish a German BBQ magazine and hold hands-on BBQ classes right here at Lake Constance). Good food, entertainment including electric bull riding (not HZ), chile pepper eating contest, the BBQ Train, at left, with twin smokers, and more.  Great fun!  Here are more pix:




The Big Green Egg arrives in Deutschland!

The showroom at FarmerGrill, complete with a
friendly Burnese Mountain Dog!

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