Easy Grillery-tested recipes by Grillworks and Grillery owners.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Squab by Billy Brackenridge

Another from Mr Brackenridge - squab is something to try if you've never grilled it. Delicate small game flavor and tender as can be - Ben

Squab is young pigeon. They are best taken just as they are beginning to fly.
Squab is a staple of Northern Italian cooking. The mature pigeon is used to make broth which is the basis of a traditional Venetian risotto, but squab is best grilled. You don’t want to grill a mature pigeon!

My parents were married in 1937 and lived in Pasadena California. They didn’t have much money as this was the worst of the depression, but my mother’s parents lived on a ranch where squab were raised. My father built a grill from a galvanized wash tub with the grill suspended by a chain connected to the wood beams of the porch on their Monterey style house. This recipe is based on my mother’s recollection of my father’s recipe.

My mother tells me this was their “party meal” as nobody had any money, but they could entertain lavishly given that the squabs were free. Their guests included M.F.K. Fisher and Julia McWilliams (later Julia Child).

I am paying $8.50 for a squab. I get them in Chinatown in Los Angeles where they are fresh killed. Here is a picture of a squab as purchased.
Here it is trimmed:

As the squab will be eaten with the fingers it is necessary to remove the backbone, brestbone and ribs. I use a small sharp knife and poultry shears.

You can save yourself the labor by ordering “semi-bonless squab” from www.squab.com, but I prefer Chinese poultry shops where birds are fresh killed.
Use a ratio of 3:2 sherry and soy sauce as a marinade (enough to cover). For four squabs add the juice of two lemons. Here I am using a dry sherry, but I’d recommend Dry Sack medium dry.

Refrigerate overnight.

Before grilling add a cup of the marinade and half a stick of butter to the reservoir. Melt the butter, and use a basting brush on squab as it cooks.

Here is the first of the marinade returning to the reservoir. Note the marinade is getting darker.

The marinated squab doesn’t look very attractive, but as it cooks the skin will shrink and it will look more like a bird even though the bones have been removed. Raise or lower the grill to keep a hot fire. The object here is to keep the birds from burning, but brown the birds and marinade so you get a good color. This is why we are using butter rather than oil. It browns up and gets tasty.

Here is the finished squab plated. Each squab has been cut in half along where the breast bone would have been.

This style is best eaten with fingers. There are bones in the drumstick and wings, but none in the breast and thigh which makes this good finger food.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Billy Brackenridge's Top Sirloin (advanced!)

Contributed by Mr Brackenridge, CA:

Saturday I cooked top sirloin. This isn’t worth doing unless you cook the whole sirloin, and this treatment demands prime grade. The sirloin is cut in half; in this case the cuts were 6 and 7 pounds for a total of 13 pounds.

Note the marbling and dark color. This signifies prime grade and dry ageing. There aren’t that many butchers willing to take the effort. The “cap” is retained. This is the outer layer of fat. Note also that the coullotte (biceps femoris) is also retained. The coullotte is the smaller steak. Most butchers remove both the cap and coullotte when they sell top sirloin as a cheap cut. Very few butchers are willing to sell prime dry aged top sirloin.

These cuts are 5 inches thick. If you take them out of the refrigerator and put them on the fire, you will end up with well done on the outside and cold raw meat on the inside. That would be wrong. The goal here is to get to an internal temperature of just short of 120 with as little grey or well done on the outside. In order to do this the steak must go on the grill with an internal temperature of 75 to 80 degrees. Bringing the meat up to temperature will take all day, so it is best to buy the steak the day before. When preparing the steak, cover it in freshly ground black pepper.

This isn’t a very good picture, but that is a large copper Greek pepper grinder, and the steaks are thoroughly covered with pepper. Next step is to coat with olive oil. The pepper and olive oil should be on the steaks for the five or more hours it takes to get up to room temperature. Add chopped garlic an hour or so before cooking.

The object of the cooking is to get a blackened crust that contrasts with the meat flavor. If the garlic is put on too early, it will penetrate into the meat. This isn’t necessarily bad, but if you have great meat, let it show on its own.

In Southern California we use natural mesquite charcoal. Its natural tendency is to burn hot and then die rapidly. Before the Grillery, I would cook on mesquite coals, and I’d count on the fire to run out in order to start out with a strong flame that would burn out.

The Grillery allows a different approach. The object is to get a burned outer coat and everything medium rare all the way to the middle. When I was cooking on a Webber, I’d have to build a large fire, let it reduce to coals, cook, and count on the coals to die out to slow down cooking.

With the Grillery I have 16 inches of travel, but more importantly when I raise the grill the fat goes into the basting pan. This means I can use a smaller fire and start cooking before the mesquite has reduced to coals. The following pictures were taken in the dark without flash, but the point is that the steaks really get burned. These steaks are covered in olive oil and the fat or “cap” is placed nearest the coals. This makes for an inferno:

Start this with the fat side down and turn so that all sides get thoroughly burned. This is why we put so much pepper and olive oil on the outside. The idea is to get a burnt crust for flavor. It is mythology that burning “seals” a steak. The steak retains its internal moisture because we haven’t salted it, and it will cook later. This is just to make a charred outside.
Note that the grill is lowered nearly as far as it will go. After about five minutes of burning, it is time to raise the grill to its maximum height.

You can’t see the steaks, but fat is still dripping into the basting pan. It is burning as it drops. Don’t even think of basting with this stuff. It is completely carbonized. The beauty is that it is no longer causing flame and the steaks are basking in a moderate heat.
After about ten minutes of this moderate heat the steaks are returned to the oven.

My oven is a 1951 O’Keefe and Merritt Aristocrat. I’m told that restored they sell for big bucks in Beverly Hills, but this one is original. The point is that the oven has an old fashioned and politically incorrect pilot light that keeps the oven at about 120 degrees which is what we need for the internal temperature of our steaks.
At this point it is time to open some wine.

My wine of choice is a California 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Growing up we always had Beaulieu Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. I remember my mother calling up Hal Jurgensen, our grocer very upset that he was charging her $4.50 a bottle for the 1964 BV Private Reserve. He told her that someday that wine would sell for $12.00 a bottle. I see it for sale today on the internet for $300.

Here is a bad cellphone picture of the result. I had consumed a few glasses of Cabernet while the steak rested in the oven. There is a little more grey around the edges than I’d like, but it is cooked all the way through to the middle. There was a lot of fat in the basting pan, but that was inedible. There was plenty of Au Jus released as the meat was resting in the oven and when it was carved. That is wonderful, and I put it on my baked potato.

This is a family recipe. My father learned to grill when he was an apprentice winemaker in France in 1933. When he married in 1937, he built a grill from a wash bucket and a chain suspended from a beam in my parents Spanish style house. My mother tells me they were the “first of their set” to grill. This is more from depression economics than any attempt at haut cuisine. My mother tells me they got free squab from my grandparents and were able to lavishly entertain their friends.

Billy Brackenridge's marinaded chicken

After unpacking the grill Friday, I cooked chicken. My marinade is olive oil, dry vermouth, Worcestershire, dry (Coleman’s) mustard, finely chopped white onion, rosemary and black pepper. The marinade tastes dreadful raw. It depends on both the chicken skin and white onion to sweeten when caramelized under fire.

As a Southern Californian I have always cooked over mesquite charcoal, and waited for it to reduce to ash and coals. I took your advice and started with apple wood flame putting the chicken on as soon as the fire started. I mixed in a bit of mesquite charcoal. These are large irregular chunks.

A modest fire gave me 2 ∏ hours of cooking time which is the way I like to cook chicken. I started cooking with the grill at its highest level and gradually reduced the height. This way I was able to keep a constant temperature. The apple wood burned off and mesquite took over.

The groove system worked well, and I basted regularly. As I was able to cook the chicken for a long period over low heat the result was cooked thoroughly and both breast and thighs were moist as the cooking temperature did not boil off the water. The object is to get to an internal temperature of 160 and never get above 212.

The negative of all this is the neighborhood didn’t get to smell my cooking. I have cooked chicken for years, and this method of cooking normally makes a wonderful smell that carries for several hundred yards. With the Grillery, the aromatics went right into the basting pan. The onions sweetened up and rosemary got more and more concentrated, and everything ended up in the chicken.
The resulting chicken was wonderful.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bone-on Standing Rib Steaks

Bone-on rib steaks

Rib steaks should be at LEAST two inches thick. Ask your butcher to cut these pieces from a rib roast, leaving the bone on. The steaks must stand on their edge during cooking. You can't do that with anything smaller than 1.5".

FYI - porterhouse is another great candidate for this treatment. Same rule - make sure it is broad enough to stand upright.

The only two seasoning ingredients needed are fine sea salt and minced garlic. Stock up because you'll need a lot of both.

Let your meat get to room temperature to ensure that the seasonings can penetrate.

Cover every surface of the steak with sea salt. A lot of sea salt. It should look frosted when you're done - if your cuts are the right thickness it will be difficult to overdo. The salt both protects and seasons the meat.

After you've salted, spoon out a generous amount of minced garlic and spread it with the spoon, pushing it into the surface.

Let your steaks sit for 10-20 minutes. By the time you are ready to put them on the grill most of the frosting of salt will have been absorbed.

Start your fire. Use newspaper and small kindling to get going, then add larger pieces of hardwood. No need to build a bonfire - the best heat management is done over a small flame.

Raise the Grillery surface just out of reach of the flames and place the steaks upright on the bone, toward the back of the grill. Lean them against the back of the grill box or the crank axle if they insist on falling over.

The trick is to cook the steaks standing on the rib for most of their time(~80%) on the fire. This protects the meat from overcooking and distributes the flavor up from the bone.

Start basting immediately. Put some butter or olive oil in the drip pan to start things off. Once the steaks have gone a few minutes you'll have a great sauce to brush on the meat.

How to know when to drop them down on their side? Cut and look - when the meat near the bone starts to go from rare to medium-rare knock them over. Since you are continuously basting the meat there won't be any loss of juices after the knife.

Cook to your preference, lower into the flames for a short final sear and serve.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

An array of vegetables

Vegetables can’t be easily cooked on many grills because they require both low heat and basting to stay moist. The Grillery® offers both elements and opens up many more vegetable recipes to the backyard chef.
Suggested basting: Butter and oregano or whatever spices you’re using for the main course, which will subtly blend the tastes.

Eggplant is spectacular. Quarter it longitudinally, then lightly salt and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil. Allow it to drain for 30 minutes to eliminate bitterness. Then dust with Hungarian paprika or oregano. Start cooking skin-side down and baste frequently until soft.

Zucchini should be prepared the same way as eggplant, but does not require salting and draining. It is delicious with dill.

Potatoes take on new character over a wood fire. Cut them longitudinally into quarter-inch slices, then pierce them several times with a fork to help them absorb basting sauces. Sprinkle them with Hungarian paprika and baste frequently. They are ready when they feel soft to the fork. Note: They require more cooking time than most meats or fish; if you are preparing the together, start the potatoes first.

Peppers mellow. Halve or quarter bell peppers and start them with the inside facing down.

Corn gets more interesting. Soak in the husk for 30 minutes, then roast over moderate flame until the outside husks are crisp.

Tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes are amazing on the grill. Halve and sprinkle with oregano, olive oil, black pepper and sea salt. Grill skin-side down until the inside begins to soften.


Poultry on The Grillery

Because the skin is so tasty and so tender, a light dusting of Hungarian paprika helps protect it while also aiding the browning process.
Butterfly chickens, ducks, small turkeys, game hens, pheasants, partridges or quail by cutting through the breastbone then flattening the bird with your thumbs against the backbone and pulling outward on the ribs. Grill them bone-side down first, and leave them in that position until the flesh is cooked most of the way through. Then turn them, basting frequently, until the skin is golden brown. Note: The bone-side can take intense heat and should account for most cooking time; skin must be treated more tenderly.

Suggested basting sauces:
For Chicken: Lemon, soy and French-style mustard.
For Duck: Armagnac (or brandy), with tart cherries.
For Turkey: Butter and garlic
For Game Birds: Red wine, cinnamon and lime juice.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Whole Butterflied Fish on the Grillery

Whole Butterflied Fish - Salmon, bluefish and other oil-rich species recommended

Whole 4-15 lb fish should be butterflied by cutting through the ribs where they join the spine, being careful to slice to-but not through- the skin. The cut should go from the head all the way to the tail, so that the skin of both sides lies flat. Head, dorsal fin and tail should be left on, but others, as well as the hard “cheeks” in back of the gill-covers, impede serving and should be removed. Coat the skin sides with high-quality olive oil and sprinkle the flesh side with Hungarian paprika.
Next, cover a space on the V-Channels as large as the opened fish with at least one inch of fresh dill or parsley. Then place the fish, skin-side down, on the herbs. In the case of large fish, angle so that the head protrudes from the opening at the left rear of the grill, and the tail at right-front, as you face the grill. This arrangement assures that the thickest part of the fish gets the most heat.
Cook over low heat, with the grill surface fully raised. Do not turn the fish. Do baste frequently, and loosen from the dill occasionally with a spatula.

A 15-lb salmon will be done in one hour from the time you place it on the grill. Serve when the flesh on top of the thickest part is done to within 1/8" of the surface. To serve whole(recommended), bring the fish forward with two spatulae while a helper holds a platter under the basting pan.

Suggested basting: Butter, light sea salt, lemon, dill and/or parsley.

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