Thursday, November 4, 2010

Barbecoa, London

Jamie Oliver is opening an upscale barbecue restaurant in London tomorrow.

“The word barbecue is very misused in England,” he says. “English people, to be honest, don’t understand what barbecuing is, probably 99 percent of the whole population, and that sounds very patronizing and I don’t really care. Barbecue, properly done, is something that we don’t do here, so it’s been nice to bring it to the City.” More in this Bloomberg article.

Sounds good to me.  I'll be happy to try out and review Barbecoa next time I visit London.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wings & Bones

What a beautiful Halloween weekend. Sunshine and warm temperatures, which means, it's time to fire up the pit again!  Let there be smoke!

Charcoal and big logs of cherry wood in to the firebox.

Got a couple of racks of baby back ribs and a bunch of chicken wings.  Generously dusted them with sugar and spice, my own rub that is.

Smoking the wings gives the meat the most fantastic flavour, but the skin stays rubbery, which means, we need to crisp the skin.  Grill them a couple of minutes each side while basting with hot wing sauce.  I use Stubb's Inferno Wicked Wing sauce, as it's more or less the only wing sauce available in the shops here and it's just absolutely wonderful.

Once the skin is crispy, let them set for 10-15 minutes and serve'em with more hot wing sauce. Seriously hot, but so good!

Oh yeah, we got some ribs too.  These baby's are nearly done.

Glaze them with a mixture of runny honey and your favourite BBQ sauce and keep in the hot smoker for another 15 minutes, so the glaze will stick.

Lean, tender, moist, spicy and sweet BBQ ribs.

OK, I'm hungry. I think I need to make a few BBQ Rib sandwiches now...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Aussie Burger

When a cheeseburger is not enough, go Aussie Burger!  Make your cheeseburger as you like and add beetroot, grilled pineapple rings, a fried egg and voilĂ , we have an Aussie Burger.  You might want to spice it up a bit by adding a hot sauce or chili flakes in your burger patty.

Happy National Cheeseburger Day everyone!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Baharat Lamb Chops

When I got home from work tonight, I could smell this beautiful grill aroma in the air.  I thought my neighbors must be grilling, but no, it was my wife! What a nice surprise, she had just started grilling on her small table top charcoal grill these lovely lamb chops, which she had marinated in a baharat spice mix for few hours.

Served with a fresh and spicy home made couscous salad.

Thank you darling, absolutely delicious!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Beauty of the Ribs

Cooked a few BBQ  ribs last weekend.  Smoked ribs - my all time favourite. Cherry wood smoked baby back ribs, what a bliss!

Click on the images for bigger versions.

Juicy and tender, sweet and spicy.

Glazed with Stubb's Original BBQ Sauce and honey.

Served with a few BBQ starters.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Smoked Ambrosia?

Barbecued pork butt, rubbed in Southern Succor Rub, basted with Southern Sop, served with hot and sweet Carolina Red, Carolina Coleslaw and a fresh crispy bun. This must be the smoked ambrosia! It just doesn't get better than this, does it? The rub and the sop have a dominating flavor of black pepper which goes so well with pulled pork.

I had this nice and lean 1.3kg (3lbs) pork shoulder (butt), which I rubbed with Southern Succor rub on Friday night. Kept it in the fridge overnight and re-rubbed it on Saturday noon just before I put it in the smoker.

Southern Succor Rub
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp paprika powder
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Smoked it with cherry wood for about 10 hours low and slow until it reached 190F (88C) internal temperature.

I mopped the butt every couple of hours with Southern Sop.  Got to use my new angled silicone mop designed by Elizabeth "GrillGirl" Karmel. This is an excellent mop, as you can really reach everywhere with it. This is a definite keeper!

Southern Sop
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • half a cup of water
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • half tbsp paprika powder
  • half tbsp cayenne pepper
  • good splash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp of Southern Succor Rub
Heat up all the ingredients over mild heat.

After 10 hours I wrapped the butt in tinfoil and let it rest about two hours. Once it has rested, I cut it in half. Beautiful red smoke ring! Juicy and moist meat.

Time to pull the meat.  I use two forks to pull it.

I wanted a hot and sweet BBQ sauce for my Pulled Pork sandwiches.  Carolina Red is quick to do and tastes fantastic.  As I have these beautiful Red Savinas still growing in my garden, I used on of those to heat up my Carolina Red.

Carolina Red
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • half a cup tomato ketchup
  • half tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 whole finely chopped fresh Habanero or Red Savina if you like it hot
Heat up all the ingredients over mild heat while mixing it gently.

We still need a coleslaw for the sandwich. Carolina Coleslaw is a vinegar based coleslaw, taste much more fresh than the mayonnaise based ones. It should be made with peppers rather than carrots, but as I had no peppers available, I used carrots.

Carolina Coleslaw
  • half a cabbage
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper (paprika).
  • half cup white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (or more if you like it sweet)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper or celery seeds

Take a fresh and crispy bread roll and fill it with a good amount of pulled pork, good splash of Carolina Red and a handful of Carolina Coleslaw. I attacked this sandwich harder than Adam Richman from Man vs. Food ever did! Crispy and soft bread, moist meat, crunchy coleslaw and beautiful sweet BBQ sauce with a serious kick of heat!

This is the smoked food of the gods!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Say Cheeseburger!!!

Burger is good.

Cheeseburger is better.

Cheeseburger is like sex.  When it's  bad, it's still pretty good.

When it's good, it's awesome!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Traditional Texas Chili

The greatest debate in Texas cooking must be about Chili con Carne. When was it first made? By whom and how?

I've been studying the history of Chili con Carne (Chili)  for quite some time and the more I read, the more confused I get. I have managed to find at least a few "agreed" facts:

  • Chili comes from Texas, not Mexico
  • Chili was a popular Cowboy food already in the early 19th century 
  • first Chili recipes had only meat, chile pepper, cumin, oregano and garlic
  • Texas Chili never has beans, but modern versions often have tomatoes

Here is one of the oldest known Chili recipes from early 1800's from a Texas range cook:

"Cut up as much meat as you think you will need (any kind will do, but beef is probably best) in pieces about the size of a pecan. Put it in a pot, along with some suet (enough so as the meat won't stick to the sides of the pot), and cook it with about the same amount of wild onions, garlic, oregano, and chiles as you have got meat. Put in some salt. Stir it from time to time and cook it until the meat is as tender as you think it's going to get."

Sounds good to me, relaxed and easy recipe. Note, there are onions mentioned in this recipe.  I'll be doing my traditional Chili more or less like this.

There are some great reads on the internet about the history of Chili. I won't be listing them here, just Google the subject and you'll find them.  The best book I've read about Cowboy Cooking  is the excellent Texas Cowboy Cookbook by Robb Walsh. This book brings a great insight into what cooking in the Wild West actually was, and how it has evolved to modern times. This book actually inspired me to get in to traditional Cowboy cooking in the first place.

Anyway, enough about the history, let's get cooking.  Cowboys cooked their food in Dutch Ovens, so I'll be doing my Chili with a Dutch Oven (DO) as well. Got myself a nice Lodge 12" DO.

Ingredients for the Chili:

  • 1 kg (2lbs) of beef
  • two large onions
  • 1 garlic
  • 1 heap tablespoon of ground cumin
  • wild oregano
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • dash of salt
  • various chilies
  • liquid (more on that later)

I got some dried Ancho and Pasilla chilies.  Soak them in the water for about a half an hour. Get rid of the soaking water, put the softened chilies in a blender after removing the stems and seeds, add a cup of water and make a nice paste of them.

As I'm growing chilies myself in my garden, I picked up two fresh Poblanos and one Red Savina for some serious heat. Chopped them up really fine. I used a whole garlic, crushed and chopped, 2 large onions chopped coarsely, wild oregano and a couple of bay leaves.

Heat up the DO with hot charcoal under it. Pour in some vegetable oil and brown up the beef in two or three batches, as you want to give the meat some space while browning it.  I sprinkled some salt on the meat at this stage.

Take out the meat and sauté the coarsely chopped onions until golden, add the crushed garlic and finally the browned meat. Now you can add all the spices; cumin, oregano and the chilies (fresh, powder, paste or all of them).

Let it simmer for a minute or two and add the liquid. As I was drinking strong black coffee, I poured a good cup of freshly brewed coffee in to the Chili. Close the lid of the DO and place around a dozen of hot charcoals on the lid.  Now it's time to sit and wait for a couple of hours. However, you just can't forget about it.  Every hour or so check the amount of liquid and add more if needed. Also turn the lid around for more even heat distribution.

After 2 hours or so, the Chili could use a bit more liquid.  I was thirsty as well, so I opened a bottle of beer. Gave the Chili half of the beer and drank the other half myself.  About two more hours of slow simmering and the Chili is ready. Meat is really nice and tender with rich flavors.

How to serve the Chili?  Well that could be another long debate. I served mine with chopped onions, grated cheese and crackers.

It was delicious.  Seriously hot, but that's how I like it. Well worth the effort.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Let's try some Caribbean cooking for a change - Jerk Chicken served with Jamaican Rice.

Jerk is the Jamaican style of barbecued meat. Jerk seasoning is a hot paste made of quite a few different ingredients. This is how I made my own. This makes enough to marinate 2 whole chickens.

Here are the fresh ingredients.

  • Juice of half an orange
  • juice of a lime
  • 1 onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2-4 Scotch Bonnet chilies (Habaneros in my case)
  • 1 tbsp of crushed fresh ginger
  • 3 spring onions (scallions) 

And the dry ones.

  • 1 tbsp allspice (Jamaica Pepper, Pimenta)
  • 1 tbsp thyme  (rather use fresh thyme if available)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 0,5 tbsp salt
  • 0,5 tbsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar.

And my secret ingredient. Red Savina chilies from my own garden. I've been growing these from seeds. These are insanely hot!

Chop up roughly all the ingredients and put them all in the blender. Add a splash of olive oil, soy sauce and vinegar. Blend until it turns in to a smooth and thick paste.  If it seems too dry, add a bit orange juice or olive oil.

I chopped the chicken in to quarters. Put the chicken pieces in a zip lock bag or similar plastic bag and pour in about half of the jerk seasoning you just made. Save some of the Jerk as a extremely hot side sauce for serving.

Marinate the chicken overnight in the fridge or even longer (24 to 48hrs for more intense flavour).

Set up the grill for indirect cooking, but first give the chicken a bit colour by grilling it a minute or two on each side. I must honestly say, I have never smelled so good aromas once the chicken hit the grill!

As I don't have pimento wood for smoking, I wrapped some pimento/allspice berries in a tinfoil pouch for a bit of aromatic smoke. You could do fine without it, but if you have the berries, why not.

Move the chicken away from the charcoal to the cold side of the grill, close the lid of the Weber kettle and gently cook the chicken for about an hour in indirect heat. Those allspice berries smoking gave a divine aroma.

Meanwhile I made the Jamaican Rice.

Ingredients for the Jamaican Rice are:
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 can of red beans
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 3 spring onions (scallions)
  • 1 hot chili pepper (don't chop it)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil or a good nob of butter

Drain the liquid out of the beans and keep it aside, for a while.  For 2 cups of rice you need 4 cups of liquid. Use any cup or mug you want, for the measurements.  Use the liquid of the beans, 1 can of coconut milk and for the rest of liquid, use plain water, to get the 4 cups of liquid in total.

Put all ingredients in a pot, bring to boil, lower the heat and cook in mild heat for about 25-30 minutes or until rice is cooked.  Remove the chili pepper and the spring onions before serving.

Serve some Jerk seasoning on the side for more heat. I didn't need much...

Oh man this tasted good, absolutely fantastic flavour.  It's rather hot food, but hey, if it ain't hot, it ain't jerk!