Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Buffalo Wings

Got a new deep fryer this week!  Had to try it out instantly - what would be a better test than Buffalo Wings?

Coated the chicken wings lightly with salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Maybe a tiny dash of paprika powder too.  Fryer was set at 190°C and fried the wings for about 10-11 minutes.

Nice and crispy. And I mean *CRISPY* !

I was looking for some Cayenne based hot sauce and found this. A whole gallon of it!

Melted plenty of butter and mixed in about same amount of the Louisiana Hot Sauce.

Wings in to a bowl with the sauce, a plate on top and shake it up vigorously.

Excellent Buffalo Wings! Crispy outside, juicy and tasty chicken inside and a lovely heat from the sauce.  I might make this again...

Edit. Had to try the wings with the Blue Cheese Dip as well.

HOLY GUACAMOLE, BATMAN! That just tastes soooo gooood! Really amazing. Thanks for the tip, Eric!

I didn't measure too much for the dip, but I made it somewhat like this:

150gr mayonnaise
150gr cup sour cream
150gr crumbled blue cheese
1 clove garlic, minced fine
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp white vinegar
salt and pepper

Crumble the blue cheese with a fork. Add all other ingredients and mix it well. Let it set in the fridge for an hour or two.


Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Tips For Great Tasting Fajitas

I got asked a few times recently how to make really good tasting Fajitas yourself, instead of using the ready made commercial kits full of E-numbers and other crap. As I made Fajitas again last weekend, I thought I'll share a few tips and tricks in a bit more detail instead of the usual picture reportage.

Here's my 5 tips for absolutely fantastic tasting Fajitas.

Tip 1. The Meat and the Marinade.

Traditionally the one and only Fajitas meat is skirt steak. However, as skirt steak is not a very popular cut here in Europe and it's hard - if not impossible - to find at local meat counters, we need to find alternatives.  In my opinion,  just as good, if not better, is the fillet of beef (tenderloin).  Another cheaper but still incredibly tasty option is of course chicken breast fillets.  Either of these do taste fantastic when marinated properly. As I made Beef Fajitas earlier this month, I'll be making chicken Fajitas this time.

This marinade works just as good with beef or chicken:

  • 1 dl soy sauce (Kikkoman works great)
  • 1 dl water
  • few crushed cloves of garlic or 1 tbslp of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp hot chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp paprika powder
  • back pepper
  • white pepper
  • (salt) I usually skip the salt here, as the soy sauce is salty enough to my taste
Mix up the ingredients and the marinade is ready. Put the meat in a zip-lock bag or a sealed container and add the marinade. Keep in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.   Give it a mix or shake once or twice.

The secret here is the soy sauce. It is just unbelievable how good flavour it brings to the meat. I didn't believe it until I tried it myself. Trust me, it is good. After doing soy sauce based marinades with meat and chicken for the first time a few years ago, I have started to buy soy sauce in 1l bottles from Asian shops. They cost about 5e per bottle and make quite a few excellent marinades.

Tip 2. The Marinade for the Vegetables

Nice choice of vegetables for Fajitas is of course grilled onions and paprikas (bell peppers).

For the marinade, again, key is the soy sauce.  For the veggies a lighter marinade is enough as we don't want to kill the flavour of the veggies, just enhance it a little.  Therefore,  sprinkle some soy sauce, a little bit salt and some freshly ground black pepper on the vegetables. Mix them around a couple of times before you grill them. It doesn't make sense to actually grill them on a real grill, so best way is to brown  them on a hot cast iron skillet. I usually don't put any oil on the skillet, but add a bit of oil to the vegetables just before cooking them.

Tip 3. Grilling the Meat

You could grill the meat on a cast iron skillet as well. It would taste very good, but for the really special flavor we need of course charcoal and a little bit of wood.

The traditional smoke flavour for Fajitas is mesquite.  We don't need to BBQ the meat, but adding mesquite wood chips on the hot charcoal does add to the flavour very nicely.

Place the meat or the chicken on the grill directly over the hot charcoal and grill it about 1 minute each side. Close the lid between turning the meat so the mesquite wood chips start to smoke instead of just burning.

The beef is done when it's browned on each side.  Same goes for thin chicken fillets. If you have thicker chicken pieces, move them away from the charcoal to the cold side of the grill and close the lid for a couple of minutes just to make sure the chicken is well cooked.

Cut the meat to thin strips and place it on a hot sizzling skillet next to the vegetables for serving.

Tip 4. Pico de Gallo

The real flavours of Mexican food to me comes from coriander (cilantro) and lime. If I don't have them available, I don't cook Mexican.  A great condiment for Fajitas is Pico de Gallo. It is also known as Salsa Fresca, as it's indeed a fresh and tasty Mexican Salsa.

For the salsa, you need:

  • 6-8 nice and aromatic tomatoes
  • 1-2 onions
  • few sprigs of fresh coriander 
  • 2 green chillies (jalapeños etc.)
  • 1 lime 
  • dash of salt
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper

De-seed the tomatoes and discard the seeds. Chop the tomato flesh to small bite size chunks. Chop the onions, chillies and coriander as well.  Squeeze in the juice of the lime and mix it all up well.  Let it settle in the fridge for an hour or two.

Serve with the Fajitas and enjoy. I can tell from experience, no matter how much I make of this, there is never anything left over.  It is a really really nice and refreshing salsa.

Tip 5. Easy Guacamole

If you made the salsa above, it's your lucky day -  making Guacamole couldn't be more easier.

Mash up 2-3 avocados with a fork or a potato masher.  Just before serving, fold in 1-2 tablespoons of the salsa. Done!


That's it!  Hope you enjoyed the tips.

Putting it all together, I like to add some sour cream for the extra moistness and being a chili-head, any hot chilies or hot sauces for the extra kick.  Sometimes some shredded cheese or refried beans as well.

Last but not least, make your own tortillas if you got the time. They are always better.  This time I didn't have the time so I cheated and used ready made ones.  I promise, these Fajitas were delicious anyway!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's BBQ Time!!!

Finally the move to our house is more or less over. It's been a busy three months, so haven't had a chance to do a proper BBQ in a long time. Sun is shining, weather is nice, time to fire up the pit and do some real BBQ again!

For the Pulled Pork we need a "butt". I bought this nice 3kg pork shoulder or actually a neck, as that's how they call it here in Germany. I used the good old recipe for the Southern Succor rub and the Southern Sop baste, which can be found here. Kept the Butt rubbed and refrigerated for a few hours and re-rubbed it before it went to the pit.

I wanted to experiment a bit with the baby back ribs. I didn't make my usual rub this time, but used on one of the ribs the Southern Succor rub and on the other one a ready made Stubb's BBQ rub.

For a long time I've been wanting to try the traditional 1800's style rub - salt and pepper.

After an hour or two I put the chicken wings in the smoker too. As the pit is open, used the opportunity to check the butt and the ribs.

Basting the butt generously with a warm Southern Sop.

Sprayed apple cider vinegar on the ribs to keep them moist.

Time to add more charcoal and wood. This time I used both apple and cherry tree for the smoke.

First thing ready is the chicken. After smoking the wings for a good hour and a half, I still grilled them for a nice crispy skin. I was basting the wings with Stubb's Inferno Wicked Wing sauce while grilling. Very tasty and hotter than I remembered!

Next the ribs are done. As usual, tasted very nice. My own rub has a bit more kick than the ones I used here, but nevertheless ribs were gone in a flash.

I let Sterno Jr. try BBQ ribs for the first time. I gave him the ribs which had just salt and pepper for the rub. Oh boy did he like it! He cleared quite a few bones and he is just 15 months old! Well, I should have known as his favourite food is a grilled ribeye steak...

Another 8 hours later the pork shoulder is ready. Let it cool for an hour or two and pull it with two forks in to this nice shredded meat.

Pulled Pork Sandwich served with home made Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Heaven!!

Pulled Pork Sandwich served with vinegar based coleslaw and home made Jack Daniels BBQ sauce. Even more heaven!!

I love ribs! I love Pulled Pork Sandwiches! I love BBQ!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ribeye with Mojo Verde

I fancied something nice and garlicky. What could be better than a green Mojo sauce and a good steak?

Got this lovely 2.8 kg piece of Argentinian Ribeye/Entrecôte.

I cut to meat to nice and thick 450-500gr steaks. Seasoned them lightly with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.

While waiting for the charcoal to get hot, I made a Mojo Verde sauce. Mojo sauces originate from Canary Islands and they go really well with grilled meat. Actually, they go really well with just about anything.

For the Mojo Verde, I put in a blender: 3 fat cloves of garlic, half tablespoon of sea salt, medium bunch each of fresh parsley and coriander, 2 green fresh jalapeños de-seeded and a teaspoon of ground cumin. Blend it to a fine puree. Slowly add 15 ml white wine vinegar and 100 ml olive oil while blending until smooth. Keep the sauce refrigerated. Should keep a few days.

Once the charcoal is really hot, throw the steaks in the grill. The Trick is to really let both sides sear properly. Big steaks like this can take easily 4-5 minutes of direct heat per side. If you let the meat char properly, you will get this intense lovely charcoal steak flavour, which is just heavenly.

Let the steaks rest 5-10 minutes before eating.

Served the steaks with the Mojo Verde, a bean stew and a good glass of red wine. Very very tasty!

To be honest, a good steak like this needs just the salt and pepper. It's fantastic as it is. The sauce adds a good extra kick and sure hits the spot for all the garlic lovers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mexican Eggs Benedict

I love Eggs Benedict, poached eggs on English muffin with bacon and Sauce Hollandaise. I also love Mexican breakfasts, like Ox Eyes, poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce served on a tortilla. So why not make the best of both worlds?

I sautéed the onions and the fresh jalapeños in a dash of olive oil. Once the onions were golden, I added a can of chopped tomatoes and a half a cup of water to the sauce pan. Spiced it up with some seriously hot chili powder, pinch of salt, black pepper and a tiny dash of brown sugar.

I let the sauce simmer for 10-15 minutes, while preparing the bacon in the oven and toasted two English muffins.

Time to poach the eggs. Break them gently in to the sauce and let them cook for a few minutes, depending on how runny you like the egg yolks.

Place the poached eggs on top of the bacon, pour over more of the hot tomato sauce and garnish the plate with freshly chopped coriander.

Serve with hot coffee and cold orange juice. Perfect breakfast for one of those days, when you need something a little bit stronger!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Beef Fajitas

I was wondering what to do with the thin and thick part of the tenderloin beef, which was left over from the Wednesdays steak night. Then I remembered - Beef Fajitas!

I quickly ignited the charcoal and prepared some mesquite wood chips for that perfect Tex Mex flavour.

I chopped up the tenderloin in to small steaks. Marinated them for about 2 hours with hot chili powder, garlic powder, white pepper, salt, paprika powder and black pepper. Mixed up a half a cup of soy sauce and water for the liquid.

Grilled the little steaks over the hot charcoal and mesquite wood chips for a minute or two on each side.

Grilled some onions and paprikas on the skillet.

Served with home made Pico de Gallo, hot sauce, sour cream and a couple of ice cold beers.

Perfect Friday night dinner!