Monday, May 30, 2011

Beef Brisket on the Gas Grill

I think brisket is one of the best meats on the grill.  Cooked low and slow over hardwood charcoal and hickory wood, it takes on the flavor of wood and smoke and its meat becomes succulently tender and unforgettable.

My smoker of choice is the Big Green Egg (brisket on the Big Green Egg recipe here), but today I used our Weber Genesis gas grill.  While we lost some of the smoke flavor, this brisket was mind-blowingly good.  It's completely worth making, particularly if you are more familiar with or want the convenience of your gas grill.

The recipe is below, but here are some general tips that work for me:

1) When you get your brisket, ask the butcher not to trim it.  Score the fat in a crosshatch pattern before seasoning. Cook fat side up. The fat bastes the meat while it's cooking, and that's a good thing.

2) Dry rub all the way! I use Penzey's BBQ 3000 seasoning, but any mixed rub will do. Generously season (don't be shy!) and massage it into the meat. I probably use a couple tbs. or more of rub.  If I don't have any rub, I will generously season the brisket with paprika, a little chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, kosher salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I don't even bother mixing the rub together.  I just sprinkle the spices in different layers.

3) If you think of it, dry rub the meat the night before, put it in a Ziploc bag, and let it season overnight.  If you don't remember, no worries.  Just dry rub before cooking and go.

4) Even if you're using a gas grill, some smoke is nice.  Take a couple handfuls of hickory chips and soak in water for 30 minutes.  Place drained chips in a foil pouch, poke holes in the top and follow your grill's instructions on where to put the pouch so that it will smoke.  On our Weber, we put the packet under the grill grate and on top of one of the flavorizer bars that is lit.  You can replace the pouch every hour with a new pouch if you want.  We didn't bother this time around, and the brisket was still fantastic.

5) Get the grill to an even temp of 275 degrees.  On our Weber, we turn the outermost left and right burners on and place the brisket, fat side up, in the center of the grill.  The heat acts like a convection oven and the brisket, b/c no direct heat is under it, slowly browns and burnishes without burning.  You don't even need to flip it.  If your grill doesn't work this way, you need to watch it.  You may want to cook it uncovered the first hour as the wood chips are smoking, and then if you think it's in danger of burning, wrap it in foil and cook it the rest of the way.

6) Get a meat thermometer.  The meat is ready when it's an internal temp of 197 degrees. We have one of those meat thermometers that has a probe that goes into the meat and into the oven/grill, and the thermometer can sit on the counter and continuously show the temp.  It's very convenient.

7) Be prepared to have your time thrown off.  The first time I made this brisket, it took 4-5 hours to get to temp.  This time around, it took around 7 hours to get to temp.  Maybe it's a difference between the Big Green Egg and the Weber, but there shouldn't be a difference if I'm cooking at the same temperature.  It's a mystery. By the way, if you want to cook it at a higher temp, say 300 or 325 degrees, it will take less time.  It'll still be great.

8) When the brisket is done, wrap it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Cut in thin slices against the grain. 

9) Prepare to go to heaven when you put the brisket in your mouth!

Postscript: It's a few weeks later, and I'm cooking another brisket, but since I'm trying to get the brisket to cook faster (okay, I'm last minute), I put it in a foil packet with some beer to see what happens.  I found this link after the fact, and I guess this is a variation on the "Texas crutch." This is an informative article, so I recommend reading it if you're interested in cooking brisket.

Beef Brisket on the Gas Grill

3-6 lb. beef brisket, untrimmed of fat
Penzey's BBQ 3000 seasoning or other mixed rub
Hickory chips
Meat thermometer
4-7 hours worth of time on the grill

Preferably the day before, score the fat layer on the brisket in a crosshatch pattern.  Generously season both sides of the brisket with dry rib rub and massage it into the meat. I probably use a couple tbs. or more of rub.  If you're doing this the night before, put it in a Ziploc bag, and let it season overnight.  If you are doing this the day of, place the seasoned meat on a plate or baking sheet and leave on the counter while you're doing your next steps (another 30 minutes).  It's all right, even preferable, for the meat to come to room temperature.

Put a couple handful of hickory chips in a bowl with water and soak for 30 minutes. After they have soaked, put the drained chips onto a piece of foil and make it into a packet.  Poke holes in the top with a fork, so that the smoke can come out.

While the chips are soaking, get your grill ready.  If your grates are not clean, heat the grill up to high and then scrape the grates clean with your grill scraper.  Turn off the burners and let cool down.  

When you're ready to go, put the foil packet of chips where it is recommended for your grill for smoking. We have a Weber and put it on top of a flavorizer bar that will be turned on.  Turn on outer left and right burners and leave the center burners off.  Adjust heat until you have a 275 degree temperature with the lid closed. 

When the grill is to temp, place the brisket on the center grate, fat side up.  Close the grill lid and adjust temp until it's at 275 degrees.

Cook for about 5 hours, although it could take longer.  The meat is ready when it's an internal temp of 197 degrees.

When the brisket is done, wrap it in foil and let it rest for 30 minutes.  Cut in thin slices against the grain. 

Serve plain or with BBQ sauce.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Brussel Sprout Chips

It's 4 pm, and I am starving.  I shouldn't be hungry as in the the last few hours I have eaten an orange, blueberries, a handful of nuts, and some watermelon. I have drunk some berry tea and several glasses of water.

This is what happens to me on Day 1 of a diet. The feeling of deprivation.

I was in the kitchen looking for what I could eat on this Candida Diet the nutritionist put me on, and I found it right there in the fridge.  Brussel sprouts!

Roasted until crisp, they taste just as good as potato chips.  But with a lot more vitamins and no carbs.  If you like potato chips or kale chips, try these out.

Brussel Sprout Chips

Brussel Sprouts
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Pepper or red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse brussel sprouts.  Cut stem off brussel sprout, almost 1/3 up the brussel sprout and enough to loosen the leaves.  Discarding any discolored leaves, separate the rest of the leaves as much as you can and then cut the remaining little ball in 1/2.  Place on a Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Continue with the rest of the sprouts until you are done.

Drizzle sprouts with olive oil and sprinkle generously with kosher salt (you want them potato chip salty).  Toss together until the sprouts are evenly coated and spread out on the baking sheet.  Top with a few grinds of black pepper or sprinkle with a few red pepper flakes.

Bake for 10 minutes and check.  If there are any browned and crispy leaves, pull them out. Toss with tongs or a spatula, redistributing the leaves so they cook evenly.  Check every few minutes and take out any more crisped leaves, tossing and redistributing again. Repeat until the centers are browned and fork-tender.

This can take another 10 minutes or more.

Yeast Free Diet Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower

I haven't blogged in so long.  Work has kept me busy these past few months.  I miss all my blog friends; I hope I have not been forgotten.

I'm starting a new journey today.  In order to enjoy better health, I met with Liz, a friend and nutritionist, and she has put me on a yeast-free diet.  If you saw Liz, with her bright eyes, glowing skin, and trim figure, you would go on this diet too.

Have you ever heard tried this diet?

I googled online when I got home to find out more, and this diet is focused on controlling yeast in the body.  Rampant yeast, encouraged by a diet of starch, sugar, and yes, yeast, throws the body's systems out of balance and wreaks havoc, causing syptoms like headaches, fatigue, leaky gut syndrome and more.

The first phase of the program is about 10 days, and you must stay strict to the guidelines as your goal is to kill off the overgrowth of yeast by starving it.  No carbs, sugar, fermented foods (vinegar, mustard, alcohol, ketchup, soy sauce, etc.), dairy, funghi, peanuts and pistachios, dried fruits, and high-sugar fruits like bananas,  pineapples, cherries and mangos.

While my first reaction was this diet would really put a damper on my summer cooking, I think I'd rather take it on as a challenge to make great food that fits the restrictions.  The first is an oldie but goodie for me: roasted cauliflower.

Wish me luck!

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
A few tbs. olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Separate the head into florets and cut the florets into thinner pieces.  You can cut them as thick or thin as you like -- you'll just have to adjust the cooking time as the thicker they are, the longer they will take to brown and vice versa.

I like to put the cut florets into a big bowl, so I can toss the cauliflower well with olive, garlic, kosher salt, and pepper.  I use my hands to toss the cauliflower, so I know everything is well-coated and the garlic is distributed.  Then I put the cauliflower onto a Silpat-covered baking sheet.  The other way to do it is to to put the cauliflower onto the baking sheet, generously drizzle with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and garlic, and mix it around directly on the baking sheet. Your choice.

Put the baking sheet into the oven and after 10 minutes, flip the cauliflower over, turning occasionally from there on in.  If after 20 minutes, the cauliflower is browned to your liking, take it out.  If you want to cook the cauliflower longer, go ahead.  They're really yummy when they're browned and almost charred.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Rewind: Mexican-Inspired Chicken Wings

I first posted this recipe last August, but since everyone loves these chicken wings, it's time to post them again. If you're looking for an easy and winning chicken wing recipe for a weeknight supper or a party, this is it.  Hands down.

I served these wings this week for a Cinco de Mayo party for my school, and they were gone in the blink of an eye.  Even though I *way* overcooked them -- blame it on my penchant for talking to guests and completely forgetting they were in the oven -- people devoured them and were asking who made the wings.

In addition to being crispy, delectable wings, they are full proof. You can't beat that!

Mexican-Inspired Chicken Wings

2 packs chicken wings or drum sticks,
1 1/2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice (or a mixture)
4 tablespoons olive oil,
2 teaspoons Penzeys Fajita Seasoning
1 teaspoon chili powder,
4 grinds of pepper,
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon sugar


Take the chicken and all the other chicken wing ingedients and put them in a plastic Zip-loc bag.

Put the bag in the fridge and let it marinate for 2 hours to over night.

Take out the chicken and place it on a cookie sheet(s), preferably not touching each other, and bake for 20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Check the chicken wings and switch racks if you have 2 trays and bake for another 25 minutes until the skin is lightly browned.

You can cook them over an hour to get them really crispy.