Friday, June 6, 2014

Southwestern Spice Blend

Everybody has their spice blends.  This is one I use a lot.  It's actually not mine but a slightly customized version of Emeril's that I got from the Food TV web site.

I use some whole ingredients that I grind in an old coffee mill when I mix a batch.  They are: cumin, coriander, black pepper and dried chiles.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp coriander
2 dried habaneros or 1 dried ghost pepper, ground
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 large or 2 small chipotles, the dry ones, ground
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

I actually use more black pepper than that.  If you want to try the official Emeril version, delete the habaneros and chipotles and add a teaspoon each of cayenne and crushed red peppers.

I use this blend as-is on steaks and in southwestern type foods like chili and fajitas.  I mix it with brown sugar and use it as a rub for slow cooked ribs.

Friday, May 30, 2014

About My Gear plus a Shout Out

Before I get into the gear, I want to mention a great site, http://amazingribs.com/.  It has recipes, techniques, and equipment reviews.  What I've learned from this site has taken my grilling skills to a new level.

In no particular order, these are a few of my favorite things for grilling.

Grill Grate ET732 Long Range Wireless Thermometer - It has two probes, one for the grill and one for the meat.  It claims a 300 foot range.  My yard isn't that big but I can use the receiver in my living room with the grill in the back yard.  There's a feature I haven't used that could be useful.  You can program a temperature range that will trigger an alarm if it goes above or below.  The only gripe I have with this is that the food probe is huge.  It's hard to know precisely where the sensor is in the meat.  I prefer to use it only to know when I'm in the ballpark.  I use an instant read thermometer to decide when the meat is cooked.  I can recommend it but for other options, see here.

Dyna-Glo DGE Series 5 burner gas grill - It's not perfect but overall I'm happy with it.  5 burners help to control the temperature, especially for indirect grilling.  The burners themselves run front to back and they are pretty equally spaced side to side.  I run 2 or 3 burners for indirect cooking leaving around 1/3 to 1/2 of the grilling surface available.  If I have a gripe it's that there is an opening in the back that runs the length (width?) of the grill and is about 3" high below the lid.  That lets a lot of heat out but does let you peek without opening the lid.  Overall, I think it's a pretty good buy for less than $400.

Smoker Box and an assortment of wood chips.  No recommendations here.  I spent $20 on one that's maybe 3" wide by 7-8" long and 1" deep.  You could easily make foil pouches for your wood chips.  So far I've used apple, hickory, and mesquite chips.  I find this to be a pretty good selection.  Traditionally apple or cherry is what you would use for chicken, hickory for pork and mesquite for beef.  I find hickory can work for chicken and some also swear by mesquite.  I do like hickory for pork and mesquite for beef but use whatever you like.  You have to eat it.

There will probably be a part two to this at some point.  There are a few things I want to try.

Smoked Tandoori Style Chicken on a Gas Grill

Welcome to my newly created food blog.  I intend to write mainly about recipes and techniques but anything food related is fair game.  Since the weather is pretty nice, I expect the first few posts to be a bit grilling-centric.  I'm going to jump right in with Tandoori Chicken that I made the other night.

Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients:
chicken parts - whatever you like, I used legs and thighs, breasts work, a whole cut up chicken would be good too
tandoori masala - get this at an Indian grocery store or ethnic food section, 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons per pound of chicken
garlic
ginger root - you want roughly 1/2 to 1 tablespoon each of garlic and ginger per pound of chicken
yogurt - 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons per pound of chicken
oil - I've used extra virgin olive, corn and safflower, enough to lightly coat

Equipment:
gas grill set up for indirect heating
smoker box with wood chips, hickory worked for me
grill thermometer - I use the Grill Grates wireless thermometer.  Once you use something like it, you'll wonder how you lived without it.
instant read thermometer - another essential grilling tool
disposable vinyl gloves - for the prep stage, easier than scrubbing with a fingernail brush later
oil sprayer - not essential but nice to have

Times:
Prep 15 minutes/Cooking 60 minutes - these are approximate

The first step is to prepare the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for an hour (or overnight).  Mince garlic and ginger root.  Here's where you'll want the gloves.  Pat the chicken parts dry with paper towels and put in a bowl large enough to hold them.  Add minced garlic and ginger and mix by hand so all the pieces are coated.  Add masala and again mix to coat all the pieces.  Try to get everything as red as possible.  Add a thin coating of oil to all the pieces.  An oil sprayer is nice but you could just pour in a couple of tablespoons and mix.  Add yogurt and mix.  Gloves keep the masala out from under your fingernails.

Set up grill for indirect cooking and preheat to 325F.  Anything from 250-325 will work just changes the cooking time.  As you put the chicken on, add the smoker box with wood chips.  You can improvise by putting chips in a heavy foil pouch and poking holes.  I don't advocate soaking the wood chips.  It doesn't buy you anything.  Keep an eye on your temperatures and cook until all pieces reach an internal temperature of 165F.

My wireless thermometer has two leads, one for the grill itself and one for the food.  The food probe on mine is huge and I don't rely on it except to see when I'm in the ballpark.  I use an instant read thermometer to determine when the food is done.  The Thermapen is the gold standard for instant read thermometers.  I use a much cheaper CDN model that is pretty good.

Edit: I should mention that I don't use a lot of wood chips, maybe a handful.  Chicken doesn't need a lot of smoke.