Hey folks! Tonight at 7pm ET (4pm PT) I’ll be one of three home chefs participating in a live Google+ Hangout “Cookalong” with MasterChef Top 4 contestant Jessie Lysiak; be sure to tune in via the MasterChef Google+ page or FOX’s YouTube Channel to watch me in action! Thanks for the support!
Most of the time, I really appreciate a well-marinated chunk of meat. Or something that’s been swimming in a fragrant sauce for a while. But every once in I while I like to bring dishes back to their basics – and this week’s recipe fits the bill nicely. Picanha (pronounced “Pee-cone-ya”) is about as simple as it can get: skewered rump cap roasted over an open fire, flavored with only sea salt. It’s a staple dish of Brazilian barbecue (churrasco) and one of the more prominent dishes from the region.
A rump cap is hard to find in many American butcher shops, as it’s often incorporated into the cut we call rump roast. If you’re lucky enough to find it in North America, the rump cap is usually identified by a thick layer of fat on one side which flavors the meat as it grills. As an alternative, we used a couple top sirloins from US Wellness Meats, which had a nice layer of fat on one side, mimicking the rump cap perfectly.
This week’s recipe, like last week’s Couve a Mineira, is part of a team-up recipe with my friend Alex Boake. Be sure to check out her illustrated version of this recipe!
Greater Baltimore area residents: I’m speaking about food and nutrition at CrossFit Glen Burnie on Saturday, July 13th. More info is here.
Like most red-blooded American men, I have a special place in my heart for barbecue ribs. That’s probably pretty obvious, since I have no less than TEN ribs recipes on my site (my favorites are here and here) – that’s nearly 5% of all my recipes!
My taste in ribs has changed over the years, as well as my cooking method; originally I braised my ribs in apple juice and onions for a couple hours, then crisped them over a grill. While I still like ribs that way from time to time, I’ve come to better appreciate smoked ribs – those cooked over low temperatures for extended periods, gently nudged to perfection by wafting curls of smoking cinders.
The trouble is, despite all of my outdoor cooking adventures, I keep pushing off the idea of buying a charcoal grill or a smoker, the usual staples of tasty smoked ribs – my backyard patio only has so much real estate, and I don’t think Mrs. Domestic Man would appreciate more contraptions back there. So I’ve been diligently plugging away at making an easy, foolproof method for smoking ribs on a gas grill, and I’m ready to share the meats of my labor.
To demonstrate, I decided to use spare ribs, which is a cheaper cut of ribs, but they taste just fine to me when cooked properly. I also used a drip pan full of hard cider to flavor and moisten the ribs as they smoked (regular apple cider or water would do fine as well).
Last year I made a gyro meat recipe based on Alton Brown’s method, which I really like. It’s a great way to use ground lamb, and it produces some really great results. The only thing that prevents it from being an all-time great is that it involves a bit of work – blending everything in a food processor, wrapping it with plastic wrap, letting it sit out for two hours, then roasting it in a water bath. It’s not a huge deal, but not a quick and easy meal by any means. So I’ve always wanted to work out a grilled gyros recipe that produces similar tastes but with minimal work. When US Wellness Meats asked me to try their new lamb tenderloin, it was time to put my new idea to the test.
Gyro meat, often referred to as doner or shawarma meat, is meat roasted on a rotating vertical spit and shaved off. Most Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern countries have some variation of this dish as a common street food. Depending on where you’re getting it, the meat can be made of lamb, beef, goat, chicken or a combination of meats.
Slightly off-topic, but I was recently a guest on the Born Primal podcast, where I talked about my health history and some of my culinary inspirations. Let me know what you think.
While spending a few days in Austin last month, I basically dove head-first into Texas barbecue: the pickles, the vinegar-based cole slaw, and man, the brisket! I loved how a dry, blackened crust over their barbecued meats isn’t a bad thing, and how sauce is added according to individual taste, after plating. Even better, the barbecued meats are sold by the quarter pound, so each person gets to choose how much they want to eat. If that’s not the most American way of eating ever, I don’t know what is! These are all concepts that are relatively uncommon in our neck of the woods here in Maryland, so I decided to try my hand at some Texas-style barbecued beef the other day.
When choosing a meat to try, I decided to go the easy route with some boneless short ribs: they are a great size, and fatty enough that I was sure I didn’t need to worry about them drying out while cooking. Turns out I made a great choice – the short ribs were perfectly moist and tasty, and a great change of pace from our typical method of cooking short ribs (braising).
Some eagle-eyed readers may recall that in my Memphis-style barbecue beef back ribs recipe from earlier this year, I only used half of the huge 16 lb. package of beef back ribs that US Wellness Meats sent me. I had been eyeballing the remaining two racks of ribs for a while and I decided to take a different approach to the ribs this time; the Memphis-style recipe was a lot of fun, but it also took a lot of work (and some specialized equipment) to get that perfect taste. This time around, I wanted to make something that was ridiculously easy and still produced some high-quality, juicy, and tender beef ribs.
So I turned to my dear old gas grill, and let the magic of indirect heat run its course.
US Wellness Meats recently asked me to make a recipe for their beef back ribs, and I was happy to oblige (note: don’t ever turn down ribs). Little did I know, I was in for a surprise: this package, which included four racks of ribs, weighed in at SIXTEEN POUNDS of beefy goodness. I immediately knew that I had to call in for backup to give these monsters the attention they deserved.
Enter my friend Jeremy from SeaDog BBQ. SeaDog BBQ is a locally-based Kansas City Barbeque Society competition team, and they’ve done pretty well here in Maryland against some very talented teams. Not only did he come up with an awesome sugar-free barbecue rub recipe to accompany these beef ribs, he brought over his own smoker! While his smoker is from a small, locally-produced source, he did mention that the Weber Smokey Mountain is one of the best introductory smokers that are commercially available. If you don’t own a smoker, never fear – I added tips on how to replicate this recipe using a grill.
Okay, enough with the background, on to the ribs! For this recipe we cooked two of the racks, totaling eight pounds. We opted for a dry, sauceless cooking method, typical of Memphis-style barbecue, with an hour’s braise in the middle to speed up the cooking process and to keep the ribs juicy and full of beefy flavor.
We make ribs at the house pretty often, so much so that we seem to always be buying BBQ sauce. Although I like the taste of the all-natural (and unfortunately-named) Bone Suckin’ Sauce, I’ve been wanting to make my own sauce for a while.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, summer is a difficult time to write new recipes. We’ve spent a lot of this summer traveling or entertaining guests; when we are home, I usually prefer to grill something, and most of my grilling recipes are already on this site.
However, this has also been a good time for me to try out healthier versions of pre-Paleo dishes, like teriyaki chicken. I grew up in Washington state, where you’ll find an abundance of Asian restaurants selling “teriyaki chicken” – likely influenced by traditional Japanese teriyaki sauce, which is made with soy sauce, cooking wine, and sugar or honey. Hawaii has a similar dish, simply called “BBQ chicken”. Traditionally, the sauce is boiled down and thickened before marinating the meat, but it’s often too long of a prep to cap onto an already long marinating process (2-4 hours). Here’s how I make it at home.
While in Germany last year, I came across a Bavarian dish called “Schweinshaxe” (pork knuckle), which is a ham hock that is boiled and roasted to a crisp. I enjoyed picking apart this barbarian hunk of meat, and I wanted to replicate the experience at home. Since uncured ham hocks are hard to come by, and most butchers would look at you funny if you asked for a pork knuckle, I decided to try out a different cut but with similar result.
I settled on a pork shoulder (same thing as a pork butt), which is easy to find and fairly marbled. Pork shoulder is the cut used in pulled pork, so I thought I would roast a shoulder in the grill but take it off before it starts to fall apart; the outer shell came out deliciously crispy and the meat was juicy and tender.
Chances are you saw the picture above when you read my post about mac and cheese the other day. Maybe not. Either way, I think the picture is good enough to use twice.
This pulled pork recipe is very similar to my kalua pig recipe but with less salt and liquid smoke (and BBQ sauce). Like most slow-cooked meats, I think that less is more when it comes to ingredients, so I like the meat’s natural taste and the BBQ sauce do all the talking.