A while back I decided to try out a few new uses for my harissa recipe, besides the lamb tagine dish I posted last year. One great thing about harissa is that it’s so full-flavored that it can take an otherwise simple dish and make it immediately and exponentially complex (not to mention tasty). For example, I tried simply spooning it onto a couple steaks before grilling them, and the taste was ridiculous: the North African condiment formed a nice crust around the steak, but didn’t fully penetrate the pure meaty taste of the steaks themselves. It was a winning combination.
Warning: this is a super simple recipe. I’m still recovering from my trip to Atlanta for the Ancestral Health Symposium, where I spoke about gourmet culinary practices in a Paleo context. I’ll post more about my trip later this week.
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.
With spring upon us, I’ve been looking to expand my grilling options. The idea of cooking and eating a cactus might sound intimidating, but the reality is much simpler than you’d think. All you have to do is scrape off their thorns, and grill them – it’s that easy.
Nopales are the paddles of oputina (prickly pear) cactus, commonly found in Mexico. They are a common vegetable in Mexico, and taste a little like green beans, but slightly more acidic. They are a great addition to grilled meat dishes, or tasty just on their own. They are also often sliced/diced and served with eggs or in salads.
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).
The Cornish hen, often referred to as a Cornish game hen or Rock Cornish hen, is a hybrid chicken first developed in the United States in the 1950s. Besides being much smaller than its predecessor (the Cornish-Rock chicken, which is the common “broiler” chicken worldwide), it also generally has a higher white-to-dark meat ratio than its big brothers. Some other interesting tidbits include the fact that the Cornish “game” hen is not a game bird at all, it can be either male or female, and it reaches maturity within 30 days.
I love cooking these little bird because they’re the perfect single-person meal. You get the best of everything! Both drumsticks, both wings, and both oysters. I also find cooking Cornish hens easy and stress-free, and they can be ready in much less time than a full-sized bird.
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.
Drumsticks are a great cut of chicken. My three-year-old son loves them, since they come with “handles” and he gets to eat with his hands. To celebrate these little legs I decided to write up a quick, foolproof recipe for grilling drumsticks.
They are also one of the easiest and most rewarding pieces of chicken to grill, because it’s hard to mess them up. Chicken breasts are great, but they have a very small window of juiciness, and will dry up quicker than a jackrabbit in a thunderstorm. Whole chickens are also fun to grill, but are best when brined, which can take some time and planning. Thighs are another good option, but let’s be honest here – they’re just not as fun as drumsticks.
NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Shashlik (Шашлык) is a type of shish kebab commonly found in Russia and the former Soviet republics. It was likely brought to Moscow from Central Asia in the 19th century. Today, it’s a popular summer food cooked over an open fire at social gatherings. It’s traditionally prepared with lamb, but chicken, pork, and beef variations are becoming increasingly prominent. With summer in full swing throughout the country right now, I thought it would be a great time to share this tasty dish!
There are a few tricks that I came up with when developing this recipe that I think are pretty sweet. While the dish is traditionally marinated in either vinegar or lemon juice, I found that the combination of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar gives the meat a tangy and subtly sweet flavor. Secondly, leaving the salt out of the marinade and saving it for the last stage of the recipe provides for a really great complementary texture to the tender and juicy meat.
For Thanksgiving last year, I roasted/smoked our turkey. It turned out so crispy and delicious that lately I’ve been smoking our chickens using the same method. This recipe isn’t terribly different from that turkey post, but I wanted to make sure it had its own dedicated post so that visitors can quickly find it.
I did a little experimenting and found that the combination of lemon and dill – traditionally used in baked salmon – creates a tangy, fresh tasting bird. Because I smoked this chicken during our January Whole30 Challenge, I tried rubbing clarified butter all over the chicken instead of regular butter – I found it easy to work with (the butter quickly became solid again once in contact with the chicken skin), and it produced a golden protective outer “shell” around the chicken, leaving the meat inside perfectly succulent.