And speaking of cooking, because no one was:
|Dear The All-powerful Czar,|
This weekend, I obtained a grill and did some time travel through Gormogia*. In my travels, I came upon your post, Memorial Day Grilling, in which you graciously shared your recipe for Gormogon pork chops.
As the grill was a) free, b) intensely filthy, and c) new to me, most of my time was spent following your sage advice on cleaning, leaving but scant time for the actual cooking.
I followed your directions for the pork chops as well as your strict injunction to leave them the cuss** alone for 5 minutes after removing them from the grill***.
I had long since decided intellectually that everything on your site was gospel, but I think this weekend, I internalized that fact in more ways than one. The family approved as well.
I remain, as always
Your faithful reader,
*Granted my time travel was not so technically challenging as GorT’s.
** Did I mention that the interaction between Mr. Fox and Badger with regard to real estate purchases may be one of the best film scenes of all time?
*** Alton Brown calls this allowing the meat to rest. I like anthropomorphism. It makes life more entertaining.
Well, many thanks in convincing us that some of the material we put up here is not only useful, but apparently read. From time to time, anyway.
The Czar has engaged in spirited debate on allowing grilled meats to rest, but there is indeed a difference in the end result. The bottom line is that meat right off the grill has its internal juices turned into water vapor (specifically, water above its boiling point). At 350–400°, this is no surprise. Cutting into the meat releases all the water vapor, leaving you with considerably drier meat.
Conversely, allowing them to rest allows that outer temperature to equalize with the under-boiling inner temperature (about 155‐160°, if you know what you’re doing with pork). As a result, all this water vapor re-condenses into juice. Folks, listen to Operative SMR: people like juice.
The Czar is also well aware of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and the scene to which you refer. Actually, the Czar would posit that Mr. Fox asking Kylie to provide some gesture that he is even remotely attentive is very entertaining.
And because SMR has put us in such a good mood, we will share our recipe from last night. It consisted of three dishes: beer-brined chicken, a Gruyère-rutabaga au gratin (yes, seriously), and grilled asparagus.
- Several pounds of chicken (breasts, legs, thighs, or whatever your preference: this works well with any cut of chicken, including wings)
- 4 12-ounce cans of beer (we use whatever crap people bring for us to try; the Czar hates
crap craft beers, but you can also use Miller Lite. Really.
- 1/3 cup sea salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce (we use Cholula’s, but Tabasco is fine, too; this recipe is ridiculously forgiving)
- 4 bay leaves
Pour in the dry ingredients first, then slowly pour in the beer. Use a large, clean container! Then slide the chicken pieces in.
Allow this to sit for hours. Actually, if you can, let it sit overnight. If beer smell gets to you, simply pour the brine into sealable plastic bags and carefully insert the chicken. The advantage to using bags—that’s what we do, by the way—is it’s much easier to flip them around every few hours. We’ve let them brine as few as four hours; overnight is even better, but really the results are amazing either way.
We like to use charcoal for this. Add in a half-bucket of coals into your chimney starter. When the coals are ready, pour half on one side of your grill and half on the other, leaving the center of your grill coal-free. Put a small piece of cherry or apple wood on each coal pile for smoke. Spray a little non-stick spray on the grille, and place it down.
Arrange the chicken in the center of the grille; we place the breasts in the middle, and the legs on the outside so they can be closer to the heat. Cover the grill* and open the vents all the way, top and bottom.
After fifteen minutes, turn the pieces 90° horizontally to create grille marks. After another fifteen minutes, flip them over. Fifteen more minutes, rotate 90° again to create crisscross marks on each side.
Using an instant read thermometer, check the internal temperature. Look for about 150° for this. Yes, this is low for many people, but the smoke effect will make this perfectly done.
When around 150°, grab some Sweet Baby Ray’s or other preferred sweet sauce. Use a brush and paint the top of the chicken pieces thoroughly. After five minutes of carmelization, flip them over. Paint this side with the brush and lots of sauce. Allow them to go another five minutes and you should wind up with something like this.
Allow to rest 5 minutes and you should be able to cut these bad boys with a butter knife.
*The Czar distinguishes grill as the whole cooking appliance, and grille as the rack upon which you place your food.
Not much to this one. Take some asparagus (thin and dainty), and drizzle a bit of sesame oil on them. Sprinkle on some sesame seeds liberally over them, and grill on a gas grill until slightly crispy. If you use larger spears, you’ll need longer grilling time.
Gruyère-Rutabaga au Gratin
The Царица got some free rutabaga plants last Spring, and planted them. She has little experience with them, but they grew like crazy anyway. So here we were, with no clue what to do with them. Well, she used this recipe (by Kevin Lynch, to give credit where it is most clearly due:
- 2 pounds rutabaga (washed, peeled, and sliced to super-thin on a mandolin)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon thyme (chopped)
- Salt and pepper, pinch to taste
- 2 cups Gruyère (grated)
She softened the sliced rutabaga in boiling water for a few minutes. While that was going, she whisked the cream, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper to a boil. She then reduced the heat to low and let simmer for three minutes.
She poured some of the cream mixture into the bottom of a stoneware dish, and placed a layer of rutabaga slices on top. She overlapped them, like you would with any au gratin dish. She added more cream and sprinkled cheese. She repeated this, layer by layer, until the rutabaga, cream, and cheese was used up (end with a layer of cheese).
She put the dish into the oven at 350° and took it out about 45 minutes later when the top layer was golden brown and the cheese was bubbling. It looked like this, and tasted amazing. Like potatoes, but not at all starchy.
Serve that with the chicken and asparagus, and you have yourself a meal worthy of some beer.