May 16, 2015

Maple Glazed Salmon on a Maple Plank

The biggest problem I have with cooking fish is breaking the filets.  Nothing pisses me off more than my fish breaking up and leaving huge mess all over my grill.  But I have solution, don't move it.  And how do I cook fish without moving it? Plank it!  Planking is my new favorite way to cook fish, it keeps the filet intact and infuses it a light woody flavor. This week we'll be cooking up a nice salmon filet with a sweet maple glaze and cooked on a maple plank.


Maple Glazed Salmon
When cooking with planks, the first thing you do is soak them in water for at least 30 minutes, this will keep them from catching fire and burning up during the cook.


Soaking the Planks
While the planks were soaking, I mixed up a glaze of equal parts olive oil and a maple balsamic vinegar.  If you don't have maple balsamic vinegar you can use regular balsamic and add a couple of teaspoons of maple syrup.


Salmon planked, glazed and seasoned.
I got this really nice filet from my favorite store, Costco.  I cut the filet down to fit my planks and brushed the down with the glaze.  I then gave each filet a sprinkling of AlbuKirky Seasonings Red Chile BBQ Rub.  


Grilling Salmon Planks
I fired up the Weber Genesis and heated it to 400º.  I placed the planks of salmon directly over the gas burners and cook them for about 20 minutes to an internal temp of 140º.  During the cook the planks burned around the edges just enough to give the salmon just light smoke flavor.

The salmon turned out great.  The maple glaze and the BBQ add a spicy sweet layer of that complimented to the rich flavor of the salmon.  The filets also got just a kiss of the smoke from the planks.  And the best part they came off the grill in one piece!  

April 30, 2015

Coffee Braised Beef Short Ribs

Last month we were at the Southwest Chocolate and Coffee Fest, since I don't sell chocolate or coffee I thought I should at least have a recipe that fit the theme of the event.  I searched the AlbuKirky archives and found a beef short rib recipe with a coffee rub, it was a delicious recipe but it needed a little updating.   The new recipe has more coffee flavor and of course some AlbuKirky Seasonings Red Chile BBQ Rub.


Coffee Braised Beef Short Ribs

Coffee Braised Beef Short Ribs

4-5 Beef Short Ribs
2 Tablespoons AlbuKirky Seasonings Red Chile BBQ Rub
2 Tablespoons Fine Ground Coffee
1 Tablespoon Turbinado Sugar
1 Cups Beef Stock
1 Cup of Brewed Coffee
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a small bowl thoroughly mix the BBQ Rub, ground coffee and turbinado sugar. Give the ribs a light coating of olive oil and then generously season all sides of the ribs with the rub mix. Allow ribs to rest and allow the rib to marinate in the rub.
Also in another large bowl mix the coffee and beef stock.

Start by grilling the ribs over direct heat and getting a good crust on all sides of the meat, 1-2 minutes on each side.  I love to use my cast iron plate setter for searing!


Searing the Beef Short Ribs on the Big Green Egg
Place the ribs bone side down in a Dutch over or pan add 1 cup of beef stock & coffee and cook uncovered at 250-300 for 1 hour, I like to do this so the ribs can pick up some smoke.
After cooking for 1 hour add another cup of the stock, enough to cover the bones of the ribs, cover with lid and continue cooking for 1½-2 hours or till the internal temp ribs is 195-200º.  When the ribs are done they will have pulled back from the bone, might even fall off.


Braising the Ribs
If you’re cooking in the oven, brown the ribs in the Dutch oven on the stovetop.  Then add 1 cup of broth, cover and bake at 350º for 2 hours. After 1 hour, add more broth, if necessary.

When I served them, I poured some of the braising stock over the top and they were absolutely fantastic.  The ribs had a really rich beef flavor that was infused with the the coffee from the rub and the braising liquid.  Beef and coffee is a great flavor combo.  I'm thinking next time I'm going to inject the coffee & beef stock into the meat before cooking and see how it turns out.  Hope you give the recipe a try and if you do, send me some pics!  



April 14, 2015

The Ultimate Leg of Lamb

Last Easter I attempted to cook a leg of lamb and it was an epic failure.  My first mistake was only buying 1/2 a leg.  I learned the hard way there is not really a lot of meat on 1/2 a leg, most of it was bone.  The whole thing was kinda puny looking, not the dramatic hunk meat I needed for a blog post, let alone feed four hungry people. It's was definitely not one of my best outings. But I'm a man who learn from his mistakes, I've had a whole year to prepare for this year's Easter Feast.


Leg of Lamb on the Big Green Egg
This year I started with a WHOLE leg of lamb, total weight was about 9lbs. (Be sure to have your butcher remove the H-bone)  First, I removed all the fat and silver skin from the leg.  Then I took my knife and scruffed it up, I made shallow cross cuts in the meat to give the rub and past something to stick too.

To season the leg, I started with a light coating of olive oil the a generous sprinkling of my Casa Seasoning. Then, I let the leg rest and allow some time for the salt in the rub to start penetrating the meat while I make the Dolly's Lamb Paste.  I found the recipe for the Dolly's Paste on Meathead Goldwyn's Amazingribs.comThis is a great paste, it really brings out all the great flavor of the lamb.  I did tweak the recipe a little bit, I added a teaspoon of  thyme.  Meathead has the best BBQ & Grilling blogs on the internet.  Whenever I need information about anything related to BBQ I check Amazingribs.com first.  

Dolly's Lamb Paste
Dolly's Lamb Paste


2 tablespoon dried rosemary leaves, broken or crushed a bit by hand
1 tablespoon whole mustard seeds
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed, or minced
6 tablespoons olive oil
Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender and mix.  If it's a little thick just add more olive oil to thin it out.
After mixing the paste I applied good thick coating to the entire leg, really working it into the meat and all those little crevasses from the scruffing.  I used every last bit of the paste, I wanted to pack at much flavor as I could onto this hunk of meat.  Now, I left the lamb to rest while I set up my Big Green Egg.
Leg of Lamb with Dolly Plaste
I filled my BGE with oak charcoal and chunks of pean wood chunks for a light smoke flavor. I dropped in the platesetter and the drip pan filled with water.  Once the Egg was up to 300º I put the leg on let it cook for about 2 hours. I placed a temp probe in the deepest part of the leg and cooked it to 125º.  About 1/2 way through the cook I flipped the leg to get both side browned. After my meat alarm went off, I pull the leg off and let it rest in a pan covered with foil for about 30-40 minutes.
Now for the fun part.  I pulled the plate setter out, opened up bottom vent and let
the fire get smoking hot.  I put the leg back on the Egg and seared each side.  I kept flipping the leg every few minutes. 
After each flip I brushed the hot side of the leg down with olive oil.  During the sear the fat drips off the meat into the coals and really gets the flames going, so it doesn't take long to get a good sear on the meat. 

Alright, so my leg of lamb has been seasoned with a rub, then I applied the flavorful  Dolly paste,  it's been smoked and seared you would think that would be enough?  Nope.  I've got one more trick up my sleeve to add even more flavor, board sauce.  I first read about board sauces in Adam Perry Lang's book Serious BBQ, and let me tell you, it's a great idea.  I started by chopping some cloves of garlic, fresh rosemary, thyme on my cutting board.  After everything is thoroughly chopped I  poured in 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of red wine vinegar.  I worked it around the cutting board to get it all mixed together.  I laid the leg of lamb down in the board sauce and started slicing it.  As I sliced it the meat juices mixed the board sauce, I then dipped the sliced meat in the board sauce.

Leg of Lamb with Board Sauce
Do I really need to tell you how good this leg of lamb turned out?  I'm sure you can tell  by the pics it was pretty good.  It phenomenal!  The leg with the rub and Dolly paste was great, but the addition of the board sauce took it to another level. The fresh herbs in the sauce really brought out all the flavors in the lamb. It was such a good trick Cheryl said I have to make a board sauce with every meat I cook from now on.  If you like leg of lamb give this recipe a try, and be sure to send me your pics if you do.






March 31, 2015

Beef Cheek Barbacoa Tacos

Where the heck did March go?  It's been a busy month at AlbuKirky Seasonings. We've done two big events, a corporate demo and we're getting ready for another show tomorrow.  As hectic as it has been I have not forgotten about my blog.  I actually have a fantastic recipe for you all today, Beef Cheek Barbacoa Tacos!  Trust me, these tacos are the bomb!

Every time I go to Sam's club to pick up briskets and pork butts theres always a big package of beef cheeks in the meat case.  For years this package of beef has taunted me but I had no clue how to cook beef cheeks.  This year I really want to break out of my comfort zone and try different cuts and experiment with new flavors, so I finally pulled the trigger and bought it.  Now, I've got a 7 pound package of beef cheeks that I need to cook luckily, I found a great Barbacoa Beef Cheek Taco Recipe on Food52.  I've got a pack beef cheeks and a recipe, let's get cooking!


Barbacoa Tacos
Once of my favorite items on the salsa bars at the taco shacks is the pickled red onions.  They add a nice pickley onion flavor yet I never knew what made them so red, until now.  The secret is adding a quarter of a red beet to the picking juice and you get a beautiful bright red pickled onion.  The recipe is really easy and the onions are great on burgers and sandwiches too.

Pickled Red Onion

1 Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Sugar
1/4 a Beet
2 Cups Cider Vinegar
1 Cup Water
1 Handfull of Chopped Cilantro (Optional)

I used a mandolin to get my onions really thin.  Once they onions were sliced I added them and all the  remaining ingredients in a microwave friendly bowl and nuked it on high for 1 minute, stirred and nuked it for another minute.  Allow the onions to cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning the onions will be a beautiful red color.


This mise en place thing really works
Barbacoa Marinade
4 Cloves of Garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Ancho Chile
1 Teaspoon Instant Coffee or Espresso
1 Tablespoon of Honey
2 Teaspoons of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon of Salt
2 Cup of Beef Stock, can use chicken broth

Start by cutting the top off the ancho chile and removing the seeds. Then chop the chile in to chunks and rehydrate about 1/4 cup of warm water.  Now through everything, including the water with the anchos, in the food processor and blend to a paste.  



Beef Cheek in Barbacoa Marinade
Now I didn't know this, but the beef cheek I bought was not cleaned.  There is a lot of fat and silver skin on the meat that needed to be clean before I could cook it.   The package was 7 pounds and when I was done cleaning there was maybe 4 pounds of actual meat.  Next time I'm just going to buy the cheek from the butcher already cleaned.  Now add the barbacoa marinade to the cheeks and thoroughly coat each piece.  Place the cheeks in the fridge and allow them to marinate over night. 


Barbacoa with Beef Stock
To cook the barbacoa, I was supposed to brown the meat on each side and then braise it in the a dutch oven with the beef stock.  I was a little anxious and I skipped this step, I just put all the beef cheek to the dutch over and added 1 cup of beef stock and cooked uncovered in the Big Green Egg, for about 1 1/2 hours at 350º.  This allow the meat to brown and pick up some smoke.  Then I added another cup of beef stock, covered, and cooked for another 2 hours.  The meat really needs to be fall apart tender, when it was done the internal temp of the bigger chunks was 200º-205º, but if you can easily pull it apart with a fork it's done. I shredded all the meat with a couple of forks then gave it all a good stir to get each piece covered in the rich barbacoa sauce.


Barbacoa on the Big Green Egg
For the tacos I like to use 2 white corn tortillas, a single corn tortilla will tear too easily and everything will end up on your lap.  I filled the tortillas with the rich and delicious barbacoa and then topped it with the tangy pickled red onions, a few slices of fresh radish, a good squeeze of lime juice and lil bit of flat leaf parsley. (I'm not a cilantro fan).    The barbacoa has a really deep rich flavor from the ancho, garlic and beef stock with just a hint of mesquite smoke.  The pickled onion, radish and lime add a bit of tang that cuts through all the richness of the meat.  I was really surprised how good these tacos turned out, they were just as good if not better than other barbacoa tacos I've eaten over the years.


Barbacoa Taco Ready to Eat!
That was a great culinary experience.  I broke out of my comfort zone and cooked something some completely new and de-freaking-cious!.  Cheryl said it was definitely in the top five of things I've ever cooked, and she don't just hand out compliments like that.  I already have a big head and she doesn't really want it to get any bigger. This definitely a great recipe, so give it try, I'll definitely be making them again!

February 28, 2015

Smoking & Curing Salmon

I'm snowed in.  We got a whopping 6" of snow last night and the entire city is practically shut down, at least until the sun comes out and melts it all.  I've been cooking up some good stuff lately and I thought today would be perfect for catching up on my blog.  As I promised, this is going to be the year of the fish and I'm going to kick it off with a cured and smoked salmon.  I've not been a big fan of salmon, but I thought if I smoked and cured it myself I could learn to like it again.  Everything always tastes better when I make it myself.


Salmon on the smoker
I'm using the recipe from "Where There's Smoke" by Barton Seaver.  His recipe includes some great instructions for setting the smoker for a cold smoke.  This is a pretty basic cure recipe but does call for Mace, no not the pepper spray.  Mace is the sibling spice of nutmeg and actually from the same fruit. The pit is ground for nutmeg, mace is the outer fruit that has been dried and ground.  Mace has a much bolder flavor than nutmeg and really makes a difference in the cure and flavor of the salmon.  Now, I had a hard time finding this stuff but it was well worth it. But if you can't find it, fresh ground nutmeg will work.







Salmon Cure
3 1/2 Cups of Kosher Salt
1 Cup of Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Mace
1 1/2 Tablespoons Ground Coriander
1 1/2 Tablespoons Onion Powder

Add all the ingredients in a large bowl and thoroughly mix.







I started with two big salmon filets and then made 4-5 shallow slices in the skin of the salmon then removed any stray bones.  Slicing through the skin will allow the liquid in the salmon to escape during the curing.


Salmon filets prepped for curing
I poured about 1/2 cup of the cure on a cookie sheet then placed the salmon filets on top skin side down.  Then I covered the filets with the remainder of the salt cure. 


Salmon filets covered in cure mix.
I placed the whole thing in the fridge, uncovered, for 18 hours.  Below you can see just how much liquid came out of the salmon. 


Salmon after 18 hours of curing
After washing the cure off the salmon I dried and brushed it down with some vodka.  The recipe called for Pernod,  sambuca, bourbon or vermouth.  I didn't have any of those, so I used vodka, which I really liked because it didn't impart any flavor to the salmon. After brushing the filets down with the vodka, I returned the salmon to the fridge uncovered for another 24 hours. The alcohol will evaporate the moisture on the surface of the fish and forms a tacky film that the smoke will adhere to during cooking.


Brushing the salmon filets with vodka
Since my Egg tends to run a little hot I decided to use my box smoker.  I built a small fire with a mix of Kingsford Brickets, lump oak charcoal and some chunks of pecan wood.  To try to keep the heat down I filled the drip pan with ice, barely cracked the top vent and placed a foil ball in the vent tube on the back to limit the airflow and keep the heat low.   The smoker never got over 150º, so it was more of warm smoke than a cold smoke.  I put the filets on the very top shelf of the smoke far away from the heat.


Setting up for cold smoking
 The salmon smoked for a good 2 hours.  Since I've never had good smoked salmon I'm not sure what the texture is supposed to be, cooked and flakey or soft like lox? My salmon was cooked and flakey, the internal temp was 130º when I pulled it off.  Regardless of the texture it was delicious.  After smoking, I allowed the salmon to cool then wrapped it with plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight.  The salmon will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge and up to 4 months in the freezer.


Salmon smoked for 2 hours
After 3 days of curing, drying and smoking, its finally time to eat this fish.  As you know by now we never do things half-assed at the AlbuKirky Kitchens and to accompany my exquisitely prepared salmon Cheryl made a batch of homemade bagels.  They were absolutely spectacular.  And, yes, they were poached and then baked, imparting a chewy texture to the crust just like the real deal.  Maybe she'll hijack my blog and share the recipe on a future post.


Cheryl's homemade bagels
Here we have our homemade bagel, smoked salmon, thinly sliced red onion, cornichons, capers and a good schmear of cream cheese.  Up until this last week I have never in my life eaten a bagel with cream cheese and salmon, as of this posting I have now eaten four of them.  If Cheryl would make some more bagels I would probably be eating another right now as write this blog, they were that good.  

Bagel with smoked salmon and all the toppings.
It took a bit of time to make the salmon, but it totally blew me away.  The curing really concentrated the flavor and I was able to get a really good smoke on it.  I'm going to work on the cold smoking technique and try to get the salmon a softer texture like lox.  I think I like salmon again, but what I really liked were homemade bagels.  I need to get Cheryl to make some more of them!

Follow up...since we devoured these bagels in 2 days time, I picked up more at a popular bagel chain so we could enjoy more of this delicious salmon. I won't name names, but it rhymes with Schmeinstein Schmagels.  Not as good, Cheryl has forever ruined the store bought bagel for me. Thanks...thank a lot. 

February 22, 2015

A Grilled.... A Grilled Lobster

Last weekend was Valentines Day and I decided to cook up something special for my Hunny Bunny.  Cheryl has been threatening me with divorce if I don't make smoked lobster for her birthday, so I thought I would surprise her and make it a whole month earlier.  Kind of like a little insurance, if it's good I'm off the hook, if not I've got another month to regroup and cook it again on her birthday.  I think she's pretty serious about this divorce thing.

Lobster Tails seasoned with olive oil, cracked pepper and sea salt
I was at my favorite store in the world, Costco, and saw some really nice, big lobster tails.  These were some big freaking tails, you know the kind you would pay $50 in a restaurant for, only this package of 2 was $25.

I consulted my Myron Mixon cookbook for the recipe.  It was so simple that I felt really stupid for not doing it sooner.  Start by splitting the tails down the middle and season with olive oil, salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Be sure to pull the shell apart a little bit and season all the meat.

Lobsters cooking on the Big Green Egg.
I heated up the Big Green Egg to 350º.  Since lobster is a fairly delicate meat, I used a mix of oak charcoal and pecan wood chunks for a light smoke that would compliment the flavor and not overwhelm it.  Once the grill was up to temp, I placed the tails on the grate and cooked over direct heat for 20 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 140º.  I plucked those bad boys off the grill, removed the tails from the shells and served them immediately with melted butter.  How easy was that?

Dinner is served!
The lobster was absolutely delicious.  It was sweet and tender with just a light smoke flavor. My Hunny Bunny was so happy she made us this lovely dessert, a brownie skillet with salted caramel gelato.  I think I might have avoided divorce for at least the remainder of this year, but I'm pretty sure I'll be cooking the lobster again for her birthday in a month.  Not much to improve upon here, but a nice juicy steak on the side couldn't hurt.  A little surf and turf is a beautiful thing!

It's not Valentine's Day with out chocolate.