BBQ 101 – Smoked leg of lamb

DSC_1977Lamb season is fast approaching here in Norway, and bone-in leg of lamb is my favorite. I know boneless is just as good, and butterflied is much quicker, but nothing beats the visual impact of a big chunk of meat with the bone still in it for me. Maybe it’s my Nordic genes, or maybe it’s the caveman or woman in all of us wanting some satisfaction? Anyhow, I will use bone-in for this recipe, it’s just more fun that way, plus the bone-in version has to great other features: Firstly, a nice handle for turning the meat in the form of a bone, secondly a litttle chef’s snack muscle towards to thin end of the bone. So there, bone-in wins for me, every time. Note: I have to excuse the lack of a photo of the plated food in this post, but sometimes the food is so good and I am so hungry that I forget. So enjoy a ton of pics of the lamb on the grill instead…. ūüėÄ

Serving suggestion:
I like to serve leg of lamb spiced in the mediterranean way, with an aubergine purée, some red onion compote and some freshly grilled greens. You can make a sauce too from the drippings.

2014-03-28 19.53.49-1Total time: 5-8 hours, marinating the day before if you want to
Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone
Grill temperature: About 110-120 degrees centigrade (230-250F), or even lowe if you can manage

You’re going to need:

  • A leg of lamb per four people should be about right, depending on how big they are
  • Rosemary, lots of rosemary
  • Garlic, lots of garlic
  • A lemon
  • Honey
  • Mustard, a homemade one is of course best
  • Good olive oil
  • Cayenne pepper

How you do it the day before:

  • If you want to marinate the meat, you should start the day before. Mix up lemon, rosemary, honey, lots of crushed garlic, some mustard and a good olive oil in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some cayenne pepper if you want some heat (I always do)
  • If you’re lucky enough to have one of those fancy vacuum machines like I do, throw the leg in a bag with the marinade and vacuum it up, leaving it in the fridge overnight. If not, use a plastic bag, and try to cover it well in the marinade before wrapping it up and putting in the fridge.

DSC_1981How you do it on BBQ day:

  • Fire up your grill, and set it up for
  • ¬†indirect, low and slow cooking with some coals on one side, and place for the met on the other. If you want to make sauce, you’re going to need a drip pan to put under the meat to catch drippings
  • If you didn’t marinate the night before, go up a couple steps, make the marinade mix and get the meat slathered in that stuff before you put the meat on the grill. If you did, take the meat out of the bag, but save up the marinade leftovers for later.
  • Remember to get the smoke going before putting the meat on. I like to mix rosemary branches with hickory for lamb smoking.
  • Add some water to your drip pan. Not a lot, this is just to keep the drippings from burning, remember you will make that into a sauce later.
  • Add a temperature probe to the meatiest part of the leg, and add another one to the grill grate to monitor grill temperature. You don’t have a two-probe style wireless thermometer yet you say? Go and get yourself one. I have been using the Maverick ET-732 for a couple years, and it works quite well.
  • Keep the grill low and slow for hours, keeping an eye on meat and grill temp. Add aRoasted aubergine. Not quite done yet. cup of water to the drip pan if it runs out, and add coals if you need to (I don’t anymore thanks to my lovely new Primo Oval XL)
  • Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of exactly 68C (155F), take it off the grill, wrap it in a double layer of aluminium foil, and wrap that in a plastic bag, then a couple towels. Ideally you want to rest the leg for at least one hour, but if you’re done well ahead of dinner, resting it for 2-3 or even 4 hours is not a problem at all.
  • Take out the drip pan, put the sauce in a pot, and make a delicious sauce. Adding some red wine, salt and pepper to taste and reducing until you have the desired consistency is a good idea. If the sauce is too sharp, some honey might be able to help you out.
  • While you wait for the guest to arrive, you can make the sides, like aubergine pur√©e and some red onion compote
  • When you are about ready to serve, fire the grill up for direct cooking at a temp of about 150-160C (300-320F), brush the leg with any marinade leftovers, and finish the leg off over direct heat. The goal here is to get a nice sear before serving, and crisping up the outside.
  • Let the lamb rest for 5-10 minutes again, while you grill up some fresh spring oninon and/or asparagus. Serve and enjoy!DSC_1988
Advertisements

Make your own craft beer mustard

Soaking mustards seeds in delicious beer!I am big into craft beer these days. I have a particular fondness for American style, hop-crazy IPAs and double IPAs. So I decided to try and make some mustard with an IPA twist to it. If you prefer, you can use other beers as well, I have tried some strong tasting stouts and had success with those too. Mustard is easy and fairly cheap to make, and since the whole process requires no cooking, tasting and adjusting while going along is easy! So why don’t you make your own mustard to go with those delicious smoked brats?

 

 

Time: 60 minutes work, 18-24 hours total incl. waiting
Skill Level: Easy

You’re going to need:

  • 200 grams of mustard seeds (a 50/50 mix of brown/yellow works fine)
  • A small bottle (12 fl oz/330ml) good beer, I like to use a hoppy IPA
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt
  • 1-2 teaspoons of chili flakes
  • 6 tablespoons of honey, maple syrup can also work well
  • 0.5 cup of good vinegar (I prefer white wine vinegar for this mustard)

How to do it:

  • The night before making the mustard, put all the mustard seeds and your beer into a DSC_1624bowl, mix well, and leave overnight. This will allow the seeds to soak up all the beer.
  • Once soaked overnight, put the mixture in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients, pulse until you’ve got the consistency you like. If the mustard is too dry for you, add some water if needed
  • Since this is a no cooking process, have a taste, and balance out with honey, vinegar, salt and chili to your tastes
  • If you put this stuff in sterilized jars, it will last you weeks/months. Your mileage may vary here.

BBQ 101 – Pulled Pork

Homemade coleslaw and pulled pork sandwich. Ah yeh…

Pork butt¬†is a fantastic piece of meat. It’s quite a tough cut, with a lot of collagen (and fat), which makes it perfect for low and slow BBQ. If you can’t get pork butt¬†where you live, you can try a boned-out ham. However, the best cut for this is the pork butt¬†which is essentially the upper part of the pork shoulder ham cut, here in Norway not a regular cut, but when I tell my butcher I want the upper part of the ham, basically the shoulder-blade, with all the meat and fat on it, I get the right thing. Keeping the bone in there helps the meat become more juicy because the bones contains gelatine, so I always get bone-in when I can. Gives you that lip-smacking goodness feel you¬†get from good ribs. Guess that’s why gelatine is used a lot for making candy, huh… That goes for any meat – bone-in = better. Talk to your butcher and show him some charts and google images, and I’m sure you’ll get it right. Now, to get a historical fact out of the way, they’re not called butts because they’re from the butt (because they’re from the¬†shoulder end of the pig really..), but because this cut was stored in special barrels known as butts, in the olden days. Read more on Wikipedia.

Pork butts ready for pullin’

This is not a good place to start for the novice griller, but if you think you’ve got indirect grilling and temperature control on your kettle or smoker down, you should try it. Pork butt is some of the best eats to ever come out of a BBQ, and it’s a cheap cut, which enables you to feed tons of people for little money. Time for a party, in other words. Let’s get to it.

Serving suggestion:
I serve this dish¬†in a very traditional manner, on homemade hamburger buns, with¬†a creamy coleslaw, a basic Eastern North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and some pickled gherkins. Don’t make it complicated, the meat should be the star.

Total time: 10-14 hours (prep starts the day before)
Skill level: Intermediate/Expert
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone (some coals on one side, large drip pan filled with water under the meat)
Grill temperature: About 120-140 degrees centigrade (250-285F)

You’re going to need:

  • Time, I usually start around 6-7 AM when I do this and we eat around 7-8 PM. A great excuse to drink beer and “mind the bbq” all day, in other words. Kinda like fishing or golf in that regard (dads will know what I mean…)
  • 2 pork butts (I always make two, because that’s what I have room for on my kettle. Pulled pork freezes well, so if I have leftovers, that just means my wife is going to be happy for the next few weeks eating pulled pork sandwiches..)
  • 1 cup of your favourite all-round spice rub
  • Some yellow American mustard (to be used as a glue)
  • 1-2 bags of charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 4-5 cups of wood smoking chips (I like to mix hickory and some mesquite for pulled pork, read more about smoke wood here. Apple wood is also great)
  • A notebook and a pen, for taking notes during the process
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen, or a leave-in probe style thermometer

Pork butt, rubbed and ready to go

How you do it, the night before:

  • Prep should ideally start the day before. Cut the skin off the butts unless your butcher did it, but leave a good thick layer of fat on the meat
  • Lay out some lengths of plastic wrap on your workspace, and put a pork butt¬†on there. Put a thin layer of yellow mustard on it, and apply generous amounts of spice rub all around it. I use about 0.5 cup for each butt
  • Wrap in several layers of plastic wrap, and repeat.
  • I store my butts overnight in the fridge. It’s (almost) always a good idea to room temper your meat before it goes on the grill, as long as you’re able to do it in a safe, hygienic manner. However, if you want to maximize your smoke penetration and smoke ring size, you should go straight from the fridge on this one. Experienced BBQ’ers¬†tell me the smoke ring only happens when the meat is below 60 degrees centigrade (140F)

How you do it, cooking day:

  • Taking notes is paramount if you want to learn

    Fire up your chimney starter with 20 briquettes (this is based on my 22.5″ Weber kettle, and your mileage and/or method¬†may vary on other grills and smokers)

  • In the meantime, put a briquette basket on one side of the grill only, and a big water pan covering the whole middle part of the grill. Why water you say? The mass of water (I use a stainless steel pan from Ikea that holds about 4-5 liters or one US gallon) helps me maintain a steady temperature inside the kettle, because water stores (in this case) heat pretty well. It also helps the meat retain its moisture during the long cook by increasing the general moisture in the cooking environment.
  • When your briquettes are white hot, put them in the briquette basket you put on the one side of the grill.
  • Put two smokebombs (a handful of soaked wood chips wrapped in aluminium foil) on the briquettes. Putting them out towards the edge of the fire makes them last longer. Wait 5-10 minutes until they start smoking. Replace these as often as you please once they are smoked out. This is especially important¬†the first¬†4 hours, after that the meat won’t really soak up the smoky flavours anymore.
  • Put the grate on, pork butts on the grate away from the fire, and put the lid on
  • Next is 10-12 hours of temperature watch. You should try to adjust your temperature using only the bottom vent(s) on your grill. The top one should stay at least 50% open. If you close the top one too much, you can get a soot buildup, which will not taste nice.
  • Eventually, usually after 4-6 hours you may run into something BBQ’ers¬†call “the stall” – The temp of the pork butt¬†will stabilize or plateau at about 68-70 degrees C (154-158F) – sometimes it will even drop a little. This can go on for hours and really f up your dinner schedule. Read up on the stall¬†in this great article, it’s got useful, common sense information you need to be aware of if you do low and slow.
  • A lot can be said on how to do this on a kettle style grill, but it should be possible. However, there are a lot of factors that come into play when doing a long cook on a kettle or smoke. Wind. Rain. Sun. Shade. Air temperature. Humidity. Which is what makes this fun, and exciting, and a skill that is learned from experience.
  • If it gets too hot, I take my tongs and dump a briquette or two right in the water pan. You can take¬†them out too of course, just don’t put¬†them on your wooden deck…
  • If it gets too cold, you might need more briquettes. I put in 6-8 unlit briquettes every hour when I do this. If you get a strange dip in temp and really need to knock it up quickly, you can use unsoaked wood chips or chunks, or you can put on some lump charcoal which burns a lot hotter than briquettes. Just be patient and don’t overdo it.
  • I will not go on in lengths on all the different ways to get there, you shold¬†keep a log of times, kettle lid temp and meat temp, so you’ll have something to learn from for your next cook. The important part is to have fun, and reach a target temp of about 87-90 degrees centigrade (that’s 190-195F). The other important part, is to get there slowly.
  • If you get to the target temp too early, don’t worry. Wrap the meat in aluminium foil, and¬†a couple of kitchen towels, and put it all in a cooler, and it will stay warm enough for hours.
  • When you’re ready to serve, it’s time to pull the pork. If you did everything right, it

    Two butts, a ham and a cow chest

    should be easily pullable by hand. Here’s a neat tip, get some thin carpenter’s gloves from your local hardware store, and buy some vinyl gloves one size up at the supermarket. Put the builder’s gloves on first and then the vinyl gloves (duh!), and you will be able to pull two pork butts without burning off your fingers (I’ve tried, not fun). If it’s not easy to pull by hand, you took it off the grill prematurely. Don’t worry, use a knife to assist you, it should still taste great. If it does not taste great, you have failed, and consequently¬†brought shame upon your house and¬†family.

  • Once all the pork is pulled, drench it in the North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and serve. Enjoy the taste of a fantastic dish, knowing it tastes even better for you, because you’ve been outside working the BBQ all day. NICE!

Spicy Bacon Potato Salad

Spicy Bacon Potato Salad

A good potato salad is a great side for almost any BBQ dish. It’s also something that can be made the day before, stored in the fridge, and served cold.

Which in turn¬†means you can focus on the preparation of meat when you need to, which is good. It also means it’s a great side to bring to the park, the beach or camping.

Time: 20-30 minutes
Skill level: Easy

You’re going to need:
12-15 Medium-sized red-skinned potatoes
About¬†1 cup of Homemade Chipotle¬†Mayo (you can always substitute¬†for store bought¬†mayo mixed¬†with chipotle¬†hot¬†sauce, but it won’t be as tasty then)
4 tbsp of Honey Dijon Mustard (I use Maille brand, the French know their mustard)
4 Scallions
6 thin strips of quality bacon
Salt/pepper

How you do it:

  • Slice your bacon in small slices, and fry in a pan over low heat. I like to grind some pepper on it while frying
  • Wash and dice your potatoes (I leave the peel on, it looks nice, and I’m also lazy)and boil them until they’re just about soft, not too long. Rinse in cold water and let drain in a colander
  • Whisk the mustard into the mayo
  • Slice your scallions in thin slices
  • Put potatoes in a bowl and mix with scallions, bacon and the dressing
  • Serve lukewarm of refrigerated and enjoy!

Easy Homemade Chipotle Mayo

Homemade Chipotle Mayo

People tend to think homemade mayonnaise¬†is difficult to make. Well it’s not. Here’s my basic recipe for a simple chipotle mayo (just skip the chipotle to make it regular mayo…)

This mayo is great on sliders or in my Spicy Bacon Potato Salad.

Time: 10 minutes
Skill level: Easy

You’re going to need:
2 Egg yolks
1 tsp water
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 cup of oil (canola, rapeseed, corn oil. no extra virgin, it overpowers everything else)
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp clear vinegar
Salt and pepper
Your favorite Chipotle hot sauce (I like Tabasco or Cholula brands)

How you do it:

  • Put egg yolks, mustard, 1tsp water and 1 tbsp lemon juice in blender. Mix with 4-5 pulses
  • Pour the oil in while mizing continuously in a steady, thin stream. It should take you >2-3 minutes to pour in the cup of oil
  • Once the oil is incorporated and the mayo is thick and creamy (emulsified!), whisk in as much as you like of your favorite Chipotle hot sauce. If you don’t like Chipotle (you’re in the wrong place) you can always use freshly minced garlic or some fresh herbs instead for your flavoured mayo.

Whole, smokegrilled trout

There’s nothing that spells summer to me like grilling a whole salmon or trout. Grilling it whole also makes it juicier and more forgiving in terms of temperature. One small note on this, I see a lot of people “grilling” whole fish completely wrapped in aluminium foil. Now I don’t mean to be a BBQ snob, but I am, so here goes. When you do that, you’re basically steaming the fish, not grilling it. There’s also no way for smoke and other flavours of the grill to get into the fish. So, you might as well go inside and steam it in your kitchen, much easier. There.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at a good way of getting that delicious smokegrilled flavour on a big piece of whole fish. Trout or salmon can be used here, that’s up to you.

Total time: 2-3 hours
Skill level: Easy/intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, two-zoned (some coals on each side, none in the middle)
Grill temperature: About 175 degrees centigrade (350F)

You’re going to need:
A medium-large whole trout (or salmon)
2 lemons
Some butter
Fresh dill
A clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
Oak wood chips (alternatively alder or fruit wood)
(Optional) A long fish basket for large fish
If no fish basket, some cardboard and heavy-duty aluminium foil

Serving suggestions:
Mustard-dill sauce
New potatoes (boiled or baked on the grill)
Butter-steamed spring cabbage
Grilled spring onions

How you do it:

  • Get the grill started as instructed above
  • Clean the fish if it hasn’t been done for you. Remove the head, tail, use kitchen shears to cut off any fins. Rinse it off in ice-cold water and dry with paper towels
  • Cut some diagonal slashes on both side of the fish, quite deep. We do this to allow the smoke and flavours to penetrate the meat properly when grilling.
  • Put thinly sliced lemon and some dill sprigs in each slash
  • Season the inside of the fish with salt and pepper, put some more lemon slices and dill sprigs in there too
  • Make a herb butter by melting a cup of butter, then¬†chucking in a minced garlic clove and a handful or two of chopped dill. I also put some pepper in there, but that’s optional
  • If you¬† have a fish basket, good. If not,cut out two pieces of cardboard slightly larger than your fish. Wrap them in two layers of heavy-duty aluminium foil
  • Brush one of your new cardboard “planks” with butter
  • Brush the fish on both sides with herb butter and put it in your fish basket or on your cardboard plank
  • Put some water-soaked smoke wood chips on the coals. I like to get a good smoke level started before I put on meat or fish, because raw meat seems to take up smoke flavour more readily. This goes for all meats. Always get the smoke going good first, then put the food in.
  • Once the smoke gets going, put the fish in the middle of the grill, on its plank/basket
  • Baste the fish with herb butter every ten minutes
  • When the fish has been on the grill for 30-40 minutes, depending on size and temperature, it’s time to flip it. If you have a fish basket, that’s easy. If you have cardboard planks, butter up the second plank, and use your grilling gloves to flip the fish over on plank #2. It can be a bit tricky, so be careful
  • Grill the fish another 30-40 minutes until ready. If you have a Thermapen¬†or other instant-read thermometer, look for the fish to be 55 degrees centigrade (about 130F). If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, make a small incision on the widest section of the fish near the backbone. The meat should be pale pink and opaque, not translucent and pink/orange.
  • Serve!

Simple mustard-dill sauce

Here in Scandinavia, trout and salmon is very often served with dill and mustard. So why not make a sauce of it? This goes well with any salmon or trout dish.

Time: 10 minutes
Skill level: Easy

You’re going to need:
1.5 cups of mayo (homemade is best of course!)
0.75 cup sour cream
0.5 cup of dijon mustard, honey mustard or sweet Swedish mustard, depending on what your preference is
Handful of chopped fresh dill
Some lemon juice
Salt and pepper

How you do it:

  • Put everything except lemon juice and salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk it all together
  • Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Serve!

Did I mention this sauce goes well with for instance smokegrilled trout