Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

KOHL-SLAW

Posted: April 13, 2022 in Food, garden, Recipes
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Kohlrabi is probably one of the most misunderstood vegetables around. Most people don’t know what to do with them. Kohlrabi is a member of the cabbage family and can be eaten raw as well as cooked.

For me, the real joy of kohlrabi is biting into a crunchy, sweet, freshly picked and peeled bulb right out of the garden. Unfortunately, much of the kohlrabi you find in a supermarket (or even a farm stand) is grown larger than a tennis ball, making it tough, woody and dry…and they usually remove all the leaves, which are delicious.

I just sowed the kohlrabi seeds in my garden, and I can’t wait for the harvest! When it’s that fresh, I make a slaw out of the leaves as well as the bulb. I use my Awesomesauce recipe as the dressing.

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2 kohlrabi bulbs with leaves, de-stemmed
1 carrot, peeled
Awesomesauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper

Combine the Awesomesauce ingredients in a bowl and keep it in the fridge.

Wash the veggies thoroughly before using. Pull the leaves off the kohlrabi bulb, and remove the stems. Grab a bunch of leaves at a time, roll them up tightly, and slice as thinly as you can into thin ribbons. Place them in a bowl. Do this with all the leaves.

Peel the thick skin off the kohlrabi bulb and slice it as thinly as you can. Then take the slices and cut thin sticks out of them. Toss those into the bowl.

I like to peel the carrot with a veggie peeler, then finely chop the slices. Toss ’em into the bowl.

Add Awesomesauce to taste and toss well.

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Cover and refrigerate, letting the flavors blend for a couple of hours before serving.

Here in Southern New England, the most popular brand of chicken salad is called Willow Tree. They’ve made it for over 50 years, and people crave it like crack. And it’s good: moist and “mayonnaisey”.

But I’ve never been a fan of “secret” ingredients, and Willow Tree is full of ’em, so my task was to make something that was as good as Willow Tree, with known ingredients. I got close…real close! As always, I use pastured chicken and organic veggies when possible. And since I use chicken breasts only, I found that boiling the breasts in stock instead of water keeps the meat more flavorful.

Another option: I like to roast a whole chicken, devouring the dark meat, then using the breast meat for the chicken salad. I use the carcass and scraps for chicken stock. Nothing goes to waste!

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1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 pints salt-free chicken stock (I use home-made)
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I live on Hellman’s)
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
2 tablespoons finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the chicken stock in a large pot. Bring it to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Bring it to a boil again, then simmer uncovered for about 7 minutes.

Turn the heat off, cover the pot with a lid, and let the breasts sit in the pot for 10 minutes to cool a bit. After 10 minutes, remove the breasts to a cutting board. Save the chicken stock for another use, like soup. (See below.)

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, celery, onion, brown sugar, granulated garlic, salt and pepper. Mix them thoroughly to combine.

When the chicken has cooled, shred or chop the breast meat into bite-sized pieces and then transfer it into the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture. Mix thoroughly and chill before serving.

I love my chicken salad on a Martin’s Long Roll.

 

BONUS: I don’t waste the chicken stock left over in the pot. I chop some carrots, celery and onion and throw them in there. I reserve some of the chicken breast meat–just a bit–and throw it in there, too. I add a little salt and pepper, and a pinch of dried Bouquet Garni. I bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the veggies are al dente. Pasta or potatoes optional. Makes an awesome chicken soup!

If you want to freeze the soup, I would leave the potatoes or pasta out, adding them only when reheating the frozen soup. That keeps them from getting mushy.

For my family, a Caesar salad is the only salad to serve on special occasions. But it all starts with a little history…

If someone told me that the classic Caesar salad was invented in Tijuana, Mexico, I’d say they were crazy. But that’s one bizarre truth in the creation of one of the world’s most iconic salads.

Famous restaurateur, Caesar Cardini, ran a restaurant in San Diego back in the early 1900’s. But when Prohibition hit the states, he opened another location in Mexico…Tijuana, to be exact, luring many of the day’s Hollywood stars across the border. They could gamble in Mexico, and they could feast on food and alcohol at Cardini’s.

The story goes that one July 4th, they were running out of food, and thinking quickly, Cardini created a salad at the spur of the moment, using only the ingredients he could find in the kitchen. Having the chef assemble the salad tableside meant it came with a grand performance, and word quickly spread of the incredible “Caesar salad.” (Cardini named it after himself.) Cardini’s is still at its original Tijuana location, and they serve thousands of Caesar salads, with a flamboyant tableside show, to tourists.

Though Cardini didn’t believe anchovies should be in his salad (they say Worcestershire was used instead), anchovies were eventually added when his brother, Alex, tweaked the recipe years later. (The Worcestershire was removed.)

It needs to be said that raw egg yolks are used in Caesar salad, and if you’re not comfortable using them because of salmonella concerns, you shouldn’t. Sometimes coddled eggs (slightly boiled) are used. Some stores, though not many, sell pasteurized eggs in the shell. I haven’t had a chance to use them–or even find them. Many recipes contain a variety of egg substitutes. But for me, it ain’t a Caesar without raw egg, so I’m willing to take my chances.

This Caesar recipe remains the best I’ve ever had.

 

The ingredients.

 

The first really important ingredient to get is a wooden bowl. No other bowl will do. We have an old wooden bowl at home with almost mystical properties that is used for nothing but our Caesar salad, and I have to say that it makes all the difference in the world.

 

The mystical wooden bowl. Years of Caesar salads have given it a special seasoning.

 

Once you have the bowl, what matters most is the freshest, best quality ingredients you can find: farm-fresh eggs, not supermarket ones…Parmigiano Reggiano, not generic Parmesan. The best quality extra virgin olive oil. Fresh lemon juice. Freshly cracked black pepper. High-quality anchovies. And organic Romaine lettuce. (Organic bibb or leaf lettuces make great substitutes.)

After that, it’s all about the love.

 

The process begins…

 

4 raw egg yolks
8 oz. good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
fresh garlic (optional…see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
4 anchovies
the juice of 1 lemon
4 oz. grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
2 large heads organic Romaine lettuce, washed, stems removed, torn by hand

Place the egg yolks in the wooden bowl and whisk them until well mixed.

While whisking the yolks, pour the olive oil in the bowl VERY SLOWLY, whisking all the time, never stopping. Keep pouring the olive oil slowly until you’ve whisked all of it into the eggs and you get a beautiful emulsion.

Keep whisking and add the Dijon mustard, then the black pepper. You might need someone to hold the bowl for you as you whisk. Or…place a wet kitchen towel under the bowl to stabilize it.

In a separate small bowl, mash the anchovies with a fork–even better, use a mortar and pestle, if you have one. Don’t leave any chunks. Slowly add the mashed anchovies to the wooden bowl, mixing them in with the whisk to combine the ingredients. You want them to dissolve completely in the dressing.

Once the dressing has reached its desired consistency, add the lemon juice and whisk some more.

When it’s all mixed together, dip a finger in the dressing and give it a taste. Does it need more lemon juice to cut the oil? Slice a second lemon and add a little. Taste again. Enough black pepper? There should be enough salt from the anchovies and the cheese is still to come.

If you think you’ve “got it,” sprinkle in the Parmigiano Reggiano, whisking slowly. Then add the Romaine leaves to the salad bowl and toss gently to coat the lettuce.

When serving, top each salad serving with a little more cheese. Extra anchovies are optional.

 

 

If you’re saying “where’s the garlic?” …you’re right. Every good Caesar needs some. This recipe would use about 1 teaspoon of fresh, finely chopped garlic, added after the mustard. If I’m cooking alone, I always add the garlic. But we have people in our household that are allergic to garlic, so when family is here, we leave it out. The flavors of the dressing are so deliciously intense, you’ll be surprised how good it is without it!

This is a rich, delicious, and unusual surf-and-turf, using wild Texas boar (I got it as a gift!) and locally caught Rhode Island scallops. Wild boar is an ingredient usually only found online, so substituting pork belly, which you can find at your local butcher shop, is a great alternative.

 

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For the pork belly…
3 lbs. fresh pork belly
salt and pepper
1–2 tablespoons leaf lard or olive oil
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 fennel bulb, quartered
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
4 cups beef stock
1 cup hard cider or apple juice

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Season the belly with salt and pepper. On medium-high heat, melt the leaf lard, then sear the meat on all sides in an oven-proof pot big enough to hold it in one layer. Add the carrot, celery, onion, fennel, thyme and peppercorns and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, until caramelized.

Add the beef stock and the cider. Cover the pot with a lid or seal it with aluminum foil, and braise the belly in the oven for 3 hours, until tender.

Remove the pot from the oven, carefully remove the pork belly, and put it on a plate. Cover it with foil. If you’re cooking earlier in the day, you can place the belly in the fridge at this point.

Strain the leftover braising liquid from the pot and discard the vegetables and thyme. Skim off the excess fat. If you’re starting this dish earlier in the day, you can put this liquid in the fridge and the fat will harden, making it easier to remove.

 

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For the glaze…
braising liquid, strained
1 tablespoon espresso
1 tablespoon honey

In a small saucepan, reduce the brazing liquid by half, then add the espresso and honey. Cook a few more minutes until the sauce thickens. When it coats the back of a spoon, it’s ready. Set it aside.

For the scallops…
Fresh scallops
salt and pepper

When you’re ready to serve, heat a pan on high heat with a little more leaf lard. Cut the belly into equal pieces and sear them on all sides for about a minute. Place the scallops in the same pan, seasoning with salt and pepper, and sear them on both sides, being careful not to overcook them.

To serve, place the belly on a plate. Top it with a scallop or two. Drizzle the glaze over the top. Season with Fleur de Sel or other finishing salt and serve it immediately.

Growing up in NY, I was introduced to smoked whitefish, herring, and lox at an amazing deli just down the road from my parents’ house. My wife’s family from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, meanwhile, caught the whitefish, herring and salmon and smoked it themselves.

Smoked whitefish may be a bit hard to find, and it could get expensive if you buy it from your local deli. But sometimes big membership stores like BJ’s will sell whole smoked whitefish. (They also sell already-made whitefish salad, but don’t buy that…it’s all mayonnaise and fish leftovers.)

My in-law’s recipe calls for dill pickle relish, but I went with capers instead. Both work well.

 

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

Remove every bit of meat. Double-check for bones!

 

1/2 whole smoked whitefish, meat removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 tablespoon capers, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of sea salt (I like Fleur de Sel)

 

 

Remove the meat from the smoked whitefish carefully, making sure all the small bones have been removed. Double-check to make sure you’ve done this really well. It pays to be really meticulous with this job so that you (or your guests) don’t gag on a fish bone later!

 

Place all the whitefish meat in a bowl.

Combine all the other ingredients with the fish, mixing thoroughly using a fork. (Try not to mush it up too much!)
The standard way is to serve it with crackers. But there’s nothing wrong with slathering it onto an everything bagel! Or…if you have guests…slice everything bagels as thin as you can and toast them until they’re crisp like crackers. Then serve them on the side.
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Here’s a shot of the real deal straight out of the smoker, at a fish store in Mackinaw City, Michigan, on the way to the Upper Peninsula. Man, that was some good eatin’!
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What can I say? I was craving both dishes, so I combined them. I figured: if I love each one of them, I’d be crazy over both together!

 

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Pasta
1/4 lb. bacon, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
18 small clams, washed and purged*
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
Good quality olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

In a large pot, salt some water and bring it to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente.

In the bottom of another large pot on medium-high heat, fry the bacon until it’s crisp. Add the onions and sauté them until they’re translucent. Add the clams, oregano and wine, and cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium. The clams are cooked when they open. Discard any unopened clams.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil to medium. Add the chopped garlic and fry it until just crispy. Toss in the parsley and stir it to combine.

Place the pasta in a bowl or plate. Pour the clams and juice over the pasta. Pour the fried garlic and oil all over the clams.

 

*Purging clams: Clams can be pretty sandy and gritty, so it’s important not only to scrub the outside of the shell, but to purge them as well. Clams should be stored in a bowl in the fridge with a wet dish towel over them, never in water. Once you’re ready to use them, fill a bowl with water and add salt (think salty like ocean water) and a tablespoon of corn meal. Mix this around, then add the clams and let them sit in this solution in the fridge for a couple of hours. The clams will purge (clean themselves) out. Discard the liquid and rinse the clams before cooking.

High fructose corn syrup…agave…manufacturers of both would have you believe they are healthy alternatives to cane sugar. But are they? 
sugar
Using words like “organic” and “all natural” on their labels, the producers of agave want you to think that you can pretty much squeeze this crap right into your mouth. But, as the old “X-Files” TV show used to say: the truth is out there…
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant, the same plant they make tequila with. The glycemic index (amount of glucose) of agave sweeteners is low, and they’re using this as a marketing tool to convince diabetics that it’s a safe alternative to sugar. Problem is, although it has little glucose, it’s almost 97% fructose, another sugar that’s bad for your health…so much so that the American Diabetes Association has changed their mind about recommending agave as a sugar substitute. Agave sweeteners are highly processed sugars with big marketing money behind them. All the babble about “organic” and “natural” on the label really means nothing if you process the hell out of the product. 
Why is fructose so bad for your health? In the old days, the only fructose we consumed was in our fruits and vegetables, and so the percentage in our diets was really low. But these days, with Americans guzzling unhealthy sodas and fruit and energy drinks full of high fructose corn syrup (and it being hidden inside many packaged and canned foods–just read the label), we consume far more than our bodies can handle. Here’s an interesting fact: the average weight of Americans has gone up steadily since the 1970’s, when high fructose corn syrup was first introduced, and has increased point-for-point as the amount of foods containing high fructose corn syrup have increased.
Some of the carbs we eat are made up of chains of glucose. If too much of it gets to the bloodstream, our blood sugar spikes and our body secretes insulin to regulate it. Not so with fructose. Fructose gets processed in the liver. When there’s too much fructose for the liver to handle, it changes it into fats and dumps it into our bloodstream as triglycerides and cholesterol. This is really bad because triglycerides and cholesterol cause heart disease. And fructose does not trigger the normal hormones that regulate your appetite: you don’t feel full. So guess what? You crave more!
High fructose corn syrup is used in just about everything…and the reason why is simple: it’s cheap. (Farm subsidies for corn made that possible years ago and now we’re addicted.)
 
What about basic sugar? Cane sugar is half fructose, half glucose…about the same as high fructose corn syrup (which is 55%/45%)…but both are less than agave at 97% fructose.
I try to limit my intake of cane sugar, honey, and maple syrup…and I never buy agave or products with high fructose corn syrup. I eat whole fruits…no juices, juice concentrates, juice drinks or sports drinks.
So are sugar substitutes and diet sodas the answer? Not really. They can come with their own set of problems. Natural sweeteners, like Truvia, are a step in the right direction. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog…

Fat Tuesday reminded me of one of my favorite dishes to come out of New Orleans: Barbecue Shrimp.

The first unusual thing you notice about the classic dish, New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp, is that it’s not cooked on a barbecue grill and it has no barbecue sauce.

So why the name?

Its origin goes back to the mid-1950’s, to an Italian restaurant in New Orleans called Pascale’s Manale. (It’s still there, and I’ll be visiting and tasting this dish in April!) The story goes that a regular customer had just returned from Chicago, where he had dined on an amazing shrimp dish. He asked the chef at Pascale’s Manale to try to replicate it, and what resulted was actually better than the original. And though no barbecue grill or sauce was used, it is believed that they gave it the name “BBQ Shrimp” to cash in on the backyard barbecuing craze that was all the rage at the time.

The classic New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp is served with shell-on shrimp, so you have to make a big, buttery mess of yourself as you devour it. And it’s served with plenty of crusty French bread.

Sometimes I leave out the bread and go for rice instead. And I’ll peel the shrimp completely, using the shrimp shells to make the stock I cook the rice in.

 

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For the seasoning…
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper

 

Mix all the seasoning spices and set them aside.

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For the BBQ shrimp…
2 lbs. large wild-caught American shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1 stick butter (4 oz.)
1/2 cup beer
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
olive oil

 

For the rice…
1 cup rice (I like organic basmati)
2 1/4 cups water or seafood stock (see below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning

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Cook the rice following the directions on the package. I like using stock instead of water when I cook my rice, so after peeling all the shrimp, I toss the shells in a saucepan full of water and I boil the heck out of it, strain it, and use that stock to cook the rice. I add the olive oil and the Tony Chachere’s (available online or at your favorite food store) to the stock before cooking.

To cook the shrimp, I heat a little olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat. Then I add the shrimp, and sear them on one side (about 30 seconds) and then flip them over to sear on the other side (another 30 seconds.) I’m not trying to cook them all the way through, just get them a bit caramelized. Then I remove the shrimp from the skillet and set them aside.

(I serve the BBQ Shrimp over the rice with broccoli. If you want to use broccoli, add a little butter and olive oil to the same pan you seared the shrimp in. Cook until the broccoli is nicely caramelized, then remove from the pan and set aside.)

In the same skillet, I heat the butter until the foam subsides. Then I add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning mix. I mix well, then add the shrimp and broccoli back in the pan, simmering for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over the rice!

 

 

 

 

 

Before every St. Patty’s Day, supermarkets are full of packages of processed corned beef in preparation for the big celebration. But, interestingly, corned beef isn’t really an authentic Irish dish.

The phrase “corned beef” was coined by the British, and although the Irish were known for their corned beef throughout Europe in the 17th century, beef was far too expensive for the Irish themselves to eat and all of it was exported to other countries. Owning a cow in Ireland was a sign of wealth, and the Irish used theirs for dairy products, not beef.

The Irish ate pork, and a lot of it, because it was cheap to raise pigs, and they traditionally prepared something like Canadian bacon to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.

In the 1900’s, when the Irish came to America, both beef and salt were more affordable, and the Irish, who lived in poor, tight-knit communities, often next to Jewish communities, bought much of their beef from Kosher butchers. And so many of the Irish learned how to corn their beef using Jewish techniques, but adding cabbage and potatoes to the mix. That’s what we have today.

It takes about 3 weeks to make corned beef. Doing it yourself is not difficult. It just takes time.

Corned beef has nothing to do with corn. ‘Corning’ is a technique for preserving raw meats for long periods by soaking it in a salt brine. This method was used in England before the days of commercial refrigeration. Back then, the large salt kernels used in the brine were called “corns.”

Brining is a time-honored way of preserving meat and it prevents bacteria from growing. Both pastrami and corned beef are made by this method. Both start with a brisket of beef. Corned beef is then cooked–usually boiled–and served. Pastrami is made when the brined meat is rubbed with more spices and then smoked to add extra flavor. So corned beef and pastrami are the same meat, just treated differently.

Saltpeter is an ingredient that has been used in brining beef for years. It adds the traditional pink coloring to the corned beef and pastrami meat, a bit more appetizing than the gray color it tends to have if you don’t use it.

Saltpeter can also contain carcinogens, so there’s always talk of avoiding it. It’s found in pink curing salt, which is used in small amounts during the curing process. (Not to be confused with Himalayan pink salt, which is just plain salt.) Since I only make my corned beef once a year, I’m OK with it either way. The general rule of thumb is only 1 teaspoon pink curing salt per 5 pounds of meat.

I get my grass-fed New Zealand Angus brisket shipped to my home in 10-pound slabs, but use whatever size you find comfortable. Just don’t go too small, or the brine will make that tiny piece of meat extremely salty.

 

Brining the beef brisket

Brining the beef brisket

Step one: corned beef…

beef brisket (about 8-10 pounds)
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 cup warm water
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon mixed pickling spices
3/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon pink curing salt (optional)
2 quarts water

Place the brisket in a large container made of non-reactive material, like glass or plastic.

In the 1/4 cup of warm water, dissolve the sugar, minced cloves, paprika and pickling spices.

Dissolve the 3/4 cup of salt (and optional teaspoon of pink curing salt) in the 2 quarts of water. Pour in the sugar/garlic/paprika/pickling spices mix and stir everything together. Pour the mixture over the meat in the container. Make sure the meat is totally beneath the surface of the liquid. (You may need to weigh it down to do this. I place a couple of plates on top, which pushes the meat down into the brine.) If there’s just not enough liquid, double the recipe, leaving out the pink salt the second time. Cover the container.

Refrigerate the container and its contents for 3 weeks, turning the meat once or twice per week. At the end of the third week, remove the container from the refrigerator and take out the meat. Soak the meat in several changes of fresh cold water over a period of 12 hours to remove the excess salt. I add ice to the water to keep the meat cold.

At this point, if you want corned beef, most people boil it.

I prefer to lay some aluminum foil down on a sheet pan. Then I coarsely chop carrots, onions, and celery, placing them in a single layer on the foil. Then I lay my brisket on top of the veggies, and wrap the meat tightly in the foil. I place the baking pan in a pre-heated 350 degree oven and cook for about 3 1/2 hours. (That’s for an 8-pound slab of meat. The cooking time will be less for a smaller cut.)

 

If you want to make pastrami, there are more steps to take…

Step two: making Pastrami…

pastrami

 

Brined and rinsed corned beef brisket from above recipe, patted dry with paper towels
1/4 cup Kosher salt
1/4 cup paprika
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon white peppercorns
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated garlic

Combine the coriander seeds, black and white peppercorns and mustard seeds in a spice grinder and grind them coarsely. Place them in a bowl. Add the salt, paprika, brown sugar and granulated garlic. Mix well.

Rub the mix into the corned beef well, covering all sides.

Heat your smoker to 225 degrees and smoke the meat for several hours. (My wood of choice is always hickory.) When the internal temperature of the meat has reached 165 degrees, it’s done. It isn’t necessary to smoke pastrami as long as you would a regular brisket because the long brining time makes the meat more tender, and you’ll be steaming it next.

It is very important that absolutely everything that comes in contact with the meat is very clean. (This includes your hands.) Also, make very sure that every inch of the meat reaches the 165 degrees before it is removed from the smoker. The corned beef is now pastrami.

Delis that serve pastrami go one step further: they steam the meat so that it becomes incredibly tender and easy to slice. I place a baking pan with boiling water in the center of a 350° oven. I put a grate on top of it, placing the pastrami on top of the grate. Then I invert a bowl over the pastrami to keep the steam in. I will cook it this way for at least an hour to steam the meat before slicing and serving.

 

 

This year, our annual BOYZ weekend is happening a couple of months earlier, to coincide with the celebration of our friend, Roy’s, 70th birthday! Weather permitting, we’ll be cranking the grill up for pretty much the first time this year.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy clams…without the clam knife…is by grilling them! When you’ve got to feed a crowd, this is a delicious way to do it. Cooking clams on the grill is one of the tastiest ways to enjoy these awesome mollusks. I use hardwood charcoal to get that true smokey flavor.

Although I live on the other side of the state, I love visiting my friends at American Mussel Harvesters in North Kingstown, RI. The quality of their seafood is second to none, which is why they supply so many area restaurants with their products. They feature “restaurant ready” mussels, meaning they’ve been cleaned and de-bearded. And their “restaurant-ready” clams mean they’ve been purged to perfection! (www.americanmussel.com) I use ’em whenever I can.

clams on the grill

A couple of dozen (or more) little neck clams, washed and purged
1 stick (8 oz.) of unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Clams should be stored in the fridge. Place them in a bowl and cover them with a wet towel. Don’t leave therm in a bowl full of water, and not on ice. (The same goes for oysters.)

Because my clams have already been purged, I don’t have to do it at home. But here’s what to do if they haven’t been purged: Fill a large bowl with cold water, add sea salt and some corn meal to it, and mix it around. Add the clams to this bowl and let them sit in this liquid for an hour. They will suck up the corn meal and spit out sand and grit. After an hour, pour off the water/salt/meal/grit mix, and thoroughly wash the clams.

Start your hardwood charcoal grill and divide it in half: coals on one side, no coals on the other.

While the coals are heating up, grab a disposable aluminum foil tray and place it on a burner on your kitchen stove over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil, parsley, oregano, basil, garlic and salt, and stir to combine. Once the butter has melted and everything has blended, bring the tray over to the charcoal grill and place it on the side of the grill without coals. It will stay warm.

Once the coals are hot, just place the clams directly on the grill. (Use tongs, unless you want to remove all of your knuckle hair.) When they start to open, carefully flip them over, trying not to lose any of the precious juices inside the clam. Cook them for as long as you like, from raw, to more thoroughly cooked. As each one reaches its desired doneness, place it in the aluminum tray, making sure it gets swished around in the butter and herb mix.

When all the clams have been cooked and are in the tray, serve them with a fresh baguette or over pasta. A glass of great wine is a must.