Archive for the ‘marinade’ Category

The Thanksgiving countdown has begun! No matter how you like to cook your Thanksgiving turkey: on the grill, deep-fried, or the standard oven-roasted method, brining the bird before you cook will give it a lot more flavor and will keep it from drying out.

My brining method takes about 6 hours. If you do it in the morning, you have plenty of time to cook the bird in the afternoon.

Brining is a simple process of soaking a hunk of protein in a flavored salt solution before cooking, resulting in a much more juicy and flavorful final product.

It’s basic high school science: the brine has a greater concentration of salt and water than the molecules of the protein (in this case, a turkey) that is soaking in it. By simple diffusion, the protein molecules suck up the salty water and retain it. When you cook the meat, some of the water evaporates, but the meat still has far more moisture in it than it would have without the brine soaking, and you get a moister, delicious bird.

Some people use giant syringes to inject their turkeys with crazy solutions, but I think that the old way is still the best way when it comes to brining. Get a big pot, fill it with the brine, and soak the bird in it. Done.

Here’s my tried-and-true turkey brining recipe. Once the brining is done, you can cook the turkey whatever way you like best. I use a method where I grill it inside a Weber grill with charcoal. It comes out smokey and absolutely amazing. I’ll have that info in the next blog.

 

1 gallon of water
2 onions
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
1 gallon of ice water
14–15 lb. turkey, thawed

Pour the first gallon of water in a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots and celery (no need to peel them if they’re clean) and add them to the water. Add the salt, peppercorns, sugar, allspice and bay leaves.

Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature.

Remove the giblets from the turkey and place the bird in a container just big enough to hold it and 2 gallons of liquid.

Pour the now-cooled brine over the turkey, then pour in the gallon of ice water.

Make sure the turkey doesn’t float up by placing a plate on top. Put the turkey container in the fridge for about 6 hours, flipping the turkey over in the container halfway through.

Drain and rinse the turkey with cold water, pat dry with paper towels, and then cook it using your favorite recipe.

Next time: cooking your turkey on a Weber grill in a fraction of the time.

 Over the years, I’ve tweaked this Asian marinade recipe, adding more ingredients. Feel free to use more or less according to your own taste. After all, that’s how any recipe becomes truly your own.
My wife is on a gluten-free diet, so I cook that way when possible. In this case, the soy sauce usually has wheat, so I use La Choy, a gluten-free brand.  You’ll notice two bottles below. I sometimes mix half regular soy sauce with half lite soy to cut the sodium.

 

10 lbs. chicken wings, the larger the better
1 cup soy sauce (I use La Choy, which is gluten-free)
1 small can (6 oz.) pineapple juice
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon peanut satay sauce (optional)

Place the chicken pieces in a large  Ziploc bag. Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Add the marinade to the bag, seal it well, then squish the bag around so that the marinade makes contact with all the chicken.
To prevent accidental spills, place the bag in a clean bowl. Marinate the chicken for several hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge, turning the bag once in a while to make sure everything gets an even exposure to the marinade.
The next day, pour off the marinade and discard it, removing the chicken wings from the bag. Place the wings on a cookie sheet lined with foil (I use Reynold’s non-stick) and bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Many people are turned off by lamb because somewhere in their past, they had a horribly cooked piece of meat that ruined it for the rest of their lives. I’m here to tell you: don’t be sheepish! Try lamb again!

If you think lamb is too “gamey,” buy American lamb over New Zealand or Australian lamb. Although the animals are mostly pasture-raised, American lamb is larger and grain finished, which means a milder flavor.

I prefer 100% grass-fed lamb. You can find it from the US, but most of it comes from New Zealand. Having been to the country, I can tell you that the quality is unmatched and the grasslands in New Zealand are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. New Zealand lamb is smaller and is slaughtered at a younger age than American lamb, making it very tender. In New Zealand, as well as many other countries, only an animal under 12 months of age and without incisors can be called “lamb.” No such labeling is required in the United States.

I love the baby lamb chops that look like miniature porterhouse steaks. You can find them in any supermarket. A good marinade will get rid of any of those flavors you don’t want. Here’s an easy recipe that I served at a party in my home for 40 people, many of whom claimed they didn’t like lamb or never had it before. By the end of dinner, the chops were gone!

lamb LTL

 

 

½ cup olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, through a garlic press
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
2 lbs. lamb chops

Place the lamb chops in a plastic bag. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and pour it over lamb. Seal the bag and squish it around so that the marinade reaches every part of the chops. Place it in refrigerator for a few hours…overnight is better.

Next day, pre-heat your barbecue grill. While your grill’s warming up, remove the plastic bag from the fridge and let the lamb come to room temperature.

Grill the lamb chops until they’re done, which means cooked no more than medium. Don’t cook it to death!

If you can’t get to a grill, pre-heat your oven to 350. Heat an oven-proof pan on the stove top with a little oil. Carefully place the lamb chops in the pan and sear on all sides. Then place it in a 350-degree oven to cook all the way through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here in Rhode Island, we have access to amazing seafood year-round. My friend Gary, is a lobster man. My neighbor farms oysters. And for anything else, I go to my friends’ farms: Simmons Organic Farm in Middletown, RI and Wishing Stone Organic Farm in Little Compton, RI…great places for veggies, bakery goods and pastured meats.
I was on a mission to find fresh mussels the other day, and in the process, stumbled upon fresh bay scallops, piled high on ice at a local farmers’ market. Unlike like the larger sea scallops or bomster scallops, bay scallops are small and sweet, about the size of a mini-marshmallow…hard to find and my absolute favorites.
 image
As far as I’m concerned, there is no better way to eat a fresh scallop than right out of the shell with just a little marinade on top, popping these beauties into my mouth literally as they’re still pulsing on the shell.
Scallops are a bit trickier to open and clean than clams or oysters (at least for me) but all it took was a little practice while sipping a Chopin martini and I got the hang of it in no time.
There are two marinades that I use when serving up raw scallops. The acidity in these marinades will cook the scallop a little, like in ceviche, though eating them raw is perfectly fine if they’re super-fresh.
“MILLS TAVERN” MARINADE
The first place my wife and I ever had a raw scallop was at Mills Tavern, a highly rated restaurant in Providence, RI. Freshly shucked scallops (in large flat shells) were served on ice with a tangy red marinade. We never got the recipe from the restaurant, but this is our version of that marinade.
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Grenadine
1/2 teaspoon fresh finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped scallions
 Combine all the ingredients and chill before using.
 image
ALZ CEVICHE MARINADE
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
2 small dried chili peppers, finely chopped
 Combine all the ingredients and chill before using.

image

 

 

 

 

CHIMICHURRI

Posted: April 23, 2017 in beef, Food, grilling, marinade
Tags: , , ,

Chimichurri is a green sauce usually used with grilled meats. This pesto-like condiment originated in Argentina and is also commonly used in Nicaragua and Uruguay. Though some recipes include cilantro, many insist the original is made only with parsley. Chimichurri also makes an excellent marinade for grilled meats.

My buddy, Lee, a chemist and avid chimichurri fan, is the inspiration for my version of this sauce. It’s incredibly easy to make. Just make sure to use fresh ingredients, and it’s always a good idea to wash all the veggies before using.

chimi

 

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup water
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3–4 tablespoons fresh oregano, leaves only (or 1 tablespoon dry)
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon crushed bay leaf
1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place all the parsley and the water in a food processor and begin to chop. When the parsley is in small pieces, stop the processor and add the remaining ingredients, except the vinegar and olive oil. Start the processor again and slowly pour in the vinegar, then the olive oil. Mix and chop, do not puree. Allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes, but overnight in the fridge is best.

I marinated 2 grass-fed beef ribeyes in chimichurri overnight. The next day, I let the beef come to room temperature and I wiped the marinade off the steaks. I discarded the marinade, then I re-seasoned the beef with a little salt and pepper and pan seared them, finishing them in a 350-degree oven until medium-rare. A little dipping of fresh chimichurri on the side.

Grass-fed beef ribeyes with chimichurri

Grass-fed beef ribeyes with chimichurri

If I’m at a steakhouse and craving beef, I’ll usually order a cut like porterhouse or ribeye…great cuts of meat that require nothing more than a little salt and pepper, and a skillful grillmaster. The prep on that slab of meat before it even hits the grill has already been done: carving, dry-aging, trimming.

At home, we eat only humanely raised grass-fed beef. It’s expensive, so we buy the cuts that cost less, but require a bit of TLC before cooking. A cut like beef flap, which comes from the bottom sirloin butt (the back of the animal), looks similar to a skirt steak, a hanger steak, or a flank steak because of its thinness, but each comes from a different part of the animal.

Though the beef flap is somewhat thin, I will often slice it lengthwise into two thinner pieces, because the meat’s thickness often varies, which can give you uneven cooking. I like to cook it hot and fast on a hardwood fire grill, but still keep it medium-rare. If the weather is really unforgiving, searing the beef in a cast iron skillet and finishing it in the oven works well, too.

Marinades are the key to tenderizing and flavoring tougher or cheaper cuts of meat. What you put in your marinade really depends on what flavors you like.

The recipes below are for 3 to 5 lbs. of beef. I always make more, because leftover marinated grilled beef makes an awesome steak and egg breakfast!

A cold winter's night is no excuse not to grill!

A cold winter’s night is no excuse not to grill!

 

The instructions with all of these marinades is basically the same: combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Cut the beef flap (or whatever cut you’re using) to a manageable size so that it fits a gallon-sized Ziploc bag easily. (Smaller, thinner pieces will also absorb the marinade better.) Place the beef in the bag, and then pour the marinade into the bag. Squeeze the excess air out and seal the bag. Gently squish the bag around so that the marinade makes contact with all the meat. Place the bag in a bowl in the fridge overnight, squishing the bag every few hours to make sure the marinade penetrates the meat. The bowl will prevent any accidents from happening in your fridge in case the bag leaks. The next day, remove the bag from the fridge and let it come to room temperature before grilling the meat. Discard the leftover marinade.

ALZ MARINADE #355
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use La Choy gluten-free soy sauce)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Combine the ingredients. Marinate the meat. Grill.

 

Marinating beef flap.

Marinating beef flap.

 

On the North Fork of Long Island, in the middle of wine country, there’s a restaurant that’s been around for a long time: a sort of hole-in-the-wall place you might not think twice about visiting, unless you hear that they’ve got a special secret marinade for their beef. The place is called The Elbow Room (I think they’ve expanded to a second or third location by now), and though I wasn’t impressed by the quality of their beef, I was impressed with its flavor. Here, with the help of friends, is what we think comes as close to that marinade as we can get. Gravymaster is a product you can find in any supermarket, usually in the gravy section. This marinade also works well with beef tips or a London broil.

 

ingredients

1 cup soy sauce (I use La Choy gluten-free soy sauce)
1/4 cup Gravymaster (may not be gluten-free)
2 large Vidalia onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the onions and garlic in a large food processor and purée. Add the remaining ingredients and run the processor until it’s smooth and sort of resembles root beer (below.)

marinade

 

Marinate the meat overnight. Grill. Awesome with beef sirloin tips (below.)

 

beef-tips

 

This incredibly simple marinade falls into the “Italian” category. You could almost use it as an Italian dressing on salads, but it works really well as a marinade for beef.

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper

The balsamic vinegar I use is not the expensive aged stuff that costs a fortune. It’s the $9-a-bottle stuff you can find in any supermarket. Simply combine the ingredients. Marinate the meat. Grill.

 

 

 

 

 

BRINING A TURKEY

Posted: November 17, 2016 in brining, Food, marinade, turkey
Tags: , , , ,

My brining and roasting turkey recipes get a lot of requests this time of year, so here we go…

Brining is a simple process of soaking a hunk of protein in a flavored salt solution before cooking, resulting in a much more juicy and flavorful final product.

It’s basic high school science: the brine has a greater concentration of salt and water than the molecules of the protein (in this case, a turkey) that is soaking in it. By simple diffusion, the protein molecules suck up the salty water and retain it. When you cook the meat, some of the water evaporates, but the meat still has far more moisture in it than it would have without the brine soaking, and you get a moister, delicious bird.

Some people use giant syringes to inject their turkeys with crazy solutions, but I think that the old way is still the best way when it comes to brining. Get a big pot, fill it with the brine, and soak the bird in it. Done.

Here’s my tried-and-true turkey brining recipe. Once the brining is done, you can cook the turkey whatever way you like best. I use a method where I grill it inside a Weber grill with charcoal. It comes out smokey and absolutely amazing. I’ll have that info in the next blog.

 

1 gallon of water
2 onions
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons whole allspice
4 bay leaves
1 gallon of ice water
14–15 lb turkey, thawed

Pour the first gallon of water in a large pot. Quarter the onions, carrots and celery (no need to peel them) and add them to the water. Add all the other ingredients, except the ice water and turkey.

Let the pot come to a boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and let the brine cool down to room temperature.

Remove the giblets from the turkey and place the bird in a container just big enough to hold it and 2 gallons of liquid.

Pour the now-cooled brine over the turkey, then pour in the gallon of ice water.

Make sure the turkey doesn’t float up by placing a plate on top. Put the turkey container in the fridge for 5 to 8 hours, flipping the turkey over in the container halfway through.

Drain turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and then cook using your favorite recipe.

Next time: cooking your turkey on a Weber grill in a fraction of the time.

Beef sirloin tips are a bit fatty, which makes them perfect for grill because they don’t dry out, even if you leave them on a little too long. But they can be chewy, so marinating them overnight before grilling tenderizes them and gives them great flavor.

There always seems to be 2 choices when it comes to beef tips at the supermarket: the nice, clean tips that cost a lot, and the fattier, gristlier ones that come cheap. I’ve bought both, figuring I’d still save money with the cheap ones if I cleaned them up myself. Generally speaking, after cleaning up the cheap cuts of meat and tossing all the fat and gristle in the trash, I’ve found that it winds up costing about the same. So now I go for the nicest sirloin tips I can find.

I’ve made many marinades in my day, but I’ve never used the “secret ingredient” that I used this time around. I make my own Lithuanian honey liqueur called Krupnikas (I’ll write more about it in a future blog), and the combination of honey and secret spices really added to the marinade. Unless you make your own Krupnikas, you’re SOL, so I recommend honey and a little bourbon.

Gochujang is a Korean hot sauce. Feel free to substitute with your favorite.

fullsizerender-11

 

2 lbs. beef sirloin tips, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
2 tablespoons La Choy Stir Fry Teriyaki sauce and marinade
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon bourbon
2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon gochujang

 

Trim off the excess fat and gristle, as well as all the silver skin off the beef, then cut into 1 1/2″ pieces. Place them in a large Ziploc bag, sitting inside a bowl. (The bowl will keep the marinade from spilling into your fridge if the bag leaks.)

In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly. Pour this marinade over the beef in the bag, making sure every bit of the marinade makes contact with the meat. Seal the bag tightly, squeezing all the air out of it, and place it in the fridge overnight. Be sure to squish the bag every once in a while to make sure the marinade penetrates all parts of the beef.

The next day, light a hot grill and cook the beef tips to desired doneness. If you’re cooking indoors, heat some pork lard in a large cast iron skillet, and sear the beef tips on all sides until done.

Let the beef rest before digging in!

 

 

 

 

Like hot dogs and Slim Jims, jerky is one of those “mystery meats” we love but don’t really know how it’s made or what part of the animal it comes from.
Really excellent beef jerky is a rare treat, and once you have it, you will never go back to that rancid, preservative-filled dog meat you find in a bag at the supermarket. And the best part is: it’s easy to make.
Shop around for a really nice slab of London broil or similar cut. You don’t need to buy an expensive piece of grass-fed beef, but the better the meat, the better the jerky. Remove all the gristle and fat that may be on the meat and then slice it against the grain and on a diagonal, into 1/4″ thick slices. Toss all the meat in a Ziploc bag. Once you’ve done that, all you need to do is make the marinade, marinate the beef overnight, and then dry it the next day. Your final product will be a flavorful beef jerky that is so good, you’ll find it very hard to stop eating it…or to share it.
If you use gluten-free soy sauce and teriyaki sauce (La Choy is the brand I use, found in any supermarket), this recipe can be considered gluten-free. Be careful: regular soy sauce, and even some tamari sauces, have wheat in them. Read the label!
image
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh minced peeled ginger
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup teriyaki sauce
1 cup soy sauce
8 lbs. raw, lean beef, like London broil, cut into 1/4″ thick diagonal slices, against the grain of the meat
Mix all the ingredients except the meat in a large bowl. Place the meat in a large Ziploc bag, pour the marinade inside, seal, and refrigerate overnight. Squish the bag around once in a while, to make sure all the meat surfaces make contact with the marinade. Keep the bag in a bowl to prevent any accidental spillage in your fridge!
The next day, pour off the marinade and discard it. Using a food dehydrator, dry the meat by laying strips in a single layer. You can also dry them in a 140 degree oven on racks slightly elevated off a baking sheet. Drying could take several hours to half a day, depending on how dry and chewy you like your jerky.
Jerky in the dehydrator.

Jerky in the dehydrator.

This recipe makes a lot of jerky, but it stores really well in the freezer. I put small amounts into individual freezer bags, then place all of them in one large freezer bag. Thaw as needed.

At a recent summer garden dinner for 12 of our friends, I wanted to serve my corn and tomato salsa that I featured here a few weeks ago.

We “smuggled” a few treats from a recent visit to Santorini Greece: capers, caper leaves and sun-dried tomatoes. Adding them to fresh corn and tomatoes gave it that salty bite that. I usually use feta cheese in this recipe, but we served a cheese plate as an appetizer, so I left the feta out. Turns out we like it even better this way…

1 dozen fresh ears of corn, lightly sautéed in olive oil
2 dozen (or more) tiny tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon caper leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (in addition to what you saute the corn with)

Slice the kernels of corn off the ears with a sharp knife. Saute them in a little olive oil, just to remove the raw taste. Don’t over cook them!

Combine the corn with all the other ingredients and place in a bowl in the fridge.

Just before serving, let it come back to cool, not cold, and check for seasoning. The capers and caper leaves are salty, so I’m careful not to over-salt.