When the moon hits your eye

pizza_091017Like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!

Last night I decided to test out the new pizza stone. For my first trial I just wanted to take a look at the cooking technique itself so I bought a pre-made pizza dough. I didn’t want to put in all the effort of making dough and sauce and then end up burning it. For the sauce I just used a good quality passata. Add some mozerella and some chorizo and there you have it.

As I said, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while so I have been reading up on the different ways to do pizza on the  grill. The keys I picked up were that you want a scorching hot grill and you need to try to get the temperature above the pizza high enough that the toppings will cook before the bottom of the crust burns. There are some pretty interesting setups I have seen posted on forums like TVWB and Pizzamaking.com. What I decided to do (and had seen from others) was to try the get the pizza as high up into the dome of the lid as possible, since that is where the air is the hottest. This should help the toppings cook well. To do that I took the charcoal ring out of my WSM and placed that on top of the cooking grate with the pizza stone on top of that. With a full chimney of briquettes lined around the perimeter of the kettle the air should be pretty hot up there. I assumed the stone would still heat up pretty well in this configuration. Please excuse the poor quality photos. Mrs. Smoking Bottle was away with the camera and all I had was my iPhone.

I kept checking the color of the crust by looking through the vent holes with a flashlight. I took the pizza off when the crust looked like it was going to start getting too dark. Unfortunately it wasn’t quite long enough for the toppings. They definitely weren’t underdone but I was hoping for a touch more browning of the cheese. Total cook time was about 9 minutes. From what I’ve been reading a lot of people say that ideally it should be around 4 or 5 minutes. Sounds like I’d really need to crank up the temp more with more charcoal. I don’t really care about the time though. It seems that the faster you cook the pizza the less influence the grill would have on flavor. I want to pick up some of that fire-kissed flavor and aroma. Just a guess but 10 minutes sounds like it would accomplish that better than 4 minutes. I think the setup worked out really well. Now I just need to get some more heat on top of the pizza. Perhaps I need to stack up the coals closer to the outside than I did. Suggestions are welcome.

Russian Imperial Beef

beefroast090621Last Sunday I threw a good sized chunk ‘o cow on the old kettle grill. I’ve done thick cuts of beef before but never such a lean large peice (very well trimmed 1.35 kg roast… 3 lbs for the non metric people ). Wasn’t sure if I was going to have some trouble keeping it moist so brushed it several times with a mixture of a homebrewed Russian Imperial Stout and worcestershire sauce. It did turn out very juicy. Other than that the meat was just lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of a store bought beef roast seasoning. Quickly seared the meat direct over cocconut briquettes and then cooked for about an hour indirect. I was busy with something else and left in on until it reached 54C (129F) internal temp, but I should have taken it off around 51-52C. Still turned out quite nice. I think next time I will marinade it shortly with the stout-worcestershire sauce before throwing it on the grill. Perhaps a little oak on the fire would be nice too.

The beef was accompanied by a large bottle of Achel Bruin. Its been a while since I have had this, so I had forgotten how sweet it is when its fresh. Hmmm, maybe thats why I haven’t had it in a while. When it has some age on it, this beer can be very pleasing. So, That pairing didn’t work out all that great, but the Saison Dupont with the lightly spicy fried ravioli I whipped up for the appetizer was a heavenly cooperation of flavors!

Click the image above for a couple more photos.

All I wanted to say is that it was an easy cook and that if you need to cook something for a crowd and don’t want it to be “work”, then slap a roast on the grill.

get stuffed

P6060021A couple weeks of illness, and then being busy after that means that I have not posted anything in a long time.  I do have all kinds of beer geekery to report but for now I want to share the latest recipe off the grill.

Last night I decided to try my hand at stuffing a pork loin. Its always been something thats intrigued me. After reading a bunch of recipes on the interweb I decided that I would just wing it. I did steal the idea of using dried cherries with bell peppers from one of the recipes.


the stuffing (with precise measurements)
– half a medium/small red onion (diced)
– half a yellow pepper (diced)
– small handful of pecans (crushed)
– large handful of Michigan dried cherries
– dash of salt pepper
– larger dash of ground ginger

First saute the onions in some butter. The add everything else and cook until the peppers are tender. The stuffing is ready! The hard part is putting everything together. I had a pork loin that was about 650g which I butterflied. I think if you can master the art of roll-cutting, or whatever they call it, that would be able to hold the stuffing better. If you choose just to butterfly it then you should have a mother-in-law on hand who can artfully tie the loin closed. Four hands are a minimum. There was also a second smaller pork loin that was simply marinated in Boon Kriek.

The two hunks of meat were cooked indirectly over coconut briquettes. The results were very good! The cherries, yellow pepper, and pecans were a nice combination that sparked all kind of ideas for future recipes. This is definitely a recipe I will be playing with more in the future. Many people say that stuffing is also a good way to keep a pork loin from drying out on the grill; that is something I have never had a problem with, but the stuffed loin that I made was drier than my usual ones so I don’t buy the idea that it makes a moister end product. Perhaps if you add something with a higher fat content that would be true.

The 2005 Cantillon kriek that I served with the pork was a fantastic partner. The dried cherries in the meat helped pull out the sour cherries in the lambic and the sourness and tartness of the beer gave the pork a nice freshness.

click on the photo for a couple more pictures.


black_albertOn Sunday I tried out a new marinade idea. I call it my Beeriyaki marinade. So what could that possibly be? Well it combines my love for a good teriyaki sauce with my love of big beers. The base for the sauce is Black Albert, a rich imperial stout from De Struise Brouwers. A roasty brew with hints of coffee, chocolate cake batter, molasses and a healthy dose of hops and sweet alcohols. To this roasty base I added more traditional Teriyaki ingredients like soy sauce, brown sugar, black pepper, onion, garlic and honey. I marinaded a 1+kg beef center-cut roast for about 3 hours in the fridge, before letting it sit out to warm up a bit. Then it was thrown onto the grill for indirect cooking (this was a reverse sear cook). Towards the end of the cook I added a handful of soaked Jack Daniels wood chips to the coconut shell briquettes. The meat was cooked to an internal temp of 55C but I should have taken it off just a bit earlier. Due to its thickness it had more thermal momentum than I thought so it ended up just slightly too high. Next time I’ll take it off a 52C. Still, it turned out just fine. The flavor was very nice with a typical Teriyaki character (though a bit milder) and just a touch of something deeply roasted. This is a marinade that I will be using again. Hmm that reminds me, I have some bottles of a homebrewed Imperial Stout that never carbonated properly. That would be perfect for this.

Beeriyaki marinade

1 bottle of Black Albert or similar imperial stout (33cl or 12oz)
1/2 medium yellow onion (chopped)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbs. worcestershire sauce
2 tbs. honey
1 tbs. brown sugar
3/4 tbs. black pepper
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. garlic salt (depending on taste)
Mix everything together and throw in your beef. Let sit covered for a few hours in the fridge. While cooking baste the meat with the marinade a few times.

Pork medallions & Cuvée de Ranke

pork medaillions april 2009Inspired by the pork medallions that Noskos fired up, I tried my hand at these nice little bacon-wrapped goodies last saturday. Noskos’ version was rubbed with a cajun rub. Mine was rubbed with a sweeter rub of brown sugar with a dash of garlic salt, onion salt, ground ginger, paprika and of course some sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. The bacon was salted bacon, so the salt in the rub was kept low. These were first seared directly over a fire of lump, coconut briquettes and a chunk of grape vine wood. After a quick sear they were cooked indirect until the meat firmed up a bit. It was the first time using grape vine with a thick cut of pork. Unlike in a previous post “through the grape vine,” the wood went very well with the sweet rubbed pork. Of course since this was just grilled rather than smoked, the smoke was subtle.

I also made a quick sauce to accompany the pork. It was a bit of a last minute decision but it turned out well. I took a left over piece of the thickly cut bacon, chopped it up and sauteed it with a large shallot. To this I added about 20cl of light blond beer (which I rather not name) and cooked it down quite a bit. Then I added about one tablespoon of the left over rub, some heavy cream, and a 1/2 tablespoon of strong dijon mustard.

To drink with the pork I had a bottle of Cuvee de Ranke. A nice smooth musty sour with fruity edges that went extremely well with the sweet pork and salty bacon. A truly wonderful combination! Perhaps one of the better food pairings that I have had in quite a long time, unless you count the treats that Glenn cooked up for the Pre-ZBF gathering at Alvinne. Next time I will also use this in the sauce in place of the unamed blond lager, and that will no doubt take the sauce from being good to being stellar!

click on the photo for more

through the grape vine

grapevinewood1I haven’t posted anything about grilling or smoking yet, so here is a quickie.

I have been using some of the grape vine wood chunks that my brother-in-law bought as a gift for me a while back. At the time I had never heard of using this for smoking or grilling (apparently its very popular in France and Italy for grilling). The first time I really tried to use it for cooking I was taken back by how good it was. I used it to smoke a couple chickens. The flavor went extremely well with chicken. It also went well in a mix with apple wood for some ribs (mostly apple with a little grape vine). For poultry, it is now perhaps my favorite wood. On Sunday I tried a quick test with some steaks on the grill. As I was getting the coals ready I placed one chunk of the grape vine wood on the coals and let it burn down a little. I then seared the steaks over the coals and wood and then cooked them indirect. The grapevine wood didn’t quite work with the steaks. I guess Oak and Hickory are still the best for that task. The steaks were still good, but the wood choice didn’t really seem right. I guess no real surprises there though. I’ll have to try it with fish next, that should be good.