UP IN SMOKE
FATHER’S DAY: GRILL GIFTS FOR THE BIG GUY
Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,
Father’s Day, 2010 is upon us, an occasion that challenges even the most resourceful gift givers. Procrastinate buying for Mother’s Day, and you can always duck into the supermarket for a lush bouquet of flowers. But slack on Father’s Day, and you’re in trouble.
Father’s Day, held the third Sunday of June, is one of the biggest grilling days of the season. On rare occasions, Dad is a guest at a barbecue. More likely, he’s hosting his own and doing the cooking. (I’m not sure how we managed to fall for that one—Moms get treated to breakfast in bed and a day out of the kitchen.) But it all works out, for what better way to celebrate any holiday than at the grill?
Happily, grilling—like golf—inspires a wealth of gift ideas.
For several years, I’ve been working with The Companion Group to design the gear I would want in my own arsenal of grilling tools. The result? My Best of Barbecue line of grill tools, fuels, and flavorings.
You’ve seen me use them on various TV shows. They’re also what I use at home and what I’d pick out for my own father, Sonny Raichlen.
All of the tools profiled below are available at www.grilling4all.com
Here’s my Top Ten List of Grill Gifts for Father’s Day. Thanks for everything, Dad.
1. With Planet Barbecue! already racing to #9 on the New York Times Bestseller List, I’m guessing a lot of Dads just couldn’t wait til Father’s Day (or couldn’t make it through Memorial Day weekend without it). But for those who have been patient, no griller’s bookshelf is complete without a copy! Better still, pick up the special gift set edition that includes packages of three of my proprietary rubs: Sicilian Rub, Pincho Powder, and Berber Blast. Available only at Barnes & Noble.
2. Best of Barbecue Real Big Gift Set: He changed your diapers and cheered on your ballgames, and of course, he taught you how to grill. Here’s a way to show your appreciation with our ultimate barbecue tool set. Included are: wine barrel chunks; 4 stainless steel skewers; meat shears; instant-read thermometer; marinade injector; spatula; basting brush; locking tongs; grill cleaning brush; charcoal/ash can; Panini griller; stainless steel chicken roaster; and a copy of How to Grill (Workman, 2001).
3. Ultimate Grill Brush. Here it is: the tool that generates the most inquiries—our monster grill brush, with an extra long –handle and a removable head that makes quick work of crusty grill grates. (C’mon…you don’t really think the crud from the last grill session is going to contribute good things to the next, do you?) On one side are steel bristles for stainless steel and cast iron grates; the other side features softer brass bristles for enamel or porcelainized grill grates. This bad boy brush might be hard to gift wrap, but Dad will absolutely love it.
4. Let there be light. Nothing dooms a cookout like grilling in the dark. Enter one of our best-sellers: the Lumatong ™—a 20-inch long set of tongs (no more singed arms, Dad) outfitted with two LED lights attached to the handle to illuminate whatever’s on the grill. The light box is removable for battery replacement or easy cleaning. Plan B is our Grill Headlight, which clips onto your grill and sheds light on your food. There’s no more excuse for burning.
5. Hot off the Plancha: This flat piece of cast iron (the Spanish call it a plancha but it’s known as a chapa in Argentina) is invaluable when you want a good sear on foods that you don’t want to dry out. Preheat the plancha over a charcoal, wood, or even gas fire for 10 or 15 minutes, then get ready for some of the best steak, seafood, lamb chops, vegetables, or even fruit of your life. (See a recipe for the latter below.) Takes grilling to a whole new level.
6. Marinade Spray Bottle: Here at BarbecueBible.com, it’s all about flavor, and one of the best ways to add an additional layer of taste is to spray the flavorings on the grilled food with a spray bottle. (No more grill brushes to clean.) Fill this handsome stainless steel-sheathed spray bottle with wine, beer, soy sauce, cola, or fruit juice and periodically spritz the food as it cooks. We took the technique straight from the playbook of some of the nation’s top competitive grill masters.
7. Crème Brulee Set: For a little end-of-the-meal drama, there’s nothing like crème brulee from the grill. Yes, we said from the grill. Hear the hiss screaming hot metal makes when it hits cold custard. Behold how the smoke curls around the dish seductively as the sugar caramelizes to a shatteringly crisp crust. Real men will ditch their wimpy kitchen torches and go back to making crème brulee the old-fashioned way—with a fire-heated cast iron salamander. (See the recipe for Catalan Creme below.) Also comes with two seasoned cast iron ramekins with enamel interiors. Additional ramekins are sold separately.
8. Stone Grill Press: Pollo al Mattone is one of the glories of Tuscan cooking, consisting of spiced spatchcocked chicken grilled under a brick on the grill. Did someone say brick? We’ve just upped the ante by creating a grilling brick with a metal and wood handle. The result is crisp skin, succulent meat, and an exceedingly cool way to impress family and friends. Large enough to weight an entire chicken or a couple of game hens.
9. Grill Scraper: If your dad is as particular about grill cleanliness as I am, he’ll appreciate this ingenious new tool—a sharp-edged scraper that allows you to clean both sides of the grill grate at once. You know Raichlen’s mantra: Keep it hot; keep it clean; keep it lubricated.
10. Primal Grill ™ Baseball Caps and T-Shirts: To judge from your emails, you like the new uniform worn by the crew on Primal Grill TV—black caps and T-shirts emblazoned with the bold orange Primal Grill ™ logo. Now you can buy them too in the Primal Grill web store to have the best-dressed father/grill master on the block.
And to all those dad and grandads out there, all of us at Up in Smoke wish you a happy, barbecue-filled Fathers Day.
GREEK GRILLED SHRIMP
SPRAYED WITH OLIVE OIL AND RETSINA
Note: Retsina is a Greek wine flavored with pine resin. (Resin was once used to seal wine skins—the Greeks retained a taste for it.) Look for retsina in a good liquor store or Greek market or use an aromatic dry white wine, like Spanish verdejo.
Source: Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen
Method: Direct grilling
2 pounds fresh shrimp with the heads on or 1-1/2 pounds peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, preferably Greek, in a spray bottle
1/4 cup Greek retsina or other dry white wine in a spray bottle (optional)
Large crystals of sea salt for sprinkling
You’ll also need: Best of Barbecue Marinade Spray Bottle, or other spray bottle
If using whole shrimp, peel the tails, using kitchen scissors to open the shells. Leave the heads intact. Scrape out the veins with the tine of a fork. If using shrimp tails, peel and devein.
Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. Brush and oil the grill grate.
Spray the shrimp on one side with olive oil. Arrange oil side down on the grate. Lightly spray the tops with more olive oil and retsina. When the bottoms of the shrimp are sizzling and browned, turn over. Lightly spray this side with oil and retsina. The cooking time is brief, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Transfer the grilled shrimp to a platter or plates and sprinkle generously sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve at once and get ready for some of the best shrimp of your life.
FRANCIS MALLMANN’S BURNT ORANGES
Source: Adapted from Seven Fires by Francis Mallmann (Artisan, 2009)
Method: Direct grilling
Here’s a dessert of such startling simplicity and bold in-your-face flavors, just to hear about it is to want to try it. It comes from the rock star of South American live-fire cooking, Francis Mallmann.
4 large juicy navel oranges
2 o 3 sprigs fresh rosemary (2 to 3 tablespoons leaves)
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups crème brulee ice cream or plain Greek yogurt, divided between 4 shallow bowls
Cut off both ends of each orange. Using a sharp paring knife, remove the peel and white pith in strips. Cut each orange in half widthwise and remove any seeds with a fork. Arrange the oranges on a plate cut side up.
Sprinkle the oranges with rosemary leaves, pressing the leaves into the flesh. The recipe can be prepared up to 1 hour ahead.
Set up your grill for direct grillingand preheat to high. Ideally, you’ll be grilling over wood.
If you have a plancha, preheat it screaming hot. If working directly on the grill, brush and oil the grill grate.
Just before serving, sprinkle the cut part of each orange with sugar. Invert the orange halves onto the metal plate or onto the grill. Cook until the sugar caramelizes, that is, turns dark brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Do not let burn or the sugar will taste bitter.
Using a spatula, arrange the orange halves, sugar side up, on the ice cream. If using a pan, spoon any juices over the oranges and serve at once.
Source: Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen (Workman, 2010)
Method: Caramelizing with a crème brulee iron or fire-heated cast iron skillet
Advance preparation: Make the custard at least 3 hours in advance, and up to 24 hours; must be thoroughly chilled
For the custard:
1 quart whole milk
1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1 vanilla bean, split (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3 strips lemon zest (the oil-rich outer rind—remove it with a vegetable peeler)
12 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons honey
About 1 cup Sugar In The Raw (known as castor sugar in England or cassonade in French) or granulated sugar, or as needed
You’ll also need: 6 crème brulee dishes (each about 4 inches across and 3/4 inch deep—tradition calls for earthenware); a crème brulee iron (see description above) or a kitchen blowtorch
Make the custard. Place the milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon zest in a heavy saucepan and simmer over the lowest possible heat for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and honey in a large heavy heatproof bowl. Whisk the mixture until smooth and creamy, 2 minutes. Very slowly (you don’t want to cook the egg yolks) strain the hot milk into the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Return the pan to a medium heat, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking steadily. The crema will thicken. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer and cook the mixture for 3 minutes, whisking steadily.
Spoon the mixture into the crème brulee dishes, shaking and tapping each to smooth the top. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until serving. You can make the Catalan creams up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerate, but if you do, press a piece of plastic on top of each to keep it from drying out and let warm to room temperature before serving.
Just before serving, heat the brulee iron or cast iron skillet screaming hot—ideally in a wood-burning fireplace, or alternatively in the embers of your charcoal grill or laid flat on the grate of your gas grill. (You can even heat it on one of the burners of your stove.) Evenly sprinkle the top of each Catalan cream with 3 tablespoons sugar. Press the hot iron into the surface of the Catalan creams to caramelize the sugar—this will take a few seconds and a puff of fragrant smoke will rise as the sugar darkens. Note: the sugar should be topaz-colored to a dark golden brown, not black. Burned sugar tastes, well, like burned sugar.
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