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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for May, 2013

TIP OF THE DAY: Ingredients For Dazzling Desserts

Dessert lovers: This one’s for you. Today’s tip is adapted from an article by Ann Pietrangel on Care2.com. To get recipes attached to the tips, see the original article.

Pietrangel interviewed Chicago-based pastry chef and restauranteur Malika Ameen, a Top Chef Just Desserts contestant and proprietor of By M Desserts.

Ameen recommends five ingredients that she always has on hand to give her desserts that extra something special. They happen to be popular with us as well:

1. Candied Citrus Peel

Candied citrus peel—grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange—adds brightness, freshness and texture to cakes and cookies. The peel of the fruit is julienned and boiled in sugar syrup, which preserves it. Here’s a recipe (along with a delicious lemon chiffon cake).

  • Chop and mix candied peel into baked goods: muffins, sweet breads, cakes, sugar cookie dough, shortbread, etc.
  •  

    Candied red grapefruit peel, served with a mascarpone dip. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.

  • Garnish sorbet, ice cream, lemon meringue pie, even chocolate mousse and chocolate tarts.
  • Garnish citrus-based cocktails.
  • For a simple yet elegant dessert or tea-time treat, serve the peel with a chocolate dip or some lightly sweetened mascarpone (see photo above).
  • As the finale to a fine dinner, serve candied peel with coffee or tea.
  •  
    2. Dried Lavender

    “Used sparingly, dried lavender enhances food with a mysterious and distinctive flavor,” says Ameen. She steeps it in cream to pair with berries, makes lavender-infused simple syrup syrup for lemonade and iced tea, and combines it with a crunchy sanding sugar to garnish cookies and pound cake. Here’s our recipe for lavender whipped cream.

    If you’re buying lavender outside of a food store (at a farmers market or general merchandise store, for example), be sure that it is organic. Lavender that is grown for ornamental display or potpourri can be coated with chemical pesticides. You want culinary lavender.

     

    A vanilla-cardamom-filled whoopie pie.
    Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy
    McCormick.com.

     

    3. Ground Cardamom

    This aromatic and slightly sweet spice, a relative of ginger, is one of Ameen’s favorites. While it is known for its use in Indian cooking, it is a popular addition to Scandinavian breads and breakfast pastries, as well as to Middle Eastern desserts.

    Cardamom pairs beautifully with chocolate: Use it to accent anything from chocolate pudding to brownie batter; add a dash or two to a chocolate milkshake. You can use cardamom pods to brew a delicious cardamom tea.

    Cardamom plants grow wild in the monsoon forests of southern India. They had been gathered and traded for 1,000 years until the British began to cultivate it in the 19th century. Cardamom was called the Queen of Spices. Black pepper, also Indian in origin, was the King of Spices.

     
    4. Vanilla Sugar

    Vanilla beans are expensive, but they have a second life. Used vanilla beans can (and should) be used to make vanilla sugar.

    Use vanilla sugar instead of plain table sugar to add a lift of flavor as an ingredient or a topping. Try it with baked goods, berries, beverages, cereal and grapefruit, for example.

    To repurpose vanilla beans, simply place one in a sealed pound canister of granulated sugar for at least week. It can remain there infinitely; just shake the jar occasionally. You can add more used pods and can give containers of your artisan vanilla sugar as gifts.

    If you don’t use vanilla pods, you can buy ready-made vanilla sugar as a gift for your favorite baker.

    NOTE: Vanilla powder is not the same as vanilla sugar. Vanilla powder is a combination of sugar and ground vanilla that is used in recipes where a dry ingredient is preferred, instead of vanilla extract. More about the different types of vanilla.

    5. Fleur De Sel

    Sweet and salty has emerged as a flavor hit (although everything old is new again). Salt helps to lift the flavor of other ingredients. That’s why cookies, cakes and other sweets all have a pinch of salt in the recipe.

    Fleur de sel (“flower of the sea”), a fine French sea salt is simply delicious with chocolate. That’s why there are so many artisan brownies, chocolate bars and chocolate chip cookies garnished with it.

    Sprinkle a few crystals of fleur de sel sprinkled over any chocolate dessert to add a burst of flavor and crunchy texture.

    Here’s more about fleur de sel in our Artisan Salts Glossary. Who knew there were so many wonderful salts?

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY: Dad-Themed Cupcakes

    Dad may have a favorite pie, cake or cookie that he really wants to enjoy on Father’s Day. If not, let Father’s Day cupcakes be the hit of the party.

    At Crumbs Bakery, Father’s Day cupcakes are garnished with chocolate moustaches. If you want to do the same at home, anchor the chocolate with a toothpick.

    Seeking additional inspiration, we looked at different themes for Father’s Day cupcakes and found cupcakes:

  • Covered with neckties of candy, icing or marzipan
  • Shaped like hamburgers
  • With “Gone Fishing” themes (you can decorate cupcakes with Swedish Fish)
  • With chocolate golf balls or entire golf greens
  •  

    Father’s Day cupcake. Photo courtesy CrumbsBakery.com.

  • Sports cupcakes with tops decorated to look like the baseballs, billiard balls, footballs, soccer balls, etc. (Crumbs has a selection of these as well).
  • With stars—icing, marzipan, candy, etc.—and “DAD” lettering
  •  
    You can bake from scratch or buy cupcakes and decorate them. A stroll through a candy store will give you more ideas; or head to your browser and type in “Father’s Day Cupcakes.”

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Ramps (Wild Leeks)

    The prettiest recipe we’ve seen with ramps:
    a ramp-stuffed torta from chef Catie Baumer
    Schwalb of PitchforkDiaries.com. Here‘s the
    recipe.

     

    We were surprised and delighted to see spring ramps in the store yesterday. We thought that the brief ramp season was over.

    An early spring vegetable, ramps are so delicious—a combination of garlic and onion flavors—that they are worth seeking out and enjoying, simply sautéed.

    Ramps are wild leeks, also known as spring onion, ramson, wild garlic and wood leek. In French, they are called ail des bois, garlic of the woods.

    Ramps grow wild and are found in clusters. The entire plant is edible, from the long, smooth, green leaves to the scallion-like bulb.

    Since ramps grow wild, they can easily end up in a yard where, alas, they are typically pulled out and thrown away—not only because they appear to be weeds, but for their strong garlic aroma. Should you come across something smelling of garlic, bring it to the kitchen instead of the trash.

     

    While ramps can be enjoyed in any recipe that uses a member of the onion family, the easiest preparation is simply sautéed as a side or in combination with other spring vegetables. Combine ramps with asparagus and morels for a heavenly spring feast. There are more serving suggestions and a delicious recipe for eggs, potatoes, bacon and ramps, below.

    RAMPS VS. SCAPES

    Don’t confuse ramps with their equally delicious cousins, garlic scapes. Scapes are the curling shoots of young garlic plants. For decades they were cut off in the fields and thrown away (to allow the garlic bulbs to grow larger), before growers realized that chefs and foodies were eager to buy them.

     

    Many people refer to the vegetable as the wild leek, the name ramp is popular in the East. It comes from England. One version of the name source attributes a folk name, œramsen, the plural form of hramsa, an Old English word for wild garlic. Early English settlers of Appalachian a prime ramp regional used the term, which later was shortened to ramp.

    Search for local ramps festivals and mark your calendar so you don’t miss next year’s.

    WAYS TO SERVE RAMPS

  • Added to recipes in place of onions and garlic, including raw in salads
  • Fried with potatoes in bacon fat (recipe below)
  • Grill them as a side or a burger topper
  • Make garlicky ramp soup (follow a recipe for asparagus soup)
  • Pickled ramps (recipe)
  •  

    Ramps, picked and cleaned, Photo courtesy ApplePiePatisPpate.com, which used them to make pickled ramps.

  • Sautéed and added to pasta, pizza, scrambled eggs, omelets and fried eggs with bacon (cook the ramps in the bacon fat)
  • EASY RAMPS RECIPE: FRIED RAMPS WITH POTATOES, EGGS & BACON

    Ingredients

    In the South, this dish is served with sides of Pass pinto beans and cornbread. The recipe is adapted from ChickensInTheRoad.com.

  • 6 slices regular or pepper bacon, cooked and chopped, bacon fat reserved
  • 1 cup ramps, white parts and leaves, chopped coarsely
  • 2-3 medium size potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
  • 5 large eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chives
  • Optional: shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
  •  
    Preparation

    1, COOK bacon in a large frying pan; remove, chop and set aside, reserving the bacon fat.

    2. FRY the ramps and potatoes in the bacon fat over low heat, covered, until the potatoes are tender.

    3. CRACK eggs over the ramp/potato mixture and fry, covered, until eggs cooked. Sprinkle on the optional shredded cheese. Season with salt, pepper, and chives to taste.

    4. REMOVE eggs with their ramp/potato beds onto serving plates; top with chopped bacon. Makes five single-egg portions.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Negroni Cocktail

    The Negroni cocktail. Photo courtesy Geof
    Peters | Wikimedia.

     

    This is National Negroni week. For those not immersed in cocktail culture, the Negroni is one of the classics, dating back to 1919.

    As the story goes, the cocktail was invented at the Bar Cassoni* in Florence, Italy by bartender Fosco Scarselli in Florence. He created it for a regular patron, Count Camillo Negroni, who had asked for an Americano cocktail strengthened with a dash of gin instead of the usual soda water. Scarselli used an orange garnish rather than the lemon garnish of the Americano, and presented his client with a “Negroni.”

    The cocktail took off, and the Negroni Family quickly founded Negroni Distillerie in Treviso, producing Antico Negroni, a ready-made version of the drink. But the cocktail was unknown in the U.S. until 1947 when Orson Welles, working in Rome, wrote about it,

    *Bar Cassoni became Caffè Casoni and is now called Caffè Cavalli.

     

    RECIPE: NEGRONI COCKTAIL

    Ingredients

  • 1.25 ounces gin
  • 1.25 ounces Campari
  • 1.25 ounces Martini sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: orange twist
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a shaker with ice.

    2. STRAIN into chilled coupe or serve over ice in a chilled rocks glass. Garnish and serve.
     
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE COCKTAIL RECIPES.

    MORE ABOUT MARTINI & ROSSI VERMOUTH.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Breakfast Salad

    If you haven’t been getting your recommended portions of fruits and vegetables*, how about starting your day with a breakfast salad? You can have one of these fruit-based salads with your regular breakfast foods—cereal, eggs, a bagel—or with a side of cottage cheese, ricotta and/or yogurt.

    This recipe comes from Lynn’s Paradise Café, Louisville, Kentucky and was sent to us by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

    It makes 8 portions. Divide in half for 4 portions.

    BREAKFAST SALAD RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 2 pounds mixed, torn salad greens
  • 2 cups granola
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 4 cups fresh orange sections
  • Blueberry vinaigrette (recipe below)
  •  

    Breakfast salad. Photo courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    *It used to be “five a day,” but now the government bases the portions on calorie needs for your age, gender and activity level. Calculate your portions with this Fruit and Vegetable Calculator from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

     

    Blueberries growing on the bush. Photo
    courtesy BlueberryCouncil.org.

     

    Preparation

    1. TOSS salad greens with 1½ cups of blueberry vinaigrette (recipe below).

    2. DIVIDE the dressed greens among eight large plates. Arrange ½ cup orange sections and ½ cup blueberries on top of each salad

    3. SPRINKLE each salad with ¼ cup granola. Drizzle remaining dressing on top. Serve immediately.

     

    BLUEBERRY VINAIGRETTE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced shallot
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE ingredients in a food processor. Process until mixture is smooth.

    2. CHILL at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Yield: 2 cups.
     
    FIND MORE BLUEBERRY RECIPES AT BLUEBERRYCOUNCIL.ORG.

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Baked Potato Tots

    Tater Tots are so beloved that the term is used generically, although it’s a trademark of Ore-Ida, which invented the little potato bites in 1953. (The story is below.)

    Everyone else can call them “potato tots.” These days, chefs reaching back to childhood are serving fresh-from-scratch versions.

    This variation, Baked Potato Tots, comes to us courtesy of PotatoGoodness.com and the blog, Mele Cotte. Prep time is 25 minutes, cook time is 1 hour 20 minutes and ready time is 1 hour 45 minutes.

    BAKED POTATO TOTS RECIPE

    Ingredients For 3 Servings

  • 2 medium Russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ to ¾ cup 0% Greek yogurt, warm
  • 1½ tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups unseasoned panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  •  

    A baked variation of the iconic Tater Tots. Photo courtesy PotatoGoodness.com.

     

    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

    2. SCRUB potatoes with a brush under running water; dry them off. Pierce each potato with a fork to prevent exploding. Bake the potatoes about 1 hour, or until they are cooked through. When cool enough to handle but still hot, cut the potatoes in half and scoop the pulp out of the skins.

    3. RUN the potatoes through a ricer or food mill into a medium bowl. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in yogurt and 1 tablespoon of the cheese. Add ¼ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir just until blended.

    4. PLACE breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or pie tin. Stir in remaining ½ tablespoon cheese, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and Italian seasoning.

    5. USING a small scoop, form potato mixture into rounds that resemble a large marble or gumball. Roll in breadcrumbs, shaping the potato into a tot as you roll. Place each tot on baking sheet 1 inch apart. Bake 20 minutes, flipping over halfway through baking. Check after 20 minutes and continue to bake until browned and crisp. Serve hot.

     

    The Russet potato. Photo courtesy Idaho
    Potato Commission.

     

    ABOUT TATER TOTS

    Tater Tots are an American side dish made from deep-fried, grated potatoes. They are miniature croquettes: crisp little cylinders of hash brown-style potatoes. Tater is American dialect for potato, and “tots” came from their small size.

    Although the name may seem generic, Tater Tots is a registered trademark of Ore-Ida. Tater Tots were created in 1953 when Ore-Ida founders, brothers F. Nephi Grigg and Golden Grigg, were considering what to do with leftover slivers of cut-up potatoes from their signature French fries.

    They chopped them up, mixed them with flour and seasonings, and pushed logs of the grated/mashed potato mixture through a form, slicing off and frying small pieces. The Ore-Ida brand was acquired by H. J. Heinz Company in 1965.

     
    Find more delicious potato recipes at PotatoGoodness.com.

    DO YOU KNOW YOUR POTATOES?

    Check out the different potato types in our Potato Glossary.

      

    Comments

    FATHER’S DAY GIFT: Jalapeño Plant

    Here’s something fun for chile-loving dads who’d like to try their hand at gardening.

    You can look for a jalapeño plant at your local nursery, or give Dad the “ingredients” to grow his own.

    Combine a packet of seeds, a planter and soil, along with some fresh jalapeños to show Dad what’s in store in 62 days, the time it takes for the planted seeds to mature.

    The particular hybrid in the photo, a Burpee exclusive, is a very low heat jalapeño, enabling the savory jalapeño flavor to be enjoyed by non-heat foodies. Its name: False Alarm.

    These mild, tasty jalapeños are excellent for roasting, nachos, poppers, salads and salsas. “It’s the perfect little hardly-hot pepper for small gardens and containers,” says Burpee.

    Get the seeds at Burpee.com.

     

    Buy it full-grown or grow your own from seed. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     

    DO YOU KNOW YOUR CHILES?

    Check out the different types of hot chile peppers in our Chile Glossary.

      

    Comments

    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Rabbit’s Garlic

    Rabbit’s Garlic is pickled garlic in five
    flavors, used here a canapé garnish, in
    hummus-carrot and mozzarella-tomato
    combinations. Photo by Elvira Kalviste |
    THE NIBBLE.

     

    We like garlic, but wouldn’t consider ourselves to be garlic lovers. Yet, we love Rabbit’s Garlic. The picked garlic is made in five flavors, each of which can be served at every meal from breakfast to dinner and snacks. We’re giving jars as Father’s Day gifts.

    The creator is a nurse named Bunny, called Rabbit by her husband. She had long been preserving fruits, meats and vegetables for family and friends until she was convinced to go commercial. Try her pickled garlic, and you’ll be glad she did!

    When Bunny started to add garlic cloves to season jars of dilly beans, everyone started to fight over the garlic cloves. Thus the first flavor of pickled garlic was born: Spicy Dill. The line now includes:

  • Chipotle Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Pickled Garlic
  • Habanero Dill Pickled Garlic
  • Smoke Pickled Garlic
  • Spicy Dill Pickled Garlic
  • You’ll find many ways to use these delicious pickled garlic cloves. For starters:

     

     

  • Beer: Pop a clove into the bottle.
  • Bloody Mary or Martini: The Spicy Dill flavor is great as a Bloody Mary or Martini garnish.
  • Bruschetta: Mash the garlic cloves and spread on toasted bread.
  • Eggs: In omelets and scrambles, in deviled eggs and as a garnish.
  • Garlic Butter/Garlic Bread: Mash the garlic cloves with softened butter to spread on bread; toast under the broiler.
  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes: The smoke flavor is great for this. Mix sliced and smashed cloves into the mashed potatoes.
  • Salads: Add cut up cloves to egg, chicken, green, potato, macaroni, tuna and other salads.
  • Snack and Relish: Straight from the jar, or serve them like pickles or olives as a snack. A reason to revive the relish tray!
  •  

    Garlic brittle: really delicious! Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Marinade: Mash onto steaks and chops during grilling or add to the marinade for 1-2 hrs before cooking.
  • Meat Seasoning: Cut slits in the side of beef or pork roasts before cooking. The flavor is subtle but well worth trying.
  • Pasta Sauce: Add to your favorite pasta sauces, or toss with the pasta.
  • Sandwiches & Burgers: A memorable garnish.
  •  
    Bunny also sent us some garlic brittle: We tasted it gingerly, now we’re addicted!

    Get yours at RabbitsPickledGarlic.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Heirloom Produce Part 1, Cucumbers

    Charming lemon cucumbers. Photo courtesy
    Burpee.com.

     

    LEMON CUCUMBERS

    It’s a lemon…no, it’s a cucumber. We spotted these unusual cukes and the ones in the photo below on the Burpee Seeds website.

    Imagine the surprise and delight when you serve a new and different twist on an everyday vegetable. The only question with these cute cukes is, how to serve them? Slicing them into discs or a julienne deprives diners of experiencing a round, yellow cucumber.

    We like the idea of presenting the entire cucumber as an appetizer on a bed of mesclun or a bed of sliced and vinaigrette-marinated red onions. Serve a dressing or dip on the side: vinaigrette, yogurt-dill-garlic dip, salsa or other favorite.

    Alternatively, we’d bake them whole, like a potato. As with a potato, be sure to pierce the skin three times with a fork, to allow steam to escape.

     

    Bake the cucumbers skins on, in a pan filled with 1/2 inch water at 350°F for 25 minutes. Use a cake tester or toothpick to test doneness and continue to cook as desired. You’ll have to experiment the first time you do it, based on oven variation and consistency preferences: You may want an al dente consistency or something softer to the tooth.

    Then, season as desired: with salt and pepper, dill, garlic, paprika, tarragon or other favorite herbs or spices. We recommend fresh dill and fat free plain yogurt with salt and pepper—which is one of the ways we enjoy a baked potato.

    Even raw, the round, lemon yellow heirloom cucumbers are tender and sweet, excellent for salads as well as for pickling. They have a clean, crisp taste and are never bitter.

    Burpee says that the vines yield heavily and for a long time. With 65 days to maturity, you’ve got time to plant them this year. It’s a fun project, and you’ll be able to share the wealth with foodie friends and family.

    By the way, if these lemon cucumbers look like yellow squash to you, they’re botanical cousins. Both share the order Cucurbitales and the family Cucurbitaceae. They differ at the genus level: cucumbers belong to the genus Cucumis and squash to the genus Cucurbita.

    If you love cucumbers, head to the Burpee website to check out 32 different varieties of cucumber!

     

    CRYSTAL APPLE CUCUMBERS

    Do you prefer the look of apples to lemons? Try this heirloom oldie, the Crystal Apple cucumber, which was bred in New Zealand in 1934.

    The pale green fruits (yes, cucumbers are a fruit—see below) resemble Granny Smith apples, which themselves originated in New South Wales, Australia in 1868. And yes again, there was a Granny Smith: Maria Ann Smith, who propagated the cultivar from a chance seedling.

    The flesh is smooth, tender and creamy; both the Crystal Apple and Lemon Cucumbers make a bright, scrumptious addition to salads.

    There are many varieties of heirloom cucumber. Look for them at farmers markets or get the seeds from Burpee and grow your own.

    Get your seeds at Burpee.com.

     

    Crystal Apple heirloom cukes from New Zealand look like Granny Smith apples. Photo courtesy Burpee.com.

     

    While the charming appearance of unusual heirloom produce is a treat for foodies, it can also entice those who think they don’t like the vegetable to try something new.

    THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FRUITS & VEGETABLES

    Fact: Your favorite vegetables may actually be fruits! Tomatoes are fruits, avocados are fruits, chiles and bell peppers are fruits, cucumbers and squash are fruits.

    Because they aren’t sweet, people tend to think of them (and classify them in recipes and produce departments) as vegetables. But by botanical definition, fruits carry their seeds on the inside.*

    So if someone tells you he doesn’t like vegetables, respond: “These are fruits!”

    With fruits, the seeds, or pits, are contained in the fruit’s ovary sac. True vegetables have no “pit” or seed sac. So, beets and other root vegetables, celery, lettuces, herbs, and the anti-carcinogen cruciferous family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae)—arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, cress, daikon, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, radish, rutabaga and turnips—are all legitimate veggies.

    *The only exception is the strawberry, and its seeds are not used for reproduction.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: How To Grill The Perfect Steak

    Ready for the grill: a beautiful porterhouse steak from AllenBros.com.

     

    Chef Jan Birnbaum of EPIC Roasthouse in San Francisco enjoys a good steak on the grill. In fact, he designs his cookout menus so that he can cook everything outside!

    Here are Chef Jan’s tips for grilling the perfect steak.

    1. Don’t cook cold meat.

    Always allow meats to rest at room temperature for up to two hours, depending on the size of the meat. Meat directly out of a refrigerator is typically about 38°F.

    For best results, let it warm up a bit and put meat on the grill when it reaches an internal temperature of 50°-55°F degrees. Tempered meat produces a more desirable even-cooked color and texture, whether your goal is rare or medium.

     

    2. Sear first; then cook low, slow, and even.

    It’s best to start a steak over higher heat: The surface caramelizes and provides a better mouth feel and visual appearance, as well as a more assertive flavor. Then lower the heat so it will penetrate deeper, thus improving the chew and creating a more lush texture.

    Consider removing the meat from the heat altogether midway in cooking, and then return the it to the high direct heat to complete the cooking.

    3. Always rest the meat after grilling, before cutting and serving.

    The hot juices need to settle back into the flesh. Slice into hot meat and they’ll dribble out.

    Food continues to cook after it has been removed from heat. Once the meat is off the heat it may continue to rise in temperature another 10%. This process is known as endothermic energy.

     

    4. Cook chewier cuts at higher temperatures.

    From the most tender (filet mignon) to the most chewy cut (sirloin, for example), the tenderness and depth of flavor tend to be inverse to the texture of the meat. This is a function of how the animal used the particular muscle.

    Muscles that get more exercise produce meat that is less tender but with more depth of flavor. Cook these meats at hotter temperatures; rest them for less time and slice them thin. Muscles that are load bearing are more tender but less flavorful.

    5. Live fire is best.

    The smokey nuances of live fire are delicious on meat. The combination of wood flame and a coal bed enhances the complexity of the eating experience. Building the fire is key to achieve this effect. Chef Jan likes a combination of walnut, oak and a bit of mesquite charcoal.

     

    The porterhouse grilled to perfection. Photo courtesy AllenBros.com.

     

  • The size of the fire will be based on the amount of food you have to cook; however, a mature developed fire beats a quick and immature fire. Don’t cook on flame: Cook on a developed ember bed.
  • Start the fire with paper and walnut. Walnut is lighter, less dense and burns easily with more flame; it also requires less oxygen to produce a vigorous flame. When the walnut has burned by 20%-40%, add a bit of mesquite charcoal. The walnut fire will enable the mesquite to catch well.
  • Once the mesquite has begun to establish itself, add a log or two of a heavier, harder wood such as almond, oak or pecan. By now the first wood has burned and developed the base of an ember bed, and the second wood is progressing.
  • Once the hard wood has begun to become part of the ember bed, you are getting a fire that’s ready to cook on. This process is likely to take up to an hour.
  •  
    6. Choose the proper tools.

    Chef Jan prefers a professional meat fork instead of tongs; it offers more control. This fork, from Taylor, has a built-in digital thermometer. Use the tip of the fork and pierce the meat as little as possible (the juices will run out of pierced meat).

    Fish spatulas are good for small delicate items like fish and vegetables. The bigger, heavier jobs are best for a steel hamburger spatula.

    MORE GRILLING TIPS

    Don’t freestyle it; learn the skills.

      

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