How We Make Chimichurri

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Our version of chimichurri. Hard to make sauces look appealing, but trust me. It’s good.

 

There are thousands of recipes for chimichurri out there. Many claiming to be “original” or “authentic” and then some that have been modernized with all kinds of extra ingredients. I don’t remember where I got our recipe. I really wish I did. I want to say it was on a barbecue forum. Somebody probably asked for a recipe. All I remember is one guy complaining about all the fancy recipes. I think he might have been Argentinian. I do remember he said it was supposed to be simple and he posted his recipe. I tried it later that week, and I’ve been using it ever since. And that has been for years.

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This is how I copied it from the good ole interwebs and how we have it in our cookbook.

I’m not going to bother typing up the ingredients. It’s all right there in the picture above. As for prepping it, we just use a food processor. Put all the ingredients in except for the olive oil. Start processing it and add the olive oil until you get the consistency you desire. Too thin? Add some more parsley. Too thick, add more olive oil. Want it more spicy? Add more red pepper flakes. Honestly, its good the way it is, but you can customize it to your liking however you want. I mainly just eyeball it these days and adjust the taste to how I’m feeling.

For the most part, we just serve it on beef. Usually flat-iron, flank steak or skirt steak grilled on our BGE, usually with a bit of mesquite for a touch of smoke until a medium rare. When using it for beef, use red wine vinegar if you have it.  It is also good on chicken with white wine vinegar or you can sub lemon juice for the vinegar.

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Served on flat iron steak with some roasted potatoes and corn. Sorry, not the most exciting plate. ūüėČ

Have you ever made chimichurri? What’s your recipe? What type of protein do you like to serve it on?

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Grilled Blackened Trout w/ Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce (updated 2/11/14)

Blackened Trout with Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce
Blackened Trout with Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Sticking with our current trend of trying to cook a bit healthier, I bring you our version of blackened trout. I say¬†“our version” because we didn’t quite cook it the way it is supposed to be cooked.

     For those unfamiliar with blackening, it is a cooking technique used in the preparation of fish and other foods. Often associated with Cajun cuisine, this technique was popularized by Chef Paul Prudhomme. For this technique, the seafood (or chicken) is dipped in melted butter, then liberally coated with a mixture of herbs and spices and then cooked in a very hot cast iron skillet. The seafood should have a brown-black crust that results from a combination of the browned milk solids of the butter and the charred spices.

¬†¬†¬†¬† While we could have gone that way, we opted to try and be a bit healthier by skipping the dredge in butter and instead lightly coated it in olive oil. Since the fat from the butter was omitted, I was afraid it might stick to a hot cast iron pan. Instead, I grilled it directly over open flame on a grill basket. It might not be truly authentic blackening and it might not be that much healthier, but it still tasted amazing! ūüôā¬†¬†¬†

¬†¬†¬†¬† And don’t get me started on the tartar sauce! That stuff should be illegal! I could eat it straight. In fact, I might have had a spoonful or two of it after I whipped it up. You won’t tell, will you? ūüėČ Do me a favor…toss out that jarred crap you have floating around somewhere in the back of your fridge and make your own. You can thank me later. Ok, let’s get started with the tartar sauce, since the longer you let it sit, the better it gets.

The trout went "meat" side down at 500F to start.
The trout went “meat” side down at 500F to start.

Horseradish and Tarragon Tartar Sauce

(serves 4)

  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 to 3 tbsp of prepared horseradish, I’ll let you decide how spicy you want it
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion (**update yellow onion work better**)
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and roughly chopped
  • 3 dashes of hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s, but feel free to sub in your own brand and adjust if you want more)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (2 hours would be better if you have the time)

After removing the trout, throw a few shrimp on for a few minutes.
After removing the trout, throw a few shrimp on for a few minutes.

Blackening Seasoning

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together ingredients in a small bowl. If not using immediately, store in an airtight container.

Mmmm...so tasty!
Mmmm…so tasty!

Ok, you’ve got your tartar sauce prepared and your blackening seasoning is mixed up and ready to go. Time to get started on the fish (and shrimp if you want to add some as well).

Directions

  1. Pre-heat your grill to medium high. For our Big Green Egg, we stabilized it at 500F. I like to use a grill basket when doing fish as I find it easier to flip the fish. (If you don’t have one, it is not the end of the world. You can cook it on the original grates). Insert the grill basket onto your grill and let it come up to temperature with the grill.
  2. Brush your trout lightly with olive oil and season liberally with blackening seasoning. I mean go heavy with the stuff. Don’t hold back. If you are going to do some shrimp as well, shell the shrimp and dust with the seasoning.
  3. When you are ready to grill your fish, pour some oil on a paper towel and wipe down the grates on your grill. Trout is a fast cooking fish, so do not leave your grill while it is cooking. Place the trout meat side down on the oiled grates and grill for 2 to 3 minutes and then flip. If the fish is sticking to the grates, allow to cook 30 seconds to a minute more and then try to flip. The fish will cling to the grates until it is ready to flip. Once you flip the fish, grill for another minute or two. Remove from grill when fish reaches 135F.
  4. Allow fish to rest covered loosely with foil for 5 minutes. The temperature of the trout should carry over to 140-145 while resting.
  5. While the fish is resting, through a few shrimp on the grill if you like. They only take a few minutes per side.
  6. Serve with plenty of your home-made horseradish and tarragon tartar sauce on the side.
How can you resist?
How can you resist?

¬†¬†¬†¬† Mrs. G told me later that evening that this had to be one of the best dinners we have cooked in weeks. The heat from the blackening seasoning was just right. The cool, creaminess¬†of the tartar sauce offset it perfectly and the flavors were outstanding. She made me promise to never buy¬†the jarred stuff again and to make it from scratch from now on. And the Brussel¬†sprouts you see on the side there? Who knew I liked Brussel sprouts? I’ve been missing out all these years. Tune in later this week and we’ll show you how to make them. Mrs. G made them last night and I wasn’t paying attention, but she’s going to make them again tonight and I’ll make sure to take pictures and get a recipe. If only I knew before now…

Nutrional Facts Per Serving (minus the blackening seasoning and the shrimp)

Calories: 507   Protein: 47g   Carbs: 1g   Total Sugar: 0g   Total Fat: 33g   Saturated Fat: 4.8g

Cholesterol: 138mg   Sodium: 661mg   Fiber: 0g

**Update 2/11/14**

We’ve made the tartar sauce numerous times since this post was written. In fact, we no longer buy pre-made tartar sauce anymore. While the red onions work fine, we’ve found that if allowed to sit, they tend to “stain” the tartar sauce and make it pink. We have subbed in yellow onions and that has fixed the problem without significantly changing the flavor profiles. While the red onions might give it an aesthetically pleasing edge, unless it is to be served within a few hours, we now opt for yellow.

Pico de Gallo

Cast of Characters

¬†¬†¬†¬† Pico de gallo. Literally translated as beak of the rooster. Rooster’s beak. What a weird name for a salsa. I’m not sure where the name came from and it really doesn’t make much difference. All you need to know is this stuff is delicious. It’s something we grew up eating in South Texas and it is so easy to make. Pico de gallo is generally known as a fresh condiment made from chopped tomato, onion, and chiles (typically serranos or jalape√Īos). Other ingredients may also be added to the salsa, such as lime juice, cilantro, avocado, cucumber, and radish.

¬†¬†¬†¬† The great thing about making your own pico at home, is that you can adjust it to your taste. Want more heat? Throw in more jalapenos or a serrano pepper. Want less heat? Remove the seeds and membranes from the jalapenos before dicing them up. Not a cilantro fan (what, you don’t like cilantro? What’s wrong with you? ūüėČ ), skip it. Don’t let the picture above fool you. Not all of that went into my pico, I was just laying out the ingredients before getting started. That would have been way too much jalapeno for our household. And only about a 1/4 of that onion went in. And the garlic was playing hide and seek. Ok…I forgot to include some garlic for the picture. You got me.

Ingredients

  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 jalapenos
  • 1/4 to 1/2 and onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of one lime
  • cilantro
  • salt and pepper
  • sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Finely dice up jalapenos. If you like heat, use seeds and all. If you are a bit less heat tolerant, slice jalapenos lengthwise. With a spoon, remove the membrane and seeds and discard, then finely chop up jalapeno. Add to a large, non-reactive bowl.
  2. Finely dice up tomatoes, onions and garlic and add to the bowl.
  3. Chop up about a 1/4 cup of cilantro and add to the veggies in the bowl. You can add more or less, depending on how you feel about the stuff.
  4. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the pico and mix well.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy immediately, or better yet, allow to chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to allow the flavors to blend and mingle.

     How easy is that? And much better than anything you will ever get in a can or jar. Some helpful tips. Not hot enough, add more jalapenos, serranos or hot sauce (like Cholula). Too hot? Try adding another tomato or some sugar to bring that heat level down. Do you like fruit? Try adding mango, watermelon or even strawberries. The ingredients listed about are just a starting point that you can use for developing your own personal pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† One last thing before I let you go, do you like guacamole? Of course you do. Want an easy way to make some? Take one avocado and cut in half. Remove seed and using a sharp knife, crosshatch the avocado. Take a spoon and scoop it out of the skin.¬† Use a fork to mash the avocado to your liking, some people prefer really smooth guacamole, some prefer chunky. I’ll let you decide. Now take a spoonful or two of the fresh pico de gallo you just made and add it to the diced avocado. Add the juice of half a lime, some salt and pepper to taste and there you go…your own easy, spicy guacamole!! That wasn’t hard, was it? (Sorry, no pics of the guacamole. I started eating it and couldn’t make myself stop to take a picture.)

Pork Chops with a Whiskey BBQ Sauce

Pork Chops with a Whiskey BBQ Sauce

¬†¬†¬†¬† Last week, I saw a post on the BBQ Bible forum from a friend of mine making the Pork T-bone with Whiskey BBQ Sauce from Weber’s Charcoal Grilling. It looked so good, I knew I wanted to try it out myself. Unfortunately, I don’t own a copy of that book. The great thing about the internet is that pretty much everything is out there if you know what you are looking for and how to do a search. So a few minutes of looking and I had a few recipes for it. I didn’t know if these¬†were exactly the same, but I figured I would try one out. It’s not like I ever follow a recipe verbatim anyway.

Ingredients for the rub

Ingredients for the Rub

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

In a small bowl, mix the ingredients together. Lightly coat the pork chops with oil and then season with the rub, pressing the spices into the meat. Allow the steaks to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before grilling. (Make sure the pork chops are out of reach of any large dogs who are prone to counter surfing. He didn’t get them, but Olie was close when I had my back turned for a second.)

Rubbed and coming up to room temp

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • 1/3 cup bottled steak sauce
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup whiskey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Add the ingredients to a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce and simmer over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Onto the grill at 475F.

     Set up your grill for direct cooking at a medium high heat. I let my Egg settle in at about 475F and added some pecan chunks for smoke as well as some apple wood chips. Grill the pork chops for about 8 minutes per side or until the internal temperature reaches 140 to 145, depending on how well done you like your pork.

Resting

Allow the chops to rest for 5 to 10 minutes after grilling and then serve with warm bbq sauce on the side.

Plated up

¬†¬†¬†¬† I was a bit skeptical about how this dish was going to come out while making the sauce. I’m such a big fan of steak sauce, that I had to go to the store to buy some (what I’m trying to say here is that we¬†never have any at the house, nor do we use it). And this sauce tasted strongly of A-1. Maybe I should have used a different steak sauce? I don’t know, but I wasn’t digging the flavor. The recipe I found also called for an aged Scotch Whiskey. Well, I also didn’t have that on hand so I just used some bourbon that we did have. I can see where the Scotch Whiskey could have added some smoke flavor¬†to the sauce. All doubts aside, I tried the pork chop with the sauce and it actually worked out ok. The sauce seemed to compliment the flavors of the pork and the ingredients of the rub. The addition of the ground cloves added a nice touch and the cayenne (original recipe called for a pinch) added just the right amount of heat. I served it up with some Texas Ranchero¬†beans¬†from Bush’s Grillin’ Beans line and corn on the cob.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Would I do it again? I’m not really sure. I wasn’t really sold on the sauce. It tasted too much like steak sauce and I think next time, I’ll pass and save the bourbon for the cook. The rub worked, so I might keep that, maybe tweak it a bit. I’m still a big fan of brining pork chops, though. I think it helps keep the chop moist and juicy, so if I did do it again, I think I would incorporate that step into the process. As for Mrs. G….she took one taste of the sauce, shook her head and walked away without putting any on her plate. I’ll let you interpret that how you will.

 

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

¬†¬†¬†¬† Sometimes its hard cooking for just one. And that’s been something I’ve been doing quite a bit this summer with Mrs. G on the road so much. There are only so many times you can eat wings. Or pizza. Or burgers. (Who am I kidding? I could eat them all the time, but I shouldn’t.) I get that it is so much easier and faster to go out and grab fast food when you are by yourself, but sometimes you want something different. I was racking my brain yesterday, trying to come up with something to cook so I wouldn’t have to face the dreaded fast food. Mrs. G suggested stuffing a chicken and a lightbulb came on….why not chicken cordon bleu? On the grill?

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 4-6 slices of ham
  • 4 slices of Baby Swiss
  • Dijon¬†mustard
  • BBQ rub of your choice or spices
Butterfly a chicken breast

     Start off by butterflying a chicken breast. With a knife parallel to your cutting board, begin by cutting down the length of the side of the breast. Carefully cut the breast in half widthwise almost to the other edge.

Open the chicken breast up

Open the chicken breast along the fold.

Pound the chicken breast flat and spread on Dijon mustard

     Next, cover the chicken breast with plastic wrap or wax paper. Using the flat side of a mallet, pound out the chicken until it is a uniform thickness, pounding down and away. Once you have achieved your desired thickness, spread a layer of Dijon mustard over the chicken breast.

Top the chicken breast

¬†¬†¬†¬† Now add two or three slices of ham on each side of the chicken breast. I like to use a good, quality ham from the deli section. I’ll let you decide if you prefer a honey ham, a smoked ham or maybe a Black Forest. Add four slices of Baby Swiss on top of the ham and fold one side of the chicken on top of the other. At this point you want to secure your chicken breast. You can use kitchen twine, I suppose, but I just used some toothpicks. If you opt for toothpicks, it is best to work at a diagonal so that they form X’s. Once your breast is secure, apply your favorite rub¬†or spices to both sides of the chicken. I almost went with some rosemary,oregano, basil, thyme type mixture, but at the last moment I spotted a rub that had been neglected recently….Sucklebuster’s¬†Hoochie Mama.

On to the Egg

     The chicken then went on to the Egg at 400F using a raised grate and apple wood for smoke. Mine took about 15 minutes to cook, but remember to always cook to temperature. You want the thickest part to read 160 when you pull it and the temperature will continue to climb to 165 as it rests. (If you are using a grill other than a Kamado style grill, set it up for indirect cooking. Sear your chicken breast on both sides over the flames and then move it away from the fire to finish cooking.)

 

Plated up with some green beans and egg noodles with a lemon butter sauce.

¬†¬†¬†¬† For a simple, last minute¬†thrown together meal, this was pretty tasty. Ooey, gooey, melted cheese with salty ham and chicken rubbed with a spicy BBQ rub….what’s not to like? The sharp, tangy taste of the Dijon mustard played nicely with the ham. The apple wood gave it just a kiss of smoke. I think the only way this could be improved is with…..you guessed it…BACON! Hmmm….should I put cooked bacon in it next time? Or wrap the whole thing in bacon? This will take some thought. Just a secret between me an you….I only ate about half of it. I brought the rest of it to work with me for lunch….if I can wait that long.

 

¬†¬†¬†¬† And in case you were wondering about the lemon butter sauce that went on the pasta, I’ll go ahead and share that as well. It’s a¬†simple sauce (it’s got to be simple if I can make it, I’m not known for sauces) similar to what you would have with chicken scallopini. Keep on reading to find out how to make this delicious sauce.

 

Ingredients for lemon butter sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1/3 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • capers
  • artichoke hearts, diced

Directions

  1. Melt butter over medium heat.
  2. Add flour to skillet and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly until smooth
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 2 minutes, stirring constantly until sauce begins to thicken
  5. Remove from heat, add pasta to skillet and stir to coat