Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

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Shrimp Tacos on the Blackstone

Yeah, we missed National Taco Day…so what? Who came up with all of these food days anyways? Was there a committee of stuffy old men smelling of Old Spice and Icy Hot sitting around a large boardroom table? Or was it a bunch of young hipsters sipping on grande mocha soy frappe carmel latte espresso agave sugar coffee drinks while vaping their brains out and blowing huge clouds? Who cares? I’ll eat what I want, when I want and last night I wanted some shrimp tacos!! And more importantly I wanted to cook on my new Blackstone griddle, dammit!!

I usually prefer my shrimp tacos (and fish tacos) fried, but that’s not exactly healthy nor would it allow me to use my griddle. A quick search with my Google-fu skills found me this recipe over at Pinch of Yum and it sounded like it would fit the bill. This is our version cooked on the griddle  with a few modifications.

Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Cilantro Lime Slaw

For the Garlic Cilantro Lime Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of oil
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • juice of two limes
  • 1/2 cup (or more) of light sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 to 1.5 lbs of shrimp, peeled with tail removed (we used 1.25 lbs of 21-25 count)
  • 1 tsp each of chili powder, cumin and chicken fajita seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1/2 green cabbage, shredded
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • Queso Fresco, Cotija or Feta cheese
  • lime wedges for serving
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Warm up the tortillas until you begin to smell corn and they have become pliable. Only takes a minute or so.

To make the sauce, toss all the ingredients in a food processer and pulse until smooth. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss some of the sauce (not all of it!!) with the cabbage. It should resemble a coleslaw. This can be done right before hand, but we did ours about 2 hours ahead of time and placed in the fridge. The rest of the sauce can be used on your tacos.

Heat your griddle medium to medium high heat. Warm up the tortillas for a minute or so until you notice a corn smell and they have become pliable. Wrap in foil to keep warm. Even better would be one of those tortilla holders they have at Mexican restaurants. We, however, don’t have one of those so why the hell am I even bringing it up? I digress…

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Toss the shrimp on the griddle

When the tortillas are done, squirt some oil on the griddle and add a tbsp of butter. Then throw on the shrimp and cook 4-5 minutes or until done.

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Done!!

To serve the tacos, spread a spoonful of the sauce on a tortilla, top with a few shrimp, coleslaw, cheese and avocado and maybe some more sauce and squeeze a slice of lime on top.

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Who needs a National Taco Day to enjoy these shrimp tacos? Eat them whenever the hell you feel like it.

I gotta say, the more I use this griddle, the more I am liking it. It’s just so fun. And it heats up quick. A whole lot quicker than the Egg. Sure, we could have grilled these shrimp and they would have been just as good, but that would have taken longer. From the time I stepped outside and fired up the griddle, to the time I shut it off and went inside was less than 10 minutes!! That’s a fast cook!!

The tacos were fantastic. I tried one of the shrimp by itself, and I hafta say it had some heat. But when you add the slaw and the cheese and the sauce, it balances that heat perfectly. These are definitely going into the rotation, especially on nights when a fast cook is needed to get the food on the table.

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A new toy

 

We added a new toy to our arsenal this past week…a Blackstone 17″ griddle. I wanted to get the 36″ cuz bigger is always better, but I reigned myself in as our back porch really doesn’t have the room and I knew if I stored it in the garage, it just wouldn’t get used. The 17″ will easily stow away in one of the cabinets that we are building into our outdoor cooking area when not in use. And 17″ will probably work out just fine for the three of us.

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Seasoning up the Blackstone 17″ griddle

I started off by thoroughly washing the griddle in hot soapy water, then heated it to medium to medium warm and applied grapeseed oil and wiped it around with a paper towel. I hear flaxseed oil is the best to season steel and cast iron, but my grocery store doesn’t carry it and grapeseed oil has a high smoking point so I figured it was probably good to go. I repeated that for around 30 minutes until it had started to get a nice color.

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Cooking some onions

After that, I threw on one chopped onion and started sautéing that. From what I’ve read, this step will take away the metallic taste and help further season the griddle. Throw away the onions when you are done and after the have cooled off.

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BACON!!!

The next step was bacon because it’s bacon and you really don’t need a reason to cook bacon and because we were making bacon cheeseburgers.

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Smashing the patties

Our first “official” cook was smashburgers. Not going to go into detail because it was our first try, and while they were great, I feel like we could do better and that we could should perfect the technique before sharing it.

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Cheese please

I also got the Cuisinart melting dome so that we could melt cheese. The description on Amazon said it had a 9″ diameter, so I only got one thinking that 9+9=18 which is greater than 17″, but either my math is wrong or the dimensions of either the griddle or the dome are wrong because I can easily fit 2 on there. I’ll have to pick up another one regardless.

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Yum!!

Mrs. G said that it was one of the best burgers she’s had in a long time. Now, she has always been a fan of a griddled burger and I can understand. All that contact with a hot surface produced a nice crust on the burger that is just so tasty. Don’t get me wrong…I still love a grilled burger, but a griddled burger is damn tasty too.

I can’t wait to do burgers again and to see what else we can whip up on this new toy…

 

FYI I picked this up at my local Ace Hardware for $79.99. You can order it online and have it delivered to your closest location and it should arrive in something like 5-8 business days. I can’t remember. Or for a bit more, you can have it shipped to your house. It’s also available on Amazon for over $100 with free shipping with Prime right now.

And as always, I have no connection or affiliation with either Blackstone, Cuisinart or Ace Hardware. I purchased these products with my own hard earned money and are not receiving any kind of compensation for this post.

Bratwurst Burgers

This past weekend, I was cleaning out the freezer and found some home made bratwurst (using this recipe) hiding in the back. This package of brats was in bulk form (ie wasn’t stuffed into casings) and I thought it would be perfect to make some burgers.  Now, if you don’t happen to have fresh, home made bratwurst in your freezer (I do feel sorry for you), then you can always grab some links from your grocery store, slice open the casings and form them into your own burgers. I happened to have a pound of bratwurst which was perfect to make 3 patties as I like my burgers around 1/3 lb each. Feel free to make your patties to whatever size makes you happy.

Bratwurst patties on the grill
Bratwurst patties on the grill

I set up my Egg for a direct cook around 500F. The bratwurst burgers were grilled for about 2 minutes, then turned 90 degrees, grilled another 2 minutes, then flipped and repeated on the other side. Grill until the temp reaches 160F (carryover will take it to 165F). Even though the FDA says pork is safe at 145F, with ground pork (ie sausage), I like to play it on the safe side, especially if I didn’t grind it myself and it’s store bought.

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns
Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

I know pretzel buns are probably “so last year”, but while at the store getting some other things, I spotted them at my bakery for the first time. I’m not always the first to jump on every food bandwagon. Often times, I just watch it pass by and shake my head. Some of them make no sense to me, but pretzel buns with bratwurst burgers? Seemed like they were made for each other. Made me take a short trip down memory lane. Sitting at a biergarten in Germany. Drinking beer and snacking on pretzels and sausages.  Good times. Sorry. My minds started to wander there for a bit.

So how to top these bratwurst burgers? I decided to keep it simple. Some spicy, brown mustard and a bit of sauerkraut. And why not some more pretzels on the side and a cold beer to wash it down (not pictured)?

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Taking a food that is normally eaten as a link and serving it in a burger form was different, to say the least. I mean I knew on a mental level what to expect it to taste like, but picking it up, it was like some kind of mental muscle memory kicked in and I almost expected it to taste like a burger. Like the eyes and sense of taste and mind just weren’t meshing up. It’s hard to explain. I think I had the same experience when we made King Ranch Mac and Cheese. I expected that to taste like Mac and Cheese, but then got all the flavors of King Ranch Chicken. Weird what the brain can do to you sometimes. Regardless, it was a pretty tasty burger/bratwurst burger. The only thing I think it was missing was some kind of cheese. What kind of cheese would you serve on a bratwurst burger?

NMT Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

Our take on Nibble Me This Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade
Our take on Nibble Me This Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

     In case you didn’t know, we’re big fans of Chris over at NibbleMeThis (which from here on out will be referred to as NMT). When he posted his recipe for his favorite chicken marinade, back in April, I printed it out knowing I wanted to try it. We messaged back and forth over Facebook this past Saturday and he has graciously allowed me to share it with you. That being said, you still should go check out his website. Right now. Go. I’ll still be here when you get back.

Pouring the marinade into a Ziplock bag full of chicken legs.
Pouring the marinade into a Ziplock bag full of chicken legs

From NMT’s post:

NMT Grilled Chicken Marinade

makes:  enough for 3-4 pounds of chicken pieces

prep time:  10 minutes

cook time:  none for the marinade

Ingredients

3/4 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup greek yogurt

2 tablespoons lime juice

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dry minced onion

1/2 teaspoon dry minced garlic

Instructions

Mix ingredients together and pour over chicken pieces in a large zip top bag.  Seal, refrigerate, and marinate 4-8 hours.  Remove from marinade and drain off excess marinade before grilling.    Omit salt from the marinade if using a BBQ rub in addition to the marinade.  Tip for crispier chicken skin:  Remove chicken from marinades and allow to air dry on a raised rack in the refrigerator for 1 hour prior to grilling.

Legs on the Egg indirect at 400F
Legs on the Egg indirect at 400F

 We try and stick to recipes as close to possible the first time we try them out. However, we didn’t have minced onion, se we subbed in 1/4 tsp of onion powder instead. We let the chicken marinate for about 6 hours while we ran to the Farmer’s Market and did some other errands. When we got home, I set up the Egg for an indirect cook using  the Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store and added a few orange and apple chips for smoke. I kept it light on the smoke as I wanted the flavor of the marinade to shine through rather than the smoke. I didn’t really time the cook, but I’d guesstimate that it took somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour. Once the chicken hit about 160F, I pulled the rig and grilled the legs directly for about a minute of two to develop a darker color and get a little crispier skin.

Chicken is done
Chicken is done

The chicken was allowed to rest for a few minutes while the lovely Mrs. G put the final touches on some potatoes and tomatoes that we had picked up earlier in the day from the Farmer’s Market.

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

     We’ve been cooking a lot of our chicken lately using the indirect method. I feel like when you are cooking chicken using a raised direct method over charcoal, it turns out really smokey regardless if you add wood chips or chunks. The fat dripping onto the coals produces a ton of smoke. You might like that kind of flavor, but I find it hides all the other flavors you have worked so hard to develop. Going indirect allows you to avoid that nasty smoke but ends up making the chicken take longer to cook. I think as a result we might have lost some of the flavor from the marinade. While the chicken was moist and the buttermilk, yogurt and lemon helped to tenderize the chicken, we didn’t get the “unique tang” that NMT was talking about. Don’t get me wrong, it was tasty, I was just looking for that “tang”. The other thing I wish I would have done differently was to allow the chicken to air dry in the fridge for an hour to get crispy skin. While the last few minutes cooking directly did help get the skin crispier, air drying it would have done a much better job. Not that we had an hour for that last step as we got home late from running errands and we were starving. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Regardless, if you are looking for a different marinade for your chicken, give this one a shot and don’t forget to head on over to NMT and check out some of his amazing recipes and if you like what you see there, keep an eye out for his upcoming book The Kamada Smoker and Grill Cookbook. I’ve already got mine pre-ordered.

Elevate Your Burger This Summer

Umami Burgers

Summer time is all about grilling burgers and dogs.
Summer time is all about grilling burgers and dogs.

     We are deep into spring and summer time is almost upon us.For some, that means pulling out the grill, dusting it off and maybe doing a few repairs to it in order to get ready for the summer. And then there are others, like us, who grill all year round.  Regardless of which camp you fall into, we all need a good burger recipe that we can fall back on to “WOW” our family and friends.  On that note, I present to you…Fish Sauce!!

This is the brand of fish sauce we use
This is the brand of fish sauce we use

     Fish sauce? In a burger? What has this guy been smoking? Yeah, I don’t blame you for thinking those things, but hear me out. For years, I’ve been hearing on the Egghead Forum and on GreenEggers about people using fish sauce in their burgers and absolutely raving about it. Fish sauce brings that umami flavor to your burger. Not sure what umami is? It’s one of the five basic tastes…sweet, sour, bitter, salty and you guessed it umami. Translated, it means “pleasant, savory taste” and what it does to a burger? Trust me…you are going to want to try it and find out for yourself, but I will say that it elevates your burger to that next level and will make your friends think you are some kind of burger genius while at the same time wondering what you did to get your burgers to taste so good. I’ll let you decide if you feel like telling them. One word of caution, do NOT smell the stuff as you are adding it to your burger. It does NOT smell like flowers, but don’t worry. You won’t smell it in your burgers when they are done.

Burgers on the grill
Burgers on the grill

Ingredients

  • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • optional – dash of Stubbs Beef Spice Rub or your favorite beef/bbq rub

 

Munster cheese added along with the buns
Munster cheese added along with the buns

Directions

  1. Mix together all ingredients together handling the meat as little as possible. Place meat in fridge to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat your grill to 350-400F
  3. Grill burgers 3-4 minutes per side or until desired temperature is reached
  4. Build burgers using whatever condiments your heart desires
Burgers served up with corn on the cob and chips on our "best China"
Burgers served up with corn on the cob and chips on our “best China”

     So why did I wait so long to try fish sauce in our burgers if I had heard so many people raving about it? Honestly, it was because I couldn’t find it at my local grocery store. It wasn’t until a few months back when we went to an Asian market for some items for a stir fry that we found it. My wife got it for a recipe she was going to make, but I knew it would make it into some burgers in the very near future. I don’t think I will make burgers without it from now on.

     A few words of caution when using fish sauce. The stuff does smell. I mean it SMELLS. Trust me. You might not want to breathe it in. Fish sauce is also lo-ho-hoaded with sodium. Ours had 1800 mg per Tbsp!! Using 2 tsp per pound of meat and making four patties is going to add an extra 300 mg per burger. But it’s worth it. Trust me. Try it once, you won’t be disappointed.