Friday, August 27, 2010

Recipe: Smoked Stuffed Trout with Farro & Greens

The very first night, within an hour of unloading my new Big Green Egg, I fired it up. Eric had bought some wonderful looking Rainbow Trout, and we decided to smoke-roast it on the Egg as a christening.

I'm also on a latent farro kick. Latent because back when every food blogger was bowing to the hip "new" Italian grain, I was digging in my heels, saying, "Why should I spend $8.50 on a little bag of stinkin' grain?"

I still kind of think that, but I do see what all the hub bub is about. The kernels are so...meaty. And they take on flavors so delicately. E' bellissimo, the farro. Farro, by the way, is a generic word for wheat in Italy, and they note it as farro small, medium, or large. The stuff that we get in the expensive little bag at the fancy grocery store, is a very large variety. It may actually be some variety of spelt.

Eight plus bucks for a small bag, though. Come on! This is something I'll only cook with something special, like the trout I'm about to show ya, if I'd stop yapping already.

This recipe is easy. With a Big Green Egg, you can do it blindfolded. At least after the charcoal is lit. This works perfectly well on a gas grill too, cooked indirectly.

Smoked Stuff Trout with Farro and Greens
© Julie Reinhardt

2 Rainbow trout, book cut (see below)
2 cups cooked farro
1 cup Swiss Chard, chopped fine
3 tablespoons chopped tarragon (or herb of your choice)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons melted butter
salt and pepper

1. Cook farro in salted water, set aside.

2. Book cut trout, meaning cut down one side of the bones as if filleting the fish, only don't cut all the way through. This way the fish opens flat like so:

3. Mix remaining ingredients together and stuff fish.

4. Smoke-roast at 250-300 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. (I used plum wood because we have plum trees and other fruit trees that give us year-round free smoking wood. Use what you have on hand. Alder is nice for fish.)

What I loved about this dish, aside from the lovely smokiness of it, was that it made a whole meal! The grain, greens and fish are all in one. I made a simple heirloom tomato salad with nothing but salt on it to balance out the flavors.

I must add one note that the pictures on this post, and for the next week or so, will be sub-par. I've lost my camera. Lost it! I can only hope it's buried under something in my office and will re-surface soon, which tells you a little about the state of affairs in my office. I'm left with my phone camera, which is fine for a quick shot of the kids, because they are cute no matter what, but doesn't quite capture food well enough.

I really don't want to buy another camera. Correction, I do want to buy another camera, but can't really afford the one I want. But I digress...

Happy cooking everyone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Baby Eggatha

I've wanted a Big Green Egg since before I had babies, and now she's finally here. Everyone, meet Eggatha. Isn't she pretty?

A huge thank you to the folks at Associated Energy Systems for making this happen. I've done a few Egg events this year, from giving one away on CBS Better Mornings Atlanta, to making MOINK balls at the Pacific NW Eggfest, to a demo with AES, and I hope to do more, especially now that I'm a card grill carrying Egghead.

In my book I call the Egg an "insulated barbecue womb", because it holds temperature so evenly. I also love its versatility. Most grill/smokers do one or the other better, but the Egg truly is both. You can make pizzas fast and furious one night, and slow cook a pork shoulder the next day.

I'll post my first recipe on the Egg next. We christened it with smoked stuffed trout. It was eggcellent. OK. I promise to get these egg puns out of my system. Really.

Friday, August 20, 2010

It's that time of year again

This is the time of year that I do two things: I make crazy lists and spreadsheets about moving off the grid and disappearing into my solar-powered bunker, and I rebel. I rebel from all the extra noise, be it on-line, like twitter or face book, the noise of the nightly news, and the noise of those little obligations that wear on you, but you really should do.

Like pay bills, and make a copy of your new insurance card for the doctor, or file things.

I rebel because while everyone has been enjoying their summer days and vacations, we have been catering in the heat, in parks, on roof tops. Every. Single. Day. Or if by chance we get a day or two break, the phone seems to ring off the hook.

I'm not complaining. In barbecueville, you take as much as you can muster in the summer months, because the winter is loooong. No matter how loyal your customers may be, people just don't eat as much barbecue in the rain as they do in the sun.

But by mid to late August, I start to lose it, just a little.

I read novels at night until 2am.

I search craigslist and the web for things I don't need.

I write poetry.

And, as you can see, I rebel from my blog. I have about 15 posts stacking up. None finished, but all pretty close. A picture here, a proofread there. I have all sorts of things to tell you about... from pictures of a friend's book launch party, to pork sliders, a smoked trout stuffed with farro recipe, a Salmon Bake I attended, new food poetry Friday posts, my new Big Green Egg....

The list is long and as soon as I get my rebel yell on, or off, I'll get right back to it.

Until then, enjoy the dog days of summer. Keep cool, read good books, and if you are so inclined, pen a few lines of poetry on an envelope from your purse.

My mom-in-law is coming in less than two days. I really should deep clean the bathroom, but The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is calling me. Sigh. I think I'll just read a little bit first. Anyone buy that?

I wouldn't come over tomorrow if I were you. I have a feeling I'm going to be speed cleaning like a madwoman. The kind that might wind up in a solar-powered bunker if she doesn't get a little down time soon. Wish me luck.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mother-in-Law Kalbi

I'm lucky that I get along with my mother-in-law. Politically, we are near, we both loathe Walmart, and we generally don't vote for the red team, unless by red team you mean a bottle red wine. She's sharp as a whip, and I wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of that whip.

So when she e-mailed me, "That's NOT Kalbi!!!", about my blog post a few weeks ago, I had to let my first three reactions go, and then have a talk with my husband.

"Those are the cross cut short ribs I always buy, and what is served in all the Korean restaurants here. What does she mean I have the wrong cut?"

Turns out instead of a thin cross cut of the beef ribs, her Kalbi recipe, and probably more authentic than what I get on Highway 99, has the ribs cut across only once, in half, then scored along the top. Same basic marinade, only these are the big, meaty ribs, not the thin slices of them.

Lucky for me, we have a band saw in the walk-in refrigerator (we cut our own dog bones). So honey goes to the shop and cuts me up some beef ribs just like his momma used to buy.

These meatier bones need more time marinating and some indirect time in the smoker than the thin cut short ribs.

The Marinade
Make the same marinade as the other Kalbi ribs I did a few weeks ago, but instead of overnight, marinate meat for 1-2 full days.

Combination Cooking
Make a hot hot charcoal fire and sear ribs. Keep on turning for about 5 minutes. Set aside while you make an indirect, low fire.

I used my Weber bullet smoker and used the bottom part first as a grill, then put it back together for smoke, added wood, the water pan and lowered the temperature with the vents to about 200 degrees.

Smoke ribs for about 45 minutes to an hour to tender up. This isn't slow and low barbecue - you want the ribs to stay on the rarer side, like steak, but giving them some low heat will break down some of the tough connective tissue.

The Glaze
Make a glaze and brush on liberally for the last 20 minutes of cooking time.

Heat 1 cup chicken stock and whisk in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Add 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Boil down until it thickens. Makes enough for about 6 racks of beef short ribs (12 Kalbi pieces).

Serve with white rice and grilled zucchini or a fresh cucumber salad and dig in.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Visit today with Larry "BBQ Grail" and Barry "CB" from Char-Broil

Today I get to visit with three great folks at Smokin' Pete's, Larry "BBQ Grail" Gaian, his wife Celeste, and Barry "CB" Martin. I spent almost a week at Memphis in May with all of them, so this is a reunion. The four of us went out to dinner every night and ate both good and bad barbecue in the city.

Both Larry and Barry are well-known in the barbecue community. Larry runs a few websites, most notably The BBQ Grail, where he blogs, twitters and facebooks about all things barbecue. He is also the inventor of the MOINK ball, a delicious concoction I've made on this blog (and many other times).

Barry is the man behind the "CB" persona over at the Char-Broil forums, and he writes the blog and the Char-Broil newsletter. You'll also see him at big events, talkin' infrared with the masses.

I'll try to add pictures of our gathering tonight. We'll be eating barbecue at Pete's, of course!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Writer friend Holly Cupala's book trailer (and contest!)

A dear friend of mine just launched her first novel, Tell Me A Secret. I just finished reading it and what I loved about it most was that she really nailed the emotional climax of the book. That's not easy to do. As a writer, this is the one thing that I strive for most, and the one thing I struggle with the most.

I know as a reader when an author hits it. It means I'm no longer aware that I'm reading. Instead I'm in the story, rooting for the main character with banners and pom poms...and at some point I'm bawling my eyes out. A story doesn't have to be sad for me to tear up, it has to be honest. It has to connect to that emotional well that resides inside of us.

Holly reaches deep in that well in Tell Me A Secret, a story about a teenage girl dealing with a pregnancy, her family secrets about her sister's death, and finding her way and place in the labyrinth of it all.

For all the other great things about this book, you'll just have to read it yourself. And to help you get this hot little book in your hands, Holly is running a fabulous contest where you could win your very own copy. Or a cool necklace like the one in the picture. Or a Tell Me a Secret tee like the one modeled by miss Holly herself, plus tons of other cool swag.

All you have to do is watch this very cool book trailer and then share the love. Share it on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or some other place out there in web land. You get 5 points for each share. Tell Holly where you posted it to get entered.

Miz Cupala (rhymes with Impala) will be featured at readergirlz for the entire month of August, with a live Twitter chat coming mid month.

Later this week I'll post a recipe for the chocolate-peanut butter-bacon cupcakes I baked for Holly's book launch party. For now, go out there and enter. But first, watch this....