Saturday, April 28, 2012

You lose some, you lose some, you gain plenty.

So you've seen the setting of Serenbe in my last post, where I joined a group of food bloggers and Char-Broil execs to talk about the science of infrared grills, and to have fun cooking on them. After our more formal meeting, they teamed us up for a "Chopped-esc" grilling competition. Did my teammate Kurt and I win? No. Did I win two years ago at the Char-Broil Barbecue Smackdown at Memphis in May? No.

And I'm OK with that. Cooking under pressure with unknown ingredients is not my strength. That's Eric. He's like a piece of coal. The more pressure you put on him, the more tasty barbecue diamonds he churns out. Figuring out how much to cook for 50 or 2000 people, how to make the event a success, and how much it's all going to cost, this is where I shine. Still, everyone likes to win, right?

I consoled myself that the judges at least loved our Grilled Fennel Salad with Bacon & Bleu Cheese. It was really good. But afterward, when I went to have a taste of our grilled chicken roll, and saw that it was a little on the rare side, I wondered if they weren't just being nice.

I intend to repeat the same salad at home, under pressure-free conditions, and let my biggest critics, my family, give it a shot. They'll shoot straight with me. They won't sugar coat it one little bit. Sometimes I wish they might give me just a little sugar, but alas that is simply not how we roll at the Reinhardt residence.

Still, it wasn't about winning, it was about building relationships. Hangin' with fellow BBQ peeps was a blast. It was especially great to see my gal Danielle of Diva Q. We've been friends for years, virtually. I interviewed her in the book, and we tweet/facebook/e-mail, but this was our very first face to face meeting.

My other "roomie" was Catherine Mayhew, of The South In My Mouth. She simply rocks.

The boys were awesome too - Christo, David, Curt and Scott, as were our friends at Char-Broil.

So even though I lost...again, I came out ahead.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Place Called Serenbe

I've spent the past two days grilling and talking with the folks from Char-Broil  about their infrared grills, and of course playing on them and making copious amounts of food. The group of cooks, writers, and grillin' fools I met felt like old friends after our first meal together.

Where we are, though, is a setting like no other. Pretty much anywhere you look is something you'd see in a magazine. It was hard not to take a picture of every wildflower or sign. I'll get to the cooking and the awesome people I met next, but it's important to give readers a sense of place at the beginning of a story. I'll let the photos do the talking....

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Perfect Pork Chops

Pork chops growing up were always served with some sort of sauce. Apple sauce, gravy, anything to add some moisture into the dried hockey pucks on the plate.

But times have changed. You should be able to eat your chop without any dressing...if cooked properly. Here are a few tips for grilling a simple chop that can stand alone:

1) Rub a little olive oil into the chop and lightly season with sea salt and fresh pepper.

2) Preheat the grill fully. For gas, turn burners on high and close the lid for about 15 minutes. For a little smoke flavor, through some wood chips on the grill grates. When you return, turn one burner down to medium high, and turn one burner off for an indirect cooking space. You'll only need this if your chops are thick. These chops were cooked on the used the Char-Broil Quantum Infrared Grill.

3) Grill chops, depending on thickness, 5-7 minutes per side.

4) Pull chops off with some pink inside, about 130-140 degrees by the thermometer. The temperature will rise to the fairly new USDA recommendation of 145 degrees while they rest. The old recommendation was 160, which meant dry shoe leather.

5) Really do let them rest 5 minutes before cutting into them. Let those juices roll back into the meat, not on your plate, before you eat.

6. Serve without sauce and be proud of your perfect pork chops!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Grilling Tips

It's time to move to your outdoor kitchen and grill 'til fall, y'all! I wrote a post for Char-Broil about my Favorite Five Outta Eleven Grilling Tips for the season! Yes, grilling and barbecue season is year-round, but when you live in Seattle, there is nothing like a spring day after a long winter of rain. Here is a teaser:

My Favorite Five Outta Eleven Grilling Tips

#1 GET YER STUFF TOGETHER! Have everything ready at your fingertips. Realizing at the moment your food is done that you don’t have a clean plate can ruin a meal. Being prepared will set you up for success.

Read the whole post here and enjoy the season!