Aug 29 2006

Fresh or Frozen? Sea Bass with Dijon Mustard-Champagne Sauce

Last night, TLW and I conducted a taste test for an upcoming party of 200. Should we use fresh or frozen Chilean Sea Bass? The client is paying top dollar and should have nothing but the best…but come on…saving $4 per pound is a big deal to TG when we are talking large quantities.


So, each piece of the sea bass was rubbed with Emeril’s Essence and gently grilled in a fish basket over direct heat. I pulled them off when upon reaching an internal temperature of 130*. It was obvious to TLW immediately which piece was the fresh one. It puffed up and became much more flaky. The texture was better as well. However, both had a very good flavor. Conclusion: we will use the fresh for the party, but if one were to completely cover the fish with a topping/sauce then the frozen would be fine.


TLW found a recipe on Cooks.com for a sauce that went well with sea bass. She whipped it up with a few changes and it definitely is a winner!!

Dijon Mustard-Champagne Sauce

3 T chopped shallots

1 C champagne

2 T Dijon mustard

3 T butter

1 T flour

1 C heavy cream

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste.


Saute the shallots in a skillet with 1 T butter. Stir until soft. Add the champagne and simmer for 2 minutes. Set aside. Melt 1 T butter and add the flour. Let cook for a few seconds. Add the shallot/champagne mixture and whisk together. Add the cream and mustard. Reduce until achieving the correct consistency. Adjust the seasoning and add the lemon juice. Serve immediately.


Aug 27 2006

Slight deviation

TG has always sprayed meat with 1 part apple cider vinegar, 2 parts apple juice, and enough Lea & Perrins to turn the mixture dark. One of our fellow competitors on the BBQ circuit uses a mixture of 2 parts apple juice, 1 part Jack Daniels and 1 part maple syrup. I will be trying this on my beef, pork butt and chicken next week…stay tuned!

And check out this week’s Carnival of the Recipes at The Common Room…good stuff!


Aug 27 2006

Bingo!

Since we have been here in Savannah, we have been for the most part cut off from buying CAB (Certified Angus Beef) brisket. Wow! It does make a difference. Out of desperation, I asked Donald, the butcher, at the local Piggly Wiggly supermarket if he could get some. He called back a week later to let me know my CAB brisket had arrived and were they ever nice!


TG prepped the brisket by removing any excess fat, but still leaving plenty of fat on for flavor. I seasoned it with Happy Holla’ seasoning and some garlic black pepper. The pit was loaded about 10:30 pm and I had set it to cook low and slow all night. The next morning when I checked the temperature, the probe slid right through the meat with no resistance. I knew right then that we had some superb brisket! Most people would say, “Right on!” The brisket was cut across the grain in 1/4″ slices and each piece was brushed with bbq sauce mixed with some honey.


Too bad we weren’t competing…these briskets would have easily scored in the top ten!


Sometimes the simple things in life are by far the best. Using the fabulous brisket, we made sandwiches. I had read somewhere that one of our fellow bbq’ers at his restaurant always topped his brisket sandwiches with french fried onion rings and some bbq sauce. What a hit!


When we were closing up for the day, a fisherman who had had a little too much to drink, came up to me and started talking about his sandwich…saying it was the best sandwich he had ever had. I hope he remembers the brisket as much as he remembers the onion ring! TLW says he will probably spend the rest of his life craving that sandwich!


I wish I had my ‘camera person’ with me!!


Aug 27 2006

The Beaufort Inn

The Little Woman and I decided a long time ago that if you cook a lot at home, and you care about what you eat, it makes it a lot harder to go out to restaurants. The conclusion we came to was to try to eat more ethnic food… that we didn’t know much about. However, on occasion, we get pleasantly surprised. Such is the case this past Wednesday when we ate at the Beaufort Inn, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Our friends, Charles and Kathleen, took their 45′ yacht ‘Bert’s Boy’ from the Isle of Hope Marina in Savannah to Beaufort, SC on their way to Charleston, SC. We arranged to meet them in Beaufort for dinner. The Beaufort Inn was recommended by an acquaintance of ours we often see at the 1790 House here in Savannah…and it is within walking distance of the downtown Beaufort Marina. It was worth the hour’s drive!


The service was spectacular! We had a wonderful waitress named October (or was it September?…a month anyway) who was ever-present, but not fawning. TG had stuffed oysters…good but not worthy of repeating. On the other hand, TLW had shrimp and grits…(I think it was an effort to see if they lived up to hers!)…they were equally as good and I ended up sharing them with her. The chef promised to email us the recipe…let’s see if he lives up to that promise. Charles and Kathleen ordered bouillabaisse…and they both raved over it. My scallops and TLW’s mussels were very good, but we might stick with just the shrimp and grits along with a salad next time we go!

If you are ever in that area, make it a point to at least eat there, if not stay there!


Aug 26 2006

Strawberry Salsa for Grilled Chicken and Pork

Strawberries are so plentiful at this time of year that it is a shame to use them just for dessert!

Try this strawberry salsa with your grilled meats (or fish)…experiment….that’s an order!!

Strawberry Salsa

2 C fresh strawberries, chopped

1/2 C onion, chopped finely

1/2 C green pepper, chopped

2 T cilantro, chopped

1 T lime juice

1t sugar

1/4 t salt

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well to blend. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.Serve over grilled chicken or pork.

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Aug 20 2006

Good news for fish lovers!

Inland Seafood, a major seafood purveyor out of Atlanta, sends The General a fax every Friday morning to share what is plentiful, in-season, and out of season. This Friday I received a report that the Alaskan wild salmon (King and Coho) are now available and will be through the fall. Now, if you are used to eating farm raised salmon, this is good and bad news because once you have experienced wild salmon you will never want to return to the farm raised!

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TG went to Matthew’s Seafood Friday afternoon and purchased a fillet of Coho and a fillet of King salmon. I used the marinade that is my favorite (see recipe). The key to marinating fish is to not ‘over do’ it! Usually one hour is the maximum for marinating time.


Your fire should not be too hot. Using a piece of aluminum foil on top of the grill grate (sprayed with Pam) will allow you to pick up the foil and the fish with no sticking. However, a fish basket works best to get the ‘char look’ on the fish. Using the indirect method, throw some bay leaves on the coals for flavor while cooking.

Max internal temperature should be no more than 135* in the center of the fish. Bon apetit!


Aug 20 2006

Water Pan? Drip Pan?

The beauty about doing this blog is that it forces The General to remember the thousands of things I have forgotten! Joe, from Florida, asked when he should use water in the drip pan and when he shouldn’t. He also asked what effect the water or the spiced water has. It took some time to come up with an answer, because I haven’t used a water pan in years.


In theory, a pan filled with water should help retain moisture inside your pit or smoker. If you use something like apple juice or a combination of apple juice and apple cider vinegar, those aromas should be present inside your smoker and ultimately on your meat. This is something you need to test for yourself and see if you can detect any advantages in this simple process either with flavor or with moisture.


A drip pan without any water/apple juice in it, is just a tool to collect drippings so that those fat-laden drippings don’t ignite an unwanted fire in your indirect location.


Aug 19 2006

Hot Dog Chili and BBQ Baloney

Shawn Lea, the mastermind behind the Carnival of the Recipes, is hosting this week’s carnival at Everything and Nothing. She has deemed it “Bring a Friend” week. So, The General would like to introduce our friend and neighbor “Wild Bill” who loves to cook as much as TG and is a willing taster/critic for ‘anything and everything’ TG tosses his way. Not only does Wild Bill share a fondness for food, but he enjoys the vino as much as the missus and I….along with his lovely wife ME!! When we moved to Savannah, we hit the neighbor “Wheel of Fortune” when we were introduced to this fine couple….refreshing since we had a couple of ‘questionable’ and downright weird neighbors in Atlanta!


The General would like to submit WB’s

Carolina Hot Dog Chili recipe:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef, extra lean

1 3/4 C water

1 C onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 oz tomato paste

1/2 C ketchup

1/4 t chili powder

2 t Worcestershire sauce

1 t cider vinegar

1 1/2 t salt

1/4 t black pepper

1 T hot sauce (Bill used Crystal brand Louisiana hot sauce)


Place the beef and water in a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Add the onion. When the water boils again, reduce heat to medium and stir to begin breaking up the meat.


Add the remaining ingredients and stir well until the tomato paste had completely dissolved and the meat is broken up.


Continue to stir the chili at a slow boil, stirring about every 5 minutes or so, until the mixture is thick, about 15 minutes. As the mixture thickens, you may need to reduce the heat to low to prevent sticking.


This recipe rivals the chili served at the legendary
Varsity in downtown Atlanta….”what’ll ya have…what’ll ya have!”

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How about a baloney sandwich to share with your friends?? No, not just a regular baloney sandwich (though those can be pretty tasty)…you know TG, I have to put a spin on things and if you have never tasted a Barbecue Baloney sandwich you are in for a treat!


Start with about three pounds of un-sliced baloney. Set up your kettle for indirect heat. Remove the paper encasement from the baloney and place it on the indirect side. Sprinkle 2 cups of water soaked and drained hickory or pecan chips on the coals. Put the lid on the smoker and let the baloney smoke for a couple of hours. (Too much heat will burst your baloney…so be careful!) Since baloney is a finely ground pre-cooked sausage, you are only after flavor…not doneness. Remove when the baloney reaches an internal temperature of 160*.



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Great Baloney Sandwich

1 thick slice of bbq baloney (about 1/4″)

1 slice fresh sweet onion

1 T your favorite BBQ sauce

1 T bbq baked beans

1 T coleslaw

1 Kaiser roll


Assemble and consume with a frosty longneck! Mmmmmmmm…good!


Aug 16 2006

World Market

TLW and I had some errands to do out by ‘The Mall’ today. It’s funny, here in Savannah there are virtually no traffic jams on our side of town, but when we head on over to “The Southside,” traffic is a lot denser….however nothing like the NIGHTMARE of Atlanta traffic which we experienced up close and personal last week. (On reflection, I think the lack of traffic problems in SAV has intensified our frustration for the Atlanta freak show.) Anyway, we usually have to psyche ourselves up to go to the southside since it is just like a mall area in anywhere USA. I like to remind The Little Woman that we have one of any kind of store whereas Atlanta has dozens of them…we truly don’t miss much.

One place we do miss is Tower Package Store on Piedmont Ave. It has a wonderful wine collection and some very knowledgeable sales people. Near our house we do not have a wonderful selection, even though there are some good selections at Johnnie Ganem’s and Habersham Liquor Store. We have found that World Market on Abercorn has a pretty decent assortment of wines at some very reasonable prices.

Opened a couple of bottles for our ‘happy hour’ tonight…I am enjoying from the Cline Cellars from Northern California their Ancient Vines Zinfandel…I don’t know all those fancy terms for describing wines…I just know what I like (like my cigars) and I like this one a lot!

TLW is enjoying an old standby
Smoking Loon Cabernet

All of the wines we purchased today make great pairings with smoked or grilled foods.

Ravenswood VB Zinfandel

Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel

McManis Cabernet

Red Truck Red Table Wine

All except the Ancient Vine Cline sold from 7.99 to 11.99 a bottle…good prices and great wines. Enjoy!


Aug 16 2006

Thermometers

Received an email from our blog buddy Joe regarding thermometers. His 22″ Weber did not come with one. So if you don’t have a thermometer, go to your local grilling store or go to this link and order one from Tel-Tru!

Drill a small hole with a power drill and insert the rod through the cover and put the coupling on to hold it in place…and you are in business just like The General!!

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There ya go, Joe!