This summer, I tweeted that I had Big Green Egg envy, word that reached Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ and Big Green Egg’s official chef. He convinced the company to ship me their top of the line (with the cypress wood table, which is awesome if you can afford it). I really wanted to cook with one because I’d heard such great things about it. (He’s @DrBBQ on twitter, and a hearty #FF to him). After we corresponded, I’d read about these ceramic charcoal heated ovens in The New York Times, generically called kamado cookers.  I accepted his offer enthusiastically.  So: Full disclosure: they sent it to me free; I told them I’d love to use it and write about it but to know that if I didn’t like it or didn’t think it was Read On »

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I’ve written about pastrami short ribs, and love them because they’ve got the perfect meat-to-fat ratio. But ever since the arrival of a Big Green Egg (planning a review soon), I’ve wanted to do a proper pastrami, which is essentially a corned beef brisket, coated with pepper and coriander and smoked (the result above was perfect—look at that awesome fat). While I’ve published the corned beef recipe from my book Charcuterie, I haven’t really talked about smoking strategies at home. I recommend two different methods: stove top and in a kettle grill. Stove-top smoking is easy with an inexpensive ($43) Cameron smoker. I bought one a few years ago and it works great for bacon and would work great for this brisket. Briskets require long low heat though, and this is tricky on a stove Read On »

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I’ve been finding amazing garlic at our farmer’s market, the skin thin and tight around the cloves, the cloves clustering around the hard core. (Why is only soft core garlic available in grocery stores?)  Garlic that is visibly juicy when you cut into it.  Garlic whose germ is small and white.  When I find garlic like this, I like to feature it, whether in tomato water pasta (this is a fabulous technique if you’ve got tons of tomatoes), plentiful and barely cooked; in a Caesar dressing, cooked only by the lemon juice; or minced and tossed with asparagus and olive oil then grilled. We did this last night at a friend’s, a boy’s night out, overlooking the Chragrin River Valley, humid-hazy as the sun set, playing with fire.  And a dinner consisting of nothing more than Read On »

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Heart is an excellent muscle to eat: it’s lean and flavorful (meaty but not organy—it’s a hard working muscle, not squishy spleen), it’s got a good bite, and it’s inexpensive (I bought the three-pound grass-fed beef heart for six bucks last Saturday). And one more thing: it puts to use a cut that is often thrown away; it’s important that we do our best to make use of all parts of the animals we kill for our food. I use a beef heart here, but you can use a veal heart which is a little more tender and mild.  I first had beef heart a couple summers ago when Pardus visited. He stuck it on skewers, a good strategy because you invariably end up with different sized chunks after trimming.  Last year, during Pardus’s visit, Read On »

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I published this post almost two years ago, at the end of summer—but a chance email today thanking me for the technique dropped into my email box today and I thought let’s put it up again at the start of grilling season. I’m not always real quick on the uptake, but I eventually get around to the right way, and the right way for perfect (and safe) burgers is to grind your own meat and make sure to include the right amount of fat (I don’t believe that the cut is that critical). (For safe, raw ground beef, see this recent post on steak tartare.)       Yes, I still buy ground beef occasionally but when I want to make a really good burger, I always grind the meat myself. Why go to the Read On »

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