Farm tours make you hungry, trust me. Since days have passed since the tour, I'm including two grilled menus here: country-style pork rib dinner with peruano beans, grilled salad & onions, and ribeye steak dinner with asparagus, mushrooms and fennel garlic bread. If you are a dedicated omnivore like us, grilling is fun - meat, fruit, veg, fish. We'll grill anything once! We also live next to the North Pines Campground here in Yosemite - we smell roasting meat every day from April to October - inspiring us to achieve our own grilling feats at home. And speaking of feats, we have the grill to prove it: a ceramic grill from Mexico with a wrought-iron stand and two grates for supreme fire control.
We cook with charcoal and wood, sometimes both at the same time. I have a yearning to be the best camp cook ever and want to master cooking over open fire. The ceramic grill is a great bowl that allows you to cook with wood fires - like the roadside stands we frequent in Mexico. We didn't acquire the grill in Mexico, we actually purchased our grill from an import store in St. George, Utah: Way Cool... Dirt Cheap (dumb name, good store). Since acquisition, we have experimented with grilling techniques with some pleasing results that I am happy to share with you.
Menu #1 BBQ Pork Country Style Ribs with Grilled Salad, Grilled Onions and Peruano Beans
1. Country Style Ribs are a boneless and inexpensive cut of pork that cooked low and slow will turn out a tasty product.
2. Grilled Salad? Yes, and if you haven't had it yet, make it a priority. Lightly charring romaine lettuce on the grill before drizzling a creamy dressing on top is divine with grilled meats.
3. Grilled Onions - a staple in Mexico at every taco stand. Cebolla de Cambray in Spanish - not as large as the average white onion, but significantly more bulbous than scallions. Grilling carmelizes the watery outer skin and mellows the taste until the interior is almost creamy. Charred on the outside, just pop the whole thing into your mouth (tops are optional).
4. Peruano Beans? Beans from Peru, but don't sweat it - use the beans you prefer to create a BBQ bean accompaniment.
Michelle's BBQ Sauce
- canola oil or butter
- white onion
- apple cider vinegar
- Heinz Ketchup
- brown sugar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Cayenne pepper or hot sauce
- salt & pepper
No measurements because this sauce is to taste - more vinegar makes a southern sauce, more ketchup & sugar makes it sweet, etc. However, the Ketchup to vinegar ration is at least 3:1. Roughly chop white onion and saute in butter or canola oil, until soft. Once onion is softened, add vinegar and bring to a boil (start with less - half cup). Once boiling, turn the heat to simmer and add Ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and salt & pepper. Add a pinch of Cayenne or hot sauce and combine ingredients to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, adjust quantities to taste and simmer for an hour.
Grilled Pork Country Style Ribs
The key to grilling with BBQ sauce is to baste with a mixture of sauce and water - cut the sauce with 50% water. I just learned this technique and it works. The other key is creating a 'cool zone' on the grill and this can be done with charcoal or gas - just leave one side of the grill without charcoal or turn off a burner. You cook here with indirect heat by using a cover. We utilize a disposable foil pan as a cover - light and inexpensive so you don't get perturbed by the charring. Cooking over the cool side and capturing the heat with a cover prevents that burned-on-the-outside-raw-on-the-inside phenomenon so common to grilling mediocrity. Wait until the fire has burned low, charcoal has turned ashy gray, or use the 'low' setting with gas and set the pork on the cool side and cover - if your grill has a cover, use it. After a while, baste repeatedly with the thinned BBQ sauce and grill until done.
Slice romaine lettuce heads in half lengthwise and drizzle with olive oil. Flavored oils will do good things. Set lettuce on grate over low heat and grill until slightly charred on the edges, both sides. Drizzle with a creamy blue cheese or buttermilk dressing and serve immediately.
If you can't find knob onions, I'm sorry, but quartering regular onions will do. No prep, just place them on the grate over low heat, but centered over the flame. They need to char on the outside to become melting goodness on the inside. Give them plenty of time to grill.
Ted cooked tasty beans for a previous dinner using the Mexican Beans recipe from Rick Bayless. Leftover beans make great BBQ beans. The next day I reheated the beans in a pot with BBQ sauce and some Red Chile Ketchup from the Bit & Spur restaurant in Springdale, UT. You can just add hot sauce.
Menu #2 Grilled Ribeye Steak with Grilled Asparagus, Mushrooms and Grilled Fennel Garlic Bread
1. Grilled Ribeye steak is just as tasty as a more expensive cut of meat. Take care of it and serve it medium rare.
2. Do not toss asparagus with olive oil before grilling - it may become bitter. Just grill as is and dress afterwards if you must. Asparagus really likes a vinaigrette made with orange juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil.
3. Mushrooms and steak are a must. I sauteed mushrooms in a pan on the stove - could be done just easily with a cast iron pan on the grill.
4. Turn crusty French bread into a grown-up garlic bread variation by adding crushed fennel seed. Fennel has a slightly licorice taste that does the tango with any garlic flavor. Grill whole fennel bulbs for another treat. Fennel is my new favorite vegetable.
Grilled Ribeye Steak
I seasoned with salt & pepper and then massaged a little black truffle oil onto both sides to echo the flavor of mushrooms. Cook over the cool zone and cover until medium rare. Then take it off the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes - resting makes all the difference.
Just toss them onto the grill - perpendicular to the grates - and grill until your preferred amount of char.
Saute mushrooms in a pan over medium heat with olive oil and garlic until browned. After browning, add Worcestershire sauce and lemon juice. Keep adding sauce and juice, if desired, to taste and cook mushrooms over lower heat for 10 minutes. Keep warm until served.
Grilled Fennel Garlic Bread
Combine softened butter with crushed fennel seed, and then spread on bread slices. Combine minced garlic and mayonnaise and spread over top with more sprinkled fennel as the final touch. Grill over the cool zone and cover. Watch for browning - don't blacken the bottom before the top has had a chance to brown.
The Ana Lucia cocktail is a perfect accompaniment for your grilling sessions - nothing like an evening cocktail and an open fire. Stand well back if you've had a few.
Junket Ratings? Junk-in-the-Trunk! of course.