Fire Day Friday: Quick Marinated Grilled Flank Steak

Fire Day Friday sneaked up on me once again.  I had a flank steak but didn’t want to do fajitas again.  I needed something fast and delicious.  
But I had an ace up my sleeve.  Instead of digging through a pile of magazines or flipping through cookbooks, I consulted Grilling.com on my phone and found a recipe for Quick Marinated Flank Steak with Packet Potatoes.

Fast, easy, and grilled…..just what I needed!  

Quick Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
adapted from Grilling.com
1 flank steak
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (I substituted balsamic pomegranate vinegar)
1/4 cup soy sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 lb potatoes
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Score the flank steak (make 1/8th inch deep cuts in a criss cross pattern) and then put into a Glad zip top storage bag.  Add the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and parsley.  Let marinate for one hour.  That might not sound fast, but for marinating times, that is like broadband compared to dial up.
Cut your potatoes into 1/2″ pieces (skin on) and toss in the garlic, oil, parsley and some salt & pepper.  Divide onto two squares of aluminum foil.  Form each square into an “envelope” by folding in half and folding up the other three sides.
Now preheat your grill to high.  
I used 1 chimney (Weber 7416 Rapidfire Chimney Starter) full of Kingsford Competition briquettes in my charcoal grill (not my Big Green Eggs).  I like the Comp because it burns hotter for grilling & searing.  When I am cooking at lower temps (225f-350f), I use the original Kingsford.
Place the foil packets to the side (indirect) of the coal fire.  If you are doing this on a gas grill, place them where they are not directly over a burner.  
Grill the steak 4 minutes per side for medium rare (125f internal temp).  If you want nice grid marks, turn the steak 90 degrees after 2 minutes.  Go 5 minutes for medium.  

How did I get such great grill marks?  I cheated.  I used GrillGrates (Hard Anodized GrillGrate Gift Kit).  They work on gas grills and charcoal grills.  They prevent the flare ups and also give kick butt sear marks.  I’ve been using them for a few weeks and have been impressed.
 
Remove steak and let rest.  Flip the potato packets and could another 10-15 minutes while the steak rests.
Slice the steak thinly across the grain (short side, not lengthwise).  Carefully open the potato packets to avoid being burned by the escaping steam.  
This steak was delicious and disappeared!  

FTC disclosures:
1)  Kingsford Charcoal – They sent me to Kingsford University this year but Kingsford has meant “cookout” to me ever since I was a kid and my dad would be firing up the family grill.  I am proud to be affiliated with them.  I don’t get any kind of pay per post or anything like that.  Just a great product.
2)  Grill Grates – I received my set for free for testing.  If they call asking for me to return the sample, I’m not answering my phone.  Ya’ll didn’t see me.  I didn’t post this.  I was never here.   These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Fire Day Friday: Changes and Potato Salad

I’m excited to announce a few changes here on Fire Day Friday!

First and foremost, I will be joined by Jenn of Jenn’s Food Journey and we will be alternating Fridays. Not only is Jenn a talented and energetic food blogger, she rocks the grill. Too many people think the grill is a man’s domain. That is crap and people like Jenn, Robyn (Grill Grrrl), and Danielle (DivaQ) are proving that day in and day out. Plus, her boyfriend’s name is Chris (not me) so she has got good taste 🙂

Secondly, while this weekly post will still be mostly about live fire (grill, smoke, fire roast, etc) cooking, Jenn and I have decided to not limit our posts to ONLY live fire cooking or sides.

This past weekend I was craving some old fashioned, traditional BBQ. I even ignored our two Big Green Eggs and brought out my old offset smoker.


I went with the basics. Smoked chicken, BBQ beans and potato salad. While my favorite potato salad is a spicy and warm jalapeno potato salad with feta cheese and black olives (odd I know but **** it rocks), I wanted a “normal” southern potato salad for this meal.


Southern Potato Salad
Source: NibbleMeThis

Ingredients
2 lb red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
3 hard boiled eggs finely diced
1/2 cup onion finely diced
2 tablespoons sweet gherkins finely chopped
2 tablespoons sweet pickled jalapenos, finely diced
2 tablespoons green bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 tablespoon stone ground mustard (I like Inglehoffers)
1 1/2 tablespoons French’s yellow mustard
2 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 tablespoon BBQ Rub (commercial brand or your home made stuff)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Leave the skins on the potatoes but cut them into 1/2″ sized pieces. Boil the potatoes in salted water just until fork tender. Drain in a colander and then rinse them with COLD water to stop the cooking process.

Place them in a large mixing bowl and then add the eggs, onion, pickles and peppers.

In another bowl, mix together the mustards, mayo, cilantro, sugar, celery seed, and BBQ rub. For the BBQ rub I used Dead End BBQ’s Chicken Rub this time. But you could use any other brand, your own, or even some Old Bay Seasoning.

Pour the mayo-mustard mixture over the potato mixture and GENTLY toss together to mix.

Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

How To Make Your Own Smoked Cheese Without A Smoker

It’s time for Fire Day Friday when we take Our Krazy Kitchen outdoors and experiment with live fire (grilling, smoking, roasting, baking using flame).

Today we are going MacGyver! I (Chris from Nibble Me This) am going to show you how to cold smoke your own cheese by using just a cardboard box, a soldering iron, a tin can, and a few miscellaneous items. This is a fun project that you can use to involve the non-foodies in your house.

You can turn this…..

Into this….. (I think this is the first officially licensed OKK product)

But first, the Legal Department here at OKK “asked” (okay….they locked me in a dungeon and force fed me Brussels sprouts until I agreed) to post the following Safety Notice:


For this project you will need:

  • A medium sized box slightly narrower than the racks you will use
  • 1 unused soldering iron without the tip ($14)
  • 1 tin can (burn out the inside with a torch or grill if it has a bpa lining)
  • a rack or two of some sort. I used two resting racks that were slightly larger than the box. You could use the rack out of your toaster oven.
  • Several blocks of various cheeses
  • 1 cup of hardwood or fruit wood chips (you can buy these at many grocery stores and hardware stores these days by their grilling/coal section)
I was using two resting racks so I measured down three inches and 6 inches from the top on the side. I cut slits at both marks on both sides. Work one end of your rack(s) through the slit on one side and then back through the other side like this so the slits are supporting the rack. The rack should stick out a little on each side.

Drill several 1/8″ holes on one side of the can (which will become the “top” side of the can) and a hole in the base of the tin can large enough to accommodate the base of the soldering iron like this:

Add the wood chips around the soldering iron like this. TIP: Use the smallest chips in the bag, you want to maximize surface contact with the iron.

Cut your cheeses into 1″ x 1″ rectangles (however long the length is doesn’t matter) and place them on the racks with room between the pieces.

Place the smoke generator on a trivet or other heat resistant, non-conductive surface in the bottom of the smoke box.


Plug in the soldering iron and wait for the first wisps of smoke (3-5 minutes)…..

Then close the box and tape it shut. You might be tempted to try to seal all the seams of the box for an air tight fit. DON’T. You want the little air gaps and a slight airflow. If you have an airtight fit, the wood won’t be able to smolder and the cheese would sit in stale smoke for an hour. You will have smoke escaping the box like this:

This generator should give you 90 minutes of smoke time, perfect for cheeses. After the 90 minutes, remove the cheeses. They won’t look too different and they may or may not smell very smoky (Your smoke smeller will probably be overloaded at this point). Don’t bother tasting or smelling a piece at this point. IT HAS TO AGE AND MELLOW!!!!!

Vacuum seal the cheeses and refrigerate for two weeks. If you don’t have access to a vacuum seal, double wrap them in plastic wrap and then seal them in a zip top back. This is partially to help them mellow but mostly to keep your fridge from smelling like smoke!


Here are some quick tips I can think of

  1. Bacteria spoils cheese. Make sure your hands, cutting boards, and knives are all sanitized during every step of this process.
  2. Cold smoke. The inside of the container has to remain below the melting point of your cheeses (roughly 70-80f). The smoke generator will raise the temp of your box by 10-15 degrees (the smaller the box, the greater the temp increase). So do this in the shade on a day when the air temps are 45f or less. Don’t you just love the high tech digital control panel of the OKK Smokerator 3000?
  3. Packaging – If packing the cheese for gift packs, pick cheeses that alternate in color and can be cut into roughly the same size pieces.
  4. Experiment with a variety of cheeses – my favorites have been gouda, cheddars, pepper jack, and monterey jack. It occurs to me that I’ve never smoked a blue cheese….and can’t imagine doing so but whatever floats your boat.
  5. Experiment with a variety of woods – my favorites have been hickory, cherry, and a mix of the two.
  6. Soft cheeses take on smoke more readily, hard cheeses take longer.
  7. Use as natural of a cheese that you can. Cheeses with a lot of flavorings and preservatives don’t seem to fare as well.
  8. Use the best quality cheese that you can.
  9. Smoked cheeses are great simply with crackers. But when used as an ingredient with sauces, sandwiches, soups and casseroles, it adds a nice subtle layer of flavor.
  10. Once you have smoked your own cheese, you probably won’t enjoy “smoked” cheese bought at a store because a lot of them just use “smoke flavorings”.
  11. Once you have tried smoking cheese, try smoking nuts, salts, and peppers.
On that note, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. May your stockings be full of high quality, natural hardwood lump charcoal…..

Fire Day Friday: Two Sides To Every Story

It has been a wintry week here in Knoxville.


After snow and highs below freezing for several days, last night we got hit with an ice storm too. The canopy over my outdoor kitchen was frozen solid and had icicles like this all the way around it.

So naturally, I was cooking inside, right? Kind of.

I still cooked my main course outside (Wood Fire Roasted Chicken Wings) after clearing an ice free path to our grills, but I wimped out and cooked my two side dishes inside.

Easy Saffron Rice

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp saffron threads (don’t sweat it if you don’t have them)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 ea small clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp fish sauce
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup frozen green peas

Bring all ingredients except rice to a boil over medium high heat. Add rice and peas. Cook for 15-18 minutes (or until done according to rice package directions).

Roasted Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning

Toss beans in oil and seasonings. Roast for 30-40 minutes at 350f, stirring every 10 minutes.

The chickpeas make for a great snack too! Kind of like “Corn Nuts” without the culinary guilt.

Shredded Chicken Sandwiches with Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

I love to make my own BBQ sauce.  You can make it sweet, tangy, spicy, whatever. Most importantly, you KNOW what’s in there.
I’ve made several different kinds of barbecue sauces.  All sorts of ways.

This one is a bit different.

It’s made with Dr. Pepper.
Pop isn’t healthy. I know this.  This is why I stopped drinking it. Yup. Cold turkey. Stopped.  I don’t let my kids drink it either, unless they are at a party or something. 
Dr. Pepper USED to be one of my favorites.

But when I saw this recipe, it looked so intriguing, I just HAD to try it.  So forgive me, but I used Dr. Pepper in this. Get over it and try it, it’s really good.  It was quite sweet but that’s okay.  Go easier on the honey if you want.    
You don’ taste Dr. Pepper.  If I didn’t tell you that there was Dr. Pepper in this, you wouldn’t know. Seriously.  That’s what I thought was so intriguing about it!

I’ve seen a recipe with barbecue sauce made with rootbeer too!  Shhh. Don’t tell the Dr. Pepper.
We ate this meal on Arnold Select Sandwich Thins for dinner.  We also had some delicious roasted cauliflower. The next couple of days, I ate it on tortillas like a wrap. Very tasty!
Dr. Pepper Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Adapted from Simply Recipes
1 cups minced onion
1 tbsp. oil
3 cups Dr. Pepper (I used diet)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup orange juice
1 cup honey
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in pan. Add onions and saute for 5 – 6 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

Pour the sauce carefully into a blender and puree until smooth.  It’s best to work in batches and don’t fill the blender more than 1/3 full. 

Put the sauce into pan and simmer, uncovered for 1 – 2 hours.  Stirring occasionally. Yield 4 1/2 cups.

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Boneless chicken breasts (I had 2 – 20 oz. packages)

Cook chicken until done and shred.  Add BBQ sauce and mix together. I used 2 1/2 cups of this BBQ sauce and I froze the other 2 cups of sauce.
 
2 Chicken Sandwiches + Roasted Cauliflower  = Very Tasty Meal!


Check out Debbi Does Dinner Healthy for more (mostly) healthy recipes!

PEACH BBQ RIBS

3 pounds cut spareribs
1 can Peach Comstock*
1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s hickory smoke BBQ sauce**
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper 
1 tablespoon Frank’s hot sauce

  • Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; rub well. 
  • Place in baking dish and top tightly with foil, shiny side in.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, reduce heat to 375 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. 
  • Pour off any excess liquid. 
  • In the meantime pour peach Comstock into a food processor and puree.
  • Add BBQ sauce, hot sauce and lemon juice. Pulse until well blended.
  • Remove from oven, brush meat with sauce, turn, brush sauce on other side. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees with foil loose and open 30 minutes.

*Cherry works great too!

**or any other favorite brown sugar based sauce – I’m allergic to mustard so Sweet Baby Ray’s is about the only prepared sauce on the market I can use.  I really prepare to make sauce fresh.

PEACH BBQ RIBS

3 pounds cut spareribs

1 can Peach Comstock*

1 cup Sweet Baby Ray’s hickory smoke BBQ sauce**

Juice of 1 lemon

salt and pepper 

1 tablespoon Frank’s hot sauce

  • Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; rub well. 
  • Place in baking dish and top tightly with foil, shiny side in.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour, reduce heat to 375 degrees for an additional 30 minutes. 
  • Pour off any excess liquid. 

  • In the meantime pour peach Comstock into a food processor and puree.
  • Add BBQ sauce, hot sauce and lemon juice. Pulse until well blended.
  • Remove from oven, brush meat with sauce, turn, brush sauce on other side. 
  • Bake at 375 degrees with foil loose and open 30 minutes.

*Cherry works great too!

**or any other favorite brown sugar based sauce – I’m allergic to mustard so Sweet Baby Ray’s is about the only prepared sauce on the market I can use.  I really prepare to make sauce fresh.