Let it Rest

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You’ve heard me say it before… “Let it rest”. When you grill a piece of meat (if you are from the west coast… barbecue a piece of meat) you HAVE to let it rest to get the best flavor and texture of the meat.

Remember the last time you burned your hand and got a blister? What actually happened? I’ll tell you. You seared your flesh and your body’s response was to send it’s best cooling agent to the surface of your skin – H2O. That’s right. Your body is made up of 75% water and it can control most of that! Since your body doesn’t have and ice maker, it sends water to the most needed places. In this case, that means your seared flesh.

Well, when you cook meat you are doing the same thing. Hopefully, you haven’t been eating your own flesh. What I mean is you want to sear the outside and “seal” in those juices. Imagine the piece of meat, through osmosis, sending the water at the center of the meat to the outer surfaces to cool it down. Not too hard to imagine, right?

Now imagine cutting into the meat while the meat has all that water at the surface. Kinda like popping a blister, yeah? The water all runs out and so does the flavor leaving a dried out piece of meat behind for you and some very sad guests.

What if you let the meat rest… Let it sit and cool for a moment. As the temperature decreases or becomes more even from outer surface to inner core, the juices (a.k.a. the water) returns back to the center of the meat. That does 2 things. It helps to finish cooking the inside and keeps it moist and tender.

How long do I let it rest?
Great questions. 5 minutes is usually good. Try it and come back and comment to let me know if your grilled, hehem, barbecued meat comes out.

Tomato Basil Chicken Pasta

20110628-014904.jpgThis recipe is delicious. Just ask my dad. I served him this on his last visit. This time around I added pasta and a creamier sauce.

You can make it difficult or you can use my “Sandra Lee Semi-Home Made” version.

McCormick’s Grill Mates makes some great rubs and marinades. Get 2 packets of the Tomato Basil powder. Use one as directed for the marinade of the chicken. The other packet we’ll use for some sauce.

The marinade is pretty simple.
1 packet
2 tbsp of vinegar (I like white balsamic. It gives an interesting flavor)
1/4 olive/canola oil
1/4 water

Mix and pour over your chicken. Wait 30 minutes before grilling.
Oil the grates of your grill and heat the temp to 400+. I have a super hot spot on my grill that will do 500 degrees to sear the meat. I recommend this. I sear for 3 minutes per side adding grill marks by turning 90 degrees half way through each side. Then I remove the high heat and let the meat cook indirectly for the remainder of the time.

Note: chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees to be fully cooked.


Sauce
To make the sauce, we’re gonna throw the directions away. Pour the packet of seasoning into a hot pot. Next ease a can of tomato sauce in. It will make a lot of noise. Have a cup of milk standing by to pour in as soon as you empty the can of tomato sauce. Pour it in and stir together. When the ingredients have “calmed down” add in sour cream until the sauce thickens to your liking.

I know using a packet feels like cheating, but this is a great time saver and there is no sacrifice in taste.

After removing your meat and letting it rest, you are ready to plate. Noodles down first, a little sauce, cut chicken next and finish off with sauce and garnish with fresh basil.

Try this one and let me know what you think.

Coffee Crusted Steaks

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It probably sounds gross. Coffee crusted beef? It did to me the first time it was offered as a special at Stoney River in Roswell GA. It doesn’t taste like coffee at all. It pulls this savoriness out of the meat and really adds some depth. It’s super easy to do and chances are your dinner guests will be very intrigued. Mine were.

I’ve thought about making it for a few years actually, but didn’t find a recipe until earlier this year. I found the recipe at foodnetwork.com .

I added a few things and took a few things away to make it my own.

Tip: Grind your own coffee at the grocery store. Use a bold flavor and grind it to Turkish Style. That’s the finest most machines go. I wish they had a setting called “dust”, but they don’t.

It only takes about 1/4 cup of the coffee for 4 – 6 steaks. Add whatever spices you want to the steak about an hour before grilling. Then sprinkle the steaks with the finely ground coffee and rub it in until you’ve turned the steaks black.

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Allow the meat to come to room temperature before grilling for best results. Heat the grill to 500 degrees so you can sear the steak, about 3 minutes per side. Don’t forget to turn your steaks 90 degrees about a minute and a half into it to get those great grill marks.

You’ll need to finish them using indirect heat. The amount of time for indirect heat will depend on the thickness if the meat. I did about 7 minutes, but you may want to use a temperature gauge to get the meat to the desired doneness.

Tip: REST. This is the easiest way to make a steak great and it is definitely the most neglected cooking tip. Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes after removing from the grill.

Think about it like this. When you get burned, does water go to the surface of your skin? Yes. Whatever meat you are cooking does the same thing. If you cut the meat while it is still super hot at the surface the meat will dry out. Letting the meat rest allows the moisture to return to the center of the meat and retain it’s juiciness.

If you had my steaks, leave a comment and tell the world what you thought.

Sorry, Beef. This is What’s For Dinner – Herb & Oil Glazed Grilled Chicken

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Sorry, Beef. This is What’s For Dinner – Herb & Oil Glazed Grilled Chicken

A summer time favorite of mine is this herb & oil marinated chicken on the grill with grilled vidalia onions and yellow squash. There is something about a hot afternoon, skipping out on your mowing chores, and grilling some meat and veggie while enjoying a frosty beverage. Just enough wind to keep the mosquitos away and the smell of chicken wafting through the air.

Good food doesn’t have to be elaborate. Simple ingredients. Simple Cooking. That is Simply a good time to me. Put too much into the dish or too much time into preparing it and it kinda feels like work.

It doesn’t get any simpler than this dish. I made this dish in about 30 minutes. 10 minutes of prep time. 20 minutes of grilling time. If you feel like firing up your grill and having a little time to just enjoy your backyard while dinner cooks itself, try this.

Herb & Oil Chicken

  1. boneless skinless chicken breast (1 per person)
  2. 1/2 cup of olive oil (use whatever depth you like… extra virgin=lots of taste—-just olive oil or canola oil=no flavor)
  3. 3 cloves of freshly smashed and chopped garlic (thank you Giada;) )
  4. 1 tbsp of freshly chopped basil
  5. 2 tbsp of lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best but hey, use what you’ve got)
  6. salt, pepper

You can cheat and use a zesty italian salad dressing. The fresher the ingredients you use the better the taste will be though. It’s not a lot of work to wisk a few things together, but if you don’t have them grab the salad dressing. No Biggie.

I usually start with getting the chicken cleaned and in the marinade about a half hour before putting it on the grill. Salt and Pepper the chicken. Then mix all of the other ingredients in a bowl big enough to add the chicken to. Once incorporated well, add the chicken and set aside. Make sure to clean everything including your work surface, knives, hands, the ceiling and whatever else you got the chicken close to.

Ever notice how we treat raw chicken as if it were unspent plutonium and then a half hour later we devour it like it was the first meal we’ve had in weeks? Cracks me up.

TIP: To me, the meat is best if you let it come to room temperature before you put it on the hot grill.

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TIP: Grill marks give the food some character and they’re super easy. Divide your cooking time for each side of the meat in two. Turn the meat (and anything else you want grill marks on) at a 45 degree angle for the 1st half of the cooking time on side one. When you reach the second half of the cooking time turn the meat 90 degrees and finish the cooking time on that side. The main thing is not to move the meat around a lot.

TIP: You need the right tools. Check this out
BBQ and Patio tools.

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Grilled Vidalia Onions and Yellow Squash

The important thing here is to cut all of the vegetables the same thickness so they cook in the same amount of time. Begin with the Onion. I like to cut the veggies about a 1/2 an inch thick or about the width of your pinky finger. Brush the veggies with the olive oil or canola oil then sprinkle with your favorite seasoning. My favorite store-bought seasoning right now is Grille Mate seasoning. The seasoning draws out some of the moisture and in my opinion aids the grill in drawing out the sweetness of the vegetables. As you cook the onions, they soften, carmelize a little, and become very delicious to just chomp down on.

What are your favorite summer time recipes? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

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Gabby’s Culinary Creation

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Cooking is a passion of mine. It looks like it might be a passion for Gabby too. She came up with this culinary creation while we were hanging out on a Saturday afternoon.

She also likes to dip cucumbers in soy sauce. I’m just sayin’.

Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil Triscuit
Provolone Cheese
Oscar Mayer Hard Salami
Cucumber
Tomato (Roma or grape)
Fresh Basil Leaf

Try it and comment on what you think.