Friday, June 28, 2013

THE MEATWAVE - Part II

After being tantalized by The Meatwave, I made their delicious recipe for Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers. Yum! However, while my poblanos cooked over indirect heat (not over the coals), I didn't want to waste the direct side (over the coals) of my grill, so I tried their recipe for "Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp." Apparently this recipe was inspired by a restaurant in Houston, Texas, and being a native Texan myself, I had to try it!

The shrimp are seasoned with a simple dry rub, slit open, filled with a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese and slice of jalapeno pepper, then held together with a slice of bacon! The shrimp are then threaded onto skewers, brushed with melted butter, and grilled to perfection! Could anything sound better? They turned out beautifully with a nice balance of heat and baconess. My only comment is that the recipe calls for 2 pounds of large shrimp to serve 4-6. I used 1 pound of medium shrimp, keeping the other ingredients as written and found that not only did it take me almost an hour to stuff and wrap the shrimp, it made enough to feed an army! So, keep that in mind when purchasing your shrimp. (It was not a problem...my husband was more than happy to down more than his fair share!) These shrimp were so fantastic and would be perfect at any barbecue! And finally, a nice cooling Retro Wedge Salad makes a nice accompaniment!


Bacon-Wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
For the dry rub
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the shrimp
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled with tale on, deveined, and rinsed
2 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into thin strips (I recommend cutting as you go...)
3 jalapenos, halved, seeded, and cut into thin slices (I recommend cutting as you go...)
1 pound bacon strips, halved (I recommend using thin cut bacon and I cut them into thirds because I used smaller shrimp, see above)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 lime, quartered

Directions:
In a small bowl mix together garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Place shrimp in a large bowl and season with 3/4 of the spice mixture, tossing to evenly coat.

Working with one shrimp at a time, make a slit about 3/4-inch long at the base of the shrimp. Place one jalapeno slice and one cheese slice in cut slit, then wrap base of shrimp all the way around with half a slice of bacon. Repeat with rest of shrimp.


Thread shrimp onto skewers (I recommend threaded through just above the tail then through the body to help stabilize the shrimp onto the skewers) and season lightly with remaining spice mixture. Brush shrimp lightly with melted butter.

(I grilled them in batches,
because I only had half the grill available.)

Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Grill shrimp over high heat until bacon crisps and shrimp just cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a platter and serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE MEATWAVE - Part I

Over the weekend, I stumbled upon The Meatwave, a blog completely dedicated to barbecue and grilling. I was immediately impressed with the fine photography (I need a better camera!), tantalizing bbq and grilling recipes, and the many humorous puns all focused on meat! Ha! Ha! However, I'm not naive, a lot of food blogs are loaded with recipes that are ho-hum and with incompetent directions that clearly indicate that the writer didn't even try the recipe! Annoying! But having been lured by The Meatwave, I fired up my grill and gave a few recipes a try, starting with "Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers."

This recipe caught my eye because I love poblanos and happened to have Mexican crema and cotija cheese lingering in my fridge. Perfect! I followed the recipe exactly and when the aroma of simmering chorizo, onions, and garlic hit me, I knew this was going to be great! Not only did these savory poblanos look fantastic, they tasted even better! A nice cooling Retro Wedge Salad makes a nice accompaniment!


Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
2/3 pound raw Mexican chorizo, removed from casings
1 1/2 cups cooked white rice
2 medium roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup Mexican crema, or sour cream
1/4 cup grated cotija cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 large poblano peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in onion and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in chorizo, breaking sausage into small pieces with a wooden spoon, and cook until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Add rice, tomatoes, crema, cilantro, and cotija cheese to bowl with meat mixture and mix until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon mixture into cavities of split poblanos and top with pepper jack cheese.


Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. (I didn't oil it and it was just fine!) Place poblanos on cool side of grill, cover, and cook until cheese has melted and poblanos have softened, about 20-30 minutes. Remove from grill and serve.

***You may also be interested in Bacon-wrapped, Jalapeno and Cheese-Stuffed Shrimp.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Chill with Chinese Chicken Salad!

Tomorrow is the first day of summer and with the heat and humidity rising, it's starting to feel like it! Days like these make me crave a nice cold salad, like "Chinese Chicken Salad." Chinese chicken salad, as we know it in the U.S., is purely an American creation dating back to the 1930's, popularized by the fashionable entertainment industries on the West Coast. In the 1960's, Chinese chicken salad reached iconic status when Sylvia Wu opened Madame Wu's Garden in Santa Monica, California, with celebrity clientele including Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace Kelly, Robert Redford, and Cary Grant, just to name a few! In fact, it was Cary Grant who insisted she put Chinese chicken salad on the menu!

Photo of Cary Grant with Madame Wu.

This excellent recipe, adapted from Bridgehampton Weekends, by Ellen Wright, has all the flavors of a traditional Chinese chicken salad: shredded chicken and iceberg lettuce, sesame oil, ginger, and scallions, all served on a bed of crispy, crunchy, fried rice-stick noodles! (In fact, this recipe is quite similar to Madame Wu's version.) To keep things simple, I use store-bought rotisserie chicken. In addition, remember to assemble the salad just before serving to prevent wilted lettuce and soggy noodles. No one wants soggy noodles!


Chinese Chicken Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:
For the sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 ounces canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger (I use my microplane.)

For the salad
1 store-bought rotisserie chicken, meat shredded into bite-size chunks, skin and bones discarded
1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
6 scallions chopped, white and green parts
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, cored and thinly sliced
1/2, 6.75 package rice-stick noodles (found in the Chinese section of most grocers)
Canola oil for frying

Directions:
In a small bowl, whisk the sauce ingredients together and set aside until ready to assemble. (Can be made ahead and refrigerated.)

To fry the rice noodles, fill a deep pot with about 2 inches deep of canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Drop in a few rice sticks and watch them. They should poof up and turn white. When oil is ready, carefully add the rice stick "pillow," allow it to poof up, which should take less than a minute. Using tongs, carefully turn the rice stick pillow over and allow the other side to poof up and turn white. Don't leave the noodle too long, which will make them brown. (If you mess up, try again with the other half of the 6.75 rice noodle package.) Drain on paper towels and set aside until ready to assemble. (Can be fried several hours in advance. Set aside at room temperature.)

To assemble the salad, in a large bowl, combine the chicken, sesame seeds, chopped scallions, and sliced lettuce. Pour the sauce over and toss well. Place the crispy noodles on a large platter (spread it out to make a nice bed) and spoon the chicken salad on top. Serve immediately. YUM!