Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cooking Salmon Saturday Night!

My wife loves salmon. So, when I find it on sale, it is a special night for cooking. Salmon is a fatty fish and stands up very well on the grill. When I say fatty, I'm talking about the good fat, the omega-3 fatty acid.
There are a number of ways to cook salmon on the grill. There is direct grilling. When I do that, I leave the skin on so I can easily flip it. Another method is plank cooking. I enjoy that if I want to add a smoky taste to the salmon. I use cedar planks especially created for this. Don't buy just any cedar for this. If you go to a home improvement store, you will find cedar, but it has been treated for outdoor use. DO NOT BUY IT! It is not for cooking. Another favorite method of cooking is pouch cooking. It is a very good method for cooking salmon and it guarantees a moist salmon.
When you grill salmon, I recommend having the salmon cut into steaks. Alton Brown, one of my absolute favorite chefs, has an episode of "Good Eats" which shows you exactly how to make a salmon steak. I have included a link to the video for your convenience. The actual segment is about 5 minutes into the video. Click here for the link. Once you get your grill up to temperature and oil the grates, you are ready.
As for cooking a fillet, I recommend flesh side down first to give your salmon great grill marks and then flip over to the skin. Yes, I said, "Skin." I recommend that you leave the skin on the fish for a couple of reasons. The first is that most of the omega-3 fatty acids are near the skin. In fact, it is in the layer between the skin and the fleshy part of the fish. The second is when you cook fillets with the skin with the flesh side down first, when you flip the fillet, you are now cooking the oil into the meat. That's right. The fat is begin pushed up into the meat due to the heat. The third reason is that the skin keeps everything intact. You don't want your salmon falling apart.
What about seasoning? I am a purist when it comes to seasoning. A little salt, pepper, maybe some dill. My wife likes her salmon with lemon pepper. That's why I buy a whole fillet. I cut it to sizes for my wife and myself.
Safety tip. Before you cook, check for bones. Small bones called pin bones are sometimes messed. Just use a small pair of CLEAN needle nose pliers or a hemostat (you can buy them at tackle stores and most culinary stores). Pull them out and you are done.
As for sides, I prefer to saute some green beans in REAL butter with garlic and server with grilled new potatoes.
As I always say, no matter how, what or when you cook, it's all good.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lunch with a Friend at the Saltgrass

A friend of mine and I had lunch yesterday at the Saltgrass in Round Rock, Texas. She had the salmon and I had the chopped sirloin steak cooked to medium rare. It was very tasty. The chop was made from Certified Angus Beef® fresh ground steak and topped with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions & a Cognac Pepper Sauce.
It was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. As my side, I picked the garlic mashed potatoes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Subscribing to My Blog

You can now subscribe to my blog via RSS. The subscription box is located on the left side of my blog. As I update my site, you will notified of new items added.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Food and Flame Web Store Now Open!

I opened up a web store so that I can highlight cooking products. I'll be adding more products over the coming months. Drop into the store and poke around. You can find the link in my favorites section of my blog or you can click here.
Take care and happy grilling. Remember, simply because the summer is coming to an end doesn't mean you stop grilling, smoking, BBQing or cooking. As long as you are doing what you love, it is all good.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Grillin' Chicken!

I got a great deal on Tyson boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Walmart. Normally, I don't like to buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts due to the expense. I tend to buy whole chickens and cut them up myself or frozen chicken breasts. I can save a lot of money that way. However, when meat goes on sale, you can bet I will take advantage of it.
Well, I decided that I needed to grill some chicken. As I had mentioned before, I like to cook for the week. So, I grilled 9 chicken breasts that can be eaten over a period of a couple of days.
When the chicken breasts are already ready to grill, preparation is reduced to just a quick marinade or dry rub. I use fajita seasoning and it does a great job.
Simply rub the chicken breasts with some vegetable oil and then sprinkle on some fajita seasoning. Set your grill to medium heat and make sure the grill grates are clean. Wait about 15 minutes so that temperature is about 400-450 degrees F. Once there you are ready to grill.
There are a couple of points.

  1. Chicken is very lean so you need to cook with oil. It allows the heat to transfer into the meat quickly. Also, without fat, the meat will stick to the grate. If you are watching your fat intake, you can oil up the grate prior to cooking.

  2. Let the meat cook for a about 4-5 minutes per side. This will let the meat cook and sear properly. So, when you flip it, you won't be scraping the chicken breasts off the grate and ripping them apart.

  3. Remember, chicken breasts need to reach 170 degrees F or until the juices run clear. Very important.

  4. Watch the meat. Don't start talking and forget about the meat. Chicken breasts will dry up very quickly.

If you follow these steps, you can enjoy a delicious, moist chicken breast. If you want a juicier and more favorful chicken breast, you can use a brine and it will increase favor. It is all in the planning.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Pork, the Other White Meat

One of the biggest things that people say about pork is that it is dry. In the past, most people cooked the living daylights out of a pork chop or use breadcrumbs. But, if you know what you are doing, then grilling a delicious pork chop is easy.
I look for thick pork chops. Cooking thin pork chops requires you to watch them very closely. The pork chop pictured here is about 1 inch thick. It also has its bone in. By keeping the bone in the chop, it stays moist. As for temperature, I take my chops to about 150 degrees F and use carryover heat to take it to its final temperature of a 160 degrees F. If you overcook, the chop will be dry and tough. Because of modern feeding practices, trichinosis is a no longer a concern. Although trichina is virtually nonexistent in pork, if it were present, it would be killed at 137 degrees F. That is well below the recommended end cooking temperature for pork, which is 160 degrees F. Many outdated cookbooks, commonly found in the home, were written many years ago, when trichinosis was a concern, and will instruct, even warn that pork must be cooked until there is absolutely no pink in the meat (to an internal temperature of 170 degrees to 185 degrees!); or as one popular cookbook put it, “The meat must be white or grayish throughout, without a trace of pink, even in the very center of a large roast.” This is not at all necessary today. Nor is it good.
Seasoning is simple. Salt, pepper and vegetable oil are the only things you need. Yes, simple and easy. Everyone loves them.