A guest post by Mrs. Esquire
The Big Green Egg influences our meals even when we don’t fire it up
It’s a busy weeknight. While we love grilling on our Big Green Egg for any meal, there are nights when we’re pressed for time, and throwing something together on the range is all we have the capacity to do. But even on these occasions, there are ways that our Big Green Egg can continue to influence and flavor our meals.
After BBQ Esquire made delicious rack of goat on Easter Sunday, we took the remaining bones and made a broth. Tonight I whipped up a simple pasta dish, and boiled the noodles in the goat broth instead of water. The method added a delicious complexity to very basic pasta. The goat broth added a richness, and a very mild smoky Big Green Egg flavor. This smokiness rendered itself in a flavor profile that piqued the sweet-sensing side of my palate.
So even though our Big Green Egg was not touched tonight, the flavor derived from our BGE cooking had a big influence on this evening’s meal.
Making broth from Big Green Egg proteins
Just about any meat with a bone made on the Big Green Egg will yield a lovely broth with a delicious smokey quality. I’ve run into a few situations where a dish made with a heavy Memphis-style rub will result in an overwhelmingly flavored broth, but aside from those rare occasions, I have had great success with Big Green Egg broths.
Select a pot for your range that fits the the bone from whatever you’ve made, so you can fill the pot with water just covering the bones, leaving at least 2-3 inches of space in the top of the pot. I use a 3.5 quart saucepan with built in spouts for most broths, and it has the added benefit of having a built-in strainer for the broth. But before you add the water, check your kitchen for any vegetables or veggie greens you can toss in. I try to add the tops of carrots whenever I have them on hand. Occasionally if we have greens on hand that are on their last legs, I will toss them in to add flavor, and give a use to a food that would have otherwise been wasted. Fill the pot with water so the bones are just covered.
My method is not an exact science, but I like to bring the broth to a full rolling boil right away, and then when the broth hits a boil, drop the temperature of the range to the lowest simmer. I let it go for about an hour depending on how much content is in the broth – and how much time I have before I want to clean up and close the kitchen for the night.
After I strain the broth, I often freeze it for convenience. I like to have both dark (beef, goat) and light (chicken) broths on hand in my freezer so I can choose the style that works best for my dish when I start cooking.
In case you wanted to try the dish I made, I used a very simple list of ingredients:
• goat broth
• olive oil
• sour cream
Follow recommended method for cooking your pasta per the package instructions, substituting goat broth for water.
Stir fry carrots in olive oil in a large fry pan. After carrots have begun to brown, add chard. After chard has started to wilt, add tomatoes. Strain pasta and add to to the fry pan. Drizzle some additional olive oil, and stir contents. Add a few scoops of sour cream if you’d like to give the dish a vodka sauce style. Of course this would be even more delicious with a full-fledged vodka sauce, but I am trying to prepare a few dishes a week with minimal ingredients as a healthy challenge. Enjoy!
Point Reyes National Seashore is one of our favorite destinations for a quick Saturday getaway. You can hike in the redwoods, on the beach, and through rolling meadows. You can also find delicious fresh and local food. On a visit to Tomales Bay a stop for barbecued oysters is a must.
If you plan ahead, you can reserve a picnic table right on the bay and spend the day grilling oysters (and anything else you bring with you). The oysters come right from the bay. Talk about farm to table! Mrs. Esquire and I ate barbequed oysters one time in Tomales Bay but didn’t plan ahead. This meant we paid $3-$4 per oyster to have them grilled and brought to our table, instead of the $1-$2 for fresh oysters to shuck and grill yourself. It left me wanting to grill my own oysters.
Fast forward to yesterday. I visited a new (to me) fishmonger in the neighborhood. What a great shop. We will definitely be back! The bins of oysters in the corner of the store caught our eye right away. After some consultation, we settled on a dozen Drake’s Bay oysters. Drake’s Bay is directly opposite Tomales Bay, on the ocean side of Point Reyes. Along with our oysters we bought an oyster shucker.
Neither Mrs. Esquire nor I had every shucked oysters. Mrs. Esquire did the dirty work as I prepped the grill. She did a great job! After Mrs. Esquire finished shucking the oysters, I dropped a dollop of garlic parsley butter (recipe below) on each.
By this point, the Big Green Egg was warmed up to about 400 degrees, set for direct grilling. I put the oysters directly on the grill. Ideally, the oyster shells will be deep and will sit evenly on the grill. Otherwise the sauce leaks out the side. A few drips aren’t the end of the world, though. A butter flare-up adds some nice smoke.
You can see that the butter melts nicely after a minute or two on the grill. I grilled these guys for about five minutes total, until the butter started bubbling. The oysters simmer in the melted butter.
The oysters were absolutely delicious! What a special treat in the backyard. We’ll probably mix this in as an appetizer during a future dinner party. There a many recipes online for different sauces. I may experiment in the future, but the butter sauce was really easy and really quick. Thanks for reading!
- 1/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp parsley
- Juice from one lemon
- Salt to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Cayenne to taste
Mix ingredients together in a bowl. Place a small spoonful of butter in each oyster prior to grilling.
Saturday night we had a dinner like grandma used to make – flank steak and potatoes. Except this flank steak was from our Marin Sun Farms meat CSA, the potatoes were from our Farm Fresh to You vegetable CSA, and I threw in some CSA fennel with the potatoes for good measure. So maybe the meal really was like grandma used to make – or like great-grandma used to make. Everything came from the local farm.
I’ve really been in touch with eating local in the last week or two. Sometimes the more life speeds up the more it slows down. Every hour is a new challenge caring for a newborn. But at the same time, the past two weeks have been a special chance to focus on what really matters. Life is stripped down to its core: eating, pooping, and caring for family. With so much time spent around the house we’ve done a great job preparing meals from our CSAs and our garden. The food tastes better when you slow down to think about where it comes from.
Grilling is still a bit of a challenge. Maybe someday I’ll grill with the little guy riding on my back. But not yet. Too soon. Luckily we had help this week. Mrs. Esquire’s mom flew in to give us a helping hand.
The extra set of hands freed me up to tackle the 2.5 pound flank steak from Marin Sun Farms. I have to confess, I was a little bit confused by the football-shaped “flank steak” that showed up in my CSA box. I thought I knew what flank steak looked like . . . and this wasn’t it. Having never prepared flank steak before, I figured I was just mistaken. I found a marinade recipe on the Big Green Egg forum (modified version outlined below). After a partial thaw I threw the hunk in a ziplock bag with the marinade.
When I was ready to grill I pulled the flank steak out of the refrigerator and removed it from the bag. Ahhhh – now the flank steak looked familiar! It unrolled into this ginormously beautiful hunk of meat.
Yes, it’s basically the size of a cookie sheet.
But the meat is only half the equation. I also prepared some potatoes and chopped fennel in my redware.
I seasoned the potatoes and fennel with sea salt, cracked pepper, garlic salt and onion powder. Right before grilling I doused them in olive oil. I grilled them for about 30 minutes at 40o degrees. They were delicious.
After I pulled the potatoes I threw on the flank steak. As a side note, I was grilling in the pouring rain. Always a challenge but not insurmountable! I grilled the steak for about 8 minutes total: two minutes then flip, repeat four times.
I was a little worried about a steak and potatoes meal since my dining companions weren’t necessarily steak and potato people. But I must say, the dinner was quite well received. The marinade was scrumptious. The fennel added a unique and delicious flavor to the potatoes. The varying thickness of the flank steak made it perfect my diverse audience. The cuts in the picture above are from the thin portion (for the ladies). The thick end was a beautiful medium rare (for me!).
I also have to thank both CSAs for the creativity they inspire. I’ve never bought flank steak in my life. I never would choose fennel and baby potatoes at the grocery store. But I created a beautiful meal by using the foods as they came to me from the farm. Just like great-grandma would have done.
Recipe Recap – Flank Steak Marinade
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/3 cup red wine
- 1 tsp. dry mustard
- four cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
Mix ingredients together. Marinate 1.5-2.5 pound flank steak in the refrigerator for 8+ hours. Heat remaining marinade on stove top to pour over prepared flank steak.
Today I’m crossing over. This is my first non-BGE post.
I don’t really bake or cook indoors – with one exception. I’ve learned to love the griddle on our stove top. It’s great for cooking breakfast. I’m not BGE-obsessed with it, but I have had some good times with the griddle.
This morning I took a second run at breakfast sausage. My meat CSA comes with five pounds of ground meat every month. What better use for the ground meat than a little breakfast sausage?
Last weekend I used beef. The core ingredient in my seasoning was a sample of chicken rub I had on hand. The sausages were quite good.
This morning I wanted to put together a recipe I could repeat (i.e., that didn’t depend on a random rub). I also wanted to mix in some pork.
I began by mixing together the following:
- 2 tsp sage
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked pepper
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp rosemary
I added the spice rub to:
- 2 tsp molasses
- 2 pounds beef / pork
Since I wanted to experiment with the pork and beef, I kept a half pound of beef and a half pound of pork separate, and mixed together a half pound of each for combination sausage.
I’ve discovered that the secret to breakfast sausage is to make the patties really thin. Otherwise they fatten up like hamburgers when they’re on the griddle.
If the patties are nice and thin, they only need 2-3 minutes per side.
After trying the beef, pork, and combo sausages, we decided we liked the pork sausages the best. That’s probably a good thing, because I can think of many more uses for ground beef than ground pork. Next time I might add a little more of a kick.
As long as I keep getting the meat CSA, these sausages will probably be in the weekend breakfast rotation! Thanks for reading.
I’m having writer’s block.
I know I should write about the pulled pork I cooked up yesterday. Instead, I’m just sitting here staring at a blank screen.
I’m hesitant to write because I haven’t arrived yet on my pulled pork. Since I’m not completely satisfied with my product I’m not ready to put myself out there.
Mrs. Esquire is telling me to get over myself. She says the pork tasted great and everyone liked it.
This blog is about the learning process, it’s about my personal growth with my Big Green Egg, and it’s about loving life and making good food. But there’s something permanent and enduring about inking a pulled pork manifesto on the internet that I just can’t get past.
So I’m not going to talk process in this post. Instead I’ll share some pictures and one little piece of the puzzle.
Here’s the main guest all rubbed down and ready to go. I injected my pork for the first time:
Many hours later, I pulled that bad boy at halftime of the Lions-Saints game. (Can anyone make a tackle? Please?)
So there you go.
OK, so I will share this. I’m zoning in on a three-phase North Carolina system. You might call it the triangle offense of barbeque. Here’s what I did this time:
- ½ c. Apple Cider Vinegar
- ¼ c white vinegar
- ¼ c apple cider
- ½ c apple cider vinegar
- ½ c white vinegar
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp tabasco
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
Sauce (warm in a saucepan prior to serving)
- ½ c apple cider vinegar
- ½ c white vinegar
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp tabasco
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp sugar
Here’s my thinking on the three phases. 1) Liquid only in the injection, to be easier on my tools. I may add a little tabasco and cayenne next time. 2) No sugar in the drip pan, to prevent burning. 3) This is the full boat goodness for dipping or saucing.
I might up the volume on the drip pan and sauce next time. The drip pan cooked up bone dry. I ended up a little short on the sauce – but that could have been because I left it boiling on the stove while I watched the game. Thank goodness Mrs. Esquire was around!
So there you have it. Thanks for reading!
Follow-up Note:I’ve continued to revise and revamp this recipe, increasing the amount of apple cider vinegar and decreasing the heat in the sauce. The day you stop learning is the day you stop living!
I’ve felt pretty good about my ribs the last couple of times I’ve prepared them. Time to post my method.
In my opinion, the key to ribs is a surprise ingredient: French’s Yellow Mustard. If you’ve never tried this method of preparing ribs, you should give it a shot. The mustard doesn’t really affect the taste. It simply adds moisture and gives the rub something to stick to.
I start by lathering the back side of the ribs with yellow mustard. Then I top the ribs with a rub. Next, I flip the ribs over and do the same on the meat side of the ribs. I like to start with the backside so I finish with the top. This way the top stays pretty when you’re finished. As a side note my butcher always removes the back membrane for me and cuts the rack in half. This makes the ribs easier to handle on the Big Green Egg.
Mrs. Esquire thinks she’s pretty funny when she lays the yellow tape on the counter.
After I’m done with the mustard and rub on both sides of the ribs, I carefully wrap them in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator. They can hang out in there for up to 12 hours.
Next, I prepare my barbeque sauce. I like to use a Kansas City style sauce. This makes me slightly schizophrenic, since I like a thin, vinegar-based North Carolina sauce on my pulled pork, but I like a thick, tangy, ketchup-based sauce for my ribs. I’ve outlined the recipe below. Basically, you mix together ketchup, apple cider vinegar, molasses, brown sugar, and some spices, and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Now it’s time to grill the ribs. I bring the Big Green Egg up to 225 degrees, set for indirect cooking. (See my fire building method here). I like to set my ribs in a rib rack, or on a raised grill. Ribs like to hang out up in the air, when possible. I used my new raised grill extender for the first time today.
Now it’s time to hang out. I let the ribs do their thing for about an hour at 220 before I visit them again. Although the adage “looking isn’t cooking” is very true in low and slow barbeque, I like to spritz my ribs. So after the first hour, I open the BGE and spray the ribs with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and apple juice (or beer if I don’t have apple juice on hand). I continue to spray the ribs every 45 minutes or so.
Here are the ribs about three hours into the process. After about four and a half hours, the ribs are almost ready. The ribs should bend easily, and there should be some give when you pull on a bone.
The last step is to pull the ribs from the Big Green Egg, remove the rack, and place the ribs directly on the grill. Some people let the ribs sit, wrapped in foil, for 30 minutes at this point. I’m ambivalent about that step. Either way, once the ribs are directly on the grill, I brush them with barbecue sauce and grill for another 20 minutes or so. I sometimes crank the BGE up a little bit, maybe to 250 or 275, for this final step.
Today, it started raining when I reached the final step. This made for challenging sauce brushing, and also left me without any pictures of this step! But here’s the final, delicious product.
Kansas City Barbeque Sauce
Combine the following in saucepan over medium heat: 1 1/4 cups ketchup; 1 cup water; 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar; 1/4 cup dark brown sugar; 2 tbsp molasses; 1 tbsp onion powder; 1 tbsp garlic powder; 1 tbsp black pepper; 1 tsp celery seed; 1 tsp allspice; 1/2 tsp sea salt; 1/2 tsp cayenne.
Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sauce should be thick. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.