Jamie Oliver’s ‘Brilliant’ BBQ Salmon / Manchego Cheese Bites

Sunday with John and Linda

Sunday dinner with John and Linda

Monday:                   Shredded Chicken Sandwiches, Green Salad

Pizza w meatballsCrunchy Asparagus with Bitter Greens

Tuesday:                   Pizza, Salad of Crunchy Asparagus with Bitter Green

Wednesday:             Niçoise Salad with Grilled Salmon

Thursday:                 Dunnings  Gathering

Spring Leek Soup

Friday:                       Spring Leek Soup with boule and pesto

Pasta with Tuna Sauce

Saturday:                  Pasta with tuna sauce / green salad

Chicken Bill Blass

Sunday:                     Manchego Cheese Bites / Pickles and cheese
Bill Blass Chicken (Roasted with potatoes, onions and mushrooms)
Toasted bread with pesto
Green Salad
Desert Cakes from Prantl’s Bakery, courtesy of Linda Stewart

[House-keeping:  I received some great suggestions from Jan Sloman, a college friend and follower of the blog.  You’ll find them under ‘Links’ until I can get help creating a new menu item “Suppliers/Sourcing”.  If you like cheese or tequila, you’ll want to check out Jan’s recommendations]

Most of this week was cooking old favorites (with the exception of pairing the Grilled Salmon with Niçoise Salad).  You know about Niçoise, so I’m going to focus on the grilled salmon (recipe below) because it is truly one of the great Neanderthal recipes of all time.  The “Extra” is a nifty appetizer that takes just a little work but is unusual and delicious and will have your family and friends thinking of you as a tapas guru/genius.

But before we get to the recipes, some soul-searching is in order.  What is this blog really about?  Isn’t it just about living off the fat of the land, stuffing your face and gorging on all of the delicacies that living well in the First World affords us?  Can it be squared with Christianity, Judaism and the other great faiths?  Where does eco-consciousness fit into all of this?  And how much gluten have we foisted on an unsuspecting public?

These are the kinds of questions that make you think that Donald Trump has a point about political correctness.  But ignore that thought – he is just a jag-off (wonderful Pittsburgh noun) with a harem, a scowl and bad hair.  And now – please pay close attention – a little anthropological support for the blog.  Claude Lévi-Strauss believed that cooking was the defining human activity – the activity with which culture began.*  So before, during or after you write that novel or score that symphony or paint that masterpiece, why don’t you spend some of your cultured moments cooking for your friends and family?

 *Michael Pollan in his book, Cooking, cites Richard Wrangham, a Harvard anthropologist and primatologist who argues, in his book, Catching Fire, that “it was the discovery of cooking by our early ancestors that set us apart from the apes and made us human.  {He hypothesizes that] . . . by providing our forebears with a more energy-dense and easy-to-digest diet, it allowed our brains to grow bigger (brains being notorious energy guzzlers) and our guts to shrink . . . raw food takes much more time and energy to chew and digest, which is why other primates our size carry around substantially larger digestive tracts and spend many more of their waking hours chewing – as many as six hours a day.
Cooking . . . took part of the work of chewing and digestion and performed it for us outside of the body, using outside sources of energy.  Also . . . cooking detoxifies many more potential sources of food; the new technology cracked open a treasure trove of calories unavailable to other animals.  Freed from the necessity of spending our days gathering large quantities of raw food and then chewing it (and chewing it), humans could now devote their time and their metabolic resources, to other purposes, like creating a culture.

BBQ Salmon

 Barbecued Salmon

This recipe was concocted after watching a Jamie Oliver cooking program years ago (Jamie offered no written recipes, but watching his enthusiastic and chaotic cooking was fun).  Jamie cooked the salmon over a wood fire he created in his back yard.  You can cook it over a grill, or go full cave-man like Jamie.  My version works, but you may find that your salmon, depending on its thickness or your fire’s intensity, takes more or less time.  Do not – whatever you do – forget to cook the skin after it is removed from the salmon.  Billy and I think of it as ‘fish bacon,’ and you will find yourself craving this source of salt, oil and crunch.

Supplies

Skin on salmon fillet (one whole side of a salmon) enough to feed your crew.
Fresh Dill, chopped, with some reserved for serving
Good olive oil
Salt and pepper

Quick Marinade

Oil the skin side of the fillet and season aggressively with salt (most will fall off) and reasonably with pepper.  Flip the salmon over and cut slits all over the flesh side, then spread oil over it and work the chopped dill into the slits.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cooking

Make sure you have two good spatulas (a full fillet of salmon usually takes more than one spatula to turn over without breaking it into pieces).

Create a hot grill (we use hard-wood charcoal, but gas up, if you must).

Put the grate on the grill and heat it up, while you clean it with an olive-oiled rag.  You need a clean,* oiled grill so that the salmon doesn’t stick.

Place the salmon on the grill, skin-side down and cook for 4 minutes or less or more, depending on the thickness of your salmon, until the skin is well-charred.  If you get some oil flare-ups, that’s okay – if they persist, move the salmon to a non-flaming part of the grill.

Now take a knife and slide beneath the flesh, along the skin, removing the skin from the salmon, then flip the salmon over and cook on the flesh side.  And flip the skin to cook the other side.  The skin should cook in a few minutes.  For the salmon, you’ll need 3-6 minutes or more and you may need to turn the salmon once more to cook it through.  It will keep cooking after you take it off the grill.

You will end up with a beautifully grilled, smoky piece of salmon with more taste than even this strong fish usually gives.  We placed our salmon on a Salade Niçoise (I had planned for tuna, but Whole Foods had none) which we built of dressed arugula, new potatoes, green beans, parsley and olives and on top of which we placed halved hard-boiled eggs and anchovy fillets.  It was Friday night, the work week was over, we could drink and sleep in the next day and that grilled salmon and its skin was sheer heaven.

*Grills never get shiny clean after heavy use.  The idea is to get most residue off the grate and make sure that it is oiled.

Manchego Cheese Bites 2

Extra              Manchego Cheese Bites (Appetizer)

 Supplies:

Good chunk of Manchego Cheese
Egg
Flour
Honey
Paprika
Peanut or Canola Oil

If you have yet to experience the virtues of Manchego Cheese, stop reading, fast heavily during Lent in 2017, make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Campostello, eat some Manchego and then come back to this recipe with a clean soul.  If you are already a fan of Manchego, here is a great new way to enjoy this Spanish treasure.

Remove the rind from the cheese and cut it into shapes as close to a cube as you can get.  You need about 2 cubes of this per diner, provided you have another light appetizer and a good dinner to follow.

Set up three bowls or plates with enough flour, whisked egg and bread crumbs.  Coat each cube with the flour, then the egg and finally the bread crumbs .

Heat canola or peanut oil (about ½”) in a pot over medium-high.  When you see the oil begin to move, place the cubes into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes on a side (just turn once) or until you get a nice golden brown.  Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Drizzle some good honey over each cube and dust with a good paprika.  Insert a toothpick into each cube and plate.  This appetizer is very rich and super addictive – you may not be able to comfortably pose in the nude after eating  a bunch of these.  I’d  wear something voluminous.

4 thoughts on “Jamie Oliver’s ‘Brilliant’ BBQ Salmon / Manchego Cheese Bites

  1. Bill thank you for the tips on grilling salmon. I always was a bit hesitate to do it on the grill. Your old roommate always tells me to have the skin removed but next time I buy my salmon I will keep it on! God bless and thanks for the not only entertaining us but you’re pleather of info!

    Liked by 1 person

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