April 29 – May 5, 2019
Monday: Athens’ White Bean and Avocado Salad
Tuesday – Philly
Thursday: Crispy Baked Salmon
Friday: Weeknight Paella (with swordfish instead of chicken (Milk Street)
Saturday: Two Cheese Pasta with Cauliflower
Sunday: Grilled Chicken Salmoriglio / Broccoli Slaw
The weather took a turn for the better and we’re back on the deck, grilling up a storm, although the deck has a secondary use this spring: helping She Who Must Be Obeyed maintain the glowing tan she acquired during our month in Naples. This involves moving the grill from the extension where I cook, back onto the other part of the deck so that Beez can put her chaise longue directly in the sun. There are times at Casa Stuarti when I feel very much like one of the footmen at Downton Abbey.
Those of you who follow the blog closely (I think that includes just me) might recognize that the title of this week’s post is a play on the title of Joe Carroll’s cookbook: Feeding the Fire. Joe is a former P.R. executive whose hobby – barbecue – became a passion and then, with a leap of faith, a business. Those who have been lucky enough to eat at either of Joe’s places: St. Anselm in Brooklyn or Fette Sau in Philadelphia will be thankful that Joe left the world of flogging other people’s products to produce his own. If you have not tried his brisket, you have not lived to the full – apologies to family and friends in Texas.
Carroll’s book is worth getting because of the recipes. We had his butter-poached and grilled filets last night. (Hey – get over the butter deal, stop practicing nutritional correctness and let people eat.) His dry-brined Chicken, His grilled swordfish with wine-bottle sauce and his grilled mackerel were revelations to me. His barbecued beans are worth fighting over and his charred broccoli with Pecorino and lemon will calm down the vegetarians in your crowd.
But you might also want to get his book for its excellent notes on selecting meat and his guidelines on cooking with wood and charcoal and keeping your grilling equipment clean. Joe’s advice is to always clean the grill with a wire brush after cooking and while the grates are still hot and then to dress it with an oil-soaked paper towel. This is solid, useful advice. Not only will you have a clean grill to cook on next time, but over time you’ll season the grill and your food won’t stick. And, of course, the exercise and self-discipline you’ll gain from adhering to this practice will help you stave off the effects of all the barbecue you’ll be eating.
And when you get that grill ready, try this recipe for grilled chicken from the south of Italy. It’s not from Carroll’s book,* but if this does not send you to the Amalfi coast in your mind, nothing will. You’ll just have to sell some stock or your house and get there the conventional way.
*We’ve tossed in Joe’s Charred Broccoli recipe as an extra, so that you can have a taste of Carroll’s straightforward cooking before you get his book.
GRILLED CHICKEN SALMORIGLIO (Southern Italy’s Grilled Chicken)
(from Milk Street, May-June, 2019)
Timing: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Ingredients: Serves 4
3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken trimmed (we used 8 chicken thighs)
¼ cup or so chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated (we used 1)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
Kosher salt and black pepper
½ cup of olive oil
Trim the chicken – if using thighs, cut off the extra flap of skin and any large deposits of fat – and put into a large bowl (you’re going to marinate it, but for just as long as it takes you to prep your other dishes and build a good fire).
Zest both lemons into a small bowl (you’ll be adding that ½ cup of olive oil.)
Slice the lemons in half and set aside – you’ll be grilling them.
To the bowl with the zest, add the olive oil, the oregano, the grated garlic, 1 ¼ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper
Mix the marinade and add about ¼ cup of it (8 tablespoons or so) to the bowl with the chicken and toss by hand to coat the chicken. Set aside to marinate.
Chop the parsley and add it to the remaining marinade – you’ll use a bit of this to dress the cooked chicken and pass the rest at the table so that diners can help themselves.
Start a wood or charcoal fire. You’ll be cooking the chicken indirectly – i.e., not directly over the heat. So, you’ll want to contain your coals, when they’re ready, to one part of the grill. If you have a barrel grill, just pour the coals into the middle, leaving indirect cooking areas on either end. If you have a circular grill, you’ll need a separator or just use some crumpled aluminum foil to keep an area free for indirect cooking.
When the coals are ready, put them in the grill as explained above, and close the grill to heat it up for 3-5 minutes.
When the grill is hot, place the chicken skin-side up on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. At that point, use tongs to transfer the pieces furthest from the fire to closest – keep them skin-side up. Cover the grill and cook for another 10 minutes. NOTE: If you’re going to cook the charred broccoli (see below) as a side, add the broccoli two minutes later, directly over the fire, and flip after 4 minutes. In another 4 minutes the chicken and the broccoli will be done. If your broccoli isn’t charred enough, cook it longer while you grill the four lemon halves directly over the fire, cut-side down, for about 2 minutes to get some grill marks on them.
Let the chicken rest for five minutes. While that’s happening, squeeze two of the lemon halves into the bowl with the marinade you did not use, whisk and spoon some of this over the chicken after it has rested. Pass the rest at the table. Slice the remaining lemon halves and serve alongside the chicken.
NOTE: Using a gas grill? Turn all the burners on high and heat, covered, for 15 minutes. Clean and oil the grates and turn the primary burner to medium high and the remaining burners to low.
You can also cook this chicken, skin-side up, in a 450 F oven about 30 to 40 minutes. You can cook the lemon halves at the same time, cut end up, by trimming some of the lemon ends so that they sit flat.
Extra – Joe Carroll’s Charred Broccoli with Pecorino and Lemon
(from Joe Carroll’s Feeding the Fire)
If you can find a simpler recipe for grilling a vegetable, let me know.
Timing: 12 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 large head of broccoli (about 1 pound) – at our market we get 2 or 3 medium or small heads banded together.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino-Romano
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
Flaky sea-salt – Maldon is the easiest to find.
Start a wood or charcoal fire.
Trim a few inches off the end of the broccoli stalk and cut the broccoli into 8 long spears. With small heads of broccoli, you would quarter two heads. With really small heads, you would cut them in half.
Toss the spears gently with the olive oil and then season with kosher salt.
Grill the broccoli over direct heat, turning them every couple of minutes, until charred and crisp-tender. About 8 minutes.
Put the broccoli on a platter, drizzle with a bit more oil, sprinkle with the cheese, the lemon zest and flaky sea salt and serve.