Saturday, June 24, 2017

Grilled Thai Pork Chops

Two days ago, my friend Jeff Pinkham wrote that if he had to eat only one ethnic cuisine for the rest of his life, it would be Thai. I would have to agree with that opinion. There's just something about the mix of lime, fish sauce, garlic and chiles that is so incredibly delicious.

I found this recipe in the New York Times this week and I made it last night. I served it up with Basmati rice. I am hear to tell you that this recipe is an absolute keeper and will become part of my regular rotation when cooking on my Weber grill.

Make sure you use thick-sliced, center cut pork chops. They should be bone-in and have a good amount of fat is your friend....because fat equals flavor. Fat also insures that your meat will remain moist after grilling. This Melissa Clark recipe serves two.


For the Marinade
3 garlic cloves, minced
The juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of sambal oelek or other chili paste
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the Pork Chops
2 thick sliced, center cut pork chops, bone-in and about 14-ounces each
Scallions, thinly sliced
Lime wedges


  1. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Place pork chops in a zip-lock bag, pour marinade over chops and seal bag. Refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.
  2. Prepare your grill for both direct (over high heat) and indirect cooking.
  3. Remove pork chops from marinade and then grill for 4 minutes per side over direct high heat (grill should be covered). Move chops to indirect side of grill, cover grill and cook for 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove chops from grill, tent with foil and let them rest 5 minutes. Then serve chops with thinly sliced scallions and lime wedges.

Wine pairing: A big, fruity Zinfandel.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Charred Sugar Snap Peas

If you have a sweet tooth, here's a cooked vegetable that tastes better than candy. If you have a salt tooth (like me), here's a cooked vegetable that tastes better than potato chips. This recipe is so good that you can serve it as an appetizer (bet you can't eat just one) or as a side dish for a grilled rib eye steak. And check out the lucky strike extras: fiber, vitamins A and C and just 26 calories per cup.

To get the perfect charred flavor, you are going to want to grill these puppies. Snap peas are not very big and would likely slip through the grate. So I use a grilling pan that I place right over the hot coals on my Weber. You'll want to cook these with the cover off of the grill and stay only takes about 4 minutes to put a proper char on these veggies. I cooked an 8-ounce bag of sugar snap peas last night, which was enough for 4 small side dishes. But I would double or triple the recipe if you are going to serve it as a snack. Thanks to Bon Appetit magazine for the recipe.

One 8-ounce bag sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt


  1. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss snap peas with olive oil and kosher salt.
  3. Place snap peas in a grill pan and place the pan over the coals. Cook for 4 minutes, turning the snap peas often with tongs so that they char evenly.
  4. When cooked, return charred snap peas to the bowl. Toss with the lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve.

Wine pairing: If serving sugar snap peas as an appetizer, I'd pair them up with a big, oaky Chardonnay. If you've got $12.47 in spare change sitting about, head to Total Wine and grab a bottle of Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve Chardonnay.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese Butter

Grilled ribeye. Blue cheese butter. Cabernet Sauvignon. The trifecta of summer grilling. The holy trinity. It's that extraordinary moment in eating when one plus one plus one equals ten.

Blue cheese contains mold. Specifically, the mold Pennicillium. Blue cheese tastes quite sharp and salty. Blue cheese also contains bacteria. Specifically, the bacterium Brevibacterium linens. That bacteria is what gives blue cheese it's distinct smell. Brevibacterium linens also gets credit for foot odor and other human body odors. But, oh, what it does to a grilled steak and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Grilled steak and Cabernet Sauvignon have aways been a match made in heaven. But the addition of Blue Cheese Butter makes the meal a true gift from the gods. I make my blue cheese butter with two of Costco's very best ingredients: Kirkland Creamy Blue Cheese and Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter. The former is made with sea salt and aged for 90 days while the latter is made from the milk of grass-fed cows on the Emerald Isle. This recipe will yield more butter than you need for the steaks, so keep a loaf of artisan bread within easy reach.

1, 8-ounce stick of Kerrygold butter, softened
1/2 cup crumbled Kirkland Blue Cheese
4 teaspoons freshly chopped thyme
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
4 ribeye steaks (1-1/2 inches thick)


  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. Combine butter, cheese, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Season steaks generously with salt and pepper. Grill for 4 minutes per side (for medium rare over lump hardwood charcoal). Remove steak from grill, add a pad of blue cheese butter to each steak,  tent with foil and let steaks rest for 5 minutes. Then serve.

Wine pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon. A Far Niente if you are really lucky.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Grilled Flank Steak with Italian Salsa Verde

"A steak always tastes best when it's cooked over charcoal." Us charcoal grillers would like to believe this, but it simply is not true. Food cooked over charcoal actually does taste better, but not because there is a transfer of charcoal flavor to the meat.

The flavor transferred to the meat during grilling is all about heat. The higher the heat, the better the flavor. Gas grills are actually the poorest performers when it comes to heat as their peak temperatures are in the 500º to 700º Fahrenheit range. Gas grillers would be better off using a cast iron skillet on the stove top, where it's easy to get a 1000º temperature.

Next up the chain are charcoal briquettes. They put out temperatures of 800º to 1000º. But if you are going to grill outside, lump hardwood charcoal burns at 1400º. That ridiculously high temperature is responsible for the "great flavor" that everyone assumes is from the charcoal.

But that flavor actually comes from the 1400º temperature. As the fat and juices drip on the coals when grilling, that temp is so high that it literally vaporizes the drippings. When the fats and juices hit 1400º coals, they turn into smoke and the smoke is what infuses the meat with that incredible flavor.

This is a spectacular recipe from Edina cookbook author Meredith Deeds. The brightness of the lemon juice creates a perfect contrast to the salt in the anchovies. While her recipe called for creating the salsa verde in a food processor, I recommend whisking in the oil by hand. A food processor blade turns the oil into fine droplets, causing bitter-tasting polyphenols to be emphasized in the sauce. Hand whisking preserves the fruity flavor of the olive oil.

1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons capers, drained
2 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon for the sauce)
Fresh ground black pepper (1/4 teaspoon for the sauce)

1/3 cup olive oil
1 flank steak (about 1-1/2 pounds)


  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. Add the first eight ingredients into a food processor. Pulse quickly eight times so that ingredients are well chopped, but not pureed. Remove food processor blade and take food processor bowl off the device. Gently whisk in olive oil and set sauce aside.
  3. Season steak generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes per side ( for medium rare using lump hardwood charcoal). Remove steak from grill and tent with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Slice steak thinly against the grain and serve with the sauce.

Wine pairing: Malbec