Saturday, September 4, 2021

Chorizo Quesadillas

 


Chorizo is a type of sausage....and oh how I love me sausage! It is highly seasoned, used in both Mexican and Spanish cuisine. Mexican chorizo is made with fresh pork (raw and uncooked) and is blended with vinegar and chili peppers. 

Spanish chorizo is made with garlic and smoked paprika. It is sold fully cooked (smoked) and dry...to be sliced like salami. Mexican and Spanish chorizo are not interchangeable. So make sure you are buying Mexican chorizo to make these quesadillas.

This is a very easy recipe to make and comes together in just minutes. To make it a complete meal, I like to serve quesadillas with fresh Pico de Gallo salsa and some Mexican rice. When I made this last night for Becky and I, I upped the Scoville units a bit by using two jalapeños. Becky moderated the heat by dipping the quesadillas in sour cream. They were delicious!


INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Mexican chorizo sausage 
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
4, 12-inch flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey pepper jack cheese


DIRECTIONS
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet until oil is shimmering. Then add sausage, onion, garlic and jalapeño and cook until meat is brown and onion is tender.
  2. Lay out tortillas. Cover the lower half of each tortilla with 1/4 quarter of the meat mixture and a 1/2 cup of cheese.
  3. Fold the empty top of the tortillas in half over the filled lower half and then cook each for 1-1/2 minutes per side (3 minutes total for each tortilla), using a skillet, grill pan or grill at medium-high heat. Then cut each tortilla into quarters and serve.



Pairing: Pacifico






Saturday, August 28, 2021

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops in Tomato Cream Sauce

 


A great meal always starts with the right ingredients. When I'm going to grill up a steak, I can choose between grass-fed or grain-fed. I always pick the latter as I appreciate all of the extra fat and marbling associated with grain-fed beef. To my tastebuds, grain-fed tastes better. The same kind of thing happens when you buy sea scallops. You get to choose between dry or wet scallops....and they are light years apart when it comes to taste.


Fresh scallops look like the photo above. Note that they are dry, which is precisely why they are referred to as "dry scallops". If you set them on a paper towel, they give off next-to-no liquid. When you cook them up, they are sweet. They taste like the ocean. These are the scallops you want to buy. 


The scallops in the above photo are not fresh. They have been previously frozen. They are referred to as "wet scallops" and when you see them in the store they are often sitting in a white, creamy liquid. They have been treated with a preservative and whitening agent called sodium tripolyphosphate (STP). 

If you put them on a paper towel, they will give off a ton of liquid. STP increases the water retained by the scallop, often by as much as 30%. So frozen scallops end up being a poor value, compared to fresh, as you are paying for a lot of water. Sodium tripolyphosphate also gives the scallop an unpleasant chemical flavor. It's impossible to get rid of that taste. Your only choice is to mask it by pre-soaking the scallops in a mixture of water, lemon juice and salt. 

So if you are going to prepare this variation on a Melissa Clark recipe, start by making sure you have the right ingredients that will celebrate the incredible flavors of this dish. Dry scallops are more expensive and a little more difficult to find...but any decent grocery store should have them in their showcase in the seafood section...right along with their fresh fish offerings.

Melissa's recipe is a tip of the hat to a classic dish at Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York. Her recipe called for poaching the scallops in the sauce. I much prefer the taste and texture of a golden crisp, pan-seared scallop. So I modified her recipe to accomplish that. I use her spectacular sauce recipe, which is spiked with Worcestershire sauce and celery seeds, as the crowning glory for the pan-seared scallops. There will be left-over sauce, so grab a baguette to mop it all up. Embrace my essential mantra of "no sauce left behind".

Pan-seared scallops are definitely one of the easiest things to cook on your stovetop. For success you only need three things: dry scallops; those scallops at room temp prior to cooking; and a really hot skillet (cast iron preferred).


INGREDIENTS
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
Pinch of celery seeds
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup heavy cream

1 pound dry sea scallops
2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup fresh chopped chives for garnish


DIRECTIONS
  1. Take scallops out of refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking so that scallops are at room temperature.
  2. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter, letting it melt. Add shallots, celery seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until shallots are opaque, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until jammy....about 10 minutes.
  3. Increase heat to medium-high and stir in vermouth. Cook until about a third of the liquid evaporates...about 5 minutes. Add Worcestershire and cream and simmer, reducing heat if needed and stirring occasionally until sauce thickens enough to coat a spoon...about 6 minutes. Then cover skillet and keep sauce warm over medium-low heat.
  4. Thoroughly pat scallops dry. Then heat oil in a new skillet over medium-high heat until very hot and sizzling. Add the scallops to the skillet in a single layer (if they do not sizzle when you put them in the skillet, your pan is not hot enough).
  5. Season scallops with salt and pepper to taste and fry for 1-1/2 minutes on one side (until a golden crust forms underneath). 
  6. Then flip scallops and fry again for 1-1/2 minutes until crisp, lightly browned  and cooked through (opaque).
  7. Transfer scallops to serving plates and pour sauce over the scallops. Garnish with chives and serve. 


Wine pairing: An oaky Chardonnay






Saturday, August 21, 2021

Mezcal Adobo Skirt Steak

 



While tequila and mezcal are both made from agave plants, mezcal is actually tequila's smoky first cousin. When the agave plants mature, they produce inulin, a type of fructose that cannot be directly converted to alcohol. So to make mezcal, the agave plants are roasted. The roasted plant hearts are then pressed and the runoff juice is the basis for mezcal. The roasting is what gives mezcal that pronounced smoky taste.

Chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeño pepper. Ripe jalapeños are placed in a smoker for several days, where they lose all their moisture and become prune-like. The peppers are then combined with adobo sauce and canned. While adobo sauce is basically white vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves....the sauce becomes incredibly smoky and hot from the chipotles. You will find them in the Mexican/Ethnic section of your grocery store, sold as Chipotles in Adobo Sauce.

So two of the main ingredients in this recipe owe their distinct flavor to smoke. You can add to that by cooking your skirt steak over charcoal and throwing in a few chunks of mesquite. When you are done cooking, you will have the foundation to make some of the best steak fajitas you have ever tasted. Just grab some flour tortillas...your favorite fajita fillers...and have at it.


INGREDIENTS

For the Marinade
1/3 cup lime juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1/2 cup mezcal
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons canned adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika

1-1/2 pounds of skirt steak


DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the first 12 ingredients in a bowl and whisk to mix. Place steak in a ziplock bag, pour marinade over steak and seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Prepare your grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  3. Remove steak from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Grill steak for 3 minutes on each side (for medium rare). Transfer steak to a cutting board, tent with foil and let steak rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Slice against the grain in 1/2-inch strips for your fajitas.





 Pairing: Ice Cold Pacifico







Saturday, August 7, 2021

Pork Chops with Rosemary & Mustard Cream Sauce

 


It's going to be raining today, which means my grill will get a well deserved break. Saturday night is perfect for comfort food, especially if you have a fresh baguette of French bread to soak up this legendary sauce. This all comes together on the stove top in about 30 minutes....or roughly about the time it takes for me to empty one "Grogs Pour" from my wineglass.


INGREDIENTS
4 bone-in pork chops, about 6-8 ounces each
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh minced rosemary
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard 
1 tablespoon butter
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sour cream

DIRECTIONS
  1. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet and brown the pork chops on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside. 
  2. Add the onion and rosemary. Cook, stirring, about 4-5 minutes or until onion is soft. 
  3. Add the chicken broth and white wine. Stir to remove brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add the mustard and stir to combine. 
  4. Put the pork chops back into the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Then remove the pork chops.
  5. Add the butter, heavy cream and sour cream to the skillet. Stir until smooth. Put the chops back into the skillet and drizzle with sauce. Garnish with fresh rosemary. Serve. 


Wine Pairing: Merlot






Saturday, July 31, 2021

Charred Chili Lime Corn on the Cob

 


"Terry! You're burning the corn!"


Those were the words yelled by my dearly departed father the first time I made him charred corn on the cob. It was the first time in his 90+ years on earth that he was served an ear of corn that was not a perfect, monochromatic yellow. But once he took his first bite, he, too, became a big fan of the char.

Once you've had charred corn, any other way of serving it is unacceptable. Charred and toasted kernels take corn to a whole different level. There is a richness to the taste that is just so satisfying. It's the only way that Becky and I eat fresh corn on the cob (and we like it really charred).

It seems logical that you would use your grill to cook charred corn. But I have found that the strong heat of burning charcoal is not the best way to char the kernels. So I cook the corn right over the burners on my stovetop. The corn cooks fast....it only takes 5 minutes to cook charred corn. Using the burners allows me to easily adjust the heat and keep turning the corn for even charring.


Chili Lime seasoning is ubiquitous these days. It is the fad spice du jour. Trader Joe's has a private label bottle. It's available at Costco, almost every grocery store I've wandered into and Amazon seemingly carries 100 different brands. It's an absolutely astounding combination (the heat of the chili with the sour tartness of the lime). When you add that to a charred ear of corn dripping with melted butter....welcome to  heaven. But if you invite your parents over for dinner and they are charred corn virgins, it is recommended that you alert them in advance: "I'M GOING TO BE BURNING THE FUCKING CORN!"


INGREDIENTS
2 ears fresh corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
Spray can of canola oil
1 stick of butter, melted
Chili Lime Seasoning


DIRECTIONS
  1. Spray ears generously with canola oil.
  2. Set the corn over stovetop burner. Cook for 5 minutes, turning frequently to realize an even char.
  3. When cooked, brush ears generously with melted butter and sprinkle with Chili Lime seasoning. Then serve.



Pairing: An ice cold Pilsner



Saturday, July 24, 2021

Smoked, Cheese-Stuffed Meatloaf


Back in 2010 I wrote about my favorite meatloaf recipe. It's one I've been using since former Minneapols cop John Hennessy shared it with me in 1994. It's meatloaf with a decided Italian bent, thanks to half the meat being hot Italian sausage. I didn't think the recipe could be improved upon....until I decided to stuff it with cheese and cook it in a pellet smoker. 

There is only one correct way to cook this on a pellet smoker. If you do not follow these instructions, you will end up with a grease fire of enormous magnitude. As ground beef and Italian sausage cook, they give off a huge amount of grease. You don't want that grease dripping down to the bottom of your smoker. So you need to create a free-form meatloaf and then set it on a wire rack. Then set the wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan (foil wrapped makes for easy clean up). Then set the sheet pan in your smoker. All of your grease will be captured by the sheet pan.

Do not use a meatloaf pan. The grease will make your meatloaf fall apart and it will bubble over and cause said grease fire. A free-form meatloaf will insure you have a firm and perfectly cooked meal for your guests. And if you don't have a pellet smoker, use your oven. It will still be incredibly delicious....all you will be giving up is a little smoke flavor.


INGREDIENTS

1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 pounds hot Italian Sausage
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups of bread cubes (I use sage and onion stuffing)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon each of salt, pepper and Italian 
Seasoning

16-ounces shredded mozzarella cheese



DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat smoker to 375º.
  2. Combine all ingredients except mozzarella in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. Take a little less than half of the mixture and use it to form the base of your free-form meatloaf. Place on a wire rack. 
  3. Cover the top of the base evenly with the mozzarella cheese. Then take the rest of the meat mixture and set it on top of the meatloaf base. Form the top, making sure to extend the meat over the base in order to seal the cheese inside.
  4. Set the wire rack on rimmed sheet pan and set in smoker. Bake for 90 minutes, then remove, tent with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve.



Wine pairing: Chianti





Saturday, July 17, 2021

Grilled Rib Eye with Thai Peanut Sauce






If I were required to choose but one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life, it would be Thai food. If I were required to choose but one meal to eat the rest of my life, it would be grilled rib eye steak. So should you face these same choices, choose as I did. And with this "Sam the Cooking Guy" recipe, I will show you how to combine Thai cuisine and grilled rib eye so that you may enjoy the best of both worlds for the rest of your days. As an added bonus, recipes rarely get any more simple than this.


INGREDIENTS

For the Sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1/3 cup chicken broth

For the Steak and Garnish
2, 16-ounce ribeyes, at least 1-1/4" thick
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons crushed peanuts
Cilantro


DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine the first five sauce ingredients in a small pot over high heat. Stir until blended. Add the broth a tablespoon at a time until it is creamy smooth. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
  2. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  3. Cook steaks for 5 minutes per side (for medium rare). Try and get as much charring as possible. When cooked, remove steaks, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Warm up the peanut sauce, spread some on the bottom of your serving plate, slice the steak and place on top, add a little more sauce, peanuts and cilantro for garnish. Serve.


Wine Pairing: Zinfandel

Grogs and Goldie, 1956



Saturday, July 3, 2021

Florentine Steak

 


In Tuscany, this dish is known as Bistecca alla Florentina. It's comprised of a thick slab of steak on the bone, grilled over a white-hot fire and accompanied by my very favorite lettuce...peppery baby arugula. And let us not forget those stellar supporting actors: lemon, garlic and parmesan cheese.




After grilling, the steak needs to rest before it is sliced, Florentine style (see photo above), and served on a platter with the salad ingredients underneath. Pass the platter and your guests simply select some steak slices, salad and lemon wedges to squeeze over the steak. This Jamie Purviance recipe serves 2. To serve more people, you can double the ingredients. Or, as they do in Tuscany, you double the salad ingredients and just use a single, enormous, 3-pound Porterhouse Steak. 


INGREDIENTS

For the Steak
1 well-marbled T-bone steak, 1-1/2" thick and 1-1/2 pounds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Dressing
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the Salad & Garnish
4 ounces baby arugula
1 ounce of shaved Parmesan cheese
Lemon wedges for serving


DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the steak on a small tray and pat dry with a paper towel. In a small bowl mix the oil, salt, rosemary, pepper and garlic powder. Rub the mixture over both sides of the steak and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients.
  3. Prepare grill for direct cooking over high heat. 
  4. Grill steak for 4 minutes on each side. Then remove steak and tent with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes. (NOTE: This timing is for medium rare on a charcoal grill using lump hardwood charcoal. If you are using briquettes or a gas grill, you may need to cook up to 6 minutes per side. If using a meat thermometer, 125º is the temp you want to hit before removing it from your grill.)
  5. In a bowl, lightly toss the arugula, dressing and 2/3 of the parmesan. Spread the salad on a serving platter. Cut the steak Florentine-style and set steak in the middle of the salad. Garnish with the remaining Parmesan shavings and serve with lemon wedges. 



Wine pairing: Barolo

Grogs and Goldie, 1956






Saturday, June 26, 2021

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

 


If you're down in the Sooner State and order a burger, you're going to get one heckuva taste treat....The Oklahoma Fried Onion Burger. It's essentially a smash burger with paper-thin fried onions pressed into the burger on one side. This burger was created by Ross Davis in 1926. He ran the Hamburger Inn on Route 66 in El Reno, Oklahoma.

There are 3 critical ingredients to making this burger. The first is the onion. You want a sweet yellow onion sliced really thin on a mandolin. Then you salt the slices and let them drain. If you don't do this step, your onions will have too much moisture and will steam instead of frying. Second is the beef. You want a minimum of 15% fat (85% lean). Fat is flavor and you want that fat to give you a really good char on the non-onion side of the patty. Third is the bun. Sorry....only a soft and fluffy potato bun will do.


INGREDIENTS

1 large yellow onion, sliced 1/8" thick
Salt and pepper
12 ounces of ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 slices American cheese
4 potato hamburger buns, buttered and toasted

DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine onion and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to colander and let sit for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Using tongs, transfer onion to clean dish towel, gather edges and squeeze onion dry. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Divide onion mixture into 4 separate mounds on rimmed baking sheet. Form beef into 4 lightly packed balls and season with salt and pepper. Place beef balls on top of onion mounds and flatten beef firmly so onion adheres and patties measure 4 inches in diameter.
  3. Melt butter with oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Using spatula, transfer patties to skillet, onion side down, and cook until onion is deep golden brown and beginning to crisp around edges, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip burgers, increase heat to high, and cook until well browned on second side, about 2 minutes. Place 1 slice cheese on each bottom bun. Place burgers on buns, add desired toppings and serve.


Pairing: An ice-cold Pilsner


Grogs and Goldie, 1956




Saturday, June 19, 2021

Italian Pasta Salad

 


Tell someone you live in Minnesota and it conjures up images of a vast, arctic tundra. I beg to differ. Here we sit on June 19 and we have already had 20 days of temperatures in excess of 90º. Too hot to cook in the  kitchen. Painfully hot to grill on the deck.

So to escape the heat of cooking, I like to make a big bowl of Italian Pasta Salad. This recipe has 3 distinct advantages. 1. It's delicious. 2. Eating a chilled pasta salad is a great way to beat the heat. 3. It will keep in the fridge for 4 days, so you can get multiple meals out of a single prep session.


In order to make sure it's delicious, you need to use quality ingredients. For the salami, skip the meat aisle and head to the deli. You want real Italian artisan salami. If you belong to Costco, there is no mozzarella in the world as great as Galbani's Marinated Fresh Mozzarella balls. And if you are feeling lazy and don't want to make homemade Italian dressing, I'd suggest Ken's Steakhouse Zesty Italian Dressing.


INGREDIENTS

For the Dressing

1-1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried Turkish oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Salad

1 pound cooked rotini
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces fresh mozzarella balls, halved
1 pound salami, cubed 
3/4 cup kalamata olives, sliced
3/4 cup pepperoncini, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion 
1/2 cups fresh chopped parsley


DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a mason jar, cover and shake vigorously. Set aside.
  2. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Then add 1/2 to 3/4 of the dressing to the salad and thoroughly toss until mixed. 
  3. Chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Refrigerate the remaining dressing and use it to freshen the salad leftovers for subsequent meals.




Wine pairing: Chianti


Cersei chose not to make homemade dressing





Saturday, June 12, 2021

Shrimp with Horseradish Butter

 



This is a perfect weeknight dinner. Prep and cooking time will take you less than 10 minutes. The ingredient list is short....everything about this recipe is simple. But it offers a big taste and all it really needs for its crowning glory is a warm loaf of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.


INGREDIENTS
3 lemons
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish, plus more to taste
Kosher salt
1 pound large shrimp (15 to 20 per pound), shelled and deveined
Small bunch of chopped dill
Crusty bread


DIRECTIONS

    1. Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon and set aside. Juice lemons to yield 1/2 cup of juice. 
    2. Melt 1-1/2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon horseradish, half of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Increase heat.
    3. As soon as that comes to a boil, add the shrimp and another pinch of salt. Simmer for 2 to 4 minutes, flipping each shrimp halfway through, until pink and firm.
    4. Stir in the remaining 1-½ tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of horseradish. Taste and increase the salt and/or horseradish, if you’d like.
    5. Top with the lemon zest and dill, plus a sprinkle of salt (flaky finishing salt is nice if you’ve got it) and serve with crusty bread.


    Wine pairing: An oaky Chardonnay


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956




    Saturday, May 29, 2021

    Easy Grilled Caesar

     



    I find cooking to be incredibly relaxing. There are days where I would like nothing better than spending three hours in the kitchen putting together a great new dish. But there are also days I don't want to hassle with a lot of prep and cooking. This recipe is for the latter.

    I love a good Caesar salad. But to follow the original recipe can be time consuming: https://terrygruggen.blogspot.com/2017/12/caesar-salad-real-deal.html. When I don't want time consuming, I use today's recipe. I often use this when I've grilled a steak. I always rest my steak for 5 minutes after grilling...and this grilled Caesar takes only 2 to 3 minutes to come together.

    To make it, you just slice a romaine heart in half. Brush some olive oil on the lettuce and grill it cut-side down over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes (I grill mine over charcoal....the heat gives it a sweet and smoky taste). Pop it off the grill, drizzle on some dressing and dust it with parmesan. Done.


    Just pick your favorite store-bought Caesar dressing. No reason to go crazy here because the star of the show is grilled romaine. My favorite dressing for this side dish is Ken's Steakhouse Tableside Caesar (actually I am in love with just about every Ken's Steakhouse salad dressing). I'm not a fan of creamy Caesar dressings and this one tastes closest to one you would make from scratch. And from scratch would be a great option as well....but that sort of defeats the beauty of a 5-minute Caesar.


    INGREDIENTS
    1 heart of romaine, halved lengthwise
    Extra virgin olive oil
    Caesar salad dressing
    Fresh grated parmesan cheese


    DIRECTIONS
    1. Brush cut-side of lettuce with olive oil, then grill, cut-side down, over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.
    2. Remove from grill. Drizzle with salad dressing and add a healthy dusting of parmesan. Serve.




    Wine Pairing: If served with steak, go for a big Cabernet


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956





    Saturday, May 22, 2021

    Smoked King Crab Legs

     


    I am adding this recipe to my blog with mixed emotions. The first emotion is disappointment insomuch that it took me 68 years to figure out the very best way to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs. The second emotion is elation for having discovered the very best way to cook Alaskan King Crab Legs. It is absolutely astounding what a little bit of smoke does to the delicate sweetness of king crab meat.

    Costco is by far the cheapest place to buy king crab legs. They typically run from $24.99 to $29.99 a pound. That's a bargain compared to the $43.99 I had to pay at Lunds last weekend. King crab is easy to prepare. It is cooked and flash-frozen right when it is harvested, so all you have to do is thaw it and reheat it.


    To prepare it for smoking, you want to cut away half of the shell. Importantly, you want to cut away and discard the white part of the shell. The darker part of the shell will impart more flavor as the crab is cooked. And exposing the meat in the shell will allow it to absorb more smoke. The picture below shows what your crab leg should look like before cooking.


    I like to use my Weber Deluxe Grilling Pan to hold my crab legs (see below). That way I can place all of the legs on the pan in the prep area and simply set the whole pan on the smoker, thereby avoiding the hassle of managing individual crab legs on the grill. While having a pellet smoker makes this recipe a breeze, you can easily smoke crab legs on any grill with two-zone cooking and a foil pouch filled with mesquite. And the grilling pan works equally well regardless what kind of grill you are using.


    When buying king crab legs, try and get the biggest legs you can. Larger legs have a greater meat to shell ratio, making them a better buy. The rule of thumb for buying crab legs is one pound per person. A large leg with a knuckle typically weighs about a pound. A thinner leg with no knuckle will typically clock in at ten ounces. And don't cut corners on the butter. I like dipping my crab meat in a rich, European style butter. Kerrygold is my absolute favorite. The recipe below serves four. I like to serve my crab with rice pilaf...they go great together.

    INGREDIENTS
     4 pounds Alaskan King Crab Legs
    16 ounces of melted butter
    Old Bay Seasoning


    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat smoker to 350º.
    2. Break each crab leg into individual pieces by snapping the leg at every joint . Cut away white portion of shell from each piece and discard.
    3. Place leg pieces on grilling pan, flesh side up. Take about 6 ounces of the melted butter and brush the meat of each piece generously. Then lightly dust each piece with a little bit of Old Bay Seasoning.
    4. Place legs in smoker. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
    5. Remove crab pieces from smoker and serve with small, individual bowls of the drawn butter.


    Wine pairing: A big, oaky Napa Chardonnay


    Grogs and Goldie, 1956