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: 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.

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

  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.

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

  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

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Dry-Brined Ribeye


It's grilling season and I am always in search of the Holy Grail...a dry-aged, USDA Prime, bone-in ribeye...about 1-1/2 inches thick and tipping the scale at around 20 ounces. It's not easy to find dry-aged beef in a grocery store....Lunds/Byerlys are the only ones that carry it on a regular basis in the Twin Cities.  But dry-aged beef is actually quite easy to source online.....for roughly the cost of a kidney or one year's board and tuition at an Ivy League college.

Dry-aging beef is indeed an expensive proposition. First, you need to have a special temperature/humidity controlled room where the air is constantly flowing around the meat. And it takes a lot of time...those steaks are in that room for 30 to 60 days. By exposing the meat to air, moisture is pulled out and the natural enzymes break down the muscles, making the beef more tender.

As the steak dries out, the fat portion retains more water than the lean portion. Accordingly, the fat becomes more pronounced and as we all know, fat = flavor. Bacteria formed in the aging process produces a robust flavor profile that gives dry-aged beef it's extraordinary taste. It's much like aging a cheese...the meat becomes very rich and intense.

There's another aspect that contributes to the high cost of dry-aged beef. The steak that comes out of the aging locker is smaller than the one that went in. Moisture loss shrinks the steak and often the surface mold must be scraped away. So that 20 ounce steak I want to grill probably went into the storage room weighing about 24 ounces.

It would be nice if you could dry age your beef at home. But few of us have a temperature/humidity controlled environment that provides constant air flow. But there is a way to enhance the taste of your beef at home through a process called dry-brining. It's really easy to do and you just need your refrigerator to make it happen.

The first step is you have to start with a quality steak. It needs to be USDA Prime. That ensures that there will be enough fat where the moisture can be drawn from the muscle and concentrate in that gorgeous marbling. The second step is to season the steak only with salt. You will need to use Kosher salt, using less than you normally would when grilling, as the salt flavor will also get concentrated as the steak sits. You need to put the steak on a screen so that the air can flow all around the steak and then let it sit in your fridge, uncovered, for three days.

I like to buy my USDA Prime steaks at Costco, where they are a heckuva bargain. So for not much money and a little bit of time, I can get a dry-brined steak that starts to get close to a dry-aged steak.....and for just $15 a pound...whereas scoring a dry-aged steak in the wild will cost $30 to $80 a pound.


2, 20-ounce USDA Prime Bone-in Ribeyes, 1-1/2" thick
Kosher salt

  1. Remove steaks from store packaging. Pat dry with paper towels. Place an elevated screen or rack inside a sheet pan. Place steaks on screen and salt both sides, using just a little less salt than you would when you grill them (approximately 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon per side). Do not over salt.
  2. Set sheet pan in refrigerator where it will realize good airflow. Let steaks dry-brine (uncovered) for 3 days.
  3. Remove steaks from refrigerator 3 hours prior to grilling and set on counter, allowing them to come to room temperature.
  4. Prepare your grill for both direct cooking over high heat and indirect cooking over no heat (two-zone fire).
  5. When your coals are white hot, grill the steaks over high heat for 4 minutes with the grill covered. Then flip and grill for 4 minutes more, grill covered.
  6. Then move steaks to the indirect side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook for 4 minutes more.
  7. Remove steaks from grill, tent them with foil and let them rest 5 to 10 minutes. Remove foil, season steaks with fresh cracked black pepper and serve.

Blogger's Note: The cooking instructions noted here are for a charcoal grill using lump charcoal and will result in the steaks being medium rare. If cooking with briquettes or on a gas grill, you will need to add a little more cooking time to achieve medium rare.

Wine pairing: A big Napa Cabernet Sauvignon

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Easy Carne Asada


Next Wednesday is Cinco de Mayo...the fifth of May. While generally thought to be a big Mexican holiday, our neighbors to the south ignore it. The date was observed to celebrate the Mexican Army's victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The celebration was short-lived, as the French came back a year later and crushed the Mexican Army at the Battle of Puebla 2.0.

So while Cinco de Mayo is no big deal in Mexico, it's all tequila and tacos and fiesta here in the states. Due to unfortunate timing, Cinco de Mayo misses Taco Tuesday by 24 hours. I don't know about you, but I am perfectly happy eating Mexican two nights in a row.

Back in 2016 I shared an elaborate Carne Asada recipe from Los Angeles restauranteur, Roy Choi. Today, I'm going to share Chungah Rhee's much simpler recipe. Carne Asada is marinated, grilled steak that is used as the basic building block for steak fajitas. So get ready to grill! Grab some flour tortillas and your favorite fajita fixings (Sam wants you to make sure to add sliced radishes) and have a happy Cinco de Mayo! 


1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1 lime
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 flank steak, about 1-1/2 pounds

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir to mix well.
  2. In a large ziplock bag, combine steak and marinade. Place bag in refrigerator for 4 hours (do not go any longer than this as the lime juice will start to "cook" the steak).
  3. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  4. Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. Pat steak dry with paper towels and then season with salt and pepper.
  5. Grill steak for 5 minutes per side (for medium rare). Then remove steak from grill, tent with foil and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Slice thinly against the grain and serve with your fajita fixings.

Pairing: Margaritas

Grogs and Goldie, 1956