Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July, or as I like to say, "Happy half birthday to me!" That half year just flew by. Isn't it strange to have a holiday on a Wednesday? Canada got to have a long weekend with the bank-holiday Monday off, but we'll take any old day off! We've got two Fridays this week!

I am a little overexcited today because I ran the local "Firecracker 4-Miler" first thing in the morning (aka 9:30am). I averaged 8:40 per mile, which is pretty good for me so I'm happy. I surged past someone right at the very end (I found out later he was 13 years old) and then relaxed and chugged water for the next several hours. I chugged water all day yesterday too, come to think of it. I read somewhere that mega-hydrating is helpful for race prep. Drink water until Nature calls to tell you that you have totally had enough.

My major project for this Fourth of July was to try a recipe from Bon Appetit's Summer Grilling 2012 issue. The recipe is Steak Skewers in Scallion Dipping Sauce, and may I say right off the bat that it tasted AMAZING. The recipe is from Zakary Pelaccio, who runs the restaurant Fatty 'Cue. The recipe seems right on Fatty 'Cue target because one of the main ingredients is fat. Then it all gets barbecued.

The idea for these skewers is to use a Malaysian grilling technique of building a "medium fire" that is kept low with minimal flare-ups. Also, use a LOT of fat so that the skewers get basted and succulent as they slowly cook. That's the idea anyway. Here's what really happened...

Taking your recipe with you to the butcher can be immensely helpful. I am a bit shy sometimes, and being able to hand over page 90 of Bon Appetit and explain that I needed "2 lb. tri-tip, top sirloin cap steak, or rib eye, fat cap left on" was great. Because I have no idea what those cuts of meat are. The butcher had both tri-tip and rib eye, and I opted to get some of each--about 1.25 pounds of tri-tip and .80 pounds of rib eye. If you're wondering, the rib eye is the more succulent (and more expensive) cut. The butcher was also super-cool by giving me free veal fat, because none of the steaks there had "fat cap left on." (Maybe Vermonters don't like something called "fat cap.") He went into the back and brought out a bunch of veal fat he had removed the day before, and wrapped it up in a brown paper packet with no price tag. NICE!

The meat gets marinated overnight in an amazing mixture of unsweetened coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and more. Then you string it onto soaked skewers by alternating meat bits with fat bits. Very promising.

This is the marinade. After putting the meat/fat pieces onto skewers, you take whatever fat is left and render it briefly (heat in pan), then add a mixture of more coconut milk, fish sauce, garlic, & lime juice. This gets basted on every few minutes during the first part of grilling.

We don't have an American grill that you can, like, TURN ON. We have a hibachi. It involves charcoal, and it is very close, fine work. I still haven't gotten the hang of it. Having a charcoal chimney, pictured above, definitely helps. Here, the charcoal is hot and grey on top, so ready to pour into the hibachi and grill. (Somebody please save me if this is the wrong way to use a hibachi!)

Everything is under control here. We are following the rules for when to baste and when to turn the kebabs. Yay!


Things are starting to get a bit hot. I opt for a different kebab orientation. Still pretty much under control. I'm feeling totally Malaysian street style, yo.


Ummmm, those alternate layers of fat went kind of crazy just two inches away from the charcoal. Major flare-ups happening. I am not in control of this grill anymore. May Day! Halp! I removed all the kebabs from the conflagration as quickly as possible.


Here are the rescued skewers, succulently resting on the side of the driveway. To complete cooking, I kept rotating them onto the fire to go for that crispy, carmelized surface that Bon Appetit kept talking about.



Oh my goodness, yum. These skewers were an amazing hit with everybody, and they're going on my permanent grilling success menu (along with Turkey Shawarma). So good! So salty! So subtle! Even though the marinade contained a jalapeƱo, it was no big deal once grilled! (I subbed in the jaly instead of 4 Thai chiles). Note the purple-scallion dipping sauce, which is part 3 of the Bon Appetit recipe. Guess what--it called for fish sauce.


This bottle of fish sauce was full when I started the recipe. Only about 1/3 left.


For dessert, Orange Creamsicle ice cream from David Lebovitz's amazing and exhaustive ice cream book, The Perfect Scoop. Yes, it really was perfect. Orange zest, sugar, orange juice, half&half, sour cream, and more, blended into tangy, popsicle-licious, refreshing scoops. Perfect for a hot, fish-saucey, 4-miler kind of day.

1 comment:

ValleyWriter said...

Wow - you got a lot accomplished on your day "off" - go you! Love the kebabs & the ice cream (especially the ice cream ). Happy 4th!