A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Flame On, or Everything's Better When You Do It Outside

1.

I was asked to fast on Thursday evening from 8 PM forward, so I decided to eat a collosal meal around 6-ish. The grill was in full working order, and you best believe I was gonna fire the hopper up for what was in fact going to be my first real cooking in the new place. The Kentucky Ave. Safeway provided a decent piece of salmon steak to enjoy as meal alpha. A salt and lemon rub later, I had the burners burninating and the salmon prepped for an encounter with fire. The one thing I was unprepared for was the heat of the oven; at one point it was getting up to 500 degrees -- not a good temperature for salmon. Some fiddling and tweaking reduced the heat to a steady 350, higher than what I wanted but good enough. At that temperature -- and sans an aluminum foil buffer, which I would have used but conveniently forgot to purchase -- the salmon cooked in a little under ten minutes. I topped the steak with Italian parsley, black pepper, and a fresh squeeze of lemon, and served it all with steamed broccoli and corn. The salmon itself could have been tastier (note to self: do not stray from wild salmon again) but the meal was good. Definitely a nice way to break in the cooking implements of the new apartment.

2.

After being poked and prodded Friday morning (oh, and almost fainting at the sight of my blood being sucked out of me) I decided a run would be a better idea than actually, you know, eating. Here's the catch: like Tom I have the legs of an arthritic old man. Oh, and a back that tends to assert its hatred for me at rather inopportune moments (I think its the psychic energies of one of my many nemeses, holy cow I've been reading too many comics). Oh, and sneakers that I've owned since the summer of 2000. Despite these minor quibbles (did I mention I haven't been running in two years) running seemed like a smart idea.

After torturing my body for three miles, I returned home sweaty and proud. There's probably no better example of Cartesian duality out there than the battle between my mind and my body -- "'Run,' says my conscience, 'Run not!' says the fiend"...

To reward my body in advance for what was sure to be an aching weekend, I grilled up some chicken sausages and topped them with some fresh salsa I'd whipped up -- tomatoes, jalapenos, onion, a touch of champagne vinegar, some salt, and a bit of garlic powder. The salsa was good, but needed (and received) a night settling and some cilantro. The sausages were awesome. I'd forgotten how good a decent sausage is when cooked over an open flame.

3.

I was nervous about Saturday. It was the first time I'd be entertaining in my new house -- as an early Father's Day present, my parents, sister, and boyfriend of the sister were coming down for some grill action. I had steaks and two different kinds of sausage going, as well as some great Italian bread with an herb butter and an awesome mixed salad assembled with ingredients from the organic green grocer at Eastern Market. But everything went off with only slight problems (the gas tank on the grill needed to be refilled). The steaks were good -- marinaded simply in olive oil, a touch of vinegar, salt, and chili powder. The salsa also proved to be popular, but the salad was my personal favorite. I mixed arugula, mesclun greens, some edible flowers, and sorrel in a home made salad dressing (EVOO, vinegar, fresh grated parmesan reggiano, basil, garlic, kosher salt). Dad was very pleased with the steak, and the sister and Mom enjoyed their sausages. They were also really happy with my new place. It was a great afternoon. Post grillfest, Martin and I headed over to the Zunta house for another barbecue, after which I went venue hopping with various DCists. A fun night, if a bit tiring. I was so weighed down by the massive amounts of meat consumed that I slept like a baby on Ambien Saturday night.

4.

Sunday I treated myself to a dose of the usual -- the paper and Tunnicliffs. One of the fellow bar patrons at Tunnis happened to be a chef at Restaurant Eve, and we discussed various things about the business as it relates to D.C.: how José Andres is stretched a bit thin, the superiority of organic meats, and various other topics. The chef also gave me some handy tips for my next grill adventure, beer can chicken.

Beer can chicken is delicious and really easy. Take a can of cheap brew (I used Budweiser), drink a quarter of it, and drop the desired seasonings into the can. Rinse and dry your chicken and dry rub it, stick the can into the chicken's cavity, stand on the grill like a tripod and roast for about an hour at 325. As noted earlier, temperature control on the grill is still an issue, so I watched the chicken pretty carefully and strategically lifted the cover to bring the temperature down when necessary. After an hour, take the chicken off the grill and let it settle for ten minutes, discarding the beer can.

Effectively, what this process does is roast the chicken and baste it from the inside. The spices in the can season the meat and the result is a tender, juicy bird without the dryness you sometimes get from roasting a chicken at a higher temperature. The skin around the bottom of the chicken can get a bit singed, but the burnt bits can actually be very tasty. Martin had a taste of the roast and summed up my feelings: "That's some damn good chicken."

5.

Tonight I am giving the grill a rest and eating leftovers, which I have plenty of. Four days in a row of grilling -- if this trend continues, it's going to be a great summer for food. As cryptically referred to earlier, July 3rd will be the inaugural party for friends at the new apartment. Anyone have menu requests, or tips on how to make good deviled eggs?

Unrelated Aside.

The only thing that excites me about the Fantastic Four movie is Jessica Alba. Please wake me when they actually start a Green Lantern movie. Thanks.