What happens when you order some local, grassfed pork spareribs one week, and a few days later a beautiful grilling cookbook shows up on your doorstep?
You grill, of course!
I made a few adjustments to the recipe (page 158). These modifications were solely based on ingredients currently in my possession.
Truth be told, I was more preoccupied with the suggested cooking technique—a low and slow oven-to-grill process that would hopefully yield excellent results.
I coated the rack of ribs with a standard dry rub, wrapped them in some foil, and baked for three hours at 325 degrees. I then threw the ribs on my gas grill and basted with a bbq sauce/pan drippings mixture which created a beautiful shellacked coating.
I’ve never made better ribs at home—a testament to both the recipe and high quality product.
And as for The Grilling Book, it’s really hard for me to imagine a more fantastic cooking reference guide. I’ve been walking around with it all week, just thumbing through the pages and getting excited about all the things I’ll eventually prepare from it.
The Grilling Book includes more than 380 recipes, all of which have been previously published in Bon Appetit. Everything from grilling lamb to fish to veggies, as well as preparing sauces and cocktails, is included in the book. There are also techniques such as: Steps to a Perfect Steak, How to Muddle Like a Pro, and Steps to Tasty Flatbreads.
I’m really just scratching the surface of what this book has to offer. Think of it as a 400+-page encyclopedia volume with inviting pictures and approachable recipes.
I started with the ribs…but I can guarantee you other recipes are right around the corner.
*The cookbook was complimentary, but the opinions are my own.
The funny thing about food and eating is that it is constantly changing. We eat to live and some of us love to eat. Most of us manage that love with proper balance or else we know it can easily have it lead us down a path of destruction.
Life is bursting with ups and downs. We eat to celebrate. We eat to comfort.
Somewhere in the middle is balance.
Too many celebrations can lead to excess if we aren’t careful. Too many stresses can do the same.
A few days ago a posted I comment on facebook about comfort foods. I asked, “…what’s your poison?” The choice of “poison” was purposeful. After all, it is comfort food that we were talking about. It’s how we self medicate.
The answers took the expected route: ice cream, chips, whiskey (that one cracked me up), fried chicken, you know, all the tasty stuff we all love to indulge in. Yet, there were two things I was curious to see in the answers: (1) who would list something actually healthy and (2) who would call me out because I didn’t list my answer.
It made me wonder…
Why is comfort food usually something you should not consume in excess… or even in small doses?
Why couldn’t I come up with answer to my own question?
A small seed of an idea is planted within me.
Why can’t we rethink the definition of comfort foods? Why don’t we ignore conventional wisdom and step out from the crowds. Think about how much sensory pleasure you get when creating a simple dish with clean foods that celebrate its unique flavors. Think about how great it feels to sit down with a beautiful dish of just ripe avocado, with sliced Vidalia onions, cherry tomatoes, lime juice, and heart of palm. Most of the time these types of dishes take less time to prepare than it does to heat up or run out and buy our traditional bowls of calories.
Who wants to join me in this revolution?
Food surprises are all around us in this town!
I’m finally beginning to dig deep into the Little Rock food scene. This often leads to discoveries in unexpected places. Here are just a few of the wonderful items in spots you may least expect to find them:
Lasagna, Wait…What?: The best places to get true, authentic Italian food are at the German/Czech restaurants. Insert sarcasm. In Little Rock, this is true. If you’ve had The Pantry’s lasagna al forno with its homemade pasta, and béchamel and Bolognese sauces, then you know what I’m talking about. To date, it’s the best lasagna I’ve had in this town.
Holy Cannoli!: Did you know there’s a fresh-made, filled-to-order cannoli spot in Little Rock? Didn’t think so. There is…but it’s not in a bakery. It’s in a deli…Mason’s Deli and Grill in the River Market to be precise. After spending a year in Boston, I know a good cannoli. Mason’s make good cannoli.
Office Pasta: Let’s just stick with the Italian theme. What if I told you there’s a lovely lady named Kay who’s been making hand-made pasta in an obscure office building café? Would you believe me? And guess what…she’s been doing it for the past 25 years in the same WLR location. Welcome to Milford Track, where you can get pastas in six different flavors with eight various sauces. It’s insane. Try the spinach pasta with low-fat alfredo and roasted veggies…and never look back!
Taco Time: How in the world can some of the best tacos to ever touch my tongue be coming out of a LR suburb—from a food truck that never moves? Thank you Benton…and thank you Craig and Melissa at Baja Grill. Arkansas Foodies tipped me on this place months ago and my life hasn’t been the same since. Get the Cuban or the blackened mahi mahi or the pig sooie or the…oh heck, it doesn’t matter. Everything is great.
Big Time Tamale: In the past, I’ve purchased my tamales in some pretty obscure places. Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting much authenticity from the popular Izzy’s in WLR. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The beef tamale was perfection—moist, flavorful, well-seasoned, and a fantastic 1-to-1, masa-to-beef ratio.
I Heart Lentils: Hillcrest Artisan Meats is known for a lot of things…almost all carnivorous in nature. One day, I accidentally ordered a side of their lentil salad. Dear God! I polished it off in about two minutes and got a vat of it to-go. And ate that for dinner. Don’t like lentils? Don’t worry, neither did I. Intrigued, aren’t you?
Again, these are just a few of the unexpected culinary surprises I’ve found throughout Little Rock. Got some more for me? Would love to hear them!
He may not be your cup of tea, but there’s one thing for certain about Bobby Flay…dude knows how to grill. And anytime I’m in search of a sure-fire, can’t miss grilling recipe, I just log-on to the Food Network website and find one of his recipes. I swear there are thousands of them.
Recently, I stumbled upon this wonderful Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe. I really enjoy preparing cordon bleu, but now that spring is here, I prefer a lighter style of cooking to the traditional, heavily breaded and baked version.
I’m so glad I found this recipe. The results were nothing short of fantastic. The one ingredient that was most intriguing to me was the arugula. Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of that peppery taste of the leaf, and I was skeptical about this addition. But when combined with the saltiness of the brie and prosciutto, it really worked.
One thing I botched was my use of lemon. I’m always afraid to “over lemon” things and it happened again here. It was regrettable because additional citrus flavor would have complemented the other components.
Also, and I can’t stress this enough…pound each piece of chicken breast. It creates a uniform thickness, thus allowing for shorter cooking time and a more consistently cooked piece of meat. Finally, it’s important to really know your particular grill. I found that Flay’s recommended grilling time just wasn’t long enough. He suggested 2 minutes per side. I needed about 7 minutes. I’m sure the thickness of our chicken pieces were different, so just keep in mind the grill time is very flexible.
I really hope you try out this recipe. I ended up preparing my chicken with a side of roasted broccoli and some mashed potatoes and celery root. Have you ever tried mashing celery root with potatoes? Wow! That’s another post for another time.