“We feel free when we escape – even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.” Eric Hoffer

paella

Creating something from scratch. Remembering the toil and feeling the satisfaction of the results is what I get from cooking. Especially over open flame. We have a tendency these days to feed our bellies and our brains with what ever is at hand or popular for easy gratification and instant fulfillment but is it rewarding? When you think about the amount of time we spend staring at our cellphones or on the Internet deviling into and scoping out things and other peoples lives for momentary indulgence it stands to reason that our concept of food and eating has adopted these habits. The slow and rewarding process of learning a book from cover to cover or building something from its basic components has been lost to us. Immediate results, at hand knowledge and the need for on-the-spot contentedness has made us into fast fix junkies.

So now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk about creating something that takes time, forethought and some effort. Paella. The Valencian dish that some see as a task while others see as a meld of cultures. The word itself means pan. In this world what is simpler than bringing into existence a meal that encompasses meat, chicken, shellfish and rice all in one pan? Doesn’t that feed our need of immediacy and simplicity?

Paella, stews, soups and casseroles fill that voguish need for everything but in a traditional and satisfying dish that takes time to create.

This one is a simple take on the traditional. Assembled for 4 people and cooked on my #BGE over hardwood. Inside is good but outside adds that smoky kiss and sends a salute to Bacchus.

Needs:

1 Chicken breast or 4 thighs (or combination of both) cut into 8 pieces of equal size

1/8-cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo sausages cut to same size as chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish

½ can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed

Or 8 small cherry tomatoes diced

2 cups short grain Spanish rice

2 cups water, warm

1 cup white wine

Generous pinch saffron threads

8 scrubbed littleneck or pasta clams

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 handful of sweet peas fresh or frozen and thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Special equipment:

12-inch Cast iron fry pan or your outdoor pan. This works in this size pan, anything smaller will overflow.

Chicken rub:

1-tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1-tablespoon onion powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to preference

How:

Rub the spice mix all over the cut chicken, cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so to incorporate the flavours.

Outside, get your grill (charcoal or gas) ready with a medium heat.

Heat oil in your pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo to the oil in the pan and sauté. If you are using cooked chorizo, you’re just browning it. If it is raw you are cooking till ¾ done. Remove your sausage and add the chicken skin side down to the oil and now chorizo-seasoned pan. Brown the chicken on all sides till ¾ cooked. The chicken and chorizo will finish cooking when the paella is assembled in the hot pan. Salt and pepper to your needs. Remove from pan and reserve.

Now using the same pan make a sofrito (fancy word) by sautéing the onions, garlic, and parsley on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes stirring occasionally to get the onions translucent. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture comes together and the flavors unite. 2 or 3 minutes should do. Add your rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. You will see them start to give up their hard pale colour. Pour in wine and stir to coat all the rice. About a minute. Add the water and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Distribute the chicken and chorizo evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle the saffron over the entire contents of the pan. Add the clams tucking them into the rice hinge side down. This way you will see them open and cooked . Give the pan a good shake and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. No stirring from here on. Check the rice for al dente during the last minutes of cooking, when your rice is fluffing up and beginning to take over the pan, tuck in the shrimp as you did the clams. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. When you’re shrimp is pink, you’re clams are opened and you’ve checked the rice by sampling it, turn up the heat on your grill for 1 minute. You should be able to smell the rice on the bottom toasting.

Now take off the heat and let it rest, covered with foil for 5 minutes. Add your peas and parsley and tuck your lemon wedges into your creation.

Pull any unopened clams from the paella and discard.

It’s best and easiest to serve this family style in the pan in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.

Scott’s notes:

In traditional paella the rice on the bottom toasts and firms up. You can impress your friends by telling them it’s called the socarrat.

Make sure the shrimp and clam count matches your family and feeders. You want everyone to have an equal portion.

If you want to serve a gathering, double up the recipe and use a bigger pan.

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait

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“Reality is frequently inaccurate.” ― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

What's for dinner when there's nothing to cook!

What’s for dinner when there’s nothing to cook!

So the cupboards are bare after the holidays. That’s a good thing. But not tonight! It’s -20c with the wind chill and I’m not going out. Too damn cold.

I have sausage meat, pasta, and various canned products. So fire up the BGE and let’s see what happens.

Canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, and the ground sausage and we have a sauce for the penne to bake on the BGE. A little flour, yeast, and water and we have a loaf for the cast iron pan. With a little imagination you can take what you have and create something from scratch without a lot of effort. Taking a look around made the bread into a garlic and onion loaf. A little left over red wine in the sauce and with parmesan rind to cream it out and dinner is served.

The idea is not to be spectacular every time but to add a little creativity, thought, and imagination. Although the sauce was made inside, (-20c outside just to remind you) the pasta and bread was baked outside to add a little smoke, flavor, and love.

We’ve all seen chopped and Iron Chef and the black box concept. Sometime you just need to look in the freezer and pantry to come up with something. Use your imagination! Substitute! Change it up and see what happens. Recipes are guidelines and are not carved in stone. The cooking police will not show up at your door and you might just find a new creation to add to your arsenal!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Baby it's cold outside!

Baby it’s cold outside!

 

There's nothing better than fresh baked bread!

There’s nothing better than fresh baked bread!

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.” Paul Bryant

So thinking outside the kitchen, and in turn sacrificing one of my indoor cast iron pots I decided to make #beefstew on my #BGE #BigGreenEgg.   Incorporating smoke with the flavor of the beef and sauce was one of the best things I’ve ever attempted.

I marinated the beef in beer with fresh rosemary overnight. Patted dry, floured, seasoned, and seared in my cast iron over the fire with hickory smoking away below. Since I was using the Egg, I left the lid off the pot because closing the lid on the Egg had the same effect and allowed the smoke to permeate the flavor. I removed the beef and sautéed the onions in the juices from the beef and then reunited them with more beer and some beef stock. At the halfway mark I joined the union of flavours with peas, potatoes, and carrots. When we were about 15 minutes away from completion, I add my dumplings to cook in the broth.

The comments from the trolls that live with me? This is the best stew we’ve ever had. I have to say I’m really proud of this one. The hickory smoke add to the overall experience of the stew and mixed with the rosemary background in the meat gave it another dimension.

My pot will survive and is now destined for use on the #BGE all the time.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Beer marinated beef and rosemary

Beer marinated beef and rosemary

Everyone into the pool! You too dumplings!

Everyone into the pool! You too dumplings!

Pretty tasty stew!

Pretty tasty stew!

“Life is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have a half a one for breakfast.” Douglas Adams

So you sit and wait, and wait, and wait.  No matter how much of yourself you put into something and take a personal stake in it, it seems you always end up waiting for others to act. There seems to be this pause in the universe that puts a hold on things and makes you ponder your actions. What’s it for? Why can’t we just get on with things? What’s the hold up?

The rain in Toronto put a damper on my efforts to do a Lobster Mac on the grill. A little rain doesn’t usually hamper me but that was ridiculous. We’re still drying out! Needless to say the Mac went in the oven against my better judgment.

So I realize that I’ve been slow to post but once again life threw a wrench in my direction. No complaints just waiting for stuff to happen.

I’m still working on the presentation for Masterchef Canada? I have an idea and am working on a plan. The biggest question? Do I wear my kilt? Do I go for the spectacle? It’s 30 days till the audition and I’m in 2nd gear. 3rd and 4th gear are in hand but still to come.

The backyard has had a few meals go through it. Here are a few images of what’s happened on my deck.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Wet time, Summer in the City. My backyard grills get wet.... well wetter!

Wet time, Summer in the City. My backyard grills get wet…. well wetter!

Trying to get through that bottle of Maple flavoured Rye!

Trying to get through that bottle of Maple flavoured Rye!

Took it inside. I don't mind a little rain, but I look bad when I'm drenched!  Really bad!

Took it inside. I don’t mind a little rain, but I look bad when I’m drenched! Really bad!

Garam masala rubbed Mutton with curried rice

Garam masala rubbed Mutton with curried rice

“There’s no straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends” Harry Chapin

“There’s no straight lines make up my life; And all my roads have bends;

There’s no clear-cut beginnings;  And so far no dead-ends.”   Circle (Harry Chapin)

This lyric has permeated my mind for the past year. The way people and things from my past keep reoccurring in my life. Since I have had the last 12 months to analyze myself and the world, I have come to the conclusion that I’m happy. Things haven’t gone as planned. But whose do. You’re dealt cards that you have to try and make sense of. You plan your hand, and then someone pulls from the bottom of the deck. It’s not your fault how your hand plays out. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But the point is to stay at the table and handle your cards as best you can.

I started #TheArtisanalGrill as an outlet for my cooking and my thoughts.  Its growth has been organic. Simple quotes, alternative methods of cooking conventional meals, and twists on life and the world.

So now comes the next step; Last night I met with one of my high school English teachers. Neil is the Editor of The Bluffs Advocate, a local community newspaper in south east Toronto. We’ve had discussions over the past month regarding me contributing a BBQ piece for the summer edition.  Exciting, yes, scary, yes, fun, absolutely!

The images below are from the Official Launch Party they held @DoraKeogh last night.  Music, beer, and laughs filled the popular Irish pub.

Back to talking about food!

Tonight; Meatloaf on the BGE

Be well and eat well

Scott

Dora Keogh

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Bluffs Advocate Launch Party

Neil Walker and Jim McQueen

Medicine Line

Medicine Line

Medicine LineParty people

The Griller and his lady

The Griller and his lady

 

 

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” #Mary Manin Morrissey

Where does faith lie? In others? In yourself?  In a 1000 year old doctrine? Everybody has their own view. Mine lies in knowledge. The knowledge that you are doing your best. The knowledge that all the decisions that you have made to this point, right or wrong, have brought you to where you are now. Your path has been decided by them. You have become who you are because of them.

Hope and faith are different. I see hope as waiting for others and the universe to say, “Hey, this guy needs some help.”  Faith is being secure that the path taken will get you to the destination you seek.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”#RobertFrost @famousquotes

Food.  The ritual of the choices, the prep, the completion, and the taste have been steadfast in my life over the past year. Satisfaction and pride help wash always the troubles of the world.

So let me tell you about my #TeaSmokedChicken Thighs.

Tea is a wonderful addition to smoke. A little oak wood as a base with oolong in a smoke pouch  to add sweetness ups the flavor game to a new level. I use the sniff test before I place any food on the smoker. Hardwood and wood can give off an acrid smell when first lit. I wait till I’m happy with how it smells before I introduce any food to it. After all, if it smells sweet, the smoke will be sweet. If it smells like crap, well?

The thighs were marinated for 3 hours in a mixture of cold oolong tea, soya, honey, and lime zest. Patted dry and placed on the #BGE for some loving slow heat.  When they were halfway through, sliced fennel and red onion were placed beside them on the grill to caramelize.  I saved some of the unused marinade, heated and soaked udon noodles in the broth to loosen them. The fennel and onions were then sliced and added to the noodles. Just before I took off the chicken I glazed with honey and and ginger.

Sweet, smoky, and tasty!

Be well and eat well

Scott

Oolong tea smoked chicken on udon noodles

Oolong tea smoked chicken on udon noodles

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” Tennessee Williams

Hello again. Hope all had a great weekend. Mine was full thus the absence of posts. Family, friends and stuff prevailed.

Today I had beers with an old friend. Neil was an English teacher in my high school. Though I never had him as a teacher, we became good friends through our appreciation of photography.  Sometimes it’s funny how life pulls people from your past back into the present.  Really, have you ever wondered why things happen? Are they on purpose? Is it to ground you again? Is there a life lesson that is needed? Or is it just coincidence? It’s probably a combination of all but sometimes it leaves you wondering?  Names, times, events all came rushing back and reminded me of where I had come from and left me proud of where I am. Thanks Neil!

Turkey thighs! No I’m not insulting someone; I prepared my favourite cut of the bird on the grill. Thighs (turkey or chicken) have the best taste and moistness of the bird. Dark meat rules! All the emphasis on white and the breast pales in comparison to the flavor that’s imparted from the thighs. So if you were guessing, I admit, I’m a thigh man!

Garlic and Chilli grilled Turkey thighs with Kale chips and roasted beets.  The chips and beets were dressed with a chèvre mayo. Yes I said chèvre mayo with chives.  It was wonderful.  I brought the goat cheese to room temperature and blended the mayo into it with chives, garlic, and salt and pepper ahead of time and let it cool down in the fridge.

The thighs were marinated in chilli powder, garlic, olive oil, and pepper for 4 hours to marry the the flavours. Just before I took them off the BGE I glazed with some honey for a little sweet to the pepper.

Troll rating 8 out of 10.

Be well and eat well.

Scott

Yup! I'm a thigh man!

Yup! I’m a thigh man!

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs

What a beautiful day. Sun, warmth, and hope for new directions. Yes I said hope. I haven’t been a fan of hope. I believed it handcuffs people from action and taking forward steps.  I’ve decided to open up to the idea that #hope is a good thing.

So I have 12 hours of #Doctor Who being recorded and no idea of what to do for dinner.

Last night was Lamb meatloaf with mint yogurt sauce, grilled corn and almond and maple pinwheels with ice cream for dessert.

Have good BBQ this weekend!

Scott

Lamb meatloaf with yogurt mint sauce. Don't tell the adopted troll she ate lamb!

Lamb meatloaf with yogurt mint sauce. Don’t tell the adopted troll she ate lamb!

Fun with puff pastry

Fun with puff pastry