Monday, May 14, 2012

Flank Steak, Baked Vidalias

Seems you never stop learning and some times it is re-learning as was the case with cooking my Mom's day meal. I knew there was a reason I had stopped buying Flank Steak many years ago and it was simply that, I don't like them. It's a tough piece of beef at best - beefy and tasty for sure, but tough. I know a lot of people like them and even see them used for fajitas a lot and that's even worst as Fajitas and all Authentic Mexican dishes are never good if the meat is rare and you just don't want your Flank Steak to be well done. The leftover steak will be chopped and fried for steak tacos as that is the only use for this meat I can live with. With plenty of time on my hands, I decided to foil bake the potatoes and followed my procedure for that by pricking them with a sharp tined fork all over after scrubbing, then oiled them with evoo and covered them with a couple of tablespoons of kosher salt before wrapping and baking for an hour and fourty minutes in a 350 degree oven. We usually nuke these and it had been so long since baking them properly in the oven we had forgotten how much better they are this way. I started the salad by pulverizing 3 garlic cloves into some salt in the bottom of a wood salad bowl and added 1/4 cup olive oil, tbs of dijon, tbs of wine vinegar, before tossing the mixed greens. The onions were outstanding and we usually wrap them whole with butter in the center and found out that is the wrong way to bake them - they are much better sliced and inch thick and grilled or baked with oil and butter to brush on them as they cook. By cooking them this way rather than in foil you can better judge when they are done. Sour cream yeast rolls were made the day before and baked again and the meal was served with a Shrimp Coctail. Desert was home made Lemon Ice Box Pie Ice Cream that has become our favorite of all Ice Cream.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Grilled / Smoked Chicken

There are 3 types of grilled chicken - VERY GOOD, SO SO, AND BAD. These two whole "all natural" Tyson birds (which I halved) happened to fall into the VERY GOOD category, much to my surprise. I have always believed that it is all the little "extras" you do when cooking anything that makes the difference so I try to always brine my chicken the day before and air dry them in the fridge overnight. This time however due to a busy day working outside, I skipped the brine step. While the smoker / grill was heating up, I mixed several tbs of Five Spice into little room temp butter and let it get hard in the freezer to insert under the skin on the thighs and breast. Seasoned the bird on both sides and popped them into a 325 degree cooker for about 1 hour on the skin side before turning them over to cook another 30 min or so to an internal breast temp of about 165 - 170. I don't think they got much over the 170 while resting with a foil cover in a pan before we made the pictures and they were done to perfection. Which brings to mind another thing I have always believed held true when grilling and even cooking great BBQ, which is that, cooking to the perfect finished temp, is one of the main ingredients.
I thought a few Stuffed and Wrapped Jalapenos and Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots would be good with the chicken and of course they are good with anything or all by themselves. These were mild peppers and they have to be for us to enjoy them even though I consider myself a pepperhead. The Tots are tricky and you have to let them thaw in order to get a toothpick threw them and you also have to make sure the bacon reaches completely around them as the bacon is what holds them together while they cook, the toothpick just holds the bacon.
I have very fond memories of the Lemon Icebox Pies from my youth when my Mom made them on a regular basis but not so often that they were taken for granted. They were always great and the taste deserving of top spot in the special treat category. Head over heals into using our new ice cream maker to make our own special recipes of ice cream, I was looking through the Southern Living magazine and saw this recipe and immediately knew it was the next recipe we would try. Glad I did because I was and still am shocked it actually taste just like the pie. If you love this pie, you absolutely have to try this ice cream.