Chef P’s Smoked Swineapple


I’ve gotten a lot of messages and emails this year, asking me when I was going to get around to trying out the big fad recipe of 2016, the infamous “Amazing Swineapple” (A Frankensteinian flavor bomb of a pork-stuffed fresh pineapple wrapped in bacon!)

Well, as I promised to do my own take on it before the year is over, AND today just happens to be National Bacon Day, here we go…

I used our Burnin’ Love Pork Rub recipe, and my go to Yoshida’s Original sauce. I also decided to precook the pork, both for safety reasons, and to get some smoke and char into the flavor profile. It also makes the whole thing WAY quicker to cook, which gives you a better consistency on the pineapple.

Ingredients for Swineapple
1 Large Pineapple (the larger the better)
1 lb. of good quality, thin sliced, bacon (I like the “low sodium” for this recipe)
5/6 Boneless Pork Ribs (Picnic cut, from the shoulder)
Burnin’ Love Pork Rub (see recipe here)
Yoshida’s Original Sauce

Rubbed pork ribs for swineapple
Rub pork ribs with seasoning and refrigerate overnight in a zip bag. Remove to counter one hour before you plan to start cooking.

Grilling ribs for Swineapple
Grill ribs over direct high heat on well seared on all sides, but not overcooked (1-2 minutes per side). Brush with sauce as you turn each side.

Heat your smoker to 250F.

Coring pineapple for Smoked Swineapple recipe
Slice the rind off of the pineapple, cut off one end (do not discard) and carefully core out the center leaving an outer edge approx 1 inch thick.

Coring pineapple for Smoked Swineapple recipe
Stuff the pineapple with the pork ribs, packing them in tight.

Smoked Swineapple recipe
Carefully position the pineapple end you saved earlier back onto the end of the pineapple, securing with toothpicks.
MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

IMG_2842 (1024x768)
Create a “bacon weave” (see instructions here)

acon weave wrapped swineapple
Wrap the pineapple with bacon weave, and pinning in place with toothpicks. Sprinkle exterior generously with more rub.

Bacon weave wrapped swineapple
Place in the pre-heated smoker for 3 hours.

Bacon weave wrapped swineapple
When the smoked swineapple is finished remove all of the toothpicks, remove the top, slice and serve immediately.

Bacon weave wrapped swineapple
This is great over some simple white rice!

Chef Perry

Bacon weave wrapped swineapple

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Whole Hog: Live weight vs. Hanging Weight

Whole hog hanging weight



La Caja China Cooking reader, Fr. Bill, asks:

Chef Perry, in your article, “How much pig do I need to serve X number of people?“, your weight of 1/2 pound per person is based on the butchered, ready-to-go-in-the-box pig, correct? How much loss do you figure from live pig to dressed pig (i.e., if you want 70 pounds of meat to go in the box, how big a live pig to you order?

Thanks, Fr. Bill



MY RESPONSE:

Fr. Bill, sorry for the delay, I’ve been away from my desk, cooking for the evacuee camp for the Eagle Creek Fire for the last couple of weeks, and I’m still digging through a mountain of emails, lol.

Yes, my 1/2 per serving is based on uncooked “ready for the box” hanging weight.

Common consensus is that hanging (or dressed) weight is about 72% of live weight. So, for a 70lb (raw weight) carcass, you’re looking at around 100# pig, live on the hoof. Personally, I’d bump that up to around 120#, to account for variables in body length, bone density etc., (plus – I like left-overs!) 😉

Hope that helps…Let me know how it goes!

Chef Perry
Author
La Caja China Cooking
La Caja China World
La Caja China Party!
La Caja China Grill

Whole hog dressed weight

                            Happiness in your name on a pig’s butt…

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Take your Grill Skill from Tragic to Magic!

La Caja China GrillTake your grill skill from tragic to Magic!

La Caja China Grill provides the roasting box owner with detailed instructions for both direct and indirect grilling, specifically on the “top grills” of the Cuban–style pig-roasting boxes and Cajun Microwaves, whose popularity have exploded with their exposure on Food Television, and with cooks and chefs like Bobby Flay, Andrew Zimmern, and Martha Stewart.

Perkins, a professional chef and cookbook author, provides tip on charcoal types, the proper amounts to use for each recipe, what woods provide the best smoke for specific ingredients, and even the best wine pairings for various grilled dishes, in the all-inclusive guide to grilling on the “magic box.”

And, of course, there are the recipes…

More than 70 delicious beef, pork, poultry, fish, and vegetable entrees for the grill, as well as sides, sauces, rubs, and everything the grill-master needs for the perfect flame-kissed meal.

All recipes are fully illustrated, and many provide web-links to additional cooking tips, definitions, and how-to videos.

There’s still plenty of summer left to oil up those grills, fire up the coals…and make some magic!

Sample Recipe:

Grilled Pork Chop on La Caja China

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thick Cut Chops with Basil-Garlic Rub

  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops, ¾-in
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sal
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mince garlic in food processor to mince.

Add fresh basil, lemon juice, oil, salt, and pepper and process to make a thin wet rub.

Spread both sides of pork chops with basil mixture.  Let stand 15 to 30 minutes.

Prepare 1 load of charcoal in a chimney starter, when coals are uniformly grey and glowing, spread them beneath the oiled Top Grill(s) for two zone grilling, immediately prepare a second load of coals.

If grilling while food is roasting inside the box, start and spread the coals as directed for the interior recipe, and simply add the Top Grill(s) over them.

Grill chops, over direct heat, turning once, to medium rare doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, followed by a 5-minute rest.

ORDER YOUR COPY OF “LA CAJA CHINA GRILL” ON AMAZON.COM

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Amazing way to Grill a BUNCH of Shrimp Quick & Easy

Easy Grilled Shrimp



So, I needed to grill up a whole mess of shrimp appetizers (recipe below) for a cook-out yesterday. While shopping I found these kabob baskets on a clearance shelf fro $3 each (normally about $10 for a set of two on Amazon), and had an epiphany.

What I don’t like about grilling shrimp kabobs:

It takes up a lot of grill space.

  • You’re constantly turning and keeping an eye on a lot of individual pieces of shrimp.
  • I always forget to soak my skewers long enough.
  • Served on the skewer (the way I like) can leave for sooty fingers, which my clients aren’t wild about.

What I like about shrimp kabobs:

  • They’re awesome.
  • They’re easy to eat.
  • They help with portion control (ie: everyone gets some, without breaking the bank on shrimp gluttons!)

So, I had a thought…what if I grilled up a bunch of these beauties at a time, and THEN added them to the skewers for serving. Problem: now instead of a dozen or two skewers to keep track ff, I have a couple of hundred individual shrimp to keep turning and moving…and quickly! Shrimp will overcook or burn quicker than it takes to say, “Oh, S***!” Especially when marinated with an oil or alcohol base.

The solution? The kabob basket!

Kabob basket for grilling shrimp

I loaded 40 large shrimp per basket, set them on the grill, and cooked about 2 minutes per side, flipping baskets (40 servings at a time) just three time each.

The best way to grill a lot of shrimp

Photo by Kristen Renner

Open the baskets, a quick flip of the wrist, and all the shrimp were in the bowl ready to skewer!

Grilling shrimp with a kabob basket

Photo by Kristen Renner

The result? Enough appetizers to keep the whole crowd happy, in less than 20 minutes, AND I was able to work on other dishes at the same time!



Then, just pop a couple of the en of each clean skewer, spritz with some lemon juice, and sprinkle the whole platter with chopped parsley.

I will NEVER grill shrimp any other way again!

Chef Perry

If you like what I’m posting, please share! If you love what I’m posting, and want to help me feed the hungry, and teach at-risk and special needs kids to cook for themselves, please consider becoming a patron at my Patreon page!

Shrimp Salmoriglio
Serves 40 (2 skewers each)

  • 1/2 cup salted capers
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 6 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • 150 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Salt to taste
  • Lemon juice for spritzing
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced

On a cutting board, finely chop the drained capers with the oregano leaves and garlic. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, along with the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season the sauce with pepper.

Place shrimp in a large zip bag, pour in the marinade, seals and toss to coat. Let rest in the fridge 2-8 hours.

1 hours before grilling, remove from fridge and let sit on counter.

Light a grill, coals, etc

Drain the shrimp, and load as many as will fit into each kabob box, without packing them too tightly. Close the box.

Grill over high heat, turning once per side, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove the shrimp from the box and transfer them to a platter (or a bowl, if you’re going to skewer them, 2-3 per skewer). Sprinkle more pepper on on top (optional), a healthy handful of minced parsley, and serve.

Home Chef Note: You could easily change this up to a great “South of the Border” version, by swapping the capers an basil for chili powder and minced jalapenos, limes for the lemons, and cilantro instead of parsley!

Mexican grilled shrimp

 

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Filed under Appetizers & Sides, Hardware, Accessories & Add Ons

A little BBQ humor (sort of…)

BBQ Humor

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Pulled Pork Tamales with Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce for Cinco de Mayo

Pulled Pork Tamales




This idea just popped into my head a few weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to shake it.

Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore and went shopping. I smoked my pork shoulder the day before in my La Caja China #3, using apple wood.

Turned out…very nice.

Slow Smoked Pork Shoulder

7 lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preparation:

Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Pulled Pork Tamales

Finish butterflying the shoulder (along the cut the butcher made while removing the bone) and rub all surfaces of the pork with the dry rub.

Pulled Pork Tamales with Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce

Roll the pork back up, tie with kitchen string, and season the outside.

In a standard smoker, pork shoulder cook time can be figured at approximately 1.5 hours per pound, so an 8 pound shoulder will require about 12 hours in the smoker at 225. (The Caja will require significantly less time, see my post, here, for roasting instructions.)

Pulled Pork Tamales

For more of Chef Perry’s La Caja China Cooking recipes, check out his cookbooks at:

www.perryperkinsbooks.com

I like to smoke mine to an internal temp of around 140 (about half the cook time – be sure to use a good probe thermometer), baste with a mixture of 1/2 barbeque sauce and 1/2 cider vinegar, wrap in foil, and slip it into a 225 degree oven to finish. Pull it from the Caja or oven when them internal meat temp reached 200 degrees, not a minute earlier.

Pulled Pork Tamales

Allow the roast to rest, tented loosely in foil for about an hour, pull or chop the meat, and toss with another cup of bbq sauce/vinegar mixture and salt, to taste. You may use it to assemble your tamales now, or refrigerate in up to 3 days.



Pulled Pork Tamales

To assemble the tamales, you’ll need:

4 C MaSeCa Instant Corn Masa Mix
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 C corn oil
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 package of corn husks
2 cups pulled pork, cooled

You can follow this simple video…

Southwestern Bernaise Sauce

Southwestern Béarnaise Sauce

Béarnaise is a sauce made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks and flavored with herbs. It is considered to be a ‘child’ of the mother Hollandaise sauce, one[2] of the five sauces in the French haute cuisine mother sauce repertoire. The difference is only in their flavoring: Béarnaise uses shallot, chervil, peppercorn, and tarragon, while Hollandaise uses lemon juice.

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon leaves
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
3 egg yolks
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp dry rub
1 sm can diced green chilies

In a small saucepan, combine the tarragon, shallots, vinegar and wine over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced by half. Remove this reduction from heat and set aside to cool.

Blend yolks and béarnaise reduction together. With the blender running, add 1/3 of the butter in a slow steady stream. Once it emulsifies, turn the blender speed up to high and add the remaining butter. Season with dry rub, fold in the green chilies, and set aside in a warm spot until ready to spoon over the finished (and peeled) tamales.

We also made a yellow sriracha sauce recipe that my friend Patti shared with me.

Sriracha is the name for a Thai hot sauce named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of central Thailand, where it was first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants. It is a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Sriracha is a common condiment in many Asian restaurants and increasingly found in American and European homes.

It is also known as rooster sauce because of the rooster featured on its label. Typically a very hot red sauce, this is a milder version using yellow peppers.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk kids, in our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program.

 

Personally, I liked it even better with the tamales than the Southwester Béarnaise…unfortunately, I was too busy eating to get pictures of the two together.

Here’s the recipe, tho’…

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

3 1/2 cups yellow bell
1/2 cup chopped hot yellow peppers
10 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
2 Tbs light brown sugar

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

Chop the chilies and place in a bowl. Add garlic, salt & vinegar. Cover and let set on the counter overnight or 8 hours.

In the morning, remove peppers & garlic from bowl and place in saucepan. Add 1 cup of the vinegar mixture, 1/2 cup of water and the 2 Tbs of sugar.

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

You can add more vinegar if you want it more tart and a thin sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer  for 5 min. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Yellow Sriracha Sauce

Puree until smooth.

If you love this recipe, please share it!

Also, you can open the “print friendly” version of this recipe, by clicking here.

My work being inspected…

Yellow Sriracha Sauce




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Filed under In The Box Recipes, Off The Grill, Theme Parties

Last Day to Save 20% on Caja Cooking Books

La Caja China Cookbooks
This is it! Today is the last day to get in on the Direct from the Publisher 20% Discount on all previous La Caja China Cooking titles! That’s right, this is your chance to save big and complete your collection of magic box recipes, tips, and tricks from a professional chef and roasting box pro, me!

La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party…all 20% off their regular price!

But…it ends tonight at midnight!

Just use the links below to select your titles, and then use discount code: MUFRQDBX. Lastly, join us for a special one-day-only launch discount on La Caja China Grill, on April 29th.

Let’s make some magic with the magic box!

~ Chef Perry

La Caja China CookingLa Caja China Cooking
La Caja China, the Cuban roasting box, has become the toast of foodwriters and celebrity gourmets, including Food Network’s THROWDOWN Chef, Bobby Flay.

“La Caja China Cooking” takes you on a gastronomic tourof America, from Miami’s classic Cuban dishes, to traditional Texas andCarolina BBQ, to the crisp, fresh flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Perkins includes grill-top favorites, amazing side dishes, and step-by-stepCaja China instructions for “in-the-box” crowd-pleasers like:

~ True Texas Brisket
~ Pacific Northwest Salmon
~ Southern Roast Turkey
~ Carolina Pork Ribs
~ Memphis Whole Pickin’ Pig

So, fire up the coals, pick your favorite recipe, and dazzle your guests with these simple, yet mouth-watering dishes. Wonderful things canhappen when you think inside the box!

La Caja China WorldLa Caja China World
La Caja China, the Cuban roasting box, has become the toast of food writers and celebrity gourmets, including Food Network’s THROWDOWN Chef, Bobby Flay.

In La Caja China Cooking: The Secret to Perfect Roasting, we took a gastronomic tour of America.

With this new collection of recipes, your La Caja China becomes a magic carpet, allowing you to take your friends and family to the far corners of the world, and experience the delicious wonders waiting for you there!

In every culture and country that we researched in gathering this collection, we found people who enjoyed gathering together with loved ones, lighting a fire, cooking meat over it (or under it), and eating together. Not coincidentally, we think, these folks shared a common passion for life and laughter, as well.

In La Caja China World, we invite your taste buds to join us on a globe-trotting adventure with dishes like:

Grilled Tri-Tip & Chimichurri in Argentina
Whole Roast Pig & Coconut Rice in Bali
Roast lamb & Potatoes in Greece
Beef Short Ribs & Scallion Salad in Korea
Christmas Goose in Sweden

If you’re looking to roast, grill, bake, braise, smoke, or barbecue; whether you’re cooking for a hungry crowd, or creating memories with your family – look no further than La Caja China World!

La Caja China PartyLa Caja China Party
Chef-tested and fully-illustrated party themes. Insider tips and tricks, and over 80 bbq, grilling, side-dish, and drink recipes for the La Caja China roasting box! Themes include:

~Big Island Luau
~A Night in Havana
~Cinco de Mayo ~ La Caja China Style
~Beach Party Clambake!
~A Fantastic 4th of July
~Ultimate Tailgate Party
~Labor Day
~Big Family Thanksgiving
~Opa! A Greek Feast
~Good Old Southern Pig Pickin’
~A Mexican Fiesta
~Moroccan Festival
~A Caja Christmas Party

Make it an event with the Magic Box!

20% Discount Code: MUFRQDBX

La Caja China Cookbooks

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20% Discount on Previous La Caja China Cookbooks – 5 Days Only

La Caja China Cookbooks
Hey Boys and Girls,

Just 5 more days until the new, “La Caja China Grill” releases, and I’ve got a present for you…

From now, until Midnight on April 28th, I’m offering a Direct from the Publisher 20% Discount on all previous La Caja China Cooking titles! That’s right, this is your chance to save big and complete your collection of magic box recipes, tips, and tricks from a professional chef and roasting box pro, me!

La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party…all 20% off their regular price!

Just use the links below to select your titles, and then use discount code: MUFRQDBX. Lastly, join us for a special one-day-only launch discount on La Caja China Grill, on April 29th.

Let’s make some magic with the magic box!

~ Chef Perry

La Caja China CookingLa Caja China Cooking
La Caja China, the Cuban roasting box, has become the toast of foodwriters and celebrity gourmets, including Food Network’s THROWDOWN Chef, Bobby Flay.

“La Caja China Cooking” takes you on a gastronomic tourof America, from Miami’s classic Cuban dishes, to traditional Texas andCarolina BBQ, to the crisp, fresh flavors of the Pacific Northwest. Perkins includes grill-top favorites, amazing side dishes, and step-by-stepCaja China instructions for “in-the-box” crowd-pleasers like:

~ True Texas Brisket
~ Pacific Northwest Salmon
~ Southern Roast Turkey
~ Carolina Pork Ribs
~ Memphis Whole Pickin’ Pig

So, fire up the coals, pick your favorite recipe, and dazzle your guests with these simple, yet mouth-watering dishes. Wonderful things canhappen when you think inside the box!

La Caja China WorldLa Caja China World
La Caja China, the Cuban roasting box, has become the toast of food writers and celebrity gourmets, including Food Network’s THROWDOWN Chef, Bobby Flay.
 
In La Caja China Cooking: The Secret to Perfect Roasting, we took a gastronomic tour of America.  
 
With this new collection of recipes, your La Caja China becomes a magic carpet, allowing you to take your friends and family to the far corners of the world, and experience the delicious wonders waiting for you there!  
 
In every culture and country that we researched in gathering this collection, we found people who enjoyed gathering together with loved ones, lighting a fire, cooking meat over it (or under it), and eating together.   Not coincidentally, we think, these folks shared a common passion for life and laughter, as well.
 
In La Caja China World, we invite your taste buds to join us on a globe-trotting adventure with dishes like:
 
Grilled Tri-Tip & Chimichurri in Argentina
Whole Roast Pig & Coconut Rice in Bali
Roast lamb & Potatoes in Greece
Beef Short Ribs & Scallion Salad in Korea
Christmas Goose in Sweden
 
If you’re looking to roast, grill, bake, braise, smoke, or barbecue; whether you’re cooking for a hungry crowd, or creating memories with your family – look no further than La Caja China World!

La Caja China PartyLa Caja China Party
Chef-tested and fully-illustrated party themes.   Insider tips and tricks, and over 80 bbq, grilling, side-dish, and drink recipes for the La Caja China roasting box! Themes include:

~Big Island Luau
~A Night in Havana
~Cinco de Mayo ~ La Caja China Style
~Beach Party Clambake!
~A Fantastic 4th of July
~Ultimate Tailgate Party
~Labor Day
~Big Family Thanksgiving
~Opa! A Greek Feast
~Good Old Southern Pig Pickin’
~A Mexican Fiesta
~Moroccan Festival
~A Caja Christmas Party

Make it an event with the Magic Box!

20% Discount Code: MUFRQDBX

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Bastille Day BBQ : Leg of Lamb and Grilled Ratatouille

Lamb on La Caja China

Bastille Day is the name given in English-speaking countries to the French National Day, which is celebrated on the 14th of July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly Le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July).

It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. (Thank you Wikipedia.)

So, in honor of Bastille Day, I will lay aside my usual witty jabs and cheap shots at the French, and offer up two of my favorite french-inspired grill dishes for your outdoor cooking pleasure. So, have some wine, smoke a cigarette, eat some brie, hug a socialist…but whatever you do, enjoy!

And to the country that has, admittedly, given the world some of its finest food and finest Chefs, I say…Vive la France!

Grilled leg of lamb on La Caja China

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Serves 8-10

The only way to eat lamb is medium rare or rare. That’s first. If you don’t like that, stop reading here and look for another recipe. Please, please, please DO NOT ruin this beautiful piece of meat, but cooking to “medium well” or “well done” both of which are oxymorons.

Now, if you’re still with us…awesome! Let’s grill!

We’re going to sear the lamb first, on both sides, briefly, and directly over high heat, then move it over to indirect (lower) heat until it’s cooked through. In our opinion.

To cook this lamb perfectly, you gotta use a meat thermometer to track the internal temperature of the roast. No questions, you just gotta.

So…the lamb:

1 boneless leg of lamb, 5 to 6 pounds, butterflied
1 medium sweet onion
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/4 cup herbs de provence*
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup beef stock or broth
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt (coarse) and fresh ground black pepper

*Herbs de Provence – a mixture of dried herbs which can be found on most spice aisles, or you can make you own by combining:
4 teaspoon thyme
4 teaspoon summer savory
2 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon rosemary
2 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon sage

Combine sweet onion, garlic, herbs de provence, beef stock, lemon zest, vinegar, and olive oil into a food processor and pulse to combine.

Sprinkle a fist-full salt and pepper over the lamb. Put the lamb into a gallon freezer bag, pour in the marinade, and massage it into every nook and cranny of the roast. Seal ‘er up, and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, or overnight.

Remove the meat from your refrigerator and set it in one counter (still in the bag) for about an house, to come to room temperature.

Now, we’re ready to grill!

Remove the leg from the bag, and run a couple of long skewers through it to use as handles when flipping (you’ll lose less of that yummy coating than if you used tongs, and, of course, you wouldn’t DREAM of stabbing it with a meat fork…right…RIGHT?)

Prepping coals for La Caja ChinaIf you’re are using a charcoal grill, or a La Caja China (pictured) start your coals in a chimney, and pour them into a double layer on one half of the cooking area (right or left) and just sprinkle a few on the other side. This is a “2-Zone Fire”.

For gas grills, crank that sucker up up as high as she’ll go on all burners, and when she’s good and hot, turn one side off. Toss three or four chunks of soaked oak on the coals, or start some oak chips smoking in a smoker box on your gas grill.

If you don’t have any oak, no biggie, but it does add a nice, mellow flavor to lamb.

Set the lamb, fat-cap down, on the hot side of the grill. You’re going to get some flames, and that’s okay (that’s what we like to call “the flavor”) You might want to have a squirt bottle of water or beer handy, to control the flames if needed.

Grill it hot on one side for about four minutes, then flip ‘er over to sear the other side for another 4 minutes. Then, move that little lamb to the indirect heat (cooler) side side of the grill.

Cover the grill and let cook for an additional 35-45 minutes (You want the cooking area to maintain at about 325-350°F.), until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 130°F (for medium rare).

I strongly suggest using a remote meat probe, so you don’t poke a bunch of holes it the poor thing before it’s done.

When done, move the roast to a cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Pull the skewers and toss.

Grilled leg of lamb on La Caja China

Slice the lamb across the grain, in half-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices slices on a warm platter (take it to the next level by covering the platter in a thick layer or hot buttery garlic mashed potatoes first) and pour the meat juices over the slices.

Serve with mint jelly or horseradish.

Leftovers make for a fantastic Bahn Mi sandwich!

Lamb Bahn Mi sandwich

 

grilled ratatouille

The Ratatouille

“Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious.” – Linguini

With all respect to Monsieur Linguini, while ratatouille may not sound delicious, it tastes freakin’ awesome, especially hot off the grill!

Ratatouille (pronounced rat-eh-too-ee) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise.

2 zucchini, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 yellow squash, cut into quarters lengthwise
2 red onions, quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
1/2 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Toss all veggies in a bowl with the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and coat well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Grill veggies, cut side down for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time. Remove the tomatoes, cover your grill, and cook the remaining vegetables for 2 more minutes, or until almost cooked through.

grilled ratatouille on la caja china

Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop (leave the tomatoes whole).

Put the chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Toss gently and serve.

Note: The leftovers, if you have any, are great the next morning over eggs scrambled with a little feta cheese!

 

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Sweet & Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates

Heyya Peeps!

Today, because I love you, I’m gonna share my numero-uno, all-time favorite, git ‘er done grilled apptizer…Sweet & Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates.

I make these fairly often and I’ve had lots of folks tell me that they “weren’t fans of” bleu cheeses, or dates, or both…but I’ve never had a single person, who tried one, not come back for more.

Not one. T

here’s something about this recipe that results in a final tidbit that is truely more than the sum of its parts. The three distinct flavors meld into something completely unique…and awesome.

And, c’mon…everything tastes better with bacon, right?

Be warned, we serve these babies while the pig or lamb is roasting, and they go fast!

Sweet & Savory Bacon Wrapped Dates

1 lb thick-sliced bacon, cut in half
1 lb pitted dates (small)
4 ounces gorgonzola cheese, or your favorite bleu.
32 toothpicks

Slice dates up one side, and open them up. Pinch off a marble-sized piece of cheese, and place it into the center of the date. Kitchen shears work great for this!

Close the halves of the dates, and wrap a half-slice of bacon around the outside, secure with a toothpick.

Lay a single sheet of foil over La Caja China grill grates, and add the wraps in a single layer. This keeps the dripping grease from starting an inferno. I usually cut a few small slits in the foil, and then cover everything with an inverted turkey pan to catch a little smoke flavor.

Oh, and a few apple wood-chips on the fire is mighty nice, too.

Grill until bacon starts to crisp, then flip each wrap over. I pair of long tongs is invaluable here.

When the second side is crisped, remove the whole rack to a platter lined with paper towels, allow to cool slightly, and then get the heck outta the way, ‘cause folks will trample you to get them!

– Perry

PS – If you’re one one those people who won’t grill just because there’s a little monsoon or blizzard activity outside (it’s okay, we still love you)…preheat your oven to 350, place a rack (like a cookie-cooling rack) on a foil-lined cookie sheet, arrange wraps evenly, and roast until bacon looks crispy.

Remove the whole rack to a platter lined with paper towels and cool 10-15 minutes before serving. Almost as good.

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