Thursday, September 12, 2019

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER BY COOKING ON A CHIMNEY STARTER

We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!
We are cooking on a chimney starter with a grill pan to nicely char our head of Cauliflower for this recipe!

A cousin to broccoli, #cauliflower is one of those vegetables that can be eaten raw or cooked and converted to so many different textures.  Best yet, cauliflower is one of those super cancer-fighting foods as it contains sulforaphane known to kill cancer stem cells.

I’ll be taking my head of cauliflower and introducing it to hot coals, first, direct heat using a #chimneystarter for the actual cooking and then directly on the hot coals to give it the perfect “meat” char.  No matter what color you enjoy – white, yellow, purple – grab a head and get your chimney starter ready, as I show you how to use a chimney starter as an actual grill.

 

Why a Chimney Starter


There are times when you really don’t need to fire up a full charcoal area of coals on the charcoal grill.  I have the perfect solution when you’re doing just a small quantity of a food, like our head of cauliflower. 
All our hot embers accumulated in the Chimney starter provides an excellent heat source for cooking
To start, I place a mesh screen on the charcoal grill grate to help retain the small, hot coals for cooking.  I have a collection of micro charcoal pieces that work perfectly for this type of cooking.

After lighting a Firestarter, I place the charcoal filled chimney starter on top of the Firestarter and allow the coals to burn down to hot embers.  Hot embers are what I will be using to cook my fresh cauliflower, first, directly on the chimney starter, then on the mesh screen once I dump the hot embers from the chimney starter.

 

Prep and Cook


Pouring the butter over the cauliflower resting on our grill planCauliflower is so simple to prepare for chimney starter coal cooking.  Just remove the thick stem and the green leaves, then cut in half.  I’ll be placing a griddle pan directly over the chimney starter for the start of the cooking.  I first drizzle a couple of tablespoons of a high heat tolerant oil over the cauliflower (I’m using avocado oil).  Allow that to cook while you melt butter which will be poured over the cauliflower.   I melt the butter directly on the grill while the cauliflower is cooking.  Allow this to char the cauliflower on the griddle for about 12 minutes.  We just want enough tenderness to allow the direct coal cooking to provide the flavor.

 

Embers Give Char Flavor


nicely charred Cauliflower ready for our recipe!After the cauliflower has produced some tenderness while direct cooking over the chimney starter, it’s time to remove the griddle pan and dump the hot coals onto the mesh.  You’ll see I’ve placed a large wood chunk just off the hot coals to produce some additional wood-fired flavor.  Now in goes the cauliflower steaks.  I position them right on the hot coals.  Don’t turn or disturb these pieces for a least 8 minutes at which time, flip the cauliflower to char the other side.  This is what produces the fabulous “meaty” char taste and why cauliflower is done on the grill is often referred to as a cauliflower steak.

If you will use the cauliflower in a recipe, then cooking about 12 minutes on the coals will be enough.  If enjoying as is, then cook slightly longer and enjoy.  This truly is the easiest method of cooking a single head of cauliflower for a true char flavor.  Which I will be taking to a cauliflower rice recipe that’s coming up!

Have you ever cooked directly on a chimney starter?  Leave us a comment to share.  Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

SEASONAL SMOKEY BAKED APPLES WITH SWEET STUFFING

These finished apples get smoky are a wonderful fall treat!
These finished smokey baked apples are a wonderful fall treat! Easy to do on the gas grill with a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks.



Apple season is here and I’ve found some beauties to make a simple but super sweet and flavorful recipe.    And of course, I’m taking it to the grill to let the apple get a kiss of smoke while tenderizing.  With so many varieties of apples available, you can pick your favorite and use this filling for the perfect stuffed apple.

The apples we bought at the Farmers MarketIn my home state of New York, there are over 25 varieties of apples.  Since these can be cold stored, they are available year-round but there is nothing like the fresh harvest.  In fact, controlled atmosphere storage was pioneered in New York State.

Whether served as the dessert or a sweet side dish is up to you but either way, you’re going to love the ease of making this dish and consuming all its seasonal goodness.  Pick your favorite variety of apple and get ready to stuff them with goodness everyone is going to love!  Smokey baked apples done on the grill, cleanup is a breeze!

 

Apple Preparation

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking method 
I’ll be using my gas grill for this recipe so I start by lighting only half the burners on my grill which I’ve added a smoker box that contains 3 hardwood chunks.  This will provide for the great smoke flavor to the apples.  While the grill heats up to about 375°F, I prepare the Macintosh apples.  First, wash and pat dry the apples.  You can use an apple corer to remove the core but note you do not want to produce a clean hole through the entire apple.  We want to produce an opening for adding the stuffing but we don’t want it to run out of the apples.  I like to use a small, sharp knife, cut into the apple stem end about ¾-inch from the stem making a circle.  Remove the core membrane and seeds leaving a firm base to the apple for filling.

Tasting Notes: Although I’ve selected Macintosh apples to know any variety will do.  Just note, if the apples are significantly larger, you will need to make an additional filling.

 

Sweet Stuffing


our sweet stuffing in the mixing bowlWith our apples cored, it’s time to make the sweet filling before heading to the grill.  First, know I like to use a disposable foil pan to make clean up a breeze.  In that pan, I place a roasting rack so the apples will be exposed to radiant heat all the way around the apple.  I’m making ten stuffed apple but I will give you the ingredients needed for making eight apples.

Place 1 stick of softened butter in a bowl.  Add 1 cup of light brown sugar, ½ cup chopped pecans, and 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon.  I prefer to mix this with my hand to ensure good distribution of the ingredients.  Taking a small amount of the mixed filling, I form a log shape and insert into the apple opening, pressing down to make sure this is filled to the top of the apple.  Once all the apples are filled, I head to the grill with my pan.

Tasting Notes: The stuffing for this apple recipe can be easily modified.  Feel free to swap the pecan for another nut like walnut, hazelnut or almond.  For spices, consider adding ginger, allspice, and clove either in addition to or in place of the cinnamon.

 

No Fuss Grilling


Our Smoker box with wood chunks for smokey flavorOnce at the grill, I check to ensure my wood chunks are smoking well.  I place my pan of prepared apples on the unlit side of the grill and pour enough water into the pan to coat the bottom by about 1-inch.  This will allow moisture into the cooking area to get the apples very tender in a short amount of time.  I usually check the apples after 45 minutes and rotate the pan if needed.  When the apples are tender and the filling browned, these are ready and can be removed from the grill-#grilledapples.

Tasting Notes:  Note that if you elect to use a charcoal grill the smoke infusion produced will be stronger.  You are encouraged to still use a two-zone set up on the charcoal grill to keep the sugars from burning.

Serve ‘Em Up

our finished smokey stuffed apple!Once the apples are tender and the filling browned, it’s time to remove the apples and prepare to serve them.  There are many options for an accompaniment to the apples.  Today, I’m using a vanilla bean ice cream that I’ve sliced into wedges.  Certainly, the apples can be served with whipped topping, another flavor of ice cream, a vanilla custard or pudding, or even a slice of hard or rind cheese.    These are best if served warm.  Don’t forget, if any filling is left, add to a pureed squash for another great recipe.  That’s why I always make extra!
our finished smokey stuffed apple!