Category Archives: Grilling and Cooking

Faux Fillet – Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Beef

Not everyone can afford to eat steak every night, especially Fillet Mignon. And since a nice cut of Fillet averages $23 per pound, most people rarely eat it at all!

So, what if I told you that you can get about 6 pounds of an equally good cut of beef; and if cooked properly, no one would  be able to tell the difference?

All you really need is a Beef Tenderloin! They average about $2.75 – $3.75 per pound and are highly under rated!

For $13 I was able to cook 7 of these 7oz “Fillet Clones.” The whole tenderloin cost $26 (after coupon), So I cut it in half to save the remainder for a curry dish later! Still an awesome yield!

I made an amazing chipotle sauce to finish the “Faux Fillet.” A true Fillet is prepared by basting it in a pan with butter or animal fat (bacon). So, to simulate this I made a honey butter based chipotle sauce for basting on the grill. Lets get to it…

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The Chipotle Sauce

Chipotle oil or chipotle pepper powder
Honey
Butter
Sage
Thyme
Oregano
Olive oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Chili Powder

Cut your beautiful Tenderloin into 1.5 – 1.75″ cuts or roughly 7oz steaks.

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Dust the Beef on one side with salt. Preheat the Grill to 435 degrees.

Once the grill is heated, sear the beef on both sides for 3 minutes each, and bring to the top shelf. Turn the burners on low and spoon some baste onto the top of the Faux Fillets (don’t make a mess). Close the lid for 4 minutes, flip and repeat. Do this process 2 more times with a baste time of 3 minutes for the last two steps.

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Raise the heat to high and immediately sear the beef for 2 minutes each side (again). Remove, and let rest for 5 minutes covered.

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Put on you ascot and enjoy with a cheap beer.

Sweet and Spicy Ribs

Cooking ribs takes some dedication and patience. The only things that makes a good rack of ribs are the sauce and a nice crunchy bark. (Notice I didn’t say marinade or rub? – “Aint, nobody got time for that!”) Sure there are some folks that do all of the above – wait, let’s break it down.

Marinade – if you marinade ribs, most of the marinade will be absorbed by the rib bone -when was the last time you ate a rib bone?

Rub  – (aka “burn”) There is almost no fat on ribs (where it counts) and none of that flavor will be able to “hitch a ride” into the meat  – like an Eye Round Roast; it will just burn like flash paper on the outside of the rib rack.

Sauce – effectively a marinade with a more intense flavor profile that is cut with broth or water to cover the meat during a long cooking process. Using a sauce on low heat over a longer period of time, better penetrates leaner cuts. Never boil a lean cut in a sauce – there is no point – Willy Wonka already tried to make a similar chewing gum.

We are going to make a sauce for the ribs that has intense flavor, similar to my Lake House Ribs, but this time – they are going to be sweeter and richer:

The Sauce:

Chili Powder
Paprika
Honey
Agave
Lime
Garlic
Salt
Papper
Sriracha
Mustard
Tomato Paste
Brown Sugar
Sesame Oil
Olive Oil
Vinegar
Beef Broth

Note: make enough sauce to cover the ribs 1/4 of the way up; you never want to completely submerge the bone! But poor some sauce in the center of the rack to help penetrate the flavor.

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Cook the rack(s) in the oven on 275 for 4-5 hours, top side down. (patience)

Next, preheat your grill to 450 degrees, and “slap those ribs” down (face down) for about 4 minutes to start the barking process. Reduce the heat to low and move the racks to the top shelf (face up). Maintain a temperature of about 415 degrees lid down. We are trying to caramelize all those sugars we added in the sauce.

Baste every 5-6 minutes with the pan “juice,” flipping the rack(s) every second baste. You should flip three times until the rack is face up again.

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First baste

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Third baste

After cooking the meat for the last 5-6 minutes, during the third baste, remove the meat and let it rest for 5 minutes under the cover of aluminum foil. Then cut with a serrated knife and serve warm.

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Enjoy with some good friends and beer!

Cheers!

 

Cerebral Dad is on Patreon

Thank you all for all the support. I was able to meet my “propane goal” last month on Patreon! I was able to refill both propane tanks, and fire up the grill once more, Thank you. I’ve reset the goal, and added some new and interesting things. I know a “propane goal” isn’t very interesting, so if you want to see more interesting and interactive content:

Become a Patreon supporter, today!

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Patreon is like an online tip jar. It lets me know that you’re enjoying the content on Cerebral Dad.

This month, in the spirit of “Teaching”, I’m going to be teaching myself how to weld, feature some guest bloggers, start building “The Robot“, continue the Teaching kids series and working on a new drone.

I also have plans on making a CNC machine in the process of teaching myself how to weld – turns out everything is very affordable – its going to be fun putting together a few “How to” post on my process.

If any of this appeals to you, please make a pledge on Patreon, today!

To Marinate or Not to Marinate – It’s not really a question…

It’s a common misnomer that a marinade will automatically add flavor to meat, especially if left to sit long enough. There is a science to it and not all marinades improve flavor – in some configurations they will simply soften the meat. However, I don’t mean to misspeak. Putting any spice or ingredient on meat will change the flavor profile, but oftentimes not to the degree expected. There is a suggested structure to a marinade that will lay the foundation for a serious burst of flavor. Lets go over what the composition of a good marinade is:

First, there is an alternative to marinading meat – the dry rub. Let’s go over that too…

What is a Marinade?

a sauce, typically made of oil, vinegar, spices, and herbs, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavor or soften it.

What is a Dry Rub?

any mixture of ground spices that is made for the purpose of being rubbed on raw food before the food is cooked. The spice rub forms a coat on the food.

Whats the difference?

The difference between a Marinade and a Dry rub is the use of Acid. Marinades use some form of acidic liquid like vinegar, wine, or even yogurt to penetrate (get the flavor deeper, sooner) the outside of the meat. Whilst Dry Rubs are meant for a longer cooking process, using the natural juices and fats of the cooking process to self baste the meat.

Thats another good point – fat content! Super Important!

Marbled Meat

Beef-marbling-grades

The more “squiggly” your meat is, the higher the fat content. Its important that all the fat isn’t just around the edges – ideally, you want some running through the center. They, call this marbling, because it looks like marble stone.

Why is marbling important? Well, as I mentioned in London Broil and The Art of the Sear  – as these fatty reservoirs of goodness melt away during the cooking process it pulls flavor into otherwise un reachable locations within the meat. Check out the Delmonico below:

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How long do you marinade meat?

Ready for this? 1 hour at room temperature. That’s if you have a proper marinade with the proper acidity.

In the Spirit of the Olympics in Rio lets look at a simple Picanha marinade.

Rock Salt
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil

Thats it! You have your acidity and basic flavors:

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Something more complicated would be my Winged Lunch recipe:

Chili powder
Cayenne
Paprika
Sage
Salt
Pepper
Thyme
Garlic Powder
Sesame oil
Vinegar

Substitute the vinegar above for red wine to marinate steak. Remember, when using wine, if you wouldn’t drink a glass of it don’t marinate with it!

Notice the theme? The key to a good marinade is acidity balanced by strong aromatic flavors. But the key to a tasty meal is Marbling!

 

Enjoy!

 

Double Oven Chicken with Shishito Peppers

If you like crockpot meals – this is like one with a “participation award.” We are going to have to cook a bit before we “set it and forget it.” Nothing too intense – just browning some meat and caramelizing veggies – my apologies if that sounds a lot like cooking, but its worth it! This is something even the kids will enjoy.

We are going to be using a Duch Oven for this meal. I call it “Double Oven Chicken,” because we use a Dutch Oven inside a conventional oven. I know! I’m witty.

This is the “Pepper” version. We are going to be using Shishito Peppers and red Bell Peppers. Shishito Peppers are like small Poblano peppers – in terms of heat (doesn’t really translate much to this dish). We got mounds of them from the local farmers market for a few dollars, so I’ve been “putting that (beep) on everything.”

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Double Oven Chicken:

Chicken thighs (room temp)
Shishito Peppers
Red Bell Pepper (I just don’t like green)
Butter
Bacon Grease
Small Onion
Ripe Tomatoes
Onion powder
Garlic Powder (or minced)
Black Pepper
Salt
Sage
Thyme
Tarragon
Chicken Stock

Quick Tip – Get yourself a Stainless Steel Ice cube  tray to store bacon grease. It separates it into usable servings; and makes everything delicious. Just don’t put it in the freezer – IMPORTANT

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Start with a cube of bacon grease and butter (or a handful of diced bacon) – let it melt and/or render down without burning.  Add your peppers and onions. Lets let that get translucent before adding the garlic – minced or otherwise.

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Add a healthy amount of seasonings listed above.

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Push the veggies aside and place the chicken thighs in skin down. Scoop all the veggies to the top of the chicken. Once the chicken has browned – DON’T PEEK – or has been cooking for about 4-5 minutes on high heat, add chicken stock to the pot to submerge the chicken half way. Add the diced tomatoes to the top.

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Add more seasoning to taste. My theory is, if you add more food to the pot, you need more seasoning – now is a good time to check.

While the dish is coming up to a boil preheat the oven to 375 deg. I like to do it this way to ensure all the flavors settle into the stock before o place everything into the oven.IMG_2622

Place the Dutch Oven into the oven. Let cook for 60-70 minutes. 
If you have a Rice cooker. Now is the time to start cooking your rice. Make sure you rinse the rice first. The juices from this dish go great with a bit of rice!

Check out the finished dish:

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Roast Beef

Roast Beef is made from Eye Round roast. A well seasoned roast beef is delicious. In this recipe we use a rub for a mild flavor at service. Keep in mind that the Eye Round roast is a lean meat and wont absorb as much flavor as, say, a Prime Rib roast – its just a denser, leaner muscle.

Cook Times and Temperature:

Rare to Medium: 1h 45m at 325 degrees.
Medium to Medium-well: 2h at 350 degrees.

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Seasoning:

Salt
Pepper
Sage
Tarragon
Chili Powder
Thyme
Crushed Garlic
Garlic Powder
Oregano
Parsley

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Stand the meat fat side up…

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Cut a cross hatched pattern in the fatty section and rub in crushed garlic…

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coat the meat with our seasoning, rubbing it in well…

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After the oven has been preheated to the desired temperature, place the meat on the bottom shelf. You may need to make a tin foil ring to keep the meat from falling over.  Its very important that the fat stay facing up as the meat will baste itself as its cooking…

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Let the Roast rest for at least 10 minutes before service. After the  meat has a chance to rest, cut 1/4 ” slices with a serrated knife.

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Season with a bit of left over rub and salt after slicing since the flavor will be mild after the cooking process.

Enjoy!

Please share with your friends on social media, and like me on Facebook!

London Broil

Preparing London Broil is less about the seasoning and more about the cooking process and service prep. London Broil is a really tough meat and it can stay tough throughout the cooking process.

If you don’t like your meat’s internal temperature medium rare to rare, do not cook this cut of meat (period)!

So, “London Broil” – really the only cut of meat with cooking instructions in the title. To broil something, you basically subject it to high heat for short periods of time.

We are going to start with a room temperature cut of meat – as always (but this time its important).

London Broil:

Salt
Pepper
Garlic (powder or minced)
Olive oil (light sprinkle)

Preheat the grill to 500+ degrees (520). Sear the slab on both sides for 2 minutes (if it sticks to the grill, let it sit for another minute to properly caramelize and release).

Note: Orient the meat on a 45 degree angle from the grill slats if you want the “fancy” grill marks.

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Move the meat to the top shelf on high heat for another 3 minutes per side. At this point the grill temp should be about 540 to 550 degrees.

Remove the London Broil from the grill and let rest wrapped in tin foil for 10-15 minutes.

IMPORTANT!!
DO NOT CUT THE LONDON BROIL WITH PERPENDICULAR SLICES – EVER!

You’re going to want to slice the meat on a rough 60 degree angle from perpendicular. In other words, place your fork 2-3″ from the leading edge and slice on an angle to the surface of the front edge. Cut thin, .25″ slices.

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Congratulations you just made the meat malleable!IMG_2484

Serve with a tall beer! Doesn’t get any simpler than that!

Share, Share,  Share!

Lake House Ribs

A few weeks ago the family went up visit my uncle on the lake. One night he cooked these amazing ribs that I now call “Lake House Ribs.”

He and I both have similar cooking styles, where you add a little of “this” and “that” as you go along – and if it turns out good, you commit it to memory and try it again next time. We were talking in the kitchen and I got to observe his process.

Tonight I tried to remember how he prepared his ribs and make them for my family and myself. This is what I came up with (with my own embellishments):

The sauce:

Stick of butter melted
Chicken stock
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Ketchup
Mustard (brown or Dijon)
Honey
Salt
Pepper
Minced Garlic
Sriracha
Worcestershire sauce
Parsley
Oregano
Thyme
Stout Beer (optional)

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Cut the rack of ribs and place them flesh side down in a baking tray. Don’t spare any of the juice from the package.

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Pour enough sauce into the tray to submerge the ribs about half way. I dusted them with Chili powder and Paprika for safe keeping.

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Preheat the oven to 215 degrees. When heated let the meat cook for 4 hours. Giving them a wiggle every once in a while.

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Remove from the oven and preheat the grill to 420 degrees. W are now going to give the meat a nice “bark.” Braising the outside and basting as we go…

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Once your satisfied with them and they have a nice and crispy outer edge…

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Serve with a tall beer!

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As Always please like, comment and share! Check me out on Social Media.

Enjoy!

Sweet BBQ Loin Chops and Zesty Zucchini

Loin chops are absolutely delicious! This evening, I took it up a notch with my off-the-cuff sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.

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Sweet BBQ Sauce:

Salt
Pepper
Brown Sugar
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper
Soy Sauce
Worcestershire Sauce
Sesame Oil
Red Vinegar
Ketchup
Mustard
Minced Garlic
Sage

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We will be implementing what I like to call the “Carpool Marinade.” Simply put – we are going to let the meat marinade, unrefrigerated for the amount of time it takes to pick up the kids from school – in my case, 30 minutes. Cover the pork with a “blanket.” Tuck plastic wrap around it in a mixing bowl.

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Quick Tip: Whenever you cook a protein like pork (any meat really) you want it to be room temperature before you start the cooking process. Never cook frozen meat unless instructed (like some frozen burger brands). Cooking without defrosting first can lead to serious illness.

We are going to grill the loin chops, by searing both sides and moving them to the top shelf until the internal temperature is about a medium well. Pork can become tough quickly so be careful not roast the meat too long.

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Preparing the Zucchini is simple. Slice it into long slices (length-wise).

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Zucchini:

Chili powder
Lime Juice (or Lime Juice Powder)
Salt
Sugar
Olive Oil

Grill for a few minutes on each side.

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Serve with a tall beer!

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Poor man’s clam sauce

I say poor man’s clam sauce only because there are a few more expensive ingredients missing- I’ll list everything below but if it says (optional) and it happens to be pay week; go for it!

Clam sauce:

Whole Stick of butter
Olive oil
Minced garlic
Minced Chalet (optional)
Anchovy Paste (optional)
White Wine
Chicken Broth
Whole Clams (3 cans)
Fresh Clams (optional)
Clam juice (optional)
Red Pepper Flakes
Parsley
Oregano
Black or White Pepper
Grated Parmesan (optional)
Lemon Juice

If you’re Italian you might see a red flag – there is an unspoken rule to never mix seafood with cheese – thankfully I’m mostly Polish and its listed as “optional” (but highly recommended).

IMG_2330Melt the stick of butter in a sauce pan along with the olive oil. When heated add the garlic and chalet if you opted for it (you can substitute onion). Crush some dried oregano and red pepper flakes – add it to the mix. When the garlic turns golden add the chicken broth and clam juice if you opted and let it simmer for a minute. Add white wine to taste. Be careful not to burn the garlic at this point!

Whats the difference between Black and White pepper? The color! When you’re cooking light food like this its best to use light colored ingredients. This way, guests aren’t turned off by black bits floating in their food. Thats really all it is!

Add your white pepper, minced fresh parsley and about a 6 inch line of anchovy paste if you opted. Anchovy paste comes in a tube in the “Ethnic” section of your favorite grocery store.

Thanks to the cultural influences of my wife I’ve been introduced to “Squid sauce” which would be a great substitute for anchovy paste. Each of these ingredients accentuate the “by the sea” flavor.

IMG_2333Drain 2 of the 3 cans of whole clams, using the juice from just one. If you opted to use clam juice in the previous step add the canned juice to taste.

After the sauce comes back up to a simmer add the parmesan and lemon juice to taste.

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta. I used perciatelli because I think its great for juicy sauces like this one.

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