Earlier this week I mentioned that The Culinary Studio in Kitchener would be serving Big Green Burgers as part of their ‘Friday Hot Lunch Take-Out’ this week. I dropped by for one and I have to say I’m a little disappointed. I was hoping to enjoy the familiar flavors I cook up on my Big Green Egg. Instead, the burger rudely reminded me that my skills as an amateur griller are pretty weak. Despite cooking up some fantastic patties in my day I’m really nowhere near the true potential of the Big Green Egg. Today was more like a ‘Friday Hot Slap-in-the-face’.
This burger was top notch…a Sir Mix-a-lot special (“real thick, and juicy”). This and any great burger has three things:
A well prepared patty. I didn’t get a good look at what was in this patty because it only lasted about 8 seconds before it hit the bottom of my stomach. However, I can tell you that it had a smooth seasoning and what looked like finely diced garlic inside.
Great cooking. This was cooked perfectly – juicy with a great smoke. Exactly what you’d expect from the Big Green Egg.
High quality toppings. This little chunk of heaven came with house made ketchup, aioli, caramelized onions and 2 year old cheddar. Slightly fancier than the ketchup and mustard burgers I throw together.
I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next time they offer a ‘Friday Hot Lunch Take-Out’ from the Big Green Egg. I may also join one of their classes and steal some secrets.
One of the first dishes I tried on a charcoal grill is cedar plank salmon. Despite its simplicity it was a huge success and an immediate favorite. I’m not sure where I found this recipe so please let me know if it’s yours.
Last night was my wife’s birthday and great weather for a BBQ so I went with this this faithful treat. I also did some potatoes (with onions, butter, salt, and pepper), broccoli, and grilled cheese sandwiches in case the kids weren’t in the mood for fish…although I ended up eating the sandwiches.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Salmon (as much as you need)
Red Pepper Flakes
Pieces of the last Cedar Plank you used
This is a forgiving recipe so you can modify and still get great results. Here are the basic steps:
Soak you cedar plank in water. This is optional – I’ve skipped this step everything turned out just fine.
Soak the pieces of the last cedar plank you used in different water. I typically split the old plank into ½ inch strips by using the claws of a hammer as an axe. Splitting down the grain is easy on these dried out prices of lumber. It may also be a good idea to break the strips in half. Soaking these pieces is not an optional step. Burning the wet wood release a lot of moisture which the Big Green Egg is excellent at maintaining. Using dry wood directly on the coals will also cause the wood to burn up in a matter of seconds so you won’t get an extended smoke.
Light your Big Green Egg and heat to about 300 degrees. Last night I actually lit it 1.5 hours before I started cooking. I tossed a few potatoes on low heat while I finished work and picked up the kids. By the time I was back the potatoes were cooked and the Big Green Egg was ready for the salmon.
Prepare the board by removing it from the water, sprinkling some sea salt on it and placing it on the grill. When the sea salt begins to pop it’s ready for fish. This step is designed to get your board smoking before you start cooking the fish. Since I use extra cedar directly on the coals this step is less important to follow.
Mix 3 parts soy sauce with 1 part sesame oil. I typically don’t measure this and it always tastes good as long as your proportions are close. Be sure to mix them well. I usually shake them.
Rinse and wipe the salmon. Drying the fish will allow the soy sauce/sesame oil mixture to get some traction.
Add your pieces of cedar directly to the coals. This will throw up some great smoke and really take the fish to the next level. Check out the video below to see what I’m talking about.
Place the salmon on the cedar plank and brush it with the soy sauce/sesame oil mixture. Don’t do this too early or the fish will become mushy.
Sprinkle some red pepper flakes over the fish. Skip this step to make this a child friendly recipe.
Cook for about 15-20 minutes. You’ll know the fish is done when it flakes all the way through. I follow two rules when cooking salmon. First, never overcook it. Salmon can go from perfect to dust in about a minute so be careful. Second, if I’m not sure if it’s done – then it’s definitely done.
When your salmon is ready you can pull it off the grill and serve it on the plank. Be sure the put it on some kind of dish or baking sheet (not fancy but it works) because the bottom will be a charred mess. The plank will give off an aroma so heavenly your neighbors may show up. Enjoy!
It’s a big week for the Big Green Egg in Kitchener/Waterloo! If you’re new to the Big Green Egg Friday is your perfect chance to see what it’s all about at The Culinary Studio.
Friday May 25th from 11:30am they will be serving Big Green Burgers as part of their ‘Friday Hot Lunch Take-Out’. $10 gets you a burger with house made ketchup, aioli, caramelized onions and 2 year old cheddar followed by homemade dessert.
Friday night they are offering a course called ‘Great Grilling on the Big Green Egg!’ Matthew Bast, one of my go-to Eggxpert at Bast Home Comfort in Waterloo, will be teaching the class how to grill everything from steak to salad and pizza on a Big Green Egg. If this class sounds interesting to you I’d highly recommend registering quickly because there was only 1 spot left at the time this post went live.
I should mention that I have no affiliation to The Culinary Studio and have not had the pleasure of taking any of their courses (due to my mess of a schedule). However, I do have several friends/family members who have taken courses and absolutely love it. Although I haven’t made it to a class I will certainly be there Friday afternoon with $10 (possible $20) and a big appetite!
Two factors that keep me firmly rooted in amateur grilling and prevent me from diving into the professional realm are the fact that I don’t have professional caliber grill skill and I don’t have a lot of time (a side effect of having a couple wonderful children). Because of this I’m a firm believer in quick and easy recipes. One of our all-time fav side dishes is grilled asparagus.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Balsamic Salad Dressing (we prefer Kraft but I’m sure they’re all the same)
Keeping with the ‘simple’ trend, here are the steps to get these puppies on your plate:
Wash the asparagus and cut the bottom ends off.
Put them in a dish and drizzle ¼ to ½ a cup of balsamic dressing on them. Toss to ensure they are somewhat covered and let them sit while you setup your grill.
Setup your grill for 250-300 degree direct heat. If you’re using wood chips to smoke your meat later be sure NOT to add it for the asparagus. Charcoal will give it enough smoke flavor. Note that these instructions are for a Big Green Egg – other grills may vary.
Toss the asparagus on the grill for 5-10 minutes a side. You want to see a little black on all sides but don’t burn them or they’ll turn into hollow asparagus fries.
Take them off the grill and cook your meat.
Despite the taste you won’t believe the flavor these little guys pack. Happy grilling!
Update – May 26, 2013
I recommend grilling your asparagus after your meat while the meat rests. If you’re grilling steak and want to avoid smoking the asparagus you can grill it during the rest period before you smoke the steaks.
I’ve also been cooking it at a little higher heat (350-400 degrees) on my Big Green Egg for 3 minutes a side. This seems to turn out perfect.
Here you can read about what’s grilling and what’s burning in my backyard. I’ll share my experiences and favorite recipes as well as techniques that are working and those that have gone up in smoke.
Some quick background on myself – my name is Joe. Contrary to this blogs name I’m not actually that big and most often not green. I have several grills ranging from gas to charcoal with my prize jewel being my Big Green Egg. I don’t fancy myself an expert griller by any means – I’m simply enjoying life as an amateur grill enthusiast and hoping to share some great stories with others that simply love cooking over fire.
I hope you enjoy my tales from the pit and invite you to share your own in the comments section. Let’s have some fun and remember to keep your grill hot and your drink cold!