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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Swwwwwwwwwing, batta' batta' batta'... (and a weeknight BBQ sauce in seconds, not minutes!)

Aaaaaaaaaaand, a MISS!!! 

OK everyone- I promised a great paella recipe. Let me just say, that while I created something that I thought was going to be "sssss-U-per"... it didn't go that way AT ALL!! I'll play with it some more, and when it's ready, it's ready! You'll be the second ones to know! (I'm first, darn it!)

Now, summer is here, it's hot, and I am grilling as often as I can. But, I'm also busy, and soon (hopefully) back to work. So I'm going to share a quick and easy BBQ sauce that will keep the weeknights fresh and different, and make leftovers stand out the next day! I'd say it's probably good on everything. Last night, it was great on country-style pork ribs, which- had they not been so good, and been gobbled up so fast, I'd have a picture for ya'!

I may have mentioned before I keep an eclectic pantry. Well, you might not know this, it's a secret, but I keep canned fruit in it. I can hear the gasps, ooh's and aah's already! Fresh fruit isn't always available and I'm not here to impress some chef from "New York City" (NEW YORK CITY???!!!) I'm practical! I keep things I want to eat! So, this recipe has canned apricots, but you could use peaches, or pineapple, but I'm not sure it works well with too many other fruits (I wouldn't try pears). Mandarin oranges would work. Hey- you experiment, and let me know, OK?! And, if you want to make a quick side, chop a bit of apricots, and throw them in to a pan with some couscous, maybe with some cilantro, and you've tied your meal together very harmoniously!!!

Chipotle- Apricot BBQ Sauce

1/2 Can (15 oz) of apricots- or about 4 fresh apricots, halved, and 1/3-1/2 C of the syrup.*
2 T canned Chipotle peppers (I buy a can, and with the leftovers I crush 'em a bit, and put 'em in an ice cube tray for using another time- same with chopped jalepenos; If you do the same, just use one big chipotle ice cube!)
1/2 C ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T soy sauce
1 T Worcestershire sauce (or add another 1 T of soy sauce)
Pinch of salt, pepper

*If you're using fresh apricots, I'd recommend about 1/3 C water, and 1/2 C brown sugar.

Put all the ingredients in a blender, and whirrrrrrr to your heart's content! Brush on meat or fish during the last 8 minutes of grilling! Or use it as a marinade, reserving some for brushing on during the final stage of grilling.

How easy was THAT????!!! And, it's just so darn tasty!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Your Homework for this July 4th weekend! (or, While your at it, pick up these ingredients...)

Hey all!
Ok, this weekend is one of the best grilling and BBQ-ing weekends there is: July 4th! Monday is generally a holiday for most people, giving us a chance for hangover remediation before heading back to work on Tuesday, and Sunday will be filled with fireworks, and neighbors and families getting together around the grill and cooler to put a good char on burgers, dogs, steaks and chicken legs!

So, it's likely that Saturday, you're heading to the grocery store to stock up on beer, brats, chips, potato salad... I'm suggesting you add a few extra items to the list and throw a couple of them on the grill for a dinner surprise on Monday that can be done in one pot/pan, and lend some variety to your weekend. And you won't be eating that macaroni salad that was left out in the sun all afternoon, while Uncle Norm told stories of "these kids today..." and burned grilled the chicken to a charred outside with a pink middle!!! YUCK!

But, if you grab a few extra ingredients and throw them on the grill at the same time as the burgers and dogs, you can save time and maximize flavors when you use them Monday for a one pot and one pan dish- PAELLA!!! You can make this dish with a few pre-grilled items, and even some leftovers, dump it all into a wide cast iron skillet or big dutch oven, drink a Bloody Mary to get rid of the hangover and finish some watermelon, all the while this "fancy" Portuguese goodness is simmering away.

BUT- wait for it... waaaaaaaaaait for it... HERE'S THE CATCH!!! We're going to make this "fancy" dish with readily available ingredients at the local supermarket! I'll list a few ingredients you probably don't have on hand, but only for 4 servings. If you need more, just double it.

SO, assignment: Add to your grocery cart-

I package of Achiote seeds, or paste OR saffron threads (saffron is EXPENSIVE... so, if you can live with not being entirely authentic, but still flavorful, pick up the achiote. It's in the Mexican food aisle, and it's at least a third of the price of saffron)

ROAST ON THE GRILL (slowly, until charred; then scrape off skin): 3 Anaheim peppers, or 2 Poblano chiles, or 1 large green pepper and 1 large red pepper (Anaheim peppers and Poblano chiles have mild heat, but lots of flavor!)

COOK ON GRILL (don't puncture casing!): 1 lb of Chorizo/Chorico, or Linguicia, or Andoille sausage in the casing (if you cannot find any of those, get hot Italian sausage in the casing)

The rest should not be cooked ahead of time: 
  1. 1 lb of shrimp (if frozen or in the shell, great- we can use the shells for shrimp stock, and pack more flavor in to our dish)
  2.  1/2 lb of salmon, cod or halibut
  3.  1 head of fresh garlic
  4.  1 bunch of cilantro
  5.  1 fresh lemon
  6.  1 lb fresh clams, in the shell, optional

 You should already have on hand the following items:

Chicken stock/broth/bouillon

1 lb Chicken (thighs are best for this, and can be cooked in advance on the grill)


Onions, (as many as 2)

Bay leaves

Frozen peas (NOT CANNED!!!!)

Chili sauce, or hot sauce

Ok, so this is simple, right??? And, since a few of the items can be cooked in advance, you'll save time and effort later on. Mind you, this is not going to be restaurant quality, and perhaps Paella won't be the right name for it in the end. But, this is doable, affordable, and enjoyable! And, it's all in one dish- it's rather simple, and you can relax after all the effort from Sunday!

Mange Bene! Michael