Sunday, June 26, 2011

Red Chile Short Rib Tacos aka Taco Toppings

A recent issue of Food Network Magazine contained a feature on tacos, with recipes presented by various popular chefs.  I decided to try Bobby Flay's Red Chile Short Rib Tacos.  I did some research and decided to substitute brisket for the short ribs I had difficulty locating at my local Kroger.  Perhaps my substitution of meat greatly affected the flavor, but I wasn't fond of this dish as a whole, though some portions of it I'll carry to other Mexican cooking recipes that I've tried and love.  The recipe consists of several parts--you make the meat, then you also make a homemade queso sauce, pickled red onions and green chile relish to top the tacos.  

I felt that the port overwhelmed the pepper flavor I expected to shine in the meat part of this dish, making the meat seem very heavy and pot-roast-flavored.  The queso sauce just wasn't what I was looking for (though the cheese lovers who tried the dish really liked the queso--personally I prefer some good Crema Mexicana on my tacos as opposed to cheese).  Now, onto the pickled red onions and green chile relish.  I loved the flavor of both these taco topping and will definitely make both again.  The only change I'll make is to reduce the canola oil to 1 teaspoon in the green chile relish.  I could taste the oil and felt the amount imparted an oily texture to the relish that I could easily eliminate.

 Preparing the brisket
 Infusing broth with red chiles
 Red chile brisket
 Red chile tacos with pickled red onions, green chile relish and fresh cilantro

Monday, June 13, 2011

Potlatch-Seasoned Salmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank

This is a recipe that bears repeating now that summer is here!

Over the years I've had several opportunities to enjoy salmon grilled atop a cedar plank. Each time I remember thinking "Oh, this is easy. I can do this at home. No sweat." If only that were ENTIRELY true. My gas grill didn't allow for the flame down to be adjusted to a point low enough to keep from catching the cedar plank on fire (bad, because you may not realize it right away since the grill lid is closed for cooking). Also, I wasn't soaking the plank properly--you need to place something heavy (such as an unopened can of soup or vegetables) on the plank to keep it fully submerged in water for several hours (I let it soak all day or even overnight). Now that I feel that I have mastered my charcoal grill, I decided to try again. Charcoal grills seem to work better for this cooking application because once the coals of charcoal burn down, there is no actual flame left to ignite the board. I use one of my all-time favorite seasonings:  Williams-Sonoma's Potlatch Seasoning. They also carry the cedar planks, but many stores carry these now (I'm able to find mine at Kroger, Target and Lowe's). Make sure the wood is UNTREATED!

Potlatch-Seasoned Grilled Salmon on a Cedar Plank

1 cedar plank (soaked)
2 lbs. fresh salmon (with the skin still on)
2 heaping TEAspoons Potlatch Seasoning
enough olive oil to make a paste of the seasoning (but no more than that...stir the olive oil and seasoning together to make a thick paste)

Prepare your charcoal grill. Let the coals burn down until there is no more flame. The temperature will be between 350-400 degrees. While the coals are burning down, prepare the fish as follows:

Place the salmon (skin down) on the soaked cedar plank. Spread the paste evenly over top of the salmon filet.  You can use a silicone basting brush or even your fingers. Press the seasoning into the flesh of the fish gently--do not rub and tear the flesh of the fish.

When the coals are ready, place the plank on the grill and close the lid. The salmon will take approximately 20 minutes to cook, but this can vary due to grill temperature and thickness of your salmon filets.