Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Super Simple Smoked Mushrooms

I've been cooking a LOT of mushrooms lately.  It's the season for Morel Mushrooms in MN and I've had some luck so... I've been staring at so many shrooms in my kitchen that I started thinking of new ways to prepare them all.  What follows is probably the simplest way to cook a stack of mushrooms that I've ever devised.  It's incredibly, embarrassingly, head-shakingly simple, and yet more people want, crave, compliment, and/or ask about them than any other mushroom recipe I have.

You Will Need:
  • A bunch of shrooms, any kind
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
Rinse your mushrooms and pat them dry.  Place them into a large bowl and drizzle a healthy amount of olive oil over them as you shake the bowl to ensure good coverage.  You don't want them "lathered" or saturated with oil, but you want at least a bit of a drizzle on each one.  Then, give them a healthy sprinkling of Kosher salt.

Now, roll out a heat-proof grill mat, oven liner, or sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, onto your grill or smoker.  Build a fire somewhere away from the liner.  Pour all of your mushrooms onto the liner, away from the fire.  Cover.  Walk away.

Yes, it's that simple. What you see here is a couple of boxes of sliced Portabella Mushrooms that were left on this grill mat for about 2 hours at 250 degrees.  The best thing about this method is, you can't burn the shrooms!  The longer you leave them on, the more smoke flavor they inhale.  I use some long handled tongs to shake them up a bit, every 45 minutes or so.

When you think they're as done as you might like them, taste one.  If you like it, slide them all into a bowl and lid them up.  They'll keep in the fridge for a week or so!  What then? 

Well.... you could:
  • Pile them onto a Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
  • Eat them with a fork
  • Chop them up and make the best homemade Cream of Mushroom soup, ever
  • Lace them into a gorgeous Pasta Salad with some Mozzarella Cheese
  • Add them to a burger with some Bleu-Cheese sprinkles
  • Toss them onto a Pizza
The possibilities are almost endless.  Recently, I used them to garnish some "Surf and Turf" Ka-Bobs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Grilled Shrimp KaBobs

I have a love/hate relationship with KaBobs.  I love them, don't get me wrong, but I have conditions.  The pre-assembled Kabobs you buy in the store always seem to have too many of the wrong kind of vegetables, and not enough meat!  Can I help it if, sometimes, I'm in the mood for a stick full of "meat only" and only one sliver of onion, or Jalapeno?  If you're going to enjoy a skewer full of grilled food, it seems to me that you should be able to assemble your own "Stick," right?

You Will Need (Suggestions, really):
  • 8oz fresh UNCOOKED shrimp per person
  • Various Dry-Rubs, Spices, Salt, and Pepper
  • Melted Butter
  • Variety of other Kabob morsels including:
    • Zucchini Squash
    • Pineapple
    • Jalapeno
    • Bell Peppers
    • Bacon Chunks
    • Red Onion
So, the rule of thumb with any Kabob is that all of the chunks on the skewer should take the same amount of time to cook as the chunks of meat.  If you're using Chicken, you'll want bigger hunks of the other veggies because Chicken takes longer to cook than beef or shrimp, etc.  Shrimp only take 3-5 minutes to cook on a grill and that's FAST so; be sure to cut and portion the other veggies accordingly.  I cut this fresh pineapple very thin, for example, so the ends will caramelize and the flesh will cook through in 3 minutes.  Make sure all of the portions are the same size, you don't want some of them burnt and some of them underdone.

When I do Kabobs, I like to offer my guest the chance to build their own skewers.  To that end, I will pre-slice and prep all of the veggies, pre-cook the bacon chunks, and have them all available in various containers to grab from.  I lube all of the skewers with Olive Oil and line up the shrimp, veggies, bacon, spices, rubs, etc. and say, "Go!"

On this particular day, guest number one (Cindy) was a trend setter.  She wanted one skewer of veggies, and one of pure shrimp.  No problem.  I found it funny that everyone chose to follow her lead, but that's how it went down.  As the cook, I tend to hang back and to stay out of the way until the dust settles.  Once the skewers are built and everyone has a beverage, they tend to occupy themselves away from the grill so that I can go to work.

Keep all of the skewers in line according to who built them, so you can keep track of which skewers belong to which people on the grill.

Since I'm using an offset smoker, I built a hot fire with charcoal and Hickory wood in the firebox, and I set all of the skewers in the smoking chamber for about 5 minutes.  This added a bit of smoke flavor and brought everything up to ambient temperature before we put the spurs to the meat.

After 5 minutes of smoking, I put all of the skewers (in order) onto the grill, right over the fire, for two minutes (close the lid).  After two minutes, gently use your long tongs to flip each skewer over to the other side for an additional minute or two.  Remove them from the grill and immediately brush them with melted butter.

Since you lubed the skewers prior to building them up, it should be super easy now to slide all of the shrimpy goodness off of the skewer and directly onto a plate.  Easy, right?