A Taster's Journey is a newsletter on food, wine and travel. After 15 years of studying, tasting, teaching, and selling wine, I created this newsletter to not only share my passion about wine, but of food and travel as well. Each month I hope to share wines that I am drinking, food that is in season, restaurants that I have enjoyed, and places I have traveled. Enjoy!"

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It’s BBQ Season

March 20th, 2005

Spring is around the corner, and this past weekend I barbecued for the first time. The grill adds such flavor to a dish that I use it as often as possible. As with any dining experience, you need to mix it up so it does not become routine. I wanted to share two dishes that I cook that will hopefully stimulate you to try something different. The first is a chicken dish which is smoked to add a whole new flavor. The second is a pork dish in which the loin is stuffed.

Smoked Chicken

Chicken is a very common dish cooked on the grill, however I find that very few people smoke it, which is my favorite way. Adding wood chips of hickory or mesquite over your coals will add a great smokey flavor to your meat. First marinate your chicken (breasts, thighs, wings etc) for at least a few hours. You can use your favorite barbeque sauce, but I prefer olive oil, fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme or sage), salt and pepper. I then put coals on only one side of my grill. I sear the chicken directly over the hot coals (without the cover on) for about 10 minutes, at which time the chicken has nice grill marks. I then move the chicken to the other side of the grill, off the direct heat. An hour before grilling I soaked wood chips in a bowl of water. I now add these wood chips directly over my coals, and cover the grill. After 10 minutes I add some more wood chips, and turn over my chicken. Remove the chicken to a platter when cooked through, and let rest for 5 minutes. The skin will be a rich mahogany color, and the chicken will have a delicious smokey flavor.

Stuffed Pork Loin

Butterfly a pork loin so that it is flat, like a thin london broil. Note that your butcher can do this for you. For the stuffing, saute spinach (1 box of frozen spinach works well), 1/2 onion chopped, and 1 clove of garlic minced in olive oil over medium heat. When onion is translucent, add to a mixing bowl to cool. Mix in 25 toasted pine nuts, 1/4 cup bread crumbs, 5 sage leaves chopped, salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture over pork loin, about 1/4 inch thick. Roll pork back to its original shape, and tie with string. Grill over high heat to brown the roast and seal in the juices, then complete the roasting process over low heat. Remove roast while still slightly pink in the center and let rest 10 minutes. Slice and serve.

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