Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Tenderloin

After seeing our daughter hand trim the tenderloin I couldn't wait to get it to the grill. I followed Weber's instructions for a three-zone split fire using a drip pan in the middle to wall the charcoal off to both sides leaving the center as the indirect heating zone.

We cut the tenderloin into two matching halves and I placed them over the coals for the first 10 minutes turning once to get a bit of searing before moving them to the middle of the GrillGrates to complete the grilling. The tenderloin took about 10 minutes longer than Weber estimated and I attribute that to the GrillGrates acting as a flame shield that further protected the meat. Knowing that our clan likes their meat rare, I took the tenderloin off a bit early and gave it a short rest before cutting thick juicy red slices. The trimmed loin fed 8 of us without a slice left and not one plate had any evidence left of a great meal. The meat literally melted in my mouth and the pressure was off. We switched from Pigs Nose (smooth as a Pigs Nose) to Champagne with strawberrys crushed and pureed in the bottom of the glass. The Champagne was so good it carried over to an after dinner treat. There was a StarTrek marathon on TV, the kids retreated to their worlds and we went quietly into space.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Julia Child was in our Kitchen this Christmas

I am so glad that Julia Child visited our kitchen as we prepared a Christmas tenderloin. Julia took the form of our oldest daughter who is one year into medical school. Confession here- I have grilled several tenderloins and never dressed or trimmed them much beyond obvious fat removal. Now I'm reading Julia Child! She explains that you often trim 1/2 weight to dress it out and end up with a great steak for two and kabob meat for later. OK no revelation to some, but it sure was to me. Then my daughter took over as I read her Julia Child's instructions from page 221 of her book The Way to Cook. She hand trimmed the butt end and removed the tendon and membranes. Her cadaver training came in handy and we heard all about it. She only snipped with a knife a couple of times and mostly used her hands. She wants to give me a scalpel to add to my meat preparation tools. Pretty cool. These photos detail the preparation and trimming of the tenderloin. I'm beyond late early adopter on this one! It was fun learning from Julia Child and seeing our daughter prepare our family feast. And the Pig's Nose Scotch was absolutely perfect for the occasion! Since I am now actually reading cook books, I consulted Weber's Charcoal Grilling, The Art of Cookwing with Live Fire for their suggestions on properly preparing my Weber Kettle. I'm finally a student of grilling after 30 years of winging it. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mayberry Christmas

Christmas Day 2008. It's late afternoon and I'm taking my first peek at the computer in over 24 hours. I've been back to Mayberry the past few days helping around the house, hanging with friends and family and especially our kids and their friends. It was great to hear my middle child say how the candle light Christmas Eve service was her favorite. It's great being back in Mayberry. Now I'm counting down the time to firing up the Weber to grill a Christmas dinner tenderloin. I've got both of Weber's great grilling books out along with Julia Child to get my game on, or should I say brush up my game. I've done nice expensive pieces of meat over the years and always winged it to fairly good success. Back then, most of the pressure I put quietly on myself. Now that I am in the grilling business the pressure is on from my newly vocal family- particularly my 83 year young mother-in-law who is worried I'll overcook the tenderloin. Meanwhile Susan is fretting over a crust. Back to Mayberry. That is my theme for this blog and our holiday time together. My wife and I were lucky enough to grow up in our own Mayberry's which were small towns in New Jersey and we were even luckier to find Mayberry in a smalltown in Georgia for our kids over 16 years ago. I have nothing but affection for Mayberry and all the Americana it stands for. The bedrock of America is Mayberry- honest, friendly, hard working people who care about everybody in the community. Mayberry is also about innocence, family, faith, hope and joy. Our kids don't get the Mayberry analogy but they will. Time to go prepare the tenderloin.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Greatest Gifts are Friends, Family and Customers!

One year ago my wife and I took the leap off the entrepreneurial cliff again. We had prepared for months and I had the full support of my employer at the time and the support of a great group of friends. Now a year later the support network is even stronger with a whole bunch of new friends like suppliers, new grill industry friends, press, and especially customers. Last week I reached out to this grate group of friends for ideas and advice for holiday grilling and I was delighted by so many grate ideas:
  • French Toast- we're trying that this weekend
  • Apples- partially cored, filled and grilled- ditto
  • Pork loin holiday style- designed for several days of nibbling
  • Even a large bologna roll that was grilled first then cut into thick slices, then add pockets and stuff with cheese and back on the grill! Rocky sent pictures of this grate creation using GrillGrates on a Big Green Egg.
  • Mike Jediny from NJ even mailed us his favorite spice so we can grill his kickin chicken recipe.
Speaking of Mike, he was the fellow who was steam cleaning his GrillGrates and planted the seed for me as we were testing the hard anodized GrillGrates. I just sent Mike a GrateBrush as an early Christmas present. Thanks again Mike and congratulations on bagging two bucks last weekend. Mike also sent in some interesting venison recipes.

Now for a quick Thanksgiving wrap-up. My wife (not I) has oven roasted our Thanksgiving turkey for the past 25 years- stuffed with my favorite sausage stuffing. So when I mouthed off about Alton Brown saying not to stuff the bird I got an earful and a subtle challenge to go ahead and grill it then. So for the first time 'we' grilled our Thanksgiving Turkey.

The bird was super juicy although I dare not rank it above birds of years past... It took just under 3 hours to grill. I had a drip pan under the bird and a separate pan next to it with water (I switched to beer since it was handy) to keep moisture in the grill. I think soaking in brine overnight was the real key.

I will admit to only going 1/2 way by doing it on my gas Charbroil and not the charcoal Weber. The Charbroil held its temperature and I had three of the four burners on as low as possible. Did it taste better off the gas grill? Tough call there. I think I know the answer- use the Weber next time- and I will. Weber put out an interesting survey about grilling Thanksgiving Turkey. Seems 10% of us headed outdoors to grill our birds. That jives with me being a "late" early adopter...

We sure freed up oven and kitchen space. I don't think we'll be roasting too many more Turkeys or chickens for that matter in the oven. I grilled a breakfast pizza early Thanksgiving morning and started the day off well. I also upgraded my carving skills which was overdue. I watched a The NY Times video with a butcher showing a different take on carving the turkey. At least I knew better than to carve at the table! Removing the entire breast and de-boning the dark meat made it a lot easier and the presentation was better too.

Only our middle child was able to get home this year for Thanksgiving. She's not used to being the center of attention- helping in the kitchen, at the grill, at the store. We enjoyed having her all to ourselves, but I think she missed having her siblings around which is a good thing. Friends, family and happy customers. Life is good.