As autumn gently passes giving way to a winter wonderland, with sugar plums dancing in our heads, the merriest of holiday seasons arrive while Saint Nick makes final preparations and reading line by line, one last time, through his Naughty and Nice List. But, well-before Dasher and Dancer, Prancer and Vixen embark on the most historic of annual adventures, circumnavigating that jolly old elf around the globe direct to your rooftop chimney, now is the last chance to ensure your beloved Grill Master’s wish list is fulfilled with their every flame-fueled hope, well-seasoned dream, and barbequed desire.
Roasted heirloom roma tomato & fresh herb soup crafted with buttery pine nuts, parmesan, creme fraiche, a garden of coarse seasoning & toasted wholegrain sourdough croutons. A twist on one of my favorite soul-soothing fall recipes, learned while working in the old world kitchens of Baja, Mexico. Elementary and simplistic in preparation, yet complex, deep and rich in flavor.
This soup starts with a base of sliced heirloom tomatoes, red onion and smashed cloves of garlic, all roasted over a bed of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, parsely, sage and flowering chives, then drizzled with a rich and robust olive oil, dusted with 2 pinches of sugar and dried cayenne pepper, then topped with a handful of pine nuts, and seasoned liberally with coarsely ground sea salt and black peppercorns.
Roasted in a woodfire oven at 400F until the tomatoes begin to char and the onions caramelize. After resting for 5 minutes, spoon all contents of the pan, including juices, oils, seasonings and carbonized bits into a blender (or food processor), with parmesan cheese, chicken stock, milk and a quarter-cup of cream. Pulse and blend for one minute.
To plate, spoon the soup into a bowl and garnish with a dollop of creme fraishe, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs, and roasted sourdough croutons. Season additionally, to taste, and serve. ¡Salud!
Roasted Heirloom Roma Tomato and Fresh Herb Soup
- 3 pounds heirloom roma tomatoes sliced
- 2 red onions thinly sliced
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 large handful of toasted pine nuts plus additional for garnish
- Sprigs of fresh basil oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme
- 6-8 stalks of flowering chives
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 pinches of sugar and dried ground cayenne pepper
- Coarsely ground sea salt and black peppercorn to taste
- 3/4 cup parmesan cheese
- 1 cups sodium-free chicken stock
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- To garnish:
- Creme fraiche
- Fresh herbs
- Sourdough croutons
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Slice tomatoes, onions, and smashed garlic, then layer evenly across a roasting pan lined with a bed of fresh herbs and flowering chives. Drizzle with olive oil, dust with 2 pinches of sugar and dried cayenne pepper, top with a large handful of pine nuts, and season liberally with sea salt and black peppercorns.
- Roast in the oven, uncovered, until tomatoes begin to char and onions caramelize, approximately 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for 5 minutes. Separate rosemary and thyme leaves from their sprigs, discarding the sprigs. Spoon contents of the pan, including juices, oils, seasonings and carbonized bits into a blender (or food processor). Add Parmesan cheese, chicken stock, milk and a quarter-cup of cream. Toss back in rosemary and thyme leaves. Pulse, then blend on high for one minute, or until desired consistency achieved.
- To plate, spoon soup into a bowl, garnish with a dollop of creme fraishe, toasted pine nuts, fresh herbs, and roasted sourdough croutons. Season additionally, to taste, and serve.
Man vs. Wild. The genesis of our species directly and intimately tied with outdoor cooking – The most primal of experiences, both leveraging & seducing every degree of our senses. 10,000 years ago a means of survival. Today, a romantic connection point between flame and our forefathers.
Defined in our current time by it’s integration of smoke – barbeque most commonly employs smoldering wood chips, chunks, pellets, and/or logs. The intent of smoke application is exponentially elevating the flavor profile of grilled fare by imparting the natural, earthy essence of carbonizing hardwoods in a dry, indirect and low heat cooking environment. But, as pit master purists proclaim, “There’s low and slow cooking, then there’s barbeque.” Cooking is a science. Barbeque an art.
Inspired by my recent trek far into the land before time, Argentinian Patagonia, and camping adventures across the American National Parks, this recipe draws upon the asado-style cooking techniques of South American Gauchos. Leveraging smoldering livefire, massive carnal hunks of grass-fed cattle, and simple, yet bold seasonings to slowly cultivate the most succulent, pull-from-the-bone beef ribs on God’s Green Earth. All paired with grilled olive oil and sea salt Brussels sprouts, then washed down with 2 handfuls of ice cold craft root beer.
Perfection, right?! Well. Read onward for my recommendations to confidently construct a sustainable barbeque fire and how to prepare beef ribs like a backwoods boss.
Long live the adventure. Cheers!
Top 5 Recommendations for confidently building a sustainable backwoods fire to grill, barbeque and smoke incredible 5-star fare:
1. Safety first. Ensure you’re stationed in an open-air, outdoor cooking-approved zone, the fire pit is both lined with stone & dug at least 12-18″ deep. In the event flames must be tamed, maintain a bucket of water or sand on hand at all times. And, above all, never, ever leave your fire unattended – Unless you desire an army of Park Rangers, a cavalry of horseback Mounties, Smoky the Bear & Homeland Security hunting your guilty-as-charged, forest-fire-starting, soon-to-be sitting-behind-bars, broke-as-a-joke ass down, like wounded prey.
2. To effectively construct a campfire, use the following process – Stack & ignite Tinder (small dry twigs, leaves, brush, etc.) at base of the fire pit. Then add Kindling (dry, finger-sized branches) over the Tinder. Finally, arrange Firewood (forearm to bicep-sized logs) around the Kindling in a teepee-fashion. Light the fire from it’s tinder base, allowing one layer upon the other to produce a self-sustaining flame. As needed, feed your flame with additional tinder and oxygen until the firewood begins to smolder.
3. Never use softwoods, plastics, news papers, or artificial fluids to ignite or maintain a flame. Angels lose their wings & baby kittens cry when this happens. The aforementioned are all infectious to the flavor of your final product & will spoil the edibility of any grilled fare. The primary ingredients to a healthy campfire are… Wood and fire. Period. As you are electing woods for fueling your grilling pit, choose between dry hardwoods or fruit woods – Hickory, Pecan, Walnut, Maple & Mesquite or Apple, Cherry & Peach Wood.
4. Wood fires are extremely hot – much more so than your traditional gas or charcoal grill, radiating intense amounts of infrared heat. The art of outdoor rustic cooking lies in controlling the flame, smoke & temperature. Cooking too hot will carbonize your fare instantly. Cooking too low will produce proteins tasting of a bowling alley ash tray. The key – Allow the fire to super-heat the grill grates while the wood smolders down until ashes glow bright orange-pink & emanating smoke subsides. Note: a mature fire could take upwards of 45min-1hr to develop – Crack a beer or 2, relax & enjoy the scenery.
5. Next, establish a 2-zone cooking surface by: Raking ⅔ of the smoldering embers to one side of the pit. Then, slant the embers down to the lower, opposite side of the grill, establishing 1 higher-piled direct-heat hot zone & 1 lower-piled, indirect-heat cooler zone. Leverage this strategy to sear high-hot to encrust, then bring food to temp low & slow, basting intermittently to both maintain protein moisture, infuse smoky essence & develop a well-balanced crust.
Also, note that for every 30-45 minutes of cooking, add a log or 2 of firewood to grillpit’s hot zone. This is critical for maintaining sustainability of heat, particularly when cooking tougher or larger cuts of meat & whole birds, that may require longer cooking periods.
Argentinean-Style Backwoods Barbequed Beef Ribs
- 2 gargantuan slabs of beef ribs trimmed and membrane removed
- Canola oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt and ground peppercorn per pound
- 2 tablespoons ancho chili powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 can of beer poured into a spray bottle, plus additional to drink
- Light and stoke your fire. Once the wood has ashed over, create your 2-zone grilling surface, per notes section below - Temperature of the fire should maintain near 250-300F, while every 30-45min adding a new log the the flame.
- Meanwhile, rinse ribs with cold water, then pat entirely dry with paper towel. Brush with oil, then massage a liberal degree of seasonings across all portions of the slab. Seal the ribs tightly with tin foil after pouring a few ounces of beer in the bottom of the pouch. Lay the rib packet bone-side down over the cooler zone grill grates. Cook for 2 hours, rotating once.
- Remove the ribs from tin foil and place back over cool zone grill grates, bone-side down, for an additional 1 hour, spraying intermittently with beer and rotating every 20 minutes. When the meat begins to pull back from the bone by near 1 inch, move the ribs over direct heat - searing to carbonize and finish the exterior.
- Remove ribs from grill and place on a cutting board. Rest 10-15 minutes prior to serving. Season additionally, to taste, and plate.
LIVE from FOX Television’s outdoor studio with my BBQ partner in crime, Todd Chance. Grilling a Northern Michigan-Memorial Day inspired outdoor feast. Stay tuned. Stay hungry. And, Good Bless America!
CLICK PHOTOS BELOW FOR LINK TO RECIPES! CHEERS TO BEERS & LONG LIVE THE LONG WEEKEND!
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○Cherry Barbeque Cider Can Chicken
○Blood Orange & Cherry Mint Salad
Apple-Cherry Lager Snake Bite
- 1.5 oz cherry liqueur
- 8 oz sweet hard cider
- 6-8 oz crisp craft lager beer
- Fresh cherries and mint to garnish
- Pour 1.5oz cherry liqueur in bottom of mug over cherries and mint. Fill remainder of glass with a sweet hard cider and a crisp craft lager beer. Stir. Garnish with cherries & mint. Cheers!