To me, there’s nothing better than firing up the grill on a summer weekend, sharing incredible grilled fare around the fire, and creating memories with family and loved ones. And, this Independence Day I’m teaming up with my friends from Kingsford to do just that – we’re celebrating America’s birthday in style and throwing down a locally-inspired farm-to-fire feast here at our home in the rustic north of pure and wild Michigan!!
I couldn’t be more excited, as I’m breaking in my ultra-brand new pellet grill fueled by Kingsford’s Classic Wood Pellets and cultivating a mouthwatering 3-course spread employing freshly-harvested seasonal produce, richly-marbled sustainable proteins, bold textures and big flavors!
Kingsford was my pellet fuel choice for three key reasons:
- No bull____ – Kingsford’s pellets are crafted with 100% all-natural hardwoods, without chemically-engineered binders, fillers, flavored oils or preservatives. I’m not only cooking cleaner and more safely!
- Versatility – It’s the name of the game in pellet-fired cooking. Kingsford’s pellets offer the fuel substance to not only cook slow and low for hours, but within moments I can turn the dial and sear with direct grilling temperatures reaching up to 725F. That’s just incredible!
- Flavor – The smoky essence infused by Kingsford’s pellets is entirely authentic! While a bag of Classic and Signature Pellets represent a blend of hardwoods that are perfect for almost any type of cook, I can pick also pick up bags of hickory, maple and cherrywood to more ideally compliment the meal being prepared – see the guide below!
The centerpiece of this spread are these richly-marbled hunks of Australian pasture-raised and grassfed beef filet mignon. Seasoned boldly with kosher salt, black peppercorn, roasted garlic and rolled around the edges in a blend of activated charcoal, dried oregano, parsley and thyme. Seared beautifully at 725F inside my 304-grade stainless steel pellet grill fueled by Kingsford Classic Hardwood Pellets. Prepared to medium-rare perfection, carved across the grain into medallions and plated atop a creamy sautéed wild asparagus and mushroom parmesan risotto.
Creamy Wild Asparagus and Mushroom Parmesan Risotto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon roasted garlic, minced
- 6-8 oz wild mushrooms
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup dry white wine, nothing fancy
- 1 cup finely chopped asparagus and asparagus tips
- 6 oz parmesan cheese, plus additional for plating
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- Balsamic reduction, to garnish
- Lemon zest and fresh herbs, to garnish
- In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, a boil and butter. Lightly sauté shallots until just translucent, then add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the mushrooms have released their water and just being to turn golden in color. Add rice and stir to thoroughly to combine. Pour in wine and whisk about until the liquids are entirely reduced. Then, add one cup of boiling stock at a time, stirring consistently until each new batch of liquid is absorbed. After the 5th cup, add the asparagus. Prepare until al dente, fold in parmesan, season to taste, then garnish with fresh herbs and lemon zest.
Pellet Wood-Fired Australian Grassfed Filet Mignon
- 6 beeffilet mignon steaks, 1.5-2” thick and tied with kitchen string
- Olive oil
- Pink sea salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- Activated charcoal
- Granulated roasted garlic
- Dried oregano, parsley and thyme
- Unsalted compound butter prepared with fresh leaves of chopped parsley and thyme
- Rest steaks at uncovered until near room temperature. Tie down the steaks with kitchen string for uniformity and evenness in cooking.Season liberally with oil, salt and pepper. Combine activated charcoal, roasted garlic and dried herbs, then roll edges of the steak until blackened all the way around.Prepare the pellet grill to max temperature. Place steaks over direct heat with the grill lid open. Char for 3-4 minutes per side,turning intermittently, until the internal temperature reads 130F. Remove steaks from grill, place upon a cooling rack and top with a dollop of compound butter.Rest for 5-7 minutes before carving into medallions on a bias against the grain. PlatingTo plate this dish, neatly spoon the risotto onto the serving dish. Rest the carved slices of filet mignon atop the risotto. Garnish with shaved parmesan, lemon zest and fresh herbs. Splash with balsamic reduction. Serve!
To serve, the steak and risotto were garnished with lemon zest, purple basil and a splash of balsamic reduction, then sided by a smoked stone fruit salad with apricots, cherries and plums baked inside the pellet grill until tender and caramelized wall to wall. Tossed with a garden of summer greens, shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and a tangy cherry vinaigrette.
Roasted Stone Fruit Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Sweet Cherry Vinaigrette
Roasted Stone Fruit
- 12 apricots,halved and pitted
- 2 cups cherries, halved and pitted
- 4 plums, halved and pitted
- Vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Cherry Vinaigrette – Ingredients
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus ½ cup
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 cup cherries, pitted and chopped
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Kosher salt and fresh ground peppercorn, to taste
- In cast iron skillet warm olive oil, then sauté shallot until translucent and add garlic. Prepare until just garlic is fragrant. In same pan add cherries and reduce for 10-15 minutes. Add all ingredients into a food processor and puree. Set aside to cool. PlatingPlate this dish by tossing roasted fruits with an assortment of summer greens and fresh herbs. Dress with the cherry vinaigrette. Garnish with shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts and lemon zest. Serve.
And, for a sweet treat to finish the meal we prepared my very favorite summer dessert, stuffed granny smith apple crisp! Cored and loaded to the brim with the most decadent homemade filling, baked in the pellet grill at 350F until the apples are plump and just fork-tender. Plated while warm and topped with vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of caramel, salted pecans and leaves of chocolate mint from our garden.
Smoky Apple Crisp Stuffed Apples with Vanilla Ice Cream and Buttery Caramel Sauce
- 6 large granny smith apples
- 2 cups finely diced granny smith apples
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 oz bourbon
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Caramel sauce, to garnish
- Fresh leaves of mint, to garnish
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
- 1/2 cup salted and toasted pecans, finely chopped, plus additional for garnish
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- Preheat pellet grill to 400F. Meanwhile, core and hollow out apples. Discard scraps. In a medium-sized cast iron skillet sauté diced apples,butter, bourbon, brown sugar and cinnamon, until the apples are caramelized and tender. Set aside to cool. Prepare the topping by combining all dry ingredients with butter until the mixture holds together. Crumble by hand and set aside.Pour a tablespoon of caramel sauce into the bottom of the cored apple. Fill with 2-3 tablespoons of apple sauté. Fill to the brim with homemade crumble. Bake in the grill over indirect heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the apple is cooked through and fork tender, and the crumble is golden in color.PlatingServe the apples warm, family-style, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for each apple, drizzle with caramel sauce and garnish with fresh mint.
My wife, kiddos and friends who attending this dinner all agree – this is what it’s all about!! Just an incredible afternoon and evening enjoying amongst those I love and care for the most. -Blessings to all and happy birthday, America! -David