By Richard George
Decisions, decisions, decisions
When it comes to red meat, it is hard to beat a meal of steak and potatoes, especially in the South. It can be a simple meal or a colorful, elegant meal. A sample menu could be steaks, baked potatoes and fresh asparagus – all cooked on the Big Green Egg, of course.
Ribeye steaks, 1.5-inch minimum thickness
Large baking potatoes
Fresh asparagus spears, both green and white
Fresh ground black pepper
Allegro Original Marinade
Pecan wood chunks
Depending on the number of guests attending this dinner, you might need to cook on two grills. Cooking over charcoal on the Big Green Egg is my preference.
Rinse the steaks and place them in a zip-top bag with enough Allegro Marinade to cover the steaks. Refrigerate for two or three hours. Prepare both grills for indirect heating to 225-250 degrees. Add two or three chunks of pecan wood to each charcoal fire. Chunks last longer than chips and do not need to be soaked in water.
Wash and dry the potatoes and pierce with a fork on all sides. Coat with olive oil and massage salt and pepper into skins. When the grill is stabilized, place the potatoes on the grill rack, not touching each other, and close the grill cover. Cooking time is two to two and a half hours.
Remove steaks from the refrigerator and discard the marinade. Salt and pepper the steaks to your taste preference and place on grill rack. Turn steaks every 15 minutes and lightly drizzle with olive oil to help retain moisture. Cooking time is approximately 45-60 minutes, but cook to internal temperature, not time. A steak cooked rare is 120-125 degrees internal temperature, medium is 135-145, and medium well is 145-155. When steaks have reached your desired doneness, remove from the grill, top with a pat of butter and tent with aluminum foil to let rest and therefore redistribute the natural juices.
Leave the grill top open to increase temperature to 300-350 degrees for cooking the asparagus. Wash asparagus spears and snap off the tough ends. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. A grilling basket works great or simply use tin foil to keep asparagus from falling into the fire. About 10-15 minutes is normal cooking time for asparagus to get soft and smoky. Immediately before serving, squeeze a small amount of fresh lemon juice on the asparagus spears.
The last step in preparing this meal is removing the potatoes from the grill and serving with toppings of butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits and chives.
A nice complement to this delicious and colorful meal is a room temperature red wine blend or a slightly chilled white chardonnay. Mollie Brown and Lara Isbell, wine director at the Open Bottle on Highway 72 W., suggest Leviathan as a nice red blend ($27) or Neyers Chardonney as a white ($27) to be served along with steaks.
On the other hand, it is just as hard to beat a spatchcock chicken with macaroni and cheese. You can add green beans for a more colorful meal.
4-pound whole chicken
Big Bob Gibson Original White Sauce
Emeril’s Blackened Seasoning Blend
Everglades Seasoning Blend
12 ounces elbow macaroni
1 stick butter
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1 cup milk
1 pound Velveeta cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 large can green beans
3/4 stick of butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
3 strips of bacon
Apple wood chunks
Spatchcock – sometimes referred to as butterfly – chicken cooks much quicker than a whole chicken.
Rinse the chicken well and pat dry. Place the chicken breast side down and use sharp poultry shears to cut along both sides of the backbone. Discard this backbone. Turn the chicken over and flatten with the heel of your hand so as to crack the ribcage. Push hard.
Rub olive oil over the entire chicken and sprinkle generously with Everglade seasoning, which is a salt-spice seasoning, and Emeril’s Blackened seasoning, a peppery blend. Place chicken in a large zip-top bag and refrigerate for six to eight hours.
Prepare your grills just as you did for the steak dinner for indirect heating of 225-250 degrees and add several apple wood chunks. Remember, hunks last longer than chips, and there is no need to soak in water.
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and zip-top bag. Place it on the grill, skin side up and close the lid. Smoke for approximately three hours or until the internal temperature of breast reaches 160 degrees and the thighs reach 165 degrees. Again, cook to internal temperature, not time!
My friend Chris Lilly, 15-time World Champion Memphis in May Pitmaster from Big Bob Gibson BBQ, would dunk the chicken in his special white sauce, but you might just drizzle the chicken with it periodically. Remove the chicken from the grill and tent with aluminum foil for 10-15 minutes. You can either pull or cut the chicken to serve and, again, drizzle with white sauce.
The second prepared grill is for cooking the Smoky Mac and Cheese. This recipe was shared by Heather and David George of the Cluck & Swine Bar B Que team.
Bring three cups of salted water to a boil and add 12 ounces of elbow macaroni. Cook five to six minutes. Drain the water. Add one stick of butter to the drained macaroni and let melt. Whisk together 1/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp. ground mustard and one cup milk. Pour this over macaroni. Cut one pound of Velveeta cheese into pieces and add to the macaroni mixture, add salt and pepper to taste, then stir well.
Spray an aluminum pan with PAM. Pour macaroni mixture into the aluminum pan and top with one cup breadcrumbs and one cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Smoke indirectly at 225-250 degrees for approximately two hours, until lightly browned. Remove from grill and keep warm in the oven.
Throw a handful of charcoal onto the fire and increase the temperature to 325-350 degrees.
Open one large can of green beans and drain. Place beans in a seasoned cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Slice one stick of butter into thin pieces and spread over the green beans. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of brown sugar over the butter and green beans. Shake in a few drops of garlic juice. Cut three strips of uncooked bacon into half-inch pieces and add to the beans. Cook for approximately 30 minutes until bubbly. The green bean mixture makes its own juice; however, stir several times during the 30-minute timeframe to make sure the green beans don’t dry out.
This white meat meal can be complemented with a nice red pinot noir. Mollie and Lara at The Open Bottle suggest Hahn Winery Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir ($23) or, if you prefer a chilled white wine, consider Chateau Ducasse Bordeaux Blanc ($15).
There are no right or wrong or even hard and fast rules on pairing red wines only with red meats or white wines only with white meats. It depends on your personal taste. Enjoy. Cheers. Salud.