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YIELD: Serves 2-3
TIME: 30 minutes
From sprinkling flaky salt on a thick-cut heirloom, to snacking on little sungolds like we’re snacking on popcorn, we believe there is no wrong way to eat a tomato. But there are many ways to eat them right. When combined with at least one (if not all) of the following — salt, olive oil, fresh basil, garlic, Duke’s mayonnaise, lemon or cheese — tomatoes can never lose. Which makes salad a real winner: it hits each and every one of those ace tomato accompaniments, making it possibly the best tomato salad on planet earth. This salad goes beautifully with a simply seasoned and beautifully grilled steak, a fresh baguette from your favorite local baker, and a chillable red wine.
1 medium-large tomato, any variety
2 squash (yellow, striped, or whatever you like best)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, microplaned or grated
2 tablespoons Duke’s mayonnaise
1 – 2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 – 3 tablespoons of your favorite soft herbs, rough chopped or torn (basil, parsley, chives, oregano, dill, or cilantro)
½ fennel bulb
2 – 4 tablespoons fat (butter, olive oil, avocado oil, bacon fat, or whatever you have on hand)
¼ cup castelvestrano olives, pitted and sliced or rough-chopped
Freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Slice the squashes in half, lengthwise. Season the cut side with salt and pepper and set aside.
Using the tip of your serrated tomato knife, carefully remove the core. Slice the tomato in half, and then slice each half into thin ¼” wedges. Carefully transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add grated garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and soft herbs. Gently mix to combine and set aside.
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat. While it’s heating up, prepare the fennel: face it cut-side down and, leaving a bit of the core in-tact to keep it from falling apart, slice fennel into ¼” slices. Season with salt.
Once the cast-iron is hot, melt 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan and spread fennel out in an even layer so that every piece is touching the surface of the pan. Lay another cast-iron skillet on top to press the fennel down, ensuring a hard sear. Cook for 5 – 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Once golden and beautiful, remove from pan and set aside to cool. Leave fennel pieces as-is with the root piece in-tact, or feel free to chop the root off, creating smaller fennel pieces. Add fennel to tomato; stir gently to combine.
Increase heat on cast iron to medium-high. Use a paper towel to pat the squash dry, removing any excess moisture the salt may have drawn out. Once skillet is hot, add another tablespoon of fat to the pan if necessary, and then lay the squash cut side down onto the pan. Just like the fennel, set secondary cast iron and set on top to get a sear across the entire surface. Cook until color is golden brown, 5 – 10 minutes. Once golden color is reached, turn heat down to medium-low and let squashes finish cooking until tender but not falling apart; about 4-5 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool. Once squash has cooled enough to touch with your fingers, slice each half into half-inch moons.
Use a slotted spoon to strain tomato-fennel mixture from their juices, reserving the liquid for later. In your favorite serving bowl, create a long mound of tomato-fennel mixture on one side, and do the same with the squash on the other side.
Scatter olives on top and use a micro-plane to shave Pecorino or Parmesan cheese across the surface of the salad. Feel free to drizzle reserved tomato-fennel liquid on top for additional dressing, or reserve for another use.
GRILLED CABBAGE CAESAR SALAD
YIELD: Serves 4
TIME: 30 minutes, plus 2 hours seasoning
Sure, grilling meat is great but have you tried grilling other stuff? Like vegetables? Fruits? Breads? Pizzas? Pop Tarts? Okay, we can’t say we’ve gone that far, but we can say we’ve tried our hand at the rest of ‘em, and second to meat, vegetables rank very highly on our list of favorite grillables. Just letting a vegetable hang out in the heat and smoke can transform it into something that seems wholly different than what it was before. So, with that in mind, why not use the grill to transform another dish we know and love so well…into something that seems wholly different, too? Please see: the Grilled Cabbage Caesar Salad.
1 head green cabbage
1/3 cup roasted & salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
1 generous handful homemade croutons, chopped
Salt and pepper
DUKE’S CAESAR DRESSING:
1 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan — optional
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, microplaned or very finely minced
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
Using a large chef’s knife, cut cabbage into small wedges, about 8 per head of cabbage, keeping the core intact. Season liberally with salt and pepper and let sit, uncovered and unrefrigerated for 2 hours.
Prepare your grill. When the charcoal is hot and ready, dump it all onto one side of the grill instead of scattering it evenly across the bottom; this creates a gradient of heat that allows you to control how quickly the cabbage will cook.
*Click here to learn more of our handy grilling tips.
Coat cabbage wedges with olive oil. Grill, cut-side down, directly on the hottest spot of the grill, until good color forms. Don’t be afraid of getting them into the flames for darker color! Flip over until grill marks form on the other side. Move the cabbage into the indirect heat to finish cooking until tender to the touch. Remove from grill and rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Caesar dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until combined. Set aside.
Cut the core out of the cabbage and discard. Then cut each wedge in half, crosswise. Spoon Caesar dressing on the bottom of a serving plate, like you’re making a bed for the cabbage to lie on. Arrange cabbage on plate, on top of the dressing. Dollop cabbage with more dressing wherever your heart desires. Top with chopped peanuts, grated Pecorino, chopped croutons and freshly ground black pepper.
Cooking Sausage to Perfection
Have you ever come home with a pound of your favorite sausage links, gone outside to throw them on the grill, and then cracked open a beer only to realize 5 minutes later that the pink and spicy insides were shockingly exploding out of both ends of the link? It’s an unsightly scene, and one that can really put a damper on the picture-perfect dinner you had in mind.
But the good news is, a scene such as that one won’t be making an appearance much longer.
Because your Bare Bones butchers want to ensure your experience goes swimmingly from meat counter to meal, we figured we’d offer a bit of insight on how to cook a sausage that’ll be social media-primed, if not completely cookbook-worthy.
CHECK OUT OUR SAUSAGE COOKING TIPS:
1. Start them on low indirect heat; finish them on high direct heat
Regardless of whether you’re planning to grill your links or cook them in a cast-iron skillet, it’s your safest bet to start them on low indirect heat first, before hitting the high heat second. So, what is indirect heat? When it comes to the grill, it basically means sausage social distancing. Instead of laying down a sausage directly atop a hot flame — which, in all fairness, is something we would recommend when cooking a steak — try setting your sausage away from the heat to cook slowly. This slow and steady method will prevent the casing from shrinking too quickly, thus forcing the interiors to explode out the ends.
When using a charcoal grill, dump the hot charcoal onto one side and then use the opposite side of the grill as the indirect heat source. When it comes to gas, set the heat to medium-low and then give those links their distance by starting them on the grill’s upper level. Once the sausage feels firm to the touch, like it’s cooked through, then you can transfer them into the direct heat to get those beautiful grill marks.
And if the rain ruins your grilling plans? Throw your sausages into a room-temp cast iron skillet and transfer to a cold oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F and when it reaches temp, let the sausages continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove skillet from oven and remove sausages from skillet. Rest sausages for about 10 minutes, and then crank up the heat on that cast iron skillet and sear the sausages until they have pretty color.
2. Let them rest!
Just like you’d do with a fresh-off-the-grill ribeye, you have to let sausages rest after coming off the heat. Think of the sausage fat like butter: when butter is hot and liquidy, you don’t want to touch it, much less eat it. But give it a few minutes to cool and it becomes a semi-solid, creamy and delicious substance. Sausage fat works the exact same way. Because high heat causes fat to liquify, allowing the sausages to cool before slicing or biting into them will ultimately keep all of that good, juicy flavor inside the casing and will also prevent any scalding hot dribbles from burning your chin. Let them cool for 5 minutes minimum, 10 if you can manage to wait that long.
2. Cook them straight from the fridge
Good news: although you do have to wait for your sausage to cool down once it’s come off the heat, you don’t have to wait for it to warm up to room temp before you cook it. Although some schools of thought suggest that steaks and chops, for example, should be brought to room temperature before hitting the heat, it turns out this myth that has been disproven! And in reality, it just isn’t necessary. Besides, letting any meat sit at room temperature for too long puts them into “the danger zone” of temperatures where bacteria is able to thrive. And while a whole muscle like a steak wouldn’t breed said bacteria as readily, a sausage, which is made of ground meat mixed with spices and other ingredients, would prove a much better breeding ground for that kind of thing. So just keep them cold until you’re ready to cook. Easy breezy.
GRILLED ZUCCHINI SALAD
YIELD: Serves 4-6
TIME: 35 minutes
In a time when dreaming of travel to far-off places feels far-off in and of itself, this salad transports us — albeit acutely momentarily — to somewhere in smack the Mediterranean. A dish filled with fresh flavors of the region like juicy summer squash, briny-sweet peppers and bright, punchy herbs, it’s a great summer dish. Although intended as a side dish, when paired with a couple slices of grilled bread and a chilled bottle of vinho verde, this salad could make a play as a light dinner for two.
2 zucchini or yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup peppadew peppers, chopped
3 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
2 cups arugula, packed
1 sprig basil, about 8 leaves, torn
1 sprig mint, about 8 leaves, torn
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Season zucchini with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Let sit for 15 minutes.
Grill zucchini over direct heat until grill marks begin to show and desired color is reached. Remove from grill and cut each half into 1” half-moons. Mix grilled zucchini with chopped peppadews and roasted red peppers. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Make the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in a medium bowl until emulsified. Set aside.
Mix arugula, basil and mint in a shallow serving bowl and dress with balsamic dressing — be careful as you may not need all of the dressing. Then top the salad with zucchini and pepper mix and serve room temperature.
Cook’s Note: This recipe can also be achieved on a charcoal grill; simply grill the bird over indirect heat, on the opposite side of the grill from the hot charcoal. Click here to learn more.
BBBQ PORK LOIN
YIELD: Serves 4-6
TIME: 1 1/2 – 2 hours, plus overnight seasoning
An extra B in BBQ? It can only mean one thing: extra, better BBQ. Featuring our BBBQ Rub, which does the majority of the heavy lifting in bringing sweet heat and crispy crunch to the surface of the pork, the most challenging part of preparing this recipe will be monitoring your beer intake while you spend a couple of hours at its side. Be sure to use either a smoker or a charcoal grill to prepare this recipe — gas grills will unfortunately not cut it here — and have fun trying out different types of wood to see which ones you like the most. That’s all part of the fun!
3 pound Pork Loin
3-4 tablespoons kosher salt
3/4 cup BBBQ Rub
1 bottle Your Favorite Barbecue Sauce
One day ahead, season the entire surface of the pork loin with kosher salt and press into the meat as if to stick it to the surface. Recover with butcher paper and let sit, refrigerated for 3-4 hours.
Using a paper towel, pat dry the surface of the pork, removing any excess moisture that has precipitated from salting. Rub entire surface of the pork loin with BBBQ Rub and, similar to the method with salting, press the seasoning into the surface of the meat. You may find you need more or less seasoning than the suggested3/4 cup; that’s totally fine, just use as much as you need to cover the surface of the meat, fat cap and all. Re-cover with butcher paper and let sit, refrigerated overnight.
The next day, prepare your charcoal grill or smoker: When the charcoal is hot and ready, dump it all onto one side of the grill instead of scattering it evenly; this creates a gradient of heat that allows you to control how quickly the meat will cook. We also threw 1 hardwood log on there to offer an additional smoky element; you could also add wood chunks or chips until your desired level of smokiness has been reached.
Grill the pork loin, settling it over indirect heat instead of directly on top of the flames. Utilizing the side opposite the heat source will allow the meat to cook more slowly and stay juicier along the way. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, flipping the meat about every 15-20 minutes to ensure even cooking, while also getting a nice crust on all sides. If you notice that the meat is cooking too quickly, simply pull it off the heat and let the grill cool down a bit, then resume. If the grill becomes too cool, add more coals to stoke the fire. You’re going for a final internal temperature of 140 F (Med Rare) to 155 F (Med Well), so when you’re about 15 degrees away from your desired final temp, begin basting the meat with barbecue sauce; about 30 minutes. Remove from grill.
Loosely tent pork loin with foil to rest until ready to serve; at least 15 minutes.
Slice thinly and serve with barbecue sauce.
6 Tips to Master the Grill
Punctuated by the likes of graduation ceremonies, beach trips, pool parties and picnics, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer. And while it’s typically spent celebrating with family and friends, as we lie in the narrow wake of a global pandemic, we have a hunch that the typical festivities we’ve enjoyed in years past will this year be rather limited.
But if we know one thing for certain, it’s that firing up the grill and cooking for a crowd [of any size] will never disappear from our MDW plans.
SO, HOW DO YOUR GRILL SKILLS STACK UP?
Whether you’re celebrating the start to summer with just your dog and your roommate or your entire quaran-team of ten is joining you on the back patio, the pressure is ON to grill up a Memorial Day feast that you’ll be salivating over for years to come. Because…what else will we have to think back on fondly?
To make sure your skills on the grill will make a lasting impression, our very own Wesley Adams has offered up a few simple tips that will make your MDW totally lit.
1. USE A CHARCOAL GRILL – NOT GAS.
While we can understand the appeal of gas grills, ten times out of ten we will suggest you use the charcoal variety. Think about it: the entire reason to use the grill is to impart that delicious, charred, smoky, woodsy flavor onto whatever it is you’re preparing. You simply can’t get that from gas. But our preference doesn’t just stop with the grill, itself. Great food begins with great ingredients; and when it comes to grilling, charcoal is ingredient zero.
2. USE QUALITY CHARCOAL
And get a bag of the good stuff — not the dinky briquettes. Even though briquettes sometimes boast even, longer-lasting heat, lump charcoal has the ability to get hotter overall, which means a better sear for whatever you’re preparing. Furthermore, lump charcoal will not only impart deep, delicious flavor onto your food, but it will also help maintain the premium quality for which Bare Bones’ products are known. Because, did we mention? Chemicals and additives are used to produce those pellet-like briquettes. That means that if you opt to grill with them, your food will be made with chemicals and additives, too. Gross. Who wants to ingest unnecessary chemicals? Not us.
3. CONTROL THE HEAT; CONTROL THE MEAT
Lump charcoal creates a powerful heat gradient, which is a real game-changer when it comes to grilling. “As opposed to scattering the charcoal evenly across the bottom of the grill, I dump it all onto one side and leave the other side empty,” says Wesley. “That way I have one side that’s crazy-hot and one side that’s moderate.”
This means you can grill directly on the hot spot to sear your steak or chop, and then move it to the indirect heat to finish cooking it through. Why? Because if you don’t finish it in the moderate heat, it’ll be undercooked or even raw on the inside; it’s just like if you seared a big steak on the cast-iron but didn’t finish it in the oven. Alternatively, with sausages you’ll want to start them on indirect heat until they’re fairly firm and starting to sizzle, and then move them to the direct heat to get some char and color. If you’d put the sausages directly onto the hotspot first, they would expand too quickly and explode out of their casings. No Bueno.
4. USE PROPER SUBSTRATES TO START YOUR FIRE AND KEEP IT HOT
Using appropriate fire-starters to heat things up can actually make or break your grill out. Instead of using lighter fluid to set your charcoal aflame, we suggest stuffing the bottom of your fire chimney with brown paper bags or egg cartons (like those you would get from BBB), and then set the paper materials aflame to ultimately heat up the charcoal. This slow burn method will do exactly that: slowly and evenly heat up the charcoal.
5. OIL YOUR GRILL GRATE
The fact of the matter is, your grill grate will end up tarnishing and rusting over time. But by oiling the grate, you can prolong the lifespan of your grill and best of all, end up seasoning your grate like you would a good skillet. Simply drizzle some oil onto your grill brush and go to town right before you put the food on (if you don’t have a grill brush, you could also ball up some tin foil and drizzle oil on that.) Doing so will of course help the food not stick, but it will also prevent the rust from completely ruining your grill. That said, don’t fear the rust — just give it a little love.
6. BE CREATIVE
We love grilling steaks, chops, drumsticks, hot dogs — all the meats; you name ‘em — but have you ever tried cutting an avocado in half, drizzling it with a little salt and oil, and then throwing it onto the grill to char before adding it to your green salad? What about pizza night over the flames? Or dessert al fresco? Perhaps your standard Caesar salad could get an upgrade by grilling quarters of romaine and then serving it more like a steakhouse wedge. Heck, the best way to get better at grilling is to just keep grilling, so you may as well have a little fun with it.