Thursday, April 28, 2016

Cleaning Cast Iron Skillets and Carbon Steel Woks

It has probably happened to each of us at some point. You get a nice cast iron skillet seasoned to perfection and someone comes behind you and cleans it with soap or a degreaser. So how do you clean a cast iron skillet, or in this particular case, a carbon steel wok?

Dirty Wok
This Wok was dirty!

I reached for my wok the other day and it was nasty. It was dust covered, had food residue, probably some dog hair, and then towards the bottom, rust. A lot of people would probably throw it out at this point. But not me, I reached for the kosher salt.

First, I rinsed the wok in some water to remove as much of the dirt and grime as I could. I left about an inch water in the bottom of the wok and added some salt. The salt is going to act as an abrasive agent on the metal. Using a paper towel or rag, rub the salt around to remove the dirt, food and rust. When you're done, apply a thin coating of mineral oil to combat the elements. I like to let it sit on the stove to let all of the water evaporate off before I put my wok or cast iron skillets away.

Cleaning cast iron
Getting ready to scrub a cast iron skillet with Kosher sal

Clean Wok
Clean Wok!

I was pretty excited to have a clean wok, so I made some stir fry that ended up as a fried rice. I checked out a few recipes for inspiration and got started.

The recipe:

  • Peanut oil
  • 1/2 pound skirt steak - cubed, marinated in soy sauce
  • 1/2 onion - diced
  • 1 bell pepper - diced
  • 1/2 a package of mushrooms - diced
  • 1 head of broccoli - trimmed and chopped
  • 4 carrots - peeled and diced
  • 4 garlic cloves - crushed and minced
  • 1 cup rice - cooked (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • Soy sauce
  • White pepper
  • Sesame seeds (optional)
Heat up the wok and add 1 Tbsp of peanut oil. Toss in the skirt steak and quickly stir around with a spatula. When the skirt steak is cooked through, add the butter and garlic. Toss around to coat and remove the skirt steak to bowl. 

Add all veggies, minus the mushrooms, and stir around until the color changes. Add the mushrooms and give a quick stir. Add the skirt steak back in and stir to mix. Sprinkle in some white pepper and some soy sauce. 

At this point, you can leave it as it is and enjoy it as a stir fry, or add the rice and make a fried rice dish. If you go the rice route, add it a little at a time so you stir it in and avoid it sticking. Once the rice browns a little, it's done. 

Plate it up and add some sesame seeds on top and enjoy.

Once it cools, be sure to clean your wok or cast iron skillet as described above so it doesn't end up in the same neglected state as mine. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

9 Things You Should Never Do When Grilling

Most of you know I love to grill. This article has some really great tips for what not to do to get you grilling in the right direction.

9 Things You Should Never Do When Grilling:

'via Blog this'

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Crawfish Boil and Jambalaya

This weekend was one of my favorite times of the year, the annual Bonassin Boil! We're not math people, so we're not sure which one it was. We couldn't agree on the 7th or the 8th annual boil. Right or wrong, we went with number 8 for the logo to be emblazoned on cups and T-shirts. We all take on our own rolls to get the logistics of the boil accomplished. Various small dishes are brought and supplied by the party goers to round out the food selection for the day, but there are a few big items that must be handled to get things off the ground. Dad supplies the venue and much of the drinks, my brother, Will, takes on the task of cooking 265 pounds of crawfish and having the shirts printed, and I handle the transportation for the crawfish, cups, and an annual favorite, jambalaya!

My jambalaya has long, deep family tradition that starts with my grandmother. It has a smell that can evoke memories I make it. It is a staple that has been at most family gatherings since before I can remember. Once i got my hands on the recipe in college, I started to try a few different things, but always went back to the original.

It's easy to make jambalaya for a lot of people or for just a few. I'll list the ingredients as I made it for this weekend. The recipe is very non-specific when it comes to spices. It's a matter of preference.

The recipe:

  • 4 15 oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion - diced  
  • 2 green bell peppers - diced and seeded
  • 4 celery stalks - diced
  • 4 garlic cloves - minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 small pork chops
  • 4 links of sausage
  • 1 large ham steak
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco
  • Salt & pepper
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • 2 cups cooked rice

Add the vegetables to a heavy bottom pot with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Stir occasionally of medium heat until the color changes. Add the bay leaves and cook a few more minutes. You'll be able to tell when the bay leaves activate. Add the stewed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add the spices to taste and keep simmering until the meat is done.

I like to use a large cast iron skillet to cook the meat. I pile it on there and cover with a lid. Once the meat is done, chop it into small pieces and add it to the sauce.

Stir all of the ingredients together. Now that all of the flavors are together is the time to adjust any spices. I typically find that I haven't added enough Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. There's something about those that makes jambalaya taste like jambalaya.

When you add the rice, add a little bit at a time. The rice will absorb some of the liquid as you go it's always easier to add more. I used 2 cups for this recipe, but it may take more.

Friday, April 22, 2016

BBQ Chicken

Time to dust off the blog. I haven't been keeping up with it the past few years. Things are a little bit different for me now than they were at my last post. I have a new kitchen to play with, but I also have 2 little boys to play with, Oliver and Wes. They keep me pretty busy, but I am finding new inspiration from them every day, and I love watching them grow and learn new things.

The other day it was beautiful outside and decided to grill something. We settled on BBQ Chicken.

For this recipe gather the following:

  • A Grill - preferably a charcoal grill
  • Charcoal and wood - I prefer lump charcoal vs briquettes. I like to mix in different flavors with the wood I use. I've been really in to pecan, oak, apple, and cherry woods. I typically soak the wood in a bucket of water to provide more smoke. It also helps control the heat.
  • Chicken - This time I used some boneless, skinless chicken thighs. That's what was available in the fridge, but I prefer skin on, bone in chicken. I typically grill a mix of pieces. 
  • Sauce
  • BBQ Rub
Both the sauce and BBQ rub are preferential. Pick what you like. I'm not using anything that can't be found in any local grocery store.

Get the grill going while the chicken is prepped. I use a chimney starter to light the charcoal; never use lighter fluid. Get the grill to around 350 degrees.

Apply a generous amount of the BBQ rub to the chicken and set it on the grill away from the heat. Once the bottom and sides start to change color, flip the chicken to the other side. This is usually 20 to 30 minutes per side.

With both sides cooked, use a brush or mop to apply some sauce generously to the chicken. Let it sit a few minutes and flip. Add sauce to the other side. Let it sit a few minutes and the chicken is done.

A few things to try with the chicken is some smoked sausage or an onion. I'll add the onion as soon as I put the chicken on and let the smoke do it's work. If I'm adding sausage to the mix, I'll add it after I flip the chicken the first time. Sausage is typically precooked and just needs to be reheated.

BBQ chicken pairs well with a lot of different foods. Coleslaw, potato salad, corn, the list goes on and on. I made some pinto beans, mac and cheese, and cornbread to go along with mine.


Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed Mushrooms with Steak and Loaded Mashed Potatoes It's no secret I like to grill. Steaks, chicken, pork, seafood, vegetables, ...