| Kamado Joe "MoJoe" Newscast||April 2011 |
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|Summer Means MoJoe |
Getting summer started right.
Summer is on the horizon and that means warm sunny days, green grass and of course, grilling and smoking. We hear from many of you who cook year round in the most extreme climates, but warmer weather inspires more outdoor cooking for everyone.
With that in mind, this month’s issue of MoJoe is devoted to a recipe that will provide a little heat to get your grilling season started. Also, our product review details what I believe is one of the more innovative BBQ accessories on the market today.
I look forward to connecting with you on Facebook and elsewhere to share cooking tips and recipes throughout the summer.
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Recipe: Creole Shrimp with Grilled Rice
An explosion of Louisiana flavor.
Louisiana has a rich history of Cajun and Creole food dating back to 17th century America. Although many people use Creole and Cajun as an interchangeable word for Louisiana cooking, each is quite different. So, what is the difference between Creole and Cajun food?
In broad terms, Cajun cooking is rural and Creole cooking is urban. Cajuns are the descendants of refugees from French Canada who were expelled by the British and settled in Louisiana. They were a hardworking resilient people who served nutritious country food prepared from locally available ingredients and mainly cooked in a pot. Jambalaya is a good example.
On the other hand, Creoles were of French and Spanish descent and they preferred the more refined culinary traditions of Europe. Shrimp Etoufee has Creole roots. Another distinction between the cooking styles is that Creole recipes prepare the meat and sauce separately, while Cajun recipes typically cook everything together as a “one pot meal”.
Cajun and Creole cooks love to experiment with different amounts of ingredients and even the ingredients themselves. This recipe is Creole inspired with a touch of Cajun thrown in for good measure.
Prep Time: 90 minutes
Grill Time: 20 minutes
1 lb large shrimp, peeled
3/4 lb andouille sausage
1 16 oz. can Cajun or regular stewed tomatoes (chopped)
1 medium onion (chopped)
1 bell pepper (chopped)
1 stalk celery diced
3 cloves garlic diced
1/2 cup green onions (chopped)
1 handful of fresh cilantro (chopped)
1 bay leaf
1 cup water
1 cup white wine
4 tbsp flour
4 tbsp butter (2 tbsp for sauce, 2 tbsp for rice)
Creole seasoning to taste (or substitute with 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups short grain white rice
Serve with Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)
Instructions (Creole Sauce):
In a large pan, melt the butter over medium heat; slowly add the flour to the butter, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes. It will be done when it loses its flour aroma. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and celery and sauté for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, water, white wine, green onions, cilantro and Creole seasoning. Simmer covered for 30-40 minutes stirring frequently.
Tip: The sauce should be a thin gravy. If it’s too thin, slowly add a little more flour.
Instructions (Rice, Shrimp & Sausage):
It’s important to use short grain white rice rather than long grain rice, because short grain rice sticks together better. Prepare the rice according to the package. Allow the rice to cool enough to handle, but it should still be fairly hot. Place a square of plastic wrap on the counter and place a quarter of the rice in the center of it. Wrap the rice and form a 1” thick round disk, similar to making a thick hamburger patty. Place the shrimp and sausage on separate skewers. You should have two skewers of each.
1. Heat grill to 400°F and baste one side of each rice patty with butter. Place the rice patties on the coolest area of the cooking grate butter side down. Grill on one side for 5 minutes.
2. Baste the top side of the rice patties with butter and flip. Place the sausage skewers on the grill. Rotate the sausage after 3 minutes.
3. Add the shrimp skewers when you rotate the sausage and rotate the shrimp after 2 minutes. You want to make sure you do not overcook the shrimp, so be ready to pull them off as soon as they are fully pink.
Place one patty of grilled rice on each plate, remove the bay leaf from the sauce and pour over each rice patty. Place grilled shrimp and sausage on top and around the rice. Serve immediately.
Note: There will be a considerable amount of sauce left. You can freeze it for up to 2 months and make the recipe again quickly without the 90 minute prep time.
| Product Review: GrillGrate
Surprising simplicity and performance.
I met Brad Barrett, the Founder and President of GrillGrate at this year’s HPBExpo in March. I’ve seen his GrillGrates advertised online and I even entered a drawing for a set last year (I didn’t win). I asked Brad if he could send me a set to try out for this product review and he was happy to oblige.
GrillGrates come in a variety of sizes, and the set he sent me says it is for a “BGE Large”, but they will fit any 18” diameter grilling surface. Brad mentioned that he is in the process of changing his packaging to reflect the universal fit.
I was immediately impressed with the overall quality of the grates. The aircraft grade aluminum grates have an interlocking system and they are hard anodized. The anodizing process is an advantage, because it makes the grates harder than stainless steel and rust-proof. It also means that you can use a standard wire brush for cleaning.
One of the added benefits of the GrillGrate material is that they will season over time just like a cast iron grate. Season them just like cast iron by wiping or spraying oil on them prior to use, then just clean the top rails and remove any food particles from the valleys. The valleys will blacken over time.
Brad mentioned that they cook food at a slightly higher temperature, because the valleys of the grates hold the drippings of the food and create a convection effect under the food.
Finally, each set of GrillGrates includes a custom spatula for lifting, instead of scraping food off the grilling surface. The four tines of the spatula fit into the valleys of the grates, so you can easily get under the food when its ready to come off the grill.
I used this month’s recipe as a test to see how GrillGrates stacked up. I have to say I was surprised by the performance of such a simple design, and its ability to protect the tender foods I grilled. GrillGrates allow you to cook in a "semi-indirect" method, which allows the food to be grilled yet not charred. I like to grill bell peppers and they are very difficult to keep from getting blackened, which diminishes their sweet flavor. Less important are the grill marks you get from GrillGrates. The marks are wide and pronounced, which doesn't help with the flavor, but makes for a nice presentation.
- Easier to cook delicate foods like seafood and vegetables
- The design of the grates reintroduces the juices back into the food
- Prevents hot spots and flare ups
- Easy clean up when warmed
- Custom spatula (included) allows food to be lifted off, instead of scraped off
- Can be seasoned and oiled for a non-stick cooking surface
- Excellent design and materials for a long product life
- Thick grill marks and even heating without the maintenance of cast iron
- Informative website for recipes, use and maintenance.
- Reasonably priced given the benefits and product life
- Although very minor, they do slide around on top of the main cooking grate a little when trying to clean them or remove food. It’s best to brush them in one direction with one side of the grates butted up against the grill wall. The added space around the GrillGrates may be for air flow purposes. It would add to the overall experience of using them if there was a way to secure them to the main cooking grate.
The Last Word
I am surprised that Weber or some other large grill manufacturer didn’t develop this product years ago. It seems to be a well conceived and highly useful grill accessory in a sea cheap and uninspired outdoor cooking gadgets. Not to mention that all types of grills will accept GrillGrates due to the number of sizes and configurations. They also offer custom cut sizes for specific needs. GrillGrates can withstand temperatures over 1000°F, so they can also be used on campfires without any worry of warping or damage.
The website is a key benefit to new GrillGrate users with cleaning tips, a clear FAQ section for potential customers and over 80 recipes from tailgating to desserts. They also have a promotion running for one grate and the spatula for $19.95 plus shipping if you want to try them out. You can always buy more grates later, because the interlocking system is universal. I would not buy the two grate system as it doesn’t seem to be enough grilling space, but the three grate package seems just right for space and pricing at $54.99.
Tip: GrillGrates online store through their website is a lower price than Amazon’s.
I believe Brad has an innovative product with GrillGrates and I look forward to seeing and trying new products from this company in the future.
* Derald Schultz, Kamado Joe
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