Barbecue Bible!

Our textbook
Season 2

Show 203: BBQ from Soup to Nuts

Ever think you could cook a dinner from soup to nuts right on the grill? Steven demonstrates a whole meal cooked right there on a pair of Weber grills. He starts with a wonderfully smoky grilled corn chowder, follows with Goat Cheese Grilled in Grape Leaves, fires up a colorful Brazilian Stuffed Rib Roast and caps it off with Coco Loco Brulee - a coconut- and rum-flavored créme brulee cooked right on the grill!

On the menu (page numbers indicate page in the Barbecue! Bible, unless otherwise noted):

  • Grilled Corn Chowder (page 68)
  • Goat Cheese Grilled in Grape Leaves (page 63)
  • Brazilian Rib Roast (page 116)
  • Coco Loco Brulee (recipe follows, page 517)

Cooking with a Blowtorch

Ok, it may not be grilling. But it is live fire cooking. Many chefs and pit jockeys use a tool once relegated to the workshop to lend a flame-charred taste to their food: a blowtorch.

The blowtorch made its appearance in the kitchen in the 1970s, when French pastry chefs began using it to brown meringues and caramelize sugar on custard desserts, like creme brulee. Actually, the principle of fire charring desserts is older than you might think. In Colonial times, cooks would brown desserts by holding fire-heated pokers--or even glowing coals in tongs--over the top.

Using a blowtorch may seem a little intimidating at first, but there's nothing like it for creating a high, focused flame and sharp blast of heat. Just keep these watchpoints in mind:

  • Work on a heat-proof surface. I usually do my torching on a baking sheet or outdoors.
  • Have the food on a heatproof plate or baking dish. Never torch a pastry on a glass plate or platter.
  • Light the flame and adjust it to obtain a pointed, glowing, red-yellow cone of heat in the center of the lavender blue flame. This cone is where the heat is concentrated. Hold it 2 to 3 inches above the surface of the food, moving it back and forth to ensure even browning.
  • Remember that sugar and meringue will continue to cook for a few seconds even after the flame has been removed. Stop torching just before you get the desired degree of doneness.

Coco Loco Brulee printer-ready version

Serves 6

  • 3 ripe (hard, brown-shelled) coconuts

For the filling:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup Coco Lopez
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • 2 strips lemon zest (1/2 by 2 inches long)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 3 tablespoons for making the brulee
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 to 8 cups crushed ice

1. Cut the coconuts in half with a cleaver. The easiest way to do this is to tap the shell repeatedly with the back of the cleaver along an imaginary line going around the middle. After 10 to 20 taps, the shell will break neatly in two. Work over a bowl with a strainer to collect the coconut water. Save it for making drinks.

2. Combine the cream, coconut milk, Coco Lopez, vanilla bean, and lemon zest in a heavy saucepan and gradually bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 3 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a heatproof mixing bowl whisk together the _ cup sugar and egg yolks. Whisk in the cornstarch. Strain the milk into the yolk mixture in a thin stream and whisk to mix. Return this mixture to the saucepan and gradually bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, whisking steadily. The mixture will thicken. Gently simmer for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not boil rapidly or overcook, or the mixture will curdle. Remove the pan from the heat and let the custard cool to room temperature. Discard the vanilla bean and lemon zest. Spoon the custard mixture into the coconut shells and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate the custards for at least 4 hours or even overnight.

4. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar in a thin layer over the filling in each coconut. Caramelize the sugar, using a blowtorch. Serve the coco loco brulees on beds of crushed ice in shallow bowl.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort