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BBQ USA

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Season 4

Show 401: Fire and Water

Fish is the "fear factor" in grilling: Will it stick? Will it fall apart? How do I know when it’s done? In this show, Steven Raichlen gives you his favorite strategies for victory at sea. No tricky turning maneuvers needed for Cedar-Planked Salmon, a dramatic presentation with incomparable wood flavor. Grilled Tuna with a gutsy Fire-Charred Tomato Chipotle Salsa is seared directly over a mesquite fire. Bacon-wrapped Trout, stream-caught just yards from the set and still dripping with water, are stuffed with Poblano Corn Relish and grilled in fish baskets over an open fire. Fish doesn’t get much fresher–or better–than this.

MESQUITE-GRILLED TUNA STEAKS
With Fire-Charred Tomato Chipotle Salsa

Source: Barbecue USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 4
Advance Preparation: 30 minutes for marinating the tuna

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for brushing the tuna
4 sushi-quality tuna steaks (each about 3/4 inch thick and 6 ounces each)
4 flour tortillas (8 inches each)
Fire-Charred Tomato Chipotle Salsa (recipe follows)
Cilantro sprigs for garnish

You'll also need:
1 cup wood chips or chunks, preferably mesquite, unsoaked

1. In a mortar using a pestle or in a small nonreactive bowl using the back of a spoon, mash together the garlic, salt, black pepper, and cilantro. Stir in the lime juice and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

2. Trim any skin or dark or bloody spots off the tuna steaks. Rinse the tuna under cold running water, then blot it dry with paper towels. Place the tuna steaks in a nonreactive baking dish just large enough to hold them and pour the marinade over the fish. Let the tuna marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 30 minutes, turning once or twice so that it marinates evenly.

3. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

4. When ready to cook, drain the marinade from the tuna steaks and discard the marinade. Lightly brush both sides of the tuna with olive oil. Brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the tuna on the hot grate, placing it on a diagonal to the bars. Grill the fish until cooked to
taste, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium, rotating each steak a quarter turn after 1-1/2 minutes or so on each side to create an attractive crosshatch of grill marks. Test for doneness using the poke method: A medium-rare tuna steak will be gently yielding; a medium steak will be firm.

5. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas on the grill; it will take 10 to 20 seconds per side. Wrap the tortillas in a cloth napkin and place in a basket.

6. There are two ways to serve the tuna. Place the tortillas on a platter or plates, arrange the grilled tuna steaks on top, and spoon the salsa over them. Or you can cut the fish into thin slices and pile them on the tortillas, spooning the salsa on top. Garnish with the cilantro sprigs.


Fire-Charred Tomato Chipotle Salsa


Yield: Makes 1 to 1-1/2 cups

2 large ripe red tomatoes
1 small white onion, peeled and quartered
3 cloves garlic, peeled and skewered on a wooden tooth pick
1 to 2 chipotle peppers (see Note)
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

You'll also need:
1 cup wood chips or chunks (preferably mesquite), unsoaked

1. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

2. When ready to cook, place the tomatoes, onion, and garlic on the hot grate. Grill the tomatoes and onion until the skins are dark and blistered; grill the garlic until lightly browned. This will take 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes in all) for the tomatoes and onion and 2 to 3 minutes per side (4 to 6 minutes in all) for the garlic. Transfer the grilled tomatoes, onion, and garlic to a plate and let cool. Remove the toothpick from the garlic. The grilled vegetables can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 2 days.

3. Mince the chipotle(s). Scrape any really burnt bits of the tomatoes. Combine the minced chipotles, cilantro, and lime juice with the grilled tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a food processor and process to a coarse puree. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste and more lime juice as necessary; the salsa should be highly seasoned. The salsa is best served within 3 to 4 hours of being made.

Note: Chipotle peppers (smoked jalapeños) are available both canned and dried. I prefer the canned ones, which come in a flavorful sauce called adobo. If your chipotles are dried, soak them in warm water for 30 minutes before using, then drain them and tear them into 1-inch pieces. For a milder salsa, discard the ribs and seeds.

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BACON-GRILLED TROUT
With Poblano Corn Relish


Source: Adapted from BBQ USA by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing, 2003)
Method: Direct
Yield: Serves 4

4 whole trout (each 12 to 16 ounces)
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
Poblano and Corn Relish (recipe follows)
8 slices bacon

You'll also need:
Divided grilling basket; 8 pieces butcher's string, each about 6 inches long; 2 cups wood chips or chunks (preferably hickory or pecan) or pecan shells, unsoaked; cooking oil spray

1. Rinse the trout, inside and out, under cold running water, then blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Season the cavity of each trout with salt and pepper. Spoon a little of the Poblano and Corn Relish in the cavity of each fish; save the remaining relish for serving. For each trout, place a slice of bacon on a work surface and place the trout on top. (The bacon slices will be parallel to the trout.) Secure the bacon by tying it crosswise in two places with butcher's string. Spray the grilling basket with cooking oil spray. Carefully place the 4 bacon-covered trout into the grill basket and close securely.

2. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips or chunks or the pecan shells in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium-high. If using a charcoal grill, preheat it to medium-high, then toss all of the wood chips or chunks or the pecan shells on the coals.

3. When ready to cook, place the grilling basket with the trout directly on the grill grate. Grill the trout until nicely browned on the outside and cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes per side. To test for doneness, insert a slender metal skewer into a trout for 20 seconds: It should come out very hot to the touch.

Poblano and Corn Relish


Yield: Makes about 1-1/2 cups

2 ears sweet corn, shucked
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
2 large or 3 or 4 small poblano peppers
1 bunch scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more to taste

1. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.

2. When ready to cook, brush the corn with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season it generously with salt and black pepper. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the poblanos, scallions, and corn on the hot grate. Grill the poblanos until blackened and blistered on all sides, the scallions until nicely browned on all sides, and the corn until darkly browned. This will take 3 to 4 minutes per side (9 to 12 minutes in all) for the poblanos, 3 to 5 minutes per side (6 to 10 minutes in all) for the scallions, and 2 to 3 minutes per side (8 to 12 minutes in all) for the corn. Wrap the grilled poblanos in wet paper towels or place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool to room temperature (the steam helps to loosen the skin from the peppers). Transfer the grilled scallions and corn to a plate and let cool.

3. Scrape the burnt skin off the poblanos, cut each in half, and remove all the seeds. Cut the poblanos into 1/2-inch dice. Cut the scallions crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, discarding the root ends. Cut the corn kernels off the cobs, using lengthwise strokes of a chef's knife.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and pine nuts and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the grilled poblanos, scallions, and corn, and the cilantro and lime juice and cook until the flavors blend, about 4 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat, season the relish with salt and black pepper to taste, and let it cool. The relish can be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated, covered. If you do make it in advance, bring it to room temperature, then taste for seasoning before serving, adding more salt and/or lime juice as necessary.

© 2006 Steven Raichlen | site design Benjamin Wilchfort

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