Monday, June 4, 2007

Barbecuing By The Best - Michael Chiarello

Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello
Grilling by the Pool

Grilled Asparagus with Tangerine Mayonnaise
Marinated Grilled Shrimp Cocktail
Grilled Baby Lamb Chops with Crispy Rosemary
Pimm's Cup Cocktail

To get the recipes:
Click here

I miss Michael on Saturday's. I'm just not happy with this schedule. Guy Whomever is ok, but he's not MC.

"Grilling and summer nights go together," Michael tells us as he prepares for a grilling party he has planned by the pool. He starts with a marinated shrimp dish. A small red onion gets choppy chopped with garlic on a foldable chopping board. Cilantro is the next victim of the chopper. That gets mixed with citrus oil, lemon juice and zest. In his efficient chefly way, he zests all the lemon he needs for today's recipes, and that's A LOT. Plus he juices a bunch of lemons with a reamer.

He cuts down the back of the shrimp and removes any "smutz" and rinses them off. He covers them with marinade, warning us to leave them for no longer than an hour and a half, or we'll be left with ceviche. They get refrigerated.

He's making a "speed scratch" citrus aioli, using a commercial mayonnaise, which, to my mind, is perfectly acceptable, especially when the food may sit out for a while. There are few things MORE perishable than homemade mayonnaise. He'll actually be making that later, but here it's fine to use Hellman's. He's taken out a mortar and pestle to crush up garlic and salt. The salt will act as an abrasive and make the job easier. He adds that to the mayo with lemon juice and 12 turns of black pepper. Maybe I'll be a rebel and add 13. All done. It goes into a jar, where it can stay refrigerated for up to one week.

Michael likes to skewer the shrimp, to make it easier to deal with on a barbecue. He talks admiringly of several new skewers on the market: FLAT ones, which prevent the skewered food from rolling around, and FLAVORED ones, that are way cool. He solves the rolling problem by skewering them with TWO skewers, so they lay flat on the barbecue and you can turn them easily. Clever. He also crams on as many as possible (which is smart, if you're using fancy expensive flavored skewers). They grill for one and a half minutes on each side. Wow! They look so crusty and brown and coated with the garlicky citrusy sauce that will be amazing to eat.

We come back after a break to some very scenic hens and their eggs.

For his next dish, a tangerine mayonnaise to go with grilled asparagus, he reduces 6 cups of tangerine juice to one and a half. Believe me when I tell you that reduced tangerine juice is the bomb! It is soooo flavorful and you can very successfully use Orange-Tangerine Juice. That goes into the food processor with 3 egg yolks and salt and pepper. He processes that with tarragon and then adds 3 cups of oil with the machine running. "We nailed it," as he tastes it. Looks really good, although I'm not sure I would serve 2 mayonnaise based dishes.

On to the asparagus, Michael shows us that he finds the spot where the asparagus naturally breaks. He cuts it one inch lower than that and peels the lower third of the stem. (He likes thicker asparagus.) He blanches it for 2 minutes and lays it out on paper towels to cool. He says that an ice bath is only necessary if you have A LOT of asparagus and no room to lay them all out.

He lights candles in these lovely candle holders that go into the pool. They looked like big brightly colored fluted muffin papers (but they seem to be made of plastic). I really thought he was doing a bit of cross promotion and I would find them on his Napastyle website, but no...I couldn't find them anywhere. They looked great though.

The lamb chops are up next and MC's making a wonderful marinade and sauce. He pours one cup of olive oil into a pan and adds 12 sliced cloves of garlic and cooks them until brown. Then he adds 4 tablespoons of chopped rosemary and saut├ęs until crispy. He pours that into a bowl and adds the zest of 6 lemons. Then he seasons a baking sheet, places lamb chops on top and seasons the top of them. That's a good way to season a lot of small piddly things at once, without having to turn each one over. He separates out some of the oil of the marinade and brushes that over the lamb chops. He's using the rest to spoon over the cooked lamb chops.

(He doesn't say in the recipe to separate it out, but, remembering food safety, you should. You don't want to eat anything that's touched raw meat if it hasn't been thoroughly cooked.)

He decides to ready the Pimm's cup before his guests arrive. He tells us that an English friend turned him on to it. I think it's a rather odd choice. I've always thought of a Pimm's Cup as something you would drink at an afternoon sporting event. Various histories of the beverage bear this out. But who am I, who likes an occasional latte later in the day than is proper, to question Michael? But I still think he could have come up with some wonderful wine or champagne based cocktail, especially considering his wine roots.

Be that as it may, he mixes up 3 cups of homemade lemonade (is there any other kind?), 3 cups of seltzer and one bottle of Pimm's, which he explains to us is flavored gin. He drops a slice of cucumber and lemon in each glass, drops in some ice and pours himself one to taste. That's gooooood.

Back with the gang. He brushes the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. They go on the grill just long enough to get smoky flavored and good grill marks - less than a minute on each side. He drizzles over the tangerine mayonnaise, remember that? And sprinkles over pinenuts and tangerine segments. Plus he secretly candied some tangerine rinds and scatters those over. Wow, those asparagus are definitely ready for their closeup.

He puts the lamb chops on a smoking hot grill. Michael says the thermometer should read NUCLEAR. He cooks them on the first side until a few juices start to come up. He turns them for maybe 30 seconds on the second side. That's it. He spoons over the marinade. They look sterling and various folks refuse to move away from the lamb chop platter. I don't blame them. AS usual, all is superb. Michael combines incredible recipes with gracious entertaining. To the chef goes all the spoils, or at least very grateful guests.

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