Monday, February 28, 2011

Kicking off the Summer Cookout February.

I hate the winter.  Cold weather and I just do not mix.  I will never understand skiers or snowboarders or really anyone who participates in winter sports (except maybe curling, but that's just because it's fun to watch from the comfort of my heated house).  I'm lucky because of my location, I only have to deal with about 3 months of real winter (and no snow!) each year.  So when spring rolls around (in February), I look forward to participating in one of the quintessential American warm weather traditions: grilling.

I've mentioned before that I have many friends who love to cook.  Well, there are the ones who like to cook on the stove, and there are the ones who have made grilling an art form.  Saturday night, I got to be part of that art form. 


A invited a bunch of us over to his house for some smoked pork and brisket.  Plus mac & cheese, potatoes with onions and mushrooms, salad, and broccoli.  And dessert.  Obviously.  Let's start with the meat.  It was in the smoker all day.  A won't tell me what he seasoned it with (super secret rub recipe, apparently), but it was outstanding.  It was juicy and tender, and though A wanted to have it more as pulled pork, it worked just as well when it was sliced.  The brisket was just rubbed in a tiny bit of salt and some black pepper.  So simple, but so good.

The pork had just come out of the smoker and was ready to be cut.

We also had mac & cheese.  I think it had four different kinds of cheeses, plus breadcrumbs on top for texture.  I've loved A's mac & cheese for years, so I was super excited to see it on the menu. There were also potatoes that were roasted with caramelized onions and mushrooms.  I think by this point, we all know how I feel about mushrooms, so you can imagine how much I loved these.  But to me, the real star of Saturday's sides was the broccoli.  I believe (and A, correct me if I'm wrong), that it was sauteed with a ton of garlic and some soy sauce.  And that was it.  Throughout the cooking, the broccoli retained it's vibrant green color and it wasn't mushy.  I've raved about my love of vegetables a lot, but the one thing that will keep from eating and enjoying my greens is a mushy texture.  I like them al dente, and sometimes, especially given this particular region of the country, veggies are a little too cooked for my taste.  But this broccoli was outstanding.  So outstanding, that I told A that we should be sure to include it in every cookout that we have this summer.
Look at the beautiful broccoli!

This was my plate.  The mac & cheese is kind of hiding under the salad,  but it was still there.  Delicious.
Of course, no meal would be complete without dessert.  Saturday night, we had chocolate creme brulee.  I've mentioned before that creme brulee is definitely not a dessert that I'm particularly fond of.  Apparently, all you need to do is add chocolate to it, and I'll eat it faster than you can say "creme brulee."  What was pretty cool to me, is that I actually got to see A fire the sugar on top.  Of course, I then realized exactly how much sugar was involved in the dessert.  I think I'll be calling my dentist as soon as I finish this post.  At any rate, A made the creme brulee in larger dishes than necessary, so five of us split one dessert.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to lick the bowl when we were finished.

Partway through the firing of the sugar.
The finished product.  Before we delved into it like hungry wolves.
Just based on this meal, I'd say that the 2011 cookout season is going to be a pretty spectacular one.  Just wait until I convince A that he should make chorizo burgers.  And perhaps indulge my grilled zucchini obsession.  And some grilled pineapple with rum butter sauce.  And now I'm hungry.  And after staring at these pictures, my sandwich just doesn't seem quite as appealing as it did when I made it this morning.

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