Pollo Cordón Azul with Romesco and Grilled Asparagus

Pollo Cordón Azul with Romesco:

This recipe came about while trying to decode the amazing Toro Burger from Toro Bravo. Around the same time, I overheard a conversation about doing a Chicken Cordon Bleu on the grill. The end result was a merging of those two ideas.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 slices of Niman Ranch Jambon Royale (or some really good smoked ham)
4 slices of Pata Cabra goat cheese (also Tomme de Chèvre de Savoie works good, but if you can’t find either – try Manchego)
1 cup of Romesco Sauce
Estilo Azteca Seasoning (I get this pre-made from a local bar-b-que joint, but either Adobo or Tony’s will do just fine).

Fry up the Jambon Royale in some bacon fat to crisp – sort of like bacon. Set aside. Note: Do not used pressed ham. It will not come out right.

Butterfly the Chicken Breasts. Season outside with Estilo Azteca Seasoning. Put a layer of the crispy Jambon Royale inside the breasts and then a slice of the Goat Cheese. Wrap, and use toothpicks to hold together.

Heat grill to 350° ~ 400°. Place top side of the breast down on grill. Cook for 7½ minutes. Flip, and top with another layer of Goat Cheese. Cook for another 7½ minutes. Remove toothpicks before serving.

Plate and top with warm Romesco Sauce. I get mine from Pastaworks, but here’s a recipe for those of you not in the PDX area.

Grilled Asparagus:

1 lb asparagus
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated lemon zest
½ tsp paprika (I usually mix ¼ tspof Aleppo pepper and ¼ tps of paprika)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

Wash asparagus and snap off hard ends. Mix the next five ingredients in a cast-iron basting pot. Lay the asparagus on the grill, trying to keep them parallel and as close to each other as possible. Using a basting brush, apply the sauce on generously. When the asparagus start to char, roll them – as best you can – so that the other side will get grilled. Apply more sauce. Cook to desired tenderness. Garnish with the chopped parsley.

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As for what to drink with dinner, I pulled a bottle of the Oak Aged Bretta from Logsdon Organic Farmhouse Ales out from the cellar.

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Grilled Halloumi, Italian Sausage, Garlic Naan and Sautéed Baby Spinach

This dish – or, meal? Whatever you want to call it – is basically a de-constructed pizza. Or, at least that’s how I like to think of it. The first time I grilled halloumi, I had no idea what to serve with it. And basically, this is what I came up with.

For the sausage, I really like Spicy Italian Sausage from Fra’Mani. Grill them up, about seven and a half minutes a side. For the halloumi, I slice the block in half so that you get the most surface area. Brush with olive oil, and grill about five minutes a side. As for the garlic naan, I get it frozen from Trader Joe’s. Throw them on the grill straight from the freezer. Grill for a minute and a half to two minutes a side. Baste with melted butter. The real trick here, is the sautéed spinach.

Sautéed Spinach:

1 whole head of garlic
1 tbsp cold bacon fat
3 tbsp salted butter
1 tsp olive oil
8 oz of baby spinach – stems removed
Salt to taste.

First, roast the garlic. Cut off the top of the head of garlic, and then smear the tbsp of cold bacon grease – covering the open cloves of garlic. Put in a small earthenware dish (I use a small tagine) and roast in the oven at 350º for 45 minutes. When garlic is done, pour the excess melted grease into a large sauté pan for later use. Once the garlic has cooled, remove the gloves from the skin and mince into a fine paste.

In the large sauté pan with the excess melted grease, melt half a stick of salted butter. Add the tsp olive oil and the mix in all of the roasted garlic paste minus a tsp (to use in the butter to baste the naan with). Leave on the lowest heat setting. When everything comes off the grill, turn the heat up to medium high and toss in the spinach. Cook until the spinach just starts to wilt.

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Tonight, I went with the Two Cats Kölsch from Captured by Porches to go with dinner.

Bulgogi Skirt Steak and Thai Salad

This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite Thai dishes – Neua Naam Tok (เนื้อย่างน้ำตก). But sometime ago, I decided to switch out the Flank Steak with Korean Bulgogi (불고기) – which I could get pre-made from Trader Joe’s. After one particularly gristly batch, I decided to start marinating the meat myself and trying different cuts of meat. Usually, I prepare this with a Hanger Steak – but they were out at the butcher counter this week. So, I decided to try a Skirt Steak instead.

Bulgogi Skirt Steak:

The Bulgogi recipe I use is from Irwin Gelber’s Asian Cooking, but I have changed it a bit over the years…

4 to 5 cloves of garlic
A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 Thai chili peppers with seeds
10 oz. bottle of tamari
¼ cup of sesame oil
¼ cup of brown sugar
1 tsp of ground white pepper
1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds, ground.
½ cup of thinly sliced green onions – green parts only
1 to 2 lb. of beef – Hanger Steak or Skirt Steak

Throw the garlic, ginger and Thai chili peppers into a food processor and chop fine. Add the tamari, sesame oil, brown sugar, white pepper and toasted sesame seeds and mix well. Pour mixture in a non-reactive container with a sealable lid and stir in the green onions. Add meat and marinate up to 6 or 7 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill on high heat, turning once. Roughly 4 to 5 minutes a side.

The Thai Salad:

A head of red butter lettuce.
½ of a hothouse cucumber, peeled and sliced thin.
1 small red onion, julienne
A handful of carrots, julienne
¼ cup of mint
¼ cup of cilantro

For the dressing, I use Corinne Trang’s Asian Coleslaw recipe from her “The Asian Grill” cookbook.

1 large clove of garlic
2 Thai chili peppers, de-seeded.
⅓ cup of fish sauce
⅓ cup of lime juice
⅓ cup of brown sugar
1 tbsp of vegetable oil

Throw the garlic and Thai chili peppers into a food processor and chop fine. Add the remainder of the ingredients, and mix well.

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For the beer to serve with dinner, I decided to go with the Four from Upright Brewing.

Grilled Five Spice Duck, Spring Mix Salad with Miso Vinaigrette

Five Spice Duck:

The recipe is from Corinne Trang’s The Asian Grill cookbook – although I’ve tweaked it just a tad.

⅓ cup made up of half tamari and half fish sauce*
⅓ cup of sugar
1½ tsp on Chinese Five Spice powder
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Thai chili pepper – with the seeds (optional)
2 to 4 small duck breasts

Put everything other than the duck breasts in a food processer, and run until everything is chopped fine into a marinade. Put the duck breasts in a zip top bag, then pour in the marinade. Make sure that marinade covers each breast completely. Put in to the fridge for six hours.

Pre-heat the grill to 500°. Grill the duck breasts for about 6 minutes – turning them every other minute, checking them every 30 seconds. Do not leave them unattended – they will catch on fire.

* The original recipe calls for “⅓ cup of light soy sauce or fish sauce”. But since I never have light soy sauce – and prefer tamari – I just split the difference and thin out the tamari with the fish sauce.

Spring Mix Salad:

For the salad, I just get a bag of “baby spring mix” greens, add some julienne carrots and shaved shallots. I usually put avocado on top, but I forgot to get some.

Miso Vinaigrette Dressing:

Mix equal parts miso paste, rice wine vinegar and mirin together. Then add one clove on minced garlic per tablespoon of miso. I usually put a little bit more garlic in there… Mix well. This stuff lasts a while, and is good on just about any greens.

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Recommend beverage: The Crux Fermentation Project‘s DoubleCross Dark Saison.