Cooking With Fire

Pork Recently our friends returned from a trip to Dallas and they brought back a gift that keeps on giving .. an autographed cookbook from a fabulous restaurant they had enjoyed. Do they know me well, or what?!  Entitled Smoke, the cookbook written by Tim Byres is all about new firewood cooking .. how to build flavor with fire on the grill and in the kitchen. I was inspired to take my smoker and grill to new levels, so my husband and I decided to host a potluck Memorial Day BBQ and called the event “Cooking With Fire.”

Our foodie friends can really cook! Joanna, one of Curt’s co-workers arrived early afternoon with her extended family in tow and truck-load of gear. Their family specialty is carnitas, and although I was a bit apprehensive seeing the tubs of Farmer John lard being unloaded, I gotta say those tacos were amazing.

CarnitasThey began by slicing chittlins (pig skin) into strips about 2″ x 6″, then cut pork shoulder roasts into big chunks (about 4″ squares), and placed them into a large copper vat over an outdoor open flame.

To be honest, I’m not sure on the specifics of what actually went into the pot ..

Since Mom Garcia is, what you may say, “height-challenged” we set the propane burner in the stones on the side of the patio.  She tended the pot for at least a couple of hours, tirelessly stirring, stirring.

stirring the pot

There was a recipe for lamb barbacoa tacos in my new Smoke cookbook that I was anxious to try.  I prepared a chile puree to rub on the lamb before it went into the smoker.  It added so much flavor!  Here’s the recipe:

Chile Puree
Ingredients: 1/2 pound dried chiles (ancho, arbol, chipotle, guajillo or pasilla)

To toast chiles:
Toast over a fire or in the oven. If using an oven, preheat to 500 degrees. On a baking sheet spread out a single layer of your choice of chiles. Chiles will puff and become fragrant in 1-2 minutes in the preparing chilesoven. They can burn very quickly, so don’t walk away from the oven. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. When the chiles are cool enough to handle, use kitchen scissors to cut off the stems, then open them to remove the seeds. Use gloves when working with chiles.

To soften chiles:softening the chiles
Place the stemmed, seeded chiles in a medium saucepan. Add enough water (up to 3 cups) so that the chiles float a little, but don’t completely cover or submerge them. Heat the saucepan over a high flame. When the liquid reaches a rolling boil, remove the saucepan from the heat, pour the chiles and all of the liquid into a bowl, seal the bowl with plastic wrap, and set it aside until the chiles have softened, about 1/2 hour. You want the chiles to be almost melting into the liquid.

chile pureeTo puree toasted, softened chiles:
Transfer the softened chiles to a blender, add a little bit of their soaking liquid, then cover and puree to a thick paste, adding more of the soaking liquid if necessary. You are looking for a consistency like ketchup. Be careful: the more soaking liquid you add, the thinner the puree will become. Force the puree through a fine mesh strainer using the back of a rubber spatula. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 7 days.

What a spread!To call this barbecue a feast is truly an understatement!  Our guests pulled out all the stops.  We enjoyed …

– EJ’s mac ‘n cheese: 100% unhealthy but delicious (his words, not mine!)
– Bourbon-glazed Rotisserie Pork
– Chris’ renditioCorn on the barbien of Giada’s Farrow Salad with Tomatoes and Herbs (I think she brought this so her uber-healthy husband would have something to eat)
– Luke’s homemade Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa
– Bob’s Smoked Tri-Tip
– Karen’s version of CPK’s barbecue chicken salad
–  Curt’s famous Chicken on a Throne
– Ron’s amazing deviled eggs
– Bryan & Lynn’s homemade Berry Cobbler and Iced Cream

Beth & Bob

Yes .. it was truly a FEAST and I’m already looking forward to next year!