To Grill or Not To Grill

July 24, 2009 at 4:52 pm Leave a comment

  Buttermilk Ice Cream w Fruit 005  On this lovely July morning, I look forward to our second cookout of the summer.  Some Beer-Brined Grilled Pork Chops, perhaps, with a hearty side dish of Brown Rice Salad, a warmed Whole Grain Mini Loaf Round, Parmesan-Crusted Eggplant Slices, and a light, zesty finish of  Homemade Buttermilk Ice Cream Topped with Fresh Blueberries and Sliced Nectarines.

And then in rains.  Halfway through the marinating of the chops, we get hit with a much needed downpour that reduces the outdoor temperature from 84 to 68 within a scant half-hour.  Now, my husband is quite patient with my culinary whims and exploits, but asking him to grill in the pouring rain would have been taking gross advantage, so we move on to Plan B.  Actually, we scramble to put together a Plan B, but the oven works fine for marinated chops or boneless ribs, so we are back in business with scarcely a hitch.

As usual, we’re talking about serving 4-6, depending on the appetites of the  4-6.  So, for the pork chops:

2# boneless loin pork chops or ribs                              1-1/2 C water                                        1-1/2 C dark beer     

3 TB kosher salt                                                                      1 TB dark molasses

Whisk the water with the beer, salt, and molasses.  Place the meat in a shallow baking dish and pour the brining liquid over it; refrigerate for at least 4 hours.   Drain the meat and grill it over hot coals for 15 minutes per side; check for doneness.  Or, if it should rain, pour off half of the brining solution and bake at 350° for at least 90 minutes, turning meat occasionally. 

To make the Brown Rice Salad, assemble:

1-1/2 C water                          1 C brown rice                                 TB lemon juice                  

2 Tb olive oil                            2 cloves garlic, minced              1 tsp salt                              

pepper to taste                        1/2 C chopped parsley               1 C chopped tomato

1 cucumber, diced                 1/3 C slivered red onion            10-12 sliced black olives   

Combine the rice and water, bring to a full boil, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 40 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.  Leave the lid on the pot to keep the rice warm while you whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Pour dressing over warm rice and gently fold in remaining ingredients.  Serve at room temperature.

The eggplant is fairly simple:

2 medium eggplant                                            3/4 C fine-grated Parmesan                                 1/2 tsp coriander         

1/2 C fine-chopped pecans                             2-3 tsp olive oil, separated

Peel and then cut the eggplant crosswise into ½” slices.  In a small bowl, blend together the cheese, coriander, and pecans.  Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium, using a spatula to spread the oil evenly over pan bottom, and cook half of the eggplant slices on one side until they are tanned and softened.  Turn the slices and sprinkle the browned surfaces with half of the cheese-pecan mixture.  Continue to heat in skillet until topping is crispy, adding a bit more oil if necessary.  Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet and keep warm until serving.  Repeat with second batch of eggplant slices. 

I have fiddled with extra-rich and extra-lean buttermilk ice cream recipes and come up with one that is somewhere in the middle – still light, but without sacrificing that cool and creamy effect:

1 C sugar                             1 egg yolk                            2 C half-and-half                 2 C whole milk

2 C buttermilk                  2 nectarines, sliced         1 C rinsed blueberries

Whisk the sugar with the egg yolk in a small bowl.  Heat the half-and-half and the milk to a simmer in a medium-size heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk the milk mixture into the bowl with the sugar and egg.  Return this mixture to the saucepan and heat over medium-low until slightly thickened, but do not boil it!  This takes about five minutes.  Remove from heat.

Next, stir in the buttermilk until well blended and refrigerate this mixture about two hours.  Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instruction.  This, of course, can be done a few days ahead and kept frozen in a covered container until serving.

Scoop out generous portions into small glass bowls – or fluted sundae dishes, if you have them – and top each with several nectarine slices and a sprinkling of blueberries.  Now, say “Ahhhh.”

Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , .

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