Monthly Archives: November 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

It’s difficult sometimes to admit that you’ve been ripped off.

I mean, I paid $35 dollars for this baby in 2008. Conservatively, at an average of two uses per week over four years, that could be approaching ten cents per use. Yeah, they saw me coming.

Maybe I could get a new one under warranty? I rehearsed my arguments on my way down to the shop; “It’s only been used about 500 times.” “It didn’t say anywhere not to leave it out in the the rain.” “There’s clearly a fault here that caused it to fail so quickly.”

No dice.  My pleas were met with stony indifference. On top of that, the price for a new one had risen to $38.

Oh well – sometimes you just need to swallow your pride and move on.

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Mike’s Octopodi

I have been discussing charcoal with my friend and tennis buddy Mike for some time, in particular octopus, which I have not cooked on charcoal.

Yesterday when Mike’s and my teams played each other he hosted a post-match barbie, and I was very excited that octopus was on the menu.

It was superb, exceeding my high expectations and bringing back memories of the first time I tasted octopus on Paros in 1989.

Mike kindly shares his recipe here:

“I buy a two-kilo block of frozen, tenderised tentacles. I let them defrost, and peel them just as they are coming to the thaw; that’s when it’s easiest.

The marinade is:
6 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Juice of 5 lemons
salt, pepper, oregano.

Some people don’t like to use lemon juice because it starts to cook the flesh, but for me that’s not a problem. I marinaded this lot for 6 hours.

“They need to be cooked over very hot charcoal – today I’ll cook the octopus first, and then cook the steaks later when the coals are cooler. 

Even with this heat, I’ll still cook for 20 minutes, turning and basting five times with the leftover marinade to keep them moist.

The flesh needs to be firm and white all the way through, but still tender and moist. Cut the tentacles into conveniently sized pieces and serve straight away.”

Thank you Mike!

Ultralamb

This is really just a boned and butterflied leg of lamb, seasoned and cooked on charcoal.

Saying it’s cooked on charcoal is redundant, because everything at  Dave’s Bar and Grill is cooked on charcoal.

I buy these legs  from the supermarket if I can because they’re fine. They come in cryo-packs ready seasoned and are very good value. I’ve boned them out myself a few times but it’s a pain, and I’ve bought them from the butcher and had her bone them, but it’s been relatively expensive. Not a major problem, but I go simple and cheap if I can.

Another advantage of the  cryo-packs is you can see how much they weigh and choose the best one for your needs. As a guide I use a kilo for four people.  If trying to impress, I’d go a bit bigger if possible, and an advantage with going big is the leftovers are superb in cold lamb sandwiches for the next few days.

To cook, just take it out of the pack, slap dried herbs on it for good measure and let it come up to room temp for a couple of hours before cooking.

Yes –  cook at room temp. That’s important.

If it has one side that’s more fatty than the other, then cook that one first. The fat goes black and renders down nicely. The, when the coals are lower, the leaner side can cook.

Here you can see the lamb over the coals. I do believe that it works best covered. If you don’t have a cover like the one I use below (from a Cobb Oven) then a piece of aluminium foil is fine.

Timing is important, and something you need to do with confidence. Remember that if it’s undercooked you can always cook it more, but once you’ve lost your nerve and given it those extra ten minutes it didn’t need then there’s no return.

My take is – for 1 kilo; ten minutes, turn, ten minutes on the other side, rest for ten then carve. 10-10-10. The resting is important, but I don’t think you need to do it as long as most people say.

For two kilos I’d go 20-20-15.

Here’s my 1 kilo leg having just been turned at 10 mins.

Resting is important. However, I think that people who work in commercial kitchens have this idea that we all have places where things can rest nicely at serving temp, but often at home we don’t. I don’t like to serve meat cold, so I rest in an oven-warmed dish with alfoil over the top, and that generally works well.

Carve as shown in the top pic, return to the warm resting dish, and let your guests serve themselves a the table.