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home : lifestyle : food   July 22, 2014

5/28/2014 11:00:00 AM
Grillin' firefighter-style
Peru fire house never short on good taste


Peru firefighter Matt McLaughlin keeps an eye on the grill at the Peru Fire Station. McLaughlin has spent most of his 16 years as a firefighter cooking for shifts of up to nine comrades. His peers can be finicky, so McLaughlin tries to appease the crew with grilled burgers, grilled chicken breasts and, really, grilled anything. “You get that grill flavor and they’ll eat it,” he said.NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
+ click to enlarge
Peru firefighter Matt McLaughlin keeps an eye on the grill at the Peru Fire Station. McLaughlin has spent most of his 16 years as a firefighter cooking for shifts of up to nine comrades. His peers can be finicky, so McLaughlin tries to appease the crew with grilled burgers, grilled chicken breasts and, really, grilled anything. “You get that grill flavor and they’ll eat it,” he said.
NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
NewsTribune photos/Chris YucusGrilling adds terrific flavor to hearty vegetables such as asparagus (left), which require only a few additional seasonings. These asparagus spears were seasoned only with olive oil and sea salt before light charring. Firefighters are typically adept at the grill and don’t limit themselves to burgers, steak and hot dogs.
+ click to enlarge
NewsTribune photos/Chris Yucus
Grilling adds terrific flavor to hearty vegetables such as asparagus (left), which require only a few additional seasonings. These asparagus spears were seasoned only with olive oil and sea salt before light charring. Firefighters are typically adept at the grill and don’t limit themselves to burgers, steak and hot dogs.
Keepin' you safe
- Keep the grill at least 5-10 feet away from a home. A single ember thrown from a grill can set off a blaze. Also, the heat from a too-close grill can melt acrylic siding.
- With propane grills, always keep the lid open during lighting. A covered lid can contain flammable gases and cause an explosive build-up.
- Use long-armed utensils such as spatulas and tongs to avoid burning your extremities.
- Clean the grill’s grease trap regularly
- Invest in a floor mat to prevent slippage on greasy surfaces
- Clean the grill thoroughly at least once a year
- Check the propane tank (preferably with a scale) in ensure sufficient gas before lighting
- Be careful when applying marinades over open flames: Those oils and sugars add lots of flavor but also will cause flare-ups if the liquids roll into the grate.
- With charcoal grills, go easy on the lighter fluid or use a briquette chimney to ignite a few coals. If using an electric starter, follow the instructions to the letter.
- Monitor which way the wind is blowing. A stiff breeze can knock out a low flame and issue hazardous propane gas.

Tom Collins
Staff Writer



Matt McLaughlin wasn’t worried about being called to his first fire. After graduating from the fire academy, he felt ready to take on any blaze.

But cooking meals for a half dozen famished comrades? That made him sweat.

“That was my biggest stress,” recalled McLaughlin, a 16-year veteran who still works the kitchen between fire calls. “You’re cooking for six or nine guys and if you do something wrong, you’re going to hear about it.”

The easiest way to keep everybody happy, he learned, was to grill as much food as possible. Even the most finicky in the crew wouldn’t pass up a burger or chicken breast seared over an open flame.

“You get that grill flavor and they’ll eat it,” McLaughlin said, but then added, “It depends on how hungry they are.”

Summer is almost here and McLaughlin will be out grilling not only steaks and kebabs — the Dimmick resident grew up on a beef farm and will make magic with any cut — as well as meaty fish steaks such as salmon.

He also anticipates dashing off to a few fire calls as novice and careless grill chefs forget a few safety fundamentals.

While grilling isn’t the most dangerous way to cook — turkey fryers are responsible for many more fires and injuries than grills — a few helpful hints (inset right) will keep McLaughlin and his company from racing to your home.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or courtreporter@newstrib.com.




Recipes

FIRE-ROASTED TOMATO AND ONION BRUSCHETTA
8 ripe plum tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 medium red onions, peeled and thickly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon chopped fresh curly parsley
2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoon grill-roasted garlic (recipe follows)
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Finley chopped zest and juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 fresh baguette, 16-18 inches long, sliced into diagonal, ¾-inch slices
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat grill to medium (350 degrees). Toss the tomatoes and red onion in the ¼ cup oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until lightly charred and tender, 7-10 minutes (tomatoes will be done before the onions). Finely dice tomatoes and onions with a very sharp knife. Combine in a bowl with oil, parsley, basil, grill-roasted garlic, vinegar and lemon zest and juice.

Grill baguette slices 1-2 minutes a side, or until lightly browned and crisp. Place a heaping spoonful of the tomato and onion topping on each slice. Sprinkles with parmesan cheese and serve.

GRILL-ROASTED GARLIC
4 heads garlic
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Take a sharp knife and slice the tops off each head of garlic about a third of the way down to expose some of each clove. Place the heads in the center of a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil, 12 inches by 12 inches, and drizzle the heads with olive oil and turn them upside down on the foil, then bring the ends of the foil up to create a pouch. Crimp the ends tightly to seal.

Place the pouch on the grill and roast 1 hour, or until garlic is very tender. Open carefully to avoid steam burns and squeeze meat from the husks.

FRESH CORN SALAD WITH ASPARAGUS, RED PEPPERS AND GRILLED FLANK STEAK
1/3 cup orange juice
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
1 pound flank steak
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 large shallot, minced
2 ears sweet corn, husked
1 red bell pepper, cut in half and seeded
8 spears asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 basil leaves, cut in slivers

In a large plastic zipper bag, mix orange juice, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Add steak and marinate at least 2 hours to 8 hours, turning occasionally. One hour before serving, whisk vinegar and honey in mixing bowl. Stir in shallot, cover and set aside. Preheat grill to medium-high. In a mixing bowl, stir the oil, salt and pepper. Add the corn, bell pepper and asparagus and run with the oil. Grill the vegetables, turning occasionally, until tender and browned in spots, about 3 minutes for the asparagus and bell pepper, 6 minutes for the corn. Transfer to a cutting board; when cool enough to handle, with a sharp knife cut the corn kernels from the cobs. Cut the asparagus and bell pepper into 1-inch pieces. To the shallots, all the corn, asparagus, bell pepper and basil; toss to mix.

Remove the steak from the marinade and pat dry. Grill the steak, turning once, until medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Slice the steak against the grain and transfer to plates. Serve the corn salad with the steak.

Serves 4.

THE REAL POOR BOY-POOR BOY SANDWICH
1 (6 inch) cedar plank, soaked in water
1 can SPAM
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup sliced green olives
¼ cup thinly sliced gherkins
2 tablespoons honey mustard
2 8-inch long soft white sub rolls, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
8 thin tomato slices

Preheat grill to medium heat. Open tin of SPAM, tip if upside down and give it a good shake to loosen from the tin. Slice SPAM in half. Place both halves on plank. Place plank on grill and close lid. Plank bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the SPAM is a little crisp on the outside and heated through.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the red onion, green olives, gherkins and honey mustard; set aside. Remove SPAM from grill. Slice each half of the planked SPAM into 8 slices. Brush the bottom half of each bun with mayonnaise. Top each half with shredded lettuce and 4 slices of tomato. Arrange the planked SPAM slices on top of the tomatoes. Spoon the red onion mixture evenly over top of each sandwich. Top with bun lid and serve immediately.

GRILLED T-BONE STEAK WITH WHIPPED HORSERADISH CREAM
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
6 tablespoons extra-hot horseradish, drained but not squeezed dry
1 cup whipping cream, whipped into stiff peaks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 T-bone steaks (about 24 ounces each), 1½  inches thick
2 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup steak seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil

Gently fold the green onions and horseradish into the whipped cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate until needed.

Pat steaks dry with paper towels and rub with the olive oil. Rub the Steak Spice into the steaks all over, massaging and pressing to adhere. Set aside at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to medium-high (450 F/230 C).

Grill the steaks for 7 to 9 minutes a side for medium rare. Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.

Serve with the horseradish cream on the side.

Source: Napoleon’s Everyday Gourmet Grilling

CHARRED CORN TACOS WITH RADISH-ZUCCHINI
4 ears sweet corn
Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
½ cup torn cilantro, parsley and mint leaves
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
2½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 cup radishes, julienne sliced
1 small zucchini, julienne sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
½ cup (2½ ounces) crumbled cotija or feta cheese
10-12 small (6-inch) soft corn tortillas

Brush the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Over a hot grill or an open gas-stove flame char the ears of corn until well-blackened but not completely burnt. Remove from heat; cool. With a large knife, shave off kernels into a bowl. Add cilantro, parsley and mint; reserve.

In a small bowl, combine onion and lime juice; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in maple syrup, radishes, zucchini, jalapeno and 2 tablespoons of oil. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat your tortillas by wrapping the whole stack in foil and place in a warm 250 degree F oven for 15 minutes or coat a cast-iron skillet with thin layer of oil and heat over high heat. Warm each tortilla 30 seconds to 1 minute each side, until lightly blistered.

To make tacos, fill each tortilla with ¼ cup corn. Top with cheese and radish-zucchini slaw. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Source: sunshinesweetcorn.com

APPLE-JACK-STUFFED PLANKED TURKEY BREAST
1 thick hickory, oak, maple or mesquite plank, soaked in water
1 boneless, skin-on turkey breast, about 3-4 pounds
4 cups apple juice
2 cups water
1 cup Jack Daniel’s whiskey
¼ cup kosher salt
4 cups cubed, day-old, white bread
1 medium onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
½ cup diced dried apricot
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup diced dried apple
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
¼ cup seafood plank seasoning (see recipe below)
Big splash Jack Daniel’s whiskey
1⁄3 cup melted butter

Rinse turkey breast under cold, running water and pat dry with paper towel. Using the turkey breast for the stuffing mixture. Start at the thick end of the turkey breast. Insert the tip of the knife into the thickest portion of the meat; slice down almost the entire length of the breast, stopping short about 2 inches from each end. Use the knife to enlarge the cavity to hold stuffing.

Place turkey breast into a large roasting pan. In a bowl, combine apple juice, water, Jack Daniel’s and kosher salt. Pour over turkey breast. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the turkey to brine for 24 hours. Turn the turkey breast a few times to ensure even brining.

STUFFING:
Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing mixture. In a large bowl, combine bread cubes, onion, celery, apricots, raisins, apples, sage, 1 tablespoon seafood plank seasoning and a big splash of Jack Daniel’s. Drizzle with melted butter and mix well. The mixture should be sticky and a little wet but not mushy; set aside.

Remove turkey breast from brine; discard brine. Pat turkey breast dry with paper towel on the outside and inside the pocket you made with the knife. Stuff the pocket with the bread stuffing, pushing firmly so it is well-packed.

Rub the outside of the meat with remaining Seafood Plank Seasoning. Preheat grill to medium heat. Place stuffed turkey breast on plank. Place plank on grill and close lid. Plank roast for 1½ hours, until fully cooked and internal temperature of turkey reaches 170 degrees F with a meat thermometer, and stuffing registers 165 degrees F. Remove from grill. Rest for 10 minutes before carving.

SEAFOOD PLANK SEASONING
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup coarsely ground fresh black pepper
¼ cup kosher salt or coarsely ground sea salt
3 tablespoons granulated onion
2 tablespoons mustard seeds, cracked
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1 tablespoon dill seed
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 teaspoon granulated garlic

Source: tedreader.com/recipes












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