Yes, I soaked the planks in beer.
We have a number of walleye in the freezer of different sizes, but I thought I would try the planks with the big 28″ one. I made a marinade with beer, but only marinated the fillets for an hour, because I didn’t want to significantly change the texture of the fish. It worked and they remained juicy and tender, with a slight taste of the cedar planks and a little smoke. I think you can tell which one we ate out of this bunch:
I would have used whatever beer was on hand, but it turned out that we have some Leinenkugel’s® Summer Shandy, which already has a lemon flavor. I added some lemon zest and juice, as well as some chives to the marinade, keeping it simple. The rest of the bottle of beer went into the soaking liquid, with water, to soak the cedar planks.
As you can see in the photo, I grilled some skewered zucchini over the coals while the fish were cooking. You can also see that using two planks in a kettle grill takes up a lot of space. I found that the two planks made it hard to keep the heat much above 300° and I would have preferred something around 375°-450°—next time, I’ll leave out the veggies and use some of the smaller fish. Still, it was pretty wonderful, juicy and tender.
Beer-Planked Lake Erie Walleye
- 1/2 cup beer
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
Pour marinade over fillets in shallow glass dish. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. Remove from the refrigerator when setting up the grill, so they come to room temperature. It takes about an hour for charcoal to be ready, but a gas grill would be much quicker.
Soaking the planks: Soak planks for at least an hour in a shallow dish with the remaining beer from the bottle and enough water to cover. Put something heavy on the planks to submerge them, like a big jar of peanut butter.
- Set up charcoal grill with two zones—direct and indirect.
- When the coals are covered in white ash, place the planks (I needed two for my large fish) over the direct heat and close the lid until they begin to char and smoke.
- Flip them over and place on the indirect side. Place the marinated fillets on the charred side and close the lid. Cook for about 12-15 minutes or until the flesh is white and flaky. Cooking time depends on the size (thickness) of your fillets. Even though mine were long, they were not too thick, plus I cut each fillet in half to fit on the planks better.
I’ve been eating this dressing in an apple salad with walnuts and dried figs for lunch recently, but it would be good with any fruit or vegetable salad or with chicken strips or wings. The blue cheese is the star, but I wouldn’t use a premium eating blue, like my favorite Stilton in it. I would eat the Stilton in a deconstructed salad of apples, figs (dried or fresh), and nuts. Just buy two cheeses, one for the dressing and one for munching. Today, I used a Danish Blue in the dressing, and picked up a little wedge of Stilton while I was at it for an indulgent snack.
My ranch recipe is as easy as possible. Equal amounts of buttermilk, sour cream, and mayonnaise, plus chives and dill and salt. I haven’t been adding garlic for my apple salad purposes, but I would add it if dressing pasta or vegetables.
I’ve made more complicated ranch dressings before, but it soon became obvious that it doesn’t need to be complicated to be good. It’s not a low fat dressing, but it has no added refined sugar or sharp vinegar, both of which characteristics are good for me. You could easily make a lower-fat version with common substitutions.
Blue Cheese Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (mine was whole milk buttermilk)
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise, preferably Hellmann’s
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons dried chives
- 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
- 1/2-3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese, such as Danish or buttermilk blue
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or less if your cheese is very salty
Whisk together the first 5 ingredients until smooth. Stir in the crumbled cheese with a spoon. Taste and add salt, as needed.
Quiche gives my husband cognitive dissonance, you know, that odd feeling you get when you confront two contradictory ideas or feelings in the same thing, usually in yourself, like holding two seemingly contradictory political views. Every time he bites into a quiche, he expects the sweetness of a custard pie—one of his favorite pies—but can’t wrap his head around the savory deliciousness of quiche ingredients. It just doesn’t make sense to him. It’s not that he won’t eat a savory omelet; I think it’s the pie format and that creamy custard that confuses him. Anyway, he’s getting a steak for dinner.
I’m following the recipe I’ve always used, from my old Joy of Cooking (1967). It begins with a pâte brisée crust that uses room temperature butter, instead of the cold butter that you would expect. It can even be pressed into a pie plate instead of being rolled, but I prefer to chill it and roll it. It’s a dough that handles very nicely and holds up to the wet custard, as long as you blind bake it a little.
The filling possibilities for a quiche are endless, but I usually stick with the traditional bacon and Swiss cheese, with Gruyere being my Swiss of choice. You can make this recipe in a regular pie plate, but I like the high, formal collar you get with a spring form pan.
Blind bake to keep sides up
Prebaked for 12 minutes
Fillings on the bottom
The finished custard
Creamy filling; crisp crust
Bacon Gruyere Quiche with Fresh Herbs
Preheat oven to 450° to bake the pie crust; allow time to lower to 375° for baking the quiche.
Pâte brisée crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-3/4 cup water (does not need to be ice water)
1 beaten egg white (you will use the yolk in the filling, below)
- Work the butter into the flour-salt mixture with your fingers. A food processor would be too much with the soft butter and probably work it too much, resulting in a tough dough.
- Make a well in the center and add 1/2 cup of the water, then stir quickly with a fork until it holds together, adding more water as needed. I used a little more than the 1/2 cup, but not as much as the 3/4 cup.
- Dump the dough onto plastic wrap and shape into a ball, then flatten into a round of about 1/2″ thickness. Cover with the wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the chilled dough to fit your pie plate or spring form pan. Fill the pan with parchment paper and some kind of weights—beans work well to keep the sides up in a spring form pan.
- Bake at 450° for about 12 minutes. remove beans and decide if you want to bake it a few minutes longer. It won’t be completely done, but will be done enough to stay crisp on the bottom through baking the custard. Brush the crust with beaten egg white and set aside while you prepare the custard.
- Turn the oven down to 375°, opening the door to hasten the cooling.
1/4 lb thick sliced smoked bacon, diced and browned
2 cups shredded or diced Gruyere cheese
3 whole eggs, plus 1 yolk from the egg you separated to brush the crust, above
2 cups whole milk, scalded and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
a pinch of grated nutmeg, fresh or ground
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- While the crust is baking, sauté the bacon over medium heat to brown and to render out most of the fat. Drain on paper towels.
- Sprinkle cooked bacon and shredded cheese over bottom of baked pie crust.
- Whisk eggs with the herbs and seasonings, then whisk in the cooled milk quickly.
- Pour the custard over the bacon and cheese.
- Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes, until the top is browned. This is longer than I would cook a custard pie, because I hate a custard pie that weeps, but it works for a quiche that is loaded with other filling ingredients, and I use a lot more cheese than the original recipe.
These burgers are made from boneless, skinless thighs for a more moist and flavorful burger than you would get with white meat. You can grind (or really mince) chicken in a food processor, but you have to be careful not to turn it into a paste. I use the food processor to grind ham, and I might use it for beef, but poultry is so tender and sticky, that you need to be on your toes. A search on the web will show you that freezing the poultry chunks first can help you reach the right grind before it turns into a paste. Luckily, I have a grinding attachment for my stand mixer, so the grinding is really easy and foolproof.
I looked around at what others do to make such burgers and found that some just shape the meat. Some add breadcrumbs both inside and outside the burgers; some just outside. I thought about breading them, as I do my fishcakes, but I was hoping for a more traditional burger this time. I did add a small proportion—1/2 cup per 1 1/2 lbs chicken—of fresh breadcrumbs to the mix, just to make them a little lighter, but not enough to detract from the chicken. Two tablespoons of half and half was the only moisture added, no egg, which actually can toughen a meat mixture and dry it out. I didn’t overdo the flavoring additions, just some chives, salt, and pepper. They turned out flavorful and juicy, browned in a cast iron skillet and served on ciabatta rolls with a quick homemade burger sauce.
Regardless of how you grind the chicken, it will be sticky and hard to form into patties. I placed four mounds of the meat mixture on a sheet of plastic wrap, then placed another sheet over them to do the shaping. then I put them in the fridge for a few hours until time to cook. It helped keep the meat in the patties instead of stuck on my fingers.
Patties formed in plastic wrap
Browning in cast iron
Chicken burger on ciabatta
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons half and half or milk
oil for browning
- Grind your chicken, unless you purchase it ground at the store.
- Mix all the ingredients, except the oil, lightly.
- Divide into four portions and place them apart on a sheet of plastic wrap.
- Place another sheet of plastic wrap over them, using the wrap to press down and shape the patties. You can refrigerate them at this point if not ready to cook. I cut them apart in the wrap to easier place them on a plate.
- In a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat, heat enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When shimmering, add the patties and cook for about 8 minutes per side, until browned and done in the middle. I used a thermometer to test for about 165°
The quick sauce was a mixture of mayonnaise, A. 1., ketchup, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. I would have added garlic powder if I had any!