Apr 24, 2012

Smoked Brisket

When the temperatures start rising, so to does my desire to start grilling. Truth be told, I’ll grill during the colder months of the year but not much is more satisfying then standing in the backyard with the sun high in the sky, warm air on your back, standing by the grill. So this recipe is designed to get you to pull out your grills (Charcoal or Gas) and get a grilling.

Please though, whatever you do, don’t get grilling confused with barbecue. Barbecue, what we will be covering with this recipe, is utilizing smoke to cook whatever is in the grill. Everything else is considered grilling. I enjoy both, but the distinct flavor of smoke draws me in like no other. On a side note, that smell may have contributed heavily to my current career path in the Fire Service (no joke). As I cover in the episode, beef is not the only thing one can smoke. Pork, chicken, fish, cheese, vegetables, and fruit… You name it and it probably can be smoked. So let your imagination do the rest.

A few side notes on this episode. You’ll notice that I didn’t advise you to brine the brisket. It is most recommended as the final product will have a higher moisture level (= not as dry). Brine for at least 4-6 hours or over night. Second, I didn’t have my customary recap as I really had a number of people to feed and needed to get it to them. They had pitch forks and torches… Lastly, having a condiment like barbecue sauce would be nice, but the flavors of the smoke and spice rub would be diminished. Just keep in mind. Enjoy!

Smoked Brisket - Barbecue the way it is supposed to be. Be it at the Firehouse or at home, grilling with smoke is an easy task to tackle as it requires very little work. Low and slow is the name of the game as it allow the heated smoke to slowly break down the tough cut that is brisket. In this episode we discuss marriage, whether to soak or not and what bark is. For more, visit www.thefirehousechef.com.
Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


Brisket (6-10 Lbs.)
Sugar (¼ Cup)
Salt (¼ Cup)
Pepper (¼ Cup)
Vegetable Oil (2-3 ounces)


Grill (preferably Charcoal)
Charcoal (6-8 Cups)
Wood Chunks of your choice
Fire-proof Water Pan/Tray
Chimney Starter
Aluminum Foil
Paper Towels
Boning Knife
Medium Bowl


Brine brisket a minimum of 4 hours or up to overnight. Wash off brisket when done brining. Dry with paper towels. Trim the fat cap from the brisket (leave some on please). Score the brisket ¼” deep with a boning knife creating a crisscross pattern on both sides. Place the spice rub liberally on both side ensuring it gets in every crevice. Wrap tightly in aluminum foil and refrigerate for an hour. Meanwhile, place paper towels with the Vegetable oil in a bowl and mix till the paper towels are coated. Place 2 cups Charcoal in the Chimney starter and the bundled paper towels on the bottom and ignite. Allow the coals to become white and ashen, about 20-30 minutes. Fill the water pan with water and place in grill on one side. Pour the hot coals on the opposite side of the water pan. Place an additional 2 cups of Charcoal so that they are piled on the side of the grill away from the water pan. Add about 3-5 wood chunks on top and place grill back and cover. Allow to heat up and begin to smoke for about 10-20 minutes. Meanwhile, remove the brisket from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. When the grill is ready, place the brisket fat side down over the water pan and cover loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil. Place the grill cover on with the vent directly over the brisket. Cook for about 1 hour ensuring the smoke is consistent and adding additional wood chunks if necessary. After an hour, remove the aluminum foil and flip the brisket and cook for an additional 4-5 hours (replacing the Charcoal when necessary) or until the internal temp reaches 180° F. Allow the brisket to rest for at least 30 minutes under a loose tent of aluminum foil before slicing. When ready to slice, cut across the grain to ensure a tender slice. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Next Shift on the FHC: Smoked Brisket

With Spring in full swing and temperatures heating up, most grills are being dusted off in anticipation of one of America's favorite pastimes, barbecue. And real barbecue means smoking. So go gather your wood chunks and fire up your grills, we are gonna smoke some brisket. Stay hungry, my friends!

Apr 19, 2012


When you hear the term planking often images of people laying horizontally in random locales comes to mind. But for us foodies, planking should generate images of thick sturdy wooden planks adorned with various proteins (usually fish), fruits or vegetables placed either in a hot oven or on top of a blazing grill. Cedar planks are the most common and readily available but others are out there for the adventurous. Oak, Cherry, Apple, Adler and Maple come to mind. But I usually focus on Cedar because I know that anyone can procure it by simply traveling down to the local home improvement store to get some. 

No need for any specially ordered planks at outrageous prices via the web. I recently purchased a 12' L x 8" W x 1" T untreated Cedar board from the local Home Depot for $17 (note that you need to purchase an untreated board to avoid any chemicals). I had the friendly associate slice the board into roughly 6 2' boards, the perfect size that fits in most residential ovens and on top of most small charcoal grills. The 8" width provided plenty of surface area and even ensured the fattiest salmon fillet wouldn't struggle to fit. Simply soaking it in a bucket for a hour to ensure you don't have to call me to save your kitchen or deck is the last step.

But you may have asked the question, why use planks at all? First and foremost, it provides a very delicate fresh cut wood flavor with subtle hints of smoke (admit it, I made it sound good). Can't you just imagine yourself in the Pacific Northwest on the side of the Columbia River, after spending the last 20 minutes hauling in a huge Pacific Salmon amongst all the Cedar and Alder trees and cooking it by the campfire? Remember that food can be both tasty and transportive, having that ability to take you back to places you been before or help you realize in your mind where it came from. Second, it also acts as a all-purpose serving vessel as it travels from the heat to the kitchen table and looks rustic too. Lastly, it is especially convient for cooking fish on the grill. No sticking to the grates, no wacky looking fish cage contraption, just the fish, the wood and the heat. Just like the campfire next to the Columbia River, whether you've been there or not...

BTW, look for an upcoming episode on Cedar Plank Salmon very soon. Stay Hungry!

Apr 13, 2012

Quick Dinner Rolls

Yeast brings so much joy to so many people yet most home cooks find it intimidating to use. The thought of trying to recreate bakery style bread at home makes most shudder when thoughts turn to flour types, gluten construction, humidity levels and kneading.  Understandable, to be sure, but to not try to tackle something for fear of failing? Unacceptable. For to cook (or in this case, bake), as with many things in life, is all about overcoming failure.

I believe I have found a great “bridging” recipe to introduce those who are not indoctrinated into the world of baking. No funky flour, no special baking pan, no kneading… and this recipe requires about 10 minutes of active “work” and about an hour to complete. And you get to exult in the most wonderful aroma a kitchen can produce, fresh baked bread. What more could you ask for?

Hopefully this will instill a belief that bread is not the daunting task it is made out to be and will open you up to the possibility of trying more elaborate breads at home. So when you bite into these dinner rolls for the first time, I hope the visions of Challah, Brioche and Sourdough dance through your head…

Quick Dinner Rolls - There is nothing, I repeat, nothing as great as the smell of fresh baked bread in the kitchen. And knowning that you can make it in as little as an hour with no kneading too... That's just sinister. In this episode we discuss fermentation, not all smoke is bad for you (Paprika anyone?) and how $.30 can alter your memories.

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


All Purpose Flour (2¼ Cups)
Rapid Rise Yeast (1 Packet or ¼ ounce)
Butter (room temperature, ¼ Cup or 4 ounces)
Sugar (¼ Cup)
Salt (¼ tsp.)
Water (slightly warm, 1 Cup)
Cooking Spray


Large Bowl
Cupcake Pan
Plastic Wrap or Damp Towel
Spoons (2)


Preheat oven to 200°F and allow it to heat for 10 minutes, turn off, but do not open the door just yet. Place flour (1¼ Cup), salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl and mix with whisk to combine. Add egg, warm water and butter and stir for 2 minutes. Add the remaining flour (1 Cup) and mix with spatula until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and place in heated oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, butter/grease the cupcake pan. After the dough has risen to twice it size (or 30 minutes have elapsed, whichever comes first), remove the dough from the oven. Punch down the dough. Lightly lubricate the spoons and then equally distribute the dough into the cupcake pans (it should fill each cupcake basin to the halfway point). Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to proof for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, set the oven to 375°F. Remove plastic wrap and then place in oven for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with herb butter. Enjoy.

Apr 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

From my family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Easter (or Passover, or just Spring in general)! Eat well and surround yourselves with friends and family on this day. On the menu today for our family is a very traditional baked ham with some sides (and really, I'm not sure what yet). Hope your meal is a memorable one so getting in the kitchen and start cooking. Stay hungry, my friends!

BTW, I've included a couple links for a great Spring dessert perfect for today.

Apr 7, 2012

Roasted Garlic Chipotle Sauce

When Ketchup just won't do for your fresh "out-of-the-oven" Steak Fries, reach for some garlic and chipotles (both should be in your pantry and if they are not, consider this a teachable moment and carry them from this moment forward). This Roasted Garlic Chipotle Sauce not only is great with fries of any kind, it is also a great sauce for anything under the sun (think proteins). The garlic is mellowed and sweetened from the roasting process while the chipotles bring their distinctive smoke and spice, which is an awesome combination for elevating the everyday spud. Add some limejuice and cilantro for a more Latin spin for some tacos or add some worcestershire for depth of flavor for your ribeye steak. Any way you slice it, this is a great condiment to file away and use in place of Ketchup when the moment calls for it.


Mayonnaise or Crema (1 Cup)
Garlic (1 Clove, roasted)
Chipotles (3-4, minced)
EVOO (1 Tbs)
Pepper and Salt
*Limejuice (optional but highly recommended)


Small Bowl
Aluminum Foil


Preheat oven to 400°F.  Slice the garlic clove in half (horizontally) then place on a small sheet of aluminum foil.  Lightly sprinkle with EVOO and salt, wrap loosely and then place in the oven and roast for about 40-45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.  Remove the garlic from the paper like shell and place on cutting board.  Sprinkle with salt and using the flat side of your knife, flatten and smash into a paste.  Place the mayo/crema, chipotles, garlic paste and limejuice (if using) into the bowl and mix to combine.  Season with pepper and salt and serve.  Will last in the refrigerator (covered) for about a week.  Enjoy.

Apr 1, 2012

Steak Fries

Steak Fries with out the frying, sounds too good to be true, huh? Frying at the firehouse is something I try to shy away from for numerous reasons. The obvious health detractions not withstanding, frying with high temperature oils when the real possibility of having to leave them unattended at a moments notice frightens me. As I’ve gone up the ranks in the Fire Department, you occasionally hear stories. Stories that typically start with “back in the day” and ending with neighboring crews having to go to a recently vacated firehouse for the report of smoke showing. This recipe is here to help avoid this “scenario” as well as to help prove that you can produce near restaurant style steak fries without frying.

For those that have been with the FHC since the beginning, you’ll notice that this is my second take on Steak Fries. Recipes are always in a state of change as new techniques, education and just plain trial and error give new life to them. I had someone ask if I’ve ever felt I’ve improved a recipe after filming it. I believe I have, so as I am your humble and obedient servant when it comes to food and health, I proudly give you New and Improved Steak Fires.  Stay hungry!

Steak Fries - In this episode, we re-examine a previous incarnation of the famous Steak Fries and come to terms that all recipes can be played with again. We also cover the (secret) spices for Barbecue Chips, that some potatoes are bigger then others (shocking) and that your kitchen can never have enough spiders.

Formats available: MPEG-4 Video (.m4v)


4-5 Russet Potatoes (sliced length wise into 8 equal wedges)
EVOO (2-3 Tbs.)
Smoked Paprika (1 tsp.)
Brown Sugar (1 tsp.)
Garlic Powder (1 tsp.)
Cayenne Powder (1 tsp.)
Pepper (freshly ground, no dust!, 1 tsp.)
Salt (1 tsp.)


Baking Sheets (2)
Large Pot
Medium Bowl
Rubber Spatula


Pre-heat oven to 500°F and place the baking sheet in to heat up. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in the large pot and cover with 1” of water. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes (or until the outside of the potato is fork tender but the inside has some resistance). Drain and set aside. Line the potatoes on a separate baking sheet and place in the heated oven for 1 minute (to dry them). Place the EVOO, smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, cayenne powder, pepper and salt in the bowl and whisk to combine. Place the still hot potatoes in the bowl and using the rubber spatula, vigorously combine until all the potatoes are covered. Carefully place the potatoes on the heated baking sheet so that they sit flush with the sheet. Bake in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and using metal spatula, carefully flip the wedges to brown the other side. Bake for another 15 minutes or until browned. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Blogging tips