July, 2011 Newsletter — The Independence Day Issue
Celebrate our independence with a uniquely American bird cooked the American way. In this issue, we’re sharing our recipe for Barbecued Turkey Legs cooked low and slow with apple wood smoke. Also on the menu are grilled corn on the cob and a salad of beans and Brussels sprouts. Refreshing Strawberry Watermelon Rum Smoothies keep things cool. And, if you don’t have time for barbecue at your party, check out our new video guide to grilling the perfect burger.
Brussels and Beans Salad
I was thinking about variations on traditional bean salads that I could share with you, but wasn’t having much luck. Then I saw the gorgeous Brussels sprouts at the market, and that was all the inspiration I needed. The roasted sprouts taste great with kidney and garbanzo beans, taking on a flavor somewhere between meaty and nutty. And, of course, everything tastes better with bacon!
This salad can be served cold, several hours after preparing, or it can be served warm from the grill. You will need a perforated grill pan for roasting the sprouts.
- 1 pound bacon (I use dry-rubbed Black Forest bacon cut nice and thick)
- 1 pound pasta (I use dried casarecce)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quartered
- 1 red onion, halved (leave the outer layers on)
- Fine sea salt
- 1 pound frozen garbanzo beans, thawed (use canned if you can’t find frozen)
- 1 pound canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Cook the bacon until crisp. Cut up and reserve in the refrigerator.
Cook the pasta al dente then rinse immediately under cold water to stop the cooking. Toss with a little olive oil to avoid sticking and reserve in the refrigerator.
Prepare the grill for high-temperature roasting (indirect grilling) at 500º to 600ºF.
Toss the sprouts in just enough olive oil to lightly coat and season liberally with salt.
Brush the cut sides of the onion with olive oil and season with salt.
Place the onion directly over the fire with the cut-side down. Place the sprouts in a single layer on a perforated grill pan in the indirect zone. Roast with the hood closed, turning the sprouts occasionally, until they are brown on the edges and cooked through, about 12 minutes. Move the onion to the indirect zone after about 5 minutes and let it finish with the sprouts. (If you cannot reach such high temperatures in an indirect zone, keep the sprouts in the grill pan directly over the fire for some of the cooking time and turn more frequently.) Remove all from the grill.
Make the dressing while the onion and sprouts cool a little. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Whisk together the olive oil and vinegar mixture to form an emulsion.
Coarsely chop the onion. Fold together the bacon, pasta, sprouts, onion and beans along with the dressing. Serve warm or refrigerate for serving later.
Grilled Corn on the Cob
It seems everyone has their own favorite way to grill corn. Some soak the corn in the husks first. Some par-boil the corn first. I avoid the water altogether because I prefer the roasted corn flavor. Here is how I like to grill corn…
- 8 ears corn, shucked
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Butter (optional)
Prepare the grill for direct grilling at 500ºF. A charcoal fire is preferred.
Brush the corn with a little olive oil (not too much or it will flare up) and sprinkle with salt.
Grill the corn over direct heat, turning frequently, until nicely marked and golden in color, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the grill and serve hot. The corn should be moist and flavorful from the olive oil. Butter is purely optional.
Barbecued Turkey Legs
These are way better than the usual fare from the fair. Smoking the legs for 4 hours helps melt the connective tissue for drumsticks as tender as they are flavorful. Brining the legs for 6 hours beforehand helps keep them moist.
See the timing tips at the end of the recipe for bringing grilled sides together with the legs for your meal.
For the Brine:
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons pickling spice blend
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 gallon water
- 8 turkey drumsticks
For the Rub:
- 1/3 cup Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- Apple wood chips (half of them soaked for about an hour, half of them dry)
To brine the legs, combine the salt, sugar, spices and pepper flakes in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil and stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Pour the mixture into the brining container and add the remaining water. Chill the brine before adding the turkey legs.
Brine the turkey for 6 to 8 hours, keeping refrigerated the whole time.
Discard the brine and use paper towels to dry off the surface of the legs. Place the legs on a cooking sheet.
Combine the sugar and Not-So-Basic Barbecue Rub, and thoroughly coat the turkey. Use your hands to press the rub into the surface. Place the rubbed turkey back into the refrigerator for 60 to 90 minutes.
Prepare a grill or smoker for smoking at 225ºF for 4 hours. On a gas grill, use indirect cooking with foil smoking envelopes (see note below). Prepare several envelopes to swap out every 30 to 45 minutes.
Smoke the legs for 4 hours. Check the internal temperature with an instant-read meat thermometer at the end of the cooking time to confirm the turkey has exceeded 165ºF. Enjoy!
Timing Note: Because the setup for smoking and grilling are so different, you may wish to transfer the legs to a 225ºF oven for the final hour. The smoke infused during the first 3 hours will provide more than enough flavor, and this will free up your grill to prepare other dishes.
Gas Grill Smoking Note: To use smoking envelopes with a gas grill, lay out a large sheet of aluminum foil. Place a layer of dry wood chips on the foil and top that with a layer of wet wood chips. Fold over and seal the foil and then puncture the top 2 or 3 times with a dinner fork.
Start the packet smoking by placing it on an outdoor cooktop at high heat. Once the smoke is strong, but before the wood chips ignite, remove it from the cooktop and transfer it to the inside of the grill. Replenish the grill with a new envelope as needed.
Strawberry Watermelon Rum Smoothies
These frozen fruity drinks are perfect for a summer party. They taste great with or without the rum, so guests of all ages can enjoy them.
- 1 pound seedless watermelon, cut up
- 8 ounces fresh strawberries, trimmed
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Simple syrup to taste (about 1/2 cup, instructions follow)
- 8 to 10 cups crushed ice
- 1 cup light rum (I use Cruzan)
- 1/2 cup extra dry vermouth
For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer, and then chill.
Combine the watermelon, strawberries and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Blend in simple syrup to taste (I like it a little bit tart, but most people like it sweet).
Unless your blender is massive, split the fruit mixture into two parts. In the blender, combine half each of the fruit mixture, ice, rum and vermouth. Blend until smooth.
Transfer to a pitcher or serving glasses and blend the remaining ingredients. (If you are making half the drinks virgin, don’t forget to halve the total amount of rum and vermouth.)