October 2017 - The Wood-fired Issue
Fall is the perfect time of year for wood-fired grilling. The warmth of the open flame is welcomed as cooler breezes blow. Fall is also the time when we crave richer flavors and heartier meals – wood-fired cooking at its best. We’ve prepared the entire meal using cherry wood in the Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill, and I know you’ll love these recipes.
Notes on the menu: One helpful hint before you dig into the recipes, I’d recommend preparing the goat cheese polenta for the kale salad a day in advance. On the day of the meal, start with your mise en place for the bread pudding, including toasting the bread. Next, roast the duck. While the duck is resting, quickly grill the salad. After enjoying your salad and entrée, put the bread pudding in the grill to cook. Relax and enjoy some good conversation until the pudding is ready to serve.
Grilled Kale Salad with Goat Cheese Polenta
This is the perfect salad to prepare on the Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill, and kale has never tasted so good! Brushed with garlic oil and grilled over a wood fire, it develops earthy flavors as the leaves turn crispy around the edges. Goat cheese polenta is grilled as well, for a delightfully distinctive flavor. Blistered cherry tomatoes and maple vinaigrette add the perfect touch of sweetness.
Make the polenta a day in advance so that it is easier to grill.
For the goat cheese polenta
- 4 ounces goat’s milk brie, we use Wellspring Creamery
- 1 cup goat’s milk
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup white corn grits
- 1 tablespoon butter, cut up
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 6 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 large lacinato kale leaves, thoroughly dried
- Fine gray sea salt
- 12 heirloom cherry tomatoes
For the maple vinaigrette
Prepare the polenta a day ahead of time so it is thoroughly chilled and set before you need to grill it.
Scrape off the rind of the cheese and discard. Cut the cheese into small pieces and reserve.
Combine the milk, water, and salt in a round-bottomed pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the grits and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick and the grits have softened, about 20 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until thoroughly combined. Remove from heat.
Generously oil a flat-bottomed baking dish that’s about 8 inches square (smaller is better than larger). Spread the polenta into the dish and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Prepare a wood fire for grilling at medium-high heat. For more information, see our Guide to the Gaucho Grill.
Crush 6 cloves of garlic and stir into 1/2 cup of olive oil. Let the flavors combine while the fire is getting ready.
Slice the chilled polenta to about ¾ inch thick. Each slice should be no more than 4 inches long for easier grilling. Lightly brush the slices with plain olive oil.
Once the wood fire has transformed to glowing coals, brush the front side of the kale leaves with the garlic-infused oil. Season with sea salt. Do the same with the tomatoes.
Make the dressing by whisking 3 tablespoons olive oil with the sherry vinegar and maple syrup until emulsified.
Adjust the height of the grill grates and the density of the coal bed for a grill grate temperature of 600°F to 700°F. Your grill grate is at the correct temperature when you can hold your hand 2 – 3 inches above the grate for only 3 – 4 seconds. Adjust the grate up and down to find the sweet spot.
Grill the polenta until warmed through and nicely-marked, turning once, about 4 minutes of total grilling time. This is where Kalamazoo laser-cut stainless-steel grill grates come in extra handy. The flat surface and excellent heat retention make the polenta less likely to stick to the grill. Be patient with the polenta. It will release from the grill when it is ready to, and this cannot be rushed. I recommend grilling a test slice first. I also recommend using tongs to handle the polenta rather than a turner/spatula.
Remove the grilled polenta from the grill and reserve.
Next, grill the cherry tomatoes. Turn them on the grill until all sides are blistered and the insides are hot, for about 4 minutes of total grilling time. Remove from the grill and reserve.
Place the kale leaves on the grill with the oiled-side down. Grill until brown spots cover nearly 50% of the leaf. Check frequently, and grill on one side only.
Roughly chop the grilled kale for serving and assemble the salad. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve warm.
Cherry Porter Glazed Duck with Pickled Persimmons
Wood-fired rotisserie duck is the real star here, but the deeply layered glaze and brightly flavored fresh pickles deserve high praises. Tart cherry juice and a rich American porter are reduced with honey and spices for a glaze you’ll want to make over and over again. The persimmons add crunch and a sweet-tart profile for an amazingly well-rounded combination.
For the pickled persimmons
- 1 cup filtered water
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup honey
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 ripe persimmons, thinly sliced on a mandolin
For the cherry porter glaze
To make the pickled persimmons, combine the water, vinegar, honey, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the persimmons in a non-reactive, heat-resistant bowl. Pour the liquid over the persimmons, making sure all of the fruit is submerged. Cover the bowl tightly and allow the fruit to pickle for 30 minutes. Drain off and discard all of the liquid. Refrigerate the pickled persimmons until serving time.
Prepare the glaze by combining all ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk together and bring to a simmer over high heat. Reduce to medium heat. Continue simmering, stirring frequently, until the glaze is thick, about 20 minutes. Use care not to burn the sugars. Remove from heat. Separate out a small amount to serve with the finished entrée. Reserve the rest in the pan for glazing the duck.
Prepare a wood fire for rotisserie roasting using medium-high indirect heat. For more information, see our Guide to the Gaucho Grill.
To prepare the duck, first trim the wings and remove excess fat and skin from the tail and neck areas. Truss the bird, securing the legs together and the wings close to the body. When setting up your rotisserie spit, most people’s instinct is to run the spit through the cavity, but there is another way. Duck should ideally be cooked until the internal temperature of the breast is 135°F and the thigh is 165°F. One cooking method is to partially cook the duck, then cut it up to finish. That is not ideal for the rotisserie. What does work is to run the spit sideways through the rib cage, leaving the tail end of the duck much further from the spit than the breasts. Now the parts of the bird will cook unevenly, exactly like you want! After inserting the spit, position the forks and tighten them securely. I recommend using pliers to tighten the hand screws so that the forks don’t loosen while you cook.
Once the fire is ready, mount the spit into the grill. Turn on the rotisserie motor. Ensure there is no direct heat beneath the duck by arranging your coals around the sides and away from the center. When roasting duck, it is almost always a good idea to place a pan below to catch the fat and lessen the chance of a grease fire.
Once the skin is starting to brown, begin basting generously with the glaze (you may need to warm it back up if it has gotten too thick). Roast until the thigh meat has cooked through (165°F), about 90 minutes of total roasting time, basting frequently.
Remove the spit from the grill
, and the duck from the spit. Carve and serve with the pickled persimmons and some extra glaze.
Campfire Harvest Bread Pudding
Campfire cooking in a Dutch oven is fun for the whole family, whether you are camping or not. Our Harvest Bread Pudding is just one great idea for campfire cooking inside the Kalamazoo Gaucho Grill. This luscious bread pudding is loaded with a harvest of pears, cranberries and walnuts, plus a cinnamon swirl for festive flavor. We lightly toast the bread over the wood fire before making the pudding for extra campfire essence.
- 20 ounces brioche bread, sliced 1-inch thick
- 2 large eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 cups half and half
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (we use Blis bourbon barrel aged maple syrup)
- 1 tablespoon Madagascar bourbon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the cinnamon swirl
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- ¾ cup raisins
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ¾ cup fresh cranberries, sliced in half
- 4 D’Anjou pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- 10-inch 5-quart campfire Dutch oven
- Dutch oven hook/lid lifter
- Butter to grease the Dutch oven
Build a small fire in the Gaucho grill, about 6 logs stacked log cabin style in the right end of the grill.
While the fire is getting started, combine the eggs, ¾ cup brown sugar, milk, cream, vanilla, maple syrup, and nutmeg in a bowl. Whisk to combine.
Prepare the cinnamon swirl by first melting the butter in a nonstick pan. Stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon until well combined. Remove from heat and reserve.
Once the fire is reduced to coals, spread them out a little. Lightly grill the bread slices over direct heat on the grill grates to dry the bread and infuse with subtle wood flavor. Remove from the grill and cut bread into 1-inch cubes.
Generously grease the inside of the Dutch oven with butter. Add a layer of bread, topped with some of the raisins, walnuts, cranberries and pears. Drizzle on a little cinnamon swirl. Continue layering the dry ingredients and cinnamon swirl until you have used them all. Gently pour the egg mixture over the top, distributing it well. Place the lid on the oven.
Relocate about six good-sized coals to the center of the left side of the grill, arranged in a single layer roughly 10 inches around. Place the Dutch oven on top of these coals, using its tripod legs to keep the bottom above the coals. Add about 6 good-sized coals to the lid of the oven, spread evenly across its surface. The bread pudding will cook slowly inside the Dutch oven from above and below. Do not use too many coals, or the bread pudding will burn.
Total cooking time should be about 1 hour. A couple of times during cooking, rotate the Dutch oven above the coals and the lid on top of the oven for even cooking. To ensure you have fresh coals to maintain temperature, you can add a small log or two on top of the coals in the right side of the grill (well away from the Dutch oven). This will generate more coals in case you need them.
When the internal temperature of the bread pudding reads 170°F, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the grill. Place it in a safe place on a heat-resistant surface to let it cool.
Serve warm with ice cream.