September 2017 — The Labor Day Issue
Fire up that grill in celebration of the American workforce ̶ and the long weekend. At Kalamazoo, we are also celebrating the long-awaited release of our own premium lump charcoal. This inspired us to create two new Labor Day recipes that take full advantage of the unique heat and flavor that only a charcoal fire can deliver. Even better, this Labor Day menu is easy to prepare and pulls you away from the party for only a minimum time. Advance prep is the key, with the side salads ready and waiting before your guests arrive. The quickly grilled steak entrée is the only cooking you will need to do during the party, and it is sure to delight. This simple menu features charcoal-grilled Dry-rubbed Hanger Steaks with Jalapeno Butter and Charred Asparagus Salad, both grilled quickly over a hot charcoal fire. A fresh and simple Tomato Salad rounds out the meal and takes advantage of beautiful, ripe heirloom tomatoes while they are still at their peak.
All of us at Kalamazoo wish each of you a safe and festive Labor Day weekend.
Charred Asparagus Salad
Fresh asparagus is grilled quickly over a blazing-hot charcoal fire. The intense heat allows you to char the asparagus, but pull it off the grill while still al dente. Juice squeezed from grilled lemons forms the base for the vibrantly-flavored dressing, and the rest is a delicious combination of orzo pasta, Marcona almonds and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 4 lemons, cut in half through the equator
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound dried orzo pasta
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup Marcona almond halves
- 1 to 2 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
Whisk together 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (squeezed from 1 of the lemon halves). Toss the asparagus in the mixture to coat, then season generously with kosher salt.
Grill the asparagus quickly to char the outside, pulling the asparagus off the grill while it is still al dente (you need a very hot fire for this). Fill a sheet pan with ice. Place the asparagus on top of the ice to cool rapidly and stop them cooking further. Once the asparagus is cool, discard the ice. Reserve the asparagus.
Grill the remaining lemon halves (6 or 7) over the same charcoal fire until nicely browned, about 2 minutes. Reserve.
Cook the pasta to al dente in boiling water according to the directions on the package.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. Use a lemon juicer to juice 4 of the grilled lemon halves into a saucepan. Reduce the lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat until thickened. Whisk in the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Remove from heat and reserve.
Once cooked, strain the pasta and rinse under cold running water to halt the cooking process. Transfer the pasta to a large bowl and immediately fold in the dressing to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
Cut the tips off the grilled asparagus, then slice the stalks on the bias. Fold the stalks and tips into the pasta, along with the almonds and parmesan. Test for taste, adding a little salt if needed.
Serve at room temperature.
Dry-rubbed Hanger Steaks with Jalapeno Butter
Hanger steaks, or hanging tenders, are one of those “butcher’s cuts” that a lot of people have never tried – cuts that butchers usually reserve and take home for themselves. Hanger steaks are full of that rich beef flavor we love so much, and they are a perfect match for a hot charcoal fire. For a little more information on hanger steaks, check out our blog post about Two Lesser-known Steaks You Should be Grilling.
The dry rub in this recipe is full of garlic and black pepper. The fresh jalapeno butter melts into the steak upon serving, turning this relatively modest steak into something truly special.
- 4 hanger steaks, about 1/2 pound each
- Extra virgin olive oil
For the Jalapeno butter:
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter at room temperature
- 1/2 of a large jalapeno stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Dry Rub:
- 1 tablespoon dried chopped garlic, coarsely ground in a mill
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Prepare the jalapeno butter at least 1 hour or up to 1 day ahead of time. Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until the jalapeno bits are quite fine. Transfer the mixture onto a flat sheet of plastic wrap. Form into a log shape and wrap tightly. Refrigerate until use.
Prepare the dry rub by mixing all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
Lightly coat the beef with olive oil, then season liberally with the dry rub on all sides. Use all of the rub. Let the steaks sit at room temperature (but not in the sun) while you prepare the grill.
Place the steaks on the grill grate in the direct zone. Turn them after 2 to 3 minutes, or once the first side is nicely browned. Continue moving the steaks every 2 minutes until all sides are browned. Check the internal temperature after the first 6 to 8 minutes, depending on the heat of your fire. For the best flavor and texture, remove the steaks from the grill when the internal temperature reaches 125°F. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. To serve, slice across the grain and top with pats of jalapeno butter.
Simple Tomato Salad
When summer tomatoes are ripe and beautiful, they deserve to have the spotlight all to themselves. Our Simple Tomato Salad features your favorite tomato varieties with a little vinaigrette, some fresh lemon thyme and shallots.
- 3 pounds of your choice of ripe tomatoes, cut to bite-sized pieces
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup minced fresh shallots
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme leaves
- Flaky sea salt
- Coarse-ground black pepper
Place the tomatoes in a serving vessel. Whisk together the oil and vinegar. Whisk in the shallots. Pour the mixture over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the lemon thyme leaves over the top and season liberally with salt and pepper.