Posted by johngl
It prime grilling season here in Central Texas — the temps are still down in the low 80s making the weather simply perfect. For you folks above the Mason-Dixon line, use this information to prepare for your 4th of July parties. If you get some Swiss Chard growing in a starter pot, you’ll have some to harvest by then.
Here in Austin, Swiss Chard is a winter vegetable. It just gets too hot for it during the summer. So, along about February, I picked up a little starter pack and transplanted it into a larger pot. It’s now ready to harvest:
Notice the mix of red and white veined varieties. They taste the same, but the multi-colors look cooler on the steps of my patio kitchen. The leaves on these things will get huge if you let them, but they also get tougher and more fibrous. Consequently, I like to harvest them when they are young and tender. They don’t take much care and you can keep cutting the leaves since they keep sending up new shoots.
I virtually stripped the plants bare and took the leaves inside for a couple of quick baths.
The leaves tend to attract sand and grit, so make sure they are washed thoroughly in several passes through sinksful of cold water. I wash them, drain the water, fill the sink again, drain, and wash them one more time. No one wants sandy grit in their chard.
The stems are a might chewy, even on young stalks. I remove them.
A quick run with a sharp knife on either side of the stem works perfectly. It only takes a minute or two to run through a pile of leaves. Spin these dry in a salad spinner and set aside for use a little later.
The recipe of the sautéed Swiss Chard is really pretty simple:
- Thoroughly clean the leaves
- Chop coarsely
- Sauté some shallots in butter until slightly caramelized
- Toss in the chopped leaves and stir fry until just wilted
Easy enough for you? Here we go:
I’ve already cleaned the leaves, so it’s time to chop the shallots:
Now, just drop them into a pan with some clarified butter (clarified butter has a much higher smoke point than butter with milk solids).
I sprinkled a little salt on these as well — it helps to bring out the moisture. I sautéed the shallots on low to medium heat for a while until they hit a nice golden color. Then, scraped them out of the pan and set them aside. Cranking the heat, I added a couple of tablespoons of whole butter:
Let the butter get nice and frothy (this is just moisture boiling out of the fat), then add the chopped chard to the pan. After about 30 seconds, add the shallots back in and stir things up a bit.
Add a pinch of salt and a couple of twists of pepper, and this is ready to serve. From the time the shallots are caramelized to plating is all of about two minutes, so finish off the chard while the steaks are resting.
Speaking of steaks:
Prime grade beef has a LOT of intramuscular fat. On a hot grill, this will cause flare ups like you’ve never seen before. I strongly suggest that a Weber Kettle type grill be used as it makes it really easy to stop flare ups. Just put the lid back on.
This is my Weber in action. Note that I have modified my grilling surface. The grill marks that heavy gauge steel puts on my steaks makes the meat look really cool. Also notice how hot it looks in there. Get that baby as hot as you can.
Now, carefully apply the steaks:
See what I mean about flare-ups? I no sooner got these laid on the grill when the flames shot up and burned the hairs off the back of my hand. It’s okay, they’ll grow back.
Doing my usual dance of 1) applying steaks to grill 2) apply lid to grill 3) after two minutes, lift lid and rotate steaks a quarter turn 4) apply lid to grill 5) after two minutes, flip steaks. They now look like this:
Notice the flare ups? Yeah, step 6) apply lid to grill! 7) wait two minutes, lift lid and rotate steaks a quarter turn 8. apply lid to grill 9) wait two minutes, lift lid and remove steaks. 10) allow to rest for at least seven minutes.
While the steaks are resting, finish off that Swiss Chard, pop open the baked potato (surely you know how to make a baked potato), and get those items plated. By the time that is done, the steaks will be ready to plate.
On plating, you can get as creative as you want, but I enjoy the straightforward approach. This looks and smells so damn good, I nearly forgot to take a picture.
Here’s the money shot:
Tender and exceptionally juicy, a prime grade steak is really great treat once in a while. And at less than $10/lb. this was a really great find by the most glorious spousal unit!
The gang of wine makers at Marquis Philips, owners of R Wines of Australia, teamed up with Costco for a Kirkland Signature Series offering called Roogle. This 2006 vintage wine is made from Shiraz, Merlot, and Cab Sav juice sourced from McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley and sports a whopping 15% alcohol. It smacks your palate with enough ripe and dark summer fruit that you might want to spread it on a crumpet.
Because of it’s strength, we decanted this for at least an hour and it opened up beautifully. Dark ruby-colored and nearly inky, it offered wonderful aromas of cedar, cassis, blueberry, and plum. This wine is made for grilled meats (or pizza). It has enough spice on the finish to hold its own with peppery meats. This will easily take a few years in the cellar and only get better. At less than $10/bottle, it’s truly a great value, so make sure and stock up — I certainly will.
With remarkable wines at such low prices coupled with $10/lb USDA Prime Grade beef, the 2009 grilling season is shaping up to be the best ever. Just try and have a dinner for two of this caliber for about $35 anywhere else. Save money and eat like royalty.
Fire up those grills!