Grillin’ on the Bay 2010

April 3, 2010

There are many things to like culinary-speaking about Brooklyn. It’s a huge melting pot for different cultures and many of New York’s food traditions, and most of the country’s best and most iconic ethnic dishes originate from there.

It has some of the best Pizza imaginable in the entire country and is the cradle of Jewish cuisine as we know it in the United States. Arguably the best hot dog on the planet originated in Brooklyn. And so on, and so on. Brooklyn is America’s premium brand name for ethnic culture.

However, I don’t normally consider Brooklyn to be a huge barbecue town. But last Saturday, my views on this were seriously challenged.

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Gary Wiviott, Please Let Me Back in the Program

May 23, 2009

gwiv-lowslow by you.

Gary Wiviott’s new BBQ book published by Running Press (which he authored with food writer Colleen Rush) is based upon his popular web-based course on how to master the Weber Bullet smoker in 5 easy lessons. Unfortunately, because I decided to skip ahead to Step 3 after Step 1, he threw my ass out of the program.

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A perfect Labor Day, courtesy of Professor Wiviott

September 1, 2008

Despite the worry for my friends in New Orleans today — which it seems may escape the worst of Gustav’s wrath — Rachel and I had a pretty ideal Labor Day, thanks to Gary Wiviott’s Master the Weber Smokey Mountain in 5 Easy Dinners Course.

wiviottwsm by you.

Gary Wiviott’s Online WSM Course is a must for any prospective Smokey Mountain owner.

We’ve been messing around with our WSM for a few weeks now, and while we’ve made some very tasty stuff, it would be arrogant to say that we’ve mastered its use and gotten ideal results with it every time.

I was recently directed to Gary Wiviott’s web site and his five steps to excellent barbecue course. I met Wiviott a few years ago on a visit to Chicago, where both Ron Kaplan and I had a very meat-filled dinner with him at Fogo de Chao restaurant, a Brazilian Rodizo place. Until recently I had no idea that he was such a ‘Q fanatic, but I knew he was a food nut — he runs the food discussion site, which specializes in Chicago restaurant talk.

Ready to make ‘Q on your WSM like a pro? Listen to the Professor. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Lazy Saturday

August 16, 2008

Some weekends you just want to sit home and do nothing. Two 14+ hour workdays in a row pretty much eliminated my desire to go out and do anything other than shop for food supplies, lie down on the couch like a lump and play with my new Weber Smokey Mountain.

IMG_7018 by you.

Breakfast at noon — Ancho, Red Pepper, tomato and Zucchini Summer Egg Beater Scramble with Jalapeno Cheese and fresh Cherries. Eaten while watching last night’s recorded Olympics on the DIRECTV DVR. Not what Micheal Phelps eats for breakfast, but pretty damn good.

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Refining the ‘Q technique

July 4, 2008

Like any Barbecue enthusiast, I’ve been trying to improve my technique and the end-results of the actual product by making a few tweaks here and there. I wanted to show you what I’ve done so far.

Ain’t these purty? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Nice Weather = WEBER (XIII): Father’s Day 2008

June 15, 2008

This year, Father’s Day was a little bit different. We usually do the steaks and hamburgers and hot dogs and chicken on the grill thing, with baked potatoes, beers and the usual stuff at my in-laws (my own parents now live in Florida, free from the ravages of brutal New York winters). However, Rachel and her mom decided that we would have Father’s Day at our home this year, so we cooked for the occasion — in our now more health-conscious style.

For appetizers, I bought some Quahog clams at the Asian market, cooked them a bit on a grill until they opened and yielded their juices, and then chopped them up with some garlic, scallion, chile pepper, cherry tomatoes, and mixed them up (with the clam juices) with cubed whole grain bread in order to make a stuffing, which I sauteed in a pan. I then placed several cooked shrimp in each metal tray and scooped the stuffing on top, to make my own version of Baked Stuffed Clams.

After baking in the Weber for a few minutes to get a nice brown crust on top.

Ready for some more Father’s Day vittles? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Make Kabobs, Not War — Or How I Started With National Meatloaf Appreciation Day and Ventured Into Political Activism

October 14, 2007

The folks over at SeriousEats have an meme going this month with meatloaf. I’ve been sort of wrestling with what kind of meatloaf to make by the deadline. I came to the realization that with my upcoming trip to Denver this next week I wouldn’t be able to come up with anything particularly cool or inventive on short notice. So in lieu of a really cool recipe, I’m going to make a political statement.

Last month’s visit to the US by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad particularly enraged me, on so many different levels — that a man, particularly a leader of a foreign nation, a man who presumably has had a higher education, and a man with an technical engineering background could say such stupid, ignorant things. A man who is sending his country on a collision course with the free nations of the world, determined to arm his extremist country with nuclear weapons and presumably with the intent to use them to destroy the only true democracy in the Middle East and to destabilize the entire region. To this I say, Make Kabobs.

Iran has been something of a pariah state for the last 30 years, and is the country everyone loves to hate, and I think with good reason. But I’m a firm believer that in order to understand a country, one must respect its traditions and culture, and we must come to the realization that it’s not the oppressed Iranian people that deserve our ire, but only its government. And we can start respecting their culture and building bridges with the Iranian people by learning about their food.

Tonight, we made some Iranian-style ground meat kebabs (Koobideh) for dinner. I have to say, these are some of the best I have made yet. To make them, I went to a local Iranian grocery store in Hackensack, NJ and picked up some spice mixes, and a bunch of other things. The recipe is not much more than taking a bunch of ground meat, mixing it with the spice mix and some chopped up vegetables, and grilling it up. Kind of like… A meatloaf!

Maybe the kabobs tasted really good not just because I love Middle Eastern food, but because I spent about an hour talking to the shop owner, making friends and learning about Iranian food customs. He taught me the proper way to make Iranian lime iced tea (made from dried Persian limes) and showed me which spices are used for what dishes, and for that I am super grateful. And because of that personal service I’m going to be a return customer for sure. This, in my opinion, is how we should conduct international relations. President Ahmadinejad could learn a lot from this shop keeper.

Below is a OTB-tweaked recipe for Iranian Koobideh Kabobs, which with a few minor modifications would make a great spicy meatloaf as well. For those of you who feel uncomfortable eating “Iranian” food, you may be interested to know the same popular dish (under different names and in slightly different spice preparations) is served in Afghanistan, and also in Israel, Iraq, the Balkans, and lots of other -Stans.

Interesting Afghan factoid: Dari, the primary language spoken in Afghanistan by about 70 percent of the population, is the same language as Persian or Farsi, what the Iranians speak.

Iranian Koobideh Peace Kabobs (Or Iranian Meatloaf)

2lbs Ground Meat (Use all beef, or a mixture of beef, veal, lamb or turkey)

1oz Package of Iranian Ground Meat Kebab Seasoning (I used the one made by Sadaf out of Los Angeles, but you can try a mixture of onion powder, salt, pepper, sumac, parsley, turmeric and cumin)

2 long hungarian-style frying peppers, or cubanelles, mixture of red and green, finely chopped. Not traditional but I thought it would add that extra “something”.

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 handful of chopped parsley

2 cloves of crushed garlic

5oz of warm water

Kabob Preparation: Dilute spices in 5oz of warm water for 5 minutes to prepare marinade. After marinade is thoroughly diluted, mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Let marinate for 15 minutes. Form into ovular patties and cook on outdoor grill until desired doneness.

For meatloaf, soak two slices of bread in milk (or if you’re an Persian Jew and require a Kosher preparation, omit the milk and just use breadcrumbs) Squeeze out moisture, mix with 2 tbsp of tomato paste or ketchup and two beaten eggs. Mix with above marinated meat and spice Kabob mixture. Form in a small loaf pan, cook for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Serve with simple rice pilaf and salad.

Beverage accompaniments: Iced tea made from boiled dried limes, or black ceylon tea infused with crushed cardamom pods and saffron.

Nice Weather = WEBER (XII): Sausage and Peppers

August 19, 2007

Sausage and Peppers are among my favorite things to grill — it’s a simple, hearty dish, and in my opinion the greatest contribution to the backyard barbecue by the Italian-American culture. Next to Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, it rates in my top 5 of ideal summer foods. The dish has been immortalized in numerous films and on television by shows and movies such as The Sopranos and Goodfellas. But like the bold and intimidating characters in those films, a sausage and peppers sandwich requires dealing it an appropriate amount of respect and care — you need to source the proper ingredients and cook it properly.

Optimally you want to get your sausage from a specialty Italian deli or butcher, or from any kind of reputable butcher shop that makes sausage fresh. This sausage is from Vitamia and Sons in Lodi, New Jersey, a very Italian neighborhood with lots of specialty Italian stores in it. I don’t particularly like to use supermarket cheapo bulk-pack Italian sausage because the fat content is way too high, and that kind of stuff is much better for rendering the grease out and using the meat in things like tomato sauces where you need to add a lot of sausage flavor.


These are sausages from Pete’s Meat in the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in ‘da Bronx. This is another one of my very favorite places for buying Italian sausages. Here we’ve got the three basic kinds — sweet, seasoned with fennel seed, hot with pepperoncini chili flakes, and parsley/cheese. All are great for use in Sausage and Pepper subs, so I usually buy a mix.

I like to use a mix of different types of peppers for my subs. Medium-thick walled Italian style frying peppers such as the Cubanelle are great to use, as are Latino and Eastern-European styles such as the long Hungarian types. I particularly like Mexican Ancho and Anaheim/New Mexico style peppers for sandwiches. The smaller spicy style pepperoncinos are great for mixing into your pepper assortment as well. You could also use regular thick-walled Green Bell peppers, but I don’t particularly like them — I like to wait until they go completely red because I hate the grassy flavor of the green kind. For onions I like to use a combination of sweet Texas/Vidalia and Bermuda/Red types.

I like my peppers to be skinless when eaten on a sandwich, particularly if they are of the larger, thicker walled kind such as the Green/Red Bell, Cubanelle or Ancho/Anaheim/New Mexico type. I find that removing the skin also removes most of the bitterness and that grassy, astringent taste that I don’t like. Roasting the peppers directly over your burner or an open fire takes care of this problem.

Once you get your peppers completely charred and black on the outside, put them all in a plastic container, close the lid, and let them cool down for about 15-20 minutes. They will steam up and the skin will loosen, and you should be able to slide most of the skin off with your fingers. You can then run them under the water to remove any excess skin, and then cut them open and remove the ribs, seeds and inedible core part. If you get a little charred black skin that doesn’t come off, it’s no big deal as it adds some nice charred flavor. I then like to chop the peppers up into bite sized pieces and saute it with some olive oil, garlic, and season it with salt and pepper. Thinner walled/thinner skinned and smaller peppers can be cut up raw and sauteed with the other peppers, or you can grill them with the onions and sausage.

Sausages should be grilled on low heat with the lid closed so they can cook through and don’t get burned up in flare-ups. A way you can keep the heat under control is to grill your slices of onion around your sausage so they give up their moisture. Before grilling, I like to toss my onions and other vegetables (Eggplant slices, Zucchini, Corn) in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Finished sausage and pepper sub. I like to get a nice crusty loaf of bread for this purpose and toast it on grill.

Sausage and Pepper Sub closeup. A New Jersey and Italian-American classic. The sausages I used for this sandwich came from Bartolomeo in Palisades Park, NJ.

A Tale of Two Chickies

July 6, 2007

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This week, my brother Brandon has been visiting from California, and he’s been eating a number of his meals with us. Being a Perlow, he has a pretty remarkable appetite, so we’ve had to cook a bit more than usual lately. He also doesn’t get decent home cooked meals very often, being a single guy, so we decided to make a traditional chicken dinner.

Here we have two chickens, one prepared with chopped garlic and rosemary shoved under its skin, with a tray to catch the gravy, and the other glazed with barbecue sauce (during the last 15 minutes of cooking) with the skin mostly removed just before glazing. The Barbecue sauce chicken also has a beer can with beer (about halfway full) shoved into its posterior.

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The Great Off The Broiler Hot Dog Tasting of 2007

July 3, 2007

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In our previous hot dog tasting, in the summer of 2004, we evaluated 14 brands of hot dogs which could easily be purchased at supermarket chains in the New York Metropolitan area. Three years later, Consumer Reports released a similar study where the hot dogs from Hebrew National, owned by industrial foods giant ConAgra rose to the top — a result which ruffled the feathers of many seasoned hot dog experts, myself included. The gauntlet (or in this case, the bun) had been thrown down, and it was time for Off The Broiler to dust off its scoring sheets.

Click Here for Hi-Res Slide Show of the tasting day.

Click Here to view the Tasting Results data sheet (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)

Click Here to listen to the Hot Dog Tasting Podcast (34 minutes) with Jason Perlow, Rachel Perlow, Brandon Perlow, John Fox, Eric Eisenbud, Jonathan Lurie and Jordana Z.

Click Here to listen to the supplementary audio (2 hours and 23 minutes) with all the panelists, where we discuss all the hot dogs we tasted real-tine. Includes hilarious bickering and arguing, and the classic “What @#$%& number is it?” Abbott and Costello sketch.

Click Here to watch some video clips of the tasting day at Google Video.

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