This is my first blog in my Grilling Series. Read and leave me a comment, question, suggestion or answer. ENJOY!
This is a must for every Grill Master and weekend warrior.
My Wok History:
My WOK is made from 2 plow discs and 3 mule shoes
My good friend Kenny Cox from Apache Junction, Arizona came across the idea for this Plow Disc Wok with some of his buddies! The one Kenny made for me is roughly 21 inches in diameter for the bottom and 19 inches for the top and weighs approximately 20lbs. Handles for the bottom disc are actually two mule shoes. One additional mule shoe is welded to the top disc for its handle. I fire up my wok two ways. I have a Brinkmann single burner tripod and a Camp Chef 2 burner camp stove, both propane. I like the camp stove for everyday use in the backyard and will take both to camp as the size of the wok keeps me from using the camp stove’s other burner when in use. I painted the handles and exterior of the disc with Rust-Oleum high temperature black paint. I then painted an additional 3 coats of Rust-Oleum black semi-gloss. The semi-gloss paint makes for easier cleaning and keeping the wok looking sharp. You may shop on-line for a wok similar to mine. You will always get what you pay for. Spend at least $75 for a decent cast iron or stainless steel wok. Bass Pro Shops or Gander Mountain and other outdoor stores have them as well.
Use & Care of your Wok:
It is very important to properly season and care for cast iron cookware or woks. To season a wok or any cast iron cookware, heat to medium, add Sea Salt and canola oil. Wipe down, leaving a coating of salt and oil on the wok, cover, turn heat up to medium high, leave for 20 minutes, let cool down, then wipe off any remaining residue. The process to season a new wok or any cast iron cookware or to restore and season any cast iron cookware that is rusted or left in the shed all winter is very similar. I prefer to cook or roast an inexpensive pork shoulder or a pack of bacon to break in properly. This is the same way I prefer to season a smoker as well. Prior to and after each use, I wipe down my wok with canola or olive oil, sea salt and a little heat to keep it clean. I use a putty knife to scrape any excess grillings off the wok. Wire brush if necessary. DO NOT WASH IN SOAPY WATER! If your wives insist on it, go back and start the seasoning process over again. It took Lorie a while to get accustomed to cooking with a cast iron skillet and the wok. It takes time and patience to learn this cooking style. Lorie now loves cooking on the wok and my cast iron skillet that looks like it belongs in Hop Sing’s kitchen at the Ponderosa!
Okay! Let’s get to cooking!
Today I will suggest three meals…Saturday Lunch & Dinner and Sunday Breakfast.
Grill Master Motto: Preparation, Patience & Practice, Practice, Practice!
Sunday Breakfast on the Wok: The most important meal of the day. Start with 1 pound of low sodium or turkey bacon @ medium high heat and adjust accordingly. Cut the bacon in half; toss it in the wok stirring occasionally with a long fork. Next, add your turkey or chicken sausage patties or links. Reduce the fat, ladle off excess grease during the cooking time. Place your biscuits around the top to warm them. When the bacon and sausage is nearing done, pull them up the wok. Ladle off any excess grease. Now it’s time to add the red potatoes with the skin on, (leftovers from last night, see below) add white onions, fresh garlic and a dash of basil and rosemary. Add Morten Lite Salt and Ground Pepper to taste then cook until golden brown, remove and place in warming bowl. Heart Healthy potatoes; Red Potatoes with the skin on are lower in calories than Russet or Idaho potatoes, additionally; they add fiber, vitamin C and potassium to your diet. Next, pour in scrambled eggs, add scallions, shredded cheese, salsa, salt & pepper to taste. Use a spatula to ensure even cooking. Do not overcook! Remove and place in warming bowl. Heart Healthy eggs; use 1 yolk for every 3 egg whites, add fat-free half n half, mix w/whisk and pour into wok. Time for the gravy; pour gravy into bottom of wok to heat. (Heart Healthy gravy; well…skip it!) While gravy is heating, serve eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage and biscuits, and then let folks ladle their own gravy from the wok. In camp, I keep everything warm in Dutch ovens by the fire, at home in the microwave (it’s airtight) or the oven. In camp I prepare old fashion cowboy coffee with my old camp percolator and I bring a jug of OJ from home. You will be amazed at what cooking breakfast outside at camp or on your patio will do for you… Breakfast is served!
Saturday Lunch on the Wok: Nothing better than bratwurst and beans for lunch at camp or on the patio on Saturday afternoon. Preheat the wok to medium and pour in 12 to 16 ounces of your favorite beer (see beer discussion in my Beer Can Chicken Recipe Blog). Cut up a Mexican (White) or Vidalia onion, if it is springtime. Bring beer and onion mix to a nice easy simmer. Drop in your favorite Wisconsin Brats. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes. This is a wok only lunch so we will stay here instead of putting the brats on the grill after they simmer. Drain the beer and keep the onions on the bottom of the wok. Very important not to use too much heat. Move the brats up the wok and allow to gently cook and turn golden brown. DO NOT slice or cut the brats on the wok as all the juice we have simmered in will come out like an Arizona Monsoon. While the brats are cooking, remember to turn a quarter turn every 3-4 minutes. Let’s pause for a second for a quick discussion on Brat Rolls. Unless you live in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, home of the original Hard Roll or Hearth Roll, go to your favorite deli or bakery and find a good hard roll. I would suggest Healthy Life Bread, 100% Whole Grain Rolls. Place the roll open side down around the top edge of the wok. This will give the rolls a nice wok mark and warm them up. Onions should be caramelized by now and moved to a warming bowl. If you did not prepare homemade cowboy beans, add it next time, simply open a can of what you have on hand and pour into the bottom of the wok, they should warm up in 10-15 minutes. If you buy beans I suggest Bush’s Vegetarian Beans. Continue checking brats, total cooking time is approximately 25-30 minutes. I suggest a hearty horseradish based mustard with Brats. Silver Springs Beer & Brat brand mustard is an excellent choice or Weber’s Horseradish Mustard, a Buffalo, New York staple since 1922 is also excellent. Or you can make your own. Simply take lite mayo or lite Miracle Whip, add equal parts of your dressing of choice, Marzetti Fat Free Dijon Mustard or a Gluten Free Classic Brown Deli Mustard such as Koops’ Deli and a good local Horseradish. ‘Old Timer’s Horseradish from the Cuba Cheese Shop in Cuba, New York is one of my favorites. If you are not a Horseradish Junkie, you are not from Western New York. Try it, you may love it. Adjust ratio to taste and the quality of your horseradish (heat index.)
Okay, it’s serving time! On a big cookie sheet, place the rolls, onions, and brats. Add mustard sauce, a ladle of beans and a cold beverage of your choice and…Lunch is served!
Optional Desert: Sliced, seedless watermelon.
Saturday Supper on the Wok: I gave this a lot of thought as we have many great choices. I settled on Roasted Garlic Flat Iron steaks with red wine sautéed mushrooms, roasted red potatoes, caramelized asparagus and a fresh garden salad with a nice balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
The important part of my selections is to “Keep It Simple” I have read and tried Flat Iron steak recipes with 15 ingredients and hours of prepping and marinating. My whole idea on the grilling part of my blog was to show you Dads and Papas how to prepare and grill an amazing meal and not kill yourselves or your wallet doing it! So here we go.
First off you always need to know where the cut of meat for the steak comes from. A Flat Iron steak, also known as a Top Blade steak, or Butlers’ steak, comes from the Top Blade of the cow which is off the shoulder. Useless trivia-there is only 2-4 16 oz. Flat Iron steaks available per cow. Cost is approximately $7.00/lb. 10-12oz steaks are plenty for this meal. Save your money for wine and desert. I prefer a butcher shop for special cuts of beef. Believe it or not, one of the best butcher shops around is Sam’s Club. Go early and let them know what you want and they will usually have it the same or next day. I am fortunate here in Arizona, we have one of the best butcher shops in America. Mid-Western Meats, All Iowa Corn Fed Meat. All meat is shipped in quarters from Des Moines, Iowa and cut to order at the shop. For Christmas this year I smoked a 10 lbs. Prime Rib Roast, Holy Cow that was fantastic. I will leave that for another post. I have learned over time that grilling is an art, not a race! Proper preparation, patience and practice are a must. Okay, let’s knock out the salad and keep it simple. Always buy from the market, buy in smaller quantities so you reduce waste. Our markets are open 7 days a week. I try to buy fresh the day I’m grilling or cooking. If I’m going to camp, I will wash and prepare lettuce in layers with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels in a large plastic bowl to keep fresh and crisp. Market Tip, produce at the top of the shelf or under side of display is the freshest available. Remember – closest is oldest! Okay, let’s get started. In a large bowl add fresh red and romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, fresh Roma or Cherry tomatoes, fresh cucumber with the skin on, red onion and sprinkle in a few roasted almonds or pecans for some crunch. Add a little feta cheese with a nice balsamic vinaigrette dressing on the side and the salad is good to go.
When you cook a dream supper on a wok, your mates will think you went to The Arizona Culinary Institute! Act like you have done this before! Confidence is everything on the grill or wok!
Time to ready the steaks. Sear, then low and slow is how we do steak! Preheat the wok to medium high. Set up steaks on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, no MSG, Granulated Garlic, and Sea Salt & Indian Malabar Black Peppercorn. Steaks should be at room temperature before seasoning and grilling or roasting. Try to season about 30 minutes before you grill or roast. Chop up several cloves of garlic. For camp I will prepare a dozen or so cloves before I leave home. In a separate bowl have mushrooms washed, sliced in quarters and seasoned with Lawry’s, Granulated Garlic and salt and pepper. To prepare the red potatoes wash, slice into quarters, then lightly salt and pepper. To prepare the asparagus, simply wash and cut off the bottom inch or so of each stalk. As the potatoes and asparagus will take the longest to cook, start by adding potatoes and asparagus to the bottom of the wok then add a little water for steaming and cover. Every 4-5 minutes flip and add more water, this will steam cook the potatoes and asparagus. After 15-20 minutes you should be able to put the potatoes in a warming bowl. Leaving the asparagus in the bottom of the wok, add olive oil, garlic cloves and salt and pepper. Cover and flip every 3 or 4 minutes until the asparagus is caramelized, move to warming bowl with potatoes. Next, add a generous pour of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to the wok, bring up the heat Do not boil the oil! Add chopped garlic, enjoy the aroma, and lightly brown the garlic. Next, dip and sear each of your steaks 2 minutes each side, you should be able to sear two steaks at a time. As you complete searing two steaks, move them up the wok to medium heat, 6 steaks will take 12 minutes to dip and sear. Once all the steaks are seared, remove any excess olive oil. Time to add the mushrooms. Toss in the wok; add a splash of red wine and cover. (If you are home, put the steaks on your preheated grill to medium-low heat after you dip and sear) Turn steaks and mushrooms every 4 minutes. For medium rare steaks, 6-8 additional minutes should be good. For those who prefer medium steaks, serve the first ones dipped and seared as they will be on the wok the longest. Anyone requesting a steak cooked more than medium, offer to blacken a hotdog or leftover brat from lunch for them….. Salad is ready, potatoes and asparagus are ready, pull steaks when medium-rare and place back on cookie sheet under aluminum foil. Place mushrooms in warming bowl. Please remember to allow the steaks to rest for 5-6 minutes before serving. This will allow the juices to stay in the steak and not run all over your plate. Turn off the wok and pour your favorite red and enjoy…Dinner is served!
Optional Desert: Fat Free Pineapple or Peach upside down cake, made in a Dutch oven.
I will occasionally ask my daughters to add deserts to the menu. If I grill steaks then ask Lorie for a desert, I will get the look! Come on guys, you know the look…right?….Guys?
Please send your ideas and recipes to me and I will share.