Spaghetti with Smoked Meatballs and BBQ sauce

Last week, while searching for inspiration on what to write about, I came across a half used bottle of Grumpy’s BBQ Sauce in my fridge. A packet of spaghetti noodles waved at me from the pantry. Hmm. Deep smoky spiciness mixed with tomatoes, garlic, and onions? Sounded delicious to me. There was some ground beef in the fridge as well, the perfect excuse to try something that I’ve wanted to do for awhile. Smoking some meatballs.

 

My wife wasn’t impressed with the idea of BBQ and spaghetti, but I’m happy to say that after tasting the dish she admitted complete defeat.

 

Spaghetti with Smoked Meatballs and BBQ Sauce

Meatballs:

2 slices of bread, torn into small pieces. Any type will do, I used multigrain with seeds, which gave a bite to the meatballs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 pound ground beef, or other meat
1/3 cup grated cheese. The stronger the better, I used cheddar
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon garlic powder. I would have used a fresh clove minced, but I was out.
2/3 teaspoon of salt
3/4 teaspoon salt Black pepper, good pinch, or ideally, freshly ground  

BBQ Tomato Sauce:

2 Tablespoon Oliver Oil
1 Large onion, diced. Feel free to add more, they only improve the sauce.
1 teaspoon garlic powder. Again, if you have a close use that, minced.
1/3 Cup bbq sauce. I used Grumpy’s bold bbq sauce 1 can of tomatoes  

The Rest:

1 pound spaghetti noodles. I used extra thick tubular noodles.
Salt
Freshly grated cheese, for serving

Step 1: Starting the BBQ or Gas Grill

I used a Weber with charcoal and wood chips to smoke these meatballs.

If you don’t have a charcoal bbq them you can use your gas grill to smoke with this method:

Put about a cup of wood chips, soaked for 30 mins, onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Fold the foil around the chips so they are enclosed in a pouch. Now turn the packet over and poke around 10 or more holes into the foil, so the smoke can escape. This can be put under the grate, just on top of the burner shield, holes facing up.

Whatever you use, you will need to:

1. Soak the woodchips for 30 mins

2. Preheat the grill or start the charcoal The meatballs should be cooked with indirect heat, so if you are using charcoal make sure they are moved to the side of the bbq. On a gas grill, you can preheat it with all the burners so it heats up faster, but before putting the meat on be sure to turn off the burner that will be under them.

Step 2: Preparing the Meatballs

1. Mix the bread and buttermilk together in a bowl and let the bread absorb the liquid for around 10 minutes, giving it a stir occasionally. You want it to become paste-like.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground meat, cheese, parsley, egg, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and bread-buttermilk mixture. Make sure to mix this very thoroughly.

3. Now it’s time to make the meatballs! You want them around 1  1/2 inches around, and make sure to be gentle when shaping the them. They shouldn’t be squeezed until they’re very firm. There should be about 14 meatballs when you finish.

Step 3: Smoking the Meatballs

1. Your grill should be hot now and the wood chips should have been soaking for at least 30 minutes.

2. Put the wood chips in the BBQ or Grill

3. Put the meatballs on the grate or grid, be sure they are not over direct heat. I had trouble with them slipping through on my Weber, so I put them on a cast iron pan and put that pan on the BBQ. You could also use aluminum foil if you have the same trouble.

4. Put the lid on and cook until an instant read thermometer  160 degrees F .

             

Step 4: Preparing Sauce and Noodles

While the meatballs are cooking, you can get the sauce started.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a tablespoon of salt. When this is boiling, add the noodles and cook until al dente. Drain.

2.  Pour the oil into a pan, heat up, then add the onions. To speed up the cooking, sprinkle them with a generous pinch of salt. This will help them release their juices faster and allow them to soften and begin caramelizing. How long to cook the onions is up to you. Anywhere from just soft, to fully caramelized. In my opinion, the more caramelized they get the better the sauce is. Just don’t let them burn. Keep a glass of water by the pan in case they start sticking. This way can pour a little  water in and they will come off the bottom, without the sticky residue burning.

3. Once the onions are cooked as you like, add the garlic (if you’re using fresh garlic, let it cook for 30 seconds before adding the other ingredients),  bbq sauce, and tomatoes. Cook this until the sauce has thickened and the tomatoes have melded in. Around 20 mins, but it depends on the temperature you’ve cooked it at. If it thickens too much you can thin it with some water, more tomatoes, bbq sauce, etc.

4. Salt and Pepper to taste. Don’t forget, it’s very important!

To Serve

Put some noodles in a bowl and top with the sauce. Top the sauce with some meatballs, and sprinkle the entire thing with the grated cheese.

Juicy Rump Steak Marinated in Southwest Sauce

 

Tried a delicious new marinade concoction yesterday. It would work well on any tougher grilling cut, such as rump or steak tips. Using a soy sauce base acts a little like brining; helps keep meat moist by increasing its ability to hold onto water while cooking.

 

Make more than you think you’ll need; it’s so good people won’t want to eat anything else.

 

2 lbs of Rump Steak

 

Marinade ingredients:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons chili powder (I made my own, recipe below)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste

 

Lemon wedges for serving

 

1. Trim any fat and gristle from the meat and cut into 1 x 2 inch strips.
2. Mix together the marinade ingredients and combine with the steak in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for ideally 1 hour, not more than 2 (or it could get too salty)
3. 15 mins before you’re ready to grill, preheat all of the grill burners on high with the lid closed.
4. Remove the meat from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels. It will smell fantastic.
5. Leave half the grill on high, but turn the other have to low.
6. Sear the meat on all sides on the hottest side of the grill. If the meat is thick you can move it to the cooler side to finish cooking to your desired doneness. Be careful, because the meat is cut up it cooks faster than normal.
7. Serve with lemon wedges

 

 

 

Chili Powder Recipe:

 

I kept this chili powder intentionally mild since there were a lot of young kids eating the steak. Ancho chilies run more sweet than hot.

 

3 dried ancho chilis
1 dried chipolte chili
1 tablespoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1. Slice the chills and cook them in a dry frying pan for a couple minutes, be careful not to burn them.
2. In a mini food processor or grinder chop the chills into a powder, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Rum and Coke Ribs

Ingredients

The Meat:

  • 2 large racks of pork ribs

The Marinade:

  • 1 generous cup of rum
  • 2 cans coca cola
  • 10 oz tomato ketchup
  • 1-2 Squirts of tabasco Sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tbls hoisin sauce (find this at your local asian supermarket)

Directions

1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, then place the ribs in a plastic or glass dish and cover with the marinade.

2. Refrigerate overnight.

3. Set up your BBQ for indirect cooking. You are looking for a medium-low heat here, so be careful not to overcook it.

Tip:
If you are using a charcoal grill, it is recommended to leave at least half of the fire bed free of coals.
If using a gas grill with a lid, turn for example your left burner on and cook towards the right hand side.

4. Place the ribs in a heavy roasting pan and place on the cool part of the grill.

5. Close the lid, and cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Baste the ribs every 20 minutes with your marinade.

6. Add more coals to the fire or turn up the burner so the grill is medium hot.

7. Remove the ribs from the pan and place directly on the grill grate.

8. Cook for 5 minutes on each side, or until caramelized and lightly charred.

9. While the ribs are cooking, place some of the marinade in a saucepan on the grill, bring to a boil and reduce by half to serve as sauce with the ribs.

10. Enjoy, with your favorite beverage!

Grilled Avocados and Other Audacious Vegetables

We know that barbecuing and meat go hand and hand, while vegetables are kind of an afterthought. Thrown somewhere in between the quest for a bloody steak and a cold beer. That guilty feeling of neglect for my body has inspired me to test out a few barbecued vegetables.

 

 

1. Grilled Avocado

While avocado can be great on almost everything, grilling up halves of avocado was something I wouldn’t have expected to be so good. The smoky taste from the grill seems to match perfectly with avocado. Who would have thunk it? Highly recommended.

When ripe, an avocado has pale yellow to gold flesh and a delicate, sweet, nutty flavor. It should be just starting to soften. About as firm as the tip of your nose, rather than soft like your cheek.

How to cook: Slice avocados in half, remove the seed and brush each side with olive oil and lime juice. Grill for 5 to 7 minutes. If you like you can fill the hole with salsa or sour cream and sprinkle with cilantro.

 

 

2. Asparagus

While asparagus is quite often seen on a barbecue, I think it deserves a mention, purely because of how great it is. Asparagus must be purchased locally. Asparagus starts turning starchy straight after being cut.  It should be eaten as soon as possible, preferably the day it is cut.

How to cook: Break the bottom of the asparagus off to remove the woody part. Drizzle with olive oil and salt. Place perpendicular to the grill so the spears don’t fall through the grill. Cook for roughly 3 or 4 minutes over a medium high heat. They should still have a bite to them.

 

3. Garlic

Rather than mixed in marinades or fried, roasting heads of garlic whole on the barbecue is fantastic. Simply cut off the root end and roast garlic indirectly for 30-60 minutes with the lid down, until the cloves are soft. To eat, squeeze the head of garlic onto bread, food, or just about anything.

4. Onions

Roasted onions are delicious and combine well with the garlic above. When they are quartered, they take about the same amount of time to cook as the garlic heads.

3 Quick ‘N Easy Quesadillas on the BBQ

 

Always a popular appetizer, don’t the fancy name put you off, quesadillas are just tortilla sandwiches. And as we all know, sandwiches are quick, easy, and versatile. Your choice of fillings is only limited by your imagination (and what your taste buds can handle).

The technique couldn’t be simpler: Fill the tortillas, grill for a few minutes to brown and melt the cheese, cut into wedges, and eat.

Here are three ways I like quesadillas. These combinations are delicious, but don’t hesitate to change them in any way you want. Experimenting is all part of the fun.

 

Combination 1 – Avocado, Bacon and Cheese Quesadillas

8 Flour tortillas
1 Cup shredded cheese
2 Tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 Avocados (make sure they are ripe!), sliced into thin wedges
8 Bacon slices, cooked and roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons toasted cumin seeds (seeds are ideal but you can use a couple of teaspoons of ground cumin instead)
16 Fresh cilantro sprigs
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combination 2 – Smoked Meat, with Pineapple, Jalapenos, and Green Onion Quesadillas

8 Flour tortillas
1 Cup cheese
4 Pineapple rings, thinly sliced
1/2 Pound smoked meat (duck, beef, pork, venison, chicken, etc)
2 Jalapenos, diced
1/4 Sliced green onions, green and white parts
1/4 Fresh oregano, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Combination 3 – Shrimp, Corn and Tomato Quesadillas

8 Flour tortillas
1 Cup cheese
1 Tomato, diced
1/2 Pound cooked shrimp, diced
1/4 Cup corn
2 Tablespoons Coriander seeds (seeds are ideal, but you could use a couple of teaspoons of coriander powder instead)
1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat the grill to medium to low temperature.

2. Lay four tortillas on a baking sheet and put the ingredients from the combination you are using on them, in the order listed. Top each of these with another tortilla and press down, so that it all stays together (it helps if the mixture is a little wet).

3. Carry the quesadillas to the grill using the baking sheet and carefully transfer them to the grill. Cook until the bottoms are crips and the cheese is melted. Approximately 3 minutes. Then turn them over (carefully!), cover and toast the other side.

4. Cut into quarters and serve on their own or with some tasty salsa

Grilling Fish: 4 Simple Rules

Four simple rules to keep fish from sticking to the grill

1. Clean

Make sure your grill is super clean. Any residue will cause the fish to stick.

2. Preheat

Preheat the grill until it is very hot before putting the fish on.

3. Coat

Coat the fish very thinly with oil before cooking.

4. Leave it

After you set the fish on the hot grill, leave it there! Don’t move it for at least a couple of minutes. This will give it time to sear and separate from the grill. When you do move it, wiggle it carefully and then roll it over.

Cooking Shish Kebabs the Right Way

Ah, Shish Kebabs. Many people’s memory of a shish kebab is an incongruous combination of uncooked vegetables and tough chewy overcooked meat. Whether it is a flaccid bit of zucchini or the escaping tomato, there are many ways do shish kebabs wrong, which is why they have a pretty bad rep. We were determined to find a way that is both pleasurable to eat, and doesn’t require a lot of fluffing around. I tried a number of different techniques from my disturbingly large collection of cookbooks as well as online, and we found a lot of recipes but none that really satisfied all our criteria.

The main problem with shish kebabs is that the meat cooks much faster than most vegetables. This makes your vegetable choices actually quite limited. We had the best results with bell peppers and onions. They cook at a similar rate to lamb and the combination suits perfectly. We tried using a rub on the kebab, but because the meat cooks too quickly, it leaves an unappetizing taste and texture. However, marinades work fantastically.

Basic Grilled Shish Kebab

  • 2 and 1/4 pounds of lamb (preferably leg of lamb – shank end), trimmed of fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion (preferably red), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3 medium bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch pieces

Step 1.
Combine lamb and your choice of marinade (see below) in a large bowl or plastic bag for as long as you can (minimum 2 hours or preferably overnight).

Step 2.
If using wood skewers, pre-soak at least 30 mins in advance so they don’t catch fire.

Step 3.
Start preheating the barbecue.

Step 4.
Thread each skewer in this order:

1 piece of meat
1 stack of onion (about 3 layers)
2 pieces of pepper

Repeat to fill your skewer – ending with a piece of meat.

Step 5.
Grill the kebabs uncovered until meat is browned all over. Cook for roughly 7 minutes for medium rare but this will vary depending on how hot your grill gets.

 

Shish Kebab Marinades

Both of these marinades simply need to be processed in your food processor until smooth. Enjoy.

Rosemary and Mint Marinade

10 large mint leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons juice from a fresh lemon
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Parsley Marinade with Ginger and Spices

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
1 jalapeño chile
2 tablespons fresh ginger, grated roughly
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper

Lamb Marinated With Yogurt and Cumin, With Roasted Eggplant Dip

This is one of those exceptional combinations that, if you’re like me, you’ll have fond memories of feasting on large plates of cutlets and dip. It’s fantastic finger food, and can be used as either an appetizer or main meal depending on your preference. Enjoy!

If you don’t have access to lamb cutlets, you could use other cuts of lamb, or even beef or venison.

Yogurt and Cumin Lamb Cutlets

  • 20 lamb cutlets (approx)
  • 1 pound of Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled & crushed slightly with a knife
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Empty the yogurt into a large shallow pan. Add the onion, garlic and salt, and stir. Add the lamb cutlets, and stir until the lamb is well coated. Leave for 4 hours at a minimum.

When you are ready to BBQ your meat, remove the cutlets then lightly pat with a towel to remove the excess marinade. Grill! Be careful not to overcook the lamb, a couple of minutes on each side should be fine.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

  • 3 eggplants
  • 4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1.5 lemons
  • 1 tsp salt

Prick the eggplants with a fork, and put into a 410 degree oven for about an hour until the skin is blackened but the flesh still soft. Leave to cool until you can handle them.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Spoon the eggplant pulp into the sieve and let drain for 15 mins.

In a large bowl, mix the tahini, lemon juice and salt. Add the eggplant pulp and mash with a fork until combined. Mix in the garlic, and drizzle with some olive oil.

3 Delicious BBQ Patty Recipes

The following are my current favorite patty recipes. Nothing beats homemade patties and I’ve stockpiled the freezer with them for the ultimate convenience meal.

All recipes make approximately 20 patties.
Note: All my recipes are fabulously delicious and there is no way you’ll be able to eat just one. That’s why you’ll note that all the recipes are for 5 pounds of meat – not that I eat all that in one sitting. I like to make bigger batches and freeze them purely for convenience, but you can easily half or quarter the recipe if you want.

Spiced Paprika BBQ Patties

The black pepper in these patties has a surprising bite. Make sure to use fresh nutmeg, it makes all the  difference. Also, the better the paprika, the better the patties. Hungarian paprika is the best.  These are my wife’s favorite patties.

  • 5 pounds of ground pork OR 3 pounds of ground veal, 2 pounds of ground pork
  • 1 1/2 ounces salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 cup ice water

Sweet Italian BBQ Patties

Delicious and complex. The fennel seeds in this recipe give amazing depth of flavor.

  • 5 pounds of ground pork
  • 1 1/2 ounces of salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup ice water
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Country Beef BBQ Patties

A very well balanced beef patty. Robust and hearty. Again the quality of paprika is key. Keep in mind that the patties will taste the best and be juiciest with ground beef that has more fat in it.

  • 5 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 1/2 ounces salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup of ice water

Instructions for all three recipes

Combine all ingredients except liquid together in a large bowl. Add water and mix either with a mixer or your hands, until the mixture has bound together.

The patty will emulsify, which helps bind the patty together. We don’t typically like to add a binder, but you could add breadcrumbs, eggs, or even cheese, if you wish. You will need to experiment with quantities, so we really recommend you give it a try without any other binder first.

Don’t forget your mayonnaise. Enjoy!

Memorial Day Menu

Summer feels like it’s finally here, everyone is unpacking their camping gear and revving up their BBQs. It’s a time for family, friends, and good food. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a fantastic menu to kick off this grilling season.

To Start


Quesadillas on the BBQ are so easy and they taste fantastic, I particularly like them with the Cheesy Tomato Dip.

- Grilled Quesadillas

served with Creamy Guacamole and Cheesy Tomato Dip

The Main Course


These hamburgers take a bit longer to prepare than normal, but they are well worth it for something extra special. And I can’t emphasize enough how delicious this potato salad is, please, please try it!

- Ultimate Bacon Wrapped Hamburger

- The Best Potato Salad

- Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato Salad

Dessert


Grilled Pineapple? Yes, it is fabulous. Just thinking about those hot skewers dipped in chocolate makes my mouth water. So yummy.

- Grilled Caramelized Pineapple with Chocolate Sauce

To Drink


Berry Lemonade, drink it as is or spike it with vodka, either way it’s the perfect summer drink. Hmm wait, maybe that title should go to beer…

- Berry Lemonade

- And of course, Beer.