What Do We Cook for the Food Critic for the Post Dispatch?
In early May, 2009 we were approached by Joe Bonwich, who is the Food Critic for the St. Louis Post Dispatch, to do an article. He wanted to find out what made the Grillin Fools tick. Seemed like a great idea. Then it settled in. We were going to have to cook for someone who has eaten at the best restaurants in St. Louis, the country and possibly the world. No pressure right?
After some discussion we went with, to steal a baseball phrase, all home run balls. Nothing crazy. Nothing experimental. Nothing over the top. In fact we had to force ourselves to not overdo it. Myself, I wanted to kick everything I did up a notch to really take it to the next level. But with no time to test these changes I stepped back and stuck with the tried and true methods that I knew were always a hit.
The original online article is gone. Click on the icons below to see a PDF of the original article as it appeared in the the St. Louis Post Dispatch in May of 2009:
This is the pic at the top of the article on the STLToday.com article:
That was me about to flame sear the fat steaks behind me just to the right in front of the wine glass.
In this post I will show a little more of the process that Joe could not fit into his article. See, the real estate that is comprised of the articles that compose the Post Dispatch come at a price. As for this site? We have plenty of room to fill in with pics and more of the process at a much more discounted cost. The rest of the pictures, including a photo of Joe B himself, are included. He works very hard to hide his identity so this picture could blow the doors off that plan since it is a shot of Joe from the waist up enjoying one of our crostinis.
First let me iron out the menu. We did nothing new for Joe that has not been documented here on the site already other than shrimp glazed with a raspberry chipotle salsa that was skewered and suspended over the heat on bricks covered in tin foil. This is a very simple recipe and amazingly delicious. The salsa was store bought, and here is a pic of the shrimp skewers suspended over the heat with by the bricks:
The rest of the menu consisted of crostinis, grilled romaine lettuce, steaks, lamb, a fatty and ribs – all of which can be easily found by clicking on the appropriate category or search function on the right or with the the tag cloud on the left.
The first thing we did was crostinis:
And Joe paid us quite the compliment during this course. After all of us had eaten one, there was one left. I believe the quote Joe gave was, “I am about to pay you the ultimate compliment a food critic can give,” and he proceeded to eat his second crostini which was the last crostini. I was so honored I decided to get a shot of Joe mid “compliment.” Here is that promised shot of the elusive Joe Bonwich:
After we served the crostinis and then the shrimps we offered up the grilled lettuce. I know it sounds nuts but trust me it is a home run:
Now it was time for the meats. I was unable to leave work early so we were limited to things that could be grilled quickly as we cooked for Joe on a week night. So steaks and lamb seemed like obvious choices. Here is the lamb about to go on the grill – one French cut lamb rack with a basil pesto marinade and the other with a red wine/honey mustard/rosemary marinade:
And then we had the steaks. I had planned on going with three 2 inch thick rib eye steaks but the New York Strips looked so well marbled that I went with them. Here are the three monsters that I grilled prior to a marinade, my cell phone for reference:
Here we have the steaks, lamb, a couple crostinis all ready for the grill and a fatty already on the grill. Did I mention no pressure? I had to keep reminding myself that I was just doing what I do despite the guy with the camera. That is Christian, and he did a great job on the pics.
Wait. A fatty? If you are unfamiliar with the term (or think it pertains to something illegal) do a quick search on the right on our site or click this link. It’s just sausage slow cooked on a grill.
Those of you that are familiar with the term are wondering how I had the time to do a fatty because this was after work. That’s where Dad comes in. Dad was able to come over early so we added ribs and fatty to the menu. We figured the ribs were traditional BBQ, steaks are one of my best items on the grill, the lamb is a homerun, and the fatty was something we suspected Joe had never had. So, while I was still at work Dad was at my place indirecting some ribs and a fatty and boy did they turn out fantastic. How do these bad boys look:
And these ribs were not done over 6 hours, foiled or done with any new fad of rib cooking. They were put on the right side of a rectangular grill with coals and cherry wood on the left. The temp was held about 300 for 2 hours. That’s it. Here is a link to the full process with many more pics.
And do you want to see the grill? The grill was a 28 year old Char-Broil grill that, to put it kindly, had seen better days:
Let’s get a closer look at that thermometer:
And this is the ash tray that slides out of the bottom to make clean up easier except the ash tray doesn’t quite fit back into the the underside of the grill:
And here is the grill equivalent of the the plumbers exposed butt crack and explains why the ash tray doesn’t fit all the way under the grill:
And here are the ribs being sliced up by fellow Grillin Fool, my cousin Tom:
And here we have that great smoke ring despite only 2 hours of smoking:
If we can do ribs like this on an old clunker like that Char-Broil, you should be able to ace that recipe in just about anything.
How many of these did Joe eat? How many did he take home with him? I don’t want to say specifically how many but let’s just say he was quite fond of the ribs.
And that brings us to the fatty. A fatty generally takes as much time as ribs to cook. But there wasn’t enough room for the fatty on the grill that the ribs were cooking on. The fatty got placed over direct heat and thus it cooked too quickly. I threw a chimney full of hot coals into another grill, and moved it over there to slow down the cooking of the fatty but in the end it was still overcooked. The flavor was great but it was a little dry:
These things happen. BBQ is not an exact science. Mistakes happen. Even by the Grillin Fools. The main point of this site is to take our many decades of combined grilling experience and impart that knowledge on to you without you having to repeat the thousands of mistakes we three have made over the years.
BTW, guys, if you are grillin fools like we are and your wives just don’t get into it all that much, all you need to do is start a grilling website and get the food critic of the local paper to come out. My wife went all out for this cookout. Including new towels and linens:
Got a little red wine on this one (we were chillin while we were grillin):
And maybe the coolest thing I have seen in a long time is my 1 year old’s first grill:
He loves it and is destined to be the the 4th Grillin Fool!!