Corks & Cake Contributor: Lee Ojascastro
From time to time on Corks & Cake we will invite some of our favorite ladies and gents from around the country to tell us what they are buying, loving, eating, cooking, drinking, or growing. Here is one such lady, Lee Hassett Ojascastro, my dearest friend from college, who hails from St. Louis, where she cooks, substitute teaches elementary school, and entertains in wildly stylish fashion with her husband and young son.
Last week we had a warm, breezy Wednesday night in St. Louis. After some freaky weather here in the midwest, this night felt like early summer, drawing us out to grill even though it was only midway through the work week.
In addition to the usual zucchini, we threw root vegetables into the mix, using yellow beets, Brussels sprouts, and sliced Bermuda onion.We cut up the beets, green zucchini, Brussels sprouts, Bermuda onion, lightly brushed them with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled them with kosher salt, freshly ground Malabar black pepper, and a dash of sugar. We threw some baby carrots into the mix and gave them a coating as well. The yellow beets don’t really need the sugar but the Brussels sprouts seriously benefit from it.
We have been grilling everything with our new “Cookina” grill cooking sheet from the online store TheGrommet.com (my favorite place to interweb shop besides Amazon.) The Cookina is a flexible, non-stick mat that can withstand temperatures up to 500°. It’s great for the grill because you don’t have to worry about your vegetables falling through the grate and you don’t have to take the time to skewer them or worry about them sticking to your dirty grill (hey, husband, note to self: brush off the grill.) It’s food-safe, reusable and reversible!
We’ve also been chopping up and grilling kale (don’t bother removing the spines). The kale’s sharp green flavor combined with the sweetness of the beets and the lemony smoothness of hummus is a taste sensation you don’t want to miss!
Rebecca’s Note: Here is a well-written recipe for Grilled Kale from Barton Seaver’s new book, Where There’s Smoke, posted on one of my favorite food blogs, Leite’s Culinaria. Check it out.
We have pork steaks in the foil packets on the top grill shelf in the photo above. It is a St. Louis tradition to grill ‘pork steaks’ on Memorial Day weekend. For those of you who may not have heard of pork steak, it is a cut of pork shoulder (also called pork shoulder blade) found in all of our grocery stores. Here is a great explanation of the cut and the method by fellow St. Louis cook Kitchen Riffs. Grill them, then braise them in a liquid on the grill over indirect heat (or in the oven at low temperature) for 90-120 minutes to make them tender. (Note: this is a special cut that has a lot of necessary marbling; do not try to substitute pork loin, tenderloin, or chops because they will be dry as the Sahara.)
Here’s how my husband and I prepare them:
- Sprinkle the pork with kosher salt, black pepper, sugar and garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil.
- Sear the pork until you have grill marks on both sides the way you like them, then wrap each pork steak tightly in foil.
- You can add whatever barbecue sauce you like (or a combination of barbecue sauce and beer) to the packets, but frankly I prefer them undressed.
- Place over indirect heat on the grill (we use the top shelf) for 1 1/2 or 2 hours depending on their thickness.
They are fall-apart tender and are juicy and amazing. The grilled beets, Brussels sprouts and some quinoa are a perfect match. My husband, who adores spice, likes to sprinkle ground cumin over his pork steak before digging in.
Also a good match: cold Chardonnay of your choice.
We serve our mixed vegetable grill with lemony hummus. I like the Sabra brand of hummus but doctor up the flavor with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a splash more of my favorite olive oil.
Easy, healthy and good! Try root vegetables on your grill this summer.