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TTT (8/10/10)-Grandma’s Apple Pie Kicked Up a Notch or Two
Greetings my friends,
I hope you enjoyed this summer series on grilling techniques and ideas. I will close out this series with desserts on the grill.
Remember, your grill, gas or charcoal, is simply an oven with a lid instead of a door. However, your oven has a temperature controller, and for the grill, you are the temperature controller. Controlling the heat on a gas grill is obviously easier because a temperature adjustment is simply a matter of twisting knobs to control the amount of natural gas going to the manifolds, and thereby changing the temperature.
On a charcoal grill, temperature control a matter of experience, the amount of charcoal used, and primarily the skillful use of dampers to control air flow which translates to heat. Heat on a charcoal grill is directly proportional to the amount of oxygen flowing to the coals. Think it this way; Oxygen is to a charcoal grill what natural gas is to a gas grill. While not technically accurate, the idea will help you remember more air/oxygen, more heat. For example, airflow is critical to Bar-B-Que/smoking tough cuts of meat at low temperatures between 225 F and 250 F for several hours. These temperatures are entirely controlled using the input and output dampers on the smoker. More wood is added to the smoke box for replenishment, not necessarily for heat.
When baking, either type of grill should be equipped with a quality thermometer. I do not recommend using the thermometers that may have come with your grill, as they are not typically accurate. Buy and use a quality stainless steel thermometer you can insert or integrate into the lid of your grill. Be sure to position the thermometer such that it is the same height of the food baked.
Indirect heat yields the best results. For example, if you have a 5-burner gas grill, use only the two outer burners. For a charcoal grill, have two piles of coal at the edges or perimeter of the grill, leaving the center/middle of the grill absent of any direct heat. Using indirect heat, thermometer and dampers set, you are good to go.
Apple pie is an American classic dessert that lends itself to baking on a grill. However, my apple pie has a twist that makes most people cock their heads like a dog hearing a high pitch. Here it is. Remember those canisters of bacon drippings we used to have in our refrigerators before the Surgeon General told us bacon fat is bad? Well, instead of using the traditional lard or butter normally to make a crust, use filtered bacon drippings from Applewood smoke bacon.
No, I didn’t lose my last remaining brain cell. It tastes great, and actually makes culinary sense. Why, because we have introduced a savory element (smoke) that further brings balance to the palate. A gentle savory smoky finish brings the sweet and sour of the apples and the subtle saltiness of the dough together in one bite. Give it a try. To make a light and flaky crust, keep all the ingredients of the crust nice and cool and work the dough as little as possible. Your crust will be light and flaky if you do so.
Now go to that recipe box shoved back into the recesses of the pantry, dust off your Grandma’s award winning recipe, core and slice those apples, fry up some bacon and make Grandma proud.