Monday, June 06, 2005

Memorial Day BBQ

Well, this is a bit late in coming, but...we invited some friends over on the afternoon of Memorial Day. We were worried about the weather, but it turned out to be sunny with a few clouds, and quite warm in the late afternoon.

For starters, Debbie made a mix of Olives (two kinds), Almonds, Golden Raisins, toasted fennel seeds, with the juice and zest of an orange, and maybe something else I'm forgetting:
Party Mix
and some very lovely Romesco sauce. I roasted (after boiling first) some new Yukon Gold potatoes tossed with salt and pepper and olive oil, and some grilled vegetables (scallions and two kinds of squash) to serve with the Romesco.
New Potatoes with Romesco
I made a lot of potatoes, but they all got eaten.

Several of our guests brought some lovely side dishes, but I didn't manage to take pictures of them, because I was too busy grilling. I know, you call yourself a blogger?! I made a leg of lamb, some chicken, and a pack of Bruce Aidells's chicken apple sausage. The lamb and chicken soaked for about 18 hours in the same marinade from the César cookbook. The marinade was meant for chicken, but worked really well with lamb. Our neighbor Jil asked for the recipe, so I'll post it here.

First you need some Moruño spice. This recipe makes quite a bit, which I'm keeping in the pantry. If anyone needs some, drop by or give me a call!
1/2c cumin seed
1/4c coriander seed
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4c pimentón dulce
2tsp cayenne pepper
1/4c salt

Toast the cumin and coriander seed on a pan until lightly browned, around 5 minutes. Grind with the peppercorns in a mill. Add the rest of the spices and mix well.

Once you have the spice mix, the rest is easy:
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used Spanish oil)
1 Tbsp Moruño spice
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

I ended up quadrupling that in order to marinate a butterflied (more or less) leg of lamb from the T&C and some chicken thighs from Costco. The lamb from the T&C is really good American lamb. I grilled the lamb on the Weber using the "indirect" method, i.e. the lamb in the center of the grill and the coals in racks on the side. I cooked the chicken (mostly skin side up to avoid burning the skin) over the coals on the side at the same time.

Since the chicken was done first, it got eaten really quickly. I cooked the lamb to an internal temperature of 135F, using my handy "probe" digital thermometer. Were it not for the fact that everyone was hovering around and looking carnivorous, I would have let the lamb rest for a while, but instead I carved it up immediately.

Other guests brought dessert. Jil made some really yummy cakes, Demi brought her famous mint brownies, and Rhodes and Jane brought a coconut cream pie from the Blackbird Bakery, which everyone except my kids liked. I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

We decided to serve some of that trendy "premium" box wine. We had Merlot from Washington Hills and Chardonnay from Black Box. For around 20 bucks you get 3L of wine, i.e. as much wine as four 750ml bottles, and it lasts up to a month! Our guests were definitely not winos, because we had a lot left. The good premium box wines are easily as good as a lot of bottles in the $10-$15 range. My only complaint is that Chardonnay seems to be the only white varietal available. The San Francisco Chronicle food section did a review of premium box wines last year.
Update: fennel, it was fennel!