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July 03, 2009

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"3">Welcome back to the kitchen. This week we are celebrating the barbecue

grill, a national pastime. What is it about cooking over an open fire that we find so irresistible? I think it is

perhaps the tie to ancient generations.

In his book “Catching Fire:

How Cooking Made us Human”, Harvard Biological Anthropologist Richard Wrangham

argues that it is the very act of cooking that sparked cultural evolution. Essentially, he argues that

cooking elevated us above other animals because it made foods more digestible and nourishing, meaning we were

able to spend far less time hunting, gathering, and especially digesting.

So as you spark up the grill this weekend, think back to your ancestors huddled around a smoky fire, roasting

and drying mastodon meat so there would be nothing left for the saber tooth tigers. It’s nice to have

propane, no?

In any case, grilled foods just taste great. As fats and juices

drip down on to the coals or flame, a burst of smoky flavor rises up under the meats and veggies. And grills can

achieve a high temperature, which helps to char the outside and seal in all the taste.

style="text-indent: 0.25in;" class="MsoNormal">Now, any of us can slap together some group beef  and spices, brush chicken with olive oil

salt and pepper, or even easier, toss some brats on the grill. These classics are sure to satisfy, and I am not

one to turn up my nose at the simple American backyard barbecue.

But today

I hope to inspire you with a recipe that’s a little more off the beaten Weber. Back when I was living in

Portland, one of my favorite meals was the

barbecued salmon sandwich from New Seasons Market. Charred salmon on a chewy ciabatta roll topped with creamy

coleslaw and slathered in sweet/spicy barbecue sauce. Oh heck yes, I’m salivating just describing this

masterpiece.

The oily salmon plays well with the roll, yet comes across as far

less greasy than the pulled pork butt that would normally inhabit this sandwich. And there is nothing better than

the holy union of smoky, sweet, spicy, cool, and crunchy. And if you are planning a big backyard party, it is

simple enough to make this dish for a whole mess of soon-to-be-devotees of your grilling.

style="text-indent: 0.25in;" class="MsoNormal">Now because this is a local foods cooking show, and because I am never content to leave well enough

alone, I want to put a few twists on this creation. So I am going to pass along a recipe for spicy sweet cherry

barbecue sauce made from scratch with the summer’s brief bounty of small stone fruit. If making your own

sauce seems too daunting, just stick with a thick, sweet/spicy/smoky barbecue sauce like Stubb’s.

"3">And we’ll add a slight Mexican twist to our slaw by adding extra

lime juice, a bit of fresh cilantro, and some crunchy jicama as well. Finally, because we’ve got the grill

going, we’ll do barbecue glazed peaches with a fresh cherry reduction and vanilla ice cream sprinkled with

a little fresh mint, if we have time for the recipe. Now THAT is a summer meal!

"text-indent: 0.25in;" class="MsoNormal">We’ll start by making the cherry barbecue sauce, which I picked up from the LA Times food section.

But please understand that barbecue sauce in America is like

curry in Southeast Asia: it is deeply personal and varies widely by region.

This is a bit of a fussier sauce recipe than you may be used to, but I promise it is sublime!

style="font-size: 12pt; font-style: normal;">The LA Times recipe suggests you make the

barbecue sauce at least 1 day in advance to allow the flavors to develop and meld together. This particular

recipe makes about 6 cups sauce, which will keep for up to 1 week, refrigerated, if there are any leftovers. So

here is the:

Roasted cherry

barbecue sauce—LA Times (modified for Cooking Local)

"MsoNormal">4 pounds fresh cherries,

preferably Bing, stemmed but un-pitted

1/4 cup almond oil, divided

1 onion, thinly sliced,

top to bottom

3 cloves garlic, crushed

grated zest and juice of 1 orange, divided

/>1 teaspoon fennel seed, toasted and ground, more to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons ground chipotle pepper,

more to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin, more to taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

/>1 cup dry Washington red wine

1/2 cup cherry liqueur, preferably Heering's (one of the oldest and

most popular cherry liqueurs, not too cloyingly sweet)

1 cup chicken broth (veggie or beef stock would

be fine as well)

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup,

preferably Grade B, more to taste (you can get away with molasses if maple syrup is too expensive for you, or

even use brown sugar)

2 dashes Tabasco (or other vinegar-based hot sauce), plus more to taste

/>
1 tablespoon salt, more to taste

1 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional (we won’t need the

liquid smoke, because we are going to roast the cherries on the bbq)

1. Heat the barbecue (to roughly 400 degrees). Place the cherries in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons

of the almond oil and toss to coat lightly. Make a makeshift roasting pan by folding up the sides of a large

sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, and spread out the cherries on that sheet. Make a few small toothpick holes in

the bottom of the sheet, so some juices drip down and the smoke flavors the fruit a bit. Roast on the grill with

the cover closed until the cherries begin to burst and are very fragrant, about 20-25 minutes. Remove and set

aside until cool enough to pit.

2. While the cherries are

roasting, heat a heavy-bottom 4-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons

almond oil, then stir in the onion, garlic and orange zest. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion becomes

translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Stir in the ground

fennel, chipotle pepper and cumin to coat, then stir in the tomato paste. Cook, stirring

frequently, until the tomato paste darkens slightly and leaves a film on the bottom of the pan, 3 to 5 minutes.

Watch carefully that the tomato paste doesn't burn.

4. Stir in

the red wine and cherry liqueur and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid reduces and

thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice, chicken broth, mustard, maple syrup,

w:st="on">Tabasco and salt and bring to a simmer. Stir in the

liquid smoke, if using. As the sauce comes to a simmer, pit the cherries, discarding the pits. (Pit the cherries

over the roasting pan, saving any juices.)

5. Stir three-fourths

of the pitted cherries and all of the cherry juice into the sauce, reserving the rest of the

cherries. Cook the sauce at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Purée the sauce until

fairly smooth, using an immersion blender or blending in stages in a stand blender. Return the sauce to the pan

and stir in the remaining cherries. Continue to gently simmer for 15 more minutes. Taste and adjust the

flavorings and seasonings as desired. Remove from heat. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Warm the sauce before

using.

 

style="font-size: 12pt;">            OK, so we’ve

got our amazing local cheery bbq sauce all set, and it is thick, rich, and delicious. One common misconception

about bbq sauce is that it is meant to be slathered on the mea that is cooked on the grill. But because of all

the sugars in these sauces, they will blacken and burn. So you want to cook your meat almost all the way through

before brushing on the sauce and letting it glaze a bit. For these salmon sandwiches, we could even just leave

the sauce as a topping, and cook the fish filets fairly plain.

face="Times New Roman" size="3">            For

the salmon, we will use roughly 6 ounce pieces of salmon (think sandwich sized). If you end up with

giant filets of salmon, you probably want to cook them whole, then cut them into portions once they are off the

grill. Just brush each filet with some olive oil. Chop some fresh parsley to sprinkle over, and splash with

about a teaspoon of soy sauce (or a sprinkling of salt). Grind on some black pepper and grill on a medium heat

for about 3-5 minutes per side.

face="Times New Roman" size="3">If you are concerned about over cooking and

drying out your salmon, you can wrap it tightly in thick foil to seal in all the juices. While this is a great

way to cook fish on the grill, we would miss out on the charred grill marks that I want for this sandwich. After

about 6-10 minutes of cooking (after you have flipped the fish) check on the salmon’s doneness. It should

flake with a fork but not be dry. Pull the filets off the grill and set aside, covered in foil.

"font-size: 12pt;">Now, to make the Mexi-slaw. We’ll

need:

"3">-1 small clove of garlic, peeled

-1/2

teaspoon (a big dash) of salt

"Times New Roman" size="3">-juice of 1/2 fresh lime

style="text-indent: 0.5in;" class="MsoNormal">-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

"MsoNormal">-1/2 teaspoon rough

ground mustard

-2 teaspoons sugar

-2

tablespoons mayonnaise plus a splash of olive oil

"MsoNormal">-a small pinch of celery

seeds

"3">-black pepper

"MsoNormal">-about 3 cups each finely

sliced red and green cabbage strips

face="Times New Roman" size="3">-2 cups peeled and finely sliced

jicama

size="3">-1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves. Feel free to toss in some

parsley as well.

 

Start by

crushing the garlic in the salt in the bottom of a wooden bowl with the back of a wooden spoon. Mash it until it

becomes a fine paste, then add the lime juice, vinegar, mustard and sugar and stir well. Next mix in the

mayonnaise and oil, along with the rest of the spices. Taste the coleslaw dressing. Is it sweet enough? Tart

enough? Make corrections before tossing in the sliced cabbage and jicama. Feel free to grate in some carrots or

slice red peppers if you want even more color in the slaw. Add a bit more oil and vinegar if you need more

sauce.

size="3">Very nice: cool, creamy, crunchy, tangy and sweet. This will balance

out our cherry barbecue salmon perfectly. I find that coleslaw actually tastes better if it is allowed to sit for

an hour or two before serving, so cover and put it in the fridge if you have the time before dinner.

            When

it comes time to assemble the sandwiches, slice ciabatta rolls in half and toast on the grill a little bit. Lay

a grilled salmon filet on the bun, slather with the spicy cherry barbecue sauce, then top with a heaping mound of

the mexi-slaw. Oh yeah, it may be messy but damn is it ever tasty! This is one of those lean forward and wear a

bib type recipes, but it is an incredible departure from burgers and dogs on the grill.

            It looks like we are running out of time for

this week, so we won’t be able to do dessert. But to barbecue peaches, you basically just cut them in half

and remove the pit, brush with butter and sugar, then grill cut side down until they get a nice carmelization.

Serve with a fresh cherry reduction and vanilla ice cream sprinkled with fresh chopped mint leaves. Yum!

            I hope today’s adventure in the

kitchen has left you hungry to fire up your own barbecue party. Let me know what you are grilling, and what

local foods you have been enjoying. Write me at

"mailto:isaac@kohoradio.com">isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO Kitchen, I’m

Isaac Kaplan-

Woolner

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