Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to season meat so it blows your face off with flavor.

If you've been around us for even a small amount of time, you know we like to grill. Brandon is the undefeated grill master, mainly because he grew up in the grilling/smoking business. In case you forgot, Brandon's family owned a barbecue restaurant which we eventually took over before we moved to Houston.

Some men dream of having a man cave. I (Brandon) dream of having a brick lined pit with a real chimney.  My grill would be big enough to fit three or four briskets on it.  It would all be built into a pit house featuring a prep table, sink, and a big stack of woods like oak, mesquite, and pecan ready and waiting for use... plus a smoke room at the end for hanging sausages and meats.

One key to having the tastiest grilled and smoked meats is learning to season your meat well. The average person loves flavorful food but does not know how to properly season.  I get it, you're scared of over-salting, and it probably feels like you're really putting it on thick.

Put it on thicker.

Here's a starter recipe for those of you looking to jazz up your burger recipe. This is just a basic burger recipe. We add various other seasonings, and you can too, but first you need to grow accustomed to pouring on the seasoning.

Mandy doesn't like digging her hands in the meat, so the job of seasoning the ground beef usually falls to me. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty, but if the thought of getting them all beefy grosses you out, find a big spoon to mash it around and mix it up with. But really, it's best done by hand.

What you'll need:

  • 1 pounds ground beef
  • 1/8 cup of garlic powder (Really. If you can't stand to put that much in, put half of that. Make sure it is NOT garlic salt or this will be really salty and gross.)
  • 1/8 cup onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 TBSP hot sauce (They won't be too spicy. It's a small amount, relatively speaking.)
  • 1 TBSP mustard
  • 1/2 tsp to 1 teaspoon salt.  You don't want to over salt, so you might want to start with 1/2 teaspoon. Everyone has a different amount of salt they prefer.
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne for a spicy kick, which, obviously is optional.
So, dump it all in a bowl in the order listed, and start mushing it around with your hands.  Once it's all mixed in, form patties, and put them on the grill. Then chase your wife around with your gross meaty hands.

Make extra hamburger patties so you can throw one in your lunch of have one for breakfast with an egg on top.

How to season chicken breast:

I wish I could just give you a simple specific recipe, but that wouldn't work because the size of chicken differs. So, I'm going to tell you how to really season a chicken breast so it's super flavorful.

First of all, we want this chicken breast to really stretch because we're frugal. Take each breast and lay it down.  Starting at the fattest side of the chicken, butterfly the chicken from one end to the other.  You are basically making two really thin chicken breasts out of one piece.  The video below shows you how to butterfly a chicken.  Technically, you don't cut it all the way through, but in our house, we do.  This means each person gets half of the breast, and it usually fills them up, allowing the chicken to go further. (Remember, we have a family of seven, so making food stretch is important.)

Another thing we do, which you could take or leave, is pound each of the butterflied pieces with a meat tenderizing "hammer".  If there are uneven thicknesses, this will even them out.

Now it's time to season.  People typically lightly sprinkle seasoning on, and then they feel like it's just not very flavorful after it's cooked. My technique is pretty much to crust the chicken with seasoning.  We call it "seasoning-crusted chicken". Actually, we just call it chicken.

One of the reasons people over-salt meat is because they have various seasonings that are loaded with salt.  Tony Chachere's and various other seasoning already have a good bit of salt, so you may want to buy salt-free seasonings so you can control the amount of salt.  Liberally sprinkle on garlic and onion powders. Make sure you are not using garlic salt. DO NOT BUY GARLIC SALT. It is the devil. Not really, but, we've ruined some good dishes because someone bought garlic salt without realizing it and... anyway. No blame. I'm not bitter about it. Really. I've moved on.

When I say liberally season, I mean DUMP THAT STUFF ON THERE. Cover every millimeter of that chicken with it, both sides.  Buy a good steak seasoning that doesn't have salt (or only has a small amount of salt) and really go to town with it.  Our favorite steak seasoning is from Saltgrass Steakhouse, but, unless you're from Texas, you may not have heard of this place, even though they do have a few locations in Nevada, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Colorado. But, hey, you're in luck because TexJoy sells it on their website. (Yeeeehaw, y'all!)

Saltgrass' 7 Steak Spice has the perfect amount of salt. You can really season up the food, every millimeter of it, without over salting.  We're working on replicating this spice recipe ourselves, but you can't use cheap seasonings. It's got to be good quality stuff.  The only downside to this seasoning is that it's probably made with table salt, which is why we're working on a mixture that caters to our favorite flavors and is made with sea salt. And, that's yet another reason why it's best to buy salt-free seasonings!

Since you made the chicken thinner, it's going to grill quicker.  So, watch the pit closely.  You won't have to worry about part of it being under cooked since it's all the same thickness.

Grilled meat is a must when you're on the Whole30, and grilling up a bunch of extra food to have later will provide you with "fast food" without running through a drive-through. Today, my wife and I prepared about 20 pounds of meat to eat throughout the week.  Chicken, fresh sausage, hamburger patties, and breakfast sausage.... it's all ready and waiting, which means meals won't be frustrating and time-consuming because the hard work is already done! Plus, tomorrow she'll throw some things in the crockpot so we have shredded chicken or pulled pork on hand.  You could also use this time to make some hard boiled eggs. Always nice to be prepared and having something to grab on your way out the door in the morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Would you recommend any grocery store brands of steak spice? I mean we have club house montreal steak spice seasoning but I have a feeling that wouldn't be considered "good quality" Thanks for this, I never season my meat enough.