way too long since I have written a blog. The last one was mid May. My defence is that starting with May it is supposed to be summer and BBQ season right? Well, in England we have been absolutely smashed up with rain. In some strange BBQ protest the Gulf Stream decide to go north for the beginning of the “English Summer”. Doesn’t it know that it is grim up North! It must have eaten a few too many pies and decided to come back down south for a bit of a trim up to look good on the beach, because we are finally getting some summer! What should I BBQ on this wonderful Saturday evening?
I had been accumulating some interesting smoking / BBQ devices that intrigued me. I got the Cedar ones for Christmas from The Roasting Plank Company.
And the Cherry ones from my Weber Smoking Course goody bag.
So about an hour before you want to cook put the papers and a couple of skewers
into water to soak. It is best to put a weight on them so they do not float.
When I was at the Weber Smoking Course I thought that the wood papers would be good for scallops. So I defrosted some king scallops without roe and then put them in a bag with some olive oil to marinate.
Scallops by themselves cooked in butter are a great starter (especially if you wrap them in some porky goodness that is bacon) but this was a main meal so I needed some accompaniments. I chose Jersey Royal new potatoes, courgette and a bed of fresh baby spinach.
I was using Jersey Royal new Potatoes because I love their creamy goodness and flavour. As the season progresses the “new” potatoes slowly turn into larger version of their predecessors so you may have to cut them down to the size of your scallops. Then steam them for 15 minutes.
I really like grilled courgette! So I thinly sliced some and put it into a bag with olive oil and lemon juice to marinate.
I had recently purchased a French tarragon plant for my herb garden and decided to grab a couple of the sprigs for the meal.
The dinner was prepped and ready for assembly. Here is the pre-rolled assembly.
It will be kind of like a scallop and potato kebab, but in its own little smoky oven. Roll them up and close with a toothpick.
Prep your grill for medium indirect heat. So if you have charcoal that means waiting until the stack is white and then splitting half to each side. For gas it means both burners to medium. Once you are up to temp put the papers in between the heat and set the alarm for 3 minutes. When the alarm fires then put the courgettes over the coals / burners in direct heat and restart the alarm for 3 minutes. When the alarm fires turn the courgettes (they should have grill marks if not leave them) and reset for another 3 minutes.
This is when you need a Thermapen from ETI to check the internal temperature of the scallops without opening the package. The only thing worse than over cooked food is under cooked food. So if you know that a scallop is cooked when the internal temperature is 60 C then you know when it is done and you don’t have over cook it to make sure.
Mine is 63.9C, and I have grill marks on the courgettes so lets check out the finished product.
I think you could do a really posh dinner plate with this as is. Imagine some special rice spooned into the background and some asparagus laid in the foreground of the paper. You could probably get at least £20 for this in a posh restaurant.
So lets plate it up and eat…
The scallops were perfectly cooked. Texture was perfect and they cut with a fork (not rubbery). They were moist and melted in the mouth. The only thing that I was missing was the smoke I was looking forward to. My experience so far with wood papers is that you need to select the strong woods like Oak, Hickory or Mesquite because the time with the food is generally less than 20 minutes it needs a good punch of flavour.
Thinking back on this dinner I think the tarragon was kind of a mistake, since my goal was to tell which wood was the best for scallops on the grill. Tarragon is a strong aniseed flavour and therefore permeated the food with a nice flavour but covered the subtle smoke flavour – especially the really mild cherry. I could get a hint of cedar when eating a scallop by itself which was nice, but in the background was always tarragon. What I really like was that the Jersey Royals really absorbed the tarragon and they were great.
Let us hope we have more nice weather for more testing with these new BBQ products.