Caveman Porterhouse with Poblano Pan-Fry

thegrillingbook I mentioned this book a few weeks ago in my How to Build Your Cookbook Library post. It's a great cookbook with great recipes for poultry, beef, seafood and vegetables. I was skimming through the pages looking for a recipe and fell upon this recipe. Glancing at the recipe and picture, it looked fairly straight-forward. There are a few different ways of grilling - gas grill, charcoal grill, grilling directly on the hot embers of hardwood lump charcoal. We all know that I am desperate to learn how to master the art of grilling. But never did I think I would be grilling a porterhouse steak directly on hot charcoal.


I love photographing peppers. They always remind me of Pepper No 30 by Edward Weston.


I was surprised to see that the only seasoning used on the steaks was sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. I love a good steak, but I am known for adding a little A1 to my steak. Please do NOT add any other flavors to this recipe! Let the steak sit in the salt and pepper for an hour before cooking it. Where the real flavors start to show is through the charcoal -the meat gains incredible smoky flavors that are like nothing I've had before.


A note to anyone who plans on making this recipe: the hardwood lump charcoal takes a long time to heat up and get to the point where they are ready to use. Be sure to start the grill about an hour before you plan to start cooking, that way it will have plenty of time to heat up.




This recipe is hands down one of the best that I have tried in quite some time. Besides that fleeting natural light that I experienced (excuse the less than impressive picture above...), it was incredibly easy once reading through the instructions.

Have you ever tried, or even heard of, grilling meat directly on the charcoal? What is your favorite grilling method?

Caveman Porterhouse with Poblano Pan-Fry Serves 4


4 1¼-inch-thick porterhouse steaks coarse sea salt coarsely cracked black peppercorns ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 fresh poblano chiles, seeded, cut into strips 2 red bell peppers, cut into strips 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro 2 large shallots, thinly sliced


  1. Season steaks generously with coarse sea salt and cracked peppercorns; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Build a hot fire in a charcoal grill using hardwood lump charcoal. When charcoal is orange, spread out in an even layer on lower grill grate. Use newspaper to fan excess ash from coals.
  3. Arrange steaks in a single layer directly atop hot embers and grill until an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F for rare (steaks will carry over to 125°F, or medium-rare, as they rest), about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Using long tongs, transfer steaks to a plate. Using natural-bristle brush, remove any embers and loose ash from steaks.
  5. Tent steaks with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Add oil to 12-inch cast-iron skillet. Place skillet directly atop embers in grill.
  7. When oil begins to smoke, add chiles and all remaining ingredients to skillet. Sauté until vegetables begin to brown, 2 to 5 minutes, depending on heat remaining from embers.
  8. Using oven mitts as your aid, carefully lift skillet from grill.
  9. Season pan-fry to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Serve over steaks.

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

The past few days I have been trying to mentally and physically preparing myself for the next couple of weeks - the 4th of July, a wedding, a week-long vacation to Door County! Summer always seems to end up being a catch-22: you have so many things that you plan to do with your time - get into shape, go to the beach, read more - but at the end of the day, it seems as if time moves by that much quicker during the summer because we are filling our free time with so many things. Despite this all, I have found myself excited to post an entry on SMAK every day. Yes, some nights that requires me staying up much later than I'd like, but I have gotten into a grove that seems to be working and that I actually enjoy. Plus, I can't leave anyone hanging who actually follows the blog regularly (thank you if you're one of these individuals!). I have found myself spending quite a bit of time at my parents' house this week. I am not sure if it's the comfort of a familiar place or the ease of not having to commute back into the city after work, but last night was my first night at my apartment this week. And it appears as though this weekend is going to be much of the same.

I love cooking with my mom because she loves to cook just as much as I do! Pour a heavy glass of red wine and the two of us could spend hours in the kitchen!

Fennel & Garlic Shrimp

My mother is a huge enthusiast of Ina Garten. It would be safe to say that she owns a majority of her cookbooks. She stumbled upon this recipe for fennel & garlic shrimp and we decided to give it a whirl. Look at these photographs now, the dish appears as though it would be a lot more difficult than it actually is. The time-consuming aspect is simply the prep work - chopping the ingredients, etc.


As we enjoyed the meal, I got the intense sense that it had French inspiration. Now whether or not this is true, I have no idea. But I could picture myself sitting at a small bistro table in Paris eating the shrimp and shoveling the leftover ingredients onto a slice of French bread.

What about you? Have you had any dishes that have created a visceral experience? One that transports you to someplace completely different?


Fennel & Garlic Shrimp Recipe from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Foolproof Cookbook


6 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup chopped fennel bulb, fronds reserved 3 tablespoons minced garlic (9 cloves) 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1 pound (16-20 count) shrimp, peeled with tails on 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1 tablespoon Pernod 1 teaspoon fleur de sel 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper French bread for serving


  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the fennel and sauté for 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Turn the heat to medium-low, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook at a very low sizzle for 2-3 minutes, until the garlic just begins to color.
  3. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add them to the pan, and toss together with the fennel and olive oil.
  4. Spread the shrimp in one layer and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes on one side. Turn the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes on the other side, until they're pink and just cooked through.
  5. Off the heat, sprinkle with parsley, 1 tablespoon of chopped fennel fronds, the Pernod, fleur de sel, and black pepper.
  6. Serve with bread to soak up the pan juices.