Hi and welcome to the the Fathers Day installment of Chop Talk. In this edition we are going to look at the origins of the backyard barbecue. For the most part, the barbecue is an ‘American’ tradition, but we think you’ll be surprised at its origins and those who were its biggest fans. We’re sure most of you can recall some of these great times and hopefully, you have carried on these traditions. Then we’re pleased to introduce to our good friend Chef Rocky Fino in this edition of Chef’s Spotlight and we have a delicious recipe for Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin.
Food Tricks & Kitchen Tips
The most plausible theory claims that the origin of the word “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian phrase “barbacoa,” which describes a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word back to Haiti, and others claim that “barbecue” might actually come from the French phrase “barbe a queue,” meaning “from head to tail.”
In America, barbecue can be traced back to colonial times, with a Virginia law written in the 1600s providing that, “discharging of firearms at a barbecue was prohibited.” In George Washington’s diaries, one entry, dated May 27, 1769, describes him traveling to Virginia for a barbecue. What we find most fascinating about his subsequent entries over the next few years, is that it reveals George to be the very antithesis of what we have come to believe with regard to his personality and demeanor. To most of us, the ‘Father of Our Country‘ is portrayed a stoic and serious individual, yet most of his entries concerning barbecue, are usually followed by entries about his ‘laying low for a few days and doing nothing of note.‘ Seems ol’ George was a partier at heart and we might very well have documentation of the first Presidential Hangovers! You Go George, Party like it’s 1799!”
In 1820, in a letter to her grandfather, Thomas Jefferson, Ellen Randolph wrote him of ‘a great barbecue’ held on the Fourth of July in Charlottesville. By that time, Independence Day barbecues had become the norm. It is even recorded that upon the marriage of Abraham Lincoln’s parents, on June 12, 1806, the ‘reception‘ was a barbecue. From the book, “Lincoln: The Prairie Years, 1927,” written by Carl Sandburg, a guest at the wedding, Christopher Grahm wrote, “We had bear meat, venison, wild turkey and duck eggs, both wild and tame, maple sugar lumps tied to a string to bite off with coffee or whiskey, syrup in gourds, peaches and honey, a whole sheep roasted in a pit over coals of burned wood and covered with green boughs to keep the juices in.”
So as you can see, the tradition of gathering with your friends to cook some sort of meat over wood or coal outdoors seems to have been around for centuries. Now if only the cool DUO tongs were available then, they may have made BBQ easier.
In this edition of Chef’s Spotlight we are featuring good friend Chef Rocky Fino, author of Will Cook for Sex: A Guy’s Guide to Cooking, Will Mix for Sex: 21 Classic Cocktails to Set the Mood and Will Cook for Sex Again, Again and Again. He earned himself the affectionate designation of “the show’s giggle” at a 2005 literary trade show. But when it comes down to showing men that cooking for a woman doesn’t have to be intimidating, the culinary writer and presenter takes his mission very seriously. “As men — single or married — we are challenged with enamoring our significant others,” he says. “There is no better chance to show her your affection than in the kitchen.”
In his books, meal demonstrations, and speaking engagements, Fino breaks cooking down into simple steps and complements his recipes with visual aids and amusing anecdotes about his own trials and errors – thereby reassuring men (and, often, women) that they, too, can impress a date by developing some basic confidence and creativity in the kitchen. With a playful and approachable self-depreciating style, Fino guides would-be seductors through specific topics like essential equipment, salmon vs. steak, and meals the morning after. As a pioneer in the field of pairing and cooking with craft beer, the California-based chef also challenges readers and viewers to break with tradition by serving elegant beers instead of wine to score points in the crucial categories of innovation, forethought and attention to detail.
Fino, who spent many a childhood night cooking for the family with his father, received a B.A. in Radio, TV and Film from Temple University and an M.B.A. from California State University. The skills he learned in school combine with a natural sense of humor to make him a sought-after broadcast media commentator and featured chef at food, drink and relationship expos and events across the country. To wit, Fino is the resident cooking expert for TV8 in Vail, Colorado, and appears frequently on TV news and cooking shows in Philadelphia, Manhattan and St. Louis. He’s also the featured guest chef for the Atlantic City Beerfest.
Fino’s first book, Will Cook for Sex, published by Stephen’s Press in 2005, won ForeWord Magazine’s “Cookbook of the Year” award and has received praise from publications such as Men’s Health Magazine, Maxim, Hooters Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and St. Petersburg Times. “He provides a guy’s insight into the crazy abyss of dating and relationships,” reviewed Tracy Spicer in Pasadena Weekly. “Think of Fino as your best friend, giving you advice before the big date. Only these friendly pointers are not cheesy pickup lines or suave moves … and they most likely will work!”
As a California native, Fino has long taken advantage of the fresh ingredients and progressive culinary ideas that informed his father as he methodically prepared thousands of gourmet meals with his son. “He admitted that since I didn’t get Paul Newman looks from him, he needed to give me something else to help with the ladies,” the younger Fino remembers. “After many years of defeat suffered while trying to go toe-to-toe in the ring of the pick-up scene, I finally realized the value of that skill.” Since picking up an iron and a skillet, then and a pen and a microphone, Fino’s succeeded in picking up many a pleased woman and several books’ worth of pointers. And if any readers or viewers require proof that Fino’s techniques really work, they’re welcome to ask his very appreciative wife. You can follow Rocky on his facebook page: Will Cook for Sex and on twitter: @willcookforsex and you can find out more about Rocky on his website, www.willcookforsex.com.
Our recipe is courtesy of @GourmetGuyMag, Louis S. Luzzo, Sr.
Pesto Stuffed Pork Loin
“This recipe combines two of my favorite ingredients, Pork & Pesto and includes a special cheese called Brie Stuffed With Cheese; a combination of Brie, Stilton or Bleu and Triple cream. (I agree. we could just enjoy the cheese and leave it at that, but trust me this recipe will make you happy.)” ~Lou
1 3-5 lb. pork loin
1/2 cup pesto stuffing
3/4 cup arugula leaves
3/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ (see NOTE)
1/4 cup pine nuts, whole
4 large cloves garlic, minced (reserve 1 tbls)
Place arugula and basil leaves into a food processor. Add the pine nuts and garlic. Slowly add olive oil until paste begins to form. Next take the ‘cheese’ and crumble into the mixture. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
The Spice Rub
1 tbls minced garlic – Use a Chef knife
1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground – Use a good Spice Grinder
3/4 tsp red pepper flakes, less if you don’t like heat
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp thyme, freshly ground
1/4 tsp cumin, freshly ground
Salt to taste
Place all ingredients into a spice grinder (I use whole fresh thyme, cumin pods, & peppercorns) and blend until all spices are powder. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees unless you are grilling, then preheat grill to medium-high heat.
Butterfly pork loin until ¾ of an inch thick. A 6″ Utility knife works great for this. Next, using the flat side of a kitchen mallet, pound until ½ inch thick. Using a spatula, spread the pesto mixture over the pork loin. Roll up the loin and use a skewer or chef’s twine to keep tightly closed. Take the spice mixture and rub the entire loin, making sure to coat the ends as well. (Reserve the extra rub for the sauce.)
Add 2 tbls olive oil to a large saute pan and place on medium-high heat. Sear the loin on all sides till golden brown. Once all sides are nicely seared, place the roast on a rack inside a roasting pan with sides. Set aside saute pan without removing fond. Place roast on center rack of the oven and cook for 45 minutes, making sure to periodically check for doneness after 30 minutes. While loin is cooking, add 2 tbls of balsamic vinegar and the extra rub mixture into the saute pan, making sure to scrape up all the fond. Thin with vegetable or chicken broth and cook on medium-high heat until it reduces to a roux-like consistency. Remove from heat and set aside until pork is done.
Place the loin on a cutting board and let rest. Using a serrated knife, cut a few ½ inch medallions leaving the rest of the loin whole. Place on plate with medallions fanned out in front. Quickly reheat sauce. Fan out arugula and or basil leaves putting a small spoonful of sauce at their base. Serve.
NOTE: The cheese used in this recipe is called ‘Brie stuffed with cheese.’ If you cannot find this at the local store where you buy your cheese, it’s easy to make your own. Simply combine Brie, any blued veined cheese and a triple cream. WOW, you will not be disappointed. You can probably find a blue veined Brie more easily, so just add the triple cream. Enjoy!
Til next time,