Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beef skewers with mushroom pilaf

It's fall here, and this means the weather has to get bad on weekends. It's still sunny and the 90'es over the week, but Saturday comes and it starts raining.
Now I'm really sorry that I came back from Maui.

It rained this Saturday, so the trails in the hills got all muddy, and we couldn't go for a hike. So as soon as the rain stopped, we went to San Rafael downtown, to have an espresso and to go for a walk afterwards.

The main street was closed to traffic, and there were crowds, music, and delicious smells. We parked a couple of blocks from the event, and went to see what it's all about. It was BBQ and Blues Festival. The blues musicians competed on two stages, set at the opposite ends of the area, and there was a large span in the middle where you could actually hear both bands at the same time. And between the stages, huge southern barbeque grills, barbeque carts and barbeque vagons were making grilled corn, sausages, chicken, pork, and beef roasts, and filling the area with dense, wonderful smelling smoke. We sampled a few, and ordered the one we liked the best, a tri-tip roast sandwich from Jake's BBQ.

Unfortunately, the piece we sampled was the last one of a batch, and it takes about an hour to slow-roast a tri-tip. We didn't mind the wait. We hung there, drunk wine and beer, watched people, talked to Jake, and inhaled the barbeque smell. The next tri-tip roast was ready just as I was getting tired of hearing two bands at once.

So we got our tender medium-rare tri-tip slices on a sandwich roll, with "medium-hot" sauce that I could barely eat without crying. And to reward us for waiting, Jake gave as a jar of his dry rub. He also shared his roasing technique: toss the tri-tip in the dry rub, sear it over direct heat on both sides, then move it over indirect, and roast slowly to 120-125 degrees for rare or 130-135 for medium, about 1 hour. Slice against the grain.

I used Jake's dry rub for these beef kabobs: cut beef sirloin into 1 in cubes, tossed them with the dry rub, let sit for about an hour (meanwhile prepared the pilaf and heated the gas grill to about 400F). Threaded the meat on skewers, brushed with light olive oil, grilled, turning three times, about 9 minutes.

Garnished with Farmers Market heirloom tomatoes (I am researching colors and textures for my next food styling class, so the tomatoes have to be of at least two varieties), and tiny rosemary sprigs. Served over mushroom pilaf, to celebrate the Fall.

Mushroom Rice Pilaf

serves 2

2 Tbsp light olive oil
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
8 medium white mushrooms, coarsly chopped
2 Tbsp dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1/2 cup frozen baby peas
1 cup Basmati rice
2 cups hot water
6 drops black truffle oil (optional)
salt, pepper

Heat the oil in a large deep pan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, sautee till the onion becomes transparent and starts to turn golden. Add the chopped mushrooms, frosen peas and dried porcini, add a little salt and pepper, turn up the heat to medium-high, stir until the liquid released by the mushrooms and peas evaporates. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the water, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

Add the (optional) truffle oil, adjust the seasoning, fluff the pilaf with a fork, and serve.

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