Tuesday, May 4, 2010

An Exercise in Excess

Whew! The piles of food have disappeared, the cases of drinks diminished, and our tiny abode is nearly back to its usual organized chaos. Don’t be fooled by the clean counter tops and uncluttered floor; behind every curtain, inside every drawer, and beneath the mattress lurk piles and piles of our belongings which we have, for whatever reason, decided are absolutely necessary to our survival during our three month stint in Madison.

But I digress. This particular tale begins 48 hours ago, with an epic shopping trip to Costco. We volunteered to host a company sponsored BBQ in the backyard of our hotel. Number of hungry consultants? Twenty(ish). Budget? Undefined. If you know anything about the consulting industry, you know that the good people that travel more than half their week work hard and play harder.  They are a fun bunch of people with discerning tastes and a hearty appetite for food and drink. I wasn’t about to serve frozen burgers with American cheese, oh no. In typical Emi fashion, with lots of input from my man, I may have gone a bit overboard in my menu planning. Ok, who am I kidding, WAY overboard.

Grilled Corn
Potato Planks
Grilled Zucchini and Red Peppers
Mashed Potatoes
Garlic Bread
Filet Mignon
Rib Eye
Baby Back Ribs with homemade BBQ sauce
Robin Hood Chicken
Chicken Sausage

Once all the party supplies made it to the room, which was an adventure in-of-itself, the fun part began. I attacked the ribs first, breaking them down into small enough pieces to jam into our tiny (toaster) oven. Then comes the marinade. I know it sounds crazy, but the trick is Dr. Pepper. The acidity of the soda tenderizes the meat while the sugar adds sweetness without becoming too sickly sweet. Cover the ribs with soda, and add a quarter cup of salt and a few dashes of chili powder, cover with foil and pop in the fridge overnight.

Next on the list is the Robin Hood Chicken, adapted from Grilling Magazine. The citrus in this recipe enhances the natural flavor the meat and helps get the skin crispy on the grill. My favorite spice by far is rosemary, and combine that with fresh oregano, parsley, some olive oil garlic and lime…mmmmm. I don’t think you can beat this rub in marinade.

The day of the big feast is a busy one. As Andrew can attest to, I am not a calm, cool, collected chef. My kitchen is awash in burned fingers, time crunch stress, and sometimes even a flying curse or two. In matter of a few hours, I have pulled together some semblance of order, and am ready to get everything on the grill. Now I am no grill master- the agreement was that I do the prep work and hand it off to a much more skilled griller than I. But as many agreements go, the terms seem to inexplicably change as the night wears on, and I found myself in charge of flipping, heat moderation, and perfecting the doneness of steak and chicken alike. Battling tear inducing smoke, waves of blistering heat and droves of hungry diners, I managed to do a pretty good job of feeding our guests. From the number of compliments it received, I think the ribs were the biggest hit, followed closely by the steaks, cause lets be real, who can pass up filet mignon?? All in all, I’d declare the night a success, although I hope it is a few weeks before I attempt another meal of this caliber. 

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