Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pimp My Grill - Part 1 - Charmoula

As summer approaches, the grills begin to come out in force (unless you're like some of my friends who grill even if there are 3 foot snowbanks surrounding it).  I thought I'd share grill season favorites, as well as anything I end up creating myself.

For our first installment, I give you Charmoula (shar-moo-lah).  It's a popular North African vinaigrette/marinade that makes literally EVERYTHING you could possibly grill better by at least a factor of ten.  Lamb, pork, beef, poultry, fish, shrimp, veggies?  Yep.  There are a number of variations out there, so feel free to Google it and experiment with which one you like best.  I prefer using it as a sauce after the cooking is done, rather than using it as a marinade.  If I want to flavor the protein prior to cooking, I make a dry rub of cumin, coriander, paprika, black pepper, kosher salt, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper.  If it's lamb or beef I use it pretty liberally, poultry less so.  Fish and other seafood just get salt and pepper with a little EVOO, since it's a pretty strong vinaigrette and grilled seafood has an incredible flavor all its own.

So here it is - grill nirvana.


5 ea.  Limes (juiced)
5 ea.  Garlic cloves (minced)
2 ea.  Large Shallots (minced) - if small-med shallots, use 5
1 T.  Paprika (any kind - hot, sweet, smoked, whatever)
1 T.  Cumin (ground)
1 T.  Coriander (ground)
1 t.  Cayenne 
1 ea. Cilantro bunch (rough chop)
       Kosher salt to taste
1:1 EVOO/veg oil mix
  • Juice the limes into a medium mixing bowl.  I like the lime chunks, so I don't strain it.  Just watch out for seeds.
  • Add minced garlic and shallots and a couple pinches of salt.  I combine all this before I prep anything else to give the garlic and shallots time to macerate.
  • Add paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne, whisk together.  If possible, use whole cumin and coriander and grind it yourself in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle.  Pre-ground is alright, but not as fresh.
  • Add rough chopped cilantro, and whisk together.  
  • Drizzle in the EVOO/veg oil mix while whisking.  It won't emulsify, but it'll mix everything in nice.  Mix until you've got about a quart.  It'll be around three cups of oil.
  • Add salt to taste, and if you're using small or not very juicy limes, you might want to add one more.
If you can make it a day or so in advance, it'll be a lot better.  Also, I crank up the cayenne level, because I like a little heat in just about everything I eat.  I think anywhere up to a tablespoon would be appropriate before it starts to drown everything else out.  Keep it in a container and shake it up before serving.  Spoon liberally over everything you grill.  It lasts a long time if you refrigerate it, but for safety's sake, we'll say a week.

Stay tuned for further installments!

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good, but you should give those whole seeds a quick toast in a saute pan before you grind them up. Especially the cumin seeds. Toasted cumin and toasted fennel make me need new pants.