While at Cookbook Live in Montana, we were able to experience Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton’s incredible grill-focused cuisine. They started cooking together at Terra in Napa, a place that’s been on our list to visit. They then moved Hawaii, where they lived for several years before moving to Portland and opening their hugely successful restaurants, Ox and Superbite. In addition to being amazing chefs, they’re also fun to be around; we loved running into them around the resort throughout the weekend.
Greg and Gabrielle get their inspiration for their recipes and cooking from the changing ingredients available with the seasons, as well as the influence of Gabrielle’s Argentinian heritage. They love to use vegetables when they are in their peak seasons and frequently change up what’s cooking on their grill. Ox Restaurant has an open-fire parrilla, which is an Argentinian style grill with v-shaped grates. The shape of the grate allows them to capture all of the flavorful drippings, which they use to create what they call “liquid gold,” which they then use to marinate and season meats at Ox Restaurant. You can learn more about “liquid gold” and learn how you can make your own version at home in their book Around the Fire.
They have convinced us that you can and should be grilling all year long, even into the fall and winter. It’s totally understandable if you’re in feet of snow, that you may not want to make your way out to the grill–but you can bring the concepts inside and use a cast-iron pan or grill pan. We thought the weekend would be all about beef, but as it turns out, we grilled everything from salmon, salad, squash to pork chops with maple glazed carrots and duck. It was such an inspiration to try all of the things you can make on the grill! Greg said that one of his favorite cuts of meat is flank steak with chimichurri, but what’s great about these two is that they are so creative, and they make everything on the grill, making Ox Restaurant much more than your traditional steak house.
Greg and Gabrielle love cooking outside in the winter and using the grill to roasting squash and other winter vegetables. The trick to grilling vegetables is to blanch them first in boiling water to cook them part way, then toss them in olive oil and finish them on the grill. Their grilled butternut squash with Zatar was pre-baked in the oven first and then finished on the grill.
When grilling, meat, fish, or poultry, Greg and Gabrielle say it’s important to think about what goes along with it. You want to make sure there’s a balance and you don’t want every component of the meal to be smoky. Think about appetizers that are complimentary in flavor and texture, and consider cocktails.
While we were at it, we were wonder what these two cook up for Thanksgiving dinner. A deep fried turkey, tossed in buffalo sauce, served with blue cheese and celery sticks, along with all the traditional sides like stuffing and even canned cranberry sauce.
Clayton went up to Portland last year, but we’re thinking we’ll need to do a trip together soon to see the Denton’s in action at their open-fire parrilla, grill. We asked them where they like to eat out when they aren’t at Ox Restaurant or at home. Their favorites included Nostrana for Italian, Ataula for Spanish tapas, and Hat Yai for spicy Thai wings. We want’ wait to go visit their restaurant and check out their list of recommendations!