Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pastrami Sandwich And How To

Remember the pastrami I smoked the other day with the meatloaf, here are shots of the finished product.

And in case there is one person out there unsure of what to do with it, here’s what I did.

Good rye bread, homemade pastrami, Guggisburg Baby Swiss, spicy brown mustard and a kosher dill – doesn’t get much better than this. Oh, I’m sure I could get better at Katz’s Deli in NYC, but doubt I can in East Tennessee and sure I can’t in Greenback. I make them this way without the onion.

Pastrami is nothing more than corned beef that has been coated with a dry rub, which nearly always includes coriander and black pepper, then smoked. If you like pastrami at home, but your only source is the grocery deli, you really should consider making your own. Buy yourself a corned beef brisket, and soak it for a couple of days with 2-3 water changes. The corned beef is heavily salt laden, which is not a problem when cooked in a pot, as it gets boiled out, and flavors the veggies cooked in the same pot.

You can go on line and search out a rub that appeals to you and blend up a batch (don’t include any salt regardless of the recipe). When the meat comes out of the soaking, rinse it off, apply a heavy coat of rub, wrap in plastic and stick in the frig overnight (this is my process but it can be applied and immediately put on the smoker). Here is a basic rub to try and there are many more available (use just the cooking rub) LINK.

I’ve posted this before, but if you have a grill (gas or charcoal), you likely have a smoker. You just must be able to have fire on one side and not on the other. This is an anti BBQ purest statement, but since the process takes several hours (mine took nine) a gas grill is easier – a charcoal grill requires a lot of fire management, but will likely make a little better product. The gas or charcoal provides the heat on one side of the grill and the meat is cooked on the other side. For a gas grill, smoke is generated buy putting soaked wood chips in foil pouches, with a few holes in the top, and laying them just above the fire – my grill has flavorizer bars where they can be placed. For a charcoal grill, dry wood chunks or foil pouches can be tossed atop the charcoal. Try to find you some charcoal without fillers and they usually say “all natural”. You can use lump or briquettes, but I would not use standard blue bag Kingsford or similar types. The all natural can be added to your grill without pre-burning as it doesn’t have all the junk in it that must be burned off before using. Around here, Stubb’s can be found at Lowe’s and will likely provide all the smoke you’ll need.

The grill temperature should be maintained between 225* and 250* and the meat smoked to an internal temp of 165*-170*. It’s best if you have a couple of external probe thermometers. Put the first one in the center of the thickest part of the meat. Stick the other one through an old wine cork (or something else) and lay it on the grate near the meat – make sure the probe tip isn’t touching anything. This way you’re controlling temp to the same one the meat is seeing verses the dome of the grill, which will be different. Be careful with the probe cables as the grill lid can cut them. If your gas grill has a vent slot all along the upper back, wad up some foil and close off all but a few inches on the meat end to force the heat and smoke in that direction. Only open the cover to add more wood every couple of hours.

Cooked to a 165* internal, the meat is great to eat but needs to be sliced thin, as it is still a little tough (tender brisket is cooked to around 200*). What the big time NYC deli’s do is steam the smoked pastrami for an hour or so and slice it hot for their sandwiches - which is what I did for the above sandwich.

It probably goes without saying, that this procedure turns your grill into a smoker for other meats as well. I smoked a pork butt and a beer can chicken on my cousins gas grill last summer to demonstrate for them and both turned out great. You can also run at higher temps (275* range) to speed up the process and can go to the 300*-325* range to achieve crispier skin on chicken. You will probably want to rotate your food 180 degrees (so each side faces the fire) a few times to ensure even cooking. Or if you have a larger 5 burner grill, you can run the two outside burners with the meat in the center. Keep in mind that a smoker, or grill set up as one, is just a convection oven with a little smokier atmosphere - consider the possibilities. If you decide to give it a try and need more info, feel free to contact me directly - it's easier than you probably think.

Give it a try and you won’t have to hope a good BBQ joint or deli opens in your area, just make your own.

I spent the afternoon yesterday doing something that's just barely more fun than hitting yourself in the head with a hammer - working on my taxes - could almost make me dislike spring. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Plus Seven Days

I took a few pictures on the first day of spring, but there was very liitle to shoot. I have included a grouping of daffodills and our plum tree. The first shot of each plant was taken March 20, the next shot on the 23rd, and the others on the 27th.

A little swelling of the buds.

Buds swelling and about to pop open.

I hope these blooms all become plums as it will be the first crop.

Lots of things are about to get colorful over the next few days and some of the signs of spring are heard rather than seen. When I went out to get the paper this morning at first light, a male wild turkey was performing his mating gobble in the woods across the road - we have lots of them in the area.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for how to smoke a pastrami (and other meat on your grill) on you grill.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Bacon Cheddar Meatloaf Ala Katherine

After two months and eight days the stars have finally aligned themselves such that we could cook the meatloaf that Katherine (Smoky Mountain Cafe) posted the recipe for on January 20. Since I wanted to cook it in the smoker rather than the oven and didn’t want to fire up the smoker just for it, I had to wait until yesterday – and I’ve been counting the days. For some reason, it was hard to get the schedules for the smoker and Bev coordinated.

In addition to the meatloaf, I’m smoked a couple of pastrami’s. I’ve always corned my own brisket for these, but since the markets had theirs on sale for St Paddy’s day, I decided to give it a try with them. I soaked them in water for a day and a half to get out some of the salt then, coated them with my rub.

I smoked them fat side down at 235* to an internal temp of 165* and here’s one just out of the smoker.

I’ll cut them into smaller pieces to freeze then and steam them for an hour or so prior to slicing for sandwiches.

Meanwhile back to the meatloaf. Bev (the resident meatloaf maker) made it per the recipe with the only deviations being red peppers, cheddar cheese that has a little bit of a bleu cheese flavor to it and regular bread crumbs with some Italian spices (all cause that’s what we had on hand). I’m on a campaign to clear out the freezer and the pantry. Here it is ready for the smoker – it was very delicate to handle at this point, but already looks good.

I cooked it at 250* to give it time in the smoker to absorb some smoke flavor. It took 2 hours to reach a 160* internal temp and looked like this – had a little grease on the pan.

It got a little too smoky but that was part of my plan since Bev keeps complaining that my BBQ is not smoky enough – but this was and she liked it. I may have to start setting a bottle of liquid smoke beside the BBQ sauce for her to add a little to hers before she eats it.

We sided it with some steamed sugar snap peas, a nice salad with fresh made 1000 Island dressing, and Bev made a tomato gravy for the meatloaf using this recipe.
· 2 tablespoons margarine or olive oil
· 2 tablespoons flour
· 1 teaspoon sugar or honey
· 1/2 teaspoon salt
· 1/4 teaspoon pepper (scant)
· 15-ounce can tomatoes
· 1/2 cup milk or evaporated milk

I didn’t use it as I didn’t think it was very tasty and the meatloaf was way too good to be ruined by it.

Here’s my plate.

I thought the meatloaf was delicious and liked my entire meal.

I’m not a huge sports fan but do like to follow basketball and football at my alma mater, WVU, and my adopted team, Tennessee. I’m a fan of both the women’s and men’s basketball teams at UT. While all of them had good years, both UT teams exited the NCAA tournament this weekend, leaving only the WVU boys still in it - the fans are happy in Almost Heaven.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chicken Piccata ala Kate

Lemon butter sauce is one of our favorites especially with the addition of garlic and/or capers. So when Kate over at A Spoonful Of Thyme posted her recipe for chicken piccata, it was one we had to try.

I followed the recipe as written, except tossed in some mushrooms that needed to be used and I only had half a lemon for slices. We like brussel sprouts, steamed then tossed in lemon-butter-garlic sauce and I decide this sauce was close enough so we used it. We also decided to have a starch and selected orzo, but wanted a sauce for it, so I just made double the amount of sauce. I ended up using the sauce for everything and while this may not be something we would normally do, it gave us the opportunity to evaluate the sauce three different ways.

I began by boiling the pasta water and then steaming the sprouts and then cooked the chicken and mushrooms per the recipe and set them separately in the toaster oven to stay warm. I tried to time it so the sprout steaming and orzo would be done at the same time. I then doubled the sauce amount in the pan, and sautéed the sprouts briefly in the sauce, then added back the mushrooms and chicken for a couple of minutes and plated everything adding sauce atop the chicken and orzo.

When I make this again, the only thing I’ll change is not doubling the lemon amount as the sauce was a little too tart on the orzo. Thanks Kate for a delicious meal.

By the way, I had a little Asiago Cheese Grits left over from supper Friday night and topped with a fried egg, it made for a dandy Saturday morning breakfast.

One of the bad things about winter is the weather is cold and dreary and one of the good things is that grass won’t grow in those conditions – this is the mow every three days time of year for me. Have a great one and thanks for stopping by.

GO MOUNTAINEERS - It's WVU to the final four for the first time in 50 years and only the second time ever.


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wings & Grits – Quick But Delicious

If you read yesterdays post you know I smoked some wings for later use. Last night’s meal was wings and grits. Let me first talk about the wings. I only smoke them to an internal temperature of 160* so they can be cooked again to crisp the skin and still be moist. For this meal, we took them out of the frig, deep fried them in 375* oil for about 4 minutes and they were perfect. I was using extra large wings so regular ones would require less time. After cooking we used Anchor Bar (inventor of Buffalo wings) wing sauce in two different ways.

Here’s a couple shots of the cooking process.

For a side, we had Asiago Cheese Grits per the recipe from Steph over at Plain Chicken and I thought they were outstanding – flavor packed. I made a double recipe so I’d have some to set up in a pan to slice and fry for breakfast, but after I had my fill there was very little left over – these are definitely not you basic cheese grits.

I tossed my wings in the sauce but Bev didn’t want that much on hers and here’s her plate – she likes to put things on top of things ala the real chefs.

I’m more basic with just two items.

What a great simple meal and thanks Steph for the grits recipe.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Friday, March 26, 2010

A Little Lions Club BBQ

Last year, I was asked if I could support a local Lions Club with a fundraiser to raise money to buy glasses for those in need, and I ask how I could help? They said they were going to sell BBQ dinners but they needed a donation to rent a building in which to have it. I said I could help but then asked where they were getting their BBQ, to which he replied that he and a couple of other members had big crock pots to make it in. I think he said some other words, but I’d quit listening when he used the words barbecue and crock pot in the same sentence.

Let me get on my soapbox for a few sentences. If you’ve been around this blog for at least a month, you probably know I’m a BBQ’er, and I’m somewhat of a purest about it, which for me means, BBQ is meat cooked low and slow over indirect heat with the heat provided by wood or charcoal and everything else isn’t BBQ – like I said I’m a purest but I realize some good que is made in electric and gas smokers – but not ovens or crockpots. I admit that a pork butt cooked in a crock pot and topped with BBQ sauce or a slab of ribs cooked in the oven can be very good eats - I just wouldn't call them BBQ (my opinion again).:) So, he and I discussed it a little more and we decided I’d provide the BBQ rather than the building and all the feedback says it was a hit.

The above two paragraphs were written with tongue in cheek and intended to be humorous. Bad thing about the internet is you couldn't see my grin as I wrote it.

So when they called to see if I’d be interested again this year, I said of course and the very next week the local stores put there chicken and pork butts on sale – a good omen. The Lions like to furnish big sandwiches, so I only figured three per pound of meat and for the tickets they sold, it works out to about 44 pounds of raw pork and 16 pound of raw chicken, which really isn’t a large amount. I smoked the pork one day and the chicken the next. I like to “doctor” the meat after pulling with a few goodies so I pulled it myself.

I made sure I collected all of the meat juices and defatted them. After mixing the juice back in with the meat, for the first time I made no other adjustments (ie – dry rub, BBQ sauce, salt) - it was delicious as is.

This is the first butt off and we ate part of it for supper. Click on these shots to blow them up and I’ll bet they make you hungry.

This is the part we pulled right off the butt to eat for dinner – when it’s at it’s absolute best.

This is one of the two pans of pulled pork.

Here are pics of the chicken to be pulled and the wings. I used Texas Rib Rangers rub on the chicken and cooked the wings plain since they will get wing sauce later – I salted them when I took them off (forgot beforehand).

Nice grill marks huh. Now that they are smokey, we'll either grill or deep fry them to crisp up the skin, then toss in wing sauce.

Back to dinner, this is Bev’s plate – she’s a slaw on top person.

As you can see I’m a slaw on the side person although I can eat it both ways. We topped it with some Blues Hog BBQ Sauce – I usually don’t use that much sauce but I hadn’t had the opportunity to do my post-pull doctoring of the meat.

This sure is a winner for me as it provides an opportunity to give back to the community and do something I really enjoy in the process.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Southwestern Steak And Salad

Bev and I have come to the realization that it’s time to knock off some pounds and one of her solutions is to eat grilled meat and salad for many dinners. Since I like to grill, this seems like a great plan to me – I may have to occasionally post one of my lighter meals, such as today’s lunch salad with a little tuna on it, to show you I’m doing it :).

Bev had a recipe for a southwestern (SW) salad she wanted to try and we had a nice sized sirloin steak in the freezer, so SW night it was. I’m a fan of Bobby Flay’s cooking, because he cook’s a lot of things I like and I’ve tried enough of his recipes to trust them. So this turned out to be a Food Network meal, as the salad recipe also came from there.

For the meat, I trimmed it up, hit it with the Jicard on both sides, and marinated it for about 3 hours. Here’s the recipe for Bobby’s Chimichurri Marinade (I just mixed it by hand) and the Dried Chili-Mustard Sauce, which we also used.

Chimichurri Marinade:
· 6 cloves garlic
· 3 fresh bay leaves
· 2 jalapeno peppers, coarsely chopped
· 1 tablespoon kosher salt
· 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
· 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
· 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
· 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
· 1/4 cup finely chopped oregano leaves
· 3/4 cup olive oil
· Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.

Dried Chile -Mustard Sauce:
· 2 cups Dijon mustard
· 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
· 3 tablespoons ancho chile powder
· 3 tablespoons warm water
· Place all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

Here's the steak on the grill.

I really liked the steak flavor and would use the marinade again. I was unsure if I’d like the sauce as it was pretty powerful, but it was perfect on the meat with the mustard tasting a little like horseradish. I’ll use it for beef again. Bobby said on his show the other day that he likes lots of flavor and this meal sure had it, but the beef flavor still came thru.

For the salad, Bev used the following Jamie Deen recipe, but decided the dressing needed something, and after the addition of a drained small can of Rotel, it was delicious.

Southwestern Avocado And Black Bean Salad

· 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
· 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
· 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
· 2 or 3 dashes hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)
· 4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
· 2 avocados, peeled and diced
· 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
· 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
· 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
· About 3/4 cup (3-ounces) grated pepper jack cheese
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the cilantro, oil, lime juice and hot sauce.
In a large serving bowl, add the lettuce, avocado, corn, beans, tomatoes, and cheese. Add the dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Here are some shots of the salad.

Sorry this ones a little blurry.

Bev loves to have grilled meat on salad and had hers this way with a little of the steak sauce drizzled around the plate.

I preferred mine as a chunk of meat with the salad on the side and the sauce in a small ramekin.

While this wasn’t serious diet food, it was healthier than many meals we eat and I would definitely have both the meat and the salad again.

Yesterday was BBQ day (more to come) and it was a perfect day for it. We opened up the house and enjoyed the cool breeze and not having to burn $3/gal propane.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Irish Leftovers For Breakfast

(If you haven't, please check out the link for new info on our blogger get together)

After two Irish meals last week, we had a few leftovers and as you might expect, we turned them into breakfast - we had a banger and some colcannon to work with. Bev mixed an egg and some flour into the colcannon to help it hold together, formed them into patties and fried in butter and olive oil until they were brown and crispy. I chopped up the banger (really a brat) and heated it in the micowave while I fried the eggs – mine sunny side up and Bev’s over easy.

Here are pics of the assembly process.

It was delicious and I was surprised that the cabbage flavor didn’t come through stronger – although they did taste different than just potatoes. And perhaps the best part is that the corned beef is still in the frig.

Have a great day – the sun’s shinning brightly today.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Stuffed Shrimp Ala Mary

(If you haven't, please check out yesterday's post for new info on our blogger get together)

Over the years, we’ve pretty much fell into a habit of eating the same foods the same way. For example shrimp were pretty much always breaded and deep fried. But thanks to all of the great ideas from the blogs I read, we are expanding our horizons.

The other day Mary over at Deep South Dish posted a recipe for stuffed shrimp and it just so happens we had shrimp in the freezer and I had bought some crab to make into crab cakes – so stuffed shrimp it was. I followed her recipe except I used Townhouse crackers and we laid a piece of bacon on a few of them for a test. I’m not sure I could tell the bacon had much of an impact. Mary's site has a good description and pic's of the process. Depending on your oven and how done you like your shrimp, you may need to adjust the cooking time a little - Bev likes her's cooked more than me so they required more time.

We thought the shrimp were delicious and we served them with some of Mary’s Mississippi Comeback sauce. Thanks Mary for a delicious meal.

For a side dish, it was Rice a Roni dish that was quite tasty. She used the boxed mix and added a 16 oz bag of thawed broccoli and some grated parmesan to it – a 10 oz box of broccoli might have been better.

Here's my plate

Don't hesitate to make extra shrimps as I just had the leftovers reheated in the micowave for lunch and they are still real tasty.

Thanks bloggers for all the great recipes. Have a great day.