My food posts used to have quite a following. The weather here has been horrible though; more rain than I saw in 10 years back in California. Then the last two months has been house / moving / kitty drama.
I had a few food posts ready to go, but the pics disappeared (along with motivation). HOWEVER, I did manage to find my birthday dinner pics from… a while back. 😉
Yes, we started with spare ribs. My go to for MY day… for a few years now. No, they’re NOT undercooked either. THAT is insanely deep smoked flavor as they were cooked as low and slow as I possibly could. I think they took about 10 hours. Most quality rib joints only cook theirs for about 6 hours.
There was also some corn bread:
And some homemade mac and cheese:
The Panko breading on top didn’t brown too well unfortunately. Blame the cheeses.
My world famous, made from scratch guacamole (appetizer):
And salad and veggies also, but the pics seem to have disappeared… Well, all but one:
I’m LONG overdue for a food post here, and even this meal was a week ago this evening.
For those who have been following long enough, AND actually reading (RARE), you’ll recall that last weekend was my 2 year anniversary. Thankfully, it was SLIGHTLY less hectic than the actual day.
We had family over and I cooked a big meal for everyone. MOST of it turned out too.
First was homemade Tex-Mex guacamole with tortilla chips as an appetizer:
The main course was Ribeye steaks, slow smoked on the Rec-Tec and then reverse seared on the Weber charcoal grill:
There’s some (turkey) bacon on the top rack that was going to be chopped up and added to the steamed green beans but…
It’s hard to see from the pic, but some of the green beans were bad and turned brown while steaming. So, the beans went into the trash and the bacon got saved for later.
Luckily I had another vegetable in the works at the same time, a combination dish really. I took zucchini and yellow summer squash, sliced them into rounds, seasoned them with a little salt, pepper, garlic, oregano and rosemary, then topped them with Parmigiano Reggiano.
I’ve said it many times but it bears repeating; Parmigiano Reggiano is WORLDS better then plain old Parm cheese and Infinitely better than the gunk in the green can.
The basic recipe i found online just said to go with the cheese only but I knew a light bit of seasoning would help also. Once you throw the cheese on, just bake at 425 (or 218 degees C) until the cheese turns golden. Oh yes, cut the veggies 1/4 inch or .635 cm thickness. The summer squash turns out a little watery, but everybody loved both:
I also had some sliced baby potatoes for a carb:
Oh and if you’re wondering how those steaks turned out:
That’s as close to I got to a picture of a fully plated meal. It kept saying “Eat Me”, so I put down the phone and did. 😀
BUT… Then There was Dessert:
And this was a bear. The core of the dessert was individual sized, double chocolate mini bundt cakes. It took 3 tries to get cakes that would come out of the molds properly, and I had to thicken the batter almost to the point of being brownies:
BUT, we weren’t done there, nooooo. Next I took some Godiva chocolate, and melted it into a ganash, topped the cakes with Mayfield Cookies and Cream ice cream, and then drizzled the ganash all over them:
We ate good, and I think I’m turning my in-laws off the local restaurants with the quality of my cooking, lol.
I teased in a reply to my burger post that I would be doing NY Steak tonight. I did too! The equally fabulous side dish ends up SORT OF getting the headline though. For those who don’t know, I *love* Tex-Mex cooking. Three peppers in particular are my absolute favorites; Chipotle, Tomatillo and Hatch.
Hatch chilis are green chilis grown around the Hatch, New Mexico area. They can get as hot as Jalapenos, but typically are fairly mild. Great for when you have somebody who doesn’t like hot food, but can appreciate savory, OR you want to add some flavor to an otherwise delicate food.
Trying to tell Hatch that they’re not the chili capital is like trying to tell a Texan they didn’t invent BBQ by the way. LOL. More on the side dish in a minute. First lets take a look at that slow cooked New York Steak:
Slow smoked for almost 2 hours at 185 degrees (85 Celsius). You can see that delicious Hickory and Mesquite smoke ring in the first picture. Topped off with a little Sucklebusters 1836 seasoning rubbed in before cooking, and it’s nearly perfection.
Not an affiliate link BTW, just one of the companies I trust to do right by people and make a killer product. All their rubs and seasonings are good.
The show stealer turned out to be the baby Yukon Gold potatoes with hatch pepper seasoning though. Just something I found at Kroger. Fabulous flavor, and something I’ll try again. 🙂 Next time, I’ll try to do the Hatch seasoning myself and will hopefully have a recipe for you all.
Oh, and did I forget the Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Mousse for dessert? 😀
Yes, a 2 for 1 here. After trying the Korean Bulgogi recipe that’s been in my family for a good 40 years on chicken, I threatened to try it on pork as well. When I did spare ribs yesterday, I did just that. One one rack of ribs anyway. The other was old school Texas.
All that was missing was a little green onion added to the Asian ribs as garnish, and some sauce for the regular ribs, but that came later. 😉
The flavor was heavenly on both. I’ve seen a ton of complicated recipes to get ribs to turn out flavorful on a pellet smoker. Nothing beats plain old LOW and slow at 185 for 6 hours however. The only extra is a light basting with apple juice every 45 minutes or so to keep them moist. Results? Judge for yourself:
Magnificent smoke ring on both of them, and deep flavor. The Bulgogi ribs tasted like the best Chinese (well, Korean) restaurant food you’ve ever had. 🙂
OK so actually, Tri-Tip is sirloin, not round, LOL. I’m past due for another cooking post however, and I finally managed to find a tri-tip out here. That alone took an act of God. I had no idea when I moved that Tennessee was full of BBQ Philistines who didn’t know what Tri-Tip was, LOL.
These also came pre-marinated, which I didn’t care for, but it was a case of beggars can’t be choosers.
Meat Buying Tip: Do NOT buy the dry pre-seasoned meats from the local grocery store (or Costco). They use the old, nearly expired pieces to make those, and let the spices piled on them cover up that the meat is turning color. Pre-packaged marinade cuts of meat tend to be lower quality as well.
Anyhow, I managed to turn this one into a solid success:
Add in some side dishes and we had a great meal:
One problem with marinading meats shows in the slices above. It’s clearly tender, but the marinade blocked much of the smoke flavor from getting into the meat. The smoke ring is faint, and not very deep.
So let’s hop in the way-back machine and go back to the start though. 😁 I had talked last time I tried “beer can” chicken that I was going to do it again as soon as I got a normal sized porcelain ‘throne’, so that it would actually fit in the smoker. Well, the replacements came in a few days ago.
So, it was time to get busy! Since these chicken thrones make for virtually unlimited options in what you use to steam the inside of the chicken, I decided to do something really different. My uncle brought back a marinade recipe decades ago from Korea when he was in the Navy. Looking online, apparently it’s bulgogi, but it’s not anywhere as sickeningly sweet as the stuff I’ve tried from Costco and a few other places. So anyway… Yeah… Insert Hipster joke or meme here.
Being bulgogi, it’s intended for beef, but I branched out and tried it on chicken with great success (so long as you don’t over-marinate it). Here’s that recipe, in the quantities he used it for a couple of pounds of short ribs:
Korean Short Rib Marinade (bulgogi)
1/3 a cup of soy sauce
1/3 a cup of water
1/4 cup of white or yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 scallions (green onions), chopped
2 Tablespoons of sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 cloves of finely minced or pressed garlic
1/2 a teaspoon of pepper
A couple of quick notes here:
First, the original recipe also called for 1/4 a teaspoon of MSG. Given the bad rap that MSG has, I don’t use it though. I’ve also considered adding a tablespoon or two of freshly grated ginger, but haven’t tried it yet.
I’ve tried this on several cuts of beef such as tri-tip and tenderloin with great results. It works good with chicken also, but marinade times will vary. Beef you can do overnight and have great flavor when you cook. Chicken, you only want to do about an hour to and hour and a half per pound. I suspect it would work well on pork also IF it’s done for the same time as the chicken.
This is also one of those sauces that is best made the day before. It gives the flavors time to blend fully. That gives you the faint nutty flavor of the sesame seeds and the savoriness of the garlic and onion also. If you just throw it together and go, esp without thorough mixing, it’ll taste more like a cross between Teriyaki and Soy Sauce.
Lastly, Soy Sauce: I typically use low sodium soy sauce for food, BUT in the case of this marinade, I use regular soy sauce. The reason being that the marinade acts like a brine and tenderizes the meat. That’s primarily due to the salt in the soy sauce. Besides, with it being diluted with equal parts water, it’s not that strong.
Back to the Chicken!
So, I whipped up the marinade and put it and the chicken into a pot:
Because this was a nearly 4 pound chicken, and the pot wasn’t exactly a snug fit, I had to increase all the marinade recipe portions. I used a full 2 cups of soy sauce and water. I could have used less if I had broke the chicken down but then I couldn’t have put it on the throne. About 2/3 of a cup of the finished marinade went into the ‘throne’ also, instead of into the pot.
I let the chicken marinate 4 hours, then pulled it out of the pot and patted it dry with a paper towel. The next step was to rub some salt pepper and garlic into the skin. Given that I was doing an Asian dish, I added some sesame seeds also. With that, we were ready to go.
If I had been thinking, and had any on hand, I likely would have substituted Chinese five spice for the salt, pepper and garlic rub. I smoked it low and SLOW for two hours, which got the internal temperature to about 125 F. At that point, I turned the pellet smoker up to 350 F and cooked it for another 25 minutes to get the internal temperature to a proper 165 degrees F and crisp up the skin.
It turned out better than I’d hoped. Between the marinade, and the steaming from the throne, the chicken was so moist and tender it was unreal. Add some homemade white cheddar biscuits and mixed veggies on the side, and it was a fabulous meal:
And if you really want to see how moist that chicken turned out, check out this drumstick:
The color is due to a combination of the marinade and being smoked low and slow for two hours. It was properly cooked to 165 F internal temperature (as previously mentioned). 👍
I’m a day late posting it too, but I’ve been in a mood lately. None the less, here’s the homemade meatloaf that I cooked on the smoker last night. 😊
OK, a little greasy in that fresh off the smoker picture, and I used a pizza tray as opposed to a bread pan so that more smoke would permeate the meat. Here’s the plated final result:
The bread items were lunch leftovers brought home by my other half, so that saved me a little cooking, LOL. The red around the outer edge of the meat is not ketchup either; that’s the actual smoke flavor penetrating the meat.
That shot shows the smoke ring, such as it was, and how moist the meatloaf was. Unfortunately I forgot and put the A1 sauce on the surface early, and that kept the smoke from penetrating deeper.
First, credit where it’s due; my recipe is a modified version of “Not Your Momma’s Meatloaf” from the Traeger Grills website. Traeger actually has some fairly good recipes, BUT they don’t know how to use their own (junk) grills low and slow. Everything at least used to be 350 degrees. Might as well use an oven at that temperature. You won’t get any smoke flavor.
1 1/4 Lb of Ground Beef – not more than 20% fat content to avoid excessive grease
1 Lb of sausage of your choice, or another meat like pork or veal. I used Italian sausage last night.
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Cup of bread crumbs.
1 Cup of milk
1/4 Cup of diced Onion, ideally a mild variety.
2 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Sage
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
A-1 Steak Sauce or BBQ Sauce to be added later
Prep on this is pretty easy. First, mix together everything except the meats and the BBQ or A1 sauce in a bowl. After it’s all blended together nicely, add in the meat and thoroughly work everything together. Typically, this is hand work, but I’ve found my Kitchenaid stand mixer works fine and keeps my hands neater. Just allow a little extra time vs hand mixing.
At this point, I add the meatloaf to a bread pan to give it some shape. If you’re preparing this early, you can cover the pan and put it in the fridge at this point. It’ll maintain a better shape during cooking as an added bonus.
Prep is very quick if you’re organized and the meat is fresh or defrosted. It should only take about 15 minutes.
There are a couple of options here. First is to just put it in an oven at 350 degrees and cook it for about an hour. If you go this route, just put the steak sauce or BBQ sauce on the top before it goes in the oven.
Side Note: Steak or BBQ sauce gives the meatloaf a more robust flavor than Ketchup in my opinion.
Now, if you have a smoker of either sort (stick burner or pellet grill), get it to about 200 degrees F and put the meatloaf on a wire rack or a ventilated pizza tray like I used. It’ll take a little over 2 hours to cook this way, but the meatloaf will be even moister and have that delicious wood fire flavor. When you’re about 20 minutes till finish, baste on the steak sauce or BBQ sauce, and turn up the heat to 350 or so. That will put a nice reverse sear on the meat, and make sure that sauce is baked on.
Putting the sauce on sooner will block the smoke penetration, which is why you wait if slow cooking.
Pull the meatloaf off the heat when it hits an internal temperature of about 140 F, let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then serve.
I made these the day before yesterday. Slow posting, but I’m trying to make up for it now. 🙂
We bought some chicken breasts from the grocery store, and when we finally got a clear weather day, I brined them for eight hours, then I smoked them on the Rec-Tec.
There were actually five total, but one I cooked about 80% of the way to done, cut it up and then sautéed it in a store bought chipotle sauce. That finished the cooking and still left it tender.
After that, it was just a matter of assembling the nachos. I’m not going to do a recipe here. Nachos are easy; it’s just tortilla chips topped with meat, cheese and whatever else excites you. 🙂 If you can get them though, I would recommend Santitas brand tortilla chips:
They’re more affordable than the big name brands, and have great flavor. Less artificial ingredients too.
And the end result here:
M nachos had four Mexican cheese blend, tomatillo salsa (my fave!), sour cream and green onions along with the smoked and seasoned chicken. If only i had guacamole…
As an added note, since I’m tossing out recommendations… The chipotle sauce I used for the chicken was Wicked Tasty Taco brand. It came as a paste I had to add water too. This was one of those rare instances where I had good luck with a pre-made food item from the grocery store. Be warned though, if you like bland food, this does have a moderate amount of heat. It’s authentic chipotle flavor.
As always, no endorsements here either. I’m recommending brands here strictly because I used and like them. 🙂
One of the bad things about getting married on a holiday is that there’s nothing open to celebrate. Well, I’m as good a cook as most restaurants anyway, and my food handling practices are certainly far better than most. Ergo, the first anniversary dinner was grilled steaks, potatoes, corn and a salad:
I put some fresh grated parm on the corn to make (Italian?) street corn, lol. There were two salads also. Somebody just started eating theirs before I got this picture. 👀🐱👤
Yes one steak smothered with portabella mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic also. 👍 Mine was the plain one. Having Texas ancestry, I know good meat doesn’t need fancy toppings, and these were Prime grade Ribeyes. 😁
The color *might* look a little odd to some folks because I slow cooked them on the smoker and got a nice red smoke coloring all through them. Since we’re not allowed to have open fire grills at the apartments, I got the char marks via use of a HOT pan on the stove top. Here’s the steak cut open:
Tender and moist all the way through with great flavor.
Afterwards, we had a 1 year anniversary cake made to offset the wedding cake being screwed up. Why not? How often is our anniversary going to fall on the Fourth of July after all? 🤡😁🎂
Pink Champaign cake with buttercream icing and raspberry filling… How our wedding cake was SUPPOSED TO be. Cake courtesy of Nashville Sweets. I didn’t have the time or ability to whip up a cake with all the therapy stuff going on. Even if I did, I can’t decorate on that level by any means. 😊
For you vegetarians, here’s a closer look at the salad.
Beyond that, it was a quiet day. We did get to watch people shooting off fireworks in our honor from the comfort of our back porch though, LOL.