Tag Archives: Smoked Low and Slow

Hatching a Dinner Scheme :D

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:

Just a hair overdone today. They came out on the low end of Medium. Slow smoking them meant they were still moist and tender though

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. πŸ™‚ 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? πŸ˜€

…For A Hamburger Today.

Five points if you got where that half-quote comes from πŸ™‚

So here’s Silk’s latest culinary creation; a gourmet hamburger:

What makes it gourmet you ask?

1: Kobe Beef smoked and seasoned to perfection

2: Turkey Bacon – Also slow smoked

3: Homemade guacamole

4: Smoked Cheddar Cheese

5: Fresh Veggies

6: A Toasted Bun.

Super-Tasty and tonight we’re using the leftover Guac (vacuum packed to keep from turning brown) for Taco… Thursdays. O_o πŸ˜€

Texas and Asian Spare Ribs

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. πŸ˜‰

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. πŸ™‚

How About Another Round of Tri-Tip?

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.

Asian Fusion Smoked Whole Chicken

On a throne no less!

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:

the smell was heavenly

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). πŸ‘

Homemade Meatloaf

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.

THE RECIPE:

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.

Ingredients:

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 Work:

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.

Cooking:

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.

The leftovers will make fabulous sandwiches also.

Chipotle Chicken Nachos

I made these the day before yesterday. Slow posting, but I’m trying to make up for it now. πŸ™‚

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 sautΓ©ed 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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

Anniversary Dinner!

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. πŸ‘€πŸ±β€πŸ‘€

Yes one steak smothered with portabella mushrooms sauteed in butter and garlic also. πŸ‘ 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? πŸ€‘πŸ˜πŸŽ‚

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.

So that’s it… The honeymoon is over. πŸ‘€

The Art of the Brisket Sandwich & Judging BBQ

A belated ‘Meals Monday’ Post and it’s going to be a two for one! First there’s the brisket sandwiches.

OK, the plating isn’t as pretty as my usual pics, but I was in a hurry to eat. πŸ˜€ Can you blame me with the smoke ring showing on that overhanging meat?

So how does one create the prefect brisket sandwich? Fresh smoked brisket on a warm hot cross pretzel roll, add a tiny pit of mayo to the bottom and a little BBQ sauce on top of the meat; just enough to add a little flavor and moisture. Then top with smoked gouda cheese. πŸ™‚

Devour immediately.

Fun story here also. That is not MY brisket. We finally found a good BBQ place here. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard in Tennessee, but that’s a story for another time.

So we’re out driving along, running errands and we stop at a traffic light right next to this old gas station. Windows are up, and we still smell something heavenly. It was coming from the gas station, which had been converted into a little restaurant tailor made for Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. We just had to whip in there and check it out.

We’ve actually tried three different restaurants recommended on Triple D, and this was quite a bit better. The guy had two stick burners (some BBQ lingo for y’all) out back and was cranking out some amazing ribs, brisket, pulled pork, chicken and sausage. Well, the brisket was so good we bought an extra pound to take home. Hence the Sandwiches. πŸ™‚

What Makes Great BBQ?

Opinions vary there, but I’m going to give you a couple of competition judging standards. No, I’m not a competitor, but I’ve networked with several and a judge or two also. Personally, I’ve found the closer I get to these guidelines, the better the meat tastes too, so there you go.

A Smoke Ring:

It doesn’t matter what you’re cooking; ribs, brisket, chicken even turkey (which isn’t normally a competition item), you have to have a good smoke ring on the meat. This is the indication that the wood fire flavor has permeated the meat.

This IS my brisket. A 16 hour labor of love.

That red ring around the outside of the meat is the smoke ring. If you want to learn the science of what creates a smoke ring, there’s a great article at BarbequeBible.com. For everyone else, I’m just going to continue.

Bark!

Bark, quite simply, is a combination of a modest surface char AND surface seasonings darkening during cooking. A good bark will be on the crispy side and add texture to the meat. Getting a good bark is tricky, and all but impossible with a pellet smoker like I use. Sugar as part of the rub is a common way to get a “good” bark, as it readily darkens and hardens with the heat of the BBQ. NOT something I personally advocate.

Moisture

Rather obvious here, but you want any meat to be moist and tender. Not too dry.

Tensile Strength

I’m not sure what they proper judging term here is, but the idea is that the meat should stay together, not just fall apart. If ribs or brisket just fall apart, it means they were overcooked. Too tough: not cooked enough.

Perfect competition standard is that the meat should come apart with a light tug.

For ribs, that means the meat stays on the bone until bitten, or gently pulled upon. Then it should be tender when chewed.

Brisket has a bit more ornate standard, but Texans take their brisket seriously, LOL.

A slice of brisket should stay together if draped over a finger or held by two fingers at one end of the slice. If it can do that and is still tender to eat, you got a good one.

Similar ideas hold true with chicken or pulled pork. Chicken should stay on the bone, but come free easily when pulled, and pork shoulder roast should stay together until it’s pulled apart (hence the name pulled pork).

Flavor:

Another obvious one, but it merits a note. Ideally when smoking meat, you should be able to taste the smoke flavor, not just see the smoke ring. Some BBQ places use oak for example. Fairly common wood and easy to get ahold of. BUT it leaves very little flavor in the meat compared to something like hickory, mesquite or maple.

Maple is considered ideal for pork, as it adds a sweet smoky flavor to the meat.

There you have it though; a basic guideline to determine if you’re really getting top notch BBQ, or you’re missing out. πŸ˜‰

BBQ Time Again! Beef Tri-Tip!!!

In between all the chores, I did find time Monday to apply my tasty slow cooking techniques to some beef Tri-Tip from Costco. It’s just taken a couple days to get to blogging about it.

Half the time, I’ll use my dual grill method and slow smoke until the meat hits an internal temperature of 100 degrees, then put it on a hot charcoal grill to put a nice sear on the meat and get the IT to 135 degrees. This time, I didn’t feel like fussing with two grills. I slow smoked at 180 degrees for a little over an hour to get the meat to 100 degrees, then I just cranked up the heat on the pellet smoker. So, no grill marks, but it did turn out very tasty:

Perfect medium rare with great smoke flavor

And for those who are curious… Yes, just basic salt, pepper and garlic for a rub. That’s almost all I ever use. Good meat doesn’t need sugar and other fluff. πŸ™‚