Smoked Pork Shoulder

This has a generous rub of ground coriander seeds, coarse black pepper, kosher salt, and garlic powder.  I made several slits all over the shoulder and inserted whole cloves of garlic – more than a dozen, you can see one there amid the pulled meat.  It spent the night in the smoker, set at a low temp, I doubt it made it to 200.  It sat on a rack over a pan of apple juice to help provide moisture, and I expect the reduced and defatted juices will make a delicious addition to the pork.  It has turned windy and cool and made cooking to a finish in the smoker too long a process to contemplate so I brought it in to the oven.  It hit 160 and I pulled it to cool.  I did take a sample, because.. smoked pork!  I used apple wood and cherry for the smoke.


We smoked a home made corned beef yesterday after rubbing on a generous helping of the proper spices, as you can see in the photo above.  That’s after firming up in the fridge overnight for easier slicing.  I suppose I should back up a little.  Pastrami is a smoked chunk of corned meat.  We went with a beef brisket but you can corn (preserve with salt) other meats as well.  Turkey seems to be a popular substitute for beef for making a pastrami, at least in the deli at the local grocery.

There are tons of recipes out there for corning briskets, I went with this one from Alton Brown.The 2 gallon plastic zip bag was a great idea, and Mrs J found a large, shallow, plastic container that held everything nicely.  We let it soak for a week, turning the brisket over daily to make sure the brine got to every part.  I spent several sessions looking for spice recipes for the rub and found too many to recount here.  I ended up going with three main ingredients:  Coarsely ground black pepper, ground coriander seeds, and juniper berries.  The juniper berries were the hardest to find locally but we ran across some in a co-op grocery not far from the Asian food store that we shop regularly.I tried to grind the juniper berries into the meat with the palm of my hand, not sure how better to do it, but the flavor came through.  I gave the berries a spin in the spice grinder first but most of them were still intact.  I used a mix of wood chips for the smoke flavor on this – hickory, apple, and cherry.  With the smoker set to 225 it took about 10 hours to get to 160 internally.  I then wrapped the brisket in several layers of aluminum foil and returned it to the smoker.  It made it to 172 before I decided to remove it due to oncoming rough weather.  (I had the smoker set up in our detached garage.)  One of the questions I researched was “at what temperature is it done”, and found some disagreement.  160 -165 seemed to be the minimum but there were several that said they liked to see it get higher than that.  One fellow said 190 was fine by him.  I figured I could always cook it more if mine wasn’t yet good to go but I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out.I have a decent counter top model slicer and it made short work of the slab.  We ended up with 4 pounds of sliced pastrami.  The uncooked brisket was 5 or 6 pounds, I forgot to make a note of it so I’m just guessing.

Making Chili Oil

I was reading through my usual blogs and news orgs this morning and got to Ezra Klein at the WaPo.  The usual wonky stuff, but he is a sorta foodie so he has links to recipes and such like.  A link I followed led to the food guy at the NT Times in a video on how to make hot pepper infused oil.  Piqued my interest because 1) I like chili oil and 2) chili oil is expensive.  I din’t have all the stuff on hand that he mentions in the video, but I did have the basic stuff.  I used some slices of ginger, and tossed in a few allspice berries, a few cloves, a sprinkle of coriander and cinnamon.  And the red pepper flakes, and the szechuan peppercorns.  Fun was had.

Warm the oil (I used peanut oil.) over a low flame, you don’t want it to get too hot or the peppers will burn.  230-240 degrees is about tops.  Conversely, too cool and the flavors won’t infuse.  Anyway, warm the oil and dump in the peppers and the other spices, then let the oil return to heat.  Shut off the burner and set the pot aside to let it steep.  Longer is better although you can use it right away.  Strain the solids and maybe filter the oil through cheesecloth.  I did but it isn’t required.

Have fun!

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Commander in Chef

President Obama gave an interview the other day and the conversation turned to Pakistan and…cooking.

Interviewer: ‘What can you cook?’  

President Obama:  ‘Oh, keema … dal … You name it, I can cook it….’

Sure, but can he make a mean Tortilla Soup?  How about authentic Pasta Sauces?

So, exactly what are Kheema and Dal?  Kheema can be thought of as an Indian Chili.  Ground meat is mixed with traditional Indian spices and other ingredients:  coriander, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne, tomatoes, onions.  Variations  include one or more of the following: yogurt, coconut milk,  peas, Serrano chilies.  Dals are dried legumes, such as lentils, peas or beans, seasoned in ways to compliment a main course.   Sometimes they are heavily spiced to be the main course.

A variety of recipes abound for both of these dishes, or head out to the nearest Indian restaurant to sample a broader array of taste treats.  I am no expert on any Indian dishes, but I may have to start testing some recipes, just in case I am suddenly inundated with requests. 

Now if you will excuse me I have to brush up on my Urdu poetry.