Friday Recipe Exchange: Smokin’

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Last week I found a nice, small pork roast on sale and decided it would be perfect to make a slow-cooker pulled pork. That reminded me that it would be a good idea to revisit JeffreyW’s smoking adventures with his backyard smoker. I’ve pulled a few recipes, but if you search for “smoker” on the blog, you’ll find a whole lot more of his mouth-watering pictures and recipes.

Let’s start with my slow-cooker Easy Pulled Pork, I posted two ways to make it here.

Next up, JeffreyW makes an assortment of goodies in his smoker:

Here is his recommendation for a smoker and some tasty Ribs.

Homemade Pastrami (click here) – serious mouth-watering photos.

Smoked Chicken (photos and recipe here).

My youngest brother also jumped on the Smoker band wagon and sent me photos of a great meal that included Smoked Macaroni and Cheese (link here). He didn’t include a recipe, but I think it’s safe to say, make your favorite Mac ‘n Cheese, place in an aluminum pan, cover and smoke it for about 45 minutes to an hour at 165-180 degrees.

Smoker people seem very passionate, so if you’ve got the bug, hit the comments and share your experiences and expertise. What delicious things do you have planned this weekend? Anyone getting the grill out yet?

Tonight’s featured recipe from JeffreyW:

Smoked Brisket

I thawed a beef brisket and was thinking corned beef but changed my mind.  I have a fresh made pastrami on hand so I decided on a straight smoked brisket.  The procedure is much the same as with making a pastrami except you are starting with a fresh beef beef brisket rather than a corned one.  I suppose you could use the same dry rub for both but I wasn’t sure how the juniper berries in the pastrami rub would taste so I went with a more traditional rub.  I was tossing various ingredients in and didn’t keep track of the amounts of each so I can’t do more than list them from memory:  Black pepper, kosher salt, onion powder, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, ancho powder, regular chili powder, fresh ground cumin, some powder out of a bottle of Goya “Adobe Seasoning” (it’s yellow – go figure), creole/Cajun seasoning, oregano, and probably a few more.

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I placed it on the top rack of my electric smoker, threaded the temp probe through the vent and into the thickest part, placed a drippings pan with an inch of apple cider under the meat, added the soaked hickory to the smoke chamber, closed the door and fired it up.  It’s been cold and snowy so I knew it would take a good while to get to the “done” temperature but I wasn’t thinking 23 hours.  That’s how long it spent in there before I pulled it.  The probe was registering 176 degrees.

I pulled the first drippings pan out because I think it was keeping the inside temperature in the smoker too low and replaced it with a dry pan after about 12 hours.  The quart of cider plus the drippings was reduced to what you see above.  If I could make it by the gallon I’m pretty sure I would be a millionaire in short order.  Awesome stuff.

That’s it for this week. No Bixby update, but he turns 10 months old this weekend, so I’ll put something together soon. Have a great weekend. – TaMara


Summertime and the Living Is Easy

DSC_8586 (1600x1060)Mrs J made her first banana cream pie.  She did good.  She bought some Jell-O brand pudding mix but decided to go from scratch using this recipe she found online.  We have a can of cream of tartar that is at least 30 years old.  It’s got the little oval tin lid that presses into the top.  All such items these days have a plastic top of some sort but this one is old school.DSC_8595 (1600x1060)I imagine we will still have the same can for longer yet.  I don’t think it goes bad if kept properly, at least this can is still good.DSC_8591 (1600x1060)Time for a kitteh!DSC00181 (1600x1060)Both the kitteh and the staffer have a “what’s that thing” look.DSC_8584 (1600x1060)Hamburgers are par for the course come grilling season and I’m not too old burn my share.  You can’t get that grilled taste unless you grill them.  We finished off the deviled eggs with the burgers this evening.  These are half mayo, half sour cream blended into the yolks and they are garnished with bacon bits, chopped chives, and paprika.DSC00190 (1600x1060)This little girl was found abandoned in a field.  She was staying close to a bag of kibble that was torn open and left with her.  So the owner was not a total bastard.DSC_8577 (1600x1060)I seasoned a rack of baby backs and wrapped them in foil and set them cooking in a 300 oven, figuring I would mow the yard while they braised in their own liquids, and finish them on the grill.  It was a good plan but they fell apart while I was trying to transfer them so I ended up just setting them on the warming rack with the top off the foil package and basting with sauce while the corn and squash grilled.

The squash got a marinade of lemon juice, chopped fresh thyme, garlic, white vinegar, and olive oil.  That worked great!  I’ve been experimenting with different seasonings for the sweet corn.  Old Bay works pretty well, but the Creole seasoning I used on these was perfect.DSC00137 (1600x1060)Moar kittehs!  This little boy was rescued from a kill shelter.  St Francis had a little extra room and took several off of death row.  The other kittehs in this post were in that same batch.DSC_8550 (1600x1060)I didn’t know where to put this pan of baked beans so I’ll just leave it here.

Ribs and Fries

DSC_7844 (1600x1060)With a nice spinach salad.  Haven’t broken the gas grill out yet, these spent a good while in the oven at 300 or so.  Five hours, or six, with a rub I had leftover from an earlier project and a squirt of BBQ sauce in the last hour.  Used up the last of my par cooked cut fries – I’ll need to put jumbo potatoes on the grocery list and prepare some more.  I hope the snow stays gone from my spud cutting bench.

Road Trip!

P1000185 [1600x1200]We ran out of their cured ham chunks that work so well in various soups so we organized a trip north to replenish.  It was a pleasant drive with good weather and not much traffic.  Not an arduous trek by any means, three hours there and back.P1000183 [1600x1200]There is another cooler rack behind the lady, and a row of freezers.  On down are sausage making supplies and another cooler full of odds and ends of lunch meats and bacon.P1000184 [1600x1200]They have a regular deli counter with cheeses and racks of chops and steaks much like you will see anywhere.  They do a huge business in bacon, they cure their own.  It’s for sale by the slab and half slab, sliced to order.  Good stuff!DSC_5074 [1600x1200]I brought back a rack of spare ribs and cooked them with a dry rub and a finish of BBQ sauce.  The onion rings were from their freezer section.  Not bad!  They have a fair selection of specialty frozen items but the rings were all we came home with today.  None of the local markets butcher meat these days, and I was stymied looking for beef fat to use in making my sausage.  I came home with a 15 pound chunk of high quality fat to mix in with the pork shoulders that I buy locally.  They are very lean these days with nearly all of the fat trimmed off.

Gadget Post – Electric Smoker

I’ve been wanting to get a smoker for a long time and finally pulled the trigger on this one.  I looked around for a while and decided on this model after surfing Amazon reviews.  Almost uniformly excellent reviews, most of them five star.  I can add my first impressions to that list:  It’s a keeper, well built from good materials and seems well thought out.  We fired it up, empty, with some of the included hickory chips to season it as per the directions.  It got hot and we saw smoke rising from the top vent, it seemed good to go.

This morning I placed some cherry wood into the smoke box and turned it on, then loaded two slabs of spare ribs when it reached temperature.  The slabs were a tad too long to fit easily so I cut them in two.  Four hours later they were done.

Pretty good eats!  The smoker did need some cleaning up.The racks and their hangers all come out for easy cleaning, as did the smoke box.  I was able to scrape the black splatter from the top fairly easily, and a scrub with a green nylon pad put a shine back on it.  The same scrub pad worked well on the interior, and I used a garden hose to flush everything afterwards.  It’ll never be shiny new again but I think I can keep it presentable with minor effort.  Mrs J is thawing a chicken for tomorrow.

Baby Back Ribs

The neighbor crew that put on the big Memorial Day picnic this year cooked some chicken that were rubbed with a dry rub brought up by a fellow from Alabama.  Secret recipe, he said.  I managed to get a sample of the rub and used some on these ribs today.  It’s pretty good, has paprika, onion and garlic powders, salt and various peppers.  I bet it has some food industry magic in it, some kind of grilled flavor additive, and probably some MSG.  I doubt I can replicate it.We had German potato salad with the ribs.  Pretty simple recipe, fry bacon, add diced onion (I used up a red onion) and cook until the onion is soft, then add apple cider vinegar, chicken broth, and a dollop of Dijon mustard.  Stir and bring to a simmer, add boiled potato chunks and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed.  I added Splenda to the dressing to sweeten it a bit.  Sweetening is optional for this dish.  These are garnished with chopped chives.  Green onion will work fine, too.I like to add onions and peppers to the beans, cook the veggies down in the bacon fat first, then mix them in with canned beans and add BBQ sauce, mustard, catsup, molasses and whatever else strikes your fancy.  Par fry the bacon and set it aside while the veggies sweat, then add the bacon back on the top of the beans for the oven – 350 for a half hour or so works Ok, you can cook them longer and they will dry more and thicken.

Mmm… BBQ’d Ribs

Nothing really interesting about this meal – the “St Louis style” ribs were bought precooked and sauced, I just heated them through.  Not really sure what St Louis style ribs are, exactly.  The sauce had a strong note of chili powder to it and wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.  The potato salad may be worth a note, it is dressed with a sour cream/mayo preparation with some of the dill that the cat was into this afternoon. I did chop up some of the candied bacon for it but could have saved it for something else, the dressings covered up the taste.  There is a little bit of minced Vidalia onion in there, too – left over from the gyros we had the other day.  It wanted some minced celery for the texture, it was a bad call to leave it out.  The sweet onion helped but there wasn’t enough.  I give it three stars out of five.