Thursday, December 1, 2016

Lobster Eggs Benedict

When we were in Smithfield, VA, we had breakfast at the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery and Cafe. One of the items on the menu was Lobster Eggs Benedict and of course, almost everyone in our party opted for that dish. It was a split biscuit topped with ham, eggs fried over easy, Hollandaise sauce and of course, lobster. 

Lobster Eggs Benedict as served at the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery and Cafe in Smithfield VA.


 As I was eating it, I told myself I would be making it at home and staying true to my word, here it is.

Smithfield ham, breakfast menu ideas, and brunch ideas


I'm sure that you guessed we made this on our grills instead of inside.  You were right.  Here's what we did.

Big Green Egg biscuits
First we started with Alexis making pan style buttermilk biscuits.  She did that on one of our ceramic kamado grills set up with an Adjustable Rig but you could also use any type of indirect set up for the kamado grill, such as a plate setter or heat deflector.  It is best to bake them high up in the kamado so you take advantage of the heat reflecting down.
Look how moist and flaky these biscuits turn out.  I love them this way instead of the typical round biscuits.

Next I made a Hollandaise sauce.  I beat about 5 egg yolks and a splash of cold water until frothy. I put that over a double broiler and whisked in clarified butter until doubled in volume. Then I seasoned it with lemon juice, cayenne, and a bit of salt.  Use a thermos or double insulated mug to keep your Hollandaise warm. That way you don't have to worry about splitting it when heating it back up.


How to bake eggs on a Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Grill Dome, or Kong
Next I baked 6 eggs in a muffin pan. I seasoned them with a little BBQ rub and salt. This was indirect on a ceramic kamado grill running 350°f.  I bake them until the egg whites are set, about 15 to 20 minutes.  

While the eggs baked, I prepped the lobster.  I just split open a thawed tail, removed the meat, and cut it into bite sized chunks.

lobster grilling tip
Tip:  Seafood proteins are wimps. They can't handle heat at all before they start to degrade, so always keep seafood as cold as possible until the last minute you use them.


I put the lobster bits in the muffin pan, poured warm clarified butter over them and put them back in the grill for just another few minutes. 

Because the butter was already warm, it only took a few minutes for the lobster to get done which is an internal temperature of 135°f.


kamado grill breakfast ideas.
Once everything is is cooked, it's just a matter of putting it all together.  Split the biscuit and top it with sliced ham, 2 eggs, lobster and the Hollandaise sauce.

As great as theirs was....I have to say mine was a wee bit better myself :)   Now I just want to try it using some of the leftover Charles Henry Gray country ham that we had for Thanksgiving. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Rotisserie Roast Beef Mini-Subs with Horseradish Beer Cheese Sauce

I'm pretty certain that this is my favorite time of year for sports because college football is about to hit the bowl season but more importantly, college basketball is going too.  Like millions of homes across the country, game day means firing up the grills in our back yard.

Speaking of teams, Nibble Me This is teaming up with Certfied Angus Beef for the next year.  I've always shared my enthusiasm for CAB but now it's official, I'm on their roster :)  What does this mean for the blog?  Not much really.  They are being very cool about the structure.  Instead of giving us specific recipes or topics that we have to create, they just want us to create using Certified Angus Beef and tell our thoughts about it in our own voice.  I've already been doing that so I said sign me up!  It's easy representing a brand that you already use and have grown to love.

So back to game day, boy yesterday was a big one in terms of rivalries. Some teams were playing for a national championship playoff slot and others playing for pride.  We had FSU vs Florida, Auburn vs Alabama, and Ohio State (#2) vs Michigan (#3) - what a great day of football. These mini-subs are perfect for days like that because you can eat them hot, fresh off the cutting board or you can pull the leftovers out for a quick bite late in the games when everything is on the line.

Rich mini subs with thin sliced roast beef are ideal for tailgate party Certified Angus Beef
The star of this team is a rotisserie roasted Certfied Angus Beef eye of round, sliced thin, and then topped with caramelized sweet onions and horseradish beer cheese sauce.

Rotisserie Roast Beef Mini-Subs with Horseradish Beer Cheese Sauce

Published 11/27/2016

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pound Certfied Angus Beef eye of round
  • 6 mini-sub rolls
For the Beef Rub
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosker salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper 
For the Horseradish Beer Cheese Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup beer 
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1 cup mild shredded cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons grated horseradish
  • salt to taste (about 3/4 teaspoon)
For the Onions
  • 2 sweet onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat your rotisserie grill to medium high heat, about 400°f.
  2. Mix together the dry rub ingredients.  Lightly rub the beef with 1 teaspoon of oil and season all over with the dry rub.  
  3. Spear the roast onto the rotisserie rod, secure using the tines, and let roast over indirect heat  with the lid closed until the roast hits 127-130°f for medium rare, a little over 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile make the cheese sauce.  In a medium pot over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour.  Stir contantly until they combine in a light roux.  Whisk in the beer in small amounts until it is all worked in and well blended.  Add the cheese in small batches, whisking until it melts.  Add the pepper and horseradish, taste for seasoning and adjust with salt as needed.
  5. Caramelize the onions.  Melt butter in a pan over medium low heat  Add the onions and stir occasionally until they turn soft and lightly browned.  Don't rush this, you should take at least 30 minutes to slowly build the complex flavors of caramelized onions.  
  6. Once the beef is done, remove from heat and let rest on a resting rack.
  7. Slice the beef thinly. Top the bun bottoms with the beef, onions, and drizzle with the cheese sauce.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 01 hrs. 15 mins.
Total time: 1 hrs. 35 mins.

Substitution Notes:

  • For the beer in the sauce, we used an American style light lager but you can use whatever you like. An amber or stout will give you a darker color and deeper flavor. 
  • The Aleppo pepper looks like red pepper flake but it is milder in heat and has a nice smoky flavor.  You can just use red pepper flake or any red ground chile (cayenne, chipotle, ancho). 
  • I used store bought prepared horseradish. If using fresh, back off on the amounts some unless you really like the sinus clearing sting.
  • If you don't feel like caramelizing the onions, you can always just top your sandwich with french fried onions from the store like my son opted to do.  



My typical rotisserie set up is like this, with coals banked around where the meat will be.  Of course, I light them first using a chimney starter or gas assist if the grill has it, and then move them into position. You can buy a "universal" rotisserie accessory for most grills for about $50.  For kamado grills you will need a specialized rotisserie kit.  

Beef eye of round, beef injection, how to inject beef
Completely Optional Step:  The eye of round is a pretty lean cut of beef, so I like to give it an injection to boost the flavor and moisture retention. I happened to have some brisket injection on hand so I used that.  But you can just mix 3/4 cup of beef stock, several tablespoons of unsalted butter, and a heavy splash of Worcestershire sauce over medium heat.  Then inject that after it cools slightly.

CAB beef, eye of round recipe
After seasoning the eye of round with the rub, I tie it to make the shape more uniform.  It's going to be thinner on one end anyway, but that's okay.  A real butcher would tie this with one string but I'm real slow at that so I cheated here.  It works! 

beef rotisserie
Rotisserie cooking is a type of dry heat cooking method that adds a great color to meats and forms a tasty crust.  If you don't have a rotisserie, you can do this over a regular grill.  Use a raised rack (higher than your regular grill grate) and turn the roast frequently, about every 5-7 minutes until done.

Always check the temperature of your certified angus beef roasts.
The roast should only rise about 5 degrees after you pull it off. I like to pull mine around 127°f but I was distracted and got it pulled at 131°f instead. 

Certified Angus Beef is the #bestbeef
You can use an electric slicer, especially if you refrigerate the roast before to get it firmer.  But we were eating this right off of the cutting board so I went manual with a 10" slicer knife.

Alexis said this is some of the best sliced roast beef that she's ever had.  Tender on the inside, flavor packed on the golden crust, it blows away anything you can buy in a deli.


The Horseradish Beer Cheese Sauce was pretty amazing too.  This would be good for dipping onion rings, or something like that, too.


The mini-subs are surprisingly big for being "mini".  They won't leave you hungry but you can still handle them with one hand, freeing the other hand up for a cold adult beverage or the remote (just in case your team is losing, ha ha).

Just in time for the holidays, check out the free Roast Perfect App from Certified Angus Beef for help in creating beef roasts like this and others.


It's an easy to use app for your smart phone that has tips, video, recipes, and tools to help you nail that perfect beef roast for the upcoming holiday feasts.  You can get it in Google Play and the iPhone App Store.  

Thanks again to Certified Angus Beef and the Sunday Supper Movement for partnering with Nibble Me This for the coming year! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Grilled Pumpkin with Cinnamon Whiskey Glaze

Cinnamon whiskey has been all the rage the past year or two.  So what can you do with cinnamon whiskey BESIDES make bad life decisions at 2 in the morning?  How about grilling pumpkin with this cinnamon whiskey glaze!?!



The glaze would also be phenomenal on cinnamon rolls or drizzled over pumpkin pie.  This is a recipe that I created for Char-Broil so you can find the full recipe there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Brown Sugar and Beer Brined Wings

College basketball is heating up and the bowl season for college football is going to be kicking off shortly.  These Brown Sugar and Beer Brined Wings give you something different from the usual buffalo style wings.  They are ideal for folks who want more sweet than heat in their game day wings.


I created these wings as part of my sponsorship package with Char-Broil and cooked them on my Char-Broil Kettleman grill. I've cooked on this specific grill for 2 years and it is still holding up to all of my abuse.  The Kettleman is inexpensive ($149), light in weight making it a great portable grill, and it has proven itself to me.  I have about 17 grills that make appearances on my deck but this is one that stays out there year round.


Here is the full recipe for Brown Sugar and Beer Brined Wings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Live From Smithfield Day 2

I was excited and woke up early on the second day of our trip to the Ham Capital of the World, Smithfield, Virginia, because that was the day for touring Smokehouse 3B.  That is the legendary place where all of the Genuine Smithfield Country hams are cured, aged, and smoked.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I could see it being an old school traditional place but I was also thinking it might be automated processes with a lot of stainless steel machinery.  

[Disclaimer]  Smithfield Foods paid for my travel expenses for this educational trip

Like I said, I woke up early like a kid on Christmas.  So I went for a walk around the Smithfield Inn, pictured here.

On my walk, I ran into George Washington.  Not the dollar bill George Washington.  This was George "I'm crossing the Delaware, you just messed up son" Washington.

When I turned around from George, I found this rock. Viral marketing from the stone age;) 

We walked down the street to the Smithfield Gourmet Bakery and Cafe for breakfast.

Lobster Eggs Benedict?  Shut your mouth and take my money!  Buttermilk biscuit topped with Genuine Smithfield Country Ham, eggs over easy, lobster and Hollandaise.  I made my own version and that post is coming up.
So....Smokehouse 3B - the place where all Genuine Smithfield hams are cured, aged, and smoked. This is what I came to see.

At first glance, it doesn't look like much.  Certainly doesn't look like it could hand almost 70,000 hams does it?  The first floor is where the hard wood fires are burned but the second and third floors hold some 19 "houses" and each of them can handle about 3,600 hams at full production.

The inside of the smokehouse was dark as if the air itself had become tinted from decades of hardwood smoke.

The man giving us the tour was Jorge Morales, Supervisor of Dry Cure.  I quickly formed the opinion that Jorge is a master craftsman, the equivalent of a Master Distiller.  He walks the above halls every day, every house, checking on the hams during their 6 month journeys. He checks things like temperature and humidity but he also says that he "just knows" - a sort of intuition.

As we walked, Jorge told us how the process has changed very little from the early days when Smithfield started in 1936.    

When the hams arrive, they are salted with the cure. Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

Today, pretty much the same cures are used.  Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

Except today they aren't stacked in the open air on pallets like "back in the day".  They are held in large bins and allowed to cure for 8 weeks. Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

The hams are then rinsed off, netted, and aged at around 4 weeks between 45 and 55°f. Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

Then the hams are aged between 3 weeks at 90°f and 4 weeks at 85°f depending on a few factors and Jorge's ham whispering.  Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

Finally the hams are smoked.  Then they are ready for packing.  Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

The irony....    Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

Once the hams go off, one from each batch is tested to make sure enough water was removed in the process.  Then a worker punches each ham with an awl and smells the awl to make sure the ham meets their high quality standards.  Yeah, I know!  I thought that was wild too. She tests every...single...one.  And her nose knows, if it's not right, she will reject a ham.  

Surely the packing process is automated, right?  Nope. A ham is handed to a guy with a stack of white paper and he wraps each ham up.  Then it's bagged and sewn up. Everything was hands on.  Photo Credit: Smithfield Foods

After that, we went to the Isle of Wight County Museum to learn more about this historic region.

  • The Europeans took their practice of salting hams and combined it with the Warascoyak tribe's method of smoking, creating the traditional cured/smoked ham that we enjoy today. 
  • In 1767 Mallory Todd started packing hams and sending to his family in the Caribbean. 
  • Although Todd started Smithfield's world wide reputation for quality hams, the town was still all about peanuts. That was until 1921 when a fire on the wharf took out the peanut warehouses.
  • In 1936, Joseph Luter established the Smithfield Packing Company.


These signs remind me of some sort of early South of the Border signs. 

The World's Largest Ham came from a 900lb hog.  The World's Oldest Cured Ham was actually carried around by P.D. Gwaltney as a prop as he went around promoting their hams.  He kept it insured for $5,000. 

World's Oldest Peanut.  This was carried around by P.D. Gwaltney Sr, who was known as the Peanut King.

Next we sauntered over to A Taste of Smithfield which is a charming half general store and half restaurant.

When we were told they used "a smoker out back", the BBQ pit geek in me had to go check it out.  It's a huge Lang reverse flow offset pit.
Came inside for a fun tasting menu.  I think the pork taco and country ham sweet potato biscuits were my favorites.
Next we went to Smithfield's Innovation Center where all of their research, development, and training take place.  They have a mock home kitchen (aka Granny's kitchen) and a full line from a commercial kitchen so they can accurately test their recipes in both real world environments.  They also have miniaturized versions of all of their processing equipment so they can test production changes with 50 lb batches instead of wasting 2,000 lbs each time. Pretty amazing place.


They also have a pig grill.  Cool, yeah?



We had a very frank conversation about designing meat products for various price points. Cheaper cuts of ham, turkey or anything can be made in 3-4 hours whereas a Genuine Smithfield Ham is going to take over 6 months to cure,  go from 20-23 pounds down to 16 pounds, and take 12 hours to smoke. The cost in man hours and loss to shrinkage are going to make a cured and naturally wood smoked ham worth significantly more.


Next it was time to break down half of a hog with Dr. Josh Shook, their on-staff meat scientist  Look at that money muscle (the bulge of muscle in the bottom left corner)!

Tuffy "The Professor" Stone also joined us to talk all things hog.  Tuffy is the owner of Q Barbecue (chain of BBQ restaurants), A Sharper Palate (gourmet catering company), pitmaster of Cool Smoke competition BBQ team, and he is a judge on BBQ Pitmasters.  Yeah, he's kind of a big deal.

Tuffy was dropping mad knowledge on us, including specifics about how many days "post harvest" he wants his ribs (14) and pork butts ("a little less") for BBQ competitions.  A week after this meeting, Tuffy would go on to win a third World Championship at the Jack Daniels Invitational.

As he was breaking down the hog, Dr. Shook told us that Smithfield takes measures to minimize wastes.  They use the entire animal except the skull and eyes.  

A "CT butt" or cellar trimmed butt is the top half of the pork butt. It's called that because processing houses utilized gravity systems to move pork around and by the time the butt got to the cellar, it was the most trimmed down.

The whole pork loin - a world of possibilities from crown roast to pork chops to tenderloins.

Finally for dinner we arrived at The Barn at Aberdeen, an amazing facility located right on the water.

My mother used to ask me, "Were you raised in a barn?".  After seeing The Barn, my answer would be "I wish that I was!"



First was happy hour with local cheeses and appetizers.

Next, Tuffy and Chef Colby discussed their whole hog cook and strategies used.  The winds were roaring off of the water at 25 knots, which any pitmaster knows can really screw with your cook.  Chef Colby wanted to let the pork shine, so he used straight salt on this 185lb dressed hog and then a mop of vinegar, black pepper, onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper.

Tuffy spoke about the difficulty of perfectly cooking a whole hog, rendering the hams and shoulders without drying the loins.  The weather conditions added more complexity. So how did they do?

Nailed it! 

After dinner I had a nice time talking with Dennis Pittman of Smithfield about their amazing Helping Hungry Homes initiative.  


Through this program, Smithfield has donated truckloads upon truckloads to communities and people in need.  Most recently they made donations to two of Operation BBQ Relief's deployments - Hammond LA and in North Carolina.  Turns out, his wife and my mom's family grew up in the same very small town in North Carolina.  He knows the pleasure of a Melvin's Burger from the original "pool room" in Elizabethtown. 

Day 2 Take Aways  (I could go on and on here but I will limit myself to two.)
  • I'm making changes to our pork and rib programs for competition BBQ based on what Tuffy told us in the Innovation Center.  
But the main take away was this unedited note from my scribblings at the end of the day.

  • Very surprised at the family feel of the company locations that we visited.  I expected the cold machine of a corporation but what I found in talking to people at the plants was doing right by others - worker safety, food safety, HACCP.  It echoes the company tag line of "good food - responsibly" and the CEO message of 'if you see it and walk by it, you are accepting it"
So I wasn't sure what to expect...but I walked away totally impressed with Smithfield and their people.

Next up is my take on the Lobster Eggs Benedict...