Monday, August 30, 2010

Aji Beef Taco Soup

Waste not, want not - this is one of those "use up the scraps" recipes. Nothing fancy at all, but functional and easy.

I used up
-the lean pieces of beef from the "chain of bull" that is trimmed from a beef tenderloin
-the last of my batch of taco seasoning
-the last of the tomatillos we had
-a bit of the Aji salsa that was too hot to eat by itself

The aji is a fiery mix of jalapenos, habanero, and green onion that were roasted and mixed with cilantro, lime juice, and S & P.

I can't imagine why it was so hot (ha!).

If you want to make this Aji, you can use this Aji recipe and add a habanero pepper. Or if you just want to go milder, skip the Aji altogether and just use a can of mild green chilies.

Aji Beef Taco Soup
Adapted from Crockpot Taco Soup #1

1 lb beef tenderloin, diced
1 medium onion, diced
5 ea tomatillo, husks removed and diced
2 ea green onion, green and white parts all chopped
3 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 cup beef stock
1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
1 can corn, not drained
1 can black beans, not drained
4 oz can sliced black olives
1/4 cup Aji salsa
1/4 cup cilantro

Toppings - more cilantro, green onion, shredded cheese, fried tortilla strips, and/or sour cream

Preheat a cast iron dutch oven on a 325f grill over direct heat. Brown the beef for about 5 minutes. Remove beef from dutch oven.

TIP: When sauteing on a grill, you don't have the precise heat control like a range top so keep a close eye on it and stir frequently to avoid burning.

Add the onion and tomatillo to the dutch oven, cooking for 5-8 minutes until softened.

Return the beef and all remaining ingredients except the cilantro to the dutch oven and mix together. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the dutch oven from the grill, stir in the cilantro, cover and let sit for another 10-15 minutes. Despite being off the grill, the cast iron will continue to cook the soup.

Garnish and serve.

This may have been an easy dish and one that used scraps but this is no slouch. There is an initial taste of sweet (not sure where that came from) with each bite but that quickly turns into a bit of heat on the back side. Since there were so many canned goods used, I honestly didn't expect to like this one as much as I did.

This is one where I don't think cooking this on the grill really ADDED anything to this dish, it would have been just as good done inside. But I still enjoyed cooking it outside.

So tell me, what are some of your favorite recipes for clearing out the fridge and using up scraps?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Addition to the Family

Some folks have mentioned that I never posted pictures of the renovated deck. That's because it didn't get it's finishing touch until Thursday.

Here's the old deck and I do mean old. The average life expectancy of a deck is 10-15 years. Ours was 22.

If you click on this link, you'll see a 10 second time lapse of the demolition and construction.

Here's the new deck, much larger as you can tell. It also fixed many structural problems from the old deck which was never built right in the first place.

I gained almost 3 more feet of width in my outdoor kitchen. And the cap on the side rails acts as counter space.

I moved the Big Green Egg back out there.

Looks good but it still needs a little....something. Ah! I know!

The final touch arrived Thursday.

Yes - we have TWO Big Green Eggs now!
Look at that virgin white interior!

The new one is Alexis' and it is going to be used primarily as a brick oven for baking, roasting, and such. The original Egg will continue to be my workhorse and get all of the messy barbecue work.

Gotta go, I have to get to work on staining and tiling the table.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Lomo al Trapo

Beef in a burned towel.

Sounds appetizing doesn't it? Okay, maybe not but it really turns out well and this is such a cool trick on the grill.

Lomo al trapo (literally "beef tenderloin in cloth") is a quite popular Colombian dish that I have been wanting to try since I read about it in Planet Barbecue! this spring. It uses "caveman cooking" which is cooking directly on the coals of a fire.

The first step is finding a suitable 16" square cloth to use. Keep in mind that this will be destroyed in the process. You want something linen like a tea towel or rolling cloth.

Wet the cloth, lightly wring it out, and lay it flat. Top it with 1/4 inch thick of coarse kosher salt. Yes, that will be a hell of a lot of salt, half a box or more. This and the cloth are going to be your protective barrier.

Now place your seasonings on to of the salt. I used fresh oregano but some of the videos and resources I reviewed also added garlic, cilantro, and black peppercorns.

Place a 12" piece of trimmed beef tenderloin at the center of one edge.

Roll the tenderloin up in the towel. Secure the ends with cooking twine and one or two places in the middle as well. The book showed doing this diagonally & tying the ends together but the other sources I looked at just rolled it up this way and it seemed easier.

Nothing I read told how hot to have your grill for this, just to use a bed of established coals. This would be quite easy just pouring a lit chimney of coals into a grill and spreading them out. End of story.

But the design of the Big Green Egg is to maximize efficiency, it doesn't burn all of the coal at once. So to get a full bed of coals, I only put a small amount of lump coal, barely up to the airholes on the fire box. I fired it up and brought the temp to 350f. I stirred the coals twice during the preheating to make sure all of them got lit so I had a somewhat even bed of coals.

Now it is as simple as placing the bundle directly on top of the coals for 9 minutes. It will start to smolder a bit, don't worry. Listen to your inner-caveman. Go draw stick figures of your successful hunt on your walls.

After 9 minutes, flip and let it go 8 more minutes. Don't be alarmed, it will be stiff and the towel will be burned.

Remove and let it cool off for 2 minutes.

Raichlen says you remove the towel and crack the salt crust off. For us, the salt and towel had fused into one protective coating that just all broke right off easily. The meat just lifted right out leaving the shell behind.

Then you just brush off any leftover bits of salt with a basting brush and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

I worried that the tenderloin had been overcooked to medium from the outer appearances, but it was cooked just to medium rare like we like it.

I was going to serve it with a fiery salsa from the book called Aji but it was too hot. Instead, I made a cream sauce by reducing a cup of heavy cream, 2 tbsp of the Aji, and 1/2 teaspoon of a mild ground red pepper and that was perfect! We served this with two Colombian side dishes from Erica at My Colombian Recipes, arroz con Coca-cola (yes, rice with Coke) and a spinach cake.

I admit I wasn't confident how this was going to turn out, but at 350f the 9 and 8 minute time frames were spot on. I wouldn't make it this way every time but it is definitely worthy of a special event or when you want to "wow" guests with this quirky presentation.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Guest Post at Grill Grrrl

Several of you asked about the fire roasted salsa verde that I used for the enchiladas last week.

Well hop on over to Grill Grrrl where I did a guest post for Robyn this week and that was the recipe that I adapted from Planet Barbecue!

Robyn's blog is a fun and informed grilling and bbq blog. I like how she breaks things down to make grilling easy and less stressful by doing things ahead. She also is on a mission to get women involved in grilling, doing local clinics in Florida and a lot of media spots. Give her blog a read, you'll be glad you did!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Giveaway Winner Announced!

This has been my favorite and most popular giveaway yet. But it is not surprising because Masterbuilt has sponsored an amazing prize - a 30" electric smoker!

Without further ado, the winner is......

OK....Youtube is still processing the video. The winner was #3, Jenn of Jenn's Food Journey.

Congratulations! I'll be emailing you for your information so Masterbuilt can ship you your brand new smoker!

Wait! Don't leave. I have some GREAT news for everyone else. You have another chance to win this smoker. That's right, this is a tandem giveaway! Larry of The BBQ Grail (inventor of the MOINK Ball) is also giving away a Masterbuilt 30" Electric Smoker on his blog starting this week.

What are you waiting for? Get over to The BBQ Grail and enter!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dino Bones Beef Ribs Tip

I love beef ribs.

I've posted about making "dino bones" from both beef short ribs and beef back ribs. My preference is barbecuing beef back ribs. For starters, they are cheaper, about $1 a rib. But more importantly, these ribs are cut from the ribeye / prime rib area. They literally put the "prime rib" in a prime rib. You cut it off and you have a ribeye steak. Yeah, it is steak on a stick, er...rib.

Here's the tip:
Since they are "steak on a stick", instead of brushing them with a barbecue sauce in the last 30 minutes, glaze them with steak sauce. I used the habanero steak sauce that I made recently but you could use A-1 or Heinz 57.

It's just a little different than BBQ sauce and the boys and their friends devoured these.
If you had to do these without a smoker, you could cook them at 250f indirect on a grill or in your oven for 90 minutes to 2 hours (until they bend easily when you hold them with tongs from one end). Then glaze them and then finish them on a medium hot grill over direct heat for a few minutes (I'm guessing 7-10 minutes on the bone side and 5 minutes on the meat side).

Smoke notes for BBQ enthusiasts (not written in English):
The Egg was set up for an indirect cook (plate setter legs up with a drip pan) at 250f. I was using Full Circle lump and Jack Daniels oak chips mixed in from top to bottom of the coal. Ribs had membrane removed. They were rubbed with Weber's Chicago Steak rub and smoked in a rib rack for about 2 hours. Once they were close on the bend test, I glazed them with steak sauce and let them go another 30 minutes until the sauce was cooked onto the ribs. I like using oak for beef and the JD chips do great for adding flavor, but it's so much easier bringing true smoke flavor using chunks vs. chips.

Tainted Egg Recall

When the billion plus egg recall hit this week due to a salmonella scare, I didn't even have to check my fridge because our eggs come from a local farm. So with my spare time I rewrote this tribute to eggs sung to the tune of Soft Cell's Tainted Love.

Sometimes I feel I've got to
Run away Cause the
tells me ‘bout the bad stuff you bring to me
The eggs I loved
full of nasty bugs
My eggs don’t taste right
For my stomach does not feel all right

Once yolks ran for me (they ran)
Now I'll run from you
These tainted eggs you've given
I give you all a cook could give you
Salmonella and that's not nearly all
Oh...tainted eggs
Tainted eggs

Now I know I've got to
Run away Cause the
says sunnyside up ain’t right for me
To make things true
You need someone to cook you through
And you think eggs are okay
But I don’t want a hospital stay


Don't touch me please
I cannot stand the way you tease
I love you though I’m on my rump
Now I'm going to have my stomach pumped
Tainted eggs, tainted eggs (x2)
Touch me baby, tainted eggs (x2)
Tainted eggs (x3)

Yeah food borne illness isn't funny but sometimes you have to laugh instead of crying.


One of my daily routines is reading the newspaper at lunch. A real, physical, tangible, held in your hands newspaper. One of my favorite comic strips in the News Sentinel is Overboard by Chip Dunham. It's about a bunch of bumbling, good hearted pirates whose past times include grilling and gardening.

"If you don't own a charcoal grill, you should"
-Steven Raichlen
Planet Barbecue

I wonder what the menu for the Overboard cookouts is...

"Get yer hands off my Booty" (pork butt)
"Peg Leg" (chicken drummettes on a skewer)

Any other ideas?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fire Day Friday: Grilled Sloppy Joes

I made sloppy joes on the grill for my Fire Day Friday post over at Our Krazy Kitchen this week. Hop over there for the recipe and a dorky video. You know you are just dying to know how I kept the sloppy joe mix from falling through the grill grates.
It's not just a sloppy joe, it has chorizo, fire roasted peppers, and homemade chili pepper.

Update: Here's the recipe for future reference.
Sloppy Chorizo Joes
1 lb ground beef
1 lb Mexican Chorizo sausage
2 Anaheim peppers
1 sweet red bell pepper
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz can tomato paste
2 cups water
1/2 Tbsp cayenne pepper, ground (I used my home made chili pepper blend)
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
salt and pepper to taste
8 hamburger buns

Char the peppers over a hot grill, burner, or broiler a few minutes a side. Remove when charred and blistered, resting in a zip lock bag for 5 minutes.

Peel the charred skin, slice open and de-seed the peppers (see video). Dice.

Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat on the grill. Brown the ground beef and chorizo, then remove and drain.

Add the onions to the dutch oven with 1 Tbsp of the reserved meat drippings and saute for 5-7 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes longer.

Return the meat mixture to the dutch oven. Add the roasted chili peppers. Mix the water, tomato paste, pepper, cumin, and sugar together and then add to the dutch oven. Once this comes to a simmer, cover and kill the grill heat (shut the vents or gas).

After 5 minutes, stir, season with salt and pepper to taste and remove to rest (covered) for another 5 minutes.

Serve with plain white hamburger buns.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Salsa Verde Beef Enchiladas

Who in the hell eats GREEN salsa?

That is what I used to think many, many years ago when I would see salsa verde in a jar or at a restaurant.

But like many of my food prejudices, I tried it a couple of years ago and liked it. It's okay with chips but it excels as a condiment to a meat dish, eggs, or as an ingredient in sauces.

Last night I made beef enchiladas using a salsa verde base instead of the tomato based enchilada sauce I usually make.

Salsa Verde Beef Enchiladas
Source: Nibble Me This

1 flank steak
1/2 cup beer or chicken stock
5 ea tomatillos, dehusked and chopped
2 ea jalapeno peppers, halved, seeded, and chopped
1 ea small onion, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro
2 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1 tsp salt
8 ea corn tortillas (small size)
2 cups shredded cheese
2-3 cups cream
1 cup fire roasted salsa verde

Preheat your grill to 300f.

Place the tomatillos, peppers, onion, cilantro, garlic, into a dutch oven. Add the flank steak. Top with cumin, coriander, and salt then the liquid. Place on the grill and bring to a simmer. Cover with lid, close grill, and simmer for 90 minutes. Add more beer or stock as needed to keep the mixture wet enough to braise and not dry out.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Take the steak from the pot and shred it into pieces using two large forks. It should pull apart easily almost like pulled pork.

Take the veggies from the pot process in a blender. Spread this mixture on the bottom of a 1/2 steam pan.

Preheat 1 cup of cream in a saute pan over medium low heat. One by one, soften a tortilla in the warm cream (about 5 to 10 seconds). I find we have to add more cream during the process, up to two cups in total.

Top a tortilla with 1/3rd cup of the shredded beef and 1 ounce of the shredded cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in the steam pan. Repeat for the remaining tortillas.

Cover with a cup of cheese and then top with the rest of the cream from the saute pan.

Bump the grill temp up to 375f using indirect heat. Place the steam pan on the grill and cook for 30-40 minutes until the edges of the tortillas are starting to turn crispy.

Remove from heat.

While resting, heat the last cup of cream and whisk in the cup of salsa verde. You can use store bought like Herdez but this weekend I home made a batch of salsa verde using veggies that were fire roasted. The smokey roasted flavor makes for a much more complex tasting sauce.

Ladle about 1/4 cup of this verde cream sauce onto each enchilada and garnish with cilantro, green onion and/or black olives.
You could make this in your oven too so why would I bother with firing up the Big Green Egg for 3 hours? First, because I want to. Second, it's hot and I don't want to heat up the kitchen for that long. But third and most important, the dish picks up something special from those red hot hardwood coals.

You can also go with a fattier cut of meat like a small chuck roast but be prepared to go for a longer cook time, about 2 hours for the braising part of the cook.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Chimichurri Steak Kebabs & Cilantro Lime Rice

The deck is finished and the first thing that found it's way back onto the deck was....

After a week without the Big Green Egg during the renovation, I was ready to fire that puppy up!

One of the books that has been inspiring my cooking this summer is Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue! It is a culinary journey through the hot spots of live fire cooking around the world. I'm not making the recipes exactly like his but I am taking his techniques and ideas.

For example, tonight I adapted "The Real Chimichurri" from his Buenos Aires "Heart-Stopper" recipe. Instead of using it as a condiment, I used it as a marinade to make quick and simple Chimichurri Steak Kebabs.

Chimichurri Steak Kebabs

Servings: 2 (4-5 kebabs)
1 ea ribeye steak, cut into 1" cubes
1 ea red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" cubes
1 ea yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" cubes

Chimichurri Marinade
Source: adapted from Planet Barbecue!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt (coarse ground)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, fresh coarse ground
2 tablespoons crumbled dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use 2 for heat)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons cilantro, fresh chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

Cilantro Lime Rice
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

1/2 cup long grain rice
1 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, very finely diced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, very finely minced

Make the marinade first. Put the garlic in a mortar and pestle, top with salt, black pepper, red pepper, and oregano. Now crush, muddle, grind (whatever you want to call it) to mix it all into a paste. Note: My oregano was crumbled dried oregano from our garden. If using ground oregano from the store, use about 1 Tbsp. Add the cilantro. Whisk in the vinegar and lime juice. Then slowly whisk in the oil to emulsify it like you would a vinaigrette.

Pour over the steak and pepper pieces in a zip top back, coat well and marinate it for at least 1 hour.

After the marinating time, assemble the kebabs alternating pepper and steak with 4-5 pieces of steak on each kebab.

While that is preheating, start your rice. Basically cook it according to package directions using the rice, water and salt. This should take about 18-20 minutes.

Once you have the rice started and covered, start your grill set up for direct heat at 450f.

Whisk together the cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and oil. Just as the rice is finished, mix in the cilantro mixture and cook another 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered while you cook the kebabs.

Place the kebabs on the grill and cook them for 1 minute per side (assuming 4 sides). Here's the trick I figured out, since one minute per side can mean two different things. First, always work in order that the kebabs were put on the grill. Work left to right or front to back, but the first kebab on should be the first one turned and the first one off.

If you want them cooked medium, then re-start your 1 minute timer each time you FINISH placing or turning the last kebab on the grill. That means each side is actually getting 1:15 to 1:20 per side including the turning time.

If you want them cooked medium-rare, then re-start your 1 minute timer each time you START turning the first kebab on the grill. That means each side is really only getting 1 minute per side.

Plate two kebabs on a plate of the rice.

These two dishes came together perfectly, in our opinion. The peppers had just the right amount of charring and the bold chimichurri flavors danced all over my taste buds, leaving no doubt that Argentina knows how to "do beef". The rice is good because it brings it's own character and isn't just a boring afterthought.

August Giveaway: If you haven't already done so, make sure you enter for a chance to win a 30" Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker.

Friday, August 13, 2010

August Giveaway: Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker


I am thrilled about my August Giveaway because it is my best one yet.

Just in time for Labor Day and leading into the holidays, Masterbuilt is sponsoring the giveaway of their 30" Electric Digital Smoker, that's a $299 value!

First, a little bit about Masterbuilt. They are a second generation, family owned company that has been making quality smoking, grilling, and frying equipment since 1973. You can find their products at major retailers such as Lowes, Home Depot, Walmart, and Gander Mountain. They also make cargo, bike carriers, and other hitch mounted accessories.

Here is what I like about the Masterbuilt Electrical Digital Smoker:

  • The Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smoker is a great fit for most of my readers who like bbq but are intimidated about the thought of firing up a big smoker. If you can use an oven you can use this smoker, it's electronically controlled with a digital keypad.
  • This would be a nice addition even if you already have a grill (or like me, have a Big Green Egg, an offset smoker, and a grill).
  • Even though it doesn't take up a lot of space, it has 4 racks of capacity so you can cook an entire meal on it like Don McLemore does in this video (skip to the 5 minute mark if you just want to see the unit in action)

  • It has a temperature range of 100-275f so you can not only do the typical low and slow bbq of ribs, butts, brisket and chicken, you can also do some cold smoking like cheese, spices, and salmon by adding ice to the water pan.
  • It has a water pan for keeping the cooking chamber moist during cooking.
  • The drip pan is removable for easy cleaning.
  • It has a remote probe meat thermometer that is integrated with the control pad so you can tell the meat temps without opening and closing the smoker.
  • It has a window so you can see how things are cooking without opening and closing the smoker.
  • You can refill the wood chips from the side access chute without opening and closing the smoker. (Seeing a patten here? Well designed.)
I am excited to be able to host this giveaway because one of you is going to get this easy to use and feature rich smoker just in time to cook up a storm for Labor Day weekend, the football season and the holidays!!!!!! I'm just disappointed that I can't enter and win!

Giveaway Entry and Rules Info

  1. To enter, visit the Masterbuilt website and check out their Recipes page. Then leave a comment below telling me "If I win this smoker, the first thing I will make is....." (NOTE: If you use the "anonymous comment" option, be sure to leave an email or your screen name in the comment so I can contact you if you are the winner. Something like "EggerinFL from the Egg Forum" or "swibirun from the BBQ Brethren forum" is enough.)
  2. One entry per person.
  3. Giveaway entry period begins Friday August 13th and ends Sunday August 22nd, 2010 at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Monday, August 23rd, 2010 at 7:oopm (All times are Eastern Time zone).
  4. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  5. Limited to Continental US unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  6. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  7. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Turkey Injection

I have often heard people say that Benjamin Franklin had supported the turkey over the bald eagle as the national bird of the United States of America. His actual quote was,

“I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
A lesser known fact is that shortly after making this comment, Thomas Jefferson said,

"Hey Benji! Come taste this delicious blend of eleven herbs and spices I came up with. It would taste exceptional on poultry."
Seriously though, it is a shame that we don't eat more turkey outside of the holiday season. It is lean, flavorful, and is flexible for a variety of preparations.

Usually, I like to brine my turkeys and chickens to infuse flavors and enhance juiciness. But sometimes I don't have 8-12 hours to do that. When I don't have the time to brine, I turn to injections because they are direct and fast.

Here is my favorite turkey injection, one that we have used for years with very good results. I used it tonight with a 7 lb Honeysuckle White turkey breast on the rotisserie.

Turkey Injection
source: Nibble Me This

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup wine
1/2 cup honey
Your choice of fresh herbs -- tonight I used 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 2 whole sage leaves
1 Tbsp parsley
1 Tbsp garlic pepper
1 Tbsp salt

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and then add the wine, honey, and herbs. Let simmer for 5 minutes to allow the herb oils to blend in. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Remove the herbs and reserve. You will have about 1 cup of injection/baste. Divide this into 1/2 cup for injection and 1/2 cup for baste. Chop up the herbs & parsley and add to the baste portion.

Use a meat syringe and inject the injection in spots all over the turkey breast. Don't forget to inject from inside the cavity as well as the outside to get good coverage throughout the meat.

Roast the turkey at 325f until it hits an internal temp of 160f degrees. You can do this in your oven, indirect on a grill, or tonight, I did it direct with a rotisserie on the grill. The advantage is that it cooks quicker with a rotisserie because of the direct heat. It only took about an hour and 30 minutes.

Make sure that you divide the baste portion of the wine/butter/honey/herb mixture into two portions during the basting process because....

The buttery herb baste helps the skin roast to a golden brown and provides flavor that you can see.

This is the easiest way that I know how to make turkey breasts that you'll be proud to serve, not hide under gravy! It's easy and comes out perfect every time.

(Sorry for the lack of pictures, I was short handed and short on time!)

Seasoned Turkey

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Root Beer Beans

The deck rebuild is progressing ahead of schedule and should be complete this afternoon. The two guys doing it have been true craftsman, taking pride in their work as if they were building it for themselves.

I wanted to send them home last night with dinner. The Big Green Egg is spending the weekend in our living room, so I rolled out the Brinkmann SnP offset smoker and smoked a batch of chickens, ribs, and beans. Meanwhile, Alexis cooked a half steam pan full of her mac and cheese.

The BBQ beans were something new that I wanted to try after seeing them on Pages, Pucks, and Pantry earlier this week. Mrs. L had adapted hers from Southern Living and I adapted hers to cook on the smoker.

Smokey Root Beer Beans
Source: Adapted from Mrs. L's adaptation of Southern Living's Root Beer Beans

2 28 oz cans Bush's Country Style Beans
1 small onion, diced
1/3rd ea red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3rd ea green bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 sliced bacon, cooked until almost crisp and then chopped
1/3rd cup smoked brisket, chopped
1 cup root beer (I used Jones Soda Company brand)
1/2 cup BBQ Sauce (I used Pork Barrel BBQ)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp of hot sauce (I used Fire Ant Juice)

Combine all ingredients in a half steam pan and cover tightly with foil. Place in the smoker (in your hot spot if you have one). The temps of the smoker could range from 225 to 300f. Cook for 90 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook for another hour. Stir every now and then as the top will start to thicken.

I was tentative about making this one because I wasn't sure how the root beer flavor would come through. I probably wouldn't have made it if Mrs. L hadn't been so vocal about how much she had liked this recipe. We loved them! They were sweet, a little spicy, and had just the right smokiness. We will absolutely make this again.

We packed up 4 orders "to go" for our deck builders as they finished and they were very grateful.
Smoke Notes for the BBQ Enthusiasts (not written in English):
Fire - Used Minion method. Base fire of Kingsford briquettes and chunks of cherry wood. Adding hickory splits, cherry, and lump through the cook as needed. Ran hot the first 90 min @ 275f even w/ vents shut down. Mostly 250f after that. (Grate temps run 25f lower for the main level)

The ribs were St. Louis trimmed spare ribs. I rubbed one with Billy Bones Competition rub and one with a batch of Southern Succor rub that I had made. I cooked them 3-1 1/2-1 at 250f. Glazes were Pork Barrel BBQ on the Succor rib and Smoky Mountain Smokers on the Billy Bones rib.

The chickens were brined (3/4 c kosher salt, 1/2 c sugar, 1/4 c rub) and rubbed with Poultry Perfect Rub. Mopped them every 30 minutes with my chicken mop sauce. Smoked them for 3 1/2 hrs until the FINALLY hit 160f in the breasts.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Burger Club Challenge: Bobby Flay

Think about a time when you have moved.

You know that feeling when everything has been packed and you are doing that last walk through, making sure you got everything. You look at the empty rooms and feel a bit melancholy because you realized that despite the barren floors and walls, they are not empty. The memories of times spent there flood the void.

So you'll excuse me feeling a bit sad as I cooked my last meal on our deck tonight. I had cleared everything off of the deck except the Big Green Egg, for tomorrow's demolition.

[Cue music: It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday]

I smoked my first pork butts, ribs, and brisket all on this deck. There are burn marks and grease stains on this deck and it has worn them as a badge of honor. The best meals I have ever eaten and some of my catastrophic failures were cooked on this deck. As much as I'm looking forward to my new deck, I'll be verklempt as it is torn down tomorrow night.

For the "last dance" tonight, I did my entry for the Burger Club Challenge at Cinnamon, Spice and Everything Nice. This month's challenge is rather flexible - any burger by Bobby Flay.

I decided to make Bobby's Sante Fe Burger. You can view the recipe here. This is basically a chili verde burger with a cheese sauce and blue corn tortilla chips crumbled on top to "crunchify" it in Bobby's terms.

I charred the pepper on all sides... (Tip: Don't be bashful about getting it extra charred when grilling or broiling your peppers. If you only get spots here and there, you are going to have a harder time peeling it even after resting it in a bag.)

Grilled the burgers....

And while the burgers rested I made the queso sauce. A part of the challenge is to do the recipe AS EXACTLY AS POSSIBLE so your rating will be of the dish as written. I did vary one tiny bit with the sauce. Instead of salt and pepper, I used a bit of my homemade chili powder from last week.

My Rating (based on the challenges 4 point system)
3 Stars = Liked and will make again
I probably would have gone with a 4 Stars = Loved! Will make often rating but I made a similar sauce on my own last year that uses my smoked pepper jack cheese and that sauce outshines this one. The crunchiness of the tortilla chips didn't distract like I thought they might and Alexis just LOVED them.

OK all you grillers and Eggheads. Get over to Reeni's blog and enter this challenge. I'm interested to see which Flay burger you make and what you think of it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Just General Stuff and News and Stuff...and Stuff

No recipes in this post, just some...stuff.

We spent the weekend with my parents at their campsite at Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains. It's one of my favorite places in East Tennessee with the mountains, forests, plains, and wildlife. Walking through these forests always makes me feel like I am walking around Endor. (Oh snap, geek alert.)

It was a rainy weekend so mushrooms were erupting from the moist ground.

My mom did her usual campfire cooking that would kick the living crap out of most other people's cooking in the kitchen. That's right....I said it. My mom can 'whoop' your mom!

BBQ Pitmasters
Last year, TLC's BBQ Pitmasters was a bit of a breakout hit. I was surprised by how many of my non-bbq friends mentioned the show to me. BBQ Pitmasters is back for a second season and I am so happy to tell you that fellow food blogger, competitive BBQr, and media maven Danielle of DivaQ is one of the participants this year.

I think they picked the right person because she not only has the BBQ skill and knowledge but a riotously fun personality. Don't miss out on the new season, it starts August 12th (next Thursday) on TLC. They have changed the show format a bit this year to shake things up. In the mean time, check out Danielle's blog - DivaQ .

Tickets went on sale today for the 2010 Eggtoberfest. It is THE annual Big Green Egg festival where thousands of us Eggheads get together to socialize, share ideas, and cook together. We bought our tickets tonight for my birthday present (end of September, close enough) and I can't wait!

Closed For Remodeling
This weekend we are replacing our 20 year old deck. For those of you that cook inside, it would be like having your kitchen ripped out for a week.

So please excuse me if my posts for the next week are about things like cooking pop tarts or how to make ramen noodles. Just kidding, I'll just make do and cook on that "cooking box" thing that you folks have in your kitchen.