Monday, February 12, 2018

Bacon Lettuce Avocado Turkey and Pepper Jack Burger

[FTC Disclaimer]  Certifed Angus Beef® Brand is a sponsor; however, this isn't one of their sponsored posts.

I had a craving for a good burger this weekend.  Despite the soaking rain, I fired up one of my kamado grills and made a favorite of ours - the BLAT Burger.  

Yeah, that's a horrible name, but that's what we call it at our house.  
  • It started out being a BLT burger long time ago.  
  • Then it morphed into a club sandwich burger by adding grilled turkey.  
  • Finally, I swapped the tomato out for avocado and added the pepper jack cheese.

I'm not doing a recipe for this post because I think you get the basic idea from the pictures.

I grilled these on the flat side of my GrillGrates, instead of straight grilling them. I just wanted a hot, flat surface. I could have also used my Little Griddle, a cast iron griddle insert for my Craycort grates, a cast iron skillet, or my flat top grill.

Griddle cooking turkey on GrillGrates on a large Big Green Egg kamado grill.
Griddling the turkey does 2 things.  It warms it up, and it creates the Maillard reaction that makes the flavor.

Schweid & Sons are my preferred burger patties if I am not making them myself.
For the burgers, I used Schweid and Sons C.A.B. All American burgers that we bought at Food City.  They also sell The One Percenter, which is the same thing except made with USDA Prime Certified Angus Beef.  These are my preferred burger patties when I'm not making them myself.
Grilling burger patties on GrillGrates in a kamado grill, such as Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, Primo
I grill my burgers in the 450-500f range and do 4 minutes per side.  I don't worry about using oil on the GrillGrates.  The seasoning is enough, and the burgers will only stick if they aren't ready to flip yet.

Burgers on GrillGrates
Grill marks look good on a burger, but the crust from a hot flat surface is unbeatable, IMO.  When I flipped the burger, I seasoned this side with finely ground salt and pepper.

GrillGates protect the burger patties from burning when the dripping grease flares the flames.
Some of the rendered fat will drip through the holes and kick up some flames, but the GrillGrates keep the burger patties from burning.

Sargento pepper jack cheese on top of burgers
After 2 minutes on the second side (6 minutes in), I put the slices of pepper jack cheese on top.  Another advantage of using a flat griddle is that instead of cheese dripping into the fire below, it hits the griddle and gets crispy edges that are amazing.  I like using Sargento, Boars Head, or a local dairy, Sweetwater Valley Farm for the pepper jack cheese.

Avocados work magic with taste and texture, much like egg yolks do.

The best burgers start with the #BestAngusBeef - Certified Angus Beef.

This is a fantastic burger combination because everything works together. The avocado soothes the bite of the pepper jack cheese. The bacon and turkey make the burger sing.  I count this as one of my top 5 burgers including the following in no specific order because it depends on my mood.

What are your favorite burger topping combinations?

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fire Roasted Potatoes Au Gratin

I've had a couple of people already ask about the Fire Roasted Potatoes Au Gratin from my post this week for the Beef Medallions with Cipollini Onion Red Wine Sauce.

Fire roasted potatoes au gratin recipe for the grill is a good grilled side dish.

Potatoes au gratin has been one of my favorite comfort foods as far back as I can remember.  I learned this from my mother.  It was one of those "some of this and a little of that" type of recipes, based on what she had on hand.  I haven't changed it much.  

I've done fancier versions where I make reduced and seasoned cream sauce, similar to bechamel.  But I use this "old reliable" recipe more times than not.  Yes, it uses condensed soup, but I'm okay with that, just like I'm okay with some Velveeta in my mac and cheese sauce.  

Fire Roasted Potatoes Au Gratin

  • 6 Yukon gold potatoes, thin sliced
  • 1 medium sweet onion, peeled and thin sliced
  • 1 cup shredded Gouda or Fontina cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese blend
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 can reduced sodium condensed mushroom soup
  • 1 tablespoon NMT Beef Rub v.2
  • panko breadcrumbs for sprinkling on top 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Beef Medallions with Cipollini Onions and Red Wine Sauce

[FTC Disclaimer] This post is sponsored by the Certified Angus Beef ® brand in conjunction with a social media campaign through Sunday Supper LLC. All opinions are my own.

This dish is just the ticket for Valentines Day.  It's simple and doesn't require advanced cooking skills. Even though any dolt can make this, it has an elegant flair to it and will make you look like a gourmet hero.

Certified Angus Beef brand #BeefCookAlong

This is Sautèed Medallions with Pearl Onions Red Wine Sauce.  It is the #BeefCookAlong recipe from Certified Angus Beef® Brand for February.  This is a series where Chef Michael Ollier and Chef Gavin Pinto walk you through a specific recipe in a Facebook Live video and answer questions from viewers.  If you miss it live, you can still catch the video - here is the video for this month.

This is my #BeefCookAlong.  I followed the recipe.....mostly.  Here is where I deviated:

  • Fire - They did their demo live from the Certified Angus Beef® Brand Culinary Center, but of course, I did mine over live fire.  
  • Beef - I intended to use medallions cut from a top sirloin petite roast, but my Food City was out.  It was early, and they had a truck coming in, but I didn't want to go back, so I substituted beef tenderloin.
  • Onions - I upgraded from pearl onions to cipollini onions.

Certified Angus Beef
I forgot to buy fresh thyme, but fortunately, my thyme plant in the front yard still offered a few small sprigs.  You can tell the beef fillet were cut from the butt end of a tenderloin.  I planned to bisect them and then cut the 4 pieces into medallions.

Cipollini onions are small but bigger than pearl onions.  They might be small, but they are full flavored.  I like fire roasting them or braising them until tender, it brings out their sweetness.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Just some smoked BBQ ribs

Here are some ribs that I smoked a couple of weeks ago, just to practice.

BBQ spare ribs smoked on a Deep South Smoker

I was very disappointed in the ribs that I bought.  They were from one of my two trusted, longtime suppliers and they weren't cheap at $18+ per rack.  I can get ribs a LOT cheaper, but I pay the premium price to avoid problems like this.  

Both racks were racked with shiners.  Shiners happen every now and then, it's inevitable.  But when I'm paying $6.99 a pound, I sure as [bleep] don't expect to get SEVEN SHINERS on just 2 racks of ribs.

What's a shiner?  A shiner is where the meat on the spare rib has been trimmed too closely, so the bones are "shining" through. This means the ribs aren't very meaty because the meat was trimmed off with the pork belly and it also causes appearance issues.

What is a rib shiner? It's when the butcher trimmed too closely to the ribs, exposing the bones.
The yellow lines show 3 shiners where you can see the rib bones poking through.

Four more shiners on this rack.  These definitely are not premium ribs, they below in the discount bin.
I cooked these ribs on my Deep South Smokers GC36 while I was also cooking a couple of briskets and some wings.  But my process differs little between whether I'm cooking on a kamado, bullet smoker, an offset pit, or an insulated box cooker like the Deep South.  On all types, I cook at 290°f. Differences include:
  • Kamado grills (Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, etc.) - I use an adjustable rig with an oblong heat shield to protect the ends of the ribs. I use lump charcoal with wood chunks mixed in. Kamados don't smoke as much so for competition ribs, I foil them later in the process, based on color.
  • Offset pits (Oklahoma Joe, my "Warthog") - These really lay the smoke down, so I foil earlier in the process.  
  • Rack and sheet pan - In kamado grills and bullet smokers, I put the ribs right on the grill grates.  For offsets and box cookers, I put the ribs on a rack over a sheet pan just because it keeps the smoker cleaner.
  • Spritzing intervals - Kamado grills and box cookers both retain moisture like a sponge so I'll spritz less frequently - maybe 1x an hour.  Offsets and bullets run drier so I spritz more regularly and might add a water pan in the mix.

Deep South Smokers work great with Kamado Joe charcoal and a Flame Boss controller
I finally tried some Kamado Joe Big Block charcoal in the Deep South, because Alexis found it at Costco.  Man, that charcoal ran superbly in this cooker!  Easy to light and clean burning.  I had my Flame Boss 300 (sponsor) running the pit, and temps stayed steady and recovered quickly after opening doors.  I'll be buying Kamado Joe charcoal as long as I can keep getting it.

Ribs prepared and ready to go into the smoker.
An example of the rack and sheet pan that I use in the Deep South or my offset pits.

Flame boss controller running the Deep South Smoker
I've updated my rib process this year, incorporating bits from 2 classes and adjustments from my own experience.

Ribs out of the smoker and ready to go into the foil wrap.
Here are the ribs before going into the foil wrap.  If they start getting too dark, I'll wrap them a bit early.  If they aren't getting dark enough, I'll switch to cherry wood.

Smoked BBQ ribs
Ribs fresh from the foil wrap, before being glazed.

Smoked BBQ spare ribs
After smoking and braising (the foil rap), the ribs get sauced and go back in the smoke for 10-15 minutes.  
Then it is just a matter of slicing the ribs.

Sliced BBQ spare ribs

The ribs turned out juicy, smoky, sweet and tender.  Very good but I always could use more practice.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Big Moe Cason BBQ Pop Up Restaurant & BBQ Class

We are excited to be helping our friend, Big Moe Cason, when he rolls into Pensacola, Florida to do a pop-up restaurant and BBQ class.

More details are forthcoming, but the pop-up restaurant will be April 6, 2018, at Perfect Plain Brewing Company.  The BBQ class will be the following day at Legendary Marine.

I'll share the specifics and how you can attend shortly, but you can guarantee it's going to be good.