Sunday, November 27, 2011

Steakhouse Burger

I'm heading out tomorrow for the weekend to take Trevor to Florida for a fishing trip with my father-in-law.  We're after the big bruising redfish that cruise the chilly Gulf waters this time of year. 

This past weekend, we had some friends over to watch some of the big in-state rivalry football games like Auburn/Alabama (sorry, Steph), Florida/Florida State, Georgia/Georgia Tech, and Clemson/South Carolina.  

On the tailgating menu was Grilled Chipotle and Honey Wings [click for recipe] (a recipe I developed to go with Bush's Baked Beans Honey variety) and a Steakhouse Burger.  This is a "non-recipe" type post since it's nothing very original, but you'll get the general idea.

  • The beef - ground chuck roast seasoned with black pepper and garlic, formed into 3 ounce patties.  Sealed the stuffing between two patties.
  • The stuffing - I like the sharp bite of blue cheese.  A lot of my guests don't so I compromised.  I used blue cheese with a quarter slice of American cheese for the "I don't like blue cheese" people and they loved it.  I "forgot" to tell them there was blue cheese in it until they were saying how good it was.
  • The onions - caramelized sliced onions and hit with a splash of white wine in the last 10 minutes.
  • The mushrooms - sliced and sauteed in butter 5 minutes.  Added some diced garlic and parsley, sauteed another 2 minutes.
  • The sauce - 2 parts mayo, 1 part your favorite steak sauce and then seasoned to taste with salt, pepper, and turbinado sugar.  
  • The buns - grilled.  
Grilled stuffed "jucy lucy" burgers are always a hit.

Alexis said this was one of the year's best burgers.  Close, but I have to agree.

Paper towels - mandatory equipment for dealing with Grilled Chipotle & Honey Wings.

Like the cool football themed paper plates and cups?  Solo Cup Company has this line out in stores right now just in time for the bowl-game season and the NFL playoffs.   They have all the benefits of their normal plates (cut resistant, grease proof, etc) and are "cute to boot" (Alexis said that.....not me).   

If you are planning bowl game or playoff get together, keep an eye out for the Solo Cup football line in your store.  I say "if" because the local Tennessee Vols are not bowl eligible and my hometown Jacksonville Jaguars have been mathematically eliminated from play off contention.  Mathematically eliminated?  How bad do you have to be at sports to even have "math" beat you? 

[Standard Disclaimer] I received compensation from Bush Beans to develop the wing recipe and compensation from Solo Cup Company.  I already used both products anyway.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens

I created and cooked a special recipe for yesterday's Thanksgiving feast.  It's called "Not a damn thing".  It didn't have much taste but it was low on calories!    

Nah, the kitchens of Nibble Me This were shut down as we headed over the mountains to Franklin, NC to spend the day with my side of the family.  My mom cooked our traditional Thanksgiving feast which somehow manages every year to outstrip "nostalgia inflation" (where things tasted better in your memory) and be as fantastic as ever. 

Late in the afternoon, I decided to walk off the carbs and headed down the mountain road...

Yes, the actual road, not stock photo.
beyond the cow pastures....

The cabin property is on the extreme right of this picture.
to the sheep farm....
Holy crap, my mom wasn't kidding, there IS a red sheep in the herd.

and took this picture of the barn...

I'm a sucker for old barns. 
 The red brick silo in the picture was the inspiration for today's recipe and my 500th post -  Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens.

Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens
Servings:  4 (1/2 hen per person)
  • 2 ea cornish hens, thawed
  • 2 heat resistant bricks, double wrapped in foil
For the brine
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • enough water to cover the two hens
For the compound butter
  • 3 Tbsp butter (unsalted), softened
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, fresh chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Hickory smoked salt (use regular Kosher if you don't have smoked)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the finishing oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Mix the brine ingredients thoroughly together and brine the hens for 4 hours.  
  2. Mix the compound ingredients together with a fork, refrigerate, and take off refrigeration 1 hour before using.
  3. Heat oil in a small sauce pan to 350f.  
  4. Fry sage leaves about 1 minute and remove.
  5. Fry garlic cloves until done, about 2-3 minutes, and remove.
  6. Let oil cool.  Place sage, garlic, pepper and oil in a blender or food processor and blend together.
  7. Preheat your grill and two foil wrapped bricks to 400f.  On the Big Green Egg, I used a raised grid set up where the meat is 8" from the coals.  If your grill can't adjust the height from the coals, drop the temp to about 350f and carefully monitor the internal temps.
  8. Spatchcock or butterfly the hens by cutting out the backbone with kitchen/poultry sheers.  
  9. Work your finger under the skin and spread the softened compound butter over the breast, thighs, and legs. 
  10. Place birds bone side down, weigh down with bricks and cook 6 minutes.
  11. Rotate birds 90 degrees and weigh down again for another 6 minutes.
  12. Remove birds from grill (to prevent flare ups) and drizzle some of the sage oil over the skin side.  Flip and drizzle sage oil over the back.  Return to grill skin side down, top with bricks, and cook for 3 minutes.
  13. Rotate 90 degrees and cook another 3 minutes.  
  14. Temp check thighs (175f) and breasts (160).  If not done, slip bone side down and finish to those temps (shouldn't be another few minutes). 
  15. Let rest 10 minutes before serving

With the weather getting cold, sage is one of the last herbs surviving in our garden.

You won't use all the oil, save the rest for other dishes.

If you can't get "all natural", reduce the salt content of the brine to 1/4 cup.

Getting the butter/herbs under the skin seasons the meat better.

A glimpse into how I come up with recipes.  I started with the word Franklin and brainstormed.

The brick helps flatten the birds for more even cooking.

Finishing bone side down to get the desired final internal temps.

The wild rice was a certain Uncle's box mix with frozen peas and crisped bacon added.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, spent time with family and arrived home safely!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Last week when I smoked the two pork butts, you might have noticed one had the typical reddish BBQ rub on it but the other was looking a little "green".

No, it wasn't a moldy, "special buy because it went out of date two days ago" piece of pork.  I was trying out Albukirky Seasonings new Green Chile Rub. 

Kirk is a fellow Egghead and food blogger who, about a year ago, started his own line of seasonings and rubs that boast the flavor of New Mexico.

This green chile rub is a blend of the famous Hatch chiles, sea salt, garlic, black pepper and other seasonings.  Don't worry about the word chile, it is not spicy as much as it is flavorful.   The rub has an even blend of fine and medium grinds so it has texture to it.  Don't think of it as a BBQ rub per se, it is more of a multipurpose seasoning.  The aroma smells strongly of garlic and black pepper but the taste is well balanced once cooked onto food.

So far I have used it on grilled chicken and on a smoked pork butt, both were very good.  The pork still had the smoked flavor and nice bark but it had a unique Southwestern flair to it.  I have used it this week to make tamales, the fried tamale bites, "green eggs & pork", pork tacos, and tonight, I made enfrijoladas.

What the heck are enfrijoladas?  A week ago I would have had no clue either.  Honestly, I would have thought it was a made up word from Taco Bell's marketing department.

But I saw them TWICE in one weekend at Girlichef (who has never let me down) and Mexico in my Kitchen and knew I HAD to try them.  Click the links for their recipes as I am not posting one, but they are fried corn toritillas dipped in a spicy bean sauce and stuffed with kickin' meat (chicken, pork, or beef, doesn't matter).  

I used black beans, garlic, dried cayenne, and cilantro for my seasonings.

The fried tortillas start to get crispy...

But dipping them into the bean sauce kind of softens them up, resulting in a nice combination of textures.  I should have garnished more but was hungry so I just sprinkled them with cotija cheese.  

Proof that most comfort food isn't photogenic....but it has a nice personality and rocks.
They might not look pretty and that is one of the worst plating/food styling/food photography shots I have done in a while.....but guess what....I don't care.  They were freaking excellent.  All 4 of us were moaning grunts of approval as we devoured them.  I can't believe I've never heard of these things before.

Oh yeah, back to the rub.  Albukirky Seasonings Green Chile Rub definitely works for me and I'll be buying some more.  Speaking of that, you can get it cheaper than I did because it's now on sale.  Kirk has marked it down from $7.99 to $5 a bottle (his other rubs and sauces are on sale too).  Link to Albukirky Seasonings

[Standard Disclaimer]  I pay full price for my Albukirky Seasonings and receive no compensation from them.  Kirk is an online acquaintance and fellow Egghead but that is it.  Based on legal counsel's advice, I cannot comment on rumors that Kirk has compromising photos of me at last year's Eggfest.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Fried Tamale Bites

Yesterday we wanted some appetizer-snacky-game type food to munch on while we watched UFC-139.  I came up with two things - tamale bites and fried stuffed black olives.

deep fried tamale bites, deep fried olives

I wasn't sure how either would work since 
A) I didn't know if the tamale dough would all cook solid into an impenetrable ball of concrete and 
B) I had no recipe for either of these, I was just winging it.

When I first bit through the warm, crunchy crust and it gave way to the soft tamale and savory pork inside I knew I was on to something.  And the olives were down right addicting.

The olives were just large pitted black olive stuffed with a thin sliver of garlic, a small piece of pepper jack cheese, and half a leaf of cilantro.  

To get the breading to stick, we found you had to dip them in egg wash first, then flour, back to egg wash, and then in panko crumbs.  Then just a quick 30 second swim in a 350f deep fryer.  Season lightly with salt just as they come out and they are done.
Typical 3 station breading set up - flour, egg, crumbs.

For the tamale bites, I simply took leftover cooked tamales and cut each into 4 pieces.  I rolled each in flour (masa harina), egg wash, and then panko bread crumbs before deep frying them at 350f until golden, about 1 minute.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Chili Soup

The high temperature in Knoxville today was at 1:30am. 

With temps dropping all day, that meant it was a day for soup.  Or chili.  Or maybe both, because I wasn't sure which to call this dish I threw together for dinner tonight.  I wasn't even going to blog about this but Alexis liked it so much I changed my mind.

Southwestern Chicken Chili Soup

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can diced tomatoes and green chile
  • 1 can corn kernals, drained
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp roasted cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried lemon peel
  1. Preheat a large stock pot over medium high heat.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper.  
  3. Add butter and oil to pot and brown chicken for 4-5 minutes.  Remove to a plate.
  4. Add the diced onion and saute for 3 minutes.  
  5. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.  
  6. Deglaze the pot with balsamic vinegar.
  7. Return chicken and any juices to the pot.
  8. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. 
  • Avoid crowding the pot when browning chicken.  If you can get all the chicken in with one layer, do it in two batches.
  • Garnish with crispy fried tortilla strips or masa dumplings

Then I Saw The Light
The onset of darker nights and colder temps cause some folks to suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).   I have to admit I am not as enthusiastic about getting out to cook when it's already dark when I get home from work.  According to the Mayo Clinic, light therapy is a common treatment for combating the effects of SAD.  
Light therapy....grillin' style.

Ahhhh I feel better already!!!!!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pig Candy BBQ Cheeseburger

The French have the mirepoix.  Cajuns have "the trinity".  What do tailgaters have?  Bacon, cheese, and bbq sauce!  

Seriously, try to name one tailgate food that can't be improved with the addition of one or more of these.  So when Bush Beans sponsored a tailgate for us recently, I went "all in" and used all three for a great burger.   Since our tailgate had limited cooking set ups, I wanted a burger that could be made at home, transported and then quickly put together onsite. 

Instead of cramming a bunch of toppings into a cooler and carrying them with us, I crammed a bunch of toppings into a BBQ Cheese sauce and cooked some bacon.  They were really good the first time at the tailgate and they went great with the Maple Cured Bacon flavor of Bush's Baked Beans.  

But the beans tastes of cured bacon and real maple syrup, slow-simmered with a secret blend of seasonings, were whispering to me.  They kept saying "sweet" and "bacon".  I finally realized what they were telling me this burger really wanted....PIG CANDY!!!!! 

Bacon + Sugar + Spicy = Pig Candy

Pig Candy BBQ Cheeseburger
serves: 6

For The Burgers
  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 hamburger buns

For the Pig candy
  • 1 lb smoked bacon
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar (you can substitute brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp BBQ rub (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)

For the BBQ Cheese Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (we used colby jack this time but medium cheddar works great)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flake
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

  1. Mix together the bacon, sugar, and bbq rub, thoroughly coating the bacon with the seasoning.
  2. Cook the bacon at 375f according to package directions for "baking".  Instead, I cooked mine at 375f indirect with coal and cherry wood on my grill. 
  3. Preheat a sauce pan over medium high heat.  Melt butter and saute the jalapeno for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the flour and stir constantly for another 3-4 minutes until a blonde roux forms. 
  5. Reduce heat to medium and whisk in the half and half.
  6. Whisk in the red pepper flake and cheese in small batches, allowing the cheese to melt before adding more.
  7. Add the BBQ sauce, taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.   We just added a pinch of each.
  8. Store BBQ Cheese sauce in a thermos and it will stay warm for several hours.
  9. Mix the burgers together and divide into a dozen 4-ounce patties.   
  10. Grill the patties on a 450f charcoal grill for 4 minutes per side.
  11. Assemble each burger from the bottom up:  bun - burger - 2 slices pig candy - burger - 2 or 3 Tbsp BBQ cheese sauce - bun.  
  • The pig candy amounts will give you 4 extra pieces.  Tell no one.  They are yours to cherish and devour.  
  • Wash your hands with really cold water before making the patties and keep your beef well chilled while forming the patties.

They were very good at the tailgate with regular bacon.  But Pig Candy wins every time.

Notice the "custom cherry wood rack divider" is very expensive equipment ;) 
The BBQ cheese sauce brings a ton of flavor but makes it portable.

Pig Candy BBQ Cheeseburger with Bush's Baked Beans - Maple Cured Bacon

Bush Beans Gameday Giveaway

And now for the lucky winner of the tailgating package sponsored by Bush's Beans......

#12 - Big Dude said...I mentioned the give away on my blog -

WOW!  Not only was Larry also #1 to enter this contest (as well as #12), Bev and Larry have hosted the East TN food blogger get together for the past two years.   I almost wanted to re-draw because it looks "funny" with another Knoxville blog winning from my Knoxville blog sponsored by a Knoxville company but Alexis said, "No way, he won it fair and square!".   

Congratulations, Larry!  Email me your address.  

Thanks everyone and get ready for my December giveaway - a nice boxed set gift package for the BBQ lover. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How I Smoke Pork Butts for Pulled Pork

I smoked two pork butts yesterday and Matt asked via Twitter:  "Do you have a link to your pork method on the Egg? "

I didn't.  I have a few posts about pulled pork but I've never fully outlined the steps I go through for smoking pork butts on the Big Green Egg.    Here is what I do from start to finish.  It's not the only way or "right" way, it's just works for what we like to eat at home.

smoked pork butt, BGE, kamado, Grill Dome, Vision, Primo
Preparing the Big Green Egg 
  • Remove all used coal from the Egg and reserve..  Thoroughly clean out the ashes.  Make sure all fire grate and fire bowl air holes are free of ash and coal.
  • Wood:  I do NOT soak my wood chunks.   I use 4" x 1.5" x 1.5" chunks of seasoned hickory and cherry. 
  • I place the largest chunk of wood in the middle and a layer of the larger pieces of lump coal on the fire grate.  Place three chunks of wood on top of that layer near the edges in three different places.  Pour another layer of coal to cover that wood. Repeat until my wood and coal top the fire ring.  I use the reserved used lump coal for the final layer since it's easier to start and pops less.  My goal it to have wood distributed evenly from top to bottom and side to side so I get smoke through the whole cook.
  • Open bottom vent and DFMT vent all the way.  I light the coal with a MAPpro torch in 3 places.  When temp reaches 200f, I cut the bottom vent to about 1" open.  When it hits 220f, I shut the bottom vent to about 1/4" and close the DFMT vent but open the daisy wheel so the 6 holes are open.  
  • When the Egg reaches 250f, I place the plate setter in "legs up" and place my drip pan onto of that.  My drip pan is a large deep dish pie pan that I bought from a restaurant supply store.  I cover it with foil for easy clean up.
  • I let the Egg hold at 250f until the smoke turns from white to clear or "sweet blue".   It takes 15 to 45 minutes for the heavy white smoke to change over.
Foil covered deep dish pizza pans make great drip pans.

wood set up for big green egg, smoking, kamado grill, grill dome, vision grill, primo grill
Wood distributed up and down and all around.  More coal will top this.

Meat Prep
  • I like to use 7-8lb pork butts (aka pork shoulder, Boston butts) that have a nice white fat cap and deep red meat.  If I'm buying a twin pack, I try to make sure the two butts are close to the same size.
  • Brine - I do not brine pork butts.
  • Injection - I inject about half the time.  I don't see a huge difference but I do think it helps me have more consistent results.  I use Chris Lilly's world champion injection (recipe) and inject in 12-15 spots on the bottom and again on top.
  • Rub - I take my butts out of the refrigerator 1 hour before start time and apply the rub heavily on all sides.  If making my own rub, I like to use a variation of Southern Succor Rub (recipe) but more and more I just use commercial rubs.  Ones I like are Billy Bones Competition or Draper's AP rub.
Pork - seasoned with Drapers A.P. Rub and wood. 
how to trim pork butt for big green egg, kamado grill, vision grill, primo grill, kamado joe
Fat cap up or down?  Neither, I trim it off for a better bark.

  • Once the Egg is stabilized at 250f (dome temperature) and the smoke is either clear or thin blue, I put my pork butts on, fat cap facing up.  There's two schools of thought on the fat cap and both have their "scientific arguments".  I've tried it both ways and just prefer fat cap up.  UPDATE:  Now I just remove the fat cap altogether.  There is enough intramuscular fat to keep things moist, getting rid of the fat cap just gives you a better bark.
  • I check the Egg and meat internal temps every hour just to make sure the Egg temp is still stable at 250f and the butt temps are progressing as expected (see chart below for an example).   
  • Temp Adjustments - The Egg is pretty stable.  I don't make any changes if it is within 10 degrees of my target temp.  If it gets more than that, I adjust gradually.  Guiding temps on an Egg is more like operating a boat instead of driving a car, you can't just start slamming on the brakes or stomping on the gas.  If the temps start to drop about 8 hours in, I check for smaller pieces of coal blocking fire grate holes and use a wiggle rod (metal skewer with the tip bent 90 degrees) to clear them.
  • Guru and other electronic controls - I don't use any electronic controls, blowers, etc.  I don't have a problem with people that do.  For me, it just seems like they just add more complications that can go wrong.  I do pretty good just minding my two vents.
  • I plan on 1.5 hours per pound but allow for as short as 1 hour/lb or up to 2 hours/lb.  Mine are pretty consistent at 1.5 hours.
  • If I'm cooking more than one butt, I like to rotate the cooking grate 1/2 turn when the butts hit 160f (about the halfway point usually) for more even cooking.
  • I remove the butts from the Egg when their internal temp hits between 195f and 200f.  I double wrap them in high density aluminum foil and place them in an empty cooler to rest for at least 1 hour but up to 4 hours.  
pork shoulder big green egg, kamado grill
2-3 butts fit easily on a Large BGE.  An adjustable rig can double that.

 Rotate your thermometer dial so that your target temp is at 12 o'clock.  Then you can 
see if you are on the right temp with a quick glance and from several feet away.

pork butt times and temps big green egg, pulled pork
Data from an actual cook.  Yellow line is the meat temp.  Notice the typical "stall"

  • After the rest, I take the pork butt out of the foil, reserving any juices.  I shred or "pull" the pork using two large forks.  The bone and any remaining sections of fat are "discarded" (give to the dog).
  • Seasoning - Once the pork is pulled, I drizzle the reserved juices over the pork.  I sprinkle about 2 Tbsp over the meat.  I also pour a little of "finishing sauce" over the pork, just enough to lightly mix in.  An 8 lb butt will yield about 4lbs of meat and I only use about 1/2 cup of finishing sauce on it.  
I get so full during the "pulling" part, I don't know why....

Storing and Reheating
  • We vacuum seal pulled pork in 1 lb batches (4 servings) and freeze it for up to six months (date the bag).
  • To reheat, put the sealed bag straight from the freezer into a simmering pot of water for 5 minutes.  When it's warm it's ready to eat. 
smoked pork butt, BGE, kamado, Grill Dome, Vision, Primo
Pulled pork sandwich with Bush's Grillin' Beans - Smokehouse Tradition