Saturday, March 30, 2013

B-roll Footage

I shoot pictures of most of the stuff that I cook but not everything makes it to my blog.

Reasons things might not make the cut to show up on the blog are things such as:
  • the recipe is a work in process
  • the recipe has nothing new to add in terms of content
  • I didn't like the pictures
  • I just didn't feel like posting it.
Here are some examples for cooks in the past few weeks that didn't make it.

Pasta with ham and peas

Pasta with ham and peas
A "leftover throw together".  I was just using up leftover ham and cooked noodles.  Made a white sauce and then added some cream cheese, pepper, salt, and red pepper flake.  Added frozen peas and chopped ham and topped with chopped bacon.   

Tri-tip burgers
burger with grill marks, grilled burger, burger platter
Looked pretty.

Visibly lacking fat, too lean.

grilled cheeseburgers, craycort grates, big green egg grate
Gouda on some, colby jack on some.

GrillGrates, sear marks
Great grill marks from GrillGrates.

grilled cheeseburger, grilled burger, big green egg burger

I fresh ground a tri tip roast and a chuck roast for burgers.  I grilled a dozen burgers on the Big Green Egg in batches.  I didn't post it because the meat mixture was too lean for my tastes and the texture suffered as a result.  I have several more grinds that I am working on and my favorite will eventually be posted.

Huli Huli Chicken
huli huli chicken

This was a practice run for our upcoming Blogger Party (click here for details).  I was using the America's Test Kitchen version but divided the finishing sauce so I could use it as a baste too.  Using several quesadilla baskets like the one shown, it lets me "turn turn" (huli huli) the chicken frequently and easily so I will be able to crank a bunch out in a short period of time at the party.  Will be a future post after the party with better pictures.

T-bone steaks

T-bone steaks, big green egg, GrillGrates steak,

grilled steak, wedge salad, garlic roll, grilled t-bone, steak with compound butter

I got a good deal on two pretty T-bones (closer to Porterhouse steaks) at Food City.   Seasoned with salt and pepper, grilled and then topped with a compound butter using Dizzy Pig Cowlick seasoning.  This was just a quickie. 

While all of this stuff doesn't make it to the blog, I do post almost everything on my Nibble Me This Facebook page .  If you want to see behind the scenes, trial and error kind of stuff, follow that page.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beer Basted Bratwursts in Pretzel Buns

There are a lot of inspirational basketball movies, such as Hoosiers, Coach Carter, and Semi-Pro.  Okay, Semi-Pro might not be inspirational, but it is funny.  But in almost every basketball movie, what does the coach have to convince the team to do?  Play back to basics, fundamental basketball.  Fundamentals.  

Fundamental is where I went with Round 2 of Brat-ketology during last weekends tournament games.  I mean, how much more fundamental can you get than the flavor pairings of brats, pretzels, beer, and mustard?

Beer Basted Brats with Pretzel Buns


Ingredients (serves 5)
  • 1 package Johnsonville Original Bratwursts
  • 5 Pretzel hot dog buns (link to recipe below)
  • 1/3 cup honey mustard sauce
  • 1 beer
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to medium heat.
  2. Mix together beer, hot sauce, pepper and salt. Place in a stoneware or tin pie pan on the grill.
  3. Grill bratwursts 15-20 minutes, turning frequently. Each time you turn, dip them and roll them in the beer baste.
  4. Serve on the pretzel roll, drizzled with honey mustard.
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Pretzel rolls have been all the rage among food sites and blogs the past few years and it was something that I have been wanting to try.   I ended up picking this recipe from and pretty much followed it as written but baked them on Alexis' Big Green Egg.

The Thermapen making sure my water for yeast was between 120-130f.

Weighing dry ingredients is more accurate for baking.
 The roll recipe calls for having water in the oven when baking.  Normally I bake in the Egg with the plate setter "legs down".  In this case, I put it in legs up, a pie pan with water on it, topped that with a cooking grate and then a pizza stone.  

Cornmeal on the pizza stone keeps it from sticking.

Wow.  Aren't those ugly?  But they tasted good, kind of like pumpernickel.

Dipping the brats each turn keeps them moist and bastes on layers of flavor.

Simple.  But good.

The buns had great flavor but the downside was that there was too much bread to brat ratio.  Next time I would shape the buns smaller perhaps. I want the bread to be a supporting player, the brat is the point guard.

[Standard Disclaimer]  I am on Johnsonville's Big Taste Grillers Panel and received these bratwursts at no charge.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Brat-ketology Round 1: Chicken Sausage Bruschetta

With some major upsets this past weekend in college basketball, a lot of brackets were busted in office pools across the nation.  That's why I am glued to the games during the tournament, anything can happen.  Cinderella stories and heart breakers keep it interesting.  

For game day eats this past weekend, instead of "bracketology" that the commentators debate, we did "brat-ketology" pairing a few sausage dishes.  For the first round, I made up some Chicken Sausage Bruschetta that were easy and simple.

Chicken Sausage Bruschetta

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min

Ingredients (14 bruschetta)
    You'll need
    For the cheese topping
    • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
    • 6 Tbsp butter
    • 3 oz neufchatel or cream cheese
    • 1 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • pinch each of salt, pepper, garlic powder
    1. Preheat a charcoal grill to medium-low.
    2. Mix cheese topping ingredients together and set aside.
    3. Cook sausages according to directions. Slice into thin slices at an angle.
    4. Increase grill temperature to medium-high. Toast bread slices on one side only and remove.
    5. Place pizza stone on the grill to preheat.
    6. Top the toasted side of the bread with the cheese mixture and a few slices of sausage.
    7. Place on heated pizza stone and cook 6-8 minutes or until the bottom of the bread is toasted and the cheese mixture soft and "melty".
    8. Drizzle with buffalo sauce and serve.
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    Your butter and cheese should be at room temperature for easier mixing.

    The chicken sausage has 50% less fat than pork sausage and the Neufchatel cheese has about a third less fat than cream cheese.

    Gratuitous grill shot.
    Make sure your pizza stone gets hot before putting the toasts on or your tops will be done before your bottoms get crispy.

    I was a dork and couldn't resist drawing a bracket on the white board. 

    Doing a simple grilled toast like this is a game day favorite of mine.  It is fast, flexible and inexpensive.  It can be prepared ahead and then just assembled & grilled onsite if you are tailgating.  

    Coming up for Round 2:  Beer Basted Brats in Pretzel Buns.

    [Standard DisclaimerI am a member of Johnsonville's Big Taste Grillers Panel and as such, get free and new products to try; however, I paid full price for these sausages. 

    Sunday, March 24, 2013

    Wally Wings - 5 Ingredient Grilled Wings

    How would you like to win a trip to this year's Memphis In May BBQ championship?   How about grilling lessons from World Champion pitmasters Chris Lilly and Melissa Cookston? 

    All you have to do is go to and enter your idea for 5 ingredients and a clever recipe name for the Kingsford One Bite Challenge for a chance to win.  You don't have to post pictures, a full recipe or anything.  Just the 5 ingredients and the title.  Walt S. of McKenzie, TN did that and this is what he offered:

    Wally Wings
    • chicken wing drummettes
    • hot sauce
    • sugar
    • minced garlic
    • red pepper flakes
    Here is my spin on Walt's wings.  I used turbinado sugar to avoid the sugar burning, general wing pieces,  and used buffalo sauce.   This is a good one for the basketball games going on.  

    Wally Wings

    inspired by Walt S, McKenzie TN
    Prep Time: 10 min
    Cook Time: 50 min

    Ingredients (24 wings)
    • 1 dozen chicken wings, tips removed and cut into drumettes/wingettes
    • 2 Tbsp turbinado sugar
    • 1 tsp dried minced garlic
    • 1 tsp red pepper flake
    • buffalo wing sauce, to taste
    1. Set up a charcoal grill for indirect heat and preheat to 400f.
    2. Season the wings with the rub. Grill 20 minutes per side.
    3. Toss with the buffalo sauce.
    4. Grill direct over the coals until the sauce is set and wings are an internal temp of 170f, about 5-7 minutes.
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    Is buffalo sauce a single ingredient?  It is, if the the rules don't say it isn't!  You can used a bottled buffalo wing sauce.  The basic buffalo sauce that I use is 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup cayenne hot sauce, and 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce.

    I'll be at Memphis In May this year, privileged to be on the best team, Too Sauced To Pork.  You may have seen the team earlier this year on Cooking Competitions: Exposed on the Travel ChannelIf you are there, stop by and say hello.

    Thursday, March 21, 2013

    Leftover Ham: Cheesy Ham Pot Pies

    Leftover ham is a wonderful problem to have. After 5 days of eating ham, last night Trevor still said this was the best ham ever. 

    This has been one of our favorite leftover ham recipes.  The crispy pie crust gives way to reveal that hot creamy interior that is so delicious. 

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham

    You can serve it as a whole pot pie or make it for individual serving sizes.    The 1.5 cup ramekin size would be good for someone with a huge appetite.  For us, the perfect individual size is doing this in a large muffin tin.

    Cheesy Ham Pot Pies

    Prep Time: 1 hour
    Cook Time: 30 minutes

    Ingredients (4 medium or 6 small pot pies)
    • 1 pie crust recipe (I used Cream Cheese Crust from the book Savory Pies by Greg Henry)
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup onion
    • 2 T jalapeno, seeded diced
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cup beef stock
    • 1/2 cup half and half
    • 3 oz block colby jack, shredded
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1/2 tsp season salt
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp red pepper flake
    • 2 1/2 cups diced ham
    • 2 cups frozen mixed veggies
    1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 425f, set up for indirect heat. (For Big Green Egg, platesetter legs down, use a spacer between the plate setter and pie pans.)
    2. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter and saute onion and chile for 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to form a roux. Whisk in the stock, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until well blended each time. Whisk in the half and half.
    3. Add the cheese to the mixture in small batches, stirring until well blended. Add the seasonings and taste the sauce. Adjust with salt/pepper as needed. Stir in the ham and veggies, remove from heat.
    4. For single large pot pie - Place bottom crust in a greased 9" stoneware pie pan. Pour pie filling in. Top with the top crust and seal edges with a fork. Slice or poke holes in top.
    5. For large individual pot pies - Cut pie dough discs into uneven fourth's as shown in the pictures. Roll one of the larger fourths into a 6" circle and fit into 1.5 cup greased ramekin. Fill to the top with the ham mixture. Roll one of the smaller fourths into a 3-4" circle and top the ramekin. Seal edges with a fork. Repeat with three more ramekins.
    6. For medium sized individual pot pies - do as above but divide dough into sixths. and use a large muffin tin.
    7. Baste with egg-wash. Bake on the grill until he crust is golden and crispy, about 30-40 minutes.
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    For the ramekin version, cut in half and then off center because the bottom crust needs to be bigger than the top.

    For the muffin pan version, we just cut into sixths.

    rolled dough, Nibble Me This
    Don't worry about them being perfectly round when you roll them out.  Unless you're into that kind of thing.

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham
    Fill to the top and then cover up.

    While making the rest and getting ready, I covered each with a moist paper towel to keep the top crust from drying out.

    Pinch and crimp, pinch and crimp.

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham
    The spacers between the plate setter and pan keep the bottoms from burning.  The "spacers" are just some stainless steel hooks but you could use many things like a trivet.

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham
    Better shot of the spacers under the ramekins here.

    Like with any pies, cover the edges with foil after a while for even browning.

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham
    Steamy and delicious!

    Cheese Ham Pot Pies, leftover ham, Easter, Big Green Egg ham

    What is your favorite way to use up leftover ham?

    Monday, March 18, 2013

    How I Cook Ham on the Grill

    "...then hang them in the house and neither bats nor worms will touch them."

    I was going to be all "Hey guys, Easter is just around the corner, time to break out the ham recipes" and stuff but I found that opening quote much more shocking.  

    That quote is from Marcus Porcius Cato in 50 BC writing about how the Romans cured hams in his treatises on Roman farm management.  From the old days until relatively recently, hams were made basically the same way.  They were cured in huge clay jars or containers for days and weeks, then smoked and aged.  Now most are injected with a witch's brew of nitrites and tumbled to expedite the process to just a few hours.

    I did a test run on a ham this weekend and thought I would write up how I prepare hams on the grill.

    Preparing the Grill (I use a Big Green Egg)
    • As with any cook longer than an hour, I make sure to clean out the grill, removing ashes and unused coal.  I make sure that the vent intakes are all clear.
    • For a ceramic grill, I load it with coal and 5 or 6 chunks of wood or 2 cups of wood chips (I don't soak either).   I prefer straight hickory for hams.  Why do I like a blend of hickory and fruit woods for ribs and shoulder but not ham?  I dunno.  I just do. 
    • Once my fire approaches 200f, I slowly start closing the vents and try to let the temp coast up to 250f.  Then I put the plate setter in, legs up, with a drip pan on it and the grill grate*** on top of that.  
    • For a kettle grill or offset smoker (Brinkmann, Charbroil, etc), I'd set it up indirect for a "fuse style" burn (aka Minion method).   See this link at for how to do indirect set ups. 

    I do a layer of coal, a layer of wood chips and repeat several times until the grill is full.

    Meat Prep
    • Selection - There are a ton of hams out there.  
      • Fresh - this is just the upper part of the back leg of a pig, no curing, smoking or aging.  
      • City hams - most popular style in American, cured and boiled or smoked, partially or fully cooked
      • Country hams - Cured, smoked and aged, required to be cooked before eating.  
      • Picnic ham - from the front leg (picnic) instead of the back, it is less tender and has more fat
      • Boneless hams - Some are deboned pieces of ham, they are okay.  But most are chunks of ham formed together, I consider them the McRib of hams and try to avoid them.  
      • Specialty hams - Black forest ham, prosciutto, tasso, various European hams
    • I like to get a semi-boneless, fully cooked half ham about 7-8 pounds.  I prefer the butt half instead of the shank half because it is meatier and gives nice big contiguous slices of ham.   I avoid spiral sliced hams, only because I like the control of slicing them myself.  
    • Brine - None.  They have already been cured/brined by the supplier.
    • Injection - Can NOT do this this a spiral sliced ham.  I took Chris Lilly's pork shoulder injection and modified it for ham as follows:  3/4 c water, 1/2 c pineapple juice, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce.   I place the ham cut side down and inject all over the ham every 2 inches or so.  I do this an hour before it goes on the smoker/grill.
    • Rub - I take a basic BBQ rub that is high in sugar and low in salt (I modified Melissa Cookston's Quick and Easy rub) and then add a pinch or two of ground allspice and cloves.  It takes 3 - 4 Tbsp. I don't use a binder, I just slather any of the leaked injection around the ham before rubbing it.
    Notice the plastic still on ham.  It helps minimize wayward squirts.

    Season heavily on all sides except the cut end.

    • Once the smoker/grill is stable at 250f, I put the ham, cut side down, on the grill cooking grate (on the side without coals if you are using a kettle style grill) and cook with the lid closed.
    • I monitor the internal temperature of the ham using a remote probe thermometer.  
    • Glaze - Once the ham reaches an internal temp of 135f (about 3 1/2 hours), I place it in a stoneware pie pan (just to keep my grill clean) and glaze the ham with a cola glaze (4:3 ratio of brown sugar to cola) and continue cooking until the ham reaches an internal temp of 145f.  
    Sure, you could just cook it in the oven but double smoked is the way to go in my opinion. 

    The pie pan is just to keep the grill from being a mess with the cola glaze.

    • Not a lot is needed here.  Just slice and serve.
    • My favorite sides for ham are a genre that I call "church social".  Casseroles, macaroni salads, and rolls.  
    Almost too pretty to slice.  Almost.

    This isn't even 1/2 of the ham.

    • Ham might be the best food for re-working leftovers.
      • First, you can eat it cold, straight out the fridge.  Late at night.  In the dark.  Wearing only boxer shorts.  Don't judge me.
      • Thy Daily Bread.  Thinly sliced, it works in sandwiches from basic ham and cheese to fancy classics like Croque Madam and Monte Cristos.  
      • Green Eggs and Ham.  You don't have to eat it on a boat with a goat, but ham and eggs have tons of possibilities like omelets, breakfast burritos, or egg scrambles.  
      • Casserole Central.  There are more ham casserole recipes out there than stars in the sky.  As Carl Sagan would say, "Billions and billions..."  and most of them are great comfort food (maybe not great for you).
    • I made a cheesy ham pot pie with some leftovers that I will be posting later this week.

    So what are your favorite ham tips or ham recipes?  

    ***Grill grate vs cooking grid - Yes I know that Big Green Egg refers to the grill cooking grate as "a cooking grid".  I saw someone on the forum mock someone for calling it a grill grate.  Everyone else calls it a grill grate. If a car manufacture decided to call the steering wheel for their cars a "navigation disc", I'm still calling it a steering wheel.  

    Thursday, March 14, 2013

    One Bite Challenge - My Spin

    Want an all expenses paid trip to the 2013 Memphis In May BBQ Contest?  Stay tuned until the end of this post. 

    Just another reminder that the Kingsford Invitational BBQ contest will be on television March 17 on the  Destination America network at 10PM (Eastern).  That's this Sunday if you don't have a calendar handy.

    That contest took the winners of 2012's biggest BBQ events (Memphis in May, Jack Daniels, American Royal, etc) and pitted them against each other for a winner take all $50,000 best of barbecue championship.  One of curve balls about this competition was a "One Bite Challenge" on the opening night.  Not only was this challenge worth a $5,000 bonus but it also gave them a massively important 1 point lead in the overall judging. 
    The rules, from what I recall, were that the recipe had to pack in the most flavor
    1. In one bite
    2. with just 5 ingredients 
    3. cooked over a glowing bed of Kingsford coal fired grill in one hour. 
    Here is what my attempt would have been in that event.   These are a spin on the "Turtle Eggs" that I normally do with pork sausage and bbq seasonings.  

    Greek Turtle Eggs
    yield:  12 appetizer portions

    • 1  lb ground chuck
    • 1.5 tsp Greek seasoning
    • 3 oz Neufchatel cheese 
    • 3 oz Feta cheese with tomato and basil
    • 3 oz Non-fat Greek yogurt
    1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 400f.
    2. Mix together 1 oz feta cheese and 3 oz of Greek yogurt together in a food processor until thin and set aside.
    3. Make a quick beef sausage by mixing the ground chuck and 1.5 tsp of Greek seasoning.  
    4. Mix the cheese stuffing by mixing 4 oz of the neufchatel cheese and 2 oz of seasoned Feta.
    5. Divide the meat mixture into 12 equal ping pong ball sized portions (about 1.5 oz each) and press into  disks.   Top each disk with half teaspoon bit of the cheese mixture.  Bring up the edges and seal the seams.
    6. Grill over direct heat for 10 minutes in a grill pan, turning frequently after the first minute.
    7. Serve with the yogurt sauce.
    The competitors played a little loose with Rule # 2 by counting things like "BBQ rub" or "Sweet Chile Sauce" as a single ingredient.  So I won't say that I was cheating here.  Let's just say that I "leveraged any ambiguity in the established guidelines in advantage of my favor" by using the Feta cheese that was already loaded with seasonings.

    The patty should be the size of a thin small hamburger bun.

    One method for cooking meatballs on the grill is a specialized basket.

    Another method is using a basic grill pan.

    Have an idea of what YOU would make if you had a great prize at stake?  Here is your chance.  Kingsford is giving one lucky winner a trip to the 2013 Memphis In May BBQ Contest.  Just go to and enter the One Bite Challenge giveaway.