Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smoked Pork and Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas

Don't you love the aroma of fresh chiles roasting over a fire?  I have a Pavlovic response to it, in literal terms of the word.  One day soon I want to attend a big chile festival, where hundreds of chiles are being tossed and roasted in drums, just so I can overdose on that smell.

Recently, we ordered a batch of fresh Hatch green chiles from The Hatch Green Chile Store.  A friend of ours, Kirk of AlbuKirky Seasonings, just happened to order us some fire roasted Hatch green chiles as a surprise from the same store...at the same time.  So picture me confused when I get two shipments a day apart.  I thought Alexis had accidentally ordered the fire roasted ones when she was first browsing the site while she insisted she didn't.  Fortunately Kirk let us in on his secret and Alexis got to say "I told you so".  I hate it when she's always right ;)

You can't have too many green chiles, in my experience.  They disappear quickly into soups, sauces, on grilled meats, and on scramble eggs and - well about anything.  I have fire roasted about half and the other half I dehydrated to use to make some green chile rubs.

When I made my Hatch Green Chile Sauce and Tex-Mex smoked pork in the previous two posts, I made it with this idea in mind - to make a green chile enchilada sauce for smoked pork enchiladas that are fire roasted on the kamado grill.

Smoked Pork and Hatch Green Chile Enchiladas
Makes:  4 servings

  • 2 cups chopped TexMex Smoked Pork
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces pepper jack cheese cut into 8 slices about 1" x 4" 
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese 
  • Garnish ideas:  cilantro, cotija cheese, Mexican crema, green onions
For The Green Chile Enchilada Sauce
  1. Make the Enchilada Sauce:  Preheat a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Add the Hatch Green Chile Sauce, heavy cream, and Albukirky Casa Seasoning and stir together. Reduce heat to low and maintain sauce warm but below a simmer.  (Note:  You will add the Mexican crema later.)
  2. Set up your grill for indirect heat and preheat to 375 F. 
  3. Lightly grease a half sized foil steam pan (or a medium sized casserole dish). Ladle enough of the Green Chile Enchilada Sauce to LIGHTLY coat the bottom of the pan, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup. 
  4. Assemble the Enchiladas:  Dip a tortilla in the warm enchilada sauce until warm and flexible, about 6-7 seconds.  Remove and place on a flat surface.  Place a piece of cheese down the middle and top evenly with 1/4 cup of the chopped smoked pork.  Roll up edges and place seam side down in the foil pan.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.  
  5. Fold the Mexican crema into the remaining sauce.  Taste for seasoning and add a little salt if needed.  Ladle enough of the sauce to lightly cover the tops of the enchiladas.  Reserve the remaining sauce and keep warm over very low heat.
  6. Cover the pan with foil and place on the grill, lid closed, for 20 minutes.    
  7. Carefully remove the pan from the grill and remove the cover.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese. Return pan, uncovered, to the grill.  Close the grill lid and cook until the tops are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.  
  8. Remove from the grill, drizzle the remaining sauce over the middle of the enchiladas and serve.
For the pork, I made my Tex-Mex style smoked pork butt, which is super easy and has a good flavor profile for using in nachos, tacos, and enchiladas. But if you don't want to bother with smoking your own pork, you can just buy some pulled pork from the grocery store or a BBQ joint as long as it isn't drowned in BBQ sauce.

Silicone tipped tongs like this makes shuttling the tortillas in and out of the warm sauce easier without tearing the softened tortillas.  Note:  In this picture we were just warming the tortillas in warmed cream that we added to the sauce later.  The next time we just did it all together as written in the recipe.  Both ways seem to work just fine.

Tex-Mex pork
Soaking the tortillas first makes them pliable so they roll without breaking.

8 fit perfectly in a half steam pan but you can use a casserole dish if you are so inclined.

Tex-Mex Pork, green chile sauce
I think this sauce would also be great with cilantro added into it but my family doesn't like cilantro so I skipped it this time.

indirect, BGE, Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Vision, Primo, Grill Dome
Indirect set up for a kamado grill.  This time I am using The Raiser (Innovations by Chance), a pizza stone, and my favorite Craycort cast iron grate.
Then the pan goes right over the pizza stone/heat deflector for even, indirect fire roasting.

Indirect set up if you are using a gas grill.  Notice only the far right burner is on.  Grill lid would be closed while grilling with this set up, I just have it open for the example on my Char-Broil Gourmet TRU-Infrared.

Indirect set up if you are using a kettle style charcoal grill.  The pan shown just keeps the coal to the sides.  The enchilada pan goes on the cooking grate directly above the lower pan and then you shut the grill lid.

The kamado grill makes it easy to hold my temp of 375°F once it is stablized.

Big Green Egg roasting

It is finished when the edges get a little crispy.

These were so good that we made them twice in a week.  The green chile rice that we served with them was just basic rice pilaf with onions with 1/4 cup of my hatch green chile sauce substituted for some of the stock I normally use.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post and paid full price for our hatch chiles from The Hatch Chile Store.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tex-Mex Style Smoked Pork

Two weekends ago, Alexis and I traveled to Decatur, AL, the home of Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue, to be judges at the KCBS BBQ contest at Riverfest 2014.  Despite sampling 6 portions each of chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and brisket, I wanted to make some of my own BBQ.  When we got home I fired up my Big Green Egg to smoke a pair of pork butts that I had.  Since I had just eaten a lot of competition bbq with sweet/heat flavor profiles, I decided to make my Tex-Mex style pulled pork with one of the butts.  

Barbecue folks often use leftover pulled pork on/in tacos, burritos, enchiladas, nachos, and quesadillas and that works well.  But I like making this Tex-Mex style with a flavor profile that already matches those dishes.

This is probably the easiest smoked pork butt that I make because it uses a pre-made rub and has only limited preparation - no special trimming, injections, brines, or any of that stuff.  I just trim off any excess fat cap and then heavily rub the pork butt with AlbuKirky Seasonings Green Chile Rub.  That's it, prep is done.  UPDATE:  Use the coupon code NIBBLE when ordering AlbuKirky Seasonings through their website and get a 15% discount!!

When I got ready to set up my kamado grill for the smoking, I realized that I was out of hardwood chunks.  No problem, I just took some of the 16" hickory logs from the pile for The Warthog (stick burner) and made 1" x 1" x 16" splits with it.  When I use small wood splits like this in the kamado, I first put three in that are angled up from the charcoal grate to the firebowl top like this.  This way they are traveling up, down, in, and out of the coal so I'm always getting some wood smoke as the fire burns through the coals.

Yes, that's a cracked bowl.  Big Green Egg will replace it under warranty, but I'll keep using it until when/if it actually breaks.  I cleaned the ashes seen under the fire grate out before lighting.

Then I put in some lump coal and a few more splits like below.  Then I top it off with lump coal to a little above the fire bowl (below the fire ring).

Then I just smoke them for about 1 1/2 hours per pound at 250°F so these 8 pounders took about 12 hours. Because the kamado grill is so efficient, I don't have to add fuel at all for the 12 hours.  At low temps like this, it can burn as long as 20 hours on a single load of coal.

Here's a cool idea.  At the Franklin BBQ contest, it rained so much that Gilgamesh himself said it was too wet and my dad fashioned this plastic storage box as a way to keep the connection of two extension cords dry.  He just cut a small chunk out of one end and then covered it with a duct tape flap so the cords can pass through. Turns out this box also works perfectly to keep my electronics clean and dry.

Here it is holding two of my Thermoworks Chef Alarm remote probe thermometers and the controller unit for my Auber Instruments blower.  It is easy for storms to sneak up while you are asleep during overnight cooks and even though the electronics are under a gazebo, wind often blows soaking rain onto the table.  This solves that problem and lets me sleep a little better.

Even closed, I can see the read out displays. 

The reason the Auber is reading about 220°F when I want 250°F is because of the temperature difference between the level of the cooking grate where the food is and where the temperature gauge which is mounted near the top of the kamado grill dome.  If I run the Auber set at about 220-225°F, my dome temp will be around 250°F.

The Auber is basically a little CPU that is connected to a temperature probe in the grill and a small fan connected to the bottom vent.  When the CPU detects the temperature inside the grill is less than I have set for the target temperature, it turns the fan on to heat up the coals.  So basically it minds the fire while I sleep.  
You don't need an controller/blower like this because a good kamado grill is perfectly capable of holding even temps with just the upper and lower vents. In fact, I wouldn't even recommend that you buy one until you have used your kamado grill for at least a year to master fire control first.  I use mine but about half of the time for cooks over 6 hours, they are nice for insurance on these overnight cooks. 

These butts finished right at the expected 12 hours.  The internal temperatures were 197°F and 198°F and the bone was protruding and wiggled easily.  That bone is like a pop up thermometer in a turkey only this is way more accurate.

You can't tell which butt is the green chile rubbed one and which is the regular BBQ rub one after they have cooked, can you?  From past experience I knew that would be an issue so I purposely connected the green Chef Alarm to the green chile rubbed butt so I'd be able to tell which is which. Doesn't really matter since you could tell by the taste and smell.

The metal clip in the center bottom is the temperature probe for the blower.
So I gave them the FTC treatment which means I wrapped each in foil (F), then a towel (T) and put them in an empty cooler or Cambro (C) for 1 to 4 hours.  The longer the rest the better for my tastes.  Here is the green chile butt after 4 hours in the Cambro.  Looks burnt?  No way, that color is flavor. 

Even after four hours in a cooler, pork butts are still hot to handle so I'm a big fan of these silicone gloves that have hit the market.  They make it easy to handle steaming hot food and break the butts down into pulled pork.

Just like regular smoked butts, this has nice bark, a good smoke ring, and is tender.  It just has a slightly different flavor profile that works better in Tex-Mex style recipes.

Decatur Riverfest 2014
Once again, the Decatur Riverfest was held in spectacular weather with mild temperatures and blue skies.   They put together a top notch event here and we were fortunate enough to be selected as BBQ judges for the pro side of this event on the banks of the Tennessee River in Alabama.

Entertainment and Food
This year Riverfest boasted live performances by 8 recording artists.  That alone is worth the price of admission but wait there's more;)

They had a free kids area with inflatable rides, monster balls, face painting, rock climbing, and Lowe's Kids Kits.  I couldn't convince the monster water balls operator that I was under 10 so they wouldn't let me play. 

Vendors and sponsors had booths set up.

Since public health laws prevent the competition teams from selling or giving out samples, there are plenty of BBQ and festival type food vendors on hand to make that stomach happy.

I don't care much for sweets but I have a serious weakness for deep fried festival foods. 

Team Signs & Names
We always get a kick out of the various names and displays of the BBQ competition teams.

Not every cool sign has to be professionally made...

One of my favorite teams, always!  They killed Kenny.

Overall winner of this year's Riverfest.

There was a wide range of smokers (aka cookers) there.  There seemed to be a higher percentage of kamado cookers at this contest compared to other events.  We have pretty much decided to switch to kamado grills for comps next year.  I love the stick burner but it's a lot of work and I don't know it as well as the kamado grills. 

A large Big Green Egg.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Quick Recipe: Hatch Green Chile Sauce

I have said this a lot, but barbecue people are some of the best people in the world.

Case in point, my fellow Egghead, Kirk Muncrief sent me a selection of his Albukirky Seasonings a while back.  He has a product line of sauces and seasonings that are pretty unique because of their Southwestern flare.  I've used them for years, the Green Chile Rub is a personal favorite and I used his Duke City Sweet in my brisket mop. To thank him, I did a series of product shots.  

Well, to thank me for that, Kirk must have remembered me saying how envious I was of his region and their Hatch chiles.  He sent me a large batch of fire roasted Hatch chiles.  It reminds me of the Alvin and the Chipmunks bit where they keep thanking each other ("Thank you", "No, thank you", "No, thank YOU!").

Anyway I was super excited to get these fragrant Big Jim chiles and the first thing I did was pull out my copy of Bill and Cheryl Jamison's book Tasting New Mexico.  You probably know of the Jamison's for their classic BBQ book Smoke and Spice.  Tasting New Mexico is a celebration of the foods from their home state and heavily relies on the fruit of New Mexico - chiles.  I planned to use a green chile sauce as an ingredient and condiment for several dishes so that was the first thing I made.

As written, this is a very mild green sauce.  If you want hot, double the Casa Seasoning and just leave the seeds in.  I did this with our first batch and it was way hotter than I expected. 

Hatch Green Chile Sauce
adapted from Tasting New Mexico - Bill & Cheryl Jamison 

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup seeded and diced fire roasted Hatch green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon Albukirky Casa Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ounce all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt to taste
  1. Preheat a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.  
  2. Add the butter and saute the onions for 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the chiles,  Albukirky Casa Seasoning, cumin, and flour.  Stir for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the chicken stock, bring to a slight boil, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Use an immersion blender or food processor to smooth out the sauce to your desired texture. 
  6. Simmer for 10 more minutes.  Taste and season with salt.  We used somewhere around 1/2 teaspoon, it didn't need much since there is already salt in Casa Seasoning.
Got everything ready to take outside.

We were having absolutely gorgeous early Fall weather with mild temps and brilliant blue skies so I cooked this batch outside on my Char-Broil TRU-Infrared Gourmet's side burner.  

 The smell that the chiles kick out when they hit the pan with the cumin is intoxicating.

AlbuKirky's Casa Seasoning is coarse sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and some other seasonings.  It's a wonderful all-purpose seasoning that I like to use when I'm just throwing chicken or beef on the grill.  It also works well as a base coat rub for pork ribs.  If you don't have it, you can substitute a garlic pepper seasoning or a house blend of salt, garlic, and pepper.

You can skip the stick blender if you like a more rustic sauce.  We did our first batch that way and it tasted just as good.  I just like the smoother texture.

This Hatch Green Chile Sauce is good on it's own as a condiment for pizza, burgers, and eggs.  But it is also a fantastic ingredient in marinades, TexMex foods, and soups.  This afternoon I think I'll use some to marinade some wings for the grill, just add some lime juice, red pepper flakes, and cilantro.

Coming up next I'll post about the fire roasted pork and green chile enchiladas we made twice last week using this sauce. 

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  While Kirk does give us rub and gave us the chiles, we also buy from him and I have known him since before he began selling his stuff. We are more Egghead and food blogging peers than this being any kind of a business relationship or sponsorship. 

Oh yeah, I also paid full Amazon price for Tasting New Mexico.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Porkopolis Eggfest 2014

A few weeks ago I got up before the crack of dawn, drove North across Kentucky, and attended the Porkopolis Eggfest in Cincinnati.

What's an Eggfest?  It is a regional get together of Big Green Egg aficionados.  There are demo cooks who cook on dealer supplied Big Green Eggs to provide food samples to the crowd.  These aren't (necessarily) professional cooks - most of these cooks are just people who love their Egg and the Egg community.  They create some amazing bites.  The "tasters" are the general public that buy a low cost ticket that gives them access to all of the entertainment and food that the festival offers.  

In addition to the food, there are often instructional cooking demonstrations, entertainment, vendors selling kamado related gear, and pre- and post-parties.  Best of all is that all of the Big Green Eggs that are used in the event are available for sale at cut rate prices after only being used that once.  It's a great place to get your first Egg or to pick up another one.

These fests can ranged from small local Eggfests with a handful of folks to the huge official Eggtoberfest thrown each year by the Mothership (Egger's term for "corporate"), so I didn't know what to expect for the Cincinnati Eggfest.  When I arrived at Germania Park, I was immediately impressed by the large amount of people.  

In addition to the main gazebo, they had apparently stolen some circus' big top tent to accommodate the crowds.  Organizer, Eddie Meiners, told me that they had 86 demo cook teams and expected 600-700 paid admissions!  That is the biggest Eggfest I have been to besides the corporate sponsored Eggtoberfest which draws thousands. 

Chef JJ brought his team and bad ass cooking trailer to do in depth cooking demos.  It's the first time I have gotten to see him work - he knows his stuff.

My friend, BBQ brethren, and fellow Char-Broil All Star - Curt McAdams was on hand to do demos for a browned butter fingerling potatoes, grilled peach bourbon iced tea, and a blackberry thyme crisp dessert.  You can find the recipes he used at his blog - Live Fire.  Next year, he and I are going to do a demonstration together, that will be fun!

Grilling fruit is a great way to bring out their flavor and natural sweetness.

There were lots of well equipped vendors present.  This is often my favorite part because I get to check out new products hands on.  

Super nice stainless steel grate with hinged access to the fire box.
 Wardway Grill and Pool shop was the Egg dealer on hand, supplying all of the demo eggs and selling all of their accessories.  I bought a new large table cover from them to replace the 6 year old one that I have.  If you're in that area, check them out for your grill and pool needs.

My favorite vendor was Innovations by Chance.   I had communicated online with Mike Chance but it was good to meet him in person.  He has some exciting ideas for pimping out your kamado grill.

I think this is called the Fishbone, it is a stainless charcoal grate designed to prevent clogged air holes that happen with the stock cast iron coal grates for many kamado grills.

Mike showing his cast iron plate setter for the Large Big Green Egg.

The Raiser serves as a grid raiser and a spider rig.  Talk about multi-functional!
The live entertainment was very cool.  How many Eggfest have YOU seen that have alphorn players?