Saturday, January 2, 2016

My Traeger & cook area

Below you see my cooking equipment, my Traeger 07E, to the left is a gas cooker w/cast iron skillet & to the right is a fish friar on the cabinet.
Since this photo I have added a Weber Q100 gas grill. Below that you see a photo of me & my faithful companion. Click on any photo to view larger size it opens in a slide viewer with all the photos in the post.

My Smokin Deck,I can cook rain or shine.

Set up for winter weather

Friday, January 1, 2016

Let's Talk BBQ, One Great Forum

Let’s Talk BBQ; no matter what you cook on this is one great forum for discussing BBQ and learning about BBQ. Whether you use a grill, smoker, or other type of cooker, using gas, wood, charcoal, or electric for fuel there is a place for you there.

Their rules are pretty simple; just treat others the way you want to be treated. Leave your ego at home and have fun learning and discussing cooking and food in a family way.

Most members are from the USA but they are slowly getting some international members. I know of two from Australia and one each from Germany and S. Africa. There may be some from England. I like this since we can learn about other recipes and ways to do BBQ than in our own country.

The forum is laid out well; there are different sections for each style cooker, a recipe section, a general section, a place for sausage making and a place for other hobbies. There are a lot of knowledgeable members there now.

I do most all my BBQ on my Traeger wood pellet smoker; but can adapt most recipes from other types of cookers. I use it year around and do most all of the cooking for my wife and I.

So; if you want to talk BBQ get over there sign up and join in the fun of cooking and eating some good BBQ.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Easy Scrapple

Jan 29 2015

This version of scrapple is more user friendly! It does not contain the usual pork offal, trimmings, head meat, heart and liver that the original was made from. Some even cooked the whole head. Scrapple came from the Pennsylvania Dutch and was cooked down, cornmeal added to thicken, poured into loaf pans and left to set up. It was then sliced and fried.

Some of the old German family butchers around here still make pan pudding, similar to scrapple but thickened with steel cut oats. I buy some from my butcher Kah Meats the they call grits. I buy it a couple times a year to fry for breakfast.

I have wanted to try scrapple for a long time and looking around the net I see a lot of recipes for the scrapple made with good meat. They use cut up pork butt, along with smoked sausage or fresh hocks. You could use smoked ham hocks and I would think it would have a ham taste. I chose to use ground pork and smoked sausage to make it as easy as I could.

I used two pounds of ground pork and a pound of smoked sausage. I boiled it in water with some sage for 1 ½ hours. I had cut up the smoked sausage in short links and split one side for the fat to render out better. After the 1 ½ hours I removed the smoked sausage and chopped by pulsing in my food processor.
I added it and the seasonings back in and cooked another ½ hour then stirred in the cornmeal. It was poured into loaf pans a let set overnight in the fridge.

I saw where you could put parchment paper in the bottom leaving some on the end to make it easy to pull out after setting out. Forget that; it did not work even after loosening the sides. I ended up banging it on my cutting board as usual.

I fried a slice of it this morning along with some eggs for my breakfast. I was not too hungry so only fried one slice. It was so good after eating wished I had done two slices. I will vacuum seal and freeze most of the two loaves for later breakfasts.

Click here for printable scrapple recipe

Some of the ingredients

Meat in the pot with water and sage

Thyme, sea salt, 4 pepper corn blend and white pepper

Sausage removed to chop and seasoning added

Chopped sausage

All in with the cornmeal to thicken

In loaf pans to cool

A slice for my breakfast

My breakfast

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Cheesy Baked Mush w/ Beef Braciole and Italian Gravy

Jan 27 2015

I had a loaf of cornmeal mush and about half left after frying some that needed used. I looked at some grits and polenta recipes and came up with one to use what I had on hand. I melted a couple pats of butter in a 10 inch casserole dish; I sliced the mush a good ¼ inch and made a layer. I beat an egg and added about 1 ½ cups cottage cheese, mixed up and layered over the mush. I added a layer of some shredded sharp cheddar and some Colby jack.

I put in another layer of mush and sprinkled some Penzey’s sandwich seasoning; any good garlic based seasoning salt will work. I finished it with a good layer of shredded triple cheddar. It went uncovered into a preheated oven at 325 deg. for an hour. If I was choosing the cheese I would go with shredded gruyere or Swiss on the bottom, mozzarella and parmesan on the top. For this I used what cheese I had on hand.

I had a beef braciole thawed that had been seasoned with Tee’s Top Secret seasoning and smoked on my Traeger. It went into a casserole dish with some left over Italian gravy and in the oven with the mush.

When that was done I toasted some garlic bread under the broiler, sliced the beef and served. The wife and I both liked it. The beef was tender and all tasted good with some of the Italian gravy over. The daughter in law stopped in before picking up the grandson at a friend’s house and ate some of the mush casserole with the Italian gravy and said it was good.

Making up the mush layers

Braciole and gravy

Mush is done

My supper

Grits or Polenta or Mush?

Jan 26 2015

I get hungry for some fried cornmeal mush and when I fix some and post on Let’s Talk BBQ forum someone always asks what mush is. Grits are pretty widely known especially in the south; from the east coast to Texas. If you were born or lived there you know what grits are.

Grits, polenta and mush are made from boiling cornmeal in water in their simplest form. Grits can be made from yellow or white cornmeal, fine ground or coarse stone ground. Polenta; I have only seen it made with yellow cornmeal but can be fine ground or coarse stone ground.

Cornmeal mush I have only seen it made with yellow cornmeal and any grind. It is made from cooking the cornmeal and water down pretty thick then pouring in a loaf pan and let set up in the fridge. It is then sliced a thickness you like and fried in oil, butter or bacon grease. It is usually eaten for breakfast.

Cornmeal mush I think came from the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Amish. It is mostly known in the mid-west. I grew up having mush a lot for breakfast, usually with bacon and eggs. We always asked Mom to fry it crisp. To get it crisp you have to cut it just ¼ inch thick and takes about 10 minutes on each side on medium heat. I like to fry it in bacon grease and then just add salt and pepper; some like it with maple syrup and I do have it that way at times.

I never had grits until I was in Turkey with the USAF. I was on a Turkish AFB with a small detachment of about 70 men. Our cook was from Texas and he fixed grits about every morning and usually he had ham and red eye gravy once a week. Simple red eye gravy is to just pour in some black coffee after frying ham and scraping up all the brown bits. You then have it over the ham and the grits. That is a taste treat.

Polenta is Italian and tastes the same as grits. They didn’t grow corn there until they imported it from the Americas. They use it in many different dishes and for any meal. If you search Italian polenta recipes they will call for a batch of soft polenta or a batch of hard. The hard polenta is made the same way as mush.

I think that grits are still mostly a breakfast item here but you are seeing more different recipes in the past 10 years. Shrimp and grits is a popular one and I have made shrimp and sausage over grits. Lately I have seen some different baked grits recipes too. There are recipes to cook some grits and then pour on a sheet pan and in the fridge to set up. You then slice in squares and fry like I do the mush. I like to use stone ground grits and prefer white if just a breakfast side; I like the yellow if having something over them. Sometimes I will use milk in place of water for creamier grits and like adding cheese too.

This is just my thoughts on the subject and wanted to let all know what cornmeal mush is and whether you have grits or polenta; it’s the same dang thing! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Italian Gravy for Meatballs and Fried Ravioli

Jan 24 2015

It has been ages since I made some Italian gravy. The recipe is from the Frugal Gourmet. I used to watch his show and have most of his cookbooks. I liked the guy until I found out he liked little boys. I made a batch early so it was ready to use for supper. It makes a large batch and will keep about a week. I will freeze some of mine too. The gravy would be great with any BBQ meats too.

I had bought some Italian meatballs at Krogers that looked good, Margharita brand. I got the idea of fried ravioli from the Mississippi Current cookbook and followed a recipe by Giada of food network for using frozen cheese ravioli.

Toasted or fried ravioli comes from the Italians in St. Louis. When I hear St. Louis I think of ribs and BBQ but the fried ravioli is another favorite food there.

I breaded the ravioli ahead; dipping in buttermilk then coating with Italian seasoned breadcrumbs. I shallow fried them in a skillet with ½ inch of olive oil at 325-350 deg. about 1 ½ minutes per side. The meatballs I placed in a skillet and in my convection oven at 375 deg. for 20 minutes turning half way. I then poured the grease off and wiped out the skillet, put the meatballs back in and poured some Italian gravy over and heated up while I did the ravioli.

The grandson was here since his Mom had to go in for work and his Dad was working. I served the meatballs in a bowl with some of the gravy to dip the ravioli in too. I warmed up some of the Red Lobster biscuits to have too. The wife and I liked the ravioli but the grandson wasn’t crazy about them. He ended up eating 5 meatballs though!

The daughter in law didn’t get here until 7:00. I had 3 ravioli left so heated up the oil and fried them for her. She made a salad and had a biscuit. She liked the ravioli.  The ravioli would make a great appetizer or part snack too. It is usually served with marinara sauce and I think ranch or blue cheese dressing would be good too.

Click here for printable Italian Gravy recipe

Ingredients for the gravy

Sauteing the veggies

Gravy on to simmer for two hours

Breading the ravioli

Meatballs baked

Italian gravy added

My supper

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Smoked Chicken Caesar Salad

Jan 23 2015

We had been eating beef so told the wife to get a whole chicken to do. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it but wanted some of the carcass for Italian gravy. I decided I would do a chicken Caesar salad for something a little lighter.

I had some old crusty bread and made some croutons that would be good in the salad. I drizzled on some olive oil and seasoned with Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle and toasted them in the oven. I had spatchcocked the chicken and in brine overnight in the fridge.

I rinsed and dried it this morning and back in the fridge to dry for 4 or 5 hours. I tucked a pat of butter under each breast and seasoned with some Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning and a little granulated garlic. I got it on the smoker at 3:30 at 200 deg. grill level for ½ hour then ½ hour at 270 deg. then ½ hour at 340 deg. to 170 deg. breast IT. I let it cool for about ½ hour before slicing the breasts for the salad.

I baked some Red Lobster cheese and garlic biscuits to have with the salad. I made each salad with ½ head of Romaine,  croutons, Newmans Own creamy Caesar dressing, sliced breast, and shaved parmesan. I nuked each breast skin for a crispy chicorone to top the salad.

It all tasted pretty good!


Ready for the smoker

About ready


My supper