Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year to All

Where ever you are I hope the New Year brings you peace, happiness and good luck. In most countries they have a dish that is traditionaly served on New Years Day and is suppose to bring good luck in the new year. I don't remember any at home while growing up, it was just another day & we probably had whatever Mother had to fix. About 30 years ago I ran into a friend at the grocery, he had a lone can of sauerkraut. I ask about it & he said I have to have sauerkraut on New Years Day for good luck. I picked up a can too and a tradition was born for me. That friend has passed away but I don't think I have missed a year since having pork & kraut on New Years Day. For this year I have some bratwurst, bockwurst, and some of the leftover Pernil Asada to cook with the kraut. My wife will fix some of her Knopfles, German drop noodles to add and I will fix mashed potatoes to serve it over.

Pork & Shrimp Fajitas and rice

I had cooked the Pernil Asada mainly for fajitas so last nights supper was pork & shrimp fajitas. I planned to have rice with them. I used to do my own rice dishes but getting lazy in my old age. More often now I use Zatarains or Uncle Bens preseasoned rice. It is just about as good as I can make & much easier. My wife chose Zatarains yellow rice to have.

I had a package of McCormicks premeasured seasonings all in one pack for garlic lime fajitas. There is enough to do about 2 lbs of chicken, pork, or beef for fajitas. I got the pork, enough for 4 fajitas, ready about 2 hours before cooking. Drizzled on a little olive oil & some of the seasoning I had mixed together; then back in the fridge. I cleaned my shrimp, deveined & shelled, a little olive oil & seasoning on them an hour ahead.

I washed a yellow & a green bell pepper, Sliced thin half of each one & about ¾ of a med. sweet onion. I got my rice on & heated a large skillet on med high, a little olive oil, & dumped in the onions & peppers; cooked them a few minutes. Then I added the pork. Cooked & stirred a few minutes. It looked like it could use a little tomato sauce so I squirted on some ketchup, about 3 TBS. Tomato sauce probably would have been better but this was quick. I stirred that up then added the shrimp & stirred that awhile. When the shrimp were done I poured in some beer to deglaze & steam.

The rice was done & I heated up 4 flour tortillas in the microwave. We assembled our fajitas, some of the pork & shrimp, a little fresh salsa, and sour cream. They were delicious, among the best fajitas I have made.

Tonight we are having pork sandwiches from the Pernil Asada, and left over rice. I will get some no knead bread started tonight to have with my New Years Day meal, pork & sauerkraut. Tomorrow night we are going out for a New Years eve buffet. A restaurant here, Marley’s Downtown is taking reservations all evening at different times, the late ones can stay for entertainment & to ring in the New Year. We have 6:00 PM reservations, and I will probably be in bed to ring in the New Year! My wife will be up watching TV, the ball coming down in Times Square.

Some Fajita ingredients

Onions & peppers

The Pork & Shrimp

Peppers & Onions Sauteing

Pork & Ketchup added

Steaming & Ready

My Fajita

My Plate

Smokin Don

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pernil Asada, (pork shoulder)

I have wanted to do something different on my smoker & found the perfect recipe to try at It was by Kathleen Squires, a free lance writer. She wrote a short article; Island Holiday: Christmas in Puerto Rico, and included 12 recipes for a Puerto Rican Christmas dinner.

I thought I could adapt her recipe for Pernil Asada to do on my Traeger smoker. It called for an eight pound pork shoulder picnic roast with skin on. I cannot get skin on at my butchers so went with a store bought one. It was nine & a quarter pounds & said 100 % natural; but then said 8% solution added. To me that is not all natural.

I washed it & then soaked in clean water for five hours in the fridge. I rinsed it & dried then in the fridge over a rack to air dry for five hours. Her recipe called for a marinade & do it in the fridge rotating every hour for six hours. I wanted to smoke mine for two hours so I mixed the dry ingredients along with a head of minced garlic and just used half the brown sugar; the other half I mixed with the wet ingredients.

After it had air dried I rubbed olive oil on the meat side & rubbed in 2/3 of the dry ingredients. I cut the 1 ½ X 1 inch deep slits in the skin side, poked in a head of garlic I had peeled & mashed then used the rest of the dry rub poking most into the slits. Wrapped it in foil & in the fridge to sit for six hours until cook time.

An hour ahead I injected some of the wet ingredients all over & let it sit. I got it on the smoker at 7:00 am & it is close to being done; 190 deg internal temp. After the two hours at 180 deg I placed it in a roaster pan. I had saved the rub & juice from its marinade & poured it over top and set the smoker to 300 deg. On my Traeger that would be about 325 deg grill level. After a half hour I started basting it with the wet ingredients every half hour until used up & then basted from the pan. Three hours into the cook I sliced the skin to try to get it crispier & render out some of the fat. When it hit 170 deg IT I quit basting it.
I pulled the roast when it hit 185 deg IT. I wasn’t watching close enough & the pan juices were burning from the sugar. I did add some water but was too late to save the pan juices. I had wanted to add some of it to the pork. The roast turned out fine. I cut all the skin off and trimmed the excess fat. It was tasty; melt in your mouth pork I sliced & cut the meat to use for fajitas & other dishes. I have the skin to crisp up for snacks and I had enough meat to fill the bowl in the photos and left enough meat on the bone for some good pork & beans later. I vacuum packed & froze it. Tomorrow nights supper will be fajitas & some kind of rice. I like this well enough to do again but won’t burn the pan juices next time.

A big thank you for sharing the recipe Kathleen!

A link to the recipe

My picnic roast

After the drying

After marinating

After smoke 180 deg for 2 hours

One hour at 300 deg.

After slicing the skin

All done

Trimmed & sliced into.

The finished product, fajitas to be.

Smokin Don

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

No Knead Bread Easy Method

I don’t remember exactly when I discovered no knead bread on the internet, about a year ago. The first loaf turned out fantastic, I did it in a large Pyrex baking dish with a lid. After I got my Lodge 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven I used it & that’s what I prefer to bake in now. Then I discovered if I lined it with parchment paper it didn’t need cleaning afterwards. Sometimes the folds will affect the edge shape of the loaf but doesn’t hurt it and the paper makes good handles for removing the bread from the pot. You don’t need corn meal but if you like it on the bottom of the crust, sprinkle some in there.

There are many recipes posted on the net but most are fairly close. I have settled on one that uses 2 ½ cups of flour. The first loaf I baked, after the first rise the recipe said place on a floured cloth to fold & get ready for the second rise. It is very sticky compared to normal bread dough and stuck to the cloth after the second rise. Then I started using a plastic cutting sheet & that worked better. I still found trying to do the fold & shaping with my hands was a chore to keep my fingers from sticking to it.

I then came up with this method. I mix the dough in one bowl for the first rise. I have a second bowl a Pyrex about the same size as my Dutch oven; I spray it with some olive oil then use a plastic spatula to dump the dough into it. I sprinkle on some flour and do two or three folds with my spatula, then let it rest for 15 minutes, and shape it using the spatula. Cover it with a damp towel for a second two hour rise.

I cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the Dutch oven. Preheat it in a 450 deg oven, without the parchment paper, for one half hour. Then poke the paper into the pot using the spatula, and just plop the dough into it. It doesn’t matter how it falls, it will do fine.
So now my hands never touch the dough from the start to the finish.

This loaf I used 1 1/8 cups of water. It came out a little on the flat side but was delicious. I may just try 1 cup of water on the next to see if it raises more.

I used a bread maker for awhile & it did pretty well for bread but I was never able to get the good texture and crispy crusts I love with the no knead bread.

Printable Bread Recipe

Mixed & Ready for the First Rise

This is what it should look like after the first rise.
This was after 16 hours.

In the second bowl, flour sprinkled over, & folded

Shaped and the spatula I use.

After the second rise.

In the Dutch oven & ready to bake.

All done baking

Cooling on a trivet.

A look at the inside, sliced.

Smokin Don

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Christmas Eve Dinner

I ordered a boneless prime rib roast from my butcher, 4 to 5 lbs, for my wife & my Christmas meal. I picked it up Tuesday it was just over 5 lbs. I plan to do it Christmas eve. I found a recipe by Guy Fieri from Food Network for a dry aged roast that looked simple. Most dry aging recipes call for controlled temps & humidity but this one looked much easier. His recipe called for wrapping the roast in cheese cloth, place on a wire rack & plate, in the fridge for 24 hours, remove the cloth & discard then wrap again & back in the fridge for 6 to 9 days. Trim off any unwanted fat & any discoloring before cooking.

My roast will only be aging for 4 days but Guy’s recipe was for a 7 to 10 lb roast. Since my roast is just 5 lbs I hope the 4 days will be enough to give it a flavor boost. Guy’s recipe has the seasoning & au jus but my plans are different. I will season my roast with salt, 4 color pepper corns, garlic, & a little oregano. My au jus will be beef broth, carrots & onions along with pan drippings.

It’s Christmas eve & our dinner is over. I am sitting here just slightly overstuffed! No one home for my Christmas dinner but the wife & I, we did talk to our children & grandson via video on Skype so it seems more like Christmas now.

It was a sunny day about 38 deg here so it was a good day to cook my aged prime rib roast on the smoker. I baked some no knead bread this morning and had baked potatoes and a shrimp salad. The shrimp salad was Key West pink shrimp on ice berg lettuce and a dressing of ½ Bookbinders shrimp cocktail sauce and ½ Hellmann’s real mayonnaise.

I unwrapped the cheese cloth from the roast & trimmed up some, seasoned with kosher salt, fresh ground 4 color pepper corns, course garlic powder, & a little oregano just after lunch. I tied the roast just to be sure it held together & back in the fridge.

I decided to sear it first so I took the fire bricks out of my Traeger to make sure the temp. would come down after the sear. I preheated the smoker on high. It was at 410 deg when I put the roast on, in a rack. I got my pan ready, with some carrots, onions, garlic, & a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. After the roast had seared for 20 min I placed it & rack in the pan and added a quart of beef broth. I edged the temp down a notch at a time in the next 20 min until I was at 275 deg. I put my baked potatoes in to be done when I planned for the roast to be done. About an hour into the cook roast was coming up to fast so went to 250 deg. After the roast was at 120 deg IT I went back to 275 deg & it was done 130 deg IT 5 min past the time I planned, just over two hours for my 5 lb. roast.

I double foiled the roast & let rest 20 min. while I got the pan juices strained & in a sauce pan simmering on the stove, cut the bread & plated the shrimp salad. Even though it only aged for 4 days instead of the 6 to 9 days recommended it was some of the finest prime rib I have eaten in a long time. My wife thought so too. Doneness was just right for my wife, it looked a little rare for me but I had an end slice & after pouring the hot au jus over it was good. Eating rare beef is just a sight thing with me; I know it tastes better on the rare side. Next time I will go for at least 7 days on the aging.

We both really liked the dressing on the shrimp salad. The idea was from Rachel Ray but she was 2 to 1 cocktail sauce & mayo and had lemon juice & zest added. I thought the Bookbinders sauce was sour enough & like the milder 1 to 1 ratio. My no knead bread was a plus too.

Prime Rib Roast

Wrapped for Aging

My No Knead Bread

Meat Side after Aging

Trimmed and Seasoned

Tied & ready to Cook

After the Sear

Sliced to serve

My Plates & Brew

Smokin Don

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

A Merry Christmas to all, if you don't celebrate Christmas, where ever you are, I hope you have a great Holiday season. I hope you prepare some good food & have a great time. For Christmas eve dinner I am cooking a 5 lb boneless prime rib roast on my Traeger smoker for the wife & I. Baked potatoes and a shrimp salad. I am also baking some no knead bread to have. I also wish everyone good luck in the new year. For years now I have cooked pork and sauerkraut on new years day. It is a German tradition and supposed to bring you good luck, cleanse your body, and I guess get you ready to eat more good food. I also fix some black eyed peas, a southern tradition here in the US. Good wishes for all!

Smokin Don

My Traeger Crockpot

I love Crockpots, & have had one since they first came out in 1971. I especially like to do pot roasts in one. Early in the day you can throw in a beef chuck roast, potatoes, carrots, onions, water or broth, seasoning and forget about it till dinner, supper to me, time.

Since I got my Traeger pellet smoker I do most of my cooking on it. Besides smoking meats I do a lot of other cooking on it too. I never did like getting into a rut & having the same thing week after week, I am always trying new things. I used to have plenty of cook books but after the internet came out I get most of my recipes from there. I get a lot of my ideas from a forum for pellet smokers, all brands. Then there is always food network where you can get a ton of recipes. I have favorite food bloggers I follow and I like, they scour the net for some of the best recipes.

This recipe was inspired by Emeril, smothered pork chops with apples, cabbage, & potatoes. His was done in a dutch oven on top of the stove, slow like Crockpot cooking. I would smoke some chops first then add to a Lodge cast iron chicken fryer, with cabbage, onions, & potatoes a lid & finish in my Traeger slowly. Ergo my Traeger Crockpot.

I bought 4 boneless chops, I would rather use bone in but these would fit in one layer nicely in my pot. My idea here was to layer them on top & the beer & cabbage moisture would steam them.

I put them on my Traeger at 175 deg for one & half hours. While they were smoking away I diced up 3 slices of bacon & browned in my fryer along with a tablespoon of bacon grease, added a can of Allens new potatoes & browned them some. I then added a med. chopped onion & cooked a couple of minutes, then a little salt & pepper and enough chopped cabbage to fill the fryer. While I was doing this I remembered I had forgotten to add a chunk of ring bologna to the smoker. I was going to do this for some snacks the next few days. I quickly cut some slices in the top & threw it on the smoker. I cooked the cabbage a few minutes stirring to get it coated with the bacon grease.

I took my Crockpot to the smoker added the chops & poured about a half bottle of Yuenglings Lager beer over all, covered with a lid. I turned the smoker to 225 deg & cooked for two hours. This last step could be done inside, stove top or oven, but it was more fun to do on the smoker. The bologna was done after an hour at 225 deg, it had been on smoke for 45 min. Turned out great.

I took the Crockpot inside & let set with lid on while I toasted some garlic bread under the broiler. I used some hot dog buns I didn’t want to go to waste. The wife & I both liked my supper. The chops were fork tender & the hot dog bun garlic bread was pretty good too.

Some ingredients

Bacon Browning

Potatoes Browned

Onions & Cabbage Added

All on the Smoker

Chops Added to the Pot

Crockpots On!

Balognas Done

Ready to serve

My Plate

Smokin Don

Monday, December 19, 2011

Kah Meats Bratwursts

Yesterdays cook was pretty simple & easy. I was hungry for some of Kah Meats, my local butcher, fresh bratwurst. Saturday I picked up some Cajun brats for me & some cheddar cheese brats for my wife. There are plenty of varieties to choose from, the standard brat, cheddar brats, cheddar & jalapeno brats, tomato & garlic brats, green onion brats, Cajun brats, Firehouse brats, & probably a couple more I don’t remember. The Cajun brats are pretty hot but the firehouse brats are one notch up. My wife was baking her usual pumpkin breads for Christmas gifts to neighbors & friends. I was having leftover cheesy potatoes so didn’t need the kitchen for much. I got the brats on the smoker, smoke mode 175 deg. I would do them for an hour & a half then go to 225 deg to finish up. After an hour and 15 min. I put on a small foil pan with some peppers & onions, a little seasoning & olive oil. After 15 min. I poured on a little Yuengling,s brown & tan to braise the peppers & onions some. I then went to 225 deg., it ended up about 240 deg. but that was fine & the brats were done in another half hour. The peppers were still a little crisp & great for topping my brat. My wife had sauerkraut on hers. My wife had some corn & I had what was left of a can of Margaret Holms seasoned peas & peppers along with the cheesy potatoes. The peas are field peas & seasoned good enough to eat right from the can. The brats were great, natural casings that give a little pop when bitten into & juicy. I had my brat fix for awhile & leftover ones for lunches this week.--------------------------

About Done

Ready to Serve
My Plate
Smokin Don

Friday, December 16, 2011

Country Ribs, cheesy potatoes, & corn

Yesterday was an extra warm December day, 55 deg. It was windy and most of the time it was howling. I am glad I have 3 sides of my Smoke Shack covered; it keeps the wind off my smoker, and me! It was a nice afternoon to do a slow cook on the Traeger.

Wednesday we made a trip to see my Mother & take her some of my leftovers. When we got home I cooked up a batch of peach BBQ sauce. I had found a recipe at that sounded good. I just made a half batch so if I didn’t like it would not have as much to throw out. For the heat I used Chipotles in adobe sauce, 1 pepper & about ½ tsp. of the sauce.

I had 4 nice country ribs from my butcher, two were bone in & the other two were boneless, about 3 lbs. My wife tasted my sauce & said too hot for her so I would use my old standby BBQ sauce from Kah Meats for hers. It had been awhile since I did country ribs so looked up cooking methods on and a couple of other sites. Only one did them hot & fast, all the rest were low & slow. I decided to do mine 2-2-1 at 225 deg. That’s 2 hours at 225 & then foil wrap for two hours, and one hour with sauce. I like the low & slow cooking best anyways; it gives me time to just sit there, relax & sip on my favorite brew!

For sides I was having cheesy scalloped potatoes and some fresh corn I had vacuum packed & froze. I usually use Campbells cheddar cheese soup but this time I had a can of La Preferida aged cheddar I wanted to try. I think I like the Campbells better. I used Yukon Gold potatoes, two layers sliced in an oiled pan, poured half the cheddar cheese I had mixed in a 1/4 cup of milk on the first layer & then another layer of potatoes & cheese.

I splashed some red wine vinegar on the ribs & my favorite Penzey’s Galena Street Rub & in the fridge for about 9 hours. I added the second shelf to my Traeger so I had plenty of room. I got the ribs on the Smoker at 1:00 225 deg. I prepared the cheesy potatoes, covered with foil & added them to the top shelf at 2:00 & turned the ribs over. At 3:00 I foiled the ribs in a foil pan I had added about 1/8 cup of water & a splash of red wine vinegar & a splash of Worcestershire sauce. The foil pan was easy but I think wrapping them tight would have been better. At 5:00 I removed the ribs from the pan, added the peach sauce to two & Kah’s sauce to the other two. I also placed a small skillet with the corn & 3 pats of butter, salt & pepper, to the top shelf. At 5:30 I turned the ribs & sauced the other side. I pulled all at 6:00 a total of 5 hours for the ribs. Tented the ribs & fixed some Texas garlic bread to serve with it.

A very tasty supper, the potatoes were plenty done but prefer them in the oven at 350 to get the top browned up some. I usually fix them the same way & in the oven covered for one hour then uncover, add some shredded cheese for another half hour. I liked the peach BBQ sauce. A little sweet with a mild heat but think it could have used more spice like chili powder & a little cumin. I may try to doctor it up & have tomorrow night with the leftover ribs. Tonight it is my Wife’s turn to cook so we are having fish from Captain D’s!

Printable Peach BBQ Sauce Recipe

Cheese & Potatoes

Potatoes ready for the smoker

My two sauces

Ribs on the Smoker

After one hour

Two hours & in the foil pan

All done

Ready to serve

My Plate

Smokin Don