Thursday, June 30, 2011

My first ever Beef Tri Tip

My first Tri Tip ever & it was delicious. In the 35+ yrs. I have been cooking I don’t ever remember seeing a beef Tri Tip roast at the groceries or meat markets around here. It was ground into hamburger usually. It first became popular in California around the Santa Maria area & became known as Santa Maria style Roast. There it is usually seasoned w/salt, pepper, & garlic then cooked over a red oak fire to desired doneness. I first heard of it on pelletheads forum from the CA people there. I looked for it here & ask my butcher about it. Other people must have ask him about it too, just awhile back I drove by & up on his sign was Tri Tip roasts. My butcher is also a Traeger dealer & where I buy my pellets. I stopped in & he had two frozen ones left so I bought the largest 2 1/2+ lbs. I had found a recipe awhile back that had equal amounts of coarse salt, ground pepper, dried garlic flakes, & dried parsley for the seasoning. I tried it on some rib eye steaks & just about as good as it gets, a great seasoning that lets the beef taste come through instead of overpowering it.

Yesterday I trimmed some of the fat on the Tri Tip, seasoned it up good, wrapped in saran wrap & in the fridge until ready to cook. I would have preferred to let it marinade overnight but it was in for a little over 5 hrs. I was going to rely on Big Poppa’s, from, method. Smoke at 275 deg. until an IT of 142 deg then sear on a hot grill for 2 min a side. About 4:00 I mixed up some mac & cheese. I used 2 cups penne, cooked then added ½ can Campbells cheddar cheese soup, a couple hand full’s of Italian shredded cheese, some liquid from cooking the pasta & some half & half fat free cream & placed in a casserole dish. Later I added shredded cheddar to the top & some Panko bread crumbs over that. I took the Tri Tip from the fridge to rest at room temp. I preheated my Traeger to 300 deg Placed the roast directly on the grill, fat cap down, w/ temp probe inserted at 5 pm. I was figuring just over an hr for the roast so at 5:15 I put the mac & cheese in a 350 deg oven uncovered. At 6:00 I turned the oven to 170 deg to hold the mac & cheese. I preheated my Weber Q100 to sear the roast. After 1 ½ hrs. the roast was at 142 deg IT so pulled it & seared on the Weber 2 min on each side. I tented the roast w/foil for 10 min. before slicing & serving w/mac & cheese & a mixed Romaine salad my wife had prepared. On the salad we had Italian dressing & some shaved parmesan cheese.

The roast was very tender & tasty but a little too done for me. You can see some smoke penetration in the photo. I was running my Traeger at 250 deg since I know my grill temp runs about 25 deg hotter than the digital readout. Next time I think I would run it at 275deg to let the roast come up to temp a little quicker & pull it to sear when IT is 135 deg. For me the Tri Tip was the best cut of beef I have had in a long time.

Fat cap side

Lean side


On the smoker

After searing


Plated supper

Smokin Don

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lighter Salad

Just to show we do eat a little lighter, after the heavy fat New Orleans BBQ shrimp. My wife & I split the leftover 4 shrimp & had it with fresh garden lettuce, beets, hard boiled eggs, & some dressing. I had some shaved Vidalia onion, blue cheese dressing, & cracked pepper on mine along with some cheese bread & butter. I have a Tri Tip beef roast thawing for my next smoker cook in a couple of days.

My Salad

Smokin Don

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp

Yesterday started out cloudy but turned into a sunny afternoon, breezy & a comfortable 75 deg. I was looking forward to today’s cook, New Orleans style BBQ shrimp. Not very heart healthy but it sure do taste good! I found some wild caught Key West pink shrimp, large 15 to 20 count at Krogers. They were frozen & set it in fridge the night before to thaw. I had some crusty sourdough bread to have with it & a couple of Anaheim peppers I would stuff with a cheese mix. If you have never had this it’s not what most would think of as BBQ. It is usually just some shell on shrimp cooked in bacon, a lot of butter, onions, garlic, spices, hot sauce & sometimes course grained mustard, served with rice & bread to dip in the sauce. My take on this dish has some added tomato paste and garlic chives from my garden. I prepared the peppers first, mixed equal amounts of cottage cheese, shredded sharp cheddar, & a TBS of chipotle ranch dip to stuff them. Usually I would wrap these in bacon but decided not to with this dish. I lost about half the cheese mix when they were not quite done to suit me I tried to flip them over. With the bacon you can start by sealing the end & a toothpick before wrapping. Otherwise it is best to just leave the stem on, slice in half & fix boat style to keep all that good cheese.

You can just prepare this on top of the stove but I wanted to use the smoker & do the peppers & relax with a cold one while cooking. I got all my ingredients chopped & diced and started this on top of the stove. I used Penzey’s Cajun seasoning, on the mild side & omitted the hot sauce. Moved it to the smoker to simmer for 20 min at 325 deg. I should have put the peppers on then too. After 20 min. I added the shrimp & some more beer to cover & cooked another 25 min. at 300 deg. In my plated photo missing is a bowl of the sauce for dipping some sourdough bread in. I served this with Zatarains New Orleans style yellow rice. This is a little messy since you have to shell the shrimp so serve with a wet one. I would suggest using an oil tablecloth too, my wife had to wash her crocheted one after I was done!

Printable Shrimp Recipe

Shrimp, rice, & peppers

Onion, garlic, basil, & garlic chives

Stuffed peppers

Purdy Pink Shrimp

Bacon, onions, & garlic

Sauce ready for the smoker

Just about done

Ready to digin!

Smokin Don

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DiGiorno Pizza & Salad

Yesterday I spent the afternoon, trimming grass. By the time I was done I decided the mowing could wait, besides I had never had time between rains to work up my second garden. I had planned on planting crooked neck yellow squash just for the blossoms. My wife & I love those squash blossoms. I worked up half of the garden roughly & got two hills planted so by mid Aug. I should start getting blossoms.

We were going to have some of my garden lettuce w/the pizza so I cut a slice of the sourdough bread to make croutons. Seasoned w/garlic, salt, & pepper & some olive oil. I did them in the microwave on high a minute at a time, & stirred until done. I had just enough for two salads. I bought two small DiGiorno’s thin crust supreme pizzas. Everyone on the pelletheads forum brags about Papa Murphy’s pizzas as being so good. I would have to drive 40 miles to get one here, but soon I will make that trip. I made several homemade pizzas last summer, one was a squash blossom pizza & was great. These would be the first store bought pizzas on my Traeger. The box said 425 deg for 14 to 17 min in a conventional oven. I decided to do mine at 350 deg in the Traeger & check them after 20 min. I cut enough lettuce for two salads from my garden. My wife washed & spun it while I fired up the smoker. I actually set the smoker on 325deg knowing the right side of my grill would be about 25 deg hotter. After 20 min. they looked ready, the crust on the rear one was starting to burn a little. I took the charred one & gave the other one to my wife. I would say they were pretty good & nice to have when you’re in a hurry. For being supreme they were a little scant with the sauce, cheese, & ingredients. If doing them again I would add extra cheese. I would also do them in the center of the grill for a little longer, the top could have been a little more done.

Ohio is pizza country, we have more pizza places per capita than any other state. I think here in Wapakoneta, Ohio, pop. About 10,000 we have seven places you can buy pizza. The Beer & Wine Depot, a drive through carryout makes our favorite pizza. It’s just 3 short blocks away & handy for my beer too!

Pizza ready to bake

Pizza on the smoker

Pizza ready to eat

Smokin Don

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tilapia, Fingerling Potatoes, & Wilted lettuce

Today is nice & sunny, but need to mow & trim grass, so not a fun day. Mothernature seems to have gotten April showers mixed up. We have been having them since the 1st of May! I am going to do a couple of store boughten pizzas for our supper tonight. I know they are not as good as home made but I have to mow!

Yesterday I was happy my meal would include fresh lettuce & basil from my garden. I had bought two Tilapia filets, about ½ lb each, from Krogers. I had thawed out a small vacuum pack of my home cured bacon for the wilted lettuce & had some nice fingerling potatoes to use. I used some of Penzey’s Florida seasoned pepper to season the Tilapia, about an hour before the cook and boiled the potatoes for about 7 to 10 min. I drained them, sliced in half, placed in a zip loc bag & added garlic, parsley, salt, pepper & some olive oil placed in fridge along with the Tilapia until ready to cook.

It had rained overnight & sprinkled some during the morning, & was cloudy. I was a little hesitant to use my pellet grill since I don’t have a covered patio to cook on & was too lazy to take the smoker to the garage. By 3:00 in the afternoon the sun was trying to peek out so got the smoker all ready. At 4:00 went in & got the food ready. I diced up the bacon & cooked until browned, removed & set aside. I planned to cook at 300 deg. doing the potatoes in a wire basket for 15 min. then adding the fish for ½ hr. more. I had a small loaf of sourdough bread to add the last 10 & heat up. At 5:30 I got the potatoes on & got the Tilapia from the fridge, placed them on cedar planks I had coated w/olive oil, added some thin sliced basil & pats of butter. The cedar planks would not impart any flavor to the fish but makes a nice vessel to cook on & they keep the fish moist. They would be nice to serve on if you had a tray or mat for them. At 5:45 I put the Tilapia on then the last 10 min added the bread on a trivet over the basket of potatoes. I heated the two TBS of reserved bacon grease & some thinly sliced Vidalia onions, sautéed a couple of min. added about ¼ cup of vinegar & water + 1tsp of sugar left simmer. Then got my food from the smoker, added the reserved bacon to the lettuce & poured the hot dressing over.
It all tasted very good, fish was done just right. My wife said it was too lemony for her so next time will cut back on the Florida seasoned pepper, I liked it the way it was though.
We both love those fingerling potatoes, which are hard to find around here.

Lettuce in my garden

Seasoned Tilapia

Diced bacon

Done bacon

Tilapia ready for the smoker

On the smoker & ready

My supper

Smokin Don

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Whole Turkey & Boudin

Yesterday I did a whole young turkey. No not a holiday, just a mistake! I had a recipe from Saveur for turkey breast stuffed with Boudin & had some of my Boudin vacuum sealed & frozen I wanted to use. My Boudin turned out more the texture of pate instead of sausage since I used a grinder to stuff it. This would be a good use for it. I looked all over for a fresh 4 to 5 lb turkey breast, boneless w/skin. I could not find any, just frozen. In among the frozen breasts were two Butterballs that said no hormones, one 3 + lbs & one 7+ lbs. I picked the 7 lb one, & placed it in the fridge to thaw. I left it in the grocery bag to keep any juices in as it thawed. Monday I put the Boudin in the fridge to thaw. Yesterday I got up at 5 am to debone the breast & get it ready to smoke. Here I had a 7 lb whole young turkey, I better look at those labels closer! I have watched videos on deboning a whole turkey but I didn’t want to tackle that. I decided to do the whole bird.

I cleaned & dried the bird & back in the fridge to dry until ready to smoke. At 11:15 I got the bird out to prepare & started the smoker. I had some Florida pepper blend from Penzey’s I wanted to try. It’s a blend of pepper, citric acid, orange peel, lemon peel, onion & garlic, perfect for poultry. I made some sage, garlic, butter, separated the breast skin & rubbed in some of the seasoned butter, then secured the skin w/2 toothpicks. I seasoned the cavity w/the pepper, inserted ½ lemon, 1 bunch of fresh sage leaves & 4 smashed garlic cloves, rubbed on some olive oil & seasoned well with the pepper. I preheated the smoker to 300 deg, turned back to smoke mode, & at 12:00 placed the turkey directly on the grill & added the Boudin to smoke. The Traeger settled in at 170 to 180 deg. I needed to mow the lawn while I was doing the turkey. It was a hot, 85 deg & humid day. Felt like 90 deg. I would have rather sat there sipping on a cold one & watch the smoker but with all the rain you have to mow when you have a chance. After an hr. I inserted a temp probe in the turkey & one in the Boudin, basted the turkey w/ the seasoned butter & went back to my mowing. Another ½ hr. the Boudin was done so pulled it & inserted the temp probe in the turkey leg , the other probe was in the breast. Turned the smoker to 250 deg. At the 2 hr mark I pulled the turkey neck, I had it & some of the Boudin for a snack. At about 3 hrs. the turkey was at 150 deg so placed it on a rack & placed in a foil pan, added about a quart of chicken broth. I upped the smoker to 300 deg. & basted the turkey w/more seasoned butter. Another half hr. the turkey was at 165 deg so turned smoker up to 375 deg. to finish off. In just over 4 hrs. the breast was at 175 & leg & thighs were at 180 deg. so pulled & let rest for 15 min. before carving. I had part of a wing to taste & skin was good. I sliced 2 slices from each breast for our supper later. After cooling some covered w/saran wrap & in the fridge.

For our supper I fixed the gravy packet that came w/the turkey. Fixed some rice, & sautéed some onion, green pepper, & garlic in olive oil to add to the rice. My wife had the turkey breast, & rice w/gravy over top and some corn relish. I had the same but added some Boudin w/gravy. All tasted pretty good, my wife did not eat the skin but I did. The gravy was not as good as home made but it was quick & easy. The skin would have been crisper if eaten after it was done. I find it hard to reheat any poultry & get good eatable skin. I forgot to add, usually I would brine a turkey but this one was enhanced so omited that step & did not add any salt.

This was my first whole turkey on my Traeger & was pleased with the result. I used one of my friend Billy Merril’s recipes from forum for an idea on the cooking times & temps. I think I did do a whole turkey once on one of my water smokers but don’t remember how it turned out. Now maybe I will do one for Thanksgiving this yr., weather permitting.

The mistaken breast!

Seasoned & ready, I did add more pepper after the photo.

Turkey & Boudin on the smoker.

Smoked Boudin

On the rack in foil pan

Done bird

So purdy had to show another view!

My plated supper.

Smokin Don

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Smokey Bones & 15 Beans

Beans, beans, I love beans. My favorites are pinto, & small red beans. My wife doesn’t like beans too well unless in chili or some of the soups I have made. I don’t make a large batch very often, a pound of beans will feed many! Awhile back I did a fresh pork picnic shoulder & saved the bones & some of the meat to use in beans. Had a nice day so decided to do some beans. I bought a lb. bag of Hursts, 15 beans, with Cajun flavor pack. They also have some with just a Ham flavor pack. I followed the recipe on the bag pretty close. I have done them before & always turns out good. I got my bag of bones & meat from the freezer to thaw & 2 quarts of water on the beans to soak over night. I thought they could use more meat than I had saved so bought a hank of smoked sausage from my butcher & used about 2/3rds of it after smoking some more.
My idea was if I smoked the bones they would help impart more smoke flavor to the beans, so got the bones, pulled pork, & sausage on my Traeger. Set it on the smoke mode it ran at about 180 deg. average. I had sprinkled some of Penzey’s Cajun seasoning on the pork & bones. After 1 ½ hrs. I pulled the sausage & pork & did the bones another half hour. I put the bones, 1 Vidalia onion, salt & a handful of little carrots in a large pot with 2 quarts of water. Brought it to a boil then simmered for an hour. Removed the bones, onion & carrots, discarded. At this point you could stain the broth but mine didn’t need it. I added the lb. of beans & simmered for 2 hrs. stirring occasionally. Sliced up the sausage & chopped the pork, chopped a med. Vidalia onion, & added to the pot. Another 15 min. I added a can of Rotel tomatoes & the juice of one lemon. Then added about half the Cajun flavor pack & tasted, added a little more of the flavor pack. I let all this simmer about another half hr. & set down to a large bowl of sausage, pork, & beans. It was delicious but my wife chose to eat some left over pizza she had! Did smoking the bones help, I think so & besides it was fun doing! Note in the simmering pot, there are eyes on top. A cousin said his Dad always said soup is no good unless it has eyes on top, a little fat. Would have been better with some good crusty bread but forgot to get any so I had crackers with it.

Some of the fixins

On the smoker

Smokey Bones

Simmering Pot

My Bowl of Beans

Smokin Don

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some of my Photography

For a little change of pace from cooking to see my other hobby photography. I love to take bird & butterfly photos. Here is a Yellow Tiger Swallowtail I caught the other day on one of my Purple Verbena's & a little while later caught a Monarch on a Red Verbena.

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail


Monday, June 13, 2011

My first whole Brisket

Well my wife & I had a great 4 days with grandson, Gavin. Kept us pretty busy keeping him entertained. He is very well behaved & gave us no problems at all. He liked the meatloaf I had smoked. Sat. morning got up early & headed to the airport for Grandma & Gavin’s trip to his new home in Las Vegas, where his parents were getting settled in. They made it there safe & sound. When my dog, Mag, & I got home went to my local butcher looking for a pork butt or a brisket to smoke. My sister & her son & wife will soon be here from Texas to visit & stay at my Mothers so wanted to have something to take over. He had a nice brisket, a little over 7 lbs. I thought what better for a Texan than an Ohio smoked brisket! I trimmed it up some, smeared it with plenty of rub, then wrapped in saran wrap & in the fridge overnight.

I am not very experienced at doing briskets, & this would be my first whole brisket w/point. I had done several flats over the yrs. & recently did a corned beef flat as pastrami that turned out pretty good. My recipe & method was from several resources. I decided to do it fat side down, now that was pretty hard after years doing all my cooking fat side up. There are pros & cons on this but I read where tests prove fat side up the fat does not penetrate the meat, it just renders out & over the sides. Fat side down advocates say it insulates the meat from the direct heat of the grill, allows the meat to retain it’s juices & take on more smoke. When you think about it that makes sense. I got up a little after 4 am Sunday morning. Got the brisket out to warm some, fired up the smoker. Preheated to 300 deg. then turned to 180 deg. & placed the brisket directly on the grill. After seeing it was perking along good at 180 to 190 deg. went back to bed. I got up for the second time & looked at the brisket for the first time, it had been on for 5 ½ hrs. I inserted two heat probes to monitor the internal temp. (IT). The IT was 140 deg. so decided to up the smoker to 225 deg. In another 2 hrs. the IT was 163 deg. I had a large foil roaster pan w/a quart of beef stock, sliced up onion, some rub, & ½ can of beer and a rack ready. Placed the brisket in the pan, resealed with the foil & back on the smoker. I upped the smoker to 250 deg. Some people like to just wrap the brisket in foil along with some liquid at this point instead of using the foil pan. In another 2 hrs. IT was up to 195 deg so pulled it. Time for a rest, I opted to place it in my preheated 170 deg oven for a 40 min rest. I flipped the brisket to fat side up for this rest. Then I removed it from the oven & removed the foil for another 20 min rest before slicing. It looked nice, had a good smoke ring, very moist & tender. I wasn’t that happy with the rub a little sweet, next time I would omit the white sugar, and double the amounts of chili powders & pepper. I have to remember when I cook I am also usually cooking for my wife, and my Mother, & they don’t like much heat. I can always add heat if I want. I sure do miss my wife! I’ll be glad when she is back home from Las Vegas! I had to clean up all that mess I made!

Later my supper, now that’s what the evening meal is to me, would be a brisket sandwich with some good Bone Suckin Sauce on it. Boiled fingerling potatoes & carrots w/a little parsley & butter and some asparagus. I boiled the potatoes & carrots for 15 min. then added the asparagus on top for another 10 min. I removed the asparagus then drained the potatoes & carrots and added some parsley & butter. All tasted mighty fine, the sandwich was all clean bites & hardly any pull. The Bone Suckin Sauce, I love, not too sweet & just a touch of heat. Would have been better with a toasted bun but that meant another skillet for me to clean! For most of my sandwiches I prefer just a COWB, cheap ole white bun.

Printable Brisket Recipe

After an overnight marinade w/rub

At 160 deg IT

Ready to foil & back on the smoker

After resting, ready to slice

Sliced in half

All sliced up

Slices & some burnt ends for another recipe

My supper

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Yesterday for dinner I had a meatloaf, roasted red potatoes on the Treager & did scalloped corn in the oven. The meatloaf was a variation of Paula Deen's cheeseburger meatloaf. I wanted some leftovers for the grandson, & could not put any mushrooms in it. I chopped some very fine for the quiche I made the other day thinking he would not know they were in it. Wouldn't you know he found them in there & did not eat very well! I put the meatloaf in the smoker at 250 deg & shortly added red potatoes w/olive oil, garlic, & Lawrey's seasoned salt, no MSG. The potatoes are in a basket my wife got me from Pampered Chef & I added some parmesan cheese near the end & poured some BBQ sauce on the meatloaf. I upped the smoker to 350deg for the last 20 min. One hour & 45 min. the meatloaf was at 150 deg. I tented it w/foil for about 10 min. before slicing & serving.

Print Meatloaf Recipe

Meatloaf at 140deg IT

Plated meal