Friday, September 30, 2011

Chops, Sweet Potato, & Peaches

I had put my 2 pork chops in marinade at 9 AM. My marinade was 1 quart of water, 1 TBS kosher salt, I TBS brown sugar, 1 TBS soy sauce, a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce, & some garlic flakes.
After I fried up some potatoes & got my fatty stuffer cylinder full & in the fridge, I had about 3 hours to relax before fixing supper. I was having fun watching the hummingbirds, they should be well south of here on their migration. I think I have two that were born here & reluctant to leave & still have some coming through from the north. At one time I seen 4 in a duel that looked like a WWI dog fight. It was 58 deg. out but the coldest 58 I ever felt, I ended up with a lined Levi jacket & a stocking hat, my ears were cold. It was damp & we had a 20mph breeze & 30 mph gusts.
I took my chops out, drained & on a rack and in the fridge to dry some an hour before my cook. I cut the sweet potato in half, 3 pats of butter, a little brown sugar, & a drizzle of maple syrup in the center, & wrapped in foil to cook. The peaches were from CA & about as large as I have seen. I cut them in half, seeded & brushed on a little melted butter.
I fired up my Traeger & set to 300 deg. I put the sweet potato on 10 min. before the chops. I seasoned the chops with a light coat of my favorite rib rub & would do them for an hour, not turning. The peaches would go on cut side down for 15 min, then turn & a little maple syrup in the center & sprinkle with brown sugar and do another 15 min. After I got the peaches on the smoker was dropping about 40 deg when I opened the lid from the wind so I upped the temp to 325 deg for the last half hour. All came out good. I served my wife then myself. Even thought the sweet potatoes have the sugar on them I always have to have a little butter, salt & pepper. I like the sweet, salty taste. Some of the best chops I have made, very tender & moist. These chops were about 5/8” thick so thicker ones may take longer, but I will stay with this temp & method. The peaches complimented the chops. My wife said a bite of peach & chop together was good.

Chops marinated

Sweet Potato


Peaches ready for the smoker

On the smoker

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pastrami From My Carryout

It was a little cool this morning, but the sun came out & was nice all afternoon, getting to 74 deg. Before lunch I smoked a batch of Cajun crackers I had marinated overnight. We planned to go to the rock garden after supper for some enjoyable music, and I would take the Cajun crackers to share. Rain showed up & spoiled that so an evening at home.
After lunch I went to resupply my beer at my carryout & to give the owner a sample of my crackers. To my surprise he had some pastrami he had smoked for me, it was on their daily special. I told him that was a good trade some cheap crackers for some pastrami. He said he had followed a recipe from to cure & smoke on his new Traeger Texas. I took a taste when I got home, some of the best pastrami I have had in awhile, even better than mine! I had enough to make a sandwich for supper, I just happened to have some good rye bread to use.
My wife fixed herself some leftovers for supper. I had some mashed potatoes & cheesy cauliflower I would have with my pastrami on rye. I fried the pastrami in a little olive oil until edges were crisping up. Placed on the rye bread with some mustard & toasted in the same skillet. Now that sandwich hit the spot!

Link to Pastrami Recipe


Pastrami on Rye w/mashed taters & cheesey cauliflower

Close up

Smokin Don

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My Peaches & Cream Cheese Cobbler

Today was a day to play with the smoker. I have been on a snack kick lately, smoked Cajun crackers, almonds, & pistachios. Love those crackers; and would do the pistachios again. The nuts I did not taste much smoke. I wanted to try some tortilla chips; so I bought a bag of yellow cornmeal tortillas. I fired up the Traeger, placed most of the bag in my wire basket, sprayed with some olive oil spray & a generous amount of CA style coarse grind garlic w/parsley. On the smoker, smoke mode, avg. 175 deg. for one hour. They came out pretty good.
I had a yen for peach cobbler & wanted to try it on the smoker. I do not do many desserts; any of them that calls for dough are out, me & dough just do not seem to get along. I have made pies but use store bought crust. Now cobbler is different, just mix up & layer in a pan. If I used Bisquick I could just drop on for the topping. I found one of Paula Deen’s recipes for Dutch Oven Peach Cobbler that looked good for a guide. One other dessert I make well is a Peaches & Cream Cheese pie, from Since I was experimenting by doing the cobbler on my smoker I thought I might as well combine the recipes some too. I decided to use the vanilla pudding and cream cheese mix in the cobbler. I mixed up the peaches, vanilla pudding & sugar, into a 9 inch square pan, sprayed w/olive oil. I mixed up the cream cheese, sugar, & peach juice, spooned it over the peaches. I followed Paula’s suggestion to pour all the topping ingredients into a plastic bag to mix. This didn’t go well for me, hard to tell when all was mixed good & spooning from the bag was too messy. Might have been better to cut a hole in a corner & squeeze out, but I think I will just use a bowl next time! Onto the smoker I had preheated to 325 deg. on the Treager this is about 350 deg grill temp. Paula’s cobbler recipe said bake for 40 min. so used that as a guide. After 20 min. I rotated the pan 180 deg. Checked again in another 10 min. edges were bubbly & topping starting to brown up. Pulled it in 3 more minutes. Total cook time 33 min. When my wife got home from an auction we both had to try a spoonful, delicious. She said we need some ice cream to have with it so she went to get some Dairy Queen.
My supper would be easy & quick, pulled pork tacos. We had some corn tortillas, & some fresh salsa in the fridge. While at the store getting my corn chips I picked up a pack of McCormicks taco seasoning & a bag of taco seasoned shredded cheese mix. When I got all my stuff out realized I forgot sour cream, also the fresh salsa looked one step from mold so couldn’t use that. My wife ask if I wanted her to go get stuff. I said no I’ll make do. I found a bottle of chili sauce so thought I would use that instead of salsa & just do them without sour cream. I chopped some onion, & green pepper, got that sautéing, added the pulled pork & some taco seasoning, when that was good & hot added some of the chili sauce. I browned up the corn tortillas & served two each. We both thought they were pretty good for thrown together, and were less messy without the sour cream! Besides we had peach cobbler & Dairy Queen to look forward to. It was delicious & I think I did well on the cobbler, worth saving my recipe.
Note: the qrt. jar in the cobbler ingredients is some vanilla sugar I made w/a vanilla bean. I used that in the peach mix & the cream cheese mix.

Printable Cobbler Recipe

Smoked chip fixings

Smoked chips

Cobbler ingredients

Peach mix in the pan

Cream cheese mix added

Topping added

On the smoker

Pulled pork cooking

My tacos

My dessert

Smokin Don

Monday, September 26, 2011

Slow Cooked Pork & Kraut

Smoking & pulling the 17 lbs. of pork yesterday, made a mess in my kitchen. I won’t be doing that again while the wife is gone, I had to clean it all up!
Today, Sundays cook would be pork & kraut with noodles and mashed potatoes. This is one of my favorite meals. I had ¾ lb of kraut left I needed to use, some rib trimmings & flap meat and 3 fresh brats. My wife usually makes drop noodles to add. Since she was not home I had some Waltz Meat Amish style noodles to use. These are actually made by a bakery in Van Wert, OH & sold to Waltz to sell with his canned beef & chicken. These noodles are better than any I can make. I planned to smoke the rib trimmings for 3 hrs. & the brats for 2 hrs. at 175 deg, smoke mode. It was a little cool this morning but by noon had warmed up & the sun was out some in the afternoon. I seasoned up the rib trimmings, with salt & pepper and got them on the smoker at 10:30. At 11:30 I flipped the rib meat & added the brats. All were done at 1:30, I had upped the heat to 250 deg the last 40 min to render out some of the fat. I took the meat inside, sliced the brats in half, sliced up the flap meat & got what meat I could from the bones. All into a foil roaster pan, topped with the un-rinsed sauerkraut, a little salt & pepper, half bottle of Guinness Stout, and water to cover. Back on the smoker at 250 deg to slow cook, uncovered all afternoon. I would cook the noodles to add the last hour, and make some mashed potatoes. It was a nice afternoon, I should have mowed grass, looked like an all night rain coming our way. It was more fun to sit there watching the smoker & birds. I got my camera out & tried for some hummingbird shots, no luck but did get a couple of good ones of a Monarch on my butterfly bush. I will show one here. At 3:30 I went inside, boiled my noodles 15 min, drained & added to the pork & kraut. At this time I realized I never added any onions & garlic, so sliced a small onion to add & some dried minced garlic. My Dad always said you can’t cook without onions & garlic! My wife had called & said they were getting a late start home & it would be after 6:00. I told her supper would be ready. At 5:00 I put pealed & cut up the potatoes, got them on to boil for 15 min. I preheated my oven to 210 deg. brought the pork & kraut in, covered with foil and in the oven to hold. When the potatoes were done I saved some of the water, drained, added 5 pats of butter to the pan. Added the potatoes and mashed with a hand masher. When they were mashed good I added a little of the potato water & whipped some with a spoon. I like my potatoes on the heavier side, not light & fluffy. I covered the pan with foil & in the oven. My wife arrived home at 6:15; after she got settled down I dished us up some mashed potatoes, covered with pork & kraut. I had some seeded rye bread to have with it. We got our trays out & went to the living room to eat. Before turning the TV on my wife told me all about her week-end trip. We both enjoyed the meal, I was happy that she enjoyed her little trip and I got to stay home!
I didn’t get my pulled pork vacuum packed; I’ll do that in the morning. I did get some to two of my neighbors.

My Monarch Photo

Beer, noodles, & brats

Rib trimmings

Meat smoking

Pork & Kraut done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Two Pork Butts, 17.6 Lbs.

I got up early this morning, 7 AM, my pork butts had been on smoking since 1 AM. My wife was up getting ready for an overnight trip with a friend. They were going to Dover, OH & see two ladies my wife had worked with in D.C. yrs ago. I had been up at 4 AM & checked the smoker; it was doing fine running about 180 deg. The two pork butts weighed 17.6 lbs. & were about the same size so I had figured on smoking for 8 hrs. before upping the temp. I had wet them down with some Carolina vinegar sauce & rubbed with Bone Suckin Sauce rub.
For my lunch today I had a slice of toasted rye bread, with a slice of the smoked grits I did yesterday & an egg on top. That was delicious.
I did both butts fat side down; I think this method keeps more of the juices in the meat. At 8:15 I inserted a temp probe in both butts. I was surprised the one on the right, hottest side, was up to 158 deg. IT already, the other one was about 15 deg. cooler. At 9:00 they had been on smoke for 8 hrs. so I upped the smoker to 225 deg. At 11:00 the one was at 170 deg. IT so I wrapped it in foil, adding a half cup of the Carolina vinegar sauce. Having one finish later suited me, since I could not be pulling both. At 12:00 the other one was up to 170 deg. IT so foiled it too with a half cup of the sauce. I upped the temp to 250 deg. At 1:00 the one was at 205 deg. IT so pulled it & placed in a preheated 200 deg oven, turned the oven off. I had moved the one to the right to finish & it was at 205 deg. at 1:30 so placed it in the oven. I had them on hold for one hour then started to pull the one. The bone came out clean and this one pulled nice, even the strands of meat were easy to break & shorten up. It was very moist too. The second one seemed a little dryer, but that could have been the longer cook time before foiling, or just the difference in the two butts. It pulled pretty good, I have been puling by hand lately, it is about as easy as using two forks & I can get the size I want. I had placed them both in a large foil pan for holding in the oven & wanted to save the liquid. With each one I opened the foil & poured what liquid I could get into the pan, then lifted out foil & all onto a try this way all of the fat stayed in the bottom of the foil to discard. I poured the liquid into a gravy separator to get rid of the fat. I covered the pulled pork with saran wrap & in the fridge for overnight. Tomorrow I will add the liquid, mix some a vacuum pack, & freeze. I will give some to a couple of neighbors & most of the rest I will give to my oldest daughter & husband. I saved out enough for a sandwich for supper tonight. This is the most meat I have done at one time, at least pound wise; it went pretty well.
I thought my garden was done but found a couple of yellow squash, so I sliced up one, sautéed in olive oil with some Panzey’s sandwich sprinkle. I had this with a pulled pork sandwich, mustard, on a cheap ole white bun. Yea mustard, no slaw or BBQ sauce, I love mustard on pork so use it on pulled pork sometimes. A good supper!

My Method for Pulled Pork

My Lunch

A two pack

After 8 hrs. of smoke

Bone pulled clean

Some pulled

All pulled

My Plate

Smokin Don

Pickled Green Tomatoes & Smoked Snacks

Today was a busy day. I had picked the last of my tomatoes yesterday, green & on the small side. I thought pickling them sounded good. I only had about 2 lbs of them so wanted a recipe for a small amount. Homesick Texan had one that fit, sounded good & would make a quart. I decided I would do them up & boil instead of cold pack. Seemed like a lot of trouble for just one quart. I carried enough water through the dry summer to save these guys so a little more work wouldn’t hurt me! I followed her recipe almost to the letter, used ½ tsp dill weed instead of seed, and added some pearl onions & a tsp of crushed red pepper. It took a lot of water to process that one quart! Maybe I can find a pot made for canning just one quart? I should be able to find room for one more pot to store & use once a year!
After I had my tomatoes cooling I had a batch of Cajun crackers that sat overnight to smoke. I wanted to try some smoked pistachios too; I found a reference how to do them on pelletheads forum. Squirtthecat’s recipe sounded pretty hot so I just used his cook temps & times as a guide. I heated a TBS of butter in a skillet, added a TBS of pepperoncini pepper juice, 2 cups pistachios, stirred & added some of Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. I wanted to just use some CA style ground garlic but was out. The pistachios I used were from Sams, already roasted and salted, so didn’t want much more salt. I stirred them just long enough to get them coated well. I placed the crackers & pistachios in my wire basket & on the smoker at 170-180 deg. I had also bought a small chunk of grits from Kah’s Meat I wanted to try. I don’t know why he calls them grits since they don’t have grits in them, steel cut oats instead. They are a lot like his pan pudding. Years ago I used to buy pan pudding that had large grits in them & loved it. Most of the people at pelletheads said they would not eat the pan pudding. If you like something like that it is extra good smoked. I did the crackers about an hour; the pistachios another half hour then wet to 300deg. to finish the grits to 155 deg IT. Everything tasted good. So far I have done almonds & pistachios, I can’t taste that much smoke but they taste better than before smoking. The crackers do take on a good smoke taste.
In between smoking I cleaned my hummingbird feeders & added new sugar water. I have 6 feeders up & been feeding them about 25 yrs now. The Ruby Throated ones we have migrate to Mexico or S. America for the winter. I get them coming through in the spring & a few stay for the summer. Then I get them going south in the fall.
At 2:00 today I got two pork butts, total of 17 lbs, marinating. I usually use red wine vinegar to wet them down & hold the rub. This time I use Carolina style vinegar sauce then used some Bone Suckin Sauce rub on them, wrapped in saran wrap & in the fridge.
After supper we watched TV then I went to bed at 8 pm. I got up at midnight, cleaned up the smoker, loaded it up with pellets. I just got them in the smoker at 1:00 am, at 180 deg. I will probably wait to 9:00 am to look at them & insert temp probes.

Pickling ingredients

Finished Green Tomatoes

Coating the Pistachios

Smoked Pistachios

Smoked Cajun Crackers

Kah's Grits

Smoked Grits & Crackers

Smokin Don

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cajun Crackers

It’s a cool rainy fall day here in Ohio. I decided to make up a batch of Cajun crackers this morning; one of my favorite snacks & to eat with appetizers. I got the recipe from my Texan sister. It is made from saltine crackers, olive oil, crushed red pepper & Hidden Valley’s original ranch dressing mix. I tamed it down some, 1 heaping TBS of crushed red pepper is enough for me and ½ package of the dressing mix makes it less salty. I also found ¾ cup of olive oil is plenty. I have tried it with other buttery crackers but the saltines are best for my taste. For this batch I used Nabisco’s Premium fat free with sea salt.

Update: after crackers sat overnight not soaking up the olive oil well, do not use fat free crackers.

I know this is not pellet smoked but they go well with smoked appetizers. I just might try to smoke some, may be good! A lot of pelletheads have smoked the rice cereal snack mix so why not crackers. I will come back & update with a photo of them after they soak up all that good stuff.

Printable cracker recipe


Olive oil mix

Drizzled on crackers

After first mix

It has been raining all day so I decided to try smoking some Cajun crackers and bought some all natural almonds to smoke too. For the almonds I sprayed with olive oil & added McCormicks CA. style coarse grind garlic with parsley and some sea salt. I nuked the almonds for 2 min in the microwave stirring after 1 min. I placed the crackers & almonds in my Pampered Chef wire basket, got them on smoking at an average 180 deg. Tasted a cracker after 45 min. & they were done. I could taste some smoke but they were a little dry so I would say wait & do them after sitting over night until they soak up the olive oil. Mine had only sat about 6 hours. I went to 225 for 15 more minutes on the almonds. They were good but should have put more olive oil on them, I thought I had almost too much. I could also taste some smoke in the almonds. Next spring I may break down & buy a Smoke Daddy so I can get some more smoke in things like this and do some cold smoking too. For a snack I had some of the smoked Cajun crackers, 3 with some mustard & my smoked ring bologna and 3 with mustard & my Ohio Country Pâté, pan pudding. What a treat!!

Crackers & Almonds smoking

Almonds cooling

My appetizers

Smokin Don

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Slow Cooked Roaster Chicken & Veggies

We just had a fine meal and now winding down the day. My wife is in watching the Emmy’s, she loves those award shows. I am relaxing, writing this for my blog. I bought a nice 6 lb. roaster chicken at Meijers Grocery the other day. Their chicken is all natural, clean & nice looking out of the package. Wanting to try something just a little different with chicken on the smoker I decided to do it slow cook style. I had fingerling potatoes left to use & for other veggies would use, onions, celery, carrots, and cauliflower. I planned to Sear it for a period first, then add to a foil roaster pan along with the veggies, and chicken broth, cover with foil & slow cook until done. I knew I would not get much smoke flavor but it would be fun to try on the smoker, besides I had outside work to do & could keep an eye on it. I was making a covered box to hide two unsightly gas bottles I keep on hand, & was using up some of the scrap wood from building my deck. I rinsed the chicken, cut excess fat off, rubbed with butter, salt & pepper. I placed it in a V – rack to sear at 375 deg for ½ hour. I had it on at 1:30. 400 deg might have worked better & maybe a little longer, but I was getting pressed for time to get this done at 6:00. While the chicken was searing I cut up my veggies, celery, onions & carrots, placed in the bottom of the foil roaster for a bed to place the chicken on. At 2:00 I placed the chicken on the veggies, arranged the potatoes & cauliflower around it, added some garlic granules & back on the smoker at 225 deg. That would be about 250 deg grill temp on my smoker. At 2:30 I added a couple of bay leaves & about ½ quart of Swanson’s chicken broth, covered with foil to slow cook. I had inserted a temp probe. Then I got busy staining my box I had finished up, it will match my deck. About 4:30 I was finishing up the stain & the chicken was doing good. It started to cloud up & looked like rain so I got two saw horses out, covered the box with plastic & bricks to hold it down for the rain coming later tonight. At 5:00 the chicken was at 180 deg IT breast, so knew it was done. I put away my paint. At 5:30 I took the chicken inside, placed it on a tray to cool some, added the veggies & broth to a Dutch oven, covered & in a 200 deg oven. I let the chicken cool about 15 min, I decided to just use half of the 6 lb chicken & save the other half. I removed the skin, pulled the meat & added to the Dutch oven & back in the oven. I needed to relax a little before we ate & the wife said she could wait. At 6:45 I served it with some good bread & butter. It was pretty darn good. I would like to try it again, sear at 400 deg then on smoke for an hour to see if I could get some smoke flavor in the chicken. I think a roaster chicken could take the smoke better than a fryer, since it is fatter & juicer. This one was plenty moist when I pulled it, the dog & I had a couple samples!

Roaster Chicken

Bed of Veggies

Potatoes, Cauliflower, & Broth

Seared & added to veggies

On the smoker

Veggies added to Dutch Oven

Chicken resting

Chicken Pulled

All in the Pot

My Plate

Smokin Don