Monday, October 31, 2011

Mohunken & Memphis Dry Rub Ribs

Early in my trials of smoking ribs I have favored dry rubbed ribs over the ones slathered with BBQ sauce. Most smoker cooks slather the ribs with mustard for the glue to hold the rub, rub in the rub, wrap, & in the fridge overnight. I found my favorite was to wet down the ribs with just enough red wine vinegar to make them damp, add the rub, wrap in saran wrap, & in the fridge overnight. I don’t usually rub in the rub, just sprinkle on heavily. My favorite rub has been Penzey’s Galena Street Chicken & Rib Rub. It’s not heavy on salt, just good flavor. I have usually done them at 225 deg for 3 to 4 hours.

After joining pelletheads forum about 2 years ago I have looked at many methods, rubs, & sauces for ribs. One that stood out was Savannah Smokers Mohunken Rib Rub; many members used the recipe & liked it. Like many cooks; when you have a recipe you like you hate to change. I finally decided to try Savannah’s rub. I also found a recipe at for Memphis Dry Ribs that I wanted to try. I decided I would do up two slabs of baby back ribs to try both rubs. I knew how mine tasted & could compare the two to mine.

I have been getting good baby back ribs from Sam’s Club, 3 slabs in a kyropac. My wife said I am going to Sam’s & will get them for you. I said make sure you get them in the kyropac, buy the cheapest since they will be the smallest by weight. She came home with one slab on Styrofoam wrapped with saran wrap. Oh well decided to just cut them in half so I could still try the two rubs. They are good ribs from a local butcher that does Sam’s fresh meats.

This evening I removed the membrane, & cut the slab in half, slathered up one half with mustard & rubbed in Savannah’s Mohunken rub. The other half I rubbed in the Memphis dry rub, the recipe did not call for any glue, just the rub. Tomorrow night will be smokin time & I will update with photos & my thoughts.

Two Rubs Mixed

Two textures

My Kyropac Ribs :)

Mohunken Ribs

Memphis Dry Ribs

Wrapped to Marinate Overnight

Update after smoking ribs
I smoked my Mohunken & Memphis dry ribs today. I mixed 2 Tbs. Memphis dry rub & 1 Tbs. kosher salt in ¾ cup apple juice for mop sauce. I could not put 4 Tbs. salt in per the recipe & wish I had left out the 1 Tbs. and I am a salt lover. I had some plain apple juice for the Mohunken ribs if they needed it.

I put them on, meat side up, at 225 deg. I mopped the Memphis ribs after ½ hour. After that I mopped both every hour. At the 1 hour mark I turned them meat side down for the next hour, then meat side up for the last two hours. Total cook time was 4 hours and I went to 300 deg for the last half hour to finish.

I did our favorite baked potatoes with an aluminum heat rod inserted, in the oven at 350 deg. for 1 ½ hours. They come out crispy like potato skins. Large potatoes need 2 hours.
I nuked some asparagus I had drizzled with olive oil & salt and pepper for 8 min. Topped with some Philly cooking cream, tomato basil flavor. The ribs sat foil covered while cooking the asparagus.

We both liked the SS Mohunken ribs the best. I did cut the white sugar and the black & cayenne pepper in half from Savannah’s recipe. I also did not cover with orange slices for the overnight marinade like Savannah usually does. If you try the Memphis dry recipe I would recommend mopping with just plain apple juice. I also put too much rub on them, I used most of the recipe & it was really for two slabs, so just use half on one slab.

Sorry Savannah, I did not like your rub as well as my usual Penzey’s Galena Street Rub.
To be fare though it may shine more when paired with a good sauce. This was not the best rack of back ribs I have had so didn’t compliment either rub. I held 225 deg pretty close through the cook and this would translate to about 245 deg at grill level on my Traeger.

After overnight marinade

At 3 hours

Ready for a rest


My Plate

Smokin Don

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Smothered BBQ Chicken over Cheesy Mush

I ask my wife if she wanted BBQ chicken today, we were both getting a little tired of pork & beef. I remembered some BBQ chicken from years ago. I took my son, when he was about 8 or 9 to a primitive black powder meat in Southern Indiana & we camped overnight. That was about 30 years ago! A guy there was selling BBQ chicken halves; he had two pots set up on gas burners. One pot was boiling water & one was BBQ sauce. He was continually adding & changing the chicken. It was delicious, fall off the bone, & some good sauce.

I wanted to duplicate this on my pellet grill, I knew it would not be the same but wanted to come close. I had some Red Pig Inn BBQ sauce I wanted to try, a 16 oz. bottle. The Red Pig Inn is a BBQ place in Ottawa, Ohio & has been in business 33 years, winning many awards, for their ribs, in NW Ohio BBQ events. The last time I ate there was at least 15 years ago. I opened the sauce & tasted, heavy on vinegar, probably close to a Western N. Carolina sauce. I let the wife taste it & we decided I would add some brown sugar.

I had a split fryer to use. A cut up one was $3 more & I can cut it up for $3. I knew my 9 inch skillet was too small so I got my 12 inch from the shed, it looked too big & shallow. So off to WalMart to see if they had a chicken fryer, they carry Lodge Cast Iron Ware. They had one, 10 ¼ inches, with a lid so that was perfect. I had been wanting one anyway, & this was an early Christmas present. I would initiate it with my BBQ chicken.

I skinned the chicken, to cut down on the fat, rinsed & dried. In a dish, added salt & pepper drizzled olive oil over, some chopped garlic and mixed to coat well. I placed it on the grill, smoke mode at 180 deg. for a half hour. Upped the temp to 350 deg for another half hour & turned the chicken after 15 min. I preheated the chicken fryer, sprayed on a little olive oil then added the chicken. I put about 2 Tbs of brown sugar over the chicken, poured in a half can of beer, then enough BBQ sauce to just about cover. Dark beer would have been better but all I had on hand was my faithful Keystone so the had to do.I placed the lid on, back on the smoker, & turned the smoker back to 250 deg I left it there with lid on for two hours then removed the lid for another ½ hour. Total cook time 3 ½ hours.

I was going to serve the chicken over some cheesy corn meal mush and I had a bag of frozen peas in a steamer bag for on the side. I brought the chicken in & on a med low burner while I made the mush & steamed the peas. For the mush I followed the directions on the box, Quaker brand, & it thickened up faster than I thought it would. I added a little heavy cream, a cup of shredded sharp cheddar & stirred to melt & blend. I served it up with some bread & butter. Very tasty & made a pretty serving. This is a recipe I will use again & I did like the BBQ sauce too.

Chicken seasoned

On the smoker

In the skillet

Beer & sauce added

About ready

Ready to serve

My Bowl

My Supper

Smokin Don

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beef Pot Roast & Cheesy Cabbage Head

Awhile back I spotted a cabbage recipe over at Tango Joes blog. I love cabbage & this was one I had to try soon. Cabbage goes best with beef, at least to me. The cabbage had to cook over 3 hours at 250 deg. I thought a slow cooked pot roast would be good to cook it with. At the grocery I picked up, cabbage, carrots, parsnips, a jar of garlic, mozzarella cheese, and beef broth. At my butchers I picked out an arm roast just over 2 lbs.

I figured on 5 hours for the total cook, 5 hours for the pot roast and 4 hours for the cabbage. Our usual supper time is 6 PM so I needed to get the roast on at 1:00. At noon I sprayed the roast with a little olive oil and rubbed some Penzey’s Beef Roast seasoning on & back in the fridge. I fired up the Traeger on smoke mode & it settled down to about 185 deg. I got the roast on at 1:00 & would smoke for one hour. I paired out the core of the cabbage, some salt & pepper, added about 4 tsp of the canned garlic, 3 slices of onions, 4 pats of butter, and double wrapped in foil. I made a ring from foil to hold the cabbage upright on the grill. I sprayed a deep foil roasting pan with some olive oil & added 3 thick slices of onion to lay the roast on. At 2:00 I upped the temp to 225 deg, this would give me about 250 deg at grill level on my Traeger. I added the cabbage to the grill & placed the roast in the roaster pan.

I then prepared the potatoes, carrots, & parsnips, added them to the foil pan & added enough beef broth to almost cover the roast, covered the pan with foil & all was ready to cook for 3 hours before I needed to do anymore. This time I used to do some fall chores.
I removed the window screens to store for the winter, changed the screen to glass in the front screen door.

When I put the roast on & covered I had inserted a temp probe, & by 4:00 it was up to 170 deg. I checked the cabbage & it felt soft so I told the wife it may be ready just after 5:00. A little before 5 I removed the cabbage; opened & turned the foil down around the cabbage & back on the grill. I mounded up some shredded mozzarella cheese in the center. At 5:10 I took the roaster pan inside, placed it on a med high burner, removed the meat. I trimmed the fat & sliced then back in the roaster pan. I placed some leftover crusty bread in foil & in a 200 deg oven to refresh. At 5:25 I brought the cabbage in & sliced. Plated it all up on trays & we went in to watch a little TV while we ate. After I took the photo of my plate I mashed up my veggies & topped with some butter & broth.
The carrots & cabbage was just a tad underdone. I should have stuck to my 6:00 time!
It was really tasty & wasn’t worth trying to nuke to cook more. Loved that cabbage, thanks for the recipe Tango Joe! The beef was tender & had a little smoke ring, but a standard chuck roast is hard to beat for pot roast.

Arm roast


Cabbage cored

Garlic added

Ready to foil

Carrots & parsnips

On the grill

Pot Roast ready

Cabbage ready

Cabbage sliced

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pulled Pork Chili

I can’t remember what the first thing I ever cooked after getting married. It was probably burgers on the grill or chili. I never had a go to chili recipe, I have tried many recipes and made up my own, and each batch was different. I always told my wife this is the best chili I ever made! I usually used ground beef, sometimes adding some ground sausage, and I have used diced up sirloin for Texas style chili. I like Texas chili if it’s served over rice. I have never had any chicken chili I really like, especially if it does not have chili powder in it. How can it be chili without chili powder?

My basics for chili are; meat, tomatoes, beans, and chili powder. This past year I made a batch of chili that the wife & I both thought was among the best. I wrote down the ingredients and now that is the basic recipe I follow.

Fall weather brings out my hunger for chili. Tomorrow is “trick or treat” night for here so I needed something quick for supper before about 200 kids show up at the door in an hour and a half for their treats. For years my wife has dressed up & sat on the porch to greet the Halloweeners and give out the candy.

I had two pounds of pulled pork frozen & would use it in the chili, black beans & some corn to make it southwestern style. I ran a knife through the pork to chop a little smaller. I sautéed a chopped onion & garlic then added the pork till cooking through, added the seasoning to the meat. A Mexican friend at work told me his Mother always added the seasoning to the meat and not later on. I added 1 bottle of dark beer & stirred to deglaze the pan, added a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, 2 cans of mild green chili’s, and a few drops of Cholula hot sauce. I simmered this for 2 hours; you have to cook chili 3 hours to meld all the flavors.

After simmering for two hours I added 2 cans of pinto beans, rinsed a can of black beans & added it, a can of white corn, and the juice of ½ lime. I simmered this for another hour thinning with chicken broth. I usually use beef broth but thought the chicken broth would work better with the pork. I served it with a handful of Mexican style shredded cheese and some sour cream. Buttered crackers are a must to have with chili. It was pretty good & the wife said she liked the pork better than ground beef. It will taste better tomorrow!

Printable Chili Recipe

Chili Fixins

Chili Powders

Chopped Pork

Pork & seasoning

All in the Pot

My Bowl

Smokin Don

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greek Seasoned Pork & Fennel Gratin

Today was another nice day to be outdoors, sunny & I think it was about 65. I had found a recipe for spicy candied pecans, on, I wanted to try on the smoker. I mixed up the spices & sugar, melted the butter in a skillet, added the pecans & spices, and mixed well. On the smoker, in my Weber pan, at 180 deg for 20 min then went to 225 for another 20 min. I stirred them every 10 min. When they cooled I tasted & tasted again & again. I called that my breakfast!!

Went through my carryout to replenish my beer & they had brisket sandwiches done on a Traeger Texan so that was my lunch. I hope it gets to be a regular on the menu, it was great!

I had a 3 lb. bone in Pork Loin Sirloin roast I wanted to do along with some fennel gratin. The fennel gratin recipe also came from I remembered someone on pelletheads forum had said Greek seasoning was good on pork. I found a Greek Seasoning Mix recipe at that looked good to me, & would go well with the fennel gratin. Two hours before cook time I mixed 2 Tbs. olive oil & 3 tsp. lemon juice and rubbed on the roast. I mixed up the Greek seasoning & coated the pork roast well; covered with saran wrap & back in the fridge.

I got the roast on at 3:30, along with two potatoes, smoke mode about 185 deg average for ½ hour. I prepared the two fennel bulbs, garlic, one onion cut in wedges. Arranged in a 9 inch square pan, added 2 cups chicken broth & salt & pepper. Placed on the smoker at 4:00 & went to 225 deg for another 1/2 hour. At 4:30 I inserted the temp probe & went to 325 deg. After twenty min. it looked to me like the roast was going up in temp too fast for the 6:00 time I told my wife we would eat, she went to a movie with friends. I dropped the temp back to 300 deg for the rest of the cook.

My wife got home & about 6:40 the roast was at 165 deg IT. I pulled & tented it with foil. Added a Tbs. of heavy cream to each half of fennel bulb, a little fresh grated nutmeg, & parmesan cheese, under the broiler until cheese was melted & browning some. I served all with some good crusty bread. The fennel could have been a little more done but tasted great. My wife commented how good the pork was, that seasoning is a winner! The plating lacks color so if serving guests some parsley or green garnish would look good.

Link to Pecan Recipe

Link to Fennel Gratin Recipe

Link to Greek Seasoning Recipe

Spicy Pecans

Pork Seasoned

On the Smoker & ready

Fennel just off the Smoker

My Plate

Smokin Don

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs and Brussels Sprout Salad

Yesterday, Oct 22 turned out to be a nice fall day. The sun came out in the afternoon, the first time since we came home from Las Vegas. I made up my meatballs in the morning, using a recipe from CTown Fisherman over at pelletheads forum, as a guide. I made large, 2 ½ inch meatballs using 1 lb of ground chuck & 1 lb of fresh ground sausage. I had 9 meatballs & would use some leftover spaghetti sauce, some Classico tomato & basil I had doctored up with sautéed pepper, onions & garlic and added some Italian seasoning mix. My meatball recipe would also do well for MOINKS, by changing the ketchup to your favorite BBQ sauce. If you don’t know what MOINKS are they are ground meat, meatballs about 1 to 1 ½ inch. Cubes of cheese sometimes added in the middle, jalapenos can be used too, all wrapped in bacon & smoked on a pellet grill. They make great appetizers.

I also would have the Brussels Sprouts salad with cranberries, toasted walnuts, & lardons topped with a mustard vinaigrette and some garlic bread. Cleaning the sprouts was the worst part; you must core them enough to separate into leaves. This salad is a taste treat, my wife does not like Brussels Sprouts but loved this salad, does not usually like nuts in her salad but liked the toasted walnuts. I will post a printable recipe for the salad & the meatballs.

I did my meatballs on smoke 180 deg for ½ hour using my Weber grill pan then went to 300 deg for another ½ hour. Then into a preheated cast iron skillet, sprayed w/olive oil, poured my favorite spaghetti sauce over and back on the smoker for another ½ hour. I took the skillet in & on a burner covered in foil to hold while getting the pasta & garlic bread ready. I had some roasted garlic bread from Krogers that I finished baking at home, added some butter & garlic powder then toasted under the broiler. All tasted good & the wife & I especially like the salad I learned how to make at my cooking school at the Mon Ami Gabi in Las Vegas.

Printable Salad Recipe

Printable Meatball Recipe

Meatballs made

Ready for the skillet

Sauce added

My Salad

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Smokin Deck Winterized

We returned from Las Vegas tuesday evening. My first agenda was to pickup my dog Mag at the kennels on wed. We ran into rain on the way home tuesday and it never stopped until thursday night. I had 4 1/2 inches in my rain gage. I had ordered two canvas tarps to hang on two walls of my smokin deck for cooking in the winter. Since my deck was small, 6X6 foot, I figured this would help keep the snow at bay for some winter cooks. The tarps came the day before we left so I was anxious to get them up when we got home. I got them installed today & was pleased with the results. Here are a couple of photos of my deck.

Smokin Don

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mon Ami Gabi Cooking School

Saturday morning I was up bright & early ready for school! My son dropped me off at the Mon Ami Gabi & took the rest of the family to go up in the Stratosphere for some fun rides. My wife wanted to go zip line, but she settled for a ride, Big Shot at the top of the Stratosphere. The ride goes from 921 feet to just over 1000 feet then drops at 45 mph & then goes a second time. Our grandson wanted to go but was just ¼ inch too short.

A description of the Cooking School:
Give ordinary recipes a fresh, new spin with a hint of fall at Mon Ami Gabi on Saturday, Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., as the restaurant hosts its French Classics Cooking Class. Guests will get the inside scoop on some of the restaurant’s favorite recipes from Executive Chef Terry Lynch, including the refreshing Brussels sprout salad with dried cranberries, walnuts and bacon and the savory braised lamb shank with orzo pasta and goat cheese. While enjoying a taste of these must-try offerings, guests can cheers to the weekend and enjoy perfectly paired wines. Everyone knows dinner wouldn’t be complete without dessert, and at this class, guests will learn the secrets behind the sweetly-prepared pumpkin tarte tatin with whipped cream - a sure-to-be new favorite. Can’t wait to start whipping up these delectable recipes in your own home? All those attending the fun, interactive class will receive a recipe booklet, compliments of Mon Ami Gabi.

I am an elbows on the table, covered with a cheap oil cloth, kind if diner; but I do enjoy some fine dining once in awhile. I didn’t know what to expect of the school; especially the lamb shanks. I can’t remember eating lamb since I was in Turkey, compliments of the USAF, in 1964. I liked the lamb shish kabobs from the street vendors, done on little charcoal grills.

There were 28 people in the class, about 5 to 1 women. It was more like a cooking show, only 3 people getting some hands on. Exec. Chef Terry Lynch was very informative as he went through the salad, entre, and dessert courses; giving good tips. The Brussels sprout salad was delicious; not tasting like the Brussels sprouts I have done. Each sprout was trimmed, cored & the leaves separated; boiled for only 15 seconds then cooled in ice water. The Chef said most people overcook the sprouts & get a strong cabbage taste, these were sweet tasting & the dried cranberries, walnuts, lardoons, & vinaigrette paired perfectly.

The lamb shanks were good, plenty of meat, I could not eat it all. To me it tasted like mild beef, very tender & not at all what I expected. I ask the Chef about doing the braising on my pellet smoker. He ask; what kind of wood & I answered oak. He said I would do the whole thing on it. Lamb is hard to find here in Mid-West Ohio but will try it if I can find some.

For dessert the pumpkin tarte tatin was great. Not much of a dessert person this is one I loved. I thought the pumpkin tasted a lot like sweet potatoes; and I suppose they could be used as well as about any fruit like apples or pears. Basically it was sugar & a little water cooked to a caramel state, poured into a ramekin; pumpkin sautéed in brown sugar & butter; this tops the caramel and baked for 20 min. Then a pie crust is placed on top & baked for another 10 min. All is inverted onto a plate to serve & makes a nice presentation.

It was a wonderful experience for me; I was so engrossed I didn’t get many photos of the food. I missed the salad & dessert totally & only got a photo of the Lamb Shanks after I had eaten some.

Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

Entrance to Mon Ami Gabi


Chef trimming the Lamb Shanks

Lamb Shanks

Browned Lamb Shanks

My Plate

Chef signing autographs