Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Spatchcocked Organic Chicken

Thanksgiving is over, all our children made it home safe, it’s been rainy & cold, and I am kinda in the Holiday letdown mode! It was fun to cook for a large bunch once again. On Saturday I bought two organic chickens, two bunches of asparagus, & elbow pasta for Mac & cheese. I planned on spatchcocking the two chickens and doing them & the asparagus on my Traeger smoker. I would have it for a late lunch Sunday before our daughter headed back to St Charles, IL, and our son & family headed to Cincinnati to fly home to Las Vegas, Nev. Our son & family had already made plans to eat at their favorite pizza place & visit with friends. I told my wife & daughter they should go out to eat then I would not have to cook at all. I stayed home with the dog!

Monday I planned on doing the two chickens for our supper. I would have plenty of leftovers & could take some to my Mother. I always figure in some for Mom when I cook, she is 90 years young today, Nov. 29th!

Sunday evening I spatchcocked the two chickens, I cut 3 slices a little into the meat, in each breast half, two in the thighs, & one in the legs. I placed them in a large Dutch oven dish, poured the marinade over & in the fridge overnight. My thinking here was it would let the marinade impart more flavor, more of the fat would render out while cooking & help crisp up the skin.

Monday I got my Mac & cheese ready to put in the oven. I had just bought a cast iron smoke box, some lump charcoal, and some apple wood chips. I wanted to try this & see if I could get more smoke & the apple wood flavor in the chicken. I loaded the box with some of the lump charcoal & apple wood; lit the charcoal with a propane torch & then I fired up my Traeger & it settled into 180 deg. I took each chicken out of the marinade just letting drip some then on a tray & sprinkled with some Penzey’s chicken & rib rub. I placed them in the smoker. I left them on smoke for one hour then turned it up to 375 deg until I the IT of the legs & thighs were at 185 deg, this took another hour. My Mac & cheese was in the oven for 45 min. & I had some Allen’s seasoned cabbage heated up.

The chicken was great, moist, & skin was crispy, even though a little too brown. Next time will stick with my usual 325 deg until about 165 to 170 IT & then go to 375 deg to finish. My Mac & cheese was good & the cabbage was good. I had completely forgotten about the asparagus I had & would have been a little better than the cabbage! The forgetting comes with my age!

My trial with the smoke box didn’t work too well, only about half the wood burned, as you can see in the photo. I need to get the charcoal burning hotter and placing on top of the heat shield instead of the grate may work better in my Traeger. The ignition temp of most wood is around 340 deg.

For our supper last night my wife had the breast & I had a leg & thigh. I have one & a half chicken leftover. A half chicken will be for my Mom & I will make creamed chicken from the other. For tonight’s supper we will have the creamed chicken over Texas garlic toast, the leftover Mac & cheese, and some of the forgotten asparagus!

Printable Marinade Recipe

Organic Chicken

Spatchcocked & sliced


Seasoned & ready for the smoker

After 1 hour on smoke

Ready & you can see here all the wood in the smoke box did not burn

Ready to serve

My wife's plate

My Plate

Smokin Don

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow Nov. 24th is Thanksgiving Day. It is a day we celebrate, with family, giving thanks, here in the U.S. The traditional meal usually is, a roasted turkey & dressing, mashed potatoes & gravy or some prefer candied sweet potatoes. Some cranberries prepared in some way, and a green bean casserole is almost a must have. For desserts pumpkin & pecan pies are a favorite.

This year will be special for us, the first time in awhile all our children & our grandson will be here, at the same time. My oldest daughter & husband from Indiana, Our daughter from Illinois and our son, wife & their son from Las Vegas, Nevada. We will also be having our Christmas.

I decided to be a little untraditional this year. I smoked a 14 lb beef brisket over a week ago & decided if it turned out good I would vacuum pack & freeze. It turned out great so I will just have to heat in a Crockpot with some beef broth and have sandwiches from it. I will have cheesy scalloped potatoes, green bean casserole, & fresh corn pudding. The corn was cut from the cob, vacuum packed & frozen from this summer’s corn.

My appetizers will be a veggie platter with dip, smoked pistachios, mixed nuts, pomegranate salsa, smoked Cajun crackers and some hot cheese dip with corn chips. The dip I made from a can of Rico’s white Queso Blanco cheese, a can of Skyline Cincinnati Style Chili, 2 heaping tablespoons of Kraft Philly cooking cream, Santa Fe flavor, and about a cup of shredded Mexican cheese blend.

Our desserts will be a pumpkin roll; my wife bought from her little sister. She was selling them for her school class. I am making a cream cheese peach cobbler & will serve it with some cool whip.

I will post some photos later. Happy Thanksgiving!

Our Thanksgiving meal is all over, all turned out good. Well all except I missed photos of my plate somehow. I thought I took 2 photos but they didn't get recorded on the card. Here are a few of the photos I did get.

Pomegranate Salsa

Dessert, Cream Cheese Peach Cobbler

Fixins, canned, vacumm packed, & fresh

Veggie Platter

Sides, CW from left, cheesey potatoes, green bean casserole, corn pudding, and sweet potatoes

Beef Brisket in Broth

I served buffet style & here is our table, set by my wife.

Smokin Don

Monday, November 21, 2011

Angus Strip Steaks

We don’t have steak that much anymore, & I was getting hungry for one. My favorite was the ones my Mom used to do. Her brother, a butcher, used to cut them special. One inch thick as big as a plate, porter house! She always over cooked them but they were tender & tasty. My favorite eating out was a filet mingon at Ruths Chris. My favorite cut used to be T-bone but now I would rather have ribeyes.

My butcher had some Angus strip steaks on special for $4.35 each. I picked out two that had some marbling. They were thinner than I would have liked a good 5/8 inch. Strip steaks are my least favorite of the steak cuts, usually not that tender. I would use a little help with Adolph’s tenderizer, no MSG. It’s a natural product made from papayas. My seasoning would be Reese’s Steak Salt; it is flake salt, black pepper, garlic powder, & celery seed.

My method I borrowed from fellow pellethead, billsbar. 40 min. on smoke 165 deg, then remove from the smoker; turn smoker to 400+ deg then do until desired doneness. About 2 hours before cook time I sprinkled the steaks with some Adolph’s; covered with saran wrap & in the fridge.

At 4:30 fired up the Traeger on smoke mode, it settled to 170 deg +- 5 deg. I peeled & cut up some potatoes, drizzled w/olive oil, salt & pepper, in the oven at 350 deg. I trimmed the asparagus, drizzled w/olive oil, white balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. I put into the microwave to nuke when steaks were done. I had a loaf of take home & finish bake bread I would put on the smoker w/the steaks.

I got the steaks, seasoned & on just after 5:00, after 35 min. on smoke I pulled to rest until the smoker hit 400 deg. In 15 min. the smoker was at 410 deg. Put the steaks on, about 3 min later put the bread on. I turned the steaks after 6 min; did another 6 min. I pulled all to serve. Earlier I had nuked the asparagus to get done with the steaks. I rested the steaks & bread awhile. I cut the bread & served the wife & I.

Bottom line was the steaks were just a little over done, about 4 min per side would have done it. They did have a little pink, reminded me of Mom’s steaks; overdone but tender & tasty! For me the seasoning was just right.

The Steaks

After Smoke for 35 min.

Bread & Steaks Ready

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Muffin Pan Chicken Thighs

I remember watching a BBQ competition, on TV, several years ago where Myron Mixon did his chicken thighs in a muffin pan. I thought that would be good to try. I finally decided to give it a try. I did some research on the net. On pelletheads forum there was one who did it but not many. I found several other recipes; one on Oprah.com said it was Myron’s recipe. It seemed a little over complicated to me & the total cook time of 2 hours & 45 min seemed like way too long. Some loaded them up with Parkay, but I know when it says use Parkay, butter is much better!

I bought a cheap 6 muffin pan, for large muffins, & drilled 4 holes in each muffin cup for some draining. I bought a package of thighs that had six, just right. The evening before I skinned & saved the skin. I deboned them & trimmed off excess fat. Placed them in a tupper ware bowl & covered with buttermilk. Thighs & skin went in the fridge for overnight.

My niece had given me some of her organically grown sweet potatoes & decided to have one with the chicken. One was all I needed at almost 2 lbs. I could put it on a half hour before the chicken; I figured the chicken would take an hour to an hour & a half. Sweet potatoes do well even if overcooked.

I preheated my Traeger to 300 deg. I had cut the sweet potato crossways & inserted brown sugar & butter between each slice. I triple wrapped in foil & on the grill at 4:30.
I drained the chicken in a colander, added some Penzey’s Galena Street chicken & rib rub. I sprayed the muffin pan with olive oil & a small pat of butter in each cup. I folded the thighs, small side under, & placed in each cup, brushed on some melted butter, then some more Penzey’s seasoning. I trimmed each saved skin & placed over top, tucking in with a kitchen knife & a little more Penzey’s seasoning. I placed a large pat of butter on each one & got them on the smoker just after 5:00. At 5:40 I checked & they were up to 170 IT. I removed them from the muffin pan & on the grill, upped the temp to 350 deg to finish. I brushed more butter on & took them off at 6:10. Just over an hour for the thighs.

I covered with foil while I nuked a steamer bag of veggies. I served my wife then myself & in the room to watch TV. When I walked in she said delicious. I definitely will fix these again, I think it’s the first time my wife has liked thighs! They had a little crust on the bottom & were moist inside, the skin was good too. They also make a nice presentation.

1 7/8 Pound Sweet Potato

Butter & Sugar Added

Thighs drained & seasoned

Muffin Pan Ready

Thighs Added

Skins Seasoning & Butter Added

On the Smoker

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, November 18, 2011

Smoked Sausage, Cabbage, & Potato Soup

Yesterday was a perfect day for soup, a cold 36 deg & 10 to 20 mph winds all day. It was a bone chilling cold for me! I am glad I have 3 sides of my smokin deck covered now. I still could not get warm with my heat lamp overhead & the smoker running.

I decided to make some smoked sausage, cabbage, & potato soup. I had a finish bake at home Focaccia bread to have with the soup. I am getting to love that finish at home baked bread. I had a pound of good fresh sausage from my butcher. I smoked it at 175 deg for one hour, then 225 deg for another hour, then 300 deg for 15 min.

I was glad to get back in the warmth of my kitchen to finish up the soup. When the soup was done I popped the bread in a 375 deg oven for 10 min. The wife & I enjoyed the soup and warm bread & butter. It hit the spot & warmed me up.

Printable Soup Recipe


Some of the Fixins

Sausage Smoked

Sausage sliced

Sausage & Veggies in the Pot

Soup Simmering

The Bread

My Supper

Smokin Don

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brisket for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving will be special to me, the first time in awhile; I will have all of my family here. My oldest daughter & husband from Indiana, my school teacher daughter from Illinois, my son, daughter-in-law, & grandson from Las Vegas. My son & family will just be here the one day & head to Toledo to have Thanksgiving with his wife’s family the next day. Since they will have turkey there; I decided to have beef. I am really not a turkey person anyway.

I had planned on smoking some chuck roasts & shredding; then heating in a Crockpot for my meal. I don’t usually like to buy meat from Wal Mart but saw this 14 lb. brisket on sale for $1.90 a lb. I would buy it & if it turned out good would have it re-heated with some good au jus.

I trimmed some of the fat off, but left most of the fat cap on. I seasoned it up; top & sides with some of Penzey’s beef seasoning, cracked black pepper, and dried garlic & onion flakes. I wrapped in saran wrap & in the fridge about noon. I planned to get it on at 10:00 PM so it would sit 10 hours.

That evening I got the smoker fired up on smoke mode then went to 180 deg. It settled to 175 to 190 deg. so put the brisket on at 10 PM; fat side down. I placed it fat cap on the right side of my Traeger; it runs hotter. I got up at 4 AM & everything was going fine so went back to bed. Awoke at 7 AM & all was going good, added some pellets & inserted a temp probe at 8 AM. IT, (internal temp) was at 154 deg.

At 9 AM the IT was at 168 deg; at 9:30 IT was at 169 deg. It was in the stall so I decided to foil it. I double wrapped it along with ¾ cup of beef broth; Swanson’s low fat, no MSG. I added a second temp probe in the flat end. I upped the smoker to 225 deg. When the cap end was 190 deg the flat end was at 175 deg; I turned the brisket 180 deg. It finished with the cap end at 200 deg & the flat end at 193 deg at 11:30; a total of 13 ½ hours. I removed it & placed in a pre-heated 200 deg oven, turned the oven off & let it rest for one hour. I poured off the juices cooled in the fridge & skimmed off the fat later. I cut the brisket in half; wrapped in foil & in the fridge to cool for slicing.

I trimmed the fat, & sliced into less than ¼ inch slices. I saved out some to have for our supper & see how good it was. I got two one gallon bags of nice slices & one bag of burnt ends vacuum packed & in the freezer.

For our supper I placed the brisket in a pan, some of the au jus, & enough beef broth to cover. I had some leftover baby gold potatoes I sliced & browned up in olive oil. For a veggie I had a steamer bag of Green Giant cauliflower, sugar snap peas, carrots, & dried cranberries in a butter sauce. What they don’t come up with! It even had a little circle that would read done when it was nuked long enough. It all came together good. We had the beef as a sandwich, mustard & Claussens dill pickle slices. The beef was super tender & will be our Thanksgiving meat. We both loved the veggies, it made for a colorful plate, and what a time saver.

Beef Brisket


170 deg Ready to Foil

All Done

Sliced in Half

Frozen for Thanksgiving

My Supper Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pulled Pork for my Mothers 90th

We are having a 90th birthday party for my Mother this Sunday. I did up a 9.5 lb. pork butt today for the party. I have done a lot of pork butts over the years. On the pelletheads forum there are a lot of discussions on the best method. If you have done pork butts for pulled pork you probably know about the stall at about 170 deg, it sometimes takes a long time to get above this IT temp. Foiling helps get you through this stall faster & up to the ideal IT temp of 190 to 210 deg. Some do not foil, not foiling I think results in a crustier bark for those that prefer this. I like a good color but prefer my bark to be softer, since I include all the bark in my pulled pork.

I have settled on doing mine at the 180 deg setting on my Traeger, then 4 to 6 hours later go to 225 deg. until I get an IT temp of 170 deg. I then wrap the butt in a double layer of foil, adding ½ cup more or less liquid. I use apple juice, 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar, and 1 Tbs. of Worcestershire sauce. Then back on the smoker, still at 225 deg. until I get an IT of 205 deg. I place it in a preheated 200 deg oven, turn the oven off & let rest for one hour before pulling. I pour off what liquid is left into a gravy separator to get rid of the fat then add it to the pulled pork.

Wednesday morning I got the pork butt ready to marinade with some glue and rub. I have been using just red wine vinegar for the glue. I think most prefer yellow mustard; I read somewhere lately that someone used mustard and cider vinegar so I decided to try this. I wet the butt down with some red wine vinegar, just enough to get it wet, then slathered on some yellow mustard. I then coated it well with some Bone Suckin rub. I have used it on ribs so know I like it. I don’t pay much attention to getting any rub on the fat side, since it won’t penetrate anyway. I then placed in a plastic bag & in the fridge where it would be for about 14 hours.

Doing pork butts and beef briskets fat side down is getting to be some cooks preferred method. We all used to think doing fat side up helped baste the meat. It was proven the fat just runs down the side & does not penetrated the meat. Doing fat side down insulates the meat from direct heat and helps keep the meat juices in for a moister & better tasting meat. I do mine fat side down all the way through. I also do not trim the fat cap any, it comes off easily after cooking.

I got up at 1:00 am Thursday morning, at 1:30 fired up my Traeger in smoke mode at P3 setting & it settled to about 175 deg. I then set to 180 deg and got my pork butt on at 2:00 am. I then went back to bed. I usually use Traeger oak pellets but this time I was trying some Absolute pellets, 50/50 blend hickory oak.

I got up at 7:00 am Thursday, the smoker was doing fine. I got my first cup of coffee and at 8:00 I inserted a temp probe in the butt & set the smoker to 225 deg. It was about 12:00 when it hit 170 deg. I double wrapped it with my apple juice mix. It was 2:30 when it finally hit 205 deg. a total cook time of 12 ½ hours. I pulled it & into my preheated oven to rest for an hour. I opened the foil; the bone pulled clean, this was fall apart tender and moist. I pull it by hand into shreds no larger than my thumb. After pulling and it was cooler I cut the long shreds into about ½ inch pieces. This gives me good texture & easier to eat on a sandwich. It looked like I got more smoke ring with the Absolute pellets.

I ended up with enough pork for a Crockpot full for my Mothers party and enough for the wife & I to have a sandwich for supper. I had a recipe for Cheesy Potato soup, from Mary at Deep South Dish, to have with the sandwich. I served the sandwiches as usual, with a COWB, cheap ole white bun. My wife had hers plain & I had mustard & some of my canned green tomatoes. I know most have their pulled pork with BBQ sauce & maybe coleslaw, I like to be different! My wife & I thought the sandwiches were about my best & Mary’s soup topped with some bacon hit the spot!

9.5 lb. Pork Butt

Ready to Marinate

At 170 deg. IT

Ready to Pull

Bone Pulled Clean

Pulled POrk

All ready

My Soup

My Sandwich

Smokin Don