Saturday, March 31, 2012

Stuffed Chops, fried taters, & applesauce

This morning I went to my butchers to get some ground lamb, I wanted to make a gyro meatloaf. I also got three nice thick pork chops for tonight’s supper. They were thick, some of the nicest chops I’ve had lately.

I wanted to stuff the chops with some cornbread stuffing. I was thinking chops just needed to brine about 2 to 4 hours but when I checked my chart it said 12 to 24 hours. I got a brine made from ½ gal. of water, ½ cup kosher salt, ½ cup brown sugar and a couple of smashed garlic cloves. Since I had just 4 hours I threw in a teaspoon of Morton’s tender quick thinking it might help. I cut the pockets in the chops to help with the short brine time.

I cooked a box of Betty Crocker’s old fashioned cornbread stuffing mix for my chops. I did up my gyro loaf using Alton Brown’s recipe. I used ½ lb. ground lamb & 1 ½ lbs. ground chuck & placed it in a saran wrap lined loaf pan & covered. I placed it in the fridge for overnight setting up & will smoke it tomorrow.

At 4:00 I took the chops from the brine, washed off & dried. I placed them in the fridge to dry some. At 4:30 I fired up the smoker & got my chops ready, added the cornbread stuffing. I got them on the smoker at 4:45 running 170 deg. on P3. Those babies were so thick I stood them up for the smoke. At 5:25 I went to 300 deg. They were done at 6:30. That was 45 min. on smoke & 1 hour at 300 deg. I placed them on a rack over some water , covered with foil and in a 210 deg. oven while I fried the potatoes & made gravy.

We usually have our favorite fried potatoes & applesauce with pork chops and I made some Pioneer Brand country gravy for over the chops. The chops were great, moist & tender and the gravy hit the spot. The short brine time worked, some of the best chops I have done in a while. I used my carbon steel skillet to fry the potatoes, no sticking at all.

The gravy mix

The chops

Stuffed chops

After 45 minutes on smoke

About done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Monday, March 26, 2012

Smoked Grits Hash, my brunch

Hash really makes Kah’s grits shine. This is probably what the old timers used it for. I am not sure why they call them grits since they have steel cut oats instead of grits in them. Fourty some years ago I did get grits from a meat market near Minster, Ohio. They too was like a pan pudding & had large grits in them, they were good fried up.

For my brunch today I made some hash with the grits I smoked yesterday. I browned some diced potatoes in a little olive oil & bacon grease, added the grits, stirred I fried a little then added an egg. I stirred & chopped some. I had them with chives over top & some buttered toast. It really hit the spot.


Potatoes browned & grits added

Added the egg

My Plate, my brunch

Smokin Don

Meat Lovers Trio

I was getting hungry for tongue. My Mother-in-law used to pickle beef tongues & they were delicious and very tender. Too bad I never got her recipe. I found a good recipe by a guy called Thirdeye for boiling, skinning & smoking one. I bought a beef tongue, some grits, and ring bologna from my butcher.

Saturday I washed the tongue & got it in salt water for the overnight soaking. I decided to have some Cajun crackers to go with all three for my Sunday supper so I made a batch of the crackers for an overnight marinade & would smoke them.

The grits from my butcher are like pan pudding; the ingredients are; pork, pork heart and tongue, beef heart, steel cut oats, water, sugar, salt & pepper.

Sunday morning I got the tongue on to boil for an hour and a half in its beer, water and herbs. I had it on a plate to cool & my wife had a fit! I said just don’t look at it or you won’t want to eat any. After it cooled I skinned it & trimmed fat & muscle. I mixed up a rub for it, smeared with some Dijon mustard & coated with the rub. It went in the fridge for about 3 hours before smoking. I mixed some apple juice, cider vinegar & Worcestershire for spritzing.

I smoked my Cajun crackers for an hour on smoke 170 deg. Then I got my meat on & laid a strip of bacon on the tongue. The recipe said do the tongue at 200 deg. & should take 2 hours to get to 150 deg. IT. I started on smoke P3 & dropped a P# every half hour; at P0 it was running 200+ deg. At about two hours it was up to temp so seared on my Weber Q100. I didn’t get great sear marks. I turned & spritzed it twice during the smoke, replacing the bacon on top.

I finished the grits & bologna at 250 deg. I wanted the grits to get to 170 deg. IT & the bologna to split. It took about another 15 min. I let all cool some & then in the fridge until supper time.

I sliced all & served. I had my grits & tongue on Cajun crackers with some horseradish sauce & some bologna. For sides I had some cheese & some of my spice slaw. My wife had the tongue on crackers, some of the bologna & a green salad. The tongue was good, tender & taste like beef roast. It wasn’t melt in your mouth tender but pretty good. I didn’t care for the grits as well as I do pan pudding on crackers. I will probably use the leftovers to scramble with eggs. It all tasted good with the Yuengling!

Thanks to Thirdeye for the recipe!

Link for tongue recipe

The Raw Tongue

On to boil

After boiling

Applying rub to trimmed tongue

Cajun Crackers

Ring bologna & grits

Ready for the smoker

All on the smoker

Bologna & grits ready & my piece of bacon!

All cooling

Trio sliced & ready to serve

My Plate, my supper

Smokin Don

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Prime Rib Tacos

Now I usually don’t use prime rib for tacos, but I had some frozen, vacuum-packed, from my Christmas dinner that needed used. It had been done on my smoker. I saved enough for a sandwich for my lunch tomorrow. The rest I diced up small, about ¼ inches for use in the tacos.

I love Tacos but don’t care for the hard shells, for me they fall apart with every bite. For these I used some soft flour tortillas. I bought the flour tortillas & seasoning in the morning. I like to use Old El Paso brands it works for me. I also bought some sour cream & Mexican blend cheese. I forgot that my wife likes salsa on hers too, & didn’t have any on hand. I think she forgave me. I just like the taco meat, some cheese, lettuce, & sour cream on mine, in that order.

Come supper time these went together pretty fast, diced a slice of onion & a ¼ of green pepper to use. I got them sautéing in a little olive until getting soft, added the diced prime rib & a little more olive oil. I cooked until hot, a couple of minutes, added the seasoning, about ¾ of the Old El Paso packet. I stirred & then added some tomato sauce and a little water. I simmered this while I wrapped the tortillas in paper towels & nuked for 30 seconds. They are better if you can brown in a hot skillet one at a time, but I was lazy so used the microwave. I also nuked some Old El Paso fat free refried beans & melted some cheese on top for myself. My wife does not like the beans. For me they are a must have when cooking & eating Mexican.

We each had two tacos; my wife thought they were extra good with the prime rib! I think the next time I will try some round steak but not prime rib! I didn’t have many photos of the process but I think most know how to dice peppers & onions & can follow my process.

Note: In the photo of My Plate I did use a fancier plate than my usual white Corel ware!

The fixins

Taco meat simmering

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Favorite Skillets

I have wasted a lot of money over the yrs. on pots & pans. Teflon was great for non- stick until they found it was bad for you. I got rid of all my Teflon cookware & bought stainless steel. I had trouble with the skillets, stuff sticking to them. A lot of that was the cook, trying to mess with things before it was ready to turn! I bought a Scan Pan skillet $90 that was supposed to be non-stick; that was the worst skillet I ever cooked with. I now have quite a few cast iron pieces & enjoy using it. I use it in my smoker too.

About 4 years ago I bought a 9 inch Green Pan, I liked it well enough I also bought an 11 inch skillet. I swear by these skillets, they still look almost new. They will stick if you don’t use them right. I have found they do best if I set my glass top range just one notch above medium & I always use light olive oil. Once they are hot I can set down to med. or one notch below. Clean- up is easy usually just hot water & a little soap. Anything baked on I have found Mr. Clean’s magic eraser works great.

I always remembered my Mother frying eggs in a small steel skillet. I was always going to buy one but the only place you could find them was at camping supplies & they were expensive. It seems they are making a comeback & you can find plenty on the net. My first one I bought from Amazon, a cheaper carbon steel American Cuisine 10 ½ inch skillet. Care for the carbon steel is just like cast iron, it must be seasoned. Once I got mine broke in I really like, it does fried potatoes & non-stick. The carbon steel is a lot lighter than the cast iron. As with my cast iron I usually just wash in hot water, dry good then a light coat of oil, I set on a burner set on high & remove when it starts to smoke. Basically I re-season mine after each use.

Lodge Ware just recently started making carbon steel skillets, a 9, 10, & 12 inch made in the USA. I like buying things that say Made in the U.S.A. So I just bought the 12 inch. It is heavier than my cheap carbon steel skillet but one thing it sits flat on my glass top. I have just used it a few times but I think it will become my favorite skillet.

It looks to me like we have always had non-stick cookware in cast iron & carbon steel. You just have to know how to cook in it & care for it.

My Green Pan & American Cuisine steel skillet

My Lodge 12 inch carbon steel skillet, frying bacon

Smokin Don

MP Teriyaki Chicken Stacks

It was time to get my muffin pan out again for some chicken stacks. I used boneless skinless thighs & marinated in Lawry’s Teriyaki marinade. My stack would be a half of thigh, a slice of red pepper, a slice of onion and a slice of pineapple topped with another half of thigh all wrapped in a slice of bacon.

I had six thighs & after trimming and cutting in half I marinated about 3 hours. What I had extra I placed in another bag w/marinade & would do them up wrapped in two bacon slices.

My sides would be Uncle Ben’s whole grain medley, brown & wild rice and some baby bella mushrooms. I also had some parmesan garlic bread sticks I would throw on to heat up.

It was a nice sunny 80+ deg. Day. I just wanted to sit, sip a cold one & enjoy but had grass to mow first. I got that done in time for a little sitting before preparing supper. I made up the stacks an hour before cook time & in the fridge. Fired up the smoker & set at 225 deg. I did them for a half hour removed the stacks from the muffin pan and directly on the grate for the rest of the cook. Then I went to 300 deg. The muffin pan lets them simmer in the bacon grease & juices and set up some. They would be at 300 deg. for another half hour then 325 for another half hour; a total of 1 ½ hours.

While they were cooking I cleaned the mushrooms, melted some garlic butter & place some in each mushroom. I put the mushrooms on for the last 20 min. then brushed the bread sticks with some garlic butter & put them in the last 10 minutes. During that 10 min. I nuked my rice & heated some marinade to serve over the rice. I had saved the juice from the muffin pan & brushed over the chicken stacks at the one hour mark.

This is a pretty easy meal to make, and sure tastes good. I like using the packaged flavored rice mixes like Uncle Bens & Zatarains, they are quick and taste about as good as I can make from scratch.

My Fixins

Thighs cut up

Making up the stacks

Ready for the smoker

Mushrooms w/garlic butter

On the smoker

A stack sliced

My Plate, I sprinkled some parmesan on the mushrooms

Smokin Don

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sicilian Sausage Sandwich

Twenty + years ago I was working second shift at the Ford Engine Plant, Lima Ohio. After getting off at mid-night some of us stopped in at the Corner Café for a few beers, ok sometimes more than a few! Nick the owner was a member of one of two Sicilian families in the restaurant business in Lima. He made the best Sicilian sausage sandwiches I ever ate. Sometimes I would get two to go, wake the wife when I got home & we would talk & eat our sandwiches. I have tried, over the years to duplicate them, but never quite making it.

Yesterday I tried again with a pound & a half of sausage. I would do these on my smoker. I had some leftover cornmeal mush and wanted to try some bacon wrapped artichoke hearts & hearts of palm. I did two artichokes & one heart of palm. With what was left from the cans I added black olives, sautéed some onion, green & red pepper and garlic in about 3 to 4 TBS olive oil. I let cool some then added that to the salad, 3 TBS of rice vinegar, a tsp. dried oregano, a tsp. dried parsley and some salt & pepper.

In the morning I mixed up my Sicilian sausage. Late afternoon I wrapped my artichoke hearts & hearts of palm and added some Lawry’s seasoned salt. Mixed up my salad & made 5 patties from the sausage. At 5:00 I put the mush and bacon wraps on. I did on smoke, 175 deg. for a half hour then went to 300 deg. & added the sausage patties. All was done at 6:30.
I had my sausage on a plain white bun & some mustard. I loved the bacon wrapped artichokes and the hearts of palm. My wife reluctantly tried an artichoke heart & thought it was good. I think they make a great orderve. Was my Sicilian sausage as good as Nick’s, not quite but close.

Peppers & onions for the salad


My Salad

Bacon wraps

Sausage patties

On the smoker

Ready to serve

My Plate

My Plate & Salad

Smokin Don

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pork Loin, Sweet Potatoes, & Asparagus

Spring seems to be early here in Ohio, daffodils & tulips are out and the robins are here.
I have been doing some spring cleaning & just got a new computer. New operating systems are getting harder for me to learn. I have two PC’s & both are working & on the net but don’t seem to be able to get the talking to each other yet. So it was good to relax & cook a good supper tonight.

Awhile back going thru my recipes I found an old recipe for injecting turkey for deep frying. A friend gave it to me. I have never deep fried a turkey but used it on some turkey breasts to smoke & thought it was good. I thought maybe it would be good for a pork loin. I found a piece of loin at my butchers to try it on. It was about 4 lbs.

The fat side was almost covered with a fat cap. I decided to not trim & do fat side down in a v roaster rack. I rubbed a little olive oil on then I injected it with the marinade from the lean side, about every inch all over. Then a generous coat of Penzey’s Galena street rub. I covered it with saran wrap & was in the fridge about 4 hours before smoking.

I put the loin on smoke, 170 to 180 deg for about an hour before going to 325 deg., at this time a laid two slices of bacon on the loin. I cut two sweet potatoes in half, butter & brown sugar in the middle & wrapped in foil. I put them in the smoker. I cleaned a bunch of asparagus & poured some white balsamic vinegar over, ready to nuke when the loin was done.

I planned to pull the roast when it was 155 deg. IT. After 45 minutes at 325 deg. I thought it was coming up slow so went to 350 deg to finish. Another 40 min it was done, total cook time was about 2 hours 20 minutes. The sweet potatoes were on about 2 hours; that included some on smoke mode. They were overdone but to me it doesn’t hurt. Sweet potatoes are good with pork & I like to use them instead of white potatoes, I know they will be done & can do them with the pork on the smoker.

I pulled the pork & sweet potatoes, foiled the loin while I nuked the asparagus. The loin was very moist & tender. It all tasted pretty darn good. I will use the injection again.

Printable Injection Recipe

Injected & Rubbed

Ready to rest

Fat side up & ready to slice


My Plate, the cook had an end piece & got the bacon too!

Smokin Don

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Orleans BBQ Shrimp & Cornmeal Mush

I am not sure why the Cajuns call this BBQ shrimp; BBQ or not this is delicious. This is something you don’t want to eat just before going for a cholesterol check! I have been making it for years probably once a year.

I love shrimp fixed any way. Lately the best shrimp I can get is frozen Key West wild caught pink shrimp, shell on, I get at Krogers. The only thing better would be getting them off the boat in Key West!

The southerners have their shrimp & grits; I would fix my shrimp with some smoked mush & cheesy pull bread and a green salad side. The cornmeal mush I buy, easier than making my own. I usually slice about 3/8 inch thick & fry in butter or olive oil.

I got my small sour dough bread ball sliced & added some shredded sharp cheddar & bacon bits between the cuts. I heated 3 TBS butter with about 1 tsp Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix to pour over the bread before baking & wrapped in foil.

I sliced the mush & on my smoker at 200 deg for a half hour & then go to 325 deg for doing the shrimp. The mush was in a total of 1 hour. After I put the mush on got the sauce ready for the shrimp and put it on the smoker the last 20 minutes. I did the bread at 350 deg in the oven for 15 min then folded the foil down for another 20 min & had it ready when the shrimp was done.

My wife & I sure enjoyed this, shelling out the shrimp & dipping the cheesy bread in the sauce. It is messy to eat & a wet cloth is a must!

Printable Shrimp Recipe

The shrimp

Cheesy Pull Bread ready for the oven

Butter added to the bacon

Shrimp added & ready for the smoker

Shrimp ready to serve

Mush ready to serve

Pull bread is done

My Plate

Smokin Don