Thursday, May 31, 2012

Applewood Smoked Popper Pizza & Apple Tart

Yesterday May 30th, was the true Memorial Day, and my son’s 40th birthday. We celebrated them both last Sunday. For last night’s supper we had pizza.

I was done with the bourbon pellets from BBQ Select; those pellets were growing on me.
I opened the bag of applewood pellets Adam had sent me to try. They are a mix of applewood & oak. I emptied the hopper down to the auger tube and loaded it with the applewood.

I have wanted to try a popper pizza since I seen it on a fellow blogger's site. Bacon wrapped poppers sliced & used on a pizza. For dessert I did an apple tart with cheddar cheese.

I first did up the poppers, stuffed with onion & garlic Philly cream cheese and wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. I did them on smoke 175 deg for 30 minutes then went to 325 deg. I did them about 30 more minutes turning half way through. I let them cool then in the fridge until pizza time.

Jalapenos & Cream Cheese

Ready for the Smoker

Poppers are done

After lunch I chopped my apples & cooked for the tart filling. I adapted a recipe from Saveur for the tart to do on the smoker. It called for cheddar cheese mixed in the dough. I used a store bought pie dough & just pressed some shredded cheddar into the dough before adding the filling & topped with a sprinkling of more cheese. I did the tart on smoke for 30 minutes then went to 325 deg to finish. I did it until the crust was starting to brown up 30 to 40 more minutes.


Crust with cheese

Tart is done

Printable Apple Tart Recipe

About 4:00 we had some shrimp cocktail for an appetizer. At 5:30 we ordered a pizza from Beer & Wine Depot, not all like jalapenos. I sliced up the poppers for the pizza and assembled it. Store bought thin crust, sorry about that, I am lazy. For my sauce I used Philly cream cheese cooking sauce, Santa Fe flavor, a layer of shredded cheddar & mozzarella mix; then topped with the sliced poppers.

I started my smoker about 5:05 then went to high, hoping it would be up to at least 400 deg at 5:30 for the pizza. It was at 440 deg. when I stuck the pizza in. I did it on a stainless cooking sheet for 20 minutes & just peeked quickly to see when it was done. I should have been looking closer, I burnt the crust some. It was edible but I was glad we also had the pizza from Sandman. The apple tart was good with some ice cream & I thought had a mild smokey taste.

The shrimp cocktail

Pizza ready for the smoker

Pizza is done, well a little over done!

My Plate

My dessert

Smokin Don

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Dinner & Son's 40th Birthday

Yesterday we had a party for Memorial Day & my son Jason’s birthday, May 30th, 40 years old! Tonya’s parents came down from Toledo; along with her Grandmother & two of her Nephews. I would be feeding 11, plus two dogs underfoot!

I took the easy way out & ordered 24 pieces of broasted chicken from Beer & Wine Depot. A good price at $19.99 and it is very tasty. I bought 4 lbs. of local made potato salad and would smoke 8 brats from my butcher Kah Meats. I put on a pot of Bush’s grillin beans along with the brats. I did them on smoke for 1 hour & one hour at 225 deg. I sautéed some onions, garlic, & peppers added beer to cover then the brats to hold until time to eat.

For appetizers we had some of my Cajun crackers, smoked and plain cheddar & provolone and some veggies w/dip. For dessert Tonya baked Jason some brownies on a rimmed cookie sheet & chocolate icing, some had Dairy Queen with them. The brownies were delicious. We had local strawberries my wife made some dip for.

I used up the last of BBQ Select’s bourbon pellets to do the brats & beans. I made sure I would get some bourbon taste; I bought my son a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage Bourbon, 10 years old; for his birthday. I made sure he understood I got to have some too! My wife & I toured the distillery, Heaven Hills near Bardstown, KY several years ago where Evan Williams is made.

We all enjoyed the food and had fun visiting. Tonya’s father is a Marine Corps Vet who did several tours in Viet Nam; we told some war stories! After dinner we opened the bourbon. The best bourbon I have had in a long time. I think I drank more than my share; I slept pretty good last night!

The Bourbon

The wife & Grandson did the deco

Grillin beans & Tennessee tomatoes

Beans & Brats are done

Peppers & onions sauteed & beer added

Brats added, ones w/toothpicks were hot Cajun

Beans are ready

Beer & Wine Depot's broasted chicken

Close up of the chicken

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Starting the Memorial Day Week-end

Celebrating Memorial Day has always been a day to also celebrate our son’s birthday. He was born on Memorial Day, May 30th, 40 years ago this year. All three children are now over 40! Makes me feel old!

We will have a family party for him Sunday. Our daughter came home from the Chicago area and our d-i-l’s parents are coming down from Toledo. I am taking the easy way out for cooking. Getting broasted chicken from Beer & Wine carry out, I will do up some fresh brats on the smoker, some good locally made potato salad, and Bush’s grillin beans from the can. I am also having a cheese plate using some cheese I smoked a month ago. Our dessert will be local strawberries and brownies with Dairy Queen.

This week a local veggie stand opened with their strawberries and fresh tomatoes they bring in from Tennessee. The first taste of fresh garden tomatoes I get every summer.

Our daughter would be here in time for supper. Early in the day I smoked a batch of Cajun crackers to serve with the cheese Sunday. My recipe has evolved into a cup of ELOO, extra light olive oil, a package of Hidden Valley’s ranch dressing mix, 1 to 2 Tbs. of crushed red pepper, mixed well and poured over 3 sleeves of saltine crackers. Let marinate over night to soak up the olive oil. Stir several times. Smoke for 1 ½ hours on smoke setting. This time I used 2 Tbs. of Penzey’s Cajun seasoning in place of the crushed red pepper, and they turned out great.

My supper would be Bourbon smoked butter & garlic marinated chicken breasts, with a slice of bacon on top. Both came from my butcher Kah Meats. I know I did these before with BBQ Delight’s bourbon pellets. I was going to empty them out & start with their applewood pellets but I am loving those bourbon pellets so decided to use them up. I should use them up on the brats Sunday.

I did the chicken breasts for 1 hour, 20 min. on smoke and 40 min. at 325 deg. Melted some Swiss cheese over and served with the fresh tomatoes and grilled romaine lettuce. We all had sandwiches on some slim whole wheat buns and our side was Ore Ida’s fast food fries with cheddar cheese sauce.

Hope all have a safe week-end and I know all will have some great cooks!

Thanks to all our Veterans, past and present and all those who serve to keep us safe!

Cajun Crackers on the smoker

Crackers are done

Tennessee Tomatoes

Kah's Bacon

Kah's Chicken

Chickens about done, I added cheese to all the chicken

My Plate, my sandwich was the chicken w/bacon & cheese. grilled lettuce, slice of tomato, & Dijon mustard.

Smokin Don

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bourbon Baby Back Ribs

For my third cook with BBQ Selects bourbon pellets I decided on baby back ribs. I had decided on using my RSI, from Smok’n Spice. I loaded it with the bourbon pellets & did an hour cold smoke.

Since Adam said their bourbon pellets were made from white oak staves from used bourbon barrels I understand the taste now. I can’t say that in a blind taste I could say I tasted bourbon or not. I do like the taste & it is different from my usual oak pellets. They burn well in my Traeger; ash is comparable with any other pellet I have used or maybe a little less. Sawdust left in the bottom of the bags is about equal to other pellets.

One benefit I am getting is a darker mahogany color. I thought the beef I did was darker than usual, and after the ribs & ring bologna I know it is. I noted it first in the bologna; it was darker than usual & tasted great. If I could pick out the bourbon taste it would be in the bologna. I would definitely buy & use these pellets again.

I had two racks of ribs, one whole & two halves. The whole rack the glue was a little red wine vinegar, in one half I used Dijon mustard & the other was no glue. I used my favorite rub, Penzey’s rib rub on them all. No marinade time I got them ready & on the smoker for the cold smoke.

I did them for one hour on the cold smoke, then a half hour at 180 deg. I then went to 225 deg. for the rest of the cook. I put the ring bologna on just after the ribs. Total cook time was 5 hours. After 2 ½ hrs; I foiled the full rack for 1 ½ hours. I coated the full rack with some of my butchers BBQ sauce for the last hour.

I put on two sweet potatoes, split with butter & brown sugar, and wrapped in foil for my veggie d-i-l. She made a Garden Orzo salad with herb dressing for our other side. It calls for cherry tomatoes added but we serve them on the side, not all like tomatoes. I had a dollop of basil pesto on mine.

All but my d-i-l ate & loved the ribs. We also had some good bread with olive oil dip. I liked the sauced ribs I foiled best, they were moister. That could have been the ribs since they were from two sources. I did sprits with some water I added a little red wine vinegar to twice during the cook.

Ashes after a 5 1/4 hour cook

Ribs ready for the Smoker

On for the cold smoke

Bologna is done

Ribs done & ready to slice

Sliced & ready to serve

My Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BBQ Select Bourbon Beef

Today was a nice day to do a low & slow cook, 70 deg & breezy. I had a 4.5 lb. English cut chuck roast to smoke using the BBQ Select bourbon pellets. The English cut chuck is a chuck roast with some ribs & a strip of meat attached. I had done one before that turned out good cooked low & slow like a pork butt for pulled beef.

I decided to go with just salt & pepper and onion slices folded in. I wanted just basic seasoning so I didn’t cover up any of the bourbon taste. I seasoned, folded & tied the roast and got it on my smoker at 9:30 AM. I was able to hold the smoke temps at 165 to 170 deg and was getting some good smoke.

I had planned to smoke 2 to 3 hours before going to 225 deg. I checked it after 2 hours & liked the color I had so I went to 225 deg. The IT was about 105 deg. At 12:30 PM I had an IT of 140 deg so I went to 250 deg. At 1:30 Pm the It was at 165 deg. so I double wrapped in foil adding ¼ cup of beef broth. I went to 275 deg to finish the cook. Total cook time was 6 hours 15 minutes.

At 1:15 PM the IT hit 200 deg. so I pulled it covered with a couple of towels and let it rest for 45 min. before pulling. I had a good smoke ring. My son & I both tried some. The bourbon flavor was not as much as I had hoped for. We both thought it was there but pretty feint. You kinda got the bourbon as an after taste.

It was our pizza night & we plan to have the beef tomorrow night for sandwiches. I am hoping it is like a lot of smokes, it taste better after sitting overnight. I will let you know.

I cleaned the smoker after doing the chicken & ash levels were OK. After today’s cook I would say pellet consumption was equal to my usual pellets. I thought I was getting a little more smoke than my usual pellets.

Link to BBQ Select Pellets

Pellets & Smoker

English Chuck Roast

Seasoning & onions added

Folded & Tied

After 2 hours of Smoke

After the rest, ready to slice & pull

Good smoke ring

All ready for some good sandwiches

Smokin Don

Update on my Bourbon Beef:
Tonight we had bourbon beef sandwiches & potato salad for supper. I tasted the beef cold & on the sandwich. Even though I didn’t think I got enough bourbon taste from the bourbon pellets, it was a different taste than my usual oak pellets. I don’t drink a lot of hard liquor but when I do it is bourbon & water so maybe I was expecting too much. I have never used straight bourbon in my cooking over the years that I can remember so I don’t have that taste to compare to.

Everyone thought the sandwiches were great.

My Plate

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

BBQ Select Bourbon Chicken

On pelletheads forum, pellets are discussed a lot. Some people do not like Traeger pellets. I think it is mostly due to the fact that some of their flavored wood is made with a special soy oil added for the flavor. I use their pellets and don’t mind them. I am kinda locked in to using them since locally no other brands are available. I have used several other brands & don’t find them much better. I like their oak which is 100%; they give me a smoke taste I like and burn hot.

Pelletheads do some testing of smokers and accessories but does not test pellets. A few of the members are receiving some pellets from BBQ Select to give their thoughts on them. Choice of pellets is kind of personal taste, price per pound, and do they give a good BTU output. I will share my thoughts on these pellets with my followers here.

Monday UPS delivered three 20 lb. bags of pellets, compliments of Adam Carr from He asks that I share my thoughts on the pellets to fellow pelletheads. I received a bag of hickory, apple, and bourbon. They have a full selection of the favorite hardwoods. They are 100% species specific except the apple which is a mix of apple & oak. They are located in southern IN close to Louisville, KY.

My first cook with the bourbon pellets was not a good test; I did butter garlic marinated chicken breasts with a slice of bacon on top. Only an hour on the smoker was not enough to get much smoke taste at all; I had to feed my family! I did them ½ hr. on smoke & ½ hr. at 350 deg. I started with a clean smoker & ran it on smoke for ½ hr to clear out the auger before putting the chicken on.

You can definitely smell the bourbon in the pellets. When I went from smoke 170 deg to 350 deg it reached 350 as fast as any pellets I have used. Tomorrow I have a 4.5 lb. English chuck roast to do low & slow so I should be able to give a taste report to you. My 70 yr. old taste buds may not be the best but with my son & family here now I have some extra tasters.

Not really a test; but as I use the pellets in my normal cooking I will try to give you an honest opinion. I don’t know what their shipping costs are but I know if you live close enough to pick them up they have a good price. Fellow pellethead, Sandman bought some of their hickory. I haven’t seen him to get his opinion. He has a Smoke Daddy on his Traeger so does some cold smoking.

My chicken was great, tender & moist even though I didn’t get much smoke taste.

Link to BBQ Select Pellets

Pellets ready to load

After 1/2 hour on smoke

Chickens done

My Plate

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crockpot Smothered Pork Chops

Yesterday it was time to trim my grass, I have a lot of trimming to do, all my walks, chain link fence & driveway. I needed a quick & easy meal for supper. I had some of my favorite Bechtle German spaetzel, store bought, to use. Pork chops were a natural to have with them.

I bought 6 thin pork chops and some Bob Evans baked apples for another side. Apples or apple sauce always taste great with pork. I also had some hot dog buns to use so I would make some garlic bread with them. I caramelized two Vidalia onions, browned my chops, made some gravy from a packet of McCormicks brown gravy in the skillet I browned the chops in. All went in the Crockpot to simmer on low all day. I used no fat milk instead of water to make the gravy with.

I got the chops on about 10:30, made my usual daily call to my 90 yr. old Mother and then went to trim my grass. I will mow tomorrow; I used to do it all in a couple of hours but now at 70 I take a lot of breaks!

Supper time I boiled my spaetzel, then in a skillet with some olive oil and 2 tbs. butter to brown up some, nuked the baked apples and toasted my hot dog garlic buns. All tasted pretty good, I think we all had seconds except my grandson, but he ate pretty well. There were left over spaetzel & apples my veggie daughter-in-law could have after work at 7:30 if she wanted.

The onions I took to just where they were getting some good color.

Browning my chops

Chops & onions added to the Crockpot

Gravy added

Chops are done

Spaetzel browning

The hot dog bun garlic bread!

My Plate

Smokin Don