Sunday, July 29, 2012

Changing the Traeger Hot Rod

My hot rod, igniter, went out a little over a week ago. It opened up instead of shorting so I didn’t blow a fuse, it just failed to light. As soon as I realized it failed I shut it down, took some pellets out and manually lit with a MAAP torch I had handy. I cooked on it twice before I got around to calling Traeger for a new one.

Traeger service was great; I had registered it so they had all my info. Just over 2 years old it was under warranty and the service tech said I’ll get a new one shipped out. He said instructions would come with it & was about a 15 minute job. It was just about a 3 minute conversation. Four days later I had the new hot rod.

The instructions had a nice diagram and looked like an easy job! It may be a 15 minute job if you are younger than 70 and all goes well! I already had the wires disconnected. I removed the 4 screws on the top of the fire pot, tapped it off of the auger tube, twisted it and with some finagling got the fire pot with the hot rod out where I could remove the rod. It is a tight fit.

I removed the set screw that held the rod in place. I could see the end of the hot rod had flared open and would be too large to remove from the tube. I used channel locks to mash it where I thought it would come out ok. This is where the job went into slow down! I got it down to where a steel collar for the set screw was welded to the tube and it would not come out. I cut the wires and took it to my work shop.

I still could not get the rod out or back in the fire pot to work on the end some more. The end of the rod had flared in two sections so I was able to get it back to where there were two ¼ inch holes drilled in the tube. I used a bolt and tapped the flares down the best I could. Then in the vise, twisting, pulling, out of the vise, more twisting, pulling and tapping and a little cursing I finally got the rod out! There were a couple of beer breaks between slow down and removal!

After I got the rod out I could see why it didn’t want to come through the steel collar, it was a smaller diameter then the tube, I guess to keep it centered. Now to get the new rod installed; that was not that easy for me. Being 70 with bifocals and lying on my back is not a good working position! For awhile I thought I would have to remove the pellet hopper and cover; but with finesse and holding the rod just right in it went. A larger hole or an elongated one would make that part easier.

The job went faster at this point! I got the new rod secured and fire pot back in and the rod plugged in. I sprayed my heat shield and drip pan for a little re-seasoning, fired up the grill and went to 350 deg. for awhile. The 15 minute job was about 3 hours for me!

The instructions gave a dimension for the rod to protrude into the fire pot, .125 inches, that’s about 1/8 inch. My old one stuck out there about ½ inches; I don’t know if this made for a faster destruct or not; but I installed the new one per directions. I use my grill 2 to 3 times a week year around so that may be a good life for a hot rod.

I was sure glad that easy job was over! I can now get back to cooking!

Smokin Don

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chicken Sandwiches with Alabama White Sauce

I have wanted to try chicken with Alabama white sauce for a long time. Big Bob Gibson is credited with creating the white BBQ sauce in 1925. It is a favorite in North Alabama. You won’t find this served at many places outside Northern Alabama. The basic recipe is mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and pepper. There are a lot of variations out there, even Bob Gibson’s recipe on food net. I found one at Saveur I liked the sounds of. It had horseradish in it but kept out some separate for my son & me for the horseradish. I knew no one else would like the horseradish.

I made a salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow zucchini, and onions marinated in half apple cider vinegar and half water, about 2 Tbs. olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, dill weed, and chives. It’s best to let set several hours before serving. I also had a dozen ears of fresh picked corn to have.

Saveur’s recipe was for smoked chicken sandwiches served with the white sauce and dill pickles. I mixed up my white sauce, divided to baste the chicken and some to add horseradish to.

I spatchcocked the chicken and got it on the smoker at 225 deg. After 1 ½ hours went to 250 deg for ½ hour then to 300 deg. for the last 15 minutes to get the chicken to 180 deg. breast IT. I basted it twice with the white sauce. While the chicken was on I got the corn in water, salt and sugar to soak. After the chicken rested about 15 minutes I pulled it and placed in a Crockpot on low to hold.

I got my corn on at 5:00 for an hour at 250 deg. We ate at 6:00 and all tasted good. I don’t think anyone was crazy about the white sauce. For a chicken sandwich I think I would prefer regular BBQ sauce or mustard. I might like just chicken with the white sauce, I think it helped crisp up the skin that tasted good and I did put some of the more crisp skin in with the meat.

My final plate photos were not great so you get two to look at. I must have been in a hurry to eat! Before I got mine ready my grandson was ready for more corn!

Cucumbers, zucchini and onions sliced 2 mm

My Salad

White sauce ingredients

The chicken

After one hour

Chickens done

My Plate

Another view

Smokin Don

Friday, July 27, 2012

Garden Produce, pasta with pesto and sausage

This is not any smoked foods but thought I would share this with you. Some produce from my small garden. In the first photo are tomatoes and Anaheim peppers. The next photo is basil and chives I used to make a pesto sauce.

I looked at a lot of pesto recipes but ended up making my own version. I used the basil & chives, roasted pumpkin seeds, (papitas), garlic and ELOO, extra light olive oil.

I made up the pesto sauce early. My veggie daughter-in-law would be happy with just the pasta with pesto and I fried up some bulk Italian sausage, green peppers and onions for the rest of us.

I baked some Ecce Pene take home & bake bread. I then prepared the sausage, peppers & onions boiled the pasta and added the parmesan.

This is an easy meal & will please different peoples tastes served to their likes. My wife had the pasta with the sausage, peppers & onions over top, no pesto. My son & I had pasta with pesto and the sausage on the side. My grandson had the pasta, no pesto and sausage on the side. My veggie daughter-in-law had pasta with pesto and sliced tomatoes on the side. Everyone was Happy!

Sorry I didn’t take any photos to share, it did make up some pretty plates and the pesto was a nice green color. Those who had my pesto thought it was extra good!

Printable pesto, pasta, and sausage recipe

Basil and chives

Tomatoes and anaheim peppers

Update: My grandson did take a photo of his Mothers pasta and pesto with his Dad's phone so here it is. Not too great a photo, but will give you an idea.

Smokin Don

Monday, July 23, 2012

Manual lighting when igniter fails

Igniter failure will be the most common one with your Traeger Smoker. Mine went out the other day after a little over 2 years of heavy use. I use it 2 to 3 times a week even in the winter. Luckily it failed by opening up instead of shorting out so it didn’t blow a fuse.
If you do blow a fuse or trip a GFI unit the first thing to do is find the igniter wires and unplug it and try again.

After waiting too long for mine to light I shut it off, and checked the fire pot it was about half full of fresh pellets. Traegers manual says to use gel lighter fluid to light and after it gets burning turn the smoker on Smoke mode, replace heat shield, drip pan and grate.

I had a MAAP gas torch handy so that’s what I used to light mine. A butane torch might not work as well since they don’t burn as well when held with torch held down. The MAAP torch worked great, the nozzle reaches the fire pot & after about 40 seconds the pellets were burning well.

I manually lit the smoker twice before getting around to calling Traeger service. Traeger is noted for having good service and true to form they were great for me. I had registered my Smoker so they had all my info on record and about 3 minutes on the phone they said we will ship a new igniter!

Two more tips in the photo below, I have a galvanized bucket I use to load pellets. I always have a roll of paper towels out when cooking and after many windy days blowing the towels around I finally said “dummy put them in the bucket”!

Smokin Don

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Smoked Old Fashioned Bung Bologna

Boar & More was a meat packing plant here in Wapakoneta, OH. I remember my uncle, who had a slaughter house & grocery, used to get his smoked hams from there; this was back in the 1950’s. They were still in business when we moved here in 1973. They bought their meat from a large stock yard that had weekly auctions. I am not sure when but I think it was shortly after we moved here both businesses closed up.

Kah’s original butcher shop was down town but moved to its present location near the Boar & More plant sometime before Boar & More closed. The owner of Boar & More knew Dick Kah liked their old fashioned bung bologna so he gave him the recipe when they closed up.

Dick is now deceased but his sons & family continue running Kah Meats. They still make the bung bologna, the best I can buy. They had not made any for awhile but I seen they had some the other day. I went in Saturday and bought a chunk, just under 3 lbs.

I cut 3 thick slices for fried bologna. The rest I cut half into 1 inch chunks & seasoned with Penzey’s rib rub & the other half I sliced half way through, crisscrossed and seasoned with some Dijon mustard and Cajun seasoning.

I smoked both at 170 deg. for 1 ½ hours the went to 225 deg. In a half hour I pulled the cut up and did the chunk another ½ hour. Both were tasty and will make some good snacks with some aged cheddar and my smoked Cajun crackers.

Kah's bologna, dutch loaf, and pizza loaf

Seasoned and ready to smoke

After 1 1/2 hrs. on smoke

At 225 deg.

Chunk is done

Ready to snack on

Smokin Don

Friday, July 20, 2012

English Chuck for loose meat sandwiches

Our daughter will be here this week-end to visit & celebrate her birthday. I decided to do up some chuck roast and grind it for loose meat sandwiches. Loose meat sandwiches were made popular in Iowa and one called Maid-Rite is popular, served with a slice of cheese on top. I have never seen them in a restaurant in Ohio.

I went to my butchers Wednesday to get the beef and he had two English cut chuck roasts. A regular chuck would be a little cheaper but I just can’t resist that cut or beef. I think of all the flavor you get from the attached rib bones & meat.

I got it ready Thursday morning to smoke. I would smoke it for an hour then go to 225 deg. until an IT of 160 deg. Then in a roaster pan on top of sliced onions, a Yuengling beer and a cup of water w/a heaping tsp. of better than beef bullion added for broth. Then covered with foil and cooked until 200 deg. IT. The roast was seasoned with some, coarse gray salt, seasoned pepper, and dried garlic flakes.

I got the roast on at 8 am and it was done at 1:30 for a total of 5 ½ hours. I let it set covered for one hour, then saved the onions, used a gravy separator to pour off the fat and the meat went in the fridge to cool. After it cooled I ground it and the onions in my meat grinder w/coarse die. Tomorrow night it will go in a Crockpot with some of the au jus and heated for sandwiches. The roast was 4 ¾ lbs. and I got 2 ¾ lbs. of ground meat.

We got some much needed rain Thurs. & Fri. a little over ½ inch. I dropped the canvas on the north side of my smoke deck and stayed dry smoking!

Seasoned Roast

Onions and broth

At 160 deg. IT

Ready to foil and finish

All done

Some good sandwich meat

Smokin Don

Update: My sandwiches and supper Friday evening.

My d-i-l came home from work about 3 pm and my daughter arrived from Chicago a little later. My son came home from school in Columbus at 5 pm. I had supper ready & waiting for all. My grandson’s friend from across the street stayed to eat too.

I had my loose meat beef in a Crockpot. For sides we had some local made potato salad, and some Bush’s grillin beans. Earlier today I also marinated some tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions to have too; the tomatoes were from my garden.

The loose meat sandwiches were served on a COWB, cheap ole white bun. It was too hard to hold and eat without falling apart so it was a fork & knife sandwich; tasted great! It would be easier to eat served on a hard crust bun.

Smokin Don

Monday, July 16, 2012

Garlic Sausage and Corn on the Cob

Another hot day here in Ohio, 94 deg. 40% humidity. I was watching the radar all week end, green & yellow all over the eastern half of the US but it all passed by Wapakoneta!

The kids were away for the week end so it was just me & the wife. I bought a half doz. ears of corn from my produce wagon & would fix the last 3 of my garlic sausage I had frozen for sandwiches.

Getting to know temps & times better to do corn I would do it all on my Traeger. The corn I had soaked in salt & sugar water about 5 hours. I did the corn for one hour at 275 deg. and the sausage & onions for 45 min. I seasoned the onions with a little salt & sumac berries. The sumac berries have a lemon or vinegar taste but less acidic.

The sausages were served on a whole wheat bun, a little mustard & onions on top. The corn with butter, salt & pepper and we had the marinated zucchini as a side. All really hit the spot & was an easy meal to do.

Onions w/salt and sumac berries

My Sausage

On the smoker

My Supper

Smokin Don

A Zucchini Side

Just a quick post on some zucchini. Those who grow zucchini know you usually have it coming out your ears & don't know what to do with it all. I made this up yesterday, 1 large & 1 small zucchini, 1 onion sliced thin, 1.5 mm on my slicer. Sliced the zucchini into a colondar sprinkled with some coarse salt & let drain for 20 min. Rinsed & place into a bowl w/onions, added 1/3 cup rice vinegar, a couple Tbs. olive oil and covered w/water. Added some ground pepper. Tasted & needed more vinegar, had about 2 Tbs left so added that. In the fridge to marinate. It sat overnight & tasted good for lunch, needed salt, I let everyone salt to their taste. Great as a side & think it would go well on a pulled pork sandwich!

Smokin Don

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beefy Meatloaf

I was hungry for some meatloaf and potatoes with gravy. For my supper Friday I did one up a beefy version instead of tomato based.

My recipe makes a pretty wet loaf but it comes out nice, not too dense. I did it on smoke mode 174 deg. for 45 min. then went to 225 deg. another ½ hour it was at 110 deg. so eased the temps up until 325 deg. After 2 hours total it was about done so went to 350 deg. until it was 160 deg. IT. This gave me a nice crust that I was after.

I baked an Ecce Pene take home ciabata bread to serve. I had my meat loaf done early so at supper time all I had to do was heat the gravy; fry up some Ore Ida hash browns and some carrots to serve with it and nuke each slice of meatloaf for 45 seconds. The carrots I boiled about 10 minutes; poured the water off and added butter and parsley and simmered awhile.

I served it with the bread & butter and gravy over the meatloaf and potatoes. It sure tasted good. We had some of my Peaches & cornbread dessert with vanilla bean ice cream after supper. That really was good; I thought it was better than any cake & peaches I have ever eaten.

Printable Meatloaf Recipe

Meatloaf at 100 deg. IT

Ready to serve

My Plate

Smokin Don

Peaches and Cornbread Dessert

Normally when you think cornbread you don't think of dessert, but when I seen this recipe I knew I had to try it. Basically it's two boxes of Jiffy cornbread mix, mixed per package. One 28 oz. can peaches drained. Mix 1 Tbs. of melted butter, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and stir into the peaches. I used Margaret Holmes OSage peaches. I preheated a 10 inch cast iron skillet, sprayed w/ELOO, added 3/4 of the cornbread mix. Added the peaches to the center then spooned the rest of the cornbread mix over the peaches.

Margaret Holmes peaches are the only canned peaches I have found that taste like home canned peaches. You have to watch, sometimes I find a piece of pit in them.

To make this easier yet one could just use a can of peach pie filling or any fruit filling you like.

If you want to bake this in an oven the recipe said bake at 400 deg. for 30 to 35 minutes.
I baked mine at 325 in my Traeger, that's about 350 at grill level. It took 50 minutes until I thought it was done.

I had this with some vanilla bean ice cream and was delicious. I liked this better than cake with peaches in. The peach mix kind of all settles to the bottom for a gooey crust. My wife said it was good but she would rather have cake.

Peach mix

Peaches added to cornbread mix

Rest of cornbread mix added

On the smoker


My piece with ice cream

This was so good here's another view

Smokin Don

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Pulled turkey leg sandwiches and a caprese salad

Today’s cook was kinda fun since I was trying something new; pulled turkey legs. This is just the second time I have smoked turkey legs. The first time I didn’t like them too well.
I bought 6 Honeysuckle fresh turkey legs. It said all natural but not sure what that could mean!

I made up ½ gallon of brine, a scant ½ cup kosher salt, a good ½ cup of brown sugar, 2 Tbs. molasses, 2 Tbs. soy sauce, and 2 Tbs. liquid smoke. Ok so I used liquid smoke! They were in the brine for 10 hours before smoking.

I rinsed the legs & let dry some in a colander. I then coated well with some Penzey’s Galena Street rub. I did them on smoke mode P5 for one hour & was holding pretty good at 170 deg. I then went to P3 for ½ hour, then to P0 & was at 225-230 deg. for the rest of the cook. After 2 hrs. 10 min. the first leg was at or over 165 deg IT. I pulled them as they reached temp and took another 20 minutes.

I covered with a towel for 15 minutes then removed the towel. Another 20 min. they were cool enough to handle so I removed the skin and pulled the meat. I nuked the skin until crisp for a cooks treat! Now that was a chore pulling the meat. I ended up doing more chopping than pulling but got some nice looking meat for sandwiches.

For my sandwiches I toasted the buns w/a little olive oil in a skillet, topped with the turkey and a slice of Swiss cheese. All went under the broiler to melt the cheese.

I made a caprese salad, romaine lettuce w/ a splash of red wine vinegar, a slice of tomato, some mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, a little ELOO, and gray salt & pepper.

The sandwiches were good, great flavor but I thought the meat was a little on the tough side. Unless I can get fall off the bone turkey meat I think I will stick with pork & chicken for my pulled meat sandwiches. The salad was great!

Brined and seasoned

On the smoker

Ready to pull

Pulled and chopped

Moking the sandwiches

My salad

My sandwich

Smokin Don

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pellet Smoker Chicken Salad

Another hot day today 103 deg. Look forward to tomorrow, a high of only 89! I got a chicken spatchcocked and in brining last night, an organic one. I got it on the smoker about 10:00 AM. I did it on smoke 180 deg. for a half hour then went to 325 deg. to finish to an IT of 180 deg. Being spatchcocked I find 180 deg. breast temp. the legs & thighs will be 185 deg. or a little higher.

I let it cool & then in the fridge until I was ready to make the salad. After lunch I removed the skin & chopped up the meat and assembled the salad.

The first batch I made my son thought it needed more mayonnaise and my wife didn’t like the onions. My grandson liked the first batch but when I ask if he wanted me to make some more, he said “but Grampa onions don’t go with chicken”! So I altered the recipe some, added more mayonnaise and toned down the onions to just one slice of onion diced small and some fresh chives from my garden. It needs some onion flavor.

My wife said it was perfect and I liked it. Now all I have to do is see if my son & grandson approve!

Printable Chicken Salad Recipe

The Chicken

Chopping the chicken


Mixed & ready to chill

Served on my Smoked Cajun crackers

Smokin Don