Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pastrami Cheese Burger

What could be better than a bacon cheese burger? A pastrami cheese burger! I only had enough pastrami; I had made Sunday, left for one sandwich. I kept getting into it for a snack, love that stuff cold. I already had some of Kah’s burgers thawing out for supper so thought just use some of the pastrami on the burgers. I had also made some French style new red potato salad.

We were all up early this morning to see the grandson off to his first day of school, second grade. I worked most of the afternoon removing street brick from my patio to install underground service to my smoking deck. Those babies weigh 8 lbs. a piece so needed a few beer breaks too!

My d-i-l works afternoons, and at the last minute the grandson was off to eat out with a friend. There was just the wife & I and our son for supper.

I threw the one piece cast iron grate from my Weber Q100 on the smoker to do the burgers. I preheated it to 375 deg. Threw on the burgers and pastrami, 7 to 8 minutes on a side then topped the burgers with pastrami, provolone cheese, and the buns for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and toast the onion poppy seed buns.

Sandwiches were great, the pastrami got a little crisp and I even got some grill marks on the burgers! The sides were good, my wife made up a box of Kraft shells and cheese and my potato salad was great. The potato salad was Bobby Flays recipe from food network.

Burgers and Pastrami after the flip

Assembling the sandwiches

The grill marks

My Plate

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An EZ and short way to Good Pastrami

This recipe for a smoked pastrami on a pellet grill is about the quickest way to get a deli style pastrami I know of. I used Hub’s, a fellow pelletheads recipe, for the dry rub and a guide for smoking. He shortens the time by using a pre-corned brisket flat.

I bought a corned beef flat at Walmart, a little over 3 lbs. I soaked it in water a total of 12 hours, changing the water halfway. Saturday afternoon I installed a manual fan switch on my Traeger. I got up at midnight and took the corned beef from the water, rinsed good and dried. I applied the dry rub, wrapped tight in saran wrap and in the fridge.

I got up a little after 7 am and got the smoker ready. I had bought an Amazin tube smoker, 12 inch, and wanted to try it. I loaded it with half bourbon barrel and half Traeger oak pellets. I got it lit then turned the smoker on; I had smoke from the smoker so closed the lid and went in to get the brisket ready.

I put the brisket on the smoker fat cap down and after a couple hours on smoke I inserted a temp probe for monitoring the IT of my pastrami.

I did it on smoke mode for 3 hours, averaging about 180 deg. The pastrami was at 110 deg IT and I still had un-burnt pellets in the tube smoker so I would get about 4 hours of smoke from it. I then went to 225 deg. 4 ½ hours total, the IT was at 150 deg. I double wrapped in foil and back on with fat cap up and went to 250 deg. I did a toothpick test at 165 deg. IT and took it on to 170 deg. IT. A total cook time of 5 hours 15 minutes.

I placed it in a corning ware dish w/lid and in a preheated 180 deg. oven. I turned the oven off and let it rest for 45 minutes. I then unwrapped and let it cool some then in a bag and in the fridge. I placed it in the freezer about 20 min. before slicing.

I decided to just hand slice for this small pastrami. I can slice pretty thin but using my slicer would have been better, I was getting tired & didn’t want the mess.

For supper I had some good rye bread and a choice of Swiss or provolone cheese for sandwiches. I placed 4 portions of pastrami in my Lodge carbon skillet and browned some in a little olive oil, flipped over and added the cheese, after a couple minutes all went under the broiler to melt the cheese. We cleaned up some left over’s along with the sandwiches. Everyone thought the pastrami was great; I had mine with mustard and Swiss cheese.

Eating the sandwich I could not say I got more smoke than usual. It must have been from sitting in the smoke all day! Later that night I had a couple slices cold and it had some good smoke taste; more than usual. The tube smoker worked good. Hub’s spice rub was just right for me. For a quick pastrami, Hub’s recipe and my foil method works good.

Printable Pastrami Recipe

Note: A lot of pellet smoker owners like more smoke flavor so there have been a lot of after market methods to add smoke like a Smoke Daddy or Amazin Smoker. For the most part I am happy with my Traeger but for some meats like ribs, or pastrami I like a little more smoke taste. After seeing the latest Amazin Tube Smoker used by pelletheads on the forum I bought a 12 inch one, they also have an 18 inch. I like it and would recommend it if you are looking for more smoke flavor. I look forward to doing some cold smoked cheese and salmon when the weather gets cold.

Link to see tube smoker

Corned Beef Brisket

Ready for the smoker

After 2 hours of smoke

Un-burnt pellets left in tube after 3 hours

Ready to foil

Ready to slice

Test to see if I was slicing correctly, across the grain

All sliced up

My Plate

View of sliced sandwich

Smokin Don

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Apple butter Stuffed Pork Chops and Three Sides

I had four thick pork chops from my butcher Kah Meats. My three sides are what made this meal. I don’t think I did these beautiful chops justice.

I brined the chops for 24 hours. Before cooking I rinsed and dried them. I stuffed them with a mix of onions sautéed in butter, some cornbread and apple butter. They went in the fridge to air dry for 2 hours. I did them on smoke for one hour then went to 275 deg. In another 40 min they were up to temp so dropped back to smoke mode while my sides finished. I brushed them 3 times with apple butter and a little Worcestershire sauce. Two hours total cook time.

I had three sides so my veggie d-i-l had plenty to eat. The one side I made the day before so just had to reheat. It was an equal amount of potatoes, turnips and carrots; mashed with butter.

I had fresh corn so mixed in some cornbread, cracker crumbs, two eggs and ½ cup of milk baked at 350 deg. for one hour.

My other side came from Mary at Deep South Dish; green tomato casserole. If you like southern cooking go visit her for some great recipes. She used all green tomatoes but I used 2 green, 2 half ripe, and two ripe tomatoes from my garden for my dish and baked them at 350 deg for 1 ½ hours. This tastes like fried green tomatoes without all the mess and fuss.

No one was crazy about the chops, my stuffing was a little too mushy and over all maybe too sweet. Next time I would just use cornbread and onions or no stuffing and serve with a mix of apple butter and apple sauce. The meat was tender and moist.

My son and grandson did not eat the tomatoes; that left more for the rest of us! My d-i-l just ate the sides. You see I need this many choices to satisfy this family! We had cornbread and butter too.

Link to Mary's Green Tomato Casserole recipe

The pork chops

My cornbread

Stuffing ingredients

Making the stuffing

Making the tomato casserole

A second layer

Chops stuffed

After an hour on smoke

Chops are done

Mt Plate

Smokin Don

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pizza and Poppers

Today was a nice day sitting out enjoying watching the humming birds. They are starting their migration south so I am getting quite a few at my feeders.

Wednesdays our friend Brad has a special on pizzas at his Beer & Wine Depot. The best in town and better than I have ever made. We got a 14 inch, cheese, peppers, and onions and sausage on half.

I had a small bunch of Anaheim peppers from my garden and some bacon so decided to make myself some poppers to go with the pizza. I stuffed them with fresh corn, cut from the cob, and Philly onion & chive cream cheese; about half & half in volume

I figured an hour and a half to get done when my wife went for the pizza. I did them an hour on smoke then went to 275 to finish. They were just right when the pizza came. We all had a little salad I made from fresh corn, zucchini, and tomatoes with red wine vinegar and oil dressing.

The pizza was great like usual and the poppers tasted good with it. Our son is out of town so I had the poppers to myself; I could only eat two! I ate the one with out bacon right from the smoker.

Peppers and filling

Peppers filled

Ready for the smoker

After one hour of smoke

My Peppers, Pizza and salad

Smokin Don

Monday, August 20, 2012

Low-country Shrimp Boil

A shrimp boil is about my favorite dish to make. I have done them about every summer at least once; when the corn is fresh. I get my corn from Suter’s produce wagon and it is picked fresh daily. Shrimp boils are popular in the S.E. and south. In the S.E. it is known as low-country boil; aka Frogmore stew, or Beufort stew in S.C. and GA. A Cajun shrimp boil is about the same ingredients with cayenne pepper & hot sauce and they usually use andouille sausage. Ingredients are usually shrimp, smoked sausage, red potatoes, onions, and corn on the cob with varying seasoning.

My recipe was a lb. of, shell on, shrimp, smoked sausage, baby red potatoes, 2 onions quartered, 4 cloves of garlic, and 3 ears of smoked corn broken in thirds. Seasoning was about a Tbs. each of Zatarain’s liquid shrimp boil, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice and a tsp. Cholula hot sauce.

I decided to try and kick mine up some by smoking the sausage & corn in my Traeger first to add some smoke taste. My butcher, Kah’s smoked sausage is not heavily smoked, IMO, so it wouldn’t hurt for more smoke. I did the sausage and corn on smoke for just over an hour.

I seasoned my water and got it on my outdoor gas cooker. I have an insert for my pot that makes it easy to serve when done. When it was at a good boil I added the sausage, potatoes, onions and garlic. After 20 minutes I added in the corn, and about 8 minutes later added the shrimp for 4 to 5 minutes. I poured it all onto a tray to serve.

This is more fun when done for a crowd but I made this for just the wife & I. The kids were gone to a party at my d-i-l’s parents in Toledo. Monday August 20th is our 46th anniversary; I took my wife out to eat Sat. evening and the shrimp boil was my cook for her.

I served it with some good crusty garlic bread & butter and some garlic butter for dipping the shrimp. I thought the sausage was better than usual and I could taste some smoke in the corn. The grease from the sausage makes the shrimp easy to peel and flavors it.

Note: the photo labeled “Our plate” we did not get it all ate but put a good dent in it!

Shrimp Boil


My Bread

Smoked sausage and corn

Shrimp boil done

Our Plate

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, August 17, 2012

EZ Smoker Peeled Tomatoes

The next time you need to peel some tomatoes for a dish instead of messing with a large pot of boiling water to blanch and peel; just do them on your smoker. These I did on a cookie sheet sprayed w/olive oil and I wanted to save the juices so just cut the tops off. If you want to get rid of some of the water for salsa just slice up. I did these for 25 min. at 300 deg. let cool and peeled. If you want more smoke do them on smoke awhile. A lot easier and you can sit with a cold one while they are blanching!

With my second shelf I could do two cookie sheets loaded up with tomatoes at one time.
I very seldom try to get rid of the water. I figure that water has to have some flavor and I can always cook down to thicken to what I want and retain that flavor.

With these I am making a stewed tomato casserole, with toasted bread and some cheese on top.

Tomatoes ready to peel

Tomatoes peeled and chopped

Smokin Don

Mary's Old Fashioned Scalloped Tomatoes

I used the tomatoes and made this dish with Mary's recipe, from Deep South Dish blog and it is worth visiting her blog to get the recipe. She is one fine cook and has many great recipes.

Click here to visit Mary, and get her recipe.

I served this as a side with beef & noodles and mashed potatoes. I had a second helping of the tomatoes over mashed potatoes, yummy!

Mary's Tomatoes

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Beer Brined Spare Ribs

Yea I know most of you will probably groan at this! Normally ribs are not brined. When I saw this recipe on I saved it and knew I would have to try it. It was by Sue Lau who shares some of her recipes there. Her recipe was for baby back ribs on a charcoal grill but I decided on spare ribs for mine on my Traeger. It also included a Honey BBQ Sauce. The beer brine is what intrigued me!

The kids were off early Thursday for a day in Cincinnati, picnic and fun at Coney Island; then to a Red’s baseball game that evening. My wife & I would have BBQ ribs, baked potatoes and finish my corn salad off for supper. I got the ribs in the brine late Tuesday night. I sure hated to pour the 3 bottles of Yuengling in there!

When I got the ribs from the cryopak I saw even though they said All Natural the fine print said a 7% brine. I should have just bought them from my butcher.

My wife requested some more Cajun crackers so I smoked a batch early. Then I figured I would mow the grass, get it done early and then relax while doing the ribs. My rider would not start; dead battery from setting for over a month and is getting old. I put it on slow charge and figured it would need at least 3 hours. I don’t want to buy a new battery this late in the year. I did the back yard with my walk behind then finished with the rider. I still managed to get supper done on time since I was using a pellet smoker.

The ribs were in the brine for just over 12 hours. I got them on the smoker at 175 deg for an hour and 15 minutes then went to 225 deg. My Traeger was having problems holding 225, more like 250 but I let them go at that. Total cook time was 4 ½ hours. I mopped the sauce on for the last half hour.

I had baked potatoes in my oven at 350 deg. for 2 hours with potato rods inserted. Our favorite way for baked potatoes, after you eat the goodies out you have crispy potato skins left. I also served with some good bread.

My wife liked the sauced ribs; I liked them but not that well. She likes sauce but I am more of a dry rib person. The ribs were pull clean from the bones tender. I am glad I tried them, I may try them again sometime but will use baby backs.

Ribs and Brine ingredients

Brined and ready to smoke

Sauce ingredients

After the smoke time

Ready for the sauce


My Plate

Smokin Don

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken for Two Meals

Monday I smoked two chickens for two meals. I spatchcocked and brined overnight. The brine was ½ gallon of water, ½ cup salt, ½ cup brown sugar and 1 Tbs. Zatarain’s shrimp & crab boil.

I seasoned one with Lawry’s seasoning salt and one with Penzey’s Galena St. rub. I placed a pat of butter, seasoned with the appropriate rub, under each breast skin. I did them on smoke, 175 deg., for 45 minutes then went to 325 deg. At 1 ½ hours I sprayed with olive oil. One was done, 180 deg. breast IT, in just over 2 hours and about 5 to 10 minutes more for the other.

I let cool and the one w/Penzey’s rub went in the fridge to reheat for supper. I pulled the other one and diced to about ½ inch squares to make my pellet smoker chicken salad for Tuesday’s supper. Recipe is posted under poultry. I nuked the skin until crisp for a cooks treat!

Monday’s supper was some Yoder’s garlic redskin mashed potatoes, bought but as good as homemade. I cut up the chicken and everyone reheated it along with some of my cheesy corn.

This morning I made some taco chips from corn tortillas. I cut them into sixths on a cookie sheet, sprayed with olive oil, sprayed the chips with a little more olive oil. I did one batch plain and two batches with Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle. They were starting to brown up after 10 minutes in my convection oven.

I made a corn & tomato salad with about 2 cups of fresh corn, 2 med. fresh tomatoes diced, six cherry tomatoes halved, 1 small onion sliced thin and ¼ cup fresh basil sliced thin. The dressing was ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar and salt & pepper. The tomatoes and basil was from my garden.

I thought my d-i-l had today off so this was for her, but she had to work so probably had some after she got home at 11:00 pm. The rest of us enjoyed the two salads and taco chips. That was an easy prep meal for me.

The Chicken

Cut up for the Salad

Salad Ingredients

Finished Salad

Corn, tomato, basil salad

My Plate

Smokin Don