Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mary's Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup

Oct 30 2012

The past week end was cold, damp and windy. I had been going to buy a whole pork loin and do a couple of different cooks I want to try. Sunday I had been to Mary’s blog “Deep South Dish” and saved a great looking recipe Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup, I had to try this sometime. Monday we got winds; 30 mph steady and +50 mph gusts thanks to hurricane Sandy. Monday evening I decided to make the soup for Tuesday’s supper.

This morning I woke up to a snow covered yard. I went to the grocery and bought the stuff to make the soup, they had some half turkey breasts so I got one to do along with the chicken for the soup. I had planned to do up one and vacuum seal some for my grandsons school lunches. I got it in a brine of ½ gal. water, 1/3 cup kosher salt, a scant ¼ cup of sugar and 3 Tbs. molasses. I could leave it marinate for 2 ½ hours and get it on an hour after starting the chicken.

I spatchcocked the chicken, put a pat of butter under each breast skin, seasoned with a little Lawry’s seasoning salt and got it on the smoker at 12:00 noon. I started on smoke mode then eased up to 325 deg. after 15 minutes to do to an IT of 180 deg. breast temp. My smoke deck was keeping the wind off but I was bundled up pretty good. I was thinking about all those people who didn’t have power from the storm and may have to endure a week or more without it. I was glad we didn’t lose power and could enjoy some warming soup for supper!

I rinsed the turkey breast and seasoned with seasoning salt: I got it on at 1:00. At 1:30 the chicken was done so I let it cool. About 2:30 I pulled the meat from the breast and one leg quarter for the soup. I kept tabs on the turkey breast and pulled it at an IT of 180 deg. I tented it with foil and let cool. It went in the fridge; I will slice it up tomorrow. I had brushed it once with butter and molasses.

When my daughter in law & grandson stopped in at 3:00 after school I had started making the soup. I followed Mary’s recipe pretty close, I used smoked paprika instead of sweet. I assembled mine a little different. I sautéed the onions and garlic in the butter, added the meat and seasoning, heated through then added the flour and then the chicken broth and milks. For soups and stews I like to season the meat. I had it done by 4:00 and gave a big bowl to my daughter in law to take home.

I left the soup on low and the wife and I ate about 5:30. We both loved it, great flavor! I put some white tortilla chips in the bottom of a bowl and ladled the soup over. On top of that went some crushed smoked Korean crackers and some shredded Fiesta style cheese. I had some smoked Korean crackers on the side. It sure hit the spot.

Thanks for the recipe Mary, it’s a keeper, and I will have to stay away from your blog if I ever want to get my pork loins done!

Soup ingredients

Chicken and turkey on the smoker

Chicken done

Turkey breast done

Seasoning for the soup, gray salt, cumin, onion powder, smoked paprika and chili powder.

Onions, garlic, chicken and seasonings simmering

Soups on

My supper

Smokin Don

Monday, October 29, 2012

Braised Bacon (pork belly), spaetzel and cabbage

I have wanted to do a pork belly and have read a lot of recipes. Most do a cure on a fresh pork belly first then various methods of cooking. I thought now bacon is cured pork belly so why not use bacon and cut out that step, and I love bacon. I decided on a beer braised recipe, I did not have to do the cure and made up my own cooking method. For my sides I would have fried cabbage and fried spaetzel and would serve the braised bacon on the spaetzel with the braising liquid over.

I bought a piece of bacon 2, ½ pounds from Kah Meats, my butcher. I cut three nice squares from it to use. I smoked it today, early morning, for 1 ½ hours.

I used my Lodge cast iron chicken fryer with lid to do the braising. I added some olive oil and seared the bacon, top and bottom then removed and set aside. I added a chopped onion, some chopped baby carrots, and two stalks of celery, chopped and some thyme. I stirred and cooked awhile then added a little beer to deglaze. I used Yuengling black & tan. I placed the bacon pieces over the veggies, poured in most of the rest of the beer, and enough chicken broth to all but cover the bacon.

I added a bay leaf, covered and in a preheated oven at 280 deg. I left it in 3 hours checking the liquid about every hour. After the three hour I removed the bacon and placed a cast iron plate over and some plates to press while cooling. The recipe said to discard the veggies but for me they would stay. I strained most of the fat from the liquid.

I put the bacon back in the pot and on the smoker, uncovered. I did it at 180 deg. for one hour then went to 225 deg. My Traeger was running closer to 235 deg. Average so I let it run there another two hours. The sauce was reduced down nice. I placed it on a burner on low to hold while I prepared the sides.

I got the cabbage on frying and boiled the spaetzel, and then it went into a skillet with some olive oil and butter to brown some. I placed the bacon under the broiler to brown the tops some.

I served it up with some buttered crusty bread, sure tasted good. If I did this again I would probably do the final step by just doing the bacon on the smoker, directly on the grate, at a high temperature to render more of the fat and crisp up. My wife didn’t eat any of the fat and I didn’t eat the top layer; I had the thickest piece with the most fat on top. The thinner layers of fat were fine for me. The meat was melt in your mouth tender.

Bacon and liquid

Bacon smoking

Smoked bacon, spaetzel, and cabbage

Searing the bacon

The veggies

Ready to add the liquid

After 3 hours at 280 degrees

Ready to go back on the smoker

All done and the sauce reduced

Fixing the sides

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Salmon, Cheesy Grits and baby Carrots

Oct 26 2012

I thawed out some wild caught Alaskan salmon I needed to use. There were 4 individual wrapped pieces in a marinade. I would have it with some white cheddar cheese grits, sautéed baby carrots, and cornbread.

It was a cold 45 deg. rainy day after being about 75 yesterday. After lunch I mixed up a batch of Korean crackers to smoke tomorrow. I then made a batch of old fashioned white grits and stirred in some white cheddar and parmesan cheese. I could reheat it easily for supper.

I placed the salmon on a foil lined grill pan; I wanted it to cook in its own liquid to stay moist. I did it on smoke 175 deg. After 20 minutes I started to ease up the temp. to a final 325 deg. While the salmon was cooking I got my carrots sautéing in a skillet with a Tbs. of butter and a Tbs. of olive oil.

When the salmon was done I covered with foil while I reheated the grits. I put the carrots in a pan to hold and toasted the cornbread in the skillet 1 or 2 minutes on each side.

This was a pretty easy cook, we thought it was good. The salmon was just a tad overdone but I don’t want any fish that is rare and it wasn’t bad.

The Salmon

Carrots Sauteing

Salmon is done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mary's Buttermilk and Sourcream Cornbread

If you like southern cooking and you haven’t been to Mary’s “Deep South Dish” get over there. This gal knows how to cook southern. Everything from how to make a roux several ways, to meats, soups stews, gumbos and desserts; her recipes are great. If I wanted to cook southern I used to go to Paula Deen at food network; but ever since I lucked across Mary’s blog that’s where I go for recipes and ideas.

One of her latest creations Buttermilk sour cream cornbread is delicious. This is cornbread with an attitude! I used her basic recipe and added per her recommendation, a mild Mexican style by adding a cup of shredded cheese and a 4 oz. can of chopped green chilies. I like DelMonte’s cream style corn and used up some shredded cheese from two kinds and some Mexican style.

In my opinion the 3 Tbs. of bacon grease really makes it taste great. If you are vegan and don’t want the bacon grease at least add 3 Tbs. of butter.

I did mine in a cast iron skillet and baked at 440 deg. I checked it at 20 minutes and did another 5 minutes when the edges were getting brown and the top was splitting in several place. I let it cool awhile then the wife and I both had a piece while still warm with butter on top. We both thought it was great! Our grandson ate a piece when he got home from school. I saved two pieces for my Mother and gave two pieces to our daughter in law to take home. There’s just two pieces left to enjoy!

Below are a couple photos of this great cornbread; thanks for sharing the recipe Mary!

Link to Mary's recipe

Mary's Cornbread

A slice of goodness!

Smokin Don

Two Easy Meals from Leftover Rib Meat

Oct 22 2012
Saturday when I smoked two racks of pork back ribs, with backbone, I ate four ribs from each rack so I had plenty of leftover meat. My wife and I love ribs but prefer them hot off the smoker. I decided to pull the meat from these for two different dishes. Sunday afternoon I pulled the meat from one to use that evening for some stir fry.

The other rack I cut the ribs out and broke up the backbones. I put them in a pot, covered with water, a little salt & pepper and a bay leaf. I boiled them for an hour, and pulled the meat and saved. I strained the broth and in the fridge to cool overnight and then skim all the fat off. The stock took on a nice brown color from the ribs. This would be used to make pork & hominy soup for Mondays supper.

I had found some all natural frozen Asian stir fry mix, New World Farms, at Wal-Mart to use in the stir fry. I would have it over some Zatarain’s New Orleans yellow rice. I got the rice on cooking the I heated a Tbs. of olive oil in a skillet, added two minced garlic cloves and the leftover pork, stirred that awhile then added the frozen veggies and stirred awhile, put a lid on and steamed for 5 to 10 minutes. When the veggies were heated through I added a splash or two of soy sauce and stirred. I served this over the rice with some bread and butter. I had a side of Korean kimchee with mine. A pretty tasty meal and it was quick and easy to make, about 35 minutes.

After supper I mixed up three sleeves of crackers with olive oil, ranch dressing mix, and Korean chili flakes to smoke and have with the soup Monday.

Today was a nice 70 plus day. I smoked the crackers in the morning. My daughter in law came down with a piece of plywood for me to saw. She had it all marked and was making a serving tray. She does pretty nice work. I mowed grass while she worked on it. She ate lunch with my wife and went home after her son got home from school. The two dogs had fun playing all this time.

My supper went together pretty fast, I added olive oil to a soup pot and heated on med. hi, diced a med. onion and two cloves of garlic, added to the pot and sautéed until the onion was clear, added the pork meat, added the Cajun seasoning and cumin. I stirred until the meat was starting to stick to the pot. Then I started to add the stock I had skimmed the fat off, I left some, the soup has to have eyes to be good. I had about 8 cups of stock. I brought that to a boil and then added the rest of the ingredients and simmered about 45 minutes. I served the wife and we had bread and butter and the smoked Korean crackers. I crushed up some of the crackers in my soup and added some Cholula hot sauce. Pretty tasty!

This was three meals from some smoked pork ribs and I still have some rib meat to freeze for later.

Printable Soup Recipe

Stir fry mix

Rib Meat to use

My Sunday Supper

Some of the stock to show nice color

Soup ingredients

Onions, garlic, rib meat and seasonings simmering

Soups On

My Monday Supper

Smokin Don

Update: Oct 24 2012

My third easy meal for the leftover rib meat.

Today was a great 70 + day and I worked outside trying to get chores done before winter gets here.
I took food to my Mother this morning and stopped at the grocery for some veggie for supper, I found a nice head of Bok Choy. I would use it with some leftover rib meat for sandwiches and leftover mashed potatoes for fried potato cakes. I also got some nice take home & bake sandwich buns.

I had enough leftover rib meat from the two racks Sandman gave me; I got a lot of mileage from those two racks. The recipe for the Bok Choy I followed was clean and trim, slice head in half, nuke 3 to 5 minutes in microwave, add some sauce then on a med hot grill to char. The sauce I made was ¼ cup BBQ sauce, 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar, 1 tsp. soy sauce, and 1 tsp. sesame oil.

I did mine all inside for the ease of doing quickly. I did the rolls in the oven 385 deg. For 7 minutes, had the rib meat heated in a skillet with BBQ sauce, and the potato cakes frying. I nuked the Bok Choy added the sauce, took the buns out and put the Bok Choy under the broiler awhile. I had added some smoked onions I had left.

So we had BBQ pork rib meat on hot buns with the Bok Choy and potato cakes. For leftovers it sure tasted good!

Smokin Don

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pork Back Ribs in Parchment Paper

Oct 20 2012

Thursday when I went to The Beer & Wine Depot, Sandman asked if I wanted some back ribs. They were some frozen bone in loins he got a good buy on and he trimmed out the loins from and had some back bones attached. He asked how many I wanted! I said two and he wouldn’t take anything for them. Free meat, thanks much Sandman!

They fit an idea I had to use my Amazin tube smoker on; to see if I thought it added more smoke taste and wrap one to compare wrapped against unwrapped. Even though Sandman would give me butcher paper I had an idea to use parchment paper. I thought it would be a less costly way than buying a large roll of butcher paper and would benefit fellow pelletheads that wanted to try butcher paper. Well that part didn’t pan out; the parchment paper is not porous so it was more like wrapping in foil. It may be cheaper than using foil if anyone wants to check it out.

I did my ribs my favorite way, wet down w/red wine vinegar and rub with Penzey’s Galena Street rub. I thought I would be able to tell if I got more smoke taste with the tube smoker. I prepared the ribs Friday evening and in the fridge overnight.

My wife was going out with her girlfriends to eat and then to a concert. She does not coordinate her plans with my cooking plans. Here I was cooking for five for six months then down to two the past several weeks and I think this is the third time I have done a big cook and ate alone! I don’t think I can eat two racks of ribs!

I did the ribs this afternoon. 1 hour on smoke about 180 deg., 1 ½ hours at 225 deg., 1 ½ hours with one wrapped 225 deg., unwrapped and 1 more hour at 225 deg. A total cook time of 5 hours.

I had some ring bologna from my butcher. I scored it about 1 inch apart and stuffed in a slice of garlic the rubbed in some Cajun seasoning. It would make a good snack. I did it for the one hour smoke and another hour. I had half gone by the time the ribs were done!

I did an onion stuffed with beef bouillon granules, butter and a clove of garlic. To prepare the onion use a med. to large sweet onion, cut just enough root off to set flat, cut the top off. Leave some of the outer skin, cut a cone shape from the center, slice outward down through all but the outer layer several cuts around the onion, add ½ teaspoon beef bouillon granules, press a pat of butter in, press a smashed garlic clove in the butter, then sprinkle some more beef granules on top. I put it on along with three sweet potatoes wrapped in foil the last two hours.

My supper was great, and I really didn’t mind I didn’t have anyone to share it with! Did I get more smoke taste with the tube smoker, I think so. Was the wrapped better than the unwrapped, I think just a little more moist and tender; but not absolute sure. They were both good and bottom line is I don’t think I would make a good BBQ Competition Judge! I had some good bread and butter too, the sweet potatoes were good with the ribs and the onion was the best I have done, a good combo of flavors.

Ribs ready to smoke

Bologna ready to smoke

On the smoker

Onion prepared

My snack is done

One rack wrapped

Potatoes and onion added

Rack unwrapped then back on

About done

The onion

Ribs are done

Some from both racks to try

My Plate

Smokin Don

Saturday, October 20, 2012

King Ranch Chicken

The past two weeks I have cooked a lot of comfort food, doing beans twice. I think because the cool fall weather makes me hungry for that type of food and a little because I don’t have to worry about pleasing the kids and grandson since they moved out. My wife doesn’t like beans so tonight I would do a chicken dish for her.

I decided on King Ranch chicken. This dish was named for the King Ranch in South Texas, one of the largest in the world 825,000 acres. It is not known whether this casserole recipe originated on the ranch. I first heard about Rotel tomatoes back in the 80’s on a visit to my sister in Texas. I sent to Rotel for a cook book called, “Snake, Rattle & Rotel”, by Crazy Sam Higgens 1986. I use Rotel tomatoes a lot in chili but don’t think I ever made the King Ranch chicken.

I smoked a whole cut up chicken and a spaghetti squash. I did this up early for using the two breast meat for the casserole and would reheat the squash when ready to eat. I did the chicken for 45 minutes on smoke then to 300 deg. to finish. I put the squash on just after the chicken, total cook time for the chicken about 2 hours and did the squash another ½ hour.

The chicken was brined for two hours in 1/3 cup kosher salt, ¼ cup brown sugar and 1/8 cup molasses in ½ gallon of water. I seasoned the breasts w/Penzey’s Cajun and the rest w/Lawry’s seasoning salt. I placed a hunk of butter in each squash half and seasoned w/Calif. Style garlic salt. The butter was nice to use for basting the chicken a couple of times. I like the squash better done in the oven, I place it cut side down over a pat of butter on a cookie sheet, 350 deg. about 1 ½ hours. It came out a little drier on the smoker but had a nice smoke taste.

When the kids came to get the grandson after school they decided to stay for supper, it sounded good to them. I cut up both breasts to use and used Rotel mild tomatoes & chilies. We had some Home Pride brown bread and butter with it. Everyone liked it and I was thinking I should have tried this a long time ago! I think it would be good with or over mashed potatoes too.

Link to the recipe I used

Casserole ingredients

Spaghetti Squash

On the smoker, after 1 hour

Chickens done

Molasses in the brine gave it a nice color

Peppers, onions and chicken simmering before adding tomatoes and soup

King Ranch Chicken

My Plate

Smokin Don