Friday, November 30, 2012

Philippine Grilled Chicken

Nov 29 2012

I recently joined a new forum on homemade sausage making, Wedliny Domowe, which means Homemade Sausage Making in Polish. There is a link under “My Favorite Sites”. Check them out; there is a ton of information there from all over the world. I found the recipe for Kassler Ham there and today’s Philippine chicken cook.

I had two whole fryer chickens to cook and decided to do one for making chicken and noodles and one as Philippine grilled chicken for tonight’s supper. I spatchcocked them both and one went in the brine overnight; it was in for 11 hours.

I cooked down about two cups of the brine to use as a mop sauce but it was too salty for me. I made some from water, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, dried garlic and onion flakes. I had some Zatarain’s yellow rice left for a side and sautéed some thin sliced carrots and green onions. I also had a loaf of take home and bake garlic bread to have.

I inserted a pat of butter under each breast on the chickens, and seasoned the unbrined one with Lawrey’s seasoning salt. They went in the fridge to dry about two hours before smoking.

I got them in my Traeger on smoke mode 175 deg. After 45 minutes I started to ease the temp up in 25 deg. increments until I was at 300 deg. I mopped the one with some melted butter and the brined one with my sauce twice during the cook. I went to 325 deg. for about the last 15 minutes. They were both done after a total of 1 hour 45 minutes.

I tented them with foil and made my carrots and heated up the rice. I did the carrots and onions in a skillet, med. high, in some butter, added about a teaspoon of sugar when they were getting soft then some soy sauce. This took about 10 minutes.

I served my wife a breast and I had a leg and thigh. We both had a slice of the garlic bread and butter.

The chicken was moist and tender, pretty tasty. I liked the carrots done this way, quick and easy to make.

Printable Chicken Recipe

Garlic Bread

Chicken ready to smoke, one seasoned, one brined

Chickens are done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baked Sirloin Steak

This was not done on my smoker but thought I would share it. My Mother fixed this for years and one of my favorite ways to cook sirloin or round steak. If you want to splurge use sirloin; if you want cheaper use round steak; both turn out pretty good.

Mother always used cream of mushroom soup for the gravy. I prefer using Campbells beefy mushroom soup or some Heinz home style gravy; this time I used their Bistro Au Jus.

I had two pieces of sirloin from my butcher Kah’s; each about 1 ¼ pounds. I cut them into serving size pieces on a cutting board; remove any unwanted fat. Pound them on each side a couple of times with a tenderizer mallet. I use a metal one with two sizes of points and I use the large points. The sirloin really doesn’t need tenderized but I like using the mallet; it gives more surface for the flour to stick, or so I think. If you use round steak you might want to tenderize it more. Before I got the mallet I used the edge of a dinner plate.

Heat a little oil in a large skillet, med high. While doing this preheat your oven to 350 deg. Dredge the meat in some seasoned flour, shake off the excess and brown 3 to 5 minutes on each side to get some nice browning. I just use a little salt and fresh ground pepper for seasoning. Do this in batches if necessary.

I use a covered corning ware casserole to do mine. Spray with a little cooking spray, cover the bottom with a little of the gravy and add the first batch of meat, and some more of the gravy. Layer the second batch of meat on top and the rest of the gravy. Deglaze the skillet with some water or milk and scrape all the brown bits from the bottom and pour over the top of the meat. I added some Wondra flour to my water since my gravy was on the thin side.

Place in the 350 deg. oven for 45 minutes with the lid on then remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes. To me this is best to serve with some good mashed potatoes to pour the gravy over. To make this easy I used some Yoder’s red skin mashed potatoes; these are about as good as I can make. The older I get I kind of look for shortcuts more often. For a veggie we had some left over green bean casserole and some dinner roles with butter. This was a tasty and easy meal.

For variations you can use any gravy of your choice or even just make your own after browning the meat. If you like cooking with wine you could deglaze the skillet with white wine to add.

Meat tenderized

Dredging in the flour

Browning the first side

Browning the second side

One layer in the casserole dish

Skillet deglazed and thickened

Yoder's mashed potatoes

My Plate

Smokin Don

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner

Nov 22 2012

Well the holiday is over; we enjoyed having the whole family home, and some good food. I got up early and put the potatoes in the crockpot for hot German potato salad. Wednesday I had roasted some sweet potatoes with butter in the oven. All I needed to finish them was put on the stove, in a saucepan and heat up with some brown sugar and maple syrup. I sliced up enough of the Kassler ham and wrapped in foil with about an 1/8 cup of water. I had read a good way to reheat ham was to wrap in foil, add about an inch of water to a Crockpot, place the foil wrapped ham on a trivet. Cook on high for an hour then on low for three hours looking for an IT of 140 deg. Mine was a little overdone but still good. This was for a small whole ham and for sliced I would think an hour on high then on low for an hour to an hour and a half.

I got the Kassler ham in the Crockpot at 1:00 Pm. I made up my green bean casserole and corn pudding early and ready to bake. The green bean casserole I got off the Campbell soup site, I opted to use golden mushroom soup instead of the standard cream of mushroom soup and adding ½ cup of chopped red pepper and the usual French fried onions. For the corn pudding I used the Jiffy cornbread mix recipe that is easy to find on the net.

By 4:00 everyone was here and enjoying some appetizers. The appetizers were, smoked Cajun and Korean crackers, smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar cheese that I had cold smoked; some red pepper humus and a large veggie platter with onion dip.

All was done and ready to serve at 5:00. Most made ham sandwiches with rye bread, and I had some Kings Hawaiian sweet rolls. We all thought the ham was real good. I had some Lowensenf mustard and horseradish on my sandwich.

My thoughts on the Kassler ham was it sure tasted like ham, a little less salty and sweeter. Tasting some cold as I was slicing it I thought it would sure make a good cold ham sandwich. Mine was very tender but with good texture. I will add some more info in the printable recipe. The recipe I used was by Bubba on a homemade sausage forum. Thanks Bubba!

Did it taste like a Kassler Ham? To know that I would have to go to Germany to taste the real thing.

Printable Kassler Ham Recipe

Link to Bubba's Recipe and Photos

The roasted sweet potatoes I did Wednesday

Some appetizers, calabrese, copocola, and pepper salami, smoked Gouda and cheddar and some of my smoked Korean crackers.

Another view of the appetizers

The veggie plate

Slicing the Kassler Ham

My wife had a nice table set

My Plate

Smokin Don

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kassler Ham for Thanksgiving

Nov 17 2012

I and most of our family are not great turkey fans so for this Thanksgiving I decided to do a Kassler Ham. I don’t know where I first ran across this but after researching it I found Kassler Ham was one German cured meat that never caught on here in the US. I think it really did except evolved into our Canadian or back bacon, since it is done with pork loin instead of pork belly. The only difference I can find is in the brine seasoning, Kassler Ham has juniper berries, thyme, and coriander where the other bacons usually don’t. It is said that Kassler Ham can be found in most German deli’s and meat shops.

I looked at a lot of recipes and decided on one that was supposed to be an old family recipe. I e-mailed the recipe to Poppa Tom asking his advice; I consider him our guru on sausage and cured meats at pelletheads forum. He said it was authentic German and addressed my concerns about too much salt. I followed his advice on the salt and sugar. So this is for you Poppa Tom, hope it turns out good and thanks for the advice.

Yesterday I bought a whole pork loin from my butcher Kah’s. It is not one of his fresh butchered loins but anything he sells is top quality. It is all natural, no solution or ingredients added and weighed 10.5 pounds. I made my brine this morning and let cool. I divided the loin into 3 pieces, the one for my Kassler Ham was 4.5 pounds, and I froze the other two. The recipe called for brining for 48 hours, mine will be a little longer. I injected the loin with the brine, in a square pattern about every inch and a half. I plan to smoke the ham Tuesday, one hour on smoke and then 225 deg. to an IT of 150 to 155 deg. Wednesday I will check it to see if it is good and plan to steam it in a roaster oven for Thanksgiving Day.

My sides for Thanksgiving I plan to do are, hot German potato salad, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, and a green bean casserole. I’ll have some rye bread for anyone that wants a ham sandwich. For appetizers I’ll have smoked Cajun and smoked Korean crackers and for toppers I’ll have some of my smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar cheese, chorizo, and salami. My wife always wants a veggie plate and dip, so I guess we’ll have that.

I am not very good at making desserts so I will probably buy something.

I will add more photos and results after Thanksgiving. Smokin Don

Brine ingredients, CW from the left, kosher salt, brown sugar, bay leaves and juniper berries, smashed garlic, thyme, sage, and coriander and pink salt

My Pork Loin


Nov 20 2012

My Kassler ham had been in the brine for 60 hours, time to smoke it today. Sunday I had told my wife I was not going to cook until Thanksgiving. She said she would so Mon. night she had fish from Captain D’s. Tonight she had chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s. Wed. Night she will have pizza from Beer & Wine Depot. So far it’s been good! I should give her credit though, last week she baked her usual pumpkin bread to give to friends and relatives for Thanksgiving.

At 9:30 AM I got the loin out of the brine, rinsed well then back in the fridge to air dry for 2 ½ hours. I got it on my Traeger, smoke mode 170 deg. at noon, fat side down. I was using Traeger oak pellets and loaded my Amazn tube smoker filled with some Smokin Bros. 100% apple wood pellets for some additional smoke. After 45 minutes on smoke mode I went to 225 deg.

I was using my new Maverick ET732 probes for the first time. I used my ET84 for a second temp. The two ran 1 to 2 deg. different during the cook. As I kind of knew, my pit temp. at grill level ran a consistent 20 deg. hotter than the digital temp. from the RTD.

After 3 ¼ hours total the loin was up to an IT of 150 deg. I pulled it and tented for ½ hour then removed the foil to cool some more. I wrapped in saran wrap and then foil and in the fridge to rest. My Traeger was running closer to 235 deg. and pit temp was at 255 deg. through most of the cook. The tube smoker lasted through the cook with about an hour left.

The loin sure looked good, had a nice color. I hope it tastes good. I was going to slice it tomorrow but will wait until Thurs. morning so it sets the recommended two days.

Ready for the smoker after brine and air dry

My temp. monitors

After one hour, tube smoker still going

It was great to monitor my meat and pit temps while inside doing other chores

At 150 deg. IT ready to pull

Ready to rest

Fat side after a rest, ready to wrap and in the fridge

Updated: Nov 21 2012

Today I smoked two batches of crackers, 3 sleeves each. I did one batch of Cajun crackers and one batch of Korean crackers. I will serve them with appetizers tomorrow.I smoked them for 1 1/2 hours at 170 deg.

Printable Smoked Cracker Recipes

Crackers done on the smoker

Korean crackers on top, Cajun on the bottom

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Kah's Brats with Mac and Broc

Nov 16 2012

When cooks get lazy and tired of cooking in today’s world; a lot of cooks resort to an evening of fast food. When I get tired of going through a lot of prep I find I can throw something together that is fast and better for you than fast food. It usually tastes better and less costly.

Today I felt lazy and was hungry for brats. I bought a package of 4 brats at Kah Meats, my butcher and favorite place to buy meat. I had a bag of Green Giant steamers, macaroni w/cheese sauce and broccoli.
Two packages and two easy preps, the brats I could toss on the smoker and the mac and broc would only take 5 minutes in the microwave. You can’t get much easier than that, and there would not be many dishes for my wife to clean up.

I did the brats for 45 minutes on smoke 175 deg. then went to 275 deg. they were done in another 30 minutes, total 75 minutes. I heated up my mac and broc and served the wife and I on a tray to go watch some TV while we ate. I had my brat topped with some Lowensenf mustard and some pickled red onions. With a brat I have to have some good beer to wash it down. My wife topped her brat with ketchup and sauerkraut, now that combo does not even sound good to me! But then she also puts ketchup in her chicken and noodle soup!

It tasted pretty good; I could have had a second brat but then I would not have room for my after supper treat. Usually I have four nutter butter cookies and my dog has to have his share too.

Brats, mac and broc

Brats are done, the white is garlic salt I added

My Plate, My Supper

Smokin Don

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Muffin Pan Pizza Meat Loaves

Nov 13 2012

This looked like a fun dish to do and looked tasty. They’re a lot of muffin pan recipes out there. I liked this one, just a pizza flavored meat loaf topped with cheese, with no crust. I followed Susan Wollin’s recipe from Taste of Home for a guide but made up my own recipe for doing on my Traeger.

I have done several chicken stack recipes in a muffin pan that turned out good. For those I would lay two slices of bacon in each muffin hole, build the stack and fold bacon over the top. The last part of the cook I took them out of the muffin pan to help crisp up the bacon and render out some fat. At first I had a muffin pan with holes in the bottom, but found the chicken cooked better in one without holes and then finished as above.

For the meat loaves I would use the one with holes in the bottom, I had drilled 4 small holes in each muffin hole. I had some Spanish dry aged chorizo I put in the bottom of two muffin holes; for the other four I cut bacon just to cover the bottom.

After lunch I mixed up my meat loaf, made with a pound of ground chuck and a pound of Italian sausage. I made balls about the size of a baseball for each muffin. I pressed the hole in each one using a shot glass; it came out better when I twisted back and forth when removing. I placed two slices of pepperoni in each one, about 1 teaspoon of pizza sauce and topped with shredded cheese. I used some 5 cheese Italian blend for the cheese. I placed them in the fridge until ready to cook.

I had planned on doing on smoke mode 170 deg. About 40 minutes and then going to 300 deg. For 30 to 45 minutes and would look for and IT of 150 to 160 deg. After they had been at 300 deg. for 25 minutes they were above desired temp. I had not added the cheese yet, I figured on adding it the last 15 to 20 minutes, so I added the cheese and turned down the heat long enough to melt the cheese. I suppose being surrounded by metal in the muffin pan they cooked faster than I thought. I corrected this in my printable recipe.

The meat loaves were a little over done but pretty tasty. I liked the one with chorizo. I had leftovers for sides; potato fennel gratin and some frozen peas I made creamed peas with. To the peas I added some butter, half & half and wonder flour to thicken. I think mac & cheese would be a better side; but I had leftovers to use up. If I make these again I would add the cheese when going to the higher temp. and maybe dropping back to 275 deg.

Meat loaf ingredients

Stages of making the meat loaves

Making the hole with a shot glass

Meat loaves are done

My Plate

Smokin Don

Must Have Safety Item

Prompted by a recent discussion on pelletheads forum about how close to combustible material you can have your smoker. Traeger says a minimum of 10 inches.

I went out today and bought a fire extinguisher, $22 at Walmart. I have read some posts on of members having grease fires or from over feeding pellets. Since my Traeger is on a 6X6 covered wood deck I thought this would be a wise investment.

Lowes had one for $17, good for 6 yrs., disposable. I found this one at Walmart for $22, rated "A B C",good for 10 yrs. And it’s re chargeable. Any extinguisher you buy for your pellet grill should be rated "A B C".

I had one incident where I was cooling my smoker on smoke mode after a high heat cook and forgot about it. When I remembered it and checked it was still running but cold and checking the pellet bin saw it was empty. I figured it had simply run out of pellets. The next day I fired up the smoker for another cook, then went inside. When I went back out it was at 375 deg.; I knew this was too hot for smoke mode! I opened the lid, mistake. The extra air fueled the fire. I dropped the lid and made a smarter move; I shut it off and waited until the fire died down.

When it was cool enough, I checked and there were pellets around the fire pot. The night before what had happened was; by the design of Traeger’s pellet hopper it stopped feeding long enough for the fire to go out and then fed more pellets until the hopper was empty. That was enough to fill the fire pot and run over. If I hadn’t been there to check I might have had a huge fire. My rule now is after any flame out check the fire pot before re starting.

Another good rule is; do not leave your smoker plugged in. One pellethead member wrote his had started by it’s self and had a close call. I would say that was from a controller malfunction.

If you don’t have a fire extinguisher go get one; I think it is a must have safety item. For those who have or use their smokers near combustible material or enclosed you might want to rethink about leaving your smoker unattended for very long.

My fire extinguisher

Smokin Don

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spice Rubbed Cowboy Chops and Potato Fennel Gratin

Nov 11 2012

Today was a nice 60 deg. fall day, just a little windy. I think it’s about our last nice day before winter weather sets in. It was a fun cook since I was doing two new recipes for the first time. I found both checking out food blogs.

The spice rubbed pork chops I found on It is written by Mike and Tina as a team, both doing the cooking and writing. Looks like some good food and the writing is done with interesting humor. Go check them out.

I don’t remember where I found the potato fennel gratin; there was no recipe just a general description on how to prepare. I took the time to write a recipe on how I did mine.

This morning I had bacon, fried mush, an egg and some rye toast for my brunch. The last few times I had bacon and mush I did them on the smoker. I was getting a little hungry to fry the mush and egg in bacon grease. On the smoker is a little healthier but you can get the mush crispier and I love the bacon flavor; so I did this inside. The bacon was my favorite, from Kah Meats, my local butcher. It all tasted great.

My wife went to lunch with girlfriends and then to an Art Center about an hour away for a show. The show started at 3:00 pm and she said I should be home before 6 to eat, our usual time for supper. I said I would plan on 6:30 I didn’t want to have it ready early. It’s a good thing, she was 10 minutes late and I had to hold it.

A little after 4:00 I got the potato fennel dish ready and in a preheated 325 deg. oven by 5:00. I started my smoker and got it preheated on smoke mode 170 deg. I did 3 pork chops and did two with the spice rub; the other I just added some Lawry’s seasoning salt. I thought if my wife didn’t like the spice rub she could have the plain one. I got them on at 5:20 and after a half hour on smoke I took 10 minutes to ease the Traeger up to 300 deg. in 25 deg. Increments and did for another 30 minutes. Total cook time was an hour and 10 minutes. I put some Freshlike canned sliced beets on to heat for another side.

At 6:30 all was done but no wife! I turned my oven down to 200 deg. and set the smoker to 180 deg. I would hold it for 15 minutes then eat and the wife could reheat hers. She made it just in time. She liked the spice rubbed chop. I thought it was delicious and the two dishes complimented each other, a marriage of flavors waiting to happen. I had steak knives out but the chops were fork tender!

Printable spice rubbed chops recipe

Printable potato fennel gratin recipe

My Brunch

The spice mix

Slicing the fennel

Making the first layer

First layer done

Second layer done

Pork chops

Chops seasoned with the rub

On the smoker and ready to serve

Potato fennel gratin done

My Plate my Supper

Smokin Don