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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Smoked Rib Steaks with a Jet Engine Sear

When it is time for a steak around here, we usually go for whatever cut is on sale at the butcher that day.  A few weeks ago, rib steaks were on sale, so I picked up a few and ran home to prepare them for our dinner that evening.  We like rib steaks around here because the fat to meat ratio is perfect and you have a bone to gnaw on at the end.  You get a bit of crispy fat, tender beef, then you can go all Fred Flintstone on the bone.  Perfect.

I happened to have the smoker rolling that day and thought about smoking these steaks.  While I like the taste of smoked beef, I feel the perfect steak needs to have some char on the outside.  So, I struck a compromise.  I seasoned, then smoked the steaks over some pecan.  Then, I finished them up at the end using my new favorite grilling technique, the "Jet Engine" sear.

First, I seasoned our rib steaks.  The one on the top is with Oakridge BBQ Black Ops brisket rub for me.  The one on the bottom is standard salt, pepper, and granulated garlic for Hope.  I let them sit on the counter, while seasoned, for an hour to come up to room temperature.


Then, I tossed them on my smoker, set for 250 F with pecan in the ash pan, for about 20 minutes to infuse some smoke flavor.


While the steaks were sitting in their smoky sauna, I fired up the "Jet Engine".  Just to remind you, the Jet Engine method of grilling is to place a grill rack on top of a chimney full of lit charcoal.  Think screaming hot broil from the bottom and not the top.


Once the fire was going, about 20 minutes later, it was time to pull the steaks off the smoker and get them seared.  See that nice dark red color on the steak?  I knew they had picked up some nice smoky flavor just by seeing that.


Then, onto the Jet Engine for some crispiness.


After the flip.


Final product, resting nicely.



Now, yes, they are a little overdone.  These rib steaks would fall into the medium well category.  There is just a very thin vein of pink left.  But, they were still tender and juicy with a perfect amount of char on the outside and smoke flavor on the inside.

This was the first time I have tried a reverse sear on our steaks.  I let them sit on the Jet Engine for about one and a half minutes a side.  A bit too long as you can see.  So, next time, I am going to cut that sear time back to 45 seconds a side and see how that works.

Overall, this method works well.  You get that smoky goodness that everyone loves with some steakhouse char.  Also, if you haven't tried your brisket rub on a steak, you should give it a try.  Very good.  We will be doing this again in the future for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spatchcocked Pheasant with a Seasoned Butter Injection

During another recent round of Ice Cave Inventory Reduction, Hope found a nice pheasant from a hunting trip that I was on a few years ago.  Usually, I just roast these tasty little birds.  But, I was considering either grilling or smoking this gem from the Ice Cave.  Also, it seems that spatchcocking your poultry, whether it be turkey or chicken, is in vogue this year.  I have spatchcocked chickens on the grill in the past.  So, I know it is a great way to cook a bird fast with high heat that crisps up the skin nicely without burning and keeps the meat inside tender and juicy.  After some thought, I decided to go the route of the smoker.

I was a bit short for time, so no brine for this bird.  Also, when I scanned our pantry, I did not have any of my go to rub for game.  So, on the fly, I tried something new.  Here is the method.

First, rinse your pheasant and dry.  Then, spatchcock the bird.  How do you do that?  Very simple.  But first, what is spatchcocking you ask?  Well, it is a method for butterflying poultry.  You flip your bird over and remove the backbone using a good pair of sharp poultry shears.  Once the backbone is removed, you turn the bird back over while spreading open the cavity.  Then, you press down until your hear the breastbone crack.  Wallah, a spatchcocked bird.


Washed and dried.


Flipped back side up.


Backbone removed.



Flipped back over and pressed until butterflied.

Now what?  Well, I opted for a butter and rub injection.  I melted once stick of butter with 1 Tbsp of Butchers Honey Rub, then mixed until uniform.


A stick of butter you cry! Why so much fat?  Keep in mind, pheasant is a very lean piece of poultry.  During the cooking process, the butter will render from the pheasant, leaving behind the rub for flavoring and keeping the meat moist.  Trust me, your bird will not be fatty tasting at all.

Next, I injected the butter mixture all though out the pheasant, concentrating on the breasts and legs.  Then, I took a brush and applied the remains of the bowl on the skin to ensure a nice crispy and flavorful skin.


While I was prepping this bird, my smoker was coming up to temperature, around 350 F.  After placing some pecan in the ash pan, I placed the pheasant on the top rack to roast for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, I had a bird that was 165 F in the breast and 170 in the thigh with a nice crispy skin.


After resting for 15 minutes, I carved the bird.  To do so, I removed the breasts and sliced/shredded each.  Then, I took off the wings and pulled the thighs and legs off as one whole piece.


Not a hint of butter on the inside.  The rub left behind a nice hint of honey and spice.  The meat was juicy and the skin perfect.  Have a few pheasant in your Ice Cave from this past season?  Give this recipe a try.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Smoked Marrow Bone Beef Broth

One night as I was cruising the Internet for ideas, I stumbled upon this recipe for Roast Beef Stock on the Bon Appétit website that sounded pretty good.  I thought I would give it a go with one modification, roasting the bones in my smoker to add a little smoke flavor to the future broth.  Here is the process laid out.

First, you need five pounds of beef or veal marrow bones from your butcher.  Dirt cheap usually.  We bought five pounds for about $7.50.  Remember to ask your butcher to cut them in half or quarters so that you have more marrow surface area exposed for that caramelized goodness.


I lit my smoker and brought to 450 F, placed some pecan in the ash pan for smoke flavor, then placed the pan on the top rack.  The recipe calls for 30 minutes of roasting time.  While waiting, I went inside and prepared my veggies.


Quartered sweet onion, celery, one head of garlic, and carrots (yes, they are hiding on the bottom) go into this stock.  After the bones had their first 30 minutes of roasting time, I went out and placed the veggies in the pan and allowed the whole mix to roast for 30 more minutes.

Bones at 30 minutes:


Everything after 60 minutes total:


I was a little worried that there was not enough crusty brown on the veggies or the bottom of the pan, but I pressed forward.  I transferred everything into my stock pot then added enough water to cover everything.  While I was bringing this mix to a boil, I added two cups of water to the pan and scraped what little caramelization there was off the bottom.  Once that was done, I transferred this liquid into the pan.  Once at a boil, I reduced the heat and let simmer on low for four hours.



After four hours:


Veggies removed and broth strained:


Warning, do not make this broth if you are hungry.  We were tortured during the four hours of simmering with a beefy, smoky flavor that had me craving some sort of beef.  We took a pint of this liquid and turned into gravy to try it out.  First, we placed onside leftover trip-tip and egg noodles.  The next day we ladled the gravy over some grilled stuffed flank steak, an impulse buy at the butcher.



Here is our total yield, minus a pint for the gravy: seven pints and two half gallons.  Once cool, I placed in the freezer for future use.


I was hoping for more of a deeper color, but I will correct that by roasting a bit longer on the smoker. The smokiness was detectable, but not overpowering.  This broth made a killer gravy that will find its way to our next roast beef.  I also have some plans for a few soups and perhaps even a brisket injection.  This is good stuff.  Click on the link above and give this a try.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wood Fired Sweet Sausage and Broccoli Pizza

We have a local pizza joint around here that has a specialty pizza made with broccoli rabe and sweet sausage.  The sauce is a white base: olive oil, garlic, thyme, oregano, and a hint a basil.  I love that pie.  Ever since I had my first piece, I have wanted to make one at home.

Unfortunately, I cannot find broccoli rabe, otherwise known as rapini, in my local grocery.  What is broccoli rabe you ask?  Think the love child of broccoli and spinach.  Looks kinda like spinach with a hint of broccoli, tastes kinda like broccoli with a hint of spinach.  It is a nice bitter Italian green that sauteés well.  A perfect balance to the fattiness of some browned sweet sausage.  Since I cannot find rabe in the store, I substituted regular broccoli.  Lets head to the kitchen.

First, I took enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small bowl and added 1/2 tsp each oregano and thyme, then 1/4 tsp of basil.  I also added one large minced garlic clove and a grinding of sea salt and pepper.  Since this pizza was for me and not Hope, I also added 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper for some heat.  I allowed this to sit while I moved on to my other preparations.


Next, I browned some sweet Italian sausage.  I did not cook the whole way through.  Probably about 80% cooked so that it would finish the rest of the way while the pizza was cooking.  When done, I placed in a paper towel lined bowl to soak up the fat.


Next, I took half of a head of broccoli and removed the florets.  Then, with a pairing knife, I broke the florets down into smaller pieces.  For some texture, I took some of the stalks, quarter them, then sliced thinly.  In a saute pan, I heated some olive oil and sautéed the broccoli until it was starting to get soft, but still retained its crispiness.


I also added a little more crushed red pepper for a little more kick.


When the broccoli was done, I mixed it with a half cup of the browned sausage and mixed thoroughly.


While I was firing up our new toy, the PizzaKettle, Hope offered to build my pie.  She brushed the dough with the olive oil mixture, then layered sliced fresh mozzarella, then added the broccoli and sausage mixture.


After four minutes in the PizzaKettle with a 180 rotation two minutes into the cook I had a perfect pizza pie.  You can also bake this pizza in your oven at 450 F for 20 minutes if you choose.


I liked how my first attempt at this pie turned out.  I am missing the bitterness of the broccoli rabe, but the broccoli itself was a nice substitute.  If I cannot find rabe in the future, I might substitute half of the broccoli for some spinach.  The next time you are looking for something different in a pizza, give this one a try.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill