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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Biggest Sandwich I Have Ever Seen

Last month, I was in New Jersey for work, and my colleague and I heard people at the company we were visiting talking about this sandwich that fed six people for dinner and lunch.  We were skeptical, but the hook was set.  We were told that it was a place called Harold's New York Deli and that it was just around the corner.  So, for lunch, we decided to give Harold's a try as we are both suckers for a good pastrami sandwich.

When you walk in, here is the sign.

Ah, my first Man vs. Food establishment.  Perhaps the rumors were true.  Then, you walk through the door and see another clue as to what was in store for us.

Really, a cake that big?  Does it come with a side of insulin?  My colleague and I look at each other and start to think that our lunch may become a dinner.

We ordered the pastrami sandwich that the menu said "serves 1-3" and Chris ordered a root beer float as well.

A full liter of Stewart's root beer, a pint of house made vanilla ice cream, and a mountain of whipped cream.  While Chris started down the road to a sugar coma, I decided to check out the World's Largest Pickle bar.

This pickle bar had it all.  Barrel pickles, dill, sweet, half and full sour pickles.  They also had pickled tomatoes and three types of cole slaw.  I picked an assortment with some vinegar slaw and two slices of fresh, Jewish rye bread.  By the way, the Jewish rye was outstanding.  A crispy outside with a soft inside.  Why was it stacked at the end of the pickle bar?  Well, I got my answer when I sat down at our table.

When I sat back down, Chris was half way through his root beer float and was starting to twitch from the infusion of sugar.  Also, this monument to smoked beef was looking me right in the eye.

Serves one to three?  Try four people comfortably.  There was a good pound of pastrami on each side of that sandwich.  It even came with a side of fries!  Now I see why they had bread stacked up on the pickle bar.

The pastrami was good.  Tender, juicy, a slight kiss of smoke and just the right amount of fat and seasoning.  We finished it all and Chris even polished off his float as well.  We passed on a slice of cake that served "one to three".  My suggestion if you go to Harold's, skip breakfast and plan for a light dinner.  Overall rating, A.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I've Got a Bone to Pick with You...

As a matter of fact, I have a few dozen bones to pick with you.  Time for some rib practice for the upcoming season.

As you can see, we picked up some beautiful looking St. Louis spares from our butcher, Dave's Country Meats in Valencia, PA.  We trimmed them up nicely and started with seasoning.

First, we slathered some yellow mustard on the front and back, then rubbed both sides with 1 cup of Oakridge Secret Weapon Chicken and Pork rub and 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar.  Then, we allowed the racks to sit and come up to room temperature while we brought the smoker up to 225 F.

Ribs are our nemesis.  They kept us from at least a top ten at Oinktoberfest last September.  Most of the time, it is a combination of taste and tenderness.  One, they are not sweet enough.  Two, we have tenderness problems.  So, for this cook, I wanted to see how long it would take to get the ribs cooked without foiling.  I decided on a six hour cook time.  So, when the smoker was up to temperature, I put a mix of pecan, apple, and hickory in the ash pan, placed the ribs on the top rack of the smoker, and walked away.  After two hours, I added more wood.  After three hours, I rotated the ribs in the smoker.  Then, after five hours, I started my glazing:

1 cup of Blues Hog Regular
1/2 cup of honey
4 Tbsp of Blues Hog Tennessee Red

After the first application of sauce sat for 30 minutes in the smoker, I added a second coat and let the ribs go for 30 more minutes.  Then, I pulled them and let them rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Chilebrown, does the knife look familiar?  Great call.  I love it.  But, I digress...

Here they were after slicing.

Nice, bite on the meat.

The flavor was there, but I do need to add a bit more sweet.  As for the tenderness, the ribs were good, but had just a bit too much tug.  Next time, I am going to cook for seven hours and see how they turn out.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Steak on a Stick

We have been making a push lately to work off the excess inventory in our chest freezer.  Chest freezers are great for allowing you to pick up meat in large quantities when on sale.  Just vacuum pack your bounty and they keep your treasure almost like new.  The bad thing is you tend to forget what inventory is inside and items tend to get lost.  Last weekend while rummaging through the meat cave, I found our last half rack of beef ribs.  So, that was dinner.

First, I took the rack, peeled the membrane off of the back, then washed and dried.

Usually I add some sort of BBQ rub that is made with beef in mind. This time though, I had the steak on the stick theme in my head.  So, I seasoned them just like I would a steak going on the grill.  Sea salt and cracked pepper, as well as some onion powder and granulated garlic.

I brought my smoker to 250 F and added pecan wood to the ash pan.  The ribs went on the top rack of the smoker.

Here they are after about two hours.  Notice the heavenly light that is bathing this meat treat?

My target for beef ribs is about four hours of cook time.  This is usually a temperature of about 180-190 F internal.  I go out and check my ribs after three and a half hours and start probing with my thermometer.  When it slides in like butter, you know you are done.  This rack took about three hours and 45 minutes and had an internal temperature of 187 F.  I brought them inside and let them rest for 15 minutes before slicing.

Served with a baked potato and a side salad.  These ribs lived up to my expectations of Steak on a Stick.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Corn Cakes with Pulled Pork and Honey Mustard Slaw

So, what did I do with all of this pulled pork?

We made some homemade corn cakes and piled the pulled pork and slaw on top.  Here is what we did.

First, I made a batch of corn bread batter.  My recipe is a combination of various recipes that I have found on the internet.  I have always kept in mind that my Mom always put more corn meal in the batter than flour.  We just like that taste and texture that the extra meal adds to the final product.  Also, no sugar for me.  I prefer my corn bread savory.

Buttermilk Corn Cakes

1-½ cups Cornmeal
½ cup Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1-½ tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
1 Egg, beaten
1-3/4 cups Buttermilk
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

In order to get a thinner consistency for a corn cake, I added extra buttermilk, about 1/2 cup more.

Then, I heated up my griddle pan that was lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Then, I added batter in 1/4 cup scoops, flipping when they started to look firm.  Bottom line, I cooked them like a pancake.

Of course, I had to try one for quality purposes.  They were outstanding.  Slightly crisp on the outside, moist and fluffy on the inside.  These just might be our new pancake recipe.  We like them that much!

While I was making the corn cakes, Hope heated up some pulled pork in a sauce pan with some Sweet Baby Rays Original BBQ sauce.

Then we topped our cakes with a healthy dollop of pulled pork and slaw.

This was an outstanding dinner.  Something different than the usual pulled pork sandwich.  We will be making this again.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, March 15, 2014

Honey Mustard Slaw: Perfect Side for your BBQ

Every time I have to go to Louisiana for work, I always try to go to Mike Anderson's Seafood for lunch or dinner.  Their Cajun classics are spot on and the prices do not drain your wallet.  I highly recommend the Jason, a Thursday lunch special.  But, I digress.  As a side, they serve this outstanding honey mustard based slaw.  Tangy and sweet at the same time, it is the perfect counter to any Cajun recipe that starts with the usual "Two Sticks of Butter."  I thought this slaw would be the perfect side for BBQ, especially pulled pork.  So, off to the Three Dogs R&D lab.

During my last experience at Mike Anderson's, I thoroughly picked my slaw apart for any secret I could discern.  Here is the basic recipe.

Mike Anderson's Honey Mustard Slaw, Recreated by Three Dogs BBQ

3 parts green cabbage, roughly diced
1 part red cabbage, roughly diced
1/4 of a small red onion, fine dice
1/4 of a green bell pepper, fine dice
1/8 tsp celery seed (the secret ingredient in my opinion)
Honey Mustard Dressing, I use Ken's Honey Mustard salad dressing

Step by Step Directions:

Dump in a bowl with the 1/8 tsp of celery seed and your dressing.  I use enough to make the slaw moist, but not runny.  For this batch, about 1/3 cup.

Mix well.

Stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Getting Caught Red Handed and Smoking a Butt, Low and Slow

We love our dogs.  Generally, they are not allowed on the furniture.  But, you know how it goes.  There is that unspoken agreement.  We are going to sleep on the couch at night.  When the alarm goes off, we will get down.  Kinda of like "Don't ask, Don't tell" with your dogs.  Well, I woke up a few weekends ago for an all day smoke for some pork butt practice.  I did so without the alarm to wake me up.  Look who I caught red handed...

Now, on to our experimental pork butt.

Last year, after we had received comments that our pork butt tasted too much like injection, we entered a pork butt without any injection at all.  Then, we scored a 3rd place.  Our brisket scores improved when we stopped using the packet of au jus mix in our injection, netting us a 5th place.  So, we are experimenting with a pork stock injection.  Here is how we make our pork stock.

2 lbs of country style ribs
1/2 sweet onion
2 carrots
2 ribs of celery
1 tbsp of dried parsley
2 cloves of garlic
1 gallon of water

Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 hours.  Chill, strain off fat, and freeze until ready for use.  I froze in two cup packages for my anticipated injection recipe.  For our injection, we formulated the following:

2 cups of pork stock
1 bottle of Stubbs Pork Marinade, strained to remove the solids
1 cup apple juice
1 Tbsp sea salt
3 Tbsp of butter

Bring to a boil and chill so that it is safe to inject into your pork butt.

We picked up our butt at the butcher.  It was a beauty at 8.25 pounds.  We always use bone-in.

After injection, we applied a fresh coat of plain yellow mustard.  This adds some tangy flavor and helps the rub to stick to the meat.

Then, we mixed 1/2 cup of turbinado sugar with 1 cup of Oakridge Secret Weapon Pork and Chicken Rub and applied evenly to all surfaces of the butt.

We wrapped the panic foil and placed in the refrigerator for some overnight happy time.

In the morning, I woke up and caught the dogs red handed.  Then I went outside, started the smoker and brought to 225 F.  We wanted to try low and slow for this cook since it worked so well for our last brisket.  While the smoker was coming to temperature, I took the butt out of the frig, applied a fresh coat of rub, and inserted the temperature probe in the meatiest part of the pork butt.

Once the smoker was at temperature, I placed some hickory, pecan, and apple splits in the ash pan.  Once the smoker was rolling with that thin blue smoke, I placed the butt on the top rack.  Here are our cooking notes:

8:00 am, placed butt on top rack of smoker.
10:00 am: reloaded ash pan with wood.
12 noon: 140 F
2:00 pm: 159 F
4:00 pm: 164 F, pushing through the dreaded stall (All meat when cooked at low heat experiences a stall in temperature rise.  This is usually where all of the protein is breaking down, producing that tender meat you associate with pulled pork)
5:39 pm: 175 F.  Placed butt in foil pan and covered tightly with foil.  Here is a picture before foiling.

Look at that beautiful bark!

7:24 pm: 190 F.  Probed with Thermapen.  Meat is like warm butter.  Pulled and placed in a cooler to rest for two hours.

9:30 pm: Removed from cooler, pulled and sliced.

How was the final product?  The bark was outstanding.  Sweet with a bit of heat.  The meat was a bit over done.  Just slightly mushy.  The longer cook time with the lower heat seems to break down the meat more than a shorter cook at a higher temperature.

Next time, I will try Stubbs Chicken Marinade in our injection as it has a mellower flavor and we will check the meat and possibly pull from the smoker at 185 F.  Overall though, we were happy with the result.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Brisket isn't just for Dinner anymore: Homemade Brisket Hash

I love corned beef or roast beef hash, perfectly cooked with a little bit of crispiness.  When paired with a fried egg, there are not many breakfast combinations that are better.  So, with the absolute last few pieces of our Super Bowl brisket, I made some hash for breakfast.

First, I cut the following:

1/2 of a sweet onion with a rough dice.
1/2 of green pepper with a rough dice.
2 small potatoes, run through a mandolin for a fine julianne cut.  I soak in salted water to remove moisture from the potato.
1 cup of brisket with a rough dice.

Next, I heated some olive oil in a pan then sautéed my onion and pepper with a grinding of sea salt and pepper.  Sauté until the onion is translucent.

Then I drained my potato and added to sauté.

Once the potato was cooked and had a nice crispy crust, I added my diced brisket and cooked until warmed through.

I topped my hash with a fried egg and served with toasted English muffin bread and a dollop of jalapeño ketchup.

This hash was outstanding.  Much better than the stuff you get in a can.  Smoky, crispy, and perfect with a dippy egg.  Give this a try with some of your left over brisket in the future.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Shepherds Pie, Brisket Style

After our Super Bowl party and few days of picking through leftovers, we still had some leftover brisket.  What to do with this leftover meat?  Freeze?  Perhaps.  But why dull something that is so good.

With some inspiration from a fellow smoker friend, I decided to try my hand at some shepherds pie made with the reserved au jus from my brisket smoke, the rest of our left over brisket, and some leftover mashed potato casserole.

First, I took the reserved au jus, skimmed the fat off of the top, and placed the liquid in a medium sauce pan.  This amounted to two cups.  I then heated and brought the au jus to a gentle boil.  The infused smoke aroma was intoxicating to say the least.  

While the above was heating, I took two cups of beef stock and added a half cup of flour and whisked until the lumps were incorporated and the resulting mixture was smooth.

I then added the flour/stock mixture to the boiling au jus and whisked to incorporate.  Then, I lowered the heat to low and simmered to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Once thickened, I added about three cups of cubed brisket, fat removed, and one package of frozen mixed vegetables.

Then I stirred to make uniform.

I poured the above mixture into a 9x13 pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  Then, I took the leftover mashed potato casserole and added some milk to make it some what spreadable.  You could also use freshly prepared mashed potatoes.

I then slid the dish into an oven pre-heated to 350 F and baked for 45 minutes, or until brown on top and bubbly inside.

How was this shepherds pie?

Rich, thick, decedent, and smoky.  The brisket meat was tender and falling apart.  The potatoes could have been a little more crusty on top, but using fresh mashed potatoes will solve that problem.  Maybe even a few minutes under the broiler would work as well.  This was perfect on a cold evening.  We will be making this with leftover brisket again.

Thanks for stopping by,