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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Product Review: Kiolbassa Smoked Beef Sausage

As I was walking through Costco a few weeks ago, I again fell victim to the end case display.  Lo and behold, the whole end case was pack full with these beauties...

Kiolbassa Smoked Beef Sausage, straight from San Antonio, Texas.  When it come to Texas BBQ, smoked beef links are right up there in my book.  Slow smoked then grilled, mild or spicy, beef links are part of any three meat platter that I purchase.  So, I just had to try these.

When I opened the pack, there was a nice garlic scent, followed by a fragrant undertone of oak, or perhaps pecan.  Either way, I liked what I was smelling.

These are a nice, large sized link.  Texas sized if you will.  Sausage buns only here.  A smaller bun just will not work.  I grilled them up, taking care not to singe them too much in the process.  I didn't want to shrivel up the casing to much, letting out all of the sausage juice goodness.  Here was the final product...

I placed my beef link on a sausage roll with some diced sweet onion and Heinz Jalapeno Ketchup, along with some of the outstanding Butter and Sugar corn from Ambrose Farm Market...

How were they?  The casing was a perfect crispiness.  The sausage had a nice garlic flavor and was seasoned perfectly.  The oak/pecan smoke added a nice touch to a great beef link.  Sadly though, if you are looking for spice, you will not find it here.  These are produced for the masses.  But, that does not mean I won't be buy these again.  But, I do prefer a little Texas spice in my beef links.

Overall grade: A-.  Points deducted for a lack of spicy bite.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Peach Bourbon Baked Beans with Bacon

I got this idea from Too Sauced to Pork.  At the public sampling in Hamburg, NY, they made a batch of this and mixed their left over pulled pork inside to serve.  So, I took my friend Mark in Minnesota's bean recipe and made some modifications.  Here is the recipe.  It makes one, half foil pan of beans:

Peach Bourbon Baked Beans with Bacon

1 60 ounce can Bushes Baked Beans, drained
1 Medium to Large Sweet Onion, Diced
1 pound Bacon, Smoked and Diced
1 Green Pepper, Diced and Sauteed
5 Peaches, Skin removed, Diced and Sauteed
1/4 cup of packed Brown Sugar for the peaches
⅓ Cup Bourbon, For Peaches
Favorite BBQ Sauce, To taste
Optional (Previously Smoked Brisket Burnt Ends, or other smoked meat)
Olive Oil, For Saute
Butter, For Peaches

Saute peppers and onions.  Smoke bacon on smoker until slightly crisp.  Saute peaches in butter.  Add bourbon to peaches to deglaze pan.  Mix everything in bowl.  Place in ½ foil pan.  Cook in smoker at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

Smoking the bacon.  This is a beautiful sight any day of the week.

Sauteing the peaches.  I halved 5 peaches, removed the pits, and used 1 Tbsp of butter.  Once the peaches were soft, I added to brown sugar and cooked until caramelized.  Then, I added 1/3 cup of bourbon and cooked down.  Here is what the peaches looked like at various stages of cooking.

The green pepper and onion was diced.  The jalapeno was diced and seeded.  Then, all three were sauteed in a bit of olive oil.  While this was going on, I drained my beans.

Once the beans were drained and the veggies were tender crisp, I crumbled the bacon, added 1 cup of Sweet Bay Rays Original BBQ sauce, mixed and poured into a half foil pan.  then 40 minutes on a 350 F smoker with peach smoking wood.

I took these to a work function and they were all gone.  Next time, I am going to try with fresh beans.  I will also cut back on the brown sugar in the peaches.  I think the sauteed peaches added enough sweet on their own.  Finally, I will add about 1/4 cup of yellow mustard.

You can add more jalapeno to suit your tastes.  I was cooking for a crowd, so I kept the spice to a minimum.  I have made this before with pulled pork and they are outstanding.  Give it a try!

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, July 26, 2013

Smoked Pork Chop Quiche

Quiche you say?  Fu Fu food?  Only if the ingredients are Fu Fu.  Besides, you eat those breakfast casseroles, don't you?  You know, the ones with sausage, cheese, and a ton of other ingredients.  All a quiche is would be a casserole in a pie crust.  So, on we go...

I had a left over smoked pork chop from the other night and some fresh tomatoes that were getting close to over ripe.  I stopped by the store and picked up some Jarlsberg cheese (swiss without the holes, but only better!) and a pie crust.  I stopped making homemade pie crust when my Mom declared the Pillsbury to be just a good as hers.  And you know what, she is right.

Since this was my first quiche, I needed a recipe for a base.  Here is the one I used from Southern  I followed this to the letter, but the egg/liquid ratio will be my base for future experiments.

So, I diced my pork chop, tomato, and onion.  Then, I shredded my cheese and made my egg mixture.  Then, I placed my crust in a standard size pie pan and started layering:

Then, into the oven at 375 F for about an hour.  I backed off on the temperature a bit so that I didn't burn the crust.

Let cool for 10 minutes then slice.  Served with a thin drizzle of sriracha sauce for some kick.

Outstanding.  the hickory from the smoked pork chop mixed with the Jarlsberg cheese perfectly.  I can't wait to try other combinations with fresh garden veggies as the summer progresses.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Home Cured and Smoked Pork Chops on the Grill

If you follow this blog on a regular basis and can remember back to January, I went on a home curing and smoking kick.  Ham, bacon, and pork chops.  The ham and pork chops were vacuum packed and frozen for later use.  Well, we grilled up some of the cured and smoked pork chops last week.  Here is how they turned out.

Thawed and ready to do.  I was really happy at how the color developed over the 7 months in the freezer.  The chops had a very nice hickory flavor right out of the package.

On a screaming hot grill.  About 5 minutes a side.  The smoke rolling out of the stack had an enticing, smokehouse hickory scent.  

Done and ready for devouring.  How were they?  The crispy fat was especially nice.  Pork fat is always good.  But this fat and the meat around the fat had a nice bacon flavor.  It was a nice surprise.  The rest of the meat had a subtle had a nice subtle hickory flavor mixed in with hammy overtones.  I will be making this again for sure.

One issue was that some of the chops were a tad too salty.  I will rectify that in the future by soaking in ice water longer, perhaps overnight, to ensure that all of the salt is removed before smoking.  Other than than, these chops were better than any store bought smoked pork chop I have ever prepared.  

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Other Side of the Table: Adventures in Judging

Well, Hope and I judged our first competition this weekend. We judged the Warren All-American BBQ Fest in Warren, PA. It was a 17 team comp, so it did qualify as an American Royal and Jack Draw qualifier. Diva Q was the main draw for the weekend.

We became CBJ because we wanted to see if we could learn a few tips and tricks. I must say, it was very informational. I had another competitor at my table judging as well, Brian from Rubber City Smokers. We were lucky enough to have some quality veteran judges at our table that were more than happy to give us insight into what judges look for. Sorry, no pics, other than the fair itself as KCBS has banned pictures being taken in the judging area during the judging process.

Some random thoughts from the weekend:

We have switched to chicken legs at a fellow competitors urging and have had good success. We saw nothing but thighs yesterday. Most good, some not so good. Brining is the way to go. A brined entry just stands out if done properly. The flavor profiles were pretty much the same. Although one was overpowered with cinnamon and another was scorching hot with pepper. The judges were raving about breast entries they have gotten in the past and asked me and Brian why we don't do that more often. We basically said that we don't have the stones to do that considering that they can dry out. Then, they suggested to cook side by side and put in the better of the two, or even both if they turn out nice. I really believe if you could get breast in a box and make it good, you would grab the brass ring.

Out of the ribs, only one stuck out at the table. Perfectly cooked, good bark, nice sweet profile. My guess it that it was Butchers Honey Rub. The vet judges do like sweet. Keep the tomato out of your sauce as well. We had rib with a pasty tomato like sauce that did not go well at all. Finally, when you cut, cut at the bone farthest from the rib you are looking for on both sides. The judges just seemed to like that.

As for pulled pork, the judges hate that category we found out as there are many different types they have to sample. Pulled, chopped, sliced. If one is not as good as the other, the bad will pull your scores down. The judges were saying that if you put one great sample of one type in the box, it is better than going 2 out of 3. For example, I was ready to hand out a 999 for this one pork entry. The money muscle and chunks were perfect. Great bark, taste and tenderness. Then I got to the pulled. It was overpowered with a citrus/vinegar sauce. Really sour. It pulled the taste score down for sure. Finally, don't over sauce. The veteran judges do not like tons of sauce on their pulled pork.

Brisket. What can I say here? The burnt ends I got were not sauced at all. Just rerubbed, dipped in Au Jus, and put back on the smoker. Most were good, but if your rub is salt heavy, go light. We had one that was a pure salt cube and the vets at the table were not happy with that. Fat is ok on a burnt end, but trim it off the flat. Also, this was the only category that I handed a 6 out in. I gave a 6 for tenderness. I got a piece of flat that I could have used to make a slingshot. If you are going to miss the tenderness on your brisket, miss it on the overdone side for sure. The veteran judges do not take kindly to rubber bands. If you have a rubbery one and don't have any time, cut it thin (but you knew that already)

Generally, try and add flavor throughout your meat. Do not just give smoked meat with sauce. With different samples in front of you, those entries did stand out. I would also say that over 50% of the pp entries did not inject their butts. I was leaning toward not injecting for our next comp and probably will not. The non-injected entries tasted more like pork.

Strangely enough, when we compared entries after judging, we pretty much agreed with our individual assessments. I was surprised at that.

I hope that this helps any team out there. I found it enlightening for sure. I would highly recommend becoming a judge if you have a team. It allows you to get some insight from veteran judges and allows you to see what the flavor trends are out on the circuit. We will try and judge at least one contest per year for sure.

Some pictures from the day:

My favorite barn:

There was a 4H horse competition for the kids:

Lunchtime, no que there though:

My favorite t-shirts:

Congrats to Flying Porkers for taking Grand Champion and Ribs n'At for taking Reserve Grand.  Ribs n'At get a special shout out.  Reserve Grand is great any day of the week.  But, on your first time out?  Outstanding!  Keep up the good work.  Here are the Full Results.

Finally, a big congrats to John Beard and Melissa Anderson for putting together a quality competition your first time out.  Hopefully you can work out some of the bugs and make this competition bigger and better next year.  Thanks for being gracious hosts.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, July 19, 2013

Fresh Greens with Smoked Pork

Finally, our local farm market is open!

Ambrose Farm Market has the best fresh veggies at great prices.  Their butter and sugar corn is the best by far.  No more store bought produce for a few months and we are looking forward to the treat.

Last year, I passed on fresh greens, thinking that I would get them the following week.  Big mistake.  I did not make that mistake this year.  So, I give you Fresh Greens with Smoked Pork.

The green of choice this week was fresh kale.  I rinsed, then trimmed to remove the leafy part from the tough stalks.  Then, I made a coarse chop and rinsed again.

I ended up with about 8-10 cups of chopped kale from this one bunch.  Just enough for the recipe I found.  Here is the recipe that I used: Southern Style Collard Greens -

I used a collard recipe because I was looking for that great flavor that I love in cooked collards.  I did make a few changes.  Remember those flaps from the spare ribs I trimmed?  Well, I seasoned them with granulated onion and garlic, salt and pepper, smoked until done, and froze just for this occasion.  I pulled them from the freezer and thawed for this pot of leafy goodness.  This was a substitute for the salt pork in the recipe.

Sauteed my sweet onion.  I substituted 2 Tbsp of olive oil instead of the lard or bacon fat.

Added fresh garlic, seasonings, my pork, and chicken broth and brought to a boil, then simmered for 1 hour.  I only used 1 cup of water.

Then, I added the kale, brought back to a simmer, and cooked for 30 minutes.

Then, I pulled the pork out and separated from the cartilage and dumped it back in the pot, along with 3 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar.

When I served, I put on a few splashes of hot sauce.

How was it?  Perfect.  Just like I remember how my southern friends made them.  Tart and spicy, with a great fresh green taste.  The smoked pork added a nice flavor component to the mix.  Hopefully, Ambrose will have some collards next week...

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Stuffed Italian Fryers

After our pepper entry at the Hamburg NEBS competition, we wanted to take some time to really enjoy eating the peppers.  So, this past weekend, we recreated the recipe with Italian frying peppers fresh from our local farm market.  Here is how to make them.

Take the peppers, cut off the tops, and clean out the seeds and pulp.

Marinade in your favorite bottled Italian dressing.  We like Ken's Zesty Italian.

Let sit in the marinade for at least two hours.  Place in the refrigerator and flip every 30 minutes or so.

When ready, pull the peppers out of the marinade and place on a cookie sheet.  Do not remove the excess marinade.

For the stuffing, place one slice of provolone cheese on top of one slice of prosciutto.  Top with a small sweet sausage log, then roll up.  Once rolled up, stuff into the pepper.

I placed on the top rack of a 300 F smoker.  After 15 minutes, I flipped the peppers over.  Then, I pulled after 30 minutes total cook time.

Serve with a salad of choice.  We made a fresh mozzarella and cherry tomato salad with basil and olive oil.

A nice, reasonably light summer dinner with fresh veggies from the local market.  It doesn't get better than that.  The peppers were great.  Sometime, I will make these with some spicy peppers for some extra zing.  But, I must admit, the Italian dressing adds a nice tang that makes up for the lack of spice.

Thanks for stopping by,