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Saturday, March 21, 2015

3.1415 = Pi: Smoked Short Rib Pot Pie with an IPA Crust

As you may, or may not have heard, last Saturday was Pi Day.  Since this day only comes around once every 100 years, we decided to celebrate with some Short Rib Pot Pi.  Making this pie was an all day affair, but worth the effort and the wait.

First, we took some beautiful looking beef short ribs, coated them with some Oakridge Black Ops brisket rub, and slowly smoked them at 250 F with some pecan wood.

I took the ribs to an internal temperature of 165 F.  I didn't want the meat to be fall apart at this point.  The short ribs will get to that point while the pies are cooking.

Next, I made a batch of Milk Stout Onion Gravy for a base:

 3 tablespoons butter
 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
 1/2 cup Milk Stout
 1 (14.5 ounce) can beef stock
 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
 salt and ground black pepper to taste

Basically, you slowly caramelize your onions with the butter on low heat for 40 minutes.  Then, add your flour and cook for five more minutes, then add the rest of your ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes or until thick.

After the 40 minutes of caramelization:

After 30 minutes simmering:

While the gravy was simmering, I roasted three carrots, two diced potatoes, and two ribs of celery in the oven, with a little bit of olive oil.  Roast time was 60 minutes at 350 F with a stir after 30 minutes.

Hope was also getting into the act.  She whipped up a batch of pie dough using a recipe from over at the Eatapedia website.  Our substitutions were to use butter instead of lard and for liquid, we used iced Magic Hat #9 Not Quite IPA.

While Hope was rolling out the crusts, I cubed the short ribs and mixed along with the roasted veggies into the Milk Stout Onion Gravy.

I filled the pie crusts, then Hope applied the top layer of crust and crimped them shut with a small fork.  She has much more patience for pastry than I do.

Then, we baked the pies at 375 F for one hour in a conventional oven.  Here is the final product.

I gotta say, these were some of the best pot pies we have ever made.  Smoked beef and the rich milk stout  onion gravy paired well together.  The pie dough made with the IPA had an extra layer of flavor as well.  The only change I will make is to double the onion gravy recipe.  The filling needed a bit more liquid.  Other than that, these pot pies were a great way to celebrate Pi Day.

We will not be around for the next Pi Day, but we will be making these pies again for sure.

Thanks for stopping by,


Friday, March 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye to one of the Family

Last weekend was like any competition weekend for Bill "Hollywood 'N Swine" Allen.  Bill woke up, grabbed some coffee, checked his 270 Smokers for temperature and the progress of his big meat turn ins.  All was well and life was good.  He was amongst friends and doing what he loved, competition BBQ.

Around here, our day was like any other Saturday during the competition season.  Doing chores, practicing some BBQ for the upcoming season, checking scores on the KCBS website and Facebook as they rolled in, jealous that the season had started without us as it is still cold and snowy up North.  But, we follow everyone and cheer loudly when friends and fellow competitors that we know do well.   That is just the nature of competition BBQ.

Hope and I were so happy when we saw that Bill scored a 180 in chicken last Saturday.  There were big things to come perhaps with three more turn-ins to come.  We could not have been more wrong.

Hope and I only spent one weekend with Bill.  He was helping out Red Valley BBQ at Oinktoberfest last September and as luck would have it, they were camped out across the road from us.  Bill talked our ear off that weekend.  Stories and tips, each one better than the last.  We fed him coffee, he fed us stories.  Bill was one of those people who made you feel like you had been friends for years.  He made you feel comfortable.  He made you feel included.  I could not wait until we crossed paths again.

It was a kick in the gut to hear that Bill passed away that day after the awards ceremony.  The details are irrelevant.  What matters is that two families have lost a good man: his wife, children, and extended family, and us, what I refer to as, Our BBQ Family.

This is where I run out of things to say.  What more is there to say?  Bill was, is a good man and loved by many.  There is an empty space in many peoples lives today, the day that Bill is laid to rest.  But, Bill will not be forgotten, whether is is through blood or BBQ.

Before last weekend, there were two people that were part of my life that passed too soon.  I think about them almost every week.  Now there are three.  Most times when I think of them, I smile and laugh.  Very rarely do I shed a tear.  But, from now on, every time I fire up my smoker, Bill will come to mind for sure.  I will smile and laugh, and maybe if we score a 180 in chicken, shed a tear.

Rest in Peace Bill...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Smoked Corned Beef with an Orange Balsamic Glaze

Corned beef is a beautiful thing.  I love it in all of its forms.  Deli style, thinly sliced with mustard and Swiss on rye.  Boiled in a pot with cabbage on the side.  Transformed into pastrami.  Even the mystery meat in a can is pretty good.  From time to time I like to smoke a corned beef without the pastrami spices.  So, since it is that time of year when corned beef is semi reasonably priced, I picked up an extra package at the store this weekend and threw this treasure on the smoker.

Back when I was a kid, my mom would bake a corned beef in the oven from time to time (four hours at 250F).  She would make this glaze, that if memory serves me right, was ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar.  I had a glaze in mind, but I was looking for something a little different.  So, off to the kitchen we go.

First, I removed the corned beef flat from the package, then rinsed well with cold water.  Then, I placed the meat in a tub with a five pound bag of ice and some water and let it sit overnight to remove   as much pickling brine as possible.  In the morning, I drained the tub and soaked again in cold water for about two more hours.  Then, I thoroughly rinsed the flat with one last time with cold water, then patted dry.

Next, I lit my smoker and brought it to 250 F.  Once at temperature, I placed some pecan wood in the ash pan and placed the brisket on the top shelf of my smoker.

Then, I walked away until the internal temperature of the meat was 160 F, about four hours.  Here it was the corned beef looked like after four hours.

While the corned beef was getting happy in the smoker, I whipped up my glaze:

1/4 cup OJ
1/4 cup Heinz Balsamic Ketchup (don't laugh, it has a nice balsamic flavor)
1/4 cup of honey
1/8 cup of plain yellow mustard

I applied the glaze to the brisket twice.  Once to start, then a second time after 30 minutes.  After the second application, I let the brisket cook for 30 more minutes to set the glaze.

After letting the corned beef rest for 30 minutes, I sliced across the grain.

There you have it, something a little different than your usual St. Patrick's Day corned beef.  Good stuff.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, March 8, 2015

BBQ Pulled Pork Tomatillo Chili

Lately I have been trying to break away from the same old recipes.  I either try something completely different or put a new spin on an old dish.  Walking through the grocery store one evening, I passed the tomatillos.  Why not?  I decided it was time to try a tomatillo chili.

I didn't know where to start with this dish.  I was thinking pork would go well as the protein source and I happened to have some frozen pulled pork, with lots of bark, in the freezer.  For a base, I used turkey broth that I had made from the remains of the Thanksgiving turkey.  I decided to go light on the seasonings, relying on the rub from the pulled pork to season this chili.  To add some heat, I added some sliced fresh jalapeño peppers.

BBQ Pulled Pork Tomatillo Chili

2 lb tomatillos, paper skin removed and rinsed
1 lb smoked pork butt, cubed
12 cups low fat turkey or chicken broth
4 garlic cloves, roasted
1 cup sweet onion, diced
3 jalapeno peppers, sliced and seeds included
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for sautéing

First, I removed the skins from the tomatillos and rinsed well.  If you have never worked with a tomatillo, do not try and rinse that sticky feeling off of the skin.  It is part of the tomatillo and not added by your produce department.  I sprayed a cookie sheet with cooking spray and placed the tomatillos on the sheet for roasting.  I also roasted four cloves of garlic at the same time.  Just put the garlic in aluminum foil with some olive oil and wrap tight.  The cookie sheet went into an oven set for 350 F to roast for 60 minutes.



While the garlic and tomatillos were roasting, I diced my onion and sliced the jalapeño peppers, then sautéed slowly in about one tablespoon of olive oil.

Once the onions and peppers were starting to caramelize, I added my turkey broth and brought the mixture to a boil.  At about this time, the tomatillos and garlic were roasted.  So, I placed tomatillos and garlic cloves in a large mixing bowl and pureed with an immersion blender.  Don't have an immersion blender?  A standard table top blender will work as well.  Once pureed, I added the tomatillo/garlic puree to the simmering liquid, along with my cubed pulled pork.

Once all of the ingredients were in the pot, I allowed the mixture to simmer for about 90 minutes to allow the pork to break down a bit and to disperse the flavor of the rub throughout the chili.

This chili was good, but not great.  The BBQ flavor from the rub slightly overpowered this dish.  The flavor just did not mingle well with the tartness of the tomatillo.  I will try this dish again, but I will be trying another flavor profile.  Perhaps something more Southwestern, but definately not BBQ.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Using up your Leftover BBQ. The Rib Calzone

What is leftover BBQ?  Well, such things tend to be rare.  But, it does happen from time to time.  We had some leftover baby backs a few weekends ago, so, in her infinite wisdom, Hope wanted to make a rib calzone.  Who am I to stand in the way of BBQ experimentation?

First, she made a batch of homemade pizza dough...  Here is the recipe.  It is Jeff Smith's The Frugal Gourmet Cooks Italian Recipe...

Pizza Dough

3 1/4 cups AP flour
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Put it all in a bread machine, yeast on the bottom,  and let it sit through one raise cycle.  Then pull out of the bread maker and cover with a clean towel for 15 minutes.

When handling the dough, spray your hands with cooking spray.  You'll thank me later...

Ingredients for the filling...

Spread the sauce, then layer with rib meat, onion, and 4 cheese mexican blend from Kraft...

Fold over and put 2 cuts in the dough for expansion.  15-20 minutes at 425 until the crust is brown and crisp...

Good stuff.  A nice change of pace over the usual calzone and a great way to use up some left over BBQ.

Thanks for stopping by,