My Blog


Grilled Sausage Trio

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Had a family gathering this last weekend and I was lucky enough to get a few pounds of freshly made sausage from my good friend and sausage maker,  Jeremy Smyers. He has been making sausage for several years and makes some of the best sausage I have ever tasted. He also makes some excellent bacon.

   This particular day I grilled up some Italian Sausage - perfectly seasoned and made with, among other things,  Fresh Pork and Organic Bell Peppers (red, yellow and green) Thyme, Oregano, Fennel Seeds and Red Wine . Also a Jalapeño Sausage which contained the perfect amount of heat and last but certainly not least a good traditional Smoked Sausage.

   Since the Italian sausage was uncooked, I simply grilled it whole until it was done, then sliced it with the jalapeño and smoked sausage and grilled them to release all those tremendous mouthwatering flavors.

   If you are ever in the Dallas (Texas) area do yourself a huge favor and pick up some Smyers Quality Sausage from Jeremy, you WILL NOT be disappointed.

And no I am not being compensated for this endorsement....it is simply just that good. Contact him directly at:  jd.smyers@gmail.com




Char Broil Tru Infrared Gas Grill

                        

                                     


                                    

My old gas grill finally needed to be replaced. The old one was a Char Broil Commercial Tru Infrared Grill and it served me very well. The old one was stored outside (covered) and endured 2 years of reliable heavy use. So the decision to stick with the same type grill was a no brainer.

   I have become a true believer in the Char Broil Tru Infrared Grill and am very happy to see that Char Broil has worked hard to improve upon their infrared grilling system. They have done away with the old temperature gauges which were a complete joke and replaced them with a single gauge on the lid. I double checked the temperature and found the gauge to be surprisingly accurate.



The grill is very similar to most gas grills. You have a burner which is located below a stainless steel “L” shaped burner “Tent” which protects the burner from dripping juices and helps disperse the heat. The grating system is where the real difference lies and where the greatest improvement is.  First are 3 rippled plates called the “Emitters” containing rows of small holes. Above these are 3 Cast Iron cooking grates which perfectly align with the holes (see image above).

  In the old system the emitters were flat trays filled with small holes and the grates were thin metal “wavy” grids which allowed juices to clog up the trays and caused uneven heating if they were not cleaned after each use. In the new system, the only holes are located directly under the cast iron grates thus eliminating clogging.

   The warranty is also improved. Lifetime on the Burners and 3 years on the Lid, Emitters and Grates.

     The one truely great feature is that these grates virtually eliminate flair-ups, since juices drop into the valleys of the “Emitters” and boil away. Because of this however your grill tends to smoke more then your average gas grill.                                              

Pizza Payment

                        

                                     

What a great weekend. Several months ago we had a new 8’ cedar fence installed in our back yard and our beautiful daughter and her boyfriend told us that they would be happy to stain it for us when we were ready. All we would need to do was buy the stain. Of course we jumped at the offer since aside from being an Elementary School Teacher she also has her own landscaping business on the side and has stained many a fence (well...and it would save me a whole lot of money)


 


Well after weeks of delays due to rains (which we desperately needed) they took on the monumental task today. After 9 grueling hours they were finished...and we were very.....very pleased.

   Seeing how hard they were working I offered up anything they wanted for dinner. Would you believe all they wanted was some of my homemade grilled pizza. You don’t have to ask me twice to fire up the grill.


   The first was a basic pepperoni pizza with fresh Mozzarella and Asiago cheeses, Garlic, Pepperoni, some Italian seasonings and fresh Basil.

   The second was pretty much the same except I also added some Ham and Red Bell Pepper.

  Most of the time I use a pizza stone on the grill which is preheated for about 15 minutes. My particular grill has 4 burners which run top to bottom instead of left to right. I like this configuration better since I can preheat my stone on high heat, then shut down or drastically lower the two middle burners a few minutes prior to putting the pizza on it. This will give you a nice crisp crust without burning.                                                                    

Pecan Smoked Chicken

                        

                                     

After a couple months of cold wet weather, I couldn’t wait to fire up the smokers again. While I was at the store, I found these two chickens on sale. Nothing like having some smoked chicken on hand for all sorts of dishes from Stir-Fry to Tetrazzini.


After a rinse and a little trimming, they were dried and sprayed with a little (canola oil) cooking spray. Each was then liberally coated with a different commercial chicken rub. I trussed them with some special silicone bands (similar to rubber bands). It was much easier and faster then using string.


Then onto the smoker with some pecan chunks at a temperature of 250 F. for about 2 1/2 hours.

Once I got an internal temp of 165 F they were ready to come off. After they were allowed to cool some, the meat was stripped and I now have the basis for several different meals.

Note:

Normally I would use what was leftover after stripping the meat and make a nice chicken stock, however because of the seasonings that I used I find the stock turns out much darker and more pungent then what I prefer.

“Grilled” Mac & Cheese

                        

                                     

   I have been trying out several new sides lately and came up on this winner.  “Grilled Mac & Cheese” is not your kids Kraft Mac & Cheese. This one is amped up to be a REAL comfort food for adults (and kids with a discriminating pallet). Don’t let the name scare you off. Although it can be made in the house and in the oven...it is much more fun to make it outside on the grill.

   It has several different cheeses including Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Asiago. The grilled Bell Pepper and Jalapeño also  helps set it apart from all the rest. If I don’t have fresh Jalapeño on hand I use nacho sliced pickled Jalapeños found in almost any grocery store. Start off with a few and finely dice them. Even people not fond of peppers will enjoy it.

  I usually use Italian seasoned bread crumbs off the shelf. However in a pinch, simply dry out a couple pieces of bread and pulverize them in your blender, food processor or even by hand in a plastic bag...and add some dry seasoning such as Basil, Oregano, Thyme etc.

                                   

Steak and Potato

                        

           A rainy day didn’t keep me away from the grill. Found a couple of beautiful ribeyes on sale and I had not had a good basic “Meat and Potato” meal in a while. Nothing fancy, just the ribeyes, baked potato and green beans. The ribeyes were hit with salt, pepper and a little Montreal Steak Seasoning and the green beans were sautéed with a tablespoon of bacon grease and a generous sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning mix. I was in Heaven.

                                   

Pork Ribs & Bean Salad

                        

        Every day that I am alive and kicking is worth celebrating. The 4th of July is an especially important day to celebrate. Nothing like some slow Smoked Pork Ribs and a cold summer Mexican Bean Salad.

The Ribs were pork spare ribs cut St. Louis style. The ribs and the pieces cut off were all smoked at 270F for about 2.5 hours, then wrapped with a little brown sugar and apple juice and put back on the heat for another 2 hours.

   The Mexican Bean Salad  was made the day before and allowed to chill in the refrigerator overnight.


Deep Fried Turkey On a Waring Pro Rotisserie Turkey Fryer

                        

                                     

WhoooHooo....it’s that time of year again. Just got my brand new turkey fryer. Decided to do a test cook with it and make sure it lives up to all the hype...before I rely on it for those all important dinners coming up.

    This particular model is the Waring Pro TF200 Rotisserie Turkey Fryer and Steamer. (Besides being a Turkey Fryer, it can also be used as a steamer, so you can also have your very own Clam Bake in your backyard this summer).


Prepping the Bird

I started out with a 14.75 Lb. turkey, completely thawed and all “innards” (neck, giblets etc) removed. In the morning I gave it a good rinsing and pat dry. Then seasoned with some Lemon Pepper seasoning I had laying around. I then put the bird back into the refrigerator (uncovered) for several hours to dry naturally. This helps dry out the skin some, giving it crispier skin later on.

    About an hour before the cook, I took the bird out and allowed it to rest at room temperature. At this time I trussed it up nice and tight with kitchen string, tying the legs together and then the wings. I made sure the wing tips were snug against the body. This is a VERY  important step. The bird is then mounted on the rotisserie. I thought mounting it on the rotisserie would be difficult for one person, however it only took me about 30 seconds. The rotisserie is then mounted on the cooking basket and spun to make sure it clears the basket on all sides. This is where a good trussing is very important. You then allow the bird to rest at room temperature while you prep the fryer.


Prepping the Fryer  

While the bird is resting I filled the fryer with oil. You can use several different types of oil, although Peanut oil is preferred by most people** (see Tips below for information on choosing the right oil).

    What makes this fryer unique is that the bird sits on a Rotisserie and is cooked in the horizontal position as opposed to most fryers where the bird is lowered into the hot oil. Since the food is constantly rotating, you only need about 2.5 gallons of oil to cook it. Because of this you don’t run the risk of boiling oil overflowing the cooker as your lowering the bird in ( a tremendous safety advantage).

    Once the oil has heated to 375F, the basket with the bird is slowly lowered into the oil. The handles of the basket are spring loaded which prevent you from accidentally dropping the bird into the oil. Once down all the way, the gear on the rotisserie engages the motor gear. You simply flip the switch on the panel and away she goes...spinning slowly through the hot oil, cooking it on all sides.


All Done...


It’s that easy. No mess, no overflow, no fire danger. This 14.75 Lb bird took just shy of 60 minutes to cook. And cook it did. It came out crisp and juicy. I pulled her up, let her rest above the oil for a minute or so to allow excess oil to drip back into the cooker. Took the whole thing inside, removed the rotisserie and allowed it to cool for about 30 minutes. It was absolutely delicious. I immediately devoured the wings...hey, cooks treat.



Tips

    When choosing the right oil for frying you need to find one with a high smoke point, such as Peanut, Canola, Corn, Sunflower etc. As a rule, vegetable-based oils have higher smoke points than animal-based fats like butter or lard. Although many people use Peanut oil I have found that Canola oil, while less expensive, will do just as well. 

    Depending on what you are frying, the oil will be good for several cooks. The life of your oil is dependent on WHAT you are frying and how HOT you are frying it. Here is a good article on how cooking oils work and how to prolong the life of the oil (very good read).

    As I have said time and again...If you have never tried “Fried Turkey”, its time to get on the wagon and give it a shot. You will NOT be disappointed. I have found that I usually get more “usable” meat off of a fried bird then one that has roasted in its own juices for hours. You don’t get that “mushy” meat that you come across on the bottom of the bird. 

     Now this doesn’t mean to give up your traditional method of cooking turkey, whether it be in a roaster, roasting bag or smoking. It just allows you to have another “tool in the arsenal”. Try it once and I think you’ll be convinced.

Quick Kabobs

                        

                                     

   We were in the mood for some meat and plenty of vegetables, so I decided to take what we had on hand and made some Kabobs (minus the skewers).

   Used a package of strip steaks that I had gotten on sale along with a couple of small chicken breasts. Cut them into bite sized pieces and marinated them with some Italian dressing.

   Then cut up two potatoes, a zucchini, a yellow squash, a green bell pepper and an onion. I precooked the potatoes in the microwave until they were a little over halfway cooked. I then let them cool a little and placed them with the rest of the vegetables in a ziploc bag with some Italian dressing.

    I threw everything on the grill and enjoyed the aroma. Toward the end of the cook, I splashed some Finishing Sauce on all of it. The sauce helps accentuate the natural flavors of the food without adding an overpowering flavor.

   If you want, you can add a seasoning mix to the vegetables. In this case I sprinkled some “Old Bay” seasoning over the vegetables just before the end of the cook.

TIPS

   Cook over medium high heat. The oil in the Italian dressing should keep the food from sticking. However, if you find that the food begins to stick you can lower the heat a little or sprinkle the food with a little bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

                                              

Smoked Meatloaf

                        

                                     

Smoked Meatloaf...or “Fatty” as it is otherwise known, is a great way to change up the usual “meat and potatoes” dinner. Not only does it taste great but it really looks good to.

    Simply make up your meatloaf as usual;  I used what I had around the house for this one...1Lb of  85/15 ground beef and 1Lb. of hot breakfast sausage.

    Seasoned it up with some diced Onion, Basil, Thyme, Old Bay seasoning, Salt and Pepper.  If I had some Bell Pepper in the house I would have diced some of that up for it also... but I didn’t.

    Let the meat sit for a little bit while you lay out a piece of plastic wrap. Take a package of bacon (I used a 12oz package) and lay the pieces in a basket weave design on the plastic wrap. This may take a little practice but it is actually quite simple once you get the pattern going.

   Lay your meatloaf in the center of the bacon and form to within 1” of the end.

Grab the plastic wrap closest to you and fold the bacon over the meat, pulling the wrap away at the same time. Once the bacon is completely around the meatloaf, gently pat it in place and form the ends.

    Place the loaf on a wire rack in a pan with the seam side down and place it on your smoker. Smoke uncovered at about 225F - 250F for about 2 hours or until you achieve an internal temperature of  at least 170F. Cover with foil and allow to sit for a few minutes before slicing.