Saturday, October 12, 2013

Subliminal Message of Brisket and Mac n' Cheese

This afternoon I was scrounging through the kitchen wondering what I could make for dinner tonight that was worthy of a Saturday night, and as a follow up to the amazing burgers from the night before.

Then, like a message from above, Eric sent me a text that he was doing some brisket and Mandy's Smoked Mac and Cheese for dinner tonight. JACKPOT!  It just so happens that I had a few pounds of brisket flat from my last smoke that I had portioned out, and vacuum sealed for freezing.  It was also an extraordinary coincidence that Mandy had pre-made and froze a pan of her mac and cheese.  Dilemma solved, we too were having brisket with mac and cheese for dinner!!!

I removed the mac and cheese and brisket (roughly a pound) from the freezer and preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  Once the oven was to temp I slid the frozen mac and cheese into the oven for 70 minutes.

At the end of the 70 minutes I removed the foil from the top of the mac and cheese and added cheddar and fried onions to the top of the dish.  At the  same time I heated a pot of water on the stove top to reheat the brisket.  Since the meat is vacuum sealed in a food saver bag it is safe to stick it into boiling water.  I put the mac and cheese back into the oven and the sealed brisket into the water for 15 minutes.  This is enough time to melt and crisp up the top of the mac and cheese while reheating the brisket.

Once both were ready I set the mac and cheese aside and cut open the brisket.  I cut it into slices and plated it up with a serving of the mac and cheese.  Now, while not fresh off the smoker, the vacuum sealed packaging seals in all of the flavor, juices, and aroma of fresh off the smoker brisket.  As for the mac and cheese, simply amazing!

Best part of all is besides having to turn on the oven, add cheese/fried onions, and slice the brisket this is an extremely easy meal that will wow everyone at the dinner table.

Pair this plate of awesome with an IPA or a glass of Pinot Noir and you can not go wrong!!

Burger Night!

Last night we had our get together at Ron's house.  I have been building up these burgers for the last few days, so going in I was a little nervous if everyone would enjoy them.  They were an absolute success.  

Some even went back for a second round....yes, I was one of them....

Since I had to pre-form the patties I seasoned them as well with olive oil, salt, and pepper before I put them in a ziplock bag.  This made it easier to just fire up the grill and toss them on once it was heated up.   Since these were about 6 to 8oz each I seared them for 5 minutes on each side, and then let them cook on a medium heat for another 10 minutes.  This cooked the burgers to a good medium well. (These were some big burgers...)

Burgers aside, anytime you can spend time with friends and family, is a good night!  We all get wrapped up in the daily minutia of life and lose track of what is important, great food, conversation, and of course, good beer (or wine).  

This weekend I have a few ideas brewing for some smoked meats, I am also going to do a series next week on steaks showcasing different cuts and the best method for cooking each of them.  This should be a great week of steak!!  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Freshly Ground Beef

Last night I picked up 4lbs of Top Round Roast and 2lbs of Short Ribs for the burgers I was planning to make for Friday night.  When I got home I cut the meat into approximately 2x2 inch cubes and threw them in a bowl.  Once I had all of the meat cut up I gave it a good mix by hand to blend the two different cuts of meat together. 

When grinding meat it is always best to partially freeze the meat so that it will move through the grinder easier, but also so the meat will stay below 41 degrees since you will be working with it for a few minutes. Meat sitting at temps between 41 and 140 degrees is a breeding ground for bacterial growth.  So keep your raw meat cold, and your cooked meat hot!

Once the meat was partially frozen I filled up the hopper on the old STX 3000 Turboforce and started grinding.  I used the course grind plate and ran all of the meat through, and into a bowl.  I then mixed it up by hand again, and did a second grind to ensure even distribution of the meats and fat. 

Now comes the patty making stage! I laid out a cutting mat and made 6oz balls of ground meat.  When I got to the bottom of the bowl there was about 4oz left, but not enough for a full on hamburger, so it got sacraficed as a tester. 

I have to say it was pretty freakin' good! Even Mandy thought it was awesome.  It had a really good beefy flavor and the meat to fat ratio was enough to hold the combination together without being chewy or dry.  This is definitely a combination that I will be using again in the future.  Now, lets just hope the rest of the group has the same opinion. 

Because this combination of meats has some lean cuts in it, I slapped a little oil on both sides with some salt and pepper, and seared the outside.  Then turned down the heat and let it cook through slowly flipping occationally to prevent the burger from shrinking up and turning into a jerky puck. Perfection!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Planning for a Friday Barbecue

So Mandy and her siblings planned a small get together for this upcoming Friday, and she told me we were going to barbecue hot dogs.... Now I love hot dogs, maybe a little too much, but I told her, "Babe, that ain't gonna cut it." If we are bringing the meat then it needs be something worthy of the tradition of barbecuing.  Of course, I had to go well beyond just grabbing a hunk of meat and throwing it on a grill, yep, I rogered up to grinding homemade hamburgers for this little shindig.

So now I have to really step up and put together a combination of meats that will make the ultimate burger for a Friday night.  At this point I am really thinking I am going to go with a chuck roast and sirloin so I can get a good blend of meat, fat, and flavor to ensure a juicy burger.

My brisket and bacon burgers were fantastic, so I could also go that route since I know that combination is spot on.  Guess I will be making a trip to the meat counter today to find the perfect partners for my burger bonanza on Friday!

I would really like to pump out some sausages for the Q, but for a midweek, after work project, that might be a tad ambitious.  Good thing I didn't agree to that one, but I think Saturday may just become sausage day, and Sunday may be smokin' sausage day.  

Either way, smoke will be rolling out of the beast on Sunday and some tasty creation will emerge!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Ono with Garlic Aioli

Ono, more popularly known as Wahoo,  is a firm white fish with a mild flavor.  I have used Ono several times for fish tacos, but tonight I wanted to try something a little different.  Fish is intimidating to a lot of people, but it is extremely easy to work with as long as you don't overcook it.

I put one minced clove of garlic in a pan with olive oil and white wine.  I let the garlic brown and
the liquid reduce.  I then added the fish with a little salt to the pan.

While the fish was cooking I minced up another clove of garlic and mixed it with a tablespoon of oil and 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise.  I also cut up a couple slices of tomato for garnish.

Once the fish was cooked to about medium (firm fish will get dry if cooked to well done), I pulled it from the stove and topped it with the garlic aioli sauce and tomatoes.

This is a simple meal that took under 20 minutes, and was delicious!  Especially with a glass of Berenda Road Syrah.        

Monday, October 7, 2013

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Bourbon Shrimp

This is a dish with two of the best B's possible, Bourbon and Bacon!  Oh yeah, there is shrimp in there too, but we all know that it is just an accouterments for the other two.  For the marinade I started with 1/4 cup of Bulleit Bourbon, and 2 tablespoon of each of the following; Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, and olive oil.

I put the shrimp in the marinade for about 2 hrs in the fridge.  Once it was ready I pulled the tails off of all the shrimp, cause it makes it easier eat once cooked. I wrapped each of the shrimp in bacon and put them on skewers.   I am not a fan of wood skewers, but I couldn't seem to find my metal ones.  You should soak your wood skewers to prevent them from catching on fire, cause they will.  Especially when they are dripping in bourbon and bacon fat!

I preheated my grill to a medium heat and then added the skewers.  You may want to have a water bottle handy to quell any flare ups that will occur.  I flipped them every couple of minutes to ensure even cooking.

While I was cooking the shrimp, Mandy steamed asparagus and sauteed some mushrooms and onions in butter with garlic.  She also cooked up, and chopped up, some bacon. Once all of these pieces were ready she tossed them together in a bowl with some sage and thyme.

I pulled the shrimp off the grill after the bacon started to crispen up, and the shrimp were no longer translucent. I remove the shrimp from the skewers because I am not a fan of eating off a burnt wood stick....

The shrimp were awesome.  They retained the smokey flavor of the bourbon and it blended well with the saltiness of  the bacon.  The shrimp also went really well with the savory asparagus dish.    

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Bitchin' Burnt Ends Tacos

Of all the combinations in the world, I chopped up burnt ends and made tacos. Why not, these little babies are a delicacy on their own, so wrapping them in a corn tortilla with lettuce, tomato, black olives, and cheddar topped off with El Pato sauce is only logical.  

To get started I chopped up the burnt ends and put them in a preheated pan with a little olive oil and beer.  I seasoned, yes I added seasoning, the meat with garlic and taco powder to give it some more depth.  

While the meat was heating up and mixing with the seasoning I heated up the tortillas in a small pan of hot oil.  Dipping them on each side to soften them and heat them up.  I always let them drain on a paper towel so they are not overly oily.  

At this point you can put them together any way you like, but for us it is simple, I put the meat on the tortilla with the lettuce, tomato, olives, and hot sauce on the top.  If I use a really hot sauce I will put it in the middle so my lips don't instantly burn when the tasty taco hits them. 

These are now a work of art, and barely made it long enough for me to take a picture.  Amazing use of leftover smoked Brisket!! It also went great with my Sam Adams Boston Lager.