Saturday, November 30, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie

I almost enjoy the Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual feast itself.  All of the combinations of meat, veggies, sauces, and potatoes that can be made in the days following that have their own flavor profiles.  Absolutely amazing!

Today we chowed down on a plate of leftovers for lunch and then moved onto our leftover concoction of the day, turkey pot pie!  If you are a lover of pot pies as much as I am, you know there is nothing quite like the flakiness of the crust and the combination of veggies, meat, and creamy sauce that make up a pot pie.

Since we had plenty of leftover turkey, I shredded up a couple of cups of turkey and added it to a bowl of carrots, green beans, peas, and corn, with a can of cream of chicken soup.  This is our normal combination for a chicken pot pie, we just used turkey instead.

For the crust Mandy mixed up a homemade pie crust.  We like to do a top and bottom crust for our pies. I know a lot of recipes call for only a top crust, but we really love this combination of crust an filling.

We cooked the pie in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes until the top crust was a golden brown.  This will vary based on the oven you are using, ours is crap, so everything cooks unevenly and takes longer.

This is one leftover creation that we will be enjoying as a leftover for tomorrow!    

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The last two days have been a whirl wind of excitement as we prepared for our Thanksgiving gala.  We started yesterday morning by prepping dishes so they could be easily finished in the oven today avoiding a lot of the Thanksgiving day rush to get dishes together and on the table before everyone starves to death.

This was a lifesaver for us since most of our group had other events to attend tonight, so we had to have everything on the table by 1130 to eat, relax, and get them back on the road to San Diego for their other gatherings.  

 I could go through how I prepared my turkey and the 10 side dishes but in reality, turkey is turkey, and unless I was going to smoke it (next time) the process is pretty standard across the board.  Soaked in a brine of salt water and beer then thrown in the oven at 350 for 3 1/2 hours, basting every hour, butter rubbed between the skin and meat. Two sprigs of rosemary, and two sprigs of thyme stuffed into the cavity.  

More importantly I grilled a ribeye roast to go with this feast.  This amazing hunk of meat is essentially five pounds of ribeye on the bone prior to it being cut down into steaks.  Most people are familiar with the "Prime" version of this roast also known as prime rib.  To prep this masterful cut of meat I rubbed it in olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika and let it set in the fridge overnight.  

Today about 2 hours prior to serving lunch I seared the roast on all sides for 2 minutes on each side.  I then reduced the temperature to 300 for about an hour and 45 minutes.  I was going for an internal temp of 125 in the center, before I pulled it and wrapped it in foil to rest for 20 minutes.  

Once everything was ready we christened our new dining room by eating family style at the table.  This is what it is all about, the food, all of the work that goes into putting it together, it pales in comparison to the satisfaction we felt watching our family enjoy this feast and the conversation that took place without a TV, or other distraction.  

Needless to say, shortly after eating, most of us were falling asleep on the couch. My mother in law was rooting through our backyard jungle gathering up pieces of plants that she wanted for her patio. Then about mid digestion we decided it was a good idea to eat some desert (pecan pie and pumpkin pie).  It was an awesome end to an amazing afternoon.  

Mandy and I are enjoying the rest of the day sipping wine/beer, and watching movies.  Both of us are dreaming of the leftover concoctions that will unfold over the next couple of days.  So Happy Thanksgiving, and hopefully your turkey day was an amazing as ours.     

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Phenomenal Flat Iron

Tonight's steak is one that is quickly becoming one of my favorite cuts of meat, and if I hadn't cut it myself, I may never have tried it.  Finding a Flat Iron steak in a grocery store is about as likely as finding a Ferrari in a cracker jack box.  There are a couple of specialty "whole foods" stores that sell a cryovac'ed flat iron on occasion, but nothing that looks good enough to buy.

This is the second time I have prepared this cut, this time I pan seared the steaks for 2 minutes on each side, and finished them in the oven at 425 for 4 minutes.  Letting them rest for 5 minutes under foil before cutting them.

Now, while the steak is the main attraction, the duck fat fries that accompanied it were challenging the steaks for the title of freakin' amazing! As if those two masterful dishes weren't enough, I threw in some brussel sprouts cooked with bacon and Stone Pale Ale Mustard.  Fantastic doesn't even give this tasty side the credit it deserves, but trust me it was!

To cook the fries I cut 2 baking potatoes into fries and mixed in two tablespoons of duck fat by hand to ensure the fries were completely coated before giving them a light salt and pepper.  I put them in the oven for 25 minutes at 425 flipping them every 20 minutes until they were crispy.

Now for the brussel sprouts, I cut them in half and mixed them with chopped up bacon and some Stone Pale Ale Mustard until it was all coated in the yummy mixture.  I placed them in a medium hot pan for 20 minutes adding about a 1/4 cup of beer to the pan and covering it.

Once everything was cooked to perfection I plated the 3 main attractions for imminent devourment.
Paired with an Anchor Steam Beer this was an awesome dinner.    

Monday, November 25, 2013

Smoked Beef Chub Rolls

This weekend during my short afternoon smoke I decided to do a couple of beef chub rolls for lunch treats throughout the week.  This time I did a bacon cheese burger roll, and an Atomic Buffalo Turd roll.

I kind of like to think of these as smoked beef sushi rolls where beef is the sticky rice, and the amazing filling is only limited by the imagination....

These chubs are easy to make and are just like building a pizza, so if you are looking for a fun way to get the kids into the kitchen on your next smoke day, this could be their ticket into the world of smoked meat!

To start I put a pound of ground beef in a gallon bag, I had two pounds so I split them evenly between two bags.  I then push it down to distribute the ground meat throughout the bag, oh yeah,make sure you seal it leaving only a small slit for the air to escape at the edge.  Then using a roller roll it out thin so the meat is evenly distributed throughout the bags.

There are probably a million ways you could do the next step, but this is how I do it.  I use a sharp knife to cut along the sides of the bag unsealing it, and peeling back the bag to expose the meat.  Then the fun begins!! I only stuff the chubs with cooked meats if I use another meat product in the chub.  This ensures you have a nicely smoked chub, without over cooking it while trying to cook an internal meat as well.

For the bacon cheese burger I used cooked bacon, american cheese, and mushrooms spread evenly over the burger.  I then start at one end and roll it up to enclose all of the yummy goodness.  I like to leave about an inch all the way around before I roll it so I can seal the ends to prevent the filling from oozing out.

For the Atomic Buffalo Turd Chub I spread cream cheese evenly over the meat and then layered bacon and jalapenos to create a chub with a punch!

I transported the chubs to the smoker and carefully transferred them to the rack so I didn't break them.  I smoke them at 225 for 2 hours, and them pull them off to rest.  I slice them into 1 inch thick slices that can be dipped in your favorite sauce, or could theoretically be placed on a slider bun....

Give it a shot, and let me know how you stuff your chub!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

20 minute Rosemary Rack of Lamb

I always love cooking lamb, it has a very distinct flavor that makes for a memorable experience. Tonight I decided I would change up my method a little and use rosemary in my mix of ingredients. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and rubbed the rack of lamb with light coat of olive oil, garlic, paprika, rosemary, salt and pepper.

I also preheated a pan with some olive oil and seared the lamb for 2 minutes on each side before sticking it in the oven for 20 minutes.  Now, depending on the level of doneness you are going for with your lamb, this will give you a perfect medium, if you want it to be medium rare, let it go for 16 minutes.  If you like it burnt, then let it go for 25 to 30 minutes.

While the lamb was cooking I put some fresh green beans on to cook, with a pat of butter.

Once the lamb was done I removed it from the oven and covered it in foil to rest for 10 minutes.  I like doing a nice red wine reduction with my lamb, so I used a red table wine mixed with the fond from the lamb to make my reduction.  I heated it on high breaking loose any little bits in the pan and letting it reduce by half.

While the reduction was going I heated up some mashed potatoes and plated the meal.  This was all accomplished in under 20 minutes and was an amazing meal!  I paired my lamb with a South Coast Winery Red Table Wine. Once again the end of an amazingly lambtacular weekend!

Smoked Stuffed Pasilla Peppers

I am always looking for new ways to experience flavor combinations and package them together in order to impart some smoke, as well as provide treat that isn't on every menu in town.  That said, this morning when I was perusing the produce section of the grocery store wondering what I could put together, I saw these amazing pasilla peppers and instantly knew what to do today.

When I got them home I washed them and cut off the end caps to remove the seeds.  I saved the caps to use as a plug to prevent the filling from oozing out on the smoker.  Last night we had a friend of Mandy's over for some tacos and I had left over taco meat and cheese that I knew would be perfect for stuffing the peppers.

I combined the taco meat, cheddar cheese, El Pato hot sauce, and some cream cheese in a bowl and mixed it until all of the components were blended together.  Then I stuffed the concoction into the peppers and plugged the ends with the stems.

I wanted to cook the peppers and impart some smoke, but not turn them black or too mushy so I placed them on the upper rack of my smoker for an hour at 225 degrees.  This was the perfect amount of time to give them a great smokey flavor, without the peppers losing their consistency.

Because I am impatient and couldn't wait to try one, I wrapped it in a corn tortilla and sucked it down.  Absolutely amazing!! Great flavor with a little bit of heat, I am going to save the other two and pour some El Pato over the tops with some melted cheddar, they will be awesome!