Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Bowl Grind

A few weeks ago I participated in an event which can only be classified as a testosterone fueled journey of meat and beer in which close to 60 lbs of beef tenderloin was smoked and mostly devoured.  The spectacular trimmings from the prime cuts of tenderloin were saved, and frozen by +Eric Straub for use in making hamburgers.  

Eric texted me earlier in the week and asked if I would grind up some meat for hamburgers for their Super Bowl party.  Absolutely! I responded. So last night I swung by Casa de Straub to grab his meat on my way home form work.  Ummm, not what you are thinking... I am referring to the 2 1/2lbs of trimmings, 2 1/2lbs of chuck roast, and 1lb of pepper bacon.  Excellent mix of meat for a Super Bowl Burger!    

This morning when I woke up all I could think about was Eric's meat. Dammit, stop that you know what I mean!  So I cubed up all of the meat, mixed it together, added some kosher salt, and olive oil and put it in the freezer for an hour.  The salt and oil (pepper was already on the bacon) were to impart some seasoning throughout the meat before it was ground.

Since the trimmings from the tenderloin were just that, I had to removed the silver skin from the meat to prevent inedible tissue from getting ground into the mix.I also cut some of the fat out of the chuck since the bacon would provide quite a bit of fat to the mix. 

I set up my grinder with a coarse cutting plate and started pushing the meat through the grinder until all of the meat had worked it way through the grinder.  It looked amazing, and was probably the most expensive cut of meat I have ever thought of pushing through a grinder, but hey its the Super Bowl right, go big or stay home!  

I made 8 to 10oz balls and placed them in Ziploc bags to take back to Eric.  In order to ensure the mix was going to be "good" I made a small patty and tossed it on the grill to cook. I seared it on each side for about 4 minutes and let it cook through for another 6.   All I can say is it was phenomenal, so good in fact I took half of it up to Mandy to try, and she thought the same.

Add a bun, some cheese, and whatever else makes you smile and I am sure these are going to be some amazing burgers!


Monday, January 27, 2014

Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream

This past weekend as I was contemplating all of the things I wanted to throw on the smoker I had an epiphany, smoked chocolate ice cream... I know I am not the first to think of it or probably to even try it, but I have never made ice cream before, much less smoke the ingredients that will eventually go into the mixture.
Since I never start simple and work my way up I figured why not, go big and succeed, or throw it away...  To get the party started I dumped a cup of semi sweet chocolate chips into a Pyrex bowl and put it on the top rack for an hour to soak up some smoky goodness.

Since the smoker was hovering around 225 degrees the chips began to melt, which was fine since I was going to melt them anyways when I heated up the mixture on the stove.  Also because this was an experiment I didn't do a lot of photo documentation of the process cause I wasn't sure if it was even going to set up.  (Lesson learned for next time....)

After I pulled the chips from the smoker I put them in a pan on the stove top and melted them constantly stirring to prevent it from burning.  I added in 2 cups of whole milk, a cup of sugar, a tablespoon of cocoa, two soft beaten eggs, and an 1/8 teaspoon of salt to the pan and heated it over a medium low heat until it was a smooth mixture.

I removed the pan from the heat, poured the mix into a bowl and placed it in the fridge to cool.  When the mixture was completely cooled I took it out of the fridge, stirred it, and poured it into my ice cream maker. (Mandy bought me an electric ice cream maker for Christmas. AWESOME) I poured in 2 cups of heavy cream and a tablespoon of vanilla extract.

After 30 minutes when the mixture had set up I spooned the ice cream out of the mixer and into a freezer container for ice cream (also a present).  I left it in the freezer for the rest of the afternoon to allow it to fully set up into an ice cream consistency.

First impression, ultra chocolaty with a hint of smokiness.  The consistency is creamy and smooth, and there is an almost nutty flavor on the back end as it crosses the tongue.  Mandy concurred that this was an extremely successful first attempt at making ice cream.  I plan to take some to work tomorrow to get additional input on the flavor and consistency.

Overall I was extremely happy with this experiment.      

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Smoked Pork Butt

It has been a while since I smoked a butt so I decided this weekend I would throw one on so we could have some meals for the week.  To start I fired up the smoker let it come up to temperature.  While the smoker was firing up I rubbed the pork butt with a combination of garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, and brown sugar.  I let it set at room temp for about 30 minutes.

This was a 9lb pork roast so it needed 9hr minimum at 225 degrees.  Since I often get some temperature fluctuation  I go for 10 just to ensure I get it fall apart ready when it leaves the smoker.  I only have almond wood so the smoke will impart a milder flavor than hickory or oak.

I like to use as much of the smoker as possible on smoke day so I threw on some pasilla peppers stuffed with goat cheese and prosciutto as well as short ribs wrapped in bacon.  The short ribs are going to be used for dinner tomorrow and I am going to braise them in red wine for dinner to cook them down. Should be awesome.

I used most of today to knock out a few pages for my first book.  It is mainly a lot of information getting dumped onto the computer for now, but it is progress.

When the pork butt was finished on the smoker I let it rest covered in foil on the counter for 30 minutes.
After that the meat does all of the work as it falls apart.  I did some slices for dinner tonight and I am shredding up the rest for use throughout the week, and some to freeze for later.


Smoked Pasilla Peppers

  The first of today's smoked treats has left the smoker, and quickly found its way into my gullet.  When I do a full day of smoking I like to take advantage of the smoke and grill surface to make treats for the upcoming week.

  I have done smoked pasilla peppers before, but I did them a little different today. I chose to stuff them with goat cheese, cream cheese, and prosciutto to integrate some salty, creaminess to the mild heat of the pepper. I started by dicing up 3 strips of prosciutto and adding it to a 50/50 mix of cream cheese and goat cheese.  Goat cheese tends to be crumbly, so I used the cream cheese as a binder for the mix.

I cut the end caps off of the peppers from the top into the peppers so that I could use it as a plug once I stuffed them to prevent the stuffing from oozing out.   When I pulled the caps out, I cut off the seed bunch and rinsed them off.  I then stuffed each of the peppers leaving some room for movement to prevent them from exploding on the smoker.

After 2 hours in the smoker, I pulled the peppers off and let them cool on the counter before I cut into one. These are an easy smoke day treat that can be eaten as is, or crammed in a tortilla and eaten like a taco. First bite, smokey heat with the richness of goat cheese, and the salty flavor of prosciutto.  Fantastic, now I need a beer....