Sunday, February 28, 2016

Roasted Root Vegetables and Smoked Tritip Stew

3 to 4 lbs of smoked tritip
1/2 Stick of butter
2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
1 large onion sliced (petals)
3 cloves of minced garlic
3 Tablespoons of tomato paste
2 Tablespoons of Worcestershire
2 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons of unbleached all purpose flour
3 Sprigs of fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
3 Sprigs of fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
1 Tablespoon of Paprika
1 Tablespoon of sage
4 cups of beef broth
3 carrots chunky chop
2 Parsnips chunky chop
2 beets cubed
1 1/2 lbs red or golden potatoes cubed
1 cup frozen peas
1 dark beer (porter, stout, or dark ale)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 Degrees
Place the cubed beets, parsnips, and potatoes in a large cast iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil
Place the skillet in the oven for 25 mins
Add 1/2 stick of butter, the onions and garlic to a dutch oven or soup pot and saute over medium heat
Add in cubed tritip and flour
Cook until onions are browned and rue is thickened
Remove the roasted root vegetables from the oven and add the remaining ingredients (except the peas)
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2hr to allow ingredients to blend
Add the frozen peas during the last 20 mins of the cook to keep them crisp.

This stew has a nice blend of sweet, smokiness, and savory. Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon or a Pale Ale.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Makin' Bacon!

Just the thought of bacon gets my mouth watering, so taking the leap into making my own at home was a challenge I have been wanting to take on for a while. When I made an impulse buy and picked up 9lbs of pork belly, I figured there is no time like the present to figure it out.  Doing research on how to make bacon is like searching for advice on weight loss, there are a million ways to do it, and ten more on how the others are wrong.

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to making "curing" bacon.  You can take the traditional route and use a curing salt often referred to as pink salt or prague powder #1 which is a quick cure, but is loaded with nitrates.  This is not the same as store bought "pink salt", you have to buy this at a specialty shop or online.  Or you can go with a "nitrate free" method often referred to as uncured bacon which uses an alternative such as celery salt, which still contains some level of nitrates...

I chose to go with an uncured bacon, and really didn't follow any school of thought on the process other than deciding to hot smoke the bacon vs attempting to cold smoke in Southern California....  I cut the slab into four 2.5lbish chunks and prepped four different rubs.  The first was simply salt, pepper, and paprika. The second followed suit adding cayenne pepper.  To give a little sweet to the savory, I added sugar to the third chunk along with salt, pepper, and paprika.  For the fourth I used all five ingredients to add a little heat to the sweet.

Once I finished adding the rub to the pork belly I used the food saver to vacuum seal the slabs and put them in the fridge to "cure" so to speak for four days.  On Sunday I removed the pork belly from the bags and let them set at room temp for about 30 mins while I fired up the smoker to 225 degrees.  Some of the posts I read had you wash off the coating prior to smoking the meat, which had I used a curing salt I would have, but I decided to leave it on while the meat was on the smoker.

Unlike bacon you buy at the store, this is hot smoked so the bacon is technically cooked to 165 vice cold smoking which is not safe to eat until cooked.  I was concerned that by hot smoking the pork belly it would be either hammy or taste too much like a pork chop, but to the contrary, once it cooled and I sliced it, it fried up just like bacon and tasted quite amazing.

During the slicing process I ended up with chunks of smoked pork belly, which when baked in the oven for 20 mins turned into an indescribably awesome treat!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Pork, Beef, and Chicken Oh My!!!

As I planned out my New Years weekend smoke I couldn't decide what I wanted to cook, but I knew I wanted to cook enough to have meals for the week plus a little treat.  Smoked Bologna is my guilty sin that even in the midst of weight loss I had to have (Just means I gotta work out even harder this week). So I grabbed a pork tenderloin, tritip, chicken wings, poblano peppers, and of course BOLOGNA.

At 225 degrees all of the above items will take less than 3 hours to smoke, so I started in the early afternoon, so I could accomplish some yard work in the morning.  I used dry rub on all of the meat, adding some cayenne pepper to the chicken wings to kick them up a notch without sauce.  For the tritip and pork tenderloin I used a mix of salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.  I used salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne on the wings, and salt, pepper, garlic and ancho chili (which is made of dried poblano peppers) on the chunks of bologna.

When I set up for this smoke I placed the two meats that needed the most exposure to heat (tritip and pork tenderloin) closest to the fire box, Followed by the wings, peppers, and lastly the bologna.  This will vary depending on your style of smoker. The bologna essentially just needs smoke, it is fully cooked, so pop it in for as long as you want, just don't burn it.  Pretty sure if you burn bologna you have to turn in your address is......

This is my third smoke on the new smoker, second since I sealed up some of the leaks, so maintaining my temp for a short smoke was easy, The challenge is getting used to a fire box that is the size of my last smoker's main chamber... Bigger smoker = more fuel so I have to adjust my reload times to ensure I keep enough fuel in the box to maintain temp and smoke.

I put everything on at 230 pm , and pulled the last hunk of meat off at 545 pm.

Meat                                Temp
Tritip                                 135
Pork Tenderloin                150
Chicken Wings                 165
Bologna and Peppers       Awesome    

The pork tenderloin was like eating amazing little bites of pork heaven!