Saturday, April 26, 2014

I'm Talkin' 'Bout Meatloaf

In case you're wondering where the title for this post comes from, check out this link from Phineas and Ferb.

I've recently become a fan of Meatloaf, so today I decided to smoke some.  I figured if it was good out of the oven, it should be even better out of the smoker.  I went with a traditional Meatloaf recipe to mix up the meatloaf.  Here it is:

1.5 lbs ground beef
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 TBSP Onion Powder
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1 egg
1/2 TBSP Salt
1/2 TBSP Pepper
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

1)  Mix all ingredients together and form into a loaf shape.
2)  Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
3)  Preheat smoker to 225 degrees
4)  Sprinkle the meatloaf with kosher salt and black pepper and place on the smoker in a foil pan.
5)  Once the meatloaf reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit, glaze the meatloaf with BBQ sauce.
6)  Continue to cook until the meatloaf reaches 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the smoker and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
7)  Slice and serve with BBQ sauce.

If you are a fan of Meatloaf, this is the way to cook it.  It stays very moist, and the smoke adds another layer of flavor.  I think I'll be making a lot of meatloaf in the future.  All total, this took about 2 and a half hours to make and was totally worth it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Turkey

Okay, it was a Turkey Breast, not a whole Turkey.  About a month ago, my local HyVee had Turkey Breast on sale for 99 cents per lb.  I picked up a 7 lb one and decided I would smoke it for Easter.

For smoked Turkey, I'm not necessarily looking for a BBQ flavor.  I've done BBQ turkey legs before, but for this turkey breast, I was looking for more of a traditional turkey flavor.  So that's what I went for, and I think it turned out very well.

The first step in all poultry in a brine.  If I could do a Public Service Announcement, it would be to let people know that they should always brine poultry.  It keeps the poultry moist and adds flavor.  And as an aside on a brine, I think simple is just fine.  A very simple brine is 1 gallon cold water, 1 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar.  Mix to dissolve the salt and sugar and you're done.  That's the brine I used for this Turkey Breast.  You can add all kinds of other seasonings to your brine, but I don't really see that you get the additional flavor for the hassle.  If you add other seasonings, you really have to heat the water to open up the flavor of the seasonings.  I've found this is really only valuable if you're making corned beef...otherwise I think a simple salt and sugar brine is plenty good.

Alright, so I've got the brine.  I took the turkey out and washed it off, and then submerged it in the brine overnight (about 12 hours).  In the morning, I took the turkey out of the brine and rinsed it off, then patted it dry.  You need to always rinse off a brine, or your exterior of your meat will be too salty.

The next step was to make the rub.  My rub was pretty simple and I recommend you use it, but any good poultry rub will do.  I'll share the rub recipe here though if you want to make your own.

1 TBSP Onion Powder
1/2 TBSP Paprika
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp White Pepper
1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Ground Sage

I mixed that all together and then dusted the cavity of the turkey breast with the rub.  Then I rubbed the outside of the turkey with olive oil and sprinkled the rub on liberally.  Finally, I lifted the skin as best as I could and put some rub under the skin.  I also put some softened butter under the skin to aid in moisture.  Then I let the turkey rest for 3 hours.

After resting, I heated the GMG Pellet Smoker to 225 degrees and put the Turkey Breast on the heat, in a foil pan so I could capture the juices to make gravy.  My turkey breast took 5 and a half hours to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.  I basted it with butter and it's own juices 3 or 4 times during the cook.

This Turkey was awesome!  It was so flavorful and moist.  The smoke adds a really nice, complimentary flavor, without overwhelming the meat.  I can't wait to have leftover turkey sandwiches this week.  The rest of the family really liked this turkey a lot too.  I served with mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, dinner rolls and apple slices.  I'm quite full right now, but I'll be having pie for dessert later.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Smoked Country Style Ribs

One of the best things about cooking and especially BBQ is experimentation.  A few weeks ago, I was at my local grocery store and they had a sale on Country Style Pork Ribs.  I had seen Country Style Pork Ribs cooked on BBQ Pitmasters last season, so I decided to pick some up and try them out.

Country Style Pork Ribs are not really ribs.  I could try to explain what they are, but I found a great link that explains them, so go ahead and check this out if you're interested:  What Are Country Style Ribs?

Yesterday was the day to try to cook them.  I decided to treat these just like I would pulled pork.  I figured that was a great place to start.  So, about 2 hours before I put them on the smoker, I drizzled the ribs with olive oil and coated them with my homemade pork rub.  If you do these, use your favorite pork rub.  I still have to share my pork rub recipe on this blog at some point.  After rubbing them ribs, I let them rest, covered, in the fridge for 2 hours.

Next I fired up my GMG Daniel Boone Pellet Grill.  I am still using the Gold Blend of GMG pellet (70% oak, 20% hickory, 10% maple).  I set the smoker to 225 degrees and once it came up to temperature, I put the ribs on the smoker and left them alone for 90 minutes.

After 90 minutes, I spritzed them with a 50/50 mix of apple cider vinegar and water to add moisture and a little flavor, and then I left them alone for another 90 minutes before repeating the spritzing.  After another 30 minutes, we were hungry, so I pulled them off the smoker and served them with my homemade BBQ sauce.  You can use your favorite sauce, or mine once I get around to sharing my recipe.

I really liked this cut of pork.  I cooked it to an internal temperature of 165-170.  This left it with more of a good pork chop texture than a rib or pulled pork texture.  Treating it like pulled pork was a great way to go because the bark that developed was amazing.  Overall, I give this first Country Style Rib cook a B+.

Next time, I think I will cook these all the way to 190ish so they get more tender.  While I like pork chops, I think BBQ should be more tender, which a higher temperature will do.  I may try foiling them after 2 hours or so to get them to 190 quicker.  Lots of fun things to I just need another sale at the grocery store!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Smoked Buffalo Wings!

I needed to smoke something this weekend, but I just didn't have a ton of time to do so.  Enter, Buffalo Wings!

Traditional Buffalo Wings are fried, not smoked, but we don't always have to go with tradition.  I really enjoyed the smoked wings I had at Jethro's BBQ, so I didn't really have a choice in trying to make them.  With only a couple of hours, today was a great day to try some smoked Buffalo Wings.

I bought about 5 lbs. of wings, which ended up being 24 wings.  I rinsed them off, then seasoned them with Salt, Pepper and Garlic Powder.  While I was doing this, I preheated the Green Mountain Grill to 250 degrees.  Just for cleanliness and to avoid over smoking, I placed the chicken on a cookie sheet that was covered with non-stick foil.  Once the smoker reached 250, I put the wings on for 2 and a half hours.  

After about 2 hours, I decided to make my buffalo wing sauce.  I really like making my own sauces because I can accentuate flavors I like, and I can avoid those pesky preservatives.

My Buffalo Wing Sauce Recipe is very traditional.  You can dial the heat up or down with more or less black pepper or cayenne pepper.  Here's how I make it:

1 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 Tablespoons Vinegar
1/2 Tablespoon Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1.  Melt butter and while still on the heat, add 1/2 tablespoon of flour.  Stir for 3 minutes to create a roux.  I do this because I like a little thicker wing sauce.
2.  Add Frank's Red Hot, Vinegar, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Worcestershire Sauce and Cayenne Pepper and stir.
3.  Let sit for 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine.

After 2 and a half hours, I pulled the wings off the smoker.  I didn't measure any temperature, but from what I had read online, it seemed like they would be done, and they were.  

I then tossed the wings in the Buffalo Wing Sauce and enjoyed!  The skin does not get crispy like you would get from frying the wings.  But you get the added dimension of smoke flavor which adds complexity. 

Overall, I was really happy with these wings.  As you can see from the picture, they look amazing!  I am pretty happy with that food pic.  They were very moist, and even though the skin wasn't crispy, it didn't really detract from the flavor.  The added dimension of the smoke complimented the sauce and created a very tasty wing.  

So, do I prefer these wings over traditional fried buffalo wings?'s sort of a toss up.  I think it really depends on my mood of the day.  If I want a smokey flavor, then I'll cook 'em this way.  If not, I'd fry 'em.  In the future, I may try frying after smoking, or charring them on a hot grill to add crispiness to see what this does to the flavor.  Overall, this was a very successful cook and I can't wait for my next cook on the smoker.