Monthly Archives: September 2011
Tender, juicy, flavorful, delicious to the eye. A perfectly smoked piece of pork. I have to say, the best I have ever done. I usually finish off my smoked meat in a slow cooker since I don’t have a real smoker. Because I would have to refuel the fire periodically for a larger piece of meat, that means lifting the lid off the grill and releasing the heat. It would take much longer and one could end up with dry, tough meat. Generally, I build up a fire large enough to last about one hour for a good, smoked flavor. If I am going to serve the same day, it goes into the slow cooker to make it fall off the bone tender. On this day, however, I had a small amount of meat and I did something right with my fire. It lasted a good couple of hours and resulted in the above.
A smoker has a firebox separate from the cooking area. There are smokers with the firebox to the side and the vent or chimney on the opposite end (here is this style: http://www.grillsdirect.com/charcoal-grills/grills-with-carts/chargrillersmokinprocharcoalsmokergrill.cfm) Another smoker style layers the fire, liquid and cooking area in that order with the fire on the bottom (here is this style: http://www.weber.com/explore/grills/smokers-series/smokey-mountain-cooker-18 ) Both styles allow for access to the fire to replenish without losing heat. The links do not indicate an endorsement by me. My dream smoker is custom-made, insulated and has heatproof paint. And it is in Texas and hasn’t even been started yet, because I haven’t ordered it. The shipping alone will be 1/4 the cost of the smoker! Someday!
At least a charcoal grill is an acceptable substitute for the real thing. One may get excellent results smoking meat on a regular grill. It just hasn’t happened for me every time. I’ll find out next time if this time was a fluke. Weather will play a role when smoking on a grill. Outdoor temperature and humidity are a factor. So maybe all factors were ideal on this day. The only variable I changed was the amount of charcoal. I started with a larger pile than usual and had a smaller pile (6 to 8 briquets) next to it for adding right before I covered the grill (I did not light the smaller pile. The heat from the larger pile took care of that). I used briquets and hardwood charcoal. The hardwood burns hotter, but not longer, making it ideal for searing the meat prior to the rest of the cooking time. The briquets burn longer, ideal for slow cooking.
This recipe begins the day before with a dry rub on the pork. I will give you all but one of the spices I used; I am leaving out my secret ingredient. I am not going to give you measurements on this one either. This is one you can experiment with on your own. It all depends on what you like. If you like it hot, you will add more cayenne pepper. Or perhaps you don’t like garlic, so you wouldn’t add it at all. Whatever you like will work.
Start with plastic wrap on your counter, two long sheets, perpendicular to each other. Place the meat on top. You will be wrapping the meat tightly when finished with the rub. I sprinkle the spice directly on the meat as I go, either sparingly or liberally. Another option is to use a bowl (measure out and keep track for next time) and then put it on the meat. Here are the spices I used: Garlic powder and chili powder (sparingly), onion powder, mustard powder, ginger powder, basil, coriander (all liberally). For some heat, I recommend cayenne pepper. In addition, I add a pinch of salt (I rarely use salt on anything, but as the meat will be covered for a long period of time, salt is actually an aid in keeping the meat juicy and fresh). The meat is seasoned on both sides. You will rub in the seasonings as you go. Below left is the meat seasoned and rubbed on both sides.
Wrap the meat tightly and place in the refrigerator. I left the meat for about 24 hours. As with all of the meat recipes found on this blog, I removed the meat from the refrigerator about 1/2 hour prior to cooking.
Soak the wood you will be using. I have oak and wild cherry on my property and use pieces that splinter off when my husband splits wood. I also purchase wood chips when I want a different flavor. Start soaking the wood before you start your fire. Otherwise the wood will burn and not really smoke.
Prepare your charcoal fire on one side of the grate. Be sure the vents on the underside of the grill are fully open. Spread out the coals when gray and ashy. Before placing the cooking grate, add something to hold your liquid ( I use disposable foil pie or cake pans. I stock up when they are on sale). This time, I used apple juice for my liquid. It complemented the applewood chips I used for the smoke.
The pork will be seared over direct high heat (see Method Cooking post for determining high heat. High heat is pretty much as soon as the coals are ashy). Sear both sides. Each side should take about 3 minutes. Move to the opposite side, placing directly over the liquid. Now you are ready to add the wood chips. I added a handful and a half.
The coals that started off to the side of the main fire can now be distributed over the main fire. They should already be on the way to getting ashy. Put the lid on the grill and the smoke will start pouring out. Make sure the vent in the lid is directly over the meat. This way, you don’t vent the heat right out of the grill and lose the heat and smoke you want for the meat. The smoke will lessen as the moisture is dried out of the wood chips.
Check your temperature occasionally. Ideally, you want a slow cooking temperature if you are going to keep the meat on the grill for quite some time. 250F to 300F is the temperature to shoot for. This can be accomplished by partially closing the underside vents, cutting off some of the oxygen fueling the fire. I use a probe thermometer stuck in through the top vent. If the temperature drops too far, just open the vents back up. I failed to remember to check the temperature until the pork had been on a good 45 minutes or so. When I did, it was nearly 400 degrees! I had a really hot oven (I’m going to test that again sometime-maybe that’s why the pork turned out so well)! I did adjust the vents and brought the temperature down to below 350F. Because the heat lasted, I left the pork on for close to 2 hours.
Properly smoked meat will have a pink ring on the outer edges. You can achieve more smoke flavor by adding more wood. But, if you are smoking on your grill, remember that every time you open your grill, you are releasing the heat. I recommend doing what you need to do before you put the lid on the grill and just leave it until you are ready to take the meat off. So if you want more smoke, add more wood at the beginning. Good luck and enjoy!
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
This combines two of my favorite culinary delights: shrimp and tacos! I love, love, love, to eat shrimp. I usually eat too much. And I love tacos. What other type of food is there where you can take just about any kind of meat, top it with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, onions, peppers or whatever else your heart desires, put it all in a tortilla or fried tortilla shell and eat it with your hands? Everyone starts with the same basic ingredients and tops it with whatever they like. A taco can be a complete meal all on its own. In this recipe, the Mango Salsa goes so well with the shrimp. It is full of fruits that are sweet and flavorful with a zing from the onion. The crunch of the fresh salsa combines with the softness of the tortilla and shrimp to give your mouth a little extra excitement. Delicioso!
1/2 each, large green pepper, large red pepper, diced (you can add another color if you like)
1 large tomato, diced 1/4 red onion, diced
1 mango, diced
1/2 medium cucumber, diced
2 tbsp minced cilantro
1/2 cup Lime juice
Mix all together. Let sit for a couple of hours or more before serving to allow flavors to meld. Really good with lime tortilla chips, too.
Marinate 1-2 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp in lime juice (one cup will be more than enough) and a minced or pressed large garlic clove. Prepare a fire for direct cooking. While you are waiting on the coals, put the shrimp on skewers. The skewers will make it easier to grill the shrimp over the grate and not leave you with a grill pan to clean. Grill the shrimp over direct medium heat.
Shrimp cooks quickly, so keep an eye on it. Total cooking time for my shrimp was about 5 minutes. Move the shrimp to the side and warm up your tortillas over the fire, less than a minute each side. Or, you may wrap the tortillas in foil and warm directly over the fire while the shrimp is cooking. Slide shrimp off of skewers for easier serving.
After removing the shrimp for serving, you can leave the tortillas on the grill to keep warm, opposite the fire and with the lid on the grill. If they dry out, spritz them with a small amount of water. Serve with the usual taco toppings along with the Mango Salsa: lettuce, sour cream, cheese (cheddar or asiago is best. Basically, something a little sharp), guacamole, etc.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
I know this is a grilling blog, but I just love to cook and bake. Every now and then, when I come up with something that I just have to share, I will. This is one of those times. I wanted to use up some blueberries and strawberries before they became fodder for my compost bin. I looked through my recipe books and found a muffin recipe that sounded good. However, I didn’t have a couple of key ingredients, so I did my usual and made it my own. The muffins turned out fabulously! Not only do they taste great, but the presentation is delicious to the eyes. I ate one warm, only a few minutes out of the oven. I know you will enjoy these muffins!
The first ingredient the recipe calls for is biscuit/baking mix. I do not keep that on hand. I did find a substitute here: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1741,154172-230202,00.html. The recipe also calls for sour cream. I had a tablespoon if I was lucky. Instead, I used cream cheese. I had less regular cream cheese than needed, so I also used strawberry cream cheese. And, this was a recipe for blueberry muffins. I added the strawberries, too. Additionally, I doubled the recipe. The original recipe makes only a dozen. Those would be gone in a day in my house!
In a large bowl, combine 4 cups biscuit/baking mix and 1 1/4 cups sugar. In another bowl, mix together 4 eggs and 2 cups of softened cream cheese. Mix until smooth. Add the cream cheese mixture to the dry mix, combining just until the dry mix is wet. This will be a thick batter. Fold in 1 cup fresh blueberries and 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries. Fill muffin cups to 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a preheated 375 F oven. Check for doneness. I set my oven for 22 minutes. As you can see from the pictures, they turned out perfectly.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
Delicious! That is how I describe this chicken. A moist, tender, melts in your mouth, sweet and salty all at once, taste bud happy piece of meat.
You will marinate the chicken overnight or 6 to 8 hours before grilling. The longer meat marinates, the juicier it will remain through the grilling process. The recipe makes enough to marinate about 2 pounds of chicken.
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp coriander
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup each: cooking sherry, soy sauce, vegetable oil (I used safflower)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix very well. Place chicken in a resealable plastic storage bag and pour marinade over. Seal tightly, removing as much air as possible. Turn the bag until all of the chicken is coated. Refrigerate until about 1/2 hour before grilling, turning once to be sure all parts of the chicken spend time in the marinade.
To grill: Prepare coals for indirect cooking (see http://wp.me/p1ExcU-1B). Make a small pile of charcoal near main fire, close enough for the main fire to heat the coals without lighting them. These will be added to main fire before putting the lid on the grill. When coals are ready, spread and put the cooking grate on the grill. Drain the chicken, discarding the marinade (if you would like to save some of the marinade for basting, you will have to bring it to boil and boil for 2 or 3 minutes before using. Marinades may contain bacteria that must be removed before using as a baste. You should follow this rule as a safety precaution, no matter what you are cooking). Place chicken directly over the high heat coals to sear, turning after 5 minutes to sear the other side. The second side should take less than 5 minutes.
When all visible pink is gone, move to chicken to opposite side of the cooking grate, with the thicker section of the chicken closest to the fire.
Place reserved coals over main fire (those would be the mostly black coals in the picture above) and put the lid on the grill. The vent cover will be directly over the chicken. This allows the heat to spread out over the chicken before venting. If the vent cover is directly over the coals, the heat will escape. The chicken should be ready in about 25 or 30 minutes with the lid on the entire cooking time. I served the chicken with foil potatoes and Fresh Express Pear Gorgonzola salad. Delicious!
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!