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Topics - UWFSAE

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Poultry / Smoked Cornish Game Hens
« on: April 04, 2014, 01:01:03 AM »
Another little experiment ... brined three Cornish Game Hens in a simple poultry brine (kosher salt, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, black pepper) for five hours in the refrigerator.  A quick slather of garlic-infused olive oil, a liberal sprinkling of the homemade chicken rub I used on some chicken legs, and then into the Smokin-It #3 for 2.25 hours at 250 over oak and pecan until the thigh meat hit 162.

The flavor was great and the skin crisp enough to not need a run through the oven.  I served it with my Molasses BBQ sauce but the chicken (even the breast meat) was so ridiculously juicy from the brine that it wasn't really needed.

All in all, I think next time I'll brine them an hour or so longer but beyond that a real success, and possibly back the heat down to 235-240 for a slightly longer smoke to pick up a bit more pecan flavor.

Poultry / Slow Smoked Chicken Legs
« on: March 29, 2014, 04:31:19 PM »
A simple recipe that's kid-friendly while still appealing to adults.  Goes REALLY well with my Georgia Gold BBQ Sauce.  The real key here is the ginger in the chicken rub ... it definitely brings something unique to the party.

I brined the legs overnight in my standard smoked chicken brine and used the following rub after a drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil:

3/4 Cup  dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup  white sugar
1/2 Cup  smoked paprika
1/4 Cup  ancho chili powder
1/4 Cup  kosher salt
1/4 Cup garlic powder
2 Tbsp   ground black pepper
2 Tbsp   ground ginger
2 Tbsp   onion powder
2 Tsp     crushed rosemary
2 Tsp     cayenne pepper
1 Tsp     ground mustard
1 Tsp     cumin

After being vigorously rubbed, I held them in the fridge for two hours on an open sheet pan to dry slightly.  I then applied a light second sprinkling of the rub before putting them in the smoker at 250 for two hours over four ounces of oak.  After being removed, they were put under a broiler for a few minutes to crisp the skin and then served with sauce on the side.  Enough heat to interest the adults, enough sweetness to intrigue a birthday party of 15 three-year-olds ...

Sauces / Joe's Arbitrarily Complex But Delicious Molasses BBQ Sauce
« on: March 29, 2014, 04:16:02 PM »
I've been experimenting with a BBQ sauce tailored for beef brisket, beef ribs, and even hamburgers for guests who enjoy a thicker sauce than traditional Texas Hill Country sauces.  This has met with a ton of kuddos and I will admit to subbing in my Brisket Rub #1 for the dry ingredients with success.  This, however, has a greater depth of flavor with the proportions listed below.

I actually toast the dry ingredients briefly in a non-stick saucepan prior to adding the wet ingredients.  The key to this is a long simmer with very regular stirring.  As it reduces the flavors really come together and, while it's good the first day, it goes to a whole new level after an overnight rest in the refrigerator.  The sauce does thicken when cold and I think a brief reheat does this justice.

1-1/2 Cup    Heinz ketchup
1/2 Cup    cider vinegar
1/2 Cup   beef stock (Kitchen Basics recommended)
1/2 Cup   apple juice (may substitute beer)
1/2 Cup   French's Spicy Brown Mustard
1/3 Cup   molasses
1/4 Cup   dark brown sugar
1/4 Cup   turbinado sugar (can substitute demerara)
3 Tbsp   Crystal Hot Sauce
2 Tbsp   salted butter
2 Tbsp   ground black pepper
2 Tbsp   kosher salt
1 Tbsp   Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp   lemon juice
1 Tbsp   garlic powder
1 Tbsp   onion powder
1 Tbsp   ancho chili powder
1 Tbsp   smoked paprika
2 Tsp   cumin
2 Tsp   cayenne pepper
1 Tsp   ground rosemary
1 Tsp   ground mustard
- Mix slightly toasted dry ingredients with apple juice, lemon juice and butter until dissolved.   
- Add remaining wet ingredients.   
- Simmer until reduced by 15%-20% to proper consistency.   
- Refrigerates well for up up to two weeks.   

Pork / Spareribs using Jack Daniel's Whiskey Barrel Oak Smoking Blocks
« on: December 31, 2013, 08:53:13 PM »
Sorry I've been a ghost for the past few months but I've been traveling like a madman this semester and have only had time for 'Q from local joints throughout Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

With the Christmas break winding down, I decided to dust off the Smokin-It #3 ... but found myself completely out of suitable smoking woods.  Since I had to run to Academy Sports for some last minute Christmas shopping I threw caution to the wind and bought a bag of Jack Daniel's Whiskey Barrel Oak Smoking Blocks (they were out of all other smoking woods except mesquite) for two standing rib roasts I was smoking for Christmas Eve.  I'll create a post for that little experiment later ...

Yesterday, I prepped a whole slab of pork spares with a light butchering (fat trimmed and silver skin removed), slathered with good molasses and liberally coated with a homemade spicy rib rub.  Into the fridge for 18 hours and they went in the Smokin-It #3 at noon on the dot with a 4 oz. Jack Daniel's oak block at 225 with ambient outdoor temps in Houston being in the low 50's today.  No water pan, no 3-2-1 ... and they came out perfectly after 5.75 hours.  Juicy without any muss or fuss, plenty of bite with a pleasant, firm chew.  The ribs were served with a little Foy's Mild BBQ Sauce (made by Dobbs Foods from Columbus, GA since the 1930's) on the side and some ranch style beans.  A nice send off to 2013, to be honest.

The Jack Daniel's Smoking Blocks do have a pleasant "Old No. 7" aroma to them and are perfectly seasoned.  Their cut size is absolutely perfect for the Smokin-It case-style smokers (and Smokin' Tex or Cookshacks, I'll wager) and burns steadily with no flareups.  The oak flavor is rich, a more mellow flavor than hickory and there's no real whiskey aftertaste ... but I admire their marketing.  While I wouldn't necessarily replace woods from Maine Grilling Woods or Fruitawood with this product, it's an accessible and inexpensive choice for oak chunks pre-cut to the perfect size with very solid results.   

Sorry to be out of pocket for a couple of weeks but work got a whole bunch more interesting (in a good way) so I'm out of town a bunch and slammed when I'm not.

Yet, to quote Douglas MacArthur, "I shall return".

Until then, take care folks.

Beef / Bribery is a Dish Best Served Smoked ...
« on: September 12, 2013, 09:52:56 PM »
So, I pulled in a ton of favors for an intercollegiate debate tournament my team is hosting this weekend and to entice a few colleagues to come all the way down to the Houston area I had to promise smoked brisket.  Feeding friends is like feeding stray animals ... they keep coming back for more.  Sadly, good briskets have been in very short supply around these parts so I went with the best of what I could find.

So ... a pretty simple start to the process:  pumped, slathered, rubbed, held, smoked, devoured.

I used a simple injection consisting of 1/2 cup of beef stock (Kitchen Basics brand), 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup Dale's Seasoning, 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 2 tbsp Crystal Hot Sauce.

After injection the 6.71 lb. trimmed choice brisket was slathered with molasses and then coated with a new brisket rub I've been playing with:

1/4 cup coarse ground black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp ground white pepper
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin

The injected/slathered/rubbed brisket was wrapped in plastic and will go in the smoker tomorrow morning around 6:00 a.m. and smoke most of the day at 225 with two ounces of hickory and three ounces of cherry.  I'll add a hanging water pan with a Shiner Bock and that's it ... no Texas Crutch, no spritzing, no poking or prodding or fiddling.  With a bit of luck and a short stall it'll be ready to remove between 4:00-5:00 p.m. at a final temp of 175.  After cooling a bit, it'll refrigerate overnight and suffer through an early morning reheat  to 175-180 in the oven with a bit of the reserved injection liquid and be taken up to campus for a little 9:00 a.m. BBQ before the tourney kicks into high gear.  It's not optimal, but I remain an optimist.

Wish me luck ...

Pork / Quick Ribs on the Smokin-It #3
« on: September 08, 2013, 04:29:02 PM »
With the start of the NFL season, today was hectic with all my fantasy teams, a bit of paperwork for the upcoming week, laundry ... well, you get the drift.  So, I had a rack of spares that I picked up a couple of days ago and was debating on freezing or using ... using won out.

Threw on a spicy/sweet homemade rub with molasses and Crystal hot sauce used as the binding agent and let it sit refrigerated for about six hours.  Only need 3.5 oz of hickory for the Smokin-It so they went into the cold smoker with a cup of apple juice in the Flavor Savor and a quick drizzle of Sweet Baby Ray's Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce and there they shall smoke at 225 uninterrupted for 5.75 hours.  Since I have to run into the office for a couple of hours I elected to sauce up front rather than later since the Cowboys game is going to have my full attention once I'm back from campus.

Finished pics to come, of course ...

Pork / Molasses & Brown Sugar Pork Loin 2.0
« on: September 03, 2013, 08:18:07 PM »
So, I had some friends clamoring for some BBQ and I decided to appease them with a nice pork loin since I was working from home today.

Having already posted the first version of the Molasses & Brown Sugar Pork Loin, I felt there were a few variables I'd like to manipulate to see if it would affect the final product.  I used a nearly identical rub to the first attempt, though I increased the chili powder by a tablespoon and added an additional teaspoon of cumin for good measure.  The brine was limited to 18 hours by necessity and I had to substitute turbinado sugar and a healthy splash of molasses in lieu of the brown sugar there.  After brining, the loin was removed, rinsed and patted dry.

With regard to the prep, I again used molasses as the binding agent but I added several shakes of hot sauce before rubbing the pork; my hope is that it would amp up the "zing" of the final dish.

The cooking method was nearly identical ... 235 on the Smokin-It #3 until the IT hit 110, then backed down to 210 until IT reached 145.  I elected to use four ounces of hickory rather than apple (and the final coloring was much lighter than the applewood smoke from last time).  It was then removed and wrapped in HD tinfoil held for a half hour in a small cooler.  A small end sliver, removed solely for "scientific purposes" revealed good flavor and exceptional moisture, though the hot sauce had negligible impact. 

I still may inject the pork loin (for flavor, not moisture) on the next go around.

Pork / Spicy Pork Butt
« on: August 19, 2013, 09:32:30 PM »
So, I've got a crazy long day tomorrow; looks like I'm going to need to be on campus around 7:00a for pre-semester meetings.  Since I'll likely get home around 7:00 p.m., I decided to smoke a 7 lb. pork butt (Only $.79 per pound on sale?  Yes please!) with a quick injection, rub and a long smoke.

I used Stubb's Moppin' Sauce as the primary base for the injection liquid; to that I added a bit of Crystal Hot Sauce and a little apple juice.  Once pumped, I slathered it in molasses and used a quick spicy rub (my standard pork rub with double cayenne) and it's currently in the refrigerator waiting for the morning smoke.  I'm going a little lower and slower than normal ... 215 with 2 oz. of apple and 3 oz. of hickory with a Blue Moon Agave Nectar Ale and some hot sauce in the hanging Flavor Savor.  I'll push the temperature when I get home if necessary.  If it's 170 when I get back it'll be sliced ... but if it goes over then pulled pork it'll be.

I'll post finished pics sometime tomorrow evening ...

Poultry / Smoked Hot & Sticky Wings
« on: August 17, 2013, 05:29:19 PM »
So, last post until the Cowboys destroy the Cards today ... I brined 10lbs. of drumettes and flats in a Brine for Smoked Hot Wings for 16 hours in the refrigerator.  This morning, I removed them, gave them a thorough rinse and applied a binding agent of Crystal Hot Sauce and molasses, and then a Rub for Smoked Hot Wings.  2.25 hours at 250 over 2oz. of apple wood and 2 oz. of hickory and they were transferred to a large aluminum pan and covered in a "Sticky Heat" Hot Wing Sauce and put in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Everyone who tried them thought they tasted good but rated a "medium" on the heat scale ... until a few minutes later.  Let's just say that this is a sneaky heat, one that sticks with you; apparently the molasses and brown sugar mask the hot sauce and cayenne for a little while.

Overall, this was a definite success.  The texture of the chicken was spot on and the smoke component really helped give some depth of flavor to balance the heat.  This is a keeper but next time I may try honey rather than molasses just to see if it also mutes the up-front heat.

Sauces / "Sticky Heat" Hot Wing Sauce - UPDATED
« on: August 16, 2013, 08:40:21 PM »
This Sticky Heat Hot Wing Sauce I'm posting is designed to pair with the Brine for Smoked Hot Wings and the Rub for Smoked Hot Wings that I posted previously; the flavors should be complimentary and will help promote a nice crust during a two hour smoke over apple wood.  After that (weather permitting) they'll be finished on a hot grill after a toss in my Hot & Sticky Wing Sauce; if it rains, they'll take a quick trip under the broiler.

After letting it simmer (and perhaps reduce a bit too much) I decided to add 4 oz. of beer (Shiner Bock), more garlic, and a bit more of some other ingredients.  The proof will be in the pudding tomorrow after the sauce has "rested" overnight.

2 Cups Crystal Hot Sauce
1.5 Cups melted salted butter
2/3 Cup molasses
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup beer (Shiner Bock)
2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
2 Tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 Tsp white pepper

- Bring hot sauce and butter to a simmer and add brown sugar and dry spices; stir until sugar has dissolved.   
- Add molasses, stir for a minute or two, then remove from heat.   
- Smoked wings should be tossed in the sauce; a large bowl with a heavy ladle of sauce should do the trick.
- With the high sugar content of the sauce, wings should be grilled or broiled with medium heat to help caramelize the sauce.   

Rubs / Rub for Smoked Hot Wings
« on: August 16, 2013, 08:26:44 PM »
This rub I'm posting is designed to pair with the Brine for Smoked Hot Wings that I posted; the flavors should be complimentary and will help promote a nice crust during a two hour smoke over apple wood.  After that (weather permitting) they'll be finished on a hot grill after a toss in my Hot & Sticky Wing Sauce; if it rains, they'll take a quick trip under the broiler.

1/2 Cup smoked paprika
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
1/4 Cup ancho chili powder
1/4 Cup garlic powder
2 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp celery salt
2 Tsp dried mustard
2 Tsp cayenne pepper
- Apply rub of 2 parts molasses and 1 part hot sauce as a binding agent.  Sprinkle wings liberally with rub.   
- Smoke at 250 for two hours using 2-3 oz. of apple wood (peach or cherry may substitute).   
- Finish on grill or under broiler to crisp the skin.  Can be tossed in a hot wing sauce before or after finishing.   

Brines, Marinades & Injections / Brine for Smoked Hot Wings
« on: August 16, 2013, 08:21:58 PM »
So, since my beloved Dallas Cowboys are playing a preseason game tomorrow against the Arizona Cardinals my buddies and I decided to smoke some birds to show our symbolic support.  I wanted to try something a bit different (and a little more economical with the price of poultry lately) so I hit a Sam's Club for 10 lbs. of frozen drums and flats.  After a 24 hour defrost in the fridge, they were added to the following brine in preparation for a morning smoke tomorrow.

2 Qt filtered water
1 Qt ice cubes
2 Cups hot sauce (Crystal Hot Sauce)
1 Cup dark brown sugar
1/2 Cup salted butter (8 tbsp = 1 stick )
1/2 Cup molasses
3 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp coarse ground black pepper
1 Tbsp ground thyme
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
- Mix water, dried spices, butter and sugar over medium heat until dissolved; add ice.  Add hot sauce, stir well and remove from heat.   
- When the brine is room temperature, add your washed and butchered chicken wings (drums and flats) to the brine and refrigerate 12-24 hours.   This test batch accommodated 10 lbs. of chicken.
- Remove wings, pat dry, and rub with molasses, hot sauce, and Smoked Hot Wing rub.   

Poultry / Smoked Serrano & Honey Chicken Wings
« on: August 09, 2013, 03:50:25 PM »
So, I decided to cook for some friends today since my summer of leisure is soon coming to an end.  Twenty-eight chicken wings were drizzled with honey and a serrano pepper sauce I picked up from a local farmers' market.  I rubbed them thoroughly with this and used it as a binding agent for a liberal application of a new experimental spicy chicken rub that I'll post if it pans out.

They went in the smoker at 250 with 3.5 ounces of apple wood ... I'll going to smoke them for three hours and then run them under the broiler to crisp the skin a bit.

Sorry for the blurry pics ... if the iPhone 5s resolution isn't what I expect it to be I'll probably be splurging on a good digital camera ...

Beef / Bourbon & Molasses Smoked Chuck Roast
« on: August 05, 2013, 07:35:34 PM »
I found a post on the LTB forum about smoked chuck roast and decided to give it a try ... Kroger had a great sale ($2.29/lb) so I couldn't resist.

I injected each using a simple mix of melted salted butter, worcestershire sauce, molasses, a few tablespoons of my beef rub, and a little Wild Turkey ... I cooked it down to about the thickness of steak sauce to burn off the alcohol and refrigerated overnight.

Today, I injected two cold 4+ lb. chuck roasts with a goodly amount of the marinade I made, then applied a thin layer of molasses to the outside and liberally applied my beef rub.  They went in the smoker with a 50/50 mix of pecan and cherry, and a Shiner Bock went in the hanging water pan.  I set the smoker for 215 and let it do it's thing.

Temps stayed stable but these roasts cooked much faster than I anticipated ... they hit the target temp of 150 in less than two hours.  They were removed and wrapped in HD tinfoil and then held for 45 minutes.  I started carving with very thin slices but had to keep swapping angles to cut against the grain of the meat ... the once I just broke down had at least four distinct grain changes.  The final product was ridiculously juicy ... the collected juices were added to the giant pile of sammich meat but it didn't even need it.

One stayed here and was sliced up and the remaining whole roast found a good home with some friends.  I'm serving this on some french bread for a different spin on French Dips.

The flavor was exactly where I hoped it would be ... molasses and bourbon will be in my rotation for a long time to come; I had some reserved marinade that I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to and it made a KILLER steak sauce.  If I had this to do over again I'd likely back the temp down a little more (205?) and add some sort of tenderizing agent to the injection.  While the meat that was safely against the grain was quite tasty, other bits give my jaws a workout.  I probably would also bust out the food slicer and cut it deli style as well.

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