Tag Archives: techniques

Glazed smoked chicken wings (or legs)

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you may notice that some of my rubs and sauces are easily adapted and morphed into delicious variations. So this recipe is simple, but only if you already have some of the other ingredients already prepped and on hand. This works equally well for wings and legs.

You will need:

  • chicken wings. Lots of them. Or drumsticks.
  • ~1/2 cup Even Steven rub
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • zest of one lemon (~ 1 tbsp)
  • Spicy ketchup (or equivalent, see below*)
  • your favourite BBQ sauce
  • guava jelly (apple jelly will do)

Prepare you smoker to cook indirectly at 250F, using a fruit wood smoke such as apple or cherry (or a little of both).

Combine the rub with the brown sugar and lemon zest, and coat the wings (or drumsticks). I find the easiest way is to the them all out on a cooking tray (the kind with low sides), sprinkle half the rub liberally, cover with another similar sized pan and flip the whole thing, then apply the other half of the rub to the other side (sure beats trying to flip 3 dozen wings!).

Smoke for 2 hours at 250, which gives you plenty of time to prepare the glaze, which is simply 2 parts spicy ketchup, 1 part BBQ sauce, and 1 part guava jelly. Warm it in a sauce pan so the jelly melts evenly in the glaze. When the 2 hours are up, brush on the glaze, flip the chicken, glaze the other side, and close up to cook another 45 minutes or so.

That’s it. Nice and simple.

*If you haven’t made any spicy home-made ketchup, try the following: Mix ~ 3/4 cup store-bought ketchup with 1 tbsp cider or white balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, dash of Worcestershire sauce, dash of ginger, dash of chipotle power, dash of creole seasoning. That should get you reasonably close.

IMG_2315
Glazed wings, along with some bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers, AKA “Atomic Buffalo Turds”.

 

Makin’ the Bacon

Fellow BBQ enthusiast David Somerville (@BBQDryRubs) runs a site called BBQ Dry Rubs, with lots of tips and tools, and best of all a free e-book entitled A Beginner’s Guide to Making Sausage, Bacon, and Jerky. Well, this seemed like a pretty important thing to have in my arsenal, so I downloaded it and have been trying out some of his recipes. Most recently I tried making my own bacon, so I wanted to report on that to let you know how it turned out.

David’s recipe for the dry cure is fairly straightforward, and I have seen similar (or identical) recipes elsewhere. But up north of the border in Canada, one of the ingredients (Cure#1, or pink salt), is harder to come by.  However, one of my local grocers, Highland Farms, carries a product called ReadyCure at the meat counter, and they also carry pork bellies, so I’m all set.

ReadyCure is only 1% nitrite, so the recipe has to be adjusted from David’s book. So to maintain the proportions, here is what I used:

  • 200 g Kosher salt
  • 250 g sugar in the raw
  • 300 g ReadyCure (1% nitrite)

But that makes a LOT of cure, so I reduced it by 5

  • 40 g Kosher salt
  • 50 g sugar in the raw
  • 60 g ReadyCure (1% nitrite)

This dry cure should be used at about 50g / Kg of pork belly.

When I was in line at the meat counter there was a delightful older woman from the islands who seemed to know a thing or two about making bacon, and made sure I got a slab that was suitable.  It was pretty big (about 3 kg), and as this was my first attempt I had them cut it in half. Here’s the slab:

photo 1

It came with the skin on, so I hat to remove that and re-weigh the meat. I also cut it in half to make it easier to work with (and fit it into the ziplock bag!).

I measured out the cure, in this case 70g for 1.4 kg of pork, and using gloves, rubbed it in thoroughly all over. Also, for fun, I added about a tablespoon of bourbon and rubbed that in thoroughly as well. Hey, why not. Then I bagged it up, placed it in the fridge, and flipped it every day for a week.

When the week was up, I fired up the smoker to 220, and using 2 parts apple and 1 part hickory, smoked it for about 90 minutes until the internal temperature just hit 150.

bacon photo 1

 

When it hit the desire temperature, I let the hunks cool to room temp and then refrigerated, and sliced them by hand (I don’t have a meat slicer. Yet.)

photo 1Even though this was my first attempt, I have to say that this bacon was delicious – way tastier than store bought bacon. The real smoke certainly gave it an aroma and flavour missing in store-bought, but even the texture was different. There was not much hint of the bourbon, so if I try that again, I will be a little more liberal with the booze.

Now, if you were observant, in the smoker image above you will see three pieces. The slab in the top image was sliced in two, but there was an extra meaty pieced attached to one end that made that part of the slab considerably thicker, so I sliced it off, and after smoking I chopped that into little cubes of pancetta, which are delicious on, well, just about everything.

As I write this, I am already curing my second batch – a larger piece,  one that is more square a bit more lean. This is definitely something I will continue doing.

As I bid you happy grilling, I leave you with one last picture:

photo 3Cheers!

 

 

Peppercorn crusted cross rib roast

In my last post I talked about the flavour of cuts from the chuck, or shoulder region. The cross rib roast is another cut from the chuck, so it has all that wonderful flavour as well. This cut is often de-boned and tied, and is quite lean compared to other chuck roasts. It does have a few strands of connective tissue, but these can be tolerated because the rest of the roast is so good. This cut, being fro the chuck, is also considerably cheaper than fancier cuts like prime rib.

We are going to do a reverse sear on this roast, cooking it indirectly for about an hour, and then putting over direct high heat to put a crust on it.

Ingredients:

  • Cross rib roast, about 3 lb
  • steak spice, coarsely ground
  • fresh cracked black pepper

Take the meat out of the fridge at least an hour ahead of time. You want the meat to cook evenly, and if the centre of the meat is still cold, you will end up overcooking the outer portion to get the inner portion right. Pat the meat dry, and coat thoroughly with coarsely ground steak spice, plus extra black pepper (Or you could just mix up your steak spice with extra pepper!). You want to lay down a pretty a pretty thick coating so it’s thoroughly crusted up.

Set your grill or smoker for indirect cooking – I use my kamado with the heat deflector – and preheat it to 250-270F. I like to add a little wood to the fire, not a lot, because we aren’t smoking the roast, but a chunk of hardwood (maple, oak, apple or hickory all work well) gives it a little extra character. Put the meat on, and let it cook indirect for about an hour (exact time will depend on your setup, and size of roast). You want an internal temperature between 115 and 120F.

When it reaches the target temperature, the next step is to sear it on all sides with high temperature. If you are using a gas grill, especially one with a ceramic sear burner, just crank it up, and move the roast over the heat to sear. If, like me, you are cooking indirect over charcoal, it may be a bit trickier. I transferred the roast to a board. covered with tinfoil and a tea towel to keep it warm, then removed the heat deflector and opened it up. It only took a few minutes to get up to nice high sear temp, and then I replaced the roast.

Sear it for 1-2 minutes per side (and I mean in-the-thick-of-it, honest to goodness high temperature searing to crust it up). And, being a roast, that would probably be 5 sides (4 sides + one flat end). Remove from heat, tend with foil, and let rest for 10-30 minutes.

That’s pretty much it. Slice and enjoy!

(for some reason I didn’t take any pics this time. Next time.  I promise)

 

 

Petite Tender with Grilled Pepper & Onion

When I was a kid, we often had chuck steaks. These were pretty inexpensive cuts, because they were kind of tough, but they had a lot of flavour. I recall being disappointed with a sirloin steak – a pricer cut with a fancier name, because though it was more tender, it was much less flavourful.

Fast forward a few decades.

I have not seen “chuck steaks” in a long time. The chuck, or shoulder region, is often sold as a roast (such a cross-rib roast) because the connective tissue that makes it tough breaks down with long slow cooking. But a few cuts from the chuck are gaining in popularity, because they are cut lengthwise, with the muscle fibre (like a flank steak), thus eliminating the tough connective tissue. The flat iron steak is one of these, and the petite tender (also called shoulder tender or bistro filet) is another.

The petite tender (a name that others me – choose a language and stick with it!) is shaped like a stubby pork tenderloin, about 6″ long. And it is one of the most tender cuts of beef, and full of that wonderful chuck flavour. This cut can be hard to find, so I was pretty excited to find they now carry it at one of my local grocery stores, Longo’s. But his wasn’t just beef, it was Certified Angus Beef (CAB). Oh, and did I mention it’s not an expensive cut? Yup, poor man’s filet mignon! So here’s what  did with it:

  • 4 Petite tender steaks, about 7 oz each (they were 2 in a package)
  • Steak spice (see my recipe here)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion (spanish or vidalia)

If you are using charcoal, you’ll want to get the fire going to make sure it’s ready when you are. Pat the steaks dry with paper towel, and coat liberally with steak spice. Make sure the spice adheres well to the meat – get your hands in there.

Chop the pepper in half lengthwise, and remove the stem and seeds. Cut the onion into thick rings. Get the grill up to medium high heat, season the grill with a little oil and put the onions and peppers (skin side down) directly on the grill. You can put a serious char on the peppers, as we will be removing the skin, but keep flipping the onion so it doesn’t burn. The onions are done when the soften up and get floppy and you think they might start falling through the grill. The red peppers should also soften up and loose their rigidity.

There are all sorts of recommendations for peeling roast peppers – from cold water to sealed containers to paper bags. If you have a favourite, use it, but once charred the skin scrapes off easily. Once the skin is off the peppers, slice them into narrow strips. Keep the onions and peppers by the grill, we’ll need them again shortly.

With the grill still at medium high heat (I run my kamado at about 500F), put the steaks on the grill at a bit of an angle to the lines of the grill. You might be tempted to cook these hotter – I often do steaks at 700F or so, but these are lean cuts and can scorch more easily. You may want to lightly coat the steak with a little oil to help prevent this.

I cook my steaks for 2 minutes, rotate them (to get cross-grill lines) and cok for another 2 minutes, flip them, 2 minutes, then bring them to a part of the grill away from the most intense heat, top with the onions and peppers, close down the vents and let cook indirectly for 4 minutes.

transfer the steaks to a plate or board, loosely tent with foil, and let rest for at least five minutes. Serve with veggies, potato, or salad of choice.

photo 4

If you want to guild the lilly, so to speak, you could mix in a little soft goat cheese with the onion and peppers, or a little herbed butter, which then melts nicely in that last few minutes of cooking.

This is a great way to serve a terrific cut of meat.

Enjoy!

Best, irreproducible pork chops.

Let me tell you a story of some of the best pork chops I ever made, and how the recipe can probably never be reproduced.

It was late spring, about two years ago. We had picked up some nice fresh Ontario pork chops, and I was looking forward to tossing them on the grill. Nothing exotic, just a little salt, pepper, garlic and glazing of sauce. When we got home it was starting to cloud up, so I rushed to get the gas grill started. I didn’t want to grill in a downpour, so I didn’t want to wait for charcoal to get up to temperature.

My wife helpfully suggested that we could cook them inside, but I figured there was time. And besides, grill vs pan? Come on.

So I tossed the chops on medium heat as the clouds darkened. after a few minutes I flipped them, and that’s when it hit.

To be honest, I don’t know what kind of storm it was, but terms like “microburst” and “supercell” come to mind. For about half an hour the weather was so severe I would not risk the 4 metre walk from my back to to the grill. Wind gusts must have exceeded 100 km/h. Rain was horizontal.  Chairs were flying. The grill, of course, went out.

When it passed, I did what any die hard outdoor chef would do – I went back out and re-lit the grill and finished off the chops.

I thought they would be mediocre at best, inedible at worst, but hey, grilled pork chops. But no, they were juicy and tasty. I think by heating, and then removing heat, and then finishing off I pretty much did an accidental reverse-sear.

So my irreproducible chop recipe is as follows:

  • start with 2 thick fresh pork chops
  • apply fresh cracked pepper, salt, and garlic powder
  • set the grill to medium heat, and cook 5 minutes per side
  • get hit by a tornado
  • once severe weather passes, relight the grill. Set to medium-high, cook chops for 2-3 minutes per side, add BBQ sauce of your choice, and grill for another 2 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 145F.

 

 

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Pork tenderloin is an almost perfect cut of meat. It is lean, tender, flavourful, and reasonably inexpensive. For the health-conscious, pork tenderloin is comparable to chicken in terms of high protein, low fat content, and low in overall calories (about 40 calories/oz, or 140 calories/100g). The only downside to tenderloin is that it is so lean, it can easily be overcooked and dry. To prevent this, I have been playing with a reverse sear method, and with lots of variation it has not once let me down.

Ingredients:

  • Pork tenderloin (a 1 lb tenderloin will do for 2-3 people, depending how hungry they are)
  • fresh cracked salt & pepper
  • garlic powder
  • barbecue sauce

Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towel, and lightly dust with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. If you want you can add some extra flavours of your own, like steak spice or a little creole seasoning.

Prepare your grill for indirect heat, and cook the meat for about 25 minutes at 275-300F.

Transfer the meat to direct medium heat, flipping it so bottom is now on top, and baste the tops with a little barbecue sauce. After 5 minutes, flip the meat, and baste the other side with sauce. after 5 minutes flip again, give it three minutes, and then take it off to rest for 5 minutes, tented with foil, before slicing to serve. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be between 145 and 150, and not over 155.

I have found this technique to be both easy and very forgiving, with the end result being tender and juicy every time. Give it a go, and let me know what you think!

Cooking with Indirect Heat

When cooking over fire you don’t always want the food directly over the flame. many cuts of meat and other foods need to cook slowly, more like baking or roasting than grilling, and for this we use indirect heat.

Indirect using a gas grill:

Heating indirectly with a gas grill is straightforward. Get all burners going to heat up the grill with the cover down, and once heated, turn off all burners but one. With my tube burner grill I leave on the one at the far left, and turn off the other two. This provides enough heat to keep the closed grill at about 300F, and anything on the right half is completely away from the flame. On my smaller H burner grill, there are only two burners, so one half is hot, leaving slightly less than half for indirect heating – though I can get higher temperatures because it is a larger burner. Interestingly, I find that the warming rack above tends to be hotter than the grill (heat rises, remember?), which is the opposite of cooking over direct heat.

Over Charcoal:

Indirect cooking over charcoal is much the same as over gas, but requires a little more hands-on work. What you want to do is get the fire going at one side of the grill, and place the meat on the other. You also want to raise the grill up as high as it will go, to keep the food from cooking unevenly. Many grills, like Kamado style cookers, have heat deflector plates for low and slow cooking. These are thick ceramic plates that are placed directly over the coals, so the heat has to flow around them, allowing you to cook indirectly over the entire cooking surface.

Cooking over indirect heat is fairly simple and intuitive, and the more you do it the more you will learn the idiosyncrasies of your grill, and it will become completely second nature.