Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh, Deer!

Deer season in North Idaho has come to a close and what a season it as been! It started out very slowly and ended with a bang....literally.
My husband hunted almost daily from the beginning of the season and saw a lot of bucks but mostly young spikes and forkies...even a few elk. Luckily at the peak of the rut a nice mature 9-point buck showed just long enough for him to get a good shot at it.
Not to be out done, my dad came up and got this beautiful 8 point buck with only two days left in the season. Way to go dad!
Greg removed the back straps and tenderloins from the deer. The remaining meat was taken to the local processors to be hung, cut and wrapped. We're all looking forward to next year but in the mean time we'll be enjoying all this wonderful meat. Yum!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Do You Know How to Salsa???

Well, after today I believe I now can say that I know how to make salsa. Never before had I made salsa of any kind, either fresh or canned. With all the tomatoes that I had ripening down in the basement, most of which are destined to be frozen, bagged and eventually cooked into my favorite homemade V8 juice, it seemed a shame not to make a batch of canned salsa from some fresh tomatoes. Once frozen, tomatoes become little red sacks of mush and do not lend themselves to more than juice or sauce.
The recipe I decided to try is from the Ball Blue Book and is called Spicy Tomato Salsa. I know it sounds like I'm El Cheapo (which I am!) but I decided on this recipe because a lot ingredients I already had on hand and what I had to buy for it was not expensive. Here are the ingredients:

Spicy Tomato Salsa
(makes 6 pints)
  • 6 pounds of tomatoes, washed, drained, peeled, seeded and chopped to 1/4" dice
  • 3 cups diced red onions
  • 15 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, packed tightly
  • 6 jalapeno peppers seeded and diced
  • 9 dried hot red chilies, seeded
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS pickling salt
  • 3/4 tps red pepper flakes
  • water
To peel the skin off the tomatoes you need to blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute and immediately plunge them into cold water. The skins will be very easy to remove.
The preparation of all the ingredients is pretty straight forward except for the 9 dried hot red chillies. Remove the seeds and place the chilies in a bowl. Add boiling water to the chilies just enough to cover them. Tightly cover over the top of the bowl with a plastic wrap such as Saran Wrap and let this steep for 15 minutes. After this, discard of approximately half of the infused water and place the remaining water, along with the chilies in a food processor and blend for a minute.
Now place all of the ingredients, along with chopped chili water mixture, in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven and heat over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it's not scorching near the bottom. Ladle the hot salsa into hot, sterilized pint jars and fill with 1/4" head space remaining. Seal with two-piece lids.
Place in a boiling water canner and boil gently for 15 minutes. Adjust processing time you the altitude you are at.
I was please with how they turned out. After tasting a bit of the salsa before canning it, I would say it's a medium heat. I love the amount of tomato and the cilantro flavor but I am expecting a "maturing" of flavors after sitting on the shelf for a few weeks.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Green Enchiladas Stuffed with Spicy Grilled Zucchinis, Pork Sausage and Tots

Here's an Iron Chef Bradley entry from the past that did get voted the winner.

1 1/2 pounds spicy pork sausage
2 med zucchini
10 large corn tortillas
2/3 cup chopped onion
3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
2 cups tatortots thawed and crushed
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 large can of green enchilada sauce
1 cup sour cream
Penzeys Southwest Seasoning (salt, ancho pepper, garlic, black pepper,oregano, cayenne, cumin, chipotle, cilantro)
Canola oil

Heat up the grill to hot.
Slice zucchini lengthwise 1/4" thick.
Brush both sides with oil and season generously with Southwest Seasoning
Grill about 3-4 mins on each side.
Once cool enough to handle, chop.

Still over a hot grill.
Brown sausage in a skillet, then drain
Saute in oil the tator tots and chopped onions.

To make the filling, mix together sour cream, chopped parsley and 1 3/4 cups of the shredded cheese.
Add to this the browned sausage, sauted tots and onions and chopped grilled zucchini and mix until just blended.
Soften corn tortillas in hot oil for 5 seconds on each size.
Dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce
Then generously fill with the filling
Roll and place seam side down in a roasting pan.
Once all your enchiladas are built, pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.

Cook in a 350F preheated grill over indirect heat for 25 minutes or until bubbling.
Close the grill while cooking.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Chicken Thigh Pies with Sweet Onion, Pear & Ginger

At the Bradley Smoker Forum the have a contest called "The Iron Chef Bradley" competition. It's a lot of fun to be involved because it helps me think out of the box a bit more that I usually do. This was the forth competition this year and the secret ingredients were: pear, onion and chicken thighs. The requirements are that 80% of all the cooking must be done outside either in a smoker, BBQ or grill...even an open fire!

Here's my entry. When the voting finished, it ended up in second place. It was my first experience with puff pastry and I was really impressed with how easy they were to work with.
Please note that I baked them in the grill on an insulated baking pan because this was keeping with the outside cooking requirement of the contest but feel free to bake them in the oven if you do not have an insulated baking pan.

3 large chicken thighs (approx 1 pound) cut in half
1 cup apple cider
6 slices regular bacon
1 TBS oil
2 tps minced ginger (divided)
1/2 large sweet onion sliced thinly (I used a Walla Walla sweet onion)
1 large pear peeled and sliced thinly
salt, pepper, and nutmeg to your taste
1 1/2 sheets of puff pastry cut into 6 squares, at room temperature for at least 40 mins.
6 oz cream cheese at room temp
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg
1+ TBS water
Spray oil like Pam
Marinade chicken thighs 8 hrs in apple cider. Keep in the fridge while marinading.

Dry off chicken with a paper towel. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Wrap each piece with bacon and place on a Pam-sprayed smoker rack.
Smoke in a preheated smoker at 225F with apple smoke for 2 hours.

Have your pears, onions and 1 tsp of the ginger prepped and ready to go. Add 1 TBS of oil heating very hot in a skillet on the grill and when it starts smoking add the onions and saute till tender.
Then add pears and ginger, sprinkle with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Saute for just a couple minutes and the pears are tender but not falling apart. Remove from heat.

To the cream cheese add the soy sauce and the remaining 1 tsp of minced ginger.

On a lightly-floured surface roll the puff pastry to squares of 6 inches square.
On each pastry, spread a 1/6th of the cream cheese mixture, then place a bacon-wrapped chicken piece and top with 1/6th of the sauted onions, ginger and pear mixture.

Fold over each puff pastry, moisten with a little water where the puff pastry comes in contact with itself and press down with a fork. Place on a Pam-sprayed insulated baking sheet.
Mix one egg with one TBS of water and brush on the tops of the pies. Cut slits into each pie to vent.

Place in a 400F pre-heated grill, close the grill and bake for 20 mins.
Bake until brown and bubbling.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another First:: Smoked Pork Ribs

I thought I'd try my hand at smoking ribs using 10.5's method. Usually, I bake the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours covered at 300F then finish on the grill with BBQ sauce. As usual, my husband is scared I'm going to ruin the ribs by trying something new. So, when they had pork spare ribs on sale for $1.98 a pound I bought two 5lbs racks: one for the old way and one to try 10.5's method.

I used Willingham's Rub from the Bradley Recipe Site the night before and let them marinade overnight in the fridge.

Willingham's Rub
  • 4 Tbsp. cumin
  • 4 Tbsp. thyme
  • 4 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp. black pepper -- freshly ground
  • 2 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp. MSG or other flavor enhancer
Smoked them for 3 hrs in hickory @ 225F
Wrapped them in foil with apple juice and cooked them 2 hours longer, then applied a honey BBQ sauce.
And after an hour of cooking without the foil they came out like this.
They came out fantastic, I liked them better than the old way even. Our guest thought they won the taste test, Hubby said I made them too spicy. They were even prettier, too.
They went great with squash roasted with spices, butter and maple syrup...YUM!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Our First Smoked Salmon

Our friend has been visiting us this week and he is a new Bradley owner. Thinking that I know what I'm doing ( yeah, right! ), he wanted to learn to smoke salmon. I have never smoked salmon before but what a great opportunity to try it out with a fellow Bradley Buddy!

We basically followed Kummock's method but we modified the brine a little.
For our 5 pounds of salmon we used this:

1 quart water
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pickling salt
1/2 pound of brown sugar
2 TBS pickling spice

We used 3 pounds of Coho (silver) salmon and 2 pounds of Sockeye (red) salmon. The skin-on fillets were 1" thick. We made sure that they were free of bones.
We marinaded this in the fridge for 8 hours turning about every two hours. It looks nice sitting there in the Pyrex pan but I ending up putting it in a 2 gallon ziploc bag when I saw how full the pan got.
After marinading, we reaching the glazing stage. The salmon pieces were placed on smoking racks and placed in the fridge for 15 hours. I didn't know what exactly they should look like when the pellicle was formed but now I understand. They came out very glossy but not wet just sticky to the touch.

We smoked them using 2 1/2 hours of alder.

2 hours at 100F
3 hours at 140F
1 hour at 175F
They came out fantastic! The sockeye's were richer because of their higher oil content but they were both delicious. My Bradley Smoker never ceases to amaze me. I could not have imagined making a smoked salmon on my own of such high quality.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Jerky Times Three

I had not done a batch of jerky for a while so I thought I'd try some new recipes that I had found. Usually I like using the jerky kits by High Mountain but I wanted to try something new and truly homemade.

My big worry with making homemade jerky is that it's going to turn out too salty. So, when I tried these recipes I alimented any added salt to the soy sauce-based recipes. I just do not see how they could use any more salt.

A 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke could be added to any of these recipes. I cooked mine in a smoker so I did not add any to mine. Venison or elk could be used instead of beef, too.

Teriyaki Jerky
1 cup Yoshida's cooking sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground blk pepper
2 pounds of beef strips

Grandpa's Jerky

1 1/2 cup soy sauce
2 TB brown sugar
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp freshly ground blk pepper
2 pounds of beef strips

Spicy Jerky
1 cup soy sauce
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
3 TB real maple syrup
2 pounds of beef strips

The steps are the same for each of these recipes:
You can use just about any cut of lean meat. Slice it about 1/4" thick preferably with the grain. It's easier to control your slicing if the meat is still partially frozen. Trim off any excess fat.
Make the marinade and let it rest for 20 minutes before add the meat. This give the ingredients a chance to marry. Add the meat strips to a ziploc bag then pour in the marinade. Close the bag with as little air left behind as possible. Mix the meat with the marinade and place in the fridge for 2 to 12 hours.
After marinading, I did mine at about 11 hours, place them on jerky racks lightly sprayed with Pam.
I placed mine in a preheated smoker using no water and the top vent open all the way. After the smoker's temperature recovered to 150F the smoke was applied for 3 hours. I used Bradley's Special Blend but use any type of wood that you like. I allowed the smoker to reach a temperature of about 170F and maintained it there until the meat was done.

Jerky should cook to an internal temperature of 160F to be safe. I've never tried sticking it with a thermometer though. My test is that it is flexible but there is no give when I pinch it between my fingers.

Since there is no cure used in this recipe, I store it in a ziploc bag in my freezer. Jerky has practically zero water content so it does not really freeze solid and is pretty much ready to eat right out of the freezer without having to defrost it.