Saturday, February 26, 2011

Salmon - Sink or Swim?

I've never smoked fish before, much less a 2.75lb salmon fillet.  So Saturday was a bit of an experiment.  This salmon was first dry brined for several hours, followed by drying to create a pellicle (thin skin of film) to seal in all the natural fats etc. (That white junk that squirts out when you cook salmon).  So about 12 hours after this process started I finally tossed this hunk of fish on the pellet grill at about 190degrees, and a couple of hours later... yum...

I forgot "before" pictures!  This is on the grill about ready to come off

Ready to cut and serve.

This is about a third of the fillet... the "leftovers"

Leftovers will likely be made into a little salmon spread for a snack tomorrow afternoon with some crackers.

ABTs - Easy as 1-2-3...

ABT = Atomic Buffalo Turd
Sounds yummy doesn't it...  Name aside these stuffed jalapeños taste nothing like a turd. Halved jalapeños filled with  a mixture of cream cheese, shredded colby-jack cheese, and hot sausage, then wrapped with some peppered bacon.  That cocoon of goodness is then smoked at low temp for about an hour, then the temp is increased to crisp the bacon, on the pellet grill.

ABTs - Post prep - Ready for the grill

ABTs on the indirect portion of the grill.  They are sitting on a 
frogmat.  Frogmats are completely non-stick mesh which prevents
delicate foods from falling through, or sticking to the grates. 

The finished product - Jalapeños plate nicely on a bread plate
The ABTs were spicy but mostly from the peppered bacon.  There is a little heat in the jalapeño but the longer you cook, the less heat they have.  Highly recommend these the next time you need some finger foods/appetizers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

High heat to grill the meat!

Time for a little change, no slow and low tonight.  Tonight it's high heat to grill the meat.  The menu included grilled tomato, mushroom, zucchini, yellow green and red peppers, and of course Rib Eye Steaks.

The PG 1000 is such a versatile device than it can cook both low and slow, and fire up to about 600 degrees for a nice searing heat for steaks.  The temp at the level of the cast iron grates got up to near 850 degrees during cooking these steaks.  

First I grilled my veggies at about 400 degrees in what I call a "grill wok" which you can see in the pictures below.  Once they are finished I move them to a flat version of this on the indirect side to keep warm etc.  After finishing all the veggies I mixed them all back in the "wok" to let all the flavors "mingle" for a few minutes.  

Then I jacked up the temp to the max 600 degrees and seared the steaks for a couple minutes on each side and then moved them to the top indirect racks to finish. Mine came off pretty quickly after that, but my wife likes her steak ruined, er... well done, so her steak stayed on a little longer.  Again... I forgot to take many pictures, but you get the point... 

2/24/2011 - PG1000 Veggies and Steak
Veggies in the grill "wok"

Peppers and Zucchini on the indirect while the shrooms cook

Tomatoes getting grilled up

Nice flame action shot... 

What a Jerk!

Smoked and grilled chicken thighs.  The "top" thighs in the picture were marinated in an Italian type Dressing/Marinade and the "bottom" thighs were marinated in Caribbean Jerk marinade.  The thighs were an experiment cooking completely indirect but with high heat.  I ran the grill at around 500 degrees, but never put the chicken over the flame.  The pineapple was grilled directly then laid on top of the Caribbean Jerk thighs as they finished.  Overall, both types were very moist with crisp skin.  The skin on the Italian thighs ended up being more "blackened" style but was quite good.   I would do this again, but would probably do a slower cook at a lower temp, and then jack the temp up at the end to crisp the skin. (or finish directly on the grill to crisp). 

Oh, and if you've never grilled pineapple... go for it!

2/18/2011 PG1000
Italian and Caribbean Jerk Chicken Thighs
Starting out

Finishing Up

A pile of Jerk

Nice Racks and Baby Backs...

RIBS - get your mind out of the gutter...

Rib day was February 12, 2011... well at least at my house.  First I smoked 3 racks of pork spare ribs.  These were trimmed to "St. Louis Style."  When they are trimmed like this the PG 1000 will hold 3 racks on the lower indirect grate as shown below.  It's a tight fit, but it works.  I smoked these for several hours then foiled them and cooked them a little longer.  Turned out great... Just ask the ladies working on the Birth and Family unit at the hospital that day... 

The afternoon brought some loin back ribs.  These are obviously smaller (thus the name baby back ribs) and three racks fit on the bottom grate without much trouble.  These were cooked the same way as the spares, but I added some extra cayenne pepper to the rub for a little "kick." They were great and there was definitely a "kick" to them.  The rib connoisseur in our family, my three-year-old daughter Jenna, approved of the baby backs... so they must have been good.

PG 1000 2/12/2011 St. Louis Style Spareribs

Spares just before I foiled them to finish
(forgot to take any "final result" pictures!)

2/12/2011 PG1000 Loin Back Ribs

Dinner! - iPhone camera makes the ribs look a little 
more pink than they really were.  Excellent smoke penetration.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tri-Tip - Brisket Style

And we're back... 

This was a Tri-tip I cooked "brisket style" on my smoker about a month ago.  What's a "Tri-Tip"?  you may ask... 
From wikipedia:

The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom primal cut. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. (675 to 1,150g) per side of beef.

In the United States, this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when it became a local specialty in San Luis Obispo, California, rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and other seasonings, cooked over red oak wood and roasted whole on a rotisserie,  smoked in a pit, baked in an oven, grilled, or braised by putting a pot on top of a grill, browning the meat directly on the grill surface before and after the braising. (The tri-tip is still often labeled the "Santa Maria steak".) Most popular in the Central Coast o California and Central Valley regions of California, it has begun to enjoy increasing popularity elsewhere for its full flavor, lower fat content, and comparatively lower cost.

I rubbed this with spices and brown sugar.  Then it was cooked Low and Slow on the PG1000.  I cooked it at 200 degrees for about 4 hours then increased to 250 until an internal temp of 195.  I then foiled it and put it in a warmed cooler to rest for about an hour.  I then pulled it unwrapped and sliced.  Result = juicy yummy-ness.  
So... if you're from California don't be offended by my treatment of this Tri-tip... there's more than one way to cook a tip...  

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Moo + Oink = Moink

Moo = Meatball, Oink = Bacon.... Moo+Oink=YUM!

This is my first attempt at Moinks.  Cooked about 45 minutes on the PG1000 at 400 degress indirect then dipped in BBQ sauce and cooked another 30 min.  Though not the healthiest snack/appetizer, they were yummy.  Overall pretty easy to make with minimal cleanup as well.  

Moinks 2/4/2011 PG1000

Moinks are sitting on a frogmat.  This is a non-stick coated "fabric" mat that lays on top of the usual grate to keep them from falling through and sticking.  Plus you can turn the whole mat to rotate the moinks without having to move each one individually.  Frogmats can only be used on indirect cooking ie cannot be placed over the flame.  

Just before BBQ sauce dunk

Finished product (no leftovers)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No This Isn't Delivery OR DiGiorno

Here is a great use for "leftover" BBQ.  1) Get a grill 2) Get a stone 3)Make a pizza.  

The PG1000 is great for pizza.  Set at 600 degrees and place a pizza stone on the indirect side of the grill.  It take about 20-25 minutes to heat the stone to about 500+ degrees.  Prep you favorite pizza dough roll it out and toss some leftover pulled pork (top), pepperoni and peppers (middle), or leftover BBQ chicken (bottom) Toss it on the grill for about 6-8 minutes... and you've got a great grilled pizza with just a little hint of smoke flavor.  

Nice Butts

First "low and slow" cook on the PG1000 (My New Toy) was a couple of small pork butts.  For all of you who are a little concerned about eating "butt" its actually the "Butt" portion of a pork shoulder.  Though the butt jokes are fun (and never get old) we are actually dealing with "shoulder"... I can't think of any good "shoulder" jokes...

Why is it called "Pulled Pork?"  The meat is cooked to a relatively high temperature (>190 degrees), making it quite tender.  After it is done you literally "Pull" it apart.  (See below) - I will refrain from jokes here...  

2 Butts 4.5 lbs each - Rubbed, Injected and Cooked at about 225 degrees for about 12 hours




After Pulling

When comparing this to My First Butt you may notice some color differences.  This redness you see near the edges of this meat is called a smoke ring.  It is an artifact of the smoking process.  It is not as pronounced or even present when cooking using an electric smoker (unless you do a few tricks to get it).  It is purely cosmetic as the smoke flavor permeates the meat whether or not a smoke ring is created.  Since this pork was cooked on the FEPG1000 it was fueled by wood pellets and thus gets a better smoke ring.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The New Toy - PG1000

I've had 2 different Cookshack electric smokers and have always been very pleased with their product.  A couple of years ago I saw a new product by Fast Eddy (Ed Maurin, founder Fast Eddy's BBQ) called a pellet grill.  Recently Cookshack took over production of this grill.  There are several pellet grills out there, but what made this one stand out was the unique design which combined a direct heat, pellet fired grill and indirect cooking areas all in the same package.  The grill is able to produce temps in excess of 600 degrees and the temperature at the grate level can reach 900 degrees.  Perfect for searing that juicy steak.  It's also able to handle temps as low as 170 degrees for low and slow smoking.  You can get more info on this grill from the Cookshack website. 

I have been "learning" this new grill for the past couple of weeks.  So far I have slow cooked some Pork Butts, and Tri-tip, and have grilled some Chicken Thighs and Breasts and Hamburgers.  I have also tossed a pizza stone on the indirect area and cranked up the heat  for some great Grilled Pizzas.

Here are some pics of the new grill.  I highly recommend it!

Just before its first seasoning.

Flames on the "Direct" side with indirect upper and right areas. 
On our way to 600 degrees

Made it!  Just under 10 min to heat to 600 - Peaked at about 650