Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brined & Smoked Chicken

I cooked the best chicken I've ever cooked yesterday and I contribute the good results to a good brine and proper doneness. Whole chickens were used but I cut them in half before doing anything else. I used a simple brine that included pickling spices but added a couple of very aromatic herbs to it - both the pickling spices and the other two spices where whole and I ground them in a coffee grinder. I did not want the brine to make the chicken too salty so I limited the time in the brine to two hours. I roasted them in a pellet cooker set at 275 until the breast meat reached an internal temp of 170. A remote meat thermometer was used in the thickest part of the breast. The flavor from the brine was very pronouced and very good. Once they reached 160 I brushed on a light coat of Apricot BBQ Sauce and held them in a warm oven while the side dishes were prepared. Fried Green tomatoes, German Potato Casserole w/Benton Bacon, Carolina Vinegar Slaw, and rolls rounded out the meal.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Memory Lane Restaurant Review

Ann's Place use to be no more than a mile from our office and we went there some but not so much. The food was always good but her old place was so small and well I my as well say it - she was "different" and was extra "saving" with everything from her napkins to her butter, if you needed an extra napkin or pat of butter you had to ask and if you did you'd always just get ONE more at a time. Any way she had to move way across town due to road construction and we hadn't been since. I always liked her and liked giving her my business because I felt she was not cut out for the job but tried her dead level best to put out good home cooking. Her and her husband make more of their stuff from scratch than any other meat and 3 in town, he makes the cakes and pies and she makes the rest. I have been wanting to visit and see how she is doing and found that today was the day to do that since my lunch partner was off today and she wasn't warming up to the idea even though she liked Ann too. I had Chicken and Dumplings, Turnip Greens, and Pinto Beans with Cornbread and Sweet Tea. No doubt the Dumplings were from scratch and just as good as you could ask for, as was everything else. I don't know how you tell for sure if Pinto Beans and Turnip Greens are made from scratch other than judging by how good they are and if that's the only way, these were definitely good enough to pass that test. As I would have guessed there was no pepper sauce setting around for the greens and I didn't ask for any but I found out I didn't need any, in fact if I didn't know better I would have sworn they had some pepper sauce cook in them - they were GREAT. The beans were actually cooked instead of the usual meat and 3 canned version just heated up a little. What I had was so good and I hadn't been to her place for so long, I went ahead and got a slice of that homemade Peanut Butter Pie. It wasn't as good as Edna's over in Chatsworth because he didn't put the mirange on top, but it was good with a light creamy filling on a graham cracker crust and very peanut buttery. Good Sweet Tea that was not too sweet and good cornbread muffins. She has plenty of help including a grill guy that will make you any one of the many grilled items on the menu from burgers and dogs to all kinds of sandwiches including breakfast sandwiches. If anybody ask me I'd tell em to check her place out as it is the real deal and she's good old gal to boot.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

July 4th Rib Tibs

So, everyone knows hamburgers, hotdogs, and watermelon is traditional July 4th food, but I kinda think anything cooked on a grill or smoker passes, or at least it does with me. I decided it was a good time to cook all those Rib Tips from the last couple of contest and I didn’t weigh them but let’s just say my little pellet cooker was FULL. In case you were not aware, Rib Tips were gaining in popularity even before the down economy was a factor and I’ve always thought they were good myself, just needing a little getting use to eating around all those little bones. I have even heard that some people cut them up into small pieces before cooking and I may try that next time I cook them as I always have some thin smaller pieces that dry out a little and that could help get them all done at the same time. Mine were rubbed and into the smoker right out of the fridge and cooked for 3 hours, then foiled and cooked another 3 ½ hours before slathering on a coat of Apricot BBQ Sauce and cooked another 30 min. I have a new favorite side dish that goes good with just about anything that we paired with it called “German Potato Casserole”.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Whole Pork Loin

Everyone has always followed the U.S.D.A. instructions on when meat is cooked to a safe minimum doneness temperature, especially with pork (160), out of fear of a meat borne illness which I can't seem the think of the name of it at present but perhaps you know what I'm referring to. Now it has been changed and you can read about that and other facts about pork from the U.S.D.A on the link Well no one has ever accused me of always following all the rules and I've always cooked certain cuts like Loin and Tenderloin at quite a bit lower done temperature than 160 and have always been credited with them being better than average. So I'm telling everyone I know with confidence now, to please try these at a lower temp and see if you agree that they are far better that way. But that's not all - I have always like 1 1/2 thick center cut loin chops and a week ago I tried a new tool that gave even better results than before - it's called a Jaccard Tenderizer. Now I'm telling everyone I know to cook to the new 145 degree doneness AND use a Jaccard Tenderizer. One more thing...try a Whole Pork Loin with Souvlaki Seasoning and go heavy on the seasoning. I liberally covered mine and wrapped in plastic wrap for several hours and just before putting it in my Traeger Pellet Grill I liberally covered it again and cooked as I said to 145 degrees internally. Try it just as I've said and you may have found the best piece of pork you ever put in your mouth and I promise it will be moist and fork tender.