Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Pasta Shells

Continuing my cooking inside rather than "everything has to be cooked on a grill" adventure, and having almost 2 lbs of chicken shredded and ready to use, I was very pleased with this dish.It truely was a dish that consisted of just what was in the fridge and cabinets and no recipe required typed dish.
A mirepoix or Cajun version of it with carrots and mushrooms was the base and then the chicken was added followed by a little of the cheese sauce. After the mixture cooled enough to handle and the pasta shells were ready the shells were stuffed and placed in a casserole dish with the remaining cheese sauce poured over.
Just heated through and the dish was ready to serve with yeast rolls and Cobb Salad.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tostadas de Pollo

O.K., so I get hung up on some things from time to time. I had planned to wrap these 3 boneless skinless chicken breast in bacon and give them a nice med heat cook in my Pellet Smoker till the bacon got crisp and chicken just right but plans changed. I have been feeling a little foolish about trotting out to the cooker with everything I want to cook and have decided to get back in the kitchen more. With a fresh supply of Toastadas shells on hand I planned to make Toastadas again and decided to poach the chicken with a little onion and garlic in broth. With all the condiments that go on our Tostadas, the smoke or even the bacon could not be missed. The results were as good as the pictures might suggest and I plan to stay inside more and see just what all I can cook in the comfort of our nice kitchen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tostasdas Made With Beef Brisket

Let's talk Tostadas. I cook a lot of barbecue and often have some to vacuum seal for later use and brisket, particularly, the point or thick fatty end of a whole one is my favorite leftover bbq for use in all kind of ways. This portion of a brisket is normally cubed and cooked even longer than the rest to give you what we call "Burnt Ends". The best dish I have made with these Burnt Ends of Brisket however is this Tostadas dish. I did a rough dice on the meat and carmelized in a skillet with very little oil - you could say at that point it had been double carmelized. The assembly of the Tostadas consisted of the standard condiments of Refried Beans, Shredded Lettuce, Chopped Tomato and Onion, Cilantro, and Crumbling Cheese. I knew this was going to be a good dish so I made my sauce from scratch using dried Guajillios and Chipotles in Adobo.
The pictures here are terrible and were made with a phone (camera batteries died) but they look better when enlarged by clicking them.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chili Glazed Pork Loin

I ran up on a bone in Pork Loin and I liked the Prime Rib last week on the Pellet cooker so well, I decided to give it the same treatment. Lot different spices went on it though – I used about six seeded guajillo toasted and soaked in hot water in the blender along with several chopped cloves of garlic, cumin, oregano, two chipotles in adobo and made a paste. The roast was tied and covered with the paste about 1 hr before time to go in the cooker. Just before putting it on I scrapped the paste off and added a good amt of coarse sea salt and blk pepper and smeared the paste back on over the salt and pepper, then added about 2 cups of water to the pan. Cooked 1 hour at 350 and turned down to 325 and started basting every 15 min before covering with foil for the last 15 min and it took an additional hour to reach 135 before pulling it off for the rest where it rose to 142 before slicing. I could not cut through the bottom bone on the ribs and had to slice the ribs off before making the sliced portions of loin to serve and was disappointed that I didn’t realize that before hand and cut them off and tie them back on before starting the cook. Maybe I could have used a cleaver to cut through that bone but didn’t try it, maybe next time we’ll have the handles on the chops.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Rib Roast

I have always believed that old saying “variety is the spice in life” was true, no pun intended, as in this case spice is one of the things we are talking about. Lately I have returned to the basics when cooking beef and that is a simple coating of coarse sea salt, coarse ground black pepper, and a sprinkling of garlic and onion powder. The old saying even goes for the type cooker and method I use to cook the meat on. When planning to cook this 4.89 lb boneless Rib Roast I was about to sear it in my Portable Kitchen and move inside to the stove to finish when it occurred to me that the Traeger Pellet grill was the perfect cooker for such a cook and there would be no need to sear. I seasoned the meat about 1 hour before the meat was to be put on the cooker and added a mixture of prepared horseradish mixed with olive oil on the fatty meat side then carefully tied it with a 1 inch slice cut off for the well done person in the house tied back on the whole roast. Since it was boneless (I prefer bone in), I placed it on a rack in a metal pan with one cup of fresh brewed coffee added to make an au jus and started the cook which took about 2 ½ hours to complete at 350 cooker temp. I used a Maverick remote probe placed in the center of the roast and watch some TV while it cooked totally unattended except for my watchful eye on the remote. The hardest part of cooking beef for me is the much needed rest after taking the meat off and I knew it was even more important for this nice roast so I forced myself to give it a full 30 min rest before slicing. Since I do have that person in the house that likes well done beef, the meat was cooked to 140 internal temp which is 5 to 10 degrees more than I normally would do, but I find that is not a big deal on this cut of meat because the outer muscle is so moist and tender even when cooked to 140. If it were not for the person that did not want their meat well done getting robbed of that outer portion in their slice you could provide the well-done person with the outer part, eliminating any additional steps in your cook. Prime Rib Roast are not cheap but I believe they are a perfect cut for both the Traeger Pellet grill and the perfect cut to satisfy both the well done meat person and those that like their meat rare or medium rare at the same time. Cooking in the oven instead of on a grill or smoker would not be a problem for a grill o maniac like myself either. The moral of the story – look for a managers special on one of these and try it yourself. This roast was 4 bucks a lb and I will probably never get as much out of 20 bucks again if I live to be a 100. Stick with USDA choice or better and you will be a happy camper.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage Making

I have finally found a sausage recipe and executed it that turns out even better than I expected. Traditional Black Eyed Peas and Turnip Greens on New Years day could not be overlooked but we spent a good amount of our time in the kitchen grinding and stuffing sausage. I found the recipe here but on half of the batch I added 2 minced fresh jalapenos, seeds included. Still can't get over how good they are and for the person that does not like stuffing in casings this sausage makes the best meatloaf I've ever had - can't wait for the sandwiches. I used a stand mixer to mix the ingredients into the ground meat and that worked real good.