Live Fire Cooking: Pork Shoulder

This latest adventure in live fire cooking came about rather innocently. I needed a way to get a bigger fire out of this (double-sided) fireplace.

Bigger Fire

The grate was too low to keep larger stacks of logs from rolling out so I set upon building a cage to hold the logs in (see above). It’s made from steel and bolts I picked up at a local hardware store and measures 36″ wide x 18″ deep x 18″ tall. Continue reading

48 Hour Sous Vide Chuck

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I can be inspired by something I’ve seen on the Internet. At this point, I don’t even remember what that inspiration was, but it was there once, I swear it.
Sous Vide Chuck
I’m a huge fan of the ultra-beefy taste of chuck. It’s what meat is meant to be. However, it can be a little chewy unless it’s cooked for long periods of time…like days.

Funny how this works, but sous-vide is just the ticket! A full 48 hours at 130°F did the trick. Continue reading

Sous Vide & Seared NY Strip Strips Sandwich and a Newfangled Old Fashioned

When I was hunting the fridge looking to bag something for lunch, this just jumped out in front of me:
Strips of NY Strip
Well, it wasn’t that exactly, it was a 3oz piece of sous vide NY Strip that most glorious spousal unit set aside for me. She’s thoughtful that way.

What to do, what to do?
Seared NY Strip Strips
I’d initially thought about a grilled cheese sandwich. Why not add some NY Strip strips?
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Sous Vide NY Strips and Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

And so it came to pass that most glorious spousal unit actually asked for a sous vide steak. We’re making some progress!
Steak and Cheezy Potatoes!
She’s a meat and potatoes sort, so I asked her how she wanted the taters.

“Mashed. With cheese.” says she.
“Hmmm. Well, that’s different. What kind of cheese?” I asked stupidly.
“Cream cheese and Cheez Whiz®.”

Whatever. If that’s the price I pay to get her to buy into sous vide rather than just indulging my experiments, so be it.
Getting Ready for a Bath!
The steaks are on the left. Italian sausage in two-packs, then an 8 lb pork shoulder. In all, fourteen pounds of flesh.

She just rolls her eyes realizing this monster sous vide rig will now be on the counter (again) for days.
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Celebration in Pork: Sous Vide & Smoked Ribs, Rack, and Shoulder

Most glorious mum-in-law flies in — not on her broom — about once a year. Her favorite food on the planet is pork ribs. In fact, her favorite meat is pork. Ya just gotta love an Iowa farm girl.
Smokin Frenzy
Clockwise, from the top, St Louis cut spare ribs, shoulder (butt), and rack.

The ribs (20 hours @ 134°F), shoulder (48 hours @ 140°F), and rack (10 hours @ 134°F)  were all sous vide well in advance, ice bathed, then stored in the fridge awaiting their smoke-filled finish. This is one of the greatest things about sous vide: once fully pasteurized, and as long as the bag isn’t opened, you can safely keep it in your fridge for several weeks.

Each piece of meat was liberally salted in advance of the water bath. That’s it. Nothing fancy here. I simply wanted to see what salt alone would do.

Always being interested in the science of cooking, I did some research on the smoking bit too. The result of that was a few simple things 1) charcoal for heat, 2) wood for smoke (I used dry oak chunks), 3) wait for blue smoke (the nearly invisible kind), 4) meat goes in cold and wet. Pretty simple stuff. For those interested in a shitload of details, go here.
Smoke Ring!
Science works. Check out that smoke ring! Believe it or not, the ribs were in the smoker for only 40 minutes. I pulled them out of the fridge, out of the bag, left a bunch of gelatinous goo on the surface, and put them in the smoker. No added rubs, spices, or fussery. Continue reading

Crabby Balls

Decades ago, in a land far, far away, a housemate introduced me to several Asian-inspired dishes. I wasn’t as fluent in cooking back then, but this recipe has stuck with me throughout the years without much modification. Marcotte called them Pork & Crab Meatballs.


BigDMcC, another old friend, calls them John’s Crabby Balls. The name seems to fit.

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Grilled Ribeyes and Roasted Russet Burbank Potatoes

Posted by johngl

We were tripping the rift inside of Costco yesterday and developed a hankerin’  for some red meat somewhere along the way. But this post isn’t really about steak — though you will see steak posted — it’s about the potatoes.

Oven Roasted Russet Burbank Potatoes

These may well be the best roasted potatoes I’ve come up with in a while and I’d thought I’d share the secret formula. Well, that’s a bit of stretch. I do this blogging thing to keep track of my own cooking adventures, but if you feel like coming along for the ride, I don’t mind.

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Big Green Egg: Hickory Smoked Brisket and Turkey Breast

Posted by johngl

In preparation for Vaca y Vino, a whole-steer Argentine inspired grilling adventure being put on by a few Austin chefs in the picturesque Wimberley, TX area later today, I decided to have my own, yet considerably smaller-scale, meat-laden adventure using my Big Green Egg.

Brisket and Turkey Breast (half)

That’s roughly 10.5 pounds of beef and just over two pounds of turkey breast; nowhere near the 800 pounds of cow that is already on the grill for the Vaca y Vino event.

Vaca y Vino: Entire Steer

Of course, I don’t need a pit half the size of my back yard either!

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Sous Vide/Big Green Egg Choice-Grade Brisket and Anasazi Beans

Posted by johngl

Not being one who’s easily satisfied, I’m always looking for new and different ways of doing things. Sometimes they even turn out to be better ways of doing things. I may be onto something here.

The brisket below spent roughly 48 hours in a 135°F sous vide hot tub and then another seven hours smoking away in my extra large Big Green Egg at 200°F.

Holy crap, dude!

48 hour sous vide and 7 hour smoked brisket

I get a lot of whining: This takes too long! I don’t have that kind of time! I don’t have a $1500 Big Green Egg and an immersion circulator!

Okay, so you may have me on the latter though my “immersion circulator” cost me less than $200 and you can use a $90 Weber Kettle and do the same kind of thing. Time-wise, I literally spent less than an hour “tending” the meat. This included rinsing, trimming, seasoning, bagging, unbagging, firing up the egg, and moving the meat out to the smoker. That hour was spread over three days.

Stop whining already. I’ve done the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is give it a whirl.

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