Thursday, March 26, 2009

Great Turkey + (Turkey Competition Recipe)

This is a great recipe and method for doing a great whole turkey or just cooking a couple of turkey breasts.

You will be brining and marinading at the same time and this will produce a wonderful result.

This recipe will work for both the turkey breasts and the whole turkeys.

Try to find a clean turkey that is not injected with the salt water and if you can't find one that way, try to get one with the least amount of injected salt water. You can probably find them from about 6 to 13% injected salt water so do go with something around 6% for the best results.

The turkey will be prepped about 12-14 hours before the fire so be sure you have the time.

BRINE, and it is injected into the turkey. Be sure the turkey is completely thawed if using a frozen bird.

This is Shake's Injectable Honey Brine with my slight changes and it is a great brine and I use it for all my poultry.

32 oz of water
1/4 cup pickling salt
2 tsp Tenderquick
1/3 cup honey
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp gound cloves
1/2 tsp pickle spice

Heat this up on the stove to help it dissolve but do not boil or you will ruin it and have to start over. Just get it warmed up. Cool it down before injecting it into the turkey.

This cook included two turkey breasts that will be prepped with my recipe.

This picture shows the brine ready to be injected and also the marinade I use for this recipe.

Yet another couple of breasts ready to be injected. We do this recipe about 6-8 times a year for the turkey breasts.

Inject 2oz in each leg, 2oz in each thigh, 4oz in each side of the breast. This is a total of 16 oz per bird or 8oz per whole breast. MORE is NOT better as it will make the turkey toooo salty!!!

MARINADE....I use Wishbone Robusto Italian salad dressing in the 16oz bottle and you need one bottle for each breast and about two bottles for a whole turkey.

You will be brining and marinading at the same time.

Place the brine injected turkey into a food grade small plastic bag and then pour the Wishbone over the bird. Align the turkey so it is longways in the bag and on one side of the bag. Carefully start at the bottom of the bag using both hands and work all the marinade up around the meat getting most of the air out of the bag and then tie off the bag. Better to have some help with this step. Place the bag and turkey on a platter and put it into the fridge for about 12-14 hours. You might turn it a time or two when you get into the fridge for a beer.

RUB...This rub has no sugar and will not brown or burn at any temp. (thanks mr. db)

1 TBl Salt
1 TBL Paprika
2 tsp Onion powder
2 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp White pepper

You will also use a light sprinkle of cayenne pepper directly on the turkey.

On cooking day, take the turkey out of the fridge and then out of the bag and set it on a counter top and let it warm up for about 30 minutes. Then sprinkle on a light coat of the rub and then sprinkle on a light coat of the cayenne pepper. Again, more is not better and it is very easy to over season your poultry.

These two turkey breasts are in my contraption all ready to be carried out and dropped into my ceramic cooker as soon as the cooker gets on temp. I like to do the whole turkeys and also the turkey breasts at about 350 degrees indirect on the cookers if possible. It gets the skin better and cooks much quicker and I feel that I get a much better product at this temp.

These are some turkey breasts on my large Egg.

Again, cook the turkey at about 350 degrees using just a very small amount of mild smoke wood untill the internal measured in the thigh is about 170 degrees. Poultry really sucks smoke so do not use much for the best results. It can also be cooked at a lower temp but will take longer and the skin may not get as done or crispy as you like.

This is a whole turkey about half done on my WSM. To do them on this cooker, I run the water pan dry and use lump charcoal and just turn the cooker loose and let it rip. Always get great results.

A couple of breasts just off the cooker.

Now for the contest cookers, I do like to do two breasts along with two of the smallest turkey legs I can find for my contest presentation. Be sure that you do the two legs exactly like the breast as there will be a judge that will select that piece out of the box instead of the breast meat.

Contest Presentation....There are several ways to present the bird in a contest. I like to use a presentation piece like one of the legs in the box at an angle and then fan sliced breast around it and then garnish to look good. Another way that has done well for me is to slice a very thick piece off of one side of the breast and then place it meat side down to where the skin side of the breast shows in the box and then fan the thinly sliced breast meat around it. Just before you close up the box, very carefully spray lightly all the meat in the box out of your pump sprayer with HOT strained low salt chicken broth.


Friday, March 20, 2009

High Temp Brisket / Direct Cooked

This is my method of cooking a brisket direct at a higher temp that will result in the meat tasting just like a good "steak" and cut the cooking time to less than 5 hours. It will also give you a very tasty, tender, and juicy finished product.

It is best done on a cooker where you can place the meat above the open coals at enough distance above the hot coals so the drippings don't flame up and sear the bottom of the meat.

This cook MUST be done direct with the meat straight above the open fire as the drippings must go into the fire. This will give you a completely different and wonderful flavor of the finished meat. Steak, I tell ya!

The meat needs to be on some type of raised grid in a ceramic cooker as you need to get the meat as far above the fire in the cooker as possible to prevent flame ups from the fat burning the bottom of the meat.

Let's get started...

I like to use a big brisket flat and my Sam's club has the real nice choice flats that usually weigh above 7 pounds and do have some fat left on them. They also sometimes leave about half the point on the brisket like the one in this picture. I do trim up the fat to about 1/8" thick on the fat or cap side of the brisket.

Now, this isn't bbq...keep all your rubs in the pantry and just get out some garlic salt and some black peppercorns. Grind on a fairly heavy layer of black pepper on both sides of the meat. On top of this, sprinkle on a layer of the garlic salt on both sides.

Get the cooker up to a temp of about 350 degrees and then put on your smoke wood and do use a large amount as it doesn't last long at this raised temp. I used cherry for my cook yesterday and about 7-8 chunks.

Place the meat on your raised grid in the ceramic smoker fat side down.

With the fat dripping on the fire, you will get a lot of smoke but this is normal for a direct cook.

My cooker wanted to run at about 365 degrees yesterday so I just let it and I cooked the meat to about 175 internal and this took exactly 2-1/2 hours and then I foiled the meat.

Sure did look good just before it went into the foil.

For my Au Jus, I mix up about 2-1/2 oz of beef broth and about 1-1/2 oz of worchestershire sauce and pour it into my foil boat.

Place the brisket in my double layer foil boat and wrap it up.

Cook the brisket until the internal is around 210 degrees and I know this is hotter than normal but it does take this finish temp to get this meat to where it is tender at this higher temp. Be very careful when checking the brisket with your Thermopen and don't stick it all the way thru the meat and poke a hole in the bottom layer of the foil and let all the juice out. The total time in the foil yesterday was one hour to get to my finish temp.

The total cooking time for this wonderful treat was just 3-1/2 hours.

I will usually let the meat rest in the foil for at least an hour before I cut it up. This is enough time for the juice to redistribute inside the meat.

I carefully take the meat out of the foil over a bowl as I don't want to loose any of the Au-Jus. I put this juice into a plastic squirt bottle for serving at the table.

I then cut the meat to the thickness I want and as you can see, it is very juicy and tender.

Take a real fresh onion bun and cut in half, grill or toast it, put a ribbon or two of horsey sauce on the bun, lay a couple layers of this steak brisket on the bun, and then squirt some of the Au-Jus over the top and enjoy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Charcoal Grilling / Pork / Poultry / Fish / Veggies

Along with my Charcoal Grilling / Beef article, we also grill many other items both direct and indirect over a lump charcoal fire in most of our cookers. These cookers would include my ceramic cookers, Backwoods cookers, WSM cookers, Weber kettles, and the Weber charcoal chimney.

For grilling, you do need a very hot lump fire for most of the treats done on the cookers.

We like both our pork chops and the real thin cut pork steaks grilled over a hot lump fire in the cookers. Just apply a little rub of your choice or just salt and pepper and grill them a short amount of time over a lump charcoal fire and enjoy.

Fish is another great meal that can be done either direct or indirect on a grill or smoker. I usually do all my fish direct over a hot fire and it doesn't take very long to cook. This was a mixed grill of fish, fat burgers, and pork steak.

This picture shows some fish on a perforated vegetable or wok type of pan and works great for those items. This cook was done in my Backwoods cooker with the water pan removed from the cooker so I had a direct fire over the coals for the fish.

Great fish from my direct cook over a hot lump fire.

Here is another meat that in our area is called Western ribs. The ribs in the picture average about a pound each. They are cut out of a pork shoulder or pork butt and can be quite good but not even close to the REAL country ribs that are cut out of the loin. It is very difficult to find the loin cut country ribs in my area at this time and when you do, they are very pricy but usually worth it!

I like to cook or grill the Western ribs indirect on a raised grid in a ceramic cooker at a temperature of about 325-350 degrees. I use a pork rub and then finish them with a good bbq sauce and honey glaze. One of these one pounders along with a few slab potatoes and a salad, makes a good meal.

Mixed veggies are a great treat that can be grilled direct over a very hot lump charcoal fire and is a wonderful side for your other grilled meats or even a whole meal with just a big chunk of garlic bread. We do these often and love them with many different meals.

As you can see in the above two pictures, we cook them over a hot lump fire in either a vegetable basket, or sometimes called a perforated wok, or maybe a grill topper, or in a perforated pot like you see in the second or lower picture.

The best recipe and method I have ever seen for this treat comes from my friend Mr. Chris Cappel (Nature Boy) and the owner of Dizzy Pig Rubs. He posted his method with these veggies in November of 2001 on the BGE forum and I will share some of this with you as it is just a "killer" way to prepare this dish.


My favorite combo of veggies is asparagus, mushrooms, sweet onions and pineapple, but other combos work great as well. Green beans, red peppers, onions is one more example. Or maybe Zucchini, shrooms and onions. The possibilities are vast, and only limited by your imagination. Mushrooms, sweet onions and pineapple really add a lot IMO.

I slice the veggies and put them in a large bowl about 30 minutes prior to cooking. Nice big chunks. Then in a small bowl I mix up seasonings...again let your imagination go. The critical thing is to use some oil in the mix to "coat" the veggies. As an example of something I do often:
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1-3 tbsp wine, sake or mirin
1 tbsp oyster or fish sauce
1 tsp of garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
1 tsp sugar
pepper to taste
and 2 tbsp or more of peanut oil.
Maybe a bit of sesame oil, or a tsp or so of your favorite rub. Maybe some lime juice.

Pour over veggies and toss with your hands to coat. Let sit 15-30 minutes. Any longer and the salts start yanking moisture out of the veggies and they shrink.

Once you have a good hot fire, and a glowing bed of coals all the way accross the firebox you are ready (not a huge load of coals like you would use for turbo temp steaks, but a smaller load, like what you have left after cooking chicken pieces). Place the grill topper wok (sprayed with oil) on your grate directly above the inferno, and close the lid. Dome should read between 500 and 750. After a minute or so carefully open the lid, and dump the veggies in. It should make a crisp sizzling noise as the veggies contact the hot steel. Spread the veggies out fairly evenly and close the lid. After 2-3 minutes open and stir well. You should see a hint of browning on some of the veggies. Close lid again and wait another couple minutes, and repeat this process until they are done to your liking. 5-8 minutes usually is perfect. We like them with a bit of crunch.

Cooking in a regular wok is good, and you will end up with plenty of juices, but it is not the same. There is something really special about the effect that the high heat, open flames and smoke have on he veggies. It is impossibe for me to explain. Just try it!!


Thanks Chris for one of the best recipe I have ever used for mixed veggies and please do try this with the veggies of your choice. I have used about every veggie out there with the above method and they have all come out wonderful.

Any type of sausage links are great grilled on a cooker. Can be done either direct or indirect at about any temperature with good results.

All poultry is great grilled on a cooker but you must be very careful to get it done to where the juices run clear or the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees or above.

Poultry can be cooked either direct or indirect at about any temp above 250 degrees but if done by itself and the cooker can run hotter, it is usually the best when cooked at or above 350 degrees grid temp. It is also a good ideas to place the chicken in the cooker where it doesn't drip down on your other food while cooking.

There are other articles in my table of contents dealing with some other grilling and you can find them under ABT's, Hot Wings, and Slab Potatoes.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Charcoal Grilling / Beef

I grill with charcoal for fuel on several of my cookers which would include my ceramic cookers, Backwoods cookers, WSM cookers, Weber kettles, Weber charcoal chimney, and a couple of home made cookers. I do this both direct which is over the fire with the drippings from the meat going straight into the fire and also indirect with a drip pan between the meat and the fire. Most of this grilling is done at elevated temperatures over lump charcoal.

Ribeyes are really hard to beat cooked over a very hot lump charcoal fire with the meat just in the tip of the flames on an outside cooker. The above ribeyes were cooked on my WSM smoker.

Great steaks MUST start from great meat!! For my ribeye steaks, which is by far my favorite steaks, I usually purchase the whole CHOICE ribeye loin and then cut the steaks into the thickness to suit me. Many times a year, in my area, the select grade will be on sale but in my opinion, spend the extra $1.00/2.00 a pound to get a better grade of meat. It must be choice or above!

The first thing I do with my whole loin is to cut the tail off of the steaks as I want this fat for sausage or hamburger. I vacuum seal it and freeze for later use.

For our regular ribeyes steaks, I cut them about 1-1/4" to 1-1/2" thick and then vacuum pack them for the freezer. We also like what I call a State Fair steak sandwich and for this treat, I cut the steaks to about 1/2" in thickness.

Just like your steak, great burgers start out with great ground meat. Never, I say never, if you want a great tasting hamburger, buy any ground meat that is leaner then chuck. And even with chuck, you will need to add some fat for the best results if you are grinding your own meat. If you want something leaner than chuck, grind up some liver and it will have about the same amount of flavor and moisture as a brick on your bun! I put burger ground from sirloin and round in this same catagory. FAT makes a great burger!! I usually make my burgers from the fattest cuts I can find and then add more fat from my other meats. I think about 65%lean and about 35% fat really make the best burgers. You bite into on of my home ground FAT burgers and all the juice and flavor from the fat will squirt into your mouth and you will think you have died and gone to heaven! The flavor is wonderful! Stay away from those bricks!

For the best steaks, you really need a hot fire and this takes a lot of lump charcoal as you see in the picture. This is my Big Green Egg with a full load of coals and all fired up and waiting for some steaks!

These are some fat burgers and a couple of ribeye steaks that have been salted and peppered and ready to go on the cooker. I will sometimes use a little garlic powder on my steaks as well but nothing else.

With a good hot fire like you see in the picture with the flames licking at the bottom of the meat, a great steak cooked to about rare or medium rare will only take about 3-4 minutes a side.

Now those are nice looking ribeyes ready for the plate.

This is a plate of my State Fair cut ribeyes along with a couple of butterflied pork chops. They sell a sandwich with this cut of meat at the fair and it is just a killer meal. I cut them around 1/2" to 3/4" thick and then grill them at a high temp over lump charcoal for just a few minutes a side.

With a hot fire, they only take a couple of minutes per side. If I am serving to a group, I hold the steaks in a pan of hot Lipton onion soup. They come out of the onion soup and then onto a big bun for serving. It doesn't get any better than that for a sandwich.

This is a few of the State Fair steaks done on a plate with the butterflied pork chops. Good stuff!

One of my favorite meals is a good steak off of my large Big Green Egg.

All my Backwoods cookers have the removable water pan which allows me to cook steaks and chops on them at just the tip of the flame with a lump charcoal fire if I want and these cookers will also do a great job with a steak meal.

T-bones on the Backwoods smoker.

Another great steak dinner.

I do burgers both direct and indirect at many different temperatures as we do eat them often and I can usually find some room on any cooker for this great treat when cooking our other meats. Burgers are just wonderful as long as they are cooked over a charcoal fire.

For cooking them alone on a cooker, I prefer to do them direct on my ceramic cookers or my Weber kettle at the very high temps like I use for my steaks.

The above pictures show the burgers being cooked direct on a very hot fire. They cook in about the same amount of time as the steaks for rare and medium rare and that is about 4 minutes a side on a hot fire with the flames licking at the bottom of the meat.

The above pictures shows some burgers being cooked indirect on a ceramic cooker. Using a cooking temp of about 325-375 degrees will also make a great burger but it does take longer.

This is a mixed cook of burgers and sausage links just going on the ceramic cooker.

About done on the cooker and looking good.

Doing this article and seeing all the pictures sure makes my hungry so I think I will lay out some steaks for supper.