Archive for January, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

 Mrs. G and I like to cook whole chickens because it gives us plenty of meat to use for leftovers later on in the week. One less step you have to take later on. We are always looking for new recipes to try this out on. This week we decided to use our leftovers from the spatchcock chicken to make pot pie using a recipe her sister shared with us. I probably should have let Mrs. G write this one, as she did most of the prep work. I know she sautéed some onions and made a roux, then added half and half and chicken broth and then the veggies and chicken, but don’t ask me for amounts. It was then baked in the oven (Gasp! Yes, we do use our oven occasionally, I didn’t feel like firing up the Egg tonight, but I’m sure it would have worked just as well) at 425 for 30 minutes.

Coming out of the oven.

 I will take the blame for the less than pretty crust. Mrs. G says we need to take a baking class so we can make it look better. She might just be right, but if it tastes good, who cares?

Sliced up

 I think it turned out pretty good. The sauce was pretty thick and I’m sure it could have used a touch more liquid, but the flavor was good. Even though the chicken was cooked on the egg, it really didn’t have any smoke flavor to it since I did not use a lot of wood when I cooked it originally. This was a great way to use some left over chicken.

Red Eye Express Pork Tenderloin

Dizzy's Red Eye Express Pork Tenderloin

     My brother (who from now on will be called GM), came over last night to exchange cars with my wife as she was going to need a truck for work today. Since he was nice enough to let her borrow his truck, I decided I’d go ahead and feed him some dinner. A quick run to  the fridge and I saw that I had a pork tenderloin defrosted. Perfect! Quick and healthy cook. More digging around in the fridge and pantry resulted in some sides and I didn’t need to go to the store…even better!

     After rummaging around my spice rack, I came across Dizzy’s Red Eye Express, a coffee-infused BBQ rub. The label says, “While this rub has quite a bit of pepper, coffee is the theme. Aromatic spices, herbs and a variety of chilies round out the final result…a rich rub that works nicely with beef, lamb, poultry and pork.” I’ve tried this rub on steaks before and really loved the results, but I’ve never tried it on pork before. Seeing as how my brother had bought this rub for me as a present and had never tasted it, it seemed like the perfect rub for tonight. So I rubbed the tenderloin down and went out to fire up the Egg and get it ready for a 400F direct cook.

Tenderloin on the Egg

      While the tenderloin went on to cook for about 20 minutes, my wife sliced up some zucchini and squash, seasoned them up and skewered them on a Fire Wire (which is a flexible skewer). I let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes, just enough to get heated up and a little char, but not overdone or mushy. As for the pork, always cook to temp, not time. USDA now recommends cooking pork to 145F with a 3 minute rest afterwards. How pink you can stand your pork is up to you…. we pulled at 145F tonight and thought it was much better than the previous tenderloin cook where we pulled it at 140F.

Sliced

      Tonight’s dinner was plated up with some grilled zucchini and squash, stuffing and a salad. The flavors and textures complimented each other and the pork nicely (as did the Turkey ;) ), but I knew I had nailed it when there was not a voice to be heard as we all dug into our meal. I do believe I heard my brother say that was the best pork tenderloin he had ever eaten.

Plated Up

 Now its got me thinking…..how would this work on a pork butt or maybe some ribs?  Hmmm….think I might just have to experiment.

Thanks for looking and please feel free to leave a comment or a suggestion.

BLTs on Home-made Bread

Home-made Bread

 Sometimes simple is better, and sometimes its nice to have a classic. It is classic after all. And what’s more classic than a BLT? To make it a little more “special” though, a little more “fancy“, I decided to make up some fresh home-made bread for these BLTs. I love the way the aroma of fresh baking bread fills the house. Before I could make my BLTs, I had to sample a slice of warm bread with a bit of butter first.

Home-made Bread With Butter

 Nothing beats warm, fresh bread with a bit of butter. After that, we assembled our BLTs and warmed up a little bit of Italian Sausage Soup (which can be found on this blog as well). This meal hit the spot. A classic is a classic for a reason.

Dinner is served

Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock Chicken

Deary me! Mention that you are serving spatchcock chicken, and the ladies blush, the men frown and the children giggle. However, it is a real word that has been around since the 18th century. Numerous dictionaries agree on its usage as a noun and as a verb.”                                                                                            ~ The Naked Whiz (www.nakedwhiz.com)

That term raise an eyebrow? Pique your interest? It’s an actual term, I swear, I didn’t make it up and it’s been around at least since the 18th century. The benefits of spatchcock chicken is that 1)the bird cooks faster and 2)it allows the legs and thighs to reach a higher temperature than the breast. Breast meat needs to reach 165F, after that, it tends to dry out. Unfortunately, the legs and thighs are not usually done when the breast is. I like to take legs and thighs up to 175-180 before I consider them done. Spatchcok allows you to accomplish this. This really is a great way to prepare and cook a chicken in a shorter time with amazing results and after reading this post, I hope you give it a try.

So what is it and how do I do it? Very simple. Spatchcock means to dress and split a fowl (in this case chicken) in order to grill, roast or broil. No need to worry about dressing your chicken these days. All that is done for you before it gets to the store, but you will need to split it. I’m sure there are butchers who will do this for you if you ask nicely, but it’s easily done at home. Take a pair of poultry shears, you know, those sharp scissors you got with your knife set that you may or may not know what to do with (please don’t use these scissors for normal cutting jobs, save them for cooking). Flip your chicken breast side down and look for the backbone. You want to cut out that backbone, so starting on one side, cut just to the side of the backbone from the bottom to the top. Repeat on the other side. Whatever you do, please do not throw that backbone out. Seal it up and throw it in the freezer. They are great for making stock along with wing tip, but that’s another post.

Next, flip that chicken back over so the breast side is facing up. Place one hand on each  of the breast and press down. You will hear a pop. This is the breastbone breaking. You have successfully spatchcocked your first chicken. Some sources will have you actually take a knife and cut out the breastbone. I find this to be a tricky and unnecessary step. Breaking it works well enough. Now that I think about it, I probably should have taken pictures of this process to make it easier to understand, but working alone without my partner and getting chicken yuckiness all over my hands does not lend itself to very sanitary conditions. Maybe I’ll add some next time I do it, or just google how to spatchcock a chicken.

To cook this chicken, I went simple on the seasoning and just applied Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom, a rub that is very similar to most Cajun seasonings you might be familiar with like Tony Cachere’s, but with bolder flavors and more of a kick. I then set up my Egg at 400F for a direct cook, but using BGE’s Grill Extender to get the chicken up a little higher from the heat source. If you don’t have one of these, you can simply take 3 foil lined bricks and place them on top of your fire ring (or I’ve even heard of people using empty beer/soda cans), then place your grate on top of that. However you chose to do it, you want to raise that grate up high or your chicken will burn. I also used apple wood chips for a smoke flavor.

Spatchcock Chicken on the Egg

 In the above picture, you can just see how my grill extender is sitting on top of the original grate, thereby raising it up. This cook took only 1 hour and that was for a chicken around 4 lbs. From what I have heard, if you raise the chicken high enough above your heat source, you won’t need to flip it at all during the cook. Unfortunately, the BGE Grill Extender did not raise it as high as an Adjustable Rig would have. So after 30 minutes I had to flip my bird as the bottom was threatening to burn. After 30 more minutes, I checked the temperature and the breast was reading 164 and the thighs were at 177. I pulled the chicken off and let it rest under a loosely tented aluminum foil as we prepared the rest of the dinner.

Sliced

 Here is the chicken with the leg quarters removed. You can see how juicy it was and how it came out with a nice crisp skin. It was served up with a salad and some creamed corn. The Swamp Venom gave it a nice heat and the apple wood lent a nice, but not over powering smoke.

Spatchcock might not have that “Wow!” factor and eye-catching appeal as a Beer Can Chicken (but common’…who hasn’t seen a beer can chicken by now?), but I believe it produces vastly better results and in a shorter period of time. From now on, I believe this is how I’m going to do my chicken. Hmm….I do have a turkey in the freezer….

Papa Murphy’s Pizza On The Big Green Egg

     Ok, ok, I cheated last night. I bought a pizza from Papa Murphy’s. I’ve made plenty of home-made pizzas before, whipping up my own dough, making my own sauce (which still needs tweaking), and firing it on the Egg. But I didn’t have the time for that last night. There were a few factors leading up to getting a pizza from Papa Murphy’s

  1. Yesterday afternoon, I was stuck at home with the landlord who was trying to fix my thermostat. Good news – my heater isn’t stuck “on” anymore and the house isn’t 86F. Bad news – no heat last night. Don’t worry, we’re fine.
  2. After he left, I went to Tom Thumb to get wings to cook, they were out.
  3. Back up plan – pizza. No time to make my from scratch dough, Tom Thumb was out of there pre-made dough. Wasn’t going to order from Pizza Hut or Papa John’s.

     I’ve read about people doing pizza on the Egg, I had just never done one myself, so I figured why not? Worse thing if I ruin it is I toss it and run out a get a burger or something.

Papa Murphy’s Meat deLite

      When Mrs. G is home, we generally have to get some type of veggie on our pizzas. But since she was out of town, all meat it was. I did decide to go with a pizza off their deLite menu, partially because it is supposed to have 40% fewer calories and 30% less fat (hey, it’s a New Year’s thing, cut me some slack) and partially because I thought a thin crust would cook up better.

     To cook the pizza, I got my egg stabilized at 450F, with the placesetter legs down and my pizza stone on top of that supported by the 3 green feet that come with the Egg. I then let all that heat up for 30 minutes as pizza stones take a while to warm up. When it was ready, I placed the pizza on the stone still on the paper tray it comes on. I let that cook for about 5 minutes and then gave it a spin 180 deg to cook evenly. I let it go about another 3 minutes and then carefully slid the paper tray out from under the pizza.

Pizza on the Egg

  I then let it go for about another 6-8 minutes, increasing the temperature to 500F. I’d say 6-8 minutes, but keep checking it through the vent at the top of the Egg every 2 minutes until it looks like your toppings are cooked the way you want them. I like my cheese to start to brown up some before I pull it.

Done

      I was a bit surprised at the crust. I was expecting it to be a bit more crispy than it was. I think next time, I might slide it off the tray a few minutes earlier so that the extra time in contact with the pizza stone will crisp it up.

Crust

   At this point, I was so hungry, I had to take a bite before fixing a plate and going to watch tv.

Slice of pizza

      All in all, it wasn’t a bad pizza. It sure beats a frozen pizza or one of the larger chains any day. The pizza takes on a nice hint of smokey flavor and you can almost imagine somebody cooked it for you on a wood burning pizza oven. Was it as good as mine? Nah, I don’t think so, but if I don’t have time to make the dough, it will do in a pinch.

****BTW – Papa Murphy’s does have instructions on their website on how to cook your pizza on a gas grill, charcoal grill or a pellet grill in case you don’t have a BGE.

New Year’s @ The Ranch, Part 2

     Sunday at the ranch seemed a bit quieter than the day before. Partially due to the previous night’s festivities and partially because some people had to leave to get back for work on Monday (so we lost 4 adults and 2 kids). But the fun was not yet over for those who remained.

     Doug, my F-I-Law, put Eric and me to work the next day gathering and splitting wood for the fire pit and for the grill. Not a big deal, I figure helping out is the least I can do for allowing us to hang out. After that was accomplished, it was time to fire up the smoker for some ribs.

My old smoker .

     Some of you may recognize my old smoker. Had this for many years before I got an Egg. Put out plenty of good bbq on it, too. Just takes a whole lot more work than the Egg does.

Ribs on

     These were baby back ribs that got slathered in mustard (helps create that bark and keeps the rub stuck on) and then rubbed down with Dizzy Pig’s Dizzy Dust. Notice that half a potato I have a temp probe stuck in? I lost the clip that usually attaches it to the the grid and had to MacGyver it up! Worked out pretty well….although I would say the potato was past well done.

     While the ribs were smoking away, it was time to pull out my new Mossberg ATR .270 and see what we could do with it. This was only the second time I had shot it, the prior day I had put 3 rounds through it. This time I put another 3 rounds through it, my wife and cousin both shot 3 from what we “agreed” was about 50 yards away (I still think it was farther). I marked mine with a “J”. Not too shabby for a gun that was only bore sighted at the store 

Target Practice

     Back to the food. After the ribs had been on for about 2.5 hrs, I took them off, wrapped them in foil along with some beer, and put them back on the smoker to continue cooking. I also fired up the pit for some chicken. We had two bone in chicken breasts and 6 chicken quarters that I rubbed down with Cluck and Squeal (nice rub out of Canada that is made by some very nice folks) and they went over our mesquite fire.

Chickens on the grill

    The chicken took longer than I thought it would and had to be shuffled around to keep it from burning due to flare ups. Was quite a workout, but it was well worth the effort.

Chicken's done

       The ribs ended up being done at pretty much the same time as the chicken.

Ribs are done

     All this was served up with some of my M-I-Laws home-made potato salad and a big ole pot of pinto beans. Once again, no plated up pics as we were starving by this point, but just from the meat alone you can tell we eat good while we are down on the ranch.

     We had a really great time celebrating New Years with friends and family down at the ranch, many unforgettable new memories, but Monday morning came and it was time to pack up and head back to the Big D. Can’t wait to get back down there again.

2011 In Review For Griffin’ Grub!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for Griffin’s Grub.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,300 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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