Posts tagged ‘Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom’

Smoked Cajun Turkey

Smoked Cajun Sausage

     Last year, right before Thanksgiving I got a FREE 18.5 lb turkey. Yeah, you read that right…FREE! I hadn’t planned on it. I wasn’t expecting it. It was one of those promotional deals where you go to store and spend X amount of dollars and you get a free turkey. Honestly, I wasn’t even aware of it till the checker informed the lady in front of me that she had spent over X amount of dollars and was entitled to one. No, I was just there to get some groceries, just a routine trip.

     When it was time to ring up my groceries, I think I might have been short a bit of X, and might have had to throw in a pack of gum or a Coke or something to bring up the total. The checker lady told me I was also entitled to a 15 lb turkey. So I wander back to where they have the turkeys and I’m digging through the pile. Low and behold, there are no more 15lb turkeys. So I inform an employee and he tells me to just grab the smallest one I could find. And that is how I got an 18.5 lb turkey for FREE, and ever since then its been sitting in my freezer taking up a whole shelf all by itself.

    Which is something Mrs. G has not been all that happy with. She kept asking me, “When are you going to cook that thing?” and “Can you get that thing out of the freezer? It’s taking up too much room.” To which my response had been, “We’re busy this weekend” or “Who are we going to invite over? We can’t eat that thing alone” or my favorite “It’s Friday night, there is no way we can thaw that by tomorrow.” At least, that’s how I remember it, I maybe wrong. Well, this past weekend, we finally had the time, the motivation and more importantly….I remembered to pull it out of the freezer early enough for it to thaw out by the weekend.

Starting the Brine

     I’d like to take a moment and thank The Hunting Chef, a blog I just found in the last couple of weeks, for responding to my request for a recipe for a brine. He’s got a very interesting blog, and if you are interested in hunting or bbq, I’d highly recommend you check him out (even though he can’t figure out how to cook a brisket. We’ve had many comments back and forth about that one. ;) )

The Hunting Chef’s Brine

3 gallons of water

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of salt

1/2 cup soy sauce

5 dry bay leaves

1 onion, quartered

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp black pepper

3 chopped garlic cloves

an orange can be substituted/added in addition to the onion

     Boil 1/2 gallon of water. Add ingredients and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the remaining water and allow to cool. Once cool, add your turkey (or chicken or other poultry) and allow to brine for 24 hours in a refrigerator or well iced down ice chest. A useful tip – fill a Zip-lock bag (I used a quart sized one) with water. Placing this on top of the turkey will prevent if from floating and will keep it submerged.

      So why brine a turkey (or any kind of poultry. Or pork or seafood for that matter)? Brining is a process that adds moisture and flavor and helps it to keep it from drying out due to the processes of diffusion, osmosis and the denature of protein strands. Sounds complicated right? It’s not, as long as you remember your chemistry from school. You do remember those terms, right? No? OK, I could probably explain it better to you, but this is already going to be a long post, there are hundreds of sites out there that can do a better job of it and most of you probably don’t care about the how and why’s of it. You just want to know that it works. Let me tell you….it does. It is worth the extra steps taken to ensure that you get a moist, flavor-full and tender turkey.

Turkey taking a 24 hour bath in brine

     After brining for 24 hours (or 10 to 12 if you are short on time, but I would recommend 24), remove your bird from the brine and wash it off completely. Now, we all know that breast meat has a tendency to dry out. There is one main reason for that. Breast meat needs to be cooked to a lower temperature than the dark meat (165 vs about 185). But I’ve got a trick up my sleeve for that. Take a large Zip-lock bag, fill it with ice and place it on top of the breast. Now allow your bird to begin to come to room temperature on the counter. 20 or thirty minutes should be good, but no more. The ice will keep the breast cool, while the legs and thighs begin to warm up a bit more thereby evening out the cooking time.

     After about 20 minutes or so, it’s time to start injecting your bird. You did see this is a Cajun turkey right? So we went ahead and used a Cajun style injection to give it some of that flavor. For this bird, we used Tony Chachere’s Butter and Jalapeno injection. Don’t worry, it’s not hot, but you can also use their Creole Style Butter if you are worried.

Injecting the Bird

     You want to inject the bird all over, the breasts, legs, thighs and wings. I think we ended up using a bit more than one container, but this was a big bird. Make sure to move the injection needle around while simultaneously injecting and pulling the needle out to ensure that the injection is spread out and not left in one big pocket. When the injection starts to leak out, you’ve used enough in that area.

    After injecting, liberally apply a Cajun seasoning to the whole bird. You may use one that you blend yourself, but for this bird we used Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom. If you don’t have that, Tony Chachere makes one that will work as well.

     To cook this turkey, we set it up on a 350F Egg with the placesetter legs up, a drip pan to catch the drippings and the grid on top. Even though we are smoking this turkey, the traditional method of using 250 F as a temperature does not apply. Turkeys do not have the fat and collagen like a brisket or butt, and do not benefit from those low temperatures. Plus, the skin would be rubbery and nasty afterwards. No, 350F works great and will give you a crisper skin. For this cook, we choose to use cherry wood. Poultry readily absorbs smoke, so you do not want to use a stronger wood like hickory or mesquite. Any fruit wood would work nicely.  (If using other types of grills/smokers, you want to make sure your turkey is not over coals or flames and that the smoker is heated to 350. You may need to rotate your bird halfway through the cook to ensure it cooks evenly).

Going on the Egg, legs and thighs pointed toward the back of the Egg as this seems to be a hotter area and will help it cook evenly.

     When cooking a turkey at 350F, figure on about 15 minutes a pound. So using those numbers, I figured our turkey should take about 4 hours and 40 minutes. Figure in about a 20 minute rest period after pulling from the grill, determine when you want to eat dinner and do your math from there to figure out when you need to put it on. We started our as 2, and planned on cutting by 7 and eating by 7:30 latest (just in time for the Spurs game).

3 hours in, getting nice and brown, rotated a bit out of boredom.

     Awhile later, some of our guests showed up bringing with them some jalapeno cheese venison sausage, jalapeno venison sausage and some boudin. Those immediately joined the turkey on the Egg.

Sausage joining the turkey on the Egg

     This is where things started to unravel a bit. The turkey was almost done, but the red beans and rice had not yet been started. Big Matt had volunteered to make the red beans and rice and was supposed to come over around 1ish to start them. Seems like somebody had to take a nap instead. (You knew I was gonna give you a hard time, Matt). So when the turkey was done, I wrapped it in aluminum foil and placed it inside a cooler lined with towels to keep it warm until we would be ready (also works well with brisket and butts, just so you know).

Carving the turkey

     When beans and rice were done, we began to carve up the turkey. Look how moist and juicy it is.

Did I grow an extra hand?

     The turkey looked so good, we couldn’t even wait to plate it up.

Me and Big Matt diving in

     Unfortunately, we were so hungry or just plain forgot, but we didn’t get any plated up pictures with Mrs. G’s dressing, or Big Matt’s red beans and rice. For this being my 6th turkey (3 previously fried) and this only being the second one I have done on the Egg, I must say it was my best and I think a large portion of that is due to the brine. Or the injection. Or the Egg. Take your pic, either way this was some good eats. Moist, juicy, tender. No way an oven baked turkey could even come close.

     And with only 5 of us eating on it, there are still plenty of leftovers. Check back later this week to see how Mrs. G cooked up some Turkey Tetrazini on the Egg all by herself Sunday night.

 

If you can’t find Dizzy Pig  Swamp Venom locally, you can find it here on Amazon.

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoing and Jalapeno Butter Injection

Shrimp En Brochette

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage

     I’m a little bit behind. You see…this meal was actually cooked last Thursday night, but some moron I went and left the card from my camera at home Friday and then the weekend came and you know how that goes. But I am finally getting around to posting about it.

     Across the country, the weather is getting nice. Yards are turning green, flowers are blooming and men are dragging their grills out of storage and cleaning off the patio furniture. If you follow this blog at all, though, you know our Egg never gets put away. No, we pretty much grill and barbecue year round, in good and bad weather. But our flowers are starting to bloom.

Flowers in Bloom

     After seeing BigTex33 post his Brochette Shrimp on The Egghead Forum last week, I knew I was going to have to cook some up. Shrimp is good, but bacon wrapped shrimp stuffed with pepper jack cheese and a sliver of jalapeno? Common! What is not to like about that? Mrs. G and I grew up eating these at Water Street Oyster Bar in Corpus. They used to be called Shrimp en Brochette there (now they are called Mesquite Grilled Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Shrimp). You can also find them at Pappadeaux or Pappasito’s where they are simply called Shrimp Brochette. Or you could just make them up at home, they are simple to do and you’d save yourself a bunch of moolah.

     So what does brochette mean? It’s a  French word that means skewered or on a spit. Whether they are called Shrimp En Brochette, Shrimp Brochette or Brochette Shrimp, I don’t know. Call them what you will, I’m not going to argue with you as long as you don’t try to steal one off my plate.

Prepping the Shrimp

     The first thing you want to do is get the biggest possible shrimp you can find. Wish I would have done that, but I just pulled some out of the freezer. I think they were in the 31-35 range (Large) which would give you exactly what it says….31 to 35 shrimp per pound.

     Next, you are going to want to butterfly the shrimp by carefully cutting through them until they lay flat. Make sure not to cut all they way through. If not already done for you, remove the sand vein ( a euphemism for the digestive tract or poop shoot, not good eats at all).

     Now, you will want to place a sliver of jalapeno and a slice of pepper jack cheese inside the shrimp. How big a slice will depend on the size of your shrimp.

Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon

     Once you have stuffed your shrimp, it is time to wrap in bacon….almost. First, you are going to want to slice your bacon in half and then you are going to want to pre-cook it. I did this by sticking it in the microwave for about a minute and a half. How long is going to depend on your microwave, but you want the bacon to still be pliable so you can wrap it around your shrimp. This is a very important step. Shrimp cooks much faster than bacon, so if you want them done at the same time, better pre-cook that bacon. Wrap that pre-cooked bacon around the shrimp and then either secure it with a toothpick or you can use some skewers and do a few shrimp per skewer.

     After wrapping and skewering your shrimp, I recommend sprinkling some of you favorite Cajun seasoning on top. I used Swamp Venom from Dizzy Pig, but Tony Cachere’s or other brands will work out just as well. At this point, you can grill the shrimp or return them to the refrigerator until you are ready.

     You might have noticed that there are only 10 Shrimp En Brochettes there. And you might be thinking “That can’t be enough for you and Mrs. G.” Well, you are right, but I ran out of bacon. Whoops. So I took some more shrimp, dumped on some Zesty Italian Seasoning and a healthy tablespoon or two of Cajun seasoning and then let them marinade for about 2 hours. What no pictures? Common, it’s a pretty simple way to prep shrimp and I’m sure you have seen it or done it before. Not very interesting.

     But I did get some corn and prepped it in a way I thought was pretty cool.

Corn Soaking Away

     Not real sure where I got this idea. When I grill corn, I usually like to soak it….if I have the time and don’t forget. I think I remember my dad saying one time, that if you soak corn in milk (or maybe he said boil it, I’m not sure) that it would be sweeter. We just happened to have some cream in the fridge, so I thought why not. I used about 1/4 to a 1/3 a cup of cream, about a 1/4 cup of sugar and then filled the bowl with water. Added the corn to it and let it soak for about 2 hours (this time I had plenty of time). Halfway through, I thought to myself “You should have soaked half and left half alone so that you could compare” but by then it was too late.

Corn and Andouille Sausage

     I set up my Egg for a direct cook and heated it up to 350F (about medium), and started grilling the corn by itself, as it would take the most time. After about 5 minutes or so, I added the sausage.

Grillin’ Away

     Next came the Shrimp En Brochette and some French bread slathered in butter and garlic and parsley. I figured these shrimp would take longer to cook than the plain marinated ones due to the bacon.

Everything Gettin’ Happy, Happy, Happy!

    After a few minutes, the remaining shrimp were added. Shrimp cook fast, so keep an eye on them. A few minutes a side and they are done.

Done!

     Such a simple and tasty meal.  The Shrimp En Brochettes were awesome. The bacon got done at the same time as the shrimp due to pre-cooking it. The jalapeno added just a touch of heat. Seemed like most of the cheese was lost, so maybe I’ll use bigger slices next time.  I will definitely use bigger shrimp. These worked ok, but definitely don’t go any smaller. The corn was fan-tabulous. It tasted fresh and sweet. I don’t know if that was due to the soaking in the cream/water/sugar mixture or if it was just good corn. It’s got me curious and next time I will do half in and half regular so we can do a comparison.

Plated up

     I can see us doing more of these this summer. Once I plated it all up and tasted some, I thought to myself “This kind of reminds me of a shrimp boil…minus the boil! And the taters (which I really don’t care for anyway)” Writing this up has got me hungry again. Wish I had a few more right now to nibble on.

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….

Shrimp On The Barbie!

Grilled Shrimp

     Friday, I asked Stacie what she wanted for dinner that night. She suggested shrimp, since she was in the mood for something healthy and something that wouldn’t take too long to prepare and grill as we had a lot of packing and cleaning to do so we will be ready for our move. On the way home from work, I stopped and picked up about a pound of 16-20 sized shrimp and some asparagus to go along with it.

     I haven’t used this technique in a while because it’s an extra step in the prep process and usually I use some kind of grill pan, but tonight I decided to make asparagus rafts. All it involves is “spearing” your asparagus with two toothpicks. This allows you to more easily flip your asparagus as you grill them and prevents you from losing any between the grate. I find the best way to accomplish this is to lay them horizontally side by side and insert the tooth pick through the asparagus parallel to your counter. Not to hard, just take your time and try not to break your asparagus.

Asparagus Rafts

     I seasoned them up with some canola oil, sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and some red pepper flakes and threw them on to a preheated grill pan on the Egg at 350 F.

Asparagus Rafts on the Egg

     As the asparagus takes longer to cook than shrimp, they went on first. Meanwhile, the shrimp had been taking a swim in some Italian dressing, onion and garlic powder and a bit of Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom (told you we love this stuff). I took them out of their pool, applied more Swamp Venom to give them a nice bit of heat and then they joined the asparagus on the Egg.

Shrimp on the barbie

      Make sure that when you throw the shrimp on, that you aren’t going to have any distractions. Shrimp cooks fast and quickly goes from a succulent treat to rubbery nastiness, so keep a close eye on them. When they begin to firm up and turn pink they are done.

Finished

      While I was outside getting the Egg ready to go, Stacie had started some rice to go along with it, but instead of using the called for amount of water, she substituted fat-free, low sodium chicken broth. I’ve heard of that trick on Food Network before, but had never tried it. Let me tell you, it really does transform your ordinary, boring rice into a tasty side dish. I served this all up with some home made cocktail sauce, no jarred stuff for us. This was a very easy to prepare and healthy dinner, and although we didn’t get a lot of packing or cleaning done, we were able to sit down and enjoy a movie together.

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