Italian Sausage Soup

     Here at Griffin’s Grub, we’re not all about grilling or bbq or cooking on the Big Green Egg. Sometimes we cook inside…whether its due to weather, or laziness or jut due to other circumstances.

Italian Sausage Soup
Italian Sausage Soup (pics added 7/10/14)

     Yesterday, we were scheduled to go look at a few houses. Yep, it’s moving time again. Stacie got a new job and now we are both commuting way to far, so we need to find a more central location to try to cut down on some of the driving. That, and we’ve just kinda gotten tired of and outgrown the house we are in now. So with a few houses to go look at, we knew we wouldn’t have the time to ‘cue up anything for dinner. Then it hit us, why not drag that ole crockpot out and see what we can come up with?

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Italian sausage (mild or hot, your choice)
  • 1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1  14.5oz can diced tomatoes (basil, garlic and oregano preferred)
  • 1  8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3  14oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta

Directions

  1. Brown Italian sausage in a large skillet along with onions and garlic. Drain off fat and set aside.
  2. In a 4.4 to 6 quart crockpot combine carrot and celery. Add in sausage mixture.
  3. In a medium bowl combine undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices. Pour tomato mixture into the crockpot.
  4. Cover and cook on low setting 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting 4 to 5 hours.
  5. If using low setting, turn to high heat setting. Stir in pasta. Cover and cook 20 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf and serve with french bread or garlic bread.
This is a hearty soup (pics added 7/10/14)
This is a hearty soup (pics added 7/10/14)

     This is a super easy, but flavorful dish that only takes about 20 minutes to prep and will serve 8 (or 6 hungry Texans) and its pretty healthy for you with only 250 calories and 13 g fat. Makes the house smell great as it simmers along all day and is a very comforting dish as the weather begins to cool off outside.

    Sorry, there are no pics. I forgot to grab the SD card out of the camera on my way to work today, but I’ll try to upload some tonight. Thanks for looking. (pics finally added on 7/10/14)

 

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Red Eye Express Pork Chops on the BGE

Stacie and I usually don’t cook a lot of pork chops. I’m not real sure why, but it just never occurs to us. Sunday, though, I got a craving for pork chops. We had to make a run to the store anyway, so I thought I would stop by the butcher and see what he had in stock. I was pleasantly surprised to see these pork chops. They were quite thick and priced pretty well.

Pork Chops

As you can see, these aren’t the normal pork chops you usually find already packaged and ready to go. Instead they were about 1.5″ thick!

 
These were about 1.5″ thick

 Since these weren’t the normal, skinny pork chops you usually find, I decided we needed to do something special with these ones. I decided to give them a brine to help them stay moist and not dry out. I used the Flavor Brine #1 from Thirdeye’s cookin’ site http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/, but added a few things of my own. ( I just can’t leave well enough alone)

Brine

  • 1 quart of water
  • 3 tbsp of Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp of sugar
  • about 20 or so whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp of your favorite bbq rub ( I used Stubb’s Rub)
  • 2 tsp of crab boil

I heated this brine up until it came to a boil and stirred until all the ingredients dissolved. Then I simmered it for about 5 minutes. After it cooled down, I placed it in a nonreactive bowl and placed in the refrigerator to sit over night. The pork chops would go into the brine after I got home from work for about 3 hours or so.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to season them up, but after scrounging around in the cabinet I came across some Dizzy Pig Red Eye Express, which is a coffee infused bbq rub. I haven’t used it awhile and decided it would compliment the pork nicely.

Got the Egg fired up with Official Cowboy All Natural Mesquite Lump and got it settled in at about 500 F. Then I took the pork out of the brine, rinsed it off, drizzled some oil on it and applied the rub. The chops went on the grill for about 10 minutes total, 2.5 minutes and then rotate 90 degrees, another 2.5 minutes and flip, 2.5 minutes and rotate another 90 degrees and let go for 2.5 minutes more. The last 4 minutes or so, I opened up the vents on the Egg and got it up to 600 F to get a really nice sear. When I mention times, you need to realize that it is  just a baseline. Always cook to temp, not time. When the pork got to 140, I pulled it and let it rest, knowing that it would continue to rise until it hit 145 which was my target goal. (the FDA recently changed the safe cooking temp of pork to 145, BTW)

Plated up

 We served the pork up with some mashed potatoes, peas and some apple sauce. I think that this might just have been the best pork chop that I have ever cooked or eaten in my life. Who knew that there was actually a taste and texture difference between the two different muscles found on a pork loin chop? Not me. ( I grew up eating over cooked pork chops and thought they were supposed to be dry and tough like shoe leather, sorry Mom, you were just following FDA guidelines.) From now on, whenever I want pork chops, you better believe I will be going straight to the butcher to get them and not picking up the thin pre-packaged ones you find in the meat section. What a difference it makes! Thanks for looking and make sure to leave a comment.

Empanadas

I wasn’t originally going to post about my attempt at empanadas because I didn’t “bake” it in my Egg. After working all day, making a stop by the grocery store, mowing the yard and having a severe allergy attack, going outside to light the Egg and cook on it really didn’t sound appealing to me. Yesterday, I stumbled across a site http://adashofdomestic.wordpress.com/ and saw Jamie’s blog about Chili Cheese Pies. They sounded good to me and we had some leftover chili in the fridge from the other night. I told her I was going to attempt these and asked her some questions, so I didn’t want to let her down and not try them. So instead of cooking them on the Egg, I cooked them in that oversized kitchen clock thing some people refer to as an oven.

Empanadas

 Ingredients

  • Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
  • one egg, beaten
  • stuffing of your choice
  1. Preheat your oven to 400.
  2. Remove pie crusts from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
  3. Cut the pie crusts into circles. 3″ would make a good appetizer, I went about 6″ since they were going to be for dinner.
  4. Place the stuffing in the center of your circle.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat half the edge of your circle with the egg wash and then fold the other side over.
  6. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the pastry shut.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, then apply a thin coat of egg wash to the empanadas and continue baking for another 5 to 8 minutes or until the empanadas are golden brown.

I think these turned out really well. Are they authentic? No, not really, but they are tasty. And you can stuff them any way you want to. Your limited only by your imagination. We made 6 with leftover chili and cheddar cheese, and the other four we did had some marinara sauce, turkey pepperoni (my wife likes these as they are healthier) and 4 blend Italian cheese. I can even see how they would make good desserts. I will definitely try them again on the Egg and will probably be cooking them November 5th at the Plano Outlaw Eggfest. Thanks for taking a look and I hope you enjoy and thank you, Jamie, for inspiring this dinner.

Grilled Chicken Sandwiches

Sometimes it’s nice to step back from the fancy, schmancy, creative meals and just fix a quick, simple and some what healthy meal. I was rooting through the freezer and came across some chicken breasts. Not my favorite thing in the world to cook and I’m always trying to figure out something to do with them. Today, we just felt like an easy grilled chicken sandwich would be the way to go.

I like to pound my chicken breasts to an even thickness, about 1/4″, before grilling them. I find that they cook faster and more evenly by doing this, and don’t dry out. I then seasoned them with a mixture of John Henry’s Texas Chicken Tickler and some Dizzy Pig’s Swamp Venom (very similar to Tony Cachere’s and other Cajun seasonings, but with more flavor and more of a kick.) Then I threw them onto the Egg along with some mesquite chips for some smoke.

Chicken going on the Egg

Today I was using a new lump charcoal…well new to me anyways. I’ve never had this problem before, but lately, as the so-called “grilling season” is coming to an end, the grocery stores have not been restocking their lump charcoal. (If I haven’t said this before, the Egg uses natural lump charcoal, not the briquettes like you find in that common blue bag, which has all kinds of fillers and additives and nasty chemicals) When I was in Alberston’s, I spotted this bag. I’ve seen it before, but never paid any attention to it. Being desperate for some lump and not wanting to drive way out to my nearest bbq store, I took a closer look. $5.99 for an 8lb bag….that’s not to bad, so in the cart it went. ( I will tell you that I am quite happy with it and will be stocking up on it, just in case Albertson’s quits carrying it as we go into winter)

Official Cowboy's Lump

 Ok, so chicken’s on the Egg. Time for a little adult beverage.

Bloody Mary's

 After about 5 minutes, it was time to flip

Halfway Point

I tend to like a bit more heat to my food than my wife, and I like the taste of wings, so I decided to baste my breast with some wing sauce I had on hand. This stuff is not for the faint of heart…or tastebuds.

Crazy Uncle Jester’s Wing Sauce

Once the chicken was almost done, we sprayed some hamburger buns with Pam and through them on the grill to get toasty warm. You can see my breast on the top of the picture, with the red color from the wing sauce.

Almost Done

 We topped the chicken with some provolone cheese while it was still on the Egg so it would melt and then plated it up inside with some veggies and bacon. Everything’s better with bacon, right?

Ready to eat

Not the most fancy meal in the world, but sometimes simpler is better and it only took about 10 minutes to prepare.

First Foray Into Dessert

     When I first heard about the BGE, I heard what a wonderful cooker it was, how it could cook anything from steaks and burgers to brisket to pizza to breads and desserts. On their website, BGE even says, “The EGG is a unique barbecue product, with unmatched flexibility and capabilities that surpass all other conventional cookers combined. It is a smoker, a grill and an oven and you can cook literally any food on it year round, from appetizers to entrees to desserts.” Who wouldn’t want one cooker that could do anything?

     Even though I have seen people post up on various forums online, I have never tried to cook a dessert on the Egg before. Why is that, if it can do anything? My wife is one of those few rare people who just does not like sweets….at all…none…period. So we don’t cook or eat a lot of sweets. But every once in a while I still do get a craving. Who am I kidding? Just about every day I do.

     On Saturday, as I was at the store picking up some supplies to get us through the week, I started getting a craving. I spotted some Nestle Tollhouse cookies. You know the ones I mean….the ones where you break as many squares off as you want to cook. And they were on sale for a $1.79. And I had a coupon for a $1 off! (yes, I cut coupons, so what?) I figured this would be the perfect time to try to bake some cookies on the Egg to see if I would like them, or if the flavor of smoke would put me off. What did I have to lose? $0.79? Big deal. And if all went well, then I could try and make some home-made cookies another day.

Nestle Tollhouse Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

      So after cooking lunch Saturday on the Egg, I inserted the placesetter and the 3 little green feet that come with the Egg and made sure that the grill was stabilized at 375 dome, which would give a cooking level temperature of about 350 (that’s what the package of cookies said to use in an oven).

Halfway Through

      I couldn’t help myself and had to take a peak after about 4 minutes to see what was going on in there.

Just about done

      The cookies ended up taking about 12 minutes to get done, although the package claimed 8-9.

Done

      All in all, I think it turned out pretty good. I was using an all mesquite lump charcoal, so it did impart a hint of smoke to the cookies, but it wasn’t over powering and if anything was more of a lingering after note. If you don’t like smoke, I would suggest possible an oak lump charcoal and do not use any wood chips. I think I am definitely going to have to attempt some home-made cookies in the future….and maybe a pie….or a cake….anybody got any good recipes?