I feel bad that this year I won’t be helping out for Thanksgiving at all. I’ll be stuck at work (Don’t worry, I’ll get to my parents’ house in plenty of time for turkey and dressing and football.) The last few years I’ve been in charge of frying the turkeys, yes, plural turkeys, not to mention oven baked ones, at my wife’s family ranch. But this year I have to work so no fried turkey for us.
Not to feel left out, I thought I would share a post about a turkey I did last year for the Super Bowl, a Beer Can Turkey. Yep, that’s right….Beer Can Turkey! I know by now most of you have heard of beer can chickens and if you can do it with a chicken, why not do it with a turkey? You just have to find a big enough beer can….like a Foster’s….its Australian for Beer! (BTW you can also do it with a Cornish game hen on a small juice can)
I kept it pretty simple. Injected it with Tony Cachere’s Creole Butter and then rubbed it with Tony’s. Set it on a throne of Fosters and put it on the egg at 350 indirect with cherry wood for smoke (poultry absorbs smoke like a sponge, and cherry is a light wood that compliments it well). I used the placesetter with the legs up and then made a drip pan out of foil to catch the drippings, more to avoid a mess than any plans for gravy.
I was figuring it would take about 15 min a pound, so my 16 lb bird would be done in 4 hours. I was wrong. Took 3 hours. Oh well. Wrapped it up in foil, placed it in a cooler with some towels and made the long trek of about 4 blocks to my buddies house.
Everybody raved about how great the turkey was, saying it had great flavor and was so moist and juicy. I even had a guy tell me that he hated turkey but that he really liked mine. So I guess it was a success. I was a happy man, but to tell you the truth, I still prefer fried turkeys.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A few people have asked for the recipe for the sausage cheese balls that I made at the Plano Outlaw Eggfest two weekends ago, so I feel obliged to put it up here. It’s not a very complicated recipe, and you can find it all over the net in many different variations, but this was my spin on it. The sausage cheese balls (swamp balls) get their name from the Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom. I would say it most closely resembles a Cajun seasoning, but with more kick. A really great product that I highly recommend. http://www.dizzypigbbq.com/HTMLrubs/swampvenom.html )
2 packages of breakfast sausage (I use one regular and one hot)
1 and 1/4 cup Bisquick
4 cups (16oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2-4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2-4 tsp Dizzy Pig Swamp Venom, or other cajun seasoning
Vary the above 3 spices depending on your tolerance for heat. You can always make one “tester” and cook in a skillet over medium heat until temp reaches 160 to see if you have the right heat level. Remember, you can always add more spice, but you can’t take it away.
Preheat your grill to 375, allowing yourself room to cook indirect (or warm up your oven if you are cooking indoors)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until just blended. Shape into 1 inch balls. (You should be able to make 5 to 6 dozen sausage balls.)
Bake 12-14 minutes or until sausage balls reach 160.
Serve with toothpicks
The above recipe should make 72 sausage balls. If you figure 2 per person, that should be enough to feed 36.
A few people have asked me for some more information on how I made the fatties at the Plano Outlaw Eggfest, so that’s what I am going to attempt to do here. I am not taking credit for inventing this, I’m not sure who did, but it has been floating around the BBQ Forums and BBQ circuits for a while now. So what is a fattie? Basically, it is a roll of breakfast sausage that has been rolled out flat, filled with ingredients, rolled back up into a cylinder and may or may not be wrapped in bacon. Personally, I like to wrap mine in bacon, cuz you know the saying….
Start out with some breakfast sausage. I like Jimmy Dean, but that’s just preference. You can either go mild or hot, up to you, but this time I went with mild.
I have found that the best way to roll out the sausage so that you get a nice even rectangle and not make a mess is to place it into a one gallon zip-lock bag.
Try to get as much of the air out as you can while sealing it shut. Then, take a rolling-pin, or whatever you have handy, and flatten it out. It should fill up the bag. Try and get it as even as possible.
Next, take some scissors or a sharp knife and cut along three sides of the bag so that you can open it up and begin filling with your chosen ingredients. When making a fattie, your imagination is the limits. You have tons of cheeses you can choose from, add more meats, veggies or not. It’s all up to you and what you like. I’ve seen people make a breakfast version with scrambled eggs and cheese inside. I’ve seen a pizza version with pepperoni, mozzarella and marinara sauce. I have even seen one stuffed with hotdogs, chilli and cheese. So just find some ingredients you like to stuff it with.
Here, I decided to mix some cream cheese along with some extra sharp cheddar. I blended it up and applied it in an even layer to the fattie.
After spreading the cheese out, making sure to leave a good sized border so it could be rolled up later, I added my toppings. For this fattie, I went with some caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and some roasted red peppers.
Take an edge of the zip lock bag and roll it up like a huge roll of sushi. Then I took a butter knife and used it to make sure that the ends and the seam were sealed up so that none of my cheese would leak out.
At this point, you need to decide if you are going to wrap it in bacon. Of course I was going to. I took a whole package of bacon and made a bacon weave. I’m not going to go into details on that here, but you can go to youtube and find a video on how to do it better than I can describe.
I took the fattie and placed it on one edge of the bacon weave and then rolled it up in the porky goodness sushi style again.
The final step before going to the grill is to apply your favorite bbq rub. I’d tell you the one I used, but I honestly can’t remember now. It’s been a week. To cook, set up your BGE to 350 with the placesetter in as you want to cook this indirect.
I can’t tell you how long it took to cook these two fatties. I think it was about 2 hours. You want to make sure that your sausage is cooked to about 165 and that your bacon is nice and crispy.
Do not slice up immediately as all the cheese will leak out and leave you with a huge mess. To serve these up, we sliced them and served on King’s Hawaiian Rolls, but they can be eaten alone or with your favorite rolls or biscuits.
Hope that helps you create your own fattie. Thanks for looking, now go and fire up your grill or smoker this weekend and cook somethin’ up.
Stacie and I had the pleasure of meeting Big Al this past weekend at the Plano Outlaw Eggfest. Although he claimed he did not own a Big Green Egg, he and his wife were cooking up a storm and putting out some pretty tasty food. Big Al is a quite a character, a very funny guy indeed. And even though he does come from that maroon school that will soon be leaving the Big 12, we won’t hold it against him, although he did give my wife quite a bit of grief for her burnt orange shirt…..but I digress. Where was I? Oh yeah, Big Al….great guy who I would love to sit down and have a cold beer with while tending a barbecue pit. I’m sure he has tons of great stories.
At the Eggfest, he had plenty of rubs for sale, along with some spices and some hot sauces. Two of them caught my eye, the Mesquite Flavor and the Hell From Texas (of course those two did, I’m from Texas after all). Big Al explained to us his philosophy of rubs and let us know that his rubs were all natural, contained no preservatives and had no sugar or MSGs. That immediately caught my attention as a lot of rubs will add those last two as filler and some will be composed mostly of those. So it sounded like these would be a good quality, high flavor packing rub. I told myself, “Self, you should get some of these rubs before you leave and try them out.” And that is exactly what I did.
Now before we go any farther, let me share with you the story he has written on his bottles of rub:
“I just want to thank you for buying my products; I put a lot of love in every bottle. All my products are made with Texas pride and my passion to create the very best rubs and sauces for you. I blend my rubs with all-natural ingredients, no MSG or preservatives so you’re not eating anything you can’t pronounce! As a certified BBQ snob with 35 years of experience, my expertise in these matters are unmatched. I hope you enjoy my products!
Here’s to Texas, here’s to you, and here’s to the best dang barbeque you can make!”
One last thing before we get started (I know, I’m taking forever, aren’t I?) I just want to let you know that I do not work for Big Al, I am not getting paid for this by Big Al, I was not handed a large sum of money in a back alley for this review (or even a small sum), I am in no way affiliated with him or his product. In fact, outside of hearing about his product before Saturday, I have never met the man in my life. Ok, that’s the end of my disclaimer., now on to the review.
Yesterday afternoon, I was rooting around in the freezer, trying to figure out what I could throw on the Egg for dinner as she was feeling a bit n-egg-lected after being ignored all weekend. I came across a package of drumsticks and decided that sounded pretty good and it would be a great way to try out some of my new rubs that I got from Big Al. After the wifey got home, I fired up the BGE to 400 F so that we could grill up them legs. I decided to use some Ozark Oak Hardwood Lump Charcoal as it doesn’t seem to be as heavy a smoke flavor as my normal mesquite lump and I really wanted to taste the flavor of the rubs by themselves without any extra smokey flavor.
The package of the legs I found contained six legs, so three of them got rubbed down with the Mesquite Flavor and three got the Hell From Texas. Then on to the Egg they went in my hanging chicken rack that you might remember from an earlier post.
Sorry that pictures kinda dark. Our backyard isn’t lit up too well. Thankfully we’ll be moving soon. Now as I’ve said before, I don’t go much by time when I’m ‘cueing, but by temp and for chicken you want to go to at least 165 to be safe. On the Egg, you can go quite a bit higher and not dry out the chicken and get a nice crispy skin. These ones went to about 185-190 before I pulled them off, and man was that skin nice and crispy! (but not burnt)
Now we just need to whip up some sides real quick to round out the meal.
Stacie and I each took 2 legs that had the two different seasonings so we could get a taste of both and here is what we thought.
Stacie – Nice mesquite flavor. Not too overpowering. It was delicious.
Me- Had a hint of mesquite flavoring, but not overbearing. Would be great for a cook on a gas grill or an oven where you just can’t get that mesquite flavor from burning chips or chunks of mesquite. I would like to use it again with some mesquite wood to see how it turns out.
Hell From Texas
Stacie – Fantastic kick, but not overpowering. Full of flavor.
Me- Loved it. Had a nice heat to it without being too powerful. Got a little burn on the lips and developed a nice heat in the back of my throat. Looking forward to using this rub more to get a better idea of the flavor. My only complaint….I didn’t cook enough chicken. I still wanted more after I was done.
Big Al make a fantastic rub. It just might replace my old stand by go to rub. I would recommend it to anybody that likes bbq and is looking for a new rub to try. In fact, I can’t wait to get my hands on some of his Original Flavor and his South of Hell Hot Sauce….maybe the Chili Mix as well. Go out and get you some and let me know what you think.
You can see his full line of rubs and other products at his website