Cream of Jalapeno Soup

Cream of Jalapeno Soup
Cream of Jalapeno Soup

     We’ve been on a little bit of a soup kick lately at the Griffin household. Not really sure why. It hasn’t really been cold enough, but for some reason we’ve just been craving it. This week, Mrs. G wanted to try and recreate a cream of jalapeno soup from the Blue Quail Deli  located the quaint downtown district of Goliad, Texas. She’s tried to make a few different versions over the years. Some closer than others, but I think she nailed it with this one. I’ll hand the blog over to her so she can tell you all about it.

Starting with the cheese
These are the cheeses we used

     “There’s a great deli called The Blue Quail in Goliad, Tx, where our family ranch is and they make a dynamite cream of jalapeño soup.  It’s a bowl of spicy, cheesy goodness that I must have when I’m in town.  My mom, sister and I love to go shopping at the cute downtown square and stop in for a light lunch…especially during fall and winter because this soup really warms you up on a cold day!  We’ve been going there for years and we usually buy a quart of soup to take home with us for later.  That’s how good it is!

     It’s been my goal to replicate their recipe and I think I finally have….Well, I’m pretty darn close anyway.  The Blue Quail soup packs more of a punch in the heat department…too much in my opinion.  I would probably use the seeds of one or two jalapeños next time but not enough that I need a tissue while eating it like I do with their soup.  The great thing is you can control the heat level to your tastes.

     Mr. G and I will be at the ranch over Thanksgiving and Christmas so I do plan on stopping by The Blue Quail and grilling them on their famous Cream of Jalapeño soup.  They don’t like to give away any secrets, that’s for sure.

     Enjoy!”

Couple of veggies (we only used 4 of the 5 jalapenos)
Couple of veggies (we only used 4 of the 5 jalapenos)

     Allright, I’m back now and I know what you are probably thinking. 5 jalapenos? Wouldn’t that be a spicy soup? We actually only used 4 and once you remove the seeds and membranes, you’ve removed a majority of the heat. This soup was not spicy at all. In fact, we ended up adding some cayenne, ancho and chipotle powder to add extra heat. Let’s get on with the recipe, now.

This is the consistency you are looking for with you carrots
This is the consistency you are looking for with you carrots

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of an onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 jalapenos
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock (two fourteen ounce cans)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 oz Gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 8 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp all purpose flour (=1 for thickening, if needed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional seasonings: cayenne, chipotle chile pepper powder and/or ancho chile powder
The jalapenos and onion take their turn in the food processor
The jalapenos and onion take their turn in the food processor

Directions

  1. Grate about two cups of cheese,around 16 oz (We’ve talked about using pre-shredded cheeses before. They are coated with “stuff” to prevent them from clumping in the bag. This “stuff” also prevents them from melting smoothly and will cause your soup to be grainy. Do NOT use pre-shredded, especially in this soup).
  2. Cut the tops off the jalapenos and remove the seeds and veins. Roughly chop up the jalapenos, carrots and onion.
  3. Toss the carrots into a food processor and pulse until you reach the consistency in the above picture. Remove the carrots into a skillet and repeat the process with the jalapenos and onion. Add 1 Tbsp of butter and 1 Tbsp of olive oil and saute on medium heat until they soften.
  4. In a large stockpot, melt 3 Tbsp of butter over medium heat. Add the 3 Tbsp of flour 1 Tbsp at a time, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes. You should have a light blonde roux at this point.
  5. Slowly add in the chicken stock and heavy cream, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  6. Stir in the shredded cheeses and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

    A little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese always makes things taste better.
    A little bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese always makes things taste better.
  7. Next, add in the sautéed vegetables (Do not be alarmed as the soup turns a yellowish color at this point. That is expected). 

    I know I said to saute the veggies in a skillet. Do as you are told, not as I do. ;)
    I know I said to saute the veggies in a skillet. Do as you are told, not as I do. 😉
  8. Once, the veggies have been stirred in, cover the pot and turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for at least one hour. After an hour, adjust seasonings to taste.

    Adjust seasoning to taste after one hour.
    Adjust seasoning to taste after one hour.

     After an hour, we gave the soup a stir and noticed it had thickened up nicely. If yours still seems a bit runny, you can add another Tbsp of flour. We gave it a taste and found it to be surprisingly mild, not like the soup at the Blue Quail which can be down right too spicy on some days. To adjust, we added in a dash of cayenne and about an 1/8 tsp each of chipotle and ancho chile powder. That seemed to do the trick.

Cream of jalapeno soup served up with ham and cheese panini sandwiches
Cream of jalapeno soup served up with ham and cheese Panini sandwiches

     Soups aren’t always the most photogenic, so you are going to have to trust me on this one. This is one killer soup. Creamy and spicy. The sweetness of the carrots add a bit of a cooling factor to offset the heat. A perfect soup to warm the body on a cold and stormy night (not that it was cold or stormy the night we made this, I’m just imagining it). If soup isn’t enough to fill you up, serve it up with a sandwich or a Panini just like they do at the Blue Quail. And if you ever find yourself in Goliad, stop by the Blue Quail, try their Cream of Jalapeno Soup and let me know how you think it compares to our version.

Advertisements

Barbecue Pork and Pepper Jack Twice-Baked Potatoes

Pulled Pork Twice-Baked Potato
Pulled Pork Twice-Baked Potato

     So, you smoked too much pulled pork? I don’t call that bad planning. Hell, I call that good planning!! You went through all that effort and time to cook the perfect pulled pork, who wouldn’t want some for leftovers? Truth be told, if I’m going through all that effort to cook a pork butt, I’ll go ahead and cook two. It doesn’t take anymore time, effort or charcoal and it freezes beautifully.

     What to do with all that extra pulled pork? We’ve covered Pulled Pork Nachos before.  You could always do Pulled Pork Tacos or Pulled Pork Quesadillas. But we were looking for something a bit different for last night’s dinner.

The lowly potato.
The lowly potato, often overlooked and underestimated.

     So we were sitting around brainstorming, when Mrs. G ran across a recipe for Twice-Baked Potatoes Four Ways in the November 2013 issue of Southern Living. Pulled pork? Pepper jack cheese? Sounded like a winner to me.

Potato Filling
Potato Filling

Barbecue Pork and Pepper Jack Twice Baked Potatoes

(adapted from Southern Living, November 2013, p.126, serves 8)

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 4 oz 1/3 less-fat cream cheese, cubed and softened (1/2 of an 8 oz package)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups chopped barbecue pork (about 1/2 lb)
  • 6 oz pepper jack cheese + 2 oz for garnish
  • 1/3 cup minced green onions + more for garnish
  • 3 tsp Ranch Dressing Mix
  • your favorite barbecue sauce (we used Stubb’s BBQ Sauce)
Ready For The Oven
Ready For The Oven

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400° and line the bottom rack of your oven with aluminum foil. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork. Rub potatoes with canola oil and sprinkle on coarse sea salt. 
  2. Bake directly on oven rack 1 hour or until potatoes reach 210F. (Baking directly on the rack keeps skins crisp and firm to hold the filling.) Cool 10 minutes.
  3. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise; carefully scoop pulp into a large bowl, leaving shells intact.
  4. Mash together potato pulp, cream cheese, milk, chopped barbecue pork, 6 oz pepper jack cheese (1.5 cups), green onions and Ranch dressing mix.
  5. Spoon mixture into potato shells, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with remaining pepper jack cheese (.5 cup).
  6. Bake at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated and cheese is melted.
  7. Top with your favorite barbecue sauce and green onions if desired.
After baking 15-20 minutes
After baking 15-20 minutes

     Did you know that 210 is the perfect temperature for baked potatoes with a crisp and golden skin and light and fluffy on the inside? I had heard that before, but never paid much attention to it. I’ve just always baked my potatoes as 400F for an hour. A few weeks ago, Mrs. G went out with some of her girlfriends and I stayed in and grilled a steak and baked a potato. Now, I know that my oven temperature is a little off on the low side, but I figured an hour would be fine. Not so much it turns out. The potato was way undercooked. Last night, I used a thermometer and one hour was not long enough. Two potatoes took an hour and ten minutes and two of them took an hour and fifteen minutes. I always say cook meat to temperature, not time. I guess I should start applying that to other foods as well.

When finished, drizzle a little barbecue sauce on top and garnish with green onions.
When finished, drizzle a little barbecue sauce on top and garnish with green onions.

 Twice-baked potatoes of any kind are a wonderful side. And one of the great things is that they can be made ahead of time. Just prepare the potatoes through Step 5 and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them for the second time. Or you can freeze them for later. Just place in the freezer for one hour until firm and then place in a Zip-lock bag or vacuum seal them. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight when you are ready to eat them. Then bake at 45 minutes at 350F or until hot.

Could be served as a side, but we made them as our entree.
Could be served as a side, but we made them as our entrée.

     As I said, these could be served as a side, but with the chopped pork they made a perfectly filling entrée for us. They were smooth and creamy and had a subtle hint of smoke from the pork shoulder. The sweetness of the pork was offset nicely by the faint heat from the pepper jack cheese. And the tang from the bbq sauce was a nice addition to the taters. what else can I say but these twice baked potatoes were out of this world good. The next time you cook too much pulled pork and are looking for something to do with it, I hope you remember these twice baked potatoes and give them a try and let me know what you think.

     Don’t think you have to stick to this exact recipe either. I’ve already got ideas running through my mind about how to incorporate leftover barbecue chicken or chopped beef into the next batch of twice baked potatoes. Maybe some different cheeses? Maybe adding in some vegetables? The sky is the limit with what you can do with these babies..

Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup

Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup
Smoked Ham and Cheddar Soup

     Soups…not something we’ve covered very much here on Griffin’s Grub. It’s not that we don’t make them, we do quite a lot of them. They are cheap, filling and warm the body and soul. Even  better, they are a great way to get rid of use leftovers. Like that Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham we cooked this past weekend. This is a simple soup that you can have ready in 30 minutes, yet still pack a ton of flavor. Creamy, cheesy and just a little bit smokey from the ham (don’t worry, it’s not too much). Perfect for the cooler months coming your way. And don’t worry if you haven’t smoked a ham for leftovers. Any ham will do.

Boil potatoes, onions and carrots until softened.
Boil potatoes, onions and carrots until softened.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced peeled potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sliced carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the potatoes, water, carrot and onion. Bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 10-15 minutes or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add the milk, salt and pepper.

    Making a simple bechamel sauce.
    Making a simple bechamel sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Stir in cheese until melted.

    Add cheese to the bechamel sauce.
    Add cheese to the bechamel sauce.
  6. Stir into undrained potato mixture.

    It's all coming together now.
    It’s all coming together now.
  7. Add ham and peas; heat through.
    Entering the final stretch, adding in the ham.
    Entering the final stretch, adding in the ham.

    That wasn’t too hard, now was it? I told you it would be easy.

Nothing warms the body like a bowl of steaming soup.
Nothing warms the body like a bowl of steaming soup.

     Super simple, cheap and fast to get on the table, but not lacking in flavor. Perfect for a weekday cook and using up those leftovers. If you are looking for a soup to cook as the weather starts to get cooler, look no further.

Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham

HEB Spiral Sliced Ham
HEB Spiral Sliced Ham

     Not much of a recipe today, more of a technique for how to smoke a ham. Now, I don’t no why we don’t cook hams more often, but for whatever reason, we don’t. And as far as I can recall, this is the first one we’ve ever done on the Egg. It’s not like they are hard. And they don’t take too long. I guess we don’t do them often because we don’t have enough people to eat on them.

Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham
Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham

     This past week, Mrs. G mentioned that she didn’t want traditional BBQ type food for the Texas Oklahoma game. No traditional meats, no bbq sauces and especially no potato salad or cole slaw. So we started brainstorming and she decided she wanted a ham. I wanted a plain, smoked ham (aka naked ham which we might cover later this year), but Mrs. G wanted a spiral sliced honey cured ham from HEB. What Mrs. G wants, Mrs. G gets. Happy wife, happy life. If you aren’t from Texas and don’t have an HEB or Central Market near you, just go with whatever brand your store carries.

Spiral sliced ham
That is one pretty ham, don’t ‘cha think?

     These hams are already pre-cooked, so in reality, you aren’t cooking them. You are simply warming them up. So why bother to warm them up on the Egg or smoker? To introduce more smoke, of course! When you are ready to smoke your ham, set up your smoker for an indirect cook and stabilize it at 300F. We used the Adjustable Rig from the Ceramic Grill Store with the large oval stone (wrapped in foil for easier clean up) on the bottom level and the oval grate on the third level. If using the Big Green Egg plate setter, I would use it legs up with the original grate setting on top of that. For smoke, we decided to go with two small chunks of cherry wood and a handful of hickory.

Excuse the blurry picture.
Excuse the blurry picture.

     Allow the ham to warm up to 145F. Let me say once again, that the ham is already pre-cooked. You are just introducing smoke to it and warming it up. Once it reaches 145F, it is done. Our ham weighed in somewhere between 9 and 10 lbs and took about 2.5 to 3 hours to cook. If you are done early (which we were), simply wrap the ham in aluminum foil. Get a small cooler and line it with old towels (not the ones that are for guest or you will end up sleeping on the couch), place the ham in the cooler and place a few more towels on top of it. This will give you time to finish up your sides, or sit down and enjoy a cold beverage and hopefully watch your team whip up on their opponents. Two hours later, the ham will still be too hot to handle with bare hands, believe me.

     Once you are ready to eat, feel free to use the included glaze or make one of your own up if you are so inclined. Mrs. G took one bite of the ham and told me to forget about glazing it, that it was that good by itself. Happy wife, happy life.

     If you are looking for sides, nothing goes better with a ham than black eye peas, cornbread and maybe some scalloped potatoes and greens. That would be for another post, however.

     And once you are done eating and all the dishes are taken care of, feel free to pat yourself on the back, pour another cold one and enjoy what’s left of you day. You’ve earned it.

I love this time of year. Football and cool weather. Does it get any better?
I love this time of year. Football and cool weather. Does it get any better?

     Hopefully, you didn’t invite to many people over and there will be plenty leftover for sandwiches the next day. I know we have pleny leftover. I wonder what we could do with that this week? Hmmm….

Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip

…and some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders

This past weekend, I headed down to our family’s ranch, The Dos Locos,  outside of Goliad, Texas for our annual Guy’s Dove Hunting Trip. Although this post does not really contain a recipe, I thought I’d share some pictures anyway (there is a link to the recipe for the  Smokey Pork Tenderloin Slider’s that I got from NibbleMeThis. You should really check out his blog.).

You may or may not know that I went to Baylor and am a huge fan. Hard to snap a picture while flying down I-35, but here’s the new stadium they are building right on the Brazos river. It will be sad to see Floyd Casey Stadium go, but its way past time that we got a new one. It should be ready for the 2014 season.

Baylor's New Football Stadium
Baylor’s New Football Stadium

The wife asked me to stop and get her a new Baylor shirt for the upcoming Homecoming game. While I was there, I spotted this. If anybody is looking for ideas for a Christmas present for me…

Chili Pot
Chili Pot

After hunting Thursday night (I got 2 dove, they weren’t really flying), it was time to pull out Old Faithful, my offset that retired down to the ranch after getting the Egg. On the menu was just some simple wings.

Old Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)
Ole Faithful (Brinkman Pitmaster or something like that)

It felt odd using charcoal briquettes. I haven’t used them since…ummm…I guess since the last time I was at the ranch. Felt good to fire the old lady up once again, though.

Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.
Chicken Wings indirect on the old offset with hickory for a touch of smoke.

Maybe it was the ambiance, being down at the ranch all by myself, no distractions, just a cold bourbon and coke in one hand and a book (actually a Kindle) in the other, or maybe I did something right, but these were the best wings I have put out in a long time. It wasn’t the recipe as I did them the way I always do. Just plain ole Buffalo Wings. The skin came out extra crispy, yet they were till moist and tender on the inside. Might sound sacrilegious, but better than any I’ve done on the Egg in a long time. I really don’t have any excuse as to  why I forgot to take a final picture. You’ve seen wings before, though, so I’m sure you will forgive me. Regardless, it was a good, quiet first night before everybody was scheduled to come in on Friday.

Fast forward to Saturday afternoon. I wanted to cook up something for lunch that would hold us through the evening hunt until we could get back, start a fire and grill steaks for dinner. Awhile back, I saw Chris of NibbleMeThis do some Smokey Pork Tenderloin Sliders on his blog and I knew it would be perfect (check out his blog for the full recipe). 

I started off with 4 yellow onions (he used Vidalia, but I couldn’t find them), sliced thin for carmelized onions. He did his on the grill and I was planning to as well, but at the last minute, just did them on the stove.

4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized
4 yellow onions, sliced and ready to be carmelized

Next up was the tenderloins.

I added in an extra step that was not on the original recipe. A quick brine. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add in 1/2 cup of salt, 1/8 cup of suagar, 8-10 peppercorns, a tsp or two of the rub you will using, a dash of sriracha and a few by leaves. Stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Add two cups of cold water and allow to cool. Place your tenderloins in a gallon Zip-lock bag and pour the brine in. Place in the refrigerator for 2 to 5 hours. Before smoking the tenderloins, drain the brine and rinse the tenderloins, before adding the rub. I used Salt Lick rub in lieu of what the orifginal recipe called for. Good, but it was a bit peppery. Would probably use a different rub next time.

Pork Tenderloins on the smoker
Pork Tenderloins on the smoker

He glazed his with a bacon honey mustard sauce. I was planning on doing that, but there was no honey to be found at the ranch, so mine got a glaze of bacon mustard sauce right at the end. Pulled at 140F. Sliced super thin, as thin as you can get it. Either use a really sharp knife, an electric knife or a kitchen slicer if you have access to one.

Slicing up the pork tenderloins.
Slicing up the pork tenderloins.

My plate up picture wasn’t the best, because I wasn’t sure I was even going to post anything about it, but at the last minute I figured what the hell. Served up on King’s Hawaiian Roll sliders, pork tenderloin, coleslaw, carmelized onions and bacon mustard sauce. This stuff was the bomb. Off the hook and the chain both. No, seriously…it was really freakin’ good.

Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?
Smokey Pork Tenderloins served up on the finest paper plates. Who wants to do dishes while on a hunting trip?

So good, I’ll probably serve it at the next Eggfest I attend. Or tailgate party. Heck, there’s still a bit leftover and I’m having it for lunch today and I’m still excited about it.

And just in case you wanted some proof that we did do some hunting, here’s a few I got. Ended up only getting 8 total. I’m telling you, they really weren’t flying, but I did take my oldest and best friend and saw him shoot his first dove. He was super excited and now I think he is hooked so it was all worth it. That about wraps it up for another successful Annual Guy’s Dove Hunting trip.

Two of my hall. Look for them in an upcoming post.
Two of my haul. Look for them in an upcoming post.