Just an Update

We’re still here. Still kicking. Been real busy at work, short staffed, working lots of weekends so I haven’t been posting much. That’s all about to end soon…hopefully.

Anyway, got home from work and had a package waiting for me. A Kick Ash Basket. Heard a lot of hype about it. Can’t wait to try it out. Supposed to make cleaning out your Egg easier and allows the Egg to get up to temp faster. We’ll see.

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Kick Ash Basket

One thing’s for sure, it’s Duke proof!!

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Kid tested

I’ll let ya know how it works and just so you know this product was paid for with my own hard earned cash. I have no connection to, affiliation with nor ever been in contact with this company.

Just to keep this food related, we did bring the Mini out of hibernation this weekend. Don’t think its seen any action since June I think.

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Jalapeno cheese sausages

Sunday, I was taking the large Egg apart to clean it out and install the Kick Ash Basket when I noticed this

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Cracked fire box

That’s a bummer, but I’ve already sent an e-mail to BGE this morning along with pictures and my replacement has been approved and as soon as it shows up to my local dealer (Elliot’s hardware in Plano), I’ll go pick it up. I’m sure there is still plenty of life left in this one, but the day it does break into a million pieces, I want to have a replacement on hand. Gotta love BGE and their lifetime warranty. 🙂

I guess the only other “Eggciting” thing to share is that Mrs. G gave me the go ahead to start working on a new table/outdoor cooking area for the Eggs. All I have is a rough sketch so far.

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Sidewalk chalk…not just for kids

Hopefully, we’ll have something a little more exciting to share with you shortly.

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Bratwurst Burgers

This past weekend, I was cleaning out the freezer and found some home made bratwurst (using this recipe) hiding in the back. This package of brats was in bulk form (ie wasn’t stuffed into casings) and I thought it would be perfect to make some burgers.  Now, if you don’t happen to have fresh, home made bratwurst in your freezer (I do feel sorry for you), then you can always grab some links from your grocery store, slice open the casings and form them into your own burgers. I happened to have a pound of bratwurst which was perfect to make 3 patties as I like my burgers around 1/3 lb each. Feel free to make your patties to whatever size makes you happy.

Bratwurst patties on the grill
Bratwurst patties on the grill

I set up my Egg for a direct cook around 500F. The bratwurst burgers were grilled for about 2 minutes, then turned 90 degrees, grilled another 2 minutes, then flipped and repeated on the other side. Grill until the temp reaches 160F (carryover will take it to 165F). Even though the FDA says pork is safe at 145F, with ground pork (ie sausage), I like to play it on the safe side, especially if I didn’t grind it myself and it’s store bought.

Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns
Bratwurst burgers on pretzel buns

I know pretzel buns are probably “so last year”, but while at the store getting some other things, I spotted them at my bakery for the first time. I’m not always the first to jump on every food bandwagon. Often times, I just watch it pass by and shake my head. Some of them make no sense to me, but pretzel buns with bratwurst burgers? Seemed like they were made for each other. Made me take a short trip down memory lane. Sitting at a biergarten in Germany. Drinking beer and snacking on pretzels and sausages.  Good times. Sorry. My minds started to wander there for a bit.

So how to top these bratwurst burgers? I decided to keep it simple. Some spicy, brown mustard and a bit of sauerkraut. And why not some more pretzels on the side and a cold beer to wash it down (not pictured)?

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

Taking a food that is normally eaten as a link and serving it in a burger form was different, to say the least. I mean I knew on a mental level what to expect it to taste like, but picking it up, it was like some kind of mental muscle memory kicked in and I almost expected it to taste like a burger. Like the eyes and sense of taste and mind just weren’t meshing up. It’s hard to explain. I think I had the same experience when we made King Ranch Mac and Cheese. I expected that to taste like Mac and Cheese, but then got all the flavors of King Ranch Chicken. Weird what the brain can do to you sometimes. Regardless, it was a pretty tasty burger/bratwurst burger. The only thing I think it was missing was some kind of cheese. What kind of cheese would you serve on a bratwurst burger?

Some Food Porn Pictures

We’ve been busy lately. No excuse for it. Haven’t had much time to work on recipes or post up new stuff and we’ve just been doing old things around here, but I thought I’d share some pictures anyway today. One thing we have been doing is homebrewing. This picture was a few weeks ago when we brewed up an Irish Red. Due to rain and cold weather, we had to brew in the garage.  

Brewing an Irish Red
Brewing an Irish Red

While we were working on the brew, we also had two rack of spare ribs going.

Spare ribs on the Egg
Spare ribs on the Egg

Sometimes you just get a craving for a good burger. These ones were 80/20 ground rib eye. If you can get ground rib eye rather than chuck, I’d suggest trying it.

Ground rib eye burger and ABTs
Ground rib eye burger and ABTs

We recently found thinly sliced brisket at a nearby Asian store. Picked it up not being sure what we were going to do with it. How about using it for ABTs instead of bacon?

Brisket wrapped ABTs
Brisket wrapped ABTs

In an effort to eat better, we pulled the wok out and did some stir fry on the Egg.

Shrimp stir fry
Shrimp stir fry

And how can you resist some leg quarters? Half rubbed with John Henry’s Texas Chicken Tickler and half with Salt Lick Rub.

Chicken leg quarters cooking indirect.
Chicken leg quarters cooking indirect.

Brush ’em with a little Lauren’s Spicy Sauce from Salt Lick and add some home made venison jalapeno cheese sausage.

Almost done.
Almost done.

Served up with some sautéed ‘shrooms and some kale. Um, Um good.

Dinner is served
Dinner is served

I’ll try and work on and finish up some new recipes this weekend to share with you this week. Unless March Madness ends up taking too much of my time. Sorry for the lack of new recipes lately. Hope this food porn will hold you over till then. Thanks for benig patient with us.

A Few Projects We’re Working On

We don’t have any new recipes to share with you today, but I thought I would give you an update on some of the things we are working on right now and some of the projects we will be taking on this year.

Often touted as the Bible when it comes to Charcuterie
Often touted as the Bible when it comes to Charcuterie

     A while back, and I don’t even know how long ago, I got a copy of Michael Ruhlman and Brian Poleyn’s Charcuterie. I had every intention to dive right in and make some home made bacon and Canadian bacon. You know what they say about the best of intentions? I pulled it off the bookshelf, dusted it off and have now committed myself to finally attempting some of those recipes.

Just about 5lbs of raw pork belly
Just about 5lbs of raw pork belly

     At some point, I must have mentioned to my brother, the other Mr. G, that I didn’t know where to find pork belly. He told me to try an Asian market. Later on, he brought me right around 5 lbs of pork belly which got dumped into the freezer and lost.

While I wish it was one solid slab, I'll work with tehe4 smaller ones I have now.
While I wish it was one solid slab, I’ll work with the 4 smaller ones I have now.

     Getting into Charcuterie was one of my New Year’s Resolutions. From what I have heard, store bought bacon does not even compare to the stuff you can make at home. It does require curing the meat for around 7 days with a basic cure of Kosher salt, sugar and Cure #1.

Ingredients for the Basic Cure
Ingredients for the Basic Cure

I’m thinking that since I am doing smaller slabs instead of one big slab and since there will be more surface area, the cure won’t take the full seven days. I’m hoping to pull it Saturday, rinse it, rest it overnight and cold smoke it on Sunday. We’ll see how that goes…

A Book Review!!
A Book Review!!

     The other thing I need to get underway is a book review of Sausage! by Johan Akerberg and Jesper Lindberg. The nice folks at Skyhorse Publishing contacted me back in November and offered me the opportunity to review this new book. Unfortunately, the holidays got in the way, but now that things are returning to normal, I’m looking forward to diving into it. They gave me permission to reprint two or three of their recipes, so I’ll be scouring the book looking for the ones that most appeal to me and I’ll share them with you. The pictures are very appealing so it might be hard to pick, but I’m leaning towards one of their pork sausages, a duck sausage (if I can find some duck) and possibly a seafood sausage.  They have one they call Moules de Mer, crab and lobster sausage with moules mariniere (a bowl of mussels) and French fries. I know Mrs. G will be a fan of that one.

Moules de Mer - I know Mrs. G is going to love this one.
Moules de Mer – I know Mrs. G is going to love this one.

     The authors have also included quick and simple recipes for sides (such as sauerkrauts, pickled red onions or German potato salads to name a few) and home made condiments (mustards, ketchups, curry sauces and more) to go along with each sausage. I am really excited to get started on some of these right away.

The Flame Boss
The Flame Boss

     Don’t think we’ve forgotten about the Flame Boss. We’ve used it a few times here and there and so far our initial impressions have been really postitive, but we are going to really put it through its paces now. Expect a thorough review of how it performs and what we like and/or don’t like about it.

     Along with dabbling in some Charcuterie and stuffing some sausages, we will strive to bring you new and fresh recipes this year including grilled foods, smoked foods and even some prepared solely in the kitchen. And we’ve got a few reviews that will be coming up early in the year of some new products that I am excited to try out. So that’s what we’ve got planned. As always, we love hearing from each and every one of you, whether it’s you sharing your opinions with us, offering us suggestions or asking questions. If you have any ideas or recipes that you would like us to try, feel free to tell us about them. If you have a recipe that you would like to share with us and possible see here on the blog, send it our way. We love interacting with you, so make sure to leave us a comment. Here’s to a bigger and better New Year in 2014!

 

Disclaimer: Michael Ruhlman and Brian Poleyn’s Charcuterie was purchased with our own hard earned dollars. We have had no contact with either of them or their publishers and have received no monetary compensation from them. The publishers of  Sausage! and the makers of  Flame Boss contacted us and sent us their products free of charge. There has been and will not be any monetary compensation from them for reviewing their products. We have always been and will continue to be a non-profit blog, doing it for the love of it and not in the pursuit of money.

Basic Meat Grinding, Part 3: Grinding Your Own Meat

Time to grind your meat
Time to grind your meat

     You’ve made it this far and now you are ready to grind your own meat…almost. What? There’s more? When do we get started grinding meat? Patience, Young Grasshopper. Remember, part of the reason you want to grind your own meat is for sanitation and safety reasons.

     Before you get started, you need to thoroughly clean your grinder and all your materials. This isn’t hard, but its a good habit to get into. Just soap, hot water and some scrubbing. Make sure to get in all those nooks and crannies, that’s where the “nasties” hide. Even though I clean all the parts of my grinder before I put it away after each use, I still like to clean it before using it again. Sometimes it sits dormant for months on end between uses. Call me anal or over cautious, doesn’t bother me, but it gives me a peace of mind. Once you start grinding your own meat, you tend to start cooking your burgers a little bit more on the rarer side, or I did anyway. Heck, half the reason to grind your own meat is that you know its clean and you don’t have to cook the bejesus out of it to get rid of any harmful bacteria or other “stuff”. 

     One last thing before we get started, cold is your friend. You’ll see me mention chilling and freezing in the steps below. This is very important, do not skip these steps. Fat melts. Let me emphasize that…fat melts very easily. The heat of your hand can melt the fat in ground beef as well as the heat that builds up due to friction while grinding your own meat. This will leave you with what is called “smear” and “smear” is no bueno. When grinding meat, you should be able to clearly tell when fat and meat are coming through the grinding plate as distinct little pieces. If your meat begins to heat up, it will begin to come out looking like indistinct pink strands, then you’ve got smear. You will have to stop what you are doing, chill your meat, take apart, clean and chill your metal grinder parts and start over again at a later time. Do yourself a favor and chill your meat and grinder parts ahead of time.

Meat cut for grinding, this was 50/50 pork butt and venison for a venison jalapeno cheese sausage I made
Meat cut for grinding, this was 50/50 pork butt and venison for a venison jalapeno cheese sausage I made

Directions

  1. Thoroughly clean and dry all parts of your grinder.
  2. Toss the metal parts (feeding tube, hopper, auger, grinding plates, knife and locking ring) in a bowl or on a baking sheet and toss in the freezer. 30 minutes is good, an hour is probably better.
  3. Cut your meat into cubes (some people like to do strips, depends on your grinder) and remove all sinew, connective tissue and silver skin. Grinders have a problem with this and they will end up wrapping around the auger and clogging up the grinding plate, not to mention they aren’t good eats. I like to toss my meat into the freezer for 15-20 minutes before I cube it up. I find that the time in the freezer, firms it up and makes it easier to cube.
  4. Spread the meat out in a single layer and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. You want the edges to be firm, but the middles are still pliable.
  5. One tip that you may or may not find useful. We like to place a kitchen towel under our grinder before beginning. For one, it helps with clean up. But more importantly, have you seen our counters? They are white…Yuck! The little black plastic feet can leave marks on light colored counters. You can get them off, but its a pain and I’m all about easy. Or lazy. Take your pick.
  6. Assemble your grinder. First, attach the feeding tube to the grinder and tighten down. Next insert the auger, making sure it lines up properly. Slide the knife onto the end of the auger, followed by the grinding plate (use the medium grinding plate for ground beef) and finally tighten it down with the locking ring. Once you have it assembled, place the hopper on top of the feeding tube. One thing to take notice of is the blades of the knife. They should be in contact with the grinding plate. If you turn them the other way and they won’t be able to grind up your meat. You don’t want that. 

    The proper order for assembling yoru grinder
    The proper order for assembling yoru grinder. Left to right: Locking ring, grinder plate, knife, auger, feeding tube (note: for illustration purposes this was laid out, but the feeder tube should be attached to the grinder before assembling the rest of the parts)
  7. Place a large bowl, casserole dish or baking sheet under the end of the grinder to catch your ground meat. Some people will say to fill a bowl with ice and then place another empty bowl on top of it to keep your meat chilled. I don’t do this as I’m usually working in batches of 5-10lbs and can get the meat ground in under 10 minutes. If I was working in larger batches or in a hot environment, I would probably do this, but I don’t find it necessary for the amounts I do.
  8. Fill up the hopper with the partially frozen, cubed meat.
  9. Turn on the grinder.
  10. Slide the meat over the neck of the feeder tube and push down using the meat pusher. Continue until all the meat has been ground.
  11. When finished, don’t forget to take apart your grinder and thoroughly clean it. I often let it soak in hot water for 10-20 minutes before hand. You maybe able to place your parts in the dishwasher (and sometimes I do except for the grinder plates and knife), read your instructions first. And those grinding plates? If yours are made out of carbon steal, don’t forget to thoroughly dry them, spray them down with cooking spray, wrap in paper towels and seal in a zip-lock bag. All that might be over kill, but you don’t want them to rust, do you?
You may need to spin your bowl or dish as it fills up.
You may need to spin your bowl or dish as it fills up.

     Now you’ve got your own home ground meat. Obviously you can use it right away if you are so inclined, but we always have more than we need. Why go through all that work just to grind up a pound or two? Go ahead and do five or ten or more. What we usually do is weigh the ground meat out into batches with a digital scale. We like to wrap our scale in plastic wrap to avoid any contamination. Then we, place a bowl on it and tare it. You remember that term from science class, right? When you re-zero a scale? Most digital scales will have a button for that. Then, weigh it out into desired batches, vacuum seal it, label it including date and type of meat and toss it in the freezer for later. Now you’ve got ground meat on hand that you know is safe and what is in it, ready to be used at a moments notice.