It’s a grilled chicken salad sandwich made with homemade mayo.
It’s a grilled chicken salad sandwich made with homemade mayo.
Note the empty beer glass. I really need to do something about that…
Tonight’s dinner is a shrimp salad pita. I know that I promised to give a mayo recipe, but I forgot that there’s no mayo in this dish. It uses Greek yogurt. I will post a mayo recipe soon.
Grilled burgers & from scratch fries.
The burgers were made from 80/20 Angus ground chuck.
It started raining while I was grilling the burgers, so my cooking temperatures were thrown off a bit. Both the fries and burgers were a bit overdone.
I need more practice at the fries before I can post a recipe.
I was hoping for a medium rare burger, but I got medium well. The rain caused my thermometer to read low, so I over cooked it.
I used 80/20 ground chuck with salt, pepper, & Sriracha mixed in to make the patties.
Tomorrow I plan on making a shrimp salad. I’ll probably use homemade mayo with the recipe. I’ll post a mayo recipe if I do end up using mayo.
I keep meaning to post here more often, but I never seem to get around to it. It’s been tough finding time to post due to the birth of my second child last July & me trying to find work. I’m going to try something a little different in an attempt to use this blog more.
I’ve downloaded the WordPress App to my Android phone with the idea that I can at least post a quick picture of what I prepared for dinner & then give a brief description. I’ll try to do this as often as possible, for as long & I can keep my phone on.
I am unemployed after all, so things kinda go month by month right now as I try to find work.
Tonight’s meal was leftovers. Yesterday I made oven baked eggplant & penne. Tonight we reheated it.
Surprisingly my wife really seemed to enjoy this one. She’s not a big fan of eggplant. I myself really enjoyed it.
It took a few hours to prepare though, as the tomato sauce was homemade & the eggplant needs to be salted & then rest for an hour to draw out the bitterness.
Yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here and I apologize for that. I’ve got my reasons for being too busy to write and I’ll just leave it at that. Hopefully I’ll start writing a lot more soon.
I’m gonna keep this post brief.
I’ve received a couple of requests for certain recipes that I use, so I plan on sharing them here. This post is meant to fulfill one of those requests.
I’m gonna give out two recipes in this post, one for the tomato based BBQ sauce that I use with just about everything. My family loves it and we use it on everything from pulled pork to ribs to burgers to omelets. It’s just a basic BBQ sauce that tastes just as good as anything you can buy at the store, or better in my opinion. You can’t beat the freshness of the product when you make it yourself at home, and the flavor develops and changes a bit over time as the sauce ages.
The other recipe is for a basic BBQ dry rub. The sauce calls for a tablespoon of dry rub. While it can be any dry rub you like, but I figured that I’d give you a recipe so you can make one yourself should you be lacking a favorite rub of your own. It is on the spicy and salty side though. Great for pulled pork or even brisket, where the saltiness is a bit spread out, but I’d reduce the salt by half, or to taste, for ribs and smaller cuts where it can be a bit too salty.
2 c ketchup
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
1/ 4 c dark rum (I use Mount Gay Eclipse)
1/4 c packed brown sugar (you can use light, but I prefer dark)
2 tbsp regular molasses
2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 tbsp of your favorite hot sauce
1 tbsp of your favorite dry rub
2 tsp liquid smoke (one of only a handful of times that you should ever use this product)
1/2 tsp black pepper
It’s pretty simple, just stir all of the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let it go, stirring frequently, for about 5-10 mins or so. Just until the alcohol cooks off and the sauce thickens a bit. It’ll get darker and richer the longer you let it go, but I wouldn’t let it simmer for any longer than 15 minutes.
Note: The mustard never really mixes in fully, that’s fine. It’s part of the look of this sauce, and it doesn’t affect the flavor.
I usually transfer it to a clean mason jar after it’s done. I’ll pour it into the jar slowly a tablespoon at a time while it’s still on the hot side. Once the jar has come up to about the same temp as the sauce I’ll pour the rest it then put the lid on it and store it in the fridge. It should keep for a few months, but the flavor will evolve over time.
1/4 c packed brown sugar (again, I like the dark one)
1/4 c paprika
1/4 c coarse ground sea salt
3 tbsp black pepper
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp celery seed
1 tsp cayenne pepper
Just mix everything by hand in a bowl until everything is more or less homogeneous. The brown sugar can be a pain in the ass because it likes to clump up. Just break the clumps and little brown sugar balls up with your hands.
Ok, that’s all I needed to do with this post. I’ll write another post in the next few days that includes a grilled rum glazed pineapple with ice cream dessert.
I’m a hombrewer. Generally speaking this means that I brew my own beer. It’s a fun hobby that combines a lot of my favorite subjects into one neat little package. I enjoy cooking and good food, I like experimenting with creating new flavors and combining them, I like science, and most of all I love beer.
Yes, I said “science”. Fermentation is a science, in fact the study of fermentation has its own name. Zymurgy is the study of fermentation, and there are zymurgists. I do find it interesting how a little yeast cell will consume sugars in my wort (wort is beer before it’s turned into beer) and convert them into alcohol and carbon dioxide to give me beer.
So what does this have to do with making soda? I’ve tried my hand at it a few times and I can tell you that the processes behind making soda are very similar to making beer. While making soda is quite a bit simpler than beer, the basic principles are the same.
Generally making soda is as simple as taking some soda extract, or sometimes syrups, mixing it up with some water and sugar, bottling it then carbonating it somehow. The carbonation is what give the soda its bubbles. The bubbles come from carbon dioxide gas that has been dissolved into the liquid. So, how do you get the gas into the soda?
One option is to “force” carbonate. This is what most commercial soda makers do, as well as many commercial breweries. This is a quick and effective method of carbonating your soda, and many hombrewers do just that with their beers. However, it does require some costly equipment. You’ll need a tank of CO2(carbon dioxide), fittings, tubing, a regulator and something to carbonate the soda in. By something I mean a soda keg also known as a Cornelius keg.
These kegs were originally used for soda and connected to a soda fountain pre-mixed and ready to go, but nowadays soda is mixed in the fountain so the favoring is shipped in syrup form and in a plastic bad inside of a cardboard box. Today the Cornelius keg is used by many homebrewers for beer storage and dispensing, but it could also be just as easily used for homemade soda. These kegs hold about 5 gallons and would allow you to force carb, but you might want to have a special refrigerator just for kegging. Even though you pump the gas in under pressure to carb the soda, gas dissolves into liquids better when the liquid is cold. Kegs take up a lot of room in a fridge, so for most of us you won’t be able to use the same fridge that you store you food in. You could also try to force carb it warm, but it’ll take longer.
Another option for force carbing soda would be to use a Carbonator cap. This device screws onto a two liter soda bottle and allows you to hook up a CO2 line to the bottle and force carb in the bottle. This allows you to make your soda in smaller batches and makes it a little more portable. It’s also great for keeping commercially bought sodas from going flat, or recarbing them if they do. At the end of this post, I’ll add a link to a website that sells the Carbonator as well as all of the other equipment that I mention in this post, you should also be able to find everything you need at a local homebrew or winemaking supply shop.
Ok, enough about force carbing. I really don’t do it myself. If you’ll notice, I didn’t even mention what pressure you should carb at and what pressure you should dispense at. That’s because I’m really not sure, I don’t force carb yet. There are places you can look on-line that will have that info, but I myself naturally carb.
It is in fact possible to get natural carbonation into your soda. This is done by adding yeast and sugar to the soda. Yeast are a microscopic organism related to fungi. They swim around consuming sugar and converting it into alcohol and CO2.
Most people flavor their soda by using soda extracts, which are available at most homebrew/wine making stores. These extracts though usually don’t have enough sugar in them for the yeast to munch on or to sweeten the soda, so you’ll need to add some yourself. Once the sugar is added, the yeast will consume them and produce the gas that you need for carbonation. If we place the soda mixture into a sealed container, say a reused soda bottle, once the cap is on the gas produced by the yeast has nowhere to go. Pressure builds inside of the bottle untill it reaches a point to where it is absorbed into the soda. The gas goes into solution and will come back out once pressure is released (you take the cap off) providing you with the bubbles that you are looking for. The whole process takes about 2-4 weeks.
I want to give a couple of warnings about natural carbonation before I discuss the equipment you’ll need and how to actually go about making a batch of soda. The first thing, I mentioned that alcohol is produced during natural carbonation. Even if you’re making soda, a small amount of alcohol will be present in the soda. It’s a SMALL amount, negligible in fact. The soda is still considered to be a non-alcoholic product, and it is perfectly safe your children to consume. In fact, this is a fun little hobby that is a great way to teach your kids a little about the science behind fermentation and still allow them to drink the fruits of their labors. It is a family friendly activity.
The next thing to watch out for is the sludge at the bottom of the bottles. Once the yeast finishes it’s job the individual cells go dormant and “flocculate”. This means that they settle to the bottom of the bottle. When you pour the soda, you’ll wanna leave that stuff behind. While, it won’t hurt you or make you ill, it doesn’t taste good either. Some people may be sensitive to the yeast too (I know that I am) and it may cause gas and even the runs at times as the yeast tries to continue fermenting sugars in your gut. The effects usually only last for a day or two, and it doesn’t happen all the time or to everyone, but it’s still something to watch out for. A careful pour will prevent any issues.
The next topic is sanitation. As with homebrewing beer, you should watch your sanitation with making soda. The yeast you introduce to the soon to be soda isn’t the only microorganism that wants to eat those sugars. There isn’t anything that can “infect” your soda that will kill you, but there are bugs that can make it taste bad. I would suggest soaking anything that will be touching the soda in a mild bleach solution for 20 mins.(1 Tbs bleach to 1 gal water) followed by a quick rinse, or using a no-rinse sanitizer like Iodophor(1 Tbs per 5 gals) or Star-san(1 oz per 5 gals) both of which are available at your local homebrew store. You don’t need to worry about sanitizing the glass you plan on drinking the soda from. Also, don’t soak stainless steel in bleach. It’ll tarnish.
The next thing to discuss is one of safety. When you are just starting out with making soda, I’d recommend that you use either new PET bottles that you can get from a homebrew store, or reuse soda bottles ( only once or twice, then toss ‘em). Once you get some experience with it then you can consider glass bottles. Those swing top bottles might look cool and all, but they can be dangerous. The gas inside the bottle will be under pressure, and the more fuel, i.e. sugar that the yeast get the more gas they will produce and that means more pressure inside of the bottle. If you over do it and add too much sugar the very least that you’ll have is a geyser when you open the bottle. The worst case scenario the bottle will explode. We call these bottle bombs. If a plastic bottle pops the worst it will do is make a mess, storing the soda in a box can help to minimize this should it happen. If a glass bottle pops you get shrapnel. I’ve heard of people being seriously injured due to glass bottle bombs going off in their hands and that was from beer. Soda tends to be more carbonated than beer, so the risk of bombs is greater with soda. If you do have any bombs, chilling down the rest of the batch will slow down the yeast and cause them the flocculate out. The should stop any further fermentation and hopefully save the rest, but I’d drink them quickly. That being said, as long as you don’t add too much sugar you should be fine. Another advantage to using plastic bottles is that you can check for carbonation easier. With glass you need to chill one down and pop it open to find out if it’s ready to drink or not, with plastic all you need to do is squeeze the bottle. If it’s hard it’s good to go, if it’s soft and squishy then it need more time.
Now I’ll walk you through making a small batch of soda via natural carbonation as well as the gear you’ll need and some other gear that will come in handy. This will be for a one gallon batch of soda.
The gear you’ll need is:
Midwest Supplies sells a kit for $20 that comes with the bottling bucket, 4′ of tubing, the spoon, and the bottle filler. Pretty much, it’s everything you need gearwise except the bottles. I’m sure you can kill a few liter bottles of Pepsi without too much trouble. Otherwise, all of the gear that I mentioned is available at your local homebrew store.
Now for the ingredients:
The first thing we need to do is rehydrate the yeast. All of this stuff should be sanitized. To rehydrate the yeast, pour some lukewarm (98-110 F) water into a small bowl. The amount really doesn’t matter, you don’t want too much though, maybe 1/2 c to 1 c. The water wants to be lukewarm, not too hot or too cold. If it’s too cold the yeast won’t rehydrate properly and may not want to carb your soda, if it’s too hot you’ll kill it. Sprinkle 1/8 tsp of yeast on top of the water and leave it sit for 10-15 mins, then give it a stir before you add it to the soda.
Shake the extract bottle and add 1 Tbs of the extract, 2 cups of sugar and warm water to make a gallon. I would give it a taste now. It’ll be sweeter than the final product, remember the yeast will eat the sugars, you’re mainly checking to see if you got the extract right where you want it. If it needs more flavor then add a little more extract. Add it in small amounts, like 1/4 teaspoon at most at a time, till you have it where you want it. Remember to make sure you sanitize anything that touches the soda-to-be. If it seems to be too dry for your tastes, don’t add anymore sugar yet. You can add artificial sweeteners if you like because they aren’t fermentable, but then it’ll taste more like diet soda.
Now add the yeast. There is no need to stir.
Now you’ll wanna fill your SANITIZED bottles. If you’re not using a bottling bucket, then use a SANITIZED funnel to avoid spills. Fill each bottle to within and inch or so of the top. You need a head space of about an inch to get proper carbonation. Too much will cause the soda to under carb, too little and you can have bottle bombs. You don’t need to be perfect, but about an inch or two at most is best. If you have tubing and a bottle filler, then place the bottle filler at the bottom of the bottle. This will open the valve and start filling your bottle. Fill the bottle all the way to the top if you’re using a bottle filler, the filler displaces some of the soda so when you remove it from the bottle you have the perfect amount of head space. Then the valve shuts and you can move to the next bottle without the risk of spills. It couldn’t be easier. You may need to tilt the bottling bucket towards the end in order to get out as much of your soda mixture as you can.
Now seal up your bottles and place them in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. It’ll take 2-4 weeks to carbonate this way, but you need to store the bottles no cooler than say 68 F. If the bottles are stored too cool, they will either take forever to carb or they won’t carb at all.
If you used plastic bottles give ‘em a squeeze every now and again to check for carbonation. If you used glass, I’d wait for at least 4 weeks before trying one.
If they aren’t carbing at all, it’s probably because you’re storing them at too cool a temperature. Move the bottles to somewhere warmer and shake them up to rouse the yeast and wait another week or two. If it’s still not working, try adding a little more yeast or possibly a little more sugar. If you add more sugar, add no more than a 1/4 to 1/2 tsp to avoid bottle bombs. If they are over carbed you can chill them down to stop fermentation and drink quickly. Sometimes cracking it open for a second to vent off the excess gas and resealing them will help.
Lastly, the soda might be a bit dry when it’s finished. By dry I mean that it’s not sweet. As I’ve said before, the yeast will eat the sugars so you’ll lose sweetness. There will be some sugar left after the yeast is done but, if you find that your soda is too dry you can back sweeten with a little sugar to taste, but only do that in the glass as you’re drinking it. Treat it like you’re adding sugar to coffee, tea, iced tea, something along those lines. You don’t want to sweeten with sugars before it’s done because of the risk of bottle bombs. The yeast settles out to the bottom once they figure that it’s more hassle than what it’s worth to keep eating the sugars that are left, but if you add more sugar and make it easier for them to find it then they’ll go right back to fermenting.
Ok, I guess this post is long enough now. If you have any questions or feel that I left anything out, feel free to ask or let me know in the comments.
Here’s that link to Midwest Supplies. Scroll over the “Other Products” tab at the upper left of your screen to get to their soda specific gear. Entering Carbonator cap into the search field will allow you to find the Carbonator.
I know it’s been a little while since I’ve written anything. I apologize for that, but I’ve had a lot on my plate lately and I’m sure it’s gonna get worse before it gets better. I do have plans for another post that I want to write, but I thought that I’d write something short for now while I gather my thoughts for the next article.
Last night we got buried in a blizzard. With all the snow and cold I wanted to come up with something for dinner that would give us a little heat. I hadn’t made my buffalo wings in a while, so I figured that this was the perfect opportunity to make them again.
Due to the fact that I can’t get out of the house, and therefore have nothing better do (aside from the dishes that is), I will share the recipe for the wings I made last night with you. It’s adapted from the recipe that they give you on the Frank’s RedHot sauce bottle, but designed to give you a bit more flavor.
Pre-heat your oven to 425F. Bake the wings for an hour. You can also try frying them for 12 minutes at 400F. In a small saucepan, add the hot sauce, butter/margarine, beer, and spices. Heat to melt the margarine/butter and bring to a boil. Boil until the sauce reduces just slightly. Once the wings are done, dip them in the sauce to coat. I usually place the dipped wings into a deep baking pan and then pour the remaining sauce over the wings. I’ll then just eat the wings straight out of the pan, but then again I’m a slob.
Nothing reminds me more of what it was like to be five years old like the idea of eating insects. Most of us haven’t entertained the idea since that age, but maybe it’s time to think about it again.
Generally most people from the US are put off by the idea of eating insects. Really it’s not all that suprising that we have that attitude toward the consumption of creatures with 6+ legs. Most of us are taught at an early age that they are gross disgusting creatures that we shouldn’t even touch, let alone pick one up and eat it. However, in many other places around the world, the attitude towards eating insects is a bit different. At these locations eating bugs is quite common place, and in fact things like tarantulas and scorpions can be considered a delicacy. In many cases, they simply eat bugs out of necessity. Insects are a ready source of protein, where otherwise they wouldn’t have a good source for it.
Here in the US there are people who are pushing to gain more acceptance of insect eating. They’ve even come up with a fancy term for eating bugs, just so it doesn’t sound quite as juvenile as what you did at the playground when you were in kindergarten. The term is “entomophagy”, and those who regularly practice entomophagy have several good arguments as to why we all should consider adding more insect into our diets.
One reason is that you’re probably already eating insects, and didn’t realize it. The FDA allows for a certain percentage of most food items to be insects, or what they call “natural contaminants”. Basically the FDA acknowledges that it’s impossible to grow food and process it without some bug parts making their way into the finished product. So yes, you already eat bugs all the time and you didn’t know it.
Another good reason to eat bugs is because it’s good for you. Insects are naturally high in protein and usually iron and calcium too. They are low in fat, carbs, and cholesterol. The links will take you to charts that will give you some nutrition info on some bugs. One last good reason for eating bugs is that they are more environmentally friendly to raise than more traditional meats. A pound of crickets only require a fraction of the water that the same pound of beef requires, and I’m pretty sure that they have fewer “emissions” too.
So, how do bugs taste? To be honest with you, it all depends on the bug you’re eating. I don’t have a lot of experience with eating bugs myself, but I have eaten some things. Tarantulas and scorpions are on my list of things that I haven’t eaten yet, but would like to. In fact, I’ve ordered a curry flavored scorpion from a company called “Thailand Unique” that I’m still waiting for. It’s supposed to be ready to eat directly out of the package. Now from my understanding, scorpions and tarantulas are supposed to taste a lot like soft shelled crabs. That’s just what I’ve heard from other sources though, I can’t say that I’ve had personal experience with it yet, but I’ll be finding out soon.
There are some bugs that I have had some personal experience with, but I’ve found it to be difficult to find a local supplier of some of the more common live insect fare. By more common, I mean live crickets, meal worms, wax worms, and the like. I know that some people will go to local pet shops or bait shops to get these delicacies, however I haven’t had a lot of luck just yet. I believe that I’ve found a pet shop that sells live crickets, so hopefully soon I’ll be paying them a visit.
With live crickets being difficult to find, I’ve turned to the freeze-dried variety. I picked up both freeze-dried crickets and meal worms and I’ve tried them both. Meal worms really aren’t anything new to me. I’ve eaten the worm at the bottom of many a bottle of Mezcal, and I even ate one of those novelty lollipops as a kid. Even so, meal worms in those forms taste a bit different that eating the freeze-dried ones. The one in the Mezcal bottle obviously tastes strongly of the booze it’s been soaking in. What I can recall of the one in the taffy, it had a nutty taste. The freeze-dried ones kinda remind me of pork rinds. Straight out of the jar, they have a flavor that is just slightly different from pork rinds, but if you fry them up in a little vegetable oil with a little garlic and ground red pepper they are quite tasty. Honestly, I can eat them straight out of the jar all day paired perhaps with a good beer.
The crickets however have a very grassy flavor right out of the jar. Overpoweringly so. I’d really recommend using them as an ingredient in some kind of recipe over eating them straight. I made meal worm and cricket quesadillas for my daughter and myself for lunch the other day that were very good. I’ll share the recipe in a little bit. If I were to snack on the little critters whole in their freeze-dried state, I’d probably wanna pair it with some good vodka. I’m hoping that fresh crickets taste a little less grassy. By the way, I also found some freeze-dried grasshoppers as well, but I would think that it stands to reason that if the crickets tasted grassy so would the grasshoppers. The brand that I purchased was Fluker’s .
I do have to give a word of warning though. While most people can probably eat insects without any issues, people who are allergic to shellfish should probably steer clear of eating bugs. The two are closely related and that might cause a problem. At the very least you should ask your doctor before trying to eat insects. Also, you don’t want to eat just any bug that you find crawling around in your local parks or back yard. There is a slim chance that it could be toxic, either due to the fact that the bug is naturally toxic or due to exposure to pesticides. Make sure you know what it is that you’re eating and that you know where it came from and what it’s been exposed to.
Well, I’m gonna end this here for now. I might write some more on the subject at a later date, as I become more familiar with the topic. I hope you’ve found this post at least somewhat helpful. I’m gonna leave you with a brief overview of how to make the quesadillas that I made and a few more links so you can research entomophagy a little bit more on your own and maybe even purchase some insects of your own to eat.
Dried Cricket and Meal Worm Quesadillas
All you need is:
2 flour tortillas
~1/2 cup or so of your favorite Mexican or Taco Cheese
A handful or two of freeze-dried crickets
A handful or two of freeze-dried meal worms
A couple TBS of your favorite salsa
~1 tsp or so of garlic powder
~1/4 tsp ground red pepper
Fresh ground pepper to taste
All amount are approximate because I didn’t measure anything when I made these. It was kinda done by the seat of my pants and everything was eyeballed to an amount I thought would work. Of course the amount of bugs you add can be whatever you’re comfortable with.
Assemble the quesadillas by layering the ingredients on top of a flour tortilla then place another flour tortilla on top of that. Heat enough oil in a pan to coat the bottom of the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the quesadilla and heat each side long enough to crisp up and slightly brown the tortillas and to melt the cheese. About a minute or two per side. Remove the quesadillas from the pan and cut into 8 wedges. Serve with salsa and sour cream, or whatever else you’d like.
Here are some more links
Insects Are Food Lots of good info here as well as links for purchasing some bugs.
Thailand Unique These guys sell some pre-cooked bugs as well as a bunch of other exotic edibles. Scorpion wine anyone?
Edible.com They also sell some pre-cooked stuff. They also have oven roasted tarantula and civet coffee.
B.A.B.E.S. The Bay Area Bug Eating Society.
Petbugs.com This site is really more for those who want to keep bugs as pets, they have a forum and a page for people looking to buy exotic bugs as pets, but most are still edible if you want to buy them for food. Just remember to take the stingers off of any scorpions you want to eat, just to be on the safe side.
Well, that’s about it. If you notice any glaring omissions, or if there’s anything you think I need to elaborate on, clear up, want me to add any thing, or if you have any questions at all feel free to hit me up in the comments.
I know that for many families turkey is only meant for Thanksgiving. A lot of people do things like ham, lamb, or even goose for Christmas. When I was growing up we saved the ham for New Years, and did turkey for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Well, Christmas is less than two weeks away and I figured that now might be a good time to discuss an option for cooking your bird that most people don’t think about. Grilling. It takes just about as long to do your birds outside on the grill as it does in the oven, but you have the advantage of freeing your oven up for other holiday baking tasks such as cookies and rolls and the like. Grilling is also an excellent way to impart that nice smoky charcoal flavor to your bird. Yes, I’m gonna assume that you use a charcoal grill. Gas is ok and all, but I prefer charcoal. You should be able to modify these techniques to work with gas, or whatever ever type of grill you have.
The first thing to discuss is thawing your bird if it’s frozen. Really the best way to thaw it is in the fridge. That’s why I’m writing this article now, it takes a while to do that. You want your turkey to thaw in a cold environment that is as close to 40 degrees F as you can get it (if not cooler) in order to keep bacteria from being able to thrive on your turkey. You’ll need to allow about 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. For a 20+lb. turkey, this can take over a week, so be prepared early.
While the fridge is recommended, you can also thaw your turkey in cold water. You need to allow 30 mins per pound, and you’ll also need to change the water out every 30 mins to do it safely. Finally, you can use a microwave, but does using a microwave to thaw meat ever work out? I really don’t recommend trying it, and chances are your bird won’t fit in the microwave anyway.
Ok, so your bird is thawed so what’s next? Next comes the dry rub. You’ll probably want to do that the night before grilling, because you’re gonna want to give the rub a chance to penetrate the bird. You can use any rub you like that’ll work with foul, I use one that I make myself that I guess I can share the basics of here. You can coat the outside of the bird with a little olive oil in order to help the rub to adhere a little better. I use my hand and literally rub it in, some people like to sprinkle it on. You’ll need to rub the inside of the cavity with the dry rub too, so no matter what at some point your hands are getting dirty. After rubbing the bird, put it back in the fridge for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Ok so here’s the basics of my dry rub recipe. Feel free to experiment and change things as you see fit. I know this isn’t really conventional for a dry rub, but I for one don’t feel that all the salt that’s in most dry rubs is really needed. Too much salt will tend to dry out meat as it’s cooking anyway, and really should be added either towards the end of grilling any meat, or after it’s done.
All amounts are approximate because I never bothered to write it down. I just kinda know how much to add, but that should still be about right. You’ll want to add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix ‘em up. You can use a whisk, I just use my hands because they’re gonna get dirty rubbing the turkey anyway. Try to break up any clumps that form.
Like I said, I know this doesn’t really look like a lot of other dry rub recipes. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first one you already know, I don’t like using all of that salt. The other reason is that it only makes enough for the turkey with a little left over for the grilling process. I don’t see the point of making a ton of dry rub when I only need it for one meal. Maybe it’ll keep for a while, but it’s not so difficult to make that I can’t make more when I need it the next time.
Ok, so we’ve made our dry rub and applied it to the inside and outside of the bird, which sat in the fridge over night to allow the rub to penetrate. Now it’s time to talk about actually grilling that bad boy. The first thing we should probably talk about, as far as this subject goes, is how big a bird should you grill. The answer is, how big a turkey can you get to fit on your grill and still get the lid to work?
I’ve seen some web sites that say that you shouldn’t go over 12-15 lbs or so. That’s nonsense, I’ve successfully grilled a 21 lb turkey with absolutely no problems. As long as you can get the lid on, it’s all good.
As far as method of grilling goes, you’ll need to use an indirect grilling method. Which means that the heat source, charcoal in my case, is not directly under the turkey. The reason for this is that if you keep the heat under the bird, then the outside that we spent all of that time rubbing will char and burn long before the inside cooks. By grilling indirectly we can allow the turkey to cook evenly all the way around.
So how do we do this? With a gas or other types of grills, if you can shut off burners directly under the turkey that would be best, otherwise you can put the bird on a roasting pan to help keep it away from the heat. With charcoal it’s pretty easy. The way I do it is to place some kinda of a drip pan directly under where my turkey is going (which you should do no matter what kind of grill you use) and place coals around the pan. At the top of this post is a picture of what I’m talking about. The purpose of the pan is to catch any drippings that may come off the bird in order to prevent flare ups as well as acting as a spacer so we can keep the coals away from the turkey. It’s also used to add some additional moisture and flavor to the bird.
Before lighting the coals, add some water, some of the left over dry rub (leave yourself some), a couple of bay leaves and a bottle of hard cider to the drip pan. Light your coals and after they ash over place the lid on the grill for 10 mins or so to let the grill preheat. If you want to, use a thermometer at the level of the cooktop the temp should be around 325-350 F. After the grill preheats a bit you can add your unstuffed, untrussed turkey. DO NOT stuff the turkey, it’ll never cook properly if you do. As far as trussing, there is no need to when it goes on the grill. Allow at least 15 min per lb of turkey for your cooking time. You should get a temperature reading of 185F from the leg/thigh, or 165F from the breast when the bird is done. You’ll probably want to rotate the bird 180 degrees half way through cooking to ensure that it cooks evenly. If you notice that the liquid levels in the drip pan are getting low, you can top it off with more cider and/or some beer. Make sure that you keep an eye on the coals too, you’ll need to add more at least once, if not more often during the cooking process. During the last 15 mins or so of cooking you can baste the bird with a mixture of whatever dry rub you have left and a bottle of hard cider. Once it’s done, pull it off the grill and leave the turkey rest for a good 20-30 mins, then carve. If all goes well, you should be enjoying one damn fine turkey.
Ok, so we’ve talked about grilling turkey, and I’ve almost doubled my word count from my last post so far, but I’m not done yet. Sorry if I’m dragging this out.
Ya know that little bag of stuff that comes with your turkey? Yeah the giblets. I’m gonna give you a suggestion as to what you can do with them. I know that most people just assume gravy is all that the giblets are good for. They’d be wrong. You can make stuffing with them too.
The stuffing I make is adapted from a recipe in the 1978 edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook. I love that book, not so old that they’ve never heard of microwaves, but not so new that eggs and butter are evil. Real old school recipes from a book that was published the same year that I was born. But enough about Betty, that’ll be for a later post.
The first step is to cook the giblets:
I hope you bought a 6-pack of hard cider, because this turkey and stuffing combo uses a lot of hard cider. Put all of the giblets into a pot save for the liver. Neck included it’s the best part because it absorbs all the apple flavor so nicely. Cover the giblets in water add the seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the water to reduce. As soon as you can add the 12 oz of beer and reduce again untill you can fit a bottle of cider into the pot. Keep simmering and topping up with cider for 2 hours. Add the liver during the last 15 mins. Drain the giblets, but hold on to the liquid. Chop the giblets and add to the stuffing recipe I’m about to give you.
Cook the onion and celery in the margarine untill the onion is tender. Add some of the bread cubes, enough to sop up the butter. Turn it into a deep bowl and add the rest of the ingredients except for the giblet juice. Toss adding giblet stock as needed to achieve your desired level of moisture. Place the stuffing in the oven at 350F for 15-20 or until hot.
Ok, I think that’s all I wanted to say on the subject. Now, I’m not much of a proof reader, so if you noticed any corrections that I need to make or any glaring omissions, don’t hesitate to tell me in the comments. Also if you have any suggestions for future articles let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
Thank you for taking the time out to read my little blog.
I’m gonna write about this today because it’s what I plan on doing for dinner tonight, so there may be some pictures later. I thought about maybe writing something about cold weather grilling, but screw it. I think that grilling bison is odd enough on its own that I’d just focus on that today.
Bison isn’t really that far off from beef. Actually, if it’s prepared properly there really isn’t much of a difference in flavor or texture at all. Some people will say that it tastes a little bit different, but I don’t really taste that much of a noticable difference when it’s done right. It can taste a bit gamey when it’s over cooked.
So, if it doesn’t taste much different from beef, why would you want to put out the extra money for bison meat then you ask? Well, at first I was doing it for the novelty of it all. I mean really, who eats bison on a regular basis? Well, me for one. Then there was the look on my friends faces when I pulled the ol’ switcheroo and gave them bison instead of beef. The look first comes when they realized what they just ate, then when they realize that they couldn’t tell the difference between the bison and beef.
There are some very good reasons for eating bison as well. It’s leaner than beef, but we’ve all heard that. It’s higher in iron, and it has higher protein than beef. It is also lower in cholesterol than even most types of poultry. Federal regulations also don’t allow for the use of hormones on bison. In short, it’s about as healthy a red meat as you’re gonna find. Also, it cooks faster than beef and can be substituted for beef in just about every recipe.
Eating bison, believe it or not, also helps to keep the population up. Bison was endanger of going extinct, but is recovering well partly due to demand for bison meat. If demand for bison meat keeps going up as it has been, then ranchers are encouraged to breed their animals to keep their stocks up.
I have noticed some issues with preparing bison steaks though. As I already said, bison cooks faster than beef. This can be a good thing, but it means that you’ll need to check on it more often, and take it off the heat sooner than with beef. It also tends to be a very bloody meat, and it doesn’t hold on to its juices that well. The steaks that I get come in these vacuum sealed pouches, every time I cut one open my kitchen sink ends up looking like a crime scene.
If you’re one of those people who check the doneness of your steaks by cutting them open or prefer a well done steak, then bison is probably not for you. Remember earlier when I said that bison needed to be prepared correctly? Well, and I feel that this is true for all steaks, bison should never be prepared to a level of doneness higher than a medium, with rare/med rare preferred. The thing is, if the steak is more done than that, then it will start to taste gamey and it will lose its tenderness. However, I don’t suggest that you server the steak extremely rare either, medium-rare is probably best.
I usually prefer a good rare steak, but with bison the muscle fibers just don’t seem to hold on to the juices very well. Once you cut into it, or even as it’s resting, all of the juices will run out onto your plate. For me this usually results in bison flavored mashed potatoes, but I’m not calling that a bad thing. I digress… Generally speaking medium rare will maximize the flavor of the bison meat, and provide enough juices that won’t run out as readily as a rare steak would.
As far as grilling them go, it’s all the same as you would with beef steaks, but maybe quicker. I prefer a charcoal grill. I usually zone the heat with the coals, meaning that I’ll pile the coals in one area (for me the center, but that’s for a later date) and leave a cooler area with few to no coals. This allows me to control the cooking temperature a little more accurately.
Use a little olive oil on the grate and on the steaks, no more than 5 mins or so per side untill you reach a medium-rare level of doneness for a 1″ steak. You’ll want to sear them real quick on the hot part of the grill and them move them to the cooler part to cook. Check them often because they really do cook faster than a beef steak of comparable thickness. Keep the grill covered. As far as seasoning goes, I like to use a little bit of coarse ground sea salt and coarse ground pepper, just before and after turning the steaks. Nothing else is really needed. After you take the steaks off of the grill leave them to rest for 5 minutes, and you’re good to go.