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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pulled Bacon Potato Chowder

I was rummaging though the Ice Cave a few weeks ago.  You know, the never ending battle with trying to keep your freezer neat and orderly.  As I was rotating older inventory I stumbled upon a package of the pulled bacon I made with a pork butt earlier in the year.  It was time to make something with the pouch of frozen bacony goodness I was holding in my hand.

As I went upstairs, I started scouring through the pantry and a plan came together.  Bacon, potatoes, chicken broth.  Potato chowder it is.

I have this Chicken Corn Chowder recipe that I have made for years.  The original recipe is from Cooking Light.  But, I have modified it so much, I use it as my own.  I also borrow a bit from my mothers old Potato Soup recipe.  Here is what I did for this particular batch.

Pulled Bacon Potato Chowder

1 lb of Pulled Bacon.  Recipe and method in the link above.  You could substitute store bought with the fat drained from the cooked bacon.
6 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ribs of Celery, diced
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium Sweet Onion, roughly diced
4 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tsp of dried Tarragon
1 tsp of dried Parsley
A drizzle of oil for sautéing
8 cups of Chicken Broth.  I make my own and skim the fat off.
1/2 cup light Half and Half.  You could grab the brass ring and use Heavy Cream.
Salt and Pepper to taste.


First, I roughly minced the pulled bacon to eliminate any large chunks.  Then, I took my 8 quart dutch oven and put a very small amount of olive oil in the bottom and heated to a medium high heat.  I added the oil only because the pulled bacon has a very low fat content.  I didn't want it to burn before I loosened up what fat remained.  Once the bacon was sauteing nicely, I added parsley and tarragon along with the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic mixture.  I sautéed for about 10 minutes on medium high heat until the veggies where just past tender crisp.


Then, I added the chicken broth and potatoes, and brought the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, I lowered the heat and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.

At the end of the simmer, I added the 1/2 cup of half and half, then I took my stick blender and pureed the mixture until about 1/3 of the mixture was smooth.  I tasted the soup and added salt and pepper to taste.  Then, I let the soup simmer for about 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Done.  I ladled into soup bowls.  I topped mine with some shredded CoJack cheese.  Hope did the same and added a dollop of sour cream as well.


This chowder had smoky bacon in every bite, but it was not overpowering.  Pureeing the soup added a creamy component that made up for the light half and half.  This chowder was good food.  The best part was flooding the lunch room at work the next day with the smell of smoked bacon while reheating.  I always get in trouble when I do that because I never bring samples...

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Filipino Style London Broil

Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas I had a mission.  Take a London broil and turn it into dinner.  I am usually pretty good at coming up with a marinade recipe on the fly.  But, my brain was stuck in neutral and I was drawing blanks.  I started flipping through my Flipboard feed for all things meaty and after some scrolling, I found an old flip that had tickled my fancy at some point.  The recipe was a nice Filipino style grilled London broil recipe by Steven Raichlen.  Why not?  Raichlen tested, Internet approved.  You can't go wrong.  Besides, I had tried a few Filipino BBQ recipes from my blogger friend Reuben over at BBQ Guam that were outstanding.  So, after reconciling the ingredient list with my pantry, all systems were a go.

The recipe was from Epicurious.com and for once, I didn't change a thing:

2 medium-size lemons
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 medium-size onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 flank steak or piece of sirloin or top or bottom round steak 

I whipped up the marinade and reserved about a cup as recommended in the recipe to use as a finishing sauce for the final product.


After thoroughly tenderizing the London broil I placed the meat in a bag, added the marinade, and let the meat marinade for about six hours.  Every time I walked past the marinading meat during the day, I flipped the bag.  



After the six hour marinade, I removed the meat from the bag and scraped off the chunks per the recipe.  


While letting the meat come to room temperature, I lit a chimney of charcoal and prepared a hot fire in my grill.  I carefully cooked this London broil to an internal temperature of 135 F.  After allowing to sit for 10 minutes before slicing, the meat was somewhere between medium rare to medium in doneness.  



I served with some roasted brussels sprouts and a baked potato because nothing says Filipino like baked potato and sprouts.  Right?  


I tried some pieces of the meat with the reserved marinade spooned on top and some without.  I liked them either way.  Without the sauce, the meat is flavorful and tender.  The vinegar and citrus in the marinade definitely did its job in breaking down the meat.  With the sauce, their was a nice flavorful vinegar punch.  The sauce on the side reminded me of the flavored vinegars you see on a table at any Cuban restaurant.  

Overall, we were happy with this recipe.  The flavors were a nice change of pace from the usual grilled beef.  This recipe will be headed into the book for future use.  

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Monday, December 28, 2015

How do you say Moink in Italian?

Monik Balls have been a competition BBQ staple for as long as I can remember.  There really is not a right or a wrong way to make them.  Generally, they are a meatball made with pork and beef (hence the "monk"), seasoned with BBQ rub, then wrapped in bacon and cooked in a smoker until the meatball is cooked and the bacon is cooked.  I have seen them served with a BBQ sauce glaze or with dipping sauce on the side.  Creativity is encouraged and the sky is the limit.

A few weeks ago, I was in the mood for some Moink Balls, but not in the mood for something with a BBQ taste.  So, after digging through the ice cave, I found some ground meat and sweet Italian sausage.  Italian Moink Balls?  Why not.

After thawing the ground meat and sausage, I mixed one pound of each in a bowl with two cloves of minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste.  If your Italian sausage lacks pizzaz, you could also add oregano, thyme, and basil to your liking.  But, the Italian sausage we have is made by authentic Italian Grandfathers from an Italian Club around Windber, PA.  No added seasoning needed.  Once the meat was mixed thoroughly, I pulled out about 1/4 cup pieces and rolled into flat rounds.  Then, I added some shredded mozzarella cheese, closed the ball, and rolled until sealed to keep the cheese from oozing during cooking.



Next, I wrapped each meatball in one slice of thin sliced bacon.  Then, I let the bacon wrapped meatballs sit on the counter to come to room temperature while I brought my smoker up to 350 F.  Once the smoker reached temperature, I placed one piece of hickory in the ash pan for flavor and placed the Moink Balls with the rack onto the top shelf of the smoker.  After 30 minutes of cook time I rotated the rack 180 degrees to promote even cooking.


I was thinking of painting the meatballs with a spicy tomato sauce to form a glaze.  But, I remembered this great sauce is inspired by a friend of ours from the BBQ competition world.  I whipped up a Garlic Parmesan Aioli for dipping.  I took one cup of mayonnaise, 2 minced garlic cloves, the juice from one lemon, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste, and enough olive oil to get the mixture somewhat mobile.  This sauce was good, but wasn't anywhere near what she makes.  But, this was good for a first pass.  I will have to experiment with this sauce further.

After one hour of cook time in the smoker, the meatballs were cooked and the bacon was crispy.  Ready to serve.


Not bad for an Italian style Moink Ball.  I was thinking of wrapping in prosciutto instead of bacon.  Next time I will.  I just didn't have any in the refrigerator.  Maybe that is something you can try.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Jed

This past week another member of the Three Dogs family, Jed, took that journey across the Rainbow Bridge.  So, sit for a spell and let me tell you about a dog named Jed...


Jed was the impulse buy at PetSmart almost one year after we adapted Jethro and Ellie Mae.  I was golfing and called Hope to tell her that I was on the way home.  I asked what she did during the afternoon and she proceeded to tell me that she picked up dog food, crickets for Henry, and a puppy.  "A what?"  I said?  A puppy she confirmed.  It was adoption day again at PetSmart, and he was so cute, and he whined when I walked away after petting him, etc...  All of you dog adopters know the drill.  So, now we had a 10 week old puppy named Scrappy.  But, with a Jethro and an Ellie Mae in the fold, the obvious choices were Jed and Mr. Drysdale.  Obviously, the better choice won.



Jed was born in the kennel after his mother was rescued off the street.  So, technically he was a rescue himself, but he never acted like one.  He was never centered on where the next meal was coming from, never begged for food, and while he was a loving dog, he only pushed you for ear scratching and was just as happy to nap in the sun.

Jed was a chocolate lab/weimaraner mix.  When he was younger he had those blue gray eyes and the smoky tint to his coat.  But, as he left puppy hood behind the eyes turned to brown and the smoky tint turned into a full chocolate tint.  The only weimar traits he kept were the long legs, the skinny chest, and the attitude.

While Ellie Mae was my dog, Jed was 100% Hope's.  Jed loved car rides, so if we went anywhere, he expected to sit in the front seat with Hope.  I kicked him to the back seat, but The Oldest two legged kid sat in the back seat more than once after loosing that battle with Jed.

Jed was also the inspiration for our team name.  People have asked where we came up with the name.  The obvious answer is that we have three dogs.  But, this picture was the spark for the name.


I looked out the back window one day and there was Jed.  A built in security system for the smoker.  Nobody was getting into the smoker for some smoky treats unless he let you.  Period.  At that point, the name was settled.

As I mentioned, Jed liked getting his ears scratched,


and laying in the sun.


But, he absolutely loved to play in the snow.


He would go outside and run around like a fool, chasing snowflakes until he was tired.  Then he would lay down in the snow and we would have to go drag him inside so he didn't freeze to the ground.

Unfortunately, the one lab trait that Jed developed over time was arthritis.  His hips were stiff and the act of walking, sitting, and getting up became harder and harder.  But, we got him some pills and he started moving around better.  Unfortunately, when Ellie Mae passed three months ago, Jed started to give up.  You see, Jed and Ellie Mae were thick as thieves.  They did everything together.  Jed knew that Ellie Mae was sick and laid with her until the end.  He never did accept her passing.  He ate less and less and moped around the house.  Fortunately, we had some warm weather these past few weeks and Jed was able to lay in the warm sun a few more times.

In hindsight, Hope and I truly believe that Jed died of a broken heart.  I know it sounds cliche, but it is unfortunately true.  So, now Ellie Mae and Jed are together again.  They get to lay in the sun and run together without any pain.  Someday, I will get to see them again and Jed will kick me to the backseat.  I will gladly sit in the back, scratch his ears, and smile...


Thanks for stopping by,

Bill