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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spatchcocked Pheasant with a Seasoned Butter Injection

During another recent round of Ice Cave Inventory Reduction, Hope found a nice pheasant from a hunting trip that I was on a few years ago.  Usually, I just roast these tasty little birds.  But, I was considering either grilling or smoking this gem from the Ice Cave.  Also, it seems that spatchcocking your poultry, whether it be turkey or chicken, is in vogue this year.  I have spatchcocked chickens on the grill in the past.  So, I know it is a great way to cook a bird fast with high heat that crisps up the skin nicely without burning and keeps the meat inside tender and juicy.  After some thought, I decided to go the route of the smoker.

I was a bit short for time, so no brine for this bird.  Also, when I scanned our pantry, I did not have any of my go to rub for game.  So, on the fly, I tried something new.  Here is the method.

First, rinse your pheasant and dry.  Then, spatchcock the bird.  How do you do that?  Very simple.  But first, what is spatchcocking you ask?  Well, it is a method for butterflying poultry.  You flip your bird over and remove the backbone using a good pair of sharp poultry shears.  Once the backbone is removed, you turn the bird back over while spreading open the cavity.  Then, you press down until your hear the breastbone crack.  Wallah, a spatchcocked bird.

Washed and dried.

Flipped back side up.

Backbone removed.

Flipped back over and pressed until butterflied.

Now what?  Well, I opted for a butter and rub injection.  I melted once stick of butter with 1 Tbsp of Butchers Honey Rub, then mixed until uniform.

A stick of butter you cry! Why so much fat?  Keep in mind, pheasant is a very lean piece of poultry.  During the cooking process, the butter will render from the pheasant, leaving behind the rub for flavoring and keeping the meat moist.  Trust me, your bird will not be fatty tasting at all.

Next, I injected the butter mixture all though out the pheasant, concentrating on the breasts and legs.  Then, I took a brush and applied the remains of the bowl on the skin to ensure a nice crispy and flavorful skin.

While I was prepping this bird, my smoker was coming up to temperature, around 350 F.  After placing some pecan in the ash pan, I placed the pheasant on the top rack to roast for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, I had a bird that was 165 F in the breast and 170 in the thigh with a nice crispy skin.

After resting for 15 minutes, I carved the bird.  To do so, I removed the breasts and sliced/shredded each.  Then, I took off the wings and pulled the thighs and legs off as one whole piece.

Not a hint of butter on the inside.  The rub left behind a nice hint of honey and spice.  The meat was juicy and the skin perfect.  Have a few pheasant in your Ice Cave from this past season?  Give this recipe a try.

Thanks for stopping by,


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Smoked Marrow Bone Beef Broth

One night as I was cruising the Internet for ideas, I stumbled upon this recipe for Roast Beef Stock on the Bon Appétit website that sounded pretty good.  I thought I would give it a go with one modification, roasting the bones in my smoker to add a little smoke flavor to the future broth.  Here is the process laid out.

First, you need five pounds of beef or veal marrow bones from your butcher.  Dirt cheap usually.  We bought five pounds for about $7.50.  Remember to ask your butcher to cut them in half or quarters so that you have more marrow surface area exposed for that caramelized goodness.

I lit my smoker and brought to 450 F, placed some pecan in the ash pan for smoke flavor, then placed the pan on the top rack.  The recipe calls for 30 minutes of roasting time.  While waiting, I went inside and prepared my veggies.

Quartered sweet onion, celery, one head of garlic, and carrots (yes, they are hiding on the bottom) go into this stock.  After the bones had their first 30 minutes of roasting time, I went out and placed the veggies in the pan and allowed the whole mix to roast for 30 more minutes.

Bones at 30 minutes:

Everything after 60 minutes total:

I was a little worried that there was not enough crusty brown on the veggies or the bottom of the pan, but I pressed forward.  I transferred everything into my stock pot then added enough water to cover everything.  While I was bringing this mix to a boil, I added two cups of water to the pan and scraped what little caramelization there was off the bottom.  Once that was done, I transferred this liquid into the pan.  Once at a boil, I reduced the heat and let simmer on low for four hours.

After four hours:

Veggies removed and broth strained:

Warning, do not make this broth if you are hungry.  We were tortured during the four hours of simmering with a beefy, smoky flavor that had me craving some sort of beef.  We took a pint of this liquid and turned into gravy to try it out.  First, we placed onside leftover trip-tip and egg noodles.  The next day we ladled the gravy over some grilled stuffed flank steak, an impulse buy at the butcher.

Here is our total yield, minus a pint for the gravy: seven pints and two half gallons.  Once cool, I placed in the freezer for future use.

I was hoping for more of a deeper color, but I will correct that by roasting a bit longer on the smoker. The smokiness was detectable, but not overpowering.  This broth made a killer gravy that will find its way to our next roast beef.  I also have some plans for a few soups and perhaps even a brisket injection.  This is good stuff.  Click on the link above and give this a try.

Thanks for stopping by,


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Wood Fired Sweet Sausage and Broccoli Pizza

We have a local pizza joint around here that has a specialty pizza made with broccoli rabe and sweet sausage.  The sauce is a white base: olive oil, garlic, thyme, oregano, and a hint a basil.  I love that pie.  Ever since I had my first piece, I have wanted to make one at home.

Unfortunately, I cannot find broccoli rabe, otherwise known as rapini, in my local grocery.  What is broccoli rabe you ask?  Think the love child of broccoli and spinach.  Looks kinda like spinach with a hint of broccoli, tastes kinda like broccoli with a hint of spinach.  It is a nice bitter Italian green that sauteés well.  A perfect balance to the fattiness of some browned sweet sausage.  Since I cannot find rabe in the store, I substituted regular broccoli.  Lets head to the kitchen.

First, I took enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small bowl and added 1/2 tsp each oregano and thyme, then 1/4 tsp of basil.  I also added one large minced garlic clove and a grinding of sea salt and pepper.  Since this pizza was for me and not Hope, I also added 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper for some heat.  I allowed this to sit while I moved on to my other preparations.

Next, I browned some sweet Italian sausage.  I did not cook the whole way through.  Probably about 80% cooked so that it would finish the rest of the way while the pizza was cooking.  When done, I placed in a paper towel lined bowl to soak up the fat.

Next, I took half of a head of broccoli and removed the florets.  Then, with a pairing knife, I broke the florets down into smaller pieces.  For some texture, I took some of the stalks, quarter them, then sliced thinly.  In a saute pan, I heated some olive oil and sautéed the broccoli until it was starting to get soft, but still retained its crispiness.

I also added a little more crushed red pepper for a little more kick.

When the broccoli was done, I mixed it with a half cup of the browned sausage and mixed thoroughly.

While I was firing up our new toy, the PizzaKettle, Hope offered to build my pie.  She brushed the dough with the olive oil mixture, then layered sliced fresh mozzarella, then added the broccoli and sausage mixture.

After four minutes in the PizzaKettle with a 180 rotation two minutes into the cook I had a perfect pizza pie.  You can also bake this pizza in your oven at 450 F for 20 minutes if you choose.

I liked how my first attempt at this pie turned out.  I am missing the bitterness of the broccoli rabe, but the broccoli itself was a nice substitute.  If I cannot find rabe in the future, I might substitute half of the broccoli for some spinach.  The next time you are looking for something different in a pizza, give this one a try.

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Product Review - Kettlepizza Pizza Oven

Most of you in the smoking and grilling world will agree.  65-75% of the BBQ gadgets you see for sale do not live up to even the most average of expectations.  But, when you find one in the 25-35%, the feeling of success is great.  Isn't it?  I have had my eye on a Kettlepizza pizza oven for quite awhile now.  But, I was hesitant to pay the $149 for the base model fearing this would go the way of the majority of BBQ gadgets.  Last month though, I saw the basic set: oven insert, thermometer, and aluminum pizza pan, on sale for $99 with shipping.  Time to pull the trigger.  

The Kettlepizza oven is just a stainless steel insert that you place on top of your Weber kettle grill.  Minimal assembly took about 10 minutes and it will fit either the 18 or 22 inch Weber kettle grills. Once assembled, the grate from the grill is placed into the insert and the grill dome is placed on top of that.  There is a thermometer for monitoring your "oven" temperature and an opening in front so that you can slide your pie inside for cooking.    You can either cook your pizza in the aluminum pan or slide it onto a pizza stone from a pizza peel.  

For your heat source, the instructions state to light one chimney of charcoal, then spread in a semicircle in along the back half of the grill.  Then, splits of wood are placed on top of the coals so that the heat inside the grill gets up to or above 700 F.  

I chose to use the pizza stone/pizza peel method.  It was also suggested by a BBQ friend to place one or two bricks above the fire and behind your cooking stone to help distribute the heat.  So, once I had added the wood to the fire, I placed my stone on the grates along with two bricks, placed the insert on the grill, and covered with the lid to the grill.  

I also tossed some corn meal on the stone, as suggested, to aid in sliding the pie off of the peel.  Yes, it was raining out.  My luck.

According to the instructions, within 15-20 minutes, I should have a temperature between 600-700 F inside the "oven", hot enough to cook a pizza within four minutes.  I was not disappointed.  The picture is a bit blurry, but as you can see, right in the middle, 650 F.  I even had it pegged at 700 F+ at one point.  

So, time to slide in the first pizza.  Unfortunately, I made the dough (Hope usually does) and it was a bit sticky.  So, the pies did not slide off of the peel easily.  That is the explanation for the ugly looking  pizza shapes.  Rest assured, when Hope made the dough, it slid right off of the peel and onto the stone.  But, I digress.  

Once at temperature, the directions say to place the pizza on your stone, then rotate 180 degrees after two minutes.  Then, after two more minutes, your pie is ready to remove and eat.  How did this toy work?  I am glad to report that it met and exceeded my expectations.  After two minutes the crust was firm enough to turn with ease.  I would suggest doing so with BBQ tongs if you are not experienced with a pizza peel as I.  Then, when pulled after four minutes, the pizza was perfect.  



Perfect, brick oven style pizza.  Crispy crust, brown and bubbly cheese.  Outstanding!

I would highly recommend this product.  Kettlepizza has many models that can include pizza stones and pizza peels. The base model is $149, but you can find deals out there.  Keep an eye out on the Internet.  This product is worth the $149 for the base model if you like good pizza.  We got a steal for $99.  In the future, we will not be cooking pizza any other way in the Three Dogs household.

Thanks for stopping by,