Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cheyenne Burger

This is another great recipe from Steven Raichlen's Planet Barbecue!. In particular this is dubbed "Bobby Flay's Cheyenne Burger." It sounded simple enough, but I was almost completely unprepared for exactly how delicious this was going to be--especially when you consider that this is a turkey burger recipe.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised. When you start with big ol strips of lovely bacon, you're going to win. Am I right? I tried Wright Brand Bacon for the first time. This was apple smoked, thick cut and very, very tasty--even by bacon standards.

The part of this recipe that really piqued my attention wast the homemade onion rings to serve on top of the burger. I'd never tried this before. 

The instructions in the book were not all that specific so I winged it a little. It did specify heating peanut oil to 360f in a heavy pot. I used my cast iron Dutch oven. It also said you dredge the cut onions through flour seasoned with pepper, salt and cayenne pepper (amounts were not specified). Then you dunk the rings in salt and pepper seasoned buttermilk. Lastly before dropping them in the oil you dredge them back through the flour. 

I had ambitions of making up a whole mess of onion rings, but it all got really messy, goopy and frustrating after a while. I had some lovely specimens and decided that about a dozen or so were plenty for our burgers.

As the burgers cooked, I brushed the buns with olive oil and gave 'em a quick toast.

So to bring it all together, you slap cheddar on the turkey burgers as they come to 165f. Then you set them on the bun in a little puddle of BBQ sauce (I used Stubb's Spicy). Top them with bacon, onion rings and pickle chips and you're ready to eat a real treat.

I set up the photo of the burger shown at the top of the page. My four-year-old was licking his lips and called dibs on that one. He's not always the biggest eater in the world, but he put away nearly the whole thing.

My six-year-old DID eat the whole thing and made quite a fuss over its deliciousness.

I love this shot. My daughter is happy and my son is ripping at the bacon like a feral dog.

This was easy and really darned good. Thanks for reading.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Venison Steaks and Stuffed Acorn Squash

 First of all I feel the need to clear my reputation. Just because my recent post was a vegan recipe, it doesn't mean I've gone vegan. We straight on that?

In fact our most recent grilled meal included delicious venison from the doe pictured here, which my dad killed back in November. I've got over 20 lbs of venison in the freezer. When I announced I was going cook some of the deer meat, my wife was motivated to find something hearty to eat instead--er--I mean go WITH it.

We tried stuffed acorn squash. She discovered this recipe
Here's what you need:
  • 4 acorn squash, halved lengthwise; seeds and membrane removed 
  • 1 cup organic brown rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice (we used only wild rice)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (you may use any nut of your preference)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (we used fresh)
  • 1/8 teaspoon each ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
So guess what? It's daggum hard to split an acorn squash. Hard, but fortunately, not impossible. Otherwise there wouldn't me much more to say on the matter of eating acorn squash.

So here's what you do:

1. Preheat oven to 375º F.
2. Cook both varieties of rice together in broth or water with ¼ teaspoon of salt (omit salt if broth is already salted).
3. Meanwhile, place squash halves, cut side down, into a large shallow baking dish or cookie sheet (you may need two). Bake for 30 minutes. 

[We did need two baking surfaces. One was the oven (yawn). The other was the Big Green Egg (yesss).]

4. In a skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until it becomes transparent. Add the celery and sauté a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Using a large mixing bowl, blend this mixture together with the cooked rice, cranberries, nuts, apricots, and remaining seasonings.
5. When done, remove the partially baked squash from the oven. Spoon out some of the cooked squash and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Be sure to scrape only a little; you want to leave squash in the shells, too.
6. Press the rice mixture into each squash cavity, mounding rice as much as possible. (Depending on how large the squash are, you may end up with some leftover rice mixture, which makes a great side dish by itself.)
7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until squash flesh is thoroughly tender.

Pretty tasty-looking stuffing if you ask me.

So I thought it looked like we were cooking up some crazy turtles or something.
After 30 minutes we stuffed the squash. Some of them went back in the oven. Others, back on the Egg. All of them cooked another 30 minutes.

Once the squash was done, I took out the plate setter and opened it up the Egg to get it good and hot for the venison.
Right so the venison. All I did was spray it with olive oil and season it up with some sea salt and fresh-ground pepper. Then I cooked it to an internal temp of 165f after searing it on both sides.
And there we have it. I mean dang. This was a great meal. The venison really has terrific flavor. It's not at all gamey. And it's not jacked full of antibiotics or hormones. It's just a very tasty, flavorful, clean food. Superb. I even snuck some nibbles to the kids without telling them what it was. They snapped it up with enthusiasm.
The acorn squash was great too. It had a very savory quality, punctuated by the sweet and tanginess of the cranberries. The ginger and apricot did a lot to give this a really nice taste too. It felt like some sort of druid feast of the forest or something. But it was one of those meals when I pushed back from the table I found myself very contented and pleased.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In with the new

Dear reader: I realize you're going to think I've totally made this whole thing up. You're going to think I just did an image search for "dumpy grill" and one for "dream grill" and created a little short story around it.

But I swear. Every word you're about to read is true.

My next door neighbor has moved out. He left this at the curb:
In its prime this was a proud and mighty Weber 3-burner propane grill with a side burner. For all I know--back in the day--this was the nicest grill on the street. Today? Total garbage. Now, don't get me wrong. I'll jump on an old grill. But this was beyond repair. I know. It's sad.

And now for a little back story. 

A friend of mine reached out recently. We hadn't spoken for about a year. It's probably fair to say we were mostly barbecue friends. Sure our lives had other connecting fibers. But he and I were always on the same wavelength when the conversation turned to smoked meats. He and I like to talk barbecue joints and smokers and sauces. Stuff like that. We've never actually cooked together. But we've talked casually about taking a vacation day or something to hang out and cook some pulled pork.

So a recently he shoots me an email. And in the email he's got a photo of his smoker (below). Of course, I'm all jealous of it. I mean look at it. And I reply something to the effect of how it's now on my wish list of dream cookers.

He calls me up a couple of days later to let me know that I can take it off my wish list. I'm thinking, "Is he trying to sell it to me?!" Turns out he and his family are moving in next door. No, for real!

If I've never said this, the neighbor on the other side of me also has a Big Green Egg. So now among the three houses we're going to be this big outdoor cooking consortium or something. I'm so excited. Since moving here in 2008, I've been very happy with the neighborhood. I must say I'm getting even happier.

If you smell something tasty cooking in the neighborhood,  come on by.