Sunday, March 24, 2013

Snow, Ribs, & Something Cool

Last year at this time it was 81 degrees.  Today, it was this:

Grilling in the Snow 

I prefer 2012.

Even with a winter storm warning in effect, I felt obligated to fire up the grill. I had a rack of ribs in the fridge which I refused to freeze.  Fortunately, BBQ takes precedence over inclement weather.

Rubbed Ribs

Ribs are always a special treat, which is why the weather wasn't a concern.  Ribs are also incredibly versatile, as they can be a platform for almost any flavor.  A rack of ribs with no clear plan isn't a problem.  Earlier this week it was herb encrusted on the rotisserie, today it was simple rub with BBQ sauce.  

Final Minutes

Wood chunks or chips?  On the Performer, I prefer chunks.  Ribs on the Weber take about 4-5 hours.  Once the lid is down, I don't open it until I decide to either remove the ribs or sauce them.

Brushing Sauce

When I remove the lid, the sudden flow of oxygen tends to re-ignite the chunks.  When I sauce the ribs this works another layer of smoke in with the sauce.  I love this.  Sadly, if using chips, there usually isn't whole lot left to burn, so it's chunks for me.

Sliced Rack

The end result was sweet, succulent, and smokey.

Ribs are Ready

Now I've covered the snow and the ribs.  How about the cool?

Last Wednesday was off the wall crazy.  I had the privilege of working with some incredibly talented professionals about a subject matter dear to my heart and stomach.  I will be coy for now, but in five weeks the blanks will be filled in.  As a teaser, I leave you with this:

Something cool is coming

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Relatively Wordless Wednesday

Tilt Shift Summit

Tilt Shift Summit

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like Guinness and nothing says dinner like Cajun Rub & Smoked Guinness Beer Can Chicken.

Cajun Rubbed & Smoked Guinness Beer Can Chicken

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!

Arthur would be proud...I hope

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BBQ Reheat

Regular readers of this blog know just how jazzed up I've been about my vacuum sealer.  Outside of its super human marinade ability, it is also indispensable when it comes to something I call "leftovers management".

BBQ and stews almost always mean leftovers.  Historically, I would toss whatever was left over in an assortment of plastic bags and 1970's tupperware.  Sometimes I would freeze the remains.  Other times I would stick it in the fridge and convince myself I could eat it all in three days.

In the end, I had bad pork in the freezer and questionable beef in the fridge.  It just never worked out.

Enter the vacuum sealer.  Everyone is trying to make money go further and one of the easiest places to do that is in the kitchen.  I know, I throw away a lot of food.  I hate it.  With the vacuum sealer, I knew I had a way of extending my leftovers, but I at the time didn't realize I had a great way of re-heating them too.

First, the sealing.  

My vacuum sealer is a FoodSaver 3860 and it allows me to make bags of any size.  Using the internal roll dispenser, I pull out the desired length leaving enough room for the contents to be sealed.  At this point, the roll is more of a sleeve than a bag since both ends are open.

The Sealer

A built in cutter separates the sleeve from the roll.  Next, I seal the bottom to make a bag.

Sealing the Bottom

After I have created my bags, I mark them.  It is much easier to label and mark the bags empty versus when they are full.

The Label

With the bags labeled, I fill them.

Filling the Bags

Here it was barley wine pot roast.  Next week it could be pulled pork, brisket, or chicken.  Anything goes.

Filled Bags

With the bags filled, I have two options.  If the leftovers lack a lot of juice, they can be vacuumed sealed right away and frozen.  If, like the pot roast above, they are fluid heavy, I place them in the freezer to set up.  While some liquid can be extracted during the vacuuming process, I find a few hours in the freezer helps minimizing the extraction and in turn ensures a proper seal.

Bags in the freezer to set

The hardest part is finding a spot in the freezer.  The second hardest part is not forgetting the bags are in the freezer.  Set a reminder.  Siri...

Once the liquid has set up after a few hours, vacuum seal, and freeze.

A few weeks have gone by and I'm hungry for leftovers.  After pillaging the freezer contents, I decide on pot roast.  It sounds good.  Again.  

So, how do I heat it up?  Traditionally, I would empty the contents into a container and either nuke it or reheat it on the stove.  However, while holding the frozen bag of meat in my hand, I hardened back to an article I read on sous vide cooking.  

Sous vide is the process of cooking vacuum packed meat in a water bath.  Why not apply the same approach to cooked meat.  Sous vide can be an expensive process, as temperature control is extremely important to the final product.  However, temperature control with leftovers is not as important.  I just want it hot.  The process is easy.

Place the bag of frozen meat in a pot and then fill the pot half full with water.  Bring to a boil.

Leftovers Sous Vide Style

Typically, I just pull the bag out of the water when I see a ranging boil and the contents of the bag slop side to side.  It takes maybe 15 minutes total. It's not that technical.  I figure after several minutes in 212 F water, the meat is well on its up the mercury.

Leftover Pot Roast…still good.

The results?  Perfect.  Next time I'm feeding two, but cooking for an army, I won't think twice about leftovers.  I've got them well managed, on all fronts.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Come on Spring

This was one of those special days where I could see, smell, and taste spring.  We've not seen the sun in days and sixty degree weather?  That was 2012.

Roll on Spring

Come on spring.  You will not be here soon enough.

Pouring an Alpine Springs

I hope your weekend has been as good as mine.  Cheers.