Tag Archives: kosher salt

Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.

I was trying to think of what to stuff in this mini bacon-wrapped meatloaf, and then my husband brought in a bunch of poblanos from the garden. Usually I stuff the poblanos with meat and cheese, so it was just a matter of turning the whole thing inside-out. Traditionally, you wouldn’t use bacon with stuffed poblanos, but I didn’t expect the stuffed poblano police to stop by, so I didn’t worry about it. Smoking takes time, and ground meat needs a fatty buffer, like bacon, to keep it moist during the longer cooking. It took about 2 hours to smoke to the point that a little cheese started to melt out of one end, and a thermometer registered 165º-170º in the center (of course, the center was pepper and cheese).

I only used 1 lb of ground meat for the two of us, and there were still leftovers. You’ll have to consider how much to make for your group. Usually, for example, I would use 1 lb of ground meat to make four burgers, and we would have one left over. Personally, I prefer less than a quarter pound for my burger, but I’m probably unusual. You could make several of these rolls for a larger group of people. I cut our one roll into six thick slices.

I made a woven mat of bacon to wrap the filled meatloaf in, using my favorite local thick-sliced bacon. It’s very thick and so you can’t stretch it like the typical thin commercial bacon. I made the mat 6 strips wide, but had to add partial pieces into the weaving to make it fully woven. I’m not sure you can see those half pieces in the photo. After wrapping the roll, I sealed the edges with another strip and put that side of the roll down on the grill grate. I didn’t worry about having beautiful ends, but I did pinch the rolled meat together to hold in the cheese for as long as possible. I wrapped it all tightly in plastic and refrigerated it for about an hour to try to convince it to stay in that nice loaf shape. The lesson here is this: Don’t fret about the appearance too much. Just take your time and keep handling it until it all seems to hold together. Believe me, the gorgeous smoked bacon on the outside and the gooey cheese on the inside will overpower any construction flaws.

Inside-Out Stuffed Poblanos. Smoked. With Bacon.

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground beef, 93% lean
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and cut in small dice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, mashed or grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ancho pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 poblano peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
  • 2 long 1/2″ wide sticks of Monterrey Jack cheese, each about the length of your meat roll (it doesn’t matter if you have to use smaller pieces)
  • 1 pkg thick-sliced bacon, at least 12 strips

Preparation

  1. On a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper, make a mat of woven bacon, about 6 strips wide and using as many pieces as you need to weave in the opposite direction. If you make it too big, you can always remove pieces, as needed. Set aside.
  2. Mix the first eleven ingredients together in a large bowl—meat, breadcrumbs, tomatoes, and spices. Form the meat into a log about the length of your bacon mat, then pat it out on a piece of plastic wrap to make a square.  It was easy enough to pat it out with my hands, but I’ve seen videos of people using rolling pins and even large plastic bags. Just make it even and squared off at the corners so you don’t end up with a football shape.
  3. Lay out sections of poblano peppers to fit the meat, but don’t worry about getting them out to the ends, because you want to pinch them together after rolling.
  4. Lay sticks of cheese on top of the peppers lengthwise and far enough apart that you can roll them up in the meat. But this isn’t rocket science—fill the roll as full as you like with as much as you can cram in there.
  5. Roll up the meat, using the plastic wrap to help you. Roll rather tightly and firmly, using pressure from your hands to mold and keep it all together. Pinch the ends together to cover the filling and pat the ends kind of flat so you have a neat cylinder.
  6. Set the meat roll on the mat of bacon and use the plastic wrap to bring the bacon up the sides—if you’re lucky the bacon will meet or come close to meeting and you can weave in a last piece to hold it together. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for about an hour. Bring it out about 30 minutes before  the grill is ready, but leave in the plastic wrap.
  7. Set up the grill for slow, indirect heat with a 2 X 2 charcoal snake and a few handfuls of wood chips scattered over it. When your starter coals are ready and you’ve started the snake, set the roll on the cooking grate above a drip pan and close the grill. Cook and smoke for about 1 1/2-2 hours. The bacon should be browned and glossy with crispy areas, and the center will probably reach at least 165º, but keep in mind that you are measuring melted cheese in the center.
  8. Remove to a cutting board; let rest for a few minutes; then cut in thick slices.

I ended up burning only 1/3 of my charcoal snake, so today, I’m smoking some ribs with the remainder.

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Coconut Pheasant Satay

I’m just about done with last season’s pheasant supply in the freezer. Last year, I made just about every type of pheasant meatball I could think of, so I’ve tried to find some other things to do with it this year, our favorite dish of late being a pheasant version of butter chicken. Today I’m grilling skewered strips of pheasant breast, which is pretty much going to be like flash cooking, as it will only take a minute or so on each side to be done. I’m starting with a coconut milk marinade and serving it with a peanut sauce made with some of the reserved marinade. Meat on a stick seems like a good weekend meal.

Coconut Pheasant Satay

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Marinade/Dipping Sauce

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons red curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste or grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste or grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (for marinade)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt or to taste ( for dipping sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • Optional additions: soy sauce and sesame oil

Preparation

  1. Mix the first four ingredients—coconut milk, curry powder, ginger, garlic—until well combined. Pour half the mixture into a second bowl.
  2. To the first bowl, whisk in the tablespoon of salt, and add the pheasant strips to marinate. Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours. Remove at least 30 minutes before grilling to skewer and to come to room temperature.
  3. To the second bowl, whisk in the tahini, peanut butter, and the teaspoon of salt. Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving. The sauce should be served at room temperature.

Grilling

  1. Remove marinating pheasant from refrigerator and skewer strips onto soaked bamboo skewers. Allow to come to room temperature while preparing the grill.
  2. Set up grill for direct heat at 400° using 40-50 briquettes. Unless you are grilling something else, like a vegetable first, you will be done grilling long before the coals burn down to ash, so don’t waste them by using too many. Still you need to reach a hot temperature.
  3. When the grill is hot, brush the cooking grate with oil and grill each skewer for 1-2 minutes per side. Don’t overcook.
  4. Serve with dipping sauce.

Even though soaked, some of your skewers will probably burn up on the grill, like mine, and you could be left with stubs. It did not affect our eating them all. I think the professional cooking sites, just brown the meat with a blow torch 😉

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

My favorite way to use the slow cooker is on the high setting, where I can count on meats not being dried out and flavorless. That’s what I find happens when you cook meat for 8-10 hours while you are at work. Soups and dried bean recipes do well for the long cooking, but even then any added meats are usually overcooked, unless you have a large piece like a pork shoulder. So, I’ve found a number of recipes that cook up in 3-5 hours, like my Butter Chicken/Pheasant recipe, that takes care of the delicate little pheasant breasts. Of course, I’m retired, so I can make use of the shorter cooking times any day of the week.

This slow cooker pulled chicken is a variation of the slow cooker pulled pork recipe originally from Chowhound. Here are the few changes I’ve made to accommodate chicken:

  1. I cut back the cinnamon in the rub to 1/2 teaspoon
  2. I rubbed the chicken pieces with the rub and let them marinate in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about 4 hours
  3. I only used one onion and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, because I only used 5 boneless chicken thighs

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • Rub:
    • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Preparation

  1. Place the chicken and rub in a large plastic bag, seal, and turn to coat all pieces well. Refrigerate for about 4 hours or even overnight.
  2. In the crock of a slow cooker, place the onions, garlic, and chicken broth. Place the chicken pieces on top and close the lid.
  3. Cook on high for about 4 hours. Pull the chicken apart in the crock and mix well with the onions and broth.
  4. Pile meat on buns and serve your favorite way, which for us is with a creamy slaw.

Dishing Out the Holiday Food

First, I have a hard time calling Memorial Day a holiday, having had a parent die in a war, but while it’s not all fireworks and getting drunk around here, I do make food like I would make for any seasonal celebration.

Since there are just the two of us here, I can’t justify making a feast like what a big gathering might have, so I’m making three good meals and spreading them out over the three days of the long weekend. Yesterday, we had potato salad—a big favorite around here—with a grilled venison backstrap. No dessert, because, well, we think of potato salad as dessert, itself!

Tomorrow, it will just be your typical grilled burgers with skewers of grilled summer squash, your choice of yesterday’s potato salad or today’s slaw, and a little leftover dessert from today.

Today, I’m grilling some baby back ribs, brined in an orange-Asian marinade and basted with a spicy orange-Asian glaze. Cole slaw for a side and for dessert, a blueberry clafoutis. The ribs are not going to be like the last ones, cooked low and slow with a charcoal snake, but cooked over an indirect higher heat, around 350°-400° for two hours, periodically basted with the glaze. They are more of a wet rib, but one that doesn’t require a thick drippy sauce. The glaze cooks down to a thick, sticky coating that complements the marinated pork.

Baby Back Ribs with Orange-Asian Glaze

  • Servings: 1 rack of ribs, about 3 lbs
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Overnight brine/marinade:
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 -2 tablespoons grated garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Combine all ingredients and pour over ribs in large glass dish or in sealable plastic bags. I cut my rack in half and put each half in a plastic bag, dividing the marinade between them. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight, removing from refrigerator about 1/2 hour before cooking.

Orange-Asian Grilling Glaze:
  • 2 cups orange juice, reduced over medium-high heat to 1 cup
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Huy Fong Vietnamese Chili Garlic sauce

After orange juice is reduced by half, remove to a measuring cup, then stir in other ingredients. Use to baste the ribs every 15 minutes on the grill.

Cooking the ribs:

1 three lb rack of pork back ribs, marinated overnight

Orange-Asian glaze

  1. Set up your grill for indirect cooking, so that you have enough coals for at least two hours. I started with 50 coals in the chimney starter, then dropped about ten more coals on the ash pile to make sure it would keep going.
  2. Place the marinated ribs opposite the heated side of the grill and close the cover. It should come up to about 400° and drop to around 350° by the end of the second hour. Keep in mind that the temperature drops every time you open the lid to baste the ribs.
  3. Set one timer for 1 1/2 hours and another timer for 15 minutes. Baste the ribs with the glaze every 15 minutes, resetting that timer. If after 1 1/2 hours, you think the ribs could go longer, try another half hour. I felt that the full two hours was good and that more time would not add anything significant to the recipe.

The ribs were moist and tender inside, sticky and spicy outside, without any added sugar, just the natural sugars in the orange juice.

Blueberry Clafoutis: See the recipe for Pear Clafoutis and substitute one pint of fresh blueberries for the pears.