Tag Archives: oregano

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
  • Print

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.

Save

Venison Empanadas

This recipe makes eight large empanadas—I’m freezing four for later—but you could easily make smaller, snack-sized empanadas. I used half venison and half ground beef in the filling, but you could substitute any other ground meat combination, or even a filling with no meat. Because you need a cool filling, you should make it early in the day or the day before, so it has time to cool before filling the dough—this also cuts down on the commotion of rolling and filling dough at dinnertime.

For the dough, I’m using the one from Martha Stewart’s “Basic Empanadas” recipe. I recommend this simple dough, which is buttery and tender and easy to handle, considering all the rolling and shaping you need to do. I recommend watching the video on the page, especially if you haven’t made this sort of a hand pie before. The one thing I did differently was to use the food processor instead of mixing by hand—even with that, the dough remained tender. I felt, though, that I had to add way more than the one cup of cold water in the recipe for the dough to come together, maybe as much as an extra half cup. The video tip to let the dough rest before rolling seemed like a good idea, keeping the dough from trying to shrink as you roll it. Here are the simple ingredients for that dough (follow instruction on the site):

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup cold water
  • egg wash for sealing and for brushing on tops

 

Venison Empanada Filling

  • Servings: enough for 8 large servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground venison
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup garlic, minced
  • 2-3 roasted red peppers, diced
  • about 6 canned plum tomatoes, diced, plus enough of the juice (maybe 1/2 cup) to moisten the meat
  • Spices:
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed or ground dried juniper berries
    • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
    • 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
    • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dried cilantro
Preparation
  1. Brown the venison and beef in a large skillet over medium heat. Use oil if you think you need it, but the beef should provide plenty of fat. Remove any excess fat, so the final mixture is not greasy.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they begin to soften.
  3. Stir in spices, red peppers, and tomatoes. Bring to a low boil, then simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Remove to a large low dish, like a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. If you think the mixture is too wet, remove it from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Most of my liquid cooked off.
  4. Cool the filling, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to fill the empanadas.

Baking: The filled empanadas bake for 30 minutes at 400° on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Frozen ones will take about 40 minutes and do not need to be thawed first.

White Bean Chicken Chili—Slow Cooker

I’m reluctant to call this dish chili, even though I know lots of people do just because it’s a combination of beans and meat. I think it’s a stretch, though, and like so many other dishes, I wish some inventive person had come up with another name. Still, I can see how chili is a good shorthand for it.

I think most recipes use boneless, skinless chicken, but I felt using bone-in chicken would add to the flavor during the long simmer in the slow cooker and also keep the meat from being drained of all its juices, as can happen in slow cooking. I opted for a whole split chicken breast, but I could see using a whole cut-up chicken. Yes, it means you have to add the step of pulling off the meat at the end, but that’s not a big deal.

What’s left then are the other flavors that make the dish a chili and not just a white bean stew or soup. In my chili, the main flavoring is from reconstituted dried ancho peppers—that’s what makes chili red (not tomatoes, please) and gives it its spice. If you’re keeping track of what peppers are called in their fresh and dried versions, you know that anchos start out as poblanos, and I have a ton of those in the garden that we’re hoping will turn red. But I have already roasted, peeled, and seeded a few trays of the green variety for the freezer, so I pulled a few out and chopped them up for this milder chili. I also have some jalapeños in the freezer, but I’d prefer to use those in a salsa or something with tomatoes. I think the poblanos will go well with the other traditional flavors of cumin, oregano, onion, and garlic (I used one of my frozen garlic cubes). I threw in a bay leaf, too, just because I can’t bring myself to cook chicken without one. Here it is ready for the long cook:

I would eat it as it turned out, but I didn’t want my husband to think it was soup—the horror!—so I thickened it with a flour and butter beurre manié. He couldn’t guess the ingredients in the chili—or even that there was such a thing as white chili—but he liked it a lot. I think it’s the poblanos that really made it so tasty.

chili

White Bean Chicken Chili—Slow Cooker

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients
  • 1 lb dried great northern beans, soaked overnight, then drained and rinsed
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • about 1 tablespoon mashed, roasted garlic or equivalent
  • 2-3 poblano peppers, fresh or roasted, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • about 2 lbs chicken, bone-in or boneless ( I would leave boneless pieces whole and cut up at end), browned if with skin
Preparation
  1. Place all ingredients in slow cooker, adding chicken pieces last. Make sure to brown the pieces if they still have the skin on for a richer final flavor.
  2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  3. Remove meat from bones, if necessary, and stir back into the beans.
  4. You can mash some of the beans to thicken the chili or stir in a beurre manié of flour and butter during the last hour of cooking. I always thicken my red chili with a mixture of masa flour and water, and I suppose you could do that here, as well.

*Chicken stock is usually salted, so take that into consideration when salting.

 

Venison Chili on the Grill

Long ago, I posted my traditional method of making chili, whether with venison, beef, or a combination of the two. I use two pots on the stove, cooking beans using a quick soak method in one pot, and cooking the meat in another pot. Between the pots, I share the flavoring base of reconstituted ancho chiles, onions, garlic, and spices, and then I combine the pots into one for the last hour of cooking. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, and I just do it all from habit. Actually, I consider it a really easy dish to make. Of course, I usually made too much for the two of us, and I’m paring down the ingredients in lots of my old recipes, like this one.

Recently, I tried to adapt the recipe to my new slow cooker, first soaking the beans overnight, which I never do with the quick-soak method. It turned out okay, but it seemed too wet, too soupy, and beyond using more water than needed, I’m not sure why that happens in the slow cooker. I’ll probably fool with the recipe in the winter to see if I can make it work out right. Or I’ll just go back to the two pot method on the stove.

It’s almost too warm for chili, now, but I thought I’d try it out in my cast iron Dutch oven on the grill, since after all, it’s the traditional cowboy chuck wagon meal to cook over a fire. Now I can see why it’s such a beloved campfire dish.

This might be the best chili of all time, really thick and rich with a deep red color that I never get on the stove.

I have a Weber® Master Touch® grill which has a removable insert in the grate for using cooking pieces, like the chicken cooker or griddle, or like today, a cast iron Dutch oven. To make indirect heat around the center, I made a 2 x 2 charcoal snake, one that usually last 6-8 hours, not knowing how much time I would need. As it turned out, 3 hours was enough, and as you can see in the images, I only needed half the snake. I simply separated the two halves at the end, saving the unburned half for the next day’s grilling.

Venison Chili on the Grill

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: time consuming
  • Print

1/2 lb dried pinto beans

2 lbs venison, in both cubes and ground, or the same in beef/pork

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons salt

5 dried ancho peppers, reconstituted with 2 cups water, pureed, and strained (see below)

  1. Soak 1/2 lb dried pinto beans overnight in water to cover by 3 inches. Drain and rinse when ready to use.
  2. Brown 1 lb venison cubes and 1 lb ground venison in 2-4 tablespoons coconut oil, olive oil, or bacon fat in large cast iron dutch oven.
  3. In a skillet, saute onions and garlic in oil until translucent, then stir in spices, stirring until fragrant.
  4. Combine browned venison, strained beans, and onion mixture in dutch oven.
  5. Pour in ancho pepper puree and stir to combine. You may need to add more water to cover, because the beans still need to cook, but you don’t need to cover by more than 1/2 inch. I added about 1 cup more water, so that with the puree, I had a total of 3 cups liquid.
  6. Cover and cook with slow indirect heat, about 225°-250°, for about 3 hours.If you don’t have a grate like mine, you can set the dutch oven directly on the coal grate and build the snake around it, but not touching the sides or the pot.
  7. I imagine you could cook it in a slow oven, too, and I will be trying that out in the winter.

Once you get it on the grill, you have 3 hours to do nothing, or I guess you could make some cornbread.

Reconstituted Dried Ancho Chiles
  1. Rinse 5 dried chiles, removing stems and seeds
  2. Tear into pieces and place in small container or bowl
  3. Cover with 2 cups boiling water; cover container with plastic wrap
  4. Set aside for about 45 minutes
  5. Place reconstituted chiles in blender with part of the liquid, adding the rest a little at a time to make a purée about the consistency of thick tomato sauce
  6. Strain puree through a fine strainer to remove pieces of skin—just keep stirring the mixture in the strainer until only the skin pulp remains (maybe 10 minutes)