Archive | August, 2013

Root Beer BBQ Sauce

15 Aug

A real simple sauce for us root beer lovers.

Root Beer BBQ Sauce

Root Beer BBQ Sauce

 

Ingredients:

6 cups root beer

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

1/8 cup apple cider vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

3 TBS brown sugar

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp black pepper

2 TBS worcetershire sauce

1 tsp yellow mustard

Directions:

Add the cinnamon stick to the root beer and boil it on high heat until it is reduced to about 1/3 of it’s original volume.  Reduce heat down to a slow rolling boil and remove the cinnamon.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the vinegar.  Boil for ten minutes.  Add the vinegar and reduce heat to a simmer for another ten minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.

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Pork Chops With Crumbled Bacon

15 Aug

While making my bacon wrapped sweet potatoes I decided to use the left over bacon bits to add to my smoked pork chops.

Smoked Pork Chops With Bacon Crumble

Smoked Pork Chops With Bacon Crumble

After the first layer of bbq sauce I just crumbled up the bacon on top and then added more sauce on top of that.  The pork chops were pretty thin to be smoking and I didn’t decide until today that was what I was going to do with them so I didn’t brine them like I usually would a piece of pork this thin.  Because of that they didn’t come out quite as juicy as I would have liked but they still tasted really good.  I used root beer bbq sauce on this batch of chops.  The wife wasn’t crazy about the sauce but she doesn’t love root beer like the boy and I do.  That and she’s really spoiled.

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

15 Aug

So many ways to make sweet potatoes and I haven’t found one yet that I didn’t like.  These ones are simple and delicious.

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

Bacon Wrapped Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

3-4 sweet potatoes

1lb  bacon

1/2 cup  maple syrup

1/4 tsp   cayenne

black pepper

toothpicks

Directions:

Set your smoker up at 225 deg.  While that is coming up to temp peal and rinse your sweet potatoes.  Slice them into pieces the same width as your bacon.  Wrap your potatoes with the bacon one time around until it overlaps.  Pin the bacon on with a toothpick and trim off the excess bacon.  Place your potatoes in a tin foil pan and sprinkle a little black pepper on the top.  Place your pan in the smoker and cook until the bacon is done and the potatoes are nice and soft, around 2 hours.  While that is cooking take your bacon trimmings plus the slices that were left over and chop them up into 1/4 pieces.  Fry those up nice and crispy.  You don’t need them for this recipe but just add them to whatever you want to make it 100% better.  Take a tablespoon of the bacon grease and add it to the maple syrup, along with the cayenne.  When the potatoes are about 15 minutes from being done.  Pour that glaze over the top of them.  When your potatoes are done take them out and let them stand for 15 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

If you don’t have a smoker, this recipe still works on the grill with indirect heat.

p.s. be careful when eating these, the bacon makes a nice insulator and will keep the sweet potatoes hotter than you think.

Cattlemens Kansas City Classic Sauce

14 Aug
Homemade mop sauce and spritz.

Homemade mop sauce and spritz.

Allen makes most of his own sauces, but I’ve never been inspired to try.  Maybe I’m just lazy, but I’d rather find a really good bottled sauce and focus my effort on cooking the meat and sides.  As a result. I’m constantly buying and trying new sauces, trying to find the best one.

Cattlmens BBQ Sauce

Cattlemens BBQ Sauce

Recently I heard that Cattlemens is the bbq sauce used by most chain restaurants.  If they aren’t using it straight, they are using it as a base for their own custom recipes.   Heck, if you go to their website, they have a whole section about how to doctor up their sauce, so I’m guessing that its true.

We recently tried Cattlemen’s Kansas City Classic with some grilled chicken breasts.  Its a Kansas City style sauce – thick and sweet and tomato based.  Its not excessively sweet and its spice level is mild.  We immediately recognized it as a sauce we’d tasted before – like what you get with chicken nuggets at fast food restaurants.  Its not bad, but its not remarkable.

We used up the second half of the bottle with a pork loin.  But this time Allen doctored up by thinning it with some vinegar and adding some spice.  This made it tangy and hot and pretty darned good.  I think this would be a good sauce if you used it in a recipe (like my BBQ Potato Salad).  It would also be a great choice for someone that is interested in customizing their bbq sauce, but isn’t brave enough yet to start from scratch – like BBQ training wheels.

One a scale of 1 to 10, I would give this a 5.  Its pretty average, but has potential with some hot sauce added.

Chasing Smoke

12 Aug

I woke up 3 am Sunday morning to the smell of smoke.  After checking to make sure the house wasn’t on fire, I went back to bed.  By daylight, the smell was stronger and a haze of smoke hung in the air.  A check of the internet revealed that a small wildfire had started northeast of Foresthill.

The American Fire.

The American Fire.

I had planned to cook a big Sunday supper, and since it was smokey already, I figured it was a good time to run the smoker. I rubbed a chuck roast with one of Allen’s mixtures and threw it in the smoker for a quick two hours of smoke.  My goal wasn’t to cook it, but rather to give it some flavor before I cubed it and made chili.

Dipping water from Sugar Pine Reservoir.

Dipping water from Sugar Pine Reservoir.

While the chili was simmering, we ran up to the lake to watch the helicopters get water for the fire.  These guys were working hard all day fighting the fire – true heros!  We really appreciate the work they do to protect our homes.

Smoky chili with Texas toast

Smoky chili with Texas toast

After our trip to the lake, we ate chili.  The idea of smoking it was an experiment, and it turned out pretty great.  The meat had the perfect level of smoke and added a richness to the chili. I was worried that I hadn’t made it hot enough, but spice level was just right and didn’t cover the smoke.  There was something missing – Allen thinks more garlic, but I’m not sure.  We have some more work to do one the recipe, but it should be ready to go public soon.

Drum Smoker

11 Aug

All the home improvement projects that the wife has assigned me just isn’t enough.  So I have decided to start a new project of my own.  While looking around trying to gather the various parts I needed to make my drum smoker I stumbled across Big Poppa’s website.  After seeing how nice their stuff looks, and at a reasonable price, I decided not to use a bunch of mismatched hardware like I had originally planned and to use their much prettier stuff instead.  Now I just need to get my hands on a food grade drum.  Luckilly there is a drum supply house just down the road in Roseville if I can’t find one second hand somewhere first.

On second thought, this project looks so easy maybe I’ll have my 13 yo build it to hone his redneck fabrication skills a little.

Bigg Poppa’s Smokers Drum Smoker Kit

Drum Smoker Kit

Drum Smoker

For those who don’t care what it looks like and want to just gather some parts at the local hardware store, this is the other option.  DIY 55 gallon drum smoker

Smiley Guys Smokehouse

11 Aug
Smiley Guys sign

Sign over Smiley Guy’s kitchen

I have a confession: We love Smiley Guys Smokehouse.

Heading into Smiley Guys.

Heading in to Smiley Guys.

We go there every chance we get, which isn’t nearly often enough because it is 40 miles away in Grass Valley California.  We were in Grass Valley last night for the Nevada County Fair (best county fair ever!) and stopped by Smiley Guy’s on the way to grab some dinner.  BBQ is better than fair food any day.

The menu has a good variety of meat choices – including tri-tip and tempeh, which we don’t often see at BBQ joints.  They dry smoke all the meats with a robust pellet mixture.  If you like smoke, you’re gonna get it here.  First you choose your meat,  then your pick how you want it served – sandwich, salad, or  platter.  You can also buy meat by weight.   Oooh, and the sides!!  In my opinion this is what sets them apart from other local joints.  Everything is home made and the portions are large.  Hand-cut fries – yum!  And the home made sweet potato chips are great too.  We haven’t had a side yet here that we haven’t loved.

Honestly – we have really enjoyed everything we have tried here over the years.  It is hard to decide what to order because you have to pick between trying something new and something you already know you love.

HOT!!! wings.

HOT!!! wings.

Last night we started off with some hot wings.  The menu has a few “small plates”, and this was our first time trying any of them.  These may be the best wings I have ever eaten!!! They make their own hot wing sauce and it is HOT!  It includes a variety of peppers, including habaneros, and they have done a great job making it spicy without making it bitter.  And its also not super vinegary like many sauces are.  Its just perfect.  But be warned – its hot.  You’ll want some ranch for dipping and a cold beverage to douse the fire.

Plate o' Pork

Plate o’ Pork

Allen decided to go straight for the meat and pass the sides.  He ordered a half pound of the pulled pork and topped it with their homemade Texas BBQ sauce.  Tender, moist, hand pulled and delicious.  I stole a few bites and dunked it in some of the very tasty Memphis sauce.  This is good stuff.

Pulled pork sandwich and slaw.

Pulled pork sandwich and slaw.

If you can’t tell by know, I live with some pulled pork lovin’ boys.  Jake ordered the pulled pork sandwich with a side of slaw.  Same juicy, smoky pork on a freshly sliced french roll.  He topped it with the Anja sauce, which he describes as a mild sweet bbq sauce.  Like all the other sides, the slaw is made in store.  Its crunchy with a mild sauce and a bit of celery seed.  The slaw may be my least favorite thing on the menu, but its still pretty good (I think Allen’s spicy slaw creations have spoiled me).

Worlds Best Cobb Salad

Worlds Best Cobb Salad

Right now they have a cobb salad on special.  I love cobb salads, so I had to try it.  A fresh mix of spring greens are topped with tons of blue cheese, smoked chicken, bacon, avocado, eggs, tomatoes and onions.  I topped it with their delicious homemade ranch dressing.  The smokey chicken pairs perfectly with the blue cheese.  This was the best cobb salad I’ve ever had!  And the portion was huge – you could easily split it with another person, throw in a small plate appetizer and have a very full meal.  I really hope they make this a permanent menu item.

A few more important things to note.  The service is great.  Even though its a causal dining experience where you order at a counter, the staff stopped by to see if we were happy with our food and answered all my questions about how they run their smoker and make their wing sauce.  The also have a big selection of beers, including lots of northern California microbreweries.  Allen loves that they have North Coast Brewing’s Scrimshaw pilsner on tap.  Its yet another thing that keeps bringing us back.

Who needs fair games?

Who needs fair games?

Besides great food, they also have a fun atmosphere.  With a pool table and darts, its a great place to hang out on a Saturday night.  Heck, I almost didn’t want to leave to go to the fair.

I can’t say enough good things about Smiley Guys.  We have eaten there at least five times now and always walk away full and happy.  Find a reason to drive up to Grass Valley and “get yer belly full”.  You’ll be glad you did.

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