Food, Wine & Just Good Living With SaucyJoe

It started with a love of food, wine & fun and blossomed into a maddening pursuit of the best recipes, techniques, grills, smokers, wines, crafted beers, rubs, marinades and sauces... We do more than play with our meat though -- we review and discuss all things cooking, drinking, reading, laughing and living at SaucyJoe's.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Finish in the Oven!

Last night reminded me once again that the oven can be an integral portion of preparing smoked meat.

The Sullivan family got home after an 8 hour drive back from northern Ohio (Thank goodness the speed limit in Illinois is pretty much regarded as a mild suggestion!), and smoked pork chops sounded awfully good. They were soon in the smoker. However, it was getting late, and the chops weren't done. They had plenty of smoke, but not a lot of heat. This is one of the risks of smoking in winter. So, I preheated the oven to 350 deg F and baked the chops for another half hour.

The result was very nice. The chops were very moist, and they had their full smoked flavor.

While smoking purists may disagree, the strategy of Finishing in the Oven has pretty wide acceptance. After all, the goal is to provide a smoke flavored meal in as little time as possible, right? And while I thoroughly enjoy sitting by the smoker drinking some beer and nurturing a nice cut of meat to full smoky doneness (doneness?), the experience is not as pleasant when the outside temperature is 20 degrees F and the wind is blowing 20 mph out of the north. So, 1-2 hours of smoking, depending on the cut of meat, followed by a 1/2 to 1 hours in the oven at 350 deg F works for me.

This strategy is advocated by the Cooks Illustrated authors of Steaks, Chops, Roasts and Ribs who have smoked pork butt for 3 hours and finished in the oven for 2 hours, effectively cutting the time in half. Their pork butt pulls apart for sandwiches just like one which has been smoked all day.

I have tried this strategy when I want to provide a large cut of smoked meat for a party, and don't have a lot of time just before the party. I smoke the meat on the weekend before the party, not going for being fully smoked, just getting a full smoke flavor. Then I wrap the meat in aluminum foil and put it in the freezer. The day of the party, I thaw the meat in the fridge. I bake the meat while still in the foil for 2 hours at 325 deg F, and it is ready for a hungry crew!

So remember, if you don't have the time required for a full smoking experience, Finish in the Oven!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Christmas in Ohio!

Several of the sullivans immigrated to northern Ohio for the Christmas holidays. As Dr. Dave, his family and Mom Annie are preparing a meal of leftovers from the week's cooking, some reflection is in order.

As we were preparing to head on over to Ohio, we got a call from Mom Annie's back neighbor telling us that Mom was in the hospital with a mild stroke. Grandson Greg was just getting in the car for his trip to 'Grandmom's', so he, wife Angela and son Bryceton shot on up to hold the beachhead until reinforcements arrived. The Iowa Sullivans (Dr. Dave and family) got the family cat, Ozzy, into the vet, and headed east the next day.

By the time we arrived, Mom was home and doing well. Gladly, her stroke was mild, and she had almost all of her faculties. So we began the holiday festivities.

Christmas Eve:

Smoked Pork Tenderloin:

Dr. Dave took time out the weekend before to smoke a 5lb pork tenderloin using the Tennesee Whiskey recipe found on the Saucy Joe's website. When the tenderloin was at the end of it's smoking time, the tenderloin was removed, wrapped in foil and frozen. It didn't thaw too much in the cooler on the 9 1/2 hour journey, and was ready for cooking on Christmas Eve. We placed it, still in foil, into a baking pan, and cooked at 325 deg F for two hours. The meat was tender, and the smoke flavor was very evident. The next day saw pork tenderloin sandwiches being consumed at a high rate. Thank goodness there are a few left for tonight.

Christmas Day:

Mimosas happened. Bryceton opened everyone's presents!

Prime Rib was the fare for Christmas dinner. Mom put it in the oven at 500 deg F for 15 minutes, then turned the heat to 325 deg F for 2 more hours. The prime rib was medium rare, and delicious! Mom tells me that my great grandmother, Mum Moore, would put a prime rib in an oven pre-heated at 500 deg F then turn the oven off and leave the rib to cook for 5 hours as the oven cooled. This sounds like some indirect ccoking we do in the smoker, but the temperature staring out is too high for my stuff. Linda says she's game for trying it.

The kids left the next day to visit Angela's folks in Riverside, Iowa (remember Captain Kirk's home town?).

Boxing Day:

Dinner for the day after Christmas was Dr. Dave's BM Tonic Beef Brisket. This beef was also prepared and smoked earlier, frozen and cooked in the oven for two hours at 325 deg F. The BBQ sauce was Famous Dave's (no relation, I wish!) Texas Pit BBQ Sauce. The meat came out very tender with all of the brisket taste we have come to love!

The next night, we again proved that BEER CAN CHICKEN RULES!

Mom Annie had a beer can chicken rack, which isn't absolutely necessary, but helps out.

We got a 3 LB Will Purdue chicken (good stuff!), A Chopolte Pepper olive oil from International Collection and French Herb Roasting Rub from McCormick. We brined the chicken for an hour in cool water and salt (1 cup per gallon), then brushed the oil on the chicken inside and out. The Feench Herb roasting rub was applied ot the inside and outside of the chicken. Half of the can of beer was 'discarded', and two teaspoons of the rub were poured into the can. Also a teaspoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of Cayanne pepper were added to the can fro a little heat. The peppers don't influence the final meat flavor too much, so don't worry about adding too much to the can.

Since Mom's grill is put away for the winter, we stood the chicken on the can in a baking pan in the oven and baked for 1 1/2 hours at 325 deg F. I will tell you, we almost fainted from the fabulous flavors coming out of that oven! The McCormick rub and the chipolte olive oil fumes filled the house. This recipe actually smelled better than it tasted, and that is saying alot! After baking, the chicken just fell off the bone! It was scavenged pretty well, but there are a few tender morsels left for tonight!

Tomorrow, we head back to the hinterlands of eastern Iowa, carrying many a fond memory of Christmas in Ohio!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dude ... your car smells like French Fries.

Recent media brought to my attention some small, but important efforts to help slow the dumping of used cooking oil into our landfills. The first came from a group of Ohio high school students that were collecting the used cooking oil from the local schools for the purpose of converting it to a fuel that would be used in two school buses. Their efforts could end up saving the school tens of thousands of dollars in fuel for the buses and disposal of waste cooking oil. Lots of people in their school district watching them closely.

Another effort was closer to home. Irving, Texas was advertising on local television stations that they would come and collect the used oil from your Thanksgiving turkey fry if you just give them a call. It caught my attention first because they showed a shower stall and told us not to dump that used oil down the drain. Gads ... who would dare send that stuff down the pipes? Sounds like a disaster just waiting to happen!! The clog from hell! I haven't contacted the City of Irving on their collection efforts, but I have a feeling that they are using the oil in the same way that the high school kids in Ohio are proposing ...doing some experiments in alternative energy supplies for the city vehicles. I'll find out more.

It's great to see more efforts towards new energy sources plus helping our ongoing waste problems. I did find one tidbit interesting in the Ohio high school article. The amount of oil available to them had decreased due to a healthier diet set up in the schools cafeterias. They will have to look to local food establishments to supplement their experiment. Nice to see small moves toward healthier living!!

If you got a load of cooking oil that you need to dispose of, look to your towns website or a local group or individual that is collecting oil for fuel purposes.

Today's turkey ... Tomorrow's fuel.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dad always loved a colorful plate!

We popped open a bottle of Sparkling Wine (Scharffenberger Brut) tonight to celebrate my Dear ol' Dads' birthday. He hasn't been with us for nine plus years now, but there are certain things he did that have shaped my food ideas and presentation.

Mom always told me that Sully loved a colorful plate. I've learned that in his enjoyment of color, he also had a healthy plate in front of 'em! Greens, oranges, reds and yellows were given to him on a regular basis and he ate well.

Things like that stick in your head. I go for flavor with my food, but the colors of the food are always a concern. In appealing to your sense of sight, it is amazing how healthy you can eat!

Eat and live colorfully!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Hooray! Prohibition is Repealed ... 73 years ago.

Even with all of the trivia stuck in my head, I managed to flush the date for the end of prohibition: December 5th, 1933. The end of a 14 year dry spell for the United States. I found a little quote that I think portrays the attitude of Americans towards their new freedom: In Milwaukee, beer sales in one month exceed $30 million.

I think I'll join my fellow Americans in their celebration of the 21st Amendment which repealed Prohibition with a cold beer and a hope that we don't get any more crazy ideas like that again!!

special thanks to Wayne State University for this Prohibition Raid photo