Friday, November 27, 2009

Smoked versus Fried Turkey -Thanksgiving 2009

This year I cooked two turkeys for Thanksgiving. They were both about 13 pounds each. I brined both using the brine solution. After the brine, they were both rinsed and patted dry to spend the night uncovered in the refrigerator. This to help achieve a crispier and less rubbery skin during the cooks.

Turkey fried using a Butterball Indoor Turkey Frryer

Turkey smoked in an 18 inch WSM bullet smoker

Thanksgiving morning, I first started the cooking process for the smoked turkey. I removed it from the refrigerator, injected it with a butter seasoning mixture in the breast and thighs. About a cup of injection went in. I then rubbed the outside of the bird with a butter, garlic, parsely gremolata with some added salt and cracked pepper. The bird went on the smoker at 0900. Water pan filled with water and fresh herbs from my garden- rosemary, oregano and thyme. Smoker temp 350 degrees. The temp on the smoker fluctuated from 300 to 350 degrees with lots of manual manipulations by me to maintain this temp. By 12:30 pm, the thigh temp hit 180ish and the breast was at 162. Pulled from smoker and rested til time to carve.

At noon, I turned on the Butterball Indoor Turkey Fryer for the 30 minutes it would take to reach 375 degrees. It was filled with 2 gallons of peanut oil. I previously tested the volume of the fryer using water to assure the oil would not overflow when the turkey was added. I removed the second turkey from the refrigerator and patted the inside to assure it was dry (minimizes splatter when added to fryer). I then made a seasoning mixture of salt, pepper, bay seasoning and garlic powder. This was sprinkled all over the turkey inside and out. I chose to not inject this bird and to not add any honey based or butter rubs to it as a means to not degrade the oil or cause it to burn. I then loaded the bird in the basket. At 13 pounds it did fit. I had my silicone gloves ready and a step stool. The stool so I could have better control when slowly lowering the bird into the hot oil and the gloves to keep hot spattering oil from burning my hands.. At 1:00 pm I started the cook. 52 minutes later the bird was ready. I slowly lifted it from the Indoor Fryer and placed the basket on a pan with a rack. I let it rest about 5 minutes before removing the bird from the basket. Some of the back skin did stick to the basket. That's ok because it could not be seen.

The taste test by my family. They loved them both. Each was moist, tender and perfectly cooked. The flavors were very similar dspite the different seasonings. One advantage went to the fried turkey for the skin texture, the other advantage went to the smoked turkey for the added smoky flavor. Overall they were both great in different ways.

Flickr Photo Set

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chicken Practice with Butterball Indoor Turkey Fryer

My practice run was to fry a whole chicken this past weekend. It actually came out very good, moist meat and crisp skin. All I did was salt and pepper it inside the cavity and the skin. My hubby was very impressed. I won't be able do my turkey til Thanksgiving day. I will be using a turkey I will brine so the moist and tenderness coefficient will be increased. The practice run gave me confidence that this fryer will do the job.

A couple of things I learned is that it will take a good 30 minutes to reach 375 degree temp for the oil. Planning ahead that is no problem. I used 2 gallons of peanut oil. The cost of the oil alone was $23.00 from my local S&F. The oil is re-usable as I did not inject the chicken with anything that would burn during the cook or degrade the oil.

After frying, the basket containing the turkey/chicken was designed to be able to drip over the fryer. I don't recommend that because the bottom of the chicken was still submersed in oil. I recommend the basket be carefully removed from fryer and let the turkey drip over a pan with a rack to allow airflow. Remove the turkey from the basket as soon as possible to assure the skin stays crispy.

Advantage over outdoor turkey fryer is the ability to cook inside. You're still dealing with a lot of hot oil so be very cautious.

I like that the fryer is not extremely huge compared to some other fryers
I have seen in the market. This increases the probability that it will not be stored until the next holiday but instead will be used for frying or steaming other meals.

I'll post more later this week on how my turkey fares.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Multi-Tasking Butterball Indoor Electric Turkey Fryer

I love the fall/winter holiday season. Food is the centerpiece for bringing family and friends together in celebration of the season and major holidays.

I am preparing dinner again this year. I planned my Thanksgiving menu around turkey and who isn't?. The decision then was how to prepare it- roast, fried or smoked. Actually I'm going to do two turkeys- one smoked and one fried. Why not, there are so many good sales on turkeys this week. In addition, I have a new gadget which boosts my confidence that I can safely fry a turkey and indoors.

With only one week before Thanksgiving, I am going to give this gadget a practice run this weekend by frying a whole chicken using the same technique for frying a turkey.

This is my new Masterbuilt Indoor Turkey Fryer. Though promoted as a turkey fryer, it actually is an extra large fryer, steamer, or even a boiler. The first thing I told my hubby is that I can now cook him whole large red snappers- Huachinango! Notice how this unit comfortably sits on my kitchen counter.
The cooking element accomodates oil or water. Turkey cooks for 4 minutes per pound at 375 degrees. Allow 35 minutes for oil to reach 375degrees though it will probably take less time.
The fryer basket is promoted as holding up to a 14 pound turkey or maybe the ingredients for a low country boil to feed maybe eight or just simply a whole fried chicken.
Only requires two gallons of oil to fry a turkey. Minimum of one gallon of oil for smaller cooks.
Convenient spout to drain oil from unit.

Look for my follow up on my chicken practice run.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hot Pot with New Ingredients To Me- "Soul Pho"

They say, "Sylvie, that sistah will cook anything". I present to you- Soul Pho, pronounced "soul fuh" or as I would say it soulful. Maybe a better name would be Pho Soul as in "for the soul" because this hot pot was comfort food full of fresh veggies, homemade broth, good protein and it brought a heartwarming vibe which soothed my inner being.

What made this sooo good was the labor and time intensive process of making the broths. Three sources which included simmering a whole chicken, simmering chicken feet and simmering beef tendons and combining the broths. These broths are combined in a Japanese Danabe Clay Hot Pot.

The recipe was "intuitive" to me. I just combined ingredients and amounts to suit what I had and my taste. Chicken chunks, thinly sliced ribeye, kale, spinach, mushrooms, onion, garlic, fresh sliced ginger, cabbage, parsley, julienned carrots and green onions. The chicken feet were used just because I saw them in the Asian grocery store and the beef tendon used as thats what I find is used in a number of Vietnamese Pho recipes. Soul Fusion combined these ingredients to make this wonderful meal.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ziggy and the Mailman

ad hoc at home - Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs

I purchased the latest cookbook by Thomas Keller (of French Laundry fame), ad hoc at home. I am so excited to cook recipes from this book. The L.A. Times this past week featured an article on this new cookbook highlighting that these recipes are do-able at home and are not complicated master chef level or high dollar gadget needed recipes.

The first recipe I chose to do was Crispy Braised Chicken Thighs. The recipe can be found on page 30 of the cookbook. Due to copyright rules, I hesitate to include it in this post.

Why this recipe? Chicken thighs! Noted for being the more moist and better tasting part of the chicken plus I couldn't handle cooking another chicken thigh on the smoker or grill this week. Yes, thighs the preferred chicken part for BBQ comps. Braised was very appealing.

Fennel bulb sliced in 2 inch by 1/2 inch slices.

Recipe ingredients included, fresh thyme sprigs, garlic finely minced, chicken broeth, dry white wine, green olives, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, lemon zest strips, onions coarsely shopped, fennel bulb slices, flat leaf parsely for garnish.

chicken thighs, prepped with excess fat and skin removed.

thyme sprigs, lemon zest strips, bay leaves, red pepper flakes

onions and fennel strips

Chicken thighs browning. This is done prior to fennel and onion .

Brown chicken breast skin side and then sear meat side. Place on draining rack.

chicken thighs on draining rack.

Onions and fennel. Onions cooked til translucent.

Finished prep with chicken skin blow torched to crispness.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Quick Culinary Trip to the Mediterranean

Naw, we didn't really go anywhere. I just felt like putting together a Mediterranean platter for dinner. Highlighting this meal was a lamb roast subtlely smoked on the grill to medium rare. Paired with my homemade Baba Ghanouj (grilled eggplant, tahini sauce, lemon juice, garlic and salt, Tzatziki Salad (greek yogurt, cucumber,garlic, mint, dill, lemon juice, olive oil and salt), lettuce and tomato salad, and pita bread.

See below Flickr link for additional photos.

Flickr photo set


Tzatziki prep = greek yogurt 1 cup, 2-3 garlic cloves finely minced, 1-2 tbl fresh lemon juice, salt to taste, 1/2 cucmumber thinly sliced seeds removed, 1 tbl olive oil, 1 tbl mint leaves minced, 1 tbl dill or 1 tsp dried. Correct salt and lemon juice to taste.

Baba Ghanouj- two eggplants wrapped in foil and placed directly on hot coals. Rotate over coals every 3-4 minutes til all sides complete. Remove from foil and place over grate to cook another rotation of 3-4minutes per side.

Remove from grill and allow to cool to touch so you can remove the charred skin.

Process eggplant in food processor with 2 tbl tahini sauce, 2-3 minced garlic cloves, 1-2 tbl lemon juice, salt to taste.

Lamb Smoking on Grill. Goal is an internal temp of 120 for medium rare.

Medium Rare Lamb Roast

Lettuce and tomato salad

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Four Q BBQ Team in the Top 10 at Viejas Comp

It was a very exciting weekend as Four Q BBQ Team were back together again for the Fifth Annual Viejas BBQ Competition in Alpine, California.

We took a 6th place in chicken and a 5th place in brisket which landed us overall in 9th place out of 52 top notch teams. The judges were not so kind to us in pork ribs nor pork though in our humble opinion, our turn-ins for these two categories were also excellent.

See below for overall results and photos of our brisket, chicken and rib turn in boxes. I did not get a picture of the pork. Hopefully one of my teammates has one. Click on overall results/ranking photo for enlarged print.

Flickr Photos of Viejas Comp

Monday, October 12, 2009

Viejas BBQ Competition Oct 16-17 Promo

Four Q BBQ Team will be competing this weekend at the Viejas Outlet Center. See the below link for a video describing what to expect at this event. (note: there is a quick advertisement before the BBQ segment plays).

To date there are 50 teams signed up to compete. With so many great cooking teams, placing anywhere in the top ten is an honor. Four Q plans to be at the top.

Smokin In The Park

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Smoked Some Brisket and Pulled Pork Today

My hubby made a special request for me to BBQ some meats for a hungry group of his co-workers. The initial request was for brisket but since I had to load the smoker, I decided to add some pork butt for pulled pork. This would also serve as a practice session in that my competition BBQ team will be competing October 16th and 17th at the Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine, California, Smokin' in the Park.

During competitions, pork butt/pulled pork is my primary meat to prepare while my other teamates (Four Q) prepare the other three meats (chicken, ribs and brisket). Preparing the brisket is a little outside my comfort zone, but I have watched it being prepared often enough by my teammate so I was good to go.

Sliced Brisket (flat and point). Taste was great.

Pork just before it was pulled/shredded

WSM For Smoking. The meats were loaded in the WSM and a temp between 225 and 250 was maintained. A combination of apple and cherry wood was used with charcoal briquettes.

Brisket nearly up to temp.

Brislet (top rack) Pork Butt (bottom rack). After about 11 hours, the meats reached temp and were removed from the smoker , wrapped in foil and allowed to rest for about an hour.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Four Q BBQ At Viejas 2009

BBQ Comp

Four Q BBQ Team will be back together again at this competition in Alpine, California. Our last competition was in April 2009 and I have so missed being back. After being on the judging side, I am so so looking forward to hands on competing.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yeh Man- Back From Jamaica

Sylvie Walking On Water

Vacations are wonderful even when you are retired. Time away from the regular hum drum of the day to day routine are still necesary.

I spent seven nights in Jamaica with our friends, their daughters and my daughter. We had a wonderful time in an 'all inclusive' resort. Arise when you feel like it, spend time by the beach, away from the resort or poolside, very good food and bottomless glasses of whatever you are drinking. Buffet dining experiences or gourmet restaurants to dine in an atmosphere of gracious and customer friendly service. Your glass is never empty unless you let the staff know to only fill upon request.

When you feel guilty about the calories taken in, there is a fully equipped gym with personal training staff to assist you and some classes including spinning when occupancy allows. After burning the calories, you enjoy time in the spa which offers the usual treats plus five jacuzzi adventures with water temps from 104 degress to a cold well of 59 degrees mixed between a wet sauna and dry sauna, Swiss and rustic showers.

24 hour room service- 'all inclusive', theatre shows, disco and internet access if you need to keep in touch with the real world. Tired of being pampered then just retreat to your hotel room. Need more to occupy your busy schedule, contact your butler or your concierge- 'all inclusive'or add some excursions at varying additional rates. Do not fear the hotel shuttle to outside selective dance areas such as Margaritaville or just hang in the hotel bars for a wide assorment of mixed drinks or simply prime liqours and wines or beers. Room service is also available for booze delivery. I noticed a room having a large bottle of Grey Goose delivered or just utilize the mini bar in your room, fully stocked and 'all inclusive'.

More on food. Be it the breakfast, lunch or dinner buffet fully catered with any and all food fares you can imagine be it international or Jamaican, vegan or meat eater, heathy or gluttony. Other choice includes four gourmet restaurants serving, Italian, Surf and Turf, Japanese or simply all things Gourmet.

See my photos on Flickr for documentation of a great time had by all in our party. Links to photo set below.



Adventures outside the hotel-