Friday, August 01, 2008

smokeapalooza 2008

Kinda like that, but not. Perhaps the event was more like a smokathon. Anyway, the idea is that some endurance in withstanding smokey air was involved, but instead of fundraising, I blew some cash. Then I stayed home, raided the freezer for more food, cracked open a beer, and went out back and choked on smoldering embers for a long time.

A few weeks ago I fired up the bbq and did up anything I could. I figure if I'm going to commit some kind of carbon footprint no-no, then I should be more efficient and cook a bunch at once. Pork shoulder, beef bottom round, and some salmon fillets made it onto the grill. It was a huge load of food that I finally, just today, polished off the remaining leftovers. (Well, kind of, I put two of the fillets into the freezer.) I guess it's been a long couple of weeks steeped in wood smoked foodie goodness.

The pork shoulder was cooked too hot and didn't develop that fall-apart succulence I was looking for. No prob. Just "cook it again in something else" I always say. A trip to the chest freezer yielded roasted chile verde sauce. So, smoked pork with sautéed onion and mushroom enchiladas, topped with a verde sauce just screamed to be made. Served with desert pebble beans cooked with onion, garlic and a twig of epazote. Fresh white corn from Efren, likely picked that morning, and smeared in more butter than I care to admit, rounded the dish out. It was pure satisfaction and felt like the flavors were old school.

The smoked salmon from the smoke-fest had been nibbled away at for at least a week when I finally decided to make quiche. It was in the true spirit of the dish. I had no main course for dinner that night, but eggs, milk, cheese, big flavorful meat, and a want to practice making whole wheat pastry crusts were present in the house. It resulted in this. The salmon hunks sank a bit, but the crust was my flakiest to date. Overall, I think mom would have been proud, and for the most part, the family ate it. Well, the little one ate the filling and the big one ate the crust. If only I'd known ahead of time and just given them these respective portions.

The beef bottom round stayed almost entirely intact for darn near two weeks before I did something with it. I kept thinking of how cured meats hang around a deli for a few weeks and extended this to mean I had plenty of time to come up with a plan. It suffered the same initial toughness that the pork did and needed some more slow cooking "treatment." I began with sautéing a few poblano peppers, a bell, and the largest jalapeño you ever did see along with a hugenormous yellow onion. I cut the beef into disks of a sort, then hacked these in half and threw them into the pepper and onion combo. In the spirit of using leftovers I poured a home-canned jar of seasoned tomato sauce over the whole mess, and then cooked it for about two hours more on low heat. For the last half hour I uncovered it to thicken it some. Meanwhile a bag of masa from a few months back had been defrosting. I slapped some gobs of it around in my palms and laid this on top of the sauce and meaty goodness. I then put this in the oven for about 40 minutes.

It was like a smoke-bomb tamale pie. The high pepper count and tomato tang gave it one rocking jolt of flavor. The smoke from the meat stood up against it all and announced the dishes origins. I ate it for four days straight, but you know what? Right about now I could go for some more.

Well, this Sunday promises to be another smoke filled day. Once again, I'm preparing food for an upcoming backpacking trip that I volunteered to make some jerkey for. Since my experiment last year worked out so well, I'll be looking to duplicate it to some degree. I've got the peach wood and rump roast lined up, and the rest of the marinade in the works.

Now, if I only had a respirator........


K and S said...

OMG everything in that smoker sounded really delish!

cookiecrumb said...

If you really worry about your carbon footprint, you could build a solar oven out of cardboard and aluminum foil... But alas, no smoke.

Been wondering, how is your DIY wood oven working out?

Rev. Biggles said...

It's my fault, I take full responsibility here. Had I been able to get my grilling class up and going, you would have succeeded 100%. That isn't to say the food was wasted, oh no. But it should have come off the grill with perfection.

I blame myself.


Monkey Wrangler said...

Kat: Thanks! And then I went and made some jerkey this week!

Cookie: Solar oven will be done some day for sure. Maybe I'll have to concoct a way to make my own "liquid smoke" and then add it to the solar cooker.

As for the cob oven: I've only fired it twice, but then I didn't want to do anything else with it until I got it off the ground. Finally a few weeks ago I had a few "volunteers" to help lift the 300 or so pounds up onto a used oak barrel as a stand. Now, I'm trying to decide whether to try insulating it and adding another layer of cob to beef up it's thermal mass or just scrapping it and starting over. We'll see.

Biggles: You let me down man! No really, with the cook it again thing always an option and enchiladas always in demand, I never stress about meat not coming off "perfect." Can I pay for the class with beer?

Kimberly said...

The smoked pork/chile verde enchiladas and pebble beans were wonderful...I was also lucky enough to have a sample of the tamale pie...yummmy...I will have to show you how to make homemade masa...and make me proud son. Hugs, Mom

Rev. Biggles said...

Mmmmm, beer. Speaking of which, I have some clean bottles for you.

xo, Biggles

Monkey Wrangler said...

Ma: Mmmmm....masa! Thanks. I'll give you my trip report on Wednesday.

Biggles: Thanks for keeping them. I'll work on the refill.