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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

May the Moose be With You

Pork, chicken, beef, whatever. As Jimi Hendrix would say: "Blah blah woof woof."

Shoulders and briskets. Ribs and wings. Let's do something new.

Image via ArcticBBQ.com

Bang. That's a moose roast, Son.

My man Johannes Leppihalme from Finland has the hook-up on the fresh Bullwinkle. It takes a certain touch to cook it with success, but he's been working at it.

I'll let him tell you:

Moose is dark and mild flavored meat. Younger the animal, tenderer it is. It is also low fat so you have to pay attention when cooking it. Moose cuts are very similar to beef. You can get great steaks, boneless rib eye, roasts, sirloin and tenderloin, you name it.

I don’t use much of spices on moose. As the meat is mild, black pepper, salt and sometimes mild chili go well with it. Bay leaf and juniper are also typical seasonings. Some people use garlic and ginger, but I don’t.

Most important on cooking moose is temperature control. You need to keep inner temp between 130°F - 140°F. Otherwise it will get dry.

Steak is always a steak. Good sear first and then cooked to medium rare. However, I prefer roast and it is always cooked low and slow. Another slow food I like is a good stew.

So far I have cooked moose only five times. Once I did nice ragú from minced moose. I cooked it almost 8 hours in a cast iron pot in red wine with root vegetables and tomatoes to get it right. That experience was a success and I served the ragú with pasta and ciabatta.

Four times I have tried to get the roast right. I think once the cut was not very good quality and the end result was chewy. On that dinner I got quite many guests to feed. Unforgettable evening. Still get nightmares.

On other three times I have followed instructions strictly and also the meat has been top quality. One time I smoked moose roast with apple wood. Twice I have just cooked it low and slow, without any smoke. When you do it low and slow (210°F - 220°F), keep it medium rare (130°F) and let it rest well after cooking, you can’t go wrong. Moose is not difficult to BBQ. Beef rules apply.

For cooking I have always used my Weber Smokey Mountain. Even for the ragú. I have perfected temperature control by some 100 times of cooking and I always use remote thermometer for monitoring.

Recently I have learned about pulled moose. That sounds interesting and might be my next experiment.

Image via ArcticBBQ.com
I think that is one of the most beautiful pieces of meat I've ever seen. A nice mahogany bark on the outside. Fresh and red on the inside. Not often do you see a digital picture you can smell.

He said he'll be cooking moose again this weekend and I'll certainly get you an update.

I'm looking forward to a pulled moose experiment. That has "Fusion Taco" written all over it.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Saturday Night Shoulder

How did I get "Stayin' Alive" stuck in my head? I respect the BeeGees, but I'm not truly a fan.



Oh yeah. I pondered a re-write of the song for a spoof of "Saturday Night Fever" as I got a pork butt in the smoker.

My new barbecue revelation? Hunger is the enemy.

I used to think the only good reason to set an alarm and get up early was to put meat in the smoker.

Now I realize not even that is a good reason. I have a new strategy.

Load the Q at night and go to bed.

(If we had lawyers, this is when they'd advise you not to turn your back on a fire and go to sleep. You might wake up in the middle of a ginormous fire. We'll leave that decision to you. A smoker at a steady 225-ish should cause no threat of burning anything other than charcoal. If you want to be cautious, get a Bluetooth thermometer that will send you an alarm message if the temperature gets too high.)

Legal disclaimer done.

Barbecue takes time. Nothing tests your patience like a hungry family asking: "Is it done yet?"

The first time I did a pork shoulder, I brined it for about a day then smoked it for 8 hours before letting it rest for 45 minutes.

It was great. We ate it a number of ways, including tacos and finally soup. Yet I think it could have cooked for a couple more hours.

So this Saturday, I'm putting it in at night.

Once the temp is cruising at 225º, I'm closing the vents down to a minimum and going to sleep.

Ten or twelve hours later, the Easter Bunny is delivering me a perfectly cooked chunk of pork ready to be shredded. From a Big Green Egg, no less. Appropriate, eh?

That's long enough for one post. I'll get you pictures, recipe and more soon.

[Well you can tell by the way I smoke
My butt is nice and it ain't no joke
I'm a barbecue man, no time to waste
So Easter morning, enjoy the taste
Now it's okay, and it's alright
To smoke a shoulder overnight
We can try to understand
The slow and low effect on a man]

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Jen's Roasted Brussels Sprouts



Tell her or don't tell her. Maybe I will. But my mommy was right:

Vegetables are good for you.
Why do people hate vegetables or maybe eat them only because they have to? Because you're cooking them wrong.

People either overcook them until they're colorless and mushy or they murder them with butter and cheese, which pretty much kills the healthy aspects anyway.

No veggie has been boiled until brown and mangled more than the world's cutest cabbage: the Brussels Sprout.




Image via Flickr by Nick Saltmarsh

My friend Jen from CareerCoachJen.com and DiscoverHealthyFood.com has the right idea. Keep it simple and roast them.

(She also had the spelling right and I had to edit myself. It's "Brussels sprout" like the city and not "brussel sprout.")



Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Ingredients:
2 cups Brussels sprouts per person
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, which is about 180 degrees celsius (had to figure out conversion between Fahrenheit and Celsius while cooking in Spain!).

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don’t have, bake directly on the baking sheet.

Cut off ends of washed Brussels sprouts, then cut in half. Place into a large bowl. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil. Add more OO if serving more than 4 people.

Sprouts shouldn’t be super wet, just a little drizzle. Spread sprouts evenly on baking sheet. Sprinkle salt and black pepper over Brussels sprouts.

I use very little salt, or use non-salt instead. (One of my favorites is Costco’s Organic No-salt Seasoning).

Bake for 20 minutes or until edges are brown and some sprout leaves are crispy.

Serve immediately with meal. Great with couscous and green salad, as shown, for full dinner. Extra sprouts make great leftovers, but these taste so good it’s rare to have any left over!


Is it a complicated recipe? No but the good ones rarely are.

Take away a few things:
  • Roasting brings out flavor in everything. When you boil vegetables, flavor and vitamins end up in the water. Roast them and everything stays inside.
  • Simple seasonings let the flavor shine through. Pepper and a little salt may be all you need. I'd add a little spice, but I do that to everything.
  • Mix it up. You can roast squash, carrots, onions, garlic and nearly anything with this. Make sure the other ingredients are cut in the right size so they cook at about the same speed as the sprouts.
Helping people both young and old enjoy healthy vegetables is perhaps the toughest of cooking challenges. Making chocolate delicious is easy.

What's your secret for getting your friends and family to love vitamins and nutrition?