Sunday, November 29, 2009

Decisions, decisions...

I woke up this morning with a craving for a hot roast beef sandwich. You know the kind: thin sliced medium rare beef, lightly toasted hamburger bun, shredded lettuce, pickles, mayo, and cheese. Good stuff. So I went to the butcher and picked up a nice 8 pound top round roast and all the other fixings I'll need. I also grabbed some onions, because it would be a shame to eat a hot roast beef sandwich without some homemade onion rings on the side. They just go together perfectly. Then, on the way home, it hits me: how should I cook the beef? Low oven? WSM? Rotisserie? Brendan's FEC100? (It's been at my house since after the Harpoon Helps event, I'm thinking of stealing it, so don't remind him I still have it.) I even thought about taking out the sous vide re circulator again. The only thing that I'm sure of is I'll be using a simple rub of veg oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The rest, only time will tell.

I'll try to post an update. I know some of you are still wondering about the leg of lamb I alluded to a few weeks ago. Sorry about that. Sometimes Sundays here get a little crazy. Anyway, stay tuned...

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Why do we cook turkeys whole? Because they look good, right? It's tradition bringing that beautiful bird to the table (I can see that Norman Rockwell painting now.) Our Dads carving up that giant turkey and handing out the pieces. Only one problem: they were usually dry pieces. Until my early twenties I just thought all turkeys were dry, especially the breast. Sure, sometimes I had a reasonably moist piece of white meat, only to find that the thigh and leg were dangerously undercooked. As I got older, and started cooking on my own, I also fell into the trappings of ritual. Turkeys get cooked whole. Period. I remember waiting for that little button to pop up. Wow, that made for a terrible meal. Then I found out how to use a real thermometer. It was better, not great. A few years later I read that cooking the bird breast side down was the way to go. It was not. Low and slow in my smoker made for a dry (but beautiful looking) bird. Icing down the breast, trussing, not trussing, putting slices in the skin near the legs, cooking in an oven bag, stuffing, no stuffing, the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is this. The breast meat is perfect at 155 degrees, and the dark meat much better at 175-180. I know the turkey is safe to eat around 160, but taking the dark meat to 180 is the way to go. It's moist, comes clean off the bone, and no one will be asking 'is this done?' The best way to achieve this is to part the bird. Separate the breast section (hotel style) from the leg quarters before cooking. This way everything gets cooked to the right temp, and you'll also knock a few hours off the cook time. 'What about the stuffing?' True, you can't stuff the turkey if you part it. But I don't believe in stuffing anyway. Cramming a bunch of croutons in the cavity of a bird just dries it out. Sure, it makes great stuffing, but the turkey suffers.

So, how can you have it all? You want that slice of Americana, you want moist white meat, safe to eat dark meat, and great tasting stuffing. How about two smaller turkeys. One you can part and cook the pieces separately. The other bird you can stuff, cook whole, and bring it to the table as the centerpiece. That turkey can be used for the soup on the next day. I don't cook Thanksgiving, but if I did, I think that's the way I would do it. But, for now, I'll be at my folks house enjoying the turkey of my youth. Please pass the gravy.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Royal/Jack Daniel's Dessert Category

Dark Chocolate Brownie with Raspberry Mousse and Fresh Whipped Cream

This is the entry we submitted for both the Jack, and the Royal, in the dessert category. This was all Kris. She conceived it, practiced it, and executed it at both competitions. Although it did not get a call at either event, it got some great scores. It finished 33rd at the Royal with a 173, and finish 14th at the Jack with a 172. (For those of you not familiar with KCBS scoring: a 180 is a perfect score.) At the Royal the top 6 teams got a perfect 180 in the dessert category! At the Jack we missed the top ten, and a call, by .5714 of a point! Anyway, I thought it was great, and our families really enjoyed all the practice runs.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Meat is Spinning

Well, I couldn't wait till tomorrow to try out the rotisserie. When I bought the leg of lamb for Sunday I also picked up a whole chicken. I figured today I would play with fire management and make sure everything worked fine. So far, so good.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Project Time

I know. I already made a rotisserie, right? But it wasn't made from stainless steel. And if you know me, you know I have an obsession for all things stainless. Another reason I wanted to make this is that I love attachments. Anything that is useful and fits on something that I already have, is awesome to me. So, this ring goes on and off my Weber without tools, and can be stored real easy. The maiden voyage will be Sunday. I'm thinking leg of lamb, tzatziki, fresh pita bread, and a little feta. It's amazing what I'll do for a good sandwich...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Recap?

I usually don't write a contest recap. I always think that I'm going to, but it never happens. One contest that I knew I would not be writing a recap for was The Jack. I knew this because we were with Ted, and Ted writes a great recap! You can check it out here.