Where There’s Smoke… There’s Freebies!

brisket
I love weekends in the warm spring and summer months. It means I have a chance to get my smokers out and smoke anything I can get my hands on. Chicken, salmon, turkey, sausages… They are all delicious. But I have a special place in my heart for smoked brisket. It’s one of the greatest things to eat and it’s really a labour of love. My go to recipe can be found here. The only thing is, smoking a couple of briskets can take anywhere from 8 to 13 hours. Not a small undertaking.

I’d love to tell you that I light up my smoker, settle back into a lawn chair with a bucket of cold beers and spend the day relaxing. But alas, I have a wife, 3 kids, a job, a house, and a dog. All of thes are vying for my attention and sitting in the backyard for an entire day is really not in the cards. For those of you who’ve never had a chance to own a smoker, it’s all about cooking food low and slow. The smoker temperature has to hover around 225 degrees for the duration of the cooking. This is traditionally done by opening and closing air vents. Let more oxygen in to swirl around your glowing coals and the temperature rises; limit the air in the smoker and the temperature drops. It’s not rocket science, but it does require some monitoring and babysitting. Smoking also requires keeping a close eye on the temperature of the meat being cooked. Cook it to too high of a temperature and you risk drying out your prized smoked meat. This can be complicated as different cuts of meat on different levels of the smoker will cook at different rates.

This past weekend was a game changer. I got to take the CyberQ BBQ Guru for a spin with my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker. The BBQ Guru takes all of the guessing game out of smoking, reduces the variables, and makes the whole thing SO much more about enjoying the day and less about babysitting the smoker. Here’s how:

  • Accuracy. The BBQ Guru monitors the temperature of the smoker, AND the temperature of up to 3 foods that are cooking on the smoker. This means that at any given time you can see exactly what the status is of every part of your smoke. No more guessing.
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    Mobility. The CyberQ has a great display unit that sits near the grill – but the game-changer is that it synchs to your mobile device via WiFi. That means anywhere you go in or around your house you can easily check the status of your smoke.
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    Alerts. Food temperatures can be set and alarms will sound when you get to the desired temperature. Smoker minimum and maximum alarms can also be set so that you know as soon as your temperature drops or spikes. Critical in inclement weather.
    The deal breaker. The guts and glory of the BBQ Guru is an external fan that connects to one of the vents of your smoker. If the temperature of the smoker lowers, the fan kicks in, increasing oxygen flow to your coals and bringing the temperature up. If the smoker temperature rises too high the fan cuts out, dropping the temperature of the smoker. The BBQ Guru takes all of the hands-on tinkering out of the equation. All you need to do is kick back, relax and reel in the compliments when it’s all said and done!20160724_124721I’ve been smoking meats for nearly a decade. The CyberQ changed the rules of the game – all for the better! If you’d like a chance to win your own CyberQ send me a message on twitter (@gavmartell) and let me know the favourite thing you make on your smoker. Contest closes August 19th. Retail value ~$329US.

Papas Rellenas

Papas rellenas (on Spanish literally: stuffed potatoes) are a popular type of croquettes found in Peru and other Latin American countries. They are similar to a Jewish knish but vary in that the outer layer is mostly mashed potatoes. Knish generally have a much higher flour content to be more of a dough with either little or no potato. The Papas Rellenas have a crisp outside, followed by a fluffy and light layer of mashed potatoes, hiding a delicious, flavourful centre.

I love making these in bulk and watching everyone I make them for devour them. They also freeze really well if you are so inclined.

Give them a try and serve as an appetizer at your next get together!

papas rellenas homemade

Papas Rellenas

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

12 medium red potatoes, about 3 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup dry white wine
4 tablespoons sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 eggs, beaten
3 cups plain bread crumbs
2 cups vegetable oil

Preparation:

  1. In a large saucepan add potatoes and cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, cooking until potatoes are just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and mash with salt and pepper, to taste. Allow to cool.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, in another large saucepan, heat the olive oil over Medium heat. Add onions and green pepper and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and ground beef and cook until the beef is browned, about 10 minutes. Salt to taste. Break up the beef while it’s cooking so everything is a fine consistency. Drain off any fat.
  3. Add the wine, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and pepper, and cook until the mixture is dry. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.
  4. When potatoes and picadillo are cool, beat the eggs in a small bowl, and put the bread crumbs on a large plate.
  5. Using your hands, form 2 tablespoons of potatoes into a ball and press an opening in the centre. Stuff with meat mixture, then add potato to cover the opening.
  6. Roll to make a neat ball and then dip into the egg mixture. Dredge with bread crumbs to cover thoroughly. Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes.
  7. Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees. Add the balls a few at a time and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Sauce Like a Boss

StubbsFajita

Football playoffs are in full swing. If you are fortunate to still be in a city with home games you definitely need to up your tailgating game to new levels of playoff-worthiness grilled food. If you don’t have a home game to head to, you’ve still got a hungry crowd to feed at home each weekend as the games are high-stakes and mandatory viewing. I’m trying to keep things at my place as simple as possible so that I can enjoy the games and the good food with my friends without spending forever outside by the grill. I’m taking inspiration from a recent trip to grill for the masses in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

You see, in Wisconsin they take they’re tailgating seriously. A couple of years ago on a trip to Milwaukee, I decided to take in a Brewers game. I arrived 30 minutes ahead of the first-pitch and tried pulling into the massive parking lot surrounding the stadium. A uniformed attendant let me know that the lot had been full for three hours. Apparently Wisconsinites like to tailgate for EVERY Brewers home game. That’s 81 games, folks!

A whole lotta grillin’ goin’ on.

All the more so at football games in Green Bay…. People arrive early, and tailgate hard. Maybe it’s because of the extreme weather they get, or maybe because there are so many shift workers in the region who don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn the day after a game… But tailgating is at it’s finest in and around Green Bay’s Lambeau field. The moment you turn off of the highway and onto the famed Oneida street, the party is on.

Amateur grillers set up early and have tents and shelters to help protect against the elements. The grills are large, the meat is plenty, and the fans are loud and proud. To win the day and impress people with food really requires some imagination and creativity. I figured if I could do the prep work the day before then I could minimize the time I’d spend making food on game day and maximize the amount of time I could soak it all in and enjoy the day. There is no better food to share with friends over a football game than fajitas. They are delicious, easy to make, and with a little prep work so simple to grill up on game day. To do all of this without sacrificing on any taste I needed some assistance that came in the way of Stubb’s Anytime Sauces. I’ve been a long time fan of their line of BBQ sauces so was really excited when their marinades and ‘anytime’ sauces hit the shelves. Throwing the chicken breasts into a resealable bag with Texas Sriracha sauce and my beef with the Green Chile sauce was as easy as it gets. And getting all of the flavor into my food ahead of time really made grill-time a breeze once a reached the stadium parking lot. As you can see from the pictures the food was a smashing success and if you want to make a whole lot of friends just break out the Stubb’s BBQ sauce as a condiment to dress your fajitas with!

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Easy Tailgate Grilled Chicken and Beef Fajitas

Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 pounds beef steak
2 ponds boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 oz Stubb’s Green Chile Anytime Sauce
8 oz Stubb’s Texas Sriracha Anytime Sauce
2 tablespoon oil
2 medium bell peppers, cut into thin strips
2 medium onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
16 flour tortillas, (6-inch)
Toppings such as: lettuce, tomato, salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream (pareve works great too!)

Preparation:

  1. Place steak in resealable bag with Stubb’s Green Chile Anytime Sauce. In a separate bag place chicken with Stubb’s Texas Sriracha Anytime Sauce. Seal and refrigerate both bags overnight.
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  2. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion with salt and pepper to taste. Cook and stir 15 minutes. Remove vegetable mixture from skillet. This step also works well the day before. Simply refrigerate and the mixture can be warmed up in a foil pan right on your grill!
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  3. On game day place one side of your grill on low heat and warm up your foil pan of peppers and onions until heated through. Heat the other side of the grill on high.
  4. Remove steak and chicken from bags, wipe off any excess sauce and discard the marinade. Grill over direct high heat until desired doneness. Transfer meat to a cutting board and slice into strips.
  5. Spoon meat and vegetables onto warmed tortillas. Serve with assorted toppings and your favorite Stub’s BBQ sauce…. Make lots of friends!
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