Mike’s Chicago Steak Seasoning


Mike's Chicago Steak Seasoning | Culinary Compost Recipes
This is my version of a classic steak rub. Sprinkle generously on both sides of your favorite cut of steak. Let stand at room temperature for 1/2 hour before grilling or pan searing.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 tbs. Kosher salt
1 tbs. + 1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. white cane sugar
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. roasted garlic granules
1.5 tsp. Paulie Spice hickory smoke seasoning and rub
1 tsp. lemon peel
1/8 tsp. citric acid

 

DIRECTIONS:

Measure the whole black peppercorns and place in a heavy mortar or spice mill. Process until they are coarsely ground. I prefer using a mortar as it allows more control.
Measure the other spices. Combine everything in a 1/2 pint canning jar. Cover with a lid and ring. Seal tight and shake well to incorporate.

Store in a cool dry place. Will keep for one year before the flavors start to fade. This seasoning will also work well on pork chops. Use only Kosher salt, or the texture will be wrong.

If you double this recipe, it will make just under 3/4 cup.

Advertisements

Oven-Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Crimini Mushrooms


Roast Chicken with Carrots and Crimini Mushrooms | Culinary Compost Recipes

Tie the drumsticks together with some butcher twine so the chicken retains moisture. You can also fold the wings under the bird so they don’t dry out. Roast breast side up on an elevated wire rack, uncovered.

This is a savory recipe that takes little time to prepare — the result may very well be the most super-juicy and aromatic chicken you’ve ever enjoyed.  My wife is not fond of rosemary, so I had to cut back on the amount of fresh aromatics used to stuff the bird.  Ensure you have an accurate poultry thermometer. I use an instant-read Weber® digital probe. It’s quick and easy.  For consistent results, I always check the internal temp of the breast because it has more mass than the thighs and will take longer to cook.  Allow the bird to rest before serving so it stays juicy.  Enjoy—

 

Ingredients:

1 whole fryer chicken (about 5.5 to 6 pounds)
5 tbs. Trader Joe’s lemon-infused XV olive oil
Mike’s Backwoods Holler spice rub

1/2 lemon, sliced
2 tbs. salted butter
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely-chopped
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 small bunch of fresh poultry spice (includes stems of sage, rosemary, thyme)

3 large carrots, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/2″ planks
6 medium Crimini mushrooms, washed, stemmed and halved
1 cup chicken stock

butcher twine for tying the drumsticks

 

Directions:

About 3.5 hours before serving, rinse the chicken and inner cavity in cold water. Discard the giblets from the cavity. Pat dry and place on a serving plate.
Brush down the entire chicken with 5 tbs. olive oil. Next, generously sprinkle the spice rub over the bird, ensuring all surfaces are evenly covered, including the inner fold of the wings and drumsticks. Leave on counter for one hour so the bird has a chance to warm up.  I don’t need to remind you to religiously clean all prep surfaces with disinfectant to avoid spreading salmonella bacteria. WASH YOUR HANDS with hot soapy water.

Preheat oven to 425° F.  About 2.5 hours before serving, stuff the cavity of the bird with the lemon slices, chopped onion, garlic, butter and poultry spice. The poultry spice is quite aromatic so watch how much you use. Carefully tie the drumsticks together using butcher twine. Place the bird in a medium roaster pan with a wire rack on the bottom. Layer the carrots and mushrooms around the bird and add 1 cup chicken stock to the pan.

Bake uncovered at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat to 375° and bake for an additional 110 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast reads 165° F.

Remove and set aside covered for ten minutes before serving, which will allow the juices to reincorporate.

Serves 4.

 

Notes:
General cooking time for roast chicken is 20 minutes per pound. Shown is a 5.5 pound bird. Therefore, total cook time for a bird of this weight is 110 minutes. You will need to ADD 15 minutes, on average, if the bird is stuffed. The initial increased temp of 425° makes little difference in the end time result.  My calculation was pretty accurate: 125 total minutes / 60 = 2.08 hours + a 10 minute rest before serving. Your results will vary so experiment and have fun.

Adding the carrots and Crimini mushrooms is optional. There are two drawbacks if going this route.
1. The vegetables will be saturated in the chicken fat drippings. To retain the flavor and eliminate the fat, strain the vegetables from the pan and allow to blot dry on a paper towel. Then keep warm in a covered serving dish.
2. The mushrooms will tend to shrink a lot, so either half them or leave them whole.

One disadvantage of tying the legs together is that you can’t do the twist test to check for doneness. Go by the internal temperature of the breast — as a cross-check, pierce the inner thigh with a paring knife. The juices will run clear when the bird is done.

 

Save the leftover chicken for homemade soup. Click here for my recipe.
Save the drippings (skim off the fat) and use for stock or gravy.

Save

Mike’s Backwoods Holler Rub


Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost RecipesThis is an excellent rub for fresh-caught lake fish or beer-can chicken. Use on tilapia, catfish, bass, bluegills, salmon, walleye and Northern pike. When applied to chicken, brush with XV olive oil first, and then let the bird sit overnight in the fridge so the flavors can adhere to the skin. I highly recommend making a double batch — you’ll be using that much anyway so you’ll save time by preparing it up front.

 

Ingredients:

1 tbs. Kosher salt
4 tbs. Hungarian paprika
1 tbs. ground ancho chili
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper (medium-grind)
1 tbs. thyme (crushed in mortar)
1 tbs. dry rosemary (crushed in mortar)
2 tsp. garlic granules
1 tsp. chipotle powder (hot Meco preferred)
1 tsp. ground coriander

 

Directions:

Measure ingredients exactly and funnel into a pint mason jar. Cover and mix well. Will keep up to a year in a cool, dry storage cabinet before the flavors start to fade.

If you double the amount it makes just over 1 cup.

Mike's Backwoods Holler Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Experimenting with the ratio of spices. Needed more punch on the aromatics…

Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket


Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Anything declared “the official BBQ dish of Texas” has to be good. This defines authentic BBQ brisket.  And it should come as no surprise that some good things take time to prepare.  Lots of time.

Lots of time with lots of cold beer.

The key to good brisket is selecting a quality cut of meat, and then smoking it at a constant temperature, slow and low over hardwood chips for many hours.

You’ll note that many people prefer to baste the surface of the beef with a light coat of yellow mustard before adding the rub. This is called “the glue” by BBQ afficionados, and in theory, helps the dry rub ingredients bind to the meat and keep it moist while smoking. In all honesty, I’ve never noticed a difference in taste, texture or juiciness with or without it. You decide.

Selecting a Quality Cut of Meat:
The grade of beef brisket available in most supermarkets or meat shops vary in quality and are:  Select, Choice and Prime. Prime is the best you can get, and you will pay a premium for it, so be prepared to take a hit on your wallet.  If you’re looking at a reasonably-priced cut of Select brisket on sale in your local supermarket, my advice is to not waste your time. You’ll want to go with a cut that’s at least Choice grade.  Remember, Quality in = quality out… you really do get what you pay for.  Spend a bit more money for an unbelievable finished product.  Here are some tips for getting started:

 

INGREDIENT:

1 Choice or Prime-grade cut of beef brisket; flat or point (calculate total pounds needed) with a generous fat cap and good marbling
BBQ brisket rub (Click here for Jim Fanto’s secret rub recipe)
Wood chips for smoking – either Hickory or Oak, with a small amount of Mesquite
Apple juice for the drip pan

You will also need:
Empty beer cooler (the unfortunate assumption is you’ve drank all of the beer while you waited.)
Thick bath towels
Plastic wrap and heavy aluminum foil
Digital timer

 

DIRECTIONS:

The night before you plan to smoke the brisket, lay out the meat on a large cutting board and trim the fat cap down to 1/4″. Note the grain of the meat* – you’ll need to use this for determining how to cut it after it’s done smoking (More on that in a bit.)  Sprinkle generously with dry rub, ensuring all sides are coated. Pat down with your hands and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, calculate the hours needed for the smoke, including time needed for the stall, or plateau and a 45min-1 hour rest before slicing, using 1.5 hours per pound as a minimum for your guide. For example:  Shown below in the photos is a brisket flat that’s just under 3 pounds. Let’s do the math;  3 x 1.5 = 4.5 hours.  Add at least 1 hour for the stall (explainer below), and one hour for the rest before slicing. This particular cut took exactly 6.5 hours, from the time I put it in the preheated smoker, to the time I took it out of the cooler after resting. Now, with that said, you will never know exactly how long the stall is, as this time varies by the weight and structure of the meat — if it has a lot of fat and marbling, it will react differently than a more lean cut of meat. After time, you will know roughly what to expect when planning for the stall.

The Stall, or Plateau, Defined:
There is nothing more frustrating thinking you’re going to be serving your BBQ masterpiece at 6pm, only to find out it stalled for over two hours at a fixed temperature, throwing off your plans until well after 8pm. At roughly 160-degrees F., meat will hover at a constant temperature before rising again to the proper temperature needed to remove and then let rest. This is called “the stall” and it’s a phenomenon caused by the evaporation of moisture from the meat in the smoker box, effectively cooling the meat for a time, until the temperature-to-water ratio in the box corrects itself. At this point, the temperature will increase again, with the final hour or two increasing more rapidly due to the rendering process of the fat.

Remember, the brisket will be done when it’s done, and it may not be a time that you can control. You’ll need to plan ahead for this in your calculation, giving you enough time for the smoke and rest.

Next Steps:
An hour before you are ready to smoke, preheat your smoker to 225-degrees F. Ensure the ash is cleaned from the wood tray and that the wood tray is properly seated around the heating element.  Add about two cups of apple juice to the drip pan and close the smoker door. At this time, remove the brisket from the fridge. Remove the plastic wrap and allow to warm up on your counter.

Oil a grill grate with peanut oil on both sides. Place the brisket on the grate and carefully place in the smoker. Insert the digital probe into the thickest part of the meat. Close and lock the door, ensuring it’s tight. That door needs to stay closed and be treated like a Prohibition-era bank vault for the entire smoke!  No peeking!  Add one cup of wood chips to the chip loader and then start a digital timer.

After 45 minutes, reload the wood chips. Add wood again after another 45 minutes. You will not need to load more wood after 135 total minutes as the meat will not absorb more smoke. In case you’re wondering, the magic meat temperature for this cutoff is about 140-degrees F.

Your target temp for removing the meat from the smoker is 195-197-degrees F.  As discussed above, at about 160 the meat will hit the stall and hover there for at least 45 minutes to several hours. At about 170-degrees it will start climbing. Check the internal meat probe temperature often after this point as it will continue to rise more quickly.

Remove the brisket from the smoker when it hits your target internal temperature of 195-197. Working quickly, remove the probe and wrap tightly in heavy aluminum foil.
Place the meat in the bottom of an empty beer cooler. Layer towels over the top of the meat (this acts as an insulator) and seal covered for 45-minutes to 1 hour.

Remove and slice carefully, perpendicular to the grain* in 3/8″ planks. Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce on the side, potatoes, beans, roast corn, or just about any other Southern dish you can think of. Brisket plays nice with everything. Enjoy!!

Jim Fanto's Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

Smoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost RecipesSmoked BBQ Beef Brisket | Culinary Compost Recipes

Jim Fanto’s Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub


Jim Fanto's Secret BBQ Beef Brisket Rub | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a recipe from Jim Fanto, by way of Masterbuilt’s Facebook Group (My Masterbuilt Electric Smoker.) Jim hails from Texas and is a retired Army Airborne Ranger. He was nice enough to share his secret BBQ brisket rub recipe with group members.  If you have a Masterbuilt smoker, join the group, try his recipe and give him a big shout-out.  And while you’re at it, join me in thanking America’s Armed Services Veterans for their bravery and dedication.

Click here for my BBQ Beef Brisket recipe.

 

Ingredients:

4 tbs. Kosher salt
4 tbs. coarse-ground black pepper
1 tbs. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder*
1 tsp. onion powder*
1/2 tsp. ground cayenne powder*

 

Directions:

Measure ingredients and add to an 8-oz. shaker jar. Mix well. Sprinkle liberally on all sides of the brisket. Pat down, wrap tightly in plastic and allow the brisket to set up overnight in your fridge before smoking.

The rub will keep for at least a year in a cool, dry storage cabinet.  *Adjust the garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne to your taste.

Makes about 5/8 cup.

Jeff Phillips’ Smoked Meatloaf


Jeff Phillips' Smoked Meatloaf

The meatloaf was smoked on a silicone smoker mat purchased from QVC. It has really come in handy for a variety of recipes including fish and pork chops.

This is a recipe from smoked foodie author Jeff Phillips. Jeff really knows his way around BBQ – I followed the recipe exactly and it was an instant success.
I’ve included links for his book, as well as his rub and sauce recipes.

Ingredients:
1 lb ground chuck (80/20)
1 lb ground breakfast sausage, hot or regular
1/2 cup bell pepper (yellow, green, red mixed), diced
1/2 cup yellow onion, diced (1 small onion)
1/2 cup celery, diced
2 TBS olive oil
2 slices of loaf bread or a hamburger bun top and bottom
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
Jeff’s barbecue sauce recipe (purchase recipes here)
Jeff’s original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)

 

Preparation:
Step 1: Soak Bread

Take two slices of loaf bread or the top and bottom half of a bun and tear it into small pieces.
With the bread in a small bowl, pour ½ cup of buttermilk over the bread. The bread will soak up the buttermilk and this will be part of what makes the meatloaf so moist.
Once the milk is soaked in, crack a couple of large eggs onto the bread mixture. Stir gently to combine.
Set aside

Step 2: Saute Vegetables

Dice bell peppers, onion and celery so that you end up with about ½ cup of each.
If you have extra, place them in a zip top bag and place them in the freezer for later.
Put 2 TBS of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot enough, pour in the onions, peppers and celery and stir to mix with the oil.
Let them cook for about 10 minutes or until the vegetables start to get slightly soft.
Once the veggies are finished cooking, remove them from the pan and into a plate or bowl to cool.
Add ½ cup of Jeff’s barbecue sauce and 3 TBS of Jeff’s rub to the sautéed vegetables. Stir to combine.

Step 3: Mix the Meatloaf

Place the 1 pound of ground chuck and 1 pound of ground sausage into a large mixing bowl.
Add the bread, buttermilk and egg mixture to the top of the meat.
Add the vegetable, sauce and rub mixture to the top of the meat as well.
Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the top of the mixture and gently combine the ingredients together.
Do not overmix. Do just enough to combine and stop. Overworking the meatloaf mixture will make it tough.

Step 4: Form Into a Loaf

Pour or scoop the mixture onto a cookie sheet, food grade butcher paper, etc. and form into a loaf with your hands.
You can also place the mixture into a loaf pan to form it and then dump it out onto the pan, rack or tray that you will use to cook it.
You will notice that this mixture may be a little wetter than what you are used to using but that’s ok. It will form and hold together just fine.
I recommend about 2 inches thick in the shape of a rectangle but you can get creative with this if you like.
If using a Bradley rack, I recommend placing a piece of wax paper under the meat so it will be easier to remove once done.

Step 5: Smoke the Meatloaf

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225-240°F using indirect heat with hickory smoke or whatever smoking wood you have available.
If your smoker has a water pan, I recommend that you use it.
Once your smoker is maintaining the proper temperature, the cooking can commence.
Place the meatloaf in the smoker.
Let the loaf cook for 3-4 hours or until it reaches about 155°F.

Step 6: Top with Sauce

At about 155°F, brush the top and sides of the meatloaf with plenty of Jeff’s barbecue sauce. Give it about 25-30 minutes to caramelize then remove from the smoker.
Finish temperature for meatloaf is actually 160°F but knowing that it will continue to cook and rise in temperature even after being removed from the smoker, it is ok to remove it a few degrees early.

Step 7: Rest and Serve

Once the meat is brought into the house, tent some foil over the top and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving. This resting period gives the juices in the meat time to redistribute throughout the meat.

 

Helpful Tips:
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 3-4 hours
Smoker temperature: 240°F
Meat Finish temperature: 160°F
Recommended wood: Hickory or Apple

Grilled Beer Can Chicken


Grilled Beer Can Chicken

Note the disposable pie pan that acts as a heat shield to prevent flare-ups. Coals are moved to either side for indirect grilling. Cover the chicken with the vents fully open and grill for about 1 hour until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165 degrees F.

The art of grilling a whole chicken with a can of beer stuck up its butt originated in southeast Texas. It is pure genius, because the added moisture from the beer ensures the juiciest chicken you will ever have.

I spent a fair amount of time reviewing recipes, before I came up with this variation using many of the key spices based on my signature pulled pork rub. I use a 22″ Weber® kettle grill. If going this route, ensure that the bird you choose is small enough to fit under the domed lid, when closed. And don’t make your fire too hot. Slow and low is the way to go.

I can definitively say there isn’t a better bird. The skin will crisp to perfection due to the alcohol in the beer, and the infused flavor is simply amazing.

Rub Ingredients:

2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tbs. onion powder
2 tbs. smoked Spanish paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. thyme, ground in a mortar
1 tbs. ancho chili powder
2 tbs. packed brown sugar

For the Chicken:

1 whole fryer chicken with giblets removed
1 12-oz. can of beer
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, mashed
2 tbs canola oil
1/2 small potato or onion
Mesquite wood chips (about two handfuls) soaked in water for at least three hours
Disposable aluminum pie pan
Steel “beer can chicken” support trivet (available at many specialty cooking stores)
1/4 cup water

Directions:

Prepare the dry rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl and set aside. You’ll use most of it for this recipe.

Thoroughly rinse the chicken in cold water, including the chest cavity. Pat dry and let stand to warm up in a baking dish so that it is not ice cold before you throw it on the grill. Rub 2 tbs. canola oil over the skin of the bird, ensuring it is completely coated. Next, apply the rub to the skin and chest cavity.

Prepare your grill with enough charcoal for a medium-hot fire. When ready to grill, divide and move the white-hot coals to either side of the coal grate, leaving the center clear for indirect heat.
Pop the can of beer and pour off or drink half (I wholeheartedly recommend drinking it.)  Add 1 clove crushed garlic and the juice of 1/2 lemon to the can.

Place the pie pan on the center of the grilling grate. Quickly place the can of beer in the support trivet and slide the bird’s cavity over the can ensuring it is seated evenly on the trivet. Place the bird and trivet on the pie pan in the center of the grilling grate. Place 1/2 onion or small potato in the neck opening to seal it off. Next add 1/4 cup water to the pie pan (this will help prevent flare-ups) and cover with the kettle cover (leave it vented half way.)  And here’s the challenge – if your bird is small enough, it will allow the cover to seat properly with just enough clearance for grilling. If not – well you’ve got a big ol’ mess because it’s either going to tip over, or you’ll have to proceed to Plan B and use your oven.

Grill covered for about 1 hour, adding mesquite chips to the coals after 1/2 hour, until the skin is crispy golden-brown and the internal temperature of the breast measures 165° F.
Carefully remove the bird with a long grilling fork (spear it under the breast bone) and transfer to a covered roaster pan. Let stand for ten minutes before serving.

Notes:
Recipe cooking time shown is for a 22″ Weber® kettle grill. Your cooking time will vary. Experimentation is mandatory – on some grills the time will be closer to 1.5 hours at 375° F.

Ensure you wash your hands and disinfect your counter top after handling poultry.  Enjoy!