Garlic knots

A few weeks back my wife went to Meridian to visit family.  While on the visit, she ate at a place called Mimmo’s in Quitman.  According to my wife, it is the absolute best bread she ever tried (all the other food was really good too).

Last night I decided to have a try at making garlic knots.  I have no doubt Mimmo’s has a complicated family recipe handed down for generations.  However, since they haven’t passed this closely guarded secret around, I opted for a modified internet recipe and the handy dandy Oster bread machine.

  • 1.25 cups of warm water
  • 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3.5 cups of flour
  • 2.5 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of dried parsley
  • .5 teaspoon garlic powder
  • .5 teaspoon onion powder
  • .5 teaspoon dried basil flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast

After the bread machine did the work, I pulled the ball of dough out and cut it into 16 pieces.  Then, each piece was rolled out into a fat pencil shape and tied into a knot.  When the 16 knots were on the pizza plate, each was brushed with with garlic butter before going into the preheated 375 oven.  I cooked them until the edges started browning and then pulled them out for another brushing of garlic butter.  They weren’t browning quite as much as I wanted so, I turned on the broiler to finish them up.  When they came out of the oven, I sprinkled them with a mixture of salt, basil and oregano.

The end result:

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Not bad for a first try.  The interior was slightly overcooked.  My wife liked them, but they aren’t Mimmo’s.  Better luck next time.

 

Rib time!

Cooking ribs is a constant work in progress for me.  Add this, remove that, more time / less heat, higher heat / less time, foil time, type of wood for smoke, new rubs, types of sugar, etc.  There are so many variables in cooking ribs that unless you only change one at a time, it is quite hard to exactly replicate the taste and texture once you finally get your ribs to a perfect 10.  What works for me may not always work for you, but here is something to try. A word of caution……I really, really like sweet ribs.  If you don’t like sweet ribs, skip this post and go read about something else.

Ingredients:

Fire up your smoker and get the temperate as close to 245 as you can.  Don’t overshoot the temperature if you are using a kamado style egg cooker or it will take a significant amount of time to drop the temperature back down to a reasonable level.  Use a liquid pan in the smoker.  I have used water and apple juice at different times, but can’t tell the difference between the two in the finished product.

Pull the membrane off the back of the ribs and apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to each side.  Apply the Rebel Butcher rub evenly across both sides of the ribs.  I buy this rub in a large box that is roughly 20 pounds if I remember correctly.  Then break the rub down into small zip lock bags for storage in the freezer until ready for use.

Always use fresh rub.  If the rub has been in your cabinet for over a month, toss it out.  At best, the flavor will be weak.  At worst, the old rub will have absorbed something from your cabinet that makes your prized ribs taste like cinnamon, cilantro or ginger.

Once you have the rub on the ribs, let them sit in a refrigerated environment for an hour or so while your smoker is getting up to temp.  Then place the ribs bone side down and cook with a smoker temperature as close to 245 degrees as you can for 2 hours.  While the ribs are sucking up heat and smoke, spray them with pineapple juice every 30 to 40 minutes.

After your ribs have cooked for 2 hours, you begin the wrap process.  Tear off a large section of heavy duty aluminum foil of sufficient size to completely wrap each slab of ribs.  Do not skimp on the heavy duty foil with some cheap store brand.  With the aluminum foil down, evenly spread a thin layer of turbinado sugar.  Then a stripe of the Tiger Pepper Jelly.  Then a stripe of Parkay squeeze butter. Then a layer of Blackburn syrup.  Then a layer of honey.  Lay a slab of ribs meat side down on the ingredients.  Repeat all of the ingredients to the bone side that is now facing up.  Wrap the foil tightly around the slab of ribs and return to the smoker.  Cook the wrapped slabs for somewhere between 45 minutes to an hour.

There are plenty of people out there advocating what is known as the 3-2-1 method of 3 hours on the grill, followed by 2 hours in foil and then finished with 1 hour back on the grill.  In my experience, a 3-2-1 cook results in ribs that are well overdone.  Ribs should have some slight degree of resistance.  Ribs aren’t pulled pork.  If you disagree and want your ribs to fall completely off the bone, go with the 3-2-1 method or just toss them into a crockpot you rib hating communist.

After the ribs have been in the foil cooking for their 45 minutes to an hour, use gloves to remove them from the cooking area.  They will be incredibly hot……close to napalm.  If, contrary to my advice above, you skimped on the heavy duty foil it will now fail.  The liquid will fall on your feet causing burns and you will probably drop your ribs on the ground.  Good news for the dog, but not so good for you.  Go with the heavy duty foil!

Open the foil and return the ribs to the smoker with the meat side up.  Retain the liquid from the foil and mix it half and half with Sweet Baby Ray’s.  Brush on a layer of your retained liquid/Baby Ray’s to the ribs and then dust them very lightly with turbinado sugar and the Rebel Rub.  Wait 30 minutes and apply another layer of flavor by repeating the process.  Given them another 30 minutes on the smoker and you will have finger licking ribs.

That’s all.  It isn’t hard, but the process is time consuming.  About the only way to ruin ribs with this recipe is to get distracted during the cook and overshoot the times or temp.

Really good Chili

I love cooking big meals.  The bigger the better.  Dinner one night, lunch another day and freeze the rest for when I don’t feel like cooking.  I started this while listening to the Mississippi State disaster baseball game.

Ingredients:

  • Bush’s chili beans  – 2 cans of the 111 oz size
  • Bush’s black beans – 4 cans of the 15 oz size
  • Diced tomatoes – 4 cans of the the 29 oz size
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes – 2 cans of the 15 oz size
  • Tomato sauce – 3 cans of the 29 oz size
  • 1 whole smoked brisket (approximately 9 pounds)
  • 2 pounds of pulled smoked Boston butt
  • 4 large yellow onions
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 anaheim peppers
  • 2 poblono peppers
  • 2 dried ancho peppers
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 heaping Ts of diced garlic
  • 1 Ts of Cavender’s seasoning
  • 2 Ts of Tony Chachere’s
  • 1 Ts of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 Ts of oregano
  • 6 Ts of chili powder
  • 1 Ts of ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 4 cups of black coffee (brewed, not ground coffee!)

First, remove the stems and seeds from all the peppers.  Dice the peppers and onions.  Add the diced peppers and onions to a large black iron skillet along with the garlic.  Cook it down until the onions are clear.

Cube the brisket and remove any fat.  Place the cubes in a 30 quart stockpot (yes, this makes a heck of a lot) with all the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings.  Once the peppers and onions are cooked down, add them to the stockpot.  Bring this to a simmer for at least one hour.  Add the 4 cups of black coffee and all the beans (I know coffee sounds crazy, but just do it) .  Let the stockpot cook on low heat for at least another hour while stirring every 10 to 15 minutes.

When you are ready to serve and if you care for such things, add a dolup of sour cream and sprinkle with fresh green onion.  I didn’t have them handy, I was too hungry to go to the store and it was about 10:00 p.m. by the time it was finished.

Total cook time is roughly 20 hours if you don’t have a brisket and Boston butt already smoked.  If you are like me and happen to cook them on the weekends ahead of time, this chili only takes roughly 3 1/2 hours.  If you really want to go all out, skip the canned beans and tomatoes in favor of soaked beans and fresh tomatoes.  It is marginally better, but 98 out of the 100 people you can serve this to will never know the difference.

You can add or subtract to and from most every ingredient listed and still have decent chili.  The one thing that you cannot do under any circumstance is cook it at too high of a temperature and burn some to the bottom of the boiler.  It will ruin the entire pot.  It is much better to cook at a lower temperature for a longer time than to waste the time and effort this requires.

 

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Brisket done just right

You can cook a brisket in an oven, but why?  A man trying to avoid the use of a grill is suspect in all endeavors.

Besides that, meat on a smoker is hands down better.  Not to mention, it is easy as can be.  Take a couple of briskets and trim the fat down to not more than 1/2 an inch.  Coat them in rub from Rebel Butcher Supply in Pearl, MS.  Add a dash of fresh cracked black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

 

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Let them smoke on a Lang 84.  Regardless of whether you like the low and slow method of 14-16 hours at 225 degrees or prefer something similar to Myron Mixon’s hot and fast, most guests will never know the difference.

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Cook them to 195 to 202 depending on the texture.  It probably wouldn’t win any contest, but then again I don’t have BBQ contest judges eating around my house.  Sort of like my dad’s old saying when we built something…..If anyone shows up with a square or plumb-bob, I am kicking them out.

Nice smoke ring and the taste is just right for us.  For some reason, all the dogs are following me around the house now 🙂


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Who has the best #deersausage ?

The are a bunch of deer meat processors in the State of Mississippi.  Some are commercial beef or pork processing facilities like Wilson’s in Crystal Springs that also happen to process deer.  Others only process deer.  In Central Mississippi, I have tried Lee’s in Byram, Dwight’s in Raymond, Van’s in Pearl, Buck Shop in Pocahontas, Martin’s in Bolton and probably a few more that I cant remember at the moment.

By and large, my favorite is Martin’s in Bolton.  Stacy Martin turns out a fine product and he processes them one deer at a time so you always get your deer back.

Some of the other processors will batch process your deer with deer from other hunters.  When they do, you are rolling the dice on whether or not those other deer have been handled as carefully as you handled yours.  I just don’t like the idea of my deer getting mixed in with someone’s deer that rode around in the back of a truck for a week while the owner showed off the rack.

Despite how much I like Martin’s sausage and boudin, I always process a couple myself when I have a chance.  Rebel Butcher Supply in Flowood has some fantastic seasoning blends.  If you ever decide to process your own deer, drop by and talk with them.  They have a recipe for dang near anything you like regardless of whether that happens to be green onion, jalapeno, cheese, garlic or whatever else added to your sausage.

As for me, just pecan smoke and a little green onion added.

Besh’s Shrimp and Grits

Here is the recipe:

It takes a minute, but it is some kind of fine. My wife said it was the best dish I have made bar none and my 2 year old stopped baby gibberish and said “its delicious.”

Sorry for the crappy pics. I was using my phone’s camera.

You can get John Besh’s book here: http://shop.chefjohnbesh.com/myneworleansthecookbook.aspx  It is well worth the money just to read the history and look at the pictures.  Cooking a few of his recipes is a bonus.

Champcaller’s Tomato Pie

There are internet forums for just about any subject matter you could want to discuss.  I visit a few here and there.  Most of them are related to the outdoors, some are related to law and a few are related to cooking.  The recipes you find on cooking forums are quite elaborate.  You can spend half a day on preparation if you are so inclined.  Recipes you find on hunting forums on the other hand are generally much easier to prepare but still taste great.

This weekend a recipe on ducksouth.com caught my eye.  Champcaller’s Tomato Pie.  Every hunter I know has at least one dish that is slap yo mamma good.  I don’t know how many dishes Champcaller has, but this one is excellent.

I followed his recipe and then added a little cracked black pepper as they came out of the oven.

___________

Ingredients:
Sour Cream Pastry (or you favorite pie crust)
4 tomatoes, peeled and cut into about 1/2 inch this slices
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mayo
3 green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 cup shredded fresh REAL parmesan cheese. (not from the can)

1. Preheat oven to 350. Prepare sour cream pastry.
2. Meanwhile, cut the stem out of the tomatoes and squeeze most of the juice out (if you don’t you will have a very soggy pie). Let em sit on a paper towel a while. Then, stir together next 3 ingredients and 3/4 cup cheese.
3. Roll sour cream pastry (1.5 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup shortening, 1/2 cup sour cream) into a 13 inch circle on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9 inch pie plate.
4. Bake pastry at 350 for 10 or so minutes or until lightly brown. Remove pastry from oven, sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over bottom of crust. Place tomato slices over cheese in crust; spread mayo mixture over tomatoes.
5. Bake pie at 350 for about 35 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Sushi at home

People have various ideas about sushi.  One of my friends refers to it as fish bait.  Other friends really, really enjoy it.  Of course, what people consider sushi varies as well.  Some chow down on california rolls whereas others go for the raw stuff (that’s me).

There is no telling how much sushi I have eaten over the years, but suffice it to say it is a heck of a lot.  A good buddy just came back from what can only be described as the saltwater fishing trip of a lifetime.  Three days in the ocean traveling from South Louisiana to Destin, Florida and catching tuna, amberjack, shark, grouper along with a host of other fish.

As soon as he returned he called and said for me to stop by for some tuna.  He didn’t have to ask twice.  While I love grilled tuna, the best way for me is sushi.  Easy enough, take 1 huge chunk of tuna.

 

Go to Mr. Chen’s  Asian Market for sushi paper ($3), a bamboo sushi mat ($2), jasmine rice ($3) cucumbers ($2) and sesame seeds ($3).

Roll it all together and it is dinner time.  Never been frozen tuna straight from the gulf to my plate. 

Cooking for Kids

Saturday my good friend Bubby and I cooked 140 pounds of pork loin on the Lang84 for the graduating seniors at Terry High School.  The weather hovered around freezing all afternoon and the wind was tough.  Nevertheless, we were able to get it done just in time to serve around 300 friends and parents. 

Generally you only hear the bad stories about kids on the news, but these kids were great and a heck of a lot of fun to be around.  From the football players helping slice the meat to the well dressed group serving the tables, they were all respectful and had smiles that you couldn’t scrub off with sandpaper.

These babies cooked at 300-350 until the digital thermometers said we had reached 140 (about 3 hours).  A little rest time and off they went to meat slicers.

The Super Bowl………..of Salsa

I wish the Saints were playing today, but it just wasn’t in the cards.  In any event, the amount of food consumed will not suffer.  This Super Bowl as with all previous will find friends gathering around finger food.

My contribution is batch of salsa.  Easy enough.

  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomatoes sauce
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper diced
  • 2 jalapenos diced
  • 1 cup of sliced carrots
  • 1 bunch of cilantro chopped
  • 1 ts of black pepper
  • 2 ts of chili powder (not chile powder!)
  • 1 ts of sea salt
  • 1 ts of fresh ground cummin
Toss it all together and let it rest a few hours for the flavors to marry.

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