Monday, April 27, 2009

Pork Substance Alpha

Cream on the inside, Pork on the Outside, Cream on the inside Pork on the Outside, Pork Pork Pork Pork Pork Pork Cream paint job! (yikesitude)

(pic unrelated) (except I took the pic the day i made the food that I'm blogging about) (pic mostly unrelated)

In the history of things that are tasty, nothing is as tasty as what I’m about to show you. Nothing. You’re probably saying to yourself, “Ya right, SmokeHopper, you are a LIAR!” Well I’ll have you know that my feelings are hurt that you would say that. Allright, lets get weird:

I’m talking about “Pork Substance Alpha” hereinafter referred to as PSA, which in all actuality is a Pork Stock/Broth which I originally considered a byproduct of cooking a spiced pork shoulder in a crockpot. Over time however, I realized that the PSA was the true champion of the process and I now really set out to make the PSA and the delicious shredded pork has become the
byproduct. What a world we live in (?).

The process starts with buying a pork shoulder, or "Boston Butt" as they say. Here is the one that I bought at the grocery store.

Next put hefty amounts of Cumin, Coriander, and Black Peppercorns on a sheet of tin foil and put them under the broiler until they just begin to smoke and a fragrance of mystery surrounds you and makes you want to forget that its Tuesday and the meeting set for Thursday hasnt been rescheduled yet becasue the server is down and... well until fragrant. Grind them up after that, and set aside.

Next, I usually dice 6 or 7 cloves of Garlic. My Uncle, who is a handsome and classy man, gave me this nifty garlic dicer. Very clever tool. Almost as clever as my Uncle. Anyway dice up the garlics and set aside.

Next, just get crazy and rub all of the ground spices and garlic deep into the meat. Really man-handle that pork butt. (laughs to self hard, best blog ever) But really, rub it all on there and place in a large crockpot or in a pot in the oven and turn to low. I usually add a 1/2 cup of water just so the bottom doesnt burn. The shoulder itslef will provide enough juice by itself. Here is what it looks like after an hour or so.

Here is what it looks like after 14 hours:

As you can see, there is an incredible amount of fluid in the pot. This is mostly the PSA, but there is also a large amount of pork fat as well. Calm down health nuts, we're going to get rid of it with the refrigerator.

Before fridge:

After fridge:

After the fat is removed:

If you did not gather from the above pictures, the fat solidifies nicely in the refridgerator and you can easily remove it with a spoon. I once asked my mother what the fat was good for, and she told me it was good for the trash. So that where I put it. Now, what to do with the shredded pork? This is what you do with it:

Put it in a pan and add your favorite BBQ sauce, heat it up and shred it.
Now do this:

So pretty much this was my lunch for many many days. You can also make shredded pork tacos, which are always good with a little slice of avacado. I have found succcess in the past using the adobo sauce out of a can of chipotles for flavoring. Its important to remember that although the pork has a pretty good flavor right out of the crock pot, it is merely a base on which to build other more powerful flavors. So BBQ sauce works well, and prettty much any strong flavoring you can think of suits it well. Pow Pow.
(this is a good BBQ Sauce. Really)
Lets get down to business: The PSA. Although it doesnt look like much, this stock/broth is the most delicious substance I know how to make. Its just unbelieveably complex. There is simply no way to describe it. If writing about music is like dancing about sculpture, then writing about food is like...sculpting about dance...its difficult. But seriously, I think I heard Alton Brown call it mouth-feel at one point. Its flavor is heavy, and multilayered, and flush with toasted coriander and cumnin, and its just great.
The depth of the flavor comes from the broken down collagen in the pork bone and the connective tissue which somehow magically becomes gelatin. I'm not exactly sure how all this works. This sounds like a chemical reaction for Kimistry Kitchen to explore. By the way, if you haven't read Kimistry Kitchen yet, you should. Its listed on the left side over there and is a science oriented cooking blog. Its rad. Check it out!
Needless to say, PSA is perfect for reducing sauces, and excellent for flavoring soups. The best soup I have ever made was a posole made with only PSA, chilis, morels, and hominy. Fantastic.
This time around, however, I decided to make a vegetable stew with the PSA and some chicken broth as a base. Here's what I did. First, I chopped up these vegetables:

Red Onion:



Altogether Now: Mirepoix

Put these items in a pan with olive oil salt and pepper, and sweat on low heat until the onion are translucent and the carrots become soft and sweet and delicious. While this is happening, I chopped and added the following:

Shitake Mushrooms:

Yellow Squash:

Once added to the pot, it all looked like this:

(To be honest, a lot of this recipe was a "clean out the fridge of all of the vegetables before they go bad" recipe)

I then added a splash of this:

And a cup or two of this:

And all of this:

Final Product, finished with some fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro:


Top 7 soups/stews of my carrer. Whoever comes up with the best name for my creation in the comments section shall win a prize. The prize is that I will call the soup that name forever. As always, thanks for reading everyone! Turkey Legs will happen soon. I Promise.


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Monday, April 13, 2009

“I'm not sure yet. I'm on standby. Ill let you know. I may need to borrow a shirt if we go out. I got guacamole on this one.” -Smokehopper

Today Smokeheads El Smokeador and Smokehopper unite to
jointly post the greatest and most amateur blogging this blog has ever seen: Ranchbrisketz. Ranchbrisketz should not be taken lightly, you could burn down the whole ranch (not advised). If you treat them right, they will treat you better and provide a bounty that will last at least a week.

Or at least that’s what this German guy told me once. I’m not sure though. It might have been a dream. Maybe THIS is a dream.  In fact this whole deal reminds me of the time that I caught a wizard and a magician making out, right square in the middle of one of my daydreams. It was APPALLING. -Smokehopper

 - El Smokeador

Anyway Smokeheads, we made brisket and two dishes out of that brisket. So Come along a ride on our fantastic voyage. Smoke smoke smokity smoke, Hittin switches on the block in a sixty-five. YEAAAA!

Do not come along on our fantastic voyage.  Coolio turned out to be not so cool didn’t he. 

Back to the meats, started preparing the brisket at 4pm on Friday, rubbing it down with a glorious mix of spices, salt, pepper and brown sugar.  A little horse dander is a nice addition, (gross! – Smokehopper).  We put it in the smoke unwrapped around 5 with the full intention of leaving it overnight.  Twas not to be. 

Unfortunately, the winds of change, and the actual real winds decided to get gale force this evening and presented a pretty serious fire hazard. We had to extinguish the smoke fire, and finish it up in the oven. Ovens may show lack of commitment but burning down ranches shows lack of ranches. We could not ride the wind train into oblivion, despite how sweet that sounds. So we put it in the oven all night and it was delicious. 

The brisket was a soupy mess at 9am when I pulled it out of the oven (F-).  Internal temp was about 190, and it lacked a good bark.  That said it was damn near impossible to slice evenly, as it was falling apart.  I know there is a science behind why the smoker produces better bark than the oven, but I do not plan on using the oven ever again.  So it doesn’t matter.  However, Alton Brown has been contacted and we are eagerly awaiting his response.  We were able to slice up a good portion of the brisket, but used the majority for chopped meals.

El Smokeador is a perfectionist and he hates ovens, but what he forgot to mention is that the brisket was crazy delicious. Also, we saved the soupiness mixture which could only be described as a smokey, beef stock/beef fat mix (pictured below). We put it in the fridge and let it separate.

Anyway, after it was chopped, we wasted no time and set to work on Brisket Breakfast Tacos!

First, Pico de Gallo (which I think means chicken pieces) We finely chopped: Onion, Jalapeno, Tomato, Garlic, Cilantro, added lime juice salt and pepper and let sit in the fridge for a while until we were ready to serve.

Second, Eggs. We finely chopped green onions, oregano and thyme and added them to 8 or 9 eggs. Salt and Pepper and a medium heat scramble. (There are no pictures of us scrambling eggs. This blog is not about scrambling eggs.) (not yet at least).

Third, we took the brisket out of the fridge, added some of the remaining brisket juice, and some BBQ sauce to let the mixture heat and rehydrate in a sauce pan.

Finally, we reheated flour tortillas in the oven, and served with shredded sharp cheddar. Here is the final product.

Goodness gracious they were good. I didn’t really know how well the eggs and the brisket would go together. Honestly the idea of the texture of the combination of those two didn’t sound like it would work….BUT IT DID WORK! (I told you. - ES) Truly, they were excellent. Anyway, I’m proud of what we accomplished that morning. And now Smokeador will tell you what we did that afternoon. (Other than Bible study)

And on the 8th day, the Lord created…..Bris-Ket Na-Chos. Clap clap. clap clap clap.  We decided that a good precursor to burgers would be a nice appetizer of chips with brisket, cheese and jalps covering them (nachos).  Because who doesn’t need three meals consisting of beef in them in one day?  Not us.  Again, Smokehopper used some of the rendered brisket juice with some bbq sauce to rehydrate the brisket and we were off.  

Chips in pan (This blog does tell you how to put chips in pan.  Look at the picture.  Now you know)

Brisket on Chips

Cheese on Brisket

Jalps on Cheese

In the oven and finished product.

Claire’s hand.

We served Guacamole with the Nachos, which pretty much consists of the pico de gallo described above, but roughly chopped along with the addition of avocado and maybe some southwestern chile type spices. I can’t remember. But I normally would do that. You know something is good when you leave it at a party for 7 minutes and it is COMPLETELY gone…including every last spoonful of the Guac. This is good use of Brisket.


Anyway, thanks for reading Smokeheads, we appreciate it. It was a wonderful weekend which was also packed to the gills with “Blogosphere Gold”*.  Also, thanks to my wonderful parents who let us use their amazing ranch.

*The term “Blogosphere Gold” is the sole intellectual property of SmokeHopper, and is protected by international copyright laws.**

** No it isn’t.

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