Friday, March 22, 2013

Baaa-rbecue Lamb Repost

I'm reposting this from 2009 because Easter is upon us. Lamb posts for some reason get the most hits here at She-Smoke headquarters. I have no idea why, but I love lamb and think it is the most underrated protein in the pasture. Go forth and baaa-rbecue.

I've been on a lamb kick ever since I was interviewed about lamb for the Tri-City Herald. That's that way it is with me and lamb - I go on a baa baa binge and then stop cold turkey for long periods. So we are in a lamb phase presently. Last night I smoked a small boneless leg of lamb. I picked one with a nice fat cap covering it. Lamb is pretty lean meat, with pockets of fat inside and on top that add moisture and flavor.

Lamb begs to be smoked, in my opinion. I prepared this one simply, as I always do lamb. The meat is so flavorful, I don't like a lot of ingredients to compete with it.

Rub it first with olive oil and kosher salt. Chop 4 cloves of garlic and rub into all the folds of the lamb. Pour a cup or so of red wine over it and let sit while you make your fire. Turn it once in the wine before putting on the grill.

Make a low fire; I like to keep it right at 200 degrees. Place meat indirectly from the fire. Smoke for about 3-4 hours. I used hickory because that's what I had. Fruit woods and grapevines are my preference for lamb. This leg was small, only about 2 pounds, so it took 3 hours. Most take 4.

Baste with wine every 45 minutes to an hour when you add your already-hot coals to the fire.

Let rest at least 10 minutes before slicing. Notice the nice smoke ring on this leg. The meat was perfectly tender.

A final note: Lamb is great for kids. Often beef and pork are too hard for them to eat, but lamb chews easily. My son kids loves lamb.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Karie Engel's Cookbook Library and Guy Fieri

Who loves cookbooks, raise your hand. I do. I'd better. A few years ago someone asked me how many cookbooks I owned. I'd never even thought about it and off the cuff said, "I don't know, twenty?" She coughed and sputtered and I realized that was a really low number, especially from a restaurant owner and cookbook author. I also realized upon inspection of the many places I keep cookbooks (they don't all fit in the kitchen) that I have perhaps twenty cookbooks on sushi. And I've made sushi exactly three times. The barbecue, heritage and comfort food cookbooks have their own 4-shelf bookcase.

As you may know, we recently moved. We'd put half our possessions in storage two years ago, thinking that we'd move much earlier, and are bringing home little loads at a time, most of which are boxes and boxes of books. I've been pouring through the staggering number of cookbooks like they were old yearbooks. But there are always room for more though, right? I've recently discovered an awesome blog with a cookbook library so you can browse before you buy.

Admittedly, I discovered this blog because the blog author just featured She-Smoke early this month (thank you!). But it really is a gem of information. Check out Karie Engel's cookbook library on her blog "Celebrate Home with Karie Engels." There are plenty of other food-related posts, including recipes and local events and even some celebrity chit chat. I love to learn about other cookbooks out there, especially books that are not from famous people, like mine, and are about the content, not the hair.

Speaking of hair, we all know, poor Guy Fieri is getting it on all sides, from a scathing New York Times review of his new restaurant, to someone putting up a menu parody because someone at corporate forgot to purchase the full domain name. Having not dined at his restaurant, I will not jump on that bandwagon, especially since I know people love tearing down restaurants with little to no regard to the people who put their heart and soul into their business.

Incidentally, Guy Fieri, or rather his people, passed our joint over for his show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives years ago. It was cool to be considered, but I think we were bypassed over a technicality. Our smokers take either pellets or a fine wood chip in a long auger smoke box. The pellets are better because the smoke time per smokebox is longer, but they clog up the works faster (read: more major smoker cleanings, and if you've never done this it's like chimney sweeping with pork grease). At the time we used the finer chips, which we call sawdust. It isn't actually sawdust, it's like wood flakes rather than chips, but the person interviewing me thought that was weird and they decided not to feature us. Maybe that wasn't the only reason, but I've kicked myself more than a few times over my interview skills. This happened before I wrote She-Smoke, and have since learned about keeping it simple for media interviews. I'm still a novice, but not quite the cherubic newbie I was back then.

Right. Back to earth from the Guy Fieri tangent. As someone who is enjoying the simple pleasure of unpacking her cookbooks, I encourage you to take a moment to celebrate your home. While you are there, why not browse cookbooks on Karie Engle's blog? Or watch an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. I'm a fan of both.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Eric's Guinness Beef Stew

My husband makes his mouthwatering beef stew just about any time of year, but for St. Patrick’s Day nothing beats his Guinness Beef Stew.  Not one to impart his recipes, for he claims he has none, and that cookbook authors are all a bunch of hooey..even his wife, I dragged this out of him years ago to put in the family cookbook. I guess that means that this is a reprint. I hope you all enjoy and have a Happy St. Patty’s Day!

ERIC'S GUINNESS BEEF STEW:  Serves a whole mess of folks, or a few, for many days.

5 lbs beef - stew meat or other cuts but not ground.
1 cup flour
1 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. thyme
½ cup vegetable oil
3 onions, diced
2 cups Guinness Stout 
1 quart beef stock
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 potatoes
4 carrots
½ bunch celery
Other herbs and spices as desired such as bay leaf, sage, paprika etc.

Recipe Directions:

Cube beef.  Mix flour with salt, pepper and thyme.  Dredge beef in seasoned flour until all the meat is coated.  Heat a heavy-duty stew pot or large pan (medium-high) and add ½ cup oil once pot is heated.  Brown beef and add three diced onions.  Once onions are browned with beef, pour in the two cups of Guinness Stout.  Stir together thoroughly, getting out any flour lumps.

Add one quart of beef stock (either fresh, reconstituted or canned), and add two tablespoons tomato paste.  Bring to a simmer for at least 30 minutes.  In the meantime, dice the potatoes, carrots and celery.  Add them to the stew and simmer for at least one hour or until the potatoes are done and the beef is tender.  Season with herbs and spices as desired before serving.  For a “Scottish” version, add cooked barley before serving.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Easy Pork Tenderloin Skewers

I've been itching for a party. We moved between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and though there is no good time to move, I would gander that as one of the worst times to pack every Leggo, unmatched sock and chipped china plate from Grandma. I mean the holidays, really Julie, and I'm a caterer, which means that amidst my own mandatory celebratory functions, I have to work all of y'alls.

So that was insane but now that we are getting settled in and down to unpacking things like my Italian books from college, I want to have people over to show off the new digs. Friends have come over, but I want a full scale Fete, darnit!

That will mean lots of cooking and cleaning and organizing, so I'll need to pull out some easy recipes to balance out the work load. Here's one I posted on Char-broil last month called Easy Pork Tenderloin Skewers. They really are easy. Click the link to go to the full recipe.