Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

June 29, 2010

Garlic-Stuffed Pork Shoulder (Modified)

This is a cut of meat that I REALLY enjoy. This is a pork shoulder (about 3 lbs) of tasty eating when properly cooked. There are several ways to cook this meat. There really isn't much to this. People tend to shred pork shoulder (e.g., shredded or pulled pork) but I don't. Don't get me wrong. I like pulled pork but keeping it in roast form is how I prefer cooking and eating it if I had my choice. You'll find good pork shoulder at your local supermarket or butcher. Above you'll see the shoulder and a head of garlic. You can put as much as you want in it (I did the entire head since I was the only one eating it).

Simply put, I slit around the fat or bone and stuffed the cloves inside them. There is enough fat on this cut where I made the slits in the fat (left) or around the bone (right). Both are ready made to do this. When you stuff along the bone, I took a utility knife and created the slit around the bone.

As it relates to seasoning, you can pretty much add what you would like. On this day, I kept things simple. You can do that with this cut of meat- kosher salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, onion powered, oregano (not pictured) and olive oil. I took enough of each spice to cover the entire cut of meat on all side. You noticed that I placed olive oil on the list (on the left).

Then I wrapped the pork shoulder and let it sit in the fridge. I would suggest at least 3-4 hours but overnight or a day would be ideal. I placed enough olive oil to cover the meat but gentle rubbing into the meat. I tried this years back and I liked the flavor. I had first mentioned that I placed the olive oil on before I wrapped it. I was actually distracted (someone sent a reply about this being a no-no). I only placed the spices on first. For whatever reason, I was distracted when I put this together (and finding the right pictures was an adventure in itself. I did roast some garlic the same time I did this. You might notice in the picture above, the olive oil is not in the picutre (it is in the picture the photo before). Sorry for any confusion and thanks to whoever tipped me off because I know better. 

If this picture looks familar, this is the one I used in a different post. I did them the same day. The catch is cooking this slowly. When starting the fire, I like to use auto-light charcoal in a chimney (as you can see above and yes, I'm about to get a new one). The normal charcoals (non-self starter) make the bed (as seen on the bottom left on the picture. The zone to cook on is on the right. I used indirect heat. The trick is getting the temperature in the right zone (somewhere between 225-240 degrees). Once the fire has been built, I added a mix of soaked wood chips and dry wood chips. Some say only used soaked chips and some day use dry only. That's a debate for another day but I know where I stand. The rule I follow is cook the shoulder about 60-70 minutes per pound.

I made on mistake. I started the fire too hot initially (about 300 degrees for about 20 minutes and 275 degrees for about 15 minutes. You may notice at some BBQ places or TV specials, you may notice that the cook has a garden hose and they will spray the fire (BRIEFLY, for about a second). This is one way to control the temperature. I also readjusted the position of the coals (moving more of them towards the end away from the meat). Still, the fire was a bit too hot so I removed some of the coals taking a shovel end (or whatever tool you use to adjust the coals), placed them in a safe spot and let them burn out (I used the kettle grill I wasn't cooking with that day.

I won't waste much time on this part of it because people use many different grills and many (unlike this one) without a themometer. One way I guage the temperature with no themometer is once the coals a prepared, I placed my hand about 6 inches away from the grill and counted 1000-1, 1000-2, and so on until you feel the heat. The faster you feel the heat, the hotter the fire is (yeah, right?). If you do it this way, you should be able to count between 1000-2 and 1000-3. 

Now for the meat of the matter:
a. Keep temperature between 225-240 degrees. This way it will cook slowly.
b. By keeping that temperature, I cook it for 3 1/2-4 hours under normal circumstance (ideally, you want the internal temperature should be between 170-185 degrees). On this night, I cooked on pork shoulder roast and 2 slabs or ribs.
c. Every 30-45 minutes, I would suggest either the mop sauce or your choice or baste with a liquid like stock (I placed my mop sauce in the BBQ ribs post).
d. PLEASE do not add sauce until the last 15 minutes or so. If you do, the sauce will burn and this cut won't taste right. In other words, you might ruin the meat.

Then after all is said and done, the payoff-

I would encourage you to let the meat "rest" (let it sit on a plate or platter before cutting) for 15-30 minutes. My family and friends will verifiy I can BBQ pretty well. That way, all the time you spent creating this masterpiece won't dry out for future meals. Now if you really wanted to shred this, you could. As I said already, I prefer to not do so.

June 2, 2010

Quick Guacamole: Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Frontera's Guacamole Starter

Are you in a mood for guacamole but want something quick? Well I have the product for you. I suggest you try Frontera's Guacamole starter. You may notice the Frontera name and associate it with Chef Rick Bayless, who owns a restaurant by the same name. For those who are not familiar with the name, this is the product line they produce. It can be found at local supermarkets and specialty shops. I first tried this about a 2 years or so ago and really liked it. It's so simple to use, too!!

The first step is to take 3 ripe avacados, remove the core and then scoop out the avacado. What I would suggest is to slice the avacado while it's still in the skin. Take a utility knife and then slice the avacado 3-4 times from side to side, then do the same from top to bottom (as seen below).

I find doing it this way makes it much easier to remove the avacado from the skin itself. After doing this, take a spoon (you can use a fork but I find a spoon easier) and scoop out the avacado into a bowl. Take a potato smasher and crush the avacado to an almost paste like consistency. While I did this, I added a dash of cayenne pepper (partially for color but partially for flavor). Next, add Mexican oregano, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. I prefer the zip of Rotels when using canned tomatoes. Since other family members might eat this, I used mild intead of hot. Once I get the consistency I desire with the avacados, I folded the tomatoes, onions and garlic together(as seen below). Now the directions also suggest adding fresh lime but this time, I decided against it.

The directions are almost fool proof. After that, I placed the mixture in the refridgerator and let it remain for the rest of the say. The directions say 2-4 hours but I decided to let it go the rest of the day.

BBQ Baby Back Ribs: My Way (at least the basics)!!!!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs are a personal favorite of mine. I would do these year-round if time permitted me to do so. Over the years, I have learned so much about BBQ (not just grilling alone). So many different ways to cook them so I decided to post how I like to do them.

First is the plainly obvious- the ribs themselves. Aside from baby back ribs, there are spare ribs and country style ribs as well. There are also beef ribs but my taste lean towards pork. I guess that's more a regional thing as I am from the Midwest and pork ribs seem to be the most popular. I have also enjoyed venison and buffalo ribs but they tend to be more expensive (and more difficult) to buy. Lamb ribs work well too, especially if you like garlic. So below are the ribs- clean & rubbed dry.

Now here's where the fun starts. My desire is not to sound like I'm being negative but I will address two of many no-no's as it relates to BBQ ribs. First, DO NOT BOIL THEM AND PUT THEM ON THE GRILL!! If you want back back rib stock or you're making a German dish (German-style boiled ribs), go ahead and boil to your hearts desire. You lose all the flavor by doing boiling.

The second no-no will be addressed in the two pictures below. Remove the membrane from the ribs. The membrane is the film you see on the back of the ribs. To remove it is not that difficult at all. You take a utility knife and cut between the meat (ribs) and the membrane (as seen on the left below). My suggestion is to start at one end and get the membrane loose enough where it will pull right off. Do this before you do any marinating or seasoning. Removing the membrane will help the meats be flavored (with marinade or seasoning) and will help it cook properly. Unlike the casing with a sausage, it does not provide a compliment the rib's taste or flavor (let alone edibility). On the right (below), you will see one slab with the membrane removed (lower rib in the picture which is more white-colored) and the one without (top of the picture).

At this stage of the game, here's where it can get messy. I did these with a dry rub (without marinade). There's some debate which way is better but I like marinade-style ribs as well. First I used kosher salt on the ribs before adding my rub. The rub's seasoning featured the even amounts of the following spices- cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (I prefer Hungarian hot but use whatever you like). I also added a dash of dried mustard and a couple other seasoning I don't wish to disclose (at least right now). In other words, this rub is favors the Memphis style (no sugar) meets Carolina (where my own touches were partially inspired). Make sure you make enough where the ribs are totally covered on both sides for best flavoring.

The fire is your best friend. If you have a thermometer on your grill, you may be better off as a result (especially when trying to gauge temperature). Now here are some other no-no's that experts seem to understand. The next BBQ no-no- DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID!!!! Unless you like the taste of gas or fuel, avoid using lighter fluid. With the various products in the market today, I'm shocked lighter fluid is even an option (as you will see below). You can get a chimney (at your local hardware or gourmet shop for about the same price), which I used here. You can also buy ready start charcoals, where your need for lighter fluid is gone. There are also lighter sticks (similar to a match) where you place them in the chimney along with the charcoals. Then strike the bottom of the sticks (from the holes under the chimney). It may take 10-20 minutes for the coals to become ready for use.

When making ribs, I prefer using indirect heat (placing the coals away from the meat, letting the heat circulate inside the grill. If you use a kettle style grill or a dual chamber grill like I use here, you know I'll give another no-no. Don't cook the meat over the fire but just away from it. Also, just because you don't see fire, doesn't mean the fire isn't hot. The grill I used had a temperature gauge when I can see what temperature I'm cooking at. If not, look for the coals to be more red/ash like color. I took more non-ready start coals and line the grill's bottom left half (as seen below on the lower left side of the picture). Then I took some presoaked wood chips (use the flavor that you like) and placed them on top of the unlit coals. Once my coals were ready, I poured them over the unlit coals and wood. The goal is to keep the temperature in the indirect zone (right side of the picture below) between 225-240 degrees and cook for 3 1/2 hours. I created a "mopping sauce" of my own- 30% cider vinegar, 20% one part wocheshire sauce, 5% olive oil, 5% tomato paste, 5% water, and the remainder Dijon mustard along with about 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. I will add the mop sauce ever 40-60 minutes. On the side where I cooked the meat, there are no coals and the zones were not divided. While cooking, I used a rack so there is some debate if the ribs should be flipped or not. The last no-no- do not use a fork when you flip the ribs but use tongs. By using a fork, you will pierce holes in the meat and the ribs WILL dry out. I don't add any sauce until the last 20 minutes at the earliest.

I took this video from the "Seriousbbqsdotcom YouTube page. This may help explain (or give a better visual) of the process.

After 3 1/2 hours, the ribs should be done. The meat should just pull away from the bone (not falling off) with some slight resistance (almost like a steak). Then let the meat "rest" (where the meat sits on a pan or plate) for at least 15 minutes. This is how the meat's juices settle inside the ribs and insure they won't dry out.

The result is what you see below.

 Pay dirt!!!!!! I also did a pork shoulder the same day and I will blog about that next.

Memorial Day Tastiness

Here is my Memorial Day dinner this year. I will share in greater detail how I cooked these dishes very soon. Clockwise from the top- BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Baked Beans (from the can- time didn't allow me to make them from scratch), Macaroni Salad (using elbow macaroni), and Garlic Pork Shoulder.

I will feature the items I made in the days ahead. This was fun to make and even better to eat!!! THIS made for a perfect meal to watch the Stanley Cup.