Local Folks Foods

Excellent Kosher Food

August 26, 2012

Smokin' the Bones: Never Let a Good Carcass Go to Waste

So at first glance, you probably see a pile of bones from some poultry. At first glance, you're abosolutly right. Specifically, this is a turkey (center). So I don't leave anyone out in the cold, to the top left is a ham bone and top right are italian sausages. So some of you might have no idea of what this is all about and others know exactly where I'm going with this.

So when I bought this pre-cooked turkey, I knew I wanted to use these bones for a stock. So as I was chopping up this bird, I thought of something better. Not only use them for stock but smoke the bones on the grill. The night prior, I pulled them out of the freezer (since it they had been frozen once I carved the turkey). What you see above is the nearly finished product.

Now below, is also almost finished. I'm not a huge fan of telling everything I did here for a couple reasons. One, this is what I like to eat and your tastes might vary from mine. Also, my goal is to set the table. I want people to see what could be and that you might have more than you realize. This is what remains of a 15 lb turkey. I cut up the carcass. At first, I was only going to smoke the leg bones (which you see in the middle). The reason is that I pulled out the wrong bag (a bag that DIDN'T have the carcass). I knew I separated them so I went to my freezer, pulled out the carcass and defrosted them in the microwave. I made sure I pulled as much of the meat off as I possibly could.

Now the meat of the matter. The spices. This will probably cut down the amount of seasoning I use (depending on what I'm making). What did I use and why? Well, I'll put this as simple as I can:
- Oil. I used Canola Oil since that was what I had, but consider using Olive Oil as well. Use enough to coat the bones to your liking. Again, I won't give exact measurements but make sure enough oil is used to cover the bones.
- Paprika (your choice, I used Spanish because it was what I had. I prefer hot Hungarian)
- Black Pepper (pretty obvious)
- Sage, Rosemany, and Thyme (VERY nice on poultry). Use enough sage to cover the bones. Use the remaining spices mention in this section as you would with meat (be conservative- not to much but not too little either). I also used a few dashes of oregano (enough where you can know you put some one, 2 tbls would be right if you care to measure and make sure you cover all the bones.
- Granulated garlic powder and granulated onion powder. I like the texture of the two. You can use fresh garlic and onions if you want, but since I have all dry ingredients, staying dry might be the route to go.
- KOSHER salt. I've done this with other salts and didn't turn out as well. It also absorbs moisture better than other salts so that may be another reason it works better.

Now, on the left, you see all the bones, wrapped together post seasoning. What I did was not use enough foil to cover the bones properly (in other words, I pulled another small piece of foil to cover the bones. Whatever you do, make sure you use enough foil to cover the bones totally. You don't want any excess oil in the foil either. Make sure you slit holes in the top of the foil pack. I'm doing this on my grill and towards the end of a grilling session. I placed this and the ham bone (the one I touched upon briefly, using the same mixture as the turkey bones) onto the grill. I decided to let the bones smoke. I let the fire and smoke die down in the process. Remember, the bones are already cooked. When I started, the temperature on my grilll was 250 degrees F (about 121 degrees C) but 3 1/2 hours later, my grill temperature was under 90 degrees F (about 32 degrees C). The point is getting the flavor of the smoke into the bones, not so much cooking.  You don't have to play with the fire. You just place the bones on the grill and forget it.

This was only the intro. I wanted to at least share this to get this out of my system. My intention is to show that doing this is not nearly as hard as it might sound. Don't let the fancy names ("smoked" this or "grilled" that) fool you or scare you off. It's possibly that you never thought to try this. I have done this before and how it worked like a charm. These bones will be used in a stock, stew or side dish down the road. Once the bones are cooled down, place them in a freezer bag if you're not using them immediately. If you have butcher's paper or foil, I would consider wrapping the bones in them before putting them in the freezer.. Down the road, the bones I used here will make their way into a future posting. I'm really looking forward to sharing down the road, especially with fall coming so soon. The moral of this post- NEVER let anything go to waste. You might be throwing away something that could really contribute to a great meal.

August 13, 2012

The Grilling Fool: Dad's Birthday Dinner

So, as usual in our family, whoever has a birthday gets to choose what they want for dinner. Years ago, we would go out for dinner. Sometimes, my Mom would want some seafood. Dad might want steak or something of the like. When I was young, my choice was pizza (being in the Chicago area, that shouldn't be a shock). But as the years went by, we decided to do whatever meal ourselves. Think about this. We know EXACTLY where the items are from (since we have to go out and buy them). We make it to our liking (and if it get messed up, that's on us, which has never happened in our case). This past weekend was no exception and Dad got his choice of meal. So now, as we go forward, you can observe the blow by blow of this fantastic dinner we got to enjoy.

This was the meat of the matter is below- one filet mignon, about 8 oz and cooked medium/medium-rare. I did this with the direct grilling method. Times will vary by the temperature of the grill. I had my grill to a 1,1000...2,1000 count (my hand over the grill to measure the coal's heat levels. I went about 8-10 minutes for each side. I turned these only once. My Mom decided to marinate them with a certain marinade (which was good) but I also added a few tricks to it. First, I embraced my inner-Bridget Lancaster while I cooked this. First, I let the meat come to room temperature, which makes for easier cooking for about 30 minutes. After that, I patted the meat dry with a paper towel. And then seasoned them. It's really a matter of choice what you season it with, especially with a cut like this one. So I decide to take some of the meal's flavors and added them to the meat and I did it in this order- black pepper (if it's fine coarse, do it here), then some Spanish paprika, oregano and finally Kosher salt. I used to Kosher salt on the gristle as well so it would char and easily come off. This was one of the 4 steaks we did. The other pieces had a bit more of a crust to it.  

Now if you take nothing from this post, take this and run with it. I can testify how WOWED I was once I got to eat them. I am a bigger fan of white asparagus, since it's not as bitter as its green sibling. Now this was also too easy. I cut off the lower 1-1/2" to 2" of the asparagus since you really can't cook (or for that matter eat) it. How easy was it? You take the oil of your choice (I used canola since that's what we had) + salt + pepper= that's it!!!! Take a veggie grill basket and grill for about 10 minutes. I tried this on a hunch and it turned out MUCH better than I even expected. Below is the success story. I had the perfect texture of crunch and softness. It also had a nice bite from the pepper. Yes, it tasted as good as it looks!! Look below if you have any questions. For the record, I didn't grill the green beans this time around. For those who had kids, you may consider trying this to get them to eat a vegetable. The asparagus I managed to get were shipped in from Peru.

This is the incredible cheese and garlic potatoes, made by my Mom. That's the beauty of potatoes au gratin. It gives you so much leeway on how you want to season them. I wasn't home when she did this but if history repeated itself (which I think it did), take the potatoes au gratin recipe of your choosing and add some garlic. This dish really complimented the entire meal. I think Mom used Velveeta and parm-reggiano cheese (this time around), also mixing the potatoes and cheese with egg. Bottom line- use what cheese you want but I would suggest using a cheese that melts easily. You could also do a contradiction like Swiss or Provolone with cheddar, colby or an old reliable for many, Velveeta. If you really want to step it up, chop some tomato, onion, bell peppers with some duck fat- done!!! Bake time was about 90 minutes. Here's the payoff (and what was left) shown below. I'm glad I paid attention to when she makes this.

So now the dinner is done. I still had a pretty nice fire going (as I was doing bbq-ing a ham as well; that turned out pretty well but there was some fine tuning I want to do before sharing). They had a package of chicken thighs just asking to be grilled. My folks knew I had been on the grill for some time and didn't want to keep me from my evening. My Dad basically said that all I need to do is guide what he needed to do to prep the chicken. I said I didn't mind staying, which is what I did. Now, I made one mistake and it wasn't something I couldn't recover from. I took some coals from my ham fire and used them to cook the chicken (using a kettle grill). Now with poultry, it's a bit different because unlike meat, there's a bit more at stake if chicken isn't cooked to its proper internal temperature (my thermometer suggests 190 degrees Fahrenheit or 87.5 degrees Celsius). Depending on how hot your fire is, that will determine the cook time. This wasn't part of Dad's birthday dinner. This was more ad lb than anything else. As I said before. it would be a shame to let a good fire go to waste.  

As I said, I did make a mistake. I didn't make the fire hot enough when I transferred coals. It's not a deal breaker since my Dad and I caught it in time. So we took some new coals, placed hot coals over them and the day was saved. The onion I also threw on the grill. I left the skin on the onion and placed them on top of the grill (I didn't use a basket for this you can if you wish). The cook time was about 25-30 minutes to grill the entire onion. I'm using the onion for other things (e.g., a topping on a sandwich, mix them with some guacamole I had in the fridge, use in a salad of some sort, etc). This also depends on how hot your fire is. The point is to make sure the onion is somewhat soft to the touch, unless you're going to use them in something like a soup, where you can cook them as you would garlic.

Guilty as charged. I was the Grilling Fool this weekend. It was a ton of fun to do though. Sure it was some work involved but the reward is worth the work. Always remember a couple of things while bbq-ing. First, is patience. Once you get this "P" word I just used, bbq-ing will be MUCH more fun to do. If you're going to cook this way, you will need to block off time to do it right. Just concentrate on what you're cooking. Don't rush it and while I'm at it, DO NOT USE LIGHTER FLUID!!! None!!! You will destroy not only the food you made but that smell stays in the grill. 5 hours of grill time and a bunch of good food as my payoff. Not to mention my Dad was very happy with the meal sealed the deal for me. Another successful grilling venture for me. I always look forward to doing this. Now for those of you who might be generous in nature and want to see my grilling to a new level, below is my dream grill/smoker. Below is "The Marshall" from Good Ones Grill and Smokers. Send one my way if you want to waste $2500. Trust me, it will get PLENTY of use!!! OK. It never hurts to put it out there though I doubt there will be any takers.

Photo taken Internet site.  Good-One Grill is the creator of this grill and photo belongs to them.