Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Maple Smoked Country Style Ribs

We have a cabin up in Price County that sits in a forest which is about 3/4 made up of Sugar Maples.   Naturally, in the Spring, we make maple syrup.  It's a great activity during a time of year when one really needs to get the hell out of the house and *do something*, even if mostly what's involved is standing around, drinking beer, talking smart and stoking the fire.

What with all that standing around and fire-stoking, it's also a perfect time to fire up the smoker.  Might as well tend two fires as one, eh?   We have one of those Brinkmann smokers with the offset firebox and they work really well, especially with a few modifications (Search YouTube for the mods if you have one).  Any kind of smoker will work.   And, if you time it out right, your maple boil will be done about the same time your meal will...the smoking process takes about 6 hours + a good 1/2 hr to get the fire going.


3-4 lbs Country Style Ribs
1 cup REAL maple syrup
2 T smoked paprika
2 T chili powder
2 T cumin
2 T garlic powder
2 T onion powder
2 T black pepper
2 T salt
Fresh maple sap
Small chunks of maple wood, split into kindling size, about a half of a pail full.

I usually buy a bulk package of Country Style Ribs...they can be bone-in or boneless.  Take them the night before and put them in a very large mixing bowl.  Add to this the maple syrup and all the spices and mix thoroughly with your hands til each piece is well coated with seasoning/syrup.  Refrigerate overnight.

First thing in the morning, about 2 hours before you light the fire, put about 2/3 of the maple kindling into a pail and fill with fresh maple sap. (You can use water...but if you have sap, use it!)  Save 1/3 of the kindling out for dry use (it's easier to regulate your fire temperature with a mix of dry and wet, adjusting as necessary).  

Light your fire with some of the dry wood and added maple twigs, etc. til you get a good hot fire going, then add some of the wet maple and adjust so that the heat in the smoker gets to about 180-220.   Keep the temp at that range throughout the process.

Once you have your smoker up to temp, put all the meat in your smoker.   It helps to also put a pie tin of beer in somewhere below the meat, to keep it moist.  Seal up your smoker and keep the fire going.  Don't peek!

After 3 hours, open the smoker up and flip and re-arrange all of the pieces...ones closer to the fire should be flipped and moved furthest away, etc. to make sure all the pieces get about the same exposure.   Close it back up, keep the fire going within the specified temp range, and take the meat off after 6 hours.    Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce.

I like to serve with cole slaw, beans and french fries, and I also like to make my own barbecue sauce, but I never really make it the same way twice so it would be hard to post a recipe for it.    It usually involves ketchup, beer, maple syrup, finely diced onion, garlic and god knows what else, and then slowly simmering til I like the thickness.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Best Ever Turkey Pot Pie

Kathy and I both love to cook.  It's not often, however, that we're in agreement on what we like.  I tend to like spicier, meatier things, she tends to like things that are pasta and veggie-heavy.  In short, she likes healthier things than I do, as a general rule.

Recently, we were hungry for turkey, so we did the whole 9 yards...turkey in the oven, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc.   There's only two of us in the house, so when I went to look for ways to use up the leftovers, I started researching Turkey Pot Pie recipes.   As is usual for me, I took what I liked from several different recipes and made one of my own.   It turned out so good that my wife and I both turkey pot pie ever!   Hopefully, you'll agree.

2 C frozen peas and carrots
2 C frozen green beans
1 C chopped celery
1/2 C butter
1/2 C chopped onion
1/2 C flour
1 t salt
1 t pepper
1 t celery seed
1 t onion powder
1 t garlic powder
1 1/2 C chicken broth
3/4 C milk
4 C cubed cooked turkey meat - light and dark meat mixed

Preheat oven to 425.  Place the peas and carrots, green beans, and celery into a saucepan; cover with water, bring to a boil, and simmer over medium-low heat until veggies are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the vegetables in a colander, set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, salt, black pepper, celery seed, onion powder, garlic powder; slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk until the mixture comes to a simmer and thickens. Remove from heat; stir the cooked vegetables and turkey meat into the filling until well combined.

Fit a pie crust into the bottom of a deep pie dish. Spoon the filling into the pie crust, then top with another crust. Pinch and roll the top and bottom crusts together at the edge of pie to seal, and cut several small slits into the top of the pie with a sharp knife to release steam.

Bake in the preheated oven until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the crust is browning too quickly, cover the pie with aluminum foil after about 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.