Thursday, August 7, 2008

Diego's Smoked Cabernet Brisket

Last September we enjoyed some brisket in Branson, MO., that just knocked us out! When we got home I tried twice to smoke some brisket on the charcoal grille we had at the time. If you've ever tried to smoke brisket on a charcoal grille you know exactlly what I mean when I say keeping a constant temperature was a challenge. Six hours of reading the thermometer, opening the lid, dumping more charcoal, adding more wood chips for flavoroing, etc., was a bigger six-hour job than what I wanted.

Day 1:

Now I'm feeling ready to try it again, this time on the new Traeger smoker. I found a recipe at the Walla Walla Village Winery site for a wine inspired smoked brisket, so today I bought a slab of brisket and put together the marinade. I had to modify the recipe some, therefore I gave it a new name, "Diego's Smoked Cabernet Brisket." (I'm a bit partial to the name Diego and like to use when I can, mostly "just in fun.")

The marinade contains the following ingredients: merlot-cabernet wine (Columbia Crest, 2005, merlot-cabernet blend); orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, water, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, crushed garlic cloves, and bay leaves. The meat will be marinated for about 16 hours in the 'fridge.

The BBQ sauce for this masterpiece also calls for merlot-cabernet wine, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, minced ginger, dry mustard powder, red chili flakes, Salt, and Pepper.

More posting tomorrow when we go into full production.

Day 2:

Poured the marinade off the meat this morning, cut slits in the fat side and embedded the garlic, salted and peppered both side. The smoker was turned on a few minutes earlier to set the temperature at 200 to 220 degrees and when ready, placed the meat on the grille and started the timer. This cook should last 7 hours being ready at about 5:30-6:00 pm later today.

We called some friends to join us for brisket, corn on the cob, baked beans and some good red wine later today. Let's hope it all works out.

Here's a closer shot of the meat, fresh off the grille. You can clearly see the slits where the meat was cut about 1/2 inch deep and the garlic inserted.

Our friends, despite being fully informed that we needed them as guinea pigs for this meal, showed up right on time and brought a wonderful bottle of cabernet savignon to go with the brisket; and this beautiful bouquet of

The wine was superb, smooth, with low acidity and it didn't have that strong oaky taste that so many cabs I've drank have. Of course, I pay bottom dollar for cab, so that may demystify this wonderful bottle they brought.

The brisket was a hit; even though I forgot to add the slices of provolone to the finished product for our guests. We tried the left overs on the next day with the cheese and agreed it didn't really seem to add much to the overall experience of a pretty damned good brisket.

Definitely a repeat recipe!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Salsa With True Mexican Flavor

Too many times when we purchase salsa in the grocery store, it tastes mostly like we think it should taste rather than what it really should taste like. I figured this out yesterday after doing some grocery shopping at a very large Mexican grocery called Fiesta Foods across the river. Going there brings back memories of Tijuana.

While casually walking the aisles and discovering the similarities and differences with what we find in our local groceries, I noticed a row of small bottles across the top of a produce bin full of tomatilloes; small bottles filled with what appeared to be some kind of rub. On closer inspection I found they were spices specifically developed for tacos, burritos, and other Mexican fare.

The one that caught my eye read, "Salsa Mix:" two tbs of the mix, 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, some fresh cilantro, and a bit of green pepper for color.

I tossed in some minced green onion, and a minced garlic clove, stirred it all together, laid a cilantro sprig across the top, and put in the fridge to cool for a while.

Later we had taco salad for dinner and placed copious amount of the salsa on top. It was delicious. Cilantro really helps make it Mexican, too!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Grillin' Some Rib Eyes

We love rib eye steak. Grilled up just right, it tastes wonderful with some creamed spinach, corn on the cob, maybe some fried okra, a crunchy salad with a tasty vinaigrette, and a bottle of some local red wine. Wow.

Steak doesn't need smoking. It can be grilled in a matter of minutes, so here's what I did to "dress it up" a bit. The rub was Traeger's Salmon Rub. I think this stuff might be good on peanut butter sandwiches. I put copious amounts of the rub on both sides of the meat and put in the fridge for a couple of hours, cleaned the grill, spread a little vegetable oil on the grill, turned it on high and closed the lid.

When the grill was "smokin'," I dropped the steak on and let it sizzle on each side for about 3 1/2 minutes. The steak was almost an inch thick, so this gave us the perfect medium-rare steak we love. Oh yeah, about two minutes into the sizzle, I turned the steak 45 degrees to give it that beautiful cross-hatch.

It was simply, to die for!