Category: Recipes

Mango Habanero Salsa

Whenever I want a salsa with some more fire to it, I look to habaneros. They are super hot, but I find it doesn’t linger and really gives a great flavor to a salsa. They are now one of my favorite peppers.

So, my go to used to be this salsa chiltomate from the BBQ Bible. Basically it was roasted tomatoes and peppers and then blend them down. Then I found this recipe from Chili Pepper Madness and I found it had even more flavor…the difference being that it is basically cooking down the tomatoes, peppers, onions, and garlic, really melding the flavors.

The only difference when I make it is I like to add a little mango to the recipe right at the end which cools it off a little bit and freshens it up I think even more…enough that you can even eat it as is just with chips and not completely scorch your mouth.

Anyway, the ingredients are here:

  • Tomatoes
  • Habanero peppers
  • Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Lime Juice
  • Orange juice
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Black Pepper
  • Mango

For the how to, follow the Chili Pepper Madness recipe and then right at the end add in some mango (don’t cook it down) and give it all few pulses on the blender…not too much, so you leave some decent chunks of mango in it. Or change it up…peaches or maybe even pineapple might work.

Spork (Bend, OR) Carnitas Sando Re-Creation

We had a great vacation this past Summer to Oregon & Washington and in the process stopped at the most fantastic restaurant in Bend, OR called Spork. It was so good, we went there twice! My favorite thing on the menu was a carnitas sandwich (the “Carnitas Sando”) that I promised myself I would do my best to re-create when I got home.  I made some changes to the original mostly because the ingredients were not easy to come by (see how many stores in your area sell Yucca chips). Anyway, it only took me 2 months to do it (Ha!), but here it is in all it’s glory with my little slice of variation on it:

Ingredients:

Directions:

I put the bread in the oven, pulled it out when mostly done, got the egg frying in a skillet, and got another hot skillet going at the same time w/ a little olive oil in it. I then started assembling all of the rest of the ingredients above onto the sandwich bread put the whole thing onto the hot skillet and put another pot on top of the sandwich to get a good brown on the bottom of the bread…I flipped it after maybe 30 seconds and browned the other side. I took the whole thing off, opened it up, dropped my fried egg into it, gave it a good smash to get the beautiful yolk flowing all through it and then went to town!

One of the best sandwiches I’ve had in my entire life…you really should try the real deal at Spork…thanks for the inspiration!

 

Smoked Pulled Pork

This is a love story…a labor of love story. One of my favorite things to indulge in is any variety of slow cooked pork, whether it be a pulled pork, carnitas, chile verde, etc. The pork itself is super moist and flavorful, but it also marrys so well with everything…cabbage or coleslaw, pickled onion or jalapeno, salsas, bbq sauce, etc, etc, and can be eaten alone, in a salad, on a sandwich, whatever. So, whenever I can tackle a nice pork butt or shoulder, I love to jump right in, but I really love to do it on the smoker as it imparts some great smoky flavor and gives me a really nice bark on the exterior.

The challenge here however is TIME…this is not a fast process, you need up to 14 hours to make this work, hence the labor of love. If that ain’t you, there are many other ways of tackling it…crock pot, pressure cooker, etc. and they are equally moist and tender, but you will be missing the smoky, barky element as well as the piece I rather enjoy which is the old school feeling of it…I use a tiny 14″ Weber Smokey Mountain smoker and love the element of striking a balance between coals, hickory, water, etc all to make it work…labor of love it is! Amazingly, you can fit 2 giant butts on this thing (almost 20lbs) and because of it’s small size, it really surrounds everything in smoke…not a lot of room for anything else.

Anyhow, here are 3 recipes I have used and love them all, although I am now bought in to the injection method ahead of time and really love the peach variation below from Big Bob Gibson:

Ingredients:

First and foremost, 1 6-to-8lb bone in pork butt

Dry rub:

  • 1 tbspn dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbspn sugar
  • 1 tbspn paprika
  • 2 1/4 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn garlic salt
  • 1 tspn black pepper
  • 3/4 tspn chili powder
  • 1/4 tspn celery salt
  • 1/4 tspn ground cumin
  • 1/4 tspn cayenne pepper

Injection

  • 3/4 cup peach juice (This calls for draining a can of peach juice, but I found nothing but peaches in syrup, etc, so I used a bottle of peach nectar I found and it was devine!)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbspn salt
  • 1 tbspn worcestershire sauce

First and foremost, I trimmed the pork butt of most of the fat on the top…many argue it you are removing the best part that will drip down through the pork butt as it cooks, but I still leave a thin layer and the pork butt itself has enough fat that it will be just fine. The main reason I do this is because the best part of this method is the bark on the outside and if the bark is just covering a giant layer of fat, it is going to get thrown away anyway.

Next, combine all the injection ingredients and mix until the sugar dissolves. Then, using a meat syringe, inject ingredients into the butt at 1 inch intervals from the top. After that, rub your butt down (Yeah, I said it!), wrap it in plastic wrap and let it sit overnight.

Now, wake up at the crack of dawn and get to smokin’…do as your smoker requires…you really want to try and stay in the 250F range and want to try and get it to 190F internal temp before you take it off. Sometimes getting to 190F can be a challenge (this is called “the stall” in BBQ circles)…a shortcut I’ve implored when I just had to have it done in time for an event, etc. is to take it off and wrap it up in tin foil…this hold the heat and will help you get up to your temp (again, some may scoff, but if you are in a jam, gotta do what you gotta do).

Now, remove your butt (Ha!) and let it rest up to an hour. Put on some well insulated gloves, grab a firm hold of the bone and give it a slight tug and it should just slide right out…you slayed it! Then, get to pullin’, add sauce, make into sandwiches, whatever.

Sassy Spicy Pickled Red Onion

Let’s start by saying that I’ve never pickled anything in my life, while at the same time I love me some pickled onions, jalapenos, sweet peppers, cucumbers, etc. One thing that I love and haven’t ever found on the shelf is pickled red onions, so I thought I’d give a go at making them myself. I’ve been looking for a good recipe and have tried a bunch of different ones that have been mediocre and some that have really stunk up the house (boiled vinegar and onions wreaks!). This recipe however changed all that. Ingredients are here:

• Red onion
• 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar
• 1/2 Cup of water
• 1 Tbspn of sugar
• 2 tsps of salt
• 1 tspn of whole peppercorns
• 1-2 pinches of red pepper flakes
• 1 bay leaf

For the how to, check this out on Imperfectly Happy… pickled red onions with a little spicy sass to them…nice one Tiffany!

These go amazing on everything…tacos, burgers, eggs, etc. etc. I find myself just eating them all by themselves…damn good! Enjoy!

Bacon Lardon Land and Water Campout Re-creation (or MuccaBelly Cornbread Sliders)

There is a really fabulous dish done up at Land & Water Co. in Carlsbad. It’s spectacular and if you get a chance to try it, do so! Here it is:

Anyway, I wanted to try and re-create it as best I could but also be able to do it at scale for campouts with a large group. I had the cornbread down and had done pork belly on the smoker, but never really figured out how to do it well on the stove top or oven. Then, I found this recipe on Pinch & Swirl which is both easy and great although it does take a lot of time just in waiting. I changed it up slightly on the rub, but stuck to the technique.

Also, had to figure out how to get all this done out in the sticks with maybe a gas grill, a flat top, and a fire pit. Biggest challenge was getting the cornbread cooked through without scorching the bottom.

So, here goes my recreation for 100 hungry dads in the boonies:

Ingredients:

  • 1lb pork belly, cut into a strip about 2 in. wide max
  • Rub:
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Brown sugar
    • Cayenne pepper
  • Jalapeno
  • Orange Marmalade (I think apricot or peach preserves work nice too!)
  • Crab Salad
  • Ingredients for my Slap Yo Mama Cornbread

Directions:

I did the pork belly in the oven ahead of time as with this recipe it was even better after doing so and letting it sit a couple of days…perfect for cooking up and packing down in a cooler. Rub down your pork belly w/ rub and put it in the frig overnight if possible. I roasted it in a cast iron pan at 450F for 30 min and then cut it back to 275 for 1hr, removed it, let it cool, and then wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it back in the frig overnight as the directions in Pinch and Swirl directed and packed it down in the cooler.

When ready to get to it, I fired up the gas grill we had to 400F (or thereabouts…think we need a new thermometer!) and took out a square cast iron skillet (you really need to go w/ a square or rectangular pan to cut into squares) for my Slap Yo Mama Cornbread. This was the most challenging part of the whole thing was getting the cornbread cooked through without scorching the bottom which I must have done 3 or 4 times before getting down the right technique. Basically, I put it directly on the gas grill at 400F for 10 minutes (put the opposite burner on full heat and the one directly under the cornbread at the lowest I could get away with while keeping it at 400F). and then put it on the top rack for 10 minutes more to cook through and rotated another pan of cornbread back on the grill top until I had knocked out about 4 trays of cornbread. Perfection…even thumbs up from all the 5 year old girls out with their dads for the weekend (that’s an endorsement!). Any other tips on what works best for keeping it from burning and still cooking through, would love to hear ’em.

While that was going, we cut the pork belly into slices maybe 1/2 inch thick, put them on a scorching flat top and seared it on both sides.

When the cornbread was done, I let it cool a bit, cut myself a square, put a little seafood salad on top, added a piece of seared pork belly, added a slice of jalapeno, drizzled some peach preserves over the top (original was orange marmalade, but I really like peach or apricot).

Ta Daaaaah! Not as good as the real thing (you really need to go try it!), but DAAAAMN!

Gracias TooManyHobbiesGuy for the nice feature snap…I was up to my elbows in pork belly and forgot to get a decent camera shot!

Jalapeno Cilantro Cream Sauce

There is a groovy little Mexican restaurant in Austin that I used to get to quite regularly if for nothing else to indulge in their Creamy Jalapeno Cilantro Dip. I’ve wanted to try and replicate it for 20 years and never really got close, but found a few possible variations on it online and then tried to make it lower calorie. The result is pretty fantastic and it can be just a dip for chips or as I like to do slather it on tacos, bowls, etc. Here we go:

Ingredients:

  • Fat Free Greek Plain Yogurt
  • Lime/Lemon Juice
  • Cilantro
  • Pickled Jalapeno
  • Dry Ranch Dressing Mix

Recipe:

Mix in 1 Cup of yogurt, juice of one lemon, ½ Cup of cilantro, 8-10 pickled jalapenos (adjust for heat you want), ¼ bag of dry ranch dressing mix. Throw it all in the blender and adjust to taste.

Memphis Style Spare Ribs on My New Barrel House Smoker

Just got a new toy…my new Barrel House Vertical Smoker on a recommendation from TooManyHobbiesGuy, who is a good buddy and also slays some Q. This video is hypnotic and may make me a pyro, but so be it…

Anyway, it arrived on my doorstep and I had it smoking 4 racks of ribs within 30 minutes (crazy easy setup). Anyway, here’s what I did with them…

Rubbed down the ribs ahead of time with BBQ Bible Memphis Style Rib Rub (Thank You Steven Raichlen!) and had the mop sauce already made.

Rub Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 4 1/2 tspns ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 tsps dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbspns sea salt
  • 1 tspns celery salt
  • 1 1/2 tspns cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tspns garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tspns dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 tspns ground cumin

Mop Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cups yellow (ballpark) mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt

If you need a how to from there, hit up the link above….tons more amazing stuff there as I posted previously (love, love, love this BBQ book) .

Built up the smoker while I got the coals hot, loaded it up, inserted ribs vertically, and then basically followed the Raichlen recipe. Boom…all done from time the smoker landed on my doorstep to pulling out some lovely ribs in about 3 1/2 hours…is that a record?! Maybe. After that, ate some dry and applied some Stubb’s sauce on some of the others…all were groovy.

Anyway, they came out nice and smoky and very tender. Gonna have to play with it a bit as it’s very different than my little weber smoker, but if you have any good recipes you’ve used or pointers, let me know.

Update: used baby backs instead of spare ribs and got better results…falling off the bone. Also, when I went to apply the mop sauce, I wrapped foil on end closest to the flames to keep them from drying out per a few people’s recommendations and good results…also considering flipping them about halfway next time…will update as I hone.