Meathenge’s Smoked Crop Circle Chicken

Happy Monday!  We did up this whole chicken in the Charbroil Smoker Roaster Grill last night.  Came out absolutely stunning in 1 hour, crispy, smoky skin action included. Trussed and rubbed well with kosher salt is all one needs.  I got the nifty crop circles by cooking it upside down with the breast portion resting on the bottom of the meat holding basket. Way cool, eh?

xo, Biggles

Forgetful Entry #19 – A / wtf?

And, Dang. I know it’s been a while, but dang. A few moments ago was cleaning out the folders on my desktop and ran across a few pictures I’d taken a few months ago for a post. Yet another meal that lingered, then fell by the wayside. It took me nearly 5 minutes to sit with the pictures and the name of the jpg before I could remember anything about the meal. Shake those cobby webs Biggles!
Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius gifted me a bottle of Kansas City Cowtown BBQ Sauce, and apparently I smoked a chicken, then glazed the sucker with the sauce. See?
Um, I don’t think ol’ CB knew what he gave away. Or maybe he did realize the gift he gave me and I apologize for it taking me 2 months to post about it. But this BBQ sauce is hands down, among some of the best bottled BBQ sauces I’ve ever had. Heck, it’s a better BBQ sauce when compared to some of the ones I’ve made or been served over the years. The damned stuff is really good, tangy with a finish of sweet, smoky goodness and thick enough to stay put. Sure there are the purists and the elitists who won’t do sauce, but sometimes sauce is good. Sometimes I like having sauce with my smoked goodies and if and when I decide it’s time for sauce, dangit, I’m going to have some sauce! Even makes an impression 2 months later.
Hmmm, or maybe it could very well be that I only had a bowl of cereal for dinner and I’m hungry. Either way, if you see this sauce on a shelf or online somewheres, it’s Meathenge Approved. Hungry or no, it’s a solid contender.
xo, Biggles

Rogue Wordless Wednesday !!!

Wordless Wednesday, yer doin’ it wrong. Not only am I not on “The List”, am using words.
Still here, still kicking, should have stopped by and let ya’ll know I was “On Holiday”. This means I’m a lazy ass and haven’t been cooking much. The boys and I have spent most of our summer in front a computer screen, or plinking cans with a BB gun of some ilk. We’re doing okay, school starts next week. We can hardly wait.
Happy Wordless Wednesday!
xo, Biggles
ps – Thems is slow, hickory grilled chicken breasts. Slow cause they gots no skin and no bacon. Gotta take it slow, they were so darned juicy!

What’s on your grill or smoker right now?

The membrane has been removed, entire rack rubbed with kosher salt, marinating. Cooker is nearly ready, great smells. What you gots?
xo, Biggles
Editor’s Update (next morning):
Fired up the new cooker last night and smoked these babies! Removed membrane, rubbed with Kosher salt, smoked with hickory. Juicy! Click on the picture if you so choose.

A Preview to A Review

A few weeks ago a major player in outdoor cooking rigs sent me a 55 lb box, they wanted to know what I thought of its contents. It’s an interesting piece of equipment and am having to run at least 3 meals through it to see how it stacks up. What you’re viewing today is a boar steak from Ted the Rancher of Highland Hills Ranch, located firmly at the Berkeley Famers Markets. Kosher salt only, so creamy smooth with a tender bite that resists a tad then spreads.
xo, Biggles

Teriyaki Smoked Tilapia – amazingly perfect

Yup, it was this good. Surprised the hell out of me too, am very impressed. I’d planned on smoking the fish the next day, this would put the marination at 24 hours. I wasn’t able to pull it together due to pouring rain and very chilly temperatures. So, the fish and pork loin roast sat another 24 hours before I could get to it.
Thursday after work the first thing I did was start a fire, I needed every minute to get this rolling so I could get to sleep at a decent hour.
The second thing I did was to pull the 2 meats out of the fridge to warm up a bit. After oven roasting the first fish batch, I found the Soy Vey Very Teriyaki marinade to be a bit on the strong side, figured after 2 days sitting in the juice, it’d be pretty much ruined. The pork loin that Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius gifted me would be perfect. What I thought I’d do was to wash the marinade off the meats, pat dry.
Got the smoker’s temp stable, the meat was at room temp. Just for good measure grabbed a handful of Bledsoe’s bacon to install above the fish and pork, baste!
I used hickory chips for smoke action, it’s what I had on hand. I used Broad Leaf Maple charcoal for heat, it’s all I had left.
Looking pretty good, eh? Wanna see the bacon?
Oh boy! The bacon came off first, the boys and I made that go away. Soon the fish was flaky, juicy, perfect. The pork loin came out later, pulled it at 138 degrees internal temperature and let it rest. While it was absolutely stellar, even better the next day, I have to say the fish was the one to eat Thursday night.
The shot I took of the pork roast wasn’t usable, so decided to leave it out this time. Don’t worry, there will be more in the future. In any case, you can clearly see the inner meat of the fish was white, the marinade didn’t penetrate that far. And since I washed off any bits & juice, the smoke took very well. Tender, juicy fish with flavor of teriyaki, then a warm smoke to finish dialed in this meal precisely. I shared a little of it and was given 3 thumbs up. I can close my eyes, lick my lips and still enjoy this meal.
xo, Biggles

Grilled Beef Bacon & Tri-tip Steaks – U.S. Wellness Meat Review

I received this meat for free, I did not pay for it. I was asked kindly if I wanted some free meat to review on Meathenge. I contemplated this on The Tree of Woe until the answer came to me, “Free meat? Shit yeah!”
These two meats kinda surprised me, first I wasn’t expecting beef bacon and when I see the word tri-tip I think roast. I held these two little guys and giggled, “This ain’t no tri-tip.” And brother, or sister, I know tri-tip, I’m from California. It’s supposed to have 3 tips to the roast and these were little meat logs. Next, I kinda stared at the beef bacon, a little disdain coming forth. You see, both myself and Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius are bacon snobs. He and I have been through quite a bit of bacon that was not made from a pork product and it’s rarely above mediocre. This isn’t because it was bad or whatever, but it’s tough to beat grilled pork belly bacon. We’ll have to see.
This last week we were lucky enough to have not only a dry week (rain, not booze), but the days got up to the high 60 degree mark. What with the mold problem in our tiny home, I spent each evening grill-side cooking dinner. Even if it was dark and had to cook by flashlight, it was a necessary therapy.
If’n yer interested, click on through to the other side and let’s see how all this came out, eh?

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A Review: Truffled Cornish Game Hen


Eeek! The chicky is leaking!

Laurel of Mire Poix sent me some fancy Perigord truffles for review, what do to? Maybe I should ask Tinker and Tanker? They knew what to do! (Odd Richard Scary reference, sorry!)
I checked their web site and they had a nifty recipe for using the truffles under the skin of some game hen action. That’s something I could do, enjoy and complete without causing myself any undue grief. But where to find decent game hens? I didn’t want to buy the ones at my local grocery and my other haunts just don’t have them. I rested on my laurels for a few days and decided I was going to actually have to drive a distance to find what I was looking for, or did I?
While picking up the boys out in Lafayette, I remembered and spied Diablo Foods across the street from where I was idling at a traffic light. Diablo Foods isn’t for the feint of heart or the low in wallet funds. Their meat department is vast and well staffed, and breathtakingly expensive. I found what I wanted, good game hens, right there in the middle! Just in case I flubbed a run, I bought 4. Only came to 28 bux, sigh. I succeeded though and was on my way.
I’d had such great success with Kevin of Seriously Good‘s gastrique recipe, i decided to try it with apricots (there were in season at the time). And instead of actually following Mire Poix’s recipe (rules are meant to be broken), I decided to smoke the birds instead of roasting them or using their sauce.
I shaved the truffle and slid it under the skins, rubbed with salt-free butter, then a little bit of kosher salt over all. Install to smoker after the temp has settled, easy peasy. When dark meat has reached 160, pull and let rest. The gastrique recipe is dead simple and comes right together. J was lucky enough to be able to attend that evening and we dined like a king and queen on this exceptionally tasty meal. The truffles lend a nice earthy flavor, so delicate, so nice. The gastrique however, was a complete miss. It didn’t pair with the dainty truffled bird whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, the apricot simmered with butter & vinegar was amazing, but it completely missed its mark. Oh, we suffer so. All things said, it was a great way to dress up those little birds and we enjoyed the meal greatly.
Thank you so much Laurel for thinking of me and my staff here at Meathenge Labs. Your gift was most certainly enjoyed and appreciated!

A Review: Brined, Smoked Duck Chop with a Peach Gastrique

As everyone knows, I can cook. I do cook, but I don’t consider myself someone who cooks. My mettle hasn’t been tested in way too long, sad really. So when Laurel of Mire Poix the premier site for foie gras, truffles & caviar offered to send me a bevy of fresh fancy pants ingredients to review, I jumped in with both feet.
Then I spent a week losing sleep and fretting about every little angle. In my cooler were fresh duck chops, fresh truffles, truffle butter & rillettes du perigord. I decided to break it up in to a few posts so I didn’t lose all my marbles (don’t have many to begin with).
My first email, then a phone call was to Kevin D. Weeks of Seriously Good, “Halp!” He and I have been online buddies for quite some time and I needed a little reassurance and guidance. Given he does this kind of stuff both in the kitchen, teaching and in written word for a living, I figured he’d calm my squirrelly ass down. He did and I was on my way with a list for a 12 hour brine and a peach gastrique (French sweet & sour sauce), hot smoke that duck!
All seems simple, right? Ha! Yeah sure, later that same day I came home with a few pounds of absolutely amazing FREE cherries. Peaches? Cherries? Duck, oh my. It was then I remembered that Rick the retired butcher used to make a cherry & apple brine for his fowl and it was fricken amazing, I wanted THAT brine. See, if I’m going to take the time to brine something, I want more than just salt and sugar, seems like a waste of time to me.
Ain’t it fun taking something simple and throwing a wrench in to it? It’s what I do best. Hell, I could have just salted the duck and grilled it. But I felt I should pay some respect to the duck and Laurel for sending over free food.
I really took my time and was careful with it all, got the duck in the brine without any mishap. It was halfway through the brining that I realized, Rick still makes money off this brine. But then I thought, anyone who gives me a recipe or has their picture taken of me surely has to know it’s going to be on the internet for all to see. But out of respect (this doesn’t happen that often) I called Rick back and talked to him about it. Sure enough, he wasn’t comfortable letting his labored over brine recipe hit the streets. Figures. Here I am, Meathenge and I can’t give you the exact recipe. I love my life, and what I’ve done to it.
So, let’s just say I brined the duck and leave it at that, eh?
Next up the gastrique, eeek! French cooking oh my! As I found out pretty darned quickly even an anxiety ridden hillbilly with no hair can make one of these sauces. I had planned on doing a test run, but in my traditional way of doing things, I didn’t. It was dead simple and can whip one up without even giving it a second thought today. And if you haven’t made or tried one? You need to. The absolutely amazing flavors will astound you. The rich bright flavors of the fruit, then the tiny bite of the vinegar muted with the rich love of the butter and shallot cannot be matched.
Oh! I have a funny story! Kevin sent me a link to his recipe, which when I needed it, could not locate. I did what I hate to do, pull one off the net, look over the ingredients and procedure and make it in my mind to see if it might do the trick, I found one! A few days after I’d made it? I noticed it was Kevin’s recipe at Dang.
wine or cognac
See? What part of that doesn’t totally rock, here’s his recipe for: Gastrique – French Sweet and Sour Sauce
When the sauce was done, I waited for the duck to get to 160 and pulled it. Truly smoked it in the traditional sense with a hunk of peach wood for flavor that Chilebrown gifted me. I let it rest a bit, sliced and poured some sauce over it. The duck was fork tender with a solid but not nearly overpowering waft of smoke. The gastrique was a compliment and didn’t even remotely over power the duck, oh lovely duck meat!
But now the true test, would my picky 14 and 9 year old boys dig it as much as I did? The 4 chops never left the cutting board in the kitchen, oohs and ahhs were heard during the entire time. They talked to nearly everyone they saw over the next few days saying how good the smoked duck with a peach gastrique was. The look on people’s faces, then staring at me. Oh yeah baby, I can cook.
Thank you to Laurel, thank you Kevin, thank you Rick and thank you Chilebrown for an outstanding meal. If you can’t get such things locally, then Mire Poix of Napa California can get you what you need.
xo, Biggles
ps – There’s more to come from Mire Poix, stay tuned!

A Tuesday evening, what’s in your smoker?

Been spending some time on the net reading what others are up to, mostly it seems to be “The Heat” and or humidity. Or at least it seems that way to me, mostly because it’s 66 degrees with fresh ocean breezes here near the bay.
Even though it’s a work week, there’s plenty of time in the evening to stoke up the smoker for a short little jaunt through smoked fowl land. Today we have smoked game hens from Diablo Foods in Lafayette. I can’t remember where they were raised, but it sure as hell has nothing to do with the major players usually available (read: I paid dearly).
Rubbed with butter, salted and trussed up to a 217 degree smoker for a little over an hour (honestly can’t remember how long it took). Sure it took an hour to get the fire right, but it was worth the wait. All 3 of us remarked at the juicy tenderness of the breast meat, sorry it wasn’t dry and mealy.
Cheers to you and yours on this fine Tuesday evening,

For the Weber kettle – A Cast Iron Grate Replacement by Craycort

Big D emailed me more than a few weeks ago and had stumbled on this new product (came out in June). This new product is a cast iron grate that is a replacement for the old chrome grill in a Weber kettle. Cool, eh? He emailed the guy extolling Meathenge’s virtues and said I just had to have one for review. Who am I to argue about such things?
It showed up directly and I monkeyed with it, figuring on dusting off my old kettle and seeing what this new fangled thing could do on a Meathenge Review. The deal was, the following weekend the boys and I were due up in Calistoga for fun and merriment. I usually cook in a hole in the ground, makes things so much simpler and less expensive. Not only do I not have to haul a grill up, but Jeffrey doesn’t have to buy one just for me to have when I’m there. Just toss an old grate on a few rocks and we’re done. An epiphany, I’ll bring the cast iron grate and use that over a hole in the ground! Duh.
I’m glad I thought of it. Sunday afternoon found me cleaning out my hole, the rocks were in fine shape. A fire was started, let it mellow a bit and set the grate down. It’s pre-seasoned, all ready to go. I grilled sausages, chicken parts, country style pork ribs, bacon directly and a beef tri-tip roast and all came out perfectly. It was a dream to cook on, although squatting next to a fire pit for 3 hours does have its drawbacks. Ouch!
The inventor contacted all the major players for distribution of this grill and had no takers. Personally, I believe they really screwed themselves. Now it’s being sold directly, bypassing all the major corporations, go man go!
I will be doing another review wherein I install this to my kettle, but I felt this product really needed to hit the street sooner than I could get that ready. And this was a perfect opportunity to test its mettle, heh. It performs exceptionally well, the build quality is high and it’s a joy to use. I know the 2 guys that have weber kettles at the party will be ordering this very soon. Don’t even remotely wait to order yours, you need it. Remember, you’re not sending your hard earned money to some large corporation, you’re sending it directly to the guy who invented it.
Craycort’s Cast Iron Grate replacement for the Weber kettle grill. Price is approximately 85 bux for the 22.5″ one.