Our Art rendition of the steps in making the Smokey Jack Frost Cocktail
JACK FROST GOES SMOKEY- THE COCKTAIL!
Also known as the winter piña colada, the Jack Frost cocktail is perfect for introducing a little smoke flavor to. If you like sweet, smooth cocktails, then the Jack Frost is for you. I’ll give you the recipe and the easy technique for smoking the entire drink that you’ll enjoy sipping all winter long. Pick your favorite festive cocktail glass and let’s take Jack Frost to the smoky side.
A Sweet Rimmed Glass
Before we can make the actual cocktail, the serving glass must be prepared. Collect your favorite glasses, some finely shredded coconut, and light corn syrup. With a paper towel, apply a thin coating of corn syrup to the rim of each glass. Place a small amount of shredded coconut on a plate and dip the coated glass into the coconut. Be sure to lift and press the glass into the coconut a couple of times to ensure an even coating of the rim. Set aside until the cocktail is ready to be poured.
Processing the Cocktail
I prefer to make a slightly frozen style cocktail so I start by adding ice to the food processor, followed by 1 cup of pineapple juice, ½ cup of vodka, ½ cup of Blue Curacao, and ½ cup of cream of coconut. Pulse this mixture until smooth or the ice is reduced to the consistency you prefer.
Tasting Notes: Although I’ve elected to use plain vodka in my Jack Frost, you’ll find peppermint vodka another great alternative that gives a particularly festive flavor to the drink.
Since I’ve produced a full batch of the Jack Frost cocktail, I place the cocktail pitcher into a plastic bag, insert the hose of the smoker, and add a pinch of Piccolo® wood chips to the device. The unit is turned on and the chips lit which begins the cold smoke production. Once the bag and pitcher are full of smoke, the device is turned off, the hose removed and the bag cinched to allow for full smoke infusion. I like to shake the liquid a bit in the pitcher to be sure the smoke vapor clings to the drink molecules.
You can decide how long to leave the smoke in the bag or wait until it has completely dissipated before removing the pitcher. Now pour the smoked cocktail into your rimmed glasses and let the party begin!
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Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!
GRILLED PRIME RIB THE ULTIMATE WITH WOOD
Yes, prime rib is expensive and likely the reason so many are fearful to take this cut of beef to the grill. I’m going to take away that fear and show you just how your grill will respect this cut and produce the tender, buttery, crusty outside roast you want.
Although there are different opinions on whether to make a roast with the ribs intact or removed, I am someone who prefers to cook with the ribs in. I’ll give you tips on doing a boneless version as well if that is your preference.
For now, purchase an 8 lb. or 3 rib roast, get your favorite wood chunks, and get ready to fire up your gas grill using a two-zone cooking method for a prime rib roast you won’t soon forget.
For the most part, my butcher has done most of the trimming. I will just remove any remaining fat and ensure all the silver skin is gone. You should see meat all the way around the roast. In the end, I’ve removed about a pound of additional fat.
At this point, I want to add salt to the meat to reduce the amount of water before cooking and tenderize the inner fibers. For every pound of meat, I sprinkle a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt. This is called dry brining and will require that the meat be refrigerated for 24 hours after the salt is applied. I simply salt and wrap the meat in plastic wrap to prevent liquid from leaking, and place in the refrigerator. Or, you can salt and place in a non-reactive container and leave uncovered.
Char Crust Rub
While the meat is tenderizing with the dry brine, we want to prepare a char crust to be rubbed all over the outside of the roast just before it goes on the grill. Combine 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish. I combine all my ingredients with a mortar and pestle. If it is a bit too thick, just mix in a little water so more of a paste is formed. Apply the char rub just before cooking and you’re ready to good.
Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in the char crust rub. Some considerations include: thyme, cinnamon, chili powder, clove, ginger, even cocoa powder.
Smoking on the Gas Grill
I really enjoy cooking a prime cut of beef roast on the gas grill as the two-zone set up makes this low stress. I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first placing a disposable foil pan under the grill grate on the side I plan to cook on. This will be my water/drip pan. I add about ½” of hot water to the pan and place my metal smoker box containing three SmokinLicious® wood chunks on the side I plan to cook on, right under the grill grate. Now I lite only the burners under the smoker box. I set these burners to medium heat to start. Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 225°F.
Time to add the char crusted rubbed roast to the unlit side of the grill, directly above the drip/water pan. I insert a thermometer and close the lid. Basically, for the next couple of hours I just need to monitor that the temperature holds to 225°F and that the water pan has enough water in it. Only as I get closer to 110°F internal temperature of the meat, do I start to babysit the grill. This is when I like to brush a bit of butter on the outside of the meat. It produces great color to the crust.
At 115°F internal temperature, I remove the water/drip pan, meat string ties, and the meat thermometer. I’m now going to finish the cooking to 130°F internal temperature by direct searing the roast on all sides. As soon as it reaches or approaches that internal temperature, I immediately get the meat off the grill and serve.
We all have a guest who insists they want their meat cook further. If that is the case, you can add a slice directly to the grill for just a minute or two, turning constantly, to give them what they want. Yes, you will have someone who wants the meat at 145°F or possibly above.
If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill. Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.
For those looking for a boneless version of this roast, feel free to request a boneless roast from your butcher, or you can remove the bones yourself and cook separately on the grill for tasty riblets. Essentially, the preparation is still the same as is the overall cooking temperature and finished meat temperature.
What’s your favorite preparation for prime rib? Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.
Barbecue Sauces come in many different size, shapes and colors, our primer can assist you in understanding their use ages.
BARBECUE SAUCE BROKEN DOWN
Barbecue is a cooking method that includes smoke vapor for flavoring. This is my pure definition. I won’t go into the controversy over whether grilling is part of barbecue or not. Just know that some type of plant material must combust to produce smoke that produces flavor to what is being cooked.
The resulting food whether an animal protein or some other item, can be finished with various methods. By far, the most popular finish is with a sauce, more commonly known as barbecue sauce.
Let’s dive into what comprises a sauce used for barbecue and how regions are influenced by the ingredients chosen for the sauce.
I’m Talking Sauce Not Mop!
For those that aren’t familiar with the difference, we are talking only about sauces today and not mops. A mop is a thinner liquid that is applied while meats are cooking to keep the protein moist during the cooking process. These are commonly used for open pit barbecue and grilling and are applied while the meat is raw all the way through the cooking process. Like a marinade, once a mop is used for a cooking event, any leftovers need to be discarded to prevent cross contamination of bacteria. The tool used to apply the mop looks like a miniature floor mop.
Sauce is a glazing liquid that is much thicker than a mop and usually contains ingredients that provide a balance of sweet, salty, savory, and spicy. Generally, a sauce is either applied near the end of the cooking or left as a side to be applied by the guest enjoying the barbecue meats.
There are a lot of variations to a sauce which are generally based on regional ingredients and cuisine.
The Carolina states revolve around mustard and vinegar-based sauces. Since pork ribs, whole hog, and pork butt dominate in these regions, the acidity of these ingredients blends perfectly to bring the meats to perfection.
South Carolina: the sauce is yellow, sweet with a tartness commonly found in central South Carolina to the coast of Charleston. The sweetness comes from cane or standard sugar and the tartness from standard yellow mustard paired with a little dried mustard powder.
The western portion of South Carolina tends to lean toward ketchup-based sauces while northwest you’ll find tomato sauce added.
North Carolina: Although commonly associated with North Carolina, vinegar-based sauces are really a central to eastern North Carolina preference. These locations often use the vinegar sauce as both a mop and sauce, starting with naked meat; no rub. Commonly white distilled vinegar is the choice rather than the apple cider variety and this is paired with a little sugar, salt, red pepper flakes or crushed Chipotle, black pepper and hot sauce.
The western portion of the state is more prone to a tomato-based sauce or “dip” as it is called. Like their eastern counterparts, they apply this as a mop and sauce to naked meat. Ingredients generally include distilled white vinegar, ketchup, sugar, hot sauce, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and a bit of juice, usually apple.
Used for chicken, this is a mayonnaise-based sauce that has no sweetness at all. Other ingredients include apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, apple juice, garlic powder, horseradish, dry mustard, cayenne pepper.
Kansas City Red
This is likely what most of the sauces sold in grocery stores can be compared to. It is very thick, very sweet, and ketchup or tomato based. Its common ingredients include onion, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, chili powder, spicy mustard, molasses, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire, and ketchup.
With beef being king in the state of Texas, their sauce also tends to serve as a mop as well. This sauce tends to be very dark and similar in consistency to gravy. Due to their proximity to the Mexican border, chiles are common in the sauce. As beef takes a long cooking time, this sauce/mop penetrates deep into the meat making it seem less like a sauce.
Known to include vinegar and Worcestershire, this is often referred to as Western Kentucky-Style Barbecue Sauce. It is quite thin due to the amount of water added with only a little bit of ketchup and seasonings that include paprika, dry mustard, onion and garlic powder, and red pepper.
When in Memphis, learn how to order your ribs. They serve them two ways – dry and wet. Dry is just that – dry rubbed only. Wet will give you a saucy rib. Oh, yes, Memphis is all about ribs.
The sauce tends to be a balance of sweet and spicy as they use both vinegar and ketchup in most recipes. Other ingredients include: onion, garlic, Worcestershire, butter, molasses, mustard, paprika, brown sugar, oregano, thyme.
Keep in mind, most natives only like dry ribs but are known to indulge in sauce on their pulled pork and chicken.
Certainly, you will find other sauces available during your travels in North America. Some will be soy sauce based like Hawaiians use while others are fruit rich. I love smoking various fruits while in season and then using their rendered juices in a sauce. Strawberry, raspberry, peach, and cherry work great for this purpose.
To me, a sauce should compliment the protein your serving and not cover it up. It should not be the only flavor you taste. If you can’t decipher the meat under the sauce, then the balance of ingredients is not there.
If you step into the arena of sauce making, here’s some additional information to keep in mind. Always include some level of vinegar, salt, sugar and spice as these have preservative properties that will allow your sauce to stay fresh for a while. Use glass jars for storing your sauce and try to get the sauce in the jars while still hot. Get them to the refrigerator quickly after jarring.
Unopened sauce will last many months while open jars should be used within a month.
Keep in mind that when cooking with hardwood as in traditional hot smoking, it is the ingredients, cut of meat, age of the wood that all factor in to how the wood flavonoids reveal themselves. Don’t let anyone tell you that a fruitwood will always produce a sweet flavor to smoked meats. That is for you to determine through the additional ingredients you use in the meat’s preparation.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how lamb has slowly been gaining greater popularity in North America. Normally associated with Easter, I’ve had many followers indicate that they love to cook lamb in the summer on the grill as well as for holidays like Thanksgiving (yes, there are some that don’t do a turkey or add this protein to the dinner) and Christmas.
My intention today is to provide some guidance on the cuts of lamb, which work best for wood-fired cooking methods, and provide some flavor pairing suggestions to consider for your recipes. Know that my definition of lamb is a young sheep of fewer than 12 months of age.
There are eight basic cuts of lamb: neck, shoulder, breast, ribs, loin, leg, foreshank, and shank. Immediately, I want you to understand that there is much less meat harvested from a lamb than on some other common animals. The reason is that lamb tends to be quite fatty and the fat is not something consumable like the current rage with pork. Once a lamb is harvested, trimmed of its fat, had non-edible parts removed, there is about 40% of its weight remaining in viable meat. Thus, lamb can be very expensive.
Let’s look at each of the cuts and provide some insight into the best methods of cooking each.
Neck: Then neck contains some of the most marbled meat of the lamb making it ideal for longer cooking methods. Because of the fattiness of the cut, it is best to marinate it for about 4 hours prior to cooking. This is a cut that is generally sliced, marinated, and then cooked casserole-style. This can be done on a grill set up with a two-zone cooking method to allow the wood to be added to the hot side of the grill which can infuse the contents of the casserole if left uncovered. This cut also works well when ground to produce lamb burgers and sausage.
Shoulder: This is by far one of the most flavorful cuts, is less expensive as it contains more connective tissue and bone producing a tougher cut and can be cooked a variety of ways. This section can produce bone-in and boneless roasts, shoulder chops, and stew meat. It is ideal for a slow and low method of cooking which includes traditional smoking. As such, preparations can include brining, dry and wet rub, and marinating.
Foreshank and Shank: As the name implies, the foreshank is attached to the front legs of the lamb while the shank is connected to the rear legs. These cuts are ideally braised and presented as individual servings. Again, these can be done like the neck cut in a casserole on the grill with wood for flavoring.
Rib: Containing what is called the rack and crown, this is the section of the lamb that would be the equivalent to prime rib roast of beef. It is the most expensive cut and is ideal on the grill. Always use a two-zone cooking set up to prevent overcooking of the outside. Chops can also be produced from this cut but note that they cook quickly. I prefer to still use a two-zone cooking setup so I can move the chops from direct heat to indirect as needed.
Loin: This muscle of the lamb is the most tender and resembles miniature versions of T-bone steak. It can also be cut into the tenderloin and top loin chops, which is the filet mignon of lamb. Don’t think you can roast that tenderloin, however, as the size is too small for this method but it works perfectly when grilled.
Leg: Unlike other animals, the leg of lamb is very tender and versatile, producing boneless roasts, sirloin steaks, and kabob meat. This cut can be butterflied if deboned and grilled or left whole for grilled lamb.
Breast: This tends to be a small cut that you can use bone-in or deboned. If bone-in, treat like a rack of ribs and plan to slow cook. The ideal is on the grill after marinating overnight. A temperature of 225°F is recommended and again, using a two-zone cooking method will keep this moist if you include a water pan. There are many recipes for stuffed lamb breast as well that a roasting method can be used. Certainly, grilling two-zone method will make these moist, tender and flavorful.
One characteristic of lamb is its ability to stand up to other strong flavors whether in spice or herb form. Here are the top flavor pairings for lamb:
Almond: incorporate into a stuffing with rice
Anchovy: cuts slits into a leg or shoulder and insert drained anchovy into each cavity
Anise: a perfect addition to a casserole for infusion to the meat
Apricot: preferably used dry this is perfect with cinnamon, cumin, coriander
Cabbage: add potatoes and let it simmer with the meat
Eggplant: perfect if done kabob style over the hot coals
Goat Cheese: add spinach or kale and this is the perfect pairing for lamb burgers
Mint: likely the most well-known pairing which reduces the funkier undertones of the meat
Peas: add butter, onion, and tomato
Saffron: use this spice in rice to accompany the meat
With all these great flavor pairings, lamb should continue to grow in popularity and maybe will surpass one of our more common animal protein choices.
Do you have a favorite cut and preparation of grilled lamb? Share your thoughts and photos. Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.