Sunday, March 6, 2011

Smoked Brisket, Messy Turkey Legs, and the ever popular Chicken Ratatouille - 3/6/11

Sweet But Messy Turkey Legs

3 small turkey legs
garlic salt (with parsley)
lemon pepper
1 large Spanish onion, rough chop
2 medium carrots, cut crosswise into thirds, then lengthwise into sticks
1-14 oz. can whole berry cranberry sauce
1/2 can duck sauce (use the cranberry sauce can to measure the duck sauce)
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Sprinkle the turkey legs all over with the garlic salt and lemon pepper and set aside while you prepare the onions and carrots.  In a small (smaller rather than large) crockpot, put the onions and carrots in first.  Sprinkle a little bit of kosher salt over the vegetables.  Then add the turkey legs to the crockpot.  Combine the cranberry sauce, duck sauce and soy sauce, and pour over the contents of the crockpot.  Cover and cook on the low setting for eight hours.  Remove the lid, turn off the heat, and let the contents cool so the sauce will thicken.  I recommend serving this with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable like broccoli or brussel sprouts.

Emeril's Texas-Style Smoked Brisket  - The recipe at Food Network

Let me make a few comments - Emeril's recipe presumes you are using a certain kind of smoker.  There are many different ways to smoke meat, and I recommend you follow your manufacturer's instructions.  I will be using the smoker box of a gas grill.  The important thing to remember is that old barbecue mantra "low and slow."  Your patience will be rewarded.

I do not make the barbecue sauce from scratch.  I like to use Sonny's sweet sauce, which is available for sale all over.  After the beef is sliced, I like to pour some sauce on it to warm through, and then place slices of the saucy beef on top of a slice of Texas Garlic Toast (make your own or from the freezer section).  This is serious good eats.  Add this to your list of manly comfort foods, suitable for the Super Bowl.  Or a backyard barbecue with homemade cole slaw, macaroni salad, and hot German potato salad as accompaniments.

UPDATE:  I've got the best-smelling backyard in Central Florida.  Just sayin' ...

The brisket is sliced up, so let me critique the final result:  next time, I will only use enough of the spice rub to season the outside, rather than coat it in a crust. The crust is too heavy and too spicy, and I think it  prevented the formation of a nice smoke ring.  Also, I may try to periodically spray the meat with beer or some other liquid.   That is how I've done it in the past, and I think I was rewarded with a moister piece of meat.  I also think this brisket was too closely trimmed by the butcher.  I like a thicker layer of fat, because it drips down on the meat as it cooks, acting as a natural baste. Having said that, it was still pretty tasty and it sliced up like a dream.

The Ever-Popular Chicken Ratatouille
This is going to look like a lot of work, but you can work at a relaxed pace, finishing the vegetables, then sitting down to watch Howard the Duck, then the sausage, then more Howard ... you get the idea.

Vegetarians, Take Heart:  The Oven-Roasted Vegetables portion of the recipe
1 pound fresh mushrooms, any combination.  Remove stems if you are using shittakes, and cut larger buttons  and criminis in half
6 small yellow squash, cut into chunks
3 large zucchini, cut into chunks
2 green peppers, cut into large strips or chunks
1 red pepper, cut into large strips or chunks
4 medium carrots, cut crosswise into thirds, then lengthwise into halves or quarters
2 large Spanish onions, cut into chunks
10 or more garlic cloves, sliced thin
Extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
Emeril's Essence
Herbes de Provence (dried)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the vegetables and distribute into metal baking pans.  I used 4 pans to ensure the vegetables would roast rather than steam.  Drizzle a little oil over the vegetables, and with your hands mix to make sure they are coated.  Then sprinkle some of the salt, Essence, and the dried herbes de Provence (I buy Badia brand in the Hispanic foods section) and again mix with your hand to evenly distribute.  Put the pans in the oven and roast the vegetables about 30 minutes.  If there is a lot of liquid from the mushrooms, increase the temperature to 425 for just five more minutes.  Combine all of the vegetables into a very large roasting pan with deep sides, and set aside.
"Before" and "After"
Carnivores of the World, Unite:  The Chicken and Sausage portion of the recipe
1 1/2 pounds sweet Italian-style sausage (I used pepper and onion) - about 5 sausages
10-12 chicken thighs, with skin and on the bone
kosher salt
black pepper
Emeril's Essence 
granulated garlic
Herbes de Provence
2-26 oz. jars of chunky vegetable pasta sauce (I used Ragu's super vegetable primavera and super chunky mushroom)

Time to drag out that electric frying pan again.  Set the heat on about 250 degrees, no higher.  Add a little bit of oil to the pan, then prick the sausages all over and add them carefully to the pan.  Cook them very slowly, turning every 4 minutes, until done throughout.  This will take around 30 minutes.  While the sausage is cooking, rinse and pat dry the chicken, then sprinkle both sides with the salt, pepper, Essence, and herbes. When done, remove the sausages from the pan and set aside to cool.  Add a little more oil if needed, increase the temperature to 325 degrees, and brown the chicken on both sides, turning occasionally.  While the chicken is cooking, cut each cooled sausage in half, crosswise.  Remove the browned chicken,  let the pan cool, then remove all of the excess oil and discard.

Pour one jar of sauce into the pan.  Place the chicken and sausage back in the pan.  Pour the remaining jar of sauce over the chicken and sausage.  Cover the pan, set on simmer and let cook about 15 minutes.
Carefully place the chicken and sausage pieces on top of the vegetables.  With a really big spoon or ladle, pour the sauce evenly over the dish.  Heat together in a 350 degree oven until the sauce starts to gently bubble, and just before serving top each piece of chicken with a slice of mozzarella or provolone cheese.  Return to the oven for a few minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and squeek.  You can eat it without any starch, but I recommend cooking up some pasta and ladling the sauce and vegetables over that.  Serve this pasta alongside a piece of chicken and some sausage.
Placing the chicken and sausage over the vegetables and the finished dish

Louisiana Crab and Corn Bisque - Chef Patrick Mould's Recipe Here

No way can I get this done today ... I've used up all my free time, my limited stock of energy, and every micron of sink space.  I promise to try it sometime this week ... I've got no soup in the house, and that is a sad state of affairs.  Like my sink.

Cook like there's nobody watching, and eat like it's heaven on earth.

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