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Uncle Bert’s Shrimp and Grits – Video

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Best of ingredients results in the best dinner!

#NoBoringFood

Also available on YouTube

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc1WbyHHM-3VE1Ger1WzAjQ

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Peach Intensity BBQ YouTube Channel – new videos under construction!

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What moves me about cooking…

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So, I was recently asked by a follower, what moves me about cooking. Naturally, I couldn’t nail it down to one thing, or feeling, so…here you are:

The blood boil and rush of adrenaline when anyone suggests that there is any barbecue superior to that of North Carolina (shots fired, if you feel strongly, come get some);

The warm glow of affection that I get when I pull a chocolate cake out of the oven and my daughter says, “Good work, Daddy!”;

The Zen peace of slicing onions paper-thin so that they will melt into a caramelized hot tub of gravy;

The chuckle that comes from watching someone cut your roast chicken with nothing but the fork (You thought you would need a knife, didn’t you?);

The twinge of sadness at missing my grandmothers balanced by the knowledge that they put the cast iron skillet in my hands and that they are smiling at each other as they look down and see that I finally got the biscuits fluffy and golden…

The feeling of power you get when you clutch a razor-edged 10-inch chef’s knife and break a chicken into pieces that look better than the ones processed at the grocery store;

The never-ending enlightening of learning something new, in the kitchen, every single day;

Last but NEVER LEAST, the pride I feel in knowing that you guys are there to share with me!

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As Promised! Game Food Cookbook Has Arrived!

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Check it out and be sure to grab it at BakeSpace.com!

http://bit.ly/2ix5zsB

NOTE: They’re flying out of the store as of 7 am! Don’t be the last to get one!!

Uncle Bert’s Smoked Turkey Legs – Real Quick!

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There’s nothing like Thanksgiving turkey. There’s also nothing worse than eating Thanksgiving turkey… for 2+ weeks after Thanksgiving.so my attempt to solve this problem is to break down the turkey parts into manageable eye-catching pieces because as we well know people eat with their rice and if it’s small and quick people eat really fast.

In a previous post, I tackled turkey wing flats by smothering them and watching them soak in all of the gravy that we made for them. I cooked 4 of those, just in case someone got jealous of there only being 2 wings on the bird. I mean, after all, who’s going to blame them? I also made drums, but they don’t look as good on camera. That’s for another recipe, another time.

What DOES look good on camera…and looks great everywhere else in the mind of a dutiful State Fair attendee…is turkey legs. To be specific, smoked turkey legs. The kind that taste a little bit like a juicier version of Christmas ham, but with all the crisp bite of smoked meat.

PROBLEM is, it takes a good 4-6 hours to get those smoked turkey legs smoked, much less on the table. No one wants to tend that smoke and fire for hours. After all, it’s Thanksgiving, and I’m pretty sure that people would much rather have all their food waiting and piping hot when they walk in the door, or wish to watch the football game…

(NOTE: before you do anything else, make sure your smoker is pre-heated to 275 degrees. This will keep the low and slow feel of cooking the turkey but provide just enough heat for the required crispy outside. Don’t worry, we’re still going to get this done in 2 hours, and on time! And, before I forget, you get the best results for this recipe using cherry wood…)

SOLUTION: We have to get those whipped up quickly. And the best way to prepare turkey legs is smoked. At least, if you’re a veteran of various fairs, backyard BBQs, and other gatherings in which turkey legs come out. A combination of brining and poaching to get the inner meat partially cooked…and then a good rub that will take the smoke and make the legs look like they do at the fair.

ANSWER: for those of us who aren’t night owls but not quite morning people, we’ve simplified the process to a point where you can get these wings done and plated within 2 hours. Sounds a heck of a lot better than 4, right?

When it comes to poaching or simmering any meats, remember the idea is to make sure that the inside meat is cooked gently. The skin must remain on to hold the outer flavor of the smoker, but this will only take an hour as opposed to the normal 2-3 that it has to spend cooking. One can also find cheer in the fact that you’re not trying to cook an entire turkey. In fact, you can even prepare this dish Thanksgiving morning and plate it hot and fresh right before the family comes around.

SIMMER:

NOTE: The simmering process was borrowed from Christopher Kimball and the wonderful staff at Milk Street. Do yourself a favor and check out the magazine!

The above process ensures very tender meat and saves you cooking time. The smoke itself will crisp the skin, as the meat will stay tender juicy like you remember from the fair – if not better. Keep your napkins handy, folks.

In a large pot of simmering water, combine the following:

Make sure the water is simmering, even gently boiling, before you add the turkey legs. They will drop the temperature, so bring it back up to a simmer after you lower the turkey legs into the bath.

Allow the turkey legs to rest, meat side down, in the bath for 25 minutes while maintaining a gentle simmer/boil.

Remove the turkey legs and allow them to cool off and dry – and take the broth off the heat as well, as you’re about to put it to use. Not only has it served as a warm brine, it will do double duty as a flavor injector!

Now the magic happens!

Take a marinade injector and fill the legs as much as you can with the broth/brine without spilling and punching too many holes. To avoid such, pinpoint a thick part of the turkey leg, and squeeze a little at a time while moving the needle inside and evenly distributing the liquid. This will maintain moisture and volume to the turkey legs without losing too much in the smoker.

While you’re waiting take 1/2 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of your choice of spirit, 1 tablespoon of finely ground kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of garlic paste and 1 tablespoon of onion paste (refer to previous posts). Here you can have fun with a mortar and pestle (which I personally find great for stress relief) or a food processor, but make sure that the mix is very smooth, almost liquid but just a little pasty.

Once the turkey legs cool off enough, paint a thin layer of this mixture on the turkey legs and rub some of it under the skin as well. The salt and the sweet in this brush will caramelize in the smoker and yield that crunch we’re dying for.

Remember to wrap the bone end of the legs with foil, so that the bone won’t burn and you’ll still have a handle to grip as the turkey leg cools.

Smoke the turkey wings at 275 degrees for about 90 minutes. The simmering/poaching process shaves the normal cooking time in half as the dark meat of the legs is already partially cooked and tender. This is important to make sure the smoke ring penetrates far enough into the already juicy meat for a truly smoky bite.

Occasionally, you can paint more of the honey glaze as you flip the legs. This glaze should be reminiscent of a HoneyBaked ham, as the turkey will always take on a slightly hammy taste in the smoking process. That will surely awaken memories of the state fairs we all attended!

Well, I promised you that I would get you in and out in two hours or less. Let’s review:

Uncle Bert’s Smothered Turkey Wings

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For YouTube video: https://youtu.be/pa4Si4rrIS0

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 Fresh turkey wings with first joint (drumsticks) removed

2 teaspoons each of dried sage, oregano, thyme, black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp rice flour

6 cups chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the third joint off the wings and set aside – you’re going to need them shortly…

Take 1tsp of each of the spices and rub them on the second joints (flats) and rub some olive oil separately from the 1/2 all over them. Set them in a pre-heated 275 degree oven on a pan with a rack for circulation of air and heat. You won’t need to worry about those until the gravy gets formed (see below…)

Place the third joints into a pan (preferably cast iron to hold heat) to medium-high heat, so as to only brown each side. After browning, push the thirds to the side and drizzle the oil into the pan. As it warms, place the rice flour into the oil and stir until the rice flour browns into a roux. 

As the roux forms, drizzle the broth into the pan two cups at a time, whisking the roux into gravy so that will not thicken too quickly. Do this until the gravy is halfway up the pan (don’t worry, it’s not too much…). Take it off the heat but don’t stop whisking. Drop the remaining spices at this time.

INGREDIENTS:

4-6 Fresh turkey wings with first joint (drumsticks) removed

2 teaspoons each of dried sage, oregano, thyme, black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tbsp rice flour

6 cups chicken broth

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the third joint off the wings and set aside – you’re going to need them shortly…

Take 1tsp of each of the spices and rub them on the second joints (flats) and rub some olive oil separately from the 1/2 all over them. Set them in a pre-heated 275 degree oven on a pan with a rack for circulation of air and heat. You won’t need to worry about those until the gravy gets formed (see below…)

Place the third joints into a pan (preferably cast iron to hold heat) to medium-high heat, so as to only brown each side. After browning, push the thirds to the side and drizzle the oil into the pan. As it warms, place the rice flour into the oil and stir until the rice flour browns into a roux. 

As the roux forms, drizzle the broth into the pan two cups at a time, whisking the roux into gravy so that will not thicken too quickly. Do this until the gravy is halfway up the pan (don’t worry, it’s not too much…). Take it off the heat but don’t stop whisking.

You can now remove the flats from the oven – they should be gently browned on the skin side after about the time to make the gravy, which should have only taken you 15-20 minutes. Even better, there should be some drippings at the bottom of the pan – send that to the gravy to loosen it while steady whisking. 

At this point, since you have browned the wings, place them in the gravy skin-side up, and heat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat the wings in the gravy with skin side up for 35 minutes so that it turns a deeper golden brown. Remove the pan and flip the wings over for 30 minutes so that the fat from that side renders fully. If you’re worried that your gravy is too thick, drizzle some warm water and stir while you’re flipping the wings over. 

Return the wings to the oven for 30 minutes. You can have other things like sweet potato pie and biscuits in the oven at the same time. This recipe is meant to truncate time otherwise dedicated to an entire turkey into faster cooking times and insurance that all the turkey will be consumed that day. No more of that turkey salad for 3 weeks!

This presentation is one of a series in which an entire turkey can be prepared within three hours during the day so that you don’t have to worry about cooking it all night. The other three videos will come around before Thanksgiving so that you can use them if need. 

Happy Holidays to you all! We won’t be spending all day in the kitchen. After all, we have football to watch!

You can now remove the flats from the oven – they should be gently browned on the skin side after about the time to make the gravy, which should have only taken you 15-20 minutes. Even better, there should be some drippings at the bottom of the pan – send that to the gravy to loosen it while steady whisking. 

At this point, since you have browned the wings, place them in the gravy skin-side up, and heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the wings in the gravy with skin side up for 35 minutes so that it turns a deeper golden brown. Remove the pan and flip the wings over for 30 minutes so that the fat from that side renders fully. If you’re worried that your gravy is too thick, drizzle some warm water and stir while you’re flipping the wings over. 

Return the wings to the oven for 30 minutes. You can have other things like sweet potato pie and biscuits in the oven at the same time. This recipe is meant to truncate time otherwise dedicated to an entire turkey into faster cooking times and insurance that all the turkey will be consumed that day. No more of that turkey salad for 3 weeks!

This presentation is one of a series in which an entire turkey can be prepared within three hours during the day so that you don’t have to worry about cooking it all night. The other three videos will come around before Thanksgiving so that you can use them if need. 

Happy Holidays to you all! We won’t be spending all day in the kitchen. After all, we have football to watch!

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My Brother May Truly Be A Devil…or, Fra Diavolo Alla Vodka

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As you saw in my post about the 3-day Bloody Mary, the deep red color of the peppery vodka infusion evokes thoughts of what the Devil himself may look like. Devilishly crimson almost. But definitely packing more punch than Fireball, just minus cinnamon…

So, between the peppery vodka and the tomato sauce that accompanies it, I found myself wondering: How can I incorporate something like that into a great recipe? And as luck would have it, I considered blending two of the greatest spicy dishes in any Italian cookbook: Fra Diavolo and Penne alla Vodka!

Now, if you don’t know, Penne alla Vodka as described by delish.com, is best described as “creamy and bright” (bright reads as spicy). Their dish recommends the use of tomato paste to keep the sauce nice and smooth.

So, in my post about the Bloody Mary, there is a recipe for tomato sauce that more than fits the spicy bill. That made a prime candidate for reduction into tomato paste. And naturally enough, we had some fire in the hole with the peppery infusion of the vodka. So I took the tomato juice and placed it in the stove at 250 degrees for about an hour for the paste. I reserved about 1/3 cup of the vodka for the cream sauce Alla Vodka…

Now, where I changed up this recipe was instead of the cloves of minced garlic, I used 2 teaspoons of the garlic paste from another of my previous posts (catch the video on YouTube for directions). I did so in an effort to maximize the silky texture of the sauce, as well as to further deepen the flavor.

Next, I reached for that most important of the Fra Diavolo sauce – the crushed tomatoes. Or, in this case, “my” crushed roasted version. I roughly diced 4 fresh Roma tomatoes, tossed them with a teaspoon each of dried basil and oregano, and a teaspoon of olive oil. I then whipped out the blowtorch and hit the mixture for 30 seconds. All I wanted was a touch of char to bring out the sweetness. The resultant gentle flare up reminded me of how much fun you can have with a blowtorch in the kitchen. Not enough to burn my eyebrows, hate to disappoint you…

Once I had the creamy part of the vodka sauce slightly bubbling, I then introduced the actual vodka a little at a time, to burn off the alcohol but to retain that level of heat – reminiscent of Dante’s descent into Hell. After bringing down the heat to a summer, I gently stirred in the roasted tomatoes and allowed the flavors to meld.

On the side, I had some penne prepped and ready, gently simmering in the water in which it had been cooked. I grabbed 1/4 cup of this water and stirred it into the sauce, which only thickened it enough to maintain its smooth texture. I could now stir in the (freshly) grated Parmiggiano Reggiano, that king of cheeses guaranteed to make any pasta dish sing.

The rest…fiery history.

NOTE: You can adjust the heat as desired by adding or subtracting the crushed red peppers as needed. I warn you, this dish is not for the faint of heart. The cream and the cheese serve as a balm to reduce the effects of the various elements of warmth – but only to a slight degree…

NOTE PART DEUX: Stay tuned for a very involved video presentation to be included on our YouTube channel!

Garlic Paste Video – YouTube

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The Best Three-Day Bloody Mary Ever!

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When you hear Bloody Mary, you think tomato juice – sometimes (unfortunately) you think V-8. Not that V-8 is bad, per se, it’s just not the thing you first think about when on your way to a bar. And it’s CERTAINLY another what you think about standing over a hot blazing BBQ pit when you need a good adult beverage.

So, let’s focus on how we can bring some heat. Let us begin with one of the main characters, the tomato juice. Now, we don’t want our tomato juice too thick, like spaghetti sauce…but we also don’t want it watery. So, we have to make our own tomato juice (hence, the three-day process). And we have to give it a little smoke, a little vegetable depth…all factors that we can control from the oven (or the grill, if you prefer to be adventurous, but that’s another discussion entirely…

And we cannot forget the other main character, the vodka. The vodka with its fresh clean taste provides a great counterpoint to the heat..even as it BECOMES the heat.

Let’s get to the 3-day process!

Day 3: Place 4-5 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes in a 2-quart Mason jar. Cover to the top of the jar with vodka. You don’t have to use the top-shelf stuff (but I will say, it always helps). Store the jar in a cool, dark corner of a cabinet. Every 3-4 hours, shake the jar in a circular motion until the pepper flakes at the bottom swirl to the top, almost like a tornado. Allow the flakes to settle at the bottom of the jar, as they will steep and release the capsaicin and color into the vodka. Conventional wisdom holds that the seeds in the flakes hold the most heat as part of the pepper, and you will agree as you sip!

Day 2: Today, the tomatoes turn into tomato juice – the exciting version. Take 2 pounds of heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes along with a pound of Roma tomatoes and quarter them all. Add 2 jalapeño peppers and 2 large yellow onions, and quarter those as well. Place the veggies on a solid sheet pan that has been wiped with a thin coat of oil that can withstand high heat. (My personal preference is avocado oil with its 500-degree smoke point) Roast them in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-6 minutes. The veggies should be softened and developing blisters from the heat. This means that liquid is issuing from the vegetables, and you will need it in its most intense reduced form.

Continue roasting until you see liquid pooling on the bottom of your pan. At this point you can remove the pan from the oven, and allow the vegetables to cool. Pour off the pooled liquid into a pitcher or other container and set aside. Once the veggies are cooled, run them – all of them – through a tomato press or food mill. You can even use a blender if that’s what you’re working with. Run the squeezings through at least twice to maximize all possible juice collection. You should have 3-4 cups of juice at this point.

DAY 1: The big day is here! It’s time to blend the flavors together!

In 3 well-chilled 16-ounce Mason jars (it’s a Carolina thing, I’ma make you understand) drop 6 squared blocks of ice – 2 in each jar. To each jar, add a cup of your reserved tomato juice. Then add a cup of your peppered/pepper red vodka. Garnish with celery sticks.

ENJOY!

NOTE: Mason jars are like shot glasses in North Carolina – every self-respecting bar (especially those that serve Pitmasters) must have them. They’re wonderful because:

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