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Friday, February 25, 2011

Yankee Ribs (smoked)

Tonight was my first experience with smoking meats outdoors.

I used the ultimate turkey roaster, a special dutch oven meant for roasting turkey.

It can also be used for smoking meats.

The instruction manual includes four additional recipes; one is for yankee ribs, which is what I made tonight.

Season beef back ribs with steak seasoning.

Put 1/2 cup of smoking chips in the bottom of the roaster*, then put the rack on top of the chips, then the ribs on top of the rack.

*I was told, after the fact, that it's best to soak the wood chips in water for a couple of hours before you smoke with them; As I'd never smoked before, I didn't know that, and the instruction manual didn't say to. Oh well.

Put the roaster on medium heat and leave the lid open a crack until it starts to smoke. Then put the lid completely on.

The recipe states that you can cook on low heat for 2 hours, or medium heat for 45 minutes.

I checked the ribs after 30 mins on medium heat, and they were done.

Keep in mind that since this pot has a convection cone, cooking times are faster. You could do the same thing in a regular cast iron pot, but it will take longer.

Coat the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce and eat.

Honestly, I preferred the ribs I cooked three weeks ago.

These were OK, but I'm not a big fan of smoked meat. I prefer grilled or roasted, although I did want to try this recipe.

So at this point, I've used this pot to roast turkey outdoors and indoors, for ultimate veggies, and for smoked ribs.

The turkey, both times, was OK, although I prefer it fried or roasted in the oven.

The veggies were also good, but could have just as easily been done in a smaller pot.

This pot could be very useful as a smoker; I'm just not a fan of smoked meat.

I intend to try the recipes for cornish hen and ultimate roast soon.

After that, I don't know when or if I will ever use this pot again, although I don't regret buying it and learning about it.

I may sell it on craigs list. I'm torn, since it's discontinued and hard to find, yet it's also large, cumbersome, and a pain to clean.

But now I also have the ultimate dutch oven, which also has a convection cone, but is smaller, and includes a top rack as well as a bottom.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

The can cooker challenge continues - tamales

Tonight's can cooker recipe was very simple: Tamales steamed in beer.

Yes, that's it! It doesn't tell you how to make the tamales themselves; You buy them premade from the store for this recipe.

I used the Lodge 7 quart pot, and a bread cooling rack for the steaming rack.

Pour 2 cans of beer in the bottom of the pot, and place the 12 tamales on the rack.

Set heat to medium high, then reduce to medium when you see steam.

Steam for about 30 minutes.

The beer gave it a nice flavor!

Friday, February 18, 2011

How many pounds of beef in a loaf pan?

Another search term that led to this blog was, how many pounds of beef can fit in a Lodge cast iron loaf pan?

When I make meatloaf, I use approximately a pound and a half of ground beef.

So I would say, up to two pounds, depending on what you're making.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can I leave soup in cast iron overnight?

One cool feature about this blog, is the ability to see what search terms have led readers to it.

Someone apparently wanted to know if they can leave soup in cast iron overnight.

To answer that question, I personally would not, since cast iron rusts.

It can stay in the pot while dinner is being served, but I always transfer what's left into a plastic container, for overnight storage.

Hope that helps!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

ultimate veggies

The makers of the ultimate turkey roaster figured you'd want to use it for more than just roasting turkey.

So the instruction manual included four additional recipes.

I would have liked more, but anyway.

One of those recipes is called "ultimate veggies".

This seems like an awfully big pot to cook what I consider a side dish, but I finally tried it.

This recipe was modified from the manual:

You need red potatoes, baby carrots, yellow onions quartered, whole mushrooms, grated cheese, 1 cup sour cream, 1 can cream of mushroom soup*, 1/2 stick butter, seasoned salt, and worcestershire sauce.

*I would have preferred cream of chicken soup, I think.

The original recipe called for white potatoes as well, and no worcestershire sauce.

It didn't call for whole garlic cloves, but I should have added those too.

Pour 1 cup of water at the bottom for steaming; I dissolved a spoonful of "better than bouillon" chicken flavor in the water.

Quarter the potatoes and add them first. Then the baby carrots, then the quartered onions, and the mushrooms. Mix 1/2 stick butter with the can of soup and sour cream*, and pour over the top.

*I should have diluted the soup with some milk. I didn't, and it had too much "bite".

Wait until it's almost done before you add the grated cheese.

I let it steam on the stovetop for 1/2 hour, checked for doneness, let it go a little more. When the carrots were soft, I added the grated cheese and let it go 10 more mins to let it melt.

Then added seasoned salt* and worcestershire sauce for flavor.

*The recipe called for a special camp chef seasoning, but "season all" seasoned salt worked just fine.

Because this pot cooks by steaming, the cheese didn't melt the way I like. The cheese would have been better melted under a broiler.

This recipe could have just as easily been done in a regular cast iron pot in the oven, although maybe not as fast, since the convection cone speeds up cooking.

The other recipes, besides turkey, are for smoked ribs, cornish hen, and ultimate roast. Eventually I'll try those too.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

roasting turkey on the stovetop? no way!

I never dreamed it was even possible to roast turkey on the stovetop.

But the ultimate turkey roaster is meant to be used on a propane burner, which is essentially a stove. So why not the stovetop?

Before I go any further, let me say that this was NOT my preferred method of cooking turkey, and I probably won't do it again. But, it is indeed possible.

This should not be done in just any pot; The ultimate turkey roaster is specially designed for turkey.

It has a convection cone in the center, to allow for air circulation.

First I preheated the lid in the oven at 250.

Preheating the lid is absolutely essential, or it will be undercooked; I probably should have preheated it at 350.

I seasoned the turkey by melting a stick of butter in the microwave, then adding sage, seasoned salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and "better than bouillon" chicken base to the melted butter. Then stirred, and poured on the turkey.

Then I heated up the bottom part on the stove, and placed the turkey on the cone. Put the meat thermometer into the side, and then the preheated lid on top.

There's a small opening in the side, so you can have the meat thermometer readily visible, as you can see in the picture.

30 minutes into cooking, I added a 1/2 cup of water to the bottom to prevent scorching, per the instructions. Don't add too much liquid, because the result will be "steamed" turkey instead of roasted*.

*Once I tried it, it still tasted like "steamed" turkey instead of roasted. Dry heat in the oven is really the way to go.

It took about an hour and a half for the thermometer to reach 170.

When I removed the turkey and started carving, I noticed there was a hint of pink, so just to be sure, I put it uncovered in the oven at 300 for about 20 minutes. This helped to crisp the skin a little.

The turkey turned out pretty good, but I can't say that I care for this method of preparation.

I've tried several different methods to see which one I like best, and so far, the oven bag in a large cast iron skillet is in the lead.

Next time I will try "breast side down."




Italian venison feast, that wasn't venison

This was my 3rd can cooker website recipe, modified.

The recipe was called "Italian Venison Feast", but I didn't have any venison, so I used beef brisket.

My one mistake was putting too much stuff in the pot; The liquid bubbled up and spilled over the side of the pot. Don't make the pot too full!

I used my 9 quart pot.

The ingredients were: Brisket cut into cubes, cut up red potatoes, baby carrots, quartered onions, minced garlic*, half ears of corn, a bottle of Italian dressing**, a can of beef broth, seasoned salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder.

*whole garlic cloves would have been fine too.

**I should have used less than a full bottle. It would have been just as flavorful, believe me.

The original recipe called for celery but I left that out. I prefer beef stew (which is basically what this is) without celery.

Marinate the meat overnight in some of the italian dressing.

Put the everything into pot, on the stove on medium heat.

I reduced to low when the liquid spilled over, but it still spilled over. The pot had too much stuff in it*.

*That's why I should have used less than a full bottle of dressing.

In this case, I can see how the "vented locking lid" of the can cooker would have been an advantage. I didn't have the spillover issue before. It still cooked good though.

At some point I added a couple of spoonfuls of "better than bouillon" beef base and let it dissolve.

The italian dressing gave it a wonderful flavor.

This was my first time using brisket in stew, and I was impressed. I usually get a roast and cut it up; I'll definitely be using brisket from now on.

It was even better the second day, since the liquid thickened in the fridge overnight.

It would have been good with added mushrooms.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The can cooker challenge, part 2

My last post was about the can cooker; I am trying out their website's recipes, to prove that anything you can cook in a can cooker, you can cook in a cast iron pot.

This is a modified version of their ribs recipe, cooked in my 9 quart pot:

Full rack of ribs, pork or beef - I used beef back ribs.

Add Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, one quartered onion, minced garlic*, and 2 cans of beer.

*minced garlic, or whole garlic cloves.

Let the ribs steam in the beer for about an hour. Remove, place on a cast iron pizza pan, add your favorite BBQ sauce. I used KC masterpiece.

Place under the broiler until done.

The ribs were awesome. As with the seafood dish, I don't know if they would have been better done in the can cooker, but probably not; the cast iron pot worked wonderfully.

As for the can cooker's featured vented locking lid, which lets steam escape: With the cast iron pot, the steam escapes through the side of the lid.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the can cooker

This is a can cooker.

It's literally a 16 quart aluminum can, than can be used to cook food on the stove or outdoors.

It's very easy to use; You put your food in the can, put it on the stove or BBQ grill, and it cooks.

Which sounds to me, exactly like what you would do with a cast iron pot.

Food is cooked in the can cooker by steaming; You add a sufficient amount of liquid along with your food, to make a steamed one-pot meal.

I had a theory, that anything you can cook in a can cooker, you can cook in a cast iron pot.

I wondered if there was any "secret" to this can cooker; Does the shape of the can make a difference in how the food turns out? What about the vented locking lid?

I would soon find out, when I tried a modified version of the first recipe on the website.

I put the following in my 9 quart pot, on my indoor stove:

1 lb shrimp, 1 lb scallops, fresh broccoli, 8 half ears of corn, a quartered onion, some minced garlic*, fresh basil, dried basil, seasoned salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, 1 can beer, 12 oz white wine, 2 squeezed lemons.**

*fresh garlic cloves would have been fine too.

**leave the lemons in the pot while cooking, and remove when done.

The original recipe also called for crab legs and lobster tails; I omitted those to save money.

I let it cook on medium heat for 30 mins, then reduced to low until it was done.

It didn't take long, maybe an hour.

It was delicious. I don't believe there's any secret magic to the can cooker, that would have made it that much better; The cast iron pot did a fine job.

It could have used a little less liquid, but that's just a learning curve.

More recipes to come.