Cuban Rueben

What does a guy do when he has a mess of pulled pork, a hankerin' for
a Cuban sandwich, but also loves a Rueben? He makes a Cuban Rueben!

A classic Cubano sandwich is roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, and mustard on Cuban bread. It is then press-grilled to gooey deliciousness. My version is adds a Rueben twist by replacing the pickles with sauerkraut. Since I don't have access to Cuban bread, I use a par-baked French baguette.

Cuban Rueben
Ingredients
1 Bake-at-home French baguette
3/4 cup Barbecued pulled pork (or roasted pork), warmed
1/2 cup Sauerkraut, drained very well
1/8 lb Deli ham, sliced to sandwich thickness
4 slices Swiss cheese, sliced to sandwich thickness
3 tsp Honey mustard
1 tsp Plain yellow mustard

Method
Put a pizza stone and a large cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 350*.

Mix both mustards in a small bowl.

Cut off 12" of the baguette and slice it lengthwise.

Smear each half of the bread with the mustard mixture.

Lay the cheese slices over the mustard on each half, fold it as needed so as to not overlap the edges of the bread.

Pile the pork on evenly on the bottom half of the bread.

Lay folded slices of ham on top of the pork.

Spread the sauerkraut evenly on the ham.

Put the bread top on, and press it down firmly.

Set the sandwich on the pizza stone and cover it with the skillet turned upside-down (to form a dome).

Bake 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, slice in half and serve.

Enjoy!

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Hot & Fast Kosmo Pork Butts

The other day I did a test butt cook with Kosmo's pork injection. I loved the beef formula, so I was sure this would be equally good.

Here is a quick play-by-play of the cook.

I mixed 3/4 cup mix to 3 cups of apricot nectar and injected them evenly. I then applied a liberal coat of my competition rub and let them marinate for two hours.

They went on the Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS) at 350º.

Hot & Fast Kosmo Pork Butts

Two hours into the cook and the two smaller (top) butts (just shy of 7 lbs each) were at 122º and 124º.

The UDS vents were wide open and running at about an average of 315º, but I use a water pan, so a lower temp at the grates is expected.

The water was almost gone, so the temp ramps up from here, just like I want it to.

Hot & Fast Kosmo Pork Butts

Three hours in, and I checked the temp on the larger butt on the lower rack (about 8 lbs). As you can see, it was at 138.6.

The two smaller butts on the top rack were at 154º.

Hot & Fast Kosmo Pork Butts

At 4 1/2 hours in the smaller butts were at 181º. It was time to wrap these bad boys with some apple juice!

I double-wrapped the smaller guys with about 1/4 cup of apple juice each, and I put them back on the top rack.

The larger butt (lower rack) was at 168º so I left it there.

Hot & Fast Kosmo Pork Butts

Note that there really isn't much of a stall/plateau when cooking hot-n-fast. The meat just powers right through it.

At 5 hours and 45 minutes the smaller butts were done (at 197º). The photo at the top of the post shows the finished product.

I must say that I am very impressed with Kosmo's injection. The moisture and flavor were outstanding. It really boosted the pork taste without even so much as a hint of an off flavor.

I highly recommend it!

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BBQ Central Radio

Tonight I was a guest on Greg Rempe's BBQ Central Radio program. I gave a recap of my review of the much-ballyhooed Kiwi knives and talked about my
Big Bold Barbecued Beef Short Ribs
recipe.

Myron Mixon of TLC BBQ Pitmasters fame was also featured in this episode of the program. Greg talks to Myron about his approach to the show and some competition BBQ topics.

If you've never heard the program, I highly recommend that you peruse the podcast archives and hear what you've been missing. Greg offers the only weekly show of its kind. It is truly the best-produced live-fire cooking show available. Tune in each Tuesday and hear the show live at 9PM ET on The Barbecue Central Radio Networks.

Note: The show is also available on iTunes. Just search for "The BBQ Central Show on LA Talk Radio" (without the quotes). You can also listen to last night's show here when it becomes available.

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Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli
Beef, mushrooms and cheese are a great combination. This stromboli builds on these basic flavors with sauteed portabellas, bourbon-caramelized onions, smoked black pepper white cheddar, broccoli, and a little garlic.

I know that it might seem like a lot of work, but it's really not as complicated as it appears. I assure you that it's well worth the effort.

Ingredients
1 batch Pizza dough, enough for a large pizza
1/4 lb Deli roast beef, sliced to sandwich thickness
4 oz Tillamook Smoked Black Pepper white cheddar cheese, grated (about a cup)
1 cup Frozed chopped broccoli
1/2 cup Pizza sauce
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 med Yellow onion, sliced to 1/4"
2 med Portabella mushrooms, sliced to 1/4"
2 cloves Garlic, minced
4 Tbsp Olive oil
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 Egg white, lightly wisked with 1 teaspoon water

Method
Heat half of the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.

Add the onions to the pan, season with one teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and just caramelized.

Add the bourbon and garlic to the pan, and continue cooking until all of the liquid is evaporated.

Remove the onion mixture to a plate and let cool.

Return the pan to the heat, add the remaining oil, let heat for about 30 seconds, and add the portabellas.

Season the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook until they are just tender.

Remove the mushrooms to a plate and let cool.

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Microwave the broccoli in a small bowl until it is thawed and barely hot, then set aside.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Flour your rolling surface and all sides of the dough.

Roll the dough into a rectangle about 16 inches long, 12 inches wide and about 1/8" thick.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Spread the sauce evenly over the dough, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch margin around the edges.

Lay the slices of beef on the sauce, overlapping as needed.

Distribute the onion mixture evenly over the meat.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Lay the mushroom slices evenly over the onions.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Distribute the cheese and broccoli evenly over the mushrooms.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Fold one long edge of the dough over so that it covers the filling by about half.

Brush the top of the folded edge completely with the egg wash.

Fold the other long edge of the dough over so that it almost overlaps the first folded edge by about half.

Brush the top of each short edge liberally with egg wash.

Fold each short edge over to seal the ends.

Gently move the stromboli to a sheet pan with the seam down.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Cut several two-inch slashes diagonally in the top of the dough.

Brush the top with the remaining egg wash.

Bake on the center rack until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest about ten minutes.

Beef Cheddar & Portabella Stromboli

Slice and serve with a nice salad.

Enjoy!

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BBQ Pitmasters on TLC





I'm clearly late in getting this posted, but I suppose it's better late than never. The previous episode found our qualified competitors in the champions-only field at the first of two events that make up "the World Series of Barbecue" -- The American Royal. This episode featured the "open" event at the same venue.

This event is called "the open" because anyone who wants to enter can go up against the other nearly 500 teams. This is clearly the largest barbecue competition in the world. I've never been to the Royal, but I have seen a lot of pictures, and the sheer scale of the event is a spectacle in and of itself.

Throughout the series we've seen the teams deal with various forms of adversity, and this episode added yet another. Because the open is, well, open, it lends itself to large parties and rowdy crowds. Imagine a huge MTV spring break party with meat and smoke. In the midst of all that, the teams who are there to seriously compete have to keep their eyes on the ball and take care of business. Harry Soo struggled a little with crowd and sleep management in the midst of all the craziness.

Also in this episode, the hapless Pablo Diablo, Paul Petersen, gets to put his newly-acquired Johnny Trigg skills to the test. Johnny was obviously concerned with how this would play out; so much so that he used fellow competitor, Jamie Geer, to keep an eye on Paul. In true chef style, Paul just couldn't resist the urge to tweak things.

The stress of being on the road in a string of competitions becomes clear in the demeanor of Lee Ann Whippen. Things were more than a little stressed between her and her boyfriend/teammate. In the end there is an ironic twist that helped him redeem himself, at least in my eyes.

Myron showed a little of what might be described as his "softer side". He was set-up next to a the Holla-N-Swalla team who used the opportunity to humbly ask for his advice. I really enjoyed this fresh aspect of the show. It was really nice to see a bunch of relative new guys do well.

I rescind my comment in my last review that episode 4 was the best. This is the new best episode. I hope the shows continue to improve, because the trend is great so far.

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Hungarian Braised Short Ribs
Many of us probably think of "goulash" as a dinner from our childhood. It's typically elbow macaroni mixed with ground beef and some form of tomato sauce. Well, as fond as I was of my mother's goulash, it is far from the traditional Hungarian dish. True goulash is essentially a thick stew made by braising meat (usually beef) with onions, paprika and water. This is the inspiration for this dish, thus the "Hungarian" in the name.

These are beef short ribs, browned, coated with sweet Hungarian paprika then braised long and slow in beef stock with shallots, red wine, and a little tomato for a subtle sweetness and added body. What emerges is tender and unctuous beef in a rich velvety sauce. I served them over egg noodles.

Note: It's critical that you use real paprika. If yours is more than three months old, buy new. Either the Hungarian or Spanish variety will work well. You could even add a dash of smoked paprika as an interesting twist, but go easy with it.

Ingredients
10 Beef short ribs (about 5 pounds -- meaty and generally uniform in size)
1 can (10.75 oz) Tomato puree
2 large Shallots, diced
3 1/4 cups (26 oz) Beef stock
1 cup Water
1/2 cup Red wine (slightly sweet -- I used Snap Dragon red table wine)
6 Tbsp Sweet paprika (the real deal)
3 Tbsp Canola oil
2 Tbsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp Tomato paste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire pepper (or plain black pepper -- see the note below)
1 tsp Dry thyme
2 Bay leaves

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Method
Preheat your oven to 325º.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Put the ribs on a sheet pan and season all sides liberally with the salt and pepper.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half of the ribs to the pot and brown them nicely on all sides (2-4 minutes per side). Move the browned ribs to a sheet pan and repeat with the remainder.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Add the wine to the empty pot and stir to deglaze the brown bits on the bottom. Add the stock, water, shallots, tomato puree, thyme and bay leaves. Bring the liquid to a simmer.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

While the liquid is coming to a simmer, coat all sides of the ribs with the paprika and smear it around to form a paste-like coating.

Note: If you can't find the Worcestershire pepper, just coat the ribs with a little Worcestershire sauce before adding the paprika.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Add the ribs to the liquid and arrange them so that they are in a single layer. Cover, move to the oven, and cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Remove from the oven to the stove top at medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir the liquid gently to dissolve and distribute it.

Hungarian Braised Short Ribs

Cook, uncovered until the meat is fork tender. Serve the ribs and sauce over egg noodles.

Enjoy!

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Kiwi Knives
I'm a self-admitted knife freak. I love the smell of sharp steel in the morning. My usual blades are Japanese Global knives. They are brutally sharp, feel great in your hand, are solid stainless steel, and hold an edge very well.

Kiwi Knives

Recently I've read quite a few reviews that sing the praises of Kiwi knives. Last week I read this review, and it prompted me to see what all the hype is about. I ordered the 11" blunt "meat knife" and the paring knife from The Wok Shop. Including shipping, they cost me $10.90. Yes, you read that correctly. They were $3.95 and $1.95, respectively, plus shipping. I ordered them Tuesday afternoon and they were at my door Friday, so I give kudos to The Wok Shop for their prompt service.

Having read about the incredible sharpness of these knives, I was more than a little curious when I tore open the box. Now, for just shy of $11 to my door, I was not expecting all that much. Man, these things take "scary sharp" to a whole new level. They are like razor blades with handles -- seriously. You hear about "knives you can shave with", well, these things should have "Gillette" stamped on them. I'm not intimidated by knives, but these made me pay very close attention to what I was doing.

As for the quality, I will say that, along with the sharpness, I was surprised at how thin and flexible the blades are. Most knives have a taper from the tip to the heel. Well, these are clearly stamped out of a flat sheet of stainless steel, so there is no taper, which brings me back to my comment about them being like razor blades with a handle. They are very light and feel comfortable in my hand.

I put the knives through some trials this weekend and I am very pleased so far. Of course, one weekend of cooking is clearly not nearly enough of a workout to gauge the overall quality and usefulness of anything in the kitchen. I will continue to use them and report back in a few months with my final verdict.

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BBQ Pitmasters on TLC





After a couple of weeks of re-runs, the series is back with a new episode, and back with a vengence. This time out we're taken to the World Series of Barbecue -- The American Royal Invitational in Kansas City, Missouri.

For those unfamiliar, "The Royal" is the most competitive contest on the circuit. Well, it's actually two contests. The invitational is held first. It's an invitational because only those who have won a state championship are invited. This means that every team there (124 in 2009) are champions. The second contest is "The Open" where anyone who can pony up the entry fee and make it there can compete. We'll see the open next week.


There are two aspects of this episode that make it stand out to me as a fellow competitor. First, Johnny Trigg exemplified what the true spirit of competitive barbecue is really about. He took Paul Petersen under his wing for some one-on-one instruction. This is what the vast majority of we competitors do behind the scenes on an almost daily basis -- help others get better. It's something that I'd venture to say rarely, if ever, happens in other competitive ventures. We take joy in "giving back" and helping the new guys be competitive.

This spirit of sportsmanship and willingness to help was shown in sharp contrast to our familiar "Man In Black", who took the opportunity (actually two) to slam Chris Lilly and his considerable accomplishments in competition. He paints Chris as a has-been who is riding on old victories. To Chris' great credit, he was the consummate gentleman and stayed on the high road.

The second thing that stood out was how Tuffy masterfully dealt with a couple of mistakes. I think he made a great point in saying that (paraphrasing) sometimes the difference in the outcome is how one deals with adversity. This will certainly ring true with anyone who has had something go south on them in the heat of the competition. It reminded me very much of the time last season when my chicken slid off the grate and plummeted into my fire about an hour before turn-ins. You just fix it as best you can and hope for the best.

I feel this episode was the best so far in showing what really happens in competition. There are some tremendous pointers given for those who pay close attention and heed Johnny's advice to take good notes.

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Broiled Tex-Mex Steak
Don't fear the broiler! I would venture to guess that the broiler is probably the most underutilized thing in the kitchen. Broiler, you say? Yes, you know, that setting on your oven that is rarely, if ever used. Oh, and that funny looking pan, the one with all the slots in it, that came with your range? Yeah, that's a broiler pan.

Being a "barbecue guy", I do most of my steaks outdoors, all year 'round. However, I am as susceptible to laziness as the next red-blooded American. Just because you'd rather not deal with all of the outdoor cooking festivities doesn't mean that you can't enjoy a good steak.

This weekend I had just such an experience. I had a hankerin' for fajitas, but I really didn't feel like dealing with the fireworks. Blasphemy? Maybe, but the situation was what it was. Here's my remedy for just such a situation.

Note: This recipe calls for a cast iron grill griddle, but a standard broiler pan will certainly suffice.

Ingredients
1 Flat iron (chuck top blade) steak, about one pound
1 Tbsp Kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp Gebhardt's Chili Powder (available at many grocery stores)
1/4 tsp Granulated garlic (not powder)
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/4 tsp Ancho chile powder

Method
Combine all of the seasonings in a small bowl and mix well.

Season both sides of the steak evenly with the seasoning mixture.

Put the steak in a zip-top bag and let marinate in the refrigerator at least four hours, or overnight.

Remove the steak from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Wipe your cast iron grill griddle or broiler pan lightly with canola oil.

Move your oven rack so that it is about four inches from the broiler element (top of your oven).

Put the griddle/pan on the rack and preheat your oven to 550* for about 20 minutes.

Turn the oven to broil.

Broil the steak on the griddle/pan for five minutes.

Flip the steak over and broil another five minutes.

Note: These cooking times are approximate for a medium-rare steak, so adjust accordingly.

Remove the steak to a plate, tent with foil and let it rest about five minutes.

Slice across the grain about 1/4" thick, serve and enjoy.

Broiled Tex-Mex Steak

Tip: Since I was making fajitas I used the hot griddle to broil the veggies. I sliced peppers and onions to about 1/4" and steamed them in a zip-top bag in the microwave for about three minutes while the steak was cooking. When I pulled the steak I dumped the veggies on the griddle and broiled them while the steak was resting.

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New Year Stew
Ringing in the new year calls for blackeyed peas, greens and pork. Oh, and that means that we must include cornbread on the side. This might just be a new tradition here at Daddio's house.

I call it a stew, but it's more like a really thick soup, or I suppose you could even call it a form of chili. No matter what you call it, I call it good and the family concurred. It's one of those simple hearty comfort foods that fills the house with airborne deliciousness even before you eat it.

Ingredients
2 bunches Collard greens, washed, stemmed, and rough chopped
2 Smoked ham hocks
1 lb Cooked ham, diced to about 1/2"
7 cups Water
3 cans (15 oz) Blackeyed peas, rinsed
1 can (14 oz) Chicken broth, low sodium
2 stalks Celery, washed and sliced to 1/4"
1 med Onion, diced
1/3 cup Sweet Marsala wine
1 1/2 Tbsp Garlic salt
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Black pepper, coarse ground
2 tsp Creole seasoning (I used Spice Hunter "Cajun Creole Seasoning")

Method
Put the water, garlic salt, Creole seasoning, pepper, collard greens and ham hocks in a large heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring just to a boil.

New Year Stew

Cover, reduce the heat to medium low and cook one hour, stirring occasionally.

New Year Stew

Add all of the remaining ingredients, except the blackeyed peas.

New Year Stew

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring back to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for 20 minutes.

Uncover, increase the heat to medium, and add the blackeyed peas.

New Year Stew

Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes to allow the broth to reduce and thicken.

New Year Stew

Turn off the heat and let stand 10 minutes.

Serve with cornbread and enjoy!

Afterthought: If I had to do over again, I would have first sauteed the onion and celery in a little olive oil or butter before adding the greens, water, hocks and seasoning at the start of the cook. I think it would add more depth of flavor.

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