J’s Smoked Pork


In addition to the smoked turkey recipe, J has perfected his smoked pork butt for delicious BBQ sandwiches. It’s worth the extra time it takes to smoke this dish.

Ingredients:
Pork Butt
Salt Lick Dry Rub (again, you can use your favorite dry seasoning rub)
mesquite wood

Directions:
Liberally pat the pork with Salt Lick dry seasoning rub, cover and refrigerate overnight. Start grill, let coals get good and gray, until grill temperature reaches  about 250 degrees. Add mesquite wood to top of coals. Place pork on grill for about 12 (yes, really 12) hours or until the internal temperature reaches 200 degrees. Check the coals every 30-40 minutes, adding a handful of coals and a chunk of mesquite each time to keep the grill temp around the 250 mark. Note, the pork will seem to sit at about 175 degrees for a LONG time. This is expected and is when the fat cap (the whole reason you chose this cut over say a pork loin!) breaks down and the collagen in the meat breaks down. It’s important to let this process just happen, so fight the urge to turn up the heat to accelerate the process (it will dry it out). Just go grab a beer, or turn on a sporting event or the xBox and kill more time. Check the coals every 30-40 minutes, adding a handful of coals and a chunk of mesquite each time. Every other time, I recommend basting the butt with a mop sauce. J just used the Eastern Carolina-style sauce he made that day (recipe to come!). After it’s done cooking, let cool for about 30 minutes.

The bone should come out easily and the meat should easily shred with regular forks.
My Opinion:
This is worth the 12 hour wait. By the time you’ve smelled this cooking all day, you’ll be dying to eat it. Enjoy!

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J’s Smoked Turkey Breast

With the unseasonably warm spring, we’ve not only broken out the grill, but the smoker as well. J is perfectly happy to get up early on a Saturday morning and spend all day monitoring the grill.

Ingredients:
turkey breast (we used boneless, skinless)
Salt Lick Dry Rub (or your favorite dry seasoning rub, we’re pretty partial to Salt Lick though)
mesquite wood

Directions:
Liberally pat the turkey breast with Salt Lick dry seasoning rub, cover and refrigerate overnight. Start grill, let coals get good and gray, until grill temperature reaches  about 250 degrees. Add mesquite wood to top of coals. Place turkey on grill for about six hours. Check the coals every 30-40 minutes, adding a handful of coals and a chunk of mesquite each time to keep the grill temp around the 250 mark. Be sure to let it sit for about 30 minutes before carving so it stays moist.

My opinion:
I love smoked turkey. It’s one of my most favorite ways to eat turkey breast. With J’s recipe, the smoke ring is really thick (the pink part in the picture) and the crust is spicy. The turkey is fantastic alone, but equally good in sandwich form or with your favorite BBQ sauce. Yum!

Chicken and Zucchini Bow Tie Pasta


The zucchini at the Farmer’s Market is HUGE. So much that we needed a dish where this was the main component. Luckily, we found this Rachel Ray dish from her 365 No Repeats. With a few modifications, it was super easy to make, filling and a nice end of summer dish.

Ingredients:
1 pound bow-tie pasta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons for the chicken.
6 garlic cloves, minced (we used more)
2 medium zucchini, diced (we used one HUGE zucchini instead)
Coarse black pepper
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (we omitted this)
1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or shredded, about 20 leaves (we used dried and added a few more Italian seasonings, like fresh oregano)
2 chicken breasts, diced

Directions:
Bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta. While waiting for the water to boil, cook the chicken breasts in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to medium low. Add the rest of the olive oil and the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and additional seasonings. Drain the pasta and add to the zucchini, reserving about a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the cooking water. Turn heat to low. Toss for 2 minutes, until the liquids are absorbed.

My opinion:
Next time we’ll add more garlic and some red pepper flakes. Maybe a few more vegetables. Good additions would include broccoli, onion, peas, and more.

National Running Day

"There are clubs you can’t belong to, neighborhoods you can’t live in, schools you can’t get into, but the roads are always open. Just do it."

Editor’s note: In addition to my awesome job, cooking and career advising, I run. A lot. I’ve run a marathon and two half marathons and am training for my third. This year, despite a nagging knee injury, I’ve run 68 miles. Today’s post honors National Running day.

I started running in middle school. In high school, I choose to join the cross-country team and the track team because my best friend did. I was not a talented or natural runner. I had to work at it. By my senior year of high school, I’d run a sub 21 minute 5k and was co-captain of the cross-country team. That’s where I thought my running career ended.

Unlike the other athletes I ran with, I knew I was not going to get a college scholarship to run. I was never going to be a sponsored runner and make a career out of my chosen sport. And that was ok.

Like other former high school athletes, I continued running road races and fell into Team and Training. That’s when I ran my first marathon.

No matter where I lived or what my job was, running was always there. A trail run with friends at the end of a hard day at work made everything better. A solitary road run reminded me of the thousands of miles I’ve run over the years.

I’m extremely lucky. I still love running and am always looking for new ways to challenge myself. Run 500 miles in a year, sure! Join a semi-elite team of runners, why not? When a friend told me about the Missouri Beef Council’s running team, I didn’t think I’d qualify. At the time an 11 minute mile was my top and I’ll never win my age group at road races. But they took me. They wanted a wide array of runners of varying abilities.

I’m now a sponsored runner and couldn’t be prouder.