Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grilled Cap of Ribeye with Gyu Dare/Ponzu Style Dipping Sauce

The amazingly succulent and tender taste of cap of ribeye is hard for me to describe, so I defer to the description from Snake River Farms where I bought this beautiful piece of steak for our 9/23/16 camping trip at Jumbo Rocks, Joshua Tree National Park 

"This rare cut is considered to be the single most delectable and flavorful steak available. Also known as the ribeye cap, deckle steak, calotte or spinalis dorsi, it is highly prized by top chefs, beef aficionados, and butchers alike. Surprisingly, a cut this spectacular is not universally known by its name, however anyone who has cut that small morsel of cap from a ribeye has realized there’s something special going on. If you look at a ribeye steak, you’ll see the large eye of meat that’s the center of the cut. Surrounding this center is the spinalis dorsi, or cap of ribeye. We carefully remove this from the entire ribeye roll to produce a beautiful cut that has the tenderness of a filet mignon, the rich marbling of a rib steak, and a mouthwatering flavor and texture all its own. The cap of ribeye is hard to find and is only available in limited quantities."

After rubbing the meat lightly with olive oil on all sides, I seasoned it with just salt and pepper. Once the meat was grilled to medium rare, we served it with a simple ponzu-style dipping sauce. Doesn't get better than that.

 Perfectly medium rare cap of ribeye, fresh off the campfire grill

1 1/2 lbs. cap of ribeye
1-2 tbsp. Olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

Gyu Dare/Ponzu-Style Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake
1/2 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 to 1 cup water
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated (1 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. white toasted sesame seeds
3 scallions, minced

1. Combine all the dipping sauce ingredients together in a bowl or Ziploc container; cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Rub the ribeye cap on both sides with 1-2 tbsp. olive oil (just enough to lightly coat).

3. Sprinkle both sides of the ribeye cap with salt and pepper.

4. Prep your grill (charcoal briquets or wood chunks should be burned down until they are mostly white hot). 

5. Oil the grill grate, if needed (fold a couple paper towels together into a 3" x 3" square, dip into vegetable oil, and brush over the grates with tongs).

6. Place the seasoned ribeye cap on the grill.

7. Cook through to medium rare, turning the ribeye once during the grilling process.

8. Remove the ribeye to a platter or chopping board and let rest 5 minutes.  Cut the ribeye cap into 2-3 portions and plate.

9. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

 A 12-lb. boneless cap of ribeye from Snake River Farms

Remove the ribeye from its plastic wrap. Place on a try and season lightly on both sides with kosher salt and black pepper

Grill until medium rare

Let the ribeye rest for 5 minutes off the grill, then cut into 2 or 3 portions.

Plate and serve with the ponzu-style dipping sauce on the side.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Smoked Pulled Pork with Eastern North Carolina-Style Vinegar Sauce and Cole Slaw

In my previous post I kinda raved about our success in making smoked beef brisket using our new CharBroil electric smoker, but our first use of the CharBroil smoker was actually in making this Carolina-style pulled pork. For this recipe, smoking a spice-rubbed bone-in pork butt low and slow at 225F for about 10-12 hours was the way to go. And, of course, a North Carolina-style vinegar sauce and cole slaw were also requisite. After perusing a ton of recipes for the rub, vinegar sauce, and cole slaw in my cookbooks and online, these are my versions. Also, per the suggestion of a number of online posters, Gil decided to inject the pork with a bottle of Angry Orchard hard cider before smoking to keep it moist. Another suggestion from CharBroil's website for keeping the meat moist is to brine it for 8-12 hours before smoking. We'll try that next time and I'll report the results then. 

7-8 lb. pork butt or shoulder (bone-in)
1 bottle of Angry Orchard or other brand of hard cider
4 cups hickory or cherry wood chips

Hawaiian buns, brioche buns, your fav hamburger buns, or my fav Oro Wheat Crustini Sandwich buns

1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. black pepper
2 tbsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. celery seed
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Eastern North Carolina-Style Vinegar Sauce:
2 cups cider vinegar
3 tbsp. ketchup
4 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. Crystal or Tabasco hot sauce
2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. honey

Cole Slaw:
2 cups of pre-shredded cole slaw mix
4 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 tbsp. of the Eastern North Carolina-Style Vinegar Sauce
1 tsp. dried mustard
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. sugar

1. Combine the ingredients for the spice rub together in a small bowl or container and set aside.

2. Combine the ingredients together for the Vinegar Sauce in a bowl or container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

3. Toss all the cole slaw ingredients together in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Soak the wood chips in water for 15-30 minutes. 

5. Put the wood chips in the metal wood chip container, cover, and slide into it's slot in the lower right hand corner of the CharBroil smoker (or follow directions on placement if you have a different brand of electric smoker). 

6. Fill the metal water container with water up to the fill line and place into the lower left hand corner of the CharBroil smoker (or follow directions on placement if you have a different brand of electric smoker). 

7. Insert the meat thermometer inside of the smoker (upper left in the CharBroil); Preheat the smoker to 225F (this may take up to 45 minutes).

4. Trim any excess fat but leaving some of the fat cap on the pork butt. Inject the hard apple cider throughout the pork butt. Blot the pork butt dry with paper towels.

5. Rub the entire pork butt generously with the spice rub; place a large drip pan on the lower rack of the smoker and then place the pork butt onto the upper rack. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the pork butt; close the smoker and set internal temperature for 190F. 

6. Pork should be done in 10-12 hours (goal is to get to an internal temp of 190F - the smoker will let you know when that happens by beeping and/or alerting you via smart phone app). 

7. Remove the pork (use silicone oven gloves to do this if you have them) from the smoker, cover with foil, and let rest for one hour. 

8. Use meat claws or your gloved hands to pull the pork apart and shred. Place the shredded meat onto a large cutting board and chop coarsely with a cleaver. 

9. Place the chopped meat into a large baking dish/casserole; ladle on about 1/3 to 1/2 of the vinegar sauce, tasting as you go, until the pork is just seasoned through (don't over dress). Pour the remaining vinegar sauce into a squeeze bottle and set aside. 

1. Lightly toast the buns. If desired, spread a small amount of light mayonnaise on the bottom and top parts of the bun.

2. Place a heaping helping of the pulled pork onto the bottom piece of the bun and top with a generous amount of cole slaw.

3. Serve with extra vinegar sauce on the side (in a small dipping dish or squeeze bottle).

4. Dig in.

Spice rub: celery seed, ground cumin, dried mustard, black pepper, garlic powder, onion, powder, light brown sugar, cayenne pepper, ground coriander.

Hickory or cherry wood chips are best for this recipe. Mesquite would be too strong.

Fill the smoker's water container up to the fill line. If the water completely evaporates during the smoking period, just add some extra water to the drip pan below the meat. It's easier to access so you don't have to keep the smoker open too long for the refill.

Even though you don't need to soak the wood chips in water for the electric smoker, we like to do it anyways (15-30 minutes soak time).

A nice 7.5 lb. bone-in pork butt.

Gil trimming off some of the excess fat.

Injecting the Angry Orchard hard cider into the pork butt.

Damn! Why does this remind me of being at the dentist's?

Wood chip box.

Placing the wood chip box into the smoker.

Wood chip box to the bottom right, water container to the left.

Blot the pork butt dry with paper towels.

Rub the pork butt on all sides generously with the spice rub. 

Place a large roasting pan on the lower rack for use as a drip pan. Place the pork on the upper rack and insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. Close the smoker and smoke 10-12 hours until the internal temperature reaches 190F.

For the vinegar sauce: salt, pepper, light brown sugar, ketchup, cider vinegar, Crystal hot sauce, red pepper flakes.

I use honey as a sweetener for the vinegar sauce.

Pre-shredded cole slaw mix.

For the cole slaw: dried mustard, mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar sauce, black pepper.

Combine the cole slaw mix with the seasoning ingredients, stir well, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 

Take the pork out after it reaches 190F internal temperature. 

Cover with foil and let rest 1 hour.

Shred the meat and discard the bone.

Place the shredded meat onto a chopping board.

Chop with a cleaver.

Ladle in about half of the vinegar sauce, tasting as you go. Don't over-sauce! Reserve the rest of the vinegar sauce for later use (I pour it into a squeeze bottle).

Toast some buns. If desired, spread a small amount of mayo on the buns. 

Top with a generous helping of the pulled pork and some cole slaw. Serve with extra vinegar sauce on the side.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Smoked Beef Brisket with Caramelized Onions & Jalapeños (Electric Smoker Style)

Ever since I broke down and bought a CharBroil electric smoker a few weeks ago from Lowe's, it's finally been an absolute joy and a breeze to smoke meats. Sure, it's not old school, but there's no need for tending a fire 10-12 hours, adding wood chunks/chips as needed throughout the smoking period, and guesstimating on how to maintain a constant (typically around 225F) ambient temperature. Been there and done all that, despite the fact that smoking was always supposed to be Gilbert's job but always ended up being mine because he either pooped out, got grumpy after 6+ hours, or heat stroked cuz he thought smoking meat at high noon under full sun in mid-August was a totally kosher and sensible idea. Most importantly though, since neither one of us are aiming to be pit masters, an electric smoker is a fab and easier alternative to traditional smoking that still yields scrumptious results. There are two ways I like to season beef brisket: first is with my own spice blend of chile powder, brown sugar, cumin, cayenne, paprika, mustard powder, oregano, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder; second is just with plain ol' salt and pepper, which is traditional Texas-style. Great sides are grilled onions and jalapeño and/or bell peppers, potato salad, and cole slaw. Since the meat is well-seasoned, I typically don't serve it with barbecue sauce, but if that floats your boat, then go for it. Leftovers are great in sandwiches and can also be vacuum-sealed and frozen. 

12-13 lb. beef brisket, trimmed of excess fat, but leaving most of the fat cap on


Kosher salt and coarse-ground black pepper, OR

Spice Seasoning Blend

2 tbsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. onion powder
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1 tsp. oregano leaves
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. cayenne
2 tsp. mustard powder

4 cups Hickory, Apple or Cherry wood chips (Mesquite is, IMHO, too strong)


Grilled/caramelized onions (2 yellow onions, 1 small red onion, thinly sliced & sautéed in 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat with a pinch of salt and pepper until nicely browned)

Grilled/caramelized jalapeños (10 jalapenos, seeded and cut into rings, sautéed in 3-4 tbsp. olive oil with a pinch of salt until just starting to brown)

Classic American Potato Salad

Prepared Horseradish Sauce (store-bought is fine)


1. Make the grilled/caramelized onions and jalapeños, if using, ahead. Ok to cool to room temperature or refrigerate (just take out of frig and let come to room temp before serving).

2. If using the spice seasoning blend, combine all ingredients together in a small bowl.

3. Rinse the beef brisket and blot dry with paper towels. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and season well on both sides generously with either just salt & pepper, or the spice seasoning blend. Wrap tightly with foil and refrigerate at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. 

4. Take the meat out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before smoking. 

5. Soak the wood chips in water 10-30 minutes. 

6. Place the soaked wood chips in the metal wood chip container and place in the smoker (ours is on the bottom right). Fill the metal water container with water up to the fill line and place in the smoker (ours in on the bottom left).

7. Plug the meat thermometer into the upper right hand side of the smoker. 

8. Preheat the smoker to 225F. This may take up to 45 minutes, depending on your smoker.

9. Place a baking pan on the lower rack to serve as a drip pan (to catch any drippings from the meat).

10. Place the meat, fat side up, on the upper rack of the smoker. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the brisket and set the internal temperature to 190F. 

11. Close the smoker door and smoke about 10-12 hours, until the internal temperature reaches 190F (your smoker should notify you when that happens). Let the meat rest in the smoker about 10 minutes. 

12. Remove the meat from the smoker (silicon/heat-proof oven gloves are called for here) and place on a baking sheet. Wrap the meat in foil and let rest for 20-30 minutes. 

13. Remove the foil and slice the meat into 1/4-1/3" slices. Serve with grilled onions, jalapeños,  horseradish sauce, potato salad and/or cole slaw on the side. 

Topping Ideas for a Brisket Sandwich:

Shredded iceberg lettuce
Sliced ripe tomatoes
Grilled onions
Grilled jalapeños
Grilled mushrooms
Sliced red onions
Dill pickle slices
Sliced avocados
Horseradish sauce

Our CharBroil 1,000 watt, 40" electric smoker.

Hickory wood chips soaking in water. Presoaking the wood chips is not necessary for the electric smoker, but we like to do it anyways. 

 For the spice blend: mustard, onion powder, oregano, cayenne red pepper, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, brown sugar, ground cumin, and chili powder.

 A 12-1/2 lb. 1855 GF Swift Black Angus Beef Brisket from The Naughty Pig, our local butchery here in Murrieta. Go broke or go home. It doesn't pay to go cheap when it comes to brisket unless you want to end up with some tough chewy stuff. 

 Trim any excess fat from the brisket, but leave at least 1/4 inch of it on the cap.

 Rinse and blot the brisket dry with paper towels.

 Rub all sides generously with salt and pepper or the spice rub. 

Cover with foil and refrigerate at least 6 hours or preferably overnight.

The brisket was rubbed with the spice blend, wrapped in foil, and refrigerated overnight. 

For the caramelized onions: 2 yellow or white onions and 1 small red onion, thinly sliced. 

Saute the onions in 1/4 cup olive oil over medium heat until caramelized. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Seed the jalapeños.

Cut the jalapeños into thin rings.

Saute the jalapeño rings in 3-4 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat.

Caramelized onions.

Lightly browned and softened jalapeños.

Remove the brisket from the oven after it reaches 190F and has rested in the smoker for 10 minutes. Wrap in foil and let rest an additional 20-30 minutes before slicing. 

Slice the brisket against the grain into 1/4" - 1/3" slices. 

Serve with caramelized onions, jalapeños and potato salad on the side.

 In a sandwich with toasted buns, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, sliced red onions, grilled onions, grilled jalapeños, dill pickle slices, and horseradish sauce.

As for the rest of the brisket slices. we vacuum-sealed and froze them for a rainy day.