The smokey meat feast

I’m not sure whether I have the time to describe everything involved in preparing and cooking the food for this party. 20, half are kids. But I’ll give the highlights and hopefully I’ll get to the specific details of each dish. Photos are below, but here are the highlights (unfortunately there are not photos of everything finished).

Beef brisket, dry rubbed in a mole coffee mix (coffee instead of cocoa). Contains the trifecta of mole; guajillo, ancho, and mulato chiles. Freshly ground coffee, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, oregano, allspice, black pepper, salt.

Pastrami, beef brisket cut, dry cured with heaps of spices. This cure contains sumac, a spice I am loving at the moment. Sumac is ground berries, high in malic acid, similar flavor to citrus, and is grreat in dry rubs because you can get some acid on the meat without using juice!). So, ready for the long list? The rub contains curing salt, brown sugar, sumac, bay leaf, coriander, yellow mustard powder, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, oregano, thyme, black pepper, salt.

Beef chuck, brown sugar cure, dried chile mix.

Pork neck, brown sugar cure, dried chile mix.

Pork belly, white wine cure, garlic and thyme mix. I’ve made something similar in the past, which uses a curing salt with the white wine, but then you confit the pork belly, let it rest, and then fry it off crispy (very yummy). But here, the belly essentially swims in white wine for days with garlic, thyme, bay leaf, coriander, cinnamon, coriander leaf (cilantro), black pepper, and salt. An alternative curing process!

Chicken drumstick and thigh cutlet, garlic and cumin mix. For low and slow cooking, bone-in chicken is the best. And drumstick and thigh are my favourite. This is a very simple rub. Heaps of garlic, some cumin, oregano, lemon juice, black pepper and salt.

Salmon fillet, salt and sugar cure, orange and cumin mix. The salmon is semi-cured here. I’ve made cured salmon before…it’s great…but this time I’ve added less because I wanted to smoke the salmon and still keep the raw then cooked texture. So, the cure. Salt, white sugar, fresh orange juice, cumin, fresh parsley, fresh basil, black pepper.

Pork crackling, white wine and spice cure. After the pork belly (with skin on) was marinated in the above recipe, the skin was cut off and rinsed. The skin is boiled in salted water for 2 h, allowed to cool, then sliced into thin strips. Spread the strips onto a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper, and dehydrate in a moderate oven, 150 C (300 F), for 1 h. Remove from oven and let cool. Deep fry in oil until puffy and crispy, about 3-4 min. Salt to taste. These are wonderful, by the way. The first thing consumed at the party.

Mac and cheese, ancho, cheddar and romano mix. I didn’t actually use macaroni here, just some small edible pasta. But cook the pasta super al dente, because of cooking in the oven later. I basically make a bechamel sauce, but with no flour. Whole ancho chile, onions and garlic cooked in butter with oregano, thyme, black pepper, and fresh nutmeg. Add fresh cream and finely chopped cheddar and romano (I prefer the younger romano), and cook low and slow, stirring until smooth and creamy. Mix in your pasta, transfer to a baking dish, top with more cheese, and bake about 30 min in a hot oven until browned. I scooped around the ancho. Ooey gooey.

Brioche rolls, milk, butter and egg. These are great with meat, eggs, butter, jam, bbq sauce, everything. These are made with exactly what the titles says. Flour, yeast, whole milk, butter, egg yolk, salt. Smothered in beaten egg and topped with poppy seed before baking. That’s it!

Roasted cauliflower, radish and basil mint salad, balsamic dressing. Radish is my new friend, great fresh or pickled. And adds that piquant flavour to things. Cauliflower roasted with cumin and black pepper, cooled, tossed with minced radish, fresh basil, mint, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and salt. Simple and yummy.

Italian flat beans, home cured bacon, beer. Unless green beans are in season, I prefer the flat Italian style of beans. Less fibre. The bacon I used is similar to the link, but has brown sugar instead of maple syrup. Saute the bacon, add some onions, the beans, garlic, beer, thyme, black pepper and salt.

Kale and red cabbage salad, Alabama white bbq sauce dressing. Not everyone likes kale. Too fibrous, etc. It can be tender. Pull the leaves away from the midline stem, then rip into small pieces or chop with a knife. Add equal amounts of finely cut red cabbage. Add a bit of salt and olive oil. Massage with your hands to tenderise, 3-4 minutes. Add white bbq sauce (or your favourite dressing) to taste. FYI, the Alabama white bbq sauce contains: Onions, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaf, cumin, coriander, allspice, nutmeg, oregano, thyme, black pepper, salt, apple cider vinegar, cream, egg yolk.

All the meat was marinated 3 days before cooking (chicken was 18 h, salmon was 12 h). The pork and beef cooked for 18 hours, in the end. This time included taking the meat off the smoker, wrapping it well, and placing it in a moderate oven (150C, 300 F) for 2 h, and then letting it rest for an hour before cutting. The chicken cooked for 6 h, which included the 2 h in the oven at the end. The salmon was cooked after all other meat was done and the smoker had cooled down some, about 2 h.

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