…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work
In my part of the world, we’re in the midst of that most enchanted season–that which encompasses both grilling AND soup season. It is a magical time; the humidity is low, the temperatures are mild, it is sunny and bright, and one can either tend to the grill or simmer on the stove in perfect comfort.
I love to grill and even more, I like to smoke (foods, that is.) I’ll smoke anything; poultry, pork, beef, tofu, vegetables…butter (that hasn’t gone so well thus far.) I smoke using charcoal on my Weber kettle grill. (My good pal and fellow PWI blogga, Sparky, prefers science and technology and uses a for-realz smoker.) No matter your preferred method, smoking is cool, kids.
The other day I hit Costco (cue calliope music) and picked up a two-pack of chuck roasts–hey, it is the beginning of stew season, after all. I cooked both on the same day, anticipating that I would freeze one for later use. I did one in the traditional manner, braised in a dutch oven with lots of red wine, onions, and garlic–served over creamy mashed potatoes. Let’s agree to reserve a separate post for traditional pot roasts.
The other? I smoked it.
I love smoked foods, I love smoking foods, and (much to my husband’s chagrin, as I have completely taken over grill patrol), I love to grill. Grilling has long been the province of Y-chromosome weekend warrior cookery. I say no more! Ladies–take back the fire–familiarize yourself with charcoal, the chimney starter, a long-handled lighter (or you can just burn off your knuckles and fingerprints with a standard lighter, as I do), and embrace what I lovingly refer to as “cinder-schnoz” cinder-schnoz: v. \ˈsin-dərˈshnäz\ the act of blowing ashes out of one’s nose after having inhaled a fair amount of charcoal ash.
And, AND? Fewer dishes to clean when you cook on the grill. I can hear your cheers.
I love smoked chuck roast. I decided to serve it in a bastardized Oktoberfest fashion. I cooked some spaetzle from a package (look, we’re none of us perfect) and then fried ’em in a combination of rendered chicken fat (NEVER throw away good fat!) and butter. I also made some spicy braised cabbage–which is to date one of my favorite things that I have ever improvised. Everybody knows that a little spice enhances barbeque, and this cabbage dish was the perfect acidic/spicy foil to the smokiness of the chuck roast.
Here’s what I did:
Smoked Pot Roast
Chuck roast, 2-3 lbs
2-3 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup not-hoppy beer or stock
1 or 2 good handfulls of smoking chips (I like alder, but I had cherry, so that’s what I used)
Soak the chips as you get your charcoal going in the chimney starter. Cover all sides of the roast with salt and pepper. Prepare your grill for indirect cooking. Put a hearty handful of soaked smoking chips directly on the hot coals. Put your roast opposite the heat. Smoke for 1- 1/2 hrs, putting another handful of chips on the coals after 30- to 45 minutes. Remove the roast from the grill, wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil, add your beer or stock, and return to the grill (opposite the coals) for another 1 1/2-2 hrs.
You can eat it right away, but I think it tastes better after it has set in the fridge (take it out of the foil and put it in your favorite storageware) overnight. Reheat (simmering) in a covered pan with a bit of beer or stock for 15-20 minutes.
Spicy Braised Cabbage
1 tbs canola oil
1 tbs butter
1 medium head of cabbage (2-3 lbs), finely shredded
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks (or thinly sliced–it really does not matter at all)
1 serrano chili, thinly sliced (remove the seeds and ribs if you want it less spicy)
Vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar, if you are so inclined
Fresh dill or fresh parsley for finish (totally optional)
Heat oil and butter in a dutch oven or large saute pan. Add shredded cabbage, carrots, & serrano and stir fry over high heat for 4-6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add vinegar (I usually start with 2 tablespoons), salt, and pepper, (and sugar if you are using), cover and cook over low for 15 minutes or until tender–I don’t usually add any liquid, as the cabbage will typically release enough liquid to braise, but check it and use your judgment. Taste for seasoning and for tenderness–adjust as needed. Top with dill (I got a huge sack o’dill for CHEAP at my Asian market) or parsley, as desired. (btw–this is great as a vegan dish, just leave out the butter.)
Buy a package of spaetzle and cook it how they say (stop judging me). Drain well. Add some butter, oil, or fat of your choice to a fry pan, toss in the spaetzle, some salt and pepper (and freshly grated nutmeg, if you are awesome) and fry, stirring constantly, until you can’t take it anymore.
Then do this: