Sunday, March 31, 2013

Smoked Cornish Game Hens

Cook time and prep time:  12 hours for marinade time and 4 hours for smoke time


2 quarts water
5 oz. sea salt
1/3 cup molasses
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp dried thyme 
1 head garlic broken into individual cloves, unpeeled

2-3 Cornish game hens
Hickory chips

Bring 1 quart water to boil in large stock pot, and add salt.  Whisk until salt is dissolved.  Add molasses, honey, soy sauce, red pepper flakes, poultry seasoning, thyme and garlic.  Stir to blend.  Cool and submerge Cornish game hens.  If not enough room, pour brine in cooler, add game hens, and add ice.   Let hens marinade overnight.  

In an electric smoker preheat to 250, and smoke hens until they reach 165, about 3-4 hours.  

Using a Brinkman smoker, start soaking hickory chips and get coals started.  Once coals are hot, place them in coal tray on bottom.   Fill water tray with brine from game hens, and place game hens on rack over brine. Toss some soaked wood chips onto hot coals, and cover hens with lid.  Smoke for 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes adding more wood chips for smoke, and more charcoal briquettes as needed to keep heat in 275 degree range.  Meat will be pink from smoke, but will move freely at joints once cooked through.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pork in Verde Tamales

Tamales are a lot of work, at least 1 day of effort, maybe two.  If  you do pork in crock pot at night while you are sleeping, it's ready to go the next day.  You can prepare verde a day in advance as well and chill.  Go ahead and get those corn husks soaking before you go to bed and then in the morning whip up your masa and it's go time.

 3-4 pound boneless pork loin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (optional)
juice of 2 limes
½ cup orange juice
12 ounces beer
½ not so chunky salsa or taco sauce

Mix garlic and dry spices to make a paste and rub into pork loin.   Place rubbed pork in the slow cooker.  Add lime juice, orange juice, beer, and salsa. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  Place pork in broiler pan and shred with two forks.. It should fall apart easily.  Preheat broiler.  Drizzle pork with olive oil. Broil for 5-10 minutes or until you get browned edges on the pork.  Pour verde over pork and mix well.  Set aside until ready to assemble tamales.

1 lb tomatillos husked, rinsed and halved
1 head garlic
2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed and seeded
1 pasilla or poblano pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 serrano pepper, stemmed and seeded 
1 anaheim pepper, stemmed and seeded

Preheat oven to 425.  In one large roasting pan, place tomatillos and head of garlic broken up but with skin in tact.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with smokey salt.  On another cooking sheet place washed peppersPlace in oven and roast until skins on peppers are blistering and tomatillos and garlic is browned, 20-25 minutes.  Squeeze garlic from it's skin into a food processor bowl.  Add roasted tomatillos.  Stem and de-seed peppers and add them to processor bowl.  I recommend using disposable gloves during the peppery portion of this recipe.  Process until a thick salsa verde is produced.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Chill  until ready to mix with pork.

3 cups masa harina
2.5 cups warm water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup shortening, lard, or equal parts butter and vegetable oil
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 heaping tablespoon chile powder
In a mixing bowl, whip lard or shortening until fluffy.  Move to another small bowl.  Once you've removed shortening from mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth in mixing bowl until combined.  Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.
After the Masa Harina is prepared, gradually add in the  garlic salt, cumin and chili powder by sprinkling them over the dough as you mix it.  Add the shortening to the dough a little at a time while mixing.  Should be the consistency of whipped peanut butter.

Pork mixed with verde
Corn husks, soaked in water over night
Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded

Lay corn husk out on work surface.  Spread masa mixture in thin layer in middle of husk, top with pinch of shredded cheese, and 2 tablespoons pork.  Roll masa in husk over to meet other side and pull it back.

Roll corn husk over masa and filling, and fold in both ends, making a little pocket.  Until you have made all the tamales.  

Tamales should be steamed for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes until the husk can be easily pulled from masa coming away clean leaving masa in tact.   I used a two layer bamboo steamer and switched top and bottom tray half way through.  Serve warm with fresh salsa and sour cream, or cool, wrap and freeze for another time.