Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Duck Walks into a Bar...


A duck walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why don't you stay for dinner?"  Seriously, ducks are very under-appreciated at the grocery store.  Why we wait for the holidays to eat them is anyone's guess, and every year I vow to eat more of the little buggers.  Everything about them is delicious, from their crispy skin to their amazing liver.  Even their fat is better than butter!  So, get yourself a duck and prepare to cook it.  The method described here is "Whole Smoked Duck" in a spicy orange marinade.  Let's get started!


 
You will need:
  • 1 Whole Duck (thawed, 5lb)
  • 2 Tsp each:
    • Chili Powder
    • Kosher Salt
    • Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup each:
    • Chicken Broth
    • Undiluted frozen orange juice
    • Orange Marmalade 
The duck I bought came with a packet of orange sauce.  I used the recipe here instead, because its hard for me to trust packets that don't list ingredients on the labels.  Do you ever wonder what's in that "Gravy Packet" that slides out of a raw turkey?  Yeah, me neither.  It goes straight to the garbage, but I admire them for trying!

Ok, slice your duck out of its packaging and rinse it thoroughly with cold water, then dry it off with paper towels.  Lay it out on a cutting board and have a closer look.  It resembles a strange elongated chicken with stubbier legs, doesn't it?  Note that the breasts are a bit smaller than a chicken's, and there is a bit more fat in pockets all over the bird.  There is more fat on the back of the bird than the breast, so we'll cook it with it's backside UP so the fat can drip down and help season the rest of the bird while it cooks.

Once you've inspected it, place the duck in a bowl and get the marinade ready.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a smaller bowl and then pour them over the duck.  Flip the duck over and over until it's completely covered inside and out.  Park the duck bowl in the fridge for a few hours (uncovered), then take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you get your fire ready.

Ready your grill or smoker for indirect heating.  This little quacker will lie, breasts down, directly on the grate of your grill, away from any direct flames.  It's a sad day for the duck, but a banner day for YOU!  Bring the temperature around the duck to 225 degrees, tuck a thermometer probe up under its armpit and into the meat of the breast.  Poor girl.  She looks "defeated" doesn't she?  Don't worry, she'll go out in a blaze of glory! 

Leave the ducky inside the grill for about 4 hours at 225.  My duck weighed 5.5lbs so yours may take more or less time, just be sure to watch your thermometer and don't open the grill to peak!  Here she is when her breasts hit 165 degrees!  Note how the skin tightened up and browned ever so nicely?  Ducks are so marvelous!  Cover with foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes before you slice it for serving.

Ok, how glorious is this duck?  The skin is crispy and very rich.  There is a hint of orange with a nice juicy and smoky goodness to the whole thing.  I cut the duck straight down the spine, in half, from top to bottom, then I roughly cut portions from leg, thigh, breast, and wing.  It did not last long!

I managed to save just enough to make a small duck sandwich today, but the rest disappeared in less time than it took to take the green beans off the table and to put them back into the fridge.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Cranberry Chutney

The real "Art" in cooking comes when you manage to take several ingredients that have no business hanging out together, and you convinced them to "sing" together in a dish that sounds like a heavenly choir. For example, nobody in a zillion years would ever have expected to find cranberries, sugar, onions, and garlic playing blissfully together in the same playground and yet, here they are, thicker than thieves!



My neighbor Barbara passed this along to me and it is nothing short of miraculous.  Poured over a block of cream cheese, or a warm Brie, this Chutney will make any Christmas appetizer table proud:

You will need:
Round 1:
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic (Minced)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1 Teaspoon Cardoman
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Ginger
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Water

Round 2:
  • 2 Cups Fresh Cranberries (Chopped)
  • 1/4 Cup Vinegar
  • 1 Cup Raisins
  • 4 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Round 3:
  • 2 Tablespoons Corn Starch
  • 2 Tablespoons Cold Water
Combine all of the ingredients from Round 1 (above) into a pot and bring it all to a boil.  Keep stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved.  Let it boil for about 10-15 minutes.  I know what you're thinking... "Onions, Garlic, and... CLOVES?  SUGAR??"  Yes.  Trust me.

After ten minutes or so, add the stuff from Round 2 (above) into the pot.  Stir it together, introducing the berries to the onions and the ginger to the raisins, etc.  Be their host!  Brown sugar, White sugar, all blissfully getting along.... Stir and boil for a few minutes longer.

After five minutes or so, the raisins will plump up with juice and get all full of themselves.  They'll try to start a fight.  This is typical raisin behavior... Just keep stirring and the froth from the fighting will settle when all of the players realize just how much they need and love one another.  During this "Enlightenment" period, discreetly mix Round 3 (above) together in cup.  When the pot is distracted, pour Round 3 in and quickly stir it together.  This is the glue that will bind them!

Once you have a nice simmering bubbly mixture of Christmas goodness (your house will smell like Santa farted in it), ladle the hot mixture carefully into 1/2 pint mason jars.  Stash the jars in the fridge.  Due largely to the vinegar, this Chutney will last a LONG time.  I've never worried about it much though, because it gets eaten... quickly.

To serve, just pour a cold jar of the Chutney over a small wheel of Brie, Camembert, or Cream cheese and spread on your favorite crackers.  It's fun to watch the expression of your guests as their brains grapple with the sweet vs. savory elements of it all!

They'll keep eating and wondering and savoring and grappling until it's gone....



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cream Braised Venison Roast

Its rare when your phone rings, and a frantic friend on the other line is anxiously holding a knife in one hand, and a deer's hind-quarters in the other asking, "Ken, I understand that there's some kind of 'gland' or something in this deer that I'm supposed to cut out... what does it look like and what do I do?"  I thought, "That's odd, this is Andy's number... but the voice sounds like his wife, Rayna!"  Sure enough, while Andy was in the other room with his boys, playing with their toys, his wife was dressed in a full butcher's apron, trying heroically to butcher a deer that was gifted to her!

The good news was, between my knowledge of deer anatomy and Rayna's swift knife skills, she was able to break the meat down, remove the unsavory bits, and before long, she had some fantastic cuts of roast in front of her!  What is written here is my venison roast recipe, meticulously executed by my friend's wife, cook, and venison butcher, Rayna Williams.  I wasn't in Texas to taste it, but Rayna says it was "Stinkin' Delicious" so I believe her!  She took pictures and I am writing up the procedure, exactly as she followed it!  Great job, girl!


You will need:

  • Big Crock Pot
  • 3-4lb Venison Roast
  • "Better than Beef" broth mix
  • 1 Bottle Red Wine (I like Pinot Noir for this)
  • 1 LARGE container sliced mushrooms, chopped fine and saute’ed in butter till done 
  • 1 ½ Cups chicken broth
  • 1 Bag frozen pearl onions
  • 3 Tbsp butter 
  • 3 Tbsp flour 
  • Heavy pinch of salt / pepper
  • 1 Cup half n half
  • ½ Cup cream
  • Onion Powder
  • 2 Cloves Fresh Garlic

Phase 1: The soup base.

You can use canned Cream of Mushroom soup, but it won't taste nearly as good!!  Get yourself a cast iron skillet and melt the butter.  Toss in the mushrooms and cook them down until they're nice and nutty and done.

Next, toss in the whole bag of pearl onions.  There is nothing better in a roast than pearl onions!  You can buy fresh ones, but you'll have to blanch and peel them and they aren't that much better than frozen so, it's up to you.

Toss in the flour by sprinkling lightly around the skillet.  You'll need to thoroughly incorporate the flour into the dish so "clumping" is bad!  Add salt and pepper here (to taste).  If it seems like you're making a homemade Cream of Mushroom soup, it's because, well, you are!  Think of this as a CoM soup that's heavy on the onions (you need the onions for the roast, so stop complaining).

Finish the soup by adding the dairy and the chicken broth.  Whisk all of this together over Medium Low heat to mix it thoroughly, then bring the heat up slowly to Medium High.  You're going for a "gentle bubble" here, like your mushrooms are floating happily in their own milky jacuzzi.  Open the red wine while you're waiting (you know, so it can breathe... not so you can drink a glass of it to endure the fact that your husband and two boys are making a devilish mess of some other room in the house).

Doesn't this look fantastic?  You'll have to resist the urge to stop here, and serve the soup for dinner.  If you're a huge CoM soup fan (like I am), You can cut the onions by 2/3 and make this dish some other day, adding a bit of crushed garlic, and chopped parsley for added flavor and color.

When you've reached a gentle bubble, pour the entire contents of the cast iron pan into your crock pot.









Phase 2: The Roast!

After you return your pan to the burner, jack the heat up to HIGH and add a smidge of Olive Oil.  When it's good and hot, brown the roast in the pan, turning to ensure all sides develop a nice crust.  Use tongs to gently lay the roast into the crock pot and prepare to deglaze the pan.

With your empty pan smoking on the burner (and the gas still turned on HIGH), pour in a generous portion of the wine, and two cups of prepared beef broth.  Rayna used "Better than Beef" and I love her for it!  This great stuff comes in a jar as a concentrated "goo" and it's fantastic for broth!  Let the liquid sizzle and use a spatula to "clean" your pan of the juicy bits of the roast that stuck to it.  Let it boil and reduce by 1/2.

Pour the liquid into the crock-pot and spoon it all together and over the roast.  Crush the garlic and toss it in, along with a generous sprinkling of Onion Powder and maybe some Thyme.  Add the lid and turn it on LOW for no less than 8 hours!

When 8 hours are up, flip the switch to WARM and let it settle and rest for another hour.  Then, serve it in bowls with some great bread and maybe some roasted potatoes on the side.  It might remind you of Beef Stroganoff, but oh... so much better!  It's a very "rich" dish that you might want to serve over some salted egg noodles or even stuffed into some homemade ravioli! 


If you can get two young boys to settle down long enough to enjoy a Venison Roast this much, you've done something right!



Many thanks to Rayna and her boys (Andy, Kevin, and Colby)!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Gobbling Tremendous Turkey!

Talk to your mother and grandmother, and you'll learn a hundred ways to cook a turkey.  As a kid, my mom actually baked one in a brown paper grocery sack!  The internet offers an additional zillion methods.  I am about to offer you a method that will change the way you think about traditional "Thanksgiving Turkey."  If you want a whole, crispy skinned, brown, "Martha Stewart" bird, you'll need to look elsewhere.  If you want a "pull-apart" tender turkey that your friends will ask you for year after year... read on!


Today, you will learn how to "Spatchcock" a bird!  Say it with me, "spach'-kahk!"  Spatchcocking a 20-25lb bird will make it cook faster and with as much moisture retention as a 10-14lb bird!  It's all very exciting...

You will Need:

  • 1 huge brined turkey (I used a 22lb bird)
  • Kitchen shears
  • Temperature probe
  • 1 handful butter
  • Seasoning of your choice
  • Salt and pepper
A quick word about brining... read the label of your turkey before you buy it.  Most birds are pre-brined these days.  Look for a label that says "enhanced" or "treated with salt solution."  Butterball has been doing this for years, but since brining has only become more popular recently, they haven't gone out of their way to advertise it.  So, get yourself a brined bird (or brine one yourself) and prepare to spatchcock it!  Spatchcocking a turkey increases the surface area that is exposed to the heat.  Your turkey will cook in 1/2 the time and will retain much more moisture!

One word of caution before we begin... if you have any phobias or misgivings about touching raw poultry, you'd better get over it.  You're about to go full "butcher" on your turkey.  You're going to get gooey, bloody, and dirty.  It will all be ok, trust me!  You have soap and water and a sink, and it will all be over soon enough!  Now, muster up some courage.  Grab your shears, lay the bird, breast side down, onto a cutting board, and snip out the spine.  Take your time, and cut along both edges of the backbone.  You need strong fingers, so you may need some help with this part.

Now, while the turkey is still sitting with the breast side down, use your hands to flatten or "open" the turkey.  I like to remove the breast bone (or "keel" bone).  This is a thick bone that runs right down the middle of the turkey, between the breasts.  To remove it, you will need to use a filet knife to cut the breast meat away from it, and you'll need some strong fingers to pull it up and out.  Removal of the breast bone it not necessary, but it will make carving much easier, later.

Once the spine is out, the hard work is done.  Cut the "leg-thigh" quarters away from the breasts (this is easy since there are no bones to cut), and cut the wings off as well.  You should have:  one large "twin breast" section, two wings, a left leg-thigh quarter, and a right leg-thigh quarter.  Arrange them in a pan, starting with the breasts first (as shown).


Then add the wings, tucking them up and under the breasts.  Lift the skin up and away from the breasts and jam in some lumps of butter.  Now, season all of the white meat with salt, pepper, and the seasoning of your choice (I used a pre-mixed cajun seasoning).

Finally, pack in the leg quarters, one at a time, seasoning each as you go. 

Now, set the pan aside and wash your hands, wrists, elbows, and your counter-top.  Take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of wine and have a look at what you've done!  You've prepped a bird, restaurant style, in such a fashion that you'll be able to cook it in half the time, cover it with foil, transport it to your venue, and serve it to the amazement of your guest, all without getting a single other thing dirty!  Relax, the hard part is over!!

The rest is easy.  It's time to slow-cook this bird to perfection.  Jam the temperature probe into the deepest part of the thigh, and set the alarm for 170 degrees.  I put mine in a smoker (next to a ham, to keep it company), and I brought the heat up to 250 degrees.  Yes, TWO hundred fifty.  Why so low?  Well, you've spatchcocked it so much more of the surface is exposed to the heat.  We don't want to blast the outside with so much heat that it begins to lose moisture.  Think more along the lines of "Crock Pot braising" and less "heat blasting."  This 22lb turkey was done in under 5 hours with the roasting temperature set to 250 degrees.

When it's done, pull it out and cover it tightly with foil to let it rest.  Allow 30-45 minutes for a good rest.  Carving is super-duper simple!  Just pull the legs up and they will fall away from the thigh all by themselves.  SUPER tasty!  Separate the breasts and cut them laterally.  Each slice will begin to fall apart! 

My guests (14 of them) simply annihilated this turkey!  It was completely gone and eaten in under 20 minutes!  We didn't need gravy, we didn't need stuffing, and we didn't even need a knife!  The pieces just fell apart and couldn't have been any tastier!

Friday, November 14, 2014

High Fat, High Calorie, Super Awesome Eggnog!!

I applaud the efforts of folks who take traditional fatty foods, and try to substitute lower-fat ingredients to make them healthier.  I do... Some dishes, however, were never meant for such nonsense and Eggnog is one of them!  I'm willing to bet that if you're not an Eggnog fan, it's because you've never had the "Good Stuff!"



This recipe brings back memories and it's very special to me because it's the first thing I ever made in the kitchen, on my own.  An old friend, Nancy Baumann, gave me this recipe when I was 14 years old, and I haven't let go of it since!  Sure, I've changed it very slightly, but the core is all Nancy who is as sweet as the nog we're about to concoct!


You will need:
  • 12 egg, separated (yes... you'll need a dozen eggs)
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • 2 cups Bourbon
  • 2 tablespoon vanilla
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon Sticks 
  • Three medium bowls and one LARGE bowl
This recipe will serve 15-20 people at a party, so you might want to cut it half.  Personally, I just keep it in the fridge, in a previously used plastic gallon of milk.  Keep the old expiration date on the jug, so other people will leave it alone!  You'll want this all to yourself!

In bowl #1, combine one cup of the sugar and all 12 of the egg yolks.  Before you get all queezy about the reality of consuming raw egg yolks, rest assured that if you're using FRESH eggs, the chances of you running into any Salmonella are quite small.  However, you can certainly use pasteurized eggs if it will help you to feel better!  Beat the yolks and sugar until you have a thick bright yellow, uniform "goo."

In bowl #2, combine the rest of the sugar with all 12 of the egg whites.  Beat them until they're thick.  You're not looking to make any meringue here, just beat them until they're combined and just before they get to the "soft peak" stage... turn your beaters upside down and see if they form gently falling very soft peaks.  If so, you're ready!  If you over-beat them and they get stiff, just bake a lemon pie and use the meringue as topping.

In bowl #3, beat the cream until it starts to thicken.  When you beat cream, it moves in stages:
  1. Cream
  2. Thick Cream
  3. Thicker Cream
  4. Whipped Cream
  5. Butter
You certainly don't want butter, or even whipped cream!  You want to drink your eggnog, you don't want to eat it with a spoon, so shoot for stage 2 or 3 above.  

Now for the fun part!  Combine bowl #3 (the cream) with bowl #1 (the yolks) and mix them together in your biggest bowl.  Fold in bowl #2 (the egg whites), and gently stir it together.  Finally, add the milk, Bourbon, vanilla.  Pour the contents into a glass or plastic jug and park it in the refrigerator.  I like to serve it super cold, so I put it in the freezer for 1/2 hour prior to serving! 

To serve, simply pour into a punch bowl and arrange your nutmeg and cinnamon sticks as a garnish for your guests to enjoy.

I calculated the fat/calories of this once, you don't want to know... It's *SO* good though, you probably won't care!
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Gotta Get A Cooler!

So, my wife and I are fairly seriously looking into incorporating myself into a BBQ provider company.  It would be a "You buy the food, I cook it for you, and I deliver it to your party" kind of operation.  To that end, we've actually taken the time to design a logo, speak to our accountant, buy a domain name, and research some paperwork, etc.  While she continues the research (she's into that sort of thing), I continue to cook!  I'm also spending a small bit of money on some branding.  I bought some logo-shirts and I got this spiffy new cooler that I can't wait to tell you about!  Check it:


What's so special about it?  Well, besides having my name and logo artfully carved into the most beautiful weather-treated wood you've ever seen, it's amazingly functional.









The darn thing is actually built around a modern 48qt cooler (Igloo, 96qt available too) that is already proven to keep meat, beer, or Whiskey cold for days (it might work for bottles of water too, I have no idea).  All seams are super tight, corners are perfectly square, and she sits as level as you please, right out of the box!






Large handles are built in with enough rope to make carrying a breeze.  A HUGE butterfly valve at the bottom makes it super easy to drain without having to squat down and feel around for the outlet.  The bottle opener is a nice touch, too!








Where do you get one?  From the Cooler Guy!  Duh... Give him a call.  For a Craftsman, he's pretty modest about his prices.  They vary, as you might expect, given the complexity, color, and number of designs or logos, their placement, etc.  Rarely do you find something this functional that's also this beautiful!

Here's a note from Kevin, regarding his prices:

We charce $300.00 for a single cooler (shown here).  $460.00 for a double cooler, and $35.00 for a custom or special logo. There is no charge for a logo we already have in house. We only do copywritten logos if we have a license for the team or business.  $75.00 to add casters, $25.00 to box for shipping plus the cost to ship to your zip code.

You can pick it up if you would like, if you live close to Baton Rouge. We are looking for Dealers, we can put your logos on them.

Thank you Kevin Berthelot 1-225-978-2722 or Kevinberthelot2722@gmail.com

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Easy Cornish Game Hens

Ok, since I wrote about cooking Cornish "Game-Day" Hens on a smoker/grill, I've been bombarded with requests about how to cook them in a regular oven.  No problem! 


Cornish hens have a lot of things going for them.  They're more flavorful than chicken, they cook very easily, they're super cheap, easy to work with, and they're just so dog-gone cute!  I have no idea why people don't eat more of them.  I do hear from others that "they dry out easily" but I'll show you how easy it is to guard against that... So let's get started!

You will need:
  • Olive oil
  • A good poultry dry rub
    • 1 Tbsp Cajun Seasoning
    • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
    • 1 Tbsp Paprika
    • 1 Tbsp Chili Powder 
    • 1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 2 slices of bacon per bird
  • Cornish hens 
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • Accurate cooking thermometer
  • Preheat oven to 375 (Use your "Convection Roast" setting if you have one)


First, prepare the pan!  Coat a dry cookie sheet with a generous cloud of your non-stick cooking spray (who are we kidding, we all use Pam, don't we?).  Then cut and lay out your foil and push all of the air bubbles out from under it.  Spritz one more layer of Pam across the foil.  Why do this?  Because clean-up will only take you 10 seconds after the birds are done, that's why!





Now, time to prep the bird(s).  Drizzle some good olive oil all over the birds and use your hands to massage the oil all over the front, back, and sides of each hen.  Tuck the little "Flappers" on the ends of the wings, behind the shoulders (where her little head used to be).  Now, thoroughly mix all of the ingredients to your dry rub, and give the bird a liberal sprinkling of the seasoning, on all sides.  Criss-cross two slices of bacon across the breast of each bird, and season again with your dry rub.


Why bacon?  Good question... First of all, bacon is delicious and we want to eat it whenever we have a free opportunity.  Second, and more importantly, our friend bacon is here to render its fat all over the bird during the cooking process and this will not only add flavor, but it will serve to baste the little hen and to keep her from drying out!

Now, pop the bird(s) into a pre-heated 375 degree oven, for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes of cooking, you'll need to start paying meticulous attention to the birds!  You can see here at that after 45 mins, my hens were only 144.6 degrees.  We want a good safe 165 degrees in the deep part of the thigh, so more cooking was required.  How much?  Well, these birds are small and they heat up quickly!  I checked mine every 5 minutes from here on out because a bird at 165 is glorious, juicy, tender, etc.  A bird at 175 is a dry and sad one that you would not want to serve.  In my case, these two birds hit 168 just ten short minutes later, so don't walk away!  Pull them out of the oven, cover them with a tent of foil, and leave them alone for about 5 minutes.

When it's time to serve, use some kitchen shears to cut your little hens in half, right down the middle.  1/2 a hen (with its bacon partner) is the perfect serving portion to with some garlic French green beans and some homemade cous-cous.  The birds are on the spicy side, so a sweeter wine, like a Riesling might be nice... Mine was consumed alongside a homemade IPA (as usual).





Oh, remember the foil on the cookie sheet?  Check out just how easy it was to clean up the bird drippings!  You're welcome!!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Grilled Texas Sushi; "Oscar Roll!"

Ok, I'm not going to lie, this is a big recipe!  When I first described the concept to my buddy Jarrod a month or two ago, he asked, "Aren't you flying a bit too close to the sun, Icarus?"  He knows how to challenge me...  Anyway, I had this idea that sushi didn't have to be all about fish and rice.  What if you flattened out a Filet and stuffed it with lump crab meat or shrimp, some asparagus, seasoned it, then rolled it up, wrapped it in bacon, grilled it lightly, then smoked it over indirect heat and ultimately buried it in Hollandaise sauce and garnished it with crispy bacon bits and diced jalapeno? 

I tried it today... There are MORE of these in my future, I will tell you.  Probably tomorrow....  Please read through this entire article before you venture into your kitchen.  You'll need to set your brain to thinking about it.


You will need:

  • 1 small Filet Mignon (4 or 6 oz is best, thin cut)
  • 4oz (small handful) of fresh (not pre-cooked) shrimp or lump crab meat
  • 2 slices of THIN bacon with a lot of fat on it
  • Seasoning:
    • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
    • 1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
    • 1 Tbsp high quality chili powder
    • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
    • 1/2 Tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1 large batch of Hollandaise sauce
  • 2 or 3 fresh sprigs of asparagus

First, go outside and run about 5 miles because that's how much energy you'll have to burn to safely consume one of these beauties!  Personally, I opted for a cup of coffee rather than the run. Personal preference....  This recipe makes one roll, because it was an experiment for me.  I came up with this one completely from scratch  and I wanted to make sure it worked, to see how much time it took, etc, before I started making them a dozen at a time.  You'll have some ingredients left over, like the seasoning and the rest of your Hollandaise.  Sorry.... Adjust accordingly.

When you're back from your run (or your coffee break), whip up a batch of Hollandaise.  This is a standard recipe that is easily googled (bow your head and say a quick "Thanks" to the French or this).  Pour the whole batch into a pre-heated food or drinking Thermos and set it aside.  Hollandaise is a pain in the ass (leave it to the French...), it pouts and separates and sticks and settles and has to be constantly whisked and kept at a consistent temperature.  This is fine if you have a sou-chef to handle it for you, or you could just pour it into a Thermos where it will keep for hours.  Trust me, you'll have better things to do than to time your Hollandaise perfectly to the meat coming off the grill...

Now, go outside and build a fire in your grill/smoker.  You'll want a nice white hot bed of coals to work with.  Once your fire is going, come inside and pound your meat!!  It's all very exciting.  Start with your standard, garden variety petite filet and cover it, top and bottom, with a large piece of plastic-wrap.  Then, using the smooth side of your meat mallet, gently but firmly pound the meat from the outside edges in, until it's as thin as you can get it, without splitting it apart. 
Be patient.  Do NOT just pound the crap out of it or it will tear and split!  Notice the before and after pictures here.  Next, you'll want to rotate the steak to your best advantage for stuffing.  In this case, look at the picture on the left and notice that I have a nice long "edge" on the side by the Sharpie.  That's the edge I'll pack my shrimp into for rolling.  Speaking of shrimp....



Clean, peel, and bring a small handful of shrimp up to room temperature.  This is important because you're only going to cook it for one minute!  If they're super cold, they'll just bring down the temperature of the water and not get any cooking time in.  Drop them into boiling water and cook them for 60 seconds, no more, no less.  They won't be completely cooked, but they'll have a good head start.  Then, take them out of the boil and shock them in an ice bath of super cold water to stop the cooking process.  Let them swim and chill out for another minute.

Now, chop them coarsely as shown.  If you're using lump crab meat, you won't have any chopping to do... I like them coarsely chopped and they sure roll better this way, so take the time to do it.

My buddy Karl gave this Ulu curved knife from Alaska... it chops like hell and is an awesome knife to have in the arsenal.  I haven't cut myself with it yet, either!





Time to roll!  Place your shrimp on the side you chose to start rolling from, and add your springs of asparagus on top.  Put all of your spices together into a shaker and mix them up thoroughly.  Season the shrimp and the steak at this point, giving the whole thing a good shake.  Keep the rest of your seasoning for the 5 or 6 of these rolls that you'll be cooking for your friends later...  Now, roll it up tightly, taking care to tuck in the sides as you're rolling.



You're looking for a nice tight roll, with sealed edges.  The most common mistake I will predict is "over-stuffing."  It's tempting, I know, but don't do it!  You want an even roll so that it all cooks evenly and the heat gets to everything inside at a consistent rate.  What now?  Well, wrap it in bacon, of course!!






Take your two thin pieces of bacon and stretch them out.  This is why you bought cheap, thin bacon!  The temptation is to always get thick bacon... don't get me wrong, I *LOVE* thick bacon, but when it comes to wrapping foods to render fat and keep them moist, you can't beat the stretchy, flexibility and "sticky" quality that thin bacon has.  I'd use caul-fat netting, but that's pretty hard to come by if you don't know a good butcher who loves you.  Wrap one piece around from left to right, spiraling as you go, then use the other piece to back from right to left.  Season it and use a couple of toothpicks to hold it together.


Head out to the fire!  You want to sear it first, over super high heat for about 60 seconds on each side.  I have a fire-grate in my firebox so this was easy for me.  If you're running a pellet grill, I'm not sure what to tell you.  If you're running a YODER pellet grill, it has a sear setting so you'll be good to go. Regardless, you'll need to find a "hot side" somewhere on your grill to crisp up the bacon and get the ball rolling.





Then, onto the smoker!  Place the roll in a smoker at 225 degrees and insert a reliable temperature probe so that the tip is right in the center.  Close your smoker and leave it in there at 225 for about thirty minutes or until the center hits 130 degrees. 







Now, take it off and cover it with foil to let it rest.  While it's resting, take your crispy bacon out of the fridge, heat it up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so, and coarsely chop it into bacon bits.  You *DO* have bacon in your fridge, right?  Already cooked for such an occasion?  I certainly do... You can also take this opportunity to dice up a fresh Jalapeno chili.






Time to assemble the dish!  Place the roll in the middle of a plate.  Take the top off of your Thermos and pour on a generous helping of Hollandaise.  Let it cascade down the sides of your "Sushi" roll and onto the plate.  Now, pull the toothpicks and gently slice it open in the center with a serrated knife.  Open the roll so folks can witness what's going on inside.  Garnish the top with a hefty sprinkling of coarsely chopped bacon  bits and dice Jalapeno.  Come on, how good is this: