Grain … the big mystery solved (I hope)

Greetings Carnivores,

Grain.

What is it, what does it mean and, why is it important to always slice meat across, or perpendicular to it?

Well, … I guess a good place to start today, would be to have a teeny anatomy lesson.

DON’T RUN AWAY OR STOP READING … I promise I won’t bore you to death but … this stuff is VITALLY important to your end game and that is … the enjoyment your steak or roast … whatever’s on your plate really.

Muscles.

ALL muscle is meat and, ALL meat is made up of tiny bundles of muscle fibers.These muscle fibers are held together in sheaths, and every muscle in every piece of meat is designed to expand and contract to facilitate movement and support.

I promised not to bore you so I won’t get into too much more chatter re: the anatomy of a muscle but, you already know (or at least you should) that it’s important to slice ACROSS the grain and the GRAIN, in this and EVERY case, refers to those bundles of muscle fibers.

Ok, … you should also know by now that it’s REALLY important to let your meat “rest” after it’s been cooked right? For those of you who don’t, click here to read a post I wrote a while ago about resting your cooked meat.

Now that your meat has rested, and you’ve given it a chance reabsorb all those wonderfully delicious juices, you’re wondering “which way does the “grain” run?”

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Image kindly borrowed from Canadian Living Magazine

As you can clearly see in the image above, the piece on the left has been sliced across the grain, and the one on the right has been sliced with it. Never mind the OBVIOUS “sawing” motion in the example on the left (I HATE “sawing”). With a SHARP KNIFE, … PLUNGE and pull back … PLEASE, for the love of GAWD … STOP SAWING when you carve.

Ok, … pet peeve rant over 🙂

Back to the important stuff …

The one sliced “with” the grain will be tough and chewy because you are chewing long, intact fibers, whereas the one sliced “against” (or across) the grain, the long muscle fibers have been cut into much smaller, more chew-able lengths.

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Kindly borrowed from Men’s Health Magazine

In the photo above you can clearly see the “grain” and the muscle fibers. (And … no “sawing”) 🙂

Like I said before, it doesn’t matter what kind of protein your dealing with … red meat, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, fish … EVERYTHING has muscle fibers and these muscle fibers are represented as “GRAIN”.

You know how cooked fish “flakes” apart? It flakes “with” the grain. You know how cooked chicken breasts “pull” apart in long stringy pieces? You’re pulling the muscles apart “with” the grain.

Get it now?

I hope this little diatribe has helped you to understand the importance of slicing across the grain … if not, I’d be happy to continue this discussion ’til we get it right. 🙂

I LOVE getting comments and questions so, keep ‘em coming.  🙂

Stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

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DON’T invite “Sam and Ella” over for dinner … Salmonellosis is NO JOKE !!!

Greetings Carnivores,

This post is answering a question for my beautiful, best friend Lynda who asked me a while ago …

“Why is Salmonella such a huge issue in restaurants?”

Ok so … the short (long) answer is this … restaurants or home kitchens … they’re all the same.

By way of a story (I LOVE telling stories)  … gather around children.

Here we go …

A few years ago, I was working with non-eviscerated turkeys. NASTY job … but, I digress.

Now, I know I have been accused of being long winded so, for your sake I will keep the graphic details short (er) for you.

So, … the shop was selling a LOT of these non-eviscerated  birds at Christmas … and we brought them in and sold them this way, non-eviscerated, head and feet on. Believe it or not, our Asian clientele actually preferred to buy them this way so, that’s the way we sold them. Anyway, the rest of our customers would ask us to ‘clean’ them.

Without going into a lot of nasty detail here, just let me tell you … I’d rather clean a toilet (with my bare hands) than clean a turkey. I don’t have a weak stomach but … it’s just not a very nice job.

And we cleaned HUNDREDS of them!!!

One afternoon after going home for the day, I noticed I wasn’t feeling very well. Thinking I was coming down with a seasonal flu bug, I started pounding the Echanicea and Vitamin C, followed by lots of fluids.

Whatever this “bug” was … it hit me like a sledgehammer. Within a few short hours I was feverish, projectile vomiting like the child from the Exorcist, had CRIPPLING STOMACH PAIN, EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA and between trips to the bathroom and laying on the floor in a fetal position, … I was crying for my Mommy.

Two days later (I think) , barely able to get to the hospital … I was EXTREMELY  dehydrated, couldn’t keep ANYTHING down and was STILL heading to the bathroom every 5 minutes, even though there was nothing left inside me.

Those blasted Turkeys got me … yup, I had Salmonellosis.

Looking back … I probably didn’t pay close enough attention to how CLEAN my hands were when I sat down to eat my lunch (best guess). Anyway, I lost ten pounds in 4 days.

The best part … because I had reported to the Hospital (not everyone does) AND, because I was a food handler, … I had to supply 3 (THREE) negative stool samples ( to be collected, by me … and sent to public health) before I could return to work.

HUMILIATING !!!!!!

But … there’s a lesson here for ALL of us …

I wrote a post awhile ago dealing with E. coli (click here),  and in keeping with the whole food safety topic, today (as per: my graphic Turkey story) we’re going to deal  with Salmonellosis.

Salmonellosis is an infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. This is another one of those nasty bugs that is present in the digestive tract of animals and humans and, it causes thousands upon thousands serious illnesses every year resulting in hospitalizations and even deaths. Like E. coli, it is a fecal contamination and … the crazy thing about this one (and many others) is … it’s TOTALLY preventable. With proper cooking procedures And correct hygiene, we shouldn’t have to worry about getting sick this way.

So, as you can see … restaurants or home kitchens, it just doesn’t matter. It’s really that simple.

Make sure you wash your hands, clean and sanitize everything (cutting boards, work surfaces, utensils) between species (poultry/beef/pork/lamb … everything) AND … cook to the proper internal temperatures.

PLEASE be safe people … this stuff is just common sense.

The alternative is … you TOO will get to spend an ENTIRE WEEK getting to REALLY know how your plumbing works (inside and out … if you know what I mean) … 🙂 🙂 🙂

Keep the questions coming in folks, if I can’t answer them, I’ll dig deep and find the answer for you !! 🙂

In the meantime, stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

 

Huerta Los Tamarindos … what a GREAT experience!!

Greetings Carnivores,

As you know by now, I was basking in the warm sunshine of Los Cabos Mexico last week, courtesy of my Spousal equivalent’s hard work. She and her team at GFS, out hustled everyone else in her region and won a sales competition. The reward for winning? An all expense paid trip for her team and their spouses to Los Cabos Mexico, where we joined winning team members from all the other regions across the country. I think there were 44 of us in all.

One of the MANY activities we were involved with, was a trip to visit an Organic Farm/Cooking School/ Restaurant called Huerta Los Tamarindos.

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The view from the terrace looking out over the farm

It’s rather difficult to put into words just how impressive this place was and sadly, some of my photos aren’t of very good quality (hand held smart phone … my bad) so please forgive me but, I hope you get a ‘feel’ for it.

We were picked up by mini bus for a short ride out into the Mexican countryside. Turning off the highway onto a nondescript dirt road, we travelled on what looked like a dry riverbed for a few minutes.

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Our host Enrique Silva

After a short bumpy ride we arrived at Los Tamarindos, where we  were greeted graciously by the owner Enrique Silva and offered a cold glass of (non-alcoholic) Lemongrass Iced Tea … oh my, DELICIOUS!!

This outdoor setting was reminiscent of a village scene in Tuscany, complete with prep-stations all around a couple of big BBQ’s.

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Prep stations ready for volunteers

After an overview of the Certified Organic farm by Enrique, we were split up into groups for various tasks. My group went for a short walk into the fields to harvest wonderful fresh Tomatoes, Onions, Beets and Herbs, then off to our prep-stations to chop and dice. Next, we were moved to another station to learn how to make the perfect Margarita using the freshest ingredients … to say I could have stayed at THIS station all evening is a understatement :). 

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The Carnivore with Enrique Silva

When Enrique asked for a volunteer to man the grill, I happily stepped up.

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Wonderful family-style seating for a FANTASTIC meal … prepared and enjoyed by all of us.

Wine tasting/pairing was followed by dinner, served family style and consisted of baked eggplant rolls with tomato basil sauce, Los Tamarindos salad, grilled local fish, chicken and pork, grilled vegetables, house herbed flat bread and fresh pico de gallo, finished off with heirloom plantain drizzled with Oaxacan chocolate and mango jelly with cheese.

Ya … I know … you’re drooling right??

Our perfect meal was framed against the backdrop of another warm Mexican sunset, just as a full moon rose over the landscape … does it really get any better?

Click here for a link to Huerta Los Tamarindos in San Jose del Cabo. And when planning your next visit to Mexico, include a visit to this wonderful spot … you WON’T be disappointed !!

What a great experience for a crazy foodie!!

Until next time, thanks for reading and following. Please come back and comment, ‘like’ and ‘follow’ my posts through WordPress, Facebook (www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential) and Twitter (@DougieDee).  I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.

I REALLY appreciate your support.

Stay hungry Carnivores 🙂 🙂

E. coli … now I have your attention.

Greetings Carnivores,

Food safety is the ‘Hot Button’ topic that seems to make sensational headlines somewhere around the world every week. Entire food production systems are frequently suspended or closed completely. The issue of food safety is always front and centre but, it’s important to note it’s NOT always leveled directly at the Meat industry.

In the early 2000’s a number of people in Walkerton Ontario (Canada) became ill and died. When the dust settled, the preliminary investigation revealed the outbreak was due to contaminated city water and NOT infected meat. A collective chill went down the spine of everyone who ever reached for a glass of tap water.

Mad Cow, Listeriosis, Salmonella, Botulism, E. coli, undercooked Poultry, raw eggs, mishandled Seafood, unwashed fruits and vegetables and NOW OUR WATER???

More recently, the XL meat processing plant in Brooks Alberta was the site of the largest meat recall in Canadian history, affecting almost every single retailer large and small, from coast to coast and abroad. The implications were so far reaching, meat was recalled from the four corners of the globe and resulted in the complete closure and ultimate sale of the facility.

Almost makes you afraid to get out of bed.

The purpose for this post is not to strike fear into your hearts but, to hopefully shed some light on this most difficult subject. Education is key to staying healthy and that’s hopefully where I can help.

Of all the food borne illnesses (and there are MANY), today I want to focus on Escherichia coli (E. coli)

What’s important to note here is that this particular type of bacteria naturally occurs in the digestive tracts of humans as well as cattle, poultry and other animals. And for the most part, it’s harmless. Some varieties of this bug on the other hand, can carry genes that allow them to cause disease. The truly nasty variation, known as E. coli 0157; H7 can cause severe stomach cramps, hemorrhagic diarrhea, vomiting and in some cases, kidney failure and even death.

E. coli is a fecal contamination which is easily spread to plants and vegetables through improperly composted manure and water run-off from cattle pastures.  Proper washing of all fruits and veggies is as essential as a good hand washing regimen.

The meat industry however, must be extra vigilant because processing is a common point of contamination during slaughtering. Fecal matter present on the hide at the time of harvesting and the contents of the intestines could potentially mix with the meat. This warm, moist environment then becomes an incubator. This is the reason ground meat is SO susceptible to this type of contamination. If any bacteria are present on the surface of the meat, it then becomes mixed throughout the entire contents of the grind.  Additionally, meat from MANY different animals are ground together resulting in the possibility ONE single animal could contaminate an entire ‘run’ during a shift. The line in a slaughterhouse is routinely shut down for cleaning but, it’s easy to see how one shift could potentially produce thousands and thousands of pounds of contaminated ground beef without knowing.

This is why it’s so vitally important to properly cook your ground meat. Cooking all ground beef and hamburgers thoroughly and, using a good digital read thermometer, will eliminate the organism. I know some of you like to eat your burgers medium but … I caution you … unless you grind it yourself, you’re rolling the illness dice.

Ground beef should always be cooked until a thermometer inserted into several parts of the patty, including the thickest part, reads at least 72 °C (162 °F).

Small tip when cooking ground beef patties: press your thumb into the middle of the patty BEFORE cooking. This will help when the patty swells up and ’rounds’ in the middle and … NEVER press down on the patty!!! That just squeezes all the wonderful juices out.

Similarly, steaks and roasts ‘could’ potentially be contaminated on the surface as well but, any outside contamination would be killed during the cooking process.

The meat industry is adopting preventative measures that include trying to reduce the number of cattle that carry the E. coli 0157; H7 bacteria through vaccines, as well as introducing measures that include the careful removal of the intestines AND a system of steam cleaning, vacuuming and using organic acid sprays on the carcasses BEFORE processing, in an effort to eliminate fecal contamination on the hide.

Keep in mind people … you need to do your part as well. When preparing meat ALWAYS be vigilant when handling cooked and raw products. The two should never be in contact with each other. Clean and sanitize work surfaces paying particular attention to cutting boards and countertops. When using knives or other utensils they must be washed, rinsed and sanitized between uses, paying particular attention to (again) cooked vs. raw product.  And always keep your food out of the temperature danger zone between 4 °C (40 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) where bacteria can grow quickly. Refrigerate, cook or freeze where and when necessary.

Another thing to keep in mind at this time of the year: unpasteurized fruit juices and ciders are commonly sold through roadside farm stands and Fall Fairs and should be avoided unless first heat treated to kill any possibly harmful bacteria that may be present. The young and elderly are particularly at risk of potentially serious food borne illness from consuming these products.

Ok so, now that I have completely ‘freaked’ you out, you need to know that the meat industry is one of the safest, most regulated, industries and the chance of becoming ill is slim.

BUT bad things CAN and DO happen so, let’s do everything we can to educate ourselves, follow good cleanliness practices including frequent hand washing and always, always cook things properly and observe the temperature ‘danger zone’.

In closing I’d like to stand on a soapbox for a moment, and ask a favour.

I always close my posts with the following paragraph: Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential.

I’ve been doing this for almost a year now and, been blessed with a great number of folks who have commented and ‘liked’ what I’ve written but … I’d LOVE to hear from MORE of you !! 🙂

If you enjoy Carnivore Confidential, may I encourage you to please, please consider ‘subscribing’ by simply initiating a WordPress username for yourselves. It only takes a moment of your time and it would mean so much to me to hear from more of you.  If you look at the top of the Carnivore Confidential page you ‘should’ see the word ‘Follow’ … click on that word and it should change to the word ‘Following’ and take you a sign in page for WordPress … add a username and voila … you’ll begin getting email notices every time I post something new. I can see on my ‘Stats’ page that I have folks from ALL over the world reading the posts I write and… I want to hear from YOU! By launching a WordPress username for yourselves, you’ll get notices in your inbox, every time I write a new post and you won’t miss out on a thing.

WordPress is an EXCELLENT site with an iron clad privacy policy and you’ll never get bombarded with unwanted spam or other crap. PROMISE!

Thanks for reading and following and … please come back and comment, ‘like’ and follow my posts though WordPress. I will do my very best to continue to bring you informative, educational and hopefully well written, witty dialogue.

I REALLY appreciate your support.

Stay hungry Carnivores  🙂 🙂

Pickling, Curing, Salting and Smoking … a primer for preserving food.

Greetings Carnivores,

I enjoy answering questions from people who have a particular meat puzzle. I sometimes hear from those of you who follow my Blog.

Today’s post is an answer (hopefully) for Teresa, regarding Curing salt.

I have been meaning to write about this topic but to be honest, I didn’t think it would make a very interesting read.

I guess I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not I’ve hit the mark.

Here goes.

For thousands of years people have been Pickling, Curing, Salting, and Smoking their meat, fruit and vegetables as a way of preserving and prolonging it’s ‘normally’ very short shelf life. I fondly remember my Mom and Grandmother, every Summer and Fall ‘putting up’ the harvest veggies and fruit. Making jams, jellies and pickles of all shapes and sizes was a real event around our house back then.

Sadly, today’s family has little, if any time for this tradition. Modern techniques have all but seen this form of home preserving go the way of the Pterodactyl.

Pterodactyl

Just wanted to help you out with a visual here …

Salting meat and fish helps prevent microbial growth by drawing the cellular moisture out of the flesh, thereby retarding the natural spoilage timeline. The salts used in this process are usually a mixture of Sodium Chloride (common table salt), Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite. The Nitrate and Nitrite are both forms of “Pink Salt” and are coloured so they’re are not confused with the common ‘white’ table salt.

Including smoke as an additional preserving technique, adds chemicals (depending on what is being burned) to the exterior which further enhances preservation and adds a strong depth of flavour. There has been some concern in the past that certain chemicals released in smoke are carcinogenic but, as I like to say … “everything in moderation”.

Unless you eat smoked or BBQ’d food Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner … you’ll find these levels much lower than being exposed to tobacco smoke.

A few words about ‘Pink Salt’ aka, Himalayan salt or Prague powder #1 and #2.

Past studies have raised concern regarding both Nitrate and Nitrite … I refer you to the following:

http://chriskresser.com/the-nitrate-and-nitrite-myth-another-reason-not-to-fear-bacon”

Don’t fear the Bacon people !!! 🙂

Up here in Canada, we’re famous for a particular treat, known around the world as, Canadian Back Bacon.

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World famous, Peameal Canadian Back Bacon

It starts off as a boneless loin of Pork. It’s then injected and pickle cured in a strong brine of ‘Pink salt’ and water. This process makes the cut product a nice looking, pink colour but the outside of the loin has a rather unappealing grey hue. To fix this problem, the whole loin is rolled in peameal (Corn meal) for looks more than anything else, VOILA ! Peameal Canadian Back Bacon.

For those of you who would like to experiment at home making your own Sausages or Cured meats you’ll need to source out your ‘Pink salt’. Start with the ‘net’ … you’ll find LOTS of resources.

Until next time Carnivores stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Champagne taste, beer budget.

Greetings Carnivores,

Back in the early 80’s I was a not so young lad, working my way through a four-year University degree. I say ‘not so young’ because I didn’t actually decide to go back to school ’till I was twenty-five.

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O’Keefe House … I LOVED every minute of my four years there!!

Money was very tight and living in an all male residence on Campus (ever see the movie ‘Animal House’? … THAT pretty much sums up my four wonderful years there) meant I ate A LOT of Kraft Dinner. (I actually owned a cook book called “101 creative ways to cook Kraft Dinner”!)

*sigh*

Champagne taste, beer budget.

Around the same time, an upstate New York chef, in the long-suffering city of Buffalo, did something in his kitchen that would change the face of every roadhouse restaurant, sports hangout  and dive bar north and south of the longest unprotected border … forever.

With all due respect, I say ‘long suffering’ because the city of Buffalo has been a perennial sporting Bridesmaid.
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The NFL Superbowl dance  from  1991 through 1994  saw the Bills come away empty-handed four straight years in a row … unheard of in Professional football.

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Their NHL Sabres likewise, were also Bridesmaids at Lord Stanley’s party in the 1974-75 season. But, … their most crushing, heartbreaking defeat was handed to them on June 20th 1999, when Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars scored the Cup winning goal … with his skate CLEARLY in Dominik Hasek’s crease.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda … who knows what the outcome of the game MIGHT have been if the refs had done the right thing, reviewed the play and seen what everyone else was seeing through the beauty of instant replay, … and disallowed the winning goal.

Never has the city of Buffalo been able host a winner’s spectacle, and sing “We are the Champions” while enjoying their ticker-tape parade through the streets, and proudly hoisting the spoils of their labour.

*Sigh*

Again … I digress. Back to my story.

The long suffering city of Buffalo however, IS famous for something.

The ‘life changing’ event in the kitchen of that Buffalo restaurant I’m referring to of course, is the lowly Chicken Wing.

Now and forever, … referred to as, …  Buffalo Wings.

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Brown sugar and Sea salt brined … ready for the smoker.

Back then, they were thrown away or used for making stock but … this guy thought to himself … “Hey, … I wonder what would happen if I deep-fried these things, added some hot sauce and, put ’em on the menu?”

Fast forward, and today you find the price of Chicken Wings ridiculous! Think about it … there are ONLY two on every bird. The popularity of this bar staple has now made supply and demand such that the Wing has gone from something restaurateurs couldn’t give away, to one of the BIGGEST sellers on ANY menu, in ANY roadhouse, sports joint and dive bar … coast to coast … bar none … period! Entire restaurant chains have been established SOLELY on the Wing. Bars proudly advertise “BEST WINGS IN TOWN”. Boy, … from such humble beginnings. Seems CRAZY huh?

When I was in school, Wing night (every Tuesday and Thursday) at a local dive, walking distance from Campus for us was Nirvana. Back then Wings were 10 cents each! Poor students like us could eat 30 of them for $3.00 and STILL afford to have a couple of beers to wash ’em down!

Being that I’m a smoking junkie (meat, NOT tobacco … or that other funny stuff) means that Wings are one of my favourite subjects.

Two days ago I prepared a brine of Brown sugar (1 cup), Sea salt (1/2 cup) and water (8 cups). To this tincture I added my Wings, sealed them in a Ziplock bag and tucked them into my frig.

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All set … LET’S SMOKE !!!

Yesterday, I retrieved my Wings from the frig, rinsed them with cold running water and sprinkled them with Clubhouse Wild Whiskey Smoked BBQ seasoning. I prepped my water smoker, sprinkled pre-soaked Applewood chips on the hot coals, added my Wings and called my fishing buddy Steve Agius (www.myfishpattern.com) to come for Wings, beer and the NHL playoffs.

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3 hours later, beer in hand, hockey on the flat screen. Does it get any better?

Life is good 🙂

Stay hungry Carnivores and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential

Don’t have a Smoker? You don’t need one !!

Greetings Carnivores,

I have written Blog posts about smoking, and the joy of eating food prepared this way but, I understand not everybody owns a smoker. Like I’ve said before, … smoking meat is a labour of love that takes HOURS and, I’m pretty sure not everybody shares my addiction. For me, it’s a bit of a passion. I read about it, watch it on the food network, and try endless recipes and methods in my smoker. I suffer TERRIBLE withdrawal when the weather turns cold because for every one degree drop in outside temperature I have to add 20 minutes to my overall cook time. Winter smoking (with my water smoker) is NOT very practical. I once put my very first electric (Little Chief) smoker in my living room fireplace, and smoked some ribs in the Winter. I wasn’t very popular at my house since the whole place smelled like a smokehouse for DAYS (I thought it was GREAT!!) My poor, long suffering Marital Equivalent didn’t share my enthusiasm however. Through it all though, … she  has endured all my successes AND even some epic fails.

Ok so, where am I going? Here’s the deal. YOU DON’T NEED A SMOKER!

Grilling with charcoal or briquettes is making a HUGE come back and, if you have one of these obviously you can cook/smoke with indirect heat, thus making your grill a wonderful ‘smoker’. BUT … for those of you who use gas grills, you can STILL achieve the same results.

I’m quite sure you’ve all heard about BBQ’ing Salmon on a Cedar plank. Have you ever tried it?  MAN … you’re missing out if you haven’t. But, … did you realize you can cook pretty much ANYTHING on a cedar plank??  The secret is … you have to use a THICKER plank for extended cooking time.

Seems pretty simple when you think about it but … the planks sold at any home improvement,  or big red box store (starts with a “C” and ends with an “O”) are fine for a nice Salmon filet since the total cook time ‘may’ be as much as 7 minutes but, probably no more that 12-13.

When using a plank for cooking, you must soak it for 20 minutes or so before placing it on the grill. Then, you get it rocking ’till it starts to ‘smoke’ (essentially it’s ‘starting’ to smolder) add your fish and … Bob’s your Uncle. 7 to 10 minutes later … NIRVANA!

The problem is … planks sold at the big box stores are EXPENSIVE! Sure, you get 6 or 8 of them in a pkg., BUT, they’re so thin you really only get (if you’re lucky) 15 minutes of cook time out of them before they REALLY start to burn so, they’re not much good for anything OTHER than fish.

Know what I do?

I go to the same home improvement store BUT … I buy a 10 foot, 1 x 6 cedar fence plank (for about 12 dollars) and cut it to any length I need, depending on what I’m cooking.

PLEASE, … DON’T BUY GREEN, PRESSURE TREATED FENCE LUMBER TO COOK ON … THEY’RE INFUSED WITH TOXIC STUFF TO INHIBIT INSECTS AND ROT!!

Ok so, since the 1 x 6 is SO much thicker than the cedar ‘wafers’ they sell FOR the BBQ … you can cook for MUCH longer. Back ribs for instance … cut the board to accommodate the length of the rack, weigh it down and soak it (use the laundry tub if it won’t fit in your kitchen sink) then, put it on the grill, get it rocking ’till it just starts to smolder (smoke),  add your ribs and Voila! Go pour yourself a nice Summer libation, take a chair (spray bottle at the ready) and enjoy the wonderful smells emanating from your BBQ!

Just so I’m clear … always keep a spray bottle of Apple juice handy (you can use plain old water but … where’s the adventure in that?). This serves double duty. First, it helps to keep whatever you’re cooking/smoking  moist (and sweet) and second, to quell any errant flames that ‘may’ want to caress the wood and burn your planked treasure.

Try your favourite Chicken preparation, Lamb, … you can even cook Burgers like this! The cook time will be much longer so please, make sure you use a good digital meat thermometer to insure the correct doneness … I don’t want any of you getting sick. 🙂

I like to transfer whatever I’m planking (except fish … it’ll fall apart) to the grill for some nice grill marks at the end of the cook … it just looks better.

There you have it Carnivores, now … get out there and smoke something. I love to read your comments and answer any questions you may have.

In the meantime, stay tuned and … please click “follow” at the top of the page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new.

Until then, stay hungry Carnivores and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/carnivoreconfidential