Brine or not to Brine: the answer is … YES

Greetings Carnivores,

I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago called Brisket 101 for my buddy Steve and, he has since asked another question: To brine or not to brine a Brisket?

And, last week I wrote something I called The Grim Reaper tour 2016 and, the best Turkey you’ll ever cook where I mentioned the simple “Brine” I used to infuse flavour into my Turkey. My friend Gwennie asked me to elaborate on that one as well.

Well Steveo and Gwennie, two birds with one stone … here you go   🙂

When you introduce Beef, Pork, Poultry … anything really to a brine, something magical happens and it’s mainly boring old food science (Google it here) but, in essence the salt helps to prevent moisture loss. Moisture loss is inevitable during the cooking process so, if we can do something to slow that down … Hellllooooooooo brine.  🙂 🙂

I’m going to deal with Steve first and address the Brisket question.

When putting  anything in a Brine, not only are you adding flavour but you are essentially “Curing” it as well, and in the case of a fresh Beef Brisket, the end result (depending on the spices you use) is either Corned beef or Pastrami. Now, … before I have every Deli from coast to coast yelling at me, … there are many differences between the two but, it all starts with the BRINE.

Corned beef generally comes from the Brisket portion of the carcass, while Pastrami can come from the Brisket, Navel (Brisket Plate) or even the Outside Round.

The Brine I use for making both is basic and as follows:


Use these measurements to double or triple the recipe.

*Basic ratio: 1 Cup of water per 1 Tbs salt*


8 Cups of cold water

8 Tbs kosher salt (you “may” want to adjust the salt more or less to suit your own taste)

3/4 cup  Brown Sugar

1 level tsp per 5 lbs meat, Prague Powder #1

2 Cinnamon sticks

2 Tbs Whole Mustard seeds

2 Tbs whole Black Pepper corns

15 Juniper Berries

1 Tbs Ginger powder

15 Whole cloves

15 Whole Allspice Berries

5 Large Bay Leaves

4-5 Whole Garlic Cloves

Combine all ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil making sure all the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and shock with 2 lbs of ice.

When the Brine is COMPLETELY cooled, pour over the Brisket and refrigerate for up to 14 days.


I like to use 2 LARGE zip-lock bags (doubled) to make sure the meat is completely submerged and no leaks. 

Rinse, then to cook the cured Corned Beef, I chop the Holy Trinity of celery, carrots and onions and layer them on the bottom of a roasting pan to act as a rack for your Brisket to sit on top of. Next, you need moisture and water is a natural but, why stop there? I use chicken stock for added flavour or, even apple juice. Go ahead and experiment.  🙂

Fill pan half way and cook, covered for 3-4 hours at 300 degrees.

Now for Pastrami, it’s important to desalinate the meat before proceeding by soaking it in a pot of fresh clean water for at least 8 hours prior to rubbing and smoking, otherwise you’ll be drinking gallons of water after your meal.

The rub I use is pretty generic and goes something like this (you can change it around to suit you own tastes) and, depending on how large your piece of meat is, you’ll want to double or even triple the measurements:

4-6 heaping Tbs course ground black pepper

2 (ish) Tbs ground Coriander

1 tsp (each) Brown sugar, Dry mustard

2 tsp (each) Onion and Garlic powder

*you can leave any of these out EXCEPT the pepper and coriander*

Combine all the dry ingredients and rub liberally all over the meat and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Smoke indirectly at 225-230 degrees until the meat reaches what the BBQ gods refer to as the “stall” (150 degrees) then, finish by steaming it gently (covered) for 3 hours being careful not to let the pot boil dry.

There you go Steveo … let me know how you make out buddy.  🙂 🙂

Now Gwennie … my basic brine for poultry is as follows: (and the spices change regularly, depending on what I’m wearing)  🙂 🙂


8 Cups of cold water

8 Tbs Kosher salt

2/3 Cup Brown sugar

3/4 Cup Soy sauce

1/4 Cup Olive oil

1 Tbs Black pepper corns

2 Tbs Rosemary (fresh is best)

2 Whole oranges (halved)

2-3 Bay leaves

Combine everything in a large pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, remove from heat and shock with 2 pounds of ice.

When the brine is COMPLETELY cooled, submerge the bird and cover, refrigerated for at LEAST 24 hours or longer. If you don’t have anything large enough to completely submerge the bird, try using two oven roasting bags (doubled) and tie the bags off securely then place in a pan in case of leaks and refrigerate.

To cook, rinse thoroughly, stuff the cavity with oranges, onions, fresh thyme … whatever you like and cook, low and slow referring to this post: Carnivore Confidential

There you go Steve and Gwennie … please enjoy, like and comment … 🙂 🙂

Oh and, by the way … Gwennie, you can share this post with your peeps by following my Blog … otherwise, just scroll down to the “share” area below and “click” on the “email” button … that’ll take you to an email page and … share away!!  🙂 🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores but please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook


The Grim Reaper Tour 2016 and, the BEST Turkey you’ll ever cook!

Greetings Carnivores,

It’s been a couple of weeks now since we all celebrated the festive season with our friends and loved ones over some delicious food and drink. I know most of you have your own favourite recipes but, I just wanted to share a method I stumbled onto this year for cooking the best Turkey I have EVER made.

But before I get to todays CC offering, by way of reflection I wanted to chat about the year that was for a minute or two so, please indulge me.

Here goes nuthin’.

2016 has come and gone and I for one am NOT sorry to see it go. The Grim Reaper tour 2016, took sooo many of our music and big screen idols, heroes and icons it hurts just to think about it.

I am a huge, lifelong fan of all music. When I was young it was shocking and tragic for me to lose the likes of (in no specific order): Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, Cass, Moon, Chapin, Croce, Allman, Holly, Valens, Rhoads, Vaughn, Elvis and more recently, Michael (and THAT’s just a short list) of some of the musicians I loved and lost at such a young age to accidents and lifestyle foolishness.

But, this past year has been a different kind of “culling”.

In 2016 we lost Glenn Frey, David Bowie, Prince and George Michael to name a few off the top of my head and just last week, Carrie Fisher as well as her Mom, Debbie Reynolds. AND, let’s not forget the timeless and beloved Canadian music icon Leonard Cohn, all gone now to the “Bridge” courtesy of the Grim Reaper tour 2016. This has brought about a different kind of feeling for me … one of nostalgia, reflection and … mortality.

Here’s what I mean.

Losing my heroes when I was in my teens, and twenties was shocking and tragic because they were all so young and still had soooo much to give. I felt so “ripped off” that I never got to see the magic that would have been the rest of their collective careers.

Now however, with the exception of Prince … it seems somehow different but no less tragic, to lose the likes of these wonderful artists to (mostly) natural attrition … old age. Losing Prince (and Michael) to an accidental overdose was like a punch in the stomach.

I’ve never really felt or acted my age, and certainly never considered myself to be old (I’m Peter Pan, dammit). I always figured, hey … if you haven’t grown up by the age 50 well, you just don’t have to. Yet here I am, entering my 60’s in just a few short months, and staring down the barrel of my Golden years (I hope).

I guess what I’m trying to say is … I’m at the age where, for the first time in my life, I’m becoming acutely aware of my own mortality. How does all this tie into the loss of my music and big screen icons? Well, let’s just say that I’m very close to the same age as the ones we’ve recently lost and for the first time I’m thinking, wow … maybe THIS “Peter Pan” has gotten a little long in tooth. It doesn’t really “freak” me out … I’m just aware of it now and, I’m trying hard to live each day to the fullest.

But … I digress AGAIN.

What does any of this have to with the best Turkey method I’ve ever stumbled across, you ask?

Well, … nothing really. I was simply trying to figure out how I’d “frame” this offering for the ol’ CC Blog and, started thinking about the reason we eat Turkey at this time of the year in the first place, next thing you know I’m sharing my year-end review of sorts.

Ok, back to the meat …

Just before Christmas, I read somewhere (please forgive me, whoever you are for not giving you “name” recognition and credit for this … I just CAN’T remember where I read it) but … it goes like this: quite simply, the method involves cooking the Turkey at 170 degrees F for (get this) 17 HOURS!

I thought, I have GOT to try this and, I know what you’re thinking “what about making sure you kill any harmful bacteria”… after all, we don’t want to invite (click here:) “Sam and Ella” over for dinner with your family.

Well, this low and slow method requires FIRST blasting the bird at 500 degrees for one hour to make sure anything harmful is killed then, all you do is roll the temperature down to 170 and go to bed. I also used a digital temperature probe to help me “tickle” the temps on my prehistoric oven.

This idea is sort of like cooking (click here:) Sous Vide, where the meat will never over cook since it can’t rise above the temperature of the cooking vessel, in this case the oven at 170.

Easy Peasy!

I should say that prior to cooking, I submerged my bird in a simple salt, brown sugar, soy and spice brine for 3 days to infuse some flavor. Next, I did a little math to calculate when to put it into the oven. The day before my family came for Christmas dinner, I rinsed and prepped the Turkey before I went to bed then, I set my alarm and got up at one o’clock in the morning. I preheated my oven and blasted the bird, uncovered for an hour then covered it (I just used tin foil), turned it down to 170 and, went back to bed. Simple as could be   🙂

At 5 o’clock that afternoon I removed it from the oven to let it rest and … it was fall apart tender. I had no intention of even TRYING to “carve” the beast, opting rather to “pull” it instead.


I’ll NEVER cook a Turkey ANY OTHER WAY!

It was SUPER tender, SUPER juicy with a hint of salt, OMG … *insert mouth-watering here*   🙂

In closing, as we enter a New Year … full of uncertainty and hope for the future, I wish nothing but the best for each and every one of you. Live every day to the fullest and, be kind to one and other.

Oh, and please Reaper … lay off the Musicians … we’ve lost toooo many already.

Peace Love and Happiness Carnivores …  🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores but please, stay tuned and … please click “follow” on this page (Carnivore Confidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible.  🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook

Brisket 101

Greetings Carnivores,

I know I’ve been noticeably absent from Blogging for quite some time and, I really have no good excuse other than a complete and TOTAL writers block that only seemed to compound itself as more and more time slipped away. Spring turned into Summer, Summer into Fall and now … I’m firmly in the grip of another frosty Canadian deep freeze.

But, I digress.

My motivation for todays offering comes from my good buddy Steve. He recently purchased his very first electric pellet smoker and has been happily churning out smoked EVERYTHING from Ribs, Wings and Chicken to cheese.

Yesterday I got a message from him saying he wanted to try his very first Brisket and, was in need of some direction regarding what he should be looking for from a butchers point of view.

While I am “somewhat” proficient in the Smokie Arts (I’m not even HALF as good as my friends at,   click here: Patrons of the Pit). I do however, have some expertise in the explanation and selection of the Brisket.

Steve’s question was … “what am I looking for in a Brisket”


Well Steve, the brisket is a heavily marbled, fairly fatty, tough piece of meat from the front quarter of the beef carcass and, it must be cooked low and slow over a number of hours. This low, slow attention to detail, renders this tough cut into something quite magical if treated properly with love, patience and, SMOKE!

Ok so, the whole Brisket itself is rather large and consists of two muscles: the top muscle is known as the Brisket “Point or Deckle” and is heavily marbled. Separating the Point (Deckle) from the bottom muscle, simply known as the “Flat” is a thick layer of heavy fat.

In the above photo, the Brisket is laying with the “Flat” on top and the “Point” (Deckle) on the bottom. When cooking the whole Brisket, you’ll want to remove some of the heavy fat between the two muscles and, I always cook these with the “Flat” muscle side down on the grill. This will promote beautiful basting while the fat renders and bathes the Brisket in moisture.

I myself prefer the Brisket point only because all the buttery internal fat, when rendered over a long low cook is truly something to be savored.

*insert mouth-watering here* 🙂

That’s it for today Carnivores but please, for everything BBQ go and check out Patrons of the Pit … besides being excellent wordsmiths, they are legendary BBQ GAWDS! And, they’ll be able to send you in the right direction 🙂

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. And, … no need to worry about being bombarded with junk … WordPress is VERY responsible 🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook

Shrimp, … U10, 61/70, 31/35 WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN ???



Greetings Carnivores,

I’m often asked to explain confusing things and, one of the most often asked and confusing things is Shrimp sizing.

What do the numbers mean? What is the first number and what’s its relationship to the second? What does U10, U12, U15 mean?

The best way to explain it is … they’re sold by weight.

Quite simply, the first and second numbers refer to the average count per pound.

Small, Medium, Large, Jumbo and Colossal are not standardized “terms” so, it’s important to remember that 61/70 means there’s 61 to 70 shrimps per pound (these I would consider salad shrimp) and conversely, 31/35 ( 31 to 35 shrimps per pound) would be a nice size for Cocktail shrimp.

Also, when you see the “U” designation, in this case the “U” stands for “Under” meaning there are “Under “X” number of shrimp per pound”. For example U10 means there are under 10 shrimp per pound and these bad boys are HUGE!!

Shrimp are sold MANY different ways … Fresh, Frozen, Farmed, Wild, Headless, Whole, Cooked, Raw, Shell-less, Deveined  … you get the picture.

Keep in mind that this sizing method only refers to Fresh or Frozen shrimp in their shell on state, with their heads removed. Either veined or deveined … same thing.

Click here for a Shrimp sizing chart, kindly borrowed from the Seafood Wholesalers web site.

There you have it Carnivores … hopefully this explains and demystifies the whole shrimp sizing dilemma for you.

Now, get out there and throw a couple of jumbos on the Barbie.

That’s it for today, please stay tuned and, don’t forget to click “follow Blog via email” (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new … and, I PROMISE … you won’t get bombarded with spam. WordPress is very responsible. :)

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook


What exactly, IS Suet?

Greetings Carnivores,

I had an interesting situation come up the other day.

Actually, it really wasn’t THAT interesting but the woman in this scenario was quite impatient (bordering on being rude) to my young co-worker who, unfortunately didn’t know what she was being asked for. In this case she asked my co-worker for Suet and much to her chagrin, Hanna didn’t know what suet was.

My Grandmother used to always refer to beef fat as Suet. Bless her heart but, she was not entirely correct. Whenever the Sunday roast went into the oven, it always had an accompaniment of beef fat to add to the drippings for gravy.

The thing is … although the hard, white substance known as Suet IS fat, it ONLY comes from the area around the Heart and Kidneys in beef cattle and sheep, so … you see, NOT all fat is Suet.

Anyway, when I was called over to help out and … the woman asked me for Suet, I told her I didn’t have any but, I could get her some fat. Turns out she was a soap maker and was looking for as much as she could get her hands on.

Which brings me to the various uses for Beef Suet.

As well as soap, traditionally Suet was used in pre-Edison times for making tallow, a major ingredient in the production of candles. In cooking however, it’s widely used across the pond in Jolly old England but, not so much here in North America. It is used in cakes and pastries and also a major ingredient in the making of one of my favourites: Yorkshire pudding. *insert mouth watering here*

If you know a butcher still practicing the disappearing craft of processing the whole carcass, ask him (or her) for some hard, white Kidney Suet then, google recipes for using it.

That’s it for today folks, please stay tuned and, don’t forget to click “follow Blog via email” (CarnivoreConfidential). You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new … and, I PROMISE … you won’t get bombarded with spam. WordPress is very responsible. 🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook

Loss Leaders … the art of getting you into the store

Greeting Carnivores,

Recently, my wife and I were attending a festive Christmas party and a friend was commenting on my humble musings here at Carnivore Confidential. I love getting feed back and suggestions for future topics, and my buddy Drew gave me a great idea for todays post.

He was chatting about the HUGE difference in price from store to store for the same product … in this case, Prime Rib roasts.

Now, … as long as you are comparing “apples to apples” meaning, Triple “A” to Triple “A”, Double “A” to Double “A”, Prime to Prime, Select to Select, or Choice to Choice and so on, it REALLY behooves you to shop around.

ALL stores will do a fair bit of comparison shopping, meaning they will send their own people around to the other stores in the neighbourhood, to check their prices for “apples to apples” competitiveness.

Impulse buying is such a HUGE game in retail but … the store has GOT to get you into their location first, in order for them to be able to work their magic on you.


Much is made of “Loss leaders” in the retail industry, and it’s a very common practice in the meat business.

In case you’re not familiar with the term … “Loss Leader” refers to advertising a certain product (lets say Chicken Breasts) at a below cost price, to entice shoppers into the shore with the hopes that while they’re there, they’ll end up buying other high-end items at inflated prices … and in the case of Drew’s comment … Prime Rib roasts.

The resulting sales will overcome the “Loss” from the below cost item that got you into the store in the first place.

Like I said before, … as long as store “A”, store “B” and store “C” are all selling the SAME product eg: Triple “A” Prime Rib Roasts … you will generally see a HUGE disparity in pricing depending on who is offering which “Loss Leader” as bait to get you in the door.

Knowledge is power people 🙂

In closing, I want to wish each and every one of you a belated, very Merry Christmas and all the best in 2016.

Happy New Year !! 🙂

Stay hungry Carnivores and, please stay tuned. Don’t forget to click “follow Blog via email” (CarnivoreConfidential).

You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new … and, I PROMISE … you won’t get bombarded with spam. WordPress is very responsible. 🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook

Put Pork on your fork … the controversy continues.

Greetings Carnivores,

Controversy … it gets the blood moving, don’t you think?

Have you noticed lately, the foodie trend of posting photos or comments of what you’re making for dinner, or eating at the restaurant? There always seems to be great ideas for recipes and tasty looking pics everywhere you look.

I often draw inspiration for my blog posts from questions or comments I hear or read along the way and, my offering for today comes from something a friend of mine posted regarding medium rare pork.

John was outlining his menu plan for the evening with the centrepiece of the meal being a beautiful “Pork Tenderloin, roasted to a perfect medium rare.”

The resulting “Fire Storm” of negative comments he received re: the danger of eating pork ANYTHING but well done was impressive, to say the least.

So, … here’s the controversial part.

The danger of eating under-cooked pork was VERY real years ago, and our Great Grandparents and Grandparents needed to be vigilant about internal “done-ness.” Pig farmers and our relatives back in the day, were forced to deal with a pathogen called Trichinella Spiralis, which caused a nasty issue called Trichinosis. This was and potentially STILL CAN BE, a very real threat causing nasty round worm infections.

Trichinosis is caused by the ingestion of under cooked pork or wild game, that had been infected with the larvae of a parasitic round worm.

Thankfully though, todays farmers understand that this parasite is transferred to animals through poor feeding practices and exposure to infected animals, and with the highly sophisticated bio-security measures adopted many years ago, the presence of Trichinae has been virtually eliminated in North American farms.

I say FARMS because … Trichinosis is STILL a very REAL threat for folks who sustain themselves eating the flesh of “some” wild animals, particularly Wild Bear and Boar.

Those of you who fill your larders with such, please be careful and cook to an internal temperature of at LEAST 165 degrees F.

I have faith in our farmers practices, bio-securities and the agencies that are in place to protect our food supply, so I can say that I TOO enjoy my pork slightly “pink” and not over-done (unless we’re talking about long, low and slow cooking for shoulders and ribs). Please keep in mind, … I’M NOT talking rare but a beautiful juicy pink.

Let’s face it … the entire carcass (except for the shoulder, neck and belly) are extremely lean. Granted there is generally a heavy covering of fat under the skin BUT, the muscle is VERY lean, and this can equal a very dry end result if overcooked.

You folks have to be your own judges.

There you have it Carnivores, please stay tuned and … don’t forget to click “follow Blog via email” (CarnivoreConfidential).

You’ll get an email notice every time I write something new … and, I PROMISE … you won’t get bombarded with spam. WordPress is very responsible. 🙂

Until next time Carnivores, stay hungry and as usual, please follow my posts on Twitter @DougieDee and like and share them on Facebook