From Field to Table – Javelina
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I enjoy hunting, and in Arizona, one of the most enjoyable species to hunt is the javelina. Locals call them “pigs”, but most of us know that they are not related to pigs at all. They are their own, unusual species of critter. Some people don’t like how they taste, but I think that has a lot to do with how they are cared for in the field. If you enjoy hunting, you can read the tale of my 2016 Javelina Hunt HERE.

So far, I have had all of my javelina made into chorizo – a spicy Mexican (or Spanish) sausage that I have grown fond of since moving to Arizona. I think the next one I get though I will have made into Jalapeno Cheddar Summer Sausage – mmmmmm

One javelina’s worth of chorizo lasts me just about a year so I was running low and anxiously awaiting the call from my meat processor.

They mix the meat with pork fat to make the chorizon, and my javelina was turned into 34 one pound packages of yummy chorizo!

I cook it into chorizo and eggs, and then make breakfast burritos!

To make this, brown the chorizo. When it’s about halfway done, beat 3 or 4 eggs and stir them in and mix it all together. Cook until done. Some people add potatoes to the mix (papas)

The you roll into the burrito (clearly, I am still mastering this technique!) adding what you like. I often add shredded cheese and some salsa. My daughter likes just cheese. You can also add sour cream, or whatever you like…

Success!!

Review – San Tan Valley Barbecue Co Sweet and Spicy BBQ Sauce
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I met Dave Calvert (Kegger) at a recent Town of Queen Creek function where he had a booth next to the one I was manning. He was selling his sauces and rubs and offered me a taste. Wow!

San Tan Valley BBQ Sauce

I do a lot of reviews and honestly, sometimes they all start to taste the same. What I really love is finding a sauce that has: a) a subtle flavor I like; but b) can’t put my finger on

That was definitely the case with this sauce. Yeah there’s heat. It’s a delayed heat too which I always like… But there’s a tangy sweetness that you get right away, and gosh – you can’t figure it out! Finally I asked Dave and he told me – figs. Yep, figs. He has a fig tree in his yard and he harvest the figs and infuses them into his sauce. It works remarkably!

He offered me a bottle of each of his sauces to sample and I couldn’t wait to try it. That weekend I put chicken thoghs on the smoker, anxious to try this sauce and get the family some more of it.

As per my normal routine, I seasoned the chicken thighs several hours in advance of smoking them. I smoked at 225 for about 2 hours, getting them up to 155 or so internally. Then I raised the temp of the smoker and started basting them with Kegger’s Sauce; turn, baste, repeat.

I then pulled them off and finished in a hot oven, trying to get some caramelization of the sauce and some crispiness of the skin. This sauce was a hit. My wife loved the delay on the heat and loved the mysterious sweet. My daughter thought the heat was just right.

This sauce gets the “family seal of approval”. One observation we made is that the sauce is a bit on the thin side. If you like your sauce to be really thick, you might be disappointed. That being said, I liked the thinner consistency – made for a great basting sauce on the chicken.

The San tan Valley Barbecue Company is in San Tan Valley, about 35 miles or so southeast of Phoenix. The best way to contact Kegger and get some of this amazing sauce is to email him at santanvalleybbq@hotmail.com

Figs… whouldathunk?

Great sauce!

More Dutch Oven Cooking!
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I’m loving my Dutch Oven! Last week I cooked dinner again, this time a simple casserole with shredded cheese, sour cream, onion, hash browns and smoked sausage.

All of this stuff was mixed together and cooked for about an hour or so. The smoke flavor from the sausage permeated the dish with just s hint of smokiness. The cheese and sour cream gave it tang, and the hash browns cooked up just right – cooked through but slightly firm. I know this dish isn’t healthy but mannnnnnnn it was good!

Mmmmm… Pork Rinds
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I really need to thank Erin England from RMD Advertising and of course, the folks from Rudolph Foods for sending me a package of goodies in recognition of February being National Snack Food Month (yes, it’s a thing!)

Of course, it doesn’t need to be NSFM for you to enjoy fine products from Rudolph’s. Barbecue season is right around the corner; so are hockey playoffs. OK, well you don’t really need a reason…

Their pork rinds come in great flavors and they are always seasoned just right. They are light and crispy and always fresh. The best news? According to their website they have more protein than peanuts and zero carbs.

If you check out their website, they always seem to have a contest running…

They have a cool little section called the “Pig Skin Primer, and a nice page of Recipes too.

Seriously, got a hankering for something different? Find yourself a bag of pork rinds from Rudloph’s

Broke Out The Dutch Oven
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A recent hunting trip where friend RL Gray cooked Enchilada Casserole inspired me to break out my Dutch Oven. I received it for Christmas last year and had never used it. Like most outdoor cooking, food cooked in a Dutch Oven just tastes good! After a day of javelina hunting, we were tired and hungry. RL’s supper really hit the spot. It was so tasty everyone had seconds (even thirds!) and there was no leftovers to worry about.

I attended a Dutch Oven Class several years ago so I had some cookbooks. Flipping through them I decided Beef and Green Chili Casserole would be on the menu!

The casserole is created by building layers of corn tortillas, ground beef, green chilis and enchilada sauce, and cheese.

Then – it cooks!

After about an hour or so, I sneaked a peek. By now, my family was chomping at the bit!

After about 90 minutes or so, it was finally done, and it was amazing! Served up with dollops of whipped cream, it was really, really successful. I can see more Dutch Oven cooking in my future!

A Cookbook Review – All Things Jerky
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ALL THINGS JERKY: The Definitive Guide to Making Delicious Jerky and Dried Snack Offerings

I’d really like to thank the folks at Skyhorse Publishing for sending me a copy of this book to review.

From their Press Release: “Exotic jerky—wild salmon, buffalo, alligator—was projected to be the hot culinary trend of 2015 by Parade’s Community Table. ALL THINGS JERKY: The Definitive Guide to Making Delicious Jerky and Dried Snack Offerings (10/6/15; $14.99) focuses on 100 of the best tried-and-tested recipes from around the world and includes recipes designed for everyone from backpackers to country-living folks and from supermarket moms to the avid hunter and fisher.”

So, I’ve been an avid consumer of jerky for years, but amazingly – never a producer. The world of jerky, other than the “standards” – beef and elk; peppered, plain or teriyaki – I am a novice. I’m a bit sheepish to admit I was surprised there were that many variations of this yummy foodstuff. If you made a different recipe every week, it would take you two years to try them all.

Authors Andy Lightbody and Kathy Mattoon have really, really done a great job. Not only have they made available to us the full spectrum of jerky flavors, but they tell us how to create jerky. Whether you’re an expert jerky maker, or are brand new to the game, this should become your “go-to” reference; seriously, your jerky bible.

Smoker, oven, dehydrator – they explain how. They discuss food safety and what types of meat to use. They tell you how to store jerky, what accessories are nice-to-have, and what accessories are need-to-have. They tell you how to sharpen your knives, for pete’s sake!

How does Hawaiian Islands Ginger Chews sound? How about Cranapple Chicken? Tangy Sweet Salmon? Sweet Ranchy Cola? Not a meat eater? Don’t despair – there is a full slate of yummy veggie and fruit recipes too.

So, of course – I had to make some jerky to try the recipes. I don’t have a dehydrator so I used the oven method. I made an elk jerky and a chicken jerky. The flavor was amazing, but honestly, my technique needs work. My first batches were crunchy, not chewy. Next time the meat will not go as long, and at a lower temp. This wasn’t the cookbook’s fault though – this was operator error, pure and simple. I’m hooked to the point where I am going to be going into serious jerky production, in the future.

I used some elk to make Excalibur’s Western BBQ. This recipe had it all – sweet, heat (just a little), and tang. The flavor was awesome.

For my chicken recipe, I tried the Rosemary Tangy Lemon. Again, I loved the lemon zing, loved the tang, loved the herbal kick of the rosemary.

Chicken jerky “before”

Chicken jerky all done. OK – overdone. But still yummy!

Chicken jerky “after”

I’m serious when I say I’m getting into the jerky business.This book makes for a complete reference guide and at the price point – $14.99 – it’s a steal. Well done Andy and Kathy; well done Skyhorse!

Swimmin N Smoke Radical Rib Rub
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Every once in awhile, I’m sorting photos and come across some pictures I took for a review that never got posted. This is exactly that case. About two months ago, the last time I cooked ribs, I used some Radical Rib rub that was given to me to try by my friend Mike King over at Swimmin In Smoke. Mike is a champion BBQer and has put together an amazing line of rubs as well.

Swimmin In Smoke and some ribs

Mike’s rubs are always fresh, always flavorful and are always spot on. The Radical Rib rib is no exception. As you might expect there is some sweet, a little bit of heat, and a little “sumpin sumpin” that is hard to put your finger on but really adds a nice depth to the rub.

I usually use the 3-2-1 method on ribs. 3 hours in the smoke, then 2 hours wrapped in foil, and an hour on higher heat and basted with lots of sauce. I adjust the time on the 3 and 2, according to how the ribs are progressing. These ribs turned out great, and Radical Rib Rub by Swimmin In Smoke is a definite keeper!

Ribs all done!

Chicken With Knox Spice Chipotle BBQ
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A few weeks ago I was getting a hankering for some smoked chicken so I set some out to thaw and by chance, had just picked up some Kingsford Applewood Charcoal. When I’m smoking chicken I prefer split breasts or thighs. I’m always picking these cuts up when they are on sale. I rubbed the chicken with Chipotle BBQ spice from Knox Spice Co and let them sit for a couple of hours. I got the charcoal going and finally it was time to put the chicken on.

Just put on the smoker

I let the chicken go at around 225 for about 2 1/2 hours and it was almost ready to come out.

After a couple of hours

I haven’t had good luck finishing it in the smoker so I popped the two sections off, added some charcoal and turned it into a grill for the last bit. I hit it heavy with some sauces I was trying (nothing worth reviewing – they weren’t great), and turned it often over the higher heat. I must say it ended up pretty tasty.

I always have liked Knox Spice and the Chipotle BBQ is a great one. Bold but not overpowering, and lots of depth in this flavor. I recommend it!

Help Publish A Cookbook!
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If you enjoy foraging for wild mushrooms, harvesting wild berries, and preparing wild game in amazing ways – then you need to know about Hank Shaw. If you’re already a fan of Hank, then now is your chance to help him publish his next cookbook “Buck, Buck, Moose”. Hank has already published two great cookbooks – “Hunt, Gather, Cook” and “Duck, Duck, Goose” and I can’t wait to check out the newest one which focuses on all types of venison.

Icelandic venison tenderloin with mushrooms and blueberries.

Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Antelope, Moose and Other Antlered Things celebrates a food so important to humankind that many scientists believe it is one of the reasons we are who we are as a species today. We have hunted deer, in one form or another, since before we were fully human, and every culture in the world has a living venison tradition – from whitetail deer, elk and moose in North America, to red and fallow deer in Europe, axis deer in Asia, sitka deer in Japan, to the myriad forms of antelope and gazelle in Africa. Heck, even the native Australians hunted kangaroo, which has a flavor very much like venison.

Buck, Buck, Moose embraces that global heritage – and its modern expression – with more than 100 recipes ranging from American classics like country-fried steak to Southeast Asian curries, African favorites like bobotie, Chinese stir-fries, traditional European standards – as well as a host of completely original dishes I’ve created just for this book.

Americans and Canadians are eating more venison now than at any time in a century, and many are eager to expand their skills with one of the most free-range and organic of all meats. Wrapping your venison in bacon or dousing it in canned cream of mushroom soup just won’t cut it anymore.

Even non-hunters are starting to look at venison as a healthy alternative. Farmed venison can be bought in fancier supermarkets, and its high protein content, leanness, flavor – as well as the fact that deer cannot be intensively farmed like cattle or pigs – has boosted this market in recent years.

But the best news of all is that more and more people are taking up deer hunting as a way to take control over what they feed themselves and their families. No hormones, no antibiotics, no horrific farm practices.

Buck, Buck, Moose represents a guidebook for both the beginner and the lifelong hunter that will carry you from that moment in the woods all the way to the months of memorable meals that follow a successful hunt.

So? Are you ready? You can help support Hank and his amazing new book. You can get a tshirt, book or bumper sticker in the process. You can promote the benefits of hunting and the utilization of organic, wild, unaltered, fresh lean meat. Check out his Kickstarter video below.

The Bradley Smoker Cookbook
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I would like to thank Laura and Sara from Skyhorse Publishing for sending me a copy of the awesome book to review! ~DRR

So first off, I understand there might be a bit of hypocrisy associated with publishing a review on a cookbook, when I haven’t actually made anything yet. Let me explain! I’ve had this book in hand for a couple of weeks and have read it cover to cover. I just haven’t had the smoker fired up since I received it, and I don’t want to wait another week or two to post my first impressions. I will definitely post follow-ups, as I try the various recipes. The cookbook does include a recipe for Dragon Jalapeno Poppers, and I have made a recipe that is very similar – ABT’s Unveiled

From Skyhorse: New ESSENTIAL Cookbook for Hunters – With recipes including hickory smoked turkey bacon, and mesquite smoked cracked pepper and garlic venison snack sticks, and ground moose jerky, it promises to be an essential recipe book for hunting aficionados who want to turn their catch into a delicious meal.

The book even includes a “Bradley Bisquette Food Smoking Guide” that helps readers pair different foods with Bisquette cooking flavors. (For example, did you know poultry goes best with apple, cherry, and hickory flavors, while water fowl pairs nicely with pecan and whiskey oak?)

With original photographs and recipes for soups, vegetable dishes, salads, wild game, fruit, clams, and numerous other dishes, THE BRADLEY SMOKER COOKBOOK demonstrates how accessible the art of smoking truly is.

The folks from Bradley put this cookbook together with help from their ProStaff, and it’s cool that each person has a Bio and their own section. You can see these are normal folks with a passion for cooking and a passion for the outdoors.

The book is well laid out. The photography is superb and no photo is wasted – it either serves as a part of the instructions, or is a visual hint to what lies ahead, at the end of the process! The recipes are concise and the instructions are spot-on. Many of the recipes even include recommendations in regards to smoke/wood (i.e. alder, pecan, hickory). These aren’t “run of the mill” recipes. The recipes are easy enough for someone with basic skills to prepare, but elegant enough to put on the table as gourmet fare. I can see this book being my “go-to book” when I want to knock someone’s socks off! Also – this book is not a “How To” on smoking. If that’s what you’re needing, it’s not for you. It assumes you have basic working knowledge of how to use your smoker, although it does have a pretty good “Tips N Tricks” section at the end of the book.

Imagine some of these:
Smoked Salmon Puff Pastries
Smoked Corn Salsa
Smoked Chocolate Bacon Truffles
Cajun Smoked Catfish
Smoked Apple Slaw and Pork Shoulder Sliders
Smoked Scotch Eggs
Smoked Sea Salt Caramel

Lots of Wild Game recipes too:
Smoked Cracked Pepper and Garlic Venison Snack Sticks
Ground Moose Jerky
Smoked Bison Burgers
Wild Boar Hot Sausage
Jalapeno and Cheese Bear Bratwurst
Hickory Smoked Turkey Bacon

Trust me – I’ll be posting up recipe reviews soon but don’t wait for me. If you love smoking, and you love wild game – I’d highly recommend this awesome cookbook if you’re ready to move up to the next level. I can’t wait to get smoking!

Available at book retailers for about 20 bucks. ISBN: 978-1-63220-715-9; $19.99