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

Swimmin In Smoke – Chik Bait
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I’d really like to thank Mike King from Swimmin N Smoke for spending the better part of an evening with me and talking about BBQ. Mike started making his own rubs after he entered the realm of Competition BBQ. The ones he was using just weren’t exactly to his taste, so he took a crack at making his own. Now he’s making and packaging a bunch of different styles and shipping them all over. His house was full of product ready to ship – I’d say he’s on to something! Mike gave me a bunch of his rubs to try and the first one I took a crack at was Chik Bait, and Mike gave me a recipe to go along with it.

The rub is fresh, colorful and has a lot of different flavor profiles. Salt, pepper and garlic for sure – but there is some other goodness in there too.

So, Mike gave me his chicken recipe and I couldn’t think of a better way to try. I did depart a bit from my norm – I didn’t smoke this chicken, but baked in the oven.

SinS Kick-en Chicken

4 bone-in, skin on, chicken thighs (or preferred cut)
2 Tbsp Swimmin in Smoke Chik Bait
1 Tbsp Swimmin in Smoke Hot Chik Bait
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Scallions
4 Tbsp Beer

Mix all ingredients in a Ziploc bag
Put in refrigerator for at least 2 hours (I think I went about 4)
Mix occasionally
Grill or bake to your liking
(Discard remaining marinade)

So when Mike gave me this recipe he said “It’s the red wine vinegar. It gives it an amazing tang”. Well, Mike was right. This could possibly be some of the best chicken I have made. The flavors were amazing.That red wine vinegar is indeed, a magical potion in this particular recipe. Now to be clear, I am not much of a chicken guy. I like fried chicken, roast chicken, and chicken when it is in something (i.e. burrito). I’m not usually partial to chicken stew, fricassee, baked chicken, even chicken soup to me, is “Meh”. Mike’s chicken was amazing. The only thing I will do differently next time is cook it differently so I can get more crispiness.

I can’t wait to try the rest of the products from Swimmin In Smoke! You can learn more about Mike and his crew here: About Us – SnS

Check them out on Facebook here: SnS Facebook

Hak’s Habanero Pineapple BBQ Sauce
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So I bought this myself, needing some BBQ sauce for Superbowl Sunday. Hak’s is fairly well-known, and having reviewed a bunch of sauces over the years, I am always looking for something different, and Habanero Pineapple seemed like just the thing!

So we’ve used it a few times on different types of meat and I’ve gotta say – it’s OK. Yup, that’s it – “OK”. Not a bad sauce, but nothing that got me all excited to write a review. My wife thought it had a weird after taste. The heat of the Habanero was there definitely, but honestly – neither of us could taste the pineapple. I love pineapple so I was hoping for that flavor to shine through more than it did. When all was said and done, this particular flavor of Hak’s tasted like a generic, hot BBQ sauce. Not bad, not awesome.

Seriously, Hak’s has a great reputation and this is the only flavor I have tried so now I am wanting to pick up another one to see if it fares any better. I guess after awhile, a lot of sauces start to taste the same and I begin to look for something special or unusual. I’ve done reviews on sauces from folks no one has ever heard of – that knocked my socks off. I bought this (it wasn’t sent free, for a review) for $8 which is high, to me. I wouldn’t spend that much again for this flavor…

Backwoods Mustard Review
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I found a jalapeno mustard a couple of years ago that I liked but it went out of stock and I haven’t been able to get it since. I was delighted when the folks at Backwoods Mustard offered to send me a bottle of theirs to review!

From their site: “Backwoods Mustard Company creates Michigan-made craft mustard utilizing family recipes with a focus on tradition, Michigan, and the Great Outdoors.

Launching commercially in June of 2013, Backwoods Mustard can now be found in over 125 retail stores, restaurants, and breweries. Our product is unique in that our recipes are old family hunt camp recipes dating back two generations. Because of that our products are geared toward Michigan, tradition, and the Great Outdoors.”

Backwoods deviates a bit from more traditional jalapeno mustards in that it has a bit of sweetness to it. Not sickeningly sweet – just a touch of sweetness. The jalapeno is just right, especially for a gringo like me. There’s a bit of heat there, but it’s not “knock your face off” hot. It’s perfect for rookies who like some heat, but not too much.

The mustard has a tang, and a great consistency. It’s sort of sticky, what you might expect with some sweetness. After a couple of years unable to find a jalapeno mustard that I liked, I think I’ve finally got the perfect condiment. Sweet, bright, tangy with enough heat to make you smack your lips, but not so much to make your eyes water. This stuff is just right.

You can learn more here: About Backwoods

You can find some AMAZING recipes here: Backwoods recipes

Backwoods Mustard has wholesale pricing available and is happy to provide several product options to retail stores, restaurant, breweries, etc. Contact them for more info.

Review – Coshell Charcoal
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If you didn’t read my interview with Shawn from Coshell Charcoal be sure to jump over there and have a look! I had to hit a couple of places but I finally found some at the local Albertson’s here in Queen Creek.

Coshell’s website claims that their charcoal burns “Cleaner, Hotter & Longer” and also that it is “petroleum free” and “better tasting”. I wanted to see if there was a difference between Coshell’s product and my usual product.

I used this charcoal to smoke my Christmas Day Turkey Breast. It was kind of a cold day with a brisk breeze that was coming and going. It took a bit to get the charcoal lit in my chimney starter but once I got the smoker rolling, I must say – I was impressed.

Normally on a day that cool, I would’ve struggled to keep the temp up. Not so that day. Also, for a 4-5 hour smoke, I usually would add some charcoal at least once. That day I didn’t need to. That tells me that for my review at least, their charcoal did burn “hotter and longer”. Also, there was really no odor whatsoever from the charcoal. I guess that satisfies “cleaner” too.

I must say that overall, I was happy with the Coshell’s charcoal! The price was about the same as competing brands of “regular” charcoal. It burned hotter, but not crazily so. There was no odor at all. Plus, there is the added satisfaction of using a more environmentally-friendly product. I think this might be my new “go to” charcoal.

ThermaPen Review
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I really need to thank Jesse from Thermoworks.com for sending along a Superfast Thermapen for me to try out.

According to the Thermoworks website:

Made by Hand in England, the Thermapen is faster and more accurate than any other cooking thermometer on the market. Competitors have tried to copy the Thermapen with mass-produced products made in China and have flooded the housewares market with slower, less-accurate knock-offs. However, when compared to true competing commercial thermocouple thermometers, the Thermapen is not only faster and more accurate, it’s also less expensive!

The Thermapen’s speed and accuracy will reveal more about food and cooking techniques than you ever imagined. You’ll learn that temperatures are always changing; a roast is never the same temperature throughout while cooking. If you want to know what’s really going on, get a Thermapen.

I can tell you that indeed, this thermometer is superfast – it’s almost instantaneous. I compared it side-by-side with another thermometer and there was no contest. The other thermometer took about 20 seconds to get a stabilized reading. The Thermapen took less than 3 seconds! This particular model runs about $90 and boasts the following characteristics:

3-second readings!
High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)
Water-resistant design
°F to °C reconfigurable
Auto on/off—no buttons!
1,500 hour battery life

The probe on this unit easily wipes clean.It folds up conveniently to protect the probe and comes in a bunch of cool colors. It seems to be tough (I inadvertently dropped it, with no apparent ill effects) and it shuts off automatically. It comes with an extensive (and very interesting!) User’s Manual and even a Certificate of Calibration. This is a professional instrument that won’t break the bank.

What an awesome product!