Thu Oct 31, 2013
The end of the Meatwave season, just because it's inevitable doesn't mean it hurts any less. In a normal year, the Meatwave would have been long put to rest by late October, but an Indian summer helped keep things going this season. I couldn't have been more grateful for that one last sunny, 65 degree day. It allowed me to put a nice footnote on the year by giving back to all the great friends who've been persistently supportive by grilling up a Thanksgiving meal done Meatwave style.
My family decided we're switching things up at Thanksgiving this year, and instead of turkey we'll be dining on a sweet glazed holiday ham. Needing to improve my ham cooking skills, I picked up a ten pound beauty at the grocery store that I let gently come up to serving temperature in the smoker, finishing it with a pineapple, Coke, and brown sugar glaze. Personal, I'm excited for this porky change to our turkey tradition.
I love ham, and the one I made was might fine, but this turkey roll really stole the show. I started with my favorite cornbread stuffing recipe, which was spread onto a brined turkey breast that was pounded out to a half an inch thick. The entire thing was rolled up into a woven sheet of bacon and cooked over indirect medium-high heat until the turkey was just cooked through. Man, this was pretty killer. Sliced into 1/2-inch servings, each piece had just enough bacon to give it a smoky and salty flavor that complimented the sweet and savory stuffing and juicy roast turkey.
I had made a second turkey roll that was a variation on this apple and cranberry stuffed pork loin. I swapped out the dried fruit for in season cranberries and tart apples, but admittedly, the dried fruit worked a bit better. It was still mighty tasty though, especially the thick sweet and tart cranberry glaze that was brushed on in the last ten minutes of cooking.
Another entry in the meat category, we were treated to homemade loukaniko—Greek sausage. Filled with pork, oregano, shallots, and other seasonings, this sausage was stuffed and air dried before being thrown into the smoker to cook, and then on the grill to crisp. It was finished with a red wine and shallot vinaigrette.
It's not a Thanksgiving meal without the fixins, and I offered up a bunch. They started with these twice baked pimento cheese potatoes. The sharp cheddar and roasted red peppers gave these an immediate pimento cheese flavor, but instead of mayo, sour cream and butter were employed to give the potato filling a rich and tangy character.
You ever wondered why you bake stuffing when you can just fry it? Probably not, but these stuffing fritters will certainly show you how great a batter laden with satueed onions, celery, and apple can be. Light and fluffy with a crisp shell and all the flavors of a hearty Thanksgiving stuffing, these were pretty kick ass.
One cranberry sauce apparently wasn't enough, I had to go and make three different versions for the meal. The one on the left is apple-orange, the middle is pear and ginger, and on the right is candied pecans. Each were good in their own right, and everyone seemed to form their own sauce allegiance.
Uncle Ho came with the greatest gift yet this week—peanut butter pie. When Pies n' Thighs first opened in their hole-in-wall spot in south Williamsburg, I had a peanut butter pie there so incredible that I've never found another that came close to matching it. Tyson's pie was the first to achieve, and best, that pie. I mean, how can you go wrong with a pie that was conceived as a giant Reese's peanut butter cup?
It was looking like this last Meatwave would be an intimate affair, so I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to have quite the crowd—with a lot of new faces too. I was bad at camera duty though, but did manage to grab a shot of Joe and his buddy (who's Greek name is escaping me, and I'd probably butcher the spelling of anyway) before they took off. If you haven't checked out Joe's Queen's-centric blog Chopstick and Marrow, you're missing out on knowledge from a man who knows the borough better than anyone.
Next we have Debbie, who I have to thank for that awesome KettlePizza that makes pizza so good I still can't believe it. Debbie runs a weekly dance class in Williamsburg where all you Meatwavers can undo the work I did with these gluttonous Meatwaves.
I was happy that Julian made it out to a Meatwave finally. We always seem to have competing barbecues, which keep him from coming to mine, and me from going to his. Unfortunately his wife, Tracey, couldn't make it, but Julian's buddy, and friend of the Meatwave, Chris did stop by, but I forgot to grab a photo to prove it.
Finally we have Uncle Ho himself, who's summer full of whole hog cooking has kept him away from the Meatwave. I'm hoping the off season might see Tyson transform his weekend hog cooks into a more permanent venture, because I don't how long I can go without some of that smoky and tangy pork.
And there it is, the end of yet another great season filled with meat, friends, and booze. I always start the summer with a hefty to-cook list, and I maybe made it about half way through what I set out to accomplish. That just means there's more reason to look forward to next spring when the Meatwave returns and we start cooking through all that's yet to be grilled and smoked.