Saturday, November 22, 2014

Grilled Venison W/ Horseradish Cream Sauce

I'll be the first to admit that I am no hunter. While I would spend every waking minute on the water in search of that 10 pound walleye or 40 inch northern, I leave hunting to my old college roomies. They shoot it and I cook it is our agreement. After a few failed attempts with venison in recent years (and I do mean FAILED with a capital F), I decided to take a cooking class put on by the parks and wildlife association. Money well spent!!! I can now hold my head high and say that venison backstrap no longer intimidate me. Thanks to my buddy Doug for providing the venison.

  • Venison backstrap (Trimmed of silver skin)
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground pepper or Stubbs Steak Rub
  • 3 TBS chopped herbs. (Rosermary, Thyme & Oregano combo)
  • 3 TBS Olive Oil

Horseradish Cream Sauce (prepare day prior for best flavor)
  • 1/2 cup Creme Fraiche (or Mexican Crema)
  • 2 TBS Freshly grated prepared Horseradish 
  • 2 TBS Freshly chopped Chives
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon


Mix your chopped herbs and olive oil and rub on your venison straps. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight if time allows. This is also a good time to mix your horseradish sauce ingredients and chill. The cream sauce flavors need some time to blend. When it's time to grill, set up for direct heat. We want a high heat on these to create some nice grill marks. I also added some wood chunks to the coals to add some smokey flavor.

I let these sit out for about 40 minutes to get near room temp. I am not sure if this is necessary, but I did it anyways. This is also what I do when cooking a nice steak, so I figured it couldn't hurt. Just before throwing on the grill, I sprinkled with some salt and pepper. These are going to cook quick, so don't go far. Make sure you have a cold one handy along with a good cigar.
I was looking for a good medium rare, so went to 130 degrees internally. This only took about 4 - 5 minutes per side with the high heat. The back strap and tenderloins are very lean will dry out very quickly if they are overcooked, so keep an eye on them. Just like a good steak, there are only 3 ways to cook these. Rare...Medium Rare...Ruined. Once they reach the 125 - 130 degree range, remove from the heat, tent with foil and let rest for 5 - 10 minutes. This is a very important step. This lets the juices redistribute and keeps things tender. If you cut into things now, you will have an entire cutting board covered with tasty back strap juices. 

Now it's time to slice. Make sure you go against the grain to keep the tenderness. Cut into 1/2 inch medallions and enjoy as is or cover with some of the horsey cream sauce. It's fantastic either way. 

These didn't last long. They were super tender and had a great flavor. I will definitely be doing these again if my old roomies decide the can spare more meat. I'm very interested to hear how you cook your venison and would love some new ideas. Send them to me at  GO BLUE!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pork Tenderloin Sliders

I've been waiting to try this recipe for a long time and cannot wait to get going. I love a juicy pork tenderloin and can never get enough BBQ onions, so this one be a fun one. If you have a large group and want to feed them some tasty sliders, this is the one to try.



Preheat your grill or smoker to 250 degrees. If you are using a charcoal or gas grill, you will need to set it up for indirect heat. Click here for Indirect Heat set up. I like using fruit woods with pork, so I'm using pecan wood chunks for this cook. Pecan has a nice sweet flavor and won't leave a bitter taste as some stronger woods might do.  As the grill/smoker is pre-heating, take the pork tenderloins and trim off the silver skin. Don't worry, it's easy and only takes a minute. Silver skin is a connective tissue that has a shiny white appearance and only covers a small portion of the loin.  Use a sharp knife so you don't trim off a hunk of meat with it. Once this is done, apply your favorite rub. I love using Stubbs rubs/sauces for a few reasons. First, they taste great! Secondly, they can be found everywhere. I don't have to drive half way across the state to find em. Lastly, the Stubbs CEO is a Michigan Alum. That's enough to make me a loyal BBQ customer. 

I don't hold back when seasoning the loins as they can take a lot of spice. If you like some added kick, throw in a little cayenne pepper. Once the loins are seasoned, it's time to toss em on the smoker. I like to use 2-3 chunks of wood per hour. The wood chunk should be about the size of your fist.

We can also start cooking our onions and getting some smoke flavoring on them too.  Slice em up and add a few chunks of butter. If you want to add some rub or salt/pepper, go crazy.  I like my onions full of flavor, so I added a few spoonfuls of seasoning. Place the onions over the heat source and let em sweat a little while the tenderloins heat up. I used my new cast iron sauce pot. Very handy! Click here to get one.

Now we have about 45 minutes to kick back and relax. Take this time to enjoy a few of your favorite beverages or toss around the pig skin. Or both. 

After about 30 minutes, it's time the check the internal temp of the pork loin. If you are going to be cooking a lot of meat this year, invest in a good thermometer. My favorite is the Thermapen because it's accurate and SUPER fast! 

Once it gets to about 130 degrees, it's time to start glazing with your favorite Stubbs BBQ sauce. I love using Sticky Sweet or Sweet Heat for this recipe.  Time to Glaze!!!

The pork loin is done once it reaches 140 - 145 degrees. This should only take about 45 minutes with a grill temp of 250-275 degrees. I don't like to go much higher than this as it will start to dry out. Once the internal temp reaches 140 degrees, remove from the heat and tightly wrap in foil. The internal temp will continue to rise another 5 - 7 degrees while it's wrapped. This process will also help tenderize the meat. Once the onions are soft and tender, add a few spoonfuls of BBQ sauce. Cook them until they are fully sauced and thickened. It's up to you on how long to go.  After about 10 minutes in the foil, it's time to slice the tenderloin. You can go ahead and enjoy it just like this or make some tasty sliders. 

Toss a few slider buns on the grill to add some char and toasty goodness.  Don't walk away, it only takes about 30 seconds until they are done. 

I like to assemble the sliders and toss them back on the grill to melt the cheese. I wouldn't put them back over the hot coals, as they could burn. Use the cool side of the grill.

Once the cheese is melted, it's time to enjoy about 10 of these in record time. I think I had 6 of these tasty buggers in under 5 minutes. 

This recipe is a favorite at our tailgates and is super easy to make. These would also be great on some hawaiian rolls or chopped up in a tortilla.  Pork tenderloins are also leaner than chicken breasts, so feel good that you are being somewhat healthy to start the season. If you have any questions or recipe ideas, feel free to contact me at I love to discuss BBQ and Maize and Blue football. GO BLUE!!!!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Spatchcock Chicken w/ Compound Butter

So far, our Wolverines are struggling to get going and it's kinda leaving a bad taste in my mouth. We were able to pull out a win against Penn State, so things are looking up. I want to get some of that bad taste outta my mouth from a 3-4 start and I can't think of a better way than with a super juicy "Spatchcock" smoked chicken. This is my "GO TO" chicken recipe when I need to feed a group of hungry tailgating Wolverines and feed em rather quickly.  While I love a good Beer Can Chicken or a bird thats been brined overnight, this butterflied clucker could be the juiciest yet. The compound butter adds great flavor and keeps things extremely moist. I decided to try Juniors Rub Grub on this bird and it is delish! Give it a try. I will be doing a review on this rub shortly. It's a WINNER!

  • 3-4 LB Whole Chicken Fryer
  • BBQ rub of your choice. I went with Juniors Rub Grub
Compound Butter: Mix Together and set aside. 
  • 1 stick of butter (Room Temperature)
  • 1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ Rub


Preheat grill or smoker to 275-300 degrees and add some pecan wood chunks.  If you are using a gas or charcoal grill, set it up for indirect heat. While the smoker is heating up, its time to butterfly the yardbird.  Start by removing the backbone with a sharp knife or set of kitchen shears.  Once the backbone is removed, turn it over (Bone side down) and press down with 2 hands. HARD. We want it to flatten out a little. 

Once the bird is laying flat (breast side up), loosen the skin by sticking your fingers or a small spatula in between the skin and meat. Make sure you do not rip the skin. Once the skin is loosened, we can mix up our compound butter. I know a full stick of butter seems like a lot, but we will loose a lot of it during the cooking process.  Spoon in the butter and spread evenly with your fingers.

Once this is done, sprinkle to entire outside of the bird with your favorite BBQ rub. Don't be shy, sprinkle liberally. Place on a hot smoker and kick back for an hour. 

I let the bird smoke for about an hour before checking the internal temp with my instant read thermometer. We are looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees and some crispy skin on the exterior. The higher grill temp of 275 - 300 degrees will help crisp things up. After about an hour, your bird will start to darken. This is a beautiful thing. 

Once we have reached 165 internally, it's time to pull the bird from the smoker and let it rest. If you would like to add some of your favorite BBQ sauce before removing from the grill, go ahead.  You will lose some crispiness in the skin, but add some great gooey goodness with the sauce. Once the bird has rested for about 15 minutes, DIG IN!

The legs can be removed with a butter knife at this point. They are super moist and will be dripping tasty bird juice. Use a sharp knife to cut right down the middle of the bird and separate the breast meat from the bone. Or leave it on the bone. Either way is ridiculously tasty. You will be shocked at how juicy and flavorful this bird is due to the compound butter mixture. The skin is also super crispy and will crunch when you take a bite.  

This is part of a weekly series of tailgate recipes for Great site for your Wolverine football news. Check em out.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pork Loin w/ Mustard Glaze

While researching Rutgers and their most popular tailgating recipes, 3 common ingredients kept popping up. PORK......PORK........and more PORK. Since I couldn't get my hands on a New Jersey "Pork Roll", I went with the next best thing. A delicious pork loin fit the bill for this week's recipe. Yay PORK!!!!


2-3 lb Pork Loin (Not Tenderloin) 

Basic BBQ Rub (Equal parts)
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Granulated Sugar
  • Dark Chili Powder
  • Montreal Steak Seasoning
  • A little Cayenne or Chipotle powder if you like some heat
  • 1 HOT gallon water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
Mustard Brown Sugar Glaze:
  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • 2 TBS flour
  • 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 TSP Dry mustard


Mix brine ingredients and stir until seasonings are dissolved. You may need to heat things up in the microwave or on the stove to get seasonings fully incorporated. Allow to cool. Submerge the pork loin in the brine and refrigerate for 12 - 24 hours. A large ziplock bag works great for this or you can use a food storage bucket as seen below. The brine is a great way to add some flavor and moisture to a great cut of meat. Feel free to add different seasonings to your brine. The only basics are water, salt and sugar. 

Once the loin has been brined, it's time to set up your smoker or grill for indirect heat.  I decided to use my rotisserie for this cook, but it is not necessary.  I just like playing with my BBQ toys whenever possible. Score the meat by cutting crossways 1/8 inch deep. This will add a little extra surface for our rub and create some extra crunchy bark.  We all love some good bark. Leave the fat on the loin. Add a good amount of your BBQ rub and make sure it gets into the cracks of the loin. You can see the scored meat below. I went a little deeper than I planned on, but it still worked. If you are not using a rotisserie, just place the meat on the cool side of your grill.

We are shooting for a smoker/grill temp of 275 - 300 degrees. Add some pecan or apple wood chunks (Any fruit wood will do) to the lit coals and you are ready to go. We will likely be cooking this for about 90 minutes, depending on the overall size of your loin. We are done when we hit an internal temp of 144 degrees.

After about 45 minutes, you can see the pork start to sweat. This is also where the internal fat starts to breakdown and release some of our moisture. This is where the brine really helps. The loin has very little fat, so the added moisture is needed. Look at those tasty juices trying to escape. MMMmmmmmm.......

After about 70 minutes, my temp was nearing 140 degrees. I decided to make up a glaze to add another layer of flavor. Combine all 4 ingredients for the glaze and heat up. You can put the glaze in the grill/smoker for about 15 minutes and it will melt everything together. Once you get to 140 degrees, it's time to brush on your glaze. Brush every few minutes until you reach 145 internal degrees. Remove from the heat and tent with foil for 15 minutes. This allows the juices to settle and keep things tender.

After 15 minutes, it's time to slice and enjoy. These make great sandwiches as well. Not a bad leftover sandwich when you settle in for the NFL games on Sunday. This is one of my favorites and could not be any easier. Don't be afraid to cook your pork to MEDIUM. Even tho Betty Crocker of the 1950's recommends we cook our pork until it's void of all moisture, 140 plus degrees is perfect for this cut. ENJOY

This is part of a weekly series of tailgate recipes for Great site for your Wolverine football news. Check em out.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Smoked catfish

Bring on those Golden Gophers from the great state of Minnesota. Or, as they say, the land of 10,000 lakes. I wanted to venture out and try something new for the start of the Big 10 season.  Since I didn’t have any moose meat laying around and didn’t know if gopher was even legal to eat, I decided to try some smoked fish. I went thru the freezer looking for some walleye I had tricked into the boat last year on our Canadian fishing extravaganza but had no Luck.  The best I could do was a mess of fresh catfish filets a buddy of mine dropped off.  They turned out to be extremely tasty and will be a staple moving forward for sure.  Here is what you will need.

  • 1 Catfish filet (Per person)
  • Buttermilk
  • Hot Sauce (your favorite)
  • Seasoning (your favorite BBQ rub will do)

Cover and soak the fish filets in a mixture of buttermilk and your favorite hot sauce. I used about 1/8 cup of Franks Red Hot sauce and it came thru very mildly in the taste of the fish. Use as much or as little as you’d like. 

After 1 hour in the buttermilk, remove the fillets and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with your favorite BBQ rub. Don’t be shy!

Fire up the grill/smoker to 225-250 degrees. I love a good apple or pecan wood for fish as it won’t overpower the fish flavor. Set the grill up for indirect heat and add the wood chunks. Once the smoke is flowing, place the seasoned fillets on the greased grill grates and close the lid. This is a short cook, so don’t plan on going far. After about 30 minutes, check the fish and make sure you are getting some good color. You will notice the fish is starting to sweat a little. This is a good thing.

 After an hour, your fish should have a nice dark color with the edges starting to get a little crispy.  We are about 15-30 minutes away from a finished Cajun smoked catfish dinner. After 90 minutes on the smoker, you should be able to poke the fish with your finger and it will flake. It should still be moist, but have some flakiness to it. This is when its done. I made some red beans and rice (out of the box) as a side and added some grilled lemon juice. 

Thanks again for reading and let me know if you have any recipes to you would like me to try. I am always interested in new & tasty grilled goodies. Go Blue! This is part of a weekly series of tailgate recipes for Great site for your Wolverine football news. Check em out.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pepper Stout Beef

I have been wanting to try this recipe for almost a year now and I can't believe I've waited this long. I am now mad that I put it off for so long.  This was not only easy , but could be my new favorite sandwich. Thanks to Larry Wolfe for this great recipe.  Larry has a great blog at the WOLFEPIT.  Make sure you check it out. It combines everything I like. Meat, peppers, onions and beer.  Find something in that combo that is not good.  I dare ya.  It's not only tasty, but very versatile.  I love it on a toasted ciabatta roll, but could also be served on sourdough, hawaiian bread, french rolls or even regular hamburger buns.  Here's what you will need.

  • 4 lbs chuck roast
  • 3 bell peppers. (I used 3. Red, Green and Yellow)
  • 3 JalapeƱos ( I like it hot. Use 2 for less heat)
  • 1 lg red onion
  • 6 Garlic Cloves (Crushed)
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 12 oz bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
  • Kosher Salt and pepper 


Start with a 4 lb chuck roast and trim a little of the extra fat. If there isn't any extra, your ready to season it up. What a beautiful hunk of meat.  


Cover the chuck roast with salt and pepper mix.  I love pepper, so I went extra heavy in this area.  It adds a nice crust once the roast has been on the smoker or grill for a few hours.

How good does that look....

I smoked the roast at 275 for about 3 hours with 2 chunks of hickory wood.  This is not mandatory, but I love the hickory flavor.  Cook until the internal temp hits 165 degrees.

The WSM works great for this recipe

Time for that Hickory.

Smoke em if ya got em

While the roast is on the smoker/grill, it's a good time to assemble to the other ingredients. 

Cut up the peppers, onions, jalapeƱos and garlic and add to an aluminum pan along with the Worcestershire Sauce and Guinness. Mix em up and let them wait for the meat.

Where's the Beef? (I had to go there)

After 3 hours, it was time to take the meat off the smoker. The higher temp will add a nice crust to the meat along with a pink ring of smokiness.  


I want to dig in now, but we are still 3 hours away from greatness.

Ready for the veggies.

At 165 degrees, its time to add the meat to the veg.  

Don't forget the Stout!

Add and foil (Tightly)

It's like a perfectly wrapped present.

Crank up the smoker/grill or oven to 350 degrees and let go for about 3 hours.  This will make the meat super tender and keep the juices in.

After about 3 hours, give it a "Peeky Look". The meat should be fork tender and the veggies will be soft and juicy.  If you don't have a pair of "Meat Rakes", get some.  This is one of my favorite BBQ tools. They do a great job shredding and pulling pork and beef.  Go ahead and shred and mix it up.

Yummy Juice

Once the meat and veggies are all mixed up, its time to put everything back in the 350 degree smoker/grill/oven for about 30 minutes until the juice reduces by half.

I can't wait

After 30 minutes, it should look like this.  Grab a ciabatta, tortilla, french roll or just a fork and go to town.


I went with a ciabatta roll for this one.  I had some horseradish sauce in the fridge and decided to add this to the toasted roll.  

Overall, this was one of the easiest recipes so far.  It makes a great sandwich and freezes well. I look forward to making a few PSB tacos, burritos and quesadillas in the near future.  This is a WINNER!!! Please let me know how your version turns out.  ENJOY