Air Fryer Bacon

Of all the air fryer bacon recipes on the Internet, this is one of them.

I needed crumbled bacon for a breakfast recipe I was making. I couldn’t find crumbled bacon in the grocery store, so, I decided I would have to make my own.

Sure, I could have bought pre-cooked bacon, but who’s going to read a post about using pre-cooked bacon? “I opened the package and used the bacon in my recipe.” As boring as kissing your sister. Unless you’re into that step-sister porn thing, but that’s another post.

I also have a quirk about having to make one recipe in order to prepare the recipe I actually want to cook. I’m looking at you, Mr. Bacon and Egg Salad, with your bacon mayonnaise recipe that is required for the salad. Since air fryer bacon is just one ingredient, I let it slide. This time.

Actually, it’s one ingredient and one piece of equipment, the air fryer. And I just happen to own one. Behold the majesty of the Emeril Lagasse 4.8 quart air fryer, in egg plant.

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The Turkey Breast that Time Forgot

I was so excited about my bologna post, I forgot I also smoked a turkey breast that day.

The night before the smoke, I preped the turkey breast by injecting it with ranch dressing. Nothing special, just ranch dressing straight out of the bottle. I put a few squirts in a glass so I could fill my injector without cross contaminating the entire bottle with raw turkey.

I get real obsessive compulsive when working with poultry. My hands get raw from washing so many times, because I don’t want to touch anything and leave some stray poultry gunk to fester. Better safe than sorry.

I had some ranch left in the glass, so, I slathered it all over the turkey to use as a binder for the barbecue rub.  I think the ranch helped the turkey brown real nice as well.

One nice thing about smoking just the breast is, during prep, you can just use a big bowl to hold the turkey breast. No wings or legs flopping about to get in the way. When I was done injecting and rubbing, I just covered the bowl with foil and stuck it in the fridge. Overnight, the ranch absorbed throughout the meat.

I smoked the turkey the next day along with the bologna from the previous post. I put a can of Budweiser in the water pan. The meat probe of the Mighty Masterbuilt went in the turkey breast, since the bologna didn’t need monitoring. I loaded up the hickory chips and waited for the breast to hit 165 degrees, which took about 6 hours at a temperature temperature of 225 degrees.

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Hickory smoked turkey breast

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The breast browned real nice. It sliced well, also. The family thought it tasted good.

I like the combination of the barbecue rub with the ranch dressing and hickory smoke. The spice of the rub was a good counterpoint to the creamy-herby taste from the ranch.The hickory smoke drove it all home. I’ve used apple wood for smoking poultry. I like the fruity taste the applewood provides, but something always seemed to be missing. The hickory smoked let you know that, yes this was barbecued. After all the time and effort that’s part of what you want to taste.

My Bologna

The thing about any method of cooking bologna is, you really don’t need to.

Some time had passed since the last time I grilled or smoked a nice chunk of animal. It was my weekend, which falls on different days than most people, and there was a nice 8 lb turkey breast in the freezer. Planning ahead, my wife thawed the turkey a couple of days earlier. My weekend came, and I prepped the turkey breast for the smoker.

I really hated to fire up the smoker from one item, so, on my way home from work, I picked up a 3 lb chunk of bologna. Nothing fancy. Just plain Amish bologna. Why pay extra for the fancy stuff when the bologna was destined for the smoker?

A little mood music:

At the butcher shop, the gentleman behind the counter didn’t make a big deal about my request. I don’t know what kind of reaction I was expecting. The butcher probably gets request like mine ten times a day. I guess I’m just used to buying meat at the grocery store and getting what is available. I hear tell there are butchers behind the scenes of the grocery market deli counter, but I’ve never made any special requests. I may have to try it next time.

Or, on the other hand, just stick with supporting a local, independent butcher. Continue reading

Our Fourth of July Cookout

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We held a cookout for the Fourth of July for a number of reasons.  I actually had a holiday off from the Rocksino.  I was in the mood to do a large amount of grilling.  I didn’t want to waste a holiday off running to other people’s houses.  Take your pick of the reason that makes me sound less like an antisocial guy.

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Breaking out the toys for the Fourth of July

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I went all out.  I even created an event on Facebook inviting friends and relatives a few weeks in advance.  I think that is what surprised people the most – I didn’t leave the inviting to my wife.

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Smoked Pork Belly

My first attempt at not poultry in the smoker. And piggy nipples.

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I finally watched enough Steven Raichlen and Aaron Franklin to try smoking some of the bigger cuts of meat.  Pork belly seemed like a natural choice for a couple of reasons.  The pork belly is consistently the same thickness throughout the cut, which means no trimming and even smoking all the way through.  Pork belly is relatively cheap.  Not a lot of people actually know what pork belly is, so it is easier to impress  a crowd when serving.

First step, I had to obtain a pork belly.  Raichlen preaches “How your pork is raised is ever bit as important as how you prepare it.”  That makes sense to me, so I thought I would give it a try.  Fortunately, I live near Cleveland’s West Side Market.

pork-chop-shop

In the West Side Market, there is a stand called the Pork Chop Shop.  Ohio raised, steroid free, hormone free, preservative free pork.  There are other butcher stands at the market, but the Pork Chop Shop is the only one that is exclusively pork.  I figured I couldn’t go wrong.

I took my pork belly home and prepared it for the smoker.  The skin was still on the cut.  I wanted to leave the skin on for the cracklin.  I cut a cross hatch pattern into the skin to allow smoke and seasoning to get through to the meat.  Make sure you have a sharp knife, and keep the belly cold to ease cutting.  I had a chuckle while making the cuts because the belly came complete with two nipples, and I’m juvenile like that.  Seriously.  Piggy nipples. After the cutting was complete, I dusted both sides with my favorite rub, Pensey’s BBQ 3000.

porkbelly-1
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I started pre-heating the Mighty MasterBuilt to 250° and filled the water pan before preparing the belly.  I put the belly on a middle rack and loaded up the hickory chips.  Only thing left to do was wait.  And wipe up the kitchen counter.  And check the temperature on the meat probe when I added more hickory chips.  After a few hours, the probe hit 188°, and I pulled the belly.

porkbelly-2

The pork was good.  Nice smoke flavor without being overpowering.  Possibly the sweetest, tenderest pork I ever had.  I chalk that up to the Pork Chop Shop.  My pork belly was successful, but, it could have been better.

What will I do different next time?  I think I will go heavier on the rub.  I could taste the rub, but, not enough.  Despite the looks of it, pork belly is a big ol’ hunk o’ meat, and soaks up rub without remorse.  I think I will let the meat temperature get to 200° next time.  This is to render the fat more, and crisp up the skin.

I will be doing pork belly again, though, and it will come from the West Side Market.
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Soylent Green is… Tasty!


Listening to my John Coltrane station on I Heart Radio.

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I’ve been trying to eat healthier.  I’ve been having salads for lunch at work.  I try to work more fruits and vegetables in where I can.

There’s still the other side of the coin: cutting down on the less healthy options.  The Buffalo Chicken wraps in the lunchroom at work are always a stumbling block.  I will argue there is lettuce and tomato on the wrap, and its wrapped in a tortilla, and I skip the Ranch dressing, so, the sandwich is mostly healthy.  Even though the chicken is fried.  And the Buffalo sauce has a lot of butter in it.  So, it’s mostly healthy.  The trouble is, the Buffalo Chicken Wrap will be the sandwich of the week, so, I don’t have just one.  I’ll have at least three during the week.  And the lunch ladies at work make such a beautiful wrap, they put Subway and Chipotle to shame.

Where was I?  Ah, yes.  Soylent Green. Continue reading