Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pepper Jelly

At the end of any growing season, we usually end up with tons of produce we are desperate to find a use for. That's when it's time to have fun. A few years ago we found this recipe online for pepper jelly and it has become a staple in our pantry. Sadly, it's been so long that I have no idea where I found this. If anybody can tell me, I'll gladly give credit where credit is due. This is a great recipe. Even with hot peppers it is still nice and sweet. We've used it on every thing from toast to pork roast. It makes a great glaze. It's a bit labor intensive, but totally worth the effort. Give it a try. As always, notes are in blue.

Pepper Jelly

  • 2-1/2 cups finely chopped red bell peppers
  • 1-1/4 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/4 cups finely chopped jalapeno peppers (other peppers can be substituted depending on whether or not you want to bring the heat. Go banana pepper to keep it sweet, swap in a ghost pepper to really tear shit up)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 (1.75 ounce) package powdered pectin
  • 5 cups white sugar
  1. Get yourself 6 sterilized half pint jars. Just chuck them in the boiling water canner while you're working and all will be good.
  2. Place  peppers in a large, nonreactive saucepan over high heat. Mix in vinegar and fruit pectin. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil. Quickly stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil, and boil exactly 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off any foam (when it says 2 minutes it MEANS 2 minutes. I've ended up totally ruining jellies by screwing up the timing. Also, don't blow off the part where you skim the foam. This shit's an exact science, and you'll likely end up with syrup instead of jelly if it goes wrong)
  3. Quickly ladle jelly into sterile jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of the tops. Cover with flat lids, and screw on bands tightly.   
  4. Process in a boiling water canner for 5 minutes. Set on a rack to cool and await the satisfying clunk noise when the can seals. As always, check with the National Center For Home Food Preservation to make sure you don't accidentally kill anyone.
Good Times!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Potentially Irresponsible Hot Pickled Green Tomatoes

     It's the end of the season. That means I've got an assload of green tomatoes and I need to find ways to use them. Last year I made some chow-chow which I thought was absolutely nasty. Fortunately, a co-worker loved it so it all found a home. We really enjoyed the hot pickles we've made in the past, so we decided on hot pickled tomatoes. The irresponsible part came about when I decided I'd just chuck the bulk of my surplus peppers in with the tomatoes. I'm going to tell you right now, I haven't tasted these. They're canned and marinating for now. If I eat them, I'll update you. Just know that if you make these and they suck or make your asshole fall out, don't come crying to me. This recipe will yield a bit over six QUARTS of pickled excitement.

Potentially Irresponsible
Hot Pickled Green Tomatoes
based on a recipe from Southern Living Little Jars, Big Flavors

  • 5 pounds green tomatoes (cut medium ones into quarters, large into eights)
  • 2 red onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 pounds assorted banana peppers (sweet or hot, your choice) stemmed and sliced into 1/2" in rounds
  • 2 pounds assorted hot peppers (I went batshit crazy and did a mix of cayenne, jalapeno and Thai bird), stemmed and sliced into 1/2" rounds
  • 8 tsp canning and pickling salt, divided 
  • 8 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • garlic cloves
  • bay leaves
  1. Sterilize a half dozen quart jars. 
  2. Get a huge bowl, (I'm not kidding. The biggest you can find).
    That's right. We used a punch bowl. 
    Throw all the veggies in there with 2 tablespoons (6 teaspoons of the salt). Toss all that to get the salt incorporated. Wait about half an hour then drain off all the water that built up in the bottom of the bowl. Toss the veggies again to make sure everything is evenly distributed. You don't want a jar of one tomato and the rest hot peppers (maybe you do. HILARIOUS!) Spill some. Make a mess. Swear a bunch and curse ever following my blog.
  3. In a nonreactive pan, add vinegar, water, sugar and remaining salt. Bring to a boil until sugar and salt have dissolved. Lower the heat to low. Just keep the liquid hot.
  4. In each quart jar add a bay leaf, a couple garlic cloves, a teaspoon of mustard seed and a teaspoon of pickling spice. Cram as much of the veggie mix into the jar as you can, keeping 1/2" headspace. Add hot liquid to jars until veggies are covered. Make sure to keep that 1/2" headspace.
  5. Seal jars and process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes (as always, double check with the National Center for Home Food Preservation to ensure you're not going to end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit)
  6. Set jars on a cooling rack and hope you hear the thunking noise that lets you know the jars sealed. If they didn't you can either try reboiling them or put all the jars in the fridge for later use (don't be a dummy and put super hot jars into the fridge unless you're a big fan of replacing your shelves).
Good times!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Pork Hat Trick

     Man, do I love pork. I love pork in all its wonderful forms. It's so versatile; you can eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Granted, the same could be said for Cap'n Crunch, but there you have it. I have been wanting to do some form of goofy pork loin in the smoker for a while now. I figured pork inside pork wrapped in pork was the way to go. This recipe, due to time and labor, qualifies as a certified Pain In The Ass. Mind you, it's totally worth it. I apologize in advance for the vagueness about cooking time. If you're using a smoker, you've already committed to a big hunk of time. Just check the temp regularly. Throw some chicken on the smoker, too. That will be ready before the pork so you'll have something to snack on. See how I take care of you? What do I get for it? Heartache. You're driving me to an early grave.

The Pork Hat Trick

  1. With a fillet or other sharp knife, butterfly the pork loin. How do you butterfly a pork loin? Follow this handy link to a fine set of instructions (that I did not write). You should end up with a 1/2" or so thick rectangle of pork.
  2. Spread a layer of the mustard pepper relish evenly across the pork.
  3. Spread the pork sausage in an even layer over the relish.
    I suppose you could just chuck it in the oven and bake it at this point.
  4. Sprinkle with the dried rosemary. 
  5. Here's where things get fun. Roll up the loin, jelly-roll style. Then, wrap it with the bacon. Use what ever method you'd like for the bacon, weave it, drape it, you pick. Once you have the bacon situated, take some butcher's twine and go full bondage on that bad boy. You don't want it unraveling. Wipe down the twine with olive oil to keep the twine from burning.
    50 Shades of Pork
  6. Sprinkle the rub onto the roast. If you don't have Uncle Joe's you're missing out and will have to use something else.
  7. Get that bad boy out to your smoker. Smoke the loin until an instant read thermometer gives you around 160F. Occasionally spray the loin with apple juice to keep it moist. I smoked mine for three or so hours. Can't say for sure. I was drinking. Time may depend on how hot your smoker is running. Alternately, throw it in the oven at 375F until the desired temp is reached. 
  8. Once the desired internal temperature is reached, take it off the heat and let it rest for 10-15 minutes. It's been through a lot and needs time to collect itself. Congratulate yourself on a job well done with your sixth Jim Beam and Mr. Pibb of the day.
  9. After resting, slice that bastard up and eat until you're sick. Which is entirely possible if you didn't cook it long enough.
Good times!