Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Halibut fillets
  • 2 limes, cut in half
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 forkful minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to high. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the Halibut fillets. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Put the Halibut fillets on the preheated grill. It should take about 5 minutes on each side. When the fillets are done they should have grill marks and the fish should be flaky.
  3. While the Halibut is cooking, heat the olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook it until it starts to lightly brown. Squeeze the second lime into the pan and add butter and cilantro.
  4. Serve the Halibut with the cilantro garlic sauce drizzled over them.

Halibut right off the grill

Grilled Halibut

The complete meal

Cilantro Garlic Grilled Halibut

AKA – How to roast a whole hog in a La Caja China roaster.

Our first annual Father’s Day Friday went better than expected. We just started carrying the La Caja China line of roasters, so we thought we would give one a try. Our friends at McReynolds Farms provided us with a beautiful 60lb hog. After the Cuban style meal our Free rib and chicken classes went without a hitch. Except for the part where the smoker caught on fire. :-)

We got our first order of La Caja China roasting boxes in. They are very different than anything else we carry in the store. I have read that these rose to popularity in Cuba during the early 1900′s. Their brilliant but simple design allows them to be relatively inexpensive and cook food like nothing else we carry.

They really excel at cooking whole hogs quickly and in Louisiana where they have grown popular they call them “Creole Microwaves”. Normally a 60lb hog would take 8 or more hours to cook. Supposedly we were going to be able to cook ours in about 4 hours. If you don’t understand how it works, it may seem like magic. The principal behind the fast cook times are really very simple. The hog is placed in a metal tray in bottom of the metal lined box. Then a large metal tray is set on top of the box and charcoal is placed on top of that. The well fitted lid and the weight of the charcoal effectively seal the cooking chamber and create a pressure cooker large enough to roast a whole pig. In addition to the short cook time, the meat is super juicy and the skin gets crisp like bacon. The charcoal is only used as a heat source and is complete separated from the food. Because of this you can use really cheap charcoal. None of the binders or other chemicals will ever come in contact with your meal.

Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of the units, lets get into how we used it to cook a 60lb hog in 4 hours. Note: we did nothing other than follow the directions that came with the Model #2.

Here is the unit fully assembled. As you can see it is metal lined wooden box which has a metal tray that acts as a lid. In this photo you can see the optional wind guard (which we did not use) and an optional roasting rack for cooking things above the charcoal. If you use the raised cooking rack, remember to only use quality charcoal under it. The handles and wheels make it easy to move and when not in use it can be stored vertically. Just use a couple of bungee cords to keep the lid secure and stand it up in a some place out of the way.

La Caja China Model #2

On to the hog prep. Our hog weighed about 60lbs and was supplied by McReynolds Farms. When we received it the hair and insides are removed. It had a USDA stamped seal of approval and was inside of a plastic bag.

A day before the event Phil picked up our hog. We were going to inject and season it and keep it refrigerated overnight. Leaving it to soak up the marinade and seasonings always results in better tasting meat.

Holding the Hog

While we got the supplies and tools around, Mike glanced through the instructions and we were ready to get started in about 5 minutes.

redading-the-directions

Unless you cut the bag, removing a pig this big is a two person job. We did not want to damage the bag because we were going to use it to store the pig overnight. After a minute or so JT and Mike had wrestled it from the bag.

Taking the hog out of the bag

They manufacturers even paint the general cooking on the end of the roaster. The amazing part of cooking on one of these, is that it is really this simple. We only used about 20lbs of low grade charcoal briquettes to cook the hog to perfection.

Cooking instructions on roaster

While you can get hogs already butterflied, Mike wanted to try doing this himself. The first thing you have to do is cut the breast in half. This was fairly easy and only took a minute.

Cutting the hog open

Splitting the backbone so that the hog would lay flat was another story. It took about 5 minutes of chopping, cutting and slicing before it would lay flat.

Splitting the backbone

This is what the backbone should look like once it has been suitably split.

Split backbone

The next step is to inject the meat with La Caja China Mojo Cuban Style Marinating Sauce. It is a blend of Pineapple, sour orange juice, garlic, onions and spices that really help create that Cuban flavor we were going for.

We had problems with the sauce plugging up the injector, so we tried to strain it with a number of devices and finally found that the screen on the top of our OGGI Oil Skimmer worked perfectly. After filtering the sauce through the strainer the injector did not get plugged again.

Straining the marinade

Mike injected all of the large meaty areas of the hog and he used all 24 oz of the sauce.

Injecting the hog

After he finished injecting the meat, he sprinkled a heavy coat of Adobo Criollo on all sides of the hog.

Adding Adobo Criollo

Now that the hog was properly prepped they returned it to the bag and put it on ice overnight.

Rebagging the hog

Somehow I managed to not take any photos of the hog loaded into the roasting rack, but I will try and describe the process to you. You simply lay the hog flat between the two metal racks and secure them to each other with 4 S-hooks. The rack is then lowered into the La Caja China and the charcoal tray/lid placed on the roaster. We started a couple of charcoal chimneys up and in about 15 minutes had about 5 lbs of charcoal red hot.

10 lbs of unlit charcoal was spread out on the top of the La Caja China. Then the two chimneys of hot charcoal were scattered among the unlit briquettes and we were off and running.

Twice during the roasting we added approximately another 5 lbs of charcoal to the top of the cooker.

About 1/2 an hour before the hog was fully cooked the rack was flipped and the skin was sliced open in about 15 places. This last step helps achieve the fantastic crisp skin that is a signature trait of cooking in one of these.

Roasted hog in the la caja china

Shelton gloved up and help carry this masterpiece into the store for lunch.

Roasted Hog

That my friends, is one hell of a good looking pig. Great job Mike, JT and Shelton! At this point we were just hoping it tasted as good as it looked.

Perfectly roasted hog

One last thing about the La Caja China. The metal handles double as a place to set the hot coal tray when accessing the roaster. Pretty ingenious, right?

Coal tray resting on metal handles

The first wave of guests descended on the hog like killer bees on a landscaper.

First wave of guests

Once the first wave had plated up their lunches, this is what was left. Do you notice what is missing? If you guessed the skin, you would be correct. Everybody I saw, made sure they got a little bit of that deliciousness on their plate. Many people mentioned that they thought the crisp bacon like skin was best part. I think someone even ate the ears.

After the first wave

Part of our Cuban themed meal was Pinapple Avocado salad. Sounds a bit weird, but when paired with the smoked pork it was fabulous. It is a light, healthy side that has a citrus tang to it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 8 cups torn head lettuce
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 diced peeled avocado
  • Serves 10

Just combine all the ingredients and toss.

Pineapple avocado salad

After the meal we offered two free 1 hours smoking classes. The first was ribs and the second was chicken.

BBQ classroom

Our in house BBQ expert Sterling, taught the rib class. The feedback was very positive and as always the ribs turned out fantastic. Thanks Sterling!

Sterling teaching the rib class

I was a bit late getting over to the class to take pictures of the finished ribs. By the time I made my way over to the class this was all that was left of the ribs. Man they were good.

Finished ribs

The chicken class was taught by master barbecuer Michael Reimann. His years of experience, really made the class enjoyable and was full of great information. Thanks Michael!

All in all the day was a tremendous success. Thank you all for coming out and spending the afternoon with us. We look forward to seeing you at our next event.

Cheers,

BBQ Island

Pizza Dough Recipe:

  • Mix equal parts (by weight) water and flour with about a TBS of yeast.
  • Loosely cover and let it sit over night, or about 8-12 hours.
  • Mix in another TBS of yeast, a few TBS to ½ cup (for about 5# of dough) of olive oil, salt and another
  • 1 part flour.
  • Mix everything together and knead until it forms a rough but cohesive dough.
  • Let it sit, covered, until it doubles in size. Do this step in the fridge to slow the process and let the
  • flavors develop.
  • Knead the dough on a floured counter until smooth.
  • Portion into desired amounts and let it sit again- it should just about double again.
  • Press or roll out into flat, pizza-shaped circles and top with various pizza-like ingredients.
  • Bake hot and fast.
  • Pour a beer.
  • Eat the pizza.
  • Repeat if necessary.

Tomato Sauce Recipe:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp each:
  • chile flakes, oregano, sage, cumin, salt, pepper, anise, granulated garlic
  • bay leaf
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • Heat the olive oil and throw in the onion, spices and garlic. Cook until soft and brown.
  • Add the vinegar and reduce.
  • Add the tomatoes and simmer for a couple of hours.
  • Blend and season to taste.
Chicago Brick Oven 750 in action.Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Chef J preaching pizza.

Answering Questions

Dough balls ready to roll.

Pizza Dough Resting

Assorted toppings & cheese.

Pizza toppings

Tomato sauce, Pesto, olive tapenade, sliced onions, so many good toppings.Pizza Toppings

Seasoned Sirloin that was grilled up for the Philly Cheese Steak Pizza.

Seasoned Sirloin Steaks

Everyone got to roll out their own dough ball.

Flattening The Pizza Dough

Oh yeah!

Tossing The Pizza Dough

Thanks to all who attended the Pizza Class. It was the messiest and most fun class to date.

Buffalo ribeye topped with morel sauce, prosciutto wrapped asparagus and twice baked garlic mashed potatoes. I made adjustments to the ingredients once I cooked this. In the ingredients below I reduced the amount of shallots and wine and bumped the cream up a bit. While the meal was delicious, I wanted the sauce to be a bit creamier and more of a tan color instead of so red.

Steak and Morel Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 steaks – I used a buffalo ribeye and a beef filet
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 12 morel mushrooms
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 3 oz heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus Ingredients:

  • asparagus
  • prosciutto
  • olive oil or grape seed oil

Ingredients

Baked Garlic Mashed Potatoes Ingredients:

  • 4 Yukon Gold
  • 1/4 scallion minced
  • 1 heaping forkful of minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • salt and pepper
  • milk

Mashed Potaotes Ingredients

So you may be wondering what brought on this sudden interest in morel mushrooms? When I was in my teens we used to find them on our farm. My grandmother would just fry them in butter. We would eat pounds of them in one sitting. I moved away to Arizona and have only had them a couple of times since. Every time was in a restaurant and they were used as a topping of some other food. Non-the less it always took me back to waiting in the kitchen for my grandmother to set the first plate of fried morels down and we would attack them.

About a month ago I was planning a trip to upper lower Michigan. I was searching the Internet for things to do and see while we were there. To my delight I found out that Boyne City was having their 51st Annual Boyne City Morel Mushroom Festival. YES! Despite the weather the festival was packed. Short video of the event, I filmed. We picked up about 1/2 pound of morels for $20 bucks and brought them back to Arizona with us.

51st Annual Boyne Morel Mushroom Festival

Cut the Yukon Golds into 1/4s and them for 15 – 20 minutes. They should be fork tender.

Boiling Potatoes

Strain the cooked potatoes and let them sit for a minute so the excess water will evaporate.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Boiled Potatoes

Add garlic, butter and sour cream to the mixing bowl.

Mashed Potatoes Ingredients Added

Add potatoes, salt and pepper.

Boiled Pototoes Added To Other Ingredients

I ended up picking some of this milk up and decided to use it instead of the other milk I had. This stuff is crazy good. It came in a glass bottle with the cream floating on top. I will be getting more and try making butter with it.

Organic Milk

Pre-heat your BBQ grill to high.

Mix ingredients in mixer. Add a little bit of milk and mix until smooth but still stiff. I don’t have pictures of this part. Take the mashed potatoes and make 2/3 cup dollops in a greased oven safe pan.

Mashed Potatoes

Trim tough ends off of Asparagus. These were huge. They were as big around as my thumb.

Trimmed Asparagus

Wrap asparagus with Prosciutto, leaving the tips exposed. Brush the tips with olive oil or grape seed oil. This will help prevent them from drying out like mine did.

Place the potato dollops and asparagus on the center rack and cook for 20 minutes.

Asparagus Wrapped in Prosuitto

While the vegetables are cooking you have time to prepare the rest of the meal.

The Morels had dried out some, so I had to rehydrate them. It is generally recommended to use warm water, however I chose to use warm beef broth. It turned out to be a good decision.

Morels Soaking In Beef Broth

Peel and thinly slice the scallion. Only use half of the scallion in the sauce.

Sliced Scallions

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.

Melting Butter

Add scallions to the melted butter.

Add Scallions To Butter

Season steaks while scallions are cooking. As usual, I used Fast Eddies.

Fast Eddies Seasoned Steaks

Saute the scallions until they start to slightly brown.

Sauteed Scallions

Add red wine to onions.

Add Red Wine

Add Morels to the sauce.

Put your steaks on the pre-heated grill.

Add Morels To Sauce

Add heavy cream to sauce.

Heavy Cream And Beef Broth Added

Reduce sauce for about 5 minutes.

Reducing Sauce

Remove the cooked steaks from the grill and let rest.  Once the sauce is thickened plate the meal and cover steak with the sauce.

The meal turned out really great. Soaking the morels in the beef broth made them taste even more meaty than they usually do. The potatoes had a nice crust to them and I could have eaten twice as much asparagus. I liked them better than when they are wrapped with bacon believe it or not. The Prosciutto did not overwhelm the taste of the asparagus like bacon can.

Plated Meal

I was at a small bakery and came across pretzel rolls. They are basically hamburger buns made of pretzel dough. They had a nice hard outer crust and a chewy center. Huntsman is a combination of the English cheeses, Stilton and Double Gloucester. The two types of cheese are combined in alternating layers. There was a little leftover Huntsman cheese from the night before and I thought the cheese and the buns would make an outstanding cheeseburger. Turned out, I was correct!

I also had some fresh red onion and some wonderful organic beefsteak tomatoes that I picked up at a local farmers market. Here is what I started with.

Huntsman Cheesburger Ingredients

I used about 2/3 lb of grass fed ground beef. Grilled it to just under medium rare and melted the Huntsman cheese on it. The finished product tasted as good as it looks.

Huntsman Pretzel Bun Cheeseburger

Ingredients:

  • Morel Mushrooms
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Cup of Milk
  • 1 Cup of Flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter

I was at a friend’s house the other night and they had picked up a half pound of Blonde Morel Mushrooms at a local farmers market. They were flown in from Oregon. What a great find! They also had picked up a nice selection of root vegetables and some bone in rib eyes. (Sorry about the poor quality of the photos. They were taken with my phone.)

Half Pound of Morel Mushrooms

She first cut them in half and rinsed them under cold water. This gets rid of dirt and bugs that may be lodged in the holes.

Preparing Morel Mushrooms

She whisked together an egg and 1 cup of milk.

Whisked Egg and Milk

After placing the morels in the egg milk mixture she dredged them in flour that had a bit of salt and pepper added to it.

Dredging Morels in Flour

Some butter melting in the pan.

Butter Melting in Skillet

Over medium heat she placed the breaded Morels in the butter. It only took a couple of minutes per side to cook them.

Morels Cooking in Butter

Here is what they looked like after being turned once. About 4 minutes total cook time.

Cooked Morel Mushrooms

Here is what the complete meal looked like. Boy howdy it was good.

Plated Rib Eye, Root Vegetables and Morel Mushrooms

If you have never had Morel Mushrooms, I strongly recommend you try them. They are by far my favorite mushroom.

The shooter’s sandwich is a little known meal, that was originally prepared to nourish hunters as they went out in search of their prey. Its compactness took up less room and made carrying it easier. In addition the ingredients used, fared well without refrigeration. It makes a great snack/meal when spending a day at the lake or at the races.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Rib Eye steaks
  • Mushrooms: I used Portobellos but any kind can be used. I actually used two packages instead of one. 6 caps.
  • 4 Scallions
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic
  • Bacon
  • Deli Mustard
  • Horseradish
  • Loaf of Italian bread
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Butter
  • Parsley

Shooter's Sandwich Ingredients

Cube mushrooms. Chop scallions, garlic and parsley.

Chopped Ingredients

I cooked 4 pieces of bacon in the oven at 400 degrees. It took about 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them, because they can go from perfect to overdone really quickly.

Oven Cooked Bacon

After the bacon cooled enough to handle it, I chopped it in to 1/4 strips.

Chopped Bacon

I set the burner to medium and added a giant dollop of butter to my stockpot.

Dollop of Butter

Once the butter began to bubble I added the chopped scallion and garlic. I let it cook for about three minutes before adding the chopped mushrooms.

Add Onions and Galic to Butter

Once I added the mushrooms, it took about 20 minutes for them to cook down enough. I stirred them occasionally and got the grill fired up.

Add the mushrooms

After the mushroom mixture cooked down, I added the bacon and chopped parsley and continued to toss for another minute or two.

Add bacon and parsley

This is what the final product looked like.

Finished filling

I coated the two Rib Eyes with Fast Eddies on both sides. Then I put them on the pre-heated grill and came back in to prepare the loaf of bread.

Season ribeye steaks

The untouched loaf of Italian bread.

Loaf of Italian bread

I cut the top off of it and then hollowed out the bottom portion.

Bread bowl

I flipped the steaks once and let them continue to cook for about 4 more minutes, and then removed them from the grill.

Grilled ribeye steaks

I placed the steaks in the bottom of the bread bowl while they were still very hot.

Place ribeyes in the bottom of the bread bowl

Then you top the steaks with the mushroom mixture.

Topped with mushroom mixture

Followed by a healthy coat of horseradish.

Smear with horseradish

Cover the top of the bread with deli mustard. It seems like a lot but since the sandwich is so dense it works out really well.

Top with deli-mustard

Cap the sandwich and prepare to wrap it in butcher paper.

Ready to wrap it

Once wrapped in butcher, secure the paper with string. I probably could have done a much better job if I had an extra set of hands.

Wrapped in butcher paper

Then wrap the whole thing in a couple of layers of tin foil.

Wrap in foil

You now need to place a good amount of weight on it it. Many people suggest books, I decided to use my 80lb laser printer.

Set printer on top of sandwich

The sandwich was instantly reduced to about 1/2 it’s thickness. I left the printer on it overnight.

Being pressed

This is what it looked like in the morning. I took it down to the store, so the guys could try it.

Flattened sandwich

I guess it was pretty good, it only lasted a few minutes. The steak was so tender you could easily bite through it. When I make it the next time I will probably trim a bit more fat off the ends of the steak. There were a couple of bites that were kind of gristly.

Shooter's Sandwich

I first learned about how to make this fantastic sandwich from a Tim Hayward article. Cheers Tim!

Ingredients:

  • Smoked Beef Tenderloin
  • Italian seasoning
  • 0.7 ounce packet of italian dressing mix
  • 14.5 oz of beef broth
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • Garlic Salt
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Assorted peppers (2 banana, 1 green chili, 1 jalapeno, 1 habanero)
  • Hogie buns
  • Mozzarella cheese

Italian Beef Sandwich Ingredients

I had three chunks of smoked roast beef over that weighed about 6 lbs.

Smoked Beef Tenderloin

Since I planned on slow cooking it for a few hours I sliced it about 1/4″ thick. Wow! Does that look awesome or what? Yeah, I ate the ends right after taking this picture.

Sliced Smoked Beef Tenderloin

I placed the sliced tenderloin in to the slow cooker and added the beef broth and 1 cup of water. I think I my try some red wine instead of water next time.

Sliced Beef Tenderloin in Slow Cooker

I added the Italian dressing mix, garlic salt, ground pepper, bay leaves and Italian seasoning.

Italian Seasonings added to the Tenderloin

This is what it looked like about an hour after it started cooking. The house smelled so good at this point, my mouth would periodically start watering.

Italian Beef Simmering in the Slow Cooker

After the meat had simmered for about three hours I couldn’t stand it anymore and decided to make a sandwich. To make the topping I used onion, garlic and assorted peppers.

Ingredients for the Topping

I thinly sliced the peppers and onion and tossed them in a bowl with the minced garlic.

Sliced Sandwich Toppings

I browned the mixture for about 4 minutes over medium high heat. I kept moving it around so it would not burn.

Browning the Sandwich Toppings

I had preheated the oven to broil (500 degrees) and placed the buns in the oven for about 5 minutes. Keep an I on them. They can go from perfect to burnt very quickly.

Toasted Hogie Bun

I placed a good helping of the Italian Beef mixture onto the toasted bun and then topped it with the peppers and onions.

Add toppings to sandwich

Then I topped the whole thing with about 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella and returned it to the oven to melt the cheese.

Top Sandwich with Shredded Mozzarella.

I served the sandwiches with some juice from the slow cooker and a side of salt and vinegar chips. It was absolutely fantastic.

Italian Beef Sandwich with Au Jus

Ingredients:

  • Beef tenderloin
  • Three Little Pigs Memphis style rub
  • Olive oil or grape seed oil
  • Chili infused olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Asparagus
  • Butter
  • Garlic salt
  • Loaf of Rosemary bread

The beef tenderloin I selected was a little over 9 lbs.

Beef Tenderloin

I decided to use Three Little Pigs Memphis Style rub. I normally use Fast Eddies Steak Seasoning however a couple of weeks ago I brought a tenderloin to an event for our team snack on. I only had the Memphis rub with me as I was using it on the pork butts we were selling at the event. I was surprised at how well it turned out. Everyone really enjoyed and the compliments were numerous.

Three Little Pigs Memphis Rub

I had loaded the smoker with Ozark Oak hardwood charcoal and lit it. I went and prepared the tenderloin and then placed 4 chunks of Cherry wood on the hot coals. I set the smoker at 225 degrees.

Cherry Wood Chunks

I then placed the liberally coated the tenderloin on the smoker. I was a bit disappointed in the cut of meat. It had a fairly large split that I did not notice when it was in the packaging.

Beef Tenderloin on the Smoker

In this close-up shot you can see that I went pretty heavy with the rub.

Beef Tenderloin on the smoker - closeup

After about 2 hours the tenderloin was at 135 degrees in the thickest part of it. I removed it from the smoker, tented it with tin foil and placed it in a cold oven to rest.

Tented Tenderloin Resting in Oven

While it was resting, I seasoned the Asparagus with black pepper, butter and garlic salt. After adding a few tablespoons of water in the dish, I covered it and steamed it in the microwave.

Asparagus with Butter, Pepper and Garlic Salt

I set the second oven to broil and prepared the bread. I got out the trusty Misto and added about 1/4 cup of Chili Olive Oil to the olive oil that was already in the Misto.

Misto

This is the type of chili oil I used. It is pretty spicy, so a little goes a long way.

Chili Olive Oil

I sprayed the oil mixture on to the sliced Rosemary bread.

Bread Sprayed with Olive Oil

I crushed a couple of garlic cloves with side of knife to open them up.

Crushed Garlic Cloves

Rub the oiled bread with the garlic cloves and place the bread in the preheated oven.

Garlic Rubbed Bread

After about 5 minutes they were perfectly toasted.

Chili Garlic Bread

The Asparagus turned out really well also.

Steamed Asparagus

Wow! Look at that. I could have cut it with two forks instead of a fork and knife. It turned out perfect.

Cutting the Beef Tenderloin

You’re getting hungry, right?

Beef Tenderloin Meal