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Opinions please... Buying my 1st smoker!

Thanks for the help everyone! I'll be ordering my WSM shortly!

Jan 27, 2008
jmunn in Cookware

Opinions please... Buying my 1st smoker!

Thanks for the feedback. I checked a few stores today. No WSM, but I saw a Brinkmann model for $50 at Lowe's that looked similar to the WSM.

Jan 24, 2008
jmunn in Cookware

Opinions please... Buying my 1st smoker!

From my reading around here, it looks like I'm going with the Weber Smokey Mountain. I've been doing my ribs and pulled pork dutch oven style but am eager to start smokin'. Please offer your advice and experiences so I get the right product. Thanks in advance. Oh yeah... I'm not going over $300.

Jan 24, 2008
jmunn in Cookware

How Long to Roast a Pork Loin?

Just did a 4.5 lb. loin at 300 F. Checked it after 2 hours --> Internal temp 185 F!!!!!!!!!

Dec 19, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

How long does it really take to braise short ribs?

I'm amazed at the high temp recommendations. I just did short rib in my dutch oven at 200F for about 3 1/2 hrs. They're fork tender now, and I'm going to refrigerate them and heat them back up tomorrow.

Oct 29, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Cast Iron Confusion

Well, I seem to have finally gotten it right. I did some serious stripping of the dutch oven. I used some Easy Off oven cleaner as well as Barkeepers Friend. It's amazing how quickly rust forms on stripped cast iron. It became a speed test between the scrubbing/rinsing and the oil application.

I applied a layer of crisco vegetable shortening and placed in the oven at 400F for a little less than 2 hrs, then did three layers of lard at 400F for about the same time for each application. I also fried a bunch of bacon in-between a couple of the lard layers. It's almost black now and has a great glossy-ness to it. I'm also happy that the seasoning layer is solid. The pre-seasoning that came on could be scratched of by my fingernails. It's like I have a nice lard enamel now. When I have rinsed it, water beads up on top of the seasoning. Finally... Success!!!

Some advice to those with seasoning troubles... It seems that going with a set time in the oven is not the way to go. Wait until no smoke is being generated, then either turn off the oven, or apply more oil/lard. I was attempting to use specific instructions reguarding time and temp, but it seems to be something you need to get a feel for.

Oct 25, 2007
jmunn in Cookware

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

I used a rub like last time. After 24hrs. I made a thick glaze with apple cider vigegar, brown sugar, molasses, and spices. I covered the butt with the glaze and browned on my bbq. This formed a great golden brown carmel coating. Then I made my brasing liquid with apple cider vinegar, water, hot sauce, worshterchire, spices, and put the butt in. I put the dutch oven in the oven at about 180F and let it go for 10hrs, removing the butt at 205F internal temp. I checked it after 3hrs, and 8hrs and was not loosing any moisture this time. Perfection!! After removing the butt, I was able to skim the fat from the remaining liquid and make an awesome sauce from it using your suggested ingredients again. The meat from the outer carmel crust is unbeleivable... I really like the glaze idea I came up with. I have a serious pulled pork surplus now. I froze a bunch of it in the sauce and some of it without... Contemplating some tacos in the future.

Thanks for helping me out through this.

Short ribs are next!

Oct 13, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Cast Iron Confusion

After seasoning, I let the dutch oven cool in the oven... Maybe I should apply a light coating following seasoning??

I have been cooking roasts in it primarily... Chuck roast, pork butt.

I clean it with hot water and a hardly abrasive spronge. Then towel dry and place on low heat stovetop.

Oct 13, 2007
jmunn in Cookware

Cast Iron Confusion

This is driving me crazy. Whether it's seasoning or stripping, there doesn't seem to be a generally accepted method of caring for cast iron. I have read many discussions here on CHOW along with other sites, and I have a Lodge manual with instructions. The methods vary greatly.

I got a Lodge preseasoned dutch oven about a month ago, and while it has turned out some very tasty dishes, I can't help but want to huck it out my front door... I won't though, I'm gonna figure this process out.

The preseasoning was less than impressive, with a strange sticky layer on top of the lid and areas of light rust inside the pot. I burned all the preseasoning off by cranking my oven up to about 600F and leaving the dutch oven in there for a few hours. I have read this is a no-no, but I have also read it works great. Well... It worked. All seasoning and rust turned to black dust and I was left with a bare grey dutch oven. Since then, I have been through three seasoning processes, with a grand total of about tweleve coatings of shortening or oil applied.

1st attempt -- Lodge method - Vegetable shortening at 350F for one hour.

This worked, but after about two uses of the dutch oven, the seasoning was disappearing from inside the pot.

2nd attempt -- Lodge method x 3

Multiple layers, same result.

3rd attempt -- Suggestions from CHOW discussion - "Seasoning Cast Iron Without Crisco" -http://www.chowhound.com/topics/433869

I found acmorris's posts to be the most convincing, and followed the seasoning suggestions in his/her post. I used olive oil and cranked the oven to 550F and left the dutch oven in for three hours. The dutch oven was still grey afterwords, so I repeated the process about seven more times until it was black and glossy. Mission accomplished!! Or so I thought. The glossy black coating began chipping away, and has continued to do so.

Like I said, this is driving me crazy. I'm now going to roast all the remaining seasoning off and go for lucky seasoning process #4. I have to admit though, being forced to constantly leave my smoke filled apartment has made me more productive over the last week.

Soooooo, what to do... Vegetable shortening, olive oil, lard, canola, bacon grease... How to choose. What temp? I'v seen suggestions from 220F to 550F. How long?

Please help me out folks. We need to come to a consensus on these things for all of our good, and to spare my dutch oven an unnecessary flight to the parking lot.

Thanks in advance!

Oct 13, 2007
jmunn in Cookware

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Just picked up a 10 lb'er... Here we go again.

Oct 10, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

any secrets to a great tuna fish sandwich?

Solid white albacore w/ miracle whip and ceyenne pepper on toasted whatever bread. Couple slices pepperjack on top, then into the toaster oven to melt the cheese. I've probably eaten a thousand of these.

Oct 09, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Thanks Scagnetti.

I think I'll be picking up a fresh pork butt tomorrow. I'm reseasoning the dutch oven now. Might try this one stove top.

Oct 09, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

I didn't do anything to improve the seal. I have only used the dutch oven about five times previously, all on the stove top, and have not had any problems with moisture evaporating. My last two projects were pot roasts that I cooked for about 6hrs. a piece and they seemed to gain moisture.

I also do not know how well my oven regulates heat. It does not have a thermometor, just a turn-dial where I set the temp.

I have never heard of using foil, parchment paper, or pasty dough to improve the seal of the lid.

Oct 08, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

I was wondering if the dutch oven could intensify heat. So even when the oven is set to a certain temp, it can become hotter in the dutch oven?

Oct 08, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Well, I'm going to consider this a success, but there is definitely room for improvement. I started the thing cooking in the oven on 200F around midnight. I took it out today at noon. The inside of the dutch oven was all charry black. There was no liquid left. Just thick, hard char. Internal temp of the pork butt was about 205F. I took it out in about 4 pieces and wrapped in in tinfoil. The pork inside of the charry crust is awesome, but I ended up discarding a fair amount of char. I should have started checking the pork earlier. I made a great sauce with woodburner's previously suggested recipe and am about to eat my 5th sandwich now.

Thanks everyone for the advice!

Oct 07, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Couple hours 'till go time.. Any final thoughts?

Oct 06, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

So I see... I was worried about all the fat that would end up in the remaining braise. I think I'll do as you suggested - some sauce on the side, and I'll attempt sauce from the braise. Thanks again! I'll post the results of the "sauce-off."

Oct 06, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Thanks woodburner! You da man!

I was thinking that creating my sauce from the brasing liquid would work well. Are you suggesting I prepare some sauce seperatly, then add to the braising liquid?

Oct 06, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

I'm going to kick this thing off tonight so it's ready for lunch tomorrow. I really want to get the braising liquid right so I can use the reamaing liquid as a great sauce to return the pulled pork to. Please offer some suggestions here. I'm planning some combo of cider vinegar, chile sauce, tobasco, werchtershire, liquid (I know, GASP!) smoke, and some spices. I'm looking for some guidelines so I don't overdue anything or mix some un-mixables. My Mom tells me to be careful with the cider vinegar... Tablespoons only. How much do you hounds suggest?

Oct 06, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

A couple chuck roast questions

I would say definitely yes. Brisket and chuch roast are very similar cuts. I think briskets are smoked more often than chuck roasts, but if you are braising, I would say all the suggestions above are interchangeable.

Oct 06, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

A couple chuck roast questions

Thanks everyone so much for the help!

The roast turned out unbelievable! I just wish I had bought a bigger roast. It did not last long. It was falling apart tender and the flavor was awesome. I took the roast and veggies out after about 6hrs. of cooking when the internal temp was about 195F. I then made my first successful gravy, and boy was it successful. I reduced the liquid down to a thick paste, added about a pint of hot water and brought to a boil. I went with the cold water + flour slurry method and it worked great... No raw flour taste at all and a great consistancy. I then sliced the roast into one inch slabs (falling apart slabs), and added them and the spuds and veggies back into the dutch oven with the gravy. I put the lid back on and let it all simmer for a half hour and dug in. I don't think I can ever let my mom know this.. But hot damn!!! Best roast I've ever had. Couldn't have done it without the help here on The Chow.

Thanks again!!

Oct 05, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

Thanks for the great pointers. I just picked up a 7lb. butt and made a rub that smells great. I used S & P, ground chile powder, chipotle chile powder, cumin, onion powder, mustard powder, garlic powder, paprika, thyme, cinnamon, brown sugar, and oregano. I went heavier on the chile powders and held back on the brown sugar and cinnamon. It smells great and gave me quite a flavorful kick when I touched a bit of it to my tounge. I made enough so I'll be able to mix some into the braising liquid. I also picked up some apple cider vinegar and a good chile sauce for braising. I think this is going to turn out awesome!

Oh yeah.. I also wanted to ask if it makes a difference whether the butt is covered or not in the fridge while the rub is setting? Right now it is uncovered. Let me know if my instinct was wrong.

Thanks again!

Oct 05, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

My first pulled pork... Need some advice

I'm planning to do a 8lb. pork butt dutch oven style this weekend. This is my first time and really don't want to screw it up. I've been doing some research, and have a few things I need cleared up, and would also greatly appreciate any helpful hints you can think of.

Should I brine the butt? If so, should I just use salt, sugar, and water or should I incorporate some other spices? Also, how long do I need to brine?

Should I brown the butt prior to slow cooking?

What are some good suggestions for a good rub? I'd like to end up with a little spice in the finished product. I'm hoping for a slightly spicy and smokey bbq flavor. How should I go about accomplishing this? I am planning to prepare my own bbq sauce prior to cooking the butt, so any suggestions as to the sauce would also be greatly appreciated.

What else should I put in the dutch oven? I'm assuming I'll be using a braising liquid of some kind. What are some good suggestions here and in what amount? And finally, what are some good veggies to throw in there?

Thanks for the help!

Oct 04, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

A couple chuck roast questions

Hmmm, I'll have to think about that. The creamy roux gravy sounds great. Is seperating the fat out better for the taste and texture of the gravy or is it more of a health choice? Also, how far down should I let the braising liquid reduce before adding either the water + flour/cornstarch or roux. My Mom tells me to reduce until there is nothing but a thick residue left, then add hot water and bring to a boil, then add the thickening agent. Does this much reduction bring out more flavors or can I just add the thickening agent when the braising liquid has reduced to the approximate amount of gravy I'm looking for.

Oct 03, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

A couple chuck roast questions

Great stuff! Thanks for the feedback. I'll post the results later.

With respect to the gravy, I'v noticed three different methods on these boards:

1) Thickening with flour/constarch
2) Thickening with roux
3) Blending braising liquid + veggies in a blender

I am just learning how to make gravy, which method should I go with?

Oct 03, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

A couple chuck roast questions

I'm braising a 3.5lb chuck roast tomorrow after a poor pot roast experience last week. I'm doing it stove-top in a 7qt. dutch oven. To prepare, I cut small slits into the roast which I then stuffed small garlic slices into, patted the roast down with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and placed the roast in a marinade mixture of balsamic vinegar, liquid smoke. molasses, minced garlic, and some oregano. I have some potatoes, red and yellow onion, carrots, celery, and mushrooms that I plan to add to the mix tomorrow.

That said, here's what I'm curious about:

The braising liquid... What are some good suggestions here and in what proportion? I have beer, red wine, beef broth, worchestershire, basamic vinegar, liquid smoke, and tomato puree. What are some good combos with these and other ingredients?

The veggies... I'm planning on braising at the lowest temp possible and allowing plenty of time for the roast to tenderize. When should I add the different veggies?

The browning... I'm planning on browning the roast in the dutch oven in some olive oil. Is olive oil the way to go, and for how long should I brown? One sidenote here, I have noticed a few suggestions to flour the roast prior to browning... What are the effects of this?

One final question... I have also read a few reccommendations to cut the roast into smaller pieces and add back to the braising liquid when close to done. Are there any disadvantages to this?

Thanks for the help!

Oct 02, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Dutch oven pot roast - How long? How hot?

The roast seemed to have two different types of meat in it. More than half of it turned out ok - tender enough to pull apart in strands, but not fork tender. There was a smaller section of it that was way too lean and turned out very tough and somewhat dry. I threw out a good portion of that part. I made a decent gravy from the reduced liquids and am now relying on drowning the salvaged roast in the gravy.

I'm picking up a good chuck roast on Monday and hopefully it will turn out great. I need to redeem myself. I'd love to get some suggestions as to what seasonings and liquids to use for optimal flavor. I'm also still unsure as to how long I should brown for before braising.

Sep 29, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Dutch oven pot roast - How long? How hot?

I used a rib roast because I didn't do my research before I started this project. I am a new dutch oven user and was excited to do my first roast with potatoes and homemade gravy. I all too eagerly rushed to the supermarket, and ignorantly chose the rib roast. I was debating between chuck and rib, and ended up with the rib roast because I know how flavorful meat around the ribs is. I was not even aware that there are roasts specifically for roasting, and those for braising. It's all been a learning experience. Now I'll know what to do next time.

Sep 29, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Dutch oven pot roast - How long? How hot?

Well, I've had it slow cooking for about 3.5 hrs. now. Internal temp is 150, but it's still not tender enough to pull apart with a fork. Should I let it keep simmering?

Sep 28, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking

Dutch oven pot roast - How long? How hot?

I'm cooking a 5 lb. beef rib roast stovetop in a 7 qt. lodge cast iron dutch oven and have a few areas of concern...

Why brown the roast? How long should I brown for? Should I brown in the dutch oven or maybe use the oven broiler?

After browning, aprrox. what temp should I use to slow cook and for how long? I was under the impression that the longer and slower the better.

Also, I'm using a few cups of cabernet for moisture, if that makes any difference.

Thanks for the help

Sep 28, 2007
jmunn in Home Cooking