Saturday, November 26, 2011

Dutch Oven - Curried Pumpkin Bisque

Normally, I don't really like squash-family vegetables, and I didn't really care for pumpkin-- not even pumpkin pie! However, when we planted our Jack-O-Lanterns this year, the seed company put some "Sweet" pumpkin seeds in the pouch, and a totally different breed popped up and gave us a few sweet pumpkins, so I decided I would put my reservations aside and actually learn how to cook a pumpkin. I had heard good things over on Mark's Black Pot about cooking pumpkins, so I went over there and read his articles on how to prepare the puree and how to make soups. I wanted to make it my own of course, so I changed up the spices a bit and used a curried flavor profile to give it some zing! The curry gave this dish a nice eastern feel and balanced out the sweet from the pumpkin.

12" Deep Dutch oven
450 Degrees
30 minutes
6-8 Servings

  • 6 cups Pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbs curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups poultry stock
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • olive oil
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup pecans, crushed
  • sour cream
  • Cholula Chili Garlic sauce
Begin by preparing pumpkin puree: Slice a small "sweet" pumpkin into chunks about 2-3 inches squared. Pour 1 cup water into a 9x13 baking pan and place pumpkin slices in it, skin side down. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool. Slice skin from pumpkin using a fillet or boning knife. Place pumpkin chunks in blender with 1/2 cup milk per batch and pulse until finely pureed. Set puree in refrigerator to cool. Save seeds and toast, following directions here, but season only with a dash of kosher salt.Saute onion in dutch oven with olive oil. When onions have sweated, add stock, spices and pumpkin puree. Stir to combine. Raise to boil. If soup is too thin, create a roux by melting 1/2 stick butter in a saucepan and adding 1/4 cup flour cooking until golden brown. Add roux a small amount at a time, whisking to ensure an even blend, until soup is thickened to your liking. Serve with toasted seeds, pecans and a dollop of sour cream. Top with Cholula Chili Garlic for some extra kick!

4 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Jello

When I was a boy, I had the idea to put plastic cowboys and indians in the Thanksgiving Jello to commemorate the pilgrims and indians' first dinner together. The first year I was married, we made this Jello for my in-laws, to the utter surprise of everyone, when they started to pull plastic men out of their mouths. We got such a reaction out of everyone that we hadn't done it since-- until now.

My platoon of soldiers wait for their surprise attack!



  • 1 large box Jello or similar gelatin, any flavor
  • 1 can cool whip
  • 1 bag plastic toys
Mix the gelatin to package directions and pour into a 9x13 pan. Place the plastic toys (we couldn't find cowboys and indians, so we used army men this time) in the gelatin and let harden overnight. Spread cool whip on top of the gelatin ensuring to cover any pieces sticking out of the gelatin. Serve chilled, and be prepared for the most surprised guests ever.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Part II - Deep Frying

After having a recurring nightmare of me burning down my in-laws house, I was really glad that A, it didn't happen, and B, it was prevented by the Masterbuilt Electric Turkey Fryer I won last year from Larry's Blog. He's got a great site, go check him out! Deep fried turkey has ruined all other turkey for me. I love the juicy warm soft meat, the crispy golden brown skin... Pardon me, I think I'm going to hit the refrigerator for a turkey sandwich. Ahem... 

I'm back. This is one thing you should definitely K.I.S.S., and you really don't need a lot of seasoning after yesterday's brine. Just rub it in a little pepper, but NO SALT! The bird will be seasoned well with salt inside the meat. Now Masterbuilt has well taken the house burning down out of the equation, but remember that the oil is at 375 degrees, and could kill a village if spilled, so keep little ones away from the fryer, and camp out until its done. Trust me, you won't be there long. If you can't stand just standing there, get a cool beverage, but stay focused. Every fryer ninja needs to defend his zone. Keep other people safe, keep yourself safe.

This potentially is the best food I've ever had, and it definitely is the best turkey I've ever had. The brining really locks in those juices, my fingers were literally soaked during carving. Just in case, if you don't know how to carve, learn from the best.

Masterbuilt Electric Turkey Fryer
375 Degrees
Deep Frying
3.5/4 minutes per pound


  • Brined Turkey
  • Pepper
  • 2 gallons oil
  • Masterbuilt Electric Turkey Fryer
  • Meat Thermometer
  • Leather Gloves
Preheat oil in fryer to 375. Pat dry turkey inside and out, then rub with pepper. Load into fryer basket and SLOWLY lower into the hot oil. Set the timer accordingly: 3.5 - 4 minutes per pound. In our case, the bird was 10 pounds, so I cooked it for 35 minutes and the thighs registered 170. Remove from oil and hang on lip to drain. When rested, move basket out to cool. When the basket is cool enough to handle, invert the bird on a cutting board, let rest and carve the turkey.

5 Stars
Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey Part I - The Brine

I've wanted to do a brine for a long time, so I talked my mother in law into letting me deep fry a turkey for Thanksgiving this year. After doing hours of research on the web, I decided there was probably no "right" way of doing a brine, and there are countless recipes out there. I wanted to do this carefully and scientifically, so I chose Morton Salt's recipe and this is how it went down:

First, being a food scientist, I needed a graduated cylinder. Since I didn't have any in the lab that would hold a 10 pound bird, I decided to make my own. Luckily for me, a gallon milk jar became available after dinner and I snagged it. I measured to the top of the screw on lip, not all the way to the top. That became "my" gallon. Pouring in water into a new 5 gallon bucket and marking a line with a sharpie gave me the following:

After making the graduated cylinder, the brine was easy to measure. I boiled about a gallon of water and added the brine ingredients, until dissolved. Then I chilled it in the refrigerator for an hour. Pouring it in revealed a little over a gallon needed to be added to bring us to 2 gallons.

After the brine was properly mixed, I added the turkey, breast side down. This bird is 9.74 pounds, and displaced 1 gallon, so the density of the bird is 0.674632034632035 ounces per cubic inch, just in case you were wondering, and the volume of the bird is 231 cubic inches of potential energy that will be turned into chemical energy, creating an exothermic reaction and increasing the mass of the subjects, while acting as a mild anesthetic.

Here's some real science: Brining keeps the meat moist by a process called osmosis. Osmosis works by drawing fluids from the meat's cells to the stronger saline solution surrounding the turkey. But that's only half of it-- the water on the outside is diluted by the turkey's juices, and water can flow in and out of the meat stabilizing to equilibrium and pulling salt and seasoning into the meat. Then the brine changes the cellular structure of the protein, locking in the liquids into the meat, and won't dry out during cooking.

That's real food science! (Lab coats optional)



  • 1 cup morton kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 gallons water
  • Ice
  • 5 gallon bucket

Begin by boiling about a gallon of water. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until all salt and sugar is dissolved. Once ingredients are combined, remove from heat and put in the fridge for an hour. Go watch Mythbusters on Netflix. Once the brine stops steaming in the refrigerator, take it out and pour it into the 5 gallon bucket, which you so smartly turned into a graduated cylinder above. Fill with water to the 2 gallon line. Remove thawed turkey from the refrigerator, taking out of plastic, removing any accessories that have been put inside the cavity, and if you are deep frying, remove any pop up timers. Place the bird breast side down in the brine ensuring that it is completely submerged. Fill bags of ice and place inside the brine. Place in cold garage near the door. Wait 8 hours, but I don't recommend watching 8 hours of Mythbusters in one sitting. Try sleeping. After the 8 hours, remove the turkey from the brine and thoroughly rinse off all the salt and sugar. Pat dry and let rest for 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Favorites Roundup 2011

Here at the Back Porch Gourmet, we love us some Thanksgiving. Food, family, food, football, food, sleep, and then leftovers. Yup, it's a perfect storm of good things coming together. So, I'm thankful for my sweet wife and awesome kids, my family (both in-laws and out-laws), good food, great fans, followers and facebookers. I'm thankful that God put me on this earth so I can grow and share my talents with the world on this fun blog. Thanks to all of you readers for your support and listening to my highs and lows in my outdoor kitchen. So now it's your turn. Take a look at this roundup and think of what you are thankful for. Sound off in the comments.

From my kitchen to yours,


1.  Deep Fried Turkey

When I was 8, my Uncle tried to burn down his aspen tree and remove Grandpa's eyebrows when he buried a stockpot in hot coals and dropped a turkey in hot oil, that had not been measured properly. Deep frying a turkey in my indoor Masterbuilt fryer takes the "burn down your house" risk out of the frying equation by using submersible heating elements and a measure-to fill line. I recommend it.

If turkey isn't your thing, get a spiral sliced ham and cook it up dutch oven style. Always a crowd pleaser. 

Nothing commemorates pilgrims almost starving to death and being rescued by the friendly locals than a good cranberry sauce. This sweet yet tart sauce gives you the pick me up on thanksgiving morning that you need, especially since you'll be listening to uncle Harold snore all afternoon. Enjoy your food coma.

Mmmmm... carrots, brown sugar- what else do I need to say? Carrots, the sweetest of the root vegetables. Except sugar beets. And sweet potatoes, especially when you put those little marshmallows on them and toast them in the oven. Pardon me, I need to go wipe the drool from my chin...

5. Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Face it. You've been cooking all day. Who wants to cook a pie? Not me. This no bake makes gluttony easy. Just add redi-whip.


Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Skookie - Gimme S'more Brownies

After cooking 2 amazing dishes that took a bit of work, I wanted an easy dessert. The Skookie pans are easy to cook with, and are very versatile- you can put them on a stove, grill or right in your oven. The preseasoned coating doesn't stick and the hot pads keep your hands from getting burnt. These brownies are a cross between S'mores and brownies and are perfect served ala mode. 

8" skillets
350 degrees
30 minutes
2 - 4 Servings


  • brownie mix batter
  • graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 tbs butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
    Mix brownie batter to package directions. Grease skookie pans or small skillets. Mix graham cracker and melted butter and press in bottom of pans. Top with brownie batter and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Add marshmallows and broil for 10 minutes, camping out next to the oven to prevent burning. Remove from oven when the marshmallows represent all that is perfect about a toasted marshmallow. Let stand 5 minutes and serve ala mode.

    5 Stars
    Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    Grill - Twice Grilled Potatoes, Fully Loaded

    I wanted an impressive side to coordinate with my pork tenderloin, so I came up with these potatoes. They're a cross between twice cooked potatoes and a loaded baked potato and they get the best of both worlds. Be sure the let the potatoes cool after cooking them, and grill them thoroughly to ensure the potato meat comes out easily. I started with a dozen potato halves, but only got 6 potatoes out of it because the other 6 tore too easily. Make sure you par boil them for at least 8 minutes. Then transfer them to the grill to get the crispy skins that make them so tasty.

    Medium Heat
    30 minutes
    5-8 Servings


    • 5-6 Idaho potatoes, cut in half
    • 1/2 pound bacon, cooked crispy and chopped
    • 1 tbs chives, chopped
    • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

    Parboil potatoes for 8 minutes and remove from heat. Coat grill with oil and grill face down on medium heat for 10 minutes. Flip potatoes and cook for 10 minutes until done in center. Remove from grill and let cool. Spoon out the potato meat and mix with bacon, cheese and chives, reserving 1/4 cup cheese. Spoon back into potato skins and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return to grill and grill 8-10 minutes on low heat until skins are crispy and cheese is melted.

    5 Stars
    Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Dutch Oven - Bacon Wrapped Citrus-Apple Pork Tenderloin


    A few weeks ago, Mark Hansen of Mark's Black Pot put forth another cast iron challenge. It called for apples, oranges, mint and meat. I was okay with everything but the mint-- how would it taste with mint in the other ingredients. It always seems when we do these challenges that there is one ingredient that seems hard to implement. I suppose that's a good thing, since it helps us push the envelope just a little further along the comfort zone spectrum. This meal took me 3 hours, used the most dishes in prep I've ever cooked before, and I know I say this a lot, but I learned the most cooking this meal. I was busy cooking the whole time, but never once let everything that needed to be done stress me out. It was literally cooking zen at its finest. It also helps that this meal was the best tasting I've ever had. The smoky flavor of the bacon combined well with the sweetness of the apples and the tart of the oranges. Then the zing of the mint kicked in and joined the party. The tenderloin cooked to perfection and there was only one hitch- I didn't tie the bacon down with chef's twine as I didn't have any, so it kinda exploded in the middle when the meat started to plump. I was able to cut a single slice with a perfect bacon wrap for a photo, so I'll definitely tie the meat next time. This was so good, even the leftovers were good!

    12" Dutch oven
    450 Degrees
    15 minutes prep time
    45 minutes cook time
    4 -6 Servings


    • 1 pork tenderloin pack
    • 1 pound thick sliced smoked bacon
    • 1 apple, cored and sliced
    • 1 orange, sliced
    • 2-3 sprigs fresh mint
    • 1 dash garlic powder
    • 1 dash celery salt
    • 1 dash ground black pepper
    • 1 dash paprika
    • chef's cotton twine*
    Wrap the entire tenderloin in bacon and press firmly. Secure with twine.
      Season tenderloin in garlic powder, celery salt, black pepper and paprika. Place mint, orange and apple in between the two tenderloins and reform into shape with your hands. Lay bacon down on a piece of aluminum foil in rows and transfer the tenderloin to the bacon in the center, rolling bacon up onto tenderloin and forming tightly with your hands. Tie with chef's cotton twine to secure. Rub bacon with black pepper. Preheat 12" dutch oven and lightly oil. Transfer tenderloin to dutch oven and bake for 45 minutes at 450, until internal temperature reaches 150.

      1/2 cup apple cider
      1 orange, cubed
      1 apple, cored and sliced
      2 sprigs fresh mint
      1/2 cup sugar
      1 tbs corn starch
      1/2 cup cold water

      Boil apples, oranges and mint in apple cider until juice is rendered from the fruit. Strain reserving the juices, press with a potato masher. Add sugar and dissolve until boiling. Mix corn starch and cold water and slowly stir into boiling sauce until glaze consistency is reached. Chill before serving.

      5 Stars
      Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!

      *I did not use the chef's twine to tie the tenderloin, and it expanded, bursting out its bacon overcoat. It still tasted good, though.

      Saturday, November 5, 2011

      Grilled Chicken Wings - Teriyaki & Buffalo Lime

      My wife and I were long overdue for a date night, so we planned to have a quiet night with the kids at Grandma's house, but my wife ended up taking my daughter to the doctor's for an epic sinus infection, so we didn't get our date until 8:00 that night. These sauces feature the Cholula samples that the Cholula company sent us to try. I've always been a fan of the Flavorful Fire, so it's been fun trying their other flavors. These wings would be great on game day, a holiday party, or just because.

      Yes, that's steak too. I couldn't decide between steak and chicken, so we had both!


      Medium High Heat
      20 minutes
      2 Servings


      • 1 dash house seasoning
      • 12 - 14 chicken wing pieces
      Coat wings in house seasoning and grill turning often until crispy and temperature reaches 165 degrees. Coat in sauces below.

      Teriyaki Sauce
      • 1 tsp olive oil
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 tsp chives, chopped
      • 1/2 cup soy sauce
      • 1/4 cup honey
      • 1 tbs Cholula Chili Garlic sauce
      • 1 tsp seasame seeds
      Saute garlic in oil, add chives, soy sauce, honey, Cholula Chili Garlic sauce and stir until boiling. Add sesame seeds and set aside to rest. Coat grilled wings in sauce, let rest, then retoss in sauce. Toss one more time right before serving.

      5 stars

      Buffalo Lime Sauce

      • 1/2 cup Cholula Chili Lime sauce
      • 2 tbs butter
      Melt butter in small saucepan, add Cholula Chili Lime sauce, set aside to rest. Coat grilled wings in sauce, let rest, then retoss in sauce. Toss one more time right before serving.

      5 Stars

      Bon Appetit! The Outdoors Start at Your Back Porch!