Apple Pie Moonshine…wrecked.

Apple Pie frankenspam style
Apple Pie frankenspam style

Everybody makes this concoction these days. It’s fun. And it is just another example of how you give food and drink concoctions your own signature. Just a small tweak to a pinterest recipe and TA-DA! You have your own Apple Pie recipe that everyone brags about. Well, if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am all about wrecking recipes.Especially this one. Very easy concept, pour a bunch of stuff into a jar with sugar…check. LOL This is my 2014 attempt at being different yet again with the internet craze “Apple Pie Moonshine”. This time I went after not so much an Apple Pie taste but more of a safe apple alone tatse with lots of alcohol “back up”. Try this recipe to mix things up when all of your friends are making apple, cherry , or peach pie drinks. Wrecked by frankenspam. Now claim your own! Wreck it more!

Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer for 2 hours the following ingredients…

(1) Gallon of Apple Cider. I chose non-filtered from a local farm. Strained, not strained, organic, non-whatever, choose what floats your boat.
(2) Quarts of Apple Juice. I chose clean strained organic, but do whatever your fancy is.
(4) Cinnamon Sticks
(1.5) TBSP Vanilla Extract
(1.5) TBSP Ground Cinnamon
(1) Cup of Dark Brown Sugar
(1) Cup of Light Brown Sugar
(1) Cup of White Sugar
(1) Zest of a whole orange
1/2 Nutmeg ground on micro-plain
1/2 stick of cinnamon ground on micro-plain

What I came up with before changing it to the below idea. nevermind that martini glass. It is my inspiration moderator.
What I came up with before changing it to the idea below. Never mind that martini glass. It is my inspiration moderator.

After two hours of these items simmering and you a stirring every so often, strain the items off through cheese cloth into a separate container. You may need a second hand. You really don’t need to strain if you don’t want to here. The longer it isn’t strained the stronger the flavors. For appearance the “pulp” that is created may be a little daunting to some of your guests. I am straining for appearance.  Let strained liquid cool to under 135*. Alcohol evaporates at somewhere around 170*, I figure 135* is safe to not “waste” any alcohol. I use an emulsifier every so often to keep things mixed and help speed the cool down process.

Strained through cheese cloth.
Strained through cheese cloth.
Strained frankenspam concoction.
Strained frankenspam concoction.

Right around 1 hour from the concoction being strained, if you have the ability, put 6 quarts of mason/canning jars in the pressure cooker (lids and all). Or steam bath. Get them sterilized while you get your drink ready. If you don’t have canning apparatus don’t sweat it, just wash some mason jars you got from the store very well. I used quart, but you can use pint, or for that matter what ever your damn heart desires. A tea pitcher would work just fine as well. You just need to serve sooner than later.

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Once liquid is at 135* (I really prefer to use 120*, no where near alcohol evaporation), pour the following into the mixture.
(2.5) Cups of Grain Alcohol. I used the last of 190 Proof Everclear (151 in some states and 190 in other states, check out Wikipedia for the list).  So, if you need to, you can replace this with 151 Grain alcohol if ya’d like. Some people use 151 Rum instead. That is fine, just keep in mind that’s a different flavor. It may work for you…and may not.
(1) Cup of Maple Crown Royal, oh yeh, Maple…game changer.
(3/4) Cup of Top Shelf Tequila
(1/4) Cup of Top Shelf Bourbon (I don’t buy cheap bourbon anymore, seriously, do a taste test once)

Using emulsifier to mix all ingredients.
Using emulsifier to mix all ingredients.

Mix very very very well. Again, I use a emulsifier. And then put into jars. I put 3 slices of Granny Apples into each jar as well. (3 slices per quart)

Don't forget to taste test!!!!
Don’t forget to taste test!!!!

Serve immediately, refrigerate, give as gifts, whatever your little heart desires. Theses are definitely good for about a year if you sterilized the jars and they “seal” own there own from cooling (which causes the jar top to vacuum in). Looks like a jar of caramel with apples huh? It is actually pretty good. Very sneaky sneaky. Don’t plan on driving anywhere if you are going to drink this stuff. AND with the high sugar content, throw a few glasses of water in with your drinking to help put a hamper on that hangover! For a great seasonal sipper, lose the alcohol in this recipe and serve warm to your guest! Maybe even throw some Chai tea in with it.

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What is brining? Brine a what?

turkeybath

Plan on bringing that turkey for Thanksgiving? What the heck is brining anyway right? And why does it work so dang well? A brine in its basic form is a solution of water and salt. You can add all kinds of flavors and herbs if ya like but the work is done by the salt and primary liquid. Osmosis is what happens. Yeh, I sucked at science too. Let me copy/paste this one. “Osmosis is the spontaneous net movement of solvent molecules through a partially permeable membrane into a region of higher solute concentration, in the direction that tends to equalize the solute concentrations on the two sides.” Yes yes, there’s more to that, but basically you are hydrating the cells of the muscle tissue while the process is trying to “equalize” each side. You can check this neat trick out by weighing your meat (insert joke here) before brining and then weighing it after. Hmmm, no guys I don’t thinks works on…anyway you should see ~5%-8% weight increase. So when you cook it and it loses its normal amount of moisture, there is more moisture than normal left over. Putting herbs, spices, and other liquids in the brine works because (in an attempt to stay unscientific) those flavors along with the water hitch a ride with the salt.

If you had a huge piece of meat (okay keep calm, it’s only huge in your eyes) that brined for a while, some tips and tricks to help cut down on any salty tastes from the brining are; rinse the meat thoroughly under cold water for a few minutes and/or soak in clean cold water for about 15-20 minutes.

If you like to make gravy from the dripping, use a low sodium broth (check the labels, all aren’t equal) to help with cutting down on the salt tastes.

I don’t typically find brining our meats makes for a salty taste. Here’s a chart I found on finecooking.”The chart below gives salt concentration and brining time for various foods. Concentrations listed are for Diamond Crystal kosher salt. For table salt, cut salt amounts by 1/2; for Mortons kosher salt, cut amounts by 1/4.”

Cook on folks! Don’t forget to share your delicious Thanksgiving food porn pics with us at Frankenspam on Facebook and tag those suckers with #frankenspam and every now and again tweeting it up at @frankenspam. Why tag? Because you cooked it your way!

 

Here's a chart I found on finecooking. "The chart below gives salt concentration and brining time for various foods. Concentrations listed are for Diamond Crystal kosher salt. For table salt, cut salt amounts by 1/2; for Mortons kosher salt, cut amounts by 1/4."
Here’s a chart I found on finecooking. “The chart above gives salt concentration and brining time for various foods. Concentrations listed are for Diamond Crystal kosher salt. For table salt, cut salt amounts by 1/2; for Mortons kosher salt, cut amounts by 1/4.”

Pastrami – Homemade

Everybody’s done it, okay maybe not you or you wouldn’t be here, but if someone loves to smoke meat they will eventually try to make their own pastrami. What is pastrami anyways? Wikipedia has gathered a fairly straight forward history lesson on it here. It is Jewish in origin and typically made from beef, sometimes from pork, turkey, and other meats. Here in America we typical use beef brisket and maybe sometimes you’ll see the beef plate used as well. Go to the deli in the grocery store and order pastrami, it’ll likely be a beef round which will be sliced thin. Nothing like a brisket. The down side of a brisket, is it is a muscle that is worked a lot in the animal. As such it is tough. But with some slow love, you can make a piece of meat that makes everyone’s head turn. Another great win concerning this delectable meat treasure is it comes from a need of preservation. So the meat keeps well.

Below I’ll walk you through my cheat version (buying already “corned” beef). This particular run of doing this I went with a very peppery blend. No sugars, just black pepper, coriander, and garlic powder. We’ll discuss other blends in a minute. But first, what part of the cow are we eating here anyways?

 

Location of Beef Brisket
Location of Beef Brisket

The brisket is what we are going after. The brisket is then broken down into mainly two sections. The Point muscle, where the girth and fat layer reside. Then the Flat muscle which is the thinner section with the “tip” and a little section of the fat layer.

2012-03-02-brisket_diagram_corned_beef

 

I have tried the grocery store pre-packaged corned beefs a ton of times. (there are two types, I am talking about the UNcooked version) They are either the Flat OR the Point muscle. I was doing pretty good with them for a while. They cook pretty quick and make decent pastrami’s. Then a good friend of mine hooked me up with a deal from restaurantdepot on one of their corned beef packages. They offer Whole Packers Cut Corned briskets. The big boy. Great layers of fat. 17-18 lbs each. I haven’t looked back, I can’t remember the last time I used a grocery store corned beef package. ha!

Whole Packer's Cut Corned Brisket
Whole Packer’s Cut Corned Brisket

Above is what I got. A 17lb hunk of cow, waiting to get peppery smoking love. So this hunk is full of salt. Pink curing salt in fact. The big hunks of meat like this get injected every inch with a curing solution. Sodium Nitrate. So we need to get this guy into a clean water bath and soak for a day (refrigerated while it is soaking) to remove all of that salt. I like to change the water out once at 12 hours. This will draw the salt out. If you don’t do this the meat will be incredibly salty when you go to eat it. INCREDIBLY salty. Soak this guy in water! Smaller corned briskets, maybe 15 hours. Big ones like this one, 24 to 48 hours. Oddly enough this water bath will work so well you may find that you need to salt your pastrami sandwich once you are ready to eat. That’s fine, salt away. Just remember you daily allowance. (2400 milligrams) hehehe

Corned Brisket soaking in water.
Corned Brisket soaking in water.
Soaking after 1st 12 hours.
Soaking after 1st 12 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours.
Corned Brisket after soaking
Corned Brisket after soaking for 48 hours

Pat this thing dry. No leaking water. As dry as it can be. Now this is when you need to put your signature pastrami rub on the brisket. Pay attention to the fat side. You’ll need to reference this later when you put it in the smoker and in the cool down stage. After liberally rubbing it down with the a rub concoction of black pepper and coriander you’ll let it sit in the fridge for a day. At 17lb’s, I went for two days. You’ll want to flip it every 12 hours or so. Did you remember which side was fat side? As mentioned earlier, I went with a super simple rub this time. I wanted a black pepper wallup! Here’s my rub mixture on this particular cook.

4 TBSP Crushed Black Pepper
2 TBSP Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
2 TBSP Garlic Powder
2 TBSP Ground Coriander

That’s it. Now the big boys, like Katz’s run with a more complex mixture which I highly recommend. This is how you blow your family and friends away with the flavors. Seriously the below, goodness.

4 TBSP Coarsely Ground Black Pepper
2 TBSP Ground Coriander
1 TSP Mustard Powder
1 TBSP Brown Sugar
1 TBSP Paprika (just for color)
2 TSP Garlic Powder (I am a garlic lover, I’d go with a TBSP)
2 TSP Onion Powder

All in all, experiment with what you like or you think will work. The only two spices that are mandatory are black pepper and coriander for pastrami.

Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Applying Pepper, Coriander, and Garlic rub on Corned Brisket
Corned Brisket rubbed and ready for fridge
Corned Brisket rubbed and ready for fridge

Something I thought of but didn’t picture is using parchment paper in the bottom of the Tupperware holder. The brisket will get moist and sometimes the rub clumps off or rubs off on the container. I put parchment paper in the bottom and on top of it so when I flipped the brisket every 12 hours the rub didn’t come off. You can use a bag or any type of container, just make sure it is sealed and you flip it every now and again (the weight of the meat will help the rub adhere) Now cover it up and put in fridge for 24 hours for anything up to 10 lbs. Up to 20 lbs go for two days. Flipping every 6-12 hours.

Let’s smoke! Get it out of the fridge and put in the (pre-heated) smoker FAT SIDE UP. You are going to want to aim for a maintained smoker temp of 225*. The time of the cook will be determined by the thickness of the brisket, not the weight. My size brisket warranted about 12 ounces of wood. Pastrami can handle smoke so don’t be worried about over smoking but after about 3-6 hours (depending on size) you  don’t need to worry about it much if it doesn’t smoke anymore. I used hickory. I know I know, personal preference. Most experts like cherry or fruit tree wood when it comes to red meats. I like hickory. A lot. But there are so many flavors in a pastrami, the last thing you’ll notice is what smoke I used. You are shooting for internal temps of 190* to 200*. And don’t worry about not seeing smoke rings. You won’t. The meat was cured already with pink curing salt which has the same contents as the smoke you are hitting it with, nitrate. I used an electric smoker in this case as I can set it up and go to my day job and not worry about maintaining temps. I prefer charcoal. But since this cut of meat (mainly thickness of meat) has so much cooking/smoking time I am not too worried about it not forming a good bark. NOTHING beats charcoal smoking. NOTHING. Shhh, don’t argue, just accept that charcoal is the best smoke you’ll ever have. Charcoal mixed with other things like wood you say? Okay fine, that’ll work. Wood only? Okay, obvious that’s true “smoking” but you can’t have the fire too close. But man, charcoal will turn the bark on this meat into pure magic. Anyhoot, moving on.

Raw Pastrami brisket in smoker
Raw Pastrami brisket in smoker
At the time of this cook the outside temperature was 27*. I wrapped the smoker in some blankets. I would cuddle with it but it doesn't like to cuddle until it has cooked its meat. It's a very particular smoker.
At the time of this cook the outside temperature was 27*. I wrapped the smoker in some blankets. I would cuddle with it but it doesn’t like to cuddle until it has cooked its meat. It’s a very particular smoker.
All Done!
All Done!

Now get this hunk of love into the kitchen. I know I know, go ahead, cut a piece, I did. 🙂

Just after smoking taste Test!
Just after smoking taste Test!

Your taste test may say it is a little dry (if you chose the point end) or chewy, that’s alright. Hurry up and get it wrapped in aluminum foil. You want to remember where the fat side is and also wrap it so no juices run out of your foil wrap. Make about 3 or 4 wraps. Now wrap that aluminum bundle of joy up in towels. Large towels. (Fat side, where is it?) Two towels is what I used. Now, again remember fat side up and put in a cooler and close cooler. With the fat side up the meat is still going to finish cooking and the fat renderings will still run down to the no fat side which will bath in the juices. FORGET about this hunk of meat for 2-4 hours.

Pastrami wrapped in foil after you get it out of smoker.
Pastrami wrapped in foil after you get it out of smoker.
Pastrami wrapped in foil and then wrapped in towels and then put in a cooler. Don't forget to shut the lid.
Pastrami wrapped in foil and then wrapped in towels and then put in a cooler. Don’t forget to shut the lid.

After being in the cooler for the allotted time there are a couple routes you can take. If you timed this right and it’s time to eat, well get to it, steam and slice or slice and fry. If you are looking for New York style goodness, cut a large chunk and steam it until the internal temp is around 200* to 205*. 203* to be NY Deli specific. BUT this should be a very slow process. Go at it slow. In fact some great advice over at amazingribs.com on how to steam pastrami (Step 6). Don’t steam it after you sliced it and remember to ALWAYS cut it perpendicular to the grain of the meat. You are looking for a slice as thin as possible, no more than 1/8″. Me personally, I like it sliced and fried in a touch of EVOO on toasted rye bread with brown mustard. MMMM MMMM MMMMM!!!

If you don’t plan to eat it right away, with the foil still on it stick the whole hunk in the fridge. Once it is fridge temp take it out and cut it into large chunks that are more manageable and if you have a vacuum sealer, seal each chunk. It freezes just fine (once vacuumed seal) and keeps in the vacuum seal in the fridge for a good bit. I have never been able to test out how long it can last, I eat it all. I used a machine to slice it while it is still cold and then heat in pan with EVOO to make it a little crunchy. Otherwise slicing with a machine is laughable when pastrami is warm.

Pastrami unwrapped from fridge.
Pastrami unwrapped from fridge (24 hours in fridge).
Sliced in manageable chunks
Sliced in manageable chunks. It has been in fridge for 24 hours.
This is right in the middle of the brisket, still cold from the fridge.
This is right in the middle of the brisket, still cold from the fridge.
Bagged up and a little left over for a quick sandwich.
Bagged up and a little left over for a quick sandwich.
Poor phone picture of pastrami before going in my belly. I didn't have any rye bread for the making of this one, next time.
Poor phone picture of pastrami before going in my belly. I didn’t have any rye bread for the making of this one, next time.

There ya go folks. Homemade Pastrami. Of course we cheated a little and let someone else cure it for us, but eh, it’ll be alright. If you want to cure it yourself, get some big pots and a lot of time and go at it. Go here and follow their instructions. Awesome website, they talk about the design and science of it all and show you how to do it. Either way…eat on and remember, life is too short to always follow the recipe, mix it up. Put this on pizza, make hash (some of the best hash you’ll ever have), or cut it up and put into a stew. You’ll be happy.

Smart Frying pan?

Not going to lie, sometimes I like things a tad charred. But I recognize most of you (especially my wife) don’t. Here’s a Smart Frying Pan currently on Kickstarter, Pantelligent. I am not so sure I like the name, Pantelligent. But eh, what a fresh idea on technology for products syncing with our phones (pocket computers). Sadly they are only kicking this off with iOS support.  Some geek talk about Android not fully supporting Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE). Since the developing stages Android has offered more BLE support and such the creators of Pantelligent have immediate plans to develop Android support once the campaign is over and products are rolling. Looks like if you get in now you can lock one of these high tech frying pans for 200 bones.

Catch their Kickstarter campaign  @

Pantelligent: Intelligent Pan – Cook Everything Perfectly

Whatcha think?

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