What’s cooking? Smoked Chicken!

A bit of a funny story, as I had wanted a smoker for quite a while and had even bought an inexpensive hotplate and picked up a couple of refrigerator wire shelves to build a wooden smoker. It turns out I didn’t have to, as while I was on an epic roadtrip across the SouthWest, I stumbled into a sale at a sporting goods store that had an terrific sale on a very nice smoker. I picked up this Cajun Injector Electric Smoker and it’s been awesome.

You simply set the temperature and time and that’s it. Computer temperature contolled, no fires to worry about, no fancy pellets to feed. I preheat it to temperature, put in the meat and the wood chips and I can move on to other things, checking on it once every 20 minutes or so just to see how the meat’s internal temperature is coming along.

My system is very simple. I brine chicken breasts for 18 hours or so in a basic brine. I then rub it with a nice bbq rub. I use Gorilla BBQ rub or LaRue Rub with a bit of brown sugar and, optionally, ground hot (habanero or ghost chili) pepper for kick. I preheat the smoker to 235 Degrees and pop them in until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. I then take it out and it’ll impulse cook another 10 degrees on it’s own. Time wise, that’s roughly an hour. For wood chips, I favor hickory chips soaked overnight in water. I use a good handful and this smoker is so good at retaining smoke, I really don’t feel a need to add any more.

I highly recommend smoking meats for a nice protein treat to go with veggies or on a salad and heartily recommend the Cajun Injector as a goof proof smoker.

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What’s cooking?

Just a little this and that from the past couple weeks here.

Simple dinner. We broiled some bbq sticks, pre-marinaded  and they come frozen, we get them from our local Asian market. They’re pretty good for quick cook food. Fresh SomTum. Even though our Asian market sells it pre-shredded, we like to buy it whole and shred it ourself, for maximum freshness. I make this from scratch.

We’ve haven’t found any kind of instant sauce or powder seasoning that can match fresh individual ingredients. Pad Thai. We’ve tried a handful of pre-mixed pad thai sauces and mixes and again, there’s no substitute (not even close!) to doing it from scratch. In this dish, we tried a more expensive jar sauce and it was still pretty bland.

By the time I added Tamarind sauce, palm sugar, etc.. to add flavor, we could have made it from scratch 🙂

On a side note, I found a really great instant dessert coffee. Instant coffee isn’t the same as fresh coffee, and coffee isn’t the same as espresso or cappuccino. I get that. I don’t mind instant, though, if it’s tastes good. I’m partial to a cup of ginseng coffee in the morning for a kick, when I don’t want to make the mess of breaking out the coffee machine, or even the french press. Sometimes you just need to grab a cup and go, right? 🙂

In the evening, sometimes I like a sweet coffee to go with dessert. I tried this one and it was really good. It bills it self is Kopiccino, and is neat in a couple ways. One, the coffee tastes good. That’s a must. Second, the powder has a thick fluffy white component to it. When mixed, it creates a foam on top, not as thick as, but reminiscent of frothed milk. Third, and lastly, it has a small packet of chocolate powder that comes stickied on the side of the coffee packet. I found that sprinkling this on top, then letting it hydrate allowed me to stir it gently with a chopstick (or coffee stirrer) and form a pattern, just like those fancy coffee shops!  Pretty neat. This is the coffee I’m talking about.

If you like instant, I highly recommend.

Delicious Cambodian food at The 252 Hotel in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

We stayed at The 252 Hotel in Phnom Penh Cambodia, which was really pretty wonderful. Details about the trip are here on our travel blog, abettertrip.com. One of the features that we liked was their nice cook to order restaurant. Our room included breakfast, but as we were tired some days and their food was quite good we ended up eating there for other meals as well. Here’s a sample of what we had. Continue reading

I love streetfood in Thailand

Where even chicken butts taste good! 😀
Ok, really, they’re not chicken butts, but rather the fatty tail of the chicken.

I was walking by and this smelled pretty good, so I grabbed two sticks. I figured it was slices of thigh (silly me) but they turned out to be the tails. Eight of them on two sticks cost only 20 baht (about 65 cents). If you’ve never eaten chicken tails before, they’re not bad, just quite fatty and possessing a small bone down the middle. They were quite tasty and strangely, hit the spot.

Later, as I was walking along the beach, there were a few street vendors. Among the dishes sold were these silver dollar sized fried crabs.

There’s virtually no meat on them. You pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy!
Then, of course, since it was the fried food lady, there were fried chicken (yes real regular chicken parts this time) and fried shrimp.

They weren’t bad, but were ambient temperature. Better if hot, I’d think. Still, quite tasty, and if you’ve ever seen what a little footprint they take up frying this stuff in equipment that would barely fit a backpack you’d be amazed.

More as I experience it.

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