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    Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

    Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

    Bacon wrapped shrimped are a very easy snack or h’derv to make.  Most people will enjoy them and there are countless ways to season them.  You will need bacon, shrimp, sheet pan, baking rack, toothpicks, and seasonings.  For shrimp I Iike to get 10-12 variety.  This just means there are 10-12 shrimp per pound.  For seasonings I like to keep it simple with salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder.

     

    First you will want to remove the shells and de-vein the shrimp.  I also remove the tails. This is not necessary and can be used as handles if kept on.  They can also be eaten although I do not recommend it.  Wash clean with water and set aside to dry.  Pre heat oven to 400 F.  Cut bacon slices in half and wrap shrimps.  Use a tooth pick to hold in place.  Place baking rack inside of sheet pan and place bacon wrapped shrimp onto the baking wrap.  Then salt and pepper all of the shrimp generously.  I then select some to put the paprika and chili powder on.  You can do as many or as little as you like. We like to have a variety of flavors when we make these.  You can also use many other types of seasonings on them.  Curry ones would be good or a Greek seasoning could be interesting.  You could also cover them in BBQ sauce and put an onion sliver inside the wrap. 

     

    Place the bacon wrapped shrimp in the oven.  Cookies vary but will take a minimum of 15-20 minutes.  Just cook it until you see that the bacon is cooked through and nice and crispy, but not burnt.  I cook these at 400 degrees in a convection oven and they take around 30-40 minutes.  Once removed from the oven allow to cool for a few minutes and then enjoy.  These things are great for a party or just for an afternoon snack.  If for some reason you don’t manage to eat these all at once you can place them in the fridge for later.  They taste great cold as well, especially if they are aggressively seasoned.

    Smoked Brisket

    Smoked Brisket

    Making a brisket can be very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  With the proper technique smoking a brisket or any cut of meat can be done relatively easy.  The first time is always the hardest and most nerve racking.

     

    Where to get your brisket:

    I always recommend either finding a local butcher to get one or ordering one from your local meat counter at a store you trust.  The reason I don’t ever buy one straight from the meat counter is that they usually trim most of the fat off of them.  Trust me, you want the fat.  It is my favorite part of the brisket.  It tastes and has a texture like foi gras to me.  (Your whole nervous system is made of fat and all your cells are covered in fat. The best way to nourish and feed this important part of your body is with healthy fats. And animal fats are healthy fats contrary to popular opinion!  That includes bacon!!!) So when you order your brisket make sure to tell them to not trim off the fat!

     

    Once you get home with your beautiful brisket you need to think about the cooking process because it is very lengthy.  I usually start mine around 7am so that it is finished around 6pm and that includes a rest period at the end of the cooking process.  You will also need to decide what type of spices you will use in your rub.  There are a million different ways to do it.  I like to keep it simple and let the smoke do all the work.  Here is my base brisket rub recipe.

    1 tbsp. - Cumin

    1 tbsp. – Paprika

    1 tbsp. – Garlic Powder

    1 tbsp. – Onion Powder

    1 tbsp. – Dried Oregano

    1 tbsp. – Sea Salt

    1 tsp. – Ground Fennel

    1 tsp. – Dried Mustard

    1 tsp. – Cayenne (optional)

    1 tsp. – Coriander

    1 tsp. – Ground Pepper

     

    This is usually enough to thinly coat the brisket.  Before you place the rub onto the brisket you will need to cover it in a liquid.  I usually use White Buffalo Kitchen honey simple syrup with just a splash of apple cider vinegar.  But you can use water or any kind of simple syrup or none at all.  Mustard also works really well.  I put the rub on about 30 minutes before I start smoking the brisket.  This whole process is going to take around 11-12 hours so make sure you plan accordingly and can be present throughout the day, especially if you are unfamiliar with your smoker.

     

    Knowing your smoker is very important.  Mine is just a cheap one that I made out of a metal trashcan.  It is a hot smoker that uses a propane fueled flame to heat the woodchips.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of smoker that you have just keep it around 200 degrees for the entire cooking process.  I use different kinds of chips.  They are always wood and most often hickory or apple.  I like the kind that is large and chunky.  I soak half of the ones that I will be using in water over night. 

     

    So you have your smoker going and you are up early in the morning and ready to place the brisket in the smoker.  Place it in the smoker fat side up directly onto the rack. Some say smoke in a dish but I find that this doesn’t allow the meat to be exposed to the smoke enough.  The whole reason of smoking meat in my opinion is to have a nice smoky flavor and a good bark (thick flavorful crust which is the product of a good smoking session).  The reason you place the fat side up is so that while the brisket is smoking the fat melts and drips all over the meat.

    So you will have to play will your smoker to figure out how to get it to maintain a constant temp around 200 degrees F.  I let it cook for a minimum of 5 hours on the rack.  Then I will take it off and wrap it up in foil and cook it another 3-4 hours until it reaches an internal temp of 190 F. Then turn your smoker off and remove the covered brisket and place onto a sheet pan.  I use a sheet pan with sides so that in case you have any leaks it gets trapped in the sheet pan and not all over your counter or floor. You should let your brisket sit covered on the counter for 1 hour.  Resist the temptation to take a peak or sample the goods. 

    After an hour you are ready to slice and enjoy.  I enjoy dipping my brisket in some kind of sauce.  Usually just a homemade mayonnaise does the trick!  Just know that the more you smoke meats the better you get at it.  Don’t get discouraged if the end product doesn’t live up to your expectations.  Like anything in life, you will need to practice and build up knowledge and experience over time and it will reflect in the taste and texture of your smoked meats.  Smoking meat can be an expensive endeavor as well.  So do your homework or practice on smaller less expensive cuts of meat.

    Bacon Fried Chicken

    Bacon Fried Chicken

    Since I was a child I have always enjoyed homemade fried chicken.  I used to request for my birthday meal when I was growing up.  So once when went onto GAPS diet and grain-free I never thought I would be able to find a replacement.  But I did and I think it is even better.  No carb crashing involved with this fried chicken either.  You will definitely need quite a bit of prep time to make this meal but it is worth it.  

    We usually use both white and dark meat with this.  2 breasts and 2 thighs is usually enough for 4 people.  You will need the following for your breading mixture:

    1.5 Cup Almond Flour

    1 Cup Shredded Coconut (unsweetened)

    0.5 Cup Coconut Flour

    1 tsp Salt

    1/2 tsp Black Pepper

    1/4 tsp Cayenne

    1/4 tsp Chili Powder

    1/4 tsp Paprika

    Mix the above in a large bowl with a whisk.  Get another bowl and add two whole eggs and whip them until thoroughly blended.  I like to set up what I call a breading station.  You have your egg mixture on the left and add your sliced chicken into it.  To the right of this have your bowl with the breading ingredients in it.  And then to the right of this put a tray to put your breaded chicken on.  I like to use gloves when I do this because it can get very messy.  Also if you can just use one hand for the egg bowl and the other for the breading bowl you can avoid large buildup on your hands.

    The reason I call this Bacon Fried Chicken is because we fry the chicken in bacon fat.  I save the fat from all the bacon that I cook.  It is really easy to do.  I just strain it into a jar through some cheesecloth.  Then I keep it until it is full and that is when I know it is time to make some fried chicken.  So take your bacon fat or whatever you will be using to fry the chicken and turn the heat to medium in a large frying pan.  Once the oil is hot you can add a few pieces of chicken into the hot oil.  I usually check it by just sticking the tip of a chicken piece in there and see if I get a reaction.  You do not want to overload the pan with chicken.  You will actually get done faster if you do smaller batches.

     

    Just cook the chicken until it is slightly browned on each side.  I usually don't put a ton of bacon fat in the pan so I have to turn them over and cook both sides.  As you can see from the photo the pieces of chicken are only partially submerged.

    We will usually eat this with some broccoli slaw or steamed veggies.  I like sauces so we will often make a BBQ style sauce using some home made mayo as the base.  They are really easy to make with some spices, tomato paste, and vinegar.  We barely ever have any leftovers from this meal, which is rather unfortunate because it is one of my favorites!

    Smoked Salmon

    Smoked Salmon

    This is a good one to do any time of the year.  We found a family that owns a fishing boat in Alaska and they live in Breckenridge for parts of the year.  They sell some really good salmon that they catch.  We usually by one or two cases of them a year.  It is a little cheaper than buying at the store but you will have to have a freezer to keep it in. 

    Smoking a salmon requires a bit of prep.  It will take about 2 days to get the side of salmon ready.  First put a large piece of tin foil onto a sheet tray with sides and then top it with plastic wrap.  This isn't absolutely necessary but will help you from making a giant mess.  Put the salmon on top of the plastic wrap centered on tin foil skin side down.  Then season with whatever you like.  And don't skimp!  A good all around one would be:

    1 Tbsp Salt

    1 tsp Garlic Powder

    1 tsp Onion Powder

    1/2 tsp Paprika

    1/2 tsp Black Pepper

    1/8 tsp Cayenne

    1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

    If you want to get creative you can add herbs as well.  You basically just want spices, copious amounts of salt, and a sweetener.  After you season it up you can wrap it up in the plastic wrap and then the foil.  Place in fridge for 24 hours.  Once it has marinated/cured for 24 hours you will want to thoroughly rinse all of the seasonings and liquids off of the fish.  You can be fairly aggressive with this.  If you don't get all of it off the surface then it will be way to potent in flavor.  Then set it back on your sheet tray and place in fridge for another 24 hours uncovered.  You want it to dry out.  If you are in a hurry set it on a counter and place a fan on it. 

    Then prepare your smoker to about 180-200 degrees and cook fish until the internal temp is 135-140.  I let the smoker warm up so that my fish doesn't stick to the rack.  You should also make sure your metal rack is clean and lubed.   Anything over 145 gets a little dry in my opinion but some people that is there desired goal.  I want it more like a smoked cooked treat not jerky and that is why I cook it to a lower temp.  There should be little exits of fat oozing from the fish.  I always cook with the skin side down otherwise known as presentation side up.

    Grilled Salmon with Sweet and Savory Hash

    Grilled Salmon with Sweet and Savory Hash

    Grilling fish can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be.  Salmon is my favorite fish to grill.  It holds up great and tastes wonderful with grill marks.  Keep it simple and just season the fish with salt and pepper.  Oil the fish well on all sides and then cover with salt and pepper.  Once oiled and seasoned set aside and start the sweet and savory hash.

    For the hash you will need:

    4-6 Yellow Squash (medium diced)

    1 Red Onion (julienne)

    1 Green Apple (peeled, cored, and diced)

    2 Garlic (minced)

    1 medium container of Spinach (1/2 lb.)

    1 tbsp. Fresh Thyme

    Chicken Broth or Water

    In large sauté pan add some oil of your choice.  I prefer coconut oil or ghee.  Get oil hot and add onion and cooked until soft.  Then add squash and cook until caramelized on a few sides.  This will take 20 minutes cooking on a medium setting.  Then add the apple and cook for 2 minutes and then add spinach garlic and just a few tablespoons of broth or any liquid of your choice.  Cook until spinach is wilted (2-3 minutes) and then add the thyme.  This is ready to eat.  For extra flavor add 1-2 tbsp. of butter to the hash.

    To grill the fish first heat up your grill to about 450 degrees with the lid on.  If it is gas turn it on high and shut the lid and let get hot for 10-15 minutes.  Then once the grill is properly heated open it up and scrape it clean and then oil the grill grates.  Place the salmon on presentation side down (skin side up).  Cook on high with the lid open for 5-6 minutes.  You want to make sure that you get some nice marks on the fish.  This will make it taste and look good as well as making it not stick to the grill when you go to turn it over. Turn it over and cook for 2-4 minutes with the lid open.  This should be cooked to around a medium temp.  Nice and cooked through but not over cooked and dry.  We always squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto the salmon before we eat it.

    This is a fairly easy meal to make.  The hard part is timing it correctly.  The more you practice the better you will get.  This is a great summer time meal and you can change the herbs up in the hash or add different spices to the salmon.