The arrival of grilling season always inspires new ideas for outdoor cooking, whether on a gas or charcoal grill, or in a smoker. Since purchasing a Big Green Egg combination grill/smoker a couple years ago, I’ve been working on my BBQ game, improving in consistency, but also identifying what I still don’t understand. And if you are like me, and most backyard barbecuers, you might only fire up your smoker on the weekend, so you don’t get the repetition needed to really master a cooking technique. It does help to take notes, so you can remember what worked or didn’t work the last time!
I started following the Sandy Beach Barbecue Company on Instagram over a year ago and was impressed with the images of their food cooked on the Big Green Egg. They have a lot of fun doing demonstrations at their Big Green Egg dealership on the shore of Lake Freeman just south of Monticello, Indiana. As the weather slowly, and laboriously, warmed up this spring, I decided to call Michelle and Andy Schwindler, owners of Sandy Beach, and ask if they would show me their set up and be my guest on the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast. They enthusiastically agreed!
When I arrived, Andy had two of the Eggs fired up, one filled with chicken and cauliflower roasting in the smoky heat, and the other in preparation for an appetizer of melted brie, blueberries, and pecans. Was I in for a treat! Andy and Michelle could not have been kinder and more hospitable with their time, knowledge, and food.
See the pictures from my visit below and see more from the Sandy Beach Barbecue Company on Instagram and Facebook and at their website. They have a full slate of live fire dinners featuring low and slow BBQ, wood-fired pizza, surf & turf, and other options.
Full disclosure: I did not purchase my Big Green Egg from Sandy Beach. But I wish I had, as you will hear at the end of the podcast. Happy grilling, smoking, and BBQ’ing!
On the new Indiana Home Cooks podcast episode, we talk about all the food shown here and how it was cooked. Top to bottom: Andy at the Egg; whole chicken, drumstick lollipops, & cauliflower steaks; breaking down the chicken; melted brie with blueberries and pecans; lunch!
I enjoy playing around with different flavors in traditional recipes and giving them a fresh spin. For instance, from-scratch chicken noodle soup can be brightened up with the addition of fresh ginger, lime, and cilantro, and maybe a dash of fresh diced jalapeño or other hot pepper for a slight kick.
One day a few years ago I was preparing pot roast ingredients to load into the Crock Pot, when it dawned on me that I could take this standard family fare in another direction. Instead of the usual pot roast seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, etc., and onions, carrots, and potatoes with gravy, what about an Italian twist? Instead of the carrots and potatoes, how about diced tomatoes and red bell pepper, along with the onions, and thyme, oregano, basil, and parsley for seasoning? Oh, and a splash of red wine couldn’t hurt. When the roast is cooked to fork-tenderness, pull it apart in chunks, and serve it over creamy polenta with a drizzle of olive oil, some chopped fresh parsley, and, of course, grated Parmesan cheese.
The whole scenario ran through my mind in an instant. So I followed my inspiration, and my Italian Pot Roast turned out fabulous!
Part of my thought process involved how I could use polenta. I had known about this creamy cornmeal dish for some time, seeing it on TV cooking shows, in magazines, and elsewhere. Along with pasta, it is a staple of Italian cuisine. To us Hoosiers, it’s known as grits.
I thought I should be authentic and use “polenta” so I found a quick-cooking Italian polenta that I used the first few times I made it. It was perfect with the Italian Pot Roast, serving as a creamy bed on which to ladle the tender beef chunks and sauce. But lately, when I make polenta, I pull out the Quaker Yellow Corn Meal and cook it according to the directions for Corn Meal Mush on the box. I add a little butter, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese, and maybe a splash of milk to keep it creamy. It’s delicious and comforting.
A recent discovery I’ve made is another grits product that makes a fine polenta–Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn Grits. It’s a bit pricey, but delicious, and the orange corn is a brighter color on the plate if you are serving it with the Italian Pot Roast or Shrimp & Grits. Professor Torbert is a real professor of agronomy at Purdue University, who developed a special line of corn that is higher in beta-carotene, giving it a more orange hue. He has turned his orange corn into a specialty food product. I hope to share his story on a future episode of the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast.
In the meantime, give the Italian Pot Roast a try. You can cook it in your slow cooker, roasting pan or Dutch oven. All three methods are explained below, and you can hear me cooking it here. Enjoy!
Italian Pot Roast (Serves 4-6)
One 2 to 2.5 lb. chuck roast
One medium to large onion, roughly chopped
One bell pepper, any color, roughly chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup beef broth*
1/2 cup red wine*
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
Italian flat-leaf parsley, one handful chopped fresh, or 1 tsp dried
1 T sugar
Kosher salt & pepper
Grated parmesan cheese
Cooked polenta (directions below) or bite-size pasta, such as ziti
If cooking in a slow cooker (Crock Pot), reduce amount of wine/broth by half. Use a 1/2-cup of EITHER broth or wine, or reduce to 1/4-cup each.
Slow cooker instructions:
Put roast, veggies, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, broth/wine, herbs, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste in cooker. Cook on low for 10-12 hours. Or cook on high for 5-6 hours.
For conventional oven, preheat to 325º. Combine all ingredients in a large roasting pan as instructed for slow cooker above. Cover pan with foil or a lid, and bake 2.5 to 3 hours, till fork tender. When done, remove from oven, and let sit, covered, up to 30 minutes.
Conventional oven, plus extra flavor step for braising:
Season roast on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat an oven safe pot, like a dutch oven, on the stove on medium setting. Drizzle about 1 T. olive oil in hot pan and place roast in to sear. About 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove roast from pot and set aside.
Lower heat to med-low and pour in broth and wine. Allow it to boil and scrape up bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pot, 2-3 minutes. Carefully add roast back to the pot, season with thyme, oregano, and basil. Add onions, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar.
Cover pot and place in preheated oven, and allow to braise for 2.5 to 3 hours, till fork tender. When done, remove from oven and let the roast sit, covered, for up to 30 minutes.
To serve, pull roast apart into chunks and stir it into the sauce. Ladle over cooked polenta or pasta in bowls, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese. Makes great leftovers.
To make polenta:
You don’t have to buy “polenta.” Use Quaker Yellow Corn Meal and follow the instructions for cooking “Corn Meal Mush” on the box. When it has finished cooking and is thick and creamy it is ready to serve. If it thickens up too much before you are ready to serve, add a bit of milk and whisk. It’s also tasty to stir in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and 1/3 to 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
Defining our state’s culture is the at the core of the Indiana Artisans. Since 2008, this non-profit program has been identifying the best of the best craftspeople and food makers in the state, and helping them market their products and build a brand that signifies “the best” of Indiana.
The annual Indiana Artisan Marketplace, held in early spring at the State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, is one showcase for these artisans. The new episode of the Indiana Home Cooks Podcast features three of the food artisans at this year’s Marketplace: Lathay Pegues, founder of JohnTom’s BBQ Sauce, based in Muncie; Sister Jean Marie Ballard of the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand; and Angie Burton, of Burton’s Maplewood Farms in Medora.
Each of these artisans has a unique story about how they turned a traditional recipe into something they can share with folks in the Hoosier State and beyond. From a grandfather’s barbecue sauce, to baked goods with German roots, to a new spin on Indiana maple syrup, these are a small sample of the variety of foods and food stories that come from our Hoosier Heartland.
Look for Indiana grown and produced foods in your local grocery and other small retailers, and at farmers markets, local fairs and festivals. You might be surprised at the variety but certainly not at the quality of products available.
Here are the links to the artisans featured in this episode:
For over a year I’ve wanted to feature Sweet Revolution Bake Shop on the Indiana Home Cooks podcast. And it was worth the wait to interview co-owners Sarah McGregor-Raye and Jonathan McGregor. Hear the Sweet Revolution episode RIGHT HERE.
In the nearly two years this sister and brother team has been in business in downtown Lafayette, they have honed their recipes and their selection to include a wide assortment of delectable pies and pastries, including croissants, tarts, scones, muffins, cheesecakes, cookies, macarons, and my personal favorite, bourbon-chocolate-pecan-banana bread. They’ve developed a loyal clientele, many of whom are sorely disappointed if their favorite pastry treat has run out, such as bourbon-chocolate-pecan-banana bread. So Sarah and Jonathan strive to keep their customers happy and the display cases well-stocked with mostly sweet, and a few savory, pastries and pies.
Sarah’s training, experience, and passion as a pastry chef and Jonathon’s business sense and jack-of-all-trades abilities have come together in Lafayette, Indiana, and our community is the richer for it. Stop in for a pie to take home, and treat yourself to one of their many pastries or individual desserts. While you’re there you may wonder, like I did, how they crank out such a variety of treats, like bourbon-chocolate-pecan-banana bread, from that tiny kitchen. The answer is, it takes precise timing, scheduling, and a bit of choreography. And Sarah and Jonathon are making it work. In the picture below Sarah is mixing the BCP banana bread while the stand mixer in the background is whipping up filling for the macarons.
Sweet Revolution is located at 109 N. 5th Street, in Lafayette, Indiana. They are a fixture at the Farmers Markets in downtown Lafayette and on the Purdue campus. Learn more about the bake shop at sweetrevolutionbakeshop.com. And thanks, Sarah and Jonathan, for bringing us your fabulous pastry creations!
For the latest episode of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast, Time for Indiana Wines, I visited the Horticulture Congress put on by Purdue University recently in Indianapolis. I was specifically interested in the program for Indiana wine makers and grape growers. The Purdue Wine Grape Team organizes the sessions, offering technical instruction as well as marketing and management information for attendees. Listen to the episode HERE.
In the episode, I talk with Kris Kane, wine maker and owner of 21 Brix Winery in Portland, New York. He was a guest speaker at the Hort Congress, sharing his story of building a successful winery within a multi-generational diversified farm, like many in Indiana. I also spoke with Indiana wine maker Shane Christ, of Satek Winery in Fremont, Indiana, and Katie Barnett of the Purdue Wine Grape Team. The team is rolling out a year-long marketing push for Traminette wine, made from Indiana’s signature grape. For more details on Traminette and upcoming wine events in the state, visit indianawines.org.
For nearly three decades, the Purdue Wine Grape Team has worked with wine makers and grape growers in the state to develop and grow the industry and improve production methods. In that time, the number of wineries in the state has increased from around ten to one hundred, producing over a million gallons (five million bottles) of wine each year. Acreage of wine grapes is small, but gradually increasing throughout the state. The industry is home-grown and self-supported, getting a boost from the Indiana Wine Grape Council, established by the Indiana General Assembly in 1989. The work of the Council and the Wine Grape Team is funded through a five cent per gallon tax on every gallon of wine sold in the state.
Indiana wineries are everywhere in the state. Check the Indiana Wines website to find wineries near you and seek them out. They are happy to share their knowledge and passion for wine, and offer tastings and special events to spread awareness, understanding, and the fun of Indiana wines.
This short IHC episode explains the information outlined in the previous blogpost. The podcast is undergoing some updates. Have a listen and I’ll see you soon with another episode about FOOD!
Thanks for listening and following the blog.
Technical note: Sorry for this bit of duplication of effort. I did not like the way the last blogpost went out. It was an automatic posting from Podbean after I published the last episode there. Still fine-tuning the settings on Podbean and the blog. Again, my apologies.