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.
In this BONUS TRACK of the Indiana Home Cooks podcast, my daughter, Christine, and I make a quick and easy sweet treat that will have everyone standing in the kitchen crunching and munching the moment it’s done. It’s my Caramel Corn cooked in a paper bag. Hear it HERE.
My mom made this recipe many times when we were growing up. But I had not tried it in ages. When I ran across it in my recipe file a few years ago around Christmas time, I decided I would give it a try on Christmas Day. Something fun to do while celebrating the holiday.
I remembered the caramel corn tasting good when my mom made it, but I had forgotten how addictive it can be! It is very hard to stop eating it once you start. That’s why I hurry and package as much of it as I can to give as gifts. It’s perfect to pass out to neighbors, co-workers, or as stocking stuffers.
Give it a try while the kids are home on winter break. Or if you need a snack to take to a party. It will be time well spent. Very little time, at that.
Caramel Corn in a Paper Bag
8 quarts of popped popcorn (unseasoned)
1 C. brown sugar
½ C. butter
¼ C. light corn syrup
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda (measure and set aside)
One paper grocery bag
Note: All microwave cooking instructions are for HIGH POWER, 1100 watts.
Put popped popcorn in paper grocery bag and set aside.
Have 2-3 large baking pans ready to cool caramel corn.
Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a microwave-safe bowl.(1 to 2 quart capacity) Note:caramel mixture will expand and bubble during cooking so make sure your cooking vessel is large enough. Set aside the baking soda.
Microwave caramel ingredients together for 2 minutes. Stir mixture, and then microwave for 2 more minutes. Add baking soda and stir.Mixture will become foamy.
Pour caramel mixture over popcorn in paper bag.Fold closed and shake bag to distribute caramel. Keep bag closed at all times during cooking and shaking. Place bag in microwave oven. If your microwave does not have a turntable, pause a few times during cooking to move bag around.
Microwave for 1.5 minutes, then shake bag.
Microwave for 1 minute, shake bag.
Microwave for 45 seconds, shake.
Microwave for 30 seconds, shake.
When done, open bag carefully away from your face. Pour caramel corn out onto cookie sheets to cool.
My husband and I recently attended a concert performed by the Brubeck Brothers Jazz Quartet. It was swingin’ and be-bopin’ for sure. And it happened to be during the week I was putting together the newest podcast episode with my friend and guest Stephanie Hainje. Listening back to the interview, conducted over wine, caprese salad, and a fresh loaf of my sourdough bread, I realized that our discussion had the free-wheeling feel of a improvisational jazz jam session.
Well…that might be overstating it a tad….But we had a blast sharing our summer cooking experiences, tips, and ideas. It was our farewell to summer, and hello to fall. Enjoy the show (just hit the play button above) and here’s one of the recipes Stephanie is cooking this fall–Roasted Red Pepper Soup. It comes from houseofyumm.com.
You can see more of what Stephanie is cooking on her Instagram page @destinysdishes.
And speaking of fall soups, and improvisation, I performed a kitchen improv tonight for dinner. Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup. I’ll have the details soon, and a BONUS TRACK of the podcast to talk you through the recipe. Stay tuned!
Congratulations to David Thieme and Thieme & Wagner Bar, now brewing full-time their own family beer recipes! It’s a resurrection, of sorts, of the pre-Prohibition Thieme & Wagner Brewing Co. Great article in the Lafayette Journal & Courier on Sunday.
David Thieme was the guest on my second Indiana Home Cooks podcast episode last year. If you never heard it, or want to listen again, click the play button above. That episode, and all the others, are available for listening on demand at iTunes/Apple Podcasts or Stitcher (links at the top of the page), or wherever you get your podcasts. Please subscribe, and if you like what you hear, leave a review. It’s wonderful to hear from listeners. If you have a topic you would like to hear about, leave me comment right here on the blog, or in the podcast review section where you listen. Of course you can always comment on Facebook and Instagram, where you will find me @indianahomecooks. Thanks!
Here is a small sample of the memorabilia you’ll find on the walls of Thieme & Wagner Bar, 652 Main St., Lafayette, IN…
My daughter Christine and I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, in May to visit friends and our old stomping grounds. (Read more about it in my previous post here.) On the new podcast episode, we are in the Manhattan kitchen of Karin Matta cooking up an indulgent cauliflower crust pizza.
Also in the new episode we hear more from Sharon Davis of the Home Baking Association. During our chat she mentions the King Arthur Flower website as a superb resource for home bakers. I agree. I have done a lot of sourdough baking recently and have used many tips and recipes from KAF.
See pictures of some of my sourdough baking and other dishes @indianahomecooks on Instagram.
Scroll down for pictures from our Kansas excursion
Karin’s Cauliflower Crust Pizza
1 cup cooked, riced cauliflower
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp crushed garlic
½ tsp garlic salt
Shredded cheese (for topping)
Your choice of additional toppings (olives, meat, grilled onions, mushrooms, etc) – note that toppings need to be precooked (they will be reheated when you complete the broiling process below).
To “rice” the Cauliflower:
Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks.Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain.Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it.(If you don’t have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese greater).Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time).There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself. – I suggest 4 minutes if only doing 1 cup.I generally shred the entire cauliflower and make a larger pizza (i.e. doubling all ingredients) or multiple pizzas crusts at one time and freeze extra pizza crusts for future use.
One large head should produce approximately 3 cups of riced cauliflower.The remainder can be used to make additional pizza crusts immediately, or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week.We also use riced cauliflower as “rice” by heating it with butter and adding ground meat (or chicken) and additional vegetables for a “stir fry” type meal.
To Make the Pizza Crust:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.I use pizza stones and do not add any cooking spray or oils. Do NOT put the crust on tin foil as it is very difficult to separate it.
In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup cauliflower, egg and mozzarella.Add oregano, crushed garlic and garlic salt; stir.Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 9” round.Optional:Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.
Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes (start with less time).
Remove from oven.To the crust, add sauce, toppings and cheese.Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).
Enjoy! (Karin’s notes in italics. Adapted from Your Lighter Side.)
One summer circle came to a close when Karin and Tori visited West Lafayette at the end of June for the wedding of our daughter Christine and Logan Hack. Christine, born and raised in Kansas, is happy to express her Sunflower State heritage.
Catching up with old friends is a delightfully grounding experience. Many years may have passed, but the reminiscing brings you all right back to the same spot in time. For me, that spot is Carbon, Indiana, in northern Clay County, and our little community of friends and neighbors.
The Egloff “clan” all lived within a three-mile radius of my family’s home. The brothers Earl, Ernie, and Ralph (aka Pat), were there my whole life, and their sister Lucille moved almost next door a bit later. There was always something interesting going on with the Egloffs and their spouses and kids. Family cookouts and fishing at the Egloff pond, card parties, church activities, delicious food, and so on.
The oldest brother, Earl, was my grandfather’s best friend and fishing buddy. It was fun just listening to those two talk. It was fun listening to any of the Egloffs talk. Some were droll, some boisterous, but it was always interesting, whatever they had to say, and how they said it. The voice is so much a part of the person. Inflection, dialect, feeling, tone, it all helps define our perception of a person’s identity.
In the latest Indiana Home Cooks podcast episode, I’m joined by two of the Egloff clan. Mary Egloff, wife of Ernie, and Pat Egloff, who is also known as Ralph. (We explain the two identities in the episode!) They graciously shared memories of their younger days, and our common bonds as family friends. Sadly, both Ernie and Pat’s wife Joan are no longer with us. I recently heard an old Irish blessing that struck a chord. “Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal.” That is abundantly apparent talking with Mary and Pat. They have memories aplenty, and I am blessed to have shared in a few of them.