It’s been some time since my last effort on blogland here. There’ve been quite a few business distractions lately, plus we’ve done little of note that honestly, is either worthy of documentation or your effort to read.
Miners Mix just finished the Madera Wine Trails event that was held Nov 7 and 8. The Madera Vintners Association holds these events thrice/year and they’re well worth the visit. We’ve been at the same winery, San Joaquin Wine Company, for the last several years. Being overly fond of really good wine and better people, this is one of the events to which all of us look forward to working. All the wineries in Madera are far less pretentious than wineries in Napa or Sonoma, and the wines, especially those from San Joaquin Wine Company are pretty much the equal of anything from those better known regions at 25% or less of the price of your average Napa bottle. This place is an absolute winner all around in our collective humble opinion.
At one event this past Feb. which was a chocolate-themed event, we went out on a limb and made three versions of chocolate truffles containing our Fire in the Hole Ghost Pepper Rub, Pepperhead’s Hotbanero Rub, and Wholly Chipotle Rub. The truffles were such a smashing success that we decided to make them again. The candy was simply a vehicle to sample our hot rubs, but we had so many folks actually asking where they could buy them that we may actually explore production and marketing options!
The truffles were wonderful tools that enabled folks to try the hot rubs and experience the different burns from the different chiles in the rubs. There was not enough chile in the recipe to really light folks up, yet one could still experience the different heats and relative intensities of the chiles in the rubs. Chipotle imparted almost no heat at all; at the most the Wholly Chipotle rub yielded a smoky chocolate and a very, very slight tingle. Hotbanero seemed to promote a more forward and immediate heat while Fire in the Hole imparted a slower burn that intensified over a few seconds and was more noticeable in the rear of one’s mouth. A great thing about using truffles for sampling was that the heat was all gone in a few seconds.
These truffles are stupid simple to make. FYI: Stupid simple is at the very core of the entire cooking philosophy of Miners Mix. If you’re reading this blog hoping to see some pictures of beautiful presentations and haute cuisine, it ain’t gonna happen!
Miners Mix stupid simple truffle recipe:
- 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted
- 2 tablespoons vanilla (or your favorite alcohol – rum, brandy and bourbon all work well)
- 1 tablespoon of Miners Mix Fire in the Hole, HotBanero, or Wholly Chipotle rub.
- In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Stir in melted chocolate, vanilla and the hot rub until no streaks remain. Refrigerate for about 1 hour. Shape into small balls. We color coded the balls with red sugar sprinkles being Fire in the Hole, powdered sugar being HotBanero, and cocoa being Wholly Chipotle.
We usually try to highlight one rub or another at these events, so I always drag a BBQ grill to set up out back. Besides the staple Miners Mix signature garlic bread demo tidbit, we’ve done salmon and tilapia with our Miners Mix Salmon Marinade, shrimp with the Miners Mix XXX-Garlic Rub, Miners Mix Bean Dip, Miners Mix Chorizo, Mexican Au Gratin potatoes with Miners Mix Chorizo Blend, Mushrooms with Miners Mix Steak and Veggie, marinated chicken pieces with Ranch dressing and Miners Mix Kit’s K.C. Rub, and pineapple dusted with Miners Mix Wholly Chipotle. All of these get the customary Miners Mix eye roll along with an OMG! nearly 98% of the time. You can browse the full line of Miners Mix products here.
We had never done anything with Miners Mix Maynard’s Memphis Rub before, even though we all feel it’s one of our best products. Ribs or pork butts require many hours to do properly, and serving samples out to a thousand or so people can become problematic. Oh well, time to suck it up and jump into the fire, er smoke!
For this last Wine Trail event, I decided to smoke a bunch of Maynard’s-rubbed butts on the famed Miners Mix reverse-flow offset pit smoker and then bag and freeze them for a few days before the wine trails event. The butts were slow-smoked with almond wood at about 230F for about five hours. I like to finish them in aluminum roasting pans covered with foil and baked in the oven for another five to eight hours at 275 F or so. The roasting pans catch all the good smoked grease and juice that can be separated and then frozen for later use in many other dishes to impart smoky goodness.
The night before Wine Trails, I set the butts out to thaw, then the next morning into the coolers and off to the event they went.
Once the BBQ grill was up to temperature, into the trusty grill basket went each butt, one by one, or depending on size, half butt by half butt. The pork was turned and stirred in the basket and dusted with additional Maynard’s Memphis Rub, and the pulled pork became crispy smoky pulled pork carnitas goodness.
Look at those pieces of red smoke-ring!
I love pulled pork done this way. My son calls traditional pulled pork “string cheese pork” because it usually has the consistency of string cheese, or worse. Using a grill basket facilitates occurrence of a Maillard reaction in the same way that a seared steak tastes superior to one that has been boiled. The pieces become crispy which intensifies the flavor and provides a mouth-feel character that is not present in traditional, soggy pulled pork. Even slathered with sauce, the crispiness of pork from a grill basket is still noticeable and the flavor is a great addition. Highly recommend the stir friend carnitas pulled pork!
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