Seasoning for Successful Steak

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: August 01, 2023

Do you have one of those friends who serves a jaw-dropping steak every-single-time? You wishfully think of stepping into that person’s shoes and enjoying the accolades. Guess what? You can. Knowing seasonings for successful steak and how to mix and match them, you can take steak to new levels.  By the way, if you feel a little unsure, it’s ok to begin with cheaper cuts. Your practice improves your pallet. You find what you like or hate. You also begin discerning how to encourage tenderness. Stop into TikTok or Facebook for some tips to get you off on the right foot. Steak Sensation! Close your eyes. Think of steak. What immediately comes to mind? A whole piece ready for your enjoyment. However, steak has many more applications. Some ways you can use steak include; Breakfast Cheese and steak stuffed peppers Crockpot wonders Greek salad topper Fajitas French dip Sliced for sandwiches.  Steak au poivre  Steak fettuccine  Subs Tacos  Shishkabobb Stir fry I could go on for days showing you steak’s versatility and still couldn’t cover anything. As you consider your recipes, think about the final flavor profile you want. What influences will the meal reflect? These ideas really personalize your fare. It can become your signature steak dish! Herbs & Spices that Pair with Steak Seasoning steak is kind of like seasoning chicken. Everybody has an opinion. Out of the throng, some herbs and spices appear repeatedly. Note: This list does not include things like wine or beer that can tenderize, honey (a binder), butter, and oil. Chili pepper (various flavors like chipotle and ancho): These bring a little heat, warmth, and depth to your dish. Cuso Seasonings that include types of chili peppers include Hot Honey, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Cuso’s Dirt ®, Maple Bourbon, Dust, Grass, Tequila Lime Habanero, and Gravel. The chili plays different roles in each seasoning. For example, the chili in our Maple Bourbon produces sweetness and heat.  Garlic (powder or granules): Garlic plays well with others. More of it, and there’s a spicey end note. Less, it becomes a stagehand.  Cuso Seasonings that include garlic include Cuso’s Dirt ®, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Hot Honey, Maple Bourbon, Dust, Gravel, Tequila Lime Habanero, and Lemon Pepper. You can really appreciate the garlic’s presence in the Spicy Garlic Buffalo blend.  Onion (powder or granules): Onion helps break down steak protein so the steak is tender. It’s a mellow flavor, perfect for pairing with other spices of your choice.  Cuso Seasonings that include onion are: Hot Honey, Dust, Lemon Pepper, Tequila Lime Habanero, Gravel, and Maple Bourbon. The impact of onion comes through heavily in the Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning.  Pepper: There is a reason that pepper retains the title of the “King of Spices.” Not only was it used as currency, but it is perhaps the most common spice alongside salt used in recipes.  Cuso Seasoning with pepper are:  Hot Honey, Dust, Lemon Pepper, Tequila Lime Habanero, Maple Bourbon, and Gravel. When you want the pepper to stand out, try our Gravel seasoning.  Rosemary: The flavor profile of rosemary is savory-sweet. It’s woodsy, sage-like, peppery, and complex. The two Cuso Seasonings with rosemary are Cuso’s Dirt ® and Grass, with the Grass releasing more of the rosemary’s aroma.  Salt (Sea): There are a dozen (or more) types of salt. The three most commonly used in cooking are sea salt, pink Himalayan salt, and table salt. Salt brightens the flavor of food, taking it from bland to distinctive. Cuso Seasonings with salt are Grass, Hot Honey, Lemon Pepper, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Cuso’s Dirt ™, Maple Bourbon,  Dust, Tequila Lime Habanero, and Gravel. Salt’s presence sneaks out in each of these blends. Smoked Paprika: Paprika adds color to your dish. It provides smokiness even when you have no smoker. There’s a note of sweet barbecue, too. Cuso Seasoning with Paprika includes Cuso’s Dirt ™, Hot Honey, Spicy Garlic Buffalo , Maple Bourbon,  Dust, Tequila Lime Habanero. Paprika helps you create more visual appeal. Can’t Choose? Unless there’s a powerful theme running through a meal, you’d be hard-pressed to find steak recipes with just one or two seasonings. Sometimes it’s hard to choose. We can help with this. You have several options.  Build your own 3-pack of rubs: Pick out any three that you find alluring. We’ll bundle them into savings. Cuso's Essential Seasoning - 3 Pack (Cuso’s Dirt™ seasoning, Grass, & Lemon Pepper Seasoning): If you feel torn between flavors, start out with our essential seasoning pack to start your spice array. Cuso’s Seasoning 4 Pack: Dirt™, Gravel, Maple Bourbon, Coconut Rum - Moving up from a three pack. How about a bundle with three of our newest seasonings alongside our premier blend? Cuso's Variety 6 Pack Seasonings: When the cupboard looks bare, consider this cost-saving pack:  Dirt™, Gravel, Grass, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Lemon Pepper, and Maple Bourbon. Cuso's Variety 10 Pack Seasonings:  Go for the gusto! Get all 10 of our seasonings in one pack. PitMaster’s Memo: Steak Dressed Down Have you ever eaten a steak where you can barely taste the meat? There are so many herbs and spices that they hide the glorious flavor of a good steak. It is really okay to pull out the salt and pepper and leave it at that.  Some Side Dishes for Steak Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Big Bang Shrimp Cobb or Wedge Salad Lobster Mac n Cheese Smoked Deviled Eggs Smoked Oysters Some Drinks that Pair with Steak Amber Ale Club soda with lime Cuso's Key Lime Habanero Margarita Chef Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Old Fashioned Lemonade Red wine Links to Steak Recipes Cowboy Butter Steak Garlic Comfit Tomahawk Steak Maple Bourbon Tri-Tip Perfect Tomahawk Steak Ribeye Cap Burger Steak and Shrimp Tacos Steak Tartar Wagyu (filet mignon) Sushi

Seasonings for Successful Chicken

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: July 22, 2023

Chicken. Where to even begin? If you watch my pieces on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, you already know I love cooking with chicken. There are fairly straight-up recipes like smoked chicken breast. Or we can dive deeper into the grill and smoker a little more with perhaps my favorite part of the chicken, the wings, baby! Chicken The Ultimate Multi-Tasker People will talk about cooking high-end cuts of meat like Wagyu. Don’t let all that bravado fool you. Chicken is a multi-tasking meat. You can grill it, bake it, fry, barbecue it, or boil it. Once the meat is done, what you do with it depends on your creativity (or current craving). It is no wonder that chicken is the most common protein in the world, a distinction that’s remained since the Middle Ages.  How to Use Chicken There could well be volumes of books exploring chicken recipes. Some of the ways of using chicken include: Braised Chicken salad Fajitas One pan wonders Poached Salad topper Sandwiches Shish kabob Stir fry Well, you get the idea. The question remains, how do you season chicken? The answer depends heavily on how you prepare the meat, the flavor profile you hope for, cultural influences, and your own little twists. Herbs & Spices that Pair with Chicken If you walk to your pantry right now, you’ll probably find a lot of spices commonly used for chicken, like basil, celery salt, dill, sage, thyme, and rosemary. Truth is, there’s probably nothing you couldn’t try with chicken; understanding the results could go either way. Also, if you ask 100 people how to season chicken, you’re going to get 100 (or more) responses. Everyone chimes in with an opinion and stories of what Mama used to do.  Let’s just look at a few: Cayenne: Spicy, smoky, and fruity. Of course, you see it in rub recipes, but it also goes into stew.  Our Cuso Hot Honey, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Maple Bourbon, and Dust Seasonings all contain cayenne. If you’re thinking along these lines, check out our “make your own” 3-pack. Chili Powder: Brings depth and warmth to your dish. Think roast chicken or Mexican soup, for example.  Cuso’s Dirt ® Seasoning and Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning have chili powder. Try the Tequila Lime with lemon-lime marinated chicken. Garlic Powder or Granulated Garlic: When you want that garlicky background without too much salt or heat, garlic powder is your friend. It pairs well with nearly every other spice.  Cuso’s Dirt®, Hot Honey, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Maple Bourbon, Dust, Lemon Pepper, and Tequila Lime Habanero Seasonings have granulated garlic or garlic powder. The Dust, in particular, makes for great chicken skin. Lemon Zest: Pairs well with chives, lemon verbena, parsley, rosemary sage, and basil. Cuso’s Lemon Pepper and Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning contain lemon.  Onion Powder or Granules: Where you see garlic, you can nearly bet onion powder is in the recipe too. They’re a magnificent pair.  Cuso’s Hot Honey, Maple Bourbon, Dust, Lemon Pepper, and Tequila Lime Habanero spices have onion granules. Many of these flavors are great on fish, too. Paprika: pairs well with ginger, allspice, cumin, parsley, rosemary, and basil, just to name a few.  Cuso’s Hot Honey, Cuso’s Dirt ®, Spicy Garlic Buffalo, Maple Bourbon, and Dust Seasonings include paprika. It gets hard to decide on so many flavors, which is why we offer a four-pack and six-pack to fill your spice cupboard with richness. Pepper: The King of Spices works particularly well with lovage, dry mustard, ginger, cardamom, and cloves (just to name a few).  Cuso’s Hot Honey, Maple Bourbon, Tequila Lime Habanero, Lemon Pepper, Dust, and Cuso’s Dirt ® Seasoning include this ingredient.  Salt: If pepper is the King, then salt is the Queen. Pairs with lemongrass, chives, chili powder, cloves, nutmeg, onion powder, and mind (again, this is only the beginning) Cuso’s Grass, Hot Honey, Lemon Pepper, Garlic, and Dust Seasonings contain salt.  This is a very abbreviated list. There are so many more herbs and spices you can use on chicken. As you read recipes, you’ll find more.  Mix and Mingle: It is a rare discovery to find just one herb or spice on chicken. People mix and match with flavors they like and ones with which they’ve had success. At Cuso, we’ve created a line of 10 scrumptious seasonings, each one of which has more than one application. Sometimes, those get mingled, too!  If you’d like to play with all ten, we have a variety pack just for you. These seasonings fill your pantry with possibilities. PitMaster’s Memo: Chicken Dressed Down I would be remiss to mention you don’t have to go crazy every time you cook chicken. Sometimes “casual day” is best. Bake the skin (all over) with salt and pepper. This chicken not only tastes lovely, but because it’s “plain,” you can use it in many other preparations like chunky chicken salad. Some Side Dishes for Chicken Farro salad Fettuccini alfredo Lemon garlic spinach Maple roasted carrots Parmesan Brussels Sprouts Roasted green beans Salt & pepper vinegar crispy potato  Scalloped potatoes Some Drinks that Pair with Chicken Brown ale Orange Old Fashioned Pale ale Shiraz Sparkling grape juice Sweet tea Whisky White Wine Links to Chicken Dish Recipes Alfredo Chicken Wings Chicken Parm Garlic Bread Grilled Chicken Thighs Pesto Butterflied Chicken Drumsticks Sassy Smoked Chicken Legs Spatchcock Chicken Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Top Three Pellet Grill Recipes

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: July 29, 2023

Pellet grills are becoming more and more popular. Why? Because they’re tidy and make great smokers. If you’ve never seen one in action, you may wonder how they work. As the name implies, pellet grills use wood pellets and fans for heating food. In effect, they’re like a convection oven.  You can use your pellet grille or smoking, grilling, braising, and even baking! So, it’s very flexible to whatever recipe inspires you on any given day. One of the best features of a pellet grill, in my opinion, is you can cook hot and fast, or low and slow. There’s consistent temperature control and no open flame.  How Does Gas Grilling Measure Up? The biggest difference between a pellet grill and a gas grill is taste. The hardwood pellets pack a punch of flavor far more notable than gas or charcoal grills. Pellets come in a HUGE variety of flavors, including: Alder Apple Chili Coffee Guava Hickory Lime Maple Mesquite Orange And that’s only a few! Pellets don’t leave behind a burnt or ashy aftertaste.  Top 3 Pellet Grill Recipes There are a lot of cooking and grilling recipes from which to choose for your pellet grill. Here are three of my favorites: Reverse Sear tri-tip Using a pellet grill for Tri-Tip results in a mouthwatering, deliciously rich meat flavor enhanced with whatever smoke you prefer. Oak, maple, or hickory are excellent choices. Combine your finished steak with grilled vegetables and have a tall Lager chilled. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dirt® Seasoning, Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning, Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning Pork Belly Burnt Ends There’s something special about burnt ends cooked on a pellet grill. They’re a little sticky, a little saucy, kinda sexy, and they’re enriched with your chosen pellet smoke. Consider orange, maple, or apple flavors. For your side dish, a green bean casserole is always welcome. To drink? Sparkling cider, Amber Ale, or Zinfandel.  Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning, Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning, Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning Sensational Smoked Turkey Pastrami Pellet smoked turkey pastrami is moist and mouthwatering. I recommend hickory or pecan pellets for this dish. On the side, enjoy a wild green fresh salad. The offering from the bar might include a Manhattan or sparkling lemon water. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dust Seasoning, Cuso’s Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning, Cuso's Coconut Rum Seasoning


Italian Cowboy Butter Salmon

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 22, 2024

There is always something new under the culinary sun. Or, in this case, something old that’s getting a facelift. Cowboy butter, in general, is a blend of butter with acidic ingredients, herbs, and spices like garlic, chili flakes, chives, mustard, and paprika. It becomes its own texture and flavor in any dish.  Using Cowboy Butter Because Cowboy Butter is softened for mixing, you can harden it back up and keep it in the refrigerator until you need it. You may even want to make several batches with different flavor profiles because you can use it for so much! Rise and shine with Cowboy Butter on your cornbread or bagel, for example.  Working with steak? Beef loves the flavor of Cowboy butter. Warm it up as a bread dip, slide it under the skin of a roasting chicken, spread it liberally on fresh grilled corn… heck you can even flavor your popcorn with it! Italian Cowboy Butter Salmon Ingredients (for the Butter) 2 sticks of butter 1 tbsp minced garlic Juice of 1 lemon 2 tbsp chopped parsley 1-2 tbsp chopped basil 1 tbsp sundried tomato paste 1 tsp Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning 1 tsp Cuso’s Grass Seasoning 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes Zest of half a lemon Mix all ingredients together and chill until needed. If you want butter coins, put the mixed butter on a piece of plastic wrap, evenly distributed about 1 inch thick. Roll it up and put it in to chill, becoming a solid log. Slice the butter medallions when serving as thick as you wish.  This butter is enough for 6-8 8oz pieces of salmon. For the Salmon Salt and pepper the salmon filet on each side Broil it skin side down for 4 minutes Turn it skin side up to broil another 3-4 minutes (yum, crispy skin!) Serve on a hot bed of rice topped with a dollop of Cowboy Butter.  PitMaster’s Memo: History of Cowboy Butter The origin of the term Cowboy Butter seems a bit blurry but for the fact that it’s a type of butter suited for many foods cowboys ate on the trail. Did the trend start in Texas? Do any associated dishes have a history tied to the Old West? I don’t have an answer. What I can tell you is that Cowboy Butter is the ultimate mashup, perfect for individualizing. You know how you might go to your refrigerator and pull out all the leftovers and make an amazing dish? Cowboy Butter is a bit like that but using herbs and spices. The recipes you get from person to person vary (each of which has a secret ingredient, of course).  Sides Broccoli cheese pasta Lemon Couscous Roasted tomatoes with feta Sesame noodles Snap pea salad with Asian dressing Desserts Berry tart Blackberry scones Grilled pineapple Key lime pie Vanilla bean pudding From the bar Belgian Ale Gin and tonic Malt whisky Sauvignon Blanc Sparkling lemon/limeade 

How to Cook Sausages in the Oven

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 05, 2024

Baked Sausage Sausage sometimes seems like an afterthought. Oh, we’re grilling. Hotdogs, burgers, corn…wait, we have sausage too! Sausage can be a meal unto itself, a side dish, or an appetizer (cutting them into 1-inch pieces with honey mustard dipping sauce, for example). Believe it or not, pork sausage has health benefits. It’s high in protein, B-12, Iron, and Niacin. There is also selenium, which supports a healthy immune system. Some people swear on it as an effective part of a hangover cure.  Sampling Some Sausage Types: Bratwurst: A German product with high-quality pork with pronounced herb flavors. Grilling gives it a great crunch.  Breakfast: The perfect compliment to waffles or pancakes. A sweet and spicy blend of brown sugar, sage, red pepper flakes, and marjoram.  Chicken: A pork alternative with sage, parsley, and other herbs. Chorizo: Spicy! Includes Spanish smoky paprika (giving it a distinct color). Italian: A bold sausage, especially Hot Italian. Flavor profiles include garlic, basil, oregano, and onion. Kielbasa: A traditional Polish sausage with a distinct flavor and texture that sets it apart from Bratwurst. Smoky with a hint of garlic.  Of course, people who love making sausage tinker with flavors. You can find chicken with feta, kielbasa with jalapeno, maple breakfast sausages, Asian fusion, beef n’ garlic, and so forth. The Difference Between Sausage & Hot Dogs When pondering how to cook sausage in the oven, you may wonder what the difference is between sausage and hot dogs. I have a secret…hot dogs are really sausages, too.  Sausages ‌have a higher fat content, and their ingredients differ spice-wise. Also, hot dogs have a uniform size. The hot dog is actually a Westernized version of German wieners. Cooking Sausage in the Oven? Sausage isn’t just for grill outs. Baking them indoors does them justice, too. Your cooking time for food safety is around 30 minutes (155-165F) at 400F. If the sausage is frozen, it will need about 15-20 minutes more. Note: the thickness of your sausage affects cooking time, so use a meat thermometer. Grab your chosen sausage, and let’s get cooking. How to Cook Sausage in the Oven Preheat your oven to 400F Line a baking tray with parchment (trust me, you’ll thank me when you clean up) Lay the sausage on the paper in one layer, making sure they do not touch.  Bake, turning halfway through so the sausage gets evenly brown.  For crispier skin, use the broiler for 2 minutes.  You really can’t get simpler. Tip: Cook in bulk. Once the sausages are cool, place them in the oven on a fresh baking pan, separated. Freeze them completely and transfer them into a food storage bag for “any time” cooking! PitMaster’s Memo: Let’s get Saucy You can add all kinds of condiments to your sausage, like onions and peppers, but sauce is also a great way to personalize your meal. To use a sauce in the oven, put ½ of it on the sausage at the start of cooking and the other ½ at the end with a quick finish under the broiler. What kind of dipping sauce could you use? Beer and mustard sauce Buffalo sauce Horseradish dip Mango Chutney Peanut sauce Pineapple salsa Pico de Gallo Plum sauce Sides Broccoli with Cheese Polenta Roasted Tomatoes with Sweet Peppers Salt Potatoes Stuffed Mushrooms Desserts Apple Pie Blueberry Muffins Cheese Tarts Pumpkin Cake Strawberry Mouse From the Bar Bloody Mary Fresh Lemonade Pilsner Spanish Malbec Whisky

Patty Melt vs. Burger

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 01, 2024

What is the challenge behind a patty melt vs. a burger? I mean, you’d think they’re pretty much the same, right? So, patty melt vs burger: what's the truth? There are similarities, but the difference is what hungry eaters crave.  The Patty Melt Structure Let’s answer the question of what is a patty melt first. The classic patty melt consists of cheese, ground meat, and caramelized onion. Patty melts go on toasted rye or sourdough (no bun allowed). Because of the bread selection, patty melts are typically square. You want to make the burger just large enough so there’s a sultry peek of patty coming out the sides of the “roll.” Compared to a burger, Patty is a simple gal. You don’t have to dress her up for a delicious, finished product. You might add a few mushrooms or bell peppers, but those are rare. At the end of the day, Patty looks a lot like her brother, a grilled cheese. Both patty metals and burgers have relatively the same calorie count, depending on the type of meat and condiment selection.  Grills love patty melts. Patty Melt Ingredients 2 tbsp butter 4 slices of rye, sourdough, or garlic bread Fresh ground salt and pepper 1.5 lb ground round 1 tbsp Extra Virgin olive oil 1 small red or white onion, sliced 4 slices Swiss, American, Provolone, or pepper jack  Instructions Take your ground beef and mix it with desired seasonings. Set aside. Using a cast-iron skillet or griddle, melt the butter Toast the bread slices in the butter on both sides Take your ground beef and mix it with desired seasonings. Add olive oil to your pan Toss in the onions, cooking until caramelized Fry the burgers, putting your cheese on top just prior to serving, along with the onions.  Assemble (toast, burger, onions, toast) PitMaster’s Memo I’m #1! So, what about the burger vs. a patty melt? By far, burgers continuously outsell as a popular food, with pizza sliding in at a close second. It’s easy to mistake a patty melt for a burger, but this guy wants all the bravado, including a hardy shake of Cuso's Gravel Spice. Give him bacon, avocado, barbecue sauce, pickles, onions, mustard, various types of cheese, and hot peppers, just to name a few. If you want to get a little messy, turn your burger into a smash burger. Burgers go together easily. You can cook it indoors or out. For the best burger, look for ground beef that’s 80% lean. Season the meat before you shape it. Do not over-handle the ground meat. If you plan to add cheese at the last minute before pulling off the heat.  Sides Beer Battered Onion Rings Green Goddess Potato Salad Husk-on Corn Spicy Sweet Potato Steak Fries Vegetable Platter Desserts Chocolate Chip Brownies Old Fashioned Sundae Caramel Pear Pie French Pastry Peanut Butter Cake From the Bar Ginger Beer Maker’s Mark Milk Shake Porter Wine Punch

Salmon Wellington

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: January 27, 2024

Move over beef. Salmon is in the house! Puff pastry-wrapped salmon ala Wellington (also known as Salmon en Croute) is moist. Add a few herbs like Cuso’s Lemon Pepper Seasoning, dill, and red onions, and you have a delight for dinner. Tip: You can apply the all-natural Lemon-Pepper Seasoning to pasta or asparagus for a bright side dish. Some consider Wellington the ultimate indulgence, ideal for special occasions. When assembled properly, it’s a work of art. Salmon Wellington, just like beef, brings together a perfect marriage of taste and texture. There’s something really satisfying about that first crunch of buttery pastry, followed by rich flavor. Salmon is delicate. Take care not to overcook it.  Ingredients Puff pastry (2 sheets) 1 lb 1-inch thick salmon filet Cuso’s Lemon Peper Seasoning 8 oz cream cheese ½ cup cooked, dry spinach 1 red onion chopped fine 2 tbsp fresh dill 1 tbsp capers Egg wash Instructions Lay out one of the pastry sheets on a cutting board Season the salmon on both sides Place the fish in the middle of the pastry sheet Mix the cream cheese, spinach, onion, dill, and capers together Smooth it evenly over the top of the salmon Use a pastry brush to apply egg wash all around the edge of the bottom pastry Cover it entirely with the second pastry sheet Leave about 1 inch of pastry around the edge; trim as necessary Use a fork to crimp the edges to avoid leaking Score the top sheet of puff pastry Sprinkle with a little salt Bake at 400F, 20-25 minutes Make sure the salmon is 125F Remove from the oven and let it rest (the salmon continues to cook a bit) Slice and serve with a creamy lemon-garlic butter sauce (optional) PitMaster’s Memo People are surprised to see salmon cooked Wellington-style. The truth is, cooking protein or vegetables in a crust isn’t anything new. The Greeks kicked things off by wrapping it in a flour-water paste. And while we hear about Beef Wellington fairly readily in foodie circles, there other proteins that adapt well to this method. Examples include: Pork wrapped in bacon with hearty mustard sauce Turkey with mushroom, garlic, and thyme paste Venison wrapped in prosciutto and Dijon mustard Sides Braised tomatoes with fennel Buttery mushrooms Italian spiced greens Lime-herb couscous  Roasted root vegetables Dessert Blackberry scones Key lime pie Parfait Seasonal fruit salad with yogurt Strawberry Orange tart From the Bar Bourgogne Chardonnay Citrus sparkling water Dry Pilsner Gin and tonic Tequila

Beef Wellington Sandwich

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: January 23, 2024

So, what’s all the buzz about Beef Wellington? For that matter, what exactly is Beef Wellington? You begin with a succulent tenderloin, combined with chicken pate, and buttery onions, all covered in a blanket of puff pastry. The end result is flaky, flavorful, and finessed.  Julia Child made Filet of Beef Wellington on her TV show, the French Chef. It was 1965, and she introduced how to make beef Wellington step by step. The show was warm and welcoming as if you were being invited to the kitchen But wait! Beef Wellington can be reimagined as a sandwich. You retain all the traditional flavors of Beef Wellington, but now it’s handheld. In my opinion, take-along food is fantastic.  Ingredients 2 lbs. Beef Tenderloin (for four people) or marbled beef ribs Cuso’s Grass Seasoning 2 Garlic whole heads, halved 2 sticks celery, chopped 2 carrots, chopped 1 Heaping tbsp of beef soup base 2-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 2 Sprigs of fresh thyme 2 cups Beef bone broth 1 ½ cups red wine Butter 2 cups cremini (baby bell) mushrooms, chopped 2 Shallots, chopped 1 tbsp flour Salt & Pepper Whole grain mustard 1 Large loaf of French Bread, Quartered and sliced Four slices pancetta Fresh parsley Instructions Place the shallots, garlic, celery, carrots, stock, Worcestershire, thyme, wine, and beef soup base into a large stockpot. Cook until it reduces by half. Strain and set aside (this is your Au jus) Lightly cover the beef tenderloin or ribs evenly with Cuso’s Grass Seasoning Heat a skillet, and place 2 tbsp butter therein Add the tenderloin, searing it until brown all over Place in a 350F until the meat reaches 125F Remove and rest While the tenderloin cooks, prepare the mushrooms. Make sure they’re diced fine. Put 2 tbsp butter in the same pan as the tenderloin.  Saute the mushrooms and shallots Slowly sprinkle a little flour evenly into the mix for thickening. In a separate pan, crisp up the pancetta.  Slice your bread and brown it up a bit Slather with the mustard, followed by a layer of mushrooms Thickly slice the meat and lay it on the mushroom mix Top with parsley and crisped pancetta (crumbled) Dip into the Au jus  Tip: If you prefer, make your mushrooms first, then panfry the beef to medium rare to skip the oven altogether. PitMaster’s Memo: The History of Beef Wellington A man by the name of Arthur Wellesley soared to fame after his victory at the Battle of Waterloo. He was dubbed the Duke of Wellington. It was long thereafter that he became Prime Minister. Since the Duke gave his chefs creative leeway, they created the special puff pastery named after him. Sides  Arugula Salad Glazed Carrots and Parsnips Mushroom Risotto Parmesan-lemon Asparagus Rolls with Honey Butter Dessert Flan Matcha Macaroons Peach Cobbler Raspberry Walnut Tort Strawberry Champaign Posset From the Bar Bourbon Brown Ale Cream Soda Martini Syrah

Smoked Beef Ribs

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: January 18, 2024

When most people visualize ribs, they’re thinking about pork ribs. Pork has a different texture than beef ribs and tends to be moister. So why make smoked beef ribs on a Traeger® grill?  Well, for one, short ribs are larger than pork ribs, so they offer more meat. The fat runs throughout the meat, making a natural tenderizer. If you are health conscious, beef ribs have vitamins and minerals that support your immune system and ramp up energy. Of course there are 101 ways to make beef ribs on a pellet grill. When you find one you like, tinker with it a bit to make it your own. In buying the meat, think 1 pound per person. They’ll really only end up with ½ pound after removing the meat.  Tip: trager beef ribs aren’t spent when you are done cooking. Save those bones, roast them, and make bone broth.  Ingredients & Tools 3 6” Slabs of beef short ribs Honey mustard Cuso’s Dirt®  Seasoning Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning Aluminum foil Disposable aluminum pans Apple, Mesquite, or Hickory smoking pellets Snapple®Mango Madness Instructions Set your smoker to 225F Remove the silver backing on the beef ribs Apply the mustard all over as a binder Rub the surface with both seasonings evenly Wrap the ribs in plastic wrap overnight Remove the next day and wait for the meat to reach room temperature Smoke your beef ribs on a Traeger® pellet grill. Place them into the smoker. How long to smoke beef ribs? About 5 hours. Smoked beef rib times vary by weight and size, so check on them.  Remove from the smoker when the ribs reach 180F Place them in an aluminum foil (one each pan) Pour the Mango Maddness over top of the ribs Cover the ribs with aluminum and return them to the smoker The beef ribs are done when they reach 200F PitMasterl’s Memo: Benefits of Pellet Grilling Many people are unfamiliar with grills, like Traeger®, which use pellets. Why this cooking method? For one, the smoke has better containment. Instead think brown clouds wafting, your guests are comfortable outdoors.  Pellet grills offer a precise barbecue experience. You don’t hve to worry about temperatures (they automatically adjust). The result is an even cook.  Sides Avacado pesto salad   Goat cheese risotto  Green bean almondine Rainbow pasta bake Turnips Desserts Baklava  Carrot cake Flan Peach cobbler Tiramisu From the Bar Cola Dry Cider Merlot Porter Whisky

Cooking Products

Chef Cuso's Holiday Gift Guide

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: November 27, 2023

The 2023 holiday season is here (wasn’t it just summer?). Searching through stores and websites can become daunting. With this in mind, Team Cuso and I always watch for products we can stand behind for present selections. These are also items I use regularly for grilling and smoking.  If there is a griller, barbecue aficionado, or food smoker in your life, take a look at Chef Cuso’s Holiday Gift Guide. Best Grills: More Affordable - Traeger Ironwood  The Ironwood grills from Traeger saturate food with the flavor of wood-fired food. It’s designed for consistency, and you can customize it! It includes a grilling light, two meat probes, and a pellet sensor built-in. Take a look at how it works in the recipe for my No Wrap Barbecue Ribs. More Expensive - Traeger Timberline A fantastic grill that offers versatility to the max. It has a touchscreen display, making it easy to use and maintain consistent temperatures. There’s also our cooktop for getting that perfect sear. Or you can use it for sauteing and frying. Observe the Timberline as I make aluminum-wrapped barbecue Ribs with Nacho Sauce. Portable - Traeger Ranger Does one of your friends or family members love camping or tailgating? The Traeger Ranger is an ideal companion (heck, get one for yourself!). The porcelain-coated grill grates and griddle, along with a meat probe, are only the beginning of the qualities of this grill. You can see it in action during this Elk’s Cheese Steaks recipe. Best Cooking Accessories:  Cuso Cuts Cutting Board Good cutting boards save wear and tear on countertops and knife edges. And the Cuso Cutting Board isn’t just for grilling and barbecue. It’s useful for all kitchen cutting tasks. Our cutting board reflects the craftsmanship for which our line is known. Made from cherry wood, it measures 16” x 12” x ¾”. Meat Thermometer: Meater Gen 2 Nothing is more disappointing than having food come out over or underdone. Meat thermometers like the Meater Gen 2 remove all the guesswork. It features a multisensor, Bluetooth coding, and it charges up quickly for that next course. It’s also waterproof! My Whisky Peppercorn Steak Sandwich recipe shows how I use it. Best Place to Buy Meat:  Alpine Butchers  When you want the best of the best, go to Alpine Butchers. I get the vast majority of meat from them, with my favorites being Australian Wagyu tri-tip and Brazilian Picanha. Here are some recipe examples: Porterhouse Steak with Brie Japanese Triple-Seared Steak Brazilian Picanha Tacos  Boujee Mac n Cheese  Brisket Style Tritip Steak  Best Chef Knife: Cuso Cuts Executive Knife At the top of every cook’s wish list are good knives. If someone can only have one good knife, this is the one to get. Our Damascus Chef Knife is a work of art (the lucky recipient will want to display it when it’s not in use). Handcrafted from 65 Layers of VG10 Damascus, the look on a person’s face after opening the box is precious.  Best Gift for a Family Member Cuso's Seasoning Gift Box: All natural and filled with flavor, you can stock a person’s cupboards with spices perfect for grilling but also baking and beyond. The set includes Cuso Dirt Seasoning, Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning, Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning, Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning, Cuso's Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning, and Cuso's Maple Bourbon Seasoning. Best Stocking Suffers Cuso Cut’s Individual Seasonings There is something for everyone in our all-natural seasoning line.  Cuso's Dirt® Seasoning: Our inaugural blend; can you say, get out the steak?  Cuso's Hot Honey Seasoning: Heat meets sweet; pair with poultry or fish Cuso's Gravel Seasoning: Slightly hot, deeply smoky; sprinkle on beef. It makes a great crust. Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning: A Taste of the Tropics; brighten up fish and chicken Cuso's Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning: Rich smoky garlic; add to compound butter or as a rub on steak Cuso's Maple Bourbon Seasoning: Caramel notes, savory; fantastic on pork and salmon Cuso’s Dust Seasoning: Builds great crust; try on fish Cuso’s Grass Seasoning: Use with chicken and root vegetables Cuso’s Coconut Rum: A taste of the islands, great on shrimp Cuso’s Lemon Pepper: Classic flavor; use with seafood and chicken   Best Grilling Apparel Item:  Cuso Cuts Patch Hat  A fashion-forward gift, wearable in many different settings. Durable and comfortable, they keep your eyes clear for focusing on the grill. Mindful choices make memories. Our Cuso Team and I want to wish you the very best of holidays.

What is Beef Tallow?

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: November 20, 2023

Beef Tallow begins its life as regular beef fat. Rendering removes impurities from the fat and allows it to solidify. I enjoy using it because it has a high smoke point and adds a unique flavor profile to dishes. In baking, beef tallow can substitute for other fats like butter or shortening. It can add moisture and a unique taste to baked goods such as pie crusts, biscuits, and pastries. For the grill, applying beef tallow keeps your meat moist.  Many products you buy these days have much of the fat removed, which is a shame because you lose that flavor. It is a great addition to anything you want to fry or sauté. Try dropping a dollop in your next soup, stew, or gravy. If you have enough, you can also use tallow for deep frying.  Other Applications for Beef Tallow Beef tallow is part of the traditional soap-making process. It helps create a hard and long-lasting bar of soap with moisturizing properties. Tallow soap is gentle, making it an ideal skin soap. Early candles were made from tallow. The nature of the tallow creates a candle that burns slowly with a steady flame. It’s a fantastic addition to votives and tapers. Beef tallow also comes into the market as skincare products that moisturize the skin. Common uses include balms and salves.  How is Beef Tallow Made? Start with beef fat from cuts like suet or trimmings from butchering. It needs to be clear of all connective tissue and meat. Cut into small pieces to increase the surface area and facilitate the rendering process. Melt the fat in a pot or a slow cooker and heat it over low heat to melt the fat Simmer for several hours. This allows the fat to separate from any water or impurities present. Strain the fat is strained to remove any solid impurities and to obtain a clear, liquid fat. The best tools for this step are a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Cool and solidify at room temperature or by refrigerating the fat. Store the beef tallow in an airtight container or wrapped in butcher paper. PitMaster’s Memo Beef tallow, also known as beef fat, has a long and rich history that spans thousands of years. In ancient times, the use of animal fats, including beef tallow, appeared in culinary efforts regularly. In many cultures, animals were raised not only for their meat but also for their valuable fat. Beef tallow was highly prized for its cooking properties and as a source of energy. During the ​Middle Ages, tallow played a significant role in ​European society. People used it widely for cooking, lighting, and even as a component in soap and candles. Tallow candles were the “go-to” for homes and churches until beeswax became popular. The invention of machinery and technological advancements during the Industrial Revolution led to increased demand for tallow. It became a vital ingredient in various industries and as a fuel source for steam engines. Tallow was readily available and relatively inexpensive. Beef tallow played a crucial role during both World Wars as a component in military rations to bolster the soldiers’ energy and nutrition. Tallow was also used to produce glycerin, an essential component in the manufacturing of explosives, medicines, and other war-related products. In the mid-20th century, the popularity of beef tallow declined because of health concerns associated with saturated fats. Vegetable oils and synthetic alternatives replaced tallow in many consumer products. But chefs were not about to let Beef Tallow fade away. Traditional fats are flavor bombs, so you’ll start seeing more recipes that include this ingredient.

Top Three Pellet Grill Recipes

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: July 29, 2023

Pellet grills are becoming more and more popular. Why? Because they’re tidy and make great smokers. If you’ve never seen one in action, you may wonder how they work. As the name implies, pellet grills use wood pellets and fans for heating food. In effect, they’re like a convection oven.  You can use your pellet grille or smoking, grilling, braising, and even baking! So, it’s very flexible to whatever recipe inspires you on any given day. One of the best features of a pellet grill, in my opinion, is you can cook hot and fast, or low and slow. There’s consistent temperature control and no open flame.  How Does Gas Grilling Measure Up? The biggest difference between a pellet grill and a gas grill is taste. The hardwood pellets pack a punch of flavor far more notable than gas or charcoal grills. Pellets come in a HUGE variety of flavors, including: Alder Apple Chili Coffee Guava Hickory Lime Maple Mesquite Orange And that’s only a few! Pellets don’t leave behind a burnt or ashy aftertaste.  Top 3 Pellet Grill Recipes There are a lot of cooking and grilling recipes from which to choose for your pellet grill. Here are three of my favorites: Reverse Sear tri-tip Using a pellet grill for Tri-Tip results in a mouthwatering, deliciously rich meat flavor enhanced with whatever smoke you prefer. Oak, maple, or hickory are excellent choices. Combine your finished steak with grilled vegetables and have a tall Lager chilled. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dirt® Seasoning, Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning, Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning Pork Belly Burnt Ends There’s something special about burnt ends cooked on a pellet grill. They’re a little sticky, a little saucy, kinda sexy, and they’re enriched with your chosen pellet smoke. Consider orange, maple, or apple flavors. For your side dish, a green bean casserole is always welcome. To drink? Sparkling cider, Amber Ale, or Zinfandel.  Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning, Cuso’s Hot Honey Seasoning, Cuso's Tequila Lime Habanero Seasoning Sensational Smoked Turkey Pastrami Pellet smoked turkey pastrami is moist and mouthwatering. I recommend hickory or pecan pellets for this dish. On the side, enjoy a wild green fresh salad. The offering from the bar might include a Manhattan or sparkling lemon water. Cuso Seasoning Options: Cuso’s Dust Seasoning, Cuso’s Spicy Garlic Buffalo Seasoning, Cuso's Coconut Rum Seasoning

Best Steak Knife Set of 2023

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: April 26, 2023

When you head out for your first apartment or home, it seems as if having a set of steak knives is essential. They appear regularly on wish lists for weddings, birthdays, and other special occasions. Better still, steak knives have both function and form. A good set is well-crafted and cuts like butter. In your search for exceptional blades, take a look at our reviews for the Best Steak Knife Set of 2023. What Helps Qualify for Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Distinction? Look for a full tang and serrated blade. Try the handle and make sure it’s comfortable in your hand. Ask yourself, “does it feel balanced?” Material-wise, stainless is the way to go, and the set should rate at least 50 on the Rockwell Hardness Scale. What is the Rockwell Hardness Scale? Basically, Rockwell hardness is a metallurgical test that indicates how resistant a blade is to permanent deformation from other materials. To make an accurate and consistent measure, the scale was created. Most steak knives rate between 45-60 hardness. Straight Edge vs. Serrated Straight edges do not cut cooked meat. More likely they tear it. By comparison, a serrated edge cuts meats, bread, and tomatoes equally well. The little serrations grip the surface of the item you’re cutting. Add having stainless steel as metal, you have a knife that resists rust and stains.  Abbreviated Knife Selection for Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Messermeister Avanta 5” Fine Edge 4-Piece Steak Knife Set This knife set has a fairly good price for its level of performance. Messermeister Avanta is attractive and comes out of the box sharp. It is a good option for gift-giving. Perceval 9.47 Series 217mm Steak Knives (Set of 2) Perceval Steak Knives are ideal for entertaining. The 9.47 knives have the distinction of having been designed by a Michelin-starred chef. People who want “flair” won’t find it here. The style is minimalist, and only two come in a set. Cuso Cuts 6-Piece Steak Knife Set If you want sublime beauty coupled with effortless cutting, you’ll fall in love with the Cuso Cut steak knives. Take them out when hosting and dinner and watch people “oooh” and “aaah” Their Rockwell scale is 58, and unlike some serrated blades, you can sharpen them with a standard sharpener. From tip to handle, they measure 9 inches.  Laguiole en Aubrac Luxury Fully Forged Full Tang Stainless Steel Steak Knives  Laguiole oli Knives had their beginning in the mid to late 1800s, so it’s understandable that they have an heirloom feel. The handles are made from mixed French woods, and each is handcrafted. This cutlery is well-balanced, tough, sharp, and corrosion-resistant. When taken care of properly, Laguiole can become an inheritance set. Wusthof Classic 6-Piece Steak Knife Set The Wusthof family company was established in 1816 with strict quality standards. Since then, these knives appear regularly on “top ten” lists. This set resists fading, heat, corrosion, and discoloration, making them easily maintained. The razor-sharp stainless steel blade glides through meat.  IMarku Serrated Steak Knives Imarku stainless steel steak knives measure 9” long. They’re made from Japanese HC steel, forged for longevity, hardness, and sharpness. The knives resist corrosion and sport double-riveted handles made from Pakka wood, providing stability. And Our Winner of the Best Steak Knife Set of 2023 Is: Cuso Cuts 6-piece Steak Knife Set While Cuso Cuts is a newer brand in steak knives, the company has dedicated itself to high-quality craftmanship and impeccable elegance. It is part of the reason we love them for recognition as the best steak knife set of 2023. Customers give them a 5 out of 5 rating for excellent customer service and having incredibly sharp blades. When you’re shopping online, the pictures don’t do them justice. They are distinct and attractive but don’t just put them away until company comes over. Use them for family dinners. 

Best Pellet Smoker of 2023

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: April 18, 2023

I love grilling (surprise? not). There is so much magic you can make with a mindfully designed, durable pellet grill. While you can find hundreds of my recipes on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, the perfect grill for you is one that inspires your creativity and withstands the test of time. With that in mind, we will crown our choice for the best pellet smoker of 2023 at the end of this article.  Time to Retire Obsolete and Broken Units You may have a charcoal grill or a gas gadget, and depending on the manufacturer, they may wear out easily. Then your neighbor comes along with a Traeger or Pit Boss, and you suddenly have a casee of grill envy. So, why not fulfill that craving with a pellet-style barbecue grill and replace old, worn-out items?  Many systems today are quite visually appealing. And we do eat with our eyes, so your unit may elicit verbal excitement and questions. What’s more important, however, is that an excellent machine makes better food. There are a lot of bells and whistles available for things like timing or monitoring internal meat temperatures. Benefits of a Pellet Smoker Pellet smokers have the ability to maintain stable temperatures without a lot of fuss. They produce far less ash than charcoal. And the variety of flavored pellets available means you get that woodsy aroma and smokiness in every bite. Our Key Considerations in choosing the Best Pellet Smoker of 2023: We look for three key attributes in grills before making any choices: Features: Boil things down to the details. Can you direct searing? Do you want to go “technical” and get a Wi-Fi system? How easy is it to clean and maintain? What is the primary metal for the system, and is it treated in any way for durability? Oh, and while not really a feature, always read the warranty options. Consistency:  You want the system’s ignition to go on easily and maintain a stable temperature every time. Similarly, the grill must produce smoke that stays even throughout your cooking process. When the grill produces superior flavor on each use, you know the product is a good one. Quality: The best pellet grills have thick insulation for keeping temperatures steady. Having tight seals throughout the unit (so no smoke escapes) and sturdy construction play a role, too Pellet Smokers up Close  Camp Chef Woodwind Pro WiFi Pellet Grill The Woodwind has features that allow you to cook with charcoal, wood, or pellets. Great versatility here. Camp Chef has excellent airflow contributing to even heating. Twin Eagles Pellet Grill and Smoker The Twin Eagles Pellet Grill has a 304 stainless steel construction. It’s sure to last. It has Touchscreen controls and comes Wi-Fi enabled. Want to cook from your bedroom – go for it! Comes with a radiant heat briquette tra and lump charcoal tray. The downside? This grill should come with smelling salts just in case you pass out from sticker shock. Weber Smoke Fire ELX 6 Pellet Grill You can achieve enviable grill marks from the Weber SmokeFire ELX. This system has a wide heat range, a dual-sided sear grate, and the ability to control your grill from your smartphone. Traeger Ironwood  XL With a full-color touchscreen WifFi, a Super Smoke Mode, and easy-to-clean features, the Ironwood XL is an impressive system. It has 924” of cooking space (party, anyone?). Awe Inspiring smoke with trustworthy consistency. PIT BOSS PB440D2 Pellet Grill Pit Boss provides a digital control board with LED read-out. You’ll enjoy both direct and indirect heating. Made from stainless steel with fan-forced convection heating. Our Winner of the Best Pellet Smoker of 2023 Is: Traeger Ironwood  XL With over 30 years of experience, it’s unsurprising to find Traeger as the MVP in the smoking world. The superior construction of this machine gives you marvelous temperature continuity. With this product, you have what seems like unending customization options. Traeger offers a complete line of accessories designed to work perfectly with your new grill, including covers, liners, shelves, and thermometers. The first time you use it, you’ll fall in barbecue love.

Best Flat-Top Grill of 2023

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: April 11, 2023

When you are ready for a new grill, you might become overwhelmed with the choice available. A flat-top grill is among them. It’s pretty straightforward, being a large griddle. The size allows you to cook more than one part of your meal at a time. But which system is the best flat-top grill of 2023? Let’s face it, your grill is an investment. You want it to work right and consistently, so a little research can narrow your choices. We did a little digging and have crowned the best flat-top grill of 2023. How to Chose a Flat-Top Grill Think about what you usually cook on your indoor griddle and for how many people you generally cook. If you have a small family, look at two burner flat-tops. For a large family, you’ll want four.  Entertain all the time? Get a five-burner unit. Next come the bells and whistles. What extras and features does the flat-top have? Look for good wheels with locks so you don’t move the grill accidentally. Are there any storage shelves or hooks? Is a cover included in the price (you WANT a cover for longevity)? How about a meat thermometer or scraper? The scraper lets you clean as you cook. Review of some Best Flat-Top Grills of 2023 Pit Boss PB757GD Four Burner This grill has side shelves and a fitted cover. It gives off 62,000 BTWs (push-and-turn style ignition) and has a drip cup for easy cleanup. The griddle is pre-seasoned, and the legs have a folding design for taking your grill with you. With 748 square inches, you can create 36 hamburgers (give or take).  Traeger Flatrock™ Flat-Top Grill You can trust Traeger to make a premium product. Beyond the griddle, you can use this flat-top grill for frying, steaming, searing, and sauteing . The Traeger Flat-top has specially designed cooking zones, so you have great temperature control for items that need to be cooked at different temperatures from one another. Love the fuel gauge. No more running out of propane. Blackstone 36” Cooking Station A cooking station with tons of room. You could cook 28 burgers and 72 hotdogs all at once. This unit comes with a built-in cutting board, side shelf, paper towel holder, and trash bag hooks. The Blackstone 36” has a battery-powered ignition button, both easy and functional. Want to take it with you? Just remove the griddle top and fold up the legs. The strong caster wheels will do the rest. Razor Griddle – 4, 62000 BTU Hungry? You can fit 57ish burgers on this flat-top at one time. This is a great system for camping and tailgating besides enjoying it in your backyard.  Clean-up is easy thanks to a custom grease management system. When you want to bring it with you, the shelves fold, and the lid locks. There are many options for what you can cook on the Razor Griddle including bacon, eggs, pancakes, steak, shrimp, tortillas, smash burgers, hash browns, and so much more. And the Winner of the Best Flat-Top Grill of 2023: the Traeger Flatrock™ First impressions matter. Out of the box, this company has well-thought-out, organized packaging. Interior boxed parts are labeled with pictures. There’s no guesswork, and the grill goes together easily. You get 360-degree casters, all of which lock. Once you calibrate the system, you will always know when your gas gets low. All three burners go on instantly and cook evenly, maximum heat of 600F. The griddle top is heavy-duty and comes with a 5-year warranty. What’s not to love?

Grilling Tips

How to Spatchcock a Chicken

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 25, 2024

The term spatchcocking isn’t something you hear every day. But once you learn how to do it, you’ll love the results you get from your recipes. I use the technique in various applications, and it almost feels like a “secret” ingredient to making amazing chicken. But you may wonder how to spatchcock a chicken. Read on.  What is spatchcocking? The term spatchcocking is synonymous with butterflying. The method cysts out the backbone initially. That may sound hard, but you can usually do it with kitchen scissors. Next, you open the chicken like a book, then flatten it on a solid surface like your cutting board. Why Fuss so Much? There are a lot of benefits to spatchcocking, the biggest one of which is even cooking. If you were to cook a whole bird, it would take you minimally 15 minutes more than one that’s butterflied. Sometimes, the lovely breast is undercooked, while other parts of your bird are too tough to eat. Spatchcocking is the solution. And you will be able to make skin with that perfect crunch. How to Spatchcock a Chicken: Step by Step Get out your cutting board and a pair of sharp kitchen shears Put the chicken on the cutting board with the breast side downward Use paper towels to pat it dry before going further Cut closely along the spine on both sides of the chicken Lift the backbone out of the bird and set it aside. This makes incredible stock. Don’t waste it! Now, turn the chicken breast side up.  Push firmly on the breast in the middle. There should be a cracking sound. The bird now lies flat on the ribs.  At this point all that remains is patting it dry once more, then marinating or using a dry rub for your recipe. I have created some all-natural rubs, some of which are ideal for chicken, including Cusos Coconut Rum Seasoning: A taste of the Caribbean in your backyard Cusos Dust Seasoning: GIves the meat a slightly smoky edge Cusos Hot Honey Powder Seasoning: The perfect blend of sweet and heat Cusos Smoky Garlic Buffalo Seasoning: Chipotle brings a subtle heat and smokiness Tips for Success Don’t rush yourself when you’re first learning. Pat your chicken dry all over. They’re slippery suckers, and you don’t want them rolling around on the cutting board.  Make sure you get as close to the backbone as possible when you cut. Why? You’re preserving meat. You’ll want to dry it again before treating it with seasonings. Get herbs everywhere you can on the bird’s surface. Let it rest a while to absorb flavors in the refrigerator.. Always bring your chicken up to room temperature before cooking. When it’s done, don’t cut into it immediately. Resting helps redistribute juices that create both tenderness and flavor. PitMaster’s Memo: Storage Once the leftover chicken cools, keep it in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Make sure it’s in a covered, airtight container. Do the same thing when freezing, keeping the chicken good for about 3 months.  Sides: Apple nut salad Cheesy cauliflower Orzo salad Potato bacon salad Squash in brown butter sauce Desserts Angel food cake with berries Banana cream pie Chocolate chip cookie bars Dessert waffles Gelato From the Bar Limoncino Merlot Sweet tea Wheat beer Whisky sour

How to Trim A Brisket

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 18, 2024

When you look at a brisket, you’ll see a long piece of meat with a lot of fat. So, you may rightfully wonder how to trim a brisket. But wait one second. You can thank some of that fat for brisket’s marvelous flavor. It’s dense and really beefy. If you are looking for savory and tender, you can’t go wrong with brisket. Learning how to trim the fat is one of the keys to a fantastic meal.  How to Shop for Brisket First, you should know that a whole brisket can weigh as much as 14lbs. However, you’ll see smaller ones at the store or have them cut by a butcher. In the supermarket, look for a bright-red prime brisket. It has a higher fat content. Lower grades are not as satisfying. This is going to sound odd, but pick up the brisket and see if it’s flexible. Now, turn it over and check for good marbling. You want a brisket that has both abundant marbling and flexibility. Tip: There are more briskets in the back. Don’t be shy about asking to see a few other than those in the case.  Avoid any brownish briskets. The color indicates exposure to oxygen, meaning the seal was not ideal. Why Trim a Brisket? The way you trim your brisket affects your cooking process. If there’s too much fat on top, smoke (and other flavors) won’t penetrate the meat fully. If you have uneven fat, the meat likewise cooks unevenly. You want the meat tidy! By the way, you are going to want a sharp Chef’s Knife for precision. How to Trim a Brisket Now you’re going to give your brisket a proverbial hair cut before you cook it. This process can yield a pound of fat easily.  Step by Step Turn the brisket fat cap down. There’s a large piece of fat just waiting for your attention.  If you wiggle your fingers into the edge of it, you can lift it up.  With your other hand, slide the knife into the pocket you’ve created.  Move your knife back and forth. Keep lifting that fat! Look at your brisket and trim it so it’s as uniform as possible Shape the brisket sides into a square by trimming along each. Don’t go crazy. Just thin strips for an even shape Move to the ends of your brisket. While they won’t be uniform, get rid of loose meat pieces and hanging fat.  Remove the silver skin and any large pieces of fat.  Time to flip it over! You do not want to get rid of all this fat. Rather, trim it to about ⅓ inch thick. Don’t touch obviously thin pieces. Again, you are going for evenness.  You can now cook your brisket however you wish (smoking is a great option). Pit Master’s Memo: Flavors for Brisket Those who grill or smoke their brisket often amp up the flavor by using a dry rub or a marinade. Applying either is a 24-hour process (leaving the meat in the refrigerator after treating it). A common marinade includes red wine, liquid smoke, onion & garlic salt, ground pepper, Worcestershire, and brown sugar. Some recipes swap soy for Worcestershire, adding some vinegar to balance out the sweetness.  If you want to use a dry rub, you’ll first need a binder so the spices stick. Binder choices include mustard, olive oil, mayonnaise, hot sauce, or even a bit of beer. Feeling decadent? Use melted butter.  But what about the rub itself? Look to garlic powder, onion powder, chili pepper, salt, a little brown sugar, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and mustard powder; all pair well with brisket. At CusoCuts, we have a line of all-natural seasonings created lovingly by Jack himself.  There’s Maple Bourbon Seasoning, for example. This enhances the flavor and brings out depth in meat. Or, if you’ve used hot sauce for a binder, you might try our Hot Honey to add some sweetness. You might also consider Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning. It gives texture to the outside of your brisket for a great bark and has a natural smoky flavor. Then too, there’s something calm and traditional like Roasted Garlic Onion. Sides Baked Sweet potato Blistered Peppers Corn Casserole Shirazi Salad Zucchini Fries Desserts Blueberry Crumble Carrot Cake Grilled Caramelized Watermelon Lemon-raspberry Popsicles Strawberry Blondies From the Bar Espresso Mojito Red Zinfandel Stout Whisky

How to Smoke a Pork Shoulder

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 15, 2024

Ever wonder how to smoke pork shoulder? I mean, this is “hunky” meat, sometimes weighing in at 18 pounds. That’s a lot of pork, and it certainly will feed you for more than one meal, let alone as an ingredient for several recipes. Uses for Smoked Pulled Pork One of the most common applications for smoked pork shoulder is in pulled pork. You can gussy up the sandwiches any way you want, be it by adding spicy slaw or dab of apple sauce.  Go the Asian route and use it in pot stickers, as part of fried rice, or Tepong pork. How about in chili, pork tamales, or Carnitas? There are also pork empanadas, grilled mac n’ cheese, Cuban sandwiches, Irish stew, or perhaps burnt ends.  Is it Pork Shoulder or Pork Butt? It is easy to confuse pork shoulder and pork butt because they come from the same region of the pig. The pork shoulder is at the thinner end and has less fat. By comparison, pork butt is from the thicker part where more fat resides. Two other names for pork shoulder are “picnic shoulder” and “picnic roast.” Shopping for Pork Shoulder What should you look for in pork shoulder when you go to the market? If you’re not getting it from a butcher, look at the package. If there is any sign of an insecure seal, don’t buy it.  Watch for good marbling (for flavor and tenderness). The meat’s color is reddish pink, and the cap should be ivory white (not grey).  When you return from the store, make sure you get the pork into the refrigerator right away.  Flavoring the Pork Before Smoking Coconut Rum: Add a fruity glaze like mango. Gravel: Especially if you’re using it for Mexican dishes. Hot Honey: Hey, some like it hot. Sweet and heat make pork shoulder delectable. Maple Bourbon: A match made in heaven. You can’t go wrong with pork and maple pairings. These are just four of our delicious line of natural seasonings, created by yours truly. Make sure to apply the dry rub the day before smoking. Leave it in the refrigerator and take it out about 30 minutes ahead of cooking.  How to Smoke Pork Shoulder: The Process Set your smoker to 225F Place a small pan of water beneath where the pork will sit Place the pork on the grates Spritz it with apple cider vinegar mixed with apple juice Let the pork shoulder smoke  Every hour, spritz it with an apple cider and apple juice mix (50/50) After four hours (for an 8lb pork shoulder), give it another spritz Cover it with aluminum foil Return to the smoker for 4 more hours. Don’t open that cover! It makes for uneven cooking, and you lose smoke.  Check the internal temperature of the meat. If it’s 200, remove it from the smoker. Let it sit covered (or tented) for at least 30 minutes. Put the finished product to work as you intended. PitMaster’s Memo: Why Pork Shoulder? The texture and flavor of slow-cooking pork shoulder are simply succulent. When cooked properly, it’s juicy on the outside, but on the outside, it produces a crispy skin. Smoking is a perfect vehicle for pork shoulder because the fat cap dissolves, creating all that flavor and tenderness.  Don’t rush the process. If you smoke at a high temperature, the meat won’t have as much time for the fat to dissolve and do its job. You’ll have chewy pork shoulder. For smoking wood, I recommend apple, orange, and maple. These are gentle woods, so you can still taste the pork.  Sides Acorn squash Apple sauce (warm) Braised cabbage Fingerling potatoes Honey carrots Desserts Bacon chocolate chip cookies Braised goat cheese pears Maple fudge Mexican flatbread Soft pretzels with caramel dip From the Bar  Cabernet Franc Hoppy IPA John Collins Rum Sparkling cider

How to Smoke a Brisket: 180F or 225F

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: February 08, 2024

I love brisket. It’s savory and beefy. When you smoke it properly, you get a tender, juicy morsel. However, there’s some disagreement as to the cooking temperature for a brisket. Leaving the lingering question: How to smoke a brisket: 180F or 255F? Let’s Talk Prep Before you get to the point of cooking, brisket needs a little attention, namely trimming. You want to get rid of thick, hard fat that doesn’t render when smoke it. Don’t be surprised if you cut two pounds of fat off a whole brisket.  Move your hand into the edge of the fat. Lift it and tuck your Chef’s knife right in there. Move back and forth, continuing to lift the fat with your free hand. Check to make sure your brisket is level at this point for uniform cooking. Rub a binder like mustard all over the brisket. Sprinkle it generously with your chosen rub.  Wrap it and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (up to a full day is great). Some of the Cuso Seasoning that accentuate brisket include: Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning: This will add to the exterior texture of your meat. Hot Honey: If you like a bit of heat and sweetness  Maple Bourbon: A well-rounded, hearty flavor Roasted Garlic-Onion: A tried and true combination that plays nicely with other spices. What Pellets to Use for Smoking Brisket? If you like robust tastes, lean toward hickory. To tone down hickory, mix in oak.  Fruit words are a natural marriage, like cherry and apple. Then, too, think of maple, something brisket loves. How to Smoke a Brisket 180F-225F? Now, down to the specifics. Both temperatures have their benefits. If you have a high-quality, well-marbled brisket, 180F is ideal. As the interior fat melts, it becomes a natural tenderizer. 180F produces a subtle smokiness. Smoking brisket at 180F is perfect if it’s a thin cut. Just realize the 180F temperature does not create a crust. It stands to reason that smoking a  brisket at 180F will take longer than at 225F, so keep an eye on it. Watch for an internal temperature of 185F (it will come up to 190 while it rests). If your brisket has little marbling or inconsistent marbling, the 225F temperature for smoking a brisket makes sense. It smokes the meat more quickly, preventing rubberiness, and produces a rich smokiness. If you’re lucky, doing it this way may create a sought-after smoke ring.  Besides reducing your time at the grill, this temperature results in even cooking. Plus you get that oh, so, desired exterior crust. Want the best of both worlds? Start smoking your brisket at 180, then turn up the temperature at the end of your cook for crust and applying any sauces. PitMaster’s Memo: Brisket Intel There’s more to this cut of meat than just how to smoke it at 180F or 225F. People ask me questions about it all the time. So here are a few tidbits of intel. Brisket comes from a cow’s lower chest. It’s tough because it bears 60% of the cow’s body weight Brisket, when appropriately cooked, tastes like a fatty ribeye steak Brisket is so big most butchers cut it in half for their clients, the first cut being preferred. Pastrami and corned beef begin as brisket Brisket is a traditional part of the Jewish Passover observance Sides Bread and butter coleslaw Corn casserole (or grilled corn) Feta roasted potatoes Quick pickles Sweet n’ sour roasted carrots Desserts Cheesecake brownies Fruit pizza Lemon custard Peach or cherry cobbler Sweet potato pie From the Bar Bourbon & coke Cranberry spritzer Dark lager  Whisky Zinfandel

How To Get the Perfect Steak Crust

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: January 19, 2024

There’s a lot of chatter among people who love meat about how to make that perfect steak crust. It’s likely if you ask, you’ll get many “tried and true” methods. I have an approach that works beautifully that I’d like to share with you.  One thing. Look for a steak that’s about 1 ½ inches thick. Also, you want one with good marbling. The better quality steak you choose, the better the results. Step One: Dry the steak in your refrigerator for 1-3 days. Why? A dryer exterior makes for a better crisp.  Step Two: Bring the steak to room temperature. Using a Chef’s Knife, lightly score the steak. Step Three 1 hour before cooking, sprinkle some sea salt on the steak evenly. You can also look at other spice options like Cuso’s Gravel Seasoning. The great thing about Gravel is that it adds to the crust you’re developing. Step Four Ah, the pan. I prefer cast iron, but you can use carbon steel or stainless as alternatives. Heat up the pan over high heat.  Step Five Once the pan is heated, press the steak onto the surface (for an even crust). Do not move the steak. Leave it for about 1-3 minutes. You can use tongues to peek and see if it needs more time. Step Six Once the first side has developed crust, flip the steak over and sear the second side. Again, push the steak down so it lies flat.  Step Seven Baste both sides of the steak with a generous amount of butter.  Step Eight Move the steak into the oven under the broiler (350F). Watch the internal temperature. You’re looking for 125F for medium rare (it will come up 5 degrees while resting). For a thick steak, you will probably need another 2 minutes on each side.  PitMaster’s Memo So, what’s the big deal about steak crust? There are four things you can depend on when you crust a steak properly. The meat won’t get soggy The texture has a great mouth feel You can’t beat the flavor Makes for an impressive presentation Sides Eggplant with Tzatziki sauce Garlic sauteed mushrooms Salmon wrapped shrimp Sauteed green beans with pine nuts Stuffed tomatoes Dessert Apple-pear pie Chocolate mousse Coconut chiffon cake Creme Brulee Rhubarb custard From the Bar Dry martini Light lager  Rye Sweet mint tea Zinfandel

Beef Steak and Whisky Pairing

By: Jack Mancuso

Date: December 11, 2023

When it comes to meat and whisky pairing, the two flavors work well together fabulously. They’re both savory, robust, and complex. Whisky can taste strong, but the juiciness and fats in beef steak balance that out. And there are notes in whisky (caramel, smoky, fruity) that enhance the umami flavors of the beef. So, Where Do You Begin? Standing in the whisky aisle at the liquor store, it becomes obvious how many choices exist. Finding the right spirit for your beautiful steak may feel daunting. You have single malts, which standalone against the rich taste of steak. Smooth bourbon or even woody rye also fit the bill. Coloring a little outside the lines, you can also consider brandy and cognac. The ways in which you’ll use these will be pretty much the same. Then, too, there are personal preferences above all else. You may like peaty whisky with a stared steak, for example. Add to that an understanding of how spices affect the pairing, and you might need some experimentation to find just the right match for your meal.  Beef Steak and Whisky Cooking Methods What techniques work best with steak and whisky? Grilling: the open flame imparts a smoky flavor that complements certain whiskies. This recipe for Tomahawk Ribeye is a good example. Here, I use my flagship Cuso’s Dirt® Seasoning to enhance the results even further.  Pan-searing: Do you have a skillet and a small amount of oil or butter? Pan-searing creates the highly craved, delicious crust on the steak while keeping it tender. The caramelized flavors harmonize with the complex palate profile of whisky. Sous vide: Take your steak for a bath! Sous vide involves vacuum-sealing the steak in a bag and cooking it in a water bath. You end up with very even results. Whiskey creates nuance here.  Smoking: Smoking and grilling can go hand in hand, deepening the smoky flavor that compliments whisky. Roasting: Roasting the steak in the oven and braising it with whisky brings out amazing notes in both the drink and the steak. Remember that the way your whisky and steak go together must include the prominent spices. Peppercorns, garlic, soy, paprika, chili, and rosemary each change your meal’s flavor profile.  PitMaster’s Memo: Why Do Whisky and Steak Work Together? People will generally find a whisky they really like to pair with their beefsteak. There is no hard and fast rule about this. However, there are reasons this liquor works so well with beef. First, the flavors dance well together. Neither are shy so that they can balance each other.  Then, there are contrasting textures. Whisky's smoothness provides a pleasant contrast to the juicy texture of a beef steak. The two together result in a satisfying mouthfeel with depth. Finally, you can take a sip of whisky between bites to cleanse your palate. Sides Creamy garlic potatoes Garlic bread Grilled asparagus Roasted carrots Stuffed mushrooms Desserts Chocolate mousse Cinnamon bread pudding Crème Brûlée: Peach tarts Whisky infused cheesecake From the Bar Craft root beer Highball Minted water Old Fashioned Stout beer Syrah


How to Dry Age Steak

By: Patricia Telesco

Date: February 27, 2024

When you visit high-end restaurants, you may come across listings for dry-aged steak.  By the price, you’d anticipate the steak to be tastier. After all, a 50-100% markup from your regular steak is hefty. But the taste of dry-aged steak isn’t for everyone. Your personal preferences make a huge difference.  How to Dry Age Steak: What Does Aging Do?  If you think of ripening an apple, aging a steak is kind of like that. As it ages, it takes on a distinct flavor and improved tenderness. A dry-age steak remains in a carefully controlled environment for between one week and four months. During this time, the temperature, humidity, and airflow around the meat remain regulated. Eventually, a layer of white mold develops (but it’s removed before cooking). As the meat ages, the moisture level drops, so the meat shrinks and darkens. This shrinkage contributes to the higher cost of these steaks.  Can you Skip the Middleman and Dry Age at Home? Yes, you can learn how to dry age steak at home, but you need a lot of patience and prepare yourself for some detailed work to keep things safe. The equipment necessary to dry age meat properly isn’t cheap, nor is the steak. You want large pieces, not individual steaks. Don’t skimp on quality. Look for good marbling. Lean meat doesn’t age nearly as well.  Setting Up First, your dry aging setup is very selfish. It requires a dedicated refrigerator is for ONE purpose only: aging the meat. Nothing else can go inside, or it can (and usually does) undo all your efforts. You also want to avoid any chance of cross-contamination.  When you look for refrigeration, bear in mind the size of the meats you’ll be aging. It will need room all around the sides for air circulation. A glass door is a nice perk as it deters the temptation to open the door. You can see what’s happening. Once you’ve found a unit, make sure you clean it thoroughly. Every nook and cranny needs to be disinfected.  Airflow For airflow, you can get a swivel fan. If you can find battery-operated ones, those are great because you don’t have to thread the cord through the refrigerator door. Direct the fan upward toward the meat.  Humidity Get yourself a humidity gauge. You’re looking for 75-85%. This is the sweet spot with no bacterial growth and excess shrinkage. If you have trouble with high humidity, a salt block within the fridge will help and do double duty as an air purifier.  Testy Temperature The internal temperature of the drying refrigerator should be between 29F and 40F. When temperatures go higher, the meat becomes rancid.  Waiting, Waiting, Waiting So, how long should your meat age? It takes about 30 days before you’ll notice a discernable difference in flavor. By this time, the meat has already tenderized fully. From here on out, the amount of time you continue aging depends on the end flavor you want. It becomes more intense the longer you go. 60 days is a good starting point for beginners, so you know what you like without ruining your experiment.  Trimming the Mold Aged steak has mold on the outside. So long as it’s not black, things are ok. You’ll need to remove that along with the hard outer shell that develops as you age the meat. Make sure you get all of it. As you survey your meat, there will likely be a few darker areas. Smell them. If it doesn’t smell right, cut them off, too. Safety first. Sound complex? It is. I won’t sugarcoat it. As you can see, home dry-aging requires commitment. The time involved gives you a greater appreciation for that restaurant steak’s price point.  PitMaster’s Memo: What Does Dry-Aged Beef Taste Like? It depends on a variety of circumstances, including the type of meat. Some of the most common flavors people report are nutty or earthy, like mushrooms. Another is a highly savory steak with a meat-forward flavor.  With steaks that have shorter aging times, they may be slightly sweet. Meanwhile, longer-aged steak has a distinct funk. If you don’t mind blue cheese, you won’t mind this.  Sides Au gratin potatoes Buttery biscuits Green bean casserole Parmesan cauliflower steaks Savory creamed corn  Deserts Bananas Foster Chocolate fondu Mochi Raspberry tort Tiramisu From the Bar Shiraz or cabernet Stout Pomegranate spritzer Rusty nail Rye

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