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East meets Smoke, Cast Iron & Crock-Pot: Smoked Veggy, Beef & Rice Stir-Fry - Q-View

forluvofsmoke

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Hey, everyone!!! I had another "what if" moment when pondering what to do with a small (2-1/4lb) rump roast I started thawing a few days back. It's too much meat for one meal with just the two of us, and we don't always make good use of leftovers. Time to share! I tossed an idea at my daughter for a family gathering on Sunday for dinner and decided to roll with it. Cooking dinner for 6 adults, a little smoke, cast iron for frying and sauce-making, then a 8qt crock-pot for cooking rice, mixing it all together and transporting across town to the dinner table. Combine all that with an excessive amount of food so that if anyone leaves hungry it's their own fault...it's gotta work, right? I'll see if my stove-top and crock-pot skills are up to the challenge today. I'm no chef, but when I get an idea about food I find a way to make it happen.

Here's the plan for a 3-cooker complete meal:

-lightly smoke the veggies @ ~120* while the rice is cooking in the crock-pot (expected time of 2hrs);

-slice the rump roast into cutlets and smoke @ 180* while I fry the veggies in my 15" CI skillet with...hmm, yeah, bacon grease!;

-toss the veggies into the crock-pot with the rice, dice the smoked beef and add it as well;

-build a sauce to fold into the stir-fry with all the goodness left over in the skillet.

Easy, right? Follow along and see! This dish is all about the flavors of smoke, caramelized foods, and simple seasoning. This is a "toss in what YOU like kind of dish", but I'll show you what I used, and how it all came together.

My cooking started at the store, which didn't open until 10:00am. By 10:30 I had coals and smoke getting happy in the Weber OTG 26.75 and rice in the crock-pot. This cook kept me busy for nearly 3 hours until the last ingredients went into the crock-pot and the beef was diced and folded in, as well. Then, it was time for uploading pics. Busy cooking is the way I like it, sometimes. This was a nice change of pace from the usual, laid-back long smokes or cold smoke & sear that I do a lot.

I didn't get pics of the rice cooking in the crock-pot...not much to see...3 cups rice, 6 cups water, 1/3 cup Soy Sauce, 3 Tbls minced Garlic. Started with hot water and hot crock-pot, turned down to low heat after 1 hour. 2 hours later, done.

I smoked and fried in order of what I felt would take the longest to cook, first. So, first up was Creamer Red Potatoes, Celery and Baby Carrots @ ~150*. All food smoked with Hickory today for 30 minutes, with the exception being the beef which was smoked for 1 hour @ 180*:


Out of the smoke and headed for the CI skillet...:


...with 1/2 of a large yellow onion for seasoning...some bacon grease and 2oz butter for frying fats:


While the Carrots are frying I dropped Green Onion, Broccoli Flowers and the small stems into the smoke;


Further along here...Potatoes and Broccoli stems added after 15 minutes:


Thean along comes the Broccoli after another 15 minutes or so:


And while the above is getting happy I dropped the Red Cabbage in for some smoke:


It was just starting to wilt a bit, so 30 minutes @ 150* is still nice and crisp:


20 minutes into the Cabbage smoke I prepped this small Beef Rump Roast...nice marbling:



Seasoned with fine ground black pepper and garlic powder:


Cabbage is in...man, what a difference in the vibrant colors, along with finger-sliced Red, Yellow and Green Bell Peppers, sliced Mushrooms:


I didn't want to smoke everything, as nearly 1/3 of the total volume of ingredients in this dish is smoked...even though lightly smoked, I don't want the smoke to be overpowering. So, the mushrooms and peppers were not smoked...trust me, I SOOOO wanted to smoke everything but the rice (I've actually smoked rive before, yeah), but my better judgement said no.

Time for a Roux...I melted and heated through 4oz butter with 4oz Bacon Grease, then added approx 3/8 cup AP Flour...scrape, scrape, and scrape some more with a wooden spatula...keep the heat reasonably high, but not scorching temps. I never made a Roux before, but this so easy even I could do it, without a recipe...who needs stinkin' recipes, anyway? It made for a LOT of sauce when it was all said and done...over a quart, but, it worked out perfectly...I used it all in the crock-pot:


Added Beef Base (2Tbsp - the wet paste, not the compressed granular type) and then Soy Sauce (1/3 cup)...keep scraping and stirring...when the soy sauce is stirred in the Roux immediately began to thicken and grow in volume from the foaming:


Now comes the water...lots and lots of water...thinkin' it was 1qt plus 1/2 pint...keep stirring until heated thoroughly and simmering well:


2nd last stage...sauce into the crock-pot and folding it all together:


Meanwhile, the beef should be about finished in the smoke:




Ah...perfect...rare, just slightly firmed-up from the low-temp smoke after 1 hour:



Cubed to ~3/4 and ready to add to the crock-pot to finish for an hour or so:


All folded together...keep folding occasionally (20-25 minutes) for even cooking on low heat. This crock-pot holds a 160* temp on warm, and around 200* on low. High will get you over 250* if dry...dry food is not what they're made for, though:



OK, so, the rice fooled me...never did rice in a slow-cooker before...ever...but, me being above average with food adventures at times, I had to try it. 1 hour in, jamming on high...nothing, not even a slightest hint of a simmer. Kept checking every 20-30 minutes when I wasn't doing something else to build this dish. Then, around the 2hr mark I popped the lid and my jaw dropped...sticky rice it is!!! Well, with the sauce and the veggies still having lots of moisture to steam out, it folded together well and the rice incorporated into the rest of the dish quite well.

I'm gonna make another run to the store for desert. We're at my daughter's house about to eat but nobody thought about desert an there's no ingredients here for a quick throw-together.

This smoked stir-fry dish has got to be a unique and delicious meal, but, I'll be back with the verdict after we finish devouring as much as we can. Back in a flash!!!

Thanks for checking it out!!!

Eric
 

forluvofsmoke

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Another big hit. Flavors of the smoke were mild and light like I wanted. With everything folded together in the crock-pot to finish some of the flavors melded together, slightly, as expected. The broccoli was a bit crisp, while the peppers were somewhat more cooked. The rice, of course, carried the cooked-in flavors of the garlic and soy sauce. The potatoes were tender and the sauce seemed to bring everything together. Flavors of individual ingredients were still there, but each of the smoked items carried smoke...even the potatoes. I would have preferred to serve this from three separate vessels, being, plate the rice, then the veggies and meat, then pour the sauce over the top, all for the sake of appearance, as this sauce does hide a lot of those vibrant colors. Due to the weather (it's full-on winter here now for the past couple of weeks) and distance to the dining location, I opted for the all-in-one, keep it hot and relatively spill-proof approach...works, but not the prettiest stir-fry I've ever seen.

The crock-pot rice is quite different than stove-top methods, for sure. To do it all over again, I'd probably just add cold water, run on high, dial back to low after 90 minutes and plan for 2.5 hours...maybe use a bit more more liquid, but not much...if you want sticky rice. For fluffy rice, kill the heat earlier and let it finish steaming with residual heat, as you would on the stove-top.

Overall, there were enough texture variations in the veggies and meat for a more interesting chew...a little crunch, a little chew, a little soft. The presentation is my only real disappointment. Ah, well, maybe next time...if there is a next time...always doing different things and never revisiting things like this very often, if ever. Maybe someone else can give it a whirl and let me know how it works when plated in layers?

Keep your smoker and cast iron warm and happy!!! Great smokes to all and to all a good night!!!

Eric
 

SmokinAl

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That looks absolutely delicious Eric!

Point!

Al
 

GaryHibbert

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I gotta agree with Al, Eric. That looks fabulous and I'm betting it tasted as good as it looks.

POINTS for sure.

Gary
 

forluvofsmoke

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That looks absolutely delicious Eric!

Point!

Al
Thanks, Al!!!
I gotta agree with Al, Eric. That looks fabulous and I'm betting it tasted as good as it looks.

POINTS for sure.

Gary
Thanks, Gary!!!

It is a good meal. I just would have preferred a different plating with separate rice, meat/veggies, then sauce), and it would have looked even better. I have about 1.5qts in the freezer for blustery winter day...heh-heh!!!

Eric
 

disco

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A wonderful looking meal! Point!

Disco
 

forluvofsmoke

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Thanks, rhd!!! That was some good eats...hmm, you just gave me an idea: I might have pull some from the freezer for my 2 boys that are home for Christmas and see what they think.

Eric
 

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