Category Archives: Veggies

Smoked Chuck Steak and Vegetable Stew

Cold and drizzly outside, with wet, heavy winds whipping leaves out of trees? That’s stew weather, brother. This past Sunday we broke out the dutch oven and Weber Smokey Mountain to put together a hearty, savory stew that’s rich in flavor and textures.

Inspired by a smoked barbacoa recipe from Steven Raichlen, but knowing my crowd (my wife and kids), I substituted a hefty boneless chuck roast for pulled pork and omitted some of the Mexican elements.


Mirepoix plus garlic

For a base, start with about 2/3 stalk of celery, one big yellow onion, and about a 1/2 lb of baby carrots, all chopped, with a couple minced garlic cloves.


Full veggie assortment

Add in 5-7 peeled and cubed medium red potatoes, two de-seeded diced poblano chilies, and a large can of diced stewed tomatoes (including all the juice). Finely chop half a bunch of cilantro and toss in a couple bay leaves. Season with generous shakes of sea salt and coarse black pepper, a sensible couple dashes of cumin, and a good dose of Italian seasonings. Mince fresh rosemary as well, and top with a few sprigs of fresh thyme.

Add water up to the 2/3 full mark, which was about 1 liter in this Dutch oven with all the veggies.


Chuck steak atop the veggie pot

This particular thick cut boneless chuck steak weighed about 2.75 lbs and got a generous coating of sea salt and coarse pepper on both sides, before getting set right atop the heaping pot of vegetables.

It just happened that the length of the steak aligned nicely with the circumference of the Dutch oven. That harmony was a sign of things to come.


Future stew on the WSM

Put the Dutch oven on the top rack of the smoker, as room allows. I have a 22″ Weber Smokey Mountain, which has a high ceiling lid and permits a tall set up like this.


WSM prepping for smoke

I loaded the smoker with hardwood lump charcoal and several logs of apple wood. No need to fill the deflecting bowl with any water for humidity since the steak would be steamed naturally from the water as it turns to broth.


One hour into the smoke

After an hour of heavy smoking, the steak began to get a rosy smoke color.


Two to three hours in

After nearly three hours, the water level had begun to rise as the meat sank into the veggies and the Dutch oven contents started to soften. A few bubbles percolated from the stew.


Flipping the steak

After three hours, pull off the steak and check the underside. It won’t have any smoke (obviously – it’s been sitting in vegetables and broth). This is a good time to remove the thyme sprigs and stir up the stew. I noticed that my potatoes and carrots were still quite firm and the broth was not boiling consistently.

After adding some more sea salt and stirring things up, I added the thyme back onto the top of the veggies and put the chuck steak back on the stew. This time, though, put the smoked side of the steak down and the “wet” side up. This will get the steak evenly smoked on both sides and will let the smoky, charred side of the steak soak into the broth and add some more flavor to the soup.


Five hours into the smoke

Refueling with charcoal and apple wood as needed, I kept my fire at about 225 Fahrenheit (as read from the lid thermometer) for the first three hours. To get the vegetables to cook and create that rich stew broth, I amped up my smoker temperature to about 275-300 by opening all three bottom vents and letting the fire really get going before closing the front door of the WSM.


Six and a half hours – done!

After six and a half hours, I transferred the Dutch oven to a cooking pan with oven mitts and brought it all in to plate.


Smoked, veggie stock steamed chuck steak

Fabulous color on the chuck steak, served family style on a platter.


Stew veggies and beef broth

To serve, shred off some super tender beef and set in the bottom of a bowl. Remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs from the Dutch oven. Ladle a bunch of the pot contents right on top. Serve with fresh biscuits, croissants, or sliced sourdough bread.


Up close with the stew

Great pink color on both sides of the chuck steak, which was beyond juicy. It pulled apart perfectly and had layers of flavor. The poblano peppers, cumin, and cilantro added some depth and a nice Mexican zip as compared to most traditional root veggie stews.

This is a top notch, hearty meal for fall or winter. Labor-intensive with the vegetable prep, but standard grill monitoring thereafter.

We considered adding cubed zucchini and/or butternut squash but, again, decided against because of our audience. My wife suggested mushrooms, but the texture of stewed mushrooms would have thrown this off, in my opinion, relative to all the other ingredients.

Cost-wise, this wasn’t too terribly expensive. The steak was about $10, and all the veggies were another $10 or so, though we had all those laying around the house. Running the WSM hard for 6+ hours did use most of a bag of charcoal and a half bag of apple wood logs, so perhaps another $10+. With a salad and fresh bread, this is a $40 meal that takes 30-45 minutes prep time, 6+ hours to cook.

There was plenty leftover with two adults and four kids eating – enough for two large lunch servings the next day. (It reheats well in the office microwave and the coworkers nuking noodles or frozen stuff will wonder what amazing thing you’re heating up that’s making the kitchen smell so good.)





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I Eat Salads

If the title of this post isn’t a giveaway, I like greens mixed with stuff and dressing. While at Dave & Busters for a business lunch, I saw the ridiculously-named salad: The Lawnmower.

Note the fork for scale

Note the fork for scale

The waiter told us that he’d only seen two people eat the entire monstrosity. After me, it was three.

Why post this salad nonsense on my BBQ & Beer blog? I mentioned that I had eaten the largest single-serving salad I’d ever seen and was ridiculed by friends. They dared me to post and here we are. It was friggin’ delicious.

After I got home, I cracked open an impulse beer from a favorite brewery: Le Freak by Green Flash. It was amazing, and might have earned a spot in my beer Top 20 list.

C'est chic! (Sorry, Christopher)

C’est chic! (Sorry, Christopher)

Coming in over 9% ABV, this Big Beer packed a whallop, but it was very tasty and drinkable. Worth another buy for sure.

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Brussels Sprouts on the BBQ

We have a couple massive brussels sprout plants going nuts in the back yard garden.

I laugh in winter's face

They began as a row of tiny seeds a few years ago, having never produced any veggies. The plants stayed hardy all winter, particularly this last mild one. Suddenly, in the past few weeks, the plants got huge and grew some yellow flowers. I’m excited to see what happens next.

Probably one of the only flower pictures you will ever see on this blog

This brings me to my brussels sprouts evolution. I used to hate them. When we ate them as a kid, they came in a frozen brick. The green little spuds were thawed out in a CorningWare with some butter and served to us as a mandatory veggie. We all resisted, much to the annoyance of my parents.

Fast forward to a couple years ago. My wife and I were watching Top Chef, and one of the contestants made brussels sprouts with bacon and butter. The judges like it, so we tried it with great success.

The other day I came across an article on Slate Magazine about roasted brussels sprouts. Therein, the author presented an anecdote about some famous brussels sprouts at a high end restaurant. Checking the link, I see that it’s pretty close to how we make them.

On the grill, the sprouts can pick up some smokiness that you might not otherwise get on the stove top.

Wash and quarter two pounds of sprouts. Chop up a white onion and a pound of bacon. Put all of this and a stick of butter, salt, and pepper into a BBQ-friendly saucepan. Ours were accompanied on the grill surface with some bone-in split chicken breasts and beer bratwurst.

A full BBQ grill - what a nice sight

It takes a certain refined skill to turn a healthy, green, leafy vegetable into a particularly unhealthy decadent side dish.

Stir frequently over semi-direct heat.

The smell of the bacon and butter crisping the little green leaves and carmelizing the onion is a wonderful mix of aromas. I tossed on a couple of soaked hickory chunks for some smokiness.

Eat your (not so healthy) vegetables

It looks great, and tastes even better.

While this cooked, I took the time to get some veggie gardening done. In went with some cayenne, jalapeno, and sweet banana peppers. Make some good stuff for me, plants.

Marigolds for color, and to keep the bunnies away

The rose bush in the background went berserk during the mild March. Last year it was very meager, but it has gotten huge. Later in the week, I will drop in my cherry and Roma tomatoes, as well as the cucumbers and other pepper plants. Maybe I will mix in some yellow squash, which has always done well. Rosemary, basil, and other herbs will follow.

Back to the sprouts. Stir often or it will burn on the bottom and make a mess of the pot. Trust me.


As good as these were, and they were really, really good, the wife preferred them on the stovetop in a wide, deep skillet as opposed to the grill. They got tons of smokiness and BBQ flavor from the wood and coals, and I think she preferred the milder mix of flavors you get on the range. Either way, this is a spectacular way to get some greens and pork fat into your body. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

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