“Cooking has been a big part of my life forever,” he commented - and that’s no joke. Louie Stithem has been smoking meat religiously for the last 35 years, and is still going strong.
When asked who got him started, Louie didn’t hesitate to mention his buddy John Sweeny. Back then, the boys used modified refrigerators as their smokers. Louie continued with this method until recently when he purchased a gas fired, stainless steel smoker.
When asked about the change, he inferred that his preference was for the frig but it’s getting hard to find the right stuff to alter. By that he meant he needs an old frig with a metal interior, instead of plastic, as is common now.
The other piece to the puzzle is a single burning hot plate. The hot plates are also getting hard to come by. Now days, he says, it’s easier to find a fifth burner - but they don’t get hot enough to use for smoking.
Basically, Louie was forced into switching after his last frig wore out. Its demise was a result of the high salt usage during the smoking process, causing the refrigerator to rust out. The concentrated heat inside the smoker also does a number on the electrical wiring of the hot plates and shortens their lifespan as well. In all, Louie went through three refrigerators before converting to his new gas fired smoker.
With the new smoker, Louie has noticed that he is not able to regulate the temperature as he could with the old frig. “It wants to smoke things quicker and hotter,” Louie remarked, which isn’t good for his cold smoking method.
By cold, he means running the temperature at 165 degrees for 14-16 hours. This gives the meat a heavy smoke flavor. For the wood chips, Louie prefers to use apple but has also branched off into apricot and peach. He recalled times when he would look out his window and see an apple tree abandoned in his driveway, dropped off by someone who obviously knew about his hobby. Once he even found a turkey on his doorstep with a note saying, “Next time you smoke, put this in.”
Louie prefers pork and poultry as opposed to fish or beef, when smoking. In his old frig he could fit about 12 turkeys and 30 chickens, which he gives out as gifts and thank you’s around Christmas time -and his generosity doesn’t stop there. Louie also does a lot of volunteer work, dividing his time between the One Box, the Game and Parks Commission, and other worthy events and organizations.
When discussing upcoming events, Louie mentioned that he would be preparing the wedding meal for his friend, Jim Peister, and soon to be Mrs. Peister. For the wedding, Louie has decided to serve smoked pork loin and beef brisket, with baked beans and potato salad.
As for the recipes Louie decided to submit for the paper, two of them are being prepared for the wedding meal. The first is the potato salad, which Louie deserves full credit for because the recipe is his own creation. The other is the preparation and barbeque sauce for the beef brisket. This recipe happens to have been borrowed from Emeril Lagasse, but Louie won’t hesitate to tell you how delicious it is.
In regards to the barbeque sauce, Louie described it with the following, “When you get the mixture right and bring it up to your mouth, it will take your breath away.”
He went on to explain further, that in his opinion, this blend of BBQ rub and sauce is the best he’s ever tried. Be prepared though, it also comes with a “Bam!” warning as the sauce has just a little kick.
Louie keeps himself plenty busy, while still having time to practice his hobby. “Smoking is simple,” according to Louie and he went on to say, “None of my stuff is secret, just plain good old cooking!”
TEXAS OVEN BEEF BRISKET
1 – whole brisket
1/2 – cup chili powder
1/2 – cup salt
1/4 – cup granulated garlic
1/4 – cup granulated onion
1/4 – cup black pepper
1/4 – cup sugar
2 – tablespoons dry mustard
2 – bay leaves
Combine seasoning ingredients in a food processor or blender until evenly distributed. Season raw brisket on both sides with the rub seasoning and then place in roasting pan. Roast for 1 hour at 350˚. Add enough liquid to the roasting pan to achieve a 1-inch liquid in the pan. Now cover for roasting pan and lower heat to 325˚. Continue cooking for 4-5 hours, depending on size, basting frequently. Internal temperature of 185˚ will indicate a fully cooked brisket.
1 – cup strong black coffee
1 – cup Worcestershire sauce
1 – cup ketchup
1/2 – cup cider vinegar
1 – cup brown sugar
3 – tablespoons chili powder
2 – teaspoons salt
2 – chopped onions
1/4 – cup minced jalapenos, fresh and seeded
6 – cloves of garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan and simmer over low heat for 35-40 minutes, puree in blender and serve.
LOUIE’S SALAD DRESSING
1 – cup salad dressing
2 – tablespoons milk or light cream (I use Nestle Coffeemate)
1 – tablespoon prepared mustard
1 – teaspoon ground mustard
2 – teaspoon sugar (I use Splenda)
1/2 – teaspoon white pepper
Mix well and use as a sauce for coleslaw, potato salad or macaroni salad. I always mix extra and use for a sandwich spread. When using this sauce as a potato salad I also add at least 1 teaspoon of dill weed. Everything may be varied to personal taste.
CHICKEN IN CREAM SAUCE
2 – chicken breasts, halved
1/3 – cup butter
2 – tablespoons olive oil
1 – clove garlic, minced
1/2 – cup read and green peppers, diced
12 – mushroom caps, sliced
1/2 – cup ripe olives, sliced
1 – cup sour cream
2 – tablespoons pate’ de foiegras (Braunschweiger)
1/4 – cup sherry
Salt and pepper to taste
In a covered skillet, sauté 2 chicken breasts in a mixture of butter, olive oil, and garlic until they are tender but not brown. Remove the chicken breast to warmed platter and keep warm.
In another skillet, add the red and green peppers and sauté them until they are limp. Add the mushroom caps and olives and cook mixture over moderate heat, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Remove the mixture and reserve it. Stir in sour cream blended with the pate’ de foiegras, then add salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Combine the sherry, chicken breasts, and the reserved mixture. Cook over moderate heat for about 2 minutes.
7 – pounds large cucumbers (I use the large yellow ones in the Fall)
Peel and remove seeds. Cut long way and then cut into finger length, about 1/2 inch thick. Soak overnight in 2 gallons of water and 2 cups slack lime. Next morning wash in clear water three times or more. Let soak 24 hours in clear water, then drain and add the following.
2 – tablespoons pickling salt
8 1/2 – cups sugar
2 – pints vinegar (dark)
1 – pint water
2 – tablespoons pickling spices tied in cloth
Simmer 1 hour or until pickles are clear in color. If you want you can multiply the recipe by four and can into pint jars while boiling hot.