Moist Heat BBQ

A place to post your drippings

Monday, July 31, 2006

Real Moist Heat Ribs

Sounds like my Moist Heat Brothers had a rib-o-licious week...I am no exception. You can't pass up baby backs when they are on sale.

As I continue my BBQ education by synthesizing information from my team mates and other sources, I decided to try a true moist heat experiment yesterday. Although my ribs have been getting more tender with each attempt, I wanted to venture to the end of the rib continuum and find out what it takes for some near "fall off the bone" ribs. I decided to introduce the oven.

The ribs enjoyed a good 6 hour rub before they were brought to room temperature and then smoked for two hours at 250 degrees with hickory wood and apple chips. At this point, I had been placing them in foil with some sauce or cider and brown sugar and putting them back on the grill a while longer. Yesterday, however, I decided to give the ribs a cider steam for half an hour in the oven. I elevated the ribs with a broiling plate, put cider in the base of the pan and covered it tightly with foil. Notice how they really pulled back from the bone when I took them out.

Fifteen minutes before taking them out, I started a second small chimney of coals to finish them on the grill. The results were a hit. The meat came away from the bone gently and easily (no bone gnawing needed). The family encouraged me to repeat this method in the future.

Now that I am narrowing down the cooking methods, I need my MH Brothers to keep putting those sauce, glaze, and rub recipes on the blog. It's time to start introducing my meat (and family) to more variety of flavor. Flamb-Ed's sticky ribs and the maple glaze ribs sound enticing. Also, the coffee crusted tenderloin is another one I have to try.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Focus on the Rib, baby!

My wife lifted my 2 week smoking ban, but she did it with a twist- she challenged me to Mint Julip Ribs. OOOOO- tough one.

I have also begun 2 other newbies to the world of smoking- Jay and Andrew from our church. Jay is an engineer by training, and Andrew is a pastor, so we have the power of numbers and God on our side. They purchased a Backwoods Smoker (my weapon of choice) Patio- a small, 40 lb. smoker, large enough to do a turkey and a couple good sized shoulders. After an intro by yours truly, the successfully did 3 whole chickens. A little trouble w/ the heat, but they problem solved and pulled it off.

Andrew came over this am for some training, and Jay came over later in the day. We even smoked through the rain.

Last pm I cut my own spare ribs- I bought 4 racks. I have become convinced that cutting the tips off myself is the best bet. I used my new cleaver and scored it straight down the ribs, St. Louis style. Most butchers just cut off the "chink" which is the big thick bone. I like cutting them square, which gives you a nearly pure meat piece and the "chink" piece.

I used Raichlen's rub and doubled the rub and glaze recipe, but only made one recipe of the BBq sauce. I had to purchase mint jelly. I followed the recipe pretty close, but substituted spare ribs for baby backs, and smoke for nearly hours. Used hickory, oak, and applewood chips. Results below.

The ribs turned out great. I didn't start glazing until the last hour (it made a lot of glaze). Overall they tasted like regular ole' sweet ribs, but the sauce truly added the mint flavor. I'm not a huge mint fan, but the bourbon and mint together created a nice, but kind of strong aftertaste- kind of like drinking liquer, but you don't taste it. Really nice. My mother in law really liked them.

I also did an adapted recipe that Andiken and I have done before- it is a coffee-rubbed pork tenderloin adapted to a shoulder with red eye gravy BBQ sauce. The coffee rub this time turned out real peppery, which was great. I adapted the sauce a little. I cut up the onion and garlic first. I then cooked the bacon (1 slice chopped really small) in a little oil instead of butter. When it got good and brown, I added the onion and garlic and cooked it until you could really smell the garlic and the onion was transluscent (NOTE: when using onion in sauces, I find it best to GRATE the onion. That way it gets really small and practically melts in the sauce, b/c I don't like too many chunks in my sauce). I then added the coffee, scraping up little bits of bacon from the pan (called "deglazing"). Then I added the rest of the ingredients- W sauce, ketchup, molasses, etc. Really good. Watch the salt, though, b/c it comes off kind of salty. The strong sauce (does NOT taste like coffee) goes well w/ the peppery shoulder. The shoulder went about 6 hours (4.5 lb)

Andiken- of note, I tried something new in the backwoods smoker: I did NOT wrap the ribs or shoulder until I took them off the grill. I convinced myself that the high humidity of my smoker did not necessitate that. I think they turned out perfect- moist, but the bones were not falling out. I think they were great, but my wife thinks she can tell the difference. The next time I smoke, I will wrap for a max of 1 hour and see if I can tell the difference. Overall, though, I think they held up w/o wrapping. But I have a huge waterpan.

Great weekend of smoke, conquered the "too moist" rib, and tried 2 new sauces. And I'm really sold on the glazes for ribs now. Beats dumping a bunch of brown sugar and butter at the end. Oh, and I didn't baste them at all- and thats hard for me, b/c I like basting the ribs. Just spritzed a little apple juice like Mike Mills. I think I'm up for some of Raichlen's Chinatown ribs next.

Picture of Dylan, chillin' while Daddy's grillin'.

Back from the Northwoods

Although it's not quite the "promised land" that Joe-Be-Wan recently returned from, the northwoods are pretty much the "promised land" to native Wisconsinites. Below is a picture of the lake that my family cabin is on.

We arrived at the cabin Saturday afternoon so I did not have time to BBQ anything. But that doesn't mean we didn't have BBQ. I had brought along some pork shoulder I had frozen from the last time I made it so we enjoyed that Sat. night. Sunday I made another easy meal, pork chops, since I spent most of the day replacing some boards on the facing of the cabin roof that needed to be replaced to stop some leaks. See my work below. :)

Monday night we went with burgers. Not too exciting so no pictures of the burgers. Tuesday I decided to make the smoked chicken. No rub this time, just lots of kosher salt and fresh black pepper. The fire was a little hotter than it should have been, but I anticipcated it would be due to the grill I was using. The chicken was done in a little over one hour and was awesome. I prefered this seasoning and smokey flavor over my past attempts when I used a rub. Picture below.

Wednesday we went with ribeye steaks. I marinated them all day in a beer marinade that I had found online awhile back and my wife loved. I will post the marinade on our recipes page. The steaks turned out very juicy and tender. I liked the marinade alot better this time on the steaks because the oregano flavor was not as strong as the last time I made them. See pictures below.

Thursday was the big test. Could I adequetly smoke a rack of spare ribs on small, square shaped grill? The answer, YES! I have been waiting almost a month to make the Maple Glazed ribs from Raichlen's Ribs book. After tasting them at Joe-Be-Wan's party a few weeks ago, I knew I had to make them. I trimmed and rubbed the ribs on Wed. night and sat overnight in the fridge with the brown sugar based rub on them. I took them out and let them get to room temp. as I got the grill ready. After about an hour, they were on the grill and the smoking was pouring out of hte griil. We spent the afternoon hanging out on the pier and swimming but I had the grill within view so I could see when I need to add more wood. After only about an hour, the ribs had already taken on a smoked look and we ready for the first glaze application. I brushed the glaze on the ribs and let them go another 30 mins. I then glazed them again, wrapped them in foil, and put them back on the grill. It was about 2:30 at that time so I figured I would just keep them wrapped until we ate around 5:00. I unwrapped them again at about 4 to check them and glaze and add more glaze. I could tell already that they were going to be very tender. At 5 I took them out of the foil, glazed them again, and placed them directly over the fire. Five mins later I took them over the grill. They were so tender that part of them actually fell off the bone when I took them off the grill. Although some, myself included, usually say that you don't want ribs "fall off the bone" tender, these were still awesome! The best ribs I have made so far. Pictures of the sweet and sticky ribs below.

Friday was leftovers night so I got to enjoy the ribs, chicken, and pork shoulder all over again!

The one downside to the week was the fact that we were one week early for the Pig in the Pines ribfest that was going on in St. Germaine Aug. 3-5. Normally we would have been up there that weekend but we had to choose an earlier week this year. All week long the local radio station taunted us with advertisements for the ribfest by advertising for ribs from Pigfoot and Sgt. Oink. Needless to say, we may just have to plan next year's vacation around the 3rd annual Pig in the Pines. You can check out the ad for this year's fest here.

All in all it was a great vacation. The weather was a little hot for a few days (upper 80's) especially in the cabin which just traps the heat inside. But it wasn't too bad and even the bullies had a good time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hot coals are ribtastic

After my initial attempts at charcoal grilling failed, I allowed a suitable period of mourning before trying once more to get a decent temperature in the grill. Ignoring the earlier problems, I stumbled forth (now with a thermometer so all would be well!) and set up a beer-can-chicken with a chimney-full coals glowing nicely below (I’d cast aside the minion method). An obvious choice since chicken requires a hotter temperature than ribs. However after half an hour of the temperature not getting above about 250 I threw in another chimney-full of coals, the temperature rose and briefly toyed with the idea of going over 300, but got bored with that and settled back at 250ish. Another half hour passed and the chicken looked more likely to regain the skill of flight than be cooked that night. So to ensure our dinner stayed in the same zip code we switched it to the gas grill and roasted a lovely juicy chicken. There is however a high note, the charcoal wasn’t a complete failure, as the pictures show we were able to toast some spiced-butter bread to perfection.

A quick call to the barbecue hotline ensued, and more tips were forthcoming: next time I’d try raising the level of my charcoal and also add in some (dare I say it here on a prized blog and when in such esteemed company...) briquettes to the lump.

So.....would it be third time lucky? Having got a recipe for Kansas City Sticky Ribs I decided to give them a try. The ribs were rubbed, wrapped in cling film and refrigerated overnight; then brought out of the fridge to come to room temperature as I lit the chimney starter. This was filled 50:50 with briquettes and lump and roughly the same amount of unlit material was placed in the grill (back to the minion method once again). The fire was raised to the middle level, all vents were opened and ready to go. A few minutes after adding the lit coals, the temperature had reached a respectable 300 and the ribs were put on the grill and covered (not wrapped) in foil. I then remembered the wood-chips I’d had soaking and threw them on the fire for good measure. The ribs were turned each hour, and for the next two hours the temperature stayed at about 300, before beginning to fall slowly. The instructions I had called for another chimney of coals (same as earlier) after two hours, so these were lit and added to the fire. The temperature went up to 350ish just after they’d been added and stayed in the 300-350 region for the rest of the cooking time. Again I forgot the wood-chips and threw them on as an afterthought. They did create smoke as the pictures show and my eyes felt at one point, but this only lasted about 20 minutes as they soon dried out and burned – do I need big chunks for longer lasting smoke? After the third hour of cooking the recipe called for the ribs to be liberally painted with sauce (see picture of half painted ribs) and wrapped in foil for the last hour. After this the ribs were taken off the grill and rested for half an hour. Finally they were painted with a little more sauce, sliced and served. The ribs were tender, juicy and (of course) sticky. At last, success. I think I’ll stick to mixing my fuels in the future and just keep practicing.....

I do still have a couple of fire management questions though: How do people generally rake coals into a pile? I used a fish slice/spatula this weekend – is there something better which may help to prevent arm singeing? and, Is there a good way of adding lit coals to a fire from the front? My grill surface isn’t hinged so this weekend we lifted it off to add the coals.

Team T-Bone - Pork Revisited

After honing my Kettle Smoking technique over the past weeks, I decided it was time to revisit the boston butt for some pulled pork yesterday. Interestingly, on Friday night Mrs. T and I caught the finals of BBQ All-Stars on the OLN network. The 3 lady amateur team of "Squeal of Approval" handed Dr. BBQ and other "professionals" their heads and walked off with 25k.

The finals dealt with the classics, baby back ribs and pork butt. I was surprised that the pork butt could be pulled as I have only read about pulling the pork shoulder cuts: Boston Butt and Picnic. Mrs. T and I aleady had a 4.5 lb boneless and tied boston butt in the fridge. We decided the next morning to add a pork butt for comparison. We also noticed on the show that every team was injecting a marinade into their meat. We decided to try that too.

Both cuts were rubbed with Szeged's rib rub and injected with a cider, worchestershire mixture Mrs. T made from a Dr. BBQ recipe. Each cut was about 4.5 lbs so I smoked them using hickory and apple wood for about 5 hours (to 158 degrees) with another 45 minute rest in a foil / towel wrap in my ice chest. Meanwhile, I wanted to try the yellow mustard BBQ sauce recipe posted on Moist Heat. As a mustard fan, I was curious how it would taste on a pulled pork sandwich. However, after heating all of the ingredients, I thought the tartness of the mustard and apple cider vinegar was a bit too overpowering. To tone it town a little, I added two tablespoons of bourban and another tablespoon of brown sugar. This did the trick. Even Mrs. T, not a true mustard fan, and my son liked the mustard sauce. My daughter decided to stick with Sweet Baby Ray's embellished with a little red wine and a dab of hot sauce.

I would like to see some video or a demo on the pulling technique. I have yet to be able to use a fork to do it (just fingers). Also, we didn't use much of the pork butt for pulling. It seemed way too fatty. We did get a few slices out of it, but the consensus was to stick with the boston butt.

My next challenge will likely be a pork tenderloin.

Monday, July 17, 2006

T-Bone Tries Tenderloin

I hope I am not a traitor straying into beef, but Sentry had beef tenderloin on sale last week and I couldn't resist. I also saw them being smoked on BBQ All Stars last month so I thought I'd give it a try.

I chose a 2.5 pound tenderloin and rubbed it with Szeged's Steak Rub (we already like their rib rub). I put it in the refrigerator to sit for about 4 hours. Two hours before cooking, I added some worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and a little cabernet. I brought it to room temp before cooking.

I used hickory wood for the smoke flavor and got the grill to about 265 degrees. I read a recipe for tenderloin by Dr. BBQ and he suggested a temp of 375. I've decided to ignore most of the recommended temperatures and just make sure the meat is cooked to the right temp when completed. This means I am winging it for cooking times too.

Master Joe-Be-Wan's last post about an hour per pound of pork +1 was interesting. Are you saying that the pork will reach the desired temp in that last hour of smoking OR that regardless of how soon you reach the desired temp, you are just going to smoke the hell out of that meat? This seems to be my main remaining source of confusion.

As for the tenderloin, I read that 135 would be medium rare. I went to 150 and it seemed medium to me. The flavor was good, the meat tender, and with my sauteed 'shrooms and onions, and a cherry tomato salad---a quite satisfying meal. (I don't soil a good piece of meat with A-1 Andiken).

Monday, July 10, 2006

Family Picnic

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything but I have been busy doing things. Not as busy as a few of you who smoke more meat then I could ever eat. I had the family reunion a two weeks ago and I was told that I was cooking. I am not sure if it was because my uncles knew that they would be drinking and forget about the meat or if it was because my family actually likes my cooking, but anyway. So for this gathering I was in charge of heating up some pork wrapped in bacon. I did about 60 of them as the pictures show. I did not really have time to do anything fancy with the meat, but I did some salt, peper, extra virgin olive oil, and then on a few of them I put jerk sauce. The food turned out perfectly and everyone was very pleased with what was cooked. The only complaint that I got was that the pork was still a little pink directly in the middle but the pork was up to temperature (I pulled it off at 160).

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Success BBQ-a-rama Weekend

Fed the team this weekend. Since I was doing 4 dishes, I spead it over 2 days (smoked 2 shoulders on Saturday and Sunday did Memphis Dry ribs (baby back), sweet spare ribs, and smoked chicken). Will detail highlights below

Shoulder: I did two 5 1/2 lb shoulders. Did the last of my Magic Dust rub on Friday night. Sticking with my rule of 1 hour per pound of meat plus an hour (example- two 5 and half pound shoulders went for 6 and a half hours). Used oak and hickory, which are my favorites for shoulder. Basted with cider vinegar, brown sugar, worcestshire (sp?) sauce and some magic dust. Let rest for 2+ hours wrapped in a paper bag. New tip- wear rubber gloves and pull by hand- goes much quicker. Warmed it up on Sunday for 325 for an hour and added some salt, pepper, and cider vinegar. Perfect!

Memphis dry rub ribs: Used Raichlen's recipe, but used an older basting recipe of white vinegar with dijon mustard. Turned our great.

"Wet" ribs: Used spare ribs. Basted every hour with my new favorite of cider vinegar with brown sugar. Used Raichlen's "Lord of the 'Que Spareribs" rub. Went 3.5 hours at 250, wrapped in foil, then another 2 hours. Used hickory chunks and applewood chips. Let rest for 1+ hours in foil in a cooler. I then tried a new technique I picked up from some restaurants. I turned on my gas grill and placed the ribs on there and brushed them with a sweet BBQ sauce (made raichlen's Nashville sweet sauce- great base sauce) for about 5 minutes. This really pushed them over the edge- great.

Smoke chicken: I've done this a million times, and still turns out great.

Sauces: I think we had a total of 10 sauces, and people brought some of their favorites. Mine was Elmers out of Oklahoma- great mixed sauce. The Sweet Mustard Sauce from Southern living was the favorite on pork, the Nashville Sweet was the favorite on ribs, and of course the white sauce was best on the chicken.

Pictures below. Took a lot of timing this weekend, but everything was well received, adn for the first time ever, I almost ran out. But check Andiken's fridge on Monday- there may be a few things leftover.

Also, check out my fully equipped BBQ cart, gift from the NEW Kids team- was a big help, especially having foil, paper towel, and trash can readily available. The last picture is Fergus, enjoying a rib, and he's a near full-blooded Irishman. If he likes my ribs, then everyone will.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Back from the Promised Land

I'm back, but no one tell the GI Department. I'm feeding the NEW Kids Team this weekend, and need a day or 2 to smoke. Great to see the team was active. I posted a bunch of comments on the postings.

Included is the picture of the lake where my family has a cabin- absolutely gorgeous! In TN right on the NC border.

I will highlight what I prepared and what I learned on the trip.

4 racks of spare ribs: absolutely the perfect texture- my best smoking yet. The only thing I screwed up was the rub. I've been sold on Magic Dust for a while, but it was too spicy for little kids, and didn't mesh with the sweet sauce. Lessons learned: Smithfield farms sells great spare ribs at Wal-mart- Not sure if available here; Great baste if looking for sweet ribs- mix a lot of brown sugar with cider vinegar- it didn't burn, kept the ribs moist, and gave a great flavor- I will definitely do again; 3 hours on smoke, then 2 hours wrapped worked great for 4 large racks of spare ribs (I did the tips on the gas with a hickory chunk on the lit burner); brushing sauce right before resting the ribs works great- good base layer of sauce without burning or gooping it up; the cooler trick to keep meat warm is awesome- kept these ribs hot for hours. Overall, I think I'm sold on about 3 hours of smoke then 2 wrapped, vinegar/brown sugar baste once a hour, sauce before resting. Oh, one more thing- I think the combo of oak/applewood is my favorite. I mainly used hickory, and it wasn't quite as good as using applewood for the ribs.

Smoked chicken w/ white BBQ sauce: I can't get enough of this. Family loved it. Juicy as hell.

Filets rubbed with equal part ground coffee and black pepper, marinated for about 2 hours in equal parts soy and W sauce. Cooked to medium for most of the family. Used natural lump charcoal.

Pulled pork- 16 lbs total: no new lessons, but given time crunches, the Cooks Illustrated Method worked great as usual, which I recommend if time is limited. Try their website for the full story (link to the right side), but in short, here it is: Traditional law is 1 to 1.5 hours per pound of pork. The cooks method for a 6-8 lb butt/shoulder: 3 hours on the grill w/ smoke at 250, then wrap and place in the oven at 325 for 2 hours, rest for 1 hour, then pull. The only tricky thing is when bringing out of the oven, lots of fat has rendered, and can be messy. POUR THE JUICE OFF! That is pure rendered fat and will make it too greasy. Too keep moist, add vinegar.

2 quick tips on reheating pulled pork (quite laughing Flamb-Ed): if doing a small amount (1 lb or less), try heating in a non-stick skillet of the stove top and add some cider vinegar or apple juice to moisten- quick and easy and tasty. For larger amounts, use a tin like you do for a drip pan- pour vinegar or juice in there and heat for about an hour at 350- if getting dry, add more juice/vinegar. Can also add extra rub in desired, especially if you want it spicy. If you like Eastern NC BBQ sauce,pour it on too. If you are a sauce fiend, then go ahead and add it too.

Butterfly chicken- also called chicken under a brick. This is where you cut the spine of the whole chicken out, grill under bricks or heavy cans to grill the meat evenly and get crispy skin. Again, Cooks Illustrated has a great description, as does Raichlen.

Sweet Mustard BBQ sauce: this recipe can be found in Southern Living. Great. I don't have it on me right now, and I need to get to bed. If you really want it, let me know and I'll post it. It was the hands down favorite of the Skelton clan.

That's enough for me for now. I'll post later in the weekend on my comparison of BBQ and fishing. Overall a great trip- I got to grill on the same grill as Flamb-Ed (Char-Broil Sante Fe Charcoal Grill- you can get it for about $100- absolute steal). I thought it was fantastic- lots of great features including a coal pan that can be raised, which is great for steaks. Ed- get a pair of suede work gloves to move things around. I got a pair for $2 in Hampton, TN and can in real hand for moving coals and lifting the pan.

Adios, and keep grilling.

The Mark of the Moist Heat

If you have ever searched online for grilling accessories, one of the more common novelty items you will come across will be grill brands that you can use to brand letters or words on to your your grilled meat. I happened to come across such an item while shopping at a discount store in the Northwoods. They were selling single letter brands for $1 but the choices were very limited. Since I could not get a "K" for my last name, I of course looked for an "M" and "H" for Moist Heat. They did not have an "H" but they did in fact have an "M". Skeptical that these things actually work, I figured I wouldn't feel too bad if tried one out for only $1. So I purchased the "M" (or maybe it was supposed to be a "W"?).

I grilled up some boneless chicken breasts last night that I had rubbed with Magic Dust and just for kicks decided to give the brand a try. While the chicken was cooking, I placed the tip of the brand in the hot coals and let it sit there for a few minutes. Just before the chicken was done, I removed the brand from the coals and placed the red hot "M" on the chicken. Surprisingly the brand worked very well and left a nice charred "M" right on the chicken. Too bad I couldn't find an "H" to go with it. Maybe I could do an "M" and a "W" for Moist and Wet?? :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Baby Backs - Part Deux

As I reflected on T-Bone's First Ribs from a few weeks ago, I realized I needed to give it another go. T-Bone ain't no quitter. I also realized that to achieve true moist heat bliss, I needed to let loose my feelings and surrender to the power of the pork.

Instead of following one recipe to the letter or following someone else's fire-building instructions, I went with my gut. I also decided to worry less about home-made rubs and sauces until I get the meat the way I want it. Yesterday's ribs turned out closer to what I was looking for and the total experience was a lot more satisfying.

After a nice warm water rinse, the ribs were patted dry and the membranes removed (a lot easier the 2nd time around). Next, I squeezed some yellow mustard onto each rack and worked in a generous portion of the rub. I then put them in a sealed container and into the fridge for a couple of hours.

Considering that my fire may have been too hot last time, I wanted to limit my coal usage so I decided to use one webber coal basket (used for holding coals for indirect grilling). Overall, I only used about 25 briquetts (5 unlit coals at the bottom of the basket and 20 hot ones put over them). With my limited greal estate, this seemed to work well to give me a steady temp of 240 degrees for a good 2.5 - 3.0 hours. Hickory wood chunks and apple wood chips were used for the smoke.

The ribs were put on a rack and sprayed with a bourban / apple cider solution every 20 - 30 minutes for nearly 2 hours. At that point, the ribs were placed in a foil cake pan with a mixture of cider, brown sugar, and honey. I also placed some D. L. Jardine's Killer BBQ sauce on the ribs, sealed it with heavy foil and put it back on the grill for another hour. A little more sauce was added just before eating.

Mrs. T liked the results (as well as my better disposition).

Note to Andiken: Notice the thermometer placement next to the meat. Sitting up on the rack this way, I was able to read it through the top kettle vent. I also checked the grill level temp of which there was little difference away from the fire.

Beer can and baseball

It seems that beer can chicken was popular this weekend, after the rib disappointment I reverted to gas and something I've done before. Though to spice it up I tried a new cajun rub from Raichlen's beer can chicken book (mainly because we forgot about the 14 hours needed for the tandoori one and this only took 45 minutes). It worked a treat and everyone must have liked it since there was only bones left at the end.

For the fourth we were at Miller Park to watch the Brewers beat the Reds and (the main reason for going) get our bobble-dogs. The brats cooked up great (pictures are on film not digital) and set us up for a good quick game. I think this was only the second time I've seen the Brewers win!! Maybe I should tailgate more.....

Grilling, grilling, and more grilling

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July. My trip up north was great and I grilled every night! We started with pork chops on Saturday night. Something easy since we spent the morning driving and didn't have much prep time for anything else. Sunday night I did a beer can chicken and it turned out great (see photo). Since I don't have a true smoker at the cabin, I did indirect heat for about 1.5 hours. In the past the skin seemed to burn quite a bit but this time it turned out just right. The chicken was flavorful and tender.

We finished off the weekend with ribeyes on Monday night. I marinated them for about 7 hours in equal parts Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce, a little fresh black pepper and just a pinch of spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning. The ribeyes were the best steaks I think I have ever grilled. I threw a few wood chunks on there to give them a nice smokey flavor and they came off a perfect medium (sorry no pics). I also grilled some garlic bread to go with the steaks and actually seemed to be a bigger hit with the family than the steaks.

While in the Northwoods I also stopped by Super Walmart and checked out their meat section. I picked up a 7.6 lb. pork shoulder for about $8 and an 11 lb. brisket for $5.50!! They were clearing out the brisket becuase the sell by date was July 4 so they were selling it a $0.50/lb!!! Even if the brisket is not great quality you can't go wrong for $5.50! All in all it was a great cooking weekend. Time to start planning for this weekend! :)

Monday, July 03, 2006

To burn or not to burn...

...that would be the question if I could get my charcoal hot enough! Last night saw the christening of my new grill after a tough Saturday afternoon seasoning it. I started out confident, the ribs had been rubbed with a chipotle chile rub and refrigerated overnight and the basting sauce made ready for the end of the cooking.

I scattered about a chimney full of unlit coals into the grill and poured on a chimney full of lit ones (in an attempt to use the Minion method). I then left the grill to warm up; the included thermometer has readings for warm, ideal and hot. Try as I might I could not get the hand out of the warm and into the ideal zone. I tried raising and lowering the coals to affect air flow over/under them and opening and closing the vents all to no avail. After a while I put the ribs on thinking the low and slow method may be good enough, but it wasn’t to be. They had shrunk back from the bones beautifully but the basting sauce never really got hot and (here is where I hang my head in the grill confessional) I ended up finishing them on the gas grill to get some heat into them.

Admittedly the results weren’t bad and the ribs tasted good, but were a little tough and not quite as ‘fall off the bone’ tender as they could have been. So, since I clearly need a lesson in charcoal management, here is my challenge: I will happily provide ribs and refreshments if someone would like to come round (to our house – I understand this isn’t a commonly used phrase ;-)) and show me how to get the best out of my grill, and charcoal up to a decent cooking temperature.

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