Moist Heat BBQ

A place to post your drippings

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Charcoal’s for wimps

Last weekend we headed north towards Chippewa Falls and Superior for a spot of camping and relaxing and possibly our first ‘road trip’, though we’re unsure as to the qualification requirements for this title. Is it time on the road, distance covered or a combination thereof? Whatever, we covered just over 900 miles (or almost the length of Britain), culminating in an 8 hour trip home on Sunday. We did manage to squeeze in the Leinenkugel’s brewery and Wollershein winery on our travels, so that made it all worthwhile.

Since we were camping we had to make use of the cooking facilities provided by the parks we stayed at – so no lid to cover things for smoking. But it did mean we got to cook over wood in a fire pit rather than charcoal in a grill.

On the first night we had marinated chicken breasts from Bunzels butcher’s, flame seared with much of the marinade burning (sorry, caramelizing) on the outside. Inside they were tender and juicy and flavoursome. The next night was country-style ribs rubbed with the spice house’s 4th July spice, these were lovely and possibly the meaty highlight of the trip. Slowly cooked over embers rather than flames (we’d learnt from the previous night) the ribs pulled back from the bone and retained a decent level of moisture. For the last couple of nights more traditional camping fare was in order, with steak and then brats cooked nice and slow over embers once again.

Overall a great trip with good meat, the occasional vegetable and plenty of beer and wine – who could ask for more?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ribs and Ripple

The title of this blog refers to my father-in-law's name for wine- Ripple, which is an old, cheap, fortified wine in the vein of Mad Dog 20/20. I've enjoyed mixing wine with BBQ all summer, even though there can be challenges like tonight.

I did Raichlen's Chinatown ribs. I did as told and used baby backs- Kristen found Smithfield Farms babybacks at Sams. As always, Smithfield doesn't let down- very meaty and well cut.

The ribs were easy to do: first, I adapted them for the smoker, and that worked well. 3 racks, total of about 9 lbs, over 4 hours at 225. Uncovered, then wrapped and rested for an hour. Smokey, meaty, tender, moist. I used pecan and cherry pieces I was given by Dr. Porkenstein himself.

I also adapted his BBQ sauce and used it as a glaze. You can also use it as a marinade, which I did overnight, but I'm a big believer in the glaze now.

Lesson from this day- always remove the memberane when smoking. I usually leave the membrane on baby backs, as they are so tender, the membrane keeps them together. But with smoking, they are falling apart, and the membrane makes it difficult to cut them apart, and the meat just ripped off the bone, and they were kind of a mess. The meat was still great, but not as much fun chomping off the bone. For those whose spouses don't care for ribs (you know who you are, West A), this might be a good option. So from now on, membrane off.

On the whole, I'm following teachings and still doing baby backs for 4 hours on the smoker, no wrapping until they come off, and using glaze when I pull them off (at least for this one- Andiken has good luck glazing as he goes).

No pics- just a full belly.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pirates of the charcoal: The quest for the tastiest rib

With Johnny Depp and friends being such a hit at the box office at the moment, we decided to pay homage to the men of the sea with dubious moral standards. “Buccaneers ribs” were chosen from Raichlen’s ribs book to help us in our quest.

In a break from the usual we decided to give baby-backs a go since they seem to require less cooking time, I attempted to remove the membrane, but it was going nowhere (much easier on spare ribs) so ended up slicing down it along the meaty sections to allow the flavours to penetrate. The marinade was made up and the ribs covered before we headed to the State Fair to see amongst other things some of the 40 different kinds of food on a stick!! The pigs were closed off when we got there, so our view of real life ribs was restricted to those on the racing pig athletes.

Anyway, I digress, the ribs were turned a couple of times in the marinade to ensure full coverage before being brought up to room temperature for grilling. The grill was set up as before with half briquettes and lump in both the chimney and the grill itself. After warming the grill to about 325, the ribs were placed on the grate, and some soaked woodchips on the coals. Whilst grilling, the Rumbullion sauce was made up – a nice rum-based sauce with fruity undertones. The ribs were turned every 30 minutes or so for one and a half to two hours, then brushed with Rumbullion sauce and placed over the hot coals to get the sauce bubbling. Finally the ribs were rested for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.

The results were sweet and juicy with a hint of smoke and fruitiness – I would certainly recommend them.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

"The Best Ribs He Ever Had"

Last weekend's practice rib run turned out to very helpful to this weekend's ribfest for the in-laws. My initial plan was to make one rack of maple glazed ribs and one rack of sticky sweet ribs using Sweet Baby Ray's or some doctored version of SBR. After being a little disappointed with last weekend's ribs using the Magic Dust, I decided to go back to basics this time. I rubbed both racks and tips with the rub from the maple glazed recipe which basically consists of brown sugar, salt, pepper, sage, and dry mustard. Very simple and very sweet. The ribs were wrapped and refridgerated overnight.

I started the coals at around 12:30pm and the fire was ready by 1pm. The ribs went on and were smoked with hickory chunks (see my note below about the wood chunks) for 3 hours. After two hours I started glazing the ribs. I glazed them every 1/2 hour for a total of 3 times before they were wrapped. After 3 hours I wrapped the ribs for 1 more hour. I then unwrapped them, glazed them one more time and threw them on my gas grill. After only a few minutes the glaze was perfectly carmelized and the ribs had a beautiful sheen to them. I served them with Emily Densmore's awesome baked beans (slightly modified) and grilled garlic bread.

The ribs were perfect! Tender enough that you could pull the meat off the bone easily but not so tender that that the meat fell off the bone while you were picking them up. My father-in-law said they were the best ribs he had ever had. The beans were a hit too. I will post the recipe for both the ribs and the beans on our recipe page. Feel free to make your own modifications to the beans recipe.

Now, about the wood chunks. It seems as though retailers here in Wisconsin think that the grilling season is coming to a close where as we all know we have at least another month or two before we have to pack up for the winter. Running low on wood chunks, I went looking for more Friday night. My normal stop, Walmart (Hwy-100), had none to be seen. I thought for sure that my other standard, Walmart on Mooreland, would have some in stock. By the way, they are also the place to find the Royal Oak lump which they did still have a few bags of. Initially I did not see any wood chunks but after searching a bit more, I spotted a few bags marked on clearance for $5 each. Knowing I would have a hard time finding more this season, I decided to stock up and picked up all 5 large bags of hickory chunks. That should last me well through this season and the start of next season. So just a warning to all you smokers, if you are need of wood, go out and grab some now becuase come Thanksgiving when you are ready to smoke your turkey, you may not be able to find it.

The Portugese 'Nawlins Chef knows what he's doin'

Kristen and I had to take ribs to a party on Saturday, and she saw Emeril Lagasse make these ribs on ABC morning news. We, or course, adjusted them to spareribs (far tastier and less expensive) and for smoking.

Below is our version of Emeril's Ribs with Spicy Root Beer and Bourbon Glaze:

For the glaze:
2 (12-ounce) cans of root beer
2 tablespoons hot pepper jelly
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 teaspoon Hot Pepper Sauce (like Tabasco)
6 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons bitters (recommended: Angostura- a weird liquer found at Ray's, about $8)
1 cup bourbon
1 cup sugar

To make the glaze, place all the ingredients for the glaze in a 6-quart pot or larger, and cook over medium-high heat. Bring the contents of the pot to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar.
Once the mixture has come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and allow it to reduce to a glaze consistency, about 25 to 30 minutes longer. Remove the glaze from the stove and strain though a fine mesh strainer. Reserve and keep warm, until ready to use.

For the ribs:
2 Racks Spareribs, tips cut off, membrane removed
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1½ teaspoons granulated onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix in a small bowl and rub on both sides of the ribs and tips- leave in refridgerator for at least 4 hours, preferrably overnight.

Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F: I used one chimney starter of Kingsford briquettes and then filled coal pan full of lump charcoal (Royal Oak)- this lasted the full 4 hours.

Smoke the ribs for about 3-4 hours (I used soaked hickory chunks) with wood of choice, until the are darkened on the outside and the meat pulls from the ribs a small amount, and you can wiggle a rib easily (but not falling out).

Remove the ribs from the smoker and brush the ribs with a generous coating of the glaze, about 3 tablespoons of the glaze per set of ribs. Wrap the ribs in foil tightly, and place in a cooler or in a paper bag for at least an hour.

When ready to eat, heat your gas or charcoal grill again and place both rib racks and tips on the grill. Brush with a generous amount of glaze. A lot of the glaze will soak in, so keep brushing until they are glistening. By having them on the grill, they will heat again and the glaze will carmelize nicely. Serve to your happy guests. Serves 4 really hungry people, but more like 6 with side dishes.

These turned out great. See below (pictures courtesy of my son, Troy)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Grandpa knows best

After my well documented attempts to obtain a decent cooking temperature, this weekend I decided to go the other way and set my sights on true moist heat, a nice low and slow smoky cooking experience (set it and forget it, if you will!). Surely this wouldn’t be too hard after my previous attempts. We stayed with ribs, but went for beef short rather than spare and a recipe from Steven Raichlen’s ribs book: Grandpa’s pastramied beef ribs.

The wet rub was made up Saturday morning, applied, the ribs wrapped in cling film and refrigerated before we headed to Chicago to watch English football’s finest (Chelsea) lose to the major league soccer all-stars. On Sunday the ribs were brought up to room temperature and the grill it around 1pm (aiming for a five hour smoke). I used 50:50 briquettes and lump in the chimney and about an equal unlit amount in the grill, the coal pan was moved to its lowest level and air vents opened at the top and almost closed at the bottom. With the temperature hovering just over the ideal 250 and smoke from some red wine barrel staves filling the air with a delightfully sweet aroma, the ribs were put on the grill. Regular checks of the temperature indicated that the ribs were cooking somewhere nearer 350 than 250, and short of opening the lid and losing all the smoke I wasn’t sure how to get the temperature down. I know, some people are never happy: winge moan...can’t get the temperature high enough, more moaning....can’t get the temperature low enough... The ribs were mopped with a ginger ale/cider vinegar mop sauce every hour, and after 2 hours above 300 were wrapped in foil for another hour before taking off the grill and resting. Retrospectively we decided to smoke roast the ribs rather than just smoke them, though this left us facing the prospect of a very early dinner. So, we left the ribs to rest for over an hour still wrapped and then ate them when hungry later.

The meat was tender with some bite, and full of flavours. I even managed to convince myself I’d got a smoke ring without the aid of modern computing! For future attempts at smoking I’ll probably try it without the briquettes and go for 100% lump for my fire, any other suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ribs & Chicken

Well, my plan this weekend was to smoke two racks of spare ribs for the in-laws. They decided not to stop by this weekend so I scaled it back to just one rack. I trimmed and rubbed the ribs (Magic Dust) Friday night. I had a hell of a time trying to get the membrane off and eventually gave up. This was the first time I had trimmed ribs and was a little scared that I was doing it wrong but I think they turned out pretty good.

Using the Minion Method, I started the coals at around 11:15AM on Saturday. The fire was ready to go by around noon. I put the ribs on and smoked them with a combination of hickory chunks and apple chips. As I've seen others on BBQ boards say, you would think they elected a new Pope with the amount of smoke I had coming out of my smoker. My neighbor actually asked me what I was doing since it smelled like I was burning wood. I smoked them for 3 hours and started mopping them after one hour and mopped evey 1/2 hour with Joe-Be-Wan's cider vinegar & brown sugar mop sauce. After 3 hours I glazed them with the Nashville BBQ sauce that I had added extra brown sugar to and wrapped them in foil. I checked them after 1.5 hours and they were more than done. Almost too tender. I unwrapped them, glazed them again and threw them on the gas grill on high for about 5 mins (or less).

Overall they turned out good but still not the "perfect rib". A little too tender and I'm not sure the Magic Dust is the right rub. I think my method for spare ribs will be 3 hours smoking and 1 hour wrapped. That should produce a tender rib that still has a slight pull. The Magic Dust is good but a little strong at times. I much preferred the brown sugar rub that is used with the Maple Glazed ribs. This was a good test though since the in-laws might be stopping by next weekend. Now I have a better gauge of time and can try a new rub. I plan on doing one rack of Maple Glaze ribs and another rack that I haven't decided yet. Either dry rub or sticky ribs but with a different sauce than the Nashville.

Only one picture since I did not have the camera most of the day on Sat.

Sunday I smoked some chicken legs and finished them with Sweet Baby Ray's. Below are pictures of the legs, naked and sauced.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Thanksgiving Dry Run

In preparation for thanksgiving, I decided to do a turkey. I chose Raichlen's Hickory Smoked Turkey. Recipe will be posted.

I decided to not collect the drippings, since I'm using a smoker and just use chicken broth instead.

Bought a 14 lb turkey and made up the brine- the brine was simple. The turkey was frozen, but left in cold water overnight (brine), it was perfectly thawed by the time I started the fire around noon on Saturday.

Kept the temp 250 to 275. Turkey browned nicely. I decided to mix a little olive oil in with the butter to baste the turkey. I did well. I have switched to lighting Match light briquettes- they are just easier to control the heat. I then spread unlit Royal Oak in the bottom of my coal pan and poured the lit briquettes over them (pure Minion method). I kept the temp between 250 and 275 and regularly added hickory chunks to it. I basted every hour w/ olive oil-butter mixture and flipped it once. The skin browned nicely.

The gravy was easy to make, and like I said, I skipped the turkey dropping and just used broth. The gravey was great- sweet, but stil gravy.

Overall the turkey was....... okay. Breast was kind of dry, and the hickory flavor only came through on the leg and wings. The gravy did well w/ the dry-ish breast. Everyone liked it, but no screaming "this is the best turkey I've ever had" which is always the reaction I'm going for.

Overall, it was still better than your average holiday turkey, but I'd prefer shoulder or smoked chicken halves. I will definitely try again- turkey is pretty cheap and large. I think I will adjust the brine, probably by consulting Cook's Illustrated, which is the bible for brine recipes. Also, I'll probably double up on the smoke by doing more hickory. the gravy I would do again. I'll also probably do it breast side down for the whole time to prevent drying.

Plenty of time to practice before Thanksgiving- don't let me scare anyone- its easy and cheap to try, and I'd be interested to see how other people fare.
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