Moist Heat BBQ

A place to post your drippings

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Beef or lamb?

Sounds like something you’d be asked on a flight somewhere, and with the grey skies and drizzle of Saturday I would probably rather have been on one. But it wasn’t to be, so instead, with a newly acquired copy of Raichlen’s BBQ USA I set about selecting a couple of recipes – it would have been rude not to. I’d got a small beef rib rack and lamb shoulder from Sentry on Friday, so the main ingredients were sorted, with just the embellishments to determine. For the beef I decided on a pepper garlic rub and with the slightly less than optimum weather conditions I went gas (I’m sorry, I promise a hundred “Hail Joe-be-wan’s” before I next light my chimney), but I wasn’t too worried as the recipe called for no smoke. The meat was rubbed with the garlic and pepper and left at room temperature while the grill heated up. Once ready it was indirectly grilled for about 2 hours, turning halfway through; and that was it, nothing too fancy, nice and simple. We left the meat to rest for 10-15mins and then served it with Yorkshire puddings – a delicious accompaniment that the whole of America is missing out on!! This will no doubt cause confusion as they are savoury (and so not a pudding as some may think of it) and they don’t contain suet (the other thing savoury puddings are made from in England) which is only to be found in bird food here! See, I warned you, anyway, back to the meat..... Whilst I forgot to reduce the cooking time for the smaller cut I had than the recipe called for, the meat turned out really tasty. The rub gave just enough flavour without overpowering the beefiness and it was still plenty moist enough. Even Raichlen approved:

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day, which was fortunate as I was planning on using smoke and charcoal for the lamb. We chose a Pacific Rim recipe for lamb shanks and decided that there was probably little difference between shanks and shoulders... The meat was rubbed in the morning, refrigerated for about 6 hours and then brought up to room temperature before grilling. I tried a slightly different grill set up this time, I put about 2/3 of a chimney of unlit lump in the grill and filled my chimney just with briquettes to be lit. This worked marvelously; I managed to keep the grill at a constant 300F for over two hours. The meat was smoked with red wine staves for an hour and then wrapped in foil and kept on the grill for another 45mins. By this time the temperature had reached 140-150ish – according to the recipe (for shanks) I should have been aiming for 180. A quick check of another book suggested a good target for lamb shoulders was 130-140, so we considered it done. The shoulder was painted with some of the accompanying sauce (sorry I forgot to mention we’d made this too), grilled for another 10 mins and then rested. This was probably one of my grilling highlights to date, the lamb was lovely and moist with delicate hints of flavours, yet not enough to mask the lamb. The sauce added yet another dimension and was a perfect accompaniment. I really recommend this recipe.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dorchester ribs

After hearing about next year's potential cook-off, myself and Mrs Flamb set ourselves the challenge of coming up with an English rib recipe. At a loss for inspiration we hit the usual suspects: Google and the BBC. We came up with Dorchester ribs - they sound English if nothing else; and seeing as we had pretty much all the ingredients at home anyway, gave them a shot. The ribs were marinaded overnight (ketchup, A1 sauce, lime juice, Tabasco, cola, Worcestershire sauce, celery salt, garlic, coriander, olive oil, black pepper) in the fridge. The usual grill set up was used aiming for a temperature around 300 for 3-4 hours, smoke came from red wine barrel staves once again.

The ribs were brought up to room temperature, and then grilled for 3 hours, painted twice in the last hour with more of the marinade; then wrapped in foil and left on the grill for another 45 mins. Once rested the ribs were sliced and eaten.

To be honest this recipe was a little disappointing, the ribs were juicy and tender, but the marinade gave them a very sweet taste (too sweet for us.) We managed to counteract some of this with some Rumbullion sauce we had in the fridge - this made for a good rib flavour, but couldn't improve the knowledge that underneath was something oversweet for our palates.

We will keep hunting for something English (or at least English sounding) and hope the snow holds off long enough to get at least one pracice session in this year...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Andiken got me beat

I have to agree w/ Andiken's take on the smoked turkey breast. Mine wasn't as pretty, as he had both breasts and bone in. Mine was one large breast, bone out, skin on. Still, it can out nice- great flavor, tender, moist- almost perfect. I used maple chips, which gives kind of a burnt aroma, but mild, sweet flavor. I cooked at about 225 for a little over 2 hours.

On another note, did a shoulder with mostly oak- came out much sweeter, milder, and wood-ier than with hickory. I liked it, but was different.

Put Saturday, April 7th on your calender. Tenative date for Plymouth Church's 1st Annual Pig Pickin'. Moist Heat to be the featured team.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Thanksgiving comes early

After weeks of being lazy and not BBQin' anything, I decided it was time for me to open my mind and get back to the order of smokin' meat! The meat of choice this weekend, turkey breast. With Thanksgiving just over 2 months away, this would be a good trial run if I plan on smoking a full turkey at Thanksgiving.

I followed the Maple Smoked Turkey Breast recipe exactly from The 5.5 lb. bird breast was rubbed and refridgerated overnight, brought to room temperature, and then put on the grill. Using the Minion Method (the method that seems to work the best for me), I was able to keep the temps steady at about 250. I had a few spikes up to 300 but quickly fixed that by adjusting my vents or extinguishing any flaming wood chunks. I used fresh rosemary stalks to baste the turkey with the maple syrup & butter glaze.

The recipe said the bird would be done in about 1.5 hours but it took about 2 full hours to reach 170 using straight smoke. The turkey was very juicy and tender, no gravy needed. Although the skin was a little rubbery, it was still very flavorfull with just a hint of the maple syrup and rosemary. All in all I think this was a huge success and one of my favorite things I have smoked. I will definetly use this recipe for a full bird on Thanksgiving.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back to the Grill

Got away from traditional smoking, and did a beef tenderloin.

We followed step-by-step the Cook's Illustrated recipe. This included folding the thinner tail and tying, as well as using hickory chunks.

I used the last of my beloved Royal Oak charcoal- I swear it got to 700 degrees on that. I seared well, then did indirect grilling for about another 25 minutes for nice crust and medium rare inside. Made a chimicuri (Argentinian garlic-parsley sauce) that went perfectly.

Served this with chili-roasted sweet potatoes and a mexican romaine salad. Flamb Ed, Mrs. Flamb, and a tall drink of water from Rhinelander agreed- it was "awwwllll gooood!"

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Rib Less Traveled

Some of my Moist Heat Brethren have given me the business for not kow-towing to some Raichlen guy whose show I have never seen and whose books I do not own. Instead, I believe I have taken the path that, as Frost would say, "...has made all the difference."

Since being introduced to BBQ by Andiken and the great Joe-Be-Wan, I have concentrated not so much on the various sauces and rubs and marinades, but on the smoking and the timing and the temperatures required to achieve tender, moist meat on my kettle grill. My goal has been to try and nail down these factors as they apply to the different cuts and choices of meat. Many shoulders and ribs sacrificed their inner beauty so that I might learn and grow in my craft.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of coming across baby backs for $2.98 a pound. I froze two racks and decided to smoke two. As I dove into my preparation, I synthesized all that I had learned, and came up with my most tender ribs yet. One's that I do not think I could improve on. Now that I have a successful method seared into my brain, I believe I can introduce more flavors to my not so adventurous family. New flavors are more easily sold when there is tender, juicy meat underneath.

The pictures below also make "...all the difference."

Holiday weekend labors

With the Labor Day holiday weekend signaling the official end of summer we decided to drown our sorrows in smoke and meat. The extra day also gave me the opportunity to attempt a pork shoulder – a struggle for a mere mortal like me on a normal two-day weekend. The downside of this was that in attempting it I had to plan for all to go well (have enough food to feed a small African nation) and so invite people round to lend a willing mouth, but also have a contingency plan should all go horribly wrong and be faced with hungry guests, armed with little more than a takeaway menu. One way we thought we’d been more cunning than a fox was to invite people we knew tended to be busy and have plans, thus reducing the chance of people turning up. However, everyone could make it – so the pressure was on... During a planning conversation with Joe-be-wan, he pointed out that the shoulder could be prepared the day before guests arrived – giving me the entertaining day to just work on the ribs (back-up plan) – brilliant.

So, with plans formulated and spices bought, the weekend arrived: first things first...get the meat from the butchers. The shoulder was rubbed with magic dust, tenderized as recommended in Peace, Love and Barbecue and refrigerated. Next on the list was to make the marinade for our beer-can chicken (dark beer recipe from Raichlen’s book). Once done and the chicken marinating we set about making the sauces to go with the chicken and the apple/bacon sauce to go with the shoulder.

After this had been completed and all our pans and cutlery washed for about the fourth time in as many hours we took the chicken out of the marinade, dried and rubbed it with the dry spices and oil and put it on the (gas) grill, then we sat down with a drink. The chicken turned out great, lovely and juicy with a great crisp skin and had we been more awake we’d probably have remembered the sauce we’d made earlier in the day!

Sunday dawned, birds sang, dew glistened, myself and Mrs Flamb barely stirred. Once I’d worked up the energy, I got started on the shoulder with a chimney full of lit lump and slightly less in the grill to start with. Initially I had all vents open about half, though soon realized that this was burning a bit hot, so ended up adjusting my airflow to get the temperature down nearer to 250. The first hour or so cooked in between 250 and 300 and after that dropped to somewhere between 200-250, I know this is lower than suggested but this was a learning experience judging when to add coals and how to play with vents. For smoking I used a mixture of apple and hickory chips (roughly 85:15 ratio). The first lot of coals burnt for about one and a half to two hours, then after that I added a half chimney of lit coals (Mike Mills suggests never adding unlit coals to a fire) every 60-90 minutes to keep the temperature where I wanted it. After the first hour and a half we began mopping, and then did so every half hour or so until we reached the five and a half hour mark. By now the shoulder had started to blacken so we wrapped it in foil and left it on the grill for another hour and a half. After seven hours the temperature of the shoulder was 160ish, so we left it for another hour and it reached the target of 170. We unwrapped it, painted it with the apple/bacon sauce and left it on the grill for another 20 minutes. Then it was wrapped in foil again and placed in a paper bag for two hours. The meat was pulled by hand and could maybe have been a little more tender (more time on the grill or not letting the temperature drop too much may have solved this) but for a first attempt I was happy, and it tasted good on buns.

Monday was rib day and with the shoulder having worked out okay I was feeling good about things. The ribs had been rubbed the previous day with a chipotle chile based (wet) rub and refrigerated. They were brought up to room temperature and placed on the grill at a temperature just below 300. The grill was set up exactly as for the shoulder and kept going in the same way, just at a slightly hotter temperature. To add some variety we used red wine barrel staves for smoking. With today being the holiday, I was made to feel nostalgic for the great British barbecue with the rain pouring down and grilling undercover. The ribs were turned every hour to ensure even cooking, and after about four hours painted with a chipotle barbecue sauce. The ribs were then left for half an hour and then wrapped in foil for the last hour on the grill. For resting the foil-wrapped ribs were placed in a paper bag for about 30 minutes before slicing.

The ribs turned out great, not too tender even though some of the bones fell out of the meat as I sliced them up. The pulled pork heated up nicely in the oven. From what I could gather everyone enjoyed themselves, and as far as I know no-one has had any stomach complaints.

I learnt plenty about keeping my fire going this weekend, and reckon I’d be a better judge of when to start lighting coals to add in the future. I also found that The Onion is a pretty poor paper for lighting a chimney starter – it creates lots of big flaky ash that almost suffocated one chimney – much better to stick with the free paper that comes through the door.
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