Moist Heat BBQ

A place to post your drippings

Sunday, February 18, 2007


I broke my winter curse. My wife was feeling kind of down, and seeing that I bought a new book (Willingham's BBQ cookbook- John Willingham is a Memphis legend, makes his own smokers, and claims to be head of the most decorated BBQ team in history), I decided to brave the cold.

I chose Willingham's championship rib recipe and one of his many sauce recipes. I will skip past all of the prep for reasons to be revealed later. I am proud to say that I successfully smoked while temps were around 14 degrees. The disturbing part was breaking through ice to get to my soaking hickory chunks. Overall, it wasn't that bad- the fire kept me warm, the sun was out, and the smoker (mine is insulated) kept right at 225.

I am skipping past my recipe and techniques because Kristen said these were my best ribs ever, and wants me to enter them into the contest, so I shan't share my recipe this time. I will say that this was the first time I would eat ribs without sauce- they were that good.

We also discovered that my 12 month old baby loves ribs- I guess its in his genes.

Monday, February 12, 2007

School Supplies

The inaugural Moist Heat BBQ class isn't until May 12 but it's not too early to start preparing and getting your supplies ready. Below is a list of the essentials as well as some of the extras that the pros use.


Obviously this is the most important item you will need. The Moist Heat team recommends two grills:

This is a great charcoal grill with a front access panel to make it easy to add more wood or charcoal when needed. Since this grill does not have a separate fire chamber, you will utilize the indirect heat method for smoking with this grill.

This is one step up from the Santa Fe and will take you to the next level of smoking. You can purchase the grill by itself and use it the same way you would the Santa Fe (although no front access door). Or you can go all the way and purchase the side fire box which will give you the true smoking experience. For a mere $55 more, if you are going to get the Chargriller, definitely get the side fire box. You will then have the option to use the grill as a weeknight charcoal grill and your weekend smoker.

What would a class be without books? These are required readings for the Moist Heat team:

How to Grill - Steven Raichlen
This is the "Dummies Guide to Grilling". This book covers everything from choosing the right tools, to how to set up your grill, and also includes some great recipes. While most of us agree that Raichlen is a bit of a geek, the man knows his BBQ. You don't have to like him, but you should start off by following his methods.

Peace, Love, & Barbecue - Mike Mills
Consider this your history lesson in BBQ. This book covers the true origins of BBQ. Scattered throughout the quirky anecdotes and history lessons are some authentic southern recipes including the famous Big Bob Gibson's Smoked Chicken with white BBQ sauce. Yes, white BBQ sauce! Don't be afraid, you will learn.


Ok, so you got your grill, you read your books, now you're ready to start smoking!! What's the first thing you need to do? Get your fire going. The best way to do that is with a Weber chimney starter. Don't even THINK about using lighter fluid! Fill this baby to the top and with the right control, you should be able to get anywhere from 3-4 hours of cook time from one load.

So what should you fill the starter with? Well, charcoal of course. But what kind? There are so many to choose from and everyone has their favorites. For a more authentic smoke, use lump charcoal. Lump charcoal is made by taking wood, usually limbs, branches, slabs from lumber mills, scraps from milling operations, etc. and heating this wood in a closed container in the absence of oxygen. While lump charcoal may give you a better flavor, it will burn hotter and faster than briquettes. Moist Heat team members typically use a mixture of lump charcoal and briquettes to get a great flavor and long slow burn.

And of course, if you plan on smoking, you need wood. You can use hickory, pecan, oak, apple, etc. or any combination. Most commonly you will find hickory and mesquite chips or chunks at your local store. Chips will give you a quick smoke, but will burn up quickly, while chunks will give you a more prolonged smoke, which is good for longer cooks. Always remember to soak your chips or chunks for at least an hour before you start cooking

Once you get your fire going, you need to get your utensils ready. The most important utensil you need is an instant read thermometer. During a long smoke, temperature control is key so you don't want to lose precious heat by keeping your grill cover open for extended amounts of time when checking your meat. An instant read thermometer will give you an instant (go figure) reading of the internal temperature of whatever slab of meat you are cooking. Get your reading and close the lid! Cooking your meat to the proper internal temperature ensures that your meat does not get under/over cooked.

Of course there are hundreds of other tools available to you. You will want a nice set of tongs, a decent grill brush and grill gloves (welding gloves work great and they are cheap!). Once you get more advanced, you will learn the need for a sauce mop and bucket, a rib rack, and maybe even a pair of meat pulling gloves.

That pretty much covers the basic tools needed for the job. Only thing left to do now is decide what you want to cook and how to prepare it. We'll save that for the next lesson. Until then...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Moist Heat's first ever BBQ class

Due to popular demand, the Moist Heat BBQ Team will be hosting a BBQ class

Plymoth United Church of Christ is having a BBQ fundraiser on May 19th, so in preparation for that, we will do prep the week before, so I am hosting an all day BBQ-fest at my house. This will be a good opportunity to bring the team together and teach some new young-ins.

The class will feature, in stream-of-conciousness style, how to smoke a pork shoulder, make tender and delicious ribs, create unique items such as Memphis Dry ribs, and learn the secrets of the North Alabama Smoked Chicken with White BBQ Sauce. You will earn the regional differences in BBQ, what wood to use, the different types of grills and smokers, building a good fire, and what are proper side items. As a bonus, wine pairings with BBQ will be featured in the evening.

Dates: BBQ Fest and Beginners Class- Saturday, May 12 at the Joe-Be-Wan's home and grill emporium. Class runs from 8-2ish, afternoon nap at home, then back to the house with family to eat our cookins'.
Plymouth Church BBQ Fundraiser and Contest: Saturday, May 19

The students do not have to bring their grills over, but are more than welcome to. I will limit class to the first 10 who sign up on the website. We ask for a $10 donation to help cover expenses. Beer drinking will commence at noon, time will be had to run home and have a short nap, and the families are invited later in the evening, as long as a Moist Heat approved side dish is bought. Then we'll pull the pork (no giggling, Ed) for the fundraiser.

For the next Saturday, students can pair off with one of the Moist Heat team as a sous chef to learn even more.

Blog or email with any questions.

Look forward to cookin' with y'all!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Winter Q

Not to be out done by Flamb-Ed, I want to touch base on the blog. I have been active, but not as much as I would like to be and have had the shakes from the low levels of smoke residue in my blood.

First, as I had bragged to Flamb Ed about, during our holiday visit in the South, I got to visit a BBQ landmark. If you have "Peace, Love, and BBQ", look up Lexington BBQ- I not visited this shrine of Western NC BBQ, but ate there and got a tour of the kitchen- I just walked up and used my best "Up Nort" accent and said "You'd never believe this, eh, but I came all 'da way from Milwaukee ta eeeet here!" and they took me throught there whole kitchen, the smokers, everything. IT WAS AWESOME!. I met Wayne Monk himself, who said that the Doctor of BBQ himself just filmed another episode there. Tip learned- heat your vinegar sauce- they keep their's in a coffee pot on a warming plate.

Next, I broke out the snow plow and cleared out BBQ central in my back yard and did another standing rib roast (read: Prime rib). Probably overdid the smoke, but was more medium rare this time. I also cut off the bones after cooking, which made the meat easier to cut. Went great with horseradish sauce and white BBQ sauce.

Finally, because Ed will reveal it sooner or later (you can't trust the English- look at Tony Blair), I cooked not one, but two, pork shoulders in the oven this weekend. One was for a mexican stew called Pozole, and it was good. Second, and this is the major news, is I did another for a mexican dish called Carnitas. The ingenious thing about that is: its crispy pork! Yes, you heard it right- its pork slow cooked in the oven with a marinade, pulled, then spread back in the pan with the de-fatted juices (well, not totally de-fatted), then put under the broiler and crisped up. I personally think it is incredible- the goodness of pulled pork with the crispiness of, uh... well, crispiness. We'll see if Ed comments- he was pretty quiet during dinner, but I think that was b/c he had to play a dancing game with my son after dinner and he was tired from being at the gym.

Overall, I'm still "gettin' my pork on" despite the weather, but no way is this boy from TN cooking out in below zero weather. Lapsand Soushoung tea is probably in the near future.
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