Moist Heat BBQ

A place to post your drippings

Monday, May 21, 2007

Flamb Ed’s award-winning ribs

After this weekend’s fundraiser and barbecue competition, where vinegar seemed to win out in a couple of categories, it has been suggested that winning recipes should be posted. Now some people say you should never tell your secrets, but as I am neither a magician or involved in any kind of espionage, I doubt that applies to me.

Rib preparation began on Friday night after picking them up from Joe-be-wan’s – if anyone was watching his house who knows what they might have thought after seeing a stream (well three) of grown men turn up and leave shortly afterwards carrying packages under their arms. We all disappeared into the night thinking of paprika, chilli powder and brown sugar. Rubs were made in secrecy – in fact I made two as I realized halfway through I’d used three times too much onion powder in the first – so a quick trip to the spice house was in order to re-stock on paprika. The second time round all was well (see below for the recipe). The ribs were prepared by removing the membrane, washing and patting dry and then rubbing (with the rub, rather than just a relaxing massage) and wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerating overnight.
Flamb Ed’s award-winning rib rub
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp pepper (we use peppercorns royale from the spice house)
1 tbsp chilli powder (peace climb)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper

Place all the above in a bowl and mix until combined.

On competition morning, nerves were jangling as the grill was prepared and the wood soaked. The ribs were brought out of the fridge and up to room temperature before putting on the grill. The grill was prepared with a water-filled drip pan on one side and just over a chimney full of unlit ‘barbeque wood flavors’ (available at Sentry) charcoal on the other. Just over half a chimney of lit briquettes was added to the unlit charcoal, and we were off. The temperature came up to about 330°F, a soaked red wine stave (one of Raichlen’s ideas – available at was put on the charcoal to smoke, and the ribs placed over the drip pan. For the next three hours not much changed, the ribs were turned every hour or so, and more staves added when the smoke stopped, although the temperature dropped slowly to about 230-250°F. At a low point of around 230°F I added a few unlit lumps of charcoal to keep the fire going and temperature steady. After another half hour (so three and a half in total) the ribs were painted for the first time (recipe below), then returned to the smoky atmosphere. At this point, we changed from wine staves to a cherry/apple mix for smoking – the tactical reasoning behind this decision was based on the fact that we’d run out of wine staves. Twenty minutes passed, the ribs were painted again, then wrapped in foil and left on the grill.

Flamb Ed’s award winning rib paint

1 can of Guinness
1 tbsp molasses
⅔ cup of ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pepper (as above)

Reduce the Guinness for as long as you can be bothered to wait for it – be careful, it will froth up and attempt to cover your cooker top in a sticky Guinnessy goo early on (trust me on this). Now add the molasses to the liquid followed by the ketchup and sugar and stir until smooth. Meanwhile brown the bacon and shallot in a separate pan, and transfer it (the bacon/shallot rather than the pan) to a blitzer – I’m not sure of the technical term for this piece of kitchen equipment, it’s a small container with a couple of blades at the bottom, when you attach the handle/lid and push the button the blades spin round really fast and blitz everything, hence blitzer – along with some of the liquid from the pan. Now blitz the bacon/shallot/Guinness/molasses/ketchup until as smooth as it can get and then sieve the blitzed mixture back into the remaining liquid in the pan. Add the salt and pepper and simmer until the sauce reaches the consistency you want.

The wrapped ribs were left on the grill (at about 250°F) for about 45 minutes then wrapped in a double layer of paper bags and placed in a cooler; the rest, as they say, is history.

We arrived at the church and found our way by following the sound of Joe-be-wan’s voice – I’m not sure what he was talking about though it was probably related to butter or vinegar – to the kitchen filled with the heady smell of smoke (no nothing was on fire). At this point everyone’s secrets came out as the food was there, just awaiting the judging.

Sauces was the first round, and suddenly four jars (all unlabelled) appeared as if by magic and had some of their contents delicately arranged over the regulation pulled pork – before they were whisked off to the judges table for their deliberations. Whispers of approval were relayed back to the kitchen by well-placed and innocent looking spies. Pulled pork was next up, and four very different versions faced the judges – I overloaded my plate in the hope that quantity (rather than quality) would give me an edge, but alas. Finally ribs, this was the biggie category in the Flamb household; we opened the foil-wrapped package ready for slicing (with, might I add, the biggest and shiniest cleaver) – they were dark and sticky on the outside, with a lovely pink flesh inside. I was pretty pleased, probably my best attempt at ribs so far this season. Once sliced, Mrs Flamb and I removed the paintbrush hairs that were stuck to a couple and plated up the entry. We would have to wait for the results.

After the judging (and the powerpoint presentation) and everybody having had seconds, word went round that there was to be a rib-off with T-bone and I tied for best rib, we presented a third rib for assessment by an honorary judge and made our peace with each other – the best rib would win.

Finally the results of the judging were announced, the air was thick with tension (you could have cut it with one of the plastic butter knives lying around) around the Moist Heat team. Joe-be-wan won best sauce and delighted the attentive audience with a description, he also secured the best pulled pork trophy and collected his prize to rapturous cheers of ‘Fix! Fix!’ However we knew he couldn’t make it a clean sweep because of the rib-off. As you may have guessed from the title of the post, we won best rib J; instead of running up kissing the trophy, pulling my t-shirt over my head and running around the room as though I’d won the world cup, I collected the trophy quietly.

Now I know I’ll try not to rib Joe-be-wan too much about being beaten by a foreigner who had never heard of Southern Barbecue a couple of years ago, but ‘too much’ is a subjective amount...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

BBQ Fundraiser


The 1st Annual Plymouth Church BBQ Fundraiser was held this past Saturday with the Moist Heat Team preparing food for a sell out crowd of more than 80 people looking for a taste of authentic southern BBQ! The event raised $1500 with all proceeds going to the church. A big thanks to everyone who attended as well as the businesses that helped sponsor the event including Bunzel's, Cranky Al's, and Bartolotta's. And thank you to Fox and Branch for providing us with American roots music while we enjoyed the great food.

The event began at 5PM with the Moist Heat Team scrammbling around the kitchen getting not only the event food prepared, but also preparing our competition meat that was to be judged by two local chefs. The judges were brought a sample of each item in the competition (sauce, pulled pork, ribs) and recorded their scores for the announcement that would happen later in the night.

Jo-Be-Wan then took center stage and presented his famous BBQ PowerPoint presentation to the crowd of drooling mouths as the smell of BBQ filled the room. Once everyone was caught up on their BBQ history, it was time to eat!! Smoked chicken, pulled pork, brisket, ribs, an entire table of sauces, and too many side dishes to name made for a feast of southern BBQ. People were coming up for 2nd helpings just as soon as we had finished dishing out the first round of meat. Everything was a hit but the beef brisket seemed to get the most compliments and was the only dish we ran out of. (Take that Joe-Be-Wan!) Fox and Branch continued to play as everyone ate their meals and then headed up to the dessert table for peach cobbler and ice cream.

The tension was mounting as everyone was awaiting the results of the BBQ competition. The results were tallied and the rib competition was tied between two of the contestants. A third judge was then brought in to taste each of the ribs. He ate most of one of the ribs (T-Bone) and said "Very good". He took one bite of the other (Flamb Ed) and he said "That's the one!!". The official results were then announced. Best sauce went to Joe-Be-Wan for his modified Willingham sauce. Best pulled pork also went to Joe-Be-Wan. And Best rib went to Flamb Ed for his spare ribs with Guinness Beer BBQ sauce. Just for fun, the Moist Heat Team then tallied the total of all three scores to see who was the overall winner. Initially it looked like T-Bone was the top point getter. But after reviewing the scores, Joe-Be-Wan came out on top. Below are the results from the competition:

Best Sauce:

Flamb EdAndakinT-BoneJoe-Be-Wan
Appearance (10 pts. max)10101010
Texture (10 pts. max)10101010
Taste (20 pts. max)13141619
TOTAL (40 pts. max)33343639

Best Pulled Pork:

Flamb EdAndakinT-BoneJoe-Be-Wan
Appearance (10 pts. max)961010
Texture (10 pts. max)76910
Taste (20 pts. max)16141820
TOTAL (40 pts. max)32263740

Best Ribs:

Flamb EdAndakinT-BoneJoe-Be-Wan
Appearance (10 pts. max)91089
Texture (10 pts. max)109109
Taste (20 pts. max)19171916
TOTAL (40 pts. max)38363734

Note: After reviewing the scores, there was a miscount on the Ribs tally. Ed won 38-37 over T-Bone's ribs with no "Rib-Off" needed. However, the "Rib-Off" made for a good time. :)

Overall Points Total:

Flamb EdAndakinT-BoneJoe-Be-Wan

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this event a huge success! Click on the links below for more pictures from the event.

Prepping for the competition

More prep for the competition

Sampling the competition ribs

The great Joe-Be-Wan teaching

Table of sauces

Serving up the meat

Joe-Be-Wan checking his meat

Young D-Rock enjoying the food

Coda getting some sauce

Monday, May 14, 2007

Where Rednecks Come From

How do you turn a Midwest Moist Heat Team Member into a redneck?

Have him spend 6 hours in the sun talkin' BBQ with no sun screen.

P.S. My daughter liked the care package I brought home...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Moist Heat BBQ Class

Left to right: T-Bone, Andakin, Joe-Be-Wan, Skippy, Flamb-In-Law, Flamb Ed
Front: Troy

The first ever Moist Heat BBQ class took place yesterday and was a huge success! The weather was great (although a bit windy at times), the meat was smoky, and everyone had a great time. A big thanks to Bunzel’s Meat Market for providing us with all of our meat and also to Cranky Al’s for providing us with a much needed pot of coffee that helped wake everyone up at 8AM and got them ready to learn.

Preparation for the class had been going on for months but the real work started on Friday night when Andakin and Joe-Be-Wan started preparing for the class by putting on an 8lb. brisket on Andakin’s smoker and 4 pork shoulders in Joe-Be-Wan’s Backwoods Smoker. Wisconsin weather did not cooperate that night though and dropped Andakin’s fire temps down to 80 degrees in the middle of the night. No matter how hard Joe-Be-Wan tried, he was unable to get the temps back up and was forced to move the brisket over to his Backwoods. By 7:30 AM on Saturday, the shoulders were wrapped and resting in a cooler and the brisket was at 170 degrees and was transported back to the Chargriller to finish up.

Students began arrive just before 8 and right away started examining all of the smokers on hand. Flamb Ed’s Charbroil Santa Fe, T-Bone’s Weber kettle, Andakin’s Chargriller, and of course Joe-Be-Wan’s Backwoods Smoker.

Class began with a brief history of southern BBQ by Joe-Be-Wan. The much anticipated BBQ PowerPoint presentation was then given which outlined all of the different sauces from each region in the south as well as the different cuts of meat.

Joe-Be-Wan kept the class on a very strict schedule, making sure chimney starters of lump or briquettes were lit at the exact time needed and that the class transitioned smoothly from one cut of meat to the next. Preparation and smoking of pork shoulder, ribs, chicken, and even brisket was covered in the 6 hour class with a brief break in between eat cut for a sampling of the meat (the brisket and Memphis Dry Rub ribs got rave reviews). Each Moist Heat team member smoked something different on their smokers. T-Bone started a marinated and injected pork shoulder right at 9AM. Joe-Be-Wan prepped 6 racks of spare ribs and started them on his smoker at 10AM. Flamb Ed fired up his smoker at 11AM for the Memphis Dry Rub ribs. And chicken quarters were put on Andakin’s smoker at 1pm. Class ended at about 2PM and the students were sent home to pick up their families and side dishes for the 5PM dinner.

The families started arriving back at Joe-Be-Wan’s house around 5PM to the sight and smell of a true southern cookout. Hickory smoke filled the air from the spare ribs that were still going on the Backwoods and the table started to fill with all of the authentic southern side dishes that everyone had brought. Corn bread, baked beans, sweet potato casserole, coleslaw, and corn on the cob were just some of the dishes that complimented the perfectly smoked spare ribs, dry rub baby back ribs, brisket, pulled pork, and chicken. As they say down south, the food was so good “your tongue will beat your brains out gettin’ to it!” The night ended with Joe-Be-Wan still smoking meat on his Backwoods to prepare for the Moist Heat BBQ Fundraiser that is taking place next Saturday.

The Moist Heat Team wants to thank everyone for attending the class and hope you all came away with an appreciation for the time and dedication it can take to prepare true southern BBQ.

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