Monday, June 30, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Ecstatic is the word. Zoe has been waiting to see George Michael since growing up with his music in England in the 80's. I have been making fun of him for the same amount of time....but this is not about me.
So, with my $8 beer (a hefe no less!) and her $7 cup of wine, we are ready to be soft rocked!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Asian rubbed ribs with a hoisin barbeque sauce! Yesterday was my birthday, and after having a fairly blah day at work, I decided to treat myself to a mid week treat (NOTE: Zoe was working because we are doing our true celebrating this weekend in Las Vegas!). I picked up a rack of babyback ribs from Kroger and quickly headed home to heat up the grill.
I went through my usual rib prep process. I removed the membrane by inserting my knife just under the membrane and over one of the rib bones.
From there, I used a papertowel to hold onto the membrane as I pulled it free and clear of the rack.
Next, I applied the rub. At first, I thought about making something Thai in the wok. However, after all of the barbeque talk from the weekend, I decided to blend the best of both worlds and do Asian on pork. That’s how I decided on an Asian rub. I have also been dying to try some Chinese five spice powder I have, so I pulled a rub from the new Weber charcoal cookbook.
For the sauce, I knew I wanted to do more than just dump some hoisin in a pre-made barbeque sauce. Fortunately, I found a great recipe over at Epicurious. It involved caramelizing sugar, and then adding a mix of hoisin, fish sauce, soy, honey, ginger, shallots, and rice vinegar.
Since I was short on time, I was unable to add smoke to the kettle. Unfortunately, not enough time to smoke some apple chips. With my ribs rubbed and at room temperature, I added them to my 250 degree kettle. The ribs cooked for about 2 1/2 hours. At that point, I started to baste them with the sauce. At 3 hours, the meat had pulled back from the bone enough…and I was hungry…so, I pulled them off.
The taste was extraordinary. I loved the sauce and I know I will use it again. Unfortunately, the rack was not as tender as I would have liked. I felt it was average. Nonetheless, the ribs, along with the red cabbage coleslaw I whipped up made for a nice meal. Oh, and I almost forgot. The star of the night was the jalapeno poppers! I saw this device in the latest Williams-Sonoma catalog that allows you to grill jalapenos vertically. Although the rack is cheap ($20….and I will probably still get one….lol. Come to think of it, I just watched their video. I like the grill tray too! Although, the grill chick is not doing it for me. They need to use that 650 a little more too. It looks too clean!), aluminum foil is even cheaper, and on hand. I stuffed some large peppers with cheddar and chives and ta da…Grilled poppers!
Monday, June 16, 2008
About a week ago, my good friend Jayme called up and asked if I wanted to become a certified barbeque judge. My obvious answer was of course, what time are you picking me up? So as fate should have it, Jayme, Mike and I headed down to the Kettering American Legion Post #598, on Father’s Day, to earn our official Kansas City Barbeque Society Judge certification.
KCBS is a 10,000 member organization that hosts over 300 BBQ competitions each year. The Legion, who is hosting the Ohio Vet BBQ Cookoff in July, hosted the judge certification program. Mike Lake, the President of KCBS, instructed the 4 1/2 hour class. Although seeing that we ate our way through that time, it is hard to use the words “instructed” and “class” mind you.
As potential judges, we learned all of the rules, regulations, and procedures. For instance: 6 pieces of meat, no pooling of sauces, and no red tipped lettuce as garnish. Jim Weaver (class organizer, BBQ competitor and team leader) and his team stayed up all night to prepare the chicken, ribs, pulled pork and brisket which we enjoyed. All of it was fabulous…and well judged of course!
The entire experience was a blast, and I am proud to now present myself as a Certified Barbeque Judge! Now, I just hope that I get to use it. Better yet, Mike and Jayme tend to think that we have a BBQ team in the making…only time will tell I suppose.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Photo by David Jones
It seems as though every weekend we end up listening to Virgin Radio over the Internet. Thank you Soundbridge. Virgin is by far our favorite radio station, as the mix they play is incredible. Coincidentally enough, they are covering this year’s Isle of Wight festival. Our trip home last year coincided with the festival, although we did not attend. Starting today at 4 PM, Virgin started a live broadcast with pre-recorded highlights. Today included Kaiser Chiefs & KT Tunstall, tomorrow has the Sex Pistols & Kate Nash and the last night includes Scouting for Girls and The Police among many others.
The festival is supposed to bring 55,000 people to an island of just over 125,000. If you get a chance, tune in. Oh, and for a local perspective, check out my friend Matt’s take on the conservation and impact of that many people to IOW.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Mega Donner Kabobs! Ever since our trip across the pond in 2006, I have had this thing for Donner Kabobs. Donner Kabobs are basically Gyros. After a night on the town in the states, you head to Denny’s or Waffle House. On the Isle of Wight, you head to a kabob house. Some time in the last year, I remembered seeing a recipe for gyros. However, I could not figure out where I saw it. It was not until I went through all of my grill books, twice, that I realized I didn’t see it in a book. I saw it on TV. It was from an episode of Good Eats.
So, armed with recipe in hand, I set out to recreate this delicious treat. The first problem I ran into last week was the availability of ground lamb. None of our butchers, or local groceries, had it in stock. It was not until I was not looking for it that I found it at Meijer, no less.
No problems there, although our food processor barely fit 2 pounds of ground lamb. I was a little bit more worried about grill day. As I have now come to realize, kabobs are basically meatloaf on a stick. I was not too sure how a mass of lambloaf was going to take a rotisserie spit, let alone a lazy spin on the grill. So, the moment of truth came and surprisingly, the lambloaf held fairly well.
I marched my prize to the grill, set it up on the 650 over a drip pan, and started the spin. The meat starts out on high for 15 minutes and then backs down to medium for another 20 minutes. I used the rotisserie burner for the first 5 minutes of the initial high period. I was still worried that the meat would fall off, and I figured the sooner the outside was browned the better off I would be.
A quick opening of the hood, reminded me of the smells in the kabob house on the island. In fact, the experience was incredibly similar, minus the Greek>English>American language barrier.
With the loaf topped out at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, I popped it off the rotisserie. I sliced it about as thin as I could, but was unable to get the small slices I really wanted. If you think “Mom’s Meatloaf”, you can imagine what it was like. (Ed. Note: By “Mom’s”, I don’t mean my Mom….just a generic version of what a Mom’s Meatloaf might be like)
Although my finish product was more of an “Adequate Donner Kabob” than a “Mega Donner Kabob”, it still hit the spot when served in a pita with tzatziki sauce. I’m sure I will try it again.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Rotisserie Chicken...on the kettle! Sunday was an easy, low key and hot day. So, I decided to rotisserie a chicken on the kettle. I think the 650's gas has made me lazy so I was kind of excited about going back to the kettle. It was almost old school and, It worked flawlessly.
I stuffed the cavity with fresh basil and lime and then used the same rub and sauce I used on the grilled wings earlier in the week.
She spun for about one and a half hours at a constant 350. During the last twenty minutes, I basted the skin with some of the Tamarind BBQ sauce. Wonderful.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
I really wanted to grill tonight and the only thing quick and different in the freezer was wings. I say different because of my idea for a rub and sauce. Using Ted Reader's book, I made up a Tandoori Rub that I used in conjunction with a Tamarind BBQ sauce. I have had a jar of tamarind in the cupboard for ever that I have been dying to use. Tonight was the night. The sauce was wonderfully sweet and a little tart. It had a half cup of brown sugar and a cup of honey after all. The whiskey was an interesting experiment, and not all bad...although maybe a little over done. Thankfully, I have 3 cups of sauce left that I can't wait to use. Too bad none of that pork is left over!
Oh, and the whiskey worked pretty good too.
Monday, June 02, 2008
As I continue to document my grilling exploits, I have realized the one thing I really need to improve is my note taking. I figure this is the best place as any to do it, so let's get started.
My process involves grilling a shoulder on a Weber Kettle. Although this is my preferred method, there are many others way to do it: a gas grill, a smoker, or even your oven. A cook can take all day, so plan ahead. I look at it as something to look forward to. Ask my wife, I was giddy all day in preparation!
I picked up a 7 pound Boston Butt from Sam's and then made a rub:
2 Tbls Dark Brown Sugar
2 Tbls Sweet Paprika
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic
1 Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp Ground Mustard
1/8 Tsp Celery Seed
1/2 Tsp Ancho Chili Powder
Rubs are like relatives, everyone has one. I threw this together recently, and it is still a work in progress. Use less, use more, use just salt & pepper...but use something.
With my butt resting at room temperature (for at least 30 minutes) and rubbed, it was time to set up the kettle. Awhile back, I made a modification for my kettle that involved cutting off one side of the grate to ease the process of adding coals or wood while cooking indirect. I have come to prefer my grate versus the hinged grates that come with most 22 1/2 Weber Kettles. The hinges are fidgety and when I open the kettle to drop something in, I want to be out fast. The cook takes long enough, I don't want to add to it.
A 7 pound pork shoulder is going to take around 8 hours. Since the key to cooking is "low and slow", I know the shoulder will be cooked at a low temperature, approximately 250 degrees, and until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 190 degrees. In order to keep the kettle temperature low, I am lighting my charcoal using a process known as the Minion Method. Although used primarily for the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, a modified minion method works great in a kettle too (Thanks to Dustin for turning me on to it!). The minion method has you place lit coals on top of unlit coals. The unlit coals slowly heat up as the lit coals push their heat "down" the stack. By using this process, I do not have to open the kettle lid every hour or so to add new, freshly lit, coals to keep the heat going. It works great.
Next to the unlit charcoal in the kettle, I placed a drip pan that I lined with aluminum foil and filled with a little bit of water (I didn't measure that...sorry). The water helps anything dripping off of the butt not to burn. On top of the unlit coals, I sprinkled a little bit of cherry wood chips that I had already soaked in water for an hour. I typically use apple or cherry wood chips when smoking. I have found their sweet flavor never really overpowers the meat, unlike mesquite...or a lot of hickory.
Since I was documenting this event, I decided to take a number of different temperature readings. In the past, I have almost always relied on the hood temperature. This time, I monitored not only the hood temp, but the ambient temperature outside the pork and the internal pork temperature. I will post those results later.
I placed the modified grate in place and oiled it down. Next, I tipped the lit coals on top of the unlit coals and followed that by dropping a handful of soaked cherry wood chips on to the pile. Now the key to regulating temperature control on the kettle is with the upper and lower vents. Starting out, I had the top vent open and the bottom vent only half open. In order to make things less confusing, I used a Sharpie to document where the open, half open and closed spots are (Thanks to Uncle Bob over at BBQ Source Forums for this great idea!). So, with the lid closed, I waited for the kettle temp to rise to 250 degrees. Once it did, I closed the bottom vent and placed the shoulder on the grate, over the drip pan. I then closed the lid and watched.
As I mentioned before, I typically used the hood thermometer to ballpark my target temp. This time, I used a digital thermometer to monitor everything. It was a lot easier just ballparking the hood temp. With a digital gauge I found myself constantly tweaking the top vent to maintain my temperature. Although it only swung no more than 10 degrees over or under 250, that accurate measurement drove me nuts. So, the day went on and I continued to document my thermal progress. I only opened the lid once around the 2 hour mark to toss in another handful of wood chips. Here are my findings:
Although I can pull the shoulder off the grill 5 hours into the cook, for the maximum pulled pork enjoyment of all that wonderful rendered fat, you need to take it all the way to 190. So, after enjoying a few good beers (which is also mandatory), the shoulder came off a little bit over 8 hours after starting. I checked the temperature again with an instant read thermometer and voila, I was set.
You can always tell you have grilled a successful shoulder when you are able to easily remove all of the meat in minutes and then leave behind...the shoulder!
For sauce, you can go north or south. In my case, I went both ways. I used a homemade ketchup based sauce from a few weeks ago. I have no clue as to what went into it. For a vinegar sauce, I used the surefire Hot Pepper Vinegar recipe from the Weber "Red Book".
Well that's how I do it. I'm not a Chef and the process certainly isn't perfect (well at least the beer drinking part is), but it works and most importantly, I have started writing down what I do besides just taking picture.