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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Ropas Viejas

Ropa vieja is beef cooked until it is tender enough to shred. The name actually translates as "old clothes" or "rags" - beef that is falling apart like worn clothes. This dish can be found as a staple in many countries in South and Central America. It's very economical because it uses a tough, inexpensive piece of meat.

Why do I begin a post with the definition of Ropa Vieja? Because that's what many people at my daughter's school's Halloween dance thought my pulled pork was. Until they tasted it. I must say myself, it came out great. It was more of a success with the adults then the children, with a few of them telling me that they ate 3 or 4 sandwiches of it. It just goes to show, Brooklyn people don't know barbeque. I must teach. I must inform. After all I took an oath as a certified barbeque judge to promote barbeque!

I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures. My digital camera is acting up lately, but Christmas is coming. Maybe Santa will be generous.

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Here's one of the butts off the smoker and on clean tin foil. MMM MMM good is all can say. Came up with a new injection recipe for these. I like it a lot. I may share it, or it may become a competition secret. We'll see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


Here's a picture of the pork butt cooking on one of my Weber Smokey Mountains. Unfortunately, you can't see the butt. But that's a good thing. One very common mistake of the beginner barbequer is to open the cooker too often. Every time you take the lid off, you extend the cooking time. It takes awhile for the cooker to return to temperature. The quick reader of the blog, will note that there's no smoke coming from the top vent. There is smoke, it's just hard to see. That, my friend, is what we call sweet blue. The fire of charcoal, hickory and cherry wood is burning, but all the impurities are gone so there's no thick white smoke. And no chance of the neighbors calling the fire department!

Here's another thing you should notice, I'm using a thermometer to measure the cooking temperature in the cooker. One of the most amazing things about a Weber Smokey Mountain is it's ability to maintain a steady temperature for long periods. It's been at 228 for about 4 hours. The 230 on the right, is my high point. The thermometer will alert me if the cooker gets to that temp. Man, I wish you could smell this.

In a future post, I'll explain how the WSM's work and walk you through an entire cook on one. Talk to you later.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Guess what I'm doing?

It's trimmed, injected, rubbed and sitting in the basement refrigerator. Tomorrow, I'm smoking! BBQ for my daughter's school's Halloween dance on Friday. C'mon down!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bob finishes making brisket. Finally. Sorta.

So it's about 7:00 in the morning. IN THE MORNING. Now, you may not understand that. I'm not a morning person. It's 7:00 IN THE MORNING and I've been up an hour. I'm the type that if I'm up at 7:00 in the morning, I haven't been to sleep yet. This brisket better be good.

Ok - 8 to 10 hours cook time. Dinner should be ready about 4:00 pm. The fire is at about 250 degrees and holding. I know this cause I use my hand to measure the temperature. Why buy a thermometer when you can use your hand? (C'mon, it works. I learned this in the boy scouts. It's one of the few useful things I remember, that and how to tie a clove hitch. Actually I learned many useful things - some I still use so often that I forget that I learned them in the scouts. And, if you have a son - get him in the scouts. They're a great organization. But back to barbeque, cause this blog is supposed to be about barbecue.)

I've got the fire going in my handy dandy Weber 22 1/2" kettle. My first one, it was red. It was great. I had that kettle for at least 10 years. I built an indirect fire using the fire baskets with a water pan down the middle. In the water pan was a can of beer. I don't remember the brand, but probably Bud Ice. I like Bud Ice - it's a bitch to find now. But I digress once again. I'm having a hard time focusing tonight. I bet you didn't notice.

So the brisket's in the cooker and I have the fire good and smokey, because on top of the charcoal I put a huge amount of soaked Jack Daniel barrel wood chips. I want to keep the smoke thick and white. The more smoke the better! Now living in Brooklyn, there's not much space between your house and your neighbor's house - so to be neighborly, I cook the brisket on the side of the house near the sidewalk. We live on a corner. Well, today the smoke is so thick that I can't see the top of the smoker or the stop sign at the corner! Perfect. Now this was a lot more smoke then I usually used, but I wanted this to be authentic barbeque and back in 1986 all the magazines and newspapers were saying that you needed thick smoke or it wasn't any good. And I wanted this good.

So what do I do? I go in and go to bed. I need some sleep. Remember? It's 7:00 in the morning and I'm not a morning person. I think I told you that. I lay down and fall asleep. About 30 minutes later I'm awoken to the sound of sirens. Yup - New York's bravest, the FDNY is about to descend on my Weber kettle! The whole house is now up with my wife's 80 year old aunt and uncle freaking out, half the neighbors and me in my bathrobe on the side lawn explaining to the firemen - that this fire isn't out of control or a danger to the neighborhood. Hell - I even show them the cookbook! See? Look! I'm making World-Championship brisket. I'm doing everything by the book! After about 15 minutes the men in blue decide that everything's OK but that I need to get dressed and stay outside and watch the fire.

So I get dressed. I sit outside watching the fire. Now, I love to barbeque. And I love to watch a fire. I can sit by a campfire or fireplace for hours. But have you ever watched a Weber Kettle? It's completely enclosed - all I can see is thick white smoke coming from the vents and from where the lid meets the base. This is not exactly what I would call entertainment!

So after about an hour of cooking, I take the lid off to check the meat. The rush of smoke is so thick that I can't see. I can't breathe and I fall back and drop the lid. After about 10 minutes with the lid off the smoke dies down and I can finally check the meat. It's covered in black soot. The wood chips have now completely burned off and I can see that I need to add more charcoal and wood chips. Don't I ever learn?

So I refuel the cooker and baste the meat with some BBQ sauce, probably Kraft or Open Pit. I put the cover back on and watch the smoke continue to rise. People wander by on the street and ask what's burning. Real funny. Not. This hourly routine continues till about noon, when my friends the fire department return. I couldn't believe it. Apparently one of my neighbors saw the smoke and called them. You would think that the neighbor would have left his/her house and checked on the fire, but no - no one came out this time. The funny thing about the FDNY is you don't always get the same house responding to fires. This was a whole new bunch of firemen that I had to contend with. I, once again explain that I'm making world championship brisket. See the book? At least this time I wasn't in my bathrobe, so I looked normal on the surface. Sort of anyway.

The basting, refueling the fire continues until our friends arrive at 5:00. Dinner was supposed to be ready at 4:00 - but the meat just wasn't feeling done. But at 5:00pm everyone was hungry. I cut a slice off one of the briskets - it was well done. It was that grey beef color so I took them off and sliced them. It smelled like smoke. I was happy.

But - did I let the meat rest before slicing? No. Like I said everyone was hungry. Was there any juice coming out of the meat? No. Was it edible? No. We went to Pizza Bowl that night.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The Jack

Well, the 2005 barbeque season is officially over. It was a great year for me and my team The Barbecue Brethren/Brothers In Smoke, but we'll be even hotter next year. I'm a bit disappointed that we were unable to keep to the original plan, but hey, next year's got to be better.

The Jack Daniel's World Championship is the last leg in the triple crown in the barbeque world and was held today. The first is Memphis In May, then the American Royal and finally The Jack.

Just got some of the Jack 2005 results! Congrats to all the winners and everyone who won the right to be there. But I really want to congratulate my friends from I Smell Smoke. Great guys and a great team. You can get to their website from the links to the right. It's such good news on a dark and stormy New York night.

Grand Champion - Boys From Tornado Alley
Reserve (AKA 2nd place)- Britt's BBQ
1st Chicken - Smoker's Wild
1st Ribs - I Smell Smoke
1st Pork - 4 Men & A Pig
1st Brisket - It Ain't Prime

I don't know where all the teams are from - but I SMELL SMOKE ain't nothing but a bunch of damn YANKEES! With this and the results of the AR - pretty soon them trophies are all gonna wind up north of the Mason-Dixon line! Watch out you rebels!

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bob makes Brisket

So let's finally talk about making brisket. Not just any ol' brisket but Willingham's World-Champion Brisket. Hell, if you're gonna start somewhere start at the top! This was in the summer of 1996. I had an awful job working as the desktop support manager for HarperCollins Publishers and by this time, I had been BBQing for at least 6 years. I had done chicken and I had done ribs, but I never attempted the crown jewel of the pitmaster's art - brisket. After picking up Willingham's book I decided to give it a try. The recipe didn't seem hard, but even if it was, I could do it.

So I invited our hillbilly friends, well at least as close to hillbilly as you can find living in Brooklyn, over for a dinner of BBQ brisket. The husband was an ex-marine and spent a lot of time in the south, so I figured I'd try it out on a BBQ "expert". Like I said, I was starting at the top, I wasn't gonna spend 10 hours cooking just to please the locals! I wanted someone who knew great barbecue as soon as he tasted it.

So the day before the planned dinner, I go searching the wilds of Waldbaum's for a brisket. 6 to 9 lbs please! I didn't know that supermarkets had different cuts of brisket. Sure I knew about corned beef and pastrami, but brisket? Is it like ordering a chicken? Give me a brisket and be done with it! Nope. Flat cut? First cut? Point? Oh - 6 to 9 lbs? You must want a whole brisket - that's a special order.

So I take what I can find. Three small pieces of flat brisket. In total they weighed 5 lbs. I get them home, marinate and rub and put them in the refrigerator over night. Don't rub meat in your bare hands. Paprika stains! Cayenne in you eyes hurts! But nowhere near as much as cayenne on your dick because you didn't wash your hands good enough. Trust me I know! In the morning - I get up at 6 am for this. And if you know me at all - you KNOW I don't get up at 6 for anything.

Everything's on the fire at about 7:00. Ok - 8 to 10 hours cook time, means dinner will be ready about 4:00 pm. Perfect our friends are supposed to show up around 3:00 in the afternoon. Everything's going to be great. Well it wasn't. I tell the rest of the story in my next post.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

World-Champion Brisket

As promised, here's Willingham's recipe for brisket as published in his cookbook John Willingham's World Champion Bar-B-Q....

"This recipe is for serious cookers only. The procedure is time consuming, no argument there, but if you follow the recipe exactly, you will finish in the top 10 percent in any brisket competition - unless the other guy uses the same recipe! In that case, presentation will be the winning factor because people eat with their eyes first. Taking the time to prepare this brisket proves the adage that anything worth doing is worth doing right. Remember to establish good steady heat inside the cooker. A cold brisket is a lot like a stubborn jackass, sometimes you have to hit el burro in the head with a two-by-four to get his attention. A brisket is the same about giving up its cold until it is overpowered by the initial and sustained heat that causes the pores to open, allowing the heat to escape rapidly. The most important thing to do after cooking and resting is to slice the meat across the grain into pieces about 1/4 inch thick.

Ingredients: 1 - 6 to 9 pound brisket with deckle. 1/2 cup All-Purpose Marinade - recipe below. 1/2 cup beer, cola or club soda. 3/4 cup Mild Seasoning mix - recipe below. 1/2 cup packed brown sugar.

Special Equipment: Stiff backed boning knife, sharpened. 1 roll 16 inch wide plastic wrap. 1 roll 18 inch wide aluminum foil. Meat thermometer. Long blade carving knife, sharpened. (Gee, he recommends using sharp knives. What a concept!)

Remove all the fat and sinew from the brisket, leaving 1/4 inch of fat extending from the top of the brisket point. Cutting at a right angle to the grain, trim the corner off the brisket point. This will serve as a guide later when it's time to slice the brisket. This will also be important should you decide the direction to cut prior to pulling the brisket. Rub the meat all over with the marinade and set aside, covered for 20 minutes in a cool place.

In a bowl, combine the beer or soda, seasoning mix and brown sugar. Rub the meat all over with the mixture, massaging it in with your finger tips. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and preferably for 24 hours.

Start the cooker, allowing it to reach a temperature of 250 degrees. Let the cooker remain at that temperature for at least 30 minutes to establish and ensure a uniform thermal intertia in the cooking tower or chamber. A brisket resists giving up its massive cold, so the fire must have a strong supply of base heat to overpower and then to draw the cold from the meat. Once the dominance of the fire is established, the brisket will become a willing part of the cooking process.

Cook the brisket for 8 to 10 hours, maintaining a cooking temperature of 210 degrees. The brisket is done when the internal temperature reaches 180 to 185 degrees and when a fork slides easily in and out of the meat. Remove the brisket from the cooker, and let rest for about 10 minutes. Wrap tightly in foil and pit in the cooler part of the cooking chamber where the temperature is approximately 150 degrees. Let it rest until you are ready to serve it, or for about 1 hour. Serve it sliced against the grain, basted with any accumulated juices.

Note: The brisket can rest in an insulated cooler that has been filled with very hot water, drained and dried. Cover the cooler with the brisket inside.

All Purpose Marinade: Combine all ingredients. 1 cup cider vinegar. 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, un strained. 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice. 2 or 3 thin slices lemon peel. 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar. 1 tablespoon lemon pepper. 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper. 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot pepper sauce. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

Mild Seasoning Mix: Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with lid. 1 tablespoon salt. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. 1 teaspoon lemon pepper. 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. 1 teaspoon chili powder. 1 teaspoon dry mustard. 1 teaspoon dark or light brown sugar. 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Pinch of cinnamon. Pinch of Accent or MSG."

This post is already too long. So I'll tell you about my experience cooking this in my next post.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Book Review: John Willingham's World Champion Bar-B-Q

John Willingham's World Champion Bar-B-Q
John Willingham
William Morrow and Company, Inc

I've been looking over some of my old cookbooks and just reread a classic. John Willingham's World Champion Bar-B-Q was published back in 1996 and I have a first edition of the book. This book is filled with authentic barbeque recipes and techniques. John Willingham was/is the holder of the most barbecue cooking awards and according to the William Morrow website: "John Willingham is the most acclaimed Bar-B-Q chef in the world. A Memphis native, he has created his own line of sauces, rubs, and marinades and invented the famous W'ham Turbo Cooker."

I highly recommend this book for anyone getting started in the world of barbeque. Some of his recipes and techniques will seem odd to a new chef, but trust me, he's on the money. He covers all the categories for a KCBS contest and provides easy and tasty recipes for appetizers to desserts.

If you would like to read his recipe for Jailbird Ribs, click here. In my next blog entry I'll talk about his recipe for championship brisket and my attempt to cook it.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Royal Results

Well folks, it looks like New York is finally getting some respect in the world of barbeque. Adam Perry Lang of Daisy May's BBQ took 1st place in the Invitational Pork category and Rob Richter of Big Island BBQ took 1st place in the Open Chicken category of the American Royal - the world series of BBQ!

Some background information, the Invitational portion of the Royal is open only to barbeque teams who have won a qualifying contest during the previous year. This year's invitational contest consisted of 81 teams - the best BBQ teams from across the world. I find it interesting that 241 teams qualified, but only 81 competed. Man, I want to be there next year. The open contest is just that, open to anyone who is willing to pay the entry fee. This year's open contest had 474 teams competing.

On a personal note, I'm sorry that I haven't been updating this blog as often as I said I would. I will be on schedule from now on. I've had some health issues hitting me hard the last couple of weeks which kept me flat on my back on a wrestling mat in the living room. But I'm back now and you'll be seeing some big changes in the weeks ahead.

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