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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.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

BBQ Recipes: Barbecued Ribs Elegante

This recipe cracks me up. "Barbecued Ribs Elegante" as if ribs and barbeque aren't elegant enough on their own! And as if this recipe has anything to do with the fire of low and slow barbecue. It always cracks me up and makes me a little sad when someone dumps a sweet ketchup based sauce on something and calls the resulting culinary bastard "barbecue." I was originally thinking of converting this recipe to a true barbeque experience, but there's so many things wrong with it that I just gave up.

Barbecued Ribs Elegante


  • 4 pounds pork spareribs
  • 1 cup catsup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Brown ribs in oven in covered roaster for 2 to 3 hours at 375 degrees or until tender. Remove ribs and place in 9x13-inch baking dish. Combine all other ingredients and cook for 5 minutes. Pour over ribs. Bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Baste often.

The author or this recipe is Carol Ehrecke of Blue Grass, Iowa and comes to us through our friends at Quad-Cities Online.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ultimate Backyard BBQ With Dolly Parton

Here's a once in a lifetime chance. Want to be the envy of the entire neighborhood? Purchase a copy of Dolly's Dixie Fixin's cookbook by Sept. 1 for a chance to win the ultimate backyard barbeque hosted by entertainment superstar Dolly Parton!

Anyone who purchases a copy of Dolly's Dixie Fixin's cookbook before Sept. 1 is automatically entered to win the ultimate backyard barbeque grand prize for 100 of the winner's family and friends. What makes this the ultimate backyard barbeque? Dolly Parton will perform a few songs, provide the barbeque and all the trimmings, pose for photographs, and host the event at the lucky winner's home.

Dolly's Dixie Fixin's is $27.50 (includes shipping and handling) and sold exclusively at Dollywood, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show locations in Pigeon Forge, Branson, Mo., and Myrtle Beach, S.C., and online at www.dollywood.com, www.dixiestampede.com, and www.imaginationlibrary.com.

Parton will announce the grand prize winner Sept. 15 at Dollywood to coincide with the launch of Dollywood's new Bluegrass & BBQ festival which begins that day. Deadline to purchase books to qualify for the grand prize is Sept. 1 at midnight. Cookbooks will be shipped in late September.

Dolly's Dixie Fixin's features more than 125 recipes, including many from Parton's personal collection of southern specialties like her popular banana pudding. Many of the recipes were passed down to Parton from her late mother, Avie Lee Parton, as well as several from her mother-in-law, "Mama (Ginny) Dean." Dolly's Dixie Fixin's also includes recipes from Parton's Dollywood Companies, including Dollywood family adventure park's Noodlin' Ned's Catfish and Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede Dinner and Show's one-of-a-kind cream of vegetable soup. Parton also includes recipes for dishes inspired by her favorite restaurants discovered during more than 40 years of touring.

Published by Penguin Group (USA), 100 percent of the proceeds from sales of Dolly's Dixie Fixin's will benefit Parton's Dollywood Foundation which sponsors the Imagination Library.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Social Networking

It's raining hard here today and I'm off to visit friends out on Long Island, so here's some new places on the web you should check out.......

The first is the rather sinister looking, but in actually very enjoyable, The BBQ Blog. The infamous Rev. Smoke of Astoria, Queens maintains this blog and it's become one of my reads. His team - the Better BBQ Bureau - won first place ribs at the KCBS sanctioned Hudson Valley Ribfest. He also cooks at the Burning Man Festivals. I can't wait to read his reports on that.

Another recent new find to me is Food Candy. Food Candy is one of my favorite social networking sites on the internet. What originally started out with Friendster, where people of all interests would congregate, has now morphed into specialty shops where only foodies go. A prime (see I had to get a meat term in here somewhere) example is Del.icio.us. Today, I just got an invite to another social network site, but this one is limited to lovers of the Q - Smokin' A Phattie. Next thing you know there will be sites limited to people who only use oak to cook. Whatever happened to simple internet forums like The BBQ-Brethren?

And one last recommendation for today. Another barbeque nut, and fellow KCBS Certified Barbecue Judge, Gary and his site, Pig Trip. Gary's looking to document and review every BBQ joint in "Boston, New York and everywhere in-between". He's got some solid reviews, even if I don't always agree with his conclusions. Take a look.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Following the recipe - Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins

I got home late last night and knew that I'd have to make dinner for myself. So I stopped in at Stop and Shop and picked up some Pillsbury Biscuit Dough and a pack of shredded cheddar cheese. On the subway home I decided - it was time to cook some Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins. Click on the link for the original recipe.

In the refrigerator at home I knew I had some leftover rib meat from a previous cook and with my newly acquired ingredients, I was all set. So I chopped up the rib meat, spread out the biscuit dough into the muffin pans, added the meat and a dollop of commercial BBQ sauce, topped them with the cheese and baked the biscuits until they reached culinary excellence.

These were incredibly easy to make. I felt like Sandra Lee - almost all the ingredients were store bought. I substituted a commercial barbecue sauce for the sauce that the original recipe calls for. I also didn't heat the meat or the sauce - it went into the biscuit dough cold. One bit of advice, roll out the dough as you need it. I kept fighting with the biscuit dough to retain it's shape as it sat in the muffin tins waiting for the meat.

Man these were good. I'm sorry there's no pictures, they went too fast.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

BBQ Games: Pass the Pigs

No, no, no, it's not what you think!

Pass the Pigs
is a great little game using pigs as dice. This very portable "beer & pretzels" game comes as a pocket travel case containing 2 pig dice, two pencils and a scoring booklet that also includes the scoring table. The pigs are actual pig miniatures, with a dot on their right flanks.

The object is to be the first to score 100 points using "pigs" as dice. On your turn, you throw the pigs and hope they end up in a scoring position such as a "snouter", "trotter" or "leaning jowler" (ranging in value from 1 to 60 points); if they do, you decide whether to "cash" the points (pass the pigs to the next player) or to roll again. If you roll a non-scorer ("pig out" --one pig on the right flank, the other on the left flank; a fairly frequent result), you lose any as-yet-uncashed points. If you throw an "oinker" (both pigs touch each other), you lose your entire accumulated score. If you throw a "piggyback" (one pig on top of the other), you're altogether eliminated!

It's a great game that I found by accident when my son was little. I was waiting on line at Toys R Us one Christmas season and saw this game in the impulse buy section of the line. (The impulse buy section? You know - the stuff that the store puts near the cash register. The stuff you'd never come into the store to buy. But it's the stuff you'd buy on a whim.) I still needed some stocking stuffers and it fit the bill nicely.

We played this game for months. When the kids were asleep we played this game, albeit with altered rules more suited for an adult audience, but still we played this game. Alas, after awhile, Pass the Pigs lost it's allure and was regulated to the closet with the likes of Risk, Monopoly and Uno.

Last week, I realized that I hadn't been in Toy R US in about two years. I thought I'd check it out and see what's new in the world of toys. What did I find? Pass the Pigs -- it's back again. I missed my little piggies. We're hooked!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

BBQ Events: Shh, it's a secret

Last night was one of those nights when New York City hits you upside the head and you realize that there's nowhere else in the world you'd want to live. I've had many an experience in my 44 years, but last night was the first time I've ever experienced the New York City Skyline from the vents of a porta-potty.

And the food - just outstanding. Grilled House-Smoked Berkshire Bacon Steaks picked right off the grill, a Pulled Pork Trio: Traditional Pulled Pork, Hot Chili Oil Pulled Pork and Porky Pork with Pork Sauce, Deckle Trio: Smoked Brisket with Marrow Jus, Malaysian "Fatty Brisket," and Rick Schmidt-Style Brisket, Five-Spice Short Ribs, Turmeric-Glazed Breast of Lamb, East Village Links, Pork Tacos and the incredible Hamburgers.

Discretion being the better part of valor, I didn't take any pictures, nor will I reveal who attended this soirée.

Thank you and Happy Birthday, my friend. And Pass the Pigs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

BBQ Contests: Hudson Valley RibFest - The Results

I'm sorry that I haven't posted for the last two days. Sometimes life just gets in the way.

On Sunday, I spent the day up at the Hudson Valley RibFest in New Paltz, New York. For a myriad of reasons, I was unable to cook at this event, so I judged. I'll talk more about my judging experiences later in the week.

This event is easily the best event in New York State that I've attended. (I've never been to Lake Placid or to Clarence.) It's in a great location. The venue is beautiful; just look at the view from the fields were the contest was held. The bathrooms are inside buildings, manned and cleaned and the organizers go out of their way to help the teams and the judges.

Here's a list of the winners of the Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned event. I'll post the winners of the grilling contest later in the week.

KCBS Barbeque Contest the Top 10 (42 teams)

Daisy May's BBQ - Total Score 634.8574
Hill Country BBQ
I Smell Smoke
Purple Turtle Catering Co.
3 Beer Guts and a Longhorn
Dirty Dick & The Legless Wonders
Bad Bones BBQ Crew
Hog Heaven BBQ
Vinegar Hill BBQ
Fat Boys BBQ

Top 5 by Category

Big Dog Barbeque
Somekin' Dudes Barbeque
Dirty Dick & the Legless Wonders
Cork n Pork

Better BBQ Bureau
Purple Turtle Catering Co.
Vinegar Hill BBQ
Hill Country BBQ
I Smell Smoke

Dirty Dick & The Legless Wonders
3 Beer Guts & a Longhorn
Bad Bones BBQ Crew
Purple Turtle Catering Co.
Fat Boys BBQ

Daisy Mays
I Smell Smoke
Yankee BBQ
Smoke on the Water
Hill Country Barbeque

Saturday, August 19, 2006

BBQ Recipes: Big Bob Gibson's White Barbecue Sauce

Here it is, Big Bob Gibson's recipe for his infamous White Barbeque Sauce. This recipe has been published for years on the internet, but I trust that this one is the real thing. This is the version as published by Mike Mills in the fantastic book, Peace, Love and Barbeque. Enjoy.

Big Bob Gibson's Hickory-Smoked Chicken
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, finely ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 whole chicken, cut in half
  • Finely ground kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
To prepare the sauce: Combine all the first six ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in an airtight container or bottle and refrigerate until you're ready to use. Keeps up to 4 days.

To prepare the chicken: Wash the chicken and season it liberally with salt and pepper. Smoke over hot coals and hickory wood at 300 to 350 degrees for 3 to 4 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Halfway through the smoking process, baste the chicken with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper once more.

After you take the chicken off the pit, immediately place it in the bowl of white sauce, turning the chicken to coat evenly. Place the chicken on a cake rack and allow it to rest for a few minutes prior to serving. Discard any sauce that you've used for coating chicken.

Serves 2 to 4

Friday, August 18, 2006

BBQ Recipes: Alabama White Chicken

Here's something different to try out this weekend, White Barbecue Sauce. I found this recipe on the web and it's worth trying out. Tomorrow I'll post the original recipe from Big Bob Gibson's. Enjoy.

Alabama-style barbecue uses a mayonnaise-vinegar sauce
By Jill Wendholt Silva McClatchy Newspapers

In the Midwest, barbecue sauce is red, but in northern Alabama, white sauce rules.

Barbecue lore offers this nugget : In 1925, a 6-foot-4-inch, 300-pound railroad worker-turned pitmaster named Big Bob Gibson from Decatur, Ala., began using a rather thin vinegar-mayonnaise sauce flecked with black pepper to marinate his chicken.

Today his offspring carry on the white sauce tradition at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurants. According to the restaurant’s Web site, whole chickens are split, seasoned and laid open on the hickory-smoke pit to cook at 350 degrees for 3/2 hours.

Just before serving, the birds get a dip in a vat of white sauce.

“I thought it would have a more mayonnaise-y accent, but the first thing I think of is vinegary,” says Ardie Davis, a Kansas City-based barbecue sauce expert and author of The Great BBQ Sauce Book (Ten Speed Press).

“It’s also good on pork because it complements the natural sweetness of the meat. What I regret is in Kansas City you just can’t go to the store and buy it.”

Order a case of Big Bob’s White Sauce off the Internet and it will set you back $30, plus shipping and handling. But if you’re not sure you’re ready to wholesale switch from red to white, our recipe for Grilled Chicken With Alabama White Sauce lets you make a homemade version - one that will also save on fat and calories.

In recent years, several recipes for Big Bob Gibson’s White Sauce have been published. One that appears on the Food Network website includes horseradish and ground red pepper (cayenne).

Our version applies a dry rub that includes chili powder and paprika, and instead of slow cooking a whole bird, we opted for boneless, skinless chicken breast on the grill, which cuts down on cooking time.

Grilled Chicken With Alabama White Sauce
  • 1 /4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 /2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 /4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Dash salt
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 /2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 /3 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • Dash hot pepper sauce
  • Dash salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
To make the chicken: Combine garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and a dash of salt. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry; rub seasoning mixture evenly over both sides of chicken.

Heat grill or let coals burn down to white ash. Grill chicken 9 to 12 minutes, until fully cooked and meat thermometer registers 170 degrees, turning midway through cooking.

To make the sauce: Combine all ingredients and whisk until smooth. Serve sauce spooned over grilled chicken or serve as a dipping sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

BBQ Contests: Hamilton NJ Septemberfest

Another barbecue contest in the tri-state area? What do you think this is Kansas City? They way things are going, we're going to give them a run for the money!

Yes folks, on Sunday, September 10, 2006, Hamilton Township in New Jersey will be hosting it's annual Septemberfest. While their website is a bit confusing and it's hard to find even basic information about the event, including the date, I have been informed that this event will hold a couple of different cooking contests.

First there will be a baking contest open to all ages and the food does not need to be cooked on site. Top prize in this event is $100.

But for the rest of us there is the Backyard Rib Cook-off contest. Top prize for this contest is $1,000 with a trophy, 2nd is $500 and a trophy, 3rd place will receive a trophy and $250. Each team will also receive participation ribbons and a plaque and $50.00 will be awarded to the team with the best decorated area.

This contest is not KCBS or NEBS sanctioned, but it sounds like it will be a fun time. The rules for the barbeque event seem to be a mixture of KCBS standards and Memphis In May's rules. That should make things interesting. I'm going to try and get there either as a judge or as a cook.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Book Review: How to Grill

How to Grill - The Complete Illustrated Book of Barbecue Techniques
Steven Raichlen
2001 - Workman Publishing

OK. I admit it. I'm a barbeque snob. I know the difference between barbecue and grilling. I know what it means to barbeque, to hot smoke, to cold smoke and to grill. And I take those definitions seriously. Probably a little too seriously.

Because of my self admitted snobbery and preference for barbecue over the more plebian art of grilling, I usually don't pay attention to "grilling" cookbooks. I've been known to dismiss them simply because the word "grilling" was on the cover.

Only recently have I come around and loosened my snobbery and begun to seriously read the grill cookbooks. So you need forgive me that this review is so late. "How to Grill" was published way back in 2001. I picked up "How to Grill" the other day at my first visit to the Christmas Tree Shops, along with some other cookbooks that I'll review later. I only paid $5.99 for this beautifully illustrated book.

This is a great book for the beginning griller. It has tons of recipes all fully illustrated with some amazing color pictures. One of my favorite picture series is on steaks. Most, if not all, of the popular cuts of steak are shown in full color. And it has photographs explaining the poke test. What's the poke test you say? It's a way to tell how done you steak is by poking it with your finger. Who needs thermometers?

The book covers everything from appetizers to desserts. Steaks, burgers, hot dogs, chicken, pizza; you name it, if it can be cooked on a grill Mr. Raichlen has provided a recipe for it.

"How to Grill" also strongly focuses on cooking with charcoal. Most recipes include instructions on how to properly build a charcoal fire for cooking. This alone has won this book a place in my heart.

I strongly recommend this book, especially at the amazing discount price of $5.99 for the beginning griller. Experienced cooks can even pick up some new tricks and inspirations. I know I learned a few things in the section on how to grill a whole lamb.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

BBQ Contests: Hudson Valley Rib Festival

I hate when this happens.

Two worthy barbeque events on the same day. I already told you about the Hudson River Park's Barbeque & Blues taking place on Sunday and it should be a great time. I wish I could be there.

But if you're looking to check out a real honest to goodness KCBS state championship, and don't feel like being in the city this weekend check out the Hudson Valley Rib Festival in New Paltz. For me, it's a no brainer. I'd rather be at a cooking contest any day.

The Rib Fest begins on Friday, August 18th (4pm-11pm) and will be featuring the band, "Hot Rod." The Rib Fest is open August 18th (4pm-11pm), August 19th (11am-11pm) and August 20th (11am-4pm.)

There will be a NEBS sanctioned grilling contest on Saturday with cooks competing for the best in grilled Fish, Sausage, Pork Chop and Beef Steak. In addition to the grilling contest, on Sunday, there will be the KCBS sanctioned event with cooks Q-ing Ribs, Chicken, Pork Butt and Beef Brisket. I'll be up in the judges tent for the KCBS event.

In addition to the cooking contests there will be entertainment:

The Bands:
7-10PM HOT ROD (oldies)


11:00A -12:30P Git Fiddle (Country)
1:00P-2:00P Hot Diggity Dog (childrens)
2:00-5:00P Off Hour Rockers (Rock)
6:00-10:00P Touch of Rhythm (Pop)


12:00-3:30P Chain Gang (Rock)

And Cooking demonstrations:

12:00 “Handling the Finest Butts in Town - Jack McDavid / Jack'’s Firehouse Restaurant
1:00 The Dudes ’ Rockin’ Ribs ”- Tom Christine / Smokin'’ Dudes
2:00 “Banging Briskets!! - The REAL Cowboy Food- Mark Elia/ Elia'’s Texasconnection
3:00 The NEBS Grilling Awards
4:00 “The Best Ribs Ever! - Will Breakstone / I Like Smoke-n-lightning

12:00 Jammin Jerk Chicken - Big Moe's M&M
1:00 “BBQ Side Dishes - Mark Slutzky / Hickory House BBQ Restaurant
2:00 TBA
3:00 KCBS Contest Awards

Last year's event was one of the best in the North East. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The Rotary and Mike Flick are great hosts. The fair grounds are beautiful. And they have a swimming pool open for our use. What could be better?

Monday, August 14, 2006

BBQ Events: Blues & Barbeque

What are you doing this weekend? Staying in New York City? Why not check out some of the best Blues bands around and feast on some barbecue. This should be a great experience. There's some new pitmasters for me to meet and try out. I've been to Dinosaur and Brother Jimmy's, and I'm really looking forward to trying out Dallas Jones and Rack & Soul.

Blues and Barbeque takes place on Sunday August 20th, from 2:00pm until 9:00pm on Manhattan's Pier 54 at the end of West 14th Street and the West Side Highway.

This year’s 7th Annual Blues and BBQ Festival promises to be better than ever featuring the hottest blues artists from around the country and New York’s best BBQ. Sit back and chill at New York City’s premiere waterfront venue while you listen to the blues and amazing local BBQ restaurants fire up their grills and prepare their specialties. Come on down and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of this premier Hudson River Park event.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

BBQ Recipes: Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins

RSS feeds are a wonderful thing. This recipe from Quad Cities Online hit my mailbox this morning and I thought I'd share. While I made one slight modification, and made it a much more authentic barbeque recipe, I think these could be really good. I'm going to make them the next time I have some left over pork or brisket.

Farmhouse Barbecue Muffins


  • 1 tube (10 ounces) refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 pound leftover pulled pork or shredded barbecue brisket. (The original recipe calls for ground beef)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

Separate dough into 10 biscuits; flatten into 5-inch circles. Press each into the bottom and up the sides of a greased muffin cup; set aside. In a skillet, brown ground beef; drain. In a small bowl, mix ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar and chili powder; stir until smooth. Add to meat and mix well. Divide the meat mixture among biscuit-lined muffin cups, using about 1/4 cup for each. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from tin and serving. Yield: 10 servings.

The author for this recipe is Laura Runco of Davenport

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Barbecue Odyssey

I found this interesting article in the Edmonton Journal. Enjoy.

Barbecue Odyssey
It's not tool use that defines man, it's what we do with fire

Marty Chan

Friday, August 11, 2006

Beer-can chicken is just a beginner dish for the true barbecue chef, as opposed to the simple-minded griller.

Summer brings out the domesticated caveman in me. I cook over fire, provided that the flames are contained within my propane grill. At the start of every summer, I approach my barbecue monolith with the same curiosity and trepidation as the hairy extras in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The kettledrum roll from Also Sprach Zarathustra pounds in my ears as I crack open the black hood and officially fire up barbecue season.

When I say barbecue I mean barbecue. I don't grill. That's for beginners. On the evolutionary scale grilling is Australopithecus; barbecue is Cro-Magnon Man. If you don't know the difference then you're probably still dragging your knuckles. The easiest way to spot grilled meat is to look for criss-crossing char marks. A backyard cook will grill steaks, burgers and hot dogs directly over high heat which produces the char marks, while a pit master will use low and indirect heat to barbecue pork ribs, beef roasts and whole chickens.

I have nothing against grillers, but I do have a problem with people who mistake grilling for barbecuing. Just because I doodle on a notepad doesn't mean I can compare myself to Da Vinci (who would have invented the barbecue if he wasn't so busy painting the Mona Lisa, inventing the parachute and creating conspiracy theories). When summer cooks lay claim to the art of barbecue, I want to scream, especially when they treat hamburgers like remote controls.

Last summer, I attended a barbecue party and watched in horror as an attention-deficit griller constantly flipped a hamburger patty until it was as overdone as a Seinfeld rerun. The cook squished the next patty under his spatula to speed things up. He was completely oblivious to the fact that the sizzling sound on the grill was the burger's death scream as all its flavour dripped away. I wanted to yell, "Put the spatula down and step away from the barbecue!"

Instead I bit my tongue, smiled politely and told the cook that the grilled shoe leather he called a hamburger tasted delicious, right before I "accidentally" dropped it into his golden retriever's mouth.

I'm no barbecue expert, but I know my way around the grill, thanks to BBQU -- Steven Raichlen's Barbecue University. I watched his cooking show and studied his books until I felt comfortable enough to attempt my first authentic barbecue: beer-can chicken. This recipe required a whole chicken to be stuffed with a half-full can of beer (I made sure they were on a first name basis first). While the cooking process was vulgar, the results were heavenly. The beer steamed the chicken from the inside out, and the barbecue cooked the skin to a golden crisp. My guests raved about the moist meat and the smoky flavour.

This early success fanned the flames of my barbecue passion. My next dish, pulled pork, was so tender that I could shred the pork shoulder with a plastic spoon, and the meat was even moister than the beer-can chicken. However, like a rock band, I was only as good as my last dish. I had to cook something new and exciting before I became the Blind Melon of barbecue.

I had heard about smoked baby back ribs that were so tender that the meat fell off the bone. Professional pit masters with smokers created these legendary racks of ribs, relying on charcoal briquettes, hickory wood chips and pure instinct. This was my next evolutionary step; my chance to walk erect with Smoking Barbecue Man.

I bought a backyard smoker, a barrel-shaped unit with a firebox attached to one side.

Because I had to shovel charcoal into the firebox like a steamship engineer, I nicknamed my smoker Li'l Joe (I rejected the name Hal in case the smoker became self-aware and tried to kill me).

My mentor, Steven Raichlen, advised in his book to use a charcoal chimney to light the coals.

I had a better plan -- a firebox sandwich with newspapers as the bread and charcoal briquettes as the filling. This would get my smoker up to the right temperature in no time.

Over the next few hours, I fed Li'l Joe a steady diet of briquettes, newspapers and wood chips.

Every time the temperature dropped, I stoked the firebox and every time the smoker got too hot, I closed the baffles.

All the while Li'l Joe puffed like a steamboat headed for flavour country.

Unfortunately, flavour country shared the border with my open screen door. Li'l Joe set off the smoke detector.

I assured my wife that smoked ribs were worth the trouble as we reset the detector. When I got back to Li'l Joe, he had gone as cold as my wife's reaction to my new smoking habit. I added more briquettes but decided to forgo the smoke until I closed the back door.

A 10-pound bag of briquettes, a box of wood chips and a week's worth of newspapers later my ribs were done. My wife sliced off an end piece and claimed the meat was tough. I explained that the end piece was too close to the firebox. However, the rest of the rack was tougher to hack through than a Costa Rican jungle. I wouldn't admit failure until I tasted the ribs.

My first bite told the tale. I felt like I had chomped into a cigarette and pork fat spring roll. Radical temperature changes and excess ash were not part of recipe.

If Steven Raichlen tasted these ribs, he'd boot me out of BBQU.

The ribs went into the garbage and I went into the bathtub, where I washed off the stink of smoke and failure.

Ironically, with the house smelling like a forest fire, my wife and I were forced to eat at a burger joint. The cook flipped my burger a thousand times before he squished the remaining juice out of the patty.

Still, the burger tasted better than the crow I had just eaten.

Playwright and author Marty Chan recently launched his new kids' book, The Mystery of the Graffiti Ghoul.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The other white meat

Did you miss me? I missed all of you. I'm back now and look what I found in my inbox...

"Dear Heritage Foods USA Supporter,

In a recent article, food journalists Matt and Ted Lee said that pork neck is going to be the next big thing. It is a food they say that exudes taste, even more than the most succulent chicken wing. Well, today we are offering pork neck for sale so that you can be at the forefront of this culinary trend! We have been selling our neck wholesale, wondering what chefs were using it for. Now we know, this might just be the tastiest part of the pig. The neck has great connective tissue and a lot of cartilage that makes any sauce or casserole perfectly thick, rich and flavorful.
Below is a pork neck recipe from one of the great meat curers in the USA: Taylor Boetticher from the Fatted Calf in Berkeley and San Francisco, CA. Taylor runs his entire meat curing program on heritage pork. His products are absolutely delicious: www.fattedcalf.com."

Pig necks? I'm gonna have to try them. In case you're wondering how to cook Pork Necks, here's a recipe....

Spicy Pork Neck Ragu from Taylor at Fatted Calf in CA

  • 5 lbs. of pork necks
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 10 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
  • 3 cayenne peppers, stems removed
  • 1 cup of crisp white wine, unsoaked (Lenn Devours - please help - what is unsoaked wine?)
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 lbs. of roma or early girl tomatoes, cored and cut into quarters

Salt pork necks liberally. Preheat thick bottomed saucepot and slowly brown pork necks with a small amount of olive oil - do this in batches if necessary. It is important not to overcrowd the pot. Remove the necks to a tray and keep aside. Once all the necks are browned, slowly sauté the garlic just until soft. At the last minute, stir in the cayenne peppers just to mix them around with the garlic. Deglaze with the white wine, making sure to scrape off all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by half, add the chopped tomatoes, basil leaves, and dried oregano. Simmer the sauce for 25 minutes. Blend sauce on high speed with an immersion blender or in batches in a tabletop blender. Bring the sauce up to a low simmer, and add the pork necks back into the sauce.

Simmer over a very low flame for another three hours, stirring occasionally. When the meat on the pork necks is tender, remove from the sauce and let cool slightly. If the sauce is too thin at this point, turn up to a brisk simmer to reduce to desired consistency. Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust accordingly.

When the pork is cool enough to handle, pick out the meat from in between the bones and fold back into the sauce. Use to dress bucatini, penne, or spaghetti and dust with plenty of Pecorino Romano and fresh oregano.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


Being a poor working middle aged man, I don't hit the fancy New York restaurants. I don't go to Cafe Grey, Per Se, or any of the super fancy and expensive places that you hear so much about and claim to be the heart of New York eating. I don't believe it. I think that the heart of New York are the small mid-priced restaurants and the soul is still the "mom and pop" places like Di Fara.

I've decided to start telling you about some of the places where the working folk eat in New York. So every once in a while, I'll be posting reviews about the non-barbeque restaurants as I come across them.

First up is Pita Grill. Now Pita Grill doesn't qualify as a "mom and pop" place as they have 7 places in New York and one in Hoboken, but I love this place. My favorite item on the menu is the goat cheese salad with grilled chicken. They have some great sandwiches and appetizers and a large vegetarian selection, if you're into that craze. It certainly lives up to it's slogan of "Positively Healthy Food." I haven't been to all of their locations, but visits to both the Upper West Side and the 2nd Avenue locations were great. I highly recommend it.

Pita Grill 77 on Urbanspoon

Next, there's EJ's Luncheonette. I don't know what to tell you about EJ's. I've been there before and loved it. But my last couple of visits I left feeling a bit a ripped off. I went into EJ's on the Upper West Side for lunch yesterday and ordered French Toast with a side of sausage and a glass of ice tea. The bill was just under $13. For that I got two slices of hallah bread that were sliced diagonally to appear as 4, a small orange wedge for garnish and 3 small but tasty sausages. The ice tea was made fresh, but the waitress seemed put off when I asked for more ice as it had all melted. I just don't know what's happened to this place.

Ej's Luncheonette on Urbanspoon

And finally, Hope & Anchor Diner out in Red Hook, Brooklyn. According to their website Hope & Anchor is a "friendly little diner," and it lives up to its hype. Breakfast is served all day and night, but they're not limited to the tried and tired diner food that you find all over NY. Try the BBQ Ham and Scallion Hash, the Pork Burger or the Curry Duck. You won't be disappointed.

Hope & Anchor on Urbanspoon

I won't be on the computer for a couple of days; we're taking a road trip up to Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts this weekend. I'll talk to you soon.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BBQ Recipes: Jack's BBQ Chicken

It's too hot to do anything around here. So here's a recipe off the Food Network for Jack's Old South barbeque chicken. With the exception of cooking this in the oven, it looks like a great recipe. If it produces chicken anything like Myron Mixon's recipes, you know it's damn good. Check out the disclaimer from the Food Network people at the end.

Jack's BBQ Chicken

4 (3 to 4-pound) chickens, halved
Jack's Old South Meat Marinade, recipe follows
1 cup apple juice
Jack's Old South BBQ Rub, recipe follows
Jack's Old South Competition Vinegar Sauce, see recipe
Combine the chicken and marinade in a large non-reactive pan. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 6.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and coat generously with some of the rub. Arrange the chicken, skin side-up, in a baking pan and pour the apple juice in the bottom. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Uncover the chicken and continue roasting, basting with the sauce occasionally, until the skin is golden.

Jack's Old South Meat Marinade:
2 quarts apple juice
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup orange juice
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup salt

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk until the sugar and salt dissolve. Let cool.

Yield: 12 1/2 cups

Jack's Old South BBQ Rub:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil

Combine all ingredients and mix well.

Yield: 3/4 cup

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

BBQ Media: It's all the rage!

Some interesting tidbits in the media today. First the dangers of BBQ!

Magazine reports on Daily Dangers in USA

The AARP July 2006 issue reported the frequency of injuries occurring in the USA
as follows:

Brushing your teeth or gargling

Stapling paper
Riding a stationary bike

And a shoutout from the fine folks at Edible Brooklyn. Here's a great article by Rachel Wharton on the joys of Grilling in Brooklyn.

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