Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Monday, January 30, 2006
BBQ Burn Out Monday #2 - The Beatles
Welcome to BBQ Burn Out Monday #2 - featuring the greatest band of all time; The Beatles. It was 37 years ago today that The Beatles played their last public performance. On the rooftop of Apple, un-announced and unseen, The Beatles played their swan song to the world. If you want to hear some of this great music, purchase the Let It Be CD. This 42 minute appearance comprises most of the CD. The Beatles are long gone, but they've never been replaced. They're still the greatest band in rock and roll history.
If you haven't done so yet, check out my guest blogging appearance on Chef Michele's blog, Chef Michele's Adventures. Tomorrow we'll get back to barbeque.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Well, the arsenal's just been expanded. I now have a ceramic cooker. That makes a lot of cooking equipment to be stored in the garage. Who will become my favorite?
Way back in December, I found an ad for a BBQ smoker/Hibachi on Craig's List. The budget didn't allow my purchasing the smoker then, but that was in the past. The wife, God bless her, told me to go ahead and buy it. Looking at the original pictures, I was convinced it was an older model Big Green Egg. Turns out I was wrong. It's not a Big Green Egg at all, but and Imperial Kamado cooker that was built sometime in the 1960s!
Big Green Eggs and Kamado cookers are clay or ceramic based cookers that are used extensively in Japan. From what I understand, these cookers are extremely efficient and allow an incredible level of heat control.
As you can see in the pictures it's never been used. All the original parts are still there. Now I just have to figure out how it all works. I can't wait to use it. You know you'll be seeing more pictures and comments when I start to use it.
There's a whole new group of barbeque-rs that I'll be communicating with. If you're interested in the Kamado cookers, check out their user forum here. The Big Green Egg folks, have their own as well, and since this design is very similar to the egg, I'm going to be seeking advice from those folks too. You can hook up with them here.
On a side note, I'm sleeping over at my friend Chef Michele's house tomorrow in my first ever appearance as a guest blogger. Take a look at my treatise on living "high on the hog". Michele's blog is one of my favorites and contains all sorts of recipes and tips on being a frugal gourmet. Unfortunately, her blog is a little lite in the smoke department, but I guess that's gonna change -- WhiteTrash is in the house!
Friday, January 27, 2006
Put The Money Down
Well, it looks like my adversary has surfaced early and has been defeated quickly so I can enjoy the weekend in peace. Tomorrow, I'll be investigating a possible new addition to my cooking collection. I hope it works out, it's been a long time coming. Tomorrow night we're attending a wedding, so I probably won't be blogging much this weekend. But here's a picture of a chopped barbecue brisket sandwich courtesy of city market to keep you focused on the Q. Talk to you Sunday.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Here comes that sinking feeling
Do any of you believe in your horoscopes? I don't, but I read them everyday.
I usually read 2 or 3 newspapers and a magazine a day, so I see a lot of contradictory information in the news, in the reviews and in the horoscopes. But not today. According to every one I've read, my sign is headed into a major cosmic battle with Saturn which will mean my life will be thrown into turmoil for the next couple of days.
Please forgive me if I don't post anything, I may be too busy being angry at the world. Or too busy taking my foot out of my mouth. I'll talk to you soon.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
I got tagged a long time ago
Way back at the beginning of the month I was tagged by my friend Neil over at The Survival Gourmet. Tagging is the new cool blogosphere version of a chain letter. So here are my answers...
Four jobs you had in your life:
2. Cab Driver
3. Stock Boy
4. Suicide Hotline Worker (This was volunteer)
Four movies you'd watch over and over:
2. Gone with the Wind (How I love Vivian Leigh!)
4. A Christmas Story
Four places you have lived:
1. Brentwood, NY
2. Garden City, NY
3. Hoboken, NJ
4. Jersey City, NJ
Four TV shows you love to watch:
1. Family Guy
3. Good Eats
4. The Sopranos (OK it's not on right now, but I still watch the reruns.)
Four places you have been on vacation:
Four websites you visit daily: (This is hard)
1. The BBQ-Brethren
2. Yahoo Web Mail
4. The Drudge Report
Four of your favorite foods: (This is really hard)
1. Grilled chicken with lots of barbeque sauce
2. Open face burnt cheddar cheese sandwiches
3. Tomato soup
4. Diet Coke
Four places you would rather be right now:
2. Working a barbecue cooker
3. Eating at a top NYC restaurant
4. In a steam room
Four bloggers you are tagging:
None - I let this go too long and all my blogging friends have been tagged. Looks like I'm inviting the blogosphere gods to come get me. Be gentle.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
Happy Birthday to one of mankind's greatest inventions, canned beer. The first canned beer was released today, January 24, 1935 in Richmond, Virginia. It was Krueger's Ale and Krueger's Beer.
Now I know beer isn't barbecue, but it certainly plays a large role at every backyard gathering and competition. The BBQ world would be greatly changed if there was no canned beer.
Happy Birthday, you little 12oz package of fun!
The image is courtesy of Rusty Cans. Rusty Cans is a very interesting website on collecting, trading, storing, and the history of beer cans. It's good to see someone as dedicated to beer can collecting as I am to Barbeque. Take some time and check it out.
Monday, January 23, 2006
BBQ Burn Out Monday
Welcome to the first issue of BBQ Burn Out Monday.
Every Monday on this blog there will be a post about a topic other than barbeque. Easy folks, I hear the gasps and groans coming from the crowd, but let's face it, it's hard to write about barbecue all the time. As much as I love to Q, life and the weather often get in the way. This blog will always be focused on the world of barbeque, but life is more than "low and slow. "
So starting today, I'm stealing an idea from my friend at SweetNick's and creating a weekly event, BBQ Burn Out Monday. On BBOM, I'll be asking guest bloggers to join us. Most guest bloggers will be foodies like me, but I won't be limiting the guests to food. The only criteria for BBOM is that the post topic will not be directly related to BBQ. Sometimes, I'll write BBOM, but I will try to find the most interesting and creative guest bloggers for your enjoyment.
So for the first BBQ Burn Out Monday take a gander at a new service provided by the City of New York; on-line restaurant inspection reports. Every restaurant and bar's last inspection is available for you to review. But be warned, you may be shocked by what violations are found even when a restaurant has passed inspection. It could turn your stomach.
These reports are created by The Department of health and Mental Hygiene. That's an interesting name for the Health Department. I guess by Mental Hygiene, they mean more than keeping a clean mind!
Sunday, January 22, 2006
I just spent another Sunday working in the kitchen of The St. Mark Sports Association. I smell like a deep friar. Yuck. I spent Saturday working in the Bronx, building furniture and cleaning out old closets while the Long Island contingent of the Barbecue Brethren were forcing young unsuspecting Hooter's girls out of their tops.
Thursday night was a clandestine meeting and planning session with Rob Richter of the American Royal winning BBQ team, Big Island BBQ - who doesn't have a website - and my friend Matt of The Hampton Smoker Blog. We held this dimly lit session with much beer spilled at RUB AKA Righteous Urban Barbeque. For now, the fruits of our discussions must remain secret, but all will be revealed soon.
On the blog front, you'll be seeing some new features starting in February. No smoke for this boy this weekend, but I'll talk to you soon.
Friday, January 20, 2006
3 racks 3 rubs 3 steps 3 results
As my friend Smoker pointed out, this fires been burning a long time. It's time to get the meat in to the cooker. This is the first time I'm cooking ribs on the Weber Smokey Mountain, and it's ready. The water pan is full. The smoke is sweet blue and it's holding temperature at 242 degrees. 242 degrees? Isn't that hot? Well, yes it is, but it's still within the acceptable barbeque temperature range.
The Weber Smokey Mountain has two cooking grates and for this cook we're going to use both. On the bottom grate, I laid flat the rack of ribs that has been prepared with the Butt Rub and applesauce. On the top rack, I placed the other two racks. Now the WSM is a little small so I needed to bend the racks of ribs slightly to make them fit. I could have used a rib rack to make them fit more evenly, but I didn't. Why did I put the Butt Rub/Applesauce ribs on the bottom rack? Luck of the draw, it was the first rack I took out of the kitchen. (Thanks to the folks at Virtual Weber Bullet for the cutaway picture of the WSM)
Now, put the lid of the Weber Smokey Mountain and walk away. Yes, walk away. One of the most common mistakes in barbeque-ing is that the cook can't walk away. He has to open the lid and look. And touch. And poke. Well, as my friend Chad at the BBQ-Brethren says, "If you're looking, you're not cooking." He's right. Everytime you take the lid off a cooker, you reduce the temperature of the cooker and increase the cooking time. So go do something with your family.
About once an hour, go back and check the temperature of the cooker. If you need to raise or lower the cooking temperature adjust only the bottom vents. Never close the top vents. This goes for every cooker I've ever used. If you close the top vent, or chimney, or stack, you will choke the fire and increase the risk of soot on your food and turn the smoke bitter.
After about 2 1/2 hours, take the baby back ribs off the fire. Bring them into the kitchen and wrap them in tin foil. At this point you'll want to adjust the seasonings on your ribs. What I usually do is add some brown or turbinado sugar. You'll also want to spray or mop your ribs with some apple juice or bourbon or chicken broth or whatever liquid tickles your fancy. Seal up your ribs and put them back on the fire.
Now the picture on your right is the ribs seasoned with the Kansas City Cowtown's Sweet Spot and the picture on the left is the ribs seasoned with Bad Byron's Butt Rub. You'll notice that the ribs with Butt Rub don't look particularly cooked, with Sweet Spot's ribs have a few dark spots and look almost syrupy. That my friend is due to the sugar content of Sweet Spot. Be warned, sugar burns!
Alright I hear the growls and groans from some of you. For the rookie, let me explain. Foiling your ribs, butts, briskets, etc. is another highly controversial step in the barbeque circuit. Paul Kirk, the Baron of BBQ calls it "The Texas Crutch." John Willingham says that if you foil, you're no longer Qing, but braising. Foiling will help tenderize your meat and will speed up the cooking process. Where do I stand on this highly controversial issue? Well, it depends. I usually foil butts and briskets but rarely ribs. Today, I'm in a rush so foiling it is. On the competition circuit, in my limited experience and from personal observation only, about 95% of the teams out there foil their meat, but you need to make up your own mind. Try it both ways and see which method results in the barbecue you want.
After you put the ribs back in to the cooker and have walked away for another hour or so, it should be time to take them off. Should be you say? Yes, should be. Another important lesson about barbecue, it's not the amount of time or temperature that determines when it's done, it's tenderness. For ribs, the only tenderness test I know of is the bend. If you pick up a rack of ribs from one end, it should bend easily. When the ribs are done, you should be able to almost fold the rack of ribs in half without it breaking. At this point in the cook, they should be bending easily with a bit or resistance. How much? Well that's something I can't explain. It's something you'll have to learn on your own. Trust me, you'll break a lot of racks of ribs before you master this technique.
So if the ribs are ready, take them off the fire and back into the kitchen. Unwrap the ribs, but be sure to save any juices that have accumulated in the foil. Take those juices and combine them with your finishing sauce. Notice that I didn't call it barbecue sauce. This can be anything you want it to be; I've heard of people finishing their ribs with a coating of grape jelly. For this cook, it will be a mixture of a couple of almost empty bottles of a commercial tomato based barbeque sauces. Brush your finishing sauce on the ribs and return them to the cooker for about another hour and walk away.
After about 30 minutes, check the ribs. I like to add another layer of finishing sauce because we like our ribs sweet and sticky. After another 15 minutes, check and sauce again. You should be very close to finished at this point.
You should notice that the meat has pulled back from tips of the rib bones. Pick up each rack and see how malleable it is. If the rack breaks in half, or you can pull the bones out easily, you're ribs are over cooked but will make some damn good eating. A perfectly cooked rib, should have a little tug to the meat and only the meat bitten off should leave the bone.
So, how's you do? How'd I do? Well, the family liked all of the ribs, but the hands down favorite was...... The Kansas City Cowtown's Sweet Spot. Emeril's rub was a close second and Bad Byron's Butt Rub was a distant third. To my NY family, Bad Byron's rub is just a little too spicy and salty.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
3 rubs 3 racks 3 steps
Ok Ok Ok, I know, I've teased you enough. Let's get down to brass tacks and finally cook these damn ribs. I last left you in the kitchen after completing the highly controversial step of skinning the ribs. (Skinning the ribs is barbeque slang for removing the membrane. See you’re learning more BBQ Lingo everyday!) Now we're ready to slather and rub our meat.
Of the three rubs, I've only used Emeril's before. So the first thing to do is to give each rub a taste test. Before tasting the rubs, be sure and give them a good shake so that the spices are evenly dispersed in the bottle. Now I know this is gross, my daughter yells at me all the time for doing this, but the best way to taste test the rub or any dry spice is to use your finger. Lick the tip of your pinky and press it into the bottle of rub, then put your pinky in your mouth and lick off the rub; simple and effective.
Bad Byron’s Butt Rub is spicy and very salty. If I had to guess, I would say that it is close to 60% salt and 35% pepper. It’s not a very complex rub and needs some sweetening in my opinion. The Kansas City Cowtown’s Sweet Spot is more complex. The first ingredient that I could taste was salt followed quickly by sugar and Worcestershire. This rub would need a little toning down. Emeril’s is also sugary with a follow-up of paprika and mustard. Out of the three Emeril’s Rib Rub is closest to a generic tomato based BBQ flavor.
So three racks, three rubs. Now what about the slather? What is a slather? Well a slather is a thin coating of a liquid placed on the outside of your meat to hold the rub in place. It helps moisturize your meat and aides in the creation of a bark. What’s a bark? We covered that in the BBQ Lingo post. Pay attention class!
For our first rack, let’s use Bad Byron’s Butt Rub. But first the slather, Butt Rub needs a little sweetening. Let’s use a slather of apple sauce. Apple sauce is one of my favorite slathers. It’s sweet without being overpowering and the flavor of apples works with most barbeque seasonings. Do you notice anything about that riack of ribs? C'mon look closely. Do you see it? Yes that's right that rack hasn't been skinned yet. Don't forget it's skin, slather and rub. In that order!
For the other two, we’ll use a very traditional barbeque slather, cheap yellow mustard! Mustard you say? Yes mustard. Believe it or not you won’t taste it in the final product. Actually I was a bit skeptical about this the first time I heard it too, but it works. When I was a teenager I worked in a rectory and the cook there, a wonderful old Polish lady named Madge, used to coat her pork chops with mustard before pan frying them. Let me tell you, those were some of the best pork chops I ever had. So when I heard/read about using mustard as a slather on ribs, I was intrigued. If Madge could do it on chops, then why not ribs?
You can use whatever you want for a slather. Some people just use water, others use vinegar and still others grape jelly or cranberry sauce. It’s really up to you. Be creative and have fun with it. Dr. BBQ in his book, Dr. BBQ’s Big-Time BBQ Cookbook, has a whole section on slathers. So don’t be limited on what you see here.
Once your meat is slathered, its time to rub. Do you actually rub the spices into the meat as the term suggests? Well, that’s another debate in the BBQ world. Some claim that rubbing the spices into the meat clogs the pores. Others say it’s the only way. Me – I’m more of a shaker. I figure since the ribs have already been slathered, it’s just easier and neater to sprinkle a layer of rub on the meat. Besides, the pores are already clogged by the slather.
Once each rack has been slathered and rubbed it’s onto the cooker. And that’s were I’ll leave you today. In our next post we’ll talk about the cooking process and let you in on which rack was the family favorite.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
3 racks 3 rubs
So the cooker's cooking in the backyard. It's staying at 242 degrees which is perfect for today's cook. Today, we're doing babyback ribs. Why babyback ribs instead of the standard spareribs? Like I mentioned, time is tight today and babybacks will cook a couple of hours quicker. We're going to cook 3 racks today, because that's what usually comes cryovaced from Costco. And because for my family of 4, 3 racks of babybacks is just about right -- We usually don't have any leftovers! I must say, Costco's got some damn good meat. I usually buy my ribs from them because they're usually much meatier then anything I can get from my butcher or local supermarkets.
I going to use the three rubs I talked about in a previous post, first is Bad Byron's Butt Rub, then Kansas City Cowtown's Sweet Spot and finally Emeril Lagasse's Rib Rub. As I said all of these rubs were picked up in a local Brooklyn supermarket, which means if I can find them, you should be able to get them as well.
One of the nice things about babyback ribs is that there is very little prep work needed before you can rub your ribs. When I cook spareribs I'll walk you through the process of turning them into St. Louis style, but that's another post. On babyback ribs or spare ribs you'll find a layer of membrane covering the underside of the bones. This membrane is inedible and becomes tough when cooked and prevents the seasonings from reaching the meat. If you look carefully at the picture you will see a shiny thin white layer covering the bones. That's the membrane and we're going to remove it before we season the ribs. Actually removing the membrane is a favorite topic of some barbeque chefs, it's usually done in competition, but rarely in a barbecue restaurant.
It's really easy to remove the membrane from the ribs, but it does take a little practice. Lay the ribs on a counter with the bones/membrane side facing up. Using a dull knife, work the knife between the membrane and meat. I do this at the smallest bone in the rack of ribs. Once you've got about 1/2" of membrane removed, using a paper towel to help you grip the membrane, remove it in one piece by peeling it back across the slab of ribs towards the largest bones. After some practice, it will come off easily. If it rips, just whip out that trusty dull knife and start again. No one's watching and even if they are who cares? If you buy your meat at a butcher ask him to do it. But be warned, my butcher laughed at me when I asked him to do it. He said that it was a waste of time, but changed his tune when I brought him back a cooked rack of ribs. But I digress....
Now it's time to slather and rub your ribs. See more BBQ lingo; I told you we had our own language. But it's getting late here in Brooklyn and I have some billing to do before I go to bed. We'll finish up the rib cook in my next post.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Let's get this party started.
Ok - One of the best things about a Weber Smokey Mountain, is that it allows you to build a charcoal and wood fire that will last a good 10 to 12 hours before going out. Using the infamous Minon method, developed by barbecue legend Jim Minon, you can basically set it and forget it, to steal a phrase from a barbeque non-legend.
The first thing you need for any good fire, is a hot bed of coals. Now when I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, acted as a child and lit my charcoal like a child - with lighter fluid. No self respecting pit master would ever put lighter fluid on his coals. So, you need a charcoal chimney to start your fire. These are really an amazingly simple invention. Basically it's a pipe with a cone shape of wire in the base. Into the cone shaped base, you put a few sheets of crumpled up newspaper and fill the pipe with charcoal. You light the paper and in about 15 minutes, you have enough burning charcoal to start your smoker.
While the charcoal is lighting, in the base of the cooker I like to do is to lay a single layer of charcoal brickettes in the charcoal ring. On top of this, I add another layer of charcoal, but I mix in some chunks of wood. For today's cook, I'm using just hickory. Why? Because that's all I have in stock at the moment. I have to make a wood run. If I had a fruit wood on hand, I'd mix that into the charcoal as well. Apple and cherry are my particular favorites when cooking ribs.
Usually I do three layers of charcoal and wood. Here's a picture of the second layer,where you will see a mixture of hickory chunks and chips. The last layer will be just charcoal brickettes and some more chunks of hickory. When I'm using wood chips, I always put them in on the second layer of charcoal. If you put the chips on the final layer, they will be burnt out before the meat is in the cooker and you are wasting your money and your wood!
Now here's where I stray from the standard Minon Method of fire building. Jim's original method of building a fire calls for the fire starter, in this case me, to put a coffee can, whose top and bottom have been removed, in the center of the fire grate. You then place your charcoal and wood chunks around the coffee can. Once the coals in the chimney are lit and ready to go, you pour the lit charcoal into the coffee can. Then remove the coffee can and your fire is ready to burn for the next 8, 10 or if you're lucky 12 hours. I follow what's known in Weber circles as the modified Minon method. I don't use the coffee can. I just pour my layer of hot coals onto the pile of charcoal and wood already on the smoker's fire grate.
After this, you put on the middle sleeve of the Weber Smokey Mountain. This sleeve will hold the water pan and the two cooking grates. Here's a shot looking into the sleeve without the cooking grates in place, but with the water pan full.
Now put the lid on the cooker, open all your vents and monitor the smoker until it reaches the proper temperature for smoking. Since time is short today, I'm going to smoke my ribs at the high end of the range. I want the fire to be between 240 and 250 degrees. I monitor my temperatures using a Taylor remote probe thermometer which I purchased in my local Ace Hardware store.
Once the cooker reaches the proper temperature, on the Weber Smokey Mountain, you close all the bottom vents approximately three-quarters of the way shut. Monitor your temperature for about one hour. The cooker should stay at temp. If not, adjust the bottom vents until it burns steadily. Don't ever close the vents in the top of the cooker or you will choke the fire. As the WSM settles in, the smoke coming from the topvents will slowly dissipate and become what we all know as sweet blue. But you will see a little grey smoke coming from the top vents every now and then. Don't worry, this is normal as the wood chunks and chips ignite during the cook. Just remember, you want a light smoke, almost invisible for most of your cooking time. If you're fire produces thick white, or worse dark black smoke, you're making inedible food.
I hope you found this interesting and not too disjointed. In my next post, I'll take you through the preparation, cooking and eating of the ribs.
Saturday, January 14, 2006
Sorry folks, work and personal life have interrupted this blog again, but I'm still here and working on some exciting new posts. I'll be walking you through an entire cook from the empty smoker to the dinner table. Here's a little tease to get you started.
That's the base of my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker waiting for the love. Soon it will be filled with charcoal, hickory, a full water pan and three racks of baby back ribs. C'mon baby daddy's gonna love you long time. Well, for five or six hours anyway. Then, hopefully, I'll be in love with the fruit of our labors as you grow cold in the backyard.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Antioxidant Rich Barbecue
Now I know you're wating to see my meat, but my friends over at SweetNicks host ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday each week and I wanted to contribute before it was too late.
The idea of ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday is to make a dish that contains at least one of the top antioxidant rich foods in your recipe. When SweetNicks first tapped me for this, I thought I'd never be able to contribute. I cook BBQ and usually that means large quanities of meat.
But here's a recipe for a great appetizer that I make for parties. Little did I know I was being healthy. Depending on how you make these rolls, you can have 2 or 3 of the top antioxidant rich foods in each mouthful.
Now before the barbeque purists chime in, I know that this recipe does not qualify as traditional barbecue. But why limit the use of the BBQ cooking methods to tradtional foods? That would be so boring. Variety is the spice of life!
Since this recipe is being linked from SweetNicks, to the non-BBQ'rs out there, don't be turned off by the suggested use of cooking these in a BBQ smoker, they can also be made in a conventional oven, just keep your temperature low.
Confetti Ham Rolls.
The ARF foods are listed in bold face.
1/4 cup or so dried cherries or dried cranberries or a mix of both.
A good bourbon - about 3 tablespoons
12 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup minced FRESH chives
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. I like the brownulated (pourable) sugar that Domino makes
8 - 10 slices of cooked ham, each about 1/8" thick. I usually use Boar's head boiled ham and have the deli guy slice it thick for me
Cooking Instructions :
Put the dried fruit in a bowl and pour enough bourbon over them to just barely cover. Don't over do it. Let the fruit it sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to plump them. Remove cherries or cranberries from the bowl and reserve the liquid. Chop the fruit and return to the bourbon. Mix in the cream cheese, pecans, chives and sugar until well combined. Spread the cream cheese mixture on the ham slices, leaving about 1/2" uncovered around the edges.
Roll up each slice snugly, jelly roll style from one of the wide sides and secure with toothpicks. Repeat with the remaining slices. Put the ham rolls in a cooler area of your smoker. Smoke for about 30 minutes at 225-230, just long enough to flavor the cheese and meat. Don't over cook or the cheese will melt and spill out. (You can do this in a conventional oven too, but they won't be as good.)
Cool the rolls briefly, remove the toothpicks and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Be careful because they will be a little soft. Refrigerate the rolls until the cheese gets firm, at least two hours or over night.
Remove the rolls from the refrigerator. Remove the toothpicks from the rolls. Use a sharp knife and cut the rolls on the bias into 1/2" thick spirals. For best flavor, let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
Maple, oak and cherry seem to be the best woods for smoking these rolls.
Sorry I don't have any pictures. The old camera was on the fritz at the time. I promise; next batch gets pictures.
Sunday, January 08, 2006
I smell smoke
To be accurate, I smell like smoke. Yes ladies and gentlemen, after repeated urgings from my friends Sweet Nicks and The Hampton Smoker, I spent today in one of my favorite activities, cooking barbecue.
This afternoon and early evening, I cooked 3 racks of baby back ribs on my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker. It is the first time I used the WSM for cooking ribs as I usually cook ribs on the classic Weber Kettle.
This time I took pictures of the entire process, from building the fire to serving the cooked ribs. I promise I'll go into the details in the next posts, but tonight I'm working. I'm working on being able to post the pictures I took! I bought a new digital camera right after Christmas and the software keeps crashing on install. As soon as I get that fixed, I'll be posting the pictures and telling the story of the first cook of 2006.
I'm a happy camper tonight.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Ah, fleeting fame
I just met Chris Lilly of the Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Competition Cooking Team, and the winner of four Memphis in May World Championships and eight state barbecue grand championships across the Southeast. The man is a barbeque legend. And he knew my blog.
I was never a sports fan. I'm not much of a movie fan. I'm not much of a music fan. Don't get me wrong, I like all of those things, but I've never been impressed when I met a famous person. Living in New York City, you run into famous people all the time and most of them are jerks. In New York, the only people who notice the famous are the fans or the out of towners.
About 20 years ago I literally ran into Georgia Engel who played Georgette on the Mary Tyler Moore show. She was leaving the bank and I was walking in and neither one of us were paying attention. We literally walked into each other. We exchanged a few pleasantness and parted, but I still remember that chance meeting. I have to say that television does not do Ms. Engel justice. She is by far the most beautiful woman I have ever met in my life.
Today's chance meeting with Chris was something like that. Adam Perry Lang introduced us at Daisy May's BBQ where I stopped in for a quick sandwich. I was hoping to get in and out of Daisy May's quickly, but fate intervened. Chris is in New York cooking with Adam for a party. Which party and where it is, he wouldn't say. Someone's going to be eating good tonight!
I'm absolutely thrilled to meet one of my barbecue heroes. His recipes have helped me learn a lot about the art of low and slow. You can read about my cooking his version of pulled pork back on September 17 & 19 right here on this blog. Chris seems like a real nice, down to earth type of guy, but what impressed me most was he knew my blog. Wow.
PS. To my friend Matt - The Backyard Chef over at the Hampton Smoker, I am cooking this weekend come hell or high water. And I'll blog about it too! Unlike someone I know.
PPS - I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich and a Bowl of Red from Daisy May's for lunch. Damn good stuff.
PPPS- The photograph of Chris Lilly is courtesy of 101zinfandels.com
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Wow - the mention in the LA Times yesterday was a rare treat. I was thrilled to be mentioned and completely blind sided by it. I had no idea that was coming. But it seems that the article is a bit controversial on the other coast. There's been some complaints in the blogosphere about the dearth of Los Angeles blogs listed. You can read about it here on LA Foodblogging.
A while back I mentioned that I was nominated for the Best Food Blog for 2005 over at the Accidental Hedonist, well I didn't make the short list for the prize. Shucks. But a few of our friends did.
Please take some time and head over to the Accidental Hedonist and vote for your favorites. I'm voting for NYC Nosh in the Restaurant Review category, Meat Henge or Small Farms in Best Theme, Lenn Devours in Beer, Wine or Spirits, LA Foodblogging in Best Group Blog and Amateur Gourmet in City Blogs.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
In the press
WhiteTrash BBQ was mentioned today in an article about food blogging in the LA Times. It isn't the most flattering article about food blogs or bloggers, but you know what they say about publicity. Actually I'm thrilled to be mentioned at all. Thanks to the BBQ Junkie for letting me know about this.
In the article Have We Gone Blog Wild?,the LA Times mentioned this blog in its Food section today, along with several other newer food blogs and a few of the old standbys. I found it interesting that many of the food blogs listed come from the NY area. It seems us New Yorkers are obsessed about food! Big surprise there.
If you're here because of the LA Times article, welcome. I hope you enjoy your time here. If you're an previous visitor, welcome back and thanks for the support.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Blogger under attack
Well, it's finally come to this. A stuck up chef at Buck's Fishing and Camping in Washington DC has threatened Jason at DC Foodies with a law suit for posting pictures of his dinner on his website.
Unfortunately, Jason has taken down his account of the chef's actions and copies of the cease and desist letter but according to his wife on her website, the chef "harass us over dessert because you heard we snapped pictures with a fucking CAMERA PHONE, and then follow that up with a letter threatening to sue us for damages and whatever the fuck else?"
And to continue the story "We take four measly pictures of our plates with Jason's camera phone. Halfway through dessert, the chef comes over and says that she heard we've been taking pictures of "her food." We smile, a little worried that Jason's been recognized, but play dumb anyway. (NOT because we were trying to hide anything, but because sometimes when Jason gets recognized at a restaurant, the chef or host or waiter tries to comp something, which we don't want and it's awkward and blah blah integrity-cakes.)And then it just got strange. She asked us why we were taking pictures, did we ask if we could take pictures, and did we know that we couldn't use the pictures without her permission, because she didn't want them ending up on (eyeroll) the Internet. We thought she was kidding around, even though her tone was kind of...well, prickly.
This is an absurb situation. Is the chef so paranoid that "her" food is so substandard that she fears an unbiased and untouched photograph would jeopardize her career? A good blog review, even with amateurish pictures of "her" food is worth a lot.
Who the hell does she think she is? Once the food is purchased, it's no longer hers but the diners. They can take pictures of it and publish the pictures on the web! From all accounts the review of the restaurant that was posted on DCFoodie said that the food was outstanding. This is how the chef chooses to treat her customers? Her livelihood? She needs an attitude adjustment.
So dear readers in the Washington DC area please boycott this pretentious bitch and her restaurant. Let her feel the power of the internet. Let her feel the rage of the blogger!
Last year I stated that I was working on my own "top secret prize winning competition busting highly marketable tasty barbeque rub." I haven't finished yet. I never really got back to it on the blog, but I am still working on it. Oh, I've offered little teases, like posting about Paprika, but I never picked up the thread in a coherent fashion again. But - never say never again. Let's talk about rubs.
What exactly is a rub? Well according to the American Heritage Dictionary a rub is defined as: To apply pressure and friction to (a surface); To exert pressure or friction on something; The act of rubbing. In the barbecue world a Rub is a dry mixture of salt, spices and herbs applied to meat prior to cooking. Outside of Texas, I would put sugar in that definition as well. See I told you that barbeque has it’s own lingo!
In Paul Kirk's book "Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces" he states that the first step to creating your own rub is to examine what the commercial producers put into their rubs and work from there.
So here, pulled at random from my shelf, are three different rubs. All three of these rubs were purchased in local supermarkets, so none are especially esoteric. If you live in the tri-state NYC area you should be able to purchase them as well. The three choices are Kansas City's Cow Town Sweet Spot Barbeque Rub, Bad Byron's Butt Rub Barbeque Seasoning and Emeril's Rib Rub.
Kansas City Cow Town is an award wining Barbeque team whose rubs have helped them win two American Royal Grand Championships in 1993 and 1995. Bad Byron’s Butt Rub comes from the legendary Butt Rub competition team who has won 15 grand championships and 14 reserve championships. And of course the last rub comes from the commercial kitchens Emeril Lagasse. Emeril’s not a BBQ legend, but he is a famous cook and television personality. If you don’t know who he is, you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years!
So here’s the breakdown of the rubs:
Kansas City's Cow Town Sweet Spot
Worcestershire Sauce Powder
Bad Byron’s Butt Rub
(Sorry I couldn't get a good picture of this rub.)
Emeril’s Rib Rub
Crushed Red Pepper
So looking at this list, the only ingredients that make it into each rub are: Salt, Paprika, and Garlic. That sounds like the base for most rubs that I’ve seen in the barbeque world. Most do add some form of sugar as well, usually in a one to one ratio with the amount of salt. Sugar in a rub is usually found in three forms white cane sugar, brown sugar, or turbinado sugar. You can also add sugars in liquid form such as honey or molasses, but since they’re liquid they’re not part of the rub!
In two of the three, you’ll find Sugar, peppers in the form of Black Pepper, Crushed Red Pepper or Chipotle Powder, and Onion. Now you’re talking a more complex rub. This combination, along with the first group is closest to the rubs that I use when I compete or cook in my own backyard.
The remaining ingredients are what make each rub unique. These are the secret flavors that make one rub stand out over the others. These are the magic keys. This is where you experiment to create your own flavor stamp. We’ll talk about that in another post.
Monday, January 02, 2006
Happy New Year
Happy New Year! 2006 is finally here! Thank God we made it through. If you're a regular reader here, you know what a rocky year this has been.
2005 is not a year that I will look back at with undiluted pleasure. Looking back, it's hard to find much to be happy about. We attended 32 wakes and or funerals. I felt like the angel of death as every time I turned around someone else had died or was dying. My wife, Johanna was burned while cooking dinner and spent almost a month in the hospital. Johanna lost her father after his battle with cancer, fourteen months to the day from her mother's death. I was diagnosed with a bone disease and osteoarthritis in my hip and leg and now sleep on the floor on a regular basis. My cousin continues in her legal battles with her son and ex-husband. Another cousin is lying in the hospital with encephalitis after a bout of West Nile disease.
On the positive side, my nephew completed his cancer regime and is now "cancer free." My children are doing well. My daughter has found constructive ways to fill her time now that the house is empty in the afternoons. My son has taken up wrestling and is winning meets. My wife is healing and won't need surgery to correct the damage caused by the fire.
We got to spend a week with family down in central Texas. We experienced some of the best barbeque that Texas and the south has to offer. I got to cook in some barbecue contests and have built new friendships on the circuit. I was privileged to be on TV and radio talking about the sport I love - competitive barbeque. I got to add to my arsenal of BBQ pits and may be adding another shortly. And finally, I live in an area of the country that wasn't affected by this year's incredible weather.
2006 is beginning much like 2005 with another funeral. I don't think this is necessarily a bad omen for the coming year, but rather view it as 2005's parting shot.
Here's wishing all of you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. God knows we all deserve one.