Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
How To: Smoking Multiple Types/Sizes of Meat
This came to me from the folks at Smoking Meat. It's a very good explanation of how to time your cook. Enjoy.
Smoking Multiple Types/Sizes of Meat
It never fails.. about 20 times a week I get an email with this question and it deserves a good answer in my opinion. How do you schedule the smoke time on various pieces of meat so that everything gets done at about the same time? Well there is a fairly simple answer and it is all based on proper planning.
The following is assuming the reader is smoking multiple briskets but could easily be applied to almost any other type of meat as well as various types at the same time.
The best thing you can do is to try and purchase briskets that are very similar in weight and size.
This will allow you to estimate a little better.
Ultimately, temperature is the indicator on when meat is finished and I highly recommend a good digital probe meat thermometer. I recommend 185-190 however some take it on up close to 200 for that fall-apart effect.
Having done my share of briskets, I have noticed that time relates to when a certain temperature will be attained most of the time.. there are always exceptions in smoking meat.
To get it down to a science, you want to allow around 1.6 hours per pound and then give yourself a few hours as a buffer. This figures out to be about 96 Minutes per pound and seems to be more accurate than the 1.5 hour/lb that we generally talk about.
It is easy to keep briskets hot for several hours once they are done.. it is not easy to keep people happy when they are waiting to eat so give yourself more time than you think you need and you will be glad you did later.
When you are smoking meat of different sizes, you have to look at each piece of meat separately to figure when it wil be done and this may mean using more than one thermometer to keep from poking and creating leak holes in the meat during the cooking process.
If you are not in charge of buying the meat and end up with various sizes, you can sort the briskets into 3 or 4 groups of similar sizes and put them into the smoker in intervals beginning with the largest group.
Allow yourself at least a 2 hour buffer for each group to be on the safe side.
It is no different when cooking different types of meat..
If you are cooking chicken, ribs and brisket and you want them all to get done at the same time then you would figure out your cook times and subtract the cook time from your finish goal time to know when to insert the meat into the smoker.
In the example above, If I wanted to have the meat ready by 2:00 PM on Saturday, I would place my 10 pound brisket in at 8:00 PM on Friday night which gives me 16 hours based on 1.6 hours/lb + a 2 hour buffer, the ribs would go in at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning which gives me a good 6 hours + 2 hours wrapped in foil and in the igloo cooler for further tenderizing. The chickens would go in promptly at around 9:30 AM on Saturday to allow about 4 hours + some good resting time.
The formula is S=F-C:
F= Finish Time
S= Start Time
C= Cook Time
All in all.. practice really does make perfect and if you want to perfect your smoking then you just have to get out and do it. In my opinion, even mistakes are usually still pretty tasty and what other hobby can say that?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
BBQ Recipes: Smoked Duck
I came across this recipe for Smoked Duck on the internet at steaks-guide the other day. It looks interesting and is a completely different approach to how I've cooked duck in the past. I'm gonna have to try it. Take it away...
"Using wood chips for flavoring your smoked duck recipe will be a delectable meal in itself. For something like smoking duck you would prefer to use some kind of fruit wood, these are woods like apple and cherry.
Once you’ve mastered the cooking of a bird like chicken a duck should be no problem.
If you want to try for a great smoked duck recipe you might want to try this easy recipe.
Just like smoking most other things it only involves a marinade, a rub, and some smoker skills.
For the recipe you’ll need to get some ducks of course. Try for a small to medium size duck, if you get small ones try to get one for everyone coming to dinner.
To cook about 5 smaller ducks you’ll need:
- enough milk to soak the ducks in,
- 1 chopped onion and
- unpeeled apple for each duck,
- 2 sticks of butter, and
- 1 cup of red wine.
First make sure you clean out and dry the insides of the duck. Place the ducks in milk and cover, soak about 4-5 hours. You can also soak overnight in the fridge; make sure you soak your wood chips in water overnight also.
Take the ducks out and rub salt and pepper on the inside and outside. Take the apples and onion and stuff the ducks with the mixture.
Get your smoker up and running to about 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit, at this temperature you’ll be smoking these for 4-6 hours. Use the fruit chips mentioned before for a nice flavor, you can also use a traditional hickory if you like. Melt the butter and mix it with the red wine, salt, and pepper to baste the duck with.
Just as often as you would baste a duck in the oven, use this mixture to baste the duck in the smoker. Once they are done just take them out and serve.
This is one wonderful smoked duck recipe that I am sure your entire cook out will enjoy from the first bite."
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I've often wondered how suddenly everyone's talking about "X." You know what I mean, all of a sudden "X" is on every blog, every new show and in every paper. Everyone is suddenly doing"X" (Easy now, I'm not talking about that X) "X" could be the latest celebrity, paint color, sweat shirt, food item, singer, cooking technique or just about anything.
I've often wondered if there's a cabal or Illuminati group out there who makes these decisions and sows the seeds for unsuspecting schmucks like me.
Well, if there is an "X" board out there the latest, hot, new thing is baking. Yup baking. I received 14 different emails from folks like Kraft, The Food Network, The Pampered Chef telling me it's time to bake. It's popping up on the blogs, biscuits, pies and cakes.
Well, not this WhiteTrash BBQ boy. I ain't gonna fall for it. I'm gonna go build me a fire.
Monday, September 24, 2007
BBQ Events: New South for New Southerners
This comes to us from the Charlotte Observer....
Ain't this a kick in the head? It seems that there's so many "new Southerners" in Charlotte, North Carolina that they are actually teaching barbecue to the newbies. It sounds like an interesting course, but should us "old" New Yorkers be teaching classes on hot dogs or pizza? Fuggetaboutit!
Bone up on barbecue at museum this week
When you live in the South, you don't necessarily have to like eating pork barbecue -- but you should be ready to talk about it.
Among enthusiasts, you'll hear passionate discussions about cooking methods and sauces -- and if you want to fit in, you should have a position on whether you prefer Eastern vs. Western style.
If you're a newbie who still thinks barbecue is what you do to hamburgers and hot dogs, you've got a chance coming up to learn more: Levine Museum of the New South's next "New South for New Southerners" event, coming Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the museum, focuses on the subject.
The headline speaker is the Observer's own Dan Huntley, co-author of the recently published book "Extreme Barbecue."
With his help, I've compiled a primer:
• Is barbecue a noun or verb? It's a noun, referring to pork slow-cooked over indirect heat and chopped, sliced or minced.
• Where did barbecue originate? Most culinary historians say it started in the eastern Carolinas with pirates who brought the cooking technique -- whole pigs over smoky wood fires -- from the Caribbean in the 1600s. "That tradition wafted inland just like hickory smoke," says Huntley.
• Eastern vs. Western vs. South Carolina style: Eastern style has a vinegar-based sauce, usually made with brown sugar, black pepper, salt and other spices. Western style adds a tomato base to the sauce, making it much thicker. And South Carolina has a mustard-based sauce.
• The key to a good sauce? Mixing peppers, such as cayenne, chipotle or white pepper, with sugars, such as apple juice or pineapple juice. "You're balancing the sweet with the heat," says Huntley.
• Want to learn even more? One opportunity coming up is the Lexington Barbecue Festival on Oct. 27. More than 100,000 people attend the annual event in the town about 90 minutes northeast of Charlotte. Details at www.barbecuefestival.com or 336-956-1880.
Or, just come to the Levine on Thursday. The event is $5 and includes appetizers, drinks and access to museum exhibits. Call 704-333-1887 ext. 501 to RSVP. More info: www.museumofthenewsouth.org.
Got a question? 704-358-5058 or Ldyer@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, September 21, 2007
BBQ Equipment: Charbroil Tec Gas Grill
Well folks, there is some power in the internet.
Here's the official response from Charbroil about the Tec burner problems...
"Char-Broil has seen the messages posted on this and other forums regarding failing fasteners used in manufacturing of a limited number our TEC burners. We regret that a few TEC by Char-Broil Series owners have experienced burner performance issues.
Char-Broil wants to assure all TEC Series customers that we will take care of their individual issues and assist them in replacing the complete infra red burner assembly in their grill.
Char-Broil encourages TEC Series owners who have encountered a problem with the fasteners to call 1-888-430-7870 to receive a new TEC stainless steel burner assembly from Char-Broil.
Our TEC Consumer Services line will be open 7 days a week from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM EST. One of our customer service agents will be happy to assist you and a warranty service kit will be shipped out at no charge via priority 2nd day air shipping.
We stand behind the safety and performance of our products and make it a priority to respond to our consumer’s needs and concerns."
Looks good. They've wised up and they're shipping the parts on their dime. Please let me know if any of you are still having issues with the TEC grill.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
BBQ Foods: Kentucky Burgoo
It's Thursday and I don't have a lot to say.
So here's a link to a story about Burgoo. What's Burgoo you say? Well it's "the 150-year-old burgoo tradition in her hometown of Owensboro, Ky. There, men gather all night to grill on an epic level -- mutton, chicken and a cut of pork they call Boston butt -- to prepare burgoo for parish picnics that serve thousands and raise funds for their church communities."
Take a look at this great article from NPR all about the mysterious stew.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
BBQ Equipment: Charbroil TEC Grill
Frequent readers of this blog know that I try to be straight with my recommendations and reviews of products and events. I try to give you, my faithful readers the good and the bad, based on my experiences and I always give you the truth. Sometimes that gets me in trouble, but as I feel it's my duty. A friend recently referred to me as "the Ralph Nader of Barbeque."
So in my new role as "The Ralph Nader of BBQ" I need to let you guys know about some problems with the Charbroil TEC grill. As you know I recommended this grill to you when it came out, so I feel I need to let you know about some of the problems people are experiencing with this grill. I haven't had any problems with mine but it seems a lot of people do.
It seems that there is a design flaw in the TEC Burner. For some reason, the screws holding the burner in place are sheering off when you use the grill. This has led to flare-ups and small flash fires. I had heard about this from one reader who posted on my blog, from another who sent me a private message and I'm beginning to hear more about this on the various internet forums and blogs. There's clearly something wrong.
Charbroil has not issued a recall, but according to About.com, Charbroil will send replacement burners and screws, but you have to pay the shipping. (C'mon Charbroil - it's your fault - you pay the shipping.) He also states that Lowe's is authorized to offer you a full refund for the grill.
I leave you with the warning that appears on About.com. It's got all the information you need.
"WARNING: If you own the Char-Broil/TEC grill you need to remove the cooking grate and glass plate from the burner (gas turned off) and inspect the screws inside this burner. If any of these screws are broken or missing you need to contact Char-Broil immediately. Call 1-888-430-7870 for assistance. While there is currently no recall or safety alert regarding this grill there is clearly something wrong. Char-Broil is supplying replacement screws and newly designed burners. I fully encourage you to be safe and make sure you Char-Broil/TEC grill is safe to operate."
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Rediscovering My Library
I have a lot of CDs and albums. A lot. Over 3,000 of each. I know, everyone uses iPods now a days, but I still like the feel of the album and the CD. Actually the 33 1/3 rpm, long playing record is my medium of choice when I'm rambling through my music collection. Sure, if I know what I want to hear, nothing beats the convenience of going right to that song on your iPod.
But if I'm just looking for something random, something soothing, it's got to be a record. Looking over those great album covers and the anticipation of pulling out the record of it's card board case and paper sleeve, then loading it on to the turn table with the scratchy start before the music envelopes you, just can't be beat. Sometimes I close my eyes and pick something blind.
Why am I talking about records on a blog about barbecue? Well. I have a lot of barbecue and grilling cookbooks too. I don't have anywhere as many cookbooks as I do CDs but I have way too many to use them all on a regular basis. And like my cd/record collection sometimes great gems get pushed to the back and unused for years.
So today I am announcing a new feature of WhiteTrashBBQ, rediscovering my cookbooks. Over the next couple of months there will be an irregular feature where I pull out a cookbook at random. I'll pick a recipe at random, prepare it, cook it, photograph it and eat it. I'll publish the results here. This should be fun. Look for the first post soon.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Brooklyn: Goodbye Coney Island
The Coney Island of my lifetime is no more. Astroland Park shut it's doors (It had doors?) this past Sunday after a run of 45 years. Interesting, I'm 45. You can read all about it here.
It seems that most of the amusement park lands have been sold to Thor Equities who are promising some major redevelopments, which are supposed to include a new park. From what I hear, we shouldn't hold our breath. Apparently the transisition is not going smoothly.
Here's some pictures from my last visit.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The South will rise again. Or will the North kick some ass? This looks really cool and I'm a sucker for anything that has this type of history.
Fire up the smoker for BBQ contest in Chickamauga
New this year: Chickamauga will hold barbecue contest as part of its War Between the States Day.
This year’s War Between the States festivities on Sept. 15 will feature a barbecue cook-off that is in
honor of the “Blue and Grey Barbeque” of Sept. 20, 1889, at the Gordon-Lee Mansion in Chickamauga.
The original post-Civil War feast was hosted by Gordon Lee, who in 1889 was the Seventh District U.S. congressman from Georgia.
The original barbecue was more than 30 years after the Battle of Chickamauga, which took place Sept. 19-20, 1863. Several Union soldiers from every state attended the feast. The barbecue was a peaceful and harmonious success.
An article about the barbecue in the Walker County Messenger on September 25, 1889, read: “The reunion is over and everybody is highly pleased with the way it passed off. The largest crowd that ever assembled at one gathering in Walker County was here on the 20th. People from every State in the Union were here. Peace and harmony throughout the assembly reigned supreme during the entire day — no disturb
Applications for the Blue and Grey barbecue cook-off can be picked up Chickamauga City Hall. The Battle of Chickamauga barbecue contest will be held Saturday, Sept. 15. Judging will take place at 4 p.m. on the front porch of Gordon-Lee Mansion. The contest is limited to 15 teams of up to four people per team. Categories include pulled pork, chicken breasts, and pork ribs. The contest is sponsored by the Bank of Chickamauga. For more information call, call (706) 375-4728 or (423) 902-6330.
The estimated number of attendants at the original “Blue and Gre
y” barbecue ranged between 10,000 and 14,000 Confederate and Union veterans. There were 33 tables, for a total of 200 feet of tabletops. The crowd assembled at the tables in an orderly fashion. The vast amount of food was spread throughout the entire crowd, leaving enough of the feast for all who attended.
The 2007 “Blue and Grey” barbecue, sponsored by the Bank of Chickamauga, will honor the original feast of 1889 with a barbecue cook-off. The contest is open to everyone. There will be a $500 per category champion and $1,000 for the overall champion.
The cook-off contest will consist of three categories: chicken breast, pork ribs, and pulled pork.
It is limited to 15 teams of up to four people per team. Judging will begin at 4 p.m. on the front porch of Gordon Lee Mansion on Sept. 15, the day of the War Between the States festivities in Chickamauga. There is a $100 entry fee for the cook-off contest.
Applications can be picked up at Chickamauga City Hall. All checks must be made payable to City of Chickamauga. Participants will be able to sell their barbecue and plates to the general public who attend the festivities
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
BBQ Recipes: Pork Tenderloin with Laab Seasonings
I must eat a lot of Thai food. One of my clients asked me if I had some "Oriental blood" in me because he noticed that when I'm in their office I usually order Thai or Chinese lunches. Now, I'm not Asian, but I do enjoy the flavors of Thai food immensely. I just wish they'd ditch the cucumbers and broccoli.
This recipe for Pork Tenderloin with Laab Sesonings came into my in-box this morning from the fine folks at A Taste of Thai. It sounds great and actually uses a grill!
Pork Tenderloin with Laab Seasonings
Yield: 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes to assemble, 1 hour to marinate, 6 minutes to grill per side
The marinade in this recipe is reminiscent of the salty, sour and citrus flavors found in Thailand's popular laab, a dish of ground pork or beef. We combined these complimentary flavors to make the most succulent grilled pork. The marinade is cooked down and poured over the meat for the 'pièce de résistance'.
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 tablespoon (each), garlic and ginger
- 2 tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Red Curry Paste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup lime juice, divided
- 1 bunch mint, chopped
- 1½ -2 pound pork tenderloin
- Optional: 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
- In a medium skillet heat oil over a medium-high heat. Chop scallions and add white parts to skillet, reserving green parts. Add garlic and ginger. Stirring, cook until vegetables start to soften. Add Fish Sauce, Curry Paste and brown sugar. Stirring, cook until curry is dissolved and fragrant. Cool ingredients.
- Add 1/2 cup mint (reserving remains for garnish) and 1/4 cup of lime juice to curry mixture. Stir well and pour into zip lock gallon size plastic bag.
- With a sharp knife, butterfly pork by slicing lengthwise down center, cutting three quarters of the way through meat. Open like a book. Add meat to plastic bag and cover all sides with marinade. Squeeze out air and lay flat in refrigerator. Marinate for one hour.
- Preheat grill to medium high and oil grates. Grill 6 minutes per side or until meat registers 150 degrees on a meat thermometer (pork can be slightly pink). Meanwhile squeeze marinade from plastic bag into a small saucepan. Add remaining 1/4 cup lime juice and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and reserve sauce.
- Slice tenderloin on a diagonal and pour reserved sauce over meat. Sprinkle with remaining mint and peanuts. Jasmine rice and cucumber salad nicely compliment this dish.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
BBQ Bargains: Back to School!
Hey folks - It's Back to School time! Whoo Hoo!
Now why is ol' WhiteTrash so excited about back to school? Well, back to school means it's the end of summer and to most folks in America, the end of the barbeque and grilling season. Confused? Let me explain.
With the so called "end" of the barbecue and grilling season, the book stores here in WhiteTrash world decide that they need to clear their shelves of all the bbq and grilling books. Now's the time for all you dedicated que-rs and grillers to stock up on all the great and no so great barbecue cookbooks.
It's the time to buy all those books that look interesting, but just didn't seem to justify the price at the time.
In a trip to Barnes and Noble last night, I found Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook on sale for $5.98 and Bobby Flay's Boy Gets Grill for $6.98. Unfortunately, I allready have both, but the Bobby Flay book is going to be someone's Christmas present. There was this beautiful book on Rubs that originally was priced at $19.95, but is now going for $2.98. Like I said it is a beautiful book but very light on recipes and heavy on pictures; but for $2.98, it might just wind up in my library.
See you in the bookstores!
Monday, September 10, 2007
BBQ Events: Hudson Valley Ribfest
Yes, I still have a little more to say about this event, but today I have little time. So here's a couple of pictures of us at the contest. That's John, me, Mike and Mike after the last turn in.
The Hudson Valley Ribfest is easily one of the best venues for BBQ in the North East. Look at that cooking site.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Arise, Sir Loin of Beef!
Saturday, September 08, 2007
BBQ Films: A Texas Love Story
Sorry for the short notice, but tonight at the infamous Water Taxi Beach, they're showing a film about barbeque. At least I think it's about barbecue. It has Barbeque in the title right?
Saturday, Sept. 8th
8:30pm - Tasting Rachel Ray - 3 mins.
8:35pm - 4H at the Missouri State Fair - 4 mins.
8:40pm - An Afternoon With Daddy Bruce - 7 mins
8:50pm - Barbeque: A Texas Love Story - 46 mins
9:40pm - Dial S For Sausage - 15 mins
closing - XXX - An Unconventional Love Story - 1 min.
Anyway - take a chance and head over to the Water Taxi Beach. Even if the film's no good, I have no idea if it's good or bad, the food will be great with both RUB and Hill Country providing the chow.
Friday, September 07, 2007
BBQ Contest Foods: Chicken
We finally reach the story of the KCBS sanctioned BBQ contest at the Hudson Valley Ribfest. Yup, it's a month has almost passed since the contest and I'm still talking about it.
In a KCBS event there are four foods that must be cooked. Chicken, Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder and Beef Brisket. There may be other foods that the contest organizer wants you to cook, but these are the four that count for the prize.
What you see in the picture are 9 skinless chicken thighs that we presented to the judges for scoring. Chicken thighs are the prevalent choice among barbeque cooks in the Northeast. I think they're the most popular choice for barbeque cooks throughout the country, but I've only been to events up here, so I'm not going to make that claim.
Thighs have a high fat percentage compared to the rest of the chicken which makes them take to the smoke and heat of the barbecue better than the other parts of the bird. They're also more forgiving to a cook's mistakes. The fat helps keep the meat moist so you can over cook them and get away with it.
We did surprisingly well with this chicken. We came in 24th. I can hear you ask - "You came in 24th place and you think you did surprising well?" Yup. I was really surprised. I screwed up this chicken royally.
Oh chicken, how I screwed you. Let me count the ways.
- I asked John, who had never been to BBQ contest before, and as far as I know doesn't cook chicken to trim the thighs. He asked me what I meant and I said to just trim off the obvious fat. He said that was a "dirty job" and I said OK, let's wait till I get back from my shower; but John, ever the trooper, said no he'd take care of it. Unfortunately he interpreted trimming the fat to mean - skin them. Looking back on it now, there was time to go out and buy more chicken, but the thought didn't occur.
- I didn't brine the chicken. I've never cooked skinless chicken before, so I wasn't really sure if they could stand up to a brine so I decided not to. Thinking about that now, that was a completely stupid idea. Brining adds moisture, which would have been provided by the fat from the skin. Damn I wasn't thinking.
- I never tasted the chicken. I took the best looking 12 pieces of chicken from the 24 pieces we cooked, sauced them, and then took the best looking 9 and put them in the box.
- I did a lousy job of presentation. Most judges gave us a 7 on presentation, but one kind soul gave us a 9 (the top score). Bless you whomever you are.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
New York BBQ Lovers
Astute readers of this blog may have noticed a few changes in the links on the side of the page. I've removed a few dead links and added two new BBQ forums for your enjoyment.
One link that I want to bring to your attention is The New York BBQ Lovers Meet Up Group. This group is run by a great guy Kevin Lincoln who introduced himself to me and Matt Fisher at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. This group is a very friendly bunch who are working hard to enjoy and explore the NY barbecue scene. Check them out.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
BBQ Foods: St. Louis Style Ribs
On Labor Day this year, I decided to make some spare ribs. I'm sorry I didn't get any pictures, but here's a great video from our friends over on The Virtual Weber Bullet on how to trim a side of ribs down to St. Louis Style. Basically, you need to trim off any meat that's not a part of the rib before you begin to cook them. This decreases the cooking time, removes any tough meat and gives you a much better presentation when done.
So what do you do with all that trimmed meat and bone? Well usually I season it up and cook it right along with the ribs. Since it's all various sizes it cooks at different times and provides a great snack while you're waiting for the ribs to finish. But Monday I was in the mood for something different. I took the meat and made pork stock out of it. Homemade stock you say? Hell yeah. Every good cook knows the benefit of having homemade stock on hand.
Enjoy the video.
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
I Hate When This Happens
I hate when this happens. There's a barbecue event in NYC that I didn't know about. I just read about the Washington Heights Barbeque Block Party over on Plate of the Day. Damn. Now I won't get into the differences between grilling and barbecue right now - I know that you know the difference.
Look at these grills. (Pictures courtesy of Plate of the Day) I gotta get me one. Anybody know where I can buy it? These pictures make my mouth water.
Monday, September 03, 2007
BBQ Events: The Harpoon BBQ Championship of New England
From yesterday's Boston Globe, here's a great article about the premier BBQ contest in the Northeast, The Harpoon BBQ Championship of New England.
Ray Depot of the Anchormen Competition Barbecue Team of Narragansett, R.I., inspected his team's chicken entry before submitting it to judges during the Harpoon Championships of New England. (Jason Johns for The Boston Globe)
In the South, the word "barbecue" is a noun, as in "Let's eat some barbecue." But up here, it's a verb, as in, "Let's barbecue!" And as we learned at this summer's Championships of New England Barbecue, we're doing it better than ever these days.
By Erin Byers Murray | September 2, 2007
I'm inside the judges' tent at the Harpoon Championships of New England Barbecue in Windsor, Vermont, watching carefully as Frank Plankey, a heavyset man with a cheerful face sporting a baseball cap covered in collector pins, picks up a handful of shredded pork and studiously examines its coloring. Satisfied, he closes his eyes and holds the chunk up to his nose, inhaling audibly. He inhales again, then pops it in his mouth before scribbling numbers on a score card. It is the first time I've ever seen anyone regard the bouquet of a hunk of pork, but that's what Plankey and 48 other certified judges are here to do, to evaluate the culinary skills of 42 teams that are part of the fast-growing sport of competitive barbecue. This late-July fest is a major event for the New England circuit and will end with the crowning of the Team of the Year. It will also draw a record 6,000 spectators to the Harpoon Brewery over the course of two days.
Barbecue competitions are nothing new in the South, Midwest, or West, but up here they didn't catch on until the early 1990s, when a group of amateur cooks, mostly in Massachusetts, put together a friendly competition called the Pig and Pepper. The event spawned copycats and eventually an organization of teams was formed, now called the New England Barbecue Society. In 2001, Harpoon Brewery sponsored the first regional competition and since then, with help from various marketing efforts and the pastime's increasing exposure on television outlets like the Food Network, the season has grown to a dozen competitions in New England and membership has skyrocketed to 350 teams. Not bad for a sport that didn't exist here 20 years ago. One look around the festival and it's easy to see – actually to smell and to hear – the draw. The air is thick with hickory smoke and blues music; aging hippies, leather-clad bikers, 20-something couples in madras shorts, and entire families (including their dogs) wander the grounds munching on pulled-pork sandwiches and drinking Harpoon. Teams are camped out across the grounds with enormous rigs made up of smokers, kitchen equipment, RVs, and tents. Some teams, like Malden's I Smell Smoke!!!, are competition veterans that hit 20 contests each season and have 12 or more years of experience, while others, like the Pokey Smokers, a husband-and-wife team from Stow, have little more than a year of practice.
They all arrived Friday night and stayed up late tending their smokers, which were filled with entries for Saturday's barbecue categories (chicken, ribs, pork butt, and beef brisket). A separate competition will take place Sunday for grilling, where most entries are prepared over open fires, unlike traditional barbecuing, which requires longer cooking time over very low, indirect heat. Winners will earn prize money and bragging rights. Here, they compete against the best, and this year, that means teams from Kansas City and Chicago as well as a few professional chefs, like Tremont 647's Andy Husbands and his team, iQue.9
Read more »
Sunday, September 02, 2007
A&P vs The Little Guy
Power to the people! Fight the man! Join the boycott of A&P. Send a note to A&P telling them to drop the lawsuit.
Well, I sent a letter in support of the Fresh Beets to the fine folks at A&P telling them to drop their lawsuit. A&P's stance is that the video "intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy."
OK - fire the kids. I can see that. They made a mistake and justice should be metered out - but sue them for one milion dollars - as Dr. Evil would say? C'mon.
Here's my note to A&P...
Sent: Saturday, September 1, 2007 1:13:38 PM
Subject: The Fresh Beets
C'mon you A&P folks.
You are making a mountain out of a mole hill. I saw the video. I had no idea that it was made in an A&P until I read about the lawsuit. Watching the video, that produce department could have been in any supermarket anywhere.
You've fired them. You've got your pound of flesh. Do you really need their blood too?
Move on A&P, you are producing much more negative publicity than this video ever did.
I'm a 45 y/o man, married with kids and I'll be shopping elsewhere until A&P comes to its senses and ends this nonsense.
Drop the lawsuit.
And A&P's canned response...
A&P management’s position on this matter should be self explanatory. Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy.
Accordingly, the company has dismissed both employees, and is exploring legal avenues for the recovery of damages, and the removal of any and all videos about the Company from the website where it has been posted by the individuals.
We will continue to work through our store management, labor union and legal process to bring this unfortunate series of events to an appropriate conclusion, and will have no further public comment while that process continues.
Richard De Santa,
Senior Director, Corporate Affairs
So boys and girls - FIGHT THE POWER! Support the Fresh Beets in thier battle with corporate America. Send a note to A&P to end the bullshit and get on with life.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
The Lower Middle-portion Of The Food Pyramid
Some people have to learn to laugh....
A&P fires, sues brothers over online video parody
Published Wednesday, August 29, 2007
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Two New Jersey brothers sacked from their grocery jobs for filming a gangsta rap parody at the store now face a defamation lawsuit from their former employer.
A&P claims the video by Mark and Matthew D’Avella motivated at least one "disgusted and distressed" customer to boycott the supermarket because of the video’s "repulsive acts."
The Montvale-based chain seeks at least $1 million in compensation and demands that the D’Avellas remove "Produce Paradise" from the Internet. It remained this morning on YouTube and the brothers’ Web site.
The company asserts that the video "contains numerous false and defamatory statements that are injurious to the reputation and livelihood of A&P." It’s also suing for trademark infringement, charging that an A&P logo can be seen on a ball cap shown in the video, though the D’Avellas contend the resolution is too fuzzy to make it out.
The video features the two college students rapping as they handle fruits and vegetables in different parts of a grocery store.
The brothers - styling themselves as a group called Fresh Beets - stand with bananas suggestively hanging out of their pants at one point. One pretends to urinate on some greens.
The rap’s refrain is a rhyming couplet: "It’s all about the produce produce, we don’t like to kid/It’s the lower middle portion of the food pyramid."
The rap never mentions the food chain, but A&P said several lines were "disparaging and disgusting," including, "it ain’t safe in our produce paradise." The song also uses an obscenity to describe cut fruit.
The video was posted Aug. 6; the brothers were fired Aug. 23, and the lawsuit was filed Aug. 24 in state Superior Court in Flemington. The lawsuit was first reported yesterday in the Courier News of Bridgewater.
"Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy," A&P spokesman Richard De Santa said in a statement.
The brothers worked part time at the store in Califon, near their western New Jersey home in Glen Gardner. Their father is the produce manager.
"This is just crazy that we put so much dedication into the company and they just stab us in the back," said Matthew, 19.
"We’re making fun of the outlandishness of gangsta rap," said Matthew, who produced the video in anticipation of submitting it for a class project at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania, where he has started his sophomore year majoring in mass communication.