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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, April 28, 2011

Ternera a la Llanera -- Wherefore Art Thou?

Photo courtesy of http://blog.shankbone.org/

The above photo was taken at a Lower East Side of Manhattan street fair, sometime in the past. I don't know which fair. I don't know when. All I know is I want to be at that fair and I want one of those grills.

According to Wikipedia the guy in the picture is preparing "Ternera a la Llanera," a dish from the Colombian marshlands. From what I've found on the web, thank you Chrome's instant translation service, Ternera a la Llanera is the cooking of an entire veal. Now, it they're cooking an entire veal on the streets of NYC - I NEED to be there!

Here's the process....

Preparation of Veal llanera or "Mammon" is itself a party, this will kill a calf of approximately one year. The most important preparation are the cuts. There are four classics that are the bear, the eels, rays and the heron.

The bear is the part that covers the neck, throat, jaw and tongue, cut from top to bottom, so that will be taking down the dam.

The Shakers are breast meat, which are extruded in long strips.

The line includes the hindquarters, which, cut from the top (legs), including the tail, and part of the thighs. Cut trying to maintain a round shape with the tail like a bay.

The Heron is only the udder.

The cuts were made by cutting the extra skin, wrap the meat with it are exposed. Strips are sewn with the same skin, so that the meat is completely covered in the oven. Once LSTA and only seasoned with salt (including the head) is roasted in clay and brick oven at medium temperature (250 ° C) for 8 to 12 hours.

One way to know when the beef is ready, when the lips, head, shrink, giving it a cheerful expression.

Where this at? Someone, please tell me!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Barbecue Basics: Fire

Fire. It's an amazing thing. It's so amazing that the ancient Greeks considered it one of the major elements. Water, air, earth and fire. The four building blocks that make up the world. Even today, people refer to fire as a living, breathing thing. Fire is probably the most destructive force in nature. But fire, when harnessed correctly can also be one of the most beneficial. In the world of barbecue, it's probably the most important element.

Unlike water, air and earth, fire isn't matter. It's a chemical reaction. A side effect if you will, of changing form. Fire is caused by a reaction of oxygen with some sort of fuel. In the case of a barbecue, that fuel is ideally wood. Now just having wood and oxygen together doesn't automatically create fire. If it did, we'd all be in pretty bad shape. Something must heat the wood, and that can be anything from a match to lightening to friction. Oh, I remember my Boy Scout days of starting fires by rubbing two sticks together. What a pain in the ass that was!

Once the wood reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit, the cellulose in the wood begins to break down. This decomposed cellulose releases volatile gases, aka smoke. Smoke is made up of hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Once all that is burned off, we're left with - char; the nonburnable remnants of the wood. The char is nearly pure carbon, and ash, which is the minerals in the wood (calcium, potassium, and so on). On the store shelves, this char is known as charcoal. Charcoal is wood that has been heated to remove all the volatile gases, leaving behind only carbon. This is why pure charcoal doesn't produce smoke when it burns.

Now the actual burning of wood takes two stages. First up, when the wood reaches 500 degrees Fahrenheit, the atoms in the wood break apart. They combine with the oxygen forming water, carbon dioxide and all sorts of other compounds. In other words - it burns. Once the gases burn off, the char ignites. The pure carbon of the char burns much more slowly and creates most of the heat of a wood fire.

As the atoms heat up, they produce light. This process is called incandescence. Flame colors will vary depending on the temperature of the fire, and the fuel source. Variations in the flame are caused by uneven temperatures. Blue flame is the hottest. Yellow the coolest.

How many nights have I sat transfixed watching the flames shoot up? Their little point dancing between the wood - or teasing the underside of a steak without ever stopping to think why fire is pointed. Well, it's due to gravity. All the hot gases in the flame are much hotter (and less dense) than the surrounding air, so they move upward toward lower pressure. If we were in space, without gravity, the fire would burn in a sphere. Great balls of fire anyone?

Fire is self perpetuating. It keeps the fuel at ignition temperature, so it continues to burn as long as there is fuel and oxygen around it. The flame heats any surrounding fuel so it releases gases as well. When the flame ignites the gases, the fire spreads. Sometimes you want this, sometimes you don't.

Your job as a pitmaster is to control that flame. And once you have mastered fire control, you will have mastered the first step to outstanding barbecue.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Best Barbecue Pork Ribs in Manhattan

Photograph: Jessica Leibowitz at Serious Eats

OK. I'll wait.

Done yet?

C'mon. Really?

OK, children settle down now. Stop the laughing. Yes - the title of this post is the "Best Barbecue Pork Ribs in Manhattan," as in New York City. Yes, we do have multiple true barbecue restaurants in Manhattan and even more in Brooklyn. And today, we'll talk about the "best" pork barbecue ribs in Manhattan. Are they the best in the nation? No one said that, so you Southerners. Relax. We're not taking the crown just yet.

James Boo, Seriouseats.com NY's budding barbecue expert invited me, my buddy Ned Berke of Sheepsheadbites.comEdible Queens blogger and 'cue enthusiast Joe DiStefano (known in certain circles as "Joey Deckle"), barbecue ambassador Amy Mills to join the staff and judge Manhattan's best pork barbecue ribs and the results are surprising.

Here's what happened, as James tells on Serious Eats...

This tasting focused on smoked pork ribs available for dine-in or take-out in Manhattan. Choices were based on our informal poll on SENY and the Barbecue Bureau's top choices. We purchased half-racks of spare ribs to-go from each restaurant, with the exception of Rack and Soul, which only serves baby back ribs:

I'll pick it up from here. We were led into the Serious Eats office and spread out before us was a large conference table with 7 plates of ribs lined up on one side. The only identifiable marking was a purple post-it tag with the numbers of 1 to 7 written on them. We stood around a while discussing how the judging was to take place and finally dove in.

When we sat down I thought I recognized a couple of the ribs, but as I was eating them I honestly lost my preconceived notions. I knew RUB was there. So was Daisy May, Blue Smoke and Hill Country. I saw them on the plates lined up for tasting, but by the time a rib got to my plate I had no idea which restaurant produced it. Joey Deckle was distributing the ribs to the plate and we were all sharing ribs. Trying to figure out where 1/2 a rib came from was a useless pursuit. So my dear readers, this was true blind judging. 

I'm not going to re-write James's post about the whole experience. You should read it over on Serious Eats, but here's the winners from the panel's perspective.
  1. Rack and Soul's BBQ Baby Back Ribs (7.8/10)
  2. Daisy May's BBQ's Kansas City Sweet and Sticky Pork Ribs (7.3/10)
  3. Daisy May's BBQ's Memphis Dry Rub Pork Ribs(6.8/10)
  4. Hill Country New York's Pork Spare Ribs (6.3/10)
  5. Dinosaur Barbeque Harlem's St. Louis Bar-B-Que Spare Ribs (6.1/10)
  6. Blue Smoke's Kansas City Spare Ribs (5.5/10)
  7. RUB's St. Louis-Style Long End (4.5/10)
Frankly, I'm a bit surprised by these results. We all discussed our winners and losers and I didn't leave thinking this was how it would play out. James still had to tally our written votes, with the exception of Rack and Soul being the hands down winner, every other position was still in flux.

My feelings -- To me, the top two were Daisy May's. My winner was the dry rub ribs, followed by Daisy's sweet and sticky ribs. This really surprised me as my last visits to Daisy May's proved so disappointing that I wrote a post pleading with Adam Perry Lang to abandon his London restaurants and take care of Daisy. Maybe he listened, but whomever is handling the cookers at Daisy May's now is doing a great job. I need to get back there and update my comments. 

My least favorite in the bunch was Blue Smoke's Kansas City Style Spare Ribs. They were completely untrimmed, fatty and tasteless. To me, it appeared that the chef  had completely given up. There were no discernible spices, nor bark or smoke on these ribs. Huge chunks of fat dominated them and easily over powered the meat. I wouldn't have been surprised to be given these ribs from some newlywed's first attempt at cooking ribs in oven.

Hill Country's ribs didn't fare much better. While these ribs were cooked well, the salt, pepper, paprika seasoning just doesn't cut it for pork. "Hammy" was the most frequently heard comment here. Stick with the beef boys. 

As for the others, well it was a mixed bag as under cooking seemed to be the most common mistake.

I can't wait to do it again!

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday's Tips

Photo courtesy of  http://www.barbecue-party.com
Today's Tuesday - so here's a tip for you. Keep your grill clean. Nothing messes up a good grilling session than a dirty grill. Burnt on food can turn rancid, and scrapping it into your new fire causes an acrid smoke flavor. It can get even worse on a low slow cook of barbecue. Ever bite into a succulent juicy rib, only to be immediately repulsed by the flavor of dirty smoke?  Keep it clean Joe.

PS. I was part of a team of elite foodies and a barbecue legendess (She's like a princess with her pedigree!) who took part in a super secret pork rib-off of Manhattan's barbecue restaurants yesterday ins a super secret location.. The very surprising results will be posted soon.

PPS - To all my loyal Jewish friends and readers - Happy Pasach! And sorry for the post about pork. My bad.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Shrimp and Sausage Po' Boy

Photo: Daily News
You may have recently seen your favorite blogger written up in the The New York Daily News with his Shrimp and Sausage Po' Boy Recipe. The article rightly focused on Grillin' On The Bay, New York's only sanctioned BBQ Contest, but they wanted a recipe from your's truly to give the piece a more human touch. They wanted something simple and not very complex. So on the morning of the photo shoot, I came up with a quick recipe for Shrimp and Sausage Po' Boys.

I thought my recipe was very straight forward and simple, but the powers that be at the Daily News proclaimed the original recipe far too complex for the average reader. They then claimed it was much too long for the allocated space in the paper. "You're giving me 6 inches. I can only handle 2." said Ben Chapman, the uncredited author of the news article. Leaving all sexual innuendo aside, we chopped up the recipe, changed ingredients and removed enough steps so that Ben could handle it. It didn't change the final product too much but the original is much better.

Since you're all barbecue cooks or aspiring barbecue cooks, I assume you can handle the true unedited, full of obscure and hard to find ingredients, uncensored recipe. Here's the real deal.
Photo of the original recipe courtesy of the New York Daily News.

Grilled Shrimp and Sausage Po' Boys (Serves 6)

  • 1lb sweet luganiga (Portuguese sausage) or your favorite link sausage
  • 1lb jumbo shrimp, cleaned and de-veined
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup limeaide
  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
  • Baby Lettuce
  • Mayonaise
  • Chopped sundried tomatoes in oil.
  • 6 - 6" crusty Italian rolls
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cooking Directions:

In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil and limeaide. When emulsified, whisk in the garlic, Old Bay, salt and pepper. Add shrimp. Marinate shrimp for one to two hours. Do not marinate for more than 2 hours or the acid in the limeaide will begin to cook the shrimp.

Prepare a charcoal fire. When the fire is hot, grill the sausage until cooked through, approximately 15 minutes. Set aside. Drain shrimp from marinade. Do not dry them. Grill shrimp until pink and opaque for approximately 3 minutes per side. Do not over cook.Set shrimp aside. Slice bread to open, grill bread approximately one minute.

To assemble the sandwich. Put mayo on one side of the roll. Top with baby lettuce. Cut sausage into slices. Alternatively place sausage and shrimp on the lettuce. Top with chopped sun dried tomatoes. Serve.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Barbecue - The Basics

Back in 1968 with The Beatles dissolving slowly and beginning the low and winding road to disbanding, Paul McCartney came up with the idea of the band reaching back to its roots. The plan was for the band to abandon the studio trickery and return to playing as a four man rock band, get back on the road and capture that magic feeling of sweet dreams that fueled their rise to stardom in the first place. Get back to where they once belonged.

 It didn't work for The Beatles, at least not as a band, but it did work for the four men as individuals.

But, I believe it's going to work for me, barbecue and this blog. I'm going back to where I once belonged. I'm going to take you with me. I'm not letting the lack of redesign stop me from posting anymore. I'm not going to let an old topic stop me from writing about it again. Looking back, some of the posts are over 6 years old. So even if I wrote about it in the past, I might cover it again. I must have learned something in all those years.

I'm going back to working on this blog when I'm in the mood to write and when I'm not. I've found in the past that the routine of writing is work at first, then discipline, then routine. The trick is to keep the routine from becoming banal, boring and tedious. But hell, I'm going to give it a shot. 

So, starting Monday, we're going back to basics. Wood. Fire. Meat. Spices. Sauce.Brines. Equipment. My witty jocular and droll writing. My attempts at video and photography. Maybe even some music when I'm in the mood. I bet you all can't wait. I know you like me. You really like me. 

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Any Road

Hi everyone. Yes, I'm still here and I still haven't finished the redesign of the blog. Who am I kidding? I haven't really started it. This year's been a very strange one for me and much of my life has been turned upside down. Of course this had to happen just as I announced I was redoing the blog! My timing was perfect.

So, right now I find myself in limbo. I'm not sure what's to come or where I'm going or even where I want to go anymore. There are so many things in flux. Relationships, residences, jobs, businesses, dreams, goals and hobbies. Friendships that seemed so solid are cracking. Is everyone only out for themselves? Or am I just hypercritical and overly sensitive right now? Why am I so willing to jettison life long relationships now? Why am I finding new relationships useless?

Nothing seems to satisfy anymore. Nothing seems to drive me right now. I'm going through the motions but the dance doesn't end, the tempo is a stately, stifling 4/4 -not even the beauty of a waltz.

But things are in flux - The barbecue gods appear to be smiling - or is it just a tease?

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