My BBQ Space

For the past few years, I’ve cooked on a variety of pits at home. Each time, I’ve moved the pit from the garage to the edge of the driveway or onto the lawn. The benefit is that my BBQ Pits (I have more than one, doesn’t everybody?) are stored indoors. The downside, my cars are not.

So, I’ve decided that I’d like to get my cars in the garage. But, I didn’t really have a great place to keep the BBQ gear and I wasn’t sure about storing my gear outdoors. Recently, I took the first step in solving this problem and laid pavers behind the garage. So far, I couldn’t be happier with the result.  I’ve got 2 of 3 cars in the gargage and a dedicated space for cooking.  I’ve ordered a cover for my Big Green Egg and table and I’m about to order one for my Backwoods cooker.

IMG_2095

Some time in the future, I could see a cover on this space.  But that’s a blog post for another day and at a time when the finances could support something more.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Review: Ro-Man Pork Puller

while ago, I wrote about a prototype pork puller that I created based on a product that I’d seen on the web.  My DIY pork puller worked okay, but the materials weren’t all that substation.  I used a rotissiere rod and clamp from a Weber gas grill inserted into a cordless drill.  While that worked fine for light use at home, it just didn’t hold up over time.

This is my DIY version

I considered building another one on my own but considering the investment had already made and the cost to do it again, I decided that I’d just spring for the product that my design was based on, the Ro-Man Pork Puller.

To clarify, Santa Claus brought me the Pork Puller and I’ve used it all spring.  Now that I’ve had a chance to evaluate it extensively, I thought I’d document my observations.

The significantly more substantial Ro-Man Pork Puller

In short, this thing is WAY better than my DIY model.  The stainless stell tines and the disk that they are welded too are significantly sturdier than my rotissiere based model.  The shaft that is inserted into a cordless drill is also substantial, and it’s long enough to easily reach to the bottom of a large stock pot.

Is it worth $68.95?  Well, I’ll answer that a couple of ways.  If you cook a lot of pulled pork and have to pull more than 2 at a time, then absolutley.  Secondly, you’re talking to a guy that spent $90 on a quick read thermometer.  I’ve spent this much money on lesser products, that’s for sure.  For me, it as well worth the investment and believe that I’ve gotten my money’s worth just using it for the graduation parties that I cooked for this spring.

Check out the videos and links over at http://www.porkpuller.com and pick one up for yourself.  

Cheers,
Braddog

Reaffirming the Big Green Egg

I still love cooking on my Big Green Egg.  Sure, I cook on a large capacity, cabinet-style smoker when I need the capacity.  But I’ve recently cooked on my Egg a little more than usual, and I’m reminded how much I like this rig.

Anyway, here are a few shots of the world’s best grill and smoker that I’ve captured over the years.

2007 05 27 010
20090127_0401

Cheers,
Braddog 

Ribs on a Medium Big Green Egg

I’ve cooked on a large Big Green Egg for nearly 7 years.  I’ve also had the opportunity to cook on an XL a few times at Grillfest when I’ve done the Big Green Egg demos for the local dealer.  But until recently, I’d never cooked on one of the smaller Eggs.

Over Thanksgiving, we made our annual trip to Pittsburgh.  My Brother-in-law recently scored a medium Egg off of Craigslist, so while we were visiting I had the chance fire it up for a side of ribs.

Here are my observations about cooking on the Medium vs. my Large.

  • I can lay 3 sides of baby back ribs flat across the cooking grate on my large.  You certainly can’t do that on the medium.  
  • I’m not sure you could cook overnight without refilling the charcoal.  A full load of Royal Oak lump only burned for ~5 hours (I grilled pork tenderloing when the ribs came off)
  • It sure seemed like the medium cooked ribs quicker than my large.
  • It was cold, but it felt like I had the vents open wider than I’m used to on the large to maintain a 250 dome temp.

There were no complaints with the finished product, but given my choice I’d prefer a large Egg for most things.  However, I admit that I may be biased by my familiarity with the large.

What about you?  Ever cooked on the other size Eggs?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you though of your experince.

Cheers,

Braddog

Recipe: Grilled Pork Tenderloin Appetizer

Awhile back, we attended a social gathering where they served drinks and appetizers.  One of the appetizers was toasted baquette pieces topped with a small piece of beef and horseradish.  I filed that away as something that I wanted to try to put a BBQ spin on.

IMG_3426

So last Saturday night, I had a chance to do just that.  I grilled a couple of pork tenderloin on Saturday morning.  I then wrapped them and placed them into the refrigerator to chill.  It’s much easier to slice them thin when they are chilled than it is when they are warm.

IMG_3448

I then placed a piece of tenderloin on toasted baguettes, and topped each with a slice of a Harvati Dill cheese that my bride is fond of.  They make a great finger food and were a big hit at the gathering that we took them to.

IMG_3446

Feel free to experiment with this.  I think these would be good with a dollop of a spicy or flavored mustard or something simialr as well.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Operation Hickory Smoke IV

It started a couple of years ago. A good friend of mine asked if I had room on the smoker for some pork butts to feed some of the guys at Scott Air Force Base during a fall exercise. I did, so we sent some BBQ to the base for the team. Four years later, it’s become a standing order and we’ve jokingly named the event “Operation: Hickory Smoke”.

Every fall, we send some BBQ to the folks involved in this exercise. This year I was able to visit the team and participate in the delivery. It was pretty cool to meet a few of the folks who were going to enjoy the meal. I also received a nice note from one of the officers.

Veteran’s Day may be next week, but I’m honored to have shown my appreciation in a small way with this annual event. To the team working the exercise and all those who serve or have served, I say thank you. 

Cheers,

Braddog

Tip: Freeze the Scraps

If you’re a serious backyard BBQ cook like me, you probably cook at home.  In my neighborhood garbage pickup only happens once a week, and to make it worse it’s on Friday.  That means this time of year, rib or brisket trimmings can sit in a garbage can in 90 degree heat for an entire week before the trash truck comes.  Trust me, they can get pretty ripe in that time.

So I picked up this tip from some folks I know who are serious boaters.  They have much the same problem when trying to manage garbage while underway for a few days at a time.  It turns out, that all you need to do is make room in your freezer for the garbage that is likely to spoil or smell before it can be disposed of.

I’ve taken to double (or triple) bagging the trimmings and storing them in the extra refrigerator in my garage.  Works like a champ, and now all I have to do is remember to put them in garbage on trash day.  

cheers,

Braddog

Que-for-a-Cause

A couple of months ago, we became aware of a tough situation that a friend of one our church members was going through.  My wife and I donated BBQ to a fundraising event by way of a silent auction item called “BBQ Feast for 20 People”.  Apparently the item was popular and brought a sizeable donation.

Untitled

This weekend, it was time to honor my end of the deal and cook for the auction winner who was hosting a party.  I had committed to ribs, pulled pork, and pit beans for the event.  So I was up early and cooking for a 6:00pm delivery time.

In the meantime, I had become aware of a couple of families who’d lost loved ones or were otherwise going through a rough patch.  So with plenty of room to spare on the cooker and blessed with the means, we set about making food one less thing for some of these folks to worry about.

Untitled

I’ve said this before; I don’t compete or cater.  But I do get some personal satisfaction from seeing others enjoy the results.  This is compounded further when I can help someone who needs a little “BBQ Pick-me-Up”.

Thanks to my friends and family for the assitane this weekend.  I’m always ready to “Que-for-a-Cause”.

Cheers,

Braddog

On the 7th Day…there was BBQ

My family and I are blessed to be part of a growing, thriving church.  Christ Church in Fairview Heights, IL has grown beyond the capacity of it’s real estate and has begun to sprout new churches in the Metro East area of St. Louis.  Our satellite campus in Millstadt, IL recently held a church picnic and I was honored to be able to prepare the BBQ for the event.

They expected 80 for luch, I planned for 100, and we probably had closer to 70.  Not to worry, I always travel with zip lock bags so folks can leave with a doggy bag.  Heck, I even got to bring some home and feed my own family.

In any event, I fired up the big cooker on Saturday night for pork butts, chuck roasts, and my pit beans.  After an all night cook, I had eveything ready around 9:00am.  I even fired up the charcoal grill and roasted some hot dogs since I figured some of the kids might prefer that (I was right).

I had everything setup at the park when church let out shortly after 11:00.  Folks seemed to enjoy the food, and I felt blessed by their compliments and for the opportunity to cook for my church family.  

God is good, all the time.

Cheers,
Braddog

Review: Sugarfire Smokehouse – St. Louis, MO

I’m not a huge fan of chain restaurants, even if they are BBQ joints. Which is why I had not noticed that the Dickey’s BBQ near my office had suddenly been converted to Sugarfire Smokehouse. I figured it was a good sign that they always seemed to be busy at lunch time. In fact, too busy for me to try the place. But this weekend, I happened by there just after they opened and was finally able to try it out.

I was encouraged by the Ole Hickory smoker sitting on the patio right by the front door. Thats an odd place for your pit, but I’ve eaten some really food BBQ out of one of those pits, so i took it as another good sign. There a few remnants of the former Dickey’s, but I was encouraged to see the place rearranged with the kitchen in full view and lots of employees busily prepping for the lunch crowd.

Like a lot of classic BBQ joints, the menu was written in chalk at the order station. That’s not a bad thing, unless you use a lot of unique names for your menu items. There’s no place on the chalkboard to describe what a “Big Muddy” sand which is for example.

Nonetheless, I ordered up the 2 meat platter and watched as the guy at the counter pulled out a large tray covered with butcher paper and piled on pulled pork and freshly sliced brisket. Down the cafeteria-style line I went, adding bbq beans and hand cut fries to my meal. And like any self respecting BBQ joint, sweet tea completed my order.

I grabbed a seat at one of the tables left over from the days as a Dickey’s franchise and eyed the four bottles of clearly homemade sauces that seem to be a requirement for any BBQ joint these days. I got what I expected from the Texas Hot, Sweet BBQ, & White Sauces. But I cautiously tried the “Cherry” sauce as indicated (as they all were) by the handwritten masking tape label. Let me just say that I hope that’s not a regular sauce and just an experiment, cause it was not good.

Other than my dislike of the Cherry sauce, I didn’t find another thing that wasn’t good. The pork & brisket were moist and tender, the bark was tasty, and the sides were very good. The portions were very generous, and I found the meal to be a good value overall.

Here’s how I’d rate my visit to Sugarfire Smokehouse:

BBQ – A

Side Dishes –

Atmosphere – B-

Value – A-

Overall – A

I keep a list of the best BBQ joints in St Louis. Since I’m the resident BBQ snob among my friends & family, I’m often asked where to get good BBQ. Sugarfire Smokehouse just made the short list. If you’re interested, here’s their particulars:

Sugarfire Smokehouse
http://www.sugarfiresmokehouse.com
9200 Olive Blvd.
Olivette, MO 63132
St. Louis, MO, USA

Business Hours:
11am – 9PM Daily

Cheers,
Braddog