Life has changed quite a bit over the past couple of years and I haven’t found myself needing the capacity that the Backwoods Pro Jr affords me. Rather than have it sit unused, I decided to list it for sale to see if there was any interest.
Indeed there was, and I’m happy to say that the pit has a new home. The new owner picked it up recently and now I’m down to a single Big Green Egg as my only BBQ pit…for now.
If you’re a fan of smoked brisket, you’ve likely had burnt ends. I’ve had them, but frankly I usually don’t bother and simply slice up the point of the brisket along with the flat.
For the uninitiated, the brisket is made of 2 muscles. The flat is the leaner of the two, while the point has more fat. The grain of the two muscles run counter to one another and are joined by a seam of fat. Buying the whole brisket, or “packer cut”, can be intimidating to some as there is a significant layer of hard, white fat covering a good portion of the meat.
Typically, I will buy and cook the flat. The cost per pound is definitley more, but my family prefers the leaner cut and it takes a good amount of work to trim a packer cut before cooking. Nonetheless, I purchased a small packer cut brisket this past weekend and put it on the Big Green Egg on Sunday morning.
As the brisket was finishing up, I called an audible and decided to seperate the point and cut it into cubes. I placed these in a pan and hit them some of my rib sauce. I know, I know, rib sauce on brisket? Trust me, these were the best burnt ends I’ve done. And, I’ll definitely do them again.
Heck, maybe I’ll even start buying the packer cut from now on.
Today, I had to run a few errands with my bride and we found ourselves in a rural community that we don’t often visit, New Baden, IL. As we entered town, I spotted a BBQ Joint that I haven’t been to before. So, after we completed our errands, we circled back and had lunch there.
As we parked, I saw 2 Ole Hickory smokers under cover near the front door and there was a smell of hickory smoker in the air. Both, a very good sign.
Right off, I noticed a couple of very unique things about this joint. First, the counter was a converted off-set pit. I thought that was a very cool touch.
The other thing I noticed is a live feed of a video camera mounted directly over a butcher block table in the kitchen where they are slicing brisket, chopping pork shoulder, etc. I’ve never seen this in another BBQ joint and enjoyed watching the staff slice my brisket before brigning it out to my table.
All of this had my expectations pretty high. I ordered sliced brisket with a side of house chips, and my bride ordered her usual pulled pork sandwich and BBQ beans. At first glance, it all looked good. There was a nice smoke ring on the brisket and it had been trimmed enough that there was a just the right amount of fat along one side of the slices.
The BBQ was decent. The pulled pork was good, but a little bland. The brisket was tasty, but a little chewier than I prefer. The house chips weren’t much more than kettle cooked potatoe chips, and my wife described the BBQ beans as “the worst she had ever had”. In fairness, her comments reflect a personal bias. That is a bias against beans with an overpowering flavor of molasses and apple pie. They were unique and very sweet, but not my cup of tea either.
Here’s how I’d rate my trip to A Fine Swine in New Baden, IL.
BBQ – B
Side Dishes – C
Atmosphere – A
Value – B
Overall – B+
If you find yourself in the area, I would recommend you give them a try. i know I will the next time I find myself in New Baden.
I’ve been cooking on my Big Green Egg for about ten years now. During that time, I’ve gotten pretty good at managing my fire and creating pretty darned good BBQ using the Egg in it’s default configuration.
Over the past few months, I’ve begun to add a few upgrades. I replaced my cast iron daisy wheel with the Smokeware Vented Chimney Cap a few months ago. And most recently, I acquired the Kick Ash Basket for my firebox.
I ran into an issue recently where I did back to back cooks and needed to reload the BGE with fresh lump charcoal while it was still hot. Of course trying to knock the ash out of a hot cooker is tough to do. About that sime time, I came across the Kick Ash Basket and decided to give it a shot.
You can use this with or without the cast iron fire grate in the bottom of the firebox. So far, I’m still using the grate. But the beautiful thing here is being able to pick up the basket and give it a good shake to clear the ash out of the bottom of of the Egg. It sure beats stirring the old lump to knock the ash loose.
Since I’ve been using the Kick Ash Basket, I’ve noticed that my fire comes up to temp quicker as I’ve been able to remove the ash from the old lump chacrcoal more completely.
I’m really pleased with this aftermarket product and definitely consider it an upgrade. What upgrades have you made to your BGE? Drop me a note and let me know.
The buzz around the Bacon Explosion has died down a bit since it first became a thing a couple of years ago. I haven’t done one of these in awhile, but with the Daytona 500 coming up I thought I’d dust off this recipe and put it on the menu.
Just as a refresher, here is the process for building your very own Bacon Explosion.
First, create a weave of bacon strips. For this attempt, mine is 5×5.
I brushed lightly with sauce and rub before adding a layer of pork sausage.
In the middle, I snipped some pre-cooked bacon into pieces and added a little BBQ sauce.
Then roll the sausage into a log.
And, roll the weave around around sausage.
I cooked this one indirect at ~275* and hit with a little sauce to finish. Sliced it up and served it hot of the smoker!
I’ve seen variations on this recipe. Drop me a note and let me know how you’ve tweaked this to your liking.
I’m a big fan of trimming my brisket before cooking. This gives me a huge surface to apply seasoning and frankly I don’t like dealing with the fat on my brisket while eating it. I’ve been trimming my brisket now for a few years despite incurring a significant injury while doing so. See my previous post “How Not to Trim a Brisket“.
Rather than risk another injury like this, I jumped at a chance to acquire the new Qwik Trim Brisket Trimmer that promises to simplify the trimming process. I ordered it right away and received it just a few days before I needed to trim a couple of brisket flats for a party.
It’s really a pretty simple concept and protects the pitmater from the inadvertent slip of the trimming knife. I rinsed the brisket flats and was eager to get started.
You can see the concept in action in this photo. It turns out that it works great for the large, cold, hard fat on the underside of a brisket. However, it doesn’t work as well on the softer, thinner layers of fat. I trim both from my brisket, so I still had to use my trimming knife to get the end result that I prefer.
If you’re a pitmaster that likes to leave that thinner layer of fat on your brisket, then the Qwik Trim could be a good option for you. But, if you’re a fan of trimming all of the fat you’ll still have some work to do with a trimming knife.
My daughter is in the process of selecting an institution of higher learning, so that drew us to Nashville for a college visit. While the family enjoyed learning about some of the finer points of college dining halls, I discovered that Peg Leg Porker was only a short drive away. I excused myself from the cafeteria line and hit the road.
I’d seen a numer of photos from Carey’s social media sites, so I quickly recognized the place when I saw it. Located in an area of Nashville called The Gulch, Peg Leg Porker is in a trendy area of Southwest Nashville and a popualr destination for locals and college students.
Out front, Peg Leg Porker has a whole hog pit that they use on occassion and plenty of patio seating. Inside, the front wall is graced with a huge bar, TV’s, beer, and spirits, including Peg Leg Porker bourbon. But that’s a topic for another time. At the back of the place, a counter sits in front of the open kitchen. Like any good BBQ joint, the menu is simple and displayed above the register.
Being familiar with Peg Leg Porker, there was no doubt that I was having the dry ribs. So I ordered up a 1/2 a rack with a couple of sides, a glass of sweet tea, and settled down to enjoy me some Tennessee BBQ. And, I was not disappointed. The ribs were just the way I remembered them and my only regret is that I only ordered a 1/2 a rack.
When I finished, I bought a trucker hat with the Peg Leg Porker logo and headed back to meet up with the family. Carey was out of town this particular weekend, so we didn’t get a chance to reconnect. I did get a chance to talk with one of his crew that I’d met before.
I’m not sure how this college search will turn out, but I’m pulling for Belmont Unviversity. That would keep me in Nashville and good BBQ for the next 4 years!