I have a friend at church who competes on the BBQ circuit. He typically mans the grill when the United Methodist Men (UMM) meet during the summer. Last month, after a succesful meal of grilled pork steaks, the guys decided they’d like to have ribs at the next meeting.
Well, that turned into a two man job. We decided that we would take the day off and plan to cook at the church. We also decided to press my Backwoods Pro Jr into service. Paul and I moved my cooker to church that morning and he trimmed the spare ribs down to St Louis style ribs while I put together 2 pans of my “magic” beans.
Paul uses Code 3 spices when he competes, so we decided to use them for this cook as well. We roughly followed his competition process, which means we wrapped the ribs in foil with brown sugar and butter, then finished them out of the foil and glazed them with sauce.
We also decided to do the rib tips at the same time, following the same process. It’s a good thing we did. We had a great turn out.
Here are a few shots of the finished product.
Everyone enjoyed the meal and fellowship. Next month, we’re frying fish!
Seems like we often go to casual gatherings where we take a dish. I’ve gotten tired of the same old thing, so I looked for a way to do something a little different while still cooking outside.
Enter, Chicken Sliders. This was pretty simple. I simply bought thin sliced chicken breasts at the lcoal grocery store. I cut each in half and hit them liberally with Plowboy’s Yardbird rub. I grilled a pound of bacon and then grilled the chicken. I placed the chicken along with a couple of strips of bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese on Hawaiian rolls to serve.
Here’s the process. First, I grilled a pound of bacon. Next, I grilled the half chicken breasts that were sliced thin.
And finally, I assmebled the sliders with a slice of cheddar cheese, a couple of strips of bacon, and half a chicken breast on a Hawaiian roll.
A couple of things that I’ll do differently next time. First, I think I’ll use a tenderizer mallet to flatten the chicken breasts a little mroe. I also think that the slider would benefit from some other condiment. BBQ Sauce, mayo, etc.
Other than those few tweaks, this was a success and I’ll be doing this again.
I caught a wiff of wood smoke while I was still more than a block away, and my mouth began to water. You see, I’ve never eaten BBQ in Texas so this opportunity to eat at Hill Country BBQ in New York City was as close as I’ve been.
When work took me to the city, I began to scout for one of the BBQ joints that have sprung up there that I’ve read about. Then, I realized that Hill Country BBQ was only a dozen or so blocks from where I was staying. Immediately, I began to plot a night to myself when I could make the walk for dinner.
Hill Country BBQ is a tribute to the central Texas markets that began serving BBQ over the counter, by the pound, wrapped in butcher paper, and served with saltine crackers. Just like those markets turned BBQ joints, Hill Country serves the BBQ the same way; over the counter and by the pound.
The meat counter at Hill Country BBQ
The menu consisted not only of beef, but also pork, chicken, and sausage from Kreuz Market in Texas. At Hill Country, you order your meat at the counter and specify the amount (by weight) that you’d like or in the case of ribs, how many bones. I opted for 1/3 lb. of lean brisket (that’s cut from the brisket flat, but you can also order “moist” brisket cut from the point) and a single pork rib. They cut the meat, weighed it on a butcher scale, wrapped it in brown butcher paper, and handed it over with a half sleeve of saltines.
Then, I headed over to the counter where they served sides. Sweet Potato Bourbon Mashed caught my eye so I ordered that and a side of green bean casserole. The server was at my table when I got there and my order was complete with a glass of sweet tea.
I’ll cut to the chase and say that the food was excellent. In fact, this is probably the best brisket (from a restaurant anyway) that I’ve eaten. The pork rib was pretty good. A little tougher than I expected but it had a great flavor. And the sides? Fuggetaboutit! I could go back and just eat side items. The sweet potato dish was amazing, and I loved the comfort food style green beans. There were plenty of other sides as well as desserts, but frankly I can’t eat that much.
Really, the only negative comment I have about my experience at Hill Country BBQ is the cost. I mean, I know I was eating in New York City, but brisket at $26/lb? That seems excessive. While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, my dinner (for only me) was ~$39. That’s with nothing from the bar or dessert.
So here’s how I’d rate Hill Country BBQ:
BBQ – A
Side Dishes – A
Atmosphere – A
Value – C
Service – A
Overall – A-
No doubt about it, this is one of the best BBQ joints I’ve eaten at. Frankly, I didnt’ expect that to be the case. If you get to New York, here’s where you can find Hill Country BBQ:
30 West 26th Street New York, NY 10010
They also have locations in Brooklyn and Washington, DC.
Over the past few months, I’ve been reading about this technique on the interwebs. I’ve tried wrapping my brisket in foil before, but frankly I prefer to cook it unwrapped. Now keep in mind, I’m not cooking for competitions or trying to cook a brisket in a short amount of time (usually). However, there are times when I’d sure like to be able to do one in less than 12 hours.
So this past weekend, I decided that I would cook one brisket on Saturday using the butcher paper method. If that was successful, I’d cook one on Sunday morning for my annual Daytona 500 gathering. If it wasn’t successful, I’d still have time to cook one overnight on the Big Green Egg. Seemed like a reasonable plan, all except for the $45 practice brisket.
In general, wrapping your brisket (or ribs, etc) after a couple of hours helps the meat finish sooner. There is some science behind this around how connective tissues break down etc, but frankly if you’re reading this because you’re looking for the science behind the process you should stop now and move along to another blog.
Most often, you’ll see folks wrap brisket in foil. But recently the notion of wrapping in butcher paper has become popular. Part of the theory is that the paper provides the same benefit in terms of helping the meat finish sooner, without the braising effect of foil.
So, I prepped my brisket:
Cooked indirect at 325 degrees for 4 hours
At 4 hours, I wrapped in butcher paper. Didn’t check temp, but wrapped when the bark had the right “look” and placed the brisket back on the cooker.
I probed the brisket through the paper and when I thought it felt tender and the temp was 200 degrees plus, I pulled it. Total cook time was about 6 hours.
Here’s the brisket as I unwrapped it:
The results? It just wasn’t’ tender enough. You could say that I should have cooked it longer. Maybe, but it was also dry and if I’d cooked it longer it would have been even drier.
So the jury is still out for me. I don’t think this is a viable option for the Big Green Egg. I’ll try it again on the Backwoods Smoker and see if different cookers have different results. Stay tuned for more.
BBQ joints seem to be opening every other week in my area. Recently, Beast Craft BBQ opened up in the location of a former diner. I’ve been anxious to try it out, and today I finally had a chance.
A friend and I agreed to meet for lunch at 11:30. The parking lot was pretty full when we arrived and when we went inside, the line was 20+ people long and there were no empty tables. I figured this was a good sign. However, nearly every table in one of the dining areas were waiting for their food and the line hardly moved. In fact, more than a few potential customers in line behind and ahead of us chose to go elsewhere based on the slow service.
All that aside, how was the BBQ? Pretty darned good. I had the brisket sandwich and hand cut fries, while my lunch mate had the pulled pork sandwich and corn on the cob. All the items were very tasty. The brisket sandwich was served with grilled onions and a house mustard. The pulled pork was served with slaw on the sandwich (as it should be).
Brisket Sandwich with Hand-cut Fries
Pulled Pork Sandwich w/Slaw & Grilled Corn
Beast Craft is bucking one of the most common trends in BBQ joints these days. There was “1”, count ’em, “1” bottle of BBQ sauce on the table. And, it was very good. In fact, it might be my favorite part of the meal. I saw no evidence that they’re bottling and selling this sauce, but they should.
I also like that they are selling soft drinks from a local bottler and not the big guys. However, no self-respecting BBQ joint should ever sell sweet tea that is mango flavored. That’s just wrong.
If they can address their customer flow and service issues (and lose the mango flavored tea), I believe that they’ll do just fine. Here’s my report card for my visit to Beast Craft BBQ:
It’s playoff time in the NFL and that means I have a lot of chances to get together with friends for football on the weekends. I don’t do this all that much during the regular season, but after the holidays it seems like folks aren’t as busy and we enjoy getting together.
But I digress. I get tired of the same old snacks that I’ve done for gatherings like this. So, I was looking for something different when I came upon a reference to bacon-wrapped chicken bites. Sounded good to me, so I gave it a shot on Sunday.
I cubed 2 large chicken breasts and wrapped each cube in a half a strip of bacon. I then rolled them in brown sugar and hit them with a little bit of spicey rub. That’s all there was to it.
I fired up the Big Green Egg and set it up for indirect cooking. However, I ran the temp up to about 350 degrees. The chicken cooked for 45 minutes to an hour. The only problem I had was judging the doneness of the chicken, as I couldn’t really see the chicken through the bacon.
There are a couple of things I’ll do differently next time. First, I won’t panic and switch to direct cooking half-way through. That was a mistake (and why there are no “after” photos). Second, I think a little more brown sugar and a little more heat would be good. I will try to punch up the flavor next time for sure.
Conference championships are coming up this weekend so you’ve got time to perfect your game time grub before the Superbowl. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to cook for the big game.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.