Premier issue! Interview with Top Chef's Kevin Gillespie, holiday entertaining and gifts and a whole lot more.
Holiday Gifts – BBQ Tis the season of giving... So what do you get your ultimate bbq fan? There are lots of really great gifts on the market from 4.99 and up. It is amazing how many tech type of gifts have now come on the market. Here are some suggestions to make your gift giving for the BBQ and grill lover a whole lot easier. Webers On the Grill Application Weber’s On the Grill™ features 250 classic Weber recipes plus 40 recipes for rubs, marinades, and sauces that are sure to get you fired up to get out and grill. You can tag your favorites, and even create a master grocery list for your grilling recipes that you can take with you to the store. There’s a timer within the app, too, so you know exactly when to take your food off the grill. www.weber.com Traeger Junior For the pellet head – Traeger has the new Junior model. With 292 square inches, it has an optional tailgating kit which is really cool it can go right on a plastic table or the back of your truck without burning! Weighing in at only 76 lbs its easily portable. Comes with their Auto-start and E-Z drain grease system. www.traegergrills.com Lodges Cast Iron Sportsman Grill Want a portable heavy duty grill that will last a lifetime. This is it. Lodge’s Sportsman’s Grill The Grill Surface measures , 17-1/4" x 9" It has a neat fold down door and a draft door so refilling and maintaining fire control are easy. www.lodgemfg.com Thermapen - New splash proof Thermapens have long been favoured by competitive BBQ’ers for their reliability plus fast accurate temperature control. They have now taken it up a notch with the water resistant model. I would highly recommend the red one. Everyone knows it is the MOST accurate. www.thermoworks.com 7 Great lakes BBQ Supply Sauces Rubs and a whole lot more make up this great site to stock up on favourites for the BBQ’er in your life. New rubs and sauces make a great gift . www.greatlakesbbqsupply.com Butchers BBQ Injection Kit Some of the most award winning teams including this years past American Royal Invitational winner use Butchers BBQ injections. They offer gift certificates and their award winning injections and rubs on their website. www.butcherbbq.com BBQ Aprons & Recipe Binders You can customize Have a funny slogan or saying want something more personal for the special BBQ’er in your life then Zazzle is the place for you. They can customize lots of things but our top picks are their aprons and recipe binders to hold those super secret BBQ recipes. www.zazzle.com Huntingdon Custom Classic Grates Add some custom bling to the grill of your choice with this website. Terrific custom metal work by this company. This is where the grates themselves become works of art. They can even customize a trailer hitch for you. http://huntingdoncountycustoms.com/ Aluminum Pizza Peel http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000VBSSKC Great multitasker. Good for taking off pizzas, and also for taking butts and briskets off. Zyliss Silicone Basting Brush http://www.amazon.com/DKB-50525-Silicone-Basting-Brush/dp/B000P9VKPU The Sauce actually does stick to these due to the design. Easy to use and easy to clean up. Smoke Stix BBQ’ers Delight Everyone could use a little more smoke !!! These are awesome to get the results you need! http://www.bbqrsdelight.com/whatsnew.html The Stoker This device for a variety of BBQ’s allows you a lot of control similar to an oven. Managing air the device “stokes” your fire. You can even hook it up to your twitter account. www.rocksbarbque.com 8 Cyber Q II Techies – this one is for you. Technology and BBQ are combined together with this cool gadget ! http://secure.thebbqguru.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=289 BBQ Classes For the Ultimate in gifts for learning more about BBQ why not sign someone up (maybe even yourself) for one of these terrific classes held by Award winning pitmasters: Pellet Envy – Rod Gray Rod Gray is an acclaimed BBQ Champion. He has won contests all over the US on both his Geer Pit and his FE. Many people who have taken his class have gone on to win championships of their own. www.pelletenvy.com Lotta Bull – Mike & Debbie Davis Lotta Bull U does a lot of great classes. This terrific Championship award winning husband and wife team hold them regularly. You can even book a VIP class with only 4 people. www.lottabullbbq.com NBBQA Conference This conference held annually in various locations throughout the USA covers a lot of topics from BBQ marketing to offering tours at local BBQ joints. This year’s location is Memphis. Additionally the man in black himself Myron Mixon of the Pitmasters series on The Learning Channel (see page XX) will be offering up a one day class. www.nbbqa.org Danielle Dimovski 9 The Pitmasters on TLC Is the inherent drama of competition BBQ appealing to the public at large? The ever growing attendance at competitions would lend credence to that school of thought. The Food Network with their seasonal specials seems to think so. This very magazine is partially built on that premise. Is that interest enough to support a reality show about pitmasters and their craft? TLC will soon learn the answer to that question. They are rolling the dice on a new eight episode series starring some big names on the circuit. Although there is a need for oversized personalities to generate drama and stir up a bit of controversy, I believe that the show puts too much emphasis on histrionics. The competitors who are the focus of the show all seem to be pigeonholed into a certain archetype. The skilled woman fighting for respect in a male dominated arena, the old lion out to show that he can still compete with the best of them and the brash young upstart with more moxie than skill are clichés that we can do without. In spite of occasionally reducing the competitors involved to characters from central casting, the show is an unabashed success. The viewers are able to see a brief glimpse of the competitor’s home life and then it is time to pack up and travel to the competition. Once onsite, the show takes you behind the scenes and presents a reasonable, if not detailed, overview of what the competitors go through. John Markus, operating under the nom de plume of ‘Johnny Smokes’, offers the viewer concise details on the motivations and processes of the competitors and the competition structure. If you aren’t familiar with competition BBQ, this show will offer an excellent introduction. For those of us who are comfortable in the environs, it is strangely satisfying to see something we are passionate about being celebrated. One thing that most competitors can agree upon is that featured pitmaster Tuffy Stone is one of the friendliest gentlemen you could meet. Tuffy’s team is Cool Smoke BBQ and he is the owner of A Sharper Palette and Q Barbeque. Mr. Stone was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions and share his thoughts. Other TLC Competitors: Harry Soo Paul Petersen Myron Mixon Johnny Trigg Leeann Wooden Jamie Geer 10 Smoke Signals - How did you get involved with BBQ Pitmasters? I was called by John Markus, while I was at a contest cooking by myself in Dillard,Georgia. John asked me if he could send a crew down to Richmond, Virginia the following week to film me. I said yes. That Tuesday they filmed for 5 hours to be used as part of a sizzle reel. They pitched the show on Friday and shortly after I was asked to be a part of the show. SS - The first show focuses on a small group of competitors. Are these same people followed through all 8 episodes? The 8 episodes cover 7 pitmasters for the most part. I expect that there will be some inclusion of other cooks in the shows and that the presence of the 7 main pitmasters will vary from one episode to another. They shoot around 150 hrs and trim it to 44 minutes. SS â€“ Of the group of pitmasters shown in episode one, you seem to have brought the lone congenial voice to the table. Is that the role that you were asked to fulfill? My character, as it was explained to me, is the "Professor". John Markus said I could talk about wood and smoke for hours. I do spend a lot of time thinking about barbeque and experimenting. SS - What do you hope the viewers will take from the series? My hope for this show is that will give the world a real look at what we do every weekend. That it will show the passion and craft of cooking BBQ. That it will let the world know about this really great thing we all enjoy doing and the great people who do it. This is a large group of people, from all over with diverse backgrounds. This group consists of thousands of people. I hope this will be a really positive alternative show to watch on TV. SS - What is your favorite memory from the show? Many great memories, but Jamie Geer really made me laugh at the Big Pig Jig. BBQ Pitmasters can be seen on TLC on Thursdays, 10:00 pm EST. 11 Just What Is a Barbecue Competition? The Sensuosity of Barbecue In one sense, a barbecue competition is simple to define: it is a weekend event in which amateur barbecue teams haul their smokers and their dreams to a common site where they smoke meat and compete for prizes, following the rules set by the governing barbecue society. But there are so many other senses to consider! The sights at a barbecue competition are a colorful razzle dazzle of booths and smokers, pennants and banners and team tee-shirts in every color imaginable. Contests are often fundraisers for Rotary clubs, charities, or nonprofit groups, so contest organizers may include an array of food vendors, children’s amusements and crafts areas. The barbecue teams are clustered together, with a clear path to the table where they turn in their entries and to the judges’ tent. smells: the rich and amber smell of beer, the sweet-salt smell of kettle corn. For the twitching noses of the barbecue judges alone, there is the infinite variety of barbecued meat smells. The tastes at a barbecue competition are many for the casual visitor, but the certified barbecue judges get to taste chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket smoked with different woods, rubbed with different secret mixtures of sugar, herbs, spices, and peppers, and mopped with special sauces of unimaginable variety. The sounds at a barbecue competition are cacophonous: carnies calling out their wares, children squealing, food vendors shouting orders, laughing and boisterous joking. The unmistakable howl of “Bar-bee-cueeeeee!” tells the barbecue cognoscenti that a certain team is present and turning in an entry. The Competition No two events are the same, of course. But this is what a typical weekend looks like. The barbecue teams and the contest representatives arrive on Friday night. Each barbecue team has been assigned a site and has been provided with power and other amenities. The contest reps call a cooks meeting to review the rules. The meat is inspected to make sure that no meat has been prepared off site and that all meat meets health and safety standards. The cooks then turn in early for a long and peaceful night’s sleep. Just kidding! The smells of a barbecue competition are nothing short of intoxicating! The smell of the smoke makes my heart race, makes me swoon. With many smokers chugging away, I like to stand still, close my eyes, and savor the sheer pleasure of the moment. There are other wonderful Saturday’s competition is often a grilling competition. The categories vary from event to event, but may include steak, pork chops, chicken wings, seafood, sausage and dessert. The certified judges arrive in the morning for the judges meeting, are assigned seats, and 12 listen to the contest reps present the rules. Each entry is scored for its appearance, taste, and texture or tenderness. Each category has a specific turn-in time. Team members have a ten-minute timeframe within which to turn in their entries in boxes provided by the contest reps. Cooks, in their team colors, run or saunter to the turn-in table with their entries. The boxes are coded so that judges cannot know the identity of who prepared what meat. Judges quietly proceed to taste, taste, taste and score each entry. Let me tell you, it is one great gig! After the last turn-in, cooks relax for a bit, attend the boisterous awards ceremony, and await meat inspection for the Sunday event. Once the meat is inspected, cooks assiduously season their meats for the next day. They turn in early (not true) because they won’t be getting a full night’s sleep (very true). Brisket and pork go into the smoker way before dawn. Ribs and chicken enter the smoker in the morning. For cooks, Sunday morning moves in fits of frenzied activity, followed by coffee in a lounger. There is often a special breakfast for these barbecue buffs. But no one lingers; all minds are on the smokers, which need some tending, some magic and incantation. We judges reappear Sunday morning wearing our official judges’ shirts and with hearty appetites. There is another judges’ meeting. Today’s event is serious and follows a rigid sequence and set of rules. Chicken is turned in at 12 noon, ribs are turned in at 12:30, pork at 1, and brisket at 1:30. The rules dictate cut of meat, preparation, and presentation. Judges eat, cooks wait, the contest reps tally scores. The barbecue aficionados at the awards ceremony are excited, loud, and very supportive of one another. Teams can win trophies and prize money. Teams accrue points and rankings. And teams can win invitations to compete in the allimportant Jack Daniels (“The Jack”) and American Royal, among other invitation-only. The barbecue teams clean, pack up, and go home, already planning for their next competition. The judges go home full. Everyone goes home knowing that they cannot stop themselves from returning, again and again, to this addictive passion, this sensuous celebration, this glorious bit of Americana, this barbecue. April Schanoes 13 Product Review 3 Eyz Original BBQ Spice Rub Available at various retail outlets throughout the United States and also at: www.3eyzbbq.com/ 6 OZ shaker- $6.00 1 lb bag- $12.00 Rating system1 Star- Not recommended, below normal expectations. 2 Star- Adequate, room for improvement. 3 Star- Does the job, average, middle of the road. 4 Star- Good stuff, better than some. 5 Star- Exceptional quality, tops in its field. Dan, Jason and the gang over at 3 Eyz have been around the KCBS competition circuit since 2005. During that time they have won numerous awards including 4 Grand Championships. The rub that they sell has also been busy on the competition circuit, racking up its own wins placing 1st in 2009 and 2nd in 2008 at the Great American BBQ rub competition in Kansas City. Other folks dining on foods I have made using this rub have also enjoyed the results. I find that this product is a good “all round” rub to have in the pantry when you are looking for something to “kick the flavor up a notch”. I have even added 3 Eyz Rub while making crab cakes and gotten some really great reviews. I was told the rub was developed for pork products, but I have used the rub on all meats and veggies in the home kitchen and found it to be very versatile. The shaker bottle will also tell you the product is very tasty on a variety of meats including beef, chicken and seafood. The rub is made in small batches and there are no anti-caking agents or MSG added during the process. As far as use on the competition circuit, 3 Eyz BBQ is currently ranked 5th in the Country on the KCBS web site for pork ribs. This past October, they took 5th place in ribs at the Jack Daniels World Championship held in Lynchburg Tennessee. Pitmaster Dan Hixon will tell you he uses his 3 Eyz Original Rub when preparing his ribs in competition. For me, that speaks volumes. I have personal knowledge that several other teams on the circuit are using this rub and also producing favorable results. I find, while tasting the rub in its raw form right out of the shaker, it has sweetness initially, followed by a hint of garlic. There is also a very mild delayed kick, which I sometimes supplement with a dash of additional cayenne if I am looking for an attention getter. Out of the bottle, the heat is just right and can be adjusted accordingly if desired. In conclusion, I find the 3 Eyz rub to be an excellent rub for use around the home and also out on the competition trail. It can be used on a variety of products and enhances the flavor on most anything it is applied to. Rating- 5 Star 14 Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Dan Hixon Pitmaster 3 Eyz BBQ Team Not everybody has a smoker, so here is a kitchen version of pulled pork from Pitmaster Dan. Take one 6-9 lb Boston Butt or Pork Picnic and trim off most of the outer fat layer. Coat generously with 3 Eyz BBQ Rub. Place the meat in a crock pot with a can of your favorite beer and some water (enough to cover the meat about 1/3 of the way). Add about a cup of minced onions (suggest dried). Cook the pork for 12-14 hours on low. Drain off all the liquid, pull the bone out (it will slide out). Pull and shred the pork, removing any remaining fat (even a spoon will shred it at this point) and add as much BBQ sauce as you want. If you want a smoky flavor add a teaspoon of liquid smoke or a Âź teaspoon smoked paprika. What more flavor? Just add some more 3 Eyz Rub to taste. Serve on hamburger rolls with Cole Slaw. If you have a product that you would like to have reviewed please contact me at email@example.com George Hensler 15 Campfire Cooking Holiday Gift Ideas There is nothing more primal than building a fire with your bare hands and then cooking a meal over the live flames and scorching coals. The sizzling sound of a thick steak hitting a red hot grate over a bed of coals or the slow bubble and boil of a Dutch oven full of steamy, aromatic chili just simmering away does wonders for the senses and the appetite too! While many have transformed this form of cooking into a precise and “smokey” science, a novice can just as easily create a flame kissed meal with the help of a few simple tools. A quick internet search will easily pull up numerous results to help an individual get on their way to taming the flame and cooking a succulent outdoor meal! My online search led me to the Lodge Manufacturing, Co. “Founded in 1896 by Joseph Lodge, this company is the oldest family owned cookware foundry in America.” It’s also a great place to search for some holiday gift ideas. A must have for any outdoor cooking enthusiast should be a camp Dutch oven. Dutch ovens allow the user to go from deep frying breaded catfish to stewing and roasting Texas style chili and whole chickens and even baking a blueberry 20 cobbler, as well. The simplest of Dutch ovens are made from cast iron while fancier models are even porcelain coated. They also range in size from a petite 1 quart capacity/7” diameter models up to 12 quart/16” diameter behemoths! One quart models list for a reasonable $43.95 plus applicable tax and shipping charges while the larger capacity, 12 quart, model goes for $174.95. While this is no small chunk of change, keep in mind that if cared for properly, your Dutch oven will probably outlast you! The most common size is the 8 quart/12” diameter oven. It can easily perform all of the intended uses and makes for easy storage and portability. Cast iron requires specific care to keep rust at bay so be sure to follow the recommendations for care and cleaning. Two recommended accessories for any Dutch oven are heavy duty leather gloves and a lid lifter. A lid lifter provides a safe way to manipulate the oven’s heavy lid and retails for $14.95 on Lodge’s website. A thick, heavy duty pair of Dutch oven gloves or even welder’s gloves are advised to keep your hands safe. A basic pair through Lodge will set you back a modest $20.95. In addition to a Dutch oven, another necessary piece of equipment is a portable, collapsing campfire cooking grate. An item search for “medium campfire cooking grate” on the brandsonsale.com’s website will reveal a very nice cooking grate listed at $30.99 plus the applicable sales tax and shipping charges. A sturdy grate will not only allow you to grill over your fire but will also provide a much needed platform for items such as your Dutch oven, a skillet, or a simple pot of coffee. Lastly, a few other basic implements, which you may already have in your home or kitchen drawer, would be an ordinary garden shovel which comes in handy for moving around hot coals, positioning burning logs, and for extinguishing the fire once you are all done. Finally, a good set of utensils with long handles such as tongs, spoons and a good sized ladle are also nice tools to have at the ready. As a final safety note, remember to always practice safety when cooking with fire and have an extinguisher or even a big bucket of water on hand in case you need it. So with the holidays approaching, get out there and get yourself or a loved one on the way toward primal cooking perfection. In the holiday spirit, here’s to some smoke in your eyes and new outdoor cookware under your tree. Cheers and Happy Holidays! Information courtesy of: Lodge Manufacturing Co. @ www.lodgemfg.com Brands on Sale @ www.brandsonsale.com Robert Armendariz 21 How To Tell If A BBQ Joint is Going To Be Good After visiting about 200 barbecue joints, I've developed a few barometers for predicting whether a barbecue joint will be good: 1. Can you smell any smoke? Some barbecue restaurants will make a grand presentation of woodpiles to convince you that they’re cooking over wood. But if you can’t smell the smoke, that wood might just be for show. For years I lived less than a block from a Burger King and the fragrance each night was intense, but that’s not what you want to smell. Instead of just burning fat or pungent sauce, I seek the sweet aroma of burning fruitwoods. Ideally, you shouldn’t smell the smoke as far as a block away, but notice it just before you walk in the restaurant’s front door. Sometimes you won’t notice it that much while there but pick it up on your shirt later that night. Burning wood means smoked meat. The joint might still not get it totally right, but at least you know they’re not cooking your ribs in an oven. 2. Do the other diner’s plates look good? If it’s a sit down place where the hostess leads you to your table, do some advance scouting along the way by checking out the plates at other diner’s tables. Does the brisket look dry or juicy? Are the ribs meaty or thin? Is the pulled pork served in big chunks and long strings, or overmashed? Is the ‘cue too dependent on the sauce? I’m not saying you should leave based on your observations, but they might steer you into ordering the meat they do best, or possibly a fail-safe burger. I also like to look at other diner’s plates during and after the meal, as a sanity check. There’s always the chance that I just happened to wind up with a more-meaty, less-meaty, drier or wetter rack of ribs than is the norm. 3. Do they only serve babybacks? If the restaurant’s menu says they only have babyback ribs, that’s cause for concern. Babybacks are great when they’re done right, but too often they’re just a shortcut. They’re already tender, so you could get away with just grilling them, which I’ve seen too often at barbecue restaurants. The greater risk is that they’re going to be the soggy, overcooked dreck that’s commonly served at all the chain restaurants. There are exceptions, of course, but babybacks-only is a warning sign. 23 4. Does the menu emphasize breadth over depth? Barbecue joints that are heavy on breadth and light on depth scare me. By breadth, I mean a wider than wide-ranging menu full of non-barbecue items like pastas, salads, steaks, fish and the like. I understand the need to diversify the menu—it’s almost a necessity to attract the diverse customer base that can sustain the restaurant’s profitability. But straying too far from the barbecue basics can have two effects: less attention paid to the barbecue items and slower barbecue turnover. The first effect is selfexplanatory, but the slower turnover could be even more devastating. Fresh ‘cue requires a large and steady volume. Adding all those other items may be good for business, but you may be hijacking your own customers and hurting your barbecue. By depth, I mean barbecue options. Are there different cuts of pork ribs? Do they only serve beef ribs? Rib tips? Can you get sliced brisket and chopped brisket? Do they have burnt ends? Do they go beyond the basics and offer smoked pastrami, lamb or duck? Depth is a good sign, especially if they offer something out of the ordinary. What if there’s a glaring omission, like the lack of pulled pork at a Texas style joint or the missing brisket at a Carolina style joint? If it means they’re focusing more attention on other meats instead, that’s okay. As long as it doesn’t mean more pasta. 5. Is there an open kitchen? If there’s an open kitchen or anything close to it, that’s a good sign. I’m not saying that those who don’t have one always have something to hide, but some do. If you can follow the path your meat takes, from the time it leaves the smoker (ideally) or a holding bin (the next best thing) to the cutting board to the plate, you’ve got a high probability of getting good ‘cue. Sometimes you only get to see the last few steps; other times you have to peek through a window specifically designed for the voyeur. I’m a big fan of the grillside tables where you can sit within arm’s reach of the warming racks of ribs and spit-cooked chickens, observing the entire operation from the fry cooks to the grill team. 6. Is the joint near the ocean or in a tourist area? I haven’t had good luck with barbecue joints near the ocean or near vacation spots in general, and it’s probably not just a coincidence. Restaurants in tourist areas typically don’t depend on repeat business. They know you’re probably not coming back anyway, so why jump through hoops to impress? 24 7. Are there more than four TVs? Some joints have a television set or two because they know there are some customers who want to check a score during a sporting event. It also gives the lone diners something to do besides stare at the other diners. Sports bars can be a lot of fun, but if there are more than four TVs, they become less of an amenity and more of the main attraction. At a good ‘cue joint, the barbecue is supposed to be the main attraction. 8. Are the servers the show? This one’s similar to the TV rule. There are a fair number of barbecue joints out there that feature well-endowed women in provocative outfits, and I’m the last person to complain about that. But if that’s what it takes to make the restaurant succeed, it means the barbecue isn’t good . Gary Goldblatt 25 BBQ and… Editors note: This is the first in a series of articles focusing on what goes well with BBQ. Music, beverages, tableware sides and literature will all be covered. I guess the column title BBQ And… gives me a lot of latitude to travel anywhere I choose, aside from your typical BBQ and Beer, BBQ and Wine. So how about a road trip of sorts and we will see where our gustatory feet takes us? As there is a lack of an editorial mandate on topics, the ‘BBQ and…’ column will cover many subjects. Our initial articles will be on BBQ and the pairing of beverages, which will include but will not be limited to beer, wine, ciders, spirits and moonshine. I will have guests joining me for this column to lend their expertise. Wow. That opened up this column to just about anyone with an interest in BBQ. By being around as long as I have, I have met quite a cast of characters who are not afraid to share there opinions. After sharing a number of cocktails with them over the years, I strike a balance between being proud to call them my friends and being not to proud to call on them for advice and help. This first column will be BBQ and Beer Styles. Why another column about BBQ and Beverage pairing? Why Not? It’s a large and underserved topic. 32 Maybe you want to know what beverage pairs best with your BBQ or maybe you just want to impress your guest with your libations knowledge as well as your culinary skills. We are here to be your jumping off point. Before we get started, let me explain where I’m coming from. We are not wine snobs. Yeah, that’s right, some of the best wines I have consumed came right out of a box. Box-O-Wine, as my son likes to refer to it. For beer, a Bud, Bud Lite, MGD or Coors usually does the trick for me. So how does that make me an expert on pairing BBQ and Beverages? Well, Henry Ford was once asked how he became so intelligent with his limited education and he responded by saying’ “I don’t have to be smart, I just surround myself with smart people.” So there you have it. I‘ve got the hook ups. Brewmasters, Winemakers, Craft Brewers, Home Brewers, Cider Makers and even a couple of moonshiners, will check in with us and give us their “educated palate” opinions. Yes Virgina there are still moonshiners, some even in the basement of a Manhattan, NY skyscraper. I better stop now before I end up sleeping with the fishes. These people are my panel of expects, but I also have right next door to my BBQ joint The Old Original Trophy Tavern. Here I engage the tastes and likes of a crack crew of volunteers sometimes known as my crew on crack but that’s another column entirely. This crew has been at the forefront of the success of Pig Daddy’s BBQ, since we first opened our doors This stalwart group of men and women have been our taste testers. They have allowed us to experiment on their taste buds time and time again refining our recipes until we reach what we like to call “our perfection” and believe me, there have been more failures than successes over the past 5 years. They have stood by us through it all. Composed of Blue and White Collar workers, we have all the construction trades covered as well as a number of local chefs and cooks who enjoy knocking back a few when off duty and who have always been there for us with information and/or instruction and most of all encouragement. So I guess what I’m saying is this column is for the common man and woman who enjoy a nice beverage with their choice of food. We are writing for the kind of folks who enjoy spending time in the backyard with family and friends, as well as, but not necessarily in BBQ competitions. So, if you have any favorites you would like to share please send them to me by email and I will get my crew right on them. Hopefully we will provide you with some new tastes to go along your own creations as well as sharing your favorites with our readers. As a matter of fact, one of our “Theme” catering packages we offer at Pig Daddy’s is a food and beverage pairing party. We allow the customer to supply us with their beverage choices and using our network of professionals, we create the foods. We have even setup mini contests with scorecards to see how well my crew faired in its recommendations and I am happy to say they have always been right on. This first column I am going to give you the basic styles of Beer to pair with your Q rather than exact choices, allowing you to decide which brands and brews you prefer. Half the fun is the experimentation. So without further ado, the Brews. Amber Ales and Lagers (Light with Rich Carmel Flavors) Deviled eggs. I personally don’t believe a BBQ is complete without this 1950’s party food classic. Also pairs well with grilled burgers and Caesar Salad or any mayo based salad dressing. Roasted or Fried Meats Brown Ale (Heavy Malts, Leathery, Nutty, a little hoppy) Grilled and Smoked meats particularly Brisket, both smoked and braised, London Broil and Chargrilled steaks. The same brews also worked well with grilled Lamb Chops and Grilled Veggies; Peppers, Onions, Squash, Zucchini, and Asparagus with a brown butter sauce 33 Pale Ales Both American & India (yeasty, sweet, malty sometimes citrus-includes Lite, Dry, Ice, etc.) Excellent with Bacon, Chicken and Ribs on the grill. Salty, vinegary and fatty foods. Also work excellent with Spicy Salads, Mexican and Thai entries. Harpoon IPA really hit the Thai (Just a suggestion) Wheat Beers (Bright and Brisk Flavors) – Excellent with most Asian Foods Belgian Wit biers (Spiced with Orange and Coriander Flavors) Particularly great with Fish dishes. Works well as a brunch beverage, with its orange overtones. Pilsners (Hops, Crispness sometimes bitter, dry, creamy, malty and usually golden color) Excellent with most fried foods even fried doughnuts, blackened Catfish, also I must mention that the Pilsner also paired extremely well with Carolina Style Pulled pork. We tried both a very heavy vinegar, chili and hot pepper sauce and a sweeter Carolina mustard sauce and both were great favorites of those who preferred the Carolina style, and although we did not try it I believe the Pilsners would work quite well with both Ceviche and Sushi or any lemony or vinegary food Smoked Beers (All have their own signature) Very good with Sausage, both smoked, cured and grilled, Cold smoked Salmon and Pork entries, Pulled, Loin and tenderloin, both smoked and grilled. They did not work with the planked salmon nor the grilled salmon was the basic consensus Porters, Stouts (Heavy Malts, Coffee and Chocolate, creamy fairly bitter) Works well with Char Grilled Meats, Steaks and burgers; Heavy BBQ sauced meats, raw Oysters and Hershey Chocolate Kisses On a suggestion from Garret Oliver, Brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery we tried a Vanilla Stout Float made with a Chocolate Imperial Stout. We used Brooklyn Breweries’ Black Chocolate Stout and Young’s Double Chocolate Stout as our base. Both performed equally well and although we had many skeptics, in the end all agreed, this is for BIG KIDS I hope this information starts you on your own odyssey into the wonderful world of “BBQ and “. Let me know what you think! By the way if you are a home or craft brewer, a winemaker or what have you, feel free to send them samples and we will give you our best effort in pairings as well as introduce you to the many, many readers of Smoke Signals. This month’s recipe: Drunken Swine by Mark Thomas Taylor, Former Executive Chef of the Irish Times in Philadelphia, PA. 34 This is an excellent recipe for a cold winter day as it can be prepared in the oven as well as outside on the patio or deck. The secret is in the marinade. 4 to 6 lb. boneless loin of pork 2 (14.5 oz.) cans Guinness 2 to 3 large sprigs fresh rosemary 1 to 2 Tbsp. Snipped thyme 2 Tbsp. Chopped parsley 1 Tbsp. Rubbed sage leaves ½ c. finely chopped onions 2 Tbsp. Crushed garlic 1 Tbsp. Cracked black pepper 2 Tbsp. Coarse sea salt Rub loin of pork with salt, sage, cracked pepper, garlic, onions, rosemary, and thyme. Place in a large vessel and “pour on the Guinness.” Turn and position the roast so that it sits well in the beer. Refrigerate for 36 hours, turning the meat every 12 hours. Roast at 350 until internal temp is 150. Use pan drippings to make gravy adding flour and more Guinness if necessary. Next Month’s Pairings: The Reds 35 Tips for BBQ Beginners When I first started out cooking BBQ I was clueless. I had no inkling of the intricate details of what is involved in order for a tough brisket to turn into a tender, juicy piece of BBQ heaven. I had no clue about the different types of smokers, woods, thermometers, etc… When I started out I had a cheap, off-set cooker that I picked up from a local hardware store. I moved from that to a Weber 22.5 kettle and then finally moved to my competition smokers, a set of 55 gallon drum smokers (UDS).* My plan is to take one area of BBQ and try to break it down in an effort to help people who are just starting out in BBQ or experienced pit masters who may need to brush up on a certain area. The first step on your way to being the King of BBQ is to buy or build your pit. You can go as elaborate as a thirteen thousand dollar trailer mounted rig or as basic as a twenty dollar trash can conversion. Each cooker is unique in many ways; you will have to spend some time with your pit of choice to learn the ins and outs. Once you build or buy your pit it needs to be seasoned, much like a cast iron skillet, to help keep the pit from rusting and to help give the food more flavor. Seasoning your pit is easy; get a couple cans of cooking spray, lard, or any other type of cooking oil. Coat the inside of your cook chamber thoroughly and then start a fire in your firebox. Hold the temperature at about 215*- 250* for about 4-6 hours. Your pit should now be seasoned and it will only get better with use. Use the time spent seasoning your pit to learn about the hot and cold spots of your smoker. Now that your pit is seasoned you’re ready to cook right? Wrong! You need to decide what type of fuel you are going to use for your maiden voyage. That is a personal preference depending on your pit and palette. You’re not going to try to feed a stick burner a bag of charcoal and you’re not going to put logs into a WSM, so the type of fuel should match the type of pit you have. As far as wood selection I would advise on a fruit wood for the first few times until you can get the hang of how much your pit smokes the meat. I would strongly against the use mesquite or hickory the first time out as they provide very strong smoke flavors, especially mesquite. Once you get the hang of your pit, mix up the types of woods you are using. Personally I go with a blend of Pecan and Cherry for everything, but your taste will vary by region and personal preference. Once your pit is seasoned and your wood/fuel combo is ready to go, you will need to decide what your first cook will be. I would suggest a boston butt for a couple of reasons. First, a boston butt is a fairly cheap meat to start with. Second, pork is a very forgiving piece of meat to work with your first time out; it is very hard to overcook or over smoke. Third, it is a mighty tasty reward for your first cook. *Read our article on how to build your own UDS smoker in this issue. 36 It’s often as important to know what not to do as it is to know what to do. For example, do not get into a hurry, this is BBQ, not grilling. One thing I hear and read all the time is “it’s done when it’s done.” Remember, you want to cook low and slow (200*-235*) once you get some experience you can experiment with some high heat cooks (270*-330*). Always give yourself ample time to get it done; it is frustrating and embarrassing to have dinner pushed back a few hours because the meat is not done. As a general rule, estimate 1 ½ hours per pound of meat. Also, as I mentioned earlier, start with something easy cook. Don’t try to jump right in and get the perfect brisket or ribs the first time. After a few cooks if you feel confident, go ahead and try some ribs, if they turn out well get yourself a brisket and go for it. One thing you don’t want to do is invite in-laws, outlaws, neighbors, or other relatives over for your first cook. Make sure you get some solid practice and then bring them over and dazzle them with your ability to make better than restaurant quality BBQ. Stop peeking, the meat is not going to go anywhere! Peaking is one habit I had to break when I first started out. I wanted to view the progress, but little did I know that even if I only opened the lid for a few seconds I was increasing my cook time by 3-4 minutes. If you have to open the lid to probe, baste, mop or whatever you need to do be quick about it. If your pit is running too hot, open the firebox door to drop the heat, if you open the smoke box all you do is cool down your meat. That leads me to air flow. I used to think More Smoke = More Flavor, but boy, was I wrong. Always run your exhaust stack wide open, you can control your air flow and temperature by regulating the air going into your firebox. The smoke you want is thin and blue, not white and billowing. If you make any changes to the airflow on your cooker in an effort to reduce or raise temperature give it a chance (about 15-25 minutes) to take effect. Always use wood that has been seasoned, if you use too green of wood, you run an even greater risk of developing creosote in your smoke which will make your food bitter and taste very bad. If you follow these tips, you can turn out some BBQ that is just as good if not better than most BBQ restaurants. Do not get frustrated if your first few cooks don’t go well, keep trying and you will get the results you are looking for. If you have any comments, questions, or anything at all, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I will try to answer any question you may have. Big JT 37