Posts Tagged ‘BBQ’

Brisket-Infused Bourbon Is Now A Thing

Thankfully, Austin’s CU-29 opens at 4p, and they’ll be infusing six-liter batches of a mystery bourbon with two pounds of Franklin’s moist for over a month before freezing it, removing the fat, and straining it into what must be the happiest jug in the world.

Goodness knows that BBQ and bourbon whiskey go well together. I, personally, would not have tried serving them in the same glass.

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The Stall

When I first started barbecuing, I bought a half dozen thermometers. I had a thermometer or two in the meat and I had them in the smoker near the meat. I had wireless thermometers, and analog ones that you could barley see from the smoke. Cooking seemed like an exact science, so I figured that I wanted as much data as possible.

Since then I’ve found that it’s easier to go by feel. I’m down to 1 thermometer now. But there really is science behind it. You’re trying to bring a mass of protein and fat up to a certain temp slowly over the course of many hours. But you notice that the meat will often hit a certain temperature and stay there for a while. Hours even. It gets frustrating. You expected this damned thing to be cooked by this point, but you’re at the same internal temp you where several hours ago.

Why does that happened? I just assumed the BBQ gods were testing your patience, but it must have bothered someone enough that he looked into. He studied it in depth. There’s even graphs. Check it out.

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Secret Ingredient Part II

Just a bit of follow up on the big BBQ from last week. After cleaning out the smoker from a winter’s neglect, and scrubbing this thing top to bottom, we were ready to go.

The first thing we did was take the meat out of the fridge early. Let it get close to room temp. If it goes in the smoker too cold, they say that you could get creosote build up. Even if this isn’t true, I still don’t think you want the outside of the meat to be cooking while the inside is iced cold. 2-3 hours at room temperature for these larger cuts should be just about right.

Then it was time to fire up the chimney. You never want to use lighter fluid to start your coals. The marriage of meat and fire is a holy union. Adding petroleum products is unnatural. It’d be like spiking your chili with kerosene. For smoking or even just for burgers, do yourself and your guests a favor and get a charcoal chimney starter like this one.

The trick is to know your smoker. You eventually get a feel for what size fire you need, and how much air to give it. Remember that more air = hotter fire = quicker your fuel is spent. Try to build a fire that will hold your temp, more or less, at medium air flow. And unless you have a major flare up, only adjust the air flow at the fire-box, and never at the chimney. You do not want smoke sitting in the main chamber of the smoker for a long time. The chimney should remain all the way open.

Once you hit a temperature between 200° and 250° F, the meat goes on and, if you’re doing a large cut like a pork shoulder or a brisket, your job for the next 12 hours or so it to try to keep it in that temperature range. Too high, and the meat will dry out. Too low and it won’t cook properly. Hygiene, hygiene.

Here’s where you can cheat. Since staying up for 12 hours before even lunch is a bit impractical, there is a shortcut you can take. Larger cuts of meat will have absorbed about all the smoke that they’re going to after about 6-7 hours. Anything beyond that point you’re basically using your smoker as a charcoal and/or wood burning oven. And if all you really need is an oven, there’s nothing stopping you from using the one in your kitchen.

Wrap your pork shoulder or brisket in tinfoil. Place in a 250° degree oven. Close off the air flow on your smoker. Set your alarm for about 12 hours from when you first put the food on. Take a nap.

When everything’s done, let the meat rest in the tinfoil for a while. At least an hour. By then it should be about cool enough to handle. Start with a couple of forks and pull that mother apart. Or chop it up with a big knife if that’s what floats your boat. Either way, you’re ready to eat.

Graduation BBQ from Chris McIntyre on Vimeo.

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Secret Ingredient

May 12, 2011 1 comment

My sister’s graduating. She’s gone through Rutgers School Of Nursing’s graduate program and, after going through more years than I can count, she is finished.

An event like this deserves a party. So it was decided to throw a BBQ for about 60 people. And her family is doing the catering. Myself included.

With that many people, it’s no sense trying to have what you might think of as a normal, post-war, North Eastern, suburban backyard cookout. You would spend hours at the grill rotating burgers. As soon as you feed one batch of people, the last has finished digesting and is getting back in line. This is not conducive to having a good time at a party.

True barbecue isn’t like that. The key to traditional ‘cue is a mountain of meat cooked with smoke at low temps until its’ falling apart tender. This is something I’ll take over burger slinging any day. When it comes to BBQ, my tastes lean towards pork shoulder with thin, vinegar based sauce. It hits all 4 taste sensations: spicy, smokey, tangy and fatty.

Even finding properly cooked pulled pork in New Jersey can be tough, so about 10 years ago I set out to try to do it myself. I started by buying some cheap contraption shaped like a barrel smoker at Home Depot. It was made of some flimsy metal and could barely fit one rack of ribs, but hey, it had an offset smoke box like the ones in the pictures, so I figured I was assured success. After some trial and error, I was able to get food that was technically edible out of that thing, but never much more.

I decided that I need to upgrade, so I bought ANOTHER ONE from Home Depot. This time it was a different brand, slightly larger, but still made of some unknown alloy, and only about an 1/8″ thickness. If the idea of BBQ is keeping a consistent low temperature, then trying to use this barrel smoker was like driving with your elbows. Your only hit the right angle by luck, and then soon the road conditions change and you’re screwed again.

Eventually I got a good quality barrel smoker. It’s 1/2 ” hand welded thick cast iron. It’s from Oklahoma Smoker Company. I would definitely recommend this company, but if you’re interested there are other companies out there that make something similar.

But lets say that you’re not as crazy as I am, and don’t want to invest in a huge rig. Water smokers are reasonably cheap and fairly useable. Even a regular Weber grill, with the coals on one side and the meat on the other would be better than some of these knock off barrel types you find at some hardware stores.

Don’t be fooled. If you’re looking to get started in BBQ, read Smoke and Spice by Bill and Cheryl Jamison. It’s a good introduction into what is traditional BBQ. It’s a great starting place, with tips on some commonly used set ups. It’ll get you pointed in the right direction. Then you can start experimenting. Come up with a style unique to your own back yard.

Update: Spelling

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