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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Barbecue Secret Number 4 - Know The Temperature at the Grate

Thermometer Probe at Grate Level
Do know what the temperature is inside your grill or smoker where your meat is cooking? If you are not using an accurate thermometer mounted about 1 inch above or below (preferably above) the cooking grate in your cooker, you probably don't. A lot of grills and smokers you buy nowadays usually have a thermometer mounted in the lid. There are usually two big problems with that situation. The first problem is, in many instances, the thermometer that comes as an accessory that's mounted in the cooker's lid is usually inaccurate. I have seen those stock thermometers be inaccurate by as much as 75 degrees F. The second big problem is, the stock thermometers are usually in the wrong place to be of much good. Why do you care what the temperature is near the top of the lid? Are you cooking anything up there? Also, heat rises. So, even if the thermometer is accurate it will probably read anywhere from 25 to 50 degrees F higher than the temperature is down at the grate level where the food is actually cooking.

Barbecue Secret Number 4 - Make sure you know exactly what the temperature is in your cooker where the food is sitting.

To be able to measure the temperature in your cooker at the grate level where the food is located, you will need an accurate thermometer that you can mount about 1 inch above the grate. An accurate oven thermometer that sits on the grate can work if you are on a budget. Otherwise, I'd recommend that you pick up a digital thermometer that has a probe specially made for measuring temperature inside a barbecue cooker. There are several good brands and models available. One that I often use is the Maverick ET-732. It has a probe for the cooker and another probe for the meat. And, it comes with a wireless remote receiver that lets you monitor temperatures while inside your home.

Maverick ET-732 Wireless Remote Thermometer
For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Cleaning Your Grill - Grill Brush Warning from Doctors

PROVIDENCE, RI (CBS) – Several cases of people swallowing grill brush bristles have prompted doctors at Rhode Island Hospital to issue a warning about this unexpected danger.

In a newly published study, Rhode Island doctors note six cases over the course of 18 months where people accidentally swallowed wire grill brush bristles.

The incidents all required endoscopic or surgical removal.

Dr. David Grand, a radiologist who authored the paper, says the six patients all complained of mouth, esophagus, or abdominal pain.

Doctors found the common link was that the patients had eaten meat cooked on a grill that was cleaned with a wire brush immediately prior to cooking.

In three cases, the wire caused damage to the patients’ stomachs or intestine.

“Although foreign body ingestion is not a rare complaint in an emergency department, it is striking that in only 18 months we identified six separate episodes of wire bristle ingestion after eating grilled meat,” Grand said.
“The public should be aware of this potential danger.”

The doctors involved in the study now suggest wiping down your grill with paper towels after using a grill brush.


So, while it's important to clean your grills and smokers, if you use a wire brush to clean your grates, be careful and make sure you wipe the grates down with paper towels to remove any left over metal fragments.

Kingsford's Hickory Infused Propane

Hickory flavored propane, anyone?

Look for it Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A Tribute to Snow's BBQ

The photo above is of a little printed tribute to Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas by Jim Sherer.

It is sitting beside the guest book that customers can sign as they enter the restaurant. You can see where it's normally kept in the pic to the left.

That's not the only tribute to Snow's BBQ. In May 2008 Texas Monthly magazine named Snow’s BBQ the best in Texas.

Barbecue Secret Number 3 - Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce

Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce
Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce
Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce is an original recipe from Bill Arnold. The formula for his award winning barbecue sauce contains the highest quality sugars and spices available and are prepared in a way that sets the standard high above many other commercial sauces. Blues Hog barbecue sauce contains no preservatives and is also low in calories and contains no fat.

If you ever have the opportunity to sample the barbecue cooked at a Kansas City Barbecue Society competition, there is a strong chance that you will be tasting Blues Hog barbecue sauce. Blues Hog barbecue sauce is a secret weapon used by many competition barbecue teams. If you want to get an idea of what a lot of competition spare ribs taste like, get yourself some Blues Hog, barbecue some ribs, and glaze them during that last 10 - 15 minutes with Blues Hog.

My favorite way of using Blues Hog barbecue sauce is to mix it 50/50 with Blues Hog Tennessee Red barbecue sauce. Blues Hog Tennessee Red is not as sweet as the original and has a slightly stronger vinegar component.

Here are some chicken thighs I barbecued using a 50/50 mix of the original Blues Hog barbecue sauce and Blues Hog Tennessee Red.

Here are some baby back pork ribs glazed with original Blues Hog. If you don't like really sweet barbecue sauces, you may want to mix the Blues Hog with vinegar, another barbecue sauce, or perhaps even some water to tone it down a bit.

It all was as delicious as it looks.

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Barbecued 3 Eyz Chicken

The noble chicken! Where would humanity be without the heralded "yard" bird? Chicken is a delicious and low fat alternative to pork and beef and it can be perfectly barbecued in as little as two hours. Here is an easy recipe for some really delicious barbecued chicken. This is what you will need:

A 3 1/2 to 4 pound whole chicken
Award Winning 3 Eyz Barbecue Spice Rub
A grill/smoker setup for indirect heat at 325 degrees F

1.) Spatchcock the chicken. By that I mean, remove it's backbone, make a cut long ways through the breast bone from the body cavity side of the chicken, then press the chicken down flat. Look at the photo above. That's what a spatchcocked chicken looks like.

2.) Apply an even coat of 3 Eyz rub all over the chicken. I also like to push my fingers between the chicken skin and the breast and thigh meat to separate them enough to get some rub under the skin.

3.) Put the chicken in your grill/smoker. Set it up for indirect cooking with a temperature of 325 degrees F.

4.) After about 90 minutes, check the internal temperature of the chicken in the breast and the thighs. The minimum internal temperature that I like to cook chicken to is about 180 degrees F.

5.) Keep in mind that barbecued chicken meat tends to be pinkish or red. That doesn't mean that the chicken isn't done. That's also why it's best to use an accurate meat thermometer to test the internal temperature. One other way to tell if barbecued chicken is done is to dab a clean, white napkin or paper towel in the juices. If you don't see any color in the juices absorbed by the napkin, it's ready to eat.

6.) Once the chicken is done, remove it from the smoker and enjoy!

3 Eyz Award Winning Spice Rub

You can purchase 3 Eyz rub at better barbecue stores and online at the 3 Eyz Spice Rubs and Competition Team website.

Barbecue Secret Number 2 - Avoid Cross Contamination With this Simple Trick

Pork Butt and Beef Brisket Trimmed, Seasoned, and Ready for the Smoker
As cooks, we must always be extremely careful when preparing foods by making certain that we select, store, and handle them safely. Like many people, I have had my share of scary experiences at restaurants. Like the time I watched a food handler wearing gloves, then handling cash, and then back to handling food without washing his hands or even replacing his gloves and then having to explain to the manager that I wouldn't accept the food until I saw it handled in a clean and safe manner before serving it to me. I have even had a couple of scary experiences while judging barbecue competitions like the time I got an under cooked chicken thigh (which I refused to put in my mouth) and the time I found what could only be described as the residue leftover from when a barbecued spare rib is dropped and an attempt is made to clean it off to make it look like it hadn't been dropped. (I didn't put that rib in my mouth either.)

Unfortunately, about 48 million Americans (1 in 6) will become ill from food borne illnesses this year and some of the illnesses will be fatal. Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, etc., if they are not handled properly. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry, and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from already cooked or ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce. When handling foods, it is important to Be Smart, Keep Foods Apart — Don't Cross-Contaminate. By following a few simple steps provided by the USDA, you can prevent cross-contamination and reduce the risk of food borne illness.

When Refrigerating Food:

  • Place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Raw juices often contain harmful bacteria.
  • Store eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible.

When Preparing Food:
Wash hands and surfaces often. Harmful bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get onto cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops. To prevent this:
  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers; or handling pets.
  • Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
  • A solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water may be used to sanitize surfaces and utensils.

Cutting Boards:
  • Always use a clean cutting board.
  • If possible, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, you should replace them.

Marinating Food:
  • Always marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
  • Sauce that is used to marinate raw meat, poultry, or seafood should not be used on cooked foods, unless it is boiled just before using.

When Serving Food:
  • Always use a clean plate.
  • Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that previously held raw food.

When Storing Leftovers:
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours or sooner in clean, shallow, covered containers to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying.

Now, here is Barbecue Secret Number 2 - When prepping meat to be grilled or smoked, one hand handles the food, the other hand handles the seasonings.

Have you ever watched someone applying rub to meat while prepping it to be barbecued and they touch the meat with the same hand they are using to apply the rub? I have even seen people handle meat with both hands and reach into a bowl of rub with a hand covered with the juices of the raw meat. That practice is a recipe for making someone sick. First, the container/shaker that the rub is stored in is contaminated and second, in the case of reaching in to get a handful of rub, the entire container of rub is contaminated. I learned a great tip a long time ago that prevents those kinds of cross contamination problems: use one hand to touch the food and one hand to handle the seasonings.

Once I am finished trimming meat before I cook it, I remove and discard the nitrile gloves I always wear when prepping food, wash my hands thoroughly and then put one clean nitrile glove on one hand only. I use the gloved hand to position the meat while I use my other hand without a glove on it to handle the seasonings and/or rub shakers. My hand without a glove never touches the meat. This way, I never cross contaminate anything. It takes a little practice and discipline to get in the habit of using this technique but it's well worth learning the skill. My rub shakers remain clean during the whole process and the juices from the raw meat never touch them.

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Barbecue Secret Number 1 - Don't Mess it Up

Sausage, Beef, and Pork Ribs from Black's Barbecue in Lockhart, Texas
Edgar Black, Jr. of Black's Barbecue in Lockhart, TX is often quoted as saying "It's not what we put in our sausage that makes it so good; it's what we don't put in it." One taste of the delicious sausage at Black's Barbecue makes it clear that they let the flavor of the meat speak for itself. They don't rely on lots of ingredients or complex cooking processes to try and make it tasty. In other words, they don't mess up what the meat has to offer by hiding it's flavor behind excessive spices, herbs, and sauces.

There are some people who think that to cook good barbecue they need fancy gadgets, elaborate rubs with 15 to 30 ingredients in each, exotic woods to burn in their smokers, and laborious preparation routines. Some believe that the only way to cook good barbecue is to cook it at extreme low temperatures for long periods of time. I know of several barbecue cooks that are literally horrified when they hear of someone cooking barbecue at temperatures above 225 degrees F. Others think that the perfect barbecue flavor is found in a bottle of barbecue sauce. And there are those who go to the extreme like the fellow that says his barbecue secret is only using wood from a tree that was struck by lightning. And, of course, the 30 or so ingredients in the rub are secret, the brand of barbecue sauce they use is secret, and the tedious preparation routine is secret.

In this little blog post, I am going to reveal the first and foremost important secret to cooking exceptional barbecue. In fact, this secret is so top secret among the great barbecue cooks that few dare speak of it except Edgar Black, Jr. The most important, supreme, over arching, first and foremost secret to cooking delicious barbecue is don't mess it up.

Good barbecue is less about recipes than it is about cooking technique. For example, if you had the exact same brushes, canvas, paints, and subject that Leonardo da Vinci used to paint the Mona Lisa, could you do it? Regardless of how great a painter you are, it's doubtful. The magic of the Mona Lisa as a painting doesn't lie in the paints or the canvas or the brushes. It lies in the technique and ability of the artist. So it is when cooking barbecue. It's not enough to know a good recipe. You must practice and perfect your technique.

Remember, it's not the seasonings on the meat, it's the meat that makes barbecue delicious. This is the cardinal rule. It is the immutable fact of the physics of gastronomy. It is the cornerstone of every great barbecue cook in the world today. If the barbecued meat isn't well prepared there is no sauce or seasoning or tree that fell victim to a lightning strike in the world that can make it truly delicious.

The truth is, before we even think about getting into the details of the Maillard reaction, mouth feel, aroma, the "X" factor, piquancy, seasonality, or flavor affinities you have to learn to properly cook using your grill or smoker. To cook delicious barbecue means that you must learn to do it in a way that preserves and enhances everything in the meat that makes it delicious. That means moisture content, tenderness, fat, and flavor. That means that before you start making or buying rubs, sauces, or looking for a "secret" recipe, you need to learn to select, trim, and cook meat in your barbecue cooker in a way that doesn't mess it up.

For example, if you get a fresh, well marbled, quality beef brisket everything you need to make delicious barbecued brisket is already in the meat. You can inject it with liquid but it won't add moisture to the meat after it's cooked. You can marinade it in acids or enzymes (like vinegar or papain) but it won't make it tender. It may make it mushy but not tender. You can put seasonings on it but that won't make it taste more like beef. No, everything that the meat will ever be is already in it. Now, it's your job as the barbecue cook to preserve and enhance all of that beefy goodness throughout the cooking process. If you don't do that, you will not have exceptionally good barbecue.

So, here is what you need to do to progress further on your barbecue cooking journey:

1.) Learn to control and maintain temperature in your barbecue cooker. Whether you are using a Weber kettle or a Jambo pit, learn to use it. A constant temperature in your cooker is vital to preserving the desirable flavor qualities in meat while it's being barbecued.

2.) Learn to keep the fire burning clean. What I'm talking about here is smoke produced by the fuel in your cooker. Remember, white smoke is bad for flavor. It's basically just ash. Learn to control the temperature of the fire in your cooker so that the smoke coming from the outlet vent is clear vapor or, at the very least, only random whiffs of bluish smoke. This is vital. Remember, smoky flavor should be like salt and pepper. A little goes a long way. The smoke should mingle with the flavors of the meat and the seasonings in a way that's not over powering. Smoke flavor should be subtle, not up front.

3.) Learn to cook delicious barbecued meat first with nothing more than salt & pepper for seasoning. Go find the freshest, best looking brisket or pork butt that you can afford. Season it simply with salt & pepper and practice cooking it until you can turn out delicious barbecued meats without the need for other seasonings for flavor or sauces for moisture. This is the foundation. Everything else you do with "secret" spices or wonderful sauces will be built on the meat itself. If you can't cook the meat properly, you can't cook exceptional barbecue.

4.) Once you learn to control the temperature and smoke in your cooker, know how to select a good cut of meat, and you can cook it to perfection with only salt & pepper for seasoning, then begin to add in some of your "secrets." Try some granulated garlic with a little chili powder. Or, how about some brown sugar too? Perhaps, adding a delicious glaze during the last 15 minutes of cooking made from your favorite barbecue sauce?

5.) Don't be afraid to fail. Learning to cook exceptional barbecue is much like learning to ride a horse. At first, you may be thrown off a couple of times. Just get back on the horse and try again. Soon, you will be riding. You may ruin a couple of briskets at first. You may dry out some ribs or cremate a pork butt. Don't let that stop you. Make notes of what went wrong. Make adjustments and try again. Cooking barbecue is a journey. You will learn something new every time you cook.

6.) Remember, don't mess it up! The meat is the foundation. Learn to cook the meat. Then, build on that foundation. If you want to learn to cook delicious barbecue remember that you must be able to cook meat in a way that preserves and enhances the qualities of the meat that can't be added to it with rubs, injections, spices, herbs, or sauces. That's the real secret to delicious barbecue.

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grilled Bayou Salmon

Grilled Bayou Salmon
Salmon is a delicious and healthy treat. However, not all salmon are created equal. You can find wild caught and farmed salmon in markets and restaurants nowadays. What's the difference? First of all, farmed  fish are raised in hatcheries or open pen nets while wild salmon live in the wild and are caught by commercial fishermen. About 90% of all salmon sold in the U.S. today is farmed rather than caught wild. While salmon farming offers great potential to meet the global demand for high quality protein, there are some things about farmed salmon of which the consumer should be aware.

For example, the flesh of farmed fish can be grayish white in color. Therefore, farmed fish are fed artificial coloring that makes them pink. Also, farmed fish are often fed antibiotics and other chemicals. Further, farmed salmon can have higher concentrations of toxins than wild salmon because of the confined areas in which they are raised. There are also reports that wild salmon are more nutritious than farmed salmon and contain less "bad" fats than wild salmon. (PDF link)

A big problem is labeling. Tests performed for The New York Times in March of 2005 on salmon sold as wild by eight New York City stores, going for as much as $29 a pound, showed that the fish at six of the eight were actually farm raised which is available year round and sells for $5 to $12 a pound in the city when it's labeled correctly. The findings mirror suspicions of many in the seafood business that wild salmon could not be so available from November to March, the off-season, and the artificial coloring fed to farmed salmon make it even harder for the average consumer to tell the difference.

So, what's a person to do? Based upon EPA health standards, the Environment Working Group suggests limiting your intake of farmed salmon to one serving per month. They also recommend that it be prepared by broiling, baking, or grilling over frying. Did someone say grilling? While I prefer wild caught sockeye salmon, I like all salmon whether farmed or not and all of it has a place in my diet. I invite you to do some reading up on the subject and make up your own mind about the benefits and drawbacks of wild salmon versus farmed salmon.

This recipe for Grilled Bayou Salmon works for both wild and farmed fish. Here is what you need to get started:

Fresh Salmon Fillet
Todd's Bayou Dirt
Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning
Cayenne Pepper (optional)
Lemon Juice
Grill/barbecue smoker setup for indirect heat at 325 degrees F.

First, a word about the seasonings. Todd's Dirt is a line of delicious, gluten free spice and herb blends with just the right amount of salt. There are so many seasoning blends out there nowadays that have so much salt in them it's practically impossible to use them as a seasoning or rub for meat and seafood. You don't have that problem with Todd's Dirt rubs. The great thing about Paul Prudhomme's Magic Salt Free Seasoning is the fact that it's salt free. I prefer to control the amount of salt in my food and Magic Salt Free seasoning let's me do that.

1.) The skin was removed from the salmon fillet that I grilled. You don't have to remove the skin and some prefer to leave it on while grilling because it can help hold the fish together while it's cooking. I sprinkled the juice of half a lemon on each side of the salmon fillet. If the skin is still on your salmon, just season the side without skin.

2.) Once the lemon juice has been applied, I sprinkle on the seasonings. Use as little or as much as you prefer. I like to add cayenne pepper to mine too but that is optional.

 3.) Place the salmon (skin side down if the skin is on) in your grill or smoker that has been heated to 325 degrees F. Make sure there is no direct heat coming up under the salmon. Notice the smaller portions in the photo? I trimmed off the thinner portions of the fillet and cooked them separately because their thinner thickness will make them cook faster than the larger fillet.

4.) Close the lid on the grill/smoker and let the salmon cook until it reaches about medium rare to medium on the inside. This fillet took around 12 minutes to cook completely. Of course, the thinner pieces were done sooner. If you have to poke the thickest part with a fork and take a look at the flesh, that's fine. Just make sure you hit that magic level of doneness without over or under cooking the salmon.

5.) When the salmon is done, remove from the cooker, serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis according to our scientist friends) was first grown 2500 years ago in ancient Greece. It is a member of the lily family and is related to onions, leeks, and garlic. Asparagus is very nutritious too. It's high in glutathione, which is an important anticarcinogen, and it's a good source of folic acid, vitamins A, C and E, B-complex vitamins, potassium and zinc. It also contains rutin, which protects small blood vessels from rupturing and may protect against radiation. In fact, Asparagus has been used to treat problems involving inflammation, such as arthritis and rheumatism. Today, about 80 percent of all the asparagus grown in the United States comes from California.

One other great thing about asparagus is that it is delicious grilled! Here's how to do it. You will need:

Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
A hot grill setup for direct grilling
A spritzer bottle with water in it (A refillable spray bottle)

1.) Toss the asparagus in olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Let it hang out in the refrigerator until the grill is ready.

2.)  Fire up your grill. You want it setup for direct heat.

3.) Place the asparagus on the grill perpendicular to the grill grates. This prevents the asparagus spears from falling through the grates.

4.) Let the asparagus cook until it begins to brown (caramelize) on the outside. When it begins to brown, give it about a 1/4 turn. Repeat the turning until it is uniformly browned on all sides.

5.) If the oil on the asparagus causes the grill to flare up, give the fire a little spritz of water to cool it down a little.

6.) When the asparagus is caramelized on all sides, it's ready to remove from the grill and serve.

7.) Enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Irish Pastrami

"Irish" Pastrami

Every year around St. Patrick's Day corned beef briskets go on sale. Corned beef and cabbage is a big Irish-American tradition in the U.S., after all. While I enjoy a good pot of corned beef and cabbage, every once in a while I want some delicious pastrami and it's really hard to beat home made.

Pastrami, a Romanian discovery, is traditionally made from beef naval that is brined before being seasoned and smoked. But, brining beef is a time consuming process. That's where the corned beef comes in. Corned beef is already brined and ready to be turned into delicious pastrami. Because corned beef is brisket rather than beef naval meat from which pastrami is traditionally made, and because I usually make pastrami around St. Patrick's Day when I can get corned beef at a good price, I call this version "Irish" pastrami. The hard work brining the meat has already been done. Here is what you will need to make this delicious treat.

1 Corned beef brisket
Vegetable oil
3 TBS coarsely ground black pepper
1 TBS granulated garlic
1 TBS ground coriander
1 TBS Smoked Paprika
A smoker/grill setup for indirect heat at 350 degrees F
1 Golf ball sized chunk of white oak (or other mild smoking wood)

When choosing a corned beef brisket, I look for one that has the seasonings in a bag rather than already applied to the meat because they aren't needed for pastrami. I also look for even thickness all around. This is important to promote even cooking. Once I have the perfect corned brisket, I soak it in cool water in my refrigerator for at least 12 hours to remove excess salt. I also change the water 3 or 4 times during the soak.

Soaked Corned Brisket
After the soak, it's time to start trimming and seasoning the brisket. I don't trim much. I just remove the excess fat from the top and edges of the brisket and as much of the silver skin as practical. I leave the fat cap on the bottom of the brisket. I think it helps retain moisture in the meat and also helps protect the bottom of the meat (I cook it fat cap down) from excess heat. I do, however, remove the fat cap before I slice the pastrami.

Pastrami seasoning
Apply a thin coat of vegetable oil to the brisket. This helps the seasoning adhere to the meat. Mix the pepper, garlic, paprika, and coriander and liberally apply it to the top and sides of the brisket. There is no need to heavily season the bottom because that's where the fat cap is and it will prevent seasoning from sticking to the meat anyway.

Pastrami on the Smoker
After the rub has been applied to the corned brisket, I make sure my smoker is ready to go. I only use 1 golf ball sized chunk of white oak for smoke. When the smoke exiting my smoker is a clear vapor and the temp is steady at 350 degrees F, I put the brisket in the cooker and let it cook for two hours before peaking again to check the progress.

Pastrami in the Smoker
Wrap with a double layer of foil
To the left is a photo of the pastrami after 2 hours of cooking. Now, it's time to wrap the brisket in a double layer of heavy duty foil.

After two more hours of cooking while wrapped in foil (about 4 hours total cook time) I checked the internal temperature of the pastrami. When it reached an internal temperature of at least 195 degrees F in the thickest part, I removed the pastrami from the smoker, unwrapped it and let it cool and refrigerated it over night.

The next day, it was time to enjoy the delicious, tender pastrami. Slice it thin against the grain of the meat (very important). Serve it anyway you like. Some like to slice it thin and steam it until it's hot and serve on rye bread with some spicy mustard. Some like to eat it cold. Either way, it's delicious.

By the way, the red color of the meat is caused by the brining process. The meat is very well done since it reached 195 degrees F, so it's not rare at all. It's just a nice red, corned beef / pastrami color.

"Irish" Pastrami

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Backyard Barbecue in 19th Century Virginia

Many writers in the 18th and 19th centuries recount their experiences at Virginia barbecues. They often refer to the "old fashioned Virginia Barbecue" at this place or that place and talk about who was there and who the orators were. Most of these accounts are of barbecues held for political purposes. They had Whig barbecues, Republican barbecues, and Democratic barbecues all the time. In fact, most of the party conventions in the 19th century were actually barbecues. Free food and free booze were a great way to pique the political interest of the public it seems and I'm not sure that has changed in our times either.

The Times Dispatch, Richmond, VA, March 24, 1907
The accounts of barbecues that were not of a political nature are more rare. I have spent a lot of time looking for such accounts and I have been fortunate to find accounts of family and community barbecues that have heretofore been lost to history and it is the sharing of the stories of family and community Virginia barbecue that is one of the main purposes of my blog.

While searching for information on an unrelated subject, I inadvertently ran across this account of a backyard barbecue in 19th century Virginia written by Basil V. Haislip of Stuart, VA. It was published in the March 24, 1907 edition of The Times Dispatch. In the article, Mr. Haislip fondly recounts the story of a barbecue that his family held when he was a child about 350 yards from the back of his house near a creek. A neighboring family also attended. They barbecued chicken on a spit, cooked potatoes in the coals and also made gravy.