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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Barbecue Competition Practice - Brisket!

Here is a photo of my recent competition brisket practice cook. There is no sauce applied in the photo. Doesn't it look delicious?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barbecue Competition Practice - Chicken!

This is a photo of a recent chicken practice cook. In a real KCBS competition, cooks are required to turn in 6 pieces of chicken. Because this was just a practice cook, I only cooked four of them. Cooking fewer let's me try a couple of different techniques and recipes without having to buy six pieces of chicken for each version. Also, I like chicken but I can only eat so much of it.

KCBS judges like to be able to easily bite through the chicken skin. I think I nailed that attribute this time around pretty well.

Barbecue Secret Number 7 - 18 Gallon Metal Can with Lid

An 18 Gallon Metal Trash Can Makes Dealing with Leftover Coals and Ash Safer and Easier
How do you deal with the leftover ash from lump or charcoal when you are finished grilling or barbecuing? A lot of people just leave hot coals to burn out in their grills or smokers and don't remove them until it's time to cook again. Others wait a long time, sometimes even hours, for the coals to go out and then remove them from the grill/smoker. That practice can be dangerous. I know of people who have almost burned their houses down because of it. Now, if your grill/smoker is in a location that cannot ignite your house or anything else, leaving the leftover coals and ash in the grill/smoker might be a safe option. But, if the ash becomes wet because of rain, for example, you very well could be doing damage to your cooker because the ash can be extremely acidic. Many a cooker has met an untimely demise because the owner continually left ash in it for extended periods. I deal with left over coals and ash using an 18 gallon metal trash can.

When I am finished using my outdoor cooker, I empty the hot coals and ash into an 18 gallon trash can, seal it with the lid, and put it in a safe place at a safe distance away from my house and any other things I don't want to catch fire. This practice has several advantages for me. First, it lets me begin to clean up my grill/smoker right away without having to wait hours for the coals to go out. Second, it lets me store hot coals in a safe place away from anything that they may be able to ignite and start a fire. The lid on the can seals it so that air cannot get to the coals which smothers out the fire. The next day, when I'm sure the fire is completely extinguished, I discard the ash.

Barbecue Secret Number 7 - Find a responsible, safe, and effective way to store and smother left over coals and ash. I use an 18 Gallon Metal Can with Lid.

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Barbecue Competition Checklist

I have been working on a checklist to make sure I have everything I need while competing at the BBQ Jamboree coming up on May 5, 2012 in Fredericksburg, VA. Here is my first swipe at it.The "secret" items are secret, of course. So, I can't share those.
BBQ Competition Checklist

Monday, April 23, 2012

Barbecue Competition Practice - Spare Ribs!

This is a photo of some spare ribs I cooked during one of my competition practice cooks. Here is pretty much how I barbecued them.

1.) Trim the spare ribs St. Louis style. If you are not sure how to perform this step, click here to take a look at how Chef David Payne does it.

2.) Apply a generous coating of your favorite rub to the back and front of the ribs. I like to use Plowboy's Yardbird or 3Eyz BBQ Rub, or Williams Rib Tickler rub. Sometimes I make my own rub by just applying brown sugar, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, chili powder and cayenne pepper.

3.) Let the ribs sit for about 30 minutes. You want the rub to begin to liquefy on the outside of the ribs. I usually trim and rub the ribs and let them sit while I am starting the fire in my smoker.

4.) Bring your smoker to 275 degrees F and use indirect heat. I like to use a little white oak or hickory for smoke. Cherry wood is good too. But, don't over do it. When I am cooking ribs on my drum or keg smokers, I use 1 or 2 golf ball sized chunks of wood.

5.) Put the ribs on the smoker and let them cook for 2.5 hours. Make sure you maintain as constant a temperature in your smoker as possible.

6.) Every half hour, spritz the ribs with a little water mixed 50/50 with apple juice.

7.) After 2.5 hours, put a little squeeze Parkay in a sheet of foil large enough to wrap the ribs in. Add about a handful of brown sugar and a little honey to the Parkay. Place the ribs in the foil on top of the Parkay/sugar mixture meat side down. Put the same combination of ingredients on the top of the ribs. Wrap them tightly in the foil and then wrap another sheet of foil around them just to make sure they are well sealed.

8.) Put the wrapped ribs back in the smoker meat side down. Let them cook for another 1.5 hours.

9.) After 1.5 hours, unwrap the ribs and check the tenderness. If you can twist a couple of bones easily, they are done. If you can't twist a bone, wrap them back up and continue to cook them for another 15 minutes. Check them every 15 or 20 minutes until they pass the bone twist test.

10.) When the ribs are done, remove them from the foil and apply a coat of your favorite barbecue sauce. Blues Hog sauce is a good choice too. I like to use a silicon brush to apply the sauce.

11.) Put the ribs back in the smoker for about 10 minutes. You just need them in the smoker long enough for the sauce to "set."

12.) Remove from the smoker and enjoy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Barbecue Competition Practice - Pork!

Here are the results of a practice cook I did today of a pork butt. It wasn't my best effort but it turned out fair to middlin'.

I'll be competing in the KCBS sanctioned BBQ Jamboree in Fredericksburg, VA this coming May (link in the link section of my blog). I'll be competing with the Man vs. Pig Competition BBQ Team. There will be some stiff competition there so wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Food Championships - Adam Richman, Host

Update - There will be a TV show (or a series of shows) made of the World Food Championships event! So, if you can't make it out to Las Vegas for the event, you can at least watch it on TV. More details as they emerge.

Adam Richman, host of the Travel Channel’s Man v. Food: Nation, and the upcoming Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America, and Trybe Targeting, America’s premiere food enthusiast marketing agency representing over 700 food competitions, have teamed up to produce the inaugural World Food Championships in Las Vegas, the culinary and entertainment capital of the world.

“Every major professional sport features a world title competition to declare the best of the best,” stated Mike McCloud, President of Trybe Targeting.  “This culinary showdown in Las Vegas will settle once and for all who is the best among amateur and professional chefs and cooks who compete each year in thousands of food competitions and contests across America.”

The World Food Championships will be held November 1 through November 4, 2012, at several major casino properties on the world-famous Las Vegas Boulevard.  The four-day festival and competition will feature culinary champions squaring off for food supremacy in several food categories. Using a hybrid of sanctioned, celebrity and customized judging processes, The World Food Championships will identify winners in seven key categories of divisional competition, culminating in a Final Table face-off with Richman and other food experts presiding as the chief judges.  Famous chefs, hometown cooks and professional competition teams, all armed with their best recipes, secret sauces and proprietary techniques, will battle until one champion in each food category is left standing. At stake are a world title and a prize purse of over $300,000.

"In a day and age when there are so many culinary competitions — ranging from contests of taste to those of technique — The World Food Championships will be the ultimate food competition,” said Richman. "It will be the biggest stage in the cooking competition world, where every beloved food from around the globe and everyone from professionals to amateur enthusiasts can come to take their shot at the title and prove that they have what it takes to be the best.”

As the event host, Richman will guide event participants and a general audience through each level of the competitive action, with Trybe Targeting officials offering a variety of tasting opportunities on site for fans who want to sample the world’s best competition food.

Centered at the height of action in the entertainment universe – the Las Vegas Strip — The World Food Championships divisional showdowns will take place at three major casino properties, with the Final Table competition being produced on November 4 in an open-air VIP arena and shot for a TV special.

The 2012 categories will feature classic American cuisine: bbq, chili, burgers, sandwiches, side dishes, a Champions Challenge featuring winners of online recipe contests, and a World Chef Challenge open to some of the best chefs in America’s greatest food cities. Rules and qualifying processes for each division will be announced April 30, 2012 at www.worldfoodchampionships.com. The casino host and public/competition schedules will be announced at the same web site on May 15th, 2012.

“There’s never been a food competition of this breadth and magnitude,” commented McCloud. “With over 4,500 major food competitions and contests taking place across America each year, we know for a fact that food-centric challenges are one of our country’s fastest growing sports. This event will put champions on a world stage in a world-class setting. Someone – amateur or professional - will be leaving Vegas with a serious jackpot haul and the ultimate bragging rights as a World Food Champion!”

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

19th Century Barbecued Whole Hog in Georgia

Georgia Barbecued Pig, The Morning Times, July 13, 1896 
The Morning Times newspaper from July 13, 1896 describes how they used to barbecue whole hog in Georgia during the 19th century. The basting sauce is based on the 18th century Virginia basting sauce which goes to show the great influence that Virginia barbecue cooks had on barbecue cooks in the rest of the country.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Barbecue Secret Number 6 - Beef Brisket Fat Cap Up or Down?

Beef Brisket Barbecued Old Virginia Style

Untrimmed beef brisket, nowadays usually referred to as a full packer brisket, is made of at least two muscles. The flatter more lean portion (the section to the right in the photo) is called the flat. The thicker more marbled portion is referred to as the point or the deckle (the "pointy" portion on the left in the photo). One side of the brisket is covered in a layer of fat called the fat cap (on the bottom of the brisket in the photo to the left).

There is an ongoing debate among barbecue cooks about whether brisket should be cooked fat cap up or fat cap down. Those who say fat cap up claim that as the fat renders it bastes the meat helping to make it more moist and tender. Many of those who say brisket should be cooked fat cap down claim that there is no way that fat rendered from the fat cap can penetrate the meat so they cook fat cap down because, according to them, it makes for better bark on the finished brisket.

Well, here is the real answer to the debate. Barbecue Secret number 6 - When barbecuing brisket, make sure the fat cap is facing the heat source.

I have several barbecue cookers. One of my favorites is my Ugly Drum Smoker or UDS. It is what's known as a vertical smoker. It's called that because the heat source sits in the bottom of the drum with a heat diffuser sitting between the fire and the meat sitting on a grate above. Heat flows vertically through the smoker.

I also have a Jambo pit. A Jambo is a horizontal smoker. It's called that because the fire (heat source) is in a firebox that's connected to the side of the cooking chamber. Heat flows from the fire box horizontally through the cooking chamber and out the chimney. For all practical purposes, in a horizontal smoker like the Jambo, the heat from the fire flows over the meat rather from under it as is the case in a vertical smoker.

What I have learned through trial and error cooking on both types of smokers is that in order to produce the best barbecued brisket, make sure the fat cap is facing the heat source. That means fat cap on the bottom in a vertical smoker and fat cap on top in a horizontal smoker.

The fat really doesn't melt and baste the meat when cooking fat cap up. That makes for a good story when you are selling barbecue, but it isn't a way to make a better brisket. The truth is, the fat cap acts as a shield from direct heat which is the real culprit that dries out the brisket. So, make sure the fat cap on your brisket is facing the fire.

Best of both worlds - Some even flip brisket during the cook. For example, if cooking on a horizontal smoker, they will start the brisket off fat cap up. Then, about half way through the cook, they will flip the brisket over to let the bark become a little more developed. This strategy can also produce some really good brisket. The idea is to use the fat cap as a shield against excessive heat. Don't get caught up in the "fat cap up, fat cap down" debate. Use the fat cap to your advantage!

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Central Texas Barbecue Pilgrimage - Story in Smoke Signals Magazine

Smoke Signals Spring 2012 Issue
Check out the article I wrote about my central Texas barbecue tour entitled Central Texas Barbecue Pilgrimage starting on page 38. It's in the Spring 2012 issue of Smoke Signals Magazine.

Back in December of 2011 I had the privilege of visiting nine central Texas barbecue restaurants including Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Snow's BBQ in Lexington, and Black's Barbecue, Smitty's Market, and Kreuz Market in Lockhart. Click here to read.

By the way, check out the archived issues of Smoke Signals too. You will find informative and entertaining articles about the world of barbecue.

Barbecue Pitmasters Season 3

Barbecue Pitmasters season 3 is premiering on the Destination America channel on Memorial Day, 2012. The Destination America channel is the former Planet Green channel re-branded. Myron Mixon of Jack's Old South Barbecue, Tuffy Stone of Q Barbecue and the Cool Smoke Competition Barbecue Team, and Aaron Franklin, owner and pitmaster of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas will be the three judges.

Sneak Peek on Wednesday, May 30 at 10 PM E/P
Regular Premieres Begin Sunday, June 3 at 9 PM E/P

We're going back to the pit for a brand new season of BBQ PITMASTERS, created just for Destination America! With the larger-than-life personalities of our contestants – and judges 
Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone, and Aaron Franklin – steak isn't the only thing that's sizzling as these grill masters face off in the ultimate BBQ showdown for bragging rights and a cash prize. The competition travels to places like Memphis, Mobile, New Orleans, and Austin, as contestants grill dishes from St. Louis pork ribs, to Texas brisket and Carolina pulled pork and everything in between. Egos and reputations are on the line as familiar faces and new challengers wage barbeque battle to determine who truly is the best of the best.



Barbecue Secret Number 5 - The Aluminum Pan

Pork Butt & Beef Brisket
I prefer keeping my grill as clean as possible during a cook rather than having to do a lot of cleanup afterwards. That's why I like to put foods that produce a lot of drippings while they are cooking on a roasting rack in an aluminum pan. I get all the benefits of great tasting barbecue without the hassle of having to clean all those drippings out of my smoker. It also helps prevent grease fires which, as you know if you've ever had one in your smoker, can be very intimidating and dangerous because of the hot flames shooting out well above your head.

The roasting rack and pan don't alter the results. It's really not much different than just putting the meat directly on the grate except that you have less cleanup to do after the cook. Also, the pan makes it really easy to wrap the meat in foil if you choose to do so at anytime during the cook. The roasting rack also holds the meat up and above the drippings just as your grate would do.

Barbecue secret number 5 - To minimize cleanup, barbecue meats on a roasting rack sitting in an aluminum pan.

For more Barbecue Secrets Click Here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Brussels Sprouts
So, you don't like Brussels sprouts? I know of several people who never liked them either until they tried cooking them on the grill. Besides being tasty, Brussels sprouts are nutritious too. They are a good source of vitamins K and C and are also a good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, manganese, potassium and vitamin B6, tryptophan (an essential amino acid), thiamin, iron, phosphorus, protein, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, copper and calcium. They are like the multivitamen of the vegetable world. So, get cooking!

You will need:

A pound to a pound and a half of Fresh Brussels Sprouts
3 tablespoons of Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
Juice of half a lemon
Grill/smoker setup for 325F using indirect heat

1.) Wash the Brussels sprouts. Trim off any of the outer leaves and brown stems that you don't like too.
2.) Toss the Brussels Sprouts in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
3.) Put them in the grill and close the lid.
4.) Let them cook for 35 to 45 minutes until they are tender on the inside.