Sunday, May 28, 2006

Smoking and Joking

Memorial Day weekend is the official kickoff for the summer grilling season. For those of us that are lucky enough to live in a moderate climate, every weekend is grilling time. I am that crazy neighbor who is out back in the dark and drizzle wearing a bright red North Face hooded rain parka. Strapped to my forehead is a LED high intensity light. Who says you can’t Barbeque in December? I have four BBQ’s, each with a different purpose. A 22” Weber Kettle grill for everything from prime rib to pizza. A Brinkman Sportsman Smoker for pork butt, ribs, beer can chicken, and anything that likes smoke. A Barbecues Galore gas grill for quick weekday dinners. Finally, a Portable Weber Q for picnics.

In theory there are two types of cooking: grilling and barbecue. Lots of variations and debates exist. My adventure on the long weekend is barbecue or smoking. Low and slow. Heat around 225 degrees for long periods of time. The Brinkman is a tubular shape, with several levels inside. The bottom layer is for charcoal and wood chips. The next level is a water pan. A couple of grills above hold the meat.

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There is something primal about tending a fire, almost a genetic urge that draws me to the grill. Why the heck would a correct thinking person, after working a six day week, spent many hours in a hot smoky environment? I could get real technical here with times and recipes. There are many books and web sites that preach the holy grail of barbecue. Let me just plant the seed of experimenting with the BBQ.

Baby back ribs were the object of my attention. I used a homemade spice rub, hardwood charcoal, and a mix of hickory and apple wood chips. The whole process took about five hours. The result was extraordinary, tender, fall off the bone ribs with a sweet bacon style flavor. These ribs taste good without sauce but the commercial sauce I would recommend is Bulls Eye.

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Add some side dishes. We had baked beans and potato salad. It’s almost corn season in Brentwood and corn would pair nicely. Happy grilling!


drbiggles said...


I smoked some goodies on Saturday, but that was it. Almost did yesterday, but got lazy.

You need to start making your own sauce brother man!

Start with a plain BBQ sauce, a premade one. Something simple, no extra flavors.

Add a load of molasses, maybe half the jar?

Juice from a few lemons.

Worchestershire sauce, a 4 dollups.

Minced fresh rosemary, a sprig?

Crushed fresh garlic, 5 cloves or more?

Plenty of fresh ground pepper.

2 TBS of the rub you used on the meat.

After that you can do anything you want. Oregano, celery powder, onion powder, paprika, chile powders or Penzy blends/anyone's blends.

Adjust to taste, let sit an hour or so before use. Doesn't keep well. The flavors meld too far together and you lose the brightness of the lemon and spices.

Or you can take that standard premade sauce and add a container of premade salsa to it. It's pretty fricken good.

So says a Hillbilly.


Greg said...

Hey Biggs
I've successfully made salsas,gravies,relishes,marmalades,etc. I just can't come up with a BBQ sauce that I like well enough to call my own.Go figure.

Anonymous said...

Hi, there. I just stumbled across your blog. Nice work! I love good food, too, and I keep trying to come up with the perfect bbq sauce. As a matter of fact I decided this is going to be my goal this summer. I want one that's not too sticky, not too sweet, not too ketchuppy. I did ribs over the weekend, too. Baby backs were $2.99 per pound at Apple Market. I tried Julia Child's recipe. Starts with a spice rub, then you roast the ribs in the oven for 40 minutes, then you barbeque for the last 20 minutes. The sauce is peanut oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and honey. It's very good, but it's a little Asian tasting, lacking tomato flavor. If I ever find the perfect one, I'll let you know.

drbiggles said...

Hey Anon,

While precooking your ribs in an oven or boiling them, will accelerate cooking time, it'll absolutely rob them of smoky goodness. Trust me, I've tried them all. And not because I wanted to. My wife wanted to see what it was like, not the same.
I say, if you don't have the time to smoke them or grill them, go for the tritip.

Here's my goto rub and has been for way too many years.

This amount will season 1 rack of pork spare ribs.

4 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Onion Powder (never garlic powder, nasty)
1 tsp Salt (not a fan of sugar, can burn if you get a temp spike)
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp chile powder

This is your starting point. From here you can really go many directions. I'll usually add a few tsp of oregano, other chile powders, other's rubs. I really really really like freshly ground celery seeds, oh yes. You can also put in some cumin and a 1/2 tsp of cinnamon. Be careful with the cinnamon. But if you do it right, everyone will notice how good the rub is, but won't be able to tell that it's cinnamon.

The important thing to do is KEEP NOTES.


Greg said...

Thanks Biggles for having my back.
Annon.. I may start the great debate here. Some commercial products are hard to beat. Best Foods/Heilmans mayonaise and Bulls Eye BBQ sauce for starters.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I got a tri tip, and I'm going to try this rub. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Anonymous said...

The tri tip was excellent! Thanks for the tip.

cookiecrumb said...

How cool is that?

drbiggles said...

Bulls Eye blows.

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