Friday, November 30, 2007
Thursday, November 22, 2007
It's also useful for family events. How many times have you cooked for family reunions and gatherings and run out of food? How many times have you blown your budget or cooked too much food? This worksheet can help solve those problems too.
This post originally appeared last year, but I thought it was time to bring it back to the "top of the blog".
I'm honored to bring Rich Sterling to you this week as a guest poster on the BBQ Blog (Part 1 or a 3 Part series). If you've ever thought about, wondered about, or plan to build a brick bbq pit in the future, take note.
2/17/2006--Here in Upstate NY, near Albany, we really don't have anything available to us to just stop by and just EAT! About the closest to real BBQ in my area was a local place called "Tex's BBQ" in Albany, NY which is now out of business. Then we have Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse and NYC. We have a few local caterers that do the local benefit functions, etc. if you don't mind paying about $9.00 for a quarter chicken cooked over charcoal. That just wasn't cutting it for me so I decided to build my own pit.
With spring just around the corner, now is the time I started my research last year (2005) on "How to build a brick BBQ". I knew what I wanted but never working with bricks and mortar before in my life, I was a little nervous going into this project. I'm a computer support technician by day and an avid woodworking hobbyist. In addition to the taste of genuine slow cooked BBQ, I have always enjoyed the pleasant aroma of various woods used during an all day cookout or even a campfire. Just the same, there's nothing like the smell of fresh cut cherry in my shop when I'm working on a woodworking project. I knew I wanted to build something that would be functional as a BBQ/Smoker pit, be an asthetically pleasing focal point in my yard, AND relatively inexpensive. Basically it would have to please me AND my wife.
The following will be a series of articles on Research and Planning, Design and Design-as-you-go construction, and the best part - Using the Pit.
RESEARCH AND PLANNING
I surfed and surfed and came up with a few good ideas from the Internet. Another decent source of information was a paperback book called Building Barbecues & Outdoor Kitchens by Sunset books. Once I got the basic shape in mind I had to determine the overall space I had to work with. Of course, in my particular situation I had just got a stamped concrete patio poured so I knew exactly what I had to work with. (10 feet).
You must also take into consideration, your surroundings. Going with a design that includes a fireplace as mine does, it does generate some heat. You really don't want it directly under any low trees! You'll need a chimney cover to keep sparks to a minimum and to keep precipitation from entering down your flue. You should also leave plenty of space around the entire perimeter, with of course plenty of space in the front for lounging.
Since mine is on my poured patio I'm confident it can handle the weight. Concrete is cheap, go thick enough! Maybe even go wide enough to include a nice hearth area or an area for sitting, but I recommend at least a couple of feet for sparks, etc. The weight of the truck that dropped off my materials was enough to crush my driveway, no water added. Each one of those yellow bags of mortar you see in the photos are 80 pounds each. You cringe each time you have to open a new bag.
Along with the research I had to do on my initial design, I had NO experience whatsoever in masonry. If you're in the same arena as me, you might want to do a smaller practice project somewhere in your yard BEFORE mixing your first batch of mortar and going to town. If I had to do it all over again, I would have definately practiced first! Although I learned a lot by trial and error, sometimes the knowledge gained was a little too late. It made for a lot of scrubbing and cleaning in the long run
and a lot of mis-aligned or loose brick and block right from the start.
Since this IS a masonry project, I highly recommend consulting with a TRUE Mason BEFORE starting the job. I found that getting several opinions and suggestions from "ALMOST" Masons resulted in too many varying opinions and when it came down to it, in 90 degree heat, neither bickering over which way was best OR undoing/redoing work was NOT what I enjoyed the most about this project, especially with all the pre-planning I thought I had done.
There are several good websites out there which offer great advice for the novice. In addition to your research on barbeques another good resource for methods and ideas are brick pizza and bread ovens. My original design had a small brick oven that was going on the left side. Due to space limitations and time constraints, I had to nix it in the end. Now I really wish I inlcuded it. Time is also another factor you really need to have planned out from the very beginning.
So, you have an idea in mind where do you go from there? Get some graph paper and start with a basic sketch. Next, since I'm an avid computer geek as well I open the Paintbrush program that most everyone has already on their computers and I started pulling in basic images of ideas I liked. I actually saved these files too but have since lost them because I wasn't a [i]good enough[/i] computer geek! (Long story, but Earthlink is no longer my friend!) So now I have a rough draft of what I wanted it to look like and how I wanted it to function. I was ready to start ordering materials...but how many and how much?
Some of the articles on the Internet had actually included the quantity of bricks, blocks and mortar others have used in their projects. This was very helpful and gave a good starting point. Then once I had a rough idea in mind of the quantities I thought I needed, I went to my local brick supplier. The salesman also had a way to calculate the quantity of mortar I would need based on the amount of bricks I was purchasing.
I started with (20) 80 pound bags and purchased an additional (8) bags by the time the job was complete. The other thing I had done to calculate the total number of materials was to simply count the number of bricks in a certain amount of rows, etc. and then multiply by the number of rows I thought I had to go to obtain my total height. Even with all the pre-planning I had done, I ended up making several trips to the brickyard with my own truck for additional brick and block. I beleive the total count of red "backer brick" I used was 1,000. I also used 4x8x16 hollow block for the back and sides which saved me a little. The red backer brick were .42 cents each and the block were .72 cents each. Bags of mortar were somewhere around $7.50 each.
The most difficult part to plan ahead of time was the ceiling. Again, I knew what I wanted to do but I couldn't find any detailed examples to give me an idea ahead of time on how to construct it and tie it in all together. I knew the fundamentals of how to build the ceiling so I went to my local metal scrap yard and I was able to pick up various lengths of extruded aluminum 5/16" thick angle stock. Since it was a friend that owned the scrap yard I couldn't really be choosy about the donation :)
I stopped to my local steel mill who has a scrap pile you can pick through for .50 cents a pound. There, I was to pick up some flat iron stock and some longer angle iron. These are the pieces I used across the top lenghtwise to hold up my chimney flue and my ceiling of firebrick on the inside.
Once I ordered all of my materials from the brickyard, the truck showed up a couple days later and it was all at the top of my driveway waiting for me when I got home, on a Friday no less. I thought I was golden having the whole weekend ahead of me. I had my basic idea all laid out in Microsoft Paintbrush by now, so with printed copy in hand I started dry-stacking everything. I had everything all dry stacked in 2 hours flat. Piece of cake, now all I need to do is mix up some mortar tomorrow and "glue it all together".
Yeah, right. This whole thing took me from May to July!
CONSTRUCTION: Article coming soon. Stay tuned or check out the rest of the photos at http://www.richsterling.com/ !
USE: Article also coming soon... detailed pics as the weather warms up of our spring and summer entertaining.
Brick BBQ Pit
Want to learn how to make money online?
You may want to read this book first.
Slow Smoked Success: Provocative Thoughts on Business, Life and BBQ
"A good piece of BBQ can be judged by many things. But the two most prevalent points are, after you eat a piece you want more. Second point is 2 hours later you should still be tasting it. BBQ does that to you, but so do many other things. This book is written to help appreciate the little things in life by drawing comparisons between good BBQ, Business and Life in general."
Lee Bentch's insightful account of his quest for barbecue offers a fresh perspective and presents barbecue for what it should be...fun.
It would make a good gift for most any barbecue fan.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
They build offsets suitable for catering, back yard smoking, and competition cooking from big to small and just about everything in between.
And if the website doesn't convince you, I'll add this....none other than Bar-b-Quau of the KCBS competition circuit now cooks on a PCC cooker.
Friday, November 16, 2007
From their website:
1. After roasting, cover the turkey with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes.
2. Transfer the bird to your largest cutting surface.
3. With a sharp, thin-bladed carving knife, find the place where the thighbone meets the body. By cutting between the joints, and not through bones, you can disconnect the bones without much fuss.
4. Pull the thigh away from the bird and slip your knife into the joint to separate the thigh from body.
5. Wiggle the drumstick to locate the joint that separates the drumstick from the thigh. Using the same technique, cut through the joint, not the bone.
6. Next use your knife to find where the wing and body connect. Slip your knife into the joint to separate wing from body on each side.
7. Now remove the breast, by cutting down the center of the bird on one side of the bone and the breast will come off in one piece.
8. Carve the breast into thin slices.
9. Repeat with the other side of the breast.
They also have a DVD available.
We plan to deep fry our turkey again this year after brining overnight in a salt and honey solution. It's become our favorite turkey recipe. I'll take a fried turkey over and oven baked turkey every time.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
I wrote an article a few weeks ago about Virginia Barbecue and the franchise by the same name. TheStreet.com included an article on this low cost bbq franchise concept today.
Bone Daddy's at the Mill BBQ
This Saginaw, MI restaurant features bbq and live entertainment.
Above Average BBQ
Mackie Hayes, owner, sells bbq from his barbecue chuck wagon. For Mackie, it's a family tradition.
Doc's Q'in Pit Stop
This Modesto, CA restaurant uses almond wood for their bbq.
British BBQ Invasion at Jack Daniels Cookoff
American-style barbecue receives some international recognition.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
This herd of beef cattle was brought to America in the early 1990's and safeguarded from American bulls for more than 10-years to preserve the Japanese bloodlines.
The largest provider of Akaushi beef in America is Heart Brand Beef, a natural, hormone free beef that is high in monounsaturated fat.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
This Business Week article features a discussion of the Personal MBA, and it's inspired me to develop my own list of the best barbecue books, so you can earn your own Master's Degree in Barbecue Cooking (MDBC).
I will start the list with three of my favorite barbecue books:
- Smoke and Spice, by Bill and Cheryl Jamison
- Peace Love and Barbecue, by Mike Mills and Amy Mills Tunnicliffe
- Dr. BBQ's Big Time BBQ Cookbook, by Ray Lampe
...but I need your help.
My personal collection of barbecue books includes nine or ten books about barbecue and grilling. Not all of the books are what I'd describe as "required reading" for a MDBC degree, so I've left those that are less than my favorites off the list.
Please submit your own suggestions for bbq books that you would consider "essential reading" for anyone that is serious about dedicating themselves to learning the art of barbecue cooking by clicking the comments link below .
Suggestions from readers:
If you have a cooking contest event that you'd like to see posted here, please let me know.
December 2, 2007
Old Town Truck N’ For Toys
5770 W. U.S. Highway
Chili Name: __________________________________________
Turn in for judging: 1:00P.M. Entry Fee: $20.00
Make checks payable to: Devereux of Florida (Charity of the day)
Mail entry form and check to: Candace Knight Arevalo
1385 Pinetta Circle
Wellington, FL 33414
CASI Sanctioned - CASI Rules. Chili Appreciation Society International – Top ten winners receive points towards going to the World Championship in Terlingua, Texas in November 2008. You do not have to be a member of CASI to participate in the chili cook-off. To learn more about CASI and CASI rules go to www.chili.org
This will be a fun event. Radio Disney and Entertainment until 6 PM the day of the chili cookoff. Old Town looks like an old town with bars, restaurants, and shops all down each row. There are rides for the kids at the end of the town. All the hotels listed below are walking distance from Old Town. Everyone stay at one of the hotels across the street. Cooks party Saturday night at The Blue Max in Old Town.
All Disney parks are right down the road so maybe you can plan a little vacation at one of the parks while your there.
Hotel accommodations walking distance from Old Town:
TROPICAL PALMS (Cabins and RV’s)
SUITES AT OLD TOWN
Hope to see you there,
Friday, November 09, 2007
If my arithemetic is correct, it takes 2,250 "bones" to serve 750 people (750 servings multiplied by 3 bones each). Each rack of ribs has 13 bones, so 2,250 divided by 13 results in 172 racks of ribs.
I have two medium sized smokers with a total of 11 shelves will hold three racks of ribs each for a total capacity of 33 racks. Cooking ribs in such large quantities calls for a little creativity. Instead of placing the ribs flat on the racks, as is customary, I could triple the smoker capacity by using rib racks and cook 9 racks of ribs on each smoker shelf and raise the overall capacity to 99. But, realistically, to cook ribs for 750 people I would need two more smokers.
Monday, November 05, 2007
The meat packaging industry is now using carbon monoxide to preserve the deep reddish color for consumers. The carbon monoxide helps the meat maintain the fresh look longer.
Another article from The Washington Post discusses whether the FDA should consider banning carbon monoxide treated meat from grocer shelves. Meat packers use this technique because it improves profitability. If consumers have a choice between purchasing a nice reddish color meat versus one that is not "fresh" looking (i.e. a color less than red), they'll most likely purchase the "redder" color every time.
The Consumer Federation of America is a consumer group that has petitioned the FDA to eliminate the use of carbon monoxide in meat packing. Seventy-eight out of a hundred people surveyed believe using carbon monoxide to treat meat is deceptive, according to a CFA press release dated September 2006.
I am in agreement that it's deceptive and believe the FDA should require labels on all meat that is packaged using these techniques to help maintain the appearance of freshness. And while they are at it, they should also require labels for any meat that is imported from outside the U.S.
This development is another example of the trust we place in those who prepare our food. I don't go to just any doctor that puts up a shingle and I don't buy my meat just anywhere, certainly not from a door to door salesman; and you shouldn't either.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
You can get a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) delivered from Amazon.com and then order your delivery of bbq rub from ButtRub.com. After a quick trip to Sam's Club for meat, lump charcoal, and supplies, you'll be cooking better than restaurant-quality bbq in no time.
There's no doubt that the web helps flatten the learning curve for those new to the bbq hobby. The quest for competition quality bbq that used to take 5 - 10 years to learn by hit or miss experimentation has been and can be shortened into 6 - 8 months. I've heard tell of some people that have started serious bbq cooking in February and by August they were competing in sanctioned bbq contests (yours truly included). I also know several people that recorded category and top 5 finishes within their first couple of contests (we won 1st place chicken in our second event). I say this to make the point that although the internet is a wonderful tool to research and learn, it can sometimes hamper a bbq team's development at the same time.
When learning anything new, some of the most valuable lessons are learned during that "newbie" time period when you "don't know what you don't know" (to borrow from Darrell Waltrip). During this experimentation period, new cooks are free to try anything and everything and they haven't yet developed tunnel vision when it comes to bbq.
Using a certain spice rub or sauce just because so and so does it and wins alot, is not necessarily the best approach to take. Although so and so might use a certain brand, the real "secret method" is the other stuff they add to it like honey, jelly, sugar, etc.; and sometimes those "additives" make the difference between winning occasionally and winning consistently.
It's human nature to want to take the easy route, but when it comes to consistently producing prize winning contest entries; I'm just not sure "easy" always wins.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Serious Eats discusses how to eat out like a local.
"Pull off the highway, engage a local. At the gas station, talk to not only the attendant but to the two or three local people standing at the pumps next to you. Ask them where they like to eat. Make it clear you aren’t looking for a chain—you’re looking for their best local food. Locals know the spots where prices are low, flavors are bold, and where everyone gathers."
GridSkipper.com has a article that rates New York City's best bbq.
"...New York has also experienced an onslaught of barbecue restaurants. Some have been deemed "authentic" by fans; some lack any resemblance to a Texas or Carolina outpost, but make up for it in taste. (And there are some that just plain suck.) "
And last, but not least...here's a bbq video trailer I found on You Tube titled Inside the World of Championship BBQ
Their website explains that it's typical for beef carcasses to be aged about 7-days prior to butchering into retail cuts. The article goes on to explain that aging beef is more effective for older cows and for beef that is darker in color.
"in carcasses where lean was lighter in color, tenderness continued to improve during up to 16 days of aging....maintain the temperature at 30 to 35 degrees F while the beef carcass is being aged"
To learn more about the advantages, disadvantages, and risks associated with the aging process, visit the University of Minnesota Extension via the world wide web.
Competition BBQ Secrets