Friday, September 30, 2005

The American Royal Barbecue Contest is being held this weekend signifying that the 2005 barbecue contest season is nearing an end.

We had a lot of fun in our first year living in Michigan and competing outside of the State of Florida for the first time. We attended events in Carmel, IN; Winchester, TN, Madison, IN; Grand Rapids, MI; and Dundee, MI.

Many people think of barbecue contests as a strictly a southern past time, but I can attest that midwesterners are serious about their barbecue contests too.

Madison, IN and Grand Rapids, MI had too of the largest contests I've ever attended with contestants coming from several states to compete.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

How many times have you been cooking from a recipe and needed to multiply the recipe to make a larger batch? It happens to me all the time.

Check out this web site with a handy kitchen calculator to help you with measurements and conversions.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM):

The picture at the right is a picture of my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) bbq smoker. For anyone looking for an economical bbq smoker, this fits the bill perfectly.

The WSM is versatile enough to use in the backyard or in bbq competition. We use our WSM at home when we want to cook smaller quantities and in competition to cook our brisket. We achieved some pretty results with this low cost, low tech bbq cooking solution.

BBQ Chicken Test

From the Barbecue Test Kitchen:

(Sept 14) I've been reading and hearing a lot of debate regarding the pro's and con's of cooking chicken "low and slow" versus cooking at "higher" temps, or even starting at low temps and finishing at higher temps to "crisp" the skin.

I plan to highlight all three methods here this week and provide a step-by-step outline of my testing methods, recipes, marinades, cooking temps, finishing temps, rubs, sauces, cookers used, etc.

I am going to be cooking 12 Amish chicken thighs--4 using each method outlined above.

I like "Amish" chicken thighs specifically because in my experience any chicken that has been soaked in a sodium solution during processing turns out too salty after it's been seasoned with a bbq rub. I've good luck with Publix chicken (all-natural), but since we've moved to Michigan I can't find it. Another good brand is Pilgrim's Pride, which is also Sodium free.

The chicken will be rubbed with an equal mixture of garlic granules, onion granules, black pepper, salt, chili powder and a small amount of chipotle powder. I always put the spice rub under the skin and then fold the skin back on top of the rub and spread the skin evenly over the thigh.

I will marinate the chicken thighs in an Italian dressing mixture that includes apple juice, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, honey, basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

I never have been a big proponent of allowing meat to sit out until it reaches room temperature as some folks do, so I will remove the chicken directly from marinating in the refrigerator and place it directly on the cookers.

(Sept 19) The chicken cooking test turned out a little unexpected.

The chicken cooked at high temps (325 degrees) and low and slow (225 degrees) then finished at high temps (325 degrees) turned out to be a lot dryer than I expected. Also, the skin did not really crisp up very well. It's a very fine line between crisp skin and burnt black skin.

The chicken cooked at 225 degrees (the way we do it in competition with good results) had a much more predictable result--tender, juicy, tastey, but with "chewy" skin.

I guess I've confirmed what a lot of folks have know for years....there are tradeoffs in just about everything you set out to do it life...bbq is no exception.

Friday, September 09, 2005

You know you're BBQ crazy when:

You take your wife to dinner at Cracker Barrel on Friday night and spend 45 minutes talking about how it would make a great bbq restaurant.

I don't know what's worse or who is more bbq crazy--me or her--because as she ate her chicken and dumplins' and I ate a catfish filet, we discussed what we would serve our customers if we owned a bbq restaurant.

I do know one thing for certain....I'm a lucky guy.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Spare time activity:

I've been writing a novel for about three months now and it's been a lot of fun.

It's neat to start with a concept for a storyline and expand it upon it...sometimes it takes you in a completely different direction.

My goal is to have it finished before Christmas, so my thought is that by writing about it here will put a little pressure on me to follow through by year-end.

Stay tuned for excerpts and snippets from time to time.