Sunday, August 27, 2006

BBQ Golden Chicken

By: Peter Lenkefi

1 Chicken, [3 lb]
1 tb Fresh thyme, chopped
1 Orange
1/4 ts Black peppercorns, coarsely cracked
1/3 c White wine vinegar
1/4 c Vegetable oil

With kitchen scissors or chef's knife, cut along each side of chicken's backbone; remove backbone and trim visible fat. Tuck wing tips behind back; flatten to 1 layer. Place in shallow casserole.

Grate orange rind and squeeze out juice; mix with vinegar, oil, thyme and pepper. Pour over chicken; cover and marinate in refrigerator, turning often, for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Reserving marinade, place chicken, skin side down, on greased grill over medium-low indirect heat. Add soaked wood chips. Cover and cook for 1 hour, turning and basting with marinade halfway through. Transfer to direct heat; cook for 10 minutes per side or until meat thermometer inserted in thigh registers 185F 85C.

Remove to platter and tent with foil; let stand for 10 minutes before cutting into quarters.

Per Serving: about 455 calories, 41 g protein, 30 g fat, 3 g carbohydrate good source iron.

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

BBQ Picture Posting

I made some ribs this weekend and took some step-by-step notes and pictures.

I had hoped to post them by now, but for some reason I am unable to post them without receiving an error message. I recently switched from the Classic Blogger to the new Beta Format that offers more features, including many that readers have requested that I add.

Until they get the kinks worked out of the beta version of Blogger, it doesn't look like I'll be able to post as many pictures. I try to post them over at and then point back to them from here as a temporary workaround until posting pictures becomes more reliable.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Caldera Tall Boy

My neighbor just returned from the East Coast last night and brought back the Caldera Tall Boy from a visit to the BBQ Guru's headquarters in Philadelphia.

It's pretty sharp. It's nearly the same height as a Backwoods Party smoker and it's powder coated inside and out. I've seen it up close and it's designed very well. I can tell those cookers are manufactured with a great deal of precision. The charcoal pan seems small, but with the temperature control I expect it's enough for ribs and probably enough for a couple pork butts. When it's cold outside I suspect you'd have to refill it at least once when cooking more than a brisket or couple of butts, but it might prove me wrong. The cooking chamber has double wall thickness, but it's not insulated.

It's big enough and deep enough to hold the standard size aluminum foil oven pans used by catering folks and readily available at the local Sam's Club. He chose the "Competitor" temperature control unit.

I just might have to add this to my "wish list" in the future, but right now I particularly favor the originally designed, Caldera Del Fuego, but I haven't seen it up close and haven't cooked on it either.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Caldera BBQ Smoker

Let me see if I've got this right..."The only difference between men and boys are the price of their toys."

I'm definitely suffering from a case of jealousy tonight. I talked to my neighbor a few minutes ago and he's headed to Philadelphia later in the week to pick up either the Caldera Del Fuego knock down smoker or the Caldera Tall Boy knock down version of the design. I saw the standard model at the Jack Daniels cook-off in Lynchburg a couple years ago, but didn't get an up close view.

I'll post more details once he picks it up and I get a chance to check it out up close.

Picture #1

Picture # 2

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back to BBQ

The BBQ Guy and The BBQ Gal have been entertaining The BBQ In-Laws for the past few days. We haven't cooked any low-and-slow bbq for more than a week and plan to get back at it soon with a rib cook scheduled for this upcoming weekend.

The BBQ Mother-In-Law visiting from Tennessee this weekend ordered some bbq ribs at O'Charleys on Saturday night after our visit to Greenfield Village. I didn't have ribs, but the baby back ribs she ordered looked pretty good. She commented that compared to the ribs I cook, they were absent of flavor, but I did notice that she cleaned meat from the bones pretty well and the ribs pulled apart easily with just a minor tug of the fingers.

We had a lot of fun and especially enjoyed the Vintage Baseball game between the Greenfield Village Lah De Dah's and the Mt. Clemens Regulars played under the rules in effect circa 1860.

We also made a trip back to the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan near Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The restaurant on the premises had bbq pork on the menu, but the only cooker I saw must have been a Baker's Pride Charbroiler gas grill. It was under wraps and didn't look like it's been used much, so I'm not quite sure whether the bbq pork is cooked on premises or brought in from another source. I can't quite imagine how you can produce bbq pulled pork from "propane grill", but I've been surprised before. I'd have to see it to believe it though. As gas grills go though, I must admit the Baker's Pride is a fine example.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Contest Pork Butt Recipe Test Cook

I'm in the mood for an experiment, so Linda headed out to Sam's and picked up a two-pack of pork butts. The two weigh 12 lbs. and appear to be the same size, so I'm guessing they're 6 lb. butts. Just the perfect size for what I've got in mind.

I'm going to be comparing a couple of well-known receips from two of the most popular cooks in America. Alton Brown from Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt cooked a brined pork butt using some flower pots and an electric hot plate on one of my favorite Good Eats episodes of all time. Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q restaurant in Decatur, AL has a recipe that's been published in several books and is all over the Internet for his competition pork shoulder injection.

Alton Brown's recipe specifies letting the butt set in the brine solution under refrigeration for 8 hours minimum and ideally for 12 hours.

Ingredients: 3/4 cup molasses, 12 pickling salt, 2 quarts of water

Chris Lilly's pork injection is injected into the meat and is also refrigerated for several hours prior to cooking.

Ingredients: 3/4 cup apple juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup kosher salt finely ground, 2 TBSP Worchestershire

I brined one and injected the other and refrigerated them overnight. I put them on the cooker at 9 a.m.

It's a funny thing about those pictures above taken as I put the butts on the cooker. Have you already noticed it? Does it seem like something is missing? Yep, you guessed it--no bbq rub.

When downloading these pictues from the camera to the BBQ Blog, I noticed the rub was missing and quickly headed back downstairs to apply some. I've never used it before, but I applied some of Billy Bones' rub. It'll be a nice test because I've never used anything quite like his rub before. It's quite different than what I normally favor. Hey, maybe I've hit on one of the reasons I've never won the pork category. Maybe my tastes for pork rubs and sauces are different than what the judges are looking for. It's a good thing I'm testing some new stuff. It sounds like I need the practice.

Results (updated at 6:58 p.m.):

I just finished the taste test from today's experiment.

Injection: I may have done something wrong with the injection solution recipe that is attributed to Chris Lilly, but it did not obtain the anticipated results. In his book, Peace, Love and Barbecue, author Mike Mills mentions that the injection technique is very important when injecting pork. I've seen videos and clips on Food Network of Chris Lilly injecting shoulder and I have to admit that he makes it look easy. My results today will prove that it isn't the least bit easy because the injected pork had almost no flavor, except in the pockets of the pork butt that was injected, and those weren't very hard to find because the Worchestershire sauce left dark streaks in the meat at each injection point.

In my 6 lb butt, I injected 3 oz. of mixture in small 1/2 oz portions. I attempted to space the injections evenly throughout the butt, but in the end my experiment with the Chris Lilly injection did not yield acceptable results. I may try it again sometime, but for now I'll stick to my tried and true apple juice and honey mixture that I've been using for the past 4-years. I'm not saying the recipe isn't good, I'm just admitting that I apparently don't how to implement it correctly.

Brine: I followed Alton Brown's recipe for the molasses brine solution and left the meat in the solution for 12 hours. Although much, much better than the injection results, the pork turned out a little on the salty side for me. When judging I definitely recall that many of the pork entries come in with a salty flavor, but my personal palate finds a strong salty flavor undesireable. I'll definitely try the brine again and instead of the 12-hours suggested in the recipe, I'll cut the brining time back to 8 hours with hopes of toning down the salt slightly.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

BBQ Contest Brisket Turn In Boxes

Sample #1

Sample #2

Sample # 3

Sample # 4

We're been pretty successful lately with brisket at KCBS contests. These four sample boxes are actual turn-in boxes from various contests during the past couple of years. Can you pick the first place turn-in box?

If you compete in bbq contests, I would urge you to purchas a digital camera and take pictures of all your turn-in boxes. I haven't looked at these boxes for several weeks now and they are a real eye opener for me. Linda prepares all of our turn-in boxes and I can see the progression in the overall quality of the presentation. It's been my experience that if you have terrible meat and good presentation, you can still salvage a respectable finish in the event.

Hint: One of these boxes looks a lot better than the brisket tasted, but it still finished very well in the contest.

Scroll down a little more for a summary of the actual contest results for these entries.

Sample #3 and Sample #4 were winners and #1 was a 6th place entry and #2 was a 13th place entry.

The pictures don't do them justice, but although #3 was the best presentation (in my opinion), it was also my least favorite brisket I've ever turned in. Either 14th place through 50th turned in some really bad brisket entries, or the presentation saved us. I'll bet on the presentation myself. As long as KCBS allows lettuce and parsley for garnish in their entries, I think appearance counts just about equal for taste. Only when they do away with the greens will the judges truly begin to focus on the taste of the meat samples.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

BBQ Blog Survey

I do my best to provide interesting content here on The BBQ Blog, but every once in awhile I get the desire to reflect on the types of articles, pictures, series, projects, and information that I share about the wonderful world of BBQ.

In an attempt to better understand the folks that take time from their busy schedules to stop by and check in from time to time I'd like to propose a short survey to help me better provide the types of information you're looking for and to learn what you like to see more of (or maybe less of).

Just hit the comments link below and type in your responses if you would like to share your views/opinions.

1. How long have you been cooking barbecue?

2. How many times per month do you cook barbecuce?

3. What type of smoker do you use?

4. How many smokers to you own?

5. Do you compete in bbq contests?

6. Are you a member of a bbq sanctioning organization?

7. What is you most favorite thing about The BBQ Blog?

8. What is your least favorite thing about The BBQ Blog?

9. What topics would you like to see featured on The BBQ Blog?

10. Would you be interested in writing an article to be featured on the the blog?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Contest Chicken Turn In Box

Follow-up to Monday's post...

Now that you've had a few days to think about it, I guess I'll go ahead and spill the beans--#2 earned us a first place and contributed to our overall Reserve Grand Champion finish at a Michigan KCBS contest last summer.

It's amazing going back and looking at these pictures again after-the-fact. It just goes to show that appearance counts for more than you think at bbq cook-offs. It only counts for a small portion of the judges score, but it's so competitive that a bad appearance score can kill your finish in the category and hinders you overall performance in the contest.

I think it's best if you appoint someone on your cooking team as the person that prepares the boxes. That way you build consistency into the process. But, in heat of the moment the best laid plans don't always go as anticipated.

Below I have posted a few of our actual turn-in boxes from KCBS events we've competed in during the course of the past two years. I thought it would be fun for readers to guess which of the boxes scored highest with the judges.

Care to weigh in with your opinion?

Some of the pictures are better than others and some images are more crisp and "brighter" than the others, but don't let that sway your opinion unnecessarily. Be sure to take into account the overall layout of the box and dare I say it--the lettuce.

Sample # 1

Sample # 2

Sample # 3

The answer may surprise you.

Copy Cat Recipes!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Beef Eaters Guide

Food Network just posted a series of articles that beef fans everywhere can appreciate--a series on buying, serving, and eating beef. Pick your favorite beef whether round, sirloin, rib or chuck and you'll find a recipe for it.

The series discusses organic beef, aged beef, resting beef, in a "Meat Eater's Guide" and includes 22 beef recipes. Barbecuers everywhere will want to pay real close attention to the ones on aging and resting beef (wink, wink), especially brisket.

Alton Brown: Feasting on Asphalt

If you missed the latest and greatest of Alton Brown's television programs on Food Network you'll surely want to check out the next episode that airs on August 5, at 9 p.m. eastern.

In this weeks episode of “Feasting on Asphalt” Alton will be sampling some pit-smoked pork BBQ at the Carolina Smokehouse in Cashiers, North Carolina. Hel'll head east throught the Smokey Mountains and stop by Sanders Café Museum and Kentucky Fried Chicken in Corbin, Kentucky to learn about the history and fame of Colonel Harlan Sanders. Other plans call for eating pork brain sandwiches in Evansville, Indiana before ending the show with a visti to Ted Drewe’s in St. Louis, Missouri.

I've been to Ted Drewe's many times and can attest to their wholesome goodness. It's a perfect compliment to bbq. Heck, it's a perfect compliment to almost everything. If you live in St. Louis, you know what I'm talking about, but if you're from the outskirts of the St. Louis metropolitan area and haven't been to Ted Drewe's, you don't know what you're missing.

If your a businessman or woman, or an aspiring businessman or woman, and the restaurant business is what you're interested in, then you need to make a trip to Ted Drewe's to see how they do it.

I haven't been there in 10-years, but during my last visit there were about 10 "windows" at the drive-in with lines of 10-12 deep standing at each one. The shakes were served in styrofoam containers with spoons and straws and were real, real thick. It's a thing of beauty from a business standpoint. Low overhead and high margins. I'm assured by those in know that have been there recently that it's still as busy as ever.