Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Charcoal Maze

If you're having difficulty maintaining consistent and even burn times in your upright cooker, a simple charcoal maze will probably solve your problems.

The charcoal maze pictured is made from plain old sheet metal and the grate between the charcoal and the ash pan is constructed from expanded metal.

There is about a 2 inch gap between the grate and the ash pan.

This cooker also has 1 inch of insulation throughout the walls and doors, which makes it very efficient. In warm weather I can cook for 20+ hours on one load of charcoal.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Barbecue Pork

Here's an interesting graph that summarizes a pulled pork cooking session I did.
I did not record the cooker and meat temperature at strict intervals, which looks a little funny on the graph. I am sure that the meat temperature reached 140 degrees or more within the 4 hour health department guideline.
The temperature decline at the end of the session represents the "rest period" before pulling it apart for supper.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cooking for Real with Sunny Anderson

I've been enjoying some vacation days at home this week. A little cleaning, a little cooking, and some yard work later I sat down and watched some TV yesterday.

I ran across a new Food Network program that is totally fresh and happening. It's called Cooking for Real and it's hosted by Sunny Anderson. She made some cider brined fried chicken and cabbage slaw that looked intersting. After cooking it myself, I'm a big fan of Sunny Anderson.

I made Sunny's fried chicken for supper last night. Linda loved it so much that she proclaimed it the best fried chicken she'd ever eaten. If you're looking for a crispy and crunchy fried chicken recipe look no further. Read the recipe.

I cut back on the cayenne and used 1 tablespoon each of black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne, which turned out well.

Note: The pepper goes in the egg wash instead of the flour/corn starch. Also, instead of rolling the chicken in the flour, you've got to try the brown paper bag shake method. It really works.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sponsorship for BBQ Contests

I am pulling out my soap box this morning. I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now and need to get some things off my chest.

I am a member of two bbq sanctioning bodies -- the Kansas City Barbeque Society and Florida Barbecue Association. To get directly to the point...I believe both organizations need to focus more attention on helping cook teams find affordable ways to compete in their contests.

I've written about my own personal strategies to reduce costs and increase revenues from my contest efforts on this blog in the past, but it's not an isolated problem. Affordability issues affect all teams that compete.

To my knowledge neither sanctioning organization has ever held any training seminars that offered step-by-step guides to assist the individual cook teams in obtaining sponsorship for local, regional, or national contests. Doing so would have a three-fold benefit:

1) individual cook teams would have additional methods for offsetting competition expenses

2) sanctioning bodies would benefit by increased participation in bbq contests

3) contest organizers would receive more participation and increased revenues

I'd bet that I'm a pretty good cross-section of the barbecue population that competes in bbq contests on a semi-regular basis. I've competed in at least 25 sanctioned bbq contests during the past several years. I driven thousands of miles to get to them and spent more than $20,000 on bbq related events and equipment.

I've met some nice people. I've seen some nice areas of the country that I would have never visited if they hadn't sponsored a bbq contest. And, I've helped raise money for many, many charitable and municipal organizations. However, if something doesn't change, I'm going to have to stop doing it and I suspect that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teams like mine who have reached the same cross-roads.

The price of gasoline, meat, supplies, lodging, vehicles, contest entry fees, and cookers have continued to rise while the prize money awarded has remained stagnant on the whole. If you don't win first or second overall, you're in the hole at the end of the weekend.

I am not a professional marketer, but I am guessing that the membership of KCBS and FBA has many professional marketers in the ranks who would be willing to offer assistance. If not, I would think that a portion of the membership or sanctioning fees should be allocated to preparing downloadable materials that could be used by cook teams to solicit local and regional sponsorship. Who else other than the sanctioning bodies can provide the kind of economic data that would strengthen the sales pitch to potential sponsors?

If you agree that there is a disconnect, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts and ideas. Or if you disagree with me and think that sponsorship for individual cook teams has nothing to do with the sanctioning body, I'd also enjoy hearing from you.

In the end, there is another alternative, although I know it's probably not practical or viable economically given the approach the contest organizers are currently taking -- reduce the entry fees to $0 and increase public participation in the contests to offset the lost revenue.

You'd be surprised how far that $250-$300 would go toward increasing cook team participation. In this manner even a top three or four in a category or two would have meaningful effects to help defray cook team expenses.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Marcia Ball - Peace Love & BBQ

Looking for some music to barbeque by? Look no farther than Marcia Ball's Peace Love & BBQ. Here's a couple of videos from You Tube featuring this Louisiana blues woman.

Lauderdale Slow Cookin' KCBS Event

The KCBS Barbeque State Championship presented by East Coast Eventz, Inc. is being held November 14 -16 . The bbq contest will award $4,000 to the grand champion and $2,000 to the reserve grand champion. Category winners receive $500 for first place.

The entry fee for the bbq contest is $245 for KCBS members who enter early. Early entrants who are non-KCBS members can register for $280. The event is being held at the War Memorial Auditorium located at 800 NE 8th Street in Fort Lauderdale, FL near Sunrise Boulevard.

FBA Triple Crown BBQ Competition

I received a flyer in the mail today announcing the Southern Pines Blues & BBQ Festival on December 12 - 13. The list of entertainers looks promising and includes Larry McCray, Johnnie Marshall, and Damon Fowler. A $10 ticket price provides admission for the entire weekend.

The winner of the FBA Triple Crown competition will receive a Willie Nelson autographed guitar and $2,000. The weekend event is sponsored in part by Old Whiskey River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and the Perry-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to Prepare and Cook BBQ Brisket

As loyal readers of the forum probably already know, brisket has become one of my favorite barbecued meats.

1. I started off with a visit to my local butcher and picked up a 16 lb. untrimmed brisket. I used to cook the brisket flats from Sam's Club, but after switching to "whole" briskets a few years ago, my results improved tremendously and so did my bbq contest results. A large, untrimmed brisket will cost $30-$35 depending on the weight and depending on whether it's a Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brisket. If it's available, I prefer CAB.

2. Last night I trimmed off some of the excess fat cap on the brisket, pierced the brisket with my Jaccard and rubbed it liberally with my Southern BBQ Rub. If you don't have a Jaccard, you can use a fork and pierce holes in the meat, which will allow the bbq rub to better penetrate the meat.

3. I placed the brisket in a double thickness plastic garbage bag and refrigerated it overnight. This allows time for the seasoning to penetrate the meat and also makes getting it on the cooker faster when it comes time to start the cooking process.

4. This morning I pre-heated the Weber Smokey Mountain to 250 degrees, added water to the water pan, removed the brisket from the refrigerator, and placed it directly on in the WSM. The health department recommends that meat spend less than 4 hours in the danger zone (i.e. internal meat temperature higher than 40 degrees and lower than 140 degrees.)

(I do not subscribe to the theory that allowing the meat to rise to room temperature will somehow improve the cooking results. I think it allows the potential for meat spoilage, although I’ve seen World Champion Barbecue Teams do it at competitions.)

5. Maintain cooker temp as low as possible near 190 degrees for as long as possible. I've found that the slower I can cook the brisket, the more consistent my results are.

6. I foil the brisket after about 5 hours, or once the bark begins to form.

7. I spritz with apple juice a few times during the cooking process as well. This seems to help with bark formation.

8. I continue cooking until the brisket temperature reaches 198 degrees.

9. I let the brisket set in an Igloo cooler for 3 - 4 hours before slicing it up.

10. After slicing, I sauce with my favorite bbq sauce. A brush works well for saucing each individual slice of brisket for even coverage.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chicken Bleu Breasts and Sparkling Potatoes

Place chicken wrap between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound flat with a rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add boiled ham to center, sprinkle ham with 2 TBSP shredded Swiss cheese and 1/2 TSP of chopped chives. Roll up chicken, wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.

I used sandwich sliced ham. You can use boiled ham or cubed/chunked ham as alternatives.

I pre-heated two Dutch Ovens--10 inch on left and 12 inch on right.

After flouring, egg washing, and rolling in bread crumbs, I added the chicken to the 10 inch oven. I cooked for 25 minutes with the lid on and turned once after 15 minutes to brown both sides of the chicken breasts.

For the potatoes, Linda scrubbed with skins, browned 1 LB of bacon, drained grease, mixed in onions, mushrooms, and added the potatoes to the 12 inch oven. I then added 12 ounces of Sprite, 1 TSP of salt, 1/2 TSP of pepper. I cooked for 30 minutes with the lid on.

I added parsley and cheddar cheese when serving the potatoes and, although not pictured, Linda made homemade bread.

Are you hungry yet?

Recipe for Chicken Bleu Breasts and Sparkling Potatoes courtesty of Lovin' Dutch Ovens by Joan S. Larsen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

BBQ Pork Butt Prep

I prepared 6 pork butts for an appointment with the smoker.
Pictured clockwise from the top left: Cabela's meat injector, two 32 oz containers of apple juice/honey/bbq rub liquid injection solution, two containers of bbq rub, and two pork butts package in cryovac purchased from Sam's Club.

BBQ Secrets!