Monday, April 23, 2012

BBQ Site of the Day: The Hog Blog

If you are looking for a tutorial on how to prepare contest quality bbq at home, navigate over to The Hog Blog. Reading through the posts on chicken, ribs, brisket, and pork prep will save you quite a bit of trial and error. The site has a lot of nice pictures and the "how to" posts are quite nicely done.

I especially like the post on chicken preparation.  I used to have very good results in the chicken category, but some of my ideas have changed a little after reading Bob's post on chicken thighs.

The post on pork ribs is also noteworthy.  I've noticed a developing trend in rib cooking. Many are now cooking their ribs in a pan versus wrapping in foil.

For anyone wondering how to trim a brisket for the first time, his post on brisket trimming will put you the right track.

The site also features many different views of his very nice looking bbq cooking trailer painted my favorite color -- Barbecue Red.

Beef Packing Discussion

I have purposely delayed making a blog post on the so called "pink slime" issue because I just didn't feel like I knew enough about it. Like it does for many of my friends, the words "pink" and "slime" do evoke certain images and negative thoughts, but I am not necessarily against using the product in consumer products. Initially I thought I was, but based on some further research my personal views have changed a little.

I think the words "Lean Finely Textured Beef" should appear on the label. I also think "treated with ammonium hydroxide" should appear on the label.  If labeled properly, consumers can decide if they want to eat it, or if they want to spend a little more money on something else from another supplier that does not use those ingredients or processing methods.

I was at the local farmer's market yesterday and overheard a customer ask an apple farmer selling apple butter, "what's in your apple butter?". He replied, "apples and a little apple cider". The customer pressed the farmer for more information. The customer was convinced that there must be something else in the apple butter (i.e. corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Like the customer I witnessed yesterday, many people are conditioned to assume that there are additives in our food that we don't necessarily know about and that don't seem to belong there. And that's why I believe labeling practices in beef processing and in all food production should be improved. I am in favor of labeling everything and letting the chips fall where they may.

During the past several years, our personal household purchasing practices have changed. We like to buy from local producers when possible. Sometimes buying local does cost more, but to us knowing where our food comes from and who produced it is worth paying a little extra money.

There is a movement to buy local in this country from people that you know. With a little research, you can find local producers who can provide what you might otherwise buy at the grocery store or retailer.  You can visit the farm where it was grown and see for yourself how the animals are raised or how the vegetables are grown. I think this trend is going to continue picking up speed. And public relations issues like "Lean Finely Textured Beef" provide an additional catalyst for buying local (in my opinion).

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cast Iron Dutch Oven Cooking

Whether over a campfire in the woods or in the backyard using modern conveniences, cast iron cooking with dutch ovens goes hand-in-hand with low and slow barbecue techniques.

I have two cast iron dutch ovens.  One is a Lodge #10 and the second is a #12 purchased at a local sporting goods retailer that imported it from a Chinese manufacturer (I don't recall the brand). I wish I'd held out for another Lodge, but I was in a hurry and needed a larger oven for a backyard event at the in-laws the next weekend. The price was attractive, so I purchased it.

Tonight I decided to cook supper on them.  I pulled out the dutch oven recipe book and prepared two cornish hens in the #12 and a delicious casserole made from potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and sevreral strips of bacon.

I don't use Kingsford charcoal much anymore,
but it works well for dutch oven cooking.

After combining the casserole ingredients in the #10 dutch oven.

This was one of the best dutch oven dishes I've ever cooked.

I should have used a little more top heat to brown the chicken toward the end of cook.

I forgot how much I enjoy campfire cooking with the cowboy version of a microwave.  I hope to add dutch oven cooking segments to the bbq blog on a regular basis going forward. Now I need to find some more receipes.

For the casserole I started by browning 1 pound of bacon and saving the drippings. Then I sliced 12 small potatoes, cut two large onions into rings, added 1 pound of baby carrots, sliced two large bell peppers into rings, and added a packaged of sliced mushrooms. The mixture was combined and cooked for 1 hour with 10 briquettes for bottom heat and 12 briquettes for top heat.

The cornish hens were cooked for 1 hour in two cups of water and 2 tablespoons of chicken broth using a trivet. I cooked them with 12 briquettes of bottom heat for 1 hour. I added 12 briquettes for top heat during the last 30 minutes of the cook.  The hens were basted with a vinegar and butter mixture every 15 minutes. The end result was a moist chicken that paired very well with the potato casserole.

These two recipes and several others are available from the American West Dutch Oven Cooking cook book.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Chicken Drumsticks Wrapped in Bacon Recipe

Chicken Drumsticks Wrapped in Bacon
I was looking over Linda's shoulder a few days ago and she was looking at a picture of grilled chicken drumsticks wrapped in bacon on Pintrest. BBQ Geek made a post on his blog about a recipe from Adam Perry Lang's Serious Barbecue cook book.

I have seen a few recipes on the web incorporating bacon with various types and kinds of chicken.  Whether thighs, breasts, wings, or drumsticks, there is a bacon recipe for all of them. Rather than using one of those recipes I decided to create my own version from scratch. So here it is...

The BBQ Guy's Chicken Drumsticks Wrapped in Bacon

Begin by preparing the spice rub.

3 Tbsp Spanish Paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Granulated Onion
1 Tbsp Sea Salt
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp White Pepper
1/2 Tsp Chipotle Chile Pepper

  • Brush the chicken drumsticks with canola or vegetable oil.
  • Apply the spice rub to the chicken drumsticks.
  • Marinate the drumsticks in the refrigerator for 4 hours prior to grilling.
  • Barbecue the drumsticks on a medium hot grill for 60 minutes using indirect heat (300-350 degrees).
  • Brush the drumsticks with your favorite bbq sauce. I prefer Blues Hog.
  • Continue grilling for an additional 10 minutes prior to serving.

Chicken drumsticks glazed with Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

One Contest, Four Meats, One WSM

My post from a couple days ago about Slap Yo Daddy's success in Las Vegas has got me thinking.

Wouldn't it be great if competing in bbq contests were affordable again (and fun)? Somewhere along the line, the cost of competing started getting in the way of my enjoyment. For awhile I thought I was the only one, but here and there on various bbq websites, blogs, and forums I've started noticing other competitors hinting at the same line of thought.

What if contest competitors left their RVs, customer trailers, etc. at home and competed on equivalent bbq equipment?  Identical WSMs, Backwoods Party's, or even Big Green Eggs would make good candidates.

I think it would be a great idea for a contest organizer, not to mention a great way to promote a bbq contest. The International Race of Champions (IROC) was stock racing's version, why shouldn't KCBS, FBA, or GLBBQA get behind it? Golf and bowling have handicapping; sprint cars, open-wheel, and even truck and tractor-pulling have cubic inch, bore and stroke limitations in certain classes. Why not bbq?

This would be a way to keep costs down for everyone in the sport.  Competitors could keep down costs for smokers, supplies, transportation, etc. and contest organizers wouldn't be under so much pressure to keep raising the prize money pools to attract and (in many cases) maintain contest entrants.

I need to give it some more thought before I commit to anything, but right now I'm toying with the idea of entering a few contests this season and cooking them on my WSM.  Wouldn't it be great to roll into a bbq contest in my Ford Fusion Hybrid and pull the bbq smoker out of the trunk? I bet that would turn some heads. What do you think? Anyone else want to try it?

50.3 mpg on my 18.2 mile commute to work, 70+ mpg running errands around town
Pulling my old cargo trailer with the Explorer, we averaged about 12 mpg and a lot of the expense of competing flew out the tailpipe.  My Fusion averages 42 mpg in normal interstate driving using cruise control. On a 400 mile round trip to an event, that's a $93 savings on the gas bill alone.

Less money for gasoline = more money for meat.

Now...if I can just figure out how to fit my Caravan portable tent in the car.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

$10,000 From a WSM and 1 Bag of Charcoal

My Favorite BBQ Smoker
I have been cooking bbq on my Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) since 2001. I get extremely consistent results from the WSM and if I was competing this weekend, I would still prefer to use the WSM for brisket versus any other bbq smoker I own.

Many have said it before me and I've been saying for 11 years on the web - "It's not the cooker, it's the cook."  If you give 10 bbq cooks the same smoker and the same recipe, I'd be willing to bet you that there would be 10 different types, styles, and flavors of bbq results.

You don't need a $100,000 RV, a $25,000 catering trailer, or three or four different bbq smokers, etc. etc. to win a professional bbq contest. Don't believe me?

Slap Yo Daddy BBQ won a large bbq contest in Las Vegas earlier this year using 1 WSM and 1 bag of Kingsford charcoal for the event. From

Our continuing efforts to use only one WSM and one bag of Kingsford for each contest is working out as most of the choreographed ballet steps trying to cook four meats on one pit have been worked out.

So while some guys are out there ordering $15,000 custom bbq smokers mounted on trailer along with every new gadget, accessory, training class, book, DVD, etc. Slap Yo Daddy is keeping things pretty status quo (for them) and concentrating on executing bbq at a consistently high-level from contest to contest and collecting prize money. And if you've been following their results like I have, you know that they've been collecting a lot of grand championships these last few years.
Maybe it's time to return to basics and K.I.S.S.

I cooked this brisket on my WSM.

Monday, April 02, 2012

BBQ Sauce Tips

I get media requests periodically and don't always respond to them, but a few weeks ago I was asked to recommend some of my favorite bbq sauces for Woman's World magazine. It's definitely not a magazine that I read personally, but I know a lot of ladies like to read it.

I found out today that one of my suggestions will be included in the May 2012 issue. Pretty cool.

They accepted my least favorite sauce of the three that I suggested, but it's a sauce that many people who are getting into the bbq hobby start out with. Here's the list of sauces I suggested:

1. Blues Hog
2. Sweet Baby Rays
3. K.C. Masterpiece

There are many others that I like, but I think the editors at Woman's World were looking for some mainstream suggestions that can be purchased at most grocery stores throughout the country.

Blues Hog is the only sauce that I use straight from the bottle. Most other sauces I use are "doctored up" with some additional honey and if I'm cooking ribs, I also add some brown sugar.

Note: Edited on 4/9/12. It's come to my attention that I posted the incorrect magazine title when I made the original post. I have made the correction above.