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Monday
Oct092017

Burnt Ends

If you're a fan of smoked brisket, you've likely had burnt ends.  I've had them, but frankly I usually don't bother and simply slice up the point of the brisket along with the flat.

For the uninitiated, the brisket is made of 2 muscles.  The flat is the leaner of the two, while the point has more fat.  The grain of the two muscles run counter to one another and are joined by a seam of fat.  Buying the whole brisket, or "packer cut", can be intimidating to some as there is a significant layer of hard, white fat covering a good portion of the meat.

Typically, I will buy and cook the flat.  The cost per pound is definitley more, but my family prefers the leaner cut and it takes a good amount of work to trim a packer cut before cooking.  Nonetheless, I purchased a small packer cut brisket this past weekend and put it on the Big Green Egg on Sunday morning.

As the brisket was finishing up, I called an audible and decided to seperate the point and cut it into cubes.  I placed these in a pan and hit them some of my rib sauce.  I know, I know, rib sauce on brisket?  Trust me, these were the best burnt ends I've done.  And, I'll definitely do them again.

Heck, maybe I'll even start buying the packer cut from now on.

Cheers,

Braddog

Saturday
May272017

Review: A Fine Swine

Today, I had to run a few errands with my bride and we found ourselves in a rural community that we don't often visit, New Baden, IL.  As we entered town, I spotted a BBQ Joint that I haven't been to before.  So, after we completed our errands, we circled back and had lunch there.

As we parked, I saw 2 Ole Hickory smokers under cover near the front door and there was a smell of hickory smoker in the air.  Both, a very good sign. 

Right off, I noticed a couple of very unique things about this joint.  First, the counter was a converted off-set pit.  I thought that was a very cool touch.

The other thing I noticed is a live feed of a video camera mounted directly over a butcher block table in the kitchen where they are slicing brisket, chopping pork shoulder, etc.  I've never seen this in another BBQ joint and enjoyed watching the staff slice my brisket before brigning it out to my table.

All of this had my expectations pretty high.  I ordered sliced brisket with a side of house chips, and my bride ordered her usual pulled pork sandwich and BBQ beans.  At first glance, it all looked good.  There was a nice smoke ring on the brisket and it had been trimmed enough that there was a just the right amount of fat along one side of the slices.  

The BBQ was decent.  The pulled pork was good, but a little bland.  The brisket was tasty, but a little chewier than I prefer.  The house chips weren't much more than kettle cooked potatoe chips, and my wife described the BBQ beans as "the worst she had ever had".  In fairness, her comments reflect a personal bias.  That is a bias against beans with an overpowering flavor of molasses and apple pie.  They were unique and very sweet, but not my cup of tea either.

Here's how I'd rate my trip to A Fine Swine in New Baden, IL.

  • BBQ - B
  • Side Dishes - C
  • Atmosphere - A
  • Value - B
  • Overall – B+

If you find yourself in the area, I would recommend you give them a try.  i know I will the next time I find myself in New Baden.  

Here's how to find them:

A Fine Swine

423 Hanover St.

New Baden, IL 62265

http://www.afineswine.com

 

Cheers,

Braddog

 

Thursday
May182017

Review: Kick Ash Basket for the Big Green Egg

I've been cooking on my Big Green Egg for about ten years now.  During that time, I've gotten pretty good at managing my fire and creating pretty darned good BBQ using the Egg in it's default configuration.

Over the past few months, I've begun to add a few upgrades.  I replaced my cast iron daisy wheel with the Smokeware Vented Chimney Cap a few months ago.  And most recently, I acquired the Kick Ash Basket for my firebox. 

I ran into an issue recently where I did back to back cooks and needed to reload the BGE with fresh lump charcoal while it was still hot.  Of course trying to knock the ash out of a hot cooker is tough to do.  About that sime time, I came across the Kick Ash Basket and decided to give it a shot.

 

You can use this with or without the cast iron fire grate in the bottom of the firebox.  So far, I'm still using the grate.  But the beautiful thing here is being able to pick up the basket and give it a good shake to clear the ash out of the bottom of of the Egg.  It sure beats stirring the old lump to knock the ash loose.

Since I've been using the Kick Ash Basket, I've noticed that my fire comes up to temp quicker as I've been able to remove the ash from the old lump chacrcoal more completely.

I'm really pleased with this aftermarket product and definitely consider it an upgrade.  What upgrades have you made to your BGE?  Drop me a note and let me know.

Cheers,

Braddog

Tuesday
Feb142017

How to: The Bacon Explosion

The buzz around the Bacon Explosion has died down a bit since it first became a thing a couple of years ago.  I haven't done one of these in awhile, but with the Daytona 500 coming up I thought I'd dust off this recipe and put it on the menu.

Just as a refresher, here is the process for building your very own Bacon Explosion.

First, create a weave of bacon strips.  For this attempt, mine is 5x5.

I brushed lightly with sauce and rub before adding a layer of pork sausage.

In the middle, I snipped some pre-cooked bacon into pieces and added a little BBQ sauce.

Then roll the sausage into a log.

And, roll the weave around around sausage.


I cooked this one indirect at ~275* and hit with a little sauce to finish.  Sliced it up and served it hot of the smoker!

I've seen variations on this recipe.  Drop me a note and let me know how you've tweaked this to your liking.


Cheers,
Braddog

 

 

Monday
Sep052016

How to light a Big Green Egg

There a lots of ways to light the charcoal in a Big Green Egg.  No one agrees on the best method, but everyone agrees that N-E-V-E-R use lighter fluid.  

I've tried lots of methods, from starter cubes, charcoal chimneys, and even a napkin dipped in olive oil.  But for me, the quickest and surest method is a MAPP Gas torch.  This is a little different that a propane torch like you might use for sweating copper joints.  The key differences are that MAPP burns a little hotter, and the biggie is that the torch will burn when you hold it upside down (as you would when sticking into the bottom of the Big Green Egg).

I recommend a self igniting torch with a locking trigger.  That way you can tip the MAPP bottle up on end and rest it against the side of the pit with it lit. This is the one I use and you can pick it up at Amazon or your local home improvement store.

 

What's your favorite method for lighting the charcoal in your pit?  Drop me a note in the comments and let me know.

Cheers,
Braddog

 

Sunday
May292016

Review: Qwik Trim Brisket Trimmer

I'm a big fan of trimming my brisket before cooking. This gives me a huge surface to apply seasoning and frankly I don't like dealing with the fat on my brisket while eating it. I've been trimming my brisket now for a few years despite incurring a significant injury while doing so. See my previous post "How Not to Trim a Brisket".

 

Rather than risk another injury like this, I jumped at a chance to acquire the new Qwik Trim Brisket Trimmer that promises to simplify the trimming process. I ordered it right away and received it just a few days before I needed to trim a couple of brisket flats for a party.

It's really a pretty simple concept and protects the pitmater from the inadvertent slip of the trimming knife. I rinsed the brisket flats and was eager to get started.

 

You can see the concept in action in this photo.  It turns out that it works great for the large, cold, hard fat on the underside of a brisket.  However, it doesn't work as well on the softer, thinner layers of fat.  I trim both from my brisket, so I still had to use my trimming knife to get the end result that I prefer.

If you're a pitmaster that likes to leave that thinner layer of fat on your brisket, then the Qwik Trim could be a good option for you.  But, if you're a fan of trimming all of the fat you'll still have some work to do with a trimming knife.

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

Saturday
Feb132016

Recipe - Prosciutto Involtini

There's a local pizza joint/brew pub that makes a killer appetizer called Prosciutto Involtini.  In fact, when my bride and I eat there, we often have a salad and this appetizer and call it a meal.  This dish is basically pizza dough topped with, mozarella cheese, and prosciutto.

A few weeks ago, she came up with the notion to try to make these at home.  Her first attempt was a homerun, so I decided to make a batch for the Superbowl.  We cheat a little a use a premade mozarella & prosciutto roll that we slice and lay over a ring of pizza dough.

Here'a a photo journal of the process.

Pizza dough laid out sort of like a pretzel

The Prosciutto and Mozarella Roll

A slice on each loop of pizza dough

The final result I didn't get a shot of these on the grill.  But I setup my Big Green Egg for pizza cooking/baking and grilled these at 425 degrees until the pizza dough began to get brown.

These were a big hit at the Superbowl party and are great with marinara suace for dipping.  I'll definitely do these again (and again).

Cheers,
Braddog 

Saturday
Jan232016

My Visit to Peg Leg Porker - Nashville, TN

Rather than write a review of Carey Bringle's BBQ joint, Peg Leg Porker, this entry will simply be a description of my visit.  You see, I met Carey a few years ago when we both attended a seminar called "The Business of BBQ" hosted by Mike & Amy Mills at 17th Street Barbeque in Murphysboro, IL.  Subsequently, I hung out with Carey and his competition team at Priase the Lard a couple of times and helped him serve at the first annual Kentucky State BBQ Festival.  So to say that I'm predisposed to enjoy my trip to Peg Leg Porker would be an understatement. 

My daughter is in the process of selecting an institution of higher learning, so that drew us to Nashville for a college visit.  While the family enjoyed learning about some of the finer points of college dining halls, I discovered that Peg Leg Porker was only a short drive away.  I excused myself from the cafeteria line and hit the road.

I'd seen a numer of photos from Carey's social media sites, so I quickly recognized the place when I saw it.  Located in an area of Nashville called The Gulch, Peg Leg Porker is in a trendy area of Southwest Nashville and a popualr destination for locals and college students.

Out front, Peg Leg Porker has a whole hog pit that they use on occassion and plenty of patio seating.  Inside, the front wall is graced with a huge bar, TV's, beer, and spirits, including Peg Leg Porker bourbon.  But that's a topic for another time.  At the back of the place, a counter sits in front of the open kitchen.  Like any good BBQ joint, the menu is simple and displayed above the register.

Being familiar with Peg Leg Porker, there was no doubt that I was having the dry ribs.  So I ordered up a 1/2 a rack with a couple of sides, a glass of sweet tea, and settled down to enjoy me some Tennessee BBQ.  And, I was not disappointed.  The ribs were just the way I remembered them and my only regret is that I only ordered a 1/2 a rack.

When I finished, I bought a trucker hat with the Peg Leg Porker logo and headed back to meet up with the family.  Carey was out of town this particular weekend, so we didn't get a chance to reconnect.  I did get a chance to talk with one of his crew that I'd met before.  

I'm not sure how this college search will turn out, but I'm pulling for Belmont Unviversity.  That would keep me in Nashville and good BBQ for the next 4 years!

Cheers,
Braddog 

Sunday
Jan172016

Recipe: Pig Shots

With football playoffs underway, I wanted to try something different to share with friends while watching the NFC playoffs on Saturday.  I'd seen this appetizer a couple of different times recently, so I decided to give it a shot.

Basically, pig shots are formed with a slice of sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon on it's edge.  This forms a "shot glass" that you then fill with whatever you choose.  I used a mixture of cream cheese and green chillies.  I applied a spicy BBQ rub and also topped them with brown sugar.

Here are a few pictures of the process:

Kielbasa & Bacon

"Shot Glasses"

Filled with cream cheese, green chillies, and topped with brown sugar 

The finished product

Here is the stey by step process:

  • cut sausage (I used Kielbasa) into 3/8" discs
  • wrap 1/2 piece of bacon (on edge) around each disc and secure with a toothpick
  • combine 8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened) with 1/2 can of green chillies
  • apply bbq rub
  • pipe or spoon cream cheese mixture into "shot glasses"
  • top with brown sugar
  • cook indirect at ~300* for 45-60 minutes or until the bacon is finished to your liking

*Note:  I cooked indirect on the Big Green Egg with platesetter in place (wrapped in foil of course)

If I do these again, I think I'd add some grated cheese to the cream cheese mixture and experiment with a different type of sausage, Boudin maybe?

What's on your menu for football playoff season?  We all need a killer dish for the big game in a few weeks.  

Cheers,
Braddog 

Friday
Sep252015

Honoring Law Enforcement - Labor Day 2015

I'm a little late in posting this, but I wanted to share this experience.  I had read on the interwebs about a challenge to all the pitmasters who would be cooking on Labor Day weekend, to set aside a little extra and honor the men and women of law enforcement with some BBQ.

 As I was finishing up the ribs on Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, I remembered the challenge.  Since I had extra, we wrapped up a side of ribs, scrawled a note on a thank you card, and sent my wife and nephew on the short drive to the local police station.

 

There, they presented Officer Blomberg with ribs and a heartfelt "thank you" for serving and protecting the citizens of our community.  He was super grateful and it warmed our heart to be able to express our appreciation and share some of what we have been blessed with.

So now, I pass the challenge on to you. The next time you fire up the BBQ pit, (or oven, stove, etc.), set aside a little extra and remember the first responders and public servants.  They'll appreciate it for sure, and you'll be reminded of how blessed you are.

Cheers,
Braddog