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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

Saturday
Aug292015

Review: Fire-N-Smoke - O'Fallon, IL

I'm going to tip my hand right away and say this about my trip to Fire-N-Smoke.  I don't care if you trim your brisket before or after you cook it, but for the love of BBQ trim it before you serve it.  A litte fat on a brisket is expected, but this was waaaay too much.  Sorry for the rant, now let's talk about the rest of my visit.

Fire-N-Smoke opened recently in a location that has been a couple of different restaurants over the past few years.  Luckily for them, the shopping area round the location seems to have reached critical mass and there's enough traffic flow that they should be able to make a go of it.  Not to mention, the facility lends itself nicely to being a BBQ joint.

IMG_2673

Like most BBQ  joints these days it seems, the menu is a giant chalkboard and orders are placed at the counter.  I was pleased to see that they seemed to have all of the bases covered, as well as having a long list of salads, sandwiches, etc.  I ordered the 2 meat platter (like I normally do when I'm trying a new place), and the Mrs. ordered her usual pulled pork sandwich with baked beans.

IMG_2672

The food was delivered quickly and looked awesome.  I was pleased to seee a nice smoke ring on the brisket and see that the pork was truly pulled and not chopped.  The side dishes were served uniquely in individual sized pie tins, and the whole mess was piled on a large tray covered with butcher paper.  In the case of the platter, bread & butter also accompanied the meal.

IMG_2669

IMG_2670

The brisket was my favorite, despite my earlier comments about it needing to be trimmed.  The pulled pork was good, although it suffered a little from being re-heated.  The Mrs. liked the addition of cole slaw to the sandwich.  That's the way a pulled pork sandwich should be served after all.  The beans were good, if only dressed up canned beans, but the sweet potato dish was outstanding.  There was a thin sauce spread across the meat on the platter and a little bit on the sandwich.  My wife's only complaint was that she'd like to have had a little more sauce, though oddly enough there was no bottle of sauce on the table.  In this day & age, most places overwhelm you with sauce choices so it was odd not to find any at all on the table. Zip, Zilch, Nada.

I was a little surprised at the light crowd at 1:00pm on a Saturday, but I think Fire-N-Smoke should do just fine.  As I said, they definitely have a good location, although there is plenty of competition from other restaurants as well.

Here's how I'd rate my trip to Fire-N-Smoke in O'fallon, IL.

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

I'd recommend this place and I'm sure I'll eat there again.  Here's the specifics on Fire-N-Smoke.

 

Fire-N-Smoke Wood Fired Kitchen

1214 Central Park Dr.

O'fallon, IL 62269

Open 11:00am-9:00pm

 

 

Cheers,
Braddog

Friday
Aug282015

United Methodist Men's BBQ

I have a friend at church who competes on the BBQ circuit.  He typically mans the grill when the United Methodist Men (UMM) meet during the summer.  Last month, after a succesful meal of grilled pork steaks, the guys decided they'd like to have ribs at the next meeting.

Well, that turned into a two man job.  We decided that we would take the day off and plan to cook at the church.  We also decided to press my Backwoods Pro Jr into service.  Paul and I moved my cooker to church that morning and he trimmed the spare ribs down to St Louis style ribs while I put together 2 pans of my "magic" beans.

Paul uses Code 3 spices when he competes, so we decided to use them for this cook as well.  We roughly followed his competition process, which means we wrapped the ribs in foil with brown sugar and butter, then finished them out of the foil and glazed them with sauce.

We also decided to do the rib tips at the same time, following the same process. It's a good thing we did.  We had a great turn out.  

Here are a few shots of the finished product.

 

UMM BBQ UMM BBQ

 

Everyone enjoyed the meal and fellowship.  Next month, we're frying fish!

Cheers,
Braddog 

Sunday
May172015

Recipe - Chicken Sliders

Seems like we often go to casual gatherings where we take a dish.  I've gotten tired of the same old thing, so I looked for a way to do something a little different while still cooking outside.

Enter, Chicken Sliders.  This was pretty simple.  I simply bought thin sliced chicken breasts at the lcoal grocery store.  I cut each in half and hit them liberally with Plowboy's Yardbird rub.  I grilled a pound of bacon and then  grilled the chicken.  I placed the chicken along with a couple of strips of bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese on Hawaiian rolls to serve.

Here's the process.  First, I grilled a pound of bacon.

 

 

Next, I grilled the half chicken breasts that were sliced thin.

 

And finally, I assmebled the sliders with a slice of cheddar cheese, a couple of strips of bacon, and half a chicken breast on a Hawaiian roll.

A couple of things that I'll do differently next time.  First, I think I'll use a tenderizer mallet to flatten the chicken breasts a little mroe.  I also think that the slider would benefit from some other condiment.  BBQ Sauce, mayo, etc.

Other than those few tweaks, this was a success and I'll be doing this again.

Cheers,
Braddog 

Wednesday
Apr012015

Review: Gobble Stop Smokehouse

This is unique.  A BBQ joint that specializes in chicken & turkey.  You won't find pork & brisket on the menu at the Gobble Stop Smokehouse, just poultry.  And darned good poultry too.

I headed over for lunch today after spotting it on Google Maps recently.  I found it in an older shopping plaza, like a lot of good BBQ joints these days.  It's a pretty unassuming place, but behind the counter they're making some magic!

I ordered one of the house specialties, smoked chikcen wings with a side order of BBQ beans at the counter.  A short while later, they delivered a plate of 8 large, meaty wings with sliced white bread, my side of beans, and a side of BBQ sauce to my table.

The wings were meaty, and smokey, and delicious!  They were lightly seasoned and smoked to perfection.  After the first taste, the sauce and sides were nearly forgotten.  However, I did get around to trying both.  The beans?  Well, they were jazzed up beans from a can.  And the sauce?  Probably right out of a bottle.

But I didn't care.  Did I mention how good the wings were?  And the folks running the place were super friendly and took great care of not only me, but the other lunch patrons as well.

Here's my score card for the Gobble Stop Smokehouse:

So here's how I'd rate Hill Country BBQ:

  • BBQ - A

  • Side Dishes - C

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - A

  • Service - A
  • Overall - B+

If you get to north-west St Louis county, you can find them here:

 

gobblestopsmokehouse.net
(314) 878-5586

 

Cheers,
Braddog 

 

Saturday
Mar282015

Review: Hill Country BBQ, New York City

I caught a wiff of wood smoke while I was still more than a block away, and my mouth began to water.  You see, I've never eaten BBQ in Texas so this opportunity to eat at Hill Country BBQ in New York City was as close as I've been.  

When work took me to the city, I began to scout for one of the BBQ joints that have sprung up there that I've read about.  Then, I realized that Hill Country BBQ was only a dozen or so blocks from where I was staying.  Immediately, I began to plot a night to myself when I could make the walk for dinner.

Hill Country BBQ - 26th St & 6th Ave - NYC

Hill Country BBQ is a tribute to the central Texas markets that began serving BBQ over the counter, by the pound, wrapped in butcher paper, and served with saltine crackers.  Just like those markets turned BBQ joints, Hill Country serves the BBQ the same way; over the counter and by the pound.

The meat counter at Hill Country BBQ

The menu consisted not only of beef, but also pork, chicken, and sausage from Kreuz Market in Texas.  At Hill Country, you order your meat at the counter and specify the amount (by weight) that you'd like or in the case of ribs, how many bones.  I opted for 1/3 lb. of lean brisket (that's cut from the brisket flat, but you can also order "moist" brisket cut from the point) and a single pork rib.  They cut the meat, weighed it on a butcher scale, wrapped it in brown butcher paper, and handed it over with a half sleeve of saltines.

Then, I headed over to the counter where they served sides.  Sweet Potato Bourbon Mashed caught my eye so I ordered that and a side of green bean casserole.  The server was at my table when I got there and my order was complete with a glass of sweet tea.

I'll cut to the chase and say that the food was excellent.  In fact, this is probably the best brisket (from a restaurant anyway) that I've eaten.  The pork rib was pretty good.  A little tougher than I expected but it had a great flavor.  And the sides?  Fuggetaboutit!  I could go  back and just eat side items.  The sweet potato dish was amazing, and I loved the comfort food style green beans.  There were plenty of other sides as well as desserts, but frankly I can't eat that much.

Really, the only negative comment I have about my experience at Hill Country BBQ is the cost.  I mean, I know I was eating in New York City, but brisket at $26/lb?  That seems excessive.  While I thoroughly enjoyed my experience, my dinner (for only me) was ~$39.  That's with nothing from the bar or dessert.

So here's how I'd rate Hill Country BBQ:

  • BBQ - A

  • Side Dishes - A

  • Atmosphere - A

  • Value - C

  • Service - A
  • Overall - A-

No doubt about it, this is one of the best BBQ joints I've eaten at.  Frankly, I didnt' expect that to be the case.  If you get to New York, here's where you can find Hill Country BBQ:

30 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010

They also have locations in Brooklyn and Washington, DC.

Cheers,
Braddog