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Entries in BBQ (162)

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

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

 

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