Category Archives: Smoker

Time To Brine!!!

Ah yes! Once you have experienced a brined turkey, it is hard imagining having turkey prepared any other way. I did a post last Thanksgiving on brining a bird, and subsequent posts on brined pork. Here are links to some of the better turkey brines I have tried:

http://articles.sfgate.com/2004-11-17/food/17454587_1_brined-turkey-big-bird-larger-bird/2

http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Orange-Turkey-Brine/Detail.aspx

http://bbq.about.com/od/turkeybrinerecipes/tp/10turkeybrinerecipes.htm

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

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Filed under Brine, grill, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber

North Carolina Smoked Ribs

The “original” BBQ sauce, according to recorded history was a vinegar and pepper mix. It is still used on the coastal plains of both North and South Carolina where it originated, and to a slight degree in Virginia and Georgia. After the vinegar and pepper variation we began to see adaptations with “light tomato”, “heavy tomato” and mustard: in other words, four basic categories. Vinegar and pepper based sauces are linked to early Scottish settlers in the Carolina, whereas mustard based sauces are the fine work of the German settlers.

“Light tomato” sauce is little more than vinegar and pepper mixed with ketchup. “Heavy tomato” sauce is a rather recent occurrence and what we see in the likes of “KC Masterpiece”. Sauce wars have been fought through the years over ownership of the original recipes, and of course, over which is best. After that the debates go to pork versus beef, and even in places like Kentucky, mutton, or lamb in considered best.

Being of Scottish descent, I chose a very basic vinegar and pepper marinade and baste, with a spicy flare:

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

I let this mix sit for four hours to make sure the flavors had sufficient time to emerge and blend. I then put the mix in a large plastic bag along the ribs, and put the whole mess in the refrigerator over night.

Around 11:00 AM I fired up the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker with Kingsford briquets. For smoke flavoring I chose cherry wood which I purchased from Amazon.com, my new favorite retailer (I still love you, too, Costco, but Amazon Prime lets me get most everything with two-day shipping, and no sales tax). I put the ribs on around noon, and have been basting them every so often with the vinegar and pepper mix. These guys are gonna be good!

For more BBQ lore check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ubTQfr_tyY

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Filed under Indirect, Kingsford, Marinade, Pork Ribs, Smoker, Weber

Santa Maria Tri-Tip


Tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin (see picture). It is a small triangular muscle, usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs. per side of beef. You rarely (pardon the pun) hear of it outside of the west coast, although in New York city it may be called “Newport steak”. In my hometown of plain old Plano, TX you can find it only at few places such as Central Market or Hirsch’s Meat Market, and, of course, at my favorite store, Costco. BBQ Buddy Lee and I have had several tri-tip cook offs over the years, using a marinade recipe from Lee’s Reno friend Jim Riggen, who happens to be a real world McGyver, both in the garage and in the kitchen. The marinade (and baste) is a mixture of sliced purple onion, Teriyaki sauce, olive oil and brown rice vinegar. After spending 12 or more hours marinading, the beef is cooked over indirect heat on the Weber Kettle Grill or in the Weber Smoker.

The original US tri-tip recipe was created in Santa Maria, California, and named accordingly. In fact, it is alleged the town’s Chamber of Commerce has copyrighted the recipe. In its most basic form a rub comprised of salt, pepper and garlic powder is used, and the meat is cooked over red oak. I found a recipe for Grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip on About.com which is much more involved, but turned out to be a a dead ringer! It calls for these ingredients:

2 to 2 1/2 lb beef tri-tip roast
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup oil oil
4 cloves crushed garlic

I used Hungarian Hot Paprika in lieu of the garden variety and deli mustard instead of Dijon. Olive oil was substituted for vegetable oil. Preparation began with combining the black pepper, salt, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, and cayenne in a small bowl. This mixture was then rubbed on to all surfaces of the tri-tip, and the meat was refrigerated for 3 hours. The meat was removed and given 30 minutes to warm to room temperature.

For the baste the mustard, vinegar, olive oil, and crushed garlic were put into a jar with a lid and shaken vigorously until emulsified. The Weber Kettle Grill was fired up with lump charcoal. Once the coals were ashen white, the meat was placed on the grill and coated with a mixture of olive oil and red wine vinegar. The meat was grilled for a total of 30 minutes to medium rare (135 degrees). Every 3-4 minutes it was basted. After resting for 30 minutes the meat was cut into thin slices.

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Filed under grill, Indirect, Marinade, Smoker, Uncategorized, Weber

Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday, primarily due to the absence of commercialism. Granted the “Black Friday” phenomena has recently become a big deal in our consumer-spending driven economy, but each of us has the option to ignore it, without the consequence of being considered a friggin’ scrooge! Plus, we don’t have the bickering over what originated from Christian truths vs. which pagan holidays have had evil influence (where is the Church Lady when needed most?).

Faith, family, friends and food are my focus, and in that order! Consider the Psalms and other scriptures which point to our faithful Creator’s provision. Consider too that family and community are His gifts to us for organization, structure and protection, based solely on unconditional love and sacrifice.

Our immediate families are on the east coast, Chicago and Germany, so we generally holiday together with friends like the Henderson’s (BBQ buddy Lee) right here in plain ole Plano, Texas. Hearing our kids bantering and catching up, and seeing the flow of their friends in and out of the house is really cool, not to mention the aromas associated with cooking, baking and smoking all sorts of food! We start off Thanksgiving Day with sausage gravy and biscuits (fodder for another post), skip lunch and then gorge late afternoon/early evening on turkeys prepared several ways, smoked ham and all the other major food groups.

Lee Henderson’s specialty is smoked ham (previous post) while mine is brined and smoked turkey. The web has many variations of brines posted, but I really like just a few. This year I am doing a modified version of one submitted to “Saveur” magazine. Trust me on this and do the following:

CREATE THE BRINE:
1 cup kosher salt
1 lemon, halved
1 orange, halved
1 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. ground black pepper
4 juniper berries, crushed
4 allspice berries, crushed

Combine dry ingredients in a 12-qt. pot, or large brining bag. Add 1 1/2 gallons cold water and stir. Squeeze lemons and oranges into the brine and add the squeezed halves. Submerge turkey in brine, breast down. (Weight the turkey down with dinner plates if necessary.) Cover pot with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or store in a cooler with ice. Remove turkey from brine, pat dry with paper towels, and let come to room temperature.

Load up the smoker with a heap of Kingsford charcoal (burns best evenly for extended periods). Once the coals are gray, open the vents all the way, put the bird on the grate over the water pan, add hickory chunks, close her up and get a cup of coffee.

About every hour or so baste the turkey with a mixture consisting of a splash of red wine mixed with olive oil. About eight hours later you have smoked a beautiful bird with absolutely moist, tender and flavorful meat. Enjoy while giving thanks.

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Filed under Brine, Indirect, Kingsford, Smoker, turkey, Weber