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Archive for the ‘BBQ’ Category

The BBQ Disaster

People who have been to BBQ’s at our house start asking if the fire department was there.  HA ha ha.  That seems less funny each time I hear it.  NO, not quite.

We, my wife and I, were doing a barbecue fundraser for the High school baseball team.  We were cooking burgers and dogs by the dozen on my gas barbecue.  I’ve had it for several years and it has always done a fine job.  However on this day it would falter and stumble early in the game, leaving us with lots of uncooked meat and hungry patrons.  Not the combo we were looking for.  Since the barbecue didn’t just quit but burned part of the hose up, the situation called for quick action.  So off I ran looking for the necessary parts.  However, living in a small town, the parts eluded my hunt.  I then had to think quick.  So I went to my Dad’s house and persuaded him to allow me to borrow his barbecue.  Not as easy as it seems since I had just partly incinerated mine.  I then loaded it up and headed for the crowd.  We set it up in record time and got back to pumping out the food.

In the end, the barbecue was a success and the disaster was nothing more than a little spice to add flavor to the experience.  I simply converted my gas barbecue to briquettes and we are barbecuing more than ever.

Thanks to this little mishap I had the opportunity to experiment with barbecuing with briquettes.  Having been a propane gas barbecue guy for years I relished the idea.  I have to say that I like it better.  A little less convenient, but not much.  I used a chimney to start the briquettes so no need for starter fluid and it only took 15 minutes or so to get the briquettes ready to dump in to the barbecue.  The flavor was better and the cooking process went off without a hitch.

If you are considering buying a barbecue and are leaning toward gas because you think using briquettes is too hard or slow or hard, consider giving it a try.  The results are noticeably better and the process is pretty straight forward.  Anyway, you don’t have to wait for a cooking disaster to give it a try.

Have a great summer.

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I hope everyone’s Easter was great.  We had a nice gathering where everyone managed to gain more weight in one day than they had gained or lost in the last week.  That was just from the aroma.

We had the Sweet and Tangy Ham again.  It has become something of a hit with the family.  I know they will eventually tire of it but I am pleased with the response it has received.

Stuck in a rut you say, well if it’s not broken why fix it.  Don’t despair, even I, with my limited expertise in and around the kitchen will have more new recipes to share.  For now, I just want to relax and enjoy what was a nice successful meal and gathering.

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It was commented by Seriouswriter (a contributor here), sometime ago, that I should try coating a ham with a 50/50 mixture of brown sugar and mustard. Being distracted by all life has had to offer, it has taken all this time to give it try.

Last night we had some family over for dinner and I thought about this recipe idea. I made a few adjustments and whipped up the glaze (also called a mop) just before putting the ham on the BBQ. The initial review of the sauces smell and flavor was a bit lackluster by my wife, who thought the experiment should wait for a dinner without company. I, however being as stubborn as any mule within sight, went forward with the plan. I thought the sauce was perfect and loved the aroma.

The ham was a Butt half ham weighing about 9 pounds. I laid the ham on the BBQ with the cut side pointing to the side. A person could put the cut side down but I thought that would dry the ham out more. All of the other sides have been through the smoking process already and are able to withstand the heat without as much moisture running out into the flames. Since this is a fairly large piece of meat, I used an indirect cooking method. My BBQ has two burners, so I placed the ham over one burner and used the other to provide the heat. If you don’t have that option make sure you turn the meat two or three times during cooking (Not a bad idea anyway). If you are using briquettes, try to keep the pile to one side and the meat on the other. The downside of cooking such a large piece of meat is that the bottom gets the most heat through the whole cooking process. It could be a bit overdone on one side if you don’t have some way to shield it.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water ( just enough to dissolve to dry ingredients)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Mustard (I used a spicy deli variety)
  • 1/4 tsp Cloves (ground)
  • 2 Tbs Honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder or 1/2 clove of Garlic (optional)
  • 1 tsp Horseradish (optional)

In a small sauce pan bring the water to a boil and add the brown sugar and spices. After stirring these in and bringing it back to a boil add the mustard. Give it a few minutes to simmer and the mop or sauce is done. Take it and the ham to the preheated grill. Place the ham on the grill and mop down the ham with the sauce. Use a basting brush or your hand to apply the sauce (have a towel handy). Close down the lid and let it cook. Your target cooking temperature is 325 or so, although mine was more like 375 for most of the cooking time. I use a meat thermometer to gauge its progress. The internal temp should be 160 plus and on the 9 pound-er I cooked, this took 4 1/2 hours. The ham should also be mopped with sauce at least 3 times during the cooking process to keep the outside moist.

Our ham turned out very good, even my wife liked the finished product. I kept some of the mop so that it could be used as a sauce on the ham at the table. The outside does dry out a bit but the inside was juicy and tender as could be. It was a big hit. Thanks to Seriouswriter for pointing me in the right direction. It worked great.

Good luck with your next ham dinner. Let me know how you adjusted this recipe for your tastes.

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I’ve gone on and on about the different ways to smoke meat. Finally, I am going to have to pick one and write about it.

So here we go.

First of all, I am most familiar with using a brine to cure and flavor the meat. In a bit of research about what is out there I see quite a few recipes from people that are not worried about using a cure, in addition to salt, for low heat cooking. I think this is a bit risky, especially on poultry and fish, unless you are using a fairly high salt content by today’s standards. In ideal circumstances there would be no problem, but if the meat has a higher bacteria count than normal (maybe Earl at the plant got a bit careless when moving Porkchop to the breakdown area and dropped her on the floor, giving her an unintentional marinade in unmentionables or perhaps you were distracted as you were getting the ham out to put it down in the brine and the game you gave up on became a higher priority than that special project that got a bit warmer than intended before brining) you may wish you Had upped your protection. Point is that a cure is a great insurance policy against the unknown without having to make your brine too salty. The low heat cooking process is a more favorable environment for bacteria than a normal cooking process. The meat will spend twice as long in the ideal range for bacterial growth. So I recommend incorporating a cure in any Low Heat Cooking.

The original cure used in this process is salt. However we have other preservatives we can use, so the level of salt needed is lower and more a factor of taste than necessity. These other preservatives are the dreaded Nitrites, Nitrates, and Phosphates we spent a decade or more fearing. When the big studies were conducted to put the nails in the coffin of preservatives like these, the scientists were red faced to report that there were no links between these preservatives and health problems. In fact they found that there may be some health benefits from them. So when putting together a recipe, I recommend including a cure with your other ingredients or substitute a mix like Morton’s Tender Quick. It includes salt, sugar, nitrites, and nitrates. You use a 1:4 ratio of Tender Quick to water by volume. The directions say 2 cups of Tender Quick to 8 cups of water.

Hot Smoking Similar to Barbecuing but generally done at slightly lower temperatures. Smoke can be used for adding flavor.

Kippering Devised in particular for fish, this process relies on both the curing and cooking of meat. Smoke here is also used as a flavor enhancer.

Cold Smoking The process involved the use of smoke to preserve meat. Today, cures are used to help kill bacteria and parasites. Some people will also use a period of time (3 or more days) in the freezer to eliminate parasites, especially from fish. The cure alone only slows the growth of bacteria.

If I tried to include all of the different sources that contributed to all the ways of smoking meat, we’d have a book or two not a recipe.

That having been said, how about a recipe for something.

First, a good recipe for brine.

  • 1 gallon water (Hot)
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole cloves  (ground cloves are fine)
  • 1/4 cup ground nutmeg
  • 6 cinnamon sticks ( ground is fine, but I don’t have an amount for you, My guess 1/4 cup)
  • 1-2 oz of liquid smoke (2-4 Tbs)

The original recipe calls for boiling the mixture.  I combined the ingredients I used very hot water out of the tap and mixed it until the ingredients are dissolved as much as possible.   If the ingredients aren’t dissolving as much as you would like, boil the brine for 20 minutes or so.  Either way make sure the brine is cool or even cold before putting the meat down into it.
I adapted this from About.com And is by Derrick Riches.

I used this recipe because it is the most similar I have found to the recipe we used in the Smokehouse ( Yes, I added and subtracted a bit). The ingredients we used were only available commercially. This recipe does not include any cure, so here are some options. Add 1-2 oz of Tender Quick to the recipe or find a cure with no salt and follow the directions or substitute Tender Quick for the salt and the sugar.

Anytime you are making a brine or marinade you should be able to sample it and get an idea if the ratios are right. It will always be too strong to call tasty but it will give you an idea.

As far as time in the brine, that will vary a lot depending on the type of meat. Something small (A cut of chicken or a fillet of Salmon) can be cured in 8-12 hours. Something large (A Ham) may take 7-10 days. Also anything thicker than 2 inches should have brine pumped into it. We use, shockingly enough, a brine pump for this. It is a giant syringe like device, but with a needle about the size of a large nail, only longer. No you won’t want any flu shots with this. You pump it up like a beach ball and put it down in the brine. This is handy and recommended on hams, shoulders, and even loins.

After the meat is cured, you need to rinse it. For the large cuts, 1 1/2 – 2 hours under running water. It doesn’t need to be running at full tilt, just a light flow around it. In the meat business we use a sink that over flows into another sink, so the meat is immerse. You can use a container that can overflow into you kitchen sink or (raised eyebrow time) a container set in the bath tub overflowing into the tub. (There go the brownie points with the wife) You get the idea, use your imagination and have some good excuses ready.

And finally, you cook it up. An oven will work fine. Set it at about 225 and figure on 6 hours although it could take 8. A meat thermometer is critical here. Small or thin cuts will cook much faster, probably in 3 -4 hours. When it gets to 165, its ready. Remember in lost cases it will be heated up again, so don’t expect this to look like dinner. Smaller cuts may be ready to throw on a plate but the larger cuts normally are going to be cooked again. If you find the outside is getting too well done before the temperature gets to your target, then cut the temperature back to 210 or so. Adjustment is the name of the game.

Smoked meat is a lot of work, but it is very rewarding. I highly recommend that you write down exactly what you do to make your product. It will make adjusting your recipe much easier and since there are so many steps it can be hard to remember what you did a week ago when you made that brine.

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Ham does not equal ham.

In a recent poll of sane people reading the title of this article the most common response was, “Huh”.

I am normally sane and I do not usually mix math, philosophy, and cooking in my titles, but it somehow seemed right.

For Thanksgiving we had turkey of course, but we also had ham. As I have mentioned in other posts, I am not a big fan of turkey. I eat a little now and then (once a year). Ham on the other hand is food worth cooking and eating.

First, if you should decide to have a ham for Christmas or New Years, what kind of ham should you get. Does it matter? You bet it does.

The boneless processed and shaped hams (chopped and formed) are handy for lunch meat but even the best of these hams can’t hold a candle to a bone-in whole ham or half-ham. The difference is in the flavor and texture. They may not be as convenient but they are worth the effort.

A bone in ham has more flavor because of that annoying bone. In our society today people are unaware of subtleties like flavor. People are caught up in the marketing terms and catch-phrases like lean and convenient, or worse cheap. Flavor, real good deep flavor, is not insignificant to people like it used to be. My advice. Don’t hold back if you are serving a ham for dinner. Especially for a special dinner. Go bone-in. You do not have to go to the top end to reap the benefits of flavor. You certainly can go to a Honey Baked Ham store and get an excellent ham from them. A less expensive Hillshire Farms ham at your local grocer or one of many other makers of bone-in hams will reward you with a solid flavor and a good smell spreading from your kitchen. There are also hams smoked by small local smokhouses around the country. Find one that fits your needs and go for it.

You can get a whole or a half ham, depending on how big a piece of meat you need. The half hams come as butt-end (or upper end of the ham) or shank-end (AKA leg-end hoch-end, this is the lower end of the ham) The butt-end has more meat on it and the meat is of higher quality.

What always surprises me about a bone-in ham is how good it is as left-overs. It seems to improve with a day in the frig. You can’t say that about turkey.

How long to cook?

About 13 to 15 minutes per pound. Oven temperature should be about 325. I watch the bone, on a butt-end ham, when it is starting to separate from the meat it’s done. You will find that all of the indicators of the ham being ready will come along near the same time. Outside color, internal temperature, the timber of the meat (how it pulls apart and separates from the bone). You will have the best results when you can look at several things about a dish and see how it is progressing during the cooking process. Each piece of meat is different and each will vary a little as it is prepared. You are shooting for an internal temperature of at least 120 degrees. A ham, unlike other meats you are cooking, has been through one cooking process already. It has been smoked or cooked to about 160 degrees internal by the smokehouse. The objective then is to get it warmed up, without over cooking it and drying out the outside.

This year we used a cooker to heat up the ham. It is like a giant crockpot and uses indirect heat to cook. This helps keep the ham moist. It also catches the juices allowing the ham to bath in them. We did not baste the ham but doing so can help keep the outside moist and soft. However you cook your ham, cover it and catch the juices. Also, you can cover the outside of the ham with brown sugar or honey. Other sauces or flavorings can be used to help moisten the ham or to add to it’s flavor. If you decide to BBQ the ham be aware that this is one technique that will tend to dry out the meat. I recommend using something to baste the ham like a sugar or honey based sauce. If you prefer your ham a little dryer you won’t be disappointed with one off the BBQ. If you like a moist ham and prefer to have it without any sauces or flavors added then baking is the way to go in my opinion.

Consider ham for your next special meal. It will make a great meal and the left-overs are just as good as the original meal was.

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Our final stop on this tour of my favorite spices and the companies behind them is Zach’s Spice Company. They offer a huge selection of spices for a variety of cooking needs. Whether you need BBQ rubs, jerky spices, sausage making ingredients, or seasonigs for a variety of dishes you can make at home, Zach’s has something for you. Again, like the other companies I have not tries everything they offer. Not even close but what I have tried and continue to use is good stuff. From their website

Zach’s Spice Company has been providing the highest quality products and customer service to the food industry for over 30 years. We service customers in different parts of the country with a wide variety of products.

Zach’s Spice Company provides spices and blended seasonings to restaurants, grocery stores, meat and sausage processors, and home consumers. Only the best of ingredients are used to meet the high standards of the food business.

Their Barbeque Spicey Rub is excellent. It’s full of flavor an not too salty, so I can slather it on as thick as I like. The complaint I have had with other fine rubs is that their salt content was a hindrance to it’s heavy use where a person wanted more flavor. Not with Zach’s.

If you prefer a sweeter flavor their Barbeque Sweet Style Rub is quite good. Some people don’t want a lot of spice on their BBQ. In these instances I use this sweet rub. Again not too salty, so you can decide how much flavor you want.

In addition to these products they offer many other rubs, batters, sausage and jerky seasoning, and seasonings for making soups, chili, and other dishes.

I can recommend them based on my good experience with their products. You can order them online at Zachspice.com or find them in meat departments around the country.

When looking to add a spice, marinade, or other ingredient to your arsenal it is nice to know what you are getting into. Having a recommendation from someone else can help save some time in trying to find that new thing. All of the spices I mentioned in these three posts are ones I use, and I did not get a thing from the manufacturers (darn it). These will work on their own or make a good base for you to expand on in your masterpieces.

Please let us know how these things work for you or recommend your own ingredients you’ve used in making ‘The Good Stuff’ in your house.

I hope this is useful and Keep Cooking

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Our final stop on this tour of my favorite spices and the companies behind them is Zach’s Spice Company.  They offer a huge selection of spices for a variety of cooking needs.  Whether you need BBQ rubs, jerky spices, sausage making ingredients, or seasonigs for a variety of dishes you can make at home, Zach’s has something for you.  Again, like the other companies I have not tries everything they offer.  Not even close but what I have tried and continue to use is good stuff.  From their website
 

Zach’s Spice Company has been providing the highest quality products and customer service to the food industry for over 30 years. We service customers in different parts of the country with a wide variety of products.

 

Zach’s Spice Company provides spices and blended seasonings to restaurants, grocery stores, meat and sausage processors, and home consumers. Only the best of ingredients are used to meet the high standards of the food business.

Their Barbeque Spicey Rub is excellent.  It’s full of flavor an not too salty, so I can slather it on as thick as I like.  The complaint I have had with other fine rubs is that their salt content was a hindrance to it’s heavy use where a person wanted more flavor.  Not with Zach’s.

If you prefer a sweeter flavor their Barbeque Sweet Style Rub is quite good.  Some people don’t want a lot of spice on their BBQ.  In these instances I use this sweet rub.  Again not too salty, so you can decide how much flavor you want.

In addition to these products they offer many other rubs, batters, sausage and jerky seasoning, and seasonings for making soups, chili, and other dishes. 

I can recommend them based on my good experience with their products.  You can order them online at Zachspice.com or find them in meat departments around the country.

When looking to add a spice, marinade, or other ingredient to your arsenal it is nice to know what you are getting into.  Having a recommendation from someone else can help save some time in trying to find that new thing.  All of the spices I mentioned in these three posts are ones I use, and I did not get a thing from the manufacturers (darn it).  These will work on their own or make a good base for you to expand on in your masterpieces. 

Please let us know how these things work for you or recommend your own ingredients you’ve used in making ‘The Good Stuff’ in your house.

I hope this is useful and Keep Cooking

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