Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple City Ribs and Pulled Pork

Saturday I revisited a favorite ribs recipe from Mike Mills. According to his book Peace, Love and Barbecue, the Apple City Ribs recipe was developed for Mills' competition team. The centerpiece of the prep is the sauce, which includes grated apple, onion and bell pepper along with apple cider vinegar and a healthy shot of cayenne pepper. It's a great combination of sweet, mouth puckering vinegar and spice. After trying this recipe, I can understand why it took first place in the 1990 and 1992 Memphis in May competitions.
I used baby back loin ribs instead of the St. Louis spareribs Mike recommends because I was able to locate some especially meaty ribs at a great price. Plus, I was interested in seeing how the baby backs would come out. After applying a liberal coating of Magic Dust rub, I smoked the ribs on a super low fire (210F) of charcoal briquettes and apple wood chunks for six hours. After basting the ribs with the sauce and giving them a good coat of apple juice at the 5:30 point, I foiled them for the last 30 minutes.

Here's the ribs just after I put them on the smoker. I rubbed them with Mike Mills' Magic Dust rub:

The finished product:

A few observations:

  • I think I went just a wee bit heavy on the rub. The heat was just a little too prominent for my taste. Even so, they were still delicious.

  • I had to step away from the smoker for several hours, so I was unable to spritz the ribs with apple juice during the whole cooking process. They seemed a little dry on the outside; however, the sauce/juice/foil step seemed to moisten them up noticeably. Plus the simultaneous sauce/juice application made the sauce a little thin and it didn't give me the nice coating I usually get with this recipe.

  • Next time, I will stay by the smoker and spritz with juice at regular intervals so I don't feel the need to foil. And I'll go a little lighter on the rub.

Saturday night I smoked a 6 lb. Boston Butt. I used an injection marinade from a Chris Lilly recipe and coated the butt with a liberal dusting of Pork Barrel BBQ rub. I smoked the butt for 13 hours over charcoal and apple wood chunks at 210F. I foiled for the last hour and increased the smoker temp to 250F to push up the internal temp of the butt before I had to go to work. I would've preferred to let it stay on the smoker a little longer, but due to time constraints I pulled it at 188F.

I have to say the Chris Lilly marinade/Pork Barrel BBQ rub combo was awesome. I got great color, excellent texture/moistness and the taste was more well rounded and less salty than other rub/baste combos I've tried recently. I also sent a Tweet to the Pork Barrel BBQ guys to compliment them on the rub, so hopefully they got the message and I'd be really happy for them to check my blog out. Would love it if you leave comments Brett and Heath.

The butt on the smoker at 7:30 AM:

Pulled pork:

Andy about to attempt to put the whole pan in his mouth:

A few things I noticed on the Boston Butt. This is the second time I've used this Chris Lilly marinade recipe, and both times I noticed the meat had a purplish tinge below the bark that I don't get when using other bastes or marinades. It tastes fine, but it looks a little unusual (almost like it's the meat was "bruised"). If anyone has any ideas on what's causing this, please send comments.

Here's the recipe and products links:

Apple City Ribs

Chris Lilly injection marinade

3/4 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Pork Barrel BBQ Rub

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shout out for Captain Chuck-a-Muck

Hey I just wanted to put in a plug for Captain Chuck-a-Muck's Diner in Rescue, VA. Chuck and his wife have a really great place down south of Richmond and have been featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Chuck has to be one of the few people on Earth that can trade quips with Guy Fieri on equal footing. And the food.......well, it's pretty dang good. If you like great seasonal treats like rockfish, oysters, and other local seafood then you gotta stop by Captain Chuck-a-Mucks. Here's the link to the website:

Captain Chuck-a-Mucks

And here's a link to a video of Guy Fieri's visit to Captain Chuck-a-Mucks:

Chuck and Guy Fieri

And the address:

21088 MARINA RD.
(757) 356-1005

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brisket and pork weekend

This weekend I smoked a brisket on Saturday and on Sunday I tried a recipe from the Big Bob Gibson book by Chris Lilly.

The brisket was a bit of a challenge as it was raining steadily throughout the weekend. But I just put up my canopy and covered my BBQ Guru components in plastic wrap and everything worked out.

For the brisket, I used a coffee based rub and made a Coca Cola marinade from a Paul Kirk recipe that I used as a mop. The sweetness of the Coca-Cola combined nicely with the bitterness of the coffee.

Here's the brisket after I took it off the smoker. It was on for 14 hours at 220F on charcoal and pecan wood chunks. I decided to foil the brisket when it reached 170F and add some extra mop sauce before closing the foil. When I pulled it, the brisket was definitely moist; however, I was a little disappointed with the softness of the bark.

Sliced brisket from the point:

I decided to try making burnt ends. I cubed the point, placed it in an aluminum pan, added additional marinade and rub and cooked for an hour at 300F.

In the evening I made a recipe from the Big Bob Gibson book. Here's some photos:

Pork tenderloin rolled with bacon:

The finished product. Rolled the tenderloin in chopped pecans, salt, pepper and Carolina mustard sauce and cooked on my Weber Smokey Joe (sorry no photos as it was already dark):

Here's the recipes:

Coffee Brisket Rub

2 Tbs. paprika

2 Tbs. garlic powder
2 Tbs. onion powder
2 Tbs. black pepper
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. ground coffee (not used coffee grounds)
2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 Tbs. mustard powder

1 Tbs. white pepper

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 Tsp. cayenne pepper powder

Mix this rub well and store in a closed container. It makes enough brisket dry rub for one large beef brisket. Enjoy this one with a pot of fresh-brewed mountain grown Columbian!

Pecan Crusted Pork Tenderloins

Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce

Coca Cola Marinade (go to page 65)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Deguello BBQ Logo

Here it is, the Degüello BBQ logo. Appreciate your comments!

Big thanks to Patrick Carlson of Hot Spot Graphics, who created the logo from my design. If you like Patrick's work, check out his site at BBQ Logos

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jumpin' Jim's Chicken Thighs

First off, props to "Jumpin' Jim", whose recipe I used. I've not been able to track down the actual Jim, but from what I understand he was a competitive BBQ cook in the Midwest back in the earlier part of the decade. Second, thanks to my friends Tom and Christy, the Virginia BBQ Pirates, who told me about this recipe. Tom and Christy are sharing competition advice with me, and based on their success (and the taste of their entries in Front Royal last weekend), I'd probably do well to listen up real close.

One of the challenges in cooking chicken is keeping it moist while still cooking it completely. The Jumpin' Jim recipe calls for marinating the chicken in Italian dressing, which I suspect has an effect similar to brining due to the sodium content of the dressing. Although Jim recommends Paul Newman's Own Italian dressing, I substituted Whole Foods 365 Brand Organic Italian dressing. I marinated in plastic zip-loc bags for about 16 hours. I then took the thighs out and dusted with Magic Dust BBQ rub and placed in the smoker at 220F. After two hours the chicken was at 163F internal temp, so I placed them in an aluminum pan and covered all the thighs in BBQ sauce. Then I covered the pan in aluminum foil and placed the pan back in the smoker for another hour.

After an hour the chicken was at 175F, so I pulled it off and served. If time had permitted, I would've crisped the thighs on the smoker at a higher heat, but by then it was dinner time. I served the chicken with Cowpoke Pintos, cornbread and a Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale for Sharon and a Founders Brewing Breakfast Stout for me. We were pretty full by the end of the meal. A few observations:

  • Next time I'll go lighter on the rub. The chicken was pretty spicy.
  • I wasn't cooking these thighs for competition, so I wasn't too concerned with the appearance. Even so, they looked OK when I pulled them from the pan.
  • The Cowpoke Pintos recipe called for 4-5 diced serrano chiles. I only added two, and trust me that was enough. In my opinion, 4-5 chiles would've made these beans too hot for most people.

Jumpin' Jim's Chicken Thighs Recipe

Virginia BBQ Pirates

Cowpoke Pinto Beans

The marinated and rubbed chicken at 2:30 cooking time and 163F. I pulled one thigh off the WSM and tried it right on the spot. Great moist texture and a nice subtle flavor from the Italian dressing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Achiote A Bomb Friday

Good lesson learned tonight. Trust your eyes (and your temp probe) when judging doneness. The Achiote A Bombs turned out all right, but they were somewhat overdone. The problem? I was too fixated on the recipe cooking time of 1.5 hours to trust what I saw was actually happening. The pork hit target temperature of 155F after 45 minutes. Not wanting to serve undercooked pork, I let it go another 30 minutes, and by then it was at 175F. When I sliced into the first loin, it was a lot drier than I had hoped for. However, that's what BBQ sauce is for, and a liberal dose of Crazy Rednecks sauce still made for a tasty treat. We also smoked acorn squash, which we glazed with a brown sugar/cinnamon/ancho chile infused butter sauce and topped with chopped walnuts. All in all, a really nice dinner.

Should've pulled the pork right after I saw this temp.

Here's the finished tenderloin rolls. Check the nice orange brown finish from the smoke reacting with the orange juice and achiote paste marinade.

The smoked squash. It was great with the brown sugar/cinnamon/dried chile infused butter and walnuts.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Another round of Achiote A Bombs on tap

With the three day weekend coming up I thought I'd try the Achiote A Bomb recipe from The Texas Barbecue Cookbook again. In the picture above is the pork tenderloin marinating in orange juice and achiote paste from last night. I also put the book in the shot for some free publicity to author Robb Walsh (hope you're reading, Robb).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Appreciate your comments and suggestions

See something you like? Have a question or comments?

If the answer to either of those questions is "yes" then please use the "comments" section for the appropriate entry. I'm really interested in your thoughts. Thanks for reading and check back frequently as I've got lots of new content ready to go!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apricot Glazed Ribs

Another tasty recipe from Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures & Glazes. The sweetness of the apricots plays nicely off the wine vinegar, dijon mustard and black pepper. I subbed apricot brandy for wine per the recipe. Together with the Dr. Pepper baste, these ribs were a hit. Smoked four hours on the WSM over an oak/hickory smoke wood mix. I got a little bone shine on the end of the rack, but I still think these were not overcooked.
Ribs and Dr. Pepper Baste Recipe (see p. 81):

Glaze Recipe (see p. 156):

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quick pitch for Stone Smoked Porter BBQ Sauce

Some of the best BBQ sauce I've ever tasted. Smoky, with a little heat and underlying sweetness. I've used this on ribs, brisket and tri-tip. Available on Amazon at:

How to do "low and slow" cooking and still get a good night's sleep

One of the big challenges in "low and slow" cooking is the amount of time and attention needed to produce a moist, smoky and tender beef brisket or pork shoulder. With cooking times of 15 hours (or more), it's essential to maintain a constant temperature (typically in the 220F-250F range) for a very long time. Although the Weber Smokey Mountain is quite capable of long burn times at the desired temperature range without a lot of input, it's still a good idea to pay semi-close attention to the temperature, fuel burn rate, etc. You can get up at dawn, start the smoker and watch it until dark, start cooking in the evening and stay up all night, or set the smoker and hope things stay steady while you're away doing something important, like sleeping.

There is an alternative, however. Currently, there are two producers of temperature control systems that use simple thermocouple temp probes, a blower fan, and a controller device that takes temperature readings and cycles the fan on and off to maintain a selected temperature inside the smoker. This allows near constant, low temperature cooking, a necessity when cooking cuts like beef brisket and pork shoulder. Here's how it works. Say you're cooking a brisket and you want a temperature of 220F inside your smoker and an internal meat temp of 190F. You program the controller with the desired temps, place one probe in the smoking chamber and stick the other probe in the meat. Then you fire up the smoker and put the lid on. As the charcoal begins to burn, the temperature of the smoker rises. The controller tells the fan to blow air on the coals until you reach the desired temperature. Once the desired temp is reached, the fan shuts off. After that the fan cycles on and off to maintain the desired temperature. Since the charcoal is in a semi-deprived oxygen state, it smolders rather than burning and lasts for quite a long time. The meat temp probe allows you to monitor the internal temp and pull the brisket off when you reach the desired temperature.

Yeah, I know, I know, you could watch the smoker continuously. Or you could trust it to stay steady. Or you could just go down to Harris Teeters or Rocklands for some ribs or pulled pork. But I really enjoy cooking my own BBQ, and my temp controller allows me to do just that and have time to do other things (like sleep, for example).

Full disclosure here; I have two temp controller systems. I'm attaching photos of both systems as well as a link to the manufacturers. I strongly suggest you check out the sites for a much more comprehensive explanation of the products and how they work. I'm not going to say which one I like better on the blog; however, I'm happy to answer any general questions on the differences between the two systems.

The Stoker is manufactured by Rock's Bar-B-Que in Newark, CA. The Stoker controller actually generates an IP address, so you can link the controller to your local network and monitor/control the system via a computer or iPhone/BlackBerry. Quite handy if you prefer not to check the smoker status without having to go outside every time. Plus, since the Stoker is open architecture, there is at least one available freeware program out there that generates a detailed graph of smoker and meat temps and fan cycles over time. The Stoker's temp probe and fan plugs have color coded LEDs that light up. This is particularly helpful with the fan, as the blue LED comes on every time the fan receives power and you can see at a glance if the fan is cycling, running continuously or off.
Stoker system (fan is on lower left of the Weber Smokey Mountain)

Closeup of the Stoker Controller

Stoker Controller with Airport Express for network connectivity

BBQ Guru

The BBQ Guru Systems are manufactured in Warminster, PA. The company produces a full lineup of temperature control devices with varying features, specs and price. Unlike the Stoker, the BBQ Guru does not generate an IP address. It is, however, possible to run the system wirelessly via a USB wireless "hub and stick" system. The data can then be accessed via a computer within range of the USB hub (generally around 30 feet) or remotely via a remote program like MochaSoft. The BBQ Guru is a more "rugged" system, with steel braided temp probe cables and a water resistant controller. It does not have the LED equipped plugs like the Stoker.

BBQ Guru System (Fan on lower right of Weber)

Close up of the BBQ Guru Computer Graph (available via laptop/computer attached via USB or wireless USB)

Achiote A Bombs

One of the things I wanted to do this summer was try some non-traditional BBQ recipes, and this was one of the more successful ones I executed. The pork tenderloin was marinated in achiote paste and orange juice overnight and then stuffed with cored and seeded serrano chiles which were themselves stuffed with smashed garlic cloves. The stuffed tenderloin was smoked over an oak and hickory smoke infused 225F temp fire in my Weber Smokey Mountain for about 2 hours. Then I sliced into 1/2" thick slices and served. The cored and seeded serrano was not overly hot, and the garlic cooked nicely inside the tenderloin. But to me, the best part of this dish was the color the achiote paste/OJ marinade imparted to the meat. It was a beautiful brownish orange that the picture does not quite capture. Apologies up front as I've thus far only used my iPhone camera to take pictures for the blog. Not the best resolution shots for sure, and I'll probably invest in a better camera soon.

Here's the link to the recipe:

Important safety tip: if you're sensitive to peppers, either core and seed the peppers with a toothpick and very small spoon, or get some of those disposable latex examination gloves (non-powdered type). Just get a box as they're super handy for working with peppers and sauced meats.

A little info on serrano and achiote:

Here's a few pictures of the preparation:

Marinated and stuffed tenderloin

Tenderloin on the smoker top grate

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cherry Lambic Ribs

While I'm sorting out how to go about crafting this blog, I thought I'd post a few test pictures, as well as write some entries to whet your appetite (heh heh). These are my cherry lambic BBQ ribs. I took the recipe directly from Steve Raichlen's book Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs . I used the recipe from the book, but for the marinade I substituted Southern Tier Cherry Saison and for the sauce I used two year old Troeg's Mad Elf Ale . The Mad Elf had aged nicely, with a decreased "heat" from the 11% ABV and mellower cherry and honey flavors from when it was freshly brewed in 2007. I smoked the marinated ribs for 4.5 hours on my WSM (that's short for "Weber Smokey Mountain" if you were wondering) Humphrey's charcoal briquettes and cherry wood chunks for smoke flavor. This was an incredible recipe, and I had several people ask for it to add to their Thanksgiving dinner menus.

Sunday, October 4, 2009