Sunday, January 31, 2010

I posted on my blog about last night's Chicken Fried Steak and Cherry Cheddar Bars dinner. Check it out at

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hi everyone. I am now using to link my social media networks. Check in with Degüello BBQ at my blogs, my main website, Facebook Fan Page and Twitter, leave comments and pass my info on to your friends. Thanks for reading and hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Important - New Blog Address!

Hello faithful readers!

Thanks for following my blog since its inception just four months ago. I've really enjoyed writing about BBQ, food, and life. With that in mind, I think it's time to move to a platform that fits my needs a little better. Therefore, starting today, I will be posting entries on my new Wordpress based site. Here's the address:

I'll still be checking this site and responding to comments, and you will still be able to read and enjoy all my archived posts here. But new and subsequent posts will be at the address above. I'm also looking to expand my social media network with other tools (Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, and quite possibly audio blogs and video content) so please check in for news on that at Wordpress.

Thanks again for reading and see you over there!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bison and Beer Chili

I've got some very strong opinions about chili. First and foremost, if it's got beans in it it is NOT chili. Call it whatever you want, but that is not chili. Second, chili shouldn't be served with spaghetti. That's spaghetti with meat sauce.

After that it gets a little murky. For example, I've never been a fan of Cincinnati chili. Cinnamon in chili? Uh, no thanks. If I want cinnamon I'll get it from a Cinnabon at the mall. But this recipe has made me rethink some of my chili opinions. Don't worry though; there is not a recipe in the world that will shake me from my belief in the absolute truth that anything with beans in it is NOT chili.

Enter the recipe I'm writing about here and its ingredients. I'm down with bison as it's lean and tasty. Shiner Bock? Like I have to answer that. Cilantro? Great flavor and color. But honey? Lime juice? CINNAMON? And pumpkin seeds for topping? I was more than a little unsure about this recipe. However, after giving it a try, it works. It's got heat, but the cinnamon and honey sweetness, paired with the lime tartness lend a complexity of flavor I don't typically get in chili. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the pumpkin seed garnish. The nutty flavor is the perfect topping for this intensely flavored recipe.

Give it a try. I think you'll be impressed.

Quality ingredients are essential

La Costena chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Can't go wrong with Shiner Bock

I use Penzeys Spices whenever possible

The finished product with sour cream and pumpkin seeds on top

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Pickled Pig Method Redux - In Search Of Bite Through Chicken Skin

Today I finished my second go round on cooking chicken using the Pickled Pig Method. I am learning where I need to tweak my execution of chicken preparation, so this was a good learning experience.

The goal today was to practice the de-boning/skin removal/thigh trimming steps that make this method quite labor intensive and see if I could get consistently sized thighs and "bite through skin". I had twelve thighs I purchased from Whole Foods, and it took just about an hour and a half to de-bone, trim, remove the skin/scrape the fat and replace the skins on the folded trimmed thighs. I felt I worked steadily without sacrificing quality. Even so, I think I'd like to do this prior to arriving at a competition. The idea of scraping fat off chicken skin at 6:00 AM is not particularly appetizing to me.

This time around, I cooked the chicken in my Caldera smoker. I employed BBQ Guru's Bob Trudnak's suggestion to use one of the top racks so reflected heat off the top surface of the smoker would aid with crisping the skin. Since it was raining, I decided not to fire up my Weber gas grill for direct heat finishing and instead moved the chicken to a lower rack on the Caldera for the last ten minutes. This may have affected the end product. Here's some pictures and comments/observations:

Trimmed thighs. I tried to make them all the same size, and perhaps a template of some sort will help me size them a little better next time.

Trimmed and wrapped thighs

Thighs in the half steam pan with margarine ready to go into the smoker

Thighs on the smoker grate after braising in margarine for 30 minutes

The finished product with collard greens!

  • I probably used too much rub, as the chicken was a little spicy for my taste. I used Mike Mills Magic Dust, which is great stuff but perhaps on the strong side for this preparation. If I use Magic Dust next time, I will use less.
  • I did get bite through skin on some of the thighs, but it is still hovering somewhere around 50 percent success. I will continue to work with the technique and see if I can get a better bite through success rate. Next time, I will attempt to scrape more fat off the skins. Also, I will also try using a hotter direct heat grill finish next time as the high heat finish may crisp the skin a little better.
  • The texture was good, but brining may have given a bit more moisture. Next time I may try marinading in Italian dressing or a salt/sugar/honey brine for several hours prior to braising.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Quick update on this weekend's plans

I wanted to leave a quick entry to let everyone know I'm still here and Sharon and I doing great. Having a partner in life to share everything makes all the difference in the world regarding my outlook on January, my least favorite month of the year. We've not done any outdoor cooking these past two weekends due in large part to the colder temps and wind chill we've had in Springfield. I've experienced MUCH worse, but even so we just decided to take a few weeks off. One day I'll do a writeup about my participation in the 2001 Iditasport Extreme Adventure Race and recount what happens to sweat when it's -15F outside (Hint: it ain't pretty folks). 350 miles up the Idiatrod Trail on a mountain bike in February is sheer insanity, but I'm kind of a rock head when it comes to facing challenges. But that's a story for another day.

With Degüello BBQ's first foray into competitive BBQ just three months away at Pork In The Park in Salisbury, MD I want to work on a few techniques. Last October I gave the Pickled Pig's Chicken Method a try, and I was quite pleased with the results for the first attempt. Based on some conversations I've had with The BBQ Guru on how to use my Caldera, I'm going to give it another shot this weekend. I'll post on the outcome next week. That's all for now and thanks again for reading!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Day Brisket

After the exhausting but successful outcome of last weekend's catering event, I decided we'd do something a little less demanding for New Year's Day. I had a "special" USDA Prime brisket I'd ordered for the holidays. Actually I ordered two and smoked one on Christmas for Sharon's family. This one was just for us, and it was pretty incredible.

I decided I'd keep it simple and not amp up the flavors too much. In other words, I was shooting for "good eatin'" as opposed to intensely flavored. With that in mind, I went with Pork Barrel BBQ rub. I like Brett and Heath's rub because while it's not overpowering, it's got good complexity of flavor. And it always gives me awesome bark. That's some good stuff you've got there, guys. I used pecan wood chunks for smoke and basted with a Paul Kirk Red Eye rub.

After having some issues with temp control on my Caldera Tallboy last weekend, I got in touch with Bob Trudnak at BBQ Guru to make sure I didn't burn this brisket up. Bob gave me a few tips on how to utilize the drip pan, and thanks to his suggestions, I kept the Tallboy rock steady at 225F for the whole cook.

A few pics of the brisket and observations:

Right out of the cryo-pac. This is without a doubt the most beautiful brisket I've ever seen:

Seven hours into the cook. I foiled and basted with the red eye mop shortly thereafter:

Finished brisket on the cutting board. The color was awesome in person!

Sliced point showing the smoke ring:

  • The simple approach allowed us to taste the flavor of the meat, which was different from other briskets I've been cooking recently. However, I think it would've benefitted from an injection marinade of some sort. I injected a USDA Choice brisket with Kosmo's Q Beef Injection on Christmas Day, and it certainly added extra flavor. Perhaps next time I'll give this a try.
  • I'm getting a better feel for assessing proper cook time beyond just watching the meat thermometer. The meat had hit 188F when I pulled it, which was right where it should be. Based on the texture I observed from moving the meat probe, however, I thought it would've benefitted from another hour on the smoker. This was borne out when I cut into the flat, as it was certainly tender but the slices didn't quite pull apart the way I wanted.
  • I am going to drain the juice from the foil a little earlier. I think this is going to help the bark stay firm and crunchy.