Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

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How to Please Your Wife in the 1950’s

 

The Modified Look

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Well, it was one of those evenings where you waddle in through the front door tired and foot sore. It had been a long day afield, and all you want to do is procure a manly beverage and plant your prostate on your favorite man chair and watch some Clint Eastwood. But you can’t. Turns out your wife has had plans for you all day to grill her up some big, juicy cheeseburgers, patron to the pit.

“But darling”, you croak, “I haven’t but one ounce of energy, just let me tarry here in my chair a few hours more!”

Then she gives you a modified version of “the look”. Every man knows the look, but this one is slightly different. It’s the usual, you-better-obey kind of look, but then it’s modified somehow with a droopy, puppy dog face sort of thing going on, and it is all but impenetrable. And so you shrug your shoulders, pull your boots back on, and set off to work again. This, after all,  is the life we pit masters have signed up for. And you got to take it in stride.

“Oh, can you make some ice cream too?” my wife said, batting her eyelashes.

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Turns out her supper plans for me were borderline extravagant for a run of the mill weekday night. And before I knew it I had the ice cream maker sitting out at the pit with me, churning away in the dark. That accompanied by the soft, wispy plumes of smoke coming off the charcoal chimney, well, I started to get into my little ambiance there, dug out in the snow. I don’t think I have ever made homemade ice cream on a January evening in Minnesota before, but when your wife says she wants a chocolate shake with her cheeseburger, well a fellow ought to oblige if he can, right? And I could. So I did.

On the note of ice cream, and just to share with you guys, here is our secret ice cream recipe honed through the ages.

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 gallon whole milk

2 cups sugar

1 carton of egg beaters

splash of vanilla extract

Yeah, it’s complicated stuff! Not really, but it surely is delicious, and would make a fine compliment to our cheeseburgers tonight. A brilliant stroke, really.  But it gets even better. Two words…French Fries!

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The Crinkle Cutter 

My bride had recently acquired one of these doodleboppers. A little french fry making technology sure to up our game, giving your normal, boring french fry, the crinkled edge often coveted by french fry connoisseurs, such as yours truly. Never used one of these before, but it seemed to do the trick. These spuds were then lowered into a bubbling vat of peanut oil, and deep fried there until golden brown. If you haven’t made your own homemade french fries before, you’re missing out people. And they are not that hard to do either. Anyways, back out to the pit.

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The burgers sizzled away like burgers do. And I loitered out there some, I must admit. The night wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be, and the companionship of the coals seemed particularly abiding this eve. Their orange glow, set in a field of frozen white seemed “just right”. And for while at least, I was glad I got up off the couch and made supper like I was told. This was nice. Good to be manning the faithful kettle grill again. Feels like it’s been a while. Near the end of the cook, I flipped the burgers over direct heat for a bit to form a modicum of crust, purely for textural appeal. I knew the fries were nearing their end game too, and the ice cream was ready. The culmination of an wintry evening’s efforts were soon at hand. It was just about time to head inside to our home diner.

The Home Diner Experience

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My bride and I are creatures of nostalgia, in particular the 1950’s. Which is odd, because neither one of us even existed in the 50’s. Or the 60’s. Even so, we are smitten for the past. So much so, in point of fact, that we re-created this little 50’s style diner nook just inside the patio door. Purely for fun of it, of course. As much as I like to eat in my man chair by the TV, I knew it would be nostalgic blasphemy not to ingest this meal, “proper like” in the diner. And thus to this end, we did.

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Toasted kaiser rolls, fresh tomato slices, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, hark, the works people! Sided with a lovely bouquet of homemade crinkle cut french fries, and a tall, homemade chocolate shake. Glory be! If eating a burger at home gets any better than this, I haven’t heard of it! A top notch culinary experience. And to think, I just wanted to sit on the couch and watch Clint Eastwood. Mercifully, my wife saw the better in me, and she was pleased. Come to think of it, so was I. Amen.

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How to BBQ in a Polar Vortex

Part One

Humbled

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Yours truly discovering his ribs hath gone a’foul in the tempest

I thought I was a humble fellow, but I guess it turns out I’m not. It was just your run of the mill slab of pork ribs. Your basic kettle cook at 20 below. Truly, I thought nothing of it when my wife requested ribs for supper during a polar vortex. This is just what I do. Its who I am. And she knew it. However, in retrospect, I probably should have gone to McDonald’s for a Big Mac instead. Let me digress.

Indeed, the recent polar vortex to come through town put the kibosh on a great many outdoor activities. What with 20 below wind chills, it was a day obviously better suited for other endeavors besides the art of BBQ. But I had never gone sally with the elements before, leastwise where BBQ is concerned, and by golly, today wasn’t the day I would start. And the winds hurtled through the icy township with a divine authority that demanded respect. The good people of the world were huddled indoors, suckling hot cocoas and watching Netflix marathons. And then there was me. Fortunately, the Pond Side Pit was tucked into the gracious eddies of the house that which broke the keen and penetrating December wind. Well, for the most part it did. And there, amid my armory of Webers, I was able to make my stand.

I chose the Weber kettle as my tool of choice this smoke, for a couple of reasons. One, it’s small, and would require less fuel on this cold day to keep it hot. And two, I just didn’t feel like dumping ten pounds of charcoal into the Weber Smokey Mountain for one rack of ribs. As much as I love the WSM, it is rather the gas guzzling SUV of the meat smoking world. No matter, I was a Patron of the Pit. I had smoked ribs in the Weber kettle many times. This was old hat! Child’s play…

Henceforth, I destroyed thy pork ribs with a vigor usually reserved for a nuclear detonation.”

They were hard, brittle, and crusty to the touch. Looked like the skeletal remains of a pet which did not make it clear of the house fire. It was bad. A chunk in hand could have maybe sufficed as a good charcoal pencil for the cave walls, that which I felt like I have just emerged from.  Hark, it looked as if my elder brother had even come by and assisted me with my BBQ whilst I was not looking. Where did I go wrong?

What we learned

Well, for starters, I learned not to under-estimate the narcoleptic value of a good grandma blanket. Because that’s where I was for much of the smoke. Under a grandma in the living room, snoring like a brown bear whilst listening to football on the TV. It was an agreeable lifestyle. The kettle grill was left to its own devices out on the patio. I thought I had set it up for success. Turns out I had not. I had built the fires too hot inside it’s steely bosom. In an ill-guided miscalculation on my part, I figured somewhat logically, that because it was so cold out, I would counter the elements with a slightly larger fire. All this did however, was raise the pit temperature from pretty hot, to split-your-own-atoms, kind of hot. And thus incinerated my beloved ribs with all due effectiveness. Aw well. Live and learn, as they say.  There’s always tuna fish sandwiches for supper.

Part Two

Redemption

A week has passed. Maybe a bit more than that. The new weekend was upon thee, and I had a span of clock available to smoke another rack of ribs if I wanted. Well, with my last efforts still dawdling on my mind like cigar smoke in the drapes, I wanted nothing more than to rectify my blunder, and set my status right again in the smokey community. To get this rancid flavor of defeat off my tongue. The temperature had risen now to a balmy zero degrees or something like that. The wind was low, in-effectively low, and the tweety birds were even active again, darting about the yellow block of suet I had set out for them. This is as good as it was going to get in a Minnesota winter. Like an aplinist siezing a window of proper weather in which to summit Everest, I knew I must act soon. And I knew this time I would do it right, and fire up the Weber Smokey Mountain.

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Doing it right with the Minion Method

Tho it uses moocho much fuel, one thing is for sure about the Weber Smokey Mountain. It works. And it works in the cold too. One heaping chimney full of orange glowing coals dumped into the center of a ring of unlit coals, as seen in the photo, is all  it takes for a rack or three of ribs on any given day. The minion method is your friend here. That’s where the lit coals slowly light up the unlit coals, and those coals in turn light up other unlit coals, kind of like a chain re-action, thus employing a steady, even burn, to last many hours with out baby sitting. The WSM was soon established at 225 degrees, and it did not budge from this temperature the rest of the cook. I should have just done it right the first time, but you know how it goes.

To learn more about the minion method, we did a write-up years ago on that. It’s probably our most read article. Consume at your leisure is so inclined.

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/the-long-burnthe-method-of-jim-minion/

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Meanwhile, we seasoned up the ribs with a splattering of Worcestershire sauce, and then liberally dusted it Kit’s K.C. BBQ rub from our friends over at Miner’s Mix. We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again; if we had to be monogomous to one spice rub company, I do believe the Miners Mix crew would be our choice. Just love their flavors. Here’s a link to their stuff if you guys haven’t yet had the occasion.

http://www.minersmix.com

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Anyways, we put the ribs on the pit, bone-side down, and let them do their thing for two and a half hours at 225 degrees in a gentle cloud of pecan smoke. Then we foiled them with a little smearing of butter and BBQ sauce for one more hour. And I napped only cautiously this time, under my grandma blanket, hockey game on the TV, and listened to the calling of my pit master instincts, as the culinary end game drew nearer to thee. And like it does in winter, the night fell early over the land, as the old bullet smoker puffed stoically out on the patio.  The aromas of a Carolina BBQ shack wafted over the crusty fields of blue-tinted snow, for which a slender moon hung silently above. I slipped into my shoes, and waddled out the patio door to check the tenderness of my spoils, jacket zipped tight, and there under the scant starlight of a cold winter’s eve, amid the sounds of sizzling pork and aluminum foil unwrapping, I knew as surely I had known anything before, that these ribs would at once be amazing. And furthermore, that I had been quitely redeemed. Amen.

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Succulent pecan-smoked pork ribs redeemed from the jaws of a polar vortex. Very satisfying, both to the stomach and soul. Grill on! -PotP

 

Good Reads: Peace, Love, & Barbecue

IMG_0344As the December wind draws snowflakes from an ashen sky, I find myself repairing by the fireplace, hot cup of cocoa in hand, relaxing music in tune, and musing aloud over the soft intricacies of a winter’s day. I like how the snow falls on the spruce outside my window pane, complimenting each other in the perfect marriage. Heavy snow drooped on bended bow, with chickadees darting to and fro, and this fire that which warms my feet, well, it is all that I can ask of a winter day. A day so cold and so unforgiving, I am quite certain there is a third-grader in a school yard somewhere, with his tongue at this moment fused to a flag pole. You know it happens. Don’t ask me now.

Anyways, as I tarry here, quite content by this fire, I should like to tell you about a book I’ve been reading. A good read, as far as BBQ is concerned. Chalk full of recipe and technique; it is surely a treasure trove for that. But moreover, weaved amid it’s musty-scented pages, there are stories. And that’s what I find I am enjoying most. The stories. Stories of one man’s BBQ sojourn. From watching his Dad kneel over the backyard pit, to one day entering BBQ competitions and opening restaurants built on time tested Q.

51hjchnumel-_sx375_bo1204203200_Peace, Love, and Barbecue was referred to me by a once upon a time subscriber to this blog, and I took him at his word, and ordered myself a copy in a prompt fashion. We do not all that often review books, and nobody even asked us to review this one, it’s just that I’ve quite enjoyed this read, and thought maybe you guys would too.

Mike Mills, the author, has had quite the life in BBQ. As the owner of 17th Street Bar and Grill, in Marion Illinois, he has seen it all from his favorite stool down at the end of the bar. From serving ribs to Norm, from Cheers, to having his freezer explode into a cloud of hurling pig shrapnel. I found myself chuckling enough to slop some hot cocoa on my belly whilst reading this book. He even delivered his BBQ to Bill Clinton one time, aboard air force one. That’s the kind of stories I’m talking about here. And they fill the meat of the book like a good injected marinade. I’m not done with it yet, so I can’t tell you how it ends. But I thought I’d share with you that it looks to be a good one thus far. A fine literary compadre on a day so keen and so cold as this.

And so as soft music plays gently in stride, and the snow flakes continue to fall, I toss another billet onto the fire, and cozy back up with this BBQ narrative. Like a good brisket, or pork shoulder, like any worthy act in BBQ, I find that I am in no hurry to rush it along. Good things ought never to be rushed. We get hurried along enough in life as it is, so why cling to haste if we don’t have to. Yup, I’m taking my time with this one. Stretching it out. Savoring it. Slowly turning the pages to see what’s next. Something we all should do with good reads. Good people. And proper BBQ. Amen.

https://www.amazon.com/Peace-Love-Barbecue-Recipes-Outright/dp/1594861099

Oh yes, and Merry Christmas also to our fabulous and esteemed readership.  Thanks for another year!

Grill on!

-PotP

 

A Year In BBQ: The Best of 2016

As December rolls around here on the 45th parallel, and the snow begins to fly, I tarry here at my desk, with a lovely beverage at hand, and reminisce on another year in BBQ. Another calendar traverse of manning the pit through sunny days that would not end, to tempests and heatwaves, and penetrating arctic cold fronts. All from which this vantage I do declare blessings to behold. Did many a smoke out this year, and most of it was edible by our standards. Here then is a list of our favorites, and how they went and came to be.

Best New-To-Us Cut of Meat That We Grilled

The venerable Tri-Tip Roast. I know you California folk see this fare at every grocery store, but for what ever the reasons, the heck if we could find a Tri Tip in Minnesota. And then one day last summer, oh how I remember it now, mine eyes lay gaze upon the Tri Tip roast of my dreams, residing prostrate behind the butcher’s glass. I knew then, as surely as I had ever known anything in the past, that there was a rendezvous in my future. A meaty conspiring with this formidable chunk of beef.  And I loved it! So delicious and worthy of the hunt.

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Somewhere between a brisket and a steak, this Tri Tip was at once a love affair. I cannot wait to do the next one, when ever that may be. Here is a link to our write up on this one, if you’re keen to such things.

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2016/08/16/meat-lust-tri-tip-on-the-weber-kettle-grill/

Best New BBQ Sauce We Tried

No question here. Joe Joe’s Hog Shack Blackberry Sauce. All their flavors were excellent, but the blackberry sauce was unreal. The undisputed favorite in the two households we served the sauce in. It went fabulously with everything from: chicken to pulled pork, to beef. Only down fall was that it didn’t last long enough. A hungry family can suck a bottle of this nectar up in just days if you’re not witty about it. We weren’t too witty.

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Indeed, if you’re looking for your next favorite sauce, do check out these blokes from out east. Here’s a link to that write up if you’re so inspired.

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/its-in-the-sauce-joe-joes-hog-shack-bbq-sauces/

Here is their website too!

http://www.joejoeshogshack.com/

Best New Hot Rub That We Tried

This one is easy too. Fire in the Hole. We’ve been using the rubs from Miners Mix for a IMG_0416while now, and have pretty much fallen in love with everything they do. They are Spice Wizards, and just have special powers that us mere mortal folk cannot divine. I’ve stopped trying to figure out how they do it. Going along with the theory that some of the good things in life just ought not to be analyzed, but savored. So we do such with Miners Mix. When we tried their latest brain thrust, Fire in the Hole, I think the world stopped rotating on its axis for a moment. Or maybe that was our faces melting off. I’m not sure. It is a legitimate heat source tho, with lots of ghost pepper powder in it. A rub to be respected! But my, the parade of undertones that come sailing by your palate is a journey in of itself. Most hot rubs we’ve tried just try to blow you away with sheer scoville units. They figure if they melt a hole in your tongue, then their job is done. But it’s not. The spice jockeys of Miners Mix went to extra pains to make sure their hot rub experience did not stop with the heat, but instead to incorporate a symphony of flavors, perhaps heightened by the heat. I dunno. Like I said, they just know stuff we don’t concerning spice rubs. Anyways, best hot rub of 2016 goes to Fire in the Hole, aptly coined by the good folks at Miners Mix.

Here is our blog on that one.

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/how-to-burn-a-hole-in-your-tongue-fire-in-the-hole-cheeseburgers/

http://www.minersmix.com/index.html

Most Interactive Subscriber on This Blog in 2016

Well, we have a great many wonderful subscribers to this blog. Diverse, beautiful people from all over the world and we probably wouldn’t be writing this post at all today, if it were not for you. So a heart felt thank you, to all of you. But looking at the stats page, just from a mathematical perspective, two subscribers have risen above all the rest, in terms of leaving comments. Both in frequency and in substance. Which is about as interactive as you can be on a blog. Two gentlemen of commitment! And loyalty. And keen wit! The race was close too, about neck-and-neck, I should say. Neither one would probably even care if they were the number one comment maker anyways, so we’ll call it a tie, because in truth, it is. And besides that, we just want to say thank you.

So in no particular order, Todd Baker, come on down! Perhaps none of our subscribers have been more stalwart in showing up in 2016, than Todd. And always with a thoughtful comment. Interacting and showing the love on Facebook even. A brethren of the pit, likewise, we would be remiss not to mention his blog. Here is one we subscribe to and enjoy. Todd is at once an excellent writer in his own right, and cobble smith of the English language. His essays are like fine Swiss chocolate, crafted to the highest levels. For example, he can write an essay on going to a heavy metal concert, of which I have no interest in, and still make you think by the end of the read that it has been time well spent. Say what you want, but that’s a good writer. Be who you are, like what you like, and do cool stuff. That’s his tag line, and it fits. He is who he is, likes what he likes, and by golly, does cool stuff! Many thanks to you, Todd, for being such a great subscriber. And yeah, doing cool stuff.

John and Mary in Ecuador share the prize with Todd, for Most Interactive Subscriber to the blog. Tho I suspect John does most of the talking, Mary has chimed in too, on occasion. One of the greatest privileges of running a blog we’ve found out, nay the best thing about blogging, is meeting cool people. John and Mary in Ecuador are two of them.  Once upon a time they hung a shingle and worked in the USA, and now are retired, and living the sweet life in Ecuador. We subscribe to their blog too, and is one of our favorites to peruse. What a pleasure to tarry by the fireside up here in Minnesota on frosty winter nights, and read about John in Ecuador inflating his pool noodle. He often times likes to rub it in like that too. When he sees that we have blizzard going up on here, I think he gets a particular joy in letting me know of his paradise like conditions patron to the Ecuadorian lifestyle.

You just like to rub it in“, I would croak.

Only thing I’m rubbing in is my sun tan lotion!” he would yammer.

You see how it goes. And we love it! Check out both of these guy’s blogs some day when you’re looking for something good to read.

https://anddocoolstuff.wordpress.com/

https://johnandmarylivingitupinecuador.wordpress.com/

Best Smoked Meal of 2016

This one was not so easy. There was plenty of yum coming off the pit this year. But the one that stands out, the one that I keep thinking back to again and again, the one that I know I must try and replicate at some point yonder, has got to be the burnt ends.

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It was the 4th of July weekend, and I was doing up my annual brisket, the full packer as it were, when I decided to finish off the cook by making some burnt ends from the point. A common move of a well-versed pit jockey. Now it may not look like much, but if you’ve ever had occasion to ingest some burnt ends in your days, you know what I mean here. You know from what utter succulence I refer. The brisket turned out just fine, but these burnt ends, mercy, I do believe they were the very tastiest thing procured off the pit this year. The most tender and succulent smoked meat I may have ever put in my mouth and declared good. Blame it on the high fat content, I suppose, but my, what a treat. The perfect blend of smoke and Miners Mix spice, tinted with some of that Blackberry sauce we talked about earlier. Even half a year later, I’m still getting compliments from family members about this humble pan of meat. Really enjoyed these burnt ends.

Here’s the link to this one too.

https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/trouble-with-the-curve-on-baseball-and-brisket/

Best Day at the Pit

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It was spring. The pond was still frozen, but the sun was warm, and the grass dry. The kind of day you wait for all winter long. The sort of day a soul rejoices in the sun. So I did up a batch of beef stew that day on the faithful, Weber kettle grill. Oh what loitering Nirvana then was at hand. Black Capped Chickadees in full flirtation. Cool spring air mingling through the pit side spruce. The smell of the earth in a slow reveal. It was so lovely, I remember, that I set up my new backpacking tent, just because, and pretty much camped out pit-side, whilst the wood smoke curled into a blue, Minnesota sky. There are some days at the pit where you know as surely as you’ve known anything, that you’ve scored. Both in weather and in calorie. No time crunch either. Hanging ten on the metaphoric waves of outdoor cooking. It’s easy to do when it works.  Just let the smoke curl and the vittles bubble, whilst you do your best to tarry there in the gentle wake of deeds well done. And I did. And also amen.

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https://patronsofthepit.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/how-to-dig-in-dutch-oven-beef-stew/

 

 

 

Relativity: How to Make Hamburger as Big as Your Head

*Found this essay hiding out in the PotP archives, covered in 2 inches of digital  cyber dust. Never published. A story about a little cook-out from last spring, some good food, and some people  there we met along the way. Enjoy.

It was a soft spring afternoon, under quiet gray skies, with a light drizzle dappling over theIMG_0625 land and over the pond. I was out manning the pit of course, doing what pit keepers do, sizzling up a pan of bacon over the old patio stove. The tweety birds were out too, in full chorus I noted, despite the drizzle. And the Mallards milled poignantly in the pond, as always, indifferent to the inclement of weather.  Anyways, we were having a bandy of people over today, to fellowship and commune over several pounds of perfectly grilled ground beef. Hamburgers that is.  Burgers large enough to warrant their own zip code Okay, maybe not that big, but even so.

The ground beef was seasoned with a packet of Lipton Onion Soup Mix, which was thoroughly worked through all the protein. Massage it in there, people, and get your hands dirty! Divvy out into patties accordingly.  I thought about stuffing a couple globs of pepper jack cheese into the center of the patties, for to sport a Juicy Lucy, but I felt lazy at the pit today. So I didn’t. A pit jockey’s freedom.

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You all know how to grill a hamburger. Leastwise I hope you do. So we shall not indulge in the how-to’s of the game. I will mention to you however, the glories of a gently curling pillar of hickory smoke, wafting up out of the pit damper. Likewise, the wonderful, earthen aromas of grass and dirt on a wet day, and how it mingles so saintly with the pungency of lightly charred beef. And the Canadian geese yonder, afloat on placid waters, honking it up like the brass section of the high school band. Can’t say it sounds good, but I’m glad it’s there, I guess.

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Among the guests to show up this eve, was a little lady I hadn’t had occasion to meet before. She was quiet most of time, keeping to herself, yet drawing mass attention like all babies do. I felt compelled to build her a hamburger. You know, to welcome her to the planet and all. It was a good one too. And I noticed after a fashion, that it was almost, but not quite, as big as her head. Relatively speaking, that’s a burger! Glory be the day that I meet up with such a plunder, as I have a rather larger than normal cranium as it is, or so I’ve been told. But this here baby, in truth, she was not all that impressed with my bountiful offering. She was no more amused with the hamburger than she was with the 42 inch mounted musky on the wall in the living room. Ah, ignorance is such a blinder.

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And so we settled in for food, fellowship, and really big hamburgers patron to the pit. Burgers are at once easy to make, declicious to eat, and always seem to go over well feeding a crowd. They can assemble their own, and thus it becomes personal to them. That’s the magic of burgers. Add a chunk of mesquite wood or hickory to your coals during the cook to really up your game. It will propel your hamburger to the next level of smoky goodness, and all your people will rejoice in turn. Well, all that is except for those who don’t have any teeth yet. But what can you do?  Amen.

YouTube Pitmaster Interview: Troy Smith

YouTube University

One of the great resources of our modern era is the internet. And perhaps my favorite resource on the internet, is the YouTube. You can learn anything there. Anything! YouTube University, as my elder brother sometimes calls it. And it is. What a privilege to have so much knowledge at our finger tips. Wanna know how to milk a cow? YouTube it! Wanna know how to weld underwater? Well, YouTube it! Many years ago, when we first got into the BBQ arts, cutting our teeth as it were, we naturally perused the YouTube algorithms in search of BBQ videos. What an addicting past time that is, let me tell you.  Anyways, along the way we discovered a plethora of fellow BBQ enthusiasts who really knew their stuff. I mean these guys were good! They are not necessarily on the pro circuit or anything, tho some are, but one thing is for absolute sure – they have a passion for BBQ.

If you were to ask us here at PotP who some of our BBQ influences are, well many of them you can find on YouTube. And most of them have their own YouTube channel that they update regularly. Troy Smith, of T-Roy Cooks, is one of them. We’ve been watching his channel for a long time now, and well, there’s just something about him we cotton to. He’s like your favorite old pair of pants, (sorry Troy) , in that he’s just a pleasure to be around and watch him do his thing. A genuine, down-to-earth, kindly and sincere, Texan, who simply loves to make BBQ. So we contacted him to see if he might be up for an interview, and in true T-Roy Cooks fashion, he was all over it.

What follows is our conversation with Troy, as we let the man discourse a little his passion for BBQ. We really enjoyed it, and hope you do too.

Picking the Brain of T-ROY COOKS

 

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PotP: Who are your BBQ influences?  Why did you start a YouTube Channel?

T-Roy Cooks: There are a few competition BBQ’ers that have influenced my cooking. I really enjoy the layers of flavor that Johnny Trigg puts on his pork ribs and I have followed his techniques in many of my own BBQ cooks, so Johnny has inspired me the most. I also like to watch Myron Mixon and Big Moe Cason cook. Each of those guys have their own style of cooking and use different seasonings, but in the end, all of their BBQ looks terrific.

As for why I started a YouTube cooking channel, my son was moving out of the house and did not know anything about cooking. My wife and I wanted him to be able to cook the meals that he grew up eating at home after he moved out of the house, so I started making videos showing how to cook the meals that he loved at home. I guess my passion for cooking really shined through in my videos, because after just a few months of starting my channel, I began to get dedicated followers who really enjoyed my style of cooking. The feedback I received was very flattering and helpful because I was actually really shy when I began putting up videos. That feedback inspired me to continue building my channel into what it is today, so I am grateful to all of my subscribers for helping me feel comfortable in front of the camera. It is also very gratifying when they leave feedback letting me know that they have tried and loved my recipes.

PotP: What is your favorite smoke wood?

T-Roy Cooks: I have found that Pecan and Post Oak go well with every kind of meat, so that is what I mainly use in my Yoder Wichita offset smoker or my WSM. I like to change it up from time to time so that I get different smoke profiles. Right now I am using Pecan. When I run out of that wood, I will switch to Post Oak. I purchase a 1/4 cord at a time from a tree cutting service and find that it will usually last me about 5-6 months of weekend cooks. If I am cooking something hot & fast, such as flank steak, skirt steak, or tri-tip, I like to use Hickory or Mesquite, but my go-to wood has to be Pecan or Post Oak for most cases.

I grew up using mainly Hickory, but after trying other woods, I have found that both Hickory and Mesquite have really strong smoke flavor, so I use them sparingly or mix them with Pecan or Oak. I usually don’t use any fruit woods unless I am cooking poultry or fish. For those meats, I like to use Apple or Cherry. I do love the flavor of Peach wood, but it is difficult to get here in Texas and, if I can get it, it is very expensive.

PotP: Give one tip for aspiring pit masters

T-Roy Cooks: Each pit is different, so learn your pit. It takes a lot of time and patience to learn your pit, but once you have it figured out, you will produce some of the best BBQ you have ever tasted. Don’t give up and don’t over-smoke your meat! Make sure you have good air flow through your pit. You want to see that thin blue smoke instead of billowing white smoke out of your stack. Again, just be patient and learn your pit.

PotP: How often do you cook outside?

T-Roy Cooks: Luckily, in Central Texas we are able to cook outdoors all year. During the hot summer months, I probably cook outside 2-3 times per week. I love the cooler Winter months and spend most days of the week cooking out back, so I’d say 5-7 days a week when it’s cooler outside.

PotP: Favorite cut of meat to BBQ? Why?

T-Roy Cooks: My favorite cut of meat has to be pork ribs. I love pork ribs and I have become a pro at cooking them. You can get so many layers of flavor on ribs that when you take a bite of them your mouth explodes with joy! Ribs are pretty thin, so all of those flavors are packed onto the surface and go very well with the thin meat of the rib. You don’t quite get the same flavorful bites when you try to do the same thing with pork butt or thicker cuts of meat. Also, I do love a good USDA Prime Texas Brisket seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne!

PotP: Do you have any outdoor cooking traditions?

T-Roy Cooks: Cooking traditions, huh? Well, I usually have some tunes going while I am cooking out back. I love Classic Rock from the 80’s mostly, but I also enjoy Classic Country music from the 70’s & 80’s. I also like to have a keg of local Austin beer in my Kegerator out back and enjoy a nice chilled beer while cooking. The smell of the smoke in the air and the smell of the meat cooking while I enjoy some tunes and sip on a cold beer is what I love to do. Life doesn’t get much better!

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PotP: What is your biggest BBQ blunder? What just didn’t work? When did Troy slap his head and go “whups!”

T-Roy Cooks: When I first started doing BBQ, I wanted to cook pork ribs on my offset. I read how everyone was using the 3-2-1 method, so I gave it a shot. I ruined my ribs by overcooking them. I found out quickly that the 3-2-1 method does not work for me. My ribs were severely overcooked. The bones fell out of the meat and the meat itself was mushy. I have come to realize that most people like their ribs to be “fall off the bone” tender, but I like mine to have some bite. So, I have never used the 3-2-1 method for cooking ribs again. If I do ever try wrapping my ribs again, I will probably do my own 3-1-1 method!

PotP:  Other than eating it, what is it about BBQ that excites you? Why do you keep pursuing it? What fuels your passion, T-Roy!

T-Roy Cooks: When I walk by my Yoder Wichita offset smoker, it smells like I am in one of those very old BBQ joints where they’ve been cooking BBQ on the same pits for over 100 years. You know the kind of BBQ joint I’m talking about where the smoke has discolored the walls of the place and the smoke smell permeates every crook and cranny in the joint? There is something to be said about that smell of a BBQ pit and the aromas filling the air from the meat smoking on the pit.

The smell of BBQ exhilarates me and makes me want to celebrate fine tasting BBQ with my friends, family, and neighbors. I am passionate about BBQ, but knowing that each cut of meat is different, I have to stay on my toes while cooking BBQ. No two briskets or pork butts will ever cook exactly the same. The meat can be temperamental and it is up to me, the Pitmaster, to do everything I can to produce the best BBQ I can from the meat on the pit. It is a challenge, but it is a challenge that I gladly accept. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!!!

PotP: When you don’t feel like cooking, where do you go for BBQ?

T-Roy Cooks: I know you’ll find this quite odd, but I really don’t go out to eat BBQ. In fact, I rarely go out to eat period! There are plenty of BBQ joints here around Central Texas (Austin), but there are only a couple that I would eat at again. One is Louie Mueller BBQ and the other is Stiles Switch BBQ. I hear that Franklin’s BBQ and La Barbecue (owned by Mueller’s grand-daughter) are really good, but I have yet to try those because I don’t like long lines and I don’t like going to downtown Austin.

PotP: What is your pit-side beverage of choice?

T-Roy Cooks: I love relaxing by my pit with a cold beer or a big glass of strong sweet iced tea. In fact, I have a Kegerator, as mentioned in a previous question, and I always have a keg from a local Austin brewery iced down on tap. I change up which breweries I have on tap, but most of them are really tasty!

PotP: What is your choice activity whilst smoking a 16 hour pork butt?

T-Roy Cooks: During the day, I enjoy floating around in my pool under the palm trees or relaxing in my hot tub while listening to some classic tunes from the 70’s & 80’s. If it’s late at night on a long cook, I will watch a good Sci-Fi TV show or movie, a Football game, or some NASCAR on my TV out back to pass the time. I usually have plenty of those shows recorded so I can watch them at my leisure.

PotP: Lastly, what is next for T-Roy Cooks?

T-Roy Cooks: I have had a lot of my followers request that I make BBQ rubs, so I am working on some recipes for my own rubs that I can sell. I am also wanting to do some live cooking shows so that my followers can watch me in live time while I cook. They can ask questions of me and I can instantly respond back to them. The hard part with that idea is finding the right time where I can get the most people watching live.

Bonus Question: I’ve seen you in your videos do cannonball dives into your pool for the amusement of your viewers. Big leaping kerplooshes, sending tsunami-like waves across the land. Pets run for their lives. You have some mad skills there. So, if you were an Olympic diver, and a gold medal was on the line, would the cannonball then be your go to dive?

T-Roy Cooks: If I did a cannonball from a great height, I’d probably drain the pool and other divers wouldn’t be able to compete, so yes! Of course, I’d have to go first! I also do a really elegant back flip off of the diving board, but my pool is only 6 feet deep, so that isn’t something you’ll see me doing in my videos.

Thanks Troy. You’re awesome!

Check out T-Roy Cooks on YouTube some day. Good stuff!

 

YouTube PitMaster Interview: Rus Jones

The wood smoke curls in a good way today. We’ve got a little treat for you all, patron to the pit. And needless to say, we’re kind of excited for this. I guess if you’re not into BBQ or cooking out-of-doors, you won’t care an easterner’s hoot. But then if you’re not into those things, why are you even reading this. So you probably do care. At least a little. Anyways, we’ve been asked on occasion who some of our BBQ influences are. Who inspires us to do what we do because they do what they do. Well, there is a long list of pit jockeys we could tally here, lots of them, but for now we’ll stick with one good old boy from the coast of Mississippi. A chap we have much admiration and respect for. One Rus Jones of Smoky Ribs

For the Love of the Game

Over yonder in the enchanted land of YouTube, you will find many endeavors. And one of the great resources over there, where BBQ is concerned, are guys like Rus. Individuals with an outstanding passion for outdoor cooking. Pit Keepers who routinely aspire to great things in the BBQ arts, and further more, and maybe even better than that, they operate a YouTube channel to share their journey for free with anyone who may be interested. And that’s just plain cool. These guys are all in it for the love of the game. True patrons of the pit. Good old boys, of the salt-of-the-earth variety. Highly decent folk who just love to put meat to flame and tell people about it. The community of YouTube pit masters out there ranks pretty amazing, and they really do know their stuff. We’ve learned much from those guys.  Rus Jones is one of them.

We have been watching his Smoky Ribs videos for a long time now, and every time, the shows are at once inspiring, entertaining, and pretty much make you slobber out your jowls like the neighbor’s estranged bull dog. But that’s life where BBQ is concerned. You must deal with a certain amount of drool about your chin. Anyways, and to the point here, Rus Jones is one of the pit masters who have inspired us over the years, and we thought it would be fun to contact him and see if we could get to know him a little better. Perhaps hear some of his thoughts on BBQ. Well, turns out he had plenty, and was happy to give us his time. So what are we waiting for. Lets get after it, shall we…

The following is a little interview with Rus Jones. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Also, check out his website, http://www.smokyribs.com/

Or his YouTube channel here: Smoky Ribs BBQ & Southern Cuisine


Picking the brain of Rus Jones of Smoky Ribs

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PotP: Who are your BBQ influences? Why did you start a YouTube Channel? 

Smoky Ribs: Being raised here in the deep south, I was no stranger to real BBQ growing up. From roadside BBQ shacks ran by old black men, to more formal BBQ establishments in our area, I quickly developed a taste for good BBQ cooked over wood smoke and served with great sauces. The old black men really knew how to put out the best tasting BBQ you will ever eat, and they to this day have been my biggest influence on trying to perfect those delicious BBQ delights as they did. They are all gone now, but those memories will last the rest of my life and will live on in my attempts to preserve the art of BBQ. I was looking around YouTube one day in the summer of 2012 and stumbled across a cooking video, and that led me to finding many more and I was primarily searching for BBQ related channels, even though I have a huge passion for cooking in general. After watching a number of these videos, I instantly knew that I had found something that really anyone could do, and with the passion I have and always have had for cooking, I thought this was an excellent way to share my knowledge and ideas, so I went to reading just how to create a channel and the rest is history. I started this channel just for the love of cooking on July 8th 2012 . I was six months into the channel before I knew you could actually make money with YouTube. Even though I do have all of my videos monetized to help with cost, money was not the driving factor to starting my channel, and never will be, even though it is nice to get a monthly pay check that I can reinvest into my channel.

PotP: What is your favorite smoke wood?

Smoky Ribs: That really depends on what I’m smoking, but my top two for pork and beef is hickory and pecan, I also enjoy the pleasant taste that oak offers as well, and on fish I always use alder wood. On poultry I have used a variety of woods, but one of my favorites is pimento wood. I have probably used about all the different smoke woods you can get at one time or another just to see how it taste compared to other woods, such as orange, peach, apple, cherry, beech, etc.

PotP: Give one tip for aspiring pit masters

Smoky Ribs: I could probably write a book on tips, but showing how to videos as I do covers most of it. I don’t currently use and offset smoker, but I have in the past, and I plan on getting another one soon, primarily to offer videos on how to use them effectively. One bit of advice if a aspiring pit master is using a offset smoker is to first realize that the fuel consumption is much higher than any other cooker, and the tip I’m about to give, makes fuel consumption even worse, but helps tremendously in the overall flavor of the final result. A offset smoker requires a lot of attention while smoking meat because the wood does burn up rather fast, and every time you put a log into the firebox, the log will take time to catch up and burn properly, but during that time, it is putting off a lot of unwanted bellowing smoke which is going right into the meat chamber which can lead to off putting flavors. My tip is simply this: Have a separate fire pit near your smoker, and have a supply of hot ready to go coals and embers from burning logs, that when placed into the smoker fire chamber, it will just bring your heat back up to your desired range without adding anymore unwanted smoke. As I said, this will not help your fuel efficiency but will produce better tasting BBQ.

PotP: How often do you cook outside?

Smoky Ribs: At least twice a week, and sometimes more depending on my available time.

PotP: Favorite cut of meat to BBQ? Why?

Smoky Ribs: This is a hard one for me since I love so many different cuts from pork and beef, but as far as my favorite for BBQ in taste and texture, it would have to be beef chuck roast smoked and cooked down to tender shreds to make great BBQ beef sandwiches with. Chuck has a lot of beef flavor and works really well for traditional southern BBQ.

PotP: Do you have any outdoor cooking traditions?

Smoky Ribs: I wouldn’t really call it a tradition, but I do love sitting outside near the smoker especially in the colder months, just smelling the smoke in the air and getting a whiff of the meat cooking inside from time to time while sipping on a cold beer. That is the best “me” time there is!

PotP: What is your biggest BBQ blunder? What just didn’t work? When did Rus slap his head and go “whups!”

Smoky Ribs: As anyone knows who watches my Smoky Ribs videos, then they also know that I do other cooks and recipes other than BBQ. I once did a pizza video, and I made 3 pizzas for this particular video and while removing one of the pizzas from the pit, it slid off of the pizza peel, and turned upside down into the grass! That was a “whups” moment for sure. I was able to pull the video off without using that pizza, but I sure did hate seeing it go to waste!

PotP: Other than eating it, what is it about BBQ that excites you? Why do you keep pursuing it? What fuels your passion, Rus!

Smoky Ribs: I think it’s the other way around. My passion for BBQ & cooking is what fuels and drives me to keep doing it. It’s the pure love I have for it, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching other people eat what I prepare, and of course I also love sharing via video with all the viewers, and I get a lot of feedback from folks who have tried my recipes and feel compelled to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Those are always great to read!

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PotP: When you don’t feel like cooking, where do you go for BBQ?

Smoky Ribs: We never go out for BBQ anymore, because no one around here can do BBQ like I had growing up, and I would rather do it myself, but from time to time we will go out to eat, and it’s normally seafood which we have plenty of here on the Mississippi coast.

PotP: What is your pit-side beverage of choice?

Smoky Ribs: If I start a long low & slow cook in the early hours of the morning, then I start with coffee, but as the day progresses I will then start consuming cold beer as I’m outside with my smoker.

PotP: What is your choice activity whilst smoking a 16 hour pork butt?

Smoky Ribs: In between just sitting and relaxing while sipping on a cold beer, I will prepare any sides that I’m planning for the meal, but I normally don’t do that until the meat is getting close to finishing up, so basically I just relax, chill, and enjoy the day. I never start editing a video until everything is finished, and I normally start that the following day.

PotP: What’s next for Smoky Ribs?

Smoky Ribs: My plans are to start incorporating more outdoors into my videos including, fishing, camping, etc. but these videos will still revolve around a recipe & cooking.

 

 

In the Waning Light: When Steak and Potatoes Are More Than Enough

moonSuch is light’s brief serenade for the sun which has dipped below the roof tops now, at an hour profoundly prior from which the supper bell tolls. The cool wind rustles up the neighborhood streets and across the backyards freshly mulched and pampered and smelling of a sleepy earth. The old pond dapples in the moonlight as the mallards and stately drakes cavort in it’s still, liquid waters. All the leaves have all fallen now, once resplendent and grand, and the geese are in constant formation it seems, bugging out for the promised land, of…well, I don’t know where the geese go actually. Probably to you guys down in Florida, I suppose. Texas too.

It’s November in Minnesota. Outdoor life is shutting down. Most folk have wheeled their BBQ’s inside for the winter now. We Patrons of the Pit, however, and Comrades of the Coals, well, we stoically march onward still, trimming our collars to the tempest of night, and manning our pits in stalwart fashion, for to bandy some rather keen moments still, in the waning, pale moon light.

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On the pit tonight, probably the first head chiseled on to my personal Mount Rushmore of Things You Can Grill…Steak! A nice big one for me, and a slightly smaller one for the little lady. It always amazes me, as the resident grill jockey that I am, from all the umpteen dozens if not hundreds of recipes I’ve tried over the years, my favorite things to grill still are usually of the most simpleton in kind. For example, I enjoy a good steak, like this, lightly seasoned in just garlic and onion salt, as much as I enjoy, say, an elaborate, 12-hour, pecan smoked brisket flat, or even a rack of spare ribs perfectly executed to the nearest square inch. These things are quite lovely, and they are satisfying to do. But there’s also just something pleasantly perfect about a simple fare of meat and potatoes. About steak on the grill. And more over, there is a magic in grilling it there, amid a November night.

I flipped the steaks, tongs in hand, and listened to them sizzle on the hot cast iron grate. Orange flames licked up from below, searing the beef, as I pulled my patio chair up aside the old kettle grill. I sat there with the lid off watching the steaks cook, and enjoying the flicker of the flame and the radiant heat bellowing out of the Weber’s steely bosom.  It felt warm on my face, as I looked up and noted how the moonbeams dropped like angel kisses through the pit-side spruce trees. This was nice, I thought. Much better than most people think when they think of November grilling. I was not cold. Nor did the darkness matter. In point of fact, the darkness just seem to make the fire all the better. Something poignant and lovely to bandy by. And so by fire and by moonlight I sailed the culinary seas there, however briefly to the shores of edible succulence from whence I’ve longed. It didn’t take much effort either. Steaks are like that. And I already had the potatoes done in the kitchen, so… I plated up the spoils, turned heel as any man would, and sidled inside for the night.

After sliding the patio door shut, and locking it, I took another glance out at the grill, like pit keepers do. There it sat in the dark, quietly puffing away as if it didn’t have a care in the world. No, it didn’t mind doing its duty in November. In fact, it was just doing what it was born to do. And for a while at least, come to think of it, so was I. Amen.

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Meat and potatoes. Some days I tell you, people, it’s all you need. Well, and a piece of coconut cream pie for dessert wouldn’t hurt none either.

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Solo Stove Titan Giveaway: And The Winner is…

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Russell Cate of Indiana!

Congratulations, you are the winner of the Solo Stove Titan Giveaway. The Solo Stove Company will be contacting you shortly, and you guys can sort it out from there. Well done sir. Hope you have much fun with your new toy. It’s really a great little stove!

And Russell, if you’re so inclined, we have a cyber podium up front here for you to stand behind,  and give your victory speech in due haste.

A special thanks to the good folks at Solo Stove for sponsoring the giveaway, and an equal thanks to all the varied personalities and voices of the the readership who showed up to participate. With out you guys, this stuff just wouldn’t happen. It was fun. Maybe we’ll do another one of these somewhere down the line if you guys want it.

Anwyays, at ease…And grill on!

PotP

A Study in Flame: Solo Stove Titan Review and Giveaway!

*To the readership. This is a rare event on PotP. Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a free Solo Stove Titan in our first ever giveaway. All you need to do is leave a comment below, then go to this link, Titan Giveaway – Patrons of the Pit, and it will guide you from there. Another way you can enter the giveaway is to like our Facebook page, and again, just go through the link above, and it will direct you to Facebook from there. If you can’t do either of those, an Email address will enter you into the contest also.  Regardless, use the link if you want to participate in the giveaway. Think of the link as a conduit for getting things done. The widget needs the attention so it can keep track of who has entered the giveaway. Oh, and if you have previously liked our Facebook page, sorry, those likes do not count in this giveaway. Anyways, now let’s get on with this review already!

img_1281Not too long ago, last week in point of fact, I was backpacking through the hinter regions of northern Minnesota. Was on one of my usual haunts there, afoot with a pack on my back, enjoying some of the swiftly vanishing perks of wilderness travel. Solitude. Clean rushing rivers. Pure air in which to breathe, ushered on a breeze that which murmurs like poetry through the long-standing pines. It was October, and the tamarack along the way were turning golden there, kissed in an autumnal sunbeam. It was just plain lovely. So much so and in fact, it rather demanded a spot of tea.

Enter The Titan

solo_titan_nocookingring__69207-1445351399-95-95I had along a new piece of gear this hike, one sponsored to us by the kindly folks at Solo Stove. It’s a backpacking stove, good for car camping too, that runs completely off wood, or what ever other forest debris, or bio fuel, you might find laying about. It’s pretty slick. And I don’t think I have ever had a more poetic, scientifically satisfying, trail-side cup of tea in my life, than I had with this ingeniously designed cooker. The Solo Stove Titan. The glory is in the flame. So grab yourself a cup of tea likewise, and let’s disect this thing, shall we.

Natural Convection Inverted Down Gas Gasifer

What???

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solo_titan_top__35990-1445351431-95-95Here’s how it works. You build your fire on the nichrome wire grate down in the stove. Air comes in through the holes at the bottom of the stove, feeding oxygen to the fire there. With me so far? Simple enough. Here is where it gets interesting tho. The stove is double walled, and so warm air also travels upwards, heating up as it goes, between in the inner wall and the outer one. Once it reaches the top of the stove, it is expelled through another set of slightly smaller holes there. The oxygen coming out these holes, as mentioned, has been preheated in its ascent, and when it dumps back into the firebox, a literal secondary combustion occurs. And that, my friends, is the magic of the Solo Stove.

So What Does It Mean?

What it means is efficiency. This additional act of combustion assists the fire in burning more complete, they say. In point of fact, when the fire is going at full tilt, there is very little smoke produced at all, because it is so efficient. In theory, the stove will cook the smoke right out of the wood. Least wise that’s what the flame wizards at Solo Stove say. The efficient burn also means you will use less wood to cook with, when compared to cooking over an open camp fire. Not only that, when the fuel burns out, there is nothing but a fine, powdery ash remaining. No glowing embers to deal with, courtesy of that efficient burn. Needless to say, I was intrigued. So let’s get after that cup of tea, shall we.

img_1275It comes with a nicely crafted pot support, that nests inside the stove for travel. Anyways, I had a fire quickly kindled in its steel bosom, and set my old, blackened kettle on to boil. Enough for two cups of tea, I should wager. I sat back and watched the river gurgle by and admired this piece of cooking technology before me. Occasionally I fed it a small twig or stick to keep it happy. As the fire established, I must say, I was smitten by the results.

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It didn’t take the fire long at all to stabilize, and the initial plumes of smoke on start-up, to dissolve into distant memories. There is an opening on the pot support, or cooking ring, as you can see, in which to further feed the fire as needed. We had to do a little of that. I’d wager the amount of wood used for two cups of water was something like two large handful’s of sticks broken into finger length pieces. Thicker hardwoods, of course, burn better and longer than the soft balsam fir sticks that I used, but I had about one million square acres of forest and wood to play with, so it didn’t really matter. That’s another joy of a wood burning backpacking stove, I discovered. You will never run out of fuel. Leastwise in the north woods of Minnesota, you sure won’t.

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After a fashion, I also noticed the secondary combustion thing kicking in. It actually worked! Of course I failed to capture it in a photo for you, but if you were to peer down into the fire chamber a little more, you would see the fire seemingly coming out of that higher set of holes that we talked about earlier. Indeed, the main fire down on the grate was blazing away, but it was also shooting out of the holes up near the top. And the smoke was curiously absent, just like they said. I gotta say, I was impressed. Even my wife, who is not often impressed by scientific stuff, was suitably awed. We were sipping tea in no time, enjoying the warmth of a hot mug in our hands, and further admiring this little stove .

Later on in camp, we fired it up again.

SAMSUNG CSC

The inner pyromaniac in me couldn’t get enough play time with this stove. I discovered its engineering went other ways too. Subtle ways. For example, I discovered that even when the stove is fiercely hot, that I could still move it around if I had to by gripping it below the lowest set of holes. It wasn’t exactly cool down there, but not hot enough either that you couldn’t hang onto it for a while if you had to move it for some reason. The reason that impressed us was because if it’s not hot down there, then that means you could set it on a picnic table, perhaps, and not have to worry about burning a nice 5.1 inch circle into your table top. Always a nice thing.

Here are some specs on the Solo Stove Titan, if you’re curious

Specs for the Sole Stove Titan

Packed size: Height 5.6 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Assembled size: Height 7.9 inches, Width 5.1 inches
Weight: 16.5 oz
Materials: 304 stainless steel, nichrome wire
Fuel: sticks, twigs, pine cones and other biomass
Boil time: 4-6 mins (32 fl oz of water)
To read more on the Solo Stove Titan, do check out their website at:

Bonus Thoughts

It’s a lovely piece of kit. Just holding it in your hand, you’ll notice the quality and the craftsmanship are very nice. No moving parts, simple, and robust. The thing is built to last, and more over, do what it was designed to do. Burn wood. As old bush master, Horace Kephart once said, “A sourdough is known by the fitness and simplicity of his equipment“. Well, we think the solo stove passes the grade in that respect. It’s also rather nice to romp through the woodlands on a multi-day trip afield, and know that you can’t run out of fuel for your stove. That if you should get stuck out in the hinter lands for a few extra days, that at least you will have a way to boil water for as long as you need to. Say what you will, but there is a certain comfort in that.
But I hate camping! Roughing it to me is when my furnace dips below 70 degrees!“, some of you might croak. Well first of all, you’re kind of a wimp then, but even so, we still love you, and such a stove in your supplies could still prove useful someday. It is always well to be prepared, say, for power outages, off-grid work, natural disasters, or the inevitable zombie invasion. You never know. As long as you can find yourself a small pile of sticks, and you possess the primitive “know-how” to light a fire, well, then you can cook on this stove. I suppose you could even light up a few charcoal briquettes, if you had to, toss them into the stove, and manage to cook over it. The beauty tho is burning things you have lying around. We highly recommend starting with the political section.
What are the short comings of the stove?
Well, the biggest one is probably soot. Your cooking pot will no doubt get caked in the stuff after a couple of cooks. But this is how it is, and how it always has been when you cook over real fire. Your stuff gets sooty. It just does. If you can’t accept that, then I guess cooking over fire just isn’t for you. You can try the old bush trick of wiping your pots down in soap before each cook, if you want. That’s supposed to help. But I find it’s much simpler to just dedicate an old sack or bag for your cook pot, thus containing the soot at least to its own little quarantine of funk when in travel mode. The technique works fine, and of course, it’s simple. We adore simple.
We also found the Titan to be a little large for the backpacking we like to do. Now mind you, this isn’t the stove’s fault. It was designed to be able to cook for 2 to 4 people, and not necessarily be the size of the petite solo gas stoves I normally pack. But I wanted to try it backpacking anyhow, you know how it goes. Considering the savings in fuel bulk and weight, well, it sort of makes the size of the stove acceptable. If you’re a car camper, or a canoe camper or something along those lines, then the size of the Titan is of no issue at all. Off-hand, Solo Stove solved this problem anyways, as they have other sizes of stoves in their line up. The Solo Stove Lite, for example, is a good deal smaller than the Titan, and is designed with the backpacker in mind. Judging from how much fun I’ve been having with the Titan, I might have to put the smaller Solo Stove on my Christmas list.
The last knock we could give it is it’s kind of pricey at $90.00. Boy there are cheaper ways to fry your bacon. But again, from what we can tell of it, it looks like something that will last a long time. And best of all,  when you consider you’ll never need to buy fuel for the stove, like ever, well, then it’s only a matter of time before the Titan should pay for itself. And in the long run, be cheaper to operate than cheaper gas camping stoves which must always be refilled. The more you use it, the more affordable it gets! (Price doesn’t matter anyways if you win our free giveaway!)
Final Thoughts
Anyways, and in closing, we really enjoyed field testing this one. Not exactly a BBQ thing, but if you’ve been in our readership for long, you’ll know we do tend to take to the hither lands with some frequency, and further more, love to cook there. It all falls under the flag of outdoor cooking, a particular joy of which resides at the heart of this blog. So we were excited to do this review. Privileged in fact.  Anyways, if you’re in the market for a new camping stove, you may want to consider this wood burning alternative. Just come up with a system to deal with the soot and you’re good to go!
A kindly thanks also to the good people at Solo Stove for setting us up. Great folks. Wonderful gear. And lots of clever ideas circulating around over there. Do check them out some time if you’re into this sort of thing.

Solo Stove Titan Giveaway!

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And finally, the part you’ve been waiting for. As mentioned, Solo Stove has offered to do a giveaway for one lucky subscriber of Patrons of the Pit. We’ve never done a giveaway before, but you guys deserve it, and well, it might be fun. As mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are three ways to enter.

Three Ways to Enter!

1. Leave us a comment below, then click on the Titan Giveaway link to finish the formalities.
Or
2. Click on the Titan Giveaway link and like our Facebook page from there.
Or
3.Click on the Titan Giveaway link and enter an Email address
Think of the link as a conduit to make things happen. The Giveaway lasts for 14 days from the time this post goes live. Then a program called Gleam will randomly select the winner, and Solo Stove themselves will ship the stove to your doorstep. Now you can’t beat that! And it really is an amazing little stove. You will like it! Good luck, people!!
 Blessings,
-PotP