Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Posts tagged “flame

It’s the Simple Things In Life…

Sometimes life should stay simple. Though us Patrons enjoy working hard at making culinary masterpieces over a flame, we don’t always have the time to do so. Surprised you might be to the fact that we also work full-time jobs. Though we may post many things on here throughout the week, it’s not because we stay at home grilling and smoking meats all day, tho there are days where we wish we could do so. Days when the flirtatious considerations of leaving the trustworthy 9 to 5 and becoming a full-time food artist dance across the brainwaves of our minds. We sit back in our desk chair, stomachs groaning, while the pondering issues related to our work trade gather in the background. We exhale a sigh, because all we want to do is fill a coal chimney, stuff it with newspaper and light it with a flame. Then of course, reality strikes, and we can’t. We eat a granola bar to cater to grumbles of the stomach and press on until the whistle blows. During the winter when the sunlight is less than your blessed summer nights; we like most of you out there need to keep meals simple. A brat, corn and baked beans are one of the most intelligible meals you can get. So simple that the only spice I used was cracked pepper over the beans. It may be simple, but it hits the spot…always. In closing, cheers to those who work real jobs, a full eight-hour shift that allows little glimpse of sunlight. To those who need to think of something fast, remember there is always hot dogs, brats, corn and peppered baked beans. Grill On – POTP

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It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.  – Laura Ingalls Wilder 

 


How to NOT smoke a Brisket! Battling the Beast.

20130126_181826Before I go on to explain the “beast”, I will hang my head low and admit that the one I was wrestling with was only 3 pounds. It was my humble first smoke of that cut of meat and I walk away with more knowledge on smoking a brisket. I don’t know what go into me. My father-in-law was heading over for dinner and I wanted to impress him, as all son-in-laws do. You see, I know I can cook a good rack of ribs with sweet and tangy sauce dripping from your chin and elbows while working your way to the bone. I’m confident that my smoked chicken will flake apart at the press of a fork and my burgers come out oozing with a savory smoky flavor. I know that on Saturday I was not confident in smoking a brisket and I probably pulled out all the rookie moves. So, I’m writing this to share with you what not to do if like me, you are a rookie at the brisket.

My first mistake… When I was at the local hardware store a few months ago I needed to stock up on my coal supply. It was around the same time I installed the offset firebox on my smoker. Being it was around the Christmas season I was holding tight on my wallet privileges and so I decided to go with Lump Coal instead of my usual brand Kingsford. I have nothing against Lump coal, but I know that I can get my Kingsford coals to heat up and hit a steady temperature for a good 3 hours in the winter. As I filled my firebox with lump coal, it quickly heated up my smoker. It hit the trusty worthy temperature of 250 degrees and kept going. So I adjust my vents accordingly to bring down the temp. Again it hit 250 and kept going down. So, I repeated the process until I was able to zero on where I needed it. One thing I also noticed with the lump coal was that the slightest breeze, I’m talking a sneeze from one of my annoying hibernating pocket gophers would cause the smoker to raise a good 20 degree and then back down 20 and then teeter off in the middle somewhere. I almost didn’t need the wireless thermometer. I was outside enough to look at the gauge itself.

My second mistake…Never take two different theories on how to smoke a successful brisket and put them together (unless you really know what you are doing). I started off with throwing the brisket on the grate and leaving it there. My brisket was going just fine and then I had to open up my BBQ bible by Steven Raichlen. I read an excerpt from Steven’s book that tells me to wrap the brisket in tin foil a good 3/4 th of the way through, and so i did. As much as I respect Steven Raichlen’s knowledge of the grill and his years of cooking over a flame, I also have learned that some of his techniques are not always the only way. He has tv shows and books, but there are other ways of doing it. Wrapping your brisket in tinfoil wasn’t the rookie move. No, the rookie move was the I changed up my method right in the middle of a smoke. If something is going fine, leave it.

One my goals for the process was seeing bark on the brisket. However, I was informed later that my absence of bark was because I had wrapped the brisket in tinfoil. By wrapping it in foil, I allowed too much moisture to collect and therefore, no bark. I know, a rookie mistake I have made. I shouldn’t change methods in mid-cook and I humbly lay my head low because of it.

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Pulled Chicken, Hickory Smoked Brisket and Salad

In the end, my result was a fully cooked brisket. I achieved the tenderness I wanted. In fact, it was so tender you could cut it with a fork which I believe is the goal from what I hear. The smoky flavor had a great impact with every bite taken. I was complimented greatly from my father-in-law, little did he know of the rookie mistakes I made.

I think I’ll wait until I enter the ring with another brisket. I will then throw it on and leave it. No foil, just intense smoke and a solid 250 degrees.

I don’t like looking back. I’m always constantly looking forward. I’m not the one to sort of sit and cry over spilt milk. I’m too busy looking for the next cow. ~ Gordon Ramsay


How To Win Over A Man: Steak!

We are men. And we are moved by meat. Don’t ask us why. We don’t know. Difficult perhaps to articulate, but easy to appreciate, whence our incisors have pierced the hallowed surface of that perfectly seared steak. Ah yes, steak. A good one will settle a restless man’s soul,  and in turn draw him closer to thee, and unto his meatiest ideal. Hark, the world and it’s cares fairly ebb to a faint hush, and the pendulum of the sun at once holds stalwart in the sky, when at last we lay big meat to flame, and simply cook it there amid the rising smoke. Oh how we favor a good steak, abiding in it’s juices, sizzling quietly over a beautiful bed of coals. It moves us.

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It was one of those vintage winter afternoons, under skies of sleet and falling snow, where the call of the grill was at it’s most primal. It’s most basic, I should wager. Nothing fancy today, as fancy would only ruin it. Nay, when bridled in the heady thralls of meat lust, let there just be meat on flame, and let hunger be our spice. The rest will sort itself out, by and by. For today, as in days past, we are smitten for the rib eye. The bone-in succulent sort known to send grown men into slobbering fits of idiocy. Plunk one of these down on a man’s plate, and plop a potato along side it, and he is at once and for all the world, a contented species. Gobbling quietly by himself, with no apparent no need for conversation. Like a pacifier to a new born, for a time anyways,  he will require little else. Indeed, for a few fleeting minutes, and maybe even more than that, all the world is right. For let it be said, nothing is quite so efficient at setting a man straight, than grilled meat on the bone,  and a fashionable side of potatoes.

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So next time your looking for something simple off the grill, or have a restless man on your hands, well, ain’t too many things better suited for both, than a perfectly grilled Rib Eye, and the space in time to devour it.


Chocolate?? Are you NUTS?

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Dunking your brand new white mop into a fresh batch of homemade sauce goes against everything mother had taught you. OK all rules ascend out the window when you begin to baste a half-done smoky rack of ribs. The aromatic mix of spice, vinegar, and smoke waft into the air, and you can’t help but to apply more.

I’d like to share a recipe I found online and tweaked a little for my taste. It’s a Chocolate Infused BBQ Sauce. I know what you’re thinking, “What is he thinking?” Chocolate and BBQ? Chocolate and Smoke? Don’t get me wrong, it sounds weird, but tastes very good. Here’s how it’s done!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – See Note Below
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped – See Note Below

Preparation

  1. Combine ketchup and next 9 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. Reduce heat; simmer 8 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; add chocolate, stirring until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.

I decided to make a few notes for the interested reader.

  • If you’re going to use Chocolate, go big! OK, I didn’t look too hard at the grocery store. I went with what cost more than Hershey’s or Nestle. I decided to go with Guittard’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. I felt the flavor stood out more when I have baked with them in the past.img_7972
  • Also, when a recipe calls for freshly ground pepper, then ground your pepper freshly! I have a mortar and pestle. I love going with a rainbow mix of Peppercorn.
  • For those of you who have ever tasted chili infused chocolate, go ahead and throw in some chili powder to taste. The sweet of the chocolate and brown sugar really compliment the kick of pepper and chili powder.300-111-3605
  • Lastly, I usually begin basting the meat with the sauce as soon as I throw smoke on the coals. The smoke flavor really sticks to anything that is wet on the cut of meat. So if you want that hickory flavor to stand out, start basting right away. All opinion of course!IMG_20121118_164651

Politics and Charcoal

afterfocus_1354050574485There are many ways to light your fire, to kindle your coals. You can douse them in lighter fluid, or use an electric starter, or favor them with the business end of a blow torch; or I suppose, all of the above at once, provided you have sufficient medical coverage. Our favorite tho, by and by, has to be the humble charcoal chimney. Clever little things, obviously spawned from the brain pan of an efficient thinker. All it takes is three pages of your local newspaper crumpled into as many balls, some charcoal, and a single match.

To the uninitiated,  it would be presumed it doesn’t matter what sort of paper to burn. Well, it doesn’t really, but let it be said, the joy is rather abiding, if not dubious, watching the political section go up in flames. It feels good, and I ever so do recommend it. As does the junk mail you never asked for anyways. Oh yes, you can use any matter of scrap or paper you’d like to light your charcoal chimney, but it is not nearly as much fun, nor therapeutic,  as those unruly prints you so despise. Burn accordingly.

Thus, pack the bottom of the chimney with your chosen burnables, and dump in your coals. Then what pleasure it is to lay a flame to wpid-afterfocus_1353993472536.jpgpaper, and watch the heavy gray smoke curl into the sky. Such moments are never with out giddiness, for that thick smoke rising, it signals to yourself, and who ever is looking, that yet another outdoor cook is officially in session. Like hoisting a self-dissipating flag of BBQ, aptly woven in soft tendrils of smoke; and the neighbors all take note. And so do you. Another masterpiece in grilling excellence, or, barring that, another fall of man’s glorious ideal, tween the grates, and into the flame. Reduced to charred rubble and inedible tatter.  Regardless, when your chimney is a’blaze, it is your time now, to relish. Like the engines revving at Indy,  or the national anthem praised through a stadium; the games are about to begin, and our spirits climb, every time we go out to the pit and light the coals there.


Meat Poetry: Scattered in the Wind

As for my ashes, let them sooner scatter in the breeze, across the lawn from whence yonder smokes I have done,Image01262012163356 and over thy neighbor’s marigolds, and who’s yapping dog they do belong.

Many a pit well-used tends to produces a commendable quantity of ash,  mountains to rival a miniature Matterhorn, in due respect. And should the winds press stiffly upon thy ash pan, surely a face full of it you will have.  Ever changing. Ever eroding piles of the past. Ash. It is common deed among those not yet bonded with their pits to frown upon the ashes there. To scorn it, and moan it’s very name in vain. It is ugly they presume, and simply a chore amid the process of BBQ they must endure. Forgive them. For we were all green yet in these ways, before our pits were seasoned, and our hearts re-written, to the simple pleasures of grilling.

Indeed as our pits and cookers season, smoke after smoke, so do we. We change in part, along with the fires kindled, and our joys thus ascend with the curling smoke, and in time, even the mounting ashes left below.  For these ashes, dry and gray, are really a monument to our grilling past. The higher they lean, the better for it we are. Proof positive that we have been out there, doing that which is well with our souls. And that is no small thing.

Ashen trophies; a dish to be held high, and wagered of great esteem. Thus sport it proudly and with great affection, for it is a pit master’s receipt if you will, this pile of ashes which scatter in the wind. And blessed is the man of whom’s ash pan over flows in this way. Amen.


To Grill or Not To Grill…

To grill or not to grill..Really, there is no question!

To grill or not to grill..Really, there is no question!

Waking up to a blizzard is always a pleasant thing. This is especially so when it happens on a Sunday, your hallowed day off, and the snows have fallen as such to bring the roadways asunder, and the day, for better or for worse, to a very slow ebb. The sort of day where all the smart people of the world like to hunker down. A day of enforced leisure, and carefully calculated R&R. And whilst the weather rages, and your neighbors all moan their names in vain, you are at once in your glory, forced to slow life down to it’s basics, and watch the drifts slowly mount outside your frosted window. These are the sorts of days tailor made for pit masters, and the inherent leisure patron to the craft.  Such was the case here in the upper mid-west today. And while some pull the cords on their snow blowers, and others curl by their fireplaces, we Patrons of the Pit have other things in mind. No finer time, than these days of flying snow, to light the BBQ, and put some meat to flame.

There is no such thing as the off-season for an avid keeper of the grill. To do so would mean to throw in your white towel, and the notion of that chews about as well as half-cooked brisket. Brethren of the Flame are a hardy lot, and foul weather, blizzards not with-standing, shall keep us from our intended spoils. Thus, on the menu today, hickory grilled pork chops with a sweet, home-made marinade.

Before lighting the grill:                                                     

Mix together this tasty marinade:

3 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup soy sauce

3 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons garlic salt

1 teaspoon cracked pepper

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Marinate the pork chops for a couple hours

After marinating your pork chops, and putting them on the grill over indirect heat, and after adding a chunk of smoke wood of your choice to the coals, then be sure to put the lid on so as to thwart the inclement of weather which brews about thee. Then proceed to take up residence some place cozy with a view of the pit, with a lovely beverage in hand, and enjoy thus how the smoke curls from your vent, and how a thousand and one falling snow flakes vanish with aplomb, as they gently kiss your grill. Raise your flag of leisure now, and stand against the forces of haste. Return to grill on occasion to tend your meat, applying your skills as needed. Put on some Christmas music to complete the ambiance, and tarry quietly in the wake of deeds well done. For it is our belief, or at least our sincere hope, that time spent grilling is not deducted from our allotted lifespans. Which explains I suppose, why it is we tend to BBQ in blizzards.

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Hickory Grilled Pork Chops in a Sweet Marinade. Man!


The Flame

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Getting prepared for the rib rack smoke! The coal chimney is an essential tool for smoking. It evenly heats up the coals and does it with crunched up newspaper. No lighter fluid ever needed. Other than the coal, it’s a tool that separates those who use charcoal grills and gas grills. The argument is, gas grills are faster. That may be, but it lacks in the flavor grilling is known for…Smoke. Then again, why grill if you’re in a hurry. Enjoy your time outdoors. Light your pipe, sip your Iced Tea, snooze in your hammock. In reality, charcoal may add about 15 min to your grilling session. Use that time to prep your cut of meat. Once you get used to that flavor, it’s hard to cook without it! If you’re in a hurry, microwave leftovers. – POTP