Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Posts tagged “Grill

Long Summer Days: Roasted Red Potatoes and Grilled Green Beans

What can be said, really, if for the shafts of warm light that which still fell from above. We’ll take it. And the quietude only pierced by thegreenbean 4 sound of my paddle blades dipping rhythmically into the still, glassy waters, stained amber from a waning sun. We’ll take that too. And I suppose also, the charming banter of barn owls, perched up their oaken stays; glory be but what a hoot-fest at hand, echoing through the musty, forest glade, and the tender places deep in my soul. Indeed, what can be said, but thank you, and we’ll take it. For it was one of those vintage, long summer days you see, that which the likes of you wish would never cease. With memories of winters past, so cold and so stiff, I guess a bloke knows when he’s onto something good. Something exquisite, with a gently arcing sun. And long may it tarry there, we pray, hovering over the western shore, sizzling, the illumination of a daily bookend, for those of us lucky enough to linger in but one of its golden rays. Indeed, we’ll take it if you please.

We’ll take it because we keepers of the pit notice these things. We spy yonder the tweety birds acting differently. Formations of geese overhead, as if in a dress rehearsal for the banquet that is fall. The subtle turn of a Cottonwood leaf. The tell-tale nip in the morning air. And of course, the swifter days, ebbing into longer nights. And whilst it still feels like summer, and looks like summer, we know in the back of our minds that these days are numbered. Thus, the DNA reflex to seize them now, vigorously whilst we can, in this, life’s heady game of memories, and the acquisitions there of.

On the pit tonight, a little a salute then, to summer’s good tidings – roasted red potatoes, and green beans harvested from the pit-side garden. And yes a little steak tossed in there too for to please the men folk. Cause steak is good and we mustn’t fight these things!

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 Red potatoes over direct heat

First on the pit, the red potatoes. We love roasting these little starchy spheres on the kettle grill. It works so good, every time. No foil needed. They were sufficiently cleaned I should wager, leastwise good enough for this pit boy, and then pointedly rolled about in a smattering of olive oil. This to act as an adhering agent if you will, for the seasoning. We used some more of that Grill Happy Seasoning we’ve been using lately. You can read more about that in our previous post if you wish, or just click here. Anyhow, the spuds were placed over direct heat the entire cook. Flipping once or twice at your discretion. About twenty minutes, or until soft. They’re real easy to do too. The end product of yum should be crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Like many of us.

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 Foiled green beans on the grill

Next we tossed on some green beans plucked fresh from the garden’s green bosom, which were wrapped up in some foil along with a dollop or two of butter, and a splash of olive oil, and some home-grown scallions, just because we can. Salt and pepper to taste. These can be placed over medium or indirect heat for 15 minutes or so. Flipping once at your pit master instinct. Of which we did not soon after plopping on a hunk of cow, the cut of which I couldn’t rightly tell you. It was one of those pleasant finds I had discovered rummaging through the freezer, a left over that I had tucked away there from a previous cook out. I believe it was some form of sirloin or the like. But the truth is it doesn’t even matter, I guess. We are men you see. And we eat meat. It doesn’t matter if it has a proper name or not for to make the acquaintanceship of our bellies!

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A rather swift cooking meal, this shouldn’t take more than a half hour if your fire is good and hot. Long about the half hour mark, the steak was done, nay, everything was done, and we pulled the beans off and took a peak inside. Steam bellowed from the sparkling folds of foil to the green harvest residing within. Very nice. Nothing is quite so delightful to the soul, it seems, than feasting on what you have grown. I suspect it is how we were always designed to live. Closer to the garden than a card board box. So plant what is wise, logic suggests. Not just in the garden, but in the very soils of our life. Plant what is good and right and decent in this world, the things worth growing, and watch then how the sunbeams fall over the fields of green, shadows cast, and rainbows stick to the sky, in these, the long days of summer, by and by. Amen.

green bean 3Grilled steak, roasted red potatoes lightly seasoned, and hot, buttery green beans, fresh from garden to grill, and all patron to the pit. So next time you’re looking for something tasty on the BBQ, swing by the garden first and see what’s growing there.

 


Of Fish and Men: A Little Surf and Turf

There are some days in the human condition when a man proper needs to catch his own protein. A time required when he simply, and to an end,  needs to fish. To stalk environs still wild, andIMG_46911 pluck from them that which lurks and swims in the murky underwaters. To hoist thy plunder proudly into the air, dripping there, sunbeams glinting of scaly flanks of slime, and declare that dinner is henceforth secured from this barren and trying land. And somewhere deep down, just past that soulish area where it ought to, it feels good. Indeed, it feels right. Such was the case recently, whilst afloat a lovely Wisconsin fishery that shall go nameless here, naturally, to throw off any would-be angling gumshoes, that my elder brother and I came into the good fortune of tight lines and nicely hooping rods. Pulling in assorted pan fish and frisky crappies, which when escorted by hook and line, floundered over the water’s surface with an acoustic DNA like that of the final slurps of a draining laundry tub. And we drained a few tubs indeed. We were men you see. Fishing men!

Speaking of, when we first fired up this blog, almost two years ago now, one of the first genuine interactions we made in the vastness of the blogosphere, was with another fisherman, one by the name of TJ Stallings.  A kindred soul. A man who has made his living for decades, in the business of fishing. A feat any bloke who has ever wetted a line and declared it good,  has just got to admire. And I do. If you fish much, you’ve probably heard of his company,  Road Runner by Blakemore. And to this day, I enjoy perusing through his blog,  to learn new things, and see what old TJ has been up to concerning fish craft. It’s a good resource, and if you’re into angling at all, as we are, you may wish to check it out some time at TJ STallings Fishing Blog.

Anyways, TJ must have grown a liking for the weekly drool which accumulated on his keyboard after reading our BBQ posts, and one day sent us a box of tackle, just because. That’s just how TJ is I guess. I thanked him accordingly, but it never felt like enough. So, TJ, this is another, albeit humble attempt of ours, thanking you for your kindness, and your generosity. And for just being plain cool. This is our fish dinner, you see, and it’s in your honor. This one is for you! Here then is how it went, and came to be.

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So back at the lake, I tied on one of these 1/8th oz jig spinners, Reality Shad by Road Runner, and that was all it took. The games were on, you might say, and the fish were agreeable on Wisconsin waters. Rod tips pulsing towards China, blue gills and crappie on the run, 6 pound test line as tight as guitar strings, slicing through a quiet lake, whilst the summer breezes gently murmured through an oaken shoreline. Say what you will, but this is living!

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And before I knew it, I had stringer well enough along for a decent supper. TJ would have caught them bigger, I know, but golly, I think I had just as much fun. So we loaded the boat, saddled up in the truck, and made our way homeward, over the border, and through the spanning countryside, winding roadways, and one well-placed Dairy Queen stop, all the while conjuring the glorious meal yet to come.

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At POTP Head Quarters, first on the pit, and being the proper order of things, were the tin foil potatoes. They take about twenty minutes or so, over direct heat, flipping once for good measure. We like to season them with a dash of salt and pepper of course, and a few pats of butter to keep things sporty. We also tossed some frozen peas in there too, cause I heard once potatoes are not a real vegetable. What ever.

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Meanwhile, and after the fish had been filleted out, they were dunked in a milk/egg mixture, and then shook about in a semi rhythmic fashion amid a plastic bag containing flour, salt, and pepper, until each morsel of fish meat was suitably dusted over.

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Tossing some peach wood onto the coals, we preheated the griddle accessory of our craycort grate, added a little vegetable oil, and man oh man, what sweet pleasures then ensued when that cold fish hit the hot iron. The aroma and the sizzle, wafting into a beautiful, summer’s sky, whilst the tweety birds and men did rejoice. Man! And yes, that is a steak you see there towards the back of the pit, lightly seasoned in onion and garlic, and grilled to perfection. What can I say, I should have kept more fish! So surf and turf, of course,  was the only viable course of action here. One of which I was prepared to endure. Oh yes. A pit keeper proper does what he must!

The fish cooked very fast, like most fish do. Just a few minutes per side, until they flaked easily with a fork. And tho the cook was fairly swift, the day was still delightfully long and tapering. A morning on a tranquil, Wisconsin lake, plying our craft of rod and reel. Then a drive through the rolling countryside, windows down, bass boat in tow – our shadows flickering through picket fences in the pastels of a long, evening light.  And rounded off with a quiet spot of grilling at day’s end, at ease in the patio man chair, and an ice-cold beverage in hand. There are far worse ways to spend a day, people. I leaned back, tipped up the brim of my hat, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, and further mused over the day at hand. How the sunlight dappled through the fluttering cottonwood leaves, and the clouds yonder, drift lazy but with purpose over head, where the wood smoke so gently rises. That too, and memories of fish and of men, for be it also the essence this day, impressed gently on the emulsion of the soul.

I am content, and highly blessed.  And well fed. Amen.

Thanks again, TJ. Blessings!

-PotP

 

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Grilled tin foil potatoes, juicy steak seared and brought to medium, and a pile of freshly procured fish, fried over a peach wood fire, and all, every ounce of it,  patron to the pit. Man! Are you hungry yet!


And Then There Was Spring: Grilled Beef Tacos

We shall then henceforth, and without any acute delay, boldly sally and declare that spring, with all of its heady promises, has now descended upon our fair landIMG_15721 that which is Minnesota. The snow is at last, and mercifully gone, and replaced now with fields of green. Say what you will, but this is no small thing, people. Lest you forget the winter of 2013/2014 that is. For the icy pangs of  it still sharply laden our frontal lobes, and we still remember vividly how eternal it spread. You southern folks may have whacked your lawns eleven and one times already, and daily fire up your air conditioning units for to thwart the beads of nasty sweat which dribble down your collective foreheads. But it is not like that here. Not yet. The air is still cool, and sweet to the taste.  We have yet to slap the first mosquito or pull the first weed. And the leaves and the grass and the other green things of the world, tho still in stark miniature, are no less hard at work, so much so, that you can almost hear them fiercely growing, in the silence of a sunbeam.

Spring, we do adore this time of year. Naturally one of the better things you can do in spring, is to BBQ. May is National Grilling Month after all. And to a Minnesotan, it would stand to reason that May is the very best month of the year. It’s just plain beautiful here. So on the pit today, we’re doing your basic taco really. Nothing too fancy. And I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, well why the heck doesn’t he just make his tacos on the kitchen stove then, like everybody else? The answer: I don’t want to! Let me explain.

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As I repair here on the pit-side patio, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, enjoying the aromas of sizzling beef in a black iron pan, I try to reminisce how long it has been, by and far, that I could actually do such a thing like this: to tarry on the patio, watching supper cook, and not, when it is said and done, require medical attention for frostbite or mild hypothermia. To loiter aside the curling wood smoke in but a light flannel jacket, and muse over the green blades of grass yonder. It has been a while indeed. Too long, in point of fact. Counting backwards – April, March, February, January, December, November… Go ahead and count it. It’s six months people. Give or take the rare and freakish anomaly of a randomly placed warm day, it has been a half a year since it has been truly comfortable at the grill front. That kind of ain’t right. And this is why we patrons of the pit shall not any time soon, tend to our tacos over a thermostatically spoiled kitchen range. No no no!

After the ground beef is almost but not quite browned, we tossed onto the coals a handful of oak chips for an additional layer in the flavor profile. Oak wood is fantastic for red meat, lending a firm but friendly, mildly nutty, sort of smokey goodness to your end game. It’s very good. Anyways, we mixed in the taco seasoning with the beef, and pulled the black iron pan over indirect heat, put the lid on the pit, and let the meat smoke there for a while. Now is the time to assume your customary BBQ posture, as per the graces this kind of high leisure affords. Lovely beverage in hand, man chair under butt, and a quiet world of gently curling smoke in front of thee. This, a pit keeper comes to know, is all we need. We’re in no hurry folks. And good grilling should never be flanked by wretched tentacles of haste. Anyways, pull the lid and stir the taco meat very occasionally,  this in order to circulate more beef into the path of wafting oak smoke. The smoke, after all, is what will set these tacos apart from any you’ve ever had.

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Whence the meat has browned sufficient to your standards, and the smokey goodness has infused your carefully prepared meat booty,  go forth and assemble thy taco as you will, with what you will. Rice, beans, peppers, cheese, tomatoes, onions, sour cream – what ever moves thee another step closer to your culinary ideal. We’re not done yet tho, nay, so hold on to your inner Mexican just a bit longer. Swaddled in a flour tortilla shell, place your spoils back on the pit, indirect, for the final step towards taco immortality. We’re looking to crisp up the shell a trifle here, and put on a few char marks, patron to the pit. This move will at once signature your taco, branding it if you will, a product of the smokey realm. And you will know it from the sound of your incisors piercing its soft, yet crispy shell, and by the flavorful, smoke-tinted spoils within.

Happy Grilling Month of May. Fire them up proudly, people, and tarry long where the wood smoke also rises. Amen.

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Oak Smoked Grilled Beef Tacos. Man! Edible proof that what is good for the stove top is even better on the grill. Not to mention a whole lot more fun.

And yes, a bite was taken out of this photo op, for quality control reasons. You know how it goes.

 

-Potp

 


Fish Hungry: Blackened Mahi-mahi

It was a pleasant morning as morning’s go. To be adrift out on a local waterway. Sunbeams glittering over the surface. Egrets and Blue Herons milling in the shallows. And a IMG_25501light-green, haze, signifying a budding spring, adorning every bush and every tree. The symphonic serenade of a thousand and one bird songs, mingle with that of dipping paddles, peeling fly line, flipping bails, and 1/32 ounce jigs clad in soft plastics, plopping in the drink. I drifted slowly along the wooded shoreline, resolutely plying the waters there, fishing rod in hand, with a clear, albeit idealistic mission – to catch a fish. Running this site, and eating T-bone steaks is great, and ribs sure do hit the spot, but I’ve been getting what they call “fish hungry” lately, and I aimed to do something about it. And today I might have even, had not I been such a lousy fisherman. Seems I departed the lake this morning with my stringer in void, not to mention my stomach. I was fish-less, and still, as it were, fish hungry.

Being the problem solver that I am, however, I did what any red-blooded, fish-hungry American would do. I stopped by the grocer on the way home and I bought me a fish! Mahi-mahi, to be exact. A lovely fare that which swims the oceans yonder, that at the time, seemed more than suitable for my needs. Let’s head back to the pit, and I’ll tell you more about it, and how it went and came to be.

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Mahi-mahi, according to the Hawaiian interpretation, means very strong. By the looks of it, I’d say they’re probably right on that. A surface-dwelling, ray-finned fish known to inhabit tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate waters. They average about 15 to 29 pounds, can live up to 5 years of age, are highly sought after in sport fishing, and they sure as heck don’t live in Minnesota. But you can buy the meat of the Mahi-Mahi here, in point of fact, you can buy it all over the place. And man do they go good on the grill. Here’s how to do it.

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Whilst the pit heated up, we patted dry two chunks of the tender fish, rubbed them in a coat olive oil, then, feeling Cajun or something akin, dusted them liberally with a blackened spice rub. Mahi-mahi is a non-fish lover’s fish. Meaning if you don’t fancy the flavor of fish, yet want to eat fish, then this is the fish for you. Very mild in fishy flavor, irrepressibly moist, and with the ensuing spice conglomerate, a delicious fare fit for the finest dinner table. Blackened spice is a real easy blend, and extremely tasty. A fish rub worthy of your time. Here is how to make it.

Blackened Spice Rub

  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon each, onion powder, garlic powder, dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (increase this if you like a little burn on the lips)
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper

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Next step, and for artistic reasons only, we pre-heated the cast iron grate and coated it in a bit peanut oil for to secure the cosmetic beach-head of any would-be grill jockey – grill marks. Sear the fillets for a minute or so per side, just enough to get some nice grate lines. It doesn’t take long to cook these fish. They also are remarkably robust and hold together astoundingly well for this sort of grilling. Save your expensive planks for more delicate fish than this. You will be hard pressed, we wager, to dry out Mahi-mahi. Anyways, after some nice char marks were in vogue, we escorted the meat back to the cool side of the pit, opposite the hot coals, to loiter indirect there for the rest of the cook. The next item on the menu, is a little grilled asparagus, green and tender, for to please the lady folk. And it couldn’t be easier to do.

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Grilled Mahi mahi and Asparagus Spears

Marinating Asparagus

To amp up the flavor a bit, we had these asparagus spears soaking for a couple of hours in a simple marinade involving, but not limited to: Olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar.

Roast the asparagus over direct heat for a couple of minutes, rolling them like a batch of hot dogs for even cooking, until your desired tenderness is reached, and then tuck them back opposite the hot coals, keeping the fish company for the rest of the cook. Speaking of, you’ll want to flip the fish fillets according to your pit master instincts. Do what you need to do. It’s a rather quick cooking meal, unfortunately. Maybe 15 minutes at most. Denying the pit keeper the much coveted down time for the all-important business of drawing a lovely beverage and watching the clouds idle past a pastel sky. But I guess that is what ribs are for. Anyways, when the fish flakes easily with a fork, your dinner is done. Plate up thy spoils at hand, and commence with what you do best! Amen.

 

Blackened Mahi mahi asparagus

Blackened Mahi-mahi sided with marinated Asparagus hot off the grill. Man! Can you taste it! So if you’re looking for something sort of fishy for your next BBQ, and lack the angling mojo to catch your own, try this one out for sure. You shan’t go wrong. Nor be fish hungry.

 

 

 

 

 


It’s About Time: Hickory Smoked Sloppy Joe Sandwiches

“We have often said that anything you can cook on the indoor range can be duplicated on the grill. In many cases, even improved, courtesy of the coals. And one of the best examples of this is the Sloppy Joe.

Not too long ago, the guy on TV said to set our clocks one hour ahead, of which I dutifully obliged. Seems to me however, like just last fall, which is like time clockinstantaneous ago to some one over 30, he told us to set it an hour backwards, and here we are putting it forwards to where it was again. Go figure. And ironically, time flies I guess, and like many folk, I gotta wonder why bother. I’m not altogether sold if it’s a good idea or not. I have tho long admired places like Arizona, who have also heard what the guy on TV said, thought about it for a while, like Arizonans do, shrugged their shoulders, and declared the heck with it. I thought of doing that too, in my own world, but I have actually gleamed a good use for springing forwards this time of year, namely BBQ!

Have you noticed, as I have, the blessed sun and how it dawdles in the sky now, well past supper time. We pit keepers in the northern latitudes notice these things. Indeed, we revel in these things. I cannot express to you the simple joy of actually grilling in the day light – slanting beams of heat cast by a warm and forgiving sun. And after a disturbingly long winter, mired in the icy depths of cold and darkness, this small thing is enough to make an old pit keeper weep. Like a lone astronaut emerging from a trip around the back side of the moon, the earth and the sun swinging back into view, and hope is thus renewed.  The light is back! And all the winter-bound pit keepers rejoice.

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On the pit today, an old favorite around here, hickory smoked Sloppy Joes. If you haven’t made your Sloppy Joes out on the grill yet, your missing out on one of the finer things to happen to a loose meat sandwich. Oh the stove-top Joes your mother used to make are good too, and we’re not cutting that short. But to bring them to the pit, and infuse some smokey goodness there, is to usher this classic sandwich into the next echelon of what is good. We have often said that anything you can cook on the indoor range can be duplicated on the grill. In many cases, even improved, courtesy of the coals. And one of the best examples of this is the Sloppy Joe. So the first order of business, of course, is to brown a pound or so of ground beef. And in an old, cast iron skillet, this is what we did.

Once the ground beef is browned up nice and pretty, mix in your sloppy sauce of choice. You all have your own thing I know, but here is what we had on hand:

Sloppy Joe Sauce

3/4 Cup Ketchup

2 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

3 Teaspoons Brown Sugar

1/2 Cup BBQ Sauce (optional but awesome)

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Now in many loose meat sandwich recipes folk like to put some onions and green peppers in the pan along with the ground beef, and cook them up there. And we would have too had we not had an abiding case of lazymanship this day. Dreadful stuff, but shoot, sometimes you just don’t feel like running to the grocer for any odd thing. Nay, not when the tweety birds and the sunbeams adorn your patio sanctum with Picasso-like perfection. And the breeze sifts sweetly through the fragrant spruce whilst the hickory smoke gently curls. We’ve been waiting far too long for a day like this to waste it traipsing about the cityscape. Anyways.

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Hickory smoke and Sloppy Joes marry with great effect. The union of flavors rise together, hand-in-hand, in a wonderful compliment to each other, and your world, by golly, is a better place because of it. The whole idea of doing it on the grill, after all,  is to mix in some of that smokey goodness patron to the pit. And so we set the black iron pan opposite the hot coals, and banked the meat as far towards to cooler side as we could, piling it up there like a meat snow bank in an iron cul-de-sac. We then plopped a small chunk of hickory directly onto the coals, and deployed the old, black enameled lid of the Weber into service. Be mindful to put the damper on the lid directly over your savory spoils so to enforce a proper draft of smoke there. Wood smoke is what sets this loose meat sandwich apart from any you’ve ever had. And so for the next 15 minutes, every 3 minutes or so, with manly beverage in hand, stir thy plunder with an artist’s hand. Circulate the smokey meat to the bottom and bring the less smoked meat to the top. And keep repeating this heady procedure in true pit keeper fashion until your drool humbly sizzles one too many times upon the fiery flanks below. When you deem your plunder smokey enough to suit, there is only one reasonable step left to do. Toast the buns.

Toasting the buns is an often skipped over step in the BBQ arts. Kind of like resting the meat. We get so excited to eat, I suppose, that we don’t think of anything but, let alone toasting a lowly bun. But it only takes a minute, really, and in return adds a fabulous texture to your end game. It also, off-hand and by-the-way, nurtures the virtue of patience, which is as important as a good bed of coals to a pit keeper. Patience is the soil in which greatness sprouts forth. Patience also takes an exorbitant amount of time, at the time, it seems. But it is good for us. Patience slows a hurried soul and hence elevates it’s capacity to absorb. To focus. To glory and bask in the simple and abiding pleasures patron to the pit.  Like the thin, wispy tendrils of wood smoke back-lit by a shaft of golden sun at supper time.  Something easy to appreciate, let me tell you,  after six stark months of grilling on the dark side of the moon. And tho the snowbanks tarry, and the breeze is still keen, the light is at last upon us. Finally. Like my elder brother is fond of croaking, “Patience comes to those who wait”. And it’s about time.

IMG_09411Hickory Smoked Loose Meat Sandwiches, and a side of beans. Yum!! Proving once again, that which is good on the stove top is even better patron to the pit.


A Time Out For Man: Rib Eyes and Potatoes

It was a busy week as weeks go. A cornucopia of social duties shaped by the ever-winding, never biased, current of life. Bumper to bumper, inching along congested IMG_99051tarmacs. Shoulder to shoulder in the halls of commerce, forming lines for the shallow and the monetary. Appointments to uphold, and deadlines to beat. Social postures and long-winded phone calls. In the ever-whirling cog of society, you might call it a state of being overly busy, and it’s true. It’s not all non sense tho. Because there within develops a tipping point, a rather glorious fraction of time, nay an opportunity, to raise the metaphoric middle finger and do what comes naturally to a patron of the pit. Indeed, if only but to light a fire and put meat to flame, that seems enough, and oh how it soothes a tattered man’s soul. That is what we did anyways. We had to. For sometimes a man ought to take a time out of his hectic existence, to feverishly, and without guilt, ingest some red meat!

Over a radiant bed of coals, we placed a packet of tin foil potatoes to get things started. Plenty of spuds diced in uniform fashion, drizzled in olive oil, and seasoned in a packet of Lipton onion soup mix. If you haven’t tried Lipton onion soup mix on your hobo potatoes, it ain’t half bad. Wrap it all up in tin foil, and put it over direct heat for about a half hour, or until soft. When the spuds are nearly done, we slid them over to homestead a bit indirect to make room for searing up a couple of mouth water rib eyes.

We love rib eyes here at the pit. Pert near our very favorite cut of steak. Nay, it is our favorite.  Lightly dashed in garlic and onion salt, and ushered to its gastronomic destiny over a beautiful bed of coals. And oh what sweet music it is, under a crescent moon, and two twinkling stars aloft, to hear this meat sizzle on a hot iron grate. And do let it sizzle. This is one occasion where it is quite satisfactory to cook over direct heat. A minute or two ought to do. Put don’t flip it quite yet. Instead rotate it about 90 degrees, and give it another minute or so, depending on your heat there. The imperfect math for the quintessential and oft coveted, diamond hatch grill marks. Something we are finding exceedingly easy to come by with this fancy cast iron grate from Craycort Grills. Once you have achieved some pleasurable char marks, flip the rib eye, and suitably repeat.

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Standing abreast the pit, tongs in hand, flipping meat over dancing flames is precisely what this old boy needed. You could feel the hecticness of the week dissolve like melted butter into a hot bowl of popcorn. Like a gob of cream cheese on an exhaust manifold. Let the world scatter along henceforth and with out me. I will be quite alright. For there is poetry at the pit tonight. Where soft blue moonbeams drop from on high. Where starlight flirts behind the snowy spruce tops. The fellowship of the coals, and that sweet, immeasurable heat, drawn from the ashen bosom of the old kettle grill. And the quaint aromas of steak that which tarry in the air. Glory! Let the world spin on indeed, and I shall not chase after it. For this is precisely where I pine to be. Pit-side, with my steak and potatoes. This is my respite. A time out for man. And the man declared that it was good! Amen.

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Grilled Rib Eye Steaks and Tin Foil Potatoes. For what ails you! Everything you need, and nothing you don’t, to set a man straight again.


A Hint of Warm: Jalapeno Poppers

“The Sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the Universe to do.” – Galileo Galilei

Late morning sunbeams sparkle over the pond, long since frozen in time, whilst a cool, February breeze mingles though the pit-side Spruce treessun and snow and over the wintry land so callused in ice and snow. The first wisps of igniting charcoal waft quietly from the Weber Smokey Mountain, as it slowly comes up to speed. Black capped Chickadees dart playfully about, from spruce to feeder, and from feeder back to spruce again, nary holding still for the benefit of photographers. I didn’t mind. I was inside anyways, standing at the kitchen counter stuffing peppers with cream cheese, and enjoying how the amber shafts of sunlight fell into the house and warmed me there. It’s been a while, a good while indeed, since I’ve felt the sun on my face. It is rather remarkable when you consider, like Galileo did, that the sun is some 93 million miles away, and we only receive a small sliver of its energy, yet, in the same breath, it can make a bloke’s day when its unassuming light greets his window pane and lands warm upon his face like it had nothing else in the universe to do. The simple pleasures indeed. But then, its been a very long and cold winter, and I do tend to dwell on these things. Anyways, I should probably get along with the business of telling you what’s going on the pit today, and how it went and came to be. I think you’re going to like it.

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Atomic Buffalo Turds. Yup, that’s a fact. That is what the under ground grilling community calls them anyways. Now I can’t quite figure out why they call it that, for I have on occasion made the acquaintanceship of a buffalo, and I can assure you that their back end tokens look nothing like what we’re about to cook! But who cares I guess. The name is catchy if not down right deplorable. And it is kind of fun to serve up a plate of declared buffalo turds and see how your guests thus roll their collective eyes. You might, I suppose, be better off calling them by their politically correct name, jalapeno poppers. In the end, it doesn’t matter I guess, because good is good, and these things are fabulous if you haven’t had the opportunity. Cream cheese stuffed jalapeno peppers wrapped in bacon and smoked on the pit. Glory! Lets get after it!

You will need the following:

  • 10 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 block of creme cheese
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • teaspoon garlic salt
  • teaspoon pepper
  • 1 package of bacon
  • 1 cup ground Italian sausage

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Stir together in your favorite bowl

First order, and whilst the pit is coming up to speed, is to brown up some ground Italian sausage. Some folk use the little cocktail weenies. And some blokes just skip this part altogether. At any rate, once the sausage is browned, mix it all together with the packet of cream cheese, shredded cheese, garlic salt and pepper. Thus your tasty filling is alas ready for deployment. After this, you’ll want to slice the peppers in half the long way, or down their length. Some people like to leave them them whole, but slicing them in half is a salute to the higher powers of mathematics you see, and essentially doubles the appetizer output for the same price. So why not. Once sliced in half, if you’re a sally-tongued Swedish pansy like myself, you’ll most certainly want to clean out all the seeds, less you regret your life a few hours hence. And believe me the burn can come back to get you, no buffaloes required, if you know what I mean. But if you like that sort of thing, well then by all means, live the dream! But it is well to scrap the seeds out, and hence cast aside any jalapeno fears you might harbor, for the longer the peppers cook, the milder they seem to get. In the end they are a fraction of their fiery selves. A beautiful descendant and a hint of warm. And I’m OK with that.

Next, and with an artist’s hand, stick a good creamy glob of the filling onto each pepper halve, and then cloak them in a beautiful strip of bacon. Tooth picks are the secret here to keeping the bacon corralled and in place. And a half strip of bacon is just enough to aptly swaddled the handsome jalapeno, provided you are rationing your pork candy. That’s it. Time to bring these delectables out to the pit!

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It only took about an hour on the smoker, running around 275 before the bacon had browned up and they were done. But an hour is just enough time, turns out, to procure a lovely beverage ice box and take up residence in one’s man chair, feet propped towards the fireplace. Just enough time to watch plenty of smoke curl out way of the patio door. And just long enough, off-hand and by-the-way, to pull up something interesting on the public television station, tug your hat to your nose, and promptly doze off there, that is iffin you have a mind to. And I might have. And whilst the hickory smoke gently curled from the pit with the aromas of bacon afloat in the air, and the tweety birds all resumed feasting again in my absence, the sun also swung into position as if on heavenly strings, it’s soft hint of warmth descending upon shafts of gold, kissing the window sill that which flanked my humble easy chair. A soothing, unmerited warmth oozed over me like soft peanut butter on a hot slice of toast. And I fairly reveled in it, like a lottery winner, my body like a sponge for the sun. Indeed, the old astronomer was right, there really was nothing better in the universe to do. Feet by the fire. Free solar heat massage. PBS induced nap. Man! This is the high rigors of BBQ people. You gotta work up to it! Amen.

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Hickory Smoked Jalapeno Poppers. AKA, the Atomic Buffalo Turd. Cheesy, bacon-swaddled awesomeness on a peppery transport sure to be the hit of your party or get-together. *No buffalo were offended during the making of this appetizer.


Autumn’s Last Turn: Hickory Smoked Pit Chili

Banking the hot coals to the back of the old kettle grill, I cast a glance upon the pond, and the skies of gray, rolling over-head. A mist dapples over the20131006_151849_edit0 land, the house, and the bushes down by the water look wet, and tired today. The leaves of the cottonwoods have all turned yellow now, and many of them have fallen to their inevitable rendezvous with the earthen substrates below. One of them, however, landed on my patio, soaked, but still lovely, in this, the last turn of autumn. One last confident gesture of something beautiful, before ice and snow and darkness seize the land. It hasn’t much more to do in its life now. No more duties to uphold on the heady matters of photosynthesis. It need not provide shade nor solace for critters or kin. And it will decompose in time, like things do, and morph into dirt or the like. Something rather unbecoming of a once beautiful leaf, but in the same breath, kind of noble and good. An intricate interlace in the ongoing circle of life. One of which I considered some whilst plucking some bell peppers from the fertile soils of the pit garden. We’re having chili tonight, you see, and I like peppers in my chili.

What better spoil for the pit, on a misty, autumn day, than some smoked pit chili, procured over a beautiful bed of coals. Its real easy to do. As easy as on your kitchen range, but dare I say, twice as fun. I started with the old, black iron frying pan, and a pound or so ground beef, browned in accord. Then I tossed in some diced onions and bell peppers plucked fresh from the garden folds. Sautéed and softened a tad, before adding the rest of the ingredients.

20131006_170141_edit0The other ingredients can be as vast or as precise as you wish. Chili is a most forgiving dish. There is no hard and fast rule to chili making, especially on the pit. So make it however you like. I started with a base of tomato sauce, one can as it were, followed by half that can of water. Then a can of kidney beans, drained of course. A big squirt of ketchup, and a modest handful of brown sugar. Some salt and pepper. About a table-spoon of chili pepper. And a dwindling bag of frozen corn I discovered in the furthest recesses of the freezer. I like corn in my chili, I don’t know why. All this is stirred up and left to simmer in a sloppy-brown communal affair, opposite the hot coals. Let the flavors marry, and get to know one another. Next comes the good part.

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The part that separates the outdoor chef from the kitchen dweller. Smoke. I’m sure the cowboys of old, who slept under the stars, were used to a smokey flavored chili, but that is something wrung tight now out of the human experience. Doing your chili out on the pit, with a bit of hickory wood thrown in for good measure, is not only a supreme means of procuring some tasty supper, but you are also paying homage, in a way, to how chili was always meant to be done – over the camp fire. I tossed on a chunk of smoke wood and placed the old, black-enameled lid back on. Tweaked the top vent, and in no time, aromatic plumes puffed contentedly away. Thus, and unto the journey’s end, let the pot simmer away for as long as you wish. And very occasionally stir the contents. This, in part, to stir in more of that smokey goodness, which is half the reason for cooking outside in the first place. Glory!

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Whilst the wood smoke curled up into a gray, mist-ladened sky, I stood abreast of the pit, gleaming what heat I could from it. Hands in the pockets of my smoking jacket, eyes surveying the pond. A gentle drizzle tapping over the brim of my hat. There is a chill in the air, and a dampness to match it. And one lone mallard afloat out on the pond – quacking away. Seemingly laughing, almost, in an upward-raised indifference to the weather. Ducks are like that. Hamming it up, he was, like Phyllis Diller in her prime. And I admired him for it. I admire any schmuck, come to think of it, winged or not, who seems to enjoy the soggy, cold, days of life such as these. For that matter, any day in which he is given. Those wholly absorbent souls who grasp a moment for the gift that it is, and belch forth of its glories anew. That is a confident gesture of something beautiful, if you ask me. Something noble and good.

I muckle onto the hot iron of steaming chili and bring it inside, closing the patio door behind me. The autumn mist dawdles on, whilst the old mallard chortles from the dappled pond. What a good day it has been, I thought. A gift indeed. And another golden leaf dropped from above. Amen.

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Hickory Smoked Chili fresh off the pit. Dang people. If that don’t warm your belly and soul on a wet day, you probably have dirt in your face.

-POTP


Apple Smoked Chicken Thighs and Bacon Cheddar Potatoes

Vacation was good. Romping about the Montana mountains with elder brother, in a dusty, old Jeep.  Pitching encampments aside gin-clear trout streams, and beneath aromatic pines. Morning views of frosted ramparts thrusting high into a wild, Montana sky. Days of misty mountain majesty. Rains drops on pine needles. And wily rainbow trout at the end of thin tippets. These are but the days we will remember. Where the mountains did rise, our souls soared, and the rivers ran below it.

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I remember them indeed. A thousand miles and seven days later, I remember. And as I bank the coals to the back of the old kettle grill this evening, looking upon the familiar scene patron to the home patio, I recall the natural splendor our eyes beheld amid the beautiful contours of Montana. “God gave us memories“, I once heard, “So we could have roses in December“.  I am smitten for the flowers. I tossed on a cup cake-sized chunk of apple wood, directly on the coals.  The heat felt good on my hands, as I pondered some more my recent trip afield. The memories we come back with, I thunk,  are why we go on a trip in the first place. This is why we take pictures and write things down in our note books – to remember.

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Anyways, to the business of supper. As the amber shafts of sunlight struck against the Cottonwoods,  I plunked down two chicken thighs over in-direct heat, seasoned very simply in smoked garlic salt. Salt that I cold smoked earlier this summer, amid tweety birds and lofty ambition, and tucked away for further use. Today was the day. Also wrapped up in foil, we have a humdinger. Several potatoes, diced to uniform thickness, patted with a little butter, some salt and pepper. A few manly pinches of shredded cheddar cheese, and of course every one’s meat fantasy, bacon, chopped and scattered amid the spuds, like ambassadors to the cholesterol gods.  All this wrapped tight in a pocket of aluminum foil, and set over direct heat for to come of age, and to its destiny according to my belly.

I put on the black-enameled lid, tweaked the damper, and the smoke of apple wood almost immediately began to curl. A smile lit over my face. Any pit master proper aspires for this portion of the cook. This glorious string of moments where meat is sizzling, and smoke is rising. There is harmony and well-being and contentment in the fellowship of the coals. And you sit back in your BBQ chair, legs crossed like a gentleman of leisure, manly beverage at hand, and you simply survey your kingdom as it were. The angle of the sun, the banter of the birds, the wake of the muskrat propelling across the pond. I think half the reason people grill in the first place is to be out-of-doors. To bask in the inherent beauty patron to the pit.

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Lifting the lid to check in on the plunder, the thighs have taken on a beautiful golden-brown color, wrought from the wages of smoke and heat. I flipped them once right along with the foiled potatoes. And mercy it smelled good!

Pit Tip: If you are smoking meat and want to simultaneously cook a side that doesn’t so much abide with a smokey taste, like potatoes, you can never go too far wrong with foiling them. The foil blocks the smoke whilst preserving the seasonings you so lovingly dappled there. And the world and your tummy is a better place for having done so.  Tin foil and the pit keeper have a most understanding relationship.

The cheese in the foil married up kindly with the potatoes, sort of merging into them in a delightful, cheesy fusion. And the bacon basted the whole thing like only bacon can. Glory! Eating these potatoes, one sort of got the feeling he should check to make sure his health insurance premiums were up to date.  Anyways, when the thighs are done, and the spuds are soft to the touch, plate-up the ensemble and sally forth to your loved ones. Note how the savory aromas of deeds well done trail you in to the house, and how heads will  turn. Place the plate of steaming plunder on the counter, sprinkle on some more shredded cheese, and declare the supper bell hath rung. Mop up the drool as necessary.

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Apple Smoked Garlic Chicken Thighs and Bacon Cheddar Potatoes. Man! Not quite a trip to mountain folds of Montana, but still something I might just remember a while. Something to do with where the wood smoke rises, and the flowers that which gently bloom there. Amen.

-POTP


Hickory Smoked Blue Cheese Jerk Burger : The 2013 Burger Throw Down

Way up yonder, in the northern reaches of Minnesota, a series of Weber Smokey Joe grills quietly puffed in turn beneath the whispering pines. Men plying through their coolers, and spice stashes. Other men circling about, taking pictures. Patties of ground beef delicately formed, and laying at the ready. And a light humidity hung in the air. This was the scene of the 2013 Burger Throw-Down.  A gastronomic snippet of a men’s retreat. A humble tho seriously esteemed competition held in the hinter lands of Northern Minnesota, along the White Fish chain of lakes. It was there in these competitive pools, that my fellow blog host sought to ply his burger craft.  Each contestant was provided 2 pounds of ground beef, 4  hamburger buns, a Weber Smokey Joe, and what ever spice and accompaniments they wish to steal from their home pantries . There would be 8 judges, each sporting a most scrupulous eye, and two hours, give or take, in which to greatly impress them.

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As the Canadian Jays and Black Capped Chickadees cavorted in the white pines, and the air smelled of damp earth from recent showers, the contestants hovered over their prep areas, one and all, prodding over patties of beef, and a litany of spice and cheese.  The game was on, and our fellow blog host recalls, in his own words, getting things underway, in this, the great burger throw down of 2013.

“The burger throw down was as fun as I thought it would be. I was the first one to show up knowing I would have much prep for my burgers. I had my premixed jerk rub tightly vacuumed sealed for freshness and a large can of pineapple rings. I also brought a zip lock bag of hickory chips that has been soaking since Thursday night, so almost 2 days. So, I started my coals first, as one should always do, and as they began to burn I started moving them around the bowl of the Smokey Joe. Placing them on one side of the bowl so I can do a little in-direct smoking once the burgers were fully cooked. When people saw what I was doing with the coal placement, I could hear comments like “wow, he’s got it down to a science, or this guy is serious”. I was just doing what I’m used too.”

The men henceforth got down, as men do in competitive burger making. Got down to the heady business of procuring something memorable, and pleasing to the palate. Something apt to move a judge’s tummy for the better, and put a mile on his face. The contestants were up for the challenge  Everything from pesto and jalapeno to feta and Munster cheese.  Our fellow patron admits to being slightly intimidated, standing alongside some of these Meat Maestros.  But he sticks with his game plan, and his secret weapon – 48 hour soaked hickory chips.

 “I then quickly began to prep my burgers. Now, I brought a lot of spice rub with me and I wasn’t sure how much I should use so I decided I would start mixing the rub into the meat until I could smell it. I used about half of what I brought, folding and pounding the meat until the smell joined the wet pine of the camp. I quickly shaped my patties and filled the middle with blue cheese. I sprinkled a little more rub on the cheese and laid the other patty on top of it. I finished by pinching the patties together and rubbing spice on both sides of it.  I think soaking the chips as long as I did helped put steam into the meat because I know my burgers were juicy. After they were fully cooked I moved them to indirect heat and placed the pineapple over the coals. I charred them up a little and then toasted the buns. I threw everything together and mine were the first for the judges to eat. I realized at that point I forgot two of my main ingredients, bacon, which  would have gone on top of the pineapple, and then some smokey bbq sauce to go on top of the bacon. I’m glad my burgers were juicy, because sometimes without sauce you get a dry burger.”

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Were talking a burger here folks. One that would make even a heathen man pause to say grace. One-half pound of hickory smoked ground beef, filled with a pocket of gooey blue cheese, seasoned with the patron kick of good jerk rub, topped with a charred pine-apple ring  and of course, a toasted bun. Dang! You certainly are not going to eat a whole lot better under the whispering pines nor burger shack alike. And apparently the judges thought so too, as they gave our fellow patron 1st Place honors for his Smoked Blue Cheese Jerk Burger. Well done old chap.  Well done indeed.

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Besides getting to sport the title of Defending Champion for a year, he also won himself a chef’s hat and an apron.  If we’re nice to him, and flatter him a little, maybe we can even get him to model it for us. I doubt it, but maybe.


How To Bust Your BBQ: SuckleBusters Seasoning and Sauces and Such

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It’s a catchy name. One that you’ll remember. SuckleBusters! What is a SuckleBuster you ask? Well, you’ll have to read the back story on that, as told by the head SuckleBuster himself, Dan Arnold. It’s a long story. To paraphrase, to be a SuckleBuster is a good thing. And to “bust some great steaks” is coin of high praise indeed, according to Dan. Dan is a friendly chap, whose passion for BBQ is only matched perhaps by his gamut of iconic sauces and rubs, every one of them to a tee, “bustin’ with flavor!”   I have long remembered the name, now it was time to find out why.

BBQ-Sauce-Original-12-oz-RoMy patron and I fired up our grills this weekend to do just that. Armed with various degrees of Sucklebuster’s finest, and left to our own devices, we both opted for the canvas of pulled chicken, for to paint the flavor profile masterpiece. And Sucklebusters, let it be said,  has many flavors for a BBQ Picasso to play with. From their award-winning Competition Rub, and spicy favorite, Hoochie Mama BBQ Rub , to their super sweet Honey BBQ Sauce, and if you’re feeling wild, and robust of tongue, maybe even their Chipotle BBQ Sauce. They even have a Peach BBQ Sauce that I’d surely fancy to get my hands on some day. Suffice it to say, they will likely have you covered, with what ever flavor you may have a hankering for. But does any of it taste good? None of the fun names matter if it doesn’t. And that is what we’re aiming to find out today. A matter of opinion to be sure,  of which the BBQ circles are full of. And this is one of them.

I hit some chicken leg quarters with their tried and true, Competition BBQ Rub, and whilst the coals matured on the Competition-Rub-4ozpit, I scanned through their website. Apparently a lot of people think SuckleBusters tastes pretty good, judging from its long list of distinguished awards, including a 1st place in the American Royal BBQ Sauce Contest in Kansas City, for their Original BBQ Sauce. One of the same sauces we selected for today’s cook. The award list was long enough in fact, that I suspected if the Noble Peace Prize people were handing out something for BBQ folk, well, SuckleBusters probably would have one of those too. Their sauce scientists seem to have it going on. Which is good news for we who hail from the smokey arts. 

Over at my patron’s pit, he was up to the same thing. Procuring some savory SuckleBuster magic of his own, in the form of pulled chicken. He used the hot Chipotle BBQ Sauce and the sweet and spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce, their latest new mustard based creation, which if there is a bigger fan of than my fellow patron, I do not know of any. He loves the mustard stuff. Anyways during the smoke, I did note, even within a couple of hours, the chicken already was developing an abiding, and very suitable bark. Mark one more star for the Competition Rub.

Hoochie-Mama-BBQ-SeasoningAbout the Competition Rub, and all the rubs from SuckleBusters, sauces included in fact, is that they are clean. No MSG, or artificial junk that you can’t pronounce. Just real ingredients. Basic and clean. And we here at POTP liked that allot. And suspect perhaps, that is one of the reasons this stuff tastes so good. “No Bad Stuff” as they like to remind you on their site. And we’re glad they do. Another star and tip of the hat, Mr Arnold.

After a few hours of low and slow, we applied the sauces, mixing them in with the pulled chicken, built some rotund sandwiches, and put on some more sauce, just because. The moment of BBQ truth. Every pit master and budding wannabe alike live for this moment. To put your talking where your mouth is, go figure, and commence with the feeding. Now I thought the SuckleBuster Original BBQ Sauce married beautifully with their Competition Rub. Flavors complimenting one another in a fair, but seemingly deliberate fashion. There was just enough zing from the vinegar in the sauce to remind my tongue that something good had just happened here, and like most original formulas I guess,something else lurked in there too, compelling me to keep going back for more. A well-balanced symphony of flavors. None over-powering the other, and rest of it just right. There was just enough spicy heat present, to linger in your mouth after each bite, to make my spicy-challenged Swedish taste buds feel good about themselves. Like maybe I could handle the heat if I had to. A notion my fiery-tongued fellow patron will probably only laugh at. His pulled chicken sandwiches were on the hot side of the Sucklebuster menu. And he loved them accordingly. He had guests over for supper, and served them all pulled chicken slathered in both the Mustard BBQ Sauce and the Chipotle BBQ Sauce. He determined that the heat was indeed “do-able” and very, very good. He said even I could have probably handled the Chipotle BBQ.

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At the end of the day, my patron and I had come pretty much to the same conclusion. That this BBQ company with the memorable name also puts out some dang fine BBQ flavors. Yeah, we fancy to make our own home made sauces and rubs, and we do pretty good, but we are not even remotely in the league these guys are privy too.  The only downside we could find, because nothing is perfect it seems,  is that their seasonings and sauces are not the cheapest ones on the shelf, but like many things in life, with this one you really do get what you pay for. A good sauce will make or break your BBQ. These sauces take your meat by the hand, and usher it into a whole new realm. Their track record speaks for itself I guess. And I suppose if we had to be monogamous to one and only one BBQ Sauce company, SuckleBusters would be it. They’re just good, people, and that’s the plain truth. We give their products a Two Patron Thumbs Up, and will be returning customers for sure.

After all the awards, however, and the accolades of these wonderful sauces and spices have been spun, after the sun had set on our grills, and our bellies were filled, we both noted something very subtle with our SuckleBuster experience.  Subtle, but poignant upon our soul.  And that is on every jar of sauce, on every bottle of rub, and maybe some more stuff too, you will find reference to the scripture – Proverbs 5:3-5.  Subtle yet bold, like a SuckleBuster ought to be. Now half the world probably won’t care about that. And the other half will probably wonder if they ought to care about that. But we here at POTP are believing folk, and for what ever reason, we think that is very cool indeed. And in that alone, SuckleBusters has our lasting respect, and leaves an abidingly good taste in our mouths. Which after all, is what they’re in the business of in the first place. Amen.

So if you’re looking for some good award-winning sauces and rubs, that don’t have all the chemicals, and you don’t mind dealing with some very kindly people, check out SuckleBusters for your next BBQ.


Notes from the Cabin: The Suburban Grill

Every blog is worthy of a guest post from time to time.  We are not above posting the adventures of others –  of their triumphant victories and their humbling defeats. My elder brother, of whom I have referenced on occasion here, has been maybe our longest-standing reader, and personally privy to some of our grill time endeavors. He likes to write, as well as to cook out-of-doors,  and so I asked him one time to write us something, about putting meat to flame, and I would see about posting it up here. Well this weekend last, nestled amid the whispering pines at his remote cabin in Wisconsin, he jotted off this ditty for us, whilst the wood smoke curled from the grill, and the sunbeams seared over frozen waters. Covering such topics as brothers, impressing women, how grilling on some units is not unlike driving an SUV, and the notion that the size of one’s grill , for better or for worse, might indeed matter.
–POTP
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I am not a sun worshiper, I do not seek out the sunny areas of the outdoors and bask in the sunshine, I do not try to tan my skin or even want too. But having said that, I have to volunteer, somewhat discreetly , that yesterday afternoon I lavished in the golden sunbeams. I lay willingly in the warm sometimes hot caresses of that fiery orb that is the center of our solar system. I paid homage to the sun and all the good things that it brings.

The warm breeze swept across the ice-covered lake, mingling the hot and the cool air like I love so much. In the northern climates, a day like this is not wasted, it is seized and every drop of enjoyment is squeezed out of it. Motor cycles come out, bicycles, dogs and the people who walk them. Minnesotans find things to do outside, and for some of us, that means lighting up the grill…

It has been six months since I last started the big grill here at the cabin, and I am still a bit intimidated by the hugeness of the thing. I got it for free, someone left it down at the end of their driveway, a piece of cardboard hanging on it swinging in the breeze, scratched with magic marker saying “FREE”.

I kind of see why now, after using it last summer.

They could not afford to fill the thing.

This grill is the GMC Suburban of grills. You can fit an entire turkey in the thing and still have room left over for a few bratwurst and hamburgers for your close friends. The thing is huge. My little Weber grill back home is twelve inches in diameter. At the start of a grilling session, I have only to put five to seven pieces of briquettes on the leftover coals from the last cook. That is all it takes to make the Weber Smokey Joe run. My little brother calls it the Honda Civic of grills. You get a lot of mileage from those little black chunks of coal.

 Weber Smokey Joe -AKA- The Honda Civic of grills

Weber Smokey Joe -AKA- The Honda Civic of grills

My big Suburban grill at the cabin likes coal, like a sailor likes his rum. I toss four to seven pieces of charcoal into its vast maw and they drop into the abyss. Like dropping rocks into a well. You can hear the things bouncing off the sides on the way down, and they disappear as they reach the darkness at the bottom. Back home, on my humble Weber, a small bag of charcoal will last most of the summer. The largest bag of charcoal I can buy will barely get me three cooks on this behemoth. And worse, because the lid does not fit tightly, they burn all the way down each time, forcing me to replenish the whole pile with each session.

After the grill is lit, and the flames have settled down, ( or stabilized as my brother would say) I feel somewhat awkward placing my single hamburger patty and two Bratwurst on the immense grate. They only take up a small portion of the vast area under the lid. It made me think of being at a baseball game where only you and two of your best friends are sitting in the stands cheering the team, the rest of the huge stadium empty.

I swear, the sizzling hamburger patty had an echo.

In spite of my brother’s influence, I have never been very good on the grill. A piece of T-Bone steak, seasoned with garlic salt is the epitome of my meager talent. I bow to my little brother, who is the proclaimed “Patron of the Family Pit”. I have of course been reading his blog and like you followers out there, I feel inspired to try my hand at the craft. But , I know my limits. . .

I have never grilled fish on a cedar board, and more than likely never will, but give me a pound of hamburger, or some hot dogs, and I am in my glory. Simple tastes for the simple-minded I guess.
I read with awe how my brother put together Apple Wood Spare Ribs, or the Smoked Brisket. I have actually tasted his Hickory Smoked Rib Sandwiches. If I am in the right place, at the right time, an occasional chicken wing will come my way. But, and I will be honest here, I have about as much chance of making his Smoked Honey Tainted Pork Chops as I would making a slam dunk with a basketball.

I thought about these things as my Suburban grill at the cabin did its thing with my three pieces of meat . I knew I was not going to impress my woman with such a scanty offering, but hey, we were out in the middle of nowhere looking out over a frozen lake. Where else was she going to get food?

-The Patron’s Brother


The Cheeseburger: A Pit Keeper’s Thumb Print

What a pleasant thing it is to walk past your patio door, and see your old grill out there, puffing away in a cloud of hickory. To 20130403_173853_edit0smell the wood smoke in the air, and know something tasty is developing, cooking, and residing just out yonder, under that beat up lid. It soothes a man, I must say. It is well with his soul. For there is just something about putting meat to flame and cooking it there, whilst the fresh air encircles you, that for a while at least, we are content and in need of very little else. And maybe that’s why, come to think of it, we like to cook slowly around here, if for any other reason than to extend the moments – these the fellowship of the coals. It is our twinkle, every time we light the pit, and watch the smoke curl there.

Now every man I ever knew, and a lot of women too,  if there was one thing they were good at on the grill, it was big cheese burger. And rightly so, for that’s what most folk start off with, in their formative, teeth-cutting years at the grill front. My eldest brother has long-held to the tactic, when visiting a restaurant for the first time, that the safest, and most efficient stroke you can play there is to try their cheeseburger.  For they are not likely first off to screw it up, but more over, in a gastronomic gumshoe sort of way, you can tell a great deal about the rest of their fare, their cook, and their establishment as a whole, but from the mere details revealed in their humble hamburger. How much pride have they taken in preparing it? What is the grade of beef? Do they bother to toast the bun? How much did it cost? Likewise on the grill. It is a pit junkie’s thumb print, the hamburger.  And everybody who has flipped a patty has one. Every finger print is a little different it seems, and like a thumb into an ink pad, it is our most basic impression onto the BBQ arena. Want to get an idea of a pit keeper’s prowess, consider first his cheeseburger. Thus, and with a good bed of coals, let us make it a favorable one at least.

20130423_175517_edit0You can do a lot of things with hamburgers. Stuff them full of various odds and ends, from bell peppers and corn to blue cheese or hot sauce. Some cast iron constitutions do all of the above at once, and wager it a good day. But if you have supper guests coming over, as we did this evening, and their palates you are not yet acquainted with, it is a wise move for the pit master to keep the meat simple. Provide a cornucopia of toppings and condiments on the side, and let the unknown taste buds hence arriving paint their own masterpiece. And that’s just what we did. Started with 80/20 ground beef, which if you haven’t heard, is the optimal ratio for hamburgers. Leaner blends tend to fall apart on the grill, and lack a little less flavor. Anyways, before the patties were even formed, I worked in to the beef,  an envelope of Lipton Onion Soup Mix to give it some flavor. Formed some rather massive patties, half-pound colon busters if you will. Hard to tell in the pictures, but easily appreciated in person. Placed them on the grate opposite the hot coals, and pressed a golf ball-sized depression into the center of each one to thwart the often occurring “curl”, an unsightly malady that burgers sometimes do. The depression punch is purely a cosmetic move for the end game. Next, and to add a nice touch you don’t often get with a hamburger, I added a couple chunks of hickory to the coals, for a pleasant smokey tint to the beef. Nothing like a smoke ring on your cheeseburger to set a man right!

You can leave the burgers over indirect heat the whole way, tho some prefer to do it all right over the coals, hot and fast like.  It’s up to your pit master instincts.  But one thing you should always take the time to do is to toast your buns. And get the best buns the bakery has, or better yet, make your own. And one of the best ways to toast them is to butter each half, and plunk them on the hot side of the grill. Tend to them like a needy relationship. Like a puppy keen to poop on your new carpet. Check them every few seconds with your tongs. For they can burn easily, and all your hard labors might soon go up in flame. But nothing quite so brings your burger to the next level than a perfectly toasted bun. Man. And never has a dinner guest not appreciate this simple, yet effective effort.

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In the end, each person had a 1/2 pound Colby Jack cheese burger with the works, larger than their face, and towering off the plate like a meat monolith. Mercy! Basic grilling 101. Filling. Tasty. And an American favorite for sure. It is the cheeseburger. Your pit keeper’s thumb print.


How To Impress A Woman Again: Caramel Rolls

Gentlemen. A few blogs back we showed you how to impress a woman by baking her bread on the grill. Women chimed in from all across the blogosphere, and were impressed left and right, and a good thing had been done.  Women began at least, to foster a modicum of hope for us. But the ladies in our life are worth more than a mere loaf of tenderly grilled bread. They’re worth some dessert too. Thus it is time now for the encore, if you will. Time to take our efforts to the next level. It’s time to make some caramel rolls on the grill, because if that don’t astound the female species, nothing will.  Come with us won’t you, and we will show you just how to do it.

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First thing you’ll need to do if you haven’t already is to go back and read our article, How To Impress a Woman: Bread! You’ll need to use the Master Recipe found there for the dough. Yes, the exact same dough you use to bake bread can also be used for the most delicious, home-made, caramel rolls you’ll likely ever ingest. So you’ll need to make yourself up a batch of that dough, if you wish to try this amazing treat.

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Whence the dough is made, grab a grape fruit sized chunk of it and plop it on a pan. Next, you’ll need to roll it out to a 1/4 inch thick. I couldn’t find my roller, but discovered a Quaker Oats oatmeal can rolls pretty nice instead. It’s all good. Anyways, then you’ll need to spread the filling out over the top of the dough. Here is how to make that filling.

Caramel Filling

  • 4 Tbsp of butter
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Cream all this together in your Kitchen Aid or what have you, and plop it over your rolled out dough. Don’t worry about how pretty it looks. Whence that is complete, go ahead a roll it up into a shapely log resembling your fondest burrito, and then let it sit and think about its life whilst you tend to key goodness factor – the caramel topping.

Caramel Topping:

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

Cream together all this stuff too, and spread it over the bottom of a pie tin or the like. You can sprinkle some pecans over it here too if you have any on hand.

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Next thing on the docket is to slice up your burrito, cutting cross sections every two inches or so, and place them in your pan directly over the topping you spread out there. The hardest part of this project is done now. If you made it this far, you can accomplish this masterpiece.  Now it’s time to motion for the pit, back into our element. Where the pine-scented breezes mingle with the aromatic virtues of burning charcoal, and the banter of the flirting Chickadee.

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Put your precious cargo on opposite the hot coals. Indirect is your mantra here. Abide by it, and be well. This is no dish to screw around with. We tossed on a few pieces of peach wood at this point, that had been soaking in water for an hour or so. This project requires a delicate smoke, a wee bit,  just enough to let you know these rolls hail from the smokey realm, but not so much that it over-powers the whole thing. Treat the smoke as a spice, not an ingredient. The light smoke and the caramel produce an unlikely yet worthy bond, that will set these rolls apart from any other. Yet another privilege of a pit cook. Put on the lid, and assume your standard pit master position – in your man chair, lovely beverage in hand, and wait for the awe-inspiring aromas to hit you.

Whilst its baking, because your working a pit with varied temperatures running through it, you will want to lift the lid and check in on it from time to time, rotating 180 degrees at least once, and otherwise follow your pit master instincts for even baking. And like most baking projects, you’re looking for a golden brown crust to form, of which you should see in about 30 – 40 minutes. Keep checking in on it, be diligent, re-assuring it that you love it, and care about it’s well-being. Part of impressing a woman is being thoughtful and considerate you see. Best to practice on your caramel roll first if you have to.

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Whence a golden brown crust becomes the standard on your rolls, and it looks akin to something you think you’d like to eat, go ahead and proceed to the fun part – inverting it on a plate. Keep the inverted pan on top of it for a bit, tarry there, letting the piping hot caramel ooze and dribble of its own free will, where ever it so pleases, thus soaking into and over your rolls in a fashion suitable for the prestigious likes of Betty Crocker and your favorite grand mother. Folks will smell something good at this point and jockey nearer to thee. Look them in the eyes, pausing for effect, and remove the inverted lid, and proceed at once to astound the nearest woman. And maybe even yourself too.

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Peach Smoked Caramel Rolls hot off the grill. Man! There may be better things in life, but when you have one of these in front of you, rest assured, you won’t be able to think of any. And neither will your lady.


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

Testament of a Grilling Geek

I went out to the grill the other night, in routine fashion to tend the meat, and found myself for a time just standing there, staring into the hot, glowing coals. It was a crisp night, and the heat from the fire felt good on my hands. And the sky was dark, and scattered with stars, shimmering vanward to a blackened infinity. I turned up the collar on my smoking jacket, and noted momentarily how pleasant it was – this fire, this night. The simple pleasures of loitering pit-side, while lovingly doting over a piece of meat. I just love it. But why. Why would a grown man of apt intelligence forsake a perfectly good stove top, and a heated house, to go instead outside, into the cold, and cook his supper in the humbling style of hobos and passing vagrants.  I pushed the meat over indirect heat,  paused, and thought about it for a while.

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The reasons reside I suspect, with the soft-rising tendrils of smoke, and the waving mirages of heat against a pale, crescent moon. With the dancing flames, and the aromas of smoldering wood. It might also be because of all the many campsites  beneath whispering pines I am thus reminded of, every time I strike a match, and kindle a fire. Because meat cooked over an open fire is at once a pleasure, and akin to something deeper in our souls than electric skillets or microwave ovens. Because of the freshened air which expands my chest, and the Black Capped Chickadees which flirt yonder, in the stately trees.  Because BBQ is a fickle pursuit, and you are not always so sure how it will turn out. And because good BBQ takes time,  lots of time, and loitering over a beautiful bed of coals, with my tongs in hand, is at once a stand of small defiance, in a falling world wrought with haste. And that is no small thing.

Because one day I might smoke the perfect rack of ribs.

Indeed, the reasons are many I suppose, of why we do what we do. And I suppose too there are plenty of other ways to cook a cut of meat, that will taste just as good, and surely a might more comfortable than standing out in the cold. But scarce any of them, let it be said, are nearly so much fun as this; with this fire, this night out-of-doors, under magnificent skies, and over fiery beds of glowing coal.  Ah yes. The simple pleasures patron to the pit, and to those who tarry there. This I suspect, is why I grill by and by, and why it is we do what we do.

That, and I like to eat! Amen.


Back To The Basics: Grilled Chicken Thighs

afterfocus_1356645974626_edit0As you delve into your pit master career, and hone your craft there, every once in a while it’s good to regress back to something basic, something easy. The sort of cooks that once upon a time you cut your teeth on, all those many years ago, back when you thought putting a hot dog on the grill was a holy event. Indeed, it’s a refreshing respite on the grilling front, for a time, to set aside all notions of fancy rubs and intricate marinades, of exotic smoke woods, and elaborate technique, and simply put meat to flame and call it good enough. That’s what I felt like today, beneath a cold December sky. Something simple.

A couple of chicken thighs in the back of the freezer would be just right. Had I the proper equipage, I might have done a carbon 14 dating process on the meat, but seeing I had no such device, why not let ignorance be my ally. Thus, over a beautiful bed of coals glowing hot-orange, thighs were put over direct heat to start, to sear and crisp them up a little, then placed over indirect heat for the rest of the cook. Even at 9 degrees Fahrenheit outside, on a wintry Minnesota eve, with the lid on the grill it easily kept up to the task of cooking supper. I stood grill-side, hands in my jacket pockets, admiring how the moon looked in the sky, whilst savoring the simplicity of the cook.  We all should do this sort of grilling more often, I thought. I even resisted the urge to add smoke wood, purely to adhere to my simplistic mantra of the day. However, I did hit them with a touch of garlic salt, just because. The results later, were a couple very tender chicken thighs, juicy, with a crisp skin, sided with a left-over portion of the Christmas corn. Son! Perfection in simplicity. Procured at the tail of a moon beam. And for all the fancy flavors we like to impart on our meat, and they are quite good, don’t get me wrong, there is still something to be said for a little salt, a dash pepper, and a hot bed of coals.

-POTP


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!


Meat Poetry: A Case for Charcoal

“There is a simple pleasure in charcoal, not soon lost after the cook is done. You go to put on your grilling jacket the next day, and it smells like a hundred and one campfires, reminding you of the good life. Lighting charcoal also takes time, and in this day of the drive through mentality, that is an oddity indeed. But one worth doing. For the smoke that rises gently from your stack is at once poetic, and a small victory in an otherwise busy life. When smoke rises from your charcoal grill, it is a signal to yourself and those around you, that for a while at least, you’re in no hurry. That you are taking something you love, grilling, and not betraying the moment for the tragedy of haste. That the world can spin without you now, for there is meat to be cooked, and joy to be had, patron to those who choose the scenic path, and the smoke which rises there. Amen.”

-POTP


Smoking The Bird

Nothing is quite so fine, on a cool Thanksgiving Day morning, than walking out onto your patio to see the wood smoke gently curling from your cooker, and the aroma of sizzling bird neath the dark, black, lid. Once you smoke your Thanksgiving turkey, your not likely ever to return to your old ways. Brethren of the smoke know, some things are just better that way. And this is one of them.

Here is how to give your family and friends the bird, or at least how I like to do it.

Ingredients for your mop:

4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup salad oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon-1 1/2 teaspoons poultry seasoning

Whilst your pit is warming up, mix together this stuff, and brush it all over your bird. Then light dash it with a little salt and pepper. A little garlic salt is nice too.

Place gobbler on grill over indirect heat. If your doing a true smoke here, be expecting 6 to 8 hours for a 12 pound turkey at 225 degrees. Or until the internal temp is at a minimum of 165 degrees, less you be running for the little pit boys room all too frequently. If you don’t have a smoker, no worries, it can be done on a traditional grill almost as poetically, but even faster. For example, your standard  back yard Weber is going run much hotter than a smoker, and your turkey will probably be done in about 3 hours. Simply bank the coals to either side of your grill, and put on the bird indirect . Indirect placement, people, is a signature move of a seasoned pit master. Never under estimate it, and do it often.

For smoke wood in this application, I am a big fan of pecan wood. It seems to have that subtle smokey taste that just works with poultry. The pecan smoke also blends magically with the soy sauce and pretty much rocks your turkey to a new level. I prefer the baseball sized chunks of pecan wood that you can pick up at some box stores, or find online. Or if your one of those lucky schmucks who actually has a pecan tree growing in your yard, you are at once my envy, and we should be friends. Many stores sell chips too, which work so long as you soak them good before the smoke. Anyways, place your wood directly on your coals, put the lid back on your grill, and go watch some football. Return to grill on occasion and mop the bird. Remove and rest the bird when internal temp exceeds 165. And don’t forget your drip pan to collect the drippings, as it makes a smokey gravy that will have your ancestors slobbering. Proceed to give your people the bird.

A Small Cut of Meat Poetry

The grill is doing most of the work here, thus freeing you up for the highly important business of loitering in your recliner, or if the day is adequate, your Adirondack chair out by the pit. Be encouraged to slow your day down, and repair quietly with your favorite beverage, pit-side, watching the smoke waft upwards into a beautiful, November sky. And know that for a while the world will spin without you, and that your OK with that. For grilling proper harbors no haste. Life ebbs by fast enough as it is, so let not our grills, nor our time there, know any such swiftness. Indeed, we seek to extend the moment for the moment’s sake, and in that alone, it is well with our soul.