Thursday, January 24, 2013

Some pics from my big cook

Friday, January 18, 2013

My biggest cook ever...

First off, I apologize for being off the blog for the last seven months. I smoked all summer long, up until Labor Day when I did a big smoke for about 30 people (brisket, pork, baby backs) on Saturday with the expectation that I'd be able to feed them on Monday. Alas, Hurricane Isaac had other plans for me and I was sent to Louisiana and Mississippi for a couple of weeks. My ever-supportive spouse decided that since I'd already made all the food and our friends had already been invited, she should go forward despite my absence and throw one hell of a party. They saved me about a baggie's worth. Thanks, guys.

Hurricane Sandy dealt us another blow and I spent six weeks in NJ for work there. I didn't find any good BBQ, unfortunately, but I did find absolutely the best hot dog I've ever eaten. If you're ever in Central New Jersey, along the shore, you absolutely cannot miss going to The Windmill. Hands down the best hot dog ever.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I'm becoming a much better cook in the past year since I bought my smoker.  I keep reading and keep following Twitter and keep learning new things, but I'm getting good at pork and pork ribs. So this weekend I'm trying one of my boldest experiments ever -- smoking for 50+. Each year our church hosts a hypothermia shelter for homeless folks in our area and my BBQ buddy Dave and I, along with a couple of others, volunteered to make pork for our guests on their final night with us. Originally, we thought we had more people coming and so we bought food for 80 or so. And then we were told some guests wouldn't like pork, can we make something in addition. So now we've got nearly 80 lbs of pork, and 30 pounds of turkey to deep fry. All tomorrow. Two smokers, two fryers, four guys, a lot of beer. I'll let you know how it goes.

Stuff I've learned:

1) Buy a food bagger/sealer! I bought one off Craigslist that looks like this (mine's black, not camo): I got it for $40, almost brand new. Best investment ever. Now I can smoke, vacuum seal and throw it in the freezer and we've got smoked BBQ dinner for a busy Tuesday night a couple of weeks, or a couple of months from now.

2) You absolutely CAN make your own rub at home. I'm not sure how much I'm saving because the initial investment in spices is significant. The best part is that a $6 little bottle of cayenne pepper goes a long way. This is the recipe I used. It's actually a combination of a variety of different recipes. It's not cheap, but it's amazing. I call it:

SuburbSlicker's Sublime Pork Rub

3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup Morton's kosher salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons rosemary powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne (2 if you like it hot)

3) If you've ever cursed your charcoal chimney, try this: Fill your chimney as you always would, then put it unlit on top of the side burner of your gas grill. Hit the gas and the igniter and you'll have hot coals in just a few minutes. No gathering newspaper or trying to determine which kid stole your lighter (and for what purpose) at 6 a.m. Just make sure that once your charcoal is fully lit, pull it from the gas burner to make sure those little sparks don't spark something bigger around your propane tank (mine's right under the burner, for example.)
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