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):http://www.foodsaver.com/product.aspx?pid=13134. 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 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