Tag Archives: BBQ

Smoked Cod Tacos

Cold and raining?! Ain’t got no time for that. It’s taco night.

A little crapola weather can't keep me down

A little crapola weather can’t keep me down

It doesn’t have to be a Friday in Lent to enjoy fish at the end of the work week.

Fish tacos are quick and easy. Clean flavors, loaded with lean protein, and widely-appealing.

I put a couple cod filets from Schnuck’s on a water-soaked cedar plank, and gave each a sprinkle of Lawry’s Seasoned Salt and a light dusting of Old El Paso Taco Seasoning Mix.

Alaskan Cod makes good tacos

Alaskan Cod makes good tacos

By “light dusting” I really meant light dusting. That taco mix can be overpowering, and I want to taste the fish and the smoke. The taco mix is really meant to be a complement to the taco theme of the meal.

Instead of quickly cooking the fish by using the plank to steam and smoke the fish, I am going to let the cedar plank provide a clean platform for cooking and only some moderate smokiness. I have in the past put planked fish over semi-direct heat and let the plank char. Not this time.

How are smoked jalapenos? I guess I'll find out.

How are smoked jalapenos? I guess I’ll find out.

Instead, I offset the fish to completely indirect cooking and put a few chunks of dry mesquite wood on the coals.

After about 45 minutes, the fish was done and looked pretty amazing.

Smoke color looks great!

Smoke color looks great!

For service, I warmed some flour tortillas and made small 5 bite tacos out of the fish, along with some black beans, taco cheese, cilantro, light sour cream, and some amazingly awesome Frontera tomatillo salsa. Finish with 1/8 lime drizzled over the plate.

To warm but not toast the tortillas, I just tossed some foil over the fire and quickly flipped them around until each was ready. I just stacked them up and wrapped the pile in that same foil until service.

They taste as good as they look

They taste as good as they look

These were spectacular and the entire thing took less than an hour from start to mouth. The rich smokiness of the wood melded with the flaky fish. Cod can be oily and dry, but these morsels were far from it. Amazingly delicious.

Next time, I’ll pass on the black beans because their flavor rose up a little more than I wanted to interrupt the fish. One decent-sized filet made three heaping tacos.

Simple, easy, tasty: Three things that make this dish a winner.

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BBQ Joint Review: PM BBQ

A kid’s birthday party in Chesterfield left me with a couple hours to kill. On the way, I noticed  BBQ restaurant: PM BBQ. Instead of watching my child and others bounce around and eat pizza, I decided to give this place a shot. It’s not he’ll be unsupervised, so I can have some fun, too.

At the corner of Edison & Long in the Gumbo Flats flood plain, the crisp new facade of PM BBQ greets you.

So new and clean... is this place legit?

So new and clean… is this place legit?

Even though the place shows no sign of smoke or grime, they have some hardware to boost credibility.

When your ribbons number such that they cover all the colors of the rainbow, you might be doing it right

When your ribbons number such that they cover all the colors of the rainbow, you might be doing it right

Let’s talk briefly about prejudice. One of my preconceptions of high-end BBQ restaurants includes old buildings, usually either (1) extremely old & original location, or (2) very old building that’s been reclaimed. Examples of the former are Fiorella’s Jack Stack in Martin City, MO, Rendezvous in Memphis, or Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City. Examples of the latter include (previously-reviewedHendrick’s in St. Charles, MO or Pappy’s in St. Louis, MO. Each building has character and charm, and none is in a shiny new building.

Well, as history has shown, not all prejudices hold true. PM BBQ is in a nice new building, and it turns out their BBQ is pretty damn good.

Having never been there before, I sought counsel from the kid at the counter. He advised that brisket sandwich is one of the best things on the menu for first time customers. Additionally, I went with beans as a side, since that’s a decent measure of BBQ prowess, and fries because I was in the mood for some french fries.

Brisket lunch platter

Brisket lunch platter

That’s an impressive portion of meat, which is a good thing because I’m hungry and I love brisket.

Before I came to PM BBQ, I phoned a friend who works in Chesterfield for some input. He didn’t answer, but called me back after lunch. The report was that PM BBQ is the best restaurant in the Valley by far, and brisket is the way to go. I have to agree with his assessment.

Behold the care taken in preparing this cow

Behold the care taken in preparing this cow

The brisket is thin sliced, certainly thinner than I can cut mine without a rotary meat slicer. As you can see from the photo, there’s a nice dark pink smoke line and plenty of peppery spices on it. Extremely tender, very very moist. I’m a little bit blown away by this brisket, and I don’t say that lightly. This is an impressive portion of meat, from the quantity to the quality.

It’s clear to me that significant skill went into this brisket, and as an amateur constantly seeking to better my own brisket, I can really appreciate that effort and skill.

I do have one negative comment, though, and it relates to the bun. I got a dry (not stale) yellow bun that overpowers the meat and makes my bites dry, so that you need to add sauce. Adding sauce then masks the flavor and texture of the brisket, so why go to a really good BBQ place in the first place? No bread needed, so you should just discard it if you get the brisket sandwich, or take it home and feed the birds.

Speaking of sauces, there are four on the table.

4x sauce

4x sauce

Carolina, Golden Mustard, Spicy and Sweet. I’ll review each in turn from right to left.

Carolina – Nice and vinegary, as you would expect from a Carolina sauce. Unlike many sauces that call them selves Carolina, this one is legit. Commercial “Carolina” sauces are more regionally-inspired than the genuine article. It’s very thin and nicely spicy, without a hint of tomato. I’m a huge fan, and the yellow bun absorbed it well.

Golden Mustard – Ah, the step brother of Carolina sauce! There are truly two kinds of Carolina sauce, one being the vinegary eastern North Carolina discussed above, and the South Carolina mustard. This is the latter, and it’s powerful. I don’t have much experience with this type of BBQ accompaniment, but PM’s has a distinct flavor that shows inspiration from or relation to the Asian mustard you get in little packets with your General Tso’s chicken. I liked the consistent texture and solid heat profile, but this was not my favorite. That’s more of a testament to the strength of the others and my virginity to this kind of sauce than an indictment on the PM BBQ Golden Mustard sauce. Perhaps a resident of the Palmetto State would be beside himself with pleasure at this sauce.

Spicy – Good, but not spicy. I was waiting for spicy… Perhaps this town has a bastardized BBQ sauce palate because of all the watered down flavorless goop that passes for pork steak sauce. If you drink nothing but Bud Light all the time, then a Schlafly tastes like a malty porter. If you only put skim milk on your raisin bran, then whole tastes like heavy whipping cream. And if you only dunk your meat in a slurry of Maull’s and beer, then normal sauce with a modicum of zest is “spicy”. I know spicy, and this isn’t it. (And, yes, I did swirl the bottle a few times to arouse any sediment and get a consistent sauce pour.)

Sweet – We have a winnah! Excellent sauce, great spice flavors without a very sugary pop. Perfect sauce to put on the brisket, and I used it to clean up my french fries. Wonderful sauce.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tout the beans, which were wonderful. I counted three kinds of beans, and a few nice big chunks of pork with some short ribbons of onion. The beans came out very hot and had a nice twinge of spice, coupled nicely with a very subtle sweetness. The tenderness was spot on, and I enjoyed the thickness of the sauce. I took a bite to sample, then destroyed half of my serving before getting to the brisket.

The french fries were french fries. Thicker than shoestring, they came out piping hot. What can I say… I was just in the mood for some fries. I’m told after the fact that I should have gotten the Sweet Corn Spoonbread. Live and learn. I did find that my fries were oversalted, but it’s hard to complain when the rest of the meal rocked as it did.

With my meal, I knocked back some iced tea. They do have bottled beer in the soda cooler, but it was barely noon…

PM BBQ turned out to be an amazing restaurant with intense credibility based on the strength of the brisket. I’m definitely returning, and not just when I find myself way the hell out in west Chesterfield.

Epilogue

It only took 40 minutes to eat. That gave me tons of time to kill after lunch. I got in my car and looked at the storefront before me. Whaddaya know! The Chesterfield International Tap House is next door to PM BBQ. I think I know how to kill some time.

How many beers do they have on tap? A few…

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

I was thirsty and not in the mood to think, so I ordered a known favorite: Charleville Half Wit Wheat.

Charleville Half-Wit

Charleville Half-Wit

That beer was so good, I went with the bartender’s suggestion of Charleville Nitro ESB.

Charleville Nitro ESB

Charleville Nitro ESB

All this beer eventually sent me to the restroom, where I saw this on the stall partition:

Everything comes full circle

Everything comes full circle

A fitting end to my Chesterfield adventure, among the hundreds of beer and restaurant stickers that plastered the walls. I’ll be back to iTap soon, if not this location then another.

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Dreams Do Come True

You’re undoubtedly familiar with this item:

Many McCalories

Many McCalories

I’m not much of a McDonald’s fan, unless we’re in a pinch on a long road trip and low on options. Despite the utterly non-realistic and highly deceptive name McRib, I strongly doubt any actual pork rib meat makes it into this sandwich. Let’s remediate that atrocity.

Start with some baby back pork ribs, smoked for four hours with apple wood. Pre-smoke, I added a bunch of brown sugar, pepper, garlic salt, paprika, etc. rub and removed the concave membrane.

REAL rib meat, sandwich-bound

REAL rib meat, sandwich-bound

After four hours of smoke, the ribs were set for a three hour tenderizing foil wrap, enveloped in some PBR and Pappy’s BBQ sauce.

Well on the way to glory!

Well on the way to glory!

Finally, I let the unwrapped ribs rest for about 10 minutes. I flipped it over onto the convex side and gently popped the rib bones out of the very tended pork rib slab.

The boneless sheet of rib meat went on to a sourdough hoagie that had been loaded on both halves with Gates BBQ sauce. I diced half a sweet onion, and layered on some lengthwise-cut dill pickles.

If this doesn't win the Nobel Pork Prize, I don't know what will.

If this doesn’t win the Nobel Pork Prize, I don’t know what will.

Fold. Cut. Consume.

(gasp!)

(gasp!)

It was exceptionally messy and delicious.

I plan some variations in the future. Perhaps I’ll toast the bread, add some cheese, and maybe a few scoops of slaw on top of the pickles. Who can say. I’ll let my conscience decide.

Messily devour

Messily devour

I should have made more than one sandwich – it went fast.

No, it’s not a McRib. It’s infinitely better. If you’re down with shoulder, heart, and tripe reprocessed into meaty loaves that are shipped to McDonald’s and re-heated by some teenager who flunked the Taco Bell entrance exam, doused in over-sweet sauce from a plastic jug on a mass-produced bun… power to you.

If, instead, you want real rib meat on your sandwich… , not a McRib but a RealRib, then give this a try. Worth the effort for sure.

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Moo Moo on the BBQ

Bluebell the Cow… remember her?

Moo?

Moo?

Bluebell was kind enough in her passing to leave me a special cut of beef called the Brisket. Thanks!

Brisket is merely one of many delicious Hunks O’ Cow

Besides the two rib steaks we tried on a cedar planked fish night, the brisket is my first real beef treat from Bluebell. It’s a favorite of mine, and I’m super excited to sample some local grass fed beef.

Bluebell beginning her journey to my tummy

Bluebell beginning her journey to my tummy

I started the brisket not with my usual mustard-based paste, but with something a little milder that will let me taste the grassiness and richness of the beef. The rub was simple: brown sugar, garlic salt, italian seasonings, seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, and paprika.

The brisket began fat side down to try and drip off a few extra fatty bits, though the rural butcher did a really good job of trimming the fat. If I wanted, to baste it instead, perhaps the fat would begin on the upside.

After four-ish hours of smoking indirectly in the Weber 22″ kettle with a bunch of cherry wood chunks, the brisket was ready for its foil wrap.

Smoky goodness!

Smoky goodness!

My son actually wants the family to open a BBQ restaurant, and for us to call it Moo Moo on the BBQ. That’s certainly not happening, but he gave me a clever title. The simple wonders of the mind of a 6 year old.

Foil, do your magic

Foil, do your magic

Within the foil, all over the brisket, is some mild Kansas City style BBQ sauce and a little dash of PBR for steaming and tenderizing. It needed about three more hours, with some 180 degree rotations for good measure, and a probe thermometer inserted.

Though the meat was technically “done” a couple hours into the smoking when it reached 150-ish, the foil wrap brought the meat to a steady 190-ish for the final hour or so.

For good measure, since I am making big brisket sandwiches, I smoked a pound of bacon.

Nearly 2/3 made it inside!

Nearly 2/3 made it inside!

Bacon finished, I prepared to assemble my brisket sandwiches. I have some whole wheat buns, provolone cheese, pickles, the aforementioned bacon, and some spicy BBQ sauce I bought from Ace Hardware that morning when I had to buy a toilet auger (don’t ask; total child-related nightmare).

First, the brisket had to rest for at least ten minutes. The muscle had to relax, and all the excited beef juices needed to remain in the tissue when I cut the meat, instead of spilling all over the cutting board.

Voila!

Voila!

I’ll state with a little hubris that I am getting pretty good at making brisket on the grill, and this might be my best one yet. Yes, you could credit the cow and/or cattle farmer. And, yes, this would probably pale in comparison to some actual competitive and/or professional brisket, but give me this little victory.

It was delicious, for the record. Thanks, Bluebell (and mom, for the XMas gift)!

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Marinade Injected Pork Shoulder

Experimentation is at the heart of this blog, or at least as close to the heart as beer and meat. I’ve never used a marinade injector before, but I’ve heard good things.

I’m now officially a hypodermic needle user.

Don't share this needle

Don’t share this needle

Lots of BBQ blogs espouse their own special marinades. Most include lots of liquid, with saltiness, sweetness, some kind of liquor or beer or wine, and often some pureed spices and perhaps fruitiness (like juice).

I went simple: PBR and some honey apple BBQ glaze my wife bought for me on impulse. I made a 50/50 mixture and liberally injected the shoulder all over from all angles – down to the bone, through the fat, along the sides, through the top… everywhere. I also consumed the rest of that PBR, then several others.

As I injected, bulbous sections of pork protruded. Each puncture wound oozed marinade, some more than others. In all, I injected the hell out of this meat. This butt got stabbed more times than a [insert horribly tasteless joke here].

Onto that went a simple rub of brown sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, seasoned salt, & Italian seasonings.

Will we see the wonders of a marinade injection?

Will we see the wonders of a marinade injection?

And the whole thing went on a Weber 22.5″ kettle over indirect heat with cherry wood chunks. I put a thermometer probe through an onion near the meat to get an idea of the grill temperature. Even a conservative amount of coals gave me a hot grill, at or near 300 degrees. That’s a full 100 degrees higher than my typical drum smoker runs.

The answer to "What, what, in the butt?" is apparently: Syringe full of sauce and beer

The answer to “What, what, in the butt?” is apparently: Syringe full of sauce and beer, and a thermometer probe

About 3-4 hours later (who can say with any specificity – it was an 18 pack of PBR), the shoulder was foil wrapped with some BBQ sauce and a sprinkle of some more beer.

Percolating pork

Percolating pork

What a wonderful smell comes from a wrapped pork shoulder. Lots of bubbling, cracking going on in there.

Finally, a few more hours later, perhaps after 7 total, I pulled the meat off the grill and opened it to let it rest.

The fruits of my labor

The fruits of my labor

The end result, as usual, looks wonderful. Great smell & color. I’m excited.

What I notice in trying to shred the shoulder was that the meat was separating in chunks rather than typical shreds. I figure what happened was all the injected moisture boiled and steamed and percolated within the meat, which not only tenderized, moistened, and flavored the flesh itself, but also broke down fat and connective tissue. This lets the meat break into hunks of succulent sweet pork, instead of shreddings.

Chunks of shredded pork

Chunks of shredded pork

It was delectable! I’m thrilled with how it turned out, and I’m definitely making this again. Flavor injection is part of the BBQ regular rotation. Yes, I’m now a habitual needle user.

Leftovers? BBQ pork pizza the next day.

Enjoy the same meat twice

Enjoy the same meat twice

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BBQ Baked Beans

Incomplete Truth: I won a BBQ competition this past Saturday

More Complete Truth, But Missing Some Context: I won first place in BBQ Baked Beans and fourth in BBQ Ribs at the annual parish Rib Run event.

Reality: I won first place in BBQ Baked Beans in a field of four competitors, and fourth in BBQ Ribs in a field of eight. The other beans were… not good. The guy who finished fifth in ribs had never made them before.

Yes, last Saturday was the annual OLP Rib Run. You start with a 5K in the morning (and I mean the royal “you”… I sure as shit didn’t run a 5K) and then a rib and bean competition the rest of the day.

Incidentally, I’d like to point out that this is the very same event that I won two years ago by parboiling my ribs. I’ve learned the error of my ways and set out to make actual competition-style St. Louis cut ribs. I have to say that they were really good, though I could have sauced them a little more. The tenderness was nearly perfect and the seasoning was spot on. I didn’t have much of a smoke line and I failed to garnish my box. The first place guy is a pro BBQer; second place is a caterer who baked her ribs in an oven (don’t get me started on that); and, third place was a very skilled and experienced rib BBQer.

Who did I beat? Well, let’s see. Fifth place went to a guy who had literally never made ribs before. He showed up at 12:30pm with an 18″ Weber kettle and a rib rack in it’s original packaging… a rib rack too big for his grill. He wound up setting the lid on the rack and wrapping the kettle in a column of foil to get a seal. Seventh place went to a guy who made a sauce out of blueberry jam, chipotles and stout beer. Sounds interesting, but the judges didn’t seem to like it.

So fourth place is unimpressive given the field. Plus, adding insult to injury, over a dozen people came by asking about or looking to get a sample of the apple parboiled ribs that I no longer make for competitions. Lots of disappointment.

On to the beans! I started with olive oil, half a chopped white onion, and minced garlic in a sauce pot over hot coals.

A good start to many dishes!

Once that got nice and brown, in went a chopped pound of uncooked hickory smoked bacon.

 

Bacon makes everything better

I learned from prior bean experiences that you don’t need a heavy hand with the brown sugar. These beans have a similar beginning to my brussels sprouts.

Once this got brown and the bacon began to crisp, I added red beans along with two PBRs for a reducing liquid. The prior night, I water-soaked a dry pound of red beans and changed out the water a few times, careful to rinse out any gunk.

Beans beginning their magical journey

At this point, I mixed in about a 1/2 cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon or two of full flavor molasses, and a small squeeze of Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce.

Every 15-20 minutes, this concoction needed a good stirring. I didn’t want the beans to burn and I wanted even saturation of the beans. As needed, several more PBRs were added. The fire was maintained a few times with fresh coals as well.

In parallel to these beans, I happened to make a massive 6-7 lb. brisket on the smoker. Before foil wrapping it, after four hours of smoking, I carved off the burnt ends from three sides, chopped them up, and tossed them in the beans as well.

Eventually, the beans thickened and darkened.

Finished product, worthy of beating inferior competition beans

For service, we were each given six little plastic ramekins and lids. I placed a generous slice of brisket along the side and bottom and a scoop of beans on top.

In the space next to me, where the eventual rib winner was cooking, I wandered over to spy on my competition’s beans. This guy had four pork shoulder bones, pork shoulder meat, carrots, celery, onion and stock all reducing in a cast iron dutch oven over a propane flame. He mixed in some navy beans and tons of seasoning. The aromas were unreal, and I didn’t feel very good about winning next to him.

However, he had a little problem. His son had gone to New Orleans and returned with some local seasonings, spices, rubs, etc. for his father. Maybe seven or eight tablespoons of some kind of seasoning went into the beans. We all sampled it and… woah. About the saltiest thing I’ve ever tasted. In a panic, he added cubed potatoes to soak up the salt, but it was too late. The beans were hyper-salty and I could only manage a few bites. This guy came in second.

Third place? A team that literally opened two cans of Bush’s Baked Beans and poured them into an aluminum pan on the grill. I can’t even fathom what the fourth (and last) place team did.

So, pretty much by default, I won this trophy.

Not worth bragging about after all

I took the photo from a down angle and close up to make it look more impressive, though it’s kind of pathetic given the context of how I won.

On the plus side, the parish made some money and I spent the day grilling, eating, and drinking beer with a bunch of guys who share my passion for grilling, eating, and drinking beer. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

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Kosher Bison Short Ribs

Who doesn’t love an excellent lunch during the work week? I am partial to Kohn’s Kosher Deli in Creve Coeur, MO. Even a goy like me can enjoy a hearty nosh from time to time.

Besides their epic corned beef, I am partial to sweet kugel (essentially a bread pudding made with noodles) and kasha (some grains and pasta, with a little warm gravy). I can’t say I’m much of a knish guy, though. Still, my recent lunch there was amazing.

Kohn’s Corned Beef Lunch

You need to realize how amazingly huge and succulent the corned beef sandwich was.

My amazing lunch

Kohn’s claim to fame is purportedly their “killer” pastrami, but my strong Irish genetics tell me that their corned beef is wildly superior. I’m no schmuck and I’m not being shmaltzy, but try the corned beef already! Oy vey!

While my meal settled, I lingered at the Kohn’s kosher meat counter. A guy in a Hartford Whalers hat told me that Kohn’s was the only place in the country where I could buy kosher bison. How the hell could I not buy a couple pounds of bison short ribs? (Even if it is expensive as all hell.)

Early on Sunday afternoon, I put the two 1 lb strips of kosher bison meat in an aluminum lasagna pan filled with 2 PBRs and a few sprigs of rosemary & some fresh basil, both from my garden, along with a bunch of whole peppercorns. The whole set went over semi-direct heat on the Weber 22″ grill.

Don’t kvetch. It will turn out okay.

They certainly looked good at the 30 minute mark, when I gave them a turn. It’s really difficult for me to describe via this blog just how delectable this smelled.

Woah, Nelly, do these smell good.

Finally, after an hour braising, I pulled them. The short ribs went over indirect heat on the far side of the grill from the coals and I added a bunch of the Ozark Sugar Maple wood chunks to the fire. Though the wood was dry, it still produced an ample amount of smoke without burning.

I handed out copious coatings of Jack Stack BBQ sauce and left it alone for about an hour.

Bison looking good

All of my internet pre-BBQ diligence said that you should treat bison the same as beef. What I would later learn (from sampling) was that I should have treated these like pork and wrapped them in foil to tenderize!

Still, the one hour product looked amazing.

So close to the finish line!

The final product was savory, sweet, smoky… everything was perfect except they weren’t very tender. I dare say they were a little tough! Dammit.

Finished and ready for this goy’s belly. Oy vey!

Disappointing though it may have been in the tenderness department, the short ribs were phenomenal on depth of flavor. They were super-easy to make.

Next time, I will give them a foil wrap over semi-direct heat and let them tenderize with the sauce and maybe some liquid to finish them off. I don’t want them to be too tender such that they are mushy and the bones fall out, but there has to be some kind of bison happy medium.

Kosher BBQ is a new avenue for me. (Technically, the bison was surrounded by non-kosher catfish and very non-kosher pork bratwurst, but who’s keeping score.) I will head back to Kohn’s soon to get some more bison… they sell bison brisket, by the way!

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BBQ Braised and Smoked Beef Short Ribs

You need to download the Weber Grills app. I was gifted some organic corn-fed beef short ribs by my most excellent rural uncle and aunt, and I turned to the Weber app for guidance. Braise, smoke, and grill said the app. Sure thing.

Not For Sale? Approved for consumption, though.

I went down to the backyard veggie garden in search of some home-grown spice and tracked down some jalapenos and other miscellaneous peppers.

Spicy!

I chopped up the jalapenos (and washed off the seeds), then tossed it in a braising liquid consisting of red wine, Miller High Life, sage, rosemary, basil, Lawry’s seasoned salt, sea salt, and a little vegetable oil. That all went in a pot on the Weber 22″ grill over semi-direct heat. In went the meat.

Braising is not really parboiling, is it?

After about 15 minutes, I flipped the short ribs in the pot and gave them another 15 minutes or so.

While at my local Ace Hardware, I came across a couple goodies!

Got wood?

Jack Stack is my favorite KC-area BBQ restaurant, bar none, and I had four years to try them all. They make something called the Martin City Mayor sandwich… holy hell. If you ever want to wow someone, though, get the burnt ends and a tower of onion rings. Atheists will see Jesus.

Anywho, after some braising, I let the short ribs smoke indirectly with the Ozark Sugar Maple wood (having been soaked in water for an hour or so, of course).

Braised, smoking

Every 10-15 minutes or so, I would re-braise the meat in the sauce. Many dunks were needed.

Braised, smoked, dunked

Now would be a good time for a beer. How about this one?

Trout Slayer

Wow, this is an awesome beer. Not quite the best canned beer I’ve ever had, but damned close. And it’s a Whale, from Montana no less!

Back to the BBQ… I gave each short rib segment a hearty coating of the Jack Stack sauce, and then returned it to the indirect heat. A total of 30-4o minutes indirect heat will more than finish the short ribs.

Yes, some other meat snuck onto the grill.

So maybe some pork burgers and a huge corn-fed beef steak made it onto the grill as well. That steak was EPIC, by the way. (Also part of the uncle / aunt frozen meat gift set.)

The verdict on the beef short ribs… fatty as all hell. The parts of the meat that we managed to pull were very tender and flavorful, but there was so much fat, both marbleized and in chunks, that it was hard to navigate. I was impressed with the meat itself, but my kids were hacking around fat while eating the meat.

This cooking method may work for some kosher lamb ribs (foreshadowing) or other meat. I just may not sink cash into beef short ribs anytime soon, particularly when so many other cuts provide leaner, more tender meat on the BBQ. Still, what I ate was delicious and I was super-grateful for free meat.

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Beer Can Chicken

When I told my two older kids (ages 6 and 4) that I was going to make chicken on the BBQ by sticking a PBR up a chicken’s butt, they thought one of two things: “Dad is lying” or “That is awesome”. Either way, they were super-psyched to see me finally put one of my BBQ-themed Fathers’ Day gifts to good use.

Such a simple design

I went with a super simple rub of brown sugar, paprika, garlic salt, seasoned salt, sage, rosemary, and cayenne pepper.

Sweet, savory, and spicy

I cracked open one of my Schlafly Pumpkin Ales to help me along. It’s like drinking a pumpkin pie, if the baker had a very heavy hand with the pumpkin pie spice and he also made it high alcohol. Yet another fancy sippin’ beer from Schlafly.

Download the Schlafly beer app

I discarded the neck and guts, then coated the chicken in and out with the rub. Before the bad beer anal probe, I tossed in some garlic cloves that could sautee and add a little extra flavor.

Ready for chicken

On went Mrs. Cluck.

Don’t mind this. This is doctor’s orders.

And then promptly onto the BBQ pit over semi-direct heat, breast side to the coals.

Chicken and corn… simple yet satisfying

After 30 minutes, I had charred the hell out of the breast skin. No matter, since I don’t eat the skin. Perhaps a more controlled burn next time. I rotated 180 degrees and continued.

Beer can juices steaming nicely

Why let a healthy corn and chicken meal go unchecked? I made up some Brussels sprouts on the stove top… quartered and sauteed with a pound of chopped bacon, half stick of butter, and half a diced onion of course. It cooks in less than an hour and makes an amazing side dish.

An exceptionally unhealthy veggie

Finally, the chicken was ready to come off the grill for service after about an hour and 15 minutes or so, having been verified with a few thermometer readings in the breast meat.

PBR suppository – not FDA approved

This is as simple as it gets. You don’t really even need a chicken can rack. You can just jam the can up there and make a tripod with the chicken legs and the can, but I prefer the stability.

What a wonderful dinner, another hit with the kids. It was super moist throughout, and the meat was tender and flavorful. Hopefully they don’t think sticking beer cans up butts is acceptable in any other animal application.

Speaking of other animals, I’m sorry to report that Samantha moved on to Doggie Heaven in mid-June, way ahead of her time. It was a very sad time for us, something I didn’t really feel like mourning publicly when it happened. She could no longer negotiate steps, puked after she ate, couldn’t squat to pee, etc. and was just miserable. She was the only dog I ever had and the best dog I’ve ever known.

It took two months, but the kids finally broke my resolve and we picked another puppy up from the pound. Meet the newest Simpson, Buddy the Dog.

Woof

Buddy isn’t just doing a Jeffrey Leonard impression for the photo. He really does always have one ear perked up and the other folded down. One Labrador ear and one Shepherd ear… perfect for a mutt born to a stray mom who we found at the Humane Society. We are trying to hold off on people food (as in BBQ scraps) for as long as possible. The kids seem to have taken a shine to him, though.

Someone loves their new puppy

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Grilled Chicken With Escabeche

Rick Bayless is a favorite TV chef in the Simpson house. If we can ever get back to Chicago, a visit to Frontera will be on the agenda. In lieu of a road trip, why not try out a BBQ recipe inspired by Chef Bayless?

Besides, having just entered as a competitor in the Backyard BBQ Bash, I need to practice grilling chicken. Chicken thighs are a resilient, succulent piece of chicken. That in mind, Chef Bayless has a grilled chicken recipe on his website.

I started with a couple green chilies from my garden, a bulb’s worth of unpeeled garlic cloves, and some whole peppercorns all in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat.

Many great things start with garlic

Once toasted, I peeled and smooshed up the garlic, along with the peppercorns and chilies to make a lumpy paste for the chicken thighs.

Garlic & pepper paste

In the meantime, following Chef Bayless’ recipe for the escabeche sauce, I toasted three large Anaheim peppers , peeled them, and then cooked them in a non-stick skilled with half a chopped white onion, chicken broth, apple cider vinegar, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Nearly escabeche

The only omission from his recipe was the pickled red onions, since I wanted more of a salsa verde flavor with the acidity of the vinegar without the heavy saltiness of the pickled onions. It simmered for a while, and I would thin it out lightly with some broth and vinegar as it thickened.

According to the super-accurate Wikipedia website, Mexican-style Escabeche is an acidic and peppery presentation of meat. It sounds like it can be a loosely-defined term that covers many types of sauces, particularly with respect to the regional influence.

In parallel to this entire adventure, I decided to crack open my home brew kit and make some brown ale. After cooking it all down, I had to wait for the wort to chill enough for the yeast. Combined with the garlic, peppers, onions, etc., the brewing beer aromas made for a very delightful scent throughout the house.

Wort, pre-yeast… beer in a few weeks

I put about two thirds of the paste onto the chicken thighs, with the other third going into the escabeche sauce.

Chicken thighs

Each went on the grill over semi-direct heat, skin and paste side up.

Twenty minutes later or so, I flipped the chicken to skin side down.

Nearly complete!

Plating is simple. The sauce is thick and glorious.

Grilled chicken with escabeche, plated

The pepper and onion sauce was wonderful. The tartness and acidity of the vinegar cut the spice from the peppers and peppercorns, while the texture of the onions and peppers was reminiscent of a chunky yet smooth verde salsa. This sauce alone would work on tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc.

You might think that chicken with a garlic paste on it would be overwhelming, but it provided a mellow, savory flavor. (I don’t eat chicken skin anyway.) It was moist and delicious, and even my kids ate it.

Epilogue: The next day we made quesadillas with the pepper sauce and pulled chicken, along with Mexican cheese blend, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a wheat tortilla. After 15 minutes in the oven… Exquisite.

Chicken quesadilla with verde sauce

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