Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Good People Love Good Barbecue

My 2013 New Years Ramble 8am 1/1/13 

What is the best BBQ? There are lots of ways to define that. For me the gold standard answer is what; you, your friends and loved ones absolutely love eating. In this internet age, spending time face to face, with those you care about sharing a great meal, is more important than ever

My basic answer is good BBQ should always be moist, tender and tasty. There are so many recipes that claim being the BEST Ribs/Brisket/Pork/Chicken in the Country/World/Galaxy/Universe. Here is the truth about those claims. If you had ten different styles of any BBQ meat (done well) and a hundred people. In all probability every style would be rated the absolute best by some people. One style would come out a winner. But only a winner for the group that liked it. The winner for you and yours is what you loved the best, not what the polling data said was best.

My philosophy has always been to teach that there is never one right answer in BBQ. I can also only ever teach and NOT give experience. A large number of people these days just want the “one” right answer/recipe/method. A young oil executive once asked his “precision” question of what one thing does a pitmaster do to cook great BBQ. At the time I told him a pitmaster is concerned with all the details. My refined answer is you need to a picky bitch about every detail. FYI I am a picky bitch just ask my loved ones. Pit masters also work to insure success either by reducing variables or using their experience to manage the variables they can’t control

There is no silver bullet. By the way hitting a fast moving werewolf at night with a handgun requires a lot of skill and experience. People spend countless thousands of hours and millions of dollars on the internet looking for the silver bullet to perfect BBQ. But these millions are often spent without experience. A perfect example of this is computer draft controllers. These modern marvels do an amazing job keeping the fire in an “airtight” smoker running at a constant temperature. They were designed for and work best with a charcoal fired smoker. They will work with a stick burner. But when they go into air starvation mode a stick burner will smoke excessively. That is the smoke coming out the smokestack will go from a near perfect thin translucent gray/blue to a thick opaque grey smoke. That thick smoke does not put a great flavor on the meat.

An even more poignant example is the money spent on rubs. High quality fresh ground salt and pepper the kind sold in disposable grinders at the warehouses makes for a great rub. I’ve beat world champions in major contests using a four part rub which can be source from any warehouse in the country. That claim just like what I teach is based on my experience cooking, competing and teaching coast to coast and all over the world.

Then there are those who will buy an expensive smoke spend a small fortune on a good education and buy inferior meat. Why people will do everything right and then forget the timeless advice the a good meal starts with good ingredients, escapes me.

You can cook great BBQ with a minimum of fuss and relatively inexpensive equipment. An education such as I teach will pay for itself many times over. Not only in money saved on ruined meat but also not subject those you care about to bad food. I’ve sold classes for husbands to thousands of wives. They all say please don’t tell him I don’t like his BBQ. So I don’t use names, I just say thousands of wives tell me they DO NOT enjoy bad BBQ. You can’t buy 99 cent brisket on sale in 2013 and expect it to be amazing or even have flavor.

So what’s the point of my rambling thoughts. There is hope. You don’t need an expensive smoker (see below.) All the information you need is on the internet. Testing all that advice will take a far more time and money than attending a BBQinstitute class (shameless self promotion). But with a decent relatively inexpensive smoker, a light touch with seasonings and smoke, decent meat and a game plan you can produce barbecue that people will love. Because good people love good BBQ.

Happy New Year!

Pitmaster Konrad “Teddy Bear” Haskins

The BBQ Institute® BBQinstitute.com

Equipment Note Below

Men are equipment obsessed. A perfect example is guns. Men who love guns will spend countless hours looking for the perfect gun. Yet attend a class taught by a wonderful old New Hampshire Police officer who happens to be an Arab American known to millions as Mas. You learn what is most important in surviving a gun fight.
  1. Mindset
  2. Tactics
  3. Training and Experience
  4. Equipment.
First I won awards with my swimming ability, then my skill with a handgun and finally and thirty nine years young with my lifetime of experience cooking. Massad Ayoob’s list of priorities for surviving a gunfight are exactly the same for cooking great BBQ.

Mas is controversial just as I can be. There in lies another secret of the great pitmasters. While some take exception to advise from teachers the smart ones without thumping their own chests listen and learn from everyone.

With that super long disclaimer here is my short list of smokers. All good enough enough to win awards, hearts and minds.

#1 Ugly Drum Smoker. The cheapest DIY option for an awesome smoke. UDS Plans, Back Slapping and Chest pounding at BBQbrethren.com

#2 If you’re not handy the Weber Smokey mountain 22” is essential a factory built UDS. The WSM came first. Support is superb at VirtualWeberBulllet.com

#3 My weapon of choice is a classic Texas offset built in Houston Texas by my friend Ritch Robin owner of GatorPit.net

#? The Ceramic Cookers. They will do any temperature perfectly, in any weather with very little charcoal consumed. The have very little capacity. I’ve owned every size and HATE the XL yes even the new ones. The place setter legs are too short on the XL.  They are super expensive and super awkward to move. While based on capacity they are the most expensive BBQ smokers out there. They are the cheapest and best wood fired pizza ovens in the world. They will cook from 200F to 1000K (caution) and put an amazing sear on a steak. If you can live with the capacity and other limitation they are world class championship winning smokers.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacon Makes Everything Better !

Bacon Makes Everything Better !

The "Bacon Explosion" has been around for a long time.  It's a baconed up fattie.  What follows looks like a bacon explosion but it has a completely different center.  

This is a bacon wrapped stuffed pork tenderloin. Although there is no reason not to do this with a beef tenderloin.  We've made a lot of bacon lattice stuffed pork tenderloins this summer in our advanced classes.  They have been extremely popular.

What's a fattie? Good Question! A fattie is simply a roll of breakfast sausage dusted with rub and smoked to an internal temp of 165°F.  My favorite is home made sausage sweetened with Maple syrup or a Jimmy Dean® Maple breakfast sausage.   Dusted with BBQ Institute® rub. You can do this in an oven but smoking brings out the best flavor. Fresh off the smoker on homemade buttermilk biscuits is sublime.  A bacon explosion is wrapping the raw sausage meat in a bacon lattice then cooking it.

For the lattice I prefer a quality dry cured.  One "secret" is after weaving your lattice cover with parchment or plastic film and roll it with a rolling pin to "set" the weave.

The recipe varies according to what looks good in the produce aisle. A very basic version is to peel and mince a head of garlic. Yes a head not a clove, adjust to suit your own tastes. Mince the garlic and sauté over gentle heat in olive oil or bacon fat. Then add a sliced onion and caramelize the onion. Remove that from the pan and 
sauté a pound of sliced mushrooms. I normally use red onions and portobello mushrooms. Then combine the onions, garlic and mushrooms.  That's good on its own as a stuffing.  Leftovers go great with eggs for breakfast.  

Then butterfly the tenderloin.  It's easy just start a half inch cut down one side.  When you get a half inch above the cutting board.  Roll the tenderloin a quater turn and repeat until it's butterflied.

The picture above is the basic mixture plus a hot pepper jack cheese. I like to season the tenderloin inside out out with rub. I used a basic rub inside and hot rub for on the outside.  My favorite rub for pork loin and tenderloin is Tones® Chipotle Southwest Seasoning, available at Sam's Club.  Pepper All from Ole Hickroy (the pit builder) is almost identical.

The version above adds sautéd or grilled asparagus and a hot wasabi cheese to the basic mixture. 

This picture has the stuffed tenderloin with the seam down once the bacon is held in place the roast will cook with the bacon lattice seam down and the tenderloin seam up keeping the stuffing from leaking out.

Here is the roast in the smoker with skewers holding the bacon in place.  These are removed before carving.

I like to smoke these at between 250°F and 275°F until the internal temp is 165°F and the bacon is crisp.

Here is how to make leftover bacon disappear near instantly.  Make "Pig Candy."  Bust bacon with rub and brown sugar.  Tie a simple overhand knot in the middle and smoke until crisp.

Enjoy and 'Que on,
Konrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Easy Dutch Oven Yeast Rolls

Easy Yeast Rolls
Slow rise scratch made rolls with yeast or sourdough will always be best.  This is a quick and easy version of yeast rolls that are far superior to anything bought at the supermarket.  

I first saw the crumb wrinkle from my buddy Ceedub.  I took it a step further by using salad dressing to add flavor and help more bread crumbs stick.

All you need is frozen dinner rolls, italian or Balsamic style salad dressing and some Italian or Garlic and Herb seasoned bread crumbs.  For this recipe I used 18 frozen bread rolls in a 14" Dutch Oven.  Any container will do and without a lid is preferable to brown the tops if cooking in a conventional oven.  If you've got a favorite scratch dinner roll recipe so much the better.

Allow the frozen dough balls to defrost separated (or they will stick together).  This is best done in your greased or non stick baking dish covered with a damp towel. If you thaw thew in the bag they will stick together and you have to roll them into balls again, no big deal.

Clean damp (not dripping wet) paper towel lining the lid

Makes a nice warm (not hot) and damp proofing (rising)
environment for the rolls
Once the rolls are defrost but before they rise,
Dip in salad dressing and then roll in bread crumbs
Allow to rise until at least doubled
BEFORE baking remove the damp paper towel!
If baking in a conventional oven follow the directions on the package.
Here the firebox was my heat source below and coals my heat source on top.  
Both surfaces were so hot you could not hold your hand 3" away for more than 2 or 3 seconds.
Bake till golden brown, You'll smell them. 
For those with a digital instant read thermometer 200°F is done.

Enjoy and "Que on,

Konrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Thin Flour Tortilla Recipe
This tortilla was cooked on an inverted Dutch Oven lid.

There are two kinds of Flour Tortillas, the thin kind and the thick kind.  Most recipe books don't define it that way.  There are two clues that determine this: 

  • If the recipe includes baking soda or powder then the recipe is for thick tortillas.  
  • Thin tortillas require no leavening, therefore no baking powder or soda is required in the recipe.

4 Cups All Purpose Flour. King Arthur Unbleached is my favorite.
1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 Cup of shortening, Lard, Bacon Fat and Crisco Regular or Butter flavor all work.  Bacon is BEST!!!
1 1/4 Cup Very Hot Water

Blend dry goods and shortening by hand, with a pastry blender or in a food processor.  Blend until the shortening has a crumb like consistency.

Add very hot water and knead until smooth and elastic.  Cover with plastic film or a wet towel, allowing it to rest for 20 minutes covered.  Divide in half and repeat until you have 16 balls.  Again allow it to rest for 20 minutes covered.  Use or refrigerate.  NOTE: Resting is important to allow the dough to relax.  

Roll very thin into a 6"~7" circle and cook right away.  If rolling up a batch ahead put plastic or wax paper between them to prevent sticking and keeping them moist.  You can drop these straight on to a hot grill, cook in a dry cast iron skillet or use the inverted lid of a Dutch Oven. Do not over cook, 60 seconds on each side is ideal. Your cooking surface should be hot enough that a drop of water will ball up and dance around.

Here is a thin tortilla puffing up before flipping

Here it is after the flip
In the background is the reasons for fresh tortillas, Beef skirt for Fajitas.

'Que on,

Konrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins

Friday, April 27, 2012

BBQ Chicken Hot Wings

Chicken Hot Wings

  • Raw Chicken Wings (Fresh or Frozen)
  • BBQ Rub
  • Bufalo Hot Wing Sauce
Suggested Sides:
Celery, Carrot Sticks, Blue Cheese dressing or the always popular alternative Ranch Dressing
Adult beverage:
Something that will stand up to spicy food and serve it cold, even the red wine should be served cold.  Many's Pale Ale, Moose Drool and Shiner Bock are all good beer choices.  Australian Shiraz is a good wine choice. One of my favorites from down under is the Boxer by Mollydooker

  • Clean cooking grate and pre-heat the grill to low (count to five with your hand 3" above the grate.) Oil the grate. 

  • For frozen wings start them straight on the grill. After 5 minutes turn and dust the warm side with rub, wait five minutes turn and dust the other side with rub.

  • Optional for Fresh or Defrosted wings marinaed in Italian salad dressing for 1 to 8 hours.  

  • For fresh/defrosted wings, toss in a bowl with rub no more than two hours before cooking. 

  • Turn every five to ten minutes until internal temp is 175°f.  Turning your back will almost always results in "perfect caramelization" aka burnt meat.

  • Toss is a mixing bowl with sauce and serve  

  • By not saucing the meat on the grill you reduce the risk of burning the meat.
Sauce Recipe:
This is the original 1964 sauce recipe for Bufalo Hot Wings.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Scratch Made Corn Bread
 Perfect with our Chili Recipe

This is perfect amount for a half baking sheet (commercial size).  For a 10" skillet or 10" Dutch Oven I'd halve the recipe.

  • 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 cups Buttermilk milk
  • 4 to 5 large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Canola Oil or Melted Butter or Melted Bacon Grease 
Yes some Southerners will say any flour or sugar constitues this be Corn Cake and I'm OK with that.  
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. 
  2. Beat eggs, Add the butter milk, and melted shortening
  3. Fold together dry and wet ingredients unti just combined do not whip or beat this is not S&M
  4. Bake in a half sheet pan at 425°F for 20-25 minutes or until bread is golden brown and tests done in the middle and both ends. Swap end for end at 10 min into baking.  For those with an instant read digital Thermometer the target temp is 200°F
Best made in a camp Dutch oven or Cast Iron skillet.  Both should be preheated before adding the batter.

'Que On,

Konrad "Teddy Bear" Haskins

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spaghetti Night

Spaghetti Night

Marinara with extra veggies and smoked pulled pork
Once a week I head over to my girlfriends house and cook. Normally but not always spaghetti in the winter. I agree that turning off the boob tube and sitting around a table is something folks should do as often as possible.

The bigger your culinary repertoire the better your barbecue in my experience. The only way this post directly relates to BBQ is that it's a great way to use left over meat. If you want to get ambitious try smoking your Italian sausage. For Moink ball fans try substituting the faux meat balls below for regular meat balls. A Moo-Oink ball is a meat ball wrapped in bacon, dusted with rub and then smoked at 300°F +/- till the bacon is crisp and the meatball has reached 165°F.

Celery, Garlic and Onions
For me Spaghetti night is semi home made. I normal buy a a loaf of Pugliese bread from Safeway. Wet the outside with water and bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes. This warms the inside and gives a nice fresh baked crust. For those that want cheesy bread I mix margerine, grated cheese and granulated Garlic into a spread. I slices from the warmed load but the chessy spread on and pop it under the broiler.

For the sauce I

Celery, Garlic, Onions, Shallots and Faux Meat Balls

Vodka, Good Black Pepper and Marinara