BBQ Gallery – III

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Here it is! The third installment in my popular BBQ Gallery series. Enjoy! Advertisements

BBQ 101 – Pulled Pork

Homemade coleslaw and pulled pork sandwich. Ah yeh…

Pork butt is a fantastic piece of meat. It’s quite a tough cut, with a lot of collagen (and fat), which makes it perfect for low and slow BBQ. If you can’t get pork butt where you live, you can try a boned-out ham. However, the best cut for this is the pork butt which is essentially the upper part of the pork shoulder ham cut, here in Norway not a regular cut, but when I tell my butcher I want the upper part of the ham, basically the shoulder-blade, with all the meat and fat on it, I get the right thing. Keeping the bone in there helps the meat become more juicy because the bones contains gelatine, so I always get bone-in when I can. Gives you that lip-smacking goodness feel you get from good ribs. Guess that’s why gelatine is used a lot for making candy, huh… That goes for any meat – bone-in = better. Talk to your butcher and show him some charts and google images, and I’m sure you’ll get it right. Now, to get a historical fact out of the way, they’re not called butts because they’re from the butt (because they’re from the shoulder end of the pig really..), but because this cut was stored in special barrels known as butts, in the olden days. Read more on Wikipedia.

Pork butts ready for pullin’

This is not a good place to start for the novice griller, but if you think you’ve got indirect grilling and temperature control on your kettle or smoker down, you should try it. Pork butt is some of the best eats to ever come out of a BBQ, and it’s a cheap cut, which enables you to feed tons of people for little money. Time for a party, in other words. Let’s get to it.

Serving suggestion:
I serve this dish in a very traditional manner, on homemade hamburger buns, with a creamy coleslaw, a basic Eastern North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and some pickled gherkins. Don’t make it complicated, the meat should be the star.

Total time: 10-14 hours (prep starts the day before)
Skill level: Intermediate/Expert
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone (some coals on one side, large drip pan filled with water under the meat)
Grill temperature: About 120-140 degrees centigrade (250-285F)

You’re going to need:

  • Time, I usually start around 6-7 AM when I do this and we eat around 7-8 PM. A great excuse to drink beer and “mind the bbq” all day, in other words. Kinda like fishing or golf in that regard (dads will know what I mean…)
  • 2 pork butts (I always make two, because that’s what I have room for on my kettle. Pulled pork freezes well, so if I have leftovers, that just means my wife is going to be happy for the next few weeks eating pulled pork sandwiches..)
  • 1 cup of your favourite all-round spice rub
  • Some yellow American mustard (to be used as a glue)
  • 1-2 bags of charcoal briquettes (make sure you get good ones with no chemicals and food starch as a binder)
  • 4-5 cups of wood smoking chips (I like to mix hickory and some mesquite for pulled pork, read more about smoke wood here. Apple wood is also great)
  • A notebook and a pen, for taking notes during the process
  • An instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen, or a leave-in probe style thermometer

Pork butt, rubbed and ready to go

How you do it, the night before:

  • Prep should ideally start the day before. Cut the skin off the butts unless your butcher did it, but leave a good thick layer of fat on the meat
  • Lay out some lengths of plastic wrap on your workspace, and put a pork butt on there. Put a thin layer of yellow mustard on it, and apply generous amounts of spice rub all around it. I use about 0.5 cup for each butt
  • Wrap in several layers of plastic wrap, and repeat.
  • I store my butts overnight in the fridge. It’s (almost) always a good idea to room temper your meat before it goes on the grill, as long as you’re able to do it in a safe, hygienic manner. However, if you want to maximize your smoke penetration and smoke ring size, you should go straight from the fridge on this one. Experienced BBQ’ers tell me the smoke ring only happens when the meat is below 60 degrees centigrade (140F)

How you do it, cooking day:

  • Taking notes is paramount if you want to learn

    Fire up your chimney starter with 20 briquettes (this is based on my 22.5″ Weber kettle, and your mileage and/or method may vary on other grills and smokers)

  • In the meantime, put a briquette basket on one side of the grill only, and a big water pan covering the whole middle part of the grill. Why water you say? The mass of water (I use a stainless steel pan from Ikea that holds about 4-5 liters or one US gallon) helps me maintain a steady temperature inside the kettle, because water stores (in this case) heat pretty well. It also helps the meat retain its moisture during the long cook by increasing the general moisture in the cooking environment.
  • When your briquettes are white hot, put them in the briquette basket you put on the one side of the grill.
  • Put two smokebombs (a handful of soaked wood chips wrapped in aluminium foil) on the briquettes. Putting them out towards the edge of the fire makes them last longer. Wait 5-10 minutes until they start smoking. Replace these as often as you please once they are smoked out. This is especially important the first 4 hours, after that the meat won’t really soak up the smoky flavours anymore.
  • Put the grate on, pork butts on the grate away from the fire, and put the lid on
  • Next is 10-12 hours of temperature watch. You should try to adjust your temperature using only the bottom vent(s) on your grill. The top one should stay at least 50% open. If you close the top one too much, you can get a soot buildup, which will not taste nice.
  • Eventually, usually after 4-6 hours you may run into something BBQ’ers call “the stall” – The temp of the pork butt will stabilize or plateau at about 68-70 degrees C (154-158F) – sometimes it will even drop a little. This can go on for hours and really f up your dinner schedule. Read up on the stall in this great article, it’s got useful, common sense information you need to be aware of if you do low and slow.
  • A lot can be said on how to do this on a kettle style grill, but it should be possible. However, there are a lot of factors that come into play when doing a long cook on a kettle or smoke. Wind. Rain. Sun. Shade. Air temperature. Humidity. Which is what makes this fun, and exciting, and a skill that is learned from experience.
  • If it gets too hot, I take my tongs and dump a briquette or two right in the water pan. You can take them out too of course, just don’t put them on your wooden deck…
  • If it gets too cold, you might need more briquettes. I put in 6-8 unlit briquettes every hour when I do this. If you get a strange dip in temp and really need to knock it up quickly, you can use unsoaked wood chips or chunks, or you can put on some lump charcoal which burns a lot hotter than briquettes. Just be patient and don’t overdo it.
  • I will not go on in lengths on all the different ways to get there, you shold keep a log of times, kettle lid temp and meat temp, so you’ll have something to learn from for your next cook. The important part is to have fun, and reach a target temp of about 87-90 degrees centigrade (that’s 190-195F). The other important part, is to get there slowly.
  • If you get to the target temp too early, don’t worry. Wrap the meat in aluminium foil, and a couple of kitchen towels, and put it all in a cooler, and it will stay warm enough for hours.
  • When you’re ready to serve, it’s time to pull the pork. If you did everything right, it

    Two butts, a ham and a cow chest

    should be easily pullable by hand. Here’s a neat tip, get some thin carpenter’s gloves from your local hardware store, and buy some vinyl gloves one size up at the supermarket. Put the builder’s gloves on first and then the vinyl gloves (duh!), and you will be able to pull two pork butts without burning off your fingers (I’ve tried, not fun). If it’s not easy to pull by hand, you took it off the grill prematurely. Don’t worry, use a knife to assist you, it should still taste great. If it does not taste great, you have failed, and consequently brought shame upon your house and family.

  • Once all the pork is pulled, drench it in the North Carolina style vinegar sauce, and serve. Enjoy the taste of a fantastic dish, knowing it tastes even better for you, because you’ve been outside working the BBQ all day. NICE!

BBQ Gallery – II

Last week’s escapades in grilling and BBQ here at BBQ Viking’s house

BBQ Viking Sliders with caramelized onions

Sliders, homemade chipotle mayo, shakey taters and caramelized onions

These sliders are tasty, juicy (even when you have to cook them through), and are real popular with the kids. They’re easy to make too, and require only a quick sear on the grill. You could always buy some slider buns, but I really suggets making your own, see my recipe for buns here. I realize some of you are going to find it extremely controversial that I put bread in my sliders. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. I mean it. If you grind your own beef, and have a hot enough grill to get a sear on these while they’re still pink in the middle, you can skip the bread. But I often have to use storebought ground beef, and that means it has to be cooked all the way through. That’s where the bread comes in, by soaking up the juices and fat, it makes these sliders a real, juicy treat.

Time: 60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: Direct
Grill temperature: About 250 degrees centigrade  (480F)
Equipment: Hickory wood chips for smoke

Serve with:
Homemade chipotle mayo
Homemade slider buns
Shakey potatoes (recipe to come)

Sliders and Texas style BBQ sauce

You’ll need to get hold of:
Ground beef, about 500 grams makes about 15 sliders
2 slices of bread
4 tbsp of your favorite, preferrable homemade, BBQ sauce. I used Rocket Fuelled Bull BBQ Sauce
Some meltable cheese (I prefer orange cheddar)
2 large yellow onions
2 tbsp butter

How you do it:

  • Have a hot grill waiting, for this I just cover the whole grill grate in white hot coals
  • Slice your onions the way you want them, and caramelize them in a frying pan with the butter, some salt and pepper, and about a tbsp of sugar, on low heat for 30-45 minutes. You can do this the night before, store in the fridge and just reheat.
  • Cut away the crust from your two slices of bread, and let it soak in cold water for ten minutes. After soaking, squeeze all the water out of it
  • Mix the ground beef carefully with the BBQ sauce, the bread and liberal amounts of salt and pepper
  • Form the slider patties. Remember to make them flatter and larger-diameter than you want to be finished product to be, because they will change size when they’re being grilled. Each patty should be about 33 grams
  • Get a good hickory smoke going on the grill before starting grilling, I use water-soaked chips for this to maximize smoke, since they’re only on there a couple of minutes.
  • Put them on the grill. About 2-3 minutes should be enough, flip them, put the cheese on the finished side, and give them another 2-3 minutes. Serve!

Ember-roasted yams

Yams that have been roasted directly on the embers. Tasty!

This is maybe my all-time favorite side dish. It goes well with all meats, it’s healthier than potatoes, and it tastes fantastic. It really couldn’t be easier than putting something right on the coals and leaving it there. The burning of the outside gives the inside a lovely smokey flavor. Best trick ever!
Time: 45-60 minutes total
Skill level: Easy
Grilling method: On the embers
Grill temperature: Doesn’t really matter as long as the coals are white-hot

You’ll need to get hold of:
Yams
(Optional) Butter, garlic, herbs for a herb butter

Yams that have been roasted directly on the embers. Yes I have moved them to the grate for the photo. Don’t do that before they’re finished.

How you do it:

  • No washing or prep needed, because you’re burning the outside to a crisp anyway
  • Just chuck your yams directly on the white-hot coals, turn them every 10-15 minutes until they have a nice, ashy, burnt finish on all sides
  • Prick them with a knife to check they’re nice and soft all the way through
  • Slice in two with a sharp knife, make a garlic or herb butter, mash it up a bit with a fork, and eat!

Spicy Fennel Ketchup aka Ketchup for grownups

Homemade spicy fennel ketchup

I like experimenting with making ketchups. The regular Heinz ketchup is of course aclassic that will live forever, but sometimes it’s good to have a ketchup with more taste to it, especially for spicy sausages and on burgers. In this one, a spicy fennel taste is what I’m going for. This recipe makes about 2 jars of delicious homemade ketchup.

Time: 60 minutes
Skill Level: Easy

You’re going to need:
8 smoked, roasted chillies
2 cans of chopped tomatoes (If you live in a part of the world with GREAT tomatoes, you can use fresh ones instead. Lucky you!)
0,5 cup tomato paste
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
6 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup of brown sugar (I use the sticky kind)
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp freshly ground fennel seed
1 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp maldon salt
2 tbsp ground chili flakes

Fennel seeds

Put your smoked and roasted chillies with rapeseed oil in a blender, and blend to a fine paste. Combine with everything else in a saucepan, and bring slowly to a boil. Let it simmer for 45 minutes or until desired consistency is reached. Blend in batches until desired smoothness is achieved. Let it cool to room temperature before putting in containers and storing in the fridge. Sterilize your equipment and jars, seal them properly, and this kind of sauce will stay good for many months in your fridge.

Quick tip: String’em up!

Here’s a great tip for smoking or roasting small pieces of vegetables or any other small things. Get some steel string from your local hardware store, and just string them up, like so. This worked great when smoking a bunch of chillies for my homemade ketchup.

Chillies stringed up on steel string

Rocket Fuelled Bull BBQ Sauce

I make my own BBQ sauces. It’s fun, it’s a lot cheaper than buying them (at least here in Norway), and it means you can tailor the sauce to your particular tastes. I think it’s good to make as much as possible of my food from the ground up, because then I know what’s in it. Call me paranoid, but I don’t always trust the food industry to make the healthiest choices on my behalf… Also, it’s not a very difficult thing to cook. This is a sweet, tangy sauce with quite the kick to it. Which is just what I like for any BBQ beef dish.

Chillies stringed up on steel string and smoking on the BBQ

Time: 60 minutes
Skill Level: Easy

You’re going to need:
1/2 yellow onion
8 whole fresh chillies (I use some medium to mild ones)
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
0,5 cups of good bourbon
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp paprika powder (preferably the Spanish, spicy variety)
2 tbsp freshly ground pepper
1,5 cups of brown sugar
2 tbsp of liquid smoke (not necessary if you smoke the onion and chillies)

Ideally, I like to smoke and roast the chillies and onion on the grill beforehand, I normally do this while BBQing something else. If you don’t have time for that, just deseed chillies, chop onion, saute in the rapeseed oil, and then put in a blender to make a smooth paste. Combine the paste and the rest of all the ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk once in a while and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes until desired consistency is achieved. Let it cool to room temperature before putting in containers and storing in the fridge. Sterilize your equipment and jars, seal them properly, and this kind of sauce will stay good for many months in your fridge.

The finished sauce. I still draw at a kindergarten level, I know. Thanks.

BBQ Gallery – I

Just some pictures from today’s BBQ-related cooking here at BBQviking’s house…

Which smoke wood to use when?

I get a lot of questions on which smoke wood to use for which foods. Here are some suggestions. Like anything else to do with BBQ, this is no exact science. And remember, what kind of rub or sauce you use and the spice level should also be part of the consideration.

Pork – Pork works well with lots of different smoke woods. I like to use almost anything for pork. I use mesquite a lot for pork, and I use apple (real good for ribs), cherry and pecan wood. Sometimes when I really want smoke taste on pork butts, I use hickory as well. Want something light? Try Alder.

Beef – Beef=hickory in my mind. Sometimes I’ll mix 50/50 hickory and mesquite. Oak is also good, the Jack Daniel’s oak wood chips are great for steaks for instance.

Poultry – For poultry I would normally pick something lighter, like cherry or apple. Sometimes I use mesquite, it can be real tasty with duck, which has a stronger, more gamey taste than chickens

Fish – Oak or alder is very popular for smoking fish. Here in Norway the juniper bush is sometimes used, but I find the taste too owerpowering.

Vegetables – Since they’re not the stars of the show, my vegetables usually get smoked with whatever I’m using for the meat. Hickory and mesquite is great for baked potatoes and ears of corn (prick the potatoes with a fork first).

Lastly, experiment. A lot. It’s the only way to learn what’s best for your tastes. There’s also other ways to make smoke, rosemary smoke from fresh rosemary for lamb for instance. Vines of various kinds can also be used. But don’t use fresh wood, it needs to be dried. Nothing green should go on the grill as smoke wood.