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Getting Ready for Grant, and a Few Other Things

September 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Grant

As I try to shake the rust off, get the cookers cleaned, the trailer ready, meats lined up.  We are cooking  next weekend (9-27-08) at the Grant BBQ Fest in Grant, FL.  If you are anywhere within driving distance to Grant Florida next weekend. This is one contest, you really should not miss.  This is the same organizers of the famous Seafood Fest that is put on every year in Grant.

As always there will be a very strong lineup of teams trying to win this contest, and the chance to get invited to the Jack Daniels Invitational.

Toys For Kids This contest also benifits a great cause, and that is Toys For Kids. There will be plenty of activities for kids, live music, and lots of BBQ to eat, as in this event many teams will be selling their BBQ, and the proceeds goes to this great cause.

As I said before. If your anywhere within driving distance to this contest, come over next weekend and check it out, and make sure you stop by us and say hi. You can find out more information about this event here http://www.grantbbqfest.com/

America's Got Talent

Not too often will you see me discuss outside of the realm of BBQ, but today you will. Those that know me, know that music is and always has been a big part of my life. And, for those that have known me for a long time know, that several years back (in the late 70’s, and early 80’s) a friend of mine named Al Brodie and myself, ran a small sound and lighting company, and in doing the sound  and lighting for some small, and and even a couple of very well known groups. We also spent much time trying to promote local talent, and it was always exciting when you came accross an individual that you knew was something special.

But, back then was nothing like today, many very special talents went undiscovered. Where today, we have the internet, and something called reality TV shows.

There are 2 in particular that have really stepped into the forefront, and those shows are American Idol, and America’s Got Talent. I really enjoy these shows, because it really allows you to see some real raw talent, develop into stars.  America’s Got Talent will be showcasing their Final’s for 2008 next week, and they have the strongest top 5 field they have had since the show started. There are at least 3 (and maybe 4) of the top 5 that have the potential to become superstars.

There are 2 acts I believe, have separated themselves from a very talented top 5, and in my opinion they are Nuttin’ But Strings, who bring incredible originality, and entertainment value to their act.

And my favorite in this competition is a young man by the name of Eli Mattson. Eli is truelly something special, a cross somewhere between Billy Joel, Elton John, Bruce Hornsby, and some Eddie Vedder mixed in, has shown he can take you on a journey into a song, like very few can. Good luck next week Eli, its time to become a champion, and good luck as well to the rest of the top 5 in this competition.

I will leave you with a very special performance given by Eli, on America’s Got Talent.

Real Wood Smoke Flavor from a gas grill

August 18, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

I am one of the guys who loves my gas grill, and I really do not care what others say.

I like the ease of use, predicable performance, easy of cleaning, and all of that.  But, it took me awhile to learn how to get “real wood smoke flavor” from my gasser.

 When using my smoker, I have learned to love certain smoke flavors with certain types of meat. For example, I like fruit woods such as Cherry, Apple, and Peach on poultry and pork. For beef (primarily Brisket Burgers on the gasser), I like a touch of Mesquite.

I have also played with specialty chips such as the Jack Daniels barrel chips and such with mixed results. To get the smoke flavor, I use a “Smoke Bomb” loaded with chips or pellets of the desired flavor.

A Smoke Bomb is basically a closed container with only a couple of air holes to allow smoke to escape.

A Smoke Bomb can be made that lasts a long time, even to an hour or more if needed. It works so well because it restricts the oxygen to the chips or pellets, producing a longer and smoldering burn that reduces flare ups and quick burning.

 I started with the most simple of Smoke Bombs, just heavy duty aluminum foil. I made a double layer big enough to resemble a small grapefruit with chips or pellets inside. Sealed it up good and poked one or two tiny holes in the top with a tooth pick or my trusty Thermopen. Place it on a burner and when smoke starts emitting from the holes, it is time to cook.

 The next step up for me was one of those stamped and bent sheet metal boxes sold by Home Depot with “smoking chips” in them Viagra 100mg. They Viagra Online are about 5-6 inches long, 3 inches wide, and an inch deep. The first thing is to throw away the “smoking chips” unless you really know what they are. If you try to use these open boxes with chips, you will need to soak them first or they will just ignite and last a minute or two. Not even long enough to do a smoked hot dog. So, I wrapped the box with good ole HD aluminum foil and poked a couple of small holes in the top to restrict combustion air. Worked like a charm. Biggest benefit was that the box gave some form to the Smoke Bomb when compared to HD foil only. Worked well.

My final evolutionary step was a cast iron skillet to hold the chips and pellets. I found an old 7 Inch skillet at a garage sale for $2. I cover it with HD foil with a couple of teeny -tiny holes again. One quarter to one half a cup of pellets or chips produces plenty of smoke for a good steak cook. Because of it’s mass, I put the skillet on my side burner to get the heat up and start the smoke. Then, the skillet fits perfectly on the two left hand burners on my five burner gas grill.

I defy anyone to tell that my steak cooked with a Mesquite Smoke Bomb came off a gasser! Outstanding wood smoke flavor, and that is what BBQ is all about.

Chips a pellets are available at many places, including WalMart if you watch the BBQ area closely. Small quantities of pellets are available on-line in many flavors. I tequires so few pellets or chips per cook that they are really cost effective when used only for flavor.

Happy Cooking.

TIM

BUILDING A FIRE USING THE MINION METHOD IN AN OFFSET SMOKER

August 15, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Sometime back in 1999 or thereabouts Jim Minion was participating in a regional barbeque championship in the Pacific Northwest. His cooker of choice was a Weber Smokey Mountain.

However, following the manufacturer’s instructions on building a fire in this otherwise wonderful smoker proved useless as the fire would quickly shoot up to well over 325 degrees. What to do, what to do?

 Jim Minion, a fleet manager for an auto sales company, tried something different – he spread a layer of lighted briquettes over a pile of unlit briquettes and he found that he could maintain a steady fire for as long as 22 hours in his Weber Smokey Mountain. He took a first and a second in two categories that day and the Minion Method was born.

About that same time I was having incredible difficulty holding a steady temp for any decent length of time in my Hondo offset. I came across a description of the Minion Method on the Internet and decided to give it a try. I filled the firebox with Kingsford briquettes as recommended, lit a Weber chimney filled with briquettes, dumped them on top and for the very first time I held a rock steady 220 for four hours, but then the fire choked itself out from all the ash produced by the briquettes. But heck, that was a whole lot better than before.

My wife’s uncle, one of the most fun individuals I have every had the pleasure of knowing (he was one of those people who, from the moment they walk into the room you know you are about to have a great time), and a true lover of ‘que was visiting and he wanted me to fire up the barbeque. As an incentive he brought me a bag of lump charcoal. Not wanting to insult a guest, I fired up my Hondo using the Minion Method with the ump charcoal.

I fully expected a disaster as everything I read about the Minion Method said to use briquettes. Instead I was stunned – I quickly got the fire settled down to 220 and it stayed there – and held – and held – and 8 hours later the temp was still reading 220! By then I was done and removed the meat from the smoker

but it was another two hours before the temp dropped.

A convert was born! 

That was several years ago and I’ve learned a lot since then. Most important is that not all lump charcoals are the same. Some will only hold a steady fire for about 4 hours. The average lump will give you about 6 hours. The best lumps will hold 220 for shopping cart pricing provacyl site 10 Provacyl hours or more. Other things that will affect the burn time are outdoor weather conditions, the make/model of smoker you have, and the temp at which you are cooking. I have also learned that once you learn the individual quirks of your smoker you can “dial in” any temp you want by making small adjustments to the chimney damper and/or the air intake control.

For the longest, steadiest burn times I recommend you get the best quality hardwood lump charcoal you can find. Briquettes will work, however they produce so much ash that the fire chokes itself out within about 4 hours. High quality hardwood lump charcoal burns hotter produces very little ash resulting in a much longer burn time.

If you don’t use a charcoal basket, you need to find a way to keep the charcoal away from the air intake. Here is a good way;  firebox

Fill the firebox with charcoal all the way to the lip of the opening between the firebox and the cooking chamber then hollow out ever so slightly — about an inch or so — just enough to make the pile slightly concave — a small area in the middle by pushing the charcoal up around the sides a little. 

Fill a Weber chimney with charcoal and light it. When it is going real good (all coals glowing) then pour it all on top of the charcoal in the firebox, keeping it centered as much as possible.

Close the lids but leave all the vents (air intake and chimney) wide open. When the temp reaches 275 – 300 degrees, begin closing the air intake. Close the air intake half way then check the temp in 15 minutes. If it is too high, close the intake half way again and check in 15 minutes. If still too high, close the air intake all the way. Check again in 15 minutes. If the temp is still too high and ALL VISIBLE SMOKE DISAPPEARS, begin closing the chimney — you guessed it – half way. Check again in 15 minutes, etc. At some point the temp will stabilize — check the vents and remember where they were as that will be your starting point next time — in other words, after the initial temp has reached 275-300, then you can close the vents down to your starting point rather than repeating the entire procedure again. The fire will slowly burn down through the pile of charcoal providing a nice, long, steady burn.

So, all of us backyard pitmasters owe Jim Minion a huge thumbs up for daring to try something different and making top notch barbeque a breeze.

Til next time, keep on cookin’!

Big Dan

Barbecue Surprises

August 9, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

A few years ago while competing in a barbecue event in Arcadia, Florida the unthinkable happened while preparing our chicken turn-in box.  We prepared fantastic turn-in samples and were sure we had a good chance to win, but after placing the samples in the box and closing it I discovered that our box had been damaged.

I froze for a few seconds and wasn’t sure what to do next. Should I turn in the sample anyway and take a chance that the box would be disqualified? Should I throw in the towel for the chicken category and start preparing for the rib turn-in?

It was only a few minutes before turn-in time and I decided to take the box to the turn-in table. Once there I approached the official at the table and showed her the damaged box. I asked if the damaged box would be a problem, assuming it would, and she agreed. She gave me an ultimatum. Turn-in the box and be disqualified or put the chicken samples into a new box within the next two minutes and turn it in before the cut-off time.

She handed me a new box. I didn’t have any of the usual tools we use to prepare our boxes, but I transferred the chicken into the new box and turned it in.

The new box was not well prepared and was not nearly as “put together” as the original. The chicken wasn’t perfectly straight. We use a very sticky barbecue sauce for chicken and transferring it left a lot of smudges and smears on the sides of the box. The sauce wasn’t evenly distributed on the individual pieces of chicken any longer either. I figured it was at best a 10th place chicken entry.

Later on at the awards ceremony we were pleasantly surprised with a 5th place finish in the chicken category. I was convinced more than ever that if we finished 5th with a mediocre box, we were a shoe-in to win with the original box, but we were thrilled with 5th considering the circumstances we had to overcome. The entire episode might have been avoidable if we’d only looked at the boxes earlier in the day.

We’ve learned many lessons about barbecue competitions. Anything can and will happen when you least expect it. At another event, a strong gust of wind blew the canopy completely off the cooking site of our neighboring competitor just as he was preparing to slice his ribs for turn-in. It didn’t faze him. He went right along slicing the ribs and ended up with a top three finish in the rib category.

The moral of this story? Never give up. Keep on trucking full steam ahead. In the end, the outcome just might surprise you.

HomeBBQ.com releases 2 New DVD’s

August 2, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

HomeBBQ.com releases Barbecue and Grilling DVDs

HomeBBQ.com has released 2 DVD’s for the backyard cook. “Grilling with HomeBBQ.com” and “Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com”.

In “Grilling with HomeBBQ.com”, Kevin Bevington (5 time FBA Team of the Year Champion) demonstrates cooking on gas and charcoal grills. He starts with the basics and then goes into some great food, including full recipes, and preparation. This DVD will include; Hamburgers, Steak, Chicken, Tri-Tip Roast, Pork Chops, Grilled Salmon, Shrimp, Stuffed Flank Steak, Baltimore Pit Beef, Pork Loin, and much more..

In “Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com” Kevin Bevington (5 time FBA Team of the Year Champion) demonstrates cooking low and slow on a small offset cooker  and a bullet style water pan smoker. He starts with the basics on how to start your cookers, maintaining even temp, goes through full meat prep, and the process of cooking and finishing these meats. This DVD includes full recipes, and preparation. Included are the following; Boston Butt (pulled pork), Beef Brisket, St Louis Style Ribs, Baby Back Ribs, Country Style Ribs, Standing Rib Roast, Turkey, and much more.

These DVD’s can be purchased now via CreateSpace.com through the links below.

Grilling with HomeBBQ.com – http://www.createspace.com/252519

Backyard BBQ with HomeBBQ.com – http://www.createspace.com/252518

We will make these available as packages on HomeBBQ.com online store soon.

Barbeque Fuels

July 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

charcoalMy name is Dan Colmerauer – aka “Big Dan.” You may know me from my booklet on how to modify a “backyard” offset smoker to make it perform better. The majority of my articles will deal with what goes into building proper fire in your smoker and related topics – but I will diverge from that from time to time. By the way, I will accept questions and comments via e-mail at: screenwriter2@earthlink.net or 2bigdan2@earthlink.net – I try to reply to any and all e-mails but I do not use my computer on weekends and sometimes it may take a day or two before I have time to reply so please be patient.

I am a backyard cooker only — I don’t do catering or cook-offs, etc. I have, however, been barbequing in one form or another for almost 35 years. Originally from Buffalo, New York I was often seen barbequing and grilling even in middle of the biggest snow storms. I now live in Phoenix, Arizona where some days in the summer I swear all you need to do is put the meat in your smoker and wheel the smoker out into the sun. I have a Hondo offset smoker, a Weber Smoky Mountain, a Weber “kettle” grill, and a barrel smoker and I use them all.

Knowing how to build and maintain a fire is the most important part of barbequing. You can have the greatest recipe in the world – buy the best quality meat you can find – yet if you can’t build and maintain a long, steady fire, your final product will suffer.

Today, I’d like to discuss fuel. There are three basic fuels for barbeque: wood, lump charcoal and briquettes.

Typical briquettes are made from powdered charcoal mixed with binders and fillers such as coal dust. Their biggest advantage is an easily controlled, steady fire with very little temperature fluctuation. Their biggest drawback is the large volume of ash produced when burning briquettes. In an offset style smoker the ash will actually build up and snuff out your fire in about 4 hours – not enough time to barbeque much of anything. Plus, there are too many additives that can alter the flavor of the final product for my taste. But, they are inexpensive, readily available, easy to use and certainly can turn out a fairly decent final product.

There are briquettes available (but very hard to find) that are made out of 100% hardwood charcoal and all natural binders. No additives – no strange fillers – just pure 100% hardwood charcoal. I have used Rancher 100% hardwood briquettes and Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes and was pleasantly surprised – both at the flavor and the performance. While producing much more ash than lump charcoal, I was still able to maintain a steady 220 for over six hours. And the flavor was a huge improvement over regular briquettes. In an upright “water smoker” such at the Weber Smoky Mountain these are probably the best fuel you can use. I ran mine for over 22 hours with the Rancher briquettes without refueling and still had briquettes left in the smoker to burn. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find either Rancher or Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes in over a year.

Natural lump charcoal (sometimes called www jesextender JesExtender “charwood”) is my fuel of choice. Lump charcoal is made by burning hardwood in the absence of oxygen. The process burns off all the impurities (creosote, etc.) leaving a final product that is free of all the bad stuff that can ruin the flavor of the meat. It burns hotter than briquettes and a quality lump charcoal will leave very little ash – which means you will achieve a long, steady burning fire which will impart a wonderful “woodsy” flavor to the meat with a nice touch of smoke. There are a large number of brands of lump available – some not much better than briquettes and others darned near the “holy grail” of barbeque fuel. Hopefully, you will have a good brand available in your area.

The ability to use wood as a fuel is seen by many as the hallmark of the true pitmaster. I don’t necessarily agree.

The single most important factor in whether you can successfully use only wood as your fuel source is your smoker. The typical backyard smoker is simply too small to use wood as fuel unless you burn it down to coals first. In fact, many commercial pitmasters (especially in the barbeque belt) will burn the wood down to coals first no matter what type of smoker they have. The reason for this is simple – you want to burn off the impurities before exposing the meat to the smoke.

So — I tried this once. I used over $50 worth of wood – spent six straight hours burning wood and shoveling coals and the ribs came out tasting exactly like they did with lump charcoal. Some Internet research revealed what has since become my mantra: a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs. The only difference is how it got there.

Interestingly enough – at the more recent bbq cook-offs I’ve attended (I do love to eat good ‘que) I’ve noticed that most of the competitors were using lump charcoal in even the biggest of smokers because —- a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs.

Now, what about wood chunks or chips for added smoke flavor. They work, but you have to be very careful because there is a very fine line between a little extra smoke flavor and over-smoked, creosote-coated meat. Cross that line and you’ve ruined a nice hunk of meat (unless, of course, you like the flavor of creosote). This is more of a problem in the offset smokers than with the uprights. The man in Phoenix who sells cooking wood to all the local restaurants taught me a neat trick if you like to use chunks or chips for a stronger smoke flavor. Simply take a piece of heavy duty foil and gently place it on top of the meat – don’t “tent” it and don’t “wrap” it – just gently lay it on top. The foil will catch most of the bad stuff before it settles on the meat leaving the meat exposed to the remaining flavorful part of the smoke.

Next time I’ll discuss exactly how to build a fire using the Minion method for a long, steady fire.

For now….

Keep on cookin’!

Big Dan

Is My Barbecue Ready Yet? Cooking Beef Brisket

July 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

brisketBy Kevin Bevington
Now that we have our rub, the right equipment, and we are able to control a consistent temperature, we are ready to attempt the toughest meat to cook, Beef Brisket. Lets first discuss how to select the meat you are about to cook. Beef Brisket can typically be sold in 3 different size cuts.

First, is the whole packer cut, this whole cut includes the 2 very distinctly different muscles that make up the entire cut, you have the flat which would be considered the flat long piece of meat, the point, which includes the nose end, and the meat layer underneath the flat, which is separated by a layer of fat which is also known as a deckle layer. The whole packer cut is the most desirable cut to cook in your smoker, the main reason being, the tremendous amount of fat that can be left on this cut to give it plenty of moisture to draw from while cooking.

Read more

Make it your own…

July 24, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

I was told by my brother in law, Glenn, that at least one time I would want to try to make barbecue my very own…from start to finish.  I asked him what he was talking about…he explained.

He told me that I take the time to select and buy the cut of meat I am looking to cook, I trim it and do all the other prep stuff…fire up the cooker and then start the cooking process…which is a long investment of time.

He went on to say that you do all of this, take it off the cooker, hold it while you prepare other items for sides and then put some store bought bbq sauce on your barbecue right before you eat it…He didn’t understand why I would do that.

Well, to be honest, I never had given it a thought…there were rubs already made for me to use…the same thing in regards to sauces.  I figured I was just saving some time in certain areas.  But he explained that if I would just take the time to learn how to make a rub and a sauce THEN the barbecue would truly be MY OWN!  No one else’s mixes or recipes would be in my bbq hence it would be MINE from start to finish.

Just some bbq for thought for you folks who are just getting in to the art.  Don’t get me wrong, I use rubs that aren’t mine more then I use my own…but 9-10 times I make my own sauce.  I love it…my guests like it…and it just seems to compliment my barbecue.

BBQ Contest Cooking Schedule

July 12, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

For those that aren’t familar with the level detail that goes into preparing for a bbq contest, I wanted to share the schedule we use to ensure that our contest entries are ready for the judges on time. The schedule below is a guideline we use at KCBS contests. Like any schedule, it’s a guideline and not necessarily the exact step-by-step method we might use, but it’s very close.

Friday

8:00 Arrive
9:00 Set-up
12:00 Prep Meat
2:00 Purchase Ice
4:00 Attend Cook’s Meeting
5:00 Eat Supper
6:00 Get some rest
10:30 Start cooker

MIDNIGHT

Saturday

12:15 Begin Cooking Briskets
1:15 Begin Cooking Pork Butts
3:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
4:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
5:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
6:45 Light Fire for Backwoods to Cook Chicken
6:00 Wrap Butts at 160-165 degrees (5 hours max )
6:15 Wrap Brisket at 165-170 degrees (6 hours max)
7:40 Begin Cooking Ribs
8:30 Prepare Lettuce and Parsley for Turn-in Boxes
9:10 Foil ribs (w/juice, meat side down)
9:15 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (biggest)
9:30 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (smallest)
10:15 Turn ribs meat side up, add dark brown sugar in foil
11:00 Sauce Chicken Thighs (target temp is 150 degrees)
11:10 Check ribs for doneness
11:15 Heat Rib Sauce
11:30 Unfoil ribs and sauce, low heat
11:45 Prep Chicken Turn-in Box
11:50 Sauce Ribs
12:00 Turn-in Chicken
12:10 Heat Brisket Sauce
12:15 Slice Ribs and Prepare Rib Turn-in Box
12:20 Make Pork Butt Sauce
12:30 Turn-in Ribs
12:45 Prep Pork Butt Turn-in Box
1:00 Turn-in Pork Butts
1:15 Prep Brisket Turn-in Box
1:30 Turn-in Brisket
2:00 Pack and Load to prepare for returning home

The New HomeBBQ.com

July 10, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Welcome to our new website, it has certainly been a challenge, getting this together. I apologize for the re-register and realize it has just been 2 1/2 years since we did this before, but this was something that needed to be done to keep up with the times, and as a result of ongoing security concerns.

The cut-over to the new site was premature, due to several sql injection attacks on my site, the latest this morning.

Many new features here, that I think you will enjoy. This web site is now capable of all the new blogging and social craze going on with the web.

What is most exciting about this new website, is we have several contributing to this site now. The authors are as follows:

Kevin Bevington – HomeBBQ.com (owner)

Brian Pearcy – TheBBQGuy
Brian has 2 websites, http://www.thebbqguy.com, and his own blog at http://www.bbqguyblog.blogspot.com  Brian has been a friend of mine for several years, and was a member of the original version of the HomeBBQ.com competition team in 2002, and early 2003. Brian brings alot to the table here as a bbq   Brian has been a friend of mine for several years, and was a member of the original version of the HomeBBQ.com competition team in 2002, and early 2003. Brian brings alot to the table here as a bbq competitor, and his thorough approach. We are very excited to have him with us.

Tim Cochran – We have known Tim since January of 2005, when he and his partner David cooked right behind us at a contest. Tim has contributed much to the BBQ Brethren Forum, and we are exited to have him here with us at HomeBBQ.com.

Dan Colmerauer – Dan has been a big contributer to HomeBBQ.com since it’s inception, and has helped 100’s if not 1000’s of people as they asked their questions on the www.homebbq.com website. We are very excited to have Dan with us in this role.

Greg Rempe – You might already know Greg from the BBQ Central Forum, Show, and Podcasts http://bbq-4-u.com/ . Greg will be sharing much with us, I know I have enjoyed his podcasts, and I am looking forward to his contribution here at HomeBBQ.com.

Our mission here at HomeBBQ.com is to be the definitive source of information to the Backyard BBQ Chef, and Griller. If you have comments or suggestions, please let us know.

I hope you enjoy the new website!

Kevin
HomeBBQ.com

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