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Another Year Gone By

July 19, 2008 by · 5 Comments 

birthday_cakeWell Folks, today is my birthday, so I figured it would be a good time for a post. But it’s also a good time to wish my twin brother Happy Birthday. I will bet many who know me never knew I had a twin brother, but I do.

So here goes, Happy Birthday Keith, I hope we both have many more!

Just like the title says, it’s another year gone by and as a famous phrase from one of my favorite movies says “they go by in a blink”.

It has been a very interesting year, some good times, and some not so good times. But you have to take the bad with the good, and make the best out of it. My brother and I are 48 years young today (I couldn’t find a picture made with 48 candles).

I have been working hard on getting 2 DVDs released, and am just about finally going to get there (for those that have purchased the pre-release, I am expecting to have yours to ship to you within a couple of weeks, and they will include everything I promised).

The DVD’s are; Backyard Barbecue with HomeBBQ.com and Grilling with HomeBBQ.com.

For those that have not purchased the pre-release they will be initially for sale through Amazon and CreateSpace.com. I hope to have them in volume to be selling them myself, and in normal distribution channels in the not so distant future. One thing I did find out, is this is not an easy thing to do, and definately not an inexpensive project to undertake.

I want to thank Rennie Knopf of Elite Video & Recording, and FK & Cindy Whited, it would not have been possible to get these done without them.

They were filmed in December of last year, at the beautiful home of FK & Cindy Whited, and we initially projected a release in February of this year. This was extremely aggressive as we found out, and have been plugging through set-back, after set-back. This appears to be behind us now, and we will finally get them released.

We will also be exploring some digital distribution options as well, and will keep you updated here on that as well.

Until next time!

Modifying the Typical Backyard Off-set Style Smoker

July 7, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Hondo SmokerBought my Hondo over ten years ago and really struggled to get good ‘cue. I researched and researched and bought book after book but still struggled. I was ready to spend big bucks to purchase a fancy rig – or even get one custom made – I Was that frustrated.

But before I did, I used my research to make the following modifications, and my problems disappeared. Then I tried a fire-building technique in addition to the modifications and was finally able to maintain an absolutely steady 220 degrees for 6 to 10 hours with ease. I was thrilled!

Nearly all the “backyard” offset smokers (typically those that sell for under $750) need these modifications. The only exception that I am aware of is the new model Bar-B-Chef

sold by Barbeques Galore.

These modifications are inexpensive and easy yet they work wonders. Try them and see if they don’t work for you, too.

 First the Modifications

 Stuff to Get        

Go to your local home improvement or building supply store and get the following:

1. One roll of aluminum flashing for the chimney.

2. One piece of unpainted, non-galvanized 22 to 16 gauge light steel for the baffle.

3. Pipe plug or metal cap to fill the thermometer hole.

4. If you don’t have one, you will need either a 3/4″ drill bit or a 3/4″ hole cutter.

 

Lower the Position of the Temperature Gauge!

This is critical. You want to measure the cooking temperature at the grill level, not at the top of the cooking chamber. Heat rises, and the temperature reading with the temperature gauge in its original position will give you a reading up to 80 degrees higher than the temp at which you are actually cooking. 1. Remove the existing temperature gauge. The hole is 3/4″ in diameter. Fill the hole with a pipe plug or a metal cap.

2. With an electric drill and 3/4″ drill bit or 3/4″ hole cutter, drill or cut a new hole a little to the side of the handle (if your firebox is mounted on the left side – if your firebox is mounted on the right side, you want to put the new hole to the left of the handle) and remount the temperature gauge in the new hole.

Note: Another option is to purchase a digital, remote temperature gauge. This eliminates the need for drilling a new hole. Get a small block of hardwood and drill a hole all the way through. Insert the probe of the remote temperature gauge through the hole so that 1″ to 1½ “ of the end of the probe is exposed. You can then place the probe anywhere in the cooking chamber and obtain a very accurate reading.

Improve the Chimney, by lowering it Toward the Cooking Grate

This modification will improve heat retention, helps to even out heat distribution and promotes proper heat conduction over the meat.

1. Unroll the aluminum flashing and cut a piece off about a foot to a foot and half in length.

2. Roll the cut piece of flashing into a cylinder about ½” less in diameter than the chimney.

3. Stick the cylinder up inside the chimney from the bottom leaving enough of the flashing exposed so the chimney is about an inch or so above the cooking grate.

4. Let the flashing unroll and it will unroll to the diameter of the chimney.

Insert a Steel Baffle between the Firebox and the Cooking Chamber

This modification serves two purposes. First, it directs heat downward below the grill for much improved heat circulation, which together with the chimney modification dramatically evens out the temperature in the cooking chamber. Second, it acts as a heat shield between the firebox and the meat to eliminate radiant heat so that you are cooking by heat convection only. This prevents the meat from burning before it is done.

1. Cut a piece of the steel wide enough to cover the opening between the fire box and the cooking chamber at its widest point (side-to-side). Make this piece of steel 12″ to 16″ in length (better to be slightly long than slightly short).

2. Line the piece of steel up with the upper bolts that hold the firebox to the cooking chamber and mark the spots. Drill holes to line up with the existing bolts.

3. At a height just below the cooking grate, bend the piece of steel into an “L” shape, but the angle should be less than 90 degrees. You want the end which extends into the les meilleurs casino en ligne cooking top casino en ligne chamber to angle slightly downward toward the bottom of the cooking chamber.You want at least 6″ of the steel baffle extending into the cooking chamber (more is better than less).

4. Mount the piece of steel using the existing bolts and nuts, making sure the bottom half

of the “L” extends into the cooking chamber below the cooking grate.

Building a Fire in a Offset Style Smoker

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 produces very little ash. 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

Fill the firebox with charcoal all the way to the lip of the opening between the firebox and the cooking chamber then hollow out every 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 vent 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. The fire will slowly burn down through the pile of charcoal providing a nice, long, steady burn. For a review of the lump charcoals available in your area go to:
http://www.nakedwhiz.com/lumpindexpage.htm?bag

This site reviews most all available hardwood lump charcoals. The higher the quality charcoal, the longer your burn time. 

It takes some time to learn the individual quirks of your smoker, but if you work with the technique and use the highest quality lump charcoal you will easily get 6-8-10 hours of steady 210-220 degrees. This really does work — I have heard back from hundreds of people who have followed these instructions and all report results just like mine.

I don’t recommend that you use wood as your primary fuel. The backyard sized off-sets have a cooking chamber that is just too small and it is very easy to over-smoke the meat making it taste very bitter and, well, gross. I have been trying for years to figure out why this is and I believe (and others tend to agree) that it is because in order to get the wood to the proper temp to burn off the foul-tasting impurities you will not be able to maintain the low temp required for proper barbequing (remember, low and slow) — the cooking chamber just gets way to hot.

A good brand of lump charcoal will give you a mildly pleasant smoke flavor but if you want it a little stronger, put a few wood chunks around the perimeter of the firebox and let them smolder or wrap them in heavy duty foil and poke a bunch of holes in the top and lay them on top of the charcoal). If you do this, it is a good idea to gently lay a piece of heavy duty foil over the meat (don’t “tent” it and don’t wrap the meat – just gently lay the foil on top of the meat) to prevent creosote from depositing on the meat surface. You only need to do this once or twice during the cooking process — remember, it is very easy to over-smoke in these smaller cookers. I seldom use the wood chunks and I have been told by many people that my ‘que is the best they’ve ever had.Like I said, a good quality lump charcoal should be all you need to turn out “the best ‘que they’ve ever had.”

 

smokermodifications.pdf – Download the document

BBQ LAMB RIBS

July 6, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

BBQ Lamb Ribs from HomeBBQ.com

BBQ Lamb Ribs
2 Tbs lemon pepper
1 Tbs garlic powder
1 Tbs salt
1 Tsp chopped parsely
2 8 bone slabs of lamb ribs, trimmed

Mint Sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar 1/2 ounce bourbon 1 Tbs sugar 1 Tbs chopped mint leaves

Coat ribs liberally with spices
Place bone side down on grill, and grill with indirect heat for 40 to 50 minutes. Turn ribs and cook an additional 25 minutes.

Combine mint sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently.

What is the best “1st” smoker?

July 5, 2008 by · 3 Comments 

wsmWell, you have been grilling for years. But, you want to make some of that great pulled pork like your buddy does with his smoker. And, maybe a smoked turkey for the holidays would be nice.

So, what is the best smoker to buy to get started?

There is no perfect answer except, “It Depends”.

You must ask and answer the following questions to start your search for that perfect smoker for you.

  1. How many people to you intend to feed, both routinely and on those special occasions?
  2. Would you like an “easy to use” approach to smoking? Or, are you interested in the ancient art of fire tending and long nights around the smoker?
  3. Finally, the big question. What is your budget?

Let me take you through a brief tour of the different types of smokers on the market today.  There is plenty of variety and you should find one that is best for you. For each type, I will list the most commonly discussed “Pros and Cons” for each genre.

I will be using a term throughout this discussion that needs to be defined now. A “charcoal basket” is a simple box, normally made of expanded metal or something similar. This basket holds a good supply of charcoal and wood chunks. A small amount of charcoal is lit and then spreads slowly through the supply. The burn rate is controlled by restricting the airflow.

With that out of the way, let’s proceed through the smoker types.

“OFFSET FIREBOX” SMOKERS

These are the “traditional” smokers with a separate chamber for the fire and one for the smoking area. The fire can be pure logs (sticks) or may be charcoal in a basket. Sizes and prices run the gamut from the inexpensive sheet metal ones found at the big-box stores through custom trailer rigs that cost many thousands of dollars.

PROS

Offsets are “sexy” and traditional. If you say “BBQ Smoker”, most people have a mental image of an offset firebox design.

Offsets have produced fantastic BBQ for decades. Lots of smoke flavor and the legendary “smoke ring” are common.

Offsets are dependable and relatively low maintenance. No electricity required and no real moving parts unless it is a rotisserie unit. Normally, keeping the smoker rust free, clean, and lubricated is about all the routine care required.

Offsets require the highest level of fire management skills. Many cooks consider this a badge of distinction as a “Pitmaster”. Maintaining a relatively constant cooking temp is an art form requiring frequent attention throughout the cooking cycle. This may be considered a great time to just “enjoy friends and life”, and maybe enjoy a few adult beverages.

CONS

Offsets require the highest level of fire management skills. Sound familiar?  The learning curve for fire management can be steep and long, depending on the smoker used. I personally started with a “Bandera”. It is an offset with a vertical smoke chamber made of sheet metal. I had excellent guidance on fire management, but it still was a trick to learn. I loved my Bandera, but grew weary of tending the fire every 45 minutes or so. I built a basket and that helped.

Offsets, small horizontal ones in particular, have a “hot spot” by the firebox end. Temps can be 50+ degrees hotter there. Some cooks build a baffle to even out the heat. Some cooks learn to use the difference to their advantage. But, the hot end can significantly reduce the usable cooking area in many cases. As the smoke chamber grows larger, the influence of the hot area diminishes, but the purchase price goes up exponentially. 

CABINET STYLE SMOKERS

These are the smokers that just look like a box with one or more doors on the front. The fire or heat source is located below the meat and is normally charcoal. However, the heat source may be propane or electric with small pieces of wood used for flavor. All heat sources work fine and produce excellent BBQ.

PROS

Cabinet Style units normally have relatively even heat distribution throughout the smoke box. Not perfect, but pretty even on most units.

Cabinet Style units normally enjoy long burn times at relatively constant temperatures. The ones that burn charcoal normally use some form of a basket or a gravity feed system to control the burn and keep the temperatures even for a few hours up to “many” hours of unattended smoking.

 CONS

Cabinet Style units work best if they are insulated. This means that this style with insulation may cost more that the lowest priced Offsets and some other styles.

 BULLET STYLE SMOKERS

These are the “cute” little smokers that look like R2D2 from Star Wars. They produce heat and smoke similar to Cabinet Style cookers, bur are round. Many, many cooks started with one of these. The “major player” in this genre is the Weber Smokey Mountain. I proudly owned one of these for over 2 years. I miss it sometimes.

The Pros and Cons are similar to the Cabinet style except they tend to be a single layer of steel and much more affordable. The WSM is easily the most commonly recommended smoker for a new cook.

 PELLET SMOKERS and GRILLS
These can be cabinet type or resemble an offset cooker; I made them a separate genre because they use a unique fuel—compressed wood pellets. These cookers may be complex with a timing device or a computer to control the pellet feed. Also, they normally have a combustion fan to keep the pellets burning cleanly.

PROS

 

 

Rock solid heat control.

Long burn times of over 20 hours if needed with little or no attention required.

The flavors and types of wood pellets make it easy and relatively inexpensive to create the exact smoke flavor desired. I spend approximately $.50 per hour for pellets in my FEC 100.

Pellets burn very cleanly and it is considered difficult to “over smoke” the product.

CONS

Pellet smokers require electricity to operate the controller and the fans.

Pellet smokers have electrical and mechanical parts that are subject to failure. They have an excellent service history, but most owners keep a few basic repair parts like “drive pins” available.

Pellet smokers are expensive.

 So, this completes my tour of the various types of smokers on the market.

Remember those three questions?

Evaluate your needs first and then start shopping.

Once you determine your needs, feel free to ask here for more information on specific brands.

 Happy smoking.

How the Internet Changed the BBQ Culture

July 4, 2008 by · 1 Comment 

Internet BBQThe secrets to juicy and tender barbecue have been closely guarded for many, many years and the art of barbecue has been handed down from father to son and treated as family heirlooms. The rising popularity of the Internet during the past decade has changed the culture of barbecue forever.

In the southeastern region of the country, barbecue usually referred to whole hogs cooked slowly over a fire of coals. Families often had their own recipes for rubs and sauces to go along with their favorite woods for smoking. Gaining access to these secrets wasn’t always easy. Good barbecue recipes were a source of family pride.

When I moved to Dickson, TN from Missouri in 1992, I was invited to help out with a family barbecue. I arrived at about 6 p.m. on Friday evening to find a hog roasting on chicken wire stretched over a metal bed frame. The cooks took turns roasting various meats including ducks, rabbits, and chickens throughout most of the night. There was a lot of conversation, some beer drinking, and a lot of work tending the fire. Periodically they would dab a vinegar marinade mixture on the hog.

After relocating to Florida in 2001, I rediscovered barbecue again. While searching the Internet for grilling tips and a recipe for pulled pork, I found Barbecuen.com and TheBBQForum.com. These websites reopened my eyes and ears to barbecue. About this same time, Food Network started airing various programs featuring barbecue restaurants, festivals, and contests.

A couple of years later, I discovered HomeBBQ.com and met up with Kevin. After a sharing a few e-mails and a couple of cell phone conversations, I drove to Kevin’s to help him break in a brand new Lang reverse flow offset smoker. I attended KCBS events with Kevin and Clara in Brooksville and Lakeland, FL and a few FBA events including the big contest in Sebring, FL. I struck out on my own at the Okeechobee, FL contest and got my first category win at the FBA event in Arcadia, FL in the chicken category. I’ve been preparing my own style of barbecue ever since.

I’ve cooked in KCBS events in Florida, Tennessee, Michigan, and Indiana since those early contest days and I’ve have competed against some of the best teams in the country holding my own with consistent top five overall finishes and several category wins. I’ve started my own web blog about barbecue to help others get started in the hobby and started selling my own spice rub on my personal web site.

Before the Internet Age, my learning curve would have been much, much steeper. However, for those seeking how-to barbecue information these days, championship recipes and techniques are only a few mouse clicks away. For $240, you can order a Weber Smokey Mountain from Amazon.com and have it delivered to your door step. You can spend some time reading the articles and forums and watching videos at VirtualWeberBullet.com or YouTube.com and learn how to use it effectively. There are numerous discussion groups and Forums that will answer any questions you have about specific cuts of meat or specific recipes you want to try out.

HomeBBQ.com is just another example of the vast amount of information provided on the World Wide Web for those that seek it out. I’m honored to have been invited to contribute to the collection of articles and discussions on this site. If you have questions about barbecue or suggestions for future articles, please let me know.

Is My Barbecue Ready Yet? – Part 2

June 22, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

smallfire

By Kevin Bevington

Ok, we made our rub. Now that we have our barbecue tasting good, we want to make sure we are cooking it properly. BBQ that is cooked properly will actually stand out better than BBQ that may actually have better tasting seasoning and sauce. This is where a lot of new barbecue competition teams miss the boat, and especially those in the backyard trying to cook bbq for their friends and family.

Let’s start with the tools you will need to bring you closer to your tender barbecue goal. First, let’s talk about your cooker, or bbq smoker. Let’s face it, you can cook barbecue on anything, bullet style smoker, offset fire box smoker, ceramic smoker, electric smoker, pellet grill, charcoal grill, and even a gas grill.
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SWEET AND SPICY BONE-IN PORK LOIN ROAST

June 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

HomeBBQ.com

This recipe uses the HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning, and a Cider Vinegar Marinade. Its real good, let us know what you think.

Items Needed:
2 – 3 lb Bone-in Pork loin roast
1 Jar of HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning

Marinade Ingredients:
2 cups of Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

Mix Marinade Ingredients in non-reactive bowl. Place pork roast and Marinade in a sealed container or plastic bag, and let marinate for a minimum of 1 hour to a maximum of 2 hours.

Remove the pork roast from the marinade, and discard the marinade.

Season pork roast liberally with HomeBBQ.com Old Florida Key Lime Jerk Seasoning.

Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before cooking.

This roast needs to be cooked indirect at a temperature of 350 degrees for approx. 20-25 minutes per pound. The internal temp of the roast when finished should be 150-155 degrees.

After removing from heat, let stand for 15 minutes before slicing. This will let the juices settle inside the roast.

This recipe can be used for cooking in the oven, smoker or grill.

Enjoy!

All BBQ Needs Is A Good Rub!

June 18, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

herbs-spices

By Kevin Bevington

As the masses begin to uncover their bbq grills and smokers for the season of barbecue and Grilling, many wonder what will set theirs apart from the rest. The answer? A good rub can make a world of difference. Sure, a good barbecue sauce is still a good thing to have to compliment your meal, but the seasoning is the key.

A bbq rub, is commonly referred to as a dry marinade, many times, it can actually bring more flavor to your barbecue than a liquid marinade, especially when used in a similar fashion.
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