Cooking barbecue, or grilling has become a year round activity, according to HPBA more than 56% of Americans say they are cooking outdoors year round. So it’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food borne illness. Use these simple guidelines from the USDA for cooking food safely.
From the Store: Go Home first
When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, just before your ready to checkout. Separate meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart. To prevent cross-contamination (this can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food), put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.
Load meat and poultry into the coolest part of your vehicle, and take your groceries straight home. If your drive is more than 30-minutes away, bring a cooler with ice and place perishable food in it for the trip.
We have certainly seen high tech in BBQ the last few years.
With the Digi-Q II, the FEC 100, the Therma-pen, and the list goes on and on. Well, I received this email today from Humberto Evans with nerdkits.com regarding a DIY project that is near and dear to all of our hearts.. A DIY Meat Thermometer with Predictive Filter! uh… ok! I get it, I think.
Humberto Evans and his partner Mike Robbins, both MIT Grads create a video and web page that tells you how to do it. I will let Humberto’s own words explain this for you, and be sure to check out the web page at http://www.nerdkits.com/videos/meat_thermometer/
From Humberto Evans:
Even though cooking is an elegant art form, the at-home chef often has a number of fancy gadgets. From counter top grills to USB coolers, high end electronics have made themselves available in most aspects of modern food preparation and enjoyment. In keeping with our DIY spirit, and with Father’s Day and July 4th grilling right around the corner, we decided to build a DIY Digital Meat Thermometer using a temperature sensor, an LCD, and a microcontroller. To our delight, getting this project to work well required some interesting bits of engineering including advanced signal processing.
In this video tutorial, we outline the process for building the DIY Digital Meat Thermometer. In order to speed up the measured reading, we estimate what the transfer function of the system is and use a predictive filter to “guess” what the actual temperature is at the tip of our probe. The concepts, and the some of the intuition behind it, are presented in our video tutorial. The meat thermometer can be used with a computer to give a live temperature graph, or be used with just the LCD. Whether it’s a fathers day gift, or just a fun weekend project, this little gadget is sure to draw some attention at the next family cookout.”
RED CHILE PUREE
1-2 cups water 8-10 dried red New Mexico chile pods
(Hot) – (get Hatch Valley if you can)
Tear tops off of chile pods and use knife or finger (use plastic food preparation gloves to protect your fingers as they will start to sting a bit — do not touch your eyes with your fingers until you’ve washed them) to clean out seeds and veins inside of each one. Place pods in medium sized pot and cover with water. Heat to boiling on high heat. Boil several minutes until pods are soft stirring occasionally to make sure they boil evenly. Place drained pods (save liquid) in blender container, then pour 1/2 of liquid into blender (keep the rest in the pot and add more water for the next batch) and blend until smooth, add 1-2 cloves garlic if desired. Add more water if needed, but keep in mind this is a puree, thicker than sauce or juice. When pureed, pour into a large stock pot. Sometimes you might need to pour thru a mesh sieve to remove any skins that did not blend up in the blender. NOTE: You will want to make several batches of puree.
CHILE COLORADO (Basic Red Chile Sauce)
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 C. red chile puree (see below)
2 C. chicken broth
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. garlic powder
Dash oregano (use Mexican oregano if you can get it)
Heat butter in medium-size saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1minute. Add red chile puree and cook for about another minute. Gradually add broth and stir, making sure there are no lumps, a whisk works best. Add seasoning to sauce and simmer at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
THE MARINATED PORK:
4 cloves garlic
1 T. salt
1 T. oregano
2 recipes or more of the Red Chile Puree (above)
3-5 lbs. (approx.) pork tenderloin roast
Add garlic, salt and oregano to chile puree. Cut pork loin into four large pieces (slice in half once horizontally and once vertically) and put them in a large, glass baking dish (even better, a stainless steel stock pot) and pour chile puree over to cover — turn meat to cover completely. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of 24 hours (36-72 hours or more is even better — I like to marinate mine for a week). It is a good idea to stir it around once a day or so to make sure that every part of the pork soaks in the marinade.
FINAL ASSEMBLY AND COOKING:
Place marinated pork pieces in smoker or barbeque and cook using the indirect method to keep the marinade from burning(for best results, use some pecan wood chunks or chips for smoke flavor — pecan smoke is incredible with this dish but be careful not to over smoke) and cook until internal temp reaches around 150 (use a meat thermometer).
Remove pork from smoker and cut into cubes ½” to 1″ square and put into baking pan/dish about 3″-4″ deep. Pour chili colorado over pork cubes (the pork should be “swimming in it”) and put baking pan/dish into smoker – crank up the temp to around 325 (you can do this part in the oven inside if you want) and let it simmer (for best results, seal tightly with foil so the sauce doesn’t boil off and get too thick) for at least an hour – 2 or even 3 hours would be even better (if you simmer longer than an hour you must seal with foil or the sauce will boil off).
About 5 minutes before removing from smoker, remove the foil and layer on top (fairly thickly) a good amount of pre-shredded Kraft Mexican blend cheese. When the cheese melts (about 5 minutes) remove from smoker, let it cool for 5 minutes or so and serve with rice and beans and warmed flour tortillas.
NOTE: This recipe can be cooked in a regular oven (use a baking pan) instead of a smoker – you lose the pecan wood flavor but it is still incredibly delicious.
By 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.
Bought 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 cooking 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)
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.
Aluminum foil is a valuable tool for preparing bbq ribs, pork butts, and brisket. When used correctly, it helps improve consistency and predictability in barbecue preparation.
Some might call it a “crutch”, but for me using aluminum foil is a common sense approach to preparing good barbecue. I’m not currently aware of any bbq contest winners that do not use it in abundance. I’m not saying you can’t win without it, but I’d wager that 95% of all bbq contest champions are using it when they prepare their contest meats.
Here are some examples of how I use it:
For ribs…..I slow cook my baby backs for 2 1/2 hours at 225 degrees. Then I wrap them in a double thickness of foil with the meat side down with three ounces of apple juice or grape juice or a mixture of both, for 1 1/2 hours cooking at 250 degrees. After an hour, I remove the foil, brush on my favorite sauce, and cook for 30 or 40 minutes until the meat starts to pull away gently from the bones.
For pork butts or brisket…I slow cook the pork butts and briskets for 5 hours at 225 degrees and wrap in a double thickness of aluminum foil. I cook them until the internal meat temperature reaches 198 degrees as measured with a meat thermometer.
Using a double thickness of foil prevents the rib bones from puncturing the foil and the juice running out. When cooking bigger pieces of meat like briskets and pork butts, there is a lot of juice and aus jous that collects in the foil. A double thickness helps prevent leakage and preserves the juice for basting the meat later on, if desired.
Aluminum foil is also used as an aid to accelerate the cooking process. A pork butt or brisket cooked without using aluminum foil can take two or three hours longer to cook. It also makes a good disposable surface for preparing meats. At contests when water isn’t readily available at my cooksite, I sometimes spread a sheet of foil over my cutting board when injecting the larger cuts of meats. When finished, I simply fold up the foil and throw it away.
By Kevin Bevington
There are different ways to cook, and determine doneness in your BBQ ribs, and we are going to break those down into the 2 types.
St Louis Spare Ribs – St Louis Spare Ribs can be one of the most difficult meats to cook and to get done accurately. Many of the ways you would determine doneness, take some time and experience to identify and master. But first, we will cover a good process to use, which will take you real close to being done, and then you can apply a couple of simple techniques to determine doneness.