Tuesday, June 29, 2010
One of our favorite foods to grill are brats, and I shared a really awesome brats recipe last week. I used Johnsonville brats, because I know and trust that brand. I've tried some others around here, but that was hit and miss, so I stick with Johnsonville sausages. They are always great!
Johnsonville keeps up with what is going on online, so they have noticed that I use their products. Some companies keep up with that and some ignore onliners. That's fine. I just tell you what I like and what I think and try to help out home grillers. If I owned a company, I think I would keep up with the online buzz though, because online surfers are a great crowd, and we share information.
Since I am a fan and barbecue and grill blogger, Johnsonville got in touch to tell me about their new summer promotion. They really pull out the stops online. Last year they had Johnsonville photo collages. This year, they are hosting a video contest.
The company was nice enough to send me some coupons to get more Johnsonville brats plus tongs, a grill mitt, and a grill carry bag for the 4th of July. They don't require me to do anything, but I'm sure they hope I share the contest which is the kind of thing I do on my blog and have for five years. So, you may see me with some logo gear in photos later if I can round up any 4th of July buddies. All the family has managed to slip out of town overlapping but at the same time for the 4th. Boy, it is quiet around here.
Enough about my world and on to yours.
If you make videos or have been thinking about it, then you can enter the Share Your Ville video contest with all kinds of super prizes this summer (2010).
They have a home video category and one for professionals plus several categories in each section to make things more even. These are short and quick but fun to make. I played around with my Flip video camera last week, but I still need some work on those skills.
But, I know some of my readers rock the video cameras and editing software. So, I'd love to see some brats videos. Be sure to post links here on my comment section or get in touch and let me know if you make the video leap. I'd love to go and see and vote for any readers who take the Johnsonville challenge. Heck, I might even give it a try myself (-: Those prizes really are terrific.
In the meantime, I will keep grilling up my famous Johnsonville brats which are very easy to make and always get rave reviews from friends and family. Just check the recipe I linked at the top if you are not sure how to make great grilled brats.
I snapped a photo of the Johnsonville brats in case anyone is not familiar with the product (pictures help me). They are in the cold case around here close the breakfast sausages. I have seen them displayed along with the hot dogs in some places, but brats are much more robust than regular American weiners. The boys like hot dogs, but they get much more excited if I pick up Johnsonville brats.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Yehaw! Feeling Lucky this 4th of July 2010?
I got some great news today. Nikki with Sam's Club emailed with an offer for a reader at Barbecue Master to win a Sam's Club membership for a year plus a $25 gift certificate on top of that.
Sweet! Low Prices are a Good Thing.
I don't have a membership at Sam's Club, because it takes me close an hour to get to the nearest one. But, I get a $25 gift certificate for a trip, and I will be looking for . . . drum roll . . . super prices on food to grill of course.
I've been to Sam's Club with my sister and with a friend once, and the prices are really nice. With the economy now, that is even more important. But, hey, I don't need to tell anyone that.
Win a Membership and Gift Certificate to Sam's Club!
I keep my contests simple and low tech. I don't see any reason to make folks jump through all sorts of hoops, and I don't keep a big email list and that sort of thing. My goal has always been to provide good information and help for home grillers.
If you leave a comment about your favorite food to grill or what you plan to grill for the 4th of July, 2010 here on my blog, you have an entry. Just be sure that I have some way to contact you like an email if you don't blog and have a link back to your space where I can get in touch.
If you're like my Mom who usually draws names out of the hat for contests at Barbecue Master (literally), then you may not like to put up any information online. In that case, then feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Then, I'll just add you to the hat and email if you are the winner. I don't put you on any lists and only share any information if you win, because then I need an address, so Sam's Club can send the prizes.
For a second entry (some folks like to up the odds), follow me on Twitter where I go by cyndiallison (-: Not too original. Just my name. You'll meet a lot of fabulous barbecue people if you join me at Twitter, and if you already follow me there, then add that to the post, so you get the extra entry.
For a triple entry, you can mow my yard. Hey, just kidding. It does need mowing, but I am waiting for this record breaking heat streak in North Carolina to break this week. The weatherman promised, so I'm holding him to that.
Feel free to pass the word to your friends and family about the Sam's Club contest. I know I'd be excited with a membership, but I suppose I'd have to move which is not in the cards right now.
The winner of the contest will be drawn on Thursday July 8th (9 pm EST) to end the 2010 4th of July week with a big bang and to start the next weekend off on a great note. Mom is off galavanting, so I'll get one of my little nieces or one of the church ladies to draw. Once I get ahold of the winner, I will post. So, GOOD LUCK! I hope I will be contacting YOU with good news.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Hell's Kitchen - The Barbecue Edition - NOT
I was really stoked when I heard that Chef Gordon Ramsay was going to have, for the first time ever, barbecue at Hell's Kitchen. The previews pumped the bbq theme and even had some of the contestant chefs chasing pigs around.
Hum . . . perhaps they would have North Carolina style pork barbecue in Hell's Kitchen. I could just imagine the smokers out back. Ah. Heaven.
I settled down to watch Hell's Kitchen, and then they gave the menu. It would be ribs, burgers, and fried chicken and all made inside in the kitchen. Then, it seemed everyone ordered burgers or chicken - not that ribs made as on the show would be classified as barbecue anyway.
So, What the Heck?
Honestly, I can't imagine a professional chef being so off the mark on a type of food. Serving burgers and fried chicken as barbecue would be about like dishing up some Spaghetti-Os and calling that Italian cuisine.
Barbecue is a noun and is food but varies from area to area across the United States. Here in North Carolina, it is chopped pork on a bun. In other areas, it might be ribs or brisket and often beef. But, barbecue is the meal and not how the meal is cooked though many people will say they are going to barbecue (and then grill food).
I just overlook that and help people who want to have fun on the grill or with a smoker and those who do want to make actual barbecue. But, that's the general public. Ramsay is probably the most well known chef in the world, so it is not cool that he does not appear to know what barbecue is or how it is made.
What the BLANK are YOu Doing?
Ramsay had his usual melt downs on the chef contestants. One put chicken to fry in with the French fries and others got orders messed up. It was the usual mayhem on the program with Ramsay ranting and cursing.
But, in the end, the one who needed a good dressing down was Ramsay on this one. He would not appreciate one of his favorite foods being disrespected. He'd be all over that. Yet, he has barbecue that is fried chicken and other assorted foods that are most definately not barbecue. I never even saw any ribs (but could have been on a bathroom break if they showed some), but fast baked ribs would certainly not qualify as barbecue either.
I don't know what the heck (ought to use the word he always uses) Ramsay served on his barbecue edition at Hell's Kitchen. It looked to be perhaps a cross between Southern food and fast food - but not even that. It was a bad night in Hell's Kitchen, and this time it was not the aspiring chefs who messed up. It was Gordon Ramsay.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
First, I hand patted the hamburgers which does make a big difference, and I added about 1/4 cup of feta cheese right in the meat as I was mixing and patting. You can use ground lamb which is more traditionally Greek, but we only had ground beef or turkey here.
For five burgers here, I had about 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef. Quarter pound in 80/20 (lean to fat ratio) tends to shrink and be a little skimpy, but a full 1/2 pound burger is more than I can handle.
Sticking with the Greek theme for these grilled burgers, I used tomato and cucumber which would be what they serve in salads in Greece. Lettuce is rare, but I did add some, since I like lettuce on hamburgers. Then, the topping is tzatziki which is a Greek condiment with yogurt and cucumber.
You can, of course, switch up with what you like on burgers. The stand out flavors here were the Garlic Gold Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette used as a marinade and the Garlic Gold sprinkles for flavor. These are products that I have found to be really fabulous.
Be sure to also check out my Greek potatoes on the grill with Garlic Gold. Those went over so well that they are my "grill these often" list. One of my buddies at Grillers Index saw them this week and made them, and he thought they rocked too. It's just hard to beat Greek potatoes especially on the grill with a little smoke flavor.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
I just got a new copy of the New York Times bestseller Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook by Phyllis Pellman Good from the PR firm. This is the revised and updated edition. I have the original (bought that one), and it rocks, and so does the new one with even more cool stuff to make in the crock pot.
You may be wondering what the Barbecue Master is doing with a crock pot and great crock pot cookbook. Well, I know some of the BBQ guys give us all heck for crock potting, but if you are doing a full meal and on your own with some teen boys for helpers, then I can tell you that the slow cooker can be a godsend.
So, here are the top 10 reasons the Barbecue Master has a slow cooker going at her barbecue bashes and why she loves Fix-It and Forget-It and gives the book for gifts to grill buddies and to new cooks.
10. Most grills are not that large. Most guests do not want to eat grilled meals in shifts. We are not talking gourmet courses here. Why serve up the meat and make everyone wait another hour for the potatoes.
9. Keeping the hot dog chili warm on the grill is just fine, but it takes up space on the grill - plus is easy to scorch that chili.
8. Some things do not do that well on a grill. You can crock pot a dessert and have it simmering along rather than trying to figure out how to make a cake that is burned on the bottom and soggy on top on the grill.
7. Grilled egg plant does not make the top 10 list on any list that I know of. Better to have a good crock pot side than a flabby veggie never meant to be grilled.
6. You can't be two places at once, and it is not a good idea to catch the kitchen on fire trying to make something in the oven while tending the grill outside.
5. Prep is an issue if you try to do the whole meal on the grill. I can swing it, but I would not recommend it to new grillers. Master one thing at a time, and let the crock pot simmer along and cover parts of the meal.
4. There is no reason to let the slow cooker or crock pot gather dust. With 700 recipes in the Fix-It an Forget-It Cookbook, you get extra mileage and with very little wear and tear on your nerves.
3. If you don't have some parts of the meal easy to cover, then you are a lean (or not) mean grilling machine. And, grumpy hosts are not a good thing. Take the load off with something in the crock pot.
2. Teen boys seem to have no sense of the smell of burning food. They will get to watching the ballgame and forget to go check your oven dishes. This is not an issue with the crock pot.
1. If you totally wreck your grilled meal, you still have something tasty going in the slow cooker if you use the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. After all, 5 million people can't be wrong.
Be sure to sign up for my news alerts. I never see your contact info, but Google lets you know when I write something new. that is over to the right side. I'll hook you up with a great baked bean (well crock beans really) recipe here soon.
Happy grilling, and let the crock pot make your entertianing easier when you need to do a full meal for the family or buds.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
It was brats night at our house. Brats and other sausages or hot dogs are easy to grill, but you do need to know what type of wurst you are using.
In the South, the variety on brats is slim, but Johnsonville makes really good ones, so I go with Johnsonville brats.
Before I grill brats, I simmer them in beer with a half stick of butter and onions. I put a few holes with a fork in the brats so that they absorb the flavor.
I keep the brats on a low simmer for around a half hour or until they look kind of gray as you see above. They are pretty well cooked by this point and have absorbed a lot of flavor.
Sometimes I simmer the brats and then put them right on the grill and sometimes I do that ahead and grill later in the day.
When brats are simmered ahead, they really just need to be heated through well and on the grill to pick up that outdoor smoked flavor. By the time they have grill marks, they are ready to come off and that is just a few minutes.
Rolls for the brats have been the biggest issue. The main kind of rolls they have here are hot dog buns which are too small for brats and huge hoagie rolls that too big.
But, the Food Buzz team put me on a test program to check out Nature's Pride white deli rolls. They mailed out the bread, and I just try the buns and let readers know what I think - good or bad.
The Nature's Pride deli Rolls turned out just perfect for the brats and had a nice fresh flavor. I hope they get them in the stores around here soon, because these work better than what I've been able to find locally.
The Nature's Pride bread products are 100% natural. They do not use arificial pperservatives or colors and no high fructose corn syrup. Also, the buns are split prior, and some people around here have a heck of a time getting a clean cut on rolls that have to be cut with a knife.
Our brats turned out fabulous. Boiling them in beer and butter makes a huge difference. The boys love our brats. They got some at a ballgame and were quite disappointed. It is sure hard to beat homemade as they've discovered. They much prefer meals at home than at a restaurant - even when the meals are super easy like grilled brats on deli rolls.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Tonight I decided to try making Greek potatoes on the Traeger pelllet grill. Kathy had sent me another bottle of Garlic Gold Olive Oil, and I still had some of the Garlic Nuggets Original. When I got the package, I started thinking about the Greek potatoes that I so loved when I lived in Greece.
Generally, I do Greek potatoes in the oven but usually not in the summer when it's hot due to the cooking time. Hitting the grill with the potatoes made sense, and Traeger is a convection (or lid down) outdoor cooker.
If you do not have a pellet grill, you can do the same here with the lid down on a gas grill or kettle type charcoal grill or by putting aluminum foil on top of the pan on an open charcoal grill. The only key really is to contain the heat so that the potatoes cook through.
First, I peeled six potatoes. The amount can vary. You just want a single layer. I could have put in more, but we only had three eating tonight.
I put the potatoes in a gallon zip lock bag and added:
1/4 cup Garlic Gold Olive Oil
3/4 cup water
1/2 fresh lemon juiced (just the juice in there)
I shook up the potatoes so that they were well coated and then put them in a throwaway aluminum pan. The pan size is probably about 9 x 12.
After I put the potatoes in the throwaway pan, I added a little fresh ground pepper, parsley, and some Garlic Gold Nugggets. We all like garlic, so I added those for more garlic flavor. With just the oil, people know the food tastes great, but they can't usually place the natural garlic added to the oil. So, you can serve the Garlic Gold Oil and never even blip the radar of those who think they do not like garlic. But, you can zip things up with the Garlic Gold Nuggets both before or after cooking.
I grill smoked the Greek potatoes on high on the Traeger for an hour. That was just right for the almost all of the water and oil to absorb and for the grilled potatoes to be browned. That is what you look for, and I'd say the times (depending on the grill or smoker) could run from 45 minutes up to an hour and 45 minutes. You can check by sticking a fork in one of the potatoes. It should be nice and soft.
The guys were seriously impressed with the Garlic Gold Greek Grilled Potatoes and said to put the recipe on the keeper list. I would have to agree even if I did make them. They taste like authentic Greek potatoes but with a hint of smoke. Yum. Talking about some good stuff.
I get Garlic Gold online. Both the natural Olive Oil infused with a hint of garlic and the nuggets which shake on like a seasoning for cooking or at the table are fabulous.
Monday, June 07, 2010
This weekend I sent the guys to the store to get "something" to grill and to surprise me. And, I reminded them to look for sales, because it's not like we're rich except in what counts - family.
The boys picked up country style ribs. Those are not really ribs. They're cut kind of below and between other basic cuts so are sort of random cuts. Some will have bones and some not, but they are nice and meaty. The taste is more like pork chops but juicier at least when slow smoked.
These can go on the smoker or can be cooked slow and low on a charcoal or gas grill. The trick there is to heat only one side and put the meat on the cool side. Then, keep the lid closed and let the meat sizzle along slowly for about an hour up to an hour and a half.
I had some of the new Char-Broil Memphis rub that I'd been wanting to try out, so I rubbed the ribs up good with that and then put them on to smoke.
The ribs were great dry Memphis style, but I did sauce them after I tried out one with the rub. The sauce is also new in the Char-Broil line. I didn't take a picture of the bottle, because it was not labeled. When Tom was out to visit for me to test a new grill prototype, he brought the rub and sauce.
No. I don't work for Char-Broil or any other grill company or related. That's the main reason they wanted me to test out the new design. So, they'd have a neutral reaction to the idea. My day job is actually teaching, and I write online freelance and for fun.
In any case, the new Char-Broil sauce was really good too. It's a mild sauce but does have a lot of flavor. It's more robust than Kraft which we use too, but it's not real hot like some of the small brand lines which have to be ordered online.
The verdict from the guys was thumbs up all round on both the Char-Broil rub and sauce. There was enough flavor for the spice freaks and was mild enough for the younger son who runs when he hears the word hot. These would be good for company, because you never know who eats what and how hot.
While we were eating our country style ribs, we had a visitor who I think was wanting some ribs. My son went outside and got this picture of Mr. Frog. He did not get to come in, because the last time my son brought a frog in, he let it get loose and it croaked real loud under my bed all night.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Today is World MOINK Day - not that we ever need an excuse to fire up some MOINKS on the smoker or grill. It is pretty neat to see others across the globe doing the same though, and if you've never tried MOINKs, then I invite you to join in the fun.
First of all, you may need to know what MOINK balls are. They are the creation of The BBQ Grail, and you can read the history of MOINKs at his site.
The basic idea is that you take frozen meatballs (thawed), wrap them in bacon, and slow grill or smoke them. The idea is simple but delicious, and The Holy Grail is not impressed if you try to fancy up his MOINKs. He does cut us homemade meatball rollers some slack, since we can't all find frozen meatballs at our grocery store.
How to Make MOINK Balls
First you let your frozen meatballs thaw out, or just roll up your own as I've done above. And, then add seasoning. The Holy Grail uses Yardbird Rub, but I have Not Your Average Cajun Seasoning on mine. It's not a spicy mix - just a solid, balanced and really nice flavorful seasoning.
Then you wrap the meatballs in half slices of bacon and stick a toothpick through to hold the bacon in place. Be sure to soak the toothpicks for 20 minutes or so first, because dry wood does burn. And, you do not want to catch your toothpicks on fire.
I usually add a little marinade on my MOINKs before they go on the barbecue grill. A lot of people dip them in barbecue sauce for the last little bit of grilling time for more flavor, but my boys prefer them without sauce. So, I just splash a little something on. In this case, it was just apple juice.
MOINK balls can go right on the barbecue grill grates, but I use a grill wok. That makes it super simple. I don't have to turn or move the MOINKs once I put them in.
Here you see the grill wok in a Traeger smoker, but I've also used a PK Portable Cooker and the Weber Kettle grill with the coals offset. They also work on gas grills. With the Char-Broil Big Red, I just use burners on one side and put the MOINKs on the side without heat so that they just slow grill.
Here are our National MOINK Day MOINKS. And, yes, they do taste as great as they look. I first made them during the winter when the Winter Grillers at Grillers Index were talking about them, and now I make them really often. Everyone goes wild for the MOINKs, so I get MOINK requests every week or two.
Click on the little map button below and see BBQ Grail's map of MOINKers. There were so many on the east coast, I could not get my little marker on NC or even see NC, so my lavendar marker is in the ocean. I did not really MOINK on a boat though (-: But, that would be interesting.
Friday, June 04, 2010
"BBQ 25" by Adam Perry Lang was not what I expected. It is different from the barbecue or grilling books I usually get.
This is not a bad thing. Many grill books try to cover too much ground. The concept here is that Lang covers the 25 foods you are likely to toss on your grill 90% of the time.
So, lets' say that you've never done a beef roast on the grill or maybe it's pork or fish. You find the classic meat cuts in the various types along with tools you need to do the recipe and then rub and sauce recipes for each plus step-by-step directions to do the selected cut of meat.
Each grilled meat (and there is a vegetable page) is a double page spread as you can see here. You literally have everything you need to grill whatever it is that you want to tackle.
Some of the rub and sauces listed on the left side are a bit complex with a lot of different ingredients. You can, however, use commerical rubs and sauces, especially if you are just starting out. I like to make barbeuce rubs and sauces, but I also love to play around with different ones especially the small batch sauces I buy online and some of my favorites that I carry at my OpenSky Store.
So, don't let long barbecue rub and sauce recipes scare you off. They are excellent, but try your hand at nailing the basic techniques for cooking the meats and then get fancier.
Also note that this barbecue book is made like the board books for kids. The pages are thick, easy to turn, and you can wipe them off. If you have a bbq sauce accident or knock over your beer on "BBQ 25" - no problem. Just wipe it off. That, I think, was a very good plan.
* I was sent an advance copy of BBQ 25. This is common in the media world, so newspapers and bloggers get a chance to check out new books and let readers know if they are worth buying or not. My only stiuplation on review copies is that I'm going to call it the way I see it, and I do. If you follow my blog or other writings, you know I'm honest to a fault, including telling you my own barbecue and grilling mistakes (so you don't make the same ones).
Thursday, June 03, 2010
I have driven down I40 for years now, but I've never stopped off in Mebane (meh-ban) to check out A & M Grill which is actually a North Carolina wood burning barbeuce joint. I haven't been avoiding it at all - no way - just never seems to be the exit at meal time.
This week, I took my son up to Chapel Hill which is only a half hour or so beyond Mebane to his new apartment and his summer job, and we planned our time around getting to the Mebane exit for lunch. We are, after all, a BBQ family, and it's a darn shame to miss a wood burner (barbeuce place that cooks over wood) especially when it's not all that far away.
A & M is off I40 exit 153 with a left turn on NC 119 if you are headed east on 40. Not sure on the flip side. You go about 3 miles and turn right on US 70, and then the barbecue place is on the left around a half mile. So, it is not far off the main road if you are traveling I40.
Now, you could see A & M was not a fancy place from the outside, and it was the same inside. Frankly, be quite suspect it you go to a place that adveritises barbecue in NC and looks too uptown. You are probably going to get electric smoked barbecue or even worse gas or electric smothered in liquid smoke sauce. I'm not a picky eater, but that just gags me.
A & M Grill Barbecue did not have the kitche decor that we get with most barbecue joints here in North Carolina. There were no deer heads or plasic pigs and such. If I had not smelled the smoke in the air, I would have guessed fish camp (fish restaurant - NC). They had dark blue on the top of the walls and tables with blue pattern wipe off tablecloths. It was homey and worked as a barbecue joint, but the wife must not have let the owner (if the owner is a man) hang up all his stuff all over like many of the NC BBQ restaurants.
You had a few choices on the menu. I think there did have fried fish and burgers and a couple of things, but I do not hunt up barbeuce joints to eat anything other than barbecue.
They also had specials every day, and Tuesday was a 2 sandwich with tea (sweet of course) for $3.95. Now, that's darn cheap. I would not cook pork for hours and sell it for that, but they did have that nice special. So, I got that. And, my son got the barbecue plate with two sides.
One thing that was odd to me was that slaw would be a side with the plate but came on the sandwiches automatically. We are not a slaw family, and I just know someone is gonna take our Southern cards away some day over it. So, I just did a "hold the slaw," and the kid got French fries (like always) but also fried okra which he shared with me - the big fried okra fan. Since I gave him my second sandwich, that was a good swap off.
You can see a barbecue plate here.
There is the smoked pork barbecue with sauce. They sauce that in the kitchen rather than at the table. Beware the bottle of red stuff on the table is ketchup which I hope you do not slop on your barbecue. The meat was good and smoky, and the sauce was quite tangy with vinegar but heavier on the red (tomato) than I'm used to. I prefer that on the table and to taste.
The fries were basic thick cut steak fries and hot, so they were fine. The oil was clean, so they were not greasy. No seasonings. Good basic fries.
The fried okra was very good. Some of it isn't. They do okra well at A&M Barbecue, and I appreciate it. The man next to our table (a regular who the waitress called by name) asked if we liked the okra and said it was his favorite. I told him it was very good, and it was.
My son enjoyed the heck out of his last meal before back to his college town where he does not eat so well. He lost 40 lbs the first year with the cafeteria, and he was not a big kid to start with. He is in an apartment now, and I hope he uses my recipes and also some of the good places to eat I've found near UNC like A&M in Mebane.
The barbecue was a little different from our piedmont Lexington style barbecue with a bit more red or tomoato in there, but it was really good and had that nice smoked flavor. Also, the staff at A&M were very nice as well as the locals eating there. So, it was a relaxed and fun lunch before I took the kid back for the summer, and with my extra sandwich to eat, he had enough for a carry out box on his full barbecue plate for dinner. So, I know he ate good twice that day at least.