Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Pork Ribs with Big Butz Barbecue Sauce

I wasn't really planning to grill tonight, but it's such a beautiful day that I could not help myself. Since I have some work to do this evening, I got some pork ribs and put them on the Traeger which is a wood pellet grill. It's really no more difficult to smoke on a Traeger than to bake in the oven.

For the ribs, I went medium heat for an hour and then 1/2 hour on smoke. Now, I have sauced the ribs and will just let them sit on smoke for another hour or roundabouts.

These are small pork rib racks, so they do not take as long as bigger ones.

A good check to see if ribs are done is to get ahold of a bone and tug. The meat should be soft, and the bone ought to be close to pulling out. I guess that's why they call it "fall off the bone" ribs sometimes.

The sauce here is Big Butz. That's some heap good barbecue sauce. This is the original blend which is sweet but with a little kick of heat. Big Butz has hot and extra hot, but I am doing the regular tonight, since the younger son does not like his food too hot. The regular works for him, so it is not super hot. I think few people would find it too hot. I'm a hot freak, but I tone it down depending on who is eating. So, Big Butz original is a nice go-to sauce for any group or occasion.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

How to Grill a Ham - Easy and So Yummy!

A lot of folks are scared to grill larger cuts of meat, but hams are (or can be) super easy to grill or smoke. They just take longer, but the wait is worth it. And, you free up the oven for side dishes when you do the ham on the grill.

What Kind of Ham Do You Grill?

You can grill any ham on a grill. But, a pre-cooked ham is going to be easier, since you do not have to worry about actually cooking the ham. An uncooked grilled ham is great too especially if you have plenty of time.

Most families do pre-cooked hams for holidays anyway, so taking that idea, just get your favorite ham that you would usually buy. The one you see in my photo is a Hormel boneless ham. But, I switch around depending on the sales.

What Kind of Grill Do You Use to Cook a Ham Outdoors?

Basically, any grill (other than really small tailgate models) will handle a ham. You can use a charcoal grill like the Weber Kettle which is very popular, a gas grill, or a smoker.

How Do You Set Up to Grill or Smoke a Ham?

With a large piece of meat like a ham, you want indirect heat. Otherwise, you burn the outside and the ham has cold spots in the middle (or uncooked spots if you use an uncooked ham).

To get indirect heat on a grill, offset the heat. With charcoal, just push them over to one side. With gas, heat burners on one side but not the other.

Then, the ham goes on the side that does not have direct heat.

In either case, you grill with the lid down on the grill which is a convection method or rather like baking your ham in the oven. With charcoal grills, you will need to keep vents open to keep some air flow, or the coals will go out. With gas, no worries (unless you run out of gas).

Getting Some Smoke to the Ham

If you use a charcoal grill or a smoker with wood or charcoal, then you get the smoke flavor. With gas, just put some water soaked wood chips in a little aluminum wrap and put that on the grill beside the ham.

Adding Some Flavor to the Grilled Ham

The fun part is seasoning the grilled ham.

You can use the flavor pack and follow the directions, since many hams come with such packs, but I prefer to do my own seasonings and glazes.

I like to start first with just a little seasoning sprinkle like Pig Pen's seasoning which I just added to my OpenSky grill store.

Then, I like to mix some honey, brown sugar, and apple juice. Yes. This is messy. But, it is good. And, no, I do not really measure. I just work up a paste that will rub on. Then, I put some of that on the ham and then often add more off and on as the meat is grilling.

Keeping the Grilled Ham Moist

Depending on the grill temperature and other things, the ham can start to get a bit dry.

To take care of that problem, I just have some apple juice in a spray bottle and spritz the barbecue ham every 20 minutes or so.

How Long Do You Grill a Ham?

It is impossible to give an exact cooking time for a grilled ham, since everyone uses different grills and different types and sizes of hams.

On my Hormel ham above, it went around an hour and half in a Traeger pellet grill. In most cases, my hams stay on the grill or smoker from that time to up to 2 hours. The key really is just to get it heated through for an un-cooked ham. So, if you get your grill anyone close 350 degrees F, then that will give you a general idea.

With dedicated smokers like the Smokey Mountain Bullet which is fabulous, the temperatures are often lower, so more time may be needed to get the meat fully heated. Plan for, at least, two hours. But, you sure get some great smoke flavor.

When the Ham Comes Off the Grill or Smoker

Once I pull a grilled ham off the grill or smoker, I wrap it up in aluminum foil. That keeps it warm and lets the flavors settle in. And, then, I can work on the other parts of the meal.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Big Butz Barbecue Sauce Really is all THAT

I found Big Butz and his barbecue sauce over on Twitter whre you can Twit up with me if you want. And, yes, my Momma did tell me to be careful about those wild and crazy guys out there, but I must say that I have found some rocking and really stand up barbecue people at Twitter - guys and gals too.

Loads of folks were raving about Big Butz que sauces on Twitter. But, I had a backlog of bbq sauces in my refrigerator so had Big Butz BBQ on my list. Finally, I got the stock down enough to order more barbecue sauces this week.

I bought the four pack of Big Butz sauces, since I just could not decide on one. I am bad about that, I must confess. I hate to miss somehthing great - especially when it's a barbecue sauce. So, I got the original Big Butz, hot, extra hot, and the cranberry sauces.

Tonight we had grilled boneless chicken with original Big Butz barbecue sauce. I worked all day, and boneless chicken grills up fast. Also, I like to try chicken for new sauces, since chicken is mild flavored and let's me really taste the barbecue sauce.

When I opened the jar of Big Butz, it smelled so great that I had a taste before I even started grilling. Normally, I first taste sauces actually grilled on food and hot. But, I could not help myself. The sauce did taste as good as it smelled, and I could have just kept eating it with a spoon, but that is so WRONG. I have to watch that kind of stuff, or I would have to buy bigger blue jeans.

The grilled chicken with Big Butts turned out as good as I had heard and as yummy as I was expecting with that cold taste test.

This is a sweeter sauce than my other top picks, but the body on it is excellent. Even though Big Butz is sweet, it has a little zip in the original. It was not too hot for my younger son who can't deal with the heat. Overall, super balance. I would recommend the original Big Butz for anything you generally sauce up and for when you do not know how much heat guests can handle.

I can't wait to try out the hot and extra hot in Big Butz. I am a hot fan but rein it in for family and friends. I loved the original but think turning up the heat would rock my barbecue world. The sweet flavor was spot on and just perfect to contrast with a little heat. I did not add any more heat (so I could comment on the sauce), but I do have the hot and extra hot and suspect those will be my favorites in this line. I also think the cranberry sounds like a good bet.

At this point, I can vouch for Big Butz barbecue sauce original and say it is well worth looking up and buying. I'll check out the hotter versions when I have some hot foodie folks over and check back in on the extra heat.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Ostrich Jerky from the House of Jerky - Yum!

Tonight I had my son pick one of the jerkies from House of Jerky. He had a hard time deciding, but he finally settled on Western Ostrich jerky. He is not the most adventuresome eater, but I think he figured it would be cool to go to school and tell his buds that he ate ostrich.

As with all the House of Jerky products, the ostrich jerky was high quality. Thicker cut and with much more flavor than the jerky that is sold at the grocery store. Also, you can get more interesting flavors as far as the meats (like ostrich) and then more unique spices mixed in.

Ostrich is sweeter tasting and had some soy sauce and teriyaki mixed in with the peppers and other seasonings.

I eat a wide range of foods and have eaten ostrich before - but not ostrich jerky. I enjoyed the heck out of it. I'd rate the beef and ostrich (the two flavors we've tried to far) as equal. Both great.

My son, the meat and potatoes kid, said he'd vote on the pepper beef jerky. He liked the ostrich though and certainly chowed down on it. He said is was real good but just not as good as the beef. So, I'd say folks who eat more traditional foods may want to start out with beef jerky . . . and then check out some of the more exotic jerky flavors. For those who enjoy checking out new foods, ostrich would be a great pick.

Regardless, I don't see how you could go wrong with House of Jerky. A friend told me they had really great products, and he was right. I think I am going to be disappointed with grocery store jerky after trying these homemade tasting jerkies.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Grilled Pork Chops with Game Day Eats BBQ Sauce

This has been a rough week, but I wanted to crank up a grill and have a great dinner. I had some pork chops in the refrigerator and decided to turn on the Traeger and make some chops and sauce them down with Game Day Eats which is one of my favorite barbecue sauces.

I went with the Traeger grill, because it is so easy to use. You just turn it on, and then you chill out. No babysitting. The Traeger pellet grill holds even temperatures, so you just press the on button and select smoke, medium, or high and cook to times like you do with a home stove. It really does not get any easier with outdoor cooking.

I am a barbecue sauce nut. I could go broke with this sauce habit, but I would go broke happy.

Some nights I like to experiment with new barbecue sauces, but tonight I wanted a sure thing. And, I had some Game Day Eats bbq sauce in the refrigerator. There's no way to go wrong with that one. It has enough bite for me but not so much that my mild sauce son turns red in the face and runs for the water faucet.

Really I would say that Game Day Eats barbecue sauce is a super all purpose sauce, since it is robust but not over the top. It is fresh and has a wonderful kick but is not going to freak out any family or friends.

Here is the pork chop I ate tonight - smoked on the Traeger and sauced with Game Day Eats. It was a super easy grill night, since all I did was turn on the smoker and lather on some good sauce. I do more high maintenance meals, but it is hard to beat an easy and sure one especially if you are not clicking on all cylinders.

House of Jerky Rocked My Day with Some Jerky That Tastes Like Homemade

My son brought in the mail today, and he said we had a package from House of Jerky. Now, we love jerky around here, so I was pretty stoked.

I opened up the box and was drooling, but I wanted to wait until this evening to actually try out the jerky. I'm a night person, and I save treats for later in the day.

I did have to check out the jerky though, and there are just so many that they offer at House of Jerky. They have beef jerky which is what I'm most familiar with but also turkey, buffalo, and ostrich jerky.

After spending the morning working and the afternoon shopping, I ripped into the black pepper beef jerky.

Oh man!

This jerky is the real deal. I do buy grocery store jerky, and it is fine. But, some of my family members make homemade jerky, and it is just the BEST. It's like the difference between grocery cake and the ones you make at home. No comparison.

House of Jerky has that thicker cut and the flavor jolt that you get when you make it yourself. Honestly, if someone had just handed me a piece and not shown me the package, I would have sworn this jerky was made by a relative who knows how to rock the jerky.

My son in college loves jerky and especially really great jerky, so I am going to mail him some or save him some. Maybe I better mail that jerky, or I might just accidentally eat it. His birthday is next week, so I think I will make him a care package with gifts and food.

The black pepper beef jerky has a kick. It is not super hot, but it does have some heat. Of course, pepper is going to be hotter. So, if you like spicy foods, go for the pepper. If not, then get ones that do not have the pepper.

Regardless, if you are a jerky fan or if you have never had real jerky, then check out House of Jerky. If you have had homemade jerky, you will find that this jerky is very much like that. If you have never had the real thing, then you are in for a real treat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Gourmet Barbecue Sauces to Spice Up Your Life - Or Great for Hostess Gifts

I love to find great new barbecue sauces, and Melanie's Big Acres bbq sauces are just divine. Whew. I can't believe I just said "divine" on my blog, but that really does capture these gourmet sauces.

All Natural BBQ Sauces

I always like to see natural barbecue sauces. They just taste better. So, here is what Melanie says about her sauces:

"Absolutely no preservatives, MSG or corn syrup. Only the finest all natural ingredients are selected to bring customers a superior product."

And, yes you can taste the difference. The flavors are just fresh. No after taste and strange stuff like liquid smoke.

Not Your Typical Tomato Sauces

These are gourmet barbecue sauces, so you get much more interesting flavors than just tomato with a little heat.

Melanie has come up with Chipotle Maple BBQ, Chipotle Peanut, Ginger Teriyaki, Mango Peach Chile, Milagro Mole, and Rich & Mild BBQ. Yum. Even the names of the sauces make my mouth water.

Now, sure, I use bbq sauces from the grocery store. Always have some bottles on hand. But, I really love to get the small batch sauces (great ones anyway). Then, when I want a special dinner or have company, I can rock it out with something that stands apart. These bbq sauces definitely fit the bill and add some thrill.

Treat Yourself or Someone Special to Gourmet BBQ Sauce

I have added the complete six pack of Big Acres sauces to Yes You Can Grill OpenSky. That's my little barbecue store where I carry only my very favorite barbecue and grill products.

I like to pop open a bottle of Big Acres sauces every couple of weeks. Also, I find that these elegant and tasty sauce make great hostess gifts. It seems everyone brings wine these days. Then the hostess has to decide if the wine should be served or not. With special barbecue sauce, it's clear that the hostess gift is meant to be enjoyed later when the hostess has a chance to relax after hosting a nice party.

Melanie has some wonderful rub mixes too, and here is some chicken we put on the grill with her rub.

Grilled Mini Bagel Burgers - Cute and Fun

I love bagels and grilled burgers, so I decided to come up with a good recipe combining both.

Full sized bagels are awfully filling. My boys could handle those, but I wanted something a little lighter, so I got the mini bagels. I guess you could say I went with bagel burger sliders.

I made my hand patted burgers but a little smaller, since the little bagels are about three inches across. I did not measure out the meat, but I'd say that I went with a generous 1/4 pound per burger at 80:20 (lean to fat) and keeping in mind that I'd have shrinkage with that fat content.

On the bagels, I just brushed on a little butter. Olive oil would also be fine. I placed the flat part down on the grill just long enough to heat the bagels and to get some grill marks on the inside part of the bread.

My younger son is good at art, and he said, "Wow. Those look like magazine food." They really did turn out cute, and they tasted great.

I'm sure full sized bagels would work fine with this burger bagel recipe, but that would be a whopping big burger. I found the mini sized bagels were just perfect for me, and the boys just got seconds.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

How to Grill Hamburgers on Your Barbecue Grill

Make Sure Your Grilled Burgers Turn Out Yummy

My neighbor grilled some hamburgers and wondered why they did not taste like mine.

She started out with pre-formed patties (kind of like McDonalds). She did not marinate the burgers. She cooked them on a gas grill. Since they got done fast, she plopped them in a crock pot with Kraft barbecue sauce.

Well, OK, that is one way to do grilled burgers, but you likely will not be thrilled with your results if this sounds like your method.

I wrote a guide for making great grilled hamburgers at my Yes You Can Grill site. That will give you all the basics for nice juicy barbecue burgers that taste fabulous off the grill.

Over time, I have found that people will do some odd things when grilling and especially hamburgers, so I collected tragic tales and put together a grilled burger trouble shooting guide too. If I missed any grilling disasters that you've had with hamburgers, just let me know, and I'll add to the guide.

Hamburgers really are easy if you know how to grill them, and hamburger meat is inexpensive and often on sale. So, master the burger, and you will have a safe go-to meal on the grill.

If you're looking for a yummy marinade to try out in place of Italian dressing (which is very good), then one of my favorites is Wild n Mild barbecue marinade and sauce which is now back in stock at my OpenSky store. Wild n Mild has a nice sweet taste but with some zip - especially in the Wild version. But, it is not over the top. Even my mild loving son can handle both the Wild n Mild marnades.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Grilled Meatballs Wrapped in Bacon with Wild n Mild BBQ Sauce

MOINK Balls Marinating in Wild n Mild Barbecue Sauce/Marinade

Wild n Mild barbecue sauce is a thin mop style sauce. That just means that it can be brushed on the whole time your're grilling as opposed to tomato based bbq sauces which can only be put on near the end of the grilling time (or the sauce burns). In addition, Wild n Mild can be used as a marinade. So, it is one of the most versatile of my barbecue products.

After I discovered MOINK balls (hamburger wrapped in bacon and smoked) last month, the boys have been wanting those every weekend or more. MOINKs are easy to make but do take about an hour and a half to smoke. Well worth the wait I must say.

The way I made the MOINKs is to roll the burger up and marinate in Wild n Mild barbecue sauce/marinade. That gives the meat some moisture and also a sweet flavor with some kick especially with the wild version of Wild n Mild.

Then I put the meatballs in a grill wok and let them smoke on low heat until the bacon is done which runs right at the hour and a half mark.

I can't buy Wild n Mild around here, so I added them to my OpenSky Yes You Can Grill store. Now I can get Wild n Mild delivered right to my house. And, I can keep the MOINKs rolling off the grill. Yum! They really are delicious.

A lot of people like to dip the MOINK balls in barbecue sauce for the last 10 or 15 minutes of smoking time. Any barbecue sauce is fine. We like to use Chef Hymie Grande which I carry at OpenSky. I was first blown away by the taste of the small batch sauce. When I found out that it had the National Diabetic Seal then I knew I'd be keeping some on hand, since some of my family members are diabetic. I show them the bottle, since this is a sauce you would never guess is healthy. It is THAT good.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Save-A-Lot Foods in Charlotte Officially Open

I headed out to Charlotte, NC to the grand opening of the new Save-A-Lot grocery store at 3033 Freedom Drive. I was invited out as a North Carolina food blogger and was excited, since I don't think I've ever been to a ribbon cutting for a grocery store before. Probably not. I think I would remember that.

The day started off stressy, because I borrowed my son's TomTom, and he had the sound shut off. There is nothing much more useless than a GPS that does not talk to you. I stopped three times to try to fix that including getting help, but all the kids were in school, and none of us older folks could get that figured out.

Since I allowed an hour and a half for an hour trip, I made it about 5 minutes before the grand opening. WHEW! I hate cutting things close like that. Next time, maybe I'll camp out or buy my own TomTom and hide it from the boys, so they do not mess with the settings.

In any case, I made it to the Save-A-Lot - which is always a good thing when folks are looking for you.

The North Carolina Secretary of Commerce, J. Keith Crisco, was one of the special guests at the Save-A-Lot opening. I snagged him for a photo, since I'd promised some of my grill buddies that I would come back with, at least, one photo to post at Grillers Index.

Mr. Crisco is probably wondering who the heck grabbed him for a picture (-: But, he was a great sport. And, now he knows the Barbecue Master was at Save-A-Lot.

During the ceremony, Mr. Crisco noted that it was good to have stores offering low prices including healthy foods like fresh produce. Some of the budget grocery stores are slack on produce and meats, but Save-A-Lot has a nice selection. It's fresh too. I just ate a yellow delicous apple from the store.

Another thing noted by Mr. Crisco is that the new store in Charlotte means 25 more jobs in the area. Since there are six new Save-A-Lot stores in the Carolinas, that means several new openings which is a good thing with a 11% unemployment rate in NC currently.

Another VIP at the opening was the mayor of Charlotte, Michael Foxx. I'd not had a chance to meet him before, and he was very personable.

Mayor Foxx recalled that when he was a kid, his family would have to drive a good ways to a grocery store. The prices in his neighborhood were too high, or the quality was lacking. He was glad to see Save-A-Lot come to the Freedom Drive area of Charlotte, and he proclaimed today as Save-A-Lot Food Day in Charlotte.

I was expecting a traditional ribbon cutting where someone simply cuts a ribbon and declares the store "open." Save-A-Lot made it more fun than that. They had the VIPs roll some really cute little kids around in baskets on a scavenger hunt around the store.

To start off the grocery hunt, they lined up the carts and pushed through an opening day banner. Then, it was all over the store to find the food items on the list. I had to laugh when one little girl told Mr. Crisco that she really thought they needed two loaves of the wheat bread. She is going to grow up to be a savvy shopper I'm sure. And, Mr. Crisco grabbed her a second loaf.

The grand opening of Save-A-Lot was fun. Everyone had a super time - especially the kids. There were large carts perfect for shopping with little ones and with plenty of space to make a big grocery run. The grown ups got earth frinedly Save-A-Lot shopping bags with food samples like cereal, brownie mix, and fresh produce.

If you missed the grand opening, you can still check out Save-A-Lot in the Carolinas and get $5 off $20. Also, sign up for the Save-A-Lot club online. They have recipes and also print off coupons to take to the store. The coupon is good through 4-10-2010. Check out Save-A-Lot early to get extra savings on top of the already super low prices.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Save-A-Lot Grocery Store Ribbon Cutting in Charlotte, NC

Save-A-Lot - New Store in Charlotte, NC

I'm headed to the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Save-A-Lot grocery store in Charlotte, NC to blog tomorrow. It is the location at 3033 Freedom Drive. The other new stores are in Kannapolis, Shelby, Fayetteville and Lexington, NC.

Save-A-Lot is new to North Carolina, but they have 1200 stores across 39 states. Save-A-Lot is a low cost grocery store with a focus on low costs with a good selection of fresh produce, dairy products, and fresh meats. As a griller and barbecue person, it is appealing to have the fresh items (and especially meats) at lower prices.

Save-A-Lot Features Fresh Produce at Low Prices

I've not been to a Save-A-Lot discount grocery store before, so I'm excited about checking it out. They emailed and then called to invite me out for the ribbon cutting. I'm impressed that they took the time to look up North Carolina food bloggers (and especially grill/barbecue folks) and to include us in the roll out of the stores. Some companies kind of overlook the online communities.

I was telling my brother, who lives in Dayton, about my plans for tomorrow. He said he shops at Save-A-Lot there in Ohio and that they do have good products and great prices. He entertains a lot, and he watches the budget but likes quality food products, so I was glad to hear that he knows and likes Save-A-Lot.

Another thing I would note is that Save-A-Lot is donating $25,000 to food banks in the local communities where they are opening stores. I notice things like that. Companies used to work hard at being good corporate neighbors. That kind of got lost over the years. It is nice that Save-A-Lot is helping here in North Carolina where many people have lost jobs with Cannon shutting down and Freightliner cutting way back (just for a couple of examples). Also, opening up grocery stores in the state means more jobs which are much needed.

Save-A-Lot Makes a $5000 Donation to Second Harvest Food Bank, Charlotte

I'll scope things out tomorrow at Save-A-Lot. I have my Acer netbook, digital camera, and notebook packed. As always, I'll tell you what I really think. That's why I blog. I like to share solid information whether it be easy-to-follow grill recipes, coupons, reviews or just thoughts from the woman grill cave.

If anyone has thoughts, observations, or tips on Save-A-Lot, be sure to leave a comment. I have my credit card packed too (-: So if you know of anything I should definately add to my grocery list, hit me with it.