Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tiger Butt

A few weeks ago us Tech fans got our wish and we finally had a game kickoff later than 12:30pm against the Clemson Tigers coming in at #5 in the country.  For this momentous occasion I decided to cook a pork butt for the 12 hour tailgate (8am-8pm game time).  I had recently purchased a two-pack-o-butts from Sam's and froze it.  I pulled it out a few days in advance to defrost. I planned to cook the butt overnight on Friday and finish it in a cooler on the way to the tailgate Saturday morning.

I rubbed the butt generously with DP Swamp Venom (I was looking for a bit of bite with the bark of this butt) and wrapped it tightly and placed it back in the fridge overnight until it was time to cook.

After a rub-n-sit, this bad boy is ready for some heat.

I set the egg up for indirect and preheated it to 225º until it was stable.  I added hickory wood chucks and Jack Daniels barrel chips for smoke.  I monitored the grate temperature and butt temperature using my remote thermometer.  I let the butt cook through the evening with plans of taking it off at about 5am to wrap it and finish it by 8am.  However, I awoke at 2:30am to the alarm on my remote thermometer showing that the grill temp had dropped below 175º.  I went outside and noticed the outside temp had dropped into the 30s and opened the vents to heat the grill up and went back to sleep until 5am.  I again awoke and notice the grill was still hovering around 180º with an internal temp around 145º and decided that desperate times called for desperate measures and if this thing was to get done before noon I needed to finish it in the oven.  I preheated the oven to 300 and gave the egg one last chance to heat up. I left the lid open for a few minutes to try and get the coals going but to no avail.  I wrapped the butt in foil and finished it in the over for about 3.5 hours until the internal temp reached 195º.

Just getting going.

Chuggin away.

Despite my troubles the butt was very good.  It lasted all of 10 minutes and I wished I would have made the second one.  I came up with several excuses for why the egg would not increase in temperature and plan to avoid these in the future.  The sudden decrease in outside temperature probably initially reduced the egg temp and since only a few coals were lit at a low temp it would take forever for the other coals to catch.  In the future I will start a little higher in temp for overnight cooks during witch the outside temperature is expected to drop.  I also was using the end of a bag of Royal Oak Charcoal that had gotten damp. I thought I could power through with this but with 3 more bags in the shed I should have just opened a new bag.  I am planning a butt cook for the Titans/Falcons game this Sunday and will have a shot at redemption. Stay tuned.

The tailgate spread with the butt in the foreground getting devoured.
I need to get better about taking pictures of the pork after it has been pulled.

Storming the field after Tech won later that night.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Pizza

The other night, MBH said the magic words that are music to my ears "Can you cook tonight?"  Of course the answer to this question is always yes and then she said the second greatest words I had heard all day. "I'm craving pizza."  I love making pizza and actually just got a new rolling pin especially for pizza cooking.  I have been trying to get my pizzas thinner recently so I was excited for my first rolling experience.  I got a dough ball and some other ingredients from Publix and headed home to prep.

A problem I have had in the past with Publix's dough is getting it to stretch thin without bouncing back to a thicker, ball-shape (this could just be because I am using cheap dough from Publix but I have been too lazy to make my own recently).  One possible solution I have read is letting the dough get to room temperature before stretching.  As soon as I got home from Publix I cut the dough in half and left it out to rise and warm.  However, I was only able to wait an hour and a half before I was too hungry to wait any longer and the dough was still cool.  My room temperature experiment will have to wait til next time.  I stretched the dough as well as I could, rolled it out, and added the toppings.  On one I spread wing sauce, cheddar cheese, and cubed chicken.  On the other was store-bought pizza sauce, mozzarella, oregano, and basil.

These were the best looking pies I have stretched but I know I can do better.
Lookin good.

I used my standard pizza setup and got the egg up to 600º.  I threw one pizza on at a time for about 12 minutes each.  I started the za's on parchment paper and moved them directly to pizza stone to crisp the crust.  I kept an eye on the pizzas through the top of the egg.

Keeping an eye on the buffalo chicken pizza.

The pizzas were good as normal but these had their issues.  In the process of rolling these pizzas out, I used all purpose flour to avoid sticking.  However when I went to cook these they did not brown as expected due to the flour on the crust.  Also the crust had a flour taste when eating.  I also got a bit excited and did not let the crust get as crisp as I usually do.  My timing was consistent with past cooks but I think the extra flour contributed to this issue. Besides for this, the pizza was good, not my best, but good. 

I drizzled some ranch on the buffalo pizza. mmmmmmmm
Not the best crust.
I am going to have to up my game for the next pizza cook.

Bonus picture of where I spent the weekend, be jealous.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fish Tacos

I have an odd obsession with fish tacos.  I am always intrigued about how such a simple concept could lead to such a tasty meal.  I had never made my own fish tacos and came up with a very simple recipe I wanted to try out.  My goal setting out was to make my tacos as simple as possible.  I picked up some huge talapia fillets (each was a half pound) and set off to make some magic.

I used a purchased blackening season to liberally cover both sides of the fillets.  MBH prepped some Asian slaw and I made a chipotle mayo by combining peppercorn olive oil based mayo with some chipotle garlic hot sauce and set it all off to the side.

My plan was to cook the fish on the pan to avoid losing any part of the fillets in the grill.

I set the egg up for direct cooking at 400º with the grill extender to raise the cooking level away from the lump and threw on a halved onion and red pepper lightly sprayed with olive oil.  I let them cook for about 20 minutes before adding the fish to the mix.

I love grilled onions and peppers.

I let the fish get in on the action too.
I let the fish cook 7 minutes before flipping it and doing the same for the other side.  I left the onion and pepper on during this time as well. After the fish was done, I warmed up some tortillas on the egg.

The tacos consisted of the blackened fish, Asian slaw, grilled onions and peppers, and a little of the chiptole mayo.  The tacos were very good.  They we quite spicy which is preffered by MBH and me.  The cook was very quick and simple.  The tacos were excellent.  The thing I liked most about this cook were the endless possibilities for toppings with the fish tacos.  I will have to come up with something creative for the next attempt.  All in all a very good weeknight meal.

The finished fish had quite the kick and melted in your mouth.
I love me some tacos!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sunday Funday

Had a few friends that happened to be in town last weekend and wanted to do a little eggin' for the Falcons away game.  Sadly the Falcons lost but we did not.  I planned on making some wings and sausage and a friend brought some fresh corn to throw on the grill as a side.  I got a pack of wings and drumsticks from Publix and set off to watch some football.

I covered the drumsticks and wings in DP Swamp Venom and set them up using 2 wing racks. 

I placed the wing racks on the grate for direct cooking at 350º.  I let them cook for about an hour before brushing on some Louisiana Wing Sauce.  I let them cook for another 10 minutes before pulling them off and serving.

After pulling the wings off I threw on the shucked corn, chicken breasts, and kielbasa sausage.  The sausage took about 15 minutes until it was done and the corn took about 30 minutes. I cooked the chicken until it reached 160º internal which took about 40 minutes.

I have only done wings a couple times but these were the best I have made.  They had the perfect amount of heat and nice crisp skin.  I will definitely do wings like this in the future.  Everything else was delicious but the wings were the star of the show in my opinion.

One little guy got a little more done than the others per MBH's request.

The corn was  fresh and tasty.

The chicken was reserved mostly for lunches and the chicken
tortilla soup we planned on making later. (more on that to come)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Spare Ribs...Competition Style

Let me toot my own horn for a second when I say I have gotten really good at cooking ribs.  However, I am constantly looking for a bit of a challenge.  I have read a lot about peoples experiences with competition ribs and what is involved with making ribs look as good as they taste.  One of the common practices amongst competition bbq'ers is trimming the ribs. This is done to make the ribs look perfectly rectangular when done.  When trimming spare ribs you end up with a nice hunk of meat trimmings that cook just as well as the ribs.  I decided to give trimming a shot with my most recent rib cook.

After removing the membrane for the slabs, I cut off the sternum bone and rib tips leaving a nice rectangular slab of ribs.  I rubbed the ribs and tips with Conecuh pork rub MBH bought be and then cut the slabs in half.

Trimmed and ready for some rub.

I set the egg up for indirect cooking at 225º and used soaked apple wood chips for smoke.  I place the halved slabs on the lambda rack and employed the 3-1-1 cooking method as I have previously.  I employed the same method for the rib tips. After the ribs and tips were done cooking I let them rest for an hour and a half before cutting into more manageable groupings for serving.

I don't know why but it will only let me post the meat tower pic this way. (weak)

Served up.

Though it is not easy to see here, the ribs had a pretty decent smoke ring.
I might throw in a wood chunk next time to get an even more well-defined smoke ring.

I added a little Williamson Bros BBQ sauce and enjoyed some baked beans.

Next attempt at competition ribs will require a bit more of a challenge.  One of the presentation techniques used is to ensure the entire slab of ribs is intact.  This means I will have to lose the safety net of the lambda rack and halved slabs for the full slab flipping method.  Look forward to a post on this in the near future.  In all, the ribs were very good.  The tips were excellent as well and some favored them over the ribs.  Maybe one day I will be good enough to enter a BBQ day.

Monday, September 26, 2011

BBQ Chicken Pizza

It has been a while since I have flexed my pizza muscles on the egg and MBH and I were craving it recently.  She found a recipe for a BBQ and blue cheese pizza and set off to collect the ingredients.  We decided to use the publix brand dough to save some time and the remainder of the rotisserie chicken we used for the tostadas.  I already had plenty of Williamson Bros BBQ sauce and most of the other ingredients so I began prepping the pie.

I set the large dough ball out to rest and rise for about an hour. I sliced the dough into two pieces before placing the dough back in the fridge for another 30 minutes.  Finally, after another 30 minute rise at room temperature, I stretched the dough to form my pizzas.

I try to get them as thin as possible.
I am going to try rolling them next time.

The toppings.
On one pie I spread the barbecue sauce, chicken, sliced red onion, sliced red pepper, blue cheese crumbles, queso fresco, and sliced tomatoes.

One the second 'za I added everything as I did before with the exception of replacing the queso fresco with sharp cheddar cheese.

The second pie ready for action.
Before lighting the grill I did a bit of cleaning of the egg to make sure I got proper airflow for the high temp cook.

I preheated the egg to 500º and cooked the pizzas with the same setup I have used previously.  I cooked each pizza for approximately 10 minutes on parchment paper and 1 minute directly on the pizza stone to crisp the crust.

These were two of the best pies I have made yet.  The crust was perfectly crisp and the fresh ingredients made the pizzas very good.  I am not a huge fan of tomatoes but they worked perfectly with this combination.  I am going to try to make thinner crusts in the future.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken Tostadas

This is one of those cooks I debated posting on here but since I have so far documented everything I have cooked on the egg it must be shared.  MBH found a nice little chicken tostada recipe in one of the million Cooking Lite magazines floating around our house (it makes us feel better if we are looking at Cooking Lite while eating cheeseburgers and pizza).  The reason I debated posting this is because the recipe called for rotisserie chicken and I bought one instead of cooking one.  So though not all of this meal was egged I did as much as I could while the grill was hot.

MBH carved up the rotisserie chicken and prepped the avocado dressing.  I soaked some de-husked corn in water for about thirty minutes while the grill was heating up.  I covered the corn with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.

I had the egg setup for direct cooking at 400º and threw on the corn, some halved onions, yellow bell peppers, and halved jalapenos.  I let them cook until they each had a chance to absorb the smoke flavor and get a nice little char.  I pulled them off and de-cobbed the corn. I diced the onions, bell pepper, and jalapeno for the tostadas and set them aside.

Everyone is on and warming up.

Getting close!

De-cobbed corn.
(I may need to add this to my salsa in the future. It smelled and tasted fantastic)
After I had all the toppings ready, I brushed some olive oil on flour tortillas and threw them on the egg for about 2 minutes per side.  If you haven't figured it out yet, our tostadas were essentially everything I listed above, queso fresco, tomatoes, and some lettuce piled on to one of these bad boys.

These were good but not great.  Something was missing.  Obviously the healthy element comes from grilling the flour tortillas instead of using fried corn tortillas.  The flavors were all fresh and smokey but I like my Mexican foods with a little kick.  Next time I would add some jalapeno seeds to heat up the tostadas a bit.

Here is the spread of toppings.

The finished product.