Thursday, January 31, 2008

Monthly Roundup - January, 2008

The Monthly Roundup is back after a brief hiatus. A few of these are from November and December.

  • Serious Eats tells us about the most expensive coffee in the world. I had heard of this stuff before and was taken aback because the beans are collected after they are ingested and crapped out by an Asian Palm Civet. I don't think I'd drink this stuff for 5 bucks a pound, but at 200 dollars a pound, forget about it. I think I'll stick with Folger's, thanks.
  • Four (or five) reasons why ribs totally rock!! This is a nice little website I read daily through Google Reader. From their website:
    This is a blog devoted to lists on a wide variety of topics - usually offering four or five items/reasons, although we do reserve the right to do more if the mood strikes us.
  • Whitetrash posts a survey from the National BBQ News about what BBQers use for fuel, sauces, etc. It's an interesting survey, and not surprisingly, BBQers cook a lot, make their own sauces, and use mostly charcoal/wood. The survey is skewed because the people frequenting the BBQ News are more serious about their cooking than your average weekend warrior, but it's interesting nonetheless.
  • This is all over the web, but Serious Eats tells us that the FDA has approve meat from cloned animals for human consumption. A lot of people are up in arms over this. I'm not one of them. First, you're not going to be eating the clones anyway. They are way to expensive to be cutting into steaks. You're going to be eating their offspring (who won't be clones). Secondly, there is no reason to believe that the cloning process fundamentally alters the animal anyway. Much ado about nothing, in my opinion. I'm thinking of writing a full post on this subject sometime soon.
  • Ten ways to make a better burger via Men in Aprons. I'm a minimalist when it comes to my burgers. A little salt and pepper and a dash (seriously, just a dash) of wooshy-wooshy when I'm making the patties. Cook em' over medium-high heat, flip em' once, and melt some cheese on em' at the very end. mmmmm, good stuff.
  • Big Iron BBQ tells us how to unstick a stuck gas regulator. I didn't know this. If you'll recall I just got a gas grill in September after an 8 or 10 year stint without owning one. Learn something new every day, I guess.
  • The BBQ Guy shows us how to prepare and cook brisket. His method is pretty much how I do mine, with the exception of the Jaccard. I've never thought of puncturing the hell out of my brisket. It's definitely something I'll be looking into. Another think the BBQ Guy mentioned is that he prefers CAB briskets (a lot of people seem to). To me the meat grade (scroll down) is much more important. Unlike the BBQ Guy, I've had a lot of luck with briskets from Sam's. Both here in Nebraska and in Houston the Sam's sells choice beef (not all do). The reason folks like CAB is that nearly all of it is graded prime. Remember, CAB is a brand name, not a grade. I've cooked a select brisket once and there is definitely a difference between select and choice or prime. I've never cooked a prime brisket, but it's on my "to do" list.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Whatchagot Stew

So, a little before Christmas, Mrs. Hog and I were sitting around on a Saturday morning and wondered what we would have for supper. It had gotten bitterly cold here in Nebraska. In fact it got cold right after Thanksgiving and has been that way since. We've had snow on the ground since the week after Turkeyday. So we thought something inside would be good. Stews and soups always go over well when it's cold outside. We decided on a "whatchagot" stew. What is a whatchagot stew, you ask? Well it's called that, because whatever ya got...throw it in the pot. A few weeks earlier I smoked a couple pork butts. One of them I threw in the fridge after it cooled a little because I didn't feel like pulling it, already had some pulled pork in the freezer, and wanted some cubed stuff for an occasion such as this. Here's what I used in the stew:

  • A couple pounds of pork butt, cubed; I had kept the shoulder blade with a good bit of meat on it (frozen, of course) and threw it in, too.
  • Surprisingly, we didn't have any canned tomatoes (we almost always have some around), but we did have a big can of chunky spaghetti we threw it in the pot. See what I mean by "whatchagot" stew?
  • Ketchup
  • Frozen green beans, corn, and carrots. Use any vegetable you like and have on hand, frozen or fresh. Kidney bean, pintos, black beans, etc. would go well it it, too.
  • Fresh white onions, cut into good-sized chunks. That's a technical cooking term there, folks..."good-sized".
  • Potatoes, cubed
  • A big handful of my butt rub. Another technical term; "big-handful".
  • Sriracha ("Rooster") Sauce, to add some heat to it.
I think that's everything. Like I said, though, put anything in it you like. Put everything in to a pot sufficient to hold it all (this freezes well, by the way). Bring it to a boil, then simmer for a long, long time.

We got this on the stove about lunch time and ate it for supper at sixish. If you simmer it very slowly it'll be hard to cook it too long. Just come back every hour or so and give it a good stir. Mrs. Hog made some drop biscuits in a mini-muffin pan to go with them.

My Mom gave me a 9-quart dutch oven for Christmas, so I'll probably do this in the oven using the dutch oven when I do it again. I did a pork roast a couple weeks ago that I'll get up on the blog sometime. Obviously, a pot on the stove top works just fine for this. I've got some of it still frozen, and after writing this up I think I'll have to thaw some of it out soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Where did "Hogwild" Come from?

I've been meaning to post this for awhile now. In fact, I started it in May of last year (had a draft saved and timestamped on the blog). So, ummm, here ya go...better late than never, I guess.

No, I don't mean where did I come from. I mean where did the name "Hogwild" come from. Do a google search for "HogwildBBQ" and you'll see that it's a pretty popular name. I've used the name Hogwild for years, since college. My first login ID at NCState was Hawgsbreath. I worked with pigs in college (still do) and my buddies and I partied rather heavily...hence the Hog and Wild part, I guess. I changed my login to Hogwild during my Freshman year not only because it was "cooler", but because Hawgsbreath was just too darn long. I used it as my CB radio handle for many years. I still have the CB in the pickup, but don't use it as much as I used to. Hogwild, or some variation of it, has been my online "handle" for as long as I've been online. Hogw1ld (a one in place of the i) is my Xbox Live gamertag. My name at various websites and forums is Hogwild, Hogwild1, Hogwild60 (60 was my high school football #). All the variations are due to somebody having "Hogwild" on that website already. Hogwild (i, not 1) on Xbox Live never frickin' plays...I wish he would give up the name, already. Very infrequently does somebody think about BBQ when they see my name. I usually get one of two questions: 1)
"Where are you from... Did you go to Arkansas.... Go Hawgs!!" or 2) "What do you ride?" (as in Harley-Davidson). I usually reply, "huh?? Oh, no, I cook and eat pigs". :-D

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Smoking in Cold Weather

I told you that I would be smoking a couple pork butts last Thursday, so I thought I'd tell you about them. I did three things last week that I have never done before:

  1. Cooked in 10 degree weather
  2. Foiled pork butts, and
  3. Finished pork butts off on the gas grill
I got home from work last Thursday and, as you can see in the pic above, had to shovel some snow to be able to cook. It was about 19 degrees when I started to cook and quickly fell to the low teens after dark. I burned through about 90 lbs of charcoal in about 4 and a half hours. I was pushing the ol' Chargriller pretty hard at 300-325 degrees (I didn't want to be up all night....some guys gotta work, you know). The key in this kind of weather is to keep a good bed of extremely hot coals.

Make sure you give you fire a lot of air and don't worry about how much charcoal/ wood you use. I used up about half a bag of hickory chunks (giving off the flames in the pic) in addition to the charcoal. That's what happens in cold weather, I guess. To give you an idea of how cold 10 degrees is, take a good look at my out of place grease trap (i.e. the coffee can).

The coffee can got knocked over and you can see where the pork fat running out of the smoker is solidifying right as it hits the can.

When the butts got to about 150 degrees I wrapped them and put them on the gas grill over indirect heat to finish them off to 195 degrees or so. I couldn't get the far end of the grill up to 300 deg, so I had to drape a quilted moving blanket over it to hold the heat in. I didn't think about it at the time, but I should have just wrapped the butts and put them in the oven. I just don't think "oven" when I'm cooking BBQ.....but, I don't really think "grill" either. It was 10:30 or so now and I went in for a catnap while Mrs. Hog kept an eye on the butts (she gets to sleep later than I do and these were for her party). She woke me up about 12:30 and I took the butts off the grill. We let them rest for 20 minutes or so and Mrs. Hog and I pulled the butts at 1:00 AM Friday morning. Six o'clock came might early for me.

So, I did the butts in a little over 6 hours, which is by far the fasted I've cooked one. I forgot to mention that these were good sized (9 and 10 pounds) butts, too. It was definitely a successful cook, despite the unorthodox (for me) cooking style. The butts didn't have quite the smoky flavor that I usually get. The smoke ring was normal, though, so I'm thinking that the juices that collected in the foil kinda "washed" the smoke off the butts...maybe. The bark was also compromised by the the foiling. It wasn't as flavorful and the consistency was way off compared to what I'm used to. Anyway, I'm calling it a win due to the time constraints and the extreme conditions....not to mention that they tasted great. Mrs. Hog and I got a lot of nice compliments at the party we took them to. I think I'll pick a day closer to freezing for my next cook, though.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I'm Still Alive!!!!

It's been way too long since I've posted....way too long. Things got crazy at work after Thanksgiving and then Christmas rolled around. I've about caught my breath, but work has gotten hairy again for the next two or three weeks. I'm going to try to post some in the next little bit and then get back to normal towards the middle of February. I have a lot of stuff I want to get up on the blog. I'm actually cooking tomorrow for a function on Friday night....and it's frickin' cold here. I'll post pics of me smokin' in the snow.

Until then, I'll leave you with this picture of what a pork sandwich is supposed to look like (at least where I come from). Pulled with vinegar sauce on a cheap white bun with cheap white slaw on top. Tabasco or Texas Pete is purely optional.