Friday, February 29, 2008

Monthly Roundup - February, 2008

The best from cyberspace in the past month. It seemed to be a slow month in the food blogging world.

  • The Paupered Chef goes on a bourbon tour. I do love me some bourbon and Woodford is one of my favorites.
  • Not Martha makes a bacon bowl. This is one of the best things I've seen in ages. My regular readers know that I believe bacon is a gift straight from God. I'll definitely be trying this sometime. They could even make a salad fun!!!

That's all I got, but I will leave you with this great photo from Carl Huber. If you ran accross something cool in the cybersoup this month that I missed, let me know.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Steak Toaster

I was going to save this for the monthly roundup next week, but I just couldn't wait. What the hell is this world coming to? Officially, it's the Steakhouse Indoor Grill. Gizmodo has it right, though, it's a $220 steak toaster if I ever saw one. Oh, wait, I guess I've never seen one until now.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Smoked Cheese

Here is another post I've been meaning to get up for awhile. We had a lot of company over thanksgiving and I wanted to have some snacks around for all the football we were going to watch. It had been awhile since I smoked some cheese and I thought that would be good to munch on. I couple days later I smoked a chub of bologna (sadly, no pics) and made the best bologna and cheese sammies.

You can smoke pretty much any cheese you want, as far as I know. I chose a block of extra sharp cheddar (my favorite), pepper jack (always a hit), and swiss. The cheddar and jack were from Sam's, so they were huge. I cut them in half to maximize the smoke flavor. I "borrowed" a cooling rack from Mrs. Hog (shhh, don't tell her) to get the cheese up off of the grate.

The most important thing when smoking cheese is to build a very, very small fire. Basically you don't want any heat, just the smoke. It was pretty easy this time because it was in the 20s outside. I burned down some charcoal, added 3 or 4 briquettes and one small piece of hickory to the firebox. The aluminum foil is just there to keep the stuff from falling through the basket as it burns down.

Simply add small pieces of wood when needed. I replaced the charcoal once as well. With a little practice you'll learn what works for you and how long you need to smoke the cheese to get the flavor you want. I like mine pretty smoky, so I went 2 hours or so on these. Mmmmmm, cheese.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Smoked Eggs

I mentioned way back in my very first Monthly Roundup how I wanted to try some smoked eggs. I was cooking some pork butts overnight sometime last fall (that's how far behind I am getting stuff on the blog) and decided to do a fatty and eggs for breakfast. Sometime in the wee hours of the morning I put a fatty and three eggs on the smoker.

I didn't really know how long to cook them, so i just let them go until the fatty was done (160 degrees; a little over an hour). It was as simple as that.

If anything, the eggs were just a touch overdone, but not too bad. I just peeled the shell off of them and had smoked sausage and eggs for breakfast. It was fantastic. You can see where the smoke penetrated the egg shells and colored the white of the egg. they had good smoke flavor, but it wasn't overbearing. If you like hard boiled eggs, you'll definitely like the smoked eggs. If not...well, you probably won't like them. I'll be doing these again when cooking overnight. I'll do them again sometime to make egg salad, too. Oh, and smoked deviled eggs would be awesome, too. Yep, I'll definitely be doing the eggs again.

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.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

How NOT to Inject a Pork Butt

Not only do I tell you of my successes in my outdoor cooking, but I'll tell you about my failures as well. Failure may be a strong word in this case because the pork butt ended up very good, but the injection was surely a failure.

My buddy and I decided to "tailgate" at home before the NCSU/FSU football game last month. (Don't look now, but NCSU may get bowl eligible after a horrendous 1 and 5 start.) I had a couple pork butts in the freezer and moved them to the fridge on Wednesday night to be put on the smoker Friday night. The game was at 2:30 central time, so we want them done for lunch. If you remember from my last pork butt injection, I didn't really see a lot of difference with the injected butt. This time around I decided to use my Eastern NC vinegar sauce as a base, because I love the sauce. I strained the bits of pepper and stuff out of the sauce and mixed it 1:1 with apple juice. All is well at this point. I pull the butts out of the fridge and set one aside (uninjected, to compare). I start to inject the butt and realize to my dismay that the butt is still slightly frozen. It's not frozen hard. I can get the injection needle into it, but when I press on the syringe the liquid just runs out of the hole in the meat. I tried several different areas of the butt, but only got the injection to stay in the outer couple inches of meat. After messing with it a little while, I said "screw it" and just threw em' on the smoker. Slightly frozen meat does fine on the smoker, by the way. You'll actually get a bigger smoke ring.

So, the long and short of it is to never try to inject a semi-frozen pork butt. I should have checked it earlier in the evening. 30 minutes on the counter would have worked wonders. I was in a hurry the next day and didn't get pictures, but you can follow the links to beautiful pork butt pics.