Smoke Signals: The Future of Grilled Meats

What trends do we expect to see in the world of BBQ in 2012? I found this to be an interesting read about what some people expect to see coming in the future.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-we-can-eat/post/smoke-signals-the-future-of-grilled-meats/2012/01/16/gIQAKxuD4P_blog.html

I believe we’ll see more people buying ceramic/kamado type grills like the Big Green Egg, Primo or Kamado Joe. I see think more people will start integrating technology into their grilling/smoking by using products like the Maverick E-732 to monitor their temperatures and pit controllers like the Auber Instruments, Diqi Q or Stoker to keep their fires in check.

I think we’ll also see a change in the food we are cooking. With the droughts going on and the price of beef about to sky-rocket, I think we’ll see less brisket being cooked. Cooks will also begin to explore more local fruits and veggies and begin cooking things in season. Expect to see more people branching out and trying ethnic cooks from around the world as well.

So what do you think? How do you expect to see the world of BBQ change in 2012? Would love to hear your thoughts and comments.

Auber Instruments Pit Controller Test Run

Auber Inst. Pit Controller

      I had the day off yesterday for MLK and I thought what a perfect day to try out my new pit controller that I got for Christmas on a rack of ribs. For those of you who don’t know, a pit controller does exactly what it sounds like….controls the temperature of your pit. There is a temperature probe that goes inside your pit. When it senses the temperature of your pit is falling below your pre-set temperature, it kicks on a small blower similar to one you might find on a computer. The blower directs air over your coals, stoking the fire and increasing the temperature until it reaches a set point and then shuts off. BBQ has entered the 21st Century and become electronic and computerized!

6.5CFM Blower

This is the blower that will help to regulate the temperature in your pit by forcing air across your coals and stoking the fire. Notice the spring wire on the left had side. This will slide into the vent on your pit and hold the blower in place.

Attached to the Egg

In the above picture, you can see how the fan connects to the BGE over the bottom vent. There is a small adaptor plate that fits on the vent and then the blower is held against that plate by the spring wire. If you look closely at the adaptor plate, you will see that at one end there is a little bend. I actually installed that wrong and the bend should go in, not out like I have it. The way I have it, there is a gap that allowed air to flow into the vent. I did reverse it as soon as I took that picture and realized it. Oops.

Egg chugging away

 I will say that the instructions that come with the Auber Instruments are somewhat lacking. While it does cover how the controller works and how to set alarms, it does not go give any directions on how to use it with whatever type of pit you might be using. How do I set the top vent? Do I use The DFMT at all? If so, open all the way, or partially closed? If I am using a placesetter, do I put it in the egg and allow it to come up to temperature before turning on the controller? Or do I throw it in cold, plug in the controller and let it bring it up to temperature? I guess I’m going to have to play around with it and figure it out myself, unless somebody out there wants to give me some pointers.

For this cook, I let the egg come up to temp and then stabilize at 250. I then added the placesetter legs down and the grate on top of that. I clipped on the remote temperature probe to the grate. I waited another 15-20 minutes for the Egg to warm up the platesetter before plugging the pit controller in.

Spare Ribs

 For the ribs, I took a rack of spare ribs and trimmed then down St. Louis style. I then slathered them with mustard and applied a rub I received from my Secret Santa Booking It on www.greeneggers.com called Bronzeville Rib Rub from The Spice House in Chicago.

Ribs after 3 hours

After 3 hours, I removed the ribs from the Egg, wrapped them in aluminum foil along with some beer and some butter, then returned them to the smoker for another 2 hours.

After 5 hours

 After spending 2 hours in foil, I removed the ribs from the foil and placed them back on the Egg to finish up. While I was waiting for them, I thought a little bloody mary might be nice.

Bloody Mary

After a little less than 30 minutes, I pulled them from the Egg

Done

 Ready to eat!

Yum!

 We plated up the ribs with some creamed spinach with Asiago cheese and loaded mashed potatoes. I will admit, that the sides were pre-made from Tom Thumb and were the kind you just nuke, but I knew Mrs. G was going to be getting home late at an undetermined hour, so I couldn’t plan on when the sides would be ready. I figured she would be ready to eat as soon as she got home and wouldn’t want to wait and make something then. Sometimes, easy and quick is better.

Plated up

 So what are my impressions of the Auber Instrument Pit Controller? It is a reasonably priced entry-level pit controller (I didn’t want one of the fancy ones with all the bells and whistles). Seems like it is nicely built. The numbers are easy to read and it’s not too difficult to set. The fan is quiet when it kicks on (I could barely hear it over all the wind we had yesterday). My temperature never dropped below the 250 I had it set for, so that works. I do wish it had instructions for how to use with it with different types of pits. I guess I’ll just have to play with it some more and figure it out myself. Also, I wish they still included the gasket that seals the blower to the adaptor plate (the review The Naked Whiz did on his website mentions one), but apparently they quit including that from what the tech guy told me. I might try to call back and see if I can get one anyway. It seemed like it wasn’t really an airtight fit without it.

As for how the ribs came out…..not so great. They had a nice texture and weren’t dried out, but we did not care for the rub at all. It was way too salty and this is coming from a guy who adds salt to just about everything. It felt like my tongue had taken a swim in the Salt Lake. I don’t know if this is how people in Chicago like their ribs or just the way The Spice House does it, but I couldn’t get over it. I so wanted to like this rub, but it ruined the ribs for me. I won’t be using this rub ever again. So far, two of the three rubs my Secret Santa gave me were good, but not this one.

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Pot Pie

 Mrs. G and I like to cook whole chickens because it gives us plenty of meat to use for leftovers later on in the week. One less step you have to take later on. We are always looking for new recipes to try this out on. This week we decided to use our leftovers from the spatchcock chicken to make pot pie using a recipe her sister shared with us. I probably should have let Mrs. G write this one, as she did most of the prep work. I know she sautéed some onions and made a roux, then added half and half and chicken broth and then the veggies and chicken, but don’t ask me for amounts. It was then baked in the oven (Gasp! Yes, we do use our oven occasionally, I didn’t feel like firing up the Egg tonight, but I’m sure it would have worked just as well) at 425 for 30 minutes.

Coming out of the oven.

 I will take the blame for the less than pretty crust. Mrs. G says we need to take a baking class so we can make it look better. She might just be right, but if it tastes good, who cares?

Sliced up

 I think it turned out pretty good. The sauce was pretty thick and I’m sure it could have used a touch more liquid, but the flavor was good. Even though the chicken was cooked on the egg, it really didn’t have any smoke flavor to it since I did not use a lot of wood when I cooked it originally. This was a great way to use some left over chicken.

Red Eye Express Pork Tenderloin

Dizzy's Red Eye Express Pork Tenderloin

     My brother (who from now on will be called GM), came over last night to exchange cars with my wife as she was going to need a truck for work today. Since he was nice enough to let her borrow his truck, I decided I’d go ahead and feed him some dinner. A quick run to  the fridge and I saw that I had a pork tenderloin defrosted. Perfect! Quick and healthy cook. More digging around in the fridge and pantry resulted in some sides and I didn’t need to go to the store…even better!

     After rummaging around my spice rack, I came across Dizzy’s Red Eye Express, a coffee-infused BBQ rub. The label says, “While this rub has quite a bit of pepper, coffee is the theme. Aromatic spices, herbs and a variety of chilies round out the final result…a rich rub that works nicely with beef, lamb, poultry and pork.” I’ve tried this rub on steaks before and really loved the results, but I’ve never tried it on pork before. Seeing as how my brother had bought this rub for me as a present and had never tasted it, it seemed like the perfect rub for tonight. So I rubbed the tenderloin down and went out to fire up the Egg and get it ready for a 400F direct cook.

Tenderloin on the Egg

      While the tenderloin went on to cook for about 20 minutes, my wife sliced up some zucchini and squash, seasoned them up and skewered them on a Fire Wire (which is a flexible skewer). I let the vegetables cook for about 10 minutes, just enough to get heated up and a little char, but not overdone or mushy. As for the pork, always cook to temp, not time. USDA now recommends cooking pork to 145F with a 3 minute rest afterwards. How pink you can stand your pork is up to you…. we pulled at 145F tonight and thought it was much better than the previous tenderloin cook where we pulled it at 140F.

Sliced

      Tonight’s dinner was plated up with some grilled zucchini and squash, stuffing and a salad. The flavors and textures complimented each other and the pork nicely (as did the Turkey ;) ), but I knew I had nailed it when there was not a voice to be heard as we all dug into our meal. I do believe I heard my brother say that was the best pork tenderloin he had ever eaten.

Plated Up

 Now its got me thinking…..how would this work on a pork butt or maybe some ribs?  Hmmm….think I might just have to experiment.

Thanks for looking and please feel free to leave a comment or a suggestion.

BLTs on Home-made Bread

Home-made Bread

 Sometimes simple is better, and sometimes its nice to have a classic. It is classic after all. And what’s more classic than a BLT? To make it a little more “special” though, a little more “fancy“, I decided to make up some fresh home-made bread for these BLTs. I love the way the aroma of fresh baking bread fills the house. Before I could make my BLTs, I had to sample a slice of warm bread with a bit of butter first.

Home-made Bread With Butter

 Nothing beats warm, fresh bread with a bit of butter. After that, we assembled our BLTs and warmed up a little bit of Italian Sausage Soup (which can be found on this blog as well). This meal hit the spot. A classic is a classic for a reason.

Dinner is served