Chicken with Grilled Corn Salsa and a Birthday!!

Happy Birthday!!

     Today is a very special day for us!! We’re celebrating a birthday!! And not just any birthday, but Griffin’s Grub first birthday!! I can’t believe a year ago we launched this site and made our first post (which was First Attempt at Planking, in case you were curious). A year ago, we had no idea where this was going and now, a year later….we STILL don’t…..but it sure has been a lot of fun! Even though we are celebrating, we decided to cook something healthy…..grilled chicken breasts, but to spice it up, we also made some grilled corn salsa! Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you can’t pack in some flavor. 😉

Chicken with grilled corn salsa

     And let me tell you, this is one flavorful salsa. The sweetness of the corn against the heat from the jalapeno, the acidity and tartness from the lime…..a flavor explosion. I can still taste it. Heck, I could have eaten the salsa by itself (and I did eat the remaining salsa straight from the bowl with a spoon).

The players in the salsa. There’s actually more here than what went into the salsa, I wasn’t sure on the amounts I’d need so I just grilled extras 😉

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of corn
  • about 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 to 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 to 2 chicken breasts (I believe this would also pair nicely with salmon or other fish)
  • fajita rub (I used Dizzy Pig’s Fajita-ish) or other southwestern rub
On to the grill at 400F

Directions

  1.  Set up your grill to medium high or about 400 F. If you hold your hand about 3 inches above the grate, you should be able to count  4 Mississippi’s before the heat forces you to move (interesting fact, huh?)
  2. Wash your fruits and vegetables and slice your limes and your onions. You may want to use a toothpick or two to keep your onions intact on the grill. Spray your vegetables with PAM and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Place your vegetables and lime on the grill, and turn every few minutes. Remove when charred on each side. The tomatoes will take the least amount of time (about 2-3 minutes) and the corn will take the longest (6 to 8). When done, remove vegetables and allow to cool.

    Ingredients for the salsa charred
  4. Using a sharp knife, trim the kernels off the cob into a bowl (yes, into a bowl, otherwise you are going to make a big mess everywhere, trust me on this). Dice up the tomatoes and onions and add to the corn.
  5. Slice the jalapeno in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and membrane with a spoon (this is where the heat is, for a hotter salsa, leave the seeds and membrane in). Dice the jalapeno and add to the salsa. (You may want to add a little at a time and adjust to taste. We like spicy food, but I think we got a freakishly mutated jalapeno as half of one was plenty for us)
  6. Finely chop up the cilantro and add to the salsa
  7. Squeeze the juice from one or two limes onto the salsa, for us one a half was perfect, but adjust to your taste.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. The salsa can be served now, but will be better if allowed to sit for an hour or two in the fridge.
Grilled corn salsa

     Not gonna spend much time talking you through the chicken breasts as we’ve covered that many a time already. Pound the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness, sprinkle on a rub of your choice, we used Dizzy Pig’s Fajita-ish, but any fajita rub, southwestern rub or even bbq rub would work. Grill direct at 400F for about 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through and always, always cook to temp, not time. You’ll want to pull the chicken when it reaches 160 and it will carry over to 165 as it rests.

Chicken with grilled corn salsa plated up

     I don’t know where you’ve been getting your chicken, but lately, ours have been freakishly huge. In fact, they have been so large, that one is usually enough to feed the Mrs and me.

Mmmmm….doesn’t that look good?

     After dinner we stepped outside to take in some fresh air and to see what was going on with the weather and guess what we saw…..not a rainbow….but a double rainbow!! Of course the picture doesn’t do it justice, but you could see both of them stretching all the way across the sky. I don’t know if that’s some sort of sign or what, but I thought I’d share it with you.

Double rainbow

     And what kind of birthday would it be without cake? We here at Griffin’s Grub aren’t great bakers. I see the wonderful desserts some of you whip up and am in awe, but that just isn’t our thing. Yeah, we’ve piddled around and made some cookies, and a Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie and even a Pineapple Upside Down Cake, but since we’re still recovering from Germany and trying to get things back in order, we opted for a slice of store bought cake. Admit it…..you really don’t come here for dessert ideas anyway. 😉

Lemon Creme Coconut Cake

     I still can’t believe it has been one year already! Time flies when you are having fun. I’ve learned a lot over the course of one year. I’d like to think that my cooking has improved, as well as my writing and my photography. This blog has forced me to be creative in trying out new recipes and expanding my horizons, getting out of the normal routine cooks and challenging my meager culinary skills. Along the way, I’ve found some great blogs and met some great friends who have inspired me and pushed me to try harder. A big thanks to Chris @ Nibble Me This, the others of the Texas Crew (Jen at Juanita’s Cocina, Adam at The Unorthodox Epicure and Christine at Texana’s Kitchen), Christiane aka The Mom Chef @ Taking on Magazines and too many others to name here who have helped me along the way by inspiring me and showing me how they do it. And more importantly, I’d love to thank each and every one of you for stopping by and checking out my site. Whether you are new and just stumbled on us, or whether you’ve been with us from Day 1 (and there aren’t that many that were here Day 1, let me tell ya), I am thankful for each and every one of you.

     I honestly don’t know where we are going with this. I’m going to continue to search out new and exciting recipes, tweak old recipes, explore barbecue from different parts of America as well as the world. I’m going to try to incorporate some healthy recipes as well, maybe dabble some more in desserts and baking. Really excited for football season to start so we can try out new appetizers and tailgating food. I’ve even got some ideas in mind for grilled soup…..Yep, you heard me, we’re gonna grill soup as soon as it gets a little cold here.

     So what would you like to see? Got any ideas of things you’d like to see me grill or barbecue? Or heck….maybe even try to cook on that oversized box in the kitchen? Or is there anything you’d like to see me change? As always, I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment. Thanks again for making our first year such a wonderful year and Happy Birthday Griffin’s Grub!!

 

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A Taste of Germany (Day One)

Romerburg Plaza

Well….we made it back. And unfortunately, I’m already back at work. No rest for the wicked, but at least we have a long weekend coming up. We had an amazing time, saw lots of cool things and tasted many new wonderful dishes, beers and apfelweins (think apple wine/cider), so I thought I would share some of them here for you. Here are just a few from the first day.

Flensburger Dunkel

     First thing we had to do upon arrival was hunt down a SIM card for some phones that Mrs. G’s work gave us to use while we were there. They don’t have 3G or 4G, so we were stuck with some old phones and they needed cards to work. I don’t know the whole story as I wasn’t really paying attention. Work details and all and I was on vacation. Just along for the ride. After a train ride and going to a couple of stores, we managed to find the cards and I thought a beer was in order as a reward. I got a Flensburger Dunkel, a nice dark beer that did not have a very strong taste.

Binding Pilsner

     Mrs. G got a Binding Pilsner. Turns out it is brewed in Frankfurt and served EVERYWHERE. We ended up drinking quite a few of these over the trip. After our beers, it is was time to find another train and head back to Messe Frankfurt to help Mrs. G set up her show.

Bitburger Bier

     Just ’cause I was helping, didn’t mean I couldn’t try another beer. I picked up this one at the show and let me tell you…it was NOT very good. Very bitter. I’m sure it was on the same quality level as Natty Light or the Beast.

Beers on Romerburg Plaza

     After setting up the show, it was off to find some dinner. Some of Mrs. G’s co-workers have been to Frankfurt several times and wanted to head down to Romerburg Plaza to eat at Romer Bembel, so we tagged along with them. I had a very nice Kapuziner Kellerweizen (think Hefeweizen) while Ronnie (another husband who tagged along for the ride) had a Kulmbacher Pilsner. Ok…enough of beers. I’m sure you are ready to see some food.

 Schniztel

    Ronnie opted for the Schniztel with potatoes and let me tell you it was wonderful. A schnitzel is a breaded pork cutlet that is dipped in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, then fried in butter or oil to a golden brown. It is traditionally served with a lemon wedge, which you can use to drizzle fresh lemon juice over the schnitzel. For those who are not so familiar with German cuisine … if you are in a German restaurant and do not know what to select off the menu, start with a schnitzel. You will not be disappointed.

Jager Schnitzel with spaetzle

     Mrs. G loves mushrooms (and spaetzle) so it was a no brainer that she opted for the Jager Schnitzel, which is a veal or pork schnitzel topped with a burgundy-mushroom or a creamy-mushroom sauce. Traditionally, this schnitzel is prepared without flour, egg, and bread crumb coatings. However, you will often find a breaded schnitzel topped with the sauce. I thought it was even better than the plain schnitzle.

Nurnberger Bratwurst

     Being in Germany, I wanted sausage and opted for the Nurnberger Rostbratwurst (or just Nürnberger Bratwurst) which is a bratwurst from the city of Nürnberg. It is made from coarsely ground lean pork and is usually seasoned with marjoram, salt, pepper, ginger, cardamom, and lemon powder. Each bratwurst weighs around 1 oz. and it measures 3-4 inches in length.  Let me tell you…..it was tasty. You just can’t go wrong with sausage in Germany (which we kept discovering throughout the trip). The sauerkraut on the other hand…..not so much. This sauerkraut is not what we’ve come to expect in the United States. It wasn’t very sour and in fact it was quite sweet. It hardly got touched. We did find sauerkraut later on in the trip that was similar to what we are used to, though.

     After dinner, we wandered around and checked out a few of the sites before finding a train back to our hotel. Stay tuned and I’ll share some more of our trip with you over the course of the following week, but make sure to check back here tomorrow as I have something quite special to share.

Marinated Grilled Flank Steak & Baby Bellas

Arghh….Wednesday already. That means that I’m probably somewhere between Frankfurt and home and my vacation is drawing to a close. Maybe I’m sipping on a Bloody Mary. Or maybe I snoring obnoxiously, disturbing all the other passengers around me.

To round out my week of guest posters, I’ve chosen Adam of The Unorthodox Epicure. I’m not sure when I found Adam’s blog, but I was instantly hooked. Over the following few days, I had to go back and read all of his “Confessions”. Some are serious, some are quite funny, but they all give you an insight into Adam’s mind and how he views the world. You may agree with him or you may think he is out of his mind, but he’ll definitely make you think. This might not be fair to bring up, but whenever I think of his blog, I always think of his hotdogs for Thanksgiving post ( I could not stop laughing after that one) or his “My Way” and other burger considerations. Definitely worth checking out.  So read on about his latest “Confession” about how no means no and then pop on over to The Unorthodox Epicure to get more insight into his quirky mind.

Oh, one more thing before I hand you off to Adam. If you like what you’ve seen the past week from Adam at The Unorthodox Epicure, Jen at Juanita’s Cocina, and Christine at Texana’s Kitchen, I am pleased to announce that the four of us…The Texas Crew…The Quatro Amigos will soon be launching a joint blog where we will be combining our skills and talents (or lack there of) and focusing strictly on Texas foods. So stay tuned as more details on that will be coming. And now here is Adam…

I was somewhat intimidated when Jason invited me to lend a post for his Germany trip. This guy has a fan base that I only dream about, and his followers include a lot of Egg owners. I’ve learned that Egg owners are right up there with Corvette owners (who typically have Vette shrines in their garages); Harley Davidson owners (who tend to worship their bikes, literally); and ‘Dead Heads’ — Grateful Dead fans, who live a certain Jerry Garcia type of lifestyle. And then there’s Jason, who can whip up awesome appetizers, a main course and dessert on this Egg thing -and- he knows what brand of Scotch to serve alongside. Plus, I’ll bet he’s a ZZ Top fan.

I’m just a guy with a Weber Q and a pit. Plus, as I mentioned in my blog not so long ago, I’ve taken a liking to cheating in the oven (the ‘indoor steel box,’ for all you Griffin’s Grub regulars). Still, I’m honored that Jason felt sorry enough for me to give me a shot.

 

Confession No. 55 — No means no. So do about 8,000 other phrases.

It’s pronounced and spelled the same in multiple languages and easily understood in many others. It won’t net you many Scrabble points, but the word can have some major implications in real life. It’s a word so simple that it’s commonly the first one children learn. Yet many of us tend to avoid at all cost pulling it from our vocabulary bag.

No.

In my many years of reporting news, I’ve heard the word ‘no’ sliced, diced and remixed at least 5,000 ways. Politicians, such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry, are experts at it. I learned this first-hand during an interview with him a few years ago.

Me: “Governor Perry, you have insisted that community college employees should not be entitled the same benefits as employees of four-year universities, although both are considered to be state schools. Knowing that community colleges have made hundreds of thousands of people job-ready — which has contributed significantly to our economy — is there any chance you’ll reverse your course?”

Perry: “This subject is really starting to make me angry. Community college presidents who disagree with me need to stop the name-calling and quit trying to settle this through the media.”

Coaches and players are equally good at distorting the word ‘no.’

Me: “Jeff (Russell), the Texas Rangers missed the pennant by [X] games this past season — the same number of blown saves you had. Do you feel responsible for the team not making it into the postseason?”

Russell: “It’s a team game.”

Yeah. Right. Sure thing, Jeff. Cloud the issue, just as the 19-year-old intern attempted to do at my work this past week when I told her to name her price for a modest project involving her exceptional artistic ability.

“Well, I’m not really sure how busy I’m going to be at school this year,” she told me.

Keep in mind that this person is entering her second year at the university level — with 11 a.m. class start times, regular imbibing of adult beverages in smoke-filled dorm rooms and deep under-the-influence debates about why socialism is utopia. This young artist happens to be going to school on scholarship for her talents with pen and ink, and her intellectual prowess (she was in the top 5 of more than 400 high school graduates). Yet, she couldn’t bring herself to use the second shortest word in the English language.

There are plenty more code phrases for ‘no,’ many of which I’ve heard or used multiple times.

  • I’m really tired tonight.
  • We’ll get back to you.
  • Well, I’m not sure. My step-nephew is turning 13 on the day of your party, and you only turn 13 once.
  • Ask your mom.
  • My head hurts.
  • I’ve had a tough day.
  • Um, I’m not sure, but my wife comes home later. Ask her.
  • Why didn’t you remember our anniversary? (This actually means ‘hell no.’)

Despite its negative meaning, ‘no’ is an extremely valuable word. Had I used it, instead of ‘maybe,’ I could have avoided the alarm system, water filtration unit and hardback encyclopedias. I might have been able to eschew the various missionaries who have knocked on my door in efforts to convert me. Perhaps ‘no’ would have saved me from a myriad of multi-level marketing presentations or timeshare pitches.

‘No’ might also go a long way to convincing me that tonight, only cuddling will be allowed.

Like what you’ve read here? Please, join me on Facebook, where the weirdness happens every day.


When I was a child, grilling steak generally meant throwing a T-bone onto the stainless grates and serving them well done alongside a baked potato and a salad. Of course, we always had a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and homemade ranch dressing (it was sold only in make-it-yourself packets back then). These days, we carefully consider the cuts. My wife’s favorite is a London Broil, topped with garlic and butter. The flank steak, which is more readily available in Texas than her home state of New Jersey, has a beefier flavor and is much more tender.

Marinated Grilled Flank Steak & Baby Bellas

With the right cut of beef, only a handful of ingredients and a few minutes on the grill are all it takes to have a restaurant-quality main course, and side.

Marinade
3/4 cup – Dry red wine
1/4 cup – Vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons – Dark Soy sauce
2 teaspoons – Freshly ground black pepper

1 – 2 lb. Flank steak
10 – Baby Portabella mushrooms

Bamboo skewers

1/2 cup (1 stick) – Butter
4 cloves – Garlic, minced

Rinse mushrooms, then slice in half (from top to bottom). Run skewer through 4-5 mushroom halves. Repeat with remaining mushrooms. Place skewered portabella mushrooms on top of steak in non-reactive container.

Mix all marinade ingredients. Pour over steak and skewered mushrooms. Allow to marinate in refrigerator at least 4-6 hours, or overnight, flipping container occasionally to distribute marinade.

Preheat grill to medium-hot.

Discard marinade. Grill flank steaks and skewered mushrooms simultaneously, about 5-7 minutes per side on the steak — until it is medium-rare. (The mushrooms might take a little less time, depending on grill placement.)

Remove steak and allow to rest for about 10 minutes. While steak is resting, combine butter and garlic in small saucepan and heat on medium until melted and garlic is aromatic. Slice steak thinly against the grain, and drizzle with garlic butter.

Serves four.

North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue from Gourmet Magazine

     The next blogger I have the pleasure to introduce you to is Christiane, aka The Mom Chef, from Taking on Magazines. I honestly can’t recall the first post of hers that I read. Something on the now defunct website Foodbuzz (good riddance) must have caught my eye, probably something to do with grilling or barbecue knowing me, although it could just have easily been some mouth watering dessert. That’s not important, though, her style and her real life stories kept bringing me back over and over again. Something about her site just says home to me and I feel like I know her and her family and could walk right in, sit down at dinner and talk like old friends.

     The Mom Chef’s take on blogging is a very unique and interesting one. She. Takes. On. Magazines. If you are like me, you’ve probably seen a recipe in a magazine, clipped it out and maybe even tried it (or maybe it’s sitting on your recipe rack in your kitchen or has made it into a file folder or a binder where it may never see the light of day again). Not the Mom Chef, oh no. She takes them on. In her own words,

What decided me to do this was the number of times I’ve made recipes from magazines and the results just don’t match what the articles say they should. Whether it’s the look of the thing, the taste or the amount that it should serve, I’m surprised at how often it happens. It made me wonder if these recipes should be tested in a regular kitchen with kids underfoot, animals prowling the room, husbands peering over shoulders and all the interruptions that the regular Mom Chef has to face.”

And she tells you how it is. She’s not paid by these magazines. She’s not paid to glamorize the recipes or help sell more magazines. She’s honestly critiquing them. Aside from her stories, my favorite part of her blogs are “The Verdict” and “What I’d Do Different Next Time”.

     Now before I release you into her more than capable hands, I want all you Texans to be on your best behavior and show her how polite we are down here in the Lone Star State. She lives in North Carolina and seems to have some mistaken beliefs about what barbecue is and what we do. Them folks back East seem to have this silly notion that barbecue only means pork shoulder or whole pig, maybe it’s because they can’t figure out how to treat a brisket or have had the pleasure of pulled beef (I kid, I kid). And she seems to think we get grilling confused with barbecue. We all know that ain’t true and we know the difference between the two and can do them both. 😉

     After you read her post for me, meander on down to Taking on Magazines and take a gander at some of her mouth watering recipes. I know you can find something to please your palate, whether you are craving some home cooking or a sweet tasting dessert. And let her know I sent ya. 😉

North Carolina Barbecue

You’d think that when someone asks you to do a guest post for them, it’s a pretty basic deal. You come up with a recipe, you write about it; done.

My husband obviously thought that, because when I received the note from Jason, asking if I’d do a post while he was out of the country, I immediately launched into my ever-increasingly embarrassing to my daughter happy dance. Then I had a heart attack. And he looked on with his jaw hanging to the floor.

You see, I had been asked to cook and write for a griller; a really great griller. That’s an honor. Hence, the happy dance. And the heart attack. Don’t get me wrong, I can grill alongside the best of them. In this world where men belly up to the fire more often than women, I am happy to be the exception, letting my pony tail bob alongside ya’ll with spatula in hand.

The thing is, Griffin’s Grub is based out of Texas, the land of beef. I live in North Carolina, where hogs rule. I can grill a steak; flank, rib eye, or otherwise like it’s nobody’s business. With other cuts of beef, however, the range is my home. The range in my home, that is. Beef short ribs? Of course; braised in wine with a chile puree in a Dutch oven; they’re divine. Chuck roast? A family favorite; slow cooked in my deep ceramic pot; it comes out tender, juicy and delicious.

Pork. That’s a different matter. Slap a slab of any pork product in front of me and my first thought is, ‘Oooooh, where’s the charcoal?’

For you folk that live in the LoneStarState, over here on the East Coast, we have two terms for what you do with that outdoor oven. Grilling is a verb used for everything that isn’t what I’m about to do. Chicken, beef, bison, lamb, even pork tenderloin and chop. They all get grilled.

Barbecue, however, is a noun and a verb and means only one thing. Pork shoulder. If your party includes less than ten people, yes, you can use just the butt or picnic, but for bigger parties, the whole shoulder (with skin) is the way to go. For those who are curious about  where the whole pig pickin’ term comes into play, it’s used when a whole hog is smoked. If you’re ever invited, don’t decline, even if it means you have to drive hours to attend. Picking hunks of perfectly cooked and seasoned pork straight off the grill is amazing.

Today, though, is about regular barbecue. I could go into all the things wrong with the title up there, but since it’s not my recipe, I won’t. Well, not much. Just a little. You see, since it is barbecue, there’s no need to say ‘Pulled Pork.’ That’s a given. Also, this isn’t North Carolina barbecue. It’s eastern North Carolina barbecue. Note the simple vinegar sauce. That’s what makes it so. Head west in my fair state and you’ll see mountains instead of beach and tomato in the sauce instead of vinegar.

So, are you ready to head to eastern North Carolina for some good barbecue?

The Process

If you had to choose the perfect day to barbecue, it wouldn’t be this one because it rained cats and dogs. Since the pork stays on the grill for 8+ hours, it’s nice to have some sunshine instead of needing to dodge raindrops every time you need to flip the butt and mop it, but I didn’t have the choice. Luckily, my grill sits under a nice overhang so while I got a little wet every time I went out to mop the meat, the grill itself stayed dry and at its perfect temperature.

Everyone who does a fair amount of barbecue has their own rub, mop and sauce to go with the pork. However, the main thing I do at Taking On Magazines is to, well, take on magazines. I make the recipes, as written, and review them for ease, taste, clean-up factor, etc. To stay true to my reason for being, I went back to an old Gourmet Magazine, because I knew it was their special grilling issue and that there was a recipe for barbecue in it.

Gourmet Magazine decided to go with a simple salt and pepper rub, which is fine. Mine usually includes a little brown sugar, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper and paprika as well. The magazine’s mop is pretty standard and the since some of the mop is kept out to use as the sauce, all is copasetic.

The idea, as with most low and slow grilling, is to keep the meat off direct heat and to keep the coals at a constant temperature. Because you love your pork, every half hour you have the pleasure of giving it a mop bath and flipping it over, whether it’s raining or not. Once it’s reached the right temperature, it’s a simple matter to let it sit for a few minutes, then shred it with a pair of forks. While the recipe says to serve the remaining sauce alongside the pulled pork, we prefer to just pour it in and let the meat soak it up.

Oh yeah, the coleslaw. I’m still working on getting used to it in the sandwich instead of a side, but coleslaw as a condiment is a must with barbecue. If you want the recipe for the Coleslaw that was provided alongside the pulled pork, you’ll need to visit me to read about it.

Pork Shoulder Roast

The Verdict

Ironically, I had to leave for a few hours to attend a birthday party (my husband took over the mop and flip for that little while) and the host had made barbecue, western style, for the shindig. It was a treat to have that available so I could compare East and West varieties on the same day.

The tomato-based barbecue was definitely delicious; sweet and a little tangy, but I really missed the oomph. The griller admitted to me that he prefers the eastern variety, but not knowing what level of heat the various guests would appreciate, and considering the extra spiciness of the vinegar sauce studded with red pepper flakes, the tomato-based version was the safe route. Additionally, he’d only rubbed the shoulder with salt and pepper.

I have to admit that I feel the same way. I prefer the vinegar-based sauce and this one didn’t disappoint. With a tablespoon and a half of hot pepper flakes infused into the vinegar, it made our mouths tingle. The added sugar did enough to keep the heat from being too much. It was tender, moist and delicious, cooked exactly the way North Carolina barbecue is supposed to be.

My husband must have thought so as well because he wolfed down two sandwiches without stopping for a breath. Dudette liked the tenderness of the meat but found the spiciness a bit much for her six year-old palate.

What I’d Do Different Next Time

I missed my rub. Next Time I would mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar, salt, brown sugar, cumin, chili powder and black pepper, 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper and 4 tablespoons paprika, rub that all over the pork, wrap it tightly in plastic and put it in the fridge overnight before I’m going to barbecue it. (See, two recipes in one.)

North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue

from Gourmet Magazine, July 2012 

31/2 cups cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons hot red-pepper flakes

1 8-10 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast (preferably butt end) with skin

Bring vinegar to a boil with sugar, red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 tablespoon pepper in a small nonreactive saucepan, stirring until sugar has dissolved; then cool. Set aside 2 cups vinegar sauce to serve with sandwiches.

While sauce cools, score pork skin in a crosshatch pattern with a sharp knife (forming 1-inch diamonds), cutting through skin and fat but not into meat. Pat meat dry and rub all over with 1 tablespoon each of salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before grilling.

Prepare grill for indirect heat cooking over low heat, leaving space in the middle for a disposable roasting pan.

When coals have cooled to about 300F (45-minutes to 1 hour; when most coals will have burned out), put disposable roasting pan on bottom rack of grill between the 2 remaining mounds of coals, then fill pan halfway with water. Add a couple of handfuls of unlit charcoal to each charcoal mound, then put grill rack on so hinges are over coals.

Oil grill rack, then put pork, skin side up, on rack above roasting pan. Grill pork, with lid ajar (for air, so coals remain lit), basting meat with sauce and turning over every 30 minutes (to maintain a temperature of 250-275, add a couple of handfuls of coals to each side about every 30 minutes), until fork-tender (a meat fork should insert easily) and an instant-read thermometer inserted 2 inches into center of meat (avoid bone) registers 190F, 7-8 hours total.

Transfer pork to a cutting board. If skin is not crisp, cut it off with at least 1/4 inch fat attached (cut any large pieces into bite-size ones) and roast, fat side down, in a 4-sided sheet pan in a 350 oven until crisp, 15-20 minutes.

When meat is cool enough to handle, shred it, using 2 forks. Transfer to a bowl.

Serve pork, cracklings, and coleslaw together on buns. Serve reserved vinegar sauce on the side.

Smoked ‘Loney

     What can I say about Chris? His blog Nibble Me This was the first blog I read (and knew it was a blog, I probably stumbled on some before that but didn’t know what a blog was or how it worked) and was the first blog I started actively following. In fact, he was the inspiration for me starting up Griffin’s Grub. So you have him to thank for that…or to blame depending on how you see it.
 
     Chris started out like most of us backyard barbecuers. He wanted to replicate a flavor experience he had as a kid. So he went out, bought a cheap offset smoker and went to work “and stumbled into the lifestyle of live fire cooking – all things BBQ, smoking, grilling, fire roasting, cold smoking, “stir firing”, etc.”
 
     Like Chris, I don’t have any formal culinary training, but have spent countless hours on BBQ forums trying to learn more and reading and rereading any grilling or BBQ books I can get my hands on. I like the way Chris stated it on his blog:
 
I have learned a wealth of information from all of those sources but my best learning experiences have come from the University of Fire, Trial, and Error. And that is what lead to starting this blog. Nibble Me This is a collection of my culinary misadventures in live fire cooking.
 
Honestly, don’t you think the best way to learn something is to screw it up extraordinarily and then realize, “Wow, I won’t do it that way again!”?
 
I look forward to the next adventure, the next challenge, and yeah, even the next failure.
 
     In this post, Chris (and his son, Trevor) tackle something I have not yet tried…smoked bologna or simply ‘loney as its called in the barbecue world. I’ve wanted to try this for awhile, but was always unsure of where to find a chub of bologna that wasn’t already sliced up. Guess I’ve got no excuses now. 
 
     So if you want to see a true pitmaster and one of my idols in person, read on and then make your way on over to Nibble Me This. If you can’t find something that is calling your name to try on your grill or smoker, then there must be something wrong with you.
 
Smoked Bologna
When my buddy, Griff, asked for a few folks to guest post while he is traveling I was glad to volunteer.  We Eggheads have each other’s back.  
 
Last week was “back to school” week here and Trevor (12) asked if he could smoke bologna to take for sandwiches that week.  If you have not had smoked bologna, then you have never had bologna at its best.  The smoke and spices form a crispy outer edge that amplifies flavor.  Yeah Oscar Meyer, my bologna has a first name, it’s S-M-O-K-E!Plus, it is the easiest thing in the world to smoke.  You can smoke it on a ceramic grill, a kettle grill, or even a gas grill set up with a foil pack of wood chips.  This was one of the first things Trevor learned to smoke back when he was 8 or 9 years old.

Trevor smoking bologna in 2009.

You should  not have a hard time finding a “chub” of unsliced bologna, most grocery stores carry them in their lunch meat section.  Some are whole and covered in red plastic.  Others are sliced into 1 or 2 lb chunks.  Either way works.  Note, the measurements given are approximate.  This is more of a “by sight” kind of thing, you are going for covering the entire outside of the chub.

Smoked Bologna

Ingredients

  • 3 lb chub bologna
  • 1/4 cup Yellow mustard
  • 2 Tbsp BBQ rub
  • 1/3 cup sweet BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Set your grill up for indirect heat at 250f.  In a Big Green Egg, you’ll use a plate setter or other heat shield.  For a Weber grill, bank your coals and wood to the sides.  For a gas grill, place your foil packet on the one burner that you’ll turn on.  Add your wood (see notes)
  2. Use a sharp knife to score the bologna in 1″ intervals.  Start at one end and work a diagonal line about 1/4″ deep to the other end.  Move the knife 1″ over and repeat.  Don’t stress out on it being perfect.  You’re going to slice it in the end anyway.
  3. Slather the bologna with the yellow mustard.  Nothing fancy here, you don’t need dijon, coarse grain, or brown mustard.  Plain cheap mustard works the best for this.  We just squirt it on as we go and rub it all over.  I’d guess it is no more than a 1/4 cup.
  4. Apply the rub to the chub!  Trevor used a rub recipe called Wild Willy’s Number Onederful rub but any general purpose BBQ rub should do fine.  You want to cover the rub all over and rather heavily. 
  5. Smoke it.  Place the rubbed chub on the grill and cover.  Let cook for 1 hour.
  6. Glaze it.  Use a pasty brush to lightly coat the chub with BBQ sauce.  We like to use a sweet sauce for this and today we used Blues Hog original BBQ sauce.  Let smoke for another 30 minutes and it is done.
Notes

  • For smoke we used a block of Mojobricks Hickory Mojo-cubes.
Firing up the Egg with a torch and wearing the required safety glasses and gloves.
Scoring the chub.  You don’t have to cut off the ends, Trevor just likes it that way.
Cover it all over.  
He started seasoning it by sprinkling it with rub.
But then had the idea of sprinkling rub on the cutting board and just rolling it on thickly.
Before glazing.
Sliced and delicious!
 
I saved some of the shavings from slicing it up and I’m thinking of crisping them in a saute pan (like bacon) and then making carbonara…or is that “bolognara”?