Bob's TOWs (Tips Of the Week)

2006

Wood Vs' Charcoal

 

OK, we all want to barbecue our meat and produce the most flavorful meal on the block or even in the county. Well, here are some ideas for you to ponder.

First, we do not recommend using freshly cut, green wood that has not had the moisture cooked out of it. The resins and other constituents have the effect of tainting the flavor of your meat. Charcoal, on the other hand has much of the wood flavor cooked out. Not all flavor, but considerable. The smoky flavor you taste comes as much from the fats and juices dripping on the coals and then rising in the form of smoky flavor. Always burn the wood down to red hot coals before adding to the fire.

You might also try locating small raw pieces of wood, wood shavings or even hardwood sawdust from a person or company doing woodworking. Even a school wood shop has bins of sawdust. Sprinkle or place these on the coals for additional wood flavoring. Even better, these small pieces of wood are probably free! Good luck!

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BBQ Ribs on a Weber

Adapted from an article in the Portland, ME Times Record. The Moose and Lobster Preservation Society, winners of "Best Ribs in New England" at the KCBS sanctioned Pig and Pepper 1996 competition in Carlisle, MA, describe their technique for slow-cooking ribs on a Weber kettle style grill.

Buy one or more whole racks of ribs (end-on or "St. Louis Style" -- ask your butcher) and coat lightly with olive or vegetable oil using your hand or a brush. Sprinkle lots of "rub" on both sides and ends, patting and slapping it firmly into place. Surface of meat should be completely covered with a layer of rub. Wrap each rib in two layers of plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours.

Bank a small amount of coals on one side of the grill and let smoker warm up for 20-30 minutes. Stick a meat thermometer in the top or side of the grill (you may need to drill a hole), and work the fire to stabilize the temperature around 200-300 degrees. Hotter fires will significantly shorten cooking times and not allow slow-cooking of the meat.

Soak hickory, mesquite, cherry, apple or other wood chips in a bowl of water for 20 minutes or more, and sprinkle small amounts on the coals every 20-30 minutes or as often as desired.

Optional: Partially fill a small disposable aluminum pan with water and place at the bottom of the Weber or partially over the coals. Fill as necessary during the cooking process.

Place ribs away from the heat source, on the side opposite the banked coals. If you have two or more racks of ribs, use a 'rib rack' purchased at your local hardware store for $10 to help stand the rib racks on their side next to each other. Place rib racks thick side up/bone-end down, so the small ends stay moist.

That's it! Sit back for 4 to 6 hours, watch the smoke rise, and drink your favorite beverage. Don't forget to add soaked wood chips every so often, and keep the water pan half full. You may want to turn the meat in-place to give each rib end or side equal time nearest the heat source. If you're curious whether the ribs are done, try cutting one off and eating it (cook's privilege). The meat should be pink around the edges (called a 'smoke ring'), pull cleanly from the bone and taste nice and smoky.

Before serving or for the last 10 minutes of cooking, lightly brush each rack with your homemade barbecue sauce. Cut between each rib, brush again with sauce if desired, and serve. Make sure you save a few ribs for yourself -- they'll go quickly! You're now a real, slow cookin', wood smokin' barbecue chef.

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TIPS FROM GORDON RAMSAY ON MANNING THE BBQ:
1) Don't pierce meat with a fork – flavorful juices can be lost!
2) Keep your mouth shut!
3) Don’t disrespect your ingredients!
4) Never leave your station!
5) Don’t desert your team!
6) Hot food is always served on a hot plate!

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One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to barbecuing is cooking on too high of a temperature. Turn down the heat - in most cases, medium-high is hot enough.

•  Make sure you have a good set of basic equipment, including a water bottle to spritz any flame-ups, barbecue gloves, a brush, tongs and a meat thermometer (instant read thermometers are especially handy).

•  For kebobs, use metal skewers. They're less likely to burn and will cook more evenly. Also be sure not to overstuff your kebobs - leave enough space between pieces to allow the heat in.

•  Skewer meats and vegetables on separate kebobs - they are more likely to cook evenly.

•  Keep in mind that marinades do not make meat more tender; they simply add flavor.

•  When you're cooking a whole meal on the barbecue, clean the grill between courses. Brush it and burn it off for up to five minutes to avoid the transfer of flavors and also fend off any potential allergic reactions or food safety concerns.

•  Use two sets of tongs - one for raw meat and one to take the cooked product off the barbecue.

•  Don't sauce too early - add just before the product is cooked to maximize flavor.

•  Keep your grill clean and well-oiled. Brush it and burn it off on high heat for up to five minutes after cooking. Then turn it off and brush with oil. You can also use a cloth soaked with canola oil instead of a brush.

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When it comes to cooking pork roasts:

 

·  Indirect heat, with the barbecue lid down, is the most desirable method to cook Pork Roasts.

·  Pork is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meat rest for 15 minutes before carving to set juices.

·  Be sure to use an aluminum drip pan with water, underneath the roast to prevent flare-ups. Drippings from pan provide juices for basting or gravy.

 

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This one was inspired by conversation with George May

 

Know at what temperature you are cooking. Your barbecue pit is different than any other. You are using different charcoal (briquettes or lump) and the temperatures due to wind and weather affect the overall temperatures. When factoring all of this into the heat equation, are you cooking at 200 degrees F. or are you cooking at 350 degrees F.? If you don't have a clue, then you are lost and have no idea when the meat will be done. The temperature of the barbecue pit affects the rate at which you are cooking. If you are cooking a brisket or perhaps ribs at 300 or 350 degrees F. then you are going to have some overdone meat that is tough. This is a "no-brainer". Some pits have several thermometers to register the proper temperatures.

In controlling the heat, always keep the upper air exhaust vent fully open. The lower air intake vent should be adjustable to regulate air flow to the fire and thus regulate the temperature of cooking.

Not all meats cook at the same rate and therefore constant monitoring of the cooking process is essential to perfectly cooked meat. This monitoring is easily accomplished by obtaining an inexpensive meat thermometer. They are usually $10 bucks or less. Nice ones that read digitally are about 3 times that price and there are some that are like indoor/outdoor thermometers which constantly monitor the meat's internal temperature without ever lifting the lid. They also have new ones that read by remote sensors!

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Here is a Tip for Chicken:

Only season the skin of fowl if the skin is to be eaten. Your seasoning will not penetrate the skin and flavor your bird. If you would like to infuse your bird with flavor, rub your butter, seasonings or herbs under the skin. And baste the skin of your chicken with butter or oil before putting it on the grill or in your oven. This helps keep it moist and helps the browning process.

 

2005

Cooking Whole Chickens

You all know the problem right? The breast is dry and the legs are pink! That's because the legs have more fat and connective tissue in them. Most people cook their chicken or any birds, breast side up. And when you go to cut it up, there is no juice in the breast but the backbone in moist and tender and full of flavor from the juices dripping down during the cooking process.

TURN IT OVER! Try cooking your chicken upside down. This way the legs are sticking up in the air and will get more direct heat and the juices from the backbone and legs will cook down and keep the breast moister. And remember to baste with fat only! Basting with water or stock washes away the protective natural fats.

If you are cooking a large bird like a capon or turkey, remove the wings and legs from the breast and cook them all separately. Remove each part from the grill as it is done.

Rib Rub tip

 

When preparing your ribs for barbecuing, and just before putting the dry rub onto the ribs, lightly coat the ribs with some everyday ordinary garden house variety yellow mustard. Yes, many of you will think, gee whizz, I hate mustard. Well, never fear, the taste is unnoticeable with the smoke and spice. What is important is that the mustard does two wonderful things . . . . . FIRST, it helps hold on the dry rub. Less will fall off and thus the ribs will be tastier. SECOND, it helps set up a nice tender crust on the ribs. Just a little resistance before getting into the meat!

 

Marinade Safety

 

You're in the kitchen, you've made this fantastic marinade and the meat is soaking up the wonderful flavors for hours and hours. Now it comes time for cooking . . . . . and you think . . . .  . . . . I sure hate to waste this great tasting marinade, I'll just use it on the meat as a baste or sauce for additional flavoring! <<< Caution >>> Before using the marinade, BOIL IT FOR 2 TO 3 MINUTES! Why, you might ask? Well, there is bacteria on all meat. When the meat is cooked, you kill any germs which may be lingering around when the temperature rises above 150 to 165 degrees. The same bacteria is in the leftover marinade as well. For safety's sake, boil the marinade and kill the bacteria in it. Be safe - - -

SLICING / PRESENTATION

Even bad BBQ can be decent BBQ if it's sliced and/or presented the right way. Take brisket for example. There are two different grains on a brisket. The point grain will go one way; the flat grain another. After cooking, separate the two pieces. Using the flat portion, make sure to cut AGAINST the grain, not the length of the grain. The brisket is made up of long fibers of meat. If the brisket was a little "under-cooked" these fibers will be quite chewy if you cut "with" the grain. If thinly sliced against the grain, even this brisket should be tender enough to eat. For a nicely done brisket (and some will argue this one!), take the brisket to a temp of 185 degrees internal temp. Wrap the brisket in foil, then wrap a towel around it, and place it in a small, dry cooler. Two to so hours later you will have a tender, tasty brisket ready to eat! I don't necessarily do it this way any more, but it does work.

As for pork... pork cooked to the "right" temperature will pull off the bone without taking a knife to it. Slightly "under-cook" your pork if you want sliced pork. Pork will pull easily at internal temperatures of 195 - 200 degrees F. Some will even take it to 200 - 205 degrees internal temp.

Alcohol it's not just for breakfast anymore

The natural marinating power of alcohol and the wonderful flavors of your favorite cocktails make grilling with them a great idea. Take your favorite drink, pour it over your favorite meat to marinate then throw it on the grill. The spectacular flare-up is a real show stopper and the flavors make an excellent dish whether it’s a main course or an appetizer for your next cocktail party.