Mug Rootbeer BBQ Sauce – a recipe

A year ago I received a nice email from a guy who was working for a large ad firm, who was in turn working for a grill manufacturing company. He wanted to know if I was interested in posting about some fancy grills. I took a look and they were propane, even the charcoal versions weren’t much to speak of. I passed.
Forward to today and the same gentleman emailed me again, wanted to know if I remembered. I did, and had saved his email from last time. This time he’s working with Mug Rootbeer, wants to know if I’m interested in a BBQ Sauce recipe. For trying out the recipe, he’ll send me a Mug Rootbeer cooler filled with nearly all the ingredients to make it.
Sure, what the hell, count me in.
At first glance the recipe actually looked decent, I was surprised. I didn’t really know what to expect. If it sucked, I was going to rework it and see if I could have some fun, post or no post. If it was decent enough, I’d give credit where credit was due. It was good and the other 6 tasters felt the same. Good Sauce.
One of the benefits of this recipe is that while it does have a good list of ingredients, it doesn’t lean heavily in one direction. Got a good sweet background, tasty tang where it’s wanted with a little swing of fun in the middle. Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s got the liquid smoke, a controversial ingredient. As my sister says, “Don’t add too much ya bone and it’s fine, small amounts.” Or just don’t add it. And as near as I can tell, it’s very reproducible. When I was simmering it down, I lost track of time and volume. Stirred it and tasted, worked out just fine.
If I were to try this again, I’d add a tablespoonful of the red pepper flakes to make it jump. Oh, yes. Please click on, Mug Rootbeer BBQ Sauce Recipe to view and print the card.
I surely have no idea where this recipe came from, I made it and it was good.

Applying the Sauce

Yeah, yeah, barbecue sauce just covers up badly cooked meat. Not in this house! The sauce is good and is revered. So, if one is going to sauce the meat, how does it go?
Brushing sauce is for wimps. You need to submerse the meat in the sauce and caramelize it over the grill about 3 to 5 times! It’s gentle, it’s wonderful. Here you find chicken parts marinated in a cuban lime action, grilled over mesquite with hickory love. Dredged through the sauce a few times and served!
Here is the rest of the day:
xo, Biggles

94 in the kitchen yesterday? Move it outside!

Oh goodness me! Listen up, I pay a lot of money to live here, own a home in the San Francisco Bay Area. It rarely gets above 75 or below 40, this is how it is. Oh sure, we get a freeze now and then, maybe a few times it gets up in to the 90’s. I love my fog, fresh bay breeze and anything after that. What I don’t like is huge, nasty, bucktoothed HEAT.
And brother, or sister, that’s what we’ve had in the last few days. Yesterday at around 4pm it was 94 just outside my kitchen. It dropped to 86 soon enough, but when I was actually cooking dinner for the boys, the kitchen leveled out at 92. I only spent nearly 2 hours in there cooking & cleaning, so it wasn’t too bad. Gah!
This is not okay and planned on a different menu plan for Tuesday, tonight!
Chilebrown of Mad Meat Genius sold me a badass propane stove a few years back, so I brought that out. Fired up the grill with some mesquite and hickory chips. The menu? Pork chops, beef burgers, mashed taters with a finish of corn on the cob.
Such a treat for the whole family. It was as though we were out camping in the wilds of Montana, sorta. Everyone got involved in making it go and had a great time. The indoor kitchen was ignored and the outdoor was enjoyed. LOVE !!!
If you’d like to see the rest of the story, please visit here and see Too hot, cook outside, everything!

A Black Bear Brat-style Sausage Tasting

An impromptu grilling session was set for Sunday. Laura’s neighbor gifted her 3 black bear sausages and a nice package of ground venison. It didn’t take her too long to figure out who might enjoy such a treat, tee hee. So, her, my sister and her husband Meathead met for a little tasting.
Given it’s January, making outdoor cooking/eating dates is dicey at best. But as 2pm rolled around, the thermometer read 69 degrees. Not too cold, eh? Since I wasn’t convinced 3 sausages and ground venison would be enough, I picked up a beef tri-tip roast and some brats. And as they arrived, they displayed some home-made potato salad (my sister is a master at this dish), Meathead’s No Cookie Ingredients cornbread (cornbread master of all-time), and hotlinks. Lordy.
The bear links uncooked looked pinkish and like any other brat, only a little leaner. Once grilled over mesquite and hickory chips they were ready. I was a little apprehensive about it, the last time I was offered bear, I chose the panther instead. It was the way it looked in the canning jar that was the deciding factor, not the taste or texture. Bud’s Meats of Penngrove California made the sausage from the animal. Cheese & jalapeno were added to the mix and I have to say, I liked it a lot. We pretty much decided that if you didn’t know it was bear, you’d think it was a regular brat. And while I dearly love the chile pepper, it would have been nice to taste it first without it.
The venison was light on the meat flavor, low fat naturally, and so fresh tasting. Of course the other items were teeerific, but the bear & venison were the stars and nearly the sole reason to have an impromptu meeting of the meaty minds. I would have invited others, but I didn’t want to share the bear. Know what I mean, Vern?
Please visit my flickr page, Bear Sausage & Venison Patties for a few pictures from the day.
xo, Biggles

There’s a non-meat product in my smoker !!!

Pretty, huh?
I know I’m behind the times, people have been tossing nearly every food product on the grill or in the smoker since the beginning. Yeah well, not me. I know this might sound a little odd, but I enjoy the contrast of the heavily smoked meat product, then the lesser beings (peasant food) to be cooked elsewhere, by others. Understand?
Luckily, Sunday morning found me at the local whatever mart shopping for the coming week’s food. Wanted to grab a few racks of ribs so Zoomie could get her fill. I ain’t payin’ no 18 dollars for a damned slab of pork spares, so it was the country style for me. Almost 8 dollars for a huge mound of fleshy goodness, I picked the one with more fat in it.
I’m not sure what happened or why. But I wanted to go back to the lousy produce section and find me some citrus or a pineapple to toss in the smoker as well. As you can see, the p-apple made it in!
I sat and pondered the unfriendly feeling thing for a while. How to slice? Extra virgin? Salt? Chile pepper? Thin slices and get juice everywhere? Peel? Cut it’s head off? I just love cutting the heads off of things. I opted for the simple approach, cut in half lengthwise and use some kosher salt on the inside. I knew the smoky goodness would not penetrate through the thick halves, but didn’t want to deal with all these fussy little slices falling all over the place.
It was pretty fricken good, for a fruit. Warm, smoky on the outside, tender on the inside. The heat had broken down something molecular on the inside and tenderized the little dear. Slurp! Guess what? It was excellent cold the next day too. Slurrrphah !!!
ps – I don’t know how long it was in there, maybe a few hours or more, not less.

Rub a dub, dub. I’m done with rubs, I have a new love, yay!

I’m no different from many people who grill or smoke their food, often. I’ve got a pantry filled with chile powders, herbs and spices that all go in to any rub I care to make at any given meal. I’ve got versions I like better than others and sometimes just like to strip it down to the basics and enjoy the meat & smoke.
Yeah well, when I was at the Fatted Calf Picnic this year Taylor used 1 ingredient for his dry rub and I’ve been experimenting ever since. Even took some slabs of babybacks to a food blogger picnic a few weekends ago. So far, I’m at 100% approval rating for this ingredient.
Care to come see?

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Heat source, does it matter? A pork rib experiment from the lab.

The argument in regards to wood versus briquette, versus propane, versus electric heat sources in smokers has got to be way older than the one on PC versus MAC, and that’s saying something. We know that for grilling, there is an exceptional difference, but does it matter for hot smoking (approximately 200 to 250 degrees F)? It doesn’t for cold smoking (90 to 110 degrees F). I’ve always stood by the age old ways of saying, “Yes nitwit, the fire does make a difference and it’s noticeable. Real wood, charcoaled or not, does make a difference.”
Over the years I’ve had quite a few propane lovers extol the virtues of their propane powered rigs. My eyes cross, I hear buzzing in my ears and go back to my old ways of using wood to power my smokers. I never even remotely considered buying in to the procedure, especially after tasting what I pull out of my smoker. Sorry pal, you can’t reproduce this, no way, no how.
On Sunday I decided to put my cold smoker to use, finally. Instead of 100 degrees, I jacked it to 212 and hot smoked a slab of baby backs using only an electric hotplate and a smoke generator.
Please click through to read the rest of the story, “Heat source, does it matter?”

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Trash? Recycle bin? I don’t think so. Old Smoker, I love you.

This post isn’t for you people who are already hip to the love of an old, well used smoker. But for those of you who may feel they need the new stuff, the bells and even a few whistles. As with many crafts, it’s about the person wielding the brush, not the brush itself.
Yeah well, before we left for Calistoga Jeffrey said a friend had given him an old smoker that someone had tossed out. It looked complete, but old, rusty and kinda funky. He sent me a picture and it looked serviceable. While I have used and owned a few of those bullet shaped smokers, I’d never actually used one with no visible air vents or access door to the fire.

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Operation Cold Smoke – Update #1 – Make up your damned mind Biggles !!!

For the last 10 years I’ve dreamed about making a cold smoker. Bacon, ham, sausage, pork chops, fish & chile peppers oh my! Cold smoking ain’t quite as straight forward as hot smoking, plus the equipment is different. This coupled with being dead lazy, I’m only now taking the project on.
The cold smoking thing all came together when Salvage sent me a link to a Cold Smoke Generator on ebay, I bought it that moment. The wheels spun and I posted last week about making a cold smoker out of a 55 gallon drum. I thought I had it made, but I was wrong. The drum was “lined”, that means it’s bad for food related craft projects. The protective coating keeps organic solvents from attacking the steel, good for them, bad for us. You want an unlined, clean, steel drum for such things and this was not it. And then? Creepy E took the week off so it was going to be 9 days before the new drum could be ordered. I have an attention span of a gnat and I needed satisfaction, needed it like now.
I figured I could use my hot smoker and talked to Salvage about it. Sure, not a problem, but you have to be very careful about Ptomaine and Botulism. See, with a hot smoker you got fats/juices all over the darned place and they’re generally cleaned up by a good hot fire. But cold smoking rarely goes above 120 degrees F. This means whatever nasties are there, they incubate. Here’s what he has to say on the subject.
Ptomaine is the enemy you can smell. Botulism is the real culprit in this realm. It wants 3 things, the spores, absence of Oxygen, and temperatures between 70 deg and 140 deg F. You are building the Botulism incubator. Hmmmm It is odorless and tasteless. The good thing is that Botulism and Ptomaine do not get along at all. So, if it smells rotten it will only make you very sick. If it smells good it can kill you dead. Heat botulism to 265 deg F and the organism dies, but the poison remains and you still die. So the moral here is to never grow Botulism. Like genital warts, you have to catch it from somewhere.
Saturday morning’s ToDo List:
Clean up a few grates, drill a hole for the generator and find some smokable food stuffs.

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Operation Cold Smoke – A Meathenge Labs Project

Cold Smoking. Most of you already know, but for those of you who don’t? It’s simple, you smoke your food at a temperature of about 90 to 120 degrees F. It’s how smoked sausage, bacon & hams and chile peppers are done. Oh, don’t forget CHEESE, MmMmm smoked cheese.
Years ago I went through my own trials of cold smoking my own chile peppers and onions. They were the best ever, but it just about killed me. Maintaining temperature & smoke for 24 hours isn’t exactly a love trist. I knew then I needed a smoke generator, a device that would combust wood bits for up to 12 hours without reloading. Heat is easy, an electric hotplate does the trick in a pinch. Combine the two and you have a cold smoker that will run unattended for maybe 12 hours, this is what I knew I wanted and needed.
Well, yesterday Salvage pointed me towards a device that would generate hardwood smoke for 12 hours, cost about 1/3 to 1/4 less than anything else I’ve seen, and it is made by hand by some person I’ll introduce to you later (once I find out who exactly he/she is).
What you see here is my prototype. It’s a 55 gallon steel drum with an old weber kettle lid on top. This will give me a nice domed lid (promotes good heat/smoke distribution) with an adjustable exhaust that looks good and works great. Multiple horizontal racks will be installed near the upper portion of the drum so we can put slabs of bacon & acres of chile peppers for the most awesome smoking adventure of all time! Each rack will have some type of thermometer so I can see what each level is up to.
Ultimately, I’d like to get an industrial heating element that will allow me to put the temperature adjust on the outside of the drum. And as soon as the ordered smoke generator arrives, I’ll let you know.
ps – Please don’t leave any comments about Alton’s cold smoker in a cardboard box. That is so what I don’t want.

Smoky Day, Smoky Oven – A Wedgewood Smoker Adventure

Not sure really, on how to start this one. So, I think I’ll do it this way.
Oh yes I did.
I had a little rack of ribs all ready to go. It was too icky outside, the wildfires are way out of control and makes being outside just plain miserable. Um, but I had a rack of ribs to cook. I sat around the house with the air filter going, attempting to come up with something simple, good and smoky. Wildfires are kinda inspirational that way.
What if I put the ribs in my kitchen’s gas oven, at 250 or so and put a smouldering pan of hardwood dust in there? Jack the exhaust fan way up and let’er go for a few hours?
Oh yes I did. Didn’t think Wedgewood made a smoker, did you?

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Finally, a BBQ sauce I can live with – a recipe

I’m a Californian, born & raised. This, by sheer definition, means I don’t know what barbecue is. I can live with that, but it isn’t easy. I’ve fought through teeth & nails to read, listen and scour the net for help. Most of this I did back in 1998, as far as the net is concerned. In the traditional sense, I just did what I thought was right and to hell with the rest. If my rack of ribs cooked slowly for 5 hours with real wood, that was good enough for me. But I wanted more, I wanted to taste the regional sauces of the Carolinas, Texas and/or St. Louis. I tried, but didn’t come up with anything that was worth doing a second time. Until yesterday …

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