Well friends, spring has not only finally sprung, but with our recent recognition of Memorial Day and “mini heatwave”, dare we say the summer season is finally upon us? The sun has been out quite a bit, the temperatures have moderated and the rain hasn’t been too frequent! Given the current closures and restrictions, I find we have been able to use that extra time to get our yard cleaned up and flowers planted, and now I now I am more than ready to throw open the windows and fire up the grill. I hope you, too, have been able to enjoy and make use of at least a part of our recent sunny days!
I have had a craving for barbeque of late… it’s a summer thing, I guess! I want to fire up the grill and slow cook a pig. Well, maybe not a whole pig, but at least a butt or a brisket! There is nothing as delicious as a meat that has been slow cooked for hours over a wood fire. The mere idea of the smoke infused tenderness just makes my mouth water! The key to good barbeque is time, and for this process, patience is a virtue. The longer the cook time you give it, the more tender and flavorful your finished meat will be.
You can do true barbeque using a big, wood fired smoker if you have the room, but as any city dweller know, open fires are banned, so we have to get a little creative in our process. It is really simple to make a small, grill top smoker for use with a gas grill. I simply use an old 9×13 cake pan for starters…
Different woods have different flavor profiles. A variety of wood chips for cooking can usually be found right in the supermarket gourmet equipment cooking isle. Next comes a stop at the meat case; barbeque generally works best with a less tender cut of meat, and it will melt in your mouth after many hours of cooking. I love the flavor of barbequed brisket, and the size and shape of the raw meat is perfect for grill top smoking.
After soaking my wood chips in water (this will make them smoke, rather than burn), I will simply layer them in the bottom of my cake pan and then seal the top with three layers of foil. Pierce a few holes in the foil and top that with a metal cooking rack. Place your smoker on the grill over a low heat and close the lid (If your grill has a thermometer, you will want to keep the temperature at about 225*). It won’t take long for the chips to start to steam and then smoke.
Next comes the meat; dry rubs are a great base flavor layer. Generously rub all sides of the meat with your choice of dry rub. Carefully place the meat, fat side up on the rack on top of your grill. Close the lid and don’t peak! It will take at the very least 2-3 hours for your meat to cook through, keeping in mind the thicker the meat, the longer the cook time. In that time, the fat will melt over and through the meat and into the smoker, giving it extra smoke. The slow cooking and smoke will not only flavor and tenderize your meat, but it will tease your neighbors’ taste buds, too! If desired, you can baste with any type of sauce for the last 30-45 minutes on the grill. Once done, be sure to let your meat rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing so all of the juices can be reabsorbed into it. My favorite sides for barbeque are coleslaw…and a big stack of napkins!
I hope all of you are staying healthy during these strange times, and remember, if you see me out and about know that under my mask I’m giving you a smile, and one day we will be able to come together once again!
My Favorite BBQ Sauce…
Saute until onions are soft and slightly colored:
1 T olive oil
1 C finely chopped onion
2 t chopped garlic
Stir in, cover and simmer until the peppers are very soft, about 30 minutes:
½ c chopped dried apricots
¾ c dry white wine
¾ c vegetable stock
½ c orange juice
2 large dried red Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
2 dried Chipotle peppers, chopped
Let cool slightly and puree in a food processor along with:
¼ c honey
2 T ketchup
Salt and pepper to taste
Let cool to room temperature; refrigerate in a covered container.
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