Monday, August 18, 2008

Bacon Grilled Prunes-

Yes, it is from The Barbecue! Bible. I had some steaks to grill, and I wanted to try this. The prunes (pitted) were wrapped in bacon, skewered, and grilled. Simple. Very interesting. The juxtaposition of salt, fat, and fruity sweetness is really intriguing.

The steaks were another matter. Beef steaks, bone-in. I have not really mastered the direct grilling of steaks. I oiled them with olive oil, and rubbed them with my seasoning. I cooked them rare. Very rare.

Now, I like rare beef. These were very good. However, I still need to build confidence in direct grilling so that I can achieve various levels of doneness. I am not there.

Fortunately, there is an answer. Grill more steaks! A lot more.

While I am training, I might as well keep making those bacon grilled prunes! Mmmmm!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Chicken and Beef-

We were a bit short on groceries when we got home from Texas, so my wife went shopping. Among other things she brought home two chickens and a small beef roast. She also bought a small bag of charcoal.

I got the coals started using my chimney and little alcohol pan. The charcoal was Safeway brand, and I found it strong in petroleum odor when starting. I let the coals get going well, and while they were getting started I prepared the chicken and beef.

The beef received my usual olive oil rubdown, and a coating of the spice blend I have been using most often. That is salt, zesty seasoned salt, and black pepper.

I removed the backbone and breastbone from the chickens, similar to a spatchcock but actually splitting the birds. I prepared them with oil, and then a coating of Rudy's Poultry Seasoning. A little thing I picked up in Texas.

I kept the bit of fat that sits just inside the birds and used that to oil my grill. It worked well, and I tossed them on the grate to cook with everything else. They made great doggy treats.

The beef roast I placed nearest the fire, with the fatty side closest to the port. The chicken halves I laid out on the grill, and set the thermometer probe into the breast of one of the birds furthest from the fire. I set my temperature marker for 170 degrees.

After they had been cooking about a half hour I checked the fire. It was burning down a bit, so I added a load of charcoal. I was concerned that the petroleum might taint the meat, but had experienced success in just dropping the fresh charcoal right on the fire with the Kingsford brand. I did the same this time, and noticed no off flavors. This proved to be adequate fuel for this burn.

The charcoal had some hickory in it, and I added soaked hickory chips periodically to improve the smoke. It was good smoke, though I find I am more partial to mesquite. I still need to try oak and some fruit woods. These tend to be less available and more costly, so my budget restricts the experiments at this time.

Two and a half hours later I had a nice piece of beef and two cooked chickens. Once again, quite tender and flavorful. The beef had been a bit lean, and had I some bacon it would have been good to apply some to provide a bit more fat for the cooking. Even so, it turned out quite nicely.

We served it with a green salad, some Bush's baked beans, and I had a Bodington's Pub Ale to wash it all down. A very satisfying meal.

The following day I chopped up equal portions of beef and chicken, and put them into the green salad. I topped it with a California dressing. It was very good, lacking perhaps only a sprinkling of grated cheese. Something sharp and tangy. Still, it was a very nice lunch.

While in Texas I bought some Lodge dutch oven gloves from Bass Pro Shop, to use with the barbecue. These are well suited to the task, replacing the leather work gloves I had been using. One can handle some very hot items with these gloves, and they are long enough to provide good protection to the forearm.

Bit by bit I am adding tools and techniques to my barbecue experience. I long to explore spices, herbs and sauces in greater depth. So many ways to prepare food with live fire! This is truly a barbecue adventure!

Rudy's Barbecue-

One barbecue pundit on the Travel Channel said, "Barbecue is a destination." This inferred that real barbecue is best done by professionals in a place dedicated to the art. While I enjoy my efforts in learning the art, I truly enjoy finding good barbecue.

When I am in San Antonio, Texas, I really like to visit Rudy's. My favorite is the Chopped. Brisket, turkey breast, and sausage chopped fine and sold by the pound. You get a bunch of sliced white bread with which to eat it. Scoop up some chopped and put it on the bread, fold it and eat it. Fabulous!

It is great with a beer, but also really good with their sweet tea. I must have consumed two gallons of the stuff over the nine days we were in San Antonio. Along with this is some of the best creamed corn I have ever tasted.

While I like cooking barbecue, I really like eating barbecue. I could easily make a career of visiting barbecue joints and enjoying everything barbecue. Especially since it embraces sausage and beer, two other favorites of mine.

Another blogger recommended Kansas City barbecue. I long for the experience. And I can't miss Memphis. Or the Carolinas. Yep, the road is calling.