The Hampton Smoker

What's up wtih what's going down? Does a tree falling on the ocean with no one around make a sound? Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-b-que. It's all in how you sell it.

Friday, June 30, 2006

In the Heat of the Night

Well, it's that time of the year when people who don't know squat about bbq (or the difference between barbecuing and grilling) publish their uninformed 'best of' lists. With the recent deluge of bbq/grilling cookbooks these lists are all the rage.

The list below was in USA Dr. BBQ's second book is on the list, which is cool-- BBQ All Year Long tries to take bbq beyond the classic "chicken 'n' ribs" image to show that it can fit into a variety of meal settings. Cool.

However-- that demon-woman Sandra Lee with her semi-homemade yuckiness and nonsense is on the list, so how seriously can we be expected to take this?

You go, grill: 5 books to help with the 4th
Updated 6/29/2006 11:19 PM ET
By Lynne Perri, USA TODAY

The latest grilling cookbooks dish up a wide range of marinades, rubs and sauces for meat, poultry, fish, fruit and vegetables. They all take time, but you should have plenty of that this Fourth of July weekend before you start the fire. Best advice from several of them? Make more than you need so you can pack sandwiches for lunch or make an easy salad with leftovers. USA TODAY highlights some of the best newcomers.

Barbecues & Grilling
by Anthony Worrall Thompson & Jane Suthering
Kyle Books, 159 pp., $29.95

In brief: One of Britain's best-selling authors, Thompson brings his love of grilling to fruition with this oversized collection of 150 recipes enhanced by beautiful food photos. The book also contains a host of salsa recipes, salads and appetizers. One of his many creative ideas: Oriental Pork and Pineapple Kabobs, which combines a few ingredients over pork tenderloin that marinates three to four hours before grilling for only 10 minutes.

The authors: Thompson is featured on Saturday Kitchen and Ready, Steady, Cook in Britain, owns four restaurants in the UK, and is a best-selling author. Suthering is a food writer, consultant, stylist and author.

Dr. BBQ's All Year Long Barbecue Cookbook
by Ray Lampe
St. Martin's Griffin, 308 pp., $17.95

In brief: The title refers to the many recipes that don't require the grill (but some that still take all day, such as gumbo). And the book is designed seasonally so that you can grill anytime during the year with confidence. Lampe is a passionate, down-home cook who tries to mix chef's advice with humor (his list of where not to picnic includes cemeteries, landfills, private property). Get past some of his stories, and you'll be entertained by what he's best at: food. Like many who enjoy cooking out, he does more than just meat, too. His Grilled Fruit Kabobs with an easy overnight marinade will win over guests.

The author: Lampe is a barbecue champion, having won competitions in New York, Florida and Minnesota. He's author of Dr. BBQ's Big-Time Barbecue Cookbook.

Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Ribs
Workman Publishing, 298 pp., $12.95

In brief: Steven Raichlen, the man Esquire has dubbed "America's master griller," has created the ultimate guide to ribs with this cookbook. Charcoal vs. gas, direct vs. indirect heat, and smoking vs. pit roasting are covered. The recipes are good and the directions clear, but what you'll have to watch is your time, for the shopping, the rubs and the sauces. The marinades sometimes require hours or even an overnight in the refrigerator. The results, though, are delicious: First-timer's Ribs — pork baby back — take an afternoon to make, but the lemon and brown sugar barbecue sauce is so good that it probably will become a household fixture.

The author: Raichlen started with The Barbecue Bible, which chronicled his look at grilling around the world, and led to a series of acclaimed books on the subject. He also is host of PBS' Barbecue University.

Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade Grilling
Meredith Books, 239 pp., $19.95

In brief: This is yet another in Lee's arsenal of good ideas. She combines ready-made or pre-washed and packaged products with meats and fish to make the cooking go faster in these easy recipes. The catch is, again, time. North Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwiches, for example, only take about 25 minutes to prepare — but need four hours on the grill. To her credit, Lee provides indoor methods for the recipes, and many take much less time, such as Thai Town New York Strip. Her sauces are fun — lemon-lime soda, steak seasoning and vinegar, for example, in those pork sandwiches.

The author: Lee has a signature approach to cooking and home decorating, with a variety of books and magazines to her credit. Plus, she has a show on the Food Network. Her philosophy is 70/30 — 70% store-bought and 30% homemade or creative touches.

Weekend Grilling with the BBQ Queens
by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig
Harvard Common Press, 242 pp., $14.95

In brief: Yes, you can grill on weeknights after you get home from work. The authors believe in cooking more than you'll need so you always have another night's meal at the ready. And the leftover ideas are creative, such as the Grilled Pork Tenderloin Salad with Steamed Baby New Potatoes and Anchovy Vinaigrette — all made from grilled pork tenderloin you prepare a night or two, or even two or three weeks, in advance and freeze. (They have tips on this, too.)

The authors: Adler and Fertig e-mail each other as Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz, which demonstrates how much they try to have fun in their writing and their recipes. They wrote The BBQ Queens' Big Book of Barbecue in 2005 and have appeared on the Food Network, PBS and local radio stations.

Find this article at:

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Don't Lie To Me

I know I'm called a bbq snob, an elitist and other flattering names for my sometimes overly enthusiastic musings on what bbq is or is not, but a little piece in the NY Times got my blood boiling this morning-- and it didn't have anything to do w/ the leaking of secret governmental operations. No, this was a piece about the 'world famous' Lobels Butcher Shop in the overpriced haven of NYC's Upper East Side.

Now, I could never aford a piece of trimming in this place, let alone an actual steak. After reading the piece below, I doubt I can stomach it anyway.

No Pit in View, but Smoke on the Palate

Barbecue's many styles have a sense of place, notably Kansas City, Texas and Memphis. But not New York. Yet Lobel's, the Upper East Side butcher, has introduced what it calls barbecue beef and others might call Manhattan barbecue. It's not smoked or highly spiced, it's made in a pot on a stove, it's available ready to eat, and while it's delicious piled on a bun for a picnic, a platter of it would also draw raves at a terrace buffet.

Because New Yorkers tend to prefer lean first-cut brisket to the richer and fattier second cut, Stanley Lobel has come up with this new item using the top section of the second cut. He pots the soft-textured meat and mixes it with Lobel's mild honey-based barbecue sauce. It fairly falls apart, sort of like pulled beef. Cooked, the beef is $24.98 a pound; uncooked, to simmer at home or braise with onions, it's $18.98 a pound. The sauce is $9.98 for a pint jar; 1096 Madison Avenue (82nd Street).
I don't know about you, but I can't imagine calling anything that has been completely cooked in a pot on the stove bbq anything. Not only is this disappointing, but by calling it Manhattan Barbecue, they demean the true purveyors of the art that inhabit our city. Phooey on Lobel's and the NY Times. I call shenanigans.

Anywho. Here's a pork chop that was rubbed w/ the delicious Dizzy Pig Raging River rub that I mixed with a little extra garlic and some turkish peppers from Penzey's. After that you will see some delicious Challa bread "Freedom Toast" (hehe) that Amy made for me a few days ago. Rich and creamy inside with a hint of crispness and a slight spice flavor. I added a little grand marnier when she wasn't looking.

Lastly, I'd like to encourage you all to head over to the Megnut blog which has somewhat recently switched to an all-food format and is featuring posts by The Soul of a Chef author Michael Ruhlman this month. Coolio.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Interstellar Overdrive

Sometimes we have so much barbecue in our fridge and/or freezer that we can't even have anything else on hand-- no milk, no eggs, no nothing. As hard as it may be to believe, there are some nights when we just don't want 'barbecue'. Fortunately, there are other things that can be eaten (really?) and other ways to use up leftover bbq. Here are some recent eats that have made the most of leftover smoked yummies, and things that fall outside the bbq arena. As always, for some reason, the pictures get bigger if you click on them. Yay!

Steak, steamed broccoli, mixed salad w/ blue cheese. I cooked 4 steaks, and the last two became steak sandwiches we ate on the train to Long Island
Turkey sandwiches with home-smoked white cheddar and basil that got a quick toast in the broiler

Smoked Roast Beef sandwich with home-smoked white cheddar, steamed long island corn, green beans and pickle.

Mixed Berries 'n' biscuits

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Where Have All The Flowers Gone?

Hey Kids...Sorry to be so sporadic with updates recently, but with my mom still in the hospital and general life being what it is...well, it only leaves time to eat. There have been plenty of tasty vittles going down the hatch recently, but I'll start with the 'que review from last weekend.

The wife and I went to Long Island with a cooler full of spareribs and a 19lb (18.86 to be exact) beef roast that was incorrectly id'd as brisket (that's ok, honey, it was delish anyway!). I was actually a little relieved-- a 19lb brisket would probably take more than 20 hours to cook.

Knowing that 30lbs of food wasn't enough for me to feel like I'd really had a chance to cook, I picked up a few pounds of hot italian sausage, a ham (to double smoke) and some pork chops for friday night's dinner. The wife served that w/ some HUGE margaritas, roasted vidalias in a greuyere-cream sauce which we had w/ the sausage the next day, too. Yumma-numma! (take that Rachel Ray).

I wasn't sure how that huge roast would turn out, so I injected the cr@p out of it w/ a mixture of apple juice, water, broth and (secret ingredients deleted). It was perfect. The ribs had a nice straightforward rub that I used on the ham, too. I made a honey glaze for the ham that included some Jack Stack (Kansas City legends) sauce, and I used that on the ribs at the last minute, too. Here's what it all looked like. Click a pic to get up close and personal.

Roast Beef

A little rib taste and the ham

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Cheeseburger in Paradise

I stopped by the brand new Zip Burger for lunch yesterday. They’ve been open for almost two weeks now, so I gave into my curiosity which had been piqued for a long time watching them ready the place.

Few things satisfy like a nice, flavorful juicy burger and crispy, hot fries, and my mouth watered as I read the menu. There were a few items listed as sold out (whole wheat bun, guacamole—feh, who needs that stuff?) and I opted for the regular Hereford beef burger ($4.50), American cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and sautéed onions. I also got an order of fries ($3.50). After watching them mix a shake, I wasn’t too excited so skipped that and got one from Mister Softee (celebrating their 50th anniversary) on my way back to the office. I also wasn’t too excited to know that other than pickles, all of the other toppings were an extra charge, so the total for my burger and fries was $10.50. Ouch. But, I figured if it’s tasty, it could be an occasional luxury.

Well……I don’t think I’ll be going back too often. First of all, while I waited for my food I watched as a young employee swept the place, except instead of collecting the dust and whatnot for disposal, she just swept it into a corner. That didn’t fill me with confidence. Also, the place was a humid lukewarm inside, not so comfortable for hot summer eating. The décor in the small upstairs eating area is minimal, yet tacky, with cowprint fabric adorning the seats.

What about the food? The burger was small, which is ok if it packs flavor (like Shake Shack, f’rinstance), but this burger was fairly bland and, unfortunately, dry. I was surprised the burger was dry, because it wasn’t cooked to death and was still pink inside. The pickles were the highlight of the toppings—crunchy and lively tasting. The lettuce and tomato were just ok. The bun was negligible.

The fries, though a pretty golden color and nice and crispy, were mealy and slightly dry and grainy inside, not smooth and creamy. Another major disappointment because they looked fantastic and so few burger places in the city do fries well. Harrumph.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give Zip Burger a 4.5 (if they get it together it could go higher), but with PJ Clarke’s and Burger Joint at the Parker Meridian so close by, I don’t see Zip Burger making much of an impact on the neighborhood.

Other News: Construction continues on 2nd avenue around the corner from Zip Burger on the new Krunch Pizza Bar. I don’t know much about it (wonder if it’s the same owners…?) but it looks like it will be a small, “upscale” pizza boutique. We shall see.

Zip burger
300 ½ 52nd street (between 1st and 2nd avenues) New York, NY 10022
(212) 308-1308

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Friday, June 09, 2006

With A Little Help From My Friends

Hey folks, as a followup on my previous message (2 in one day!) there's a wealth of bbq knowledge out there that people are generous enough to share. You can hit the bbq forums and read up on what people are saying or, if you are brave and thick-skinned, you can ask a question. Some people try to scare away the newbies, but don't be intimidated. Here's a quick list of some of the best 'que resources around. They all have tips, advice, lessons and recipes-- there are few (if any) better resources out there. Whether you are a beginner, or a seasoned vet there are ideas-a-plenty in these links, just in time for your next cookout.

The BBQForum
The BBQ Pits by Klose "Pit Talk" Forum
The Forum
The Internet BBQ Frequently Asked Questions-- a tremendous resource!
Randy's 'Que Page
Danny's BBQ Joint
The BBQ Shack-- home of the world famous "Shake's Honey Brine" Recipe
Bill Wight's Recipe Archives (Note: these are all .zip files)
The BBQ Forum Podcasts: Interviews w/ the stars of bbq
Joe Ames of the Ingredient Store's Blog

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All Through The Night

Brisket, cut from the chest area of a steer and ranging in size from 5-16 lbs., is often described as one of the toughest bbq meats to cook properly-- cook it too long and it may get dry, stringy or just turn to mush on ya. Cook it too short and, well, you may as well try chewing on a rubberband ball. It is a challenging cut, with lots of interlaced fat and collagen, that when cooked properly (moisturized, flavorized and tenderized-- right, Myron Mixon??), is a tender, juicy treat.

While bbq cookers are often generous with tips, recipes and advice, sometimes they add alot of their secret ingredient-- b.s. So, with that in mind, here's a link to a b.s.-free outstanding photo tutorial of one way to prep a brisket that might give some folks a leg up. This comes courtesy of Mike Trump of Oakridgebbq of Kansas City-- thanks, Mike!

Click Here For The Guide

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

TV Party

Added the psych-rock Easybeats nugget "Friday on My Mind" to the songs to que by section located just under my profile on the top left. As you can see from the picture above, Lois is having as lazy a weekend as I am....The muggy weather makes me feel like a slug, but I'm on the way to Chinatown for some fried dumplings...pork and chive, baby. Chow!

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