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.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Foggy Mountain Breakdown: Eating Leftover BBQ

Well, folks, with my mom being so sick and everything being up in the air, I haven't been getting out and cooking much recently, which has led me to indulge in take-out/delivery food and leftovers. I was saving up frozen 'que to have a big dinner party with friends, but that's looking less likely to happen any time soon.

My mom's cancer has progressed into her lymph nodes and she has an inoperable tumor on her liver. Most likely, she couldn't recover from surgery because she is already so weak. So, we cross our fingers and pray for the chemo to do the job. Sometimes the cure can be worse than the sickness. The whole situation leaves me feeling far away and dazed, afraid and useless. As I watch her, I fuel up on kaleidoscopic emotions that have no destination, and try to find a place to pack them away.
My mom, Memorial Day, 2006
Without any appetite, really, I pulled some smoked sausage and smoked, chopped chuck out of the freezer the other day. Tasted like the summer day when I cooked them. I was happy for a few bites.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

We Didn't Start The Fire: RUB BBQ

Travel and Leisure magazine just came out with their list called "10 Bites of New York" and they listed our friends over at Paul Kirk's RUB BBQ. Nice job, Scott, Andrew, Paul, Celeste and the gang.

10 Bites of the Big Apple

1. Pizza at Una Pizza Napoletana (349 E. 12th St.; 212/477-9950; individual pizzas from $18.95). The choicest ingredients—naturally leavened dough, Sicilian sea salt—and just four types of pies prove that less is indeed molto.

2. Doughnuts at Doughnut Plant (379 Grand St.; 212/505-3700; $2). These are doughnuts for aesthetes: big, moist yeast-raised beauties with natural glazes—grape-fruit, apricot—that actually taste of fruit.

3 Omusubi at Oms/b (156 E. 45th St.; 212/922-9788; from $1.50 each). Don't call them poor man's sushi. These fancifully wrapped, hand-shaped Japanese rice balls—try the smoked eel or spicy tuna filling—may inspire a craze of their own.

4. Cuban sandwich at Margon (136 W. 46th St.; 212/354-5013; lunch for two $9.50). Gooey and great, with a sharp sliver of pickle, loads of lechon, salami, and ham on mojo-splashed bread—what pressed sandwiches tasted like before the panino craze.

5. Masala dosa at Saravanaas (81 Lexington Ave.; 212/679-0204; $7). The quest for the laciest, most crisp-edged lentil-and-rice crêpe folded around spiced potatoes ends here, at Manhattan's most authentic South Indian restaurant.

6. Pulled pork at R.U.B. (208 W. 23rd St.; 212/524-4300; lunch for two $14.95, including sides). Berkshire hog is slow-smoked and spoon-tender, and the burnt ends—the fatty part of the brisket—are pretty good, too. The deep-fried Oreos are impossible to resist.

7. Pho at Pho Grand (277 Grand St.; 212/ 965-5366; lunch for two $8.50). The city's most delectable Vietnamese rice noodles, in a fragrant broth with beef. Garnish at whim.

8. Lobster Roll at Pearl Oyster Bar (18 Cornelia St.; 212/691-8211; dinner for two $40). At this West Village evocation of a New England clam shack, the pearlescent crustacean nuggets piled generously into a toasted hot dog bun will have you dreaming of a summer in Maine.

9. Pretzel croissant at the City Bakery (3 W. 18th St.; 212/366-1414; $3 each). Flaky croissant pastry meets the pretzel's savory smack. An object of great veneration among food-minded New Yorkers and just one of the many reasons to love City Bakery.

10. Gelato at Laboratorio del Gelato (95 Orchard St.; 212/343-9922; from $3.25). Don't let winter's chill stand between you and the Big Apple's smoothest, most wildly flavorful ice creams, from pomegranate to chestnut-honey.

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

Only The Good Die Young:

As I mentioned in a recent post, Scottie Johnson of the bbq team recently won the Jack Daniel's BBQ Invitational. The team name comes from the charitable foundation Scottie created in memory of his wife, Corliss (the formal name is the Corliss Johnson Memorial Foundation), who passed away from cancer a few years ago. He has raised tens of thousands of dollars for cancer research through his foundation, and this year many teams wore his Cancer Sucks! shirts at contests and donated their contest winnings.

Adding another heartbreaking dimension to this story is that Scottie's father was losing a battle with cancer right as the Jack was scheduled to begin. He encouraged Scottie to go and compete and "bring home some hardware." Well, not only did he bring home a trophy, he won the world's most prestigious bbq contest and raised the visibility of his cause and his foundation considerably.

The Tennesean just ran an article about Scottie's victory, and there's a podcast w/ Scottie that was done by Ray Basso of the in which you can hear the story straight from the man himself. It is quite a moving and uplifting listen.

Click Here For the Podcast

Click Here for the article from the Tennessean

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What's New, Pussycat?: Char-Broil's New Cookers

This December, Char-Broil will be rolling out a whole bunch of new goodies. They were nice enough to send us a sample of their new double door offset smoker for the Paul Kirk bbq class a few weeks back and it looks like a really nice deal. It comes with cast-iron porcelain enameled cooking grates and what they call a water/marinade pan which allows you to keep moisture in the cook chamber and/or hold a baste or mop liquid. One thing that I really like about this new cooker, aside from the pull out ash drawer and reasonable list price ($199) is that the middle hinge between the two doors can be moved out of the way to enable access to the whole cook surface, which is nice when handling larger cuts of meat. At the same time, having the option to open only one door means that you won't lose as much heat, which is a bonus.

They're also introducing a new line of infrared gas grills in collaboration with TEC. I've used a TEC grill for years and love the infrared cooking technology-- especially for high heat grilling like steaks and chops. Apparently they've taken the infrared heat source to a new level ensuring even cooking, superior grill marks and less moisture loss. Here's how they describe it:
At the heart of Char-Broil’s infrared grills is a patented new burner system that is far more advanced than traditional ceramic infrared burners. An open flame is topped by a floating layer of glass that sits just below an air-locked stainless cooking grate. The layer of glass evenly disburses the heat emitted from the burner across the entire grate and prevents air from flowing directly to food.

They plan to roll out their new grills in Lowe's stores in December '06 at price points for the gas grills ranging from $699 to $999. I can't wait to try one.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Package Thief: Batali's Stolen Sausage

This isn't breaking news anymore, but I had to mention the theft of Mario Batali's sausage. Russ Parson's wrote in the LA Times that Mario's new eatery with Joe Bastianich and Nancy Silverton, Mozza, was robbed of 40 pounds of Salumi. Silverton was quoted as saying "We checked out our security cameras and at 11:27 that Saturday night, you see this guy ride up on his bicycle. He looks like some yuppie: He's got a receding hairline and he's wearing khakis. He's carrying a cellphone."

So if you spot a bicycle riding yuppie with a receding hairline and a tremendous haul of delicious cured meats, call 911 immediately.

Cheer up, Mario. It's gonna be alright.

Here's a recipe from Mario's recent book, "Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style," published by HarperCollins.

Skirt Steak Asada Tacos


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium poblano peppers, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
6 canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for grilling
2 pounds skirt steak
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 bunch chopped cilantro to yield 1 cup
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (2 to 3 lines)
8 soft corn tortillas
3 limes cut into wedges for serving


At home place a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and when it gets hot, add the yellow onion and pepper, and cook until they soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin, and cook 1 minute more. Add the plum tomatoes and salt, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes more.

Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade and pulse until just smooth.

Place the skirt steaks in a resealable plastic freezer bag and add half the puree, making sure they are completely coated. Keep refrigerated or in a cold ice chest for up to 72 hours.

When you're ready to grill them, salt the steaks and grill them over medium-high heat, turning once, until they are a deep, rich brown on both sides, about 9 minutes. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, mix together the chopped red onion, cilantro and lime juice.

Cut the steaks into ½-inch slices. Put a few slices in a warmed tortilla and add a heaping tablespoon of the onion-cilantro mixture. Squeeze some lime over the meat and then a tablespoon of the pureed sauce. Repeat to make 8 tacos.

Eat and smile.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Baby, it's cold outside: Cold Smoking

Well, actually it's about 70 degrees in New York City, today. What's up with November? I'm not complaining, but this is some strange weather.

Normally the fall and the winter are great times to do some cold smoking on the smoker. The colder temps actually work in your favor in this case, making it harder for your smoker (or grill) to get to higher temperatures. I used a hot plate in the firebox and small charcoal and wood fires in the past to get low temperatures for smoking cheese, fish, and much more.

Here's an article from a guy from Texas calling himself the Smoker King (real name? Aaron Ralston) about Cold Smoking:

What Exactly Is Cold Smoking by The Smoker King

Cold smoking is very similar to hot smoking, except the cooking temperature is much lower. The targeted cold smoking temperature range is between 80 degrees F and 100 degrees F, and the smoking time can range anywhere from 4 hours to 4 days. This process relies on smoke to cure the meat or food being smoked instead of using heat. Some people believe that cold smoking occurs at temperatures between 160-190 degrees F, but smoking at this temperature is really a form of hot smoking.

Types of Smoked Foods

A few examples of foods that are usually cold-smoked include bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, and fish. When smoking fish, a preservation salt is needed to pickle the fish before it is smoked. This will help prevent bacteria from growing while the fish is curing in the smoke.

When to Use Cold Smoking

Cold smoking is very difficult, and even impossible in the summer months, because the outside air temperature is normally as hot as or hotter than the temperature needed for true cold smoking. The best time to use cold smoking is during the winter months when the days are typically cooler.

How it Works

The key to cold-smoking is using smoke to cure the food. To achieve such a low cooking temperature while cooking with smoke, the fire needs to be in a separate container than the food being smoked. The smoke is transferred to the cooking container by piping, and the heat can be easily regulated.

If you are using a wood smoker with a offset fire box, it can be very hard to consistently maintain the low temperature needed for cold smoking. The easiest way I have found to achieve the low cooking temperature is to use a charcoal starter to light only a few coals at a time. When the coals in the smoker burn down, simply use the starter to light more charcoal, to add a small amount of charcoal that is already lit to the fire box. Then wood chips can be added to produce smoke.

Cold Smoked Salmon Recipe

Use frozen salmon because it has lost some of it's moisture during the freezing process, and it will accept the brine solution quicker.


1. Cut the Salmon filets into 3x6 inch pieces.
2. Prepare a brine solution of salt, brown sugar, and water. The salt to brown sugar ratio is 2:1. With 2.5 gallons of water, you will need 7 cups of salt, and 3.5 cups of brown sugar. The water will be about 80% salt, and to test if the water is salty enough, and egg should float.
3. Place the fish in the brine solution. Make sure the fish filets are completely submerged.
4. Refrigerate for 12-24 hours. If the filets are thin, the time will be shorter.
5. Before removing the fish from the brine solution, slice one filet open down the middle to see if the brine has fully penetrated it. If the brine has not fully penetrated the filet, place leave the rest in the solution for a little longer, and then test again.
6. When the filets are done, remove them from the solution and place under cold running water for 1 hour.
7. Place the filets on a cookie sheet, and refrigerate for 12 more hours. This will allow the salt to even out.


1. Place in a smoker at 70-85 degrees F for 12-16 hours. I use charcoal and add mesquite or hickory chips to produce the smoke.
2. When the fish are done, vacuum seal the filets and freeze for 3 days for parasite control.

The Smoker King

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Help Wanted

Here's a note I just sent out to all my writing friends and family folk--

Hello bbq, cooking and blog friends! This is not spam or any other kind of processed 'meat' from a can. Yay!

I'm looking for some writers to help with a new project I've been asked to edit. It's a new cooking blog that is part of the Well Fed Network that is called, The Cook's Kitchen. We will feature recipes, tips, reviews, and suggestions for handy gadgets and tips, shops, sources and stories about where and how to eat, cook and enjoy food in your neck of the woods-- from New York to New Zealand and beyond.
Your contributions don't have to be 'exclusives' and can even be just what you're posting on your personal sites each day. Ultimately, I would be happy to have 1 contribution every two weeks from 14 writers-- but more than that would be even better! This is currently not a paid position, but offers opportunities for some compensation and through The Well Fed Network of sites will offer a huge boost in visitors.

So if you have a favorite gadget, tip, technique, recipe, shop, news item, joke, story, or book that has something to do with cooking, I'd love to share it!

Please email me with any questions.

Matt Fisher, editor
The Cook's Kitchen
To not receive any more emails from this address, please have one of your minions send a polite note announcing such news, and your will shall be abided.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

Rocky Mountain High: Oysters, Nuts and more!

I'll be honest with you, the idea of eating a deep fried, glistening, crispy, succulent testicle out of boiling oil doesn't really float my boat, but I have often wondered what might draw people to do it. What is the texture of a fried gonad?

I've seen them in the raw state, and it aint pretty.

(photo courtesy of

I suppose they might be tasty, though. Michael Ruhlman's blog has a pretty thorough piece on the making of Rocky Mountain Oysters.

I also came across the (self-proclaimed) largest collection of testicle recipes in the world right here. They also conveniently link to their road kill recipe collection. As Thanksgiving approaches, I thought I would post one of their recipes that fits the season. 'Njoy!

Butterflied Turkey Nuts

3 pounds of fresh turkey nuts
1 pound of flour
Salt & Pepper

Heat fryer to 350-degrees.
Rinse nuts under cold running water and pat them dry with a paper towel. Make a lengthwise slit in your nuts, almost cutting in half but not going all the way through (butterfly). Dredge in the seasoned flour and fry immediately. Have a platter with a towel to drain your nuts on. Serve your nuts with your favorite sauce.

Recipe From:

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Behind Blue Eyes

Instead of continuing with my pity party, here are a few sights from the Paul Kirk BBQ Class held in NYC on Oct. 21. I have more action shots for you, and some thoughts about the class that are still fermenting, so in the meantime....

Here's Large Marge with some groceries in her belly

And here she is shining in the morning light

The Baron is lining up some slices of brisket

This is the Twin 84 Deluxe Lang smoker that belongs to RUB BBQ

And this is the view we had in front of us at the beach

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