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.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Year of the Cat: A week off, bbq and single malt

My friends, it is never enough. The Wife and I were out in Long Island for 7 full days of decompression. We had fires in the fireplace every night, and cocktails in the flickering warmth of the hearth. During the days we performed some upkeep on the house which has been (except for us) virtually unused (and therefore unloved) since my mom got sick.

So, what did we eat? Lots of everything. One night, I smoked a bunch of short ribs and then braised them in beer and garlic until they slipped right of the bone. We served it up with a roasted pepper and tomato jam stack. See? We also smoked up a whole bunch of sausage.
The next day I got up and started work on a brisket and pork butt. My plan was to use the fast cooking method that has been becoming more popular with bbq cookers. Traditionally, if it's possible to say that, bbq is cooked between 200-250 (which would be 'hot' to people who cook at these temps) and this new hot cooking is anywhere from 275-400 depending on who you ask. I was probably in the 350-375 range for my cook. I stayed away from using very much sugar to avoid burning things, but I used some and I also butterflied the pork butt to maximize the 'bark' (flavorful seasoned outside). So?

Trimmed Brisket

Butterflied Pork Butt

Finished Brisket

Sliced Brisket

Smoked Hot and Sweet Italian Sausage

Pulled Pork

Wubby puffing sweet blue smoke from her stack

Lois loves bbq! And breakfast, mmmmm...

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Best is Yet to Come

This past Sunday Hiroshi, The Wife, and I catered a party for 80+ people in Brooklyn. It was a birthday party for my cousin who is fighting Cervical Cancer. Friday was her birthday, and Monday she went back into the hospital for another 4-day Chemo treatment. We were happy to donate our time for her. She's a great kid and a cool musician, as well.

Large Marge had just gotten all her repairs done and she was ready to cook and smoke again. This was a great opportunity to see what she could do because we had a wide array of items to cook-- Salmon steaks, Spareribs, Babyback ribs, Beef ribs, white + dark meat chicken, baked beans, grilled vegetables, hamburgers and hotdogs.

It was great to have the grill fired up to have the option to finish the chicken and salmon with a glaze of sauce over higher heat while we were grilling the vegetables, hotdogs and hamburgers.

While we were cooking a few people tried to buy food from us, which was a great compliment (it really did smell great out there!). We also had a few people ask for business cards or just stop to ogle the bbq pit. It was cold, but the whole experience warmed our hearts.

Here are a few pictures-- didn't have time to get many.

Getting set up and warming up the pit:

Working on some vegetables while the grill heats up:

Cooking dogs and finishing some chicken:

UPDATE @ (1:10pm):
My man Hiroshi has some awesome cell phone pics from Sunday up on his brand swanky new blog, On The D/L so click anywhere on this text to stop by and see him. Tell him we said hi!

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Wild, The Innocent & The E-Street Shuffle

The weekend started in a frenzy just to finish work, get home, shop for some groceries, load up the cat, the laundry and the toothbrush and get out the door. When we got to the house, there was ice on the tarp, and a thin line of snow along the edge of the driveway. It was 11:15pm.

We had 10 racks of ribs and 8 chicken breasts intended for the smoker, but other than that no big plans.

I got up early and started the fire. It was 8 degrees out and with the wind, about minus 12 degrees. Cold. Maybe not by the standards of those in Duluth or someplace, but cold. While the fire got going, I went inside and prepped the ribs.

It went faster than I expected, actually. And by the time they were ready to go, the fire was about 250 and sitting steady.
While the ribs cooked, I got a chair out from the basement and grabbed my guitar and strummed while the pit rolled on. It really didn't seem that cold anymore.

After I went inside to grab a snack, I found some apples that just looked great so I sliced them in half and cored them, then sliced them again into thin little wedges.

The vertical section of the pit was running about 125-150 degrees because I had the cold smoking baffle in place. The baffle creates a temperature difference of about 100 degrees between the horizontal and the vertical sections.

This was a perfect temperature to smoke dry the apples. We sprayed the grates with some non-stick stuff and laid the apples out. It turned out to be better to put them on the pizza round then right on the grate, and we also used a little stand that worked out nicely. They took a few hours, about 4-5, since they were sliced about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.

When I took them off the pit, I put them in a low oven with the door cracked slightly open for a while longer. They came out crisp and sweet, with a surprisingly deep and rich smoke flavor that was almost too strong the first day, but mellowed considerably over the following days. The Granny Smiths are my favorite by far. They kept well in a ziplock bag. It was definitely an interesting experiment that deserves much more discovery and experimentation.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Where Do The Children Play?: BBQ Plans and whatnot

Hello friends and readers-- here's another quick and brief update. I promise a more fullerer update to come soon with pictures and some "how to" information on how we made our smoke dried apple slices and stuff, but this week is super busy. Work has had my attention-- 9-5 work, ya know.

We have a birthday to cook for in Brooklyn this upcoming weekend, and Large Marge is in today to have repairs done on her trailer. Her coupler and jack were wounded after the Paul Kirk class in a gruesome jacknifing incident. For those that don't remember her, here's Marge in a svelt moment in the sun.
I miss cooking on Marge. Wubby usually gets all the attention. Marge only gets to eat fire when we need to cook food for a really big crowd-- 75 to 100 people or more. She's really a great cooker and I've barely gotten to know her, so I'm looking forward to giving her another chance to shine this weekend.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

In This House That I Call Home: BBQ Teasers

Sorry folks, life has been getting in the way of blogging. There's lots to catch up on with you-- last weekend's barbecue goodies (including smoke dried apple chips!), this past weekend's eating-- Donovan's Pub in Woodside for burgers (voted best in New York year in and year out), and sausage sandwiches with smoked mozzarella for the Stupor Bowl, which we didn't even watch.

For now, just two images to hold you over-- spareribs and apricot glazed chicken. The chicken was marinated in a combo of chipotle mojo and salad dressing before being smoked. The glaze has apricot preserves, paprika and jalapeno tabasco included in the ingredients.

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