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.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In the Morning: Heading on a BBQ Crawl

I'm off to Kansas City, my friends. From there we push on to Austin, then out towards the Hill Country-- we'll see Llano and Lockhart, I suspect.

It'll be great to be back in K.C. Hopefully there'll be lots of pics.

I made Amy a special dinner today because I leave town on her birthday.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hold My Life

The Replacements: Hold My Life
From the album, Tim on Sire Records, 1985

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Bread: Taste of home

Made some bread this weekend, instead of getting out and firing up the smoker. My Flying Pig Farm pork bellies will have to wait for a little while. I have them in a cure and will have to pop them in the freezer for now.

Here's bread, instead.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

Black Cab: Dark City Streets in the Rain, Homemade Bacon and more

My friends, my friends....Tonight is a night of sentimentalism and relief that it is Friday. I need to breathe and get my head together in the smoke this weekend. I don't care if it is cold, or damp. The quiet sounds of the world wash away in the smoke and as my eyes sting and tear, my nose runs, I will sip my bourbon and feel the warmth inside me.

The restaurant world is grinding slowly these days. I feel evermore in the swing of things and each day continues to bring the tiny embarrassments and awkward moments that are the hallmarks of the learning process. Much of it isn't fun, and the work is grueling, physical and repetitive. I feel more aware of what I'm doing and how it interfaces with everything else that is happening. Kitchen sense, as some call it, comes gradually-- being aware of things you have in the oven and on the stove while you are running around doing three other things without using a timer or clock, all the while knowing that even one minute too much can turn something from perfection to garbage-- and every penny and every second counts.

In the spirit of these days in the kitchen, I leave you with a cut by the astounding Sharon Joes + The Dap Kings. Truly channeling Otis, Aretha with the MGs and the Uptown Horns.

Sharon Jones + The Dap Kings: Humble Me

It makes me think what a killer gig it would be to see them with my friends in the Ex Caminos.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sitting in the Park: Spring Previews and Oil Burns

So, where were we?

I've been fighting off some kind of bronchial/stomach flu or something for weeks. I came back to work this week hoping for a blast of energy that never came. You can't be tired in the kitchen, you'll just get trampled. Too much needs to be done.

My dad was in the hospital, which was an additional distraction and worry. Hopefully this Friday will be the end of his time dealing with the hospital. The Wife and I will be there with him on Friday.

I haven't had much time to take pictures of anything recently, but here's the soup I had to fortify myself against the flu bug, or whatever. It's chicken broth that I enriched by infusing it with some mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, turnip, and put through the chinois, returned to the pot and reduced slightly, then I added some orzo and served it with toasted Ciabatta that was rubbed with garlic cloves and smeared with butter.

Last weekend, I smoked a case of pork butts (~60 pounds or 10 butts) and 40 pounds of chicken quarters (leg and thigh) and grilled 40 pounds of boneless chicken breasts w/ a homemade sweet soy glaze and 3 dozen multi-colored sweet peppers, with macaroni and cheese and coleslaw, 2 different kinds of vinegar sauces for my cousin's birthday/super bowl/another year of cancer beaten party in Brooklyn for 125 guests.

It was great to cook some barbecue again after cooking in the restaurant kitchen the last few weeks. Unfortunately, we weren't able to start until around 2 pm on Saturday for a party starting at 3 the next day for an event that was 3 hours drive away. That left us few hours to cook, clean, pack up and be on the road. Also, they had one oven at the house in Brooklyn and we needed hot food when the guests got there. I think we were asleep by 3:30 and up at 7 or so and on the road by 10.

All in all, it worked out and was big fun all around. It didn't help fight the sick bugs off, or to get back to work refreshed. It's all worth it, though, for sure. Again, no picture of the actual food, unfortunately, but here's all the pans laid out before the party, from right to left, the grilled chicken breasts (sliced in strips in the pan), the smoked chicken 1/4s (cut into leg/thigh portions), pulled pork, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw and grilled vegetables (not in the chafer and slightly hard to see).

I'm off to cook some boneless leg of lamb, a pork shoulder and some other items to prepare for a restaurant tasting this week and to deliver the lamb to the restaurant where I'm currently working as a test for a new item-- we would cook the lamb at the bbq joint, then deliver it to the other restaurant for their use. Cool.

I leave you w/ a hip new item: Vampire Weekend: Campus

They're a relatively new NYC band of college age cool kids that forge an African rhythm to punk-indie americanism (think world beat modest mouse). It'll be interesting to see what happens with them.

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