Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BBQ vs Grilling - Is there a difference?

OK, so we all have experience with backyard grilling. Most of us, myself included from time to time, call that barbecuing or BBQ. Like most of you I love me a good steak, grilled to perfection, seared on the outside with all the juices perfectly sealed within. I have been known to grill hot dogs, burgers, kabobs, steaks, chicken and even vegetables. But I hate to tell ya, that ain't real BBQ.
Grilling Everything Under the Sun

Grilling is done quickly over a high heat using briquets or gas.  BBQ, in my book, is low and slow. Some cuts of meat can take many hours of smoking over indirect heat. Typically meat that is BBQ'd is rubbed with a seasoning and then slowly smoked, using fine hardwoods at a temperature somewhere between 180 and 225 degrees. At some point in this process the pitmaster may choose to add his or her sauce. Both Rubs and Sauces are highly personal and very few pitmasters will share their secret recipe for either. I'm not that worried about it because all of my "secrets" were either learned directly from others or adapted to my own taste from another recipe. At some point I'll post these. 

Smoking Various Meats
It is possible to cook higher and quicker with smoke but usually the meat just doesn't turn out as good if it is rushed. Slow smoking allows the meat to breakdown (tenderize) and retain more juices than grilling and then the wonderfulness of smoke is added. 

Smoke meat is more flavorful and it's also obvious when you see the tell tell smoke ring, a red ring around the edge of the meat that indicates it was slowly smoked, rather than grilled.

                                                  Smoked Beef Brisket

                                                     Smoked Pork Rib

For now I guess that's it. Just some basic thoughts on Grilling and BBQing, both of which are wonderful ways to cook meat.

Oh..... one last thing. For you lifelong members of PETA, I'll simply say, "if God didn't want us to eat animals then he wouldn't have made them out of meat."

Until then........

"May your Root Beer mug overflow and may you feel the need to wipe the BBQ sauce off your face."


Monday, February 28, 2011

What and Why of Root Beer and BBQ

I have always been a fan of Root Beer and a lover of good BBQ.

When I was growing up in Ridgecrest, CA there was an Old Fashioned A&W stand. It was on China Lake Blvd, just south of the old K&R Market and Cornelius Shoe Store and at the very northern end of what used to be the Fair Grounds.

I don't know if there is a better experience for a young boy to find his way to this A&W when it's 95 to 100 degrees outside, a temp that my mom would call "a beautiful day", and sit down with a tap root beer in a frosty mug. The mug was so cold that it would often freeze some of the Root Beer nearly turning it into a Root Beer slush. This was a choice experience because due to fiscal concerns of an 11 year old I could never enjoy this treat as often as I wished to.

Also in town was another favorite of mine. It was called The BBQ Pit which stood on Ridgecrest Blvd between China Lake and Balsam in the vicinity of the old JD's Bar and Dance hall. The BBQ Pit was also very near my first job, The Male Box, a clothing store for boys and men and even though I was only earning $1.65 an hour back in 1969, I found enough spare change to enjoy a great BBQ sandwich on a regular basis. If I recall this set me back about $4 or $5 each visit, but it was well worth it.

I loved the meat, the sauce and certainly the relaxed feel of a BBQ restaurant and to this day still enjoy each of those things about a good smokehouse.

Therefore I am going to start this blog about 2 of my favorite pastimes. BBQ and Root Beer. I'll take different approaches to both. While I have tried my hand at making my own Root Beer, I must admit that I have been less than successful and quite possibly would be willing to admit it was a complete and utter failure.

Consequently my Root Beer hobby has been relegated to searching out and enjoying new brands where ever I can find them. I will share thoughts on Root Beers that I find. I have a collection of over 75 unique Root Beer bottles and can say some of them are excellent Root Beers. Others on the other hand are like a homely child, where only the mother (or in this case, a brewer) could love. This older photo is of about 60 bottles of my "wall of foam fame". Currently the fourth shelf is about halfway full.

For a few years my family has had Root Beer Taste offs on New Years Day. I will find the results and get them posted in future blog posts.

When it comes to BBQ, I have been a bit more successful in this arena. I currently own my second smoker and hope to one day be able to have smoker such as this Lang 48. I have worked hard to develop my skills in producing great Baby Back Ribs, Turkey, Brisket and more, and have developed my own BBQ sauce that I'm quite pleased with. All these will be shared over time if you are interested.

What is interesting about BBQ is that it is extremely subjective. I am pretty sure that if I had 50 people taste my BBQ sauce, or my ribs, nearly half would not like either one. I guess it kind of depends on what part of the country you grew up in or what style of BBQ first whetted your appetite. I'll try to go into that as well.

Because of my love of BBQ I have made an effort to review BBQ places as I have the opportunity to travel and do so. Since I don't travel a great deal anymore for business this isn't as easy as it used to be but I do still have results from those already reviewed and scored. These will be posted as well.

So, for now I simply invite you to bookmark this blog and make periodic visits back to see new items that I may have posted. I will be as frequent as time allows. I will post pictures and experiences about personal efforts whether they be excellent, mediocre or completely disastrous.

Until then........

"May your Root Beer mug overflow and may you feel the need to wipe the BBQ sauce off your face."