Friday, December 28, 2007

Useful Site - Cutting Board Care

I thought I'd pass on a link to this site as it has some good basic information on selecting cutting boards and how to care for them. The site is called "Cutting Boards, Chopping Blocks, and Butcher Blocks" - I recommend taking a look.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Smoked Turkey - My First Time

December 22, 2007

My first time smoking a turkey. I think it went pretty darn well overall. Got some tasty meat, and learned a few things along the way. Barbecue, like many other things, is something that you continually learn about - and the best way is to learn by doing.

In the end the meat was super moist, and had a nice light smoke flavor.

Lessons Learned:
  • If possible, get a fresh turkey - no hassle with thawing, and it just has to be better.
  • A 13 pound turkey is about the limit for my little Brinkmann smoker (this one is 12.71 pounds).
  • Don't brine so long - it was a little too salty in some of the meat closer to the surface (I'll try about 10 hours next time).
  • It is easier to deal with the cold when starting the cook - I had to wrap the smoker to get the meat up that last 8-10 degrees.
  • Don't let your wife put a hat (especially one of hers!) on you - even if it does have ear flaps and it is cold out. I'll stick to the baseball cap I had on all day, thank you.
  • The dogs know a good thing when they smell it - just don't turn your back on them!
The prep:

For this day I used a 12.71 pound frozen grocery store turkey.
Fully thawed bird and removed the neck and giblet bag.
At noon on the 21st I put the bird into a brine.

The morning of the 22nd I started up two chimney's of charcoal, and put a bunch of Oak chips into water to soak. Then I prep'd the rub, got my filler for filling the cavity and liquid for the injector all ready.

My rub this day was made up on the fly. I had been going back and forth on what to try, and in the end decided to go for simpler and made it up as I went along. This ended up being really ugly on the cold bird, but lovely after smoking for an hour.

The Brine:
1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water. I ended up needing about 3 1/2 gallons.

The Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
1/4 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon white pepper
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
1 stick butter, melted

The Filler:
1 onion, quartered
2 pink lady apples, quartered
1 handful of dried cranberries

The Injector Liquid:
Apple Juice

First I tossed the cranberries on the bottom of the cavity, then alternated onion and apple till it was all stuffed.
I then injected with the apple juice. I have never done this before - not too hard to figure out.
Then I reheated the rub since the butter had hardened in the refrigerator and spread it over the bird. It wasn't quite enough to cover every part, but I did what I could. I also hardened as I put it on since the bird was still pretty cold. The bird sat for a bit to warm while I checked on the charcoal.

Here's the ugly bird with the rub on it just before going on the smoker (click image to enlarge):

It was sunny, but really cold (yes, really cold for a native Californian!), so I used both chimney's of charcoal, and thought I'd be smart and save myself some work later on and added some unlit charcoal on the edge of the pan on top of the lit stuff.

The theory was OK, but in reality it made the first hour hard. It was too darn hot. I opened the door, pulled the top off a lot - kept trying to let the heat out. Funny how when you need it hotter it won't happen, but when you don't need it hot, you can't cool it down. Finally I lifted the unit off the bottom and pulled a bunch of briquettes off. That did the trick!

At the one hour mark the internal temp was 250 F and the temp in the breast was 98 F.

Here's the bird at one hour (click to enlarge) - I was totally happy with the color on this. Looking good. At this point I thought I might actually pull this off.

At the two hour mark the internal temp was 225 F and the temp in the breast was 122 F.

At the two hour point the deep brown/caramel color really deepened (click to enlarge):

At the three hour mark the internal temp was 245 F and the temp in the breast was 137 F.

At three hours (click to enlarge) the color looked all set - now to slow cook and get the temperature up.

At the three and a half hour mark the breast temp was up to 140 F after having a drop in the smoker temp. Took a bit to get it back up.

Here (below, click to enlarge) I have covered the wings with foil because they were getting too brown.

At the four hour mark the shade was sneaking almost to the smoker and it was cooling off fast. The internal temp was 160 F and the temp in the breast was 141 F.

Tossed a little more smoke Oak just for fun (click to enlarge):

Things continued to cool, so I started some more charcoal - about 2/3 chimney. Put that in when it was ready, and the heat came up, but not enough to really hit deep in the bird. A slight breeze was blowing too.

So I got my really fancy wraps and draped them over the smoker - it isn't pretty, but it did the trick (see below, click to enlarge)!

With the smoker wrapped and some hot charcoal in the belly, the temp in the breast went from 171 to 181 in 45 minutes.

Pulled out the instant read to check a few other locations and I called this baby done!

Here's Mojo (one of our two Newfoundlands) with new found interest in what I am up to. Dontcha just love the hat? Jen was worried about me being cold so she pulled off my baseball hat and put this thing on me because it would cover my ears. Remind me to hide the camera next time...

Got the bird inside to carve up - yum!

Juicy and yummy. Everything just fell off the bones. Very tender, very juicy. Very happy. =)

We ate a bit to try it out. Not as much meat on a 12 pounder as I expected, but that's OK.

I bagged up some for each family to try out on Christmas day, and we will keep all the extra little tidbit for ourselves.

Jen thinks I should just do a number of breasts next time to get more meat for the work. Will have to try that sometime to see how it turns out.

So all in all a good day. I had my laptop out there with me so I could check the CBBQA forums and even make a few posts. The new thermometer worked out well. Only thing that would make it better is if it were dual probe. Got some yard work done and did lots of little things around the house - and ended up with some pretty darn good smoked turkey too.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

What I want for Christmas

I'm not going to get it, but a 20" X 40" Klose Backyard Chef would be great!
Check out these fabulous units at At $2,300 it is going to be some time before I am firing one of these up at home. Sure would be nice though.

I was lucky to get a new RediCheck thermometer this year! Only swung that because I'm smokin' this Turkey and it sure would be nice to know what the temp is! =) My last one (cheap model) died earlier this week. I am hoping this RediCheck serves me well for a long time (that doesn't mean I won't need another one sometime soon!). I wanted to get the dual probe model, but when you are a few days out from Christmas and it is 9:30 PM, you don't have the luxury of being too choosy. Luckily we ran into a Linens 'n Things and they had a really nice selection.

I also paid less than if I had gotten it at Barbeques Galore - I went to two different locations and they were all sold out. But
this did allow me to see the big San Diego store - MUCH larger than the one here in Escondido. A much larger selection of items to choose from. They also let me know that a brand new store just opened in 4S Ranch, which is between Escondido and San Diego. So I will need to check that out and see how large that location is.

So a small piece this year. I think I'll have to work up to the Klose - but it's good to have goals!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Workin the Bird

OK - my plans for this turkey keep changing as much as the amount of rain forecast in San Diego.

I've got the turkey thawed out, and it is now sitting in its brine bath. Never smoked a turkey, or done a brine before for that matter. So this should be interesting.

Wish me luck for tomorrow! =)

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Plan - Gotta Get Started

OK - so the bacon smoke will have to wait a little bit. There is some learning to do on curing and such before I jump into that. But it will be done.

I got some pork for Jen to use in a meat loaf - and thanks to the huge portions at Costco, there is some left over. So I am going to fire up the new Brinkmann and do a small little smoke to get back in the game. Photos and notes to come.

I'd better try this new equipment out at least once before Saturday - that's the day I'm doin' the turkey! (assuming of course that the bloody thing defrosts by then!) It had better defrost, because then it is off to a holiday gathering and right into X-Mas eve. Given the cold weather I don't think I'm going to have much time to brine it - yes, I know I said earlier I wasn't going to do a brine - but I think I've changed my mind. Of course, I might not have any say in the matter...

I'm going to whip up some rub that I am totally making up from scratch, pop some stuff in the cavity and go for it!

But first the pork...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My First CBBQA Event

I'm a new member to the California BBQ Association. Been watching the member forums trying to pick up a tip here and there and learn a few things.

They have these Backyard BBQ events. Similar to what our dog obedience club does called a Show & Go (the idea being that you bring your dog to this "dog show" where there are stewards and judges and everything like a real show - but it isn't. This gives you a good test of where your dog really stands.

Same idea with a Backyard BBQ event. They have a full set of Judges, Table Captains and a set number of teams. They have agreed ahead of time what the meats will be and publish the turn-in times. The Judges judge, and the winners win. Just like a real competition - but it isn't. So less stress, more fun, and a great chance to test your stuff and see how it stands up against other teams.

This event at the end of January will have 14 teams competing, 12 Judges, 2 Table Captains and a lot of meat, smoke and fun.

This will be my first CBBQA event, and I am signed up to be a Table Capitan, even though they are normally certified judges. Since this isn't a real event, rules can be bent. It should give me a good flavor of how these competition BBQ's go, and how the judging works. Should get some good foodand meet some nice people too. =)

Sunday, December 9, 2007


A posting today on the California BBQ Association Forum made my mouth water for bacon. It got me thinking and I decided that Bacon is what I want to try next on the ole smoker. Also thought it would be a great gift for folks that are cooking big family breakfasts for the holidays.

Here's the specific post

Now I am attempting to gather information on what, how, when and why - anything that will aid me in learning what to do to smoke some good bacon.

So if any of you readers out there have tips, tricks or whatever about smoking bacon - send them on as a comment to this post! I'll be sure to keep notes on what I do and post that up along with photos.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


I'm itching to smoke or grill something. Anything!

This is San Diego County right? It never rains. It's never cold. Well, OK, so that's actually not too far from the truth. Did have a big day of rain Saturday - 1.75 inches in one day. Washed out the road again - nothing like being stranded.

But that's not what is keeping me from the coals and smoke wood. It has been a combination of things actually. Life has just been too crazy lately, and Jen has been doing more cooking (which is a good thing!). Therefore, less need for me to do it - and I like to grill when I'm doing the food -- with some smoking added in here and there. Work has been busy too. But things should slow down starting this week, as they always do in the holiday season.

I've got a 12 pound turkey in the freezer that I need to pick a day for. This will be my first time smoking a turkey - and my first time smoking in the new smoker most likely. Should be interesting!

So if anyone out there reading this has any tips for smoking a turkey, or a favorite rub, or... please drop me a note and let me know about it! I have been debating a brine - but I've never done that either! So I think I'll wait on the brine for another day.

Here is the What's Cooking America plan. What Smoking has to say. And here are BBQ by Dan's ideas. I'm looking for other ideas, tips, etc.

Till next time...happy smoking!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

What we entered in the Char-Broil Big Easy Thanksgiving contest

Well, we pushed it to the very end. After returning home from the family Thanksgiving Day dinner and buying two turkey's on the way home (yes - one of them is for me to smoke!) we quickly checked the entry rules for the Char-Broil ( contest and realized that the midnight deadline was Eastern Time! We had 40 minutes to get our entries in!

We did. Jen wrote them up on my computer and I formatted the emails to match the requirements and got them in with a whole 11 minutes to spare!

I thought I'd share them here even though they have nothing to do with grilling or BBQ. I hope you enjoy!

This first one is great. We are hooked on this for dessert.

Recipe Name: Apple Crisp

Section of the meal the recipe is recommended: Dessert
Serving Size: 1 cup (or more!)
Number of Servings: 4-6
Time to prep for cooking: 10-15 minutes
Time for cooking: 30-35 minutes

Ingredient List with Measures:
4 good sized apples (Pink Ladies are best)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup quick oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter plus a tad more for greasing/buttering

Quickly peel apple and cut apples into 1/8 inch slices. Discard cores.

Place apples in a buttered 8-inch round glass pan or loaf pan. In a bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and using a pastry cutter, work butter so that is resembles pea sized balls. Pour mixture over apples and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned but not burned.

I like to serve this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

And this is one of Jen's favorites.

Recipe Name: Cranberry Orange Bread
Section of the meal the recipe is recommended: Passed during meal
Serving Size: 1 slice
Number of Servings: 10-12 slices
Time to prep for cooking: 20 minutes
Time for cooking: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Ingredient List with Measures:
1 orange
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup cranberries
1/2-3/4 cup walnuts, broken
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Zest orange and squeeze juice into a measuring cup. Heat a mug of water in the microwave until it boils and pour boiling water into measuring cup until it reaches 3/4 of a cup. Add zest and butter in small pieces so it quickly melts. Stir mixture until butter melts completely.

In a bowl large enough to accommodate all ingredients, beat egg with sugar. Add cranberries and walnuts and coat with flour before mixing. Add salt, baking soda and powder and orange mixture to bowl. Mix by hand until well blended.

Into a prepared standard sized kitchen loaf pan pour batter and bake at 350 for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doness after 1 hour.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Free Fryer Contest - and an interesting new product

Deadline is November 22nd - so hurry up if you want to try your luck.

Char-Broil has a new product - "The Big Easy". It is an oil-less turkey fryer that works with infrared heat. Interesting idea.

To promote this new product they are having a contest where the winner gets a free Big Easy. All you have to do is send in the recipe for your favorite "easy" Thanksgiving Day food. It can be any part of the meal. You can enter up to three times - but you have to get them in before midnight on Nov 22nd. - here's the link for complete information on entering the contest.

I'd love to try some various meats cooked up in this thing to see what they are like. If anyone has experience with infrared cooking, drop me a line to let me know what you think about it, how it compares to grilling, smoking, or deep frying. I'll share your comments with other readers.


Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Quick Survey Up

I just added a short survey to the site - top left over there, easy to find.

I've been looking at a lot of smoking sites and blogs and seeing that there are a lot of folks that like to soak their smoke woods as well as a lot that like to burn it dry.

My smoking mentors have always said to soak it. So that's what I do. But it got me wondering what the poll numbers would say.

So if you are one of the few that might stumble across this site, take a minute and pick your vote. Only two possible answers! I decided to run the poll for two months.

I am interested in seeing the results, of course. But also to see if anyone even stops by!

Oh! I almost forgot. If you are reading this and take the poll, also take a minute to Comment to this post and let me know what your favorite wood(s) to use for smoking is.

I will post again with the results and any info I gather on favorite woods. Thanks!!

Good smoking!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Charcoal briquets history

So charcoal has been around for ages. What about the charcoal briquet? Seems Henry Ford had a big hand in that. Here's a little history from the Kingsford website. See what happens when family works together? =)

Some nice Equipment Tips on this Site

I have just started poking around on this site, but this Tips & Modifications page looks like it has a ton of informative tips - especially for folks that might want to modify their smoker a bit. This is on the Virtual Weber Bullet site, but most of these ideas can be used with other brands of smokers as well.

These Weber Bullet users seem to really love their smokers. I haven't seen one of these in the stores (Home Depot and Lowe's) here in the San Diego area. I haven't been looking for them either.

Monday, November 12, 2007

New Smoker Information

I forgot to mention what the new smoker is...

It is a Brinkmann Gourmet Charcoal Smoker.

I got the green color. Why? Well, that was the only choice I had, so...

Tip of the day on this smoker: Don't buy it online from the manufacturer. They charge $90 - Lowe's has it for $44.

I'll post more on it after I get the two missing parts and fire it up.

New after-fire smoker

Well, we almost lost the house in the October 2007 wildfires in San Diego. Inches. Just a few inches of concrete is what saved the house. The gardens, roses, orange, oak and avocado trees were not as lucky.

So what does Jen do while we are at the store buying parts to fix the pipes that burned off and needed to be capped? She buys me a new smoker! Ironic since just a few days before she turned down an invite to a great smoked-food restaurant because she didn't want anything to do with smoke or fire...

A few parts were missing, so I called the manufacturer and they are being shipped. I hope to have them in a few days.

This smoker is a little bigger, and can be lifted off of the charcoal pan. Very nice. This is the style of older smokers I have seen - nice to have that access to add more charcoal or wood.

I also learned a few weeks ago that the chunks of wood I have been using are too large. So I will be trying some new techniques in my new smoker here soon.

Jen is even talking about me doing a turkey for Thanksgiving...could be interesting.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

First Tri-tip smoke - & first time with lump charcoal

Got a late start. Wanted to get setup and smoking by noon, but, as usual, life got in the way. Finally got going getting ready about 3-ish. Then was getting worried because rain was in the forecast - but luckily they pushed that back a day, so it was just getting cold.

Of course it had been sometime since I've smoked and things we out of place, and dirty, and I was moving the smoker to a new spot, etc......So finally got the coals going about 4:15 or so. First time trying lump charcoal. Got a bog bad at Costco a few months back. It even sat out in the rain, but had plenty of time to dry.

I had two good size Tri-tips. I was also going to do a pork tenderloin, but decided to marinade that overnight for a wok dish tomorrow. One Tri-tip I lightly sprinkled with Santa Maria style seasoning. The smaller one I didn't do anything to.

On they went. I sat out there with the laptop working and watching the heat (and being sure the dogs didn't get too close checking things out!).

About 4 hours later Jen got home and I pulled the meat, sliced off a bunch and sat down.

The plain stuff had a lovely smoke ring. First time I've seen one so clearly on my own smoking! =)
It also melted in your mouth! Flavor? OK. I wasn't getting as much smoke as I would have liked. Not sure why.

The one with Santa Maria seasoning? Oh ya, very nice. Great flavor. Jen would have been happier if I had flipped it as one side was pinker than she likes. But the internal temp was over the USDA minimum, so we were good.

Sorry, forgot to photograph the end result - wanted to show Jen the smoke ring, and then eat it up!

The new location worked well. The garage blocked much of the wind that has always been such a problem for me before. Still got some, but not nearly as much. Works well for sunset smokes because the wind turns at sunset and gets blocked. But earlier it was coming from the west right at me. So will he to try a day smoke and see how it goes.

Good stuff!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

3-way Salmon (mobile post)

BBQ'd Salmon last night - had some Sockeye which I was surprised Jen bought. It's too strong and she didn't like it last time. So I cooked up half with the Kirkland seafood rub we love on it. Tried adding some wood chips too, but had the heat too low to get it hot enough to smoke. The other half of the sockeye and the "regular" salmon we did our normal way - wrapped in foil with lemon and butter - always good!.

But did leave it too long near the end and the juices got loose and flamed up - burned a little of the fish. But still it turned out darn nice. The sockeye with the run was OK. It took off the bite, but I just don't like that fish. Didn't try the sockeye in the lemon & butter though - so will have to reserve judgment on that one for now.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

This man knows how to BBQ!!!

If you are ever in San Diego, and you are hungry - Phil's BBQ is the place to go. He has recently opened a new, much larger, operation in the Sports Arena area -- and the food, well, it is very, very (very) good. You best be hungry.

I'm not really an onion ring guy - but Phil's are great.

Ready to eat - get the pulled pork sandwich. But be ready to eat a LOT.

Here's an article about Phil and how he got started.

Now go enjoy some BBQ!

Friday, July 6, 2007

OK - so this isn't so fancy...

These don't look like much - but man, are they good!

Here they are before hitting the grill.

What's the secret? Dare I tell?

OK, so what I do is start with organic hamburger from Costco - yes, Costco. Then I add the secret ingredient (again, from Costco) - Kirkland Herbed Seafood Rub. Yeah - I know hamburger isn't seafood! But believe me - it is the best. How much do I add? A lot, more that I would normally add, then some more. It is always very, very good.

I let it sit in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes before tossing on the hot BBQ, and then eat hot off the grill.

These are larger than your average burger. We stopped eating them on a bun after the first time - they are too big. We like our meat cooked pretty well, and I like to slow cook. These bad-boys sat on the heat for about 25 minutes. And yes - they were as good as always.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

May 27, 2007 (date of the smoking)--

So my wife Jen keeps telling her folks how good my smoked ribs are. So one day they decided to come up and find out for themselves. Now the pressure was on!

So why not try something totally new just to raise the possibility of totally screwing it all up!
We pulled a full chicken from the freezer that had been in there way too long, and added that to the list. Plus the ole standby pork ribs, and fresh salmon. Decided to do the salmon on the BBQ since the little smoker didn't have enough room for all this meat. No vegetarians here!

First step, prep the meat. So I pulled out the ribs and cleaned them up.

Not as many as I often do. This package was from a different store, but that proved to be OK because I didn't have much extra room!

Next comes the rub...I often use too much, so tried to use a light hand here. Used some untraditional stuff for pork. Santa Maria tri-tip spices, and a new rub from Costco - yup, the Seafood Rub. (as a side note - this seasoning is fantastic in hamburger - we get organic hamburger, put a ton of this seafood seasoning in it and BBQ patties - man, it is great. Better than homemade meatloaf and a lot easier!)

Used some standard chicken seasoning inside and out on the bird.

Next it's time to fire up the coals (wood chips already soaking - I always forget that step!)

Lay on the meat and sit back with a beer and wait.......

Here's the chicken. Man, this was yummy.

The pork ribs - just can't seem to go wrong here.
Meat just falling off the bone, great taste. My father-in-law actually gave me a fantastic restaurant style review the next day. And restaurant would have been proud with his review!

Add the salmon which came off the BBQ hot, moist and cooked just right.
We ended up skipping all the sides we had planned. After some chips and guacamole, then seeing all this fine looking meat, everyone wanted to save room for the real reason we all got together!

So I still feel like I'm not really sure what I am doing with this whole smoking gig (this is about my third or forth go at it) - but I seem to be doing OK for a guy that feels like he is blowing it!
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