Friday, June 19, 2009

Magilla the Griller

I continue to live in a grill-free apartment. Fortunately there is a brand new and totally awesome grilling blog to blow some smoke through your RSS read: This guy is an expert with a Green Egg, and he's sharing a ton of good recipes for you to try out. Monkfish and mango skewers? Hell yes.

As for me, I've had pretty good luck finding people with grilling space who need help running the coals. Now that summer is trickling into New England, there might be a few Smokey Joe excursions in the future as well. If anyone has some other tips for making cook outs possible in the urban jungle, leave it in the comments.


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Friday, January 09, 2009

The Mighty Bacon Explosion

Fair warning, your cholesterol levels might go up just clicking on this link.

Basic Summary:
- Lattice of bacon
- Two pounds of sausage
- More bacon
- BBQ sauce and rub
- Rolled into a tube and slow smoked with a glaze

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Baja BBQ Firepack

I've been a reluctant fan of the flammable charcoal bag for awhile. For those who don't know, its a small bag of match light charcoal. One simply lights the bag and the entire thing burns up, igniting the coals. Very convenient for grilling on the go, but with the downside of utilizing lighter fluid which can ruin the flavor.

The Baja BBQ Firepack utilizes the same concept of prepackaged charcoal, but also includes a built in chimney function, allowing you to ignite the coals through natural air induction. Designed by Mike and Maaike and produced by Lazzari. Link found on MoCo Loco.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Summer is almost here!


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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Army Green Smokey Joe

I'm sorry this blog never updates. Its hard to grill in the city, in winter, with no porch. I've moved a lot of my culinary adventures into the kitchen, like the soft lazy old man I've become. But I just caught sight of this badass new color available in the Smokey Joe and had to post about it.

And of course there is a coordinating portable grill tool set:

Everyone knows the Smokey Joe is the mobile urban grilling tool of choice. Easily rides along in the car or a tote bag for portable charcoal action when and where you need it. And now it has an awesome shade of army green. Looks like its a special edition color only available at Crate & Barrel, similar to the equally awesome Weber Performer, my dream grill for the day I own a house with a porch, that they had last year in a nice grass green. Looks like that one has been updated to match in army green as well.

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tailgating Prep: Patriots vs Bills

Tomorrow Matt and I are going to Foxboro to watch the Patriots make their record 3 and 0 at the expense of the Buffalo Bills. I'm pretty pumped because this is actually my first regular season game and I expect the atmosphere to be intense. The Bills haven't won a game this year and all signs are pointing to blow out, but it should be exciting regardless. The weather is going to be sunny and in the upper 70s, and the grilling is going to be epic.

We're going to try something new, since this is a 1pm game: breakfast on the grill. We expect to be at the stadium around 10am and firing up Matt's 22" Weber with a brand new griddle. I'm bringing pancake batter, eggs and home fries. We expect to spend another two hours grilling post-game, while we wait for the traffic to clear and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. A visual preview...

I never would have thought you could improve on my bacon jalapeno poppers. Well it turns out you can, to the tune of mixing chopped bacon and sharp cheddar into the cream cheese before stuffing them. I may die of cardiac arrest at 30, but at least I can say that I got to eat these.



Some boneless country pork ribs, rubbed and ready for the grill:

Boneless Ribs

Some Patriot's endorsed brats:

Patriot's Endorsed Beer Brats

And some buffalo chicken wings, because why not:

Chicken Wings

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Happy Labor Day

I was reading the summer grilling issue of Cook's Illustrated today. I'm not sure if this is always the case, but it seems like with each recipe their goal was to improve on something that was commonly accepted at levels of mediocrity. For example, the section on fajitas pegged them as generally being bland chunks of chicken and peppers that required excessive condiment application to disguise their lack of flavor.


I'd never thought about it that way: we always tend to enjoy the condiments as much as everything else. How can you go wrong with fresh guacamole, salsa and sour cream? I saw the author's point however. You should be able to do enough with chicken that it can stand on its own. The recipe in question was for a quick marinade, primarily lime, cilantro and jalapeno based, with a suggested marinade time of just 15 minutes.

Chicken Marinade


To compliment this, we chose another recipe from the same issue for a dill cream cucumber sandwich. One interesting technique highlighted here was for maintaining the crunchyness of cucumbers. It involved putting a ziplock bag of water on top of the sliced cucumbers to help squeeze out the internal water. In addition the slices were tossed with salt which further drew out the internal moisture. The result was supposed to maintain the delicious crunch of
a freshly cut cucumber, even after being dressed.



As should be no surprise when working under the written instruction of Cooks Illustrated, both dishes turned out to be a success. The chicken was tender and flavorful, and each primary ingredient in the marinade was distinctly noticeable after grilling. The cucumbers were every bit as crunchy as expected, and the fresh dill and sour cream dressing was a refreshing compliment to the citrus spice of the fajitas. Even a quick tip on covering your tortillas with a dish towel after taking them off the grill made a huge difference, keeping the tortillas warm and supple instead of hardening once they come off the heat.

The Spread

Nom nom nom nom

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

MIT BBQ & Tailgating Prep

Today when I was walking around outside work I noticed that someone had set up a BBQ stand in the plaza next door. Actually I think its been there most of the summer but I've never wandered over and checked it out. Today I walked past and noticed that the sign says its run by I Smell Smoke, a BBQ team name I recognized from various other BBQ-related blogs. Unfortunately I didn't have any cash and assumed they weren't equipped for debit card. Looks like the menu was primarily pulled pork sandwiches with chips and soda. I'm going to have to make this stop next week.

Tomorrow Cassie and I are going to a night time Patriots preseason game versus the Titans. Should be a great evening. The best part about August preseason games is the warm tailgating afternoons and the lack of pressure on winning. Last year we went to a game about this time, but this year we're going to do it right and head out earlier in the afternoon.

I'm starting to put together a menu for the afternoon and thinking it will center around a slow smoked encore to the ribs I did on vacation.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Seasoned Skewers

On a trip up to Maine to see my parents this past weekend we celebrated my upcoming birthday a little early. True to past form, bbq equipment played a heavy theme this year. Rather then one round up of the fun new grilling widgets, I thought I would examine one at a time. First up, the interesting Seasoned Skewers: naturally flavored wooden skewers for infusing flavor and aroma into kabobs.

Seasoned Skewers

The box came with three different flavors: citrus rosemary, garlic herb and mexican fiesta. For tonight's trial we were making kabobs out of chicken jalapeno sausages, mushrooms and peppers, and I chose the garlic herb skewers to go with it. My assumption was that the flavor wouldn't be able to compete very well with the flavored chicken sausage, and that the peppers have so little contact area with the skewer that there wouldn't be much transfer to those either. The mushrooms however have a nice neutral flavor, absorbent flesh and abundant contact area. The next time I experiment with these skewers I plan on using a more neutral ingredient combination such as some slightly seasoned chicken or shrimp.


The skewers come with a small recipe book and some nice packaging. The aroma after opening the vacume sealed plastic pouce that each flavor comes in was quite strong but appealing. The skewers are wide and flat, presumably to help transfer the flavor via more surface area. The instructions said to let the kabobs sit for 15 minutes before grilling, so I went out and lit up ol' Smokey Joe.

Smokey Joe

The chicken sausage comes precooked, so we're really just heating things up and adding some nice grill color. Because of this I let the veggies, particularly the sensitive mushrooms, define how long the kabobs stayed on the grill. We were having some corn too so I let that cook by itself for awhile before adding the kabobs. Total cooking time was roughly 20m, probably only half of that actually involving the kabobs. I'm not going to embed the photo here because some people might find it incredibly gross, but while the grill was working its magic Cassie and I observed an enormous, lepoard spotted slug emerge from a hole in the pavement. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in seeing a good macro photo of, click here and here.

Corn n Kabobs

When we took the food off the grill the aroma garlic herb aroma was noticeable and pleasent. It didn't seem artificial as I had assumed it would. When we sat down to eat my expectations regarding how the ingredients would react to the flavor was pretty accurate. The strong hot pepper flavor of the sausage dominated, the peppers didn't have much flavor to them, and the mushrooms were strongly flavored. What I hadn't counted on was the actual aroma that the skewers delivered to the kabobs. Even the sausage had a deliciously interesting aroma to it. I'm looking forward to trying the other two flavors, and hopefully tailoring some more interesting combo recipes to their specific qualities. Overall I would say that despite appearing to be slightly gimmicky on first pass, these skewers can really add some aromatic presence to the proper kabob ingredients.

Chicken Sausage Kabobs

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recipe: Cassie's Sangria

By popular request!

• 1.5 liter bottle of red wine (merlot or cabernet)
• Juice of half a lemon
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1 cup berry or peach brandy
• 1/2 cup triple sec
• Juice to taste (orange and/or peach, optional)
• 1 Orange
• 1 Lime
• 1 Green Apple

Mix all the liquids in a large pitcher. Chop the fruits into small (roughly quarter inch) cubes, leaving the peel on the fruits. Add these to the pitcher and stir. Add orange or peach juice to taste if desired, maybe 1/2 a cup.

Chill overnight for the best results!

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fantastic Filet

For our final cookout in Provincetown, Cassie pick up a mutual favorite: thick cut filet mignon. I haven't cooked steaks in some time, and I was looking forward to applying some recently acquired knowledge around cooking fast and building up a crust. Its hard to throw off the "low and slow" mantra of the BBQ, but when it comes to steak cooking as fast as possible is the key to victory.


Cooking steaks indoors during the past winter, I had been working on the technique of pan searing with butter to build up a delicious crust and lock in as much flavor as possible. Working with this I whipped together some butter with cracked pepper and rubbed the outside of the steak with this. When the coals had just died down and were still glowing I put on the steak to cook for about 4 minutes per side. The butter and intense heat performed as expected, and the filet was deliciously crusted on the outside and incredibly flavorful on the inside. This was sort of a last minute unplanned cookout, and it ended up providing us with a main dish that certainly rivaled the careful preparation that went in the 4th of July ribs (could it have been the 7/7/07 luck?!)

Delicious Filet

Sadly missing form this photographic documentation is the delicious potato salad Cassie made, and some leftover kabobs form the Fourth.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Fourth of July Beach Cookout

Grilling on the beach was something I'd really been looking forward to doing this year, and it did not disappoint. Around 5pm the wind started to pick up a little and cleared away all the sun bathers, so we though it would be a good time to light the coals. It was slightly challenging getting coals started in direct wind without the charcoal chimney I normally use. Once the flame caught I put the lid back on leaving a 2 inch game over the side with the coals banked. This in conjunction with the side air vents on the Smokey Joe Gold seemed to keep things burning.

Take that, offshore winds!

I wanted to let the ribs smoke for at least an hour, using the apple wood chips I had found in the local hardware store. To tide us over, I made some kabobs with fresh pineapple, onion, peppers and shrimp. These cooked real fast, and kept us entertained while some more of that delicious corn we had on sunday was streaming. One thing I noticed was that the shrimp readily absorbed the smokey flavor and also dried out rather quickly. I'm not sure if this was because they were on the small size for grilling, or if it was because they had been pre-cooked when we bought them. Either way, I'm going to have to delve into shrimp grilling a little bit more and try to crack this. The fresh pineapple was delicious as usual.

I guess thats the cool thing to do now?

The ribs cooked for just about an hour and a half, with the rub forming a delicious looking crust. I brushed them down with some Sweet Baby Ray's honey bbq sauce and let that caramalize for another 15 minutes. Just as we were getting ready to take them off a few drops of rain sizzled on the grill lid. As we got the ribs inside it just started to pick up so we dodged a bullet and enjoyed our meal while watching the storm go by.

Ribs and Corn

Delicious Ribs

Please note Cassie's delicious home made sangria in the above photo. The ribs were delicious, with just enough of a smoke ring around the inside to convince myself that one can take a serious stab at doing actual barbecue on a grill, even a small one like the Smokey Joe.

//update: the Flickr photo group Bar-B-Qued Ribs asked for me to submit that photo to them! Super cool, check out all the food porn they've collected.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Prepping for the Fourth

We are really looking forward to having a nice cookout on the beach for the Fourth of July. Today we took a walk down to the market and picked up some supplies needed with the following menu in mind:
• Babyback ribs, to fulfill my mission discussed previously
• Shrimp and pineapple kabobs
• Fresh corn
• Homemade sangria (Cassie's specialty)

The kabobs are intended to be a quick-cookin snack to keep us happy around the grill while the ribs can slow cook their way to deliciousness. I followed the trimming and prepping instructions from to prep the ribs, and also cut the rack in half so it would fit on the Smokey Joe without a problem:

Trimmed Ribs

I found a pre-made pork rub at the store, not ideal but better then buying all the spices and other ingredients for a homemade rub in bulk and then leaving them at the beach house to never be used again. It went on pretty well so I have good expectations for it.


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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Vacation Begins

Today Cassie and I arrived in Provincetown on Cape Cod and spent a wonderful afternoon of doing precisely nothing. Eventually we got around to venturing out and acquiring some of the goods that make doing nothing so much better, specifically food and beer. At the local hardware store I picked up a Smokey Joe Gold and some charcoal. We weren't looking to break into any culinary circles quite yet, so the evening menu consisted of some good corn and a few hot dogs.


Ah, that new grill smell.

The Smokey Joe Gold has one neat feature that my alley grill at home lacks: a built in handle that also serves to lock the lid in place, making it possible to carry the grill while the coals are still somewhat hot. I'm thinking this should make it feasible to take the grill down to the beach, a whole 20 feet away from our porch, to grill in the sand on of these nights, and then bring it back up after cooking. Can't imagine a better fourth of July.

Breaking in the new grill.


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Saturday, June 30, 2007

BBQ Video: 2007 Blue Ridge BBQ Festival

Take a look at a few tasty tid bits from the 2007 Blue Ridge BBQ Festival.


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