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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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cleaning out the fridge: vacation time!

Cassie and I are leaving for Cape Cod this weekend, so we made an attempt at cleaning out the fridge. A quick survey turned up the following items:
- 3 chicken breasts
- 3 burrito burrito size tortillas
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 onion
- Salsa
- A small chunk of cheese

Fajitas ahoy! I had a bottle of jerk marinade on the shelf. We cut up the chicken into finger sized pieces and let it soak in the jerk sauce with some pepper flakes (store bought jerk is never hot enough) for a few hours. This was quickly grilled with the veggies on kabobs for a tasty fajita filling. Not too bad for left overs. The jerk sauce went well with the corn salsa and sweet peppers.

Jerk Chicken Fajitas

I plan on doing some grilling on the beach while we're on the cape, so although I may be absent from posting for a week, expect some good stuff on my return. Hopefully Matt will be able to keep the blog moving with some Independence day cook out goodness.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Weekend Update

Despite the hype of my previous post, scheduling didn't work out for an afternoon of rib smoking. I am happy to report that break-through success was obtained in another area: the elusive buffalo bleu cheese burger. This was something I had attempted back in August 2005 with mixed results. The primary problem at that time was that I was trying to mix the hot sauce with the hamburger before forming the patties, which resulted in them not staying together on the grill.

This time around, I tried a technique used in this video, simply basting the ribs with the hot sauce during the cooking process, which worked great. I also used crumbled bleu cheese and found that it diffused through the center of the burger much better. I'll post a recipe for this in the near future.

I also made a fantastic gazpacho this weekend following this recipe and highly recommend it. The rosemary grilled croutons are fantastic.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday BBQ Links

5 Rules for what makes a good BBQ joint from the Kansas City Barbeque Society by way of White Trash BBQ.

My favorite:
Rule Five: Dust and flies. Contrary to what the NYC DOH preaches, a good barbecue joint needs some dust and flies. If the place is too clean - who's paying attention to the pit. No flies? What do they know that you don't?

Mentioned earlier today, is a wealth of information about how to prepare, rub, smoke and sauce pork ribs, with special attention paid to adapting professional smoker technique to the home BBQ. Awesome.

And last but certainly not least, The Naked Whiz's Lump Charcoal Database, another welcome to addition to the permanent Links section of our site. Without the internet you can bet there would be no easily searchable index of all the various lump charcoal available.

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Taking a Run at some Serious Ribs

In the run up to Memorial Day we stumbled into some fantastic ribs purely by chance. The ribs had been an afterthought at the store, the rub had been assembled out of on-hand ingredients the day of the cookout, and the sauce was whatever we could find in the fridge and stretch out with some molasses and ketchup. The ribs were thrown on the back of the grill and forgotten for a few hours while we cooked a number of other items. In short, we ignored and/or blatantly broke every rule for smoking ribs on a grill. And yet, as noted in the relevant blog post, they ended up being amazing, and probably the highlight of the entire grill-a-thon. BBQ is a series of happy accidents.

This weekend, with a weather forecast for "awesome", I'm looking forward to trying some ribs utilizing the techniques outlined on, specifically their detailed instructions on smoking ribs with a Weber kettle (and if you haven't been paying attention, we've recently been adding links such as to the new Links section of the blog). The plan as of now is to try out this maple chipotle sauce I've had my eye on, and combine it with the Memphis Magic Dust rub for some extra spicy flavor.

As a side note, the ever excellent video blog Townie News, home of Fitzy Fitzgerald and covering all relevant Boston sports news, featured an excellent commentary on two critical components to a successful summer: beer and grilling. check it out (crude language and humor, but if you're reading this blog that shouldn't be a problem right?).

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Pizza

With my recent desire to rid my digestive system of its daily intake of high fructose corn syrup, I have been making some of my condiments from scratch. My most recent experiment has been a thick, homemade tomato sauce. With the recipe for homemade bbq sauce perfected, it occurred to me that I had all the fixin's for my absolute favorite pizza in the entire world: Barbecue chicken.

It was early AM on Tuesday morning when I started pondering what my dinner plans for the evening were going to be. After taking a quick inventory of my refrigerator, I decided that grilled meat wasn't going to get the job done by itself. What I did have was some raw pizza dough, a package of chicken breasts, some fresh mozzarella, and six ounces of my homemade BBQ sauce. All we were missing was the tomato sauce.

Pizza Dough

The tomato sauce takes no more than fifteen minutes if you know what you are doing and I had twenty to spare. First step was to boil water for the tomatoes. The recipe requires five peeled vine-ripened tomatoes and the boiling water helps peel the skin right off. While the water boiled I chopped up the onion, celery and garlic and tossed it all into a pan coated in olive oil. Once I had the onion and celery frying up, I peeled and finely chopped the tomatoes and added them to the pan. With ten minutes to spare, the major grunt work was out of the way. I added the brown sugar, basil, parsley, lime juice, soy sauce and two tablespoons of tomato ketchup. The sauce was ready with two minutes to spare and the whole house smelled amazing.

Peeled Tomatos

Time for work.

Cube Dweller

Hooray! Time to grill this mother. After starting the coals I took out the pizza dough that I had rolled out onto a baking sheet before work and laid down an even healthy coat of my sauce while leaving a 1.25" border for the crust. Next, I sliced up the raw chicken breasts into thin strips and laid them out liberally over the whole pizza surface. I spread spoonfuls of the bbq sauce over the chicken strips and then laid down a thick layer of freshly shredded mozzarella. Topped the whole thing off with a small sprinkling of oregano (Thanks Papa Gino's).

I grilled the pizza still on the baking sheet for easy transport and no mess. Tin foil would have worked as well, but it's not a ridged surface and I'm all about function, baby. There's no real specific time frame for grilling this as it all depends on your coal amount and placement. Because I typically place the coals in a sloped pile on one side of the grill I rotated the pizza 180 degrees halfway through to ensure an even crust. The pizza crust should be firm and the cheese golden before removal.

Grilled Pizza

The end result was a delicious and quick weekday meal for me and my roommate Mariel. Because the ingredients are cheap and the sauce and mozzarella can be used again, it's a great option for doing pizza one night and pasta the next.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Great BBQ Theme Ad Campaign

Check out this ad campaign for the Grain Foods Foundation. Great stuff. More information about the agency and credits as well as two additional ads from the campaign at

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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 0 comments

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Gracious Bowl

Found a cool food blog today, The Gracious Bowl, about great homemade soups. Of particular interest is today's recipe for a grilled chicken lime soup. Marinated chicken is combined with grilled vegetables to make a killer looking summer soup.

Hopefully they won't mind me linking to this image, because it really says a lot more than I can about how good this recipe looks:

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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 1 comments

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Turkey Burgers

Matt has been working on an interesting variation to the typical grill burger, and this Sunday he was gracious enough to share the work in progress with us prior to watching the season finale of the Sopranos. A turkey burger topped with a homemade salsa-esque chopped tomato sauce and freshly shredded mozzarella, I can verify that this bird burger has wings. Hopefully we can look forward to an official recipe post this week.

Matt adds some fresh mozzarella


Fresh corn on the cob, jalapeno poppers and some marinated steak tips rounded out the meal, and certainly left us feeling more satisfied than the conclusion to the Sopranos.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

BBQ Video: Chicken fried bacon

Although not technically BBQ related, this video needs to be shared. How can one appetizer appear so deliciously appetizing and appallingly disgusting at once?


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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Recipe: Italian Stuffed Chicken

Straight from our Memorial Day madness comes our recipe for Italian Stuffed Chicken. This is a great recipe to try when you want to mix it up a little while pleasing everyone.

Stuffed chicken

• 4 Thick cut chicken breasts
• 1 Cup lite Italian dressing
• 6 oz. fresh spinach
• 2 Cloves chopped garlic
• 4 Tbsp. ricotta cheese
• 4 Tbsp. shredded parmesan cheese
• 4 Tbsp. shredded mozarella cheese
• Ground pepper
• 4 tsp. Mrs. Dash seasoning blend
• Toothpicks
• Mesquite or hickory woodchips (optional)

Start preparing the chicken by washing the chicken breasts and placing them in a marinade of the Italian dressing up to five hours in advance of grilling. About a half hour before lighting the coals you should soak two handfuls of the woodchips in water.

When you are getting ready to cook, take the chicken out of the marinade and place them on a plate. On a cutting board, take each chicken breast and cut into the meat sideways creating a pocket. Chop the garlic cloves into small pieces. In a medium frying pan, cover surface with olive oil and add garlic and spinach. Sautee spinach for two to three minutes until spinach has shrunk and cooked through.

Remove frying pan from heat and set spinach aside on small plate or dish. Stuff each chicken breast with a tablespoon of spinach, ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and mozarella cheese. Adjust measurements to fit your specific chicken breasts. When chicken is stuffed, pin the stuffed pocket shut with a toothpick and lightly season the top of the chicken with the pepper and Mrs. Dash.

Place to chicken breasts on the back of the grill to cook with indirect heat. Drop handful of woodchips onto coals and cover the grill. Grill meat for about twenty minutes flipping the chicken periodically. Applying the leftover marinade to the meat throughout the grilling process can help keep your chicken moist and emphasize the Italian flavor. When internal temperature has reached approximately 170 degrees F, remove chicken from grill and serve. Also remember to take out the damn toothpicks.

Serves 4.

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Recipe: Matt's Barbecue Sauce

Here's an easy does it recipe for a delicious basic barbecue sauce. While your average store bought barbecue sauce can do an adequate job, they are chock full of high fructose corn syrup which is largely responsible for our growing nation of butterball children. This recipe works great as both a marinade and a sauce.

• 2.5 Tbsp. Molasses
• 1/2 Cup Tomato ketchup
• 1 Tbsp. Butter
• 2 Tbsp. Brown sugar
• 1/3 Cup Finely chopped onion - Red or white
• 3 Cloves Finely chopped garlic
• 1 Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
• 1 Tbsp. Soy sauce
• 1 Tbsp. Spicey Mustard
• 1 Tbsp. Lime juice
• 2 tsp. Worcesteshire sauce
• 1 tsp. Ground cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp. Ground pepper
• 2 tsp. Salt (Sea salt preferred)
• 1 tsp. Oregano

Coat small frying pan in olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped onion and garlic and cook for two to three minutes, stirring occasionally. Add molasses. ketchup, butter, lime juice, vinegar and brown sugar to the skillet. Stir. and cover.

In a small measuring cup, mix cayenne pepper, ground pepper, salt and oregano. Add mustard, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and seasoning to frying pan. Stir in ingedients and cover over low heat. Let frying pan simmer for several minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes 6 oz. Serves 2-3.

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Recipe: Nat's Infamous Bacon Jalapeno Poppers

These spicy little badboys make for a great appetizer while you're indirectly cooking the main course. Its very important to use a drip tray when cooking these, otherwise the dripping bacon grease will turn your grill into a raging fireball.

• 8 Jalapenos
• One package of cream cheese
• One package of bacon
• Garlic salt (optional)
• Toothpicks


Cut the stems off your peppers and slice them in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds from the inside and rinse. The seeds are what make peppers hot, so if you're a practical joker you can leave some inside a few of the peppers and try to guess who ends up with them later on. Take a spoon and fill your pepper halfs level to the top with cream cheese. If you like, dust the tops with garlic salt. This can be a nice flavor touch, but these guys are so bad for you already you may want to skip this part.

Split down the middle

Seeds removed

Stuffed with cream cheese

For the short peppers, cut a strip of bacon in half. Wrap it around the pepper and secure in place with a toothpick at each end. For the longer peppers you may need to use a full piece of bacon. Try to cover the entire length of the open half of the pepper with bacon so that the cream cheese won't drip out when cooking.

Secure one end and wrap


If you have the foresight, soaking the toothpicks in water for half an hour prevent them from catching fire on the grill if you have a flare up. This is a nicety, not a necessity.

Put a foil drip tray next to or on top of your coals. Arrange the peppers over the drip tray and let them cook. Cooking times vary depending on how close to your coals you've placed these, but I generally let them cook for around 15 minutes, turning a few times over the course. It can be tough to tell when bacon is done on the grill so pull a few off to test.

Jalapeno poppers and turkey burgers

Makes 16 poppers. Serves 4-5.

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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 6 comments

Friday, June 01, 2007

BBQ Video: Memphis Pit Masters

Memphis pit masters Raymond Robinson (Cozy Corner Barbecue) and J. C. Hardaway (Big S Lounge) serve up their origin stories and talk meat -- from Boston butt to ribs to Cornish hens.


Posted by Nat Tarbox. 1 comments