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.

Innovation

Poppers

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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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 3 comments

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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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 1 comments

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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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 0 comments

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 amazingribs.com 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.

Rubs!

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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 0 comments

Friday, June 22, 2007

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 amazingribs.com, 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 amazingribs.com 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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Posted by Nat Tarbox. 0 comments

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day Session #1

As we headed into a glorious Memorial Day weekend Nat and I decided this was a prime opportunity to really get our grilling back on track. Waking up early Saturday morning, I though steaks would be a great place to start as we hadn't really done steaks to their fullest in some time. Well, it turned out that Nat had some steaks that had been marinading since 1987... This was a good sign of things to come.

We headed to the SUPER Stop & Shop around noon to gather further equipment. Bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers were the logical opening act as they cook fairly quickly and the spicy flavor fits nicely with a summer style cookout. For sides we went with chopped BBQ vegetables and boiled corn on the cobb. During our trek Nat stumbled across some glorious hickory wood chips, a prize we had been searching for in previous grilling sessions. Finally, we capped it off with a rack of fresh pork ribs which would take the hickory smoke perfectly.

Upon our return, first step was to prep all the food. With the steak marinading in the fridge, Nat mixed together a spicy rub for the pork ribs made with paprika, ground peppercorn, cayenne red pepper, sea salt and Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning blend. We chopped onion, potato, red pepper and green pepper into 1.5 inch pieces which we slathered in Jack Daniels original BBQ sauce and wrapped shut with tin foil. Lastly, we took the hickory woodchips and soaked them in water until it was time to start the insanity.

Matt tends the coals

We started the coals with about a gallon and a half of lighter fluid because A) I left the bag of charcoal outside for a week so the coals were damp from a rainstorm and B) someone in charge of my apartment building threw out my coal chimney stack because they couldn't identify the rusted mass for what it was. Once the fire finally started going we added the soaked hickory chips and placed an aluminum tray of Sierra Nevada ale next to the coals to flavor the food above.

The spread

We decided to slow cook the ribs so we could maximize the sun and get as much smokey flavor as possible. The bag of BBQ vegetables was placed on direct heat so we could get as much indirect surface area as possible for the jalapenos and the steak. Once everything was in place we covered the grill and me, Nat and my brother Kevin proceeded to make good use of Nat's new frisbee.

Success

The results of our grilling session were better than we could have ever anticipated. The jalapeno poppers were incredibly spicy, as Nat said he left the seeds in the jalapeno slices. We took Nat's marinaded steak off the grill at the absolute perfect moment and the BBQ vegetables were chock full o' flavor. After devouring the main event, we force-fed ourselves the slow cooked ribs and corn on the cobb. It's easy to forget the impact that wood chips can have on a meal and this grilling session was a helpful reminder. The bar has definitely been raised.

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Posted by Matt. 1 comments

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wildcard Weekend

Heading into NFL wildcard weekend we were required by law to break out the trusty Weber 18.5 and get our grill on. As luck would have it, my legendary grandma, who perfected the art of clogging my arteries when I was in college, sent me a large care package from Omaha Steaks. It being a saturday and having no real responsibilities, Nat and I decided to devote the bulk of the afternoon to perfecting our feast.

After some careful deliberation prior to gameday, Nat and I agreed that we needed to incorporate smoking back into our routine. The last time we had successfully tracked down wood chips for smoking was August, during prime time grilling season. Since then our pitiful search attempts have yielded nothing. But today we made wood chips our holy grail.

The morning of gameday we drew up our battle plan and took an inventory. Nat would secure ribs, jalepenos to make our classic bacon wrapped poppers, and charcoal. After speaking with some woman at the Watertown Target who spoke Spanglish, I was informed that they did sell woodchips. My mission was to get the woodchips, disposable plates and deliver the care package of Sirloin.

As the day unraveled with were met with numerous unforseen challenges. Upon my arrival at Target I immediately noticed that there was not a single mesquite chip to be found. While securing the plates, Nat called me from the field to report that Star Market was completely out of charcoal and jalapenos. I grabbed some charcoal and headed to his house to do some damage control and begin preparations for the grilling.

When I arrived we discussed the wood chip predicament. We had an abundance of time before we had to being the actual slow cooking process for the ribs so Nat suggested we try another store. Home Depot informed him that they had mesquite chips for sale at reasonable prices. Admittedly, I was reluctant to make the trek. Every Masshole with a drivers license was on the road on this day and going to Home Depot involved driving through Brighton. Driving through Brighton on Saturday afternoon is the equivalent of driving my '96 Nissan through the Korean DMZ. Nat would hear none of it. We made the trek and secured the woodchips in record time.

With all equipment secured (with the exception of the Jalapenos) we proceeded to slow cook the ribs. With the slow cook process we could not utilize the Match Lite charcoal that had become a comfortable crutch for our deep freeze grilling. The temperature for the afternoon was hovering around 27 degrees which made the slow cook process particularly challenging. We cooked the ribs with indirect heat for approximately two and a half hours replacing coals periodically. We applied a handful of the soaked mesquite chips directly to the coals about every 45 minutes for sustained smoke saturation. Once the ribs were complete, we cooked the sirloin steaks over direct heat keeping a very close eye not to char the outside. Cassie was placed in charge of putting the stuffed bake potatoes in the oven.

The last of the steaks were being pulled from the fire as the first guests were arriving. The ribs were incredible and the smoking definitely paid off. The highlight of the feast, to our surprise, were the stuffed baked potatoes from Omaha. Our 8 man tag team finished off every last bit of food we had prepared and the Patriots delivered an incredible thrashing to the Jaguars.

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Posted by Matt Collins. 2 comments