The Amazing World of Ribs

The weekend is almost here, summer is fading into fall, and it’s the perfect time of year to fire up the grill.  Next time you cook out, you might should consider taking a break from burgers and hot dogs.  You might should want to cook some barbecue.  But you might don’t have a grill large enough for a whole hog or even a pork shoulder.  Plus, slow-cooking those big ol’ cuts o’ pig is more time consuming than most people can handle.  Ribs make for a nice change of pace for North Carolina barbecue addicts, but I’m guessing you might could use some guidance on which cut of ribs to buy.

The best website I’ve seen on exploring the wonderful world of ribs is without a doubt AmazingRibs.com.  Check the site out when you get a chance.  Until then, read the recent Huffington Post article by AmazingRibs.com creator Meathead Goldwyn.  “Unfuddling the Many Different Cuts of Ribs” is an illustrated guide to understanding and selecting the right ribs for your next cook out.  Happy ribbing…

Ash(hole) Wednesday

Raleigh-based sculptor Joel Haas sent me a note describing one of his recent projects.  Here’s what he had to say about his folk art pig cooker:

The pig cooker naked

Porky,

Attached are several photos of a new, larger pig shaped pig cooker I recently made and shipped to a BBQ fanatic in Alabama.  The tail opens to make a smokestack; there is a steel “thought balloon” painted in chalkboard paint on which a cook can write messages or “pig thoughts”; used charcoal and wood is cleaned out of the “ashhole.”   The inside grill racks can be set at a steep angle over the coals allowing one to place slower cooking meat high up on the rack and faster cooking items lower of the racks where they are just over the coals. There are a number of hooks for hanging implements on the push handle; the grill opens using a handle made of forks and spoons.  One of the photos shows the grill at the powder coat painter’s with the side open and tail open (see inset); the black heat resistant paint is good to 1200 degrees F; there is a small hole to set a thermometer in near the tail.    

Note that the pig has my trademark lavender eyelashes and toenails in its final painted form (see photo below). Yes, the outer paint will scorch some around the grill door and along the bottom and maybe even along the top, though I doubt that area will scorch much; the head is merely decorative.  There is a black steel loop above the ashhole to put a chain through so the pig won’t “wander off.”  

As usual, there are NO provisions for the unrighteous and heretical practice of gas grilling.

The pig cooker with its paints on

Swine & Wine

I’ve had a lot of different drinks with barbecue over the years: beer, water, lemonade, Cheerwine, Pepsi and yes, of course, ice tea, to name a few.  But I’d never thought seriously about pairing wine and barbecue.  Somehow it just didn’t seem right: humble barbecue and that snooty vino stuff.  As far as I was concerned wine belonged with barbecue about as much as lobster belonged on a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.  But a recent experience made me think again.

A wine distributor contacted me and offered to send me a couple bottles of Argentinian wine if I was willing to have some friends over to sample it alongside barbecue.  (Generous offer, not-so-subtle attempt at free advertising, bribe?  You decide).  I was going to say no thanks but curiousity and the willingess to do anything for a free bottle of alcohol swayed me.  Plus, it occurred to me that the people of Argentina are notorious meat eaters and undoubtedly pair wine with their carnivore diet all the time.

The wine I received was a 2008 bottle of Broquel Malbec from Trapiche, which is Argentina’s largest premium wine exporter.  (See this link for some interesting background on Malbec.)  Because Broquel Malbec has a rich, complex flavor Trapiche recommends pairing it with flavorful foods like “stew made of game, lamb, or wild boar.”  Given the surprising lack of availability of wild boar at my local grocer (when is boar season ’round here anyway?), and my distaste for stew in 100 degree August weather, I figured barbecue would be a good substitute.

I invited some friends over for NC-style barbecue pork butt and Texas-style beef brisket.  I told my friends not to bother to bring drinks, since wine was on the menu.  My wine loving friends didn’t flinch but the alert barbecue lovers voiced some concern.  Luckily, free booze and ‘cue is hard to resist. 

The results were great. I can vouch that the complex fruit flavors of the Broquel Malbec paired well with the smoky, rich meaty flavors of the barbecue.  Perhaps because the beef brisket had a stronger flavor, the wine worked particularly well with it.  Still, even the relatively subtle flavors of the pork were not overwhelmed by the Broquel Malbec.  Live, drink and learn.  I’m not giving up ice tea as my preferred BBQ drink but I’ll catch myself next time my eyes roll at the mention of wine and barbecue!

Memorial Day Barbecue Rub

It’s Memorial Day again, the official start of grilling and barbecuing season.  (If you don’t know the difference between these two things then you should be ashamed and should do some remedial reading.)  Last year we posted simple directions for barbecue that anyone with a basic charcoal grill and some time can follow.  The directions work on a gas grill too, but you wouldn’t want to hurt our feelings, would you?

In honor of Memorial Day 2010, we suggest you heat up your cooker and make some barbecue.  Below is a rub you can use to prepare a Boston Butt per the directions linked above.  The recipe works pretty well as the rub for dry ribs too.  Oh, and keep in mind that traditional NC barbecue really doesn’t need anything other than salt as a rub, but since it’s a holiday weekend and you have plenty of time you may as well go the extra mile.

  • 1.5 Tablespoon sweet (i.e., not hot) paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 Teaspoon cumin
  •  Teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 0.5 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 0.5 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Last but not least, 2 Teaspoons kosher salt (this is BBQJew.com, after all)

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl or with a mortar and pestle (though if you do the latter, don’t tell your friends as they may laugh at you).  Generously apply the rub to the raw pork up to 24 hours before cooking, or if you aren’t much for planning ahead then just put the rub on the meat as you’re heating up your cooker.  This recipe makes plenty of rub for a 5+ pound Boston Butt, and the unused rub should keep for many months if you keep it in an airtight container.  Enjoy and have a happy and safe holiday.

Curle’s Cue

Walking into a complete stranger’s backyard and enjoying fine home-smoked pork is a tough assignment, but somebody has to do it. And we are those somebodies.

James Curle, savvy man that he is, regularly reads this here blog and thought he’d throw an invite our way to his sixth annual Curlefest. Porky and I, devoted bloggers, barbecue hounds and suckers for a free meal, were happy to oblige.

James Curle with his beloved

With the spell of the swine the only icebreaker we’d need, we were soon swapping tales and inspecting Curle’s ingenious temporary smoker that he adapted from the inimitable Holy Smoke. The best feature was the split top that slid apart to allow hog checking without losing too much heat.

And about that hog: Curle got a half hog from the Nahunta outlet at the Raleigh Farmer’s Market. After ten hours of smoking with good ol’ Kingston and a little kosher (l’chaim!) salt, the pork was ready. And was it ever.

Curle chopped and seasoned some swine, but graciously left a good amount on the smoker for picking. True to my name, I nabbed a rib or two and was not sorry I did.

Before the ‘cue, the event also included a diversionary cornhole tournament. The game Stephen Colbert called a “cross between horseshoes and sodomy” likely began as an attempt to distract attendees from the amazing, smokey aromas emanating from the pit (man I wish you could link to a smell). There was no distracting this rabbi of ribs.

By the time we left–greasy fingered–we weren’t exiting a stranger’s yard, but a newfound barbecue buddy’s. The pickin’ was a real example of ‘cue-aided community-building, as the event brought together neighbors, friends, congregants, co-workers, and, well, bloggers.

A final note: Curle wanted us to note that his dog is named Jerry, an allusion to jheri curls. Consider it done, James! And thanks very much for the hog and hospitality.

End of April Fool’s Day: Spiced Barbecue Cookies

As loyal readers are aware, we at BBQJew.com (become a fan on Facebook!) have done our fair share of shameless self-promotion (BBQ Jew bumper stickers or aprons, anyone?).  Thus, we know a good attempt at self-promotion when we see one.  And a recent attempt was pretty good. On April Fool’s Day we received an email from Page Skelton, President of NC-based hot sauce company Cackalacky, Inc

Page’s message featured the subject line “Barbecue Cookies?” and read: “Me say yes, BBQ Jew!… Celebrating April 1st – the first day of Cackalacky Cookout Season – with our colossal Spiced Barbecue Cookies!  Nom, nom, nom…”  Attached to his message was the below picture.  Well played, sir, but next year give me a little more advance notice if you want free publicity on the real April Fool’s Day instead of on April 30th!  For what it’s worth, I really do enjoy Cackalacky sauce, though I have to admit that I have yet to try it on barbecue.

Hey, Page, shouldn’t I get paid for this product placement? At least give me a free bottle of sauce!

 

Porky’s Pulpit: Fighting Words

Ladies and gentleman, we have work to do.  How can we sleep at night when people are going around claiming this joke of a recipe is “North Carolina Style” barbecue sauce?  North Carolina has plenty of style and she wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this sauce.  The recipe, which author Jill says makes her “wanna learn to rope a calf” (good, because it ain’t fit for pork), is as follows:

2 each 32-ounce cans Italian plum tomatoes, chopped with juices
½ cup unsulfured molasses
½ cup honey
¼ cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups water
1 1/3 cups cider vinegar (or to taste)
Salt, to taste

Italian plum tomatoes?  Bay leaves?  Garlic?  What in the name of Bob Garner is this nonsense?  Is this the Chef Boyardee recipe for NC-style barbecue sauce?  Did Jill get hit on the head with a pork shoulder?  She obviously doesn’t know NC-style barbecue sauce from a jar of Ragu.  It’s time we North Carolinian defenders of the divine swine rise up and protect our beloved state’s good name from the attacks of Jill and her ilk.  In other words, this aggression will not stand, man.

Porky’s Pulpit: “bbq pulled shreds” rant

I recently lived my nightmare.  I ate–“consumed” is a more appropriately clinical term given I did it only in the name of research–most of a package of “Certified Vegan” tofucue.  (You can pronounce that last word however you see fit.)  I will return to the scene of the crime soon to give you a full report on how this vile product tasted (preview: vile), but today’s post focuses on the packaging.

The Front of the Box
Where to begin?  Perhaps the name itself–“bbq pulled shreds.”  Shreds of what? Pulled what? And don’t think the small print “meat-free” above the word “bbq” gives me any comfort.  Plus, aren’t the words “pulled” and “shreds” redundant?

Was the budget too small to afford paying for capital letters on the packaging?  must every word be written in lower case like a jr high text msg? omg luv u tofu, lol!

Why do the words “contains no poultry” appear at the bottom of the picture?  You’ve already flaunted that you’re meat-free.  Is this small print poultry-free message supposed to make me happy?  Or is it an apology?  If so, why apologize simply that you’re poultry-free?  You look like you’re pretending Continue reading

Porco Pizza: “Wise person who if dealt with a stuffed pig”

Do any of you BBQ Jew readers speak Portuguese?  If so, your help is needed in figuring out what the heck is going on in this video about a Portuguese pig pizza.  According to the website Boing Boing (surely a reliable source judging from the name), the video “documents the creation of the revolting Porco Pizza, a pizza whose crust is an entire, flattened suckling pig.” (Thanks to reader/BBQ buddy Eric “Raw Food Hog” Calhoun for the story idea.)

Unfortunately, I speak no Portuguese and I have no time to learn given my busy barbecue eating schedule.  Luckily, I discovered an article on the porco pizza to help explain things.  Unfortunately, like the video the article is also in Portuguese.  Luckily, I was able to find a free web-based translation service.  Unfortunately, the translation is a wee bit confusing, as this abridged transcript reveals: 

“Today the Oba presents an unusual plate at least. This Saturday I was invited for a confraternização of a group of friends intitled “the Eaters,” heading given in function of all the fridays to go in a different restaurant… The offered cardápio was the “Paraguayan Pig” or “Pig Pizza “, as some had called. Wise person who if dealt with a stuffed pig, but did not imagine the content of the filling….  Arriving at the mansion, I was to know the process of the preparation. In the reality, it was a boned and open wild boar, that rested in the grate with a golden one to full the eyes… 

1 – The pig (or in the case wild boar) boned is tempered with left pickling brine and on of paper aluminum, with the leather for top, until dourar.
2 – Then it is turned for another grate, of this time with the leather for low e without aluminum.
3 – The grate is returned to the fire.
4 – The wild boar is covered by one mixture of cheese, ham, tomatoe, maize, peas, olives, palmito, onion and orégano… Then it is served, abundantly served (he is enough to see my plate).

…Difficult to explain the delight that was. The meat baked in the accurate point… Detail that beyond the wild boar, still had a rib made in soil fire, melting of so soft….”
 
Here’s my summary: Dude went out to eat with some other dudes.  Dudes who knew dude’s dudes made some crazy pig pizza dish for all the dudes.  Dude thought pig pizza tasted pretty dang good.  Dude ate his fill of pig pizza.  Dude wants to share his love for pig pizza with the world, but not many dudes in the world speak Portuguese. 

Porco Pizza!

Make Slaw Not War

I recently attended a potluck that had barbecue as the main course (not really a pig pickin’, nor did it claim to be,

Classic mustard & mayo slaw for those down east

Classic mustard & mayo slaw for those down east

so I’m refraining from using that sacred term).  I decided to bring coleslaw to this event because :

1) Slaw goes with ‘cue like french fries with a burger or chocolate with bacon (pretty well, actually, as I found out at the potluck).

 2) It’d been a long time since I last made slaw.

3) The pre-packaged slaw sold at grocery stores is often truly vile stuff.

4) I’d been looking for an excuse to try out some slaw recipes from Holy Smoke

Oh yeah, and, 5) I am cheap and so is slaw (especially when vinegar and mayo are treated as staple foods and always kept on hand).  A quick trip to the grocery store to buy two heads of cabbage and I was ready to make slaw.  Continue reading