Spring Has Sprung. Outdoor Cooking Starts Today!

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Welcome To The Backyard BBQ Chefs favorite time of year. Spring. Why Spring? Because Spring leads to Summer. Summer leads to Fall. And that means you and I have about 6-8 months of great outdoor cooking ahead of us.

In order to not waste a moment, of this precious cooking time, I’ve found I need a rough schedule – a plan if you – will to guide me through the many opportunities that lay on the BBQ horizon.

Take some time over the next few weeks or weekends to map out a rough draft of your biggest outdoor cooking events. Then stock the garage, Tuff Shed and frig with everything you’re gonna need for the wonderfully long cooking/grilling/smoking season ahead.

Is all this a bit much? Yeah, maybe. But here’s some ideas or excuses you can call upon when you absolutely must make a fire and cook some meat over it.

*** Opening Day of Baseball Season

The Masters

Easter

Mothers Day (we’ll use any excuse won’t we?)

Memorial Day

Flag Day (another excuse – but a darn good one, IMHO!)

Father’s Day

4th of July (This year July 4th falls on a Friday – that means a 3 day weekend of grilling and smoking. Pace yourself. This is hard work.)

Then we hit August and a bit of a dry spell with no major holidays until Labor Day. That means we need to get creative. Below are a few fringe holidays – but holidays that scream out for a Backyard BBQ party nonetheless.

Aug. 3rd. – Friendship Day – (This is what BBQ is all about, right?)

Aug. 7th – 10th PGA Championship Weekend

Aug. 10th – National S’mores Day (If you get the kids excited you’re home free for a Brisket before the S’mores.)

Aug. 14th. – VJ Day (Thank you Veterans! Without your heroism – none of this is possible.)

Aug. 15th – Relaxation Day (As in, “Relax Honey, I’ll throw on a few racks of ribs!”)

Aug. 25th – Kiss & Make Up Day. (It’s time to let go of your hurt from that time your spouse suggested the bottom of your WSM would make an excellent flower pot.)

Aug. 29th – More Herbs, Less Salt Day. (I see a new rub on the horizon. Don’t you?)

Aug 31st. – National Trail Mix Day. (The perfect snack to keep your energy levels up while you sit around and drink beer waiting for that pork butt to come up to 195*.)

Then there’s the start of Tailgating Season.

Labor Day Weekend.

NFL Kick-off Sunday

And the majesty that is Autumn. Colorful trees. The lawn stops growing. There’s a slight chill in the air that is the perfect time to fire up the grill. For heat purposes, of course.

And farther down the line – the ultimate food holiday – Thanksgiving.

Wow! I’m feeling a bit exhausted already. There’s a lot of cooking ahead. But, that’s what we live for. A fire, and a few racks of ribs on the smoker. Family and Friends around the picnic table. And the only real cuisine we can claim to be All-Amercian. Barbeque! And when you realize that firing up the grill or smoker is the most Patriotic thing you can do in a non-wartime era, we really don’t need an excuse at all. Do we?

Happy First Day of Spring, my friend!

** A pan of pulled pork I cooked up on my WSM March 19th, 2014. Tastes great!

*** Opening Day of Baseball Season is my “official” first day of Spring!

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Maggie’s Ultimate Cole Slaw

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My bride and I belong to the “Connections” group at our church. It’s a group of people between 35-65 (if you’re older, we won’t hold that against you.) who “Connect” once or twice a month for dinner, fellowship and fun.

At out last gathering someone brought a big bowl of Cole Slaw. Even though the main dish was Lasagne (you get very strange food combinations at potluck dinners) I had to have a taste or three.

Well, it was awesome. And I don’t throw that word around unless it’s true. After some inquires I discovered that Maggie had made the Cole Slaw. An intense interrogation ensued. And after much pleading and begging and a round of gushing compliments, Maggie caved in and gave me the recipe for this amazing Cole Slaw that I share with you now. So here it is,,,

Maggie’s Cole Slaw 

1.5 Bags of shredded cabbage (Or chop your own)

1 Bottle of Hidden Valley Cole Slaw Dressing (I know I couldn’t believe it either)

1 Granny Smith Apple – Very Finely Diced

1 Fuji Red Apple – Very Finely Diced

2 Bananas – Very Finely Diced

That’s it. Simple huh? Sometimes simple is very, very good.

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments section below. And if you like it share it.

Blessings All!

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Preparing For BBQ Season.

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I know. There are still several weeks and a few snow storms until spring. So does that mean we can’t start planning for BBQ season? I do around my house. Here’s a few simple things to think about and get you ready and excited for warm weather and the smell of wood smoke wafting through your backyard / neighborhood.

  1. Clean out the shed. Right now there are all kinds of things in my shed that don’t belong there. Patio cushions and a few other things my bride snuck in last October when I was recovering from a knee replacement. They’ll be getting evicted to their rightful place in the garage. The shed is for BBQ equipment and supplies. Oh – golf clubs are always welcome.
  2. If you haven’t cracked the lid on your grill or smoker since that first snowfall, time to do it. Go ahead and throw out that rusty, moldy aluminum pan from your last cooking session back in October. Dump the used coals and any wood chunks. No – don’t save any slightly burned pieces of wood. Spring means new and we’re not going to use any “old” wood or charcoals.
  3. Look for late winter / early spring deals on charcoal. Some of the big box stores have killers discounts if you keep on top of it. Check local circulars or go to their websites and see what they have on sale.
  4. Clean out the spice/rub rack. Yes, you know what I mean. The stuff that you got for Christmas — 2011 — that’s still in your spice rack. Even if they’re unopened, toss ’em! This year you’re buying new spices and rubs. Or better yet, make you own rubs. And grow your own herbs. It’s easy and there a lot of rub recipes online.
  5. Buy 2 really good knives. That doesn’t mean expensive. Sam’s Club has kitchen knives that are every bit as good as what you’d find at Williams-Sonoma and only 1/10th the price.
  6. Pull everything out of your shed and sweep out all the dust and dead critters that didn’t make it thru winter. Then put everything back in a neat orderly fashion. Failure to put things back in an orderly fashion will result in a big hairy “the stink eye” next time I see you. And I WILL see you.
  7. If you can afford it, invest in a small frig. When I go shopping for BBQ meat, I can never get more than one rack of ribs in my frig without running out of room. Check local restaurant supply stores for deals on used equipment or find out where your local restaurant auction house is located. Restaurants are always going out of business and auctioning off kitchen equipment to cover back taxes. Good deals can be had if you act quickly.
  8. Buy a really good BBQ brush and some earth friendly grill cleaners and tackle the chore of cleaning your grill and smoker on the next warm day. For best results cleaning a neglected grill grate – take it to the local do-it-yourself car wash. One with those high pressure wands. They do a surprisingly good job.
  9. Buy a good BBQ cook book and/or enroll in a BBQ cooking class. For books, I recommend anything by Ray Lampe. Aka Dr. BBQ or (if you’re a bit more skilled) Adam Perry Lang. If you contact your states BBQ Association, they can turn you onto a good cooking class. Caution – some of these can be very expensive. Know what your getting for your money and who’s getting the money
  10. And finally – refill or buy a fire extinguisher. Then learn exactly how to use it. Keep it by your grill/smoker. Fire Extinguishers don’t cost that much and heaven forbid something or someone caught on fire. Be prepared! You’ll be glad you did.

That’s it for now my BBQ Buddies. I’ll talk to you again soon. If I can answer any question that didn’t get covered here, feel free to shoot me an email. frank@bbqchefs.us. Party on Wayne!

Feel free to leave a comment. Share this with your BBQ Buddies using the share buttons below and sign-up to receive BBQ Chef blog posts and podcasts via email. It’s so much easier that way. And click on the twitter, top right column, button so you and I can stay connected.

GB2

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Aaron Franklin – Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas is arguably the most famous barbecue man in America. He’s been featured on the Food Network. The Travel Channel and many other national TV shows.

Along with BBQ World Champions Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone, he is one of three judges on the popular “BBQ Pitmasters” series on Discovery Channel’s Destination America.

But Aaron doesn’t compete on the BBQ Circuit. Doesn’t have trophies and plaques lining the walls of his restaurant. And if all his fame disappeared tomorrow, you get the feeling he wouldn’t really care. No, for Aaron Franklin it’s not about the fame. It’s about the BBQ!

You see, Aaron’s BBQ is so popular and in such high demand – that customers begin lining up outside his place at 7am in the morning. He opens at 10 and is “Sold Out” by around 2.

Franklin Barbecue prepares and sells about 1500 pounds of brisket, ribs, sausage and turkey — everyday single day!  And that’s all the motivation Aaron needs to keep doing what he does best – and so much better than most – cook and serve some of the best BBQ on the planet. Listen to his story on this podcast.

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Man up Texas BBQ w/ Drew Thornley

Check out Drew’s Blog. Join the “Q” Club or make plans to Get Sauced! – www.manuptexasbbq.com

Share this podcast with your BBQ friends. Just copy and send the web page link – www.bbqchefs.us – or use one of the Social Media buttons below. Have fun!

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The Uncommon Bond Of Barbeque

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Barbecue is an amazing cuisine. But even more amazing is the culture that has grown around a fire pit and large portion of meat roasting slowly over burning embers. Barbeque bridges the gap between generations. Unites strangers. Brings neighbors and neighborhoods together. And builds an uncommon bond among friends, families and complete strangers that is not soon broken.

And it doesn’t matter what kind of Barbeque you like. Wet. Dry. Texas. Kansas City. Memphis. North Carolina. New York. What? New York? Yes. There are some fabulous Barbeque joints in NYC. You can meet a total stranger and once the commonality you share about Barbeque is uncovered, you also uncover an instant friendship. One with the prospect of lasting years. Or at least until all the food is gone.

Do you know of any other “thing” on earth that creates as much joy and camaraderie as Barbeque? Sports? No. Politics? You’re kidding right? The only “thing” that may approach Barbeque’s strange bond is pregnancy. But that excludes 50% of the worlds population. No, Barbeque alone is unique.

Our favorite Barbeque foods may differ. Some sauce, some don’t. Some prefer Baby Backs, others Spares. In Texas, Brisket is the Holy Grail. In the Carolina’s, Pork is the lone star of any Barbeque Feast. Pork Shoulder, Whole Hog, it matters not. Just don’t bring some thick tomatoey sauce to the party. In the South it’s a vinegar-based sauce that starts the fireworks. In KC, a rich, thick, smokey tomato-based sauce is slathered on during and definitely after the Q is pulled from the pit. Yet, cross the mighty Mississippi into Tennessee, and Memphis eschews any sauce at all. Memphis BBQ joints will bring you sauce on the side if you ask. But then you’ll see a group of waiters and other guests pointing at you and laughing.

And though you’ll find different tastes, cooking styles, and various rituals everywhere – all that melts away once you and I and whoever cares to join us set down at a table adorned with smokey, tender, succulent, oh yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about Barbeque. It may be a mid-summer picnic. A family gathering after Church, or just a father teaching his young son how to build a proper fire that will burn for hours. It really doesn’t matter what, when, how or why. What matters is the Barbeque. And the smiles that spread like wood smoke carried on a breeze.

Then there’s the world-wide culture of Barbeque competitions. On any given weekend – somewhere in the US of A, (if not the planet) BBQ Competition teams are forgoing sleep as they cook through the night. Then they offer up their heart, soul and serious BBQ to a team of “Judges” get to eat some of the finest Barbeque in the world and declare the best of the bunch. It’s Barbeque worthy of ribbons, trophies, cash and most importantly undisputed bragging rights to being King of Q on that particular day. BBQ Chefs and/or Teams travel each weekend to a new city to test their skills and sell their delicious wares. And flocks of BBQ lovers flock to the events. Young, old. Rich, poor. Skinny, unskinny. We’re all there. And all are welcome.

You tell me. Is there anything better? Not in my world. Not today. Today, it’s just me and you and Barbeque. And that’s the way it should be. And that’s the way it is.

Until next time – pleasant dreams!

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Waiting Out Winter. The Plight of the BBQ Enthusiast.

Feb. 20, 2013.

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All the leaves are gone and the sky is gray. Snow is on the way and temps hover near 25*F.

Staring out my back window I see my Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker (WSM), and Weber Performer bracing for the 4″, or more, of snow we’re due tonight. They look so sad. Spring and summer can not come quickly enough for them. They don’t like sitting around. They were made for a purpose. They were made to hold a live fire. To deliver slow-cooked meat to it’s owner. To delight many and to do the work they were created for.

In my refrigerator, 3 slabs of Baby Back Ribs lay dormant. Their incredible flavor locked inside a cryo-vac bag, longing to be released to their purpose. Waiting to be dressed with an elegant coating of spices. Cooked with uncommon care. And ultimately, delivering a dining experience to its consumer (that would be me) in a way not even the finest bowl of soup could ever hope to match. Soon. Soon my friends those refrigerated ribs will be transformed int0 glorious, fresh from the pit Barbeque.

Here in Boulder Colorado, 5430 feet above sea level, winter skies intimidate casual cooks with snow and bone chilling temperatures. But, fear not fellow Backyard BBQ Chefs. For unlike them, I (we) do not sit quietly. It’s “Q”, we must do!

Okay, enough of that smaltzy stuff – who’s up for some real Winter Q?

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Most people in the frozen northern states who visit this site are like me. There’s nothing prettier than a snow storm falling on a 225-250 degree hunk of metal housing the Holy GrailBBQ Ribs. Or brisket. Chicken. Pork Butt. It doesn’t matter as long as we can live our purpose of making BBQ for friends and family – and the friendly neighbors who can’t help but look over the fence once they see smoke rising and the aroma of real BBQ hits their noses.

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I love Winter Q! Somehow, it tastes better. Looks better.  And eats better! While meeker men and woman are content to patronize their local BBQ Restaurant (which I highly encourage), I venture forth with tongs in one hand – thermapen in the other. “Just try and stop me!” I scream skyward in a voice reminiscent of Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump.

Winter Q is easy as summer Q – it just talks a little extra prep and determination. You should expect to add some extra fuel to start and a bit more down the line. It means putting your ribs in the cooker a little earlier than you would during June or July in order to have a BBQ dinner ready to eat at 6pm. It’s a labor of love that never ends. A mission, if you will, that not only satisfies the palette, but warms and lifts the soul nearly as well as a Sunday morning sermon.

We real BBQ people cook in any weather. We talk BBQ 24/7 – 365 to anyone who will listen. On dark winter nights when the sun sets too early, we scour BBQ books and blogs looking for the spark of an idea that might get us a call to the stage at a competition, or a standing ovation at the picnic table come summertime.

We BBQ people love Winter Q. It gives us an opportunity to fine tune the rubs we fine tuned last year. To tweak that sauce recipe that will add a new depth of flavor to our foodie foundation of meat, smoke and spices as we build our house of WOW!

To just do what we who have the BBQ gene must do. To BBQ. For that is our purpose. Our calling. Our ministry!

God creates the seasons. We create the seasonings. It’s a match made in… Dare I say – BBQ Heaven. Happy Winter Q’ing!  – And Eating!

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