Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I Make Barbecued Chicken Breasts

Our recipe for our chicken entry in competitions uses thighs.  But when it comes to serving the general public, I like to smoke bone in, skin on chicken breasts because most people like white meat. 


Breasts are what we used for the office party that we catered last week.   The potential downside to breasts are that white meat tends to be bland and can dry out easily.  We use a brine to add flavor and moisture.  To boost the flavor of the chicken, we paint layer after layer of seasonings from the start to finish.       

Monday, October 28, 2013

NMT Barbecue Rub

I came up with this barbecue rub earlier this summer and it has become my standard rub.  I've used it in several recipes and find myself referring to it more often so I'm giving it a stand alone post.


When I first make it, I will store it as is with it's coarse texture.  I will use it like this for seasoning the exterior of my butts and first coat for ribs.  In those cases I like the texture and it's on the meat long enough to rehydrate and soften the dried onions, garlic, and herbs. 

But for seasoning chicken, pork chops, tenderloins, etc I like to run it through a coffee grinder (dedicated only to spices) to get it in a fine texture.  It goes on more evenly and it actually tastes different.

NMT Barbecue Rub
Makes 1 1/2 cups

8 Tbsp smoked paprika
4 Tbsp dark brown sugar
4 Tbsp turbinado sugar
4 Tbsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp Tone's Garlic Pepper Seasoning
2 tsp dried herbs (usually oregano and thyme)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp chipotle chile powder

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.  Grind for fine texture right before using.


Adam Perry Lang - Craftmanship Tour
I've posted about this a few times this year.  Chef and Pitmaster Adam Perry Lang has been traveling across the country sourcing handmade items for his ultimate tailgate.  In this installment, Lang visits the hills of the Tullhoma, TN area.  That's where I recently went to get The Warthog, beautiful country.  Lang was here to learn hands on about the craftsmanship behind every batch of George Dickel Whiskey.


Also, in case you didn't know, Lang's book, Serious Barbecue: Smoke, Char, Baste and Brush Your Way to Great Outdoor Cooking. , is back in print once again and available.  You can ask just about any BBQ aficionado and they will tell you this particular book is a BBQ classic.    It's in my personal top three, along with Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible and Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book: Recipes and Secrets from a Legendary Barbecue Joint .

Hmmm that has got me thinking.  I'm going to make Lang's Tri-Tip with Honey-Garlic Glaze from that book this week.

Anyhoo - check out the video and if you want a copy of Serious Barbecue, pick it up now.  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Competition Pit - Part II

It is Christmas morning.  You wake up and fly down the stairs in a blur and find that Santa brought that exact present you wanted.  The only problem is that you can't play with it, you can only watch your family and friends play with it.

That's pretty much happened with our competition pit.  The same week I got the pit, I also got a hernia (surgery next week) so I have had to use it vicariously, watching Alexis and our older son use it.  Technically, I can't even open the door due to lifting restrictions.  But we've still put the pit through some trial runs. 


The custom made pit is not nameless anymore - I have given it the nickname "The Warthog".  The large twin smoke stacks at the rear, sloped facing, and unusual shape/design reminded of the A-10 Thunderbolt, aka the Warthog.  While the A-10 may be funny looking, any ground troops needing close air support will tell you it's functionally beautiful.  That's my pit - a bit odd looking but functionally beautiful.  So "The Warthog" it is.  

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tailgating Checklist

Tailgating can be a lot of work but it is worth it.

Trevor helped feed the crowd, here he is loading the Pit Barrel Cooker with two racks of fajita wings and ABT's.

Our older son and his roommates were hosting a tailgate for the Tennessee Vols vs Georgia Bulldogs game and asked us if we wanted to cook.  Not gonna pass on that opportunity!  The tailgate friendly menu that we put together was Tex-Mex

Tex-Mex Rice

None of the dishes are really new so I'll post about the experience instead, since it was a lot of fun and I learned a few things in the process.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Appetizer: BBQ Beef Brisket Potstickers

When you barbecue as much as I do, you end up with some wonderful problems, such as having extra BBQ brisket or smoked pork hanging out in your fridge. This was the case when my wife and I were trying to come up with an appetizer for a friend's birthday back in April. 

We came across some potsticker wrappers at the store. I had just smoked a spicy beef brisket the night before. Boom – inspiration hit. It was one of those “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” kind of moments. We came up with an idea for BBQ beef brisket potstickers. I'm not sure what you would call this. Redneck fusion? Hillbilly haute cuisine?


I had never formed potstickers before so I consulted the same person who taught me how to prep eggrolls – Jaden Hair. The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook has a step by step process for fancier looking gyoza and Healthy Asian Cooking has the same for a simpler version. I used the fancy version.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Tailgate Heroes: Petros Chili and Chips

This really isn't a recipe post, just an idea for a kick butt tailgating dish - Petro's.


What's a Petro, you ask?  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Competition Rig

I'm pretty dang excited.  I finally got my competition trailer!


Isn't it an adorable little beast? We have to think of a good name for it but that will take some time.  It needs to be an earned moniker. 

I'm excited because this means we can
  1. Compete on our own some next year and with some friends
  2. Cater events for work, friends, and family
  3. Do onsite cooks in support of Operation Barbecue Relief as needed
  4. Tailgate at the next level

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fajita Chicken Wings with Chipotle Lime Cream Sauce

I'm not sure what took me so long to try this one, because the idea totally makes sense - fajita chicken wings.

Technically these are "fajita style" chicken wings since fajitas are specifically beef.  But I'm making these for a Tex-Mex themed tailgate so the people that will be eating them won't be nit-picking over a name. 

Trevor loved the wings by themselves but Alexis and I both thought that the cream sauce just put them over the top.  The earthy flavors of cumin and cilantro blend with the bright flavors of corriander and lime for a delicious Tex-Mex wing.  As written, these are mildly spicy.  If you want hotter, add more pepper flake and some hot sauce to the marinade.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Quick Hits: Arby's new Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich

I was driving home from work and saw a sign saying Arby's had a Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich and pulled in to give it a shot.  

I was skeptical.  A lot of fast food places have done BBQ themes this year, slapping some mediocre crock pot style BBQ pork on a burger.  There's also the infamous McRib.  But attempting to do brisket in a fast food setting takes some big kahones.  If anyone could pull it off, it would probably be Arby's since they make that freakishly delicious roast beef sandwich.  

Photo Credit:  Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich photo from Arby's website

The sandwich is priced at $4.99 and rings in at $7.49 for a combo.   It's a pretty tall sandwich of a slightly crispy bun, layers of brisket smoked for 13 hours, smoked gouda cheese, fried onions, BBQ sauce and mayo.  


The brisket was shaved thin and it had an obvious cure/smoke ring on the edges.  The brisket looked a little odd but maybe that's because I'm not used to seeing shaved razor thin like that. 


Grading this on a fast food curve, I'd give this a solid b or b+.  Trevor had one and agreed.  There was a strong enough smoke flavor from the meat, cheese, and bbq sauce.  If you're not a big fan of liquid smoke in your BBQ sauce, you might want to ask for Arby's sauce instead of the BBQ sauce.  I don't mind it if not too overpowering.  The meat was tender and the onions crispy, giving a nice overall texture.  It was good enough that I had another one for lunch today.

Hey look, fellow BBQ Brethren, Neil "Big Mista" Strawder is on their commercial!  


This isn't going to compete against a brisket sandwich from your local BBQ joint.  But as far as fast food BBQ themed items go, I think this is the best of the BBQ bunch and it's a good sandwich.   

That being said, I'd rather have a couple of the Arby's Classic with some Arby's Sauce and/or Horsey Sauce.   It's hard to beat the original.  

[Standard Disclaimer]  No compensation was received for this post.