Monday, June 27, 2011

Sinbad: Call it "Mixed Race" Sauce!

"You have to call it Mixed Race sauce, or Diversity sauce..."

"But you can't call it White sauce in southern Mississippi!"

"So I got some ribs... and I'm putting tarter sauce on the ribs?"

This is from Sinbad's improv video on YouTube (I know, old school) which is pretty hilarious. I looked it up because I searched for "white bbq sauce."

No, that's not ranch dressing or tartar sauce... it's white BBQ sauce!

I was watching Food network or Travel channel, and white BBQ sauce came up on television. I have to be honest with you, it's not the prettiest sight looking at white BBQ sauce slathered all over the place on meat on a 55" crystal clear LED HDTV. But there it was, in all its glory. I've heard about white BBQ sauce before, and it's been around for a while in Alabama, but there's a reason why you don't see or hear about it all too often.

They were profiling the white BBQ sauce from Big Bob Gibson. You can find the recipe online. It's mayo-based... using a LOT of mayo, and I'm not the biggest fan of mayo. The only mayo-based sauce I'll be slathering is tartar sauce on some fried fish. But if you love mayo like Paula Deen, you'll be fan.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Would You Really Smoke Spinach Salad?

With a blog named "Dirty Smoke," it got me thinking about the method of smoking foods. Not everyone has the time or equipment to properly smoke foods, so they use something fake like liquid smoke or some gadget like the smoking gun. Hey I'll admit it -- I'm guilty of using liquid smoke in my homemade chili (shh, I added a few drops in my chili and won the chili cook-off at my work). Of course, this was before I discovered the WSM.

The smoking gun costs $100 and shoots smoke from a skinny tube onto the food of your choice. I couldn't help but chuckle when I first saw it -- there's even a video showing you how to smoke spinach salad and a Bloody Mary drink. I haven't used it myself, but judging by the reviews on William Sonoma's website, I'm a bit skeptical on how well it works. It's probably more of a gimmick than anything. Check out Bryan Voltaggio using it (around the 3:20 mark) in which he says he "loves using it."

One thing's for sure, you just can't beat the real thing -- smoking with charcoal and/or wood, low and slow, for hours and hours. After a while, your clothes and skin start smelling like smoke even after you take a shower. That's when you know you've been around smoke way too long.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spare Me Some Spare Ribs

Having the WSM is a little addicting. It had been more than a week since the last smoke-out and I was already getting the itch. So over the weekend while grocery shopping, I picked up a "family pack" of pork spare ribs at a local grocery store for a little under $7. It was perfect because I didn't want to buy a Godzilla-sized pack at Costco that would probably feed a small hungry village in some 3rd world country.

I slapped on some homemade rub and put it in the fridge overnight. The rub I've been using has been working pretty well. It's simple and gets the job done. I posted the recipe I used in the past, but this time around I added a pinch of cumin and a little brown sugar for some extra caramelization.

The next day, I threw it on the WSM and basted the ribs with apple juice on each side after a couple of hours. The grand total smoke time was 4.5 hours. This time around, I experimented by NOT adding any water into the water pan. As you know, the purpose of the water pan is to regulate the internal temperature and to keep it low and slow. With no water, you run the risk of higher temperature, so you have to adjust the vents and monitor very carefully. On the flip side, you can achieve better results on the bark -- the outside crust of the meat. See for yourself at the jump.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Texas BBQ vs. Kansas City BBQ

Back on May 31, I posted about the William Sonoma blog teaser on Volt Bro's BBQ tour. I admit, I haven't been back until now. It looks like they've been pretty busy. There is chock full of mouth-watering food pictures, videos recipes, and first hand insight on some old school BBQ joints -- just some great material to read about if you're a BBQ fan.

There are even recipes for BBQ desserts, along with a recipe on southern corn bread that seems enticing to try (but I'm not too interested in baking). But the recipe I'm most interested is the Carolina-style pulled pork. Another interesting thing to point is their "5 Things to Know About" for BBQ styles -- so far they've talked about Texas and Kansas City. Good stuff.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Review: Baby Blues BBQ in Venice, CA

When eating out BBQ, I try to avoid the chain restaurants out there, which can range from bad to downright mediocre. There was this Texas-based chain, which opened several years ago about a few minutes away from my house. I tried it once and never again. It was bland, no smoky flavor, and was in a bad location. The place didn't last long and shut down rather quickly.

Baby Blues BBQ in Venice is one of the better BBQ places I've tried in the LA area. It was on Triple D, and has its fair share of Yelp reviews, so of course many people will say it's "hyped up." I couldn't care less -- I just want good BBQ. I had the baby back ribs platter, along with a side of mac 'n cheese, sweet potatoes, and cornbread. What I liked about the ribs was that it had a nice crust and smoky bark, and was not TOO tender. Good ribs should still have a good toothsome quality, and not completely fall off the bone upon the first bite. I also liked how they provide several different types of BBQ sauces in squeeze bottles on the table.

People are always trying to pigeon hole BBQ places... like oh what style BBQ is this? Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City, etc? It doesn't matter. Safe to say, most BBQ places in California use a little bit of everything, so it's a hybrid. Many people use both dry rub (Texas) to go along with vinegar-based sauces (NC) -- including myself. Just as long as it tastes good. Next time I'm in the area, I definitely want to try their beef ribs and the pulled pork sandwich.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Meat + Smoke + Rub = Joy

As I'm waiting patiently for my next BBQ smoke-out experience (this weekend, maybe?), I've been diligently reading up on recipes, researching restaurants, and learning about BBQ competition teams. The OC BBQ Festival is happening this upcoming Saturday June 11th, and I came across SoCal-based Slap Yo' Daddy BBQ team. The more I learned about this team, the more I was in awe of their success.

Normally when you think of BBQ competition teams and see them on TV, they have these huge, shiny customized smokers that cost upwards of $10k plus. Conversely, the Slap Yo' Daddy team uses a couple of WSM's and kettle grills, along with a computer system with a fan that digitally monitors and regulates the temperature of their meats. Since starting in '08, they've been winning awards left and right and are the #4 nationally ranked team in the country. They recently were on TLC's BBQ Pitmasters show.

Pitmaster Harry Soo uses Asian ingredients, spices and flavors, which distinguishes their BBQ from the competition. Many of his competitors are widely popular in the traditonal BBQ parts of the country, do BBQ competitions full-time, and they have restaurants. Slap Yo' Daddy is from Southern California, have full-time IT jobs, and still hold their own in the BBQ competition circuit. They truly are weekend BBQ pitmasters. Keep up the great work Slap Yo' Daddy. I will have to try your BBQ real soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saveur's BBQ Nation

Reading Saveur magazine's BBQ Nation is like being instantly transported to some gritty, hole-in-wall BBQ joint in Kansas City or North Carolina. The kind of place where it's not corporate, but family owned, where you can smell the aromatic smoke a mile away. The photos and videos capture so much -- the friendly smiles behind the counter, the old equipment that's been used for generations, and the relaxed atmosphere from patrons waiting in line to get their fix of home style 'Q. There's even a recipe for Chicago-style rib tips. I might give it a whirl sometime.

I've also been checking out websites like the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) and the California BBQ Association. Ever wonder how people become a BBQ judge in those competitions? If you want to become a BBQ certified judge, you have to go an all-day judging class taught by KCBS. I think it's around $80 and it includes a year membership to KCBS. They hold several classes each month, but the problem is finding one close enough to Southern California. I would absolutely go. I'm sure once you get certified, you still have to snag a coveted judging spot -- sitting inside this white tent, shrouded in secrecy, tasting dozens of different BBQ? Sign me up.

Judging area tent at OC BBQ Festival in 2010

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Smokin' Aftermath: BBQ Coma

In my last post, I talked about the excruciatingly long wait while the chicken and brisket were "hibernating" in the WSM smoker. Well, I can tell you that for a couple days my entire house smelled like smoked meats. Even my clothes and skin pores smelled like smoked meats.

The chicken and brisket turned out great, considering it was my first time. I took notes -- made a few mistakes, but nothing earth shattering -- I now know what tweaks to make for the next smoke-out. I smoked the chicken breasts about 4 hours, which may seem long to most people, but it turned out to be the right move in my case. I smoked the brisket for about 8 hours, but I had to do something to it after removing it from the WSM. Read more >>

Friday, June 3, 2011

My First Time Smokin' Brisket

By Dru Chai

Shhh... BBQ R2D2 (my nickname for the WSM) is sleeping. Smoking away, undisturbed, at a steady 225 degrees F. My first attempt at smoking brisket is now underway. But it's only been a couple of hours, and the anticipation is already killing me. How do all the seasoned BBQ veterans do it? Especially, when you're hungry, and the smell of smoked meat permeates through the air?

Since I'm using this blog to document/log my BBQ smoking experiences, I'll simply be posting my thoughts and pictures with every experience -- even the mess-ups. For my first time using the WSM, I'm using 6-lb brisket and 3 large bone-in half chicken breasts. Read more >>

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Charcoal Smoky Heaven

Since I'm a newbie on BBQ smoking, I'm trying to soak up as much information as possible. There are some websites out there that go into so much detail, it's mind boggling. I came across this post today on the OC Weekly blog, talking about some of the differences between various types of wood and charcoal. It nicely summarizes most of what I've read in a nutshell:
  • Charcoal briquettes: the way to go for low & slow smoking, consistent burn times
  • Lump charcoal: burns very hot, inconsistent burn times, perfect for searing/grilling at high temps
  • Natural charcoal briquettes: burns hotter and quicker than normal briquettes
  • Pre-treated "match light" charcoal: yucky, has nasty chemicals, do not use for low & slow smoking (ok I admit it, I still have some of this stuff in storage)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Let the Smoking Begin!

I saw the UPS truck pull up to the front door and I knew right away. My Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker had finally arrived. The box was well packaged, and nothing seemed broken or out of place. Although there was a "Team Lift" sticker, it was a good workout to lift for one person. Of course, you can always just slide it around if there's a smooth surface.

Unboxing and assembling was a piece of cake. You can find more detailed product info and photos here, but I'll just do a quick summary. Assembly consisted of attaching the bottom legs, and screwing together the grate support brackets inside the middle charcoal chamber with the included nuts, bolts, and washers. From there, it was just placing all the components together in a "stacked" format. The end result looks like a shiny and black bullet. The whole process took about 20 minutes. It's now ready for action. Time to go buy some meat...

Lift with your knees, not with your back
All of the contents laid out