Dark and Sticky
Archives for January 2015
The best of the U.S. in the U.K.
As the growth in U.S. style BBQ grows, there’s a real need for products imported from the U.S. and especially a little guidance as to what is good to help us through the vast array of available products. Dry rubs and Sauces are now easy to get hold of here in the U.K. thanks to BBQ Gourmet which has been bringing over the best of U.S. sauces and rubs since 2013, the owner Richard is passionate about his BBQ, and stocks a great range. I picked up a few of the well rated rubs and sauces, including the Oakridge BBQ “Black Ops” Rub above, I tested this on some thick Beef Ribs, and was impressed as to how it just seemed to amplify the beefiness of the meat. A lot of this will be due to the umami kick of the Shittake Mushrooms in it. Great stuff, the CowTown Hog Rub was nice, but like a lot of the hog dry rubs a little one dimensional for me, but still will give good results. Overall really impressed with the range BBQ Gourmet stock and the service, delivery was quick and efficient.
Lit BBQ in 10 minutes
The majority of regular BBQers who use charcoal for their BBQ prefer not to use chemicals near their food, such as lighter fluid and lighter blocks, so a good alternative that many of us use is a BBQ Chimney Starter, I have used various makes, but have found the slightly more expensive Weber model to be the best, and last the longest, the cheaper models, around £15 generally only last a BBQ season before rusting away. I’ve been using the above pictured chimney starter for a couple of years, and it’s just showing a little discolouration.
How to use
Simply fill the upper part of the chimney starter with your charcoal, and then place a screwed up ball of newspaper, a couple of sheets usually does the trick in the compartment under the charcoal, and set fire to the newspaper, the flames and heat are drawn up through the charcoal, usually you get a chimney full of blazing coals in around 10 minutes, which you can then tip into your BBQ. A tip from a member of the CountryWoodSmoke Facebook Group is to use a pirece of kitchen towel soaked in vegetable oil instead of the newspaper to get it started.
I find they get quite smoky until they are fully up and running, and that they are extremely hot to hold and tip, so use some thick welding gloves to protect your hands from sparks. Also ensure they are stood on something heatproof, I use a concrete slab.
for around £35 plus postage. (N.B. they are sometimes on offer and a lot cheaper at garden centres that stock Weber).
Once up and running, the effect is like the afterburner on a jet engine, and great to cook on, simply place a grill grate over the top of the chimney, and yu can cook in some serious heat, ideal for skewers and thin steaks.
Here’s a few Afterburner Recipes to get you started.
Long Reach Tongs
Often when cooking BBQ and Grilling, especially with the Dirty Steak method of cooking directly on the coals, you need a BBQ Tong with a long reach and sturdy, so you can reach into the coals of a deep BBQ such as a ceramic Kamado. Then you need a set of extra long tongs. I’ve relied on these Steak Tongs for the last couple of years, I was put onto them by legend of the smoke Dr Sweetsmoke.
They are around 20″ long, the grips on the end are flat one side, with a toothed grip on the other, so you can slide under the food with the flat side and then grip with the teeth.
There’s a retainer that stops them opening up too wide, this can be a hinderance for a really large piece of meat, but it opens out to a wide 4-5″. It will also easily pick up a large steak. Built of stainless steel, they are pretty bombproof, and comfortable to wield for long grilling sessions.
Price: £13 + £2.99 shipping
Reliable, consistent, Hot Smoking
The Bradley Original Smoker is a Hot smoker, that uses compressed wood briquettes and an electric heating element inside a fridge like main unit, the insulation maintains a good steady temperature, and is easily controllable from the smoker unit. The smoking wood briquettes drop down a chute and onto a little conveyor belt system, pushing them onto a element that get them smoking for around 20 minutes.
It is a great piece of kit for reliable consistent results, you just set the temperature, load up with briquettes and leave to smoke away. The results are pretty awesome, but not comparable with using a charcoal heat source in my opinion.
See my original review here I use the smoker regularly for the last couple of years, and it’s become a useful part of my smoking armoury. Ideal if you want to set and leave, though the briquettes are on the expensive side.
Price: Around the £350 mark
I’m grateful to Neil Clifton of Pit Smoked BBQ for sharing his thoughts on the Big Green Egg Mini Maxi.
A few have asked for feedback so based on 1 cook – these are my thoughts.
For reference, at home I cook on a Primo Oval XL so I have a couple of years experience of cooking on ceramic bbq’s.
Delivery from Alfresco Concepts was 4 days including a weekend.
Assembly – 25 minutes.
Build Quality – superb finish on the metal brackets. Good solid gauge material and nice finish with the wooden handle on The Egg itself.
Lighting – my preferred method is chimney starter so no influence from The Egg, however, I did start by lighting some restaurant grade charcoal in the The Egg and ironically it was the largest chunks of the last 12 months so did take a little to get going in a smaller firebox.
Temperature stability – Just as easy as the Primo to hold at a specific temperature and really easy to ramp up the temp if required.
Portability – It is fairly heavy which is what you would expect from ceramic BBQ but not so much that it would prevent it being mobile. While it would be too heavy to take to the beach – it certainly shouldn’t deter you if you plan to use it when caravanning (several have suggested their purchase may be for this reason)
Re-action from non-bbqers (you are on this forum because you love BBQ but, unbelievably there are some people whose world doesn’t revolve around it! – my business partner, who, by his own admission isn’t a cook loved the idea of the minimax – he felt the size would be ideal for a family get together but may put off by the price for an occasion ‘que.
In conclusion, the look is better than the Primo, the build quality is just as good. For midweek BBQing I will be using The Egg – less fuel needed and gets to temp quicker. Otherwise it has all the other benefits of a ceramic BBQ.
Price : £550 RRP
Thanks Neil, looks a great bit of kit, feel free to visit Pit Smoked BBQ Facebook Page
Ain’t no skinny ribs here
My first visit to Spitfire BBQ on the Harbourside as a Birthday treat with my family, I had high hopes, it is next to the hallowed ground of the Grillstock Bristol event, a relatively newcomer to the BBQ scene, the website gave me high hopes. I was especially impressed to see that they like cooking steaks dirty style straight on the coals.
Welcoming warm Smokehouse
The building is set apart, and has a lovely rustic feel without feeling cheap. I especially loved the light bulbs, very cool. The staff were very welcoming and helped the kids get settled in, it was great to see so many families getting stuck into their food. You always know it’s going to be good when you get a real smokehouse hit as you walk in….real smoke and good BBQ meat smells, I could see people outside being drawn in just by the smell. The bowl of jerky we were given on sitting down was a nice touch.
Real Smoke, Real BBQ
So…onto the food, I went for a St. Louis Ribs Big with fries for £14.95 the sound of the huge frightened even me, my wife went for the wings, and the kids had BBQ chicken and fries. I also had a lovely New Zealand Pale ale. The ribs when they came out were seriously huge, I was surprised to see they were essentially a slab of bone in belly, which is just the way I like ribs, but some may be surprised by this, ‘Bristol cut’ but I loved it, they were well cooked, just the right balance of gnarly bark, with tender juicy belly meat, most of the fat had rendered out, leaving just enough to keep things moist. Really impressed, they were huge, and I was stuffed, the fried were great, thick cut and crisp, with a nice bowl of red cabbage slaw on the side.
I tried the wings, which were great and as I cooked them, would like to have tried the psycho wings, and will one day. The kids loved their BBQ chicken and fries, once again huge portions, nobody here will leave hungry.
For those who like the technical details, the smoking is with Hickory and apple on Fast Eddy Cookshack FEC 120 and then finished on twin Big Joe Kamados, for a great double hit of flavour.
Defintiely worth a visit, and I look forward to sitting outside in the lovely outside dining area during the summer.
New British BBQ
The Racks Of Ruin Original BBQ Sauce is the end result of the passion for BBQ from the Racks of Ruin BBQ Team.
There’s a move away from many of the US style BBQ sauces and rubs, which to many of our tastes here in the UK we often find too sweet or salty, we also like to pep things up with more herbs and spice.
Finding a balance of flavours is a real art, and this was achieved perfectly in this sauce, enough to win it a Great Taste Award, well deserved for the master behind the sauce Phil Newton.
I love this sauce, it works so well with ribs, chicken, and can hold itself up against stronger tasting beef ribs and brisket. Well balanced, just the right amount of sweetness, a lingering heat and a real porky hit. If this is the new wave of British BBQ Sauce, then we are onto a good thing.
Brush on or dip, the choice is yours.
One of the many questions that gets asked in the CountryWoodSmoke Facebook Group by people new to BBQ and smoking is should I get a gas BBQ or a charcoal BBQ, and many people in the UK use both.
For a great majority of people looking to cook up the traditional BBQ food here in the UK of sausages, burgers and chicken, then either will work ok, there are ways you can achieve a smokiness to your food, see this article on turning your gas BBQ into a smoker. Many people find the ease of lighting a gas BBQ attractive, and this is a choice.
But to achieve the best results, I believe there is only one real choice for most of us, cooking with charcoal, the dry heat you get with charcoal, crisps meat, fish and veg beautifully, you can smoke and get results that have a magic gas just can’t reproduce. And these days there are plenty of quick lighting options such as chimney starters and blower starters such as the looftlighter that can have your charcoal BBQ up and running in a few minutes.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours, but once you try a few smoky recipes, you’ll want to get cooking on charcoal and produce BBQ with real magic…..
Cold Smoking has always been seen as a bit tricky, you need smoke, but no heat, usually cold smoking setups involved a small fire and a long pipe to cool the smoke down, but no longer, the ProQ cold smoke generator makes cold smoking such an easy task. It gives off no heat, is easy to light, using either a tealight or a chefs flame torch to get it going, the wood dust burns evenly for around 10 hours, giving a gentle constant smoke for your food.
If you team one of these up with a cardboard box with a hole in the top, you can smoke some wonderful food for around £35.
I’ve been using mine the last few years and it’s reliable, keep it clean with an old toothbrush to remove any bits of charcoal left, and it will reward you well, cold smoked salmon and trout, butters, cheeses all can be smoked.
A must have if you want to learn the art of cold smoking.