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Super Bowl (of BGE chili)

chili

Chili is a great way to deliver a filling meal featuring bold flavors to a lot of people without breaking the bank and without a lot of effort.  Another nice thing about chili is that it doesn’t require a strict recipe.  So long as you generally know what goes into the pot, you can more or less eyeball your ingredients and you won’t screw it up, even if you overshoot, undershoot, or leave some things out completely.

There are of course different opinions about what constitutes chili.  I’m not a purist, but instead I welcome interpretation.  My position on chili is that you should find a recipe that looks good and modify to your taste.  That’s what I did last week and I had some of the best chili I’ve ever had.

My starting point was this recipe, but like I said, I modified the ingredients.  First, instead of Italian sausage I used filet mignon (I was trying to impress some folks).  Second, I added a couple of chipotles, roughly chopped.  Third, and perhaps the ace up my sleeve, instead of using a vinegar based hot sauce like Tabasco or Crystal I used a Vietnamese Chili Sriracha sauce made by Huy Fong Food, Inc.  If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out on great heat and killer flavor.  I put this stuff on everything.

sriracha

You can follow the instructions on recipe I’ve linked above but really, if your pants aren’t on backwards, you should be able to cook chili.  Brown the meat, add other ingredients, add seasoning, stir periodically, and drink beer.

The only other thing I will add is that you should consider getting a cast iron Camp Dutch oven.  It’s about 50 bucks and you can use it for other things on your BGE.  Leave the lid off so you get the added smoke flavor.

Some final notes:

  • This recipe made about eight good portions, so plan accordingly.
  • The picture at the header was taken at the start.  After about 4-5 hours, the peppers and onions caramelize nicely.
  • Be ready to add a little water here and there if you plan on simmering for more than a few hours.
  • The recipe called for four cans of chili beans, three regular and one spicy.  I didn’t use the spicy can, just the three regular.  It was plenty of beans.

Enjoy the game!

Grilled Turkey

photo

I’ve ruined Thanksgiving pretty much every year for the last ten years.  And by that I don’t mean the food was bad.  I mean I’m too impatient to wait for Thursday to eat some turkey.  Tis the season, and I want some fuggin’ turkey NOW.  So, as usual, I bought a turkey last weekend to be had a week early.

The USDA approves two ways for thawing a frozen turkey: the fridge or a cold water bath.  I chose the prior, since I had time, and began the fridge thaw on Thursday 11/21, anticipating a cook day of Sunday 11/24.  The bird was about ten pounds and was still partially frozen Sunday morning, which necessitated a cold water bath anyway.  Thus, the moral of the story is that you should go ahead and put your frozen turkey in the fridge (it’s 3:35 on Monday), cold water bathe it Wednesday morning if necessary, and place it in a brine by Wednesday afternoon.

The bird featured in this post was not brined because I went to the Georgia game on Saturday.  Instead I used a grocery store bought injection in the breast.  I injected greedily about four hours prior to cooking but was left wanting, both in flavor (my biggest gripe) and moisture (but only slightly).  The moral of this story: Don’t skip the brine, even if you only use salt water—Tip: pickling salt dissolves in cold water, which can save you time.

As you can see from the picture, I grilled the bird.  Literally, grilled over direct heat!  This is something I’ve thought about, but hesitated to try.  I’ve done whole chickens like this, but I’ve always doubted that a turkey would hold up for the extra 45-60 minutes.  Well, it worked and the results were very encouraging.  In fact, I see no reason to use a plate setter if you are spatchcocking a bird.  You get crispy skin and a lot of extra flavor from the poultry fat burning up in smoke.

Directions:

1)      Place a fully thawed bird into a salt brine for at least 8 hours.  Feel free to add chicken stock and other seasonings.  Turkey brine recipes are pretty easy to find online.

2)      Remove from brine and towel dry.

3)      With a sharp knife, strong kitchen shears, or both patiently cut the back bone out of the bird.

4)      Flip the bird over and press down on the breast plate until you hear a pop or until the bird is resting relatively flat on the prepping surface.

5)      Tuck the wings underneath the breast.

6)      Make a small incision in the loose skin adjacent to the leg bone and slip the leg bone into the flap.

7)      Season liberally and insert your meat thermometer probe into the breast, parallel to the prepping counter (See picture above).

8)      Bring the BGE to about 400 degrees.

9)      Place the bird onto the grill over direct heat, legs pointing away from you.  The top of the bird, and thus the thermometer probe, should be pointing directly at your (hungry) stomach.  Due to the restricted air flow from the bird, your oven temperature should drop significantly when you close the BGE dome.  Bring the temperature back up to 325.  To avoid charring the meat, try not to let the coals get too hot.  I kept it around 325-350 the whole time.

10)   When the internal temperature has reached 110 degrees, rotate the meat in the direction of your digital thermometer gauge; i.e., counterclockwise if the gauge is to the left of the bird, clockwise if it is on the right of the bird.  This will prevent the thermometer wire from getting in the way.

11)   When the internal temperature is 155, pull the bird and cover with tinfoil.  The internal temperature will continue to rise while resting and should level out around 165, which is the approved temperature of the USDA.

12)   Eat

Have a great Thanksgiving.  I hope you all find this helpful.

Some Friday Appetizers

Lacking any original content, here’s what others are thinking:

 

Eggtoberfest!

EGGtoberfest-2013-960

The 16th annual Eggtoberfest is almost here, guys! This year’s event is being hosted at Stone Mountain on October 11th and 12th.  If you are interested in cooking, tough shit, they’re already at capacity.  For the rest of you Eggheads, here is the registration for regular guests ($40), which must be submitted by October 1st.  NO WALK UP TICKETS, so sign up in advance and by the deadline!  There is also a meet and greet for those of you looking to make new Egghead friends ($25); also due by October 1st.

For those of you aspiring Eggheads—or those of you looking to buy a second (or third) BGE—here is the order form for the Demos.  The Demos are new as of October 11th and used all weekend for demonstrator purposes.  If you purchase a Demo kit, your BGE will come equipped with a large BGE, a nest, a platesetter, Grill Gripper, ash tool, a box of fire starters, and a 10lb. bag of BGE brand lump charcoal.  At $750, it’s an unbeatable discount.

Could you spare some ribs?

I’m a Georgia boy, born and bred, and the ribs I’ve always been fed are back ribs. “Oh I want my baby back, baby back, baby back…” But I’ve been seeing those damn spare ribs staring at me in the meat cooler at the grocery store lately and I can’t help but ask, “Why do people eat you, spare ribs? Only one way to find out.”

Without knowing much about them, I bought some un-trimmed spare ribs and then I did some research. The internet tells me that people in Kansas City and Asia eat these ribs. The internet also tells me that they have less meat and are lower in fat (the ribs, not the people from KC and Asia). Frankly, spare ribs appear to be scraps. But I paid pretty much the same amount as I would have for some delicious baby backs.

The BBQ Institute taught me how to turn spare ribs from this…

untrimmed

To this…

trimmed

These are stock photos, I must admit, but I’m dicking around at work and my personal photos are at home. If I remember, I’ll update the pictures later.
You can also watch a video here if you want a more active demonstration. It’s really not difficult.

Once trimmed, I rubbed the ribs and trimmings with Three Beer BBQ rub, which is a good standard rub to have in your seasoning cupboard. Once thoroughly coated, I tossed’em into a gallon size Ziploc back and refrigerated (always for at least 24 hours).

Smoking ribs is what you would expect for BBQ: 225-270 for 2-3 hours or so. Its pork BBQ, so drink beer, relax, and check in on it every once in a while. You can test for doneness by inserting a fork into a thick area of meat and twisting gently. If the meat pulls, get the family ready. Be sure to use hickory wood if you want your food to taste good (I use chunks). You can also brush your ribs with a little BBQ sauce as the meat reaches tenderness, but I didn’t for the ribs pictured below (These are my actual ribs).

photo

Anyway, these were pretty darn good. I don’t know that I like spare ribs more than back ribs, but I can see why people might. The flavor was great, the meat tender, and the meal affordable: pretty much what I look for in BBQ. I’m happy I gave it a try and I hope you do, too.

Charcoal Comparison

At the BGE store, Big Green Egg brand lump charcoal is twenty-five bucks for a large bag if you only buy one. You can get the price down to somewhere around $18/bag if you buy in bulk, but then you’re parting with $100 bucks for charcoal, and your wife may not appreciate your point on economies of scale. You may be tempted to find an alternative brand to save some dough, but let me save you the unnecessary trial and error on at least one brand: Barbeque Wood Flavors (“BWF Brand”).

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When I bought this stuff at Publix, I wasn’t really in the market for a new coal, and after suffering through a bag of this stuff, I’m definitely sticking with BGE brand. The reason I bought it was because I was out of the good stuff and the BGE store was closed.

The best way to describe my experience is probably by comparing BWF to BGE brand coal. BGE brand charcoal is derived from hickory and oak, the two most versatile and best flavored woods (sorry mesquite lovers). BGE brand coals are up to cooking temperature in about 20 minutes, they last all night on low heat, and are capable of reaching temperatures close to one thousand degrees (although I rarely go higher than 650 anymore). I also find, especially after my experience with BFW, that BGE coals are cleaner burning with lower soot levels and low ash deposits.

BFW brand coals were a very different experience. The most important difference was flavor quality. Although the bag doesn’t disclose the type of wood used, I can tell you it ain’t hickory, oak, and/or mesquite, which is kind of scary. Next, the BFW coals are far denser than BGE, which means they took twice as long to come up to temperature. As far as an energy source, I did find the BFW brand to be more than adequate; capable of reaching high temperatures, long lasting, and relatively low on filler but not quite as low as BGE brand. Really, the only place BFW is significantly better is price coming in at about 12 bucks.

In all, the flavor factor is just too important for me to justify saving 10 or 15 bucks. I cook on my BGE several times a week and the diminished flavor of the BFW makes it harder to justify sparking the coals. So, in other words, this is my first and (probably) last soiree into coal comparisons.

Of Hickory

Hickory, oh Hickory. You are the only wood for me. You give me pungent sweetness and aromatic delight. No wood compares. Not close. Not at all. I love nothing more than to sit with you as you escape silently through black vents and dance delicately across my face, kissing my cheeks oh your way to heaven. You whet my appetite and arouse my senses. You are a stimulating symphony of barbeque ecstasy. You are rich and savory and beautiful, Hickory, oh Hickory. You are the only wood for me.

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