Oh sure, you can have your Memorial Day, and Independence Day, and Labor Day, but the problem with those are, everyone else is barbecuing as well! It can be hard to get enough folks over to justify a decent pig-pickin’ when every Weber on the block is burnin’ dogs.
Besides, Presidents Day has such a fine history or barbecue…
“When George Washington “went in to Alexandria to a Barbecue and stayed all Night,” as he wrote in his diary for May 27, 1769, he won eight shillings playing cards and probably ate meat from a whole hog, cooked for hours over hardwood coals, then chopped or “pulled.”
By the early nineteenth century at the latest, a sauce of vinegar and cayenne pepper (originally West Indian) was being sprinkled on the finished product. This ur-barbecue can be found to this day in eastern North Carolina and the adjoining regions of South Carolina and Virginia, virtually unchanged.” (Adapted from Holy Smoke: The Tar Heel Barbecue Tradition, by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and Will McKinney to be published by the University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2008.)
Says Steven Raichlen, author of “Planet Barbecue” and host of “Primal Grill” on PBS, “Our presidents were known to be big fans of the laid-back pastime as well. George Washington’s diaries abound with references to barbecues, including one that lasted for three days. George Washington was a major barbecue buff, and when Abraham Lincoln’s parents were married, their wedding feast was a barbecue.”
Lyndon Johnson built his campaign around Texas-style barbecues, a variation on an old tradition: In the 19th century, roast pig and whiskey were staples at political rallies. Having combined generous amounts of Kentucky bourbon and slow-roasted pork on occassion myself, I can say with some authority that this is a wise political tactic…after several hours you would passionately cast your vote for the pig, if someone put a ballot in your hand!
In fact, President Johnson had a full-time barbecue chef, Mr, Walter Jetton, employed on the LBJ Ranch full time. I have his cookbook…it’s highly amusing.
Ronald Reagan engaged the BBQ catering services of Wayne Monk of Lexington for the 1983 Economic Summit in Williamsburg.
Even President Obama, who, having grown up in Hawaii, is likely to have an undeniable love of pork…I mean bbq of course…got into the action with Iron Chef Bobby Flay, grilling up some fine looking steaks at the White House for the Young Men’s Barbeque in 2009. (Hope they were good…we payed for ‘em! lol)
And, of course, if you can get a herd of hungry revelers over, you can go whole hog…but I’d put the bourbon away first, if I were you.
And here’s my favorite “traditional” bbq sauce recipe, from …which is probably pretty similar to what Ol’ George sunk his wooden teeth into, at those all-night poker parties!
Perk’s Tradition BBQ Sauce
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine the white vinegar, cider vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 days before using so that the flavors will blend. Shake occasionally.
Enjoy the day!
May all your holidays be filled with the blessings that life can bestow. And though, for all of us, in different ways, this has been a tough year, try to remember something my father taught me. Something I reflect upon that occasionally has helped me through a tough time…
At your moment of greatest suffering, when everything seems it’s darkest, somewhere in the world, some unsuspecting turkey is about to have a fistful of stuffing shoved deep into his eviserated body cavity…
In other words, things could be worse. Happy Thanksgiving!” – Bon Saget
Here’s the Burnin’ Love BBQ Plan…
Appetizer 1: Mojo Shrimp Skewers
Grilled seafood makes a great appetizer before a big dinner because not only it it a light, tasty snack that won’t dull the tastebuds, it’s also quick and easy grilling for a chef who’s in full-bore production mode.
Appetizer 2: Caprese Tomato Bites
I like to follow a hot appetizer with a cold one and, since the following salad recipe has none of these ingresients, this balances nicely.
1 pint cherry tomatoes, about 16
2 mozzarella cheese sticks
16 fresh basil leaves, small
Extra virgin olive oil
Salad: Wild Greens tossed with Balsamic Viniegrette
Turkey: Mojo Brined Turkeys in La Caja China
Cuban Tostone Stuffing
6 green plantains
1 lb. thick bacon, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sweet chili peppers, seeded & diced
1 sweet onion, diced
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste
Sides: Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Giblet Gravy, Simple Grilled Asparagus
‘Course, if you wanna try something completely different…but still savor the flavor or Thanksgiving, try your hand at our Turkey Explosion Recipe!
1 pound sliced bacon
1.5 pounds ground turkey
1 tablespoon each sage, garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 sweet onion, diced fine
1/4 lb Mushrooms. sliced thin
2 stalks celery, diced fine
2 Tbs fresh minced garlic
1/4 cup sweet cream butter
1/4 cup turkey rub (see below)
3/4 cup cranberry barbecue sauce (see link)
…and, of course…it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the WKRP Turley Drop!
Happy Thanksgiving all!
Guest Post U contacted us a few weeks back, asking if we’d be open to a guest blog post…and, of course, we were happy to take a look. Here’s a great “intro to wood smoke” that they sent me back. Enjoy! – Perry
Tips for Choosing a BBQ Wood to Enhance the Flavor of your Grilling
Barbecuing with wood can add great flavor to your grilled meats. Now, it is a lot of work, but the flavor is so much better it is certainly worth the effort. Most wood types can be used, though some woods go better with certain meats. Everyone’s tastes are different, and it is best to experiment what works for you. Starting slow why you are learning will help you truly understand what flavor you enjoy and how much work is put into it. Here are a few tips for choosing BBQ wood to enhance the flavor of your grilling. If these tips are followed, along with having a quality meat, you will certainly enjoy it much more.
No Treated Wood
Avoid any wood that has been treated with chemicals. This not only would ruin any flavor, but it can also make your guests sick from eating the food. Also avoid softwoods, especially pine, as this does not make a good flavor for the meat.
Soak the Wood
You need to soak the wood before using it for your BBQ. The soak time should depend on the strength of the flavor of the liquid. A strong flavor may only require 15 minutes of soaking, but a weaker flavor like lemon juice may require 8 hours. Soak the wood in hot water, beer, or even wine, this enhances the flavor. Remember, the wood is to add flavor, not cook the meat.
Remember, when using wood to add flavor to your meat, that you need to cover it. Treat your barbecue more like an oven, this keeps the flavors from escaping. You should not even have to flip the meat as it will be cooking evenly. Though you should inspect the meat and make sure both sides are cooking evenly.
The quality of the meat is important, and still is the key to a great barbecue. Make sure you get fresh meat, and from a good butcher. Otherwise the efforts with the wood and BBQ will be completely wasted.
Remember that when you are using a BBQ with wood, the key is slow. If done too quickly the meat will taste bitter. This is why you soak the wood chips in water beforehand, remember to let them dry out for a few minutes. The wood should not be dripping wet, they should be moist. That is because the whole point of them being moist is to slow down the burning. Wood naturally loses its moisture over time.
When a good meat is used and the process is done slowly and properly you will never look back. Grilling with wood enhances the flavor to an unbelievable flavor. The great thing about smoking with wood is you can perfect the craft over time. Trying out different woods and different lengths of soaking time. Do not be intimidated if the first few times it is not perfect, this takes time. But the great thing is you can use almost any wood, so you can get a truly unique flavor.
Beatrix Maharashtra writes about food, nutrition & more at http://homeequityloan.net.
Guest Post U
The University of Great Content
It’s Labor Day Weekend, Baby! Backyard BBQ-masters across the country are firing up their grills and getting ready for one of the biggest grilling days of the summer! I don’t know about you, but both my wife, and my home-owner’s insurance agent seem to breathe a little easier if I go over a brief “safety-checklist” before I start playing with fire.
Here are 5 points that every winter-weary pit-master
should take into consideration:
1. If you’re firing up coals this year, check the mesh basket in the bottom of your charcoal chimney. A good chimney should provide many years of perfect service, but they can, over time, start to rust out and collapse. I’ve only had this happen once, and luckily with unit charcoal. Few things would take the fun out of outdoor cooking faster than a pile of burning coals around your flip-flops. Give the basket a couple of tugs, and check for rust––especially at the points where it connects to the wall of the chimney. Jiggle the handle, tightening if necessary, as well.
One thing that most of us grillers struggle with, at one time or another, is trying to get our food to cook through to the center, without turning the outside into a charred mess.
There are so many factors involved that effect how much heat reaches the food—type of fuel, outdoor temperature, humidity, wind, type of meat, surface temperature of the meat—suddenly I need an engineering degree to grill some flippin’ chicken, you know?
One way that I’ve found to not only control the char, but retain the tenderness and natural moisture in the foods I’m grilling, is to create multiple grilling “zones” and position water pans under my food. The most common set up is a Two-Zone fire. You can sear the exterior of a thick steak, chop, or chicken breast over high heat (the direct zone) to get great caramelization and flavor, and then flip food to the water-pan side (the indirect zone) to keep it from burning, and finish cooking the interior to perfection.
Perry P. Perkins is a Grilling is Happiness sponsored writer.
For many of us, grilling is a routine mealtime activity, while for the most devoted grillers, summer is ruled by massive barbecue parties. But you don’t have to choose between boring repetition and crazy get-togethers: every barbecue can and should be an exciting family event.
Here are 5 ways to make your routine evening barbecue a more unique experience:
1) Who said you have to stick to meat? There’s tons of great stuff to be done with veggies, breads, and fruits over an open flame. To make t a fun “grilled pizza” activity with your kids, use cookie cutters to make the bread and fruit into shapes. You can decide on themes like “animals” and “letters” or ask that each shape be different from the others! Then, let your kids decide which toppings they would like to put on. Add cheese, onion and various spices to bread and cinnamon and honey to fruit.
Grill to perfection and serve WITH the meat!
2) Try foil-wrapped surprise meals. Place different combinations of chicken, fish and vegetables with sauces and spices in foil packets. These cook in less than 20 minutes and lead to no-mess, lip-smacking results. Kids will love the surprise element and can easily switch packets. You can even ask your family for combo suggestions before the barbecue, or draw ingredient names out of a hat to create new meal ideas.
3) A little variety goes a long way. If you tend to stick to the same old burgers and tube-steaks, why not try grilled pizza or salmon steaks? Similarly, try to mix it up with condiments and seasoning. Sick of ketchup? Try salsa or Thai fish sauce instead. Look online where you’ll find hundreds of easy recipes for barbecue rubs. These give your food that extra pizzazz and prevent the mess and drip that comes with barbecue sauces.
4) Barbecues don’t have to be rushed. In fact, many will tell you that today’s quick broiling is an insult to the term, which should represent a process of slow cooking on low heat. You can find many low-and slow recipes online (as well as in our cookbook, MEAT FIRE GOOD), and the wait is a great opportunity to pass some quality time with your family and friends.
5) Mom said not to play with your food, but there’s always an exception! Barbecue games are great fun and tasty at the same time. In the game EAT IT!, each player gets a certain amount of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese or any other side dish. Various kitchen utensils (spatulas, whisks, etc) are put in a box and the players blindly pick a few. On the go, they begin to eat their dish with the items that they took out. The first to finish his or her food wins the prize!
Finally…you’re not Bobby Flay, and no one’s tracking your Nielson Ratings…chill out! Far too many people get lost in the details of planning the perfect barbecue party and forget to enjoy the social atmosphere and delicious food.
So…what do YOU do to make a family BBQ fun? Any special treats, games or traditions that you can share?
Whatever you do, don’t forget to kick back, bask in the sun and just enjoy an unforgettable barbecue!
When BBQ enthusiasts read “low and slow” our minds usually drift to images of deep smoke-blackened pits, seeping lazy tendrils of white smoke, as whole oak and hickory logs smolder beneath.
I mean, grills are made for searing burgers and dogs, or maybe getting some nice marks on a chicken breast or a thick steak…but they don’t do “barbecue”…right?
Well, I’m here to tell ya, you can get some amazing, mouth-watering, fall-off-the-bone tender, low and slow barbecue from your gas grill, too. You just have to change up your technique a little bit.
Why “Low & Slow”
High heat causes rapid moisture loss. Proteins in meat and seafood naturally contain a great deal of liquid, but as heat forces these protein strands to rapidly constrict, much of that moisture, is squeezed out, and meat becomes tough and leathery. Succulent, buttery pulled-pork becomes tender when the naturally tough collagen in the meat is converted into gelatin, with a minimum loss of moisture. This transformation occurs when the pork is cooked at temperatures between 225-250 (I get better results at 225) for 10-12 hours, hence the term, “low and slow.”
Personally, I would recommend using a smoking box to hold wood chips for the first several hours of cooking time, as well. There are many commercial varieties, but a clean tuna can, filled with non-resinous wood chips and wrapped in foil (with a few holes punched through the top) works just fine too.
Perry P. Perkins is a Grilling is Happiness sponsored writer.