Monday, June 06, 2005

I Love the Smell of Charcoal in the Morning.

It smells like… Barbecue!

Despite weather that couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to do, I managed to cook outside on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I grilled chicken on the gas grill using a marinade recipe I learned from the cook at a church I attended in San Diego. The recipe works best if you can marinate your meat in it at least 24 hours, but I left my chicken in it for only about 10 hours and it still worked well. In addition, I discovered that it makes a great flavor base for jerky made on the smoker, and also tastes good basted onto grilled veggies:

Monkey Meat Marinade

1 medium sized ginger root
5 cloves garlic
1 10 oz. bottle of soy sauce
1 20 oz. bottle 7up or other lemon-lime pop
¼ cup sugar

Peel and grate ginger, chop garlic finely. Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Pour over chicken or beef, cover and refrigerate, marinate 1-3 nights.

Sunday, as I mentioned earlier, was spent barbecuing. I find very interesting the various permutations of barbecue found throughout the Southeast, Southwest, and Lower Midwest (Missouri). The debate over which are the proper methods of preparing the meat, and which meat to use, leave me bemused and drooling. Not living in or being from any of those regions, I have no vested interest in or philosophical commitment to any one method. For me, it’s all about the end result: does it taste good? That works for me.

So yesterday, I decided not to take sides in the great debate over wet vs. dry. I decided to borrow from, and probably to offend, ALL interested parties, by combining several different methods.

I started by selecting pork as the meat of choice for this round, since I’d already tried my hand at beef (brisket). I had two cuts of meat – a loin and a rack of baby backs. Friday afternoon I started marinating them in two bottles of red wine vinaigrette dressing. Sunday after church, I fired up the smoker, and removed the pork from the fridge. I patted it dry and applied a dry rub of my own concoction. The spices in it included ground sun dried tomato, paprika, cayenne, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, turmeric, cumin, sage, oregano, sugar, salt, and white pepper. After applying the dry rub, I started cooking. After an hour or so, when the dry rub had time to cook in to the meat, I turned it over to let the other side cook, and applied a wet sop. The sop was made up of V-8 Juice, orange juice, pineapple juice, and a package of zesty Italian dressing mix. I continued applying this sop and turning the meat for another two hours, then started applying barbecue sauce. I confess that I didn’t make my own, but relied on a high quality commercial sauce out of Texas called Stubb’s. I cooked the meat for the last two hours continuously applying Stubb’s Spicy. The last half hour or so, I ran out of charcoal and the smoker couldn’t keep up sufficient heat, so I finished it on the gas grill. That may horrify the purist, but it got the job done, and by that point, the meat had absorbed plenty of smoke.

For sides, I tossed a couple of ears of corn, still in their husks, onto the grill, and in my grill basket I cooked up some green beans with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. I finished the meal with dinner rolls and a bottle of Pinot Noir Blanc (I didn’t think a white wine could stand up to the intensity of the BBQ sauce, and a red would probably be too dry -- a blush worked perfectly).

I was quite pleased with the results, and so was The Feared Redhead. I was informed, and I quote, “You can make this recipe again”. How generous of her. The one thing we agreed on is that next time, I could probably save myself some trouble and skip the sop in the middle, relying only on the dry rub and the sauce.

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