16 Jul 2015

BBQ – Food

I love me BBQ. Apply fire to meat, add a great sauce as needed… sometimes no sauce is better, sometimes the sauce elevates the whole thing, and enjoy with some fresh veg.

Don’t forget the beer.

You see I built me a smoker with my buddy Big Red. This is how it happened.

My DIY Terra Cotta Smoker
Big Red's DIY Terra Cotta Smoker
A while back I decided that once I moved into the current house, I’m still trying to not call it the new house, I wanted to meet my goal – or was it a vow?

If I got a backyard space I would get me a BBQ.

When I visit Charging Pun and his wife Lady J (aka Julia from the Weathervain Sisterhood), I look forward to his steaks or ribs. Together they prep a good meal of fire cooked meat.

I love Ottawa Ribfest, it being only time I can get some great Beef Ribs done right, as it passes through town taking up all of Sparks Street. I normally grab a spot somewhere easy to access, last couple of years has been Three Brewers which is located on Sparks Street. The building Three Brewers resides in has underground parking making it easy to get into the downtown core, park, walk up into the bar and grab a patio spot. I invite anyone to join me through the whole day. Three Brewers and most of the patio and non-patio easting spots on Sparks allow you to enter with your BBQ ribs IF you buy a minimal number of drinks…

That’s easy. I grabbed Big Red and Sergeant (who is called that due to his family name, not because he sports the same rank that Big Red and I have been awarded in the Canadian Armed Forces) at 2pm to join me a Three Brewers. I ordered a pair of pitchers, solving the drink minimum and than some, and we sent out rovers to collect the meat with pooled money. As the day went on, Big Red left but I was joined by Pale Rider, Pale Lady, the Dutchman, Dawn Seeker, and my favorite person Lady Bear. I continued to order pitchers of beer, bottles of wine and folks left and returned with great BBQ.

Pork Butt - Smoked by Big Red and Dozer
Pork Butt - Smoked by Big Red and Dozer
The day was a great day, a few good drinks (not too many), plenty of great food, fantastic folks, brilliant summer weather… it was a perfect afternoon, evening, and night. We all split up into smaller groups and went about enjoying the night. Some danced on Bank Street for Glo Fest, some yammered with Coffee people watching, others met with ladies and gents making sure to find people and enjoy the night that awesome with company.

That was the start of my summer – that’s an example of what summer means to me. BBQ is a key component to summer. It’s like Christmas without the lights and rouladen, a Magic the Gathering event without the tailgating, or visiting Charging Pun without staying up way too late.

So then I found out that what I thought was BBQ was not BBQ.

What the fuck?

So there is a difference to BBQ and what I thought was BBQ, which is called grilling. The basic difference is that grilling is the type of heat and the cooking time, direct moderate to high heat with a short cook time with little smoke. BBQ is lower temperatures, smoke, and a longer cooking time.
My setup on Canada Day

Now it’s funny that before Ottawa Rib Fest, I and Big Red decided to put together a smoker on the Saturday of the Father’s Day Weekend. He pre-built the weekend before, tried some things. That Saturday we went into problem solving mode, sorting out some solutions and finished the smoker for a working product. The result was 4 lbs of pork butt with a simple salt, pepper, and garlic rub. It was full win.

Moby guarding my smoker on Canada Day
My smoker built with larger pots, worked well on Canada Day until the charcoal grill collapsed and expanded breaking my pots. Until the 2.5 hour mark the smoker was working great. I had my tarp up to protect the DIY terracotta smokers from the rain, beer and coffee were on hand, and Moby joined me outside the whole time. Since then I’ve fixed the pots, sorted the grill out, and this Saturday (18 Aug 2015), Big Red and I will be cooking with both smokers.

The menu for the smoker is Beef Brisket, a favorite of Lady Bear’s. I’m going to use a simple, salt, garlic, bay leaves, and pepper corn brine for 24 hours. After 24 hours, I’m going to rinse the meat, dry it and let it rest to room temperature before I apply my Texas style rub. Put the meat back in the fridge overnight and come Saturday throw it on the smoker until done. I tend to flip the meat half way through since I still have a bit of direct heat on the meat. The brisket I did on Canada Day was cooked but it wasn’t cooked long enough for everything to break down and render making it super tender, pull apart tender.

Chicken - Smoked by Big Red
Beef Brisket Rubbed and Brined
Canada Day 2015
Other projects include smoking salmon and putting that in a food processor with cream cheese to make a salmon spread for breakfasts. Smoking sausages, chicken, and even a small turkey or game hen are all on the future menus. Big Red is trying to master the smoked chicken while I master or learn how to do brisket well.

I’ve even got a few recipes for sauces, one of which is a great homemade sauce that I’m to keep secret but I will play around with for a spicy version.

Learning how to really BBQ has been a blast and so much fun. Having folks eat the food and enjoy it - rather than puke it up all over my backyard has been great. Since learning what 'real' BBQ I've vowed to never go back. Oh I'll still 'grill', but my first love of fire cooked meat will be the low and slow method of BBQ.

- Cheers


PS Here is a view of the setup on Canada Day

Fuck the rain, it's Canada Day - I'm using my smoker