Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Guest Post: BBQ Dry Rubs

Has it really been a full year since I posted on this blog? Yes it has. A new house, new job, kids and things get away from you fast. I was recently prodded by an Internet friend to restart this little site. David over at BBQ Dry Rubs sent me a note and asked if I would consider a guest post. We traded a few notes and he got to writing. I want to thank David for giving me a nudge. His first post is below. I will try to get my act together and get back to posting.  - David
I want to thank David for allowing me to write a guest post for the Swine Spectator.  This site caught my attention a few years ago while I was figuring out the bacon and sausage routine.  David and I reconnected on Twitter recently and we decided to give guest posting a try.

One of the areas where I have been focusing my attention recently is learning to cook country style ribs.  I have been throwing them in slow cookers, baking them in the oven and smoking them on my Weber kettle.  Without question my favorite way of preparing these guys is smoked on a kettle.  The process I have been using with great success is very simple.

Although the cut I am working with is sold as a country style rib in reality it actually consists of pork butt that has been cut into one inch strips.  I have found this is an easier cut to work with than the traditional country style rib which is a loin cut that can easily dry out if you aren’t paying attention.  I have a post showing the difference between these two styles of country style ribs here

I give the pork a solid coating of dry rub that is similar to what you would use for baby back or spare ribs.  The rub ingredients are flexible but generally look like:

·         8 Tbls turbinado sugar
·         3 Tbls kosher salt
·         1 Tbls chili powder
·         1 Tbls paprika
·         1 Tbls lemon pepper seasoning

I let the pork sit on the counter until the rub dissolves into the meat.  This takes about 20 minutes and you end up with something that looks like this.
Picture #1
While the rub is working its way into the pork I set up my kettle with indirect heat and get the dampers closed by about 80%.  On my kettle this lets the grill run at a dome temperature that bounces between 275F and 325F.  I add a split of hickory or maple, throw the ribs on the side of the kettle opposite of the coals and walk away for about two hours.  During the two hours the ribs cook they take on a beautiful color and become really tender.  Here is what they look like:
Picture #2
Although they are delicious when they reach this point I take things one step further by glazing the ribs with fruit preserves.  I gently heat a cup of peach preserves in a sauce pan until they liquefy.  Sometimes I will add a little peach juice or apple juice to the pan to thin things out a little but you can skip that step if you like.  I then take the preserves and paint the country style ribs on both sides.  I let the glaze set on the ribs for about 15 minutes on the grill and hit them with the preserves one more time.  At this point I open my vents completely and let the kettle get as hot as it wants for about ten minutes.  This helps the second layer of preserves get just a touch of char.  I am still cooking indirect so I don’t worry about the sugars actually burning.

I have tried this with pineapple, apricot and peach preserves.  They all work great but peach is far and away my favorite.  These ribs have just a touch of heat from the chili powder that works great with the sticky sweetness of the preserves.  The icing on the cake is that these guys looks just as good as they taste!
Picture #3
I want to thank David again for the opportunity to write a post on the Swine Spectator.  If you liked this post then click the link to see more of what I have been up to with country style ribs!

David Somerville

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Barbecue Sauce Recipes - A Taxonomy

Before the untimely death of my old log burner, I was quite serious about barbeque. At one time I had several hardwoods curing on a rack in my backyard, including oak, hickory, pecan, persimmon, and fig. My idea of a good day was to get up at 7:00 AM on Saturday in the Fall and start a couple pork shoulders on the pit. I would tend to the fire all day so I could have them ready to serve my friends during halftime of SEC Game of the Week on ESPN. I would serve the pork pulled on rolls with homemade barbeque sauce and one of my specialty coleslaws. My horseradish coleslaw is always a crowd-pleaser:

Horseradish Coleslaw
  • 2 packages for shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon of prepared horseradish
  • salt and pepper to taste
Salt cabbage in colander and set aside. Blend remaining ingredients and chill. Once the cabbage has lost some water, place it in a bowl (I use a 2 gallon ziplock) and pour dressing over. Refrigerate AT LEAST 4 hours to overnight mixing periodically.

Over the years I have managed to visit several of the legendary barbeque joints and sample many of the the regional varieties of barbeque (See my recommendations). Barbeque is one of those foods that lends itself to opinionated folks, so I fit right in. (I once got in an argument over which was argued over most often: barbeque, chili, or gumbo. Everyone knows its gumbo of course.) For as opinionated as I am, I will probably like any dish that involves meat cooked with smoke from a hardwood fire. You might say I'm down with OPP (Other People's Pork).
As I result of my travels, I began experimenting with my own sauces. I have developed several of my own, a couple of which are really good. If you are interested in making your own, I'd suggest reading Paul Kirk's Championship Barbecue Sauces. This is a fantastic book which will influence your thinking on seasoning food. His section on "flavor prints" is fascinating.

Here is one of my sauces if you need something to get you started:

The Swine Spectator's Sweet Sauce
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 TBS beef drippings (or rendered beef fat)*
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 cups tomato juice or V8
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 TBS paprika
  • 1 TBS black pepper
  • 2 TBS kosher salt
  • 1 TBS celery seed
  • 1/4 tsp brown mustard seeds

In a non-reactive pot, sauté' onion until translucent. Stir in mustard, ketchup, tomato juice, and vinegar. Bring to simmer. Stir in molasses and sugar until incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Cool, then refrigerate. Allow to sit in icebox for a day or two before using.

If you would like to learn about the various styles of barbeque sauces
Barbecue Sauce Recipes - A Taxonomy is a great place to start. This guy pretty much nails it, with the exception of his Louisiana sauces. We have a darn good regional sauce in Louisiana. It is actually mustard-based like sauces from certain parts of the Carolinas, but loaded with onions. Check out Jack Miller's if you are interested.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Jambon a la ya-ya

In Louisiana, we use pork in everything (and that's a good thing!). According to John Folse, the word Jambalaya comes from the colloquialism "Jambon a la ya-ya", "Jambon" being French for pork and "Ya-ya" from an African Bantu word for rice. Jambalaya is derived from the Spanish dish paella. There are two basic styles of jambalaya, Cajun and Creole. If you travel the Louisiana countryside, you are not likely to find tomatoes, bell pepper, or celery in the jambalaya. The Cajuns call this "brown" jambalaya. Cajun jambalaya is generally made with chicken or pork with sausage and onions. In New Orleans, jambalaya almost always contains seafood, onion, bell pepper, celery (known as "The Trinity") and tomatoes. This is known as Creole, or "red", jambalaya. Creole jambalaya often has shrimp or crawfish instead of chicken. The debate over whether red or brown jambalaya is "real" jambalaya rages on. I generally prefer the Cajun style, but am perfectly happy with either one.

This weekend I pulled out my 5 gallon cast iron kettle to make a pork and sausage jambalya (aka "brown") for the extended family. It has taken me several years to master the technique to produce a good brown jambalaya. Cooking in a kettle presents its own challenges, in addition to learning to moderate the 200,000 btu propane burner that I use with it. I always get compliments on my jambalaya, but being the perfectionist that I am, I usually expect more from myself. This weekend was as close as I have come to perfection.
Let me describe how I did it:


8 lbs Boston Butt, cut into golfball size pieces
3.5 lbs smoked pork sausage, cut into 1/2" slices
3 lbs Vidalia Onions, diced (or other sweet onion, such as Texas Sweet)
6 lbs long grain rice (extra long if you can find it)
4 quarts of chicken stock
2 quarts of water
1 bell pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 cup Italian parsely, chopped
1/2 cup Bacon grease
(Creole Seasonings) Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, Cayenne pepper, Chili pepper, Granulated garlic, Oregano, Thyme, and Paprika to taste.

Heat cast iron pot over high heat until smoking. Add bacon grease and stir quickly with a metal paddle to coat the sides of the pot. Add the Boston Butt and use the paddle to spread the meat ot in the pot. The meat will stick. Wait until it releases (about 2-3 minutes) then use the paddle to turn the meat. At this point, the meat will start giving off a good amount of liquid. Add the sausage. Stir frequently, but not constantly, speading the meat ot each time. The idea is to cook off the liquid, render the fat, and brown the meat and sausage without burning the whole works. As the liquid reduces, you have to reduce the temperature to prevent burning.

As the meat gets brown, a "fond" develops on the sides of the pot. This is all of the porky goodness that sticks to the sides of the pot. Do not burn the fond. When the meat is thoroughly browned, turn off the fire and remove the meat to a large bowl using a skimmer leaving the rendered pork fat and bacon grease. Set the bowl aside.

Turn the fire back up to medium and add the onions. Use the paddle to stir vigorously. As the onions start to sweat, the fond will break free and dissolve into a brownish liquid. This is a good sign. Moderate the fire as needed to cook the onions down. The onions are done when the onions and fond have an almost caramel-like appearance. Add the meat back in and toss with the paddle.

Add all remaining ingredients except rice. Season the pot fairly heavily. Taste the meat, veg, stock mix, remembering that 6 lbs of rice will soak up a lot of it. Once you are satisfied, increase the heat to bring the pot to a boil. Use the paddle to scrape the sides of the pot to ensure that all of the fond has been released. Reduce the heat to low and put a lid on it. After 20 minutes, turn the heat back up to high for 60 seconds and then turn it off. Do not lift the lid. Allow the pot to rest covered for 20-30 minutes.

Remove the cover and gently fluff the rice with the paddle. Serve with hot sauce and crusty french bread.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Harry Trotter

Welcome to the wild world of Pig Racing! Apparently the idea was born in the U.S., but the sport is picking up in England and New Zealand. Originally, the race was held on a 100m flat track, but now they have added jumps for additional excitement. 

I love the names. Harry Trotter and Pigtoria Beckham are my faves. 


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Finally! Lard is cool...

The Lipid Hypothesis was developed in the late 1800's and gained wide popularity starting around the 1950's. It has led Americans to fear dietary fats. In the 1990's, the notion of so-called "good fats" took hold and increased the popularity of olive and canola oils.

I have Jennifer McLagan's new book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient in my reading stack. I am very much looking forward to reading it. I was pleased to see that it was mentioned in this article proclaiming that lard is finally cool again. It appears that lard fits into the current interests in minimally processed foods and environmental consciousness. Those of us who really cook know that some fat in your diet is good and have never been scared of lard. Whatever floats your boat, I just know its good stuff.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hey, will you watch my pig for me?

Thanks to Gioia for sending this article discussing the concept of "remote pig ownership". It also has a comparison of Italian and Brittish butchering styles. You can read for yourself, but let's just say that the Italian put the Brittish butcher to shame.
I am also very interested in "Pestadice", a sausage with little nuggets of fried, crunchy pork skin mixed into it. I'll have to do some research on this one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So how did I get into sausagemaking?

I'll admit, it is an odd hobby. I have been making sausage for about 7 years. Several years ago I started collecting old cookbooks. I liked old cookbooks because they do not use shortcuts (a can of this, a packet of that...). I found that some of these cookbooks contained recipes for regional sausages that are no longer made. I bought a Kitchen-Aid Meat Grinder and Stuffer Attachement to give some of these recipes a try. My first attempts yielded mixed results. I had some successes and some failures. However, after several batches, I started to get the hang of it. The Kitchen-Aid quickly became a limiting factor.

Everything changed when I got a small commercial sausage stuffer for my birthday. It became a full blown hobby when I added a stand-alone meat grinder and vaccuum sealer. I make over a dozen fresh sausages now, mostly adapted from old recipes. I favor Cajun/Creole, Mediterranean, and Western European styles.

Recently, I have tried my hand a meat curing. I have made pancetta, bresaola, and lonzino with good results. I am planning to try my hand at fermented salamis before the end of the summer.