Wednesday, November 16, 2005 

Saturday by the smoker

So, as promised, here's the lowdown on how I spent this past Saturday.

Both my son and wife were away, so I had the luxury of getting up a little later than usual, and being able to focus on my BBQ without distraction.

It was a brisk morning, with the temperature for the day starting at about 38 degrees! Yep, winter is on its way. But, it was a crystal clear day and both I and my dogs were happy to go outside with a cup of joe (for me, not the dogs) and get the fire started. This is Bo, one of our mutts:

Also out and about on Saturday morning were a host of future pork products! Say hello to our pigs.

Don't they look tasty?

I prepped my boston butt (small pork shoulder) after I got the fire started and put it on the grill. I'm a firm believer that it's a waste of grill space to only have one piece of meat on the grill, so later in the day I added a chicken and one of my last homegrown racks of ribs.

So, throughout the day I tended the fire, did some chores and had a beer or three. Because I got started a bit later than I should have, I ended up finishing my butt in the oven (hence the foil in this picture below) for the last 45 minutes at 350.

To go with the rest of dinner, I whipped up a batch of cornbread. I also took a bag of my wife's baked beans out of the freezer and doctored them to make them into Howlin' Hog BBQ'd beans. The whole meal was well received by the family.

It was a great day. I figure in about two weeks I'm going to tackle a brisket!



Friday, November 11, 2005 

Game on #2

I stopped at the butcher's yesterday to pick up my brisket. I talked to the head butcher and just for giggles I asked him if he might actually have a pork shoulder in stock. It had been my intention from the start to do a shoulder, the brisket was a backup plan. As it turns out, he DID in fact have a pork shoulder. So, since I didn't have the cash for two massive hunks o' meat, I've decided to go the pork shoulder route!

I have a night meeting tonight (yes, I know, it's a friday and a freakin' holiday, but I have to work), so I won't be able to tend to the meat until late. But, I'm going to get it thawed and prepped up for an 8:00am start tomorrow morning!

There'll be a few projects around the house, some beer drinking, and a fire to be tended to! I'm looking forward to it.

I'll give you all a report on monday!

Have a great weekend,


Tuesday, November 08, 2005 

Game on.

Payday is Thursday. I just ordered a brisket from my butcher. Assuming there's no problems with the meat, I aim to be cooking some Cue' this weekend! It's been a bit since I've done the slow and low thing. Mustn't let my skills get rusty!

I'll post pictures and a report if all goes well!


Thursday, November 03, 2005 

A new look!

The blog has a new coat of paint!

Thanks to for the free template.

At some point, I'll take the time to code my own template with some more appropriate background images, but until then...

I hope you like what you see!

Keep smokin'


Wednesday, November 02, 2005 

Smoked meat as a supplement

The previous post got me thinking about the value of using smoked or grilled meat as an ingredient. As a general rule, when I smoke or grill something, that something is the focal point of my meal. A steak, for example is simply what it is when it's done. It's a steak. You're having steak for dinner. It's the same when I pull a pork shoulder or slice up a nice brisket. It's the center of your meal.

But there are many dishes that have meat as an ingredient, which can be greatly improved by smoking or grilling the meat first!

For example, I have long been fond of my beef stew. I've been making it long enough that it's generally consistent and people seem to enjoy it. When I started smoking and grilling seriously, I got the inspiration to grill the stew meat on shish-keh-babs prior to throwing it into my stew. The added flavor of the smoked cherry wood I used added a new level of "WOW" to the stew. Now I’d have to say my stew is positively fantastic!

As I said two posts ago, I used the chicken breast from my smoked chickens in some quesadillas, again taking them to another level. I have also grilled hamburgers and used them in a beef tomato soup or a chili to get some extra depth of flavor.

I highly recommend experimenting with this concept; you never know what you'll discover!




Making Smoked Chicken Stock

One of my readers - possibly my only reader! :-D - WhiteTrashBBQ, left a comment asking me to talk about making smoked chicken stock. His experience has been that the smoked flavor is too intense. I doubt I'm doing anything altogether different than anyone else, but the key may lie in how the stock is used.

Cooking the Stock

The basic ingredients are:

  • Smoked Chicken Carcass (the more of these, the better the stock).

  • Onion

  • Carrot

  • Any other veggies that are appropriate for stock, such as leeks, chives, garlic, some root veggies.

  • The chicken carcasses usually have the thigh and drumstick meat left on them, because we have a tendency to use the breast meat in other dishes. The meat adds extra flavor, I think, and it can be picked through and harvested after you've stocked it.

    The veggies do not need to be peeled, just make sure they're free of any dirt. I usually halve or quarter the onions, peel on. I roughly cut up the carrots as well. Garlic goes in whole clove form.

    I use a pretty big pot for my stock, I'm not sure how big it is, probably at least an 8-10 gallons. I fill the pot about half full with water and put the carcasses and veggies in. I let the water come to a boil for about an hour, and then put it on simmer and let it go, adding water as needed. Depending on our time constraints, we'll often let the stock cook for more than 24 hours!

    When the chicken and veggies have truly fallen apart, and the stock is a cloudy amber color, it's pretty much done. Strain out the chicken and veggies. Sometimes I'll put the stock back on the stove and reduce it further depending on how strong it tastes. Reducing it, of course, intensifies the flavor.


    In general, I don't find the smoke flavor to be too overpowering. However, as I indicated, I think it depends on how you use it. When I store it, I put it in quart size containers. One of those containers is enough stock for a good sized soup. When I reuse the stock, I add additional water to the soup mixture, which would certainly tone-down the smoked flavor. As a general rule, my soups come out with a nice subtle smoke flavor.

    One other comment regarding the type of poultry used - I think that Turkey is a far better beast to stock. When I compare stocks I've made with chicken vs. the same made with turkey, the turkey stock always has greater depth, better color, and a deeper flavor.

    I have also tried stocking smoked beef bones, which was very good; as well as smoked pork bones, which turned out to be too greasy.

    It may be that one of the reasons that I have good success with my stock is that all of our poultry is homegrown. Having lived on a farm for the past 8 years, I can assure you that the poultry raised by my wife, Farmer Girl, is far better tasting than anything you can get at your local grocery store. It may be the quality of the meat that makes for better quality stock.

    Ways to use your stock

    Regardless of whether your stock is from smoked poultry or not, I find many uses for it. Here are some ideas:

  • As a base for gravy in chicken and dumplings or pot pie.

  • As a base for any soup, chili or stew.

  • As a base for the "sop" I use to keep my beef brisket moist while smoking (it adds extra fat and flavor!)

  • I'm sure there are other uses that I haven't even considered. I hope this has been helpful!