Monday, November 9, 2009

Stuffed Pork Roulades

I wanted to make some colorful and juicy stuffed pork roulades. I went to the butcher and asked for some suitable pork meat. He sliced for me three thin pieces of pork leg (schweine keule). I wanted to have have red, yellow and green fillings in my roulades, so I got some red bell peppers, juicy fresh mangos and nice and hot green jalapeños.

I put the pork pieces flat on a chopping board, sprinkeled some home made rub on them and filled them with:

- roasted and skinned red bell peppers + cream cheese

- fresh mango + blue cheese (gorgonzola)

- roasted and skinned jalapeños + cream cheese

I wrapped the roulades with plenty of bacon around them and sprinkeled more rub on them. In they went to my weber kettle

Smoked them for about 2 hours with apple wood in about 250F

Sliced them up and served them with my home made mango-habanero-bbq sauce. Absolutely delicious!

I'm quite happy with the result, except one thing. The Gorgonzola cheese does not look as nice as the cream cheese. It just made the meat look darker, so next time I'd skip the blue cheese and just use cream cheese only.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beer Butt Chicken

Beer Butt Chicken is known by many different names, like "Beer In The Rear Chicken", "Chicken On A Throne" or just "Beer Can Chicken".  Wash a can of beer with soap and warm water, open the can and pour yourself half of the beer. Drink it and enjoy. Leave the other half of the beer in the can. Insert the beer can into the cavity of the chicken to create a vertical roasting stand. The chicken gets barbecued while steamed from the inside to keep the meat moist.

Apply your favourite rub on the chicken and place the bird sitting on the can in to your grill or smoker. 

Smoke it with cherry or apple wood for about 2 hours. First about one hour in 120C (250F).  I usually add some wood after an hour, turn the bird around and add few more charcoals to raise the temperature to about 150C (300F) so the skin turns nice and crisp.  I also like to baste the chicken with BBQ basting sauce when turning it for extra flavour and moistness.

If you don't have wood available, don't worry. Beer Butt Chicken can be done as well only with charcoal. It tastes really nice like this as well, but obviously if you love smoked flavour, go with the wood.

Use a thermometer to monitor the temps of your bird. The chicken is ready when it reaches about 77C (170F) in the thigh or 72C (160F) in the breast. I usually cook mine to about 80C as I like it well done.

You will not need a water pan in your grill or smoker, as the beer keeps the bird moist enough from inside and you want a nice and crisp skin anyway, so the dryer heat works just perfectly.

Serve it for example with chips and a side salad.  I also made a tasty Mango-Habanero BBQ sauce which went really well with the chicken.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Armadillo Eggs

Armadillo Eggs is an interesting BBQ dish.  They look and taste really nice.  It's basically cheese stuffed jalapeños rolled inside an egg shaped meatball.  Traditionally pork sausage meat is used, but I tried it out with ground beef, as that's what I found in my fridge

Cut the stem end of the jalapeños, take out the seeds with a small knife and stuff them with cheddar cheese.

I seasoned my meat with chopped onions and garlic, black pepper, salt, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and a good dash of Worcestershire sauce.  Make a round patty of the meat, place your stuffed jalapeño in the middle and wrap the meat patty all around it.  Roll the meatball in your hands in to egg shape.

You could grill them in indirect heat or even make them in the oven, but I love the smoked flavour so I smoked them for nearly 2 hours with cherry and apple tree in my Weber kettle. I sprinkled my basic rub on the eggs just before putting them in to the grill for adding a nice and tasty crust.

After about two hours, these eggs look ready to me. I had coated half of the eggs with my home made BBQ sauce about 15 minutes before I took them out of the grill.  The coating makes a bit more interesting crust on the eggs, but to be honest the ones without the coating were just about as nice.

Ready! Looks and tastes very nice.  However, I can see why people use pork instead of beef - they were not as juicy as I wished.  I'll definitely use minced pork or sausage meat next time I'm making these.

If you are serving these for a bigger group of people, you could play a funny game - Armadillo Eggs lottery.  Fill one of the eggs with a Habanero chili instead of a jalapeño.  Give the "winner" a special price to cool down his burning mounth. :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Homemade Sweet BBQ Sauce

Making your own BBQ sauce is simple and doesn't take long. There are thousands of recipes available, but here is what I made last night and it's absolutely delicious.

You need the following ingredients:

  • 4 dl heinz ketchup
  • 0,5 dl apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar or honey
  • 2 tblsp molasses
  • 2 tblsp mustard
  • 2 tblsp basic BBQ rub
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • juice of 1 lime
  • good splash of tabasco
  • good splash of strong black coffee

Mixed them all in a saucepan and heat it up in low heat until it starts to bubble gently.  Let it simmer for 5-10 minutes while mixing occasionally.  If the sauce gets too thick, just add a bit of water or coffee.

I used the rub for chicken, which has plenty of paprika powder in it.  If you don't have any ready made rub available, just add a teaspoon or two of each ingredient. My rub had already plenty of extremely hot chili powder, so I didn't need to add anything to spice up the sauce.  You could add your favourite hot sauce or chili powder for extra kick in the sauce.

Just finished the batch I made last night on these pulled pork sandwiches.  I recommend to double or triple the amounts for a decent amount of sauce, but see how you like it first. I adore it!

Many people like to add liquid smoke to the sauce.  I would add it only if the food you're serving isn't already smoked, for example grilled or fried dishes. You can store the sauce in a glass jar or an empty beer bottle like I did.  It should last few weeks in the fridge.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Barbecue Chicken

Barbecuing a whole chicken is really easy, fun and it's incredibly tasty. Buy the best possible chicken you can get.  I bought today this 1.8kg (4lbs) Bio Chicken. It's absolutely worth the extra money and it has a proper amount of meat for feeding at least 2 hungry people.

Make the chicken rub and apply it generously all over the bird.  I usually put the rub on at least 2 hours before I cook it to get more intense flavors.

You can use a regular Weber kettle grill for making the BBQ chicken.  I'm using only about two fist fulls of charcoal as I don't want the temperatures to go too high.  About 120 Celsius (250 F) is just perfect cooking temperature for the chicken.  In the end you might want to raise the temperature a bit for a nice and crispy skin.

After about one hour I baste the chicken with Stubb's BBQ baste.  This sauce gives really fantastic flavor and aromas to the chicken. After basting the bird, my garden smelled so delicious that I was drooling all over myself.

When the internal temperature of the thigh gets about 78-80 Celsius (175 F) the chicken is ready.  I'm serving it today with some fries, a little side salad and home made BBQ sauce.

Simple and absolutely delicious!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Texas Style Chili con Carne with BBQ Beans

Chili con Carne, or just chili for short, is one of my favorite dishes.  There's many ways of doing it, but today I wanted to have some smoky flavor in it, so I'll be adding some of my cherry wood smoked BBQ beans in it which I smoked earlier this week.

Most important thing is to use fresh vegetables. I got some really nice looking fresh onions, bell peppers, garlic, habanero chili and jalapenos.

I chop the chilies quite small, garlic and onions half fine and half coarse. I used the whole habanero and three hot jalapenos as we want some heat in the chili. Isn't that what chili is all about, eh?

I want to use this chili for filling tacos and tortillas, so I use 2 pounds of ground beef.  I'm browning the meat with some of the chopped habaneros and garlic. I add also soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt and plenty of cumin.

Sweat the onions and rest of the garlic and chilies in the big pot until onion gets nice golden color.

Combine them all together.  Add lots of paprika powder, a couple of bay leaves and a  good splash of coffee. Then add 4 cans of tomatoes.

A couple of hours later I chopped up the bell peppers.  I add them later so that they don't get too mushy. Nice to have some crunch in the chili as well. This would be perfect as it is now, but this time I add the smoked sweet and spicy beans I made yesterday.  They have a lovely cherry wood smoke flavor, some bacon, apple mash and molasses in them already.  This adds the needed sweetness to the chili.

Gazillions of ways to eat it and serve it, but I'm having a little taster now on a tortilla with a little bit salsa (tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and lime juice).

Very nice tasting chili. Rich and full flavor.  I often make the chili without beans, but these smoky beans made it surprisingly nice.

Smoked chicken wings, drumsticks and BBQ beans

This week we've been having sunny and warm days, so great time for a little BBQ again.

I made my basic rub for the chicken wings and drumsticks.

Ignite the Weber briquettes. I much prefer lump charcoal, but the Weber briquettes do give such an even and long lasting heat, that they work really well with my lil' smoker.

The chicken goes in and now I have two hours to wait.

Let's make some sweet and spicy BBQ beans and smoke them for a couple of hours.

Two hours later the chicken looks nice and ready.  I ran the smoker at usual smoker temperatures the first hour, but at higher temps (about 300 F) the second hour, which crisped the skin to perfection.

Very nice, enjoying the chicken with some Stubb's BBQ sauce.

The smoked beans were absolutely lovely too.  They are a perfect side dish, nice extra filling for tacos or tortillas etc. I'll be using some of them in my Texas style Chili con Carne as well.

Stay Tuned!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pulled pork sandwich

It was a warm and sunny day yesterday, so good time for a little BBQ.  I had a craving for nice BBQ sandwiches, that would be Pulled Pork sandwiches and rib sandwiches.

First we need to BBQ the meat.  Few ribs and a pork butt (pork shoulder).

I also smoked some beans.  Fried a packet of bacon, one large onion and one green paprika.  Added to that to three cans of Heinz baked beans, good amount of cayenne pepper and hot chili powder, half a jar of apple mash, good splash of molasses, BBQ sauce and some Worcestershire sauce.  Bake it in the smoker for about 2 hours.

Ribs were ready in about 4-5 hours and the butt in about 9 hours.  Pulled the pork in to small nice pieces.

Baked some fresh buns in the oven and fill them with pulled pork, hot beans and BBQ sauce. Absolutely delicious.

Today I made some soft tacos as well.  Fill the warmed up tortillas with pulled pork, hot beans, grated cheddar and Salsa Mexicano.  Heavenly tasty!

Monday, September 28, 2009

BBQ Thermometer review

Most important tool for successful BBQ is a good thermometer.  You must know the temperature inside your smoker/grill.  It also makes your life much easier to see the internal temperature of the food your cooking. 

BBQ means cooking low and slow, so you do want a wireless thermometer. It just makes your life so much easier to be able sit at your terrace or even inside and know what's happening in your smoker without having to walk over and see. Some models also lets you set alarms to alert you if the smoker temperature gets too high or too low. This is really useful in longer cooks, like brisket or pulled pork, where you cook easily +12hrs and need to possibly add more charcoal at some point.

My favorite wireless thermometer is the Maverick RediCheck (ET-73).


The Maverick thermometer has everything you need. It has two separate probes, one for the internal temperature of your smoker and second for the temperature of the food your cooking.  It also has timer and alarms for high or low heat.  I can't recommend this thermometer enough, it's just a must have for any serious BBQ'er.

Sometimes when you're cooking different foods at same time, even one Maverick isn't enough.  You could always get a second one (I wouldn't mind!) or have another wireless thermometer.  For measuring just your food temperature, you might consider the Weber Style Audio Thermometer.

The Weber could not be more simple to use. Select your food and select how you wan't it done (raw, medium, well done, etc) with just few clicks. When your food is about to hit the target temperature, a nice female voice will speak to you: It's nearly done, it's nearly done!   That's just amazing and fun.

The Weber is a bit bigger, looks a bit funkier and has a timer function as well.

The transmitters stays by your cooker. The maverick transmitter also has the temperature display, which shows both temps one by one.  This is actually really useful, as when you're at your cooker, you still see the temps, as I can't be bothered to carry the receivers with me.

Conclusion:  If you need just one wireless thermometer, get the Maverick, as it has both smoker and food temperature probes.  For a second thermometer only for food measurements or grilling, the Weber is really nice.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

ABT's, chicken wings and sausages

Fired up my Outlaw smoker and BBQ'd some ABT's (Atomic Buffalo Turds),  chicken wings and a few raw bratwursts.

I made a few ABT's (filled jalapenos with cream cheese wrapped in bacon) , few filled with hot chili con carne  and also 3 vegetarian ones without bacon wrapping  for my wife.

ABT's were absolutely lovely, but the jalapenos were extremely hot this time!! Nice!


Chicken wings and bratwursts still needs another good hour.

Basted the wings with Stubb's Hot Wings sauce and crisped the skin on my Weber kettle for few minutes  each side. Ready to eat!


Very tasty! Had a few more drinks around a mesmerizing fire.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Char-Griller Outlaw review

I needed to get a larger smoker than my Weber kettle.  I was looking around for more than a year for a big enough smoker to cook for about 20 people at a time for nice BBQ parties in the summer.  Here in Europe there aren't too many BBQ smokers to select from. One popular brand is the Smokey Joe's smoker, but they are rather expensive (1000-2000 euros). Searching on the net I found lots and lots of information of Char-Grillers.  They seem very popular both in USA and in Europe and cost about a third of a Joe's Smoker.

I got interested in the Char-Griller Outlaw model (with a side firebox) and soon I ordered one online from a German supplier. Less than 500 euros it seemed like a bargain. Delivery was extremely fast (2-3 days) and it arrived in two relatively small boxes.

Assembly took me a good hour. Good instructions, well manufactured and easy to assemble it. No special tools were needed.

First thing with a new smoker is to season the griddles.  I melted about a pound of pork fat (lard), brushed the fat on the griddles. I heated up my gas grill and put the griddles in it for about 2 hours.  After that I brushed more fat on the griddles and gave them another two hours of high heat in the gasser.

At the same time I sprayed oil inside and outside of the Outlaw and did a dry run with burning just charcoal for 2-3 hours. I added plenty of mesquite and hickory wood for giving nice and strong smoke aroma to the Outlaw.  In the pic below you can see how the the Outlaw got a nice and deep mahogany color from the smoke.

It's ready for the first cook.  Load it up with decent amount of baby back ribs...

... and enjoy the beautiful aromas in the garden!

I have not done any modifications on it, except turned around the large charcoal tray in the smoking chamber to distribute the smoke more evenly and added a large metal water pan to the right side for more even heat distribution.  

I am more than happy with my Char-Griller Outlaw BBQ smoker. It really must be the best bang for the buck as there is really nothing else available in this size for this price category. Sure the steel is not as thick as in the expensive smokers, but what the heck - it's cheap, it works really well and I think it even looks nice.

I can highly recommend this smoker for anyone who wants a good size smoker for under 500 euros.