I use two different types of charcoal for slow-smoking bbq at barbecue contests for my different smoking techniques and two woods - cherry wood and hickory wood in my smoker to give my bbq a great, flavorful smoked taste.
It’s the time of year to start thinking about the Super Bowl. And for me, it’s just not the Super Bowl unless I’ve got BBQ, Beer and Hot Wings.
So this week, I wanted to talk about my version of Hot Wings on the smoker.
Here’s how I Smoke Hot Wings:
I start with 4lbs of Chicken Wings. You can use fresh whole wings or frozen wing sections, just allow time for them to thaw. Wash the wings in cool water and remove any pin feathers that may still be attached. Place the wings in a large container or ziplock bag and pour in the marinade.
Place the container in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Now it’s time to fire up the smoker.
Bring it up to 250 degrees and throw on a few chunks of Cherry or Apple. The fruit wood gives the wings a mild, sweet smoked flavor and will not over power the meat.
Take the wings out of the marinade and allow any excess liquid to drip off. Then lay them in a large aluminum pan and shake on The BBQ Rub. on both sides.
Place them on the smoker and have a few cold beverages. It only takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours, and they’re ready.
While the wings are smoking mix up a finishing sauce. Here’s one that I like to use:
Mix these ingredients together in a small sauce pan over medium heat until it reaches a boil and then simmer on low for 5 minutes.
Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl make a slurry with 2 teaspoons of water and 2 teaspoons of corn starch. Whisk in 1 egg yolk. After the Sauce has cooled slowly whisk it into the egg mixture. Be sure to go slow you don’t want to overcook the egg mixture.
Once the wings are done place a few at a time in a covered plastic bowl. Spoon a few tablespoons of the sauce over the wings, place the lid on, and shake to coat the wings. Repeat until all of the wings are covered.
Hot Wings are great prepared this way, but you can also do a few other things with them.
Nothing goes better with Hot Wings than celery and Blue Cheese Dressing. (except maybe a cold beer) Instead of opening up a bottle try this version:
Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:
Mix the ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate for an hour. Serve with Hot Wings and Celery sticks. This dip is better than any dressing you can buy at the store and is even great on grilled Burgers. Give it a try.
Hey if you have any other good hot wing recipes post them on the HowToBBQRight Facebook Page. I’m always looking for a new way of doing them.
I had never smoked a Prime Rib before… but…
Whew…. I’m here to tell you that this was the absolute best prime rib I’ve ever had.
I’ve had prime rib at some great steak houses, and I thought I had eaten the best. But cooking it on the smoker blows them all out of the water.
The procedure I used wasn’t difficult at all, so I definitely encourage you to try one yourself.
I started with a 5lb. Choice Grade Prime Rib.
I didn’t go out and try to buy the most expensive cut I could find (mostly because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out and I didn’t want to waste a lot of money). So I just picked mine up at Sam’s Club.
I picked out one that was well marbled with fat, because we all know that fat is what makes it juicy and flavorful.
If you’re trying to save money, you can pick a Select Grade Prime Rib… but just remember that Select won’t have as much marbling (and if you take it past medium done when you cook it, it won’t be fit to eat).
I DID go with the bone-in Prime Rib . Not only does the bone help to keep the moisture in the meat, but anytime you cook meat on the bone, it will add more flavor.
A word to the wise… don’t skimp on the seasonings.
I’m not about to inject a Prime Rib because I want the internal flavor from the fat and the bone to create that beefy taste that good prime rib should have, but I did season the outside heavily.
First, I rubbed the outside with a little Olive Oil and then use a combination of The BBQ Rub, Coarse Ground Black Pepper, Kosher Salt, and Montreal Steak Seasoning. This made a beautiful, crusty, delicious bark on the outside.
Once you get your Prime Rib rubbed down, the next part is a cake walk.
I got my smoker to 275 degrees and add a little wood. I use Cherry wood for a mild smoke flavor. A hardwood like Hickory or Oak can be used in moderation but too much smoke will over power the meat. If you’re going to go with something heavy only use a few chunks.
I also added a quartered sweet onion to my fire as well… just cause I like the flavor it gives meat - and I really like the way smoking onions smell.
The Prime Rib cooks at about 20 minutes per pound.
And I made sure I monitored the internal temp really closely… I did not want to overcook my Prime Rib. (this is when a Stoker comes in real handy).
Once the internal temp hit 135 degrees, I pulled the prime rib off the smoker and let it rest. Large cuts of meat will always gain 5-10 degrees after being taken off the smoker.
And once I pulled it off, my Prime Rib was a perfect medium rare (140 internal) in about 15 minutes.
At that point, it was time to eat.
I thought Jack Binions’ Steak House had a killer prime rib, but prime rib on the smoker is as good – if not better – than any of the expensive, fancy steak houses I have ever been to.
So if you are looking for something to impress, you might want to try slow-smoking a prime rib. It really don’t get much easier - or much better - than that.
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When talking about tenderness, we’re really talking about the texture of the meat. Is it under or over cooked? Last but not least, always taste your entries before placing them in the box. It’s way too hard to check tenderness just by feel. The way the meat feels in your mouth is just as important as how it looks in the box. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t include it in the box.
In CBJ training we were taught that the meat should have some integrity. Not that it should be difficult to bite or chew, but that it shouldn’t turn to mush in your mouth.
For example: when ta king a bite from a rib, the only meat that should come off the bone is where the bite is actually taken. If all of the meat falls off the bone, then it’s overdone. If the rib slaps you back in the face then it is way too tough. A slice of brisket should stretch when tugged just for a second or so. Then it should separate. If it falls to pieces of course it’s overdone, but if it can’t be pulled apart then it will get a low score.
I’ve already written in more details about keeping your BBQ from getting overcooked, and you can read that HERE.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind:
Achieving the right tenderness really falls back on technique. I have tons of info on my website about my procedures, and you can also find some solid advice on the bbq forums as well. To be successful at comp etitions – and just smoking in your own backyard - you have to be able to cook each category perfect every time, and the only way to do this is repetition.
Practicing at home pays off. When it comes down to a contest setting, all of the hours spent at the house will make it seem like second nature. Make notes of your time line and stick to them.
Knowing your pit
You can have the best technique in the world, but it won’t help if you don’t know how to control your pit. This is another area where practice makes perfect. I’ve cooked on my equipment so much that I know exactly where the hot spots are located and where meat needs to be to finish.
I can’t say it enough, it doesn’t take expensive equipment to turn out championship quality meat. As long as you know how to maintain a constant temperature, you can cook some outstanding bbq.
Do not, I repeat Do not show up to a contest with a smoker you’ve never cooked on and expect good results. I’ve seen it happen to many times. A good pit master can cook on just about anything, but knowing your pit will put you ahead of the game.
The most critical aspect to nailing tenderness is knowing when to get the meat off of the smoker. I’m talking about final internal temps. This is crucial when cooking Butts, Brisket, and even chicken. (Now I don’t probe ribs, but I do stick them with toothpicks and give them the bone test).
I’ve been asked numerous times. What is the most important bbq tool besides my smoker?…and I always answer…my meat thermometer. I don’t care if it’s a regular ole $5 kitchen probe or an expensive, Super-Fast Thermapen. You have to have a way to check internal tempera tures.
Hopefully a few of these tips can help those tenderness scores improve!
When talking about tenderness, we’re really talking about the texture of the meat. Is it under or over cooked?
Last but not least, always taste your entries before placing them in the box. It’s way too hard to check tenderness just by feel. The way the meat feels in your mouth is just as important as how it looks in the box. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t include it in the box.
After a short week off from BBQ competitions to celebrate my sons 2nd birthday, we’re off to cook again. This time it’s the Downtown Jonesboro BBQ Festival in Arkansas. It should be a great contest; there’s 60+ teams cooking and the weather is going to be perfect. Wish us luck.
Now let’s get down to business…
I have had several questions about cooking temps and times - especially from folks having trouble with temperature stalls, so this week I’m going to talk about “The Stall”.
What is “The Stall”?
Everyone that’s smoked pork butts or briskets has experienced the stall. If you cook with a probe thermometer in the meat, it’s very easy to see.
Here’s what happens: When meat first hits the smoker, the internal temps start to climb. It will eventually re ach a point to where it stops climbing and just hangs there - usually somewhere around 165-170 degrees. And it can drive a BBQ cook mad.
This is the dreaded stall.
You may think that the thermometer is broke, you might think you’ve bought a bad piece of meat, or even that your smoker is not cooking properly… But trust me, you just have be patient and cook through it.
I’ve heard a lot of different reasons as to why this happens. Some say it’s the moisture cooking out, some say it’s when the fat starts to render or it’s when the protein strands in the meat starts to break-down.
Personally, I think it’s a little of all the above.
I’ve seen the stall enough times to not let it frustrate. I know that eventually the fat and connective tissue will render away, some of the moisture will cook out of the meat, and the temps will start climbing agai n. This takes us to the next question:
How long will the stall last?
It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to cook through the stall. Every piece of meat is different. It really depends on the fat content and size of the meat.
Also, I have found out that wrapping your meat in foil - just before the stall - will reduce the time. That’s one of the reasons why I always wrap. Besides preventing an over-smoked product, the aluminum foil traps the heat and moisture inside which allows the fat to render faster, and it helps prevent the meat from drying out.
Can you raise the cooking temp to get through the stall?
If meat is cooked at higher temperatures it is possible to fly right through the stall. I discovered this cooking pork butts hot and fast on my UDS.
When the cooking temp was at 325 degre es, the meat climbed to 165 in 3 hours. At this point, it was time to wrap and render out the rest of the fat. Normally it takes several more hours to finish off a butt even after wrapping, but at 325, the temperature kept climbing. There was no stall.
In 2 short hours the butt reached 200 degrees and it was time to get it off the heat. I was surprised that it cooked so fast and I expected the meat to be dry.
I thought there was no way that I could cook a pork butt in 5 hours… but to my surprise the fat had been rendered and there was still plenty of moisture left inside the meat.
Now I’m not saying that hot and fast is the best way to cook pork – by no means. I am a die-hard traditionalist when it comes to “low and slow”. To me, that is THE WAY you cook bbq.
But by experimenting with this, I learned that it is possible to speed up the cookin g time and still get a decent product in the end.
The best way is to slowly take the meat through the stall. I think this is when the “magic” happens in BBQ.
In my experience, the longer the meat sits in the stall period the more flavor you can retain from the fat breaking down.
If you fly through this process, most of the fat(flavor) is cooked right out of the meat, but by taking it slow, the fat(flavor) is gently melted throughout the meat… the end result is perfection.
This week I’ve been busy getting ready for our next KCBS contest in Cape Girardeau, MO. And that means I’ve had to several different stores for supplies.
But this week I got a nice, little suprise.
The end of summer is a great time to shop for BBQ because most stores are clearing out their seasonal items getting ready for back to school merchandise.
I’ve ran across some really good deals pretty much everywhere. And it’s those little tools and equipment I have been wanting to experiement with, but just didn’t want to pay full proice for.
The first thing that caught my eye was Fire Wire Metal Skewers. I thought these things were pretty cool. You can snake all sorts of meat and vegetables on the skewers, and it makes for a unique presentation on the grill. At the normal price of $9.99, I would never in my life make that deal, but these were marked down to $2 bucks. That’s the kind of price I like!
I also found some aluminum basting pots that will hold about 16oz. These are perfect for warming up glaze, sauce or injection right on the smoker grate, or what I like to do is place them on top of the lid of my UDS.
That lid gets JUST hot enough to thoroughly warm a glaze, and I never put a sauce or glaze on any meat cold.
Next I found the large size Bbq Mops for $0.89 each, Silicon brushes for $0.99, and also metal grate brushes for $0.99. These items were marked down 50% or more!
I like to keep plenty of the mops in inventory because it sucks washing them out after a contest. For $0.89 I don’t mind getting one use out of them.
And the metal grate brushes, even tought they weren’t the most durable - they are saving me from paying $8-10 dollars for one. And they DO come in handy for knocking off baked on crude from the smoker grates.
SIDENOTE: If you spray the grates down with vegetable cooking spray, anything that cooks on will come off easy with a grill brush.
I did buy a few things that I’m not sure I’ll use, but for less than a dollar I figured why the heck not. Cedar Grilling planks, which I’ve never used, were only $0.75.
But I’ve been planning on trying out a smoked salmon recipe, so I may experiment with the planks too.
Also, I picked up a couple of long spatulas and tongs. Every time I go on a fishing trip, I take cooking supplies, and they never seem to make it back home. For less than a dollar each, I won’t be out much if they stay at the cabin.
The last thing I bought was a Classic Jack Daniels Black Label BBQ apron. I figured it will bring me luck at contest and get me pulled for the Jack. The Jack is an invitaion-only contest that is at the top of my “bucket list” to cook.
I was able to purchase everything for less than $17.
I felt like it was Christmas.
So next time you’re at the store, take a stroll through the seasonal isle and the closeout section. You never know what sort of deals you may find this time of year.
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It’s time to fire up the smoker at the 22nd Annual International Goat Days festival in Millington, TN http://www.internationalgoatdays.com/
It’s our first time to cook at this event, but we’ve heard great things about the bbq contest and the events including the Goat Chariot Races and miniature goat parade.
Not really sure what to expect, but it should be fun for all.
Email me at Malcom@killerhogs.com