Monday, December 28, 2009


Procrastination gets a bad rap sometimes. You see in this case I promised a review of my pastrami method some weeks ago. As it turns out, had I been prompt I would of missed the valuable comparison point that landed on my doorstep Christmas eve - namely a pound of sliced pastrami shipped from the NYC pastrami mecca - Katz Deli (Thanks Andy).

The Katz meat was supremely tender, juicy, with wonderful smoke and spice notes. Above all it tasted beefy.

I've eaten a few times previously at Katz, but more often at Schwartz' in Montreal where I found the smoked meat every bit as good as Katz maybe a bit bolder and peppery.

So, my at home version attempts to mimic these pastrami/smoked meat standards.

Here is my method.

1) Buy a commercial corned beef brisket point cut. Not the flat and definitely not top round. I stock up on these after St. Patricks day and freeze them.

2) Soak in cold water for 24 hours. Change out the water a couple of times. These cuts are built for being boiled where a lot of the salt is extracted into the boiled liquid. This is great when making New England boiled dinner but not for smoking. If you dont give the commercial corned beef a good soak you'll find the finished product to be too salty when smoking.

3. Rub with mustard, fresh course grind of mixed peppercorns and whole coriander seeds. I also apply a light dusting of mild chile powder for color.

4. Smoke at 250* with fruit wood until 180* internal temp.

Some pictures:

The tenderness and flavor were great, in fact I thought world class... until I tasted the Katz sample. A couple things I think Katz does differently; first is they smoke at a low temp, almost a cold smoke possibly. You can see the crust on the Katz version is almost black. Don't be afraid to put a good smoke on your pastrami. Second, the meat is steamed to finish which really delivers the tenderness and moistness you are looking for.

So it looks like eliminating procrastination is not in consideration for the New Year resolution. Losing 30 pounds on the other hand...

Oh and the Anchor Christmas 2008 vs 2009? Both were great, as expected the 2008 was smoother and less spicy. The 2008 produced a wonderful dense aromatic head for an Ale that spent a year in my fridge.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Football, chili, pastrami

Oh and sampling Anchor XMAS 2008 vs 2009. I'll post back tomorrow with Pastrami method and results.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

BBQ Pitmasters

Set your DVR. The new BBQ Pitmaster show premieres on TLC Thursday night. The Diva Q blog has a great interview with the series producer, John Markus.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I love everything about NY except for their baseball team. Actually about all we did was eat on this trip. It went something like this:

Martinis at smith and wollensky
3 dozen oysters and gruner veltliner at grand central station
Momofuku: hamachi, pork buns, apple Kim chee with jowl bacon, pig head
Bagels with belly lox
Double shack burgers
Moist brisket and jalepeno sausage at hill country
Meatball sliders, mushroom risotto, lamb shank, panna cotta at little owl

Good eats!

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Jack Daniels BBQ Poster Collection

2000: Did not compete

2001: Before my time

2002: 4th Ribs, 5th Chicken, 10th Pork, 10th Overall

2003: Shut out

2004: 3rd Chicken

2005: 2nd Place Pork, 3rd Place Chefs Choice

2006: 1st Place Chefs Choice, 1st Jack Grilling

2007: Shut Out

2008: 1st Chefs Choice, 10th Dessert

2009: 2nd Pork, 8th Chicken, 2nd Dessert, Grand Champ

Monday, November 2, 2009

BBQ Guru

Spent some time this past weekend cooking some briskets on my Large Big Green Egg. And had a chance to try out a new toy, the BBQ Guru Nano Q. An electronic air draft controller that monitors the internal temp of your BBQ pit and and puts just the right amount of air on your fire so the pit stays at the set temp.

I'm a big fan of products that do one thing really well. Its a rare product - the iPhone comes to mind - that does many things well. I've had cell phones that had tons of features and functions but didn't do their main job very well - i.e. making phone calls. More is not necessarily better and obviously the BBQ Guru product designers followed the K.I.S.S. principle with this edition of draft controllers.

I filled my BGE up with Wicked Good Lump Charcoal. Plugged in the Nano-Q, lit the fire and let it go. The Nano-Q defaults to 225* but the user can bump it up or down by 5 degrees with the two buttons on the front of the device. The optional operating method is to get the pit just how you like it using the pit thermometer, and then press both buttons which captures the pit temp and the Guru will keep it there nice and steady as long as your fuel holds up.

I cooked a couple of briskets which took about 12 hours. I decided to just let the pit go and see how long the Guru could keep the Egg going on one load of charcoal. The Egg was fired up at 3pm on Saturday. I finally unplugged the Guru at 9pm on Sunday - about 30 hours later. In addition to rock solid 225* the entire way, the Guru also seemed to do a great job at conserving fuel. There is still some lump charcoal left in the Egg.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Jack

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harpoon Helps

Great event, great cause. The 3rd annual Harpoon Helps Pre-Thanksgiving Beer-B-Que.

Harpoon Helps Beer-B-Q – Dinner Menu
  • Burnt Ends on Texas Toast
  • Pulled Pork Canap├ęs
  • Jalapeno Poppers
  • New England BBQ Championship Poon Dogs!!!
  • World Famous Coconut Shrimp
  • Harpoon Cider Butternut Squash Bisque
  • Harpoon Ale Brined Turkey – Barbecue Dry Rub, Apple Smoke
  • Southern Cornbread and Fatty Sausage Stuffing
  • Garlic Smashed Maine Potatoes
  • Collard Greens with Smoked Slab Bacon, Maple Syrup
  • Smoked Pumpkin and Root Vegetable Gratin
  • Grandma Wolff's Cole Slaw
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Apple Bread Pudding with a Harpoon Cider Sauce

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Harvard MA

My team won the Mass State BBQ Championship this past weekend. The good news is our best categories were those we struggled with all season - Pork and Brisket. This win could have landed us an invite to the Jack Daniels Invitational for both 2010 and 2011. 2009 Mass State should be an automatic for 2010. 2010 would then be our 9th year competing at "The Jack". Jack Daniels has a rule that teams that have been invited to the Jack 9 times get an automatic invite for their 10th year.

Beautiful weather all weekend with the exception of the low 30's temp overnight.

Keg kicked

A hawk flew by our site

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Jack Daniels Luck

Last year my team was lucky. We were drawn for the Jack Daniels contests, I think a 2/5 chance.

This year, somehow, we were even luckier. Like luckier than getting drawn for the Jack out of Missouri or TX.

After the Harpoon event we found ourselves with a great new cooker but not a Grand Championship in the 2009 season. We felt that we had been cooking pretty good. Maybe we were just missing a little luck? Anyways, we had pretty much resigned ourselves to missing The Jack this season. And then, at the last moment, Jamie and I decided to head up to Maine and cook the Jack automatic state championship contest. Some would say that I was going all along but just hadn't admitted it to myself yet.

We showed up late and found most all of the teams up in Maine had gorged on lobster, la fin du monde and whiskey the night before. Come 11pm seemed most everyone was "napping". It was a cool, beautiful Maine night and we cooked some good barbecue.

At the Awards the next day I Smell Smoke took 1st Ribs, 1st Brisket, 2nd Chicken. That wins pretty much any contest you can think of. I-Que had a 1st Chicken, no call Ribs, 3rd Pork, no call Brisket. A shot at Reserve. Turns out, the only chance we had at Grand Champion was for I Smell Smoke to really BOMB Pork. I'm sure most people reading this blog know how well I Smell Smoke does in Pork every weekend of the summer. So what are the odds of us winning Grand there? 100-1 at least I would say. Really lucky.

Good luck to all the teams in the draw tomorrow, I hope you get lucky and your bung is pulled.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Charcoal Basket

The basket holds about 25 lbs of lump with a few splits of hickory and oak mixed in. Takes a good hour or so for the fire to burn clean, but once it did the cooker went close to 7 hours on one basket at 250.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, August 21, 2009

Jambo Mod

I'm afraid if Jamie Geer sees this post he may drive up to Massachusetts and take my pit away. I saw that he built a pellet hopper add-on for Candy Weavers pit. So I'm thinking my mod can't be as bad as burning pellets in a Jambo pit.

The worlds best charcoal manufacturer operates up in New England - Wicked Good Charcoal - I love the stuff, especially their lump charcoal product. So we built a charcoal basket for the Jambo and plan to give burning some WGC lump a try. I'm hoping to get 4-6 hours of unattended cooking out of a full basket of charcoal. We shall see and I'll report back.