Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Night Videos


Thursday, September 28, 2006

BBQ Chicone

These things can't be good, but I appreciate their existence. Equal parts inspiration and stupidity, the Crispy Cone is one step removed from the Hot Pocket. As excited as the "creators" might be, I sincerely doubt that "the Crispy Cone is changing the face of portable food."


Rumor has it that Jessica Simpson's father wants to open a BBQ place in Vegas called Daisy Dukes. Good Lord! that guy's a perv. Coincidentally, I watched The Dukes of Hazzard movie last night. It wasn't as bad as I expected. And yes, that was coincidental and not ironic.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Dad also gave me a bottle of his wife's family BBQ sauce. It's not really in the vein of what I'm trying to create. It's more of a BBQ hot sauce — thin, peppery, too much vinegar, not enough sugar. It's tasty but not really meant for pork. There isn't much to learn from it anyway. She's not giving up the recipe.


I visited my Dad on my birthday. We started talking about my BBQ doings, and he gave me one of his smokers. I'm glad he did because I did some research. A decent sized electric smoker will set you back about 2 large. Hell, the little ones are $500, and they won't even hold a full slab of ribs. Screw that. I'll just start experimenting with the tried-and-true Brinkmann. Charcoal + Hickory + Chicken = Tasty.

Besides, my brother-in-law's not very busy. We can build an awesome, gigantic smoker.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Boscos Squared

The food is bad. The service is worse. The beer is superb. That's enough for me to occasionally visit Boscos in Overton Square. Of the 10 times I've ordered something to eat other than the Germantown Purist, I've been presented with terribly bland meal (or worse). Usually, it arrives 2-3 hours after I ordered it, if at all.

Today for lunch with RC, I stuck with the usual. The Purist is a BBQ Chicken pizza. Actually, it's roast chicken with their supposedly "house-made" BBQ sauce. But, why quibble? It's pretty tasty and comes with red onions and smoked mozzarella. Some of the other pizzas are OK, but I wouldn't stray from that section of the menu if I were you. In fact, just stick to the beer.

For an alternate take from a completely different point of view, visit Dining with Monkeys.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Birthday Dinner

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Pig Out Inn

I don't normally watch Barbecue America for a number of reasons (that the host wears a picnic tablecloth for a shirt should be enough). However, because the show was heading to Natchez, MS and because I have no plans for a 600-mile road trip to get BBQ, I thought I'd watch at least one segment of today's episode. The head doofus ate at the Pig Out Inn where the food looked good and the pit setup was top notch.

What really interested me were the beans. They cook them in the smoker underneath all the meat so that the drippings collect in the pot for flavor. Brilliant! Plus, they add mustard seeds to the beans which sounds tasty. Now I want a smoker large enough for a pork shoulder, two racks of ribs, two chickens and a big pot of beans. I think I know what I'm giving myself for my birthday.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Looks like I won't have any trouble finding material for a weekly video post. This particular installment contains a whole bunch of funny, but the best thing about this BBQ Chicken chain is that they seem to actually be selling fried chicken.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Golden Delicious

I love Tops Bar-B-Q, but $425 for a BBQ plate seems a little steep.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You Learn Something Every GD Day

Meatopia II: Decklefest is a great name for a party, but I must admit I had no idea what a deckle was until I consulted the Great Google Databank of the Interweb. Of course, I got conflicting answers. It seems in most instances people use the term to refer to the fattier, tastier point of the brisket (we're talking beef for a change). But, this very official looking website disagrees. "Contrary to popular belief, the deckle is not the same thing as the brisket point. Rather, it's the fat and muscle that attach the brisket flat to the rib cage."

Whatever. I stand by my previously stated preference for pastrami on rye, but the pics from Decklefest sure make beef BBQ look tasty.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Summer BBQ

According to the Memphis Business Journal {subscription required}, Central BBQ will be opening a new location on Summer Avenue in a building formerly occupied by Red Lobster. Of the BBQ joints on Central Avenue less than a mile from my home, they are currently my favorite for ribs. The article also mentions plans to open a downtown location next year. I really like it when a business chooses a name based on geography and then decides to move or expand.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Carrying a sample of The Sauce, I headed over to DW's yesterday for some more football and food. The boys were kind enough to participate in a quick taste test, and the overall verdict was that I'm headed in the right direction. Everyone agreed that the base is too tomatoey (DW was reminded of SpaghettiO's) and that it wasn't quite thick enough. RC made a good suggestion that I'll test with the next batch – eliminate the tomato paste completely and instead make a separate reduction of the tomato sauce before adding it to the base.

No BBQ on the menu this week. Instead, we had some tasty wings and various sausages. Flatty seemed excited about the options but had to stick to dog food.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Baby Back Ribs

Before they get shut down by the copyright police, I thought I'd give YouTube a try. Searching on "BBQ" yielded the following from local Memphian Justin Timberlake.

Taking a cue from my friend Click (Daily) and her "What is it Friday" posts, Friday BBQ video may become a regular feature.

Taste Test

Yesterday for lunch I made an odd variation of a sandwich from the Young Avenue Deli. The Smokin' Turkey is a hot sandwich with smoked turkey, BBQ sauce and smoked Gouda on an English muffin. I used chicken breast, Laughing Cow and a bit of The Sauce. A night in the refrigerator seemed to give it the proper consistency, and the flavors seem to be on track although the sandwich really needed some smokiness.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I'm Spicy

I made a quick trip to Penzeys Spices with CM after lunch to replenish depleted stores. They're the only spice shop in our fair city. At least, they're the only one I've come across. I'd hate to see them disappear. So, forgo the grocery store seasonings, and pick up some quality ingredients at Penzeys on Poplar at Kirby.

Some Progress Is Made

Taste testing The Sauce is proving to be tough work. No pork, no slaw, no bread, no supporting cast of any kind? I need to taste some of my favorites from around town to get a better idea of the flavors I'm seeking. I think that might be a good Thursday Night Family Dinner project.

Using my simplified recipe, I cooked up a batch last night. Here's the debrief: too tomatoey, not smoky enough, too runny, good color, better spice blend, may need butter. Finding the right amount of tomato paste is causing a dilemma. It's included for both flavor and thickening (too much = too tomatoey, too little = too runny). Unfortunately, this particular version was too both. I'll try replacing some of the tomato sauce with tomato paste, but I may need to find a different thickener. Back to the lab!

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Long Season Ahead

I'm watching Monday Night Football right now, but yesterday I attended my pal DW's annual kickoff party celebrating his favorite team the Dallas Cowboys. BTW, I hate the Cowboys. RC (pictured below with AW) is the designated pitmaster for such events, and he outdid himself. The shoulder went on the grill about 7 o'clock Saturday night and cooked till about noon. It was delicious. If all goes well, I'll be able to join these boys next May in Tom Lee Park for the BBQ Fest with a perfected version of The Sauce.

Bad news – the Packers got slaughtered. Good news – the Cowboys lost too.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Smokey Bones – All Sugar, No Spice

For lunch today, TW and I went to Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill on Winchester. It's a regular haunt for us, but I can't really explain why. Equal parts friendly, confusing, tasty, depressing, boring, freaky, bland, energetic, the whole place gives off a weird vibe. One visit doesn't really convey the message. It takes 6 or 7 trips before you become a convert.

Until today, I don't think anyone in our group has ever ordered the BBQ. Why would you order BBQ from a chain restaurant when you're in Memphis? Bar-B-Log, that's why. And, they have smoked beef brisket which is the closest I think I'm going to get to Texas-style BBQ around these parts. Overall, it was pretty lame. It's not reasonable to judge Texas BBQ based on a meal from a chain restaurant in Memphis, but I just did it anyway. It's lame. It didn't taste bad, in fact it was quite tender beef. I could imagine a more authentic and flavorful version, but the idea still bored me.

As I read over that last paragraph, I started thinking. Corned beef is pickled brisket. Pastrami is smoked corned beef. Texas BBQ is smoked brisket. WTF? I'd much rather have pastrami and swiss on rye.

Every Smokey Bones table comes complete with two BBQ sauces, and the waitstaff make quite a big deal about it when you arrive. They say one is tangy and one is sweet. Well, one tastes like steak sauce and one tastes like BBQ candy. There will be no sauce secrets uncovered today.

Now, forget everything you've just read. None of it matters because Smokey Bones has one thing that allows me to forgive any other shortcomings. A Bag of Donuts. "What?" you ask. For dessert they offer a bag of donuts – fresh to order cake donuts covered in cinnamon sugar and served in a paper bag with a side of raspberry dipping sauce. Ideally, the waiter shakes up the bag at your table to distribute the sugar and pours the donuts out on a plate. Usually, you have to do that part yourself. It really doesn't matter what you eat for lunch if you can finish with a bag of donuts.

The crummy BBQ puts them in the tourist trap category. The bag of donuts earns them 4 stars. I can offer no better summation of the dichotomy that is Smokey Bones.

NOTE: In the last photo you'll see that TW mistakenly ordered broccoli and cheese soup to accompany his smoked turkey sandwich with broccoli and cheese. That's just funny.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Wet v. Dry

Apparently, writing about BBQ involves quite a bit of TV viewing. That's about all I seem to be doing. Write what you know, I guess. Anyway, I caught a recent airing of Taste of America in which the intrepid Mark DeCarlo travels to our fair city for some ribs.

The segment focused on the wet versus dry debate which I've never really understood. First, the question seems to be more important to visitors than to locals. Second, wet ribs are obviously better. Dry ribs aren't finished! It's like asking which is better – french fries with salt or french fries with salt and ketchup.

Of course, DeCarlo hit The Rendezvous, but surprisingly, he also went to Blues City Café. I've never had their ribs, but RJA says they're good. They really looked good on TV. Seeing footage from The Rendezvous, however, just reminded me how much I dislike their food. Those ribs looked nasty.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A Simpler Recipe

This is the plan for my next attempt:

Dry Ingredients
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Brown Sugar

Wet Ingredients
3 cups Beef Stock
12 oz 6 oz Tomato Paste
16 oz Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce

Combine the wet ingredients and bring to a boil. Combine the dry ingredients. Add to the wet and simmer 30 minutes.
This time I'll do taste tests of the base before adding the spices.

Road Tasted

My previous rant on so-called celebrity chefs was triggered by a relatively new show on food network. Road Tasted is a food/travel show hosted by Paula Deen's sons. She's a bit treacly, and I can't stand the Savannah accent. However, I've seen her show a few times and she really doesn't bother me too much. Her sons appear on that show often and seem entertaining in small doses. They went to Austin for some BBQ at The County Line so I thought I'd ride along. Remember I said in small doses? An entire show featuring these two yahoos was unwatchable.

This is what I learned from the Deen boys:

  1. BBQ sauce has onions, garlic powder and some other stuff in it. I don't know what the other stuff is because that's the closest they came to giving out a recipe.
  2. Get this. The secret to good BBQ is to smoke the meat for a long time at a low temperature. Amazing!
The episode had 2 more segments after Austin, but I couldn't stand any more. Also, I think The County Line belongs in the Tourist Trap column. I've never been to Austin, so how do I know? They ship BBQ around the country. I'm sensing a theme.

Cooking Shows

I love cooking shows. I didn't learn how to cook from my mother or grandmother. I learned by watching TV. Justin Wilson, Jeff Smith, Julia Child, Jacques Pepin, Graham Kerr, Burt Wolf – they were my teachers. Goofy at times, but overall they came across as knowledgeable, talented, thoughtful people with whom you would enjoy sitting down to dinner.

What the hell happened?

Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Rachael Ray… Rachael effing Ray? I doubt one of them could heat up a can of soup without their sous chef, and they certainly aren't teachers. Can you imagine having dinner with any one of these pretentious twits? When was it decided that the number one quality for a successful TV cook was a ridiculously annoying persona? And when did they stop teaching?

A glaring exception to the current state of affairs is Alton Brown. Good Eats is a very entertaining program with a nod to old school, PBS-style cooking shows. Brown really teaches. And if you didn't catch Feasting on Asphalt, his recent documentary on road food, you should.

Monday, September 04, 2006

No Sauce Today

Avoiding an almost certain sophomore failure, I opted against cooking BBQ sauce today and instead spent way too much time figuring out how to add this Bar-B-Log masthead.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday Morning Waffles

My new waffle iron arrived a few days ago. I've been dying to test it. Turns out, the thing is fantastic. We made some perfect waffles the first time out with Hungry Jack mix and some real maple syrup.

While waffles are served primarily as a sweet breakfast food here in the US, savory waffle dishes are quite common elsewhere. BBQ waffles anyone? … anyone?

Friday, September 01, 2006

Beef Bowl Personal Computer

Is the meat roasted with 24th USB? I'm not sure, but you can find out here. It's desktop BBQ straight from Japan. {source}

Family Dinner

I've been writing or talking about BBQ all week. Thus, the family was inspired to order BBQ for our regular Thursday night dinnner. I've been writing or talking about BBQ all week. Thus, I was inspired to eat something other than BBQ for dinner. I got a cheeseburger.

It's hard to order a burger from Tops because they are probably my favorite place in the city for a BBQ sandwich. Why is it my favorite? Well, they have good sauce, brusque service and low prices. Most important, they don't even bother with ribs. I like that. I like that a lot. Anyway, they make a mean cheeseburger too. Try one next time.