Monday, August 18, 2008


So this weekend was the first BBQ in the new place. Oh, we've been grilling, but this weekend we did a slow-cook on the grill for somewhere between 5 and 7 hours.

I love slow cooking, so I've been keeping an eye out for cheap cuts of appropriate meat. I stumbled on some reasonable prices at Fred Meyer, so I brought home two packets of meat:

Beef ribs:

and country-style pork ribs:

Barbecue can dry out the meat, so I always start by covering them in cheap yellow mustard, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika. I first heard of that from a friend who made incredible ribs. I've altered the style a bit from his technique: he used brown sugar, for example, while I avoid putting anything sweet on meat I'm barbecuing until it's done.

It might be interesting to note that I can't stand mustard. Or ketchup. I have a serious food aversion to ketchup: the thought of eating it nauseates me. I only use mustard to prep meat before cooking.

The real key to BBQ is to keep the temperature steady. You want to keep it somewhere between 200F and 220F for several hours. That's difficult to do over charcoal, but 90% of good barbecue is temperature.

I have a remote wireless thermometer, which makes monitoring it a lot easier. But however you monitor your temperature, that's the most crucial part to barbecuing.

My efforts to maintain a constant temperature sometimes get comical. My grill was too hot closed, and too cool open: so I improvised with a piece of wood. This technique worked fairly well:

Once the meat has been cooking a bit, it needs basting. Low cooking temperatures do a lot to prevent drying the meat, but even at 200F, the meat will get dry unless it's basted to replenish moisture. I use a mop sauce loosely based on Smoky Hale's "Eastern North Carolina Basting Sauce" on p. 245 of The Great American Barbecue and Grilling Manual. My version of this sauce is a little different than Smoky's, but I think mine gives a more rounded flavour. And mine reminds me a lot of the sauces I've actually eaten in eastern NC. Here's my mop sauce:
2 C. water
1 1/2 C. white vinegar
1/2 C. apple cider vinegar
1 T. crushed red pepper
1 1/2 T. salt
2 t. black pepper
1 T. garlic powder
2 T. paprika
Just mix all that up and you've got a basting sauce.

Part-way through the cook I had to stoke the fire, so I used the hibachi as a burn pit. It worked very well.

Then, after several hours of basting, the meat was cooked. I covered it in something sweet and sticky (cheap Kraft BBQ sauce cut with my baste to make it spread better), and left them to caramelize a little:

After a couple coats caramelized, I took them inside:

The verdict? Not too bad. The beef ribs were a little bony: slim pickings. But the flavour was all there, and the pork was definitely decent.

Next project: Boston butts. Time to bring some BBQ to the West Coast!


Ames said...

Good eatin'.

Shan said...

Yes, you're definitely going to aromify the must be weird to be the only guy around that knows how to do this.

Eryn said...

you cover it in mustard before bbqing? can you taste the mustard at all?

KingJaymz said...

There is some real bbq to be found around here, but it certainly isn't the thing it is in the south.

Now that you're close enough, I can smell it down here when you smoke it up. We're going to have to do that together in the not too distant future.

clumsy ox said...

eryn, I [i]hate[/i] mustard; and I swear you don't get mustard flavour in the final result. I only put one coat on, and it basically keeps the meat tender and the spices from drying it out.

I baste it with the vinegar sauce as it cooks.

Once it's done, I put on the sweet sauce. It works [i]very well[/i], if I can say that about my own cooking.

If I can do it, it must be foolproof.