Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Archibald's BBQ

Ill start out by saying Archibald's is not for the faint of heart.  If cleanliness and Health Department violations bother you, just head on over to Dreamland or Jim N Nicks.  From what I can tell the Health Department doesn't even visit the place.  Hell, they may not even have a business license.  Archibald's reminds me of street vendors in Thailand or India, people that are grilling tasty treats on the side of the road.  By far the best calamari I've ever had was on the side of the road in Goa, India. This India guy had set up a stand between the bars and the Arabian sea.  He was grilling fresh caught squid on a half barrel using his hands. He had seasoned the squid with a mixture of mild Indian spices. After spending a couple of weeks navigating the crowds in Delhi, Jaipur, and Mumbai it was so peaceful to sit by the beach, drink a cold Kingfisher, and eat that calamari...

 Archibald's is a shack behind some houses in North Port, Alabama. It is right off MLK blvd.  It's a little hard to find the first time.  You will have to look for a sign then drive up into someones yard and kinda park up on a dirt hill.  First experiences can be mildly intimidating, because its like you've just invited yourself into someone's back yard.  It is near the original Dreamland and from what older people have told me Archibald's is what Dreamland was like when it first opened. 

There are a few seats inside and a couple of tables outside. Archibald's is mostly a to go BBQ pit. Their menu is extremely limited, but that is the beauty of this place.  The only food they cook is ribs and sliced pork, which are served with sauce and white bread.  They do offer bags of chips and bottled drinks.  There are no baked beans, no slaw, no potato salad,etc... 
In the third picture you can see the lady tending the BBQ pit.  When you place your order she grabs the meat off the pit and cuts it by hand.  This is some seriously tasty food!!! It is the best Alabama BBQ I've ever had.  The meat is so moist and tender but the sauce steals the show.  Their sauce is spicy and sour with a hint of mustard.  You can't help but mopping up every last drop of sauce with a piece of bread.
The flavor of their sauce is really complex, there is something in the preparation or some ingredient that makes it have a taste that I can't replicate.  If you look closely at the sauce in the jar you will see flecks of mustard suspended in the sauce.  I've repeatedly asked the guy that runs the place about how they make the sauce, but he always grins at me and doesn't say a word.  The only thing he will tell me is that they do not make the sauce there and that someone else in their family makes it.  I do recommend bringing some of their sauce home, so bring some kind of container.  They sell it by the pint, quart and gallon.  Last time Marsha and I were there someone had placed an order for 4 gallons of nothing but sauce. 

Overall Archibald's is very basic BBQ.  But that is how BBQ should be, let the meat shine.  From what I can tell they do not use any kinda of seasonings or rubs. They give you slow cooked meats with one of the best BBQ sauces you will ever taste.  If you ever get the chance to eat at Archibald's you will not be disappointed!

Archibald's BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bacon wrapped jalapeño popper skewers.

8-2-2011 Grilled Jalapeños

Grilled on: Weber Silver One Touch
Charcoal: Kingsford original approx 20 briquettes
Wood: Hickory
Dry rub: none
Sauces: none
Times: 10 min prep, 10 min grilling

First off, I think that bacon wrapping is a sin.  The two most common things I see bacon wrapped are scallops and filets. One of two things will happen if not both, the bacon will be rubbery or the meat inside will be over cooked.  Bacon can take a lot of heat, because it's loaded with fat. Now if you are going to tell me its for flavor, I would not wrap in bacon but use bacon grease.  Pan seared scallops in bacon grease sounds delicious.  There is one way that bacon wrapping works and thats with deep frying and we don't deep or shallow fry at our house. 

This summer we have been fortunate enough that some of Marsha's coworkers have been giving us veggies from their gardens.  It's usually the left overs/over flow veggies.  She brought home a whole bunch of pickling cucumbers and I can say we ate every one.  The most creative way I used them was in a cucumber potato salad made from grilled/baked potatoes.  After that Marsha and I both agreed that we would start adding cucumbers to our potato salad for crunch since she doesn't like celery.  So a couple of days ago Marsha comes home from work and produces a sandwich bag of jalapeños.  She tells me that her coworker has had a hard time giving them away.  I love jalapeños, they are my favorite garnish.  But I knew it would be challenging to figure out a way for Marsha to enjoy them.

Method:  I started a two stage fire, charcoal on one side and none on the other.  While my fire was getting up to temperature I started preparing my jalapeños.  I washed and dried the peppers.  Then I made a slit down the center of each pepper and used the handle of a small fork to remove all the seeds and ribs.  This cuts the spicy hotness of the jalapeño way down.  

Next I made the cream cheese filling for the poppers.  I used cream cheese that had been sitting at room temperature for about an hour.  The warmer the cream cheese the softer it gets.  I added garlic powder, garlic salt, smoked paprika, and fresh ground black pepper and mixed throughly. 

I then scooped the cream cheese mixture into a sandwich bag and basically turned it into a pastry pipe.  I just cut off one corner of the bag and ta-da.  I came up with this a couple of years ago making deviled eggs. 

By squeezing down on the peppers they opened up and I was able to pipe the cream cheese mixture inside perfectly.

I then tightly wrapped them in about a half of strip of bacon and skewered them with the slit side up.  I grilled them slit side down first directly over the coals. Once they had a nice char I flipped them over. When the side without the slit had a nice char I moved them to the other side of the grill without charcoal and covered and let sit 4 or 5 minutes.  I pulled them when the bacon was crispy. I let them cool for a couple of minutes and served them with ranch. 

Result: They were really good.  The bacon was crispy and the jalapeños were firm and the cream cheese was warm and gooey.  I got distracted and let my grill get to hot and the char was a little darker than I would have liked.  Some of the cream cheese did pop out, but that was probably because I over filled them.  This was a great appetizer and we will have them again. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Smoky Asian Salmon and Marsha's Asian Asparagus

5-4-2011  2 Salmon Fillets, about one lb Asparagus

Grilled on: Weber Silver One Touch
Charcoal: Kingsford original approx 30 briquettes
Wood: Hickory
Dry rub: none
Sauces: Allegro teriyaki Marinade, Mizkan Ginger Flavored Dressing, Soy Sauce
Times: minimum 1 hr for marinade, 20 min prep, 20 min grilling

First off, I don't normally eat Salmon. I think it's kinda gross. I like my fish white, battered and deep fried. Then served with a delicious mayonnaisy concoction called tartar sauce.  Oh the Captain is calling my name.  On the other hand I love rare fish too. Only once in my life I've been lucky enough to catch a Yellow Fin Tuna. Within an hour of the fish being cleaned, I barely seared the outside, sliced it up rare, and served it with homemead ponzu sauce.  Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm, it was like butter in my mouth.

But now back to the fish at hand.  I love my wife and she loves Salmon, so that means that now I eat Salmon.  Also it's a lot healthier to eat grilled Salmon fillets than eating Fish n Chips or ribs.  Salmon contains Omega 3 fatty acids and The American Heart Association recommends that people eat fish containing these acids twice per week. So lets all raise our forks...oh wait a minute the FDA recommends that we shouldn't eat Salmon more than once per month because of carcinogens.

So here is the deal. Try to find wild Alaskan salmon and if you can't find that you can eat Canadian farm raised salmon, but I wouldn't recommend anything else. The Alaskan and Canadian salmon have lower carcinogens.  Also try to keep Salmon consumption down to once or twice per month.  

Method: Salmon
I picked up 2 Canadian farm raised fillets of salmon from the Western in Mountain Brook.  I rinsed them off, then dried them with a paper towel.  I then rubbed my hand on the meaty side of the fish not the skin side, looking for any bones. If the bones are there they will be easy to feel, if you do find any bones just pull them out. I placed the two fillets in a zip lock bag and added 2 tablespoons of teriyaki marinade, 2 tablespoons ginger dressing, and black pepper to taste.  Any teriyaki sauce will work.  Any ginger dressing will do that is not creamy.  This also applies to Italian and Greek dressings,  if you are going to be marinading or basting use non creamy.  The oil in non creamy is usually olive oil or vegetable oil, where the creamy dressings have dairy based oils and dairy burns at lower temperatures.

Let the salmon fillets marinate for 1-4 hours in the fridge, if you let the fish marinate for longer than 4 hours the meat may turn to mush.  Flip the zip lock bag over about every 30 min to evenly distribute the marinade.  20 minutes before I was ready to start cooking I lit my charcoal.  I used a 2 stage fire. I will later write an entire guide to starting and building grilling fires.  Basically a two stage fire has hot briquettes on one side of the grill and no briquettes on the other side of the grill.  After lighting my charcoal I pulled my fish out of the fridge and let it warm up to close to room temperature, this helps with even cooking.  When my fire was up to temperature I cleaned and oiled my grill grates.  Next I placed the the salmon fillets skin side down on the hot side of the grill and seared the skin.  It took about 4 minutes for the skin to get crispy.  I then put the salmon skin side down on the side of the grill without any charcoal.  Next I added 2 handfuls of hickory chips to the hot side of the grill and put the lid on the grill.  After 5 minutes I removed the lid from the grill and then placed the salmon fillets skin side up on the hot side of the grill.  I kept a close eye on the fillets to make sure they didn't burn but had a nice char on them.  Once they got that char I took them off the grill and let them rest at room temperature for 5 minutes. While the fish was resting I grilled the asparagus.

Marsha's Asparagus:
Marsha makes this asparagus all the time.  The nuttiness of the sesame oil and sesame seeds really plays off the flavor of the asparagus. 

First Marsha washed and removed the woody side of the asparagus. She then marinated it in a glass container with 3 tbsps of ginger dressing, 1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger, 1 tsp of teriyaki sauce, and one tbsp of soy sauce.  She let the asparagus marinate for about about 30 minutes.  After the salmon was removed from the grill, I placed the asparagus on the hot side of the grill.  This asparagus was really thick and took about 5 minutes to grill.  The last minute it was on the grill I sprinkled it with sesame seeds.  When I grill asparagus I want it to have a little char on the outside but not be over cooked. If its over cooked it gets limp and mushy like a canned green bean. 

The asparagus tasted a little better this time. Not sure why.  May have been because I usually only buy the really thin asparagus and this stuff was like really thick. Maybe the thicker asparagus can take more heat and adding a little more char will add more flavor.  I will have to experiment with this.  

The salmon tasted great and was very moist.  I could not taste the marinade at all, but the fish had a really smoky flavor that was delicious. The smoke eliminated all fishy flavor.  Next time I will try a different marinade or let it marinate twice as long, I'll have to ask Marsha what she thinks.  I over cooked the skin, I just needed to keep a closer eye on what I was doing.  The smoke made the fish really dark, so appearance wasn't the best.  I think maybe I've finally figured out the best way to grill salmon though.  It's direct grilling, indirect smoking, and back to direct grilling.

Sides: Asian slaw.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Big Bob Gibson BBQ

5-1-11  Trip to Big Bob Gibson BBQ

Sunday Marsha and I decided to travel to Decatur Alabama to eat at Big Bob Gibson's BBQ.  I've been wanting to eat at Bob Gibson's for years, but the hour and a half drive has alway deterred me. Since I've just started this blog, I thought Bob Gibson's would be a great BBQ joint for my first review.  Grocery stores carry their sauces and I've enjoyed licking it off my fingers plenty of times.  Heck, at one time Bob Gibson red sauce was the BBQ sauce I grilled with.  Their red sauce is tangy and sweet, it's kinda like a Memphis style BBQ sauce.  But what put Bob Gibson's on the map and brought bama some BBQ recognition is their white sauce.  They have won so many BBQ championships and awards I can't list them all.

We were eager to fill our stomaches, so we hopped in the car and started our journey north.  As we passed through Gardendale and Fultondale we were in awe and shock of the destruction that tornadoes had caused.  Marsha then told me that a friend of ours had to leave Huntsville because she didn't have any power.  I had checked Bob Gibson's website to make sure they were open on a Sunday, but I had not called. Well, comes to find out they were closed.  It's really sad that our state has suffered so much from these storms, but at the same time I'm really happy to see that the rest of our country has offered their sympathies and help.  Sometimes I feel that other states look down upon Alabamians in just about every way except our food.  

We weren't upset about having to turn around and head back home, just left speechless.

One day Big Bob, one day.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Greek Chicken and Shrimp Skewers

2 Chicken Skewers, 2 Shrimp Skewers, Grilled Flat Bread

Grilled on: Weber Silver One Touch
Charcoal: Kingsford original approx 30 briquettes
Wood: none
Dry rub: Cavenders Greek Seasoning
Sauces: Kens Greek Dressing

Method: I normally do not grill boneless chicken but its a must with kabobs.  Chicken, Bell peppers and onions are put on one skewer. Shrimp is on a separate skewer, shrimp cooks faster and should be by itself.  A few tips: leave the hard end of the tail on the shrimp and and run skewer through each shrimp twice. Once through the meaty tip near where the head was and then through the hard part of the tail. This helps for stability when grilling.  Also when adding onion to a skewer with chicken Ive found it best to add about 2-3 layers of the onion together.  I use chicken tenderloins for this, by adding the veggies after each piece of chicken it helps to keep the chicken moist.

When the meat and veggies are put on the skewers I sprayed them with nonstick cooking spray and generously coated them in Cavenders Greek Seasoning. The skewers are grilled over a hot grill on direct heat.  While they are gilling I constantly baste them with Kens Greek Dressing.  This not only adds flavor and moistness, but the dressing falls down onto the hot coals and creates smoke and flareups. I feel that this smoke and flareups create extra flavor.

Grilled bread is Flat outs low carb Italian bread.

Result: This is one that Marsha and I love. This turns out perfect each time.

 Sides: We serve the meats and veggies on a salad, with a bed of Romain lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbed feta cheese and more of the Greek Dressing.  Hummus is on the side with the grilled flat bread.  This meal is restaurant quality, Ill say its better than what you can get in most restaurants.


Drink: Rex-Goliath Cabernet Sauvignon, this wine is an excellent buy for $5 from Publix.  Its smooth and spicy at the same time.

Phat Phills BBQ & Beer

PHAT= Pretty Hot And Tempting. I guess I like my BBQ like I like my women, just kidding.

This has been a long time coming! I should have started this about 2 years ago. I've really been thinking about it for the last year.  BBQ is a big passion of mine, I love to cook it then eat it!! I started BBQing when I moved out of my parents house and over time I've somewhat perfected my own style of BBQing.  I do things a little untraditional but that is how I've figured out how to add the flavors I like.  I BBQ all types of meat and vegetables, if they sell it raw at the grocery store I've probably grilled it.  I've even gone as far as making my own Gyro meat!!  A strange favorite is grilled cauliflower. Plenty of times for holidays I smoke turkeys and chickens.  I also like smoking almonds, delicious.  Pork butts are a favorite, but they are so unhealthy that I rarely cook them. 

Things really changed for me when Marsha and I started dating.  She moved into an apartment on the 4th floor with a small concrete balcony.  I have a really nice stainless steel gas grill, its huge. I also had a Brinkman bullet smoker.  The apartment complex that she lived at did not allow bbq grills on the deck, and there was no way I could discretely get my gas grill up there.  So after a while I picked up a tiny terracotta grill in the shape of a pig. It could only hold about 5 charcoal briquettes. It made due for a little while, it actually does a really good job on steaks.  But after awhile I new that I needed something a little better so I picked up my Weber Smokey Joe Silver from Lowe's.  Wow how that changed my grilling style.  I've had charcoal grills in the past but I was never happy with their performance, they never seemed to be consistent and without consistency you can never work on recipes and cooking techniques. I had always read and been told that Weber makes superior grills but I could never justify paying the price for one of their grills.  I always thought, they can't be that much better.  Oh how I was wrong.  The best thing I can say about Weber grills is that they are extremely consistent. I recently bought my Weber Silver One Touch.  I'm still learning how to use it.  This blog and my journal will hopefully help me with organizing my grilling and smoking techniques.  Grilling is so different from kitchen cooking. Its a lot harder to write down BBQ recipies cause its a lot more technique than procedure.

My grilling process almost always is a two stage fire.  I place the coals on one side of the grill and usually have none on the other side of the grill.  After the grill gets hot I scrape off the grill grate then remove it with a pair of tongs and spray cooking oil over the grate to keep it the meat from sticking.  If I'm trying to add smoke flavor I add dry wood chips to the coals at different intervals depending on the meat and amount of smoke flavor I'm trying to achieve. I'm a really big fan of searing my meats then slow cooking them and basting the meats a different intervals. I usually baste when I'm adding wood chips.

So begins my documentation of me BBQing for my beautiful wife Marsha!!

Beef Brisket

4-28-11 1.5lb Smoked Beef Brisket

Grilled on: Weber Silver One Touch
Charcoal: Kingsford original approx 25 briquettes, then added 10 after 4 hrs
Wood: Dry Hickory chips
Dry rub: Garlic salt, garlic powder, black pepper, Byrons Butt Rub

First off let me say I don't normally cook or eat brisket.  I never order it at a restaurant. I'm a pork purist!! But about twice a year I'll be at the grocery store and decide to pick up a brisket and cook it.  I always buy the brisket that is pre-brined and has the spices to make corned beef.  I like my beef rare and thats probably why I not a big brisket fan. 

Method: Meat was pre-brined, threw away pickling spices that came with brisket.  Seared meat over direct heat on all sides.  Seared the fatty side extra crispy, left it black.  Then cooked on indirect heat for 4.5 hours, with fatty side up and sitting on aluminum foil.  The foil is shaped into a bowl to catch the juices and the meat sits in its own juices to keep it from drying out. I added hand fulls of hickory chips at the beginning and once ever hour for the first 3 hours, added chips a total of 3 times.  Meat was really tough after 4.5 hours, wraped the meat completely in aluminum foil added more charcoal and cooked the meat for another 3 hours on indirect heat and as the charcoals began to die out cooked over direct heat for the last hour.  Cooked a total of 8.5 hours. 

Result: Meat was perfectly tender.  Texture and appearance were excellent.  Downside, meat was way to salty.  I forgot that the meat was pre-brined in salt water.  Next time do not add salt and even try to wash some of the salt off.  Or maybe I should try to find a cut that hasn't been brined. Also I didn't really like BBQ sauce on the meat, it tasted better by itself.  Maybe it would be better with a sweet fruity sauce.

I'm not sure if it needed more smoke flavor. I could have doubled the smoke, adding chips every 30min for a total of 6-8 times. If it had more smoke flavor it probably would have been better with the BBQ sauce.  Next time I think I will not try to add more smoke flavor but find a better sauce.