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Posts posted by jmcgrath

  1. Tomatoes, asparagus and corn in season, purchased from a local farm-stand. Great butter. My current favorite is Cabot's Farmstead which is only available at the creamery. Baby lamb chops. Bacon from Green Mountain Smokehouse in Windsor, Vermont. Sausages from R&J Butchers in St. Johnsbury, VT. Maine shrimp. Stella Artois on draft.


  2. I filled it to the brim so using the oven to keep it burbling wasn't a good option. On the stove top at medium low with the lid on, I would get about three bubbles rising gently at any point in time.

    I think James Beard called it a gentle ebulation.

  3. Purple Loosestrife honey is quite interesting, slightly medicinal, but very complex with a flavor hard to describe. A friend put a few hives in my back yard, along the riverbank which is sadly infested with loosestrife. I've been trying to find a parasite that munches on loosestrife, but in the mean time the flowers are being put to use. It's a pity that the very beautiful shrub is so invasive.

  4. West Concord (MA) Supermarket has a very good meat department with excellent butchers. Alpine Butchers in Chelmsford, MA is excellent. They are a retail branch of Lowell Provisions and can get about anything with a few days notice. If Lowell is more convenient, Lowell Provisions also does retail, but they are more geared to wholesale.

    I'll have to give Blood Farms another try. I found them very uncooperative when I tried them a few times about five years ago.


  5. I was a big fan of LS when I moved to the Boston area in the early '80s. They were really funky back then, pay in advance, each entree was served when it was ready, no reservations, etc. They became too popular and evolved into a tourist trap and jacked up prices accordingly. The original Jasper White's was a better alternative. I like his place at Fresh Pond, but prices there also seem to have gotten out of control.


  6. I'm glad someone mentioned the Dekalb Farmers Market.  I haven't been for a few years, but back when I used to visit Altlanta regularly, going to the DFM was always a treat--I remember a great produce section and a decent wine shop as the highlights, and I always came away with some fun condiments. Live fish, too, if I remember correctly. And it's huge.  I'd trade my local Trader Joe's for it any day.

    Have you been to Idylwilde Farm in Acton, MA? It's no Central Market, but probably the closest we will get to it in the Boston area.


  7. whoa, i don't think i can top that, but.....

    we thought we'd walk in the door and there would be people who all sort of were like us, but when we got in they were all red necks and lumberjacks and i thought we must be in the wrong state if not the wrong planet, and they were all EATING THE SAME THING!

    And that was: thick gloppy white sauced dryish meat--creamed chip beef on toast


    Ah, yes. SOS. I remember it well.


  8. What the teams can do is very much controlled by the local Board of health and the Festival Organizer. I've organized a number of State Championships, judged in them, and competed in them. In general, the teams cook way more than they need to turn in to the judges, and would love to give out samples. They mostly don't have ServeSave certification, and many towns require that in order to either vend or hand out samples. In addition, many contests do not want teams passing out free food that will compete with the food being sold.

    The tack to take, is to chat up a team, discuss barbecue, and ask questions about what worked well. If a team asks you into their tent as a friend, rules don't apply.

    I'll agree with the comments on Jack McDavid's food. I've eaten at his restaurant in Philly and sampled his vendings at several contests in New England. It is very good for a vendor. That said, a good team on a good day will blow away any vendor. You just need to hook up with them.


  9. Unfortunately the only place I can find woods other than oak, hickory, or mesquite is at a specialty barbecue place such as BBQs Galore, but if there is one in your area it is worth the trouble.

    Fruit orchards are always a good place to check, and so are tree trimmers. Mesquite is a good grilling wood, but is quite nasty for smoking. I prefer pecan over hickory. they are similar in flavor, with pecan being milder. Oak, apple, cherry and pecan are my preferred woods. It depends on what is native to your location.


  10. I'm in! I've made my donation. If folks want to do some serious barbecue, I can tow down my trailer mounted Klose pit. The cooking chamber is six feet long and two feet wide so it will more than accomodate anything folks want to smoke.

    If folks want to do serious stuff like butts and briskets, it will mean starting the cook on Saturday evening and staying up all night tending the fire, and perhaps drinking a few beers. I'm coming from Concord, MA which is a pretty good drive. I won't bring the pit unless some serious interest is expressed.


  11. I have a weber bullet, but I wanted to try dry smoking a pork shoulder because a few of the books I have read say that the water smoker is too moist to get good shoulder. Having tried back to back bullet vs. dry shoulders I would have to say I kind of agree. The dry smoking pulls a lot more fat out of the shoulder and yielded an impressive smoke ring compared to the bullet.

    A trick that some people are doing with the WSM is to use sand covered with a layer of foil in the water pan. Be sure to leave enough room for the fat to collect. You can also replace the WSM water pan with a Brinkman charcoal pan for greater capacity.

  12. I'll add a few comments.

    I'm not a fan of mopping barbecue of any kind. It tends to wash the rub off. I use a spray bottle spritzer containing a mix of 50% apple juice concentrate and 50% cider vinegar. This will carmelize to a beautiful dark golden hue when smoking at a low (225F) temperature. Too much smoke will blacken things to the point the spritzing is over ridden.

    Six hours is a good approximation for spare ribs, but the ribs are done when they are done. Every slab will cook somewhat differently. I think that St. Louis trimmed spares make a nicer presentation, and do that for smaller gatherings. I cook the trimmings and cut them into "knuckle bones" for an appetizer.

    I don't use it, but the 3-2-1 method is popular with a lot of folks. That's 3 hours in the smoker, 2 hours wrapped in foil with a bit of liquid, in the smoker, and finally the last hour unwrapped in the smoker to firm up the meat.

    I use hardwood lump charcoal as my heat source, and a few fist sized chunks of smoke wood over the first few hours. I like apple and oak, and pecan when I can find it. I like the taste of cherry, but it darkens the meat surface more than I prefer.

    I think that parboiling/braising ribs cooks out flavor and over-tenderizes them. If it works for you, I'll never say you are wrong.


  13. That said, I'd strongly advise looking at something other than a kettle; I don't understand the Webermania that's rampant in North America these days.

    It's because that people who have them, love them. Weber set the standard of excellence for many years.

    I've not found the lack of adjustable grill height to be a problem. I spread the coals out so that I have a nice thick coal bed at one end that tapers off into progressivly thinner layers. The down side of that is that it limits the amount of food you can cook at one time. You may need to cook in batches for a large party. My current kettle is a 22 1/2" One touch. A single lever controls all three intake vents at the same time.

    Lump charcoal does take a toll on the one touch vent fins. They need to be replaced every three or four years. The good news is that they are not expensive, are available at some hardware and grill stores, and directly from Weber.

    For a while, Weber offered a rotissery insert for the 22 1/2" kettle. I got one when they first came out and am glad I did. It was $100 well spent considering the amount of times I use it.

    My other charcoal grill is an oval "Patio Classic". It is also of excellent construction. I bought it as a backup grill because I got an excellent price on it. I find I use both grills interchangebly. I can burn a hotter fire in the Weber bacause of a better venting mechanism, but I rarely need to do that.


  14. I can remember the Galloping Gourmet mentioning something similar  on his show about 33 years ago...

    I had to dig through some boxes in the basement to recover this :angry:The Complete Galloping Gourmet Cookbook Copyright 1972. 1977 Printing.

    Cut potatoes into 1/8" (3.5mm) slices.

    1. Soak in warm water with a piece of lemon for an hour.

    2. Cook at 350F (177C) for 10 minutes.

    3. cook at 450F (232C) for 3 minutes until crisp and golden brown.

    It appears to be a three stage process, but only the last two involve high heat.

    Edited to add slice thickness.


  15. So -- what do I need to know about roasting pork to make it "Philly Style". Anybody?

    I think you will be better off with country style ribs, boneless if you can get them. They are cuts from the shoulder, but available in much smaller quantities. Also they will cook faster because of greater surface area. I'd cook them is a crock pot or a 250F oven until they start to fall apart. A pork loin will just not be the same.

    If you end up using a loin, roast in a 350F oven to an internal temperature of 145 to 150. Beyond that it will dry out. 145 pork will be slightly pink. Slice thinly and serve.


  16. To turn the tables, however:  I imagine that in New England, Famous Dave's would be considered fantastic barbecue.  And in that region, it probably would be.  (I see they plan to open in Saugus.  Wonder if it will be anywhere near the Hilltop Steak House, if that place is still around?)

    Hilltop is still around. They even have a second place in Braintree.

    Actually there is good barbecue to be had in New England. Uncle Pete's in East Boston, Jake's Boss in Jamaica Plain, Fireflys in Marlboro, Jake's and Bison County, both in Waltham. Then, there is the New England Barbecue Society NEBS for those seriously interested in barbecue.

    I still haven't been able to find a good cheese steak, though.


  17. Inspired by a Tapas article in the NYT, "Dining In" section 12/29/04, Linda and I had a Tapas potluck today. We invited three other couples and asked each to bring three Tapas, with an emphasis that the portions should be small, only a few forkfulls per person. we started out with


    Olives, roasted peppers, marinated artichoke hearts (NYT) and mellon with prosuitto.

    We had crab balls


    Baby potatoes with saffron mayonaise (NYT)








    Scallops wrapped in pasta, sangria


    and, frozen mango souffle for dessert


  18. I finally made it to Houston on Friday. I want to thank everyone for their suggestions. First of all I got his Zip code wrong, that was his ofice Zip. He lives in the Memorial area so that changed a few places we went to. I was picked up at 11:00 a.m. and we went back to his house to get his wife and my youngest (four year old) grandson.

    Off to lunch at Sushi Jin, Memorial Drive and Dairy Ashford. It was an enjoyable lunch and we were entertained by the grandson eating sticky rice with chopsticks. He sampled some tuna and salmon shashimi.

    Dinner was at Pappadeaux, Hwy 10 and Katy Freeway. It was a great place for kids, and they were excited by the Mardi Gras beads they were given. The six yer old was along this time. My son and I started with sharing a dozen Gulf oysters. It was probably not the best place to go for oysters. I had fried catfish that was excellent, my son has sausage and seafood gumbo along with crawfish etoufee, and his wife had pepper shrimp. The kids both ordered chicken fingers. The four year old crashed and burned just as his food arrived and slept through dinner. We had taken a long walk on the "Bayou" (boy do you Texans have a sense of humor) that afternoon and I guess we wore him out.

    We started Saturday early with a trip to the Klose BBQ pit factory. Just my son and the six year old were along this time. Then off to Central Market. That place is amazing, and neither my son nor I had every been. We spent about three hours touring and buying food. My grandson was a great sport about this. We had lunch at Good Company BBQ, Kirby and W. Park. I had a chopped brisket sandwich which I thought was excellent for commercial BBQ. MY son had the hot link and rib 2 meat combo and my grandson had ribs. We droped the grandson off at home and we went shopping for a BBQ pit.

    My son decided to economize and bought an offset smoker at BBQ Galore. We spent Saturday afternoon putting it together and doing a first burn to season it. We had a light dinner. Raspberry chipotle jam and cream cheese on crackers, and from Central Market, Parmigiano Regianna, Parma ham, and garlic salami.

    The ribs for tomorrow are St Louis spares. we are also smoking two kinds of chicken sausage, artichoke and pepper jack and all are from Central Market. We are taking the food to a Superbowl party.


  19. Funny thing. Your barrier to smoking is temperature. My barrier is how to clean the grills. I am about to load the grills, water pan and such up into a big plastic garbage bag, take them to my sister's so I can clean them up. I am in an apartment with these pitiful double sinks that nothing fits in.

    The WSM grills are small enough to fit in my dishwasher. Unfortunately the Weber kettle grill is too large.


  20. My microwave is built in over the cooktop so it does triple duty, exhaust fan, light and microwave. It's great for par-cooking vegetables in a microwave steamer dish. I go through a lot of coffee and a nuked cup is a lot better than one that has been kept on a warmer. Also, some of the other things mentioned.


  21. Has anyone considered using pellitized wood in these ovens?

    This company

    has successfully used the wood pellets in their barbecues and smokers.

    The dealer who sells pellitized wood heating/cooking stoves here in Lancaster is a friend and he sells a huge number of the pellet stoves (he has about 20 styles in his store at any one time) and they develop a lot of heat with much less fuel than the traditional wood stove. 

    He sells only the Energex wood pellets as there are no additives.

    It seems to me that the pellets could be used to do the primary heating of the oven, then the residue raked out and regular wood added late in the heating time, perhaps burning in a different area of the oven, left in the oven to maintain the temperature.

    Traeger BBQ pits have a good reputation on the competition circuit although they are looked down on by some traditional "stick burners". I'm guessing you would need a rather custom installation with auger feed, induction fan, and burn chamber. Even so, you may not be able to produce a high enough temperature.

    Shipping charges for pellets are another issue. The the more readily available ones designed for heating stoves are not rated food grade. The Energex pellets sound fine if they are locally available.


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