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  1. Processed foods, including frozen meals and shelf stable meals have been linked to a higher incidence of cancer. I personally really enjoy exploring ingredients and techniques and have been known to make most everything from scratch. I even have a grain grinder attachment for my mixer, so that I can make fresh whole grain flours.
  2. Brisket is the test for this upcoming weekend, I had been waiting for local markets to get them in for St Patrick's day and the price just dropped about a dollar a pound. I am recalling how much my family enjoyed meals where my father grilled flank steak which had been marinated in teriyaki sauce, the thin type. My plan for brisket is a one hour marinade plus injections of Kikkoman regular teriyaki. Then a basic rub of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, white pepper, salt, and a little sugar. (the rub helps build bark) At the very end, after slicing, I will brush on a little of the thick Kikkoman teriyaki glaze very lightly. Burnt ends may or may not happen this week. I may cut the brisket in half and run tests a day or two apart. It's pricey testing and a LOT of food. I'll be doing more thighs on Thursday, a couple days from now. My current orange chicken flavor profile is popular with my patron and his family and friends. I have no idea how it's going to go over with other people. This is the first year for this event here, maybe that will help me with a non-traditional flavor. Besides, oranges are a local food here. Anyway, flavorwise, I am simply marinating in teriyaki, smoking with no rub (no need for bark), then dunking in strained and heated orange marmalade, and sprinkling on a tiny amount of 5-spice powder as 'pixie dust'. I trim and remove skins, then marinade for an hour with Kikkoman thin teriyaki sauce. Then I bake in a mini-loaf pan for a couple of hours, turning halfway through. Unlike the link showing how to cook the thighs, which shows putting a pat of butter in each cavity of the pan, plus a pat of butter on top of the (upside-down) bottom of each piece. The woman swears that the butter is what gives the bite-through effect, and I need to find another solution as butter on chicken is NOT kosher. I will possible try doing half with stock and half with oil in the pan to braise the fat. The flavor part is working very well, every tester has loved it. They just don't love the skin, and it isn't performing the way I'd like it to. My egg-white wash under the skins does perform better than thighs without it. Sometimes, when prepping chicken -it takes about 15 minutes per thigh, I dream about thumbing my nose at the judges and just preparing the oysters (which are usually discarded for competitions) with a crispy nickel-sized disk of rendered skin on top like a tiny hat. -Making it really just about one bite. With my luck, that will be considered too avant-garde this year, but, status-quo 5 years from now. Turkey tests will begin in about 2 weeks.
  3. HERE's a link showing what is fairly common in cooking the chicken now. Note the photos of the final product with a bite out of it. The judges will take one bite and they expect their teeth to go straight through. Any hint of the skin being pulled off the meat and you lose serious points. I suspect that crispy skin simply will not do this, it has to be braised. I have been scraping the skin then jaccarding it and attaching with an egg white wash. I ran one test with olive oil instead of butter/margarine, and it was ok, I plan on getting some almond oil to try adding flavor. I guess I should test the chicken stock lots of places say is a substitute for the butter/margarine, but never actually use it. I did make some great ribs yesterday, so, not many worries there. I am using an Americanized sauce that is vaguely Chinese. In a previous test, I made them too spicy by using a rub consisting of: ¼cup white pepper, ¼cup dry ginger, 1TBSP kosher salt, 1TBSP brown sugar. It was actually spicier than I thought possible without any chile peppers. So, I've changed it to be equal amounts of each ingredient, by weight - I decided that I needed to get serious about getting things perfect.
  4. I have been tasked with putting together a team for a new kosher barbecue event in Arizona, happening sometime later this year. The event was supposed to be in mid-April, but the venue decided to cancel. The organizers are busy looking for a new venue, and have assured us that this will happen. Many details for the event are not quite settled yet, so, I am trying to prepare for all sorts of contingencies beyond the usual concerns about putting out good food. What is known is that we will be following the KCBS kosher rules. As far as I can tell, there were 10-12 such events held last year across the US. So, it's a pretty small world. I don't think there's a kosher championship ladder like the other barbecue events have, either. I think it's a good time to get in, get practice and see where it takes me. Now, I've been reading and watching videos online with all sorts of info on smoking/cooking for competitions. I have watched some of the TV shows, and one documentary. It's been kind of a mixed bag in terms of usefulness. No one has posted much about kosher barbecue, so I am making changes to recipes and procedures and running a lot of tests. I currently have access to my home kitchen which is small but adequate, the stove is electric and unremarkable and about 7 years old. It does maintain temperature well, and can be set to run anywhere from 140°F to 550°F. I also have access to an outdoor kitchen at a friend's place, with a relatively large charcoal type grill. At most of the kosher barbecue events the event organizers provide smokers/grills plus meats and many ingredients to ensure that everything is truly kosher. If needed, my team sponsor is prepared to purchase a grill/smoker which I will need to research once I know I will need it. I should note that I am not Jewish and did not grow up around any kosher households, so I am also studying some of the finer points about running a kosher kitchen and learning about kosher ingredients. Modern competition barbecue is an odd mix of modernist techniques and ingredients, right alongside ordinary-folk foods like margarine, and bottled sauces. For reference, the 4 categories for kosher events are: Chicken, Beef Ribs, Turkey, and Beef Brisket -to be served in that order. So far, I have been running smokeless tests on chicken and beef ribs. Mostly learning to trim the chicken thighs (what a nightmare!) and seeing what happens at certain temperatures and times. I know things will be different with real smoking happening, but I want to see some baseline results so that I know what to strive for. I do have a bunch of thermometers, and have got some basic ideas about writing a competition timeline. The chicken perplexes me in several ways. First, some of the competition cooks recommend boning while others recommend bone-in. Second, I see some folks injecting and brining, while others maybe do a quick half hour marinade, and even others are full-on modernist with citric acid under the skin, etc. Third, the braise vs non- braise chicken where some people load up their pan with a pound of butter, margarine or a couple cups of chicken stock while others do not. Fourth, The bite-through skin is driving me insane. Some people swear by transglutaminase to reattach the skin for a better bite. Catch is, only some types are kosher, and I can see having issues explaining it. I have tested an egg white egg wash which seems to attach the skin pretty well without showing. I think I need to go for longer times to get more tender skin. Today I did a pan (with olive oil) of six as follows: one hour at 220°, one hour under foil at 230°, then glazed and 20 minutes on a rack at 350°. It was only partly bite-though and the taste-testers wanted more crispiness. I tried showing them pictures and explained that it wasn't ever going to be crispy, that we're looking to go even softer. I am going to run tests on longer cook periods and see how it goes. I want to ask people about the whole swimming in margarine thing which is in voque right now. people claim it makes the chicken juicy. I know that meat is mostly all about temperatures. I can see how the margarine acts like duck fat in a confit and helps prevent some oven-drying after hours and hours in the oven, but, in the end, isn't it just an insulator? I've been making corned beef and other brisket dishes for over 20 years, so, I think I have a good handle on that. I will practice it in a couple of weeks. I simply don't need as much help on this item. The turkey scares me. On TV, I see people dunking it in butter before serving it. This obviously is not kosher, and I don't want to do it with margarine I don't want to present anything in a competition made with margarine, there has to be something better! -Either cook the bird better or find a better dip, like maybe a flavorful nut oil or a sauce. That said, unlike ribs or brisket, it is not traditional to dunk turkey in a sauce. I went with some friends to a chain place called Dickies to do a little research and their turkey breast was odd and kind of hammy. Not like Virginia ham, more like ham lunchmeat. It was very moist and unlike any turkey I have ever eaten. Ok, I admit to not being very fond of turkey, so my experiences with it have been a bit limited. I am assuming it was brined. Given the limited amount of time we will have (about a day and a half) to cook, I am planning on just cooking the breast. Other than that, I am open to suggestions. The internet has been least informative on the topic of turkey. People's videos and such just show rubbing the whole bird and letting it roast for a few hours. Any tips at all would be appreciated. Whew! Thanks for reading all of this, I look forward to any advice you can give.
  5. The barbecue thing is very recent. A person I know is trying to start a kosher event, but recently lost the venue. He's part of the group that runs 8-9 kosher events nationwide (US) with sanctioning from KCBS. The kosher events are much stricter than regular competition barbecues. In the existing events, equipment and meats are provided by the event organizers. This way they know it's all kosher. They also have longer setup periods because a rabbi must approve all other food brought onsite and all tools brought in must be koshered under supervision. Even food brought onsite for competitors to eat ourselves must be approved and kosher meat/pareve no dairy. Since I do not yet know what sort of equipment I will be issued at the event, I have been winging it at home and a small outdoor kitchen a friend has graciously allowed me to use as a test kitchen. Since everything must be kosher I have a lot of questions about competition barbecue generally, and kosher cooking in particular. There's also the issue of changing styles and tastes in the barbecue world. Winning sauces from 5 years ago are no longer good enough. I am wondering if I should continue the existing competition barbecue thread, or start a new one for kosher competitions? And, if so, since things change so quickly, should I put the year in the title?
  6. Long time lurker here, I finally have some questions to ask! (about competition barbecue) I live in AZ, on the West side of Phoenix, and I love to cook. I attended culinary school about a decade ago, but never really got a permanent job in the industry. Anyway, I look forward to learning more about lots of food topics.
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