I’ve got a cookout scheduled for Monday and wanted to get my BBQ sauce game on ahead of time. I made a batch of my Sweet Hot Root Beer BBQ Sauce using Abita Root Beer. I prefer Abita for the flavor but also because they use cane sugar instead of corn syrup. If you don’t have Abita where you live, look for a root beer made from cane sugar.
I also used Penzy’s Black and Red spice. It is a mix of black pepper and cayenne pepper. If you don’t have it, use 1 teaspoon black pepper and up to 1 teaspoon cayenne, depending on how much heat you want. The heat will mellow during the long simmer, so do your taste testing then before deciding on more cayenne.
Like any good Southern gal, I keep my BBQ sauce in a mason jar. It doesn’t stain like plastic can and is easy to pour out what you need. The rich, sweet heat of this sauce goes well on most all kinds of meat. I’ll be serving it with beef brisket but it is terrific on ribs, too.
Sweet Hot Root Beer BBQ Sauce
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 1 large onion, chopped fine 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 cup ketchup 3 tablespoons tomato paste One 12-ounce bottle Abita Root Beer ½ cup cider vinegar ⅓ cup Worcestershire sauce ½ cup packed dark brown sugar 2 teaspoons Penzys Black and Red Spice 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onion until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Add all the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, until the flavors have blended. Drop heat to low and continue cooking until the sauce thickens, 20 to 30 minutes more. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and more pepper if desired.
Let the sauce cool for about 10 minutes or so. Puree in a blender to smooth. Let cool completely before using – I think it tastes better the next day anyway. The sauce will keep, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
I picked up a 3lb vacuum pack of beef riblets because I wanted beef but not a steak. I also didn’t want to have to wait as long as something like a brisket or shoulder would take to smoke.
I started with the rub. I wanted one with no sugar as that doesn’t taste as good on beef as it does on pork. For brisket, I usually use a dalmatian rub of equal parts salt and black pepper but I wanted to put some additional flavor on the ribs. Once I put together granulated garlic and onion and some paprika, it needed a little something morish, so I added dry mustard. Excellent! You could put in some cayenne but the ribs I’m using are thin and I don’t want too much heat.
I cooked them in my Weber kettle grill over indirect with chunks of hickory wood for the smoke. Remember to give yourself plenty of time – smoking time on the grill was three hours but you need to add another hour of rest.
Definitely use a meat thermometer to check the internal temp but you know they’re getting near done when the meat has pulled away from the ends of the bone.
This is what you’re looking for – nice color, they crack a little at the bend and there is at least a finger width of bone showing. If you’ll be patient for just a little longer, you’ll have tender, juicy meat with a lovely flavor from the rub and the smoke.
After the long rest, they were very good and toothsome! Luckily no one else was around to see me eat the whole thing.
Smoking Beef Ribs on the Grill
¼ cup kosher salt ¼ cup black pepper 1 tablespoons garlic powder 1 tablespoons onion powder 1 tablespoons paprika 1 tablespoon dry mustard
3 lb rack of beef ribs
Combine the rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Rinse the meat and pat dry. Remove the silver skin from the ribs. Loosen with a dull knife and use a paper towel to pull the membrane off. Coat both sides of the beef with the rub and set in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Store any unused rub in an airtight container.
Remove the meat from fridge and set on counter while the grill is prepped.
Prepare the grill for indirect cooking and to last 3 hours. I do this by putting a ring of unlit coals around my Weber kettle grill, making sure all the briquettes are touching each other. I fill a chimney with charcoal and, once the coals become ashy, I spread them on two sides of the grill, layered on top of some unlit coals. This way, they light the coals beneath them and slowly ignite the rest so the grill should maintain 225-250 degrees F for at least three hours.
Put a drip pan in the center of the grill and add water to the pan. This will keep things moist while the magic happens. Place the rack of ribs bone side down in the center of the grill. Add dampened hickory chunks to the fire to smoke. Let the ribs cook until they reach an internal temperature of 200-205 degrees F. Carry over temperature will bring them to 210, which is ideal for beef ribs. Take ribs off the heat and tent with aluminum foil. Let ribs rest for at least an hour before eating. If it will be longer than an hour before eating, place the ribs in a cooler lined with towels.
You can cheat once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees and wrap them in aluminum foil or butcher’s paper and let them finish cooking in an oven at 235 degrees F. While keeping them uncovered on the grill will allow for the best bark, I totally understand using the Texas crutch (and I have done so plenty of times myself).
While I don’t tend to use bbq sauce, the time to do so is when you wrap the ribs or for the final hour of cooking. Give them a generous baste and it will allow for another layer of flavor. Try my coca-cola bbq sauce. I avoid commercial sauces as they have a lot of sugar which can burn and add a bitter taste.
I was lucky to get invited to a tour of the Southwest Regional Flood Protection Authority facility on the West Bank with NOSHA and the local Sierra Club group. Absolutely fascinating about how much storm surge they stop and how much water they can pump out and how fast – to fill the Superdome from top to bottom would only take an hour and 45 minutes with their 11 pumps!
The building isn’t much more than the smokers and kitchen with a bunch of picnic tables under a metal roof. They are mainly open for lunch during the week. The food is good and comes out fast.
I had the pulled pork sandwich. It comes with the slaw on the sandwich but I had them put that on the side. Tender, juicy meat with a good flavor that hardly needed sauce. The mac and cheese was very tasty but a little grainy.
They’ve got a good selection of things besides sandwiches if you wanted to get a rack of ribs, whole or half chicken, turkey or brisket. They offer meat by the pound to take home or have meals for 10, 20, 30 people catered in addition to eating there in the open air. Check out their menu for the full list of options.
So, next time you’re over on the West Bank and want good food, fast – go to LA 23 BBQ
Oh, and if you open carry, you get a free drink!
LA 23 BBQ 9661 Highway 23 Belle Chasse, LA 70037 (504) 657-3693 11am to 4pm Tuesday-Saturday
May is National BBQ Month and I’m starting it right with a beef brisket on the grill. On May 1st, I covered a 9lb beef brisket in a Dalmatian rub (equal parts kosher salt and black pepper) and wrapped it in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge overnight.
Today, I pulled it out of the fridge to come to room temperature. I then followed the ATK method (outlined here) and lined Dad’s Weber Grill with a charcoal snake and lit one side for a slow, 5 hour burn with a couple hunks of hickory for lovely smoke. I placed a pan of water in the center of the grill to keep things nice and humid in there.
When it hit the stall, around 160-170 degrees F, I wrapped it well in aluminum foil and let it continue to cook to 200 degrees F, about 3 hours more. Timing here is all estimates based on weight of the meat and temperature of the grill. Rule of thumb is it takes about 1 hour 15 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F.
Once you remove the brisket from the grill, leave it wrapped for at least an hour and up to three to rest and let the juices redistribute and the meat to relax. I put it in a cooler in order to lessen the temptation to snack on it during this time.
Slice against the grain and give the eaters a choice of cuts from the flat or “lean” portion or the point or “fatty” portion. Anyway you slice it is a truly mouthwatering experience.
Oscar Mayer is encouraging people to get outside while maintaining a social distance of 12 hot dogs apart to cook for a cause. Bring your grill to the front yard and cookout with your neighbors while giving back! The company will donate one million meals to Feeding America, and each time someone shares their cookout on social media with the hashtag #FrontYardCookout, Oscar Mayer will donate an additional meal to the nonprofit organization, for up to one million extra meals.
Our cross country drive took us through Kansas City. What would a visit to the home of its own style of BBQ be complete without a stop at Arthur Bryant’s place?
I got the burnt ends sandwich. Loads of tender meat over white bread and a huge portion of fries. The only problem was I couldn’t taste the char or smoke on the meat through all the sauce. The brisket was fall apart tender; I just don’t usually put so much sauce on good meat.
The baby back ribs were tender to the tooth, with a beautiful smoke line. Very good ribs so I’d definitely go for the larger slabs, especially if other members of your table insist on sampling them.
Of course, there is a big emphasis here on their sauces – they’ve even got a framed cartoon about it:
And the sauce was tasty. It is the epitome of what I think of when I think of Kansas City Style. The sandwich came with the original sauce. There are three types on the tables. Brian liked the Hot and Spicy best – he thought it was a perfect combination of flavors and that it made even the white bread sing.
I can tell you the best time to visit seems to be during a Kansas City Chiefs game. The staff might be a little distracted but there was no line. Even distracted, they were friendly to newbies and quick with getting the food onto our plates so we could dig in.
The interior could use a bit of a cleaning but all in all, I’d return to sample more of their menu.
For my Labor Day weekend grilling, I’m taking advantage of the local sales on whole chickens and bags of lemons.
I’ve always been a fan of lemon pepper seasoning on seafood, especially fish and shrimp and my dad loves it on his steaks, whether venison or beef. But don’t forget that it also goes really well on chicken, too. You can buy a jar of the seasoning from the store or make your own. I use this version when making my own.
Because Michelle made a special request, I’m serving the chicken with a broccoli casserole and some grilled zucchini with lemon salt. Recipe for the zucchini was found on the Pioneer Woman’s website.
Butterfly chicken by cutting out the backbone and the wings. Reserve the backbone and wings for stock. Place remaining chicken in a zip top bag.
Zest two of the lemons and then place the zest and juice from three lemons in a bowl. You want to have about a 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Whisk together with the olive oil, garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning. Pour the marinade over the chicken and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours, occasionally turning the chicken to make sure it is fully covered.
Remove from marinade and pat dry. Sprinkle both sides with remaining tablespoon of lemon pepper seasoning.
Set up the grill for indirect cooking. Place chicken on the cool side of the grates with the legs facing the coals. Grill chicken for approximately 60 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Let rest 5 minutes before carving.
For the last 15 minutes of grilling, place the final lemon, cut in half on the grill. Once you’ve plated the chicken for serving, squeeze some of the grilled lemon on each piece for a bright hit of lemon flavor.
I ordered a sandwich – the chopped brisket with a side of roasted garlic mac and cheese. There was a spicy rub on the brisket that was very tasty but a little spicy. The heat was cut by the coleslaw that was served on the sandwich. I wasn’t particularly a fan of the mac and cheese but that’s mainly because I didn’t think it wasn’t cheesy enough.
Charlotte got her pulled pork plate with baked beans and garlic mac and cheese. She tried all the sauces (Jerk, Carolina, House) and like the house bbq sauce best.
Thomas got his pulled pork with the spicy green onion sausage. His sides were the potato salad and baked beans. He was definitely a member of the clean plate club.
Blue Oak BBQ has a full bar but I stuck with soda.
There was a long line that extended out the door but it didn’t take more than ten minutes to reach the front and order. We waited just a short time for a table (the tables outside are cooled with misting fans but the theater was not air conditioned, so I wanted to stay inside). There were a ton of people who had ordered ahead and just came in and grabbed brown paper sacks of meaty goodness.
The staff was fast to bus tables and bring out the food – all of which is smoked in their on-site pit. I always judge a bbq joint by the smell of smoke and meats and this one place is wonderfully perfumed for carnivores.
For the size of the crowd and the lines, everything ran smoothly and everyone had a smile on their face.
I would definitely return to give the rest of their menu a try.
I tip my hat to my brother-in-law, Wayne, who made such a delicious bacon wrapped pork loin that I decided to get in on the fun. I choose a chicken as I had one thawing.
I didn’t have a can of beer so I drank a can of Coke and filled it halfway with water and dropped in a couple of garlic cloves. I went with the “beer can up the butt” method as that was the easiest way to get the bird in a position for the wrapping. It also keeps the grill environment moist during the cook.
Use your favorite chicken rub for the dry brine. I used my Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub. You’re looking for a good amount of kosher salt as you’re basically jumpstarting a breakdown of the protein structure. This denaturing makes the meat hold onto more water so your final result will be a tender and juicy bird. I don’t generally rinse the brine off but, because the bacon is salty, I brushed off as much as I could before wrapping.
I only had thick cut bacon in the house, so I went out and bought a cheap pack of thin for this recipe and it shrank so much it pulled off the toothpicks. It did give plenty of flavor anyway and ended up looking like the chicken was wearing a coat of many colors. The finished resulted looked awesome and tasted delicious. The meat was luscious and juicy with just the right amount of seasoning and a little crunch from the cooked bacon.
Bacon Wrapped Grilled Whole Chicken
4 lb whole chicken, neck and giblets removed
2 tablespoons Rosemary Sage Grilling Rub
1 can beer or soda – drink half the beer or all the soda
2 cloves garlic
1 lb bacon, thin sliced
bunch of toothpicks
Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Use a dry rub to cover the chicken both inside and out. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight but no more than 24 hours.
Remove chicken from fridge and brush off any visible salt. Set aside to dry while you prepare the grill for indirect cooking. Fill and light a charcoal chimney and, once the coals are ashy, pour them around the edge in a horseshoe shape.
Drop the garlic cloves into the half full can of beer (or half filled with water coke can). Work the chicken onto the can by placing the can on a solid surface and setting the back end of chicken over the top of the can. Work it down until it is securely inside. Use the legs to set it up like a tripod and begin the process of draping it in bacon.
Wrap the chicken strip by strip with bacon and secure with toothpicks. Don’t forget the wings Transfer the chicken, with it’s can, to the grill and place it on the center of the grate and drop in some wood chips for smoke.
Cook the chicken for at least an hour or until temperature of the thighs is 175 to 180 degrees F. Remove from the grill and let stand for 10 minutes before removing the can and then carving the bird.
This is an easy (but not quick) recipe for pulled pork. It takes just a few ingredients – a Boston Butt (I prefer bone in), an onion, some salt and a bottle of Abita Root Beer. I love the taste of Abita’s Root Beer but, even more importantly, that it is made with cane sugar and not high-fructose corn syrup.
Slow Cooker Root Beer Pork Butt
6 lb Boston butt
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 large onion, quartered
bottle root beer
Place the onion quarters in the bottom of your slow cooker. Cut off most of the visible fat off the outside of the pork and sprinkle with salt. Place it on the onion layer. Pour over a bottle of root beer.
Set your slow cooker on low and cook for 7 to 10 hours, depending on how hot your slow cooker gets. The pork is done when it reaches 200 degrees F. Remove from liquid and place on a rimmed pan for 20 minutes to cool slightly before pulling apart. Discard the liquid and solids left in the slow cooker.
Serve on buns with root beer bbq sauce (recipe follows) or any favorite barbecue sauce.
Continuing the root beer theme, I’m posting changes to my favorite homemade bbq sauce. This is a rich and spicy sauce that goes well with roast beef as well as pulled pork.
Root Beer BBQ Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 cup ketchup
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 12 ounce bottle root beer (I prefer Abita)
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon hot sauce – I used Louisiana hot sauce
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Keep at a boil for about 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.
Remove from heat. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator for several months or use immediately.
I soaked 10 lbs of chicken leg quarters overnight in a rosemary buttermilk brine:
2.5 quarts of buttermilk
4 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
2 tablespoons kosher salt.
The next day I put on a dry rub that harkens back to that 16th century English folk tune – as the main ingredients are sage, rosemary and thyme. The parsley is added as a final step while the meat rests.
I grilled my chicken over indirect heat for about an hour. The chicken can also be roasted in the oven at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour.