Memorial Day Cook

Holy shit – he wrote cook. Yes, unbelievers, I am actually lighting a fire this Memorial Day.

Ya see, my brother Matt and his wonderful wife Amy are stopping by Brooklyn tomorrow. Matt, in case you don’t know, is the pitmaster at Fletcher’s BBQ opening soon in the realty-agent christened Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, USA. Matt honed his skills at RUB BBQ in Manhattan – so I’m telling you, the boy can cook.

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A Post

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
— Theodore Roosevelt

Am I?

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BBQ Restaurants: Blue Smoke

RIb Sampler - Photo:

I don’t usually lead readers to articles on other sites, but I think you’ll enjoy reading this one. Mark Maynard-Parisi sits down with The Atlantic and reminisces on the beginnings of Blue Smoke, one of Manhattan’s oldest barbecue restaurants, where it is today and where it’s going in the future. It’s a great read.

Bringing Barbecue to Manhattan: On 10 Years Running Blue Smoke

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Cook Book Reviews: The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food From My Frontier

One of my favorite things to do is to peruse cookbooks. I rarely use them for cooking anymore, I use them for inspiration. I don’t like rules. I’m not one to read directions.

Recently, HarperCollins offered me two copies of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Food From My Frontier. One was for me to review, the other to give away to a reader.  Well, things didn’t quite turn out that way.

Last month, I ran Grillin’ On The Bay which is NYC’s original barbecue contest, which included a new category this year, the Nancee Gell Memorial Award. This award is in memory of Nancee, who cooked as The Purple Turtle Caters on the competition barbecue circuit. Nancee and Greg were the living image of what competitive barbecue teams strive to be. They were loving, giving  and completely open. If you needed to know anything about how to cook, Nancee and Greg would help you out.  My best and worst memories from the circuit can be tied to Nancee.

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Back to Basics: Barbecue Beef Back Ribs

So, I lit a fire the other day. I whipped out my trusty Weber Smokey Mountain, loaded it up with some Kingsford and chunks of cherry and oak and let it burn. I tried a new method of lighting the fire that really pleased me. Maybe it was just the fact that I was building a fire, but I was pleased.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had picked up 16lbs of beef back ribs; well, I finally got my chance to cook them. As my cooker was getting settled temperature wise, I skinned the ribs and rubbed them down. I made new rub of Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and a little cumin. I have no idea what the measurements of any ingredient is. It’s all by eye and feel.

I put a generous amount of rub and all sides of the ribs and let them sit out on the counter for about an hour as I cursed and crashed through the house as I unsuccessfully looked for my thermometers. “How as I going to cook this if I can’t find my thermometers,” I cried. Barbecue is all about temperature control. After what seemed like hours, I abandoned my search. “Screw it,” I thought, “I’m going boy scout.”

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BBQ Contests: Grillin’ On The Bay and The Brooklyn Chili Smack Down

Hey folks. I’m exhausted. For the last couple of nights, I haven’t been sleeping much at all. You who know me, know that I usually don’t sleep more than 4 hours a night, but I think I’ve slept four hours in the last four days. Of those four hours of sleep, they’ve been peppered with some very strange dreams which included visits from long, lost friends and family and a murder cover up scheme.

I’m attributing my abbreviated sleep schedule to this year’s Grillin’ On The Bay and The Brooklyn Chili Smack Down. NYC’s original BBQ contest was held yesterday on the ground of St. Mark school in beautiful Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn. Once again I didn’t take any pictures.  But,  I’m sure I can get some from some of my friends.

Here’s the results of this year’s Grilin’ On The Bay and The Brooklyn Chili Smack Down…

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BBQ Class: Learning From A Master

One of the earliest cookbooks I purchased that was completely barbecue related was  Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue Sauces. It’s still one of my favorites and one I turn to often.

One of the reasons I enjoy Paul’s book is that it’s not just a “here’s a recipe – make it,” cookbook. This book is much more of a teaching and motivational cookbook. And yes, I can call him Paul. We’ve known each other for years. I, along with Matt Fisher and Andrew Fischel of RUB brought Paul to NYC way back on October 21, 2006 for his first ever cooking class in New York

Chef Kirk comes to the forefront in this book. Chef Paul the mentor is ever-present on every page. While he does provide “recipes” a lot of the book is dedicated to technique. He provides a list of ingredients and then walks you through the steps to create. What flavors work together? Which oppose each other? How do you get the combination that achieves the flavor profile you’re seeking? This book walks you through all that and it’s very much how Paul teaches his class.

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BBQ Sauces: Professor Becker’s BBQ Sauce

So, I lit a fire, isn’t it good? Yes, yes it was.

On Saturday evening, on the coldest night so far in the fall of 2011, I and my old friend Dan, lit a fire. I know that for most of my friends and neighbors, the grilling season is long over, but I’m funny that way. The grilling and barbecue season never ends for me. It’s not defined by weather, I contemplated cooking in the snow storm last week, it’s defined by desire. Saturday, for the first time in a long while, I had that desire.

A little while ago, I was sent two bottles of Professor Becker’s BBQ Sauce to try out.  I’ve never heard of Professor Becker, nor his legendary chicken barbecues, but the arrival of this sauce became an excuse for a party.

Old friends, a roaring fire and a new barbecue sauce to try out. Who could ask for a better way to spend the evening?

According to the press release..

Walter G. Becker was a devoted and adored professor in the Poultry Science Department of Farmingdale State College for more than four decades. But perhaps his greater claim to fame was when he traded in his professorial garb for a pair of overalls and an apron, and left his chalk at the blackboard and picked up his spatula, basting brush and tongs as the head chef at Farmingdale’s legendary annual campus barbecues.

Now, Prof. Becker’s sauce is available to the masses in 11 oz. bottles. Each bottle sells for approximately $3.79 each. Proceeds from the sale of each bottle will go to establish a scholarship fund in Prof. Becker’s name and other Farmingdale Alumni Association programs.

So, on this cold evening, in a location about a 10 minute drive from the Farmingdale campus, we glazed our grilled chicken and steaks with Prof. Becker’s hot and mild sauces. The meat was then served to 10 folks aged from 49 to 7. The verdict? It was a hit. Both sauces are tangy, crisp and tomato-ey. The mild sauce is a bit sweet for my tastes, but I was the only one complaining. The hot sauce was too hot for some palettes, but I enjoyed. This sauce worked better with the chicken, than it did with the beef, but would probably be ideal for pork.

But, this sauce was developed for chicken…

Prof. Becker had been around chickens since his childhood – he raised them to sell their eggs – it was natural that not only did he teach poultry science and start a poultry club on campus, but that he would be enlisted to create an annual campus-wide barbecue at Homecoming with chicken, made on grills built by the college’s industrial arts students and faculty, as the main course. And with an entire campus to please, Prof. Becker set out to create the best barbecue sauce he could for this chicken. He tested dozens of recipes, until he struck the formula for which he became known, related Walter, Jr., who by age 11 was his father’s helper.

“One of my jobs was to take the hot chickens off the spits and put them in giant buckets until we were ready to cut them up,” he recalled. “My father always said that one of the secrets to his great barbecue chickens was letting them sit in the bucket with their juices running on top of each other for about 20 minutes before cutting them up.”

Now, that’s an interesting technique!

Professor Becker’s BBQ sauce is only available on line at Pick some up today. All proceeds go to support SUNY Farmingdale.

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Why I Barbecue

I get asked this question a lot. Why barbecue?  Well, why not?

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A Taste Of Sheepshead Bay

I didn’t light a fire last night.  We spent the entire day and a good part of the evening putting the final touches on a project that has been consuming my time lately; A Taste of Sheepshead Bay.

On October 27th, I along with and Il Fornetto Restuarant are presenting A Taste of Sheepshead Bay.A Taste of Sheepshead Bay is a gathering of 21 of our local food purveyors, from restaurants to bakeries to candy makers to cooking schools, all gathered under one roof.  They will be serving up samples of their best dishes for the residents of the Bay and our friends.

When you arrive, you’ll be feasting on dishes like Miso roasted black cod, braised lamb shanks over truffled mashed potatoes, mussels stuffed with pine nuts and currants, home made cheese cake, baklava, samsas, stuffed mushrooms, eggplant rollatini, Buffalo wings, heroes, flank steak, Chinese roast pork, mango madness rolls, hand made chocolates  and much, much more.

Information on the event can be found here. I hope you can make it.  It’s going to be a blast

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