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THE FINE ART OF BBQ FAQ

New & Improved
And Slightly Expanded

The Original BBQ FAQ was created by PlankTonic on the TMF BBQ board in 2001.

BBQ Books

Additional BBQ FAQs, Links, Pages and Tips & Tricks

Equipment
What kinds of smokers are there?
What do I need to know about temperatures - Ambient & Internal?
How can I make my equipment last longer?
What kinds of fuel (charcoal, woods) are best? And when? And what size?
How do I light my smoker?
I'm thinking of getting a natural gas hookup to my (future) deck and buying a natural gas grill. How much hassle would getting this setup be? Is it worth the effort?
C.J.V.'s Brinkman Modifications

Manufacturers

Techniques & Advice
How do you keep the meat from drying out?
How do you feed a bunch of people 25-50 simply?
Can you make jerky in a smoker?
How do I smoke meats? And how can I get a mellow smoke taste that won't overwhelm?
Mastering the Art of Opening Oysters.
How long can you marinade before the chances of sickness (botulism or salmonella) start coming into play?
When is meat done?
Meat & Pit Temps Guide
Tips on Grillin' a Sirloin Roast
Brining 101
How to Build Your Own BBQ Pit or Smoker

Off-Topic but Integral to the BBQ Culture
Barbecuing is the only type of cooking a real man will do.

Barbecue, Grilling & Smoking Recipe Web Sites

TMF's BBQFools Favorite Recipes
Tips on cooking tough meats like venison and elk.
Grades of meat and what they're used for.
Ingredients & Spices
Good Rubs
C.J.V.'s Brisket
C.J.V.'s Beef Fajitas
RipRock's Panic Stricken Chicken
rosebear's BBQ From Jamaica
blackmare's Fire Candy
shawnmc's Pig in the Ground (Using Pork Tenderloins)
uphilldeb's Smoked Fish Brine
Liver & Onions
Amazing All Purpose Marinade
DonnaPawl's Home Brewed Corned Beef
beemerbum's Homemade Pie Crust
blackmare's Homemade Key Lime Pie
The Motley Fool Recipe Board Indexes

Ingredients & Spices



A. BBQ Books

A. The Barbeque! Bible by Steve Raichlen.
B. BBQ Porch Mailing List Members BBQ Book Reading Recommendations.
C. BBQShopper.com's BBQ Books.
D. Book Review by C.J.V.: The Best Recipe Grilling & Barbecue
E. FAQ of the Internet BBQ List BBQ Book Recommendations.
F. Hawgeyes BBQ Books & Videos.
G. The National Barbecue Association (NBBQA) BBQ Bookstore.
H. PepperFool.com's BBQ Books.
I. Pig Out Publications. (Come on, like I need to tell you to check this one out. :-))
J. The Barbecue Store's BBQ Books.
K. The Lexington Collection BBQ Books.
L. TheSmokeRing.com's BBQ Cookbook Reviews.
M. Uncle Steve's BBQ Book Store.

I. Additional BBQ FAQs, Links, Pages and Tips & Tricks

A. BBQ & Grilling FAQs at About.com, Grilling, Smoking, Grills, & Smokers.
B. BBQ Mailing List Survival Guide and Smoke-Cooking FAQ
C. BBQ-Porch FAQ.
D. Bill Wight's BBQ FAQ
E. Fiery-Foods.com's Barbecue Pages.
F. Operation BBQ For Our Troops - Purpose: "To honor those who protect our freedoms, and their loved ones, with the hospitality of the uniquely American meal of BBQ."*
G. RandyQ's Barbecue Ramblings.
H. TheBBQShack.com's BBQ Tips.
I. The Virtual Weber Bullet
J. HowToDoThings Grilling Guide
K. And, Our Very Own How-To BBQ Page!

II. Equipment

A. What kinds of smokers are there?
B. What do I need to know about temperatures- ambient and internal?
C. How can I make my equipment last longer?
D. What kinds of fuel (charcoal, woods) are best? And when? And what size?
E. How do I light my smoker?
F. Buying and Setting Up Natural Gas Grills

III. Manufacturers

Big Green Egg - www.biggreenegg.com
Britt's Barbeque - Jedmaster and Jack’s Old South - www.brittsbarbecue.com
Char-Broil - www.charbroil.com
Cookers and Grills - www.cookersandgrills.com
Cookshack Barbecue & Smoke-Cooking Center - www.cookshack.com
Dalton Grill and Smoke - www.daltongrillandsmoke.com
Gator Barbecue Pits - www.gatorpit.net
Jedmaster Cookers - www.jedmaster.com
J.R. Enterprises - www.jrenterprises.com
Kamado - www.kamado.com
Klose BBQ Pits - www.bbqpits.com
Lang Smokers - www.pigroast.com
Ole Hickory Pits - www.olehickorypits.com
Southern Yankee Bar-B-Q - www.sybbq.com/index.php
Stump's Smokers - www.stumpssmokers.com
Tejas Smokers - www.tejassmokers.com/index.htm
The Brinkmann Corporation - www.brinkmann.net
Traeger Industries - www.traegerindustries.com
Weber Grills - www.weberbbq.com

   Distributors & Suppliers

   Charcoal Grill Depot - www.charcoalgrilldepot.com/charpk.asp
   Grills For All Seasons - www.grillsforallseasons.com
   Hawgeyes BBQ - www.hawgeyesbbq.com
   Outdoor Chef - www.outdoorchef.biz
   Smoke 'n Fire - www.smokenfire.com
   The OutdoorCooker - www.outdoorcooker.com
   The Traeger Store - http://www.traegerstore.com

IV. Techniques & Advice

A. How do you keep the meat from drying out?
B. How do you preserve meat?
C. How do you feed a bunch of people 25-50 simply?
D. How do you keep stuff from sticking to the BBQ? You can use Pam or peanut oil on the grill to keep foods from sticking.
E. Can you make jerky in a smoker?
F. How do I smoke meats? And how can I get a mellow smoke taste that won't overwhelm?
G. Mastering the Art of Opening Oysters
H. Don't even think about putting in contact lenses for a day or three after chopping up habanero peppers.
I. How long can you marinade before the chances of sickness (botulism or salmonella) start coming into play?
J. When is meat done?
K. Numerous How-To Videos available at Epicurious.com. The nine headings include; Baking & Pastry, Eggs, Entertaining, Fish & Shellfish, Fruits and Vegetables, Meat, Pasta, Poultry, and Sauces. (RealPlayer plug-in is required to view the videos.)
L. Meat & Pit Temps Guide
M. Tips on Grillin' a Sirloin Roast
N. Brining 101
O. Intro to Brining: Smoke Like a Pro

V. How to Build Your Own BBQ Pit or Smoker

A. Build Your Own BBQ Pit by Garry's BBQ Pit.
B. Wide World of BBQ Pits by the Lexington Collection.
C. Arizona Barbeque Association's Build Your Own BBQ Pit Page - This section of our site is dedicated to helping those "Do It Yourself"ers to designing and creating their own smokers and grills.*

VI. Off-Topic but Integral to the BBQ Culture

A. How do I light my smoker and impress the neighbors?
B. Barbecuing is the only type of cooking a real man will do.
C. The Gumbo Pages.

VII. Barbecue, Grilling & Smoking Recipe Web Sites

A. 3Men's Barbecue & Grilling Recipes.
B. About.com's The Best Barbecue Joints from around the World.
C. AllRecipes.com's BBQ Recipes.
D. Barbecue America's Recipes.
E. Barbecue-Online's BBQ Recipes.
F. Barbecue Recipes from the BBQ Pit.
G. BBQ Guru Recipes
H. BBQ Mailing List Survival Guide's BBQ Recipes and Procedures
I. BBQ-Porch's BBQ Recipes
J. Bill Wight's Barbecue Recipes, Grilling Recipes, and Smoking Recipes.
K. Cooking.com's BBQ/Grilling Recipes.
L. Culinary Café's Barbecue & Grilling Page.
M. Epicurious.com's Recipes and Sitemap.
N. Fiery-Foods.com's BBQ Pages (...scroll down for the recipes...)
O. Free-Gourmet-Recipes' Gourmet Barbecue Recipes.
P. GirlsattheGrill's BBQ Recipes.
Q. JurassicPork Jurassic Pork has created a library of 2,000 recipes, all related to slow cooking of meats or side dishes that compliment BBQ events.
R. Mega-zine's Barbecue Recipes.
S. Newsday.com's Best Barbecue article.
T. RecipeCottage.com's Outdoor Cooking Recipes.
U. RecipeLink.com's BBQ/Grilling and Smoking, Dutch Oven and Camping Recipes.
V. Recipezaar's Outdoor Recipes, Barbecue Recipes, and Smoker Recipes.
W. Ruth Burkhardt's Barbecue & Grilling Recipes.
X. SmokinChips.com's Smoked Meat Recipes.
Y. Southern Living's Best Barbecue Special Section.
Z. The BBQ Institute's BBQ Recipes.
AA. The Spice House' BBQ Recipes.
BB. The Virtual Weber Bullet Sitemap - There is so much to see here, you'll need the sitemap.
CC. Ugly Brothers BBQ Recipes.

VIII. TMF's BBQFools Favorite Recipes

A. Tips on cooking tough meats like venison and elk.
B. Grades of Meat and What They're Used For.
C. Good Rubs
D. C.J.V.'s Brisket Recipe.
E. C.J.V.'s Beef Fajitas
F. riprock45's Panic Stricken Chicken.
G. rosebear's BBQ From Jamaica.
H. blackmare's Fire Candy.
I. shawnmc's Pig in the Ground (Using Pork Tenderloins).
J. uphilldeb's Smoked Fish Brine
K. Liver & Onions
L. Amazing All Purpose Marinade
M. DonnaPawl's Home Brewed Corned Beef
N. beemerbum's Homemade Pie Crust
O. blackmare's Homemade Key Lime Pie
P. Recipe Board Indexes at The Motley Fool. These Indexes Include: Appetizers, Bachelor's Cookbook, Beef, Beverages, Breads, Chicken/Poultry, Desserts, Fun Food, Ham/Pork, Hints, Lamb, Main Dishes/Casseroles, Meatless, Rodents-n-Offal, Salads, Sauces, Seafood, and Veggies/Side Dishes.

IX. Ingredients & Spices

A. Austin Spice Company
B. Hawgeyes BBQ Spices & Rubs
C. Pendery's World of Chiles & Spices
D. Penzeys Spices
E. The Chilli Man
F. The Ingredient Store



A.A. Book Review by C.J.V.

I bought a copy of the book “The Best Recipe, Grilling & Barbecue” by the editors of Cook's Illustrated. The book is 8 ½” X 11” hardbound and contains around 305 pages of recipes and techniques plus the index. It retails at $29.95. Unlike “Smoke & Spice”, which I also bought, all the techniques in the “Best Recipe” book were for use on charcoal or gas grills. If you are in to cooking on a pit or even on a “Brinkmann” type water smoker, most of the recipes would not directly apply. If, however, you do a fair amount of grilling over both charcoal or gas, you would probably find this book handy.

They take a basic recipe or technique and rework it changing one small detail until they come up with the best and tastiest recipe. One example of this is hamburgers. They grilled hamburgers of different fat contents to determine which tasted best as determined by blind taste tests. It was found that fresh ground chuck with approximately 20% fat tasted best. Any more fat and the burgers tasted greasy and less fat and the burger tended to be dry. They found that the burger which had the seasonings added to the meat and mixed in before shaping the patty was preferred over those in which the seasonings were added to the surface of the meat before, during, or after cooking. It was also found that a normal flat patty of ground beast, when grilled, will form a domed puffy shape that makes it impossible to keep the condiments (tomato, pickle slices, ect.) from sliding off. Their solution was to form the patty with a slight dish in the center and than grill it. It keeps all the goodies from sliding off the burger when you put it on the bun.

There is a section (1 chapter) on Buying Outdoor (cooking) Equipment. The section on Grilling includes chapters on Steaks, Burgers and Sausages, Kebabs, Chops and Pork Tenderloin, Rack of Lamb, and Butterflied Leg, Chicken Parts and Butterflied Chicken, Duck Breasts, Quail, and Squab, Shellfish, Fish, Vegetables and Fruits and finally Pizza and Bruschetta. They have four chapters on Grill Roasting and Barbecuing, using gas and charcoal (kettle type) grills and a final chapter on Flavorings, Rubs, Barbecue Sauces, and salsas.

For both chicken and shrimp, they recommend brining before cooking. I have used brining with chickens before roasting or smoking them. It adds a juiciness to the white meat that is usually dry and the rest of the meat seems to be more tender.

I have never tried brining the shrimp before grilling them, myself, but I'll try it this year (I think brown shrimp season starts around May 18th this year). On my last trip to Hong Kong in the mid 1960s, I ate in an Indonesian restaurant that served grilled prawns. They were grilled over charcoal using a hot-spicy-sweet fruit based grilling sauce. In the past, I tried grilling shrimp using “Tiger Sauce” as the grilling sauce, as this tasted fairly close to the sauce that I had in Hong Kong. The results were always disappointing as the shrimp came out dry. This year I'll try brining the shrimp first (I'll experiment with cutting down the amount of salt used in the brine and maybe soaking longer) followed by grilling with the Tiger Sauce mixed with some vegetable oil.

C.J.V.



Questions & Answers


II. A. What kinds of smokers are there?

There are, in general, two types of smoke cookers, the water bath type such as the "Brinkman" and the dry type that look something like an oil drum on its side with a firebox on the side.

You can also use a grill as a smoker. Build the fire on one side and cook the meat on the other side so it's cooked by indirect heat.

There is also a cold smoker that is used to smoke hams, bacon, sausages and fish. The internal temperature of this smoker is kept low, usually below 170 degrees.

I have been looking for a dead upright freezer to make into a smokehouse. I would cut a hole in the top for a chimney with a damper, one or two holes in the side (with dampers) for vents and a hole in the bottom for my smoke source (probably a hotplate to heat a cast iron skillet filled with saw dust).

II. B. What do I need to know about temperatures - Ambient & Internal?

The outside temperature will have an effect upon the temperature inside the smoker. Wind also has a large effect on the temperature inside the smoker. When it was cold and windy, I build a windbreak out of cement blocks and cardboard around the smoker for it to cook properly to do my Xmas turkey.

If I need to know the temperature inside the smoker, I have a dial type thermometer with a long probe that I can insert by the hinge on the cover. The only time I use it is when I'm cold smoking Kilbasa (Polish Sausage) or tasso. The trick there is to keep the internal temperature below 160 degrees.

II. C. How can I make my equipment last longer?

Line the pans with heavy-duty aluminum foil, you are not as susceptible to rust-out. Actually the first pan lasted for 7 or 5 years. When the first hole rusted through, I lined the pan with aluminum from Coors beer cans that I stomped flat. This gave me 2 or 1 more years use out of it. ;-)

II. D. What kinds of fuel (charcoal, woods) are best? And when? And what size?

I used mesquite almost exclusively to smoke my brisket and grill my fajitas. It does burn hotter than hickory and will give you a slight bitter taste if you use too much. The trick is to use less wood when smoking or to use mixed charcoal and mesquite wood. I noticed that pecan wood also burns "hot" compared to hickory wood.

Usually you put 10 or 7 pounds of charcoal in the bottom pan, light the charcoal put (hot) water in the water pan and your meat of choice on the grates. Close the lid and add your wood of choice to the charcoal pan. You can add more wood as the original burns off. You usually don't need to add more charcoal as it will burn for 10 or 8 hours.

The "ideal" size of the wood that I use on top of a bed of burning charcoal is large chunks and small "logs". I buy mesquite wood in Laredo, Texas that is cut into "logs" that are 8 inches long by from 2 to 5 inches in diameter. This size seems to work best in my smoker. I also use smaller "chunks" of hickory wood that is about 2 inches or larger on a side. "Chips", smaller than say 1 inch on their smallest side, have the advantage of burning too fast. This requires you to open the smoker every half-hour or so to feed more into the fire pan, thus reducing the temperature inside the smoker. Chips are handy when you are grilling food, however, you put a hand full of damp chips on top of your hot charcoal before grilling your burgers or fish.

II. E. How do I light my smoker?

The easiest way to light charcoal these days is with a charcoal chimney.

C.J.V. Offers this solution, "About 22 or 20 years ago I bought my first “Brinkman” type smoke cooker (they were called “Cajun Microwaves” down here). I loaded the pan up with charcoal and lit it with the usual charcoal lighter. After the fluid burned off and the coals were hot I put in the brisket and the wood. When it was done, I still detected a very slight taste of lighter fluid. At $.98/can I figured that it cost me about $.65 just to light off the charcoal. Being cheap, I figured that there must be a better way.

I found that if I piled up all the charcoal on the far side of the pan away from the door, I could light it in 3 or 2 minutes using my “Burnz-O-Matic” torch. This was faster and cheaper than charcoal lighter and left no petroleum taste on the meat. I few months later I took a trip to Laredo Texas and brought back about 300 pounds of mesquite wood to feed the smoker. Since the mesquite wood was cheaper than charcoal, I used that exclusively to cook brisket. I would put 7 or 6 chunks of mesquite in the charcoal pan and light it with the propane torch.

Since then, I have been using a propane torch with a hose and adapter to run it off a 5 gallon propane bottle. In the last ten years I probably used about 2 gallons of propane to light the smoker and the charcoal grills.


II. F. I'm thinking of getting a natural gas hookup to my (future) deck and buying a natural gas grill. How much hassle would getting this setup be? Is it worth the effort?

Ray responded with, "When I lived in Houston, all it took was a call to the Gas Co. They sold me the Grill, laid the line from the stub to the location of my choice, and installed the Grill. The cost appeared on my monthly Bill."
Mrs. Wiley responded with, "We have a Gas Grill and we have had no problems what so ever, we like the fact that it is very hot -very fast-very easy. With the turn of a switch you have a cooking surface ready to use."
Dean responded with, "My father in law, the plumber, says the conversion and hookup involve very little in materials and about half an hour labor, and that running natural gas is cheaper in the long run than refilling tanks. Also, you don't often run out of natural gas the way you can run a propane tank dry. You may need to call your gas company to get the connection made-local regulations vary quite a bit.
C.J.V. responded with, "Depending upon local regulations, you may need a licensed plumber or even the gas company to run the connections for you.
Gas and propane grills are great if you only want to cook a few burgers, brown sausage or country style ribs before adding them to a pot of spaghetti sauce, etc. You go out, press the button and are ready to cook in a few minutes. You can even get an iron box to fill with hickory chips to give your food a smoky taste. It tastes almost as good as food cooked over a charcoal grill (but not even close to that done over a mesquite wood grill).
I use propane for both my grill and for heating my greenhouse. Plans are to redo my kitchen and put in six-burner propane fired professional type stove. I'll probably buy a 500 or 1000 gallon propane tank to fire it and run a connection to hook up my gas grill. The present 5-gallon tanks are a hassle. They always seem to run out just in the middle of cooking my burgers. The price of propane has also gone up in the last year or two. The tank that cost $6.00 to fill two years ago is now around $13.00 to fill.
I would go for it. Of course, I still have my two charcoal grills and two water smokers.

skyeMOL responded with, "I'm thinking of doing the same thing.
My housemate had been bugging me to go in on a gas grill with him. I refused. I used the Weber all year round and I liked it. I enjoyed the whole process of lighting the charcoal and keeping it stoked. The ritual of it was part of the enjoyment.
So he bought a propane grill anyway. After a year, I've become a convert. At first, I'd use the Weber on special occasions anyway but I quit doing that after a while. Part of the appeal of gas is the convenice. I grill a lot more because it's easier to grill. I enjoy grilling so that's good! I have more temperature control, so I grill more sucessfully. That's good too! I have more time to fuss with other ingredients, so the side dishes are better. And in my opinion the taste issue is small. Sometimes you want a charcoal taste (good with beef), sometimes you don't (fish). But there really is not a big difference in taste.
So for me, I grill more often and get better results with gas. I'd like to plumb in a gas line to the outdoor grill as well.
As a wise man once said: "Give a man a fish and he can eat for day. Teach a man to fish and can eat for a lifetime. Teach him how to grill and you give him a reason to live.
"




IV. A. How do you keep the meat from drying out?

I use a Brinkmann type water-pan type smoker. After six hours smoking, a brisket will start to dry out. Painting it with barbecue sauce and wrapping in foil after about 6 hours and giving it another hour or two tends to steam the meat and keep it juicy. Brining poultry (chickens and turkey) in about ½ cup salt per gallon of water (adding herbs & spices of your choice) pumps the meat with extra liquid and changes the protein structure so that it cooks up juicy. I'll soak the birds overnight (in the refrigerator) in the brine before smoking. When using other styles of smokers, placing a pan of water below the grate that your meat sits on will add humidity to the smoking chamber and that should keep the meat from drying out too much. Remember to sauce and wrap the meat for the last hour or two of cooking.

Whenever I smoke something, I'll just lay it out bare on the top of the grate. For brisket I'll smoke it bare for about 6 hours then slather on barbecue sauce, wrap it in aluminum foil and put it back for another hour or two to cook longer. I would probably do the same with a pork roast. Chicken & turkey I would just brine and smoke. I'm thinking about smoking meat loaf. I will probably put that in a shallow pan in the smoker. I usually don't bother with a marinade but, if I did, I think that I would boil it down and brush it on the meat during the last hour or two of smoking as a sauce.

If I were to cook turkey breasts, I would brine them first. Soak them overnight in brine made from 2 cups kosher salt (or 1-cup table salt) dissolved in 2 gallons of water (which was mixed and cooled to 35 or 40 degrees) in the refrigerator. The brining keeps the meat moist and juicy. If you don't have the room in the refrigerator, put the breasts in 2 gallon ziplock bags, pour in brine, seal and put in a "Coleman" type ice chest overnight with maybe 16 or 20 pounds of ice. Next morning smoke-cook them with the skin side down. I usually smoke my turkeys breast side down as it keeps the white meat from drying out. One trick if you don't have enough room to smoke them all at one time would be to smoke them for 3 or 2 hours (with lots of smoke) and finish cooking them in the oven.

IV. C. How do you feed a bunch of people 25-50 simply?

Cole slaw, potato & macaroni salad and maybe a mixed green salad- and plenty of BBQ!

The first question is "What type of equipment to you have access to?". If you can get your hands on a water bath type smoker (Brinkman or equivalent), you might want to smoke cook a turkey or two. They can be done the day before and served cold. I use about 10 or 7 pounds of charcoal and 7 or 5 pounds of hickory/mesquite wood. I'll cook a 14-10 pound turkey for about 7 hours with a quartered onion, a stick or 2 of celery and a handful of herbs in the cavity. It's good hot or cold. Don't forget to throw a tablespoon or two of whole black pepper corns and some sprigs of rosemary on the coals 2-3 times while cooking.

You can smoke/cook ribs and/or chicken the day before, wrap up well and refrigerate overnight. The next day you can reheat them on the grill. This works very well for chicken since it gives the meat the smoky taste and, since its already cooked, you don't have the worry about anyone getting sick from undercooked chicken. I use fryer leg 1/4s the day before (I give them about 3 or 2 ½ hours) and reheat them on the grill the next day. The same with pork ribs.

On the morning of your shindig, load up the smoker with charcoal/wood, water and a brisket or pork roast (Boston butt roast works well - lots of fat). Light it off (I use a propane torch) and let it smoke/cook for 8 or 7 hours. You can check it after about 5 hours to see if you have enough water in the pan and maybe add a few extra wood blocks. I find that if I'm using charcoal and just hickory or mesquite wood for flavor, I won't usually need to add more water. Using just mesquite or pecan wood, which burns hotter, I have to add water after about 6 or 5 hours. I use hot (boiling) water when I add it.

IV. E. Can you make jerky in a smoker?

I made jerky about 15 or 12 years ago using a "Brinkman" type water smoker to smoke it. I also have a collection of recipes (none of which I have tried) to make jerky. The problem with doing it in a smoker is that the temperature is too high.

IV. F. How do I smoke meats? And how can I get a mellow smoke taste that won't overwhelm?

HomeBBQ.com's Smoking Techniques Article.
Different woods give different flavored (and strength) smoke. Mesquite wood gives a strong (some people would say overpowering) hardy taste to meats. Apple wood gives a light sweet taste. IMHO, pork and apple wood smoke go together. Use less wood and lighter tasting wood smoke for more delicate taste.

IV. G. Mastering the Art of Opening Oysters.

C.J.V. says, "Actually its not too much of an art. You just need the proper equipment.
You need an oyster knife, a fairly thick bladed knife with a dull point, shaped like a dagger with the point slightly rounded off. You also need something to hold the oyster on so it won't slip and a hammer. I use a hunk of 2 X 4 that is about 11 inches long with a ½ inch hole bored through it and a medium weight ball peen hammer. The 2 X 4 was originally used when I cemented bolts in the concrete floor of my workshop to mount a drill press.
I scrub the mud off the shell of the oyster with a stiff bristle brush and cold water and cover them in a dishpan with ice cubes for an hour or two. When they are cold and relaxed, I hold them on the 2 X 4 with the hinge up and hit them with the hammer on the hinge to stun them. I'll then slip the point of the knife in at the hinge and twist to pop the hinge open. You slip the knife down to cut the mussel that holds the top shell closed, twist the knife to remove the top shell and cut around the bottom shell to cut the other mussel.
A squooze of lemon and maybe a dab of red sauce and down it goes. Yum.


IV. I. How long can you marinade before the chances of sickness (botulism or salmonella) start coming into play?

Rule #1: If it stinks, don't eat it.
C.J.V. says, "The final definitive answer to your question is (drum roll…) “It depends”.
If you are using an acid marinade, that will retard spoilage. Rule #1 is a fairly good guide to use around meat and poultry.
A rule of thumb with raw chicken that I use is 4 days is ok, a week in the fridge is maximum. Anything over 4 days, I'll use the sniff test on.
Beef can go longer. I'll buy a roast and keep it in the fridge 3 or 2 days until I have the time to work with it. I'll then marinate it for 7 days in a mixture of red wine and vinegar along with spices for another 7 days before cooking.
Corned beast and pastrami will go even longer.
Prime aged beef, the kind that you only get in the better steak houses for big $$$$ is usually allowed to hang in the cooler for something like three weeks before your steak is cut from it. The aroma may be described as “a little high”.
"
Here's a Barbecue Food Safety Article from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.
Here's a Quick Consumer Guide to Safe Food Handling from the Nebraska Co-op Extension.
Here's a BBQ Food Safety Article by the California BBQ Association.
Here's another BBQ Food Safety Article by HomeBBQ.com!

IV. J. When is meat done?
The best test for a butt is if the bone will pull easily out of the meat...ribs bones will peel off easily, a chicken leg can be easily moved in the socket...If'n it peels off the bone easily and the meat next to the bone ain't red and raw, it's probably done. ;-)
However, for those of you who must have them, here are some Cooking Times & Temperatures.



VI. B. Barbecuing is the only type of cooking a real man will do. When a man declares he will BBQ the following chain of events is put into motion:

1) The woman goes to the store and buys everything.
2) The woman makes the salad, vegetables, and dessert.
3) The woman prepares the meat for cooking, places it on a tray along with the necessary cooking utensils and sauces, and takes it to the man, who is lounging beside the grill, beer in hand.
4) The man places the meat on the grill.
5) The woman goes inside to organize the plates and cutlery.
6) The woman comes out to tell the man that the meat is burning. He thanks her and asks if she will bring another beer while he deals with the situation.
7) The man takes the meat off the grill and hands it to the woman.
8) The woman prepares the plates and brings them to the table.
9) After eating, the woman clears the table and does the dishes.
10) Everyone praises man and thanks him for his cooking efforts.
11) The man asks the woman how she enjoyed; her night off. And, upon seeing her annoyed reaction, concludes that there's just no pleasing a woman.

Stolen from jjbklb on the Humor & Urban Legends board at TMF.

VIII. A. Tips on cooking tough meats like venison and elk.

Since venison or elk tends to be dry and usually tough, if you want to cook it as a roast, you have to marinate it in something, usually acidic like wine or vinegar, and slow cook it with moist heat. One idea would be to marinate it red wine marinade for 4 or 3 days, wrap it in bacon or thin sheets of pork fat and cook it in a water smoker ("Brinkmann type") or on a grill with a pan of boiling water under the roast and a ring of coals around the outside to give indirect heat.

VIII. B. Grades of meat and what they're used for.

A lot on how tender a cut of meat will be depends upon the grade of beef used.
USDA Prime beef has a lot of fat marbled through the meat. No you won't see it in the supermarkets. Some of the better butchers can special order it for their families and their preferred customers.
USDA Choice is the next best grade of beef. It has some marbling but not as much as prime. It won't cook up as good as prime but it is usually very tender and favorable. Most of the better supermarkets and butchers will carry this grade of beef.
USDA Select beef is a lower quality of beef than choice. It has some marbling but it usually won't grill up very tender. It can be used for sauerbraten and in slow cooking recipes like stews and sometimes for Q.
USDA Utility is the lowest grade of beef. It is usually only fit for stews, hamburger (with added fat ground in) and maybe soup meat. It has almost no fat and when cooked is usually dry and tough. The lower grades of beef and the tougher cuts actually make the best stews. It just takes many hours “stewing” this meat to break down the tough connecting tissue to get a tender meat. It also has some of the best flavor when you do cook it long enough.



TMF BBQFool's Recipes


VIII. D. C.J.V.'s Brisket Recipe.

I usually smoke my brisket using a Brinkmann type water smoker. I'll buy a whole picker trimmed brisket (in the plastic shrink-wrap) when they are on sale for something like $0.79/pound. I'll open it up and cut it into two roughly equal sized pieces. The flat end has the lessor of the fat so I'll usually start with that. I'll trim off the excess fat leaving a layer about ¼ inch thick on one side. I'll make up a spice rub consisting of about 3 teaspoons of Creole seasoning, one teaspoon of granulated garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoon of course ground black pepper (or 1 teaspoon cracked and ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper) 1 heaping teaspoon sugar, and 2-3 teaspoons of Hungarian paprika. The Creole seasoning has enough salt and heat for my taste. I mix it well in a jar and liberally sprinkle it on all sides of the trimmed brisket and rub it in. I cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to stand in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning (around 9:30), I'll remove the brisket from the refrigerator to the counter and go out to light the smoker. I'll dump about 10 or 12 pounds of charcoal into the charcoal pan of the smoker and mound it up toward the back of the pan. I use a Bernz-O-Matic blowtorch (propane torch) to get the charcoal lit. It usually only takes about 5 minutes to get the front edge of the charcoal started. I'll go back into the house and put a large pot containing about 6 quarts of water on the stove to heat. I'll go back out to the smoker and rake the now hot coals into a uniform layer using a pair of long tongs. I'll insert the water pan and go back into the house for the now boiling water. I'll fill the pan with hot water and put in the top (assuming I only want to cook ½ of the brisket) grill. I'll put the piece of brisket, fat side up on the top rack and close the cover. I'll add 4 or 3 chunks of wood (I like mesquite wood, me but you can use hickory, apple, cherry or any other hardwood that you have handy) through the door on the side of the smoker, close the door and allow it to cook. Every 1 ½ to 2 hours, I'll add a few more chunks of wood to the charcoal pan to get a steady stream of smoke out of the smoker. I sometimes also add whole black pepper and heavy stalks or branches from rosemary or my bay laurel bush to the charcoal pan.

After about 6-6 ½ hours, I'll open the top (first time since I first put the brisket in the smoker) and remove the brisket. I'll slather barbecue sauce all over the meat and wrap the brisket up in heavy-duty aluminum foil. I'll check the amount of water in the water pan and usually add about 2 quarts of boiling water to the pan. I'll also light and add about 2 to 2 ½ pounds more charcoal to the charcoal pan. I'll put the brisket, now wrapped in aluminum, back on the top grate of the smoker, close everything up and allow it to cooked for another 2 hours or so. The sauce and wrapping in the foil keeps the meat moist. Since its wrapped in foil, there is no point in adding more wood to the charcoal since the meat will not be exposed to the smoke. After a total time in the smoker of around 8-9 hours, remove the meat, allow to rest for 15-30 minutes and slice as thinly as possible across the grain.

I did a study the last few times that I smoked a brisket with two dial thermometers that were made to check the oil temperature when deep-frying. The way my smoker is designed with the water pan hanging down from a pair of bent rods which fit into notches in the body of the smoker just under the lid, I can insert the sensing elements into the smoker either just above or just below the top cooking grill to read the at that point. Since one thermometer is 5 inches long and the other is 13 inches long, I can read he temperatures at different points of the grill without opening the top. With an initial charge of 10-12 pounds of charcoal and using boiling water in the pan, I read a temperature of slightly over 285 degrees within 5 minutes of putting in the meat and closing the cover. As the cooking progressed, the temperature would slowly decline to about 215-210 degrees after 6 - 6 1/2 hours. Opening the door on the side to add wood chunks to the charcoal pan would cause an initial drop of about 5 degrees which would recover in a few minutes and the temperature would increase slightly as the wood began to smolder. After wrapping the meat, adding more boiling water and burning charcoal, the temperature would recover to around 245-240 degrees within about 5-7 minutes of reclosing the smoker.

The biggest problem with the Brinkmann type water smokers that I found is the buildup of ash from the charcoal in the charcoal pan. With its present design, one would have to remove the meat racks, water pan and hot charcoal pan to dump the excess ash from the (HOT) charcoal pan. The ash has a tendency to smother or bank the burning coals. I added a small grate to the bottom of the charcoal pan that allows about an inch of free space below the charcoal for the ash to collect. This is a help but its not enough space. I'm planning to modify the smoker by putting the 3 legs on the outside of the body and using a modified “Little Smoky” grill with shortened legs as a charcoal pan. I would be able to just lift the smoker off of the charcoal pan without disturbing the contents to empty the ashes and add more burning charcoal. I'll post the results when I do it.

VIII. E. C.J.V.'s Beef Fajitas.

The original cut of beef for fajitas is skirt steak. I find that flank steak , although it works, is a little too thick and tender to make the best fajitas.

I marinate about a pound of skirt steak (enough for 2 people) in a mixture of,
Juice of 1 lime
1 – 6 ounce can of Texas pink grapefruit juice
about 3 or 2 ounces of Kikkoman soy sauce (to taste for salt)
about 1/3 teaspoon oregano
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
about 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
about two tablespoons of cilantro, stems & leaves crushed
about 2 ounces of olive oil

I mix the grapefruit juice with about a tablespoon of cilantro (use the stems for this), the oregano and the black pepper in a 2-cup glass-measuring cup. I'll heat it until it is almost boiling. I'll allow it to stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly and add the lime juice, press in the garlic, add the soy sauce and the olive oil. I'll usually decide that it needs more cilantro so I'll add another 2 large sprigs and cool the marinade in the refrigerator to about 50 degrees. I'll marinate the skirt steak in a glass dish for about 8 or 6 hours in the refrigerator. I turn the skirt steak over and allow it to marinate overnight for another 16 or 12 hours. The next evening, I'll allow the skirt steak to warm to room temperature while I prepare the grill. I'll ignite about 2 ½ pounds of charcoal briquettes and spread them on top of about ½ pound of mesquite wood chunks. I grill the steak for about 5 minutes each side in plenty of mesquite smoke. I slice it thinly across the grain and serve it on flour tortillas with guacamole and salsa (Pace mild with added onion, green onion, TAM jalapenos and cilantro if I don't have my own tomatoes for salsa).

This marinade works well for both beef and chicken. You need something acid to tenderize the meat. I like the taste of the mixture of the sour lime and the slightly sweet grapefruit juice. You can add other/more herbs and garlic to your own taste. Grilling it over mesquite wood with lots of smoke gives it the proper smoky taste IMHO. ;-)

VIII. F. RipRock's Panic Stricken Chicken.

So I finally was able to buy a smoker. Well anyway a Brinkmann Smoke 'n' Grill. Water smoker. You have no idea how hard it is to find stuff like that here. Then, wonder of wonders, I found a store with a whole shelf of bagfuls of hickory chips. I'm in business!

Day one: read the instructions about seasoning the thing. Did it.

Several days later: Got a day off so decided to try my first Q. Bought a chicken.

Read THE BOOK (S&S),(got it airmailed from Amazon).

Decided to try something easy. Adapt "Quick Chick" (p174) to a whole chicken. Problem: don't have the ingredients for the rub. Into the spice cabinet. Hm. Cayenne. Something chinese that sez "sweet chili". Salt I got, black pepper, um, now what, um spicy steak something or other. Chuck it all in a small bowl, shake it up a bit and rub the bird all over, and underneath the skin as far as I can reach. Fingers are burning. I take that as a good sign.

Ok, go get the charcoal burning and throw a few hickory chunks into the sink to soak. So far, so good.

Need a mop. Don't have the right stuff for the one in the recipe. OK, necessity is the mother of invention. No orange juice. I got butter. Chuck some in a small pot. C'mon, think of something. OK lime juice. Chuck some in the pot. Taste. Yuck. Lime juice and butter. Need something sweet and tart. Found a can of Coke. Drink half, chuck the rest in the pot. Hey, I'm half way to a Cuba Libre, Chuck in a dollop of rum. and set it all to boiling till it gets kind of gooey.

The coals are grey, and I got the water pan filled, and the temperature guage is at about the "D" in "ideal" (I know, I know). Wrap the wet chickory chunks loosely in foil and put 'em on the coals. Mop the chicken with the cuba libre mixture. Looks OK. Put the chicken into the smoker, close the door, and wobble off to watch the NFL game I taped the night before. With some rum.

Game over. Wobble out to the smoker to check. The temperature is at the "I" in "ideal". Dropping. Check the chicken. Hey, it's turning brown. Neato! Get a bunch more bricquets and chuck 'em on the fire. Wonder if I need to add water. Decide I do. How do I get it in there? Gotta reach in somehow without burning myself and spilling it all over. Search the house. No metal funnel. No gardening water can. OK get the hose. It's got a pistol grip spray-type thingy on it. Stick the thingy into the water pan and let fly. Holy Smokes! It goes into full high-pressure carwash mode. A torrent of water flies into the smoker. A tornado of ash flies out the door! I close the door and retire in confusion. Water all over pants. Mrs. Riprock nearly expires from laughing. Go back to watch the other NFL game I taped the night before. More rum. Change pants. Or maybe the other way around. I forget.

Fast forward through all the commercials and finish the game less than 2 hours later. It's dinner time, ready or not. Well we can always order a pizza.

It's perfect. Beautiful dark brown. Juiciest chicken we ever ate. Perfectly done, and just the right amount of smoke. Wonderful. God looks after Fools.

VIII. G. rosebear's BBQ From Jamaica.

1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4-6 hot peppers, finely ground (your choice of pepper)
1 tsp ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together to form a paste. A food processor fitted with a steel blade is ideal for this. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a tightly closed container for about a month.
Yield: 1 cup

Rub the paste into the uncooked meat and cook.

-------------

Jerk Marinade

1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 hot pepper, finely ground
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 TBS soy sauce
1 TBS cooking oil
1 TBS cider or white vinegar

Stores for about a month.
Yield: 1 1/2 cups

-------------

Fresh Ham or Boston Butt (6-8 lbs)
1 recipe Jerk Rub
2 cups Chablis or other dry white wine
1 (46oz) can unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 cup lemon juice

Evenly coat meat with jerk rub. Mix the wine, pineapple juice and lemon juice and set aside.

Make a charcoal fire in the smoker. Fill the water pan with the pineapple juice mixture and add enough hot water to fill the pan. Put food in, cook for 3 1/2 hours and turn the meat. Baste with pan drippings. Cook another 2-3 hours, or until done.
Yield: 12-14 servings

VIII. H. blackmare's Fire Candy.

This requires considerably less cooking time but I assure you it is heavenly.

You need apples, good ones, preferably of the sweet/tart variety, Rome or MacIntosh or some such.

Cut in half with your pocketknife (you DO have one, don't you?) and dig out the core. In the hollows that leaves, place as much real butter and brown sugar as you possibly can, and then coat everything heavily with cinnamon. Put the apple halves back together, wrap well and tightly in aluminum foil, and bury 'em in the coals on the edge of that dying bonfire. You'll want to do this about an hour or so before dinner, with the time depending on how hot the fire still is.

You'll need plates or bowls for the apples when they come out of the fire, and you'll have to have some kind of tongs or something to remove 'em (carefully!). Worth the trouble, though, 'specially to complement that fabulous pork dish.

If you are doing this in a semi-civilized location, and there is ice cream to be had, so much the better. Dump some Breyer's vanilla on those things. Yowza.

VIII. I. shawnmc's Pig in the Ground (Using Pork Tenderloins).

I like to get a couple of large pork tenderloins and some onions, green peppers, garlic, celery and so on. I take the 2 tenderloins and make a sandwich with the veggies between the 2 tenderloins. Tie it all up with string. With a knife, cut little slits in the meat and poke garlic and hot pepper slices. Wrap it all up in 7 or 8 layers of aluminum foil.

You need a bonfire. This requires a lot of coals. Dig a hole in the ground about knee deep, and put 6 or 8 inches of coals from the fire in the bottom of it. Cover the coals with about a couple inches of sand to insulate the meat, then lay the foil package in there. You need to have some kind of wire or something so you can get it back out without burning yourself when its done. I use an old grill rack with coat hangers hooked onto it and lay the meat on top of that in the hole. Then put more sand on top of that and then more coals from the fire, 6 or 10 inches. Cover it all over with dirt and forget it. 18 to 24 hours later, come back and dig it all up. Be careful, don't damage the foil wrapper. The coat hangers and grill rack help here.

When you break open the foil package, you will have the most wonderful bbq you have ever tasted. The juices are sealed in and mixed with the veggies and wow...it just falls apart... yummm

You can vary this in many ways, you can use deer meat, beef, different veggies, spices, anything you like.

I have found that it's best not to add salt before the cooking, but wait till it's done to salt it. For some reason salt makes it tougher and drier, I don't understand how since the juices are sealed in, but it is so.

VIII. J. uphilldeb's Smoked Fish Brine

I have had my share of experimenting with smoking fish lately. After trying all kinds of brine recipes, and not really finding quite what we wanted, we finally fell on the perfect one for our taste. You won't believe how easy it is.

1 cup of kosher salt
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 gallon of water
Gutted, headless, whole fish (leave the skin on)

We put the brine and fish in large, 2 gallon zip-lock baggies, and soaked the fish for nearly 24 hours in the refrigerator. Then we used our Brinkman ($29 at Kmart) to smoke the fish. We soaked the alder wood chips and then smoked the fish at around 160-180 degrees for 8-9 hours. Super low, super slow was the key to perfectly moist and juicy, mildly sweet, gently smoked fish.

VIII. K. Liver & Onions

BikerMike's Liver & Onions - Liver and onions, I love it. But get some chicken livers, wrap them in bacon, fix bacon in place with toothpicks, and bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes, yum.

C.J.V.'s Liver & Onions - Good liver isn't bad. Bad liver isn't bad either, its terrible. The first step is to buy calf or veal liver. If its in a package frozen, allow to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the whitish membrane that runs around the outer edge and cut out any large veins. Heat a large skillet medium-hot and put in about 1/4 to 3/8 inch of oil/bacon grease. Pepper and flour the liver slices and cook 3-4 minutes on each side in the hot oil until they start to brown, turn and cook 3-4 minutes on other side. Do not overcook. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. In a second skillet, cook onions. When liver is done, dump all but about 1 tablespoon of oil/fat from the skillet and put about a tablespoon of flour in pan. Stir with a wooden spoon and allow the flour to brown slightly. Do not allow to burn. Add beef stock and some of the cooked onions to the pan and scrape bottom of pan with spoon to remove the browned bits. Heat and simmer gently until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste to your gravy and serve with smashed potatoes.

dsinclair's Liver & Onions - In a large frying pan, fry about a half pound of bacon until almost crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Thin slice about a half a large sweet onion and fry in the bacon fat until done to your liking. Remove from pan and keep warm in oven. Leave just a little bacon fat in the pan. Dip the liver in milk, coat with flour and fry on med-high heat for about 2.5 minutes per side. It should be pink in the middle, not red, but you don't want it well done. It should be a nice rare to med. rare. Serve topped with the onions and bacon. I figure about 2 pieces of liver per serving.

dswagler's Liver & Onions - Calf's liver only. It had the mildest flavor. I brined a pound, sliced about a half inch thick, for about two hours. I removed it from the brine, dried it with some paper towels, and set it aside.

I fried four slices of good, thick sliced, smoked bacon, on medium-high heat, in a cast iron skillet, until crisp. I removed the bacon to cool. In the fat, I placed a medium sized onion, sliced thin. I reduced the heat to medium and cooked them until done, seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.

I removed the onions to a bowl, crumbling the fried bacon over them and set aside.

Returning the heat to medium-high, I then seasoned some flour with black and cayenne pepper. Dredging the liver slices in the flour, I placed them in the pan two at a time. I cooked them for no more than two and a half minutes per side. This was critical! Three minutes, and it began to get tough in a big hurry.

I removed the slices to a warm plate and smothered them with the onions and bacon.

In the end, it was worth the effort. The liver had a nice crust, yet was tender inside, with just a hint of pink. Yum!

farminfool's Liver & Onions - Pork liver. You have to flour it, let it sit until the flour is wet from the juices and flour it again. Meanwhile have bacon fat heating up in a big cast iron frying pan, a good quality oil is fine too and probably a bit healthier. Put the liver in the very hot pan and be sure it doesn't stick carefully turning it to get the flour coating sealed. Put the onions right in and stand guard over the still very hot pan not letting anything stick. If you do this right the liver will be just as tender as can be with a nice crispy coating. I like my onions to get a touch burned in a few places. With practice you will get this perfected. I never much cared for liver until having it cooked this way. Just remember the pan has to be very hot or it won't work as well. Even a not perfect batch is pretty good.

HitAnyKey's Liver & Onions - Cook it in your oven broiler turning it over half way through. If you fry it in a pan it will turn into a piece of shoe leather.

Fry 4 slices of bacon in your cast iron skillet, remove, add one large sliced onion and cook to your liking. Pour onions and remaining bacon grease over the broiled liver, add bacon strips on top and serve with crisp shredded hash brown potatoes.

VIII. L. Amazing All Purpose Marinade

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
hot pepper sauce to taste
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

In a medium bowl combine the vinegar, orange juice, pineapple juice, olive oil, pepper, garlic powder, green onion, hot pepper sauce and thyme. Blend together.

Place meat or fish in a shall glass dish or bowl, pierce with a fork on top a few times, and pour 1/2 of the marinade over it. Turn over and repeat. Marinate for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours for the most flavor.

VIII. M. DonnaPawl's Home Brewed Corned Beef

Here's the recipe for totally tasty Corned Beef like no other. The only downside is that you need to live where it gets cold occasionally, or have access to an operational fridge or cooler. The meat is in the brine for 15 days, so don't try this unless you can keep it below 40 degrees for that entire period.

Corned Beef brine (makes approx. 5 gallons)

3 lbs Kosher Salt or Pickling Salt (no iodine added)
4 Gal. water
1 Pkg. whole pickling spice mix (1 oz. box)
1 teasp. Salt Peter (potassium nitrate)
1/2 lb. Brown Sugar

Mix all ingredients together stirring well until salt is no longer visible. Starting with warm water gets the salt in suspension faster. Scrub a smallish potato (fist sized or slightly smaller) until clean and place in brine. If the potato floats the brine is strong enough. If potato sinks, retrieve and add more salt. Try again with a new potato.

Place your choice of beef cuts into brine solution, allowing room between pieces (don't cram). Weigh the meat down so that it is always beneath the brine. Keep the meat in the brine for about 15 days, rotate the meat daily using large wooden spoon.

Okay, now here are the crib notes from using this recipe for 25+ years:

1. You can adjust the amount of salt downward. Start with 2 lbs. of salt and get that potato to "neutral bouyancy" where it hangs just under the water surface.

2. Salt Peter is optional if you don't want the nitrates in your food. Salt Peter is to keep the meat from going "grey", which is a rather unnerving color. But, it won't harm the meat, or change the outcome to leave the nitrates out.

3. Choice of container: Traditionally, a big ole crock was used, 6 gal. or so in size. Now they're so dog-goned expensive to buy, I discovered that going to your local department store and getting a 6 to 10 gal. plastic container with lid works just as well. Scrub it and rinse it really well and go ahead. Don't recommend re-using it year to year because of the possibility of microscopic "growey things", but you can use it for other "non-food" purposes once this exercise is done.

4. This recipe will prepare up to 25 lbs. of meat, depending on the shape of the container and the size of the cuts. Beef chunks of approx. 4 - 6 pounds each work great. Beef cuts are your choice; I like my corned beef super lean, so I use the eye of the round roast and rump roasts. Key thing is NO BONES IN BRINE. And, I'll trim out large fat masses before brining.

5. Once corning is complete, rinse each piece of meat off, encase in plastic bag and freeze.

6. To cook, I usually soak the thawed (or never frozen) corned beef in hot water, changing the water when it cools to room temp. This pulls out some of the salt. Then, starting with fresh water, I will boil the meat gently until carving fork almost pulls out -- then switch to a slow oven to finish it off -- or continue to boil, adding carrots, potatoes, etc. (or cabbage for traditional Irish corned beef).

7. If, like me, you have your beef custom cut, you can freeze fresh beef and corn it later when the weather turns cold. I do mine in January, regardless of when my steer is slaughtered.

VIII. N. beemerbum's Homemade Pie Crust

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup Crisco (which you keep in the fridge)
equal amount of orange juice and water to make about 3/4 cup, must be cold - put on ice if necessary (Or use frozen concentrate in place of the juice.)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix and sift dry ingredients together.

Cut in Crisco until you have an even mix but don't overdo.

Add orange juice/water a bit at a time until the mix will come together, don't over work it. You just want to quickly get it into a ball that holds together.

Wrap the dough in plastic and put in the fridge for at least 1/2 hour or even overnight.

Cut into two equal parts.

Roll out on lightly flour dusted counter, turn over and add flour as needed to keep it from sticking but again don't overwork.

Don't go too thin either.

Trust me, once you've got the technique after a crust or two, it's quite easy and you'll never go back to that stuff in the freezer.

VIII. O. blackmare's Homemade Key Lime Pie

Start with beemerbum's Homemade Pie Crust recipe.

Filling:
4 eggs
About 1/2 cup of Key lime juice (Err on the side of too much rather than too little; Most recipes say to use 4 limes but I use 5.).
One 14-oz can of Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk. (Yes, the brand is important. I don't know why but Eagle works best.)

Meringue:
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 egg whites

Make the pie crust first and bake it. Let it cool while you mix the filling.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks to lighten them and then stir in the canned milk. Then stir in the lime juice, and pour the mixture into the pie shell. Stick it in the fridge while you make the meringue.

Meringue is easy. Get out your electric mixer, set on highest setting, and whip the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar (and cream of tartar if you have it, which I never do, and it still comes out OK).

When you can pull the beaters out of the meringue and it will form little curly jester-hat peaks, it's ready. :-) Glop it generously on top of the pie. Make as many of those nifty little peaks as you can (it's fun!).

Put the pie in the oven at about 400 degrees, for 5-10 minutes. Watch it carefully, the meringue tips will turn a nice golden brown when it's done.

Chill in the fridge for an hour...or as long as you can stand to wait...




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