2012 Labor Day

Once again, we’ve wrapped up a Labor Day visits with family visiting for the holiday.  This year, we stayed the course with the kids playing together while the adults visited and I BBQ’d ribs & brisket.

The slight change to the schedule this year had to do with Madison marching in the Labor Day Parade with the Belleville East Marching Lancers.  We had to drop her at the school early on Monday and our guests departed while she was marching.  She was a little sad to have to say good-bye so early, but we’ll see them all again at Thanksgiving.

A few photos, and a link to the rest.

Happy Labor Day,



The Great BBQ Injury of 2011

After spending last weekend surrounded by awesome pork shoulder at the Kentucky BBQ Festival, I was ready for some brisket this weekend.  So I was up and at it early on Saturday morning, trimming 3 packer cut briskets for the Backwoods cooker.

Just as I was finishing up the last one, the knife slipped and got into my left thumb.  Now I’m not saying that I “sliced” my thumb, it was really more of a chopping blow when the knife slipped.  I jumped up, said a few choice words, and thought, “I’m sure it’s just a flesh wound”.  But when I bent my thumb and saw the gaping wound, I knew I was headed for the hospital.

A quick double-check with my wife to confirm my own diagnosis and a panic text to my neighbor and fellow pitmaster to finish up the brisket, and I was off to the ER.  I walked into the ER slightly before 7:30 in the morning and by 9:00am, I had 4 stitches and a tetanus shot.

So here’s my advice to all you BBQ’ers.  Slice “away” from you when trimming your BBQ meats.  Here’s the proof that I know what I’m talking about.


Before treatment During treatment The final result

 The good news is it was a sharp knife and a clean cut.  I should be healed up and ready to cook for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately my career as a hand model is over.


New Cooker on Order!

Well, I finally went and did it.  I ordered up a new Backwoods Fatboy.  I’ve been salivating over a new cooker for the better part of a year now.  I’ve looked at most of the vertical style cookers on the market and this seemed to be the right balance of capacity, footprint, and quality/reputation for my needs.

There are quite a few competition teams that do really well with Backwoods cookers, and I’ll confess that swayed me a little bit.  I ran into a BBQ team at Murphysboro, IL last fall and it turns out that he’s a dealer.  Brian Luke, of It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, spent a half hour talking to me about these cookers and he was competing that weekend on a Party & a Competitor.  Well, he took Reserve Grand Champion that weekend.

I contacted Brian a few weeks ago and we discussed the merits of the Party vs. the Fatboy and it became clear that I’d be happier with the Fatboy.  Now, I don’t need to cooke 16 pork butts very often (if ever) but having the capacity to do multiple things at the same time is very appealing and I do have the need to cook for ~200 folks on Memorial Day weekend.

I’m pretty excited and I didn’t even end up sleeping on the couch when I I brok the news to the little woman.  We’re expecting the cooker to arrive around the end of April and that should give me some time to get it seasoned and cooke a couple of times before the big event in May.

In the mean time, I continue to peruse the forums and read everything I can about the new toy that’s on the way.

Here’s the specs on the Fatboy:

Fatboy Model

Outside dimensions: 24″ deep
40″ tall w/stack
32″ wide w/drain
27 ½” wide w/out drain

Inside dimensions: 20″ deep
17 ½” tall cooking chamber
20″ wide

Racks: 4 – 4 ½” apart
19 ½” deep
19 ½” wide

Standard features: SS doors, permanent water pan,
Commercial fire grate, 2″ insulation

Cooking degrees: (approx) 200 to 250

Amount of charcoal: (approx) 12 to 18 lb

Cooking time: (approx) 6 to 10 hours

Meat: (approx) 20 slabs of baby backs
16 slabs of st. louis style
8 whole briskets
16 boston butts



I was asked to do ribs for a birthday party on Saturday night, so I fired up the Big Green Egg and did what I do best!  BBQ!

The general approach behind the 3-2-1 method is this:

  • 3 hrs on the cooker, using an indirect setup
  • 2 hrs wrapped in aluminum foil with a cup of apple juice
  • 1 hr unwrapped, back on the cooker with sauce if desired.

This would give you a total cooking time of 6 hours, but I’ve found that using a slightly modified version of this method I can have great ribs in about 5 hours.  So here’s the blow by blow on how I do ribs.

  • The first step, and a very important one, is to remove the membrane from the underside of each rack of ribs.  Removing the membrane allows the rubs to penetrate the meat.  It also has a papery consistency when cooked if you don’t remove it.
  • Just like pork butt, I slather each slab with a coating of yellow mustard followed by the BBQ rub of your choice.
  • Setup the cooker for indirect cooking and stabilize the temp at 250 degrees.
  • Put the ribs on the cooking grate with the meaty side up.
  • Cook indirect for 3 hours.  By the end of 3 hours, the meat should begin to pull back from the bone nicely.
  • After 3 hours, wrap each rack individually in foil.  Add a cup of apple juice to each foil pack and return them to the cooker for 60-75 minutes.  I usually put them back on the cooker with the meaty side down.
  • After a little more than an hour, remove the ribs from their respective foil pouches, brush both sides lightly with sauce (optional), and return them to the cooker for 45mins to an hour,  to let them firm up and the sauce get good and sticky.  Be careful removing them from the foil because they will likely be falling apart.
  • That’s it!  Serve ‘em up and enjoy!


Traditional Holiday Luncheon, Brisket & Pulled Pork

We scheduled a holiday luncheon with my new team.  Now with nearly 70 folks in the department, I dont’ really have the capacity to BBQ for everyone.  So when we asked everyone to bring  a dish, I thought heck there’s no reason my dish can’t be BBQ.  I’m glad it was too.  While we had lots of other stuff including sandwiches from a local shop, it didn’t stop the team from plowing through an 8 lb. brisket flat and 12 lbs. of pork butt.

I fired up the Big Green Egg last night at a little after 8:00pm and got the meat on shortly before 9:00pm.  I kept an eye on it until around midnight before I turned in.  Woke up at 3:00am and took a quick look at the temperature guage, tweaked the lower vent, and was back in bed in about 10 minutes.  Got up at 6:00am and took my first reading of the meat temp.  Brisket came off the BGE at 7:45am and the butts about an hour later.  I wrapped them in foil, stuck them in a cooler, and sliced the brisket and pulled the butts right before lunch at 11:30am.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the BBQ as well as the opportunity to hang out and celebrate the holidays.  I know I did.

BBQ Porn

My wife looks at me strangely when I grab the camera to snap some pics of my latest BBQ creation.  I guess I started photographing the process to share with other “enthusiasts” (some would call us freaks).  But I don’t think it’s that crazy.

Anyway, I fired up the Big Green Egg last night and put a 7 lb. beef brisket on for lunch today and sandwiches the rest of the week.  I used a rub that a co-worker gave me a while back.  It’s called Brisket Rub and it’s from the Goode Company in Texas.  I’ve liked most of the stuff from this outfit, but I think there are other brisket rubs that I like better.

I tended the fire late into the night, watched the Nittany Lions knock off the Buckeyes, and saw most of game 3 of the World Series.  I finally called it a night around midnight, slept soundly for 6 hours, and woke to find the egg chugging along peacefully at 235 degrees.  The brisket was done, so I wrapped it in foil, stuck it in a dry cooler, and got another hour of sleep.

Here’s what lunch looks like today.  Now who’s crazy?  🙂

(Phydeaux, check out the bokeh with my 50mm prime!)