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bar*be*cue  (verb transitive) -cued; -cu*ing
First appeared 1690 1 : to roast or broil on a rack over hot coals or on a revolving spit before or over a source of heat.
2 : to cook in a highly seasoned vinegar sauce.
-- bar*be*cu*er (noun)
barbecue  also bar*be*que (noun)
[American Spanish barbacoa framework for supporting meat over a fire, probably from Taino]
First appeared 1709 1 : a large animal (as a steer) roasted whole or split over an open fire or a fire in a pit; also : smaller pieces of barbecued meat. 2 : a social gathering esp. in the open air at which barbecued food is eaten. 3 : an often portable fireplace over which meat and fish are roasted
We all know that it is a scientific fact that a healthy diet should include a substantial amount of smoked meats. To help you make some good dietary choices, we'd like to share a little of what The Melroys have come to know about finding good barbeque at home and abroad (at least in the Midwest). We'll feature some of our favorite road stops, share tips and recipes, and look forward to hearing about yours.
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION (AND WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT BBQ)
Gregg Hopkins - Sept 8, 01
At our house, I'm the one who does the outdoor cooking. If it were up to me, I'd happily wait all day for our dinner to languish over low heat absorbing wood-smoke flavors while I languish in a low chair absorbing cigar-smoke flavors and ice-cold Tanqueray and Tonic (with a wheel of fresh lime, thank you). But it's not up to me, as She Who I Must Obey wants what she wants WHEN SHE WANTS IT. I've often found the microwave stopped with just ONE second to go because She just can't wait ANY longer.
The One With Whom I've Chosen To Grow Old doesn't like the lighter-fluid-less chimney I prefer to use to start the charcoal because, in its absence of billowing flames and fumes, it seems to take longer for the briquettes to reach Her preferred cooking temperature (that required to forge horse-shoes). There should also, My Love suggests, be enough charcoal so that, an hour after dinner, we can still make s'mores or turn a crucible of sand into molten glass.
This kind of fire can cook any cut of any species to Her taste (black on the outside, dry in the middle) in less than five l o n g minutes. My dear mother-in-law, concerned for my safety, gave me a set of extra long tongs and a pair of asbestos mitts. Using these and with a wet towel over my face, I can safely prepare Her dinner without personally bursting into flames. I think this is the same protection used by the dare-devil crews who extinguished the oil-well fires in Kuwait.
We know it is the flavor of the smoke of certain woods that separates a charcoal-grilled hamburger from real pit bbq. But to get the smoke to flavor the food takes more time. The professionals who drag multi-thousand dollar four-wheeled barbeque pits behind RVs full of charcoal, wood, spices, sauce, meat, and beer, to out-barbeque their worthy competitors, sometimes smoke the meat all weekend before it is presented for tasting by the officials.
This past July, we had the opportunity to take things just a little slower while on a family vacation at a beach house in Destin, Florida. There was time for longer cigars, taller T & Tonics, and a cooler fire with some smoking wood chips under the lid of that rented Weber Kettle.
I'm told it is customary for beach rental occupants to leave behind some non-perishable items at the end of a temporary stay, for the next revelers to use and enjoy. In addition to the tub of margarita salt, now hardened into a solid disc by damp ocean air, and the sand in the shower, our benefactors thoughtfully stashed -- in the corner of the deck behind half a pair of swim fins and a can of insect-repelling tiki-torch fuel -- a half bag of mesquite-wood chips.
Some people actually read directions; I do. So before even un-twisting it to have a sniff, I read that bag of chips front-to-back, then again to make sure I had it right.
I followed the directions to a T. (I not only read them but I follow them) Using a little less charcoal than "usual" and spreading it out a bit, I made some cooler zones for our eight ounce bacon-wrapped filets. I scattered the chips on the glowing coals, put on the meat, closed the lid and adjusted the vents so just enough air could get in to keep the coals alive and release a streaming curly ribbon of blueish-white smoke.
- Soak 3 or 4 cups of chips in water for at least 30 minutes. (Wet wood produces the delicious smoke that flavors your food and keeps meats juicy.)
- Start a charcoal fire as you usually do. (Or maybe not as hot if you "usually" melt through the bottom of your grill every year.) [I knew they were speaking to me.]
- When coals are red-hot and covered with white ash, scatter a cup or more of wet wood chips evenly on the hot coals
- Start cooking immediately. For best results, cover the grill to allow the delicious smoke aroma to fully penetrate the food.
Having selected and ignited -- at the same time as the fire -- a hand rolled product of a small island 90 miles south of Florida, of generous length and ample girth, it was now at about its halfway point as our porkine-encircled bovine morsels began their journey to succullent, smoke-infused splendidity. With the care and skill of an attentive lover, I teased and turned the steaks as I puffed and fondled the cigar so as to bring them to a mutual peak and conclusion.
I met The Mother of My Children's multiple inquiries of "how much longer?" with, "Just a few more minutes, Pet, is there any more tonic?" Then, "It won't be long now, Darling, better make sure that beer in the freezer doesn't explode." Finally, "They're almost ready to come off; is that a shark out by the parasail boat?" Along with the bubbly golden brown-bottled beverage She allowed Herself to consume a little more freely that week, my questions and diversions so distracted her from the passing of time that she hardly noticed I wasn't using the Bessemer process of cooking our dinner.
Finally, the smoke and heat had done their jobs and the slightly sizzling beef pucks were plated among some sautéd mushrooms and onions and an oven-baked spud which had been rubbed with some oil and seasoned salt. While the steaks had not been exposed to the smoke long enough for it to have penetrated deeply, they were greatly enhanced by the savory mesquite smoke; brown on the outside, fully cooked, but juicy inside. I consumed mine without salt, pepper, sauce, or any further augmentation. Also very pleased (dare I say "impressed"?) was She Who Wears my T-Shirts to Bed.
Wib's - Jackson, MO About a mile or two west of I-55 exit 105.
For over 50 years, Wib's has featured sandwiches of smoked pork shoulder sliced thin and laid on fresh white Bunny Bread. Spicy sauce is painted on during assembly and the whole works is grilled from both sides on a sandwich grill. Order more or less sauce to suit your tolerance - Plain (no sauce), Regular (a swipe or two), Hot (a little more), Xtra Hot (enough to make your head sweat just a little), XX Hot (usually enough for me, depending on who's making them)
Sandwiches are toasted crunchy on the outside. The pork has a great smoky taste and so does the sauce. Eat in and they are served on a paper lined tray; take-out, they are folded neatly in the same white paper and stacked in a brown bag. They even mark the wrappers so you know not to give the XX Hot to your 3 year old.
Variations - A "COMBINATION" gets a dollop of pimento cheese spread inside before grilling. A "MINCED" is a grilled sandwich made with the smoked pork turned into "pork salad", sort of like chicken salad, tuna salad, etc. An "OUTSIDE" (my favorite) has thicker slices of the crusty outside of the smoked shoulder. Since this represents a smaller portion of each smoked shoulder, they often run out which I find a major disappointment. You probably wouldn't like them anyway so just don't order them.
I've seen polite, petite women eat more of these sandwiches than they'd want me to tell. And a grown man might eat almost that many. They do travel well, are good cold, or can be "rejuvenated" to their former glory with a few seconds in the microwave, then as long as you can wait for them in the toaster oven.
Believe it or not, the sandwiches are really good with chocolate milk. Picnic tables are provided in a grassy area between the parking lot and a small creek. More than a few years ago, curb hops would take your order at your car, bring your sandwiches and soda pop in glass bottles with paper straws out on a special tray, and hang it on your window. Trust me, it's worth the walk to the front door to eat in, or to the enclosed take-out window on the side. Although they are listed on the menu, people will point and laugh if you order the corn dog!
Southern Illinois BBQ
Submitted by our friend Scott Kay of Scott Kay and the ContinentalsGregg and I have already discussed these issues at great length, but I thought I would add my two cents here in the BBQ forum. I regularly get people asking me for my pulled pork "recipe," to which I chuckle and make some smart-ass comment about "the art of BBQ" and how you can't simply follow a recipe. The one thing I've always wondered since I moved to St. Louis from Ava, Illinois is simply - why did St. Louis never really become a BBQ town in the same way that our neighbors like K.C. and Memphis did? Did the Italian and German influence drown it out? Though St. Louis is slowly coming around due in part to the influence of Super Smokers and Bandanas, most St. Louisans' still consider BBQ to be a pork steak thrown on a grill for 20 minutes and drowned in Maulls. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not true slow-smoked BBQ. But I guess that's why we have this forum.Across the river from Gregg's hometown of Cape, there's some mighty great, award-winning BBQ in Murphysboro, IL. The legendary Witt's BBQ down by the Big Muddy River started it all, though they went out of business some years back. Witt's was simply a cinder block building with a pit out back where a car hop (usually the owner) would take your order. They served ultra-juicy pulled pork sandwiches on white bread with a thin hot sauce. Great BBQ in Murphysboro can now be found at both the 17th Street Bar and Grill and at Browns BBQ. 17th Street won First Place at Memphis in May a few years back. They have great dry-rubbed ribs and pulled pork BBQ smoked with apple (I think) and use a slightly sweet tangy sauce. Browns, down by the river, is very similar to the old Witt's and use a thin hot sauce. I wouldn't say one is any better than the other - they're both really good. They both use indirect heat to slow-smoke the meat.A lot of people think you need a fancy smoker to make good BBQ. Unless you're doing BBQ for a big crowd, all you really need is a standard Weber grill. To do it right, make a small pile (12" or so across) of coals on one side of the grill and place an aluminum roasting pan full of water on the other. Soak your wood chips of choice the night before (hickory, apple, mesquite, etc). Get you coals good and gray, then place a whole pork butt over the water pan, NOT OVER THE COALS. Put your wood chips on the coals, and put the cover on the grill. The bottom vents should be open all the way, but the top vents should be barely open. The temp you're shooting for is right around 200 degrees. A standard size pork butt should take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, depending on weather, etc. You know it's done when the meat pulls from the bone and the outside is almost black. You shouldn't see much change in color at all for the first hour or so. Remember, this is a SLOW process that usually works best with an ample supply of beverages in a cooler next to the Weber. Also, don't sauce the meat on the grill - save that for the table after it's pulledBBQ and roots/rockabilly music goes well together, so hire the Melroys or Scott Kay and the Continentals for your next pig roast. Bon Appetite!Scott Kay - musician"Scott Kay and the Continentals"
SUBMIT your favorite BBQ tip, recipe, or road stop!
Suggested future write-ups for this page. Let's hear yours! - Stooges (Jackson, MO) - Pappy's Smokehouse (St Louis, MO) - The Hickory Log (Dexter, MO) - The Pilot House (Cape Girardeau) - Bandana's (St Louis) - Super Smokers (St Louis) - Bobby Tom's (Pevely)
What a great time we had grilling
in the back yard
the day Lyle came over with his wonder-dog, Fritz!
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