I've been labeled as a traditionalist by some in the "barbecue" world, as if it were a dirty word. Seems to me that that is a pretty proud label to be wearing.
Barbqr's Comments--It appears that "would be barbecuers" associate barbecue with illiterate southerners. They seem to think that if they talk, and dress, like their version of a red neck or "good ol' boy", this will make them an expert in barbecue, or "Q" as these overall dressed yuppies refer to it.
In my wandering and lurking on the net, I ran into these terms that were foreign to me: polders, lump, bark, points, flats and other "in" terms. I found out that polders were remote reading thermometers and there was much discussion of the length of time that you cooked meat and the internal temperature. You cook barbecue until it is DONE; time and temperature have nothing to do with it.
Lump turned out to be charcoal, (they called briquettes charcoal) and bark was the coating or crust on the meat. Oh, and some of them like bark on the meat, but not on the wood. It gets complicated!
"Flats" were a market trim brisket; "points" were, evidently, what was cut off of a packer trim brisket to make a flat.
THE XS FILES...concerning those who think more is better.
These people talk about "brining" and/or marinating meat. Then they put a rub on it and possibly use a mop. Next is a "finishing sauce"! Then they debate about whether leaving the bark on the wood affects the taste of the meat. HOW can they tell? And, how many barbecue joints have you seen with a stack of peeled logs out back?
I am just glad that they call it "Q"; maybe no one will confuse it with barbecue. Oh, and if you hear someone talking about burners or water pans or brining or injecting, these terms have no connection with barbecue.
And steak, they put rub and sauce on it (after marinating of course) and then probably smoke it. I really believe that most of these people are vegetarians, because of the things that they do to meat. Oh well, that's Qing.
I may have to write a book. The latest thing is "dry rubs". They are discussing whether you should coat the meat with mustard, so that it will hold the rub or maybe mix the rub with olive oil or something else and paint it on the meat, etc. Now, it seems to me that the term DRY RUB is self instructing. You put it on dry! Then, you rub it in. But, that is too simple; you have to complicate it and mess it up.
I thought I had seen everything; now I'm almost afraid to explore. I joined this "Chile Head" list. It runs true to form: Hotter is better; scoville over taste. One member posted a "prize winning chili" recipe. It used ground beef, two commercial chili mixes, cocoa, liquid smoke, megascovilles and, among other things, KIDNEY BEANS. People just won't learn!
Oh yeah, they use terms to describe doneness like "falling off the bone", "melt in your mouth", "cut with a fork", etc. Meat should have texture; that's why steak knives were invented. It should be tender, but not mushy. Speaking of mushy, don't ever use meat tenderizer.
Just saw a competition cook's proposal for a Sausage Category entry: sausage patties with barbeque sauce on them. Would these be sauceage?
I've also seen a lot of these competition "barbecue" cooks talking about "presentation" and what kind of lettuce to use. Now the presentation of barbecue that I am most familiar with is on a piece of butcher paper and I don't know of ANY connection between lettuce and barbecue.
I was recently informed by a "barbecue cook" that world class barbecue was one that had won a KCBS competition. Learn something new every day.
Speaking of new, I have now been told that pastrami is barbecue. To say that I am dumfounded is an understatement. This allegation is backed up by other "experts" because pastrami is made from brisket and smoking is part of the process. I have not been able to convince them that "smoking" is not barbecuing. Oh, well! How do you expect them to know what it is when they can't even spell it?
It may be a losing battle. I saw, not long ago: VEGETARIAN SAUSAGE. It is made with TVP. Now that is something that should scare the food police; it sounds like something that you would put in your gas tank. Actually, it is "texturized vegetable protein". I don't even want to know what that is.
To vent or not to vent, that is the question...
This has nothing to do with controlling the temperature in your cooker. It is to vent my frustrations. Some people have seen the light and acknowledged that barbecuing is not grilling a hamburger patty. In the transformation process, they have learned a few "barbecue" terms like polder and lump and have become barbecue experts. They have concluded that cooking for great lengths of time will cause the meat to dry out, therefore you need a water pan. NOW YOU CAN HAVE WET MEAT!
They have also decided that this long period of cooking, and necessary fire tending, interferes with watching TV and equally important things, so you need a gas or electric burner on your cooker. You can put some woodchips or chunks in there to get some smoke. You also need a temperature gauge, preferably remote reading, so you don't have to leave that chair in front of the TV. I hope you noticed my cooker on the previous page. There is no temperature gauge. I put my hand on the upper right corner of the right hand door; if I can hold it there, it's not hot enough. If I can place my hand there, but not hold it, it's just right. If my hand sticks to the metal, it's too hot. Of course, I have to be outside at the cooker which turns a lot of people off.
Along these lines, I saw a lively discussion recently on how you light the charcoal in a "chimney". (Someone had not been able to do this.) A "chimney", for the uninitiated, is a cylindrical charcoal starter in which the charcoal is put in the top and newspaper is put in the bottom and lit. The burning newspaper will ignite the charcoal and the draft going up through the charcoal will light it fairly quickly. Now I have said before that one of the most important things in barbecuing is building and maintaining a fire. If you have trouble lighting newspaper, this is going to be a problem. Suggestions were offered, such as putting cooking oil on the paper and how many sheets of newspaper to use. Also there was some discussion of the sheet size: whether it should be full size or if tabloid size was okay. Some cooks get around this problem by using a butane "pear burner" or having a butane jet within the cooker. These are all usually the purists who don't use liquid starter because it will affect the taste of the meat. Keep in mind that this meat has been injected, marinated, had a rub applied and will probably be mopped and sauced.
Also, on the subject of wood. I see these "cooks" commenting on what woods are good to cook with. This means putting chunks or chips of wood on charcoal or briquettes. A common complaint is that mesquite leaves a strong or bitter taste. If you use mesquite like it was meant to be used and burn logs down to coals, then it is great wood. I had someone ask what I meant by "coals". Honest! I don't make this stuff up.
Latest! Several "pros" have posted instructions for reheating ribs in the microwave. Lord help us! Now, if these were boiled ribs, slathered with liquid smoke laced sauce, a microwave might be appropriate for reheating.
In the process of trying to convince some people that Texas had saved the wine industry in Europe, some people allowed that they drank wine with barbecue. Now that is fine, if that is what you like. However, I would bet that a true wine connoisseur, not a oenosnob, would recommend beer with barbecue. I know one thing; don't go in a barbecue joint and ask for the wine list.
Stay tuned; this is a work in progress and I am just getting warmed up.
THE MISSING LINK:
This was brought about by some of the misconceptions about sausage. It appears that the folks outside of Central Texas and some areas of South Texas and Southern Louisiana have no idea of the content of sausage. Their idea of sausage is Wieners (Frankfurters/ Hot Dogs), Balogna (Baloney) and Brats(Bratwurst). These are all bland meat mush in a casing. Wieners are in a small diameter casing and Balogna is in a large diameter casing. Anything in between is a Brat. Since none of these have any flavor of their own, they are disguised by boiling, boiling in beer and/or covered up with mustard, relish, chili (ha) and various vegetables. The latest attempt at making them attractive is "smoking". This is another example of the people who have discovered "smoking" and think that it is a cure-all.
There was also some talk about "chicken sausage" and my response was that there was no such thing as chicken sausage. Now, I looked this up, just to be sure. The dictionary references say that sausage is " highly seasoned minced meat, stuffed into casings or made into patties". Some of them went further and said "generally pork", but all said "meat" and meat is not chicken. (more later)
OPINION:Some of this may be repetition, but some of it bears repeating.
Things that DO NOT go on sandwiches: Sauer Kraut, Cole Slaw, Potatoes, Fish (with the possible exception of tuna fish), Ketchup. Things that DO NOT go in/on barbeque: Injections, Liquid Smoke, Sauce.
Barbeque does not need an IV and Liquid Smoke is used by people who boil ribs and do barbecue in the oven. Sauce on the meat is used to disguise the taste.
I have also seen some references lately to "white chili". White and green chili do not compute. Chili is red! Have you ever heard of a "bowl of white" or a "bowl of green"? Case closed!
Just saw a new web-site by this Bob feller (that sounds familiar) down in Georgia. He is a proponent of "real barbecue". Now, he has one of the best outlooks (outside of mine) on cooks, cookers, cookoffs, judging, etc. that I have seen. He had a lot of good information on cooking a pig and it was real authentic, the way he did it, but he has this hang-up on hogs. I agree that pork is mighty fine eating, and I probably eat more pork than beef, but I don't see where it has anything to do with barbecue. Maybe he plans on getting around to that later.
FACTS! This is a new feature. It was brought about by a "bbq" expert that informed me that barbecue was not ever cooked directly over coals, with the possible exception of some places in Texas. It was certainly not done in the East or South. I know those people are going to be saddened because they have been doing it wrong all these years.
Just had a new one! I have now been informed by a net-xpurt that meat is NOT barbecue until you put sauce on it. Honest!
More along this line (it's really hard to believe). A person on this "BBQ" email list, who has opened a restaurant, posted their menu. It had "Smoked Chicken" and "Barbecue Chicken" listed. A list member asked what the difference was, since the two terms are synonymous to most on the list. The reply was that the "Barbecue" had sauce on it. This was not questioned by any member of the list.
BOURBONIZING!! A NEW FEATURE! A criticism, critique or castigation of cooks, cooking or cookery. I may be getting old, but I have a problem with people who are so busy, important or lazy that they cannot maintain a fire. They may have acquiesced, finally, to the use of something other than gas in cooking, but they are "hanging in" that charcoal, wood, etc. should be started with a butane/propane/gas burner. I don't have a whole lot of problem with this, but it is like many other things in our society; we are going to have all these people that don't know how to strike a match. Stay tuned. .
I am going to have to change this whole page. Recently, I heard that they are injecting brisket. Now this is so ridiculous that I am not really able to comment at this point. I have since questioned this on a "barbecue list" and was assailed for even thinking that this wasn't proper. To say that I was stunned is an understatement. I still don't know why they do it or what they hope to accomplish, other than it seems to be the current fad. That's what it seems to boil down to, is fad cooking.
I have been noting some of the recent championships with some wonderment. I have decided that I am going to organize a Texas Clam Chowder Cookoff. I can hold judging classes and probably be assured of a first place. I can create some controversy about the authenticity of New England Clam Chowder or New York Clam Chowder. I may expand this to include New England Pot Roast and other regional dishes. Stay tuned.
I have been pondering this for quite awhile and I think I have come up with an analogy. Competition cooks spend more time and money in trying to raise their chances through equipment investment, tuning, etc. than they do in learning their equipment and how to cook.
The analogy is the competition shooter, who buys a pistol and spends upward of $5000.00 having it customized and tuned. He then uses hand-loaded ammunition in achieving a score. The true test would be taking pistols, or better yet, revolvers, off the shelf (same make and model). Ammunition off the shelf, and split it among the shooters. THEN you would see who is the best shot.
If the competition cooks were to use a concrete block pit with a grate and wood fired (no thermometers), they would have to use fire control/management. Provide some oak, mesquite, pecan and hickory logs. Split a goat (dressed) and let them start. Goat is very lean meat: it is going to take some tending, but you will find out who is the barbecuer.
When I started this list, I was hoping to get some comments. I have had a fair number of visitors, but very little feedback. I can only assume that everyone agrees with me, is afraid to opine or thinks that I am a complete idiot.
TEX TEX-MEX MEX TEXICANA CAJUN SOUTH'N LAGNIAPPE CAMPFIRE PUTTIN' BY etc.
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