Sunday, November 3, 2019

Texas pork belly bites!

sampled 11/3/19

I have been threatening to try smoking some pork belly for awhile now, but ran into an unexpected problem of actually finding some pork belly to smoke!  My racquetball buddy David in Euless solved that problem when he told me about U.S. Foods Chef'store in Farmers Branch.  We made the drive over there after the Blues, Bandits, & BBQ Fest yesterday and picked up an almost 11 pound  skinless pork belly for $2.55/lb.
This morning we sliced it up into large squares.  We don't have a fine mesh screen for the small size pork belly bites, so we just made them bigger to stay on our little bullet smoker's grate.  We dusted every square heavily on both sides with North Main BBQ All-N-1 steak seasoning and popped them on the smoker for 3 hours.
After 3 hours of heavy smoking, here's what we had.
A quick check with a meat thermometer found an internal temperature of 180 degrees, which is just dandy.  However I could tell from the probe going in that the tenderness was not there quite yet.  A few sample bites were delicious, but there was still just a bit of a chew.  On to the next step.  We pulled the meat from the top rack and coated it with BBQ sauce, honey, a few pats of butter, and wrapped tightly in heavy foil.  I committed one of my last bottles of original Dr Pepper BBQ sauce to the effort.  Next we pulled the meat from the bottom rack and did the same.  Both wrapped packages went back on the smoker for another 45 minutes for some steam tendering.
After 45 minutes on the smoker, I pulled the top package and tested the larger squares with a knife.  They needed just a little more tenderizing, so I wrapped them back up again and threw them back in the smoker for another 30 minutes.  The next test the knife slipped in like butter, so I added some more sauce on top and put it back in the smoker with the top open for another 30 minutes.  Here's what we got.
Out of 11 lbs, I think we ended up with about 7 lbs of delicious pork belly. There were a few squares that were a little chewy, probably the meatier parts of the belly.  The fat was perfectly rendered and turned to gravy when we bit down.  I think I'd call this experiment a success.  Especially for $2.55/lb.  The only thing I think I would change is to do the wrapped tenderizing and unwrapped caramelization in the oven.  One of the aluminum foil wrapped packages sprung a leak on the way from the smoker to the kitchen.  I think we'd like to avoid that in the future!

Blues, Bandits, and BBQ 2019

Always a fun event and admission of just $25 for tasting tickets is one of the biggest bargains on the BBQ Fest circuit.  It was a beautiful Fall day and the crowd seemed a bit larger than usual.
There seemed to be fewer cookers competing this year.  I think temperatures in the 30's the night before may have weeded out some of the participants.
The food this year was also weaker than usual.  There were a few good samples, several pork belly bites, some chicken, and pulled pork, but the brisket, sausage, and tacos were decidedly average.  Only one pork rib was offered and it was average, too.
Still, a beautiful day, some beer, and lots of different BBQ made for a fun day and a full belly.  We will certainly be back again next year, but hopefully the weather is a little worse and the food is a little better!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Blues, Bandits, & BBQ tickets on sale now

Always a fun event, featuring IBCA competition BBQ teams.  There's usually between 20 and 30 teams competing in the people's choice competition.  A $25 tasting ticket will get you fed while live music and games go on around you in the park.

Green's Texas Bar B Que, 10/12/19

Another awesome lunch at Green's today. We got there about 10:30 and were first in the line.  Mr. Green had been doing some "practice" half turkey breasts getting ready for a catering job and Thanksgiving.  He came out and brought us some delicious samples of smoked turkey.  If he had some for sale, I would have bought a couple of pounds.  Delicious, moist, and great smoke flavor.  He'll announce his Thanksgiving pre-order schedule later.  I think we may get a couple.
I got 5 orders of his delicious pork belly bites, three brisket biscuits, and some fatty brisket.   We took it home and had a feast.  Excellent, as always.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Pecan Lodge 10/11/19

The Trough and 2 racks of beef ribs to go makes for a very happy tummy.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The great biscuit experiment

sampled 9/23/19

Ok, this is another one of those screwy experiments I just wanted to try.  We love Green's brisket biscuits.  Everyone does.  He takes biscuit dough, wraps it around some smoked brisket, and fries it up crispy brown.  It puffs up light and flaky and is delicious, especially when you pour in a little sauce after your first bite.  Well I thought I'd try just putting some BBQ into some biscuit dough and baking the biscuits as usual to see how that would taste.  So I did it.
We got some Green's BBQ on Saturday, just before Smoked Dallas, and put it in the fridge for later.  I took some store brand flaky buttermilk biscuit dough, split it in half, and added pork belly bites and brisket.  Then I did the same with sausage.
I didn't moosh it down or crimp the edges, just pushed the biscuit top down firmly.
They went into the oven at 350 for 17 minutes.  The biscuits weren't quit browned enough after the normal cooking time, so I left them in for 2 extra minutes.  I thought they came out pretty good.  The biscuits were a bit soft in the middle around the meat, but they ate just fine!
I suspect just baking the biscuits, splitting, and adding warm BBQ would be less trouble and just as good.  Maybe better.  It was a fun experiment, though, and I'm glad I tried it out.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Smoked Dallas 2019

sampled 9/21/19

We have been to all of the Smoked Dallas fests and we sure don't plan on missing any future versions.  This year they featured 20 great Q joints, plus Cafe Momentum serving sides.  There was supposed to be a pie place, too, but I never found them.  That's OK.  Schmidt Family served banana pudding and Tejas Chocolate Craftory had their excellent bourbon chocolate mousse so we got our dessert fix, too.
As always, we bought the VIP tickets and got to the venue about 35 minutes before the VIP opening at 1 pm.  I was surprised to see about 100 people in front of us.  Usually if we got there 30 minutes early we were about 10th in line.  Someone suggested it might be the fault of blog posts.  Mea culpa.  We cued up in the chutes, got carded for booze and wrist banded for BBQ.  Their FAQ had an onerous warning about tight security and said backpacks and chairs would not be allowed.  Not true. Folks in front of us had back packs and chairs and got in no problem.  In previous years, I had always worn my small backpack, but brought a smaller bag this time for sun screen and give-aways.  There was no bag check at all this year, at least when we went in.  Sort of strange.  The PreKindle and security folks always seem to be a bit flaky at these events, but it was more so this year.  More than once I heard some staff person say one thing, then get corrected by another staff person almost immediately.  Good help is hard to find.
They let the VIPs in about 5 minutes early and we were off to the BBQ races.  Security let in all the chutes at one time, instead of in order, causing a big jam up at the entrance.  Noobs in charge.  After we got through the scrum, it was business as usual.  We gathered our first box full of goodness and headed to the VIP area to grab our first beer and start gnoshing.  A couple of joints were not ready to serve yet, which always puzzles me a bit.  Black's immediately had a line about 15 deep, so I skipped them and moved on.  I caught up with them and the tardy servers later.  After chomping through my first batch, I headed back to catch the rest.  Black's still had a good line so I saved them for last.  We had no trouble gathering all 20 samples before the general admission hordes descended a little before 2 pm.
There was the usual mixed bag of samples being handed out by the participants.  Brisket ranged from a tiny bite to half a slice, there was plenty of sausage, several soft tacos, but only one pork rib.  I don't think we had a bad bite of brisket or sausage all day, and the huge parmesan pork rib from Smoke Sessions was very good.  Louie Mueller's stood out with some excellent beef rib bites sliced by Wayne Mueller.
There were several participants in the "other" category including excellent whole brisket poppers from Panther City and popper bites from Hutchin's.  Black's had some awesome jalapeno sausage corny dog bites that would go over great at the State Fair.  Ferris Wheeler's had some nice smoked turkey.  Hurtado had a prime rib taco.  Heim had their wonderful bacon burnt ends and Meat Church had their equally wonderful chicken fried burnt ends. I really wanted to grab that pot and run off.
We had a lot of great food from 20 joints.  The only thing I left alone were most of the tacos.  Shredded brisket or pork tacos with green stuff on them were not worth the stomach space compared to the more traditional BBQ servings and even most of the "other" samples.  I know some folks dig them, different strokes, folks.  We headed out about 2:30 pm and there were still hordes of folks in line to enter.
Smoked Dallas is always a very fun event.  I appreciated the fact they had more beer choices this year.  The tall boy Shiners were my pick.  There was even a Daniel Vaughn sighting this year.  The original Meato Bandito!
The second annual Smoked Fort Worth has been pushed off til next Spring and we will sure try to make that one, too
A couple of posts of booths, food, and others photos will follow below.  As always, you can click on any photo for a larger view.