Quel News

New Life

posted Feb 22, 2015, 6:38 AM by C Compton

There is still precious little time to make this site what I think it should be, but I am adding a few things as time permits.  If you visit you will see recipes that aren't necessarily "grill" recipes and this reflects my overall approach to diet and lifestyle.  I still believe everything is better when prepared with wood and charcoal, I just don't think everything has to be prepared that way.  Of course, time and weather permitting, one could prepare any recipe on a properly configured cooker.  ;)

I hope you enjoy some of the new stuff and please share with your friends.

A Site Divided

posted Jan 18, 2015, 6:21 AM by C Compton

For the past few years I have not done much with this site.  Cooking or smoking on a grill is still my favorite way of cooking, but there is more than a grill.  I have struggled with changing the name.  I have thought about shutting it down completely.  Ultimately both are still possibilities, but for now I plan to add my other recipes here in the land of Que and decide on the rest later.  So, if you are looking for a grill or smoking recipe, it is still here.  If you are looking for something to cook in the house, it will be here as well. I also think anything that can be cooked in an oven is better when cooked on a grill.  Give it a try and let me know what you like the best or how you change my recipes.  After all, they are just guidelines.

A Change Has Come

posted Sep 23, 2012, 6:57 AM by C Compton   [ updated Sep 23, 2012, 6:59 AM ]

I haven't liked my site as much recently as I have in the past.  It's true that my life has changed and my schedule too.  I recently gave this some thought as I exchanged e-mails with a friend and continued to think about what has changed.  I have decided the reason my interest waned is that my site no longer reflects me.  That must change.

There were many recipes and photos that I have posted that frankly aren't healthy for anyone.  I don't eat many of these very powerful carbohydrates and don't believe anyone should.  I am not trying to preach and I don't wish to debate the issue with anyone.  If you believe I am a quack off on some "fad" diet, you would be wrong, but I am OK with you believing that.  If you are curious about things of this nature there are many resources for you to explore and I will post a few of my favorites at the end.  From my personal experience, and for more than weight issues, human beings should not consume sugar, wheat, potatoes, rice, and many other powerful carbohydrates.  For this reason many things that where here are not going forward.  I don't eat them and I feel that I shouldn't present them in a way that would make others want to eat them.  

Memphis in May Results

posted May 21, 2012, 7:09 AM by C Compton

I would like to congratulate Yazoo's Delta Q for having the Grand Champion Hog at the Memphis in May Barbecue competition.  

The results can be found here.

Memphis in May

posted May 17, 2012, 1:35 PM by C Compton

One of the major barbecue competitions, some say the biggest, begins today.  Memphis in May is an annual collection of the best pitmasters and some not so good.  There are other events surrounding the three day event, but the Q is where it's at!  Last years Champion, Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue returns to do battle with with well known teams like Cool Smoke-- Pitmaster Tuffy Stone, Jack's Old South-- Pitmaster Myron Mixon, Yazoo's Delta Q-- Pitmaster Melissa Cookston, and many more.  I wouldn't count Chris Lilly, Pitmaster for Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue out for a repeat, but repeating in this competition is a bigger challenge than your first brisket.

One thing I always find interesting is the names of barbecue teams.  Some teams represent companies and their names reflect that.  Then you have Big Al and the Buttrubbers, The Count Bastie Porkestra, Hogs & Kisses, Pork Fiction,  Pork Me Baby,  Pork Me Tender,  Pork O Saurus, and the Porkstars.  Whew!  It's a veritable Pig Pandemonium and that's the name of a team too!

This competition and all the others in the Memphis Barbecue Network uses an different scoring system which reflects their total interest in pork barbecue.  Three categories are cooked: Whole Hog, Pork Butt, and Pork Rib.  The highest single category score gets the Grand Prize.  So a feller could have tough ribs, burn his hog, and a really nice butt would get him the Grand Prize.  I am not sure how Chris Lilly's ribs or hog turned out last year, but he apparently had the best butt in Memphis! :)  The second way MBN competitions differ is that a judge visits each team in contention for the best of category.  The pitmaster then has to put on the swine and dine show.  I can promise you that the often blunt Myron Mixon is the king of polishing his hog for a judge.

Since all of this is subjective, it really can be any ones day.  I am looking forward to the results and I believe I just may have to make some Q on Saturday to demonstrate my barbecue solidarity.

Q On...

Barbecue Begat Civilization

posted May 14, 2012, 12:20 PM by C Compton

Man... Food... Fire... A presentation by Steven Raichlen at Harvard.  It will come as no surprise to anyone that has a copy of Planet Barbecue that Steven has completed a massive amount of research on this subject.  I found it very fascinating not as much from a cooking perspective, but from an evolution perspective.  He talks of great jaw muscles that were required for chewing all day prior to the ability to make fire and cook.  He also discusses the "sacrifices" by earlier civilizations where a beast was burned... barbecue anyone?  I truly enjoyed this intellectual look at barbecue and our evolution and hope that you will find it the same.

My Future of Barbecue

posted May 12, 2012, 8:53 AM by C Compton

My last post was about the future of barbecue according to some other knowledgeable folks.  Now I would like to tell you about the future of my barbecue.  I have spent a great deal of time learning about our American diets and what several trusted organizations say we should and shouldn't eat.  I will not be boring you with all that.  I will be telling you that my barbecue, going forward, will be much lower in carbohydrates.  More accurately, I am talking about a low-carb lifestyle and how that relates to barbecue.  

I know there are going to be folks from Kansas City and parts of North Carolina that think this is barbecue blasphemy.  No Sugar!  You must be kidding.  While folks from Texas and the other half of the Carolina's will think nothing of it.  Truth is I prefer my barbecue to be more spicy and less sweet.  There are folks everywhere that think that BBQ sauce should be as thick and sweet as molasses-- not at my house.  Oh there was a bottle of sweet sauce on the side for folks that think that's good, but I always had dry rub or vinegar based sauce on my Q.  What does all this mean... for me barbecue isn't going to change much.  The sides will.  I have already said goodbye to tater salad, baked beans, mac & cheese, and buns.  It is amazing where those carbs are hiding!  :)

So I have a new recipe section.  Low Carb Recipes and it is steadily growing.  I look for it to replace the old one in the future.  I hope you like the new section; maybe try a recipe.  Either way it is safe to say that low-carb is the future of my barbecue.

The Future of Barbecue...

posted Jan 21, 2012, 4:50 PM by C Compton

I just read an interesting article about the future of barbecue-- you can read it here.  One guy says that beef prices will continue to rise since the drought in Texas is likely to continue.  Makes sense.  There are other astute observations and some that I think are just... well... waste from the cow whose price is about to go up.The one I really want to talk about is from John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed.  I've never heard of them before nor have I heard of their cook book.  I will stipulate for this discussion that they know of what they speak and since I like the opinion they expressed I might go buy the book.  That decision will be based on the likelihood of my divorce should I come home with another barbecue cookbook! :)  Just kidding... the CFO is very supportive of my tasty addiction.  Here is thier prognostication...

John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, co-authors of “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue. “So much to denounce, so little space…One, would-be barbecue places turning to what Hank Hill calls “energy-efficient clean-burning propane” to produce what we call roast pork. Two, the spread of the insidious Kansas City heresy that barbecue is about doctored-ketchup sauce. Three, the metastasizing International House of Barbecue style, with a mix-and-match menu of meats and sauces that’s fine for traditionless places like Washington but should be outlawed in Raleigh and Memphis. Four, the rise of ‘concept’ barbecue establishments with $12 pulled-pork sandwiches and valet parking. Real barbecue is an endangered cuisine. Eat it while you can.”

They are spot on.  Barbecuers et al have debated the concept of barbecue for probably ever.  I have listened to podcasts of otherwise respected chefs/pitmaster/cooks/authors tell me if it goes on a grill its barbecue or words to that effect.  I suppose if we looked at the origin of the word, barbacoa, and said since that was the native Taino people cooking meat on sticks high over a wood burning fire then anything involving meat and wood fire would be barbecue.  Yes... I went there... I defined barbecue!  OK, so that means that gas grills and ovens cant make barbecue. Yes... I said that too... I love my gas oven and my gas stove, but they do not make barbecue even if you set them in the backyard.  Before you committed gassers get all huffy and puffy... you do not make barbecue on any gas grill.  Period.  So save all the BS about flavorizer bars and smoke boxes.  I will agree it is easy grilled food perfect for when the kids are screaming and the day has already been to long, but it isn't barbecue and it never will be.  

Real Southern Barbecue is a very specific thing.  There are still shrines across the south that make true barbecue the way their grandfathers did and this is being lost one place at a time.  Most of it is a simple combination of meat, smoke, and spice.  Louis Mueller's in Taylor Texas has made brisket for decades and people eat it faster than they can make it.  It involves, salt and pepper, brisket, oak, and time.  That's true barbecue.  I talked to a guy that cooked "competitions" last year and he told me he made the best brisket in town.  He soaked it overnight in a marinade involving soy sauce, cooked it on a pellet-pooper at 350 and then foiled it with some kind of dark beer.  I guess he thinks that since it is tender brisket it's barbecue.  I like pastrami, it's tender, brisket, smoked, and typically served with a sauce, but I would never call it barbecue.

I guess what this rant is about is that our traditions in general are being diluted.  Barbecue is no different.  We can argue sauce all day long-- vinegar, mustard, or ketchup based-- but the root of meat cooked low and slow in the presence of wood smoke persists in true barbecue.  I, and I would imagine others, wouldn't mind if you smoke tofu, or braise brisket in root beer on a gas grill, just please do not call it barbecue.  Heck, you can poor that bottle of sauce on a pork butt in a crock pot, cook it all day long, pull it apart into shreds, mix it back into the sauce, get a puffy white bun, throw a big slice of onion on it, plop it down on some butcher paper, next to some slaw & beans, pop the top on a brewski, and enjoy the tastiest Faux-B-Que sandwich ever.  Still isn't barbecue.  And lastly, if after eating at that new "barbecue" place, the best compliment you can give them is "your sauce is good" then it probably isn't real barbecue either.

Salt of the earth...

posted Dec 11, 2011, 6:35 AM by C Compton   [ updated Dec 18, 2011, 5:47 AM ]

Alton Brown recently said "It's all sea salt" and while that is true he would also tell you that all sea salt is not created equal.  Pure salt is NaCl; we learned that in chemistry class.  So what makes one salt better than the other?  Impurities, shape, and harvesting.  There are several options for salty goodness available today.  Which one to use?  Read on.  

The workhorse of the shaker is Kosher.  This salt is inexpensive and available at virtually every market.  If you are cooking fresh food at home and do not have a box of this then you should eat out.  Kosher, or actually Koshering salt, has a slightly flattened pyramid shape and is ideal for drawing moisture from meat.  In the kitchen it is perfect for seasoning many foods for this reason.  Some will say it isn't good to add at the table and while not strictly a finishing salt I have to admit a good sprinkle on hot buttered mashed potatoes is one of my favorite things.  That and a good grind of fresh cracked black pepper, but that's another post.

Fleur de Sel is one of the best finishing salts around.  Light and airy by comparison to its kosher cousin this salt finds itself at home on any dish.  It is skimmed from the evaporation pools before it has clumped and fallen to the bottom.  I believe it truly shines in places salt is typically unexpected.  Like dessert.  A sprinkle on caramels or dulce de leche ice cream is salty sweet nirvana.  Although a good pinch on freshly roasted broccoli is pretty darn good too.

Himalayan Pink Salt.  I have this rock in 2 forms; a slab and rocks for cooking.  The rocks are quite large as salt goes, but I have truly enjoyed using it in stocks or for boiling pasta where there is ample time and moisture to break down the pebbles.  The plate or salt block is from Steepleton's.  I have been fascinated by these salt blocks for several years and was very pleased when I saw that they carried them.  The block is more of a cooking device that imparts great flavor-- think of it as a salt griddle.  I haven't cooked anything as yet, but watch for pictures as soon as I decide which beef dish is getting the salt block treatment.

Sel Gris is a nice finishing salt that is a cousin of Fleur de Sel.  It is allowed to clump and sink to the bottom.  Therefore it is higher in moisture and takes on the characteristically grey shade.  

Hawaiian sea salt or Alaea is very tasty when used on pork or chicken.  I have even put some on homemade pretzels for that extra salty crunch.  This salt picks up the red color from harvested red clay that enriches the salt with iron oxide.  The flavor is more earthy than some salts, but really delicious on many dishes.

Smoked sea salt is another favorite of mine and can provide some smokey goodness to most any dish.  There are many varieties on the market and it can be easily made at home with some patience and a smoker.  The variety of wood will effect the flavor as one would expect.  I currently am enjoying one made with planks from bourbon barrels... quite nice.

Finishing salts become more popular everyday and frankly more expensive too.  I use them sparingly and when the dish deserves it.  I keep a grinder with plain sea salt in it and that is quite nice on most dishes I serve.  The grind and texture can be adjusted, but you can put me firmly in the "I like a little salty crunch" camp.  Not every bite, just a little culinary spark that makes even plain green beans light up.  Like everything else in the food world your taste is what matters.  Try some kosher... maybe get a bit of fleur de sel... put a little smoked salt on your oysters... this rock can be addictive and in this case, that's OK.  


posted Nov 4, 2011, 8:32 AM by C Compton

The recipe section has returned by popular request. :)  I hope you find something tasty!

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