Archives for category: BBQ

I love college football because I went to a big football university, the University of Florida, home of the Gators. I usually don’t care for professional football until recently when former UF players started showing up in Pro teams. Aaron Hernandez and Brendan Spikes both currently play for the Patriots, and of course their much more famous former team captain Tim Tebow is the quarter back for the Broncos.  For this year’s Superbowl, I wanted to make chicken wings,  a staple for Superbowl parties.

When I thought of chicken wings, the recipe from Momofuku’s cookbook came to mind immediately. It’s described by David Chang, the author (and owner of Momofuku restaurants in NYC), as the world’s longest chicken wing recipe, and man is it worth it. The wings are brined, cold smoked, confit-ed in lard, chilled overnight, reheated and seared, and finally tossed in a sauce that is made from chicken carcasses, sake, and soy sauce. You want to start this recipe at least a day beforehand, and especially since the chicken can chill in the pork fat for up to a week.

My first experience with Momofuku’s came about 3 or 4 years ago visiting one of my best friends from highschool in NYC. She had told me about this restaurant that serves the best Ramen noodle bowls in the world. Prior to this I had no inkling who David Chang is, but after the visit, I became a super fan of this man and all of his restaurants, recipes, and publications.  The noodle bowl came with braised pork belly, pulled braised pork shoulder, pickled vegetables, fresh peas, Nori, and a soft boiled egg. The broth that held it all together was one of the tastiest things I’ve ever had: salty, meaty, smoky…

I pre-ordered the Momofuku cookbook as soon as it was announced, and I tried the Ramen recipe immediately after I got the book. I did not fully understand how much time was required to make the broth, so while the individual meat and pickled vegetable and eggs tasted great, the broth was not there. Since I was going to make the Momofuku chicken wings anyways, I decided to give the ramen recipe another go.

Starting with the wings, the first thing I decided to make is the Tare, which is the sauce made out of browned chicken carcasses, Sake, and Soy sauce. The Tare is also used as the seasoning for the Ramen broth. The recipe called for roasting chicken carcasses in the oven for 40 minutes, then cooking the burnt goodness on the bottom of the pan up with sake and light soy sauce until it’s thick. You can buy chicken carcasses from Asian supermarkets for very cheap, and I think if you ask butchers in stores like Whole Foods or Central Market, they will sell you some as well. You can also toss in the wingtips from the chicken wings if you’d like. It’s also very important to use light soy sauce as regular soy sauce will be too salty. You can buy light soysauce in Asian supermarket or Japanese specialty stores, or you can probably thin it out with water. The Tare recipe in the cookbook will yield way more than you need for the chicken wing recipe, but like I said, you can use it for seasoning for the Ramen broth and almost anything else.

The photo below shows the stage where I’ve just put in the sake and light soy sauce in the browned bones and I’m scraping up the burnt bits on the bottom of the pan.

After sectioning and cleaning up the chicken wings, they are put into a brine of salt and sugar for at least an hour but no more than 6. I then smoked the chicken for 45 minutes in a 150C grill to give it a smoky flavor but not cook the wings. The wings are then submerged in lard (or you can use grapeseed oil, or any neutral tasting oil) and confit-ed in a low heat oven for 30 minutes.

Then the chicken wings need to chill overnight in the fat until you are ready to use them the next day. If using Lard, the lard will congeal and turn white, if using oil, it will stay clear and fluid in the fridge. When you are ready to use the wings, you want to heat up the container a little bit and melt the lard enough to be able to pull out the chicken. Drain the chicken wings before cooking.

The wings are seared in a hot cast iron pan, and I put another smaller cast iron pan on top to press the wings down to make sure it gets a good brown sear.

The wings will take approximately 3-4 minutes on each side to sear, once it’s a nice dark golden brown, it’s ready to be sauced.

The Tare is heated up with some garlic and pickled Thai bird chilies, and poured over the wings to cover. I let the wings simmer for a few minutes longer in the pan to get the sauce nice and thick.

The wings were smoky and tender, and the sauce sweet, salty, and finger licking good. You can find these recipes from the Momofuku cook book. There are also a lot of websites dedicated cooking all Momofuku recipes such as Momofukufor2.com that you can check out to get recipes and ideas.

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This was the perfect finish to a big, meaty, meal. The pie consist of a chocolate wafer butter crust, with a layer of chocolate custard, a layer of fresh bananas, a layer of vanilla custard, topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. The chocolate and cream custards gives the pie a richness that is cut down by the fresh banana slices. The recipe called for graham crackers for the crust, but I thought that was confusing, since the name of the recipe is “Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie”. Instead, I used famous chocolate wafers as the ingredient for the crust, which I think made the pie even better.

The light isn’t too good in the below photo but you can see that there is a very clean definition between each layer. I’m pretty particular about the structure of any dessert I make. I like my dessert to taste and look good.

Black-Bottom Banana Cream Pie Recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/black-bottom-banana-cream-pie

While I was doing some research for the BBQ, I came across this chef named Adam Perry Lang, who has a BBQ joint in NYC. Not knowing anything about the chef, and just by going off on some of the photos I saw and some articles from Food and Wine Magazine, I decided to cook all my BBQ sides from his recipe collection from his website. All three of these recipes can be made earlier in the day so you can focus all your time on the BBQ.

I was first attracted to the Spicy Creamed-Corn Cakes with Scallions, since it sounded like a non-traditional corn bread recipe. I love the addition of Scallions in any bread type of medium, and I like the fact that it’s got a nice kick to it from the Jalapeno (I left mine unseeded). I made only half the recipe, and still ended up with 10 corn cakes, which was way more than enough for two people. You can make this recipe earlier in the day and rewarm them when the meats are ready

The next recipe I decided to make was his Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Green Apples and Cider Dressing. I love colorful food, and even though this recipe didn’t come with a photo, I was able to visualize the recipe just from the title. I also picked it because you always want a nice refreshing salad to go with heavy meat type of meals to break up the richness, and I never like traditional mayo based coleslaw.

The final recipe I made from Adam Perry Lang is the Baked Three-Bean Casserole with Bacon from foodandwine.com. I’ve never made baked BBQ beans before, and this one was pretty fun to do. I lattice braided the Bacon so it looked like a pie. It was a bit sweet for my taste so I would add more hot sauce to it.

Spicy Creamed Corn Cakes with Scallion: http://www.adamperrylang.com/recipes/spicy-creamed-corn-cakes-with-scallions/
Green Bean and Tomato Salad with Green Apples and Cider Dressing: http://www.adamperrylang.com/recipes/green-bean-and-tomato-salad-with-green-apple-and-cider-dressing/
Baked Three-Bean Casserole with Bacon: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/baked-three-bean-casserole-with-crispy-bacon

I decided to try two types of rib recipes for this cookout. One is a recipe from Fatty Cue’s, a popular BBQ joint in NYC. The other is a Honey Glazed BBQ ribs recipe from Pok Pok, which is an modern Asian restaurant based out of Portland, OR.

In choosing a rib, I used spare ribs instead of baby back. Spare ribs takes longer to cook, but I wanted to challenge myself and practice maintaining a constant bbq temperature for as long as possible. You don’t need a lot of charcoal to cook since the idea is to use low heat to develop flavor over time. I added hickory wood chips every 30-40 minutes for 3 hours, then I wrapped these ribs in foil and cooked for another 2 hours. For the final hour of cooking, I took the ribs out of the foil and placed them closer to the heat to give them a nice crispy finish.

Both Rib recipes involved overnight marination. You want to marinate between 4 to 8 hours, but no longer since marinades with alcohol will start chemically breaking down the meat and will affect the cooking time. The Fatty Cue recipe has a fish sauce marinade, and the Pok Pok  recipe had a whiskey based marinade. After 8 hours of marination, I took these ribs out of the marinade and just refrigerated them until it was close to the time of cooking. Also it’s a good idea to take the meat out of the fridge at least 30 – 1 hour before cooking so the meat is at room temperature when you put it on the grill.

Above is a photo of the ribs after 3 hours of smoking, ready to go in their foil wraps. The top rack is the Fatty Cue recipe, the lower rack the Pok Pok recipe.  The brownish powder you see on the top rack is made from toasted, and ground Indonesian Long Peppers (photo below).

You can purchase these online and because they come in whole pods, they stay good for a long time, and when you need to use them, just dump them in a medium low heat pan and toast them until fragrant. You do need a spice grinder to grind these, and the flavor is a mix between curry and black pepper, and it’s got a good spicy kick to it.

After 2 hours in the foil, the ribs will look like the below. This would be the time to base your ribs in BBQ sauce or dipping sauce if using.

After hour 6, this is what the ribs looked like

I started the cooking process at around 11:30AM, my fire didn’t get to the right temperature until 12:30, then I took off the meat at 6:30PM. It was a pretty windy day with a temperature of around 55F when I started, and by the time I finished, the wind had died down and the temperature had dropped at least 10F degrees. I think the ribs could have been cooked a bit longer for a more falling of the bones taste, but we were hungry and the flavour was there. Next time, I will definitely start earlier so I can cook longer.

Pok Pok Honey-Glazed Baby Back Ribs Recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/honey-glazed-baby-back-ribs-with-whiskey-marinade
Fatty Cue BBQ Ribs Recipe (from NYT): http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/11/magazine/11food-t-001.html

I love BBQ. There is something primitive about cooking meat over an open fire, especially when you are cooking ribs. After the meat is done and I am holding the rib with my bare hands and ripping the meat off with my teeth, I feel a connection with hunters and foragers from hundreds of thousand of years ago, who probably ate the same way that I did.

As primitive as the idea of BBQ sounds, a bit of science still comes in if you want to make good BBQ. Temperature control and time are the two biggest factors in BBQing. Good BBQ takes time to cook, so it’s very important to be ready early in the day if you want to eat in the evening.

Temperature control on a charcoal grill is unpredictable, and every time you start a fire, it’s different from the previous fire. Also outside factors like wind, weather, humidity all comes into play when you try to build the perfect fire. If you are using a gas grill, cooking temperature is a lot easier to control and maintain for long periods of time. There is a lot of debate out there over Charcoal vs. Gas grills, some say that the charcoal grills have better taste, others like the convenience of gas. I really wanted to learn how to grill on a Charcoal grill so after we moved to Austin, I purchased a Weber Kettle Grill.

Since I bought the non-premium grill without a built in thermostat, I took my candy thermometer and stuck it through the round vent holes on the top of the grill.  My method of cooking is indirect heat, which means half the grill is lit for a slow fire, and the meat is placed on the cooler half not directly over the coals. You want your meat cooking temperature to be around 220F-250F. It is very important to place the thermometer/vent opening directly over the area where the meat is so you can correctly gauge the temperature of cooking. If you measure 220F in your thermometer, but your measuring over the coals, that means your meat cooking temp is lower than 220F, and your meat will take longer to cook.

There are a lot of good information online on how to start and maintain a fire, direct and indirect cooking, and smoking meats. I would recommend bbqrevolution.com, since they have a lot of step by step guidelines.

For this BBQ I decided to smoke two types of spareribs ribs, total cooking time would be around 6 hours. I also decided to make some corn cakes, baked beans, and green bean salad to go with the meal. It’s not a BBQ without some sort of pie, so I finished off the meal with a Banana Cream Pie.