A while back I had a custom made offset smoker built by Paul Shirley of Shirley Fabrication it is by far the most versatile cooker I have in my arsenal. Before it was finished I had an idea that I wanted to test. Previously I had owned and operated a mobile wood fired pizza business. “Truckingood Pizza” I had an Italian oven imported from Pavesi Forno of Naples, Italy. It was one sweet oven indeed! I was living in South Florida at the time and the health department refused to license my operation so after a year of aggravation and operating a limited catering biz, I sold my oven to a my friend in Denver who owns and operates 2 VPN recognized pizzerias Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza and she, the oven, burns brightly in the Mile High City. If your looking for authentic Italian style pizza in Denver, This place is the BEST!
Longing for the fresh baked pizza I had grown to love, I had an idea that maybe I could get my stick burner hot enough to bake pizzas, hmm, perhaps yes! I called Paul and spoke to him about a few modifications I wanted made. First I wanted a griddle that I could use in the warmer on top of the firebox, and some extra shelf brackets that i could slide a bread stone into. Being the good sport that Paul is he said ” No problem” Now all I had to do ws wait for the delicery and I would try my idea out and hopefully get that Neoplolitan Pizza that I desperately craved.
Here is how my set-up came together.
My Stick Burner
The bread stone in the warmer.
The griddle was set up higher in the warmer to reflect the heat from the top. In a WFO, (wood fired oven) the dome and the floor of the oven are working in unison to both bake the bottom and broil the top of a pizza. The girdle acted like the dome in my WFO.
Now lite a bag of charcoal briquettes to get a nice hot bed for some oak to burn on.
Add the oak splits
Close the doors and let her rip!
Pegging the meter!
Things are really heating up now!
Peekin in through the pin wheel
Now its time to make the pizza!
In she goes and 90 seconds later……………..wait for it!……………….Out she comes! Yippie
All in all it was a success. My smoker got so hot that the paint peeled around the front side of the firebox and the door to the main cook chamber was warped shut, but straightened out once it cooled down. I don’t know exactly how hot it got in the warmer and could only go by past experience with my WFO. I would quesstimate it was around 700 to 800 degrees, Tushka the stick burner, was one hot mama.
Thanks for lookin! I’ll keep cookin!
Find me on Facebook at Uncle Jeds BBQ
Been busy this month with home butchery. !/2 a hog and a beef forequarter.
Living here in France I find it very hard to get the types of cuts of beef and pork that I am accustomed to. So I had to take the bull by the horns and learn to cut my own meats.
This is a very daunting task at first. I watched several YouTube videos and having some experience previously, I was ready to begin with a half of a hog. My quest started with a desire for a pork butt as none of the butchers here cut a Boston Butt the way way that they are done in Merica. Obviously there are other great products like chops, belly, ham, and the perfect scraps for charcuterie. Here is what I ended up with from a half of a hog, by the way the price was 2.20€ per kilo instead of the usual 10€ price I normally pay at the butchers.
The following week the forequarter of beef was ready for pick-up and the butcher was kind enough to break it down for me into the 3 largest primals. I was after the Brisket mainly as these do not exist here.
All in all it was alot of work. Can’t wait to do it again, practice makes perfect!
By the way, The ham was delicious and my new slicer assures that I have plenty of it for the future in my freezer.
My journey to a new Offset Sickburner was a process. I had looked at so many different manufacturers and new and used cookers, till I was blue in the face. I turned my attention to my Brothers and Sisters at the best Barbeques forum on the web and finally decided to buy a new 20 x 50 Patio Model from my new found friends Paul & Tyler Shirley at Shirley Fabricators located in Tuscaloosa, AL. From start to finish I can’t say enough about these guys. Paul knew from the beginning what I wanted and he also knew that this cooker was shipping with the rest of my households good to the South of France after completion. These guys don’t play. I mailed off my deposit and soon there after I started to receive pictures of work in progress.
Here was the firebox fresh from the metal break and ready for shelving and attaching to the main cook chamber.
Base and Main Cook Chamber and Baffle in place.
Warmer & Firebox doors installed and chamfer on top of the warmer box finalized.
Cap welded on the end and grates in both the main cook chamber as well as the warmer are done, Charcoal basket built and rolled out of the shop to get a tan!
Getting her paint job after a good sandblast
Loaded on the truck for her trip to Fort Lauderdale
At her new temporay home and ready to rock!
Open her up and start up a full basket of lump!
Prepped up a Pork Butt, Full Rack of Spares, a Fatty and some Bratwurst! And when the fire was ready and everything was up to temperature!
On they go.
The fatty was awesome!
Next came the Spare Ribs
The pork butt was almost done
2 hours later the pork butt probed tender and I pulled it off and let it rest.
After it had fully rested I pulled it and man was it good!
My final Plate with Collards, Mac-N-Cheese, Mashed Red Potatoes, and all!
If your as serious about cooking as I am and are ready to take it to the next level, you owe it to yourself to check out the smokers produced by Shirley Fabrication, you’ll be glad you did. LIKE I AM!
Thanks for looking, and as always……..I’ll Keep on Cookin!
I have been remiss in my duties as of late. Many things have transpired lately that have kept me away from my usual blogging. We have recently sold both our homes, one here in Florida and also our vaction home in Belieze. We are off on a new adventure to the South of France to a great little village called Ventenac en Minervois. Here is a shot taken during our recent stay there, the background is a vineyard after harvest taken early one morning.
This will be our new home and we will be conducting culinary tours of the surrounding area. This is to include a meal planning session in the morning and then our guests will spend the day shopping at the local Bakeries, Charcuteries, Wineries, Butcher Shops and Fromageries. Once our tours have ended for the day we will return to our house to prepaare the evening meal with the fruits of our shopping spree. We will also be conducting Babecue Competition Classes and our cook team “The Sultans of Sting” will be competeting in KCBS Sanction events throughout Europe. I have just ordered a new offset smoker from Shirley Fabricators of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Here she is before she was painted.
All dressed up and no place to go!
And she will soon be delivered here to her new home.
So now, where were we?…………………Oh yes, I remember Stoofvlees
I started out with a nice chuck steak and the usual suspects.
I set the chuck to smoking indirect on the Vision Kamado, (it’s already in the container ready to ship) with a drip pan underneath to catch all those wonderful flavors.
The brazier was readied with chopped white onions, garlic, butter and bay leaves
Placed on the grill to saute until soft
When the meat was smoked to a lovely richness, it was then cut into bite sized pieces and joined by a 1/2 cup of frozen Demi Glace I had prepared earlier.
The veggies are soft so its time to add a bottle of Gouden Carolus Belgian Beer, this is a Belgian dish after all !
Add the smoked Chukie and simmer away
Meanwhile back at the ranch it’s time to make the Frites! Alas comes out the mandolin for some fresh cut fries.
Heat up the wok outside on the Kamado
First fry to cook the inside of the potato at 250 degrees
Remove from the wok and let them stand while I heat the oil to 375 degrees for a quick second fry that crisps them brown and golden
Serve ontop of frites and a delicious Rochefortoise Beer. OMG Good is hardly the word!
Thanks for lookin and I’ll keep on cookin, Leave me a message if you would like more information on booking a culinary tour with us in the Summer of 2014.
Started out with some nice beef short ribs from my local Smitty’s market. My Friend Moose described this picture as Meathenge as tribute to the Legendary Stonehenge. Similar yet Different I think.
I slathered them with EVOO and sea salt and fresh ground pepper only. These are too good to waste any rubs or marinates.
On to my Kamado Smoker at 275 degrees set-up for indirect heat.
While the ribs were smoking I chopped up a mirepoix aka The Holy Trinity and readied the CI Brazier.
After smoking for 2 hours the ribs looked like this.
So, I pulled them off the smoker, set up the kamado for high direct heat and put on the CI Brazier.
Once the veggies were all sweated nicely,
It was time to deglaze the pan with 2 cups of Malbec and add my beef stock
Bring it together in a low simmer
Turn up the Heat!, and add the Meat!!
The Kamado was then set-up for indirect heat with the defuser load onto the lower rack of the grill and the ribs were braized for another 2 hours.
The final plating look like this.
A nice smokey ring and tender as can be!
And the second helping looked like this,
Good to the last drop!
Thanks for lookin, and I’ll keep on cookin!
My wife is Belgian, with that being said, she will tell you that she is a Citizen of the World. Due to its strategic location and the many armies fighting on its soil, Belgium since the Thirty Years War (1618-164 has often been called the “battlefield of Europe” or the cockpit of Europe”. It is also remarkable as a European nation which contains, and is divided by, a language boundary between Latin Derived French, and Germanic Dutch.
Belgian cuisine is widely varied with significant regional variations while also reflecting the cuisines of neighboring France, Germany and the Netherlands.
I have chosen one of my favorite recipes that is truly a Regional Treasure from the Limberg region. the following is a translation from the original Dutch text from the website of the creator of this simply wonderful dish.
“In Belgium at that time, of the creation of this dish, the average kitchen (restaurant) was very limited in choices.
The idea actually stemmed from the desire to refine the Belgian fries and beef steak offering and this idea turned out to be, for the patrons, a huge success. In 1970 Jean Ceustermans retired to his native village of Leopold to start his own business and to refined the dish steppegrass ® in its original form.
The dish served only in Leopold, soon enjoyed prominence in Limburg and Antwerp. The guests wishing to sample this new dish had to make reservations as there were long lines at their door to taste it.
There were even people who travelled over 200km from Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to eat the Steppegras ® at the original site.”
Enough of the history lesson, Let’s cook
I started with fresh Idaho Potatoes and washed them well and pealed the skins. I set up my mandolin for a very thin sliced julienne.
Once sliced they must be soaked to remove the natural sugars and prevent the potatoes from turning brown.
When they are all sliced and washed, I wash them twice, they need to be dried thoroughly to reduce flare-ups in the hot oil and to maintain their crispness.
Placed into a cast iron skillet with peanut oil heated to 375 degrees. Normally with Belgian Fries the secret to their success in obtaining a crispy fry is to twice fry them, however these fries are so thin, a single fry at high temperature is all that is needed.
I had set-up my kamado for direct hot and fast searing of my hand cut Ribeye and got it going while my frites were frying.
Steak cooked to a perfect medium rare and plated after resting with a bit of broccoli slaw.
Ah yes, sweet meat and potatoes!
This was my final entry plate into the “Legs” Throwdown on the greatest barbecue forum on the web
The Challenge was, as the name implies, to cook your best dish with the leg of any kind of animal. I was sure there would be plenty of chicken legs, so I opted for turkey. This proved to be no small task. After several failed attempts at finding fresh turkey legs, I struck pay dirt at Penn Dutch in Hollywood. It seems that all the local grocery store only carry the smoked legs as the demand is low and the smoking process is a natural preservative. This was my canvas.
Next I had to work fast before my wife caught me sawing the legs into pieces with my hacksaw from the garage. After a bit of cleanup it worked quite well for the task. The end result looked like this.
Next onto the Kamado, set-up for direct heat, for a hot-n-fast sear to seal in all the juices.
Looking god now!
While they were searing, I chopped up some onion, carrots and leeks.
Started them in a cast iron brazier to sweat with low extra virgin olive oil.
Removed the meat and wrapped in aluminum foil to rest while a made a stock with the remainder of the shanks.
Brought the stock to a simmer.
And let it all ride for a while.
Once the stock had reduced I married it with the vegetables and prepared the Kamado for indirect heat and a long slow braise.
Then I placed the turkey bucco back into the liquid and closed the lid.
Two hours later
Dressed with some fresh Rosemary from the garden and left to simmer another half hour.
And there you have it with mashed potato, and a beautiful piece of Epi bread from Croissant Time.
Thanks for lookin, and as always……I’ll keep on cookin!
The cheese originates from the village of Cheddar in Somerset, South West England. Cheddar Gorge on the edge of the village contains a number of caves, which provided the ideal humidity and constant temperature for maturing the cheese. Cheddar cheese traditionally had to be made within 30 miles (48 km) of Wells Cathedral.
According to my friends at Wiki “Cheddar has been produced since at least the 12th century. A pipe roll of King Henry II from 1170 records the purchase of 10,240 lb (4,640 kg) at a farthing per pound (totaling £10.13s.4d., about £10.67 in decimal currency). Charles I (1600–1649) also bought cheese from the village. Romans may have brought the recipe to Britain from the Cantal region of France.
Joseph Harding has been described as the father of cheddar cheese. Harding introduced new equipment into the process of cheese making, including his “revolving breaker” for curd cutting, saving much manual effort. The “Joseph Harding method” was the first modern system for cheddar production based upon scientific principles. He and his wife were behind the introduction of the cheese into Scotland and North America. Joseph Harding’s sons, Henry and William Harding, were responsible for introducing cheddar cheese production to Australia and facilitating the establishment of the cheese industry in New Zealand respectively.
During World War II, and for nearly a decade after the war, most milk in Britain was used for the making of one single kind of cheese nicknamed “Government cheddar” as part of war economies and rationing. This nearly resulted in wiping out all other cheese production in the country. Before World War I there were more than 3,500 cheese producers in Britain, while fewer than 100 remained after the Second World War.”
The quest for me began here. I was looking to reproduce on a small scale Cheddar Cheese for my own personal use.
The Recipe began like this.
1/4 tsp Mesophilic Cheese Culture
1 1/2 tspCalcium Chloride Liquid (30%)prepared
1/2 tabletRennet Tablets (microbial)dissolved in 1/4 cup distilled water
3 TbspFlaked Salt
3 gallonswhole milk
1 pint heavy cream
Combine the milk, cream and diluted calcium chloride in a cheese pot or double boiler. Gently heat the mixture to 90°F. Stir with easy push-pull action to prevent the milk from scorching. For me I choose to allow my combined ingredients to sit outside covered on my porch as the temperature was 90 degrees. Thus it required no cooking and came up to temperature rather slowly.
Turn off the heat and sprinkle DVI Mesophilic starter onto milk’s surface. Allow the culture to rehydrate for 3 minutes before stirring it into the milk. Cover the pot and allow the milk to rest at 90°F for 45 minutes.
Next note the time and add the prepared rennet by mixing it into the milk with an up and down motion for about 1 minute. Set time should be between 30 and 40 minutes. After the ‘set’ time has elapsed, check the curd for a clean break. Use a long bread knife to cut the curds into 1/2 inch cubes. Allow the curds to rest (heal) for 5 minutes.
Now Indirectly heat (using the water bath method) the curds to 100°F by increasing the temperature no faster than 2°F every five minutes. It should take 30 minutes to reach 100°F. This is best done in a double boiler on the stove top or in a sink full of 100° to 110°F water. Stir frequently but gently to prevent matting.
Hold the curds and whey at 100°F for 1 hour, stirring every 5 minutes to keep the curds from matting together. Adjust the temperature of your double boiler or sink water as needed to maintain this temperature.
Place a large colander in a sink. Note that no cheesecloth is used here. Carefully pour the curds and whey into the colander and allow them to drain. Gently sift through the curds with clean hands to facilitate draining. This will unblock the draining holes and keep the curds from matting. Once the whey has drained, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cheese salt over the curds and gently mix it in using your hands. Wait 1 minute and repeat with another tablespoon of cheese salt. Wait 1 minute and repeat with the remaining tablespoon of cheese salt.
Place the curds into a coarse cheesecloth-lined press. Press with 4 to 5 pounds of weight for 15 minutes.
Remove the cheese from the press and take it out of the cheesecloth. Place the cheesecloth back in the mold and return the cheese to the mold upside down. This time press the cheese with 8 to 10 pounds of pressure (one gallon of water) for 12 hours.
Remove the cheese from the press as before and unwrap the cloth.
Place the cheese on a bamboo mat to air dry for 1 to 3 days. The cheese must be turned over twice each day. The cheese is ready to eat when yellowish rind (similar to the color of butter) starts to develop and the cheese is dry to the touch. Left un-waxed, the cheese should be refrigerated and be consumed within 2 weeks.
You can age Farmhouse Cheddar for a period of up to 3 months by sealing it in cheese wax or by vacuum packing. The cheese will benefit from storage in a constant temperature between 45°F and 60°F. The cheese will mature more quickly at the warmer end of the range.
Finished our shopping spree in Narbonne and headed to the parking garage to retrieve our rent a car. What a beautiful city view.
Diced up some fresh shallots.
Sauteed in butter.
Seasoned a fine cut of Onglet, France’s choice Bistro Steak. Onglet has a big, fantastic and unique flavor all of its own. Cut from the grass-fed, slow- matured additive-free and carefully aged rib cage Onglet has an old fashioned real meaty flavour, with a light offaly and gamey tone, which is much prized throughout France and is now getting a foodie following in this country.
Started a reduction of Bordeaux wine and the diced shallotss with a knob of unsalted butter.
Cranked up the fire outside with a branch of Grape Vine Wood.
Readied my lovely little Escargot.
Fires Ready to Rock and Roll!
Set up the grill and get cooking!
Onglet in place
Everybody accounted for.
Standing by with the emergency provisions in case of an emergency.
Voila, served with mashed potato with leeks and garlic. Bon Appetite.
Good night Harvest moon, and thanks for lookin, and I’ll keep on cookin!