Real Time Maine Meat: 3:45pm Monday
Like most Memorial Days weekends I’m barbecuing — well, actually closer to smoking my meat as a kick-off to the summer barbecue season. Unlike most recent years, however, it is HOT and SUNNY in Monroe rather than cool and rainy, which is a nice change. For the past few years I’ve gotten carried away with all the apple and cherry and red oak wood that we have in plenty around us and will be trying to mitigate the smoke applied to a two pound hunk of London Broil that I’m attempting to ‘cue like a brisket using the North Carolina pork barbecue technique of wrapping the sumbitch in foil after an hour or two to finish cooking with a liquid baste. With pork bbq you add your cider vinegar ‘sauce” to the meat; here I’ll be using beer. I’ll update with results.
And despite success with Cooks Illustrated’s excellent general barbecue sauce for the table, I’ll be making a “Texas Ranchouse BBQ Sauce” to make the meal more brisket-like in atmosphere. What are y’all grilling on the Holiday?
UPDATE: The beer bag worked! I ran the smoker hard with dry cherry chunks for an hour and a half, eventually getting the temp up to 300°F, then transferred the meat hunk into foil with about half a can of beer. I ended up finishing the meat in the toaster oven at 300°F because I couldn’t keep the smoker temp up. The meat was cooked through, and although not “falling apart”, it was quite tender with good flavor and the PERFECT amount of smoke (even according to Alison, who likes less smoke). One interesting side note was that there was about a cup of “jus” in the foil after I took the meat out — basically a beef-beer broth. I used a little to remoisten the slices of meat, and it also went well with the steamed potatoes and carrots I served on the side.
The barbecue sauce was very good, too, but different from what I’m used to — the shredded onions create a thick grainy texture, and the stick of butter guarantees that it will taste good. I used dried chipotles instead of chilies in the spice mix, and it added a nice smoky flavor to the sauce that would benefit something done on the grill instead of in a full-blown smoker. It paired really well with the beef.
Texas Ranchouse BBQ Sauce
(Published in Serious Pig  by John Thorne who adapted it from America Cooks , by Cora, Rose, and Bob Brown)
makes 2 cups
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 large onion, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 cup tomato catsup
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
Juice of one lemon
2 tsp. dried mustard
2 Tbsp. Texas chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayanne
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar
Melt the butter over low heat in a saucepan and stir in the grated onion. When it turns translucent, mix in the garlic, vinegar, 1 cup of water, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaves, and lemon juice. Let this simmer while mixing togethr all the dry spices, salt, and sugar. Stir this into the sauce and continue to simmer for at least 10 minutes, removing and discarding the bay leaves before using. Makes about 2 cups of sauce, good for 4 to 5 pounds of meat.
Cooks Illustrated All-Purpose Barbecue Sauce
From Memorial Day, 2003 — I used this sauce to serve with the apple-smoked homegrown barbecue brisket we served Memorial Day weekend. It rained all weekend, and I had to build a shelter for the smoker, but the meat turned out great, and this sauce was a good, quick complement. I left out the liquid smoke, and it was still good, because the meat had so much smoke on it.
from Cooks Illustrated Number 45, July-August 2000 issue.
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbls. cider vinegar
2 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls. Dijon mustard
5 Tbls. molasses
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce of your choice
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
2 Tbls. vegetable oil
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cayanne pepper
Process onion and 1/4 cup water in a food processor with a steel blade until pureed and mixture resembles slush — about 30 seconds. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, capturing the liquid, pressing the solids to obtain about 1/2 a cup of onion juice.
Whisk together ketchup and all other ingredients except the oil, garlic, chili powder, and cayanne.
Heat oil in a large pan, then add garlic, chili powder, and cayanne and cook about 30 seconds, then whisk in the ketchup mixture and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer gently, uncovered, until the flavors meld and sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes.
Cool to room temperature before serving. Makes about one squirt bottle’s worth ~ 8 servings (according to CI)