Saturday, 26 January 2013

BBQ: Australia Day: Rosemary Smoked Lamb Ribs

Due to a number of marketing campaigns eating lamb on Australia Day is becoming something of a tradition. Since it was also my dad's birthday, I went to visit and cooked some Rosemary Smoked Lamb Ribs - a bit of a twist on the usual lamb-on-the-BBQ.

When shopping for something to cook, the local wholesale butcher had 'Lamb Party Ribs' on sale a fair bit cheaper than the more usual Roasting Leg of Lamb.  Since the ribs - obviously - have bones and can be a bit fatty some of the difference in price is made up of excess/wastage, but I purchased a bit over 4kg of ribs to feed 5 people.

Half of the ribs were pre-marinated - which is something I'm not usually a fan of, but I was cooking for others and they sometimes like that stuff - and they didn't turn out too bad in the end.  The other rib racks I prepared with a simple mix of Rosemary, garlic and oil.  Since I was not at home and the UDS is not easily portable, I was again slow-cooking/smoking on the Webber kettle BBQ.  Zoned cooking - charcoal on one side and food on the other - and keeping the vents as closed as possible without putting out the coals allowed me to cook the ribs for about 4.5 hours without overcooking them.

Like most things she grows mum's Rosemary bush was large and healthy, so much so that it needed a bit of trimming back, so I hacked off a good portion of side-branches, taking as many of the woody bits as possible.  I clipped the bits into smaller portions and added them on-top of the coals every 1/2 hour while to add some flavoured smoke while the ribs were slow-cooking (not as good as the smoker, but not bad either).

The good thing about cooking on the Webber kettle is that once it's hot it's easy to cook most anything on it. Corn and beetroot were wrapped in foil and added, and for the last 2.5 hours of cooking time, I also cooked a large stuffed chicken - putting it directly over the coals for 15mins on each side right at the end, so it had a very nice 'charcoal chicken' flavour (from the fat dripping directly onto the smoldering coals).

The ribs were cooked for about 4.5 hours, turned every 30 mins and a new handful of Rosemary added for the first 2.5 hours, and then wrapped in foil for an additional 2 hours after that (while the chicken and vegies were cooking).  The meat fell easily off the bone, indicating that they were cooked, and they were very tasty, some were still a little bit fatty, but most of the fat had dripped off or rendered during the cooking process.

Everyone was well fed and satisfied and the birthday-boy was happy, so that was the main thing.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

BBQ: More Jerky and some Ribs in UDS

The last batch of Jerky got eaten the same day it was made (at the Melbourne Brewers (home brew club) Christmas party), most people seemed to like it so that was good) but it did mean I had to make some more before Christmas - now there should be enough that that it does not all get eaten right away

This week the local wholesale butcher had 'Lamb Party Ribs' on special in the part of the fridge they seem to dedicate to various different ribs each time I visit.

I had no idea how to prepare lamb ribs, so I just went with what I usually do for lamb on the Webber kettle.  Garlic, Rosemary, a little salt and some grapeseed oil, usually I stab 'holes' in the lamb-roast and fill them with garlic and rosemary sprigs, but that would be difficult with the ribs, so I put the stuff in the spice-grinder and spread it all over.

Turned out rather well.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Beer Soap

Apparently beer has uses other than just drinking it, some people bathe in it and some even make soap from it ... something I thought I'd try.

A few weeks ago I had never tried making soap at home, nor did I know much about it, so I'm far from an expert and I'm not going to try to teach anyone how to make soap.  I've only made three batches now, but the process is not really that difficult.  However, soap making does involve dangerous ingredients (Caustic Soda) and if it's not done right it can be very harmful - so understanding the procedures and processes is very important you are thinking of trying something this yourself.

There are a range of useful soap making guides online (use Google) but I found the Soap Making Using the Cold Process Method guide on one of the more useful.  When making soap, getting the recipe right is essential, so that you ensure there is the correct balance of fat/oil and caustic.  For that reason, I'm not going to give an exact recipe here, since that will ensure that anyone who tries to make it must first understand the basics.  A Soap Calculator is often used to develop and check soap recopies  and I found the SoapCalc website useful for this part of the process.

The first step in making soap usually involves mixing Caustic Soda (Sodium hydroxide, NaOH) with water, however since I'm making Beer Soap, I replaced the water in my recipe with beer - a nice Black IPA.  The beer needs to be uncarbonated, so I took the beer directly from the fermentor, otherwise you can open a bottle and leave it out a while.  I also froze the beer until it was a beer-slushy, since this should help keep the temperature down when it's mixed with the caustic.  Caustic mixed with water (or beer) can get very warm/hot, it also tends to smell a bit - a not very nice smell.

Next the oils are weighed out (all quantities, even liquids, are weighed when making soap, since it's a more accurate measure), all the oils I used are available in the supermarket.

I've been making 'vegetarian' soap, the recipe I my Beer Soap from included about 30% Olive Oil, 30% Coconut Oil (aka Copha in Australian supermarkets), 30% Palm Oil (aka FryMaster in Australian supermarkets) and small amounts of Caster and Soy oils.  The solid oils (Palm and Coconut) need to be melted, on a gentle heat before they are mixed with the other oils:

Next the stinky caustic beer solution is added to the oil in a large pot:

After a short time of stirring with the stick mixer the soap starts to thicken (this is called 'trace'):

This is usually when you add colours and fragrances, since I was making Beer Soap, I added some whole Pride of Ringwood hop flowers that I crushed coarsely in the spice blender:

Soap makers most often use large square or rectangle molds and cut the soap up into bars later.  However I found some nice silicon 'gift molds' at KMart - that I sprayed with oil to ensure the soap did not stick  Th excess soap went into cling-wrap lined cake tins, don't use cake-tins you ever want to cook with again, and it's not a good idea to use non-stick, because the soap will remove the non-stick surface (I did say I was new at this):

Once the molds are filled, the soap should be starting to solidify.  The soap then needs about 24 hours to 'cure', during this time it is wrapped up to keep warm (and it does get noticeably warm):

After a day or two the soap is hard enough to slide out of the molds.

Now it needs a few weeks to fully dry and harden before it should be ready to use.  According to online-sellers of Beer Soap, its good for dry skin, dandruff and all sorts of things like that.

Friday, 14 December 2012

BBQ: More Jerky in UDS

Another batch of beef jerky.  2.4kg of Yearling Roast Beef.  This time cut much thicker in an effort to make it a little chewer and moister:

1/2 cup Soy
4 spoons Worcester
1 heaped spoon of dark brown sugar
1 heaped spoon of  honey
1tsp Pimento (AllSpice)
1tsp Garlic & Onion powder
1/2tsp Pepper
Sprinkle of salt
(on left)

2 spoons Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy & Worcestershire
2tsp Garlic powder
1tsp Onion powder
1tsp Coriander seeds
1tsp Garam masala
1/2tsp Pepper
3x Jalapeno & 10 Birdseye chili (dried, home grown, crushed)
(on right)

Wholesale butcher also had some 'Texas Beef Ribs', while they have large bones, the price made up for it ($2.99/kg):

The cooked jerky:

And very nicely cooked ribs (that's a standard sized dinner plate they are on):

... that just fell off the bone:

Friday, 7 December 2012

BBQ: UDS Beef Jerky

2kg Topside roast:

Cut into steaks:

Part-frozen ...

... so it's easier to slice thinly:

1/2 cup Soy
3 spoons Worcester
1 heaped spoon of dark brown sugar
1tsp Garlic & Onion powder
1/2tsp Pepper
sprinkle of salt

3 spoons Apple Cider Vinegar, Soy & Worcestershire
2tsp Garlic powder
1tsp Coriander seeds
1/2tsp Pepper
1tsp Garam masala
3x Jalapeno & 6 Birdseye chili (dried, home grown, crushed)

While the smoker is in use, best to cook something for dinner too; a 'fatty' and some 'Asado' ribs:

The cooked jerky:

And fatty and ribs:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

BBQ: Pulled Pork in the UDS

Here are some pictures from the first full run of my UDS, cooking Pulled Pork and Beef Ribs.

2kg Pork Neck (the most common local name for the Boston Butt cut) coated with a slightly adapted version of this rub:

2kg of Short Beef Ribs (though they were not called that in the butcher shop), rubbed with slightly adapted version of this rub (used home-grown dry chili for example):

Firebox filled with charcoal and few layers of wood chips to make fire:

Fit drum (ensure air vents are fully open):

Fit BBQ-rack, lid and close most of the air-intake-holes (and watch with dismay as temperature jumps to double desired cooking temp):

Chicken was cheap when I visited the supermarket so I got one to add as well.
Split and rub chicken, with the same stuff used for the Pork (for no good reason other than I made 3 cups of the rub last night):

Also made some beans to server as a side dish:

Pork onto cook:

I'd not usually use a drip/water tray but since the thermometer said the temp was a bit high, though it would help.

Chicken in to cook (on the lower rack), turned pork over:

After about 3 hours of pork cooking, wrapped it in foil added ribs and turned stuff over.

Firebox is still mostly full of live/hot coals/charcoal, no need to add more:

Pork dosed with apple juice and wrapped well in aluminium foil:

Everything back in the UDS, Pork and 1/2 the Ribs on top rack, Chicken, Pie and more Ribs on the lower rack:

With all the meat on to cook, it's time for a beer and relax.

Beef and chicken cooked, and into the esky to rest for a short while:

Beef and beans ready to eat:

Beef seasoning was good, but the ribs were a little hit-and-miss the smaller ones (Asian Butcher) were cooked very well and very tender, the larger ones (local Wholesale Butcher) still had some fatty bits that would have rendered away with longer (2 or so hours extra) cooking time.

Chicken and Salad served and ready to eat:

Everybody likes the chicken, most, tender and well seasoned.

Pork into esky to rest.  After the beef and chicken were removed the temperature in the UDS was allowed to rise to ensure the Pork was cooked to the desired temperature, now it's having a rest in the insulated-esky:

Pulling the pork (phone camera used here, so the colour is a bit washed out):

A 'sauce' of cider vinegar, sugar, spice, chilli was sprinkled over the pulled pork.

A much better true-colour camera picture of the pulled pork:

And finally the pulled pork, served on crusty rolls with coleslaw: