by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL “It was awesome”, said Rockford master plumber Blaine Kellermeier after the second of two summer grilling seminars, complete with sit-down dinners, which were hosted by Pete Kruer of Rockford’s ACE Hardware. “I consider myself a fairly accomplished backyard griller,” continued Kellermeier, “but I’ve managed to learn something new while attending each of these classes.” Last week’s second “ BBQ boot camp”, held in the beautiful ACE gardens adjacent to the hardware store, focused on pork butts and briskets. As with the first class, real BBQ experts were on hand to bring everyone in attendance to the next level. Presiding over the class were radio show hosts “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko and Randy “Jop” Joppie, aka “The Grillin ’Guys”. Also instructing was Rob Russell of Kansas City’s Ace of Hearts Barbecue Specialties. Russell has a reputation of being the top expert on BBQ grilling in the nation. Highlighted during the evening, was pork butt and brisket preparation – especially trimming techniques to remove excess fat. Although one may, there is no reason to leave all of the fat on a brisket. Smoke and rubs will not penetrate it and it will take more time to fuel and cook the brisket with all of the fat intact. In the end, you are not going to eat the fat – you are going to cut it away and discard it. Classmates learned, especially when it comes to smoking, the necessity of placing meats that are as cold as possible on the grill. Meat will only take up smoke between 40 degrees F. and 140 degrees F. If you start with meat at room temperature, you will not end up with a desired perfect smoke ring. Much time was spent stressing the importance of using premium natural hardwood lump charcoal and maintaining proper temperatures during the entire process – before, during, and after. Tenderizing techniques and methods, which included marinades and a hand-tenderizing tool called a ‘Jaccard’ were discussed and demonstrated. Injection methods and ingredients were also touched on. As with any large roast, we were reminded it is important to let a brisket rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing so the juices inside have a chance to redistribute. We could go on […]
by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL On a recent Monday evening, “Ace was the place” to be. Pete Kruer, of Rockford Ace Hardware, was hosting his first ever “BBQ Boot Camp” and everyone who had signed on for the evening was in hog heaven! Kruer had secured the services of Rob Russell, a real Kansas City BBQ expert, who conducts BBQ seminars around the country for Ace of Hearts BBQ Specialties of Kansas City, MO. With 15 years of championship competitive BBQ experience, 20 years of catering and restaurant experience, Russell has a great way of bringing real BBQ to backyard hobbyists as well as professionals and competition cookers. Also on hand that evening was “Barbecue” Bob Nurmikko, host of Cumulus Broadcasting’s “The Grillin’ Guys” radio show heard across Michigan and locally in Grand Rapids on WJRW 1340 AM. “Barbecue” Bob acted as host and sidekick while, at times, interjecting humor by poking a little fun at the expense of his good friend Russell. The 40 participants of the sold-out evening were treated to three solid hours of BBQ grilling education in the beautiful Meijer Garden like setting of Ace’s Ray Kunst Gardens outdoor garden department. It didn’t matter how much you thought you already knew about BBQ grilling, what we learned that evening took us all to the next level. We were treated to expert tutorials covering different grill fuels – including varieties of charcoal (lump preferred), grilling techniques, smoking, creating marinades, brining, using seasonings and rubs, and the preparation of ribs and chicken. Russell also discussed and demonstrated in great depth food handling safety, as well as cooking and smoking temperatures to strive for. In short, the man was a veritable fount of backyard barbequing information. With “BBQ on the brain” Russell was definitely present to help us all become better cooks! Gordy Aulbach, the butcher from Cannonsburg’s Grist Mill, was also on hand to answer any and all questions about meat cuts and selection. Kruer had arranged for the Grist Mill to supply slabs of baby back pork ribs and yes, even beef ribs along with plump grilling chickens. During the grilling class we were afforded the opportunity to taste test everything that had been pre-prepared prior to the start of the BBQ […]
by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Well, we learned more than we probably wanted about charcoal grilling. Ha! Ha! Now we are going to get into the fun stuff: cooking! Rob Russel from “The Good Ones” and “Three Little Pigs” has a meatloaf recipe that is a big hit at the barbeque circuit around the country. So, give it a try. It’s out of this world delicious! Rob’s Hickory Smoked Meatloaf 2 eggs 1/3 cup Three Little Pigs A/N Sweet 1 Tablespoon garlic salt 1 teaspoon Hickory Smoked Sea salt 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon celery salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 onion, chopped (optional) 1/2 cup crushed Saltine crackers 1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs 2 pounds lean ground beef 2 Tablespoons Three Little Pigs A/N Sweet Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Spray a 9×5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray. Beat the eggs in a large mixing bowl until smooth, then whisk in 1/3 cup barbeque sauce, garlic salt, Hickory Smoked Sea Salt, black pepper, celery salt, cumin and Worcestershire sauce until evenly smooth. Mix in the onion, crushed crackers, bread crumbs and ground beef with your hands until evenly blended. Pack the mixture into the prepared pan. Brush the top of the meatloaf with 2 more tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 1 hour. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 F (70 C). If you are going to smoke this, I suggest putting it in a pan to keep the juices to add flavor. Be sure to take the juices to make great gravy. If smoking in the Open Range, I would kick the temperature up to 300 F for 1-1/2 hours or until internal meat temperature reaches 160 F and no more. The “no more” is the secret.
by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Last time, we looked at the history and the different styles of BBQ,so our next step is to delve into the original BBQ technique: wood (charcoal). There are two types of charcoal: lump and briquette. Lump charcoal has been made for thousands of years and is consider the purest form. Briquette charcoal is basically sawdust bound by starch and other binders. Henry Ford did not invent briquette charcoal, but he put it on the map as the most popular charcoal used by American consumers. That’s right, Henry Ford of Detroit! You wonder why would Henry Ford be involved in charcoal production? Well most automobiles used a lot of wood in their bodies up to the early ‘30s. Ford was camping in northern Michigan and was telling Thomas Edison he had all this sawdust in his Kingsford, Michigan sawmill. So, Ford got the idea of making charcoal briquettes and marketing for barbequing. That’s right: Kingsford charcoal! Kingsford is not in Kingsford, Mich. or owned by Ford anymore, but it is one of the top selling briquette charcoal in the U.S. Briquette charcoal burning temperature is around 810 degrees Fahrenheit, while lump charcoal burning temp is up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. Briquette charcoal burns longer, but lump is easier to control temperature and does not have any additives. In starting your charcoal, you have many options, such as a chimney, charcoal lighter fluid and alcohol jell. The preferred methods are charcoal chimney (newspaper) or jelled alcohol, and both are odorless. The flavor comes from the juices of the food dripping on the coals and vaporizing, and also from any flavor wood you add for smoke. There are many type of grills that use charcoal, from kettle or box to kamado style. You can smoke with all styles, but box and kamado are the most popular for that cooking technique. Most smoking purists use the box style, but the kamado does a wonderful job. Floyd Havemeier at Herman’s Boy has done a great job with the Green Egg, and I also have had success with my Kamado Joe in smoking food. Cooking with charcoal is much easier if you have a thermometer in the cover of your grill. That way you know […]
by PETE KRUER Rockford Ace Hardware Americans love to cook and entertain outside. Some people think the reason is that we have so much outdoors to enjoy. Europeans are starting to cook outside more, but they just don’t get into it quite like Americans. Some of the best memories with family and friends are at barbeques! We are going to explore the fun and flavor of barbecuing and grilling. So is barbecuing and grilling the same? Well, not exactly; they both use fire, just in a different way. Barbecuing is cooking on indirect heat and with a cover over the food. Also, barbecuing is done at a lower temperature than grilling. Grilling, on the other hand, is over direct coals (heat) and at a much higher temperature. Barbecuing is seldom impulsive, but is planned out and done at home. Whereas, with grilling, you can be camping and you can make a fire and cook relatively quickly. Barbecuing and smoking are very similar. Outdoor cooking was changed forever by a man named Stephens from Chicago in the 1950s. Stephens was an engineer for Weber Co., and they made buoys for use on the great lakes. That’s right: BUOYS! Suburbia was exploding and people had bigger yards to enjoy being outside. Stephens had his friends over and was cooking on an open grill. He thought there had to be better way to control the heat and get more flavor when cooking. So, the next day at the shop, he took a buoy—yes, a buoy—and cut off the top, put grates, vents, a handle and legs on, and you have the Weber kettle grill! Mr. Weber saw no future in making grills, so he told Stephans that if he wants to make grills to buy him out. Stephans bought Weber Co., changed the name to Weber-Stephens, and began to make only grills. Wow! The Weber kettle grill started the American love affair with cooking outside and a whole new industry. Even though barbecuing has been part of the American family experience for hundreds of years, it has gone to a whole new level in the last 20 years. The southern U.S. is really the home of American barbecuing. Barbecuing has become as American as apple pie. The ethnic […]