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Alex's Smoking and Grilling Page

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There are many websites and information resources dedicated to describing time-honored, traditional BBQ, with the required techniques, equipment, philosophies, and final results. This is not one of them.

Here are a few examples of ways I've cooked with fire, or seen others do it. Now that I've set this page up, I think back on times in the past when I should have taken a picture of something I've seen. I'll keep adding to this collection.

Open-pit roasting of lamb at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio. This is their annual Greek Festival held on the church grounds every Labor Day weekend. This picture shows the limits of the camera's flash, so it's difficult to see well. The pit with a carcass is in the foreground, you're looking at the back of the service counter in the middle ground, and in the background you can see customers milling around in the seating and serving area. They serve a dinner platter with some lamb, potato with lemon, an onion, and some bread. Sit down, listen to the music and watch the dancing.
A typical winter breakfast of bacon and eggs, using a grill provided at a campsite in Kiser Lake State Park in Ohio. The skillets and water kettle reside with my camping gear, and are generally ready to hit the road anytime. This is the quiet season in the parks; no one else was camping in the rest of the park's campground. And no mosquitoes!
A cute little rig on the sidewalk in front of the Thomas Family Winery in Madison, Indiana (halfway between Cincinnati and Louisville on the Ohio River). The winery has an annual "hotluck" and Firey Foods Festival, usually in the first weekend of April. I borrowed this rig for the festival. I'm not talking about the trailer. My rig is the little box grill with the flames coming out, next to the wood. While the big smoker produced turkey (and more) smoked over cherry, I grilled chicken wings marinated in a traditional lime/garlic/green chile marinade called Old Sour in Key West. It was fun to send billowing clouds of garlic-lime steam into traffic passing by.
A mixed grill of ham steak, sausage and bacon on a Lodge Sportsman grill with a Lodge skillet. Iron skillets work well with this iron grill, which does not wobble under the weight. I could probably run the dutch oven on this grill, shoveling coals onto the lid. This grill gives you easy access to the fire, and it's easy to stoke it continuously as you cook.
An example of using a box grill to smoke, as I might do on a camping trip. This first shot shows the grill, hatchet, fire, and wood. In this case I am using charcoal briquettes for part of the heat. The wood is apple, in this case a difficult crotch piece. I've split off most of the smaller half, and the pieces arrayed here will go into the grill. A small fire starter stick (parrafin and sawdust) is already lit in the charcoal.
Several minutes later, all the wood is on the fire and beginning to ignite. Two fillets of whitefish are brined and laid out on a double layer of heavy-duty foil. The rack with the fish will go in, the lid will go on, and the next five minutes will be very smoky until the pace of the fire slows down to what the grill vents will allow.
The result, approximately 1/2 hour later. The amount of fuel that originally fit in the grill is just enough to get the fish to this point - for another type of meat, the grill could have been refueled by slipping more slats of wood in through the vents. The fish could have been removed earlier, to get something closer to a poached-fish texture, but I wanted this darker color. When the fish is cooked to this point the skin simply sticks to the foil and the meat flakes off.
Before-and-after pictures of a slab of pork ribs, rubbed but not marinated or mopped. I'm still experimenting with the rub ingredients, and I have to restrain myself from adding as much hot pepper as I'd like, so the kids will eat it. I rely on a good-quality sweet red Hungarian paprika to give a good pepper color and flavor, without too much heat. I use more salt than sugar, and I usually like to add some ground mustard and cumin seed.

The iron rack is a Lodge Grill Great. The chile platter is from Heartstone Pottery in Zanesville, Ohio.
Before-and-after pictures of an 18-lb fresh turkey - absolutely the largest thing that can fit in the New Braunfels Big Texas. I was barely able to close the door on it. The bird was brined for about 12 hours (could have been longer) and smoked for about 3 hours on a broiler rack over a pan of water. The cavity was stuffed with celery. When I took it off some of the juices still ran red, so I gave it 2 more hours in an oven at 300F. It is turned breast-down in the first picture. I was satisfied with the results, but I think it would be more practical to just cook a turkey breast. Using the whole bird means paying for bones, but in this case I scrapped the carcass and made stock for a white bean soup - which gelled in the refrigerator.

Related Links

- The Ring of Fire (peppers)
- The Smoke Ring (BBQ)

I've created a discussion group called Smoke and Grill at It's intended for people who use a combination of smoking and grilling techniques. You can subscribe by using the form below.

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