Saturday, April 25, 2009

Old Fashioned Real Cornbread & Pinto Beans

Cornbread--vs--Corncake, anyone know the difference??? Just check the recipe. If it has any type of sweetner, it is corncake. If it has any more than about 3-4 tablespoons of flour to help hold it together, it is corncake. If it is baked in a pan or glass baking dish and the picture shows it more than 1" thick, it is corncake. Cornbread should be made out of fresh ground corn, sweet buttermilk, bacon drippings, little salt, couple eggs, and maybe no more than a 1/8 cup of flour per skillet. It should be baked in a very hot cast iron skillet that has been greased with lard or bacon drippings. The bottom should brown up nicely to the point of being slightly crunchy and the bread should come out about an inch in thickness.

Ok, lets do the real thing...

These are the ingredients for some good cornbread. The corn is grown on the Po-Farm for Frito Lay corn chips. We will grind this for our cornmeal.

Old Dave's recipe for two large 9-10" skillets of real cornbread is as follows.

2 cups fresh ground cornmeal
4 TBl flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups sweet buttermilk
2 beaten eggs
2 TBL bacon grease
Enough lard to grease up the two skillets.

Sift the dry ingredients and then add the wet stuff and stir lightly until it is mixed. Do not over-stir or overmix. Lumpy batter is a-ok.

Next step is two shell enough of the corn off of the cobs for our two cups of cornmeal.

Great meal is ground course and never fine and when you eat the cornbread, you should have some grit left in it. In other words, as you chew the cornbread, it should be slightly gritty. Again, It is NOT cake!!

This is about 4 cups of fresh ground cornmeal ready for our cornbread.

I decided to do this cook and bake on my Backwoods Chubby so I got it out, loaded it up with good lump charcoal and fired it off with two Weber fire cubes which I placed right in front of the two intake vents. I will also run a dry water pan for this bake and cook. I planned to bake the cornbread first at about 400 degrees and then lower the temp to around 275 degrees and do my beans.

I greased up two 9" skillets with lard and placed them in the smoker as I want the skillets very hot when I pour in the cornbread batter.

Now, while I am waiting for my cooker to get on temp, I will start on my old fashioned method of cooking some pinto beans to go with our real cornbread.

Never, I say never, soak hard beans for any recipe. If you do, you will lose up to 18% of the nutrition in the beans when you throw out the water. It is fine to wash the beans if you want but please, don't pre-soak any hard beans for the best results. Beans are simple...put them in a pot, light the fire, and cook them.

Never add water to any dry beans as they are cooking. Start with the right amount of water for the cook and you will get a better result.

To start my pinto bean cook, I sort about 2 cups of the beans to be sure to get the small rocks and other crap out of the beans. If they look dirty, I will wash them but 9 out of ten time with beans, I do not wash them as they usually look good to me.

I then get my seasoning meat ready for the cook. I like to season all beans with a little bacon and a lot of 2 year old aged country ham. For this 2 cup cook of pinto beans, I am using about 9-10 ozs of the ham and two strips of smoked bacon.

This picture shows the seasoning meat ready to go into the bean pot.

I will also chop up a medium size onion for the cook.

I start by throwing the ham and the bacon in the pot and then kinda rendering it down on the kitchen stove to where most of the grease has been cooked out of the meat. I then add 10 cups of water, the beans, and the onions and then grind a big batch of black pepper over the beans. I do not salt as the country ham is usually salty enough for the pot of beans.

The beans are now ready for the smoker.

Well, the Chubby is up to temp (about 400 degrees) and is ready for the cornbread.

Just pour about half the batter into the first very hot skillet and you should hear some crackling as the batter hits the very hot lard in the skillet.

Do the same to the second skillet and you are ready to smoke some cornbread. I usually use about one small piece of apple smoke wood or nothing but the lump charcoal for this bake.

It takes about 30 minutes at 400 degrees to get the cornbread done. This skillet is about done.

Both loaves just out of the smoker and looking good.

Just slop on some real butter and give the cornbread a try. I think you can see just how crispy the bottom of the cornbread is and that is the way you want it.

After I lowered the temp in the Backwoods Chubby to about 300 degrees, I loaded up the bean pot. I cooked the beans at around 275-300 degrees for about 3-1/2 hours to get them as done as I wanted.

About every 45 minutes, the smoke and skum would build up on top of the beans in the pot, and I would then stir all this great stuff into the beans and continue the cook.

The beans are about done and ready to come off the cooker.

I will usually taste the beans and adjust for salt and then maybe add some chopped onions and just eat a large bowl with some of that real cornbread.

Good stuff...Nuff Said

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

15th Annual Redneck Barbecue--Sikeston, Missouri [Lambert's Cafe]

The date of this event was April the 10th and 11th and was to be our first contest of the year for 2009 and I spent about a week getting everything together again and loaded into the trailer for this event. Was still too cold to de-winterize the trailer so we will use it without the bathroom and the water service.

My co-cook for this event was Steve Creech (ZZ-Que BBQ) from Columbus, Indiana and he arrived early on Thursday morning and we got him all loaded up and we were on the road by about 8:00am for this 330 mile trip to Sikeston.

After a couple of stops, we got into Sikeston around 12:30pm their time and found the cooking site and asked some folks where to set up and was told by a couple of teams that it didn't make any difference so we just picked out a spot and got all set up for the event. The site was at the Sikeston Rodeo Grounds and they had great hookups with both water and electricity. With some weather coming, we decided to go out and pick up some new wiper blades for the truck and get a bite to eat. We then unhooked the truck and went back into town and found an Auto-Zone and got some new blades and Steve installed them on the truck. Now to find something to eat.

Sikeston has a very famous cafe called Lambert's and is the home of the "Throwed Rolls" which has been seen many times on the Travel and Food channels and is a great adventure in itself. It was established in 1942 in Sikeston and they now have two other locations with one in Foley, Alabama and the other in Ozark, Missouri. Now, this old fellow doesn't wait well but the time was right between lunch and supper so we drove out to the place to see if we could get in without a wait and we did but it was still about full even at this time.

I really wasn't real hungry but I did want to order a whole meal so we could be sure to experience Ole Norm's Pass-Arounds and of course the "Throwed Rolls" and it came down to two great looking meals on the menu. The full one pound "Rooster" cut Chicken Fried Steak or the big 14 oz Real Country Ham meal. Tough choice!!! Anyway, I went with the Country Ham and for my two sides, did the mashed potatoes with white gravy and the cole slaw. My drink was to be unsweetend tea.

Bout this time, one of the kids came around with the first round of Ole Norm Pass-arounds and it was a pot of deep fried okra! The young lad kinda looked at us like we were some kind of out of towners as we didn't know what to do as we didn't have any plates or silverware on the table yet as we had just ordered. He told us to get some paper towels or napkins down on the table and he just poured out about a pound of the golded brown deep fried treat. Now, this old farmboy was in Heaven as I sure love this Southern treat and I just sat there and with some good hot sauce proceded to do some damage to that big pile of okra. Someone then hollered "Throwed Rolls" and I looked up and a young fellow just tossed one to me and those things are a big as softballs. Applied about a stick of butter to the roll and now it was really getting good. We just sat there and feasted on these two items and along with our tea which was served in quart mugs, just about made ourselves sick!

About 20 minutes later, our meal arrived. The ham was served sizzeling hot in a large stainless steel skillet that the meat was cooked in and the veggies were in bowls and also inside the skillet as well. Very nice presentation! Bout this time, here come all the rest of the kids with the Pass-Arounds. First was a large skillet of fried potatoes with just a hint of onion flavor and of course, I got a big helping. Next girl had a pot of black eyed peas, then a pot of macaroni and tomtoes arrrived, then more okra, next came a girl with a bucket of sorghum for the rolls. And then, some more throwed rolls and this just continued on throughout the meal. Those kids just forced all this food on this old fat man and I really loved it. The Country Ham was the real thing and must have been aged at least 12-14 months and was the very best I have ever eaten in a restaurant. All the sides and Pass-Arounds were great and the meal was as good as can be found anywhere and was resonably priced. We both had to get a 9X9 to-go box and load up what we couldn't eat and believe me, it was about as much as was served in the first place and sure made for a great breakfast and lunch on the next day at the contest.

Friends, I just can not say enough good about this place and I just can't wait until next year when I can take on that "Rooster" cut full pound of the Chicken Fried Steak. For me, the restaurant itself was worth the trip to this contest. I will remember to take my camera next year!

Arrived back at the contest site and one of the organizers told us that we were parked in the wrong spot. Now that didn't go over very well with me after spending about 90 minutes getting all set up and I squalled and griped for about 30 minutes as I couldn't see any difference in the size of the sites. The lady couldn't give me a good answer on why I couldn't stay where I was parked and forced us to load up and move to another site. The J-Mack team had arrived and they helped up move and get setup on another site and I sure thanked them for that help. I was a heart attack looking for a place to happen after that huge meal at Lambert's and sure didn't need all that hassle after my meal. Hell, I needed a nap!

Anyway, we got all setup again and checked the tv for the weather and it looked pretty bad for the evening. It just looked like waves of bad weather coming so we did get the truck all hitched up again and got everything stowed away as the storm and winds were coming. I was very tired and went to bed early and then the first round of weather hit at about 12:30am and the wind just bounced and tossed the trailer up and down and the rain came down in sheets. There were many 55 gallon trash barrels around the campground and they were blowing all around the site and banging up against the truck and trailer. I had the tv on and could see the mess we were in and it didn't look good. There were all kinds of tornado and storm warnings out and they were reporting some deaths just West of our location in Arkansas so it was a bad storm. We made it thru the first round ok and still had electricity so I figured I would be up all night so I made a pot of coffee and then checked outside to see the damage. Real good thing that there were not many teams at the contest yet as I am sure there would have been some considerable damage. Well, the porto-pots were blown over and the trash barrels were all over the place but that was all the damage I coud see in the dark. Kinda surprised me that my cooker hadn't been blown over. Anyway, we had about 3 more waves of weather come thru before morning but none as bad as the first wave and we did survive the mess without any damage.

After the last big wave went thru at around 4:30am, it was now just misting some light rain and I went out to do my morning walk. I got up to the far end of the campground to where the team of Florida Skin & Bones was set up and found a mess. This team had arrived early on Thursday as they were one of the teams that planned to vend at the contest and of course, they were all setup by Thursday afternoon and the storm had realy torn up their area. They had a large metal awning that had blown back over the top of their trailer and then about 60 more yards and over a fence and up against the side of a maintenance building on the golf course. Many other items had been upset and blown around their site, stuff broken, bent up, lost, and it was a real mess. Sure felt sorry for the team but they were taking it ok and laughing about the mess.

Anyway, it's Friday morning and time to start thinking about getting our meat prepped for the contest as we did want to do some visiting after this was done. Had several friends coming as this looked to be a good event. Around 8:00am, and after breakfast, the rain stopped long enough for us to get outside and prep our contest meat. Probably spent about two hours getting this chore done and just in time as it had started to rain again and now it was time to visit and chew the fat with our friends as they arrived and got their sites all setup for the contest. It looked like more rain was coming so we figured we had better enjoy it now as more was coming our way.

Got to visit with the Smokin' T's and also Bill Arnold of Blues Hog fame. Also said hi to Delta Smoke as I hadn't seen them since the Lebanon, Tn contest of last year. Did visit with a couple of new teams and got back with Bill Arnold as I needed a case of his sauce. I purchased a case of gallons with three gallons of the regular sauce and then one gallon of the Tenn Red sauce. That should hold me for the rest of the contest season with what I have at home. Steve purchased a case of pints as well.

I didn't get any pictures as the rest of the day was kinda nasty with off and on rain and some wind and cold and it just wasn't a very nice day.

About 4:00pm, Steve went to the cooks meeting and when he got back, we got ready to get started with the cook. Got the cooker set up to run off of the inverter and marine battery as I wasn't sure we would have electricity all night. Fired it up and brought it up to temp and loaded the first round of meat (pork butts) at about 6:00pm. We then loaded the briskets at about 8:15pm and we were set for about 5-1/2 hours before I needed to wrap the meat. I went to bed as I do like to get some sleep early into the contest. Steve came in later and went to bed as well as it is always a long night cooking a contest. We got thru the night in great shape as the weather started to lift and Saturday morning was dry and with some sun coming around a couple hours later in the morning. Turned out to be a nice day. Steve did a practice walk to the judging building which was a good distance from our site so he would know how long it would take to get our meat turned in and we just cooked and prepped all four of the meats and got them into the presentation boxes and all turned in by 1:30pm in the afternoon.

We then did what clean up work we could do as we planned to stay over on Saturday evening at the contest site so we couldn't load everything into the trailer until Sunday morning.

Cleaned up a little and caught a ride in a golf cart from the J-Mack team and went to the awards which were inside a nice building. The awards were around 3:00pm in the afternoon.

We ended up with the following awards:

Chicken...5th place...and nice plaque and some money
Ribs...11th place...nothing for this
Pork...9th place...ribbon
Brisket...7th place...ribbon

Overall...8th place

This was our chicken and our highest scoring box.

Was a very tight contest with the top 9 teams only separated by 13 points. I deserved the scores we got as I forgot a few steps with the first contest of the year. I have to be retrained each year and this takes a few contests to get going again!

The J-Mack team invited us down to their beautiful motorhome for a pizza party on this evening and even come and got us on the golf cart. I wasn't hungry as I had snacked all afternoon but old Steve had some pizza at the party. We didn't stay very long as I think we were both beat so we went back to the trailer and I went to bed.

Got an early start on Sunday morning and I got home about 12:30pm. Steve is about an hour away so he got home early in the afternoon as well.

Was a great contest and I will probably do this one again. Lambert's by itself was worth the trip!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Backwoods Competitor "Demo" Grill & Bake

This grill and bake was done a few years ago to show the versatility of the Backwoods line of cookers.

My plan was to grill direct on the lower grid in the cooker over the lump coals at a very high temp and at the same time, bake on two levels in the top of the cooker at around 400-450 degrees.

Wonder how many cookers out there are designed well enough to be able to even consider this type of cook?

I would have no help with this cook so I did get most of my prep work done in advance.

This grilling part of this cook was to be a plate of pork chops and about a pound and a half of some cod fish.

The baking part of the cook was to be one loaf of focaccia bread, two loaves of French bread which will be baked, split, buttered with garlic, and then back on the cooker to be grilled and made into garlic bread, one thick and chewy pizza, and one thin and crispy pizza. The green dough balls in the picture are my baking dough for the above treats. The items in the bowls are the ingredients for the pizza and focaccia bread.

I figured I would need a full load of very even burning lump to keep the cooker where I wanted it for this planned two hour grill and bake. I use two fire cubes to start the fire with one at the left front near the intake vent, and one at the right rear neat the other intake vent. This shoud give me a very even burning fire for this cook.

I also removed my removable water pan from the cooker so I could grill direct over the lump coal in the cooker.

I then set up my two baking hearths near the top of the cooker for my pizza and bread.

I then brought the cooker up to a good baking temp which was about 450 degrees and held it there for about 15 minutes to be sure my hearths were all heated up and ready to bake.

While the cooker was coming up to temp, I made up my first thin and crispy pizza and had it ready for the cooker.

The rest of this cook is just a blur as I was running around like a chicken with it's head off trying to keep up with the cook as I didn't have any help. All the bread products had to be rolled out, prepped, and made into each type of bread I wanted for the cook.

This picture shows the thin and crispy pizza about half done as I was loading the thick and chewy pizza on the cooker.

At this time, I also loaded the pork chops on the lower direct grid in the cooker for my grilling.

When the two pizzas were done, I loaded the focaccia bread on the hearth. Looks like I also turned the chops over on the lower grid.

After the loaf of focaccia came off the hearth, I loaded my two loaves of French bread. At this time, I also took the chops off the cooker.

I then put my perforated fish pan on the lower grid and loaded up the cod fish on this pan for this very short cook.

When the French bread was done, I pulled it off the cooker and at this time, I also turned the fish over on the grid. I then sliced the French bread in half and added some butter and garlic and got it ready for the grill.

The fish came off the cooker along with the pan I used to cook it in and now the cooker was ready again for grilling my garlic bread.

The garlic bread just took a few minutes and it was ready to come off the cooker.

The results of this crazy grill and bake. Top left is the thin and crispy pizza, center is the thick and chewy pizza, top right is the focaccia bread, lower left is the chops, center is the fish, and on the right is French/garlic bread.

I don't think I would try a cook like this again without some help....this old fat wore out fellow is just not up to this kind of work and abuse!!