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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hang out with us on REDDIT!

Sizzle Grove is on Reddit!  Come join our Reddit community and have some fun.  Don't forget to check the actual blog often though...

By the way, some content on Reddit (outside of the SizzleGrove community) isn't kid-friendly or work friendly.  It's a silly website, but we like it.

Beer Lingo

You've seen our article on Barbecue Lingo... at least YOU'D BETTER HAVE SEEN IT.  Anyway, we figured since this is a barbecue and beer blog (mmm, beerbecue), we ought to let you guys in on some standard beer lingo as well, in case you all get confused when we describe beer.  This is not an overly comprehensive list, as we want to keep it accessible to those who are new to the beer world, so keep calm, beer geeks.

ABV - Alcohol by volume.

Acidic - Technically speaking, this refers to anything with a pH below 7, but in beer/food terms, might refer to anything with a tangy, sharp, sour flavor.

Ale - A beer made with "top fermenting" yeast. Ferments quicker and at a warm temperature.

Barley - A grain commonly malted and used for beer making.  Also used in food.

Beer - Any ale or lager, or hybrid.

Belgian - Referring to an ale (usually) either from Belgium, or in the Belgian style.  Belgian beers tend to be very complex with pronounced yeast flavors, and many have a high ABV.

Bitter - Either refers to the flavor sensation of bitterness, often caused by hops, or refers to the English low-alcohol style ale called a "bitter."

English - Referring to an ale or lager from England or in the English style. English beers are generally sessionable and served at cask temperatures, though some strong ales come from England too.

Flemish - Referring to a particular region in West Flanders, Belgium that produces dark red or dark brown sour ales.

Funky - Generally refers to beers, such as saisons, with unusual, sometimes very earthy and tangy yeast flavors.  Aromas of such beers may even be similar to cheese or farms.

German - Referring to an ale or lager from Germany or in the German style. German lagers are particularly known for being well-balanced and crisp.

Goblet - A rounded, stemmed glass for serving beer in.  Popularly used for Belgian beers (due to high carbonation) and very high quality beers for aesthetic appeal.

Hefeweizen - An unfiltered wheat ale.  Generally has a cloudy orange to brown color.  Most commonly known for having banana and clove-like yeasty flavors.

Hops  - Bitter, green, cone-shaped flowers that act as a preservative and flavoring agent, used in relatively small amounts in beer.  Flavors from hops can be piney, floral, citrusy, earthy, grassy, woody, and combinations of all.

Imperial - Technically comes from "Russian imperial stout," which were brewed in England for the Russian royals, but has become a general term for high ABV beers.

Imperial pint - A beer served in a glass that holds almost 20 ounces.  Popular in England.

India pale ale - An ale made with pale malts which is hoppier than normal and has an ABV usually above 6%.

Kolsch - A hybrid ale/lager brewed in Cologne, Germany.  Generally golden/straw yellow in color, crisp, and with some fruit-like flavors.

Lager - A beer made with "bottom fermenting" yeast.  Ferments slowly at cold temperatures.

Lambic - An ale, traditionally brewed in certain parts of Belgium, made with wild yeast and partial wheat malt.  Most are very sour, though some are tempered by being brewed with fruit.

Malt - Barley, wheat, or other grains which has been partially germinated in order to allow its sugars to concentrate. Used in large amounts in beer making for color, body, and alcohol content.

Mild - Referring either to a beer with a light flavor, or referring to a type of English session beer.

Pale - Lighter colored beer, usually ranging from straw yellow to orange-ish, which is brewed with lighter colored "pale malts."

Phenolic - Mediciney tasting, which can be an off-putting flavor found sometimes in strong beers.

Pilsner - A type of lager which traditionally has a light color and a lightly bitter flavor, often made with Saaz hops.  German pilsners and Czech pilsners are common.

Porter  - A type of ale brewed with dark malts, similar enough to a stout that some consider the terms to be totally subjective.

Rauchbier - Translates to "smoked beer" in German, as it is brewed with peat smoked malt.  Has a very smokey, almost bacon-like flavor.

Roasted barley - Barley which has been kiln fired but not malted, giving a dark color and coffee-ish flavor to stouts.

Saison - A Belgian style of ale, traditionally brewed in a farmhouse.  Some are funky, some are crisp and refreshing.  Most have a pronounced yeast flavor.

Session/Sessionable - Refers to low ABV beers which can be consumed in large quantities.  Session beers are popular in the United Kingdom in particular.

Sour - Tangy and citrusy and funky flavors which may come from Brettanomyces yeast or other wild yeasts.

Stout - A dark ale (generally pitch black) which is made with dark malts and roasted barley.

Wheat - Another grain often used in some types of beer, which tends to offer a yeasty, sometimes very fruit-like flavor.

White ale - A type of wheat ale traditionally brewed with orange zest and coriander.  Has a light, cloudy, yellowish color and lemony/yeasty flavor.

Yeast - Microbes which give beer flavor, allow carbonation, and convert sugar to alcohol.

Any important ones you think we left out?  Nuts to you.  I mean, either leave a comment or submit to

Monday, August 30, 2010

Green Chili Hot Sauce

This sauce, made with Korean green chilis, boasts a moderate Tabasco-esque heat and a distinctly pickly flavor.

About 20 rinsed Korean green chilis (2-3 inches each)
2 and 1/4 cups water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt
2 tsp agave nectar (or light honey)
Juice of 1/2 lime, with some of the pulp

1. Pour water and whole chilis into saucepan over high heat.
2. Add salt, agave nectar, and lime juice.
3. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce heat to a high simmer.
4. Add vinegar, and let simmer for about 20 minutes, or until peppers become pale.
5. Remove peppers with tongs, bring liquid off the heat.
6. Cut stems off peppers, and place into a blender.

7. Start blending peppers on a  low setting, gradually increasing until they become well blended.
8. Move liquid from pan into a measuring cup.
9. With top still on blender, set to a medium blending speed.  Remove top, then gradually pour in liquid.  It should take all of the liquid, but stop pouring in once the sauce starts making a 'jumping' movement, and discard any excess liquid.

10. Sauce can be poured into jars, as pictured, and then transferred to a plastic squeeze bottle after it's cooled.  Or, thoroughly wash out an old vinegar bottle and pour the sauce in through a funnel.  Enjoy Sizzle Grove Green Chili Hot Sauce with some smokey sausages or brisket!

Got your own hot sauce recipe?  Got pics of it?  Send it to, and you just may be showcased and credited on our site!

New Email Address

Hi fans.

Inquiries can now be sent to  Submissions sent to our old email address may not get response right away, as we won't be checking it as often.  We can't wait to hear from you all.  As always, send us any recipes, tips, and scandalous barbecue photos.  You just may get a spotlight on Sizzle Grove.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Smoke Turkey

In our opinion, there is no possible way to make turkey that even comes close to being as good as smoked turkey.  When done right, it's one of the best meats ever.  When done wrong... it's probably still pretty good as long as it isn't still raw.

Your best bet for making smoked turkey is to use an upright water smoker.  In the past, you've read about how we hate using water pans, as they suck up a lot of heat and tend to impede a nice bark, or crust, on some barbecued meats.  However, they are optimal for smoking turkey, due to the long cooking time.

This is not exactly a recipe, but a tutorial.

First, obviously, purchase the right turkey.  Try to find one between 10 and 15 pounds, as it will otherwise be too heavy for your smoker (and take too long to cook).  Rinse your turkey under cold water, and remove gizzards.  Some merchants will stuff the gizzards in a pouch inside the turkey in case you wish to use them.  That's up to you, we don't have gizzard recipes.  Tie the ends of the turkey legs close together with butcher's string, in order to keep it compact so it doesn't dry out.

Next, season the bird.  Remember, most of the meat inside will be unseasoned, since turkey is so thick (unless you inject it with something, which we think is weird).  Feel free to be minimal - salt, pepper, garlic powder, maybe some paprika both on the outside of the bird and in the cavity.  If you'd like, slice up garlic cloves and stuff them under the skin, plus some bunched up sprigs of rosemary inside the cavity.

You will need a lot of coals to cook a turkey.  Either light two charcoal chimneys, or light your coals directly in the coal pan about 1.5 hours before you're ready to cook.  Put in a few chunks of your favorite soaked hard wood for smoke, and keep plenty extra aside.

Place the coal pan (carefully!) in the bottom of your water smoker, and fill the upper pan with water, about an inch below the brim.  Place your turkey in the top rack.  Open a beer.

This turkey will take about 8 hours to cook, and you'll probably need to light another batch of coals halfway through.  When adding more coals, get a friend to help you remove the water pan.  It really sucks when water pans spill over onto coals. As long as your smoker is open, it might be a nice time to brush the skin with some olive oil, butter, or both.  Also, add more wood whenever smoke diminishes.

The turkey will be done once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  The skin should be noticeably browned, and if you did a great job, the meat will be fairly pink most of the way through.  This is not due to rawness, but this is the color that comes with an abundance of wood smoke.

Remember to let the turkey sit for a good ten minutes before carving it up.  Meat tenses up after cooking, so allowing it to relax helps it become more juicy once you serve it.  Enjoy smoked turkey with a malty German lager, or a rauchbier if you're into that kind of thing.

Buy yourself an upright water smoker before November.  Practicing barbecuing a for a couple months.  Make this for Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Basement Beer

Cool breezes temper the searing summer sun as September approaches in Connecticut.  If there's one thing we look forward to for autumn (other than smoked turkey, or reading Nick's alluring alliterations), it's enjoying our richer, darker, heartwarming beers we've kept in the cellar or basement.  That's right, beer can age like wine can.

Well, not exactly like wine can.  Most beers will only go stale if you put them downstairs with your collection of cabs and chiantis.  But, know a few basic rules, and you might have some luck setting beer aside and storing it for the winter.  Like a beer squirrel.

First off, most strong, dark Belgian beers will be great for putting away.  Not all, most.  Same with imperial stouts, barleywines, old ales, and sour ales.  Generally, if it's either a wild yeast-fermented beer or a high alcohol beer (in the 9% or more range), you can give it a shot.  The darker the malt, generally the better it will age as well.

Why age beer?  Well, as strong beer ages, sweeter, toffee-like malt flavors blossom and hop bitterness diminishes.  If you were to try to age an India pale ale, you'd end up with a pretty disappointing beer, as IPAs are cherished for their punchy, sharp hop flavors.  However, some imperial stouts and barleywines are brewed with an abundance of hops, probably more than really complements their flavor profile, in the expectation that beer nerds like us at Sizzle Grove will put them in our basement for a year or two.

Other beers age unexpectedly.  Sour ales may become more vinous over time, or less.  Tartness might diminish a bit, sweetness might open up a bit... it's hard to say with wild yeast.  It's wild.  And some beers will age poorly, even if you think they should age well.  No one quite knows the science behind it, it's just fun to try.

Some beers we recommend aging include Unibroue's Trois Pistoles, a strong, dark, Belgian-style ale with a peppery, anise-like flavor when fresh, that smooths out and develops molasses flavor as it ages after about 2 years.  Remember our review of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout?  Buy yourself a case of that when you can, and put it away for one year.  We think it's the perfect amount of time to open up its chocolatey sweetness.  And if you can afford to buy English old ales like Thomas Hardy's.... put that in your cellar until your 4th grade daughter graduates from college.

Cellared beer should be stored upright, in a cool environment (non-fluctuating cellar temp, around 60 degrees is best).  The area should also be just slightly humid, in case you have corked bottles.  We recommend labeling when you bought them, or keep an eye on the brewed date so you know how long you let them go for.

How do you pair aged beer with barbecue?  Sizzle Grove thinks dessert is the best bet.  Slice up some pineapple, rub it with a bit of molasses, brown sugar, a tiny dash of salt, and red pepper flakes (yep, that's right!).  Grill or smoke until tender, top with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, and open up some well-earned basement beer.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Coffeecue Chicken Drumsticks

Meat always tastes great when it's left on the bone, particularly meat such as chicken which is inherently less flavorful than many other meats.  Think about it: soup stocks are made with bones, right?  The bone imparts a lot of flavor, which is why we love ribs and wings so much.

If you want some smoked chicken that's a bit more substantial than just wings, try making Sizzle Grove Coffeecue Chicken Drumsticks.  This is REAL barbecued chicken... not just chicken slathered in sauce that burns as soon as it hits the grill.  Also, it's caffeinated chicken, which makes it even cooler.

10 chicken drumsticks
Plenty of Sizzle Grove Coffee Rub
Plenty of Sizzle Grove Espresso Barbecue Sauce
Olive oil

1. Rinse chicken drumsticks under cold water, just to be safe.

2. Rub skin lightly with olive oil, then apply a very generous layer of Sizzle Grove Coffee Rub.  Let marinade for a few hours or up to a full day.

3. Place onto grill over coals, set low.  Adjust vents to obtain a temperature around 275 degrees.

4. Turn chicken about a quarter turn every 20-25 minutes, to cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours.  During the last fifteen minutes, brush with Sizzle Grove Coffee Barbecue Sauce.

5. Cook to an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit.  If you don't have a meat thermometer, simply cut into the meat of one of the drumsticks, down to the bone, and ensure that the meat is not red any more down by the bone.  A reddish pink smoke ring on the outer layer, however, is not only normal, but highly welcome.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

BBQ IN REVIEW: One Eyed Pig in Newtown, CT

Who says Northerners can't barbecue?

That's slowly becoming our mantra here at Sizzle Grove, as we develop our own Connecticut barbecue recipes and visit awesome establishments the CT/NY area. Recently we had a chance to visit Newtown's One Eyed Pig BBQ, previously a blue collar bar which, since July 2010, has been transformed into a great barbecue joint.

Upon arrival, I was a little bit unsure of what I was getting into.  Couldn't smell the smoke yet, and it was a quiet night being a Wednesday.  However, we walked in, and I got just a hint of that familiar hickory-esque aroma that I love so much (though I can't say for sure what they use for smoke).  Sometimes it takes a little while for the aroma to fully develop at a barbecue joint.

There was seating at the bar, and a section of tables separated by a wall, most likely for family units.  We chose to sit in what I'm dubbing the family section, as it was quiet and we could see the large flat screen television.  Menus were already at the table; small, simple, but good and decently priced.

As the name One Eyed Pig suggests, this place was certainly porkcentric.  The stand-out items were ribs or pulled pork, though they also served whole or half chickens, plus a few other dishes.  I chose the half rack of ribs, which came with two sides.  Fries both standard and sweet potato, macaroni and cheese, beans, slaw.... what to choose?  As much as I wanted to be healthy and get beans and slaw (the two veggie sides), I had to have me some sweet tater fries and mac 'n cheese.

My half rack of meaty spare ribs came out naked, but aromatically smokealicious.  Tables had a variety of sauces, including a vinegary and lightly peppery mop sauce, a VERY peppery hot sauce, and a signature tomatoey One Eyed Pig BBQ Sauce.  The first bite of ribs had to be unsauced, so I could judge.  Smoke, check.  Meat coming clean off the bone... very check.  Spice rub minimal, but maybe that's their thing.  Either way, I'm abundantly pleased and I've got sauces.

Sides... awesome.  Crisp, thinner-than-usual sweet potato fries require no adornment, and the macaroni and cheese was quite flavorful as well.

Other folks at my table enjoyed pulled pork, which I was pleased to sample.  Tender, smokey, also served naked.  BBQ sauce is right there for those who want a traditional, picturesque serving, or for those of you who like Carolina or Tennessee style pork, a little mop sauce and a dash of black pepper awaits your sprinkling.

Beer-wise, your best bet is probably to get a safe Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, as One Eyed Pig doesn't specialize in the craft beer department.  As much as we love beer here at Sizzle Grove, we figured we'd be too full from the barbecue anyway.  And we were right.

One Eyed Pig is located at 71 S Main St in Newtown, CT.  They're open "11am - ??" and frequently feature local live music.  Follow them on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

BBQ BASICS: Smokey Flavor From Your Propane Grill

We're aware that most of you don't own smokers.  Lighting coals is time consuming, and keeping them hot can be frustrating, albeit still a very worthwhile hobby in our opinion.  However, you can actually get real wood smoke flavor from a propane grill.

Some propane grills come equipped with a "smoker box," in which soaked wood chips may be added.  That's easy.  Most of our grills don't have that. For the rest of us, making a "smoking pouch" is an easy, worthwhile step you can take before attempting slow cooking on your propane grill.

Refrain from soaking wood chips.  Place chips into either a small aluminum tray, or into a small sheet of aluminum foil.  Poke several small holes in the bottom of this aluminum receptacle.

Set the grill to searing hot first, to remove any debris from previous cooking.  Once you've brushed away debris from your grill grates, set the heat as low as you need.  You can try putting the side burners on medium, and leaving the middle ones off for indirect grilling.

Next, move one of the side grill grates aside using an oven mit and some tongs.  Place the smoking pouch directly ontop of the side burner, and place the grill grate back.  The wood may take a little while to smolder, open up a beer and get your food on once your pouch starts generating smoke.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Espresso Barbecue Sauce

Need the perfect match for Sizzle Grove Coffee Rub?  How about a dark, coffee-based, molasses-infused barbecue sauce to keep you going after a day of barbecuing and drinking beer?

Two shots of espresso, or 4-5 ounces of strong black coffee
1/2 cup ketchup
6 oz. can plain tomato sauce
1 tbsp brown mustard
1 tbsp molasses
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (or substitute balsamic vinegar)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp white wine or rice wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika (or regular paprika + cayenne)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
Two thin slices of white onion, chopped fine
A dash of olive oil (or bacon fat if you have it... seriously)

1. Heat pan to medium with olive oil (or delicious, glorious bacon fat).  Simmer onion and crushed garlic until well browned... give it its due time.
2. Add ketchup, mustard, and tomato sauce, stir a bit, then add brown sugar and molasses.
3. Next, add coffee and all the vinegars.  Stir up again.
4. Add all spices and seasonings.  Simmer for a few minutes, and stir a bit.
5. Use it that day, or jar it up and it should last a good month or two.

Yields around 3/4 to 1 cup of barbecue sauce.

Butter-Basted T-Bone Steak

Some foods lie right on the fine line between "grilling" and "barbecuing."  If something is cooked over coals and wood until tender, but happened to be at a higher heat, what would you call it?  We at Sizzle Grove, quite frankly, don't care so much.  It's all about results.

One of our favorite foods that's more on the grilled side of the spectrum is butter-basted T-bone steak, as created by Sizzle Grove correspondent Rob.  The flavor is tremendously rich, the beef is tender, and smoke flavor is abundant. It may be quick to cook, but it practically melts like... well, like butter.

4 T-bone steaks
Black pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary, chopped up
Olive oil
1/2 stick (or equivalent) melted butter

1. Start a chimneyful of coals, and set coal pan higher in your smoker.  If you're working with a non-upright smoker, aim for about 400 degrees.
2. Drizzle steaks very lightly with olive oil and rub on both sides.  Sprinkle each side with rosemary, plus salt and black pepper to taste.
3. Put soaked hickory chips into your smoker, cover with the grill grate, and get the steaks on.
4. Cook 10 minutes or so, or until the steaks juices begin to pool up at the top of each steak.  When ready, flip each steak over, and baste heartily with melted butter.
5. Cook for another 8 minutes, or until steak feels springy, but slightly soft to the touch.  This corresponds with a medium-cooked steak, which should be about 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
6. As always, let the meat rest a few minutes, then enjoy!

Check this video on for a demonstration on checking for steak doneness.

(Photo licensed by Creative Commons)

Monday, August 23, 2010

BBQ BASICS: How Vinegar Helps The Barbecue Process

A lot of my friends claim not to like the flavor of vinegar.  As an avid appreciator of all things briney and pickley and sour, I happen to love vinegar.  I enjoy the intense bite of vinegar in barbecue.  However, even if it's not a dominant flavor, vinegar adds a lot to the actual cooking process in barbecue.

Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is what gives it such pungency.  In a concentrated form, acetic acid is dangerously corrosive.  In its diluted form, as found in vinegar, it is actually very helpful for cooking.  Vinegar helps "break down" meat, particularly tough, fatty meat or collagen-laden meat.  This is why bastes, or "mop sauces" are usually 50% vinegar or more.

Did you know that smoke flavor can actually be enhanced by using a vinegar-based marinade, or by brushing meat with vinegar before barbecuing?  This is because vinegar helps open the pores of raw meat, allowing smoke to penetrate more easily.  Additionally, the oils from your spice rub will seep into the pores of the meat, allowing the flavor to infuse into the finished product deeply.

There are many different types of vinegar, so it may be confusing figuring out which one (or ones) to choose for barbecuing.  Apple cider vinegar is a favorite among barbecuers, due to the fact that it's flavorful and has a medium pungency.  It's not exactly dark like balsamic vinegar or Chinese black vinegar, and it's not exactly light like rice wine or white wine vinegar.

Sizzle Grove recommends mixing apple cider vinegar with another lighter vinegar, such as either rice wine or white wine, for most barbecuing applications from marinades to bastes to sauces.  We also like using red wine vinegar, particularly for items with Mexican or Italian style spice rubs.  However, for our signature coffee sauces and bastes, a small amount of balsamic vinegar can be quite delicious.

Most grocery stores these days have a wide variety of different styles of vinegars, from fruit vinegar, to champagne vinegar, to red wine vinegar.  Asian grocery stores will have more exotic types, such as palm vinegar, coconut vinegar (which is REALLY sharp), and black vinegar.  Get a small variety to try out for different barbecue dishes.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smokey Corn Husk Sausages

Sorry for the break in posts, everyone... Sizzle Grove has been busy developing and testing out a delicious, new way to make sausages at home, without the ickiness of natural casing and weird machinery.

Corn husk sausages begin with ground beef and pork, plenty of seasoning, and, of course, soaked corn husks. The meat is formed into a log shape, rolled into the corn husk, and barbecued up.  The beauty of doing this is the fact that the delectable charcoal and wood smoke flavor penetrates the husk.  Each sausage is pretty small, about 3-4 inches depending on the size of each husk. 

Note: this is no quick recipe.  It takes a bit of prep time, though the cook time is considerably less than most of our recipes.

Also note: we used fresh corn husks (it was an excuse to grill up some corn too), but you may be able to purchase dried corn husks at specialty stores, most likely Latin American specialty food stores.

1 pound ground beef (20% fat is good)
1.5 pounds ground pork
1 tsp salt
1.5 tsp black pepper
1 tsp whole fennel seeds
1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika (or a mix of regular paprika and cayenne)
1 tsp dry oregano, or a few sprigs of fresh oregano
1 clove crushed garlic
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Husks of about 4 ears of corn


1. Soak corn husks in warm water, discarding the very small husks.  Let soak for a few hours.

2. Mix meat with all herbs, spices, garlic, and vinegar.

3. Pat corn husks relatively dry and lay out onto a clean plate or sheet where they can easily be reached.  At this point, you might as well start lighting your coals outside.

4. Scoop about 1/5 to 1/4 meat mixture, roll into a small log, and place inside of a corn husk.  Leave about two inches of space at the edge of each husk.

5. Roll husk around sausage log until well-veiled. Either tie ends off with butcher's string, or, if you're lazy like me, just fold the edge under.  It worked fine.  Do this for each sausage.

6. Get your coals into your smoker, plus your favorite hard wood for smoke.  Place sausages onto smoker.

7. Cooking time will be about an hour and fifteen minutes at around 250 degrees Fahrenheit, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

8. When ready to serve, unroll sausages from their husks, and drizzle them with a tiny dash of Sizzle Grove's Thai Chili Hot Sauce.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

BBQ BASICS: Lump Coals vs Briquettes

Why does coal vary so much?  It's processed, burnt wood.  I mean, seriously.

Well, there are a lot of reasons that you may find different prices on bags of coals, and different actual types of coals.  Aside from the obvious explanation (different types of wood), there are two distinctly different shapes of coals: briquettes and lump charcoal.

Briquettes are what most of us use (and chances are, the brand most of us use begins with a K).  These are compacted into a square shape, and tend to burn with a fairly high ash rate.  Ash isn't exactly preferable, but the long burn time from briquettes is what makes them popular.  They are also generally less expensive than lump chacoal.

Charcoal briquettes are, however, made with additives, not only wood.  Some of these additives do not burn as easily as the bulk of the coals, therefore contributing no heat.  For some of us, this is fine, as serious barbecuers aren't necessarily looking for high heat.

For serious barbecuing, avoid the "quick light" charcoal briquettes.  These burn way too quickly.  Barbecuing is not a fast paced hobby, so allow yourself time to light real coals.

Lump coals tend to be a bit more expensive, and they look much more rough and rustic.  Lump coals literally look like burnt chunks of wood, and leave enough black on your hands that you could draw a mural with them.  They tend to burn hotter and cleaner, allowing a more pure flavor to be infused in your barbecue from your wood chips or chunks rather than from the coals themselves.

These coals are also more expensive than briquettes, depending on the brand.  The problem with buying cheap brands is that some types of lump coals, while they burn hot, burn fast and die out quickly.  It is best to seek out lump coals that are thick, but not too thick... if each chunk is about half the size of your fist, you're probably in business.  Still, this is no guarantee.  Try different brands and see what you like.

What are your experiences with briquettes vs. lump charcoal?  Got a preference?  Let us know your thoughts.  Send inquiries or comments to  We'd also love to see your recipes, pictures, and other barbecuing tips.

(Photos licensed by Creative Commons)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Make Spicy Mustard At Home

If you really like good hot mustard, you can save a lot of money by making it at home.  Mustard is an awesome compliment with barbecue, whether using it for a marinade, making mustard-based cole slaw, or topping a brisket sandwich with it.

You "need" two ingredients: mustard flour and water.  Or vinegar.  Or both.  You can literally just put mustard flour in a bowl, and slowly mix in water until it becomes the right consistency for you.  You'll end up with a hot, yellow mustard.

Mustard heat and flavor needs several hours to "open up," so I would always recommend making it a day ahead of time.

Mustard flour and mustard seed need not come into contact with actual heat.  Don't mix with hot water.  If you do, the spiciness will be toned down.  We're pretty sure that's what they do to make commercial yellow mustard.  We're also pretty sure that you wouldn't be reading this if you wanted that.

Okay, so you want to personalize your mustard a bit.  I'm the same way.  Try purchasing whole mustard seeds... perhaps a mixture of yellow and black. 

Grind these up in a coffee grinder, fairly finely even if you want coarse, grainy mustard.  You'll be surprised how grainy it will still end up.  Mix these with some salt and a dash of one of your favorite spices.  Turmeric is commonly used in mustard.

Mix your ground concoction with vinegar; preferably a lighter colored vinegar such as white wine, rice wine, or champagne vinegar.  Keep slowly adding until reaching a spreadable consistency.

Here's the tricky part... add a bit of water right AFTER the consistency seems perfect.  It should end up slightly thinner than you want.  Overnight, the mustard seeds and spices will soak up a lot of moisture.  You might even add a bit more water or vinegar the next day.

Some say you need to soak whole mustard seeds overnight before processing, but we at Sizzle Grove don't really see the point as long as we give the mustard time to set over night.  If your mustard seems too grainy, or the texture is off... wait another day.

5 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
2 tbsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed fenugreek leaves (or 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek seeds)
pinch turmeric
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp cider vinegar

1. Grind mustard seeds and peppercorns in a coffee grinder until mostly fine, but slightly coarse.

2. Mix with other spices in a bowl.

3. Add vinegar, mix.

4. Add water until slightly thinner than desired.

5. Place in a jar, store for a night or two.

**Try using this combination of spices, along with some brown sugar, for your next dry rub on a brisket or lamb roast.  Barbecue until tender and juicy, basting every hour, and slice thinly.  Let meat rest when fully cooked, then slice thinly.  Serve with sliced bread and curry mustard.

Monday, August 16, 2010

India Pale Ale + Barbecue

I still remember the first time I tried drinking an India pale ale, or "IPA."  At my favorite local beer bar, I asked the bartender if I could try a sample of Boulder Brewing Company's "Mojo IPA."  After one sip, I thought "JESUS CHRIST, that's too strong!"  So, I drank a different beer.  Then, for reasons beyond my explanation, I wanted to order a glass of Mojo IPA.

Something about the flavor of hops is enticing and enchanting.  Hops are indeed bitter little monkeys, but they impart citrusy, floral, piney, and earthy flavors, depending on the variety and how much are used in a batch of beer.  Americna IPAs happen to be the hoppiest of all beers, and their intense bite and sharpness makes them a perfect pairing for barbecue.

An India pale ale melds perfectly with spicier varieties of barbecue.  A beer such as Bear Republic's zesty, brownish colored "Hop Rod Rye" would pair beautifully with Texas-style salt and pepper beef barbecue.  Go nuts with the pepper, add a dash of hot sauce, and you've got a great pairing.  Smuttynose "Finestkind" IPA, a particularly bitter unfiltered ale with a distinct grapefruit-ish flavor, could stand up to tangy, peppery Carolina pork barbecue.

Then, there's the big, badass cousin of the IPA... the DOUBLE IPALet's say you're a "best of all worlds" barbecue person... you like your ribs with a spicy, generous dry rub, but you also like a Kansas City-style sweet, tangy, honey or molasses-infused sauce.  Buy yourself a four-pack of Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, the bigger brother of their standard 60 Minute IPA.  The beer's bitterness and high alcohol level (9% ABV) is offset by pineappley, honey-like flavors.  This might also be a great beer for making beerbecue sauce (and yes, you can expect a recipe on Sizzle Grove in the near future).

Are you man enough to handle the hops?  Or woman enough?  Tell us about your favorite IPA.  And as always, if you need advice about more kinds of beer to serve with your barbecue, just ask us!  Inquiries may be sent to 

(Photo licensed by Creative Commons)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Memphis Dry Rub

The iconic Charles Vergos' Rendezvous restaurant in Tennessee built the foundation for Memphis style barbecue.  Along with Texas, this style of barbecue is all about not being all about sauce.

Charcoal cooked ribs at Rendezvous are famously slow cooked until tender, mopped with a thin, vinegary baste, then sprinkled with an extra dose of their signature, Greek-inspired dry rub.  Herbs are rarely used in American barbecue rubs, but no one told Charles Vergos when he first started selling ribs out of his restaurant.  Mr. Vergos used the spices he knew best, including generous amounts of garlic and oregano.

Sizzle Grove pays homage to Mr. Vergos with our own Memphis style dry rub.  Next time you make ribs, start with this rub as usual, cook as usual, baste at the end, and then apply a generous dusting at the end of cooking.  Since our version has ten ingredients, we broke it down into approximate percentages for you.  How convenient, no stupid measuring spoons.

10% Garlic powder
10% Oregano
10% Chili powder (standard American style, which is a blend of spices)
10% Black pepper
20% Kosher salt
20% Paprika
5% Onion powder
5% Ground mustard
5% Cumin
5% Coriander

(Photo by Charles Vergos' Rendezvous)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

BBQ IN REVIEW: Dinosaur Barbecue in Harlem, NY

Barbecue can really be an unpredictable cuisine.  Keeping a constant temperature and proper flow of wood smoke is not easy, nor is it easy to constantly have enough food ready coming hot out of the smoker when there are hundreds of hungry customers a day.

When I saw mixed reviews online about Dinosaur Barbecue in Harlem, NY (there are also Syracuse and Rochester locations), I thought to myself "maybe they have good days and bad days."  Or, maybe some reviewers who don't know barbecue were more interested in sweet barbecue sauce rather than well smoked meat.  Well, I still can't tell you if these are accurate assumptions, but I can tell you this... I went on a good day.

A group of us made reservations for a friend's bachelor party, which was smart due to how intensely busy Dinosaur BBQ became after 7pm.  Being six of us, we decided to order one of the family-sized meals, which came with ribs, brisket, pork, chicken, cornbread, and sides... plus one more 1-2 person sized meal.  In retrospect, with the addition of about four pitchers of heavy beer, we might have gone a little nuts.

Dinosaur's meats are generally served without sauce on them, or with sauce added post-cooking, which is the accepted way to do things in the world of barbecue.

Ribs were St. Louis style spares, a bit mild on spice and dry rub flavor, but with an intensely pronounced smoke ring.  The end ribs were pink to the bone from smoke, which was insanely delicious.  The chicken's skin, well spiced and lightly blackened, stuck well to the meat, and was juicy and full of charcoaly barbecuey flavor.  Pulled pork was served on the side of the plate, rather than as sandwiches, and had a noticeable smoke flavor and a drizzling of their vinegary, spicy, tomato-based sauce.  Dinosaur's crowning achievement very well may have been the brisket, which was smoked perfectly, cooked until moist, generously spiced, and any fat was literally melting away as we bit into it.

We were also phenomenally impressed by Dinosaur's side dishes.  Macaroni and cheese had a real sharp cheddary bite to it, sprinkled with what seemed to be a dash of cayenne and some paprika.  Our waitress recommended we try the salted potatoes, which were a huge hit at the table.  She made a good choice.  The beer selection was above average, including favorites such as Stone's Arrogant Bastard Ale and local kolsch from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company.

So, to the reviewers out there who gave one or two stars to Dinosaur: I'm sorry to hear that your visit was not as good as mine.  However, maybe those of you self-proclaimed aficionados who make statements about how "You need a good original sauce to start with if you're opening a BBQ restaurant" need to check your standards... because no, you absolutely don't know barbecue.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Sour Ale + Barbecue

Scouting out superb suds to serve with your smoked meats can be an overwhelming task.  With the incredible rainbow of beers that craft breweries offer all over the world, how can you pick just one or two?

Well, if you have a little bit of cash to spend, sour ales might be your friend.  You might be wondering what sour ale is.  Sounds a little off-putting?  Some of the most complex ales on earth are sour ales, such as Flemish ales, "wild ales," unblended lambics, and lambics blended with fruit.  A majority of their flavor generally comes from wild yeast as a result of spontaneous fermentation.  And yes, they are mouth-puckering and tangy, which makes them the perfect compliment to barbecue with a tangy, sweet sauce, or to the vinegar-basted barbecue of Tennessee and South Carolina.

Many of you have probably seen Lindemann's Framboise around your liquor stores.  This is a raspberry lambic, which is considerably less sour than many other lambics, but possibly the most readily available of the style.  It tastes more like raspberries than raspberries do and has a high price tag, but this is typical of most lambics and other similar styles.  Some consider it the quintessential gateway "girl beer" due to its fruity flavor, red color, and pink foamy head, but it's a valid compliment for any thickly sweet-sauced barbecue.

Petrus is another Belgian brewery whose beers tend to be brewed on the sour side.  These ales are also fairly easy to find in a reputable liquor store or beer store, and generally won't break your wallet as badly as many other similar beers. However, if you want to explore beyond the most mainstream, there's plenty more to look at.

Unblended lambics, such as Cantillon Vigneronne, do not have fruit in them.  They are straight up wild yeast ales, generally brewed with a certain percentage of wheat malt for complexity.  Flavors range from vinous to briney to cider-like to lemony and beyond.  Beers such as these would be a perfect compliment to Carolina style pork barbecue.  Many unblended lambics, such as geuzes, take years to make, as breweries like to brew one batch, age it for a year or two, then blend it with a younger batch.

Flemish ales are among the most complex beers on planet earth, hailing from the Flanders region of Belgium.  Generally, there are two "colors" of these ales; usually we see the red ones, but beers labeled "oud bruin" (or "old brown") are generally in the Flemish ale category as well.  One of our favorites at Sizzle Grove is called Duchesse de Bourgnone.  This crimson red ale is lightly sour and vinous, subdued by a distinctly sweet vanilla + oak + brown sugar flavor.

Most sour ales are not overwhelmingly high in alcohol, so you won't have to worry about your friends driving home after doing a beer and barbecue day.  If you really want to share them, that is.

Photo licensed by Creative Commons

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BBQ BASICS: Barbecue "Don'ts"

Dudes standing over a grill burning meat: a paragon image of 20th-21st century Americana. Maybe we can change that a little bit.

There are a lot of common mistakes in barbecuing (including knowing what "barbecue" is), and possibly even more in standard grilling, due to the respective higher heat. Avoid these errors to improve your outside cooking skills:

1. DON'T slather meat in barbecue sauce before grilling or barbecuing. It will all burn off while your ribs or chicken slowly cooks.
**DO apply a dry rub before cooking, and DO apply a sauce during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, or simply serve sauce on the side.

2. DON'T carve all the fat away from your meat. This might work fine for fast grilling, but for barbecuing, the slow cooking process allows rendered fat to baste the meat to prevent it from drying out.
**DO score the fatty pieces with a knife and cook "fat side up." Later in the cooking process, when you're almost done, you can cook fat side down to allow the remaining fat to melt away onto the coals.

3. DON'T just use one pair of tongs, unless you go inside and thoroughly wash them before your final use with them. It's unsanitary to touch tongs with raw meat and then use them to handle the finished product.
**DO keep raw meat tongs and cooked meat tongs. Additionally, in a restaurant setting, you'll want different tongs for different types of meat, but at home this is not such a big deal.

4. DON'T keep the grill open for large cuts of meat. Everything will dry out.
**DO close the grill for meat that takes more than 10 or 15 minutes to cook. When grilling sausages or brats or steaks at a high heat, you can leave the grill open if you prefer.

5. DON'T pour your coals into your coal pan before they're well lit enough, especially if you lit them with the aid of lighter fluid.  For one thing, they won't be hot enough, and for another thing, they'll be toxic.
**DO allow the coals in your charcoal chimney to light all the way to the top, until the flame dies down and the coals are all white, THEN pour them into your coal pan.

6. DON'T be stingy with the amount of coals you use just because you're doing low temperature cooking.  You'll be surprised how fast the coals will go out.
**DO use plenty of coals in order to keep the heat going for a long time, but keep a distance between the coals and the meat to allow lower temperature barbecuing.  If you don't have the capability to keep a distance between the coals and the meat, pour the coals to one side of the charcoal pan and keep the meat on the opposite side of the heat source when placing onto the grill grates.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chinese-Style Barbecue Sauce

Just as we promised... the delicious way to finish off your spare ribs.

2 tbsp Soy sauce
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp Honey
3 tbsp Rice wine vinegar
1 tsp White pepper
2 small cloves Garlic
1/2 cup Ketchup
1 tsp Peanut oil

1. Crush garlic and simmer in a saucepan with peanut oil, on medium heat, until lightly browned.

2. Add soy sauce, vinegar, hoisin sauce, and ketchup, then add honey and white pepper. Let simmer on low for about five minutes.

3. Apply to spare ribs, or other meat, during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking. Serve any extra sauce on the side for dipping.

Remember, applying sauce at the end of barbecuing keeps the flavor rich and prevents the sauce from burning off during cooking.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Chinese-Style Dry Rub

Chinese spare ribs.  Classic.  Smoked Chinese spare ribs.  Classic Plus.

It's great to keep various jars of dry rubs on hand for making barbecue, especially when you make barbecue unexpectedly.  I know I do it.  Here's an awesome spice rub showcasing some of the great the flavors of Asian cuisine. (Yields about 6 tablespoons of dry rub)

What to mix:
1 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp White pepper
0.5 tsp Black pepper
1 tbsp Garlic powder
0.5 tbsp Onion powder
2 tsp Asian-style red pepper (available online, or use paprika)
1 tsp Ginger powder
1 tsp Mustard powder
2 tsp white sugar

How to use it:
1. Mix all ingredients together in a jar.
2. Brush ribs, or other meat, lightly with rice wine vinegar.
3. Sprinkle generously with Asian-style rub, and get yo' grill on.

NEED A SAUCE TO COMPLIMENT THIS DRY RUB? Try Sizzle Grove's Chinese-Style Barbecue Sauce!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Coffee Rub

You've seen it in several previous posts: Sizzle Grove's favorite dry rub ingredient for large chunks of meat, particularly brisket or other large beef roasts.  We're coffee addicts. Here's a convenient recipe for coffee spice rub:

1.5 tsp Ground coffee
4 tbsp Brown sugar
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Black pepper
0.5 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Onion powder
1 tsp Garlic powder
Pinch Cayenne or hot pure chili powder
1 tsp Smoked paprika

In case you need some inspiration... try this rub on a smoked roast beef!  Just apply rub on a beef roast, cook for about 45 minutes a pound at 225 Fahrenheit (for medium-rare), turning at even intervals, and baste every hour with a mix of 75% balsamic vinegar to 25% olive oil, plus crushed garlic and a dash of coffee.

Raw + dry rub:
Pictured on left
                            Fully cooked:
                            Pictured on right

BBQ LEFTOVERS: Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Sometimes your friends won't show up to your barbecue. What the hell is wrong with them? Morons. Oh well, so you've got some leftover pulled pork from the 8 pound shoulder you barbecued yesterday. So you're out of cole slaw. So you're out of rolls. You can still make an awesome meal.

Enchiladas are one of the BEST things to make with leftover barbecue, particularly pulled pork or smokey brisket. 

Here's what you need:

*Leftover pulled pork
*Shredded cheddar cheese
*Grated pecorino romano, or other salty hard cheese
*Soft corn tortillas
*A shallow baking pan
*Plenty of Peppery Tomato Barbecue Sauce

Here's what you do:

1. As many enchiladas as you wish to make, take that number of tortillas and put them on a microwaveable dish. Put a dab of water around the dish and microwave for about 30 seconds. This will soften the tortillas.

2. Spread a very thin layer of Peppery Tomato Barbecue Sauce around the bottom of your baking dish.

3. Take a small amount of pulled pork and a small amount of pecorino romano cheese and fill each tortilla... the amount varies based on the size of your tortillas, but make it just enough that you can roll up each tortilla around the filling.

4. After filling each tortilla, place in baking dish lined with small amount of sauce.

5. Pour a generous amount of sauce over all the enchiladas, enough that they're not drenched, but are thoroughly sauced. Sprinkle generously with cheddar, to your liking.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for only about 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbling. Serve with crispy onion rings or Mexican beans and rice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Peppery Tomato Barbecue Sauce

Some barbecue sauces are thick, dark, and sweet, some are thin, orange, and spicy, and there's really a whole wealth of flavors, colors, and consistencies in between. Here's a peppery, red sauce barbecue sauce that's not too thick or too thin. Using some tomato sauce instead of all ketchup also makes it somewhat more healthy, or at least less unhealthy.

1. One 14-16 ounce can tomato sauce (the plain, thin kind - not pasta sauce!)
2. 1/2 cup ketchup
3. 2 tablespoons brown mustard, such as Kosciusko's
4. 1/4 cup white vinegar
5. 1/4 cup cider vinegar
6. 2 tbsp brown sugar
7. 2 tablespoons honey
8. 1 tablespoon pepper
9. 1 teaspoon onion powder
10. 1 teaspoon garlic powder
11. 1/2 teaspoon cumin
12. 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon for daring folks)

1. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, start simmering wet ingredients (tomato sauce, ketchup, vinegars) except honey.
2. Begin adding in spices and honey, stirring frequently.
3. Simmer until bubbling, then turn heat off.
4. Let cool a bit, then store in a jar or squeeze container.

This makes a delicious enchilada sauce for pulled pork enchiladas!

Friday, August 6, 2010

BBQ BASICS: Tips to Prevent Barbecue From Drying

The long cooking time required for barbecue leaves us with a bit of a risk of having our glorious, labor intensive dinner from drying out... especially if you're attempting to tackle a big old brisket. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to keep this from happening.

Just follow one or more of The Three B's: BASTE, BRINE, AND BACON.

Basting, as you've read in previous posts, makes use of a thin, generally acidic "mop sauce" applied to the meat while cooking. Most bastes in barbecue use a lot of vinegar. This accomplishes two feats: one, adding a tangy flavor, and two, helping keep the meat moist. The acidic environment opens pores in the meat, allowing moisture to seep in.

A simple baste could be as minimal as one part water to about two parts vinegar. Try using a couple different kinds of vinegars for unique flavor, or try mixing in coffee, mustard, or hot sauce. For lower fat meats, mix some extra virgin olive oil into your baste, or butter if you want to make a REALLY savory beef roast.

We at Sizzle Grove believe in always basting back ribs, but not necessarily doing so for spare ribs.

Brining is something you're familiar with if you've read our article on cooking pork shoulder. What's great about brining is that it introduces flavor and moisture into very large cuts of meat, when spice rubs and bastes might not be able to penetrate through to the center. The acids help break the meat down, allowing fat and collagen to literally baste the meat internally. In addition to pork shoulder, whole turkey is a particularly great candidate for brining.

Brines aren't as complicated as people seem to think. They're essentially glorified marinades, with copious levels of salt. Just simmer a few cups of water (enough to cover the meat in a container), three parts salt to one part sugar, and maybe some vinegar or another acidic liquid. The exact amount of salt might sound a bit copious, generally about a cup of salt to a gallon of water. Keep in mind, some of this salt penetrates the meat, but most of it remains in the brine which is drained before cooking.

Again, we think coffee is a great adjunct for a brine. Even a strong black tea could introduce a unique flavor. Brine your meat for 24-48 hours.

Mmmmm, bacon. We love bacon. One of the great things about smokey barbecue is, quite frankly, the bacony flavor that hickory and other hard wood smoke infuses into meats. Bacon can also be used to prevent barbecue from drying.

Simply draping a few strips of bacon over a piece of meat while it's on your smoker may help keep it from drying out. This may be particularly effective when cooking flat cut brisket, which still requires a bit of time but has a significantly lower fat content than large, commercial brisket roasts. Fat is necessary for long cooking in order to promote moisture, and bacon adds both fat and flavor. Sweet, sweet, bacony flavor.

Next time you fire up your 'cue to make some pulled pork or smokey brisket, try one of these methods to keep everything juicy and awesome. Don't forget to tell us how it came out.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Our poll has closed, and 66% of Sizzle Grove's readers said that they would like to see more spice rub, marinade, and sauce recipes. Expect plenty more and tell all of your friends to check out our site!

Thanks for playing!

BBQ BASICS: Barbecue Lingo

Some of you folks browsing through barbecue blogs might have questions like "what the hell do they mean by bark and Boston butt?" Like all hobbies, there is a lot of lingo in the barbecue world. Here's a convenient run-down:

Babyback ribs / Back ribs:
The smaller ribs taken from "high on the hog" - a.k.a. between the chest and spine, rather than around the belly.

Barbecue sauce:
A type of sauce, often tomato-based, applied to barbecue which varies greatly by region. Ranges from thin, vinegary, and spicy to thick, dark, and sweet. Some regions prefer mustard-based barbecue sauces.

Cooking over flames, indirectly and at a low temperature, with the addition of smoke from hard woods.

Bark: A crust, often heavily spiced, that forms on the outside of barbecued meat.

Baste: A liquid, often made with acids such as vinegar and sometimes made with fats such as olive oil, applied to meat during the cooking process in order to prevent drying and infuse extra flavor.

Boston butt / Pork shoulder / Pork butt: A type of large cut of pork which is well-marbled and high in fat, used often for barbecued pulled pork or chopped pork. Often contains shoulder blade bone.

A type of marinade with a high acid level and often a fairly high sugar content. Helps break down meat before cooking, and may be used for curing outside of the barbecue realm.

A beef cut with a high fat and collagen content, from right below the neck of a cow (below the chuck cut). Requires long cooking time in order to prevent from being too tough. Never, ever, ever served rare, but still delicious.

Carolina barbecue:
A type of barbecue generally hailing from South Carolina, often showcasing whole hog barbecue, pork shoulder, and spare ribs. Sauces are often thin, vinegary, spicy, and/or mustard-based, rather than thick and sweet.

Made from charred hard wood. Either sold as square shaped briquettes or as natural lump coals, this serves as the heat source for most barbecue.

Dry rub:
A mixture of salt, pepper, spices, and/or herbs applied to the surface of food.

Cooking over flames, with food close to the heat source and at a relatively high temperature, over either coals or with propane.

Hard wood: Wood from trees such as hickory, mesquite, oak, birch, or fruit trees, which may be used in barbecuing for a savory smoke flavor.

Kansas City barbecue: A style of barbecue popular in Missouri and Kansas, showcasing a wide spectrum of meats, particularly pork ribs. Generously applied, thick, sweet sauces made with tomato ketchup and molasses are most common.

Lump charcoal:
A type of charcoal which is not processed and formed into briquettes, but rather sold as raw charred wood chunks. Generally cleaner burning than briquettes and with a lower ash level.

Marinade: A mixture of liquid and/or dry spices applied to food for a specific period of time, often hours or longer, in order to promote flavor penetration.

Memphis barbecue:
Another pork-centric barbecue hailing from Tennessee, often featuring generously coated dry spices adhered by vinegary mop sauce in place of thick barbecue sauce.

Mop sauce: A baste or thin sauce applied during cooking, traditionally with a small mop.

Pulled pork (or chopped pork):
Shredded or finely cut up barbecued pork, either from pork shoulder or whole hog barbecue, often served in sandwich form.

A type of wood and/or charcoal grill promoting high levels of smoke which are infused into barbecued food.

Spare ribs:
The very large, higher-fat ribs from around the belly or chest of a pig. Generally perceived as a tougher cut of meat, though may be tender and delicious if cooked properly.

Texas barbecue:
Often beef-based, particularly focusing on brisket, and generally simply spiced with salt and pepper. May be served with hot sauce as per the consumer's prerogative, though rarely served with any type of sweet barbecue sauce.

As always, we'd love to hear from you if you see something that you think ought to be on this list. Submit to

BBQ BASICS: What To Look For In A Smoker/Grill

Backyard smokers and grills come in a huge variety of designs and sizes. Most use charcoal, some are electric, and some homemade smokers are literally glorified trash cans with a hot plate and some wood chips - beware of doing this yourself, as the wrong type of metal trash can may release toxins into your cuisine.


1. Distance between grill grate and coals. Two to two and a half feet is optimal for slow barbecuing.

2. Ability to move the grill grate close or far away to the charcoal pan, or vice versa. This allows you to adjust the heat for slow barbecuing or fast charcoal grilling.

3. Ability to add more coals or wood. This, in most cases, will require moving the meat or the grill grate when the heat goes down. However, if you can get a smoker that allows you to add coals without moving stuff around.... sweet dude. Totally sweet.

4. Adjustable vents on the side. Such vents will allow or prevent oxygen flow. Opening these vents wider promotes oxygen flow, resulting in higher heat. Water smokers tend not to have this feature, but the door on the side of them may occasionally be opened for a few minutes if the heat is going down too low.

5. A temperature gauge. Some may indicate the exact temperature, while some brands have a gauge that says "Warm," "Ideal," and "Hot." If your smoker/grill has the latter, you may need to judge for yourself when food is fully done, or use a meat thermometer to obtain a specific temperature.


1. Barrel smokers appear as cylinder shaped receptacles, sometimes with a side compartment where the hot coals are placed. This design is great for allowing a chef to add more coals during cooking, promoting smoke flow, and slow cooking. Its one drawback is the fact that the heat source is all to one side. The resourceful chef, however, can make use of this by placing a thicker side of a piece of meat closer to the coal compartment.

2. Upright water smokers are perhaps the most common home smokers. They are tall, often with a rounded top, they contain a small grill, and they also include a water pan. This keeps the temperature down for slow smoking and additionally creates a steamy environment to prevent drying of food. Such a design is optimal for cooking turkeys and other large meats, however it may be difficult to keep your heat up and to create a pronounced "bark" on your barbecued meat.

3. Old fashioned, round, Weber-style charcoal grills are not to be overlooked. In our opinion, these are near perfect for barbecuing, and some of the fancier, stranger looking grills and smokers can't do as good of a job as these can. The difficulty is finding one large enough to promote low temperature cooking.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smokey Barbecued Buffalo Wings

Wings are one of the best things ever. Make these.

Package of about 25 chicken wing segments, rinsed

Teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder

1/4 stick butter or margarine
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons medium hot sauce, such as Frank's
1 teaspoon Sriracha (optional, for extra zing)
1 teaspoon honey

1. Melt butter and pour into a large bowl with other sauce ingredients.

2. Mix together and apply rub to chicken wings.

3. Fire up the smoker, with the grill grate closer to the coals to obtain a temperature of 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Cook wings for 45 minutes or until well browned, turning once halfway through. Internal temperature of wings should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Toss wings in sauce until evenly coated.

Though we're not always traditionalists, we at Sizzle Grove like to enjoy wings with celery sticks. It's healthy, it's crunchy, it's refreshing, why not. Serve with your favorite blue cheese dressing if you're into that sorta thing.

You know what goes great with these? A cool glass of NY-brewed imperial India pale ale.


The battle rages on... east coast vs. west coast...

No, we're not talking about gangsta rap. We're talking beer. A lot of American craft beer fans enjoy the citrusy, high-octane, mega-hopped ales of the west coast, but the east certainly has some incredible contributions to the beer world. One of our favorite up-and-coming breweries is Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Pleasantville, NY.

We've had several chances to visit this brewery and sample a variety of their beers, from their flagship pale and brown ales, to limited releases such as "Smoke From the Oak" aged porter and Cuvee de Castleton sour ale.

Being the hopheads we are, one of our favorites is their "Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA." Here's our review:

Translucent orangey color, pretty decent head. Big hop and fruit aroma. Huge apricot, pineapple, and grapefruit flavors. Some nice grassy hops too. Not overly sweet and malty and 'barleywine-ish' like a lot of DIPAs these days. Just the right sweetness, and a generous hop bitterness, but not tongue-biting.

$13.50 for a new growler, $10.50 for a refill

Overall score from Beer Advocate reviews: A-

Captain Lawrence Website

Try pairing this with some smokey barbecued buffalo chicken wings. Wait a minute, do we have a recipe for that???