Stephen A. Fuqua (SAF) is a Bahá'í, programmer, and conservation and interfaith advocate in the DFW area of Texas.

July 4, 2007

Barbecuing/Smoking Tips

Since its the 4th of July, it seems appropriate to talk about one of America's favorite ways of celebrating its independence from King George: barbecuing. I didn't actually do that today, in fact I didn't even take the day off. I worked at home so that I can have next Monday off — July 9th is the commemoration of the Martyrdom of the Báb in 1850.

It was this past weekend, and I decided to buy some hickory chunks to set next to the charcoal in my little weber-style grill. I placed all the flamables on one side and a pan of water on the other side. This would be my first attempt at smoking peppers and meats.

I slathered canola oil all over the grill, something I don't normally do, in order to keep things from sticking. Well, I think I put too much. I noticed when I was done that the oil was coating the surface of the water, and I think that explained why my meats did not come out as moist as I expected. You see, the water is supposed to serve two functions — catch any dripping fat and keep the meats moist.

I had some fancy habeñero green chile (chicken) sausage and a few chicken cutlets from Whole Foods. The sausages weren't quite as good as I expected, they were actually better the first time I grilled them a month ago, sans smoking. The chicken was excellent but a little dry (I had marinated for a few hours in Rudy's Sause (sic) and rubbed in some salt).

I'm going a bit out of order, because first I roasted/smoked a slew of peppers for 30-40 minutes, including several colors of bell pepper, a jalapeñ, a cubanelle, and a poblano. Rushing myself a bit, I took them off earlier than intended so I could get the meat started. I think placed them in two tupperware containers to steam for a bit, in order to peel the skins off. Oh yeah, I also had a whole onion and several garlic cloves on a piece of foil.

Once peeled, the peppers were sliced (jalapeño, onion and garlic diced) and mixed together to make a delicious salad. Two mistakes though:

  1. Didn't leave the peppers on long enough, so most of their skins were very difficult to remove;
  2. Never put smoked fruit into tupperware! The smell is impossible to get out. Use a plastic bag instead.

Still, the meal was quite tasty, and complemented by a pot of just-right green beans (Texas style — with bacon and onion) and some oven-roasted potatoes (garnished with rosemary, salt, and olive oil). Topped that off with homemade cheese cake covered in a rasberry sauce from fresh-picked berries.

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to extract all the tips =).