All about Mesquite

July 1, 2011
by Curt

Growing up in Texas, the Mesquite tree is something I saw quite often.

According to Wikipedia, the mesquite tree is one of the most common trees of the southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. It is a member of the legume family of plants which includes peanuts, alfalfa, clover, and beans. Perfectly adapted for its dry environment, the mesquite is a hardy tree.

There are three types of mesquite tree that grow in this region. One is the honey mesquite, another is the screwbean mesquite, and finally there is the velvet mesquite. The honey mesquite gets its name from its fragrant flowers. The screwbean mesquite is so named because it has screw-like pods. The velvet mesquite has leaflets which feel velvety to the touch.

The honey mesquite can grow to 20 feet in height with a trunk that is a foot in diameter. Like the other mesquite species it has spines; they are 3 inches long and occur along the branches. The narrow leaves are pointed and are 2 to 3 inches long. The screwbean also can get as large as 20 feet. It has a 2-inch fruit that develops from its flowers that resembles the spiraling shape of a screw. The velvet mesquite is bigger than the other two, with a diameter that can reach 2 feet and growing to an average of 30 feet. It has 4-inch long spikes and an 8-inch fruit, like the honey mesquite does.

FACTS:
Mesquite is very dense. It is almost twice as hard as oak and more than twice as hard as walnut. It has a very strong flavor, and burns hot and fast. This is my personal favorite.

It’s excellent with beef, fish, chicken, and game.

My personal opinion; it’s especially good with beef!

Tip: When using Mesquite chunks, (fist sized), use a little less than you would when using a milder would like pecan or apple. That way you aren’t smoking for as long, and you won’t over-power the flavor of the meat. It won’t take long to impart the smoke flavor when using Mesquite!

Meat Doneness Temperature Guide

July 1, 2011
by Curt

Here is a chart for when to consider different meats to be fully, (or acceptably) cooked using an internal meat thermometer.

I personally tend to like meats completely done, but still juicy, so you’ll have to adjust these temperatures to your liking. But  I can tell you from my experience, using this chart gets you very close to perfectly cooked!

 

Type of Meat Smoking Temp Time to Complete Finished Temp
Brisket (Sliced) 225°F 1.5 hours/pound 180 degrees
Brisket (Pulled) 225°F 1.5 hours/pound 195 degrees
Beef Ribs 225°F 3 hours 175 degrees
Pork Butt (Sliced) 225°F 1.5 hours/pound 175 degrees
Pork Butt (Pulled) 225°F 1.5 hours/pound 190-205
Whole Chicken 250°F 4 hours 167 degrees
Chicken Thighs 250°F 1.5 hours 167 degrees
Chicken Quarters 250°F 3 hours 167 degrees
Whole Turkey 12# 240°F 6.5 hours 170 degrees
Turkey Leg 250°F 4 hours 165 degrees
Turkey Wings 225°F 2.5 hours 165 degrees
Meat Loaf 250 -300°F 3 hours 160 degrees
Meatballs (2 inch) 225°F 1 hour 165 degrees
Spare Ribs 225-240°F 6 hours 172 degrees
Baby Back Ribs 225-240°F 5 hours 168 degrees

Note: After posting this chart, I came across a much more thorough chart over at Amazing Ribs website. I am providing a link for you. I want to make sure that I have provided you with as much information as possible to help you succeed with your smoking and grilling events!

All about Cinnamon

June 30, 2011
by Curt

According to Wikipedia, Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus Cinnamomum that is used in both sweet and savory foods. Cinnamon trees are native to South East Asia. Typically harvested during the rainy season when pliable, and then dried into curls sold as sticks, (quills), or ground into a powder.

Tip: Cinnamon not only goes well with fruits and chocolate, but it also goes very well with poultry and lamb when injected, marinaded, or used in a brine.

A question that is often asked is whether to use cinnamon in stick or in ground form. I personally have found that ground form yields more cinnamon flavor, but you have to be careful to dissolve it as best as possible, as it can leave a residue, or can even clump.

Tip: One cinnamon stick yields 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

Ceylon cinnamon, using only the thin inner bark, has a finer, less dense, and more crumbly texture, and is considered to be less strong than cassia. Cassia has a much stronger (somewhat harsher) flavor than Ceylon cinnamon, is generally a medium to light reddish brown, hard and woody in texture, and thicker, as all of the layers of bark are used.

The best cinnamon is Ceylon cinnamon = canela = Sri Lanka cinnamon = true cinnamon.

cassia cinnamon = cassia = Chinese cinnamon = Chinese cassia = false cinnamon.

Most of the cinnamon that’s sold in America is cassia, which is cheaper and more bitter than the choice Ceylon cinnamon, and isn’t as well regarded.

 

Slow Smoked Corn on the Cob

June 30, 2011
by Curt

The best way to smoke corn on the cob is low and slow!  These roasted ears of corn are absolutely delicious!

Tip: Corn cooked on a smoker or grill is more chewy, in comparison to boiled corn, but the flavor is far superior in my opinion.

Slow Smoked Corn on the Cob

Ingredients:

  • 6 to 12 ears of corn with the husks still on
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon salt

Preparation:

Mix the onion powder, garlic powder, and salt together in a bowl.

Gently pull back the husks on each ear of corn, but be sure to leave them attached. Remove as much of the silk strands as possible. Place the ears in a large pan and fill with water to cover the corn, (and attached husks). Let sit for several hours.

Remove from water and dry the corn and husks with a clean towel. Brush the corn lightly with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with the spice mixture. Pull the husks back over the corn.

Prepare smoker. Once the temperature settles in at about 225° F, place the ears directly on the smoker. The ears of corn will need to smoke at 225 degrees F. for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the corn and eat ’em up!