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Smoke Barbeque
Barbeque has always been one of my favorite ways to prepare food. I remember, back when I was a kid, my dad had a little pile of bricks in the back yard stacked in a way to form a "U". It was only about 10 inches high. Across that "U" he put a simple flat grill. He had the burner from a hot water tank connected to a small bottle of propane. He would pile in the briquettes, put fire to them, and soon enough the barbeque was on!
When I was 19 years old, I worked with my brother Jerry at UCLA's steam plant. We would get off work at about 4:00 PM and head back to our teenie apartment on Gayley Ave right across from Dykstra Hall. We had a little junky-looking barbeque but that thing would cook a steak like nobody's business! Each of us would have a head of lettuce (salad) and a 7-bone chuck steak (49/lb back then from the local Von's supermarket!). That was living!
More recently, I have come to know barbeque as something new, something artistic, something unique to the cook the results from which rarely equal those from someone else. And I think that's the part I like most. I must admit my barbeques rarely taste the same from one meal to the next. I think that's because it is a combination of the food itself, the spices and rubs applied to the food, the wood used in the smoke barbeque process, the amount of time the food is cooked, whether the food is basted during cooking time, etc., etc., etc. Unless I do the same things with the same meats and the same woods, etc., it's going to taste different than last time. And I really like that. It's sort of like Christmas morning: you never know what you're going to get; but it's sure to be GREAT!
Below, I've listed some of my smoked meals because... well, I'm not sure really. I guess I'm just proud that I can cook this well, this easily, every single time.

This is my little smoker making magic.

Here is a full brisket at 2 hours in the smoker and I've just added some thick-cut bacon which will baste as it cooks.

Here is the same brisket at 7 hours. The bacon has smoked right along with the brisket and, when chopped up and added to the beans, makes some of the most flavorful seasoning you can use!

The brisket is now finished. It has a burnt look to it but I assure you it's not burnt! The flavor is enough to make you weak in the knees!

Chicken pieces cook a lot faster than a brisket but the flavor is a sure-fire winner. We have barbeques for our customers at the end of classes and the chicken has become legendary. People start asking us around week 3 (of a 6 week class), "When's the barbeque?"

Today is Memorial Day [May 26, 2008]. I got a leg of lamb out of the freezer yesterday and popped it in the smoker this morning. Four hours later, this is what we see. Succulent and juicy! Man! Just a beautiful chunk of lean meat with the flavor coming through! I used cherry wood chunks on this piece and it was beautiful!

Today is Sunday [June 1, 2008]. I have read about, heard about, and watched on TV all about how to smoke pork butts yet I have never tried it. Today was the day. I got two in a shrink package from Costco and I decided today was the day I was going to try my luck at smoking pork butts.
They turned out PERFECTLY! I am so happy! This is some of the best tasting meat I've ever had and it was so easy. I used apple wood mostly but I added just a bit of hickory for that stronger flavor I really love. This meat is so tender, it just falls apart in my hands. I didn't do everything right but I now know I can do it. I already look forward to the time when I can cook some pork butts for a crowd!

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