DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 2 — Q&A with Dave Blaikie

May 29th, 2012

Dave Blaikie is a meat smoking master...

Q & A with Dave Blaikie
(If you haven’t read the first part of this blog series you can at DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1)

Me: When did you build your smoker?

Dave: In 2009.

Me: How did you make it?

Dave: I made it out of a 55-gallon drum that used to be filled with vegetable oil. A man was selling them in his front yard and I had to get one. It was 15 bucks and I wedged it into the back seat of a Mazda Protege. Sheet metal that I found in a scrap pile and angle steel lengths make up the smoker box and stand. It took a week to cut and weld all the pieces in my garage. The design is based on a smoker my friend had.

Me: What are your favorite things to smoke?

Dave: Anything pork. Baby back ribs are my faves followed by the pork butt, and country-style ribs.

Me: Any advice for someone who’s never smoked meat before and is about to try?

Dave: Ask questions. For starters, get a good book because you have a lot to learn and you’re going to be sitting for a while. Don’t use lighter fluid, unless you like that taste in your food. Use a mixture of woods. I use oak or mesquite as a fuel wood and add any fruit wood that I can get my hands on. You can use all fruit wood if you want for both fuel and flavor as well. Apple wood is my favorite and if you can get your hands on some, do it.

Get the temperature in the smoker up to where you want it. You want to have a good fire going but want the smoke to be as light as you can get it. Don’t worry it’ll have a smoky flavoring without too much smoke. That’s about it. Every smoker is different and it takes time to understand the in’s and out’s of each one. Oh yeah, don’t rush it. This is all about kicking back with your friends, drinking and salivating over an aroma that can only be made from smoking meat.

Check out DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1

Dave and Tyler doing what smoking meat requires -- a lot of waiting...

Blaikie with friends with a rib in his hands. Eating smoked meat from the smoker that he built of course...

After learning from the master Tyler tried his hand at some smoked pork butt. It turned out really good.

Juicy and perfectly smoked pork butt.

DIY Meat Smoking Pt. 1

May 21st, 2012

Our friend Dave Blaikie built this smoker and we're storing it for him in our backyard. We are lucky.

Our friend Dave built the above barrel smoker a few years ago and we’ve gotten to eat all sorts of delicious things smoked in it. A little less than a year ago Dave needed someplace to store it and we’ve had it at our house ever since.

Late April Dave and his fiance Rachel came over and we celebrated their engagement by smoking an insane amount of meat for four people while splitting wood from our old apple tree that we cut down this winter. It was a really old tree — one arborist thought it was nearly as old as our 100+ year old house — and hollowed out as you’ll see in the photos. Although the wood is still drying it was the perfect combo because apple wood which is ideal for smoking meat.

That day with Dave and Rachel we smoked a five pound brisket, three pound pork butt, and a rack of pork and beef ribs. Don’t worry — in the end, we invited some other friends over to help us eat it all.

The Basics

We mortar and pestled herbs and spices and then dry-rubbed all of the meat with various combinations, adding brown sugar to some of the rubs and leaving it off of others. We got the smoker up to temperature (Dave says the sweet spot temperature-wise is 220-230) with mesquite, dried some apple wood while doing that, and then put all the meat into the smoker at 3:30pm to cook until about 8pm — 4.5 hours.

The hottest spot on the racks is of course right by the smoke chute. We put our meat in when it got to 200. Then as the meat smoked we occasionally rotated things and cracked the door if it got too hot — we tried to keep it between 220-230 — and added wood if the fire got low.

You don’t want too much smoke — just a bit. We put wood shavings in a small cast-iron skillet and had an apple wood fire with mesquite coals in the barbecue. Although we didn’t do it this time Dave usually adds vinegar and mustard to the meat toward the end to keep it moist. And if you don’t know this already you always want to remove the silvery membrane from ribs so that they cook properly.

Gartner's never fails -- brisket, pork spare ribs, pork butt and Dave brought beef ribs.

We gave all the cuts nice dry rubs and put them in the smoker when it was 200 and nicely, lightly smoking.

Masters of the meat -- Rachel, Dave and Tyler. And Rubin -- can't forget the white wolfie.

Splitting apple wood while the meat smoked. Apple wood is great for smoking meat and seafood.

Sweet spot.

Not much longer to go.

Carving time.

Brisket!

We climbed meat mountain and lived to tell the tale! So good.

Up next a Q&A with the meat master himself — Dave Blaikie!

Yard Fresh Pt. 12

May 23rd, 2011

Spanish rice and beans with basted egg and bacon.

Beet salad with lemon and olive oil and a salame cheddar sandwich.

Beet salad inspired by Evoe's with a creamy Dijon vinaigrette tossed with herbs from garden and green leaf.

Janie Hibler's Elk Pot Stew (with mince rather than stew meat) from her book Wild About Game made with elk that our neighbor hunted. Lots of cinnamon, ginger and chile. Mmmm.

Elk pot stew with rice and egg for breakfast the next morning.

Bacon chive and cream cheese scramble with potato hash.

Beet and nettle risotto tostada, kale with lemon and Zenner's red hot.

Yard Fresh Pt. 11
Yard Fresh Pt. 10
Yard Fresh Pt. 9
Yard Fresh Pt. 8
Yard Fresh Pt. 7
Yard Fresh Pt. 6
Yard Fresh Pt. 5
Yard Fresh Pt. 4
Yard Fresh Pt. 3
Yard Fresh Pt. 2
Yard Fresh Pt. 1

Happy Anniversary Blog: Two years and counting

February 22nd, 2011

It’s been two years since I started this blog as a sort of companion piece to my book Food Lover’s Guide to Portland. Since the beginning I’ve aimed to keep my posts short and sweet and informative for Portland food folks and visitors. I hope it’s been helpful.

This time last year I celebrated one year of blogging with a sort of year-in-review. It was a nice way to take stock so I’m doing it again for the two-year marker. Thanks for stopping by now and again. Thanks for chiming in now and again. Thanks to each and every one of you out there who celebrate our local food scene in Portland and beyond. Here are some blog highlights from the past year…

I started off February 2010 with our semi-annual Cincinnati chili feed. Can’t beat Gartner’s dogs, spicy Cincy chili and finely grated Tillamook cheddar…

Sometimes 3-ways are sloppy. Cincinnati chili 3-ways that is...

Portland International Film Festival followed shortly after. PIFF is my favorite local film fest and we always do PIFF + Pizza. Was going to giveaway some tickets here for this year’s now in its final week but unfortunately got too busy. Go to PIFF while you still can!

Cheese followed by egg...

I won an Excalibur Food Dehydrator and made my first batch of spicy beef jerky late March. It was amazing and I’ve made it many times since…

Thin sliced tri-tip ready to marinate and dry...

In May I had my first interview in The Sun Magazine with one of my favorite people — Sandor Ellix Katz

I never thought this day would come...

Several weeks later I had a kick-ass book launch party for Food Lover’s Guide to Portland the day it came out — July 1st, 2010…

The best celebration I could have hoped for. So much fun.

At the end of summer my boyfriend and I went on a magical 10-day sailing trip around the San Juan Islands and I blogged about our DIY galley cooking in three installments…

We have a stainless grill too but most of what we cooked on the boat happened here.

In the fall we put together a filled-to-the-gills second annual Portland Fermentation Festival at Ecotrust…

Biwa's rocking kimchi with big chunks of daikon and lots of fire.

Late December I got to press hard cider with our friend Nat and he gave me a carboy of the stuff to take home and ferment myself…

Nat sorting through one of the last Newtown Pippin apple bins.

And just in time for the new year I made miso for the first time. In a month or so I’ll be checking on it…

After mashing the soybeans you mix that with the brined koji...

THANKS FOR ANOTHER GREAT YEAR!

Eat, drink and be hairy!

Primal Cuts Comes to Portland Nov. 12th & 18th

November 11th, 2010

Judge this book by its cover. What's is even better...

I get a fair number of review copies in the mail and I have to say that Primal Cuts: Cooking with America’s Best Butchers is one of the more exciting ones. One reason I got a review copy is because of the 50 US butchers that Marissa Guggiana interviews in what her publisher Welcome Books calls “a modern meat bible” three are from Portland:

Ben Dyer of Laurelhurst Market
Jason Barwikowski of Olympic Provisions
&
Berlin Reed aka The Ethical Butcher

I wish I had a scale here at my studio because I’d weigh this meat tome. Oh wait, there’s the online oracle — ok so it’s an impressive three-plus pounds. This is a hefty book that costs a pretty penny and although I know you can get three-pounds of pork butt for significantly less — and then you can make Ben Dyer’s Little Smokies pickled in a hot vinegary brine on page 125 — the book is worth every penny.

Each butcher profiled introduces him or herself and then there are great, big photos of them with their meat (excuse me but it’s true) as well as recipes for everything from cinnamon oxtail stew (Gabriel Claycamp, formerly from The Swinery, WA) and pork belly confit (Olivia Sargeant, Farm 255, GA) to boudin (Donald Link, Cochon Butcher, LA) and venison jerky (Scott Leysath, The Sporting Chef, CA). In addition to recipes the books includes DIY for homemade sausage, bacon and dry cured meats as well as advice for kick-ass burgers, deboning a chicken and making stock.

It’s a fantastic book and I’m really looking forward to learning and cooking from it. Even though it’s a little over the top when pulled out of context I really like what Dario Cecchini says in the book’s introduction:

Here is the essence of our craft as butchers: a task crude and compassionate, strong yet delicate, always respectful toward the killed animal, with the ethical imperative of always using the meat in the best manner possible, knowing that, since the beginning of time, these animals were were given to mankind as a gift from God.

Saving the best for last, Primal Cuts is coming to Portland:

Friday, November 12, 7:30pm
Dinner with Marissa Guggiana, Jason Barwikowski, & Ben Dyer
Simpatica Catering & Dining Hall
828 Southeast Ash Street
Portland, OR 97214

The menu from Simpatica’s site:

Sliced Corned Veal Tongue and Fried Oxtail Roulade with Broken Sauce Gribiche, Grilled Toasts and Bitter Herb Salad

Turnip and Turnip Top Soup

Wood-Roasted Whole Cattail Creek Lamb with Chickpea and Viridian Farms Grilled Pepper Stew and Skordalia

Blood Orange Curd Crepes with Chantilly Cream

Price is $40 per person plus wine and gratuity. Dinner begins at 7:30pm. Please email Simpatica or call the kitchen at 503.235.1600 to make reservations.

And Thursday, November 18th:

Info. from the press release:

$20 PRESALE. $30 DOOR.
Buy your ticket today at theethicalbutcher@gmail.com
Thursday, November 18th 7-11pm
The Cleaners at Ace Hotel
403 SW 10th Avenue

***AFTER PARTY***
After you fill up on all that local meaty goodness and get dancing to the beats at The Cleaners you’ll want to keep going. Head down the street to Beauty Bar for Homo Deluxe/Primal Cuts After Party.

Beauty Bar

111 Southwest Ash Street, Portland