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Email Eric 







Let me put it very simply... when it comes to food, I love to grill or smoke outdoors on my patio!  I'm fortunate to have a covered patio, along with a charcoal and a propane grill, along with an "old school" charcoal and wood-fired smoker.  Between the three of them, I can enjoy lots of fun cookin' along with lots of good eatin'!

Photo:  It's about 09:30 in the morning, on Sunday, February 26, 2023, and I've fired up the smoker and I'll be on the patio for the next six hours, relaxing, and tending to the smoker.  Except for adding wood, the smoker prefers to be left alone, as every time you open the cooking chamber, heat escapes and additional time is added to the cooking.  

I prefer to smoke at around 225 degrees, which seems "just right" for my cooking methods.  I get the fire going using charcoal, but when the charcoal is lighted, I switch to locally-gathered oak wood, as it adds a lot of smoky flavor, and it's free for the "gathering" in western Placer County.

Such a great way to spend a rainy Sunday morning and afternoon in late February!

Photo:  Smoked cabbage, onion, jalapeņo peppers, with country style pork ribs and baked/smoked Russet potatoes.  All-in-all, I smoked all of these goodies about six hours, at an average temperature of 200 degrees, but due to the nature of using oak wood and charcoal, the temperature varied.

During my smoking, I always place a pan of water under the grill, where the smoke from the firebox enters the cooking chamber, as it adds moisture, which will keep the meat moist and tender, as when smoking, the meat tends to dry out.

Photo:  At mid afternoon, my meal is finished!  I opened up the smoker, and posed with today's dinner creation.  My smoker is as "old school" as it gets, as fuel is charcoal or wood, and it's a "seat-of-the-pants" decision when the meal is ready.

Photo:  The country style pork ribs smoked perfectly, thanks to oak wood and aluminum foil.  I can say the same about the potatoes, cabbage, white onion and jalapeņo peppers.

Photo:  After I'd made a roux using meat scrapings from the pan, butter and masa harina, I added meat drippings, and stirred for about a minute, and my gravy was finished.  I simply used salt and pepper for seasoning, as I like to keep things simple.

Photo:  Tonight's delicious dinner, smoked for six hours over locally-gathered oak wood, in my Oklahoma Joe's smoker.  Country style pork rib, potato, gravy from the meat drippings and cabbage... what more could you ask for?

I'm fortunate as oak wood - which is nearly identical to hickory - grows locally in Roseville, so all I have to do is to gather it, bring it home, and cut it to size for my grill or my smoker.  Since oak is hardwood, it makes for a hot fire, great flavor, and makes for perfect grilling or smoking!

I used "country style" pork ribs, which are one of my favorite cuts of meat.  I rubbed the ribs using Pappy's Seasoning - my go-to rub for almost everything - and marinated the ribs with Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce, to add flavor, and just a bit of "zest" to the meat.

Cabbage was cored and stuffed with crushed garlic, along with a half stick of salted butter.  During the smoking, the butter and garlic basted the cabbage, and in the end, made for a smooth, buttery flavor for the smoked cabbage, and the butter/garlic combination made the cabbage simply melt in my mouth.

I LOVE smoked Russet potatoes - my go-to potato for almost anything - so dinner included a smoked potato.  I diced part of a jalapeņo pepper, along with grilled white onion, and added a diced green onion for a "bonus."  The potato was covered with gravy, made from pork drippings.

Oh the gravy... can you enjoy a barbecue dinner without gravy?  

After I removed the pork from the cast iron frying pan, I drained the drippings from the pan into a bowl.  I added a tablespoon or so of butter, and placed the pan over medium heat on the range to get things going.  As the pan was heating, I scraped the burnt leftovers from the meat,  and mixed them with the gravy, as you DEFINITELY want any meat scrapings in the gravy!  When it was all melted, I added masa harina and stirred it all together to make a roux. When the roux was browned to my liking, I poured in the meat drippings that I'd reserved and in about a minute... I was in business, as I had gravy for tonight's dinner!

I seasoned my dinner with salt and pepper.  Oh my goodness!  I love barbecue, and a dinner, created outside on the patio, using my Oklahoma Joe's smoker!

Photo:  Tuesday afternoon, February 21, 2023, it was time to grill, but I felt too lazy to fire up the wood/charcoal grill, so I enjoyed the easy use of my Weber Spirit propane-fired grill to make tonight's dinner.

Photo:  Chicken breast, cabbage, red and yellow bell pepper, potatoes, white onion, along with a jalapeņo cook on my Weber Spirit propane-fired grill.  Note the smoke... I have a tick to get smoke from a propane grill... read on...

I wrap up chips of wood - oak chips in my case - inside aluminum foil, keeping a large opening, and tuck the foil packet between the "flavor bars" that are fed from the #1 burner.  I fire up the grill and get it hot - 400 degrees or so - before I place the food on the grill.  About this time, the wood chips will start to burn, so I spray the chips with a mist of water from a water bottle, which puts out the fire and results in smoke.

Photo:  Grilled chicken, cabbage, red and yellow bell pepper, white onion, jalapeņo pepper and potato made for tonight's dinner.  I marinated the chicken using Valentina's Mexican Hot Sauce and basted the chicken, along with the potato using Valentina.  For seasoning, I simply used salt and pepper.

Photo:  Saturday, January 28, 2023, it was time to fire up my Weber "Smoky Joe" grill, and do some serious grill on the patio tonight.  I use charcoal to get the fire started, but after the charcoal was going, I used oak wood all the way, for smoke and flavor.

Photo:  I started the potatoes and the pork ribs before everything else, as they take longer.  I seared the ribs and potatoes over direct heat, and moved them over to indirect heat to finish cooking.

Yes, the Weber "Smoky Joe" is a small grill - only 14 inches in diameter - but it's a perfect size for grilling for one or two persons.  Normally, including tonight, " set up half of the grill for direct heat, and the other half for indirect heat, so I can sear and bake at the same time.

The ribs were rubbed with Pappy's Seasoning and marinated using Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce.  The hot sauce is chili pepper based and doesn't have any sugar, and it won't burn or char over direct heat.  Searing the meat locks in the flavor, and makes the meat juicy and delicious.

Photo:  I kind of "searched the fridge" and threw whatever I found on the grill tonight.  As you can see, I found lots of Mexican cheese, so tonight's dinner was a "cheesy" as it gets...

I found a bell pepper and I stuffed it with leftover hamburger meat, corn, onion and garlic, with barbecue sauce to hold it all together.  Seasoned and marinated pork ribs, potato, and a jalapeņo pepper made the sides.  At the last minute I grabbed a couple of corn tortillas and added a little ground hamburger, Mexican cheese, diced green onion, along with Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce, to make a couple of tostadas for appetisers.

Photo:  Can you say "cheese?"  I cleaned out the refrigerator and threw together a very "cosmopolitan" meal - can you say varied? - dinner tonight on the oak wood-fired Weber "Smoky Joe" grill.

The "main dish" was pork ribs, rubbed with Pappy's Seasoning, marinated using Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce, and grilled to perfection.  Along with the ribs, the sides included potatoes, a grilled jalapeņo chili pepper, a stuffed bell pepper, and a couple of veggie/cheese tostadas using corn tortillas, which was "first" with me to create on my charcoal/wood-fired grill.  Diced green onion really made the tostatas stand out!

Photo:  It's mid afternoon on Friday, January 20, 2023, and I've loaded up the chimney starter with charcoal to get tonight's dinner started.  I love the cheery fire that warms up a chilly January afternoon!

Photo:  The grill is hot and seasoned, the oak wood is smoking, and I'm ready to begin grilling.

Photo:  As usual, I divide the grill between direct and indirect heat, which makes a perfect combination and technique for grilling over my "low tech" oak wood-fired Weber "Smoky Joe" grill.

Photo:  After I seared the chicken on both sides, I removed it from direct heat, brushed it with barbecue sauce, and placed it on indirect heat to finish cooking.  When you're using an "old school" wood-fired grill, direct and indirect grilling work to make for perfectly grilled meat.

Photo:  I'm a happy guy as I open up my grill to show the great meal that's taking shape.

Photo:  Chicken breasts, fresh ears or corn, potato along with a jalapeņo pepper have just been taken off the grill, and are ready to enjoy.

Photo:  Grilled chicken, rubbed and seasoned with Pappy's Seasoning, and near the end of the grilling, liberally basted with Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce, which is one of my favorite bbq sauces.  The delicious bbq sauce makes the delicate flavor of the chicken come alive with flavor, and adds a sweet/smoky "tang" to the delicious meat.  Oh yeah!

Along with the chicken, I enjoyed fresh corn, grilled potato, and a jalapeņo pepper, which is customary for every grilling session.  For the potato and corn the seasoning was simple, as I simply used salt and pepper.

Photo:  It's late Sunday afternoon, October 09, 2022, and I've fired up my Weber grill with oak wood, to enjoy a dinner highlighted by pork ribs.

For me, it's a pain to have to bend over to tend to this little grill, so I spent a little bit of time, and "tricked it out," so it works like a "poor man's" custom grill.  I built a wood table to elevate it to waist level, and attached hooks so I could hand all of my favorite grilling tools within easy reach... spatchula, grill scraper, tongs and a pair of handy pliers... which are a definite "must have" for me when I'm grilling.  The grill was placed in a custom made box, lined with a part of a metal oil drip pan, to catch most of the ashes, for easy clean-up, and to help keep the patio clean.

Photo:  The charcoal and oak wood is hot, the grill is oiled, seasoned and clean, and it's time to start grilling tonight's dinner.  Note that I've placed onion skins on the grill, which add to seasoning, and help to enhance the delicious aroma of the oak wood.  I learned the "onion trick" from attending the Nugget Rib Cook-off, held the first weekend of September, in Sparks, NV.

Photo:  Pork ribs, fresh ears of corn, squash, potato, onion and jalapeņo pepper have been seared over direct heat, and have now been moved over to indirect heat to bake and finish.

Photo:  I lift the lid from my Weber "Smoky Joe" grill to show the delicious ears of fresh corn, pork ribs, potato, onion and jalapeņo pepper that will be ready to enjoy for an amazing dinner, on this lovely early October evening in 2022.

Photo:  My dinner has finished cooking, and is ready to be removed from the grill.  I love  the fun and the method of "old school" grilling, using my "Smoky Joe" grill, along with the taste of the food after it's grilled over oak wood. It makes the perfect combination between grilling, fun and great food!

Photo:  Pork ribs, rubbed with Pappy's Seasoning and marinated with Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce made for the perfect "main dish" to tonight's dinner.  Grilled potato, corn, squash, along with grilled white onion and a jalapeņo pepper made the meal complete.

Pappy's Seasoning, which is produced "almost locally" in beautiful Fresno, is my go-to rub and seasoning for almost EVERYTHING! Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce works great as a marinade, as it adds a little spice and "kick" to almost anything, and it's perfect for the grill, as there is no sugar, so it doesn't burn or char.  Another added bonus to Valentina:  No calories!

In my "foodie" opinion, food always tastes better when cooked outside, and cooking outdoors is a lot of fun!  I LOVE my Weber grills, and my Oklahoma Joe's smoker!  Good grilling, smoking and eating!

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