Greetings from beautiful Hockley Valley!
There are only 3 things that can make a beautiful day outside in the country better and that’s Beer, BBQ, and family. Today my longtime friend and coworker Barry and I decided southern BBQ and beers was a great way to spend the day. Of course, when beers are involved my brother Zack and my mother Michelle could not resist stopping by for the occasion.
We started the day by cracking a few beers from local brewery Goodlot; then moved on to getting the Old barrel smoker ready to cook.
It’s best to start by putting cold lump charcoal in the bottom of the smoker, then add in the hot to bring the temperature up to between 275-300F. (a little high by a lot of other smoking standards, but these old drums are better used for a bit of a quicker smoke time).
Next the meat. Barry and I decided on beef chuck flat (like beef short ribs but without the bone) and some jerk chicken, -maybe not traditional Southern- but who doesn’t love jerk chicken?
The chicken was halved and marinated in jerk seasoning overnight, and the beef got a generous amount of kosher salt and black pepper.
With the temp cruising at between 275-300F, we are almost set to get the beef cooking.
I added 2 fist sized chunks of dry hickory wood (dry wood makes for a cleaner smoke), 1 cut up onion and a handful of fresh thyme leaves right on top of the hot charcoal, close the lid and wait for the first smoke to float away; the first bit smoke can be a harsh and leave an undesirable taste. Once the smoke becomes softer in colour, the beef gets put on fat side down, this helps render the fat.
The beef needs to cook for a few hours before the chicken goes on so guess what? It’s time for a few more beers and quality family time.
The thing about southern BBQ is it goes with whatever kind of beer you like. I personally like to keep it local and support our nearby breweries, but I’d be lying if I said a few Coors Banquet and Miller Highlife weren’t cracked today as well.
After the beef has cooked for 3 hours, it’s time to get the chicken going, we make sure the temp is closer to 300 so the chicken gets a nice crispy skin. Chicken goes on skin side up to start (I find that if you start with the skin down it tends to want to burn quickly). At the same time, I add an acorn squash -that has been cut in half and filled with butter maple syrup and salt- skin side down. The chicken will take about 25 minutes
I take the beef off and wrap tightly in butcher paper and put in a cooler to hang out (this really helps the meat get nice soft and tender).
Just in time, my Wife Audrey and 2 children Brooklynn and Brody pull in the driveway, hungry and ready to eat.
I dip the beef in BBQ sauce and set back on the grill for 5 minutes just to caramelize the sauce to the meat a little, cut the chicken up and serve.
All in all, a great day was had by all. Barry and I are already planning our next day of Beer, BBQ, and family fun.
-Written by Vantage Venues Executive Chef Kyle McClure