Tag Archive for ‘caribeque’

Hot and Fast Smoked Caribeque Chicken Sandwich

When I began my barbecue journey, Caribeque is the first brand with a line of rubs that I tried. The first time I smoked a pork butt all by myself, with the ‘training wheels off’, Caribeque Honey Heat was my go-to. Ever since, it has been my go-to. It was love at first bite. Despite ‘heat’ being in the name of the rub, it isn’t spicy. It isn’t a sweet rub, but it has a depth of flavor unlike anything else I’ve used for pork. It has a rich umami flavor (the only way I can describe it, so I urge you to try it for yourself) that stands out in the finished product, as it is savory and naturally lends itself to pork more than any other meat. It genuinely is one of the very few rubs that I will use on pork since it is that good.

Caribeque chicken sandwich featuring pepper jack cheese and dill pickle chips on a brioche bun

The finished product: a hot and fast smoked chicken sandwich with pepper jack cheese and pickles (an ode to Chick-Fil-A). Between the Caribeque Chicken Series rub and the cherry wood from the cook, this sandwich was over-the-top amazing and put Chick-Fil-A to shame if I do say so myself.

Kurt Halls, the man behind the Caribeque brand, released a new chicken rub in July 2018. That rub was aptly named, “Caribeque Signature Series Chicken Rub“. This is a full-fledged chicken rub that packs a flavorful punch to poultry. It has a zesty flavor that pumps up the flavor in your chicken whether you are grilling, barbecuing, baking or pan-frying.

When the rub was announced in the early going of the summer of 2018, I felt like a child waiting for Christmas day to arrive. I trust in Kurt’s mad scientist prowess when it comes to throwing together any kind of rub, because each of them from the Caribeque line of seasonings have been phenomenal. There is not a single muted flavor in any of them that fails to stand out. As it were, it stands to reason that I would be excited for the adventure that my taste buds were anticipating with the then-new chicken rub.

As soon as the new Caribeque chicken rub was available, I placed an order, and within a few days (Caribeque always sends its shipments quickly) I had it in my hands. I had a pack of chicken breasts sitting in the fridge, and when I arrived home from the post office, I needed try out the new rub immediately. I was drooling. I opened the lid of the bottle, removed the packaging to smell the rub and get a sense of what it would be, and the strong flavor enticed me more than I can convey. ‘Drooling’ is not a hyperbole in this case.

Barrel House Cooker smoking away

The preheating process of the Barrel House Cooker.

I fired up my Barrel House Cooker 18C with Royal Oak lump charcoal and a chunk of cherry wood, with the exhaust vent wide open, and proceeded to butterfly the chicken breasts by taking a sharp knife and slicing each breast down the middle. I could have pan-fried these breasts, but I wanted to hit them with some smoke. Chicken breasts are delicate, since they are so lean, and typically they do not lend themselves to barbecue, but if you cook them using high heat — in this case I quick-smoked them — then you can finish the chicken quickly, cooking it all the way through while still delivering juicy chicken onto your plate.

The temperature gauge on the lid of the cooker read 350 degrees, but the actual temperature in the cooker was probably close to 400 to 425 degrees as the grate is naturally closer to the hot coals than the lid.

Cracking the lid of the Barrel House Cooker

I sat the lid of the Barrel House Cooker on top of the base, but I left it open by ‘cracking’ the lid off-kilter to allow for more airflow in the cooker in order to reach high temperatures.

When I placed the chicken breasts onto the grate, I did not completely close the lid of the smoker. As you can see in the above photo, the lid is barely cracked, which allows more oxygen into the smoker and increases the temperature by yielding a more fierce burn from the fire produced by the coals and wood. The chicken breasts only took 20 minutes to complete, and I confirmed this by checking each breast with my food thermometer.

One could ask why I did not simply grill the chicken breasts, but the reason is simple: this drum smoker is capable of reaching high temperatures by using a couple of tricks (wide open exhaust vent, cracking the lid, using lump charcoal — which burns hotter than briquettes — and the patience to properly give the cooker a chance to adequately heat up).

Fully cooked chicken breasts featuring Caribeque Signature Series Chicken Rub

Check out the color on this chicken, not only provided by the Caribeque Signature Series Chicken Rub but also from the hot-and-fast smoke that was aided by the additional flavor of cherry wood.

A brief summary of the above, if you want to make this for yourself in a drum smoker (if you are using a different type of smoker, be sure to utilize the hot and fast smoking method by opening your exhaust and intake vents for maximum airflow to achieve high temperatures):

1.) Pre-heat your smoker using lump charcoal. You can use briquettes if you would like, but lump burns hotter. Add the coals into the charcoal base/basket of your smoker. Optional: add a chunk or two of your preferred smoking wood for extra flavor.

2.) While the smoker heats up, unless you are using pre-thin sliced chicken breasts, butterfly the chicken. This helps for quicker, even cooking so that the chicken does not dry out. Thoroughly season and rub both sides of the chicken with Caribeque Signature Series Chicken Rub.

3.) Once your smoker temperatures are at around 350 degree degrees, add the chicken. If you are using a drum smoker, crack the lid (see above). It won’t take very long to cook.

As for the construction of the sandwich, you can use whatever bread that you would like, but I used a brioche bun. I say that you can use whatever bread you prefer, but the bottom line is that the bread is the heart of any sandwich. I mean, who wants to eat a sandwich with soggy bread? Not this grizzled foodie.

Here is the way I constructed my sandwich. You are free to use any combination you would like, but I wanted mine to be in the spirit of a spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A, and my promise to you is that this is delicious:

— Brioche bun (toasted with butter spread on it)
— One thinly sliced chicken breast
— One slice of pepper jack cheese
— Four dill pickle chips

You are now ready for an unprecedented flavor journey that may incite irrational dancing on your behalf.

Kurt personally told me over the phone that his ultimate goal with his new Signature Series line with Caribeque is to go back to the basics. He expressed concern over how too many of these seasoning/rub companies are coming out with bizarre flavors that are kinda mucking up (my words here; paraphrasing) the cabinets of kitchens, and how he wants to go back to the basics. For example, if you want to season up your chicken with something, it’s a no-brainer to go with the new chicken rub, because it is tailor made for chicken.

When I spoke to Kurt from Caribeque over the phone in the summer of 2018, he expressed that his ultimate goal with the Caribeque Signature Series line of rubs is to go back to the basics. He emitted concerns over how too many seasoning and rub companies are coming out with bizarre flavors that don’t lend themselves all too well to a wide variety of grub (think of, say, blackberry chipotle java or something off the wall like that). His desire to go back to the basics is motivated by wanting to reach for a seasoning in the kitchen without having to place too much time in doing so — imagine if you are about to cook up some chicken; rather than slinging some kind of artsy blackberry chipotle java seasoning on it, you can reach for the signature series chicken rub and avoid second guessing yourself on whether or not your guests will like it, as the rub lends itself to chicken by not containing any ‘ostentatious’ flavors or a pretentious combination of notes that could repulse the taste buds of a guest.

One more tip about the chicken rub: I have added it to diced, fried potatoes as an experiment, and in that same ‘experiment’, I wound up cooking up several batches for five people. Over 10 lbs. of potatoes were gone in minutes. This rub is not only delicious on chicken, but it is perfect for fried potatoes. Since then, I have made French fries and sprinkled the chicken rub over top of them when they are fresh out of the fryer, and it is always well received by hungry guests.

Yes, I am biased when it comes to Caribeque. Not only is its founder a super nice guy and a good friend of mine, but everything featuring the Caribeque label has been off the charts. I would never spend my time championing the brand if I didn’t believe in the products.

Honey Heat Spare Ribs on the Barrel House Cooker

Ever since I got my hands on my first Barrel House Cooker in April 2018 and smoked a rack of ribs by hanging them for the first time, it has become my favorite way to cook pork ribs. In a drum smoker environment, when the lid is closed and the intake vents are set to achieve an inside temperature of anywhere from 275-325 degrees, without a water pan the juices and rendered fat from the meats you are smoking are going to drop onto the hot coals below, which causes a resulting vapor to rise and flavor the meat above, creating a beautiful cocktail of unique flavors you don’t get in other forms of smoking meats.

Don’t get me wrong — I still love my other two smokers, but the enhanced smokey flavor of using a drum cooker is unrivaled to me as far as maximum flavor is concerned. I like a deep, smoke flavor to penetrate my grub; others prefer a lighter smoke. It is all preference.

We experienced some major flooding in my hometown this past Thursday. Probably the worst flood I have ever seen in my life (at least around here). On Friday, it wound up snowing, and since I was paranoid about the power potentially going out, I decided to get out in the conditions and smoke a rack of spare ribs for supper.

Recipe & Instructions:
1.) Prior to firing up my Barrel House Cooker 14D, I removed the membrane from the undercarriage of the ribs and subsequently rubbed both sides of the rack of spare ribs with Caribeque Honey Heat Pork & Poultry Rub*.

2.) Filling the charcoal basket of the Barrel House Cooker to the top, I removed about 10 to 12 briquettes and added them to a small charcoal chimney and began a fire with a lighter cube. I used trusty ol’ Kingsford blue bag briquettes. I know that fancier, more expensive charcoal is becoming more popular online, but I have never had a single issue with Kingsford. I would rather spend the money on food to smoke than I would otherwise spend on more expensive charcoal.

3.) While waiting for the charcoal to fire up, I added three small chunks of hickory wood, two small chunks of apple wood and a couple of chips of cherry wood on top of the unlit charcoal in the basket of the cooker. This isn’t all that much wood, honestly, but it does provide the deep smokey flavor that I enjoy in my barbecue. I’m a lover of bold flavors. If you want less smoke, add less wood. Meanwhile, after 15 or so minutes, the charcoal in the chimney should be appearing to ash over in gray whiteness on the surface. This is when you should dump it into the base. I assembled the top part of the drum cooker, with the lid closed. Note: I left the intake vents wide open for about 30 minutes since it was around 18 degrees outside here.

4.) Applying a hook down after the first couple of bones in the rack of ribs, I added it to the hanger in the cooker and closed the lid while also adjusting the intake vent to where it was barely cracked open.

5.) I started this cook at around 11:52 a.m. and finished it up at roughly 4:20 p.m. I did not open the lid during the cooking process except for one time, which I’ll explain why in the following step. My temperature was rolling between 275 to 300 degrees.

6.) During the final 20-25 minutes of the cook, I opened my intake vents completely and removed the ribs onto a sheet pan, adding a liberal amount of BBQ Rook BBQ sauce* to the undercarriage and meaty top of the ribs, brushing the sauce all over the ribs. There is 20 grams of sugar in one serving of the BBQ Rook sauce, which is perfect, because I wanted that sugar to caramelize on the surface of the meat when I added it back into the pit.

7.) Remove ribs from the pit after 20-25 minutes, allow the rack to rest for five to ten minutes, cut ’em up and dig in!

8.) I served these ribs with Bush’s Southern Pit Barbecue beans. I prepared them in a pot on the stove, but here’s a fun trick: I doctored them up by frying two slices of bacon, cutting them into strips and adding the bacon and rendered fat from the cast iron skillet into the pot of beans. The beans are good by themselves, sure, but even better with bacon and the added fat.

*Full disclosure: I am not affiliated, in any way, with Caribeque or the mentioned rub, nor with BBQ Rook and the mentioned sauce. I use both the rub and the sauce because they are among my favorites for smoked grub, especially pork. Caribeque is one of the first seasonings/rubs I tried when I began my barbecue journey due to the recommendation of a good friend of mine who was avidly posting about it on social media. I’m just an advocate. I’m providing the links in case anybody reading this wants to get their hands on this goodness.

Building Connections and a Network on Social Media

My family occasionally likes to poke fun at me for posting food on social media (Facebook and Instagram), but I enjoy it. I’ve delved more into Instagram than I ever have in the last few months. Ever since I finally joined the smartphone foray, I’ve occasionally posted pictures of miscellaneous stuff like VPX Bang energy drinks on there. It’s an easy way to keep up to date with news of what’s going on with VPX products (particularly their Bang line).

Their cooking, grilling and barbecue community is pretty damn cool, though.

I’ve made quite a few connections with people in the ‘Q community on Instagram since May. It’s been a fun experience. While I’ve been practicing on my picture taking skills with food, I’ve had fun browsing others’ culinary creations.

Kurt Halls from Caribeque has been nothing short of spectacular towards me on Instagram, whether it’s reposting a couple of my photos or talking it up about his kickass products through DMs/comments. He’s even inquired about the VPX Bang energy drinks.

I just decided to try out a brand new rub, as of today: Reload Rub & Seasoning’s “Fully Loaded”. The company is based out of Knoxville, TN and they just released this brand new product today. I see on Instagram that quite a few folks received early versions to test it. There’s been unanimous praise. I like to support kickass people and kickass products, so I figured I’d do something quasi-kickass myself and get some.

I’ve enjoyed making these connections over on Instagram, because it’s genuine. I’m not following or liking people’s pages and posts in an attempt to bait them into liking my posts or following me. I appreciate what they have to share, and as a food fiend, it’s pure food porn.

It’s like one big family. But nobody argues. Everybody is celebrating the taste of delicious foods and the process of cooking them in whatever method it may be. That’s the kind of movement and community I can get behind.

Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick-Rubbed Chicken Wings (And More)

Kurt Halls from Caribeque is making magic happen with his seasonings and rubs. Even his smack sauce. I haven’t tried the buffalo barbecue sauce he released over the last year or so, but I eventually hope to.

I bought a 3-pack of the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning.

I’d never tried the Spicy Calypso Kick (nor the original Calypso Kick), but I bought the 3-pack on the merits of Caribeque alone. I love the Caribeque Honey Heat rub for pork and chicken as well as the Caribeque “Honey Heat” Smack Sauce that is incredible with just about anything (but with French fries or potato wedges is my favorite).

I gave one of the seasonings to my girlfriend Dana’s dad, the man who is responsible for giving us the Caribeque Honey Heat rub and Smack Sauce.

I was so eager to try out the Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick seasoning that I cut up three chicken breasts, liberally seasoned them with it and pan-fried them in my cast iron skillet with coconut oil. To my tastebuds, the seasoning isn’t very spicy; it’s more sweet than anything (even though it’s sugar free). I don’t know what kind of flavors are at play, but it has a delectable flavor profile that is generous to the tastebuds.

We made chicken tacos/burritos. I should’ve added some diced onions to mine, but I forgot (at the time) because I was so impatient, wanting to try this kickass seasoning! For some spice (I’m a spice fiend), I added Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa to the mix. What a great combination right there ~~ Mrs. Renfros habanero salsa and Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick. One company is based out of Texas (Mrs. Renfros) and the other is out of Florida (Caribeque), but they should collaborate on something!

Indoor cooking, using Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick: a success!

Firing up my STOK drum grill!

This past Thursday, I fired up my STOK drum grill!

I’d purchased a 14-ct family pack of chicken wings from Food Lion since they were a manager’s special item at about $7 bucks.

I’d planned for Thursday to be the day I’d do the grilled wings. You might think it’s blasphemy to grill wings instead of deep frying them, but who gives a shit? Good food is good food! I added some cherry wood to my coals for extra flavor.

I also cooked for my mother and my aunt. My mother despises chicken, so I grilled some burgers for them.

What happened was, I ended up being the only person eating the wings! That was fine by me. They turned out to be delicious. The cherrywood worked out perfectly with them. The Caribeque Spicy Calypso Kick gave it a nice flavor all over the skin. It was some fine bird eatin’.

I love Caribeque products. Kurt Halls knows what he’s doing. I’ll be doing another post about them soon.

Spareribs, Baby Backs, Pork Shoulder, Chicken Thighs, Mac’n’Cheese, Oh My!

I finally had the chance to smoke again on Tuesday. It was heavenly.

I received my Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks on Monday. I’m still undecided about it. I’ll write more about it in a future post.

I smoked two racks of spareribs, two racks of baby back ribs, a 4.5 lb. pork shoulder, bologna, chicken thighs, mac and cheese, corn on the cob and cabbage.

A couple of the pictures aren’t great, but I never claimed to be a professional photographer!

Uncle Yammy’s Memphis style chicken & rib seasoning was sprinkled liberally on all the racks of ribs except for one, which I used the KC Masterpiece habanero rub… dry rub that could have also doubled as a sauce if I would have mixed it with beer. I’m not much of a sauce guy, so I used it as a dry rub by default. It was OK… I’ll give it another shot. It tasted like the Lays barbecue potato chips, something I crave every now and again, and reminds me of summer school from my elementary school days.

Tony Chachere’s Creole was sprinkled on the bologna. So good. Don’t write off smoked bologna until you’ve tried it. It’s fantastic.

Garlic Jalapeno by Weber on the chicken thighs. I’m just about out of my favorite — Garlic Habanero — so I went with the jalapeno option. I may have slightly overcooked them, but they were still juicy and flavorful, so it wasn’t the biggest deal in the world.

I used Caribeque Honey Heat on the pork shoulder. I love that stuff. I ordered some Calypso Kick seasoning from Caribeque the other day, and I can’t wait to hot’n’fast smoke some wings seasoned with it on my Weber Smokey Mountain.

Nothing but salt and pepper on the corn on the cob (not pictured). It was a favorite.

I added butter and Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning to the cabbage.

The mac and cheese was pretty good, though that needs some experimentation in the future. I only left it in the smoker for a little over an hour.

It was a successful smoke, albeit I’m still learning the ins and outs of the Weber Smokey Mountain. It ate up my Royal Oak charcoal (briquettes) pretty quickly, but the guys over at TVWBB (The Virtual Weber Bulletin Board) said that I didn’t use enough charcoal to fill the ring completely, and to try a different variation of the Minion Method. Their points were noted.

I used applewood for this smoke.