Tag Archive for ‘food’

The Charcoal Chimney is the Number One, Most Essential Grilling Accessory

The Weber charcoal chimney on my STOK drum grill.

Outside of a top notch thermometer, invest in a Weber charcoal chimney.

A lot of people who switch to gas grilling say that one of the reasons why is because charcoal takes too darn long to heat up, and they don’t feel like investing so much time in the evening to lighting and waiting on charcoal to be ready.

Well, the charcoal chimney takes a 35-40 minute wait into a 10-15 minute wait.

I like to use old newspapers or old charcoal bag fodder to start my fires, but a lot of people don’t, because it does produce a ton of ash. Have no fear, because there’s another alternative that doesn’t produce ash:

I don’t know about your part of the country, but here in southwest Virginia, at Walmart you can get a pack of the Weber lighter cubes for $3. They are down from the original price of $3.92. I keep these around, because they kick ass. They are probably the best way to start your charcoal. Simply place two on your charcoal grate, light them up, place your charcoal chimney full of coals on top and they’ll ignite.

Don’t bother with any other brand for a charcoal chimney. The Weber one is the best. I’ve read negative reviews about the other one not having sufficient airflow or they’ll fall apart. This Weber charcoal chimney is damn sturdy. As the saying goes, “buy the best and only cry once”.

I might sound like I’m thumping the Weber company name, but really, they are a top notch grilling company. The customer service is fantastic, and I personally stand by their products. Like I said in a previous post, I only endorse what I believe in. If I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t endorse it! And no, I’m not getting paid to shout the company name! Believe me, I’d love to, but that isn’t the case.

The reason the Weber charcoal chimney is so damn efficient is due to the holes in the side that allow a maximum amount of oxygen to come through and feed the fire. Be sure to wear gloves and maybe some eye protection when you use the chimney. I didn’t use any gloves during my Father’s Day cook, but the handle was pretty damn hot. I did wear sunglasses, however, because I didn’t want ashes flying up into my eyes. Also, title the chimney sideways when you pour out the hot coals; you don’t want to turn it straight over, in front of you, or else the fire could come back up and be in your face.

Happy grillin’!

Sauces n Such by Ryan Lindquist Review

Ryan Lindquist has taken over 25 years of experience to develop his own signature products. His mission is to spread his product’s flavors to as many people as possible and to know that his products will put smiles on people’s faces. He believes that good food bring people together. I agree with that. To buy Ryan’s sauces, visit his website: Sauces n Such by Ryan.

Asides from the fact that I’m a.. a.. “foodie”.. (Damn, I hate that made-up word, but I do love food and experimenting with ingredients and trying new things) there’s another reason I wanted to give Ryan Lindquist’s products a chance. Recently I posted three sauces I’d purchased from Buffalo Wild Wings (mango habanero, spicy garlic and hot BBQ) and, although I love their wing sauces, I thought about how I’d rather spend money with small businesses, given that I enjoy the product (of course). I’ve done so in the past with Lucky Dog hot sauce (I still need to review their sauce) and Pex Peppers.

Left to right: Scorpion Juice, Wild West BBQ sauce and Sweet Venom Hot Sauce


Ryan has four sauces available (bolded are the ones I have): Scorpion JuiceSweet Venom Hot SauceWild West BBQ Sauce and 757 steak sauce. I don’t particularly care for sauce with my steak, as I just like the flavor of the meat with a pat of butter, although I’d be open to trying his steak sauce one of these days. My package of sauces also came with a bit of his homemade “12 finger rub” that I ended up trying out on some steak.

I have yet to try the barbecue sauce. I’m waiting until I get a chance to smoke some baby back ribs that I have in my freezer. Those smoked baby backs will be a prime chance to try out that ‘Q sauce!

Upon bringing my package home and alerting Ryan on Facebook that I’d received them in good condition, it was about 2 or so in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten anything all day. The chicken thighs that I’d grilled a day or two prior were still in the fridge; I had two remaining, along with three pork chops. I immediately throw the meats in the oven on 400 and waited impatiently.

The first sauce I tried is easily my favorite: Scorpion Juice. My mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.

Scorpion Juice


I was afraid that the citrus evident in the sauce would be overwhelming. I was wrong. I dipped a piece of pork chop in the saucy mixture in my paper plate and it was love at first bite. Maybe I was biased, since I was hungry and my tastebuds were pining for stimulation, but I couldn’t believe how full of flavor this sauce, Scorpion Juice, is. The citrus is not overwhelming at all. To my tastebuds, it’s actually in the background of the sauce, and the spice — labelled medium — is evident but it doesn’t overtake the flavor of the sauce itself. There are far too many hot sauces out there with heat that overpowers the flavor of the actual sauce and it becomes too dark. Scorpion Juice does not fall prey to that happening.

Scorpion Juice is a full flavored sauce. When my chicken was sufficiently hot, it was just as good with the Scorpion Juice as the pork chops were. It’s a “full bodied” hot sauce, I’d describe it, because it’s more than just one flavor. It’s an amalgamation of experience in your mouth. I love it. It’s already one of my favorite sauces and I can’t wait to use it on a leftover grilled chicken breast today.

On the other side of the paper plate, I drizzled some of Ryan’s Sweet Venom Hot sauce.

Sweet Venom is damn good, too. Expectedly, it’s hotter than the Scorpion Juice, but it’s not too hot to the point you want to chug ranch dressing. It’s hot to the point of, at least for me (take into consideration that I love spicy food and used to eat habanero peppers like grapes until they began affecting my stomach), where it makes its presence known as your tastebuds as though it’s saying, “Hey, I’m here, but I still pack flavor!”

To my palate, Sweet Venom delivers a mildly dark (I don’t like sauces ‘too dark’), comfortably tangy taste. I need to try it again, but by itself, with my food, because I believe the Scorpion Juice is stronger in flavor than the Sweet Venom, and eating them next to one another may have masked its flavor. Regardless, it is fantastic as well albeit the Scorpion Juice is still my favorite sauce between the two. I can’t wait to smoke some bologna again and make a sandwich featuring the Sweet Venom hot sauce on it. That will be the bomb. And if you’ve never had smoke bologna before, shame on you, because it’s an absolute revelation.

Dinner was a late decision. It was supposed to storm in the evening, but as I checked the weather report, it had changed to the night, so I defrosted the thin ribeyes that my little lady had purchased a month or so ago as well as two chicken breasts and some potatoes, and soon enough the grill was fired up.

After the ribeyes defrosted (since they were thin, they didn’t take long), I applied a good bit of Ryan’s “12 Finger Rub” to them. I didn’t apply the rub to the chicken breasts; I used Weber’s “Kick’N Chicken” seasoning. I simple hit the potatoes with some salt and pepper.

Chicken breasts

Another shot of chicken breasts.

Browning up the ribeyes with Ryan’s 12 Finger Rub.

The ribeyes, looking great with Ryan’s 12 Finger Rub.

I typically use Kingsford blue, but for this cook I used Royal Oak briquettes. They started much faster than Kingsford and burned hot, but it seems that they lost heat a lot faster despite filling my STOK drum grill basket just about to the top. I was hoping to get the temps to about 550-600 degrees to give the steaks a darker crust, but that’s OK. Next time I’m going to use lump when I grill steaks.

The 12 Finger Rub is pretty good. On steaks, it isn’t my favorite. I should have used it on the chicken as well, but I have enough left to use it on chicken, pork chops and other items next time. It had a nice profile to it, and as I chewed my steak it mixed in pretty well with the flavors of the meat. I could taste a variety of the “zings” it presented itself with.

I’ve also tried the Scorpion Juice with grilled burgers and hotdogs. Terrific on both!

I’m not a number rating kind of guy. Sometimes I am, but numbers, even on a 1-10 scale rating system, are completely arbitrary and only the user rating them can truly comprehend the meaning, method and motivation behind why they score something the way they do.

I will just say this: the sauces are damn good. No, they are great. The Scorpion Juice is easily my favorite, but that’s not to say the Sweet Venom isn’t up there as well! It’s just that the Scorpion Juice is out of this world fantastic. I still need to try the barbecue sauce, which I will, and I’ll update this post when I do, and I need to give the 12 Finger Rub another go on different meats. With that said, this has been a fantastic experience and I recommend those of you visiting and reading to check out his sauces and give them a whirl. I can tell his a grinder and stands on the hustle’n’grind daily with his sauces. He’s up late and back up early in the morning doing what he can to spread the word out about his sauces. He is not a charlatan pimping out weak products. These products are damn good, hand crafted and well worth checking out.

Full disclosure: I have no vested monetary interest in these products in regards to financial gain. Ryan contacted me a week or two ago about trying out his sauces and I finally decided to give them a shot. This post was written objectively and within the realm of my own, personal experiences that do not reflect the experiences of anybody else but my own. I’m simply a food, spice and hot sauce connoisseur that doesn’t mind supporting a small business if I believe in its products. I believe in Ryan’s, hence my free endorsement of Sauces n Such.

Grilled Cajun Chicken Thighs and Roasted Garlic & Herb Pork Chops

On Monday evening, a few hours before game 5 of the NBA Finals, I had chicken thighs and pork chops thawed out from the freezer and ready to add to a hot grill! I used my STOK drum grill.

For the chicken thighs, I seasoned ’em up with Tony Chachere’s Creole seasoning. I get mine for a $1 at a local Roses. I reckon any kind of Cajun seasoning will work. I love the flavor of Tony Chachere’s Creole on meats (works phenomenally well on smoked bologna). I cooked the thighs on indirect heat for roughly 25 minutes before I crisped them up really nicely.


For the pork chops, I used Weber’s roasted garlic & herb seasoning for the first time. My girlfriend’s family generously got me a horde of Weber seasonings for Christmas and I figured I’d give this one a go for the first time. What a success! Everybody loved them, thankfully, and they had a real nice crust on ’em, full of flavor with each bite!

I also must add that I added a tiny chunk (looks like a mini log) of apple wood from my tree out front to add a little extra flavor to this grilling experience.

BBQ Myths: You Have to Season Your New Smoker

Credit to @aguyindallas (Instagram handle)

When I first received my Weber Smokey Mountain cooker, I posted about it on a page on Facebook, excitedly writing about my enthusiasm for my first smoke on the ol’ “WSM”. A few comments were from people saying to season it to “get remove any of the manufacturing materials inside”.

Every day or so, I see people on the same Weber Smokey Mountain page asking about what food to use to season the smoker with, and there are guys and gals wasting a chimney or two of charcoal to season their new smoker. I even saw one guy asking what food to season his smoker with, and that he’s only going to throw the food away when it’s done. What a waste of food and a time smoking!

My first smoke on my Weber Smokey Mountain was two racks of baby back ribs (pork loin back ribs), a bacon-wrapped pork loin, a medium sized tube of bologna and a family pack of chicken thighs. That is how you season a Weber Smokey Mountain for the first time. Each and every bit of the food was consumed rather than thrown out and wasted.

Oh, and the manufacture residue? It’s going to be burned off and replaced with grease during your first cook, anyhow.

Bottom line: The idea that you have to run a quick smoke session with charcoal to “season” you or “burn off the manufacture residue” of your Weber Smokey Mountain cooker is complete hearsay and a myth. If you want to, then by all means do it, but at least eat the food you ‘season’ it with or accept that you are wasting charcoal if you are running a load without food.

There is no reason to season. Repeat after me: “with my new Weber Smokey Mountain, there is no reason to season”. You’ll develop a natural seasoning in your smoker over time… y’know, by smoking food that you will eat and not wasting charcoal.

Grilled Chicken Wings on the STOK Drum Grill

I finally grilled some chicken wings on my STOK Drum grill!

I only used salt, pepper and baking powder (recommendation by Meathead) since any seasoning would have been lost in the taste of sauce.

They were phenomenal. Both my girlfriend and I like our wings overly well done to the point of being very crispy. Yes, they are better deep fried, absolutely, but I love that grilled flavor. Not showed in this picture is Buffalo Wild Wings’ hot BBQ sauce, but that sauce tasted the best with these wings!

Burgers on the STOK Drum Grill

I couldn’t be happier with my STOK drum grill. I mean, I’d love some “swag”/goods from STOK, the company itself, from all the free endorsement I’ve been giving them on here and on Instagram (@smutravageur is my handle), but who wouldn’t?


I grilled these burgers last Sunday (6/4). They came out pretty damn good; no complaints from anyone, at least. I posted that to Reddit, and I made a mistake by mentioning STOK’s name, and a few idiots considered it a “hail corporate!” kind of thing. I wish! Once again, I’d love to be endorsed by STOK. I give them plenty of free advertising both on here and on Instagram. The internet is cynical as hell; Reddit can be a bottom-dweller’s haven at times, with a lot of morons showing their asses through anonymity.

It’s 73/27 ground beef. A 5+ lb. batch goes for about $10 at the grocery store. Whenever I grill them, I like to form the patties and put them in the freezer for a while to let them solidify, as it makes them much easier to cook. However, my family was so damn hungry I had to be a little quick. The problem with not doing the freezer method with these is that they fall apart. It’s difficult to sear them, because they are so fatty the fat drips onto the coals and induces plenty of flare ups. It wasn’t a huge problem last night. It at least made for some nice pictures. The burgers came out delicious and juicy, with a nice crust.

I give credit to this STOK grill because I love the cast iron grates. As I’ve said before, I’m a cast iron freak. Nothing holds heat better. I also love this grill, because with the basket you can use it as a direct/indirect grill, and what I plan on using with a “vortex” method pretty soon. I’m going to get some wings and start them off on indirect heat on the grill for 7-10 minutes per side with the lid closed before crisping them up, very carefully, on direct heat. Should be some damn good eatin’! The little lady loves crispy wings (hell… so do I), so this should be worth a shot on the ol’ STOK!

Unrelated, but I graduated from high school on this day eight years ago. June 12, 2009. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. That summer was arguably the best summer of my life so far. I miss that time period so badly.

Baby Back Ribs and Pork Loin on the Weber Smokey Mountain

I was born in eastern Tennessee and raised in southwest Virginia. I’m a mountain boy. So, it is fitting that I am now cooking with a smoker called the Weber Smokey Mountain. This is a huge upgrade over my previous smoker, where I had to constantly babysit the temperatures all day. I’m also now going to be a Weber fan for life, because their customer service is out of this world fantastic. The lid is kinda ‘out of round’ where I have to force it down onto the top of the smoker, and Weber is supposed to send me a new one, free of charge. You can’t beat that kind of customer service. I am already in love with my Weber Smokey Mountain.

One of the advantages of the Weber Smokey Mountain cooker vs. other cooks is its ease of use. In its ease of use, it holds and retains heat incredibly well. When you fire it up, using the Minion method, which is filling the charcoal base entirely with unlit charcoal, removing 10-15 briquettes and beginning a fire in a charcoal chimney until it is grayed and ashed over, subsequently dumping the hot coals onto the unlit ones, after the smoker heats up to 225-250, you can close all three of the intake vents located at the bottom of the smoker and lightly ‘crack’ one of the intake vents by barely leaving it open, all the while allowing the exhaust vent on the lid of the cooker to remain wide open for the duration of the cook. This smoker worked like a charm right out of the box, and I can only imagine how much better and more efficient it is going to run once a solid film of ‘grease’ coating adds up in the internal surfaces of the cooker itself after a few cooks.

I watched game one of the NBA Finals last night and wound up going to bed past 12 a.m. I woke up at 4:30 on Friday morning, just a few hours after going to bed, as I could not contain my excitement as it pertained to smoking some meats on this thing. Whenever I smoke, I like to stuff the smoker full of food, as I am usually always cooking for a large group of people (family and friends, typically, but oftentimes even acquaintances around this rural neighborhood).

22.5" Weber Smokey Mountain cooker

Smoked baby back ribs

Baby back ribs! The one on top was near its completion. The bigger one took about two more hours to smoke!

Bacon-wrapped pork loin

Bacon wrapped pork loin. I used McCormick Molasses Bacon seasoning on it before wrapping it up in bacon. I also coated it with mayo before doing any of that to add a shield of protection from the fat since it’s a lean meat.

Smoked bacon-wrapped pork loin

The finished bacon wrapped pork loin!

Smoked baby back ribs

One rack of baby back ribs out!

Tender baby back ribs with a smoke ring

Check out that smoke ring! Call me a braggart, but I nailed it!

Ultimately, I smoked a bacon-wrapped pork loin, two racks of baby back ribs, a family pack of chicken thighs, some chicken drumsticks and a tube of bologna. I didn’t take pictures of the thighs, drumsticks nor the tube of bologna, but I will try to (particularly with the excellent smoked bologna) in the next go-’round.

I have to admit, I was most excited for the baby back ribs. This was my first ever time smoking ribs of any kind, as I only just began my barbecue journey back in December.

I didn’t foil the ribs, despite many recommendations online suggesting that I follow the ‘3-2-1 method’, which is smoking the ribs uncovered for three hours, wrapping them in foil with a few pats of butter and drizzled honey (optional, but allegedly it adds to the flavor and gives it a bit of sweetness) and finishing the ribs by unwrapping it from the foil and allowing the smoke to pervade them for one more hour. In the case of the last hour, in regards to the addition of the honey when you foil it, one could potentially open the exhaust vents completely in order to increase the cooking temperature to allow the sugar from the honey to caramelize on the surface of the ribs. Talk about deliciousness.

My chosen method for my first ever racks of ribs was to use Uncle Yammy’s Memphs Style Chicken & Rib seasoning as a dry rub. Throughout the cook, I spritzed the ribs with a cranberry-apple juice I had in the fridge (as I did not have any apple juice at the time). As for when I chose to do so, it was around the two and half hour mark as for when I started ‘spraying’, or ‘spritzing’, the ribs with the cranberry-apple juice concoction. I made sure not to overdo it, as I did not want to somehow inconceivably taint or ruin the bark that I was working hard on achieving on these delectable pig ribs.

The smaller rack of ribs finished at around four hours in, as I surmise that they were cooking at a higher temperature than what the Weber Smokey Mountain gauge was reading. If there is one pitfall I have found as it pertains to the Weber Smokey Mountain, it is that the temperature gauge on the lid of the cooker is rather poor, and you could have your temperature reading 225 while the actual temperature of the food on the grate is being cooked at close to 300 degrees. This is a potentially exasperating fault, but with more experience in the realm of cooking should come more comfort using it, despite the errors of the temperature gauge.

The larger rack of ribs finished at around six hours. I was a little surprised by the discrepancy between the two racks, with the two hours in between finishing times, but nevertheless, for my first ever rib cook they turned out phenomenally well, if I do say so myself.

My choice of smoking wood was apple wood, which was sourced from the apple tree in my front yard that I pruned back in late February, along with two small chunks of hickory wood. When it comes to barbecue, I prefer a deep smoke flavor, and the smoky flavor imparted in the grub from this cook did not disappoint in the least. It was love at first bite for my family when they gave them a taste.

Multiple Weber fanatics and barbecue veterans from the Virtual Weber Bullet forum advised me to

not smoke a pork loin for my first cook, as the smoker was stated to allegedly run ‘hotter’ in its first couple of cooks than what it will when there is an ample amount of grease built up among the walls of the smoker, but hey, I just wanted to get my first cook in with this new barbecue toy, and what better way to learn than trial and error? The pork loin wound up being perfect: juicy as can be. I coated the pork loin with a thin layer of mayonnaise to ‘protect it’ with the fat in order to ensure it being moist when it was finished cooking, not to mention, well, the bacon wrapped around it helped quite a bit as well.

I am more than excited to continue experiencing with the WSM, and I look forward to sharing many journeys with my new smoker on my site going forward.