Steebo’s BBQ Terrific Turkey

If prepared and cooked properly turkey can be one of the most enjoyable lean meats around.  Sure you could just bake your turkey in an oven, but a BBQ grill will roast it with more flavor and character.  The grill will create crisp golden brown skin, while still keeping the meat moist and filled with wonderful subtle smoky flavors.  Once you stop using the oven and start using the BBQ grill, you’ll never go back.

Don’t be scared, my good friend Steebo will walk you through the entire process for making a terrific turkey on your Weber kettle.  This recipe and easy-to-duplicate process will change the way you think about cooking turkey

.spread and stuffed turkey

Keep reading for Steebo’s “BBQ-Terrific-Turkey” recipe and technique

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Harvesting Heady: The Conan Yeast Strain

Heady Topper is the pride of Vermont’s Alchemist and is one of the most sought after IPAs in the world.  It is a hop head’s dream with its juicy and pungent blast of citrus and tropical fruit that finishes smooth with a pleasant lingering bitterness.  Once Heady hits your lips, it is easy to understand how truly special this beer is… and if you want some, the catch is that you have to travel to Vermont to get it or find a really nice friend or beer trader to send you some.  The Alchemist only distributes a small amount of the beer throughout the region and sells the lion’s share right out of their production facility in Waterbury, Vermont.  My wife and I made the trek last year and will be going again in August.  A beercation to Vermont is a must for all craft beer aficionados.  It is a truly amazing area.  We filled the entire car with Heady Topper as well as beers from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead.

Dan posing in the Heady Topper can at the Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont.

Dan posing in the Heady Topper can at the Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont.

 

John Kimmich of the Alchemist doesn’t like to give away too many secrets about his coveted Heady Topper, but a few key nuggets of information have slipped out over time.  Kimmich says that one of the biggest components in the flavor profile of the beer is their proprietary yeast strain that is affectionately called Conan.  Heady is unfiltered and packaged in a can that insists that you “Drink From the Can!”  rather than pour into a glass as you typically would with such a fine brew.  The reason for this is twofold:  the wide mouth can opening funnels the aromatic hop blast straight at your face and the beer itself is often cloudy with a rather large amount of sediment and floaties.

That’s Conan swimming around in your beer.  You’d normally want to rack off most of your yeast in an IPA, but quite a bit of Conan is intentionally left in Heady Topper.  This is a very unique strain of ale yeast with very high attenuation and it produces a distinct peach flavor when fermented in the high 60s.  The peach flavor can become more prominent if you underpitch Conan and ferment in the 68-72 degree range.  It’s a flavor that is very complimentary to citrus and fruit forward hops.  You’ll end up with a very juicy and tropical fruit forward beer that is both unique and delicious.

After enjoying hundreds of cans of Heady Topper and reading a lot about Conan, we decided to  harvest the yeast for a couple of our own beer projects.  We planned to pitch the dregs of one can of Heady into a very small low gravity starter that would be stepped up enough to pitch into a 2.5 gallon batch of a lightly hopped IPA.  The yeast would then be washed and stored  for a couple of future projects that are currently in the planning phase.  We have no interest in cloning Heady Topper – we just want to experiment with Conan and see what this beast can do.

Here’s how we did it.

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Hitachino Nest – Kiuchi Brewery Visit

header nestbeer
When I travel to a new place the first thing I do is look to see if there is a good brewery I can visit.  As soon as I learned that I would be traveling to Japan, the first thing that popped up in my mind was “how close will I be to the Hitachino Nest brewery?”. The brewery can be reached in about 160 minutes via train from the Narita International Airport.  Most visitors to Japan do fly in thru Narita, so from the airport you can take a simple train ride north to the Mito Station and you will be moments away from enjoying the freshest Nest Beer in the world.

For those of you that do not know, Hitachino Nest is Japan’s premier craft beer.  The Hitachino Nest Beer brand was created in 1996 by the Kiuchi Brewery.  Founded over 180 years ago in 1823, the Kiuchi Brewery has an epic story that you can read more about here. From their inception, nest has been winning medals and accolades around the globe.  Nest beer is easy to recognize with its iconic owl character, this is one of my favorite logos.  If you have not tasted any of Hitachino Nest’s beer I recommend that you search your local bottle shop, for Weizen (my favorite) or White Ale (my first nest beer).Nest is Best
Nest Is Best…
If you are coming to Japan, you better come here!
If you live in Japan, why haven’t you been here yet?

Click here to read the entire story about my visit / tour and pics!

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Super Bowl XLIV Wagyu Beef Brisket

So this post is actually just an old brag-session that found its way into my friends and my coworkers inbox in power point format back in February of 2010.  That January I had just won first place in both of my fantasy football leagues and I wanted to do something special with my winnings.  So I purchased, and smoked a Wagyu Beef Brisket from Snake River Farms and I hosted a party at my house for Super Bowl XLIV (Saints vs. Colts).  This was a brisket to remember, I could not believe how good it tasted.  In my opinion good brisket is the holy grail of BBQ, and this was my most famous brisket.  This post will have some inline images and some descriptive text below each picture

Waygu Brisket Sliced For the rest of the pics / text click here

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How to get the best shave you’ve ever had. (Part 1)

shaving gear
Like most guys, I was never “taught” how to shave.  When I was old enough to amass enough scraggly chin pubes to warrant shaving, I simply went to the nearest drug store and bought whatever astrofacelube and hyper valyrian turbo razor was “the best I can get”.  As expected, it was a less than thrilling shave, but it got the job done.  On I went, experimenting with just about every product on the shelf in hopes of finding something better.  Eventually I just settled on the fact that I could either get a baby’s butt smooth shave that result in tons of irritation 24 hours later, or I could get a mediocre shave and my face would calm down a bit.

A few years ago I decided to take another crack at experimenting.  After loads of research I learned about the classic wet shaving method.  This is basically the method old school barbershops and your grandpa used to use.  It involves a routine of good care for your skin and facial hair and the use of a manual razor, be it the usual disposable cartridge style, a cutthroat straight razor, or the most common double edge safety razor.  (No electrics, and I get into the why later)  Why would I go back to such an antiquated method you ask?  Well, first off, you probably wouldn’t be reading this far if you are already satisfied with your usual shave but I’ll give you a few more good reasons.

  1.  If you stick with my recommendations, I promise you really will get the best shave of your life.
  2.  If you go with a safety razor, its much more economical to replace the blades and always have a fresh, sharp blade.
  3.  It’s environmentally friendly.  Safety razor blades cause far less waste to produce and dispose of than cartridges.  Also, good quality shaving creams and soaps tend to made of more natural ingredients than whatever the heck that canned, aerosol driven gook is.
  4.  It’s therapeutic.  Taking a little extra time out of the day to pamper your face and enjoy the shaving experience is almost meditative.
  5.  Let’s face it.  There’s just something cool, visceral, and manly about artfully carving those whiskers off with a finely crafted razor.

So, if you’re feeling pretty geeked about this let’s start diving into the good stuff.  In these posts, I’m going to break wet shaving down into 3 parts: The Gear, Preparing Your Face and Post Shave Care, and lastly Shaving Technique. And now for the gear porn!

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Selecting Your Smoking Wood

You have a smoker…need wood, but you don’t know which wood to use.  I can help, lets start off with the most basic rule in smoking meat, do not use too much smoke wood.  Keep the total amount of smoking wood in the range of two pounds per smoking session. This also can be approximated as three to four chunks.  A closed fist sized chunk of wood is approximately half a pound.  As an engineer I would recommend using a small scale and actually weighing your smoke wood and keeping track of how much you used and if you desire more or less on your next smoke.  With experience and practice I have gotten comfortable using my hands and eyeballing it, to select the right amount of wood.   Let the smoke wood be a crave-able layer of flavor, rather than the dominant taste in your dish.
half pound hickory wood     Fist Sized half pound chunk

Kruski’s smoking wood of choice is actually an easy ratio of apple and hickory wood. When smoking small items like baby back ribs [1# Apple to 1/2# hickory]
2to1 Apple to Hickory

When smoking large hunks of meat like Pork Butt or Beef Brisket [1# Apple to 1# hickory].
1to1 Apple to Hickory

Wood Sources

The wood source I used for most of my early smoking years is actually packaged under the Weber brand name sold by Amazon in 5# bags that run about $13 shipped so about $2.60 per pound.
Apple Wood Chunks  Hickory Wood Chunks

An alternative source I use for ordering larger portions of smoking wood online is Fruita.  If you can get your box shipped to a commercial address (like your work) they toss in free wood. I recently ordered a 30 pound box of apple and a 15 pound box of hickory and the total cost per pound on this order was $1.73 per pound. Below is an picture of my latest haul
frutia 2to1 apple hickory wood

When in doubt, always use less wood.
Use wood that you trust, don’t smoke dinner for your friends and family using recycled furniture, pallets, or scrap wood that may contain mold, stains, oils, glues, or some potential of being chemically treated.  Do not use woods that are heavy in sap or natural oils like pine, spruce, cedar, eucalyptus, etc.

If you want to experiment or if you happen to have a different mild fruit-wood on hand such as peach, cherry, or pecan go ahead and substitute it for the apple wood.  On the stronger non-fruit woods if you have mesquite, walnut, or red oak they could be substituted for the hickory wood.  I personally prefer to use apple and hickory and recommend this perfect combination strongly.

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Bourbon Review: New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon

The next spirit up for tasting comes from New Holland Artisan Distillers and has been dubbed Beer Barrel Bourbon.  Now that’s a great name and it has a real interesting story and an even more interesting packaging.  In the press release, New Holland says, Whiskey Barrels make great beer.  Its time beer returns the favor.  New Holland sources full strength bourbon (110-115 proof) from LDI (Lawrenceburg Distillers Indiana) that was aged in new American Oak Barrels for a few years. So New Holland sourced some “bourbon” and “finished” it in another barrel to impart some new fresh layer of flavor, this is a trend I enjoy.  The second barrel finishing is fairly standard practice these days (think Makers Mark 46 / Angels Envy), but New Holland’s spirits master chose to take the aged bourbon and finish it in spent Dragon Milk barrels for 90 days.  For those that do not know about Dragons Milk, it is the crown jewel of New Hollands Brewery.  It has been around since 2001, as an 10% ABV American stout brewed with Michigan beet sugar that itself is aged in second use Heaven Hill bourbon oak barrels.  Dragons Milk was the first beer I had ever tasted that was aged in bourbon oak barrels, and its a very tasty beverage.  So now that you know about the beer, lets get back to the beer barrel bourbon.  This product is the first time I have ever heard of a spirit being finished in a barrel that previously contained beer.  So in summary the Heaven Hill aged Dragons Milk is removed and in comes the virgin oak aged bourbon from Indiana for a 90 day soak. Sounds like a creative way to save some money, up-cycle (buzzword), and to allow every last bit of flavor from the bourbon and the oak to be applied to your product. This easy drinking bourbon is very affordable, with a 750 mL bottle only costing me $35, I think that it should be every beer lovers intro to bourbon.

Kruskis Beer Barrel Bourbon Layout

Onto the full tasting notes, and a gallery of bourbon beauty shots from Stacey,  Continue reading

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Impressive Pulled Pork Smoked On A Weber Smokey Mountain

WSM snow smokeThere are two major reasons to become a BBQ Pit Master; an endless supply of finely smoked meat, and showmanship (the ability to show off).  As Homer Simpson once said, “I am trying to impress people here Lisa. You don’t win friends with salad!”  If you are polishing your skills on the smoker, pulled pork is the drill for you.  It is a forgiving hunk of meat, it is an affordable way to feed the masses, and just the phrase pulled pork itself will make your friends and family drool and crave an invite to the feast.  For example, this year over Christmas break I posted pictures on Facebook of my smoker in the snow as I loaded up a brisket flat and my Mom commented “Does this mean pulled pork?”

Pulled pork is typically made from a cut of the swine called Boston Butt.  The Boston Butt is really pork shoulder and is located in the upper part of the front legs.  The ass-end of the pig is actually ham.  Pork butt, when smoked properly, is one of the best foods in the world.  When I talk about this cut of meat I primarily refer to it as pork shoulder, pork butt, or just simply put as butt.

Detailed description of the method I use to select, prepare, and smoke a load of perfect pulled pork.

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Review: Colonel E.H Taylor Straight Rye

colonel e h taylor straight rye

This gorgeous bottle of rye is the fifth colonel e h taylor bottled in bondrelease from Buffalo Trace Distillery in the Colonel E. H. Taylor series.  This is the first of the series that I have tasted. It is packaged in tube and the bottle is wrapped with a label that is a throw back to a past century.  This bottle has the words bottled-in-bond on a paper seal across the cork, on the tube, and label.  This was the first time I had heard this phrase. The Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897 was put in place to help differentiate between legitimate whiskey labels and counterfeits. Sorta like a certificate of authenticity that also mandated that the whiskey must be a product of a single distiller, aged in a government supervised warehouse for a minimum of 4 years and bottled at 100 proof.  Buffalo Trace states this recipe is made from malted barley and rye, and contains no corn in its mash bill.

Stacey seemed to really enjoy taking pictures of this bottle, for the complete review click here

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Review – Sazerac Rye Whiskey

I have a friendly relationship with the owner of my local liquor-focused-store.  His name is Mike, and he likes bourbon and whiskey. When I stop in his store I am always asking, “Hey Mike!….. What’s new and exciting” as I am looking for bottles that I haven’t tried yet. Just before Christmas break this year he had a counter top lined with bottles just delivered by the Buffalo Trace Distributor.  He had purchased three bottles each of six different varieties.  Out of the six rows there was only a single bottle of Colonel E.H Taylor Straight Rye, and only one bottle remained of the Sazerac Rye.  I decided to crowd source my purchase, and chose to buy both of the lone bottles.  This post will be a review of the Sazerac Rye Whiskey.

Sazerac Rye at Kruskis bar

Sazerac Rye Whiskey can be traced back to the 1800′s. This rye was the main ingredient in a “Sazerac” in which most hail as the first ever branded (ordered by name) cocktail.  Although Sazerac is a New Orleans classic, this Rye Whiskey is now produced at the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort Kentucky.  This rye whiskey is packaged in a bottle that is extremely attractive.  The bottle and label are simple, yet old-timey-cool.  The bottle definitely caught my eye in the store, and cost me just under $30 out the door.pouring a sazerac rye

From this post forward all bourbon and whiskey reviews posted on Kruski’s will follow a standard format.  A single ice cube will be placed inside a clean old-fashioned glass.  Approximately two ounces of bourbon or whiskey will be poured over top of the cube, and promptly removed.  We will record our experience into five main categories; Appearance + Nose + Taste + Finish + Overall.  Our overall scores will be on a scale from 1 to 10 with ten being the best.  Until our review has been completed we do not discuss anything with each other.  You know what they say about opinions and assholes, so by no means do you have to agree with us.

click here for detailed tasting notes from both Steve D and I

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