Consistent cooking temperature and the internal temperature of meat are the cornerstones of great BBQ. Without them, meat comes out tough, takes longer to cook and if not watched can completely ruin your cook.
There are a number of great digital thermometers on the market, and over the years we have seen the development of more wireless models, often probes tied to a base unit that will connect to a mobile device and track your cook.
The Meater probe, from Apption Labs, is different. The single probe simultaneously monitors your internal temperature as well as ambient temp of the cooker (be it a smoker or an oven), and transmits via Bluetooth to an app that allows you to select the protein and how you’d like it cooked.
Meater+ Digital Bluetooth Thermometer Review - YouTube
The range of the Meater+ unit can be varied depending on how you configure it. Out of the box, and with a direct line of site, the probe will reach up to 33 ft (10m). With the probe inside a smoker, this range is 3m, but if you set up the probe using its charger unit, this grows to a range of 165ft (50m). You can also use multiple probes on the one unit.
Image Source: Apption Labs / Meater
The app is where it all happens. It allows you to select from a wide range of proteins and levels of cooking, which once selected.
The readout features the ambient temperature of whatever unit you are cooking in, the current temperature of the protein and the target temperature. It also tracks, depending on the temp, a projected time to go. It will chart your cooks and sync to the Meater cloud where you can keep a record for future use.
There are a lot of digital probe thermometers on the market, but the versatility and portability of the Meater+ puts it ahead of its competition. The fact that it is wireless is a huge advantage for it, and that its range is extendable to such a distance makes it incredibly handy for weekend cooks and competition BBQers alike.
One of our favourite things to do when you have leftover brisket (apparently it’s a thing…?), is to turn that into rich chili. And then what better dish served on top of a bunch of chips with some guacamole and sour cream. So when we recently bombed a brisket cook (it happens), Brisket Nachos was the perfect dish to whip up.
We also decided to swap out the corn chips this time and pair it with some homemade potato chips, sliced thin, crisped up and pimped with some chilli salt. Absolutely amazing flavour.
CHILLI SALT POTATOES
5 potatoes (we used Desiree)
Chilli salt (we used Three Blue Ducks)
CHILLI SALT POTATO METHOD
Preheat an oven to 180c and prepare a tray with a lining of baking paper. Wash and dry the potatoes and then thinly slice using a mandolin.
Brush the potatoes in a little bit of sunflower oil and sprinkle the chili salt over it. Place in the oven for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes check and turn the potato slices over and sprinkle again with salt.
Once crisp, remove from the oven to cool
While these are cooking and cooling, prepare your brisket chili.
BRISKET CHILI INGREDIENTS
Leftover brisket (about 750g), roughly chopped or shredded
2 tins crushed or diced tomato
1 brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 jar passata
Tablespoon of cumin
1 can red kidney beans
Sautee the onion and garlic in a heavy saucepan until the onion becomes translucent
Add the shredded brisket to the pan and stir
Add the tin of tomatoes and stir, then add the passata
Bring to the boil, add and stir in the cumin and then reduce to a simmer
After an hour, check on the consistency, the meat should have broken down a bit and the sauce beginning to thicken up.
With about 20 minutes to go, drain the can of kidney beans and stir them through.
ASSEMBLING YOUR BRISKET NACHOS
Arrange the potato chips in the base of a shallow bowl or plate and top with the chili
Sprinkle cheese over the top and place under the grill until the cheese has melted
Add guacamole, sour cream and top with thinly sliced spring onion.
Pulled pork is so yesterday. The Rib Sandwich is our new go to pork dish, because it’s a meal in itself. We’d been working on this for a while, but our final push came from an ABA competition to see who could out-do the McDonald’s version (not hard…).
The key to the sandwich is to overdo the ribs during the wrap stage. You want the meat tender enough to pull the bones clean out. We doubled (actually tripled) down on the pork in this one, also including chopped belly and the crackling.
Why the South Coast O’Rib? Well, we crafted this magnificent beast while on holidays in Jervis Bay on the south coast of NSW, in the kitchen of my wife’s family, the O’Reilly’s.
You’re welcome, world.
Pork belly with ribs and skin attached (if you can, get your butcher to remove the skin and separate the belly from the ribs)
Prepare a double layer of foil with butter and honey and lay the ribs bone side up on top and wrap them tightly. You can also add sugar to the wrap, but our rub already has some sugar in it, and as you’re overdoing the ribs in the foil you don’t want it to burn and caramelise too much. Also wrap the belly in foil and return both to the smoker for another two hours
Take your pork skin from the fridge, rinse off salt and pat dry, and then while still on the rack in the sink, pour boiling water over it to open up the cuts. Pat dry and rub with more salt and a little oil and place on the top shelf in the oven at 400F.
While the pork components are cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Slice the onion with knife or mandolin and separate out the rings, and make your chipotle mayonnaise by combining half a cup of whole egg mayonnaise with 2 TBS of chipotle sauce (or adjust to your liking)
Check your ribs in the foil, you want them overdone so the bones can wiggle out cleanly, but not so they’re mushy
Remove all the bones and then glaze the ribs with your sauce. Remove the belly from it’s foil (it should be soft) and also glaze and return to the smoker to set the glaze
Once our crackle has formed and firmed, remove from the oven to cool
To assemble the sandwich, slice the Vienna loaf in half and drizzle your mayonnaise from a squeeze bottle in a criss-cross pattern on the bottom half
Place the sliced onions along the edges and middle of the loaf
Lay your deboned ribs on top
Place three slices of cheese on the diagonal down the sandwich
Top with pickles
Chop the belly and lay on top and drizzle with more mayonnaise
Add more onions, and two more slices of cheese
Crumble the crackling and add to the top, and then top with the bun
Depending on the number of people you’re feeding, cut into slices with a bread knife and serve.
One of my favourite videos on sauces is this one from Southern Living. It goes to show the influence of different cultures on the sauces, the ingredients that pair it with meat, and that it doesn’t need to be a million ingredients to make a great tasting sauce.
Here Are The 5 BBQ Sauces Every Southerner Should Know | Southern Living - YouTube
If you’ve spent more than 5 minutes at a BBQ comp or watching BBQ Pitmasters on TV, you would have heard the term flavour profile. But what exactly is it?
Main Flavour Profile Elements
There are four main flavour profiles that most of us would have heard of, and you can easily categorise most foods into it:
Sweet is, as you would expect, mostly based in sugars
Salty, which comes from different types of salt and things such as anchovy and soy sauce
Sour, generated by things like vinegar and citrus, and;
Bitter, which is what you can get with things like coffee and turmeric
There is a fifth taste in all this as well – umami, a more robust, meaty taste, which Jess Pryles explains over on her site here.
What about BBQ Flavour Profiles?
When it comes to BBQ, spices, herbs and the process itself will impart different flavours. In competition BBQ, this goes up a notch as competitors try and impart as much flavour in one bite, through a combination of brines and injections, rubs, smoke and sauce.
We tend to do away with the bitter and have other elements like savoury, smokey and earthy. These are again driven by largely by spice, but the woods themselves play a part. Depending on which would you use, you get the subtlety of smoke flavours.
If I was looking at this in the sense of some of the Moonshine BBQ rubs, our beef rub is equal parts spicy (almost cajun) and salty (as all good beef rubs should be), whereas our brisket rub alters this profile to also be herby and nutty.
Jay from the ABA put together this flavour wheel last year to help out. So if you’re wanting to experiment with flavour, this is a great place to start.
My friends at Slo Moe’s recently asked me to whip up a winter warmer dish for their new eBook, so I put together some smoked short rib with my favourite sides, including beef fat potatoes made from the rendered trim. The full recipe is below.
Beef short ribs are one of the best cuts to smoke low and slow, both visually, with giant bones and taste wise with melt in your mouth meat and crunchy bark. Read the whole recipe before you begin, as there are a number of things to be doing while the ribs are cooking.
Rack of full plate beef short ribs (approx. 3-4 bones)
Square up the short ribs, removing a bone off the end if necessary to give you consistent thickness of the slab of meat.
Trim the fat cap from the top of the beef short ribs, reserving the trimmed fat (this will be used for the potatoes)
Turn the rack over (bones up) and begin to loosen membrane from one corner of the rack using the handle of a spoon or a butter knife. Once you have enough to grip, use a paper towel to hold it and pull back and remove the remaining membrane. Discard.
Using a shaker, apply Moonshine BBQ Beef rub to the top of the ribs and all sides and let rest for 30 minutes.
Prepare your smoker to a stable temperature of 275F
Place the meat on the smoker, and add wood to your fire. We used ironbark in our cook.
Keep checking the smoker through the cook to make sure you are maintaining a heat of 275F.
At 3 hours, begin to check the internal temperature with a digital probe thermometer. If beginning to look dry, spritz with some beef stock (use a spray bottle)
Once the ribs reach 205F internal temperature and are probing like soft butter, then they are done (approx. 8 hours). Depending on the meat, this may take more or less time, so it’s important to check the temperature regularly. Try not to open the smoker too often as heat will fluctuate.
Wrap in foil and a towel and rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.
RENDERING THE FAT
While the ribs are cooking, remove any excess meat from the trimmed fat and place the fat in a saucepan with ¼ cup water
Bring the water to a simmer and continually stir the beef fat until it begins to break down. You will notice it will begin to look like oil
Once all the beef fat has been rendered, you will be left with what looks like pork crackling. Strain the solids from the rendered fat through a muslin cloth or a clean Chux into a clean bowl. Discard the solids. This rendered fat will keep in the fridge in a sterilised jar for a week or two.
SMASHED BEEF FAT POTATOES
About an hour from your intended finishing time, quarter your potatoes into similar sizes and place in a pot of boiling water until semi-tender
Add two tablespoons of the rendered beef fat to a tray and place in an oven at 210c
Drain the water and rough the potato edges up by tossing them in the strainer
Add to the tray of heated fat and toss, season with salt and pepper and place back in the oven. Occasionally stir potatoes to further break them down and make sure all sides are golden and crispy.
BRUSSELS SPROUT HASH
About 10 minutes from the end of the intended finishing time for the ribs, chop your bacon into small pieces and fry off in a frypan to render the fat out. Remove from the pan when golden and rest on some paper towel
Trim the bottoms from the sprouts and separate the leaves
Add a knob of butter and a clove of garlic to the pan, add the sprouts and sauté in the butter for a minute until the leaves begin to slightly wilt, but maintaining their structure.
Add bacon back into the pan and stir to combine.
Remove the ribs from their resting foil and slice lengthways down the bone. Serve with the beef fat potatoes and brussels sprout hash.
This lamb ribs recipe was inspired by a visit to Melbourne many years ago. Trying to find somewhere to eat late in the evening, my wife and I stumbled across a little salumi bar called Ombra which had just opened.
I’d never tried lamb ribs before but they had these flash fried in a share plate with an incredible house-made chilli jam that was the most iridescent red colour I had ever seen (to the point we convinced the chef to part with some more and left with a jar of it).
This variant adds an extra layer of flavour to it – smoke. This is essentially a reverse-sear on the lamb ribs, bringing them to temp in the smoker and then a quick fry in a skillet. You won’t need any fancy rub for these either – salt and pepper will do the trick, or you can use rosemary salt.
A note on the ribs – they can be quite fatty depending on which ones you get, so trim if necessary but leave a little of the fat on in any case.
The chilli jam will keep for a week in the fridge.
Remove the membrane from the back of the lamb ribs and trim any excess fat. Leave a small amount of fat on as this will add to the flavour.
Season with salt and pepper (alternatively use rosemary salt)
Add ribs to smoker and cook until 165F internal temperature
Remove from the smoker, wrap and rest.
When ready to serve, cut rack into individual ribs
Add enough sunflower oil to a skillet or frypan to be 5-10ml deep. Heat oil over a medium-high heat until a piece of bread browns quickly, and then add lamb ribs to the oil, frying on all sides for 30-40 seconds.
Remove from pan onto paper towel
CHILLI JAM RECIPE
5-6 long red chilli
2 cloves garlic
1 small brown onion
2 cups sugar (white)
1/2 cup water
2 TBS lime juice
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp fish sauce
Roughly chop the chili, garlic and onion and blitz in food processor or blender with the water until finely chopped and forming a loose paste
Add to a saucepan over a low heat with sugar, vinegar, fish sauce and lime juice until the sugar dissolves. Make sure to keep stirring.
Bring to the boil, skim any scum off the top and reduce to a simmer for 30-45 minutes.
It will be done when it reduced and comes to a jammy consistency
Remove from the heat and allow to cool
Store leftover in the fridge in a sealed container or sterilised jar
To serve, pile finished lamb ribs into a bowl or on a board, and serve with the chilli jam in a small bowl where people can dip or spoon onto their ribs.
At the heart of all good BBQ is a top cut of meat, and that’s why we’re thrilled to announce that Mr Baillie + Co is joining the Moonshine BBQ team as our meat partner.
Opening in 2017 and located in National St, Rozelle, Mr Baillie + Co is a whole animal butcher, committed to sourcing the best pasture-raised animals available and minimising waste through a nose to tail approach.
Steve, Rachel and the team take an incredible amount of pride in supporting local farmers and have an amazing selection in the store of not only meat but a quality range of artisan products as well. They’ll also be stocking Moonshine BBQ rubs, which we’re very excited about.
As our meat partner, we’re using Mr Baillie + Co’s locally sourced products in both our home cooks, recipes and competitions, and you’ll see a lot more videos with Steve (like our ham tutorial) as we take on both traditional BBQ cuts and approach some of those cuts that you would not normally try.
Visit their Facebook page, and their website, and be sure to drop by and see Rachel and Steve in Rozelle.
Curing and smoking ham is something that every BBQ enthusiast should do at least once. Much like smoking your own bacon, there really is no substitute for doing it yourself – and it’s not just for Christmas. Smoked ham is perfect all year round.
Below is our paddock to plate tutorial on how to choose, cure and smoke your ham. Pay attention though, because curing meat is an exact science. But when it’s done, there’s a kick-ass glaze for you to give it that will just bring it all together.
How to Cure and Smoke a Ham - Moonshine BBQ - YouTube
Choosing your ham
Ham is the term for the hind leg of the pig, there is no other cut it can be made from and still be called ham. You want to be looking for a leg that is pasture raised, ensuring the best possible pork.
Once we got it home, it got trimmed a little more and then brined for the next 16 days.
Curing your ham
This the exact science part of the process I mentioned earlier. Curing meat requires precision, and getting it wrong can make you seriously ill. For that reason, we strongly recommend reading the Science of Curing Meats Safely over at the fantastic Amazing Ribs website. Use the calculator in the article to tell you how much you will need as far as Prague Powder to cure your meat properly and safely.
Our brine was simple:
Prague Powder (Curing salt #1)
Exact quantities of this will vary depending on the size and weight of your leg, so we’re not going to specify them here as part of the recipe. You can also add sugar, but this does nothing but add some sweetness.
We used distilled water to keep the mix pure, then dissolved our salts and chilled the water down. Then into the fridge to cure.
Smoking your ham
Once the ham has brined for the required time, remove it from the water bath, rinse it and pat it dry.
Prepare your smoker to 300F (or up to 350F), and add apple wood for smoke. Apple and pork go together perfectly, and we used Heat Beads original briquettes in our Weber Smokey Mountain.
You want to smoke the ham until the internal temperature (measured with a stick thermometer or probe monitor) is 165F. It will be safe to eat from 145, but the higher temperature means it can be eaten for weeks after. At about 150F, you should look to start glazing.
Glazing your ham
By far and away my favourite part of the entire process is the glaze. This is in the last 30-45 minutes of the cook and the opportunity to add some amazing flavours to the leg and crisp up the outside.
There are plenty of great glaze recipes, but our favourite has to be the one from the team at Blend Smoked Honey. It’s sweet and a little bitter, and makes the perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of the ham. I also give it a last minute brush with the honey straight. Here’s how you make it (reproduced with permission):
And there you have it – cured and smoked ham. Make two legs for Christmas – one for you, and one for everyone else. It’s that good.
Pork belly burnt ends are all the rage right now and this recipe puts a bit an Asian inspired twist on them. We pair these up with a bao bun and some pickled salad to make a mouthful of food that is just perfect.
Bao buns are a pillowy steamed dough that wraps around the pork belly burnt ends and salad and make it a great starter or main.
Cut the pork belly down the middle length wise and then into inch thick slices. Normally burnt ends are cubed but this will make them easier to fill in the bun.
Coat them in your favourite BBQ rub (we use Moonshine BBQ Spiced Heat but any good pork rub will do) and place skin side down on a wire rack (this will make them easier to lift and move on a grill plate)
Smoke for 3 hours over apple wood or to a temp of 190F. They’ll be tender but with still enough texture to have some chew.
Drop them into a foil tray, pour over sauce and make sure they have a good coating on all sides. Put them back into the smoker for or oven for another 90 minutes or until they are caramelised.
Dissolve the yeast in 1 tbsp warm water, then add it to the flour with the sugar, salt, milk, oil, vinegar, water. Mix together into a dough, adding a little extra water if needed.
On a lightly floured work surface, knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Roll into a bowl and place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Leave to rise for 2 hrs (or until it twice it size).
Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and punch it down. Flatten, sprinkle over the baking powder and knead for 5 mins.
Roll out the dough into a long sausage shape, about an inch thick, then cut into pieces that are about 3cm wide. In the palm of your hand, roll each piece of dough into a ball and leave to rest for 2-3 mins.
Use a rolling pin to roll out each ball, one by one, into an oval shape about 3-4mm thick. Rub the surface of the dough ovals with oil (inside only) and brush a little oil a chopstick or metal skewer
Place the oiled chopstick in the centre of each oval. Fold the dough over the chopstick, then slowly pull out the chopstick.
Place each bun on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place for 1 1/2 hrs (they should double in size again). NOTE – Don’t leave them longer than this as the buns will start to dry out and stick together.
Steam the buns for 5-6 minutes in a bamboo steamer over a simmering pot of water.
2 long red chili
3 spring onions
3 TBS Caster sugar
3 TBS Rice wine vinegar
2 TBS Salt
Coriander leaves, picked
Combine the salt, vinegar and sugar in a bowl
Slice chili and spring onion finely and add to liquid.
Chill in fridge for an hour (or longer)
Open the steamed bun and place one or two pieces of the steamed pork inside
Add a handful of the pickled salad and garnish with picked coriander leaves