The longer days of Spring mean more barbecue!!
The first thing that goes through my mind each time we start putting together a new edition of DizzyNews is will the information be truly helpful to our readers? I despise spam, and my goal is to send out something that our customers look forward to reading. Thanks for reading our Tenth issue of DizzyNews!
It's hard to believe I am seeing strong signs of Spring here at the Dizzy Headquarters in Manassas, VA. The days are noticeably longer, the sun is getting warmer on my face, and the birds are starting to sing. This year is a bit strange, though, for many of us in the U.S. because Winter never even showed up, and many of us have been cooking outside all winter. Spring-fever won't be as intense this year, though it is still exciting to have Spring around the corner. Even more daylight to BBQ in!
We have some exciting info in our Tenth DizzyNews! We are lucky to have Mike put together this great series on the subject of charcuterie. This age old art is experiencing a great deal of interest from home cooks these days. There is a lot of information out there, and Mike and Reg have totally simplified curing with a proven formula that you can only get here! I am really looking forward to diving in and trying the Apple Cider Pineapple Head Bacon recipe myself. Plus we have some helpful info on choosing the best meat for your barbecue, and some tips for which rubs to use on common foods you see in the Spring! And just a little bit about what new and exciting things we have going on here at Dizzy central. Enjoy, and thanks again for reading, and for choosing Dizzy Pig!
Happy almost Spring!
A Choice or Prime graded brisket has plenty of internal fat...the key to good brisket.
Choosing the best meat for your barbecue
Learning to take tough cuts of meat and cook them to be tender, moist, flavored with the right amount of smoke and with the perfect crust takes plenty of hard work and practice. But your technique is only part of the equation. A carefully selected piece of meat can really make a big difference in your true slow-cooked BBQ. For this article, we'll throw out a few tips on pork shoulder and beef brisket, but the same tips apply to beef chuck/shoulder, and beef/pork ribs.
Brisket. Whole "packer" briskets, which include two main muscles....the point and the flat...are the best choice for BBQ, and generally weigh 10-15 lbs. However, in many parts of the country, it's hard to find anything but the flat cut (the large flat muscle...usually around 3-6 lbs.). If you can only find the "flat", it will still make good barbecue, but we always choose packers when available.
The grading of the beef is a good place to start when choosing. For our competitions, we are able to get USDA Prime graded beef, and if you have a source AND the budget, it is a great way to go. But USDA Choice grade is much more readily available and is also a very good grade to use. USDA Select grade can produce some decent BBQ, but the fat content is so low that it really needs to be cooked perfectly to be very good.
Assuming you are looking at a Choice grade or better chunk of meat, inspect the surface of the flat. Ideally, there should be ribbons (striations) of fat running through the grain in the muscle (see photo). Put two side by side, and you'll notice one probably has more internal fat than the other. The more internal fat, the more flavor and moisture in the final product.
Also check the briskets to see how easily they flex. If they bend easily, that gives you a good idea how tender the final product will be. Beef improves as it ages, and generally a flexible brisket has a little more age, and/or a little less connective tissue.
Pork Shoulder. When selecting meat from the shoulder, whether it be the picnic, the Boston butt, or the whole shoulder, it is a good idea to use a reliable meat packer or butcher that you know gets pork from a good source. Make sure the meat is all-natural. The easiest way to ruin your barbecue is to purchase an enhanced piece of meat. Avoid anything that says "self basting" or "injected with a solution".
Pork is not graded like beef, so it is even more important to know what you are looking for. The meat should be reddish pink, and not light pink. The fat cap should be pearl white, and the meat should have plenty of internal fat. Analyzing the fat content in pork takes a little practice because it all looks fatty to the untrained eye. It always helps to have several to compare. You'll start noticing the fat in certain muscles. Unlike beef, the fat is not always in straight lines embedded in the grain, it is more of an irregular marbling pattern. Try and look at the same muscle in each piece you compare, and you'll notice that some are way more marbled than others. Some of the main "veins" of fat will be thicker. Once you see it, it will be obvious that the hog was eating well and not skipping breakfast. A fat pig is a happy pig, and a happy pig tastes good!
Good luck, and we hope these tips help you in your quest for the perfect BBQ!
Whole spices can retain flavor for extended periods. Once ground, they lose flavor much more quickly.
Spring Cleaning. Time to get rid of your old spices!
Here at Dizzy Pig we've been working intimately with spices for a long time. We are constantly surprised to see people using spices and seasonings that have long passed their prime. You work hard to buy the food you cook with, and you work hard to prepare and cook your meals. There is no reason to season your food with spices that have lost their flavor.
How do you know when it is time to dispose of your spices?
If you purchase your spices whole, they will keep their punch for years. Yet if you have pre-ground spices in your cabinet, they will lose their flavor in a fraction of the time. In general terms, herbs lose their flavor faster than spices that are seeds. The flavor of basil is especially short-lived, but oregano, savory, thyme and rosemary hold on a little longer. Cumin and cinnamon tends to hold its flavor, even when ground, for long periods.
Oftentimes, spices will lose some of their flavor notes, but not others. For example, after a couple of years, pre-ground black pepper still tastes good, but the flavor is much rounder and earthier with less bite. Fresh black pepper actually has several distinct sharp, almost citrus-like flavor compounds that disappear with time. Other spices don't handle the passing of time nearly as well as black pepper, and will develop off flavors. Your choice is to either throw the spices out, or make adjustments to the way you cook with them.
In many cases you can determine whether or not to use the spices by smelling and tasting them, but this can be a difficult gauge unless you can accurately remember what it smelled like fresh! So what's the answer?? If it smells and tastes fresh, and you can remember how it smelled when you opened it, then use it. But when in doubt, throw it out. It's just not worth the risk of ruining your hard-earned meal!
With Dizzy Pig seasonings we have a "Best if Used By Date" on our bottles. It's not a magical date, just an estimate for when the blend has lost enough flavor compounds to be flat or off balance. If the bottle has still not been opened by the Best if Used By Date, and has been kept out of the heat and light, it should still be flavorful. If your jar was opened a year or more before the date, then it is probably time for a fresh jar. In general, for the freshest flavor, Dizzy pig rubs and seasonings should be used within 6 months of opening.
So do your taste buds, your family and your guests a favor this Spring, and ditch the old spices!
Charcuterie, Part 2: A Formula for Success
plus RECIPE Dizzy Pig Apple Cider Pineapple Head Bacon
by Mike Kerslake with a special thanks to Reg Pellitiier
In the last issue of DizzyNews, Mike wrote an informative introduction to curing meats. Now he gets deeper into it! Enjoy.
There have been a small number of recipes on the Dizzy Pig site that incorporate the element of curing of the meat before smoking. These recipes stem from a time when we were just getting into the art and craft of salting, smoking and curing and, as a result, they could use a bit of updating. Look for updates to the Canadian Bacon and Home Cured Ham recipes, as well as introduction of new curing recipes.
Much of the info from those initial Dizzy Pig curing recipes, and also much of the newest information on curing, comes from a relationship I’ve developed with Reg Pelletier, a fellow bbq and meat curing enthusiast here in Canada. Reg lives in Niagara Falls, Ontario and has spent decades in pursuit of all things tasty in the realm of food. Whether it’s meat curing, cheese making, working in a high-volume restaurant, barbecue catering, and contest organizing… pretty much Reg has tried and succeeded at it! For those reasons and more, Reg has been a trusted friend and reliable source of info in all areas food-related.
With the recent surge in general interest in the world of charcuterie and meat curing, Reg and I have been sharing emails and visits in search of the very best ways of getting optimum results in our respective projects. The one area that Reg has really been interested, is in development of a ‘go to’ formula for meat curing that can be shared with the masses. I think he’s found a curing formula that works for him, myself and for many who are looking for some ‘tried-and-true’ guidance in this area, where sometimes the information can be a bit overwhelming.
And, for me, the upside is that we can now share recipes on the Dizzy Pig site that can be tailored to the meat and quantities that you are working with, without the guesswork on reformulating the printed recipe to fit your specific project. To me, that’s a big breakthrough, and for that, we owe Reg a great deal of thanks. So… the first in the series of recipes based on this ‘Formula for Success’, is a winter seasonal bacon project I did recently, which brought together the great flavor profiles of apple cider and pork belly to create a cured bacon. I hope you enjoy this one and other curing recipes coming your way……
The ‘Formula for Success’
- Water/liquid to cover by 1” minimum @ 8.3 lbs per gallon
- Meat weight
- 3% salt (coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt)
- 2% sugar (brown sugar)
- Curing Salts @ 3 grams per kilo (2.2 lb) meat + brine
With above knowledge and a little math skill, you have a virtual fool-proof approach to creating a wet curing brine to make your own hams, bacons, pastrami and other wet cured meat products, regardless of the weight of your individual meat purchase or size of individual curing container! Simply plug in the weight/volume of your meat/brine cover, formulate the salt at 3%, sugar at 2% and do whatever you like in way of flavoring veggies and aromatics. So long as the liquid weight, meat weight and salt/sugar/curing salt percentages are adhered to, your project can be individualized and augmented to taste. If the bit of math seems overwhelming for your particular project, remember there are always weight and measure converter sites online to help you along the way.
What follows is my recipe for the Dizzy Pig Apple Cider Pineapple Head Bacon. I will show you the recipe by following Reg’s ‘Formula for Success’. When you do this recipe for yourself, simply insert your own weight for water/brine and meat used and continue with the recipe, working out your salt content at 3% of your own individual project and 2% sugar of your own recipe as well as cure needed at 3 grams/kilo. Salt must be coarse sea or kosher salt, not table salt and sugar should be brown sugar, not refined white.
One important note to make at this point is that these recipes use curing salts offered under various names: Prague Powder #1, InstaCure #1, Sure Cure #1 or Modern Cure #1. These cures are nitrites at volume of 6.25%/volume bound with salt as a carrier. Ensure that is the level of cure in whatever curing agent you use. The alternative is a product offered by Morton’s in the name of TenderQuick. You CAN use this product for our recipes, but since it is a smaller quantity of curing agent bonded with a larger degree of salt, use ONLY the TenderQuick in place of both salt AND the curing agent called for (i.e. If recipe calls for 1 cup salt and 3 teaspoons curing agent, use JUST 1 cup of TenderQuick in place of salt and curing agent combined).
Dizzy Pig Apple Cider Pineapple Head Bacon
- 3 lb slab boneless pork belly, rind-on
- 4 cups mulled cider, unsweetened
- 4 cups water
- 4 oz salt (coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt)
- 2 1/4 oz brown sugar
- 2 TBSP Dizzy Pig Pineapple Head
- 9.5 grams Cure #1
- 3 lb pork, plus 1/2 gallon liquid at 8.3 lb gallon = 7.15 lb
- 3% salt = .03 X 7.15 for .214 lb, which I rounded up to a light 4 oz
- 2% sugar = .02 X 7.15 for .143 lb, which I rounded to 2.25 oz (.143 X 16 oz/lb = 2.288)
- Cure: 3 grams of cure per every kilo of meat/liquid combined. In our case 7.1 divided by 2.2. lbs/kilo = 3.22 kilos total. 3 grams cure per kilo = 9.66 grams.
Note that I rounded decimals to closest quarter unit for ease of use.
Heat cider, sugar, salt, cure and 1 TBSP of the Pineapple Head rub until salts and sugar are dissolved and flavors are combined. Cool to 35-38°F. In a tight-fitting container cover slab of bacon by at least 1”. Chill for 5 days to allow to cure. Weigh down bacon slab with a non-reactive plate or bowl if necessary to keep submerged (see photo).
Remove and pat dry.
* 1 TBSP Dizzy Pig Pineapple Head on the meat side of the belly.
Hot smoke, rind side down, at 225°F until temperature registered 145-155°F internal.
Let rest and then slide a sharp knife between meat of bacon and the rind. The rind should come off easily without losing any meat. Continue to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until chilled.
Slice and use as you would any store-bought side bacon (but this will be much better). I’ve found shelf life to be about 1week.
We've done what we can to take the mystery out of curing, and we hope that you decide to dive into the world of Charcuterie. This bacon recipe is a great way to get started, and your Dizzy Pig seasonings can provide the flavor boost a good slab of pork needs! If you get anywhere near the satisfaction that we have from curing meats, then we've accomplished our goal!
Hope you enjoy.
Which rub pairs well with spring time dishes?:
Common spring foods:
* Mushrooms- Tsunami Spin
* Asparagus- Shakin’ the Tree
* Strawberries- Pineapple Head
* Ham (For Easter Dinner)- Pineapple Head
* Fennel- Tsunami Spin
* Artichokes- Shakin’ the Tree
* Trout- Shakin’ the Tree
* Salmon- Raging River
* Hamburgers- Red Eye Express or Cow Lick
* Fresh Cut French Fries- Raging River
* Texas Toast- Shakin’ the Tree
* Sweet Potato Fries- Pineapple Head
The Dizzy Pig crew and a bunch of new EGGs ready to cook on!
DizzyFest June 9th!
June 8th Meet & Greet
Anyone that has been to an Eggfest will tell you there is no better way to spend a day, and certainly no better way to eat great food AND watch it being coooked.
We are proud to announce the second semi-annual DizzyFest on June 9th, 2012 in Manassas, VA. DizzyFest is an Eggfest put on by long time Big Green Egg® enthusiasts at the Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company. Sticking with what folks have come to expect from an Eggfest, we will be pre-selling demo Eggs® at generously discounted rates. We'll also be offering 10% off everything we sell in the Dizzy Pig BBQ retail store.
We'll have special cooking guest(s), and several members of the Dizzy Pig BBQ Competition Team, who have brought home 11 Grand Championships on the professional KCBS barbecue circuit. In addition, up to 50 passionate cooks will be cooking their specialties on our demo Eggs. There will be live music and cornhole games set-up on the side.
Special Guests! (to date)
Lee Anne Whippen is the Exectutive Chef/Partner of the new urban BBQ restaurant Chicago q. Lee Ann also owns Wood Chick’s BBQ Restaurants & Catering Company, and is the pitmaster for Wood Chick’s BBQ Competition Cooking Team. She has appeared in numerous TV shows, including TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters”, Food Network’s "Bobby Flay Throwdown” where she won, and on Versus Network’s “National BBQ Championship Series”.
She's also a lot of fun to hang out with. We're glad to have her at DizzFest!
Mike Schweitzer (LawnRanger) is currently the Acting Director of Buildings and Grounds at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. He has been at Trinity since 1991. Mike got his first Big Green Egg® in 2002, and discovered the BGE Forum shortly thereafter. He has been hooked ever since.
In the Summer of 2002, Mike made a gadget called a Gridlifter, and sent the first two prototypes to Chris Capell. This transaction succeeded in atlering LawnRanger's very way of life for the next decade. With Chris' endorsement, sales surpassed the wildest expectations. And with those sales, lifetime friendships were established that otherwise would never have been.
Chris and Dizzy Pig have always been very special to LawnRanger, and recently played an instrumental role in coaxing Mike out of retirement to produce a Limited Edition Gridlifter commemorating the ten years since Chris received the first of, now several thousand, LawnRanger grilling tools.
Registration for our second DizzyFest is limited to 300 people. Registrations are pouring in, so register soon to guarantee your spot, and tell your friends about the great opportunity to get in on a great price on a demo Egg!
See a short video of our first semi-annual DizzyFest last fall:
For more information in DizzyFest and to register, click here. We hope to see you there!!
Joellen Bulgrin is Dizzy Pig’s newest team member and working closely with Heather as a sales team associate. Even though she just started working here, she has been a Dizzy Pig fan for years. Jo was living down in the Bahamas and then Alabama promoting our products because she loved them and our service! In 2011 she relocated a few minutes down the road from Dizzy Pig headquarters. She attended the first DizzyFest in September 2011 and cooked up tasty pierogies with Dizzy Pig Cow Lick on the Big Green Egg with her son Kurt.
We are very happy to have her on board, and you may hear her friendly voice next time you call!
Dear Dizzy Fans,
I bring exciting news about our present and future developments in getting Dizzy Pig into your neighborhood stores and restaurants. For the past couple months we have increased our national presence through social media, print, and online advertisements. We are putting forth extra efforts to ultimately gain new retailers to cut shipping costs for you.
We understand that shipping can be quite pricey, so we would like to ask you, our fans, to help us out. If you have a favorite shop for your grilling supplies, a butcher shop with the best cuts, or a specialty food or small grocery store, then please tell their manager to pick up Dizzy Pig, or refer the store to us using our referral form. Ultimately we want to make it convenient and less costly for all of our customers by growing the number of neighborhood stores that carry Dizzy Pig.
I thank all of you that have liked our Facebook page, Dizzy Pig Seasonings. If you are on Facebook please feel free to use the Dizzy Pig Wall to ask us questions about recipes, cooking tips and any sort of cooking related advice. Even if you just have something interesting to share related to the barbecue world, cooking in general, the great outdoors, or just want rant about how you love life, please go ahead!. We love to hear your thoughts and we will try to respond promptly. There are many great cooks connected to our page that you may find will jump to answer your questions too.
Recently we joined Pinterest, a site that first focused on the sharing of recipes with images that link to the recipe site’s page. Pinterest has recently become a more powerful site that focuses on beautiful images and lets users share ideas by linking those images with the sites that they came from. You may also upload images onto “boards” which are simply searchable categories that contain images. Dizzy Pig has created a multitude of boards and we are focusing mostly on your pictures of food using our rubs, and recipes. If you have any pictures or recipes that you would like to share, please email email@example.com. Please check out our Pinterest page!
There are more stores carrying Dizzy Pig seasonings than ever! You can find them through our locate a dealer link. Since January 2012 we have new dealers in the following cities:
- Tifton, GA
- Jackson, TN
- Oakdale, MN
- Rochester, NY
- Dyer, IN
- Pullman, WA
- St. Maries, ID
- Sanford, FL
- Rockwood, PA
- Galloway, NJ
- Susanville, CA
- Hamptstead, MD
- Leominster, MA
- Valentine, NE
- Helen, GA
- Omaha, NE
- Great Falls, MT
- Brigatine, NJ
- Northfield, NJ
- Linwood, NJ
- Vineland, NJ
Thank you and GET SPUN!
-The Dizzy Pig Sales Team
Polos - Golf Shirt Special
Support your favorite BBQ company and look sharp by sporting our sweet Polo shirt on the golf course this year! As with everything else at Dizzy Pig, we didn't skimp on the quality here. The polos are durable 100% cotton and they feel especially comfy!
Makes a great gift and you can get them at the Dizzy Pig BBQ Store for only $28 through March. Regularly $35.
Stock up on gear AND cooking knowledge at the Dizzy Pig Store. Follow the Store's Facebook page for current info!
Dizzy Pig Store
The Dizzy Pig BBQ and Grilling Store Set for Prime BBQ Season!
If you are in the Washington DC area, come check out the Dizzy Pig store! We're located at 8763 Virginia Meadows Dr, Manassas, VA 20109. It's not far off I-66 and the 234 Prince William Parkway.
Joe, our store manager, has been keeping the store well stocked, and our Dizzy Pig Store Facebook page updated, and it's a great way to find out what exciting new products we are offering. We have already started building our new Competition BBQ section with products that are commonly used in professional contests, and our selection of all types of grilling and bbq accessories is growing every week. Of course, it's a great place to stop in and stock up on our fresh-ground seasonings made here on the premises! Make sure and "like" our store Facebook page, and we hope to talk cooking with you soon here in Manassas! Our experienced staff is always ready to talk BBQ.