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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Know your Meat Man

Well folks; today I'm going to talk about some things I've learned since I began working for Schnucks Market at the meat case. The number one thing is that you should get to know the person behind the meat case where you are buying your meat. This person should become your friend. Learn their name and make sure they know yours. This person should be able to help you find the best cuts of meat, and just as important they know where the deals are.

Sounds like common sense, we like dealing with people we know and like, so making friends with the person you're buying meat from just makes sense.  Now to rule #2  buy from the meat case as much you can. The meat that is in the meat case is going to be the best cuts and is often the freshest. The cut that are less then perfect are wrapped and put in the self serve case. It does not cost more to buy from the meat case and you will get personal service and advice for free, also you can get items wrapped for the freezer just for the asking.

Rule #3 ask for advice. Be it how to cook a certain cut of meat or which cut is the best. The person behind the case should be able to guide you to the cut that will provide you the best tasting and also the best value for whatever you are preparing. Now not every meat case will be manned by a expert on how to cook every dish, but they should know enough if you tell them what you are trying to cook to guide you to the best cut, or know where to get the answer.

Rule #4, ask where are the deals? Thats right ask for a deal, the person on the case knows what they are overstocked in and has been marked down to sell quickly. If they know you and you are a regular  they are happy to share this info to their best customers. Also ask if you don't see what you want in the case. Often space in the meat case is limited so some cuts may not be on display and are only in the self serve case. Ask for a fresh cut to your specs. for a regular it isn't a problem and they should be happy to provide you what you want. Remember you have become a friend, and a regular to their case.

Last but not least when you get the extra service, be sure to say THANKS, a smile and a Thank you, will only make them want to give you that extra service next time.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Most Important BBQ Tool

Well folks, today I'm going to tell you what I think is the most important tool everyone needs to be a good pit master.  It's a thermometer. I'm asked a lot for advice on how to make good BBQ, and every time I end up talking about temperature. I'll talk about the temperature of the fire and at what temperature you need to turn the meat or the temperature you need to foil. Every time I grill or smoke I always need to know the temperature of the grill or the meat I have on the pit.

Now there are a lot of different thermometers on  the market. The most important thing with any of them is they must be accurate. The easiest test is boiling water or melting ice water test.  Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and ice melts at 32 degrees. To test your thermometer boil a pot of water and see what the thermometer reads. It should read 212 degrees if it doesn't and the thermometer has the ability to be adjusted you should adjust it to read 212. The ice water test is just as easy. Get a glass of water with crushed ice and place the thermometer in the glass being careful not to have the probe touch the side or the bottom of the glass. It should read 32 degrees. Again if it doesn't, adjust until it reads 32 degrees.

Now there are many different types of thermometers on the market, at all price points. The old adage you get what you pay for holds true here. The cheaper the thermometer the chance of it giving a false reading increases. The cheaper thermometers are also slower in response time. I have a Thermapen that I won, and have to say it is wonderful. But at $90.00 retail it better be, fast and accurate. I also have a remote that I purchased at a big box store for $16.00. It is great for keeping track of the temperature of the  big meats when doing a long cook. When it works its great but I have went though about 4 of them and I'm starting to think I need to spend the extra dollars and get one that last longer and has a longer distance range. There are also the simple probe thermometers that are on the market ranging  price from under $20.00

Whatever you chose is up to you and your budget, just make sure its is accurate and use it. You must know the temperature of your grill /smoker and the temperature of your meat to have a successful cook. Guessing will only lead you to under cooked meat or over cooked dry and tough meat. Because when you know the temperature you can concentrate on seasoning and smoke flavors, and injections and all the other things that can make your BBQ taste great. But first you have to know the temperature.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sauce Review

Well folks, I'll start this post with a disclaimer. Frank Schmer is a customer and a friend so when he introduced his new sauce Frank's Freedom Sauce he gave me a bottle to try. I'll tell you the truth, if I didn't like this sauce I wouldn't say anything negative, I just wouldn't say anything. Luckily I get to tell you about a great sauce that I truly loved. There is one problem and I'll tell you that at the end of this post. I have told Frank and he is working to correct it.

Now to the sauce, Frank's Freedom Sauce is  only available in pint size jars. The label is something from the 1960's with the Hippy Peace symbol  and smiley faces. I liked it since the 60's are when I grew up.Woodstock happen along with the anti war movement and free love was the theme. Checking the label  it states that it is a cherry and apple blend bbq sauce. A check of the ingredients and the first ingredient is cherries, along with light brown sugar. So this sauce has something different from the norm. as cherries are leading the way. For the Apple part Frank is using applesauce. The applesauce make this sauce a little thick, not too thick but it is thicker than most bbq sauces on the market. The sauce has a nice dark red color and I found it to make my food look good when applied.

The first test for the sauce was when I got home and opened the jar. I took a spoon and tried just a small taste. I could tell the sweetness right away and noticed the thickness. It was good by itself but the  real test is will it make my bbq taste better. Next my wife grilled some bone in chicken breast while I was at work. I asked her to baste them with some of Frank's Freedom Sauce for our first taste test.WOW were we happy with what this sauce added to the chicken. I really couldn't get enough of this flavor. The next morning I fixed bacon. I LOVE BACON,  Bacon doesn't need much help in my book, but this time I added some of Frank's Freedom Sauce to my Bacon sandwich. Again this sauce made my food taste better. The next test was my ribs, I take a lot of pride in my ribs. I feel they are what I do best. I love cooking them and I have a routine that I use to produce what I think are some great ribs. So to be my go to sauce Frank's Freedom Sauce had to add something to my ribs. Got to say it did, great flavor, It added something to everything I tried the sauce on.

Since talking to Frank I found that a few competition teams are using the sauce in competitions. That means a lot. Because people that compete want to win.  A contest will cost a team anywhere from $500.00 to $1000.00 to enter. That is the cost of entry fees, travel expense,cost of meat and supplies. Teams spending that kind of money wants to hear their name called and get a check to help pay for the hobby of competition BBQ. Teams using a sauce in competition is a heck of a endorsement

Now to my only complaint. Frank's Freedom Sauce is not cheap. At $7.99 for a pint jar that puts it in the high priced area for most backyard pit masters. I know producing a sauce in small batches is going to be costly and using top ingredients add to the cost.  Frank is working reducing the cost and by producing larger batches he is hopeful that he will be able to reduce the retail price.

Bottom line,I found that Frank's Freedom Sauce is worth the price and I would urge you all to stop by St Louis Home Fires and pick up a jar. It will make your BBQ Better.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Helping People

Well folks it's been awhile since I have written anything to this blog. The truth is I have been busy with a new job and I had run out of things to say that I thought you may enjoy. But for those that have read this blog or follow me on facebook know I still have the passion for BBQ and I still lean to left in my politics. I believe we all owe our fellow man help when they find their self in need. So with that I had a idea for a new post. That is to ask you to support an new  non profit called Operation Barbeque Relief.

Operation Barbeque Relief came about after the tornado hit Joplin Missouri. You see people that BBQ at competitions can set up in a open field or a parking lot and start producing great tasting food quickly. We don't need electric and we can bring our own water supply.  So when a disaster hits a area BBQ teams can go there and set up their pits and be feeding people that have lost their homes, and also those that are volunteers that are there to help clean up. We very often have our pits and equipment ready to go and can hit the road in a short period of time.  So while the Red Cross is known for responding to areas that have been hit by disasters to help those in need find shelter and help them start the plan to get the aid they need. Operation Barbeque Relief can start feeding them and offer their encouragement.

Now a group like this needs to have some help paying for the food and supplies needed to feed those in need. It takes a lot of pans and charcoal, plate and utensils to put out a good meal to folks. That is the reason I'm writing this blog. When you see  people in need and wonder how you can help, this group is doing a great job and can use your help. Go to  and make a donation, you will be giving to a group that is doing a great job helping those in need.