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How do you experiment?

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Post Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:33 pm
harry_canyon well done
well done

Posts: 645
Location: Hayward, CA
Mostly things that have already been mentioned here...

- Make a recipe exactly the first time, then tweak for future versions.

- Cookbooks of all kinds. (As a few have said, if you can cook it in the oven/broiler, what-have-you, why not on the grill?)

- Items I have on hand (either in 'the pantry' or the garden).

- What's on sale. :D

- Swapping ingredients. For example: I used Steven's recipe for Jalapeno Jerk Ribs (BBQ USA) with chicken (in our opinion, dark meat worked better than white). I skipped the glaze and kept the cayenne to a bar minimum. (I love 'heat' but this was for my son's 5th birthday. :)

- Whatever flavor happens to be my favorite at the time. (I'm really into dill for some reason lately.)

Take care,

Always keep an open mind. But not so open that your brain falls out.

Post Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:33 am

Posts: 4
Location: Gonzales,La
Honestly, I get a lot of my ideas from tailgating at sporting events. I see people cooking things I haven't seen before or haven't had a lot of experience with and I think " I can do that".

Post Tue Jul 07, 2009 10:22 pm
Old Smoker well done
well done

Posts: 1271
Location: Charlotte, NC

usually when my wife isn't around,she keeps asking "Just what are you doing now?" I'll tweek a recipe or method I've either seen or read here,in books,tv the web and just sometimes from talking with other people. I probably experiment with left overs more than anything because some people just won't eat the same thing twice. Lots of trial and error as well, just because one ingrediant smells good and one tastes good doesn't always mean they'll taste good together.
22.5 WSM - Chargriller
I cook to eat not to compete

Post Sat Jul 18, 2009 5:28 pm
BBQ Mzungu rare

Posts: 26
Location: Uganda, Africa
Well, I certainly don't recomend this for everyone, but I experiment because about 6 months ago I and my family moved to a 3rd world country in the middle of Africa. After that, experimenting is required. Why? Because nothing is the same here. BBQ is not a cooking style that is done here. Sure, nearly the entire nation cooks outside over a fire, but they boil or steam almost every bit of it.

So that leaves me creating most everything I need.

Challenges (stuff I can't buy):
Briquettes. I buy homemade lump from yards along the road.
BBQ sauce. Have to make my own.
Ketchup currently. All the stores are out until a shipment comes from S Africa.
Corn syrup, but I can get sugar cane syrup (stronger flavor)
Tomato sauce, paste only
Onion powder
Liquid smoke
Any smoking wood you've ever used (no hickory, mesquite, oak, alder, pecan, maple, apple, etc.) as they don't grow here.
Cheese. Ugandans don't like dairy products so they don't sell it.

Not practical (stuff too expensive to buy on a missionary's budget):
Factory BBQ unit. Hibachi's are over $100, Small Webers $500 (the big ones are expensive :shock: ), so I had a local welder make the BBQ barrel equivelant of Frankenstein for about $75. Picts will follow.
BBQ tools. Tried to get some tongs, over $25 each. I'll use a fork and burn my hand, thanks. Rib racks are about $50 each, but ribs are more expensive than tenderloin anyway.
Bacon. I can get back bacon for only $8 lb. I don't use it often :shock: .
Most western fruits (grapes, berries, cherries, pears,). I saw pomagranits the other day for $22 EACH! Apples and oranges are exceptions. Granny Smiths and seeded oranges are available.

Opportunities (stuff I can experiment with):
Beef is the cheap meat. Tenderloin is about $2.25 lb. To make up for that a scrawny chicken is $7.
Fruit markets you can't imagine. The pinapple and bananas were picked this morning. Those pinapple are less than 25 cents a lb. I can buy fruit you've never even heard of, let alone cooked with and eaten. The avacados are so big the pits are larger than most whole avacados in the States.
I can buy fresh cut sugar cane from walking vendors while I wait in traffic.
I can smoke with any tropical hardwood you've ever heard of (and some you haven't). I just need to figure out what works 'cuz most of it isn't in any grill books.
Nobody here (except fellow Americans) has ever tasted BBQ so mine actually is the best they've ever eaten. 8)

I think I've got a lot of fun ahead of me.

BBQ Mzungu

Post Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:00 am
Shawn rare

Posts: 12
Location: Wisconsin

Being a newbie most of my "experiments" have come from Steven's shows.

This weekend I did salt and pepper beef ribs, since it was my first time it was something easy. I also did his Grilled Pound Cake with Pineapple "Salsa" and Tequila Whipped Cream.

I'm a heater (love the hot stuff) but the family is not so I had to remove the jalapeño peppers and substituted the tequila with Baileys Irish Cream

On Sunday, my biggest accomplishment, Smoked "Hawaii," the pineapple mixed with ice cream, topped with maringue and grilled in the pineapple shell.

Other than that I just mess around with stuff, I made breakfast: eggs, toast, bacon just to see if it could be done. The rest is from whatever meat my wife buys. Also the kid caught some fish so we cedar plank grilled it last night.

Post Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:14 pm
ricktoyota73 medium

Posts: 107
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
I am going to smoke some country ribs this weekend and attempt to turn them into pulled pork. I figure it should work because they are almost the same cut as a pork shoulder. I figure the smaller pieces may allow for a much shorter cook time than a whole shoulder. I'll make a post with pictures as I'm working on it tomorrow.
Char-Griller Super Pro With Side Fire Box
Weber One Touch Silver 22 1/2"
Brinkmann Smoke'N Grill

Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 4:15 pm
laetbrix raw

Posts: 9
Location: Palmyra, VA
I like to try different combinations of woods. Usually use mesquite or Pecan with different types of fruit woods. :lol:
Weber 22 1/2" one touch
Royal Oak offset smoker

Post Sat Dec 05, 2009 10:38 am
Mutt medium-rare

Posts: 74
Location: California
I like to try new rubs different woods just the normal lol

Post Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:17 am
BBQKing medium-rare

Posts: 96
Location: Phoenix(Laveen) Arizona
Looking and reading one of my BBQ Bibles works for me. Plus I love to d omy own thing. Funky add ons to other recipes. And a few of my own.
If it can't be smoked, it's not worth eating!

Post Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:36 pm
Barker rare

Posts: 21
Location: New Jersey
This is a great post.

I am happy to read about so many other folks out there that poor over cookbooks. I read and re-read my grilling and smoking books marking recipes I want to try as I go along. Whenever I get a free day, I pull a recipe that I have all of the ingredients for and go at it. On other days, I will try modifying the recipe to make it my own or give it a regional flavor.

I have also started baking beans and veggies on my smoker. Beans are great. :D Veggies however, still in process. :(

My only problem with any of this is my neighbor. He protests the smoke in his yard from time to time. :evil:
Rick Barker
Garden State BBQ

Post Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:06 pm
Mutt medium-rare

Posts: 74
Location: California
My only problem with any of this is my neighbor. He protests the smoke in his yard from time to time.

Invite him over and maybe that will cure the problem.

Post Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:07 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
BBQ Deputy
BBQ Deputy

Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Barker wrote:
My only problem with any of this is my neighbor. He protests the smoke in his yard from time to time. :evil:

Give the guy a rack of ribs or some brisket next time you cook. Nothing works like a tasty bribe. :D

Of course this can also backfire. I've got a couple neighbors who make a beeline for my place every time they hear me pull out the Outlaw. Kinda like a cat when it hears a can opener, in fact, but at least these guys bring their own meat. :D
Unlike propane, you'll never wake up scorched and naked in another county because you mishandled a bag of briquettes.

Post Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:09 pm
Mutt medium-rare

Posts: 74
Location: California
I've got a couple neighbors who make a beeline for my place every time they hear me pull out the Outlaw.

LOL I have some neighbors that are sota doing the same. They just cant afford nothing but when they smell my smoker going they will keep looking over the fence drooling lol worse then thier dang dogs do lol.

Post Wed Dec 23, 2009 2:19 pm
Barker rare

Posts: 21
Location: New Jersey
Give the guy a rack of ribs or some brisket next time you cook. Nothing works like a tasty bribe. :D

Of course this can also backfire. I've got a couple neighbors who make a beeline for my place every time they hear me pull out the Outlaw. Kinda like a cat when it hears a can opener, in fact, but at least these guys bring their own meat. :D (EDIT: I fixed the quote for you, Barker)

I will give it a try. Perhaps with a group of the other neighbors. Hope it works. Won't happen till spring.
Rick Barker
Garden State BBQ

Post Thu Jan 07, 2010 8:36 am
jfm0830 well done
well done

Posts: 2638
This was a fun thread to read.

When I got serious about my grilling 6 years ago I started with HTG, this site and the BBQU TV show. It helped me realize all the great things you could do on the grill. I quickly picked up BBQ USA & BBQ Bible. My progression was I'd learn a how to make a certain food type in HTG and then try all of the regional variations in BBQ USA. I will admit I didn't touch BBQ Bible too much back then.

Along the way I picked up a smoker and more cookbooks on low and slow que. Also as friends and family started eating what I made, they started giving me more cookbooks. The biggest thing I did was clean the slate in terms of what I supposedly "liked" and "didn't like". As I started expanding what I cooked I was faced with ingredients that I traditionally "didn't like". I tend to try to follow recipes exactly the first time out to get an idea what they are supposed to taste like. So I used these things I "didn't like" and found they weren't so bad after all. About three years ago I decided I would try anything and everything at least once-even things I didn't like in the past. This has made a great difference in what I eat. It helped get me into more international cuisine. I've fallen in love with lots of international foods with their new and different combinations of herbs and spices. BBQ Bible is now the first Steven Raichlen book I look in.

A little over a year ago I quit my job and I went off on my own. As a result I got nearly four hours of my life back not commuting into Boston every day. This free time during the week can be used to grill or smoke during the week. I've tried to make myself use this time to try new things.

That is the big picture and now a few specifics on what helps me experiment.:

-Each year for the last 4 or 5 years I have been trying to push myself to try new things in terms of recipes and food groups. But whenever I can I try to find new things to make each time out.

-My website. I love photography and outdoor cooking. About 4 years ago I started documenting what I make in pictures and describing some of what I've learned in my blog. No reason other than it allowed me to combine two hobbies I enjoy. But writing about it has also caused me to think more about what I do and helped me push myself in new directions. Working from home and being able to cook during the week, combined with wanting to always try new things has made for an explosion of content this year. This year alone I added new sections for Quesadilas, Kebabs & Grilled Salads. For anyone interested the link to my Grilllin' & Smokin' site is down in my signature.

-I love pouring through cookbooks looking for something new. I used to avoid the international recipes as they were out of my comfort zone. Now I often seek them out first. My Grilling and BBQ cookbooks threaten to overflow a 4' shelf.

-Getting to know your butcher. I've shared pictures of various meats I've cooked with the butchers who sold it to me. They take great interest and are a wealth of information. When I come in they will often tip me off to something new and different.

-On the weekends I often make things for both sides of my family. My family on Saturday and my wife's on Sunday. I don't like to do things for the first time for others in case I blow it big time. So I will take a 2 or 3 tiered approach. During the week it for me only for lunch, then make it for my wife and I later in the week for supper, and then make it on the weekend for others. But I usually make it at least once during the week before trotting it out on the weekend. This way I can try new things, and work out any kinks before victimizing others. The reality is these days things rarely go wrong, but it makes things go more smoothly when I am making it for a larger group.This allows me to experiment, but feel more comfortable doing it.

-One of the great things about this hobby is you can share the results with others. Both my parents and my wife's parents have gotten to the point where they've been eating the same thing over and over again for years. They also say everything tastes the same to them after a while. The exception to this is the new things I've been making, which have all sorts of new fresh herbs and spices or are new food types they've never had at all. It is exciting for them to try new things as it gets them out of their routines. This has been a unexpected incentive for me to experiment, not to mention my wife and I enjoy the results too.

Last edited by jfm0830 on Thu Jan 07, 2010 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.


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