Saturday, October 20, 2012

How To Make a Fatty Piston

In an earlier article, we talked about fatties - bacon wrapped smoked meat heaven! Friend and fellow competitor, Arthur Aguirre of Major League Grilling is pretty much a master of the Fatty. Arthur regularly contributes to Scott Thomas' highly popular website I decided to give one of Arthur's recipes, the famous Blueberry Muffin Fatty, a try this weekend.

In Arthur's recipe, he makes use of a very unique tool called a "Fatty Piston". The Fatty Piston is designed to compress the ingredients used as stuffing for a fatty into a log. The log is then frozen in order to maintain it's shape. When you are ready to construct the Fatty, you simply remove the log of stuffing from the freezer, place it on the flattened square of sausage and roll it up - voilĂ ! The Fatty Piston is incredibly easy to construct and best of all, you can get everything you need at your local hardware store for less that $10. Let's get started!

Fatty Piston Materials
The fatty piston is entirely constructed with PVC schedule 40 pipe and pressure fittings that are commonly used in irrigation, sprinkler systems, swimming pools and cold water supply lines. 

Here is what you will need (pictured at right):

2" PVC Pipe (cut to 10" length)
1/2" PVC Pipe (cut to 12" length)
1 1/4" PVC Cap
1 1/4" to 1/2" PVC Adapter
1" PVC Cap
1" to 1/2" PVC Adapter
2" Knock Out Plug (quantity of 2)

The first step is to cut the PVC pipe to the specified lengths above. Both Lowes and Home Depot have the 2" and the 1/2" PVC pipes pre-cut to 2 foot lengths. If you don't have a hacksaw, they will cut the pipe to length for you at no charge. I bought 2 foot of 2" PVC and cut it into two 10" tubes so that I could make and freeze two logs at a time. These 10" tubes are the cylinders that you will fill with the ingredients that will be compressed into the log and then frozen. Next cut the 1/2" pipe in half and saved the other half in case you want to make another piston. The 1/2" pipe is actually the drive shaft for piston you will use to compress the stuffing ingredients into the cylinder. The next steps involve assembling the piston.

PVC Caps and Adapters
Assembled Handle & Head
Fully Assembled Piston

First we will assemble the piston handle and the piston head. For the piston handle, insert the 1" to 1/2" PVC Adapter into the 1" PVC Cap. Then for the piston head, insert the 1 1/4" to 1/2" PVC Adapter into the 1 1/4" PVC Cap. The final step is to attach the assembled handle and head to the 12 inch section of 1/2" inch PVC (the drive shaft) thus creating the Piston. All of the parts fit quite snugly so there is no need to use PVC cement. Assemble as shown above.

Insert Knock Out
Pack Ingredients
To use the fatty piston, simply insert one of the knock out plugs into the bottom of the 2" PVC cylinder. Stand the cylinder upright and begin adding your stuffing ingredients. Each time you add an inch or two of ingredients, use the piston to pack them tight. You will want to pack your ingredients until they are about 1 1/2 inches from the top of the cylinder. Then you simply cap the top of the cylinder with the other knock out plug and place the entire cylinder upright in your freezer.

When you are ready to construct the Fatty, remove the knock out plugs from the top and bottom of the cylinder (I use a butter knife to pry off the knock outs). Then use the piston to push the log of ingredients out of the cylinder.

There you have it! A very simple tool that you can build at home and use to stuff your fatty with just about anything. And today for me, that stuffing will be Blueberry Muffins and Mrs. Buttersworth Syrup!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Making Your Own BBQ Sauce

A couple months back, we had a post on making your own BBQ rubs. Probably the most requested topic since that post has been "How to Make Your Own BBQ Sauce". Today, that's just what we are going to do. 

When most people think about their favorite BBQ sauce, what comes to mind is a thick sauce red to brown in color that is sweet and tangy with just touch of heat. This type of sauce is typically referred to as Kansas City style. Most of the BBQ sauces you find in your local supermarket are Kansas City style sauces. If you take a look at the ingredients you will find almost all of them have a tomato component (ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, etc), a sweet component (sugar, honey, molasses, etc), a tangy component (vinegar, lemon juice, etc), some sort of liquid flavoring (Worcestershire, liquid smoke, soy sauce, etc,) and various spices (bbq seasoning, garlic, onion, and peppers such as black, white, crushed red, etc). In a nutshell, they are tomato-based, sweet and tangy and vary in degree of spiciness. Since this the most popular style of BBQ sauce, this is kind of sauce we will focus on making today. Let's get started!

Just like in making rubs, I like to start every BBQ sauce recipe with a trinity consisting of a ketchup, sugar and vinegar (tomato, sweet and tangy). Then I make a list of the flavors and spices that will round out the recipe.

For this recipe, we are going to start by blending the sweet, tangy and spice components and then develop that into a sauce. I like to use fresh ingredients where possible and included them as options in the ingredient list below. In a large sauce pan, add the following:
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup clover honey or honey blend
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water (can omit this if you like a thicker sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice concentrate or juice from 2 medium size lemons
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated onion or 1 small white onion finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated garlic or 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of barbeque spice (McCormick or Weber are best)
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring these ingredients to boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. You want to stir the entire time until the sugars have melted and then stir frequently enough to keep the mixture from burning as it comes to a boil. If it gets too thick and/or starts to burn the bottom of your pan add some more water.

Next we will add the tomato base and other flavoring components. Stir in the following:
  • 1 24 oz bottle of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
Simmer this sauce for another hour or so.

Now is when it really get's fun and where you can get creative an tailor the sauce to your own palate. NOTE: You will want to write down everything you do to tweak your sauce - trust me! I have created some masterpieces that I have not been able to duplicate because I skipped this crucial step!

Give your sauce a taste test. Is it too thin or too thick? Is is too sweet or not sweet enough? Is it too tangy or not tangy enough? Does it need more heat?  Depending on your palate, you can now adjust the sauce and create your own masterpiece. Below are some suggestions.

If your sauce is not thick enough, add a small (6 oz) can of tomato paste. This will thicken the sauce without drastically changing the flavor. Add molasses and tomato paste to thicken and sweeten. Add vinegar and tomato paste to thicken and make it tangier. Add 2 cans of tomato paste, and equal parts of vinegar and molasses to thicken and make it sweeter and tangier. Start with 1/4 cup of molasses and/or vinegar depending on what you are trying to adjust. And remember each time you add something, STIR BEFORE TASTING AGAIN AND WRITE IT DOWN! Finally, you can also simmer the sauce a couple hours longer to reduce the liquid if it is still not thick enough after making adjustments.

If your sauce is too thick, add some water to thin it without drastically changing the flavor. Add apple juice to thin and sweeten. Add vinegar thin and to increase the tanginess. Add equal parts of vinegar and apple juice to thin and both sweeten and make tangy. Start with 1/4 cup depending on what needs to be adjusted. Each time you add something, REMEMBER TO STIR BEFORE TASTING AGAIN AND WRITE IT DOWN!

Finally, it is time to adjust the heat. I intentionally left a couple ingredients out of the initial batch which is where I usually add my spicy components. The reason I left them out is that it is very difficult to tame the heat in a BBQ sauce if you make it too hot from the get go and I have a high tolerance for heat so I am the wrong person to ask if something is spicy or not.

If you really like it hot, then add just a teaspoon of crushed red pepper in the very first step and we can adjust and make hotter in this last step. I recommend using a hot sauce like Frank's red hot or Tabasco sauce to kick up the heat. If you are a maniac for pain like me, use Dave's Insanity or Ghost Chili sauce to really kick up the heat! I suggest thoroughly stirring the hot sauce in a teaspoon at time testing after each dose until you get the heat where you want it. This is really the best way to ensure the heat ends up just right for you! OH - AND REMEMBER TO WRITE IT DOWN!

Last but not least, there are a number of other ingredients you can incorporate into the very first step to add sweetness, tanginess, flavors and spice. For sweetness, I have used Karo syrup dark or light, white sugar, turbinado sugar, agave nectar and even maple syrup. For tanginess, I have used different kinds of vinegars (balsamic, tarragon, rice, red wine, white wine), wines, beer and citrus juices. For flavors you can add bourbon, broths (chicken, beef), chocolate sauce, coffee, mustard, pepper jellies and soda pop. And for spices, I like using allspice, cinnamon, chili seasonings, chipotle chili powder, dehydrated peppers and mustard powder to name a few.

The recipe I have given you is a great starting point for you to create a wonderful BBQ sauce ... as long as you remember to WRITE DOWN YOUR CHANGES :) Please enjoy and please share your recipes! I am looking forward to hearing about your creations!