Summer grilling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It’s primal, a little dangerous, and it creates amazing foods. I like to think of myself as an above average cook but when it comes to grilling, it’s usually a steak, a burger, or some sausages. I haven’t dipped my toes into the world of smoking meats but I always wanted to. Luckily for us, we happen to have an expert at our office.
Rob Chambers, from our HR Department, just so happens to be a professional BBQ pitmaster and we were lucky enough to have him showcase his skills in person. Rob started off like a lot of us – someone who enjoyed BBQ and wanted to learn how to do it. He frequently smoked meat and BBQed.
One day, his friend Jon asked if he would be interested in competitive BBQ. Neither of them had competed before but they wanted to see what it was all about and entered a competition. It’s been about four years since they first competed and they continue to grow and place very highly in the competitions they enter.
I know I’m not the only one who has seen videos online of BBQed meats and wish they could take a bite right then and there. This was my first time being around a pitmaster cooking and he showed me a lot of tips and tricks to get the best end products.
Rob brought in a variety of meats to show what he can do with chicken, pork, and beef.
Chicken is ubiquitous and there are so many different ways to prepare it. When I BBQ though, I tend to stay away from it because more times than not, it turns out to be pretty dry and a little bland. When a BBQ pitmaster does chicken however, it is a flavorful and juicy bite every time. Unlike the one flip method that I’ve always been told was the correct way to grill, Rob lets the smoke do the job and makes sure the heat generated is consistent and at the specific temperature he wants.
Prior to grilling, the chicken is cleaned and trimmed. Meaning, it is rinsed off with water to freshen the meat. Using a knife or scissors, the chicken is trimmed to remove any excess skin or bone. Next, a dry rub would be added to coat the entire piece of chicken to ensure even flavor distribution. It would be preferred to let the dry rub set into the chicken for at least 30 minutes prior to adding it on the grill. There is not much flipping with chicken, however rotation does help.
I have loved ribs since I was a young boy watching the Flintstones car tip over on TV. I will order ribs the majority of the time if they are available. I have had them in all different styles in my travels but there is something very special about BBQed ribs because many times, the sauce is usually the prevailing flavor. The way pitmasters like Rob make them however, has the meat as the prevailing flavor enhanced by the aromas of smoke.
Same process as chicken for clean and trim. However, most ribs have a thin layer of membrane that will need to be removed on the back end of the rib. This can be done by pulling it off with a spoon and paper towel. From there, dry rub would be added to both sides of the meat and smoked with hickory wood. A few flips would help with the ribs, however once they have a good color on them, they would be wrapped in aluminum foil with butter and honey until they are at the right internal temperature.
The skirt steak was chosen because it’s a thinner cut of beef that would cook faster for all the hungry people at our office but many of the principles here work for thicker cuts too. While the chicken and ribs rested, I was able to observe Rob cooking the steak and ask some of the questions that I had.
First, I noticed that he was only using charcoal; I asked why he didn’t use propane (and propane accessories). It’s the kind of grill I have in my backyard and they seemed to be the most popular. Rob really likes the flavors charcoal imparts and he says he can actually taste the gas when it’s cooked on a gas grill. Maybe it’s because I grew up eating stuff made off gas grills but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what gas flavor he was talking about. If you notice those flavors, this may be the method of grilling you’ve been looking for!
Rob also showed me how to cook with an indirect heat method. The meat was never directly above the coals and he tried to keep the lid on the grill closed as much as possible. This ensures a nice even cook through and avoids the dreaded grey layer on steaks. I always liked a nice sear and char on my steaks but Rob’s steaks came out looking very different than what I make at home. It had a very appetizing browning and in certain lights, had the brighter red tones you might see in jerky. This got me wondering, “what do judges at BBQ competitions actually looked for?” Rob explained to me that although taste is very important, they are scored on consistency in competition. They will grill multiple pieces of meat but they pick the best looking piece(s) and send it in for judging. It has to look great, taste great, and have the perfect “chew” on it.
[When it comes to the perfect chew] it would be preferred to have a perfect bite through. This means that once you bite into the meat, there is barely any pull and [for chicken] you are taking skin with you on the chew. Basically like biting into a piece of bread and seeing your teeth marks.
I learned a lot from Rob and after talking to and watching him grill, I am excited to try his methods at home this 4th of July. Although mastering grilling will be very difficult, talking to Rob showed me it wasn’t quite as intimidating to start. It might be a while before I am confident enough to try my hand at the more expensive cuts of meat but I am looking forward to the day when I can smoke me some beef ribs and channel my inner Fred Flintstone.
January marks the beginning of a new year. We hear it all too often – this is our year – I’m going to become a completely different person – say goodbye to the old me, say hello to the new me.
Obviously this rarely happens. You create some vague arbitrary goal that you don’t really have a plan for or set waypoints to follow along that journey. One of the biggest New Year’s goals is to “be healthy”. That is such a large all-encompassing goal, that it’s hard even thinking where to start. We here at Lakeshore Beverage are composed of all different kinds of people, and plenty of us have thought about drinking things that are “better for you”.
What is “Better For You”? Well, that too is an all-encompassing label. But in reality, it breaks up into several different things. For Lakeshore Beverage, “Better For You” could mean beverages that are lighter in carbohydrates and calories, it could mean real, minimal, and non-processed ingredients, lower alcohol content, or no alcohol content at all. You might be looking at some, or all of these things.
“Better For You” is really up to the person making the journey, and we here at Lakeshore Beverage want to help by providing you options and information to help you along.
And hey, even though this only covers the beverage part of your health, you can take the momentum and apply it to other parts of your journey.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
It’s the start of a brand new year. A chance to begin anew, create new resolutions to become a healthier, better you. It is time to turn over a new leaf and-
Wait, how many times have you heard this before? A lot, probably.
And for good reason – most people give up on their “better for you” resolutions within a month or so. Why? Because they’re not specific enough in their goals. “Becoming healthier” is such a broad term. It could very well mean anything. Consuming fewer calories or carbs, working out more, drinking less alcohol. It’s endless.
Well, your friends at Lakeshore Beverage can help you out with your New Years’ goals. We compiled a list of healthier choices for drinks. Whether you want to drink fewer carbs, or maybe add some probiotics to your diet, we have something to help you out in your health journey, whether it’s January 1st or June 17th, because it’s never a wrong time to start drinking better.
In previous years Goose Island would invite the media to the Goose Island Barrel Warehouse on the west side of Chicago, where they would taste through all of the variants of Bourbon County. Obviously this year, things looked different. Instead of meeting in person, they sent out tasting kits and did a virtual tasting over Zoom with Goose Island President Todd Ahsmann, Brewmaster Keith Gabbett, R&D Manager Mike Siegel and Senior Brand Manager Mike Smith. While the setting was different, the beers were still the star of the show, and this year they absolutely did not disappoint.
Also if you are looking to stay updated on how to get your hands on this year’s Bourbon County CLICK HERE
Happy Pi Day!!! To celebrate we made a KBS French Silk Pie, and now that KBS is available year-round, so can you! Here’s the recipe, enjoy!
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped bitter chocolate)
24 large marshmallows
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup KBS
1/3 cup heavy cream or evaporated or condensed skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ready-made butter-cookie-crumb or graham-cracker pie crust
Place chocolate chips, marshmallows, and salt in a medium bowl.
In two separate saucepans, heat Stout and heavy cream until very hot but not boiling. (Don’t heat them together in one container, or the cream will curdle.)
Pour the Stout and cream over the chocolate and marshmallows and let sit for 5 minutes. Gently whisk together to thoroughly blend. Add the vanilla and bourbon (if using), continuing to whisk until very smooth.
Pour the mixture into the crust and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or until firm.
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons premium bourbon
In a medium bowl, whip cream until soft mounds form. Gradually add sugar, whipping until cream forms stiff peaks. Gently fold in bourbon. Chill until ready to serve.
And Finally the most important step. DIG IN!!!