Archive for March, 2011

Goose Candy

Smoking goose. On my to-do list.

I had an interesting conversation with the butcher a few weeks ago about barbecuing a goose.  “Is goose actually any good,” I asked.  “Yeah, it’s terrific,” he said.  “Ok, then,” I said, “so why then do I never see anybody buying, cooking or serving goose anywhere outside of a Charles Dickens book?”

Yeah. Good question, right? It’s not like geese, or their poop, are hard to find.

The butcher tossed some ideas out there.  It’s too rich for most people?  Most people would rather have a turkey or a duck, he also suggested.  Or, relative to other birds, geese aren’t the easiest thing to cook, maybe?

But finally, he surrendered, and said the same thing I had been saying all along: Who knows.

So  I’ve been threatening my family with barbecued goose ever since.   My logic: When Ebenezer Scrooge realized life was good, did he declare “I want a chicken!”  No, he most certainly did not.  Scrooge  wanted to celebrate life with a goose for dinner, for cryin’ out loud.   And so do I.

(Actually, someone should tell me if the whole goose thing actually happens in the book. I’m mostly familiar with Bill Murray’s Scrooge in “Scrooged,” Michael Caine’s Scrooge in “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” and of course Scrooge McDuck, who I’m pretty sure never wanted to eat a goose. But I digress.)

Anyway, get this. I’m standing in a conference room at Microsoft when my barbecue-loving colleague Brian walks in and says “Goose candy anyone?”   

Goose candy??

Would Scrooge McDuck eat any goose?

“It’s kind of sticky,” he said, and offered us napkins with this bag full of what looked like damp jerky.

So, before I continue, full disclosure in three parts.  1) I don’t know if anyone but said colleague calls this stuff Goose Candy, but hey, the name works for me. 2) I have never had a bite of goose in my life, which is saying something given all the stuff I’ve eaten, so I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between good goose and crappy goose.  And 3) I don’t know if Goose Candy is “the way” to smoke a goose, or just  “a way” to smoke a goose.  So, if you know any better, drop me an email.

But caveats aside, this goose candy was … to quote my butcher … terrific.  Very sweet and sticky, and certain to get stuck between your teeth.  I’d say anybody who enjoys a smoked bird of any kind would love it.   

So I asked for the recipe, and here it is!   I haven’t tried this myself yet, but I most certainly will.




  • Soy Sauce – 3 cups
  • Brown Sugar – 1 cup
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper – ½ Tablespoon
  • Garlic – 2 cloves crushed garlic or ½ Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • Onion – 2 Tablespoons fine minced Onion or ½ Tablespoon Onion Powder
  • Ginger – ½ Tablespoon finely ground Ginger or ½ teaspoon Ginger Powder
  • Of course feel free to adjust any of the above to your taste…

 Mix the brine far enough ahead of time to allow it to chill in the refrigerator. I make large batches and use a food grade container, mix the brine right in the container, which I then use as the brining container. If you are making smaller batches you can use a mixing bowl and then brine the meat in gallon Ziplocs. You need enough brine to fully cover the meat so extend the quantities above to make as much as you need.

Add the sugar and spices to the soy sauce, mix until the sugar is completely dissolved and place in the refrigerator until cold. While the brine is cooling you can start slicing.

Meat Prep:

Mostly frozen duck or goose breast works best for nice uniform slices. I use wild goose and duck to make this candy but venison, top round beef, domestic duck or goose will work well too. A home or commercial slicer works best to get uniform slices but before I was hooked on this recipe and started making large batches I sliced with a sharp knife.

Cut slices a little less than ¼ inch thick and with the grain. Remember to remove all fat.

Cover the sliced meat completely with chilled brine and refrigerate at least overnight I usually brine for 48 hours.

In order to get uniform brining you must “stir” the meat. Basically the slices will want to stick together and in those spots the meat will not fully brine so you need to get your hands wet and pull and stir the slices apart. Stir at least once preferably twice during brining.


Shake off excess brine and place the slices flat on your grill or smoking rack.

Since the slices are so thin a multiple rack smoker really speeds up the process.

Let these sit and air dry a bit while your smoker or grill stabilizes to temperature. 


Get your smoker temp up to 200-215. If you are using a ceramic cooker, weber or something of the sort I find you really only need to burn one batch of hickory for smoke. The rest of the time is basically dehydration so all you have to do is watch the temp. A traditional smoker also works perfectly and will produce a bit “smokier” but nonetheless great tasting jerky.

Now the hard part… How do you know when it is done? I use the touch/feel method to determine when it is ready. Basically, you want to remove the racks from heat when they feel just a bit softer than you want the finished jerky to be. If you are planning to make traditional jerky (no moisture) then the jerky should be quite dehydrated. I prefer a bit softer end product so I finish earlier, vacuum pack and freeze the jerky.


Honey-Let the jerky cool a bit while you prep the next batch for smoking. Since I make large batches I usually cool, zip lock and refrigerate the smoked jerky before finishing. That way I can finish all the jerky at once which is more efficient. If you are making smaller batches just let it cool, then finish. Once cool put some honey in a bowl or coffee mug and use pastry brush to put a light glaze on both sides of the piece of jerky.

 Once the honey is applied I shake on some Crushed Red Pepper. Do this to taste and I think you’ll find the sweet-hot flavor much to your liking.

An alternative, for those who do not like crushed red pepper is to use Chipotle or even a bit of fresh-ground black pepper.



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You may want to hold the dates (April 30 & May 1). I know I’ll be there. 

I haven’t been to this particular event before, but I love how they have 6 hours dedicated to “People’s Choice Sampling” each day. 

I think I could sample championship barbecue for 6 hours, how about you?  Anyway, please note, the sampling is indeed a fund raiser — samples will cost you tickets, and tickets will cost you money. So come with an empty stomach and a full wallet, and expect to leave with the opposite of that.

For the event schedule, check out  their Web site.

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That's not just a big barbecue sauce stain. That's Tornado Alley.

I love the 5 Spot in Queen Anne for two good reasons:  Fried and Chicken.  But another reason to love them is for their thematic menus. This week, they kicked off a “Tornado Alley” theme.

That means food from Texas, Kansas, Missouri and a few other states where everything you order comes with a biscuit. Yum.

To celebrate, they have constructed a huge, spinning tornado in the middle of the restaurant. They have various plaid cowboy shirts hanging from the ceiling. And as always, there was a gallery of original art.  But the main attraction, of course: There was a whole pile of barbecue to choose from on the menu.

I went with a brisket sandwich.

I’ll be honest: I’ve never had a bad dinner at the 5 Spot, and I’ve had many.   Of course, half those meals were the fried chicken. But the point is, I went into this with a very positive attitude: This was going to be good. So, I’m still not sure if I was my ususal, critical self.

Big, yummy sandwich.

Delusional or not,  I was really happy with the 5 Spot brisket sandwich, which was served with crispy potato logs, and green beans.

The sandwich was piled high. The flavor was great. The texture was perfect. The meat was thinly sliced but not too fatty.  It was 100 times better than the nightmare brisket I ate at the renowned Montgomery Inn.

I highly recommend that you climb Queen Anne hill before the 5 Spot switches menus again. They said the bbq was going to flow for about three months.

My only two tiny nitpicks: They claimed the brisket was going to be served with a Kansas City style barbecue sauce. Well, not so much. The sauce had entirely too much kick to be called that. But don’t get me wrong, it was delicious.  If they cut the cayenne (or whatever they’re using) in half, it would be KC.   They should just call it Tornado Sauce or something. And second, the bread was entirely too fancy. Delicious bread, yes. But the wrong bread.  Someone in the kitchen needed to head to the Safeway and pick up a grocery brand loaf of unnaturally white bread, or maybe those fluffy tasteless buns they sell.

So, as usual, I ate the meat without the bread.

Those are nitpicks, not complaints. Nice work (again) 5 Spot.

Also, please note: 5 Spot is a great place to take your kids.  Especially since across the street is home of the world’s best hot cocoa: Chocolopolis.

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Tri-tip steak

Objects in photo are bigger than they appear.

Not everything can be great, right?

Tonight I made a tri-tip steak, using Big Bob Gibson’s lime, soy and red pepper marinade. Sounded pretty good, but I’d say the results were taco worthy, and that’s about it.

So why blog about it?  Two reasons.

First, I decided to make a tri-tip after my old friend Matt asked for a recipe on my requests page.  I had never made tri tip-before, or even considered it for that matter.

Tri-tip, if you’re new to it like me, is a triangular shaped piece of meat, weighing about 2 to 2.5 pounds. It’s very much like a thick flank steak in texture. There’s a grain just like flank steak. But the extra thickness allows you to cook a nice, charred exterior while keeping a juicy, rare interior, almost like a filet.

Anyway, lacking any advice for Matt, I just sent along the recipe from Gibson’s book, which is usually incredibly reliable.

But something caught my eye in the cookbook.  It said that tri-tip beef is a West Coast phenomenon.  Gibson makes the claim that western folk (is that code for California?) cook tri-tip, and the rest of the country doesn’t consider it barbecue at all.  And so, the book goes on, the marinade was intended to have “West Coast flavors” in it.

What?  I feel as though it’s the role of BlueStateBBQ to knock down these myths. Come on Bob! We like our barbecue to taste like barbecue, just like you. So, I’m not going to bother listing the recipe here.  If this were BlueStateTacos, then we’d be on to something.

Tri tip. Dry rub. Hot coals. Done! Thanks Matt.

Which brings me to my second reason for the post.  Matt, the guy who asked for the recipe and has always been a lot smarter than me,  simply took my usual barbecue rub, and grilled the tri-tip, shall we say, Midwest style.  He said that turned out great, so I’ll be trying that next time.

Meanwhile, it’s going to be taco night for the next couple of nights here at the Blue State BBQ.

Thanks for the photo Matt.

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Red means stop. If you see this sign, obey!

RoRo is a shipping term for a boat, like a ferry, where cargo “rolls on and rolls off.”   It’s possible RoRo was just the nickname of the dude with the beard pulling pork in the back, but I hope not. Roll on, Roll off is exactly how my bbq-craving gut behaves, making RoRo a brilliant name for a BBQ.

I actually first headed out with a friend to give Peco’s BBQ Pit a try.  Only to find it closed on weekends. SIGH.  Hey Peco! People eat lunch on Saturday, my friend.   And given that RoRo was standing room only by noon, maybe you should pull your common sense off the slow cooker. Oh well, too bad for you.

RoRo is a small place on a busy street, and it’s the sort of a house-looking shack like thing you could easily drive by 100 times and never notice. But, take it from me, next time you see it, pull over.  The RoRo menu is a thing of beauty, and my lunch today was the best barbecue I’ve had within the Seattle city limits. 

We ordered RoRo’s Pulled Pork Sandwich and a full order of Pork Ribs, plus four side dishes. I had the creamed corn and cole slaw. My friend ordered the mashed potatoes and potato salad, and yes, later in the meal he would scold me, “next time I order two potato dishes back to back, say something.”

I’m thinking, “hey, order a third side dish” might be the thing to say.

It’s small in RoRo. But they still managed to make room for an image of John Wayne, a big painting of some ready-to-be-gunned-down white-tailed deer bucks, a manly shirt made out of a Texas flag and a TV playing old-school cartoons.  For some reason, there’s also a picture of Renaissance man Steve Martin and his banjo.  Maybe it’s the way he says ‘ramblin’ that earned him such an honor.

Some of the sauces to choose from. RoRo's sauce, on the left, was my favorite.

Anyway, before your meal arrives, you are given a friendly lecture on their 6-pack of sauces.

They have a sweet & smoky sauce, a spicy sauce, a RoRo special blend, a vinegar based sauce, and something else I don’t remember.  And to be clear, the sixth sauce is just ketchup, because you can opt for shoestring fries over side orders.   I liked the RoRo sauce the best. The vinegar based, Rowdy Sass sauce was the only one I didn’t care for at all.  It was watery.

With or without sauce, though, the food was fantastic.   

Everybody making mushy pulled pork sandwiches in Seattle should head to RoRo for some schooling.  Firm but completely tender pulled pork, full of flavor, and plenty of it, piled on a really good bun. I could eat 100 of those sandwiches. That said, we both thought the pulled pork was just about as good, but ever so slightly not as good, as the pulled pork at Stan’s.   It really is a shame that Stan’s is all the way in Issaquah. 

The ribs though, I actually thought were better than Stan’s. Credit the rub, which had a really noticeable impact on the flavor. Plus the texture of the ribs was perfect.  A light pull off the bone, just how I like it.

RoRo is incredible, and I may go back there for lunch again tomorrow.  Not kidding.

I want to try their dish called a “BBQ Sundae,” which reads “BBQ without the bun. Pulled pork, beef brisket or pulled portabella, layered in a cup (yep – a cup) with BBQ beans & cole slaw.” 

I just can’t go on for very long knowing there’s something called a BBQ Sundae that I haven’t yet tried.

RoRo BBQ & Grill

3620 Stone Way Ave N Seattle WA


 And, yes, open on Saturdays.  But as I was saying, it was SRO by noon, and borderline line-out-the-door.  So I’d recommend ramblin’ in earlyish or lateish.

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