Dr. BBQ’s Halloween Barbecue Feast

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By Dr. BBQ, Ray Lampe

Halloween is the best holiday of the year for people who like to cross-dress and beg. I must admit that while I’ve participated in many counter-culture activities, cross-dressing has never made the list, even on Halloween. It might be because there just aren’t any good dresses in my size.

Most people have no idea what Halloween really means and why it’s called that. Well, getting my doctorate in barbecue included studying some history, so I know the answer. When Christianity became the primary religion in Europe, November 1st became All Saint’s Day–a day to honor the saints who, for some unknown reason, didn’t have a day dedicated solely to them. The mass performed on All Saint’s Day became known as Allhallowmass, (“hallow” meaning to make holy) and the night before became known as All Hallow’s Evening, condensed to All Hallow’s E’en, and further reduced to Hallowe’en or Halloween.

See how easy that was? Now the tough question: why dress up in costume? To answer a question with a question: Trick or treat? The tradition of going door-to-door and begging for candy on Halloween seems to go back to the Druids, and its origin is not clear. But if you went begging, you were bound to get turned down, so the saying “trick or treat” was born, and that created a problem; if you pulled a trick, people would know who you were. But not if you were in costume! I might point out here that some barbecue aprons, hats, and gloves closely resemble a costume, so if you’ve got them, all you need to dress up for the Halloween barbecue feast that follows is a mask like the Lone Ranger’s. Shave your mustache, too.

All-Spiced Cider

Allspiced Cider

There’s nothing like a spiced cider to get you ready to beg for candy. If you can find hard cider, you can eliminate the brandy here; if not, use non-alcoholic cider plus the brandy. Serve with a cinnamon stick in each cup if you want.

1 tablespoon whole allspice
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
3 cups hard apple cider
1 cup orange juice
1/2 lemon, sliced
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup brandy

Tie the allspice in a piece of cheesecloth. Place in a medium saucepan along with the cinnamon stick, cider, orange juice, lemon slices and honey. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the spice bag and stir in the brandy.

Yield: 6 servings.

Smoked Sausage, Leek and Potato Soup Served in a Pumpkin

Here’s a daring, hearty soup that’s served in a colorful, natural bowl. You’ll all have fun, and the kids will love it. Remember to wear heavy gloves when carrying the pumpkin into the dining room or you’ll have a hell of a mess.  You can use store-bought sausage for the soup, but I like to use a 1-pound roll of breakfast sausage that’s been smoked at 225 degrees F until it reaches an internal temp of 170 degrees F.

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups halved and sliced leeks (well washed)
3 cups peeled and cubed russet potatoes
2 cloves garlic
2 cups cubed smoked sausage or 1 pound smoked breakfast sausage
1 quart water
2 vegetable bouillon cubes (I prefer Knorr brand)
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium pie pumpkin, top and stem removed and reserved, inside cleaned

Prepare the cooker indirect at 275 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sausage and garlic and cook about another 5 minutes, or until everything is getting soft. Add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Pour the soup into the pumpkin. Replace the top on the pumpkin and place it in the cooker. Cook for about an hour, but watch it so the pumpkin doesn’t get too soft and collapse. When the pumpkin feels tender, carefully remove it to a pie pan or quiche dish. Stir and then serve. Scrape some of the pumpkin away from the sides to serve with the soup.

Yield: 6 servings

Short Ribs With Baby Bellas And Port Wine

Short Ribs

I like to use my smoker like an oven–this recipe is a perfect example of such a use.

3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs

Dr. BBQ’s Five Spice Salt (recipe follows)
1 pound baby portobellos mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 cup beef broth
3/4 cup port wine

Prepare the cooker for indirect cooking at 250 degrees F, using cherry wood for flavor.

Season the ribs liberally with the Five Spice Salt and put them in the cooker. Cook until they are nicely browned, about 2 hours.

Put the ribs in an aluminum foil pan. Spread the baby bellas and the garlic on the ribs evenly. Pour the wine and beef broth over the top. Cover with foil and return to the cooker. Raise the temp to 350 degrees F and cook until the ribs are tender. This should take about another 2 hours. Check occasionally to make sure the liquid hasn’t dried up and add some more broth and wine as needed.

Remove the ribs to a platter, spoon the bellas into a bowl and add as much of the liquid as you desire. Serve with the homemade noodles below.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Dr. BBQ’s Five Spice Salt

Sprinkle this seasoning on pork or lamb chops before grilling. It also works on strongly flavored fish, like fresh tuna steaks.

1/2 cup salt
2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
1 tablespoon granulated brown sugar

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, mix well and store in an airtight container.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Homemade Noodles

I thought that these noodles would go well with the short ribs. If you are making them a day ahead of time, store them in the refrigerator.

3 cups semolina flour (available in gourmet shops and health food stores)
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tablespoon olive oil

Place the flour on a mixing board. Make a well in the middle and place the eggs and olive oil in it. Mix with your hands and then knead for 10 minutes. Cover the dough, and let it sit for 1/2 hour.

Using a rolling pin (or a pasta machine), roll the dough very thin (1/32 inch or less). Cut into 1 1/2 inch wide strips.

Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for 1 to 2 minutes—no more. Drain, place on a kitchen towel, and cover with plastic wrap until you are ready to use them in your recipe or serve them.

Yield: About 1/2- to 3/4-pound


Pumpkin Cheesecake

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Tired of pumpkin pie? Then try this fancy (for me) pumpkin cheesecake. Sip a little of that leftover whiskey to help you digest this dessert.

Crumb Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Pumpkin Filling:

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 (16 ounce) can solid-pack pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs

Sour-Cream Topping:

1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In 9-inch by 3-inch springform pan, use a fork to stir together the graham-cracker crumbs, melted margarine or butter and sugar until moistened. With your hand, press the mixture onto bottom of the pan. Tightly wrap the outside of pan with heavy-duty foil to prevent leakage when baking in the water bath later.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Allow it to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, using a mixer at medium speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth; slowly beat in the sugar until blended, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl often with a rubber spatula.

With the mixer at low speed, beat in the pumpkin, sour cream, bourbon or vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pre-baked crust and place it in large roasting pan. Place the pan on the oven rack. Carefully pour enough boiling water into pan to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the center barely jiggles.

Meanwhile, prepare the Sour-Cream Topping. In a small bowl, with a wire whisk, beat the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until blended.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath, leaving the water bath in oven, and spread the sour-cream mixture evenly over the top of the cake. Return the cake to the water bath and bake 5 minutes longer.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath to a wire rack and discard the foil. With a small knife, loosen the cheesecake from the side of the pan to help prevent cracking during cooling. Cool the cheesecake completely. Cover and refrigerate the cheesecake at least 6 hours or overnight, until well chilled. Remove the side of pan to serve.

Yield: 16 servings

Excerpted from Dr. BBQ’s Barbecue All Year Long Cookbook by Ray Lampe, a.k.a. Dr. BBQ (St. Martin’s Griffin, paperback, $17.95).


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