Smoked BBQ Burgers 🍔


My son & I made some smoked BBQ burgers. Thought I would blog it so I can refer back.

🍔

Used lump charcoal on a side smoker-box attachment on my Char-Griller grill, & a mix of wood chips – some Jack Daniels oak barrel ones and an apple/hickory/oak mix. I just put the chips in a foil tray on that grate, I don’t have a box for the

The burgers were just Ground beef, a few drops of A1, some Rib Rack Honey BBQ sauce, McCormick Grill Mates barbecue seasoning, onion powder, minced garlic, French’s crispy fried onions, & some chopped up slices of Gouda cheese.

Little dude helped prep the starter chimney for the grill, and mix the burgers, make some patties & check the temperature.

Tried to keep it at 250° for about an hour,

went up a few times so we played with the vents to get it right.

Slathered on some BBQ sauce at the end for a little less than 10 minutes.

The buns, which I should do on the propane side of the grill next time…

Melted some butter & garlic in rhe microwave, brushed it on the buns, put them in the oven at 375° on a pan with a roasting rack for a few minutes to toast them… pulled them put and added BBQ sauce to the bottom and a slice of Gouda and some more French’s onions to the top… toasted until the cheese was starting to melt & the onions got a little more toasty.

Not a bad dinner! It tasted like a Rack of ribs on a bun and the burgers were really juicy. It almost tasted like a rack of ribs or some brisket on a bun.

🍔

So, how do you do your burgers on the smoker? I did get advise to sear, but skipped that as they seemed done & pretty together when I checked them. Any special recipes outside of the normal? We do a mushroom and swiss melt with these onions too… sometimes I make a molten cheese ball on the inside… from regular grilling to the counter-top grill. We try to make them different that what you typically get out. I have been known to do pizza or chili cheese burgers too… but we are definitely coming back to these and trying more styles in the smoker. Maybe a bacon/cheddar/jalapeño one next?

OMG. WTF? BBQ!


My PCP is going to hate this post.

I love barbecue, or BBQ or Bar-B-Q or whatever you want to call it.  This isn’t going to be a blog about what you think the “real” definition of barbecue is (wet/dry, smoke/no smoke, slow & low/fast & hot, sauce/no sauce, charcoal/gas, grill/pit)… the purists all claim to be right, and the term can be applied to the meat (or veggies I guess), the cooking, the spices, the sauce, or the gathering.  If you want to argue/learn about the differences, check out Wikipedia.

Since I’m just a fan of barbecue, not a professional BBQ cook, and live in Pittsburgh not the south*… I won’t take a stand on the issue.  I like all varieties.  (Although, would chipped ham barbecue be “Pittsburgh Style” BBQ?  I’d support that.)

I was inspired to write about BBQ today because I recently had an excellent dinner form the Pittsburgh Barbecue Company.  It reminded me of my three favorite barbecue joints.  I was just wondering what other people thought of them, and what other awesome local BBQ joints might not be on my radar.

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ

Rowdy BBQ
Brentwood Express Rowdy BBQ on UrbanspoonTagline: “We think of you when we pull our pork!” – I swear this place used to be called Brentwood Express or have it in the name somewhere…  but now the site’s commercial strictly says “Rowdy BBQ”, so we’ll go with that.

At any rate, this is my favorite barbecue sauce.  I love this stuff!  It’s a sweet yet spicy sauce.  They have a killer menu with all kinds of fun things like “The Big Pig”, “The Whole Hog”, and the “Knuckle Sandwich”.  I usually get the ribs/chicken combo with some fries and eat just enough to make myself almost sick.  The ribs are always cooked perfectly, sometimes the chicken is dry, but not “ooh I can’t eat this” dry.  The fries are awesome, and this is the only place out of my 3 favorites that even has fries.  (They used to have excellent pierogies, but I don’t think they’re on the menu anymore.)  I’ve had the Big Pig & the brisket sandwiches, they are awesome.  I want to try the cheese steaks, but at pulled to the BBQ offerings every time I’m there.  I want to buy the sauce to bring home, but then I won’t have an excuse to go there. The parking lot is chaos, and you’re eating about 5 feet away from the traffic on Rte. 51 when you’re on the one site… but I can never wait to get home to eat, gotta eat it there!  (And, I’d miss the rowdy rooster!)

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook 1 | Facebook 2 | Urbanspoon

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company

Pittsburgh Barbecue Company
Pittsburgh Barbecue Company on UrbanspoonTagline: “That place on Banksville…” – This place is the closest to home for me, and is pretty damn tasty BBQ.  The sauce is a little more tangy than sweet.  I go for the brisket or pulled pork here more often than the ribs… but the ribs & chicken are damn good.  I like their mac n’ cheese.  It’s got a tasty homemade feel.  They have a pretty minimalist menu, but I really like that.  They know what they do, and they do it well.  My wife Bethany loves their baked apples side.  The cornbread is excellent too.  They seem to be a little expensive here, but again, it’s worth it.  You definitely get what you pay for… the meat portions on the sandwiches are huge.

The sauce is nice & peppery.  I get a spicy tingle every time we dine here.  There’s also a nice outside dining area, and although sparse like Rowdy BBQ, you’re not eating amid exhaust like you are on Rte. 51.  It’s got a nice little log cabin/shack feel inside.  They also tout a bunch of “#1’s” on their site, most recent being Pittsburgh Magazine’s “Best in the ‘Burgh 2010”.  This place is no secret, even if it is hiding back off of the main road.

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook | Twitter | UrbanSpoon

Clem's Cafe

Clem's Cafe

Clem’s Cafe
Clem's Cafe (Hardwood Barbecue) on UrbanspoonTagline: “Home of the nice racks, big breasts, juicy thighs, and warm buns! ” – This one is way out there, but really worth the drive.  They have an excellent tangy sauce… I can taste the vinegar in it, but it blends well with the overall flavor.  The best part about Clem’s is that hands down the meat is always falling off the bone on the ribs… and always always juicy with the chicken.  I like the mac & cheese here, and the ability to get the Boylan’s root beer or birch beer.

The dining facilities are great, it’s always a nice place to sit & eat.  They have a concise menu, again not too much, you know exactly why you’re there… for the BBQ!

[I need a YouTube video for these guys!]

Check ’em out on the web: Website | Facebook | UrbanSpoon

Which Pittsburgh (or SWPA) BBQ place is your favorite?  I’d love to do a blind taste-test of all their sauces some time.

There are other places I have in mind that I’d like to try, like The Flame BBQ, Two Brothers Bar-B-Q, & No Bull Bar-B-Q. Anyone been to any of those? Thoughts?

So, where else should I try?  My #1 criteria in finding a cool new BBQ place is that they don’t have shrimp (or any other shellfish) on the menu… like Rib Cage BBQ.  I like the BBQ places because of the limited menu & no chance of cross-contamination.  It’s nice to be able to completely relax at an eating establishment.

I would love to be able to get some turkey at a BBQ place though… either deep-fried & topped with some sauce… or in a pulled-pork style or brisket-style sandwich… or turkey legs.  Man, I love turkey legs.

So, flood me with commentary!

*There are a number of people around here that do indeed think we are a southern state… “Pennsyltucky” and all…

McMummy Meal


Heard about this on the radio, saw the link to this article on Yahoo! this morning.  Creepy:

McDonald’s Happy Meal resists decomposition for six months

 

Day 180 | Davies Happy Meal Project | October 7, 2010

Day 180

 

Not that this is really all that surprising or life-changing… just makes you pause to think about the absurdity of it all.

From an art perspective, this is very fun & funny.  From an experimental perspective, this needs a little more control.  I’d like to see the meal left to sit still in between photographs, and perhaps even from a camera that sits on a tripod in the same spot every time.

I’d also like to see meals from other chains like Burger King, Wendy’s, Steak N’ Shake, as well as a home-made patty cooked from fresh ground beef… and even a store-bought pre-made hamburger patty.  Hell, why not even throw a Morning Star Farms or Boca veggie patty in there too?

You can follow the project directly on Flickr here:  Davies McDonalds Happy Meal Project

I find the comments from Theresa Riley at McDonald’s to be the most absurd part.  “Completely unsubstantiated?”  Have you seen the photos?

Also, Dr. Michael Doyle going on record saying “no hamburger would look like this after one year unless it was tampered with or held frozen” is kind of goofy.  Has he done this experiment?  Does he know for sure?

I do have to say that environment has a lot to do with it.  The fate of the burger & fries may be markedly different in an apartment in Florida vs. one in Alaska or Arizona… and then is there heat, A/C, or other environmental control going on in that apartment?

I’d love to see this as a Mythbusters episode.

The Mythical Magical McGangbang


You’ve heard of the McGangBang, right?  For the uninitiated, there’s a world out there of fast food items not listed on the menu that are available for your dining pleasure (and most likely for your digestive displeasure) if you’re in the know, and if the employees are in the know.  This list from McDonald’s alone is pretty impressive.  There are many others out there.  My friend Andy used to apparently get a “Volcano” from Taco Bell, which was described to me as a burrito with everything in it.  Now that they have volcano tacos & burritos that are something else entirely, that might be an ordering issue.  If you’ve got time to kill or your interest is piqued, it’s definitely worth Googling.

At any rate, while I have raised a legitimate issue with McDonald’s, and I have gotten one response so far… I decided to use my W(aL)D email address to address a ridiculous issue with them.  So, off to the McWebform I went!  Sadly, you’re forced to pick a category… none of which exactly fits my query.   I think I posted to “McDonald’s U.S. Marketing, Promotions, and Advertising“, but it seems like my answer was brought about by the “Unsolicited Idea Policy“.  Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.  On to the emails…

My original submission (via McWebform):

Hello Friends,

I was wondering if you are aware of the mythical magical McGang-Bang, and if at any time in the future, you man be adding it officially to your menu?

I believe it to be a McChicken sandwich stuffed inside a Double Cheeseburger, the new 99¢ McDouble, or even a Big Mac.  The exact specifics are a subject of hot debate, as this is a rare creature, like Bigfoot, el Chupacabra, or the Unicorn.  There is also debate on whether to discard an extra bun or down it whole.

If you do plan to offer this in the future, what would the proper spelling be?  McGangBang, McGangbang, McGang-Bang, or McGang-bang?  I could see how all options would be acceptable?

I’m not sure where the name comes from, but it sure is catchy.  (Much better than “Arch Deluxe”, no?)

I’d like to be able to go into a McDonald’s and order a McGang-Bang without being looked at like I’m crazy when it’s common knowledge among certain circles.

Thanks for your time, I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on the matter!

-E.

Their “we got it, we’ll get back to you” reply:

From: McDonald’s DoNotReply@mcdonalds.com
Date: Thu, Dec 10, 2009 at 10:38 AM
Subject: McDonald’s Web Site Comment or Question
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Thank you for visiting McDonald’s website. Below is your email which has been submitted to McDonald’s Customer Response Center. While replies to this e-mail cannot be received, should you need to contact us again, please feel free to contact us through mcdonalds.com. Thank you.

Title: Mr.
First Name: ERiC
Last Name: AiXeLsyD
Mailing Address: ____ _______ _____ ____ __
City: Pittsburgh
State: PA
Zip: _____-____
Day Phone: 412-555-1212
Evening Phone: 412-555-1212
Contact Time: None.  Email please.
Your E-mail Address: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
Comment: [What you just read above…]

Their “real” reply:

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
Date: Fri, Dec 11, 2009 at 5:08 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Hello ERiC:

Thank you for contacting McDonald’s recently with your idea for a product or service that you believe would be of interest to us. We appreciate your interest in McDonald’s, but it is our company’s policy not to consider unsolicited ideas from outside the McDonald’s system. We have retained an electronic copy of your submission solely for our records.

It’s not that great ideas cannot come from people outside of McDonald’s. Each year, however, McDonald’s receives thousands of unsolicited ideas and proposals for products and services from individuals as well as companies. Because of the volume of unsolicited ideas and the difficulty of sorting out what is truly a “new” idea as opposed to a concept that has already been considered or developed by McDonald’s, we must adhere to a strict policy of not reviewing any unsolicited ideas that come from outside the McDonald’s family of employees, franchisees and approved suppliers. We realize that we may be missing out on a few good ideas, but we have had to adopt this policy for legal and business reasons.

As a result, we must decline your invitation to review your submission and hope you understand the reasons for this decision.

Again, thank you for thinking of McDonald’s.

Jessica
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6525973

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:
[You just read it above…]

Well, apparently my idea went to the wrong department, or someone that’s absolutely no fun.  I didn’t submit an idea!  I asked about a secret menu item…  Hopefully, as we’ve learned with most other web-forms, we submit again, and we get a different person responding.  Although, this looks curiously like a form letter.  Perhaps I should try again in a different category?  Should I ask for the email address of a real live person?  Perhaps I need to Google some names of high-up important McPeople and try to figure out the syntax of the company email addresses.  This worked with great success for me in the past with Boston Market.  Ha ha ha.

Also, I wondered on the Beat if putting a “Mc” in front of everything could be construed as racist?  As an American of Irish and Scottish descent, perhaps I should be taken aback by the flippant use of “Mc” in front of everything?  (By McDoanld’s, and even my own shockingly casual use.) It is after all, listed in the Racial Slur Database and in Wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs.  Perhaps this is an idea to addressed in the future.  Dave was quick to point out though, that nothing is more racist than 365Black.  Wow.  Just…  Wow.  (…or McWow?) Also… What about leap day?  Is that a day off?

Find any of this amusing?  What’s the next step?

(Another) Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666 & ref#:6521333]


I never got a reply from McDonald’s going any farther than the original “we’ll forward it to the appropriate party” email.  So, I decided to reply.  Nothing to lose, right?  Well, I couldn’t directly reply, because of the incredibly blunt “No ‘replies’ can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.compart of their email.  So, back to the McWebform I went!  I even included the fancy ref#:6502666.

Well, it apparently worked!

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 5:09:19 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:

Thank you for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center. I’m sorry you have not yet received a local response regarding your recent McDonald’s restaurant experience.

Please know we take your comments very seriously. I will immediately re-contact the franchise owner of the restaurant you visited and request that he or she follow-up with you as soon as possible.

Please be assured your complete satisfaction is our top priority. Thank you for your patience and for taking the time to re-contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center.

Jimelle
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6521333

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

————————————————————————————————————–

Are you finished with your holiday shopping? Even the person with everything gets hungry. An Arch Card makes a great holiday gift. For more information visit your local McDonald’s restaurant or our website at http://www.mcdonalds.com/archcard.

You wrote:

Hello,

Regarding my last message from Ashley at McDonald’s customer service… ref#:6502666

I was told not to reply to the email… hopefully that reference # can refer you to my earlier message.

I think it’s a very poor setup that you have… not being able to reply to emails.

Your message to me said “Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Was anyone at that McDonald’s contacted?

Will I get a reply?

And, then, it was followed up by this…

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
To: me@my.email.address
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 7:07:00 PM
Subject: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

From: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Date: Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM
Subject: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant
To: [complete@misspelling.of.my.email.address]
Dear Eric

I am the Customer Service Representative of the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant. I unfortunately did not receive your first e-mail.  Please fill me in on the situation.   I am located in the Pittsburgh area and will address all issues to the supervisors of this restaurant.
Sincerely,
Sandra Jaeger

How cool is that?  Ha ha ha.  An actual response!  Funny that it “didn’t get through” the first time.  Very funny.  Also funny that it went to a complete misspelling of my email address, those of you who have it will find it amusing.  There was a “.” where a “_” should be as well, as a few incorrect letters.  (Not transposed, incorrect.)

So, of course, I had to write back…

From: me@my.email.address
To: Sandra Jaeger sandra.jaeger@gmail.com
Sent: Wed, December 9, 2009 10:00:58 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Follow up of e-mail for the West Liberty Avenue Restaurant

Hello Sandra,

Thanks you for the reply!  I have always wondered if the emails that you get in reply to webforms at sites like the McDonald’s one are anything more than a standard form letter.  In reply to my first message, the response said “I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited.”  I had wondered if this really was the case…  Apparently not, until I took the time to reply with a second message asking if it had really gone any further.  I’m glad I took the time to follow up!

I  find it amusing that my original comments did not make it to you.  It makes me wonder how many emails remain unanswered daily when filtered through the McWebform.  This is not your problem though, as you are obviously concerned and addressing this issue now.

My original comments were regarding a visit that I had over a week ago now, in an evening stop at the McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. in Beechview or Dormont or whatever the neighborhood may be there.

My original message was…

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

That pointed to a review that I posted on UrbanSpoon.com, which you can read here…
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else. 1 person likes this review

…and these are the photos referenced:

Stall #1

Stall #2

I understand that the fact that at that time of night, there’s perhaps a smaller than usual crew, and that the West Liberty Ave. location is seemingly always busy.  I have been through the drive-thru at this time of night before, and it always seems slow, though it’s thankfully not as slow as the Wendy’s right down the street.  Those people have a whole different set of issues.  My friends and I call it “The Slow Wendy’s”.

I was just wondering what kind of cleaning & maintenance policies that you have in place?  Does management or ownership do any kind of inspection or follow-up?  Do inspections my the corporation ever occur?  I mean, surely you can’t think the photos above are an acceptable presentation of your restaurant chain?

I don’t know about you, but when I “gotta go”, it’s urgent!  The urinals looked filthy, si I opted for the stalls… one was stuffed, and one had a door that wouldn’t close.  I like to do my business in private, no interruptions.  Closing doors are a good thing!  Also… the lack of a TP dispenser, & the roll just being on the back of the thing…  I cannot imagine what would have happened had I needed to use that.  I mean, how uncomfortable would it be to reach behind yourself like that after…  Well, after doing your thing?

Thank you for your time, and the follow up.  I appreciate the fact that you took the time to inquire about the issue.

Sincerely,
-Eric

Maybe I should have included a link to the Wendy’s incident?  Not yet, my friends.  Not yet. I can’t wait to see what kind of response I get this time.  I love when it gets down to a real live person in charge of something.

Message from McDonald’s USA [ref#:6502666]


Heh.  McDonald’s wrote back about my brief stop and UrbanSpoon.com review (posted with pictures) the other night.

Here’s the message below, that rides the “impersonally personal response” line quite well.

Someone got rid of the pictures at UrbanSpoon.com… perhaps they were flagged as inappropriate?  I can see that.  Oh well, no reason I can’t show them here.

Stall #1

Stall #2

Here’s my review…

photo prime
“Sadly, had the best service there tonight in years…” by ERiC AiXeLsyD (98 reviews)
November 29, 2009 – Doesn’t like it – Small crew tonight, decent night-time crowd, stopped for a late dinner, was served relatively quickly… fries were a perfect golden color and hot… burgers were OK, super-greasy but it IS McDonald’s. We were out at an event earlier, on the way home… had to use the facilities… but they were trashed. Stall #1 had no TP dispenser, the roll was on the back of the commode, and the bowl was chock full of the stuff. Stall #2 had a broken doorknob/lock mechanism. One hand dryer was stuck on, the other didn’t work, and both urinals were full of urine. I know they can’t control flushing… but periodic checks/cleanings and some repairs might be in order.  Just when I thought this place had their stuff together for once… My advice? When stopping here, use the facilities somewhere else.

1 person likes this review Recommend

And here’s their response with my message submitted through the McWebform following below…

From: McDonalds.CustomerCare@us.mcd.com
To: eric_aixelsyd@yahoo.com
Sent: Tue, December 1, 2009 5:14:49 AM
Subject: Message from McDonald’s USA

Hello Eric:
Thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald’s Customer Service Center to bring your recent experience to our attention.First, I hope you will accept my sincere apology for your disappointment in McDonald’s. I can assure you that we want you to be completely satisfied every time you visit one of our restaurants.Because most McDonald’s restaurants are independently owned and operated, I have forwarded your comments to the franchise owner or local representative for follow up at the restaurant you visited. Please be assured that your comments will be investigated and, if appropriate, corrective action will be taken.

 

Secondly, although we did not completely meet your expectations, please know that our restaurant employees strive to maintain the highest standards of quality, service, cleanliness and value and it’s certainly nice to know that their efforts are appreciated. We want to recognize your complimentary comments and thank you for your kind words.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact McDonald’s and giving us the opportunity to address your concerns. Customer feedback is very important to us as it helps us improve. McDonald’s is number one because of customers like you.

Ashley
McDonald’s Customer Response Center

ref#:6502666

————————————————————————————————————–

Please do not “reply” to this email response. No “replies” can be received through this mailbox. If you wish to contact McDonald’s Customer Response Center again, please visit our website at www.mcdonalds.com

You wrote:

The crew in the place tonight seemed to be operating well, were friendly, and quickly as far as the food was concerned, but the parking lot was full of cars for the bar next door, and the men’s bathroom was disgusting.  Please see this link for a review & photos: http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/23/1346713/restaurant/Far-South-South-Hills/McDonalds-Pittsburgh

Rarely is this kind of stuff ever followed up by the local chain. I don’t know if that’s indicative of stores nation-wide, or just in our area.  Then again… it gets me wondering…  I put my address in that webform… and my photo is up at UrbanSpoon.com.

Bad idea?