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?

Five Guys Burgers and Fries: Doing It Right


So, the other day I posted a Facebook status about Five Guys Burgers and Fries, and I thought I’d share it here and maybe even add some more thoughts.  It seemed to get a lot of comments pretty quickly.

Here it is:

I’ll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about… one place stands out as incredible. Every time I’m at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed… everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I’m sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I'll tell you what, for all the customer service and food service that I do complain about... one place stands out as incredible. Every time I'm at a Five Guys Burgers and Fries no matter the location, they are fully staffed... everyone is doing a job & doing it quickly & efficiently with a rather pleasant look on their face. They communicate with each other quite well. The employees seem to be having fun while getting their job done, and they seem to take pride in what they do. I can only assume they pay much better than the average fast food joint, or just know how to delegate responsibilities evenly & know how to treat employees. I was in the one in Robinson when they got SLAMMED at lunch time today, and they put more people on registers, and worked down an ridiculously large amount of people in a short time. It helps that they only have burgers & the occasional hot dog as a menu item I'm sure, but it still is pretty impressive.

I’ll tell you what…

I should take a video of 10 minutes in a Five Guys and 10 minutes in this damn McDonald’s on West Liberty Ave. and compare how they’re run.  McDonald’s employees are slow, confused, careless, and sometimes even slovenly.  Five Guys employees seem to be the exact opposite on every front.

I’ve been to several locations, the Waterworks, Murrysville, Robinson, and Greensburg… and they’ve all been run with the same efficiency, pleasantness, and extreme cleanliness.  I just think it ought to be said that it’s noticed by the customers, and they need to keep doing what they’re doing.

Of course, I’m very aware of food allergies, and peanuts are a big thing at Five Guys.  This seems to get a bunch of flack, but they do take allergies seriously.  The peanut-allergic have to accept it just like I accept that being allergic to shellfish, I’m not going to get a safe meal at Red Lobster.  It’s OK.  There are many many places to dine & choices to make.  I’m glad that I have Five Guys as a choice.  I’ve heard that they are excellent in handling a dairy allergy.  Just check out the comments in the image above to the right.  I see the allergy warnings on the door as a very responsible thing to do.

Even after all that… the burgers are just absolutely delicious.  I tend to get a bacon cheeseburger with A1 and green peppers… sometimes even mushrooms.  The french fries are almost as awesome as Kennywood’s Potato Patch fries, and that’s hard to do.  The ingredients are always fresh, the burgers always cooked perfectly.  One of these days I want to try a hot dog… but I can never get past the burgers.  Maybe a little burger & a hot dog will have to do some day?  I don’t even know if I can handle that.  I’m glad I don’t live too close to one of these places, I’d be there way too often.

I hope to send a link to this to Five Guys, just to tell them that I appreciate what they’re doing, and to keep on doing it.  Customers can see and appreciate that the employees are enjoying what they do, and doing it well.  It does make a difference.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

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McConsistency is Key.


Recently for lunch, I had a reconstituted-onion & cheese sandwich from McDonald’s with a little bit of beef on it.  It was extra special because it was pressed.  It was not like a panini press with grill lines, but more like someone sat on it.  There were also pickles stacked on top of each other, sticking out of the side.  Very artful & creative!

This wasn’t even from the West Liberty location.

I recently had a friend send one of his friends’ McTale-of-woe to me, because I have apparently become some sort of authority on all things wrong with McDonald’s customer service.

The reason I told of my recent adventure in lunch, is that it fits with the tale as told by someone who wishes to remain nameless, blameless, & shameless:

From: Pattyless Sandwich
Date: Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 9:29 AM
Subject: The Day McDonald’s Shit All Over My Good Time
To: The Hamburglar

On Sept. 27, 2011 I went through the drive thru at McDonald’s on Mt. Lebanon Blvd. in Castle Shannon, PA. I ordered a number 4 (two cheeseburgers), and I asked for no onion. When I got back to my friends house and we started eating I noticed that the sandwich looked really thin but I just figured it was smashed down a little more THAN NECESSARY so I bit in anyway. As I was chewing, I realized something wasn’t right about what was being smashed around in my mouth. I set my sandwich down and removed the top part of the bun to see the following: slice of cheese on the bottom half of the bun, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. Yes, that is correct, there was no meat on the sandwich. Luckily I had another sandwich, that in fact had the patty, to eat, but they put onions on it. The only thing I asked them to void. Now I understand work is work and if you have a job to live then that is fantastic, but to be the person to put the burgers together at McDonald’s, I feel like you go through a training day to be shown how to assemble them. Bottom bun, slice of cheese (I’m guessing it is on the bottom so the burger melts it, let’s not get crazy this shit isn’t cooked together), HAMBURGER PATTY, and then your condiments. Who put mine together and thought “hm….this looks right. Nothing is missing, I am a brilliant fucking burger maker extraordinaire.”? It’s not a hamburger from a hamburger joint if there is no meat. To quote a smart fast food chain (rhymes with Shmendy’s), “Where’s the beef!?”

Sincerely,
Pattyless Sandwich

And, there’s even a Facebook photo:

Veggie Burger?

Veggie Burger?

Ridiculous.  At least this didn’t come through my contact form from someone thinking I was McDonald’s.

Friends, I seriously wish I could write to the McGiant on your behalf, but all of my insane yet legitimate complaints have fallen on deaf ears, blind eyes, or typical McCustomer-Service employees.

Check out my track record.  While I feel for you, maybe try their McPennsylvania site?  I can do nothing at this point but perhaps share in your misery, my freinds!

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.