Free Range on Food: North Carolina barbecue, Angelo Garro, restaurant renovations and more

A spread at the Pit in Durham, N.C. (April Greer for The Washington Post)
Sep 23, 2015

Every Wednesday at noon, Food section staff members and guests answer your burning culinary questions. Past Free Range on Food chats

Greetings, all, and welcome to today's chat! Hope you enjoyed this week's food coverage so far, including Jim "Smoke Signals" Shahin's deep dive into the changing world of North Carolina barbecue; Maine cook and "Here and Now" resident chef Kathy Gunst's whirlwind tale of meeting a famous cook without realizing it; Becky's interesting look at why restaurants redesign and renovate (with a cool before/after slider feature), and more.

We have all of the above joining us today, along with us regulars (minus Bonnie, who's out for Yom Kippur), so send any and all questions our way!

Oh, and for you PostPoints members, here's your code: FR8034 . Record and enter it into the PostPoints site under Claim My Points to earn points. The code expires at midnight, so be sure to enter the code by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday to get credit for participating.

And as always, we'll have giveaway books for our favorite chatters today: In honor of the barbecue story today, we'll have a SIGNED copy of David Guas's "Grill Nation," and also "The Silver Spoon Quick and Easy Italian Recipes," source of this week's Weeknight Veg recipe.

OK, let's get this going!

This question is specifically about garlic, but I imagine many other foods raise the same question: If I am going to cook something for a long time (1 hour, say) will I get more garlic flavor if I mince it, slice it, or leave it whole? Or add it at the end? (The particular recipe I want to try uses garlic powder and I want to sub real garlic. the dish bakes for 1 hour)

I like using a variety of garlic--a few whole cloves and a few chopped or sliced. The flavor holds up well and the whole cloves cook slowly and add a subtle almost sweet flavor. 

My husband and I visited a really great Chinese restaurant in Wheaton this weekend, where he ordered a conch and baby cuttlefish entree. Turns out he didn't like the baby cuttlefish part so much. I hate wasting food, and brought the leftovers home figuring that I could repurpose them in to something else. Usually I'm great at being creative with leftovers, but this one is stumping me. Any suggestions? If it helps, the dish was in a oyster sauce- based sauce, but it's not overpowering.

Chop it up and add it to a fried rice dish! 

What about fish cakes with chopped fresh ginger, panko breadcrumbs, eggs and sautéed shallots?

Like the chat leftovers question, I'm also enthusiastic about making my own bread. I have the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which I would highly recommend for quick and easy bread recipes. My problem is that we don't eat the bread quickly enough (there's only 2 of us), and I either end up with moldy bread or the wet dough sitting in my fridge for too long (making sourdough, I guess?!). Does freshly made bread freeze well? Can I freeze the wet dough?

I'm a big fan of that book, too. Own a copy myself. I believe some of these questions are addressed in there, but take solace in the fact that your wet dough will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. And the flavor will improve over time! You can certainly freeze baked bread. Let it thaw overnight on the counter and maybe recrisp the crust in the oven when you're ready to eat. I would not freeze the uncooked dough. It's pretty wet and sticky -- I don't see that going well.

Good morning, Food folks. I have been following the GMO debates for some time and came across an article in follow up to the NY Times article re: the funding of GMO experts. The Post's own Tamar Haspel's name came up and I'd be curious if she would speak to the issue re: who pays what for her services (speaking engagements, articles, etc.). My thinking is that as a journalist, there should be no bias (especially funded) but if there is, there should be full disclosure. Thank you in advance. QUOTE REFERENCED: "The Alliance for Science is a PR project and international training center for academics and others who want to work with the biotech industry to promote GMOs. It is funded ($5.6 million) by the Gates Foundation. Its upcoming program of speakers at Cornell for September include Tamar Haspel (Washington Post reporter), Amy Harmon (New York Times reporter) and Prof. Dan Kahan (Yale Law School). These speakers are the exact ones mentioned in a proposal worked out between Kevin Folta and Monsanto in a series of email exchanges intended to enhance biotech outreach. These email exchanges also propose setting up “Ask Me Anything” events to be held at universities around the country with Kevin Folta as of the panelists." This comes from this article, which was in follow up to a NY Times article.

Tamar says:

I'm very glad you asked, since getting a personal website up (which will have a section explaining this in detail) has been on my to-do list for quite some time.


I speak and moderate panels and debates often, and it's work I'm paid for. I have two criteria for accepting that work.  First is that the event has to be consistent with my public mission, which is to have more constructive debates about food issues.  Second is that, if for-profit companies are involved in the event (which they often are), they can't be the only voice.  So, I will speak at a conference co-sponsored by, say, Monsanto and the USDA and NC State University, but not an event sponsored by Monsanto alone. (And I don't take any money, expenses or honoraria, for anything I report on in the Post -- that's their policy.)


What I try to do is get people with very different views in the same room.  And so I was able to moderate a panel on GMO labeling that included a Monsanto scientist and a representative from Just Label It, and a debate between GMO Answers and Ben & Jerry's.  



But I would encourage you to consider the source of the piece you quoted.  Its author, Jonathan Latham, is very invested in the idea that GMOs are bad, and ideology can warp perception just as reliably as money can.  He calls Cornell's Alliance for Science a "PR" arm of the biotech industry when it is, in reality, an academic organization funded by a philanthropy.  Transparency is critical to public discourse, but labeling anyone who believes biotech has something to offer agriculture as an arm of the industry is advocacy run amok. 

Back in the 1970s-1990s, there was a plethora of fantastic Chinese cuisine spots in Chinatown, offering great food at decent prices. Since Chinatown has essentially become Penn Quarter (if I'm not mistaken), and tapas and other eateries around Verizon Center have dominated the area, some of those same Chinese restaurants (or those that replaced the older establishments), haven't had the same palatable quality. If you either agree or disagree, could you recommend some good ones in the DMV, particularly in DC? Thanks!

Yes, Chinatown has been reduced, as the old joke goes, to Chinablock. The Chinese character of the neighborhood has been largely supplanted by chains and more modern chef-driven restaurants like Daikaya and Graffiato.


But places like New Big Wong, a subterranean eatery on H St. NW, still hang in there. I wrote about the place more than two years ago for the $20 Diner. It's still a gem, if you know how to navigate the menu.


If you haven't tried Great Wall on 14th Street NW, I'd also direct you there. Order from the chef's Sichuan ma-la menu, not from the Chinese-American menu.

Scott Drewno of the Source by Wolfgang Puck in the Newseum has debuted (alongside the restaurant's renovation) his revamped Chinese menus in the downstairs lounge and upstairs dining room. I know I'm looking forward to checking them out.

Good morning! I tried making the lentil quinoa bolognese but got really confused by the recipe. It says to cook the lentils and carrots together but then to add the cooked carrots to the food processor... am I supposed to separate the carrots from the lentils by hand? that seems pretty difficult. and then it says to add the uncooked quinoa to the cooked lentils and cook it some more, is that right? sorry for all the questions but I'm excited about this recipe and want to make sure I'm doing it right. thanks!

Good morning! No need for confusion -- you're right on both counts. Just follow that recipe and you'll be good.

It's not hard to add the cooked carrots, which are in with the lentils, to the food processor, because, as noted in the ingredient list, you cut them in large chunks! They're so much bigger than the lentils that it's no biggie to pull them out and put them in the food processor. 

And yes, add the uncooked quinoa, as directed, with wine to the lentils and cook some more. You're doing it just right!

Hope you love it.

Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce

RECIPE: Lentil Quinoa Bolognese Sauce

Sorry if this seems basic, but I've been confused about this for a long time. Is one packet of yeast equal to 2 and 1/4 teaspoons? I feel like it is, but it never really looking like it outside of the package.

Fleischmann's Yeast confirms you are correct! (Assuming you're talking about the standard 1/4-ounce envelopes.)

I want to make Ina Garten's seafood potpie. The recipe calls for one cup of fennel, and one cup of onion. I detest fennel and do not like anything remotely tasting of licorice. Should I increase the amount of onion? Or is it okay to perhaps use chopped celery, garlic and bell pepper? Thanks.

Sure. You might try chopped leeks for their subtle onion flavor. Fennel isn't traditionally in pot pie so you won't miss it at all. 

Any suggestions on what I should do with three large bushes of tarragon and thyme?

For the tarragon, I would take advantage of the glorious weather right now and cook some steaks on the grill, then prepare a classic bearnaise sauce to pair with the beef. Here's a good recipe from Serious Eats.


And how about a thyme-flavored cocktail to go with those steaks? Here's a recipe from the PX's Todd Thrasher.

Three things I like recommending:

1. Make herb butters! Chop them up and mash them into softened butter (use a food processor if you're doing a ton) with salt, and then roll into logs, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. You'll love having this around for sauces, to put on roasted vegetables, and of course, classically, to put on steaks or work under the skin of whole chicken for roasting (if you like that sort of thing, that is...).

2. Make herb salts! 2 cups fresh herb leaves for 1/4 cup kosher salt. Puree in food processor to a paste, then spread out on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and dry in a dehydrator or a REALLY low, low oven. (Or at room temperature if it's not too humid.) Then crumble into jars and sprinkle on any/everything.

3. Treat them like cut flowers! Bring big bouquets in the house and set them around -- you'll love the scent.

Noknowmuch about Boston Food Section, but have been a user of San Franciso Chronicle recipes for a long time. They are good. Almost beating them is quite an achievement in itself, you guys are great.

Thanks much! We were thrilled to win honors from the Association of Food Journalists. Bonnie rocked it.

And just so you know, we've beaten the Chronicle (and the Globe) before -- the awards seem to shift among us and another couple of papers every year. 

ARTICLE: Post wins food journalism awards

I have been invited to two potlucks under the sukkah and since the same neighbors are invited to both, I need ideas of different foods to bring to each. With the chill in the air, I feel I ought to move away from my usual bbq salad sides, and find something a bit more comforting to share.

How about a roasted fall vegetable soup? Cut root vegetables--winter squash, fennel, leeks, potatoes--into small 1-inch pieces and roast at 425 degrees until tender. Deglaze with good stock--chicken or vegetables-- and then put in a pot and simmer for 1 hour. Serve with a parsley pesto.

Do you know anywhere in the U.S. where one can get a rectangular adjustable cake tin like they use on the Great British Bake-Off? I've been googling, but all the results are in the U.K. I thought if anyone might know it would be the experts here. Thanks!

Oh, man, I just caught up with Episode 3 last night and noticed that -- and made a note to myself to try to find it! It's REALLY COOL, isn't it?

Here it is, on a British web site (what's the problem with that? Delivery fee, maybe, eh?), but looks like you can get it from good old Amazon (insert disclaimer about the Post's Bezos ownership here), too.

ESSAY: "The Great British Baking Show": Food Network, take note.

Congratulations to all of you! We knew you were the best.

Aw, shucks.

So I've decided to finally tackle yeast breads in a more formidable way this Fall. I'm great with pizza doughs and cinnamon rolls but I really want a signature roll (like Texas Roadhouse's or Logan's Steakhouse) and a good loaf bread. I'm not trying anything too crazy, but just want a good recipe that I can accomplish in a day or so. Any tips, suggestions? A roll that might stand up to some barbecue would be welcome as well. Thanks!

I read Jane's article on bread and how many breads are made with sponges. Sponges are best used for enriched doughs (challah as an example), where eggs and milk are the liquids, probably you will find fat in there too - butter, oil, etc. Sponges are not best used for lean doughs, sour doughs, and grain doughs, where there are no enrichments from eggs, dairy or fat. Yes a sponge only needs to sit for 45 minutes, but it's leading bakers down a path that conflicts with what bakers have learned over years of experience. The lean doughs work differently since the only flavor comes from the wheat and it's fermentation while rising and the starters (bigas, poolishes and pate ferments). They do take a day or two do age because during that time, the yeast ferments the starter too, creating deep flavor for the dough. No recipe requires the use of the starter, you can simply add all the ingredients minus the yeast into the actual recipe and just mix the dough (but add a bit more yeast than what was called for in the starter in the revision.) The recipe will come out ok, but with less flavor because of less fermentation. Perhaps a visit to Bread Furst to learn about bread making to get a better picture for a more accurate piece.

Hi, Mark! ;-) Thanks for the info and feedback. I don't believe there was anything inaccurate in what Jane wrote in her Chat Leftovers post, really, was there? She was merely pointing someone who wanted an easy way into bread baking to a strategy that at least one accomplished baker and writer has found success with. True artisanal bread baking is a rabbit hole, of course! But if the OP from last week is reading this, consider it an invitation to Bread Furst for training!

I just mixed a batch of cocoa snickerdoodles from Food Network Magazine. I was going to freeze the little dough balls, but accidentally rolled them in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Can I still freeze them and bake from frozen? Do you think it will effect the texture of the final product?

I think you'll be fine!

BTW, if you're a snickerdoodle fan, I can't let the opportunity go without recommending my Cardamom-Brown Sugar Snickerdoodles...

Monday's chickpea pasta recipe looks delicious and I plan to try. I frequently use beans as a sauce for a healthy and tasty alternative to those made with flour and milk or cream. However, that chickpea recipe remnded me of another favorite use for them: in mock tuna salad. While I have a variety of recipes, I'm always looking for more. Suggestions? Thanks!


I don't have a mock tuna recipe on me, no, but we have SO MANY OTHER CHICKPEA RECIPES. It's a favorite ingredient around here!

A few to tempt you (including Monday's, for anyone who didn't see that one):

Rigatoni With Garbanzo Bean Sauce


Spiced Chickpeas and Haricot Vert on Grilled Bread

Matchbox Chickpea Fries

Chickpea Soup With Fried Sauerkraut

Hi Rangers, I will be getting a variety box of Wagyu beef this fall. I know just how delicious the steaks are, but what consideration should I give the "lesser" cuts? Will my slow cook be more tender? Happen faster? Be too fatty? Any suggestions on cooking my $$$ beef to get the most out of it would be appreciated.

Lesser cut generally take to slow cooking--braising--really well. Red wine, leeks, onions and a slow, long cooking will result in really tender beef. Lucky you!

Joe, do you put onion skins in your scrappy vegetable broth? Also, a PSA for DC residents who want to put to good use vegetable scraps that aren't suitable for broth: you can participate in community composting at locations across the city. More information can be found at

I do. And thanks for the composting plug!

Scrappy Vegetable Broth

For virtually my entire life (I'm 62) Parker's Barbecue in Wilson, NC, has been a treasured part of our family's history. If we're driving north or south on I-95, we'll plan our schedule to be there for lunch or dinner. I suppose this means we've passed by any number of other Eastern NC barbecue restaurants that may be every bit as good. Could you give a few names of possible other culinary destinations (and I'm speaking only of Eastern NC pulled pork with vinegar sauce. Brunswick Stew optional.)

     For starters, Skylight Inn in Ayden, Bum's in Ayden, Grady's BBQ in Dudley, and Wilber's in Goldsboro. In late October, the grandson of the Skylight's founder is opening his own place called Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville. Some I've heard good things about but haven't been: Moore's BBQ in New Bern and Jack Cobb & Son in Farmville. Happy travels!

ARTICLE: Why North Carolina's barbecue scene is still smoldering

Hello Foodies! I've been using Argo baking powder for awhile now and love it. Unfortunately I can no longer find it conveniently. I picked up some Clabbergirl and some Rumsford but I keep seeing "aluminum free" and "double acting" on the different cans. Which one is better? I assume I don't want aluminum but Clabbergirl goes back to my youth. Sigh... any suggestions?

Clabber Girl is my standard, but some people go aluminum-free for taste and alleged health reasons (though science doesn't really back this up.) Here's a good post from our friend David Lebovitz on the topic. Pretty much all baking powders you're going to buy here (with aluminum or without), are double-acting, which means they release some gas when exposed to moisture and then again when heated.

I love eating chicken legs, but hate eating around the tendon. Removing them with pliers before cooking was a pain. Any other thought on how to remove these easily? Thanks!

I'm going to assume that the reason you like eating chicken legs is because of the good, juicy dark meat, and not the bone itself. If so, I'd suggest deboning the leg and thigh.


Here's a good, succinct video on how to do so.

Wondering if anyone has been using Amy Chaplin's - at home in the whole food kitchen ? Any outstanding recipes or interesting techniques? I made a few things using beets and quinoa that came out quite tasty, but I am wondering whether I should take her guidance seriously. For example, she insists on using filtered water for cooking, because, she says tap water is not healthy. She lives and cooks in Manhattan, that supposedly has one of the best tap waters in the country. She uses apple cider vinegar a lot, yet she wants it unpasteurized, where am I supposed to find it? She has a recipe for what she calls CASHEW CHEESE. I would love o make it, but one of the four ingredients is 10 capsules of "plain acidophilus powder" which I have in my medicine cabinet. Is this crazy or brilliantly innovative?

I love Amy's book and have made a few great things out of it -- among others, the recipe that will convert any tempeh skeptic!

I'd say, with anything, you can take the pieces of advice that work for you and not the ones that don't. The cashew cheese technique with acidophilus powder is a vegan standby, BTW. And, actually, unpasteurized cider vinegar is easy to find: Look for a brand that says raw/unfiltered. It's pretty common.

RECIPE: Dijon Mustard-Marinated Tempeh

I'd like to add some finely chopped mushrooms to ground chuck to make meatloaf a tad healthier (e.g., less meat per serving). I'd image this would also add moisture. Do I need to make any adjustments to the rest of the proportions to be sure the "loaf" holds its form -- not too loose and not a brick? Any other add ins that might work. I am using the basic Quaker Oats recipe as my base, and probably will add mire poix as well (cooked and cooled).

You need to cook those mushrooms before you add them to the meatloaf, and then you'll be good, I'd think. See this recipe for a basic blend.

For a mom's night in, I would like to make a batch of pink girlie cocktails, but not have to stand around shaking all night. Any suggestion for a pitcher or two of something tasty to share with the girls?

Maybe try pink grapefruit juice, gin or vodka, and a little simple syrup. I would use fresh juice and go for a 3:1 juice:spirit ratio, then sweeten it to taste and hit it with a few dashes of Angostura bitters; maybe class it up by dropping a little sprig of thyme in the pitcher to fragrance the whole mix. You could also top this mixture with a little prosecco if you felt the urge, and serve in flutes with a little thyme sprig in each. 

Clover Clubs are probably a batching challenge because of the egg white factor, but I think you could make a batched version of their cousin, the Clover Leaf. Smack a few sprigs of mint before dropping them into the pitcher and let them infuse for a bit before serving; use a mint sprig in each glass as well. One recipe is here:

Another option, if your group is less sweet-toothed and not afraid of gin: Try batching pink gin. If it's good enough for the Queen Mum ... 

And there's always the good old Cosmo, of course. 

A while back Becky had a write up on how to keep fresh veggies last longer in the fridge. Since then we have never been without celery or Italian Parsley. Last week my ethnic grocery store had fennel for 79 cents a head. I wanted to stock up, but was not sure how to keep it for more than a week. Any advice?

I have found that fennel keeps really well in the refrigerator. Sometimes you may lose the outer leaves but it's a good keeping vegetable. Remember to try it raw, thinly sliced or shaved, with tangerines and toasted nuts. Delicious added to salads, cooked or raw. 

"The New Food Lover's Companion" (seriously, I keep it next to my keyboard for these chats!) suggests tightly wrapping it in a plastic bag and storing in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

2015 Association of Food Journalists conference awards: WaPo Food & Dining Editor Joe Yonan, for tying for 2nd place in best newspaper food coverage; Deputy Food Editor Bonnie S. Benwick for 1st place in best newspaper food feature; and ALL other staff members who received awards: Jim Webster; Tim Carman; Tom Sietsema; M. Carrie Allan; Benwick (her second award!) and Deb Lindsey; Lindsey (another award!), D'Aquino & Amy King; and Maura Judkis, Nicki DeMarco. WAY TO GO, WaPo Food Section writers & photographers! Your audience is proud of you all!!

Thanks so much! It's a good team effort over here!

Why do some recipes have you make, say, a cup of sauce and then tell you to reserve half of it for another use? Is it that the result isn't possible to achieve unless you make that full amount? Or am I safe cutting it down for just what the recipe requires? I almost never end up using the remaining sauce (or whatever) and feel it's a big ol' waste.

There are some sauces--particularly sauces that involve reduction, or simmering a sauce down by half-- that are really hard to achieve without a full recipe. However, most other sauces can easily be cut in half without problems. 

In your listing of BBQ joints across North Carolina, I want to mention Bee's BBQ in Greenville. A completely down home, wonderful joint that deserves a shout out!

    I went there, but just as I was next in line, on a Saturday around 12:30pm, they ran out of barbecue. I was so disappointed because I'd heard such good things. Thanks for mentioning it! Oh, it's B's, btw - on, of course, B's Barbecue Road.

I've tried to make the pudding twice and both times it has not thickened into a pudding. I've followed the receipt EXACTLY and don't know where I went wrong. After the first batch, I thought I didn't cook it long enough when you "cook until the mixture begins to thicken" so I cooked it for over 20 minutes the next time. It never got to "thick" and never required a spatula to push it through the fine-mesh strainer. I used the right amount of arrowroot powder. Can you help me to trouble-shoot this recipe? The resultant "sauce" has tasted wonderful and I'd love to have it as the pudding! Thank you.

Oh, no! Well, Bonnie, who sought out and tested that one, is out today, so she can't trouble-shoot, but she'll be back for next week's chat! If you can't wait that long, email us at, and she can get to it when she's back tomorrow...

I have one of these and I bought the extra inserts so that it's possible to make up to 9 small cakes. If you are going to the expense of getting the basic tin, get the extra inserts as well. I bought this in Britain, after unsuccessful attempts to find a British cake tin here (it needs to have 3 inch high sides). Good luck.

Thanks for the tip!

A while back I had a frittata for breakfast at The Old Ebbitt Grill. They had failed to cook the mushrooms first, which really spoiled my enjoyment - it was wet and had an unpleasant 'mushroom juice' taste that reacted badly with the eggs.

I loved the article on barbecue in NC. I live in Chapel Hill, NC and live within 30 minutes of 5 of the restaurants you listed. I have lived in this area for 16 years but am still learning about what makes good NC barbecue. It is a very happy learning process that involves lots of eating! We also try to grill at home with a Big Green Egg and it is great but still not the same as what is available at a pig pickin' or some restaurants. I enjoyed reading more about the process in the article.

    Don't feel bad. It is harder than people think, making good pork barbecue at home. For one thing, most people don't have a burn barrel to burn the wood to embers or a 12-foot shovel to slide the embers beneath the hog or shoulder. Keep trying, though. As you say, it is a very happy learning process. 

That old stalwart is still very good for what it does.

That's the thing about these old Chinese restaurants that hang on in Chinatown. They serve a tourist trade, but some also have "secret" menus reserved for people who appreciate Chinese regional cooking. It never hurts to ask the server if the kitchen prepares special, off-the-menu dishes. Or look on the wall and see if there are any signs with Chinese logograms. Sometimes those signs will indicate off-the-menu specials. Ask the server to translate for you.

My mother keeps minced garlic in a container (just the garlic), and I see minced garlic in jars for sale at grocery stores. I tried to do the same and stored it with EVOO, but the next day, I saw green, and I feared it was mold. How can I save garlic in the refrigerator?

I hate to be a wet blanket here, but my preference is to just mince fresh garlic as I need it. It won't lose potency and you'll have exactly the right amount. And no storage issues.

I agree with Becky that there's really little reason, IMO, to save pre-chopped garlic. But what's going on here is interesting: Garlic sometimes turns green, in a chemical reaction that isn't mold. (But you should ALWAYS refrigerate garlic in oil, for other safety reasons.)

The Wednesday WaPo Food section and, especially, this fabulous Free Range on Food live online feature are simply spectaculor! My absolute favorites.

Good ole, pit-cooked NC barbecue is a vanishing culinary tradition, like many other foods. It's sad really-- there's another place, not listed in the article, that cooks it old style, too: Short Sugar's in Reidsville NC (since 1949), and it's only 14 miles south of the Virginia state line. Whenever we visit family, we take a cooler and bring back both minced and chopped versions. The green egg smoker just can't replicate true NC barbecue! Thanks for the story!

       Here is what the Southern Foodways Alliance has to say about Short Sugar's. Thanks for the tip!

It seems like a lot of new places are opening up in Tysons; as a returning resident of northern VA (absent for 20 years!!), have you all any particular recommendations there? I have already tried Founding Farmers and that was good but not life-altering. Thanks for taking the time to answer questions today!

How many times do you need your life altered? ;-) Seriously, have you been to Clarity? It's not RIGHT in Tysons, but just a few minutes down the road, and Tom Sietsema gave it 3 stars!

I have been convinced by Michael Schlow's "it's About Time" to use low oven temperature. I get the best tasting chicken drumsticks I've ever made. The aromas from the oven tell me when it is time to test the temperature and my trusty perfectly calibrated Super Fast Thermapen tells me when it is time to get the drumsticks out. 165-170 degrees. They look great because I dredge them in a seasoning rub with coffee, garlic and smoked paprika. They taste great. BUT! If I cut into the drumstick about an hour or two later there is definite redness around the bone. Is it safe to eat? I use organic chicken that has considerably less fat than "natural" chicken, cooking it longer dries my drumsticks. Any thoughts? Advice?

I think it's safe. See this post about the phenomenon -- younger chickens with more porous bones that leak marrow when cooked.

I love BBQ but just don't have the time to tend to a cooking process that can take 18 hours. I also don't have a wood fired cooker unless it can be done in a weber kettle. Is there anyway I can get close to the taste - I know it won't be the same - without spending all the time I don't have?

      This will get you close (depending on how we define close): pork butt about 6 or so pounds. Charcoal at about 250 degrees, with a cup of oak or other mild hardwood chips. Cook about an hour per pound. Add charcoal and chips as needed, about every hour. Use either a favorite rub or, better still, do what they do in  a lot of NC bbq joints - just salt the  meat before you put it on the grill, then chop, then sprinkle a little sauce, either eastern or western style, and mix together. 

For the poster who makes more bread than two people can eat, have you thought of swapping with someone else? I'd gladly make soup or salad in exchange for homemade bread. I'm eating homemade soup for lunch as I write this, and I'm long for a slice of bread to go with it.

Such a good idea. Next fall I have a book coming out about getting together with friends/colleagues and sharing soup (everyone makes a pot of soup and everyone goes home with a variety of leftovers rather than one pot to live on all week!). It's called Soup Swap (Chronicle Books, 2016) and you are on  to the basic idea behind sharing food and building community. 

and so thankful for the recipes! I'm a fan of omnivoresalt-it's almost time to place an order. everyone should take a moment to click on the link you provided and check out the site and his few products and read more about him.

Thanks. He is a wonderful guy. All his recipes are delicious. I adore the broccoli rabe cakes. Easy and so delicious you can build a whole mid week dinner around them with a good salad.

RECIPE: Broccoli Rabe Cakes

ARTICLE: I ate lunch with a legendary Sicilian cook and didn't even know it

I always use Rumford's 'cause that's what I've always used. In the '70s, I had a neighbor who was about 95 years old. In his youth, he was a traveling salesman who went "out west" (the mid-west) to sell a brand new product, baking powder. He told me about seeing Buffalo Bill's wild west show.

Not sure if the OP has tried this recipe, but I love this riff from Oh She Glows.

Joe, in your Jan. recipe for Dijon Mustard-Marinated Tempeh, do you thin I could substitute firm tofu for the tempeh?? Great online chat today!

It wouldn't be bad, I'm sure, but honestly, you should try it with tempeh sometime. It's amazing.

Jim:I recently bought half a forest-raised pig from a nearby farmer. Is there anything special I should do to smoke the fresh ham? I've done shoulder, but have never before smoked a fresh ham. I am worried that the ham might be dry because, well, it's not a shoulder. I plan to brine it first.

      I like that you are brining. You're right, smoked ham can turn out a bit dry. Also, it can lack flavor. Brining should take care of both of those problems. Other than that, smoke as you would a shoulder.

We're having people over in November. I know it's early but our Fall gets very busy. I'm looking for easy foods to prepare to go with mini pulled bbq chicken sandwiches, brisket sandwiches, tiny mushroom, leek and prosciutto pizzas and a few desserts. Do you have any side suggestions that can be portable or on small plates?

I almost forgot to submit this question to Dave McIntyre re: today's wine-book reviews. The Robinson book is pricey, but I'll sometimes see an older copy at a library sale for very little money. I hold off, thinking that newer wine regions aren't covered in those older editions, lessening their value. But I'm curious as to how updated editions of established wine tomes treat more established wine regions. Is there anything much new to say about Old World wines in those updated editions? If so, that would further incent me to purchase new editions of those books, but if not, I might be inclined to grab one for my bookshelf, just for the wealth of knowledge presented on well-known wine regions that don't change much year to year.

I'm afraid we won't have time to hear back from Dave on this -- but we'll try to post his answer next week!

Mmmm boy do these sound yummy. We have a nut allergy in our family though. Can we exchange oatmeal for the pecans in a 1:1 ratio?

Whole-Grain Apple Crumb MuffinsRECIPE: Whole-Grain Apple Crumb Muffins

We never heard back from Ellie, but that sounds like a fine substitution to me!

How bout pumpkin seeds?

Great article today on NC barbecue! The article makes the point that authentic NC barbecue is minimalist- chopped whole hog - no ribs ("...inclusion of ribs (not traditional in old-line barbecue joints)...), no brisket, presumably no chicken or quinoa. The traditional preparation, the article points out, is a pit master tending to whole hogs slow smoking over hardwood coals all night. So - what happens to the ribs in the whole hog? Why aren't ribs considered part of the traditional offering in old-line barbecue joints?

  Whole hog: when you pull the meat, it comes off the bone. The texture of the rib meat is not like that of a smoked rack of ribs. It's softer. You mix all the hog's meat together to get a more complex flavor and texture. For shoulder, there are no ribs, of course. 

Well, you've transferred us to paper-towel-lined plates to drain, so you know what that means -- we're done!

Thanks for the great q's today, and thanks to Jim, Kathy and Carrie for helping with the a's. Now for the giveaway books: The chatter who asked about recipes that tell you to reserve half of a sauce will get "Silver Spoon Quick and Easy Italian Recipes." The one who led with "I love BBQ but just don't have the time" will get "Grill Nation." Send your mailing info to and she'll get you your book!

Until next time, happy cooking, eating and reading!

In This Chat
Joe Yonan
Joe Yonan is the Food and Dining editor of The Post and the author of "Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook." He writes the Weeknight Vegetarian column.
Carrie Allan
M. Carrie Allan is The Post's Spirits columnist.
Tim Carman
Tim Carman is a food staff writer at The Post. He writes the weekly $20 Diner column.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is a staff food writer.
Jim Shahin
Jim Shahin writes the monthly Smoke Signals column on barbecue.
Kathy Gunst
Kathy Gunst, who lives in South Berwick, Maine, is the author of 14 cookbooks, including "Notes From a Maine Kitchen," and is the resident chef on NPR’s "Here and Now."
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