Should you ever find yourself in Savannah, GA, have at least one meal at Blowin’ Smoke Southern Cantina . My palate has had the pleasure of dining at Blowin’ Smoke twice. I was with my family on both occasions. We were sure to select a variety of menu items in order to sample as much as possible. Savannah is a long day’s drive from our home, so feasting at Blowin’ Smoke will not be a regular occurrence (our daughter is attending college in Savannah, so at the least, we will be able to eat at Blowin’ Smoke when we visit).
The menu had a few changes from our first visit in July to our next a week ago. We were not disappointed in the changes. However, one side item we enjoyed on visit #1 was the Fried Macaroni-n-Cheese. It was switched out for Chipotle Mac-n-Cheese, equally tasty. The Fried Mac-n-Cheese was perfection the night we had a taste; however, our accolades were not enough to keep it on the menu. The Chipotle Mac-n-Cheese is a worthy replacement. The thick, creamy, spicy cheese sauce clings to long, firm, curly noodles. No runny sauce left on the bottom of the bowl! The spicy chipotle provides just enough heat to complement the mildness of the cheese. Other sides we sampled: coleslaw, roasted corn salad, sweet potato salad, spanish rice, black beans. If you like bland food, don’t order any of these menu items. Flavor reigns at Blowin’ Smoke. Each is sweet and savory with a bit of spice to liven up your taste buds.
Other menu items include appetizers, salads, tacos, burritos, sandwiches and plates (these come with 2 sides). Quesadillas, listed under appetizers, are big enough for a meal. My younger daughter had the basic quesadilla filled with grilled onions and peppers, pico de gallo, rice, black beans, sour cream and queso. Delicious. You can add one of 5 proteins offered to fill it out even more.
Over our 2 visits, the rest of us sampled chicken, pork and brisket entrees. All three meats are smoked in-house using pecan wood. The hand-pulled pork sandwich is topped with coleslaw and fried onions; the smoked pork enchilada is covered with ancho mole sauce and queso. The pork is tender, juicy and full of flavor all on its own. The fully loaded burrito is bursting with black beans, rice, pico de gallo, peppers, queso and smothered with chipotle sauce. My daughter added the smoked chicken, equally flavorful, tender and juicy as the pork. Brisket is a difficult meat to smoke (or cook for that matter). It takes many hours and lots of liquid to get it tender and keep it from drying out. Blowin’ Smoke has it figured out. The brisket just about melts in your mouth! We had the brisket finished with the house BBQ sauce. It was perfect for the beef. The texture is similar to that of apple butter with a sweet start and a lingering spicy finish.
Our first experience at Blowin’ Smoke ended with fried ice cream and the dessert special, Chocolate Coffee Flan. I think the CCF should be on the menu all the time! Dessert on our second visit was the special, Maragarita Cheesecake. Rich and creamy, similar to key lime but with a hint of saltiness and tequila. All of these desserts were topped with lightly whipped fresh cream. Delicioso!
At Blowin’ Smoke, they ain’t just blowin’ smoke!
Last year (almost a year to the day I find), I posted Smokin’ Chick’s Beef Brisket. I smoked another one recently-my husband says it was the best brisket he’s ever had! He said the same thing last time. I guess I’m 2 for 2 on brisket.
Some people are intimidated by a brisket or any cut of beef that is known to be tough. Low and slow with plenty of moisture is the way to cook those cuts. My brisket was 8.33 pounds. It was smoked on the grill just under 3 1/2 hours, then in the crock pot on low for another 8 or 9 hours. It pulled apart quite easily and was very moist. The rub gave it a nice coating and flavor that required no sauce (but I use sauce anyway). If you don’t want it pulled, make sure you slice the meat against the grain and not with it.
For the rub you will need: allspice, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard and ground ginger. Place the brisket over 2 sheets of plastic wrap, layered over each other at right angles. I just sprinkled the spices over both sides of the brisket liberally and rubbed them in. Wrap the brisket tightly and refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.
Pull the meat out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grill time, to relax the muscle fibers. Prepare the coals and soak the wood you will be using for the smoke. I used apple wood chips (I purchase the wood chips from Lowe’s if I don’t have any oak or cherry wood chunks from the trees on our property).
When the coals are hot, sear each side of the brisket 3-4 minutes to seal in the brisket’s natural moisture. Opposite the coals, on the coal grate, place a foil pan filled with a liquid. For this brisket, I used cranberry juice. Once it is seared, move the brisket to the opposite side, fat side up, add more coals to the main pile and close the lid.
The temperature peaked at 325 degrees F. I had all vents on the lid and the kettle wide open. If the temperature gets above 325, adjust the vents to regulate the temperature. The more open the vents, the more oxygen and air flow gets to the coals. Closing the vents a bit will decrease the oxygen and air flow, thus decreasing the temperature. Once the temperature dropped below 250, I took the brisket off and wrapped it in foil to further cook and then cool.
I was saving the brisket for a later time, so it went in the freezer for a couple of days. I took it out the day before I was putting it in the crock pot to thaw in the refrigerator. For the crock pot, I kept the brisket in the foil, opening it, but forming a bowl from the foil. I poured enough water around the bowl to provide enough moisture for a lengthy time in the crock pot, but not so much it would get into the foil bowl. I did not want to take my brisket for a swim! The brisket slow cooked between 8 and 9 hours.
Until next time, Grill, Baby, Grill!
This was the best brisket I have ever prepared! It had just the right amount of smoke flavor and was very tender. My husband even said it was the best.
You need to start this the night before you plan to smoke/grill the brisket, so be ready. No running to the store at the last minute for this one. When choosing your brisket, make sure you get one with good marbling and a layer of fat on one side.
For the night-before prep, you will need: Plastic wrap, a shallow baking dish or plate (for any leakage), ground allspice, onion and garlic powders, fresh cracked black pepper and coriander. Place long sheets of plastic wrap on the counter, layered at right angles (as a cross). Place the brisket on the center. Sprinkle each side liberally with all of the seasonings (garlic-not so liberally if you don’t like a lot of garlic-my hubby doesn’t). Bring the sides up, wrapping very tightly. Place in the shallow dish or plate and put in the refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.
Plan to have the brisket on the grill at least 2 hours, not counting searing time. Mine was on 2 1/2 hours after searing. When I am going to smoke something, I always keep my plans for that day to a bare minimum. I generally use the time when I’m not actively involved to relax on the deck.
Prepare your grill for an indirect fire. I actually used a charcoal chimney to get the coals started. I have found that if the day is still, the chimney is basically ineffective. I have only used it when we have at least a little breeze. That breeze is needed to draw air through the chimney and get all of the coals burning. Also put your wood chips or pieces in water at this point. You want to make sure they don’t burn up too soon and you lose smoking time!
Remove the brisket from the refrigerator just before you start the coals. It will take 20-30 minutes for the coals to be ready which is just enought time for the brisket to warm-up a bit and relax.
Just before you put the grate on the grill, you will need to put your foil pan opposite the coals. You want to make sure you have plenty of liquid during the smoking process to keep the meat from drying out. I used a 12 ounce lager and water to fill up the rest of the pan. Sear the meat on all sides. All sides means ALL sides. You want to seal in all the moisture that you can in the piece of meat. 4 minutes each side was plenty of time to sear the meat adequately. Some sides took a bit less time. Once the meat is seared, move it over the pan. Add 6-8 coals and the water soaked wood.
The lid is on and now I can relax for while. I insert a meat thermometer in the vent of the lid to monitor the temperature. I’m not too concerned about the initial temperature. I am watching for the temperature to drop to about 220 degrees or 215. At that point, I will take the meat off. Until then, the lid stays on.
On the left, is the finished brisket. It looks tough, but it is moist and fork-tender. Immediately wrap the brisket in foil. Let it rest 20-30 minutes if you are going to slice it up right away. Make sure you slice AGAINST the grain for maximun tenderness. I let mine cool and put it in the fridge for the crock pot the next day, Memorial Day. We had activities away from home, and this was our treat when we came home. It spent about 8 hours on low in the crock pot. I opened the foil, exposing the brisket, but left it up on the sides to create a bowl. I added water nearly to the top of the bowl. I didn’t want to dry out the brisket and be left with a piece of cardboard or worse!