Ben Franklin here (Ben) and yes, that's my real name -- at least part of it. I'm a North Carolina boy who got too danged much education (according to Ben Sr. anyhow) and wound up in the consulting business in Chicago after chasing around the world with some big food & bev companies. Hoping to get back to my farm in the NC mountains soon and start churning out log and historic furniture for a living and quit this mess -- but gotta get those last college tuition bills paid first. I'm sure plenty of you know what I mean.
I'm a little late with the "howdy, how y'all doin's?" so let me start by first thanking Jeff for the great recipes (love the rub & sauce Jeff), the newsletter and the forum.
Next thing is to thank all of you who weighed in on the forum post I cranked out a couple of weeks ago on trading up from my MES 30. I finally settled in on a Li'l Tex Elite and will get the first test this weekend when I do the Easter ham for the wife's family. 16 folks so wish me luck! I'll also throw on a couple of Jeff's bacon wrapped breasts for the non-porkers and some pork shanks (ham hocks where I come from) for my German pa-in-law. Gonna try adapting Jeff's lamb shank cook to the ham hocks and see how it goes. Love to have any advice anyone can offer on that.
I started cooking pigs in the ground in NC in college and really haven't ever looked back. We have 4' x 10' cinder block cooking pits at the hunting club in GA (if it moves, I hunt it) and the wild hogs sure do look a lot better coming out of the pit than they do coming out of the pine thicket! I've got a 3' x 5' double propane fired grill / cooker at the farm in WNC that my brother-in-law built for me. Took pity on me after watching me chase 3 Webers at a time when trying to feed the family reunion crew every year. I'm hoping to build a real pit and outdoor kitchen down there if I survive the Chicago rat race long enough to get the time.
I missed smoking so bad that I added a MES 30 to my Weber Genesis on the town house patio last year and my wife, relatives and neighbors all went crazy. You would think I was serving manna from heaven. But I never got the wood chip box to perform the way I wanted it to, so shipped that one off to the farm last Christmas and just bought the Li'l Tex to use up here. Thanks to this forum, I also learned about the AMAZEN smoker box and using it in the MES. Ordered one last week and can't wait to see how that works out next time I'm at the farm.
My wife, son and I all hunt, and we process all our own game, so in addition to the Weber Genesis and the assorted smokers, we use a small electric grinder / sausage stuffer and there's a turkey fryer / fish cooker in every spot we cook. I'm a huge cast iron fan and am lucky enough to have some of my grandma's original stuff in the cabin at the farm -- and her wood stove to go with it. Makes for some great hunter stews in the winter and warms up the kitchen to boot.
Well, the last thing I don't have to tell you is that I'm long-winded and love to exchange stories and ideas with folks. If you folks ever get lost in O'Hare Airport just fire out a text message or an email -- I'm probably in there heading somewhere and I'll gladly buy you a beer.