Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Smoking Wood Test: Cherry

This s another smoking 

Doing the usual mix of meats:
  • Chicken legs
  • pork country rib
  • tilapia fillet
  • beef patties
  • salmon fillet
  • white potato, halved
There is no seasoning other than some oil to promote moistness.

Weather 36° and rain has stopped but it remains cloudy. Wind is light at 7 mph.
Firewood Briquettes and chunks of Cherry wood.I did add a couple cups of water to the water pan.
1:07 PM Hot coals on a modified Minion lay.
1:22 160° Time to put meat on!
1:46 157°/36° Temp recovering after opening to put meat on.
2:26 205°/37° Raining now - just a light drizzle but apparently enough to keep a lid on temps. It seems like there is no need to close down the bottom vent at all.
2:35 212°/37° Fish gotta be done - burgers too, so everything off the top grate. Meat probe put in the pork too. And the now waterless water pan was sizzling right along so I cut down the bottom vent to about 1/2.
3:00 206°/152°
3:30 205°/154° Time to open up the bottom vent a bit? I think so! Stirred the coals about too
4:13 248°/177° Coming along nicely. At 180° the chicken. pork and spuds will come off.
4:30 248°/182° Meat and spuds off! And it sure does smell good in the kitchen!

Here are our initial taste test impressions:

  • Chicken legs - nice subtle flavor
  • pork country rib - nice subtle flavor
  • tilapia fillet - very nice flavor
  • beef patties - subtle
  • salmon fillet - very nice flavor
  • white potato, halved - very nice flavor

Overall, the cherry was not a strong flavor but complements fish and potato very well. Both salmon and tilapia were very good. With beef and pork the flavor was good but more subtle.

I tried something a little different this time. I went with tables to format the running notes for the smoke. In a formatted document I use hanging indents but I cannot see how to do that in HTML.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Smoking Wood Test: Lilac

Today I'm going to do one of my first smoking wood tests. The general idea is to try out a bunch of different meats using no seasoning and a single type of smoking wood. We'll try some of the meat when it is done and freeze some for later side by side comparison taste tests. I hope to learn what flavors different woods impart to the various foods to help me select what I use for future smokes. I have a collection of meats frozen that I'll use for future tests.

Meat - Pork (country ribs), beef (patties), chicken (legs), fish (tilapia, salmon.) Seasoning is limited to some oil rubbed on the meat. I also sliced a couple small spuds in half to smoke as well.

Fire: Briquettes with some chunks of lilac. Modified Minion lay. 2 Cups of water in the water bowl. Starting out with top and bottom vents wide open. I also have a new can/ash guard in the bottom under the fire grate. I got a smaller can that just covers the holes and reaches to just below the grill. It should provide maximum volume to catch ash w/out blocking air to the fire.

Weather: 37° and windy, but the rain has quit. Wind is howling at near 20 mph. Good thing the mini-WSM is tight!

4:20 PM Lit coals on the fire.

4:33 158° Meat on! Pork, chicken and spuds on the bottom. Fish and beef on top.
4:57 161° Ordinarily the mini-WSM reads lower than I would expect based on the progress of the food. I've never understood why.

5:10 170° Peeked in and tilapia looks done. I'll leave it on a bit longer to absorb a bit more smoke. It didn't look dry at all.

5:20 177° Tilapia and salmon off. Both tasty, of course.

5:40 207° Beef off - patties are slightly shrunken so they must be done enough. I can hear drippings sizzling in the water pan so I close the bottom vent about 1/2.

5:51 215° Despite the air reduction and howling wind temp is recovering quickly!

6:00 229°

6:15 239° Meat probe inserted in pork. Pork still looks light but the chicken legs are taking on a lovely golden color. But the skins are not yet pulling back on the end.

6:17 241°/162° Closed bottom vent a bit more. It's between 1/3 and 1/4 open.

6:37 236°/164°

6:53 235°/174°

7:15 231°/184° Time to take the chicken and pork off. It must be done by now.

Initial response - lilac smoke is subtle with a slightly sour flavor. The fish and pork were all good. Beef too. Chicken seemed to pick up the least flavor.

Half the results were bagged and frozen for later comparison taste tests.

I like to smoke my food

It started with a Weber Smoky Mountain a couple years ago. No, actually with a Weber Kettle that we received for a wedding present many years ago. I didn't even use that Weber for several years until one day I decided to have a go at making some baby back ribs. They came out so good I regretted not having made use of this present from day one. I still have that kettle. To it I've added a larger one (22 1/2") , a Smoky Joe, a small Weber Smoky Mountain (18 1/2") and a Weber Performer. Our patio is getting a little crowded. :D

The Weber Smoky Mountain WSM has definitely taken me to a new level. It really works well for charcoal based smoking. If it has a drawback, it is that it is fairly large. I'm cooking for two mostly and the WSM works well for about 15-20 lb of meat. I also started collecting various woods with which to flavor the smoke. I wanted to try them out, but not on 20 lb of meat.

My next adventure in smoking was to modify my Smoky Joe into a miniature WSM by using a large aluminum pot as a middle section. It was modified by removing the bottom and adding supports for grills and a water bowl. My original goal was to use that for smoking wood tests but I found it also useful for smoking smaller portions appropriate for a couple people.

Here's what it looks like in action.

In the past I've always logged my smokes on my PC. That's convenient, but I thought I'd have a go at logging via a blog, so here goes!